In September 1998, President Bill Clinton and Hilary celebrated the Good Friday Peace Agreement in a whirlwind swing through Ireland. The White House Advance Office called to say Hillary directed them to ask Irish-Americans in the Administration to staff the trip. I turned catatonic with excitement. My responsibility? Wrangling a group of Congresspeople to piggyback on President Clinton’s schedule. I simply had to make sure they got to events on time.

The code word for Congressional Delegations on foreign trips is “CO” “DEL”. The CODEL to Ireland consisted of six Congresspeople. Limited space in official vehicles and tight security meant none of them traveled with staff.

I was it.

The White House travel office expanded the CODEL up until the last minute to include a few Cabinet Secretaries, heads of Agencies and VIPs.

I corralled the twenty CODEL in the lobby of a waterfront Belfast hotel. Scheduled to leave midday, I asked the hotel to ring all their rooms with a post-jet lag reminder. During the hour-long bus ride to Armagh, the Irish-American CODEL understood that their lives had been accorded a peak experience. Some used their phones to share their excitement. Some, unnerved by recent violence in Northern Ireland, prayed silently.

As for me? I found myself reaching for the microphone to give an ad hoc history of Armagh I’d learned mostly in Catholic grade school.

“St. Patrick established the town as the center of Irish Christianity in the third century.”

Just outside Belfast I pointed out the notorious Long Kesh prison, a reminder of the 1980s hunger strikers and Irish republican Bobby Sands. He was elected to the British House of Commons while in prison and died at twenty-seven.

“Margaret Thatcher refused to classify the hunger strikers as political prisoners,” one Congressman piped up, “she made sure they were criminals with no special rights.”

“Ten hunger strikers died,” said another.

At Armagh the CODEL crowded into their VIP seats next to the stage on the Mall, a sprawling meadow at the foot of two cathedrals both named for St. Patrick. One Catholic. One Protestant. CODEL members kept asking me where Clinton was. No one around us nor on the phone revealed anything—not the senior staff, the Secret Service, nor our Irish counterparts. Fear that something ominous may be stirring hovered over the crowd. Violent dissidents had wanted the peace process to fail.

Two weeks earlier a car bomb had exploded in Omagh, a town thirty-five miles from where we sat, killing twenty-nine people. Bill and Hillary Clinton, Tony & Cherie Blair, secretly arranged to meet with the families of Omagh victims on the way to the peace celebration in Armagh. They were an hour late.

On that stage, on that night, Bill Clinton roared to thousands, “…in the face of any act of madness born of hatred over religious, or racial, or ethnic or tribal differences, people everywhere can shake their fists in defiance and say, ‘Do not tell me it has to be this way. Look at Northern Ireland.’”

The Day I Was Posted to the White House

The Secretary of Education in the Bill Clinton Administration hired me as his Director of Scheduling and Advance based on one simple fact—I was from Chicago. An honorable and wily statesman, Richard Riley assumed experience in Chicago politics gave me a certain expertise: I’d be able to withstand  the numerous hoodoo scheduling proposals that plagued his staff, particularly those from White House advisor and fellow Chicagoan, Rahm Emmanuel.

The lobbyist for Siemens International contacted me frequently inviting Riley to visit the company’s innovative partnership in Lake Mary, Florida. Siemens provided on-the-job training for students at the Lake Mary high school. The program exemplified Clinton’s school-to-work policy, so I put it on a list of possible events for the Secretary.

In the fall of 1995, Rahm, Assistant to the President for Political Affairs, decided a big flashy event  would be the perfect way to highlight Clinton’s School-to-Work Opportunities Act before the 1996 reelection campaign. He asked Secretary Riley for suggestions. Riley consulted me and we chose Siemens/Lake Mary.

Since I’d be organizing and managing all the details for the President’s visit to Lake Mary, I was immediately posted to the White House Scheduling Office. I tiptoed into my first day on the job as if I’d wake a sleeping giant who’d shout, “You don’t belong here!”

Within the first few hours at my desk in the White House, I received a call from a colleague at the Department of Education. He’d uncovered some unseemly intelligence: Siemens collaborated with the Hitler regime.


I immediately reported this to the President’s Scheduler. She hastily called a meeting of decision-makers and sent me with others to an afternoon meeting with Deputy Chief of Staff Harold Ickes and Rahm. These two were known for hurling f-bombs right at your face before you even sat down (“who the fuck are you?”). The fray of Chicago politics conditioned me for profanity, but these brawlers took it to another level. They were famous for not only sparring with each other but also lobbing the most obscene and demeaning sucker punches at ringside innocents.

Rumors were rampant that each of them offered outsiders access to the President in exchange for campaign contributions. My Nazi information put the Lake Mary event in jeopardy and in turn, meant a lost opportunity for big cash from Siemens.

The meeting participants rat-a-tatted around the room on the pros and cons of going or not going. Their only concern: what would the press report? My lips involuntarily clamped shut and quivered. Participation in this conversation would have been like throwing myself in the ring with Muhammad Ali.

I finally busted out, “They had a factory at Auschwitz.”

Heads turned and I felt dragon eyes spit fire in my face. My cheeks ignited.

“Are you saying we shouldn’t go?”

White House West Wing

I knew my answer would either shorten or prolong my envious seat in a White House office.

“I’m saying Siemens helped fund the Nazi party and later used prisoners to work in their factory inside Auschwitz.”

And so ended my 8-hour post in the West Wing of the White House.

Are We Getting Dragged Into Their Holy War?

Hal Lindsey’s end-times prophecies in The Late, Great Planet Earth, permeated the born-again, religious cult I joined in the early 1970’s in Toms River, New Jersey. There were about fifty of us—disparate spiritual seekers who accepted Jesus Christ as our personal the_late_great_planet_earth_coversavior, a requirement for inclusion in the exclusive Fellowship. One of the elders had broken away from a local Plymouth Brethren Church and opened the basement of his family’s large, wooded, colonial home for Bible study and Sunday services for us blue-jeaned recovering addicts and alcoholics. As a newly sobered-up ex-hippie, full of self-loathing, all I wanted was to be accepted in that Fellowship.

Based on his interpretations of the Book of Revelations, Lindsey’s book sensationalized end-of-the-world Biblical prophecies connecting them to current events as proof of the coming Rapture where Christians would be taken up to heaven and avoid Armageddon. Satan’s plans to form a one-world government and religion, as prophesied, were triggered by the establishment of the state of Israel and the World Council of Churches—both in 1948. Everywhere I looked in those days I saw Lindsey’s signs of the end times: increase in the divorce rate, recreational drugs, new technology, the gasoline shortage, religious ecumenism, and the birth of the European Union.

Church elders directed every aspect of our lives. Men were the head of the household, women submitted to them and didn’t work. We lived in separate homes but were discouraged from socializing outside the Fellowship, lest we be influenced by secular humanist ideas, like having credit cards, one of Satan’s tools to create a global economy. We didn’t put our money in The Bank of America because the bank was seeking to legalize interstate branch banking, thereby centralizing all the country’s money into a single entity, another Satanic plan.

When my son joined Little League in the first grade, I sat away from the other parents in the bleachers fearing the wrath of God if I talked to anyone outside of the Fellowship. Church members scorned me for volunteering for Jimmy Carter for President in 1976, even though he was born-again.

After four years, I extricated myself from the Fellowship, left my abusive husband in New Jersey and drove my nine-year-old son 800 miles west to Chicago for a new life. A group of Christians at LaSalle Street Church who had experienced similar religious cults nursed me back to spiritual and emotional health. The ideas of Hal Lindsey dissipated into the ether of bad dreams and gradually I no longer looked for signs of the end times.

Until now.

President Trump in his first speech to the Joint Congress announced he was not the President of the world, rather the President of us Americans.

These words, and words of White House strategist Steve Bannon announcing a nationalistic government free from links to other countries remind me of Hal Lindsey’s warning to resist Satan’s plans for a global economy and one-world government.

Are they fighting a holy war?


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