Small is the number of people who see with their eyes and think with their minds.” ~ Albert Einstein

A Member of the Patriot Group Riders in Front of WBC Protestors

“Bigotry dwarfs the soul by shutting out the truth.” ~ Edwin Hubbel Chapin

So Kate Gosselin is having temper tantrums on “Dancing With the Stars.” Kim Kardashian is tweeting pictures of herself in a bikini. Madonna wants her daughter to wear more conservative clothing.  

WBC Protestors: Lunatics Laughing

Meanwhile, back in the real world, a 15-year-old New Jersey girl sold her 7-year-old stepsister to a group of men for sex. We’re seeing new allegations that then-Cardinal Ratzinger failed to defrock an American priest who allegedly molested 200 deaf boys in Wisconsin. And an appellate court ruled that Albert Snyder has to pay the legal fees for Westboro Baptist Church to the tune of over $16,000.  

I’m sorry. What? Westboro Baptist Church, that hate group that protests at fallen soldiers’ funerals? That group of lunatics who rejoiced in the deaths resulting from 9/11? That Westboro Baptist Church?  

Let me see if I have this correct:  

  • Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder was killed in Iraq, and his body was sent home for burial.
  • Members of Phelps’s group waved signs saying that “God Hates Fags” and “God Hates the USA” at Matthew Snyder’s funeral in 2006 because “military deaths are God’s punishment for America’s tolerance of homosexuality.”
  • According to a website created in Snyder’s honor, his relatives filed the civil lawsuit against the Westboro Baptist Church to “bring an end to the reign of terror and abuse that they inflicted” upon grieving families of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Albert Snyder sued Westboro and was awarded $11 million (later reduced to $5 million) in damages by a federal jury in Baltimore because the group “intentionally inflicted emotional distress on the family.” This award was overturned on appeal. The case is scheduled to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.
  •  Now, Snyder’s father, Albert has been ordered to pay $16,510 to Fred Phelps, leader of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas for legal costs.

Those are the most basic facts. What you have to infer, of course, is the magnitude of the most recent court ruling. Consider, Phelps and his band of haters make it their mission to protest at military funerals. They wave hate-filled placards at the mourners: “Thank God for Dead Soldiers.” Really?  They sing songs of hate at the top of their voices all in the name of their god, who they say supports their actions.  

Now let me pause here. I am no Biblical scholar, but I have read many parts of the Bible. I do know that the god in the old testament is a more wrathful being than the loving god of the new testament. There is conflict there, and anyone who wants to find verses to support his or her claims can likely do so with enough searching. Still, I find it truly abhorrent that these nut cases are using god as their rallying cry for hate-inspired protests. However, the WBC contends that “God’s hatred is one of His holy attributes,” which in their small minds completely justifies their actions.   

“Too small is our world to allow discrimination, bigotry and intolerance to thrive in any corner of it, let alone in the United States of America.” ~ Eliot Engel

Shirley Phelps-RoperOkay. We’re back to that whole First Amendment thing, free speech for all no matter how nasty, racist, conservative, liberal, whatever. I get it. I really do. I support your right to protest. Hell, I even acknowledge that the Klan has the right to protest. But protest at a funeral? What happened to common decency?  

Have we become such a myopic society of us versus them that we no longer acknowledge even the barest niceties, you know, the right to have a funeral in peace? I mean, and this is a bit off subject but still on the subject of hate-filled protests, when we have been reduced to a society in which people see nothing wrong with spitting on members of Congress (and no, that wasn’t made up. I watched the video showing the spray of spit), what kind of society have we become?  

Of course members of Congress aren’t sanctified, nor are they above anyone else. Having said that, I don’t believe that it’s all right to spit on anyone. That’s the way that my parents raised me. Were these people raised in barns near donkeys?  

But back to my main point: Losing a family member to war, however that person died, is unbearably hard. Burying a child is beyond painful. Imagine, if you will, for one moment what it must have felt like for Mr. Snyder and his family and friends to have to be escorted into the service entrance of the church so that they didn’t have to see the protest signs. Imagine what it must feel like to kiss the coffin of your son, daughter, mother, father, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, while outside litanies of “God Hates Fags” are being screamed across the street.  

No one should have to imagine that.  

“Anger and intolerance are the twin enemies of correct understanding.” ~ Mahatma Ghandi

WBC Protestors: Stupidity Speaks for Itself

A little background on WBC for those of you who may not know a lot about this fringe group. Westboro Baptist Church is a small, homophobic, anti-Semitic hate group that stages protests all around the country. The group pickets any institutions or individuals who they believe are against god’s law, and they believe that their protests are a form of preaching to a country that is doomed.  

Since they are incorporated as a church, WBC is non-profit. It should be pointed out that WBC has no official affiliation with mainstream Baptist organizations and considers itself an “old school” or “primitive” Baptist church, i.e., belief in man’s total depravity and limited atonement for the elected.  

WBC targets include “schools the group deems to be accepting of homosexuality; Catholic, Lutheran, and other Christian denominations that WBC feels are heretical; and funerals for people murdered or killed in accidents like plane crashes and for American soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.” WBC also protests at “dozens of Jewish institutions around the country, from Israeli consulates to synagogues to Jewish community centers, distributing anti-Semitic fliers to announce planned protests at these sites.”  

The only time that WBC has been convinced not to protest is when a local radio station in Pennsylvania offered the group airtime in exchange for not protesting at the funeral of the Amish schoolchildren who were gunned down in 2006 at the West Nickels Mine School.  

“Nothing dies so hard, or rallies so often, as intolerance.” ~ Henry Ward Beecher

Patriot Guard Riders Line the Street of Funeral Procession

Now I would be remiss in this post if I did not take a few lines to acknowledge the Patriot Group Riders as they have been instrumental in shielding grieving families from Phelps and his hate-mongers. I pulled the following from a letter of appreciation to the PGR from a Sergeant after learning of what the PGR does:  

“One thing we didn’t anticipate was the disrespect and hatred shown by the Phelps church group . . . protesting at our fallen brothers’ funerals, waving the banners and signs that they wave so ignorantly and so proud.  The first time I read about that in the ‘Stars and Stripes,’  I had to read it again, because I couldn’t imagine anyone being so hateful and disrespectful.  I just about cried after reading the article . . . Then, a few days later, there was an article about this group of bikers who were now putting themselves as a barrier between the protesters and the grieving families of our fallen soldiers.  I couldn’t believe that when I read it, either . . . the feeling we all felt that someone was actually doing something to counter the protesters was the best feeling I can’t even describe.  I was filled with pride to know that fellow Americans were giving up their time, honoring our fallen, regardless of whether they knew them or not, and providing a barrier from the protesters for the families grieving.”   

According to their website, the Patriot Group Riders have two objectives in their mission when attending funeral services of fallen American service men and women:  

  1. Show our sincere respect for our fallen heroes, their families, and their communities.
  2. Shield the mourning family and their friends from interruptions created by any protestor or group of protestors.

I have seen news footage of these awesome men and women and how they use their motorcycles and the American Flag to shield families from the likes of WBC. I am including a YouTube clip that I hope you take a few moments to watch. I know that watching the clip really helped to quell some of the intense rage that I was feeling immediately after reading about the injustice served up to Mr. Snyder by the courts.   

(If you are interested in making a donation to Mr. Snyder to offset the fine, please visit matthewsnyder.org. Since the announcement about the ruling, Snyder and his family have received thousands of e-mails and letters of support, as well as financial pledges to help pay the legal fees associated with filing a Supreme Court brief, as well as the outrageous fine.) 

  

I am also including a more tongue-in-cheek protest of WBC by Michael Moore . . . “Fred (knows) a lot about dog vomit.”  

  

 

“Man does not weave this web of life. He is merely a strand of it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.” ~ Chief Seattle

What Our House Will Look Like When We Begin Remodeling 

“What we anticipate seldom occurs, what we least expected generally happens.” ~ Benjamin Disraeli 

Would love to have a glass block shower

Well crap. The one day that I really, really need to make telephone calls, the phone is off. Normally, I avoid the telephone at all costs, but today I woke up early to call two doctor’s offices only to find that no calls were going through. I have the worst timing in the world. 

Corey is working today from 3 to 11. He was originally scheduled to do guard duty at one of the yards, but they called him and asked him to stand watch on one of the boats. This is only his third full shift. He worked on Friday and Saturday; on Friday, he spent the day being taken to all of the different docks so that he would know where to go. Apparently, they are not just going to use him at Lambert’s Point as they originally said. Some of the docks/yards are in Newport News, which is all well and good but is much farther, hence, more gas. 

Anyway, I’ve spent the afternoon doing a bit of cleaning and some laundry. I really wanted to get to the ceiling fans, but I think that my back has had enough for the day. It’s very quiet without Corey around the house, but this job will help both of us to get used to him not being around all of the time. 

The weather here has been bizarre the past few days—sunny, warm, cold, rainy. As a result, my sinuses are protesting. What’s new? 

It was a very quiet weekend. Brett spent most of his time at Gordon’s house. He made the passing comment to me that they (Gordon and Tailor) have no idea how easy they have it. I suppose the vast differences in our lifestyles are really laid bare when he visits them. They live in a very nice suburb in Virginia Beach. I asked Brett if it was hard for him to see that, and he said that it wasn’t hard, but it made him realize how easy other people have it as compared to us. I assured him that one day our lives would get back on track, and things would be easier. 

Here’s hoping. 

“Fate is like a strange, unpopular restaurant, filled with odd waiters who bring you things you never asked for and don’t always like.” ~ Lemony Snicket

Almost Gutted Kitchen (not ours but could be)

I was watching “Holmes on Holmes” last night, and Mike Holmes was redoing a kitchen. As usual, he didn’t stop with gutting the kitchen, he went into the dining room and sitting room as well, tearing everything down to the studs. When I watch his show, I get so many ideas about how we can fix this house, but I also realize that none of the repairs that we need to make will be easy. 

For example, the wall in the living room on which the window is situated is going to need to be torn back to the studs because there is water damage from the window A/C unit that has been there for years. To fix that one thing, we need to rip out the window, tear down the wall, and replace both from scratch. However, we really cannot take that air conditioning unit out until we get central air. To get central air, we really need to replace the old duct work. When we replace the old duct work, we need to put in new insulation . . . 

I mean, even the fireplace needs to be redone. The reality is that there is no one small thing that we can do. I fear that when it really comes down to it, we are going to have to gut a lot, put up a lot of plastic sheeting, and just rebuild. 

“It is a mistake to try to look too far ahead. The chain of destiny can only be grasped one link at a time.” ~ Winston Churchill

How I would like to remodel my fireplace with bookcases

So other than those tidbits, not a whole lot going on. I think that I’m going to abandon the book on Mary Queen of Scots because I am finding it tedious. Perhaps I am not in the right frame of mind, but the endless lists of names is keeping me from making any real progress. 

The other night I watched a show on the Travel Channel about the ten best beach resorts in Mexico. Why? Am I trying to torture myself? White sand, blue water, palm trees. I could so do that in less than a moment’s notice. Of course, doing such a thing requires funds; funds require a job; a job requires stamina; ya da ya da ya da . . .  Meanwhile, back in reality, one of the neighborhood children is screaming at the top of his lungs directly outside my window, which is making the dogs bark as if Genghis Khan is invading. No Mexico for me. 

The word for today is sesquipidalian, a long word meaning long word. I love the way this word sounds, and it popped into my head when I was trying to think of the antithesis of Sarah Palin. Don’t ask me why I was thinking about this or her or whatever. Anyway, my sentence using my word for today is the following: Sarah Palin, when faced with the sesquipidalian oratory of her opponent, predictably resorted to a toothy smile and a “dontcha know” retort . . . 

I do have one interesting thing to report before signing off: Last night, I dreamed that I was hugging my father, and at the precise moment that I touched him, he became a bright light, so bright that I could not look at him. I woke up crying to a booming thunderstorm with bright flashes of lightning. Funny how the mind works in sleep. 

More later. Peace. 

Music by System of a Down, “Lonely Day” 

 

 

“What we face is above all a moral issue; that at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country.” ~ Senator Ted Kennedy

“I came to believe that soon, very soon, affordable health coverage will be available to all, in an America where the state of a family’s health will never again depend on the amount of a family’s wealth.” ~ Senator Ted Kennedy

The following is taken from a post by Populista at Daily KOS. I am reprinting some of it here because I believe that this information far outweighs every stupid sign that makes my blood boil.

A few noteworthy statistics:

32 million of our brothers and sisters who would not have had healthcare coverage will have it because of this bill.

150,000 people who would have died will live because of this bill.

Our deficit will be reduced by $138 billion over the next decade because of this bill.

“The great unfunished business of our society” ~ Senator Ted Kennedy 

Before he died, Senator Ted Kennedy wrote President Obama a letter:

Dear Mr. President,

I wanted to write a few final words to you to express my gratitude for your repeated personal kindnesses to me—and one last time, to salute your leadership in giving our country back its future and its truth.

On a personal level, you and Michelle reached out to Vicki, to our family and me in so many different ways. You helped to make these difficult months a happy time in my life.

You also made it a time of hope for me and for our country.

When I thought of all the years, all the battles, and all the memories of my long public life, I felt confident in these closing days that while I will not be there when it happens, you will be the President who at long last signs into law the health care reform that is the great unfinished business of our society. For me, this cause stretched across decades; it has been disappointed, but never finally defeated. It was the cause of my life. And in the past year, the prospect of victory sustained me—and the work of achieving it summoned my energy and determination.

There will be struggles—there always have been—and they are already underway again. But as we moved forward in these months, I learned that you will not yield to calls to retreat—that you will stay with the cause until it is won. I saw your conviction that the time is now and witnessed your unwavering commitment and understanding that health care is a decisive issue for our future prosperity. But you have also reminded all of us that it concerns more than material things; that what we face is above all a moral issue; that at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country.

And so because of your vision and resolve,  And while I will not see the victory, I was able to look forward and know that we will—yes, we will—fulfill the promise of health care in America as a right and not a privilege.

In closing, let me say again how proud I was to be part of your campaign—and proud as well to play a part in the early months of a new era of high purpose and achievement. I entered public life with a young President who inspired a generation and the world. It gives me great hope that as I leave, another young President inspires another generation and once more on America’s behalf inspires the entire world.

So, I wrote this to thank you one last time as a friend—and to stand with you one last time for change and the America we can become.

At the Denver Convention where you were nominated, I said the dream lives on.

And I finished this letter with unshakable faith that the dream will be fulfilled for this generation, and preserved and enlarged for generations to come.

With deep respect and abiding affection,
—Ted

The Least Among Us . . .

In good conscience, when I tried to choose which parts of the letter to reprint, I realized that I had to post all of the late Senator’s words. Ted Kennedy fought decades for healthcare reform, knowing that a country is only as great as its citizenry. If even a fraction of its citizenry is oppressed by economic factors that inhibit the ability to prosper—intellectually, physically, emotionally—then that country can never truly call itself great. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 15.9 percent of Americans do not have healthcare. Wow. Staggering.

For every angry tea bagger out there who carps that healthcare reform will take us down a dark road, I have one question: Are you proud of the fact that the United States, this glorious powerful country, is ranked with some of the smallest third world countries when it comes to infant mortality? All of your bombastic declarations will not hide the more shameful realities of how we as a nation treat the poorest in our population.

I am fairly certain that our Constitution says something about “we the people,” not “we, the fortunate people,” or “we, the only people who matter,” or “we, the people who are fine and everyone else is f*cked.” To form a more perfect union we first have to right the wrongs, rid the injustices, and create a more balanced playing field. Oh there I go again, being a wide-eyed idealist. How very stupid of me.

More later. Peace now, more than ever.

Ruthie Henshall, “I Dreamed a Dream”