Tuesday, July 31, 2007

McNerney: I'm willing to consider more war

USA Today:
"As long as we start at a certain date I'd be willing to be a little more flexible in terms of when it might end," McNerney said.

Stockton Record:
He said his conversations convinced him that, at least in Ramadi, the U.S. military was indeed making progress. But McNerney said he was well aware Ramadi was not representative of the rest of the country.

“I really don’t have an opinion on the rest of Iraq,” he said in a conference call from Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany this morning. “I’m sure (the military) cherry-picked the best place for us.”

Still, McNerney said he will be more likely to listen to those who want more time in Iraq.

“If anything, I’m more willing to participate in a give-and-take with that viewpoint than I was before,” he said.
Mercury News:
"I was impressed with Petraeus' confidence," McNerney said. "... But he's aware of the pressure in Congress that we need to end this thing. He had a lot of data to show the progress. He's concerned about being given enough time to finish the job but he's aware that we need to come to a resolution."
I have some questions for McNerney:

1. What was it specifically about your trip that led you to believe "a give and take on more time" might be needed? Did Iraqi progress on benchmarks influence you? Was it the success in Ramadi (which by your own admission is not at all indicative of the situation in Iraq)?

2. Does your willingness to consider more time indicate you do not stand firm in your support of HR2956 which requires a "limited Armed Forces presence" by April 2008?

3. Gen. Petraus will undoubtedly issue a report in September saying he needs "more time". Is your willingness to consider more time another way of endorsing the Petraus report, the contents of which are largely known/predictable?

4. Do you believe the "surge" is working? If no, does your willingness to consider more time naturally open the door to consider more troops - a "surge" on top of the "surge"? What effects would "more time" and "more troops" have on our military which is already stretched to the breaking point?

5. Do you think your willingness to consider more time prior to an agreement on a redeployment start date increases pressure on the President, Petraus, or the Iraqis themselves to make progress?

6. Do you think your willingness to consider more time will influence your GOP House colleagues who refuse to agree to any timetable whatsoever?

7. Does your willingness to consider more time indicate some confidence in the Bush administration to use the additional time effectively? What is it specifically about the Bush Iraq strategy leads you to believe more time will result in either a more secure or stable Iraq and a reduction in loss of life/injury for US forces?

8. Your willingness to consider more time could indicate you disagree with Senate Majority Leader Reid who said" "Iraq is lost". Do you feel "Iraq is not lost"?

9. More time, undoubtedly, will result in additional U.S. casualties/injuries. You've indicated a concern about properly funding the current Iraq Veterans healthcare. How do you plan for the incremental veteran healthcare funding as a consequence of "more time"?

10. A 2006 NIE reported our occupation of Iraq is the "cause celebre" for Islamic extremists, breeding deep resentment of the U.S.. Do you see any risks in your willingness to consider more time in terms of worsening this effect?

11. We spend about 12 Billion a month in Iraq and Afghanistan. A willingness to consider more time might result in extra costs to keep the war going. How would you plan to fund the extra costs?

12. Do you think your willingness to consider more time hamstrings and dilutes the Democrats' efforts to redeploy responsibly and as soon as possible from Iraq?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

McNerney's vote against CA marijuana law

McNerney just voted against an amendment which would end Federal prosecution of medical marijuana patients who are in full compliance with CA state law. Here is McNerney's explanation:
"I have spoken to many law enforcement officials concerned about the effect of drug use on our communities, particularly in San Joaquin County. The problem is real," McNerney said in a statement issued Thursday. "Just yesterday, Stockton police announced a successful drug sweep in cooperation with other law enforcement agencies that led to 51 arrests and the seizure of over 12 pounds of illegal substances."

"We are facing a drug crisis with meth and other drug use on the rise. Until we get a handle on the crippling drug use in our society, I cannot support the relaxation of current drug policy."
Invoking meth epidemics and massive drug busts to explain a vote on medical marijuana? I'm a little disappointed here. Not because I think McNerney voted the wrong way (he did) but because of his somewhat mendacious explanation.

From National Marijuana Policy Project (same article):
Bruce Mirken, communications director for the national Marijuana Policy Project, said McNerney's statement "deliberately confuses apples and oranges, and insults every California patient struggling to maintain life and dignity in the face of cancer, AIDS, MS, and other horrible illnesses."

"No sane person considers it a `relaxation of drug laws' that physicians are allowed to prescribe methamphetamine, cocaine and morphine, and no one seriously suggests depriving patients who need those drugs of their benefits just because someone else might misuse them," Mirken said. "This statement reads like an excuse, not a reason, to justify what McNerney thinks is a politically safe vote."

But that political calculation is wrong, Mirken insisted; three quarters of California voters support the state's medical marijuana law, "and those who worked and donated money to put McNerney in office will be the most bitterly disillusioned by his betrayal of the most vulnerable Californians."

Update: As fate would have it I stumbled upon a documentary last night on Showtime called "In Pot We Trust" which takes you through the everyday lives of people who struggle with chronic illnesses and live in fear of Federal or State prosecution. Some previews on YouTube - check it out.

Friday, July 13, 2007

McNerney votes to get out of Iraq

... now that the word "responsible" was included in the legislation (HR 2956: Responsible Redeployment from Iraq Act).

Previously, McNerney said he needed both detailed diplomatic plans and funding for veterans health care which prohibited him from voting in favor of the May 2007 Iraq Redeployment Bill (HR 2237).

Well, one out of two ain't bad. There is no mention of funding veteran's health care in HR 2956 but there is this requirement:
(4) Specific plans for diplomatic initiatives to engage United States allies and others in the region to bring stability to Iraq.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

From Pombo toady to Boehner flack: the Brian Kennedy story

Y'all remember Brian Kennedy? You know, the guy who lied about Richard Pombo's relationship with Jack Abramoff and furiously tried to spin his way out of documented evidence that Pombo's office continuously met with Abramoff surrogates?

Well, he was quoted today in the Hill as saying this:
“Democrats can’t claim to be strong on national security and repeatedly advocate retreat in the fight against terrorists at the same time,” said Brian Kennedy, spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio).
To be sure, Kennedy must be considered a rising star in the modern Republican party.

(via TPM)

Richard Pombo goes to Hollywood (sort of)

Last weekend I watched the movie Evan Almighty (fun movie for the family, IMO) and one of the characters deeply reminded me of someone.

John Goodman plays the role of "Congressman Long" who is the chair of the House Resources committee. Long attempts to convince the main character, Evan, (Steve Carel) to join him in pushing through the "land act" which would open public lands for private development (at great personal profit for Long, of course). I won't post any spoilers but let's just say that the depths of Long's corruption plays a large role in the outcome of the movie.

Remind you of anyone?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Why doesn't this surprise me?

Guy Houston, current CA Assemblyman and potential GOP candidate for CA-11, on trial in a civil suit for defrauding senior citizens.
They say Houston and his father, Fred, falsely represented the security of their investments, failed to disclose the risks, repaid themselves while abandoning their investors and failed to account for where the investors' money had gone in a confusing series of transfers among business entities.

There is a "pattern of irregular and incompetent financial transactions consisting of unexplained money transfers back and forth between the various schemes, and between the Houstons personally, without apparent disclosure to or authorization from the investors," according to court documents.