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Barbara Lee’s Iraq amendment gone from bill

I wrote a story back in March about how Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, co-authored a resolution barring President Bush from making major, long-term economic and military commitments to Iraq without consulting Congress first. Lee ended up having such language incorporated into the 2009 Defense Authorization Act as approved by the House in May.

But the Senate version didn’t pick up her language, and the House OK’ed that Senate version today on a 392-39 vote. Lee was among the nays, as were Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont; Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough; and Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, while the rest of the Bay Area’s delegation voted for the bill.

Lee is not amused:

“When this Defense Authorization bill cleared the House last May, it included an amendment that I authored requiring congressional approval of any agreement negotiated between the President and the Government of Iraq which commits the United States to the defense and security of Iraq from internal and external threats. But because the White House threatened to veto the bill over this prudent and reasonable provision, the version of the bill returned to us from the Senate no longer includes that limitation. That is reason alone to oppose this bill, which I do.

“Supported by members of both parties, the LEE Amendment to the Defense Authorization Act of 2009 easily passed the House of Representatives on May 22, 2008, by a vote of 234-183. Under the LEE Amendment, no provision contained in any Status of Forces Agreement or ‘SOFA’ negotiated between the President and the Government of Iraq which commits the United States to the defense and security of Iraq from internal and external threats would be valid unless that agreement has been authorized and approved by Congress.

“An agreement to commit American troops to the defense and security of another country is not routine or typical or minor. It is a major commitment that must have the support of the American people. And that popular can only be reflected by the Congress of the United States. That is why the LEE Amendment was necessary and was supported by a bipartisan majority of the House.

“I regret we have lost a valuable opportunity to bring much needed accountability and transparency to our relationship with Iraq.”

Posted on Wednesday, September 24th, 2008
Under: Barbara Lee, Iraq, President Bush, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

Tuesday’s RNC video highlights

First Lady Laura Bush and President George W. Bush:

U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn.:

Former presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn.:

Posted on Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008
Under: Elections, Fred Thompson, General, Joe Lieberman, John McCain, President Bush, Republican Party | No Comments »

Lee praises Bush for signing new global AIDS law

President Bush was flanked by Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and Annette Lantos — widow of the late House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo — yesterday as he signed the H.R. 5501, the Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008.

“As one of the original co-authors of not only this bill but the original legislation in 2003, it has been a tremendous bipartisan effort to get to this day,” Lee, a co-author of the bill, said in a statement issued shortly afterward. “This bill is the latest in a long string of bipartisan initiatives on global HIV/AIDS that have been born out of a willingness to work together and put the United States on the right side of history when it comes to this global pandemic. Despite his failings on so many critical issues, the President deserves recognition for working with Congress to enact this important legislation.”

The new law authorizes a $48 billion increase to the program, which Lee said will make it possible to prevent 12 million new HIV infections globally; provide treatment for at least 3 million individuals with HIV/AIDS; treat 450,000 children; and ensure care for 12 million individuals, including 5 million orphans and vulnerable children in communities affected by HIV/AIDS. Lee said she’ll use her seat on the House Appropriations Committee and its Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs to “ensure we meet the funding commitments and targets we set out in this important new law.”

The law also removes the statutory ban on travel and immigration for people living with HIV/AIDS. “It’s far past time we got rid of this shameful policy,” Lee said. “I’m glad we were able to remove the statutory ban and pass this bill less than three before the International AIDS Conference in Mexico City.”

Posted on Thursday, July 31st, 2008
Under: Barbara Lee, President Bush, Tom Lantos | No Comments »

Nader has a snit over impeachment hearing

So the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by John Conyers, D-Mich., will hold a hearing Friday on “Executive Power and Its Constitutional Limitations.” From the committee’s Web site:

“Over the last seven plus years, there have been numerous credible allegations of serious misconduct by officials in the Bush Administration,” said Conyers. “At the same time, the administration has adopted what many would describe as a radical view of its own powers and authorities. As Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, I believe it is imperative that we pursue a comprehensive review commensurate to this constitutionally dangerous combination of circumstances. Next Friday’s hearings will be an important part of that ongoing effort.”

The Committee is expected to examine a range of legal and legislative responses to allegations of administration misconduct and their expansion of executive branch power.

Among those called to testify will be Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, who earlier this month introduced an article of impeachment against President George W. Bush, based on “Deceiving Congress with Fabricated Threats of Iraq WMDs to Fraudulently Obtain Support for an Authorization of the Use of Military Force Against Iraq.” Impeachment advocates shouldn’t get all that excited: Kucinich will have a chance to talk about it, but House Democratic leaders have made that’s not the hearing’s main focus. Instead, the committee aims to generally review what it believes to be the president’s abuses of power. Still, even a discussion of impeachment is a milestone for Kucinich and this Congress.

Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader isn’t on the list of invited witnesses, and that sure does seem to starch his boxers, as evidenced by the letter he sent to Conyers today:

July 23, 2008

Chairman John Conyers
House Judiciary Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Chairman Conyers:

For years I have been urging you to initiate a resolution of impeachment of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney for chronic, repeated violations of our Constitution and the many “high crimes and misdemeanors” they commit day after day. These two men are the worst recidivist impeachable occupiers of the Presidency and Vice Presidency in American history.

Since assuming power over both Houses, the Democratic leadership declared impeachment to be “off the table.”

During our 2004 Nader/Camejo independent campaign for the Presidency, we invited the American people to sign on in support of our demand for the impeachment of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Many thousands of citizens signed.

We have had several conversations and two meetings where impeachment was discussed. On March 24, 2008, I wrote you a letter describing the various options open to you as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee (see enclosed.)

A few days ago, it was reported that your Committee will hold hearings this Friday July 25, 2008 on Congressman Dennis Kucinich’s article of impeachment referred to your jurisdiction.

You have invited four members of the House to testify including, of course, Congressman Kucinich and several observers of the subject, including the inestimable former mayor of Salt Lake City Rocky Anderson, Bruce Fein and John Dean. The Libertarian candidate for President, Bob Barr is also on the witness list, but I am not.

This is not the first time that I have been excluded from testifying on subjects both of us have been concerned about and have discussed. Remember your invitation to testify at your unofficial public hearing right after the 2004 elections regarding “irregularities” in Ohio? Within two days, your chief of staff, Perry Applebaum, persuaded you to disinvite me.

Applebaum has been a problem with my appearing before a Committee Chairman whom I have known, admired and worked with for nearly forty years. He has performed his exclusionary behavior on other occasions. It is time to make this public and to ascertain why he prevails again and again with his superior either not to invite or to deny requests to testify regarding subjects well within my knowledge, experience, and forthrightness.

Sincerely,

Ralph Nader
P.O. Box 34103
Washington, D.C. 20043

But why should Nader be invited? What special viewpoint or knowledge would he bring to such a hearing that others can’t? Lots of people are “concerned” about it and I’m sure many people have “discussed” the matter with Conyers, but not everyone gets to testify.

This seems to me like yet another example of Nader’s indefatigable ego: It’s not good enough for him that impeachment is being discussed; HE must be invited to hold forth on it.

Uh, Ralph? It’s not all about you.

Posted on Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008
Under: Dennis Kucinich, John Conyers, President Bush, Ralph Nader, U.S. House | No Comments »

Kucinich pursues Bush’s impeachment, again

Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, once again put the impeachment of President George W. Bush on the House floor today, and Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland again voiced her support:

“As a co-sponsor of Congressman Kucinich’s previous articles of impeachment, I want to commend his ongoing efforts to hold this President accountable for his abuses.

“The lifeblood of any democracy is the trust the people have in their political leaders and institutions. When leaders abuse that trust, they imperil their country by breaking the ties that bind the people to their government. And nowhere is that trust more essential than when it comes to deciding whether to go to war.

“As President of the United States and Commander in Chief of our nation’s military forces, George W. Bush’s record is replete with abusing this trust with the purpose of enabling a war of choice. His actions will have a lasting effect on the heart and soul of our nation and the very fiber of democracy.

“His war of choice has caused incalculable damage to our country, and the damage is exacerbated daily by his continuance in office. His breach of the public trust and misleading the nation into a disastrous war in Iraq warrants his impeachment and removal from office.

“This article of impeachment introduced today provides a compelling exposé of the President’s abuse of the public trust in his fateful and calamitous decision to launch an unnecessary war in Iraq. I strongly support it.

Kucinich last month had introduced 35 articles of impeachment against President Bush; they were sent to the House Judiciary Committee, where they died without hearing or action. Today he introduced just one article, based on “Deceiving Congress with Fabricated Threats of Iraq WMDs to Fraudulently Obtain Support for an Authorization of the Use of Military Force Against Iraq.”

House Speaker Nancy “Off the Table” Pelosi, D-San Francisco, somewhat surprisingly told reporters at her weekly briefing this morning that it’s “a Judiciary Committee matter. And I believe you will see some attention being paid to it by the Judiciary Committee. Not necessarily taking up the articles of impeachment, because that would have to be voted on the floor, but to have some hearings on the subject.”

Posted on Thursday, July 10th, 2008
Under: Barbara Lee, Dennis Kucinich, Nancy Pelosi, President Bush, U.S. House | 1 Comment »

Economic stimulus checks stimulate porn

Nope, not making it up. A news release from the Adult Internet Market Research Company, via Yahoo! News:

An unforeseen and surprising beneficiary of the Economic Stimulus Plan, a plan that George Bush contends will “boost our economy and encourage job creation,” has surfaced this week. An independent market-research firm, AIMRCo (Adult Internet Market Research Company), has discovered that many websites focused on adult or erotic material have experienced an upswing in sales in the recent weeks since checks have appeared in millions of Americans’ mailboxes across the country.

According to Kirk Mishkin, Head Research Consultant for AIMRCo, “Many of the sites we surveyed have reported 20-30% growth in membership rates since mid-May when the checks were first sent out, and typically the summer is a slow period for this market.”

Jillian Fox, spokeswoman for LSGmodels.com, one of the sites reporting figures to AIMRCo, added, “In a June 15, 2008 survey to our members, thirty two percent of respondents referenced the recent stimulus package as part of their decision to either become a new member, or renew an existing membership.”

The economic stimulus plan, which includes a check for up to $600 for individuals and $1200 for married couples (among other benefits), is the product of an agreement between House leaders and the Bush Administration, focused on reviving a struggling economy in the wake of a flagging economy.

Fox also added, “Getting more people to buy porn was probably the last thing Bush had on his mind when he came up with his ‘stimulus package,’ but we’ll take it.”

Glad to know at least one sector of the California economy is perking up.

Uh, looking up.

Oh, forget it.

Posted on Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008
Under: General, President Bush, U.S. House | No Comments »

“So, you’re never coming back, right?”

The real caption is: “President George W. Bush and Laura Bush visit with Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh Prince Phillip in St. George’s Hall at Windsor Castle in Windsor, England. (White House photo by Eric Draper)”

What’s your caption?

Posted on Monday, June 16th, 2008
Under: President Bush | No Comments »

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 »

Political Haiku, Vol. 1

McClellan pans Bush,
a book we all saw coming.
Yet Karl Rove is shocked.

McCain banks more cash
both in Reno and SoCal –
none for GI bill?

Barack said Auschwitz
but really meant Buchenwald

A gaffe? Do we care?

Gay marriage starts soon
unless court stays its own hand.
Must we cast votes first?

C’mon, everybody – five syllables, then seven, then five (yes, I know that’s oversimplified, but I don’t speak Japanese). Bring it on!

Posted on Thursday, May 29th, 2008
Under: Barack Obama, Elections, haiku, John McCain, President Bush, same-sex marriage | No Comments »

MoveOn offers ‘The McCain-Bush Challenge’

MoveOn activists all across the nation are taking to the streets today to invite voters to take “The McCain-Bush Challenge,” a pop quiz to see whether voters can tell the difference between the policy positions of Republican presidential candidate John McCain and those of President George W. Bush.

The organization claims half a million voters have visited The Bush-McCain Challenge Web site to take the quiz since it launched earlier this month. But today’s the first day they’re doing it as a man-on-the-street blitz; they’ll be at Market and Powell streets in San Francisco at noon, and between the Safeway and the Trader Joe’s at the Alameda Towne Center at 6 p.m.

mccain-and-bush-at-phoenix-sky-harbor-intl-airport-on-tuesday-ap-photo-charles-dharapak.jpgThis is an extension of Democrats’ effort to paint McCain as a Bush clone, and his candidacy as little more than a “four more years” extension of a wildly unpopular presidency.

McCain’s opponents have made hay of the fact that yesterday’s Bush-headlined fundraiser in Arizona was held at a private residence and was closed to the public and press — perhaps an effort to raise money from the GOP faithful while maintaining a public distance from the president. Actually, McCain typically keeps his fundraisers closed to the press anyway. But this was their first campaign event together since March.

McCain today has a fundraising luncheon in Reno, and then a fundraising dinner in Los Angeles.

Posted on Wednesday, May 28th, 2008
Under: Elections, General, John McCain, President Bush | No Comments »