Military Families Speak Out Washington State Chapter


Bring Them Home Now!

One of the features of military families in this war that differs from previous wars is that there are more young married soldiers.

Here are some statistics:

-- in Iraq war, soldiers often married, with children

-- 55% of military personnel are married. 56% of those married are between 22 and 29.

-- One million military children are under 11.

-- 40% are 5 or younger.

-- 63% of spouses work, including 87% of junior-enlisted spouses.

Source: Department of Defense and National Military Family Association.

Dissent is loyalty Robert Taft, the conservative Ohio senator who is a hero to many of today's conservatives, gave a speech at the Executive Club of Chicago in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor.

There are a number of paragraphs that are just grand, but here's the best one, which is worth quoting in full:

As a matter of general principle, I believe there can be no doubt that criticism in time of war is essential to the maintenance of any kind of democratic government

... too many people desire to suppress criticism simply because they think that it will give some comfort to the enemy to know that there is such criticism.

If that comfort makes the enemy feel better for a few moments, they are welcome to it as far as I am concerned, because
the maintenance of the right of criticism in the long run will do the country maintaining it a great deal more good than it will do the enemy,
and will prevent mistakes which might otherwise occur.

Drink in those words.

That's not William Fulbright two years into the Vietnam War.

It's not Ted Kennedy last week.

It's Mr. Republican, speaking -- when? Not mid-1943, or even March 1942

Taft delivered this speech ... on December 19, 1941!

That's right: Twelve days after the worst attack on American soil in the country's history,

perhaps with bodies still floating in the harbor,

the leader of the congressional opposition said to the president, 'we will question, we will probe, we will debate.'

By Michael Tomasky,
The AMERICAN Prospect online

Order and send postcards to Congress - Fund our Troops, Defund the

Bring Them Home Now postage stamps

For more information see Appeal for Redress website.

For more information go to dvd 'The Ground Truth' website.

Some Past Campaigns - Washington state chapter MFSO members participation


(photo - Daniel Ellsberg, Lt. Ehren Watada)

(photo - Organizing Team; Lietta Ruger - MFSO - WA chapter introduces the Panelists)

(photo - on the Panel - Elizabeth Falzone - GSFSO/ MFSO - WA chapter and Rich Moniak - MFSO - Alaska chapter listen to two days of testimony)

(photo - close up of Panelists Elizabeth Falzone - GSFSO/ MFSO - WA chapter and Rich Moniak - MFSO - Alaska chapter)

(photo - rRetired Diplomat Col. Ann Wright gives her testimony)

(photo - Organizing Team - Lietta Ruger - MFSO - WA chapter with retired Col. Ann Wright - Testifier)

(photo - Stacy Bannerma, wife of returning Iraq veteran - WA Natl Guard, gives testimony)

(photo - close up Stacy Bannerman, author of 'When The War Came Home' gives her testimony. Formerly MFSO - WA chapter. For more on Stacy, her book, media archives, see her website at

(photo - IVAW veterans Geoffrey Millard and former Lt. Harvey Tharp give their testimony)

See website; 'Citizens' Hearing on Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq';

Jan 20-21- 2007, Tacoma, WA.

A 2 day citizens' tribunal support action in defense of Lt. Ehren Watada court martial at Fort Lewis.

(Organizing Team from MFSO - WA chapter; Lietta Ruger, Judy Linehan)


(photo Lietta Ruger, MFSO- WA, in support Lt. Ehren Watada, June 2006, Tacoma, WA)

(photo - Jenny Keesey, Judy Linehan, Lietta Ruger - from MFSO-WA in support of Lt. Ehren Watada June 2006, Tacoma, WA)

(photo - Lietta Ruger, Judy Linehan, Jenny Keesey - from MFSO - WA chapter, June 2006, Tacoma, WA)

(photo - Judy Linehan, MFSO - WA at support rally for Lt. Watada, June 2006, Tacoma, WA)

June 2006 ongoing through court martial Feb 2007

For more information, see 'Thank You Lt. Ehren Watada' website.

(photo - right is Stacy Bannerman, MFSO -WA; organizing team)

Representative Brian Baird, Washington state 3rd Congressional District, in blue shirt comes out to talk with MFSO members at 'Operation House Call')

'Operation House Call' June thru August 2006 in Washington DC.

MFSO members make individual calls on Senators and Representatives advocating to Bring Them Home Now.

For more information go to 'Operation House Call' website.

postcards sent to Congress - summer 2006, 'Operation House Call'


(photo - Lietta Ruger, MFSO-WA on central tour. Not pictured - Stacy Bannerman, MFSO -WA on northern tour)

Bring Them Home Now tour - Sept 1 thru Sept 25 2005. From Crawford, Texas to Washington DC. see Bring Them Home Now tour website

(photo - left Lietta Ruger, MFSO -WA with center Cindy Sheehan and right Juan Torres at Crawford, Texas, Camp Casey, Aug 9, 2005


photos from Newshour with Jim Lehrer; segment 'Homefront Battles' aired Oct 2004.

Online video, audio and article still available at Newshour website. photo - Sue Niederer, MFSO. Her son U.S. Army 2nd Lt.Seth Dvorin, 24 yrs old was killed in Iraq Feb 3, 2004.

photo - Nancy Lessin, MFSO Co-Founder

photo - Lietta Ruger, MFSO - WA

photo - Stacy Bannerman, MFSO - WA

See at Seattle PI; List of casualties with Washington state ties

This is one of WA state casualties; Army Spc. Jonathan J. Santos, Whatcom County, Washington died Oct 15, 2004

Watch a slide show of family photos and listen to audio recordings of Army Cpl. Jonathan Santos' mother, brother and the woman who's documenting his life.

See the trailer for the documentary "The Corporal's Boots." (QuickTime 7 required).

A special thank you to mother, Doris Kent - GSFSO/ MFSO - WA for her generous sharing and contribution in speaking of her son's life and death in Iraq

Title 17 disclaimer In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Contact us

Military Families Speak Out
is an organization of people who are opposed to war in Iraq and who have relatives or loved ones in the military. We were formed in November of 2002 and have contacts with military families throughout the United States, and in other countries around the world.

As people with family members and loved ones in the military, we have both a special need and a unique role to play in speaking out against war in Iraq. It is our loved ones who are, or have been, or will be on the battlefront. It is our loved ones who are risking injury and death. It is our loved ones who are returning scarred from their experiences. It is our loved ones who will have to live with the injuries and deaths among innocent Iraqi civilians.

If you have family members or loved ones in the military and you are opposed to this war join us.

Send us an e-mail at
You can call us at 617-522-9323
or Send us mail at:
P.O. Box 549
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130.

click here - MFSO Membership Form – to join Military Families Speak Out or

JOIN us by sending an e-mail to

MFSO - Become a Member

Membership in MFSO is open to anyone who has a family member or loved one serving, since August 2002, in any branch of our Armed Forces

* The Reserves

* The National Guard

* Returned from serving but still eligible for redeployment under stop loss.

There is no membership fee. Donations are welcome.

People who are not eligible for MFSO membership may join our Supporter Group. You are welcome to attend meetings that are open to the public, volunteer to help with event preparation and participate in our community actions and events. Supporters may purchase MFSO t-shirts and wear them with the "Proud Supporter of MFSO" button. Buttons may also be worn without the t-shirt.

Our Supporters provide emotional encouragement and physical help to our MFSO military families who are under extreme stress, especially if their loved one is in Iraq or Afghanistan

We welcome your involvement, please contact us.

click to see the list MFSO chapters other than Washington state forming around the country.

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Sunday, 7 May 2006

Now Playing: MFSO reps meet with Senator Cantwell
Topic: Local Lobbying

Cantwell speaks to party faithful, then meets with critics in private

[Excerpts below. Click here to read the entire article. ]

 In Seattle for the weekend, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell got a rousing reception from 400-500 of the party faithful at the King County Democratic Party convention.

She didn't say much about Iraq there, but afterward, she talked about the war, an issue on which she differs with some of the city's liberal activists. She met privately downtown with a delegation representing military families opposed to the war and calling for an early troop withdrawal.

... On Iraq, she stuck with a slogan — "In Iraq, 2006 must be a year of transition" — that her critics deride as too vague.

"What does it mean? Transition to what? ... There's no clear definition," said Lietta Ruger of Military Families Speak Out, one of those who met with Cantwell afterward and who wants a clear and short timeline for troop withdrawal.

Rejecting demands that she make a clear call simply to withdraw, she [Cantwell] said very few of her critics truly believe that the troops can be pulled out quickly.

Cantwell left the convention to meet with exactly such critics: members of Military Families Speak Out and Gold Star Families Speak Out, two activist groups that claim 3,000 members nationwide.

Interviewed before the meeting, delegation members said they would press Cantwell to support an explicit near-term withdrawal from Iraq.

"We want the troops out now," said Ruger, of Bay Center, Pacific County, in the southwest corner of the state. "We understand there's a withdrawal process. ... It can be a matter of weeks to months." Her son-in-law and nephew both served in Iraq.

Ruger's group flatly rejects the argument that U.S. troops are needed to prevent anarchy in Iraq.

"The problem in that nation is the ongoing U.S. occupation," said Stacy Bannerman, of Kent. The wife of a national guardsman, she is the author of an anti-war book, "When the War Came Home."

"We need to remove the cause of the pressure, which is American forces," she said.

Speaking partway through the meeting with the military families, Cantwell spokeswoman Charla Neuman said the meeting was going "pretty well, considering it's an emotional topic" for the families involved. But Neuman said the group was very skeptical of Cantwell's contention that real progress in promoting Iraqi self-reliance is possible in the near term.

After the meeting with Cantwell, Arthur Ruger, Lietta Ruger's husband and a Vietnam veteran, described it as powerful. "It was very frank. She spoke openly," he said, "She has made her position clear. She stuck to that."

"It was a very intense two hours," he added. "Even if she doesn't change her position, definitely she's got things to think about."

Asked if he would be voting for Cantwell, Ruger said yes, that had never been in doubt. He said he has not voted Republican since 2000 and the meeting Saturday reinforced his desire to vote for Cantwell.

Dominic Gates: 206-464-2963 or

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Updated: Sunday, 18 March 2007 11:31 AM PDT
Saturday, 6 May 2006

Now Playing: Arthur Ruger at Washblog
Topic: Local Lobbying

Is Maria talking and walking the DLC version of reality?

Maria's recent op/ed has echoes of somebody else's point of view.

I wrote the following last October in a Daily Kos Diary. I've done some minor editing for grammar and clarity purposes as well as updating my thinking from last October.

October, 2005:

An email from the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC)  was forwarded to me yesterday. The following excerpts reveal why those in this country who are smart but remain political spectators need to turn off Survivor, Lost, Nascar, Monday Night Football and step onto the playing field.

DLC: Idea of the Week: What To Do Now In Iraq


While the Bush Administration has committed a long series of mistakes in the aftermath of the removal of Saddam Hussein, America must remain committed to success in Iraq.

From Democrats who think they have their fingers on the pulse of everyday working America? The Republicans have yet to define what that success looks like - and much of what they've instigated still smells of a permanent presence in Iraq.  If the DLC refuses to tell Americans what that "success" looks like, it sure looks like they are in bed with the Republicans.


A failed state in Iraq would destabilize the entire region, hand our jihadist enemies a major victory and result in a devastating blow to our national security credibility and interests.

Come again? Are you DLC'ers telling Democrats, progressives and independents that if we don't fight them over there we'll be fighting them here?

And you supposed politically astute geniuses are flat out stating that "our jihadist enemies" are not primarily trying to extricate their nation from the consequences of America's self-interest at the expense of the national security credibility and interests of Iraqis themselves?


But the right course now is neither to give the terrorists a victory by withdrawing, nor to continue Bush's failed policies.  We urge progressives to place maximum pressure on the administration to reverse its mistakes and pursue a new strategy linked to clear benchmarks for success in Iraq and in the broader war on terror.

That is neither the talk of an opposition party nor the supposed wisdom of progressive thinking.  No, it's pure unadulterated neocon ideology - the sort of thing we expect to hear from the Republican National Committee and the Weekly Standard. But for God's sake, not someone pretending to be the heart and voice of Democratic wisdom.

You jokers are not speaking for or with the best interests of the people of this country at heart.


Here are three ways the U.S. can do exactly that:

First, we should formally disclaim any interest in permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq; clearly shift the primary responsibility of defending the country to the Iraqi military (with embedded Coalition troops), and adopt a joint military strategy based on proven principles of counterinsurgency. The last point means abandoning Vietnam-style "search and destroy" missions against the insurgency and instead focusing on progressively securing territory where reconstruction can proceed and normal civic life can resume.

Tell me, how is it that we can justifiably recruit our own young flesh and blood and within 6 weeks to 3 months train them "adequately", ship them to Iraq right smack dab into harm's way and task them with the primary responsibility of defending someone else's country

- yet we have failed to justifiably accomplish the same objective with Iraqis themselves - who have to be more invested in the sacrifice on behalf of their own nation?

Why haven't we accomplished this with the more-motived Iraqis also in less than a year?

This logic no longer holds water. DLC'ers are singing a Republican tune.


Second, we should launch a new political strategy aimed relentlessly at winning Sunni support for the new government, and at isolating jihadists. We still have considerable leverage among Shi'a and Kurdish leaders; we should use it to push for confidence -- building measures like the integration of communal militias into the Iraqi army and police forces; a blanket amnesty for former Baathists not implicated in atrocities; and for intensified talks with Sunnis on supplemental protocols to the proposed constitution that would ensure a viable central government and minority rights.

We have lost the ability and justification to accomplish this in any meaningful way. Without your neocon assumptions, this also does not hold water.

This situation is Colin's Powell's "If you break it, you own it" philosophy. Except that the real owners have seen that you cannot fix it to the ideal you propagandized before walking into the establishment with shock and awe thinking of flowers in your paths.

It is screwed up so badly, they just want and need you to leave.


Third, we should muster all our diplomatic resources to create a more supportive international environment for the new Iraqi government. It should not be that hard to establish a UN-authorized international contact group to coordinate political support and economic assistance.

Now you're talking! ... and that more supportive international environment for the new Iraqi government needs to have ceded to it all authority and credibility necessary to create trust inside Iraq and throughout the Middle East.

Republicans and their neocon appointees have made of America the mean drunk whose behavior has been so poor that the drunk needs to walk away and stop trying to fix it by  making it worse.


We should cash our sizable chits with Saudi Arabia and Egypt to work directly with Iraqi Sunni Arabs, using economic incentives where possible, to undermine support for insurgency and encourage political engagement. These Arab states should also push Syria (in conjunction with potential U.N. sanctions) to finally close off travel routes into Iraq for jihadists.

We should come clean with our own populace as to what those sizable chits with Saudi Arabia and Egypt are - how they became sizable and why they have value.

We should come clean with the American public as to what our true investment risk and expected outcome is in these relationships.

Our government should come clean about what the relationship to oil, torture and permanent bases is in connection with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the rest of the Middle East.


We should formally push for indictment of chief terrorist Zarquawi for crimes against humanity in Iraq, drawing worldwide attention to the vicious anti-Shi'a ethnic cleansing campaign that characterizes the insurgency. All these steps ARE politically feasible, but there's no evidence the administration is taking them.

We should do whatever it takes to acknowledge and then take all necessary measures to address the global indictment of our country for crimes against humanity in Iraq, drawing worldwide attention to our vicious anti-Iraqi nationalist cleansing campaign that characterizes our foolish neocon attempt to impose an American control.

These steps are politically feasible but there's no evidence that neither the administration nor the DLC is interested in taking them.


In calling for this new strategy, we acknowledge that we are asking brave Americans to sacrifice still more for a crucial goal under the direction of an administration that has failed so often to pursue that goal competently or honestly.

We share the anger of most progressives towards Bush's blunders, even as we urge them not to let that anger obscure the very real national stake we all have in taking every step possible to leave Iraq in a condition where it will not become a failed state and a terrorist base for global operations.

As usual, Tony Blair best articulated those stakes, for our people and his, just this week:

"This is a global struggle. Today it is at its fiercest in Iraq. It has allied itself there with every reactionary element in the Middle East. Strip away their fake claims of grievance and see them for what they are: terrorists who use 21st century technology to fight a pre-medieval religious war that is utterly alien to the future of humankind."

That's a reality that all of us, whether or not we supported the original invasion of Iraq, need to keep in mind, holding our leaders most accountable not for their blunders, but for their willingness to recognize them and change course now.

This is the pot calling the kettle black. Quoting Tony Blair reveals more about whose agenda the DLC supports. The DLC is voicing the ultimate arrogantly ignorant assumption that we can ask brave Americans to sacrifice still more for a goal it (the DLC) has failed to describe as different from the administration's neocon stupidity.

The DLC does not share the same anger as progressives towards Bush's blunders so long as they offer only a better way to break more things and cause more damage worldwide.

Deny it as they may, the DLC is assuming that their anger reflects the disapproving American voter opinion in the polls - justifiable anger based on DLC self-interested assumptions - which do not take into consideration the very real personal stake we all have in a peaceful future.

Iraq as a pre-invasion terrorist base for global operations is not something that has been proven or validated.

Iraq as a failed state of forced American design needs to go through the failed state transition - with the help of a supportive international community before we can understand how any country seeking its own independence is doing so purely out of an intent to become a  terrorist base for global operations.

Republicans and the DLC reflect an arrogant assumption that American wisdom, primarily because America entered the 21st century as THE sole superpower, is the best wisdom for global harmony.

It's an assumption based on sustaining those who have the power, Republican or Democrat, who remain part of a minority working to remain permanently in the driver's seat.

Rejection of the DLC is imperative if progressives and liberals are going to unite and take back the country via election of Democratic politicians.

If anything, all citizens should see clearly that groups such as the DLC want a status quo that - precisely as the Republican-controlled government, stays on the wrong course.

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Friday, 5 May 2006

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger at Washblog
Topic: Local Lobbying

Arthur quoted with link to Washblog in today's Seattle Times article

Weren't we surprised this morning to see today's Seattle Times article; 'Cantwell's stance on Iraq keeps volunteers away, party chief says' by David Postman, Seattle Times Chief Political Reporter, May 5, 2006.   Arthur's writings at Washblog with a link to Washblog were quoted in the Seattle Times!

I'm not surprised as much that Arthur would get quoted since I have long admired his ability with words both in writing and in oral presentation.  He has a knack of what I call putting in words an immediate visual picture snapshot of the concept he's trying to express.  But, I am surprised that Seattle Times would take notice of Washblog - a blog, no less, and give it credibility.  I'm pleasantly surprised to see someone out there is actually reading Arthur's writings at Washblog.  Someone at the Seattle Times.  My moment of pride in my husband, indulge me.

more below the fold; Arthur attending tomorrow's meeting with Sen. Cantwell...


  Tomorrow, both Arthur and I, will be attending the meeting with Sen. Cantwell that came as her response to the sit-in April 26 at her Seattle office. Representing Military Families Speak Out . I already met with Senator Cantwell on April 10 along with several other diverse interest groups for the sole purpose of discussing her position on Iraq. Tomorrow then, I look forward to hearing Arthur, a Vietnam-era veteran speak at our meeting with the Senator.

  Another person I look forward to hearing from tomorrow is another Washington Military Families Speak Out member, Stacy Bannerman.  Wife of National Guardsman deployed to Iraq in extended deployment, she is also on the Advisory Board of national Military Families Speak Out.  (A plug coming) She is quite busy now with her newly published book When the War Came Home' An Inside Account of Citizen Soldiers and The Families Left Behind' (Continuum Press, 2006) and I'm pleased she is still finding time to participate in our actions (Stacy was at the sit-in; the only woman there among the men, I might add) to help Senator Cantwell see her way clear to a more responsive and responsible leadership role on Iraq.

  Another military family,and veteran, Joe Colgan, whom was also quoted in the Seattle Times article today, (also see his guest op-ed "The Killing Has Got to Stop    Feb 2, 2006 in Seattle PI as result of the December 04 meeting with Sen. Cantwell)  will attend tomorrow's meeting.  He was at the sit-in and I look forward to hearing his thoughts again.  He has our best interests at heart in that his son, 1st Lt Benjamin Colgan, was killed in Iraq in Nov 2003, and he does not wish us to be forced to endure having our loved ones deploy to Iraq to not return.

   Returning Iraq veteran, Josh Farris, will also attend the meeting tomorrow, and was at the sit-in, and the Dec 04 meeting with the Senator. I look forward to hearing again his first-hand account of what he believes as result of his deployment in Iraq.

  Another Washington military family of Military Families Speak Out; the Gold Star Families Speak Out chapter who have the distinction of having a loved one die in Iraq, Elizabeth Falzone, may also be attending the meeting tomorrow. She attended the meeting with Sen. Cantwell in Dec. 04.  I look forward to hearing her thoughts again.  

   91 year old war veteran of Spanish War and WW II, Abe Osheroff, who was at the sit-in and the Dec 04 meeting with the Senator will attend tomorrow's meeting. I have heard only a hint of what Abe has to say from his own experiential and historical background, and look forward to hearing more fully from him tomorrow.

   This comprises the 'stakeholders' who, although unrecognized as such, have the largest stakes in policy decisions on the Iraq war (and the distant drums banging on Iran).  Not in any way to neglect calling attention to the other major stakeholders in this war - the Iraqi people themselves, but that is better left represented by the Iraqi people, who are able to directly articulate the enormity of the costs to their people.

   Others attending tomorrow's meeting include strong and diligent supporter, Dr. Howard Gale, who was at the sit-in, also at the Dec 04 meeing with Senator Cantwell and I need to take a moment of recognition here for Howard.  He has volunteered so much of his time and talents to serve as a kind of steering chairperson in keeping the continuity going for us all since these actions began back in November 04 with a letter to Senator Cantwell signed by most of us listed above.  

  Also attending tomorrow's meeting will be new on board, student activist at Seattle Central Community College, Adam Garcia.

   We don't know who will 'moderate' the meeting, and I hope it will be Alice Woldt as she served us all very well in the April 10 meeting with Senator Cantwell. Alice has talent in bringing together in collaboration diverse groups for mutual purpose.

   Maybe readers, you'd like to read the compelling account of one of our own Washingtonians, a returning Iraq veteran, double amputee, living in Chelan County with his wife and their three children.  A poignant account of daily life after Iraq, minus two limbs.  Recommending 'War Without End Series' which is permanently posted at my own blog Dying to Preserve the Lies .  


The war in Iraq arrives on America's shores by gurney. More than 16,000 U.S. soldiers have been wounded -- almost 400 have lost arms, legs, hands or feet. Each injury ripples through lives with its own pattern and force. And as two soldiers and their families are discovering, the war will be with them forever.

Follow the stories. Follow Sgt Michael Buyas, who became a Ranger with the 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, out of Fort Lewis, Wash., and left for Iraq in October 2004. Follow his return to Central Washington, their personal family story of recovery as Michael Buyas and his wife, Carrie and their three children learn to live with the life-changing process of recovery. IED in Iraq took both of Michael's legs.

How the series was reported Chronicle reporter Joan Ryan and photographer Deanne Fitzmaurice began documenting "War Without End" during an April 2005 visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where they met Sgts. Michael Buyas and Brent Bretz.

In the subsequent months, Ryan and Fitzmaurice -- later joined by photographer Michael Macor -- followed the treatment and recovery of the soldiers. They visited with and interviewed them regularly, traveling to Washington state and Arizona to chronicle their first trips home from the hospital.

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Wednesday, 26 April 2006

Now Playing: Arthur Ruger at Washlbog
Topic: Local Lobbying

I knew about the sit-in too and I supported and encouraged it

[ed] In the dawn's early light I saw a grammar or two that needed clarifying.

And ain't nobody getting an apology from me because it happened or because it causes negative press to Ms. Cantwell.  Nor because it's thought of as a stupid idea or hurts her re-election possiblities. Those who believe that she could lose to McGavick because of dissent in this party  have bought a larger bridge from dumber con men that most.

I repeat. I'm going to vote for Maria but she gets no free pass from me.

The pretend political psycho spin-doctors who think like dirty-trick republicans and believe that their pulse-taking reveals an electorate that is too dumb and stupid to vote wisely are driving us all nuts.

Unwise folks think the smartest thing we as democrats can do is to not play to win, but to play cautiously not to lose.

Remember when the Oilers did that with a 35-0 lead on the Bills only to lose 41-38? I never forgot it and have little patience for those who have and can't see the similarity at a time when electoral success is so promising - because of all the holes shot in republican feet all over this country.

Joe Colgan and the sitter-inners are friends of mine and I wish I'd had and even greater part in the plot.

Joe Colgan - unlike the proud 30-something pretend strategists who are scared spitless of a paper tiger named McGavick - LOST A SON ... lost a son ... (his son was killed) - to a war that was a lie

... to a war that the honorable senator voted to support

and now, in a blind and proud unwillingness to recognize a foolish and cowardly political act when she and Kerry and the rest of them played "not to lose" and embarrassed all of us ...

God, need I go on?

You cannot find fault with that sit-in for politically strategic reasons.


If - perish the thought - I lose a loved one to this unjustified military disaster, there isn't anybody who's written at this site or in the entirety of Northwest Portal who could justifiably tell me to sit down, shut up and stop handicapping a senator who cast a vote that contributed to the death of my loved one.

She had the power to take an action to protect Joe's son.
Joe Colgan had none.
She didn't do that and hind-sight hasn't justified her not doing that.

Although she does not stand singly guilty nor bear more responsbility than the rest for Democratic passivity regarding this historic American embarrassment, as one of the group of 100 most powerful Americans she excercised the power we gave her but in doing so took a tragically consequential opposite action;

doing so from an unwise and fear-driven political perspective that has come back to haunt her, that has contributed to killing Joe's son and placing thousands more unnecessarily in harm's way.

No, she is not the solitary cause of those deaths. But she is not absolved just because she's up for re-election and slick logicians appeal to a purpose that in reality is not higher nor more noble. Her current attitude and the verbal bone she tossed when Kerry was standing behind her does not merit understanding, let alone forgiveness.

This is not about renomination or defeating Republicans so we can take back the government and eventually some day bring home the troops. We'll do that with or without Maria Cantwell. But if she is not part of it, it won't be because a small minority publicly disputed her own public position.

That sit-in is about the most basic and essential reasons why someone is voted into a position of speaking for the rest of us.

Those sitting-in today were not trying to un-nominate a senator nor advocate for another candidate.

This isn't about that and those who think it is are too shallow and need more civics and less political science classes.

Most of the readers/posters here who DON'T have skin in the game, and we know who they are ...

the college graduates and not-graduates who read-and-write-a-lot, drink loud and liberally but ain't  never-been-there-never-done-that,

the fighting demo keyboard political know-it-alls
with nothing momentous or of value to persuade those few of us not to hold her accountable;

not to hold a cowardly political party's feet to the fire and send Maria and Democratic leadership   a message that they're getting no pass.

Here I come again with points I've already made but points that seem to go way over the heads of people who couldn't or didn't struggle with the 60's and 70's, as late teens or in their early 20's and coping with a very real sucking into a maelstrom of killing,

who never had to use every venue possible to wake up an electorate and bring down liars.

Point One
Maria is going to win her primary easily.

But if someone like Paul Hackett were challenging her for the nomination, all you tip-toers would be standing on shaky crystal pedestals trying to get the rest of us to shut the hell up.

Point 2
If ever in the history of this country there was an opportune time to run against a repuglican candidate - incumbent or otherwise - in the entire U.S.A., 2006 is the year.

If a Democratic Pary cannot whip the majority of the Republican candidates around the country despite gerrymandering and any other swift-bloat tactics, then our party leadership is woefully inadequate and under-qualified. Too many people out there have not only pointed out Republican success tactics, but the flaws and ways to beat those tactics.

Republicans are so incredibly disadvantaged this year.

Our Demo leaders are so cowardly disingenuous in their shameful caution that seems to offer timidity as a strategy in a way that sets up Democratic dissenters as the potential and probable blame objects and fall guys should the long-time losing Demo leaders' dainty, cautious don't-rock-the-boat strategy fail again.

McGavick is no republican charismatic powerhouse who could ride roughshod over Maria due to some sort of sheer intelligence, skill, personality and leadership advantage. If he and his party succeed in building that lie, then it's our own damn fault for letting them get away with lying. Go read the state repug site. They're trying it already and Pelz made the right response.

She's got McGavick hands down right now.

In her first campaign she beat an incumbent for God's sake in a republican year and it really doesn't matter that the margin was thin. What makes anyone think she's so weak or vulnerable as an incumbent that "wise" democrats need to dumb up and shut up and quit expecting senatorial leadership?

She won it in a year when Republicans were kicking lots of Democratic asses all over the country. Gorton was a tough opponent back then but McGavick now?

... an uninspiring stereotypical corporate technocrat - the kind whose lack of leadership style and inability to inspire demonstrate themselves every time he's opened his mouth this year.

This is the time and this is the moment to run for election against a weak party full of weak candidates who have too much to defend and apologize for and too little to justify a vote for them.

Ir is not a time for democrats to act as if it is our party that has to overcome 5 1/2 years of mistakes.

You cannot take back any country that has been stolen from you by asking the Republicans,

"You guys wouldn't mind if we had a crack at governing for a while ... would you?"

That's what your strategies say more loudly than any verbal logic intended to tone down criticism of a candidate.

Trust us, we're noisy but we'll vote the right way.

But she owes this moment of accountability. and if we cannot hold a politician accountable about this kind of issue then we are not truly living in a civic reality. We are living in a world of spin and deception.

Her vote and position on this war have entitled her to the learning experience she's getting right now and the understanding that she is not untouchable;

that in another future venue, she'll experience a greater need for up-front honesty that recognizes the military contributions and sacrifices of a middle class who voted for her ... expecting that she'd represent more little guys and less big assholes.

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Thursday, 6 April 2006

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger on Washblog
Topic: Members Speak Out

Maria Cantwell; Now can you find the courage? Kerry's new Iraq exit plan

So Sen. John Kerry has made public his plan for an exit strategy from Iraq.  And Sen. John Kerry will be coming to our neighborhood in a show of support for Sen. Cantwell.  Hmmm, maybe now she can find the courage to become representative of her constituents, the people's will to get out of Iraq and listen to 72% of the troops polled who want to come home.

Kerry Joins Cantwell in Seattle
announcement at Daniel Kirkdorffer's blog.

NY Times; John Kerry speech; exit Iraq plan April 5, 2006.  


Half of the service members listed on the Vietnam Memorial Wall died after America's leaders knew our strategy would not work.  It was immoral then and it would be immoral now to engage in the same delusion. We want democracy in Iraq, but Iraqis must want it as much as we do. Our valiant soldiers can't bring democracy to Iraq if Iraq's leaders are unwilling themselves to make the compromises that democracy requires.

As our generals have said, the war cannot be won militarily. It must be won politically. No American soldier should be sacrificed because Iraqi politicians refuse to resolve their ethnic and political differences.

So far, Iraqi leaders have responded only to deadlines -- a deadline to transfer authority to a provisional government, and a deadline to hold three elections.

Now we must set another deadline to extricate our troops and get Iraq up on its own two feet.

Iraqi politicians should be told that they have until May 15 to put together an effective unity government or we will immediately withdraw our military. If Iraqis aren't willing to build a unity government in the five months since the election, they're probably not willing to build one at all. The civil war will only get worse, and we will have no choice anyway but to leave. 

We'll see, there's time left before the election for Senator Cantwell to emerge publicly as a newly converted opponent to the never-ending war in Iraq.  I won't be impressed if that happens, as it would be a 'safe' move given the shift in political dynamics.  On the other hand, maybe the courage of her convictions is to stay the course and in some backwards way, I guess that is courage - foolhardy courage, but courage nonetheless.

However, if she does have a soul-searching epiphany and finds that she suddenly feels compelled to change her views on Iraq war, well I guess that plays too.  

Right - whatever!  Too late for too many, but I guess that ol saying 'better late than never', huh?   I won't admire her if she changes her view and has some influence on an end to Iraq war but I will be grateful.  If the two returning Iraq veterans in our family (both from Washington and her constituents too, right?) don't have to redeploy to Iraq, it will be an immense relief.  I'd guess that extends to every other military family in our state whether they say so publicly or not.  And of course, an extension of that is that military families across the nation will be relieved.  What can possibly be said about the Iraqi people who have paid a heavy price ... not sure it is 'relief' they will be feeling as the civil war there is underway already.  


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Sunday, 26 March 2006

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger
Topic: Media Involvement

Seattle Times weighs in; their coverage Iraq war

 The Seattle Times: Local News: Editors strive to offer "all layers" of Iraq war, March 26, 2006

  Media REACTS to the President's accusations that it is the media's fault for the growing unpopular support for the never-ending war.  Seattle Times weighs in; not many reports of the 'good things' happening in Iraq for them to report on...hmmm, I wonder why those anectodal feel good stories aren't making their way to the Seattle Times?  Perhaps because the rationale of doing good ie, building schools that are likely bombed shortly after or the rebuilding of infrastructure in Iraq that still leaves the people without basic services, much less an operating sovereign goverment is getting harder and harder to hold onto as a sustainable rationale.  I believe it is a distorted rationale that has served as a lifeline to justify why our country is at war in Iraq. And it's a rationale politicians and media use as political footballs to secure their own positioning in the 'safety zone' of homeland while consigning our young to a war waged by this very homeland.

   I can't say I'm disappointed to see media having to rethink their coverage of Iraq war this past three years.  It is only an opinion, my opinion, but I found myself keenly disappointed often times in what looked to me like a cowering media (national and local) in the face of the patriotic/unpatriotic rhetoric that flourished in 2003-2004-2005. And yet, per a report from a group called Reporters Without Borders, 86 journalists and media assistants have been killed in Iraq from March 20, 2003, to March 20, 2006. That's not indicative of feint heart and some degree of earnestness in getting to the stories to make the reports.

  I earnestly hope that media will find their own balance in future reporting. Reporting on the reports is not exactly what I consider 'the news' and yet it does seem to be a fact that it's dangerous in Iraq and news staff can die there, just like the troops and civilians.

  Do I want to hear the feel good reports?  Sure, but not at the expense of reporting on the actual condition of the war.   There were 'good things happening in Vietnam' too, but anecdotal feel good reports don't reflect the overall condition of the war itself.  If I wanted 1950's newsreels of how great our military is doing in this changed world of post 9/11, I would think I would have to be somewhat stilted in my growth as an adult to embrace such as other than propaganda bits.

 After intently watching television reported newscasts, talkie personality news reports, through 2003, 2004 by 2005 I quit tuning in to hang on every word, every report. With two deployed loved ones, every day of deployment is an anxious day. The final straw came for me when watching in disgust during the 2004 elections news reports without some degree of indignation as the Commander-in-Chief in war-time insulted our entire military and their families with his pardody of 'searching for weapons of mass destruction' under his desk at the White House. A fund-raising event played out to his wealthy base intended to be humorous for the occasion.  

 I was grateful to have internet, bloggers, independent media, and everyday citizens trying to carry forward the 'unreported' news on Iraq; our deployed service men and women in uniform and conditions on the ground in Iraq; the state of the war in Iraq. In time it became apparant though, that blogoshere reporting on both sides leaned in favor of their own agenda.

My own new activism as a military family speaking out put me in the position of doing national and local media interviews, a not entirely comfortable or familiar position for me.   Initially it did have the appearance of balanced reporting; different views from military family stakeholders.  Over time it became formulaic in that media seemed to want one military family  speaking in what was considered oppositional to the war with another military family speaking in what was considered favorable to the war.  I do have to give credit though to our own media here in Washington. I did not have what I consider to be bad or awkward experiences and am grateful for the mostly accurate reflection in reports of the interviews media has conducted with me.

  I think the challenge comes in stating clearly what it is we want media to report regarding the war in Iraq.  Your thoughts?

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Friday, 24 March 2006

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger
Topic: Members Speak Out

Seattle PI editorial board calls out Cantwell on

Seattle PI editorial board calls out Cantwell on her war position.

  Disclaimer:  my political allegiance lies more in supporting our troops by bringing them home (and taking care of them when they get home).  The efforts of our organization, Military Families Speak Out - WA state chapter are to challenge our elected officials on their position on Iraq war.  Begging off taking a position in favor of 'staying the course' in alignment with the Commander-in-Chief's position does not translate to a plan of action for our troops, their families, our country.  

  In that we expect this 'volunteer military' in their repeated deployments x 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 to do their jobs with their very lives; it is not unreasonable to expect Senator Cantwell to do her job with a similar level of integrity.  New paradigm for how this war is being managed requires new paradigm in the political playing field.  Playing it 'safe' while others are dying is not an act of courage.  The vested voice of military families and troops are the real stake-holders in the policies and policy-makers in this war in Iraq/Afghanistan.  

  Apparantly the editorial board of Seattle PI has a definite opinion about Cantwell's war position...see article below the fold. See also Joe Colgan's op-ed in Seattle PI Feb 22, 2006; The Killing Has Got to Stop (brief history; military families met privately with Sen. Cantwell in Dec 2004 to express their concerns and ask her to state clearly her position on war in Iraq.  While I was invited and included, I was not able to travel up to Seattle to attend that meeting. The meeting was scheduled for 1/2 hr prior to one of her fund-raiser events and she did shift the appointment to an earlier time to allow longer than 1/2 hour meeting.  We believed that was indicative of some sincerity on her part to fully hear what those most invested had to say = Joe Colgan, veteran and father of son killed in Iraq 2003; Joshua Farris, returning Iraq veteran; Elizabeth Falzone, cousin killed in Iraq Nov 2004.)

  Joe Colgan, Kent, WA, is a veteran and father of Army 2nd Lt. Benjamin J. Colgan, who was killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad in November of 2003 while serving in an artillery unit.  I had the privilege of representing several of our Washington military families at presentation in Tacoma rally and march last Sunday. My presentation followed Rep. Jeannie Darnielle D- Tacoma who is also a military family with deployed loved ones. I was proud to give part of my 10 minute presentation to include Joe Colgan along with Joshau Farris (Seattle), a returning Iraq veteran.

see news articles:
Tacoma News Tribune article; Community marches against war

Tacoma Weekly article; Opponents of Iraq war march through Hilltop  

 In recent poll of the troops 72% say 'Bring Us Home'.  Isn't it time to listen to the authentic voices?


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Iraq War: Cantwell's choice


It must have been a bit uncomfortable for Sen. Maria Cantwell to share the same Seattle stage with Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, not because he is among the Democratic Party's most telegenic rising young stars but because he is critical of the Bush administration's rush to war, while she supported it.

Cantwell has said she doesn't think her vote for the war was a mistake. A few months ago, she stunned the members of this newspaper's Editorial Board by talking of "our successes in Iraq."

Her Republican challenger, Mike McGavick, is unlikely to campaign against a war that is the cornerstone of a Republican administration.

But Cantwell can hardly campaign against a war her vote sanctioned, even though a large portion of the U.S. electorate and a decidedly larger portion of her own constituents are unhappy with the course of the war and President Bush's handling of it. It's a campaign issue that could bleed votes from the traditional Democratic base.

But Cantwell may be able to benefit both her re-election prospects and the nation's foreign policy. She helped lead us into this war; now it's incumbent on Cantwell to help lead us out of it.

If Cantwell is simply wedded to a stay-the-course strategy in Iraq, she's lost touch with her constituents on the central foreign policy issue.

If, however, she recognizes that we're in a quagmire that will continue to drain U.S. blood and treasure, Cantwell should bring a legitimate voice to the debate on how to best get out of Iraq.

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Saturday, 18 March 2006

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger
Topic: Civic Duty

Military Families Speak Out on tragic 3rd Anniversary Iraq/Afghanistan war

Weekend of tragically marking the third anniversary Iraq/Afghanistan war.  Some of the scheduled events of Military Families Speak Out - Washington state Chapter

We welcome friends and supporters of our message:

Support Our Troops
Bring Them Home Now
Take Care of them when they get home.

We've been busy this month - more below fold.

MFSO participation in events in Washington

WHAT: March and Rally
DATE: Friday, March 17
TIME: 3pm
PLACE: Bellingham Herald building, Chestnut and State Sts.
WHO: MFSO members will participate, including Anna Lawson whose son serves in the North Dakota National Guard and who has been deployed to Iraq.

Port Angeles
WHAT: Rally and March
DATE: Saturday, March 18
TIME: noon
PLACE: Liberty Bell Veterans Park, 4th and Lincoln
WHO: MFSO member Jenny Keesey will be speaking, whose son is in the Army.

WHAT: Cost of War Hits Home rally & march
DATE: Sunday, March 19
TIME: 1:30pm
PLACE: People's Park Tacoma, Martin Luther King Way & S. 9th St.
WHO: Lietta Ruger of Bay Center, WA, will speak.  Lietta's son-in-law and nephew are both in the Army and served extended tours in Iraq; they now face the prospect of multiple tours in Iraq.  Lietta brings her history as a military family spanning her childhood and early adult years, and as a young military wife during Vietnam.


WHAT: March of Veterans, Military Families, and Survivors of Hurricane Katrina from Mobile AL to New Orleans, LA
DATE: 3/14 - 3/19
TIME: Rally in New Orleans, 3/19/06 10 AM
PLACE: Enter Armstrong Park (Congo Square) and begin the Rally Against War and
WHO: Members of Military Families Speak Out, including:
* Stacy Bannerman of Kent, Washington whose husband serves in the Washington Army National Guard, SFC Mortar Platoon, and served a year's tour of duty in Iraq. Upon return to the US, his Brigade were cut loose after a week of outprocessing, and they have gotten no post-deployment mental health counseling.

WHAT:Sat March 18, silent vigil  9:20am Senator Cantwell fundraiser: the Palace Ballroom, 2100 5th Ave, Seattle.  
WHO:  Joe Colgan, veteran, military family and father of Benjamin Colgan, killed in Iraq in 2003. Military families, veterans, and citizen voters will gather behind one or two 3 ft. by 9 ft. banners (in front of the entrance to the fund raiser) with the following excerpt from Joe's Seattle PI op-ed piece:

"I write as a veteran who has a special love for our troops and their families, and as the father of Lt. Benjami! n Colgan, who was killed in action in Baghdad on Nov. 1, 2003... How many more Americans and Iraqis must perish or be maimed until the "stay-the-course" approach is discredited?
...It is time for Cantwell to help move the debate beyond pointless rhetoric by taking a clear position and holding public forums to promote a better understanding of the costs of this war and how to end it."

(See the full op-ed  )
This will be a solemn presence that conveys a clear message to both those attending the fund raiser and to the press.

Previous Military Families Speak Out events in March 2006 events noting this tragic 3rd year anniversary;

WHAT:  Meeting with KOMO 4 TV news representatives to discuss discuss with KOMO 4 their past and future news/media coverage of terrorism and war in Iraq these past 3 yrs = adequate or inadequate and why?    
DATE:  Friday, March 17, 2006
WHO:  Backbone Campaign, Amy Lacenski of Military Families Speak Out

WHAT:  Forum Speak Out for Military Community
DATE:  Wednesday, March 1, 2006
PLACE:  Tacoma Unitarian Church
WHO:  Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace. Purpose was to reach out to military families of Fort Lewis.

Lietta Ruger, the state chapter coordinator
for Military Families Speak Out (MFSO), says that
"the aim of the forum is to engage with other military families in Washington in discussion of the war, the mission, and support for the deployed troops.
We hope to reach across division and splits and
find some common ground for both sides of the
discussion. We share in common the support of the
troops deployed and have reason to be proud of them."

Media coverage included invitation and interviews in Fort Lewis Ranger and Tacoma News Tribune.
Also TNT reporter was at the event; article in TNT
 reporting on the event


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Wednesday, 15 March 2006

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger
Topic: Take Care of Them
Washington newspaper account of local Army Sgt wounded
Hi Friends,
In Washington state, the newspaper in Vancouver, WA (The Columbian) published the below article on Dec 26, 2005.  The story of a local wounded soldier, Army Sgt Brian Radke.  
It is personal for us in that the father of the wounded soldier, Dave Radke, was the Administrator of the Community Services Office (Dept of Social and Health Services) in Vancouver where both Arthur and I were employed and met each other.
Note: This family is not connected to MFSO in any way.
Since then, Arthur and I have gone on to transfer to other CSOs across the state until we wound up in the current CSO in South Bend, WA.  I left state service shortly after the invasion in Iraq to give more full time attention to my daughter and her 3 children (my grandchildren) when her husband deployed to Iraq and to give more full time attention to giving voice to bringing the troops home.  Arthur stayed on cause..well, ya know, someone in the family has to have earning power.
When this article came to our attention it was significant for not only the personal connection to the soldier's father, and that Sgt Brian Radke is about same age as our 2 Iraq veterans, but also because it is a comprehensive, descriptive article of a Washington army Sgt's injury experience.
Our Washington newspapers run coverage on first hand accounts in quite different ways, and what is striking about the tone of this article is that it avoids pro/anti and partisan messages to focus on real first hand experience, keeping attention on the soldier; on the troops; on the real need to take care of them when they get home; on the potential longevity of recovery from all the wounds physical and less visible.  
And as secondary is the courage it takes the military families to persevere in the life-changing  aftermath  of loved ones deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.
I phoned the Radke household in Vancouver and spoke to Brian's parents, Dave and Lynne Radke to offer our empathy and  in common experiences with deployed loved ones.  I wanted to obtain Dave's permission to share the article amongst my own networking and affiliations and explained a bit about my affiliations and activities.   
I do not wish to disrespect the troops or their families and felt I needed permission before passing this article along to my networking.   The Radke's have stature in their community in Vancouver, WA as well as across the state and are well-respected, which makes the tone of the article all the more significant to me. 
They are not to my knowledge affiliated with any of our military family and veteran coalitions, which makes it all the more powerful as they are a military family speaking their own experience and truth independently.
Warning though, there are sections of the article which are graphicly descriptive of injuries and recuperation in Walter Reed.   Of note, Sgt Brian Radke has been visited by Congressman Murtha, and the article speaks some to Murtha's reaction and action;  SOD Rumsfeld, and the article speaks some about Brian's reactions to the Rumsfeld visit.  
A couple days after the Rumsfeld visit, in a ceremony at nation's capital Senator McCain pinned purple heart  to Sgt Brian Radke. 

Link to article;  'Trying to Heal'.    It is copyrighted so I'm reluctant to print it out for distribution.  

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Sunday, 5 March 2006

Now Playing: Stacy Bannerman
Topic: Members Speak Out

No Deals for Democrats: Quit Bargaining with the Lives of Our Loved Ones

Published on Sunday, March 5, 2006 by  Stacy Bannerman 

It’s easy to make deals with soldiers’ lives when it’s not your soldier. It’s pretty simple to postpone coming up with an exit strategy when your loved ones are already home.

What’s not so easy is sitting across from a familiar stranger, someone who looks like your loved one, but isn’t, not quite. What’s even harder is dining next to an empty chair, day after day, month after month, and year after year. Taking your meals at the bedside of what’s left of your son lying in intensive care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center is a whole different degree of difficult.

Diane Benson’s 26-year-old boy was still unconscious when he arrived at Walter Reed after being hit by a roadside bomb in Tikrit, north of Baghdad. Latseen Benson, in the 101st Airborne, had his legs blown off, along with part of an arm. If he survives—and it’s still a pretty big if—he will never again sit in his old chair at his mother’s table. Negotiate that, Senator Clinton.

Anne Roesler’s son just returned from his third deployment to Iraq in three years. Before he left in August, he told his mom that, if he made it back this time, it would take years for him to recover. Iraq War veterans are already exhibiting post-combat mental health challenges at unprecedented levels.

Part of the reason for the escalating psychological problems is that while soldiers were typically sent for one tour-of-duty in Vietnam, more and more troops are serving two, three, and sometimes four rotations in Iraq. Another complication is the moral ambiguity of fighting a war without front lines, and where the combatants are, or are dressed as, civilians, some of them women or teens. Iraqi law allows the use of children as soldiers, and at least 1,000 youths are believed to be serving in the Iraq military, a figure that doesn’t account for the adolescents providing assistance to insurgency forces.

There is considerable psychological distress associated with going into a country under the auspices of liberating and helping a people, only to have those people rise up against you, and it lingers long after the war has ended.

This nation’s leaders told our soldiers that the people of Iraq would be overjoyed to see them. Forty-five percent of Iraqis think that the insurgents’ attacks on American troops are justified. Eighty percent of Iraqis want the troops out now, as do a majority of Americans.

When this administration sent my husband to Iraq, they told him he’d be building schools. Instead, he killed schoolchildren. Now, how is he supposed to deal with that? How does the wife deal with being woken up in the middle of the night by her husband, holding an imaginary gun to her head?

The only deals that interest politicians are the ones that will keep them in office. They speak of “phased withdrawals,” a gradual drawing-down of forces, which has been tried before.

It didn’t work in Vietnam. It’s sheer arrogance or stupidity to think it will succeed in Iraq.

Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) said an immediate pullout “would cause more problems for us in America." Does “us” refer to you folks on Capitol Hill? What about the nearly 70 percent of Americans who want the troops out of Iraq? Or do you mean the soldiers who are serving in Iraq, and the families left behind? Because, I assure you, the problem for “us” is not an immediate withdrawal of troops.

The problem, for those of us with loved ones in uniform, is that our soldiers are fighting and dying for a lie.

Bargaining with the lives of our soldiers is not leadership. It is moral cowardice and an egregious failure of office of the highest order. I’ve come to expect that from the Bush administration, but surely the Democrats can do better. With the exception of Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), too many Democrats are trying to make deals with the lives of our soldiers. Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean recently endorsed a report by former assistant Defense secretary Lawrence Korb. The ‘strategic redeployment’ concept sets out a plan for a phased troop withdrawal over an 18 month period.

Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) recently stated that he thinks: “In 2006, American troops will begin to leave Iraq in large numbers. By the end of the year, I believe we will have redeployed at least 50,000 troops."

But Biden, Dean, and far too many other Democrats are remarkably silent about the 80,000 or more troops that would remain in Iraq. And they’re mute when it comes to the 800-plus soldiers who will most likely get killed between now and then, bringing the U.S. body count to around 3,000. That’s playing Russian roulette with our loved ones. If the Democratic leaders don’t play that game with their families, they’ve got no right to play it with ours.

Stacy Bannerman is a contributor to Foreign Policy In Focus and on the Advisory Board of Military Families Speak Out. Her book “When the War Came Home: The Inside Story of Reservists and the Families They Leave Behind,” will be released by Continuum Publishing in March 2006. Her husband deployed to Iraq with the Army National Guard 81st Brigade in March 2004, and returned home on March 11, 2005.


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST

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Criticism of the President is Patriotic

"The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly as necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile.

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else.

But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else."

Theodore Roosevelt, 1918, Lincoln and Free Speech