This is a new local blog for Florida's sixth Congressional district and watching the actions of Cliff Stearns, the Republican representative who misserves us in Washington. If you are interested in posting at The Case Against Cliff, drop me a line at with some idea of your Democratic and/or progressive credentials and I'll add you as a blogger.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Friend of Cliff

I was checking out the website Friends of Cliff Stearns ( and found the following photo:The caption at the website informs us that Cliff is posing with Retired Iraqi Major General Georges Sada. The picture was taken on October 19, 2006 at the annual Black Tie and Barbecue thrown by the Alachua County Republican Executive Committee. Sada is the author of Saddam's Secrets, in which he makes the claim that prior to the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, Saddam secretly shipped all of his weapons of mass destruction to Syria.

When the book first came out in January of 2006, Sada was of course immediately spirited to Fox News where he was able to spout his claims with Sean Hannity. A YouTube of that interview can be seen here. A breathless article repeating Sada's claims also was published in the New York Sun.

In the Sun article, Sada makes these claims:

Mr. Sada, 65, told the Sun that the pilots of the two airliners that transported the weapons of mass destruction to Syria from Iraq approached him in the middle of 2004, after Saddam was captured by American troops.

"I know them very well. They are very good friends of mine. We trust each other. We are friends as pilots," Mr. Sada said of the two pilots. He declined to disclose their names, saying they are concerned for their safety. But he said they are now employed by other airlines outside Iraq.

The pilots told Mr. Sada that two Iraqi Airways Boeings were converted to cargo planes by removing the seats, Mr. Sada said. Then Special Republican Guard brigades loaded materials onto the planes, he said, including "yellow barrels with skull and crossbones on each barrel." The pilots said there was also a ground convoy of trucks.

The flights - 56 in total, Mr. Sada said - attracted little notice because they were thought to be civilian flights providing relief from Iraq to Syria, which had suffered a flood after a dam collapse in June of 2002.

There are major problems with Sada's claims. First of all, the Iraq Survey Group, a United States effort headed by Charles Duelfer, produced a 1000 page study in October, 2004 that found that Iraq did not possess WMD's prior to the invasion. As reported by BBC:

Iraq Survey Group head Charles Duelfer said Iraq's nuclear capability had decayed not grown since the 1991 war.

But in a 1,000-page report his group said Saddam Hussein intended to resume production of banned weapons when UN sanctions were lifted.

So, first of all, Saddam had all of his WMD's destroyed after the first Gulf War. However, there's even a further hole in Sada's claims. It turns out that the UN was in charge of the humanitarian relief efforts for the dam collapse in Syria in June, 2002 and a report on those efforts is still available.

From the Executive Summary of the report:
The large Zeyzoun earth dam, located in the agricultural Al-Ghab region some 300 km north of Damascus, collapsed on 4 June 2002. The impact of the released water caused serious damage in nearby populated areas with resultant casualties .

To date some 20 people are known to have been killed, and this figure is not likely to change. It is estimated that over 10,000 people were directly affected by this incident to varying degrees, with at least 2,000 rendered completely homeless.

Six days after the disaster, it is considered that the humanitarian situation resulting from this accident is largely under control as a result of a swift and targeted response by the Provincial and Central Syrian authorities. A rapid reaction by the international community, which sent large quantities of emergency supplies, also contributed to quickly stabilize the situation.
Drilling down for further detail, here is how Iraq is credited for its role in the relief efforts:
Iraq has sent 12 airplanes with food, medicines and blankets, and also dispatched a 12-member medical team.
The scale of the relief effort for the dam collapse is just too small for Iraq to have hidden an additional 56 flights beyond those documented by the UN, since the other flights noted were two from Algeria, one from Italy, four from Morocco, one from Saudi Arabia and one from the United Arab Emirates. For Iraq to have hidden an extra 56 flights in the effort, one would think the overall relief effort should have been several hundreds of flights. Further, since Sada says only two Iraqi planes were involved in the weapons transfer, it's hard to see how two planes can move 56 flights of dangerous cargo in a six day window.

Sada's story just doesn't hold up under even the slightest scrutiny, yet Cliff is happy to pose with him as a friend to stay in the good graces of the radical right wing of the Republican party that idolizes war and Sean Hannity.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Cliff's Endorsement from Esquire

I received a mailer today in which Cliff touts his recent endorsement from Esquire Magazine. He just might want to re-think calling attention to this one. For starters, here is the cover of the endorsement issue from Esquire:

I don't think that's going to go over well with the family values set.

Next, the mailing quotes the Esquire endorsement:
When, someday in the future, you are protected from online skulduggery by an Internet Bill of Rights, you'll have Cliff Stearns to thank. He's the leader in Congress--frankly in the entire federal government--on privacy protection in the digital age.
Yeah, Cliff's really on top of that privacy thing. Let's think back to earlier this year. On March 14, the House voted on HR 3773, an amendment of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that provided the updates that the Bush Administration had been requesting. This bill, however, did not confer retroactive immunity to the telecommunications industry. Like the good Republican he is, Cliff voted against this bill, along with every Republican who voted that day in the House. Later, on June 20, the House voted on HR 6304, a very similar bill that now did confer retroactive immunity to the telecommunications industry. Again, Cliff joined the herd of Republicans who voted in favor of conferring legal immunity on the telecommunications firms that illegally spied on the communications of every citizen of the United States. [One lone Republican, Timothy Johnson of Illinois, had the courage to vote against this bill.]

When it comes to "online skulduggery", Cliff has already demonstrated by his votes that he comes down squarely on the side of the skulduggery, especially when the skulduggery comes from an industry that has given him $35,000 since the last election.

If Cliff is so in favor of an Internet Bill of Rights, why hasn't he introduced such a bill?

Why hasn't he introduced any legislation he can point to that justifies his continued presence in the House?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Fla. Dems Good on Environment, Reps Not So Much

The League of Conservation Voters released their scorecards for Congress. Can you guess what the pattern is? Of Florida Republicans, only Ileana Ros-Lehtinen does as good as any Democrat and that's only one person. Beyond that, all Democrats do way better than all Republicans. No shocker there.

Alcee Hastings (D), 92%
Ron Klein (D), 92%
Timothy Mahoney (D), 92%
Kendrick Meek (D), 92%
Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D), 92%
Bill Nelson (D), 91%
F. Allen Boyd (D), 85%
Corrine Brown (D), 85%
Kathy Castor (D), 85%
Robert Wexler (D), 69%
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R), 69%
Vern Buchanan (R), 62%
Gus Bilirakis (R), 38%
Ginny Brown-Waite (R), 38%
Mario Diaz-Balart (R), 38%
C.W. Bill Young (R), 38%
Mel Martinez (R), 36%
Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R), 31%
Ander Crenshaw (R), 15%
Ric Keller (R), 15%
Connie Mack (R), 8%
John Mica (R), 8%
Adam Putnam (R), 8%
Dave Weldon (R), 8%
Tom Feeney (R), 0%
Jeff Miller (R), 0%
Cliff Stearns (R), 0%

Monday, October 13, 2008

From the Blogs

Tim Cunha: Save America - The truth about deregulation and the current economic crisis

Achieving Our Country: Cliff Stearns, Born Again Regulator

Hypocrisy in Action

Courtesy of the Gainesville Sun, here is Congressman Cliff Stearns speaking at the dedication of a new ethanol plant at the University of Florida. The plant relies on technology developed by Professor Lonnie Ingram of the Department of Microbiology and Cell Science:

On a day when he declined to appear at a candidate forum just a few miles away at The Village to allow voters to hear him debate the issues in this election with challenger Tim Cunha, it is puzzling why Congressman Stearns would choose to appear at this dedication. His appearance is puzzling because Stearns has been a staunch foe of renewable energy in his twenty years of radical right-wing Republican voting in the House of Representatives.

At it website, Scientists and Engineers for America examines the voting records of politicians on issues of importance to the scientific community. Their analysis of Stearns' record on energy issues is devastating. In 2007 alone, they document four major votes in which Stearns voted against renewable energy.

In January, 2007, Stearns voted against HR 6, the Clean Energy Act of 2007. According to SEA, this bill would have reduced income tax deductions for oil and gas companies and the revenues generated "would be used for the development of alternative fuels and renewable energy sources".

Furthermore, after the Senate amended HR 6 to include raising gas mileage standards to a measly 35 mpg by 2020, Stearns voted against the bill two more times, including a no vote on its final passage.

In August of 2007, the House considered the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2007. As SEA describes it, this bill "would provide tax incentives to promote the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency, including guaranteeing up to $1 billion in loans for the development of biorefineries and biofuel production facilities." Stearns voted no.

So, on August 4, 2007, Stearns voted against a bill to fund biofuel production facilities. Then, on October 10, 2008, he grabbed the spotlight away from the scientists and business people who have brought a valuable, cutting edge technology to our area to take false credit in dedicating a plant he essentially voted against. How's that for leadership?

Finally, in the debate on the Renewable Energy bill discussed above, Stearns also voted against the Udall amendment that called for "retail electric suppliers to provide 15% of their electricity through a rewable energy portfolio standard (RPS) by 2020".

Despite Stearns' "no" votes, all of the bills discussed here eventually passed. That's hypocrisy in action: consistently vote against renewable energy and then steal the credit when a renewable energy production facility is dedicated.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Republicans Don't Support Troops As Well As Dems

Check out the latest scorecards from Disabled American Veterans and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America...


Bill Nelson, 100
Allen Boyd, 100
Corrine Brown, 100
Kendrick Meek, 100
Robert Wexler, 100
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, 100
Alcee Hastings, 100

Mel Martinez, 60
Jeff Miller, 66
Ander Crenshaw, 66
Ginny Brown-Waite, 66
Cliff Stearns, 66
John Mica, 66
Ric Keller, 50
C.W. Bill Young, 66
Adam Putnam, 66
Connie Mack, 66
David Weldon, 66
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, 66
Lincoln Diaz-Balart, 66
Tom Feeney, 66
Mario Diaz-Balart, 66

Notice a pattern here? All of the Dems have 100%, while none of the Republicans has anything better than a mid-range "D." So much for supporting disabled troops.


Bill Nelson, A+
Allen Boyd, A
Corrine Brown, A
Kathy Castor, A
Timothy Mahoney, A
Kendrick Meek, B
Robert Wexler, A
D. Wasserman Schultz, A+
Ron Klein, A+
Alcee Hastings, A

Mel Martinez, B
Jeff Miller, B
Ander Crenshaw, B
G. Brown-Waite, B
Cliff Stearns, B
John Mica, B
Ric Keller, A
Gus Bilirakis, A
C.W. Bill Young, B
Adam Putnam, C
Vern Buchanan, B
Connie Mack, B
Dave Weldon, C
I. Ros-Lehtinen, A
L. Diaz-Balart, B
Tom Feeney, B
M. Diaz-Balart, B

Republicans do a little better on this one, with Keller, Bilirakis and Ros-Lehtinen all getting an "A." Dems still do better, Meek has the lowest grade on our side of the aisle, and he still has a "B." The only "A+" grades amongst Florida's delegation are Dems and the only grades below "B" are all Republicans. Again, which party actually supports the troops?