Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) was more than a little upset after the SCHIP veto override failed. The 18-term lawmaker, stirred the pot Thursday when he attacked President Bush and congressional Republicans for backing hundreds of billions of dollars for the Iraq war, but blocking a $35 billion expansion of a children's health insurance program.
"You're going to spend it to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the president's amusement," Stark told Republicans on the floor of the House.
The remarks during the debate over Bush's veto of the children's health bill drew howls of outrage from House Republicans and conservative commentators. His words were replayed endlessly on cable news and talk radio. By Friday, even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi - who praised Stark for his leadership on the children's health bill a day earlier - was distancing herself from his comments.
What Pelosi also meant: Stark had handed Republicans an easy way to distract the public from what Democrats view as a winning stance on the popular children's health bill. Stark, 75, declined a request Friday for an interview.
He began: "First of all, I'm just amazed that the Republicans are worried that we can't pay for insuring an additional 10 million children. They sure don't care about finding $200 billion to fight the illegal war in Iraq. Where are you going to get that money? You are going to tell us lies like you're telling us today? Is that how you're going to fund the war?
"You don't have money to fund the war or children, but you're going to spend it to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the president's amusement."
He went back to the same point moments later: "But President Bush's statements about children's health shouldn't be taken any more seriously than his lies about the war in Iraq. The truth is that Bush just likes to blow things up in Iraq, in the United States, and in Congress."
On the left, Stark's comments drew rave reviews. They were posted on the blog, DailyKos, stirring applause from the site's anti-war, anti-Bush readers: "Wow, this guy kicks ass" wrote one blogger.
But Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, who followed Stark on the floor, said: "It is despicable to have a member of this Congress accuse this president, any president, of willfully blowing the heads, quote, blowing the heads off our young men and women over in Iraq and Afghanistan."
The GOP spin machine went into hyperdrive. House Republican Leader John Boehner's press aides alerted reporters to Stark's comments. The National Republican Campaign Committee issued a press release, titled: "Democrat Disgrace: Pete Stark Drags SCHIP Political Circus to All-Time Low."
But Stark continued: "What are you going to do for that 200 or 300 billion bucks, folks, that you're spending to kill these kids when they grow up? You can't answer that, can you? You look at your shoes, look up here, you don't know," he said.
"So you don't even want to talk about 200 or 300 billion bucks to kill innocent Iraqis and young men and women. There is no member of this House that has an enlisted child over there. There is no risk for you guys."
Republican tried unsuccessfully to have his words stricken from the official record.
From Arianna Huffington: At Wednesday's press conference, President Bush insisted that he is still "relevant." Normally, it's an immutable law of politics that if you have to say you're relevant, you're not. But in Bush's case, his role as the primary Decider on the war in Iraq is keeping him tragically relevant -- in the same way that the driver of a bus careening toward the edge of cliff is extremely relevant to his passengers. Okay, so Bush is relevant. And deeply deluded if he truly believes, as he also claimed, that he and Congressional Democrats are "finding common ground on Iraq." Beating your opponent into the ground with vetoes and filibuster threats is not the same as finding common ground.
* No Child Left Alone: 2-year-old S-CHIP recipient Bethany Wilkerson is new target of right-wingers.
* Mitch McConnell’s staff DID write emails interested in smearing the Frosts, and then lied about doing so.
My Letter to Congressman Pete Stark:
Thank you for standing up to Bush on his atrocious, un-Christian, warmongering behavior. Over 80% of the country agrees with you and believes Bush does not have his priorities straight. He cares about frozen fetal cells and the unborn, but cares nothing about real, live BREATHING CHILDREN! He cares nothing about the poor or "the least among us." Bush flies across the country in the middle of the night to intervene in the Terry Schiavo case, a private family matter, but sees no reason to help the low-income families and children of America — or the Katrina victims for that matter.
Many Americans believe George Bush is not only un-American, but is a war criminal. We also believe Bush, Cheney, Haliburton and Blackwater among others, are all guilty of war profiteering — a treasonous crime. They are guilty of dividing our country through politicizing this war, of breaking the Geneva Convention, of illegally wiretapping U.S. citizens and of violating our 2nd and 4th Amendment rights, and of myriad of other crimes including breaking the right to writ of Habeas Corpus.
You are right Congressman Stark — Bush should should apologize for lying in a rush to war, for violating our Constitution, and for never being honest about his reasons for this war.
Bush has also chipped away at our freedoms and the morale of our troops by hiring private mercenary armies like Blackwater — at taxpayer expense — whose only loyalty is to cash.
WE THE PEOPLE are horrified at what has become of our beautiful democracy.
Congressman Stark, though we may not have chosen the provocative words you chose, we applaud you for your strength in STANDING UP TO the CORRUPT, FRAUDULENT, UNCHRISTIAN BUSH ADMINISTRATION. Our war planes bombed small children in Iraq. Countless children are dead because of this "war on an abstract noun" the so-called 'war on terror.' Why are Iraqi children less valuable than American children? Why doesn't Bush care about human life?
A caller on Randi Rhodes show called in to say "if you're innocent, what does it matter if they wiretap you?" Randi let him have it. She said, "My father would roll over in his grave to hear you say he fought in vain. He fought in WWII, marching over Normandy to fight for our freedoms — for our Constitutional rights of privacy, freedom of speech, freedom to assemble, freedom to protest." My theory is this: who is to say they won't accuse you or take you away for "perceived liberal bias or treason in speaking out against our Fuhrer (Bush) one day, or misinterpret one of your phone calls? But all of our freedoms are being stripped away right now. We are no longer allowed to assemble except in organized "pens" far away from the object of our protest. We are afraid to speak out loud on the phone or in our homes for fear we will be misunderstood or taken as an enemy of the STate for disagreeing with this absurdly unAmerican president.
If Bush, Cheney and the NSA went to Qwest, Verizon and AT&T to put wiretapping in place seven months before 9/11 doesn't this mean they ied when they said they were wiretapping Americans to catch terrorists as a result of 9/11? Isn't this treason?
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