Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Barbara Lee Letter Asking Obama To Stick To The Constitution-- Who Signed It? And Who Refused?


Barbara Lee and 53 other Democrats sent a letter to President Obama Thursday in the hopes of slowing down the rush to war in Syria. It was similar to the message the British Parliament delivered to David Cameron Thursday: "don't be so trigger-happy and let's at least wait and see what the UN inspectors have to say about who used the chemical weapons.

And these are the Members of Congress who signed it. If your congressmember's name isn't on the list... he or she did not sign the letter. You might want to ask him or her why.

Barbara Lee (D-CA)
Lois Capps (D-CA)
Mike Honda (D-CA)
Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)
Jackie Speier (D-CA)
Beto O'Rourke (D-TX)
John Lewis (D-GA)
Pete DeFazio (D-OR)
Robin Kelly (D-IL)
Mark Pocan (D-WI)
Raul Grijalva (D-AZ)
Mike Michaud (D-ME)
Peter Welch (D-VT)
Chellie Pingree (D-ME)
Stephen Lynch (D-MA)
Nydia Velazquez (D-NY)
Llod Doggett (D-TX)
Jared Huffman (D-CA)
Janice Hahn (D-CA)
Sam Farr (D-CA)
Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI)
Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO)
Rush Holt (D-NJ)
Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX)
Jim McDermott (D-WA)
Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR)
Eddie Bernie Johnson (D-TX)
Jose Serrano (D-NY)
George Miller (D-CA)
Donna Edwards (D-MD)
Bobby Scott (D-IL)
Steve Cohen (D-TN)
Marcy Kaptur (D-OH)
Alcee Hastings (D-FL)
Jim McGovern (D-MA)
Danny Davis (D-IL)
Marcia Fudge (D-OH)
Charlie Rangel (D-NY)
Judy Chu (D-CA)
Alan Lowenthal (D-CA)
Bobby Rush (D-IL)
Dave Loebsack (D-IA)
Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)
Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
Henry Waxman (D-CA)
Yvetter Clarke (D-NY)
Diana DeGette (D-CO)
Rick Nolan (D-MN)
Keith Ellison (D-MN)
Niki Tsongas (D-MA)
John Yarmuth (D-KY)
Julia Brownley (D-CA

Mike Michaud was the only Blue Dog to sign-- and he's running for governor of Maine. For the most part the New Dems stayed away as well, even Colleen Hanabusa, who's running in a tough primary against Hawaii's senior Senator Brian Schatz. Another New Dem, Gary Peters, currently running for the open Michigan Senate seat, didn't sign either. Other noteworthy names who didn't sign on: Steve Israel, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Steny Hoyer, Chris Van Hollen, Joe Crowley and, less noteworthy-- my warmongery congressman-- Adam Schiff, who was also on the Iraq war cheering squad. And then there's the AIPAC whore who's also the Ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, Eliot Engel, who is one of the worst of the bloodthirsty war advocates in Washington. And, of the 10 Democrats who send out the most e-mails begging the grassroots for money... not one of them signed the letter:
Patrick Murphy (New Dem-FL)
Sean Patrick Maloney (New Dem-NY)
Raul Ruiz (D-CA)
Cheri Bustos (D-IL)
Joe Garcia (New Dem-FL)
Scott Peters (New Dem-CA)
Dan Maffei (New Dem-NY)
Ami Bera (D-CA)
Ann Kuster (D-NH)
Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)
Keep that in mind next time one of their e-mails ends up in your box. The quarter is about to end and you can expect to be deluged with desperate e-mails from conservative, pro-war Democrats like Patrick Murphy, Cheri Bustos and Sean Maloney trying to mislead you into thinking they're somehow "progressive."

Here's part of Alan Grayson's interview with Ari Rabin-Havt from Thursday morning:
Ari: Do you feel like the President needs to come to Congress? What do you feel like the conversation needs to be? Does the President need to-- well, he doesn't need to-- but should he go to Congress for permission, basically?

Alan: I don't think that's the more important question. I think the more important question is whether this is the right decision on the merits, and it's not.

Ari: Why not?

Alan: Because there is no vital national security interest of the United States involved, even if the Syrian government is proved to have deliberately used chemical weapons. Which is, at this point, a big "if."

Ari: What do you think this rush, and the media's kind of push to war, is all about?

Alan: Well, I think the President inadvertently boxed himself in by using a very vague phrase, in saying that the Syrian Government would be "crossing a red line" if it used chemical weapons. I don't know what that means. You know, in the world I live in, you can say, "If you do X, I'll do Y," but "crossing a red line" is a very vague remark. And now the President apparently feels that based on the evidence he's heard, which I still maintain is ambiguous, he needs to do something. And that's one of the failings of modern diplomacy. The world would be a much better place if people were clear about their intentions, rather than saying something like "crossing a red line."

Ari: Now it seems odd that we turn our national security focus to Syria, and recognizing chemical weapons is a unique [threat], when there are so many hotspots around the world. What is it about chemical weapons that get this conversation going, when millions of people around the world are dying of various causes?

Alan: Well, I don't know. To me, a corpse is a corpse. I don't want to sound flip, but when you're dead, you're dead. In this case, the 200 or so people who [are] alleged to have been killed by chemical weapons, on very ambiguous information, those 200 people join the 40,000 who died in the Syrian Civil War last year, the roughly 25,000 who died this year, and the ones who died the year before. That's a lot of corpses. I don't really understand exactly why people regard it as being different if you blow up someone with a bomb, versus killing them with gas. Historically, the reason why countries banded together to prevent the use of gas attacks is because, among other things, it ended up being used inadvertently against your own troops. The first widespread use of chemical warfare, in fact the only really widespread use of chemical warfare, was during World War I, almost 100 years ago. And what happened during World War I is, first of all, many of the gas attacks that were used ended up blinding or killing the troops that they were meant to protect, because the wind changed. And secondly, there was a very high level of injury without mortality, which left a lot of soldiers and civilians blind or otherwise permanently impaired. This, at the time, was in some respects worse than being dead. So, historically, that's why countries banded together [against poison gas]. At this point, the evidence seems to be that there are only four countries in the world that have chemical weapons, and we happen to be one of them. In fact, arguably, the United States has the largest stockpile of chemical weapons in the world. So on the basis of that, I'm not sure we're in the best moral position to be indicating to others what to do about chemical weapons.

...Ari: Well, it seems like we can't wind down anything without starting a new one up.

Alan: Right, and you know that there could be consequences, or as they like to use the term in the military industrial complex, "blowback." Let's suppose that the President goes ahead and uses military forces in Syria. Then let's suppose that Syria stages some attack against, oh, I don't know, U.S. tourists, journalists; I don't know what exactly the best possibilities from their perspective might be. How are we then going to condemn them for that?

Ari: Well what is strange to me is the people who seem that think that this decision is easy, "Oh, we'll just lob some cruise missiles and be done with it." When in fact the author of that strategy was interviewed by today and said that's not a good strategy for dealing with this-- the very author of the strategy.

Alan: Well, right. Some people scratch their heads and wonder why we have to shut down a dozen different embassies through the Middle East, without ever questioning whether there might be some link between that and over a hundred drone attacks in Yemen alone.

Ari: And then you get people like John McCain who are out there saying, "Well, whatever the President does, it's not enough, we have to do more." Why can't we stop-- after the debacle that was Iraq? And, look, you have personal experience in that debacle; you prosecuted some of the war profiteers in court. Why do we still listen to these people?

Alan: I don't know. Again, one could make arguments in favor of and against whether the United States should somehow be involved in the Syrian Civil War. I can see that, and I can understand why McCain feels the way he does. He thinks that the [rebels are] freedom fighters [against] a brutal dictatorship. I understand that. But what's actually happened is, first, an enormous amount of muddy thinking about what U.S. interests are involved here or not involved here. And that's been framed by the President making a very vague statement about red lines being crossed, which really doesn't help anybody decide what to do about the situation. And secondly, when you actually delve into the evidence, the evidence is genuinely ambiguous. I'll just give you an example. One example of this is that if, hypothetically, the Syrian government wanted to terrorize its own population into submission, it would say that it was using gas. In fact, the Syrian government has adamantly denied that it's using gas. There's no particular benefit to the Syrian government in killing these specific 200 victims. In fact, the victims, to some degree, look like they're literally innocent bystanders. The reason why people think that gas might have been used is because there's no indication of any exterior wounds, so it looks like they suffocated. But that doesn't necessarily mean that they were the victims of a gas attack. There are, in fact, other possibilities. Another possibility is that the [Syrian Army] simply made a mistake. They loaded the wrong canister into the wrong cannon, and that happens. If they wanted to use poison gas, they'd be using it every day, they'd be using it every hour, and they wouldn't be hiding it. And instead what you have, at this point, [is an] isolated situation which has all sorts of other potential explanations. It doesn't seem to serve any strategic purpose on their part to do one attack against these 200 people and then say they didn't do it, that it was something else, and then not doing anything else. That's a very strange pattern of conduct, even for the Syrian government. Second, as I indicated, there are other explanations that actually fit the evidence as well, or better. When you use chemical warfare agents, the victims themselves are dangerous to the people around them, because of the residue of the chemical agents, for quite some time to come. There have been, at this point, numerous contacts between the victims and people who came to rescue them. I'm not aware of reports at this time that there were a substantial number of the rescuers who themselves were hurt by the agents. That implies that it wasn't actually chemical agents that were used. By the way, I haven't heard any of these reports from the Administration, and that itself causes me some concern. It seems the Administration is only putting out information that would lead one to believe that the Syrian government deliberately used chemical weapons, rather than what seems to be the intrinsic ambiguity of the situation. I think that's puzzling and, to me, disturbing... Nobody wants this, except the military-industrial complex. I think that, if the President is being used by others for their own personal interests, he should recognize that, and rise above it.

Labels: , ,


At 11:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My congressperson is on the list.

This doesn't begin, however, to make up for my congressperson's several votes in favor of Iran sanctions, not to mention the ACORN fiasco.

John Puma

At 11:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doesn't the picture's caption say it all: in America one truly must be prepared to be a renegade to insist on peace and justice.

Rep Lee, never let it be forgotten, was the only person in the entire congress to vote, on 14 Sept 2001, against the bill that essentially established "the war on terra."

It's amazing she's still in congress (and alive!.)

John Puma

At 2:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm. Did not see Alan Grayson's name on that list.


Post a Comment

<< Home