War Spending: Defying or Just Posturing?

gop-spin-club Defying President Bush, House Democrats are preparing to forge ahead with a war spending measure that would include extended unemployment assistance and new educational benefits for returning veterans.

After a meeting Monday evening of House Democratic leaders, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she hoped to bring a $178 billion measure to the floor this week. What could be a contentious debate on the matter is likely to be held on Thursday, aides said.

Ms. Pelosi, of California, did not disclose details of the proposed bill, which will be presented to rank-and-file Democrats at a closed party session on Tuesday. But Democratic officials, who did not want to be identified since the bill was still being put into final form, said the legislative package would include provisions requiring a significant withdrawal of troops from Iraq by December 2009 and measures that would force Iraq to share more costs of its reconstruction.

Democrats also intend to make veterans eligible for new educational assistance if they have served from three months to three years or more on active duty since Sept. 11, 2001. The aid would be equivalent to a four-year scholarship at a public university for those with three years or more service, with payments prorated for those with less time.

Mr. Bush has steadily insisted he would not approve any legislation that exceeds his spending request for the war, sets any withdrawal deadlines or adds domestic money he opposes like the unemployment benefits. And House Republicans, angry that the measure is not going through formal committee consideration, began on Monday to open procedural attacks on the House floor in protest, forcing extra votes on noncontroversial measures.

“The Democrat leaders of the House and Senate are attempting to jam a 200-plus-billion-dollar spending bill through the Congress with absolutely no oversight or scrutiny by a vast majority of members, senators or their constituents,” Representative Jerry Lewis of California, the senior Republican on the Appropriations Committee, said in a statement on Monday. “Never in my 30 years in Congress has there been such an abuse of the processes and rules of the House.”

Democrats said privately that they expected the provisions setting a withdrawal deadline and putting other conditions on the war money to be eliminated by the Senate before a final House vote later this spring… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <NY Times>

Impeach Of course there is no way this bill can ever get through the automatic GOP filibuster in the Senate.  Nevertheless it’s still a good idea, because it gives GOP Senators a choice to actually do something for America or come down solidly against the unemployed and veterans in the height of election season.

Representative Jerry Lewis needs help for his comedy routine from his side-kick, Dean Martin.  Throughout the GOP dominated 109th, no bill made it to committee without having first been approved by a majority of the House Repuglicans.

Think how much better it would have been if the Democratic majority in the House had wasted time with impeachment hearings instead of with posturing!


Gordon Smith: Protest in His Home Town

Smith-Gordon As Part Of Statewide Protests, Oregonians In Smith’s Hometown Protest His Corporate Sponsored Opposition To Climate Change Bill

Gordon Smith has become a vending machine for votes. Special interests insert money and Gordon Smith produces any vote they want.

Following earlier protests in Eugene and Medford, Oregonians in Pendleton, U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith’s (R-OR) hometown, demanded that Smith stand up to his corporate donors and stop opposing important climate change legislation.

Oregon cannot afford to have a senator whose special interest contributors have bought his opposition to fixing climate change,” said Ben Talley, Pendleton area organizer for the Stop Gordon Smith Campaign. “We can’t let Gordon Smith get away with serving the corporate interests rather than the people’s interests.”

“Why doesn’t Gordon Smith think Climate Change is a problem? Because he’s paid to ignore this crisis,” Talley said. “Smith has taken millions from Big Oil and other special interests who control his votes. In return, Smith has voted twice to keep $5 billion in tax breaks for Big Oil and oppose important climate change legislation.”

Smith’s donors have bought his opposition to the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act. Oregon’s other U.S. Senator, Democrat Ron Wyden, is a co-sponsor of the bill to combat climate change and the bill has bi-partisan support.

But Smith won’t support this important legislation. Smith has taken millions of dollars from the special interests who oppose this legislation, including hundreds of thousands from Big Oil…

…The bill would be an important step in combating climate change. It would cap greenhouse emissions and make appliances and buildings more energy efficient, according to The Register-Guard.

(The Register-Guard Editorial, 2-28-08)

The Eugene, Medford and Pendleton protests were held outside Smith’s offices. They were organized by the Stop Gordon Smith Campaign.

Goose-stepping Gordon does NOT represent Oregon!  Whether Novick, whom I support, or Merkely wins the Democratic nomination for Senator from Oregon, Gordon’s got to go!

For our Spanish-speaking Friends

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is a date of great importance for the Mexican and Chicano communities. It marks the

victory of the Mexican Army over the French at the Battle of Puebla. Althought the Mexican army was eventually defeated, the “Batalla de Puebla” came to represent a symbol of Mexican unity and patriotism. With this victory, Mexico demonstrated to the world that Mexico and all of Latin America were willing to defend themselves of any foreign intervention. Especially those from imperialist states bent on world conquest…

…In the United States, the “Batalla de Puebla” came to be known as simply “5 de Mayo” and unfortunately, many people wrongly equate it with Mexican Independence which was on September 16, 1810, nearly a fifty year difference. Over, the years Cinco de Mayo has become very commercialized and many people see this holiday as a time for fun and dance. Oddly enough, Cinco de Mayo has become more of Chicano holiday than a Mexican one. Cinco de Mayo is celebrated on a much larger scale here in the United States than it is in Mexico. People of Mexican descent in the United States celebrate this significant day by having parades, mariachi music, folklorico dancing and other types of festive activities.

Inserted from <UCLA>

I think it important that we recognize and embrace others’ cultures.

All articles cross-posted from Politics Plus

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GOP Would Kill Planet to Protect Big Oil Profits

bigoil2 Listen to almost any politician, President Bush included, and you’ll hear that the fight against global warming cannot be won without cleaner technologies that will ease dependence on fossil fuels. Yet these same politicians are on the verge of allowing modest but vital tax credits to expire that are crucial to the future of renewable energy sources like wind and solar power.

These credits are necessary to attract new investment in renewable sources until they become competitive with cheaper, dirtier fuels like coal. When the credits disappear, investments shrivel. The production tax credit for wind energy has been allowed to expire three times. In each case, new investment dropped by more than 70 percent. The credits for wind and solar expire at the end of this year, so action now is important.

Though there is plenty of blame to go around, Mr. Bush and Senate Republicans bear a heavy burden. The House approved, as part of last year’s energy bill, a multiyear extension of the credits, while insisting — under its pay-as-you-go rules — that they be offset by rescinding an equivalent amount in tax credits for the oil companies. The oil companies (though rolling in profits) screamed, Mr. Bush lofted veto threats, and the Senate, by a one-vote margin, refused to go along.

Senator John McCain — who is far ahead of his party on climate change — missed that crucial vote. He could be a hero if he now rode in off the campaign trail and corralled the Republican votes needed to extend the tax credits; his vote alone might be enough.

The Senate is still trying — but not hard enough. Three weeks ago, it approved a bipartisan measure that would authorize a one-year extension of the production tax credit for wind and a multiyear extension of the investment tax credit for solar power.

With other bells and whistles, it would cost $6 billion. The bill still does not rescind any oil company tax credits, so it does not meet the House’s legitimate demand for offsets. Like the House, we believe strongly that Congress must pay as it goes.

So the burden remains with the Senate. And the choice for the senators, in particular the Republicans, is simply this: They can extract a few billion dollars from the ridiculously rich oil companies (Exxon alone made more than $40 billion last year), or they must explain to the American people why protecting the oil companies is more important than protecting the planet. [emphasis added]

Inserted from <NY Times>

We can always count on the GOP to filibuster any measure that favors the interests of the American people over those of greedy corporations.  The Times did a good job with this, except for one thing.  Their claim that McConJob is far ahead of the rest of his party on this issue just does not hold water.

mccain2 …But since he started running for president last year, McCain has largely downplayed climate change. He hasn’t declared support for a tougher and more detailed bill, proposed by Senators John Warner and McCain ally Joe Lieberman. And his top domestic policy recently suggested that McCain might not even stand by his own weaker bill, telling a reporter: “He wasn’t so much committed to the bill as to an issue.”

Most important, McCain has not made global warming a rhetorical priority. Since he began his White House run, he hasn’t given a single speech that we’re aware of devoted to the issue, or released an ad that mentions it in any detail. In general, McCain has based his pitch to voters, both before and after clinching the GOP nomination, on his personal biography, his national-security experience (particularly his support for the troop surge in Iraq), and his straight-talking persona. No fair assessment could conclude that global warming, or any other environmental issue, has been “central” to McCain’s campaign… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <CJR>

Were the environment a concern, he would have returned to Washington to vote on that bill.  On the environment, as on virtually every other issue, except 100 years of war, more wars, and bomb bomb Iran, McFlipFlop is squarely positioned on both sides of the issue, attempting to cover-up that he is McSame as Bush.

No Evidence of Iranian Support for Militias

Bush-Iran Iraq said on Sunday it has no evidence that Iran was supplying militias engaged in fierce street fighting with security forces in Baghdad.

Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said there was no “hard evidence” of involvement by the neighbouring Shiite government of Iran in backing Shiite militiamen in the embattled country.

Asked about reports that weapons captured from Shiite fighters bore 2008 markings suggesting Iranian involvement, Dabbagh said: “We don’t have that kind of evidence… If there is hard evidence we will defend the country.”

Dabbagh said an Iraqi parliamentary delegation which visited Iran last week had useful discussions with authorities there and secured assurances of support and understanding of the crisis… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Yahoo News>

Bush, McBoomBoom and the GOP are fixing the intelligence around the policy, again.  They are trying to deceive the US public around the war.  Iran’s recent Nobel Laureate has a great take on this:

5Shirin Ebadi Shirin Ebadi wants Americans to do what they can to stop the Bush administration’s threats to bomb Iran as punishment for presumably making nuclear weapons.

“Nuclear weapons are not a daily concern of the people,” said Ebadi. “They want jobs; they want houses; they want health; they want more freedom.”

However, she predicted that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would whip up nationalistic support if Iran were forced into a face-off with the United States, just as it did when Saddam Hussein invaded Iran in 1980. The invasion resulted in an eight-year war between the two countries.

Iranians may criticize their government, but if there is a military attack on Iran, they will defend their own country,” she said. “A government that is in danger from the outside will take any chance to accelerate nationalism inside the country.”

The lawyer, writer, teacher and former judge, became the first Muslim woman and first Iranian to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for her efforts to promote democracy and human rights in Iran… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Common Dreams>

She makes an excellent point.  The more militant the US position on Iran, the less likelihood that more progressive Iranians can effect reforms within their country.  The McBoomBoom policy is McSame as the Bush policy: Bomb, bomb Iran.

In Memory of Heroes

4KentState Kent State University will commemorate the 38th anniversary of the May 4 shootings this weekend with movies, poetry readings, a march and a ceremony, all concentrating on the question, “Where does it end?”

On May 4, 1970, members of the Ohio National Guard opened fire on Kent students protesting the Vietnam War. Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer and William Schroeder were killed; nine others were injured.

This year, a poem Miller wrote in high school, in 1966, provides the commemoration’s theme, “Where does it end?”…

Inserted from <Cleveland.com>

This tragedy occurred just a few months after I dropped out of SDS, because would not support the violent tactics the organization had adopted. I was, and remain, a believer in the nonviolence of Thoreau, Gandhi and King. While I disagree with the tactics employed by the demonstrators at Kent State and consider their destruction of property misguided, I understand the frustration they felt and admire their commitment. This was not the first time police or guardsmen had killed demonstrators. I saw it myself in Chicago (1968) and Washington, DC (1969). But it was the first time it was so obvious that the government could not cover it up. Regardless of misguided tactics, remember these four as the heroes they were, because they stood up to power and paid the ultimate price. I leave you with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

All articles cross-posted from Politics Plus

Primary Report: 5/4

The saga continued yesterday with a tight race in Guam:

4guam Democrat Barack Obama beat rival Hillary Clinton by just seven votes in Guam’s nominating contest after record numbers of residents voted in the tiny U.S. territory’s primary, officials said on Sunday.

Results after more than 12 hours of manual counting showed Obama took 2,264 votes to 2,257 for Clinton. In the last Democratic primary in 2004 only 1,500 people took part.

“Clearly, both of them are quite popular and we should celebrate that,” Josh Tenorio, Obama’s campaign manager on the territory told Reuters. “It’s a good day for Guam.”

With only four votes at the Democratic convention at stake, the contest on Guam, a Pacific island more than 20 hours by plane from Washington, will barely register in the protracted duel for the party’s presidential ticket…

Inserted from <IHT>

That should split those delegates evenly.

The real action comes on Tuesday, May 6, with important primaries in Indiana, with 84 delegates at stake, and North Carolina, with 134 delegates at stake.  At present, Clinton has a comfortable lead in Indiana and Obama, a formidable lead in North Carolina.  Both states award delegated proportionally by district.  I chose polls for both states that are a week or less old.

Indiana Clinton Obama
Zogby 42% 42%
Rasmussen 46% 41%
Downs 52% 45%
Public Policy 50% 42%
TeleResearch 48% 38%
Average 48% 42%
North Carolina Clinton Obama
Zogby 34% 50%
Rasmussen 40% 49%
Insider Advantage 44% 49%
NBC 17 44% 51%
WRAL 42% 49%
ARG 42% 52%
Public Policy 39% 51%
SurveyUSA 44% 49%
Average 41% 50%

The current delegate count is:

Pledged Super Total Pledged Super Total
Clinton 1334 265 1599 47.2% 52.2% 47.9%
Obama 1493 243 1736 52.8% 47.8% 52.1%
Total 2827 508 3335

4clinton-obama Since I last reported, Clinton had increased her total by 43 delegates, and Obama, by by 42, giving Clinton a net gain of one delegate.

If the polls are accurate, Clinton should gain 45 delegates to Obama’s 39 in Indiana, while Obama should gain 74 delegates to Clinton’s 60 in North Carolina.  That would give Obama 113 delegates to Clinton’s 105, an net gain of 8 delegates for Obama, increasing his lead to 145 delegates.  While polls are not always accurate predictors, I don’t see any major surprised coming in either contest.

With only nine primaries left after this one, all fairly closely contested, and none with more than 65 delegates, I do not see how Clinton can catch Obama before the convention in delegates, popular vote, or states won, before the convention, so the only way that Clinton can win the nomination is for enough of the remaining uncommitted super delegates to overrule the voters.  I am not stating a preference for either candidate, but I stand my statement in January that voters, not party insiders, should determine the nominee