Iraqi details war’s horrors
Gathering is told U.S. should bring troops back home
BY SHARON ADARLO
Entisar Mohammad Ariabi is a slight woman, with deep-set eyes and a dark burgundy head scarf, who speaks softly in her native Arabic.
But the harrowing stories Ariabi tells about the Iraq war speak loud and clear to the United States: Get out.
“Everything is worse after the occupation,” she said. “So many people are dying.”
With the third anniversary of the war as a backdrop, Ariabi spoke last night to an anti-war crowd of student activists and residents at the Rutgers University graduate student lounge.
Ariabi is part of a push by CodePink, an anti-war women’s organization, to highlight the struggle of people in Iraq, end the war and bring American troops home.
Ariabi was brought to the United States with other Iraqi women by the organization for a month-long lecture tour across the country at college campuses.
Last night’s lecture was Ariabi’s last in the country. She will be flying to Sweden today for another event then home to Baghdad.
“I left my children in Baghdad so that everybody will know the truth about the war,” the mother of five said. “I call them every day. They say things have gotten worse.”
As a pharmacist and a doctor, Ariabi’s special concern is the rapidly deteriorating state of health care in Iraq.
“More than a hundred patients come in for treatment, and the doctors can’t see all of them,” she said. “We are short on medicine. The mortality rate is high.”
Doctors have been killed or have fled the country in droves, according to Ariabi.
“Our hospitals were bombed and looted,” Ariabi said.
The scariest moments for Ariabi came in the first months of the war.
Stumbling into the emergency room of the Yarmook Teaching Hospital, one of the largest in Baghdad, Ariabi was shocked to see that it was crowded with people drenched in blood and missing limbs.
“They (Americans) were throwing bombs everywhere,” the pharmacist said. “There were fragment bombs that explode into pieces and fly through the air, killing people.”
When asked if she was angry at President Bush, Ariabi gave a bitter laugh and smiled.
“He’s a liar and a thief,” she said. “He lied to the American people so that he could steal Iraqi oil.”
As for the current sectarian violence between Shi’as and Sunnis, Ariabi dismissed it.
“It’s just an excuse for the American troops to be there,” she said.
Ariabi is a Sunni, her husband is a Shi’a, her children are mixed, just like the other families in her middle-class Baghdad neighborhood, El Amria, she said.
“It’s Shi’ites, too, that are coming from outside the country (from Iran) that is causing all the trouble,” she said.
Despite the litany of bad news, Ariabi thinks that if American troops pull out of Iraq, things will get better.
Nadia Akbar, a Rutgers graduate student, thought it was educational for the crowd to get a first-hand account about the war.
“It’s really sad to see that one of the most developed health care systems in the region would be destroyed,” Akbar said. “It was good to learn that.”
This article was written with the help of a translator.
Don’t know what happened to the Home News and Daily Targum. They missed a great story.
March 28, 2006
Here’s a screen grab of the Tom Kean Jr. ad currently running on the front of PoliticsNJ.com:
Does anyone know exactly what Junior has reformed in the past four years he’s been in the state legislature? Property taxes? Environmental regulation? Pensions? Budget processes?
Anyone? Buehler? Buehler?
How about calling Junior’s office at 908-789-2100 and asking his staff to tell us what he’s reformed?
March 28, 2006
It seems Tom Kean Jr. can’t catch a break. When he takes a back seat and lets other people drive he gets abused for ducking the Vice President. When he gets aggressive and takes the fight to Bob Menendez, he gets slapped around again.
Today Kean Jr. tried to drag Bob Menendez into the state budget mess. NJ Democratic Chair Joe Cryan — following Blue Jersey’s lead — put out a statement noting that Kean shouldn’t have begged off the budget committee if he wanted to use it as a campaign issue.
The AP tried to get a response from the Kean Jr. on the record about it, and it was not pretty:
Kean sidestepped questions on why he recently left the powerful Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, which hears some legislation before other committees and often serves as the first hurdle for fiscal proposals.
“He’s on other important committees,” said Kean campaign spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker. “It takes a tremendous amount of time to run for the U.S. Senate.”
Hazelbaker ducked the question by admitting that Kean Jr. is unable to be a part time legislator and run for US Senate at the same time. What a joke!
UPDATE II: Thanks to JM for this one, where the Star Ledger catches Junior ducking the tough questions:
Throughout his news conference, Kean avoided praising Bush by name and even declined to say if his tax policies were closer in philosophy to Bush or Corzine.
Nor would he offer specifics – whether he favored deficit spending or borrowing to avoid budget cuts, or which parts of the state budget he would cut to afford cuts in taxes.
â€œThis is larger than the budget specifics,â€ Kean said. â€œThis goes to the larger issue of principle.â€
Yeah, the larger issue of the I don’t have a better solution but if I don’t get aggressive soon there’s no chance I can win principle.
UPDATE: And the hits keep coming. Check Budget Committee Chair Wayne Bryant’s response after the jump:
March 27, 2006
Tom Kean Jr. is attacking the proposed Corzine budget today in an effort to stem the lousy press he’s gotten from being invisible on the Dubai Ports deal and then ducking the event with Cheney last week.
Republican state Sen. Tom Kean Jr., running for the U.S. Senate, today challenged his opponent to oppose tax hikes in the state budget envisioned by Gov. Jon S. Corzine.
“We’re raising taxes in New Jersey for the fifth straight year when other states are cutting them,” said Kean, R-Union.
“It’s time to take a stand,” Kean said at a Statehouse news conference, daring U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., to oppose the more than $1.5 billion in tax hikes proposed last week in Corzine’s budget plan.
Of course, if Junior were really serious about making a difference on the budget process in Trenton this year, he shouldn’t have resigned his seat on the Budget Committee so that he could duck the hard issues as he campaigns for a promotion.
Menendez took a harder job — a statewide US Senate seat instead of a local House seat — and is still able to campaign while doing his job.
If Junior wants to criticize Menendez, Junior should do his own job first.
March 27, 2006
The Daily Record has a good rundown today of the goings-on in the eleventh congressional district, currently occupied by Rubber-Stamp Rodney Frelinghuysen.
Chatham Township Committeeman William “Jack” Hartford, who was poised for a Democratic primary battle against Tom Wyka, the congressional candidate from Parsippany, will instead join a saturated pool of contenders seeking a seat on the Morris County freeholder board.
“I am no longer in the race for congressman,” Hartford said at his home on Sunday evening.
“That’s where my heart was, but I think there is a greater need here (in the county).”
In my mind, though I’m certainly not opposed to open primaries, this is a good thing. A strong Democratic team of Jack Hartford and Dana Wefer running for two open Freeholder seats in Morris County is great news. And with such an entrenched incumbent as Rodney Frelinghuysen, Tom Wyka will benefit from being able to focus all of his attention on the general election.
As I said, incumbents don’t come any more entrenched than Frelinghuysen. But judging by his recent sloppy rhetoric, it seems that he thinks this race is going to be the typical cakewalk against a token challenger. Tom can chime in on this point, but I think Rubber-Stamp Rodney’s sorely mistaken. Here’s a sampling from Frelinghuysen:
Frelinghuysen told the crowd that he wants to make President Bush’s tax cuts permanent.
“I don’t apologize for cutting taxes,” he said. “I’m a firm believer in making those taxes permanent. What we really need to do is control spending.”
Kean, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez, said he too supports making the tax cuts permanent.
A standing ovation erupted after Frelinghuysen said staying the course in Iraq and Afghanistan is “truly essential” for freedom and for the troops. …
“In every sinew of my body, I believe what we’re doing in Iraq and Afghanistan is truly essential and is for freedom,” said Frelinghuysen, a Vietnam War veteran himself. He then added that backing out of the fight against the “global jihad” would negatively affect the troops overseas.
…[M]ore people are growing dissatisfied with the president.
Frelinghuysen made it clear that he is not one of them.
“I am proud of our president,” Frelinghuysen said at the rally.
After his talk, Frelinghuysen, who had signed on to the Contract with America 12 years ago that had a provision suggesting that state representatives not run more than six terms or 12 years in office — an issue raised when it was known that he would seek re-election — said he had not supported that particular stipulation.
For the record, Frelinghuysen thinks tax cuts are great, the War in Iraq is awesome, and that he gets to retroactively pick and choose which parts of agreements he signed that he should live up to. And his nonsense about supporting tax cuts and spending cuts is little more than empty rhetoric.
March 24, 2006
The Tax Foundation issued its latest report [pdf] of how the states fare in sending tax dollars to the federal government and then getting that money back. It turns out that under the Republican Congress New Jersey has been getting screwed.
- In 1994, the last year of a Democratic Congress, New Jersey got 69 cents on the dollar from the federal government. After ten years of almost unbroken Republican control of Congress, New Jersey is now getting 55 cents on the dollar. That’s a 20 percent drop in relative funding.
Oh, and the 55 cents on the dollar figure is the worst in the nation.
- In 1994, the last year of a Democratic Congress, New Jerseyans paid 133 percent of the national per capita average in federal taxes. Ten years of Republican control of Congress means we pay 144 percent.
- Compounding the insult of forcing us to pay a larger share of federal taxes than most people in other states, the last ten years have seen a precipitous drop in our percentage of the federal budget coming to NJ.
Back in 1994, the per capita spending on New Jersey’s residents was 91 percent of the national average. After ten years of Republican control, we now get 78 percent of the national average.
It’s fair that New Jersey is a donor state, because we are wealthier than most. We were a donor state under a Demcoratic Congress, and we are a donor state under a Republican Congress. But under Republicans we are sending more and getting less than ever before!
Don’t let those Republicans tell you they are reducing our tax burden and helping us to keep more of our money in our pockets.
The fact is that when we used to send money to the federal government we got 20 percent more back than we do today, and that is thanks to a Republican Congress. This results in New Jersey’s income and property taxes rising to pay for roads, schools, environmental controls, port security, etc.
Republicans talk a good game about how we should elect Tom Kean Jr. and Mike Ferguson and the like because they will cut taxes for us, but that is just a smokescreen. We may save a few bucks in the long run, but the commensurate reduction in services is not worth the cost.
March 22, 2006
News Round-up for Wednesday, March 22nd, 2006
- The big news story around the state is the Governor’s budget address, which fueled concerns about how the state’s budget will affect residents of Our Fair State: Higher education, tanning parlors, municipalities who use state police services, smokers, drinkers, luxury car dealers, property owners, those expecting rebates, and environmentalists.
- Business leaders cheered the budget proposal, which would reduce revenue raised from business taxes by 10%. “Allowing those anti-business taxes to expire will send a signal that he is serious about creating a climate that will allow businesses to thrive here,” said John Galandak of the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey.
- Owners of the state’s four nuclear power plants should reimburse the state for security expenses, according to the new budget proposal. Both the State Police and National Guard supplement private security at the plants.
- Superior Court Judge Carol Higbee has denied Merck’s request to dismiss cases of two New Jersey men who blame Vioxx for their heart attacks. The pharmeceutical comany must begin their defense in the case.
- Former state attorney general Robert Del Tufo was sworn in yesterday as chairman of the board of Trustees for the troubled UMDNJ. He called for the examining of operating committee’s dealings, as well as opening the trustees’ actions to more public scrutiny.
- A specialized Camden high school, designed to attract top students interested in the health-care field, has become the focus of an investigation into grade-fixing and cheating on standardized tests.
- Tom Moran dissects Tom Kean JUNIOR’s lame excuse that he got stuck in traffic on his way to a fundraiser with Dick Cheney on Monday night. Anyone who decides to travel the length of Rt. 1 at rush hour and expects to arrive somewhere on time is either completely out of touch with Our Fair State or avoiding showing up- you decide.
March 21, 2006
Luckily, noone was shot in the face yesterday when Dick Cheney came to town. The thought of a real shot as well as a photo shoot drove Tom Kean from showing up on time. Anyone who has half a brain shouldn’t have a hard time knowing why it is bad for Tom Kean Jr. (or any politician for that matter) to align himself with anyone who has an approval rating of 18%. Let alone a Vice President who, on a good day, resembles a trigger happy Elmer Fudd crossed with Darth Vader.
Speaking of Darth Vader, the next right wing nutjob to visit NJ in hopes of bolstering Tom Kean Jr.’s war chest is Sen. Mitch “Darth Vader of Campaign Finance Reform” McConnell (R-KY). Ironic since the Sen. John “Crusader of Campaign Finance” McCain was another of Tom Kean Jr.’s recent visiting Fund Raisers.
This is the same Mitch McConnell who has said intelligent and progressive things like:
“More young people believe they’ll see a U.F.O. than that they’ll see their own Social Security benefits.”
Besides being obviously in favor of Privatizing Social Security (something Jr. is “committed to keeping the promise of”) , Sen. McConnell has done such wonderful things as recieving almost $20,000 in Jack Abramoff related money, as most Republicans, McConnell has lots of other interesting donors.
Perhaps what should be of most interest to Tom Kean Jr. is perhaps #2 on Sen. McConnell’s list of donors, a company called UST Inc. which as Open Secrets reminds us:
the â€œTâ€ stands for tobacco
The Tobacco industry as a whole is #15 on McConnell’s list of supporters with $91,000.
Then again, why should any of this pique the interest of the cosponsor of a recently passed bill entitled “The New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act”?