It was Saturday at the heavily trafficked corner of Route 59 and Middletown Road in Nanuet, NY. On the Northwest corner stood a group of approximately 20 protesters, carrying signs demanding an end to the war in Iraq. On the Northeast corner were two counter demonstrators carrying three American flags and a sign supporting President Bush. On the Southeast corner, a barely perceptible sign said "Final Days" It was a macabre scene. However, upon closer examination, the words "Final Days" were proceeded by a sentence that a furniture store was going out of business....and the sale was in its final days. Whew! What a relief. I guess all this "end times" stuff is starting to get to me. Unless, of course, the sign was, in actuality, a sign of things to come. Maybe the furniture store is the first to go and the rest of us will follow. Today, Finklestein's Fine Furniture....tomorrow the world. The Lord works in mysterious ways.
I was a placard carrying member of the peace brigade. Our signs were varied and provocative....encompassing such eye catchers as " Patriots for Peace" and "Bush Lies.....Soldiers Die."
One sign read "Honk for Peace." The intersection was alive with a chorus of cars responding to the request. Most of the autos were friendly to our protesters. People held up fingers in the form of the peace sign as their hands hit their horns. On the flip side, all puns intended, a passing driver held up his middle finger imparting a different message. You had to hand it to this guy. He had managed to put both middle fingers in the air and yet, the car continued going straight on the busy thoroughfare. A man with such a keen driving skill should not be wasting his talent in Rockland County. He would be better served driving a Humvee in Iraq.
One driver bellowed "Why don't you get out of my country!!!" This had, indeed, become an auspicious occasion. Right here, in quiet little Rockland County, the "owner of the country" was driving past our demonstration. I had always wondered who owned this country and I must say that I was a bit disappointed by the gentleman's lack of hospitality. On second thought, in light of the county's current behavior, it was logical that the owner of the United States would not be wheeling a "Welcome Wagon".
Operation Iraqi Freedom. It sounds almost medical. We have gone to Iraq to remove extraneous people and body parts. Once we have depleted your resources ..........we will help you conduct the same democratic elections that were held in the USA. Perhaps Mr. Diebold will even install touch screen voting booths so that your landscape won't be littered with an unsightly paper trail. Save the Iraqi trees.
Perhaps the news has traveled to Iraq about our exemplary election. Our President, George W Bush, is so popular that the votes outnumbered the voters. I guess "vote early and vote often" was taken literally. And how about those "exit polls?" (Based on the exit polls, Mr. Bush should have received 213 electoral votes to Mr. Kerry's 311)
The Internet is abuzz with stories about voter fraud. "Voter fraud?" In America?. That's not setting a good example for our brothers in the Middle East. After all, they attacked us because they hated our freedom. Or did we attack them because of their weapons of mass destruction? Pardon my digression..........I have trouble following the script.
Apparently, voter fraud is the latest craze. Have you been reading about the election in the Ukraine?
"Fundamental flaws in Ukraine's presidential election process subverted its legitimacy," the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, sponsored by the Democratic Party in the United States, declared in its preliminary report. The institute, cited "systematic intimidation, overt manipulation and blatant fraud" that were "designed to achieve a specific outcome irrespective of the will of the people."
-- New York Times
Is that like the inconsistency of official election results and exit polls in the USA? Is that like the intimidation of minority voters in Florida and Ohio? Is that like the failure to count two million ballots cast......... half by African-American voters ?
In sharp contrast to our election, hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Kiev to protest the election in the Ukraine.
An Associated Press article, dated November 28, 2004, stated that President Leonid Kuchma called on opposition demonstrators to end their four day blockade of government buildings, saying compromise was needed to solve the political crisis that has engulfed the Ukraine since its disputed presidential vote.
Western-leaning opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko, who claims he was cheated out of victory in the November 21 run-off election, is demanding a new vote. " Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators have jammed Kiev for a week to support him."
Alexander Cockburn, editor of Counterpunch, has dismissed the idea that the U.S election was stolen. He wrote, and I quote, "The 911 nuts have relocated to stolen elections. My inbox is awash with their ravings."
Perhaps your inbox is not all that needs washing, Mr.Cockburn.
In the United States, cries of election fraud are still in their infancy. "Get over it" is something I have heard, on more than one occasion, when I mentioned the anomalies of the Bush victory. And yet, an ever growing number of people are beginning to "get it." Even in the sanitized world of the mainstream media, the sounds of silence are being replaced with cries of "election fraud."
"This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress." ~ Frederick Douglass, 1857
Waiting (For Godot?) (November 19, 2004)
"What can we do, " has become the bonus question on the test of life. Answer this one correctly, and fix the universe. Answer this one and make sense of the senseless.
Perhaps someone will come and help us. Is Jesus coming back? Was he here before? Will he rapture all the believers and leave the rest of the population to choke on nuclear waste? ("nucular?)
Something has gone wrong. It did not start on September 11, 2001, it merely reached a crescendo. And, in the three years since that tragic event there are ever increasing numbers of people with shoulders stooping under the weight of an overwhelming sense of despair. Some ask if things will get worse. Some already know the answer.
On November 22, 1963, John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated. Was it a "lone gunman" gone trigger happy in a Book Depository? Was there a magical bullet that caused 7 wounds...two to Kennedy and five to Governor Connally. Son of a gun ...this bullet paused 1.6 seconds in midair before entering Connally. After entering and reentering the two men, this mischievous little critter wound up in tact on a stretcher in Parkland Hospital. It's got to be true because I read it in the The Warren Commission ( Bulletcrap ).
After the assassination of JFK, Lyndon Baines Johnson stepped to the plate. Forty days after burying Kennedy, Johnson signed National Security action Memo 273, which reversed Kennedy's Vietnam withdrawal policy and began the worst war in this country. (or so it appeared at the time) Perhaps, the worst war in this country is the one we are presently fighting. Perhaps the worst war in this country is the one we are about to fight Or maybe, the one after that. We are slaughtering people because "terrorists" flew planes into the World Trade Center and killed 3,000 of our people. Doesn't that make you mad enough to bomb every country with oil?
"Stop sending me those pictures from Fallujah....they are awful." People return my email with notes of annoyance. Too awful to view? I am sorry I have intruded upon your balmy evening with a realitygram. Close your eyes and you can pretend that innocents are not having their inners blown out. Don't look at those little children ...deformed and decapitated Don't look into the eyes of that mother who weeps for the loss of her beloved .....you might find yourself weeping along with her. "What's on HBO?"
What can we do? Maybe the answer is a resounding "nothing." Perhaps we have already done it. Perhaps we did nothing while our country incrementally slipped away from ethics and principles and compassion. Perhaps we did nothing while soulless, gutless, less than humans took charge of our food, our air, our minds, our lives and our souls.
The drama is not over. It's intermission time and as we relax, puffing contentedly on the cigarette of complacency, we try to forget.
Well I'm standing by a river
But the water doesn't flow
It boils with every poison you can think of
And I'm underneath the streetlight
But the light of joy I know
Scared beyond belief way down in the shadows
And the perverted fear of violence
Chokes the smile on every face
And common sense is ringing out the bell
This ain't no technological breakdown
Oh no, this is the road to hell
And all the roads jam up with credit
And there's nothing you can do
It's all just bits of paper flying away from you
Oh look out world, take a good look
What comes down here
You must learn this lesson fast and learn it well
This ain't no upwardly mobile freeway
Oh no, this is the road
Said this is the road
This is the road to hell
Chris Rea The Road to Hell part 2
Happy Thanks- (for what?) giving (November 9, 2004)
Now there's a phrase that sounds good. It's a feel good phrase too. I've been appreciated....smile.
Hold on a minute....was that gratitude or attitude? Did I detect a note of sarcasm in that last phrase? Inflection is very important.
Teach your child to be polite. Wind him up and send him into the world of manners. He'll leave a trail of warm fuzzies wherever he goest.
Don't get me wrong. I love to hear "thank you" and, even more, I love to say it. But, most of all, I love to mean it. In order to mean it, I mean really mean it, I have to know its meaning..
On the fourth Thursday of each November in the U.S , families gather together. Some..... to give the Lord Blessings; others....to enjoy a secular ritual over a Turkey surrounded by holiday accouterments.
Food abounds and forks make many trips to the serving platters. A common phenomenon, at Thanksgiving time, is for people to stuff more than the turkey.
"I am so full I cannot eat another bite"
This moment of satiety lasts as long as it takes for the dessert to exit the kitchen.
"Maybe I'll try some pumpkin pie." "Ah...hot apple pie. Put a little ice cream on that, please"
Gobbling a Turkey is an American tradition. Lying there with its legs up in the air, the turkey has become a celebratory centerpiece.
"Who will carve the bird?"
Carving has been elevated to an art form. The slices should be juicy and thin. Once perfectly formed, they are put on board the gravy boat.
Conversation presents a challenge. Nobody wanted to sit next to Uncle Mike, with his combination of chewing while spitting food. He seems to be the only one at the table who is unaware of the bits of turkey that fly through his teeth as he entertains everyone with the same story he told last year.
"Is it the Tryptophan, or am I growing sleepy?"
Bob and Betty haven't spoken for years, yet each Thanksgiving they find themselves sentenced to Mom's prison table.
"Please, be nice....do it for me" It's only once a year.
And, eventually, " this too shall pass, " as arms reach into sleeves, and coats hop on backs.
"Goodnight and thank you"
Thank you? There's that phrase again.
Thanks (giving). What is this holiday and why has it become an American tradition?
When I was in Elementary School, my teachers told me the story of Thanksgiving. It was a heartwarming story indeed. The Pilgrims had come to this new world, America, and found the place inhabited by Indians.
"Hi Chief, nice to meet you" "I'd like to invite you to dine with us"
In 1621, near the end of the Plymouth Colony's first year in America, the settlers gave thanks for a plentiful harvest. They joyously invited their new friends, the Indians, to share in their good fortune. The Pilgrims and the natives dined together.
"Pass the stuffing, Squanto"
The Pilgrims arranged something called a "peace turkey" and everyone feasted on geese, ducks, deer, corn, oysters, fish and berries. And....they lived happily after.
I am afraid that the teacher had taught me the expurgated version. Her first Thanksgiving might've appeared on a Hallmark card, but not in the early United States. The teacher did not mention the many subsequent Thanksgivings during which the Pilgrims gave "thanks" for their victories over the indigenous people.
In Mitchel Cohen's piece called "Why I Hate Thanksgiving" he draws upon the writings of Historian, Howard Zinn, to describe how Columbus massacred the Indians.
Columbus had written:
"The Indians are so naive and so free with their possessions that no one who has not witnessed them would believe it. When you ask for something they have, they never say no. To the contrary, they offer to share with anyone."
Columbus concluded his report by asking for a little help from the King and Queen, and, in return he would bring them "as much gold as they need, and as many slaves as they ask."
Slaves? Gold? My mind traveled back to the childlike sketches I'd made of the Nina the Pinta and the Santa Maria as my second grade teacher entertained us with stories about Chris the Courageous. Why had I not been taught about Christopher the Cruel? Christopher the cold blooded?
Mitchell Cohen continued , "Columbus's men murdered more than 100,000 Indians on Haiti alone. Overall, dying as slaves in the mines, or directly murdered, or from diseases brought to the Caribbean by the Spaniards, over 3 million Indian people were murdered between 1494 and 1508. "
Is this any way to say "Hi?"
The stage was set for the Thanksgivings that followed.
"Three hundred thousand Indians were murdered in New England by the Puritan elite who wanted the war, a war for land, for gold, for power. And, in the end, the Indian population of 10 million that was in North America when Columbus came was reduced to less than one million. "
The practice known as "scalping" was introduced by the English..
Had it not been for the humanity of the Indigenous people, the Pilgrims would not have survived that first difficult year. The Indians brought them deer meat and beaver skins. They taught them the skills they needed to survive on the land. They taught them how to navigate the waters, fish and cultivate vegetables. They told the Pilgrims which were the poisonous plants and showed how other plants could be used as medicines. They treated the Pilgrims with dignity and kindness. And how were they "thanked?" Not at the party table passing the "peace turkey" (unless "massacre" means "thank you" in Pilgrimese")
It's November again and people have begun planning this years festivities. The day before Thanksgiving is the biggest travel day in this country. And while people are flying to see their loved ones (and not so loved ones) do they ever think about the real meaning of this holiday? Or are they content to remain in second grade with myths and distortions protecting them from the "difficult to stomach" truths. While they busily make their reservations, do they wonder how this holiday is experienced on the Indian Reservations? While they are busy defining the word gluttony, do they consider if the Native Americans of this land have enough to eat?
Thank you is a beautiful phrase. I feel it each and every day.
Today I am alive, and Mother Earth has cradled me in her arms. I have wonderful, caring friends and family and an opportunity to make a difference, personally and professionally.
Do I want to pull the plug on the Turkey Dinner? Not really. Do I want to storm off the computer with my "Why I hate Thanksgiving Part 2" No, not at all. What I would like is to redefine this holiday and, in doing so, reserve my thanks for places more appropriate and not weighted down with the symbolism of cruelty and suffering.
The bloody history of Thanksgiving is incompatible with the simple and honest gesture of giving thanks.
A Trip to the Stupormarket (November 7, 2004)
Another day in paradise. I awaken early in an effort to carpe diem. The election is over and it is time to turn my attention to the more mundane aspects of my life.......food.
Preparing to leave my domicile, I could brush my teeth with fluoride, rinse with cryptosporidium, have a bowl of cereal with a huge glass of cow secretions, throw my cell phone in my bag and head out to the supermarket. However, I am making the supreme effort to stay alive for another day. A gust of poor air quality slaps my face, as I open the front door.
Necessity has caught me in a trap.. There is no food in the house and the only 24 hour store is the A&P. At least it is early morning, a time when I am alone with the checkout people. There is no romantic motive, though the object is "in and out"
Why do supermarkets greet you with their produce? Do they think that the pink tomatoes and the white lettuce will lure you further into the maelstrom of malnutrition?
The organic section is looking pretty wilted. With the economy so dire, people do not feel like spending the extra money on organic produce. Of course, I am assuming we are truly getting "organic" and not just getting "day old regular" hiding behind organic labels.
I march determinedly past the soda bottles. Being a coke head, I muster up every bit of will that I have. It's hardly enough to fill a glass. My will needs an attorney.
Ah....look at all those sweets. No.......don't look. A morning pastry would put a smile on my face and, eventually, remove it ...right after it removed my teeth.
I note the TV dinners....... America's great convenience. Actually, it is the perfect combination.......poisoning your mind while you poison your body.
Is there nothing edible in this edifice?
The local A&P has installed new check out counters. They are completely done by computers and save time for the busy shopper, while saving the Supermarket the expense of hiring flesh and blood. No......the "flesh and blood" is reserved for the meat section.
Ah...... the meat section. It is a veritable feast for the eyes. (of a cannibal, that is). The little packages with the peering slabs of flesh and the toxic plastic wrappings are stacked so neatly.
I can almost hear the chickens crying "foul" as they lie on their backs with their salmonella just below the radar blip. This fowl, who spent his life cooped up in a prison, shot full of hormones and antibiotics, never flew. Of course, chickens cannot fly, but, now, I suspect, the corpse is soaring with the bird flu.
The cow is treated with equal disrespect. Cows are given ground up animals to feed on . It's all part of the bottom line. Offer this tasty blend to old Bossy and watch her walk away in disgust. Sorry, but she will not smack her lips and moo contentedly.
Experts say that mad cow disease is more prevalent than the populace knows. It was close to four years ago that an article appeared in Newsweek about Europe's beef scare, by Scott Johnson and William Underhill.
"At first, Arnaud Eboli's parents blamed his crying spells and screaming arguments on a tough bout of adolescence. Their 17-year-old had always been a normal boy, athletic and smart, fond of hanging out with his friends, practicing martial-arts moves and feasting on fast-food burgers in the suburbs of Paris. But by September 1998 the outbursts had gotten so bad the Ebolis took him to a psychiatrist, hoping therapy would help. It didn't. The crying jags got worse. Arnaud grew clumsy and forgetful. "I'm going crazy!" he would howl at his mother, Dominique. "I have mad-cow disease!"
Has anyone ever seen what takes place in a slaughter house? From what I've read, if you had, you would join me in vegetarianism.
You may be aware of the formal complaint by the Washington State Attorney General's Office detailing graphic allegations of inhumane conditions at an IBP slaughterhouse. Filed with the complaint were 17 affidavits from IBP slaughterhouse workers describing routine instances of inhumane slaughter in clear violation of federal and state humane-slaughter regulations. (humane-slaughter regulations? Does that sound oxymoronic?) Workers alleged "excessive and cruel use of electric prods to speed cows through a fast-paced slaughter process that often does not allow for proper stunning of the animals." According to the affidavits, cows are still fully conscious while having their throats slit and being dismembered. A videotape taken at IBP showed this to be the case. Washington Governor Gary Locke reaffirmed the seriousness of the charges and demanded an investigation into the matter by federal, state, and local authorities. I won't hold my breath.
Aside from pure abject cruelty to animals, nibbling on that current carcass is cruelty to your own body......your holy temple. Holy Cow...
The cows are rebelling, but when will humans reach the same level of dissatisfaction? When will they stop eating garbage masquerading as food? Processed, preserved, packaged and presented, the food in the supermarket lacks one thing....nutritional value. Hey Dude, where are my enzymes?
People are in a rush. (with both sides of their brain tied behind their back) If you ask me, and you seldom do, they are rushing towards an early grave. Sprinting through the automatic scanners, they take their faux food home and pop it in the microwave for the final assault. And now, a sumptuous repast in front of the television set. Bon appetite.
I leave the supermarket with my bag brimming with empty space, as well as toilet paper and water. "Dinner at the Andreas home"
The election is over but the insanity continues.
Nobody's In (November 3, 2004)
With all that election stuff, I could hardly get my Laci Peterson update. What's the matter with the American people?
Today at work ..it was so somber you'd think someone had died. Nobody died. Nobody won the election. Two nobodies were running and one nobody got in.
Occasionally somebody passed me in the hall wearing a smile. A smile was akin to a Bush/Cheney button. One women brought in food for a party. (or maybe it was a wake)
On November 22, 1963, the music died. On November 2, 2004, everything else died.
Why are the Kerry supporters so grim? Did they really believe that he would get elected, fall asleep and be visited by three Spirits, as in A Christmas Carol. And then, upon awakening, he would pull our troops out of Iraq, hold a serious investigation of 911, arrest and convict Bush and Company, institute social programs to help all Americans and have holiday dinner with Tiny Tim?
Sorry folks, it's business as usual in the Land of Oz. We were tossed two Bones and the coccyx won. I do not need a John Edwards, the psychic, that is, to tell me that he saw a W smirking in Washington for four more years. I do not need a Sylvia Browne to tell me that things are going to go from worse to intolerable. I do not need a James Von Prague to say that he sees a Draft in the future of our future generations. The only thing that I do need is a passport. Anybody know how to remove RFID's?.
Supposedly the issue that pushed Bush back onto his throne was morality. People want a more moral country. Morality? Morality? I realize that the President is riveted to My Pet Goat but perhaps I could interest him in some other pictures. The Internet is rife with pictures of deformed babies in Iraq. Morality? Pass me my pet dictionary.
Support our troops.........the yellow ribbons adorn the trees, the cars, the mailboxes. Inject them with poison, send them into a land to breathe depleted uranium, close their hospitals and cut their benefits. And when they come home, if they come home, tell them that their radioactive reproductive organs are merely post traumatic stress syndrome.
I heard the acceptance speech on the radio. The lack of visuals was no lack at all. If I want to see a smirk, I will go visit my ex husband.
Perhaps the duct tape we bought following 911 will come in handy after all. We can place it over our mouths. Then we will not say anything that might violate our unconstitutional wrongs.
Mourning did not go away at noon today. Mourning has broken, just ask Cat Stevens. It's broken and there's nobody to fix it. Nobody is listening. Nobody cares.
Copyright Judy Andreas 2004