Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sgt Matt Maupin- RIP

The final knock on the door came to Batavia, OH this morning. The first knock came nearly 4 years ago, early in the war on April 9, 2003, and that first knock on the door told Carolyn & Keith Maupin that their son had been captured and was missing in Iraq.

Four long years of hope and prayers, good thoughts, good karma, and whatever allowed them to hold on to something, anything that would bring their son home alive. It's not the news that they wanted or maybe even expected, and Matt's father said probably the only thing a parent could say, "My heart sinks, but I know they can't hurt him anymore.

The AP reported tonight Matt Maupin was a 20-year-old private first class when he was captured April 9, 2004, after his fuel convoy, part of the 724th Transportation Company, was ambushed west of Baghdad.

A week later, the Arab television network Al-Jazeera aired a videotape showing Maupin sitting on the floor surrounded by five masked men holding automatic rifles.

That June, Al-Jazeera aired another tape purporting to show a U.S. soldier being shot. But the dark and grainy tape showed only the back of the victim's head and not the actual shooting.

The Maupins refused to believe it was their son, and the Army had listed him as missing-captured. The Maupins lobbied hard for the Army to continue listing their son as missing-captured, fearing that another designation would undermine efforts to find him.

Keith Maupin said the Army told him early on that there was only a 50 percent chance his son would be found alive. He said he doesn't hold the Army responsible for his son's death, but that he did hold the Army responsible for bringing his son home.

"I told them when we'd go up to the Pentagon, whether he walks off a plane or is carried off, you're not going to leave him in Iraq like you did those guys in Vietnam," Maupin said.

Another piece of my heart died tonight when I heard the terrible news. I cannot imagine these 4 years of hell for the Maupin family. At least when Ken was killed in Iraq 4 years ago, I knew that he was dead. I knew he was never coming back, it was final. What kind of cruel karmic twist is it to not know of your child's circumstances for 4 years? I imagine the Army will tell them the details they have, but I wonder if they, like the family of Pat Tillman will ever know the truth.

I met Carolyn & Keith Maupin the first time 3 years ago at Rolling Thunder at the Pentagon on Memorial Day weekend. They were distributing this photo pin of Matt so that people would be reminded that this war/ occupation has left us with soldiers Missing in Action or as they call them now, DUSTWUN (Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown). The pin has been hanging on my mirror in my bedroom, so I would think of Matt and his family every single day hoping that good news would arrive that day. The photo is inscribed "Love Never Loses it's Way Home". This story did not end the way we wished, but Matt is coming home, finally and the waiting is mercifully over. My condolences to the Maupin family and the friends who knew Matt and those who just knew of him.

Most people would be surprised to know that there are 3 other members of the military Missing in Action in Iraq. We should not forget Ahmed Qusai al-Taei: Status - missing-captured (23-Oct-2006), Spc. Alex R. Jimenez: Status - missing-captured
(12-May-2007), Pvt. Byron W. Fouty: Status - missing-captured 12-May-2007. Between 1900 - 2500 members of the military from the Viet Nam war are still listed as MIA. I'm sure a piece of their hearts died today when they heard the news about Matt. My thoughts are with all of these families, too, on this sad night. We will not forget.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Real Meaning of 4,000 Dead

We would do well to read Lt Walsh's words-

By Lieut. Sean Walsh
The passing of the 4,000th service member in Iraq is a tragic milestone and a testament to the cost of this war, but for those of us who live and fight in Iraq, we measure that cost in smaller, but much more personal numbers. For me those numbers are 8, the number of friends and classmates killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 3, the number of soldiers from my unit killed in this deployment. I'm 25, yet I've received more notifications for funerals than invitations to weddings.

The number 4,000 is too great to grasp even for us that are here in Iraq. When we soldiers read the newspaper, the latest AP casualty figures are glanced over with the same casual interest as a box score for a sport you don't follow. I am certain that I am not alone when I open up the Stars and Stripes, the military's daily paper, and immediately search for the section with the names of the fallen to see if they include anyone I know. While in a combat outpost in southwest Baghdad, it was in that distinctive bold Arial print in a two-week-old copy of the Stars and Stripes that I read that my best friend had been killed in Afghanistan. No phone call from a mutual friend or a visit to his family. All that had come and gone by the time I had learned about his death. I sometimes wonder, if I hadn't picked up that paper, how much longer I would have gone by without knowing — perhaps another day, perhaps a week or longer until I could find the time and the means to check my e-mail to find my messages unanswered and a death notification from a West Point distro list in my inbox. The dead in Afghanistan don't seem to inspire the keeping of lists the same way that those in Iraq do, but even if they did it wouldn't matter; he could only be number 7 to me.

I'm not asking for pity, only understanding for the cost of this war. We did, after all, volunteer for the Army and that is the key distinction between this army and the army of the Vietnam War. But even as I ask for that understanding I'm almost certain that you won't be able to obtain it. Even Shakespeare, with his now overused notion of soldiers as a "band of brothers," fails to capture the bonds, the sense of responsibility to each other, among soldiers. In many ways, Iraq has become my home (by the time my deployment ends I will have spent more time here than anywhere else in the army) and the soldiers I share that home with have become my family. Between working, eating and sleeping within a few feet of the same soldiers every single day, I doubt I am away from them for more than two hours a day. I'm engaged to the love of my life, but it will take several years of marriage before I've spent as much time with her as I have with the men I serve with today.

For the vast majority of Americans who don't have a loved one overseas, the only number they have to attempt to grasp the Iraq War is 4,000. I would ask that when you see that number, try to remember that it is made up of over 1 million smaller numbers; that every one of the 1 million service members who have fought in Iraq has his or her own personal numbers. Over 1 million 8's and 3's. When you are evaluating the price of the war, weighing potential rewards versus cost in blood and treasure, I would ask you to consider what is worth the lives of three of your loved ones? Or eight? Or more? It would be a tragedy for my 8 and 3 to have died without us being able to complete our mission, but it maybe even more tragic for 8 and 3 to become anything higher.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

5th Anniversary on CNN Headline News

On the 5th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq I was invited to talk about my son, Lt Ken Ballard, who was killed in Najaf, Iraq on 5.30.2004 on CNN Headline News. I like talking about Ken so I accepted immediately. I was in a studio in Mountain View, CA and Mike Galanos, the host was in Atlanta, GA. It's always kind of strange to be sitting alone in a room, except for the camera operator, talking to the camera. I didn't see the final results until my friend, Mike, posted the excerpt on You Tube (thanks, Mike!)

You never know what you will be asked in an interview; the request is typically general, but you don't know specific questions. The initial request was We’d like to hear from parents who think enough children have already been lost. I'm one of those parents, Bring 'em home! NOW! That wasn't exactly how the conversation turned out, but it went fine.

I liked the part most of all when Mike Galanos said that he was glad to share in celebrating Ken's life; so was I.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

4,000 Dead for What?

I couldn't say it any better, so today I'm turning this over to Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post.

Four thousand

When U.S. military deaths in Iraq hit a round number, as happened Sunday, there's usually a week or so of intense focus on the war -- its bogus rationale, its nebulous aims, its awful consequences for the families of the dead. Not likely this time, though. The nation is too busy worrying about more acute crises, some of them real -- the moribund housing market, the teetering financial system, the flagging economy -- and some of them manufactured, such as the shocking revelation that race can still be a divisive issue in American society.

So the fact that 4,000 men and women serving in the U.S. armed forces have been killed in Iraq is somehow less compelling than the zillionth playing of snippets from a sermon that the Rev. Jeremiah Wright preached more than six years ago.

For now, that is: Sooner or later, attention is bound to turn back to the war and the stark choice voters will face in November.

It may happen sooner. A few weeks ago, it looked as if Iraq might be entering another cycle of headline-grabbing violence. Now, the increase in mayhem is clear. On Sunday alone, more than 60 people were killed in several incidents, including a car bombing. Insurgents even sent rockets crashing into Baghdad's ostensibly secure Green Zone, a rare occurrence. While the violence hasn't risen to the levels that prevailed at this time a year ago, when the country seemed to be coming apart, it is clear that both civilian and military deaths are on the rise.

Dick Cheney, who in 2005 told us that the insurgency was "in the last throes, if you will," was asked last week about polls showing that two-thirds of Americans don't think the fight in Iraq is worth it. Cheney's response: "So?"

At least Cheney was being candid, if breathtakingly arrogant. He and George W. Bush have never cared what the American people think about this elective war. A little bamboozling was necessary at the beginning -- overblown claims about weapons of mass destruction, mushroom clouds and being "greeted as liberators" by smiling Iraqi children. Once that hurdle was surmounted, and once Saddam Hussein's government had been destroyed, there was essentially nothing anyone could do to force the Bush administration to bring the war to an end.

Let me revise that, since on three counts it's not quite accurate. First, the war did end once, an occasion Bush marked nearly five years ago in his "Mission Accomplished" speech; according to Associated Press, 97 percent of the 4,000 U.S. military deaths in Iraq came after Bush stood on the deck of that aircraft carrier and declared major combat operations over. Second, we keep calling this conflict a war, but it's really an occupation, though the Bush administration doesn't like to use that word; it must not test well with focus groups. Third, the American people did what they could by snatching control of Congress from the Republicans. But even if Democrats in the House had the political will to end the occupation by cutting off funding, they don't have the 60 votes they would need in the Senate.

That's how we arrived at 4,000. And from the way John McCain talks, there's no telling what round-number milestones we'd have to mark if he were to become president.

On Iraq, McCain vows to continue the occupation as long as it takes for the United States to win. Like Bush and Cheney, he is quick to define any kind of withdrawal as defeat, but he makes no real attempt to describe what victory would look like. He at least realizes that the repressive and ambitious government of Iran has been the real beneficiary of the Bush administration's blundering in Iraq -- but the way he talks about Iran is just plain frightening.

The 71-year-old McCain's recent misstatement that al-Qaeda terrorists were being aided by the Iranian regime -- quickly corrected by Sen. Joseph Lieberman in a whispered aside -- might have been simply a senior moment. Or it might have reflected an intention to do something precipitous about Iran's growing stature in the region. Either way, scary.

It's understandable that Americans are riveted by the most exciting presidential nomination campaign in decades. It's natural that they're worried about the shrinking value of their homes and their 401(k) plans. Come the fall, though, they're going to have to decide on Iraq: Bring the troops home, as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton both say they will do. Or keep them in, as McCain pledges -- and watch the numbers continue to rise.

The cost of the isn't just dollars and cents

Hat tip to Dusty at OOIBC for one of the great posts from the March 19th Blogswarm:

Sunday, March 23, 2008

4000 US Deaths in Iraq

In our 6th year of military operations in Iraq, we knew this day would come, we knew this number would come. 4000. Any death from Iraq is unacceptable, but to hear the announcement of the 4000th US death in Iraq on Easter, a day of joyous celebration, is an affront, one of those karmic ironies that should not happen.

This deathwatch started ticking on March 21, 2003 with 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 dead American soldiers. Jose Antonio Gutierrez, Kendall Damon Waters-Day, Brian Matthew Kennedy, Ryan Anthony Beaupre, Jay Thomas Aubin, Therrel Shane Childers were the first to die in Iraq. Why was this country not offended by the death of these 6 soldiers, these sons, brothers, fathers, friends? What number of deaths is okay or acceptable? We know 6 was okay. We know that 818, my son, Lt Ken Ballard's number from back in May 2004 was okay. If people don't take to the streets or write their Congressperson, or do something about ending this war and ending these deaths, then we know that 4000 US deaths is also okay. I don't know what number is unacceptable to the citizens of this country, but I do know that any number more than zero is unacceptable for a war based on lies. The 44th president will determine what number is acceptable. If military operations continue for 100 more years, as one candidate has suggested, we can only imagine what that number will be.

Some might wonder if the 4000th death is more notable than the 3999th, Morten Ender, a US Military Academy sociaologist who studies the military says "4000 is a good round number people can grab hold of, it reminds us of what's going on with a war that, since the (military's troop) surge, seems to have lost its place in the public mind" .

With the American media and public paying less attention than ever, marking this grievous milestone should put the occupation in Iraq back on the front page for at least one news cycle. It's the least we can do for the military who continue to be in harms way. Regardless of our politics, these men and women are occupying a country in our name. They need to know that they have the support of the people back at home, you know, support the warrior even if you don't support the war. It's a slap in their faces if we don't at least acknowledge their presence and the service to their country. With such a small percentage who do serve in the military, about 1% of the US population, we must remember that they serve.

The fear of any Gold Star family member, who has lost a loved one while serving in the military, is that their loved one will be forgotten. We Gold Star families can and will never forget and neither should our population. If only for this reason, we should mark this sad milestone.

According to USA Today, of the 4000 members of the military, one in six were too young to buy a beer. About two dozen were old enough for an AARP card. Eleven died on Thanksgiving Day, 11 on Christmas, and at least five on their birthdays.

Tonight 160,000 US families marked their Easter Sunday with an empty seat at their table because their loved ones are deployed to Iraq. 8 of those families do not even know that the life that they woke up to this morning is over. One roadside bomb, one IED 6000 miles away took care of their future and in one knock on the door, they will hear the words that every military family fears, "I regret to inform you".

My heart goes out to these families who have joined the ranks of other Gold Star Families. No one wants to be in this club. We can make sure their are no more Gold Star families. What will you do today to stop this occupation?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

5 Damned Long years in Iraq

Back in 1967 Martin Luther King was speaking about the war in Viet Nam when he said “I oppose the war because I love America. I speak out against this war, not in anger, but with anxiety and sorrow in my heart, and, above all, with a passionate desire to see our beloved country stand as the moral example of the world. It is so in 2008.

Here we are again- 5 years of war in Iraq! 5 long years! 3990 dead American soldiers, 60,000 plus wounded American soldiers, millions of Iraqis displaced, and we will never know how many Iraqis have died in this war turned occupation of their country. We are spending $12 Billion dollars a month, $17 million dollars every hour and $275 million dollars a day. We know that 935 lies were told by various members of the administration that instills fear so that the citizens of this country would support this Global War on Terror in Iraq. That’s quite a lot of numbers to keep track of; but the best number of all is 307 and that is the number of days left until January 19, 2009, which means, we will be free of the dangerous, fear mongering Bush administration.

Today on the 5th anniversary of the invasion into Iraq, donning his rose colored glasses again, Bush told employees at the Pentagon, "War critics can no longer credibly argue that we are losing in Iraq," and "No one would argue that this war has not come at a high cost in lives and treasure, but those costs are necessary,". The war has come at a high cost, indeed, but the financial costs were not necessary, the psychological costs were not necessary and the human costs were never necessary; not for the United States and not for Iraq. Cheney says the US will complete the mission in Iraq, but that doesn’t mean any more today than when he said the same thing in 2003.

5 years ago, in 2003, most Americans did not have to be touched by the war unless you were sucked in by the rush to the glory of war as this country was wrapped in the American flag by Fox news and other corporate media. In 2008, you still do not have to be touched by the war. When Bush proclaims that America is at war, he ignores the fact that it is the 1% of this country who carries the burden of war, the military and their families. Military families bear the burden of repeated deployments, PTSD, increased rates of divorce, deployments for those with existing physical and psychological injuries and suicides at an alarming rate. But for most people, life goes on normally. This administration likes it that way just fine.

Instead of Bush going quietly at the end of his presidency, he continues to offend us with his vetoes, his threats and his smirks. We just wish he would just go away. We wish we could wake up from this national nightmare and find that these past 7 years have been a bad, bad dream. But we know better and we have much to do to repair the damage. When did the US become known for torture, spying & lying? When did the US lose our standing in the world? When did PEACE become a bad word?

If this president is clueless about the concept of a $4 gallon of gasoline, then how can we be surprised when he says speaking to members of the military in Afghanistan just this Friday, "I must say, I'm a little envious," "If I were slightly younger and not employed here, I think it would be a fantastic experience to be on the front lines helping this young democracy succeed. "It must be exciting for you ... in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger. You're really making history." George Bush has really got to go!

We have marched, written letters, sent faxes, held meetings, made phone calls, and this week as we enter the 6th year of this occupation, we will continue to do the same until the troops come home. If we do not, if we remain silent, then those in Washington will think that we do not care about the carnage being done in our good name or the $3 Trillion dollars being spent. BUT, we do care. The truth is, if ending the occupation in Iraq was a priority in Washington and around the world, our troops would be home! Our voices must make it a priority.

I am not so naïve as to think that any of the presidential candidates will really bring the troops home, not to our definition anyway. So we must remind them. OFTEN.

While we can all pretty much agree that this Congress has not produced what we asked, consider what they might have not done without our voices? We ARE their conscience! Back in November of 2000, I stayed up late watching the election returns much like watching an automobile accident unfold. As you might recall, it was morbidly fascinating. When it was finally announced that George Bush would be the 43rd president of the United States, I remember thinking, “well, really how bad could it be? The term is only 4 years, how much damage can he do? Surely he will surround himself with experience people” And he did, but that would turn out to be a defining moment and the worst election of my life. I didn’t know it, but that November decision made by the Supreme Court laid the path to my role as a Gold Star Mother.

As for Ken, I miss him every minute of every day. When Ken was killed, people told me it would get better. They were wrong; it is different, but life without Ken will never be better. As a friend described Ken at his memorial, There was "no secret icing on the cake, just a plain, honest man . . . who would get crazy every so often.'' As a single mom, Ken was my north star, my grounding. But when Ken died, so did my future. We Gold Star families are the human cost of this war. We are left behind to pick up the pieces of our broken lives. We will go on with our lives, but there will always be a part of our heart that is a desperately empty black hole.

For those people who still think it would be a “travesty for everyone who has lost their lives to just pull out of Iraq”, I say it would be a travesty to lose more lives. I wouldn’t wish this life on anyone.

They say you do not get something if you don’t ask for it, so I am going to ask that you stay engaged in this movement to end the war as Iraq fatigue settles in and fades from the front page. Let Congress hear our voices. Someday they may really, really understand that the American people will stand with them, if they stand with the American people. They do not have to continue funding this war to show us that they support the troops. They are not unpatriotic because they want to bring this war to an end and to bring the troops home.

Five years of this war in Iraq is long enough, continuing it for one more day is just wrong. Bring the troops and the subcontractors home now!

This posting is a part of the March 19 Iraq War Blogswarm. Please wander over and see what others are saying about this sad anniversary.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan

These are the times that try men's souls. The summertime soldier and the sunshine patriot will in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.
Thomas Paine

If you did not listen to or watch the Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan, Eyewitness Accounts of the Occupations over the weekend you missed some compelling testimony on what has and is going on in our names in Iraq and Afghanistan. Members of Iraq Veterans Against the War, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out, and Gold Star Families Speak Out attended the panels at Winter Soldier. As I listened to these young men and women, many of whom I have met along the way, I was proud to know them and proud that they stood up and told their truth. As difficult as it was for us to hear their stories, it was difficult for them to tell them and we owe them much gratitude. We must listen to their stories and not just gloss over their service as one of a hero, although surely many of these members of the military were indeed heroic. In her closing statement, Kelly Dougherty, co-founder nd Executive Director of Iraq Veterans Against the War said "It's not about the individual, it's about the occupation." The testimony of all of these veterans and active duty military should be required listening for every member of Congress and every American.

My friends Kevin & Joyce Lucey, fellow members of Gold Star Families Speak Out provided remarkable testimony about the suicide of their son, Jeffrey who had fought PTSD with no support from the VA. The Lucey's are suing the Department of Veterans affairs arguing the VA was negligent in caring for their son. A VA Inspector General’s Report notes VA officials turned Jeffrey Lucey a few days before he took his own life. The Lucey's are a class act and hearing their story makes me cry every time.

My friend Jeff Key spoke during the "Divide To Conquer: Gender and Sexuality in the Military" Panel. Jeff wears one of Ken's dog tags that I gave him a few years back when we first met.

I know how hard it is to get up in front of a crowd and tell your story. It is part of our healing, or at least moving forward. If we don't say something, if we don't tell people our story, then other families, other soldiers, will suffer as we do. If our voice can help one family, one soldier, then our own grief is benefiting others.

It was fitting that these hearings were held during the week of the fifth anniversary of Shock & Awe, or the invasion of Iraq. The corporate media gave little attention to this powerful testimony; they apparently do not find this newsworthy. The Stars & Stripes, a daily newspaper published for the U.S. military wrote briefly about the weekend. On the first night of the hearings in Washington DC, Nightline featured segments on the Girls-Gone-Wild guy, Joe Francis and singer Meatloaf; that's infotainment for you.

And a final note to Ronn Cantu, an active duty member of IVAW, Happy 30th Birthday to you. Because of your testimony, other soldiers will come home and celebrate their 3oth birthdays, unlike my son, who did not. We celebrated my son, Lt Ken Ballard's 30th birthday in memoriam last year because he was killed in Iraq nearly 4 years ago when he was 26.

Audio clips are available at The War Comes Home, a project of KPFA radio.
Complete Broadcast Archive, from Mar. 14, 2008 Part 1, Part 2 | Mar. 15, 2008 Part 1, Part 2 | Mar. 16, 2008 Part 1, Part 2.

Iraq Fax-in

Thanks to Bob Fertick at for getting the word out about the Iraq Fax-in. Frequently people cannot participate in rallys, vigils, or phone calls because they are working or are too far away to participate. There must be a way for those concerned to communicate with their members of Congress about their feelings on the occupation in Iraq. This fax-in is a good idea and easy to execute. However we can get the message to Washington about our demand to bring the troops home is a good thing, especially if it happens on the Fifth Anniversary of Shock & Awe.

March 19 marks the 5th Anniversary of Bush's disastrous invasion and occupation of Iraq - yet there is no end in sight.

The costs so far are staggering: 4,000 young Americans killed, tens of thousands maimed... 1 million Iraqis killed, millions maimed... $562 billion in tax dollars stolen from our children... $3 trillion cost to our economy through veterans care, weapons replacement, higher oil prices, and the collapsing dollar. All that in just 5 years!

We elected a Democratic Congress in 2006 to bring our troops home, but they keep giving Bush blank checks. Incredibly, Congress will soon vote on another $102 billion blank check.

On this 5th Anniversary, it is time for everyone who hates this occupation to do something about it. And we're making it as simple and effective as we can.

We're calling it a Fax-In. It's like a sit-in, only you can do it from home.

1. Fax an image to Congress that visually expresses how you feel about the endless occupation of Iraq. We've posted a few ideas here, but we welcome all of yours (post thumbnails please with link to original).

Just print it out in black & white and make sure it's readable enough to go through a fax.

Make a simple cover page with your name(s), street address, email address, and the number of years you have voted. Write a brief message explaining the image you chose and why you want to bring our troops home. It's easiest if you do this in your word processor and save the document (see below).

In big thick letters, write "" on the cover page and the image itself.

Look up the fax (and phone) numbers of your Representative and Senators by entering your address on the right side here:
or use this directory:

2. Email your Representatives by signing our "Out of Iraq" petition on the right side here:

As you fill out the form, copy/paste your fax cover message (see above) into the "personal message" box.

This will accomplish several goals:

a. Tally how many people participate - we really need a million or more!
b. Let you forward this message to your friends.
c. Let your Representatives respond to you easily via email.

3. Share with your "personal message" and other thoughts on this effort by copy/pasting it as a comment reply here (login required):

4. Spread the word about this effort through other blogs, social networks like Facebook, talk radio, etc. Just tell everyone to visit

Polls show over 60% of Americans believe the war in Iraq wasn't worth fighting. That translates to 140 million Americans!

If we can get just 1 out of 100 Americans who oppose the war to join our fax-in, that's 1.4 million people.

So please participate - and pass this on to everyone you know who doesn't want to waste one more soldier, civilian, or dollar in Iraq.

As always, thanks for all you do.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Dear Hillary - Campaign ads

Dear Hillary-

I've been thinking about that ad of yours asking who would the American people prefer answering the White house phone at 3 a.m. It really didn't work for me. It felt like you took a page out of the fear mongering Republican play book. Frankly, I think most Americans are tired of that game. You may have won some people over but not me (again/still).

That "red phone" ad that your campaign put out just before the March Super Tuesday, starts out with "It's 3 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep"; you know the one. That part about our children being safe, well, that's my first problem because my child isn't asleep, he's dead and buried at Arlington Cemetery with more than 400 other members of the military who have died in Operation Iraqi Freedom since March 2003.

Remember, back in October 2002, you voted in favor of the Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq. Even as recently as January 2008, you defended your vote saying that Chuck Hagel, who helped to draft the resolution said, 'It was not a vote for war,'

"Chuck said" is your explanation? Come on- while that may have been your excuse, it's a bit disingenuous to continue to use that as the reason you authorized this President to go to war.

This isn't about Chuck Hagel; by all accounts he is a good man. But with the most important, consequential decision you will ever make in your life; a vote that would impact our country, the lives and deaths of our military, our standing in the world, and you took the word of a colleague? Hillary, you had access to the full NIE report that might have given you insight into what this administration had in mind with regards to the march into the middle east. I know that only a handful of Senators actually looked at the complete document, but that's no excuse especially as you now claim, your judgment about matters of security would be better than those of your opponent.

It's tragic, really. This human and strategic tragedy that defines the War on Terror in Iraq. Nearly 4000 US casualties, 30,000 plus US injuries, some, with lifetime consequences. We cannot say how many Iraqi casualties or injuries, because that isn't something the administration let's us know or talk about. We know that more than 4 million Iraqis have been displaced and that alone would make this continued occupation wrong.

Hillary, you said yes to the war in Iraq when you should have said NO. While you still defend the vote, I find it indefensible. Apologize if you think your yes vote was wrong. I just don't think that you think it is. I don't know if I trust that you would make the right decision should that vote come up for Iran or whoever ends up on the US axis of terror list. Don't worry, I won't be voting for John McCain, he's more of a hawk than you could ever be. His 100 year plan in Iraq; well, that's just over the top and I definitely do not want him answering the phone in the White House.

Hillary, if that 3 a.m. ad was part of the "kitchen sink" campaign to win primary voters; I think it's time to get a new kitchen sink. You are better than that and those kinds of ads are just not necessary. An apology for your vote to authorize the war, however, is necessary.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

John McCain's Message