Military Families Speak Out Washington State Chapter

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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

2007

(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 www.stacybannerman.com)

(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)

2006


(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'


2005


(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


2004

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.
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mfso@mfso.org




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
mfso@mfso.org
.
You can call us at 617-522-9323
or Send us mail at:
MFSO
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@mfso.org.


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, 12 February 2006

Now Playing: Arthur Ruger
Topic: Members Speak Out
"I couldn't care less": overpass bannering, ownership and America's Restaurant 
 
On Kevin Benderman
Click here for Kevin and Monica Benderman's website
Kevin Benderman Timeline
 
Yesterday, at the "banner bridge" overpass on I-5 near Dupont, activists rallied in support of imprisoned soldier, Kevin Benderman who, according to The Olympian:

 


... was deployed to Iraq from March to September 2003. He filed for conscientious objector status in late 2004; his application was denied.

Conscientious objectors are morally opposed to war.

Benderman was to leave for Iraq again in January 2005, but he refused. He was charged with desertion and intentionally missing movement for not boarding the plane for Iraq when his unit left. He was found guilty of the second, lesser charge and sentenced last summer to 15 months in prison. He is serving that sentence at Fort Lewis.

The activists did not have banner bridge to themselves. Apparently there are others who believe that since they have utilized the overpass with frequency they own that particular overpass and it should not be "desecrated".

 


At least three people did not share those sentiments and came to the overpass to hold a counter-rally.

"It's a disgrace," Shelley Weber of Olympia said as she waved a large American flag. "I rally here every Saturday and, upon arrival, I see these people on the bridge. I decorated this bridge. I bought the yellow ribbons and flowers."

"This is the weekend our troops come in for drill. Their protest demoralizes our troops," added Terry Harder, whose 23- and 26-year-old sons are in the military. Harder is a member of Operation Support Our Troops.

 

Who defines patriotism?

Who owns it - or think they do?

Is authority to define and ownership of patriotism based on the psychology of fear, blind trust and the supposed code of shut-up-and-obey-the-commander-in-chief?

... or perhaps just plain civic laziness and deferral to TV clickers, sports, American idols, celebrity dancers and those lost in Lost, Survivor and Greys Anatomny?

That old 1960's Democratic Foreign Policy expert, J. William Fulbright, would disagree with Weber and Harder.

 

"In a democracy dissent is an act of faith. To criticize one's country is to do it a service ... Criticism, in short, is more than a right; it is an act of patriotism - a higher form of patriotism, I believe, that the familiar rituals and national adulation ... My question is whether America can overcome the fatal arrogance of power."

Yeah, but he was a Democrat in the Kerry generation of the 1960's. Fulbright would have very little credibility after Flush Limbaugh, Nose Pin O'Reilly, Squawk Hannity and Angregious Coulter got through with him. Right?

Well then, how about that old "dove", Teddy Roosevelt, whose doviness - in the best tradition of flag-waving, incident-creating and all around Dubya-like global big-stick swaggering - soiled his doviness when he personally  marched off to war?

 

"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

What would Mr. "Shut-up!" O-Reilly and all those who use "liberal" or "progressive" or "democrat" as mere name-calling tools say to that?

Or "Mr. Republican", Robert Taft of Ohio, and  the WW II era, just 12 days AFTER Pearl Harbor? All by himself Taft rebuts and repudiates Republican pretend patriotism in one short declaration:

 

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.

About Taft's words, Michael Tomasky of the American Prospect Online wrote:

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.

That's a wonderful cue for lazy patriots: folks who stubbornly accept BushCo lies and constant fear-mongering. These are folks willing to trade civil liberties and a fissuring of the foundation of the Constitution for the appearance of "safety".

"Safety"?

Political proponents who have never adequately proven the truthfulness of over 95% of what they've solemnly declared have yet to  prove the evidential basis of war-mongering, fear-mongering and curtailing of constitutional rights.

This circumstance is right out of the political manipulation guru's playbook - and not intended for public consumption.

One of the principal claimants to ownership of banner bridge was asked by an activist if she knows who Kevin Benderman is.

 


"I couldn't care less," Weber said, while another man added, "Kevin's where he belongs."

These then are the more irresponsible lazy citizen caretakers of American freedoms.

These then are those who blindly believe and trust that if they go to America's Restaurant and get a meal they can't eat, the fault does not lie with the chef who has never successfully boiled water.

Rather, it's the fault of other diners who know a  poor chef when they see one but are supposed to shut up about the cooking and let the chef poison them with a menu and fare unfit even for livestock.

These are those who believe that if the chef wears a plastic flag on his shirt, he has more than sufficient cooking skill to out-chef all those who question him.

Here's the real problem - the one that the Bush folks, Republican leadership and national Republican elected congressional leaders won't own up to:

Their way has failed. The choices and actions of those running the kitchen have not and are not working out. The food has only gotten worse.

There is in fact a better way but too many are unwilling to look for and take action on establishing a better way.

Others in the dining room and on the streets can do it better, more effectively and with a greater eye to everything that has worked before and finding better ways to make things work now.

The current cooking committee waited years to be in charge. They have blown it badly and in fact have made of America's Restaurant not only a place  that harms the locals but also a place with whom residents in other global communities will not do business (unless they're extorted into doing so).

The current cooking committee has a need for Americans to stay dumb, to go out on banner bridge and tell those banner-waving thinking Americans to shut the hell up.

If dumbed down Americans don't continue following Republican promptings, our fare at America's Restaurant might become geniune nourishment rather than fast-food jingo-ized poorly prepared salmonella.

As for those who "own" banner bridge ...

You ought to care more.

If Kevin Benderman is "where he belongs" it's because his being there is part of an effort to clean up the Constitutional Menu at America's Restaurant. It's an effort that might include firing the chef in order to stop the poisoning that *hurts our military troops far more than anyone will admit.

*You might not be aware of one particularly important issue and the poisoning of our troops, but the Washington Legislature is - and they're learning more: Depleted Uranium Bill in Ways and Means Committee

Published by Arthur Ruger on Washblog, and Daily Kos



Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Thursday, 2 February 2006

Now Playing: Joe Colgan in Seattle PI
Topic: Members Speak Out
The killing has got to stop

Seattle Post-Intelligencer 

Thursday, February 2, 2006
JOE COLGAN
GUEST COLUMNIST

I write as a veteran who has a special love for our troops and their families, and as the father of Lt. Benjamin Colgan, who was killed in action in Baghdad on Nov. 1, 2003. I also write on behalf of those who joined me in meeting with Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell last December about this senseless war in Iraq.

How many more Americans and Iraqis must perish or be maimed until the "stay-the-course" approach is discredited?

In October, Cantwell signed a letter stating "simply staying the current course is not a strategy for success." Yet when I met with Cantwell, she failed to distinguish her position from that of President Bush.

She also touted the importance of the Warner/Frist Amendment, which does nothing more than offer advice to the president and require that he report to Congress. After almost three years of unnecessary war, is this the best our highest deliberative body can do: make suggestions that will be ignored and beg to be kept informed? At this point in her re-election campaign, Cantwell must clarify her position on the Iraq war and hold public forums to discuss realistic options for ending this ever-deepening disaster.

It is time to acknowledge that the United States has now hit a dead-end on both the political and military fronts in Iraq, with current U.S. involvement in both areas only inflaming civil war. Last December's election in Iraq -- an event heralded as promising stability -- is itself undermined by the continuation of this occupation.

The United States is caught in the middle of a sectarian divide, and it will only get worse. Over the past five months, it has been widely reported that the United States has been trying to engage the Sunnis in political dialogue. Experts say that failing to do so can only deepen the insurgency. Yet showing Sunnis diplomatic respect inspires mistrust and anger from the rival Shiites.

Militarily, we've created the armed basis for a civil war. Iraqi armies in the north now consist of more than 10,000 Kurdish Peshmerga militia members who "wouldn't hesitate to kill their Iraqi army comrades," according to a Knight Ridder new story in December. In southern Iraq the army consists of pro-Iranian Shiite fundamentalists. We have created military forces that, as they increase in "operational readiness," actually add to the instability of Iraq. Yet we continue a policy that conditions U.S. military disengagement on such operational readiness.

More Iraqi civilians are dying as a result of U.S. military actions. U.S. air strikes in Iraq have jumped from 25 per month last August to around 150 in December. The results of this strategy are predictable and horrifying. On Jan. 2, as many as 14 Iraqis, mostly women and children, were killed in a U.S. air strike. On Dec. 24, 2005, The Washington Post reported that U.S. air strikes killed many dozens of civilians throughout Iraq's Western Anbar province during the November offensive. In a 2005 report, Human Rights Watch deplored the U.S. strategy of resorting to indiscriminate aerial strikes resulting in civilian deaths.

A "reduction" of U.S. troops during 2006, in concert with an increasing air war, is not morally defensible or a way out.

The city of Fallujah represents a microcosm of the larger nightmare. We destroyed this town in order to save it. More than half its residents remain as refugees in their own country, and Americans are again dying in Fallujah at an increasing rate (12 in the past two months). The Pentagon's policy of "clear, hold and build" in reality does nothing more than "destroy, banish and build resentment."

We must go beyond the administration's false choice of staying the course or cutting and running. 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. The only victory to be gleaned from this war is one for the American soul: Let's stop the killing.

Joe Colgan of Kent served in the Army from February 1963 to January 1966.

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST

Now Playing: Arthur Ruger at Washblog
Topic: Members Speak Out

Dang Fool Made Me Spill My Coffee

Lietta will have something to say about a friend of our, Joe Colgan, who wrote a great guest opinion The killing has got to stop published to the PI this morning.

But some guy named STEFF wrote the first comment to Joe's article and pissed me off. Now I've got to go to work mad.

Here's what I wrote in the PI:

 

I don't know who Steff is but the writing sure sounds like someone with a theory and not much real-time and real-place perspective.

Joe Colgan is a friend of mine and one who is writes from a place of knowing and feeling. He does not speak theoretically nor rant as Mr. Steff just did. Colgan is not alone.

What Joe Colgan has written has little to do with the Republican swagger, prance, and posture as the world-wide tough guy whom everyone owes obeisance and fear-driven respect. Such is not the American Core Value nor American Dream nor true American Patriotism.

Who has earned the right to speak about serious stuff with a veterans's wisdom? One group are those of my generation who've been there and done that. Twenty pages of rants from readers like Mr. Steff account for very little when contrasted with speaking from the knowing of experience and the wisdom of Veteran American heroes like Jack Murtha.

Our sons and daughters in the military serve honorably, deserve our highest respect and devotion. It should be recognized that the following are the conditions under which Americans expect their family blood to serve:

(1) The integrity and honor of the commander in chief of the military and that CIC's skill, wisdom and understanding of all reasons when and why military citizens are to be placed in harm's way.

Troops are at the mercy of that individual, his party and their combined priorities - with a strong expectation that those priorities extend beyond a desire to remain in the driver's seat.

(2)Our troops are also at the mercy of your own fellow citizens (including your own family) whom you trust to be willing and supportive in making sure the leadership does not waste your vital blood, devotion and patriotism in pipe dreams, self-interested agenda's and ideologies; That leaders are driven by a genuine desire to involve the country in on-going mutual participation and compromise regarding foreign policy before resorting to force as a last resort.

(3) Volunteering to become a soldier is volunteering to preserve and protect - with your own power and will - the country, its borders, its citizens and its institutions. It isn't volunteering to keep a political party in power. The only way to avoid that circumstance is for the citizens to assume their rightful role in the triangular relationship with the troops and the CIC.

The troops are expected to trust the CIC's wisdom as well as the patriotic participation of the Citizens who will keep the CIC honest.

The CIC is expected to trust the troops to follow orders and expects to sustain by honesty and integrity the support of the Citizens.

The Citizens expect the troops to do their duties and expect the CIC to sustain by honesty and integrity his political authority. The Citizens must be willing to hold the CIC accountable and willfully resist when the honesty and integrity of leadership is absent.

That is what is going on right now. The President has demonstrated his lack of what it means to serve or lead warriorsat a time when leadership is needed. The killing continues daily and folks like Steff talking like John Wayne in a junior high school locker room doesn't get it.


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Friday, 27 January 2006

Now Playing: Arthur Ruger
Topic: Members Speak Out

Republican War On Terror Logic Makes Sense for America?

Trust the Republicans driving this machine with one hand on the steering wheel and the other hanging out for lobby money; with one foot pressing metal to the floor and the other nowhere near the brakes.

Why?

Because America is at War!

American lives need to be lived in a wartime environment.

American citizens need to practice a total deferral to the self-defined patriotism of the elect.

American citizens absolutely must trust their future to those few at the top of the power pole who, by the way, have no combat experience but definitely know who is fit and unfit to lead a military venture based on experience.

Right.

 

Given the Cheney/Bush version of urgency and importance of the need for a coherent national security objective guided by wise, strong, stubborn and insensitive leadership, I must accept all this in another context.

(1)
We must fight the war on terror while remaining strictly stuck with the Republican Tax Cut Experiment which has not helped Mr. Bush avoid being a president who not only did not create one new job in 4 years, but will have a net job loss in excess of several million. We are then left to hope for the best but continue to expect the worst and that middle class taxes are going to continue paying for our prosecution of the war on terror.

(2)
We will prosecute the war on terror in a pay-off-the-national-debt circumstance created by this administration that will be an ongoing burden on our grandchildren. Trillions of dollars of debt generated by a Republican party that has always labeled Democrats as taxers and spenders is not something Leno and Maher can make jokes about.

(3)
We will prosecute the war on terror while Mr. Bush and gang are baiting us with the phrase "ownership society" which in reality is a switch to another means of generating - you guessed it - more profits for business. "Owning" health care, retirement, education and hours of wage-earning only happens when you "buy" something or "invest" in something to own.

(4)
We will prosecute the war on terror while an ungodly number of us go without access to adequate health care. That's one thing tens of millions of Americans could use ownership of.

Of course the rest of we middle classers do "own" always-increasing health care premiums. Somehow I fail to see how this helps the troops, keeps terrorists at bay, or will make it easier when we invade Iran in order to secure whatever the neocons think needs securing.

(5)
We will prosecute the war on terror in a context of profits for HMO's and Pharmaceuticals at the expense of fixed income retiree's and elderly citizens who may not live to see the victory that Mr. Bush said we wouldn't have and then flip-flopped to say, "Oh yes we will."

That Medicare D legislation is the most abject legislative failure seen in this country in I don't know how many years.

Why?

Because it was dominated by narrow Republican economic theory and corporate priorities, that's why.

(6)
We will prosecute the war on terror while the Republicans - under the guise of "ownership society"- preside over corporate reductions and/or eliminations of pension funds. Why is it that we must be patriotic and support the current commander-in-chief under this circumstance?

(7)
We will prosecute the war on terror while Bush postures as some kind of "education President" who, despite the compassionate self-label, has left children behind, imposed terrible burdens on public schools, and failed to provide the necessaries to make his compassionate promises come true.

(8)
We will prosecute the war on terror while George Bush, who pretends to BE the Christian Right, works hand in glove with the Christian Zionists to encourage Israel to widen it's borders in order to look like the Israel of prophesy so Jesus and his Armageddon Asteroid can End the Times and leave all of us more liberal-minded Christians Left Behind.

(9)
We will prosecute the war on terror with the neocon foreign policy dingbats fully embedded in the governance of every what-to-do next.

Our "war on terror" will camouflage an absolute conviction on the part of failed foreign policy theorists that American might is the brave new world of the future - that American might will facilitate our continued consumption of an inordinate share of energy reserves.

Why?

Because we can, that's why.

(10)
Under the neocons, we will prosecute an ongoing string of military adventures that will continue to cost the precious blood of our children based on intellectual immaturity in which necons ignorantly and naively assume that the poor and middle class of this country constitute a willing and unlimited supply of military manpower for decades to come.

These things are what the Republicans did not and will not tell you. They want to prosecute the war on terrorism and do it in terms of maintaining their own discredited and - when it comes to corporate welfare - dishonest domestic economic theories.

It does not matter what you and I think so long as they are in power.

Only you and I can take this out of their hands. They are not going to maintain the current foreign policy while changing economic approaches.

They want both to remain unchanged.

They will not change things unless we intervene.

So all you self-styled economic sophisticates who have bought into Republican capitalism worship and cannot see that many corporations in this country are only showing profits primarily through government intervention and bail-outs - you go ahead and reveal just how poorly you understand the less-government-more-free-enterprise ticket.

Grover Norquist may someday buy you a latte from Starbucks after the government becomes so small it goes down the bathtub drain.

Of course you may be standing behind the Starbucks counter brewing and serving the latte yourself.

Grover won't mind. He's smarter than you in a really dumb way.

So all you righteous Christians who see George Bush as led by God to export war and death to all evil-doers as we impose a neocon Pax Americana on the world go ahead and look the other way while your narrow morality authorizes a trashing of the American Dream.

Just don't tell me that Jesus would vote the same way, would advocate for George Bush on FOX , Limbaugh's program - even the 700 Club - and would go along with the deaths of civilian men, women and children in Iraq or anywhere else as "acceptable collateral damage."

You still haven't done your homework and the holes in your civic wisdom remain vast and empty.


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Wednesday, 18 January 2006

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger
Topic: Online Activism
INTERNET IMPACT
 
 Northwest Progressive Institute and Pacific Northwest Portal Conference.   This weekend past Arthur and I were invited to attend this first time ever conference in Olympia at State Capitol buildings. 
 
This was well, what else to call it but a blogger's conference meeting with our state elected officials, their aides and staffers, some local mainstream media, and of course the networking of bloggers that makes up Pacific Northwest Portal (Arthur and I have  separate blogs carried at the Portal, recently Arthur has been invited to be a feature blogwriter at one of those featured blogs = Washblog).
 
This event was sponsored by 4 other significant Washington organizations, including labor SEIU (Service Employees International Union), Institute for Washington's Future,    Progressive Majority....they seem to believe that regional bloggers have some impact worthy enough of sponsoring this kind of conference and connecting bloggers with elected officials to affect change in the political process and system.  
 
Andrew Villanueve, who at age 15 publicly challenged initiative guru Tim Eyeman spearheaded this whole conference. Now pushing 20 (but not there yet) Andrew is the founder of the Northwest Progressive Institute and creating strong progressive waves in the Washington State political scene. He is in example of what happens when determination meets with motivation. 
 
I was seriously impressed by the number of young people involved in the conference and that have engaged in the political process. 
 
We know MFSO is non-political, non-partisan, and when I am representing MFSO, I represent MFSO with the core message and in the non-partisan position. 
 
At the conference this past weekend we were introduced and recognized by our colleagues as MFSO bloggers. This afforded an opportunity to represent MFSO at a politically based venue. Although partisan to be sure, our focus remained on what has always been primaryh ... getting the troops home and out of Iraq, and that message goes out to either and all sides of the political venues.  

Why this is relevant is because I am learning that cross-networking has significant relevance to the work we do and message we bring under the MFSO umbrella.  
 
I find repeat names amongst the different networking, for example, Dina Lydia, who helped with flyers and website reporting on the Jan 7 Seattle event that featured our 2 MFSO Speakers;  a blogger Cool Aqua at Pacific Northwest Portal also reported on the event giving attention to Military Families Speak Out.  
 
Northwest Progressive Institute as well as Backbone Campaign gave online attention to Arthur and I when I went down to Crawford, Texas. 
 
 Majority Visibility Project and Stand Up Seattle have been supporters of our MFSO efforts in Pacific NW.  
 
The Seattle area SNOW coalition (Sound Non-Violence Opponents of the War) have been helpful supporters and many members of those coalitions cross over to other groups that support MFSO.    Nina Laboy, Associate Regional Director of Seatlle AFSC has been a strong supporter and helpful in many of our MFSO efforts, recently providing us with a place to hold one of our rare in person meetings. 
 
Recently we have new MFSO member in  Liz Rivera Goldstein, Liz@teenpeace.org  who has her own non-profit organization, Teen Peace Conscientious Objector  working with teens who do 'informed recruiting' testimony to other teens across cities and towns in Washington state.  As well Liz is on an advisory board of United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ).  
 
Another of our MFSO members in Eastern part of the state, Tricia Turner, is on National Board of Directors of  Veterans and Military Families for Progress cougsrule@msn.com (Tricia can you provide website link?). 
 
Actually I learned of VMFP thru another networking contact, Brian Moran,  with featured blog Washblog at Pacific NW Portal. 

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Sunday, 15 January 2006

Now Playing: Arthur Ruger at Washblog
Topic: Members Speak Out

Swift Bloat Chicken Hawks Against Murtha

This is an updated opinion of something I wrote during last year's election.- AR

Who has earned the right to speak about serious stuff with a veterans's wisdom?

I'm an old veteran with no hair, high blood pressure and military memories going back to the early 1970's when Jane Fonda was a swear word and my cousin somehow got into the National Guard and I didn't.

Had I waited another six months before enlisting, the new draft lottery which placed my birthday at the 350+ level would have meant that I, like Mr. Cheney, could have pursued my "other priorities."

Somewhere downstairs I've got an old hard-cardboard Schlitz beer-box with enough military records in it to prove I went and to prove I did.

There's a bunch of ribbons there that I didn't toss over any walls in protest but are in a glass jar where sometime I'll go down and look at them.

There's an air-medal (and maybe a cluster) that are still in their containers.

There's little sterling silver wings that my commander told me I could wear even when not on flying status after completing ten combat missions.

They're all down there to prove I went and did.

 

When I was studying Russian at Syracuse University, Woodstock happened less than 100 miles away.

I wasn't about to drive over and see that. I was too mad at Jane Fonda - mad about her movie Barbarella which had offended my youthful moral view of the world. And I was incensed by her Hanoi affair.

I don't remember hearing anything about John Kerry back then and his post-Viet Nam role against the war. I recently watched a Dick Cavett show where Kerry debated another vet and can assure you that at that time I would have voted Kerry into the brig for what he was saying and doing.

Funny how time changes perspectives.

My yuppie kids are outraged that in 1969 I willfully  refused to go to Woodstock.

I agree with them.

What was I thinking?

Was my patriotism so shallow that rain, mud, outlandish music, naked women and pot smoke could rock my foundation as a true American?

I'm embarrassed about what I thought was important when I was 22 and what I did and didn't do about it.

Yet, here I am today, a middle-aged repository of all my experience which is the only source of wisdom I have to offer my kids and grandkids.

I sure as heck am not going to teach my kids that military veterans are long on judgment and condemnation and short on wisdom.

No, I'm not retired from the military. I got out after 6 years and later served 2 more in the reserve.

30 years later, I'm still aware of a sense of difference between the civilian and military world where you have got to trust somebody before you follow them.

In 1968 I was so mad at LBJ, I voted for Nixon so I guess that made me a Republican.

In 72 I thought McGovern was a peacenik and I was a war-nik so I gave RMN another vote.

In 76 I was genuinely offended at Nixon - and Ford for pardoning him - so I voted for Carter.

In 1980 when Reagan asked "Are you better off now...." he got my vote.

In 1984 he looked tougher than Mondale so I voted for RR again.

By 1988 though, I didn't trust Bush the First so I went into my vote-for-the-outsider mode and voted for Dukakis.

1992 and I'm mad at Bush Sr. who seemed to think looking like Patton would fix the economy and voted for Bill with the following little sentence in sotto voce: "Ok you SOB, you'd better not blow it."

By 1996 I began to suspect I was more of a liberal than a conservative and just couldn't bring myself to vote for Dole.

So there I am, trying to vote the man instead of the party, flip-flopping and waffling with the best of them.

By 2000 I realized that my veteran's instincts were alive and well and I saw only form without substance in Dubya. Besides, an old NBA fan like me thought Bill Bradley was the smartest guy for president and I was disappointed that he didn't get nominated.

I voted for Gore, the veteran.

So let's get real out there! Being so offended at what Kerry said and did in 1971 that you voted for George more out of spite than wisdom is not a prideful attribute.

If you think there is more international wisdom and military craftsmanship from a gang that truly cannot shoot straight, has not shot straight and  literally did not serve - has not been there nor done that - then by all means betray what you think you stand for.

Speak out and reveal your belief that splashing around in shallow water is better than learning to swim and navigate in something deeper where there's much more substance to everything.

Go ahead and pretend that Repuglican political fools - presenting to us a bushwhacking war president who is bluffing - have really convinced you that Bush knows more about the military than Jack Murtha;

That Mr. Bush as a run-and-hide Texas Champaign Guardsman is truly a wiser military-veteran grown-up than Jack Murtha;

Be sure to watch a lot of Fox TV (chicken hawk heaven) and pay attention when William Kristol of PNAC fame makes a guest appearance there and talks like winning games of RISK make him a strategic wunderkind;

who said last year that Ted Koppel shouldn't have said out loud on Nightline the names of our fellow warriors who didn't make it.

And by all means, go to Kristol's pride and joy site  The Project for the New American Century.

There you'll find an ivory-looking tower made of fragile glass full of intellectual hubris. It's a place where political power theories look like they came out of a perusal of Cliff Notes and where - like in RISK - military troops are nothing more than little colored blocks of wood that are casually swept off the board with each roll of the dice.

That's the alternative to using your own common sense.

Jack Murtha is much closer to the reality in which I live and the memory trove from where my own supposed wisdom comes.

I trust Jack.


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Saturday, 14 January 2006

Now Playing: Arthur Ruger at Washblog
Topic: Members Speak Out

Courage in many forms.

I have a site-building image I install on my sites  from time to time that says simply, SPEAK UP EVEN IF YOUR VOICE SHAKES.

Speaking out and speaking up is the courageous act and duty of citizens.

Here's an example - from a special blogger from a special group of American Citizens:

Thanks to Thomas Barton and GI Special

The writer identifies himself as "Soldier X" and in writing to "SPC Y" (who is questioning his own role as a soldier).

"X" first talks about entry into the military and subsequent assignment from Kosovo to the Middle East. Following that, we read a chronicle of his introspection; the evolution of awareness of his own role as a citizen soldier and - ultimately - the start-up of his own efforts to speak out.

 

For "X", What started as letters sent to friends and forwarded to venues like Barton's GI Special, eventually led to these GI's' creation of a blog entitled Fight to Survive with - as "X" explained, other between-the-lines meanings in that title.

Exerpts

I joined the Army a month before Sept. 11th to get out of the dead end rut I managed into back in Colorado.

My father was a Vietnam Vet who, after retiring from 20 long years as an engineer, died from cancer that was cause by Agent Orange exposure in Nam. Joining the service is something I vowed never to do. But, I was a high school drop out going into his mid twenties and I started to panic that the doorway of opportunities was snapping shut.

...I was deployed in Kosovo when the war kicked off in Iraq. Actually I was on leave from Kosovo headed home for two weeks of R&R. I was on lay over at Dallas/Ft.Worth airport as Bush's 48 hour threat for Saddam's surrender ran out and Bradleys started crossing the line.

As I watched Baghdad exploding on TV the people all around me were on their feet cheering like the Cowboys just won the super bowl.

I sunk in my chair. I wished I could rip my BDUs off. I felt sick.

I had a gut feeling things were a bit foul. And, as the war continued on during those two weeks, I gathered a good deal of literature on the subject of war and peace and the middle-east. I filled a duffel bag full of books and when I returned to Kosovo I began to educate myself on American policy and why other countries might hate us.

I started to see America from the outside in. Have you ever seen a home movie of yourself and realized how ridiculous you acted, looked or sounded? That was my new perception of America. I was embarrassed and humbled. But, I also realized that I was what I was. I had a responsibility to change what I could.

...The writings helped in many ways.

First it was a coping mechanism to deal with the rage and emotions I felt about the war. It just felt good to rant.

Second it provided me a way that I felt my taking part in the war could be justified.

Like, if I was a witness for many people in the real world than there was one good reason to be there.

Third it gave me a connection to the outside world and that was what may have kept me sane in the end.

Few of us are in a position to know precisely what would happen could a survey be taken among the troops with an expectation of honest and open responses as to true feelings about Iraq.

A significant portion of our military citizens are - almost by definition - what I would call in a respectful way "institutional patriots" whose duty is in many ways a formalized and constant version of what the rest of us would do only if enemy boots hit the ground in the United States.  

You can hear, in their proud recitations of the good things being done in Iraq and individual relationships between Iraquis and themselves, the pride of ownership of their own American citizenship.

Yet citizen opinion within the enlisted ranks remains highly varied. Although the risk of suppression, ostracism, alienation or out and out retribution is there for speaking out against the President and/or the government, there are those soldiers whose courage not only helps drive their Humvee's but their voices as well.


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Wednesday, 11 January 2006

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger
Topic: Members Speak Out

I'm an Honest Critic Mr President!

Well so the Commander-in-Chief has made a public statement on how to conduct the debate on Iraq war.  excerpt quote...

"Americans know the difference "between honest critics" and those "who claim that we acted in Iraq because of oil, or because of Israel, or because we misled the American people."

  Me, I'm a military family with 2 Iraq veterans who served an extended tour in Iraq. I was also raised a military brat.  I was young wife to a young husband, drafted and sent to Vietnam while I was pregnant with our first child.  I think I qualify as  an 'honest critic'.

 I've been pushing the public debate on Iraq war for almost 3 yrs.  Well it's definitely in the 'public' again (Cindy Sheehan movement put it back in the public dialogue).  That made for some amazing progress since the past 12 months there seemed to be little to no serious public dialogue on Iraq war.  Now that the distinquished Congressman Jack Murtha with his 30 yrs in Congress and his decorated military career as a Marine has weighed in, the public debate has moved into Congress.

 Looks like the heat is on and the President is hard at work trying to 'frame' what that is going to look like and who will be labelled an 'honest critic'.  Well I don't think it gets any more honest than Murtha...the man speaks my language.

 So for our elected officials, including our Washington Senators and Representatives, maybe now you can step up to the plate and become 'honest critics' of the Iraq war...speak Murtha's language or speak the  President's language as he once again uses the troops as a sheild to his own cowardice. 

Published by Lietta Ruger in Washblog 

 

 


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Wednesday, 16 November 2005

Now Playing: Arthur Ruger
Topic: Members Speak Out
 Perceived as diminishing the value of a soldier's life

If parents with children in Iraq support the war more than the general population it's because they have skin in the game, as do we. We are not yet qualified to be members of Cindy's Gold Star Families, nor do we ever want to qualify. It takes the loss of a family member to qualify.

I think that when a parent loses a child to war or a spouse loses a mate, or someone loses a sibling the immediate and often most enduring reaction in addition to the shocked grieving is an anger that will express itself either at the reason for the loss or any suggestion that the loss was not justified.

Long before Mrs. Sheehan we've seen nationally instances of grieving mothers and fathers driven to confront BushCO at their conventions, speaking engagements and directly to the White House. The typifying example is the mom in Fahrenheit 9/11 who started out so proud of her family's military heritage and ended in horrible agony outside the White House.

The poorest method for how NOT to deal with a relative's grief -with one exception in this year's State of the Union Address - has been repeatedly modeled by the President, his administration and politcal advisors. This both in terms of relatives angry at Bush as well as relatives in support.

However, to be fair, every relative whose soldier pays the ultimate price for our country deserves exactly the same kind of acknowledgment and consolation - something impossible to achieve and something Bushco knows it should have been doing in some form from the start.

We've also seen what happens when that anger is aimed at anything that questions the value of a soldier's death in war. Outspoken grieving realtives seem to subconsiously ache to tell SOMEBODY to shut the f*** up, to give SOMEBODY their comeuppance and to make SOMEBODY account for the loss. In a context of compassion these not only are best left alone and given individual respect, regard and space for their circumstance of agony. They are too locked into an outrage that needs focus in some specific direction.

But the context of death and loss of course is not normal and when those bereaved speak out indict a president his supporters are wont to scream "foul" regardless of the fact that grieving relatives have no political mandate to keep quiet. Nor should they.

Angry relatives have the right of free expression which corresponds with our own. From our point of view we work to avoid the same kind of agony for any other soldier's families, avoid needless loss of life, that - as we see it - does not happen for a just and noble reason.

Which puts us immediately at risk of being perceived as diminishing the value of a soldier's life. It is an issue of semantics and context, academic concepts that are useful but pale in comparison with the emotion and passion of family love, unity and sense of patriotic community with all citizens of the nation.

Yet, getting a verbal handle on the actuality of the war, of death and destruction and of the reasons for it are at the heart of the matter. At this time the flamingng passion of those opposing is on the rise and BushCo seems to have only gasoline to pour on it.


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Saturday, 22 October 2005

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger
Topic: Members Speak Out
Dying to Preserve the Lies [blog]

 

by Lietta Ruger 

I Can’t Bear Another Vigil; 2,000 Killed and Still Counting.. 

There will be vigils across the nation this week commemorating Dept of Defense report of 2,000 US soldiers killed in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Plans are underway amongst peace and activist groups to stage vigils in local communities across the nation when that fatal number is published. Already I’ve received media phone calls about these upcoming events as it seems media also wants to mark the tragic occasion. They phone me as a member family representing Military Families Speak Out. Will I be participating one wants to know; another wants to know if I can refer names of other military family members who are willing to speak in media, specifically, who’s loved one has been killed.


A gruesome time; gruesome media requests. A morbid reason to even have to think about planning or participating in another memoriam vigil. Since August 2005 through September 22, 2005 I have participated in vigil after vigil at the Camp Casey that sprung up in Crawford, Texas and again for nearly 4 weeks on the Bring Them Home Now Tour, central route from Crawford to DC. In DC, I was one among approximately 300,000 to 600,000 who participated in the 3 mile march to the White House.

I was in the contingent representing Military Families Speak Out, which was one of four contingents comprising a collective military community voice calling to bring our troops home. With the young Iraq Veterans Against The War; the seasoned veterans of Veterans for Peace, and the families who have had loved one killed, Gold Star Families for Peace, we stood together in front of the White House in commonality and purpose. Never mind whatever else was reported about that rally and march; our four contingents knew why we were there and what our collective represented…the experience of being in military or connected to military by the fact of our deployed loved ones. Our voice is a valid voice and cannot be dismissed away as it is representative of our collective authentic experience and truth. It is an essential part of the dialogue. While it is not in itself a singular truth, it is indeed another perspective of the authenticity of truthful experience regarding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In that light, no matter the perceptions and opinions, our’s is a critical part of the ongoing dialogue.

 

When I came home, it was a transition from high energy, high profile daily activities, morning to night; in sharing the message with a wider American public to the quiet of the life I share with my family in our quaint little fishing village on the bay. And yet amongst the communities in our state there are new military family voices coming forward to share their truth. Vigils continue amongst our state communities, and last weekend an Arlington Northwest Memorial was staged on our state capitol grounds. Last weekend the number of killed was in the neighborhood of 1977 . Crosses numbering 1970 had been crafted and were erected to honor the fallen. There was no political message whatsoever except the tradition of veterans to honor veterans, living and dead. I could not make myself attend; chiding myself for not attending and knowing my heart could not take another field of so many crosses.

 

I write this on a Saturday knowing in a matter of a few days, maybe even sooner, there will be memorial vigils in communities across the nation to mark the passing of now 2,000 of our fallen troops. I cannot make myself participate. In one short week, from the 1970 erected crosses to the need now for 2,000 crosses only a week later to mark the immediately coming number of killed.

 

But I don’t carry the burden of the war on my shoulders alone, and perhaps it is timely that my individual participation is less needed as more and more Americans see the need to take up the burden on their own backs. People who aren’t typically from peace and activist movements step forth to share their personal truths. People who have never before given opinion in public venues now see a need to lend their voice and actions. People talk now of being less content to be about the busy-ness of daily life are trying to make adjustments to free up time to give in lending voice and action. People talk of being weary of trying to be in denial about what they see with their own eyes and hear with their own ears.

 

Isn’t that the desired outcome in calling attention to our troops and their families who carry the burden of the wars every day without relent? To call out to Americans to lend their own voices and actions to relieving the troops and their families from carrying the weight of the war ensnarled now in an undefined mission with no clarity of purpose or outcome? I excuse my temporary lapse into my own human-ness as I forgive myself for being unable or unwilling to participate in yet another vigil and memoriam to commemorate the loss of 2,000 of our troops. As Americans across our country now pick up their own civilian duty and carry it forward to challenge not only the basis of the initiated wars, but to challenge the mission and duration, I take some comfort that my own work in this endeavor has been the contribution of one military family in a collective of voices coming from military families.

 

As each of you who are reading go about the business of your daily lives, what will you do this week to commemorate the marking of 2,000 loved ones killed in the wars? What will you do different tomorrow than you did today to contribute your own voice and action? As it goes without saying that this number doesn’t begin to measure the rest of the human cost of war. It doesn’t take into account the number wounded, without limbs, disfigured, paralyzed, mentally destroyed, nor the unreported carnages to the people who try to live their lives in Iraq. They too are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, who carry a burden daily of living life in midst of war.

What is the measure for when enough is enough?

by Lietta Ruger, Oct 22, 2005


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT

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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