I live in a neighborhood that’s often described as “terminally cute.” But the discussion was dead serious last night during a town hall meeting at a local church, where it was SRO.
The guest speaker was Congressman John "Jack" Murtha whom Congressman Anthony Weiner called “a true American hero” who’s the “true voice of the Democratic Party.” Indeed, Murtha’s decision to finally speak out against the Iraq war gave Congressional Democrats the courage of their convictions.
Murtha dismissed President Bush’s repeated claim that there is “progress” in Iraq. “We’re not only not making progress. It’s getting worse every day.” Consider:
The cost of Bush’s folly: $11 million an hour or $8 billion a month.
Don’t get Murtha started on Karl Rove, a chickenhawk-cum-military expert “sitting on his fat backside in his air-conditioned White House office” -- or Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld recently accused war critics of “moral and intellectual confusion.”
Murtha questioned why anyone would listen to Rumsfeld since Rummy doesn’t know jack (and here). He reminded us that Rumsfeld said that Americans would be treated as “liberators” in a war that would last "five days or five weeks or five months, but it certainly isn't going to last any longer than that."
In this endless war, for which too few troops were sent to make the peace, Rumsfeld's “few dead-enders” have our troops bogged down in the middle of a civil war.
Murtha’s solution: “responsible withdrawal. Tell the Iraqis you have a democratically elected government and you have to take over responsibility.” There should be a “staged withdrawal.” Troops should withdraw as quickly as possible and as soon as possible.
We need to elect a Democratic Congress. We need accountability. Accountability comes from hearings. You swear them in and then they have to tell the truth. Ask the tough questions and put the pressure on them. We honor our troops by standing up to these bullies.
To help change the course in Iraq, click here.
A flood of reports from organizations ranging from ACORN to the Institute for Southern Studies details how a year after Hurricane Katrina crashed into New Orleans, many survivors have been left high and dry.
The reasons for the painfully slow recovery (and here) include failed leadership (here and here), the lack of a rebuilding plan, and the refusal to honestly address the Crescent City’s racial and class divide (here and here).
As the NAACP reports:
When the winds and water of Hurricane Katrina brought utter devastation to residents of the Gulf Coast region, America promised a rebuilding effort that would surpass the revitalization seen in New York after 9/11. Despite these promises and the commitment of billions of dollars in aid from FEMA, HUD, and Community Development Block grants, the promised reinvigoration of the Gulf Coast region remains unrealized.
As the Gulf Coast region approaches the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the thousands of still ruinous homes in the region are clear evidence that our government's promise has not been fulfilled. Tens of thousands of homes were lost, and cities throughout this nation still host far too many of our displaced residents. Where is the money and what has slowed the return of tens of thousands of displaced residents who are primarily people of color?
One year after disaster struck, the slow-motion rebuilding of the Gulf Coast region looks identical to what has happened to date in Afghanistan and Iraq. We see a pattern of profiteering, waste and failure -- due to the same flawed contracting system and even many of the same players.
The process of getting Katrina-stricken areas back on their feet is needlessly behind schedule, in part, due to the shunning of local business people in favor of politically connected corporations from elsewhere in the U.S. that have used their clout to win lucrative no-bid contracts with little or no accountability and who have done little or no work while ripping off the taxpayer.
On the eve of the first anniversary of the worst natural disaster in U.S. history, tens of thousands are drowning on dry land. In the coming weeks, the Katrina National Justice Commission, organized by the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, will release a report of its key findings. For more info, click here.
Wade in the water
Wade in the water, children,
Wade in the water
God’s a-going to trouble the water
--"Wade in the Water"
If you’re in New York City on Sunday, you may want to go see “Wade in the Water: A Katrina Storm Drama” at the National Black Theater in Harlem.
When my colleague Ron Daniels sent me notice of this event, I immediately marked my calendar. To be sure, it’s a fundraiser for two worthy causes (and here). But the title of the play resonates with me. For sheer inspiration, few recordings can match Ramsey Lewis’ 1966 rendition of this Negro spiritual (scroll down).
For ticket info, please call (718) 774-2725 or (718) 287-0106.
Sen. Barack Obama is scheduled to take a televised AIDS test during his visit to Kenya this week. In staging this made-for-TV event, Obama says he’s “leading by example” and wants to remove the stigma of getting an AIDS test.
Closer to home, ABC News will air a primetime special tonight at 10 pm E/P, “Out of Control: AIDS in Black America.” The show’s producer, Betsey Arledge, said:
I hope everyone, African American and not, realize that we have an epidemic right in our backyard that is just as bad and caused by many of the same forces as that in Africa and that we’re paying no attention to it. It is criminal that we have all of these resources at our finger tips and some of our citizens are suffering this way.
In less than two weeks, the nation will observe Labor Day. Illegal aliens plan to intrude on Americans’ end of summer ritual and launch another round of demonstrations to press their demand for imagined “immigrant rights” (and here).
They have their work cut out for them. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s new report estimates the cost of the Senate’s so-called “comprehensive immigration reform” is a whopping $126 billion. And that's just for the first ten years.
Fortunately, House Republicans feel American taxpayers’ pain. House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner, whose legislation triggered the march of the illegals, said in a statement:
We are now just beginning to see a glimpse of the staggering burden on American taxpayers the Reid-Kennedy immigration legislation contains. Twenty-four-and-a-half billion dollars for the earned income and child tax credits. Medicaid costs of $11.7 billion. Social Security costs of $5.2 billion. Medicare costs of $3.7 billion. Food stamps costs of $2.4 billion. The list goes on and on. This new social spending -- in the hundreds of billions of dollars later on -- will all be paid for by U.S. taxpayers. Additionally, this CBO report actually underestimates the Reid-Kennedy costs because the millions of illegal immigrants provided amnesty will not become citizens and thus, eligible for all social benefit programs, until after the 10-year time frame reviewed by CBO.
Providing a massive amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants -- over half of whom have an educational level of a high school degree or less -- is unfair, unwise and unaffordable. It's unfair to the millions of people playing by the rules, waiting patiently in line, trying to immigrate legally. It's unwise because it sends a message that the U.S. will condone, and in many ways, reward illegal immigration. And, the Reid-Kennedy amnesty is unaffordable because of the hundreds of billions of dollars in costs that will be shouldered by hard-working American taxpayers.