Military Families Speak Out Washington State Chapter

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Bring Them Home Now!

One of the features of military families in this war that differs from previous wars is that there are more young married soldiers.

Here are some statistics:

-- in Iraq war, soldiers often married, with children

-- 55% of military personnel are married. 56% of those married are between 22 and 29.

-- One million military children are under 11.

-- 40% are 5 or younger.

-- 63% of spouses work, including 87% of junior-enlisted spouses.

Source: Department of Defense and National Military Family Association.



Dissent is loyalty Robert Taft, the conservative Ohio senator who is a hero to many of today's conservatives, gave a speech at the Executive Club of Chicago in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor.

There are a number of paragraphs that are just grand, but here's the best one, which is worth quoting in full:

As a matter of general principle, I believe there can be no doubt that criticism in time of war is essential to the maintenance of any kind of democratic government

... too many people desire to suppress criticism simply because they think that it will give some comfort to the enemy to know that there is such criticism.

If that comfort makes the enemy feel better for a few moments, they are welcome to it as far as I am concerned, because
the maintenance of the right of criticism in the long run will do the country maintaining it a great deal more good than it will do the enemy,
and will prevent mistakes which might otherwise occur.

Drink in those words.

That's not William Fulbright two years into the Vietnam War.

It's not Ted Kennedy last week.

It's Mr. Republican, speaking -- when? Not mid-1943, or even March 1942

Taft delivered this speech ... on December 19, 1941!

That's right: Twelve days after the worst attack on American soil in the country's history,

perhaps with bodies still floating in the harbor,

the leader of the congressional opposition said to the president, 'we will question, we will probe, we will debate.'

By Michael Tomasky,
The AMERICAN Prospect online


Order and send postcards to Congress - Fund our Troops, Defund the

Bring Them Home Now postage stamps


For more information see Appeal for Redress website.


For more information go to dvd 'The Ground Truth' website.


Some Past Campaigns - Washington state chapter MFSO members participation

2007

(photo - Daniel Ellsberg, Lt. Ehren Watada)

(photo - Organizing Team; Lietta Ruger - MFSO - WA chapter introduces the Panelists)

(photo - on the Panel - Elizabeth Falzone - GSFSO/ MFSO - WA chapter and Rich Moniak - MFSO - Alaska chapter listen to two days of testimony)

(photo - close up of Panelists Elizabeth Falzone - GSFSO/ MFSO - WA chapter and Rich Moniak - MFSO - Alaska chapter)

(photo - rRetired Diplomat Col. Ann Wright gives her testimony)

(photo - Organizing Team - Lietta Ruger - MFSO - WA chapter with retired Col. Ann Wright - Testifier)

(photo - Stacy Bannerma, wife of returning Iraq veteran - WA Natl Guard, gives testimony)

(photo - close up Stacy Bannerman, author of 'When The War Came Home' gives her testimony. Formerly MFSO - WA chapter. For more on Stacy, her book, media archives, see her website at www.stacybannerman.com)

(photo - IVAW veterans Geoffrey Millard and former Lt. Harvey Tharp give their testimony)

See website; 'Citizens' Hearing on Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq';

Jan 20-21- 2007, Tacoma, WA.

A 2 day citizens' tribunal support action in defense of Lt. Ehren Watada court martial at Fort Lewis.

(Organizing Team from MFSO - WA chapter; Lietta Ruger, Judy Linehan)

2006


(photo Lietta Ruger, MFSO- WA, in support Lt. Ehren Watada, June 2006, Tacoma, WA)

(photo - Jenny Keesey, Judy Linehan, Lietta Ruger - from MFSO-WA in support of Lt. Ehren Watada June 2006, Tacoma, WA)

(photo - Lietta Ruger, Judy Linehan, Jenny Keesey - from MFSO - WA chapter, June 2006, Tacoma, WA)

(photo - Judy Linehan, MFSO - WA at support rally for Lt. Watada, June 2006, Tacoma, WA)

June 2006 ongoing through court martial Feb 2007

For more information, see 'Thank You Lt. Ehren Watada' website.


(photo - right is Stacy Bannerman, MFSO -WA; organizing team)

Representative Brian Baird, Washington state 3rd Congressional District, in blue shirt comes out to talk with MFSO members at 'Operation House Call')

'Operation House Call' June thru August 2006 in Washington DC.

MFSO members make individual calls on Senators and Representatives advocating to Bring Them Home Now.

For more information go to 'Operation House Call' website.

postcards sent to Congress - summer 2006, 'Operation House Call'


2005


(photo - Lietta Ruger, MFSO-WA on central tour. Not pictured - Stacy Bannerman, MFSO -WA on northern tour)

Bring Them Home Now tour - Sept 1 thru Sept 25 2005. From Crawford, Texas to Washington DC. see Bring Them Home Now tour website


(photo - left Lietta Ruger, MFSO -WA with center Cindy Sheehan and right Juan Torres at Crawford, Texas, Camp Casey, Aug 9, 2005


2004

photos from Newshour with Jim Lehrer; segment 'Homefront Battles' aired Oct 2004.

Online video, audio and article still available at Newshour website. photo - Sue Niederer, MFSO. Her son U.S. Army 2nd Lt.Seth Dvorin, 24 yrs old was killed in Iraq Feb 3, 2004.

photo - Nancy Lessin, MFSO Co-Founder

photo - Lietta Ruger, MFSO - WA

photo - Stacy Bannerman, MFSO - WA


See at Seattle PI; List of casualties with Washington state ties

This is one of WA state casualties; Army Spc. Jonathan J. Santos, Whatcom County, Washington died Oct 15, 2004

Watch a slide show of family photos and listen to audio recordings of Army Cpl. Jonathan Santos' mother, brother and the woman who's documenting his life.

See the trailer for the documentary "The Corporal's Boots." (QuickTime 7 required).

A special thank you to mother, Doris Kent - GSFSO/ MFSO - WA for her generous sharing and contribution in speaking of her son's life and death in Iraq


Title 17 disclaimer In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.
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mfso@mfso.org




Military Families Speak Out
is an organization of people who are opposed to war in Iraq and who have relatives or loved ones in the military. We were formed in November of 2002 and have contacts with military families throughout the United States, and in other countries around the world.

As people with family members and loved ones in the military, we have both a special need and a unique role to play in speaking out against war in Iraq. It is our loved ones who are, or have been, or will be on the battlefront. It is our loved ones who are risking injury and death. It is our loved ones who are returning scarred from their experiences. It is our loved ones who will have to live with the injuries and deaths among innocent Iraqi civilians.

If you have family members or loved ones in the military and you are opposed to this war join us.

Send us an e-mail at
mfso@mfso.org
.
You can call us at 617-522-9323
or Send us mail at:
MFSO
P.O. Box 549
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130.

click here - MFSO Membership Form – to join Military Families Speak Out or

JOIN us by sending an e-mail to mfso@mfso.org.


MFSO - Become a Member

Membership in MFSO is open to anyone who has a family member or loved one serving, since August 2002, in any branch of our Armed Forces

* The Reserves

* The National Guard

* Returned from serving but still eligible for redeployment under stop loss.

There is no membership fee. Donations are welcome.

People who are not eligible for MFSO membership may join our Supporter Group. You are welcome to attend meetings that are open to the public, volunteer to help with event preparation and participate in our community actions and events. Supporters may purchase MFSO t-shirts and wear them with the "Proud Supporter of MFSO" button. Buttons may also be worn without the t-shirt.

Our Supporters provide emotional encouragement and physical help to our MFSO military families who are under extreme stress, especially if their loved one is in Iraq or Afghanistan

We welcome your involvement, please contact us.


click to see the list MFSO chapters other than Washington state forming around the country.


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Sunday, 4 February 2007

Now Playing: Arthur Ruger
Topic: Lt. Ehren Watada

patriotically unacceptable because of a possible "harm" to troop discipline and morale

The Watada court martial opens this week. Concerned citizen activists are gathering in and around Fort Lewis discussing and/or planning what they are going to do about this court martial.

The primary priority for some is an ultimate acquittal for the Lt. - meaning minimal or no time served in incarceration.

For others, the Watada case represents a potential talk-of-the-nation discussion of the war, the lies and the future.

Without worrying about whether or not the Lt. "loses" his case and has to serve time for it - and I sincerely hope that does not happen - I'm worried about much more. I both worry about and hope is that this nation with a majority of families who DON'T have skin in the game will address the absence of moral responsibility for what leaders have done in our name.

 

I've written previously about the antics of civilian leadership when it deliberately ignores or downplays the horrific consequences of war, bombing campaigns and torture, justifying an evil  by something other than literal defense of the homeland. This is a reflection of legitimate moral blindness that puts military families at a disproportionate amount of risk in this country.

We have let them get away with it.

In the face of our obsession with Super Bowls, car races, idols, survivors and celebrity dancers we see revealed a tragic flaw in our civilian society.

This in a nation established and sustained by military will, strength and courage.

The history of our revolution, our Civil War and the World Wars does not reflect a nation primarily ignorant of this nation's foreign and domestic affairs. Back then the country was not dominated by consumers sitting around playing games, pursuing entertainment and dabbling in pursuits of fame and fortune all the while waiting for a president to tell them what to do and why.

They were not dependent solely on the president to tell them that it was time to start paying attention and what they should focus on.

They were more aware back then of the real global situation. They were willing to join up or send their sons and daughters, trusting that their President was both honest and wise in commanding as chief.

Not this time in this age of America.

The recent Citizen's Tribunal in Tacoma - among other things - was a public effort at showcasing many of the legitimate arguments supporting the illegality of the war.

The military, which of itself doesn't make the decision to invade and occupy, nor initiate shock and awe without being ordered to do so, must build a case against Watada that establishes or justifies the "harm" of his words and actions.

It's in the Army's best interest to portray Watada's actions not only as violations of the UCMJ, but patriotically unacceptable because of a possible "harm" to troop discipline and morale; supposedly impacting the effectiveness of troops already serving in harm's way.

When the Watada Court Martial commences, are we likely to see prosecution attempt to justify its position by calling on families, wives and children of active duty personnel in Iraq to testify about Ehren`s negative impact on troop morale as well as the morale of military families?

You bet we are and there`s nothing unfair about that as a legal tactic.

The recent Tribunal either attempted and failed or more likely chose not to bring in rebuttal testimony and I'm not faulting them for that. The Panel Chairperson announced early on that the Tribunal made no claims to impartiality, only to truth. The panel then proceeded toward truth with a view unrestricted by procedural concerns, equal time or rebuttals.

But at the Court Martial, if we see families testifying as to how harmful the Lt's actions are, what do we do with that point of view?

It's one thing to be part of an activist group, crowd or mob where the choir dominates, speeches run to redundancy and spontaneity of action usually results in mighty roars of approval.

It's another to speak amidst a crowd or to an audience wherein mixed perspectives and priorities are present. Roars of approval then compete with disapproving shouts. For activists seeking chain reactions and stampedes the thrill is not the same.

My point with this is to examine ultimately what Lt. Watada and those bearing the grandest scale perspectives think they are after with Ehren.

Based on his own statements, I'm assuming that Lt. Watada hopes to start a cascade of feelings that generate thoughts that lead to words and finally actions that stop the war, end the killing and bring the crimes to a halt.

That's a reasonable message to send to military families, not some sort of "free Watada from the brig" civil disobedience that elevates one individual beyond that which he himself desires or to an undue level of importance at the expense of something greater.

Lietta and I, as members of Military Families Speak Out, do not desire divisiveness with any other military families over a  Watada-deserves-punishment versus Watada-deserves-freedom issue.

Watada himself is not the point.  

Although I make no comparison between Watada and Jesus, I see in some activists an insistance that support for Watada is more important that what Watada is talking about.

And that attitude is not unlike contemporary Evangelical Christianity and its excessive focus on Jesus himself rather than the philosophy and God Jesus pointed to as a means of making humanity more humane, less cruel, less judgmental, less self-interested and less violent.

In my opinion, citizens in this country must take ownership and responsibility for the actions carried out in our names. We do not let anyone irresponsibly and without accountablility send our children out to fight. We do not expect our children to serve this country with no sense of ethics simply because the ethical and moral sense has been assigned to higher authorities.

What we want of all military families is a projection - into the lives of their loved ones who serve - the safety AND moral issues connected with the purpose of service right now in Iraq.

We don't want a military wife to tell us what's right or wrong about Watada.

We do ask that a military wife focus on her husband and the situational and moral quagmire he is in; that he's stuck in his current venue because no one to date has challenged the legality of the orders given him nor the ultimate unwise and unethical civilian source.

We don't excuse our soldiers for ethical and moral lapses because authorities placed in positions of appointed power have - with self-preserving hypocrisy - labeled offenders as some few "bad apples," who deserve no further close scrutiny and need to be locked up, the key thrown away.

We should not tolerate civilian administrators pleading innocence because of the vast gap between the highest echelons of authority and the lowest front line chain of command;

 

a front line where sergeants can be punished because a corporal suffered from the same moral blindness as those self-serving civilians on Mount The invasion that became a military occupation has deteriorated to an on-going action carried on in the name of staying on a course that has been revealed as illegal, immoral and destructive of the innocent.

 

  • staying a false course that deliberately destroys more innocent victims than it does terrorists

     

  • because we were lied to by a dishonest leadership  that now declares that ending the illegal aggression would be "cutting and running."

     

This lack of moral responsibility pervades the current administration which is now seated at the steering wheel;

- villainous fools who are passing judgment on the moral fiber of anyone who disagrees, thereby labeling dissent as treason.

Our soldiers absolutely must emerge from basic and combat training with moral competence intact.

I hope that stories of institutionalized programming of racial hatred, bigotry, stereotyping and name-calling are not predominantly a part of teaching warriors a moral and ethical code. If the testimony and stories reflect what is happeneing across the board, I again declare here and now that the military training organizations are not doing it in my name nor on behalf of my family.

I repudiate these training tactics based on moral recklessness.

We hopefully raise our children with the expectation that they will become independent and self-reliant adults.



If my son or daughter joins the military and enters into its initiations, I am not being unreasonable in expecting that this current  military establishment reclaims its own sense of ethical and moral responsibility from the immorality of a corrupt president and his party.

I expect that sense to coincide with that which we as parents have endeavored to plant in our children's hearts.

I expect that all military families are not unreasonable in such an expectation before they decide to say who is patriotic and who isn't.

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Saturday, 3 February 2007

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger at Washblog
Topic: Politicians in Action

Congressman Capuano to Vote No Supplemental Appropriations Iraq war. Will WA Congressionals vote No?

"I fully expect to vote no on the upcoming supplemental appropriations bill to continue funding the war in Iraq and I will do everything in my power to prevent an escalation of troops. We have lost far too many lives already." Congressman Michael E. Capuano (D) Massachusetts.

Imploring U.S. Representatives - WA state to vote likewise and support your colleague, U.S. Congressman Michael Capuano, in voting No on upcoming supplemental appropriations bill to continue funding the war in Iraq.
Representatives
Click on names to get to Web mail form
Senators
U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, please vote in solidarity - vote no to supplemental appropriations bill to continue funding the war in Iraq.
Cantwell, Maria- (D - WA)
(202) 224-3441
Murray, Patty- (D - WA)
(202) 224-2621

Our Military Family Speak Out (MFSO - www.mfso.org) families continue to engage U.S. Congress one on one showing the 'reasoning' as to why it is imperative to vote no on the supplemental appropriations to continue to fund the war.  Military families would not willingly  ask for legislation that would further endanger their deployed loved ones lives, and are assured there is adequate funding at this time to undertake the redeployment process to bring the troops home now.  

This is not a banner slogan or chant, but a most serious imploring Congress to act within the power imbued by the voters upon each of our U.S. Senators and Representatives to act using the power of the purse.

Understanding the serious nature of the job of Congress, we ask for a humane end to the unmitigable circumstances for our troops of what is now identified by latest Intelligence report issued this week as a   Civil War of the factions in Iraq. U.S. troops presence there can neither help nor hinder the deteriorated circumstances of Iraq.  Prospects in Iraq, based on this latest intellignece, are described equally as horrible consequences whether our troops remain or come home.  

An email I received late this week (text below) includes a letter received by one of our MFSO staff from Congressman Michael E. Capuano.  We applaud his courage and ask it of those representing Washington state in Congress.

Please help us by asking each of our U.S. Representatives and Senators to exercise the courage to say no more and vote no on supplemental appropriations.  

text of Congressman Capuano's letter to MFSO staffer:

   


  January 9, 2007

    Dear Friends,

    Thank you for your concern over what is clearly one of the most critical issues facing our nation today. As some of you may know, I have been opposed to the war in Iraq from the beginning. I opposed the October 2002 Congressional resolution authorizing President Bush to use force in Iraq and I continue to speak out against the war at all opportunities.

    I am deeply opposed to the President's proposal to increase troop levels in Iraq and I will not support any efforts to move in this direction. I believe that this is exactly the wrong way to go and I have discussed my adamant opposition with many of my colleagues, including Speaker Pelosi, who is also gravely concerned about any escalation in troops. In fact, Speaker Pelosi and Senator Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, recently sent a letter to the President, opposing a surge in troops.

    I fully expect to vote no on the upcoming supplemental appropriations bill to continue funding the war in Iraq and I will do everything in my power to prevent an escalation of troops. We have lost far too many lives already.

    I thank you for your activism and I hope that we can work together to end this war.

    Sincerely,

    Michael E. Capuano
    Member of Congress

.....While there are several recently-filed pieces of legislation that have provisions for cutting the funding for the war in Iraq and bringing our troops home, these measures if passed would be vetoed by President Bush, and there is no veto-proof margin. If the Supplemental Appropriations bill, on the other hand, is not passed by EITHER the House or the Senate, it will never land on the President's desk and can not be subject to a veto. If in the next several weeks Congress can be convinced to vote against further funding for the war in Iraq, this war can be brought to an end......

An anecdotal report of a military mother at U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Jan 30, 2007 imploring that her Marine son, broken by two deployments in Iraq, not be sent back for third deployment in Iraq.

* McMorris, Cathy(R) - 5th District
      Republican representative from Washington.
      www.mcmorris.house.gov
    * McDermott, Jim (D) - 7th District
      Democratic representative from Washington.
      www.house.gov/mcdermott
    * Smith, Adam (D) - 9th District
      Democratic representative from Washington.
      www.house.gov/adamsmith
    * Inslee, Jay (D) - 1st District
      Democratic representative from Washington.
      www.house.gov/inslee
    * Dicks, Norm (D) - 6th District
      Democratic representative from Washington.
      www.house.gov/dicks
    * Larsen, Rick (D) - 2nd District
      Democratic representative from Washington.
      www.house.gov/larsen
    * Baird, Brian (D) - 3rd District, Washington
      Democratic representative from Washington.
      www.house.gov/baird
    * Hastings, Doc (R) - 4th District
      Republican representative from Washington.
      www.house.gov/hastings
    * Reichert, Dave (R) - 8th District
      Republican representative from Washington.
      www.house.gov/reichert

U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, please vote in solidarity - vote no to supplemental appropriations bill to continue funding the war in in Iraq.

Cantwell, Maria- (D - WA)   
511 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3441
Web Form: cantwell.senate.gov/contact/index.html

Murray, Patty- (D - WA)    Class III
173 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2621
Web Form: murray.senate.gov/email/index.cfm


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Saturday, 27 January 2007

Now Playing: WASHINGTON, Jan. 27 -- Tens of thousands of protesters converged on the National Mall
Topic: Events

"When we voted it was a directive to bring our troops home NOW"

By Arthur Ruger
Sat Jan 27, 2007 at 08:23:12 PM PST

Section: Stories In Progress Topic: Military
 

...said the Rev. Graylan S. Hagler of Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington, referring to the November elections when Democrats won control of Congress.

Today was a big day for the good guys in this country. We would like to have been there with them.

Commondreams.org has published the New York Times article about today's demonstrations.

 

Protest Focuses on Troop Increase for Iraq
by Ian Urbina

 

WASHINGTON, Jan. 27  --  Tens of thousands of protesters converged on the National Mall on Saturday to oppose President Bush's plan for a troop increase in Iraq in what organizers hoped would be one of the largest shows of antiwar sentiment in the nation's capital since the war began.


Nice beginning.

When Lietta was on the Bring Them Home Now Bus Tour that culminated with the mass demonstration in Washington D.C. in September, 2005, media and official estimates put the crowd at 200,000 - 300,000 people. In reality, the number was closer to 600,000.

At least today they are admitting to 400,000 for starters.




'BRING MY HUSBAND HOME NOW!'

The unidentified wife of an Army Ranger serving in Iraq holds a sign near the U.S. Capitol during a protest against the war in Iraq Saturday, Jan. 27, 2007 in Washington.(AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)


The event drew demonstrators from across the country, and many said that in addition to taking their discontent to the streets they planned to press members of Congress to oppose the war.

"When we voted it was a directive to bring our troops home now," said the Rev. Graylan S. Hagler of Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington, referring to the November elections when Democrats won control of Congress.

So how many of those Americans described as supportive by the Bush/McCain/Lieberman propaganda team went to D.C. to counteract the effect of 400,000 rejections of a sitting president, his war-toady heir apparent and whistle-past-the-graveyard Holy Joe?

The article answers that question with its final paragraphs.

"Many intend to stay and press members of Congress to oppose the war."

Maybe they'll go after some of those Republican Senators hanging around waiting to drop more amendments on to the minimum wage bill

 




 

SURGING ON THE CAPITOL

Marchers parade down Independence Ave. near the U.S. capitol during a protest against the war in Iraq Saturday, Jan. 27, 2007 in Washington.Organizers said that over 400,000 marched.(AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

"I grew up during the Vietnam War, but I never protested it and never had my lottery number called to go fight," said David Quinly, a 54-year-old carpenter from Prairie Village, Kan., who arrived here Friday night with about 50 others after a 23-hour bus ride.

"In my view, this one is a war of choice and a war for profit against a culture and people we don't understand," Mr. Quinly said. "I knew I had to speak up this time."

"I've got a son who just got out of the military and another still in," said Jackie Smith, 65, from Sunapee, N.H., whose sign read "Bush Bin Lyin." "And I'm here because this is all I can do to try to help them."


And there's a lot more of us baby-boomers - many of whom sat out the domestic fight in this country last time who flat out aren't going to make the same mistake twice ...not this time. Our kids deserve a hell of a lot more than tha!

 

Tassi McKee, from Bastrop, La., who said she was a staff sergeant in the Air Force, was among a small contingent of about 20 active-duty service members who turned out. "I believe this has become a civil war, and we are being hurt and making matters worse by staying in the middle of it," Sergeant McKee said.

She said that it was not illegal for active-duty members to attend protests but that it was strongly discouraged.

I suspect there are more Watada's out there just needing encouragement

 

Veterans were more numerous among the crowd.

Dressed in the olive green, military-issued flight jacket that he said he wore during the invasion of Iraq while serving as a Marine sergeant, Jack Teller, 26, said he joined a caravan from Greenville, N.C., because he felt that it was his duty.

"I don't like wearing the jacket because it reminds me that I participated in an immoral and illegal war," said Mr. Teller, who had "Iraq Veterans Against the War" stenciled on the back of his jacket. "But it's important to make a political statement."

Fernando Braga, a 24-year-old Bronx native who is a member of the Army National Guard, said that he was skeptical of the war before it started. Mr. Braga said his views hardened into opposition while he served in Iraq from March 2004 through January 2005.

"My own commander told us when we arrived that if we thought we were there for any reason other than oil then we had another think coming," he said. "I realized even commanding officers were against it but following orders."

How about some active duty opinions from the Ocupation in Iraq?

 

President Bush, who often spends weekends at Camp David, was in Washington on Saturday but had no public events scheduled. He spent part of the morning on his weekly bicycle ride at a Secret Service training facility in Beltsville, Md.

With nothing to say ... and only a White House spokesman to recognize the right of assembly, free speech and an appeal for redress ... all of which Mr. Bush pedallingly ignored. I'm betting he pedaled nowhere near anyone willing to carry out a citizen's arrest, eh?

 

Counterprotesters also converged on the mall in smaller numbers, but the antiwar demonstration was largely peaceful.

There were a few tense moments, however, including an encounter involving Joshua Sparling, 25, who was on crutches and who said he was a corporal with the 82nd Airborne Division and lost his right leg below the knee in Ramadi, Iraq. Mr. Sparling spoke at a smaller rally held earlier in the day at the United States Navy Memorial, and voiced his support for the administration's policies in Iraq.

Later, as antiwar protesters passed where he and his group were standing, words were exchanged and one of the antiwar protestors spit at the ground near Mr. Sparling; he spit back.

Capitol police made the antiwar protestors walk farther away from the counterprotesters.

"These are not Americans as far as I'm concerned," Mr. Sparling said.

Another counterprotester, Larry Stark, 71, a retired Navy officer who fought in Vietnam for five years and was a prisoner of war, said, "We never lost a battle in Vietnam but we lost the war, and the same is going to be true in Iraq if these protesters have their way."

The protesters on Saturday were undermining troop morale, Mr. Stark said, and increasing the likelihood of a premature withdrawal.

"It's like we never learn from the past," he said.

Another commentary on what happens when feelings run high enough to get people off their bottoms and into the streets to rally for both sides of an issue.

... and isn't that what freedom of speech and assembly is all about?



War opponents preparing for today's protest on the National Mall.
The shoes and names written on the box represent civilians killed in Iraq.
Stefan Zaklin/European Pressphoto Agency

 


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST

Now Playing: WASHINGTON, Jan. 27 -- Tens of thousands of protesters converged on the National Mall
Topic: Events

"When we voted it was a directive to bring our troops home NOW"

By Arthur Ruger
Sat Jan 27, 2007 at 08:23:12 PM PST

Section: Stories In Progress Topic: Military
 

...said the Rev. Graylan S. Hagler of Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington, referring to the November elections when Democrats won control of Congress.

Today was a big day for the good guys in this country. We would like to have been there with them.

Commondreams.org has published the New York Times article about today's demonstrations.

Protest Focuses on Troop Increase for Iraq
by Ian Urbina

 

WASHINGTON, Jan. 27  --  Tens of thousands of protesters converged on the National Mall on Saturday to oppose President Bush's plan for a troop increase in Iraq in what organizers hoped would be one of the largest shows of antiwar sentiment in the nation's capital since the war began.


Nice beginning.

When Lietta was on the Bring Them Home Now Bus Tour that culminated with the mass demonstration in Washington D.C. in September, 2005, media and official estimates put the crowd at 200,000 - 300,000 people. In reality, the number was closer to 600,000.

At least today they are admitting to 400,000 for starters.




'BRING MY HUSBAND HOME NOW!'

The unidentified wife of an Army Ranger serving in Iraq holds a sign near the U.S. Capitol during a protest against the war in Iraq Saturday, Jan. 27, 2007 in Washington.(AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)


The event drew demonstrators from across the country, and many said that in addition to taking their discontent to the streets they planned to press members of Congress to oppose the war.

"When we voted it was a directive to bring our troops home now," said the Rev. Graylan S. Hagler of Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington, referring to the November elections when Democrats won control of Congress.

So how many of those Americans described as supportive by the Bush/McCain/Lieberman propaganda team went to D.C. to counteract the effect of 400,000 rejections of a sitting president, his war-toady heir apparent and whistle-past-the-graveyard Holy Joe?

The article answers that question with its final paragraphs.

"Many intend to stay and press members of Congress to oppose the war."

Maybe they'll go after some of those Republican Senators hanging around waiting to drop more amendments on to the minimum wage bill

 




 

SURGING ON THE CAPITOL

Marchers parade down Independence Ave. near the U.S. capitol during a protest against the war in Iraq Saturday, Jan. 27, 2007 in Washington.Organizers said that over 400,000 marched.(AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

"I grew up during the Vietnam War, but I never protested it and never had my lottery number called to go fight," said David Quinly, a 54-year-old carpenter from Prairie Village, Kan., who arrived here Friday night with about 50 others after a 23-hour bus ride.

"In my view, this one is a war of choice and a war for profit against a culture and people we don't understand," Mr. Quinly said. "I knew I had to speak up this time."

"I've got a son who just got out of the military and another still in," said Jackie Smith, 65, from Sunapee, N.H., whose sign read "Bush Bin Lyin." "And I'm here because this is all I can do to try to help them."


And there's a lot more of us baby-boomers - many of whom sat out the domestic fight in this country last time who flat out aren't going to make the same mistake twice ...not this time. Our kids deserve a hell of a lot more than tha!

 

Tassi McKee, from Bastrop, La., who said she was a staff sergeant in the Air Force, was among a small contingent of about 20 active-duty service members who turned out. "I believe this has become a civil war, and we are being hurt and making matters worse by staying in the middle of it," Sergeant McKee said.

She said that it was not illegal for active-duty members to attend protests but that it was strongly discouraged.

I suspect there are more Watada's out there just needing encouragement

 

Veterans were more numerous among the crowd.

Dressed in the olive green, military-issued flight jacket that he said he wore during the invasion of Iraq while serving as a Marine sergeant, Jack Teller, 26, said he joined a caravan from Greenville, N.C., because he felt that it was his duty.

"I don't like wearing the jacket because it reminds me that I participated in an immoral and illegal war," said Mr. Teller, who had "Iraq Veterans Against the War" stenciled on the back of his jacket. "But it's important to make a political statement."

Fernando Braga, a 24-year-old Bronx native who is a member of the Army National Guard, said that he was skeptical of the war before it started. Mr. Braga said his views hardened into opposition while he served in Iraq from March 2004 through January 2005.

"My own commander told us when we arrived that if we thought we were there for any reason other than oil then we had another think coming," he said. "I realized even commanding officers were against it but following orders."

How about some active duty opinions from the Ocupation in Iraq?

 

President Bush, who often spends weekends at Camp David, was in Washington on Saturday but had no public events scheduled. He spent part of the morning on his weekly bicycle ride at a Secret Service training facility in Beltsville, Md.

With nothing to say ... and only a White House spokesman to recognize the right of assembly, free speech and an appeal for redress ... all of which Mr. Bush pedallingly ignored. I'm betting he pedaled nowhere near anyone willing to carry out a citizen's arrest, eh?

 

Counterprotesters also converged on the mall in smaller numbers, but the antiwar demonstration was largely peaceful.

There were a few tense moments, however, including an encounter involving Joshua Sparling, 25, who was on crutches and who said he was a corporal with the 82nd Airborne Division and lost his right leg below the knee in Ramadi, Iraq. Mr. Sparling spoke at a smaller rally held earlier in the day at the United States Navy Memorial, and voiced his support for the administration's policies in Iraq.

Later, as antiwar protesters passed where he and his group were standing, words were exchanged and one of the antiwar protestors spit at the ground near Mr. Sparling; he spit back.

Capitol police made the antiwar protestors walk farther away from the counterprotesters.

"These are not Americans as far as I'm concerned," Mr. Sparling said.

Another counterprotester, Larry Stark, 71, a retired Navy officer who fought in Vietnam for five years and was a prisoner of war, said, "We never lost a battle in Vietnam but we lost the war, and the same is going to be true in Iraq if these protesters have their way."

The protesters on Saturday were undermining troop morale, Mr. Stark said, and increasing the likelihood of a premature withdrawal.

"It's like we never learn from the past," he said.

Another commentary on what happens when feelings run high enough to get people off their bottoms and into the streets to rally for both sides of an issue.

... and isn't that what freedom of speech and assembly is all about?


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Friday, 26 January 2007

Now Playing: Wsconsin Senator Russ Feingold
Topic: Politicians in Action

FEINGOLD TO CHAIR JUDICIARY HEARING ON CONGRESS'S POWER TO END A WAR


Feingold wants troops out of Iraq
Photo via WisOpinion.com

Press release on Senator Feingold's site

I went into last weekend's Citizen Hearing not yet convinced that Congress has the power to end the war with or without the President. I was also not totally convinced that impeachement was worth the effort. Senator Feingold is out to discover the answer to my first question.

Based on Bush and Cheney words and deeds over the past seven days, I've concluded that we truly have an obligation as duty-bound citizens - at the highest level of civic responsibility - to go as far toward impeachment as we can.

 


FEINGOLD TO CHAIR JUDICIARY HEARING ON CONGRESS'S POWER TO END A WAR

January 25, 2007

Washington, D.C. - On Tuesday, January 30th, U.S. Senator Russ Feingold will chair a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing entitled, "Exercising Congress's Constitutional Power to End a War." Earlier this month, Feingold, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Constitution, became the first Senator to call on Congress to use its power of the purse to redeploy our troops safely from Iraq so that we can refocus on the global terrorist networks that threaten our national security. Feingold proposed this action after President George Bush announced plans to escalate our military involvement in Iraq despite the objections of members of both parties, military and foreign policy experts, and the American people.

"Congress holds the power of the purse and if the President continues to advance his failed Iraq policy, we have the responsibility to use that power to safely redeploy our troops from Iraq," Feingold said. "This hearing will help inform my colleagues and the public about Congress's power to end a war and how that power has been used in the past. I will soon be introducing legislation to use the power of the purse to end what is clearly one of the greatest mistakes in the history of our nation's foreign policy."

Witnesses at the hearing will include:

    * Louis Fisher, Library of Congress:
    * Prof. Walter Dellinger, Duke University School of Law, former Solicitor General of the United States
    * Prof. David Barron, Harvard Law School
    * Prof. Robert Turner, University of Virginia Law School

Who: U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on the Constitution

What: Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing -- "Exercising Congress's Constitutional Power to End a War." Feingold will chair the full committee hearing.

Where: SD - 226

When: Tuesday, January 30th - 10:00 am ET

Senator Feingold's remarks from yesterday's Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting regarding the need to end our involvement in Iraq can be viewed and heard here: http://feingold.senate.gov/~feingold/statements/07/01/20070124.htm.

Our generation taught our children's generation - whether our kids are truly aware and appreciate it - that citizen opinion and action can vigorously and effectively shove the government in the right direction.

And a reminder, as we were told at the hearing, it was citizen action, not Congressmen threatening to withold funding, that stopped Nixon from tossing nukes into the VietNam war in late 1969 OR 70.


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Monday, 22 January 2007

Now Playing: Women's Support Group
  

 

WOMEN’S SUPPORT GROUP 

Often when service men and women come back from Iraq there are injuries that go beyond the physical.  Families must confront that their loved ones are changed in ways that are very difficult for the service person as well as the family. The women whose husbands have been in Iraq face these intensely difficult situations often feeling very alone and without support.

The Women’s Support Group is a group dedicated to healing the emotional wounds of these women.

WOMEN’S SUPPORT GROUP

EVERY TUESDAY NIGHT AT 7PM-8:30PM

TRINITY UNITED METHODIST CHURCH

6512 - 23 RD AVE NW

SEATTLE, WA 98117

CALL: PATRICIA SCOTT LCSW

206-361-1314 

FREE 



Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Updated: Sunday, 18 March 2007 8:45 AM PDT

Topic: Events

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST

Now Playing: Arthur Ruger
Topic: Civic Duty

We Were There: Thoughts on getting away with talking mean about the government

Part I

Photo is mine

About half way through the Hearing, my brain suddenly connected the dots of concepts from the American Government class I took as a 12th grader in 1964. Here we sat assembled talking about our government and what's wrong with it,

- perhaps a  majority of us taking for granted how that document (whose name gets tossed around like mustard and ketchup at a barbecue) protects us with more force and authority than had a brigade of troops standing guard outside the doors been present (unless necessary which then would make a military brigade a right of every citizen.)

What better demonstration that what all this is about is to live in one of the very few places on the globe where we can get away with it; that in a democracy some things lead to even greater manifestations of citizen power.

 

Here's what we got away with this past weekend:

 

Amendment I - Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression. Ratified 12/15/1791.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Being married to an activist who can get things done has its positive perks which include sitting up front where I can hear and see stuff a lot more thoroughly. (And even for an old Veteran who thinks he's seen it all and knows everything, sitting up that close is no place to be caught falling asleep!)


Photo  of Lietta is mine

So I thought I'd get my notebook and write down what I expected would be a thought, concept or cool quote that might enter my ears once every ...  oh, say 45 minutes. I'd hear something I could use as a talking point or theme for long-winded articles or rants.

So ready to take notes, both feet on the floor and somewhat alert,  I started listening and then began to write.

When it was over the old callous on my writing finger was back, having regressed some 40 years ago.

I don't have a laptop, just a calloused writing finger and  36 pages of talking points.

I'll leaving the laptopping and live blogging to Noemi who ought to get some kind of blogging award from somebody who knows a good job when they read one.

So no, don't panic! I'm not going to write up 36 pages of talking points.

But I am going to start writing over the next few weeks about thoughts the came flying into  my awake old military-Veteran mind as I  sat protected by a document.

Thoughts:

What would a "Constitutional" model of citizenship look like?

Does a good citizen live in indifference to freedoms possessed by few and coveted by most who live on an entire planet?

Does a good citizen justifiably think that the pursuit of happiness includes mere patriotism of consuming American-made products, enjoying corporate sponsored shallow entertainment, going to work, giving up withheld taxes and living only for today?

Does a good citizen leave most of the important stuff to bigmouth politicians who talk down to an entire electorate that is far wiser that it itself realizes?

Does good citizenship stop at the door to a military recruiter's office?

Does a good citizen-soldier agree and commit to stop thinking and merely follow orders once a uniform is donned?

Hell yes!

 

  •  Hell yes, I will go!
  •  But don't tell me I can't think
  •  Don't tell me I can't discern
  •  and don't tell me I have to violate law and repudiate the Constitution to help some fool up my chain of command stay in the driver's seat.

     

Our assemby did not ask that question, but instead refused to wait for some sort of wise permission from any "higher authority" - elected or wannabe - that pretends to know more and understand more Civics than what we know and understand.

Our assembly waited for no one's endorsment.

 

  • We gathered

     

  • We deliberated

     

  • We will be heard

     

  • We will demand REAL American Constitutional justice for all!

     

We will ask, for example, of the Lieutenant's presiding Court Martial Judge,

if the illegality of the order to march out and kill is a concern included in the Consitution, why is it not relative to a thinking soldier's right?

By the way - to all fools who say "You signed on, you knew what you were doing, stop whining and get going!" - read an officer's oath.

That oath includes the primary and overarching vow to protect and obey the Constitution. Nowhere does an officer's oath -unlike an enlisted man's oath - include a vow to obey without question or assessment of orders from all superior officers.

So I'm already worked up but have to get going to work so I can earn more tax money to pay - among other things - other citizen soldiers to protect the rights of every other American citizen and their court marital presiders.

This then will start a series for me.

I'll close this morning with a quote from my distant relative, a much maligned (and deservedly so from my own reading of history) former president, but a highly admired, respected and effective military officer and commander of all American forces at the time. Ulysses S. Grant.

Grant's words in and of themselves, authorize any and all - past or present -  U.S. military  officers to think for themselves, even if they never run for president.

 

"one of the most unjust ever waged on a weaker country by a stronger." - On America's war against Mexico


Photo owner:thinkquest.org

More later ...

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Updated: Sunday, 18 March 2007 5:20 PM PDT
Sunday, 21 January 2007

Now Playing: Citzen's Tribunal on Legality of the War in Iraq
Topic: Lt. Ehren Watada

Citizens' Hearing on Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq

Tacoma, WA, Jan 20-21, 2007

Live Blogging Coverage at Washblog.com - almost verbatim reporting of the testimonies from Daniel Ellsberg, Ann Wright, Iraq veterans;  former JAG and Arabic linquist Lt Harvey Tharp, non-commissioned officer Geoffrey Millard, Richard Falk,Benjamin Davis, Denis Halliday.

 see more blogger reports of other testimonies at   Washblog.com

also visit Citizens' Hearing on Legalility of U.S. Actions in Iraq website for continually updated reports and audio of the 2 days of testimony.  You won't want to miss any of these poignant and powerful testimonies.

http://www.wartribunal.org

 

We intend for the Citizens' Hearing to heighten the discussion of the Iraq invasion and occupation in the public--and within the military itself--as similar tribunals did during the Vietnam War. We are inviting testimony by Iraq War witnesses and experts. Your donation will be used to bring the testifiers and panelists to Tacoma and to record the event so everyone can benefit from the testimony.

The hearing will present the case that Lt. Watada would, if allowed, make at his court martial. His defense attorneys maintain that the war on Iraq is illegal under international treaties and under Article Six of the U.S. Constitution. Further, Lt. Watada’s defense argues that the Nuremberg Principles and U.S. military regulations require soldiers to follow only "lawful orders." In Lt. Watada's view, deployment to Iraq would have made him party to the crimes that permeate the structure and conduct of military operations there.

The format of the Citizens' Hearing will resemble that of a congressional committee, employing a dignified approach to gathering information. Testimony will be offered by Iraq War veterans, experts in international law and war crimes, and human rights advocates. Your gift of funds (or frequent flyer miles) will enable more of these clear voices to be heard by people around the country and the world. Among the figures that have committed to testify are:

*Daniel Ellsberg, military analyst who released the Pentagon Papers in the Vietnam War;


*Denis Halliday, Former UN Assistant Secretary General, coordinated Iraq humanitarian aid;

*Richard Falk, Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University;

*Harvey Tharp, former U.S. Navy Lieutenant. Arabic linquist  and JAG stationed in Iraq;

*Ann Wright, Retired Army Colonel and State Department official;

*Stacy Bannerman Military Families Speak Out; author of "When the War Came Home"

*Antonia Juhasz, policy-analyst and author on U.S. economic policies in Iraq;

*John Burroughs, Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy executive director;

*Benjamin G. Davis, Assoc. Law Prof., Univ. of Toledo; expert on law of war;

*Eman Khammas, Iraqi human rights advocate (via video).

*Geoffrey Millard, 8 years in NY Army National Guard; stationed in Ground Zero, Kuwait, Iraq.

*Darrell Anderson, Army 1st Armored Division in Baghdad & Najaf; awarded Purple Heart

*Dennis Kyne, 15 years as Army medic & drill sergeant; trained in NBC warfare; Gulf War I.

*Francis Boyle, Professor of International Law at University of Illinois (video testimony)

*Chanan Suarez-Diaz, Former Navy hospital corpsman; awarded Purple Heart & Commendation with Valor.

A panel of citizens will hear the testimony, examine witnesses, and issue a fact-finding report. The panel will be comprised of veterans, members of military families, high school students, union members, and representatives of local governments, academia, and religious organizations. David Krieger, Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Former Army 2nd Lieutenant stationed in Hawaii during the Vietnam War, and a member of the Jury of Conscience at the 2005 World Tribunal on Iraq (in Istanbul) will serve as panel chair.

     read more at website - Citizens' Hearing on Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq  -   www.wartribunal.org


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Updated: Sunday, 18 March 2007 8:49 AM PDT
Friday, 19 January 2007

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger at Washblog
Topic: Local Lobbying

Doc Hastings; David Reichert are the only WA Legislator to Support Escalation in Iraq

Check the list to see how our WA Senators and House Members stand on escalation - Iraq war.

I'd like to see discussion on this develop here and I'd like to hear from supporters of  Doc Hastings -R- WA4  as to why - why support him in supporting an escalation?

Oh and look, Dave Reichert-R-WA8 refused to answer. What does that mean - he doesn't know his own position? Did I read down the list and correctly assert the position of our WA Legislators?  If I made a mistake, missed someone, please comment and let's get it accurate.  

Link - Senators and House Members on Troop Escalation

Perhaps it is untimely to post this as front page story and it would have better served as a diary.  I will be away from computer over the weekend. I have duties as one of the organizers of the Citizens' Hearing on Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq that is taking place this weekend in Tacoma. (see more at www.wartribunal.org)

Perhaps precisely because of the work that has gone into organizing what will be a citizen's tribunal on legality of Iraq war, it is so offensive to see any of our WA state Legislators take a stand in support of escalation in Iraq.

I do know about Dave Reichert, and I don't know much about Doc Hastings, but I am very disappointed to see there is not a unanimous stand of opposition to the escalation from our WA Legislators.    

Take a look at nationally among Senators and House Members who stands where on the escalation here .  


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST

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Criticism of the President is Patriotic

"The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly as necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile.

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else.

But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else."

Theodore Roosevelt, 1918, Lincoln and Free Speech