Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

BuzzFeed: Dying Iraq war veteran Tomas Young penned a letter to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War.   2 comments

Tomas Young, who was paralyzed on his fifth day of deployment in Iraq in 2004 and is now dying of complications from that injury, writes to the men who sent him to war.  (via TruthDig)

Dying Iraq war veteran Tomas Young penned a letter to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War.

Tomas Young in 2007.

Source: Body of War

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Image by John Moore / Getty Images

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Source: Pool / Getty Images

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Source: Reuters

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Source: Body of War  /  flickr

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Source: Reuters

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Image by Alex Wong / Getty Images

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Source: Body of War  /  flickr

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Image by Chris Hondros / Getty Images

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Image by Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

“The Last Letter” of Tomas Young:

 

A Message to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney From a Dying Veteran

To: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney
From: Tomas Young

I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq War veterans. I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of those whose wounds, physical and psychological, have destroyed their lives. I am one of those gravely wounded. I was paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care.

I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost a parent, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries. I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have witnessed, endured and done in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day. I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all—the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.

I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.

Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, your privilege and your power cannot mask the hollowness of your character. You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit. Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago. You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage.

I joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks. I joined the Army because our country had been attacked. I wanted to strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of my fellow citizens. I did not join the Army to go to Iraq, a country that had no part in the September 2001 attacks and did not pose a threat to its neighbors, much less to the United States. I did not join the Army to “liberate” Iraqis or to shut down mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities or to implant what you cynically called “democracy” in Baghdad and the Middle East. I did not join the Army to rebuild Iraq, which at the time you told us could be paid for by Iraq’s oil revenues. Instead, this war has cost the United States over $3 trillion. I especially did not join the Army to carry out pre-emptive war. Pre-emptive war is illegal under international law. And as a soldier in Iraq I was, I now know, abetting your idiocy and your crimes. The Iraq War is the largest strategic blunder in U.S. history. It obliterated the balance of power in the Middle East. It installed a corrupt and brutal pro-Iranian government in Baghdad, one cemented in power through the use of torture, death squads and terror. And it has left Iran as the dominant force in the region. On every level—moral, strategic, military and economic—Iraq was a failure. And it was you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, who started this war. It is you who should pay the consequences.

I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love. I would not have to lie in my bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundreds of thousands of human beings, including children, including myself, were sacrificed by you for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire.

I have, like many other disabled veterans, suffered from the inadequate and often inept care provided by the Veterans Administration. I have, like many other disabled veterans, come to realize that our mental and physical wounds are of no interest to you, perhaps of no interest to any politician. We were used. We were betrayed. And we have been abandoned. You, Mr. Bush, make much pretense of being a Christian. But isn’t lying a sin? Isn’t murder a sin? Aren’t theft and selfish ambition sins? I am not a Christian. But I believe in the Christian ideal. I believe that what you do to the least of your brothers you finally do to yourself, to your own soul.

My day of reckoning is upon me. Yours will come. I hope you will be put on trial. But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live. I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness.

—Tomas Young

Via: TruthDig

Posted March 20, 2013 by benjaminsapiens in News, politics

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The Maine Labor Mural is now on display in the Maine State Museum   Leave a comment

Maine Labor Mural - Clarke Canfield, AP

Clarke Canfield, AP

Maine Labor Mural - Andy Molloy, Kennebec Journal

Andy Molloy, Kennebec Journal

Five years ago, in 2008, Maine artist Judy Taylor completed a 36-foot, eleven-panel mural depicting the history of labor in our state, which was then displayed in the lobby of the Maine Department of Labor in Augusta.

And there it sat until March 2011, when our blustering illustrious governor decided he didn’t like its pro-labor message and had taken from the walls of the Labor Department.

Gov. LePage received an anonymous letter signed by a “secret admirer” who sputtered in outrage at the presence of pro-union, Communist North Korean-style propaganda adorning the walls of a government building. This right-wing mouth-breather’s heartfelt plea for the state government to embrace reactionary anti-union paranoia resonated with LePage’s “Solidarity for Businesses and the People Who Own Them” agenda, and thus Dear Leader declared the mural objectum non grata in the very building it was commissioned to adorn.

It was a nasty if pathetically impotent attack on the labor movement, and it seriously pissed off quite a lot of Mainers.

Of course, it ended up backfiring completely on LePage: he made himself look like an obnoxious, bullying despot, the issue became a distraction for his administration and a rallying point for his detractors, and the mural became famous, celebrated – beloved, even – and is now prominently displayed in the Maine State Museum.

Bangor Daily News: Labor mural unveiled at new home, the Maine State Museum in Augusta

By Matthew Stone

AUGUSTA, Maine — Nearly two years after Gov. Paul LePage had a mural depicting Maine labor history removed from the lobby of the Department of Labor building, the artwork resurfaced Monday at its new home: the Maine State Museum.

Labor Commissioner Jeanne Paquette and Maine State Museum Director Bernard Fishman unveiled the Maine Labor History Mural in the atrium ofthe state Cultural Building in Augusta, which houses the museum, the Maine State Library and the Maine State Archives.

The Department of Labor has loaned the mural to the Maine State Museum for three years. Fishman, the museum’s director, said Monday that museum staff and others would work to find the artwork a permanent home during that period. The mural’s final home might be the museum, he said, but that would require some renovation.

“The murals, when they first came to public attention, were only contemporary art in a functional office,” Fishman said. “And after their removal became a public issue, they became historic in their own right. They recall and commemorate the past, but they also remind us of the power of art to stir thought and to stir feelings.”

This is a satisfying victory, and even if the  resolution is quiet and a bit undramatic, it’s a wonderful outcome. LePage failed, and the things he attacked came out stronger. It still doesn’t make up for that fact a bullying little puke is our governor, but it’s a nice offset to the damage he’s done to our state.

Maine Labor Mural

Maine Labor Mural 2

Gay marriage comes to Maine   Leave a comment

Portland Press Herald: Maine same-sex couples begin license process at 12:01 am

The legal barrier dismantled by November’s vote, same-sex couples line up to “make it official”

By Kelley Bouchard

PORTLAND — Michael Snell and Steven Bridges emerged from City Hall early Saturday and stepped into history, as the first of at least a dozen gay couples across Maine who exchanged wedding vows on the first day for same-sex partners to marry.

Forty-four couples obtained marriage licenses in the 10 or so communities from Portland to Bangor that opened their clerk’s offices as early as midnight for the special occasion. Fourteen were married almost immediately in city or town halls, while a few others were planning private ceremonies Saturday.

Bridges and Snell had been united in a commitment ceremony six years ago, so when a reporter asked them if they felt “more married” after the wedding, Snell responded, “No, it’s just official.”

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Michael Snell and Steven Bridges of Portland wait in line at Portland City Hall to be the first gay couple in Maine to be married on Friday, December 28, 2012.   Photo: Carl D. Walsh

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The first five same-sex couples who arrived to get marriage certificates walk up the steps of Portland City Hall.   Photo: Gabe Souza

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Steve Bridges and Michael Snell, both of Portland, kiss after being the first couple to be married at Portland City Hall on Saturday morning, December 29, 2012.   Photo: Gregory Rec

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Katy Jayne gets a kiss from Lauren Snead after they obtained their marriage license.   Photo: Robert F. Bukaty

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Steven Jones and Jamous Lizotte wear laurel wreaths as they arrive at Portland City Hall.   Photo: Robert F. Bukaty

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Mary Parker, holding Grace, 22 months, becomes emotional as her partner for seven years, Becky Roak, fills out paperwork for a marriage license at Brunswick Town Hall Saturday morning.   Photo: Tom Bell

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Donna Galluzzo and Lisa Gorney leave the Portland City Clerk’s office after obtaining their marriage license.   Photo: Robert F. Bukaty

Posted December 29, 2012 by benjaminsapiens in cool, News, politics

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Stay classy, gun nuts   Leave a comment

Since the horror at Newport on Friday, the NRA has done what it always does after gun massacre: keeping silent and out of sight until talk of the tragedy dies down.

But some gun rights organizations are a little more shameless.

Check out this little gem of an ad that appeared on Facebook yesterday:

National Association for Gun Rights

I’d never heard of this group before, but I just had to check out their Facebook page. It was as awful as I expected.

Here’s what they posted on the day of the massacre:

more guns less crime

And here are the words of wisdom that one gun lover had to share with the world:

they shud make a law where everyone over15 thats not mentally ill or a violent felon, mandatory to have to carry a gun. That would put an end to rapes, robberys,and mass shooting. Maybe people would think twice, if they knew everyone was packing. plus we wouldnt need to wait for the cops to show after a tragedy has happened, it would be stopped rite then an there.

And while the NRA may respond to their sudden unpopularity in the wake of two dozen teachers and young children being slaughtered by gunfire by silencing its Twitter feed and deactivating its Facebook page, the National Association for Gun Rights took the opportunity to offer a “weekend membership special.” I wish I was kidding.

Membership

I don’t think they could possibly be any more shameless and vile, short of, say, announcing plans to travel to the elementary school to “sing praise to God for the glory of his work in executing his judgment,” as the Westboro Baptist Church did.

But who knows, maybe eliminating gun control laws really is the solution to reducing violent crime. After all, if everyone was packing, rapes, robberys,and mass shooting would be stopped rite then an there.

“I like PBS, I love Big Bird…”   Leave a comment

Mitt Romney: “I’m sorry, [debate moderator and PBS news anchor] Jim [Lehrer], I’m gonna stop the subsidy to PBS. I like PBS, I love Big Bird — I actually like you too — but I am not going to keep spending money on things [we have] to borrow money from China to pay for.”

Isn’t it funny how the things Republicans love to cut, the things that make up a tiny portion of our national budget, and the things that have an enormously positive effect on our society – that lead to happier, healthier, more fulfilling lives, especially for minorities and the poor – tend to all be the same things?

Republican National Convention 2012   Leave a comment

So, the Republican National Convention in Tampa ended yesterday. Here are some highlights. Bizarre, horrifying highlights.

  • The convention was held in the Tampa Bay Times Forum, which is a publicly owned and publicly financed venue built with millions of taxpayers’ dollars. In other words, they didn’t build that.
  • Hurricane Isaac menaced and briefly shut down the convention.

    • A constitutional amendment banning abortion, with no exceptions for rape or incest
    • A constitutional amendment banning gay marriage
    • No support for gay civil unions
    • Arizona-style anti-illegal immigrant laws
    • A constitutional amendment requiring a congressional super-majority to aprove any new taxes – except taxes to support wars or national emergencies
    • Public display of the Ten Commandments and prayer in public schools
    • Expansion of stand-your-ground gun laws
    • Did I mention they want to force rape victims to give birth to their rapists’ babies?
  • The keynote speaker was Clint Eastwood. He gave a rambling, incoherent speech in which he had a pretend conversation with Barack Obama while talking to an empty chair. This event was the deliciously surreal icing on the seven-layer “What the hell???” cake that was the 2012 Republican National Convention.

Obama ate a dog!   Leave a comment

So, I read an article on BuzzFeed about the Romney/Obama Dog-gate “scandal” and then got involved in a struggle to balance the deluge of comments left by conservatrolls (gleefully oblivious to the fact that “turnaround is fair play” doesn’t apply when the turnaround is a wildly false equivalency) with some sanity-based counterpoints.

There was one particularly determined troll leading the attack with all the dignity and cleverness of a four-year-old teasing one of his siblings:

After a while it occurred to me that his name seemed familiar. I googled it and I realized that this childish little twit was none other than the hack excuse for a columnist at The Daily Caller who “broke” this “story” last week.

That’s right: the only reason this “Obama ate a dog!!111!1!!” nonsense has been floating through our national dialogue this past week is because it got dredged up and published in a right-wing tabloid by some little twerp with an image of Breitbart on a piece of toast as his Facebook profile picture who’s paid to act as a travesty of a journalist and who’s now trolling this article on BuzzFeed.

This, America, is why we can’t have nice things.

Also, he personally insulted me responded to one of my comments, which is the closest I’ve come to interacting with a famous person since Stephen King’s family sat at a table across from our at Mama Baldacci’s a few years ago.