Monday, December 18, 2006

I LOVE L.A.

I am in Los Angeles, blogging from my buddy Ben Baker's crib in west Hollywood. Ben played the title role in Macbeth at Richmond Shakespeare Festival this past summer, and has graciously (Or insanely) offered to let me crash at his place while I look around & see what LA is like. So far-- I LIKE IT. I REALLY LIKE IT.

I would even venture to say that I love it.

There's a real sense of possibility here, a kind of upward enthusiasm that is very inviting. I love LA because it's almost like you can speak it aloud and it can HAPPEN. One can almost hear the song of fame and fortune whispering its' tune in the smoggy-ass air. That's very weirdly naive, but it's just a feeling I get.

Of course, I think what I've heard is the same siren song that calls to people from all over the country, telling them to steer their ship of dreams westward in a rapturous voyage of discovery and fearlessness, only to eventually lead them to die slow, painful deaths on the sharp, morally and spiritually bankrupt rocks of misery, disillusionment and failure.

HONEY, PACK THE CAR!!

Yeah-- The world of comedy is centrally located in Los Angeles, methinks. Comedy is VERY big here, and while it is hard to break through, it is certainly possible to do so, and potentially very rewarding. I've met some very funny and talented people during my brief visit.

It isn't just the people in the comedy industry that I find funny-- I've seen some folks on the street who are so outrageously trendy that it is almost laughable. My favorite current trend is the 'Paris Hilton Look' preferred by lots of the ladies... I've seen waify, seventy-eight-pound blonde women wearing what look like oversized protective NASA goggles smacking their gum and talking loudly on cellphones while carrying little designer dogs. These women have tatoos written in chinese characters on their lower backs, yet the gals are so skinny that you can almost see the reverse of the tattoos peeking through their stomachs. These gals wear $200 jeans with garish sequined belt-buckles and flip-flops everywhere and they look like they haven't slept in eight days. Yikes. Thank God I wouldn't have to worry about dating if I moved out here.

Of course, if I were single, I'd be too broke to date. Because I'd probably be at the Spearmint Rhino all the time.

The cars on the roads are a trip. Lots of mini-coopers. And I've noticed that For every Prius, there's a Hummer-- How's that for ecological balance?? I've also gleaned that every overpriced designer furnishing store sells a wide variety of expensive buddha statues. This makes me chuckle, because the Buddha taught a method of eradicating our illusions, yet illusions are the main stock-in-trade of the Los Angeles area. One can buy a seven-thousand dollar Buddha statue to perpetuate the illusion that one is a Buddhist.

... Whatever being 'Buddhist' even means... I am smiling mischeviously as I type...

I have been running SantaLand Diaries for almost three weeks now, and the people at the Villa Resort in Palm Springs have treated me like part of the family. The meals ae great, the accomodations first-rate, and the two owners, Reuel "Yule" Olin and Bob "You're a mean one, Mister" Grinchuk are really fantastic people who have carved a virtual oasis out of the desert.

The show has been received very well, and I've been on the Bobby English Radio Show a few times to promote it. I've also found myself on the cover of more than a few Palm Springs area desert entertainment guides, including one which contained a feature story on the show-- the coolest part is that on the flip side of my story there was a feature on TONY FREAKING BENNETT!! Upon seeing that, I said, "Tony Bennett?? Gee-- That ain't bad now, is it??" I kept flipping the page to make sure Tony's picture was still there and I wasn't dreaming.

I was like:

"Tony Bennett." (Flip) "Scott Wichmann." (Flip) "Tony Bennett." (Flip-Flip-Flip) "Tony Bennett." (Flip) "Scott Wichmann."

That's a good way to kill three hours. But for me, it never gets old.

Last week I went to a taping of JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE, where I did a monologue from 'SantaLand' between set-ups During an impromptu audience "Talent Show" designed to keep the crowd on it's toes. One guy did 'The Worm' dance, another guy Rapped, two other guys sang, and I did my monologue. I only had two minutes to squeeze the monologue in-- I was pressed for time, so I had to make it quick.

I launched into the monologue with an almost savage intensity, and the audience was like "Who the hell IS this guy??" They didn't laugh a whole lot, because they were still trying to figure me out, but I didn't care. I won a bright orange 'Jimmy Kimmel' XL T-shirt which makes me look like a walking packet of TANG. I look like the Kool-aid man's sick nephew. Astronauts absolutely love me now. They stop me on the street and make me pose for pictures with them.

Then they try to drink me, but I flee and escape. I look behind me and see them bouncing along, slowly lumbering after me.

Okay. I'll be truthful.

That's only happened once.

Anyway-- OOOH!! I got to meet Dickie Barrett, front man for THE MIGHTY MIGHTY BOSSTONES. Dickie is Jimmy Kimmel's announcer and New England ROYALTY as far as I'm concerned. I also had the distinct pleasure to meet the inimitable Uncle Frank, who afterwards shook my hand firmly and told me "You're a very, very talented young man." I said, "Thank you, Uncle Frank."

To top it all off, Sly Stallone was the guest that night on JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE. I cheered for him until I was hoarse.

I'm a complete and utter geek.

But I had lots of fun.

I've also seen two performances from The Groundlings, the LA Based comedy troupe which was home to such comedic luminaries as Paul Reubens, Will Ferrell, Julia Sweeny, Kristen Wiig (My new Personal Favorite), and Chris Parnell, among many others. I watched the long-form improv show on wednesday, and last night I went to see the 'Sunday Company' which is like the Pawtucket Red Sox of the Groundlings Organ-Eye-Zay-Shunn.

Former Richmond actor Cliff Todd is the Groundlings office manager, and he gave me a brief rundown of the Groundlings training program. It features a rigorous course of improv and writing workshops, plus a placement audition and hours upon hours of character work & story-shaping exercises. The training can be expensive, and the competition is stiff, but the results can be downright astonishing. There were moments during both shows where the audiences were rolling and the energy was electric.

I had dinner with Cliff and his wife Michelle Carter, who looks and feels fantastic after whiping cancer's ass. Michelle was celebrating a birthday and graciously allowed me to tag along to her party. Those two are doing GREAT. Cliff has been seen in a national ad for RE/MAX realty agency (the one where the couple is blindfolded by the cheapskate realtor as he drives to look at houses) and Michelle has been doing great too, working on several TV Shows and Game Shows.

Also present was my friend Rodney Hobbs, a very talented actor (I directed him in Topdog/Underdog) who has been doing quite well for himself as well. Rodney does the voice of 'Orlando' in an online cartoon called Orlando's Joint, and he has also been seen on The Bernie Mac Show. Rodney will soon be seen in the upcoming film Dreamgirls.

After the movie comes out, Rodney will then hire me to write his damn bio.

I caught up with Foster Solomon & Susan Sanford (Plus two year-old Trey) and they are dong quite well. Foster is teaching at a prestigious middle school whose name I forget (urgghh!!) and Susan is a full-time mom to the boy genius that is Trey Solomon. I bought them the movie ELF for Christmas, and we all watched it before I went to the Groundlings show with Cliff. While watching the film, I commented on the young girl in the film, Zooey Deschanel, saying how talented she was & how she should put out an album-- since she does all of her own singing in the movie.

After the movie was over, I bid Foster, Susan & Trey a heartfelt goodbye and met Cliff at the Groundlings theatre. Cliff and I took our seats, and Cliff asked me what I did that day. I told him how I went sightseeing and then watched ELF at Foster's house. I again remarked how great I thought Zooey Deschanel was in the film.

Two seconds later, Zooey Deschanel sat down in the seat directly in front of me to watch the Groundlings perform. As The light dimmed, I looked over at Cliff wih a huge, Chesire Cat grin on my face.

I love LA.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

I AM MY OWN ...ELF??


Cover Stories

‘Santaland Diaries' ~ Sure cure for Christmas cranks

By Dale McKinney
Desert Entertainer Magazine


Let's be honest - at some point the holidays' cheer always becomes a bad case of Christmas cranks. The best way to cure the seasonal psychosis is with a good dose of laughter.

Starting Nov. 30, “Santaland Diaries,” playing at the V-Lounge at the Villa Resort (behind Boomers in Cathedral City) will be playing through Dec. 23 - see it when before you snap. East coast actor Scott Wichmann stars in what the “New York Times” dubbed “A delightfully thorny account of working as a yuletide elf at Macy's.”

The author, David Sedaris, who made his fame reading his own works on National Public Radio and is the brother to actress/writer Amy Sedaris (“Strangers With Candy”), wrote about his humiliating experiences during his lean and hungry days working as a elf for Macy's enormous Santaland in New York City in his collected stories “Barrel Fever.”

As you can imagine, the real life of a Macy's elf is not a happy one. There's your demeaning costume, your forced cheerfulness, your corporate torturers, the imperious demands of parents, the unruly kids and, of course, all the crazy co-losers who work with you. On stage, the visual humor plays to the max.

As a struggling actor, Wichmann was no stranger to the world of degrading jobs a performer needs to make ends meet between professional gigs. “I worked at F.A.O. Schwarz as a toy demonstrator,” he recalls over the phone in our interview, “and they had this one toy that just absolutely humbled you. It was called the ‘Butt-head.' I had to put on this huge Velcro head and hand these balls out and have people throw them at me. I had to walk up to people and ask ‘Hey! Wanna play Butthead' with me? I would go home and think ‘There's a kid in my graduating class that's worth six million today and I'm getting balls thrown at my head for a living.'”

Playwright Joe Mantello's stage adaptation of the short story is very faithful to the original, so how hard is it to turn the cynical, dry wit of Sedaris into a comic stage performance? “So many people say comedy is hard,” Wichmann laughs, “but I say comedy is hard - if you're not funny.” For instance, when a pompous parent declares to “Crumpet,” the elf-costumed Sedaris, “I'm going to get you fired,” Sedaris deadpans, “And I'm going to have you killed.” Or when another parent insists that Crumpet tell her son to be good or he'll get coal for Christmas, Sedaris explains that Santa doesn't do coal anymore. “He sneaks into your house and robs you. He'll steal all your appliances and leave you in the dark and cold.”

But Wichmann has no fear of the caustic humor. “I first worked very hard not to sound like Sedaris,” he explains, “and simply be real, be me, and really take off when I play the different characters - like the woman who wants her kid to ask Santa to stop animal testing - I had so much fun playing the contrasting characters to Crumpet.”

And what part of the play does Wichmann find the funniest? “I honestly just love the bit when that jerky Santa demands that Crumpet sing ‘Away in a Manger' for the children and so he responds by singing it like Billie Holliday.” Over the phone, Wichmann whines out a smoky, sexy “Away in a Manger” that had me laughing so hard, we had to stop the interview.

‘Santaland Diaries'
Thursday-Saturday, Nov. 30, Dec. 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23
Dinner (6 p.m.) and show, $44 Show only (8 p.m.), $20
V Lounge at The Villa Resort
67-670 Carey Road
Cathedral City, CA
(760) 328-7211

Friday, November 24, 2006

A Bizarre Career Retrospective 'Scott Wichmann 13-33'

This crazy collection of Zany Behavior was compile dby Steven Lowell, a College pal of mine... ENJOY!!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

THE POWER OF ONE.

This is a great video that shows us that we all have the power to effect change. We can change how we take care of one another. We can change how we protect the environment. We can change how we relate to one another. We can heal the divisions between us.

I just love it, and I'd like to share it with you now.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Torture Question.

This is from www.current.tv -- It shows the 'Coercive Interrogation Technique' of 'waterboarding' and what it actually looks like in a controlled environment. When I saw this, I was appalled. I was also frightened to imagine what it must look like in an 'Uncontrolled' environment. Proponents of this type of interrogation would argue that the terrorists are far less forgiving-- Barbaric to the point of beheadings and other grisly atrocities. I can understand the urge to be vengeful in a proportional way-- That is an entirely human impulse. Yet it is a slippery slope, and we may find ourselves as Amercians giving more and more 'wiggle room' to these kinds of techiniques in the future. We should not become terrorists in out struggle to combat terrorism.

In the words of Senator John McCain, "It's not about who they are-- it's about who WE are."

Watch this and make up your own mind...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Obama under the microscope: An article from the Chcago Sun-Times

The Obama Chronicles: Waukegan interview transcript. On Rezko, mistakes and being held to a high standard.

After a month long blitz--selling his new book, stumping for Democrats, testing the water for a 2008 presidential run, Sen. Barack Obama on Monday traveled to Waukegan, Ill. to stump for a House candidate. He found himself answering questions about a real estate deal he made with a local shady developer named Tony Rezko. Rezko was recently indicted on corruption charges.

Obama, on the road to the White House, will have to run in the primary of public perception, just like his rivals and the Rezko episode is at the least a learning experience for him.

Obama, in a session with local reporters said "I'm human like everybody else and I'm going to make mistakes."


excerpts from the Waukegan question and answer session. ....

What in the world were you doing in a real estate deal with Tony Rezko?

Look, I bought a house. He bought a piece of property next to the house, and that transaction was entirely separate. But what is true is I purchased a 10-foot strip alongside that property from him, and although I paid more than the appraised value of the house, I think it's fair to say that, given some of the issues that were going on with him, it certainly raised the kinds of appearances that I should have been mindful of.

Why'd you do it then?

For the last 10 years, I think people who have worked with me know that I try to maintain the highest standards in how I deal in my personal and public lives. I don't accept lunches with lobbyists. If I play golf with somebody I reimburse them. In this situation, my focus was more on making sure I was paying a fair market price and not thinking through sort of how it potentially would appear. As I said in the newspaper it was a mistake. Not one of my smarter moves.

Did you recruit Tony becuase you needed him. . . . It sounded like you were only going to get (your house) if you had somebody buying the other lot?

No, no, no. I didn't recruit Tony. What happened was I saw this house. . . . We went through our real estate broker. And We put in a bid on the house the way any other purchaser would. The adjoining lot., there was already a bid on that lot. The sellers were the ones who had separated them, and Mr. Rezko became interested in that other lot, and he bid for that lot separately and negotiated with the seller separately.

Did you pay $300,000 less because of connections or clout, or anything Rezko did?

No. Nothing at all related to the purchase of my house involved Rezko. . . . The adjoining lot had already gotten an offer for the list price, which was 600-something-thousand. So the seller already had that in hand. The problem was they needed to sell the house. They were moving, and, so, this was to some degree a fire sale situation for them. They had gotten a new job. They were moving to Maryland. And so they needed to sell the house. That's the reason, as is true in any real estate market, if somebody needs to sell then you've got a little more leverage over them.

So there was no involvement with Rezko in the purchase of the house. . . .

Q: How did it happen that Tony just so bought the lot next to your home?

What happened was . . . Rezko's been a longtime developer in Kenwood. He's got property all across the Kenwood area. When the house came on the market, I asked a number of people about the house because I've never bought a house. I'd owned a condo. And I called a number of friends -- four or five friends -- who either had homes in Kenwood or were familiar with development in Kenwood. Rezko was one of those people. It turned out that the person who had renovated the house which I was interested in purchasing had worked with Rezko in the past, so that was the connection. He [Rezko] ended up looking at the property and became interested in it. But as I said it was negotiated entirely separately. It wasn't something that we were coordinating in any sort of fashion.

The reason we ended up having the same closing date -- that was actually a requirement of the sellers' because the seller was trying to . . . they had conditioned the sale of one lot on the sale of the house.

What do you say to people that your judgment is faulty?

I'm human like everybody else and I'm going to make mistakes. One of the things that I've prided myself on is when I make a mistake, I own up to it. . . . Although I made a mistake in terms of not being attentive to appearances, in terms of the actual transactions themselves, there was no quid pro quo, there was no clout involved. . . . The problem here was you had somebody who was doing state business, who had been a contributor of mine. While I paid more than the appraised value, it's understandable people . . .

Did you know he was under investigation at that point?

Obviously, things had surfaced. But this is somebody I had known for quite some time. He had never asked me for anything. I'd never done anything for him. We had never discussed government issues. But, look, I think it's fair to hold me to a higher standard. And I understand, at this point, I have been in the public eye quite a bit. I'm somebody who's taken the lead both in Springfield and at the federal level on ethics issues, and I think it's entirely appropriate for folks to expect more. . . .

Was the person you were bidding against for your property the same person Rezko was bidding against?

No. No.

How do you know that?

Well, I don't know it for certain, but I don't think so because my broker did not indicate they were the same party.

So there's no way -- either directly or indirectly -- that you knew how much money Tony was offering for his property?

I had no idea whatsoever.

Did you coordinate your bids?

No.

Why did Tony end up paying full price if it were such a fire sale?

There were two separate lots. [On the first lot], there was already a bid for the full price. They already had a bid on the table for that full price.

What have you learned from this?

One of the things that I've always prided on myself is the fact that I have never had any questions about my integrity and how I conduct myself in public office. . . . This is the first time this has happened, and I don't like the feeling. It's frustrating to me, and I'm kicking myself about it. But, as I said, look, I'm going to make some mistakes every once in a while. These aren't mistakes that involve the public trust. They aren't mistakes that involved my responsibilities in terms of representing my constituents. But, one of the things you purchase when you enter into public life is there are going to be a different set of standards, and I'm going to make sure from this point on I don't even come close to the line.

Will this come back to haunt you?

I'm in politics, so anytime you make an error that's something that somebody will be sure to remind you of in the future. And I don't think that's illegitimate. You have to be held accountable for what you do. . . . What I assume is in any election, people look at you in the whole. . . . Here's one time where it appears that he didn't pay enough attention to what the situation was, but hopefully people will judge me on my entire record. And I'm very confident that when they do that, they'll end up feeling I'm somebody they can trust.

Will your groundsman keep cutting the lawn?

. . . . We don't know exactly who is making decisions on behalf of the various properties that are involved. We've talked to the property manager that we have been communicating with, and we just want to make sure of is everything is as separate as possible.

So you're not going to mow his lawn anymore?

No. Here's the problem: the lawn is right next to our house, so I want to make sure somebody mows it. Originally, their intention, as I understand it, was to develop townhomes. They've got to get some sort of curb cut. . . . Right now, they don't have an entry. . . . I could seal off the fence and have people climb over with the lawnmower, but that's probably not . . .

Are you running for president?


After Tuesday, I will have the opportunity to sit down and think about how I can be most useful. That's a conversation that I, first and foremost, have to have with my family, with my pastor. It's also something that I need to have conversations with key people in Illinois because, after all, I'm an Illinois senator, and I think it's very important for me to make determinations in terms of whatever plans I have doing right by the constituents who put me in office.

Now we're talking!!!

From www.crooksandliars.com-- A first step in the right direction by what some have called 'The Party of No Ideas...'

Washington- Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), an outspoken opponent of the Military Commission Act of 2006, today introduced legislation which would amend existing law in order to have an effective process for bringing terrorists to justice.

The Effective Terrorists Prosecution Act:

* Restores Habeas Corpus protections to detainees
* Narrows the definition of unlawful enemy combatant to individuals who directly participate in hostilities against the United States who are not lawful combatants
* Bars information gained through coercion from being introduced as evidence in trials
* Empowers military judges to exclude hearsay evidence the deem to be unreliable
* Authorizes the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces to review decisions by the Military commissions
* Limits the authority of the President to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions and makes that authority subject to congressional and judicial oversight
* Provides for expedited judicial review of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 to determine the constitutionally of its provisions

This is currently not the case under the Military Commission Act, which will be the subject of endless legal challenges. As important, the bill would also seek to ensure that U.S.servicemen and women are afforded the maximum protection of a strong international legal framework guaranteed by respect for such provisions as the Geneva Conventions and other international standards, and to restore America’s moral authority as the leader in the world in advancing the rule of law.

“I take a backseat to no one when it comes to protecting this country from terrorists,” Sen. Dodd said. “But there is a right way to do this
and a wrong way to do this. It’s clear the people who perpetrated these horrendous crimes against our country and our people have no moral compass and deserve to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. But in taking away their legal rights, the rights first codified in our country’s Constitution, we’re taking away our own moral compass, as well.”

Monday, November 13, 2006

'Run, Barack, Run' By David Brooks


Barack Obama should run for president.

He should run first for the good of his party. It would demoralize the Democrats to go through a long primary season with the most exciting figure in the party looming off in the distance like some unapproachable dream. The next Democratic nominee should either be Barack Obama or should have the stature that would come from defeating Barack Obama.

Second, he should run because of his age. Obama’s inexperience is his most obvious shortcoming. Over the next four years, the world could face a genocidal civil war in Iraq, a wave of nuclear proliferation, more Islamic extremism and a demagogues’ revolt against globalization. Do we really want a forty-something in the White House?

And yet in his new book, “The Audacity of Hope,” Obama makes a strong counterargument. He notes that it’s time to move beyond the political style of the baby boom generation. This is a style, he said in an interview late Tuesday, that is highly moralistic and personal, dividing people between who is good and who is bad.

Obama himself has a mentality formed by globalization, not the S.D.S. With his multiethnic family and his globe-spanning childhood, there is a little piece of everything in Obama. He is perpetually engaged in an internal discussion between different pieces of his hybrid self — Kenya with Harvard, Kansas with the South Side of Chicago — and he takes that conversation outward into the world.

“Politics, like science, depends on our ability to persuade each other of common aims based on a common reality,” he writes in his book. He distrusts righteous anger and zeal. He does not demonize his opponents and tells audiences that he does not think George Bush is a bad man.

He has a compulsive tendency to see both sides of any issue. Joe Klein of Time counted 50 instances of extremely judicious on-the-one-hand-on the-other-hand formulations in the book. He seems like the guy who spends his first 15 minutes at a restaurant debating the relative merits of fish versus meat.

And yet this style is surely the antidote to the politics of the past several years. It is surely true that a president who brings a deliberative style to the White House will multiply his knowledge, not divide it.

During our talk, I reminded Obama that at some level politics is about power, not conversation. He pointed out that he’d risen from nothing to national prominence in a few years so he knew something about acquiring power, but he kept returning to his mode, which is conversation, deliberation and reconciliation.

The third reason Obama should run for president is his worldview. At least in the way he conceptualizes the world, he is not an orthodox liberal. In the book, he harks back to a Hamiltonian tradition that calls not for big government, but for limited yet energetic government to enhance social mobility. The contemporary guru he cites most is Warren Buffett.

He has interesting things to say about the way culture and economics intertwine to create urban poverty. He, conceptually, welcomes free trade and thinks the U.S. may have no choice but to improvise and slog it out in Iraq.

The chief problem in his book is that after launching off on some interesting description of a problem, he will settle back, when it comes time to make a policy suggestion, into a familiar and small-bore Democratic proposal. I’d give him an A for conception but a B-minus for policy creativity.

Obama, who is nothing if not honest about himself, is aware of the problem, and has various explanations for it. And what matters at this point is not his platform, but the play of his mind. He is one of those progressives, like Gordon Brown in Britain, who is thinking about the challenges of globalization outside the normal clich├ęs.

Coming from my own perspective, I should note that I disagree with many of Obama’s notions and could well end up agreeing more with one of his opponents. But anyone who’s observed him closely can see that Obama is a new kind of politician. As Klein once observed, he’s that rarest of creatures: a megahyped phenomenon that lives up to the hype.

It may not be personally convenient for him, but the times will never again so completely require the gifts that he possesses. Whether you’re liberal or conservative, you should hope Barack Obama runs for president.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

"We all breathe the same air...."


I'm currently in the middle of the run of The Secret of Madame Bonnard's Bath at the Firehouse Theatre Project, and the audiences are really enjoying it. I love working with Jennifer Massey and Rusty Wilson, as they bring so much depth and nuance to the play night in & night out. The play runs until November 25th-- Don't miss it!! Call 355-2001 for ticket info.

So, onto my next gig. I recently got a call from Reuel Olin, owner/operator of the Villa Resort in Palm Springs, CA-- Seems they want to bring The SantaLand Diaries out to the west coast with yours truly as the Pint-sized, Pointy-shoed, David Sedaris-esque Macy's employee. So, on november 27th, I fly out to Cali-for-ni-a for a four-week run of the one-man play... which, did I neglect to mention, is at a RESORT in PALM SPRINGS???

Wow. Just-- I mean-- WOW. I never thought it would pay off to be a skinny, short gap-toothed geek until now. If you need a west-virginia bat-creature or one of Santa's helpers, I guess I'm your man!! I mean, I can't even believe how lucky I am to land this gig. It's at a gay and lesbian resort, no less, which means everything will be spotless, gorgeous, stylish-- and the food and the people will be FABULOUS, girlfriend... I'm going to try and sell them on bringing I AM MY OWN WIFE out there someday as well.

Meantime, like Andrew Hamm over on his blog-- I've been blogging a lot about politics lately. Sometimes it's just a quick copy of an article I read that moved me, or a deep seeded desire to pop off and vent about the issues of the day.

I'm encouraged by the results of the midterms, and I hope it leads to actual bipartisan problem-solving, chiefly on the war in Iraq, which needs serious attention. I look forward to the dems finding common ground with those across the aisle. That having been said, though, I'm not one of those that think that we shouldn't hold the Administration responsible for their misdeeds for fear that it will look like 'Partisan Bickering.'

There are so many things the GOP never questioned on it's watch, and in giving the President carte blanche, they failed in their duty to provide oversight in the interests of those they represent. Chief among these are their blatant ignoring of the 'Downing Street Memos,' which indicate that during the pre-war period, 'The facts were being fixed around the policy' of pre-emptive warfare; and that the administration was creating justifications for an illegal invasion that, as we have seen, has cost so many lives. That's a very serious and troubling series of documents from UK intelligence, which should be looked into with serious scrutiny. Who knew what, and when? Was intelligence cherry-picked in order to provide suitable reasons to attack Iraq?

I fear, however, that should John Conyers pick up that torch and attempt to get to the bottom of the matter, our ever-objective media will simply paint it with the 'Bush-bashing' brush and ignore the real questions such a probe were meant to answer. And let's be clear, there is a lot the GOP let slide. Halliburton continues to make Billions hand-over-fist with no-bid contracts from Iraq to New Orleans, while Mr Cheney's stock options continually rise in value. That's not a slam, it's a fact. The last hope for oversight in Iraq was snuffed out last week, and, as a nation, we still countenance the use of depleted uranium munitions and cluster bombs in civilian areas.

These things make me ashamed.

These things need to be looked into. Deeply. Without partisan rancor, but with the spirit of truth and a desire for justice.

Yet we can address these things at the same time as we:

Raise the minimum wage; Provide tax-deductability for college tuition; Engage in healthy debate over embryonic stem-cell research; Secure our ports and nuclear power plants; Follow up on the rebuilding of the gulf coast; Cast a critical eye on the Military Commissions act of 2006 and the Patriot Act; Discuss the root causes of illegal immigration by bringing Mexico to the Table; Look into education iniquities in inner city schools; Provide tax incentives for companies to develop hybrid vehicles & accelerate alternative fuel research and development; Eliminate 'Earmarks' on spending bills which dilute the integrity of congressional attempts at fiscal responsibility; Engage in the Kyoto protocols; Clamp down on credit-card companies which prey on the young and the uninformed by doling out credit at crippling interest rates; Hold cities accountable for the upkeep of infrastructure (So we don't have a repeat of the Battery Park flood crisis elsewhere); And begin to make the intertwined problems-- of illiteracy, poverty, and youth gangs-- a focus of making America stronger.

We CAN work together, I feel, and I am excited about the prospect of having some of my views on these subjects represented in the government for once.

Red or Blue, Democrat or Republican, we must really try to see that we all love America equally and we want it to be a real land of opportunity for everyone. Andrew's blog echoes these sentiments, and it really is a great thing to know that we're all not so different. Like Andrew, I too have been reading a lot about Abraham Lincoln lately. I'm writing a touring show for Theatre IV called FREDERICK DOUGLAS & HONEST ABE about the relationship between the two men, and there is a something Abe Lincoln said once which inspires me:

The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present.
The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.


And from President Kennedy:

So let us not be blind to our differences, but let us also direct attention to our common interests and the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's futures. And we are all mortal.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

An Election Day Thought.

We need to get out of Iraq as soon as possible. Our brave men and women are stuck in a Civil war because the GOP Policymakers had no idea what the consequences were when they invaded Iraq. The dumbest move Rumsfeld and the Bushies made was to disband the Iraqi army. Now we have to reenlist & retrain Iraqi security forces, plus rebuild the Iraqi infrastructure via massive deficit spending. I fear, despite the Gop's cereal-box rhetoric, that there is no hope for stability in a fractured country where a mix of insurgents, Baath-Party Loyalists, Al-Quaeda operatives, and Sunni & Shia tribal leaders are divvying the country up and killing everything that moves. To the contrary, our presence in the region only exacerbates the problem.

It's a sad fact that the Bush Administration has no clue how to stop the bleeding, so in the absence of any real decision making about war policy, they waste valuable time trying to frame the debate and point fingers across the aisle. They label anyone who doesn't share their distorted view of reality as a 'Cut and runner.' The American people aren't buying it.

It's time for anyone with real ideas, Republican and Democrat, to come forward so we can begin to actually solve the problem in the quickest, most efficient manner possible. The GOP thinks blaming Democrats for wanting to correct Republican mistakes equals leadership. Sadly, they cannot seem to realistically acknowledge the carnage they have wrought.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Attack of the 'Macaca' Gang

Senator George Allen
Central Virginia Office
507 East Franklin Street
Richmond, VA 23219


Dear Senator Allen,

I am writing you this afternoon after having witnessed your campaign staffers manhandle former Marine W. Michael Stark at your campaign event in Charlottesville. I have never in my life witnessed such an outrage from a Virginia political campaign before. If you didn't wish to answer Mr. Stark's questions, you could have simply remained silent. Instead, you stood by and gave consent for your campaign 'goons' to wrestle Mr Stark to the ground. I have seen the video, and at no point were you in any physical danger. At no point did Mr Stark threaten or shove you or any one of your staffers, yet you saw fit to extricate yourself from a tough line of questioning by having one of your constituents physically assaulted.

If this is your idea of civil discourse in a free society, God forgive the citizens of Virginia who have enabled you to reach this position of leadership. Do you honestly think that tough questions should be answered with brute force? Is that what you believe? We have troops overseas supposedly fighting for our freedom. I ask you, is this the kind of freedom you imagine, where inconvenient questions about a Senator's criminal record are dealt with by simply having the questioner removed?

The sad thing is, you know in your heart of hearts that such behavior is not just, and you did nothing about it. The actions of your staffers this afternoon and your personal inaction in the face of such an injustice speak volumes about your fitness to lead.

Today you have embarrassed the State of Virginia, and you owe your constituents, chiefly Mr Stark, an apology.


Sincerely,



Scott Wichmann

Farewell, old friend.



Wednesday night will be pretty emotional for me. I'm a longtime Celtic fan and I can't remember when Red Auerbach wasn't around.The Celtics begin a new era tomorrow, and hopefully they can get a win for the patriarch of a franchise that for so long was much, much more than a basketball team-- it was, in Red's words, "A way of life."

My grandparents bought me a great book in 1989 called The Bird Era, where Auerbach said, in a quote from his own Autobiography: "Our pride was never rooted in statistics. Our pride was in our identity as the Boston Celtics. Being a Celtic meant you were someone special. The Celtics represent a philosophy which, in it's simplest form, maintains that the victory belongs to the team."

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

My name is Scott Wichmann & I approved this friggin' message!!


It seems to me that the republicans have no one to blame but themselves for the sorry state of affairs in which the country finds itself. The GOP has been in control of all three branches of government for the last five years, during which time they have done absolutely nothing to inspire confidence in their ability to lead. Anyone who belives otherwise is delusional at best. This gang of crooks, liars, cronies and incompetents needs to be shown the door on November 7th.

Don't believe me? Let's look at the track record, shall we? Five years after 9-11, we find our ports and nuclear power plants still unsecured. Hurricane Katrina ripped the mask of illusion off of the administration's ability to manage a national crisis with even a modicum of the 'compassionate conservativism' they so love to espouse. Scandal has followed every member of the GOP leadership, from Tom Delay's antics to the Abramoff affair to the treasonous outing of a CIA agent; Not to mention Mark Foley's inability to keep his attentions off of the very children he swore to protect, and Dennis Hastert's resultant world-class 'buck passing'.

Their Iraq strategy is nonexistent, their rationales for the war itself ever-changing outright lies. Their medicare drug benefit plan is a sham. 'No Child Left Behind' is a toothless and underfunded scheme designed to fill the Bush family coffers. The PNAC-launched Iraq adventure has left us with little diplomatic leverage against Iran and North Korea, and Mr Bush's 'Axis of Evil' rhetoric has launched a new arms race for a new century.

All that the GOP really has to offer this country, in the absence of any semblance of leadership, is a steady diet of greed, hypocrisy, finger-pointing and fear. They promise to protect the American people in a way that the democrats can't, yet Vice President Cheney can't even go on a hunting trip without shooting someone in the face.

And these are the guys we're supposed to look to to ensure our safety?? Yikes. Say it ain't so.

Everywhere one looks these days, the republicans can't do a darn thing right. Quite the contrary-- they're seemingly not even interested in do the right thing.

Last week President Bush signed the Military Commissions Act of 2006, stripping the writ of Habeas Corpus for all, citizen and non-citizen alike, detained in the War on Terror-- making it impossible for the accused to even see the evidence against them, while giving sole juducial authority in such cases to the commander-in-chief. Mr. Bush was aided in this shameful, Stalin-esque enterprise by Virginia Senators John Warner and George Allen, who are apparently more interested in looking tough than looking smart. Their zombie-like, lockstep support of this President has helped to both undermine our free democratic institutions and endanger our troops in the field, while at the same time stripping us of a fundamental right that dates back to the Magna Carta.

Face it, Virginia voters, the GOP has left this country fiscally and morally bankrupt, and each day under their leadership this country looks less and less like america. It's time for some real leadership in Washington. I'm casting my vote for Jim Webb and the Democratic party.

Sincerely,

Scott Wichmann

Friday, October 20, 2006

'After Pat’s Birthday' by Kevin Tillman


Kevin Tillman Honors Late Brother's Birthday with Plea to Speak up for Democracy

Published on Friday, October 20, 2006 by Truthdig

It is Pat’s birthday on November 6, and elections are the day after. It gets me thinking about a conversation I had with Pat before we joined the military. He spoke about the risks with signing the papers. How once we committed, we were at the mercy of the American leadership and the American people. How we could be thrown in a direction not of our volition. How fighting as a soldier would leave us without a voice… until we get out.

Much has happened since we handed over our voice:

Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored terrorists, or was involved in the September 11 attacks, or received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we needed to establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created that can’t be called a civil war even though it is. Something like that.

Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.

Somehow our elected leaders were subverting international law and humanity by setting up secret prisons around the world, secretly kidnapping people, secretly holding them indefinitely, secretly not charging them with anything, secretly torturing them. Somehow that overt policy of torture became the fault of a few “bad apples” in the military.

Somehow back at home, support for the soldiers meant having a five-year-old kindergartener scribble a picture with crayons and send it overseas, or slapping stickers on cars, or lobbying Congress for an extra pad in a helmet. It’s interesting that a soldier on his third or fourth tour should care about a drawing from a five-year-old; or a faded sticker on a car as his friends die around him; or an extra pad in a helmet, as if it will protect him when an IED throws his vehicle 50 feet into the air as his body comes apart and his skin melts to the seat.

Somehow the more soldiers that die, the more legitimate the illegal invasion becomes.

Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground.

Somehow those afraid to fight an illegal invasion decades ago are allowed to send soldiers to die for an illegal invasion they started.

Somehow faking character, virtue and strength is tolerated.

Somehow profiting from tragedy and horror is tolerated.

Somehow the death of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people is tolerated.

Somehow subversion of the Bill of Rights and The Constitution is tolerated.

Somehow suspension of Habeas Corpus is supposed to keep this country safe.

Somehow torture is tolerated.

Somehow lying is tolerated.

Somehow reason is being discarded for faith, dogma, and nonsense.

Somehow American leadership managed to create a more dangerous world.

Somehow a narrative is more important than reality.

Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.

Somehow the most reasonable, trusted and respected country in the world has become one of the most irrational, belligerent, feared, and distrusted countries in the world.

Somehow being politically informed, diligent, and skeptical has been replaced by apathy through active ignorance.

Somehow the same incompetent, narcissistic, virtueless, vacuous, malicious criminals are still in charge of this country.

Somehow this is tolerated.

Somehow nobody is accountable for this.

In a democracy, the policy of the leaders is the policy of the people. So don’t be shocked when our grandkids bury much of this generation as traitors to the nation, to the world and to humanity. Most likely, they will come to know that “somehow” was nurtured by fear, insecurity and indifference, leaving the country vulnerable to unchecked, unchallenged parasites.

Luckily this country is still a democracy. People still have a voice. People still can take action. It can start after Pat’s birthday.

Kevin Tillman joined the Army with his brother Pat in 2002, and they served together in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pat was killed in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004. Kevin was discharged in 2005.

Copyright 2006 TruthDig.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A New Day is Dawning... And America is YAWNING.


So, if you haven't been paying attention, forget it and go back to sleep... but while we freak out over Mark Foley's emails, the basic foundation of social justice in a civilized society has been ripped out from under us by a despotic regime. Of course, there's no outrage, because we're living in a plastic dreamworld of paranoia and social retardation. Bush just turned the US into a Despotic Police State.

As Sherman Edwards asks through his plaintive lyrics in the musical "1776":

"IS ANYBODY THERE?? DOES ANYBODY CARE??"

...Apparently not.

Read on if you're so inclined.


Bush Betrays Democracy and Truth in Signing Military Commissions Act

by Matthew Rothschild


George Bush just signed the 'Military Commissions Act,' the bookend to the Patriot Act on the shelf marked “Assault on Democracy.”

It allows the President himself to decide what is covered by Geneva Conventions, and what is not.

In short, it gives the President a green light to torture.

Bush, with his usual flare for falsehood, said it “will allow the Central Intelligence Agency to continue its program for questioning key terrorist leaders.”

But this isn’t about questioning them. It’s about torturing them. It’s about subjecting them to such things as waterboarding, a medieval instrument of sadism.

Bush repeated that “the United States does not torture. It’s against our laws, and it’s against our values.”

But he knows full well that the CIA used waterboarding against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and he even cited Mohammed by name to justify the continued use of the CIA “program.”

Bush also asserted, falsely, that the Military Commissions Act will enable the United States to prosecute captured terrorists “through a full and fair trial.”

Hardly.

It will permit secret evidence, hearsay evidence, and even coerced testimony.

With this new law, Bush can have the CIA torture someone into a confession, and then use that confession against the person at trial.

In fact, the person can be executed on the basis of testimony that was beaten out of him.

In his statement, Bush also completely avoiding mentioning one of the most egregious aspects of the Military Commissions Act: the stripping of habeas corpus protection that has been enshrined since the days of the Magna Carta and codified in the Fifth and Sixth Amendments. “What this bill will do is take our civilization back 900 years,” warned Senator Arlen Specter, when he tried to amend the bill by restoring habeas corpus. (When it failed, 51-48, Specter inexplicably turned around and voted for the bill.)

The Military Commissions Act authorizes the President of the United States to designate anyone—foreigner or citizen alike—as an “enemy combatant.” He can then detain this enemy combatant indefinitely, and if that person is not a U.S. citizen, that person has no recourse whatsoever.

“No court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider an application for a writ of habeas corpus filed by or on behalf of an alien detained by the United States who has been determined by the United States to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant or is awaiting such determination,” the new law states.

This gives the President “the privilege of kings,” as Vincent Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, has noted. But Bush doesn’t want you to care about such little things.

“Over the past few months, the debate over this bill has been heated, and the questions raised can seem complex,” he said, just before signing it. “Yet, with the distance of history, the questions will be narrowed and few: Did this generation of Americans take the threat seriously, and did we do what it takes to defeat that threat?”

Note that Bush does not believe that history will be concerned with the question: Did we uphold our Constitution?

Bush said the law sends a “clear message: This nation is patient and decent and fair, and we will never back down from the threats to our freedom.”

But there is nothing “decent and fair” about it, and it only increases the threats to our freedoms.

For it shows us to be hypocrites, and it makes barbarism the rule.


Matthew Rothschild has been with The Progressive since 1983. His McCarthyism Watch web column has chronicled more than 150 incidents of repression since 9/11.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Frankie say-- RELAX!!!


Wow. I am exhausted. Today is the first real day off I have had in a looong time. I watched the Patriots dispatch the Dolphins this afternoon and ate Pizza from 'Bottom's Up' in Shockhoe Bottom. Then I updated my computer's virus protection software. I also listened to my new Aaron Copland CD.

Good times. And great oldies.

Jen & I have been going full bore for more than a month. We're in the process of looking for an apartment in the Fan District, as our landlords will be moving back in in January. (They bought a house in Rockville 2 years ago & the commute into Richomd is quite a chore-- plus they have a new baby, making things even more hectic) we've loved living in this great old house in Northside for almost 2 years, but it's time to move back into the Fan.

Jennie is in THE CONSTANT WIFE at Barksdale as well as teaching enrichment classes for SPARC and holding down the fort at the dentist's office 3 days a week, and I am performing in I AM MY OWN WIFE at Firehouse and getting ready to start rehearsals this week for the FTP production of THE SECRET OF MME BONNARD'S BATH while trying to research and write a touring show for Theatre IV. I also applied for part-time work at the Carytown Starbucks, and we recently bought a used Saturn which we will pick up on thursday.

It's crazy being an actor sometimes-- you don't keep normal hours, your income comes from various and disparate sources, everything you own is used (for example, my TV, my Playstation 2, our Car, and even the computer I'm using to type this-- all pre-owned and given to us by really cool people!!)But worst of all, you never 'switch off' or stop thinking about work, because in order to feed yourself, you've gotta keep hunting for that next gig or side job or audition or what have you.

I have a hard time convincing myself to RELAX. Of course, looking for a car & an apartment while juggling a one-man show can make you crazy. Sometimes I'm amazed by how we get by doing what we love, but that is the really wonderful thing about this community of like-minded artists-- It is really Possible to do great work here and have the kind of artistic life that can can be really rewarding.

For instance, Friday's performance of I AM MY OWN WIFE was a priceless evening for me. My Mom came and saw the show, and the Folks at Firehouse presented her with flowers and a gift certificate to Cabo's Bistro on Broad st. She loved the show and she cried, but probably because her son was wearing a dress.

I also had a great experience last sunday night, performing in Leftover stories to Tell, an evening of reading of works by the late, great 'Monologist' Spalding Gray. I got to read my favorite account of his, about a performance of OUR TOWN he was in in the late '80s (Playing 'the Stage Manager') in which the kid playing Wally Webb projectile vomits all over the place in the act III 'Graveyard' scene. Hilarious. I also got to meet Spalding's wife, Kathy Russo, and his 10-year old son, Theo. Theo and I got along really well, since he's also a big Red Sox fan. I told him about the time I got David Ortiz's autograph, and his eyes got as big as pumpkins.

I have to get crackin' on writing tomorrow, but I'm gonna take it easy. I hope to see everyone at the Firehouse Theatre on Tuesday night at 8pm for the benefit performance of I AM MY OWN WIFE. The performance will benefit the Richmond Performing Arts Fund.

Oh, and before I forget, condolences to the New York Yankees... HAHAHAHAHAHAAAHAAAA!!

Friday, September 29, 2006

RIP Habeus Corpus

So Verizon is the devil. Really. I cannot deal with those NSA Wiretapping Bill-Mongers anymore, so I dropped them like a rock. This means I have no internet access for the time being, so if you've emailed me and haven't heard back, I'll get right on that tomorrow as soon as the Comcast installation dude shows up to set up my new rig.

Meantime, 'Wife' is generating heat & the audiences and critics are really enjoying the experience. I love doing the show-- BTW, there will be a benefit performance for the Richmond Performing arts fund on TUESDAY, OCTOBER 10TH at 8PM. That's at the Firehouse Theatre, 1601 West Broad st.

Meantime, I wanted to acknowledge what a sad day this is for lovers of peace & justice everywhere. I'm not kidding. Everything this country was once proud to stand for has been dashed with the swift stroke of a pen.

We're getting so much closer to the world portayed in V FOR VENDETTA every day. Here's another HUGE leap backward, as we ripped the heart out of the Bill of Rights, the Constitution and hell, even the MAGNA CARTA. (For those of you unfamilar with that term, it's not an Italian Autobot.)

Read it and weep. I did.

This Time, Congress Has No Excuse
By Andrew Cohen
The Washington Post

Thursday 28 September 2006

Of all the stupid, lazy, short-sighted, hasty, ill-conceived, partisan-inspired, damage-inflicting, dangerous and offensive things this Congress has done (or not done) in its past few recent miserable terms, the looming passage of the terror detainee bill takes the cake. At least when Congress voted to authorize the Iraq War legislators can point to the fact that they were deceived by Administration officials. But what's Congress' excuse now for agreeing to sign off on a law that would give the executive branch even more unfettered power over the rest of us than it already has?

It just keeps getting worse. This morning, esteemed Yale Law professor Bruce Ackerman published this fine essay in the Los Angeles Times. His lead? "Buried in the complex Senate compromise on detainee treatment is a real shocker, reaching far beyond the legal struggles about foreign terrorist suspects in the Guantanamo Bay fortress. The compromise legislation, which is racing toward the White House, authorizes the president to seize American citizens as enemy combatants, even if they have never left the United States. And once thrown into military prison, they cannot expect a trial by their peers or any other of the normal protections of the Bill of Rights.

"This dangerous compromise," Professor Ackerman continued, "not only authorizes the president to seize and hold terrorists who have fought against our troops 'during an armed conflict,' it also allows him to seize anybody who has 'purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States.' This grants the president enormous power over citizens and legal residents. They can be designated as enemy combatants if they have contributed money to a Middle Eastern charity, and they can be held indefinitely in a military prison."

Scary enough for you? But wait, there is more. The legislation also appears to allow illegally-obtained evidence- from overseas or right here at home - to be used against enemy combatants (which gives you an idea of where this Congress really stands on the National Security Agency's domestic spying program). And wait, there is this: the Administration's horrible track record when it comes to identifying "enemy combatants" and then detaining them here in the States. Two of the most famous ones, Yaser Hamdi and Jose Padilla, both ended up having the highest courts in our land back up their legal claims, which is why the government had to release Hamdi outright and then turn Padilla over to the regular civilian courts (where he is a defendant in a weak case against him).

Do you believe the Administration has over the past five years earned the colossal expanse of trust the Congress is about to give it in the name of fighting terrorism? Do you believe that Administration officials will be able to accurately and adequately identify so-called "enemy combatants" here at home so as to separate out the truly bad guys from the guys who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time? Did you want your legislative branch to abdicate so completely its responsibility to ensure that there are adequate checks and balances upon executive power even in a time of terror? You might have answered "no" to all three questions. But your answer doesn't matter. And neither does mine. To Congress, the answer is "yes, sir." Our Congress is about to make yet another needless mistake in the war on terror and this time the folks making it won't be able to say that the White House tricked them into it.
-------

Sunday, September 17, 2006

A Letter to Senator Edward Kennedy, D-MA



Dear Senator Kennedy,

Thank you for your staunch opposition to the war in Iraq. I am a longtime admirer of you and your brothers, and I wish to see the Kennedy-style leadership of big ideas and progressive vision guide this country back to the right path.

The war in Iraq is deeply, deeply troubling to me, because it is emblematic of what I see as a dark and destructive force arising from within the halls of power-- the force of misguided american corporate imperialism.

I am a thirty-three year old Massachusetts native who sees the promise of his country fading before his eyes, obscured by the cloudy chaos of national fear and confusion.

We have allowed this administration to strip our liberties in the name of security, and we have waited for someone in the Democratic party to tell the nation "The Emperor has no clothes."

I ask you to be that person, and to raise your voice loud enough for everyone to hear you.

One step at a time, we must undo the damage done by this administration; The first step is to get out of Iraq.

Please continue to build bipartisan support for drafting legislation which would set clear-cut goals for getting our brave men and women out of the bloody civil war which the Bush Administration so recklessly and thoughtlessly set the stage for when they Invaded in 2003.

Mr. Bush and his Junta of PNAC-backed policymakers quite simply "Pulled the pin on a grenade" when they illegally and pre-emptively invaded Iraq, and as a result, more and more people are being killed by blasts waves of endless violence. The death toll rises daily, while Mr Bush loudly proclaims that he has somehow made the world 'safer' and 'More Peaceful.'

Unbelieveable. This HAS GOT TO STOP.

So I urge you, senator Kennedy-- Keep fighting the good fight against the Administration-- Don't let them turn this country into a place where pre-emptive war is an option, where torture, suspicion and suspension of civil liberties replace the rule of law.

Please know that you have my full support, and, --even though I live in Virginia now-- as far as I'm concerned, you'll always be my Senator.

Peace & Justice,

Scott Wichmann

Saturday, September 16, 2006

A 'WIFE' review from the Richmond Times-Dispatch!!



Firehouse stages a must-see
In I Am My Own Wife, masterful acting meets the demands of challenging story

BY SUSAN HAUBENSTOCK
SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
Sep 16, 2006

THEATER REVIEW: I AM MY OWN WIFE

This is just the kind of play that Firehouse Theatre Project does best: a recent off-Broadway and Broadway award winner with a tricky subject.And it's the kind of play that local treasure Scott Wichmann does better than anyone: an incredibly demanding real-life drama in which he morphs seamlessly among 35 roles and multiple accents.

I Am My Own Wife won its playwright, Doug Wright, an Obie, a Tony and the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for drama.It was in the early 1990s, soon after the fall of the Berlin Wall, that an American journalist friend of Wright's told him about Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, a homosexual and transvestite who had somehow survived the Nazis and the East Germans.

Fascinated by the decorative arts and by machines of a century earlier, Charlotte was running her house in Mahlsdorf, Germany, as a museum, especially proud of her gramophones and clocks.

Wright, who is a character in his own play, became fascinated with Charlotte. A gay man himself, Wright was especially riveted by Charlotte's incredible ability to be herself - not closeted at all - under two regimes that routinely persecuted and executed homosexuals.

As Charlotte unfolds her story to Wright, he begins to find evidence that she may have endured partly by informing on others to the brutal Stasi secret police. But the case is far from airtight, and the moral ground becomes slippery.

As intriguing as Charlotte's story is the showcase it provides for an actor with Wichmann's gifts. The precision of his voice is impressive as he becomes a German news anchor, a talk-show host, an SS officer.Even more arresting is his physical fluidity.

As Charlotte he moves deliberately, slowly, thin arms projecting from the sack of a dress designed by Lisa Lippman. He acts even with his wrists, flowing as he creates the illusion of Charlotte's lesbian aunt handing a book on sexual deviance to young Lothar Berfelde, the boy Charlotte once was. Especially affecting is Wichmann's portrayal of Alfred Kirchner, a gay man and a longtime friend of Charlotte's, a fellow collector of clocks and Edison phonographs.

Morrie Piersol directs Wichmann expertly, shaping and delineating each character. A simple set is provided by Edwin Slipek Jr., with careful lighting by Michael Mauren and excellent sound design by Ryan Corbett and Trey Pollard.

Ultimately, Wright challenges the audience to consider who Charlotte is and what part of her story is true.This, with Wichmann's masterful performance, is what raises I Am My Own Wife above the level of a curiosity to must-see theater.

Firehouse Theatre Project at 1609 W. Broad St. Thru Oct. 7
$20 (discounts for students and seniors)
(804) 355-2001 www.firehousetheatre.org

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A PRAYER FOR AMERICA.

A speech by Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich
Delivered in Los Angeles, California
On February 17, 2002


(to be sung as an overture for America)

"My country 'tis of thee. Sweet land of liberty of thee I sing. . . .
From every mountain side, let freedom ring. . . .
Long may our land be bright. With freedom's holy light. . . ."

" Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave.
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?"

"America, America, God shed grace on thee.
And crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea. . . . "


I offer these brief remarks today as a prayer for our country, with love of democracy, as a celebration of our country. With love for our country. With hope for our country. With a belief that the light of freedom cannot be extinguished as long as it is inside of us. With a belief that freedom rings resoundingly in a democracy each time we speak freely. With the understanding that freedom stirs the human heart and fear stills it. With the belief that a free people cannot walk in fear and faith at the same time.

With the understanding that there is a deeper truth expressed in the unity of the United States. That implicate in the union of our country is the union of all people. That all people are essentially one. That the world is interconnected not only on the material level of economics, trade, communication, and transportation, but innerconnected through human consciousness, through the human heart, through the heart of the world, through the simply expressed impulse and yearning to be and to breathe free. I offer this prayer for America.

Let us pray that our nation will remember that the unfolding of the promise of democracy in our nation paralleled the striving for civil rights. That is why we must challenge the rationale of the Patriot Act. We must ask why should America put aside guarantees of constitutional justice?

How can we justify in effect canceling the First Amendment and the right of free speech, the right to peaceably assemble?
How can we justify in effect canceling the Fourth Amendment, probable cause, the prohibitions against unreasonable search and seizure?
How can we justify in effect canceling the Fifth Amendment, nullifying due process, and allowing for indefinite incarceration without a trial?
How can we justify in effect canceling the Sixth Amendment, the right to prompt and public trial?
How can we justify in effect canceling the Eighth Amendment which protects against cruel and unusual punishment?

We cannot justify widespread wiretaps and internet surveillance without judicial supervision, let alone with it. We cannot justify secret searches without a warrant. We cannot justify giving the Attorney General the ability to designate domestic terror groups. We cannot justify giving the FBI total access to any type of data which may exist in any system anywhere such as medical records and financial records.

We cannot justify giving the CIA the ability to target people in this country for intelligence surveillance. We cannot justify a government which takes from the people our right to privacy and then assumes for its own operations a right to total secrecy. The Attorney General recently covered up a statue of Lady Justice showing her bosom as if to underscore there is no danger of justice exposing herself at this time, before this administration.

Let us pray that our nation's leaders will not be overcome with fear. Because today there is great fear in our great Capitol. And this must be understood before we can ask about the shortcomings of Congress in the current environment. The great fear began when we had to evacuate the Capitol on September 11. It continued when we had to leave the Capitol again when a bomb scare occurred as members were pressing the CIA during a secret briefing. It continued when we abandoned Washington when anthrax, possibly from a government lab, arrived in the mail. It continued when the Attorney General declared a nationwide terror alert and then the Administration brought the destructive Patriot Bill to the floor of the House. It continued in the release of the Bin Laden tapes at the same time the President was announcing the withdrawal from the ABM treaty. It remains present in the cordoning off of the Capitol. It is present in the camouflaged armed national guardsmen who greet members of Congress each day we enter the Capitol campus. It is present in the labyrinth of concrete barriers through which we must pass each time we go to vote. The trappings of a state of siege trap us in a state of fear, ill equipped to deal with the Patriot Games, the Mind Games, the War Games of an unelected President and his unelected Vice President.

Let us pray that our country will stop this war. "To promote the common defense" is one of the formational principles of America. Our Congress gave the President the ability to respond to the tragedy of September the Eleventh. We licensed a response to those who helped bring the terror of September the Eleventh. But we the people and our elected representatives must reserve the right to measure the response, to proportion the response, to challenge the response, and to correct the response.

Because we did not authorize the invasion of Iraq.
We did not authorize the invasion of Iran.
We did not authorize the invasion of North Korea.
We did not authorize the bombing of civilians in Afghanistan.
We did not authorize permanent detainees in Guantanamo Bay.
We did not authorize the withdrawal from the Geneva Convention.
We did not authorize military tribunals suspending due process and habeas corpus.
We did not authorize assassination squads.
We did not authorize the resurrection of COINTELPRO.
We did not authorize the repeal of the Bill of Rights.
We did not authorize the revocation of the Constitution.
We did not authorize national identity cards.
We did not authorize the eye of Big Brother to peer from cameras throughout our cities.
We did not authorize an eye for an eye.
Nor did we ask that the blood of innocent people, who perished on September 11, be avenged with the blood of innocent villagers in Afghanistan.
We did not authorize the administration to wage war anytime, anywhere, anyhow it pleases.
We did not authorize war without end.
We did not authorize a permanent war economy.

Yet we are upon the threshold of a permanent war economy. The President has requested a $45.6 billion increase in military spending. All defense-related programs will cost close to $400 billion. Consider that the Department of Defense has never passed an independent audit. Consider that the Inspector General has notified Congress that the Pentagon cannot properly account for $1.2 trillion in transactions. Consider that in recent years the Dept. of Defense could not match $22 billion worth of expenditures to the items it purchased, wrote off, as lost, billions of dollars worth of in-transit inventory and stored nearly $30 billion worth of spare parts it did not need.

Yet the defense budget grows with more money for weapons systems to fight a cold war which ended, weapon systems in search of new enemies to create new wars. This has nothing to do with fighting terror. This has everything to do with fueling a military industrial machine with the treasure of our nation, risking the future of our nation, risking democracy itself with the militarization of thought which follows the militarization of the budget.

Let us pray for our children. Our children deserve a world without end. Not a war without end. Our children deserve a world free of the terror of hunger, free of the terror of poor health care, free of the terror of homelessness, free of the terror of ignorance, free of the terror of hopelessness, free of the terror of policies which are committed to a world view which is not appropriate for the survival of a free people, not appropriate for the survival of democratic values, not appropriate for the survival of our nation, and not appropriate for the survival of the world.

Let us pray that we have the courage and the will as a people and as a nation to shore ourselves up, to reclaim from the ruins of September the Eleventh our democratic traditions. Let us declare our love for democracy. Let us declare our intent for peace. Let us work to make nonviolence an organizing principle in our own society. Let us recommit ourselves to the slow and painstaking work of statecraft, which sees peace, not war as being inevitable. Let us work for a world where someday war becomes archaic.
That is the vision which the proposal to create a Department of Peace envisions. Forty-three members of congress are now cosponsoring the legislation. Let us work for a world where nuclear disarmament is an imperative. That is why we must begin by insisting on the commitments of the ABM treaty. That is why we must be steadfast for nonproliferation.

Let us work for a world where America can lead the way in banning weapons of mass destruction not only from our land and sea and sky but from outer space itself. That is the vision of HR 3616: A universe free of fear. Where we can look up at God's creation in the stars and imagine infinite wisdom, infinite peace, infinite possibilities, not infinite war, because we are taught that the kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven.

Let us pray that we have the courage to replace the images of death which haunt us, the layers of images of September the Eleventh, faded into images of patriotism, spliced into images of military mobilization, jump cut into images of our secular celebrations of the World Series, New Year's Eve, the Superbowl, the Olympics, the strobic flashes which touch our deepest fears, let us replace those images with the work of human relations, reaching out to people, helping our own citizens here at home, lifting the plight of the poor everywhere. That is the America which has the ability to rally the support of the world. That is the America which stands not in pursuit of an axis of evil, but which is itself at the axis of hope and faith and peace and freedom.

America, America. God shed grace on thee. Crown thy good, America. Not with weapons of mass destruction. Not with invocations of an axis of evil. Not through breaking international treaties. Not through establishing America as king of a unipolar world. Crown thy good America.

America, America. Let us pray for our country. Let us love our country. Let us defend our country not only from the threats without but from the threats within. Crown thy good, America. Crown thy good with brotherhood, and sisterhood. And crown thy good with compassion and restraint and forbearance and a commitment to peace, to democracy, to economic justice here at home and throughout the world.

Crown thy good, America. Crown thy good America. Crown thy good.

Thank you.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

AUGUST IS THE COOLEST, CRUELEST MONTH...


I am featured as Charlotte Von Mahlsdorf in Firehouse Theatre Project's I AM MY OWN WIFE.Sept 14-Oct 7th.
Call 804-355-2001 For Tickets or log onto www.firehousetheatre.org


August was chock full of happenings.

First, let me say 'thank you' to all the folks who dropped me a line or called & sang 'Happy Birthday' or harassed me about turning Thirty-Three (You know who you are, boy...) and all that jazz. I had a great birthday, as I was busy filming another one of those VA Lottery spots as the Zany 'Texas Hold-Em' guy (You know, the crazy one who shouts out: "THAT'S what I'm talkin about!!") Sonny Zhao was the director this time, and he just let me loose to run wild with it & we got some great stuff. This time around, when the goofy guy 'Plays a good hand' as it were, he is flanked by two gorgeous models in sequined dresses & holding sparklers, and a brass band kicks in. It was the highest of high comedy. The folks at BarberMartin seemd pleased with it & I can't wait to see what the finished product looks like.

I recently returned from a month in Gloucester, MA doing the World Premiere of The Secret of Madame Bonnard's Bath with Israel Horovitz. I gotta say, the North Shore of my beloved Bay state is HEAVEN. I almost didn't come back!!

Here are some highlights, in no particular order:

I saw 35 Whales on a whale watch; I saw the Sox win (for perhaps the last time all season) in person at Fenway (A miracle ninth-inning comeback over the Tribe); I went to the Kennedy Library & Museum; I made tons of new friends; I worked with a world-class playwright; I made the same page of the Boston Globe as Ben Affleck & Theo Epstein; Had Big Papi Ortiz do the 'Double-Index-Finger-Point' right at me while hanging around the players entrance on Van Ness Street; I saw many aunts & uncles, plus my parents came (On separate nights, of course) and I finally got to introduce my lovely wife Jennifer to my longtime friend and mentor, (and HS drama teacher) Ralph Hammann.

I really enjoyed playing all nine or so characters in 'Bonnard', from the coarse & rotund Ambroise Vollard to the stumpy Tolouse-Lautrec to the hopeful Jean-Paul Boursin and all the rest. I will be reprising the roles at Firehouse in November. The NYC Showcase production is supposed to happen for 3 weeks in late jan-early february, so I'll keep my fingers crossed that Mr. Horovitz would like me involved...

But like I said, August was chock full of happenings.

On the negative side, my truck officially died, I had an $11,000 commercial acting gig cancelled on me (ouch!!); the IRS came after me for a mistake I made on my 2003 return (Yikes!!); and the same 'Big Papi' who thrilled us all season long went to the hospital with heart palpitations. The Sox fell the hell off the competitive map; and my plans to buy a new car have been temporarily tabled.

Still, I'm working on a fantastic one-man-err-woman-err-man show called I AM MY OWN WIFE at Firehouse Theatre Project. In addition to playing a sixty -five year-old german transvestite, I play like thirty-six other characters in this astounding biographical piece of documentary-style theatre by Doug Wright. The play deals with Charlotte (nee` Lothar Berfelde) and her struggle to hold steadfast to her own identity during the nigtmarish regimes of first the Nazis and then the Communists in Soviet-Controlled East germany. The play asks more questions about Charlotte than it can possibly answer, and it forces the audience to make up it's own mind, in a way that only good theatre can...

And lastly, Jennie & I are discussing the possibility of relocating to another city-- Spurred on by the fact that we will most likely have to move out of our present housing in january due to the fact that our landlords are moving back in. We want to look at Philly, Chicago, Boston, New York, and a few other places. Now's the time to explore what's out there.

As always, thanks for the support, well wishes, and encouragement...

pray for the Sox.

Auf Wiedersen,

Scott

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Declaration of Independence.


When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the Earth the separate and equal station to which the laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government.

The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these States. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing Importance, unless suspended in their operation until his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them, and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies, without the consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the military independent of, and superior to the civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation;


For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these states:

For cutting of our trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing taxes on us without our consent:

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:

For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses.

For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries, so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these colonies:

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is, at this time, transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy, scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace, friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in general congress assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare that these united colonies are and of right ought to be, free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown and that all political connections between them and the state of Great Britain is and ought to be totally dissolved and that, as free and independent states, they have full and independent power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce and do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do.

And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of a Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

Howard Zinn: "Patriotism & The Fourth of July"


The following is an excerpt from Howard Zinn's forthcoming book, A Power Governments Cannot Suppress (City Lights Books)

In celebration of the 4th of July there will be many speeches about the young people who "died for their country." Let's be honest about war. Those who gave their lives did not die for their country, as they were led to believe but for their government. The distinction between country and government is at the heart of the Declaration of Independence, which will be referred to again and again on July 4, but without attention to its meaning.

According to the Declaration of Independence—the fundamental document of democracy—governments are artificial creations, established by the people, "deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed," and charged by the people to ensure the equal right of all to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Furthermore, as the Declaration says, "whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it."

It is the country that is primary—the people, the ideals of the sanctity of human life and the promotion of liberty. When a government recklessly expends the lives of its young for crass motives of profit and power, always claiming that its motives are pure and moral ("Operation Just Cause" was the invasion of Panama and "Operation Iraqi Freedom" in the present instance), it is violating its promise to the country. War is almost always a breaking of that promise. It does not enable the pursuit of happiness but brings despair and grief.

Mark Twain, having been called a "traitor" for criticizing the U.S. invasion of the Philippines, derided what he called "monarchical patriotism." He said: "The gospel of the monarchical patriotism is: 'The King can do no wrong.' We have adopted it with all its servility, with an unimportant change in the wording: 'Our country, right or wrong!' We have thrown away the most valuable asset we had—the individual's right to oppose both flag and country when he believed them to be in the wrong. We have thrown it away; and with it, all that was really respectable about that grotesque and laughable word, Patriotism."

If patriotism in the best sense (not in the monarchical sense) is loyalty to the principles of democracy, then who was the true patriot, Theodore Roosevelt, who applauded a massacre by American soldiers of 600 Filipino men, women, and children on a remote Philippine island, or Mark Twain, who denounced it?

Today, U.S. soldiers are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan are not dying for their country, they are dying for their government. They are dying for Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld. And yes, they are dying for the greed of the oil cartels, for the expansion of the American empire, for the political ambitions of the President. They are dying to cover up the theft of the nation's wealth to pay for the machines of death. As of July 4, 2006, more than 2,500 US soldiers have been killed in Iraq, more than 8,500 maimed or injured. (1)

With the war in Iraq long delcared a "Mission Accomplished," shall we revel in American military power and—against the history of modern empires—insist that the American empire will be beneficent?

Our own history shows something different. It begins with what was called, in our high school history classes, "westward expansion"—a euphemism for the annihilation or expulsion of the Indian tribes inhabiting the continent, all in the name of "progress" and "civilization." It continues with the expansion of American power into the Caribbean at the turn of the century, then into the Philippines, and then repeated Marine invasions of Central America and long military occupations of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

After World War II, Henry Luce, owner of Time, LIFE, and Fortune, spoke of "the American Century," in which this country would organize the world "as we see fit." Indeed, the expansion of American power continued, too often supporting military dictatorships in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, because they were friendly to American corporations and the American government.

The record does not justify confidence in Bush's boast that the United States will bring democracy to Iraq. Should Americans welcome the expansion of the nation's power, with the anger this has generated among so many people in the world? Should we welcome the huge growth of the military budget at the expense of health, education, the needs of children, one fifth of whom grow up in poverty?

Instead of being feared for our military prowess, we should want to be respected for our dedication to human rights. I suggest that a patriotic American who cares for her or his country might act on behalf of a different vision.

Should we not begin to redefine patriotism? We need to expand it beyond that narrow nationalism that has caused so much death and suffering. If national boundaries should not be obstacles to trade—some call it "globalization"—should they also not be obstacles to compassion and generosity?

Should we not begin to consider all children, everywhere, as our own? In that case, war, which in our time is always an assault on children, would be unacceptable as a solution to the problems of the world. Human ingenuity would have to search for other ways.