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The ‘World’ Has Not Had Enough

No, it’s not meant as a Bond reference, but rather to mean that when a protest group outlives that which it was formed to oppose, you can bet it’ll pivot smoothly to the next target.

In this case, “World Can’t Wait — Drive Out the Bush Regime” shows no sign of slowing down now that the Bush Regime is being Driven Out. The Bay Area chapter will hold a “No Endless Wars” march from 3 to 5 p.m. today, Monday, Nov. 10, starting in Berkeley’s Martin Luther King Jr. Park (at Allston and MLK Jr. Way) and wend its way through downtown to target the military plans of… wait for it… president-elect Barack Obama.

“Despite people’s hope for change after eight years of the Bush Regime’s crimes — the changes Barack Obama will deliver will not be at all what the people want,” organizer Giovanni Jackson said in a news release, which also said:

World Can’t Wait points to Obama’s positions on widening the war to send 10,000 more troops into an illegal, unjust war in Afghanistan (calling this a “good war”) – his plans to keep 50,000-80,000 more troops in Iraq, not including private mercenary forces like Blackwater – his call to increase the U.S. military by 92,000 more troops (more military recruiting in inner city schools) – his promise for more pre-emptive attacks on the (sovereign country of) Pakistan, and naked threats of war against Iran.

Jackson stated further: “Obama voted for illegal government spying under the new FISA, and he voted for the Patriot Act. As for torture – Obama refused to filibuster the Military Commissions Act which legalized torture, and he has already said no war criminals responsible for the torture will face prosecution during his first term.”

Posted on Monday, November 10th, 2008
Under: Afghanistan, Barack Obama, Berkeley, General, Iran, Iraq | No Comments »

‘Palling around with terrorists’

From the New York Times:

Ms. Palin delivered her scathing attack lines in a cheery but determined voice. She strongly questioned Mr. Obama’s acquaintance with Mr. Ayers and asked what he knew about Mr. Ayers’s past and when.

“He didn’t know he had launched his political career in the living room of an unrepentant domestic terrorist until he did know about it,” she said in a mocking tone, earning uproarious applause.

More “turning a page” from the “Straight Talk Express,” I guess. Too bad this maverick won’t turn such an inquiring eye toward her own house.

After all, Sarah Palin’s husband, Todd, for the better part of seven years was a registered member of the Alaskan Independence Party, of which the primary goal is to call a vote on whether Alaska should secede from the United States. Its founder, Joe Vogler, reportedly once said “My government is my worst enemy. I’m going to fight them with any means at hand,” and encouraged federal bureaucrats to wear red so they’d make better targets for the Magnum he carried. From Salon:

Vogler’s greatest moment of glory was to be his 1993 appearance before the United Nations to denounce United States “tyranny” before the entire world and to demand Alaska’s freedom. The Alaska secessionist had persuaded the government of Iran to sponsor his anti-American harangue.

That’s right … Iran. The Islamic dictatorship. The taker of American hostages. The rogue nation that McCain and Palin have excoriated Obama for suggesting we diplomatically engage. That Iran.

(The Iran connection has been reported before, btw.)

But instead Vogler disappeared in May 1993; his remains were found more than a year later in a gravel pit:

The blue tarp and duct tape in which the remains were wrapped, officials said, matched a description given by a convicted thief, Manfred West, who confessed last summer that he had killed Mr. Vogler in a plastic-explosives sale gone bad and had then buried him.

Fighting the U.S. government? Iranian sponsorship? A plastic-explosives deal gone bad? That’s quite a resume for an American political-party founder. And none of it kept Sarah Palin from exhorting the AIP to “keep up the good work” earlier this year:

Hmm. Who’s been “palling around with terrorists who would target their own country?”

And what does this all mean? Not. A. Damned. Thing.

Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Just as it doesn’t matter that decades after Bill Ayers was part of a radical group that embraced bombing as political discourse, he – by then a renowned education professor – moved in the same liberal Chicago circles as Barack Obama. Ooooooh, hey, Obama was in Ayer’s house once! Oh my gosh, they sat on a nonprofit’s board together! Hold the phone, they tried to improve Chicago’s schools together!

Not. A. Damned. Thing.

But hey, y’know what does matter?

It matters that your 401k may well have lost about a third of its value in recent weeks, as mine has.

It matters that millions of jobs – certainly mine, maybe yours too – are hanging by a thread today, even as uncounted families struggle to hold onto their homes or have lost them already.

It matters that more than 8.1 million American children lack health insurance.

It matters that one candidate’s proposal to toughen fuel-efficiency standards could impact oil consumption 21 times as much as the other candidate’s proposal to “drill, baby, drill” off our shores.

And it matters that we’re still at war, where things aren’t going well and our national reputation has suffered to the point that it’s hard to find help.

Doesn’t all the meaningless mudslinging — at a time when the nation is desperate for smart, strong leadership — just frustrate you, disappoint you, infuriate you?

So, “my friends,” how’s about we put a lid on this rampant campaign-trail hypocrisy, this wild casting of stones from within a very fragile glass house, and get on with the job of setting this struggling country right.

You don’t have to be “in the tank” for Obama to be in the tank for the truth.

Posted on Friday, October 10th, 2008
Under: Afghanistan, Barack Obama, Elections, Iran, John McCain, Sarah Palin | No Comments »

Barbara Lee: No covert action in Iraq

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, yesterday introduced H.R. 6951, the “Transparent Actions over Covert Tactics in Iran Act of 2008” (“TACT in Iran Act” — ah, political acronyms!), which would bar the Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of Defense from providing covert or clandestine support, including military training or advice or equipment for military activities, for the purpose of overthrowing Iran’s government.

Lee says her bill “will send a loud message that the United States again recognizes the importance of diplomatic engagement and smart power as the preferred instruments for advancing American interests. Covert action by the United States to destabilize the Iranian regime would be reckless and contrary to both international law and U.S. interests.”

“My legislation will help repair the damage done to our nation’s reputation in the world by making it clear that it is not a policy of the United States to undermine or overthrow by covert or clandestine means the government of Iran,” she said.

The bill’s six original co-sponsors include Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, with whom Lee co-chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus. It has been referred to the House Armed Services and Intelligence committees.

Posted on Friday, September 19th, 2008
Under: Barbara Lee, Iran, Lynn Woolsey, U.S. House | No Comments »

Bay Area activism, near and far

There’s plenty of liberal activism a-brewin’, as usual.

El Cerrito piano tuner and longtime pro-Palestinian activist Paul Larudee, a cofounder of the Free Gaza Movement, and his cohorts are about to set sail from Cyprus en route to the Gaza Strip in an effort to “raise international awareness about the prison-like closure of the Gaza Strip and pressure the international community to review its sanctions policy and end its support for continued Israeli occupation.” It won’t be a cakewalk for this international band of activists; Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported Sunday that Israeli defense officials “favor forcefully blocking” the boats’ arrival, as “allowing the ships to reach the Gaza coastline could create a dangerous precedent.”

Closer to home, CODEPINK is gearing up for the Democratic National Convention in Denver next week. Bay Area doyenne of dissent Medea Benjamin and her group will be holding a “Peace Room” pre-convention party “to make art, friends, plans, and a peace platform” from 7 to 9 p.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, Aug. 19, in the CODEPINK/Global Exchange office on the second floor of 2017 Mission St. in San Francisco. Later this week, they’ll have an “All Aboard for Peace” send-off for six Bay Area activists getting on Amtrak to Denver; that’ll be at 8:15 a.m. Friday, Aug. 22, at the Emeryville Amtrak station, 5885 Horton St. According to their news release, they’re headed to Denver and later to the RNC convention in St. Paul, Minn., to “demand, in full creative force, that an end to the occupation of Iraq, no war with Iran and a commitment to peace be at the top the political agenda… CODEPINK will also be speaking out against the financing of the conventions by oil, telecom and pharmaceutical companies, exposing how corporate money corrupts the political system.” They’ve even put their schedule of actions at the conventions online.

And, speaking of the conventions, some prominent Bay Area activists — including Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg of Berkeley and “peace mom” Cindy Sheehan, who’s now running an independent Congressional campaign to unseat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco — are among those who’ve issued an open, online letter calling on people to go to Denver “to protest war, torture, and repression.” Other signatories include Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney; historian and activist Howard Zinn; and Vietnam veteran and activist Ron Kovic (“Born on the Fourth of July“).

Posted on Monday, August 18th, 2008
Under: Berkeley, Cindy Sheehan, Cynthia McKinney, Democratic Party, Elections, General, Green Party, Iran, Iraq, Nancy Pelosi, Republican Party | 1 Comment »

‘No war with Iran’ rally tomorrow in SF

Groups like Direct Action to Stop the War, CodePink, World Can’t Wait and Stop AIPAC are concerned that House Concurrent Resolution 362 — “Expressing the sense of Congress regarding the threat posed to international peace, stability in the Middle East, and the vital national security interests of the United States by Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and regional hegemony” — is a prelude to war with Iran.

Their news release notes the bill “demands that the President initiate an international effort to immediately and dramatically increase the economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on Iran to verifiably suspend its nuclear enrichment activities by, inter alia, prohibiting the export to Iran of all refined petroleum products; imposing stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains, and cargo entering or departing Iran…” That, they say, is pronounced “blockade,” and could too easily slide toward war.

The resolution now has 220 cosponsors including more than 100 Democrats, but not a single one from the greater Bay Area. Nonetheless, activists want House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco — a strong supporter of Israel and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which have been pressing hard for this resolution — to put a stop to this, and so they’ll rally at 3 p.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, July 8, outside the federal building at 450 Golden Gate Ave. in San Francisco.

What’s Pelosi’s official, stated position on the resolution? Pelosi spokesman Nadeam Elshami told me a short while ago he’s still trying to get me an answer to that question. “However, the speaker has publicly stated that she is supportive of strong international sanctions on Iran and an aggressive diplomatic efforts focused on the Iranian nuclear program,” he said.

Posted on Monday, July 7th, 2008
Under: Iran, Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House | 1 Comment »

Kucinich moves on impeachment, locals react

kucinich.jpgRep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, last night introduced 35 articles of impeachment against President George W. Bush.

From Article I — “Creating a Secret Propaganda Campaign to Manufacture a False Case for War Against Iraq” — to Article XXXV — “Endangering the Health of 911 First Responders” — the former Democratic presidential candidate laid out a comprehenisve indictment of the President’s actions. And he spent about five hours last night reading them into the Congressional record.

Reactions from Bay Area House members varied.

“I applaud Congressman Kucinich for bringing these articles of impeachment before the House and I support his effort,” said Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland.

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, the Bay Area delegation’s newest member, went much further, commending Kucinich “for shining a light on the malfeasance of President Bush and his administration.

speier.jpg“I agree that America would not have gone to war, and more than 4,000 service members would still be alive, had the President not lied about Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction,” Speier said. “Congress must continue to hold this administration accountable, now, and after they leave office next January.

“Had I been in Congress two years ago, I would have supported impeachment, but now, just months until the end of his term, it would not be the best use of taxpayer money to hold hearings that would accomplish nothing more than the calendar and the Constitution will take care of in due time,” Speier continued. “In fact, I believe impeaching the president would take longer than Congress has time left in this session. The only sure way to rid ourselves of the incompetence, arrogance and abject dishonesty of the last seven and a half years is to make sure we elect Barack Obama this November.”

But my requests for comment from House Speaker Nancy “Off the Table” Pelosi, D-San Francisco; Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez; Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont; Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo; and Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, went unanswered today.

UPDATE @ 12:4O P.M. WEDNESDAY: Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, issued this statement today supporting impeachement:

“Five years ago, President Bush undertook a deliberate and concerted campaign to send our nation to war against Iraq. This was not a war of necessity, but a war of choice. President Bush manipulated the intelligence in order to convince the Congress, and the American Public, that Iraq represented a clear and present danger to our national security. A threat so grave, we were told, that continued diplomatic efforts would lead to mushroom clouds.

“There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and no terrorist connections between Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda. However, there is ample evidence to suggest that President Bush planned to invade Iraq long before Congress gave him the authorization to do so, and that he undertook a campaign to manipulate the intelligence regarding Iraq’s supposed weapons program.

“More than 4,000 brave men and women have paid for President Bush’s mistake with their lives. And tens of thousands of others will forever bear the physical and mental wounds of war. As a coequal branch of government the Congress owes it to each one of them, and their families, to hold those who led us to war under false pretences accountable.”

Posted on Tuesday, June 10th, 2008
Under: Barbara Lee, Dennis Kucinich, Ellen Tauscher, George Miller, Iran, Iraq, Jackie Speier, Jerry McNerney, Lynn Woolsey, Nancy Pelosi, Pete Stark, President Bush, U.S. House | No Comments »

Barbara Lee talks to Iranians

lee-talks-to-iranians.JPGThe Congressional Progressive Caucus, of which Rep. Barbara Lee is co-chairwoman, and the Campaign for a New American Policy on Iran held a news conference on Capitol Hill today urging dialogue between ordinary Americans and ordinary Iranians as a means of heading off what they say is the Bush Administration’s drumbeat for war with Iran. Lee, D-Oakland, and others used a row of 60’s-era red “hotline” telephones to talk directly to average Iranians in Tehran.

“We have been down this road before and Americans have learned a simple truth from five hard and bitter years in Iraq: No unjust war ever produced a just and lasting peace! It has not worked in Iraq. It will not work in Iran,” she said. “What we need is not another rush to unwarranted, unnecessary, and misguided military action but rather a diplomatic surge for peace and reconciliation. One of the important first steps we should take is to have direct, comprehensive, and unconditional bilateral talks with Iran.”

Lee’s H.R. 5056, introduced in January and now backed by 14 cosponsors, would do exactly that.

Read Lee’s entire statement as prepared for delivery, after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, June 10th, 2008
Under: Barbara Lee, Iran, U.S. House | No Comments »

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.

Posted on Tuesday, November 6th, 2007
Under: Anna Eshoo, Barbara Lee, Dennis Kucinich, Dick Cheney, Ellen Tauscher, George Miller, Iran, Iraq, Jerry McNerney, Lynn Woolsey, Mike Honda, Nancy Pelosi, Pete Stark, Tom Lantos, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | No Comments »

Tauscher named to international post

tauscher2.jpgRep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, has been elected to chair the NATO Parliamentary Assembly Subcommittee on Future Security and Defense Capabilities.

Tauscher, already chairwoman of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee, returned today from the 53rd Annual Session of The NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Reykjavik, Iceland, where she’d joined about 350 legislators from NATO member, partner and observer countries to discuss major security issues on the Alliance’s agenda, including Afghanistan and Iran.

As the Parliamentary Assembly subcommittee’s chairwoman, she’s charged with working to ensure that NATO invests in better defense systems, people, and platforms, and that partner countries make greater investments in interoperable systems.

“The new, emerging, and existing threats to America are very similar to the threats that our NATO allies are facing,” she said in a news release. “This is the same group that came to action when we were attacked on September 11, saying an attack on one member is an attack on all, and it’s a partnership that we need to foster. Working with our allies allows us to develop new and better strategies to protect our homelands, promote economic security, and it strengthens the transatlantic relationship at the core of the NATO alliance.”

Each of the Parliamentary Assembly’s eight subcommittees usually meets twice per year.

The Parliamentary Assembly is not formally connected to NATO; rather, its a forum for member nations and associates to hash out policy issues and build mutual understanding. Delegates to the Iceland session developed policy recommendations for NATO on Afghanistan, the Western Balkans, missile defense, NATO’s next round of enlargement, climate change, and the Alliance’s relations with Russia. They were briefed by fellow parliamentarians, experts and policymakers on issues such as Iran and nuclear proliferation; security in southeast Europe; Islam in the Caucasus; the relationship between intelligence, terrorism and the preservation of civil liberties; the prospects for a new Strategic Concept for NATO; and India’s economic development.

Posted on Wednesday, October 10th, 2007
Under: Afghanistan, Ellen Tauscher, Iran, Iraq, U.S. House | No Comments »

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’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 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.

Posted on Thursday, September 27th, 2007
Under: Barbara Lee, Ellen Tauscher, George Miller, Iran, Iraq, Lynn Woolsey, Mike Honda, Pete Stark, Tom Lantos, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | No Comments »