Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Cure the Disease By Cindy Sheehan

Oftentimes when I am interviewed before a speaking engagement, the reporter will ask me what I am going to talk about. I often answer: "I have no idea, but I am excited to find out!"

I never write speeches, and I rarely even make notes. I just speak from my heart, and many times, I am even surprised by what I say.

Recently, I was speaking to a very large, warm, and enthusiastic crowd in Cincinnati. My thinking has been evolving about what I call BushCo. I started out believing that George was just a puppet (although willing) of a much larger machine that used him as badly as he was using his troops in his role as commander in chief. I still believe that.

Yet, although George is the not so clever, greedy, power-hungry string-puppet of many clever, greedy, power-hungry puppeteers, he is not the problem: he is just the symptom of a much greater problem: the corruptness of our democracy.

I was conveying this thinking to the audience at my talk in Cincy when I said, "George Bush is only a boil on the ass of democracy." He is not, no matter what the world thinks, the ass and, similarly, he is not, no matter what he thinks, the democracy. No doubt about it, he is a boil that needs to be lanced (impeached and removed from office) to cure immediate problems, such as crimes against humanity, but lancing him is only temporary relief. We have to look at why our democracy was so ill that it manifested itself in the symptom of George Bush. A symptom is also a warning sign and a wake up call. Let's examine the disease before we break out in more boils ... which could be even more severe and poisonous than George.

One of the deep-seated diseases in the USA is the false sense of patriotism that we are infected with from the time we are toddlers that allows our leaders to mislead us into war after war. Between the first and second world wars, Marine Major General Smedley Butler wrote the seminal work, War is a Racket. Up until that time, he was the most highly decorated Marine in history. He wrote in the first two paragraphs of his booklet:
War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.
A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small "inside" group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.
These occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan are nothing but sickly rackets, with the war machine getting wealthy off of our children's flesh and blood and off of the ruination of two countries and the deaths of many, many civilians. One way to cure the disease of losing our children in war that infects the mere citizens of America while the war profiteers' bank accounts are glowing with health is to quit giving the military industrial complex our children, like fatted calves, to be sacrificed for their own bottom lines. We must know deep in our hearts and teach our children that our military only exists to keep the world safe for our corporations and that our military should only be used, as General Butler said, to defend our country.

Recently, the US administration claims to have killed al-Qaeda leader al-Zarqawi and crowed about killing the man who Rummy called the person responsible for killing more innocent men, women and children than anyone in the world (was he looking in a mirror?). I and anyone else with eyes have to be skeptical that a person who had two 500 pound bombs dropped on his head would look so good in his nicely framed "death" photo. My dear friend Michael Berg, whose son Nicholas was allegedly beheaded by al-Zarqawi, had the unmitigated nerve to go on national TV and say that, no, it did not make him feel better that this person was killed, because he knows that it won't bring Nicholas back and in making al-Zarqawi a martyr it will probably only increase the violence. Violence is a cycle that can be stopped by stopping violence. Michael, who is running for Congress on the Green Party ticket in Delaware, knows that our diseased democracy really killed his son, anyway.

BushCo. keeps spewing the vomit that we have to "honor the sacrifices of the fallen by completing the mission for which they gave their lives." Number one, they didn't "give their lives," they were stolen by the tumor of the war machine, and number two, it is seriously disordered when one has to keep killing more people just because so many have already died. Since the "mission" erupts from the same boil that is on the ass of our democracy, the mission is inherently disordered. The cycle of violence has to stop somewhere before our democracy can even sit up in bed.

Our society is a violent one:

among the most violent on earth. Individually, we need to cure and purge our own hearts from any violence in them. Each and every one of us has the responsibility for stopping our own violence and encouraging our children, friends and family members to do the same. Only then can we point at our leaders and demand that they stop their violence in our names. Or, even better, we can elect leaders who are advocating for a Ministry of Peace to be a much needed check and balance on the War Department. Gandhi said that all humanity has a "heart unity." Our hearts are connected to everyone on this planet and when we allow our leaders to kill innocent people, it is like we are damaging or killing our own hearts, like a smoker who can't quit even though he/she knows what the poison is doing to his/her heart.

In the USA, we allegedly have a two party system (that is only traditional and not mandated by the Constitution) and each party should provide tension and checks and balances on each other. As I see it, in our ailing democracy one of our biggest problems is that we now have a one party system. True, there are many courageous members of both parties who have been or are speaking out against the war, but mostly they are all bobble-headed, rubber stamp co-conspirators in the crimes of BushCo. When it comes to social issues like gay marriage and a woman's right to choose, give me a Democrat any day; but when it comes to issues of war and peace, I am afraid the Democrats are getting their strings pulled by the same greed-infected puppeteers that are pulling the strings of the Republicans. To prove this, we only have to look at how many Democrats in both houses are NOT supporting bills or resolutions that have been introduced by such public servants as: Rep John Murtha (D-Pa.), Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.). We can also see how most members of both houses keep on giving the boil more money to wage the killing in Iraq. It is shameless, but Congress is suffering from the same disease as the executive branch of our government.

Congress-itis can be cured, but only when a few basic treatments are accomplished:

  • Fix the voting machine problem. The GAO has estimated that 350,000 votes were miscounted, lost, or disappeared into the thin air of the Ohio political machine run by the current Republican candidate for Governor of Ohio, Ken Blackwell. We cannot assure that our democracy will be healthy again without having paper trails for each vote.
  • We voters need to start voting courageously with our consciences. We need to vote for individuals who reflect our Beatitudes. We cannot keep stepping into the voting booth and holding our noses and voting for the "lesser of two evils" because we are afraid of wasting our votes. If we consistently vote for the lesser of two evils, we will perpetuate the cancer of greed for power and mammon.
Recently, Progressives had at least two wonderful chances to offer two candidates for Congress who would have made a tremendous difference in curing the disease that afflicts our Congress: Christine Cegelis in Illinois and Marcy Winograd in Los Angeles. In each case, voters chose the other candidate, and in each case the victors are not calling for an end to the occupation of Iraq (Marcy's opponent, incumbent, Jane Harman, consistently supports BushCo. in carrying out the war crimes in Iraq) or an investigation into the symptomatic diseases of BushCo. Both Marcy and Christine would have gone to Congress calling for an immediate end to the occupation of Iraq and impeachment hearings for BushCo. But the power of the party machine in Christine's case that airlifted a disabled Iraqi war vet who supports the continuing occupation of Iraq into Cegelis's district, and the club of incumbency and defective machinery in Marcy's case, have left us with just a deepening of the illness - no relief, whatsoever.

Fascism is a hard concept to define. Most people think of dictators and armies marching in lockstep in grand parades, but one of the classical definitions of fascism is when corporate interests run the government and when the corporate-owned government controls the media. We have seen this in very real practice: we know that our government has paid journalists to spread propaganda like it is fact, especially in Iraq, where the people of Iraq are propagandized by the Pentagon. We live in a very dangerous age, in which our information has become sensationalized and we are told that we should care more about Lacrosse sex scandals then we are to care about crimes against humanity perpetrated by our government. Not one corporate-owned media outlet will even dare claim that our sick leaders in DC are committing crimes against humanity.

We are ill-informed, and that contributes to the illness of our democracy. Martin Luther King Jr. said: "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." We must sincerely seek out the truth and be conscientious in our search for justice and peace. We cannot allow ourselves to wallow in the numbness of apathy any longer.

One of the most pervasive illnesses that is affecting our democracy is that of apathy and complacency. Dr. Howard Dean said that democracy fails when we wait for our neighbor to practice it. In my travels around the world I marvel at the level of knowledge that most of our brothers and sisters in other countries have about American current events. They are far more savvy about the machinations and workings of our government than many of our citizens here. I believe that the combination of all of the above deep-seated maladies strive to make this so. An entertained electorate is far preferable to an informed one.

We need to take the responsibility on ourselves to inform our decisions with balanced material and to shut out the rhetoric and the political punditry that tells us all about what we just heard and what we should think about it. We need to look for honest reporting: as Jack Webb used to say, "Just the facts, ma'am." We not only need to be informed, we need to take direct action on all fronts to holistically restore our democracy to health.

I fully endorse and advocate an investigation into the lies, treason, and crimes against humanity that BushCo. are perpetrating on the world. Justice needs to be served. However, and this is an important
point: even if we rid our government of every neo-con cyst that is festering on our democracy, what we get in replacement will still be corrupt and the change will be meaningless unless the disease that is affecting our democracy is healed.

Our democracy is on its last legs thanks to the murderous policies and the mutilation of our Constitution by BushCo. and its free rein from Congress and "we the people," but it can be nursed back to health. It may take a miracle, but we have seen those before. Extreme intervention must begin now.

We are the miracle workers we have been waiting for. Let's get busy, stat!


Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Casey Sheehan, who was killed in Iraq on 4/4/04. She is the co-founder and president of Gold Star Families for Peace, and the author of two books: Not One More Mother's Child and Dear President Bush.