March 26th, 2007

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Good Morning!!

I woke this morning to the radio news, again announcing that small amounts of dark chocolate are good for the blood vessels, so eat a piece of dark chocolate today with no guilt.

I look out on fog and rain is predicted and my day will be at the computer as this with Elizabeth Edwards certainly puts the book Jane and I have been working on in the timely category.  It is time to finish it and get it out there.

I have a visit with the chemo oncologist today so will be curious to hear her "take" on this with Elizabeth Edwards and how the cancer resisted all that was there to destroy and prevent.

I give you the words of Howard Zinn.  I know that many of you think we need to stay and clean up the mess we have made in Iraq, but I think the question is whether our staying does help the people.  Also, it is possible we could use the $124 billion here at home, considering the condition of our schools, roads, and transportation system, or lack thereof.

 Are We Politicians or Citizens?
    By Howard Zinn
    The Progressive

    May 2007 Issue

    As I write this, Congress is debating timetables for withdrawal from Iraq. In response to the Bush Administration's "surge" of troops, and the Republicans' refusal to limit our occupation, the Democrats are behaving with their customary timidity, proposing withdrawal, but only after a year, or eighteen months. And it seems they expect the anti-war movement to support them.

    That was suggested in a recent message from MoveOn, which polled its members on the Democrat proposal, saying that progressives in Congress, "like many of us, don't think the bill goes far enough, but see it as the first concrete step to ending the war."

    Ironically, and shockingly, the same bill appropriates $124 billion in more funds to carry the war. It's as if, before the Civil War, abolitionists agreed to postpone the emancipation of the slaves for a year, or two years, or five years, and coupled this with an appropriation of funds to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act.

    When a social movement adopts the compromises of legislators, it has forgotten its role, which is to push and challenge the politicians, not to fall in meekly behind them.

    We who protest the war are not politicians. We are citizens. Whatever politicians may do, let them first feel the full force of citizens who speak for what is right, not for what is winnable, in a shamefully timorous Congress.

    Timetables for withdrawal are not only morally reprehensible in the case of a brutal occupation (would you give a thug who invaded your house, smashed everything in sight, and terrorized your children a timetable for withdrawal?) but logically nonsensical. If our troops are preventing civil war, helping people, controlling violence, then why withdraw at all? If they are in fact doing the opposite - provoking civil war, hurting people, perpetuating violence - they should withdraw as quickly as ships and planes can carry them home.

    It is four years since the United States invaded Iraq with a ferocious bombardment, with "shock and awe." That is enough time to decide if the presence of our troops is making the lives of the Iraqis better or worse. The evidence is overwhelming. Since the invasion, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died, and, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, about two million Iraqis have left the country, and an almost equal number are internal refugees, forced out of their homes, seeking shelter elsewhere in the country.

    Yes, Saddam Hussein was a brutal tyrant. But his capture and death have not made the lives of Iraqis better, as the U.S. occupation has created chaos: no clean water, rising rates of hunger, 50 percent unemployment, shortages of food, electricity, and fuel, a rise in child malnutrition and infant deaths. Has the U.S. presence diminished violence? On the contrary, by January 2007 the number of insurgent attacks has increased dramatically to 180 a day.

    The response of the Bush Administration to four years of failure is to send more troops. To add more troops matches the definition of fanaticism: If you find you're going in the wrong direction, redouble your speed. It reminds me of the physician in Europe in the early nineteenth century who decided that bloodletting would cure pneumonia. When that didn't work, he concluded that not enough blood had been let.

    The Congressional Democrats' proposal is to give more funds to the war, and to set a timetable that will let the bloodletting go on for another year or more. It is necessary, they say, to compromise, and some anti-war people have been willing to go along. However, it is one thing to compromise when you are immediately given part of what you are demanding, if that can then be a springboard for getting more in the future. That is the situation described in the recent movie The Wind That Shakes The Barley, in which the Irish rebels against British rule are given a compromise solution - to have part of Ireland free, as the Irish Free State. In the movie, Irish brother fights against brother over whether to accept this compromise. But at least the acceptance of that compromise, however short of justice, created the Irish Free State. The withdrawal timetable proposed by the Democrats gets nothing tangible, only a promise, and leaves the fulfillment of that promise in the hands of the Bush Administration.

    There have been similar dilemmas for the labor movement. Indeed, it is a common occurrence that unions, fighting for a new contract, must decide if they will accept an offer that gives them only part of what they have demanded. It's always a difficult decision, but in almost all cases, whether the compromise can be considered a victory or a defeat, the workers have been given some thing palpable, improving their condition to some degree. If they were offered only a promise of something in the future, while continuing an unbearable situation in the present, it would not be considered a compromise, but a sellout. A union leader who said, "Take this, it's the best we can get" (which is what the MoveOn people are saying about the Democrats' resolution) would be hooted off the platform.

    I am reminded of the situation at the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, when the black delegation from Mississippi asked to be seated, to represent the 40 percent black population of that state. They were offered a "compromise" - two nonvoting seats. "This is the best we can get," some black leaders said. The Mississippians, led by Fannie Lou Hamer and Bob Moses, turned it down, and thus held on to their fighting spirit, which later brought them what they had asked for. That mantra - "the best we can get" - is a recipe for corruption.

    It is not easy, in the corrupting atmosphere of Washington, D.C., to hold on firmly to the truth, to resist the temptation of capitulation that presents itself as compromise. A few manage to do so. I think of Barbara Lee, the one person in the House of Representatives who, in the hysterical atmosphere of the days following 9/11, voted against the resolution authorizing Bush to invade Afghanistan. Today, she is one of the few who refuse to fund the Iraq War, insist on a prompt end to the war, reject the dishonesty of a false compromise.

    Except for the rare few, like Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters, Lynn Woolsey, and John Lewis, our representatives are politicians, and will surrender their integrity, claiming to be "realistic."

    We are not politicians, but citizens. We have no office to hold on to, only our consciences, which insist on telling the truth. That, history suggests, is the most realistic thing a citizen can do.


    Howard Zinn is the author, most recently, of A Power Governments Cannot Suppress.

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Poem of Knowing - Say Yes!!


A day comes to some people when
they must pronounce the great Yes or the great No.
It is instantly clear who has the Yes within,
ready; and by uttering it, he crosses over to

his honor and conviction. The one who
refuses has no remorse. If asked again,
he'd say no again. And yet that No —
the right No — weighs him down to his life's end.

       Translated with Willis Barnstone

C. P. Cavafy
Translated by Aliki Barnstone
The Collected Poems of C. P. Cavafy
W. W. Norton & Company

Copyright © 2006 by Aliki Barnstone.
All rights reserved.

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A Rainy Day -

I saw my chemo oncologist today and received a good report.  I see how super-alert I am there.  I noticed the new art-work on the walls, creative collages, and saw that there was no one in the waiting room without hair, so I slipped in at the right time.   I did not check out the chemo infusion area.  

On Elizabeth Edwards,  Dr. Lucas says everyone is talking about it today, and that I feel vulnerable shows I am not completely healed emotionally, and this is true. I can't argue.  I am still sad about it all, so I will work with that.

For those of us who live in Marin, she says we need to be paying attention to who we elect for the hospital board.  Bedard and Clever are good guys.  The other three are crazy, especially the neurosurgeon who is on the board.  I need to check out his name, but she said people voted for him because he is a neurosurgeon but he is a crazy one.  That is comforting.   She says we should vote against the upcoming bond issue, because we do not want politicians involved in our hospital and medical care.   So, once again, there is encouragement on being more involved in politics at the local level.

I am back home and ready to work.  Happy rainy day to All!
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Rain Continues -

It is hard to stay focused when the sound of rain calls to me outside the window and I look out and see an amazing array of greens.  I could just look out and enjoy the simplicity of play this day.

Here is a poem by Dan Gerber to help place it all in perspective, or not.


Bees and sprinklers employ the silence,
and a horse screaming over the hill.

According to Euclid, Hades has no depth,
no valleys, no echoes, no heart's embrace.

Now the faintest curve of a sycamore
begins to shine through the fog.

And the window we look out of
becomes the frame in which we're displayed.

    - Dan Gerber

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What a difference this can make -

In the Kawiaha'o Church school in Honolulu, each day the children and teachers say:

    "I pledge allegiance to the Earth, and to all life that it nourishes."

    They promise "to protect life on our planet, to live in harmony with nature and to share our resources justly, so that all people can live with dignity, in good health and in peace."

                    Now that's a prayer!!

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Interview -

If you missed the interview with John and Elizabeth Edwards you can watch it here on Youtube.  Amazing!!

I think it is worth watching because it brings up the subject of death which most of us prefer to ignore.  I think the acknowledgement is huge.


My chemo oncologist says heart disease kills more people than cancer and we should be worried about that instead, and think about it if we are considering going to McDonald's.   McDonald's is not on my list but I certainly could be more food and exercise aware.  Here is to health and a multitude of fun which is the best health enhancer of all.

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Evening -

I feel sad tonight, a huge weight in my gut.   Visiting chemo world today was upsetting for me and I do feel that I am not emotionally healed from the trauma of last year.  I went through it like a good soldier, but now I am starting to realize that it was rough and I feel sad and that is okay.  I realize as I type this I wouldn't want it to be any other way.  I do want to be affected by my life, to continue carving out places to hold more feeling, more love, peace and joy, and along with that  sorrow and fear, so it is all right, all of it.

Jane and I continue to move along on the book.  We are in fast forward now, and highly inspired by the events of these last few days.

I'm happy to hear some drops of rain.    They reflect the tenderness inside.