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Fox/CBC Institute Dems debate on hold

The controversial Democratic presidential debate sponsored by Fox News and the Congressional Black Caucus Political Education & Leadership Institute and scheduled for Sept. 23 in Detroit has been indefinitely postponed.

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, first vice chairwoman of the caucus, does not serve on the CBC Institute’s board, and this morning commented: “I am not surprised, given Fox News’ long track record of being anything but ‘fair and balanced.’ ”

The leading Democratic candidates – Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama — had refused to take part in the event as many Democrats, especially in the blogosphere, objected to Fox News’ apparent Republican bias.

Announcing the postponement, CBC Institute Board Chairman U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said, “The overwhelming number of party presidential debates has created a scheduling challenge. Revising the CBC Institute’s debate schedule will allow the time necessary to complete all debate logistics in an effective manner.” And FOX News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes added, “We look forward to working with the CBC Institute and continuing a successful relationship that affords presidential candidates the ability to reach the largest possible audience in cable news.”

But bloggers are claiming victory.

Steve Benen @ Crooks and Liars: “The netroots worked very hard on this, and deserve a lot of credit for the outcome.”

Justin Krebs @ the Working Assets blog: “This is a great victory for progressives and anyone who has a stake in preserving fair news coverage in our country. Since the debate was announced, liberal bloggers have attacked it, saying that it legitimized a media organization that is so obviously a right-wing propaganda machine.”

Chris Bowers @ Open Left: “Fox News thinks they are just canceling this debate, but will still try to host a Democratic debate at some point later in the cycle. Of course, given that Obama has already sworn off accepting any new debate invitations, and since neither Edwards nor Clinton will debate on Fox if Obama won’t for fear of progressive activist backlash, it can safely be said that Fox News will not be hosting a Democratic debate this primary season. It is a small victory, but still–Huzzah!”

In 2003, major Democratic candidates took part in a Detroit debate sponsored by Fox News and the CBC Institute. The CBC Institute still has three other presidential debates planned: two with CNN and one for Republican candidates with Fox News.

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Tauscher off to Iraq, again

Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, left today for another trip to Iraq as the leader of a bipartisan congressional delegation and the chairwoman of the House Strategic Forces sub-committee of the Armed Services Committee.

She is joined by reps. Jim Moran, D-Virginia and Jon Porter, R-Nevada.

The delegation will meet with U.S troops and commanders, U.S. and Iraqi officials and members of the Iraqi Parliament.

Prior to her departure, Tauscher issued the following statement in a press release:

“In less than a month General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker will report to Congress on what if any progress has been made by the Bush administration’s troop surge policy. I am traveling to Iraq ahead of this report so that my colleagues and I can get a first-hand view of our troop status as well as the political environment in Iraq.

“Anyone familiar with the bravery and efficiency of the United States military could predict that a surge of twenty thousand troops would increase security for a period of time; a military strategy alone isn’t a wise or sustainable policy.

“I’m going to Iraq to look for any signs of a political surge – signs that the Iraqi Parliament and military are ready to take control of their own future. Only when we see these signs can we be fully confident that any real and lasting progress has been made toward stabilizing Iraq.”

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Tauscher leads co-del to Iraq

Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, chairwoman of the House Armed Forces Strategic Forces Subcommittee, departed today for Iraq as the head of a bipartisan congressional delegation which will meet with U.S troops and commanders, U.S. and Iraqi officials, and members of the Iraqi Parliament. Before taking off, she issued this statement:

tauscher2.jpg“In less than a month General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker will report to Congress on what if any progress has been made by the Bush administration’s troop surge policy. I am traveling to Iraq ahead of this report so that my colleagues and I can get a first-hand view of our troop status as well as the political environment in Iraq. Anyone familiar with the bravery and efficiency of the United States military could predict that a surge of twenty thousand troops would increase security for a period of time; a military strategy alone isn’t a wise or sustainable policy. I’m going to Iraq to look for any signs of a political surge — signs that the Iraqi Parliament and military are ready to take control of their own future. Only when we see these signs can we be fully confident that any real and lasting progress has been made toward stabilizing Iraq.”

Tauscher is being accompanied on the trip by Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., who serves on the Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, and Rep. Jon Porter, R-Nev., who serves on the Ways and Means and Budget committees.

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19 people to seek Concord appointment

Nineteen people will compete for an appointment to a vacancy on the Concord City Council including Vikki Chavez, the widow of Councilman Michael Chavez.

Michael Chavez died unexpected on Aug. 4 of a heart attack, leaving an opening on the council after serving just seven months of his first term in office.

The applicant list also includes three City Council candidates who came up short in the 2006 election — Chuck Carpenter, Ron Leone and Harmon West.

Concord Planning Commissioner Guy Bjerke has put his name up for consideration along with a Ursula Luna-Reynosa, a member of the city’s advisory committee for the Concord Naval Weapons Station planning process.

The others who have put in their names are apparently political unknowns who have little or no experience in Concord politics:
Edi Birsan
Keith Brown
Robert Bruce
David Current
Robert Hoag
David Kahler
Robert Kosloff
Roy Larkin
Michael Pelosi
William Seaver
Chris Tang
Susan Walls
La Shawn Wells

The big question is which of these candidates can get three votes from the four sitting councilmembers?

And perhaps the bigger question is, how many rounds of votes is going to take to narrow the field to to one?

With 19 people to interview, this is going to take a while.

The interviews are set for Monday at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall, 1950 Parkside Drive in Concord. Come early for a seat. It looks like the place is going to be really crowded.

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DiFi calls for al-Maliki to resign

Answering a question at a press conference today at a Northrop Grumman plant in Palmdale, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., called for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to resign as head of the Iraqi government.

“My own view is that he should resign. The problem is who would replace him, what does that mean, and what are the implications?
“I think Maliki has been a failure. Parliament doesn’t show up for work. The ministers walk out. And he can’t meet the benchmarks he set for himself. There are Shia against Shia, and Shia against Sunni.
“Iraq has become very destabilized and the leadership is not adequate. So, my view is that he should resign.”

Feinstein’s statement comes the same day that a new, unclassified summary of a National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq notes “measurable but uneven improvements” regarding the security situation in Iraq, but questions al-Maliki’s ability to effect political reconciliation and unify Iraq.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, issued this statement:

“In today’s National Intelligence Estimate, the American people were presented with yet more evidence that the Iraqi government has failed to take the necessary steps to reach political reconciliation. Our military has performed their duties excellently, but the purpose of the escalation in Iraq was to create a secure environment in which political change could occur, and it is clear that the Iraqi leaders have failed to make progress.

“We need a New Direction to bring our troops home from Iraq so that America can refocus its efforts against terrorism worldwide.”

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Pelosi protesters plan civil disobedience in SF

Anti-war hunger strikers who’ve been fasting since Aug. 12 outside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi‘s San Francisco office and home say they intend to risk arrest at 1 p.m. Thursday by staging a “symbolic shutdown of the federal building” at 450 Golden Gate Ave.

The fasting activists presented a letter to the Speaker asking for a meeting; the letter reportedly was signed by 30 prominent peace and justice groups including Iraq Veterans Against the War, the San Francisco Labor Council, Jewish Voice for Peace, American Muslim Voice and MoveOn. A news release issued this evening by CODEPINK says Pelosi District Director Dan Bernal informed them “that the Speaker does not have time to meet with them or any of the peace groups in her diestrict anytime during the August recess,” hence their impending sit-in.

CODEPINK fasters and activists also had staked out the home and office of U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., but DiFi met with them Tuesday and so they agreed to decamp.

“The Speaker has plenty of time for fundraisers and luncheons with donors. She even made a surprise appearance at a Democrats and Donuts coffee klatch gathering in Ahwatukee, Arizona, and the organizers gushed about how much time Pelosi gave them,” says CODEPINK founder Medea Benjamin. “It’s outrageous that she has time for everyone but her constituents who want to talk about the most pressing issue facing this nation.”

UPDATE @ 3:35 P.M. THURSDAY 8/23: Five CODEPINK hunger strikers and peace activists were arrested this afternoon — Toby Blome, Jody Paulson, Pamela Stephens, Nancy Mancias and Pamela Bennett — under Code of Federal Regulations 102-74.385, failing to comply with official signs or a federal police officer’s lawful directions. One activist, Rae Abileah, claims to have been injured after a federal police agent allegedly pushed a door into Abileah’s body.