Friday, September 30, 2005


Labor Day Holiday Weekend … September 2nd through 6th … spent a nice, relaxing weekend visiting my parents in upstate NY. The weather, for the most part, held up nicely during those 4 days or so. Since Mom’s health [ie: her back] wasn’t too swift that weekend, I helped out around the house and outside too. During the weekend I’d purchased a book by F. Scott Fitzgerald called “This Side of Paradise”, which was written in 1920. A few days before purchasing this book I’d seen a fascinating documentary on Fitzgerald via PBS. Years ago I’d read “The Great Gatsby”, so decided to tackle this book. “This Side of Paradise” is considered the definitive book on America’s “lost generation” around the time of World War I. Finished it while visiting the parents and I must say it’s an interesting novel, though didn’t excite me as it’s known to for readers in the 1920’s. Oh well…………

On Wednesday, September 7th, I attended the monthly DFA Meetup in Williamsburg. Only Paul, Ben and I were in attendance. We mostly discussed the upcoming NYC Primary, its assorted candidates and possible volunteering on the 13th. Also becoming more involved in getting the word out about “Leave My Child Alone”. If you’re a parent and read the Duchess Blog … did you know that as part of the “No Child Left Behind” Act, public schools are required to give out children’s information to military recruiters “unless” a parent files an “opt out” form. The NYC Dept of Education sends a note home with the form explaining this policy, but other school districts make no effort to educate parents. None! To learn more about “Leave My Child Alone” efforts to change this policy and educate parents OR to download the form, please visit …

On Thursday, September 8th, only a few [ie: Karen, Maria, Joe & I] from our Support Group met up in Bryant Park for two hours. Joe brought along some yummy cookies for us to munch on. The weather was nice and comfortable. We mostly talked about the upcoming Peace Conference, the NYC DoP press conference at City Hall and got to hear ALL about Maria’s trip to Chile in August.

Maria and her partner Kelly went there with “Habitat for Humanity” to build a home. Listening to her experiences was fantastic. Shortly before we wrapped up the session, Joe’s wife Marie [also my personal trainer] showed up. She had some important info for me regarding traveling to DC on Amtrak. Overall a terrific evening.

[Photo at Left -- NYC Chapter Dept of Peace members Joe and Kevin at the "Imagine Peace Fest" in Amenia, NY on September 18th. With them is Kevin's lovely daughter Eve.]

[Duchess Note ... stay tuned for more Personal News. Also ... swing over to FRIENDS OF FRIDAY FORUM to read a terrific commentary on recent protest marches down in DC.]

QUOTE OF THE DAY ... In religion and politics people's beliefs and convictions are in almost evey case gotten at second-hand, and without examination. Mark Twain

Thursday, September 29, 2005

HOW BUSH PREPARED FOR HURRICANE KATRINA (And Looking Back A Few Years for Comparison)

President: Nixon
Category 5 Hurricane *Camille* (August 1969)
Area: About the same area as that affected by Katrina
Response: Nixon prepared the National Guard in advance, ordering rescue ships from Tampa, FL and Houston, TX to stand waiting along with over a thousand regular military, 24+ helicopters to assist the Coast Guard and National Guard about as soon as the hurricane passed.

President: Bush (the Elder)
Category 5 Hurricane *Andrew* (August 1992)
Area: Florida
Response: In the middle of a re-election campaign, Bush ceased campaigning the day before the hurricane, went to Washington, and assembled one of the largest military forces ever mustered on U.S. soil. 7,000 National Guard and 22,000 regular military were sent in with the necessary equipment shortly after the hurricane passed through.

President: Clinton
Category 3 Hurricane *Floyd* (September 1999)
Area: Virginia and Carolinas
Response: Meeting with China's president Jiang in New Zealand, Clinton immediately declared the hurricane-affected areas as federal disasters, allowing the military and National Guard to move in and help. Clinton flew home immediately, one day before the hurricane hit, to help coordinate the rescue.

President: Bush (the Lesser)
Category 5 Hurricane *Katrina* (August 2005)
Area: Gulf Coast
Response: National Guard troops are down about 8,000 members because they are in Iraq with much of the needed rescue equipment. Bush was on vacation, riding his bike for two hours the day before the hurricane landed. On that day, Bush attended a birthday party for John McCain and played golf. The levees began to crack. While emergency 1.5-ton sandbags were ready to be placed to strengthen the levee and exclude water, there were insufficient helicopters and pilots to set them before the levees broke. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin pleaded for federal-level assistance and got none. Bush went to San Diego to play guitar with a country singer and end his vacation early -- but not until the next day, because he had tickets to a San Diego Padres game.

[Duchess Note – Many thanks to fellow NYC Kucitizen (BC) in sharing the above tidbit. Rock the house girlfriend!]

Please take some time to call, write and/or fax your Congress member and urge them to co-sponsor HR 3858 legislation to include pets and service animals in any emergency evacuation plans in the future. Many animals and pets lost their lives in the wake of Hurricane Katrina & Rita. Please take the time … so far there are only four co-sponsors on this House bill. Let’s work together and bring about a change on this topic. Thank you!

IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM Working Families e-Activist Regarding "Stop the PayCut for Gulf Coast Workers"
Workers in the Gulf Coast have lost so much--many lost their homes, belongings and jobs. Some lost family members. Now they've lost decent pay, too. When President Bush signed that executive order taking away community "prevailing wage" standards for construction workers who will rebuild the Gulf Coast, he took hope from working families trying to put their lives back together. We can't allow this to happen. Please turn your outrage to action and help restore decent pay for Gulf Coast workers. Click the following link to sign our petition now ...

There is no way a just America can allow pay to be cut for Gulf Coast workers--especially while politically connected contractors are getting fat no-bid contracts and the wealthiest Americans are getting massive new tax breaks. And especially when the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina exposed how workers in the Gulf desperately need decent wages. Let's be clear: The community wage standards President Bush cut were very modest to begin with. Federal law simply required that federal contractors not lower community construction wages--wages that average about $9.50 an hour in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, less than $20,000 a year for skilled, full-time work. Why in the world should these workers get pay cuts?

At least nine times in the past decade, right-wing extremists in the Republican Party tried in Congress to repeal or undermine the law that requires federal contractors to pay the "prevailing wage" for the region in which they are working. None of the efforts succeeded. But the Bush administration has taken advantage of Katrina to do what it could not do otherwise. Please take a moment to sign our Petition for Decent Pay in the Gulf Coast. President Bush and your members of Congress will get a message immediately letting them know you have signed it. Click here: ...

Once you have signed the petition, please urge the people you know who care about working families and decent pay to sign it, too. Can you get five people to sign? 10? 25? The more signatures we get, the more we'll be heard. Please click this link to send a message to your friends ...

QUOTE OF THE DAY ... Peace and friendship with all mankind is our wisest policy, and I wish we may be permitted to pursue it. Thomas Jefferson

IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM the Office of Senator Edward Kennedy Regarding Responsibly Rebuilding the Gulf Coast
Last Friday, I visited the Gulf Coast with a congressional delegation to meet with survivors. They obviously need all of the help we can give them. We recently urged you to donate to charities that are helping with the relief effort, and we're both grateful for anything you can do to provide help for the people of these devastating circumstances to rebuild their homes, their lives, and their future. It’s essential to see that Congress and the Administration act responsibly in meeting this vast challenge as well. Initial controversies make clear, however, that inappropriate partisan efforts are likely to undermine the all-important process of recovery and reconstruction.

The Bush Administration and the Republican Congress are adamantly refusing to cooperate in supporting an independent investigation of the causes of the inadequate preparations and early responses to the tragedy, and there is little accountability for the billions of federal dollars being appropriated for the response. Some have even said that this is the time to turn the Gulf Coast into a conservative laboratory of national and economic social policy. I SAY NO. Now is the time to help the people of this region rebuild themselves.

I believe it’s essential that the recovery effort be carried out as effectively as possible, and I've proposed the creation of a special organization a Gulf Coast Redevelopment Authority to bring everyone together to create a common plan and vision for the new Gulf Coast. What I heard over and over on my visit is that local people want a voice in their own future. They don't want big outside companies with political connections to call the shots. That's why the goal of the Gulf Coast Redevelopment Authority would be to coordinate the redevelopment efforts with appropriate state and local guidance, create jobs, and give Gulf Coast residents the means to rebuild their communities and their lives. We should also owe it to our fellow citizens along the Gulf to get it right. We should seek the advice of the world’s best experts on flood control, modern communications and utilities, urban and community development, and more. We should preserve the best of the past and the regions culture and heritage, but also rebuild with an eye to the future, too.

Bringing everyone around a common table is the only realistic way to enable the nation to come together and support the people of the Gulf Coast with worthwhile jobs in the modern economy, and provide opportunity and hope that is so urgently needed. Thank you so much for your involvement and concern.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

NYU STEINHARDT ... Distinguished Faculty Concerts Presents

A Recital by Flutist Kathleen Nester

Tuesday, October 4, 2005, 8pm
Frederick Loewe Theatre
35 West 4th Street

Featuring a world-premiere Performance of composer Peter Calandra's
"Suite for Flute and Piano in 4 Movement's"

Assisted by. . . .
Barbara Allen, harp
Christine Diwyk, piano
Desiree Elsevier, viola
Linda Mark, piano
Joshua Rosenblum, piano
Keith Underwood, flute

Plus works by ... Mozart, Borne, Rosenblum, Debussy, Berlioz & Doppler

FREE ADMISSION! Go to for calendar of events

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Washington, DC
Bill would elevate Reagan-established "Institute of Peace" to Cabinet-level department
[Duchess Note: We at the Dept of Peace campaign are very happy and excited about this news. Share it with others or better yet, become involved in this wonderful campaign today.]

Sci Fi Wire

Michael Nortrup, Carroll County Times

QUOTE OF THE DAY ... The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend. Abraham Lincoln

DUCHESS NOTE ... Sincere apologies for the long delay regarding "Personal News". Its been a busy month for this lady and I hope to have an update for you all soon. Stay tuned........

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Robert Plant has joined the lineup of Pearl Jam's $1,000-per-ticket Hurricane Katrina benefit at the House of Blues in Chicago on October 5, a spokeswoman for the club said on Monday. The former Led Zeppelin frontman is currently touring North America with his band the Strange Sensation, and will squeeze the show in between an October 4 stop in New Mexico and an October 6 date in Texas. For Pearl Jam, the gig at the 1,300-capacity venue will mark the final show of its North American tour before it begins a Latin American leg in Santiago, Chile on November 22.

The spokeswoman said four luxury boxes priced at $25,000 each have already been sold. Net proceeds from the show will go to such organizations as the Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, the Jazz Foundation of America and the New Orleans Musicians' Clinic. Pearl Jam is not unfamiliar with the club. The band, apart from guitarist Stone Gossard, opened for the Who at a charity show in 2003, while Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder did the honors when the Who headlined in 1999.

QUOTE OF THE DAY ... While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart. St. Francis of Assisi


As the hurricane victims struggle to rebuild their lives, one of their most immediate needs is access to medical care. Send a letter urging Congress to act! ttp://

News reports indicate that New Orleans' health care facilities have been shattered to such a large extent, that it's going to take a herculean effort by the U.S. government if the affected population is to receive even basic care while the city rebuilds. And with Hurricane Katrina visiting disproportionate hardship on the region's poorest and least priviledged residents, the compassionate thing to do is to implement a program that assures comprehensive coverage without red tape.

Congress is now considering ways to provide temporary coverage to the storm's survivors under the federal Medicaid program. In the Senate, a bill has been introduced that would cover Katrina survivors with incomes below the federal poverty line through a temporary five-month program with a possible extension. And while the Senate bill assures comprehensive coverage without red tape, the House version may limit access to>the program for hundreds of thousands of needy people.

That’s why we need your help today! Congress is expected to vote this week on critical health-care legislation for survivors of Hurricane Katrina. Don't let Congress water down this desperately needed relief! Urge your legislators to support temporary enrollment of hurricane victims in Medicaid:

Monday, September 19, 2005


The Popularity of Peace and Presidents
September 9, 2005
by David Swanson

Employing People Who Were Displaced by Hurricane Katrina - Dennis Kucinich speaking from the Floor of the House
September 8, 2005

Reps. Kucinich and Tubbs Jones Call On President To Hire Local Residents And Pay A Living Wage In Rebuilding Gulf Region
Washington, Sept 12, 2005

GUEST EDITORIAL: International Day of Peace
September 12, 2005
by Rev Bernice Powell Jackson
Rev. Bernice Powell Jackson appeals to readers to writer letters to their Congressional representatives in support of A Department of Peace.

News Analysis: Those Peaceniks Are At It Again! Kucinich Brings Department of Peace Bill Before Congress By Christopher Krohn Special to the Planet
September 13, 2005

Kucinich Introduces Legislation to Create Cabinet Level Department of Peace And Nonviolence
September 14, 2005

Department of Peace Message from The Green Democrats
September 15, 2005
Congressman Kucinich reintroduced his Department of Peace Bill on September 14 at the conclusion of the Department of Peace Conference sponsored by The Peace Alliance. At a meeting with the Department of Peace youth leaders in D.C., Senator Mark Dayton from Minnesota agreed to help "move this forward" on behalf of our children. This is a HUGE milestone in the DoP campaign and for the future of this legislation to have a member of the Senate to express such interest. The DoP campaign needs your support today to help keep up this momentum with Senator Dayton. [The new bill number in the House of Representatives is HB 3760]

Kucinich: Administration Must Not Use Katrina To Push Extreme Right Wing Agenda
Washington, September 15th
by The Associated Press
The 224-188 roll call Thursday by which the House passed to establish a special committee (in the Republican dominated Congress) to investigate the preparation for and response to Hurricane Katrina. Congressman Kucinich voted NO.

QUOTE OF THE DAY ... If we have not peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. Mother Theresa

Sunday, September 18, 2005


Many members from NYC Chapter Dept of Peace had been planning for months in attending this important conference [Sept 10 - 12]. Our chapter chairperson [Carol] and vice-chair [Kevin] attended the first two conferences and their enthusiasm was quite infectious. [These types of events should be attended by ALL. Makes neither difference what your political leanings are nor cultural/religious background. Peace is vital for ALL and especially for the future of everyone's children.] Those first two conferences inspired Carol and Kevin to set up a chapter in NYC. On September 12, 2005 the NYC Chapter Dept of Peace celebrated its one-year anniversary. I came onboard towards the end of October 2004 via the persistent urging of a fellow Kucitizen.

For me, after registering online at the Peace Alliance website, came the task of saving up funds for this wonderful and inspiring weekend. I knew I wouldn't be able to afford transport, conference fee, hotel room and food on my limited budget. Well ... some ... but not all. Knew I had to cut corners and make connections to pull it off. In early July I contacted good friends of mine in Virginia, near Washington DC, and inquired if I could stay at their place to save on hotel costs. “Absolutely” was their reply and marked their calendar. Next on the list was transportation and I was helped out by some fellow DoP board members, plus an Amtrak union member. [While all this was going on over the months, leading up to the conference, I was busy saving what money I could out of each paycheck. I'm not that savvy at hording buckos, so I asked my Mom to help out. Nothing like the Bank of Mom, she’s like Fort Knox.] With last minute transport changes to our agenda, due to a NYC Dept of Peace press conference slated for Friday, September 9th, all worked out well. [Many thanks to Marie, Joe, Gary, Nancie, Tim & Kathleen.] It would have been even more awesome if the press had shown up at the steps of City Hall. But that didn't dampen our spirits, no way, we utilize that moment as a tremendous learning curve towards future press conferences et al.

To be honest ... I was excited about this conference and experience, but I also harbored some anxiety. [Would it touch me spiritually like it did for others?] Like trying something new for the first time, one does experience some trepidation, but once there it was amazing. Most people go through that ... it’s quite common. I want to take a moment to express heartfelt praise for those in the NY Dept of Peace group [ie: Joe, Jacques, Craig, Nancie, Susan, Pricilla, Carol, Maria, Ellen, Hector, David1, David2, Liz, Marni, Eileen, Kevin, Kathleen, Kolya, Janet and Barry] who attended the 3rd Annual Peace Conference. They’re all outstanding people who are truly compassionate. It was a pleasure meeting and chatting with several of them for the first time. From the bottom of my heart I consider myself truly blessed in knowing and working with such individuals. Thanks for all the laughter, hugs and camaraderie. [Yes, I know, I said this part before, but wanted to express it again.]

As to the conference itself, I wasn't able to be there for all of it, but what I did experience was fantastic. In brief there were several special, touching and inspiring moments for me. To highlight them ... chatting with Peggy Kelsey & Heather McDonnell (respectfully from TX & OH.] They were two of the many conference photographers that weekend. We talked for some time before the conference started and I greatly enjoyed our conversation. Other moments that Saturday was someone's baby cooing at the end of the Kokomon Clottey [ie: drumming]. Brought warm chuckles from those assembled. Dot Mavers rousing the audience during Tim Reynolds performance of "All You Need Is Love". What can I say, in that Marianne Williamson is always an inspiration. Jan Hartke gave a fascinating account, via his fathers work, on the history of the Dept of Peace. During the dinner break our group had an enjoyable dinner at restaurant in hotel. Sitting near us were peacemakers from Ohio, Illinois and Indiana. [Peacemakers from Maine all the way to Hawaii gathered at the Peace Conference. There were also Peace Groups from Canada and Japan in attendance. More should join us next year and spread the word. Let peace light the way, not fear.] At one point, during dinner, the Ohio group expressed a touching speech to us New Yorkers regarding 9/11.

That evening, as I listened to Azim Khamisa speak, I was deeply moved by the loss of his son and his healing/spiritual journey over last 10 years. Of the individuals speaking at the evening’s forum, Brahma Kumaris Sister Jenna's words and soothing voice were a balm to my soul. The next morning we were honored in hearing former U.S. Ambassador John McDonald’s commentary and work on peace throughout the world. Shortly after the free lunch provided by the conference, some of us [including myself] left to journey back to our homes and spread the word of Peace. To learn more about the Dept of Peace, go to …

[Duchess Note ... Check out the latest update at FRIENDS OF FRIDAY FORUM & read an inspiring commentary about recent Dept of Peace Conference. Link to FORUM is in left column under "Favorite Links". Peace, Joy & Solidarity!]

QUOTE OF THE DAY ... Peace is more important than all justice; and peace was not made for the sake of justice, but justice for the sake of peace. Martin Luther King

Friday, September 16, 2005

Hurricane Katrina has presented a defining moment for President Bush. So far, it's defined him as indecisive, uninterested in poverty and critically unprepared. Last night's nationally televised address was an attempt by the White House to mark a turning point. But President Bush failed to deeply address either of the core vulnerabilities Katrina exposed—the federal government's inability to respond to disaster, and the poverty and racism that still remains in America. With the media jury out on the speech, we can help draw focus to Bush's failure to deliver on his core promise—to protect America from disaster. Our ad team worked overnight, preparing a rapid-response TV ad we want to get on the air as soon as possible, to help shape this historic moment. If we can raise $250,000 today, we can do it. Can you contribute?

Even a small contribution will get the ad running if we all chip in. While the money we've all contributed for relief and recovery is critically important, we also need to fight to make sure our government does its job because government efforts will outstrip private efforts by a magnitude of hundreds. Advocacy is as important as charity at this time in our nation's history. As Republican 9/11 Commission chair Thomas Kean said Thursday, "What makes you mad is that it's the same things we saw on 9/11. Whoever is responsible for acting in these places hasn't acted. Are they going to do it now? What else has to happen for people to act?"

The ad, titled "No Safer," draws a contrast between the promises made and the reality today—explaining that despite all the money, reports and restructuring, America isn't any more prepared for a disaster now than it was four years ago and President Bush doesn't have a plan to make us safe. Since September 11th, we have been told repeatedly by the president that America is safer. That message—that he would protect America—is the central reason why he won re-election. Those claims turned out to be false. Millions of Americans are counting on us because none of us are safer without needed changes. There are hundreds of communities that are vulnerable to either natural or man-made disasters. We need a real plan to make America safe and the TV ad will help force this critical issue onto the agenda. Please contribute today.

The ad is just one part of what MoveOn members are doing. Civic Action organized housing offers for 265,000 people and is co-hosting fundraising concerts for Gulf Coast groups. Over the coming weeks and months, we'll be pushing for our leaders in elected office to insist on a real plan to keep America safe. We'll ask you to get involved in lots of different ways, but right now we really need your help to put the TV ad on the air. Thanks for all you do.

QUOTE OF THE DAY ... There is no way to peace. Peace is the way. A.J. Muste

A key component of our 50 state strategy is to win where Democrats are supposed to win. That includes New York City, which has been under Republican control for the last decade. You have a chance to fix that by helping elect Freddy Ferrer in November. You can help defeat Mayor Mike Bloomberg, George W. Bush's largest donor. Many Democrats don't consider Mike Bloomberg a "real" Republican or a threat to our values. Those Democrats are wrong. While Republicans have been in charge of New York City, more and more working families are falling behind. Freddy is running for mayor because he wants to build a city that works for everyone – where there are good public schools in every neighborhood, where there is plenty of housing families can afford, and where there are good jobs available for all of us. And the problems facing New Yorkers aren't the only reason to support Freddy Ferrer. The New York City mayor's race is one of the most high-profile elections in the country in 2005. Pundits and political operatives are watching this race to gauge whether we are ready to take on the Republicans in 2006. I urge you to help show them that we are.

Republican Mike Bloomberg gave more money to Bush's re-election effort -- more than $7 million -- than anyone else in the country. Mike Bloomberg also helps raise money for conservatives throughout our country, including over $1 million to help reelect the anti-choice George Pataki. Mike Bloomberg will fund his campaign to the tune of $100 million just by writing a check. And he can tap his $5 billion fortune if he needs more. But Freddy Ferrer believes in the grassroots. We're asking Democrats to join his campaign to show that our government can work better for all of us. We can build housing that families can afford. We can give hope to the more than 50 percent of New York City school kids who drop out before they graduate. We believe that government exists to serve the needs of all the people, while Mike Bloomberg and the Republicans believe that government exists to make things easier for the wealthy. I hope you will join me in supporting Freddy's campaign.

Freddy was raised in the Bronx by his single mother and grandmother before earning scholarships and working his way through NYU. As a city councilman and Bronx Borough President, Freddy helped build 66,000 units of affordable housing, helped create 34,000 jobs, worked with Bill Clinton to create the Bronx Empowerment Zone, and oversaw the resurgence of a forgotten borough. Freddy has proven that he can bring Democratic values to local government and meet the real needs of local communities. He is clearly the best man for the job. Freddy knows the struggles regular New Yorkers face because he has lived those same struggles. He wants to build a city where the same opportunities he had are available to every child. Those opportunities are created by a steadfast commitment to our Democratic ideals. I know I can count on you to help Freddy build a city that works better for all New Yorkers.

When: Saturday, October 8th, 9:00 AM to 4pm
Event fee: $4.00 per person
Where: VFW Hall, 6 Winslow Place, Paramus, NJ

Come Join the Fun! Specialty Rings, Games, Crafts, Vendors, Raffles, Auctions, Ferret Clinics, Food and Beverages


Remember when the doubters and defeatists were all saying Bolton was a shoe-in. But we rallied and we spoke out and we denied him Senate confirmation. And we were so right. He has done nothing but create chaos at the U.N. since Bush's stubborn recess appointment, to the dismay of even our closest ally, Great Britain. And you spoke out again to demand the firing of the criminally negligent FEMA director, and he was forced to quickly resign. Now we face the greatest threat of all in the person of the stealth reactionary for Supreme Court chief justice, John Roberts. And once again we can WIN a victory some others would not have thought possible, if only you will speak out now.

Now more that ever you can make a real difference to save the integrity of the Supreme Court. Not only CAN Roberts be stopped, he MUST be stopped. John Roberts' proponents say that the president warned us he would put forward a judge in the mold of Scalia and Thomas. We all know their extreme biases. And yet in his hearing Roberts has repeatedly denied that he has any policy values of his own, just as he has denied that he was a member of the Federalist society (where he had a leadership role). Therefore, he is not only a reactionary ideologue; he is a LYING reactionary ideologue, a walking Trojan horse of right wing policy initiatives. And that makes him all the worse.

Your fellow constituents need your help to raise your voice with them to have a real impact. You can use the one-click action page above to instantly transmit your personal message to both your senators, and, at the same time, send a Letter to the Editor of your nearest daily newspaper. There is more information on the site about the Roberts' nomination, and please check out also --, the best source of real news and opinion on the web. In fact, there is a simple comprehensive plan there about how we are going to rally all of our web sites and our radio personalities, to tell our Senators that if Roberts if gets the chief justice job, they can forget about getting hired again for theirs.

We must reach out to our fellow citizens every way we can. Please take action NOW, so we can win all victories that are supposed to be ours, and forward this message to everyone else you know.

Strong Voices for Peace are Touring the Country -- Join them Monday in New York City – a Message from TrueMajority
You're invited to an important event in New York City. TrueMajority members have been very generous in supporting the work of Cindy Sheehan, Celeste Zappala, Melanie House, and other mothers and wives of fallen soldiers as they speak out boldly for peace in Iraq. Now those voices, along with veterans who know the true cost of this war and military families who are paying that price, are touring the country. They're knitting together a nationwide movement, and they'll be in your area Monday, September 19th. On Monday, September 19th at 6:30 pm., these veterans and families will tell their stories at an evening forum at The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine (Amsterdam Ave. at 112th St).

To join us here either take the 1 train to 110th st. or the B or C train to 110th St. and Central Park West (Cathedral Parkway). Admission is free. Join these members of Military Families Speak Out, Iraq Veterans Against the War, and Gold Star Families for Peace and Veterans For Peace in speaking out for bringing our troops home. Cindy Sheehan, whose vigil outside President Bush's vacation ranch inspired the tour and re-invigorated the peace movement, will be there too. Come and join in. Together, we ARE the peace movement.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

MAJOR NEWS REGARDING U.S. DEPARTMENT OF PEACE – A Call To Action – Senate Interest & Three New House Co-Sponsors! [Message from Matthew Albracht at Peace Alliance]

Some major news from the campaign front. Our [Peace Alliance & DoP] time together in D.C. lobbying our representatives is paying off in off in a big way. At a meeting with our youth leaders in D.C., Senator Mark Dayton from Minnesota agreed to help us "move this forward" on behalf of our children. This is a HUGE milestone in our campaign and for the future of this legislation to have a member of the Senate to express such interest. We need your support today to help us keep up this momentum with Senator Dayton.

Call Senator Dayton's office today at 202-224-3244 and thank him for his interest and support on behalf of our children. [Duchess Note – I called the Senator’s office at 4:50pm EST.]

We are inviting our children to call their Senators and Representative to ask them to support a Dept of Peace. Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at: (202) 224-3121. You can find your representatives at: The new bill number in the House of Representatives is HB 3760.

On the House side, the week is not even over and we already have three new co-sponsors and much interest from others. This is great news! Congratulations to all for you hard work at our conference (and for those of you who called your Representatives from home!) What a remarkable time we had together. It's just the beginning of a new chapter in this historic work together.

Due to a very successful conference, we are experiencing rapid and exciting growth. And now more than ever our work must be of the highest quality. From conference planning to web design to organization and training, our staff continues to keep the campaign moving. Please help us in building an organization capable of moving the campaign forward even more.
If a thousand people donate even $20 dollars a month, then we will be able to fully pay our staff, establish an office in Washington and increase our effectiveness around the country. If you are already a monthly donor, please consider increasing your donation; if you are not already a donor, please become one now. It is only through our shared giving that we will be able to accomplish the task at hand. We gratefully accept one-time donations as well. To donate, visit:

Hard working families need relief from the rising costs of health care, not new legislation that could make our insurance less affordable, less accessible, and less secure. We need your voice to stop this flawed bill before it becomes law:

The House of Representatives passed a federalized Association Health Plans (AHPs) bill that could will weak the protections your state provides for you, remove your right to appeal, and raise how much you pay for premiums. Now the Senate has to vote on this bill. Tell your Senators you oppose AHPs at:

Touted as a "quick fix" for the millions of American families without healthcare, AHPs are only designed to serve the desires of a few small business and insurance brokers rather than actually reduce the number of uninsured Americans. If this bill becomes law, AHPs will be free to eliminate your right to appeal a denied claim, deny access to trusted healthcare specialists like ObGyns and cardiologists, and raise your premiums as much and as often as they wish. Let's remind the Senate what American families need most from our healthcare system: quality, affordable health coverage -- not band-aid solutions that cost us more and offer less protection and less coverage for vital services:

QUOTE OF THE DAY ... We must be the change we wish to see in the world. Mahatma Gandhi

Although Senator Specter - the Chair of the Judiciary Committee - stated Monday that he would not ask Roberts where he stood on Roe v. Wade, Specter devoted most of his questions to privacy and Supreme Court cases related to a woman's right to choose. Roberts refused to state whether he believes the right toprivacy includes a woman's right to choose as recognized in Roe v. Wade.

Equally troubling were Roberts' comments on precedent and the role of stare decisis (the concept that prior rulings should normally be followed), which did not take into account the very real fact that there is more than one way to dismantle Roe. In this coming session alone, the Supreme Court will take up at least two cases related to reproductive rights. The Supreme Court could render Roe v. Wade meaningless even without overturning the landmark decision. Roberts' answers to Sen. Specter's questions did nothing to give Americans confidence that, as Chief Justice, he would protect their fundamental freedoms.

Roberts continued to sidestep questions on privacy and choice asked by Senator Feinstein. Throughout Senator Feinstein's questioning, John Roberts refused to answer repeated, direct, fair questions about whether he believes the constitutional right to privacy includes the right to choose. Check out the transcript of the hearings as published on The New York Times website:

IN THE NEWS.......

AP: Roberts Dodges Specifics on Abortion

Chicago Tribune: Abortion is the '600-pound elephant' at confirmation hearing


Confirm Them: Roberts on Privacy (Read the complete post at
(A collaborative blog organized by that supports GOP causes)

DailyKos (by Armando): Confirmation Conversion?
(Read the complete post at Roberts' assurances on abortion: Less than they seem?
(Read the complete post at

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Sean Bean and Viggo Mortensen [worked on LOTRs Fellowship of the Ring] are attending an after-party for the film "A History of Violence" at the Toronto Film Festival on September 10, 2005.

Sarah Henning / Duluth News Tribune
[Sean Bean (ie: Kyle) stars in this film, along with Charlize Theron & directed by Niki Caro. Opens in cinema's on October 21st.]

Jessica Bennett / Village Voice

The mood was tense at Norman Siegel’s campaign headquarters on Madison Avenue last night as his camp sipped Brooklyn Lager and watched wide-eyed as incumbent Betsy Gotbaum’s vote percentage climbed to 48 percent. Siegel trailed with 30 percent, with the most-unexpected surprise of the night coming from a third-rte finish by virtually unknown candidate Michael Brown, who received 9 percent. Andrew Raseij, the projected third-place runner up, drew a mere 5 percent.

Siegel could not hide his disappointment as word of the final tally came in. He told the crowd it was “a shame” the city would have to see four more years of Gotbaum, who has been criticized for a lack of accomplishment and hesitance to take on the Bloomberg administration. “I don’t think Betsy Gotbaum is an advocate for New Yorkers, and I think New Yorkers lose with her in office,” Siegel told the VOICE. “I hope she learned something from this campaign.”

The civil rights attorney and former head of the New York Civil Liberties Union said he would continue to fight as a private advocate for his vision of “freedom, justice, and equality,” vowing to work toward a New York that could bridge the lines of race and class. “We had lots of dreams and lots of plans but we’ll just have to find other movements to make them happen.”

As campaign volunteer Elissa Jaji put it, “you can’t stop Norman from being a public advocate.” Siegel later joked, “If all the people I’ve gotten out of jail over the years voted, I might have won.”

[Duchess Note -- It boggles the mind how so many New Yorkers will place their vote for a person (Gotbaum) who really has no regard for them or their interests. She's never really done the quality of work or dedication that Norm Siegel has accomplished over the years. Personally, I feel that New Yorkers didn't pull through AND they made the wrong decision during yesterdays primary in regards to Democrat candidate for Public Advocate.]

QUOTE OF THE DAY ... Mankind must remember that peace is not God's gift to his creature's, peace is our gift to each other. Elie Wiesel

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

3rd Annual Dept of Peace Conference - Duchess Brief Commentary
I very much want to take a moment to praise and thank the whole NY DoP group [ie: Joe, Jacques, Craig, Nancie, Susan, Pricilla, Carol, Maria, Ellen, Hector, David1, David2, Liz, Marni, Eileen, Kevin, Kathleen, Kolya, Janet and Barry] who attended the 3rd Annual Peace Conference this past weekend in DC. You are ALL awesome! It was a pleasure meeting and chatting with several of you for the first time. From the bottom of my heart I consider myself truly blessed in knowing and working with such inspiring individuals. Thanks for all the laughter, hugs and camaraderie.

As for the conference itself … OMG … it was fantastic. Whoa! There were many special moments for me … to highlight a few … chatting with Peggy & Heather [2 of the conference photogs] on Saturday, someone’s baby cooing at the end of the Kokomon Clottey [ie: drumming], Dot Mavers rousing all during Tim Reynolds performance of “All You Need Is Love”, Marianne Williamson is always inspiring, listening to Azim Khamisa moved me deeply, as did Brahma Kumaris Sister Jenna [her voice is so soothing], Ambassador John McDonalds commentary and NYC Chapter DoPs own Kevin delightful five minute segment. [So much more, I could go on and will during upcoming "Personal News".] Wasn’t able to attend the remainder of Sunday conference … headed back to NYC … but will purchase ALL the conference on CD. Peace & Solidarity!

QUOTE OF THE DAY ... Without inner peace, it is impossible to have world peace. Dalai Lama


Greetings Peacemakers and congratulations on our first Press Conference on the steps of City Hall. It was a great day and we looked smashing! [Duchess Note: Photos of the event will be posted soon.]

In our effort to get the attention of the NY Media, we contacted over 20 media outlets, 19 peace organizations, and 300 of our own supporters, invited 11 Congress members and got sponsorship for the event by Council Member Bill Perkins. Did I mention we made it to the steps of City Hall? While there were only a dozen or so of us there in person, it’s still a significant first step for breaking into NY media and getting the word out about the Department of Peace.

We were interviewed over the telephone by WBAI (who aired the piece between 6pm and 7pm on September 9th, and we’ll try to get a transcript or tape) and WFUV. We spoke to NY One and NEWS 12 of the Bronx about the Department of Peace, though neither ultimately attended Friday’s event. We spoke to Congressman Nadler and Congressman Rangel in person as they walked by the City Hall area, reminded them about the Department of Peace and thanked them for their support. We also handed out press kits to some media people who were in the area.

And the experience we gained from this was invaluable. We now have a full contact list of media outlets (courtesy of a PR friend), an established relationship with Councilman Perkins office, fantastic talking points about the Department of Peace, a great press release and 15 entire press kits ready to be used for future events. We also have great photos from today for our promotional use. We will follow-up with some News organizations when we get back from DC, sending out the press kits on hand along with the photos.

Additionally, as I monitor the website I see that we have had 72 new visitors in the past 4 days. So for our first time out, we did awesome. It also bears mentioning that we only began planning this event 3-4 weeks ago.

But what really impressed me the most about this event was the teamwork that went into it. It was really moving. On our planning conference call we had about 7 items that needed point people, and everyone either volunteered for the positions outright or simply stepped up to the plate when the time came. This is what a Department of Peace is all about. Offering our talent and passion. Working together in cooperation for a common goal that serves the greater good of our world. I am so blessed to be working with each and every one of you.

Monday, September 12, 2005

More of music's biggest acts, including U2, Coldplay, Beck, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Pearl Jam, have been added to MTV, VH1 and CMT's disaster-relief special, "ReAct Now: Music & Relief"

QUOTE OF THE DAY ... Politics should be the part-time profession of every American. President Dwight D. Eisenhower


Jeremy Schulman, Raphael Schweber-Koren, Media Matters for America
Big Media has given ample space for administration officials and conservatives to spread falsehoods about relief efforts.

Nick Glassman, Pacific News Service
A native New Orleanean goes home -- and finds a war zone of floating bodies, angry survivors and threatening policemen.

Bill Moyers, AlterNet
The notion of spiritual freedom is at risk, and the fourth observance of the terrorist attacks of 9/11 is an appropriate time to think about it.

Sheerly Avni, AlterNet
Political comedian Margaret Cho talks about Hurricane Katrina, stupid white men, and the question on everyone's lips: when can we be funny again?

Mark LeVine, AlterNet
Iraq's new leadership is in a Catch-22: It can't survive without a huge U.S. presence but until it asks the Americans to leave, millions of Iraqis will consider it illegitimate.

Van Jones, AlterNet
The tragedy of Katrina offers progressives the rare opportunity to step in with vision, courage and leadership.

Kate Kendell, The Advocate
California Governor Schwarzenegger's veto of a same-sex marriage law can't hide the fact that gay and lesbian families are winning important victories throughout the country.

Scott Ritter, AlterNet
Hurricane Katrina has blown away the layers of lies peddled by the Republican government over the last four years.

Don Hazen, AlterNet
Americans: Let's not let our clumsy, uncaring government undermine our capacity to help those in need. Here are 10 outstanding endeavors that deserve your support.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

9 [nine] Numbers That Tell Just How Bad George Bush and the GOP Have Been For America

1] 1,841 is the number of soldiers killed in Iraq as of August 12, 2005.
2] $300 billion is spent on the Iraq war as of August 12, 2005.
3] 0 (zero) number of weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq.
4] 4 is the multiple by which North Korea has increased its nuclear weapons arsenal while George Bush led us into Iraq.
5] $236 billion is the SURPLUS President Bill Clinton left George Bush.
6] $333 billion is the current DEFICIT under George Bush.
7] 1 in 5 is the number of American children below the poverty line. An increase of 13% since George Bush took office.
8] 5 million is the number of people who have LOST their health insurance since George Bush took office.
9] 0 (zero) is the number of mistakes George Bush admits to making in his first term.

Let's make their days numbered! Visit the website today.

PEARL JAM'S Fan Club Announced on September 5th that the Latin American Tour is Officially Scheduled!
At long last, South American Pearl Jam fans can rejoice! The band has scheduled eight dates in late November/early December 2005.

Nov. 22: Santiago, Chile
Nov. 25: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Nov. 28: Porto Alegre, Brazil
Nov. 30: Curitiba, Brazil
Dec. 2: Sao Paulo, Brazil
Dec. 4: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Dec. 7: Monterrey, Mexico
Dec. 9: Mexico City, Mexico

[Information on ticket sales and venues are still pending.]


Matt Welch
As Katrina wiped out New Orleans' communications infrastructure, rumors of violence quickly filled the airwaves. The only problem? Few of the reports were true.

Will Bunch, Attytood
In April 2004, some of the best minds who were supposed to be studying and improving Lousiana's damaged wetlands instead found themselves in the Persian Gulf -- restoring the Iraqi marshes.

Dorothy Gaines, Pacific News Service
If your leaders make you responsible for your own evacuation, what do you do when you don't have one dollar to buy gas, or even have a car?

Kelly Hearn, AlterNet
Hugo Chavez has responded to Pat Robertson's call to assassinate him by offering discounted heating oil and health care to poor Americans.

David Corn,
In recent years, there has been no other Supreme Court justice who had a personal history so loaded with racism.

Stan Cox, Prairie Writers Circle
The estate tax is a crucial part of an economy that protects every family's legacy -- including treasures that have nothing to do with material wealth.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


WASHINGTON - September 2 - Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH) gave the following speech today on the House floor during a special session to provide relief money for the victims of Hurricane Katrina:

"This amount of money is only a fraction of what is needed and everyone here knows it. Let it go forward quickly with heart-felt thanks to those who are helping to save lives with necessary food, water, shelter, medical care and security. Congress must also demand accountability with the appropriations. Because until there are basic changes in the direction of this government, this tragedy will multiply to apocalyptic proportions. The Administration yesterday said that no one anticipated the breach of the levees. Did the Administration not see or care about the 2001 FEMA warning about the risk of a devastating hurricane hitting the people of New Orleans? Did it not know or care that civil and army engineers were warning for years about the consequences of failure to strengthen the flood control system? Was it aware or did it care that the very same Administration which decries the plight of the people today, cut from the budget tens of millions needed for Gulf-area flood control projects?”

"Countless lives have been lost throughout the South with a cost of hundreds of billions in ruined homes, businesses, and the destruction of an entire physical and social infrastructure. The President said an hour ago that the Gulf Coast looks like it has been obliterated by a weapon. It has. Indifference is a weapon of mass destruction. Our indifferent government is in a crisis of legitimacy. If it continues to ignore its basic responsibility for the health and welfare of the American people, will there ever be enough money to clean up after their indifference?”

"As our government continues to squander human and monetary resources of this country on the war, people are beginning to ask, "Isn't it time we began to take care of our own people here at home? Isn't it time we rescued our own citizens? Isn't it time we fed our own people? Isn't it time we sheltered our own people? Isn't it time we provided physical and economic security for our own people?" And isn't it time we stopped the oil companies from profiting from this tragedy? We have plenty of work to do here at home. It is time for America to come home and take care of its own people who are drowning in the streets, suffocating in attics, dying from exposure to the elements, oppressed by poverty and illness, wracked with despair and hunger and thirst.”

"The time is NOW to bring back to the United States the 78,000 National Guard troops currently deployed overseas into the Gulf Coast region. The time is NOW to bring back to the US the equipment which will be needed for search and rescue, for clean up and reclamation. The time is NOW for federal resources, including closed Army bases, to be used for temporary shelter for those who have been displaced by the hurricane. The time is NOW to plan massive public works, with jobs going to the people of the Gulf Coast states, to build new levees, new roads, bridges, libraries, schools, colleges and universities and to rebuild all public institutions, including hospitals. Medicare ought to be extended to everyone, so every person can get the physical and mental health care they might need as a result of the disaster.”

"The time is NOW for the federal government to take seriously the research of scientists who have warned for years about the dangers of changes in the global climate, and to prepare other regions of the country for other possible weather disasters until we change our disastrous energy policies. The time is NOW for changes in our energy policy, to end the domination of oil and fossil fuel and to invest heavily in alternative energy, including wind and solar, geothermal and biofuels. As bad as this catastrophe will prove to be, it is in fact only a warning. Our government must change its direction, it must become involved in making America a better place to live, a place where all may survive and thrive. It must get off the path of war and seek the path of peace, peace with the natural environment, peace with other nations, peace with a just economic system.”

Film screening and discussion with Udi Ofer from the NYCLU"Unconstitutional" reveals how paranoia, fear and racial and ethnic profiling have led to the subjugation of our constitutional rights, without protecting us from future terrorist attack. Through personal stories, the film explores how detentions and police infiltration of ordinary Americans has been based solely on unconstitutional directives from the White House and the Justice Department (running time approx. 1 hour).

The free screening is hosted by the Peace Task Force, the New York City Bill of Rights Defense Campaign, the New York Civil Liberties Union and Resistance Cinema (a project of the Education Committee of Not in Our Name and Action for Justice of the Community Church of New York). For more information or to RSVP contact: 212-344-3005 x257

IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM Progressive Democrats of America
Cindy Sheehan has graciously accepted PDA's invitation to attend the PDA Grassroots Strategy Session on September 25th in Washington, D.C. Ms. Sheehan has risen to international prominence because of her unwavering dedication to bring the troops home and end the immoral occupation of Iraq. She will be addressing a PDA forum that highlights PDA's commitment to the long-term process of transforming the Democratic Party into an effective force for social justice and true democracy. Other speakers at the Strategy Day event include voting rights advocate John Bonifaz; Medea Benjamin of Code Pink; Tim Carpenter, Mimi Kennedy, and William Rivers Pitt of PDA; progressive Congress members and their staffs; and PDA national and regional representatives. Use the link below for full agenda. This Grassroots Strategy session holds the promise of being a truly significant moment in the history of PDA and its role in developing progressive legislative, electoral, and movement-building strategies for 2006 and beyond. We are honored to have Cindy join us. We hope you will too. See the link below to register.

1) Grassroots Strategy Session:
2) Agenda:
3) Order Tickets:
4) Donate to scholarship fund:
5) PDA website:

MSN Movies

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


Will Bunch, Attytood
Why was the issue of getting the poor and the car-less out of New Orleans treated like there was no solution, when there was so much that could have been done?

Stephen Zunes, Foreign Policy in Focus
The Bush administration decision that most directly contributed to the high numbers of unnecessary deaths from Katrina was the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Makani Themba-Nixon, AlterNet
The states hardest hit by Katrina are for many African Americans our real home. Once again we are forced to face the fact that to politicians, blacklife is cheap.

Dave Zirin, AlterNet
Governmental hypocrisy is personified painfully in the monument to corporate greed that has rapidly become the earth's most damnable homeless shelter: the Louisiana Superdome.

[DUCHESS NOTE ... Have I mentioned lately how much I loath this damn evil Bushit regime and all the bastards connected with it?!? Grrrrrrrrrrr]

Sunday, September 04, 2005

New Yorkers Remember 9-11 by Lobbying for Peace
On Friday, September 9, 2005, from 1-2pm on the steps of City Hall, a group of New Yorkers will gather to speak about the Department of Peace (DoP) legislation being reintroduced to the 109th Congress on Wednesday, September 14, 2005; and to thank the 9 New York and 2 New Jersey Congress members who are among the bill’s 53 co-sponsors. Each local co-sponsor has been invited to attend the press conference, along with NYC Council member Bill Perkins, who helped sponsor the press conference and supports the creation of a Department of Peace.

Four years have passed since the worst terrorist attack to happen in New York City occurred, and many steps have been taken to ensure it does not happen again. Every necessary precaution to protect this great city should be enacted, and many New Yorkers are getting behind a proactive solution: the creation of a United States Department of Peace. The Department of Peace would work collaboratively with other federal agencies to research, facilitate, and articulate nonviolent solutions to conflict at home and abroad. The DoP New York chapter is sending a delegation to Washington, DC over the anniversary weekend of September 11th, to attend the National Department of Peace Conference where Walter Cronkite is a scheduled guest speaker.

Then they will march, but not in the streets of our Nation’s Capitol. Instead they will march through the halls of Congress meeting with lawmakers to win support for this bill. They have also organized a one-day phone-a-thon, complete with pledge packets that are available on their website ( There is a twist however, the “pledges” aren’t asking for money, they ask for a promise to call Congress on September 14th, to support the bill. Please join us on Friday, September 9, 2005 from 1-2pm on the steps of City Hall to learn more about this historic legislation and the elected officials working for its passage.

[Duchess Note - This tidbit was shared with me by a good friend in Virginia]
West Virginia Health Right Inc
Thursday, September 1, 2005

I don't know whether you saw President Bush's smirking speech last evening, which today's Times calls "one of the worst speeches of his life," or saw his pathetic interview this morning on Good Morning America, in which he praised the comprehensive federal response to the on-going disaster in New Orleans. Both appearances make it painfully clear that the worst president in American history and his thoroughly incompetent administration continue to lead our sad country from one disaster to another.

The president used his air time yesterday and today to lie, there is no softer word appropriate, to the American people about the catastrophe in New Orleans and to dissemble about federal efforts to assist those in need. When the president says, as he said to Diane Sawyer this morning, that no one could have predicted this, he is only demonstrating to a watching world that he has no idea, NO IDEA, of what he is talking about. It was predicted by experts on every cable channel starting last Friday when Katrina set course for New Orleans as a Category 5 hurricane.

Frankly, it's a pretty stupid lie, much easier to expose than a lie about weapons of mass destruction. In this case, most of the country had seen people predicting this disaster, so the president just seems out of touch. What was worse last evening, however, was the giddy, almost joyful, speech the president gave about how much the federal government was doing to solve the crisis. Does he really not watch TV? Does his staff mislead him that much? His casual, careless style was beyond inappropriate. It was obscene.

While claiming that no one could have predicted the disaster, he ignored the fact that his own staff at FEMA warned him in 2001 that the flooding of New Orleans was one of the three most likely catastrophic disasters facing the nation. (A terrorist attack on New York was one of the other three.) Perhaps he was on vacation and didn't read their report.

But surely he noticed when the former Republican Congressman who headed the Army Corps of Engineers protested the Bush cuts in the budget for reinforcing the levees. The president should remember -- he fired him.

And what were the cuts that led to the protest? Worth reviewing, perhaps? President Bush cut federal flood control spending for southeastern Louisiana from nearly $70 million in 2001 to less than $40 million this year. He cut an Army Corps of Engineers request for $27 million for hurricane protection for Lake Pontchartrain to less than $6 million. As a result, for the first time in more than 37 years, work had to stop on strengthening the very levee that broke this week. Actions have consequences. In this case, the consequences are the destruction of a city, the loss of American lives and the incomprehensible image being presented to the world of an American government that appears to be led by a chief executive of such incompetence that you wouldn't let him run a laundramat yet alone a government.

It gets worse. The president cut completely the funding for research on flooding, and he cut all funding for local and state authorities in Louisiana to do a trial run of a disaster scenario. Cutting taxes for the wealthiest people in America and privatizing essential services were more important than preparing for a disaster that every expert was predicting.

What exactly do these Republican political operatives Bush has appointed to jobs throughout the federal government do all day? They certainly don't do disaster planning. How is it possible that four years after 9-11 the Department of Homeland Security doesn't have plans in place to evacuate every major metropolitan area in the country? After spending billions of dollars on homeland security, did no one think that it might be necessary to evacuate large numbers of people after a disaster strikes? Why weren't tents, beds, trucks, boats being kept at the ready for such an emergency? Why were citizens urged to evacuate New Orleans, but given no assistance if they were too sick, old, or immobile? Why were no provisions made for those without cars? If there are no buses in New Orleans, why wasn't FEMA deploying them from surrounding states? Why wasn't the guard or the army directed to assist in the pre-hurricane evacuation?

Why, after all we know about the failure of communications on 9-11, are the New Orleans police and fire department unable to communicate? I know the answer to that. I'll tell you why. Because the Bush administration has opposed every effort to designate a band on the communications spectrum for public safety purposes. If your not outraged, you're not paying attention.

In keeping with his policy of promoting incompetent people, Bush appointed GOP lawyer Michael Brown to head FEMA, despite his complete lack of experience in management or disaster relief. Prior to joining FEMA, Brown's only emergency management experience was as an assistant city manager. So why should we be surprised that FEMA is incapable of getting water to people who have been waiting for it for four days? This morning, the Navy announced that a medical ship would be leaving Baltimore for New Orleans tomorrow! Why wasn't it sent last weekend? What are all of the Louisiana National Guard's amphibious vehicles doing in Iraq? How much use is an amphibious vehicle in the desert?

I want to be clear about this. George Bush is not responsible for the hurricane. But his budget priorities, appointment of political hacks to jobs that require trained and experienced administrators, and his care-free attitude in the face of a monumental crisis has created a tragedy beyond human comprehension. Why weren't federal troops sent to help in the first hours after the levees broke? Why aren't they there today? Why weren't ships pre-deployed in the area with pumps? Why were no hospital ships pre-deployed?

A friend of mine who lives in New Orleans called me this morning from Baton Rouge. His nephew, a fireman in New Orleans, told him last night that they are tying dead bodies to trees so that they can be collected at some point in the future. He saw a baby die outside the Superdome last night. There are people waiting in the wet streets of New Orleans who haven't had a drink of water since Monday. SINCE MONDAY. Think about that. Why aren't Air Force planes dropping water bottles and sandwiches? How about some rafts for the thousands of people wading through filthy water? Has any president sat by so cavalierly while so many Americans have suffered? And then have the nerve to tell us, as George Bush did last night, that this ordeal will make us stronger? Not since Herbert Hoover.

Why weren't the national guards of all the surrounding states federalized and deployed to New Orleans and Biloxi within hours of the hurricane's passing? Why wasn't an aircraft carrier sent to the Gulf of Mexico for airlifting and housing refugees? Why haven't commercial cruise ships been commandeered as emergency housing? Why are troops only being mobilized today, days after the disaster was apparent to anyone with a television set?

This isn't second-guessing. All of these suggestions were part of a plan developed while I worked at the Justice Department a decade ago, a plan that clearly was not implemented by the Republican officials who now have the jobs.

Actions have consequences. Our vacation-hungry president's press secretary said this morning that this isn't a time for pointing fingers. Why not? As people die and one of the world's great city lies in ruins, when will it be time before our country realizes that this reckless and arrogant dry drunk in the Oval Office has a lot to answer for? He's tanned and rested after clearing brush for a month. But now he's on TV calling this disaster "a temporary disruption." That's what one prays his presidency will be, a temporary disruption in our country's proud history.

I don't think I've been this saddened and angry since he made a mockery of our constitution and stole the White House. Please feel free to share this with anyone you wish.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Thursday evening, August 18th, was the monthly NYC Chapter Dept of Peace board meeting. It was again held at Karen’s office in midtown Manhattan and always a pleasure seeing my fellow board members. [They are such terrific folk and I consider myself blessed in knowing them.] Carol hosted the call via the phone from Chicago. Maria, Coco and Vlad were out of town on vacation. Look forward to hearing all about their relaxing holidays next time we meet up. Those at the meeting were Ellen, Karen, Dawn, Joe, Liz, Kevin and I. Joe brought cookies and I contributed seedless grapes. [Being the board secretary I took the minutes.] We covered a lot of turf during our two-hour meeting. A majority of the discussion was on the upcoming Peace Conference to be held in Washington DC in September, our first press conference and implementing new features to our meeting agenda.

Early Friday evening, August 19th, I hooked up with my friend Larry at Barnes & Noble in Union Square. We walked over to where he lives now in Chelsea [neighborhood in Manhattan]. Brought our impromptu dinner [sandwiches from a Cosi-like deli on 9th Avenue] back to his new apartment. He lives in an apartment building that has 21 floors. His new place is on the top floor with a big enclosed balcony off the living room. Larry calls it his penthouse suite. We sat out on the balcony admiring the views of downtown Manhattan as dusk set in, catching up on news and noshing on food with a lovely breeze blowing through the screens. The view of many rooftops is really cool, some with gardens and especially charming when lights come on after the sun goes down. The city is a twinkling, multi-faceted jewel to gaze upon.

On Sunday, August 21st, I was invited over to my friend [ex-E&Y co-worker] Annie’s home for luncheon in southern Brooklyn. This time the subways gave me no troubles at all … not like the previous weekend. Always a pleasure visiting Annie, seeing how much her adorable daughter Rachel has grown. Rachel is now 2 ½ years old, very active and very much adored by her Mum and Dad. Had a yummy home cooked meal by Annie; which consisted of garden fresh veggie dish, shredded cabbage dish, baked chicken & salmon, rice and a yogurt style dressing. Afterwards we watched lots of Bugs Bunny/Daffy Duck cartoons on DVD and played with Rachel. Plus, Annie showed me how to dress up in an Indian Sari. [She has some lovely, colorful beaded fabrics (silks et al) from India.] We had a good laugh while doing that and David took some photos of us in our attire. Overall it was a fun, enjoyable visit.

On Wednesday, August 24th, I had a follow-up appointment with Dr Challapalli [lung specialist] at my neighborhood clinic. The good news is that my situation is improving with the usage of the inhalers. He said a good portion of the inflammation is gone. Plus, we discussed the results from Bronchoscope in more detail. There is NO cancer, tumor, tuberculosis nor emphysema just the asthma. When I arrived home after my appointment, I found the Mammogram results waiting for me in the mail. More good news … my breasts are normal. Hurray! Amen!

The following evening our Support Group session was held in Bryant Park, due to the nice weather. Apparently others from the group were otherwise engaged, so it was just Carol and I. We sat on towels, kicked off our shoes, noshed on the homemade chocolate chip cookies I brought and talked about many different topics for 1 ½ hours. Some of our discussion was on meditation, Dept of Peace, health issues, Indian culture, etc. Bryant Park was busy, but not overly crowded.

On Friday, August 26th, I had a lunch time appointment to get a sonogram done to check out my ovaries. This time around it wasn’t as uncomfortable and the procedure was accomplished quickly. The nasty Cyst that was viewed in sonogram in May is still there, retaining blood and the same size. Damn little bugger doesn’t want to leave when it is suppose too. Grrrrrrrrrrrr!

On Sunday, August 28th, I started off the day with an intense workout session and my Personal Trainer [Marie] keeping me focused for the hour. These sessions are out at a gym near Auburndale, which means I utilize Long Island Railroad. The 25 minute ride isn’t so bad and was reading my new issue of THE PROGRESSIVE. Back in the city I stopped by my office to check emails et al. Received an email from Becca [LOTR/Tolkien Group acquaintance] wondering if I’d like to meet up with her and Jackie down near Union Square. Sure, I’d love to! Got down to Gothic Renaissance [] at about 3:15pm and Becca waiting outside. She said Jackie was inside the Halloween shop next door purchasing elf ears. I wasn’t about to go in there cause someone I used to know is employed at that establishment. My only comment is that the person in question is one crazy, self-centered bitch. No need to soil my blog by uttering her name. Jackie finally came out with her purchase and we waltzed into Gothic Renaissance [108 4th Avenue] to try on wench style outfits for the upcoming Faire at Fort Tryon Park. We were there for about 2 hours and had a blast. The two folk running the shop was terrific and so helpful. There were several outfits [plus naughty corsets] that looked good on me and really emphasis ones figure. Ahem! Sadly, I didn’t have sufficient funds to purchase any of them, but Jackie and Becca picked up some great buys.

Afterwards we headed over to Broadway and 13th Street to hanging out at a Cosi. This particular one is fantastic and kinda reminds me of the coffee shop on TV show FRIENDS. Becca and Jackie had Cesar Salads, while I happily sipped on a Carmel Cappuccino Mocha drink. Sinfully delicious! We chatted about all sorts of topics. Yep, even about our fav movie trilogy, Lord of the Rings. During our repast police cars and fire trucks are whizzing past to Broadway and 12th Street. From where we sat in Cosi, we could barely make out what was going on and then the street was cordoned off. We paid our bill and left Cosi at 7:20pm. Checked out what was going on and learned a fire broke out in building. There were some injuries to a few firemen, but thankfully all were evacuated. From there we strolled up thru Union Square and over to 6th Avenue to window shop. Finally we parted company and went our separate ways. Always fun hanging out with these two gals.

On Tuesday, August 30th, I had an appointment with my gynecologist to go over the results from resent sonogram on ovaries. Won’t go into much detail, as it’s really personal, but suffice to say he’s putting me on “the pill” for six months to correct the cyst situation.

I've recently put up the final update of the notobush gallery - 25 new images collected over the last year to round out the 50 already up. You can view the notobush gallery, view the original archived notobush web site, see an archive of the notobush project in its entirety, as well as visit the peace & justice archive at Forth Position through the gateway located here: Enjoy the images and remember how powerful we are, each of us and together. Unity through Empathy - Thomas Gallagher former volunteer Arts & Culture Coordinator for New York Coalition for Peace & Justice, Stand Up New York, and United for Peace & Justice; former Kucinich Delegate in Brooklyn; founder of notobush & Forth Position Design [Duchess Note - A big hug to a terrific guy, who's energy and enthusiasm is without borders.]

Jamie Kelly / The Missoulian News
Of course you can't have a Pearl Jam concert without the politics, Democratic fund-raiser or not. Vedder didn't disappoint. Jabs at President Bush were everywhere, overt and otherwise. Vedder launched into some improvised lyrics set to "Another Brick in the Wall" as the song "Daughter" closed: "We don't need no misrepresentation/We don't need no Fox News reports/Take your bias and shove it up your asses/Don't you remember what the truth is worth?"

MESSAGES FROM TRUEMAJORITY.COM & CELESTE ZAPALA REGARDING -- As President Bush Leaves Crawford, Gold Star Families Want to Hit the Road Help Fund a Bus Tour to End the War

The support of TrueMajority members has been vital for Cindy Sheehan and the other Gold Star Families in Crawford. For this alert Celeste Zappala, a Co-Founder of Gold Star Families for Peace asked if she could write to our members directly. Here is what she sent us:

Dear TrueMajority Friends,

I am deeply grateful to you for helping me to fulfill my vow to my fallen son to tell the truth about this war. With your support I was able to go to Salt Lake City on the day that George Bush spoke to the Veterans of Foreign Wars. I went with trepidation, hoping that at least 200 people would come to listen to my witness about the true costs of the war in Iraq and to ask the President to explain the so called noble cause that has taken the lives of 1,873 of the best of America. I was overwhelmed and astonished that 2000 people came to stand with me and other military families and vets, to add their voices and passion, to the demand - no more lies, bring the troops home now.

With your help we will carry the message of Gold Star and Military families from the Crawford roadside to the whole nation - we will begin a "Bring them Home Now" bus tour from Crawford, landing in Washington, DC for the massive demonstration on September 24. Visiting towns across America we will be challenging citizens to step up and ask the terrible questions that must be answered about the war in Iraq, to take responsibility for stopping the war, and demand accountability from our leaders. We must take the lead to end this war. In the name of the fallen, we can do no less.

Peace be with you,
Celeste Zappala
Proud Mother of Sgt Sherwood Baker, KIA 4/26/04


Robert Jensen, AlterNet
It's time for white Americans to fully acknowledge that in the racial arena, they are the problem.

Robert Gordon, John S. Irons, The American Prospect
The estate tax represents a very American idea: inherited economic power should not go unchecked from generation to generation. So why are conservatives trying to bury it?

Robert Scheer, AlterNet
No amount of crowing over a fig leaf Iraqi constitution by President Bush can hide the fact that the region's autocrats, theocrats and terrorists are stronger than ever.

Gayle Brandeis, Medea Benjamin, AlterNet
Cindy Sheehan's protest captures the spirit of Mother's Day better than the Hallmark holiday in May.

Will Bunch, Attytood
Washington knew exactly what needed to be done to protect the citizens of New Orleans from disasters like Katrina. Yet federal funding for Louisiana flood control projects was diverted to pay for the war in Iraq.

Mark Trumbull, Christian Science Monitor
As it ripples through the economy in coming weeks, the storm's effects could be big enough to spur wide-ranging changes to our energy infrastructure.

Phyllis Bennis,
The US has issued an open threat to the other 190 U.N. member states, the social movements and peoples of the entire world, and the United Nations itself.

Norman Solomon, AlterNet
Bring the National Guard home now, where they're needed.

Bill Re-introduction
September 14th, 2005
A Call to Action!

Phone-a-thon: Enroll friends and family to call Congress on Sept 14th

On September 14th, 2005, legislation to establish a U.S. Department of Peace will be re-introduced in the House of Representatives. We need your help to show our elected officials that there is a broad and growing movement to support the creation of a Dept. of Peace. We must make it clear that we the people want our government to invest in the structures and systems necessary to promote a culture of nonviolence.

We need you to ask as many friends, family, and colleagues as possible to make a quick call on the morning of September 14th urging their Congressional Representatives to support the bill. Tell them you will call them on the morning the bill is re-introduced to remind them to make the call. If someone does not know the name of their Representative, you can help them find out by taking down their address and visiting

The New York Dept. of Peace group has created an online phone-a-thon registration system for their own campaign - including downloadable sign-up forms and other useful materials to help facilitate the process. Visit to see what they have to offer. It could prove most useful. All material and information was created independently by the New York group.

[We totally rock the house here within NYC DoP!]

Shortly before the bill is re-introduced, we will send out an alert reminding you to call-in and re-iterating the appropriate phone numbers and contact information for Congress (Capitol switchboard is always: (202) 224-3121.) You can give your friends background information on our campaign and the legislation by downloading our Campaign flyer, or you can email them through our Tell a Friend link on our website (if you use email, remember to make a follow-up phone call with the request for them to call-in on the 14th.)

Department of Peace Legislation resubmitted to Congress on Wednesday, Sept. 14th

Action: Dot Maver will be hosting a National conference call to report directly on the exciting activities of the day including an update on our conference! Collect your friends and neighbors and listen in on the call (make sure you have a speakerphone), then write postcards to your Representatives and Senators in support of the legislation. 9pm east coast, 6pm west coast. Go to: to register to participate on this call