Sunday, 21 July 2024



Thompson speaking on the House floor Feb. 14.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — This past week saw Congress debating the president's proposed escalation in Iraq war.

Congressman Mike Thompson was among the more outspoken opponents of escalation.

Last week, leaders of the House of Representatives gave each House member a chance to voice their opinion on the war. Thompson was one of 11 veterans who spoke against President George W. Bush's proposed escalation in the war, which would send 20,000 more U.S. troops into the region.

On Feb. 14, during his turn on the floor, Thompson called for an end to the escalation and demanded a timetable for phased redeployment of U.S. troops out of Iraq.

Thompson urged support of H Con. Res. 63, which states support for the troops but opposes Bush's escalation. He also promoted and explained his recently introduced bill, HR 787, which calls for redeployment to begin on May 1, with all combat brigades out of Iraq by March 31, 2008.

Speaking against the escalation, Thompson said it would put a strain not just on the troops but the military as a whole, with much of the military's equipment already damaged. He said it would require years and billions of dollars to fix the equipment.

“This escalation is in no one’s best interest,” he said.

He told reporters Wednesday that his latest bill is similar to a bill he introduced in the last session of Congress.

It would prevent an escalation in the war without Congressional approval, he said.

"Most importantly, it would require a surge in diplomacy," he said, by creating a special diplomatic envoy position devoted to addressing issues with Iraq.

He said in favor of binding resolution, as well as a deadline to get troops out of the country.

Thompson's bill is companion legislation to a bill introduced in the Senate by Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. The two men, both of whom have been consistent in their opposition to the war, joined forces on the topic and explained their bills in a joint press conference Feb. 6.

Earlier this month, a report by the Congressional Research Service found that in the current session of Congress, 31 bills relating to Iraq War policy have been introduced.

Of those, eight call for withdrawal or “redeployment.”

One of those bills calling for U.S. troop withdrawal is HR 508, authored by Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Petaluma). Woolsey's bill stipulates troop withdrawal within six months.

Thompson said he doesn't support that legislation. "I think it's physically impossible.”

He was critical of Australian Prime Minister John Howard's recent remarks about Obama's bill, similar to Thompson's, which Howard said would destabilize the Middle East by withdrawing the troops.

Howard said if he were al Qaida, he would circle March 2008 on his calendar.

"I don't think his comments were appropriate," said Thompson, who added that Australia is a "minor player" in the Iraq war.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that there are now 1,300 Australian troops in Iraq.

Thompson explained that the U.S. is doing the "heavy lift," with 140,000 troops on the ground in Iraq now, and billions spent. The country with the next-highest number of troops, he said, is the United Kingdom.

The London Daily Telegraph reports there are currently 7,200 British troops in Iraq.

A State Department weekly briefly from last week reported more than 15,000 total coalition troops – in addition to US forces – in Iraq.

Thompson contradicted Howard's assertion that al Qaida is causing the unrest in Iraq; he called the situation there a civil war.

The U.S. military is struggling, he said; it's been unable to meet recruitment demands and retention goals,which has led to lowering standards for soldiers. It also hasn't managed to armor all of its Humvees in Iraq, he said.

The U.S.'s top priority, he said, should be to protect its citizens from terrorists, an effort that he said our presence in Iraq diminishes.

Thompson is critical of how the war is being funded.

"The money for the Iraq war has not come through the budget, ever," he said.

Rather, it has been funded by one emergency supplemental after another, many of them passed with little or no oversight by Congress.

The new leadership in Congress is putting increased emphasis on watching these expenditures, said Thompson.

Although it's a better vetted process, Thompson said, "I still don't like it."

He wants to see it handled as a true budget process, with other spending sacrificed to make the expense real for Americans.

"We're just charging it down the road," he said.

That's a problem, said Thompson, because by 2041 the federal government will take in as much money as it costs to pay the national debt's interest.

Thompson reported that Bush, who has already spent $400 billion on the war, is asking for an additional $240 billion. He said the Iraq Study Group estimates that the final cost of the war will be $2 trillion, which includes ongoing care from thousands of wounded veterans.

The American people, said Thompson, are "ahead of the curve" in opposing the war.

He said if Congress was on the same page as the people it represents, it would be discussing binding resolutions, not nonbinding ones.

"I think we have some catching up to do," he said.

On Friday, Congress voted 246-182 in support of the resolution. By doing so, Thompson said it was the first time since the war started that Congress made an effort to hold Bush accountable “for his bad decisions in Iraq.”

He said Bush's escalation plan would offer nothing different from the past four years of failed policies.

“We should be finding ways to make this war end, not let it go on indefinitely,” he said.

He said the resolution, though nonbinding, was a critical step in getting U.S. troops out of Iraq's “full-blown civil war.”

Thompson said last week's debate was “the first real debate we’ve had on Iraq in more than four years.”

In that week alone, he said, Congress quadrupled the amount of time given to debate of this war since it began.

In an unusual Saturday vote, the Senate decided not to consider the nonbinding resolution against the war in Iraq by a vote of 56 to 34, with 10 members not voting. California Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein were among the 34 voting “yes” to advancing the resolution.


To see Thompson speaking the House floor last week, click on the following link: Thompson Video

Contact Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Musicians perform 'The Lucerne Water Blues' at the town hall meeting. Left to right, Craig Bach, who wrote the song, Paul Frindt and Dave Gilmore. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

LUCERNE – A capacity crowd gathered at the Lucerne Senior Center Saturday afternoon for a town hall meeting hosted by District 3 Supervisor Denise Rushing.

LAKE COUNTY – Hope you've enjoyed the weather for the last week, because the National Weather Service (SWS) in Sacramento is forecasting a change in the weather beginning Tuesday night.

A storm system coming in from the Pacific is predicted to bring more rain and cool weather Tuesday night through Friday along with gusting winds according to the NWS.

Forecast as a slow-moving system, this storm could bring one to two feet of new snow to the Sierras and one to two inches of rain to Lake County.

Winds in higher elevations could gust in excess of 50 mph with snow levels dropping to above the 3,000 foot level.

Rain and snow are expected to become heavy over the interior coastal range mountains late Wednesday into Wednesday night.


Mike Thompson, center, speaks with Kelseyville resident Steve DeVoto at the Napa event. Photo by Nina Marino.

LAKE COUNTY – An event last Sunday celebrated last year's passage of Congressman Mike Thompson's  Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act, which passed last fall.

The county is offering to purchase the Lucerne Senior Center thrift shop building for $150,000. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

LUCERNE – The county is working with the Lucerne Senior Center to purchase part of the center's property, an effort the county's top official said is meant to help the center financially. 

Chief Administrative Officer Kelly Cox shared the plan with Lucerne residents at a town hall meeting hosted at the center by Supervisors Denise Rushing on Saturday.

For the past few years the center has struggled with a number of financial issues. Last April, the center asked the Board of Supervisors for a $150,000 loan to help it stabilize its precarious financial situation and allow it to continue serving the community's seniors.

That request didn't go through. Senior center executive board president Jim Swatts explained in a weekend interview that he withdrew the loan request because he feared it would open a “can of worms” for the county, in that other groups might bombard the board with similar fund requests.

“I didn't turn it down because I didn't want it, I turned it down because I didn't want to put the county in that kind of predicament,” Swatts said.

Cox explained in an interview following the town hall meeting that the supervisors put $150,000 in the 2006-07 budget to help the center by taking another approach – buying the center's thrift shop on Country Club and 9th, located next to the main building.

Cox said the county and the center began speaking about the purchase last month, and that the process is now starting.

The plan, said Cox, is to buy the lot containing the thrift shop building and the parking lot behind it. The county would then lease the building and lot back to the center for $1 a year, he said, with the stipulation that the center must make a room available for community meetings.

Swatts said the lease agreement calls for the senior center to rent the thrift shop building for 10 years, with an option for the center to buy the building back at that time for $150,000 or to continue to lease the building for another 10-year period.

Cox said the process to purchase the building will include several steps, such as an appraisal and a public hearing. He expects it to take three months.

“It's going to help eliminate the debt the senior center has,” said Cox, and will allow the county to manage the building in a way that still makes it available to the center.

The $150,000 purchase price, said Cox, will allow the center to catch up on its bills.

The center's current debt load is more than $100,000, Swatts said, but much less than when it went to the board last April.

Once the center has paid off its bills, it needs to pursue some building improvement projects, Swatts said.

Those projects include repairing the building's roof, he said, which has suffered repeated leaks.

There also are plans to remodel the center's kitchen, Swatts said, and enlarge it by converting some office space into additional kitchen area.

“It's a win-win for everybody,” Cox said.

“That's exactly what it is,” Swatts agreed.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


LAKEPORT — A Monday meeting to discuss the proposed sale of Konocti Harbor and Spa between Kenwood Investments, the buyer, and Lake County government officials was called off by Kenwood.


District 5 Supervisor Rob Brown said a message received at county offices from Kenwood on Friday said only, "'Due to unforeseen circumstances we will not be able to attend the meeting,'" said Brown.


Brown was to be joined by County Counsel Anita Grant, County Administrative Executive Kelly Cox and board chair Jeff Smith in representing the county. He said he had assumed that Darius Anderson, lobbyist and owner of Kenwood Investments, would be accompanied by executives Brad Welch and Joe Wallace.


Welch represented Kenwood a week earlier when the Lake County board voted 5-0 against Kenwood's establishing a gambling casino at Konocti Harbor upon purchasing the resort from UA Local Convalescent Fund; he left that meeting without comment.


Considering that circumstance, Brown was asked what he thought the abrupt cancellation of Monday's meeting indicated.


"They didn't show up. I don't know what it means," he said.


E-mail John Lindblom at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..




LAKEPORT — While the building gives off only dim lighting to passersby, Molly Brennans has actually been glowing brightly on Main Street in downtown Lakeport since its opening in October.
Lakeport's one-and-only Irish pub, Molly Brennans doubles as a family-friendly restaurant that welcomes music, noise, laughter, and the people who provide it. The only policy? "Everyone is welcome," says Stephen Brennan, co-owner of the pub and originally from Dublin.

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