Thursday, December 13, 2007

Holiday Canister from plastic coffee containers

Create a Folgers Holiday Gift Container

Click on photo link above to get to Folgers link for 'how to' and downloadable prints to decorate your holiday canister.

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Sunday, December 9, 2007

Survived the hurricane-force winds; Pacific Northwest storm, December 2007

Pacific Northwest Storm of the Decade, Dec 2007. Declared disaster area in Southwest Washington, Washington coast and Northern Oregon coast. We live in Bay Center, WA, Pacific County, and had hurricane strength winds for 2 days - 119 mph with gusts of 145 mph. Photo slideshow below.

Can read more at my account of our experience in Pacific County at Washblog story. Also at my blog 'Life in Bay Center on Willapa Bay' and the special page I made at the blog 'Storm of the Decade, Pacific Northwest, December 2007'

posted by Lietta Ruger
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Friday, December 7, 2007

Survived hurricane-force winds of 119 mph, infrastructure collapse Pacific County, Washington coast, December 2007 Pacific Northwest storm

More on page on this website (see tabs above) dedicated to ‘Storm of the Decade, Pacific Northwest, December 2007′

Today is Friday, Dec 7, 2007 and we just got power back yesterday, Thursday, Dec 6, 2007, after being without power, communications, access in or out of the county since the storm hit last Sunday, Dec 2, 2007. It was what it was advertised by the Chinook Observer to be - the storm of the decade and it affected most all of Washington coastline with grave flooding inland and great parts of Oregon coastline. Most hard hit with massive flooding was Lewis County and Grays Harbor County, our neighboring counties. Pacific County was hit hard too, enough to collapse a seemingly fragile infrastructure; no power, no land phones, no cell phones, no 911, no access in or out of the county and even emergency communications out of county to notify status were limited and curtailed. It was an eerie feeling to be so completely cut off.

Later as the week wore on the reality of not being able to access our own bank account or get gas as gas pumps need electricity to work, and word of possible contamination of water in South Bend/Raymond, the fragility of the infrastructure not only in our own county but any county became evident to me. We must learn to rely on individual preparedness, and preparedness and help from among our community to see us through those early days of catastrophic weather events. And given what we experienced with this storm, I'm inclined to believe that with climate warming, we will see other such storms, perhaps not at that magnitude, but enough to cause breaks in the infrastructure here in Pacific County and in neighboring counties.

Sorting out how to tell parts of the story, and rather than one big fat blog entry, I will want to break it down some. For the days without power and communications (phones, cell phones, 911, emergency access), I started a journal. Now that we have power back and I am seeing via internet news all the devastation around us in our own county and neighboring counties, I recognize we are among the very fortunate.

Providing the link to the Washblog interview Noemie did with me when she phoned me yesterday to check up on us where she gives an account of what I shared with her.

Report from Lietta Ruger: Storm Causes Complete Infrastructure Collapse in Pacific Co.

I just spoke with Lietta Ruger, one of Washblog's editors, and she asked me to post a little summary of our conversation. She plans to post something more in-depth later.

She and Arthur Ruger live in the Willapa Bay community in Bay Center. There is no locally owned broadcast media in the area, and so they rely primarily on King 5 TV for their storm warnings. KIRO and KOMO generally don't provide coverage on their area. She said that no warnings came through mainstream media on the severe impacts that their community was expected to face from the impending storm last weekend. It was only because they happen to subscribe to what she describes as a tiny newspaper, a weekly called The Chinook Observer, that she learned her community was facing perhaps "the storm of the decade."

Having received this one warning, she and Arthur brought out their candles and blankets and cooked up the food in their refrigerator and battened down the hatches - just in case. The storm hit on Sunday and the three of them - including Lietta's mother - stayed indoors for two days as winds up to 119 miles an hour raged outside. There was no electricity, no phone service, no cellphone service. After the storm subsided, the roads were so impassible in every direction, and the power outage and the lack of emergency service so complete -- that as far as people in her community knew, they might have separated from the rest of the United States and floated off into the Pacific Ocean.

It wasn't until yesterday that a local store selling crank radios opened and she and Arthur were able to tune into coverage from Astoria, Oregon to find out the extent of the damage to the rest of Washington state.

Even then, most of the stores remained locked, the social services office, where emergency help is usually offered, remained closed and dark. The gas pumps, which run on electricity, don't work. People who have medical emergencies are out of luck. And at least one woman did die, when her house caught on fire from the candles she was using to provide light.

There was no safe way to travel by water, either, because the water was moving too fast and there were too many other dangers, low tree branches, objects, etc. Even the county's weather monitoring equipment failed. We know that winds reached 119 mph in Bay Center and 120 mph in Astoria, she said, because private citizens had equipment that withstood the wind, while the wind broke the county's equipment.

The problem wasn't with community members. People helped each other quite a bit. In fact, the owner of the Bay Center grocery store, a woman named Lori, drove from Long Beach through all the hazards to Bay Center and fired up the generator and stove and cooked soups and made sandwiches to serve the people in that community. And her husband and son did that in the other grocery stores owned by the family in other nearby communities. But now that the electricity has come back on, and she's learned that the rest of the world is still here -- though Grays Harbon and Lewis Counties appear to have suffered even more -- now she's feeling pretty upset.

This is a warning, she said, that we need to get our act together on emergency preparedness. We are experiencing the effects of climate change and we can expect more. This kind of storm is not on the usual scale. It's a clear signal, as well, that we need some major changes in how we do media. Pacific County needs its own broadcast media. We talked for awhile about testimony at the recent FCC hearing in Seattle that local communities are endangered by the centralization of broadcast media. That is absolutely correct, she said. Now that she has a little time to think, it's hitting her, the extent of this collapse of infrastructure: the lack of emergency preparedness and media coverage and the blackout on all services during the storm or for the 2 days afterwards. "This complete and utter failure, she said, "is unacceptable.

(read more at the Washblog story)

A few photos below taken by my mother of Bay Center in Pacific County, after the 2 days

of hurricane-force winds. Click on photos to see larger view.

Downed tree on Bay Center Road

Downed treee on Bay Center Road, Bay Center, WA in Pacific County, WA

Several downed trees at Bay Center residence

Several downed trees at Bay Center residence, Bay Center, WA in Pacific County,WA

Tree down on power line Bay Center Road

Tree down on power line Bay Center Road,Bay Center, WA in Pacific County,WA

Blow down trees in the county park at tip of Bay Center

Blow down trees in the county park at tip of Bay Center, WA in Pacific County,WA

More on page on this website (see tabs above) dedicated to 'Storm of the Decade, Pacific Northwest, December 2007'

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Two little ones with their deployment bears

Daddy's little girl dissolves into tears knowing it is real Daddy is leaving this weekend.

Making deployment bears for the little ones the night before Daddy deploys to Iraq. I have said my goodbyes to my son-in-law, but words totally fail me as I find I don't know what to say to him on this, his second deployment to Iraq. There aren't words to express and the photo of his 2 younger children says what I can't find words to say to him, to my daughter, to my grandchildren. I am humbled by the dignity with which they are having to manage two deployments.

post from their mother, on the night before their father leaves for his second deployment to Iraq:

Last night we went to the xxxx Mall and let the kids make a build a deployment bear. They dressed them in Army outfits. Hubby went to the back room at the store and recorded his voice so they could put his recording in each of the kids bears. After he was finished making the recordings she put each of them into the kids bears arms, stuffed them and then the kids grabbed hearts to put into their bears.

But it was very very neat because my husband also took two hearts and together the kids and my hubby
rubbed the hearts to warm them up,
patted them to get the hearts beating,
touched their forehead to make the bears smart,
touched their noses so the bears would know them,
touched their knees so the bears would need them,
touched their muscles so their bears would be strong,
and touched their hearts so their bears would love them,
then each of them kissed their hearts and put them into the bears.

It was so adorable because there was my hubby standing with the kids saying and doing everything the girl said to do with the hearts. Now the kids have hearts in their bears right besides daddy's heart.

Daddy told him he is the man of the house while Daddy is gone. Is his son's expression wondering how he will live up to being the man of the house.

Two little ones trying so hard to be brave for Daddy, and now it is real for them with these deployment bears that he is leaving for Iraq this weekend.
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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Iraq war has me down; in another venue doing something positive to counter the malaise

Not the usual kind of content or material that I post to my Dying to Preserve the Lies blog. I have other blogs for other elements of my life, and sometimes there is a cross-over. Somehow, I think the post I'm sharing here is a crossover -- well, for me, and where I am with myself after 5 years of activism in trying to bring conclusive end to Iraq war. I'm activism weary, war-weary, military family weary, and in trying to resume areas of our lives that I've let drift in my activism intensity, I am reminded of old teachings about the need for balance in our lives in order to have the stamina, strength to pursue with passion the things we love.

Well, I surely don't love anything about the Iraq war, and I grow disheartened with the repetition in the activism activities seemingly not getting any better results in year 5 than in year 1 of the Iraq war. I never much liked politics and these days like it even less and yet politics governs aspects of our daily lives in powerful ways, that ignoring the fact of politics is perhaps why we find ourselves as a country and nation where we are now.

But in the feeling of defeat that direct activism, direct head on activism to end Iraq war, to get out troops home has not brought about that result, I am in need of finding things I can do that bring about positive influence. Being a young wife and mother in the 1970's, I appreciated the back to earth living principles of that time that are revived in 2000 with a whole new look - sustainable living. Before it was called sustainable living in reaction to global climate warming, it was known by other names; homesteading, spirit of independence within community, simplistic living, abundant living, meaningful living, reductionism, communes, living off the grid, communities caring for each other, self sufficiency and/or any other labels by which the lifestyle is called.

Before 2001, before this country's Administration decided to invade Iraq, I was on my own path towards reviving some of those old skills while we tried to fly in the face of the norm by reducing to a one-income household. And along the way, we kept up with that goal, but only with my half-hearted attention and not half the measure of the intensity and focus I was giving to my calling as a military family to speak out in opposition to Iraq war as exploitive of the principles our military holds dear.

My son-in-law says goodbye to his wife and children (my daughter and three grandchildren) to leave next week for his second deployment to Iraq. It will be another extended 'stop-loss' 15 month deployment for him. It is being whispered that it will be an 18 month deployment, a rumor prospect that once he and his unit arrive in Iraq, another 3 month extension, 'stop-loss' will be added on top of the already 15 month stop-loss deployment. I feel a deep sense of personal failure, a difficult sense of futility in not being able to do enough or the right kinds of things that would have prevented he and all the troops from having to do repeat deployments.

Out of that sense of futility, I find myself uninspired to participate with any of the planned 'anti-war' activist projects. I recognize this is not a good place to be with myself, personally. I also recognize that one of the strategies that does seem to be working in holding the supposed 'anti-war' movement in check is that activist will tire and get weary and lose stamina, lose intensity, lose focus, lose heart.

Much as I'd love to see a nationwide 'Consumer Strike' where no one purchased anything for a week or more; or everyone didn't go to work for several days; or everyone got out into the streets to express their concern with the multitude of current issues that are breaking down our country; or my deep concern that a military draft will have to be introduced at some point bringing about the furor of concerned parents and a military draft is not something I want to see but given that the current military is spent and exhausted and no end in sight to war in the Middle East.....

In turning my attention to some positive kinds of things we can do, with absolute results, I post the below as part of my own respite. How does this help ---- well for one thing it suggests in positive ways how to create and build community - commonality - communities caring for each other and looking out for each other, the foundation stones of stewardship for caring for our very home on this planet. Stewardship, caring, actively engaging --- all these are principles that, I like to think, can unite us towards life-giving pursuits, detouring us from this path of fostering hate-mongering and destructive pursuits.

Doing Something Positive - The Urban Pioneers are doing it, so can we!

Excellent video encapsulating wide array of concepts in Sustainable Living. These Urban Pioneers got a jumpstart back when it was called self-sufficiency- meaningful living, abundant living, simplistic living, getting off the grid. And they go even further back ... see the video below. Big hat tip to Path To Freedom Journal blog.

from the Path to Freedom Journal blog 'about us'
On 1/5th of an acre, this family has over 350 varieties of edible and useful plants. The homestead's productive 1/10 acre organic garden now grows over 6,000 pounds (3 tons) of organic produce annually,providing fresh vegetables and fruit for the family’s vegetarian diet along with a viable income.

In addition they have chickens, ducks, goats, brew their own biodiesel (made from waste (free!) vegetable oil) to fuel their car, compost with worms, solar panels provide their electricity needs, a sun and earthen oven is used to cook food in.
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Doing Something Positive - The Urban Pioneers are doing it, so can we!

Excellent video encapsulating wide array of concepts in Sustainable Living. These Urban Pioneers got a jumpstart back when it was called self-sufficiency- meaningful living, abundant living, simplistic living, getting off the grid. And they go even further back ... see the video below. Big hat tip to Path To Freedom Journal blog.

from the Path to Freedom Journal blog 'about us'
On 1/5th of an acre, this family has over 350 varieties of edible and useful plants. The homestead's productive 1/10 acre organic garden now grows over 6,000 pounds (3 tons) of organic produce annually,providing fresh vegetables and fruit for the family’s vegetarian diet along with a viable income.

In addition they have chickens, ducks, goats, brew their own biodiesel (made from waste (free!) vegetable oil) to fuel their car, compost with worms, solar panels provide their electricity needs, a sun and earthen oven is used to cook food in.
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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Thrift Store Shopping Tips

Thrift Store Shopping Tips

by: Sintilia Miecevole

If you are tired of seeing the same old clothing styles at mall department stores and boutiques, it may be time to add a little spice to your wardrobe. Rather than looking just like everyone else, thrift stores offer access to unique items not found anywhere else- at least not in the last twenty or so years! Not only are thrift store clothes relatively inexpensive, but they can also be ultra hip. If you approach it the right way, you may be able to create your very own personal style by mixing the old and the new.

When you first decide to embark on a thrift store shopping spree, there are a few things to remember. Firstly, a lot of thrift stores only take cash, so if you are used to grabbing Daddy’s credit card and going to town, you’ll have to make other arrangements. Some stores do take checks, so you might want to have your checkbook handy. Secondly, a lot of thrift stores do not have dressing rooms, so you’ll probably want to wear a light t-shirt so you can try on your finds right where you find them. And most importantly, you are probably not going to find anything that fits you absolutely perfectly. You can’t go in looking for “your size.” You will have to try on what looks promising and see if you can alter it in any way if needed.

Believe it or not, thrift stores in the hippest parts of town generally have the least hip clothes. This is because there are hundreds of people just like you who are picking through their stock of wearable items every day. If you want to find authentic vintage clothing at inexpensive prices, you’ll have to drive to the most uncool parts of town. This could mean the suburbs, and it could mean farmland, depending on where you are located. You will find, however, that it is well worth the drive, and that your treasure is definitely another woman’s trash.

Shirts are typically the easiest items to find at thrift stores, because they allow more flexibility in the fitting department. You can find some excellent western shirts in rural areas, and there are always witty t-shirts on the little boy’s racks. If you are looking for a good pair of jeans, however, you might want to check the men’s section. Thrift stores typically stock a plethora of pleated-front tapered-leg acid-washed jeans in the ladies section, so you will rarely find anything cool on those racks. However, the men’s section can be filled with surprisingly girlish slacks in interesting colors and textures. There have also been known to be great pairs of vintage Levi’s hanging in the men’s racks.

If vintage dresses are your think, you will have a field-day going through the strange fashions of yesteryear that you will find in any thrift store. Once you make your way past the obnoxious flowery Sunday dresses and the strange lime green pleated skirts, you may find one or two keepers. Don’t give up until you looked at the last one, because chances are there will be a diamond in the rough there just waiting for a little nip and tuck from your sewing machine.

Thrift stores are also an excellent place to find work clothes for a job interview or a new office job. If you’d rather save your money for more fun items, you can always replenish your work wardrobe with some inexpensive black skirts and dress shirts from the local Salvation Army or Goodwill. Work people will never know that your new suit only cost you five bucks. They’ll just be happy that you’re not wearing your favorite club get-up to the important meeting again.

About The Author

Sintilia Miecevole, host of provides you with shopping information from franchises, business, great buys and seasonal items to ecommerce and more. Be sure to visit for the latest information.

Source: Articles 3000

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« One Man’s Trash… Could Be Your Treasure - 3 Rules Of Thrifty Product Sourcing

Thrift shops and consignment stores can be excellent sources for your product inventory — they always have fresh items to pick through and you can find some great pieces for rock-bottom prices.

• Consignment stores, are commission-based. People bring in products for the store to sell on commission — what doesn’t sell is returned to the owner.

• Thrift stores are often ‘not for profit’ and get most of their goods via donations.

In comparing the two, thrift stores are typically more willing (and able) to bargain with you simply because they have more room to do so.

Online retailers sometimes feel that these types of resale stores are not a good place to find inventory because there’s not enough of a profit margin. But author Kate Holmes, founder of Too Good To Be Threw (, disagrees. Holmes asserts, "These stores have a very limited market. If nobody in their town happens to want to buy a pair of Jodhpurs that week, those Jodhpurs will be sitting there waiting for an eBay seller to snap them up.” The end result can be amazing deals on quality items with an online demand.

In addition to a narrow market, Holmes also cites restricted space as a factor in second-hand stores’ bargain pricing. She points out, "They only have so much space, so they can only carry so many things. If they can move an item on and bring something else in, they’re pleased with that.”

3 Rules of Sourcing Products in Thrift and Consignment Shops:

1. Shop the Edges. Even resale stores tend to carry certain types of products. What doesn’t fit a shop’s profile, they usually want to move out quickly. They tend to put these products around the store’s edges, so start there.

2. Shop Often. These stores are constantly turning over product and bringing in new items, so don’t let a dry trip or two discourage you. Your persistence can pay off in a big way.

3. Cultivate Relationships with Shopkeepers. If they like you, they’ll be much more willing to give you deals. They may also be more willing to set things aside for you, if they know what you’re looking for, and guide you to items you might have otherwise missed.

If you’re just starting out, a good place to find resale stores is in the Yellow Pages, under either “consignment” or “thrift.” Don’t be afraid to ask shopkeepers if they know of other stores in the area — if they don’t have what you’re looking for, they’ll usually be happy to refer you to someone they think might.

Product Sourcing Radio is Created and Hosted by Chris Malta and Rob Cowie of, Home of OneSource: The Internet's Largest Source of Genuine, Factory-Direct Wholesalers for online sellers. Click Here for FREE E-Biz & Product Sourcing info!

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Let's Talk About Thrift Stores

I do and don't like to shop at Thrift Stores. I love thrift store shopping when I have extra money to spend and encounter those thrift stores that are clean, well merchandised, and prices are affordable, and I feel like I have purchasing power. I don't like thrift store shopping as much when I have fewer choices and absolutely have only XX dollars to spend and I'm not in the 'mood' for gently used anything. Usually when I'm in those kind of moods, it's dark anyway and I'm more in memory of childhood days when sometimes it was 'hand-me-downs', and not much other choices. So, it's a frame of mind for me.

Over the years, from teen, to young parent, to middle aged parent of almost adult kids, to grandmother, my identity, self esteem, and needs have changed. In my teens, having cool, new clothes of the 1960's made a major difference to how I felt about myself. As a young wife and mother having fun clothes was important to me as I assumed my new identity as wife and mother. As a working wife and mother, career woman of the 1970's and 1980's, having a professional wardrobe was important to my sense of identity. Making sure my children had new home, new clothes, new toys, plenty of groceries was important to my sense of being a successful parent.

But in the 1980's something happened. Brand name labels became the 'have to have' among kids and with the brand names came gradually escalating prices until ridiculous prices was the operating word. Tennis, running, basketball shoes jumped to over $100.00 a pair and kept climbing. And that was rather my own personal 'wake up call' and when I put my foot down, explaining to my children, by my logic, that this brand name label clothing was a marketing device and nothing more. I wasn't going to buy into it.

Not so easy for them, because part of their forming identities was tied to what the kids at school were wearing and having whatever was the newest, coolest marketing product. Things like Cabbage Patch dolls began the trend towards 'must have at all costs' toys that parents needed to get for their children. Where was this mentality coming from, I wondered, while I didn't purchase Cabbage Patch dolls at outrageous prices? Well I did purchase some of the trendy toys of that era for my children, but only in what I considered to be an 'acceptable and affordable' range by my standards.

Fast forward through the 1990s to the present, and the trend of buying the newest, latest products is a firmly entrenched mentality among families today. I shudder at the challenges my children, now adults with children of their own face in their efforts to satisfy the perceived wants and needs of their children. If I were faced with some of those financial challenges now, I would have to consciously work to stay above the fray.

But now I sound like my own grandparents sounded to my ears when I was a lot younger. So I've reached 'that age'. Even so, I have growing concerns for my adult children and my grandchildren because I sense strongly the lifestyle we enjoyed when I was raising them is more elusive as they raise their own children.

I began frequenting thrift stores for the fun of finding those very special finds --- cut crystal, unique bags, vintage tablecloths and napkins, yard ornaments, occasional kitchenware. But I didn't 'have to' shop thrift stores, so it was a fun way to spend an afternoon and I was spelunking, looking for those great finds. And then I tried my hand at looking for certain collectibles and antiques in thrift stores and the best of the best thrift stores were when we lived in a city that had wealth that was measured only by more wealth. I found some of the best quality of whatever I was looking for in the thrift stores that dotted that city. It was my ideal of shopping manna.

When we moved from the city to a more rural setting, in region known to have a shrunken economic baseline, so did the availability shrink in the shrunken towns that comprised the region. The spelunking changed and took on a different element, but was still fun, because I could ocassionally find authentic antiques at thrift store prices, and collectibles not yet priced at collectible prices. When we made the decision to go from two incomes - his and mine to one income - his - we felt proud of our decision, made the shifts to tighten our belts, and I earnestly began to look at reviving all the dollar saving hints and tips I'd learned growing up as a child in an economically-challenged family.

I wanted to see if I could do with our household what some of the Depression-era people did to creatively stretch a dollar, recycle, re-use, re-fashion, and remake. It wasn't easy to find reading material on such things, and I wished I could have been in the tutelage of some of the elderly who knew how to do what I did not and could teach me. I realized that I had grown accustomed to the ease of consumerism, and began to contemplate ideas like what if.......

-- what if the economy implodes and we have no choice but to revive some of the older skills?

-- what if we couldn't drive cars any and everywhere because gas cost too much and global warming was a concern?

-- what if and the what if's went on in my mind

And perhaps it could be called an intuitive sense of changing times because as a society, a nation, we seemed to have reached a point of needing to reconsider lifestyles permitted to evolve at the hands of marketing devices.

I'm most encouraged though by the creativity I am seeing among the young families and especially the young women of today as they try to manage their lives and lifestyles on a shrinking dollar. I see a revival of a need to find creative ways to re-use, re-make, re-fashion, re-cycle, and I see young families finding ways to do more with a bit less and keeping a good spirit while doing so. For some it seems to be an effort to restore or return to a prescribed faith-based lifestyle that puts women in their homes with their families. For some it is a flair for the artistic in finding new ways to create clothing, fashion, home decor, gifting. For some it is the challenge forced upon them.

And the thrift store takes on a new prominence in the modern era. Or so it seems to me. So let's talk about thrift stores.
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Then and Now

Over the years, the imaginary character, skinflint curmudgeon, has been evolving as our own times have been evolving. When he was invented, there was a movement towards abundant simplified living, living off the grid, meaningful living and enriching the act of living. Since he was invented, politics in this country (USA) has so altered the landscape of living life enough that there are economic conditions that rather force a change in lifestyle for those not among the wealthy and more wealthy.

Erosion of middle class economics, inflated housing market prices, inflated and rising petroleum/gas prices which absolutely will have impact on our carbon-based economy and way of life. Meanwhile the discretionary income margin we permitted for ourselves when we deliberately reduced to one income lifestyle has been consumed by the ever increasing petroleum-based essential products, like groceries, heat for our home, and for us there no longer is a discretionary income margin. Every dollar is budgeted and accounted for and we have yet to make what will be required cuts to manage the cost increases ahead.

So while our fun little character, skinflint curmudgeon, was just going to give ornery type old fashioned advice in a whimsical kind of way, it is becoming less fanciful fun and more a necessity to shave costs, squeeze more out of the dollars we have and look at new ways to manage our lives since the foundational plan of our younger years will not carry us well into our later years.
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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

'No End in Sight'

No End In Sight - documentary about the war in Iraq; the (deliberate? careless? ignorant?) incompetence of those who started and managed it.

Placing here because it gives a useful historical context. So much has happened in 5 years, so many outrages, so much disassembling of our Constitution, so many bait and switch crisis issues, and so much effort at 'normalizing' the concept of the United States at war in Iraq as a block of many blocks in the supposed 'war against terror' in the Middle East over the next decade, over the next 50 years. Doesn't hurt to remind ourselves of the history from time to time of the original invasion into Iraq and the amazing inconguities that took place and continues to be in place...

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A.F. General Michael Hayden, CIA Director banned Waterboarding as torture.

Officially, the administration backed off the so-called torture memo, though reports that waterboarding continued to be used have persisted. In September (2005), ABC News reported that Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, officially banned the use of waterboarding.

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Army Chief of Staff, General Shalikashvili says Waterboarding against Geneva Conventions

In 2005 a dozen retired general and flag officers wrote to the Senate Judiciary Committee over the nomination of Alberto Gonzales to head the Justice Department. Gonzales, the former White House counsel, was linked to the so-called torture memo that effectively loosened the rules on interrogation and deemed that enemy combatants did not fall under the protections of the Geneva Conventions.

But the retired generals and admirals, among them retired Army Chief of Staff Gen. John Shalikashvili, slammed the policy.

"The United States commitment to the Geneva Conventions the laws of war flows not only from field experience, but also from the moral principles on which this country was founded, and by which we all continue to be guided," the group wrote. "We have learned first hand the value of adhering to the Geneva Conventions and practicing what we preach on the international stage."

Officially, the administration backed off the so-called torture memo, though reports that waterboarding continued to be used have persisted. In September, ABC News reported that Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, officially banned the use of waterboarding.

Now the practice is back in the debate, as senators initially seemed poised to approve Mukasey with all haste. But his response to questions about waterboarding has prompted some committee members to raise serious concerns, and has thrown his nomination in doubt.

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Waterboarding - It's Torture - Intelligence Consultant Homeland Security, Malcolm Nance -

While the Senate Judiciary Committee and U.S. Attorney General nominee Judge Michael Mukasey go around and around over the question of waterboarding and whether it constitutes torture, a man who has been there and done that has spoken out against the practice.

It's torture, says Malcolm Nance, a counter-terrorism and intelligence consultant for the special operations, homeland security and intelligence agencies. Nance, writing for the Small Wars Journal website, called the debate over waterboarding "a crisis of honor."

And accepting it as a tool for interrogation, he says, does the United States no honor.

"As a former master instructor and chief of training at the U.S. Navy Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School in San Diego ... I know the waterboard personally and intimately," he wrote. "I have personally led, witnessed and supervised waterboarding of hundreds of people."

SERE, he wrote, is designed to show how "an evil totalitarian, enemy would use torture at the slightest whim. If this is the case, then waterboarding is unquestionably being used as torture technique."

Nance is among the latest, but not the first, former American service member to rap waterboarding and other aggressive questioning methods, which the administration calls enhanced interrogation techniques.

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Waterboarding IS torture - Daniel Levin, former Asst. Attny General - submitted to being waterboarded and pronuonced it Torture

Waterboarding IS torture - Daniel Levin, former Acting Asst. Attorney General had himself waterboarded - he would know.

Special Comment: On waterboarding and torture
Special Comment: On waterboarding and torture

MSNBC video
Special Comment: On waterboarding and torture
Nov. 5: Keith Olbermann comments on Pres. Bush and Michael Mukasey’s
response to allegations of waterboarding in the Bush administration. Why
was an Acting Assistant Attorney General forced out – just because he had
the guts to do what Pres. Bush couldn't?


The presidency is now a criminal conspiracy

Olbermann: Bush may not observe the rules, but the country abides by them

It is a fact startling in its cynical simplicity and it requires cynical
and simple words to be properly expressed: The presidency of George W.
Bush has now devolved into a criminal conspiracy to cover the ass of
George W. Bush.

All the petulancy, all the childish threats, all the blank-stare
stupidity; all the invocations of World War III, all the sophistic
questions about which terrorist attacks we wanted him not to stop, all the
phony secrets; all the claims of executive privilege, all the stumbling
tap-dancing of his nominees, all the verbal flatulence of his

All of it is now, after one revelation last week, transparently clear for
what it is: the pathetic and desperate manipulation of the government, the
refocusing of our entire nation, toward keeping this mock president and
this unstable vice president and this departed wildly self-overrating
attorney general, and the others, from potential prosecution for having
approved or ordered the illegal torture of prisoners being held in the
name of this country.

"Waterboarding is torture," Daniel Levin was to write. Daniel Levin was no
theorist and no protester. He was no troublemaking politician. He was no
table-pounding commentator. Daniel Levin was an astonishingly patriotic
American and a brave man.

Brave not just with words or with stances, even in a dark time when that
kind of bravery can usually be scared or bought off.

Charged, as you heard in the story from ABC News last Friday, with
assessing the relative legality of the various nightmares in the Pandora's
box that is the Orwell-worthy euphemism "Enhanced Interrogation," Mr.
Levin decided that the simplest, and the most honest, way to evaluate them
... was to have them enacted upon himself.

Daniel Levin took himself to a military base and let himself be waterboarded.

Mr. Bush, ever done anything that personally courageous?

Perhaps when you've gone to Walter Reed and teared up over the maimed
servicemen? And then gone back to the White House and determined that
there would be more maimed servicemen?

Has it been that kind of personal courage, Mr. Bush, when you've spoken of
American victims and the triumph of freedom and the sacrifice of your own
popularity for the sake of our safety? And then permitted others to fire
or discredit or destroy anybody who disagreed with you, whether they were
your own generals, or Max Cleland, or Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame, or
Daniel Levin?

Daniel Levin should have a statue in his honor in Washington right now.

Instead, he was forced out as acting assistant attorney general nearly
three years ago because he had the guts to do what George Bush couldn't do
in a million years: actually put himself at risk for the sake of his
country, for the sake of what is right.

And they waterboarded him. And he wrote that even though he knew those
doing it meant him no harm, and he knew they would rescue him at the
instant of the slightest distress, and he knew he would not die — still,
with all that reassurance, he could not stop the terror screaming from
inside of him, could not quell the horror, could not convince that which
is at the core of each of us, the entity who exists behind all the
embellishments we strap to ourselves, like purpose and name and family and
love, he could not convince his being that he wasn't drowning.

Waterboarding, he said, is torture. Legally, it is torture! Practically,
it is torture! Ethically, it is torture! And he wrote it down.

Wrote it down somewhere, where it could be contrasted with the words of
this country's 43rd president: "The United States of America ... does not

Made you into a liar, Mr. Bush.

Made you into, if anybody had the guts to pursue it, a criminal, Mr. Bush.

Waterboarding had already been used on Khalid Sheik Mohammed and a couple
of other men none of us really care about except for the one detail you'd
forgotten — that there are rules. And even if we just make up these rules,
this country observes them anyway, because we're Americans and we're
better than that.

We're better than you.

And the man your Justice Department selected to decide whether or not
waterboarding was torture had decided, and not in some phony academic
fashion, nor while wearing the Walter Mitty poseur attire of flight suit
and helmet.

He had put his money, Mr. Bush, where your mouth was.

So, Levin was fired.

Because if it ever got out what he'd concluded, and the lengths to which
he went to validate that conclusion, anybody who had sanctioned
waterboarding and who-knows-what-else on anybody, you yourself, you would
have been screwed.

And screwed you are.

It can't be coincidence that the story of Daniel Levin should emerge from
the black hole of this secret society of a presidency just at the
conclusion of the unhappy saga of the newest attorney general nominee.

Another patriot somewhere listened as Judge Mukasey mumbled like he'd
never heard of waterboarding and refused to answer in words … that which
Daniel Levin answered on a waterboard somewhere in Maryland or Virginia
three years ago.

And this someone also heard George Bush say, "The United States of America
does not torture," and realized either he was lying or this wasn't the
United States of America anymore, and either way, he needed to do
something about it.

Not in the way Levin needed to do something about it, but in a brave way

We have U.S. senators who need to do something about it, too.

Chairman Leahy of the Judiciary Committee has seen this for what it is and
said "enough."

Sen. Schumer has seen it, reportedly, as some kind of puzzle piece in the
New York political patronage system, and he has failed.

What Sen. Feinstein has seen, to justify joining Schumer in
rubber-stamping Mukasey, I cannot guess.

It is obvious that both those senators should look to the meaning of the
story of Daniel Levin and recant their support for Mukasey's confirmation.

And they should look into their own committee's history and recall that in
1973, their predecessors were able to wring even from Richard Nixon a
guarantee of a special prosecutor (ultimately a special prosecutor of
Richard Nixon!), in exchange for their approval of his new attorney
general, Elliott Richardson.

If they could get that out of Nixon, before you confirm the president's
latest human echo on Tuesday, you had better be able to get a "yes" or a
"no" out of Michael Mukasey.

Ideally you should lock this government down financially until a special
prosecutor is appointed, or 50 of them, but I'm not holding my breath. The
"yes" or the "no" on waterboarding will have to suffice.

Because, remember, if you can't get it, or you won't with the time between
tonight and the next presidential election likely to be the longest year
of our lives, you are leaving this country, and all of us, to the
waterboards, symbolic and otherwise, of George W. Bush.

Ultimately, Mr. Bush, the real question isn't who approved the
waterboarding of this fiend Khalid Sheik Mohammed and two others.

It is: Why were they waterboarded?

Study after study for generation after generation has confirmed that
torture gets people to talk, torture gets people to plead, torture gets
people to break, but torture does not get them to tell the truth.

Of course, Mr. Bush, this isn't a problem if you don't care if the
terrorist plots they tell you about are the truth or just something to
stop the tormentors from drowning them.

If, say, a president simply needed a constant supply of terrorist threats
to keep a country scared.

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Saturday, November 3, 2007

Kris Kristofferson, Military Brat, Army Helicopter Pilot, son of a General, Rhodes Scholar --- 'In The News'

Another military brat bringing his message and views via what he is known for - his songs. I say another military brat, because I am a military brat, an Air Force Brat. I learned that Kris Kristofferson is a military brat, AF brat, when I learned of the dvd 'Brats - Our Journey Home' and that Kris Kristofferson was the narrator. I own the dvd, and find it most compelling, giving me, as a military brat, reconciliation, affirmation and healing. But I digress some because the point of this post is to share what Kris Kristofferson has to say via his song, via youtube video below.

Kris Kristofferson was born in Brownsville, Texas. Like most military brats he moved around much as a youth; he finally settled down in San Mateo, California, where he graduated from San Mateo High School. Kristofferson's father was an Air Force general who pushed his son toward a military career .....

BRATS: Our Journey Home

An Intimate Portrait of a Lost American Tribe
narrated by Air Force brat Kris Kristofferson

Kris Kristofferson, Narrator
Air Force BRAT, former Army helicopter pilot, Rhodes Scholar, Golden Gloves boxer, This Old Road, The Highwaymen, Lone Star, A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries, A Star is Born
* "Most people have a place they think of as home all their lives. But for some, home is not a place, it's a state of mind."
Kris Kristofferson, another mil brat speaking out.
Hat tip to a friend of mine for sharing the video at her On The Homefront blog.

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Harvey Tharp, former Navy Lt, Iraq veteran - Why The Army is running scared in court martials (An analysis of the Watada and Israel War Resister cas

Harvey Tharp, Navy Lt. who resigned his Commission, provides an analysis well worth considering. And with that, I'll leave a link to his blog and not try give an analysis via harvesting his analysis.

Harvey Tharp was one of several Iraq veterans who were invited and came to Washington state to give testimony in support of Lt. Watada at Citizen's Hearing.

Harvey Tharp's PTSD and Bipolar Recovery Blog: WHY THE ARMY IS RUNNING SCARED IN COURTS MARTIAL (An analysis of the Watada and Israel War Resister cases)
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YouTube - Bill Moyers on October 2007 Anti-Iraq War Demostrations

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Friday, November 2, 2007

How To : Canning Tomatoes. Salsa, Tomato Sauce

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Army Officers at Fort Leavenworth Soul Searching over Iraq; Should the war have been fought?

Article in New York Times today, which caught my attention for the obvious reasons. I am pleased to see young Army Officers having the discussion. And I appreciated the article. I was struck as I was reading it that it referenced an article by Lt. Col Paul Yingling.
Much of the debate at Leavenworth has centered on a scathing article, “A Failure in Generalship,” written last May for Armed Forces Journal by Lt. Col. Paul Yingling, an Iraq veteran and deputy commander of the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment who holds a master’s degree in political science from the University of Chicago. “If the general remains silent while the statesman commits a nation to war with insufficient means, he shares culpability for the results,” Colonel Yingling wrote.

I was struck by that because I well remember the article by Lt. Col Paul Yingling, blogged it here, and it seemed to me the article received little notice in the public arena, nor among the media that help shape public opinion. So I was pleased and surprised to see the article referenced in today's New York Times article calling attention to how young Army Officers are actually asking themselves the hard questions.

What also struck me though, was a missing element in the discussion. I didn't see mention of the young Army Officers discussing the actions of young Army Officer, Lt. Ehren Watada, who as an Officer of the U.S. Army, did exactly what is cited in today's article at New York Times;
Discussions nonetheless focused on where young officers might draw a “red line,” the point at which they would defy a command from the civilians — the president and the defense secretary — who lead the military.

“We have an obligation that if our civilian leaders give us an order, unless it is illegal, immoral or unethical, then we’re supposed to execute it, and to not do so would be considered insubordinate,” said Major Timothy Jacobsen, another student. “How do you define what is truly illegal, immoral or unethical? At what point do you cross that threshold where this is no longer right, I need to raise my hand or resign or go to the media?”

Lt. Watada, based on his strident training under battalion commander Lt. Colonel Matthew Dawson that as an Officer he had an obligation to knowledgeably discern orders given him. Rising to the challenge of doing the research and upon his researching, Lt. Watada did discern that the Iraq war is illegal and to execute his orders to deploy to Iraq and order soldiers under his command to execute fire support orders would be to execute illegal orders.

Lt. Ehren Watada: ‘Experience Makes You Stronger’

In January 2005, Watada received orders to Fort Lewis, Washington, in anticipation of deployment to Iraq. Watada felt neither frightened nor anxious, but extremely unprepared. “I was detailed to be a fire support officer with an infantry company,” Watada explained.

Watada applied his “insatiable appetite for knowledge” to his future duties in Iraq. He felt it was his obligation and duty as an officer to know what to anticipate. “I did this to better prepare myself and my soldiers. That’s what I was taught in Korea.”

He haunted the Fort Lewis library, which contains an extraordinary number of military documents, archives and databases, and scoured volumes on military history, particularly in Iraq. “I read the history of units that have gone during the initial invasion to gain a broader knowledge of what I could expect,” he said.

For myself, raised what is called affectionately a military brat, for myself, the young military wife of a young husband drafted and sent to combat in Vietnam, and for myself, as the mother-in-law and aunt of two returning Iraq veterans - one who is leaving for Iraq in his second deployment - I am relieved to see that the new young 'volunteer military' Army Officers are having these kinds of discussions, making these kind of decisions and facing up to what are hard questions that should be asked by every freedom loving American - military or civilian. We owe this dialogue, discussion to ourselves. It is so relevant to this and future generations in light of talk of 'long war', 100-year war, urban warfare as the new tenet of military deployments, and repeated revolving door deployments for a volunteer military that does not have enough service men and women to sustain the 'new wars'.

Note also though, comments by Col. Fontenot in the NY Times article because this is indeed a relevant question and very much a part of the discussion. Thus my contention of how this Administration has in less than honorable service to our country so badly exploited the ideals of the military to push so hard as to have all proud American citizens wonder when/if/should military ever be pushed to the brink of having to decide if following through with the rest of the oath they take to defend against enemies foreign - and domestic - would be a consequence American citizens could/would abide or tolerate. Or for that matter advocate for - which, imo, is not something to advocate lightly. I am thankful that military discipline and Constitutional tenets are in place that would make such an action a very, very last resort for the military, preferrably a tactic never to be used at all:
“Yeah, we’d call it a coup d’etat,” Colonel Fontenot said. “Do you want to have a coup d’etat? You kind of have to decide what you want. Do you like the Constitution, or are you so upset about the Iraq war that you’re willing to dismiss the Constitution in just this one instance and hopefully things will be O.K.? I don’t think so.”

At an Army School for Officers, Blunt Talk About Iraq


published Oct 14, 2007

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. — Here at the intellectual center of the United States Army, two elite officers were deep in debate at lunch on a recent day over who bore more responsibility for mistakes in Iraq — the former defense secretary, Donald H. Rumsfeld, or the generals who acquiesced to him.

“The secretary of defense is an easy target,” argued one of the officers, Maj. Kareem P. Montague, 34, a Harvard graduate and a commander in the Third Infantry Division, which was the first to reach Baghdad in the 2003 invasion. “It’s easy to pick on the political appointee.”

“But he’s the one that’s responsible,” retorted Maj. Michael J. Zinno, 40, a military planner who worked at the headquarters of the Coalition Provisional Authority, the former American civilian administration in Iraq.

No, Major Montague shot back, it was more complicated: the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the top commanders were part of the decision to send in a small invasion force and not enough troops for the occupation. Only Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, the Army chief of staff who was sidelined after he told Congress that it would take several hundred thousand troops in Iraq, spoke up in public.

“You didn’t hear any of them at the time, other than General Shinseki, screaming, saying that this was untenable,” Major Montague said.

As the war grinds through its fifth year, Fort Leavenworth has become a front line in the military’s tension and soul-searching over Iraq. Here at the base on the bluffs above the Missouri River, once a frontier outpost that was a starting point for the Oregon Trail, rising young officers are on a different journey — an outspoken re-examination of their role in Iraq.

Discussions between a New York Times reporter and dozens of young majors in five Leavenworth classrooms over two days — all unusual for their frankness in an Army that has traditionally presented a facade of solidarity to the outside world — showed a divide in opinion. Officers were split over whether Mr. Rumsfeld, the military leaders or both deserved blame for what they said were the major errors in the war: sending in a small invasion force and failing to plan properly for the occupation.

But the consensus was that not even after Vietnam was the Army’s internal criticism as harsh or the second-guessing so painful, and that airing the arguments on the record, as sanctioned by Leavenworth’s senior commanders, was part of a concerted effort to force change.

“You spend your whole career worrying about the safety of soldiers — let’s do the training right so no one gets injured, let’s make sure no one gets killed, and then you deploy and you’re attending memorial services for 19-year-olds,” said Maj. Niave Knell, 37, who worked in Baghdad to set up an Iraqi highway patrol. “And you have to think about what you did.”

On one level, second-guessing is institutionalized at Leavenworth, home to the Combined Arms Center, a research center that includes the Command and General Staff College for midcareer officers, the School of Advanced Military Studies for the most elite and the Center for Army Lessons Learned, which collects and disseminates battlefield data.

At Leavenworth, officers study Napoleon’s battle plans and Lt. William Calley’s mistakes in the My Lai massacre in Vietnam. Last year Gen. David H. Petraeus, now the top American commander in Iraq, wrote the Army and Marine Corps’ new Counterinsurgency Field Manual there. The goal at Leavenworth is to adapt the Army to the changing battlefield without repeating the mistakes of the past.

But senior officers say that much of the professional second-guessing has become an emotional exercise for young officers. “Many of them have been affected by people they know who died over there,” said Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, the Leavenworth commander and the former top spokesman for the American military in Iraq. Unlike the 1991 Persian Gulf war and the conflicts in the Balkans and even Somalia, General Caldwell said, “we just never experienced the loss of life like we have here. And when that happens, it becomes very personal. You want to believe that there’s no question your cause is just and that it has the potential to succeed.”

[Just on Friday, Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the former top commander in Iraq, criticized the administration’s handling of the war as “incompetent” and “catastrophically flawed.”]

Much of the debate at Leavenworth has centered on a scathing article, “A Failure in Generalship,” written last May for Armed Forces Journal by Lt. Col. Paul Yingling, an Iraq veteran and deputy commander of the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment who holds a master’s degree in political science from the University of Chicago. “If the general remains silent while the statesman commits a nation to war with insufficient means, he shares culpability for the results,” Colonel Yingling wrote.

The article has been required class reading at Leavenworth, where young officers debate whether Colonel Yingling was right to question senior commanders who sent junior officers into battle with so few troops.

“Where I was standing on the street corner, at the 14th of July Bridge, yeah, another brigade there would have been great,” said Maj. Jeffrey H. Powell, 37, a company commander who was referring to the bridge in Baghdad he helped secure during the early days of the war.

Major Powell, who was speaking in a class at the School of Advanced Military Studies, has read many of the Iraq books describing the private disagreements over troop levels between Mr. Rumsfeld and the top commanders, who worried that the numbers were too low but went along in the end.

“Sure, I’m a human being, I question the decision-making process,” Major Powell said. Nonetheless, he said, “we don’t get to sit on the top of the turrets of our tanks and complain that nobody planned for this. Our job is to fix it.”

Discussions nonetheless focused on where young officers might draw a “red line,” the point at which they would defy a command from the civilians — the president and the defense secretary — who lead the military.

“We have an obligation that if our civilian leaders give us an order, unless it is illegal, immoral or unethical, then we’re supposed to execute it, and to not do so would be considered insubordinate,” said Major Timothy Jacobsen, another student. “How do you define what is truly illegal, immoral or unethical? At what point do you cross that threshold where this is no longer right, I need to raise my hand or resign or go to the media?”

General Caldwell, who was the top military aide from 2002 to 2004 to the deputy defense secretary at the time, Paul D. Wolfowitz, an architect of the Iraq war, would not talk about the meetings he had with Mr. Wolfowitz about the battle plans at the time. “We did have those discussions, and he would engage me on different things, but I’d feel very uncomfortable talking,” General Caldwell said.

Col. Gregory Fontenot, a Leavenworth instructor, said it was typical of young officers to feel that the senior commanders had not spoken up for their interests, and that he had felt the same way when he was their age. But Colonel Fontenot, who commanded a battalion in the Persian Gulf war and a brigade in Bosnia and has since retired, said he questioned whether Americans really wanted a four-star general to stand up publicly and say no to the president of a nation where civilians control the armed forces.

For the sake of argument, a question was posed: If enough four-star generals had done that, would it have stopped the war?

“Yeah, we’d call it a coup d’etat,” Colonel Fontenot said. “Do you want to have a coup d’etat? You kind of have to decide what you want. Do you like the Constitution, or are you so upset about the Iraq war that you’re willing to dismiss the Constitution in just this one instance and hopefully things will be O.K.? I don’t think so.”

Some of the young officers were unimpressed by retired officers who spoke up against Mr. Rumsfeld in April 2006. The retired generals had little to lose, they argued, and their words would have mattered more had they been on active duty. “Why didn’t you do that while you were still in uniform?” Maj. James Hardaway, 36, asked.

Yet, Major Hardaway said, General Shinseki had shown there was a great cost, at least under Mr. Rumsfeld. “Evidence shows that when you do do that in uniform, bad things can happen,” he said. “So, it’s sort of a dichotomy of, should I do the right thing, even if I get punished?”

Another major said that young officers were engaged in their own revisionist history, and that many had believed the war could be won with Mr. Rumsfeld’s initial invasion force of about 170,000. “Everybody now claims, oh, I knew we were going to be there for five years and it was going to take 400,000 people,” said Maj. Patrick Proctor, 36. “Nobody wants to be the guy who said, ‘Yeah, I thought we could do it.’ But a lot of us did.”

One question that silenced many of the officers was a simple one: Should the war have been fought?

“I honestly don’t know how I feel about that,” Major Powell said in a telephone conversation after the discussions at Leavenworth.

“That’s a big, open question,” General Caldwell said after a long pause.
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Friday, October 12, 2007

What if Military Ads had Disclaimers like Pharmaceutical Ads?

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Democracy - Senator Murray missed it - Darcy Burner saw it - citizens felt it - General Paul Eaton made it real

My military family friends up there in Seattle area didn't plan it to go the way it went, but it sounds like a lot of the Eastside Democratic fundraiser attendees got a glimpse of democracy in action, courtesy of Maj. General Paul Eaton's instincts. (Paul D. Eaton, a retired Army major general, was in charge of training the Iraqi military from 2003 to 2004.) General Eaton, was a primary speaker at the fundraiser, along with Keynote speaker, Patty Murray. General Eaton chose to welcome and invite returning Iraq veteran, Josh, to join him rather than dismiss him as Senator Patty Murray has been inclined to do weekly.

It also sounds like Darcy Burner didn't do such a good job either of making a returning Iraq veteran, a veteran Gold Star father, and a veteran father with son deployed to Iraq for a third time feel welcome. I expect more of Darcy, as she is, after all, a military family herself and I expect that time honored military culture courtesy to be extended to other military families and veterans.
Report from my military friend, David, and let me give you the setting. There are four men, veterans and fathers of veterans, in the Tuesday Vigil group who stand vigil every Tuesday at the Federal Court House in Seattle. Others join them, but these four are the core group who are faithfully there every Tuesday, rain or shine.

David - Vietnam veteran and father of son who is now on third deployment in Iraq. Father and son are from Washington state.

Joe Colgan - veteran and father of Lt. Benjamin Colgan, killed in Iraq in 2003. That makes Joe a Gold Star Father. Father and son are from Washington state. from Seattle Times article Among the soldiers is Lt. Ben Colgan, 30, a 1991 graduate of Des Moines' Mount Rainier High School. Colgan was killed by a roadside bomb Nov. 1, 2003, just weeks after he was filmed in Iraq. (war documentary, "Gunner Palace.") instincts. (Paul D. Eaton, a retired Army major general, was in charge of training the Iraqi military from 2003 to 2004.) General Eaton, was a primary speaker at the fundraiser, along with Keynote speaker, Patty Murray. General Eaton chose to welcome and invite returning Iraq veteran, Josh, to join him rather than dismiss him as Senator Patty Murray has been inclined to do weekly.

Joshua - returning Iraq veteran, Washington state.

Howard - he stays in the background and is a trusted friend to all three, as well as crucial to the organizing the Tuesday Vigil.

They took their Tuesday Vigil to the recent Eastside Democratic fundraiser at the Westin in Bellevue. Below is his email account to me of that event;

Hi All,

It was supposed to be dark and stormy day, but it wasn't. Therefore the turnout was good. I counted 15. The sidewalk traffic is decreasing, however. I did speak with a tourist from England today who discussed P.M. Brown's decision to reduce by half the number of British soldiers in Iraq. She thought it was a good thing. I thought it was a great thing. The British do have a way with understatement.

But there is more. Last Sunday several of us from the group attended the East Side Democratic Fund Raiser and Dinner at the Westin in Bellevue. It seems that Patty Murray was the keynote speaker. The main speaker was General Paul Eaton who retired so he could speak out against the war and Bush's war policy.

We thought that it would be a great opportunity to speak to Murray given that she has dodged us for so long. A generous soul paid for our entrance and dinner. While several of the Tuesday Vigil Group stayed outside in the rain to hold banners, it was decided that Joe, Josh and I would speak when Murray had finished her speech.

Our comments were to address Murray's continued support of the war through her votes on supplemental spending bills while maintaining that she is only supporting the troops but opposing the war. Joe, Josh and I planned to identify our personal stakes in this war then Josh would make the statement.

The speech ended and Murray quickly exited the stage and out of the room not to return. I think she smelled us, or it could have been that we were introduced by the moderator prior to her taking the stage. We found this doubling strange since she spoke so highly of General Eaton but didn't stay to listen to his comments. In any case, she took what will be referred to in the future as "A Murray." This development put a slight kink in the plans.

Darcy Burner then took the stage to introduce General Eaton. When she gave a slight pause, Josh seized the moment, stood and made his statement. God bless the courage of youth. Darcy tried to shut him down by telling him to sit down and she would explain how the war was going to be stopped. Josh, to his credit, did not sit down. He completed what he had to say, then sat down.

The General then took the podium and said that this was what democracy was all about and pointed at Josh, asking him to join him. Josh went to the stage where he saluted the general who returned the salute then hugged Josh.

Following this, the General told Josh to take the podium while he stood back. Josh went to the podium, collected himself and gave the most eloquent, impassioned and moving speech one can imagine.

I couldn't see Darcy Burner's face during this, but she must have felt as though the General had taken her to the woodshed. It was priceless.

Following his speech, Josh left the podium. General Eaton again hugged Josh and Josh returned to the table with the applause of the audience. Josh later described this as an out of body experience. One man at our table was reduced to tears.

During General Eaton's speech he made reference to Josh several times. He also noted that one of his sons is named Josh and that he is soon retuning to the Iraq theater (he has two sons in the Army). Following the speech a man stood and made an anti-war statement. Joe stood and made a statement about the loss of his son in Iraq and his disappointment in Murray for dodging us at every turn.

Following this I stood and was told to sit down by one of the organizers who was standing behind us (There must have been some fear that we were out of control.). I did not sit but made my statement. By this time the crowd was no longer focused on the fund raiser. Our planned event had become something much bigger than planned thanks to Josh's courage.

At this point the auction was supposed to have started, but a woman in the audience stood and said that given how things had developed, we should all stand in a moment of silence for the fallen in Iraq. It should have become clear at this point to all in attendance that the dinner was about an immoral and illegal occupation for which few are paying the price.

It's only too sad that Murray did not have the courage to stay to take a few comments from those of us who are in the 1% club who are sacrificing. Her rhetoric of "I support the Troops" must not be allowed to go unchallenged. After all, funding this war is killing out troops and she knows it. And it's ironic that an Army general had to identify to a person who wants to go to Congress what democracy is.

Following the dinner, and as we were leaving, several people approached Josh and thanked him. There were no negative comments. You could say that the East Side Democrats provided a forum for we of the West Side Tuesday Group. We will be forever grateful.

Today Joe and I went to Murray's office in another attempt to talk with her and to get a sense of how the event was viewed by Murray and her staff. Ardis talked with us because Murray was "out of town." She said that she didn't know much about the event. She didn't even know that General Eaton was there. We expressed our regret that Murray won't meet with us. She said that we have a great deal of access to Murray through her. I reminded her that she is not Senator Murray. I also reminded her that my son is returning to Iraq for the third time next week and that being a member of the 1% club can be lonely when the other 99% are asked only to go shopping.

What can we all take from the Bellevue theater event and our visit to Murray's office today?

Primarily we can always count on the courage of youth to bring us through. This is something that the military has known forever. We can also know that there are no limits to the depths to which a politician will sink in pursuit of power and the maintenance of office. There are some exceptions, but I can't think of them right now. For a Democrat like me, I am sad to make these observations about fellow Democrats.

Carry on the good fight and don't let the bastards wear you down.

In Peace and Solidarity,

my comments - would be Congresswoman Darcy Burner and Senator Patty Murray - maybe it would be better to embrace us (military families in Washington state with skin in the game) than what seems to be efforts to try to distance from us since we all share in common our grave concerns for our military at time of war. If General Paul Eaton can embrace us, if General Wesley Clark can embrace us, then it no longer makes political sense for either of you to seemingly wish to keep distance from us. Our messages may not be exactly the same, but all of us share in common those values of integrity, courage, honor, duty and service to our country.... we have more in common than we don't.

Speak to Joe, speak to Joshua, speak to David - all have served our country as are you and some have paid a heavier price for doing so. They are not your typical anti-war activists, for some their authentic experiences are so compelling as to have them make the difficult choice to be a military family speaking out; countering the very culture of bearing it all in stoic silence, exactly so others won't have to keep bearing it all in stoic silence.

I urge you to hear their personal stories, get to know them personally, hear why they feel compelled to do weekly Tuesday Vigils and hear their personal messages. They do not typify what is casually referred to in Seattle media as anti-war - they have authentic experiences to share and have earned the right to be heard above the din of the noise made by the anti-war crowd.
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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Army is worn too thin; calls force not ready to meet new threats says Army Chief of Staff General Casey

WASHINGTON - The Army's top officer, General George Casey, told Congress yesterday that his branch of the military has been stretched so thin by the war in Iraq that it can not adequately respond to another conflict - one of the strongest warnings yet from a military leader that repeated deployments to war zones in the Middle East have hamstrung the military's ability to deter future aggression.

In his first appearance as Army chief of staff, Casey told the House Armed Services Committee that the Army is "out of balance" and "the current demand for our forces exceeds the sustainable supply. We are consumed with meeting the demands of the current fight and are unable to provide ready forces as rapidly as necessary for other potential contingencies."

Officials said Casey, who appeared along with Army Secretary Pete Geren, personally requested the public hearing - a highly unusual move that military analysts said underscores his growing concern about the health of the Army, America's primary fighting force.

Casey, a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wanted a public forum even though he has ample opportunity to speak to lawmakers in closed-door meetings.

Representative John M. McHugh, a New York Republican, said Casey's blunt testimony was "just downright frightening."

Meanwhile, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates asked Congress for a record-setting $190 billion to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the next year - nearly $50 billion more than anticipated. Most of the money would go to Iraq. If the request is approved, the cost of the 2003 invasion will top $600 billion.

Gates's request is expected to include $17 billion to manufacture thousands of new, heavily armored vehicles designed to withstand the lethal blasts of roadside bombs, the biggest cause of US combat deaths.

Seeking to head off Democrats' maneuvers to attach conditions, including troop withdrawals, on an Iraq spending bill they will send to President Bush, Gates urged the Senate Appropriations Committee "to approve the complete global war on terror request as quickly as possible," without "excessive and counterproductive restrictions."

But Casey, a four-star general who until earlier this year was the top commander in Iraq, made it clear to the House committee that the costs to ongoing military operations is rising, especially in terms of the United States' strategic position in the world.

The strain on the Army has been growing steadily since Bush sent troops into Iraq in 2003 - the longest sustained combat for an all-volunteer American force since the Revolutionary War. The Pentagon and military analysts have documented the signs of the breakdown: serious recruiting problems, an exodus of young officers, and steadily falling readiness rates of nearly every stateside unit.

Casey's testimony yesterday sent a clear message: If President Bush or Congress does not significantly reduce US forces in Iraq soon, the Army will need far more resources - and money - to ensure it is prepared to handle future security threats that the general warned are all but inevitable.

"As we look to the future, national security experts are virtually unanimous in predicting that the next several decades will be ones of persistent conflict," Casey told the panel, citing potential instability caused by globalization, humanitarian crises, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Casey's assessment of the Army's preparedness, however, was far more pessimistic than his predecessor's, General Peter Schoomaker, the former Army chief of staff.

When the same committee in January asked him about the Army's overall condition, Schoomaker answered only that he had "concerns" about the Army's "strategic depth."

Several Pentagon insiders have privately remarked that Casey's apparent alarm about the Army heightened when he returned from nearly three years of duty in Iraq. One civilian military adviser said that Casey was taken aback when informed at a recent meeting that some combat units were heading into battle short of key personnel. After the meeting, the adviser said, Casey took an officer aside and peppered him with questions about exactly which units were affected.

Casey and Geren insisted that the units now deployed to the combat zone are highly trained and outfitted with the proper equipment. However, they said the units of most concern are the ones returning from Iraq or those preparing to deploy without all the proper equipment.

Stocks of equipment the Army has positioned around the world are also growing low because of the war, they said. Replenishing those stockpiles, Casey told the committee, "will give us back our strategic flexibility."

A major risk for the future, however, is that the Army currently spends nearly all of its time training for counterinsurgency operations - "to the detriment of preparedness" for other types of combat, Casey testified. If troops don't continue to train, their skills "will atrophy over time."

Army units are now deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan for 15 months at a time. At current force levels, that allows them 12 months or less back home before being sent overseas again. Casey said yesterday that the cycle allows for "insufficient recovery time."

Compounding the situation, he said, is the fact that part-time soldiers in the Army Reserve and Army National Guard - considered the nation's backup forces in the event of a major conflict - "are performing an operational role for which they were neither originally designed nor resourced."

At the same time, he said, the toll on soldiers' families is even greater, raising serious questions about whether the Army will be able to retain its best soldiers.

In the six months he has been Army chief of staff, Casey said that he and his wife have talked extensively with commanders and Army families about the pressures of repeated tours. "It was clear to us the families are affected," he said. "It's cumulative."

But he warned that the Pentagon's current system can not sufficiently support the troops or their families. "Army support systems including health, education, and family support systems are straining under the pressures from six years of war," he said.

Given enough resources, Casey predicted, it would take at least three to four years to restore the Army to full strength, including replacing damaged or destroyed equipment, adding tens of thousands more soldiers, and increasing health and other benefits for Army families coping with frequent deployments of loved ones.

But committee members wondered if there is enough time.

"This is foremost a question of strategic risk," said the committee's chairman, Representative Ike Skelton, a Missouri Democrat, noting that the United States has used military force on a dozen occasions over the past 30 years. "In most cases the United States was forced to act with little warning. It will happen again; later we hope, but undoubtedly sooner than we'd like."

By Bryan Bender, Globe Staff | September 27, 2007

Army is worn too thin says Army Chief of Staff General Casey
Calls force not ready to meet new threats

article at Boston Globe
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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

John Cusack interviews Naomi Klein, author of 'The Shock Doctrine; The Rise of Disaster Capitalism'

John Cusack interviews Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, which uses the war in Iraq to pull back the curtain on free market myths and expose the forces that are really driving our economy. She details how the crony capitalists running the Bush administration saw post-invasion Iraq as the perfect proving ground for all their pet free-market policies.

The fantasy was that a privitazied and corporatized Iraq would become a free-market utopia that would spread the gospel of the market throughout the Middle East. Klein's writings on Iraq helped inspire John Cusack to create a stinging new satiric film called War, Inc. The pair recently sat down for a HuffPost video - a lively and insightful conversation about The Shock Doctrine, Iraq, the burgeoning new economy that has sprung up around the war on terror, and Baghdad's Green Zone, which Klein calls "a heavily armed Carnival Cruise ship parked in a sea of despair."

see the interview video here

My thoughts; I've been only slightly attuned to the concepts portrayed in Naomi Klein's new book. Attuned enough though, to recognize the realities of how humans react to 'shock and awe', whether that is the death of a loved one that happens daily to families within communities, whether it is a national disaster/catastrophe as Sept 11, 2001 when the World Trade Towers were hit and came down, whether it is the climate of war, whether it is a tsunamic or hurricane of epic proportions, or whether it is the eroding effects of exposure to the exploitation of abuse in family and/or community situations.

What stands out for me about the premise of Naomi's research and thus, her book, is that she went looking for something she thought she would find to be a truism only to find a larger more ominous truism. It might well be worthwhile for the 'movement' as it calls itself to broaden the message, lose some of the old arguments and develop a strategy, replete with a message to include talking points to address the broader context of the shock doctrine and the rise of disaster capitalism as the underpinnings to what we know is happening all around us, inclusive of why Iraq and why stay, why no relief at the time or now to Hurricane Katrina sufferers, why the mortgage crisis which is upon is will generate an economic disaster for some while supporting the capitalist utopia laboratory Naomi points to in her book.

Beyond the concerns of President Eisenhower in his warnings of military industrial complex, beyond the concepts of marxism, communisim, beyond the concept of corporate America, it seems to me that as long as the 'movement' continues to use old strategies to counter old tensions, it cannot be effective in countering what is already in play now within our country and on the more global stage. I encourage and urge a reading and discussion of Naomi's book and the premise laid out in what she has found in her research.
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