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!


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.


Locals sound off on strategic oil reserve vote

The House today voted 385-25 to approve H.R. 6022, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve Fill Suspension and Consumer Protection Act of 2008, which would temporarily suspend the filling of the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve until the end of the year in order to increase consumer supply and bring down gas prices. The U.S. Senate passed an amendment earlier today with this SPR provision; that vote was 97-1.

Here’s what some Bay Area lawmakers had to say about it:

Education & Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez:

“Economists agree that temporarily suspending these deliveries will offer some relief at the pump by freeing up additional oil supplies to the broader market. It is, of course, not the only thing Congress can and should do to help consumers, but it is one concrete step that we have taken to help people now. President Bush is wrong to oppose our bill and I urge him to reconsider his position and approve it. The President should stop saying ‘No’ to every idea that is presented to him to help consumers struggling under exorbitant gas prices.”


“Combined with the housing crisis and a struggling economy, skyrocketing gas prices are having a devastating impact on the American people. Our bill is expected to increase supply for oil and lower gas prices anywhere from 5 to 24 cents per gallon without any risk to American security and oil supplies.”

Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo:

“We can’t wait around for a silver bullet to bring gas prices back to where they were even just a few years ago, that is not going to happen. Instead we need to adopt incremental adjustments like this that take some of the pressure off American families. If the President is serious about giving American families economic relief then he needs to get on board with the Congress and adopt this bipartisan legislation as well as future measures that will cut the cost of gas; every little bit helps.”

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton:

“With gas prices close to or over $4 a gallon in parts of California, it’s far past time to take a common sense step like this one to provide a bit of relief.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

“Today, Congress took action on a real solution to lower the price at the pump. By suspending deliveries to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve we can save consumers from 5 to 24 cents per gallon. This is a critical first step for America’s families, businesses and our economy and, as the President said in 2006 when talking about the impact of suspending deliveries to the SPR, ‘every little bit helps.’

“In the past, when the SPR has been tapped or deliveries have been suspended, consumers saw real savings. In 2000, after similar action, the price of oil dropped by one-third. By acting today, the New Direction Congress can reduce prices for Americans who are stretching their budgets to afford the high price at the pump.

“The President and Congressional Republicans maintain that we must act to open up ANWR and large swaths of the outer continental shelf. Even if we started drilling today in ANWR, we wouldn’t see one drop of oil for 10 years, and the price at the pump would only be reduced by a little over one penny per gallon in the year 2030.

“The United States cannot drill its way to energy independence. As a nation, we have less than 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves, but use 24 percent of the world’s oil. The President and Congressional Republicans should abandon the ‘drill and veto’ policies of the past and work with Democrats to lower record gas prices at the pump by holding OPEC accountable for its cartel-pricing activities, investigate and punish price gougers and market manipulation and repeal the unnecessary subsidies to Big Oil in a time of record profits to invest in renewables.”

“In both the House and Senate, we have demonstrated strong bipartisan support for temporarily suspending deliveries to the SPR. The House and Senate will work to finalize this legislation and send it to the President’s desk as soon as possible.”


East Bay lawyer will help vet judicial nominees

An employment, consumer fraud and civil rights lawyer from Piedmont is the latest addition to a bipartisan commission that recommends nominations for federal judgeships.

jack-w-lee.jpgU.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., has announced her appointment of Jack Wing Lee, 56, to the Parsky Commission’s Northern District Panel. The Parsky Commission was created in 2001 as senators Boxer and Dianne Feinstein struck a deal with the Bush Administration for input in recommending nominations. It’s comprised of four six-member subcommittees -– one for each of the state’s judicial districts — and each subcommittee has one member selected by Boxer, one by Feinstein and one jointly by both Senators, while the other three members are named by Gerald Parsky, a Los Angeles investor and major GOP mover and shaker who has held appointments in every Republican administration since Nixon’s.

“I am very pleased that Jack has agreed to take on this important responsibility of helping select highly-qualified, moderate judicial candidates for the federal bench,” Boxer said in her news release. “I am confident that Jack will bring the experience of his long and diverse career to the process. I also want to thank Michael Ohleyer for his fine service on the Parsky Commission these past several years.”

Lee replaces Ohleyer, a San Francisco attorney.

Lee is a partner at San Francisco’s Minami Tamaki LLP; earlier, he worked on complex class-action civil rights cases with Saperstein & Seligman in Oakland. Earlier yet, he was an attorney for the nonprofit Asian Law Caucus; the San Francisco Public Defenders Office; and regional attorney for the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, where he worked on discrimination and desegregation issues in the school system. He has been active with various legal and Asian community organizations, and chaired the City of Oakland Civil Service Commission from 1992 to 1996; he graduated Phi Betta Kappa from the University of California, Berkeley in 1973 and earned his law degree from the UC Hastings Law School in 1976.

Federal judges are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate to lifetime terms on the bench.


5th anniversary of “Mission Accomplished”

It was five years ago today that President George W. Bush landed on the deck of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln and, against the backdrop of an enormous “Mission Accomplished” banner, declared major combat operations in Iraq at an end. Lest there be any confusion about what was and wasn’t said and seen that day, here it is in two parts:

Some critics are particularly irked by what White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said during her briefing yesterday: “President Bush is well aware that the banner should have been much more specific and said ‘mission accomplished for these sailors who are on this ship on their mission.’ And we have certainly paid a price for not being more specific on that banner. And I recognize that the media is going to play this up again tomorrow, as they do every single year.”

Cue House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller‘s head exploding:

miller.jpg“This latest White House comment is reprehensible and should be repudiated. Yet again, the Bush Administration, faced with its own failures in Iraq, is trying to rewrite history rather than write a new policy to end the war and bring our troops home in a timely and responsible manner.

“The assertion yesterday by the White House that the ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner was meant simply to describe the mission of the USS Abraham Lincoln and its sailors in 2003 is clearly not believable and should be publicly repudiated by the President. The unjustified and misleading declaration of ‘Mission Accomplished’ by the President was the entire basis for his speech five years ago today, and it is a deep insult to all Americans and our servicemen and servicewomen that the White House is once again deliberately distorting the truth.

“The White House knowingly hung the ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner in a public relations effort to convince the world that military operations in Iraq had been completed quickly just as White House and Pentagon officials had repeatedly said would happen before the war began. Well, we all know what happened after that, because so far over 4,000 military personnel have lost their lives in Iraq and nearly 30,000 have been wounded.

“The President’s reckless and shortsighted decision to send America into an unjustified war in Iraq is one of the most costly and devastating foreign policy decision ever made by an American president. What the White House owes Americans is a new policy in Iraq that will bring our troops home, not a new version of history that only deceives Americans further, just as the Administration knowingly deceived Americans and the Congress in the buildup to this tragic war.”

However, the White House has been backing off on this for quite a long time — this is from more than a year ago:

And, lest we forget, the media had a lot to do with how this was spun in the first place.

More from Barbara Lee and Lynn Woolsey, after the jump… Continue Reading


House renews world AIDS relief program

The House today voted 308-116 to reauthorize the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) — America’s effort to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS worldwide — at $50 billion over five years, considerably more than the $30 billion for which President Bush had asked.

lee3.jpgRep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, was among the five original co-authors both of this H.R. 5501, the Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Reauthorization Act, and the original PEPFAR legislation back in 2003. Of the reauthorization, she said today there’s “perhaps no other piece of legislation that Congress will consider this year that will have greater impact on the lives of people around the world.”

Lee said she’s sad that former House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo, who died Feb. 11, and former chairman Henry Hyde, R-Ill., who died in November, weren’t here to see this bipartisan compromise.

She noted the bill passed today includes language from her own PATHWAY Act, H.R. 1713 — which strikes the requirement that at least a third of U.S. funds for global HIV/AIDS prevention be earmarked for abstinence-until-marriage programs. Indeed, House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, issued a statement today saying he’s “disappointed the Majority turned back a balanced Republican alternative that would have authorized funding for the PEPFAR program at the level requested by President Bush, while protecting taxpayers from funding programs that support abortions overseas.”

Lee also noted the House version doesn’t include language from her H.R. 3337, the HIV Non-Discrimination in Travel and Immigration Act, which would overturn the current travel and immigration ban on people living with HIV/AIDS wishing to enter the United States. “I’m happy that the Senate version of PEPFAR does adopt the language to eliminate the ban,” she said. “I will work with my colleagues to make sure that when we get to conference, the ban is repealed once and for all.”

Some other quotable quotes about the PEPFAR reauthorization, after the jump… Continue Reading