Friday, August 24, 2007

Ehlers attends Iraq panel discussion

Media Mouse has an excellent round-up of a recent panel discussion on the Iraq War. Guess who showed up?

Last night at the Women's City Club in Grand Rapids, Democracy for America's Kent County chapter held a panel discussion titled "Searching for a Constructive Response to our Entanglement in Iraq." The panel featured two West Michigan area professors and a former military chaplain, all of who gave twenty-minute talks on the conflict in Iraq followed by a question and answer period.

Surprisingly, Grand Rapids area congressional representative Vern Ehlers who has recently stated his unwillingness to listen to protestors, attended the event. While it is nice to see Ehlers out in public engaging the current situation in Iraq, the fact that Ehlers chose to attend this particular event--and not any of the other numerous teach-ins that took place before and after the start of the war--is somewhat troublesome for those who have been pressuring Ehlers to end the occupation of Iraq as the three panelists basically echoed Ehlers' position that the United States has a "moral obligation" to the Iraqi people and that the United States must stay in the country to attempt to mitigate the effects of what is for the most part now a civil war. To be fair, Democracy for America cannot be blamed for Ehlers' attendance, but it was unfortunate that all three panelists represented what was at best a "centrist" position on the situation. There was no voice for an immediate withdrawal on the panel, nor for that matters were there any voices calling for a timetable for withdrawal. Ehlers will likely see the panel as bolstering his position, he has recently claimed that he will only listen to "facts" when making his decisions about the war and now he has three area "experts" on record essentially supporting his position on the conflict.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

War costs Ehlers's constituents $818 million - so far

The National Priorities Project has released a fact sheet detailing the cost of the war in Iraq to the state of Michigan and to each congressional district. From Media Mouse:

The fact sheet also highlights the fact that the war has cost residents of the 3rd Congressional District that includes Grand Rapids at least $818 million dollars. According to the National Priorities Project's analysis, that money could have paid for healthcare for 139,738 children for the duration of the Iraq War, 6,595 affordable housing units, or 74 elementary schools. The cost of the war to the city of Grand Rapids ( has been estimated to be at least $236,523,931.

These costs have apparently been ignored by Republican Representative Vern Ehlers who represents the Third District. Over the past week, Ehlers--who was questioned about whether or not he would support cutting funding for the war--has refused to do so. Instead, Ehlers has claimed that he initially had "deep reservations" about the war and is unhappy without how it has gone, but has stated that it will be a "bloodbath" if the United States leaves. Ehlers has further said that he will not be influenced by demonstrations but rather will be "swayed by facts."
Media Mouse goes on to list the many "facts" that evidently have not swayed Congresman Ehlers, including the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have been killed, the millions who have been displaced, numerous attacks by insurgents, and the lack of electricity throughout most of teh day in Baghdad.

And let's not forget the eight million Iraqis living in destitute conditions.

So much for 'liberating' them.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

GR Press: Anti-war campaign in town to work on Ehlers

Here's The Grand Rapids Press with more:

They have been in town several weeks now, organizing meetings, attending demonstrations, handing out lawn signs, andwriting letters, all aimed at changing one man's mind.

"The only person around here who can do anything about this is Vern Ehlers," said Bryan Finken, 46, a part-time philosophy professor from Denver, about the war in Iraq.


Their effort is part of a national campaign by a coalition of anti-war groups called Americans Against Escalation in Iraq. The effort is targeting 40 Republican members of Congress they believe may be wavering in their support for the war.

Those 40, if they change their minds, would give the war's opponents a veto-proof majority in Congress, organizers said. They call their campaign Iraq Summer, modeled after the 1964 Freedom Summer, which registered black voters in the South, and the summer of 1967 protests against the Vietnam War.

America is speaking - is Vern Ehlers listening?