The Lady Speaks

Wandering Words

The past couple of months, my posting has been infrequent at best. The simple fact is that blog fatigue, political fatigue, and plain ol’ “life” fatigue have left me with little time and/or little interest.

I’ve been writing about the same topics, the same outrages for two and a half years. Almost nothing has changed in that time except a few generals and the leadership of Congress. (And wow, did we get suckered on that last one! Forgive me if I can’t get worked up about “change!” and “hope!” when our Democratic Party-controlled Congress has failed to provide any of the changes we worked for, hoped for, and expected after the 2006 election.) The war – and war profiteering – continues, the illegal spying on the communications of Americans continues, Big Business continues to prosper while the poor and (diminishing) middle-class struggle to put food on the table and keep roofs over their heads. All with the complicity of the Democrats.

Also, I can’t work up any enthusiasm for our candidate. Heck, even tepid enthusiasm would be an improvement on my feelings of “Oh yay. Another idiot, only this one thinks Republicans are the “party of ideas” and made political hay during the primary by lumping the only two-term Democratic president since FDR into the same category as Bushes I & II. And the DNC wants me to vote for him?!”

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June 30, 2008 Posted by | America, Government, Politics, US Military, War, White House | 2 Comments

On this Memorial Day

Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.
~From a headstone in Ireland, via quotegarden

Two years ago, I wrote a post for Memorial Day that I’ve never been able to top. The words came straight from my soul via my heart, and nothing I’ve written since about our veterans — living and dead — and their sacrifices has matched it. In fact, everything I’ve tried to write about Memorial Day since then has been pretty much the same thing, just dressed a little differently.

This is the 5th Memorial Day we have celebrated since El Pollo Loco and his band of minions started an unjustified war. 4082 Americans have died to accomplish a “mission” brought to them by a lying government, a cheerleading press, and a profiteering corporate structure.

I could write something about the troops who have valiantly served our nation – even when our government has chosen to turn its collective back to those who protect and defend her – but it would simply be a derivative of These Honored Dead:

[…] Servicemen and women do not choose their battles, they do not choose their enemies. They are told where to go and what to do by leaders that may or may not have their best interests at heart, by leaders who may or may not have seen combat themselves. And they do the very best they can, under circumstances the rest of us will never be able to comprehend.

My problem is not, and never has been, with the men and women in uniform. It is with those who send those men and women into harm’s way without valid reason, without proper equipment and supplies. It is with those who scream themselves hoarse about supporting the troops, but cut veterans benefits in wartime and order them – in America’s name – to violate international law and their own moral code.

It is those who mistreat the American soldier while calling the rest of us unpatriotic.

What I’d like to address today is not the many sacrifices made by our military and their families. There are many fine places on the web which have excellent tributes today to the men and women who serve.

Instead, I’d like to talk about something else that’s related to Memorial Day. The lack of respect and understanding for our nation’s symbols.

This is a small town, one of those places where you’d almost automatically think, “Mom and apple pie.” Many of our area residents have served or are serving in the military. We have a strong tradition of being there when our country calls. We still have parades on Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day. Our local supermarket’s window boasts pictures of currently-serving service personnel. Once a week, the papers prints all the addresses of those locals who are serving, so people can write and remind them of home, keep them up-to-date on local affars, keep their spirits up. A local group bakes cookies and another collects personal hygiene items for our troops.

So you would assume this is a place where the flag and symbols of our nation and of our veterans’ service are universally respected and treated with dignity.

You’d be wrong. I myself have been stunned again and again by the absolute lack of caring when it comes to these things. It’s not just that people don’t know, it’s that they don’t care to learn.

There was an incident locally that brought this to mind yet again. A cemetery’s caretakers — for whatever reasons, and there are plenty of pointing fingers and loads of excuses — after setting a policy that no “ornaments or decorations” would be allowed at gravesites, removed all the veterans’ markers from the cemetery. These are the markers on which American flags are placed prior to certain holidays – Memorial Day, Flag Day, July 4th, and Veterans’ Day.

Worse yet, these markers were thrown – along with the various “ornaments and decorations” that were stripped from each and every final resting place – into a trash pile in a field across the road.

I am horrified by all of it. To have taken these small mementos at someone’s grave and simply dumped them?

But I am especially angry about the veterans’ markers. My father, his brothers, and my paternal grandfather are buried there, and all were veterans. I’m glad I was not one of those who discovered this horror. I cannot imagine my reaction to seeing the symbols of my family’s service ripped out and tossed in the garbage.

Would someone please explain to me how on earth it is possible for someone to not understand the deep meaning and symbolic value of those markers, to not understand that they are not merely “ornaments and decorations?”

Thankfully, due to enormous efforts by the VFW and the Legion to remap the cemetery and place new markers – each and every veteran’s grave has once again been properly marked.

Sadly, however, this is not an isolated incident. Far, far too many people have no understanding of true patriotism, and they certainly have no understanding of flag etiquette and respect.

Do we blame the schools for failing to teach students the value and meaning behind our flag? The government for failing to live up to the standards of conduct written in the Constitution and for forcing schools to cut geography and history and civics classes in order to teach to meet the standards of the NLCB tests? The media for promoting false patriotism over true debate? All of the above?

How many times have you attended an event and seen almost no one under 40 remove their hats and/or stand for the Anthem? How many times have you seen a ripped and tattered flag on a flag pole? Or seen a flag flying at night with no uplighting? Or a cotton flag flying in the rain?

Last year, I had to call harass the local Walmart for three weeks straight because they were flying the flag in darkness. The reason? The lights had malfunctioned/burned out/didn’t work, and — with the exception of a few people (including my sister) – no one cared. The first three days, the lady who answered the phone was all pleasant and reassuring, “Oh my! We’ll certainly take care of that! Thank you so much for alerting us to this!” Too bad that was her whole reaction. It wasn’t until I spoke to my sister later that I discovered my concerns hadn’t been passed on at all. So I started annoying them. Every. single. night.

Another night, my sister went into work and watched three employees drop two American flags on the floor after they’d been used for Independence Day decorations. Dropped them on the floor. (If you don’t understand why anything in the last three paragraphs is a problem, google “American flag etiquette” or “US Flag Code.”)

This Memorial Day, take time to honor our nation’s veterans of all wars, but also take some time out from the grill and the gardening and the various summer projects you might have to educate someone on the Flag and its handling. Speak up on the proper ways to honor our nation’s heroes, past and present. Talk to your children about why our national symbol and those who died for it must be held in the highest regard and treated with the highest respect.

May 26, 2008 Posted by | America, Life, Memorial Day, Military, US Military, Veterans | 2 Comments

Friday Anti-War Song

Limited free time means I haven’t been able to work on the blog as often as I’d like, plus the “primary fatigue” that set in made me want to start posting recipes rather than digging in to write anything substantive. Unfortunately, this also meant I stopped posting the FAWS and updating “Counting the Cost.” I may not get to posting much else on a regular basis, but I’ll try to remember to keep these going. –Jenn

War Pigs — Black Sabbath

Generals gathered in their masses
Just like witches at black masses
Evil minds that plot destruction
Sorcerers of deaths construction
In the fields the bodies burning
As the war machine keeps turning
Death and hatred to mankind
Poisoning their brainwashed minds, oh lord yeah!

Politicians hide themselves away
They only started the war
Why should they go out to fight?
They leave that role to the poor

Time will tell on their power minds
Making war just for fun
Treating people just like pawns in chess
Wait till their judgement day comes, yeah!

Now in darkness, world stops turning
As the war machine keeps burning
No more war pigs of the power
Hand of God has sturck the hour
Day of judgement, God is calling
On their knees, the war pigs crawling
Begging mercy for their sins
Satan, laughing, spreads his wings
All right now!

May 9, 2008 Posted by | Bush, Congress, Government, Iraq, Music, Politics, Protest, US Military, War, White House, World Peace | Leave a comment

What I Learned from Petraeus

In Part II of the Dog and Pony show held at the House Armed Services Committee, we learned that freedom and democracy are pretty hard to force down the throats of an occupied people.

September 2007 – Violence is up; we must stay.

April 2008 – Violence was down, but it seems to be going up again; we must stay.

September 2007 – There have been improvements, but we must stay to see the surge through.

April 2008 – The surge brought improvements, and some troops have left, but we must “pause” the draw-downs – which will leave more troops in Iraq than there was before the surge – and stay to see it through.

Hmmm…. Anyone else reminded of the theme song from the Shari Lewis/Lambchop show?

This is the song that never ends
Yes, it goes on and on, my friends
Some people started singing it
Not knowing what it was
And they’ll continue singing it
Forever just because
This the song that never ends …”

I also learned that “victory” in Iraq will consist of a country “at peace with itself and its neighbors”, able to defend itself, with a “reasonably representative” government that can care for its citizens.

Yeah, mull that over for a bit. Not one country in the Middle East could meet those standards, and neither could the US. Canada, maybe.

So the shorter Petraeus: We’re never leaving.

In other news: El Pollo Loco will announce a reduction in combat tour lengths, to twelve months.

This change will not go into effect until August, and will not apply to troops currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

April 10, 2008 Posted by | Bush, Congress, Iraq, Middle East, Pentagon, US Military, War, White House, World Peace | 1 Comment

Requiem for a Blogger

How is it possible to cry for a man you only met through the blog post he asked to be published in the event of his death?

I’m dead. That sucks, at least for me and my family and friends. But all the tears in the world aren’t going to bring me back, so I would prefer that people remember the good things about me rather than mourning my loss. (If it turns out a specific number of tears will, in fact, bring me back to life, then by all means, break out the onions.) I had a pretty good life, as I noted above. Sure, all things being equal I would have preferred to have more time, but I have no business complaining with all the good fortune I’ve enjoyed in my life.

I’d never heard of Andy Olmsted or his alter-ego G’Kar until yesterday afternoon when a friend sent a link to his final words on Obsidian Wings, posted by hilzoy.

Since then, in those spare moments between my tasks here in the real world, I’ve been reading that final post over and over as well as the comments, following links to and from others who knew him — or didn’t and simply wanted to honor a good man, a good soldier, a good husband, son, and brother. I’ve cried over my keyboard at almost regular intervals.

“The flame also reminds us that life is precious. As each flame is unique; when it goes out, it’s gone forever. There will never be another quite like it.”
Ambassador Delenn, Babylon 5

I write this in part, admittedly, because I would like to think that there’s at least a little something out there to remember me by. Granted, this site will eventually vanish, being ephemeral in a very real sense of the word, but at least for a time it can serve as a tiny record of my contributions to the world. But on a larger scale, for those who knew me well enough to be saddened by my death, especially for those who haven’t known anyone else lost to this war, perhaps my death can serve as a small reminder of the costs of war. Regardless of the merits of this war, or of any war, I think that many of us in America have forgotten that war means death and suffering in wholesale lots. A decision that for most of us in America was academic, whether or not to go to war in Iraq, had very real consequences for hundreds of thousands of people. Yet I was as guilty as anyone of minimizing those very real consequences in lieu of a cold discussion of theoretical merits of war and peace. Now I’m facing some very real consequences of that decision; who says life doesn’t have a sense of humor?

Such a bright light is gone, and the world is certainly a darker place.

There are no words to express the sorrow I feel for his family. May there be some peace and comfort in the thousands of blog posts honoring his memory and from the loving words of those who knew him in this ephemeral space we call the blogosphere.

Ave atque vale, Major Olmsted. May you rest in peace.

Walk Within You

If I be the first of us to die,
Let grief not blacken long your sky.
Be bold yet modest in your grieving.
There is a change but not a leaving.
For just as death is part of life,
The dead live on forever in the living.
And all the gathered riches of our journey,
The moments shared, the mysteries explored,
The steady layering of intimacy stored,
The things that made us laugh or weep or sing,
The joy of sunlit snow or first unfurling of the spring,
The wordless language of look and touch,
The knowing,
Each giving and each taking,
These are not flowers that fade,
Nor trees that fall and crumble,
Nor are they stone,
For even stone cannot the wind and rain withstand
And mighty mountain peaks in time reduce to sand.
What we were, we are.
What we had, we have.
A conjoined past imperishably present.
So when you walk the woods where once we walked together
And scan in vain the dappled bank beside you for my shadow,
Or pause where we always did upon the hill to gaze across the land,
And spotting something, reach by habit for my hand,
And finding none, feel sorrow start to steal upon you,
Be still.
Clear your eyes.
Listen for my footfall in your heart.
I am not gone but merely walk within you.

~ Nicholas Evans
“The Smokejumper”

January 5, 2008 Posted by | America, Blogging, US Military, War | Leave a comment

Counting the Cost






December 31, 2007 Posted by | America, Bush, Cheney, Condoleeza Rice, Congress, Government, Iraq, Media, Middle East, Pentagon, Rumsfeld, US Military, Veterans, War, White House | 20 Comments

Politics vs. Reality in Middle America

Sorry for the serious lack of posting. I just couldn’t make myself give a damn about politics and other bullshit.

I should care. I should care about the failures of the Democrats, the obstructions, hatred, and nonsensical positions of the Republicans, the complete and utter lack of caring about the poor and the weak and the needy.

I should be posting three and four times a day, ranting and raving.

But the truth is … I’m tired. I’m just tired and overwhelmed with outrage fatigue, and – quite honestly – depressed. Children die because bureaucrats in an insurance company, safely removed from the consequences of their decisions, decide they aren’t worth saving. Aren’t worth attempting to save.

People are going hungry, going without heat, going without necessities like expensive prescription drugs, struggling to hold on to their homes in a still-collapsing housing market and a tightening rental market, working two or three jobs to provide the basics of food and shelter and clothing and heat – in the so-called “richest nation on earth.”

Where’s the hope? Where’s the light at the end of the tunnel?

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December 27, 2007 Posted by | America, Economy, Education, Election '08, Family, Global Warming, Government, Health, Iraq, Politics, SCHIP, US Military, Veterans, War | 1 Comment

Friday Anti-War Song — Chris Chandler Edition

This is the Chris Chander/David Roe song I mentioned in a comment on the previous post. Imagine my joy when I found it on YouTube, and although the video is one created by the uploader, not the one Chris uses, it’s still fantastic.

I’ve seen Chris and DR live twice now, and each time was fabulous. They played both times at this little hole-in-the-wall coffeehouse that seats maybe 30…40 if a few people double up. The crowds were huge both times, with people standing 4 deep outside just to see and hear the show.

Although Dave isn’t touring with Chris anymore, definitely take the time to catch the show if Chris comes to your area! It’s a fantastic combo of music, spoken word, and visual images.

Somethings in the Air/But It’s Not on the Airwaves, from American Storyteller Volumes 1 & 2:

Visit Chris’ website.

December 7, 2007 Posted by | America, Bush, Music, Pentagon, Politics, Protest, US Military, War, White House, World Peace | Leave a comment

Walter Cronkite: Our Troops Must Leave Iraq

Nearly forty years ago, my mother was a senior in high school, our country was mired in an unwinnable war, and Walter Cronkite had returned returned from a trip to Vietnam. At the end of his February 27, 1968 broadcast, he made editorial statement calling for the return of American troops.

Part of what he had to say then:

“… For it seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate. This summer’s almost certain standoff will either end in real give-and-take negotiations or terrible escalation;


To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe, in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past. To suggest we are on the edge of defeat is to yield to unreasonable pessimism. To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion. Continue reading

December 5, 2007 Posted by | America, Bush, Cheney, Civil War, Government, Iraq, Middle East, Military, Pentagon, Politics, Protest, Television, US Military, Vietnam, War, White House | 2 Comments

Friday Anti-War Song

Blowin’ in the Wind
— Bob Dylan

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
Yes, ‘n’ how many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, ‘n’ how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they’re forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind,
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, ‘n’ how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, ‘n’ how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind,
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

How many years can a mountain exist
Before it’s washed to the sea?
Yes, ‘n’ how many years can some people exist
Before they’re allowed to be free?
Yes, ‘n’ how many times can a man turn his head,
Pretending he just doesn’t see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind,
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

November 9, 2007 Posted by | America, Government, Iraq, Middle East, Music, Pentagon, Protest, US Military, War, White House, World Peace | 1 Comment