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Archive for August, 2007

Tauscher: I’ve been ‘slimed’

The Washington Post reports that when Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, visited Iraq last weekend, she found Green Zone personnel had been prepped for her arrival with the distribution of a brief bio noting her statements against the war:

(Click to enlarge.)

It’s not entirely accurate.

The bio says Tauscher’s latest vote on Iraq was in favor of legislation requiring troop withdrawal to start within 120 days of the bill’s enactment. She did vote for that bill in July, but she also she voted this month for her own bill requiring that any regular Armed Forces member or unit deployed to Iraq must then have an equal period of time at home before being redeployed, and that no unit or member of a Reserve component including the National Guard be redeployed to Iraq within three years of their previous deployment.

But knowing that, of course, might’ve endeared Tauscher to some of the troops clutching those bios as she visited, she noted to the Post. “This is beyond parsing. This is being slimed in the Green Zone.”

Posted on Friday, August 31st, 2007
Under: Ellen Tauscher, General, Iraq, U.S. House | No Comments »

Chi-town beats Oak-town for Green gathering

Chicago has beaten out Oakland, Minneapolis and Detroit to host the 2008 convention of the Green Party of the United States.

The Green Party of Alameda County had put together a detailed proposal to host the convention either at the Marriott/Oakland Convention Center in downtown Oakland, or at Berkeley Community Theater. But Chicago’s proposal won out as delegates from state Green Parties and caucuses in the party’s National Committee completed their vote Wednesday, and so the Windy City will host the gathering next July 10-13.

“We were quite impressed with the presentations from all four cities, and we know Greens faced a hard choice,” said Ruth Weill, co-chair of the Green Party’s Annual National Meeting Committee. “We thank all of them and congratulate Chicago, and we look forward to seeing everyone — and the media too — in Chicago next summer.”

At least two California Greens have declared intent to run for president next year: Kent Mesplay, a San Diego air quality inspector who ran in the 2004 Green presidential primary and the 2006 Green U.S. Senate primary; and Paul Kangas, a San Francisco man who apparently believes that fasting can cure cancer and that George H.W. Bush assassinated President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

Posted on Friday, August 31st, 2007
Under: Green Party, Oakland | No Comments »

Listen to Larry Craig’s interrogation

Here’s the audio — via WCCO, the CBS affiliate in Minneapolis-St. Paul — of U.S. Sen. Larry Craig‘s police interrogation following his arrest in June at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport; he pleaded guilty this month to disorderly conduct, but now says he regrets the plea and in fact did nothing wrong.

OK, a few things:

  • Who sees a random piece of toilet paper on the airport bathroom floor and decides to pick it up?
  • The Idaho Statesman notes a contradiction in Craig’s story. Craig revisited the Minneapolis airport 11 days after his arrest to complain about how he had been treated by police, and said he wanted information so his lawyer could speak to someone, according to a police report. But Craig said Monday that he did not seek legal counsel before deciding to plead guilty.
  • CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin notes that Craig now says he pleaded guilty under oath to a crime he didn’t commit, and that’s perjury — a crime more serious than that to which he pleaded guilty.
  • And isn’t it sad that in the United States of America circa 2007, an elected national lawmaker — even a Republican from Idaho — figures it’s better to be seen by the American public as a liar than as gay.
  • Posted on Thursday, August 30th, 2007
    Under: General, U.S. Senate | 1 Comment »

    Concord councilman’s widow will seek seat

    Vikki Chavez, the widow of the late Concord Councilman Michael Chavez, has re-entered the competition to replace her husband on the City Council.

    Chavez had withdrawn her name and did not participate in Monday night’s public forum where the City Council questioned the applicants. Nineteen people signed up but only 17 participated after Chavez and another prospective councilmember dropped out.

    In Chavez’ letter to the city in which she asked to be reconsidered, she said she did not attend Monday night because it was her late husband’s birthday. Michael Chavez died suddenly on Aug. 4 of a heart attack.

    It’s unclear whether the City Council will permit Chavez to re-enter the field when they meet Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. to select a replacement. (Click here to see the City Council agenda.) She didn’t participate in the council’s public forum and permitting her change her mind after the fact could open the council to charges of unfairness.

    But at least one advocate for open space within the future use of the Concord Naval Weapons Station clearly prefers Chavez.

    “We would definitely be interested if Vikki came back in,” said Kathy Gleason. “We were so happy to have Michael, a real person, one of us, on the council.”

    Posted on Thursday, August 30th, 2007
    Under: Contra Costa politics | No Comments »

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    Posted on Thursday, August 30th, 2007
    Under: General | No Comments »

    GAO report paints grim Iraq picture

    House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo, told me yesterday that he believes the forthcoming Government Accountability Office report on political and military progress in Iraq will be “scathing.” Sure enough, the Washington Post reports today that the “strikingly negative” GAO draft — which will be sent in its final form to Congress next week for a hearing by Lantos’ committee — finds “Iraq has failed to meet all but three of 18 congressionally mandated benchmarks for political and military progress.”

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, today notes President Bush “is demanding tens of billions more dollars for the war in Iraq despite non-partisan conclusions, such as the draft GAO report and the recent National Intelligence Estimate, that the Iraqi government has failed to achieve required reforms.

    pelosi12-14-06.jpg“As in the past, President Bush stubbornly refuses to acknowledge the facts on the ground about the sectarian civil war in Iraq or the growing bipartisan opposition to his failed policies,” she said. “He insists that our soldiers sacrifice even more, and taxpayers spend billions more dollars for an Iraqi government incapable or unwilling to institute reforms required by the President himself.

    “With the President continuing to stay the course in Iraq, Republicans will have to decide whether they will continue to vote with him or join Democrats and the vast majority of Americans who are demanding a new direction in Iraq and refocusing America’s efforts on fighting the real threats of terrorism around the world.”

    BTW, I asked Lantos yesterday what he would say to the 80 or so protestors who took part in an antiwar vigil Tuesday night outside his district office at Fourth Street and El Camino Real in San Mateo, one of many of such vigils held across the nation that night, organized by and Americans Against Escalation in Iraq.

    lantos.jpg“This is not an unfriendly presence, they are welcome, but I think it’s important for them to understand that members of Congress operate within the reality of the American government’s framework,” he replied.

    “Both Nancy (Pelosi) and I have basically supported the same general direction that they are asking for, namely a de-escalation in contrast to the administration’s policy of escalation,” Lantos said. “But the last piece of legislation on this subject that the Democratic leadership sent to the White House was vetoed by the president, and he has a sufficient number of Republicans to sustain his veto.”

    Given that, the only options are either to win over enough votes to override the veto or to replace the President, he said, “but camping in front of Nancy Pelosi’s house will not bring about a U.S. policy change” — a dig at the CodePink protesters who staked out Pelosi’s San Francisco home and district office in recent weeks.

    Posted on Thursday, August 30th, 2007
    Under: Iraq, Nancy Pelosi, President Bush, Tom Lantos, U.S. House | No Comments »

    Lee schools Limbaugh on Darfur

    Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, has some tough talk for syndicated talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh, who last week claimed Democrats “want to get us out of Iraq, but they can’t wait to get us into Darfur… There are two reasons. What color is the skin of the people in Darfur? It’s black. And who do the Democrats really need to keep voting for them? If they lose a significant percentage of this voting bloc, they’re in trouble.” A caller responded, “The black population,” to which Limbaugh said, “Right.”

    Listen to the audio here.

    Lee responds:

    lee3.jpg“Ordinarily I wouldn’t dignify something Rush Limbaugh said with a response, but it’s important to set some facts straight. At a time when Republicans and Democrats disagree on a wide range of issues, one area where there is strong bipartisan agreement is on ending the genocide taking place in Darfur. Just to give you an example, Senator [Sam] Brownback [R-KS] came over to the House to testify in favor of my Darfur divestment legislation! That legislation was passed by the House by a vote of 418-1! The fact that Rush Limbaugh not only doesn’t know what he is talking about, but is content to substitute racist political rhetoric for the facts just underscores what a destructive and polarizing influence he is on our political discourse.”

    Posted on Wednesday, August 29th, 2007
    Under: Barbara Lee, Media, U.S. House | No Comments »

    Rudy rolls out California business team

    Rudy Giuliani rolled out his “California Business Leaders for Rudy” team today to “spread Rudy’s commitment to fiscal discipline, ending wasteful government spending and cutting taxes.”

    The chairwoman is Kim Quinones, a vice president of Ramirez and Company in Pacific Palisades. The members are:

    Susan Allen, Owner, Bayside Communications, Capitola
    Pam Corradi, Owner, Corradi Arms, Inc., Burbank
    James Crean, Vice President, Deep Gold Exploration, Inc., Rancho Palos Verdes
    Jack Davis, Owner, Jeda Generation Auto Upholstery, San Jose
    Joe Destein, Self-Employed Developer, Novato
    Howard Epstein, Investor, San Francisco
    Don Genhart, Owner, Don’s Pet Service, Palm Desert
    Susan Gibbs, Membership Director, CICC Wellness Center, Colusa
    Mike Harris, Vice President, Cross Creek, Petaluma
    Ted Jackson, self-employed consultant, Sacramento
    John Karczynski, Mortgage Broker, Washington Mutual S&L, Anaheim
    Andrew Kline, Partner, Park Lane, Los Angeles
    Eric Linder, Account Executive, USA National Title, Corona
    Vic Marani, Self-Employed Consultant, Rio Del Mar
    Teresa Merkle, Co-Owner, Paradigm Shift World Wide, Northridge
    Wendy Moodie, Co-Owner, Paradigm Shift World Wide, Northridge
    Debi Schultz, Self-Employed Event Planner, Simi Valley
    Stuart Weil, Owner, Blue Lobster Farms, Madera

    Note: Only two — Epstein and Davis — are from the Bay Area. Epstein also is the San Francisco Republican Party’s vice chairman for political affairs. Davis, the only Silicon Valley member, owns an auto-upholstery business and is president of the Santa Clara Valley Republican Assembly, the South Bay affiliate of the conservative grassroots California Republican Assembly.

    Not exactly a Bay Area powerhouse, here…

    Posted on Tuesday, August 28th, 2007
    Under: Elections, Rudy Giuliani | No Comments »

    Tauscher offers observations on fourth trip to Iraq

    In a lengthy phone call with Rep. Ellen Tauscher this afternoon following her White House debriefing about her fourth trip to Iraq, she once again expressed her continued dissatisfaction with the pace of political progress there.

    (Tauscher posted a very interesting web diary during her trip. Click here to read her entries.)

    “It’s very apparent that the Iraqis have woefully abused the military surge and the modicum of security that it has provided,” said Tauscher, a member of the House Armed Services Committee and chairwoman of its strategic arms sub-committee. “The military surge was promised as an opportunity for the Iraqis to have a political surge but they have not redoubled their efforts for any significant political reconciliation, which is the only way to stop the civil war.”

    Tauscher led a three-member delegation to Iraq and they spent 36 hours on the ground in Baghdad over the weekend meeting with four of the top five Iraqi government leaders, U.S. Gen. David Petraeus, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and Gen. Raymond Odierno, commander of Multi-National Corps-Iraq.

    She was joined by reps. Jim Moran, D-Va., and Jon Porter, R-Nev.

    Tauscher has stayed away from Baghdad for the past two years, convinced there was little new to see. But she decided to return in advance of Petraeus’ planned September report on the status of the military surge to Congress. In addition, a 70-page report assessing the military and political conditions in Iraq by the General Accountability Office is scheduled to be delivered to Congress next Tuesday. And a second report, by an independent commission of military experts, is being drafted.

    On the heels of these reports, Congress is expected to debate another war funding supplemental bill.

    “September is going to be the perfect storm on Iraq,” Tauscher said.

    A trip to Baghdad for a member of Congress is a hyper-security event. Tauscher wore body armor, a helmet and rode in armored vehicles, an uncomfortable experience in the 115-plus-degree heat even for trained soldiers. She slept in the military’s version of a VIP dormitory and was under guard nearly every single minute of her stay.

    In Tauscher’s web diary, she repeatedly makes the point that she will never complain about the pizza-oven heat, the heavy clothing or the tight security.

    “These brave soldiers are wearing evening gear, long sleeved uniforms AND carrying their equipment, water, and weapons,” she wrote on Saturday. “I’m leaving tomorrow night and they have weeks or months to serve and survive. God bless them all.”

    But it is a war zone and there are no guarantees of safety. The military compound where Tauscher slept came under a mortar attack at 4 a.m. Sunday. She awoke but thought the noise came from the air conditioner and fell back asleep.

    During the delegates’ whirlwind of meetings, Tauscher said she told Iraqi leaders they must do more to resolve their sectarian conflicts and reach a consensus government.

    “They responded with a litany of excuses, including the fact that it is dangerous and hard and at different moments, they blame each other,” Tauscher said. “It’s like a bad divorce with everyone pointing fingers.”

    Tauscher says she expects Petraeus to ask Congress to give the military surge more time despite evidence that the U.S. cannot physically sustain the troop levels in Iraq.

    “He will say that the military surge has had some success — he will claim more success than I think he can — and he will say that the risk of leaving is too great,” Tauscher said.

    Back in Washington, D.C., Tauscher debriefed with Gen. Douglas Lute, the White House official assigned to handle Iraq issues.

    In addition to her general observations, Tauscher said she recommended to Lute that the U.S. close down the so-called “Green Zone,” a heavily secured area of Baghdad that houses Iraq’s parliament.

    “I call it the ‘Green Zone Fog,’ a dangerous group-think area where the diplomats and the government and military officials all use the same clauses, nouns and inflections,” she said. “It’s all air conditioned, all security all the time and it’s just the wrong optic. The Iraqi parliament needs to get out of the Green Zone so their constituents can see them.”

    She also called for the U.S. to vacate Saddam Hussein’s old palaces, particularly Camp Victory where Petraeus has his headquarters.

    “Those optics are wrong, too,” she said.

    The U.S. has run out of good options in Iraq and continuing on the current path will only increase the risk to national security, Tauscher concluded.

    “Leaving Iraq is going to have significant repercussions but staying doesn’t assure that the Iraqis get their act together or that the region steps up to help stabilize Iraq,” Tauscher said.

    To that end, Tauscher sent a letter to President George Bush calling for a “Cairo Reconciliation Summit in October with the United Nations, European Union and the Arab League to provide a forum for sectarian reconciliation and confidence building measures for the Iraqi government.”

    UPDATE: ThinkProgress also did an interview with Tauscher. Click here for the link.

    Posted on Tuesday, August 28th, 2007
    Under: Congress, Iraq War | No Comments »

    Pro-Obama 527 defends itself… from Obama

    Vote Hope — the San Francisco-based Section 527 issue-advocacy group indirectly touting Barack Obama for President, despite Obama’s stated opposition to 527s and preference that people support his campaign directly — has been misunderstood, communications director Jenifer Ancona told me this morning.

    Vote Hope is still smarting from an Aug. 8 San Francisco Chronicle story which noted Obama has refused to take money from political action committees and has criticized 527s. That same day at a news conference in Oakland, Obama was asked if Vote Hope’s support constitutes hypocrisy given his stated opposition to 527s.

    obama-in-oakland-8-8-07-laura-a-oda.jpg“It would be hypocrisy if I had anything to do with them, since I just heard of them. This is not something that I authorized or had any part of,” he replied. “My recommendation to people who are interested in supporting me is to support me through our campaign — the way over 250,000 donors have supported us, the way hundreds of thousands of volunteers have supported us. Get involved in the campaign that we’ve set up, that is above board, that is transparent, that is legal. And I think if people channel their energies in that way, we’ll all be better off.”

    Ancona told me today “it’s not that we disagree with him… It’s just that there are more people out there who we can harness. I just think he doesn’t know what we’re doing… I feel like if he could see that, I don’t know how he could disagree with giving people an outlet to get involved in politics for the first time.”

    Indeed, he doesn’t disagree with involving young voters, Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt told me today — he just wants them “to participate directly with the campaign.”

    A new “Generation Obama” multi-city grassroots network — including an effort here in San Francisco — geared towards younger voters kicked off this weekend, LaBolt noted, and “Camp Obama” traning sessions — including one held Aug. 11 in San Francisco — have prepared mobilizers in 40 of California’s 53 Congressional districts to leverage their own contacts into support for the campaign. “We’re running a bottom-up campaign.”

    More after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted on Tuesday, August 28th, 2007
    Under: Barack Obama, Elections | 1 Comment »