DC ♥ Huckabee

DCist explains:

When it comes to who the D.C. Republican Party should side with in the 2008 presidential contest, the choice is obvious — Mike Huckabee.

Sure, the former governor of Arkansas doesn’t have much of a chance of winning, but he’s been consistent in his support of D.C. voting rights. In yesterday’s All-American Presidential Forum on PBS, hosted by Tavis Smiley, it was Huckabee who backed voting rights for the District’s 600,000 residents. In response to a question, Huckabee stated, “I believe that the people of D.C. should be able to vote for representation. I think that’s appropriate, for the simple reason of equality and justice….They ought to be able to vote.” And while his claims might have seemed like pandering to Smiley’s largely black audience, in late August Huckabee broke with President Bush on the issue, arguing, “They’re American citizens. They pay taxes and it just doesn’t seem right that someone could be even partially disenfranchised.”

Then again, 90% of DC voted for John Kerry in 2004, so that may not make much of a difference. Still, I’m glad to see a Presidential candidate talking about this–hopefully the rest will follow.

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Moving On

Thomas Friedman, back from the wilderness:

[S]ince 9/11, we’ve become “The United States of Fighting Terrorism.” Times columnists are not allowed to endorse candidates, but there’s no rule against saying who will not get my vote: I will not vote for any candidate running on 9/11. We don’t need another president of 9/11. We need a president for 9/12. I will only vote for the 9/12 candidate.

What does that mean? This: 9/11 has made us stupid. I honor, and weep for, all those murdered on that day. But our reaction to 9/11 — mine included — has knocked America completely out of balance, and it is time to get things right again.

It is not that I thought we had new enemies that day and now I don’t. Yes, in the wake of 9/11, we need new precautions, new barriers. But we also need our old habits and sense of openness. For me, the candidate of 9/12 is the one who will not only understand who our enemies are, but who we are.

[…]

You may think Guantánamo Bay is a prison camp in Cuba for Al Qaeda terrorists. A lot of the world thinks it’s a place we send visitors who don’t give the right answers at immigration. I will not vote for any candidate who is not committed to dismantling Guantánamo Bay and replacing it with a free field hospital for poor Cubans. Guantánamo Bay is the anti-Statue of Liberty.

[…]
I’d love to see us salvage something decent in Iraq that might help tilt the Middle East onto a more progressive pathway. That was and is necessary to improve our security. But sometimes the necessary is impossible — and we just can’t keep chasing that rainbow this way.

[…]
We can’t afford to keep being this stupid! We have got to get our groove back. We need a president who will unite us around a common purpose, not a common enemy. Al Qaeda is about 9/11. We are about 9/12, we are about the Fourth of July — which is why I hope that anyone who runs on the 9/11 platform gets trounced.

9/11 was a massive tragedy, one of the worst in American history.  Unfortunately, while most of us saw a mix of death and destruction and heroism that day, some people saw a political opportunity.

Ever since, a certain type of craven opportunist has been using 9/11 to to forward their narrow interests. They have used it as a bludgeon to attack their political opponents.  And since they’ve wrapped their repugnant ideology in the shroud of 9/11 (and preventing another 9/11), they have been treated as immune from criticism.

I’m glad to see Friedman has given up his Iraq cheerleading for a modicum of reality.  No politician running for any office  anywhere should be allowed to exploit 9/11.  Nobody owns 9/11; it was a massive national tragedy. The only people who can lay any claim to that day are those who died and their families.

The 9/11 exploiters have had too much influence in our polity for far too long.  It’s time for us to elect smart, practical leaders who understand that the world did not stop in September, 2001–the world has been moving on, and we need someone who can see beyond that clear, cool, horrible Tuesday morning.  As Friedman said, we don’t need a 9/11 President; we need a 9/12 President, a 9/13 President–a President who can deal with the world today, not the world six years ago, a world that no longer exists.

America deserves nothing less.

Solidarity

From DCist:

[New Hampshire State] Representative Cindy Rosenwald (Hillsborough District 22) recently introduced legislation that would declare the state’s regret for the votes of its two senators and throw the Granite State’s support behind the move to enfranchise the District’s 600,000 residents. Rosenwald has said that she expects a hearing on the bill in early 2008, possibly around the time the state hosts its all-important presidential primary.

If we in the District are ever to stop being second-class citizens, we’re going to need brave Americans like Rosenwald to stand up and say enough is enough. Having 600,000 Americans without a voice in their own government is a shameful stain on our great American democracy.

Sadly, Republicans care less about doing what’s right than playing political games, holding desperately onto their dwindling power. Then again, the GOP has repeatedly shown that upholding American beliefs and values always takes a backseat to politicking and power-grabbing.

Thank you, Representative Rosenwald. If only we had a Congress full of good Americans like yourself.

More and Better Democrats

Great words from Fighting Dem Patrick Murphy (D-PA):

Someone should tell chicken-hawk Rush Limbaugh that the only phonies are those who choose not to serve and then criticize those who do. I served proudly, so did two of my fellow paratroopers in the 82nd Airborne who spoke out and died just weeks ago. Generations of American veterans have worn the uniform with pride and we know it is no contradiction to serve your country and still disagree with the Bush-civilian leadership that mismanaged this war.

When someone like Rush Limbaugh says that soldiers who disagree with the failed strategies of President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld are “phony soldiers,” you have to consider the source.

Rush Limbaugh, who, in January, called Vietnam veteran Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) “Senator Betrayus” for disagreeing with President Bush, has made no secret of his disdain for those who serve and speak out. Where was Rush Limbaugh when it came time to serve his country?

What’s more, where was Limbaugh’s outrage when Max Cleland, a Senator who left three of his limbs in Vietnam was smeared on television? Where was Limbaugh when Senator John Kerry’s (D-MA) service was called into question in the form of millions of dollars in campaign ads?

My service was questioned last year during my campaign for Congress. Fortunately, the swift-boat attack on me didn’t stick because people in my district in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and across America know that if someone wears the uniform and serves their country they’ve earned our respect regardless of political party.

Sadly, the political debate in this country has devolved into who can be more outraged at the latest smear attempt on those who should be thanked and praised for devoted service. Rush Limbaugh’s phony outrage and derisive words call into contrast that which we all must honor: our Armed Forces currently fighting for their lives and our freedom all across the world. We need to be vigilant and speak out against those who question the value of that service — and that goes for people on the right and the left.

The real issue is how best to quickly, safely and successfully end this war. It’s time for Limbaugh, Cheney and Bush to end the partisanship and work with those of us who want a change.

Prior to being elected to Congress, Patrick Murphy served as a Captain in the U.S. Army. He was deployed to Bosnia in 2002 and then to Iraq in 2003 and 2004. In Iraq he served with the 82 nd Airborne where he was awarded the Bronze Star for service. He is a former West Point professor and criminal prosecutor.

Shameful III (UPDATED)

It never ends. Limbaugh:

During the September 26 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh called service members who advocate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq “phony soldiers.” He made the comment while discussing with a caller a conversation he had with a previous caller, “Mike from Chicago,” who said he “used to be military,” and “believe[s] that we should pull out of Iraq.” Limbaugh told the second caller, whom he identified as “Mike, this one from Olympia, Washington,” that “[t]here’s a lot” that people who favor U.S. withdrawal “don’t understand” and that when asked why the United States should pull out, their only answer is, ” ‘Well, we just gotta bring the troops home.’ … ‘Save the — keeps the troops safe’ or whatever,” adding, “[I]t’s not possible, intellectually, to follow these people.” “Mike” from Olympia replied, “No, it’s not, and what’s really funny is, they never talk to real soldiers. They like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media.” Limbaugh interjected, “The phony soldiers.”

The hypocrisy:

Limbaugh denounced as “contemptible” and “indecent” MoveOn.org’s much-discussed advertisement — titled “General Petraeus or General Betray Us?” — critical of Gen. David Petraeus, but has repeatedly attacked the patriotism of those with whom he disagrees. For instance, on the January 25 broadcast of his radio show, he told his audience that he had a new name for Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), a Vietnam veteran: “Senator Betrayus.” A day earlier, Hagel had sided with Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in voting to approve a nonbinding resolution declaring that President Bush’s escalation in Iraq was against “the national interest.”

[…]

As Media Matters has also documented, on the August 2, 2005, program, Limbaugh repeatedly referred to Iraq war veteran and then-Democratic congressional candidate Paul Hackett as “another liberal Democrat trying to hide behind a military uniform” and accused him of going to Iraq “to pad the resumé.”

Conservatives like Rush don’t support our troops–they see them as convenient political props to advance their own agendas. As long as soldiers provide them a veneer of respectability and toughness, conservatives support them. But whenever someone in uniform speaks out against Republicans and their harmful policies, conservatives have no problem tearing them down.

Remember the attacks on Vietnam veterans John Kerry, Max Cleland and Chuck Hagel. Remember the attacks on four-star general and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Wesley Clark. Remember the attacks on the countless soldiers and generals who have spoken out against the Republican’s destructive Iraq policy over the years.

Sadly, this is business as usual for Limbaugh and his ilk–attack our brave soldiers who put their lives on the line because they disagree with you. I don’t think military leaders or soldiers are incapable of making mistakes or should be immune from criticism–if they make mistakes, if they behave badly, they should be dealt with appropriately. But there is no excuse, none at all, for attacking soldiers just because they disagree with your political views. Political opinions in no way mars, taints or stains the brave service of American soldiers, nor should it.

Your modern Republican Party–supporting our troops, as long as they keep their mouths shut. Shameful.

UPDATE: Just for the record, Limbaugh never served a single day in uniform–though he was eligible to be drafted during Vietnam since he dropped out of college, Limbaugh received a medical deferment  due to a Pilonidal sinus.

Shameful II (UPDATED)

From the BBC:

Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani has been criticised over a fundraising party at which participants are being urged to donate $9.11.

[…]

The Giuliani campaign says it did not plan the event, which is due to take place on Wednesday evening in California at the home of a supporter.

[…]

“It is nothing short of disrespectful to the legacy of the thousands of civilians and 343 brave firefighters who died at Ground Zero,” said Harold Schaitberger, IAFF [International Association of Fire Fighters] president.

[…]

A Giuliani campaign spokesman said the idea was selected without the campaign’s knowledge.

But the host of the party, Abraham Soefer, also said the theme was not his responsibility, and referred other questions to Mr Giuliani’s campaign team, the Associated Press reports.

Utterly shameful. There are no words to describe how utterly dispicable this is.

Despite what the Giuliani campaign may say, the question is, will they accept money from this fundraiser? Will they allow their coffers to be filled by the exploitation of 9/11? By every indication, the answer is yes.

The simple truth is that Giuliani would not have the faintest chance of being President if he were not mayor of New York City on 9/11. His campaign is based on the exploitation of that tragic event–without it, he has nothing to run on, no record and no experience to make him a viable candidate. The Giuliani campaign was built on the ruins of Ground Zero, and it’s shameful displays like these that reveal Rudy’s political opportunism.

Nobody has gone from being a mayor–even the mayor of a large and diverse city, such as New York–to being President, and for good reason: no mayor has nearly enough experience to become leader of the free world. Giuliani has no national experience, no foreign policy experience, not even statewide experience– pick any random Representative, freshman Senator, newly-elected Governor, and all of them will have more and better experience than Rudy Giuliani. Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel and Ron Paul are all more qualified to be president than Giuliani is, and I couldn’t imagine any of those three men in the White House.

Not to mention that Giuliani’s tenure as mayor of New York has been fraught with controversy and scandal. Even putting his significant personal issues aside, Giuliani’s record is exceptionally lacking. He built his command center at the World Trade Center, despite the fact that the WTC had already been through a terrorist attack in 1993. Not only that, but Giuliani’s failure (or refusal) to act on the recommendations given to him by the commission that investigated the 1993 bombing lead to the deaths of first responders on 9/11–it was widely known for years that the radio systems of the police, firefighters and EMTs were outdated and badly needed to be updated. Giuliani didn’t act on that recommendatio, and as a result many first responders didn’t get the order to evacuate the twin towers before they collapsed, leading to needless deaths.

This fundraiser is just the latest attempt by the Giuliani camp to exploit the tragedy of 9/11. Rudy’s record is shameful, and his campaign’s willingness to use 9/11 to shamelessly grab votes is utterly unconscionable. Of course, Giuliani needs 9/11, lest the country realize that Rudy is nowhere near experienced or knowledgable enough to be America’s next President.

[Full disclosure: I was born and raised in New York]

UPDATE: From the Wall Street Journal:

The third quarter disclosure reports out today indicate that Rudy Giuliani’s campaign is actively returning checks in denominations that are tied to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, with eight returned checks to individual donors for $9.11, and one returned contribution of $911.

Giuliani, who was New York mayor at the time of the attacks, took some heat last month when reports surfaced that a group of California supporters were hosting a “$9.11 for Rudy” fund-raiser. Critics and presidential opponents said the former mayor was capitalizing off the terrorist attacks, but his campaign stressed that there was no direct connection between the individual donors and the campaign’s fund-raising operation.

I give the Giuliani campaign some credit for returning the donations.  I’m not sure if they would have returned the money if there wasn’t massive negative press on this, but I think not.  As I said before, Giuliani’s candidacy is built on the cornerstone of 9/11, a dispicable use for such a massive, national tragedy.

America is a smart and moral country, and after the Bush presidency I doubt we’ll be giving the keys to the White House over to another inexperienced, dogmatic President.  We will never have to see the inauguration of President Giuliani, and that’s the way things should be.