Saturday, September 29, 2007

Gold Star Mother's Day 2007

The Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 115 of June 23, 1936, has designated the last Sunday in September as "Gold Star Mother's Day" and has authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in its observance.

In 1994, President Bill Clinton proclaimed 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."

In 2007, George Bush proclaimed

The gift of liberty is secured by heroes who have answered the call to serve when America needed them most. On Gold Star Mother's Day, we honor the mothers of the service men and women who have given their lives in the defense of our great Nation.
America's Gold Star Mothers are remarkable patriots who serve their communities by demonstrating good citizenship, providing support and services to our troops and veterans, and helping comfort the families whose loved ones have made the ultimate sacrifice. Their sense of duty and deep devotion to our country inspire our Nation, and we thank them for their compassion, determination, and strength. Though they carry a great burden of grief, these courageous mothers help ensure that the legacy of our fallen heroes will be forever remembered. On this day, we offer our deep gratitude and respect to our Nation's Gold Star Mothers; we honor the sons and daughters who died while wearing the uniform of the United States; and we pray for God's blessings on them, their mothers, and their families.

As a Gold Star Mother, I do not find comfort in this cold President's words; they do not ring true. His meetings with Gold Star Mother's are arranged to include only women who support his ruthless, endless war and more death. Where is his compassion and sense of patriotism to those mothers who disagree with him and work diligently to end the war and to bring our troops home?

Gold Star Mothers Day is not a Hallmark holiday to send flowers or cards; there is no happy in this day. Gold Star Mothers Day 2007 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 and achieving victory. How will more bloodshed and more dying honor my son, 1Lt Ken Ballard, who was killed in Iraq more than 3 years ago? This president can prevent the creation of new Gold Star Mothers. It is time for president Bush to remove the burden from the military and work to find some kind of political solution that would allow us to bring our troops home.

We will never forget our loved ones; they will live forever in our hearts. And we must not forget the Iraqi Gold Star mothers who suffer so much from this war that came to their front door step unwelcome and unnecessary.

Today, 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 1Lt Ken Ballard.

Enough already!

What a week! puts out an ad that criticizes General David Petraeus for not telling the truth about what's going on in Iraq when he testifies before Congress. The President gets all huffy and disgusted and says "I felt like the ad was an attack, not only on Gen. Petraeus, but on the U.S. military," Bush said. "And I was disappointed that not more leaders in the Democratic Party spoke out strongly against that kind of ad."

Not to worry; this do nothing Senate comes out swinging and passes S. Resolution 315 condemning Move-On To express the sense of the Senate that General David H. Petraeus, Commanding General, Multi-National Force-Iraq, deserves the full support of the Senate and strongly condemn personal attacks on the honor and integrity of General Petraeus and all members of the United States Armed Forces. I know technically how Sen Harry Reid let this vote come to the floor, but what were the Democrats thinking - or not thinking? They knew this resolution would be a huge distraction for what they say is really important- ending the war in Iraq. I have trouble believing what is really important to this Senate.

As if the Senate's resolution hadn't wasted enough time, I thought the House would at least keep their nose to the grindstone and not allow a similar vote to pass. But no, the House followed suit and yes, they, too voted overwhelmingly to condemn the ad by MoveOn.

I'm actually not sure if they meant to condemn the organization, MoveOn, or the ad, but in the name of whatever they were trying to achieve, the result of these resolutions was to restrict free speech.

I do not see the MoveOn ad as an attack on the military as Bush accuses. General Petraus is a big boy. He's been in the military for many years and should be able to handle criticism.

And finally on September 26, 2007, Rush Limbaugh, the blowhard conservative radio talk show host accuses soldiers who speak out against the war as being "phony soldiers" In an attempt to clarify his statement, he also accuses Rep Jack Murtha (PA-D) of being a phony soldier. Limbaugh's sweeping attacks on the military is likely to do more damage to the morale of military members serving in Iraq & Afghanistan than an ad focusing on one General.

Rush Limbaugh's hate is served up on a silver platter to our military on Armed Forces Network 5 days a week- Monday through Friday. We can safely assume that many of members of the military within earshot of his radio program would be offended at being accused of being a "phony soldier". Armed Forces Radio is part of the Armed Forces Information Service and is part of the Department of Defense. This is our tax dollars at work.

Fortunately, a great organization of veterans, VoteVets asks the real question Rush, who is the real phony, here?

Rush Limbaugh, the hypocrite, avoided military service by having his physician certify his medical unfitness due to an "inoperable pilonidal cyst" and "a football knee from high school. And he dares to call soldiers who have actually had boots on the ground and who question this illegal occupation in Iraq, "phony soldiers"?

In hopes that this "will it ever end" distraction finally wear out it's welcome, news from Greg Sargent says no, we'll go at least one more round.

I've just learned that Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO) will be introducing a resolution in the House of Representatives on Monday condemning Rush Limbaugh for his "phony soldiers" remark.
This is significant because it has the potential to dramatically up the stakes in this fight. If the Democratic leadership allows it to go for a vote, it will force all the Republicans in the House to either vote for it, against it, or skip the vote -- and to pass judgment on the powerful conservative talk show host's contention that troops who don't support President Bush's war policies are "phony soldiers."
It will also potentially present the Dem leadership with a not-so-easy choice. Many people will naturally call on the leadership to allow the resolution to come to a vote, which is not necessarily something the leadership might want, since it could look like a tit-for-tat reso in retaliation for the measure condemning MoveOn. It also is potentially problematic for some in the leadership because there is an internal sentiment that it's not Congress' job to go around denouncing the remarks, however reprehensible, of private citizens.
Sources tell us that there's a lot of interest in this resolution among rank and file Dem House members, and that it may come up for a vote soon. There's no guarantee by any means that this will end up happening, though it's likely that there will be some pressure on the leadership make it happen.

Haven't we had enough? Aren't there more important things for Congress to achieve than taking the time to censure someone or some organization because of a lack of civility? Can you really legislate civility? Should you?

If these resolutions can improve that situation and get rid of personal attacks, I'm all for it. Too many people in Washington enjoy this part of the game, so I am not optimistic.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Absurd Neocon Thinking

The Washington Post reports that the war in Iraq is costing $720 million dollars a day. By anyone's measure that 's alot of money. The American Friends Service Committee has a campaign that shows what the cost of the war would pay for- $720 million a day could buy homes for almost 6,500 families or health care for 423,529 children, or could outfit 1.27 million homes with renewable electricity. These are facts.

One of the original signers of the PNAC report titled Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources For a New Century , Frederick Kagan thinks it is money well spent. "Either you think the war in Iraq supports America's national security, or not. If you think national security won't be harmed by withdrawing from Iraq, of course you would want to see that money spent elsewhere. I myself think that belief, on a certain level, is absurd, so the question of focusing on how much money we are spending there is irrelevant." said Frederick W. Kagan, also a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

You cannot separate the human cost of the war from the financial cost, so Kagan ties with Rep John Boehner (OH-R) for most insensitive statement of the week. "Kagan says "How much money we are spending is irrelevant" while Boehner suggest that the cost America is paying is for the war in Iraq is a "small price to pay".

Kagan will never know the human cost of war unless his wife Kim decides to sign up- they have no children as best as I can tell. But the Boehner family consists of daughters Tricia & Lindsay; I wonder how they are serving this country.

I wonder what, if anything it would take to change either Kagan's or Boehner's minds. And by the way, I think Kagan's beliefs are absurd. It's time to bring the troops home NOW!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Iraq Moratorium- September 21, 2007

Iraq Moratorium

On the third Friday of every month,

people from all walks of life and all parts of the country have

committed to stop business as usual
and take action to end the travesty of the US occupation of Iraq.

Wear a black ribbon or armband.
Be visible.
At noon, stop whatever it is you're doing
and stand silently for a few minutes.
Talk to a neighbor.
Phone Washington.
Do something to end the war.

It's got to stop. We can stop it.

Monday, September 17, 2007

A "Small Price"

House Minority Leader John Boehner (OH-R) spoke his parties truth when he said that the cost of the war in Iraq will be a "small price" in a CNN interview with Wolff Blitzer. The loss of lives and the obscene amount of money being spent isn't a concern to this Congressman or to this administration. We have not found a number in lives or dollars that has made this administration and it's backers uncomfortable and until we do, the occupation in Iraq will continue, blood will continue to be shed and the blank checkbook will remain open.

Wolf Blitzer asked Rep Boehner how much longer Americans will US taxpayers have to shell out $2-$3 billion dollars a week as some now are suggesting the cost is going to endure? The loss in blood the Americans who are killed every month; how much longer do you think this military commitment is going to require?

Boehner's first mistake was saying that General Petraeus outlined it pretty clearly. He went on to explain "We are making success; we need to form up those successes, we need to continue our effort because long term, the investments we are making will be a small price if we are able to stop al Qaeda here, if we are able to stabilize the Middle East"

Fortunately, enough people heard John Boehner being cavalier and flying fast and loose with the loss of life and are calling him on it.

Even Republican Senator John MCain who continues to vociferously support the war stated Boehner should retract his statement.

In an attempt to clarify his bosses statement, Representative Boehner's spokesman stated "the congressman was referring to the amount of money spent in Iraq" (as if that makes it better) He went on to say "there isn't a member of Congress who appreciates the sacrifices of our troops more than Mr Boehner". I wonder if the 159 Gold Star families of Ohio agree with that? Ohio has the 4th highest casualties from Iraq , only behind California, Texas and Pennsylvania.

I agree with John Kerry who says the small price comment is "was stunningly cavalier".

The 3781 US casualties, including my only child, Lt Ken Ballard are an incalculable cost to our families and to our country and is something we will live with with minute by minute for the rest of our lives. What cost John Boehner and his family paid for this war?

Representative Boehner owes all of us an apology. It's the least he can do.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

We're kicking ass

"We're kicking ass" is how Bush responded to a question from the Australian Deputy Prime Minister about his recent stopover in Iraq on his way to the APEC summit in Australia.

Kicking ass, my ass! There is a big white ass in DC I would like to fire or impeach or send to Guantanamo. The things that comes out of this man's mouth continue to amaze me. I suppose the words don't really amaze me as much as give me the feeling that the president of one of the most powerful countries in the world thinks it's okay to say something that arrogant and stupid with no regard to how it might affect others. It's amazing he is allowed outside of Washington DC, let alone out of the country.

Think of someone who you know; you know, the person who constantly says the unspeakable stupidity without thinking and every time, you and your friends say, can you believe s/he said that? And yes, you have to say, well, I guess, yeah. That's how it feels when Bush opens his mouth, except he's not any ones friend; he's like the lame, fratboy freak who just won't go away.

"We're kicking ass" is right up there with "Bring 'em on" in terms of respect for our professional military and their families. Imagine how the 4 families of US troops, whose loved ones were killed in Iraq today feel about the US "kicking ass". Forever those words will be seared into their memories as they remember this was the day they heard their loved ones were never coming home.

"Kicking ass" is how you respond to an unbalanced victory at the Saturday college football game. "Kicking ass" is how you respond to a winning streak at the roulette wheel. But "kicking ass" is never how you respond to a question about a war you started that has resulted in the death, injury and displacement of more than a million people.

War is not a game and that is something George W Bush will never know.

Monday, September 03, 2007


I thought Ari Fleischer was long gone when he left the White House, but he has crawled out from under his rock with a new organization and $15 million to spend on an ad campaign featuring Iraq Vets and families who have lost a loved one in this so called Global War on Terror.

Freedom’s Watch is dedicated to educating individuals about and advancing public policies that protect America’s interests at home and abroad, foster economic prosperity, and strengthen families. Through outreach and education, communications to key members of Congress, and bold public awareness initiatives, Freedom’s Watch is fighting for the ideals and policies that keep America strong and prosperous. Their goal, simply is to capitalize on FEAR, a tool right from the Bush administration playbook, which shouldn't be a surprise considering the pedigree of people involved in this new organization. According to the Washington Post, Freedoms Watch leadership is Bradley A. Blakeman, Ari Fleischer, and Matthew Brooks. Donors are Mel Sembler, John Templeton Jr., Sheldon G. Adelson, Kevin E. Moley, Howard Leach, Anthony Gioia, Richard Fox, and Gary Erlbaum.

FREEDOM’S WATCH does not warrant the accuracy, completeness, timeliness or reliability of the material or data on this website. I'll say they don't. Freedom's Watch is yet another propaganda site made up of rich Republicans whose only connection to Iraq is to profit from the war. You won't see their family members fighting a war that they support but refuse to fight themselves. This glossy ad campaign implies that all Gold Star families support a victory in Iraq- whatever that means. It implies that voting to stop the war is for purely political reasons. No one should buy what this front group for the White House is selling. There are some who are betting this campaign will backfire on them; we can only hope.

I've thought about this alot. These Gold Star families, who have suffered with the loss of their loved one are telling their stories. They cannot bear the thought that their loved one died in vain. We should not fault them for whatever they believe that allows them to get up in the morning and face another day. They insist our country continue the mission because "Victory is America's only choice". I insist our country end this mission to save lives- of our military and the Iraqi civilians who are caught in the midst of this quagmire.

When I stood over the Arlington grave of my only child, Lt Ken Ballard, I vowed that I would not be silent and that people would know what it is like to lose a son in this war. Freedoms Watch and these families do not speak for this Gold Star mom. I know I am not alone.

Freedoms Watch also does not speak for my friends and fellow members of Gold Star Families Speak Out, Dante & Celeste Zappala who came up with a video of their own. "Bring Them Home, don't be fooled again"

This video should be seen by everyone in this country. The message "FUNDING THE WAR MEANS KILLING THE TROOPS" should be delivered to every member of Congress. Write a letter, pick up the phone; operators are standing by. If you don't do something now, what are you waiting for? How many more soldiers will die because you stood by and did nothing?

Dante posted a diary at the Daily Kos describing The truth about my dead brother

Sherwood was a soldier. At least for the last few months of his life, when his National Guard unit was activated. Politics is high stakes, especially for the ones who look beyond it to make the simple sacrifice of serving their country.

maggiemae over at the Daily Kos commented on Dante's diary and video We Native Americans believe as long as someone remembers you, and speaks your name, you are never gone. May the winds whisper the name of our brother, Sherwood Zappala, over all the earth for eternity.

There are so many names, it is no longer a whisper; we hear the names of Sherwood, Ken, Patrick, William, David, Neil, Bob, Adam, Jeremy, Sean, Jonathan, Jeffrey, Omead, Jon, Mike, Seamus, Seth, Jacob, Alex, Nick, Jamie, Steven, TJ, Edward, Darius, Phil, Ernest, Chris, Wes, Alan, Joseph, John and so many others. They will never be gone from our hearts.

Dead Certain

Dead Certain is the name of a book to be published on Tuesday about the Bush White House.

In an article in the New York Times, Bush told Draper I want this damn book to be right.” No worries there. I don't expect any surprises, just more evidence of Bush's own personal and presidential arrogance.

In interviews that took place in December 2006, Bush said he saw his unpopularity as a natural result of his decision to pursue a strategy in which he believed. “I made a decision to lead,” he said, “One, it makes you unpopular; two, it makes people accuse you of unilateral arrogance, and that may be true. But the fundamental question is, is the world better off as a result of your leadership?” I am dead certain the answer to that question is a resounding NO.

Bush's leadership has caused the death of more than a million people as a result of the war in Iraq. His leadership led to the utter and wretched destruction of the Gulf Coast with his handling of Hurricane Katrina. Bush's leadership has led to the loss of our privacy; he has thumbed his nose at the quaint Geneva Convention and has called the Constitution nothing more than a "damned piece of paper"- need I go on? It will take our country and this world a very long time to recover from his 8 years in the White House. The sooner he leaves, the better and if that includes impeachment, I'm okay with that, too.

That Bush says he bets he's shed more tears than you can count as president, referring to the Iraq war, is offensive to those of us who have tried to figure out a new way through this world that does not include the life of our loved one who was killed in Bush's war. One would think that after 3 years, a mom would figure out how to live this new normal, but you don't. Bush said "I’ve got God’s shoulder to cry on, and I cry a lot. Oh puhlease!

Bush thinks history will judge him kindly, but that will be for historians to decide and he says that they would have to consult administration documents to get to the bottom of some important questions. That seems a bit disingenuous and difficult considering the executive privilege stance allowed per the Presidential Records Act that insures the privacy of presidential documents IF they were even retained.

Bush plans on pursuing his "freedom agenda" at his institute, modeled on Stanford's Hoover Institution. I have no doubt that this will become a reality, and I also have doubt that their definition of freedom will be any more in line with the general US population than it is now. Just make sure his fantastic freedom institute is stocked with plenty of purple koolaid. The president obviously intends to live his retirement in his fantasy world while the rest of us try to put the pieces back together again.