Tag: Iraq War

Joe Biden’s “Susan Happ” problem

With Vice President Joe Biden likely to run for the Democratic presidential nomination, I do want to bring up an historical parallel between Biden’s likely presidential bid and Jefferson County, Wisconsin District Attorney Susan Happ’s failed bid for Attorney General of Wisconsin last year.

The parallel between Biden and Happ is this: Both Biden and Happ are/were, prior to running for higher office (or, in Happ’s case, after winning a statewide Democratic primary in Wisconsin), viewed favorably by voters not because of their actual track records or positions on the issues, but because they liked the candidates personally. In Biden’s case, he’s seen by many voters across the country as an approachable guy with an interesting personality. In Happ’s case, she was seen by many voters in Wisconsin as someone who rode a Harley-Davidson motorcycle in a television ad.

Happ’s campaign to become Wisconsin’s top prosecutor fell apart not long after Happ won a contested Democratic primary with a narrow majority of the vote. Republicans and the far-right corporate media in Wisconsin viciously attacked Happ’s record as a county-level prosecutor, making her look like a corrupt prosecutor who gave out light sentences to Democrats and political cronies, when, in reality, it was a major distortion of Happ’s record. The sustained attack on Happ damaged her campaign and allowed Republican racist Brad Schimel to be elected Attorney General of Wisconsin.

Biden has a legitimately awful record, especially as a U.S. Senator from Delaware, including, among other things:

  • Helping put right-wing extremist Clarence Thomas on the U.S. Supreme Court despite serious sexual harassment allegations against Thomas
  • Voting to repeal the Glass-Steagall regulations on banks and other financial institutions, which led to the Great Recession
  • Voting for the Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA), which prohibited federal recognition of same-sex marriages prior to being ruled unconstitutional by a conservative U.S. Supreme Court
  • Publicly claiming that “abortion is always wrong”
  • Helping enact legislation, signed into law by George W. Bush, that made it harder for Americans to file for bankruptcy
  • Helping enact legislation that expanded the prison-industrial complex in the United States
  • Voting for George W. Bush’s unjustified Iraq War

It wouldn’t take much for one of the Democratic presidential candidates already in the race to brand Biden as an awful politician, if Biden were to run.

I believe that there is an important lesson that is to be learned from the failure of Susan Happ’s campaign for Wisconsin Attorney General last year. When one runs for public office, his or her track record can, either fairly or unfairly, be used against him or her by any political opponent. While Joe Biden’s decision on whether or not to run for president is entirely Joe Biden’s decision to make, I would caution him that his record as a U.S. Senator would likely come back to haunt him politically.

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ENDORSEMENT: Jeremy Corbyn for British Labour Party leader

Although I’m an American, I’m offering my support to Member of Parliament Jeremy Corbyn (L-Islington North) in his bid to become the leader of the British Labour Party.

Corbyn, who would probably be an Elizabeth Warren-type Democrat if he were an American politician, has fought for progressive ideals on many issues in over three decades. Most recently, he was one of 47 Labour MPs to vote against Conservative British Prime Minister David Cameron’s legislation to gut the British welfare system, despite the fact that the interim Labour leadership advised Corbyn and the rest of their MPs not to vote on the measure at all.

If elected to lead the main left-wing political party in Britain, Corbyn won’t bow down and cave to the right-wingers or their enablers in the British media. Instead, he’ll fight against austerity policies and fight for progressive policies that benefit Britons:

I have been proud to be a trade union rep, a trade union official, a local councillor and a Labour MP for the last 32 years. My purpose in every role has been to share that power, providing a platform to the voiceless, at home and abroad, and to stand up with them.

I am now asking for your support to become Labour leader. I want that role for the same reason – to work with you to right the many wrongs we see around us.

Our party must become a social movement again. It was founded to stand up to injustice, and too often we have lost our way, ignored our supporters or been cowed by powerful commercial interests and the press.

Austerity policies are harming people’s life chances and taking away opportunities. We must reject the notion that the journey to prosperity tramples over people – and become an anti-austerity movement. You can’t build a fair economy by casting people aside.

Corbyn’s campaign is gaining so much momentum, former British Prime Minister and George W. Bush crony Tony Blair is openly attacking Corbyn for standing up for poor and working-class Britons. Given that Blair was a staunch supporter of Britain’s involvement in the unjustified Iraq War, that makes me like Corbyn even more.

ENDORSEMENT: Tammy Duckworth for U.S. Senate in Illinois

With U.S. Representative Robin Kelly of the 2nd Congressional District of Illinois declining to run for U.S. Senate, I am now endorsing Tammy Duckworth for the U.S. Senate seat that is currently held by right-wing Republican Mark Kirk.

Prior to being elected to the U.S. House, Duckworth served our country in the Illinois Army National Guard, losing both of her legs when a Black Hawk helicopter that she was co-piloting over Iraq in 2004 was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade and shot down. Duckworth has served the people of the 8th Congressional District of our state, located in the western Chicago suburbs, with honor, having supported background checks on gun sales, supported reproductive rights, supported raising the minimum wage, and, best of all, sharply criticized a federal contractor for falsely claiming that he was a service-disabled veteran.

Duckworth currently has one primary opponent that I know of, Andrea Zopp. While Duckworth isn’t exactly an Illinois progressive’s dream candidate, Zopp represents most of what is wrong with Illinois politics. First off, Zopp has the backing of Bill Daley, who was a member of Republican Governor Bruce Rauner’s transition team prior to Rauner being sworn into office. As an appointed member of the Chicago school board, Zopp voted for Rahm Emanuel’s plan to close dozens of Chicago’s public schools. That means that Zopp is aligned with three of the most odious people in Illinois politics: Bill Daley, Rahm Emanuel, and Bruce Rauner. Additionally, State Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Flossmor) is considering running against Duckworth and Zopp. However, Harris refused to vote for the Illinois marriage equality bill, meaning that LGBT Illinoisans can’t trust Harris to fight for and protect their rights.

I encourage my fellow Illinois Democrats to cast a Democratic primary ballot for Tammy Duckworth next year.

George W. Bush-era CIA torture program violated human rights and made America less secure

The report by the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on the CIA’s program of torturing enemy combatants who were captured by the U.S. in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, which was active during the administration of former Republican President George W. Bush, has been declassified, and here is the executive summary of the report.

According to the report, the George W. Bush-era CIA’s detention and torture program, among other things:

  • Didn’t help the CIA get intelligence from detainees
  • Violated the human rights of detainees
  • Put American national security at an even greater risk by impeding national security efforts at other federal agencies
  • Wasted American taxpayers’ money
  • Detained individuals who didn’t meet the legal standard for detention
  • Was badly mismanaged and unaccountable
  • Hurt our country’s standing in the world

Additionally, the George W. Bush-era CIA lied to Congress and the media about the detention and torture program’s activities, and had repeatedly impeded oversight by various government entities, including the Office of the CIA Inspector General.

Long story short, the CIA’s program of torturing enemy combatants in U.S. custody was one of the most disgusting things that the U.S. federal government has ever done and served no purpose whatsoever. George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and other officials involved in the program should be charged with perjury, war crimes, and other applicable offenses.

12 years ago today, we lost Paul Wellstone in a plane crash

Twelve years ago today, progressives in Minnesota and all across America lost a hero when U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-MN) was killed in a plane crash near Eveleth, Minnesota. The crash also took the lives of Wellstone’s wife, Sheila, his daughter, Marcia, the pilot and co-pilot of the plane, the driver of Wellstone’s campaign bus, and two of his campaign staffers.

In honor of the late, great Paul Wellstone, here is a collection of YouTube videos consisting of three of Wellstone’s TV ads and his 2002 floor speech in opposition to the Iraq War that was supported by the Republican Administration of George W. Bush:

Paul Wellstone’s progressive legacy is still alive and well in Minnesota and across America.

President Obama just got this country into another Vietnam

In an official address to the nation, President Barack Obama announced that U.S. forces will carry out air strikes against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants in Syria.

While President Obama promised that there will be no ground troops in Iraq or Syria, I seriously doubt that the president would hold to that promise for long. In fact, I think that the president just got this country into yet another Vietnam.

While I support humanitarian aid to those fleeing ISIS’s wrath and counterterrorism efforts to prevent ISIS from pulling off a terrorist attack on U.S. soil (so as long as said counterterrorism efforts don’t violate the U.S. Constitution), any kind of war with ISIS, whether it be an air war, a ground war, or a combination of both, is, more than likely, going to bog this country down in another long, drawn-out war, similar to the Vietnam War and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I firmly believe that ISIS is an extremely dangerous organization that intends, through violence, to destroy everything they consider a enemy, including the United States of America, in fact, they are the most extreme Islamic fundamentalist organization that I’ve ever seen in my life. However, the U.S. becoming involved in a war with ISIS would, more than likely, be a big mistake.