Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Catching up; John Kerry's media blitz
my time has been rather stretched.
I am back now but just blown away by all the activity on my political radar over the last week. While I was gone, Light Up the Darkness, The John Kerry Group at DU, and DemBloggers were my lifelines for the limited time I could log on each day.
While the sites just mentioned have certainly covered it thoroughly, I wanted to just sum up one of the most important series of events of the last 48 hours: John Kerry's multi-pronged offensive to rebut Bush's attempted spin on the Iraq situation, on the anniversary of the official handover of power from the CPA to the interim Iraqi government.
John Kerry played the Bush marketing ploy of last night quite well, considering that it seems the sitting president will get ALL the media coverage and the guy who only got 48% (if you trust Diebold, Triad, and ES&S) will get zip unless he fights for every inch. Well our guy did fight and we got:
- a New York Times op-ed prebuttal - The Speech the President Should Give (pdf);
- an email to his supporter list describing similar points as the NY Times op-ed;
- a nice write-up in the Salon War Room;
- a Senate floor prebuttal (mp3 audio) | Transcript (as prepared);
- resulting in coverage on network newscasts;
- a Larry King appearance;
- a Today show appearance this morning;
- and a statement released on his Senate website: Rescuing the mission in Iraq takes more than a new speech, it will take a new policy.
Not only did JK stand strong for us yesterday, so did Pelosi, Reid, Biden... and I'm sure more that I didn't hear about.
All in all, yesterday and today have been great days to be a Democrat. At least, relatively speaking, considering that none of it will stop our nation's downward spiral in the clutches of the pretenders until at least January 2007. But this kind of work from our Democratic leaders will certainly help slow the bad stuff down, and maybe even enlighten some of those Americans who still haven't figured out what they lost on November 2, 2004.
Thursday, June 23, 2005
Waxman: "A remarkable contrast"
In his opening statement, Henry Waxman notes that the House has essentially ignored its responsibility to investigate the causes of the abuse and the responsibility up the chain of command:
I haven't been able to locate a full transcript of all the remarks made during the press conference, nor any print reporting on the following comment by Waxman, which I thought was the strongest of all; so I transcribed the following myself from the CSPAN video (this was part of a response to a press question):
A remarkable contrast, indeed.
CSPAN video of press conference (note this link will most likely only work for about two weeks) - Waxman's "140 vs 5" remark starts at 17:40
Henry Waxman's opening statement as prepared
Nancy Pelosi's opening statement as prepared
Thomas information on H.R.3003, Waxman's Resolution "To establish an independent Commission to investigate detainee abuses."
Committee on Government Reform, Minority Office website (Henry Waxman is Ranking Member on this House Committee)
Monday, June 20, 2005
Vacation Time and a Song for the Day
And pain inside your heart
So many things have come and torn your world apart
Oh baby, baby, baby, don't give up, don't give up
don't give up
If you want love
If you want love, you've got to give a little
If you want love
If you want faith, you just believe a little
If you want love
If you want peace, turn your cheek a little
Ohhh, you've got to give
You've got to give
You've got to give.....to live
An empty hand reaching out for someone
An empty heart takes so little to fill
It's so much easier to push instead of pull
Oh baby, baby, baby
Don't give up, don't give up, don't give up
If you want love
If you want love, you've got to give a little
If you want love
If you want faith, you just believe a little
If you want love
If you want peace, turn your cheek a little
Ohhh, you've got to give
You've got to give
You've got to give....to live
Each man's a country in his own right
Oh, every body needs a friend
One friend, one God, one country
No man need defend
I believe in fate and destination
But so much of that lies in our own hands
If you know what you want, just go on out and get it
Oh baby, baby
Don't give up, don't give up
If you want love
If you want love, you've got to give a little
If you want love
If you want faith, you just believe a little
If you want love
If you want peace, turn your cheek a little
You want love
You've got to give
If you want love
Give to live
You've got to give to live
Give to live
Give to live
If you want love.....
You've got to give.....
Have a great week, my friends. Here's wishing you love, faith, and peace; and never surrender.
Friday, June 17, 2005
Harry Reid on Bolton and DSM
On Thursday, June 16th, Harry Reid added his voice to those Senators who have spoken out regarding the Downing Street Minutes (aka Downing Street Memo); drawing the connection between the information the Democrats have requested on John Bolton before allowing a vote on his nomination; and the implication by the DSM that intelligence was "hyped" to create the justification for the Iraq War.
From the Congressional Record, pp. S6670-S6671, which can be retrieved here by entering the page number.
The questions about Bolton:
Summarized: Dems are interested in two key questions about John Bolton:
- Did Mr. Bolton attempt to exaggerate what Congress and the American people would be told about Syria's alleged weapons of mass destruction capabilities?
- ...did Mr. Bolton use or maybe perhaps misuse highly classified intelligence intercepts to spy on bureaucratic rivals who disagreed with his views or for other inappropriate purposes?
Why is the DSM relevant to the questions surrounding Bolton's nomination:
U.S. troops are fighting in Iraq today largely because this administration told the Congress and the American people that Iraq not only possessed stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction but was also capable of using them against us and our allies.
U.S. troops are fighting in Iraq today. In the last 48 hours, 11 American soldiers have been killed. During that same period of time, I do not know the exact count, but well over 100 Iraqis have been killed. During that same 48-hour period, I do not know how many American soldiers have been grievously injured. I have no idea how many Iraqis have been paralyzed, blinded, or lost limbs. It is serious.
But we have learned since the war that the administration's own investigator concluded Iraq did not possess either the stockpiles or the means of delivery. Just as importantly, there are a series of unanswered questions about whether senior officials in this administration dramatically and intentionally hyped this threat to justify their desire to invade Iraq. So one can see why we believe it is no small matter for us to learn whether Mr. Bolton was a party to other efforts to hype intelligence.
Good job, Senator Reid!
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Dem Senators: Sign Kerry's letter!
Raw Story informs us that there is definitely a letter being passed around the Senate for signatures: Kerry confidantes say senator is seeking others to cosign letter on Downing minutes.
From the article:
"Kerry has been enlisting other senators to sign onto a letter to the intelligence committee seeking answers to the Downing Street memo," said one, "so Americans can trust that security decisions are driven by facts and responsible intelligence, not by political calculation."
The reactions from the Massachusetts senators come after action in the House. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) penned a response to the Downing Street minutes five days after it leaked to the British Sunday Times, demanding that President Bush answer new questions about the contents of the secret document.
Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), who signed Conyers letter, told RAW STORY the missive is part of a plan to "keep agitating the public" and to convince more Republicans and Democrats in Congress to act in response to the Downing Street minutes.
The Raw Story article follows a similar report in Tuesday's Washington Post, "Democrats Looking for a Road Map to Downing Street":
Some in blogworld have observed that it's been 2 weeks since Senator Kerry promised to "raise the issue"; and seem to want to know, what's taking so long? Well, the good news is that the story seems to only be getting stronger every day, judging by the steady increase in Google News hits that I get on the query "Downing Street Memo." I posted my take on it earlier on Booman Tribune:
drip... drip... drip...
And as Pamela at LUTD observes,
With John Kerry, silence does not mean he has been inactive. Au Contraire... John Kerry has been doing what John Kerry does best... following through in a pragmatic manner on this issue to actually get something achieved.
In addition, John Kerry has had a full schedule in the past week, one set not by Democrats but by the Republicans who control the Senate.
Pamela's post then links to previous posts on several of the initiatives the Senator has been working on just these last few days; I also posted a summary for the impatient ones a few days ago. And apparently Raw Story missed the second media teaser that Kerry sent out, last Tuesday (hmmm...weekly reminders, near the beginning of the news cycle each week? We're learning.)
So, the bottom line is: Kerry promised to raise the issue, he evidently has raised the issue, but to raise it to where everybody wants it - a formal investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee - he needs some othe Senators to back him up.
That's where we come in. Contact your Senators - today. Ask them to SIGN Senator Kerry's letter. And tell him, I've got your back on this, Senator!
Monday, June 13, 2005
Aidan Delgado: "We're exactly the same"
From Alternet, War makes beasts of men:
I watched the video and was most struck by Delgado's description of his awakening:
I'd been a Buddhist for almost two years before I arrived at this point, in the Iraq War. But my spirituality, like most people's spirituality, was just kind of on the back burner, something you don't really think about, you don't really act on. But being in Iraq forced me to take a moral stand and to decide whether I was going to be a person who sits back and thinks about Buddhism or whether I'm going to be someone who makes it a statement publicly and actively chooses to uphold their beliefs.
The recognition of our common circumstances with our supposed foe, makes it difficult for a moral person to continue fighting them. This is why in war after war it is necessary for the military culture to dehumanize the "enemy", with words like "gook", "charlie" or in Iraq, "haji":
As you can probably imagine, Delgado's speaking out has drawn the ire of the "soldiers can do no wrong" crowd. They claim that by speaking out, he is somehow shaming all the troops who serve in Iraq. But these are the same reality-deniers who claimed that the atrocities revealed in the Winter Soldier investigations of the Vietnam era "never happened." I wasn't, but I've spoken to people who were in Vietnam. And I can tell you - it happened. Perhaps not exactly as described - peoples' memories play tricks - but the essential facts are indisputable, despite the deniers. But, I don't blame the troops. It's not the troops that create the situation where they know no other response to the problem of daily survival. It's not the troops that create the culture that aims to dehumanize the "other." It's the leaders who set the stage and provide the props.
I have a nephew who will probably serve in Iraq. He is an MP in the Army Reserves. Just as much as I fear for his physical safety, I fear for his soul. I only hope that he will open his eyes and see, "We're exactly the same." And have the courage to live by his convictions, and preserve his honor. Then I know he'll be okay; whether he chooses to lay down his arms as Delgado did, or instead walks the difficult path of using those arms with restraint and responsibility at all times.
In Good Conscience: An Interview with Concientious Objector Aidan Delgado By Scott Fleming, Counterpunch.
On Abu Ghraib: One sergeant's courage a model for US leaders, By John Shattuck, Christian Science Monitor, May 16 2005 edition.
The Abu Ghraib Supplementary Documents
Friday, June 10, 2005
Study: Rate of U.S. entrepreneurship is falling
NPR's Marketplace Morning Report this morning (6:50 EDT rendition) reported a recent study that found entrepreneurship is down significantly in the U.S. from 2003 - 2004. The study found the number of persons starting new businesses in America dropped by 4 million in 2004, to about 18 million from about 22 million in 2003.
The study, Entrepreneurship in the U.S.: 2004 Assessment, was conducted by Paul Reynolds of Florida International University and can be downloaded from the Entrepreneurship Research Institute website.
An excerpt from the Executive Overview of the report:
- Evidence of a substantial rise in U.S. activity from 1993-2000, and a subsequent decline through 2004.
- In the year 2000, about 23 million between 18-74 years of age were actively engaged in a start-up or new firm management; this declined to about 18 million in 2004.
- There has been a statistically significant drop in activity of 20% from 2003 to 2004; representing a one-year reduction of 4 million involved in the entrepreneurial process.
- This decline in participation is concentrated among young adult men and women, 18-34 years of age, and mid-career men, 35-54 years of age.
- This decline is associated with a less positive personal context for entrepreneurship among these gender-age specific groups.
Section B of the report, "Changes over time", includes the following observations:
- a doubling in business start-ups from 1993-1998/1999
- a further 80% increase in start-ups from 1999-2001
- a decline - possibly as much as 28% - in start-ups from 2001-2004
Who says the Bush administration is good for business? Didn't the Bush Administration try to blame the recession of 2001 on Clinton; then say that the recession was over rather quickly? If the recession ended so quickly, why such a dampening of entrepreneurship?
The graphs in the report also show that while the overall trend from 2001-2004 has been down, there was a small spike in activity in 2003, but that was followed by a dive from 2003 - 2004. I am not an economist, but I am not thrilled by the picture these numbers paint.
The "Changes Over Time" section of the report further noted, in analysis of surveying potential causes for the decline, that
Given the importance of small businesses and entrepreneurship to the U.S. economy, and the American values of opportunity, independence, and self-determination, one might think that the President would express deep concern and take serious action to address the decline in entrepreneurship shown by this study. However, during his administration, George W. Bush has shown himself to be anything but a friend to small business. For example, refer to the statement (pdf) by Senator John Kerry, ranking member of the Senate Small Business Committee, on the Bush Administration's proposed 2006 budget for the Small Business Administration. Senator Kerry notes that
- The proposed 2006 budget of 593 million for the SBA is 12.5% less than the amount requested in the FY2005 budget; and 20% less than the actual FY2005 appropriations.
- "According to the President's FY2005 budget, over four years, the cumulative reduction in SBA's resources amounted to a 25-percent cut, the most of all 26 agencies. The next most cut were the Corps of Engineers at 15 percent and the Department of Transportation at 8.3 percent."
- The next paragraph explains that Senator Kerry had to dig for that comparison data, because in the FY2006 budget's comparison of impacts on major agencies, the SBA was merged into the category "Other Agencies" - as Sen. Kerry concludes, "essentially downgraded from the staus of a 'major Agency'."
In a press release regarding the removal in conference committee of an amendment to the FY2006 budget that would have restored much of the SBA funding, Sen. Kerry noted "Since 2001, the SBA’s budget has been cut by 36 percent, more than any other federal agency." Other recent Bush Administration assaults on small business include gutting the LowDoc program, a program that streamlines the loan process and is particularly helpful for rural loan-seekers.
It is clear from this record that the Bush Administration and the Republicans in Congress are not particularly interested in encouraging small business and entrepreneurship. In fact, if the study reported by NPR this morning and detailed above is correct that "those at the 'entrepreneurially predisposed' stages of their work career are very sensitive to slight shifts in the opportunity structures in their immediate personal environment", then cuts to the SBA which reduce opportunities will further reduce entrepreneurship in America. And as Paul Reynolds, the study's author, stated on the NPR program this morning, "if it declines that much in 2005 [as it did from 2003-3004], I think the country has a problem."
On the other hand - and I can't say it enough - John Kerry "gets it" that enabling small business and entrepreneurship is essential to core American values of independence and self-determination. John Kerry "gets it" that small businesses protect and care for their people and community better than large corporations. John Kerry "gets it" that entrepreneurship is the linchpin of our economy.John Kerry GETS IT. Will the Republicans running Washington, and the people who voted for them, GET IT before it's too late?
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
Senator Kerry's been busy this week.
Monday: Released this statement from Small Business Committee, of which he is Ranking Member: Kerry Joins Bipartisan Coalition Fighting to Stop SBA from Gutting Rural Small Business Loans. -- Hat tip to Pamela at LUTD.
Tuesday: Email to Boston Phoenix declaring
Read the entire article: THE SMOKING GUN? Kerry, Bush, and the Downing Street memo. -- Hat tip to Ron at LUTD.
Wednesday: Strong appearance at Sub-committee hearing on Manufacturing Competitiveness
Video of hearing - note the hearing doesn't actually start until about 15:00 into the clip; and Sen. Kerry doesn't start until 46:15. - hat tip to this thread at DU.
Senator Kerry is the ranking member on this sub-committee (Technology, Innovation, and Competitiveness).
Also Wednesday: Letters urging U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to issue an economic injury disaster declaration for Massachusetts fishermen and their families who have been affected by the closure of shellfish beds due to red tide. One to Mitt Romney, asking for his support; and one to the Administrator of the SBA asking for the declaration. (Thanks to "Mass" at DU).
An email to supporters announcing a new ad for the Kids First Act. It's a great ad - go take a look! You can also look at the Thomas record for the bill, which is S.114.
And of course he voted "no" on Janice R. Brown (judicial nominee for D.C. circuit court).
Note, these are only the items I stumbled across in reading the blogs. Anyone wants to know where Kerry's been, the answer is - doing his job for his constituents. The DSM move will happen in due time. Patience, grasshopper...
Senator Boxer joins DSM fray
On Tuesday, June 7th, during the Senate Confirmation Hearing on Zalmay Khalilzad to be Ambassador to Iraq, Senator Barbara Boxer raised the Downing Street Minutes (aka Memo) and asked that the document be inserted in the Congressional Record.
At this writing the link is available on the front page of the C-SPAN website. It will probably only be available via CSPAN for a couple of weeks - I'll see if I can locate a more permanent archive video, or at least the transcript.
Senator Boxer starts speaking at about 1:45:00 into the C-SPAN video clip, and begins talking about DSM at about 1:49:00. After responses from the nominee she asks for the DSM to be included in the record of the committee hearing.
"Where's Kerry on DSM?" He got there first.
Now that Kennedy has released a statement on his website, which Raw Story (incorrectly?) characterizes as making him "the first senator to raise the issue in the Senate":
The following was released by Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) on the Downing Street Minutes this morning. Kennedy becomes the first senator to raise the issue in the Senate, after earlier reports that Massachusetts' junior senator, John Kerry, would speak about the minutes in Washington.
The remainder of the Raw Story report consists only of the content of Kennedy's released statement.
Now, did Kennedy mention DSM in his floor speech today, or otherwise actually raise the issue "in the Senate"? Or did he just post his statement on his website and a few blogs? In any case, one of our unfriendly neighborhood quasi-liberal blogs, BellaCiao, has a story posted that "Kerry Wimped Out" and another "Sen. Kennedy speaks out on Downing Street Memo, but where is John Kerry?". The second one is a repost of the Raw Story article linked above, except with a more insulting headline. Note I won't link to Bella Ciao. If you can't find them, consider yourself lucky.
My responses to the "Where is John Kerry" question at Bella Ciao, for anyone reading this who is confused:
With the attention garnered by his statement last Wednesday of intent to raise the issue, I’d say that DID raise the issue somewhat. Of course it was helped by the insane rabidity of the conservative sites claiming he was going to "push for impeachment" when in fact he said no such thing. (Of course it is interesting how they immediately assumed that raising the DSM = raising impeachment).
I wonder if Kennedy (and now also Feingold, btw) jumped the gun on Kerry or if they are working in concert. My understanding is that the two Senators from Mass. get along fine, so I don’t think Kennedy would have been trying to undermine Kerry.
Also note the press brought the issue up today, with CBS News, NBC, and Keith Olbermann all covering the press conference, where Mr. Bush got just a wee bit testy about the whole thing. Bush’s and Blair’s comments should be fodder for whatever Kerry is preparing.
I’m sure we’ll hear something from Kerry soon. Whether it will be in a floor speech, or a committee hearing, or the breakfast Wednesday morning with Blair, or some other kind of statement, remains to be seen.
If that is the case in this instance, then it is not true to say that "Kennedy becomes the first senator to raise the issue in the Senate", because it would mean that Kennedy has not yet raised the issue "in the Senate" himself.
Keep in mind that it was Kerry’s statement last Wednesday that stirred the pot in the first place - not to take anything away from Conyers and the efforts of activists, but it was Kerry’s name and the resulting rabid right-wing response that turned up the heat heading into this week.
But when I say Kerry got there "first" of course I am saying first of the Senators - let's not forget that it's been John Conyers leading the charge on this since it came out.
Video of Olbermann debunking of News Max "Kerry pushing Impeachment" story, courtesy DU.
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
More Dems Speak Out on Downing Street Minutes
Excerpts of Senator Kennedy's statement, which was released at his website:
In addition, the Downing Street Minutes also confirm what has long been obvious – that the timing of the war was linked to the 2002 Congressional elections, and that the Administration’s planning for post-war Iraq was incompetent in all its aspects. The current continuing crisis is a direct result of that incompetence.
The policy of “shoot first, ask questions later” took us into an unjustified war, and without a clear concept of what “winning the war” actually means.
We know the Administration had been planning to invade Iraq for many months before the invasion actually began. We know the Administration twisted the intelligence to make the facts fit their plan. We know that the Administration never really intended to give the U.N. weapons inspectors a reasonable chance to succeed. The Downing Street Minutes demonstrate that the Administration knew their case for war was paper thin, and that in order to go into war with the support of our allies, we had to demonstrate some willingness to go along with the UN inspection process. But the Administration continued to misuse its intelligence, distort the facts and pay only lip-service to the UN’s role in disarming Iraq.
We never should have gone to war for ideological reasons driven by politics and based on manipulated intelligence. The Downing Street Minutes provide even more proof that this is exactly what happened on Iraq. The Administration’s dishonesty, lack of candor, and lack of planning have brought us to where we are today, with American soldiers dying, Iraqi civilians living in constant fear, and with no clearer picture of our strategy for victory in Iraq than when we started.
(Published Tuesday, June 7, 2005 10:58:27 AM CDT)
By Mike DuPre'
CLINTON-The Iraq War is a mess that's only getting messier, Sen. Russ Feingold said before and during a listening session Monday.
One of the people at the listening session said he was troubled that the Bush administration seems bent on following the path of "preventive war." He referred to the so-called "Downing Street memo," minutes of a meeting of British officials about Iraq eight months before the war.
Feingold told his audience: "I can't tell you the amount of comment I've heard on the Downing Street memo."
He said he soon would be at a breakfast meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Feingold said he would question Blair closely about the memo and prewar intelligence, which the Bush administration has admitted was wrong but which it maintains was not rigged to justify war.
Monday, June 06, 2005
More on "Iraqi Liberation Act" of 1998
ALERT! Arm yourself to counteract Pug "spin" on the DSM, posted by LunaC
Sourcewatch: Iraq Liberation Act of 1998
These relate to the bill, H.R. 4655, discussed in my post below, Potential (R) response to Kerry on DSM, and why it's bunk.
These articles add the valuable context of statements by various Senators prior to passage of the bill in the Senate by unanimous consent. For example,
From the DU article, which includes excerpts from Sourcewatch:
This bill is to support the IRAQI OPPOSITION. It never came close to opening the
door for direct U.S. military intervention.
And here's another handy tidbit to know.....Clinton may have signed the bill but he
never funded it! Why? Because a huge [portion] would heve gone to Chalabi's Iraqi
Here's a few quotes to arm yourself with......
Jesse Helms, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, commented:
"This bill will begin the long-overdue process of ousting Saddam. It will not
send in U.S. troops or commit American forces in any way. Rather, it harkens back
to the successes of the Reagan doctrine, enlisting the very people who are
suffering most under Saddam's yoke to fight the battle against him."
According to Senator Bob Kerrey,
"Second, this bill is not a device to involve the U.S. military in operations in
or near Iraq. The Iraqi revolution is for Iraqis, not Americans, to make. The
bill provides the Administration a portent new tool to help Iraqis toward this
goal, and at the same time advance America's interest in a peaceful and secure
Speaking on behalf of the bill in the Senate, Trent Lott said:
"This is an important step. Observers should not misunderstand the Senate's action. Even though this legislation will pass without controversy on an unanimous voice vote, it is a major step forward in the final conclusion of the Persian Gulf war. In 1991, we and our allies shed blood to liberate Kuwait. Today, we are empowering Iraqis to liberate their own country."
Clearly, the Senators making these statements did not consider the Iraqi Liberation Act of 1998 to in any way authorize the U.S. military to invade Iraq.
Sunday, June 05, 2005
A Fighter to the Core
From Washington Whispers at USNews.com:
Who didn't gasp last November when Elizabeth Edwards , energetic mother of three and wife of Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards , capped the 2004 race by revealing she had breast cancer? Well, half a year later, we've got news to report: The treatment is over, and her doctors feel hopeful about the future.
"She feels great," says spokeswoman Kim Rubey , "and her doctors are optimistic. It's all very positive."
...despite the treatment and loss of hair, now growing back, "she's been in great spirits," Rubey tells us, "through the whole process."
It's a good thing. Work beckons. The Edwardses are selling their Georgetown mansion--price $6.5 million--and moving home to North Carolina to build a new house. And don't forget: maybe a presidential race in 2008.
Edwards's speedy recovery has cheered many she knows, not the least of whom is Sen. John Kerry . "She's a courageous soul," says Kerry, "and a fighter to the core."
From everything I saw in the campaign and since, I couldn't agree more.
Best wishes to Elizabeth for a complete recovery, continued positive energy, and for her and her family, success and happiness in their new home.
Potential (R) response to Kerry on DSM, and why it's bunk.
Then the article diverts to potential Republican rebuttals to any statement by Kerry on the DSM, claiming to have "discovered" a 1998 bill signed by President Clinton that makes everything Bush said and did in the run-up to the Iraq invasion a-ok:
Stating directly from the bill: "Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 - Declares that it should be the policy of the United States to seek to remove the Saddam Hussein regime from power in Iraq and to replace it with a democratic government. "
The H.R. 4655 law was signed into effect October 31,1998.
And then this:
Let's start with the easy one.
Republicans plan to issue a response to Senator Kerry by using his own words against him...Sen. Kerry was quoted as saying the war was justified and Saddam Hussein needed to be removed.
If Senator Kerry stated that "the war was justified and Saddam Hussein needed to be removed" because of the intelligence data that was presented to the Senate - intelligence data that the DSM now shows us "were being fixed around the policy", how does that absolve the Administration from any responsibility for lying to the American people - AND the Senate? Let's refer back to the Iraq War Resolution: Sec. 3 (b) states that either before or immediately after initiating military action, Bush must present to Congress his determination that:
In English, that says that all diplomatic measures must be exhausted or Bush had better present some good logic for giving up on it, before taking military action. And I believe if we look hard enough we can find published statements by Bush and his minions that state that their intent was to try to resolve the problem through diplomatic action. As I understand it, that is certainly why Senator Kerry voted for IWR in the first place. So if the DSM now shows that all along, Bush and his crew had absolutely no intent or desire for diplomatic measures to succeed, I would say that there are lies aplenty that were fed to Congress and the American people as fact, as the basis for decisions about Iraq; and our House members and Senators should be outraged (not to mention thousands of grieving widows, orphans, and other family members). How can you use statements that were made based on the information in the lies, to say that the lies themselves were somehow okay?
Now let's look at the second potential rebuttal suggested by the AHN article: that the 1998 bill, H.R. 4655, somehow gave Bush "all of the legal recourse necessary for the war". Let's look at the CRS summary of the bill as found in Thomas:
10/5/1998--Passed House, amended. (There is 1 other summary)
Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 - Declares that it should be the policy of the United States to seek to remove the Saddam Hussein regime from power in Iraq and to replace it with a democratic government.
Authorizes the President, after notifying specified congressional committees, to provide to the Iraqi democratic opposition organizations: (1) grant assistance for radio and television broadcasting to Iraq; (2) Department of Defense (DOD) defense articles and services and military education and training (IMET); and (3) humanitarian assistance, with emphasis on addressing the needs of individuals who have fled from areas under the control of the Hussein regime. Prohibits assistance to any group or organization that is engaged in military cooperation with the Hussein regime. Authorizes appropriations.
Directs the President to designate: (1) one or more Iraqi democratic opposition organizations that meet specified criteria as eligible to receive assistance under this Act; and (2) additional such organizations which satisfy the President's criteria.
Urges the President to call upon the United Nations to establish an international criminal tribunal for the purpose of indicting, prosecuting, and imprisoning Saddam Hussein and other Iraqi officials who are responsible for crimes against humanity, genocide, and other criminal violations of international law.
Expresses the sense of the Congress that once the Saddam Hussein regime is removed from power in Iraq, the United States should support Iraq's transition to democracy by providing humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people and democracy transition assistance to Iraqi parties and movements with democratic goals, including convening Iraq's foreign creditors to develop a multilateral response to the foreign debt incurred by the Hussein regime.
I've bolded the relavant clause above - the only clause in the summary which refers to supplying anything from the Department of Defense (i.e. military assistance of any nature).
In the full text of the bill (enacted as Public Law 105-338), the relevant section is as follows:
(a) Authority To Provide Assistance.--The President may provide to
the Iraqi democratic opposition organizations designated in accordance
with section 5 the following assistance:
(1) Broadcasting assistance.--(A) Grant assistance to such
organizations for radio and television broadcasting by such
organizations to Iraq.
authorized to be appropriated to the United States Information
Agency $2,000,000 for fiscal year 1999 to carry out this
(2) Military <<NOTE: President.>> assistance.--(A) The
President is authorized to direct the drawdown of defense
articles from the stocks of the Department of Defense, defense
services of the Department of Defense, and military education
and training for such organizations.
(B) The aggregate value (as defined in section 644(m) of the
Foreign Assistance Act of 1961) of assistance provided under
this paragraph may not exceed $97,000,000.
(b) Humanitarian Assistance.--The Congress urges the President to
use existing authorities under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to
provide humanitarian assistance to individuals living in areas of Iraq
controlled by organizations designated in accordance with section 5,
with emphasis on addressing the needs of individuals who have fled to
such areas from areas under the control of the Saddam Hussein regime.
(c) Restriction on Assistance.--No assistance under this
section shall be provided to any group within an organization designated
in accordance with section 5 which group is, at the time
[[Page 112 STAT. 3180]]
the assistance is to be provided, engaged in military cooperation with
the Saddam Hussein regime.
(d) Notification <
shall notify the congressional committees specified in section 634A of
the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 at least 15 days in advance of each
obligation of assistance under this section in accordance with the
procedures applicable to reprogramming notifications under section 634A.
(e) Reimbursement Relating to Military Assistance.--
(1) In general.--Defense articles, defense services, and
military education and training provided under subsection (a)(2)
shall be made available without reimbursement to the Department
of Defense except to the extent that funds are appropriated
pursuant to paragraph (2).
(2) Authorization of appropriations.--There are authorized
to be appropriated to the President for each of the fiscal years
1998 and 1999 such sums as may be necessary to reimburse the
applicable appropriation, fund, or account for the value (as
defined in section 644(m) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961)
of defense articles, defense services, or military education and
training provided under subsection (a)(2).
(f ) Availability of Funds.--(1) Amounts authorized to be
appropriated under this section are authorized to remain available until
(2) Amounts authorized to be appropriated under this section are in
addition to amounts otherwise available for the purposes described in
(g) Authority To Provide Assistance.--Activities under this section
(including activities of the nature described in subsection (b)) may be
undertaken notwithstanding any other provision of law.
And also, possibly more importantly:
Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize or otherwise
speak to the use of United States Armed Forces (except as provided in
section 4(a)(2)) in carrying out this Act.
In the excerpt of Section 4 above, I bolded 4(a)(2) because that is the ONLY authorization to use any kind of militrary resources whatsoever. Note that 4(a) specifically provides the context that the resources are to be provided to "the Iraqi democratic opposition organizations designated in accordance with section 5".
Furthermore, note that 4(a)(2)(B) states "The aggregate value (as defined in section 644(m) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961) of assistance provided under this paragraph may not exceed $97,000,000."
That's $97 Million, folks. With an M. Not a B.
So even if you accepted that the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March of 2003 was somehow covered under Public Law 105-338, 4(a)(2), at some point Bush had to make the case to the American people to spend more than $97M on the democratization of Iraq. What are we up to now? Over $170 billion, with a B, right?
All in all, I have a real problem with the notion that attacking a country - heinous dictator at the helm or no - and sacrificing thousands of American soldiers and even more thousands of civilian lives - should be considered okay and green-lighted just because some 5-year old bill can be legally twisted to say that it was, well, "legal". And especially not when the war was pitched to the American people and their elected Senators and Representatives in a totally different light.
No, I'm not a lawyer, but I don't need to be. I see nothing in the "Iraq Liberation Act of 1998" that authorizes the President of the United States to lie to the Anerican people about the reasons for going to war, or to authorize "the intelligence and facts [to be] fixed around the policy."
Go get 'em, Senator Kerry.
Saturday, June 04, 2005
John Kerry: On the president's budgetary values
By Sen. John Kerry
On Thursday, I visited the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams and was inspired by the work happening there to make a college education available to more and more students. MCLA runs a successful student support services program, the Individual Enrichment Program, which assists low-income students become the first in their families to go to college, and helps students with disabilities to overcome the numerous obstacles to higher education. Without this support, many of these students wouldn't have had a chance to get a college degree.
If the president gets his way, the budget will inexplicably cut every penny for these programs despite maintaining numerous corporate tax loopholes and yet another tax cut for millionaires. Western Massachusetts residents should also prepare themselves for cuts in everything from home heating assistance to vocational education to law enforcement. These choices should remind all Americans that Washington is not working for them.
Values like honesty, opportunity and responsibility are all cut from this budget. These cuts should give us all cause for concern, because in the end budgets are a statement of your priorities. They are your values backed up by dollars and cents. When considering the budget of the United States, honesty at minimum means actually counting every dollar we plan to spend. It sounds simple, it's what every American does, but this budget doesn't do it.
Ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan will cost at least $400 billion over 10 years. That's not in the budget. The President's Social Security scheme will cost another $750 billion over 10 years. That's not in the budget. The budget ignores interest on the debt, which not even the most creative accountant would leave out.
This budget is like an Enron budget -- smoke the numbers, cook the books, hide the truth and hope no one finds out. When Enron went bust, stockholders were the losers. When this budget goes bust, the American taxpayer will be the loser. They'll lose because this budget does exactly what Enron did: makes irresponsible choices the administration does not want you to know about. The responsible choice would be to honor those who have worn our nation's uniform, but the administration made a different choice.
They're raising veterans' healthcare fees by $250 a year while cutting taxes for millionaires. They welcome home our troops with $2.6 billion in unanticipated co-payments and fees instead of cracking down on offshore tax shelters. The result of these irresponsible choices: in Massachusetts alone over 22,000 veterans could be forced to leave the VA health-care system, including 7,600 active patients. Some in Washington may be quick to embrace the symbols of patriotism with words, but too often deeds lag behind.
Responsibility also means keeping our nation on sound financial footing for the long run, but the Congressional Budget Office estimates we'll be facing over $5 trillion in new debt because of this President. These debts not only hurt your children in the future -- they hurt you and every family today. Almost eight cents of every tax dollar goes just toward paying interest on the debt.
By contrast, you only pay about two cents on the dollar for education. $160 billion goes to interest on the debt, not to giving healthcare to every child, fully funding No Child Left Behind, securing our energy independence or funding a Military Family's Bill of Rights. Eight cents on the dollar is a lot of money, and it's not buying you more security and it's not buying your kids a better education. On the other hand, bankers in Japan and Korea and Taiwan are benefiting, and you should be worried about it. Responsible leaders wouldn't turn our economic future over to the whims of foreign bankers, they would fight to keep it in responsible hands here at home.
The American people also deserve a budget that keeps faith with the promise of opportunity for all, special privileges for none. This budget doesn't do it. The budget gives a huge tax cut to people making over $1 million a year, but cuts heating aid and vocational education in Massachusetts by over $20 million. Almost 28,000 students across the state could be kicked out of after-school programs. The budget wastes billions more in offshore tax shelters, but cuts Even Start literacy programs in Springfield, Holyoke, Northampton, Greenfield, Pittsfield, Orange and across the commonwealth. The Safe and Drug Free School Program is completely eliminated.
There is not one smart choice in the list above, and there can be no excuse. The people deserve better, and that starts by demanding our leadership do a better job budgeting our cherished values of honesty, responsibility, and opportunity.
I really, really should've selected and posted excerpts, but I just couldn't find anything I could stand to snip out. Way to go, Senator Kerry!
My thoughts were echoed by a companion editorial in the Transcript:
North County got a glimpse on Thursday of what might have been for Berkshire County, the state of Massachusetts, and the United States of America. That was during the visit of Sen. John Kerry, a Democrat, a blue stater, and someone who inarguably is not George W. Bush.
We haven't had time to ponder the differences of late -- and perhaps we were too disappointed after Sen. Kerry's loss in November to do anything but shove the whole mess out of mind. But seeing Sen. Kerry, and listening to him, we are once again amazed at the choice of the American people.
Sen. Kerry might have been the answer to a host of dangerous -- we might say insane -- trends that continue under the Bush administration. That would include the runaway federal budget deficits, a mounting national debt that imperils Social Security and every other necessary program; a military that is stretched to the limit in a war that could have been avoided; constant assaults on environmental regulation of any kind; tax cuts for people who don't need them, and, generally, support of Neanderthal thinking on every social issue.
We, as a nation, can certainly do much better. When we see John Kerry and hear him speak, and note the issues that concern him -- as expressed on today's editorial page -- we know the nation could have done much better on Nov. 2.
I really don't have much to add.
Bipartisan bill creates hiring incentives for returning vets
Almost 490,000 troops from the Guard and reserve have mobilized since Sept. 11, 2001, overseas or for duty in-country. Of those, about 320,000 have completed their mobilization.
Rep. Allyson Schwartz, D-Pa., and Rep. Joe Schwarz, R-Mich., are co-sponsoring legislation that would give companies up to $2,400 in tax credits for each veteran from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars they hire.
The bill number is H.R. 1352, "Veterans Employment and Respect Act of 2005".
It would be applicable to situations where the servicemember served 180 days or more in either Iraq or Afghanistan "qualified" operations/areas, after Ocotber 6, 2001 and through whatever date is eventually designated the termination of those conflicts.
The bill seems to have broad bipartisan support, with 159 cosponsors well-represented across both parties. The last action was referral to the House Ways and Means Committee on 3/16/2005. The hearing schedule at the committee website so far does not list a scheduled hearing for the bill.
What can be done to get this bill moving?
News Hounds: Fox's Colmes covers DSM, Fairly
For those who don't already know, the so-called Downing Street Memo summarizes a meeting between Tony Blair and his top security team in which the head of the British Secret Intelligence Services reported that Bush had already decided to remove Saddam by force months before presenting the plan to the Congress and that the Bush Administration had decided to "fix the intelligence" around the policy.
Kevin Zeese said that we need an inquiry in order to find out more. He thinks there is enough evidence at this point for a resolution of inquiry, a prelude to impeachment. He said only one congressperson is needed to make the resolution. He also said that we are starting to see Republicans like Walter Jones, from North Carolina, who coined the term "freedom fries" in the capital cafeteria, now saying Bush misled us into war.
Limbacher brought up Clinton at every opportunity.
After the interview, Colmes took a string of "lightning round" phone calls in which he asked for a quick yes or no answer as to whether there should be further investigation of the Bush Administration's conduct. Ten callers said yes, two callers said no. There was one caller whose opinion I couldn't understand. Considering Colmes' audience is conservative, I'd call the results good news.
Please go read the entire article at News Hounds. They provide several more highlights of the interchange between Zeese, Limbacher, and Colmes.
One commenter asks if the audience really is conservative. I don't ever watch or listen to Fox shows myself, but I always assumed that the audience consists mainly of: right-wingers; the intellectually lazy (pre-right-wingers); and scouts for the opposition (such as News Hounds).
This excellent comment is made by "Canadian Paul" in response to a flow of arguments claiming that the memo itself is not "evidence":
Friday, June 03, 2005
On May 1 the London Sunday Times published a leaked document referred to as "The Downing Street Memo" (later noted to more accurately be termed "minutes"). The document seems to clearly show that the purpose of that meeting - held on July 23, 2002 - was to plan for the invasion of Iraq, and specifically states (referring to Washington) that "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."; thus contradicting assertions by the Bush and Blair administrations that they attempted to avoid military action. The document caused quite a stir in the run-up to the British national election, probably contributing to a significant loss of seats in Parliament for the Labour Party, even though Tony Blair was re-elected. But the American press has been remarkably silent on the issues raised by the document. Okay, not "remarkably" - after all there is the Michael Jackson trial to cover!
However, in the last thirty days, despite the absence of any significant press coverage, there have been serious efforts to place this document and its implications directly in front of the American people. Congressman John Conyers has stepped to the forefront in Washington; there are at least two well-done Internet sites devoted to the issue (DowningStreetMemo.com and AfterDowningStreet.org). A wealth of data has been collected at these sites and there are tools to help concerned individuals contact Congress. You can even buy a bumpersticker or t-shirt.
But still there is next to nothing about the Downing Street Minutes in the mainstream American media - yet. That may be about to change. On Wednesday, June 1, Senator John Kerry spoke with the editorial board of the Standard Times and had the following to say:
That leaked secret document, the minutes of a 2002 cabinet meeting of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, says bluntly that Mr. Bush had decided to attack Iraq long before going to Congress with the matter, and that "intelligence was being fixed around the policy."
It caused an uproar in Great Britain and badly hurt Mr. Blair in national elections but went almost unnoticed in the United States.
"When I go back (to Washington) on Monday, I am going to raise the issue," he said of the memo, which has not been disputed by either the British or American governments. "I think it's a stunning, unbelievably simple and understandable statement of the truth and a profoundly important document that raises stunning issues here at home. And it's amazing to me the way it escaped major media discussion. It's not being missed on the Internet, I can tell you that."
He questioned Americans' understanding of the war and the sense that criticism equals disloyalty, saying, "Do you think that Americans if they really understood it would feel that way knowing that on Election Day, 77 percent of Americans who voted for Bush believed that weapons of mass destruction had been found and 77 percent believe Saddam did 9/11? Is there a way for this to break through, ever?"
News of Senator Kerry's statement has spread widely in blogworld, with posts at Light Up the Darkness, Article of Faith, After Downing Street, Rob's Blog, Watching the Watchers, and even a positively-received diary at DailyKos.
Are these the glowing embers that will finally catch into a bright flame?
Iraq Timeline(this is a draft that will be fleshed out as I have time)
- ?? - PNAC draws up plan for dominating the Middle East
- 12/13/2000 - The Gang of 5 declare George W. Bush the winner of the contested U.S. Presidential Election
- 9/11/2001 - September 11th.
- 11/21/2001 - Bush orders Rumsfeld to look at "what it would take to protect America by removing Saddam Hussein if we have to" (Source: 1).
- 7/23/2002 - The Downing Street meeting from which the minutes were generated.
- 10/?/2002 - Bush declares that he hopes military action will not be necessary. (Source: 1)
- 10/16/2002 - Congress passes the IWR, which gives Bush the authority to use military force in Iraq, only after all diplomatic measures are exhausted.
- 11//2002 - Mid-Term elections. (note that the vote on IWR is forced just before the elections, and members up for re-election were pressured to vote "yes" or be tarred as "unpatriotic" to their constituents).
- 11/8/2002 - UN Security Council passes Resolution 1441, restarting the weapons inspection program in Iraq.
- 3/19/2003 - U.S. Invades Iraq.
Related Links / References (more will be added as I find them)
- Mark Danner, The Secret Way to War. (May 12, 2005). New York Review of Books, 52 (10), June 9, 2005.
- Original News story in the London Sunday Times
- Iraq War Resolution (dkosopedia entry)
- Iraq War Timeline by Wage Peace
- Iraq War timeline by Infoplease