Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Does Congress have the authority to force the President to withdraw troops?

The Republicans in Congress are now claiming that only the President has the Constitutional power to determine troop deployments and Congress would be overstepping its bounds to force the President to withdraw from Iraq.
As Glenn Greenwald has pointed out in a very interesting blog post many of the same Republicans who are saying this now said the exact opposite in 1993 when they forced President Clinton to withdraw our troops from Somalia. For example ...

Sen. John McCain - October 19,1993

There is no reason for the United States of America to remain in Somalia. The American people want them home, I believe the majority of Congress wants them home, and to set an artificial date of March 31 or even February 1, in my view, is not acceptable. The criteria should be to bring them home as rapidly and safely as possible, an evolution which I think could be completed in a matter of weeks.

Our continued military presence in Somalia allows another situation to arise which could then lead to the wounding, killing or capture of American fighting men and women. We should do all in our power to avoid that.

I listened carefully to the President's remarks at a news conference that he held earlier today. I heard nothing in his discussion of the issue that would persuade me that further U.S. military involvement in the area is necessary. In fact, his remarks have persuaded me more profoundly that we should leave and leave soon.

Dates certain, Mr. President, are not the criteria here. What is the criteria and what should be the criteria is our immediate, orderly withdrawal from Somalia. And if we do not do that and other Americans die, other Americans are wounded, other Americans are captured because we stay too long--longer than necessary--then I would say that the responsibilities for that lie with the Congress of the United States who did not exercise their authority under the Constitution of the United States and mandate that they be brought home quickly and safely as possible. . . .

Monday, January 29, 2007

How big was that anti-war march in Washington?

How many people were at the anti-war demonstration in Washington D.C. Saturday? All the accounts I saw in the media, apparently following CNN’s lead, refer to tens of thousands. I saw one media report that said 20,000. But Bob Herbert, who was there, said in his column today in the New York Times (requires a subscription) that there were more than 100,000. The organizers of the march said the turnout was well over 100,000.

If more than 100,000 people traveled to Washington on Saturday to urge Congress to end the war in Iraq why would the corporate media downplay the story and talk only about “tens of thousands”? Are the people working for the corporate media journalists or advocates? Are they reporting the news or trying to shape the public perception? Are they telling us what we need to know to make informed decisions or telling us only what they want us to know in order to determine what decisions we make?

Friday, January 26, 2007

Tancredo accuses Bush of throwing the election

Republican Congressman from Colorado and presidential candidate, Tom Tancredo, yesterday accused President Bush of deliberately wishing and working for a Democratic victory in the 2006 Congressional election.
The President certainly got his wish when he campaigned this past cycle, and did everything he could to guarantee a Congress sympathetic to his ‘amnesty for all’ plan.
see complete press release

Well, now that Tom mentions it, it was a little strange that in the days leading up the election President Bush insisted that a vote for any Republican for Congress was a vote for a continuation of his Iraqi War policy when the polls were showing how unpopular that policy was. But it never occured to me that President Bush was deliberately and consciously working for a Democratic majority. Nor did it occur to me that immigration policy might trump everything else as a motivation for President Bush.

What do you think? Do you think Tom is onto something here?

Why are they smearing Clinton and Obama?

Why are the right wingers trying so hard to smear the Democrats? Why are they claiming that Hillary Clinton will try to smear the other candidates and then offering as proof smears that they themselves have just created and blaming it, without a shred of evidence, on her campaign?

In an article in today’s New York Times (requires a subscription) Paul Krugman explains that this is what happens when the economy becomes polarized and the gap between rich and poor widens as it has been for the last 20 years. As during the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt the Republican Party, protecting the interests of the economic elite, has a great deal of money and the organization that money can buy but a domestic and economic agenda that does not serve the interests of the majority of the voters. In such a situation they use their money, organization and the media to attack and smear.

Paul Krugman points out that Franklin Delano Roosevelt did not amend his agenda to try to create bipartisanship. He accepted the hatred of his opponents and pressed on with the people’s business. For the Democrats to try to find common ground with their opponents in such a situation is a fool’s errand. Just as Franklin Delano Roosevelt did the Democrats of today need to press on in the face of hatred and smears and do the people’s business.

The people’s business is to stop throwing away the lives of our young people in the military in Iraq and work, instead on a diplomatic solution. The people’s business is universal health care. The people’s business is a change to our immigration policy to one based on basic human dignity and respect rather than hypocrisy and an unspoken acceptance of a permanent underclass of immigrant workers without rights.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Edwards response to the State of the Union address

I get email. I just received Senator John Edwards' statement in response to President Bush’s State of the Union address.

President Bush’s address tonight was heavy on rhetoric, but light on everything else. The American people said they wanted change and what they got was more of the same - small ideas that won’t make a difference in the lives of working Americans.

They said they wanted straight talk and a vision for the future, what they got was a rationalization for the failed policies of the past.

The next President will have to do more than just undo this President’s mistakes – the next President must offer a vision for fundamental change that will transform America and ensure our greatness in the 21st century.

America needs leaders who will do more than propose half-measures and baby steps; President Bush has left us a legacy of challenges that can only be met with courage, conviction and bold change.

And that change must begin in Iraq. President Bush’s decision to adopt the McCain Doctrine and escalate the war in Iraq is terribly wrong. There is no military solution to this civil war. Instead of increasing the number of troops in Iraq, we should immediately withdraw 40-50,000 troops. In order for the Iraqi people to take responsibility for their country, we must show them that we are serious about leaving, and the best way to do that is to actually start leaving. Since the President refuses to change course, Congress must use its power of the purse and block funding for an escalation of war. Over 80,000 people from across the country have joined me in calling on Congress to stop President Bush’s misguided plan to escalate the war. Congress has the power to stop this escalation - they should use it.

We also need real leadership to address the health care crisis in our country. Since President Bush took office in 2000, the number of uninsured Americans has increased by 8 million. While it is nice that he is finally talking about America’s health care crisis, President Bush’s proposal will do little to help working Americans, and is it unlikely to reduce the number of uninsured because it encourages companies to drop coverage, but does nothing to help people buy their own insurance. President Bush’s proposal offers much more help to a family making $300,000 than one making $30,000. The time for patching up our health care system has ended. We need
universal health care in this country and we need it now.

Finally, America will never break its dependence on foreign oil without bold leadership. After years of catering to the oil industry, President Bush says he is finally ready to take action and curb our dependence on foreign oil. But neither his actions nor his proposals match his rhetoric. The President has the authority now to raise fuel economy standards if he wants to, but the standard has been at 27.5 miles per gallon since 1985. Under his leadership, we are now importing 60 percent of our oil, up from 53 percent in 2000. In order to curb our dependence on foreign oil and address global warming, the United States needs a major investment in energy
innovation, on a scale that this President isn’t talking about. We need to ask Americans to be patriotic about something other than war and involve everyone – government, industry, and individuals – in the solution.

Tonight, the president once again made it clear that we cannot count on him to be honest about our challenges or offer the bold solutions we need to meet them.

But we know that the great power of America lies in the hands of the people of America. If we take responsibility and take action together, we can build a nation lives up to the greatness of America's promise.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Tom Tancredo opposes politicians speaking Spanish

On Friday, Senator Ken Salazar, D-Colorado, delivered a Spanish-language version of the Democrats’ annual State of the Union preview speech at the Capitol in Washington D.C. According to the Rocky Mountain News this did not strike Representative and Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo as a good thing.
"I must admit to you, the first thing that comes to mind is this is the kind of thing that would happen in a bilingual country - for instance, Canada," Tancredo, R- Colorado., said when told of Salazar's plans.

"I've been saying for a long time, we're fast approaching that status: a bilingual country. I don't think that's a good idea. I think it's something that brings us apart, not together."
According to Tom Tancredo, embracing our diversity and multi-culturism divides us while demonizing Americans not fluent in English brings us together. It is not just immigrants and Democrats Tancredo is attacking here. As the Rocky Mountain News helpfully points out, in attacking those who would speak Spanish as part of the political process Tancredo is fighting some in his own party.
Using Spanish is nothing new in politics. Even Tancredo's Republican Party runs a Spanish-language Web site - www. - and Spanish-language television programs to translate the party's message.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Republicans warned that 2008 could be worse than 2006

From a New York Times article by John Broder
Ken Mehlman, the departing chairman of the Republican National Committee, warned on Thursday that his party would suffer even more devastating losses in 2008 than it did in 2006 if it did not reach out to minorities and address voter concerns about ethics.

He said that if Republican officials shrugged off the repudiation of the party in the 2006 elections they would lose the White House in 2008 and remain in the minority in Congress indefinitely. He said the party had to recommit itself to political reform, fiscal restraint and personal ethics.

In good news for Democrats the Republican idea of how to reach out to minorities is to select Senator Mel Martinez of Florida, who emigrated from Cuba as a child, as the party’s new general chairman. There was no mention in the article of any awareness by any Republicans, including those who want to reach out to minorities, that the presidential candidacy of Tom Tancredo, Republican representative from Colorado, will have a much greater negative impact on how Latino voters view Republicans than any positive impact of having Mel Martinez as their general chairman.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Saul in Beijing

I have added a new link to my blog roll - Saul in Beijing. This is my nephew's blog. He is a University of Chicago graduate student doing research for his PhD in China. He has just posted a very interesting post about the Chinese government's censorship of the internet. Show your defiance of censorship and your love of freedom by reading this blog that has been banned by the Chinese government. (Actually Saul's blog was not singled out by the government -- the Chinese government in typically ham-handed fashion has blocked access by everyone in China to all blogspot blogs including Saul's, mine and hundreds of thousand others).

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Democrats rise to Bush's challenge

President Bush has asked those opposing his "Surge" plan for Iraq to come up with alternatives. Jonathan Tasini at The Huffington Post reports on a bill being introduced by 15 Democrats to End the War
At 2 p.m. Eastern today, Lynn Woolsey and Barbara Lee (co-chairs of Progressive caucus, which has roughly 64 members) and Maxine Waters (chair of Out of Iraq Caucus, roughly 74 members) are introducing comprehensive End the War legislation, answering Bush's challenge that Democrats provide alternative proposals. It's called The Bring the Troops Home and Iraq Sovereignty Restoration Act.
While I haven't seen an exact copy of the proposed legislation, I can tell you the basic details of what it will say. It's important for everyone who believes in bringing this war to an end that we get out and blog on the bill--and force the MSM to give this alternative broad coverage.
I understand that initially the co-sponsors will be joined by thirteen others (including Barney Frank, John Conyers, Jim McGovern, Dennis Kucinich, Diane Watson, Maurice Hinchey, Jerry Nadler and Raul Grijalva). Here are the details:
1. The bill fully funds a 6-month withdrawal of US forces and military contractors (from the date of enactment of the bill) from Iraq.
2. It repeals the authorization for the use of force. This is key, in my humble opinion, because it takes away any remaining authority to wage war in Iraq and, hopefully, reestablishes the Congress' power to wage war.
3. It prohibits the building of any permanent military bases in Iraq, which has clearly been the Pentagon's plan.
4. It provides economic and political aid to the Iraqi people and their government. When ever I've written and spoken about this issue, I've been clear that, while the U.S. cannot play any military role in Iraq, we are morally obligated to help rebuild a country out government destroyed.
5. The bill fully funds the VA Health Care system for all military veterans.
6. As I understand it, the bill draws on language from other bills aimed at an exit from war to peace and puts it into a package they hope to rally lawmakers and grassroots behind.

read the entire article

Tom Tancredo enters presidential race

Tom Tancredo, Republican Congressman from Colorado, recently announced that he is running for president. This could a very good thing for the prospects of the Democratic Party. Think about the impact of the growing Hispanic vote, which in the past has been roughly evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, going 85 or 90% for the Democrats, like the African-American vote.

To see why Tom Tancredo running for president might have that effect take a look at the “Cultural Impact” page from his Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus website. Whenever Tancredo talks about the harmful effects of immigration, although the first few sentences refer to illegal immigration, most of what he says applies equally well, like that “Cultural Impact” page, to both legal and illegal immigrants. Although he does not come right out and say it, it is clear from the harmful effects he cites and his preoccupation with the southern border that he thinks Hispanics are a big problem.

If you are not Hispanic the racist undercurrent of everything he says and does may not be immediately obvious, but I can assure you that it is very clear to Hispanics. So as long as he is always clearly identified as a Republican and the other Republicans continue to not denounce him and his views I think increased exposure of his views could be very good for the prospects of the Democratic Party.

Monday, January 15, 2007

"Silence is betrayal. Speak out." - John Edwards

Yesterday John Edwards, Democratic candidate for President, standing at the pulpit at the Riverside Church in Harlem, New York, where Dr. Martin Luther King spoke against the Vietnam War 40 years ago, called on Americans who oppose the war in Iraq to take action.

If you’re in Congress and you know this war is going in the wrong direction, it is no longer enough to study your options and keep your own counsel.

Silence is betrayal. Speak out, and stop this escalation now. You have the power to prohibit the president from spending any money to escalate the war – use it.

And to all of you here today – and the millions like us around the country who know this escalation is wrong – your job is to reject the easy way of apathy and choose instead the hard course of action.

Silence is betrayal. Speak out. Tell your elected leaders to block this misguided plan that is destined to cost more lives and further damage America’s ability to lead. And tell them also, that the reward of trust.

read the entire speech here

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

No More Troops to IRAQ

Hundreds of Emergency Rallies to Stop Escalation in Iraq are being organized around the country for tomorrow night, Thursday Jan. 11, 2007. Here are the details about the one being held in the Quad Cities
53rd Street & Corporate Road, Davenport
4000 E. 53rd Street
11 Jan 04:00 PM
This event is outside. We will be standing peacefully with signs on the south-east corner. Please bring signs and candles in a clear plastic cup...extra signs and candles will be avaliable. Please bring your family and join in solidarity with those whose family members are serving in the war in Iraq. We will line the street with candle lights and join the nation in saying "No More Troops" to Iraq! "Bring Our Troops Home"

Address: 4000 E. 53rd Street
Location: Davenport, IA 52807
Directions: Please join us on the South East Corner of 53rd Street and Corporate Drive Road, in Davenport, by Texas Road House Restaurant. This is East of I-74 at the 53rd Street Exit.
Host: Rachel Griffiths

If you are not in the Quad Cities here is a link to search for a rally near you.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

More than 60 Organizations call for an end to immigration raids

The American Friends Service Committee (a Quaker organization) released the following statement a few days ago.

Philadelphia [January 3] — Calling the workplace raids excessive and inhumane, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), an international social justice organization and co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of Quakers worldwide, and more than 60 organizations and individuals urge the Bush administration to work with Congress to develop fair and rational immigration policies instead.

Citing human rights violations and humanitarian concerns, the organizations call for an immediate end to community and work site raids that target immigrants.

Organized labor, legal, faith-based and civil and immigrants’ rights organizations and individuals across the country are condemning the strong-arm tactics and excessive use of force employed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents during recent raids at Swift meatpacking facilities in six states in mid-December. During the Swift raids, more than 1,200 workers were detained at gunpoint, yet less than 5 percent of these workers actually face criminal charges.

Read the entire statement

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Poll shows Edwards Toughest Against McCain or Giuliani

According to a new Investor Business Daily poll John Edwards does better against either John McCain or Rudy Giuliani than either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.

In a potential presidential matchup, McCain led the former one-term senator from North Carolina and 2004 vice presidential nominee by 44% to 43% but had a more comfortable margin over the two Democratic heavyweights expected to run. New York Sen. Hillary Clinton trailed McCain 48% to 41% while Illinois Sen. Barack Obama was down 48% to 36%.

In a matchup against Giuliani, the former New York mayor, Clinton and Edwards both trailed by 5%, (48%-43% and 47%-42%, respectively) while Obama lagged by 13% (49%-36%). But as in the matchup against McCain, Edwards showed a bit better ability than the former first lady to pull in Republicans and independents.