The soldier's girlfriend, who was weeping quietly in the cold rain, had more sense than all her purported betters in this city.
Informed that the mayor of New York had just made a huge and bold move on the White House and asked for citizenship for her dead soldier, who was a Dominican, she said at the wake, "What good is it now? He can't use it."
He sure can't. He was Private Luis Moreno. He was 19 years old. They were loading him in his box into a hearse for the ride to a cemetery forever.
She also had a question: "Why is he dead?"
She is Jessica Corporan and she is 18 and was going to marry him when he got back from Iraq. If you are going to have your heart broken, 18 is not the easiest age to evade pain, and she showed it on Friday.
Mayor Bloomberg was proud that he sent a hand-delivered note to President Bush requesting citizenship posthumously for Private Moreno.
The idea wilted in the noisy steam coming out of the radiators in St. Francis of Assisi church on Shakespeare Avenue in the Bronx.
Along with Bloomberg's request, here was a general of the army giving a bronze star posthumously to Moreno. The general couldn't speak Spanish.
Bloomberg's request was about a 19-year-old who was shot dead in a war in Iraq that was started and continues because of George Bush and no one else. The blood of 525 Americans is on his hands.
Moreno wasn't listed as a citizen of the country, and that is his country's fault. He died for America.
He is so much more than a citizen here. He died a proud member of the aristocracy of the City of New York.
And any letter to the White House from the mayor of this city should not dwell on some cheap technicality. Bloomberg's letter should demand to know why this young man is dead in a box in a cemetery of our city. Why is this young woman in such pain on a wet Bronx street in one of the worst moments in memory?
And why was Julio Moreno in Iraq to begin with?
Bloomberg is supposed to fight for this city and instead he acts like he is afraid of Bush and these other Republicans. Simultaneously, and worse, he acts like he wants to be one of them. He crowed over bringing the Republican convention to New York. It will put people in hotel rooms, he says. Beautiful! We count money while some young guy from the Bronx gets his head blown off.
What do Bush and his people do for Bloomberg? They tell him they are going to bring him into the parlor. Then they put him outside in a crowded room and have him raise money.
And he not only brings nothing for his city, but he is afraid to complain. George Bush has a program called "Leave No Child Behind" and it stands for all of the Republicans: The program is utterly fraudulent. And of all the mayors of cities in the country complaining about schools being slashed and ruined, only Michael Bloomberg remains silent. How marvelous! He is afraid of insulting his great new friends. And what do these people in Washington and Albany give him? They bring back the great News newspaper headline, "Ford to N.Y.: Drop Dead."
It helped make Jimmy Carter the president. This time, it is George Bush telling us to drop dead, and in this case young people actually die.
Bloomberg's idea of standing up for our city's deaths is to write a letter about naturalization.
On Friday, in the deep slush in front of church in the Bronx, in so much sadness in the rain, I could hear the past that got us here, of George Bush, just before we invaded Iraq, bringing up "Dad" when he mentioned Saddam Hussein. "He tried to kill Dad, you know." He made it a personal family matter, and the Bushes clearly think they are a royal family and if you threaten one of them, then the entire country must take up arms.
And on the eve of invading Iraq, Bush made a speech that was a copy of the one made by Adolph Hitler in the hours before his army invaded Poland in September of 1939.
In a State of the Union speech, Bush said that Saddam tried to get uranium from the country of Niger and blow us away with a nuclear bomb. Afterward, the Bush people said the speech was essentially right although it had some wrong. It did. This could be put in three letters: Lie.
After that, from Washington there was one long, whining lie about weapons of mass destruction. If this Saddam had them, he would have used them in the first 20 minutes of the fighting. He had none. A man called Blix from the United Nations inspected Iraqi arms, including trucks found one week apart and empty. Nothing. Colin Powell got up at the UN and, reading whatever it was that Bush and his people gave him, he said the trucks were there on one day to carry away biological weapons before the inspectors arrived and that is why we have to bomb Baghdad.
The news reporters of the nation, the Pekingese of the Press, never questioned a single, solitary sentence of his presentation. All agreed it was a great moment for America. In doing so they stained themselves forever as cowards.
Private Luis Moreno of the Bronx died at 19 from lying that nearly everybody is afraid to refute. Bloomberg the Mayor doesn't want to open his mouth about it. Therefore the only way to take care of him is with the one picture every cameraman in the city wants:
Bloomberg at the Republican convention standing ecstatically with John Ashcroft, George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Richard Armey.
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