Tag Archive: Iraq

Heroes and Victims

Cross-posted from deciminyan.

On the Alex Bennett radio program this morning, its eponymic host discussed the weekend’s latest “pants on fire” controversy, this one involving MSNBC talk show host Chris Hayes.

Hayes is a brilliant young man, editor of The Nation, and as progressive as they come.  He stuck his neck out with comments on his program on Sunday when he discussed the concept of heroism in the context of today’s wars:

“Why do I feel so uncomfortable about the word ‘hero’? I feel uncomfortable about the word ‘hero’ because it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war.  I don’t want to obviously desecrate or disrespect the memory of anyone that’s fallen, and obviously there are individual circumstances in which there is genuine, tremendous heroism, you know, hail of gunfire, rescuing fellow soldiers and things like that. But it seems to me that we marshal this word in a way that is problematic. But maybe I’m wrong about that.”

(As an aside, when was the last time you heard a Fox “News” commentator use a turn of phrase as delightful as “rhetorically proximate”?)

During the weekend of barbecues and parades in commemoration of those who died in our endless wars, it was refreshing to read about a dose of reality. On Bennett’s show, he made the distinction between “heroes” and “victims.” Bennett got it right, too.

I love a parade, but…

promoted by Rosi

So, the Giants won the Super Bowl, and I hope my friends who are Giants fans enjoyed their parade. I sure enjoyed the parade when the Phillies won the World Series in 2008.

Governor Christie wanted the parade in New Jersey, since that is where the Giants play their home games, but I say lets let New Jersey reap the tax revenues and let New York City pay for the parade, which we cannot afford.

Now, some are calling for a parade to honor the returning veterans of the war in Iraq. I respectfully disagree. While I certainly appreciate the desire to honor the sacrifices of  those who gave so much, a day of jingoistic flag-waving is not the way to do it.

These veterans are coming home physically, mentally, and emotionally injured. They are coming back to a place where job prospects are weak. What they need is access to health care and job opportunities, not a parade.

As long as the war in Afghanistan continues, as long as drone attacks continue to kill innocent civilians and conduct targeted assassinations, including American citizens, as long as saber rattling replaces diplomacy with Iran, Syria and elsewhere, how about we hold off on the parades.

Let's end this state of perpetual war, and then we'll have something to celebrate.

New Jersey, the Iraq War, What We’ve Lost & the President’s Speech Ending it All

President Obama’s remarks today announcing a drawdown – to zero – of American troop presence in Iraq is not directly New Jersey news.

But more than 100 people with ties to New Jersey have died in the allied wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And at least 539 New Jerseyans died at the World Trade Center attack tied to both wars. For them, for NJ soldiers deployed in Iraq and veterans of 2 wars there, and for the $40 billion spent by NJ on the Iraq War, here is the speech ostensibly ending it, from the President:

From the White House:



James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

12:49 P.M. EDT

    THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everybody.  As a candidate for President, I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end — for the sake of our national security and to strengthen American leadership around the world.  After taking office, I announced a new strategy that would end our combat mission in Iraq and remove all of our troops by the end of 2011.

Speech concludes after the jump.

“Come on Up for the Rising”

While Governor Christie will hobnob today with influential power brokers in NYC, LG Kim Guadagno will attend five 9/11 events in our state. One of them will be at Bergen County’s spacious Overpeck Park on the banks of a creek. Befitting the loss of life of so many county residents, the park has its own World Trade Center Memorial. Engraved stones along its paths commemorate those who died.

For me it was not a political leader, but Bruce Springsteen in his song The Rising who vividly captured the 9/11 experience and expressed the hope that out of the horror some good would come. It is narrated by a fireman, one of many heroes during this awful moment. He  is climbing the World Trade Center stairs through the fire and chaos, “Lost track of how far I’ve gone, how high I’ve climbed. On my back’s a sixty pound stone. On my shoulder a half mile line.” He sees the dead and injured: “Faces gone, black, eyes burnin’ bright. May their precious blood forever bind me.” Thinking perhaps about the effect this event will have on so many remaining friends and family members, he speaks of “Sky of memory and shadow. Sky of longing and emptiness.” Released a year after the event, the song has as its refrain “Come on up for the rising,” suggesting not only the fireman’s excruciating climb upward, but also a religious exhortation that people come on up for a renewal or resurrection, life after death, which provides meaning and hope where initially there was only despair.

The one where $60 billion in waste and fraud is ok by Republicans

Last week, I wrote a post about how House Republicans like Scott Garrett and Eric Cantor were using this past week’s disasters (earthquake, Hurricane Irene) and used them as a sick opportunity to take cheap shots at those who were the most in need and vulnerable.

Of course, I’m referring to the self righteous calls for more cuts to desperately needed programs to help those who aren’t super rich in order to pay for cleanup of the massive and widespread damage.


Hopefully, everyone is safe, with power back on if it was lost or all water bailed out (as I spent most of yesterday doing) or all tree branches picked up (as I still have to finish myself).

Before the storm hit, a number of Republicans in Congress felt the need to throw around some gasoline and wave a matchbook at their constituents:

House Republicans demanded earlier this year that new disaster relief be funded by cuts elsewhere, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s office said Thursday the Virginia Republican continues to believe that.

Rep. Scott Garrett agreed. Garrett, R-N.J., said through a spokesman it was the “responsible thing to do.”

“With $16 trillion in debt and budget deficits as far as the eye can see, the last thing we should be doing is spending money we don’t have,” Garrett spokesman Ben Veghte said.

Selective Oversight

In an editorial today (albeit on an unrelated matter), Al Doblin reminds us about Rep. Scott Garrett’s views on Government oversight when it comes to GIVING OUT money to people in need:

The honor system never works well when there is public money for the taking. After Hurricane Katrina, Rep. Scott Garrett, R-Wantage, was vilified by pretty much everyone for not supporting emergency federal funding for victims, but he raised what later became a prescient point: That there wasn’t proper oversight and without it, there would be widespread fraud and abuse.

It Fell On Deaf Ears: my warning for the Lieberman 2006 campaign

This is such an interesting coda to the diary I wrote last night. In my read, it’s both sad and inspiring. For sure, Joe Lieberman didn’t deserve Stephen, who is a candidate for office right now Berkeley Heights Township Council – Rosi

I read Rosi’s article on the front page of Blue Jersey with great interest. It was wonderful to see how she and so many NJ-DFA members came up to Connecticut to support a progressive Democrat in Ned Lamont.

However, I have a confession to make: not only was I not among them, but at the time I was trying to help his opponent win renomination. It was a futile effort on my part, and one I now regret.

President Barack Obama Remarks on the Killing of Osama bin Laden

Remarks by the President on Osama Bin Laden

East Room, White House

11:35 P.M. EDT

   THE PRESIDENT: Good evening.  Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.

It was nearly 10 years ago that a bright September day was darkened by the worst attack on the American people in our history.  The images of 9/11 are seared into our national memory — hijacked planes cutting through a cloudless September sky; the Twin Towers collapsing to the ground; black smoke billowing up from the Pentagon; the wreckage of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where the actions of heroic citizens saved even more heartbreak and destruction.

And yet we know that the worst images are those that were unseen to the world.  The empty seat at the dinner table.  Children who were forced to grow up without their mother or their father.  Parents who would never know the feeling of their child’s embrace.  Nearly 3,000 citizens taken from us, leaving a gaping hole in our hearts.

This very good speech continues after the jump.


“Maybe you shouldn’t have supported trillions in unfunded wars…”

What “the great deficit debate” really boils down to is one thing:  priorities.

Deficits weren’t a priority when nearly all Republicans and a good number of Democrats voted for the ill conceived and ill advised invasions and occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq close to a decade ago.  They weren’t a priority when tens, if not hundreds of billions went to waste or were just “lost” in Iraq – not knowing if they ended up in the hands of those who were the stated enemy.  They weren’t a priority when billions of no-bid contracts were handed out like candy, with no accounting.

There were some in Congress, including my Representative, Scott Garrett, who weren’t yet elected when the first vote was taken to start the folly in Iraq.  However, he, and his ilk have been present for all or most of the subsequent economy killing votes to continue funding these disasters with our children’s, grandchildren’s and great-grandchildren’s money.  There wasn’t even a hesitation on most of this – even with the very basic premise that cutting taxes in conjunction with a war is unheard of and pretty much unprecedented.

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