Saturday, July 29, 2006
From the House Floor (Thursday, July 20, 2006)
"Mr. Speaker, when I voted to override President Bush’s veto of stem cell research, I was thinking of ex-Governor Booth Gardner of Washington State. I saw Governor Gardner in the Sea-Tac Airport Monday as I was flying back here. He was flying to San Francisco for advanced treatment for Parkinson’s, a disease he has been battling for some time with great courage and grace.
And yet this promising research, we have a President who decided he is not going to let Americans have because he, from his exalted realm on Pennsylvania Avenue, has taken it upon himself to dictate to Americans what our morals should be.
Let me suggest that the President who started the war in Iraq based on false information, the President that mishandled Hurricane Katrina relief, the President who has created the largest deficit in the history of the solar system, is not entitled by any law, religion, morality, ethics or common sense to dictate to the American people one sense of morality, much less any others.
It was wrong for him to deny Booth Gardner treatment, it was wrong for him to take it away from millions of Americans."
Honorable Jay Inslee
Member of Congress
Chad (The Left) Shue
Friday, July 28, 2006
Today, I received the following reply from Senator Cantwell:
Dear Mr. Shue,
Thank you for contacting me to express your concerns about U.S. foreign policy in Iraq . I appreciate hearing from you on this important matter.
On June 22, 2006, I joined 38 democratic senators in supporting Senators Carl Levin and Jack Reed's amendment to the Defense Authorization bill to encourage the Iraqi people to take complete control of their own future. The amendment recognizes the increasing number of Iraqi troops being trained and calls on those troops to take the lead in assuming full control of their own security so U.S. forces can be redeployed beginning this year.
We must act with urgency to get the Iraqi people on their feet and get our troops home. It must be a year of significant transition for Iraq , which means the Iraqi government must assume primary responsibility for governing and security. The U.S. cannot allow the political process in Iraq to drift, because a functioning inclusive government is a perquisite to any progress in Iraq . We must make it clear that the United States is not going to stay in Iraq indefinitely.
The Levin-Reed amendment also asserts that the president should convene an international conference on Iraqi stability and reconstruction and adds to my own requests for both the Iraqis and the international community to step up. I have called on President Bush to name a special envoy to Iraq to promote regional diplomacy. In addition, I have requested that the president convene a summit with our allies, Iraq 's neighbors, the Arab League, and the United Nations to ensure regional peace and greater strength through common purpose. Other countries have pledged over $13.5 billion for the reconstruction, but have disbursed only about $3 billion at this time. The United States must make sure that the international community follows through on its promises to help Iraq .
Rebuilding and protecting critical infrastructure is also essential to establishing the legitimacy of the new Iraqi government. Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds alike, must have faith in their government's ability to provide basic services to all regions. Past reconstruction efforts have been beset by mismanagement, fraud, contracting abuses, and insurgent attacks. We must move to address problems identified by the U.S. Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.
The Iraqis must develop security forces loyal to the national government and disband sectarian militias. The United States should press the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and our European allies to assist the new Iraqi government by becoming more involved in training both within and outside Iraq . At present, only 96,000 Iraqi troops and police are fully independent and in a lead role, even though approximately 250,000 are considered trained and equipped. The Iraqis must assume full control of their own security.
Please be assured that I will continue to press for progress in Iraq , so we can bring our troops home.
Thank you again for contacting me to share your thoughts on this matter. For more information about my work in the Senate and issues of importance to Washington state, feel free to visit my website at http://cantwell.senate.gov . Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of further assistance.
United States Senator
For future correspondence with my office, please visit my website at
Chad (The Left) Shue
Iraq Body Count: 7/28/06
Americans Killed: 2570
Americans Wounded: 19,157
Iraqi Dead: Est.: 43,927
Latest Confirmed Casualties:
*Staff Sgt. Christopher W. Swanson, 25, of Rose Haven, Md., died on July 22 in Ar Ramadi, Iraq.
*Capt. Jason M. West, 28, of Pittsburg, Pa., died on July 24 in Ar Ramadi, Iraq.
*Spc. Joseph A. Graves, 21, of Discovery Bay, Calif., was killed on July 25 in Baghdad, Iraq.
Rumsfeld extends tours of 3,500 US troops in Iraq
"WASHINGTON (AFP) - The Pentagon extended the tours of about 3,500 US troops in Iraq for 120 days, dashing hopes of US force cuts this year in the face of surging sectarian violence. The Pentagon also identified army and marine units totalling about 25,000 troops that have been scheduled to deploy to Iraq late this year and early next, enough to maintain the US force at about 130,000 troops for a year." "The move indicated that US commanders have effectively given up hopes for even a gradual reduction in the US force this year on account of a bitter insurgency and spiralling sectarian violence.
It boosted the size of the US force from 14 brigades to 15 brigades, and from 127,000 troops to at least 130,000.
Army officials said that by the end of August the US force should increase to about 134,000 troops with the arrival of another brigade from the 82nd Airborne Infantry Division."
Iraqi PM admits failure to contain growing violence
"The Iraqi prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, conceded yesterday that the country's security situation had worsened in the two months since he took office.
Speaking to journalists in London before meeting Tony Blair, Mr Maliki said he was planning a new security initiative for Baghdad. "The security situation has got worse since the government took control because the terrorists realise this is a government that can achieve security," Mr Maliki said. "All the groups involved in terrorism have escalated bombings, kidnappings and other actions."
Data compiled by the UN shows that an average of 100 civilians were killed each day during May and June. More than 60 were killed in car bombs in Baghdad and Kirkuk on Sunday."
Chad (The Left) Shue
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Congresswoman Woolsey Calls for Repeal of President’s Iraq War Powers
July 25, 2006
- Says Congress never authorized an occupation of Iraq -
Click here for copy of the bill, H.R. 5875 (pdf version)
Washington, D.C. - One of the most outspoken critics of the war in Iraq, Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (D-Petaluma) today introduced H.R. 5875, legislation that would repeal the President’s War Powers for the Iraq War. While the Congress authorized President Bush to wage war against Iraq in 2002, the original authorization did not anticipate an open-ended U.S. military campaign against Iraq, or the occupation that currently exists.
“Six weeks after we invaded Iraq, President Bush stood aboard an aircraft carrier before a banner that read ‘Mission Accomplished,’ declaring that ‘major combat operations in Iraq are over,’ Woolsey said. “From that moment on, we were no longer fighting a war, but rather participating in an occupation. You can not win an occupation!”
Not only did Congress not authorize the long-term occupation of Iraq, but our troops’ presence is contributing to the state of civil war that exists in the country. According to the United Nations, the violence in Iraq is increasing, with an average of 100 Iraqis dying every day.
“Rescinding the President’s War Powers in Iraq is the least that we can do for our troops, and for their families who anxiously await their return,” Woolsey said. “With over 2,550 brave men and women having given their lives, and thousands seriously wounded, how many more must die before we put an end to this madness?
“By repealing the Iraq War Powers, Congress would resume its Constitutional role overseeing the use of military force, and would reassert its authority by bringing our troops home.”
Woolsey was joined by 18 other original co-sponsors of the legislation, in no particular order they include: Barbara Lee (CA); Dennis Kucinich (OH); Maxine Waters (CA); Maurice Hinchey (NY); James Moran (VA); Major Owens (NY); Cynthia McKinney (GA); Fortney "Pete" Stark (CA); Bob Filner (CA); Julia Carson (IN); Chaka Fattah (PA); Carolyn Kilpatrick (MI); Marty Meehan (MA); Donald Payne (NJ); Jose Serrano (NY); Danny Davis (IL); David Wu (OR) and Sheila Jackson Lee (TX).
Calling the Washington State Congressional Delegation!
Chad (The Left) Shue
Americans Killed: 2570
Americans Wounded: 19,157
Iraqi Dead: Est.: 43,927
Latest Confirmed Casualties:
*Spc. Stephen W. Castner, 27, of Cedarburg, Wis., died on July 24 in Tallil, Iraq.
*Cpl. Adam J. Fargo, 22, of Ruckersville, Va., died on July 22 in Baghdad, Iraq.
*Spc. Dennis K. Samson Jr., 24, of Hesperia, Mich., died on July 24 in Taqaddum, Iraq.
In a newly released NBC/Wall Street Journal poll , almost 60% of Americans are “doubtful the Iraq war will come to a successful conclusion.” Now the way I see it, that can mean only one of two things. Either most Americans do not know what a “successful conclusion” looks like, or they know what it is and they truly do not believe it is attainable in Iraq. Either way, this can’t be good for the “Stay the Course/Year of Transition” folks.
In light of these numbers – numbers that continue to increase, by the way – I would like to ask Maria Cantwell and Rick Larsen to explain to the voters in the 2nd CD of Washington State what they see as a “successful conclusion” in Iraq and how will we know when we have achieved it. Considering the fact that both Rick and Maria insist we can’t bring our troops home until the “mission is accomplished”, maybe they can also suggest a better way of communicating to the voters with whom they seem so out of step.
As always, I will accept an individual email or you are always welcome to post directly here at the Left Shue.
Chad (The Left) Shue
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
According to an email Koster sent to the Herald (he declined an interview request), ”Aside from the fact that the project will have minimal impact in generating overnight stays, I believe there are a great many people who live in Snohomish County that would ill consider the promotion of the Seattle Men's Chorus (who on their own Web-site boast as being '... the largest gay men's chorus in the world') as a 'sophisticated cultural event' or a 'first-class cultural event...”
For those who are not familiar with the Seattle Men’s Chorus, there is this from their production company, Flying House Productions :
“Seattle Men's Chorus is the largest community chorus in America. It is also the largest gay men's chorus in the world! Seattle Women's Chorus made its world premier on stage April 2002 and has quickly grown to over 200 singers. Each chorus has a base of over 80 volunteers and associate members that support both choruses.
More than 40,000 people attend the subscription series annually. Thousands more see each chorus in other local performances every year. Since 1994, over 2.5 million viewers have seen Seattle Men's Chorus in their award-winning television program "Swellegant Elegance" which continues to air on PBS stations across the nation…” They go on to say, ”Our choral performances are full-scale productions that combine the region's leading professional talents with nationally-known guest artists to create events that expand the possibilities of choral performances and have enormous popular appeal.
We present a five-concert series each season mostly using Benaroya Hall, McCaw Hall and Meany Theater in Seattle. The chorus is the largest renter of Benaroya after the Seattle Symphony. Frequently, additional concerts that feature the talent of artists like Rosemary Clooney, Kristen Chenoweth, Melissa Manchester and Megan Mullally ("Karen" on TV's Will & Grace).
Collaboration with major guest artists from a variety of performance mediums have included jazz great Diane Schuur, Metropolitan Opera star Tatiana Troyanos, dancer/choreographer Mark Morris, recording artist Marni Nixon, Michael Feinstein, nationally acclaimed a cappella group Chanticleer, Grammy Award winners Bobby McFerrin and Natalie Cole, Tony Award-winning playwright and actor Harvey Fierstein, and 1993 Inaugural Poet Dr. Maya Angelou…” and this, ” National tours have included performances in some of the nation's most prestigious halls; New York's Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall and Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, Symphony Hall in Boston, Meyerson Symphony Hall in Dallas, Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco, and Boettcher Hall in Denver. Statewide tours are a standard feature of the Seattle Men's Chorus performance season and have included performances in cities such as Bellingham, Bremerton, Coupeville, Everett, Olympia, Spokane, Tacoma and Walla Walla. In August, 1998, the chorus traveled to Europe, where they performed in Barcelona, at the Gay Games' closing ceremony and two other concerts in Amsterdam, and in London.”
Then there is this review in the Seattle PI from November, 2001 in which they say, ”…What is particularly remarkable is that the chorus is regarded as a gay men's chorus, yet 40 percent of its audience for its string of Christmas concerts is straight, a pattern sustained the rest of the year…” and go on to offer, ”The Seattle Men's must be doing something right because it has an annual budget of more than $3 million, which puts it high on a list of local music organizations, and is the recipient of major grants from mainstream organizations.
Its budget is the largest of any choral group in the nation, said Coleman. The gay men's chorus in San Francisco and New York have budgets that range from $700,000 to $1 million, and Turtle Creek in Dallas is $1.7 million…”
I guess sophistication and culture are in the eye (and ear) of the beholder. Unfortunately Councilman Koster may be correct in his assumption about a select group of homophobic music critics in our county. What is more unfortunate is that he has chosen to be their champion.
UPDATE: Just prior to posting this story, I received word that Koster's amendment failed 3-2 (he was joined in his effort by fellow republican, Gary Nelson)
Chad (The Left) Shue
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
With this in mind, I sent the following email to Senator Cantwell and to the likely republican candidate for US Senate in the November general election, Mike McGavick,:
Senator Cantwell and Mr. McGavick,
My name is Chad Shue and I write the Blog "The Left Shue" (http://theleftshue.blogspot.com). As you both are aware, current UN Ambassador, John Bolton (appointed via "recess appointment") will soon be back before the Senate for a renewed confirmation hearing. While it is probable that this vote will be scheduled before then end of this year, Mr. Bolton's term does not officially expire until January. This means that whichever of you who win the Washington State Senate race may have the opportunity to vote on this important confirmation.
I would like to be able to post your positions on this matter at my Blog for distribution before the election. While it will be easy for you to determine my personal view on this matter, I will make you this sincere pledge to post your reply without editorial comment or editing of any kind. If you read many of my postings, I am sure that you will find that there will be no overt advantage to either of you in my motivation for this request.
Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to hearing from each of you in the near future.
Chad (The Left) Shue
While I am not holding my breath for any reply from either camp, I would certainly be interested in where each of these candidates stand and will post anything I receive.
For the record, Senator Cantwell did find the previous filibuster to be worthy of her vote.
Chad (The Left) Shue
Americans Killed: 2567
Americans Wounded: 18,988
Iraqi Dead: Est.: 43,744
Latest Confirmed Casualties:
*Sgt. Mark R. Vecchione, 25, of Tucson Ariz, died on July 18 in Ar Ramadi, Iraq.
*Pfc. Derek J. Plowman, 20, of Everton, Ark., died on July 20 in Baghdad, Iraq.
*Cpl. Julian A. Ramon, 22, of Flushing, N.Y., died July 20 in Al Anbar province, Iraq.
*Cpl. Matthew P. Wallace, 22, of Lexington Park, Md., died on July 21, in Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Landstuhl, Germany, of injuries sustained in Baghdad, Iraq, on July 16.
*Capt. Christopher T. Pate, 29, of Hampstead, N.C., died July 21 in Al Anbar province, Iraq.
*Capt. Blake H. Russell, 35, of Forth Worth, Texas died on July 22 in Baghdad, Iraq.
Chad (The Left) Shue
Monday, July 24, 2006
An Evening with U.S. Senate Candidate Hong Tran
Host: U.S. Senate Candidate Hong Tran
Location: University of Washington Club
When: Sunday, July 30, 6:00pm to 9:00pm
Phone: (206) 264-7682
Please join the Hong Tran For U.S. Senate Campaign at an official campaign reception on Sunday, July 30th at the University of Washington Club on the University of Washington Campus.
Meet the candidate, show your support for her campaign, and talk with others working to make Hong Tran our next U.S. Senator!
There will be food, wine, beer, and free, easily-available parking.
Guest speakers (T.B.A.) will provide opening remarks and Hong will speak to her supporters about her campaign.
Directions to the U.W. Club are available at:
For more information, please visit the campaign website at: http://www.hongtran.com.
When Hong and her staff are not out on the campaign trail, they are in the office and can be reached at: (206) 264-7682. Give them a call and say hi!
PS- Bring your friends! Tell your neighbors! Let's pack the UW Club full with supporters of Hong Tran!
Chad (The Left) Shue
Sunday, July 23, 2006
In making this very important decision, the PUD Commission showed a remarkable lack of leadership at best, if not a complete lack of courage and understanding, by voting to take a neutral position on the initiative. You can bet leadership of this sort would never have taken us to the moon. For that matter, how well do you think it would have worked if John Hancock and his pals had taken a neutral position on independence?
At the height of the 2001 “energy crisis,” a false crisis manufactured by energy trading companies like Enron and others, the PUD signed four ill-advised, long-term, high rate energy contracts. They recently won a judgment that allowed them to break the Enron contract, and I’m told it cost them $59 million to buy their way out of another. Clearly flawed leadership is not a new phenomenon.
For the record, I am of the opinion that I-937 is a step in the right direction, but by no means the complete package. Whether it is global warming or resource depletion that keeps you awake at night, it will be through a greater reliance on renewable energy resources and greater efforts at conservation that solutions will be found. Through an increased emphasis on research and development in renewables like solar, wind, biofuels, geothermal and tidal, we can reduce our reliance on foreign oil. (A societal paradigm shift will also be needed somewhere along the way. More on that later.)
Or we can do what the opponents of I-937 would have us do: burn more coal, and maybe restart WHPPSS.
Perhaps a few words about the PUD Commission are in order. Permit me to introduce the three Commissioners and say a few words about the vote they took on I-937. The longest serving member, and current President of the Commission, is Kathleen Vaughn. She tends to take a short-term, pragmatic view of things, in my opinion. I hold her primarily responsible for the lack of leadership on Tuesday. By the way, she is the only current Commissioner who was around when the above-mentioned bad contracts were signed.
Next we have Commissioner David Aldrich. Dave has a firm grasp of global climate change issues, as well as global resource depletion issues, and he uses this knowledge to inform policy initiatives at the PUD. Unfortunately these initiatives seldom get any traction, not only because their visionary nature conflicts with Ms Vaughn’s “pragmatism,” but because of the third Commissioner, Toni Olson.
I had only recently become politically active when Toni Olson’s request for endorsement came before the 44th LD Democrats. Being assured by long-standing members that she was a “good Democrat”, I naturally voted to endorse her candidacy. It turns out, however, she is a “good Democrat” of a fairly conservative sort. Aside from apparently still being in the learning mode, she appears more comfortable with Kathy Vaughn’s pragmatism than with David Aldrich’s long-term view. All too often, when there is a 2-1 vote, Toni votes with Kathy, leaving Dave in the lurch.
In the specific instance of the I-937 endorsement vote, it went 2-1 against endorsing the initiative, Dave voting in favor. Subsequently a motion was made to assume a neutral position (leading by standing aside) and the vote was 2-0, with Dave abstaining.
This is not a situation that can be allowed to continue. Fear of difficulty is not an acceptable justification for refusing to embrace a good idea, especially when you are in a position to provide responsible leadership.
Fortunately, there is something we can do. Kathy Vaughn is running for a third term this year and is opposed by a very knowledgeable and articulate young man named Eric Teegarden . (www.teegarden4pud.com) With a background that includes geophysics, environmental science and civil engineering, he seems tailor-made for the kinds of responsibilities placed on a PUD Commissioner. A family man with a history of activism and volunteerism, Eric is a hard worker and a reliable friend. What’s more, Eric’s views on global climate change and resource depletion and the role the PUD could be playing on those issues are very compatible with those of Dave Aldrich. The election of Eric Teegarden as PUD Commissioner for District 2 would likely bring about a sea-change in policies enacted by the commission. It won’t be easy, but very important work seldom is. I urge you all to visit Eric’s site, make a contribution and volunteer to help him get elected. It is a down-ticket, low-visibility race, so it will take a concerted effort to take out a two-term incumbent. Let’s go!
In the meantime, stay tuned. We’ll get to the paradigm shift in a later post.
Definite Cantwell: 31
Inclined Cantwell: 24
Inclined McGavick: 14
Definite McGavick: 11
Definite Cantwell: 34
Inclined Cantwell: 13
Inclined McGavick: 14
Definite McGavick: 19
Of course, Goldy puts the most positive spin on the numbers that he can; "Yes, McGavick's "definite" support has grown faster than Cantwell's, but then starting from a meager 11 percent he had a helluva lot more upside." and this "And of course, let's put this all in context. McGavick has been running a paid media campaign 'unanswered' for the past six months, while Cantwell has been strategically sitting on a $6 million plus war chest." But, seriously, look at those numbers and ask yourself, how does an incumbent U.S. Senator with all of the built in media that entails, combined with such high profile Democrats as Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Barrack Obama, and even Russ Feingold coming to the state to campaign for her drop so much to a relatively unknown candidate as Mini-Slade?
Why it's those damned Progressives, of course! Or, as Goldy puts it, "What I see is Cantwell showing some weakness with her weakest supporters...".??? Here is what the Rasmussen poll discovered, "Cantwell attracts slightly more support from Democrats (82%) than McGavick does from Republicans (80%), but 8% of Democrats now say they would vote for another candidate altogether given a Cantwell-McGavick match-up..." Well I don't know about you but I can't wait for the July numbers. With Mark Wilson moving into the Cantwell camp as her 'Progressive Outreach Guy' and with the her recent vote for the Levin Amendment on troop deployment from Iraq (eventually at a date to be witheld), will the Progressives now settle into the "Inclined Cantwell" column or will they move on to Hong Tran in the September Primary?
Thursday, July 20, 2006
See if you can find the Pro-Labor - Pro-Environment Democrats below.
Cantwell (D) - Aye
Murray (D) - Not Voting
Baird (D) - Aye
Dicks (D) - Aye
Hastings(r) - Aye
Inslee (D) - Nay
Larsen (D) - Aye
McDermott (D)- Nay
McMorris (r) - Aye
Reichert (r) - Aye
Smith (D) - Aye
Note: only 22 House Democrats voted "Aye". Four of them came from Washington State.
Chad (The Left) Shue
Americans Killed: 2555
Americans Wounded: 18,988
Iraqi Dead: Est.: 43,709
Latest Confirmed Casualties:
*Sgt. Thomas B. Turner Jr., 31, of Cottonwood, Calif., died on July 14 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Landstuhl, Germany, of injuries sustained on July 13 in Al Muqdadiyah, Iraq.
*Sgt. Andres J. Contreras, 23, of Huntington Park, Calif., died on July 15 in Baghdad, Iraq.
*Staff Sgt. Jason M. Evey, 29, of Stockton, Calif., died on July 16 in Baghdad, Iraq.
*Sgt. Alkaila T. Floyd, 23, of Grand Rapids, Mich., died on July 13 in Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Landstuhl, Germany, of injuries sustained on July 8 in Ar Ramadi, Iraq.
*Staff Sgt. Michael A. Dickinson II, 26, of Battle Creek, Mich., died on July 17 in Ar Ramadi, Iraq.
*Cpl. Kenneth I. Pugh, 39, of Houston Texas, died on July 17 in Baghdad, Iraq.
*Sgt. 1st Class Scott R. Smith, 34, of Punxsutawney, Pa., died on July 17 in Al Iskandariyah, Iraq.
*Spc. Manuel J. Holguin, 21, of Woodlake, Calif., died on July 15 in Baghdad, Iraq.
Turkey Announces Readiness for Iraq
If the US does nothing to fight Turkish Kurdish guerillas there
By: Ruxandra Adam, News Editor
"Turkish officials announced today that their country is now fully prepared to go into Iraq, if American, as well as Iraqi, forces do not combat Turkish Kurdish guerilla troops in the area. However, many analysts have stated that such a political and military move would force Turkey to be at odds with the United States..."
Violence soaring despite growing number of Iraqi forces
By Tom Lasseter
"BAGHDAD, Iraq - Despite the addition of almost 100,000 U.S.-trained Iraqi troops in the past year, American efforts to pacify central Iraq and the capital appear to be failing, challenging a central assumption behind the U.S. strategy in Iraq: that training more Iraqi security forces will allow American troops to start going home.
The number of trained Iraqi soldiers and police grew from an estimated 168,670 in June 2005 to some 264,600 this June. Yet Baghdad's morgue is receiving nearly twice as many dead Iraqis each day as it did last year. The number of bombings causing multiple fatalities has risen steadily. Attacks on American and Iraqi troops last month grew 44 percent from June 2005..."
Chad (The Left) Shue
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
David Sirota continues to report on the Oman Free Trade Agreement that prompted my post here. In his latest post on this agreement, Sirota directs our attention to an apparent loophole in the act that would (again) place our ports on the global shopping block (re: Dubai Port Deal).
Sirota says, ”Three Democrats and one Republican held an emergency press conference today (Tuesday, 7/18/06) to expose the provisions just before the House is scheduled to vote on the Oman pact on Thursday. As Reuters reports, "Rep. John Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat who serves on the House Defense Appropriations subcommittee, said the pact would allow companies such as Dubai Ports World to acquire U.S. port operations by establishing a shell company in Oman." Those provisions might also allow foreign ownership of other key national security assets, considering just after the recent Dubai Ports controversy, that country went ahead with plans to purchase a major U.S. defense contractor.”
According to Rep. Murtha, ”If Dubai Ports World set up in Oman and then attempts to acquire a U.S. port operation and Congress intervenes ... (the Oman-U.S. Free Trade Agreement) would empower Dubai Ports World to drag the United States before UN or World Bank tribunals to demand we compensate the firm…” Murtha was joined at the press conference by fellow Democrat, Michael Michaud of Maine and North Carolina Republican, Walter Jones. Michaud added, ”It's bad enough that we're asked to support agreements that would shift more jobs overseas ... but it is simply unacceptable to ask Congress to support legislation that would essentially undermine the security of our nation…”
Obviously, the administration and Congressional “Free Traders” would have us believe that the odds of this type of action actually occurring are almost non-existent. However, when you look at the anti-labor and anti-environmental aspects of this pact and add this potential undermining of National Security, I suggest that the risks far outweigh the gains.
The Senate already passed their version of this act (with the support of our own Maria Cantwell). The House vote is set to occur on Thursday (tomorrow!). Contact your member of Congress and tell them to vote NO on the Oman Free Trade Agreement.
Chad (The Left) Shue
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Bush blocked probe into anti-terror spying
At testy Senate hearing, attorney general cites classified data
WASHINGTON - Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Tuesday that President Bush personally blocked Justice Department lawyers from pursuing an internal probe of the warrantless eavesdropping program that monitors Americans’ international calls and e-mails when terrorism is suspected..."
"...Under sharp questioning from Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter, Gonzales said that the president would not grant the access needed to allow the probe to move forward.
“It was highly classified, very important and many other lawyers had access. Why not OPR?” asked Specter, R-Pa., referring to the Office of Professional Responsibility.
“The president of the United States makes the decision,” Gonzales told the committee hearing, during which he was strongly criticized on a range of national security issues by Specter and Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, the panel’s senior Democrat..."
Obstruction of Justice
"...Federal obstruction of justice statutes have been used to prosecute government officials who have sought to prevent the disclosure of damaging information. The Watergate scandal of the 1970s involving President Richard M. Nixon is a classic example of this type of obstruction. A number of Nixon's top aides were convicted of obstruction of justice, including former attorney general John N. Mitchell. A federal grand jury named Nixon himself as an unindicted coconspirator for the efforts to prevent disclosure of White House involvement in the 1972 burglary of Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate building complex in Washington, D.C...."
Chad (The Left) Shue
Monday, July 17, 2006
According to Seattle Times reporter/blogger David Postman , in his speech to the republican convention in Yakima earlier this year, Roulstone said, ”The first thing we have to fix is to instruct our Congress that we want no more dithering, no more exploiting our difference for its own ends, no more partisan harping. We want it to get to work. Now!” While I can agree with Roulstone’s assessment of the situation, I think Jerry Cornfield of the Everett Herald hits the nail on the head when he writes, ”Convincing voters that his rebuke of Congress and vow of reform are sincere won’t be easy. From the beginning, he’s sought the counsel of those in charge of Congress and the chief political brain of the party, Karl Rove.”
In fact, since Roulstone kicked off his challenge of three-term Congressman Rick Larsen in the 2nd CD, his cast of supporting actors has included current House Speaker, Dennis Hastert and Vice-president “Dead Eye” Dick Cheney – who, in one of the most infamous examples of restraint from partisan harping, is reported to have told Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy (while on the floor of the U.S. Senate) to go F--- himself. Most recently former House Speaker and author of the 1994 “republican Contract on America” Newt Gingrich came to sing Roulstone’s praises. Newt said of Doug Roulstone possible election to Congress he would, ”…feel safer if Congress had fewer lawyers and more people who know how to run an aircraft carrier." Roulstone was unrestrained in his praise of Gingrich when he called him, "The man with ideas"
Gingrich’s new political “strategy” by the way, is the have the republicans declare World War III. Again according to David Postman, from his recent interview with the disgraced former Speaker, ” "This is World War III," Gingrich said. And once that's accepted, he said calls for restraint would fall away:
There is a public relations value, too. Gingrich said that public opinion can change "the minute you use the language" of World War III.”
Considering that these are the folks who have been “in charge” since before Rick Larsen even entered Congress (as a member of the minority party), if he really wants to “fix” Congress, maybe Roulstone should be looking to help Rick rather than attack him.
Chad (The Left) Shue
Sunday, July 16, 2006
I have tried to stay away from your decision to drop out of the senate race and go to work for the Cantwell campaign but you have crossed the line between former candidate and antagonist. According to the recent post from David Goldstein at Horsesass.org ”Wilson said he went into the race with eyes wide open, never expecting to have much of a chance of defeating Cantwell, and always publicly promising to enthusiastically endorse the Democratic nominee. A year and a half ago he thought he’d stick it out through the primary, but in recent months he started to fear that his campaign had not only become electorally futile, but counterproductive towards his larger goals. ” “…always publicly promising to enthusiastically endorse the Democratic nominee. “? Maybe you have forgotten this comment you made over at Washblog back in May, ” If I am unsuccessful in my bid for the Democratic nomination for the US Senate I will not campaign for Senator Cantwell. I will not publicly support any Democratic candidate that does not vote in accordance with or defend the Washington State Democratic Party Platform.”
In which recent months did you start to fear that your campaign was becoming counterproductive? Maybe it was in May when a group of your supporters stuck their necks out and fought to secure you the endorsement of their LD (something they were forced to eat a month later - and which tastes even more bitter now) and then joined the email and phone campaign with the Chair of the KCDCC to help you gain access to the King County Convention. Or was it in June when many of your supporters at the Cantwell Convention in Yakima ensured that your tee shirts and signs were always in view and helped you gain access to that prized podium? It seems that these were the very months in which Senator Cantwell started her real slide in the polls against McGavick – something that was leading others to believe you might have actually been correct in your assessment that she could not retain the seat in November.
Here’s a good one, ”And if lightening struck and he somehow won the nomination? Well, Wilson said, “that would have been a disaster” too. For as vocal as some of Cantwell’s critics have been they simply haven’t put their money where their mouth is. After 16 months of campaigning Wilson said he would be surprised if he had raised more than $40,000 total.
“That’s gas money,” a clearly exasperated Wilson exclaimed. “I didn’t raise enough money to run for City Council.”
Odd as it may seem, none of your supporters I have spoken to seem to remember you expressing these doubts at any time. Quite to the contrary, you continued to tell us that you fully expected to bring in your 3rd party support and not only do well in the primary but possibly even win. As for the money that you now refer to as the big stumbling block, I seem to remember a telephone conversation I had with you where you told me of a money connection you had in, I believe you said Hollywood, that you could tap for resources.
Since your conversion to "Progressive Outreach Guy", according to David Postman you said on Cantwell's position on Iraq, "I'm seeing an evolution." However, from the same post, "But Cantwell was clear -- at least as clear as she could be in the very short time allowed for questions at what was billed as a "major campaign announcement" -- that she has not changed her position on Iraq. She said recent statements she has made and the recent Senate vote calling for troop withdrawal beginning this year have been "a reaffirmation for people of what I've been saying."" As of yet, I still have heard of no movement on civil liberties (ie. the Patriot Act) or "Free Trade" (reference the recent Oman Free Trade Agreement passed with Cantwell's support in the Senate). Perhaps you can say, if she is re-elected, how will she vote on John Bolton at the UN when his "recess appointment" expires?
To say that your credibility amongst the very folks you are now expected to bring back into the Cantwell camp is somewhat strained would be the politically correct thing to say. However the real irony is that the only folks you seem to be reaching today are the ones that once referred to you as “a joke”. "Belltowner said...
Because Mark Wilson is a joke.
And, he's not a Democrat.
Also, he ran against liberal Democrat stalwarts Patty Murray (in 2004) and Jay Inslee (in 2002).
To sum up: Mark Wilson is a joke, and is not a Democrat. Maria Cantwell is a Democrat worthy of reelection, and actually is a Democrat. I will proudly vote for the Democrat!"
My friend Jackie Minchew who was one of your early supporters (along with a quite few more at the Progressive Caucus of Snohomish County Democrats) is Vice-chair of the 44th LD. He told me that you spoke to that group on Thursday night. Here is his impression:
” Mark arrived, unannounced as far as I know, as the meeting was under way and, at the request of Eric Wiseman, the agenda was suspended to allow Mark to speak and then catch a ferry. He began with a comment acknowledging the surprise some might feel at seeing him in his present position. He then went through all the reasons he was, and we should be, supporting Maria now. His words rang hollow to me, contradicting, as they did, most of what he had been running on. The thought occurred to me that sending him out to shill for Maria so quickly after his conversion might have been intended as a special form of punishment or humiliation. Maybe that's just me.
There were some questions as to whether or not Mark had any clear indication that Maria might be inclined to change any of her unpopular positions with regard to the war, the Patriot Act, etc. His answers, while intended to suggest a measure of hopefulness, didn't convince me.
After Mark's presentation, there was a motion and a second to endorse Maria. The motion carried, though there were some "no" votes and some abstentions, including my own.
While I don't question his decision - we all have to make and abide by the consequences of our own decisions - I did feel somewhat sad for him. And I felt let down by him.”
Well Jackie is certainly not alone in that regard.
Chad (The Left) Shue
Saturday, July 15, 2006
Americans Killed: 2546
Americans Wounded: 18,777
Iraqi Dead: Est.: 43,568
Latest Confirmed Casualties:
*Staff Sgt. Omar D. Flores, 27, of Mission, Texas died in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, on July 8.
*Spc. Troy C. Linden, 22, of Detroit Lakes, Minn. died in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, on July 8.
*Spc. Joseph P. Micks, 22, of Rapid River, Mich. died in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, on July 8.
*Sgt. Justin L. Noyes, 23, of Vinita, Okla., died July 2 in Al Anbar province, Iraq.
*Sgt. Duane J. Dreasky, 31, of Novi, Mich., died on July 10, in the Brooke Army Medical Center, San Antonio, Texas, of injuries sustained in Habbaniyah, Iraq, on Nov. 21.
*Sgt. Irving Hernandez Jr., 28, of New York, N.Y., died in Mosul, Iraq, on July 12.
*Spc. Damien M. Montoya, 21, of Holbrook, Ariz., died in Baghdad, Iraq, on July 9.
*Petty Officer 1st Class Jerry A. Tharp, 44, of Muscatine, Iowa, died July 12 in the Al Anbar province of Iraq.
Chad (The Left) Shue
Thursday, July 13, 2006
As most people know, Congressman John Murtha (D-PA), a decorated Marine, was an early supporter of the debacle that is the Bush Iraq policy. He has since come to recognize that our continuing presence there is a mistake. He has spoken to top military leaders inside the Pentagon and on the ground in that country to reach this conclusion. For his dedication to country (both in uniform and in the Congress) Rep. Murtha has been branded a "lefty" and an advocate of the infamous "cut and run" policy so widely embraced by the Democrats (tongue firmly planted in cheek here). For some six months, until just a couple of weeks ago, it seems Democrats couldn't run away from him fast enough.
It is with this introduction that I proudly present:
Murtha compares cost of war and domestic expenses
A Report by Congressman John Murtha
(Washington D.C.)- We are spending $8 billion a month in Iraq. That equates to $2 billion a week, or $267 million a day, or $11 million an hour.(emphasis mine TLS)
The following are some comparisons between what we are spending in Iraq as we "stay the course" indefinitely and what those funds could be used for instead.
I've been fighting for our military to get out of Iraq because I'm concerned about the loss of our troops and the future of our military, and also because I believe they have accomplished their mission there and the Iraqis must resolve their internal conflict themselves. However, I also wanted to demonstrate what these expenses mean to domestic policy in the United States and give you an idea of just some of the things that we could accomplish with this amount of money.
$31.7 billion/yr Homeland Security budget FY 07 = (4 months in Iraq)
$10 billion (1-time) Equipping commercial airliners with defenses against shoulder-fired missiles = (5 weeks in Iraq)
$8.6 billion/7 years Shortage of international aid needed to rebuild Afghanistan = (one month in Iraq)
$5.2 billion (1-time) Estimated need for capital improvements to secure public transportation system (trains, subways, buses) = (3 weeks in Iraq)
$1.5 billion/year Radiation detectors needed at all US ports (rejected due to cost) = (5 days in Iraq)
$1.4 billion/ year Double the COPS (community police grants) program (5 days in Iraq)
$800 million/year Public transportation personnel training and technical support = (72 hours in Iraq)
$700 million/year 100% screening of all air cargo - rejected because of cost (1/4 of domestic shipping and 1/2 of international shipping is done on passenger planes) = (2 days in Iraq)
$350 million (1-time) Make emergency radio systems interoperable (5 years after 9/11, this hasn't happened yet) = (1.2 days in Iraq)
$500 million/year Double the firefightersÃ grant program = (2 days in Iraq)
$94 million/year Restore cuts to cities hit on 9/11 in Homeland Security budget = (8-1/2 hours in Iraq)
$36 billion/5 years reduction for Medicare spending in president's fiscal year 2007 (FY 07) budget = (4-1/2 months in Iraq)
$5 billion/5 years Cut in Medicaid in President's FY 2007 budget = (2-1/2 weeks in Iraq)
$2.5 billion/5 years VA health care premium increases in this year's budget. Premiums will double or triple and drug co-payments will increase, costing our military retirees $2.4 billion over 5 years
= (9 days in Iraq)
$100 million Additional funding recommended for mental health research for veterans = (9 hours in Iraq)
$48 million Medical and prosthetic research for veterans = (half a day in Iraq)
$65 million/yr National Institutes of Health research funding cuts in this year's budget (scientists are leaving the field of health research because funding has been cut so severely) = (6 hours in Iraq)
$15 billion/yr Provide health insurance to 9 million children with no health insurance = (1-1/2 weeks in Iraq)
$118 million/yr The Commodity Supplemental Food Program, which provides nutritional food packages for less than $20 a month to more than 400,000 elderly people - eliminated in the president's budget ... = (12 hours in Iraq)
There is more to the report (including things specific to Murtha's home state of Pennsylvania. I recommend that you read the entire report. You should write the numbers down and then you should ask your Congressional Delegation (Rs and Ds) if they are familiar with these numbers. You should ask them if the are concerned about Homeland Security and National Defense and the healthcare needs of our nation's veterans. Then you should ask when they are going to start working with Congressman Murtha to end the travesty in Iraq and start working on the needs in this country.
Chad (The Left) Shue
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
*********Doug and Dick**********
To My Fellow 2nd CD Progressives:
The man pictured above with "Dead-Eye" Dick Cheney is Capt. Doug Roulstone (USN Ret). This is the team that will benefit from your absence should you choose to withold your vote from Rick Larsen in November.
I just thought you might like to know.
Chad (The Left) Shue
So what is Zemke’s post based on? He opens,
”Of course! If Karl Rove wanted to misdirect progressive Democrats away from the national strategy of taking control of the U.S. Senate and/or House, what better way than to have the Democrats fighting each other over, of all things, Bush's never ending War in Iraq.
It's time for those Democrats who question Senator Cantwell's position on Iraq to realize that Iraq is not her war. She did not start it but she is part of the dialogue looking for a solution. She is a member of a minority party. Republicans run Washington, not Senator Cantwell or any other Democrat.”
Where does Steve direct our attention for this analysis? He sends us to that noted republican shill Eleanor Clift and one of her enlightening commentaries done for MSNBC/Newsweek. If you bother to read the whole piece you will note that there is also insightful observation from recognized DLC strategist, Matt Bennett of Third Way, a Democratic centrist group. Well, as they say, it pays to know what the enemy knows.
So for the second time in this campaign season I have heard the “It’s not our war” strategy.
There are many problems with your strategy Steve. In my opening paragraph I have listed one but let’s examine a couple more. You will never win the “It’s not our (her) war” argument. Senators vote Steve. They have a record. No one put a gun to Cantwell’s head and said “Vote for this or else.” Here is the language that Senator Cantwell voted for:
“AUTHORIZATION- The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to--
(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and
(2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.”
There is nothing ambiguous about that language. This authorizes the President, and the President ALONE, to determine the use of military force. It says, ‘If you choose to invade, we stand behind you – you have our blessing’. Now while you would have us believe that Senator Cantwell has no responsibility for the invasion and subsequent – ongoing – occupation of Iraq, the senator herself has repeatedly taken responsibility for that vote with its consequences and has continued to express her lack of regret for it. By the way, sharing Mini-Slade McGavick's views on Iraq: "The U.S. cannot retreat from the War on Terror or countries like Iraq will turn into the worst hotbeds of terror the world has ever witnessed." and "U.S. forces will come home from Iraq when the job is finished. Setting a timetable for troop pullout gives the advantage to America's terrorist enemies." only succeeds in showing how similar he and Cantwell are on the issue - not a winning strategy.
Perhaps the weakest part of your strategy, however, is the suggestion that somehow the very act of challenging our candidates on their issues and positions during a primary campaign weakens us in a general election. I would turn this back to you and say that, by attempting to stifle a real democratic exchange you only succeed in further alienating those members of the party who feel that their views and opinions are not valued by the party. I would say to you that this will only succeed in driving even more potential Democratic voters into the arms of the 3rd parties or simply cause them to stay home.
Now, you may not be a part of the majority opinion in the country but that opinion is that OUR invasion of Iraq has not been worth the price in blood and treasure and, therefore, was the wrong action for OUR government to pursue. Recent polls in this state indicate that some 59% want us to leave that country on a time frame very similar to the one that Senators Feingold and Kerry just presented to the Senate. Senator Cantwell voted against that resolution. Cantwell accepts responsibility for her vote to authorize the invasion which was also opposed by the majority in this state at the time. We, as Democratic voters have the right and obligation to ask her when she will decide to represent the majority of her constituents on this vital issue.
Finally, the last time I checked, Karl Rove was not a registered voter in this state. If you don’t have the anatomy to face down Karl Rove, don’t try to stop the rest of us from asking Senator Cantwell to do it.
Chad (The Left) Shue
Monday, July 10, 2006
Mr. BIDEN submitted an amendment intended to be proposed by him to the bill H.R. 4939, making emergency supplemental appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2006, and for other purposes; which was ordered to lie on the table; as follows:
On page 253, between lines 19 and 20, insert the following:
PROHIBITION ON USE OF FUNDS FOR CERTAIN PURPOSES IN IRAQ
SEC. 7032. None of the funds made available by title I of this Act may be made available to establish permanent military bases in Iraq or to exercise control over the oil infrastructure or oil resources of Iraq.
On April 16th, The U.S. Housed passed by voice vote the following amendment to the same "Emergency Supplemental":
Sponsor: Rep Lee, Barbara [CA-9] (offered 3/16/2006)
An amendment to prohibit the use of funds from being available to enter into a basing rights agreement between the United States and Iraq.
Amendment (A050) offered by Ms. Lee. (consideration: CR H1107-1110; text: CR H1107)
On agreeing to the Lee amendment (A050) Agreed to by voice vote.
Now Senator Cantwell has said (and both Mark Wilson and Dal LaMagna have said they understand from her) that she opposes permanent bases in Iraq. In fact, the above votes indicate that the entire U.S. Senate and a majority in the U.S. House are opposed to such permanent bases.
On the 15th of June the final version of the "Emergency Supplemental" was passed 98-1 in the Senate (republican, Arlan Spector was the only Nay) and 351-67 in the House (with Inslee, McDermott, and Smith voting "Nay").
So here's the thing:The above language about "no permanent bases" had been REMOVED in the final Conference Bill that was passed.
To this day, the ONLY member of the United States Congress that I have heard complain or even mention the removal of this language has been Rep. Lee during the recent farce billed as a debate on Iraq in the U.S. House.
Perhaps Senator Cantwell or one of her newly hired Progressives can tell us what happened to that language, who had the language removed, and why we have not heard any demand to introduce and pass a specific bill to remedy that error on the part of the Congress.
Chad (The Left) Shue
Sunday, July 09, 2006
There will be some who will ask of me (as they did when Howard Dean dropped out and endorsed John Kerry), if you were a Mark Wilson supporter and he now endorses Cantwell, why don’t you follow. To them, my answer remains the same. Mark Wilson, just as Howard Dean, gave voice and a face to my issues and values. However, the race was never about him but, rather, about those issues and values that I care about most. I have not seen the shift in Cantwell that Mark alludes to in his statements of new found support. As a matter of fact, Seattle Times columnist and new Blogger, David Postman relates in his Blog Postman on Politics “Asked specifically about Cantwell's position on the Iraq war and occupation, Wilson said, "I'm seeing an evolution." But Cantwell was clear -- at least as clear as she could be in the very short time allowed for questions at what was billed as a "major campaign announcement" -- that she has not changed her position on Iraq. She said recent statements she has made and the recent Senate vote calling for troop withdrawal beginning this year have been "a reaffirmation for people of what I've been saying."” (Bold emphasis mine. TLS)
In a personal phone conversation that I had with Mark on Saturday (confirming that he would be dropping out of the race and going to work for the Cantwell campaign), he told me that after a face to face meeting he had with the senator, he felt that she had indeed shifted her stance on Iraq. He said that he had asked her the important question about, “If you knew then what you know now…” He said that she told him that under those circumstances there would not have been a vote. I felt concerned that I had to point out to Mark Wilson that the answer only dodged the question and did not say how she might vote in the future (think Iran). I suggested to Mark that the issue was not about this vote but instead should be focused on her position on the policy of unprovoked pre-emptive war. To my mind, Senator Cantwell, just as Joe Lieberman and the rest of the DLC crowd has yet to criticize the policy – only the way Bush has bungled the job. He said that he would continue to press her to be clearer on the subject. Mark was not able to reassure me on the issue of the Patriot Act and if he felt Cantwell “got it” on the question of civil liberties. He certainly did not have any answer on her “Free Trade” votes (as recently as last week). Please do not misread these comments as a harsh criticism of Mark. I respect his decision and wish him the very best. I expect to see him sometime soon as the new “Progressive Outreach Guy” (I just made that up).
To those in the larger Progressive community who would suggest to me that I move toward a 3rd party candidate in November, I say this: While we agree on most things, you have not earned my support at this time. Where have you been for the past six years? In the case of the Green Party, you can’t even present me with a candidate who has bothered to vote never mind stand up publicly against these issues coming from our Congress. I know even less about Mr. Guthrie of the Libertarians. You have not done the vital work necessary to build a party that can attain more than a single digit percentage of the vote. While I do have extreme reservation about Senator Cantwell’s desire to represent my values in the senate, I am absolutely certain that this state and this country cannot benefit from sending Mini-Slade to Washington DC. One area where Mark and I continue to agree is this, anything short of voting for the Democrat in November assures a republican pick-up in this seat. Voting 3rd party to prove a point or punish Cantwell or even just staying home simply increases McGavick’s advantage. If you want to make a real difference in 2008 or 2012, get to work building a real statewide party structure. Or, to quote John Lennon, ”You say you want a Revolution, well you know, we’d all love to see the plan.” Without the plan, you will still just be part of the problem.
In an interesting piece of (unintended?) irony I just ran across this in the Seattle PI piece on Wilson's endorsement of Cantwell: "On Sunday, Cantwell said that instead of the immediate withdrawal many Democratic activists want, she believes the U.S. should stay in Iraq until the situation is stabilized. She said she supports benchmarks and deadlines for turning over the running of Iraq to the newly elected government.
"No one believes we should write a blank check," Cantwell said."
Gee Senator, we didn;t think you should be issuing blank checks in October of 2002 either.
Chad (The Left) Shue
Americans Killed: 2543
Americans Wounded: 18,777
Iraqi Dead: Est.: 43,336
Latest Confirmed Casualties:
*Airman 1st Class Carl Jerome Ware Jr., 22, of Glassboro, N.J.,died July 1 at Camp Bucca, Iraq.
*Spc. Kyle R. Miller, 19, of Willmar, Minn., died on June 29 in Mosul, Iraq.
*Pfc. Collin T. Mason, 20, of Staten Island, N.Y., died in Taji, Iraq, on July 2.
*Sgt. James P. Muldoon, 23, of Bells, Texas, died on June 29 in Balad, Iraq.
*Staff Sgt. Paul S. Pabla, 23, of Fort Wayne, Ind., died on July 3 in Mosul, Iraq.
Iraq: A Year of Transition - Day: 190
We are now beyond the six months mark of the DLC inspired “Year of Transition” slogan. What are the benchmarks we can see?
According to the DoD, 355 American troops died in Iraq between January 1 and June 30, 2006 (6 from Washington State). During that same period of time, some 2430 American troops were listed as wounded in action.
By following news reports, it can be determined that, while there is much talk about “reducing troops strength”, “withdrawing American forces”, or the always popular “cutting and running”, since January of this year, American forces in Iraq have INCREASED from approximately 138,000 at the end of 2005 to some 160,000 by the end of June; an increase of some 22,000 troops.
And how is this “Year of Transgression” thing working out for the Iraqis?
According the Website, Iraq Body Count, somewhere between 10 and 12 thousand Iraqi civilians have been killed by action directly related to the occupation of that country thus far in 2006. There is no reliable accounting of the wounded. According to a news report dated May 8, ”MORE than 100,000 people have fled their homes in Iraq since late February because of the insurgency and rising sectarian bloodshed, up from 65,000 just over two weeks ago, Iraqi officials said.”
What of the billions of American tax dollars (on IOU of course) that have been allocated for Iraqi reconstruction? Well, according to a report by the BBC (finding objective reporting on this from the US Government is a joke), ” Electricity generation at best meets half of estimated demand and fell below pre-war levels in early 2006. A 2004 survey found just over half of households had a stable supply of safe drinking water.” It should be noted that, while the Iraqis are standing in line for clean water and are only able to run electrical appliances for less than six hours per day, the single largest construction project completed in their country has been the world’s largest embassy where US diplomats can reside in air conditioned comfort. It should also be brought into the light of day that, while the Democrats tell us that they are against any permanent military bases in Iraq, the very language that would have prevented that from happening (which was passed overwhelmingly in both the House and the Senate versions) was stripped from the final conference version of the latest funding bill passed by both houses of Congress and only Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) has spoken up about this action.
So what are the prospects for the remainder of this “Year of Transitory Policy”? Just recently in the U.S. Senate, there were votes allowed by the neo-cons on two resolutions put forth by the Democrats about bringing American Forces out of Iraq. One measure (supported by just 13 members of the loyal opposition) called for some specifics from the administration on when we can expect the Iraqis to take full control of their country and we can START bringing troops out of that country. The other measure (supported by more members, including our own Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell) simply asked for a plan – any plan for withdrawal; nothing specific, no timeline, no dates – in keeping with the “Year of…” strategy. Both of these resolutions went down in flames. On the U.S. House side of things, the republican majority (with the help of some 41 Democrats – including Rick Larsen and Adam Smith - who departed from their party’s overwhelming position) just passed a non-binding “Sense of the Congress” resolution that essentially codifies the invasion and continuing occupation of Iraq as an integral piece in the so-called “Global War on Terror.”
And just how does the prospect of Iraqis “standing up” to take control of their country look? Well, according to and article in the Detroit Free Press, ” WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon has stopped releasing its assessment of the number of Iraqi army units deemed capable of battling insurgents without U.S. military help…” The report goes on to say, “The decision to stop making the information public came after reports showed a steady decline in the number of qualified Iraqi units. That number now is classified, said Air Force Lt. Gen. Victor Renuart, director of strategic plans and policy for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.” And what was the latest assessment before the numbers went underground? ”Last June, the Pentagon said three Iraqi battalions were ready to fight by themselves. By last fall, that number had dropped to one. By February, that number had fallen to zero, meaning there were no Iraqi units capable of taking on the insurgency without help.”
So is there any good news to report in this “Year of Transition”? Apparently the Iraqis have all of the pieces of their own government in place now and – here is the ray of hope: Mouwafak al-Rubaie, Iraq's national security adviser, said the number of coalition forces will likely drop below 100,000 by year's end. He also said most coalition forces will leave before mid-2008.
Maybe we should ask Mr. Al-Rubaie to come address our Congress.
Chad (The Left) Shue
Saturday, July 08, 2006
There will be an official announcement on this tomorrow afternoon so I will respect Mark's option to speak to the Progressives who have stood with him during this challenge before I offer my own view. I will also do my best to get a more in depth interview with Mark as soon as he has a couple of minutes to put his views on paper.
Chad (The Left) Shue
Friday, July 07, 2006
“Cantwell by the Numbers” the Washington Post released their current assessment of the Washington State Senate race today. In the report they say, “No credible poll we've seen of late has Cantwell over 50 percent or with a lead of more than five to seven points.” They go on to say, (republican candidate Mike “mini-Slade”) "McGavick has gained ground on Cantwell since January when she was ahead 15 percentage points in the polls.” As I assert in my original post, this is a misinterpretation of the poll numbers which clearly show a slide for Cantwell rather than a pick-up for McGavick. Of course they attribute this (also incorrectly in my estimation) entirely to the “the ire of the liberal left…” over her pro-Iraq War vote. In fact, as I have pointed out in various posts here and her primary opponent, Mark Wilson has been saying for well over a year, there are a number of issues that have set Cantwell apart from her Progressive base. Her support for the Patriot Act and for so-called Free Trade issues are just two of the other areas where she has lost ground with her own party.
The WP analysis probably addresses the concern of the Cantwell campaign (and I would think the state party as well) fairly well by suggesting, “The question is not whether disaffected Democrats defect to McGavick but whether they stay home on Election Day.” I also believe they have correctly stated the “assumption” of the campaign as well when they say, “…Cantwell is banking on the fact that once the Democratic primary takes place in September; Democrats will unite behind her as the lesser of two evils.”
I don’t know about you but I am tired of “lesser” and I am certainly tired of “evil”. In September, Washington Democrats will have the opportunity to vote to a positive change in the U.S. Senate. Mark Wilson stands FOR American Labor, FOR American Civil Liberties, FOR Universal Healthcare, FOR a Responsible Energy Policy. As a matter of fact, the only thing Mark Wilson is against is the entire Bush/Neo-con/DLC agenda.
Chad (The Left) Shue
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Now, any time I see the words “Free Trade”, I immediately cringe. I mean, in spite of the continuing claims by the so-called Free Traders in the senate, this country is still suffering a net loss of jobs (especially living wage jobs) and an ever growing trade deficit. Where I am mostly at a loss, however, is when Democrats such as Maria Cantwell, who claim to be defenders of worker’s rights and environmental protection, simply close their eyes and ears to those very concerns and vote with the neo-con/DLCers. In addition to Cantwell, other “Free Trade Democrats” to vote for this agreement were: Baucus (MT), Clinton (NY), Kerry (MA), Landrieu (LA), Lieberman (CT), Nelson (FL), Nelson (NE), Obama (IL) and Salazar (CO). (Patty Murray gets a “pass” here because she was not in DC for the vote; make your own guess as to where you think she would have been on this.)
So what benefits can American labor unions gain from this deal with that trading power house, Oman? According to Citizens Trade Campaign , a coalition of environmental, labor, consumer, family farm, religious, and other civil society groups:
“As in CAFTA, the Oman Free Trade Agreement requires, with a minimal level of enforcement, only that Oman enforce its existing labor law. This would perpetuate the NAFTA/CAFTA model that ensures that good jobs will flow out of the United States to be done under artificially low-wage conditions in our trading partner nations…””…Omani labor law gives the government an entirely inappropriate level of oversight and control over the activities, meetings, finances, and selection of representatives of the national and industrial “worker representative committees.” It fails to explicitly protect workers who participate in these committees or who engage in strikes from anti-union discrimination. While all workers in Oman are denied basic labor rights, the large foreign workforce, the majority of workers in Oman, are especially vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. The State Department has found both forced labor and Human trafficking in Oman.”
Well then, what environmental protections will be enforced via this agreement? According to a coalition of environmental watchdog groups including The Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth :
”The Oman and Peru Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) contain the same weak and unenforceable Environment Chapters that plagued CAFTA - Like CAFTA, the agreements fail to clearly require either country to maintain and effectively enforce a set of basic environmental laws and regulations. - There are no binding obligations for countries to comply with their existing commitments under international environmental agreements and no penalty for countries that do not enforce these obligations. Nor are countries required to adopt the provisions of key international environmental agreements, including biodiversity and species protection agreements…”
So who does benefit from this agreement? According to the Center for Policy Analysis on Trade and Health :
”Industries sitting on Advisory Committees to the U.S. Trade Representative include tobacco, alcohol, pharmaceuticals, health insurance, and processed foods…””…In its Advisory Committee report, the pharmaceutical industry and allies hailed the Oman agreement for including rules that extend the length of time drugs are covered by patent protections, and that preclude fair market competition from generic companies that could lower prices…””…The FTA would eliminate tobacco tariffs that now effectively control the use of deadly tobacco products in Oman. Oman has a high 100% tariff on tobacco products now. The FTA would bar Oman from raising its tariff higher. To the contrary, the 100% duty is required to be phased out for US tobacco exports in ten years…” And, finally, “…By covering health care and other services under trade rules, the Oman FTA would facilitate privatization of these services, making them less affordable and less publicly accountable. While health is universally recognized as a human right, it may become a market commodity if trade agreements do not protect affordable universal access to health care.”
Now I don’t know about you, but I do not recall being approached by Senator Cantwell’s office about this to see where her constituents might stand on this issue. I mention this only because this issue now goes to the U.S. House where our representatives will have the opportunity to stand up to this continuing sell out of American jobs and environmental protections. There is time for you to reach out to your congressman to ask them to do what Cantwell will not.
The time to reach out to Senator Cantwell will come in September when you will have the opportunity to let her know that you prefer Mark Wilson’s position on Fair Trade versus “Free Trade” and his commitment to protections for America’s workers over Global Corporations.
Chad (The Left) Shue
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Lillian Kaufer is running for State Senate in Snohomish County’s 44th LD; a position currently held by republican, Dave Schmidt. She is the mother of two beautiful and charming daughters and, with her husband Patrick, owns and operates a successful small business in the district. She has experience as a paralegal and has been a strong voice in leading the fight to stop Wal*Mart’s further encroachment into the area. Lillian is articulate and passionate when it comes to the issues that most directly impact working families. She is a force in her LD and is growing as a formidable candidate every day. She does face a primary opponent in this race and has accepted that challenge as further motivation to get out into the precincts and spend much of her time meeting the voters of the 44th face to face.
I was pleased to have the opportunity to put some questions to her between events in her busy campaign schedule
TLS: So why would someone who is raising two children and running a small business with your husband want to run for state senate? What was that catalyst that caused you to declare yourself a candidate?
Lillian: Actually, I had a pretty nice gig going for me. I worked out regularly at LA Fitness, my girls would compete in Cheerleading and my husband and I have built a pretty successful business. Then Bush happened. I learned a lot about the impact of conservative policy through some great blogs and decided I had to do more than just vote. I volunteered for Kerry and other Democratic candidates in the 2004 election cycle and when Kerry lost, I figured that I can't change DC, but I can make a difference here in Washington. Since then, I became a PCO, joined the Executive Board for the 44th LD and have been an active Democrat in the district helping raise money and building the grassroots.
I had thought about running for some time but wasn't sure what I would run for. At the State Democratic Crab Feed in February, I spoke with Jackie Minchew, Carol Cates and Kelly Wright. They talked me into considering a run for State Senate. After speaking with (Snohomish County Dems Chair) Mark Hintz, (WSDCC Rules Chair) Todd Nichols and (44th LD State Rep.) John Lovick about it, I decided to go for it. I have been fighting the Mill Creek Wal-Mart and speaking at County Council and City Council about living wage jobs, health insurance and responsible development over the past year. I did a show with Dave Ross on Fair Share Healthcare and had received some media regarding these issues. I am very passionate about Democratic principles and values and have been actively fighting to move our agenda forward. What better way to be effective than to serve as the next State Senator for the 44th Legislative District?
TLS: So how is the campaign coming? How many doorbells and phone calls? How many volunteers do you have helping you? Of course, my least favorite question but the one that seems to drive the “powers that be”, how’s the fundraising coming? I hear you have (Former 8th CD candidate turned major fundraising force) Randy Gordon supporting your campaign. Will he be helping in that regard?
Lillian: The Campaign is going so great. After a difficult beginning where some of the old guard of the Democratic Party tried to discourage me, the grassroots really came in behind me with support and the sole endorsement of the 44th Legislative District Democrats. Many of the PCO's, Wal-Mart fighters, Working For Change activist members, and friends have pulled out all the stops. I have 98 volunteers on the board now and we have doorbelled 7,632 doors as of Monday, June 26. We have knocked out 5 more precincts this week.
What is impressive and amazing to me is the fact that 99% of the $27,327.83 raised as of June 26 is from individual grassroots contributors. That is just incredible. People who have never given to a political campaign or helped in one have stepped up to support a true Democrat to represent and fight for working families.
And yes, Randy Gordon is helping me. He has decided to turn his Congressional PAC into a Progressive PAC and will be donating $1,400 to my campaign as well as helping to raise money for me through his network of associates. I met him at Yvonne Ward's kick-off and he gave me 3 minutes to talk to him. He was immediately excited about my campaign and came out to my house party Saturday June 24th with his girlfriend Jean. Jean by the way is the woman responsible for writing and passing I-120, establishing a Woman's Right to Choose in Washington State, she is an incredible lady.
TLS: There has been some controversy surrounding your campaign and “Labor”. I noticed, for instance, that the State Labor Council has endorsed your primary opponent. What is your relationship with the local labor folks and why do you think you will have their full support when you win the primary?
Lillian: Labor had recruited and promised my primary opponent their support if he ran. They were not aware of my intentions to run until March. I have the support of the largest labor organization, United Food and Commercial Workers and the Teamsters Everett Locals. After a few "controversial" episodes, constant contact and further discussions with labor leaders have proven to be fruitful. I appreciate and respect their decision to keep their promise to my opponent and expect that when I win this primary, they will in fact be behind me 100%. I have been fighting for working families and on labor issues on my personal time over the past year and will continue to do so in the State Senate.
TLS: The incumbent state senator from the 44th LD, republican Dave Schmidt is considered by many to be a moderate who exudes family values. Do you have some particular issues that you believe you will be able to challenge him on? Have you done much research into his voting record?
Lillian: Hate is not a "family value", nor is ignorance or leaving our children and parents under funded and neglected. Senator Schmidt only changed his voting patterns this past session as he has his sights set on running for County Auditor next year and knows that a Bush Republican would never win him that seat in this County. But a Bush Republican he is. The man became an overnight environmentalist only this past session. Before that, he had only a 15% voting record on environmental issues. He has never been on the side of working families, supported living wage jobs or access to health care. Do not let Schmidt fool you, he is no moderate and I will be making certain that the 44th District voters are reminded of how far right he really is. He will not even support medically accurate sex education for our youth. I believe Snohomish has had enough conservatism to last a lifetime, and we want change.
TLS: In the 44th, you have two strong Democratic State reps in John Lovick and Hans Dunshee. Have they been very helpful to your campaign to this point? Being a first-time candidate, who have you been looking to for advice and mentoring?
Lillian: Hans and John have been incredibly supportive in my campaign. Hans supports me entirely and has helped train me on doorbelling and public speaking. They have made appearances at my house parties and the kick-off in show of support and have given me a great amount of positive encouragement. We coordinate our doorbelling so that we are not overlapping each other. I have also received a great deal of help and encouragement from (Snohomish County Councilman) Dave Somers who went through a very similarly grueling primary last year. My consultant John Wyble has been a treasure. He makes running for office fun and has been a great friend. (38th LD State Rep.) John McCoy, who also had a tough primary when he ran, was the first to endorse my campaign and he is full of wisdom and great compassion. Todd Nichols and Millie Judge are great resources and have given me great advice as well as Mark Hintz and a number of other wonderful long time Democrats. Most recently, (37th LD) State Senator Adam Kline has also jumped on board. He has given me some great pearls of wisdom and support and I am ever so grateful for all the help and support from these folks, our local grassroots Democrats and many more. I could not do this without any of them. This is truly a group effort.
TLS: Finally, what can folks, both in and out of the district, do to help your campaign? Are you set up to receive online contributions? Do you have an events calendar so that folks might be able to come and give you a listen and get to meet you?
Lillian: I have a Website at lillianforsenate.com and do accept online contributions through PayPal or you can print out a form and mail in a check. The Website has events listed and we have several events coming up in July as we just finished a very busy June. Most importantly, if you live in a district with a strong Democrat and no challenger, please consider coming over and joining our grassroots canvassing outings or offer to phone bank out of reach precincts. We will be out canvassing in groups every weekend in July in different areas of the district. If you prefer, you can do your own precinct or one without a PCO on a weekday or at your own pace. Contact the campaign at email@example.com and sign up to help.
In addition to receiving the sole endorsement of the 44th LD and the various Labor groups she mentioned, Lillian has been endorsed by the Progressive Caucus of Snohomish County Democrats and Democracy for Snohomish County. She certainly has the support and endorsement of this blogger. If you would like to put some time in to support a good Progressive Democrat, here are some of the July events from Lillian’s calendar:
Please join one of Lillian's canvass parties listed below:
July 8, 11am at Thomas Lake Albertsons parking lot
July 9, 11am at Thomas Lake Albertsons parking lot
July 15, 11am at Mill Creek Staples parking lot
July 16, 11am at Mill Creek Staples Parking lot
July 22, 11am at Marysville Location TBD
July 23 11am at Marysville Location TBD
July 29 11am at Lake Stevens Location TBD
Chad (The Left) Shue
On Iraq, Rick (because he voted against the invasion) has the moral authority to hold the Bush Administration responsible for their pre-invasion rhetoric as he does in the article about the degraded chemical munitions. Unfortunately, he continues to view the ongoing occupation through the prism of the Defense Department. Just like Maria Cantwell, Rick seems to restrict his intelligence on Iraq to DoD briefings given by the generals whose careers depend on staying in good favor with Don Rumsfeld. While independent reports continue to decry the life conditions in that country – decreased access to electricity, clean water, and medical care – since our invasion, the unabated loss of life (both American and Iraqi), and the extremely high unemployment rate (a major contributor to the ongoing resistance), Larsen believes that conditions are improving and that the “Year of Transition” position of the DLC is a real strategy. Perhaps my moment of greatest personal disappointment with Rick (this year) was his recent vote to approve the latest Rovian resolution in the House that basically declared that the invasion of Iraq was an integral part of the so-called War on Terror. Larsen, along with 41 other House Democrats broke ranks with the Democratic Caucus and gave in to the bullying of the neo-con majority who wrote the resolution in such a way that a “No” vote could be used politically as a “vote against the troops”.
Socially, Rep. Larsen remains a mixed bag as well. Rick’s commitment to civil rights, civil liberties, and women’s rights remain unchallenged. However, Larsen’s voting record on issues that pit the individual consumer against corporate interests still leave many to scratch their heads. Rick’s consistent votes (as recently as last month) to repeal the Estate Tax, coupled with his vote in favor of the so-called Bankruptcy Reform Act leave him squarely outside the mainstream of his party. I must admit (even after a pleasant discussion with his Chief of Staff, Jeff Bjornstad, at a recent Drinking Liberally) I’m still not sure what to make of his position on Net Neutrality. While he did vote against passage of the latest Tele-com legislation, he previously voted against the Markey-Inslee “Net Neutrality Amendment” to that same legislation.
Personally, I like Rick. On the few occasions we have had a chance to talk, I find him to very personable and engaging. Even on the positions where we disagree, he explains his positions as coming from a place of personal conviction and not any political posturing. With the possible exception of this recent “Iraq Resolution” vote I have no reason to doubt him. This is not to say that I wouldn’t prefer a more “Inslee-like” representative in my district. I certainly would. However, when the rumblings in the Progressive Community in the 2nd CD start up about the possibility of not supporting Rick in 2006, I simply ask where “our” candidate is. I am not willing to sacrifice this seat to the republicans by “sitting this one out” and, unlike the case of Maria Cantwell (where the stakes of a six year term are much higher and Mark Wilson offers a real alternative), there is no one who has done the ground work necessary to offer a real Progressive challenge to Rick Larsen this year. What I suggest to my Progressive friends is this: Let’s make sure that we help Rick keep this seat for the Democrats in 2006 (helping to ensure a Democratic house majority) but then, let’s get together on November 12th to start mapping out that 2008 strategy.
Chad (The Left) Shue