Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Oklahoma Democratic Party Calls on
House Republican Leadership to
Come Clean about Ethics Violations

OKLAHOMA CITY Dr. Ivan Holmes, Chairman of the Oklahoma Democratic Party, called on Speaker Lance Cargill and House Republicans to do the right thing by coming forward with the truth about allegations of illegal campaign contributions and expenditures. Revelations about tens of thousands of dollars being funneled from the accounts of Republican lawmakers into the Oklahoma County Republican Party to assist Republican House candidates all over Oklahoma come at a time when the GOP has been plagued by scandal after scandal.

“Despite lip service about family values and morality, the culture of corruption in the Republican Party goes from the State House to the White House. Time and again they have broken the law and violated ethics rules in pursuit of power for the Republican Party, not for the good of Oklahoma or their constituents,” stated Holmes. “It is time they come clean and place statesmanship ahead of partisanship.”

Gary Jones, Chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party, has confirmed repeated reports that the Oklahoma Ethics Commission is investigating House Republicans for diverting checks written to the Oklahoma State Republican Party to the Oklahoma County Republican Party for use by their targeted House candidates. Sources have named House Speaker Lance Cargill, R-Harrah, and Rep. Trebor Worthen, R-Oklahoma City, chairman of the House political action committee that raises money for candidates, as the targets of this investigation.

Even former Republican Speaker of the House Todd Hiett has called on Speaker Cargill to come forward with the truth, "Cargill obviously felt like he was on solid ground. I honestly hope he would come forward with the legal ground that supports that action."

“Not only did Cargill and Worthen mislead the voters of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Ethics Commission, but they also misled their own legislative members who believed they were legitimately donating to the State Republican Party,” stated Holmes. “I hope Republican Representative David Dank will join me in calling for his House Republican Leadership to step down as he did for other elected officials who are currently under investigation.” Dank announced he will introduce ethics reform legislation similar to legislation introduced previously by Representative Lucky Lamons, D-Tulsa, that had been killed in committee by Republican leaders.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Inhofe Rejects Chance to Help
Troops and their Families, Again

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe is risking the health and welfare of America’s soldiers and their families when he rejects bipartisan efforts to ensure a fair deployment rotation policy, State Democratic Party Chairman Dr. Ivan Holmes said today.

“Senator Inhofe votes consistently against policies that would benefit American soldiers and their families,” Holmes said. “He supports the war but his voting record makes it hard for him to claim that he supports the troops.”

Holmes was referring to an amendment before the U.S. Senate last week that Inhofe helped defeat for the second time this year that would establish rotation policies guaranteeing that most troops spend time at home between deployments equal to the duration of their last deployment.

Known as the “dwell-time” amendment, it had support of both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate along with the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) and several veterans groups.

“Our men and women in uniform and their families have been pushed to the breaking point by these unreasonable deployments and redeployments,” Holmes said. “Regardless of his stubborn refusal to change course in Iraq after four and one-half years, Inhofe should at the very least, reconsider the toll on Oklahoma parents, children, and troops that the pace of the war is taking on America’s all-volunteer force.”

Holmes said that American ground forces are serving unprecedented periods in combat, which is leading to increased mental health issues among the troops and their families and a falling retention rate of experienced combat veterans. Most Army units today deploy for 15 months with 12 months at home. Most Marines have even less time at home. By contrast, British troops enjoy two years at home for every six months in combat.

The amendment’s author, Senator Jim Webb, D-VA, had cooperated with the Secretary of Defense to include a 120-day enactment period so the Pentagon could plan and organize the new rotation policy and he exempted Special Operations Forces because of the erratic nature of their mission.

“If Senator Inhofe doesn’t want to listen to me and other Oklahomans, he should listen to the Military Officers Association,” Holmes said in reference to a letter by MOAA President which stated: ”If we are not better stewards of our troops and their families in the future than we have been in the recent past, MOAA believes strongly that we will be putting the all-volunteer force at unacceptable risk.”

Holmes also noted that Article One, Section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress clear authority to “make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces.”

“Congress has mandated military personnel policies in the past, even during war time,” Holmes said. “It’s too easy for war cheerleaders in Congress to say they’re following the advice of the Pentagon. They also have a responsibility to look out for the welfare of our troops and their families.”

"Everyone, regardless of race, gender, or socioeconomic status, is entitled to equal justice under the law. The quotation "All men are created equal" is arguably the best-known phrase in any of America's political documents. Therefore, as stated by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, an injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere," stated Kitti Asberry, Vice Chair of the Oklahoma Democratic Party, speaking on the steps of the Oklahoma State Capitol on September 20, 2007 at the Jena 6 Rally.

Friday, September 21, 2007

September 19, 2007

Retired OK Col Katherine Scheirman
Travels To Washington DC to Push
For Iraq Mission Worthy of
Troops Sacrifices

Oklahoma City, OK —Democratic Senators and Congressmen joined 40 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, including Dr. Katherine Scheirman, USAF (ret.), an Oklahoma City physician, in Washington DC on Tuesday to discuss Democrats’ ongoing efforts toward a strategy that protects our troops, supports our veterans when they return home and keeps America safer while finding a political solution in Iraq.

Dr. Scheirman, who retired in October of 2006 after 20 years of active duty, served as Director of Medical Operations at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, where casualties from Iraq are evacuated. She stated, “I enjoyed this tremendous opportunity to meet other military veterans who speak for the troops in Iraq. We delivered their message that we need a responsible redeployment of our troops from Iraq in order to rebuild our military and go after the real Al Qaeda, in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Our national security is damaged by our occupation of Iraq.”

Said Jon Soltz, an Iraq veteran and the Chairman and Co-Founder of Vote Vets: “The President and his supporters continue to present no plan for Iraq. What the President has presented will not move Iraqis towards national reconciliation, or allow us to begin our overextended troops home, to refit and rearm and take the fight to al Qaeda. His plan is nothing but politics, trying to run down the clock and offer some political cover to vulnerable members of his party. This is not supporting the troops, and it is certainly not protecting America.”

“President Bush has pushed America's military to the limit,” Senator Dick Durbin said. “By forcing current troop levels until he leaves office, the President fails to acknowledge that lengthy deployments in a war without a strategic plan is not only unrealistic but unfair to our soldiers and their families.”

Said Senator Charles Schumer: “Despite the President's military surge and the valiant efforts of American soldiers, Iraq’s central government is weaker than ever, undermined by warring factions who have shown little interest in working together to bring a stable and peaceful government to their country. Without political reconciliation between the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds, peace cannot be brought to the country no matter how many troops there are. We should be doing all we can to change the course in Iraq.”

“Our troops are stretched thin, their equipment is deteriorating, and the patience of our nation is waning,” Senator Patty Murray said. “My colleagues and I are committed to changing the mission in Iraq, giving our troops more time at home, and taking care of our troops when they come home. But we need Republicans to join us. Many have begun to talk the talk. Now they have a chance to walk the walk.”

Said Senator Bernie Sanders: “All across the country there are veterans and their families who, as a result of their service to the nation, are experiencing health problems or financial problems. As a nation, we owe it to them to provide them the health care and benefits they have earned. The good news is that the Congress is making great strides in the effort to keep faith with our veterans.” On Iraq, he added, “it is not acceptable that the Bush administration still has no exit strategy.”

“It’s an outrage that the President and the Secretary of Defense are talking about vetoing what their own generals recommend,” Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher said. “Secretary Gates says this is about ‘force management.’ I think good management is a military that is rested and ready as opposed to over-stretched and strained. My legislation does this by making sure our troops are getting enough time to rest and retrain between deployments.”

For more information:
Dr. Katherine Scheirman, 405/209-6101

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The revolt of the generals

by: GEORGIE ANNE GEYER Universal Press Syndicate

WASHINGTON -- This is the week of the generals. "Oh," you say, "you mean the generals who have been serving in Iraq and are now testifying before Congress about our troops staying there?" Nope. I mean the growing "revolt of the generals," as some are calling it, against the war and against the entire war policy.

They are, of course, almost all retired generals. Anthony Zinni, Barry McCaffrey, Wesley Clark, Paul Eaton, James Jones, John Batiste and others, in addition to some influential colonels like Ralph Peters. One might wonder why those generals and other officers still in service when the war began didn't speak out a little earlier (as some of these did), when it might have spared us what many knew even then was going to go down as the greatest military disaster in American history.

Those who did speak out and continue to do so are brave men, with more important messages for Americans today than any that come from Iraqi commanding Gen. David H. Petraeus.

  • From retired Col. Ralph Peters, writing in USA Today: "The generals point out that they don't control the strategic decisions, that all they can do is to follow orders, that then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld wouldn't listen to anyone, that Congress undercut the military, that the media's behavior has been pernicious and that Iraq's political leaders have failed their country."

"No matter the mitigating circumstances and political restrictions military leaders face, there is no 'gentleman's C' in warfare. The course is pass-fail."

  • From retired Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, testifying before the House Armed Services Committee on July 31, 2007: "The U.S. armed forces are in a position of strategic peril. Congress must act."

"However, the purpose of my testimony is not to talk about the ongoing tactical operations . . . but instead the disastrous state of America's ground combat forces. Congress has been missing-in-action during the past several years while undebated and misguided strategies were implemented by former secretary Rumsfeld and his team of arrogant and inexperienced civilian associates in the Pentagon. The JCS (Joint Chiefs of Staff) failed to protect the armed forces from bad judgment and illegal orders.

"They have gotten us in a terrible strategic position of vulnerability. The Army is starting to crack under the strain of lack of resources, lack of political support and leadership from both the administration and this Congress, and isolation from the American people who have now walked away from the war."

  • Finally, retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, speaking on his book, "The Battle for Peace," in a "Meet the Press" appearance, describes the administration's behavior in the war as ranging from "true dereliction, negligence and irresponsibility" to "lying, incompetence and corruption."

In short: (1) Our military officer corps has become so bureaucratized, and thus is easily cowed by an obnoxiously dominating and humiliating figure like former secretary Rumsfeld, that we can never expect independent thinking from them if it is going to cost them their pensions. (2) The mindset of American officers is so rigidly conventional that they are simply incapable of understanding the Third World mentalities that they blithely -- and ignorantly -- fight. (3) Our military officers can understand only conventional warfare -- tank battles across the belly of Europe -- even though that threat barely exists in today's world.

Think about it. Every war we have fought (and too many of them!) since World War II has involved an "irregular" or guerrilla opponent. Especially Vietnam. Yet our military discovered "counterinsurgency" only three years into the Iraq war. The rather obvious thing to learn from this is, if you cannot do something well or at least understand it, then don't do it! That lesson most definitely has not been learned at the Pentagon, at enormous cost to America.

It is surely good that these retired generals (and a few others) have been speaking out, but where does it go? Even today, after Vietnam and Somalia and Bosnia and Lebanon and Central America, there is no one in the Pentagon who can analyze histories of foreign cultures well enough to predict what a society would do in response to an occupation. Our officers are treating counterinsurgency like something brand new when in fact it is millennia old.

We will have to watch carefully what happens to the officer corps after Iraq, whenever that might be. And we will have to thank these generals for the clarity that they are bringing to this clouded picture.

Thanks from the Troops
for the Care Packages

Friday, September 14, 2007

College Students Get Needed Help,
Inhofe One of Twelve to Vote No!

OKLAHOMA CITYOklahoma’s U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe should explain why he chose to protect wealthy bankers when he could have voted for a popular bill to increase financial aid for college students, Oklahoma Democratic Party Chairman Dr. Ivan Holmes said today.

Inhofe was one of only twelve U.S. Senators who voted against a bill that President Bush says he will sign to expand access to college student loans and grant assistance for thousands of low income students. The expanded assistance is paid for by cutting almost $20 billion in excessive fees to banks and other lenders who make student loans. The Senate approved the measure, 79-12, and it passed the House of Representatives, 292-97.

“By making the student loan program about college students instead of the banks, the Democratic Congress has made a big difference for parents and students who struggle to put enough money together to pay for college,” Holmes said.

The bill that was sent to the President reduces interest rates on federally backed student loans to poor and middle-income students from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent over the next four years. It also increases the maximum Pell grant, which goes to the poorest college students, from $4,310 a year to $5,400 by 2012. It also establishes a loan forgiveness program for college graduates who work for ten years in certain public service professions, such as teaching or nursing.

The student assistance package also reduces the federal deficit. By cutting generous subsidies to banks and other lenders that were contracted by the Bush Administration to administer the student loan program, the bill offsets costs of the student loan expansion and dedicates approximately $750 million for deficit reduction.

“Inhofe continues to paint himself as a ‘true’ conservative and deficit hawk, but his rhetoric doesn’t match his actions and this vote once again proves it. Inhofe could have voted to reduce the deficit and help average families, but instead he sided with the banking industry,” said Holmes. The latest Federal Election Commission report indicates that Inhofe received $10,000 from the American Bankers Association PAC so far in 2007.

“More Oklahoma students will have access to a college education in the years ahead no thanks to Jim Inhofe,” Holmes said. “Oklahomans demand to know when Jim Inhofe is going to stop pandering to special interests and start helping working families.”

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Giuliani Continues to Duck
Responsibility for Health of 9/11
Firefighters and Recovery Workers

OKLAHOMA CITY – While he often evokes 9/11 on the campaign trail, Rudy Giuliani has yet to take responsibility for his role in exposing firefighters and recovery workers to debilitating toxic air at Ground Zero. When he campaigns in Oklahoma today, Giuliani should finally answer questions about this serious health issue, which has led to thousands of firefighters and first responders being treated for serious respiratory problems.

“The way Rudy Giuliani has bucked responsibility for this serious health issue speaks volumes about his shabby brand of leadership,” said Dr. Ivan Holmes, Chairman of the Oklahoma Democratic Party. “Giuliani should truthfully answer the concerns of the firefighters and 9/11 families who have sacrificed so much.”

Records show that Giuliani’s administration was aware of the toxic levels of asbestos in air samples of Ground Zero but he “sidelined” federal agencies with “extensive disaster response experience”. Giuliani's administration assigned clean-up to an unknown city agency and re-opened sections of Manhattan “despite knowing the air was toxic,” “overruling” the city's Department of Environmental Protection which found high levels of asbestos in 27 of 38 tests conducted before Giuliani refuted concerns about the air quality and said the “air quality is safe and acceptable.” [The New York Times, 5/14/07; UPI, 9/7/06; Giuliani, 9/28/01; New York Post, 9/7/06; Daily News, 9/6/06]

Thousands of firefighters have developed illnesses and what has become known as World Trade Center cough. “Beyond all doubt” the deaths of at least four responders were “a direct consequence of their service” at the WTC site according to the Daily News. [New York Times, 2/27/07; 5/14/07; Newsday (New York), 1/31/07; Daily News (New York), 7/25/06]

Firefighters and 9/11 family members have been angered by Giuliani's lack of accountability. As they noted in a recent video, Giuliani has not taken responsibility for neglecting the needs of city firefighters or his poor decision to put the emergency command center in the shadow of the World Trade Center. []

After Rudy Giuliani recently claimed that he was at Ground Zero “as often, if not more” than the recovery workers at the site, The New York Times proved that claim to be factually inaccurate. The reality is that for the period of September 17 to December 16, 2001, Rudy logged a total of 29 hours at Ground Zero, while many brave rescue and recovery workers worked 12-hour shifts every day.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Congratulations to

Oklahoma County Commissioner

Willa Johnson!

Governor David Walters, County Commissioner Willa Johnson,

First Lady Rhonda Walters and Corporation Commissioner Jim Roth