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.”


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…


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.


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… Continue Reading


Schwarzenegger video of the week

This week, and purely for the fun of it, our governor’s guest appearance in AC/DC‘s video for “Big Gun,” from the soundtrack of the 1993 Schwarzenegger action film, “The Last Action Hero.” The real fun starts about two minutes in, as Arnold does his impression of famed guitarist Angus Young

Previous SVOTWs: August 21, August 7, July 31, July 24, July 17, July 10, July 3, June 26, June 19, June 12, June 5, May 29, May 22, May 15, May 8, May 1, April 24, April 17, April 10, April 3, March 27, March 20, March 13, March 6, February 27, February 20, February 13, February 6, January 30.


Anti-war vigils set for Tuesday night

Americans Against Escalation in Iraq and MoveOn.org are organizing “Take a Stand Day” vigils across the country tomorrow evening to urge Congress to take a stand against the war in Iraq. In the Bay Area, vigils are scheduled for sites including:

  • 12 p.m. noon outside the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Office Building at 1301 Clay St. in Oakland;
  • 5:30 p.m. at the California Street cable-car turnaround at Market & Drumm streets in San Francisco, co-hosted by members of the Working Assets Politics team;
  • 6:30 p.m. near the San Leandro BART station, at Davis Street and San Leandro Blvd.;
  • 7 p.m. in Splash Pad Park, across from the Grand Lake Theater, at Grand and Lake Park avenues in Oakland;
  • 7 p.m. in the small park on Prince Street between Regent and Dana streets in Berkeley;
  • 7 p.m. on the northwest corner of Shattuck Avenue and Cedar Street in Berkeley;
  • 7 p.m. in All Saints Catholic Church, 22824 Second St. at D Street in Hayward;
  • 7 p.m. at the intersection of Smith Street, Dyer Street and Alvarado-Niles Road in Union City; and
  • 7 p.m. at Fourth Avenue and El Camino Real in San Mateo.