Saturday, September 30, 2006

State of Denial

It is no surprise that Bob Woodward' s new book about the Bush presidency is called "State of Denial" and the administration goes full court press into that mode.

When asked about the book, Tony Snow said "You know, in a lot of ways, the book's sort of like cotton candy, it kind of melts on contact,"

The Undersecretary of State, Karen Hughes, comes to the defense of her buddy sitting in the White House and says "It may take decades to change anti-American feelings around the world that have been aggravated by war in Iraq, U.S. policy toward Israel and America's "sex and violence" She is in charge of dealing with the US image abroad, and she just might wonder what she did wrong to deserve that job. But she's laying the groundwork like all good members of this administration for a good old case of "I told you so" when indeed this ideological struggle does last for a long time as she says. "It's going to be the work of years and maybe decades." Here's a thought, Karen, maybe if we hadn't invaded Iraq in the first place, this ideological struggle just wouldn't be where it is today.

The National Intelligence Council released their latest National Intelligence Estimate earlier this year, but declassified key judgments from the report by 16 separate spy agencies who produced this first formal appraisal of global terrorism, were leaked this week. (Are we having fun yet?)
United States-led counterterrorism efforts have seriously damaged the leadership of al-Qa’ida and disrupted its operations; however, we judge that al-Qa’ida will continue to pose the greatest threat to the Homeland and US interests abroad by a single terrorist organization. We also assess that the global jihadist movement"— which includes al-Qa’ida, affiliated and independent terrorist groups, and emerging networks and cells—is spreading and adapting to counterterrorism efforts. We assess that the global jihadist movement is decentralized, lacks a coherent global strategy, and is becoming more diffuse. New jihadist networks and cells, with anti-American agendas, are increasingly likely to emerge. The confluence of shared purpose and dispersed actors will make it harder to find and undermine jihadist groups. Four underlying factors are fueling the spread of the jihadist movement: (1) Entrenched grievances, such as corruption, injustice, and fear of Western domination, leading to anger, humiliation, and a sense of powerlessness; (2) the Iraq “jihad;” (3) the slow pace of real and sustained economic, social, and political reforms in many Muslim majority nations; and (4) pervasive anti-US sentiment among most Muslims—all of which jihadists exploit.

AND pay close attention to this paragraph-

We judge that groups of all stripes will increasingly use the Internet to communicate, propagandize, recruit, train, and obtain logistical and financial support.
That last paragraph is scary for many reasons, the least of which is the President's Torture bill, or more formally The Military Commisions Act of 2006 or HR 6166, which was passed by the Senate this week. This bill does nothing to protect the nation from terrorists. Read it and weep; weep for the loss of our freedoms.

Alex Jones from summed up some of the more egregious sections.

Subsection 4(b) (26) of section 950v. of HR 6166 - Crimes triable by military commissions - includes the following definition.

"Any person subject to this chapter who, in breach of an allegiance or duty to the United States, knowingly and intentionally aids an enemy of the United States, or one of the co-belligerents of the enemy, shall be punished as a military commission under this chapter may direct."

For an individual to hold an allegiance or duty to the United States they need to be a citizen of the United States. Why would a foreign terrorist have any allegiance to the United States to breach in the first place?


Buried amongst the untold affronts to the Bill of Rights, the Constitution and the very spirit of America, the torture bill contains a definition of "wrongfully aiding the enemy" which labels all American citizens who breach their "allegiance" to President Bush and the actions of his government as terrorists subject to possible arrest, torture and conviction in front of a military tribunal

Bush's response to all of this? Critics who claim the Iraq war has made America less safe "buys into the enemy's propaganda that the terrorists attack us because we're provoking them." No George, we won't listen to your propaganda anymore. AND we will not be silent!
The Phillipines Daily Inquirer correctly calls the war in Iraq "this tragic, unnecessary detour in the war on terror" Part of the blame lies squarely on the shoulders of the White House. As we wrote three weeks ago: "From exclusivist language (Bush: You are either for us or against us) to breathtaking "‘short-termism"’ (no provision at all, in the original budget, for rehabilitation in Afghanistan) to massive disinformation (the conspiracy of lies to justify the invasion of Iraq) to murderous incompetence in the post-invasion years (disbandment of the Iraqi army, the hyping of al-Zarqawi), the Bush administration has managed to turn a righteous cause (unremitting defense of the values of freedom) into a perpetual campaign (narrow-minded, vicious-hearted) of the Republican Party."

But the most ominous statement that we heard this week was from Bob Woodward's book. He tells of a meeting that Bush had key Republicans to the White House to discuss Iraq, he told them, "I will not withdraw, even if Laura and Barney are the only ones supporting me. Despite the best advice by the most experienced military advisors (which he isn't listening to) this president is still going to stay his disastrous course. It's just wrong!

It really hasn't been a very good week.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Gold Star Mothers Day

In 1994, President Bill Clinton proclaimed the last Sunday in September to be Gold Star Mothers Day. He said that we should " honor women whose sons and daughters have pledged their lives to securing for all Americans the blessings of liberty. These mothers have made tremendous sacrifices, the most painful being the loss of their children, and deserve the respect and recognition of the nation."

Gold Star Mothers Day is not a Hallmark holiday to send flowers or cards. Gold Star Mothers Day 2006 should be a day for sober reflection about how President Bush set in place a new generation of Gold Star Mothers when he sent our children to fight his illegal war in Iraq. These new Gold Star Mothers will be his legacy as the War President, he proudly claims himself to be.

The current president says we must honor the sacrifices of fallen soldiers by completing the mission. How will more bloodshed and more dying honor my son, who was killed in Iraq more than 2 years ago? The president can prevent the creation of new Gold Star Mothers. It is time for this president to put ALL options on the table and make necessary and immediate changes to his disastrous course in Iraq. He can start by bringing the troops home now.

We will never forget our loved ones; they will live forever in our hearts. On Sunday, the citizens of this country must remember our sacrifice and consider the human cost of this war. That and our broken hearts are something that Gold Star Mothers live with forever.

I AM the proud Gold Star Mother of Lt Ken Ballard, KIA 5.30.04, Najaf, Iraq


There are 2700 US casualties in Iraq as of this writing.

13 families have not been notified. 13 families think their life is still normal and that their loved one is still coming home. They don't know their life has been turned upside down.They will spend the next several days waiting, signing forms, planning a funeral, and crashing into a military culture where their only connection may have been their loved one. They will hear terms like PNOK, KIA, DOW, and the only thing they want is their old life back.

The casualty numbers will click over to 2701, 2702, and so on and the media will not mark this number and neither will the general public. They probably won't notice because they don't have to. They may not think about this war today or tomorrow or next week, but we Gold Star Families do. Some politicians say it is wrong to use a milestone number like this to remind people of the continuing casualties and injuries; they say it is political. But this war is political regardless of where you stand on it, so I say if you don't think about this war except when a round number comes up, then today is your day.

I hate hearing about any casualty from this lousy war. I hate that George W Bush or anyone in his administration doesn't think about the human cost of this war and I am sorry for that.

I would like to offer my condolences to all the Gold Star Families regardless of their loved ones casualty number. I am so sorry.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

All Saints vs the IRS

Two days before the presidential election in November 2004, a guest pastor at All Saints Church in Pasadena, CA delivered what the IRS is calling an anti war sermon. It could cost the church it's tax exempt status.

The dispute centers on a sermon titled "If Jesus Debated Senator Kerry and President Bush" that Regas delivered as a guest pastor. Though he did not endorse a candidate, he said Jesus would condemn the Iraq war and Bush's doctrine of pre-emptive war. "I believe Jesus would say to Bush and Kerry: `War is itself the most extreme form of terrorism. President Bush, you have not made dramatically clear what have been the human consequences of the war in Iraq,'" Regas said, according to a transcript.

Of course Jesus would! Love thy neighbor and all, when is war the preferred choice?

It's been too many years to count since I was a regular church goer. I blame that on my Catholic upbringing and those in the church that never inspired. So, when you meet a pastor who does inspire, you kind of wish you lived nearby. That's what I told the Reverend Ed Bacon of All Saints when I was fortunate enough to meet him in Crawford, TX in the summer of 2005. He had made the journey to the camp outside the president's ranch as so many others of us had. What is the Noble Cause? Why are our children dying? Bring them home NOW!

Reverend Bacon was there to present a petition to Gold Star mothers signed by members of his church supporting our trip to Crawford, supporting the pace movement that we were a part of. He found Lynn Braddach, mother of Travis, Michelle DeFord, mother of David and me, mother of Ken. He explained the petition and told us that his church sent love and warm wishes and support. We talked a bit about the antiwar stance that his church had made. I told him that I was still mad at God about Ken's death. He told me he understood. He is the kind of man you could trust with your faith; he's one of those people you meet along the journey who touches you and you will always remember that brief moment.

When I read about the IRS action against this church, this kind man in June 2005, I was annoyed. Less than 2 weeks before that same presidential election back in November 2004, I was in Washington DC to bury my only child at Arlington National Cemetery. 4 of us fallen away catholics who were in town for the funeral decided it would be a good idea to attend mass that weekend.

We decided we would go to the magnificent Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate on Michigan Avenue. This Catholic church is impressive and I know I felt uncomfortable being there. I wasn't sure I belonged. The altar boys were dressed alike. I wanted to shout at them "RUN! Run while you can!" remembering the horrendous molestation charges that the Catholic church was mishandling at that time. The priests (plural) were wearing matching outfits, too. The altar clothes matched the priests garb. The marble was imposing. I felt like the little kid I was when we visited one of the many massive European churches when my family lived in Europe. I did not, however, wear anything to cover my head as I had done so long before.

When the priest stood up before us and started his sermon, he told us that this was a week to honor missions. We all had a mission, he said. His voice boomed throughout the church telling us that our mission in the coming weeks was to vote. When we considered where to place our vote, we should listen to the voices of the unborn children and remember who supported a woman's choice and which candidate did not. My first thought's were that Kerry was the catholic and wasn't he playing on *our* team? I knew we were in a red part of the country, but this priest was clearly telling us to vote for Bush as sure as anything he said that day. I knew I did not belong to the catholic church anymore.

When I heard about the IRS investigation of All Saints Church in June 2005, I couldn't understand the disconnect. I still don't. California church speaking of moral issues = bad. DC church speaking of moral issues= good. Of course war and abortion are moral issues and they are both political, but the church is where people check in about their faith and seek guidance. These political judgments about moral issues is no surprise, of course. It's part of this administration's double standard. What's good for them is good even if it isn't good for anyone else.

When the IRS reprimanded the church, they asked that it promise to be more careful. Church officials refused. All Saints has been known as "a headquarters for political activity" since the 1970s. We need more churches and more brave pastors like this. It would be good for the soul of this country.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Drumbeats of War

According to Time Magazine, the Navy has been told to "Prepare to deploy", to be ready to move by Oct 1. The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), asked for a review of long-standing U.S. plans to blockade two Iranian oil ports on the Persian Gulf.

Gen. John Abizaid, commander of the U.S. Central Command, said military leaders would consider adding troops or extending the Iraq deployments of other units if needed. With the current troop level at 140,000 and hopes for a reduction in those numbers to about 100,000 by year end are a distant thought. "If it's necessary to do that because the military situation on the ground requires that, we'll do it," Abizaid said of longer deployments. "If we have to call in more forces because it's our military judgment that we need more forces, we'll do it." Of course they will. Rising sectarian violence and slow progress of the Iraqi government are the reasons today. Who says things are going well in Iraq?

Air Force Col. Sam Gardiner (Ret.) said, “We are conducting military operations inside Iran right now. The evidence is overwhelming.”

And the president of our United States is disingenous when he stands before the assembly of the United Nations today and says At the start of the 21st century, it is clear that the world is engaged in a great ideological struggle between extremists who use terror as a weapon to create fear and moderate people who work for peace. Five years ago I stood at this podium and called on the community of nations to defend civilization and build a more hopeful future. This is still the great challenge of our time. It is the calling of our generation. I'd like to know what he means when he uses the word "Peace"

What's that you say? I can't hear you; the drumbeats of war are way too LOUD!!! There is no coincidence that we are 7 weeks before the midterm election.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Iraq Deployment phase II

"Leaving on a jet plane- will miss u very much- will try my best to keep in touch. Lots of love" That's the text message I received early this morning. As I was getting ready for work, my young friend, an Army nurse, was heading off to war. 1 year stationed at a Baghdad hospital caring for our son's and daughters as they fight George Bush's war.

Many of the 2672 dead American soldiers and nearly 20,000 wounded members of the military have passed through those hospitals in Iraq. What will my young friend see? How will her heart and her spirit survive these horrendous images that will surely stay with her forever? I know for sure that the dedication and professionalism of the medical teams will keep many alive who might not have survived.

I spoke to her earlier this week to send hugs from California for a safe journey and to hear her voice. She sounded optimistic and nervous and very much that she had a job to do. I'm not sure I offered her much comfort, but that had been my plan.

My young friend, she knew Ken; she was who he planned to spend his first week at home after his Iraq deployment. She would be his decompression, his soft place to land and if needed she would have watched him sleep for the week, as long as they were together. That didn't happen, of course.

As my young friend faces this journey into hell, I remind her that I am doing everything I can to bring the troops home, sooner than later. She knows of my activities, she tells me she appreciates that.

Her mother has already seen her two sons deploy to that part of the world. The brothers returned safely, and now her daughter? I cannot imagine.

Ken and his band of angels will be watching over her, I know that for sure, too. But really, isn't it time to bring all the troops home now?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Be Very Afraid

Nonlethal weapons such as high-power microwave devices should be used on American citizens in crowd-control situations before being used on the battlefield aaacckk! That's enough to make you spill your coffee as you read the morning paper, especially when it is the Secretary of the Air Force who is saying it. Secretary Michael Wynne goes on to say The object is basically public relations. Domestic use would make it easier to avoid questions from others about possible safety considerations, said Secretary Michael Wynne.

"If we're not willing to use it here against our fellow citizens, then we should not be willing to use it in a wartime situation," said Wynne. "(Because) if I hit somebody with a nonlethal weapon and they claim that it injured them in a way that was not intended, I think that I would be vilified in the world press."

The Air Force has paid for research into nonlethal weapons, but he (Wynne) said the service is unlikely to spend more money on development until injury problems are reviewed by medical experts and resolved.

Nonlethal weapons generally can weaken people if they are hit with the beam. Some of the weapons can emit short, intense energy pulses that also can be effective in disabling some electronic devices.

No moral dilemma here, the reason to NOT test on unsuspecting citizens is because he thinks he would be vilified in the press? ya think? I'm struggling that this confession was so casually spoken to a reporter as if they were discussing baseball box scores.

I'm not sure what more there is to say. We all know about the nuclear testing on unsuspecting civilians in the 1950's that resulted in thyroid disease, leukemia and other horrendous illnesses. In 2000, the Radiation Exposure Act was passed to define and process claims surrounding those illnesses.

So the next time you want to go out an unwelcome this president to your town, consider the consequences, you unruly crowds, you.

Has this country not learned some lessons from these unwarranted experiments? Where is the outrage? We deserve better, but I guess we haven't really learned anything at all, have we?

Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11- Random thoughts

I wanted to ignore the 5 year anniversary of 9/11. Not that I believe we should forget about it. Our country, our world must never forget that terrible morning on that beautiful sunny day in September, 5 years ago.

It's just that media uses days like this as a media event. They tell the story from every angle. It is the story of the day or week, however long they can stretch it. It's another much like the Jon Benet story, except this time it is about that day in September. The Path to 9/11, 9/11: the Day That Changed America, Witnessing: A Democracy of Photographs, all shows to remember September 11, 2001. I am on overload and I'm not watching these stories.

My son was alive back then, 5 years ago. He was a senior in college, studying Military Science and International Relations in Tennessee. He was due to graduate and be commissioned as an officer in the US Army the following May. Ken called me that morning immediately after the first plane hit. We watched together in horror as the 2nd plane hit the 2nd tower. I couldn't process that 2nd act of horror. Ken assured me it was what it was, another plane hitting another tower. We were 1500 miles away, but we shared that moment together. Families should be together on days like this.

After Ken was killed in May 2004, I found an entry in his journal. On September 12, 2001, Ken wrote this:

Terror came to this nation on the 11th. The question of how runs through the mind of many and shock set in as we watch with horror the events unfolding before us. Anger fills many hearts and minds. Once that anger is focused, God help us then. The nation wants blood, but do they understand that in spilling their blood, ours will flow too? When this war does start, I should be back on the front lines. I really hope that I will make the right choices and keep those people under me alive.

My son was 24 years old when he wrote that. He was right, of course. about a lot of that entry. He knew that American blood would spill, he was on the front lines and he did make the right choices to keep those people under him alive. There is no doubt that 9/11 was a turning point in our lives as this administration found these attacks 5 years ago to be just the right reason to invade Afghanistan and then Iraq. Who will be next?

I worry about the soul of this country on days like today. There is so little hope. There are haves and have lesses and have nothings and this administration doesn't care about anyone except the have mores. Name calling is rampant. If you aren't with us; you're against us and I'm not talking about the terrorists. Red state, blue state, sometimes purple, but always divided. The president says we must put aside our differences to fight his glorious war. He paints a somber picture of this world and this struggle for civilization and he tells us that the war against this enemy is more than a military conflict. It is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century, and the calling of our generation. He invokes the memory of those terrible battles in WWI & WWII and Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman. But there is no comparison to this war, his war and wars past. And there will never be a comparison to our 43rd president and Roosevelt and Truman.

This image of the world Bush is trying to convey is frightening. But if it is so, then why are not ALL Americans called to fight this battle and to make sacrifices? It is the military that serve their country and die or are wounded doing so. It is the families who hold down the home front. It is insulting when the president or anyone else reminds us that "every one of our troops is a volunteer" And that means what? That they can do with them what they want without regard to their mental status or personal safety? Their physical status? The condition of their families after multiple deployments? That they can send them off to war and cut their benefits when they return? We owe these families and our military members for the rest of their lives. Maybe it's time to bring back the draft with NO exemptions, that means women and gays- mandatory and oh, so equal opportunity. It means no deferrments for college (did ya hear that Mr Cheney? NONE!)

I wasn't trying to make this political, but the president sure did when he spoke to the nation this evening . He connected the dots of Iraq & 9/11 even though he has recently admitted that there was none. Tonite he said the regime of Saddam Hussein was a clear threat that posed a risk that the world could not afford to take. I just wish he would make up his mind. I'd kind of like to know the reason my son and 2670 others have died while serving their country in Iraq? I'm pretty sure that the people of Iraq would like to know what circumstances had gotten their country into such dire danger.

These little speeches or pep talks are just a run up to the elections. Scare the crap out of people and they'll vote Republican because they are big on terrorist fighting, so they'd have us believe, but I don't believe it now anymore than I did before 9/11. The current crop of Republicans and some Democrats are a bunch of thugs holding our country hostage. Where is the hope that America once stood for? Where are our freedoms?

I want my country back.

What happened to our world?

I was in Florence, Italy on 9.11.02. It was one year after the terrorist attacks on on NY, Pennsylvania and the Pentagon. People cared about Americans back then; they stopped us to make sure we were okay. They wanted to share where they were when they heard the news one year before. Our world was still united.

The poster shown below was handed out to all the vendors at the market in Florence. They asked the vendors to display the poster as a sign of unity with the US. The poster says " Florence does not forget". They didn't forget then and the world was united, but what happened?

After this country was attacked, there were memorial services in France, Malaysia and other places. Universal condolences were offered at embassies. People lit candles and presented flowers at vigils worldwide. The Pope and the Dalai Lama lead prayers. It wasn't just an attack on America & Americans, the citizens of the world suffered, too; they shared out pain.
It has been 5 years since that terrible day. Our world is no longer united, neither is our country. Our president has squandered the unity that was shown to us from across the world. Our president did not want collaboration, he wanted to fight his Global War on Terrorism alone, although those countries of the Coalition of the Willing, went along until it became too politically uncomfortable for their participation and thus we have the Coalition of the Wilting. Iraq is going badly. The Taliban has shown a resurgence in Iraq.
What happened to our country? What happened to our world?

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Patriot (60 sec)
I am the mother of Lt Ken Ballard and I approve this message

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Saturday, September 02, 2006

1267 and 2642, Not Just Numbers

That would be 1267 days and 2642 US casualties in Iraq. This week will mark 1267 days from March 19, 2003 until now, the length of this war turned occupation in Iraq. 3 years, 5 months, 14 days.... The days keep clicking by and so do the number of deaths and injuries. People who are not affected by this war do not know either of these numbers, but we Gold Star families do. Our families live this war every single day, it *is* our lives; some days it consumes our lives, some days it is tolerable, but we can never get away from the fact that our loved ones are never coming home.

The number 1267 is important to know, because the disaster in Iraq has now lasted longer than the US involvement in WWII; the war to end all wars. It didn't, did it?

This miserable milestone will not be noted by the White House, but it is something that we must acknowledge. This administration insists that things are going well in Iraq. This president has said he will stay this disastrous course and leave the victory for future presidents. If you consider what that means, the president will not consider any other course as long as he remains in office, no matter how badly things continue.

As George Bush continues to insist his approach is working, he says the best way to honor the sacrifices of the fallen is to complete the mission. But how will more bloodshed and more dying honor our son's and daughters?

It is time for this president to put ALL options on the table & to make immediate changes to his disastrous course. He can stop this war clock from ticking and he can do that by bringing the troops home now.