Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bush Report: A Web of Lies

This is the final installment from Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez's book, Wiser in Battle: A Soldier's Story. Sanchez was commander of the coalition forces in Iraq from June 14, 2003 to July 1, 2004. This is from pages 453-454:
"On March 20, 2003, U.S.-led coalition forces invaded Iraq. Six months earlier, the Bush administration had begun a national media campaign to persuade the American people that Saddam Hussein was a threat to the security of the United States. In September, 2002, Vice President Cheney, National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and other key officials announced that Iraq had long-standing ties to al-Qaeda and by inference, was partly responsible for the 9/11 attacks on the United States. They also stated that Saddam was capable of inflicting death on a massive scale through its pursuit and/or possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). Believing these statements to be true, on October 10, 2002, both houses of the U.S. Congress passed resolutions authorizing President Bush to use U.S. armed forces to defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq, and enforce UN Security Council resolutions.

"In his January 2003 State of the Union address, President Bush asserted that Saddam was in possession of 'the material to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard (gas) and VX nerve agent.. ., more than 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin and upwards of 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents.' He also stated that Iraq had attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production, and had sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. A week later, in February, 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell spoke before the UN Security Councl, reasserted the link between al-Qaeda and Iraq, and presented satellite photos and illustrations that he said showed chemical weapons bunkers and mobile biological weapons factories. Secretary Powell also stated that Iraq's persistent denials of these U.S. charges were 'all a web of lies.'

"None of it was true. Iraq had no links to al-Qaeda, no nuclear weapons program, and no stashes of chemical or biological weapons. I was on the ground in Iraq and I know. We never found anything. And there was no link between al-Qaeda and Iraq, or a major presence of al-Qaeda in Iraq, until after the aborted battle of Fallujah. These facts were verified (in part or in whole) by three independent government study groups: the U.S. Senate Report of Pre-War Intelligence on Iraq (July 9,2004); a British study, the Butler Review (July 14, 2004); and Iraq Survey Group (September 30, 2004), which was initially led by David Kay before he resigned. To use Colin Powell's phrase, then, which was really the 'web of lies' -- Iraq's denials or the Bush administration's assertions?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bush Report: A Confused Pep Talk

More from Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez's book about his time as the commander of coalition forces in Iraq. This was in April, 2004 when a decision had been made in the White House, against the advice of the commanders on the ground in Iraq, to have Marines go into Fallujah to defeat the Mahdi Army and their leader, Muqtada al-Sadr. Sanchez is on a secure video conference with President Bush, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell and others. From pg. 350:
"(W)e have to strike wherever we find them,' agreed President Bush. 'The Mahdi Army is a hostile force. We can't allow one man (meaning Muqtada al-Sadr) to change the course of the country. It is absolutely vital that we have robust offensive operations everywhere down south. At the end of this campaign, al-Sadr must be gone. At a minimum, he will be arrested. It is essential he be wiped out.'

"'What do we call this anyway?' asked Secretary Rumsfeld. 'Is this high intensity, low intensity? what?'"

"Before anyone could answer Rumsfeld's question, President Bush launched into what I considered a kind of confused pep talk regarding both Fallujah and our upcoming southern campaign. 'Kick ass!' he said, echoing Colin Powell's rough talk. 'If somebody tries to stop the march to democracy, we will seek them out and kill them! We must be tougher than hell! This Vietnam stuff, this is not even close. It is a mind-set. We can't send that message. It's an excuse to prepare us for withdrawal.

"'There is a series of moments and this is one of them. Our will is being tested, but we are resolute. We have a better way. Stay strong! Stay the course! Kill them! Be confident! Prevail! We are going to wipe them out! We are not blinking!'"

The Fallujah offensive was planned to take three to four weeks. After it started, all hell broke loose. From pg. 351:

The new fighting on top of what was already going on in the Shia areas of Sadr City and southern Iraq plunged the entire country into violence at some level. Coalition forces were fighting Sunnis, Shiites, and Saddam's insurgents all at the same time. The insurgents were fanning the flames by attacking both Shia and Sunni tribes and blaming it on the coalition. Sunni and Shia tribes were fighting each other. Shia-on-Shia infighting was just below the surface between the Mahdi Army and SCIRI militias. The Badr Corps was itching to get involved. And in the area south of Baghdad where the Sunni Triangle overlapped with the northern portion of the Shia front, Sunnis and Shias were actually fighting together against coalition forces. We were now in the middle of a civil war. And what's more, we had created these conditions ourselves.

Within 48 hours of the offensive getting started, word came down from the White House to stop it.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Bush Report: A Calculated Political Decision

More from Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez's memoir, Wiser in Battle, about serving as the head of the Iraq occupation forces from June, 2003 to July, 2004. This is from page 288:
"I realized that the decision to transfer sovereignty to Iraq by July 1, 2004, amounted to a calculated political decision. The Bush administration knew that things were going poorly in Iraq and were sure to get worse. And with the Wolfowitz, Armitage, and Blackwill assessments now confirming that fact, the administration knew something had to be done immediately so that the November 2004 presidential election would not be impacted. Giving Iraq sovereignty by the first of July would create the illusion that significant progress was being made. It would also provide a full four months for voters to be convinced through the media that America's mission in Iraq had been a success. If things got worse in the interim, the administration could simply blame it on the Iraqis and a bit of bumpy transitioning. The politics of a presidential year were beginning to unfold. It was all about winning the presidential election and maintaining power. And as John Abizaid said that summer, "We just don't know how ugly it's going to get."

The question now is what will the Republicans do to hang onto power this fall. We know, from the insiders who have spoken, that the gang in office now will do anything and say anything to hang onto power. Hang onto your hats, folks. As November approaches, if it looks like Obama is going to win and the Democrats will expand their lead in the Senate and capture the House, there will be an October surprise. As Abizaid said five years ago, "We just don't know how ugly it's going to get."

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Bush Report: A Soldier's Story

While waiting to get my hands on Scott McClellan's confessional about the lies he told as Bush's press secretary, I have been reading accounts of other administration insiders who have gone public about the Bush screw-ups. This is from the preface to Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez's book, Wiser in Battle: A Soldier's Story:
"From June 14, 2003 to July 1, 2004, the period immediately following major combat during Operation Iraqi Freedom, I was the commander of coalition forces, responsible for all military activity in the Iraq theater of war. I was there when Saddam Hussein was captured. I was there when the prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib occurred. And I was there when low-level enemy resistance expanded into a massive insurgency that eventually led to full-scale civil war.

"During that first year of our nation's occupation of Iraq, I observed intrusive civilian command of the military, rather than the civilian control embodied in the Constitution. I saw the cynical use of war for political gains by elected officials and acquiescent military leaders. I learned how the pressure of a round-the-clock news cycle could drive crucial decisions. I witnessed those resulting political decisions override military requirements and judgments and, in turn, create conditions that caused unnecessary harm to our soldiers on the ground.

"When I became a soldier, I was a nonpartisan, nonpolitical individual who believed in the constraints of civilian control of the military. I also understood that, while on active duty, the Universal Code of Military Justice precluded me from speaking out against me superiors while in uniform. If I valued my oath -- and I did -- I had to comply. Since leaving the service, however, I have been encouraged by both civilians and retired four-star military officers to write about my life, my career, and what really happened on the ground in Iraq. I believe now is the right time.

"Over the fourteen months of my command in Iraq, I witnessed a blatant disregard for the lives of our young soldiers in uniform. It is an issue that constantly eats away at me. During that time, 813 American soldiers lost their lives, and more than 7,000 were wounded. I cannot do, say or write anything that would dishonor them. But to not set the record straight would, I believe, dishonor the legacy of their service.

This is from pages 146-150"

"By the spring of 2002, the Pentagon, working with CENTCOM, the lead military element commanded by General Franks, had dusted off contingency war plans and began preparing for an invasion of Iraq. . . . However, the CENTCOM orders changed frequently -- usually on a weekly basis. It turned out that Rumsfeld was micromanaging his generals on issues such as how military forces would flow into Iraq, including their size and composition. Previously, these matters had been the responsibility of the senior warfighting commander. But the Secretary and his staff got so involved, and were so intrusive in the planning stages, that they ended up completely disrupting the process. Constant changes were made to the operation's plans of the warfighting forces. The most devasting impact of Rumsfeld's micromanagement was that warfighting commanders, all the way down to the division level, was never able to plan beyond the basic mission of defeating Saddam Hussein's military. . . . Each time our orders changed, we had to stop our planning efforts, rethink, regroup, and then readjust our training programs. The constant changes drained our staff's energy and negatively impacted our mission-specific training regimen.

"The Secretary of Defense was, in effect, involved in the operational decisions of the combatant commander. In my mind, Donald Rumsfeld had changed the doctrine of civilian control of the military to civilian command of the military (when to go to war, for what purpose, and how to wage the war. That was a very dangerous thing to do, because our national leadership does not have the expertise, judgment, intuition, or staff capacity to make informed decisions or recommendations on the detailed application of military forces."

What I don't understand how Bush still gets an approval rating of 25 percent of the American people. Who are these idiots? Don't they care what he has done to the country?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

JACK Report: Someone Could Get Hurt

Queensborough Community College, where the JACK Quartet performed in April has a trailer on YouTube containing an excerpt of the quartet's performance. You really have to watch this -- it's only one minute and 13 seconds long, and it's not at all what you would expect if you're used to seeing string quartets perform classical music. Son Number Two is the violin player on the far left (naturally, I would object if he were on the right wing.)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bush Report: No Interest in Asking

This is from Bob Woodward's book, State of Denial, from which I have previously quoted (June 14th.) This is from Chapter 22. David Kay, who was put in charge of finding the WMD in Iraq after General James "Spider" Marks couldn't find anything, had a meeting at the White House in which he told Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Rice that he hadn't been able to find any evidence of WMD either. Bush told him to keep looking.
"Kay left the meeting shocked at Bush's lack of inquisitiveness. Kay had a PhD, had taught at high levels and was used to being asked challenging, aggressive questions. A lot of the trauma in getting a graduate degree is surviving the environment of doubt, skepticism and challenge.

"'He (Bush) trusted me more than I trusted me,'Kay later recalled. 'If the positions had been reversed and this is primarily personality, I think I would have probed. I would have said, 'What have you done? What haven't you done? Why haven't you done it? ' You know, 'Are you getting the support of the Department of Defense?' The soft spots. He didn't do it.'"

Interestingly, this is exactly the reaction Paul O'Neill, the first treasury secretary had after his first meeting with Bush.

Jack Report: Celebrating the Summer Solstice in Philadelphia

If you live in the Philadelphia area, you really should go to the Summer Solstice Party starting at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday and continuing until 5:00 a.m. on Sunday. My favorite string quartet, the Jack Quartet, is playing at 8:30 p.m. at the Kimmel Center.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Bush Report: Tempting Faith

David Kuo is a conservative Christian who has worked for a number of right wing icons, such as the author and pundit,William Bennett, former Senator and Attorney General, John Ashcroft, and as a
speechwriter for the president, George W. Bush. After Bush was elected in 2000, Kuo worked in the White House as a special assistant and as deputy director of the Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives. Kuo's boss in the White House was John Dilulio, who spilled the beans about the crass politics of the top Bush people (he called them "Mayberry Machiavellis") in an October, 2002 letter to an Esquire Magazine writer.

Kuo's 2006 book, Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction, is yet another of the books I have been reading from Bush insiders whose consciences have forced them to tell the truth, while I'm waiting for Scott McClellan's book to become available. In fairness, Kuo continues to admire Bush as a person; he just thinks his administration was a failure. Here is what he has to say from pgs. 227-229:
"During the 2000 campaign, a communications guy had come up with the idea to have short slogans placed on a screen behind the president at every appearance. It continued once he took office. For faith-based speeches, for instance, there was typically a blue screen with light blue letters spelling 'Compassion in Action.' Even someone with the news on mute understood what the speech was about. There was also the visual. Concern about the scenery or setting behind the president was hardly new to our press shop. What was new were the former TV news and entertainment producers who worked tirelessly on the lighting and setting to appeal equally to those who glanced at the TV and those really watching.

"Keeping the media busy was easier. They were fed a constant barrage of little announcements with big ones sprinkled in. The big ones were then quickly followed by more little announcements. There wasn't any letup. Also, because the communications shop kept reporters at arms length, the reporters didn't get the inside information or tips to give them a heads up for what was coming next. Already struggling reporters were always behind.

"The approach allowed the White House to make grand announcements and then do nothing to implement them with impunity. Nowhere was this clearer than in compassion announcements. In May, 2001, for instance, the president announced a new $3 billion drug treatment initiative. By December 2003 not a dime had been spent. The 2003 State of the Union address announced our three programs -- but they promptly disappeared. Two years later, the president announced yet another new program to help prevent teen violence. It was touted as a $100 million program. That "$100 million," however, was to be pulled out of the already dramatically underfunded Compassion Capital Fund. It was a mirage. (And one that continues: Whatever became of President Bush's three enormous promises after Hurricane Katrina? It is easy to remember his speech, in short sleeves in New Orleans, with that old building lit up behind him .. . . but anything else?)

"I had been around politics long enough not to be shocked. The announcements were smart politics because absolutely no one called them on anything (with the exception of the infamous 'Mission Accomplished' banner when the president declared the Iraq War essentially over.) As a Christian, however, what appalled me was that this was occuring under the aegis of both the president's faith and his heartfelt plea to "restore honor and dignity" to the White House. It wasn't about honor or dignity, it was raw politics of the sort that old-time political bosses would applaud. Even sadder, the Christian community that elected George W. Bush didn't see any of this. They couldn't; they trusted their Christian brother too much.

"Christians trust their Christian president. This is true of their evangelical political leadership. But of greater consequence, for Christian moms who home-school their kids and Christian dads coaching soccer and everyone who follows the Dobsons and Robertsons and Falwells, George W. Bush can really do no wrong. They assume that since he professes Jesus that he won't do the kinds of things other politicians have done -- break promises, cover up mistakes, parse words, say half truths, be a politician. They figure he has surrounded himself with a staff full of other evangelicals, to provide him with fellowship and accountability. That, after all, is the image carefully conveyed to them through religious surrogates.

"They would be wrong on all fronts. George W. Bush loves Jesus. He is a good man. But he is a politician, a very smart and shrewd politician. And if the faith-based initiative was teaching me anything, it was about the president's capacity to care about perception more than reality. He wanted it to look good. He cared less about it being good."

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Bush Report: State of Denial

This is a quote from Bob Woodword's book on the Bush White House, State of Denial, which I'm listening to in my car. (I've only had a few near misses from trying to write down quotes while trying to stay in my lane. So far, so good.)
"White House spokesman, Ari Fleisher, said on September 5, 2002, 'The President of the United States and the Secretary of Defense would not assert as plainly and bluntly as they have that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction if it was not true and if they did not have a solid basis for saying it.' Fleischer announced again on January 9, 2003, 'We know for a fact that there are weapons of mass destruction there.' In his weekly radio address on February 8, Bush said, 'We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons -- the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have.'"

Meanwhile, the man in charge of searching for WMD, U.S. Army General James “Spider” Marks, was frustrated at how little information he had.
"The intelligence they had on the WMD just wasn't good enough. This is unsat(isfactory), unsat, unsat!' he said. 'This is not working.'"

Marks was told there were 946 sites in Iraq that had WMD and his men were supposed to go in and find and neutralize them, but there were given practically no specifics about what they were supposed to find. Maybe not surprising, since they found nothing; nada; zip. Maybe the guys in the Pentagon already knew what we all found out too late; the WMD was a big hoax. Marks has said in an interview with CQ, in 2006 that the people in the Pentagon responsible for planning the Iraq invasion "ostensibly" cared about WMD, but their "give-a-shit level was really low."

Want another 100 years of the same? Vote McCain.

Groceries Report: Words You Will Never Hear From My Lips

Overheard at our local Aldi's this morning:

"Honey, do ya want the che-ese pu-uffs or the che-ese cu-rls?"
"The che-ese cu-rls."

(Not that my purchases were all completely pure. I just have different sins.)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bush Report: "They haven't thought this through"

More from Paul O'Neill, George W. Bush's treasury secretary, close personal friends of Cheney and Rumsfeld before he joined the Bush administration and became disillusioned at their way of governing. This is O'Neill talking about the run up to the Iraq invasion, (from pages 327-328):
"O'Neill who had sat through scores of NSC meetings was deeply fearful about the United States 'grabbing a python by the tail, by dropping a hundred thousand troops into the middle of twenty-four million Iraqis and an Arab world of one billion Muslims. Trust me, they haven't thought this through,' he said. He was still hoping there would be 'a real evidentiary hearing and a genuine debate' before troops were committed. He knew that it wasn't likely."

Experience anyone? If you want more of the same, vote McCain.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Bush Report: The Price of Loyalty

You may recall that while waiting for the library's copy of Scott McClellan's astonishing mea culpa about his lies as George W. Bush's press secretary, I have been reading accounts by other Bush Administration insiders about what has really been going on for the last eight years. Today's excerpt is from Ron Suskind's biography of Paul O'Neill, Bush's first treasury secretary. The book, The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House and the Education of Paul O'Neill, was written with the cooperation and approval of O'Neill, a life-long Republican, an old friend of Dick Cheney; hardly a left-wing liberal looking to take potshots at the Bush Administration.

At pages 57-58 of the book, O'Neill tells about a meeting he had with Bush on the afternoon of Wednesday, January 24, 2001, the third day of the Bush Administration. He had prepared a memo about economic policy and sent it to the White House in advance of the meeting. O'Neill thought they would talk about the memo and then discuss whatever came up. He started out with a 15-minute overview on the state of the economy; Bush didn't say anything, so he talked about proposed tax cuts. O'Neill expected about a dozen questions and was ready with the answers, but, "Bush didn't ask anything. He looked at O'Neill, not changing his expression, not letting on that he had any reactions -- either positive or negative."

So, O'Neill moved on to related matters: tariffs and free trade. "The President said nothing. No change in expression. Next subject."

"I wondered, from the first, if the President didn't know the questions to ask," O'Neill recalled, "or did he know and just not want to know the answers? Or did his strategy somehow involve never showing what he thought? But you can ask questions, gather information, and not necessarily show your hand. It was strange."

Not until O'Neill started talking about Bush's "No Child Left Behind," program, did Bush say anything. When O'Neill said, "There's nothing more important than nurturing our human potential as a nation -- our future depends on it," Bush shifted in his wing-back chair and said, "Right, that's the concept of disaggregation. I have that covered." O'Neill wondered whether he should point out that the president was misusing that term, but decided not to.

One has to wonder: what are the 26 percent of the American public that still approves of Bush's job performance thinking? Aren't they paying any attention? Maybe they're waiting for the expose from Laura.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Clinton Concession: What do you think?

Here's Hillary Clinton's concession speech Saturday (it's about half an hour long.) Regular readers know that I have not been a fan of hers for many years -- actually, since I heard her speak in our town in 1992 when she was campaigning for Bill. Some of you have been Hillary supporters. What do you think about her concession speech? Is she being gracious and will she be on board the Obama campaign, doing everything she can to help him, or will it still be all about her?

Friday, June 06, 2008

Bush Report: A Failure of Leadership

Here is an excerpt from Chapter 11 of Richard A. Clarke, the former counter terrorism chief under Clinton and Bush about the missed opportunity for leadership by the Bush Administration:
After September 11, Americans were told to shop, not to sacrifice. Far from being asked to pay additional taxes to fund the war on terrorism, Americans were told they would pay fewer taxes and we would pay for the war and additional security by passing the costs to our grandchildren.
Want more of the same? Then vote McCain.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Bush Report: Against All Enemies

Here is another excerpt from the Richard A. Clarke book that I describe below in my May 31 report. This is from Chapter 9:
"When Clinton left ofice, many people, including the incoming Bush Administration leadership thought he (Clinton) and his administration were overly obsessed with Al Queda. After all, Al Queda had killed only a few Americans, nothing like the hundreds of Marines who died at the hand of the Beirut terrorists during the Reagan Administration or the hundreds of Americans on Pam Am 103 killed by the Libyans in the first Bush Administration. Those two acts had not provoked retaliation. Why was Clinton so worked up about Al Queda? In January, 2001, the new administration thought Clinton's recommendation that their highest priority be the elimination of Al Queda was, well, rather odd, like so many of the Clinton actions."

The argument against Obama is that he has insufficient experience in the national government. Bush was being advised by two of the most experienced Washington hands in history -- Cheney and Rumsfeld. Maybe experience isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

No More "Deranged Narcissism"

Although I was happy last night that Obama has clinched the votes needed to be the Democratic presidential nominee, I went to bed feeling sick to my stomach. The discomfort was due to my dismay at Clinton's graceless speech Tuesday night. She had lost the nomination, and if she really had as much concern for working men and women as she has been claiming the last few weeks, then she needed to admit defeat and start the process of motivating her followers to work hard for Obama's election in November.
Instead, we got what Jeffrey Toobin, the New Yorker writer and CNN commentator referred to as the "deranged narcissism" of the Clintons,in which Sen. Clinton was introduced as "the next president of the United States," talked about winning the last primary of the season, when in fact the voting wasn't even over and she did not win it, and claimed she had won more popular votes than anyone else, a dubious claim that includes popular votes for her in Michigan where her name and none of the other candidates' names were on the ballot and doesn't include any votes for Obama, even though, clearly, many of the voters who voted for "undecided" rather than Clinton were Obama supporters.
I went to bed thinking that Clinton is willing to tear the party apart even further to make sure that Obama doesn't win in the fall, so that she can run again in four years. I still do not trust her, but I'm feeling a little better today after the reports that she intends to concede and endorse Obama on Saturday. I am still worried about the price of that concession. Has she been successful in forcing her way onto the ticket, as the vice presidential candidate? She has indisputably been trying. I think Clinton's presence on the ticket would guarantee defeat in November. It would energize the Republican right wing, which is not happy with McCain, but hates Clinton even worse. It would keep Bill in the news. If Hillary could not keep Bill on message, there is no way Obama could do so.
I don't see what Clinton would bring to the ticket, or, if Obama/Clinton were elected, to the country. Her vaunted "competence" is so much myth. She has screwed up everything she has touched, from the failed health care initiative, early in the first Clinton administration to her own campaign. There is no way she should have lost this campaign. She started out with a 30 point lead in the polls. The Democratic party belonged to Bill Clinton. Hillary had all the connections; all the experience in national campaigns and she lost to a little known first termer who raised more money; put together a better staff; had a better strategy and executed his strategy far better.
I will hold my breath until Saturday. I won't really believe that she is conceding until I hear it. And, I won't really believe that she is not doing everything she can to sink Obama's chances until he is inaugurated next January 20th.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Ask Aunt Tillie: Is It Okay To Call God "Mother"?

Blogger's Note: Since this blog is somewhat Amishcentric, I get questions from time to time from readers about Amish life and culture, which I refer to my Aunt Tillie, an opinionated, but humble Amish woman. We usually take readers' questions, but here is a question I asked Aunt Tillie myself and her answer. As always, the views of Aunt Tillie are her own and may not reflect Crockhead's views, so please don't get mad at me if you don't like her answer. Please leave a comment or email me if you have questions you want me to refer to her in the future.

Dear Aunt Tillie:

I just finished reading a book called Is It Okay To Call God "Mother" by Paul R. Smith. You seem to be a fairly open-minded woman. What do you think?

(Signed) Your nephew, Crockhead

Dear Nephew:

Don't you think for one minute that just because I don't have more than an eighth grade education, I don't know when my leg is being pulled. Why in the world would you want to call a man "Mother?" You want to blame women for what God has done? Oh, no, you don't buddy. I won't stand for it. We Amish don't usually make predictions on who is going to heaven and who is going to hell, but I'm pretty confident you won't need a coat for where you're going!

(Signed) Aunt Tillie