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
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
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:
c/o Institute Policy Studies
1112 16th St. NW, Ste 600
Washington DC, 20036
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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?
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
(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
Mother of Vet
Responds to Claims Debate on Iraq War Demoralizing Troops