The 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What a day for the Big Apple! Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was in New York City today to speak at a United Nations conference of world leaders on global warming. At the same time, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was in town to speak at Columbia University; he’ll address the UN General Assembly tomorrow.
Never one to miss an opportunity for a timely news release, the governor announced today he’ll be happy to sign AB 221 by Assemblyman Joel Anderson, R-La Mesa, prohibiting the state pension funds from investing in companies that do business in Iran. CalPERS, the state’s employee retirement fund, is the largest pension fund in the nation and CalSTRS, the state’s public education retirement fund, is the second largest pension fund in the nation. Both legislative chambers voted unanimously for the bill.
“California has a long history of leadership and doing what’s right with our investment portfolio,” the governor said. “Last year, I was proud to sign legislation to divest from the Sudan to take a powerful stand against genocide. I look forward to signing legislation to divest from Iran to take an equally powerful stand against terrorism.”
Hunger-striking North Bay activist Leslie Angeline was arrested yesterday morning for refusing to leave the Capitol Hill office of U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., whom she says is advocating a military strike on Iran. Here’s a video shot by a member of the phalanx of CodePink protesters who accompanied Angeline:
Lieberman this morning joined with three Republican Senators to introduce an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act “confronting the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran over its proxy attacks on American soldiers in Iraq,” according to Lieberman’s news release:
The amendment details the publicly available evidence put forward over the past year by General David Petraeus, commanding general of Multi-National Force Iraq, and others about Iran’s violent and destabilizing activities in Iraq.
The amendment states that “the murder of members of the United States Armed Forces by a foreign government or its agents is an intolerable act of hostility against the United States,” and demands the government of Iran “take immediate action” to end all forms of support it is providing to Iraqi militias and insurgents. The amendment also mandates a regular report on Iran’s anti-coalition activity in Iraq.
“For many months, our military commanders and diplomats have warned us that the Iranian government has been training, equipping, arming, and funding proxies in Iraq who are murdering our troops,” said Senator Lieberman. “This amendment is a common sense, common ground statement of the Senate to Tehran: we know what you are doing, and you must stop.”
Watch Lieberman talking about the amendment today on the Senate floor here.
CodePink activist Leslie Angeline, 50, of Santa Rosa, fainted today during the 15th day of her hunger strike protesting the continued refusal of U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., to meet with her.
She launched the effort earlier this month after Lieberman appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation” and said “I think we’ve got to be prepared to take aggressive military action against the Iranians to stop them from killing Americans in Iraq.” Angeline, who’d recently returned from Iran as part of a delegation organized by the human-rights group Global Exchange, has said she’s determined to prevent a U.S. war against Iran.
The Hill reported Angeline was being treated for dehydration at George Washington University Hospital. Lieberman’s staff has not yet responded to my e-mailed request for a comment.
UPDATE @ 5:30 P.M. THURSDAY: Here’s the video of Angeline that CodePink just posted to YouTube:
No Net taxes: Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, today introduced the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act of 2007, seeking to permanently extend the moratorium on Internet access taxes and duplicative and discriminatory taxes on Internet commerce. The bill has 34 original cosponsors — 14 Democrats and 20 Republicans — including Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo; Michael Honda, D-San Jose; and Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose. Congress first instituted a temporary moratorium in 1998 to encourage online commerce’s growth, and extended it in 2004 for three years, but it’ll expire in November. “Passage of this legislation will ensure, once and for all, that the growth of Internet access and e-commerce will not be hampered by unwarranted taxation,” Eshoo, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, said in her news release.
Middle-class plight: House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez, convened a hearing today to hear from workers and economic experts about challenges facing the middle class. “While the business pages across America report that profits and productivity are up for many corporations, we know that’s only half of the economic story,” he said. “The other half is the story of how middle-class Americans are struggling to make ends meet. I hear from workers who were laid off from a good-paying manufacturing job and wound up in a new job that pays far less than did the one they lost. I hear from workers whose company just dumped their pension plan, forcing them to scramble to find other ways to get by in retirement. I hear from workers whose basic expenses — for housing, food, education, transportation, and health care — keep going up, even while their paychecks stay about the same size.” Read the testimony from Yale University Professor Jacob Hacker; Rutgers University Center for Women and Work director Eileen Appelbaum; and Center for Economic Progress economist Christian Weller. The archived Webcast is here.
Stay out of Iran: Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, hosted a forum of experts today to discuss current U.S. policy toward Iran: potential implications of preemptive war there; non-military alternatives to addressing Iran’s nuclear ambitions; and engaging Iran in efforts to strengthen regional stability by ending Iraq’s civil war. She announced the introduction of her Iran Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act of 2007, which would pledge the U.S. “not to enter into a preemptive war against Iran in the absence of an imminent threat, and then only in accordance with international law and constitutional and statutory requirements for congressional authorization.” It also would block funding for “any covert action for the purpose of causing regime change in Iran or to carry out any military action against Iran in the absence of an imminent threat, in accordance with international law.” And it declares both that no previous act of Congress authorizes military force against Iran, and that there should be no preconditions to engaging Iran in diplomatic dialogue.
Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, introduced his first bill today: the Healthy Communities Water Supply Act of 2007, which will authorize $125 million in funding for projects to increase usable water supply by encouraging innovation in water reclamation, reuse, and conservation. With parts of California experiencing one of the driest Januaries ever and the impact on California’s water supply caused by rising global temperatures, this bill authorizes critical funds to develop alternative sources of clean drinking water, his news release said. The bill — of which the first original co-sponsor is Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo — is scheduled to be considered by House Transportation and Infrastructure‘s Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment on Wednesday. McNerney and Tauscher both sit on that subcommittee.
Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, will host a forum at 2 p.m. Wednesday in the Cannon House Office Building on “Iran: Engagement and Diplomacy, Alternatives to Preemption,” a reaction to what she says is the Bush Administration’s increased sabre-rattling toward that nation. The discussion of current U.S. policy towards Iran; the potential implications of preemptive war there; non-military alternatives to Iran’s nuclear ambitions; and engaging Iran in bolstering regional stability by ending Iraq’s civil war will be conducted by Ken Katzman, a Middle East policy expert from the Congressional Research Service; Georgetown University Security Studies Professor Paul Pillar, a 28-year veteran of the CIA; retired U.S. Air Force Col. Sam Gardiner; and National Iranian-American Council President Trita Parsi.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco; House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo; and other members of a bipartisan Congressional delegation which visited Iraq and Afghanistan in recent days will discuss the trip in a news conference tomorrow in the Rayburn House Office Building.
UPDATE @ 3:20 p.m. — Crank up your C-SPAN: Barbara Lee will be wielding the House’s gavel as Speaker pro tempore from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. PST tomorrow, surely striking fear into the hearts of conservatives far and wide.