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Lee co-hosts caucus hearing on Iraq

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, co-chaired a Congressional Progressive Caucus hearing on Iraq today featuring testimony from William Polk, a Middle East scholar and the author of “Violent Politics: A History of Insurgency, Terrorism, & Guerilla War from the American Revolution to Iraq,” published just this week. Here’s what Lee said:

lee3.jpg“I’d like to welcome Dr. Polk to this Town Hall on Iraq this morning.

“We truly appreciate your time and effort to join us here today to talk about the issues discussed in your new book, Violent Politics: A History of Insurgency, terrorism, guerrilla war, from the American Revolution to Iraq.

“Your presentation is very timely as the occupation of Iraq approaches its fifth year and this administration continues to deny the reality that the situation on the ground will not improve until the occupation ends and US troops come home.

“But the fact is, all the talk about military progress in Iraq—especially in the wake of the president’s address last week–only serves as a distraction—a smokescreen—from the basic, fundamental fact that there is no military solution to the situation in Iraq.

“Our troops are trapped in a civil war and occupation, a situation where there can be no victory. Our continued presence there is not only breaking our military, it is undermining our national security and efforts to fight international terrorism.

“Despite the Bush administration’s efforts to frame it as a issue of ‘victory’ and ‘defeat,’ the fact remains that the redeployment of US troops form Iraq a precondition to restoring our national security, our efforts to fight international terrorism, and putting us on a path toward a foreign policy that provides real solution for global peace and security.

“Redeployment is a precondition for engaging Iraq’s neighbors and the international community in a regional stability plan. We have a moral obligation to help rebuild Iraq, but neither Iraq’s neighbors nor the international community will truly engage in a regional stability plan as long as they believe that the US intends to maintain an indefinite occupation.

“Redeployment is a precondition for any successful effort to combat global terrorism. The U.S. occupation of Iraq has become a rallying point for the insurgents in Iraq and greatly aids in their recruiting and fundraising.

“That’s why I believe that your testimony today comes at a critical juncture in the debate before us in Congress on how to end our occupation of Iraq and bring peace and stability to Iraq.

“It’s in understanding the nature of such insurgencies as the one our brave men and women are facing daily that will allow Congress to see that the only solution to the situation in Iraq is what my colleagues Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey and Congresswoman Maxine Waters call fully funded redeployment.

“Specifically, we believe that Congress should only provide the money necessary to fully fund the safe, timely and responsible redeployment of troops and contractors from Iraq.

“I look forward to hearing from you your well considered opinion on the nature of the insurgency in Iraq, how our presence there fuels the very insurgency our courageous troops are seeking to defeat, and how the perception that we are going remain in Iraq indefinitely provides a powerful recruiting tool and fundraising opportunity.

“Thank you again for being with us here today.”

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DeSaulnier appointed to healthcare task force

Assemblyman Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, and Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Hayward, have been assigned to an Assembly task force charged with hashing out a health care reform bill.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called the Legislature into a special session this month to tackle unresolved healthcare and water bills.

Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez named DeSaulnier and Hayashi to the Assembly Healthcare Reform Working Group, which started meeting this week.

The working group will attempt to draft a healthcare proposal acceptable to Republicans, Democrats and the governor who have split on how to pay for coverage and reduce insurance costs.

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Schwarzenegger video of the week

I thought I had exhausted the supply of Japanese commercials; I’m very pleased to find that I was wrong.

Previous SVOTWs: September 11, September 4, August 28, 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.

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Think they’re all crooked?

Then go do something about it. The City of Oakland Public Ethics Commission has two vacancies and is accepting applications, terms to begin in January and end in 2011.

The commission meets monthly, with one or more additional committee meetings per month, to oversee compliance with the Oakland’s Campaign Reform Act, Sunshine Ordinance, Limited Public Financing Act, Code of Conduct for City Officials, Conflict of Interest regulations, Lobbyist Registration Act, and False Endorsement In Campaign Literature Act. It also reviews ethics laws and recommends amendments to the City Council; develops informational, training, and public outreach programs concerning the Commission’s activities; and annually adjusts City Council’s salaries.

And isn’t that last one worthwhile all by itself?

To qualify, you must be a resident and registered voter of Oakland, and during your term and for one year after you can’t be employed by the city or have any direct and substantial financial interest in any work or business or official action by the City; seek election to any other public office; participate in or contribute to an Oakland municipal campaign; or endorse, support, oppose, or work on behalf of any candidate or measure in an Oakland election.

The seven-member commission includes three nominated for appointment by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council, and four selected by the Commission as a whole. Commissioners aren’t paid and can’t serve more than one consecutive three-year term.

Click here for the application, and mail the completed form plus your resume to:

City Of Oakland, Public Ethics Commission
One Frank Ogawa Plaza, Fourth Floor
Oakland, CA 94612

Or, fax the application and resume to 510-238-3315 or e-mail them to ethicscommission@oaklandnet.com. The deadline is 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 26.

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Rallies for same-sex marriage tomorrow

Activists and advocates across the state organized by Marriage Equality USA, Equality California and other groups are planning rallies for tomorrow to urge Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign Assemblyman Mark Leno‘s AB 43 and legalize same-sex civil marriage in California. The Assembly passed it June 5 on a 42-34 vote and the state Senate passed it Sept. 7 on a 22-15 vote, but the governor has vowed to veto it again, just as he did in 2005.

In the greater Bay Area, rallies are set for:

  • Oakland — 5:30-7:30 p.m. in Frank Ogawa Plaza, at 14th Street and Broadway
  • San Francisco — 5:30 p.m. at the LGBT Community Center, 1800 Market St., for a news conference with Leno followed by a march to Harvey Milk Plaza at Castro and Market streets
  • San Jose — 6 p.m. at the Billy DeFrank LGBT Community Center, 938 The Alameda
  • Stockton — 5:30 p.m. at the San Joaquin Pride Center, 4410 N. Pershing Ave., Suite C-22
  • San Rafael — 4-7 p.m. at Third and Irwin streets
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    Bad news for Tauscher’s ‘dwell time’ bill

    Defense Secretary Robert Gates said today he would recommend a veto of a Senate proposal that would give troops more rest between deployments in Iraq, branding it a dangerous “backdoor way” to draw down forces, the Washington Post reports:

    gates-ap-photo-haraz-ghanbari.jpgWith the Senate expected to resume debate this week on anti-war legislation, Gates sharpened his criticism of Webb’s proposal. It would require troops get as much time at their home station as their deployments to the war front.

    Gates was asked in broadcast interviews about recommending a veto to Bush should the proposal pass. “Yes I would,” the Pentagon chief said.

    “If it were enacted, we would have force management problems that would be extremely difficult and, in fact, affect combat effectiveness and perhaps pose greater risk to our troops,” he said.

    Gates was talking about the amendment proposed by U.S. Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., which was duplicated in companion bill H.R.3159 by Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo; it would require 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.

    The House passed Tauscher’s bill Aug. 2 on a 229-194 vote, but the issue has been stalled out since then in the Senate Armed Services Committee. And with Gates publicly reiterating the Administration’s disdain for the idea on the Sunday-morning talk shows, it appears to have a dicey future at best. The WaPo story notes the Webb amendment — and, one must assume by extension, Tauscher’s companion bill — has 57 votes: three short of what it would need to overcome a Republican filibuster, and 10 short of what it would need to override the president’s veto.