Friday, November 24, 2006

Thanksgiving in Baghdad from Florence Nightingale


Another week has gone by. This week went by a little quicker than the last. Our census has finally dropped in the ICU and we were given some extra time for ourselves. It was nice to say the least and much needed. I feel like we have been working hard and trying to keep pace with our demanding patients. They are demanding in their needs and medical problems not necessarily in their wants.

I have seen deaths door too often since I have been here. It is again an unfortunate reality to the situation we are in. There is such trauma sustained to the body from IED blasts, GSWs, and everything else that the fact that the body can withstand some of that torment is incredible. It is even harder for some reason to see a child affected in this way by this war. It is not everyday that I get to care for sick and injured children, but here in Baghdad it is an everyday reality. Small children as young as 3 years old have crossed my path. They have suffered from gun shot wounds, IED blasts, and vehicle crashes just like the adults I care for. There is no differentiating between who the blast will affect and where the bullets will land. Their little bodies withstanding all that torture of injury and surgery to recovery and rehab. Some of them don’t survive and perhaps their deaths hurt more because they are too young; too young to have really lived and enjoyed life. They may simply be in the wrong place at the wrong time or caught in the cross fire. We had a family of 8 injured in the cross fire this week. Two children died on the scene, two were admitted to our ICUs, one was flown to Balad for a head injury, the father was cared for in the Step Down unit, and the pregnant mother was cared for on the ward.

How do you care for each of these injured souls? It is difficult enough trying to get better for yourself, but when your very support system is pulled out from under you how do you heal a broken heart?

So today on Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my family, my friends, my fellow soldiers, and the gift of being a nurse. I may not always give myself the credit I deserve as I have been reminded so often by those that know me all too well, but I am a good nurse. It has taken this deployment for me to realize that. I have a gift of connecting with people when they are down and out and helping them get to the best place for them. It may not always be better or healed where they walk out of those hospital doors from where they first entered. It may be to die with ease and comfort or to find a place where they feel safe. I have my doubts that I may not always accomplish what I set out to do, but the fact is that I try.

On a different note, I took care of another fellow soldier tonight. I have a difficult time trying to explain the difference between taking care of soldiers than taking care of other types of patients. I was told once that soldiers fight harder, take more risks, and accomplish great things because they know that we (the medical assets) are here to take good care of them if they get hurt. I know tonight my patient must have thought I was crazy when I wanted to turn him and check his backside. Keep in mind he had multiple fractures and wounds from being in an IED blast. I gave him the rationale why and we screamed and fought through the pain to get him to move so I could check his wounds and his skin to assure he wasn’t going to “bleed out” without me knowing about it. He forgave me later when I let him brush his teeth and helped him wash up this morning. He told me that this was so embarrassing for him. He looked at me strangely as I offered him my explanation that “this” was my favorite part of my job. I told him that I love to help people and if helping them brush their teeth and washing them up is going to make them feel better then hand over the wash cloth and soap!

He may not even realize that even his bed bath is part of his recovery. He brushed his teeth today with his one good arm (2pts). He washed his face and torso (5pts). He washed his hair with a shampoo cap (2pts). He rolled in bed so much better the second time around so I could wash his backside and change his sheets (10pts). My point is all these little things add up. They double as physical therapy, they count as exercise and assist the blood to flow to those injured parts to facilitate healing, and they give him control over a seemingly uncontrollable situation. Everything I do has a purpose; they may not know that or ever learn that, but it is to help them reach a goal. That goal would be to walk out of Walter Reed or some other Army facility a stronger man or woman than when they came in. Beat up and broken initially, but stronger and wiser later.

This is how I fight this war. This is my part in making a difference during this deployment. I may not always know why I am here or agree with what we are doing, but I know that my mission is to take care of soldiers and this is what I will do.

I will end this here. I am well and in good spirits despite that the holidays are here and I’m without all of you. Again, I cannot thank you all enough for sending the wonderful packages, letters, and support on such a daily basis.

I wasn’t able to get any Thanksgiving cards this time and most of you know that I keep Hallmark in business by sending greetings for all the holidays. I want to wish everyone a very HAPPY THANKSGIVING! I hope that this season helps us all to reflect on what we have to be truly thankful for. Plus how can you go wrong with turkey and all the fixings!

Wishing you all well. Thinking of you often and missing you more! I’ll be in touch.

With Love~

Thursday, November 23, 2006

It's Thanksgiving

Any holiday these days is bittersweet. I try to be mindful of other's joy in celebrating, but there is so much emptiness in my heart. I can't say "Happy* Thanksgiving or *Happy* Holidays or *happy* anything.

Of course there are better days, and there are many good memories my son, but any holiday is a reminder of what shining light is missing from my life.

3 years ago in 2003, Ken & I had set up a time for us to chat on the internet; he being in Sadr City, Iraq and we being in California. For these purposes *we* means my parents, 2 sisters, 2 nieces, my nieces fiance', and the fiance's family. We had a houseful of love and food, too. We were all looking forward to sharing a meal of thanksgiving and chatting with Ken. We were thankful he was alive and well, albeit 11 time zones removed from our family gathering.

I was nervous about making sure we had a connection- what if Ken came online and we weren't there? What if he thought we weren't thinking of him? This was the year that George Bush flew to Baghdad, and served turkey dinner to the troops safe within the Green Zone, wearing a 1st Armored Division jacket. Of course it was dangerous and how could the President of our country, the man who started this ugly war go beyond the safety of the Green Zone? For those outside the Green Zone, one day is like the rest; no respite from the daily mortar rounds, the ied's (improvised explosive devices) and the war.

Ken did not appear at the appointed time and I started to panic. I thought it was the internet connection, or maybe he popped on while we were eating. Finally, the instant message noise on the computer rang and Ken was with all of us for just a little while that Thanksgiving day. The delay in meeting us was a result of an extended firefight and unlike the women in some of the September 2006 Doonesbury comics, I always knew that our meetings online could be delayed.

Ken got to chat with everyone, mostly it was back and forth trivialities, but we were together that day and that was good enough for me.

As I raised Ken, I wanted him to be the kind of man that other women would tell their partners- Why can't you treat me like Ken treats his woman? I wanted him to be able to be as comfortable in the kitchen as he was driving a 65 ton tank. He should be able to do his own laundry and be able to balance a check book. When he got married I wanted it to be because of the woman and his commitment to her and the relationship, NOT because he needed someone to do his laundry or fix a meal.

Ken did feel comfortable in the kitchen from a very young age. Every Thanksgiving from the time he was about 4 years old, Ken made the cranberry sauce for our family dinner. Yep, from scratch, real cranberries and real sugar. He loved stirring the pot while the cranberries popped and released the juicy pulp. Look at that face, how happy he was to be part of our families tradition. As I continued Ken's tradition of making the cranberry sauce last night, I know that Ken was with me; always in my heart.

Over the years, Ken spent many Thanksgivings with friend's families and with his Army buddies and always, the families told me what good company he was.

So, this week, while our president yuks it up at the White House with the traditional pardoning of the National Thanksgiving Turkey and a gratuitous nod to the military, my thoughts are of Thanksgivings gone by.

He also commended U.S. military personnel, whom he said "have set aside their own comfort and convenience and safety to protect the rest of us." "Their courage keeps us free. Their sacrifice makes us grateful. And their character makes us proud," Bush said. "Especially during the holidays, our whole nation keeps them and their families in our thoughts and prayers."

Most people in this country are detached from the war, including our president. They won't have to, don't have to think about the 140,000 troops currently serving in Iraq who are so far from their families and another 18,000 in Afghanistan on this national holiday. There is no impact, no rationing, no personal commitment to this war, except for the military families.

While happiness is a distant memory for me, I *am* grateful for many things and many people. I am grateful for my fellow Gold Star families at Gold Star Families Speak Out and the other 2871 Gold Star families, who know this bereavement. I am grateful for my new friends that I have met along the way and of course my old friends, my dear friends; the hugs that are freely given when people find out I am a Gold Star Mom; and my family, who has been supportive of this journey we are taking. I am grateful for the relatively good health of my family and that I will share Thanksgiving with my 2 favorite sisters, my favorite parents, my favorite niece and her new puppy. I am grateful for my 3 favorite brothers and 2 other favorite sisters and ALL of my favorite nieces and nephews, who are with their families this holiday. I am grateful for Ken's friends who stay in touch, who let me know that he will always be remembered. I am grateful that the voter's finally understood the futility of this occupation in Iraq and I hope the newly elected Congress responds in kind. I am grateful for ALL members of the military past and present, who made a commitment to serve their country; and to their families & friends who know the cost of this war.

I hope you are spending the day with those you love, as I am, and that there is comfort and gratitude in your heart. I do wish you a HAPPY Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Poppa Bush is drinking the koolaid

And I thought George HW Bush was onto his son.

I had heard that it was this president's father who suggested a few months back that Rumsfeld should leave. That's when his son came out and told us he was the "decider"; But I'm the decider, and I decide what is best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense." George W said in April 2006 when 6 retired generals spoke out against the Secretary of Defense.

The International Herald Tribune tells us that the retired president was speaking in the United Arab Emirates and had just finished a folksy address on leadership by telling the audience how deeply hurt he feels when his son the president is criticized.
"This son is not going to back away," Bush said, his voice quivering. "He's not going to change his view because some poll says this or some poll says that, or some heartfelt comments from the lady who feels deeply in her heart about something. You can't be president of the United States and conduct yourself if you're going to cut and run. This is going to work out in Iraq. I understand the anxiety. It's not easy."
This is going to work out in Iraq? FOR WHOM??? He hasn't a clue about the anxiety of a loved one at war and he never will. It's not easy? AndI'm guessing that 41 did not get the message that "cut and run" is no longer the message. He can be forgiven for that, well, maybe not; but he cannot be forgiven for this comment:

"When your son's under attack, it hurts. You're determined to be at his side and help him any way you possibly can."

When the son's and daughters of this country were sent to Bush's war, there was nothing we could do to be on their side and to help them in any way possible. This administration sent our son's and daughters into this war with inadequate training, inadequate equipment and inadequate numbers and an undefined mission. And while we raised our voices in protest, very few in Washington listened until election day a few weeks back. They got the message that the war is wrong and it is time to bring them home, but did they listen? We will make sure they listened. We said that people would not get elected if Iraq was not on their platform and we were right.

Finally, back in in the UAE

Another hostile audience member, a college student in Abu Dhabi, told Bush that U.S. wars were aimed at opening markets for American companies. He said globalization was contrived for America's benefit at the expense of the rest of the world. Bush was having none of it.

"I think that's weird and it's nuts," Bush said. "To suggest that everything we do is because we're hungry for money, I think that's crazy. I think you need to go back to school."

Someone needs to go back to school and it isn't the college student who made those accusations.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Florence Nightingale reporting In

My favorite Army nurse is checking in...

I must tell you that it has been a busy week for me. I have not been able to write or email as much as I would like. I have gone through a variety of emotions this week from happy to sad to upset and stressed. Everyday can be a challenge here because you never know what will come through the doors. Never mind, the constant challenges you constantly face in the ICU as you take care of your patients. Often though it feels like Ground hog day, like in the movie. I wake up every afternoon around 1600 or so. My battle buddy usually gets in the shower before me and I get the extra 10-15 minutes of sleep. We put all our gear on and walk over to the hospital before dropping our stuff off and heading to dinner. Dinner of course has turned into eating the same thing every night; it just has a different name. Then we sit for a few minutes before we “assault the mail room”. We head up stairs, change into our scrubs and our night begins. We hit the gym in the morning and then race to go to bed. Then it starts all over again.

I don’t even know where to start now. I learned an important lesson this week about the interaction of people you work with. It is always a difficult test to throw a whole bunch of people together who have never worked with each other before, send them to a place where no one speaks the language, take away the pieces of their life like family and friends and expect them to perform. I think most of you who have ever heard me talk about nursing know that I have very high standards. I like my patients and work area neat, clean and organized. I always feel that if you keep the area you work in organized that when stuff goes wrong you know where everything is and can act fast. I also always put my patients’ needs before my own. That includes going to the bathroom, eating, or anything else. I also have high expectations of the people I work with too.

I have learned that not everyone will share the same ideals you have. Not everyone will work as hard as you do to do the right thing. Not everyone will know what they did wrong or where they can improve if you don’t tell them. I have always had a difficult time correcting people. I hate the confrontation, especially with being in the military. Being here throws an interesting twist on things. Here, you can never get away. There is no place to go. There is no real escape. We all live, sleep, eat, and work together all the time; 24 hours a day 7 days a week. It’s not like you put in your time and head home and become distracted by your life. This is your life here.

I have learned that regardless of how I feel about confrontation, I owe it to myself and the person I have issues with to tell them about it. Perhaps it was a misunderstanding. Maybe they didn’t know that what they were doing was wrong or not the right thing to do. I have learned that not only am I an officer, I am a leader, a registered nurse, a teacher, an advocate. I will need to work on this idea while I am here.

My goal for the next year will be to take the CCRN (Critical Care Registered Nurse) exam while I am here. They are conducting a review course for the exam and they plan to give in the spring. I don’t yet feel like an ICU nurse even though I am told on a daily basis that I am now. I’m hoping to pass this exam so I can finally feel like I know something. I think that it will be helpful on my resume or my curriculum vitae for the military.

I have been taking care of an Iraqi burn patient all of this week. Whenever I am working I will get assigned to this patient. He requires so much care and I have taken on the difficult task of it. I have come to the conclusion that I don’t necessarily enjoy taking care of this type of patient, but I am probably good at it due to my OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) tendencies. There are multiple dressing changes to be done throughout the day and night. He also requires the same regular care that you would provide for every patient anyway which include oral care and bathing, hourly monitor and vital signs, medication and pain management. I did get a compliment from one of our docs though; He said that the patient was getting better and that I should take care of the patient each night. The sad reality is I don’t think that he will. If it wasn’t for the medication we are giving him he would never be able to maintain his blood pressure or breathe on his own. A harsh reality. Perhaps if he were back in the states he would make it, but one never knows.

A little over a week ago our area was hit by a rocket. It impacted just behind our building where I sleep and near the trailers where some of my fellow co workers sleep. The blast wave from its impact broke most of the windows in our whole building. It apparently shook up the trailers next to us as well. My buddy and I had just finished dinner and were sitting out on the smoke bench ( she smokes, not me) waiting to do our daily assault of the mail room and all of a sudden we heard this loud boom followed by some fire like sparks over in front of the hospital. The smoke bench is located on the back side of the hospital by the EMT entrance. We both just sat there and stared at each other. It was like we couldn’t move. I was frozen. Finally I just said “run” and we sprinted to the hospital.

Everyone was obviously shaken and there were people putting on the IBA (individual body armor) and moving toward the front of the hospital. My buddy and I reported upstairs to the ICU and everyone was talking about what had just happened. Inside my heart was beating a mile a minute. I was trying to control my breathing and think clearly. I took report on my patient but I really wasn’t listening. I was numb. It took a couple of hours before I was back to myself. Our roommates and fellow co workers were coming in periodically from other places to let us know what was going on and that they were okay. One of my roommates was in the shower when the rocket hit and was attacked by the fan in the window that blew out with the blast. She also was greeted half naked as she was trying to pull on her clothes and get out of the building by someone barging in and telling her to get out.

When we returned in the morning, we found broken glass and were thankful that we have heavy curtains covering all the windows. We also have very tall concrete barriers around our building with concertina wire on top. It was at this time that I realized I’m really in a combat zone. I hear gunfire all the time. There are “booms” every now and again. I know that I am lucky though. I am not listening or engaging the enemy on a daily basis. I am not living in a tent or out conducting convoys or patrols. I am not a combat arms soldier who faces this danger every moment of everyday they spend here in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Well I should probably end this here as it seems like it is already 3 pages long. I tend to get a bit long winded. Sorry about that. I hope you all are enjoying my updates and that I am not boring you.

I’m hoping everyone is doing well. I am still taking it one day at a time. I appreciate all the support, emails, letters, and packages. Thank you so much. I will be in touch
With love

Happy Blogday to me!

One year ago I made the first entry here. I didn't know what I would say, but I knew I had plenty on my mind. I've heard from enough people who make me feel that I am making a difference; maybe what I say does matter.

I've had visitors from .mil and .gov addresses. I hope they are taking notes. (The war is wrong and you know it!) I've had visitors from all over the world. I have regular visitors and accidental visitors; anyone who stops by is welcome. Don't be shy- do leave a comment; I appreciate a bit of dialog.

I've learned a lot from some fellow bloggers, Chancelucky, Brainhell, pogblog, and the Nemesis of Evil to name a few. Thanks for standing by me- it means a lot.

I hope I have made you laugh a little and I hope we've shared some tears. I wouldn't wish my life as a Gold Star mom on anyone. That is why I speak out and share my thoughts.

There have been some victories and there've been days when I wondered what kind of people were running this joint we call America. There have been days of darkness and a few days where we found out that this country really does belong to "we, the people" and that maybe it will get back on the right track.

Always, this blog has been a place of late night solace for me; where I could say what I really feel once the door to the outside world is closed.

I think Ken would have liked knowing my thoughts. I don't know if I would have been inclined to keep a blog had my life not changed so much on 5.30.04. The thing that I cannot express well enough is just how much I miss Ken; every day, every hour, every minute. We got gypped, whether you knew him in life or you just got to know him here; we were all gypped! I hope you got to know a little bit more about my blonde kid.

So, what do you say? Shall we try for another year?

Thursday, November 09, 2006


It's been a good day in America.

2 years ago as I listened to George W Bush give his "victory" speech after the election, I sat at my desk and cried. I couldn't understand how so many people could trust the administration that had failed this country. For our group of Gold Star families, the run up to November 7, 2006 was days filled with sadness, depression, nervousness. What would our fellow citizens do when they showed up to vote? Who ARE these people?

For all of Bush's protests, the election on Tuesday was a referendum on the war in Iraq, corruption, morality and everything else that defines this administration and the Republican Congress. To be sure, many of the Democrats do not deserve a second look, but every elected official, regardless of affiliation, got the message loud and clear- it is time for a change in this country NOW! There is hope for better tomorrows and that makes today a very good day.

How can you top a Democratic sweep of both houses of Congress? I could barely supress the grins. I could have been happy with just that news- there was hope and validation for all we have been saying for so long. And just before 10 this morning, I received a quick email from a friend

AP: Rumsfeld stepping down
Thought that might make you smile.
He did not, however, send a link. Of course it made me smile, but I need details! Was he just messing with me? Not this friend, but still. Within moments, my brother who works at a TV station in Cincinnati, called with news, literally hot off the wire. I'm feeling downright perky now. A call from another Gold Star Mom, a post on a Gold Star family message board, more phone calls, lots of emails. What's not to like? Rusmfeld is out and I don't care why.
Rumsfeld never supported the military; either the troops at ground level or the highest of the high at the Pentagon. His arrogance and patronizing was horrifying to hear and watch, as if the troops were little green army men to be moved around at his will with no regard to their value.
People will analyze and discuss the nominee to replace Rumsfeld in the days to come; but he's not looking good, this longtime friend of the Bush family, former CIA director, Robert Gates. Let's not say "anything is better than Rumsfeld", let's be smart about it as this new Congress should be. It's time to be smart for our military, their families and our country.
As we bid good bye to the Secretary of Defense, I will heed my brother's advise, to not pull a muscle while I am doing the Happy Dance. If anyone feels an ounce of sympathy for Donald Rumsfeld, Reuters reminds us of some of Rumsfeld's words of wisdom.

"Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns. There are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns. That is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknown's, the ones we don't know we don't know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones," Rumsfeld said on Feb. 12, 2002.

"Stuff happens," Rumsfeld said on April 11, 2003, when asked about rampant lawlessness in Baghdad after U.S. troops captured the capital. "It's untidy, and freedom's untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things."

"You go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time," Rumsfeld on Dec. 8, 2004 told a U.S. soldier in Kuwait who asked him why U.S. troops had to dig through local landfills for pieces of rusted scrap metal and glass to provide armor for their vehicles before driving into Iraq.

"His regime has large, unaccounted for stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, including VX, sarin, mustard gas, anthrax, botulism and possibly smallpox. And he has an active program to acquire and develop nuclear weapons," Rumsfeld said on Jan. 20, 2003. Before the Iraq war, Rumsfeld often warned of President Saddam Hussein's arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. None of these were found.

"We know where they are," Rumsfeld said on March 30, 2003 in the days after the Iraq invasion, when asked whether he found it curious U.S. forces had not yet found weapons of mass destruction. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."

"The Gulf War in the 1990s lasted five days on the ground. I can't tell you if the use of force in Iraq today would last five days, or five weeks or five months. But it certainly isn't going to last any longer than that", Rumsfeld said on Nov. 14, 2002, three months before the invasion.

"Now, you're thinking of Europe as Germany and France. I don't. I think that's old Europe, Rumsfeld said on Jan. 22, 2003.

"It is easier to get into something than to get out of it," Rumsfeld wrote in his published list of truisms known as "Rumsfeld's Rules."

And finally, back in December 2004, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld faced renewed criticism Sunday from lawmakers after he said he has not personally signed letters sent to family members of troops killed in action. That he did not take the time to personally sign these letters demonstrated how he felt about and valued these soldiers and their families. I have one of these letters.

It is long past time for Rumsfeld to go. He failed the troops and he failed this country. GOOD RIDDANCE!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Sunday, November 05, 2006

Guilty, Guilty, Guilty

Early in the morning of December 15, 2003, when my son, Lt Ken Ballard was stationed in Iraq, he sent me an instant message:

they just got saddam!

Ken told me that the way the soldiers heard the news of Saddam's capture was by the sound of celebratory shooting by the Iraqis. The men from 2-37 of the 1st Armored Division did the manly thing and lit up some cigars!

3 years later, the verdict is finally in on Saddam Hussein today and no one should be surprised. Of course he's guilty for the killing of 148 Shias in Tigris river city of Dujail in 1982; crimes against humanity including premeditated murder, torture and forced deportation. Saddam Hussein is one of the bad guys in this world, one of the worst.

There have been questions whether the end to this long and difficult trial will be a defining moment of the war (no) or whether it will just be another on the long list of horrors and milestones that define the war. The trial which started nearly a year ago, was defined by boycotts, delays, murders, hunger strikes, arrogance, more delays, outbursts and drama.

Earlier this year, back in July, Saddam requested that he be executed by gunfire rather than by hanging if he was found guilty and condemned to die. He said "shooting is the appropriate means of execution for a military man like himself".

Saddam's response to the verdict today? ``Long live the people, down with the traitors,'' Hussein, 69, shouted as the verdict was read out. ``God is great. You are the servants of the occupiers. Long live Iraq.''

George Bush's response? He said Hussein's conviction was a ``major achievement'' for the country's elected government and brought a measure of justice for Hussein's victims.``Saddam Hussein's trial is a milestone in the Iraqi people's efforts to replace the rule of a tyrant with the rule of the law,''

Just 2 days before the US midterm elections, some people have wondered whether the timing was curious. Well, yes, it it is and it is political and the Bush administration who backed the trial was full aware of the timing. If they try to deny it, this will be yet another lie that they have told us about the war.

Be very clear though, that this should not affect our elections here by one single vote. With 2831 US military casualties, nearly 45,000 non- mortal casualties, between 50,000 & 650,000 Iraq casualties (we don't know that number because as General Tommy Franks told us "we don't do body counts"), Saddam Hussein's conviction will be nothing more than a comma when the history of this war and occupation is told. This conviction does not mean that the Republicans are strong on terror any more than it means the Democrats want to cut and run.

Today is just another day in this horrible war. I'm pretty sure the Dujail families aren't having a party or celebrating this "major achievement". What's to celebrate? I'm pretty sure they just want their country back.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


Richard Perle, The Prince of Darkness, and one of the architects of the war in Iraq is not my favorite person.

He is one of the signatories of the 1998 PNAC (Project for a New American Century) letter to President Clinton regarding policies in Iraq.

Given the magnitude of the threat, the current policy, which depends for its success upon the steadfastness of our coalition partners and upon the cooperation of Saddam Hussein, is dangerously inadequate. The only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction. In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing. In the long term, it means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. That now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy.
Don't let anyone tell you that the 2003 war/occupation in Iraq wasn't predetermined. Neoconservatives like Richard L. Armitage, William J. Bennett, John Bolton, William Kristol, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz also signed the letter.

Richard Perle & I had a close encounter in DC back in May 2006, so I speak of his evil and dark aura on good authority. The man has no soul and he certainly has no compassion. But when someone comes around and admits they are wrong, I'll give them their due- but not much more.
In the November online issue of Vanity Fair, in an article titled Neo Culpa, David Rose interviews several of the war's neoconservative cheerleaders who have turned against the Bush administration using one word- incompetence. He spoke with Perle:

As he looks into my eyes, speaking slowly and with obvious deliberation, Perle is unrecognizable as the confident hawk who, as chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee, had invited the exiled Iraqi dissident Ahmad Chalabi to its first meeting after 9/11. "The levels of brutality that we've seen are truly horrifying, and I have to say, I underestimated the depravity," Perle says now, adding that total defeat an American withdrawal that leaves Iraq as an anarchic "failed state is not yet inevitable but is becoming more likely. "And then," says Perle, "you'll get all the mayhem that the world is capable of creating."

According to Perle, who left the Defense Policy Board in 2004, this unfolding catastrophe has a central cause: devastating dysfunction within the administration of President George W. Bush. Perle says, "The decisions did not get made that should have been. They didn't get made in a timely fashion, and the differences were argued out endlessly. At the end of the day, you have to hold the president responsible. I don't think he realized the extent of the opposition within his own administration, and the disloyalty."

Perle goes so far as to say that, if he had his time over, he would not have advocated an invasion of Iraq: "I think if I had been delphic, and had seen where we are today, and people had said, 'Should we go into Iraq?,' I think now I probably would have said, 'No, let's consider other strategies for dealing with the thing that concerns us most, which is Saddam supplying weapons of mass destruction to terrorists.' I don't say that because I no longer believe that Saddam had the capability to produce weapons of mass destruction, or that he was not in contact with terrorists. I believe those two premises were both correct. Could we have managed that threat by means other than a direct military intervention? Well, maybe we could have."

I'm not big on "I told you so's", but I am perplexed at how these supposedly intelligent people with decades of experience could have been so wrong? I'm not going to go there, I hope they still have some influence in this administration to make the necessary changes to the failed policies in Iraq. That doesn't look likely either.

In David Rose's article he also quoted Michael Ledeen, American Enterprise Institute freedom scholar: "Ask yourself who the most powerful people in the White House are. They are women who are in love with the president: Laura [Bush], Condi, Harriet Miers, and Karen Hughes."

ewwwww I don't know whether to cry or throw up. But mostly it's too bad this political hindsight doesn't help the 2829 dead American soldiers and their families who really could have used some champions before the war got started.

(Photo Courtesy of Jim Choi- I didn't remember the hand gestures Perle used when he was speaking at me. Also look at the onlookers expressions. He was responding to my question of why my son, Lt Ken Ballard came home in a flag covered box because of his policies. Perle was not kind to this Gold Star Mom that day)

Friday, November 03, 2006

Question of the Day

Barack Obama asks a good question "Why is it the war on terrorism seems to be fought between September and November every even-numbered year?"

The Price has Been too High

Sen. Allen the Price has Been too High
and you know it!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Man from Hope Came to our Town

A friend sent me an email on Monday letting me know that former President Bill Clinton was going to be in Stockton, CA campaigning for Congressional candidate, Jerry McNerney that evening. Jerry is running against incumbent Richard Pombo, another Dick, who is one of the most corrupt members of congress. He's bad for the environment and his entire platform and legislative history shows us every reason that this good old boy rancher should be sent back to his old job. When George Bush came to town a few weeks back to campaign for him, no one batted an eye wondering about that team; no one questioned their relationship, Pombo & Bush- they deserve each other, but we don't!

I quickly did a bit of research and found that yes, indeedy, Bill Clinton, #42 President of the good old USA, the Man from Hope, AR was coming to town to bring us progressive types an idea, a feeling that there might be some hope for this country afterall.

I immediately called my friend Gold Star friend, Nadia, Patrick's mom, and told her to call the McNerney campaign office and tell them that we wanted to meet Bill; yes, actually talk to him. Nadia lives in McNerney's district and has done some campaigning for them, so everyone on the staff knows her well. In my naivete I believed that would be able to meet with Bill Clinton. While I have worked on several political campaigns and have plenty of media experience, I guess I really didn't know what I was thinking! Even after we had been at the event for an hour or so, I was still hopeful. But as the rain continued falling along with the temperatures, I decided that the best we could hope for was to be standing in the front row, and that was okay, especially since we were standing in the front row, not more than 10 feet from the speakers platform. We had a great vantage point for this event.

The BIG DEMOCRATIC machine rolled into Stockton Monday evening with 24 hours to prepare for this campaign stop. The warm up acts were Democratic candidates for Lt Governor, John Garamendi; Secretary of State, Deborah Bowen (she's my hero in her firm stand on electronic voting among other issues), Insurance commissioner, Cruz "I lost 70 pounds" Bustamante and a few state level Democratic officials. The headliners were Jerry McNerney & Bill himself. Jerry McNerney knew the spotlight was on him as he introduced the former president to this welcoming crowd.

Bill had started his morning in Memphis, TN, campaigning for Harold Ford, headed to Colorado to campaign for Ed Perlmutter, into San Francisco for a fundraiser that netted over $2 million dollars! They left San Francisco and took a quick jet ride to Stockton Jet Center for this event.

Before I get started and get accused of god knows what as I wax eloquent about Bill Clinton, let's just have some of that full disclosure. William Jefferson Clinton was not the perfect president; he made mistakes, and he admitted them. Mostly our lives were different back in those days late in the 20th century. Different and better. Hope not fear.

Bill's speech tonite was crisp and funny and intelligent and smart and hopeful and honest and compassionate and everything that George Bush is not and will never be. George Bush can not hope to be the man that Bill Clinton is and perhaps that is demonstrated in George's feelings of inadequacy.

He opened with "Thank you for waiting," Clinton said to the roaring crowd. "It may be raining tonight, but the sun will be shining on Tuesday." He covered a lot of territory as he spoke about the war; Clinton took special umbrage at how Bush derisively refers to Democrats as "the party of cut and run." "We're not the cut-and-run crowd, we're the stop-and-think crowd," he said. "We're only too happy to fight, but we want to stop and think first." and the environment, but mostly about the differences between the two parties; although he somehow managed to do that in a positive, not divisive way. He told stories and he told jokes. He was convincing that our country can get back on track to be the county; that we can do better. There was no mention of Kerry's unfortunate gaffe, no 3 word slogans tonite. There was hope and promise for change. In my mind there was nostalgia for a different, more positive time in this country.

As these campaign stops and schedules go, I am sure that Clinton was scheduled to speak for 10 or 15 minutes, but he had barely hit his stride by then and he ended up speaking for more than 40 minutes. Clinton did not disappoint this crowd estimated at 1000.

As Clinton entered the speaking area he shook hands with many in the crowd. At the end of his speech he jumped off the stage to come down to be with the people again; it is what feeds him. Because Nadia & I were front and center, I felt that we would at least get to shake his hand. He did shake our hands and when I told him that we were mothers whose sons were killed in Iraq, he just stopped and we became the most important people in his world for the next 5 minutes. He gave us a genuine hug and someone nearby told me afterwards that he noticed Clinton tearing up. He read Patrick's name on Nadia's button that she wears. I showed him Ken's photo. I told him that we were there to meet a president of our country who really cares about our kids. He told us he was sorry for our loss. His security people seemed to be impatient that he spent this much time with us, but Clinton's time with us showed us where his priorities were. This was a private conversation between 2 moms and a concerned, compassionate former president. (photo courtesy of Jim Choi)

After he hugged us again and moved on to greet the rest of the crowd, people asked us if they could ask what we were talking about and did we know him personally. We explained why we came to the rally and they responded with empathy. Some people nearby had overheard the entire conversation and were also impressed that he had spent that much time with us.

I ask again, what did we do to deserve Bush and his gang in the White House? We can do better by voting for a change on Tuesday. We must do better!

Laura Bush is scheduled to campaign for Pombo later this week. My message to Laura- your husband is not welcome in California and neither are you. Just stay home.