A Mother of a US Soldier Crosses Paths With Rep. David Obey
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    Exclamation A Mother of a US Soldier Crosses Paths With Rep. David Obey

    A Mother of a US Soldier Crosses Paths With Rep. David Obey
    By Tina Richards

    Al-Jazeerah, March 10, 2007

    Following the article is a poem by the author's son who is facing his third tour of duty in Iraq. And following that is the transcript of her encounter with Rep. Obey. The video is on www.GrassrootsAmerica4us.org


    "We Don't Have the Votes"

    As I've been walking the halls of congress these last few weeks, I have been shocked at the arrogance, the finger shaking, and statements such as Rep. Obey (D-WS), "It's time these idiot liberals understand...." (Watch the video GrassrootsAmerica4us.org) Or Russ Carnahan's chief-of-staff, "you can't trust those activists." As the mother of an Iraq War Veteran who has seen what this war has done to her son, her family and many others, I have become an activist and a liberal which apparently is anyone working to end the war.

    So each day I am creating opportunities to discuss with our lawmakers how to help our troops by bringing them home. Many of the staffers I meet start with handing me their latest press release about being against the surge. "That is not what I am there to discuss," I respond. "I do not understand how anyone can be against the escalation while leaving 144,000 soldiers and Marines stranded in Iraq without a way home."

    One hundred and twenty-three soldiers and Marines have died since I left Missouri – 123 families who will receive their husband, wife, son, daughter home in a flag draped coffin. Tens of thousands will come home to families that will wonder what happened to their son or daughter, because who returned is barely human. Struggling everyday to keep them alive while their Commanding Officers ignores their cries for help, while the VA leaves the signs of PTSD untreated, while their families weep for needless suicidal deaths.

    So I am not here to discuss being against the surge. For me, it is unconscionable to be against the surge and leave abandoned our sons and daughters that are still in Iraq. I did not leave the comforts of my home, forgoing the last few months before my sons possible third deployment to Iraq, to discuss what is obvious and politically easy to do.

    But what I came to do cannot be done in Missouri. In Missouri, you cannot walk down a hallway and run into the author of the supplemental. You cannot get to know the schedulers and then have them call you when their boss just walked in so you can come up and meet them. You cannot go to a hearing and as you are waiting to get in, ask senators and congressman for an appointment. You cannot ask them to look you in the eyes as they explain why they will continue this war. So I am staying as long as I get donations to stay.

    As our lawmakers tell us, "we don't have the votes to end the war," they continue to take large donations from the war profiteers. As the Democratic leadership echoes the Republicans, "We support the troops, we are voting for the supplemental," I have to wonder just how much support they are showing the troops. Rep. Chet Edwards said if the Republicans vote it down and the anti-war representatives join with them, they will reintroduce it with nothing but funding for the war and join with the Republicans. The argument the troops won't have body armor or bullets goes in direct opposition of testimony from the generals who stated they would have to drawn down some of their forward operations as the consequences of not getting their funding. So I have to wonder why the Democratic leadership says, "we don't have the votes," if they don't even try to get the votes? Not even try, but actively work against it.

    Us lobbying for peace are out-numbered a thousand to one, though, in these halls. I see lobbyist from all the defense contractors by the hundreds. I have always wondered why we have a war department but not a department of peace. It is no wonder when our representatives are talking with the profiteers of war a thousand more times then they talk with those who see diplomacy as a noble goal. I was recently at a dinner with Garrett Reppenhagen of Iraq Vets Against the War, where he related his meeting with Senator Kerry. "Senator Kerry told me, 'I have met with five hundreds people this week, and you are the only one here talking of peace,'" said Garrett. Until those numbers change, each generation will see war enter their lives. No matter how hard we work to protect our children, mothers will suffer as we send our children off to war.

    But when we out number the war lobbyist a thousand-to-one, we will have a department of peace instead of a war department. If you plan on coming to Washington DC, call me and join me to lobby for peace. When you take your summer break or vacation, come join me and let me show you the halls of congress belong to "We the People." If you can't come to DC, help me bring others by giving donations. If a hundred people pledge to contribute $25 a month, I will stay and teach others how to lobby for peace.

    Please send Checks, Money Orders Payable to Grassroots America (A non-profit corporation) or cash:

    Tina Richards
    Institute Policy Studies
    1112 16th St. NW, Ste 600
    Washington DC, 20036

    Be not intimidated... nor suffer yourselves to be wheedled out of your liberties by any pretense of politeness, delicacy, or decency. These, as they are often used, are but three different names for hypocrisy, chicanery and cowardice.--John Adams

    Tina Richards is the mother of Corporal Cloy Richards who is facing his third tour of duty in Iraq.

    Survivor’s Guilt
    By Corporal Cloy Richards

    I stare at this paper and don’t know what to say
    I don’t feel right saying “happy memorial day”
    I don’t find anything happy in the price you’ve
    We’re both just pawns when this game called
    war gets played
    My body came home but my spirit just stayed
    That hot Iraqi day when you were slayed
    Watching my back so I could sleep unafraid I
    heard the explosion from where I laid
    And instantly I watched the skies go grey
    I watched my life just float away
    How could things go this way
    You were my brother in arms and you took my
    But not like the way that car bomb took your
    And blew off your limbs
    When I think about it my head starts to spin
    I get noxious when I think of your family
    I want to tell them I truly am sorry
    I’m sorry your son died protecting me
    This isn’t the way things were meant to be
    You see that day your son took my duty
    Your brother sacrificed four 4 hours of sleep
    So he could go guard a gate for me
    Your fiancée took my fate from me
    I’m sorry your father took my place for me
    I’m sorry I can spend memorial day with my
    Today should have been a memorial for me
    At least then the survivor could have lived guilt-

    Transcript of Tina Richards Encounter with Rep. David Obey

    Rep. David Obey (DO): Chair of Appropriations Committee, US House of Representatives

    Tina Richards (TR): Mother of Iraq war Marine, soon to be deployed for a third time

    Peter Perry (PP), citizen activist, Derwood, MD.

    TR: Hi, I’m Tina Richards. I had left a poem that my son had written [with one of your staffers] I was wondering if he ever got it to you? He’s a United States Marine, he’s done two tours in Iraq… he’s going to be deployed for a third tour.

    DO: I honestly don’t know, I’m so buried in appropriations bills, I only get back over here for about 10 minutes a day. I’ve seen very little in my office…

    TR: OK, because my son is suffering from PTSD, he’s had several suicide attempts.

    DO: I’m sorry to hear that…

    TR: … he tried to get help through the VA, and it took us six months to get his first appointment with the VA, in ten minutes they told him, “It sounds like you’ve got childhood issues.” But he was able to do four years in the Marines, two deployments to Iraq, honorable discharge, presidential unit citation, and he was just fine for that, and now that he needs help from the VA, he’s been told that he’s got childhood issues.

    DO: … we’re holding hearings today and Wednesday …they’re continually screwing those guys… the Washington Post is full of it…

    TR: Well I’ve been talking about this for over a year now, and nobody seems to be paying much attention

    DO: Well, I guarantee what’s happening at Walter Reed...[indephirable] …whole damn thing…

    TR: Well what about the, umm, are you going to be voting against the supplemental?

    DO: Absolutely not, I’m the sponsor of it for heaven sakes.

    TR: For the …uhh.. to continue the war?

    DO: It doesn’t. The President wants to continue the war. We’re trying to use the supplemental to end the war, but you can’t end the war by going against the supplemental. It’s time these idiot liberals understand that. There’s a big difference between funding the troops and ending the war. I’m not gonna deny body armor. I’m not gonna deny funding for veterans hospitals, defense hospitals, so you can help people with medical problems, that’s what you’re gonna do if you’re going against that bill.

    TR: There should be enough money already in the regular defense bills…

    DO: (interrupting) Well there isn’t.

    TR: … without continuing the funding for the war.

    DO: There isn’t. There isn’t. That’s not the way it works. The money in the defense bill, it pays for a standing army, but it doesn’t pay for these recurring costs. We’re gonna add over a billion dollars more to what the President was asking for in that bill, so we can deal with exactly the type of problems you’re talking about. How the hell do you get money to the hospitals if you don’t provide the funding?

    TR: Are you going to be in support of….

    DO: I hate the war. I voted against it to start with. I was the first guy in Congress to call for Rumsfeld’s resignation, but we don’t have the votes to defund the war we shouldn’t because that also means defunding everything in that bill to help the guys who are the victims of war.

    TR: Well there’s an amendment to the supplemental that’s being proposed to fully fund the withdrawal of the troops

    DO: That makes no sense. It doesn’t work that way. The language we have in the resolution ends the authority for the war, it makes it illegal to proceed with the war. You don’t have to defund something if the war doesn’t exist.

    TR: Oh, I didn’t know that was in the supplemental (DO talking over her)

    DO: That’s the problem, that’s the problem. (emphatic right arm gesturing) The liberal groups are jumping around without knowing what the hell is in the bill! You don’t have to cut off the funding for an activity that no longer is legal!

    TR: Oh, and then approach it from that way….

    DO: we’re shutting it off

    PP: (who had been standing back, listening, now approaches TR and DO).. What about the Church amendment that helped end the Vietnam war back in ’72, ’73?=

    DO: (Emphatically, voice raised) It took us 31 different efforts to get there, I was here for that.

    PP: ok. (started to say something… PP and DO start talking over each other)

    DO: I know what the hell I’m talking about.

    PP: Did that end the ground war in Vietnam?

    DO: No it didn’t. The political pressure on the administration ended the war. The amendment that finally ended the funding was the [undecipherable] amendment, I was the sponsor of that amendment…

    PP: But if you pass the resolution, isn’t he still the Commander in Chief? Then…

    DO: (voice raised, leaning in towards PP) We don’t have the votes to pass it! We couldn’t even get the votes to pass a nonbinding resolution one week ago! How the hell do you think we’re gonna get the votes to cut off the war?

    PP: By stopping the funding.

    DO: How, if you don’t have the votes? It takes two hundred ….

    PP: With a filibuster his supplemental request.

    DO: There is no filibuster in the House.

    PP: In the Senate they could do it and all they need is 41votes.

    DO: I’m sorry…. No I’m not gonna vote for it ….. I’m the sponsor of the bill that’s gonna be on the floor, and that bill ends the war….. if that isn’t good enough for you, then you’re smoking something that ain’t legal!

    PP: No I’m not, sir, no I’m not.

    DO: You got your facts screwed up.

    TR: (started to say something)

    PP: It’s non-binding]. How would it affect what he’s doing on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?

    DO: We don’t have the votes! (he then opens right side of suit jacket) Do you see a magic wand in my pocket?

    PP: No.

    DO: How the hell are we gonna got the votes for it? We ain’t got the votes! We do have the votes if you guys quit screwin’ it up. We do have the votes to end the legal authority to end the war, that’s the same as defunding it. (at this point a female staffer approaches Rep. Obey and taps him on the arm)..

    PP: Tell us how we can help.....

    DO: I’m not going to debate it, you’ve got your facts wrong…

    (DO then turns and walks away with his staffer to enter his office.)

    TR: The last question is ‘how can we help’ so we can talk together?

    Staffer: (escorting DO away from the scene)

    DO: Good bye! Goodbye!


  2. #2
    Blahblahblah. Surrender now and get it over with, in other words.

    "Can't we all just get along???"

    "Sure we can, as long as you promise to pray to Allah five times daily, wear a burhka, and follow the Koran."

    "Oh...isn't multiculturalism grand! Sure, we can do that!"

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