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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into our 3rd year of speaking out
13 Oct, 08 > 19 Oct, 08
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16 Jul, 07 > 22 Jul, 07
2 Jul, 07 > 8 Jul, 07
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26 Mar, 07 > 1 Apr, 07
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5 Mar, 07 > 11 Mar, 07
26 Feb, 07 > 4 Mar, 07
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5 Feb, 07 > 11 Feb, 07
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8 Jan, 07 > 14 Jan, 07
1 Jan, 07 > 7 Jan, 07
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Saturday, 1 July 2006

Now Playing: Arthur Ruger
Topic: Lt. Ehren Watada

I'd Like Your Blessing, Dad.

My generation is one in which there are still many living veterans. Furthermore, from our generation primarily come the children who make up the current blood and guts of America's military with its duty of defending the American Constitution, Country and Citizens.

If our children - or their children - come to us when considering enlistment or a commission, asking our reaction or even our blessing for their willingness to sign the bottom line, are we ready to speak honestly with them?  

Have the things we've taught them about citizenship and patriotism come back to gratify us?

... or haunt us?

Just what have we tried to instill in them  in terms of a civic and patriotic sense? What did we teach and model for them when they were young?

... we who were part of a generation of soldiers betrayed by a government we all wanted desperately to trust?

 

The letter from college arrives.

 

"Dear Dad .......

Dad, I'm signing on and I'd like your blessing and advice.

I'm not having too many doubts about signing on Dad. Not too many questions - but I want your support and endorsement. You've never talked much about your service and I need to know what's in your mind before I leave."

Very well then ....

Dear daughter,

As you know, you do not come from a family of warriors.

Your Grandfather was drafted.  

Your uncle and I joined up in the 1960's because it was that or the draft. Our national leadership had failed us badly because of their misguided and exaggerated fear of communist enemies;

Of foes who had never proven themselves capable of toppling continents nation-by-nation,  domino-like, let alone conquering the world based on military or economic power.

As a result of those years, the extremely poor choices made by politicians we trusted and elected left us with a powerful legacy not previously seen so powerfully in this country ... acceptance of dissent as a patriotic act.

To this day, that concept has not been refuted. More so, this current government has tragically demonstrated again just why it is vital that citizens hold government accountable.

Viet Nam legitimized a permanent change in civic thinking. That's why a large segment of today's society sustained by legitimate baby-boomer wisdom remains willing to question the motives and speak out against the administration ... and with greater empowerment to resist being isolated and marginalized by pseudo-patriotic politics. Our perspective is much more legitimate than it was in the 60's and 70's. We as citizens are duty bound to take and hold the ethical and moral high ground in this country rather than trust broadcast blowhards and pretend political genuises.

The party officials, cheerleading TV networks and pundit blowhards don't have a monopoly on patriotism, daughter. Those are - every one of them - the least qualified to tell you or me what it means to be patriotic. They are the cut-and-run actors from my generation who have never served and have never justifiably spoken for the troops and veterans in today's world.

You are going to join an all-volunteer military force that has the same commission given the military services during World War II. The big difference today is that the bulk of the troops back then were drafted. Your choice is voluntary - signing a contract offered by the Pentagon.

When you sign, remember that we who are not military members make up - along with you - the citizenship that expects you to honor that contract you endorse.

Citizens of this country expect total fealty from you which means loyalty to the United States, to the Constitution, and to the Flag.  Citizens of this country expect the same from our elected leadership. They all owe us that same fealty, loyalty to the United States, to the Constitution and to the Flag.

Citizens also expect of our soldiers the highest honesty, integrity and honorable behavior of which they are capable. Military behavior that is dishonest, lacks integrity and dishonors troops, citizens and country is a betrayal of all that America has traditionally stood for.

The same is absolutely true and equally vital of our elected and appointed leaders.

Citizens do not expect that our fully trained and capable military members are so brainwashed to fight and kill that they have transitioned to a place of shame. While desiring that our military children develop instinctive and effective military and combat skills, we do not expect our children to be turned into mindless killing machines devoid of conscience or the ability to make a moral choice.

Arguments insisting that combat training must teach instinctive hate, bigotry, racial profiling and cultural inferiority in order to create armies and soldiers capable of efficient killing and destruction of enemies are not legitimate reasons for why we fight.

Nor do they hold out a possibly for what we hope the end result of a national military objective will look like.

Citizens want and expect that our troops are warriors of honor who instinctively act and react with exceptional valor;

...Warriors who reflect national ethics, a positive national morality, compassion and respect.

If those things are lacking in the leadership, a way to intervene before a corrupt leadership can poison the military is vital.

The nation cannot abide armies of failed or corrupted warriors.

If those values are lacking in the country, it is the citizens who have failed the military.

Military service is and should always be thought of as an honorable profession where men and women serve with honor;  

... are treated with honor by a grateful nation.

If you are joining the military, I expect you to have a career of honor.

I fear for you but will keep those fears managed in my own heart.

It is your life, not mine, and I do not pretend to dictate your choices.

Nor is it a life that belongs specifically to a General, a Secretary of Defense, a President or a Political Party.

You are not to be a tool of helping a party focus national priorities in such a way as to win elections.

There is no military  code of silence or submissive loyalty to the Commander-in-Chief that requires that you do not seriously consider the legality and morality of orders given you regardless of their source.

I of course hope that your own sense of civic and moral integrity is honed sufficiently strong as to allow you to perceive almost instantaneously whether or not an order is illegal.

But if you need time and have time, then I expect you to take that time and make up your own mind. Whatever decision you make - if informed by your own study, searching and wisdom - is all anyone can ask of you.

Blind obedience in a combat moment is not the same as blind obedience when you are not in a combat moment. Rather in a moment of moral or ethical questioning when a different kind of instinct takes over, if you have a strong sense of ethics and honor, you will not be helplessly tempted to shame yourself, your unit, or your country.

You have a right to expect and function under the integrity and honor of the commander in chief of the military.

You have a right to expect and demand the Commander In Chief's honesty, honor, skill, wisdom and understanding of all reasons when and why military citizens are to be placed in harm's way.

I in turn have a right to expect that you pay attention - for me, for your family and for your country - to whether or not your Commander in Chief is being honest, honorable and legal.

The Commander-in-chief is hardly going to order me to do something illegal or immoral. If he gives an illegal or immoral order there's a greater risk he will give it to you whom he might see as bound to obey blindly and without question.

So your father, your family and your country are at the mercy of your ability to discern and act on that discernment.

You are then left at the mercy of your father's, your family's and your country's ability to discern the acts of our President, to hold him accountable and take action - if necessary - to make sure he is accountable.

You must trust me 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.

In closing, my adult child, I express my pride in you and your willingness to act on your desires only after you've given them serious thought and consideration.

I accept and endorse your decision as I trust it is your own.

You do your part and serve.

I'll do my part and cover your back.

Anyone inside or outside this government who wants to criticize, harm or otherwise betray you will have to deal directly with me.

I promise.

Love,

Dad

Cross posted to D Kos


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Monday, 26 June 2006

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger at Washblog
Topic: Local Lobbying

'Operation House Call' and Meeting w Sen. Murray - topic - what else - Iraq occupation

 In Seattle, WA, you might say we're making a 'house call' on Senator Murray.  You may remember we have already made three separate 'house call's' on Sen. Cantwell. A meeting has been scheduled to meet with Senator Murray, Wed., June 28, 2006. Actually the meeting will be with her Dir. of Special Projects, Ardis Dumett. Veterans, military families, faith community,student activists and concerned citizens have scheduled meeting to discuss strategy for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.  

I'm invited to the meeting in Seattle representing Military Families Speak Out, and cannot make that time and date. As you may know, I'm fairly busy, along with thousands of others, in support actions for Lt. Ehren Watada right now.  But I sent an advance statement (below the fold) for consideration at the meeting.  

Meanwhile, over in the other Washington - DC, while our Senators and Representatives are in DC on Tues/Wed/Thurs --





Stacy Bannerman, from Kent, WA, is in Washington DC  for summer-long 'Operation House Call'. Stacy at right, wearing cap

Military Families Speak Out  has mobilized 'Operation House Call' a visual display summer- long campaign to highlight the damage caused by the Iraq War. See press conference on C-Span . While we make 'house calls' on our Senators at home in WA state, Stacy Bannerman , of our MFSO - Washington state chapter will be making 'House Calls' on our U.S. Senators and Representatives in DC. She plans to remain in DC through the summer, and I'm sure she'll be making a House Call on both Sen. Murray and Sen. Cantwell, along with the other Senators and Representatives hard at work in DC. Daily Blog from Operation House Call - read it here .

 (You're welcome to borrow the postcard image and send your own postcards daily to both Sen. Murray and Sen. Cantwell's offices ... make your own 'House Call'.)

My statement for consideration this Wednesday meeting with Sen. Murray's Director of Special Projects, Ardis Dummett.


Dear All,

  I'm unable to attend, wishing you all well with Wednesday meeting with Senator Murray's Director of Special Projects, Ardis Durnett.  If I were to have a  presence as a military family with 2 returning Iraq veterans in our family; both from Washington state; it would be in advocacy to remove our troops who have decidedly become the targets in the insurgency in the U.S. occupation of Iraq.   Further I would point to Lt. Ehren Watada, a U.S. Army officer, at Fort Lewis who has refused what he has, as an Officer, discerned to be an ' illegal' order to deploy to Iraq.  He is currently confined at Fort Lewis, aware of the potential consequences of his decision and action.  I and many military families view it as a courageous act on the part of Lt. Watada.

   I would point out the recent situation described in the Washington Post of a 'fragging' in Iraq with a U.S. Sgt killing two of his officers, June 7, 2006.  I would point to the recent reports of the horrific manner in which two of our U.S. soldiers were killed with their bodies desecrated in a most public message.  I would point to the recent reports of seven marines and one sailor who will be charged by the military with 'murder' for the killing of Iraqi citizen.  I would point to Sgt Kevin Benderman, a returning Iraq veteran, who is now serving a prison term at Fort Lewis as a result of his actions to file as Conscientious Objector After serving in Iraq, and  charged with missing movement. I would suggest there are additional anecdotal instances of our troops and  now Officers who are registering opposition to participation in Iraq occupation in the few venues available to them.

  For that reason, I would point to the continuing need for Military Families Speak Out with a national membership of 3,000 military families across the nation to speak out in advocacy of the need for our elected officials to serve the public with the same kind of honor, dignity and ideals we absolutely and unequivocably expect from our military - from our young 19 and 20 something year old service men and women.  I would urge Senator Murray to stand in support to bring our troops home now and to take care of them when they get home.  It is fully understood that use of the word now in bring them home now does not mean tomorrow, rather the time it takes to mobilize a redeployment of our troops.  I would further suggest that the amount of time it took to mobilize our troops to invade Iraq would be about the same amount of time it might take to redeploy our troops out of Iraq.

  I would point out that since March, 2003, on average, over two service men and women have died each day as a result of the war in Iraq; that fatality rate continues in June, 2006. Discussions in Congress about the war in Iraq and exit strategies include many proposals for bringing troops home after the mid-term election in November, 2006. If Congress waits until November to act, it is likely that 350 or more U.S. servicemen and women will die along with countless Iraqi children, women and men.

    Additionally, now with the new Iraq democracy in place, with newly elected Iraq officials as result of  military actions in Iraq, it would appear that the continually changing identified missions  assigned our troops has been accomplished.  As the newly elected Iraqi Prime Minister has indicated a preference for withdrawal of U.S. troops, I would urge our country and our elected officials to heed such request.   Therefore, I respectfully request that Senator Patty Murray, who in courage did not vote for war in Iraq, go yet a step further in courage and stand in support of bringing our troops home - now.

Respectfully,

Lietta Ruger

Lietta Ruger,  chapter coordinator
Military Families Speak Out - Washington state chapter
military family with 2 returning Iraq veterans,
PO Box 335
Bay Center, WA  98527

visit website of national Military Families Speak Out


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Saturday, 24 June 2006

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

and the Republicans want us to stay that course?

The party of CEO McGavick and RNC marionettes Reichert, McMorris, Hastings and their fellow robots truly consider us citizens the dumbest segment of society.

Led nationally this week by Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), who trails his Democratic challenger in Pennsylvania by 18 points, the desparate national party of CEO McGavick and Rubber Stamp Reichert is all gaga over the discovery that there WERE weapons of mass destruction after all.

Republicans distorting this pretended newly discovered fact intend that we then conclude that  Bush's big  lie wasn't a lie after all ...

that 2500+ troop deaths and the murder of innocent Iraqi citizens is not the fault of Republican arm-chair warriors.

You can read Santorum's self-serving grandstand posture as a modern Paul Revere at his Senate Site and lose your breath in the heroic vindicating quality of his announcement.

Donald Rumsfeld, another armchair warrior under fire joins in with his own boy-am-I-relieved-now declaration: link to WAPO, Early Warning by William Arkin

The report says in part:

-- "Since 2003 Coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 weapons munitions which contain degraded mustard or sarin nerve agent.

-- Despite many efforts to locate and destroy Iraq's pre-Gulf War chemical munitions, filled and unfilled pre-Gulf War chemical munitions are assessed to still exist."

And Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld evidently agrees.  

Yesterday, he told reporters that he was concerned "if they got into the wrong hands" because "they are weapons of mass destruction."

Well, yes they ARE weapons of mass destruction the same way a kiwi and a watermelon are both considered fruit.

 

More importantly, these anxious-for-exoneration Republicans have again re-established that the original Republican lie about Weapons of Mass Destruction was the first reason for invading and occupying Iraq.

... even if among these newly-revealed 500 whatevers that were in existence prior to the first Gulf War there isn't anything that could have come close to that dreaded "mushroom cloud" - the anxiety image that prompted dumbed down Americans to not oppose the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Arkin continues:

But the current dust-up over an intelligence memo indicating that U.S. forces have recovered about 500 old chemical munitions does prove one thing: When it comes to weapons of mass destruction, we are unable to differentiate and unable to have a rational debate.  The term WMD has also become so expansive as to become meaningless.

...The problem is that Santorum, Rumsfeld, President Bush, Cheney, and most Washington wonks love to say "weapons of mass destruction" They don't differentiate between, say, Russian intercontinental missiles with multiple nuclear warheads and 20-year-old Iraqi chemical shells.

The threshold for labeling something WMD in this world is low, if it exists at all. Many of the "chemical munitions" found in Iraq were even "unfilled" shells. That is, they had never been filled with chemical agent, according to the summary.  But, as Rumsfeld says, "they are weapons of mass destruction."

Such antics of course are part of the national and state Republican pretended wisdom of why we are occupying Iraq,

why our sons and daughters are fighting the Bush-labeled "noble cause" around which Bush and Republicans cannot or are too afraid to wrap a clearly stated definition ...

why no Republican is willing nor has the courage to say what the course we must stay on looks like so as to help American citizens understand why we must ...

Strictly limited RNC-dictated talking points in both the House and Senate last week where Reichert, Hastings and McMorris all joined in the blind-obedience chorus - and where CEO McGavick wants to sing in the same choir - included the coward's way of avoiding responsibility.

Karl Rove attempted to put on a soldier's uniform when he made his cowardly declaration about courageous soldiers who fight as opposed to cowardly non-soldiers who "cut and run" (see footnote at end of article).

This from someone who avoided service; who himself cut and ran during Viet Nam. These antics from prominent Republicans hang around the party's candidates necks like gaudy ties and we fail if we don't ask them if they agree with and support these chicken hawk declarations from the likes of Rove and Cheney.

All Republicans should be challenged to clarify publicly whether or not they agree with and support the self-serving cowardice of Rove, Cheney and Bush who have no credibility as warriors and embarrass every American solider and veteran when they put on the tough-talk uniform.

In our own state, the Republican Party has no firm Iraq strategy nor agenda that reflects the common good of our country and its citizens.

Particularly damaging for Republicans is the party's total lack of sensitivity regarding the actual soldiers and their families who reside here.

Led now by CEO McGavick and the Congressional Republican marionettes, Washington Republicans  have repeatedly - with a blind insistence and insensitivity - offered soldiers and their families the empty slogan, "Stay the Course"

... a phrase totally devoid of substance, meaning and relevance in a meaningful way

... a phrase the use of which fails to address positively the day-to-day struggle of coping with life that includes loved ones in harms way.

Why have Republicans done this and failed us?

Because the directive comes from the Republican National Committee and its dominant strategists who also hold the  Presidential hands attempting to hang on to the government steering wheel.

What the lock-step robot-like and narrowly restricted speeches in the recent House and Senate "debates" on the occupation of Iraq reflect is an assumption that American voters are limited in their attention spans ...

that cheap and shabby sound-bite phrases like "cut and run" are all we need to hear .... worse, all we need to know.

So in Washington we find ourselves having to deal with a party and candidates that dissemintate half-truths, falsehoods and disingenuous cherry-picked facts to Washingtonians.

Why?

Because we are presumed to be stupid, ignorant, naive and gullible.

Don't believe me?

What state party distorted information about sex offenders and then sent pictoral flyers to a limited number of specifically selected legislative districts rather than statewide - which one would think a party concerned about the whole state would do as part of civic responsibility?

Which party went out of its way to disenfranchise voters and belittle voting rights in the interest of limiting the size of the vote as a tactic for election victory?

What party created the moniker "Death Tax" as a framing phrase for the Estate Tax and then pretended that the Estate Tax harms and victimizes a majority of citizens when only the richest are impacted?

What party demeans and ridicules the idea of working toward peace - including an advocacy for a Department of Peace?

What party refers to peace as an alternative having no credibility in the real world where wars are started by lies and liars and sustained by willful refusal to accept responsibility and make no effort to define missions, courses, jobs and exit strategies?

Go to the state Republican website and read the public announcements that reek with the arrogance of assumed electoral stupidity.

The issue here is that even as I write this, the  overwhelming majority opinion in this country is that America is off-track;

America is tragically moving in wrong directions.

Polls continually reflect this concern and a national pessimism even more powerful than the considerable unpopularity of the occupation of Iraq.

Most Americans believe we are off track and tragically moving in the wrong direction to our own national and local detriment

... and the Republicans want us to stay that course?

-----------------------------

*Based on Republican usage and definition, the following are logical conclusions of what it means to cut and run:

Failure to support the troops and the willful act of cutting funds to the VA is a case of cut and run.

Hiding caskets returning home from the occupation of Iraq and sneaking them into the country in the middle of the night is a case of cut and run.

Refusal to meet with a grieving mother last summer was case of cut and run.

Refusal to find and fire leakers is a case of cut and run.

Refusal to take responsibility for failure in the wake of Katrina is a case of cut and run.

Refusal to effect a thorough rebuilding of Louisiana and Mississippi is a case of cut and run.

The Medicare D program with it's betrayal of citizens to cater to corporations is a case of cut and run.

Millions of children who have been left behind is a case of cut and run.

Cowering before Right Wing Christian blowhards and making public declarations in support of legislation against gay marriage and gay rights is a case of cut and run.

Cowering before Right Wing Christian blowhards in appointing judges too far of the course they ought to stay on is a case of cut and run.

Shall I continue?

Better yet, how many more examples can we find? Comments are welcome.


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Thursday, 22 June 2006

Now Playing: Stacy Bannerman
Topic: Members Speak Out

OPINION - Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Thursday, June 22, 2006

No surprise in Bush's 'emergencies'

Stacy Bannerman, Guest Columnist

President Bush has yet another supposed "emergency" on his hands. This time it's illegal immigration. His response is to deploy thousands of National Guard troops along the Mexican border. The tactic is eerily familiar: send soldiers on a murky mission under the pretense of promoting homeland security and the war on terror.

In the "initial guidance" Pentagon memo that The Associated Press recently acquired, Bush provided no clear estimates of operational strategies, costs or timelines. That's just how he made the Iraq war a military, monetary and moral failure.

More than 2,500 U.S. soldiers have died. In the first three months of this year, more than 3,800 innocent civilians were killed in Baghdad alone. That's the real emergency. But Bush is deaf to the screaming sirens.

Sad to say, neither of the two major disasters that the Bush administration (eventually) categorized as emergencies was unforeseen.

Pre-9/11 intelligence reports specifically warned about the possibility of a major, imminent, terrorist attack in the United States. Various FBI personnel and flight school instructors repeatedly raised concerns about potential or suspected terrorists getting aviation training but skipping sessions about how to land a plane. Mossad officials traveled to Washington from Israel to warn government agencies that a cell of terrorists was setting up a major operation.

Two weeks before the attacks, a CIA cable received over a classified government computer network warned that two "bin Laden-related individuals" had come into the United States and that two other suspected terrorists should be banned from entering, according to the Los Angeles Times. Ignoring those warnings contributed to the deaths of nearly 3,000 Americans.

The administration's failure to heed the National Weather Service's predictions about the severity of Hurricane Katrina, coupled with a yearslong pattern of sabotaging FEMA and gutting the Guard for the Iraq war, contributed to the deaths of at least 2,140 people along the Gulf Coast. Far fewer would have died had the Bush administration not delayed declaring a state of emergency.

The Bushies, however, are rushing to frame the immigration issue as Code Red and militarize the border with Mexico (but not with Canada). People have fled their homelands to come to this country in the hope of a better life for themselves and their children for centuries. Suddenly, it's a "national emergency"? Please. With Bush's low approval rating and the Republicans deeply divided, perhaps he's just worried about an electoral emergency.

The real crisis is the result of more than three years of a war based on false information that Bush persists in repeating. While discussing immigration reform at an Orange County Business Council event at the Hyatt Regency Irvine on April 24, Bush stated, "Iraq has -- had weapons of mass destruction." He went on to say, "I base a lot of my foreign policy decisions on ... things I think are true." This suggests some of his decisions are based on lies.

The real emergency is that this administration and Congress have cut funds for education and social services while pouring $320 billion into the Iraq war.

The true menace before us is that a nation that once was a beacon welcoming millions would douse the light and bar the door.

Stacy Bannerman of Kent contributes to Foreign Policy In Focus (www.fpif.org) and is on the advisory board of Military Families Speak Out; www.mfso.org She wrote "When the War Came Home: The Inside Story of Reservists and the Families They Leave Behind." Her husband served in Iraq with the Army National Guard 81st Brigade.


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Wednesday, 21 June 2006

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

Resist and Advance vs Surrender and Retreat

[ed note - posted also to DK] It's become beyond wearisome to observe the political soap opera drama play out day after day in an illusion of reality with consequences to politicians meaning only their own political careers.  While a harsher reality extracts the lives of human beings each and every day in a misbegotten 'wartime' reality, politicians fancy themselves playing cleverly at a game of win/lose.  What would be a win/win strategy, I wonder daily, that would 'turn the corner' to the ongoing aggression of win/lose?

A debate in Senate goes on today and I see an AP report this morning in which the blatant use of emotionally charged words are being tossed about to fuel the fires of perpetuating the win/lose political strategies.  Words like surrendering and retreat and that fear-inspiring cut and run.  If politicians are going to use the emotionally charged words of the military, then I have a few military-based words of my own to contribute.

 

Iraq war resolution on Senate's plate today

 

WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist declared Tuesday that "surrendering is not a solution" in Iraq as Democrats embraced a proposal to start troop withdrawals this year, setting up an election-year showdown in the GOP-controlled Senate.

"We cannot retreat. We cannot surrender. We cannot go wobbly. The price is far too high," said Frist, R-Tenn., suggesting that Democrats want to do just that.

Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, disputed the GOP characterization of the Democrats' position and said: "We have to serve notice on the Iraqis that their future has to be in their own hands."

Surrendering?  I read this and say aloud 'surrendering to whom?' - what is he talking about.  Retreat?  Retreat to where, I wonder and the disgust billows up from some deep place inside me.  A damn word game, our politicians are engaged in a damn word game while real time paints a much different reality.  Politicians using the emotional buzz words designed to elicit a knee-jerk and gut reaction from people who value themselves as the American ideal of what it is to be an American.

More disgusting is politicians who use military terminology buzz words while having no reality whatsoever in military life or combat.  Surrender!  Pulling our troops out of a civil conflict equates to our troops surrendering!  To whom, to whom are they surrendering?   Retreat!  Pulling our troops out of an established country termed a new democracy equates to our troops in retreat?  Cut and run equates to an act of cowardice to pull our troops out of a country that has it's own government in place and has asked for the removal of our troops?  

These are just words, artfully and carefully designed to resonate with the lowest common denominator among those Americans who are either overly busy trying to live with the demands of our sagging economy or overly-lazy in that 'war time' is not  immediately impacting their daily life.  It seems anyone and everyone has an 'opinion' and are eager to weigh in with their opinion adopting the false choice arguments as promulgated by our representative politicians.  It is not as easy as stay or leave as the only choices one can have and it is no longer as easy as a majority party in Congress be it one or the other party trying to hold onto their power base.

So how about some other words, equally emotionally charged with military meanings like Resist and Advance.  Resist the notion of surrender as applicable in this debate.  Advance the truth that our troops have accomplished their ill defined mission in that a new birth of a new, democratic Iraq is in place and exists as a result of military action.  Offer a debate issue that puts the responsibility and accountability back on the politicians and this administration to resolve Iraq authentically and politically.  Resist buying into the propaganda of political word-speak that has the maturity of juvenile playground bullying tactics.  Lock and load and aim squarely at the target - truth - amonst the illusive smokebombs of deception.  

It's time for politics and politicians to grow up and serve the public with the same kind of honor, dignity and ideals we absolutely and unequivocably expect from our military - from our young 19 and 20 something year old service men and women.  On the one side the opinionators are outraged at the atrocities being committed by our men and women in military service as news stories come to light.  Emotionally charged words like murderers, dishonor,  is tossed about freely.  And on the other side, opinionators are equally outraged when our men and women in military service resist as those news stories come to light.  Emotionally charged words like cowards, dishonor is tossed about freely.  

It appears that while IEDs and roadside bombs can break their bones, words can hurt them too.   Isn't it past time to end using our military's ideals, not fully understood or appreciated in the civilian population, as political footballs in word games at the cost of the lives of our troops; at the cost of lives of a people who seemed to be born in the wrong place at the wrong time when the U.S. decided to invade and occupy 'their' country.   Isn't it past time to expect adult, mature, responsible behavior from our politicians if we expect it from our younsters who do the on-ground fighting for the sake of political 'words'?

Well, locally speaking then, I'll be watching our U.S. Senators Cantwell and Murray performance and votes in this important 'debate' and resolution.  After watching all 10 hours of the House 'debate' and votes on the resolution last week, I'm sure I'll be treated to more of the same with the Senate debate this week. Wouldn't it be refreshing if, in fact, it was not more of the same ...

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Tuesday, 20 June 2006

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger at Washblog
Topic: Lt. Ehren Watada

In a second Lt Watada press conference; supporter Col Ann Wright says illegal war and war crimes

 

{Update - Tomorrow = Natl Day of Action to Stand Up with Lt. Ehren Watada - Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Ft. Lewis, WA - 7am - Morning bannering on the Exit 119 (DuPont Rd.) bridge over Interstate 5.
Ft. Lewis, WA - 4pm - Bannering and support rally on the Exit 119 (DuPont) bridge over Interstate 5.
Tacoma, WA - 7am - Bannering: (1) McKinley Way overpass above I-5; and (2) Pedestrian Bridge over Route 16 near Narrows Bridge.
Tacoma, WA - 4pm - Bannering: (1) McKinley Way overpass above I-5; and (2) Pedestrian Bridge over Route 16 near Narrows Bridge.
Seattle, WA - 5pm - Vigil and sign holding: (1) Westlake Park, 4th and Pine Streets; and (2) Greenlake, East Green Lake Way N and N 64th St.

[Update - June 22, 2006. Lt. Watada refused Iraq deployment this morning; Under restriction and gag-order. More at website Thank You Lt. Ehren Watada ]

In a second press conference Lt Ehren Watada held in Seattle, June 19, 2006, (ret) Army Colonel and Diplomat, Ann Wright, speaks in support of Lt. Watada's decision to refuse orders to deploy to Iraq as his right to disobey illegal orders.  His parents, Robert Watada and Carolyn Ho, came from Hawaii to be with their son in Seattle and spoke at his press conference.  I had the opportunity to have a personal phone call exchange with his mother, Carolyn Ho, as she was on her way from Seatac airport to the University Lutheran Church in Seattle, for the 6:15 PM press conference.

  Mother to mother, military family to military family we talked, me with two returning Iraq veterans in our family who will be redeployed; she with a son who is an Officer in U.S. Army making the monumental decision as an Officer to refuse orders to deploy to Iraq.  I valued our exchange and she said she valued what I had to share with her. She seemed very moved when I said to her that her son, as an Officer, was doing what I would expect an Officer to do and if he were an Officer for the two Sgts in our family, I would want him to deliberate on the orders being given for our two to carry out.

  While I wasn't able to make the 3 hour trip up to Seattle on Monday evening, I was able to listen to the video of the press conference that KING 5 has posted to their online website (you have to listen first to a 20 second commercial then the video coverage begins).  It helped me feel very much  like I was there.  Gratitude to KING 5 for posting the entirety of the press conference making it available for all to hear firsthand. There is strength in the words of Col Ann Wright, and rather than report on her words, I have transcribed her speech and am placing it here.

NOTE: June 27 will be a national day of action in support of Lt. Watada and his refusal to deploy.  Supporters have planned events across the country, including events at Ft Lewis, WA; Charlotte, NC; Cleveland, OH; Harrisburg, PA; San Francisco, CA; and Oklahoma City, OK.

Colonel Ann Wright (Ret.) served 29 years in the Army/Army Reserve and 16 years in the U.S. Foreign Service.  She resigned from the U.S. Foreign Service  
on March 19, 2003 in protest over the Bush administration's decision to go to war in Iraq without UN Security Council authorization, and over the curtailment of civil liberties in the United States.

text of her speech June 19, 2006, Seattle at press conference in support of Lt. Ehren Watada.

Good Afternoon.  It is with heavy heart that I am here.  Heavy heart that the U.S. Military may be taking action against a noble and principled Officer of the U.S. Military who is saying to U.S. Military and U.S. goverment that the war in Iraq is an illegal war and he refuses to take orders to go to an illegal war.

This is a right that a military officer has to disobey illegal orders and to be ordered to an illegal war is something people can stand up against.  And as you can see, not many people do.  We have one officer that's done it; we have 24 in Canda who have done it; 10 in jail or imprisoned who have said no to these illegal orders.  Ehren will be the first Officer that will say no.

By the Nuremburg Principle codified after World War ll, when United States of America executed Japanese and German military officers and civilians for going along with what the International Communities termed 'illegal wars'.  That's when it came to the front, that we as civilains and military have the obligation and responsibility to say no to a government that takes us into an illegal war - a war of aggression.  And by the Nuremburg Principles, a war of agrression is called a war crime.  The Bush administration is committing war crimes.  The country of Iraq did nothing to the United States of America.  The Bush administration invaded and occupied a country that did nothing to the United States of America.

By the three principles of legal wars;

 - If the United Nations Security Counscil will vote that the International community has to take military action against a threat to the International community.  The Bush administration was unable to get U.N. Security Council to vote for military operations on Iraq.  

 - If imminent danger to your country ... the weapons of mass destruction were not imminent danger.  In fact, there was an ongong U.N. inspection to determine if there were WMD. But the Bush administration threw away that and said we're going in anyway.

 - The third is to prevent humanitarian disaster such as genocide; a genocide taking place.  While the Saddam Hussein regime had committed atrocities on it's people, it was not doing so at that time.   In fact, the atrocities that were being committed on the people of Iraq were being committed by the International community by the International sanctions that had been placed on the country.

  So, in my opinion, and, in fact, and I resigned my career as a diplomat, because I firmly believe the U.S; the Bush administration has taken the country into a war crime and an illegal war of agrression.  I firmly support Lt. Watada's decision to refuse orders to deploy to Iraq.  I think he is on firm, solid, legal ground that he is disobeying an illegal order.

  We support him - others support him too - not just myself.  A colleague in the Diplomatic Corps of the United Kingdom back in March 2003, same month I resigned, she resigned.  She was the Deputy Legal Counsel of the equivalent of the British State Department or the Foreign And Commonwealth Office.  Her name is Elizabeth Wilmshurst.  In her letter of resignation she specifically states the invasion and occupation of Iraq by the United States and the United Kingdom would be a war crime as a war of aggression.  The British government also threw away the legal opinions of it's lawyers and went ahead, just as the Bush administration went ahead to this illegal war.  

  I think we all have a responsibility as citizens to support those in our government, particularly our military who stand up.  It is not easy to stand up.  Having been in the military 29 years, I know the pressures that Lt. Watada is under.  It is very difficult thing to go against the organiztion.  When I resigned from the State Department, that was very difficult.  I had spent 16 years there.  It is hard to leave your colleagues and I know Lt. Watada is having a difficult time leaving his colleagues, the people he trained with..

  But there are higher principles at stake.  There are principles that will save one's conscience; I mean it is an act of conscience that he is doing but it will save his soul ... for going to war, to an illegal war where you will be committing illegal acts, where you will, in the name of the United States of America, be committing murder. These are things that people have to evaluate, what they want to live with the rest of their lives.   And Lt. Watada has said I will not have on my conscience the murder of innocent men, women and children.  I will not participate in an illegal war of agrression, a war crime.

  I hope all people of the United States will join us on June 27 when we do call for a National Day of Action to stand up for Lt. Watada.  (Here she names the organizations that endorse a National Day of Action, both national organizations and Washington state organizations and identified cities that are participating.)   We hope that hundreds and hundreds of cities all throughout America, cities and towns will join with us in a day of protest against this illegal war and a day of conscience where people, citizens and military stand up to say no more to these wars.

      Thank you.

 On a personal note, I have met and spent time with Col. Ann Wright, at Crawford, Texas, last August, and in Washington DC last September.  I vividly recall a press meeting in DC we were invited to attend, which included General Wesley Clark.  I was moved that General Clark asked for the U.S. flag to be brought into the room and the veterans from Veterans for Peace ceremoniously bringing the flag into the room and placing it in front.  I remarked to Ann that I was moved by the ritual, and it still stirs in me what feels like a strong sense of patriotic ownership in honoring what our flag means to me.  I have heard Ann speak before, and her speech in conjunction with Lt. Ehren Watada's action and decision brings more power to her own action and words and to his.

Coverage of this second press conference is carried in Seattle PI, the Seattle Times, and video coverage at KING 5 website .


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Saturday, 10 June 2006

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger at Washblog
Topic: Lt. Ehren Watada

Update; Military attempts to stop Lt. Watada from speaking against illegal war

link Thank you Lt Ehren for resisting an illegal war website

An expected reaction by U.S. Army to Lt. Watada's public statement of his intent to refuse to deploy with his unit to Iraq.  

The time to act in support of Lt Watada is now, as Stryker brigade our of Fort Lewis is scheduled to deploy to Iraq before the end of June 2006.  This is not a time to languish, rather a time to give direct support to Lt Watada's act of courage as an Officer of the U.S. Army.  

Lt Watada has said he expects and accepts there will be consequences to his public statement of illegal war / illegal orders and the Army is correct to act.  What you can do right now will unlikely influence what Lt Watada will have to face, and he expects fully to face charges and resulting punishments.  

But, you most assuredly can influence furthering authentic dialogue about what compels Lt Watada to take this action.  Please help get Lt Watada's story widely distributed, sign the petition at his support website, and contact the influential people you know to alert them to unfolding developments.   Washington can and should do everything it can to further the courageous actions of Lt. Watada.  Please don't leave it to the usual peace and activist groups.  This is a real opportunity, imo, that has potential to be more effective in engaging people to act on their own consciences much like Lt. Watada is doing.

Please don't let his act of an Officer's courage be his alone.  Thank you.

more below the fold

 

link Thank you Lt Ehren for resisting an illegal war website

Military attempts to stop Lt. Watada from speaking against illegal war       

PRESS ADVISORY (June 9, 2006) - On Thursday, June 8, 2006 U.S. Army First Lieutenant Ehren Watada's commanding officer moved to prosecute Lt. Watada for protected speech. An official investigation into his public speech in opposition to the illegal war in Iraq is underway. Lt. Watada was read his rights and declined to make a statement without a lawyer present.

In response, Lt. Watada confirmed, "I have a legal and ethical obligation to speak out against, and refuse to fight, this patently illegal war in Iraq. This has not changed."

Eric Seitz, lead attorney for Lt. Watada's legal team, declared "It is obvious that the military is simply trying to keep him from speaking out in opposition to the unlawful war."

On Wednesday, June 7th U.S. Army First Lieutenant Ehren Watada became the first U.S. commissioned officer to publicly refuse deployment to the unlawful Iraq war and occupation. Standing before the national media at a Tacoma, Washington press conference, Lt. Watada outlined his duty to refuse the illegal order to deploy in support of an illegal war. A showdown with military is imminent as Lt. Watada's Stryker brigade is scheduled to deploy from Fort Lewis, Washington for Iraq within days.

Steve Morse, director of the GI Rights Hotline, a non-governmental legal resource center for members of the military, explains "When soldiers join the military they swear to uphold our Constitution, they do not give up their basic right to freedom of speech." According Mr. Morse, "Members of the military clearly have the right to say what they think and feel about the military, and even participate in peaceful demonstrations, as long as they are off-duty, out of uniform, off-base, and within the United States. This is outlined in Department of Defense Directive 1325.6".

It is expected that the military is moving to stage a Commanding Officer's Non-Judicial Punishment hearing (Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice) in order to impose even further restrictions on Lt. Watada. The military will likely focus their investigation on vague UCMJ articles that bar "conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman" (Article 133) and "any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President (or any senior members of government)" (Article 88).

# # # END # # #

Note: We are aware that the Fort Lewis military public affairs office may have not yet been informed of this new development.



Links;

  Support website for Lt. Ehren Watada; follow updates there (and you can add your name to the petition there)
Thank you Lt Ehren Watada

  Hear Lt Ehren Watada speak for himself.  Video; Lt Watada answers media questions; June 7, 2006, Tacoma, 6 PM.  
media conference, Lt Ehren Watada answers media questions

  Daily Kos Lt Watada stories; see Daniel Kirkdorffer's DK diary
U.S. Soldier Publicly Protests Deployment

 and Lietta Ruger's DK diary Military Families support Lt Watada at Tacoma press conference text

  see Daniel's blog here at the Portal; he is blogging Lt Watada's story; On The Road To 2008

  and see the stories on Lt Watada here at Washblog; Fort Lewis Army Lt. Set To Refuse Deployment To Iraq

also Military Families support Lt Watada at Tacoma press conference

Please add some part of the story or link referrals to your own blog, and please network Lt Watada's story widely. Whether your conscience supports his decision or it doesn't, his actions nonetheless depict courage and at the very least are deserving and befitting of authentic dialogue among the 'netroots', blogging community, media community, political community, military community, and among citizens of this country who have civilian responsibilities to our troops at a time when our nation is at war.  

Thank you -

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Friday, 9 June 2006

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger at Washblog
Topic: Lt. Ehren Watada

Military Families support Lt Watada at Tacoma press conference

 


[Update] The Nation has comprehensive and substanative article, June 12, 2006, addressing Lt Watada's decision, position and legalities; Lieutenant Watada's War Against the War [end update]

Reporting on press conference of Lt Ehren Watada, Tacoma, WA, June 7, 2006.  Yes, that is me in the photo, to the right of Lt Watada when he was first introduced at the 6 PM media conference.  I'm in the white Military Families Speak Out - (WA state chapter) t-shirt.  Supporters give him welcome applause.

I was there at the noon press conference, Lt Watada was prohibited by his Fort Lewis chain of command from attending the scheduled noon press conference. In his absence his statement was given  in the prepared video taped DVD.  Announcement made that Lt Watada would be available at 6 PM to answer questions if media/press wanted to return at that time.  Media/press did return, and I was there for both the noon and the 6PM press conferences.  

My report and perceptions with links to actual video of Lt Watada answering questions from the media which you can hear for yourself and form your own perceptual opinions.  He is very poised and even in expressing his thoughts and I was very impressed with this young 28 yr old Officer.  

Noon press conference, June 7, 2006.  When I arrived there was already considerable media with the satellite vans parked around the building, along with cameras, camera people and microphones. I was pleased as it signalled to me that media viewed this as an important story.  Inside the lights, cameras and mics were set up and the plasma tv was in place.  

Supporters were outside and inside, and there were four of us from Military Families Speak Out in our t-shirts to show visible support of military families for Lt Watada decision to make public his intention to refuse deployment orders to Iraq. We took our place alongside the veterans of Veterans for Peace who were there to show support.

left to right; Military Families Speak Out Jenny Keesey - Elma; Judy Linehan - Olympia; Lietta Ruger - Bay Center.  Also not pictured Stacy Bannerman - Kent.  

It was announced Lt Watada would not be able to attend so we knew the prepared DVD statement would be used.  There were to be 4 presenters prior to introducing Lt Watada.  We went ahead with the presenters anyway followed by the DVD of Lt Watada's prepared statement.  

Presenters;  
-- The Rev. Jim Davis, a United Methodist minister and chaplain of the University of Puget Sound.

-- Majorie Cohn, a professor at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law and president of the Natioinal Lawyers Guild

-- Joe Colgan, WA veteran and father of Lt Benjamin Colgan, killed in Iraq in 2003. See dvd Gunner Palace in which Lt Benjamin's unit was being filmed when Lt Benjamin Colgan was killed.

-- Judy Linehan, Military Families Speak Out, mother of son, returning Iraq veteran who had deployed to Iraq with Stryker Brigade. (We elected Judy to speak for all four of us and it was emotional for her since her own son has connection to Fort Lewis and Stryker brigade)

-- Lt Ehren Watada's prepared DVD statement.

links;

  video of noon press conference
Northwest Cable News

   video of Lt Ehren Watada's prepared DVD statement
KIRO 7 tv

   Announcement was then made that Lt Watada would be available at 6PM to take questions from the media if media wanted to return.  I decided to return for the 6 PM conference.  Interestingly, Jenny and I had arranged to meet and drive one car (save gas $$) and she had previous committments so could not stay in Tacoma till 6PM.  Same for Judy and Stacy.  Jenny drove us back to our neck of the woods out here in Grays Harbor and Pacific County, and I got back into my own vehicle and immediately drove back to Tacoma.  These are about 2 hour drives from where we live in these outlying counties. So not a few hours spent in driving on Wednesday.  

   I arrived back in Tacoma at 6PM straight up, and bustled through the cameras and mics to get up front with the supporters. Veterans for Peace was already there, and made room for me with them and that is how I wound up right next to the podium.

  When Lt Watada was introduced, the warm and welcome applause was heart-warming and that is the only photo I've seen that has me smiling.  There are several other photos of Lt Watada and I show up in the photos since I was standing right next to him, but I'm not smiling in any of the other photos.  Well, it was a somber occasion.

  As I listened to the young Lt Watada field the hardball and softball questions from the media, I was much impressed with his poise.  He behaved with the kind of humility, dignity and respect I would expect from an Officer.  Obviously he has had time to reflect, prepare for this moment since he has been contemplating his decision since Jan 06, and it is evident a lot of thought went into his decision, his prepared statement and he answered the media questions put to him from his own convictions.  

  Rather than report and repeat the media accounts you likely have already read, refer to the video link for the 6 PM media conference and hear him for yourself in entirety.  He answered questions for 1/2 hour or longer and it is all in the video link.  He answered a question from a little boy, not more than say 7 yrs old who asked the Lt 'why do you think this war is bad'.  Lt Watada answered him patiently and did not talk down to him.  I was impressed.
Link video
6 PM media conference, Lt Ehren Watada answers media questions KING 5

  It was Lt Watada's 28th birthday the same day of the press conference, June 7, and some of you may know how I feel about the importance of young people participating actively in this process of democracy and our nation's future.  I was personally moved as I stood there thinking 'he's so young, and he's having the courage to do this' -- it was moving.

  Lt Watada had two lawyers standing behind him, and when they thought enough media questions had been asked and answered, they wrapped it up and announced enough questions.  They then started to escort Lt Watada out of the room, and I said to one of the lawyers 'wait, I very much want to shake his hand'.  The attorney smiled and was willing, but by then Lt Watada was already out the door.  The attorney shrugged, smiled and moved on.
I really wanted Lt Watada to know we are a military family with returning Iraq veterans and I was there to support him.  

  Ahh, but wait, there on the podium was Lt Watada's cell phone he had set down and I just knew he would need his cell phone.  So I grabbed it, and made my way to the door and to the back room where they had taken him for debriefing.  I explained to the people monitoring in the hallway that I needed to give him his phone.  They let me pass, and of course, my t-shirt rather is recognizeable, so I guess I was considered safe.

  I went into the room, where Lt Watada and the two attorneys were in conversation.  I thanked Ehren, shook his hand, explained I was a military family.  He asked if we had -- well he didn't have to finish the question -- I knew.  Yes, I told him - 2 returning Iraq veterans in our family.  I gave him his phone and shook his hand agan and said 'thank you Sir, for what you are doing'.  Then I left the room.

  It was over, and many of us milled about for a short while outside.  There were some either impromptu or planned private interviews by media with Lt Watada afterwards so we did not get to see him again that evening.  

  That wraps up my account.  Questions, please ask, as I may have overlooked writing some detail.  Please do view the video of Lt Watada's 6 PM media conference and listen to him answer media questions, as I think it will give you a more personal perspective of him.
6 PM media conference, Lt Ehren Watada answers media questions KING 5

My understanding is that Lt Watada will be presenting over the weekend, and at this time the best information I have so far is;

On Sunday, June 11 at 1 p.m. at the Traditions Fair Trade, corner of 5th and Water, Olympia, WA, Lieutenant Ehren Watada will speak on his reasons for Refusing to obey the order to deploy to Iraq
[edited to add link and also posted at Daily Kos]


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Friday, 2 June 2006

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

Deal with it; KING 5 interview w/ Haditha Marine in WA

 As more disturbing facts come out surrounding the killings of up to two dozen civilians in the Iraqi town of Haditha last November, KING 5 talked with a local Marine who was a member of the squad now under investigation.

The incident began November 19 when the Humvee that North Bend, Wash. native Lance Cpl. James Crossan was riding in was blown up by a roadside bomb.

link; video interview at KING 5

 

 

 
   Think issue of Iraq doesn't affect everyday life in our fine state of Washington?  Think selectively ignoring the reality of WAR because it's too hard to grasp the inevitabilities of combatant war is a good way to cope with a reality-based issue?  Wonder why I feel the need to continue to demand leadership from U.S. Senators of Washington state?  And I wonder why more Washingtonian's don't feel as strong a need while the political football game continues to be played as a 'game' in the face of 'war'.

  Did folks really think ignoring that our troops are sent into combat in 2nd and 3rd and 4th deployments wouldn't come home to roost in your hometown?  How about when I asked Sen. Cantwell at  my second opportunity to meet with her, May 6, 2006 about the two Fort Lewis Rangers who were killed in their 6th deployment and she didn't know a thing about it.  And once she realized I was citing a link; Tacoma News Tribune;March 22, 2006; Two Ft Lewis Army Rangers killed in Iraq on 6th deployment  article, she made a stab at ignorance 'how could they be on 6th deployment when the war has only been 3 yrs.  That would mean the war would be in 6th year'  

  My reaction probably didn't help enlighten her much, but my astonishment at her lack of knowledge of military combat deployments in her own state astonished me into an astonished response.  What I said was 'Maria, they're Rangers and combat deployments are combat deployments'.  What was left unsaid by me was that combat deployments whether 3 months at a time or a year at a time are still 'combat deployments' where death happens on all sides. What I failed to respond to in my own astonishment was to point out the very real impact on a human being in a trauma-based killing, carnage and combat situation continues to live on manifesting the natural human reaction response to trauma for years to come, in our own communities here in Washington state.  

  Not a great way to help our U.S. Senator better understand the situation, I agree, but then, you know I would have actually expected the Senator to know more about the circumstances that directly affect some of her constituents in an issue of our country at war.  And I would have actually expected that if she didn't or doesn't know, that she would listen to those of us who might have more direct knowledge since we are so directly impacted by this war.  Yeah, us military families,  who live with this freakin war while others are 'drinking liberally' and finding the stimulating fun in blogging.

   Guess you can tell I'm extremely upset, and it probably reflects in my writing.  I can only guess now at how people and media and blogs will react to Haditha, along with the other incidents that will be unveiled.  But then I lived as a young military wife with a husband returning from Vietnam, so it won't be too hard to guess at some possible reactions.

   You're willing to have the 2 returning Iraq veterans in my family be redeployed to this carnage?  Expand that to mean returning any of the returning Iraq veterans to this horrific, undefined mission as an agreement with the Dem position of 'transition in 2006; when the Iraqi security stands up our troops can stand down'. You're willing to send in fresh new troops? Oh, you did catch the news that additional troops were just sent in, some fresh for the first time, some on repeat deployments.  As in fresh out of high school, a high school perhaps in your community?   How courageous is that and doesn't that make you complicit somehow in failing to do what we expect our U.S. troops to do in having integrity, courage on the battlefield, honor and dignity in the act of killing, maiming and carnage?  

  You do have a job as citizens in this upside down political relationship when our country decides to deploy military into combat.  An old model I learned growing up as a military brat was a triangular model regarding war.   A prepared military intended to PREVENT war.  In war, a Commander-in-Chief with responsibility to the actual Constitution, to the deployed military troops and to the citizens.  Military troops with responsibility to the Constitution and subsequent to that the Commander-in-Chief and subsequent to that the citizens.  Citizens have a responsibility to the military troops by fully expecting and demanding the Commander-in-Chief respect and fulfill the responsibility to the Constitution and to the military troops he has put into combat on a war footing. Congress factors into this equation with both responsibilities and accountabilities of the same.

   When that model is broken as it is in this circumstance with war in Iraq (and was with war in Vietnam), then I damn well do expect legislators to fulfill their end of the contract as representative of citizens of this country. And they damn well know they have responsibilities to live up to when they act in concert to send troops into combat. When it becomes apparant that legislators are not acting in good faith, what is left then is the citizens.  And if the citizens are choosing not to act, then what is left?

  Can you dare wonder why I expect more from our U.S. Senators, specifically Sen. Cantwell, and yes, I'm looking now at Sen. Murray who recently provided a lukewarm response on her position on the war; link; The Olympian; May 31, 2006;Iraq dominates talk during Murray visit .

 
Murray stayed away from taking a firm position on the U.S. future in Iraq, saying she voted against starting the war but has voted to help its veterans. She insisted that the next step for the United States is far from easy to discern in a war she estimated has cost
$450 billion.

She said she personally witnessed Baghdad's devastated infrastructure and has spoken to generals who say infrastructure repairs are needed to bring security to the region. "That is a completely different strategy ... and it's something the American people need to discuss and debate," Murray said. "I think the president should redefine the mission and have a debate on it.'

  Can you dare to wonder why I feel disgust with the political haranguing that argues in favor of doing nothing while folks argue we have to try to put Dems in power positions with no assurances whatsoever they will ACT in leadership on a life and death issue?  Don't upset the Dem applecart cause we would get the other party candidate, so shhhh, keep still and just wait - you'll see.

  What?  What will I see?

   Young readers who didn't live through Vietnam, can't expect you to know that 'history'.  Since it isn't a high priority in school curriculums, can't expect you to know 'of it historically'. Ignorance is not bliss, however, and you don't get a pass because you didn't know better.  Someday it will be your own children asking you the questions about what you did during this critical juncture in history.  You can answer you were too busy making a living, going to college, studies, building a career and family but that you cared.  And you will teach them to do the same should they face another critical juncture in history.  

  Older readers who have the history of Vietnam, (and this Administration does have a history of Vietnam, well enough to know what not to repeat and how to lull citizens to sleep) shame on you for taking our young to a new Vietnam.  Doesn't matter what side of the argument or political party talking points you ascribe to, it was always bigger than politics and your legacy will live on; what did you do during this critical period?  

   What will you do tomorrow different than you did today to bring this horror to an end?

   Keep quiet? Please don't, and if you make the choice to keep still till Nov elections, appreciate that 350 more U.S. troops will die by then (at the statistical rate of 2 a day are dying in the war) along with uncounted numbers of Iraqi citizens.  Let that be on your heads come election day when you celebrate in victory parties the incredible work of getting your candidate elected or re-elected.  And with no promises a Dem in power in Congress will assure any shift or difference for war in Iraq, except the continued cowardice already being shown, the death rates will continue to climb.  

   Depressing?  You bet it is, and feeling hopeless, helpless?  Then DO SOMETHING EMPOWERING and stop being Fearmericans.  

   To those of you who are doing something or believe you are doing something to hasten an end, and get our kids out of this war (extension of that is reduce the killing of kids in Iraq) I thank you and sincerely mean it from the depths of my heart.  To those of you ignoring what is staring you in the face, it's not too late...


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Sunday, 21 May 2006

Now Playing: Arthur Ruger at Washblog
Topic: Local Lobbying

Urgency about death, dying, political failure and why suddenly I feel sheepish ...

I'm not a Democrat first and a patriotic civic-minded American citizen second.

I'm not one of the local flagship bloggers who don't seem to be able to resist showing off their political savvy and acumen obtained and presumably earned over perhaps five years of political struggle complete with battle scars that make others swoon in the moonlight.

No I don't swoon and although a late-comer in terms of speaking out, I'm not a late-comer in terms of seeking out political truth for civic reasons, voting my conscience and having my own collection of scars - some inflicted before most readers under 40 years old were born - and much deeper than some supposed shame in my state's possible loss of a senate seat to a Republican.

 

 

I'm also not a member of the fighting keyboardists who talk about war, Iraq and collateral damage as if it were some aspect to a video game where the pleasure is in pretend.

Military families (those who speak out, those who can't and those who don't dare) are all part of one big family whose actual and potential sacrifice on behalf of this nation is way out of proportion with the rest of the country. Those of us who speak out have not been fooling with theories, strategies nor tactics that pander to my blogging colleagues and their pretense that lock-step voting and campaigning will lead to the most prompt and immediate end to death and dying.

Truth is, we have no guarantee that a Democratic sweep of both houses will lead to the quickest end to death and dying in Iraq.

We have no guarantee that a democratically controlled congress will have as its first or highest priority, the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq, the consequential immediate lowering of the amount of gasoline America's presence in Iraq pours on the fires of resistance and contributes to our family losses and killing of Iraqi civilians.

We do face a strong likelihood that a foolish newly elected Democratic majority will arrogantly allot to itself a greater wisdom in how to get the job done in Iraq and how to accomplish what Bush and neocon nutcases (Just ask Francis Fukuyama ) couldn't do right. If you want proof, go to the Democratic Leadership Council site and read their foreign policy nonsense.

Mark my words and I promise you that if/when party takeover of Congress happens, my words will be true:

The Demos will attempt to accomplish the same goals the Republicans couldn't.

The Demos will not take immediate action to remove the troops and get this country's inflammatory presence out from its position as the direct cause of dreadful effects in Iraq.

Too many voters and leaders see this from an abstract point of view and so long as it remains an abstraction, the competitive gaming-lure of strategic debate remains more enticing and involving than actually staunching the flow of blood.

We are seeing DLC strategy played out even as I write this. We are seeing why Cantwell, the DLC/neocon under-informed foreign policy lightweight, believes that she can go through motions with folks like we who've met with her, that she can ultimately point to having met with us several times and heard us out, and then do nothing inconsistent with her unchanged attitude, philosophy and voting record.

In the meantime, the DLC/Democratic tactic of doing nothing while Republican scandals multiply seemingly exponentially - thereby facilitating a greater probability of their being swept out of power - means that the DLC/Democratic tactic is also to express that two military and several civilian deaths every single day in Iraq are needful and worth the price of doing nothing.

How would you like to be standing at the lip of a human meat grinder watching your military loved one move forward in the sacrificial line and listen to do-nothing Democrats like Maria - who are content to do nothing but watch eroding Republican popularity - tell you that when your loved one steps off the lip and into the grinder, it's for a higher national good?

But if we acquiesce, shut our mouths and pretend that supporting Ms. Cantwell is the wisest and most patriotic act we can take, we fool ourselves and pass me another glass of Kool-Aid.

What can we count on if we let the Democratic Party stay fully managed by DLC centrists and their local party fools in every state? Will stopping the killing in Iraq be one of the highest priorities - like, for example - putting out a house fire where people are dying?

From their own site where pretense begins with the visual illusion that the DLC is somehow "official" party authority:

 

Democrats should begin by reaffirming their party's commitment to progressive internationalism -- the belief that America can best defend itself by building a world safe for individual liberty and democracy.

Progressive internationalism occupies the vital center between the neo-imperial right and the noninterventionist left, between a view that assumes our might always makes us right, and one that assumes that because America is strong it must be wrong. It stresses the responsibilities that come with our enormous power: to use force with restraint but not to hesitate to use it when necessary; to show what the Declaration of Independence called "a decent respect for the opinions of mankind"; to exercise leadership primarily through persuasion rather than coercion; to reduce human suffering where we can; and to bolster alliances and global institutions committed to upholding an increasingly democratic world order.

They can pretend they sit "between" neo-imperial and non-interventionist, but they are still advocating spreading American's version of corporate capitalistic democracy from the barrel of gun if necessary.

The barrel of a gun philosophy is the precise reason why today, tomorrow, the next day and every f***ing day from here on out two soldiers and who knows how many Iraqi civilians will be killed while politicians and parties in this country continue to behave badly, unwisely and stand with their fingers stuck up their politically failed orifices.

Geov Parrish  expressed the problem we face with blind and nervous support of the (D)-bird in hand versus  more appropriate alternative (D)-birds in the bushes around America where dumb DLC Democrats need them to stay.

After doing more homework, something I recommend to local party strategists, I'm feeling more sheepish than ever, going to have to flip flop and withdraw my declaration of intent to vote for Maria Cantwell in my party's primary election.

There is a significantly more important election for Democrats than the November midterm and that is their soul-searching primary election - regardless of all those "in-place" leadership Demos and self-appointed PAC apologist-type party activists who have yet to prove that they possess a higher wisdom for the well-being of this country and that they can win with it.

Until or unless they ever do, I'm not throwing in with them.

I'm not throwing away any opportunity to say that I also have a voice that is NOT traitorous to America because it disagrees with narrow party fearful thoughts

I also have a voice and ask everyone else who reads me to speak up, even if your voice shakes - or even if others who read me tell you, like they tell me, to shut the hell up. We have opinions that can and should be expressed in a public venue regardless of who likes it and who doesn't.

At this stage in the midterm election process, the (D) bird in hand is not worth more than what's out in the bushes. The one in hand has made no declaration that expresses anything other than a DLC/neocon foreign policy foolishness that in this case has a disproportionate share of the families in this country at risk for paying the highest price for everyone else's right to live free or die.

Like General Zinni, as a veteran, I served to preserve the right I myself and all of you have to speak out, to dissent, to criticize presidents and senators. Folks like us have the least obligation to shut up or defer to other folks who didn't serve, who have no intention of serving and who in fact live in a world of political and economic abstractions based on pretense.

Why in the land of the free and home of the brave where Lincoln sits on a granite chair, and where a rowdy group of 18th century dissenters are now revered as founding fatherly icons of the United States of America, who the hell has the right to say or imply that what Mark Wilson stands for isn't good enough?

In Washington State Democratic hands is a bird who wants to just sit in your hand, look pretty, look senatorial and do nothing of immediate good for this country.

In the Democratic bushes however is a candidate who has spoken out, who has gotten up off his ass and put his money and his personal life where his mouth is.

All of a sudden I have to ask why that isn't good enough?

Why is it shameful or stupid to recognize that?

Why can't a citizen run and a party respect that running? (BTW: I still haven't seen explanation or justification from King County or Suzy Sheary - see my wonderings on 5/11/06)

Why do people who haven't taken that step have the gall to pretend they are greater judges of American character, core values and citizenship, not to mention behaving as self-appointed expert advocates of political expediency?

Why must we settle for mediocrity because that's the Republican standard in this country?

Why must we diminish ourselves and concede to an ignorant lower standard of political acumen, civic duty and citizenship patriotism?

Why are so many of us fearful of standing up, speaking out and working to make a difference?

Why do so many pretend it is wise to accept mediocrity out of a fear of the loss of one election, a fear that leaves us caught in the headlights and too terrorized or intimidated to do more than stare at an oncoming disaster, hoping it passes by with as little damage as possible?

Why are so many afraid to fight?

Is it more convenient because Maria Cantwell gives an excuse not to get in there and mix it up directly with the bad guys?

to sit back, vote Maria in the primary, tell everyone else to be quiet?

And wait for Cantwell to do the dirty work of resisting and overcoming the Republican villains?

When she's demonstrated that she voted to support dirty work in the first place?

I'll say it again, I'm not a Democrat first and a patriotic civic-minded American citizen second.

And there are no lines to read between here.

I do not endorse Maria Cantwell who hesitates and has lost for herself and for all of us more than we can measure.

I do endorse Mark Wilson.


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