As we reflect on the anniversary of the Iraq War we should take a look back at how one of the most controversial American foreign policy decision in history came about. Massachusetts had 10 congressmen, in addition to its two senators, on Captiol Hill at the time, all Democrats. Half of the delegation that voted on the authorization of the Iraq War is no longer present. Here's how they voted:
NAY D Olver, John MA 1st
NAY D Neal, Richard MA 2nd
NAY D McGovern, Jim MA 3rd
NAY D Frank, Barney MA 4th
YEA D Meehan, Marty MA 5th
NAY D Tierney, John MA 6th
YEA D Markey, Ed MA 7th
NAY D Capuano, Michael MA 8th
YEA D Lynch, Stephen MA 9th
NAY D Delahunt, Bill MA 10th
YEA D Kerry, John MA
NAY D Kennedy, Edward MA
Kerry and Meehan have departed the steps of Capitol Hill for greener pastures but Markey and Lynch are still around, currently jockeying to fill Kerry's old seat. Here's what Markey had to say on his vote:
"Ten years ago, the Bush administration perpetrated a fraud on Congress and the American people and launched an invasion into Iraq even though the administration knew that there were no nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction," Markey said. "As a result, we fought a conflict that cost thousands of lives, billions of dollars, and untold damage."
“Before they had one strongman, Saddam Hussein, who made all the decisions and through force and through oppression he pushed his agenda. They never had the responsibility of sitting down across the table and arguing out their issues,” Lynch told reporters.
“I think our error, which I do regret, is that we moved too quickly,” he said.
The Republicans in the race leave much to be desired, too.
State Rep. Dan Winslow issued a statement saying we're all better off Hussein is gone.
‘‘They ended the reign of Saddam Hussein who was a destabilizing presence in the Middle East,’’ Winslow said in a statement. ‘‘There is no doubt that the world is a better and safer place with the end of this dangerous dictator who was an exporter of terrorism.’’
Sullivan had something similar to say in a statement on his website:
Mike Sullivan supported the goal of helping to build a free Iraq that would respect the human rights of its people and create a more peaceful and secure Middle East -- benefiting not only that region but the world.
Gomez, the only Republican in the race with military experience, was pretty vague about where he stood on the war when talking with the Springfield Republican. He issued a statement, too, where he talked about care for returning veterans.
“You can talk about it differently now, because obviously there’s been evidence that maybe he didn't have weapons of mass destruction,” Gomez said. “But leading up to that point, the right thing to do was to go into Afghanistan, go after al Qaida, its safe haven, and if you really thought there was weapons of mass destruction like a lot of people did…You've got 30 plus Democrats who voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq.”
Who knows if the cardinals will actually send up a puff of white smoke from the Sistine Chapel today but if they do here’s hoping that they pick our own Cardinal Sean O’Malley. Nobody in the College of Cardinals is more capable or qualified to lead the Roman Catholic Church than Boston’s humble Franciscan Capuchin. He took the reins at one of the biggest institutions in town during a time when it was in the worst possible sexual abuse crisis and has slowly but surely turned it around. Is there any doubt he couldn’t do the same at the Vatican?
O’Malley’s arrival in Boston after the departure of the disgraced Cardinal Bernard Law was a breath of fresh air in the Hub. Law was flashy and glitzy, known to show up to events in black cars while O’Malley is more prone to make quiet entrances in his brown robes and sandals. O’Malley even to sell Law’s lavish living quarters, opting to live in a simple apartment near the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.
In addition to his humble and unassuming presence on the Boston scene he has managed to restore the churches finances to a sound condition in a transparent way, quite an impressive feat given the damage caused by the sex abuse crisis and Law’s mismanagement. O'Malley has tackled the tragedy of sex abuse in Boston, Ireland, and other deeply Catholic areas by meeting with victims, releasing names, and cracking down in a way that his awful predecessor couldn't have imagined.
O’Malley and his team have taken advantage of technology, too, by building up a sizeable social media presence and daily blog that give us a more personal view into O’Malley’s daily life. His time as cardinal here has been more open and transparent than his predecessor
O’Malley’s work as the CEO of the archdiocese is just one part of his many qualifications for Holy Father. Like pretty much all of the Catholic hierarchy, O’Malley is a social conservative but he has not made it the central focus of his existence like other Catholic leader as Christopher Dickey at the Daily Beast explained in a post yesterday. O’Malley has spent time as a community organizer for the downtrodden and is a champion of the poor and immigrants that have struggled to get by:
The people who came to him for help often had no papers and were living on the edge of personal disaster, far from their families and homes in Nicaragua and El Salvador, Peru and Bolivia. But this bearded Franciscan friar in the long brown robes, the pointed hood and the sandals of the Capuchin order, who looked so strange on the streets of the nation’s capital at the height of the disco era, seemed wonderfully familiar and reassuring for the immigrants. He was an unabashed icon of the church they knew, the human embodiment of the charity they hoped for, the worldly and wise friend who could help them straighten out their lives. “Padre Sean,” they called him.
When we first met, it was in the center’s offices, if that’s what they could be called. Big maps of Central and South America were pinned to the wall with letters cut out of colored paper like in elementary school. They read PAZ (peace), JUSTICIA (justice), and AMOR (love). He seemed so at ease with the people there, and they with him, that I asked uncertainly where he came from.
O’Malley may not bring about change on some of the typical social issues that the contemporary media focus heavily on but he would bring about a major change in the way the Vatican is run. I wouldn’t doubt that O’Malley, if he becomes pope, would jokingly try to sell St. Peter’s Basilica to raise money to help the poor and hungry. With his solid blend of social justice work, advocacy for immigrants, and defense of the unborn, O'Malley does a pretty good job of bridging the divide between the various factions in the Church
O’Malley is pastoral and would be a pope of the people in the way Pope John Paul II was but with more administrative chops. O’Malley can manage large bureaucracies that are in shambles like the Vatican is now but he can give one heck of a homily, too. O’Malley may not have the deep theological scholarship background like Benedict XVI but that isn’t one the Church needs right now and it isn’t what the Church need for the last decade either.
My fellow practicing Catholics, the Church is in disarray and right now it needs somebody to go to Rome, bang some heads and clean house.
O’Malley is just the guy to do that.
There are plenty of great arguments in favor of the Modern Lover’s Roadrunner being enshrined as the official rock song of Massachusetts but what about those who, for some inexplicable reason, don’t like it and want to make Dream On by Aerosmith the state song?
State Rep. Josh Cutler, a backer of legislation to make Dream On the official state rock song, told the State House News Service that it should be considered because it’s a “classic ballad about holding on to your dreams and seizing opportunity.” State Rep. James Cantwell, another support of the legislation, said that Aerosmith’s stature as “the best-selling American rock band of all time” and their close association with the Bay State are why Dream On should beat out Roarunner.
Cutler is right that the Aerosmith ballad is a classic tune but it has nothing to do with Massachusetts. Cantwell is just wrong when he says they’re the best-selling American rock band of all time as The Eagles took that title many eons ago. Yes, Aerosmith is “from here” but there are many better and more influential bands that are “from here” like The J. Geils Band, The Lemonheads, The Pixies, Passion Pit, Dinosaur Jr. and The Cars just to name a few. Oh, and we can’t forget that pesky group of guitar nerds from Cape Cod named Boston.
The legislators don’t really have much of a leg to stand on in this argument so what about some of our local media figures?
Fox 25’s morning man-on-the-street guy VB trashed Roadrunner during an interview with Braden from WZLX’s morning show Karlson & McKenzie last Thursday outside their Beacon Hill studios.
During the interview Braden sounded like he wasn’t really sure why he was supporting Aerosmith’s Dream On as the official state song but VB jumped in to help him.
“Roadrunner sucks! It’s the kind of song you hear at a coffee shop,” said VB.
On another occasion VB called it, "Horrendous" and said the Modern Lovers are "terrible."
Ah, so thoughtful. I can’t remember the last time I heard a punk song at a coffee shop but whatever you say, VB!
While Braden weakly defended Roadrunner even though he was there to support Dream On VB suggested Shipping Up To Boston by The Dropkick Murphy’s and Smokin by Boston in addition to Dream On. The problem with Shipping Up To Boston is it is about Boston (and pirates or something) not the entire state. Smokin fails to mention Massachusetts and is about dancing and smoking, presumably pot.
The negative reaction by some to Roadrunner’s front-runner status as official state rock song was inevitable. If you’re not familiar with the history of rock music in the Bay State or the early days of punk rock it’s safe to assume you may have overlooked the genius of Jonathan Richman. So, of course, some have turned to Dream On by Aerosmith as the official state song because they’ve heard it a bazillion times on our all but dead terrestrial radio rock stations even though it has nothing to do with Massachusetts.
There is, perhaps, no song that describes traveling around the frustrating highways of Massachusetts in such a fun and uplifting way as Roadrunner. In the many different version of Roadrunner , Richman takes listeners for a trip around Route 128 and the MassPike while blasting the radio in his car. He’s having fun talking about how he is full of life and “in love with the modern world” as he drives by Massachusetts landmarks. According to The Guardian’s Laura Barton, an unofficial Roadrunner expert, Richman talks about
Over the course of the various recordings he refers to the Turnpike, the Industrial Park, the Howard Johnson, the North Shore, the South Shore, the Mass Pike, Interstate 90, Route 3, the Prudential Tower, Quincy, Deer Island, Boston harbour, Amherst, South Greenfield, the "college out there that rises up outta nuthin", Needham, Ashland, Palmerston, Lake Champlain, Route 495, the Sheraton Tower, Route 9, and the Stop & Shop.
Good luck finding a rock song that touches on that much Massachusetts in a positive, fun, and enjoyable way. The Dropkick Murphys could make a case with their song
The State of Massachusetts but I doubt it would go very far with its focus on broken families, family court, and the Department of Social Services.
Aerosmith made great records, as did Boston and The Dropkick Murphys, but they did not produce a song about Massachusetts like Roadrunner. We don’t need a state rock song that is some throwaway top 40 hit that blends in with all the other classic rock hits.