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(DV) Richards: Mother of Soldier Crosses Paths with Rep. David Obey


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ďWe Don't Have the VotesĒ 
Mother of Soldier Crosses Paths With Rep. David Obey
by Tina Richards
www.dissidentvoice.org
March 11, 2007

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ďBe 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.Ē

-- John Adams 

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) 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." 
 
123 soldiers and Marines have died since I left Missouri -- 23 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 draw down some of their forward operations as a consequence 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 getting the votes.   
 
We who are lobbying for peace are out-numbered a thousand to one, though, in these halls, I see lobbyists 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 than 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 hundred 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 outnumber the war lobbyists 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 that 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 
c/o Institute Policy Studies 
1112 16th St. NW, Ste 600 
Washington DC, 20036 

 


Survivorís Guilt 
by Corporal Cloy Richards 
 
I stare at this paper and donít know what to say 
I donít feel right saying ďhappy memorial dayĒ 
I donít find anything happy in the price youíve  
paid 
Weíre 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  
place 
But not like the way that car bomb took your  
face 
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 
Iím sorry your son died protecting me 
This isnít 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 fiancťe took my fate from me 
Iím sorry your father took my place for me 
Iím sorry I can spend memorial day with my  
family 
Today should have been a memorial for me 
At least then the survivor could have lived guilt-
free


Transcript of Tina Richards Encounter with Rep. David Obey, Chair of Appropriations Committee, US House of Representatives: 
 
Tina Richards: Hi, Iím 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?  Heís a United States Marine, heís done two tours in Iraq . . . heís going to be deployed for a third tour. 
 
David Obey
: I honestly donít know, Iím so buried in appropriations bills, I only get back over here for about 10 minutes a day. Iíve seen very little in my office . . .
   
TR: OK, because my son is suffering from PTSD, heís had several suicide attempts. 
   
DO:  Iím 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, ďIt sounds like youíve got childhood issues.Ē 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, heís been told that heís got childhood issues. 
   
DO: . . . weíre holding hearings today and Wednesday . . . theyíre continually screwing those guys . . . the Washington Post is full of it . . .  
   
TR: Well Iíve been talking about this for over a year now, and nobody seems to be paying much attention. 
   
DO: Well, I guarantee whatís happening at Walter Reed . . . [indecipherable] . . . whole damn thing . . . 
   
TR: Well what about the, umm, are you going to be voting against the supplemental? 
 
DO:  Absolutely not, Iím the sponsor of it for heaven sakes. 
 
TR: For the  . . . uhh . . . to continue the war? 
 
DO: It doesnít. The President wants to continue the war. Weíre trying to use the supplemental to end the war, but you canít end the war by going against the supplemental. Itís time these idiot liberals understand that. Thereís a big difference between funding the troops and ending the war. Iím not gonna deny body armor. Iím not gonna deny funding for veterans hospitals, defense hospitals, so you can help people with medical problems, thatís what youíre gonna do if youíre going against that bill.    
   
TR: There should be enough money already in the regular defense bills . . .
   
DO: (interrupting) Well there isnít. 
   
TR: . . . without continuing the funding for the war. 
   
DO: There isnít. There isnít. Thatís not the way it works. The money in the defense bill, it pays for a standing army, but it doesnít pay for these recurring costs. Weíre 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 youíre talking about. How the hell do you get money to the hospitals if you donít 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 Rumsfeldís resignation, but we donít have the votes to defund the war we shouldnít because that also means defunding everything in that bill to help the guys who are the victims of war. 
   
TR: Well thereís an amendment to the supplemental thatís being proposed to fully fund the withdrawal of the troops. 
   
DO: That makes no sense. It doesnít 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 donít have to defund something if the war doesnít exist. 
   
TR: Oh, I didnít know that was in the supplemental (DO talking over her) 
 
DO: Thatís the problem, thatís the problem. (emphatic right arm gesturing) The liberal groups are jumping around without knowing what the hell is in the bill! You donít have to cut off the funding for an activity that no longer is legal!    
   
TR: Oh, and then approach it from that way . . .  
   
DO: Weíre shutting it off. 
 
Peter Perry: (citizen activist, 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 Iím talking about.  
   
PP: Did that end the ground war in Vietnam? 
  
DO: No it didnít. 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, isnít he still the Commander in Chief? Then . . . 
 
DO: (voice raised, leaning in towards PP) We donít have the votes to pass it! We couldnít even get the votes to pass a nonbinding resolution one week ago! How the hell do you think weíre gonna get the votes to cut off the war? 
   
PP: By stopping the funding. 
 
DO: How, if you donít have the votes? It takes two hundred . . .  
 
PP: With a filibuster to his supplemental request. 
   
DO: There is no filibuster in the House. 
 
PP: In the Senate they could do it and all they need is 41 votes. 
 
DO: Iím sorry . . . No Iím not gonna vote for it . . . Iím the sponsor of the bill thatís gonna be on the floor, and that bill ends the war . . . if that isnít good enough for you, then youíre smoking something that ainít legal! 
   
PP: No Iím not, sir, no Iím not. 
   
DO: You got your facts screwed up. 
   
TR: (started to say something) 
 
PP: Itís non-binding. How would it affect what heís doing on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? 
   
DO: We donít 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 get the votes for it? We ainít got the votes! We do have the votes if you guys quit screwiní it up. We do have the votes to end the legal authority to end the war, thatís 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: Iím not going to debate it, youíve got your facts wrong . . . 
   
(DO then turns and walks away with his staffer to enter his office.) 
   
TR: The last question is Ďhow can we helpí so we can talk together? 
   
(staffer escorting DO away from the scene) 
   
DO: Goodbye!  Goodbye!

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

Other Articles by Tina Richards

* Mother of Vet Responds to Claims Debate on Iraq War Demoralizing Troops
 

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