Archive for February, 2007

The death and destruction goes on

February 28, 2007

Those who died in Iraq from Feb. 18 to Feb. 24:

Cpl Daniel Morris  19  Crimora VA
Cap Todd Siebert  34  Baden PA
Cpl Brian Escalante  25  Dodge City KS
Pvt Kelly Youngblood  19  Mesa AZ
Spc Christopher Boone  34  Georgia
Sgt Matthew Apuan  27  Las Cruces NM
Cpl Blake Howey  20  Glendora CA
Pvt Bret Witteveen  20  Shelby MI
Spc Montrel Mcarn  21  Raeford NC
Sgt Pedro Colon  25  Cicero IL
Pvt Adare Cleveland  19  Anchorage AK
Pvt Matthew Bowe  19  Coraopolis PA
Sgt Shawn Dunkin  25  Columbia SC
Spc Louis Kim  19  West Covina CA
Sgt  Clinton Ahlquist  23  Creede CO
Sgt Richard Ford  40  E Hartford CT
Sgt David Berry  37  Wichita KS
Pvt Rowan Walter  25  Winnetka CA
Pvt Travis Buford  23  Galveston TX
Sgt Joshua Hager  29  Broomfield CO
Spc Ethan Biggers  22  Beaver Creek OH
Sgt Jeremy Barnett  27  Mineral City OH
60 were seriously wounded and maimed.
87 wounded were returned to occupation.

592 Iraqi sisters and brothers were killed.

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Importance of Not Losing our Vision

February 14, 2007

Below is a link to a thoughtful and inspiring article by Bill Moyers, another Texan who, like Molly Ivins, works to save our democracy at this time in its history. 

Bill Moyers:
Discovering What Democracy Means

In Memory of Molly Ivins

February 12, 2007

February 9, 2007
Patrice Schexnayder
Austin Texas
 

Hello Nancy-
 

            I want to write a bit about Molly Ivins and her “constituents” who gathered Sunday to celebrate her life and her work. Lou Dubose gave us that title – constituents – and it includes all her community of readers.
 

            Lou co-authored ‘Shrub’ and ‘Bushwacked’ with Molly. He said “Molly didn’t have readers; she had constituents. She was a writer who led with her heart. She was such a sucker for the little guy; she stood up against injustice. Molly,” he stated, “was a powerful national force for good.”
 

            Molly was born August 30, 1944 and died January 31, 2007, after a long battle with breast cancer.
 

            All of her constituents that he was addressing at the church didn’t know each other. Some were lifelong friends, some colleagues, and some were family. Others came from activist communities, and there was overlap, but mostly hands, tears and laughter connected us all. Everybody didn’t work on the same issues, though most were about justice. We came from different spheres and phases of her life, but each person felt a profound loss, because Molly’s voice would no longer be the loudest voice demanding truth and justice. And the laughter . . . who would fill the void? Who could?
 

            A eulogist summed up Molly’s role by looking at issues and asking, “What Would Molly Do?” Sure puts a load of thinking on each of us, now that Molly’s writing won’t be giving us a head start. After the service there was a Wake at Scholz Garten, and women of the Austin peace movement sat at a table and made memorial arm bands out of duct tape, each inscribed “WWMD?” They went like hotcakes on a cold morning! I mean, everybody could figure out that if there came a need for duct tape to seal a lock or something small like that, the WWMD? arm band could do double duty. I know they became an instant coveted item in the name of homeland security.
 

            The Rev. Kathleen Jones presided at the “Service of Worship Celebrating the Life of Molly Ivins” that was held at the First United Methodist Church in Austin. It wasn’t even called a funeral at all. But the location of the church was ideal, being directly across the street from the Texas Capitol. It was almost like we were “standing guard,” what with the Lege in session. The reverend said when she talked with Molly at the hospital not long ago Molly noted that preachers should preach with a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other. I think she said Molly was quoting Karl Barth, and that may be so, but whoever originated it, was right, I think. Well, there needs to be a disclaimer on that: I don’t think that includes pack journalism or the propaganda that passes for much of news today. It is referent instead to the kind of writing Molly did, where truth counted. That’s real journalism!
 

            The state of contemporary journalism is a complex problem, and Kathleen Jones knows that. But she knows the Hebrew prophets too, and she said, “I believe Molly was a prophet. What the prophet Micah requires is that we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. That’s Micah 6:8 and that is Molly!” She added, “If the prophets had Molly’s sense of humor, they would have had a better following!” and everybody agreed. That was one of several things said that brought applause.
 

            But isn’t that so real? We’ve got religious institutions functioning like private clubs and handing out tickets to heaven, when they ought to be demanding justice for the downtrodden and speaking truth against oppression. Jesus got killed for doing that, but Molly wasn’t afraid to carry the torch and lead the way. And lead she did!
 

            Her brother Andy Ivins, who was younger than Molly, talked about how when they were kids Molly would walk so fast that it was hard to keep up. “Why do you walk so fast, Molly?” he asked her. “When you look up at the horizon, it makes you go quicker,” was her reply. “I really think she did that her whole life,” he concluded.
 

            Horizons seemed to carry Molly forward, and even now she is leading. Austin singer-songwriter Eliza Gilkyson said she was having trouble figuring out what she was going to sing during the service. She elaborated, saying of Molly, “I lost somebody who was out there, in front of me, leading.” She said Molly was out there in the trenches at the beginning of the Iraq War, when it was said that to be against the war, was to be unpatriotic. Eliza wondered what to sing, and she came across a song by Slaid Cleaves. “I came across it synchronistically the day before the service,” she noted. Saying she felt like it was a message from Molly, Eliza sang “For the Brave,” which has the refrain, “There will be better days, for the brave, there will be better days.”
 

            They say what goes around, comes around, and war is like that. There are bad times, then good times, then bad times, over and over again. Molly was born during WW2, began her writing career during the Vietnam War, and died during the Iraq War.
 

            Dave Richards, a friend since her Texas Observer days, told another story with a theme of horizons. It was a story about how Molly organized a rafting trip through the Santa Elena Canyon in the Big Bend that happened a few months ago. Looking forward to it gave her a horizon toward which to go. She was determined to make the trip, even though she was getting chemotherapy and was really sick. The day after a treatment, wobbly and unsteady as she walked, the group of friends began their eight day rafting trip, and Dave was really worried about her. But she never quit, and each day she grew stronger, he said.
 

             Molly was born in 1944 on the California coast. Her father had shipped out with the military, so her mom moved west to be close to the port into which he’d return. Her sister Sara Maley gave a lot of biographical details and said after the war the family moved back to Texas and Molly grew up in Houston, close enough to Galveston Bay to spend a lot of time with her brother and sister sailing out of the Houston Yacht Club. That time in Texas, which is also the time frame when I was growing up, was different from now. Texas was still industrializing, and city kids could grow up still knowing how to live in communion with nature. Molly liked the wind in the sails, and the freedom on the water. She also spent time in the East Texas forest, and on a ranch she and her brother had in the Hill Country. Living with the challenge of the wild provides cosmic insights that are learned experientially, I believe.
 

            Molly attended St. John’s School in Houston where her writing talent was acknowledged and nurtured. The curriculum must have offered a balance of scripture, tradition and reason, liberal enough for her to challenge the ideas she debated with her father, a Republican employed by Tenneco oil company.
 

            Molly called her higher power Fred, until just months before her death. Her longtime friend Courtney Anderson talked about Molly’s love for beer, noting that it didn’t hurt her writing. She was good, no matter how much she had had to drink. But Courtney said Molly came to the point where she had to quit drinking. I speculate it had to do with alcohol and chemo and her liver. She’d been sober nine months, Courtney said, and then one day Molly stated, “I’m not going to call God Fred, anymore.” With clarity, she elaborated, then said, “The coming in and the going out, is the same.” And that, her friend said, is Psalm 121. Courtney said when Molly died, she had been sober 18 months and two days.
 

            The worship service was eclectic! It began with gospel music by The Gospel Stars. Accompanying some songs there was clapping, and to others arms swayed. There were traditional prayers to the Eternal God. The Rev. Kathleen Jones gave her homily about justice in the scriptures and stated how like Molly the prophets were. The Lord’s Prayer was said in unison, and there was a Dismissal Blessing. Austin singer Marcia Ball playing the piano sang “Way Over Yonder” during the service, and then did two closing songs, “Honky Tonk Angels” and “Great Balls of Fire.” 
 

            Molly, it seems to me, took it all in through her whole life, and treasured what was wise and useful. She’d set it all out in stories that cast light on the subject at hand. She was able to make things clear and succinct, and she could scrape away all the mud that hid the truth.
 

            All the eulogists cast gems to Molly’s constituents. Here are some of the brightest:
            Margo (Marilyn) Schultz, her niece, said: “We all share a need for truth, and a desire for justice.”
            Sandy Speight, her friend, said Molly understood the difference between Yankees and Southerners: “Faux pas are worst than sins, in the South.”
            Linda Lewis, her friend, offered a quote from a column which instigated a two or three minute standing ovation for Molly: “Next time I tell you someone from Texas shouldn’t be elected president, LISTEN to me!”
 

            Molly’s last column was her Grande Finale. About the war which she had opposed from the beginning, she wrote: “We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we’re for them and trying to get them out of there. Hit the streets to protest Bush’s proposed surge. If you can, go to the peace march in Washington on Jan. 27. We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, ‘Stop it, now!’”
 

            As the throngs of people moved from the church to Scholz Garten, two things stood out. One was that several people said, “Molly would have liked the service just fine.”
            And the other thing was, at Scholz Garten there were people banging pots and pans on the sidewalk in front of the beer hall, railing against the war. “Make noise,” Molly had said.
 

            I promise you, Molly, we will. We will!
 

Peace, Patrice
 

Grandmothers for Peace

February 4, 2007

diane.jpg

This is a photograph of Diane Baker whom I met at Camp Casey. An ordained minister, she works in hospice care in Texas and she is tireless in bringing peace and justice to this country and the world.

Though very frail as you can see and not well, she was sentenced to sweep the streets of Washington in the freezing weather last week for having had the audacity in the fall of sitting on the steps of a public building.

Cindy Sheehan writes eloquently of her and other grandmothers who have been sentenced to federal prison. There is a link below to Cindy’s remarks.

What struck me most in them was this:

War is peace; hate is love; injustice is justice; indifference is compassion and this country is seriously upside down from over six years of an administration that thinks that good things are happening in a country where their policies have killed almost a million people and a “president” that goes to Wall Street to congratulate the only people who are benefitting from his tax cuts and war for profit.

That is what I experience, our world turned topsy-turvey, our language abused, our laws and Constitution disregarded. For me, this is why we must restore our democracy and begin by holding Bush and Cheney accountable in an impeachment process that lets us begin to set things right.

Here is the link to Cindy’s statement:

http://www.commondreams.org/views07/0203-22.htm

The Best Memorial I Can Give Molly

February 1, 2007

molly5.jpg molly3.jpg

I decided that the best memorial I can give Molly Ivins, who died yesterday afternoon, is to keep doing what I can to stop this terrible, illegal, immoral occupation of Iraq, prevent further aggression by the United States, and restrore our democracy.

To that end, I once again typed the names of US service people who died in Iraq and the number of others killed and maimed, see the post below. I did what I could to help Tina stop the war by telephoning members of Congress, see the post about Tina and Cloy below. This is the best way I know to say that Molly Ivins’ life and work were grand and good and that she is sorely missed.

Here are links to a few articles about her in the unlikely event you haven’t seen any:

http://www.texasobserver.org/molly_obituary.php

John Nichols:
Remembering Molly Ivins

NY Times Link Here

The Deaths Go On Until We Stop Them

February 1, 2007

campcasey.jpg

Those killed in Iraq from January 20 to January 27, 2007:

Major Michael Taylor  40  Little Rock, AR
Col. Paul Kelly  45 Stafford, VA
Col. Brian Allgood  46  Oklahoma
Sgt. Marilyn Gabbard  46 Polk City, IA
Sgt. John Brown  43 Little Rock, AR
Col. David Conegat  50 St.Croix, VI
Sgt. Floyd Lake  43 St. Thomas. VI 
Cpl. Victor Langarica  29 Decatur, GA
Cap. Shawn Lyerly  31 Pflugerville, TX
Sgt. William Warren  48 Little Rock, AR
Sgt. Jonathan Kingman  21 Nankin, OH
Pvt. Ryan Hill  20 Keizer, OR
Sgt. Sean Fennerty  26 Corvalis, OR
Spc. Toby Olsen  28 Manchester, NH
Spc. Jeffrey Bissson  22 Vista, CA
Cpl. Andrew Matus  19 Chetek, WI
Cpl. Emilian Sanchez  20 Santa Ana Pueblo, NM
Spc. Brandon Stout  23 Grand Rapids, MI
Spc. Nicholas Brown  24 Huber Heights, OH
Sgt. Jamie Wilson  34 San Diego, CA
Sgt. Michael Kashkoush  24 Chagrin Falls, OH
Sgt. Gary Johnston  21 Windthorst, TX
Sgt. Michael Wiggins  26 Cleveland, OH
Sgt. Hector Leija  27 Houston, TX
Sgt. Keith Callahan  31 McClure, PA
Pvt. Darrell Shipp  25 San Antonio, TX
Cpl. Mark Kidd  26 Milford, MI
Pvt. Michael Baisley  23 Hayward, CA
Sgt. Alexander Fuller  21 Centerville, MA
Pvt. Nathan Fairlie  21 Candor, NY
Maj. Alan Johnson  44 Yakima, WA
Cpl. Anthony Melia  20 Thousand Oaks, CA
Sgt. Mickel Garrigus  24 Elma, WA

60 were seriously wounded.
103 were returned to occupation.

580+ Iraqi brothers and sisters were killed.