Monday, June 23, 2008

Rewriting Iraq War History

James Risen, a Pulitzer Prize winning author who wrote "State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration." writes in the Washington Independent about "The Return of the Neocons, Bush Hawks Aggressively Working to Rewrite Accepted Iraq War History"
Ever since the Rumsfeld era at the Pentagon ended abruptly in the aftermath of the Democratic victory in the 2006 mid-term elections, the civilian hawks who ruled the Defense Dept. during the early years of the Iraq war have remained largely silent. They have not engaged publicly even as their culpability for the Iraq war's myriad failures has congealed into accepted wisdom.

Poor Doug Feith, the Pentagon team and his own historical standing is being damaged.
“It caused enormous damage to me personally,” Feith said. “I wasn’t in a position to contradict false and damaging things said about me.”
Feith will never understand “enormous personal damage” until he loses a child in a war that should never have happened and to which he holds personal & professional blame.

As a Gold Star mother, (my son, Lt Ken Ballard, was KIA in May 2004) I have no sympathy for the likes of Feith (or Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rice, Perle et al). Feith’s efforts to rewrite history are an insult to the country, but mostly to the military; the boots on the ground who acted on the orders of their commander-in chief. Fortunately, there are sufficient witnesses to this hideous chapter in our country's history to keep him from gaining any traction to his convenient 20-20 recall and we will not be silent.

Notwithstanding my hopes for all of them to sit in judgment at the Hague, the least I can ask is that the lot of them live a miserable life until the heat of Hell is hot enough to accept them for eternity. Even that might be too good for them.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Women Warriors

CBS News does a pretty good job in keeping veteran's issues on the front page. They've done stories about veteran's suicide, the GI Bill, veterans deaths by accidental drug overdose, and the unthinkably horrible conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC.

On Thursday evening, the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric will air a story about Women Veterans.

By the year 2020, one in five veterans under the age of 45 will be women. Currently, women make up about 15 percent of the active duty forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

CBS News is taking a look at this growing group of women warriors, female soldiers returning with wounds of war. How do they adjust to civilian life as women with disabilities? And, is the VA system prepared to treat women with the same quality of care it has given men for decades?

CBS News Correspondent Kelly Wallace visited the VA's D.C. Medical Center and met with the experts grappling with those issues. She also interviewed four women veterans who told compelling stories about how their lives have changed since returning from war.

"Chicks love scars. I heard that all the time at Walter Reed," said Army SPC Diane Cochran (Ret.). "Well, do guys love scars?"

In a war with no front lines, combat wounds aren't just a badge of honor for the boys.

Of the 1.7 million troops who have deployed in support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, more than 190,000 — or about 11 percent — are women.

Most people in this country still do not have to be touched by the war and it's effects unless they choose to be. It's no longer just Johnny marching home; Jane is marching home, too. As these young women come home to middle America, broken from war, we will see how we deal with their "badge of honor of combat wounds". It's not pretty, but war isn't Hollywood and it certainly isn't pretty. These women stood up for this country and it's citizens; we must stand up for them, as well.

6.19.08-UPDATE: Here is the report

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Making Her-story!

Editorial (from the San Jose Mercury News): Today belongs to couple, married at last after 50 years.

Congratulations and happiness to you, Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon.

Best wishes, too, to hundreds of barrier-busting couples who will take marriage vows at secular courthouse altars across the state. The first ceremonies in Santa Clara County are today. For now - and, we hope, forever - may your same-sex marriages be sanctioned by the state of California.

Last night marked the start of a new wedding season as dozens of gay and lesbian couples were married. But the evening belonged to Martin and Lyon, octogenarians who tied the knot in San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's office. Longtime advocates of lesbian rights, Martin and Lyon have lived together for 50-plus years.

Their enduring, loving relationship is a model for others, gay or straight. It honors what marriage is intended to promote: monogamy.

In coming months, leading to a November initiative that would overturn the court decision sanctioning same-sex marriages, there will be impassioned rhetoric and protests. But there will also be celebrations by neighbors and co-workers. Many marriages will be by couples in their 30s, 40s and 50s who have lived together for years.

They will offer a human face to the polemics, and, we hope, persuade voters not to use the ballot box to deny them joy and respect.

I'm Voting Republican

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

It's Not Too Important

We got a a one-two punch from Team McBush this week. First the President confessed his regrets about statements he made about the Iraq War. If only he had such introspection before he engaged his mouth and our military. Regardless of his sincerity (and I'm not buying it), it still hurts to know that the commander in chief of our military admits that he could have approached the war better.

And second, John McCain proved beyond a shadow of a doubt today that his presidency would continue the Bush policies in an interview with Matt Lauer on the Today Show. Lauer asked McCain about bringing the troops home, to which he responded "That's not too important; what's important is the casualties in Iraq." McCain went on to compare the troop situation in Iraq to that in South Korea, Japan and Germany, which is an insult to anyone who has stepped onto the sands of Iraq and into harms way for any amount of time.

Let's hear it from the horses mouth.

Doesn't the military deserve a commander in chief who actually supports the them and not give them a life sentence rotating in and out of hell. The troops are either heading back to Iraq or they're heading home, rinse, lather, repeat. McCain has not defined the mission in Iraq any better than his evil twin in the White House, so I'm not sure how he defines success either. Despite McCain's protestations, it sounds as if it wouldn't bother him at all to keep the troops in Iraq for another 100 years.

John Mc Cain has sold out the military more times than he has supported them. Veterans for Common Sense sums it up nicely with a listing of McCain's voting record on veteran's issues.
John McCain is yet another republican former military veteran who likes to talk a big game when it comes to having the support of the military. Yet, time and time again, he has gone out of his way to vote against the needs of those who are serving in our military. If he can’t even see his way to actually doing what the troops want, or what the veterans need, and he doesn’t have the support of veterans, then how can he be a credible commander in chief?
Alot of people, including the corporate media are giving John McCain a free pass on foreign policy because of his military service. When John McCain speaks, people listen, and mostly do not question when he speaks about military policies. Extending the benefit of the doubt solely because of one's military service does not guarantee success . Should we not have learned this from our current president's service?

Brandon Friedman from Vote Vets properly states "We respect John McCain's service and all we ask in return is that he respect ours". The vets who served in Iraq, spent more than a day or two strolling through a Baghdad marketplace and experienced all that was thrown at them for months at a time. It's time we respect their service and bring them home responsibly now. It couldn't be more important.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Regrets? I've got a few

It's a bit late for regrets, but George Bush never was known for his timing or his sincerity. Regardless, in his farewell tour of Europe, he seems to think the UK was a safe place to let down his Frat Boy in Chief bravado. Introspection is good for the soul and indeed a sign of leadership, which explains why Bush is the person he is.

In an exclusive interview with the TimesOnline out of the UK, Bush
expressed regret at the bitter divisions over the war and said that he was troubled about how his country had been misunderstood. “I think that in retrospect I could have used a different tone, a different rhetoric.”

Phrases such as “bring them on” or “dead or alive”, he said, “indicated to people that I was, you know, not a man of peace”. He said that he found it very painful “to put youngsters in harm’s way”. He added: “I try to meet with as many of the families as I can. And I have an obligation to comfort and console as best as I possibly can. I also have an obligation to make sure that those lives were not lost in vain.”

President Bush has admitted to The Times that his gun-slinging rhetoric made the world believe that he was a “guy really anxious for war” in Iraq. He said that his aim now was to leave his successor a legacy of international diplomacy for tackling Iran.

George Bush told People Magazine "I'm sleeping a lot better than people would assume", so it's highly unlikely that he found it very painful “to put youngsters in harm’s way”, and anyway as long as it wasn't his youngsters, it will never be that painful enough.

Bush has met with approximately 10% of families of the fallen, which I would not consider meeting "as many families as he can". You don't need to dig too deeply to find that the majority of families of the fallen that he meets continue to support his failed policies even while support among military families is falling (six out of every 10 military families disapprove of Bush's job performance and the way he has run the war, rating him only slightly better than the general population does.) . These families of the fallen, think the war needs to continue in some misplaced attempt to allow their loved ones to "not die in vain". I couldn't disagree more. How can more bloodshed in this endless occupation honor the life and death of my son, 1Lt Ken Ballard?

Bush has already left his successor a legacy that will require diplomacy, creativity, curiosity, tenacity and intelligence, all traits that he lacks, to undo all the wrongs of his administration. He should not do one more thing to "tackle Iran". He should just sit in a corner quietly and do nothing for the next 222 days. We could do worse than that.

Bush should save his regrets and see if they get him through the Pearly Gates, because they are wasted on me. As for my regrets? I've got a few.....
  • That 4094 US casualties, including my son and will never come home to their families because of George Bush's war.
  • That 30,000 US wounded will bear the scars of war forever and the government who sent them to war can't seem to care less about them once they return home.
  • That we will never know the number of suicides of Iraq war vets and that Ira Katz and Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs Gordon Mansfield still hold their jobs at the VA.
  • That it took this country 7+ years to really understand how bad of a president #43 is.
  • That 28% of this country still approves of the job Bush is doing. Who are these people?
  • That Bush thinks in any way that he is a "man of peace". Not in this lifetime, not in any lifetime will that describe him.
need I continue?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

McClellan's walk from the dark side

It's kind of nice to see someone walk away from the dark side. Whether Scott McClellan is "disgruntled about his experience at the White House" as Dana Perino, spokesmodel for the White House says, or whether he finally saw that loyalty only works one way for George Bush and his cronies, we can't say. Scott McClellan still has to get up every morning and face himself in the mirror. Who he sees is who he has to live with for the rest of his life. If there is any karma, the devil is still staring back at him.

I'm not sure we will ever know why McClellan wrote the book, was it an attempt to wash the blood off his hands or a "desire to understand the truth" as he explains it? Regardless of what he writes in his book, his role at the White House and his participation in perpetuating the campaign to go to war and continue it will never allow his hands to be clean of the blood of casualties related to the Iraq war.

McClellan is no different than Colin Powell, George Tenet, Paul Bremer and any others who now proclaim that they were lied to, or whatever 20-20 hindsight explanation they have for not speaking out until that book advance was waved in front of them. Their complicity is sickening and their much delayed "truth" can never bring back any of the military or civilians who so grievously suffer with the silence. These men who purport themselves as truthtellers, delayed as it may be, are no less war profiteers than KBR, Halliburton, CACI and any others who are making a buck off the backs of the military. Why they did not stand up when they knew the truth is a question they alone can answer. Their special place in hell is waiting for them.

The shock and offense from Bush's inner circle might be amusing if the subject wasn't so serious.
Based on those severe & sanctimonious reactions from the White House and those in the Bush inner circle, I wonder how many books will be purchased by those who still support the President? Those 19% seem forever committed to this president and his spin. For those of us who have been against the war, isn't the book a bit of preaching to the choir?

Karl Rove accused Scott McClellan of sounding like a left wing blogger. I had to laugh, but what's wrong with that? Rove makes being a left wing blogger sound like it's a bad thing, but I think McClellan is finally in good company with the truth.

The unwritten code for White House press secretaries has been that they should keep their mouths shut regardless of what they know and when they knew it. "I guess that last vestige of decency is gone," said Ari Fleischer, who was Bush's first press secretary. Ahh, decency. Decency seems misplaced when applied to describe an administration that is clearly incapable of anything close to decency. Wouldn't it have been the decent thing to do to be forthright with the military and the country about the reasons to invade Iraq? Wouldn't it be the decent thing for the president to meet with ALL Gold Star families, regardless of their politics?

Fleischer said it would have been more "honorable" if McClellan had stepped down, for instance, after the incident involving the leaking of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity to the news media. The words "decency" and "honorable" should never pass through the lips of Ari Fleischer. If he is demanding those traits of McClelland, why not also demand the same of members of this administration and himself?

McCllellan offers a story of Bush being affected at a meeting with the family of an injured troop.

...recounts Bush's unwillingness or inability to come up with a mistake he had made when asked by a reporter to do so.

"It became symbolic of a leader unable to acknowledge that he got it wrong, and unwilling to grow in office by learning from his mistake — too stubborn to change and grow," McClellan concluded.

A page later, he recounts what he perceived as a moment of doubt by a president who never expresses any. It occurred in a dimly lit room at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, a room where an injured Texas veteran was being watched over by his wife and 7-year-old son as Bush arrived.

The vet's head was bandaged and "he was clearly not aware of his surroundings, the brain injury was severe," McClellan recalled. Bush hugged the wife, told the boy his dad was brave and kissed the injured vet's head while whispering 'God bless you' into his ear.

"Then he turned and walked toward the door," McClellan wrote. "Looking straight ahead, he moved his right hand to wipe away a tear. In that moment, I could see the doubt in his eyes and the vivid realization of the irrevocable consequences of his decision."

But, he added, such moments are more than counterbalanced by deceased warriors' families who urge him to make sure the deaths were not in vain.

If Bush ever met with deceased warrior's families who do not support his war turned occupation, he would know that we would urge him to make sure no other deaths occur in our loved ones names. Additional deaths do not honor our loved ones. McClellan should know that now.

As much as Scott McClellan has opened his kimono and showed us much of what he experienced in the White House, I question his loyalties when he says he retains great admiration and respect for Bush. But, how? "Great Admiration & respect" for a man he admitted took this country into a war that was unnecessary. "Great Admiration & respect" for a man who has decimated the constitution and our personal freedoms? McClellan can't have it both ways, the terms "great admiration" and "respect" are wasted on people like George Bush.

McClellan offers no apology, merely an explanation of "what happened". What are the Gold Star Families, vets & their families, Joe Wilson, Valerie Plame, the residents of the Gulf States, and so many others who were betrayed by this administration supposed to do with the information included in this book? How are we supposed to process McClellan's confession of spin, stonewalling, hedging, evasion, denial, noncommunication and deceit by omission,'. We can't, plain and simple. McClellan's book was published too late for us, but if it prevents this kind of president or presidency ever again, that is one thing we can process.