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Speier claims 30% margin over Lantos

From TPM Election Central:

Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA) might be on the verge of facing a really tough primary challenge. Former state Sen. Jackie Speier claims she has an internal poll that shows her beating Lantos in the primary by a 57%-27% margin. Speier has some name recognition built up after she ran for Lt. Governor in 2006, narrowly losing the Democratic primary, but she has not yet officially announced a campaign against Lantos.

Speier’s pollster also told Roll Call that her poll did not include any push questions, but simply asked, “Who would you most likely support in the Democratic party primary for United States Congress, if the choice was…” and then the two candidates’ names given in rotation.

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Today’s Congressional odds and ends

Oil-spill hearing scheduled for Monday: The House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Martime Transportation will hold a field hearing on the big spill’s causes and response at 10 a.m. Monday, Nov. 19 in the Golden Gate Club, 135 Fisher Loop in San Francisco’s Presidio. The offices of committee member Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, and Rep. Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo, says they’ll be there, other attendees TBA.

mcnerneyportrait.jpgMcNerney still pushing PTSD clinic for Livermore: Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, wrote a letter today to Gordon Mansfield, the Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs, citing a newly released study about the incidence of mental distress in Iraq veterans and touting the Livermore VA Medical Center as the ideal setting to treat post traumatic stress disorder. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, finds Iraq veterans with substantially greater percentages of mental distress several months after returning from deployment than immediately upon returning home; it also finds greater levels of mental distress among National Guard members and Army Reservists than among active duty soldiers. McNerney had been pushing former VA Secretary James Nicholson to put a PTSD treatment center at Livermore — a facility in danger of being shut down entirely — right up until the day Nicholson quit.

The next out-of-Iraq vote: The House at this hour is debating a resolution which would provide for consideration of HR 4156, the Orderly and Responsible Iraq Redeployment Appropriations Act. Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairwomen Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, sent the following note to about 100,000 Progressive Democrats of America members today:

lee3.jpgAs many of you know, today the House is set to bring up H.R. 4156, the Orderly and Responsible Iraq Redeployment Appropriations Act. While this bill is not perfect, it is the strongest Iraq bill to date, and there’s no way that we would’ve reached this point if it wasn’t for the work of Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), and all of you. The work that you all have done, and the leadership that PDA has shown in delivering tens of thousands of signatures as part of its Peace Pledge have helped move the ball forward.

We know that most of you are disappointed that the end date of having our troops out by December 2008 included in the bill is a goal and not a requirement. So are we.

woolsey.jpgBut let’s be clear about what this bill accomplishes–this is the first time that this Congress has put forth a bill that ties funding to the responsible redeployment of our troops, and it also includes language mandating a start date for the President to begin the redeployment of our brave men and women. The bill also incorporates the principles put forth in H.R. 508, and provides for a regional stability plan which includes diplomatic, political, and economic strategies.

And most importantly, this is a concrete step in the right direction, and an important marker for this Congress to lay down.

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GOP uses Kucinich’s impeachment bill as a WMD

Oy, what a headache!

As I reported Monday, Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, used personal privilege today to force his bill to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney to the House floor, despite House Democratic leaders’ wishes that it die a quiet death in committee.

As expected, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., moved to table the legislation without debate. As expected, co-sponsors Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, voted against tabling it, as did Pete Stark, D-Fremont, and Mike Honda, D-San Jose.

George Miller, D-Martinez; Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo; Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo; Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton; Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; and Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, all sided with Hoyer, and by extension, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, who long ago said impeachment is off the table.

But, sensing an opportunity to embarass Pelosi and Hoyer, scores of Republicans suddenly voted against tabling the measure — twice as many as the Democrats actually supporting Kucinich’s stance — in an attempt to force a floor debate on impeaching Cheney! Eager to avoid that, Hoyer then moved to refer the bill to the House Judiciary Committee; that vote passed 218-194, with ALL Bay Area Democrats in favor. Oh, to be a fly on the wall of the next Democratic caucus meeting…

The bill Kucinich brought forth today was basically the same as that which he’d introduced back in April, charging that Cheney lied to America about reasons for invading Iraq and now is doing the same with Iran. But because House Democrats couldn’t see eye to eye today, the bill brought them far more grief than it’ll ever bring Cheney.

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Rice accosted at Lantos’ committee hearing

A CodePink protestor rushed at Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice this morning as she arrived to testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on U.S. policy in the Middle East; note how chairman Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo, went to grab the protestor, Desiree Anita Ali-Fairooz, even as Rice’s bodyguards hurried forward to grab the woman and drag her out.

Lantos ordered the other CodePink protestors tossed from the room too; Capitol Police say three people were arrested.

ap-photo-charles-dharapak.jpg

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OK, enough on the freakin’ MoveOn ad, already!

Jeez, y’all, it’s not like there’s a WAR going on or anything…

Yes, the House on Wednesday resolved to praise the patriotism Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, and to condemn MoveOn.org’s full-page ad in the New York Times this month referring to Petraeus as “General Betray Us.”

House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, quickly fired off an e-mail accusing 11 Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Committee — including chairman Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo, of “flip-flopping” (man, is that phrase NEVER going to fade away?) on the resolution, having voted against it in committee shortly before voting for it on the House floor.

But that doesn’t quite pass the smell test. Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., had raised the Petraeus/MoveOn issue during a committee discussion on a bill about raising penalties against people who aid terrorism, the International Emergency Economic Powers Enhancement Act; the committee voted 23-13 that under House rules, the Pence amendment simply had nothing to do with the bill at hand. On the House floor a short while later, the Petraeus/MoveOn resolution was attached to a continuing appropriations bill — something entirely different.

Boehner also took a moment to potshot “those 79 Democrats who voted to condone the tactics of the radical, left-wing organization” in the floor vote — including Barbara Lee, Pete Stark, George Miller, Zoe Lofgren, Lynn Woolsey and Mike Honda. And later Wednesday, MoveOn apparently sent this message to its members in districts of House members who voted for the resolution:

They didn’t condemn Vice President Cheney when he falsely connected Al Qaeda to Saddam Hussein.
They didn’t condemn Colin Powell when he lied about WMD to the United Nations.
They didn’t condemn President Bush when he started eavesdropping on American citizens without a warrant.
They didn’t condemn President Bush and the Republicans when they attacked Sen. John Kerry’s war record.
They didn’t condemn Sen. Saxby Chambliss when he ran ads comparing triple-amputee and war hero Max Cleland to Osama bin Laden.
They still haven’t done enough to slow this dreadful war or protect our troops.
But a few hours ago, your representative voted in the House to join the Senate in condemning a MoveOn.org newspaper ad.
Enough. Can you call Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher—tell her to stop voting on useless resolutions and force an end to the war?

I agree. It’s enough — from ALL of ’em. Enough about the ad.

Did anything else important happen Wednesday during all this back and forth on what is clearly First Amendment-protected speech? Well, let’s see – the Senate said it’s a good idea to split Iraq into three parts; the Bush Administration asked Congress to approve another $42.3 billion for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, bringing its total 2008 war funding request to nearly $190 billion; the Blackwater scandal continued to deepen; and the Senate said Iran’s largest military branch should henceforth be deemed a terrorist organization, a move some decry as a step toward our next war.

So, no, nothing important. Let’s talk about the ad some more.