Category Archives: Iraq war

Merry Christmas, Staff Sergeant

I completely and bitterly oppose the war in Iraq.

I completely and warmly admire and respect the soldiers who serve there.

A former coworker’s son is currently leading a platoon of 30 guys in Iraq. She’s a single mom, and he’s her only child. She hasn’t seen him in, I think, nearly two years; they communicate whenever possible by email. This soldier’s mom opposes the war but, needless to say, supports any and all efforts to lend comfort and support to those who serve. She’s taken it upon herself to organize regular mailings of snacks, magazines, and other goodies to her son’s platoon members, some of whom receive no mail otherwise.

With Christmas approaching, she learned that some of the soldiers also receive no gifts, cards, or any other recognition of the holiday. And, of course, it’s a difficult day for the entire platoon, so far from home and family. So, she asked her friends to consider providing a Christmas box for a platoon member, to ensure that all the guys would experience some holiday cheer.

In the best and most magical of all worlds, I’d love to be able to transport the entire platoon here to my house and cook them Christmas dinner. I can’t begin to describe how much I’d enjoy having a house full of big, hungry guys who haven’t had home-cooked food in many months — I do so love to provide people with happiness and support in the form of food. Transport technology not being up to speed yet, I was delighted to temporarily adopt a soldier for the Christmas mailing. He’s 28, a Staff Sergeant, and the platoon artillery expert. That’s all I know.

My friend asked that we include for each soldier a $10 iTunes card, a pocket knife, a 6″ Mag flashlight, snacks, and a personal gift from us. The US Postal Service provides flat-rate boxes that you can stuff with whatever will fit and mail in the US or to soldiers for $8.95. The box measured 13.625″ x 11.875″ x 3.375. Fortunately I love to shop and to hunt for items that meet a specific purpose, and I’m also a past master at fitting a whole lot into a small space thanks to years of filling Christmas stockings. I had a wonderful time shopping for my soldier and then putting together the packing puzzle. When my box was full, it weighed 9-1/2 pounds. Here’s what was in it:

https://i1.wp.com/farm3.static.flickr.com/2181/2033659481_2b50f92613.jpg

(Actually, not all the items from all the snack boxes at the back fit, but I managed to squeeze in some of each.)

I also got a funny Christmas card, printed out some pictures of my family and our pets, and wrote the Staff Sergeant about who we are and where we live. I tried to express to him our respect and appreciation for all he’s doing. I hope he’ll write back.

Too many soldiers in Iraq and other places receive no mail and will get nothing for Christmas. If you know someone serving in harm’s way, you may be able to get the name of someone you could mail to, and thereby make a big difference in that soldier’s life. Or, you can go to sites like AnySoldier.com and TreatAnySoldier.com to find soldiers who need our support; the sites describe in detail what the soldiers want and need, and how/when/where you can send care packages and letters.

Merry Christmas, Staff Sergeant. Stay safe. I hope you and your comrades come home soon.

worth the cost? not even remotely close.

From the American Friends Service Committee’s Wage Peace campaign.

https://i2.wp.com/www.afsc.org/cost/images/money.jpg https://i2.wp.com/www.afsc.org/cost/images/schools.jpg

https://i0.wp.com/www.afsc.org/cost/images/teachers.jpg https://i0.wp.com/www.afsc.org/cost/images/headstart.jpg

https://i1.wp.com/www.afsc.org/cost/images/healthcare.gif https://i0.wp.com/www.afsc.org/cost/images/healthcarekids.jpg

interesting, edgy new anti-war video

This just in from Brave New Foundation, an offshoot of Brave New Films, which brought us Outfoxed, Iraq for Sale, and more:

It’s almost May 1st. Who can forget the so-called “Mission Accomplished” from four years ago? Who can forget the pomp and circumstance, the primping and posturing in a staged photo-op built on the backs of those destroyed by the war. The mission has not been accomplished.

1. Watch the film
2. Sign the petition
3. Enter the contest

In honor of all those who have been killed, whose lives have been destroyed in this terrible war of choice, we have been working hard on a short film that will not let that horrific day go unnoticed.

Watch the film and spread it far and wide: http://tellusthemission.org/

We’ve also got a contest looking for what SHOULD have been on the “mission accomplished” banner. Submit your banner and the winning one will be on car bumpers all over the country! (You’ll get some cool stuff too) For more details, and to enter:

http://tellusthemission.org/home/win

The spoken word performance in the video was done by a wonderfully talented young man, Steven Connell, who’s been in feature films on HBO, Showtime and MTV. He is a strong, creative, and articulate voice in reaching a young and diverse audience. We are grateful for his time and effort, and to Norman Lear who first found and called Steven to the attention of a wider audience.

Just days before video and webset were to go online, an American soldier serving in Afghanistan wrote an op-ed which has since stirred up a national debate. The soldier questioned why we do not lower the flag to half-staff when a soldier dies at war. We at Brave New Foundation were so inspired by his question that we decided to begin a petition to amend the US Flag Code.

Sign the petition to have flags lowered for a day each time an American service member dies at war:

http://tellusthemission.org/

Please forward this on far and wide — to your friends, schools, churches, to any local television or radio. We must not let this day go unnoticed. We must make our voices and passions heard.

the candidates spoke, and I’ve revised my opinions

https://i0.wp.com/www.moveon.org/images/home/features/endlesssticker200pxhome.gifLast evening’s MoveOn virtual town hall about Iraq was an extremely interesting event. Five other MoveOn members joined us at our home; we snacked, talked, petted our assorted cats and dogs as they wandered through, and listened to each of seven Democratic candidates. (About 1,000 such gatherings were held around the country.)

Each candidate gave a 3-minute response to the same opening question: “What is the best and fastest way to get out of Iraq?” They also each answered two questions submitted by MoveOn members, and then gave a 1-minute closing.

Go here to access audio of all the responses, transcripts, and a podcast of the entire event.

The candidates included three that I thought I knew well (Clinton, Edwards, Obama), two I knew marginally (Biden, Kucinich), and two I knew almost nothing about (Dodd, Richardson). I came into the town hall with firm opinions as to my favorite candidate. But by the end of the evening, I’d been impressed in ways I didn’t expect — and, just as unexpectedly, underwhelmed by a couple of the presentations. Following are my thoughts about the candidates in the order they spoke.

John Edwards. I came into the evening an Edwards supporter. I’ve been talking for a long time about Edwards/Obama as the perfect ticket. But he didn’t sell me last night. I went back this morning and listened again to his opening response, hoping to hear something that I missed — after all, he went first, so maybe I’d been getting settled in my chair and hadn’t paid full attention. Nope. As my husband put in this morning, Edwards sounded pragmatic but not presidential — not strong enough. Compared to some of the other candidates, his Iraq proposals don’t have sufficient coherency and specificity.

Joe Biden. And then came Joe. Wow. Talk about a surprise! I had no expectation of finding him remotely interesting — but he blew me away. His proposals were strong, specific, and intelligent, and I was absolutely convinced that they would work. After the town hall we agreed that Biden had impressed us all. Unfortunately, as one of our attendees said, gesturing to some of the snacks on the table, “Joe is no more going to be elected president than this bowl of peanuts is going to be elected president.”

Dennis Kucinich. (A confession: I was distracted by Kucinich’s ugly neckties in the photos shown onscreen while he was talking. Can a man really be an effective president if he goes out accessorized that way? There; I’ve admitted my shallow attention to sartorial detail.) I didn’t know much about Kucinich coming into last evening, other than the fact that many people consider him The Guy when it comes to fixing American’s health care problems. Maybe when MoveOn does their health care town hall, he’ll impress me; he sure didn’t last night. His approach was to repeat (four times) the fact that he was the only one of the candidates to vote consistently against the Iraq war and to also repeat (five times) the fact that his proposal, HR1234, will fix things. Based on the details he mentioned about his proposal, I don’t believe it will work. And regardless of how smart he is, and how experienced, he doesn’t sound strong or presidential.

Bill Richardson. Richardson did well. I learned more from some of the attendees about his extensive foreign policy experience. His plans are coherent and sensible, and he presents them clearly and effectively. But, you know, he just didn’t stick in my head with any sort of lasting impression. He’ll need to put himself out there a lot more in order for people to get a sense that he could be presidential material.

Hillary Clinton. This, ladies and gentlemen, was the big surprise. Clinton completely sold me last night. I came into it firmly believing that she can’t be elected, that she’s only in it for personal political power, that she isn’t an effective speaker, and so on. I’m still not convinced that she can win, because of the numbers of Republicans who will head to the polls specifically to vote against her — but she’s got my support. She sounded incredibly strong, focused, and smart. She’s got clear objectives and plans and the skill, experience, and determination to make them work. She sounded — presidential. (She was also the only one of the seven candidates to use the phrase “when I’m president…,” which sounds corny but was very effective in the context.) In MoveOn’s follow-up poll, I voted for her as my choice for the evening as the best candidate to lead us out of Iraq.

Chris Dodd. See my earlier comments about Bill Richardson. He did well, he’s clearly smart, experienced, and so on, but I still don’t have a memorable image of him as president. He’s got a lot of work to do.

Barack Obama. Very disappointing. I expected to hear fire, enthusiasm, great plans — all the things we’re told to expect from Obama. Instead, he sounded not terribly strong, not terribly energetic, and not terribly focused. When asked the opening question about the best and fastest way to get us out of Iraq, he spent much of the time reciting casualty statistics. He finally mentioned that he has a plan, but he didn’t go into much detail about it — at least, not details that impressed me. Obama absolutely did not give me what I wanted and expected last night.

If you have time, I highly recommend listening to the podcast of the entire event. It lasts about 80 minutes. It could be that, like me, you’ll be surprised.

MoveOn panel to question Democratic contenders

Biden. Clinton. Edwards. Kucinich. Obama. Richardson. https://i2.wp.com/pol.moveon.org/iraqtownhall/welcomepagelogos.jpg

Next Tuesday—April 10th—at 7:15pm Eastern, MoveOn is using the Internet to connect presidential candidates directly to the people.

Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, Bill Richardson, Dennis Kucinich, and Joe Biden will answer questions from MoveOn.org’s 3.2 million members in the first of three virtual town hall meetings. The topic: Iraq.

MoveOn members have submitted tough questions about their Iraq plans, and we’re gathering from coast to coast to hear the answers directly. Right after the virtual town hall meeting, MoveOn will survey members to see which candidate we believe will do the best job of leading us out of the war in Iraq.

You can search here for a house party near you, or sign up to host your own. We’re hosting one and looking forward to hearing from so many candidates. It should be an interesting, informative, and (I hope) enlightening evening.

to listen or not?

https://i1.wp.com/www.toothpastefordinner.com/merch-nmp.gifI’m currently debating whether to listen to the State of the Union address tonight. As I’ve mentioned before, I can’t bear the sound of W’s voice. Particularly when combined with his smirks and odd gestures, his words just about send me over the edge. So, given that I’ll disagree with probably 99.782% of what he says tonight, and that the cumulative effect of being subjected to watching and listening to him for that length of time will be akin to having my skin flayed by tiny, laughing imps wielding red-hot irons, I may skip it and read the analyses.

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war-criminal-in-chief

https://i2.wp.com/arizona.indymedia.org/uploads/bush-jail_bars-war_criminal.jpgDoug Thompson of Capitol Hill Blue has written an intensely powerful column about the hanging of Saddam Hussein. Here are parts of it; I highly recommend reading the entire piece. I agree with it completely.

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(don’t!) stay the course

https://i2.wp.com/www.sinkers.org/posters/staythecourse/staythecourse_color.jpgHeh. Heh heh. Heheheheheheh…

I love the extremely rare cases when reality forces our “president” to change his mind about something.

July 10, 2003:

We’re making steady progress. A free Iraq will mean a peaceful world. And it’s very important for us to stay the course, and we will stay the course.

This quote is from an article titled “U.S. Will Stay the Course in Iraq, Bush Says,” by Casie Vinall, written for the American Forces Press Service. It appears in a cached version of the article that Google retrieved on Oct. 18. Now, just 6 days later, as the Bush administration backpedals from its “stay the course” mantra, the main link to the article no longer works. Hmmm…

December 15, 2003:

We will stay the course until the job is done… And the temptation is to try to get the President or somebody to put a timetable on the definition of getting the job done. We’re just going to stay the course. … And the citizens of Iraq need to know we will stay the course.

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war profiteering: Iraq for Sale

Thanks to TheScreamBlog for making me aware of the new film Iraq for Sale. From the film’s website:

Acclaimed director Robert Greenwald (Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, Outfoxed, and Uncovered) takes you inside the lives of soldiers, truck drivers, widows and children who have been changed forever as a result of profiteering in the reconstruction of Iraq. Iraq for Sale uncovers the connections between private corporations making a killing in Iraq and the decision makers who allow them to do so.

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