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!

Pass the Fair Pay Act

23fairpay Last year, the Supreme Court tossed aside longstanding legal precedents and government practice to make it much harder for an employee to sue over unlawful pay discrimination.

The 5-to-4 ruling came in the case of Lilly Ledbetter, a supervisor at a Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company plant in Alabama, who over several years received smaller raises than men in comparable positions. A jury found that Goodyear violated Ms. Ledbetter’s rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

But a majority of the Supreme Court decided she was entitled to nothing based on a cramped view of the 180-day deadline for filing such claims. They decided that Ms. Ledbetter had to sue within 180 days of the company’s discriminatory raises and that the persistence of unfairness from check to check was not relevant.

Fortunately, the Senate is scheduled to consider a modest bill on Wednesday that is aimed at restoring the original intent of the law. It poses a test of each senator’s commitment to combating pay discrimination.

Sponsored by Senators Edward Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, the bill would re-establish that the deadline for making a charge of pay discrimination under Title VII runs from when a worker receives unequal pay, not from the day a company first decided to discriminate, as the Supreme Court wrongly insisted.

Many employers keep salaries and raises confidential, as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg aptly noted in her dissent in the Ledbetter case. By making it clear that the 180-day clock restarts with each discriminatory paycheck, the act avoids rewarding employers that obscure lower raises given on the basis of such considerations as gender or race… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <NY Times>

mccain-no I fully support this legislation that illustrates two key points.  First, the time is way past due for women to receive equal pay for equal work.  As things stand, women in the workforce receive 60%, on average, of what do.  That’s obscene.  Second, the Supreme Court has become so skewed to the extreme right that they had to fit their heads all the way up their nether regions to come up with such an ideologue decision.  McConJob had promised to appoint ‘strict constructionists’ to SCOTUS, justices who share the extreme ideology of Roberts, Alito, Scalia, and Thomas.  If this happens, say goodbye to the Constitution.  It really will be ‘just a piece of paper‘, if he is not defeated in November.

More Military Waivers for Felons

22army …Recruits were allowed to enlist after having been convicted of crimes including assault, burglary, drug possession and making terrorist threats.

The statistics were released by Rep. Henry Waxman, a California Democrat who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

He has given the Pentagon a month to hand over up-to-date details on the number of waivers granted, reports on how the recruits have performed and information about how the waivers are related to meeting recruitment goals.

Pentagon statistics show the Army granted 511 felony waivers in 2007, just over twice the 249 it granted the year before. The Army aims to recruit more than 80,000 new soldiers a year.

The Marines — which recruits fewer new service members each year than the Army — also reported a rise in waivers for felonies, with 350 granted in 2007, compared with 208 in 2006.

“There was a rapid rise in 2007 in the number of waivers the Army and Marine Corps granted to recruits convicted of serious felonies,” Waxman said in a letter Monday to David Chu, the under-secretary of defense for personnel and readiness.

“I understand that there can be valid reasons for personnel waivers and recognize the importance of providing opportunities to individuals who have served their sentences and rehabilitated themselves.

“At the same time, concerns have been raised that the significant increase in the recruitment of persons with criminal records is a result of the strain put on the military by the Iraq war and may be undermining military readiness,” he charged… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <CNN>

Because I work with prisoners, you know that I’m all for giving people a second chance, but I doubt that a second chance has anything to do with this at all.  Instead, it reflects the desperation of Bush, McConJob and the GOP for cannon fodder to grind-up in their failed war for oil and conquest.  A war zone is NOT an place to put people with documented issues with coping skills.

Worse Than Watergate

Keith Olbermann and John Dean explore the civil contempt of Congress suit against Harriet Miers and Josh Bolton and comment Bush’s crimes.

Cross-posted from Politics Plus

Bush Admits to Approving Torture

impeach-bush-poster President Bush says he knew his top national security advisers discussed and approved specific details about how high-value al Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the Central Intelligence Agency, according to an exclusive interview with ABC News Friday.

“Well, we started to connect the dots in order to protect the American people.” Bush told ABC News White House correspondent Martha Raddatz. “And yes, I’m aware our national security team met on this issue. And I approved.”

As first reported by ABC News Wednesday, the most senior Bush administration officials repeatedly discussed and approved specific details of exactly how high-value al Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the CIA.

The high-level discussions about these “enhanced interrogation techniques” were so detailed, these sources said, some of the interrogation sessions were almost choreographed — down to the number of times CIA agents could use a specific tactic.

These top advisers signed off on how the CIA would interrogate top al Qaeda suspects — whether they would be slapped, pushed, deprived of sleep or subjected to simulated drowning, called waterboarding, sources told ABC news… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <ABC>

The GOP spin on this is that Bush is not responsible, because he was insulated from the details of what was being discussed. From there, they will fall back on their flawed position that anything the President does is legal by definition, changing their tune considerably from when they impeached Clinton for lying about a BJ. This is a direct admission that he committed a high crime, and failure to impeach on this basis is congressional dereliction.

Cross-posted from Politics Plus

The Toy General and the Crock

9betcrock Gen. David Petraeus dashed hopes Tuesday that the U.S. could start significant troop withdrawals from Iraq any time soon, drawing the ire of legislators as he suggested that there would still be 100,000 troops there until the end of the Bush administration.

Seven months after telling Congress that he would offer a plan for reducing the troop presence, the general instead recommended a halt in troop withdrawals after roughly 30,000 troops sent as part of a buildup leave this summer, followed by at least 45 days to consider any further pullbacks. The situation, he said, was too tenuous to do more than that.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was among the Democrats who decried Petraeus’ recommendation as an open-ended commitment. Meanwhile, many Republican senators countered that a precipitous drawdown would undercut the gains from the U.S. troop buildup…

…Under questioning, Petraeus said there was “no mathematical equation” for withdrawing troops, and he repeatedly called the situation “fragile and reversible.”…

But they also were forced to acknowledge that the flawed Iraqi-led offensive in the mostly Shiite city of Basra showed that the Shiite-dominated south is on the precipice of an intra-sectarian war.

The Iraqi military all but collapsed within days of fighting rebel groups there, quashing hopes that the forces could soon take over security of their communities.

Moreover, violence has been rising in the capital. Twelve U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq since Sunday, most of them in Baghdad province. And civilian deaths in Baghdad are rising, from 172 in February to 211 in March, according to statistics compiled by McClatchy… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Seattle Times>

In a nutshell, the position put forward by Petraeus and Crocker is that they could not predict when we could withdraw troops and they could not even define a set of conditions under which troops could be withdrawn. It was a statement that they don’t know what it is, but they will know it when they see it. I think they were afraid to set parameters, because every time they have, they’ve had to return with a new line of BS.

They claimed that our most powerful enemy in Iraq is Al Qaeda and also claimed to have cut AQI’s resources in Iraq by nearly 90%. That is pure bull. When we invaded there was no AQI. A handful of local Sunni insurgents declared allegiance and receives support from some foreign fighters. At their strongest AQI never had more that 3,000 to 5,000 fighters. Their strength remains about the same today. But let’s assume, for the sake of argument only, that AQI is 90% wiped out. If that is true, the betrayer and the crock are claiming that a force of 300 – 500 guys is the most powerful enemy we face there. BEEP! BEEP!! BEEP!!! Listen to the sound of the Ka-shit detector going off.

They also claimed that Maliki was going after armed criminal groups when he struck Basra. I documented thoroughly HERE that Maliki was really going after Al Sadr because of the upcoming elections. They downplayed the failure and tried to paint it as a political success. They also tried to connect it to Iran. While it is true that all the Shia militia’s receive support from Iran, they failed to note that the one that receives the most Iranian support is the Badr Brigade, the militia connected to Maliki’s party. It was completely disingenuous for the betrayer and the crock to try to identify Al Sadr with Iranian influence, when Al Sadr is a nationalist, and Iran has more influence on Maliki.

Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were more low key that I would have liked. Both stated support for a responsible, not precipitous, withdrawal. Both asked relevant questions. Neither really went after Petraeus and Crocker. Senator Feingold and McCaskill did much better.

Representing the Reich, Joe LIEberman was the most extreme.

9liebermanworships …But Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) thinks that all too much emphasis has been put on the caveats. Clearly criticizing the questioning by Democrats today, Lieberman said that “there’s a kind of hear no progress in Iraq, see no progress in Iraq, and most of all, speak of no progress in Iraq.”

Lieberman, at least, sees no harm in overstating the progress in Iraq: “The Iraqi political leadership has achieved a lot more political reconciliation and progress since September than the American political leadership has.”

Finally, he seemed to indicate that if only Democrats would accept the clear success of the surge, we “can move to more success so we can bring more of our troops home.”… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <TPM>

Has he been drinking the Kool-Aid or what? Note the picture of LIEberman at worship.

Then there was McBoomBoom. Here’s part of what he had to say:

mccain2 …Because the U.S. did not “choose to retreat,” we now have a successful strategy in Iraq, the surge. And although “much more needs to be done… today it is possible to talk with real hope and optimism about the future of Iraq…. Success is within reach.”

If we pull out, he said, Iraq might descend into genocide and become a haven for terrorists and even “draw us into a far more costly war” as a result. “Congress must not choose to lose in Iraq,” he concluded, we “should choose instead to succeed.”… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <TPM>

As usual, McBoomBoom remained clueless about what is going on there.

mccain3 During today’s hearing with Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) questioned Petraeus on what he called “the major threat” of al Qaeda in Iraq. Coming on the heels of his recent confusion over the nature of al Qaeda, McCain today seemed to refer to al Qaeda as a “sect of Shi’ites”:

MCCAIN: Do you still view al Qaeda in Iraq as a major threat?

PETRAEUS: It is still a major threat, though it is certainly not as major a threat as it was say 15 months ago.

MCCAIN: Certainly not an obscure sect of the Shi’ites overall?

PETREAUS: No.

… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Think Progress>

Earth to McBoomBoom! Hello? Is anyone home? Al Qaeda is still Sunni!!

All in all, this was quite a show. Someone else did an excellent review of this BS session and I’ll close by sharing that with you. Here is Keith Olbermann.

And here is part 2:

Cross-posted from Politics Plus

Action Alert: Stop Bad Judges

Dear Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee,

President Bush has already placed nearly 300 judges on the federal courts, many of them controversial, including two Supreme Court justices. You have the ability to invoke a longstanding Senate practice of ending the consideration of controversial nominees in the months before a presidential election, and it’s time to do it.

Please do not take chances with my rights and the rights of all Americans by risking more lifetime appointments of judges who could undermine those rights for decades to come.

Sincerely,

You

I signed it. I encourage you to do so as well. Click HERE.

Cross-posted from Politics Plus