Wednesday, August 31, 2005

New Reason? How about Real Reason.

Bush Gives New Reason for Iraq War
By Jennifer Loven, The Associated Press

Wednesday 31 August 2005

Coronado, California - President Bush answered growing antiwar protests yesterday with a fresh reason for US troops to continue fighting in Iraq: protection of the country's vast oil fields, which he said would otherwise fall under the control of terrorist extremists.

The president, standing against a backdrop of the USS Ronald Reagan, the newest aircraft carrier in the Navy's fleet, said terrorists would be denied their goal of making Iraq a base from which to recruit followers, train them, and finance attacks.

"We will defeat the terrorists," Bush said. "We will build a free Iraq that will fight terrorists instead of giving them aid and sanctuary."

Appearing at Naval Air Station North Island to commemorate the anniversary of the Allies' World War II victory over Japan, Bush compared his resolve to President Franklin D. Roosevelt's in the 1940s and said America's mission in Iraq is to turn it into a democratic ally just as the United States did with Japan after its 1945 surrender. Bush's V-J Day ceremony did not fall on the actual anniversary. Japan announced its surrender on Aug. 15, 1945 - Aug. 14 in the United States because of the time difference.

Democrats said Bush's leadership falls far short of Roosevelt's.

"Democratic Presidents Roosevelt and Truman led America to victory in World War II because they laid out a clear plan for success to the American people, America's allies, and America's troops," said Howard Dean, Democratic Party chairman. "President Bush has failed to put together a plan, so despite the bravery and sacrifice of our troops, we are not making the progress that we should be in Iraq. The troops, our allies, and the American people deserve better leadership from our commander in chief."

The speech was Bush's third in just over a week defending his Iraq policies, as the White House scrambles to counter growing public concern about the war. But the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast drew attention away; the White House announced during the president's remarks that he was cutting his August vacation short to return to Washington, D.C., to oversee the federal response effort.

After the speech, Bush hurried back to Texas ahead of schedule to prepare to fly back to the nation's capital today. He was to return to the White House on Friday, after spending more than four weeks operating from his ranch in Crawford.

Bush's August break has been marked by problems in Iraq.

It has been an especially deadly month there for US troops, with the number of those who have died since the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 now nearing 1,900.

The growing death toll has become a regular feature of the slightly larger protests that Bush now encounters everywhere he goes - a movement boosted by a vigil set up in a field down the road from the president's ranch by a mother grieving the loss of her soldier son in Iraq.

Cindy Sheehan arrived in Crawford only days after Bush did, asking for a meeting so he could explain why her son and others are dying in Iraq. The White House refused, and Sheehan's camp turned into a hub of activity for hundreds of activists around the country demanding that troops be brought home.

This week, the administration also had to defend the proposed constitution produced in Iraq at US urging. Critics fear the impact of its rejection by many Sunnis, and say it fails to protect religious freedom and women's rights.

At the naval base, Bush declared, "We will not rest until victory is America's and our freedom is secure" from Al Qaeda and its forces in Iraq led by Abu Musab al Zarqawi.

"If Zarqawi and [Osama] bin Laden gain control of Iraq, they would create a new training ground for future terrorist attacks," Bush said. "They'd seize oil fields to fund their ambitions. They could recruit more terrorists by claiming a historic victory over the United States and our coalition."

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Coming Out

Today, I'm coming out. Even though I don't really hide this aspect of my person, I must say I don't drone one about it either. I'm pagan.

Pagan? What does that mean? She worships the devil (no - the concept of the devil is based in western, monotheistic religions). Worships multiple gods and goddesses (no - I'm not Wiccan). Can she be dabbling in witchcraft and voodoo (two very different things, I might add)? What exactly is a pagan?

Wikipedia sums it up nicely: "Many current Pagans in industrial societies base their beliefs and practices on a connection to Nature, and a divinity within all living things, but this may not hold true for all forms of Paganism, past or present. Some believe that there are many deities, while some believe that the combined subconscious spirit of all living things forms the universal deity."

So, everything is connected? Yes. Respect all living things? Yes. Sacrifice small creatures while dancing naked under the moonlight? No. Though the dancing naked in the moonlight thing has happened under different circumstances.

Wikipedia also says "It is possible that the various pagan practices were not seen as instances of a more general 'paganism' at all until the point when the term was used to blur distinctions between non-Christian beliefs and make of them one homogenous, primitive mass....Religions of Southern and Eastern Asian origin (eg. Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Shinto) are generally considered to be pagan."

Blur me away from Christianity. Many of the things I do believe are Buddhist.

I believe that everything I do comes back to me (Karma - originally linked to Hinduism). If I'm good, I get good. If I'm bad, I get bad. I'm responsible for my actions. Obviously, it is much more complex than all this, but that is the general premise. I think everything is connected - that all people, places and things are part of the greater something.

This is the point where I stop talking about my beliefs. I don't need to share everything, and most likely, you don't really want to know everything. Everyone has his or her own beliefs. You don't have to agree or disagree with mine, just as I don't have to agree or disagree with yours.

This post is really about me writing to the great unknown Internet about things I believe instead of telling some people (who have recently tried to "convert" me to their religion) to back off. I guess I just needed to vent.

At some point though, there will come a time when I have to tell those same people that I'm so glad they have something they believe in. I'm happy that they are happy with who they are and what religion they represent.

And I'm going to say that I'm happy too. I like me and I am firmly grounded in what I believe. I'm not going to change everything that I am to fit into their perfect view of what a person should be. If they don't like me for me, it isn't my problem. It's theirs.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Pixie Stick Sandwiches

Next time I get a craving, I will close my office door so my ever-critical, always sarcastic office assistant doesn't come in to see me hovered over my styrofoam plate carefully squeezing sticky grape jelly from the tiny rectangular plastic box onto my delicious chicken tortilla wrap lunch.

What Ally Sheedy did as Allison Reynolds in The Breakfast Club was far more grody.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Left of Center

I don't know what it is that reminds me of Mamma the most.

When I think of her I think of boxy red leather suitcases, pink and green house dresses, sensible shoes and plastic bag purses containing her most necessary items - camera (snapping wildly at our soccer games, swim meets and front yard dance parties), wallet, green cat-eye prescription sunglasses.

She had strong fingernails, lucid eyes and an unforgotten spirit. She lived - thinking nothing of boarding a bus to destinations unknown with her friend Kitty. She was fearless - bartering in Italian with street vendors in Tijuana (She told me that if they knew Spanish, they should be able to understand her). She loved the Poconos enough to buy retirement property there. We all knew in our secret hearts she'd never leave New York.

She'd visit bi-yearly, sometimes more, arriving with hard mozzarella (pronounced mootsa-rella for you non-italians), salty prosciutto and Arthur Avenue breadsticks - leaving baked ziti, eggplant parmigiano, and frozen press-n-seal bags of fresh sauce with meatball in her wake.

Mamma pinched our dimpled cheeks everytime she disembarked her plane from La Guardia. She called me "Bella." She spelled my middle name Renea, instead of Renee, because I liked the thought of having an "A" in my middle name. Her given name was Angelina though everyone called her Eda or Mamma.

On warm Arizona evenings, she would walk to the TCBY - over a mile away - to get frozen yogurt. Many times, Robbie and I tailed her and got a treat as well. She taught me Italian phrases while I rinsed and loaded nightly dinner dishes. My favorite was "Non al cervello" (no brains) which I used on my brother quite often when I didn't know how else to piss him off. We spent most of her summer visits in the pool.

Then there were visits to the Bronx - surrounded by her treasures, lost in her basement, exploring the childhood rooms of my father and aunt. We'd sit in the kitchen, making fresh Italian sandwiches at her square shaped table, looking out the back door at the grounds and buildings of Fordham University.

We never spent a lot of time at her house - preferring to tour downtown Manhattan with Mamma and my Dad charging the way. The frigid morning of the Macy's Day Parade, she bought Rob and I steaming chestnuts for our frozen pockets and treated us to hot chocolate at a packed deli off the parade route. She was pure New York attitude and resilience.

The day of her funeral, Robbie and I arrived at her house before our parents and aunt. We stood in her driveway waiting - as if she would emerge from her back door. Finally, we gave up and walked to the White Castle. On our way back, I know we talked about her as if she were still there - like she was walking through her neighborhood and talking to everyone who passed.

After the funeral, we went back to Mamma's and gathered some family photos from her sun porch. We talked to Sal across the street. I took an acorn from under the tree on the side of her house and buried it deep in my pocket. I thought of the hot chestnuts from the parade and how I would miss my grandmother.

I think of her often - especially on the 17th of August, her birthday. I know her spirit lives on - the scent of her lotion followed me through my wedding day.

I miss her more now that I am older.

I have more things to tell her and more questions to ask.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Monday, August 08, 2005

Note to Self

Dear 20-year-old Self,

Hi! It has been a long time since I've thought about you. I was looking through pictures the other day and saw your face. Can I just say that you looked good girlfriend! No lines, thinner than what you've recently become, calves like steel. Pretty cute with your gothy black hair and sun-deprived Pacific Northwest face.

I just have one question for you.

Why the hell didn't you bang more guys? I mean, I know your bright green eyes were transfixed on that cigarette-puffing-pepsi-chugging first love prince of yours - but dude, he was fucking around on you! You should have dumped his ass and scored with British Rob! That night he knocked on your door at 2AM licking his English lips and you turned him away because you didn't want to be slutty.

All I'm saying is that if you knew then what I know now, you'd have appreciated your flexibility a little bit more.

Your 30-year-old Self

Polyester Bride

if i were Liz Phair
i'd unfurl
into gray frigid morning
choke down a menthol and
albino coffee

dress in silky blue undies
stilettos and
sweat pants

dance around the planked floor
and sing nonsense

so the neighbors could hear.

Friday, August 05, 2005

This Friday afternoon, I'm

contemplating the perpetually evil George Bush, the ex who dominated my dreams last night, writing, and the process of moving back to Virginia.

I'm also thinking about how Joss Whedon may have unknowingly introduced a platform on how to jumpstart the efforts being made for world peace.

In the Buffy episode, "Once More With Feeling," Whedon spins a musical tale of demons (both literal and figurative) laced with the moral intracies of deception, love, hope and human bonds (not bondage - get your mind out of the gutter). All the characters (and the fine people of Sunnydale) lose the ability to talk - everyone is possessed to candidly communicate through song. The result? More truthful, vivid and passionate human interaction. Imagine the soul cleansing if we had to sing to communicate?

Then again, to foster better world relations, maybe we should take a clue from another Buffy classic and just shut up.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Evil has roots

The other day, a former student of mine came to the University where I work to enroll. For two years, he's spoken of ambitions and dreams to code and program the games to which he is addicted. He is a hard worker - not the most brilliant - but the most dedicated. He plods along until he reaches a pinnacle of achievement and then looks beyond to the next challenge.

His mother works 3 jobs and supports 5 people - a sick husband, three children and a new grandbaby that was conceived by her high school dropout daughter. Strong and dedicated, Mom is, and I don't believe she finished high school. She is proud of her son for taking the road never traveled and inquiring about college. But she cannot pay for his journey.

He seeks cash for college to no avail. Scholarships? A lofty ambition. I received word two days ago that he is postponing ambitions because no one can offer him financial aid.

In a parallel timespan, my husband is informed that his school has decided to not continue the meager raises given to teachers last year. "Funding isn't available this year," they squawk. Meanwhile, the principal and primary charter owners just finished building custom homes in gated communities. The school doesn't have textbooks for half their classes. Now they are taking away the extra $40 a month they gifted to my husband as part of his salary last year? He is a dedicated teacher - has a good heart - really wants to help the kids.

As I sopped up the lake that infiltrated my front rotunda the other night (courtesy of the dizzying monsoon and gap between door and frame), I thought about how my wet plight was related to aforementioned issues. Trend Homes has yet to fix many of the items in our new house from our original punch list. We've been in our home for 8 months and can't get a few things taken care of because of "lack of resources," but most likely because Trend doesn't want to shell out a few dollars to back up their warranty claims.

Greed is ever present, I know this. Money is always just out of reach. What concerns me most is pervasive apathy and heartlessness. I just want to know - when did people stop caring?

About Me

Stupidly self-centered for over 3 decades!