ASBAREZ Online [07-23-2004]

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07/23/2004
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1- ANCA Endorses Kerry For President
2- ANCA’s Outreach to the White House and Republican Leaders
3- ANCA Backs up Endorsement by Calling for Greater Grassroots Activism
4- The Bush/Kerry Record
5- Armenian Democrats to Join Ethnic Diversity Celebration at Democratic
Convention
6- Ethnic Democrats Caucus Meeting, Workshop at Democratic National Convention
7- Russia Cuts Off Georgia’s Gas Supplies
8- Bush Administration’s Shameful Attempt at Politicizing The Law
9- A Dark Day for Truth And A Darker Day for Republicans

1- ANCA Endorses Kerry For President

Cites Senator Kerry’s Long Record of Support on Armenian American Issues,
President Bush’s Retreat from his Pledge to Recognize the Armenian Genocide

WASHINGTON, DC–In a move expected to impact electoral outcomes in key
presidential election swing states this November, the Armenian National
Committee of America (ANCA), the nation’s grassroots Armenian American
organization, today announced its endorsement of the Kerry-Edwards ticket.
“For Armenian Americans, the clear choice is John Kerry,” said ANCA Chairman
Ken Hachikian. “Senator Kerry has been a friend of the Armenian American
community for over twenty years, with a proven track record of fighting hard
for issues of concern to Armenian Americans across the nation. He faces an
incumbent, President Bush, whose record on Armenian issues has grown
progressively more disappointing throughout his tenure in the White House,
beginning with his broken campaign pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide,
including his Administration’s attempt to end military aid parity between
Armenia and Azerbaijan, and up until this week, with his Administration’s
strident attacks on legislation recognizing the Armenian Genocide.”
John Kerry welcomed the ANCA endorsement, stating that, “John Edwards and I
would like to thank the ANCA for its endorsement. We are looking forward to
working with all Armenian Americans to create a stronger America, more
respected in the world. ANCA largest grassroots organization”
“We call on Armenian Americans to compare the respective records of Senator
Kerry and President Bush, to weigh the importance of their ballot for the
future of US-Armenian relations, and to cast their vote for the Kerry-Edwards
ticket on November 2nd,” added Hachikian.
The ANCA endorsement follows closely in the wake of the Bush Administration’s
forceful attack on the Schiff Amendment, a provision adopted last week by the
US House that prevents Turkey from using US foreign aid to lobby against the
Genocide Resolution. Armenian Americans, particularly those in key swing
states
such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida, are positioned to play a decisive
role
in what looks, by all accounts, to be a hotly contested election.

2- ANCA’s Outreach to the White House and Republican Leaders

The ANCA has, on several occasions over the past four years, specifically
asked
for a meeting between President Bush and the Armenian American community
leadership. These formal requests, which never received a response, were
supported by a series of ANCA and community-wide letters outlining the views
and disappointments of Armenian Americans on specific issues, ranging from the
Armenian Genocide to foreign aid policy.
In April of this year, the ANCA sent detailed letters to the Chairman of the
Bush-Cheney campaign, Marc Racicot, and the Congressional Republican
leadership
voicing disappointment over the Bush Administration’s record on Armenian
issues, and expressing frustration with the lack of responsiveness by the
White
House to the concerns of the Armenian American community.
The ANCA’s concerns were grouped, in this letter, into three broad
categories:
unfulfilled commitments, opposition to community concerns, and failure to
prioritize Armenian issues.
The Senate and House letters, addressed to House Speaker Dennis Hastert
(R-IL)
and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), highlighted the powerful
leadership demonstrated by a great many Republicans on Armenian issues,
notably
by Armenian Caucus Co-Chairman Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) Genocide Resolution
author George Radanovich (R-CA), and Senators such as Mitch McConnell (R-KY),
John Ensign (R-NV), George Allen (R-VA), Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), and many
others. These letters included more than a dozen specific recommendations by
the ANCA about how the Congressional leadership could encourage the White
House
to improve its standing among Armenian American voters.
Neither the President nor his campaign responded to the ANCA’s appeal for
their intervention to help establish a constructive dialogue between the
Administration and the Armenian American community.
For additional information on the ANCA’s outreach to Republican leaders
concerning the Bush Administration’s record on Armenian issues, visit:
<;pressregion=anca>http://www
.anca.org/anca/pressrel.asp?prid=554&pressregion=anca

3- ANCA Backs up Endorsement by Calling for Greater Grassroots Activism

Along with its Presidential endorsement, the ANCA reminded Armenian Americans
that their ability to impact policy-level decision-making depends, first and
foremost, on the continued expansion of advocacy efforts at all levels of
government. The ANCA’s detailed Congressional endorsements, which will be
announced later this year, will represent an important element of this process
by providing Armenian American voters with the information they need to
solidify the strong support our community enjoys in Congress.
“The challenge before the Armenian American community, as in years past,
remains growing our activism and strengthening our voice in the public policy
debates and within the foreign policy community,” said Hachikian. “We call on
Armenian Americans to meet this challenge by increasing our engagement with
the
Executive Branch and providing the strongest possible support for our friends
in the US House and Senate on November 2nd and throughout the 109th Congress.”

4- The Bush/Kerry Record

The Kerry Record

During his long tenure in the US House and Senate, Senator Kerry has
consistently been a leading advocate of issues of concern to Armenian
Americans. As a US Senator, Kerry has forcefully fought for US recognition of
the Armenian Genocide, and is currently a cosponsor of the Genocide
Resolution,
S.Res.164. In 1990, Senator Kerry voted on the Senate floor for Senator Bob
Dole’s (R-KS) Genocide Resolution.
The Massachusetts Senator has been a vocal and effective champion of stronger
US-Armenia relations and has consistently backed legislative initiative to
increase aid and expand trade with Armenia. He is currently a cosponsor of
legislation, S.1557, which would grant Armenia permanent normal trade
relations
status.
Senator Kerry has spearheaded a number of initiatives to lift the Turkish and
Azerbaijani blockades. In 1991, he was the lead sponsor of legislation, which
was later enacted as Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act, restricting US
aid
to the government of Azerbaijan until its blockades of Armenia and Mountainous
Karabagh are lifted. He also worked for the adoption of the Humanitarian Aid
Corridor Act, which called for US aid to Turkey to be cut off unless Turkey
lifted its blockade of Armenia. As recently as this January, Senator Kerry
formally called on President Bush to press the visiting Prime Minister of
Turkey to lift his nation’s illegal blockade of Armenia.

The Bush Record

The full text of the Armenian American Presidential Report Card on the
Administration of George W. Bush is provided below:
Broken campaign pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide
Almost immediately after taking office, President Bush abandoned his campaign
pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide. This promise, which he made in
February of 2000 as Texas Governor, was widely distributed among Armenian
Americans prior to the hotly contested Michigan primary. It read, in part, as
follows: “The twentieth century was marred by wars of unimaginable brutality,
mass murder and genocide. History records that the Armenians were the first
people of the last century to have endured these cruelties. The Armenians were
subjected to a genocidal campaign that defies comprehension and commands all
decent people to remember and acknowledge the facts and lessons of an awful
crime in a century of bloody crimes against humanity. If elected President, I
would ensure that our nation properly recognizes the tragic suffering of the
Armenian people.”
Rather than honor this promise, the President has, in his annual April 24th
statements, used evasive and euphemistic terminology to avoid describing
Ottoman Turkey’s systematic and deliberate destruction of the Armenian people
by its proper name – the Armenian Genocide.

Opposition to the Congressional Genocide Resolution

The Bush Administration is actively blocking the adoption of the Genocide
Resolution in both the House and Senate. This legislation (S.Res.164 and
H.Res.193) specifically cites the Armenian Genocide and formally commemorates
the 15th anniversary of United States implementation of the U.N. Genocide
Convention. The Genocide Resolution is supported by a broad based coalition of
over one hundred organizations, including American Values, the NAACP, National
Council of Churches, Sons of Italy, International Campaign for Tibet, National
Council of La Raza, and the Union of Orthodox Rabbis.
As recently as July 16th of this year, the Bush Administration reiterated its
opposition to legislation recognizing the Armenian Genocide. In response the
adoption by the US House of the Schiff Amendment, which blocks Turkey from
using US aid to lobby against the Genocide Resolution, the Administration
pressed Congressional leaders to prevent the enactment of any provision
recognizing the Armenian Genocide.

Failure to condemn Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide

The Bush Administration has failed to condemn Turkey’s recent escalation of
its campaign to deny the Armenian Genocide. Notably, the Administration has
remained silent in the face of the decree issued in April of 2003 by Turkey’s
Education Minister, Huseyin Celik, requiring that all students in Turkey’s
schools be instructed in the denial of the Armenian Genocide.
The State Department’s 2003 human rights report on Turkey uses the
historically inaccurate and highly offensive phrase “alleged genocide” to
mischaracterize the Armenian Genocide. In addition, despite repeated protests,
the Bush Administration’s State Department continues to host a website on
Armenian history that fails to make even a single mention of the Genocide.
()

The Waiver of Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act

The Bush Administration, in 2001, aggressively pressured Congress into
granting the President the authority to waive Section 907, a provision of law
that bars aid to the government of Azerbaijan until it lifts its blockades of
Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh. President Bush has subsequently used this
authority to provide direct aid, including military assistance, to the
government of Azerbaijan, despite their continued violation of the provisions
of this law.
Reduction in aid to Armenia
In the face of the devastating, multi-billion dollar impact of the Turkish
and
Azerbaijani blockades on the Armenian economy, President Bush has, in each of
the past three years, proposed to Congress that humanitarian and developmental
aid to Armenia be reduced.

Abandonment of the Military Aid Parity Agreement

The Bush Administration abandoned its November 2001 agreement with Congress
and the Armenian American community to maintain even levels of military aid to
Armenia and Azerbaijan. Instead, the Administration, in its fiscal year 2005
foreign aid bill, proposes sending four times more Foreign Military Financing
to Azerbaijan ($8 million) than to Armenia ($2 million). This action tilts the
military balance in favor of Azerbaijan, rewards Azerbaijan’s increasingly
violent threats of renewed aggression, and undermines the role of the US as an
impartial mediator of the Nagorno Karabagh talks.

Mistaken Listing of Armenia as a Terrorist Country

The Bush Administration, through Attorney General John Ashcroft, sought,
unsuccessfully, in December of 2002 to place Armenia on an Immigration and
Naturalization Service watch list for terrorist countries. This obvious error
was reversed only after a nation-wide protest campaign. Neither the White
House
nor the Department of Justice has apologized for the offense caused by this
mistake.

Neglect of US-Armenia relations

While the Bush Administration has maintained a formal dialogue with
Armenia on
economic issues through the bi-annual meetings of the US-Armenia Task
Force, it
has, as a matter of substance, failed to take any meaningful action to
materially promote US-Armenia economic ties. Specifically, the Administration
has not provided leadership on legislation, spearheaded by Congressional
Republicans and currently before Congress, to grant Armenia permanent normal
trade relations (PNTR) status. Nor has the Administration initiated any steps
toward the negotiation of a Tax Treaty, Social Security Agreement, Trade and
Investment Framework Agreement, or other bilateral agreements to foster
increased US-Armenia commercial relations.
The President neither visited Armenia nor has he invited the President of
Armenia to visit the United States.

Failure to maintain a balanced policy on Nagorno Karabagh

The Bush Administration, to its credit, took an early initiative to help
resolve the Nagorno Karabagh issue in the form of the Key West summit meeting
in 2001 between Secretary of State Powell and the presidents of Armenia and
Azerbaijan. After Azerbaijan’s failure to honor its Key West commitments,
however, the Administration failed to hold Azerbaijan accountable for
unilaterally stalling the Nagorno Karabagh peace process.

Increased grants, loans and military transfers to Turkey

The Bush Administration has effectively abandoned America’s responsibility to
link aid, loans, and arms transfers to Turkey’s adherence to basic standards
for human rights and international conduct. The most notable example was
the $8
billion loan package provided to Turkey in 2003 despite Turkey’s refusal to
allow US forces to open a northern front during the war in Iraq.
Taxpayer financing of the Baku-Ceyhan bypass of Armenia
The Bush Administration is supporting American taxpayer subsidies for the
politically motivated Baku-Ceyhan pipeline route that, at the insistence of
Turkey and Azerbaijan, bypasses Armenia.

Refusal to pressure Turkey and Azerbaijan to end their blockades

The Bush Administration has not forcefully condemned the Turkish and
Azerbaijani blockades as clear violations of international law, nor,
outside of
occasional public statements, has it taken any meaningful steps to pressure
the
Turkish or Azerbaijani governments to end their illegal border closures.
Lobbying for Turkish membership in the European Union
The Bush Administration has aggressively pressured European governments to
accept Turkey into the European Union, despite Turkey’s consistent failure to
meet European conditions for membership, on issues ranging from the
blockade of
Armenia and the Armenian Genocide to the occupation of Cyprus and human
rights.
Down-grading relations with the Armenian American community
Breaking with the tradition of the last several Administrations, the Bush
White House failed to reach out in any meaningful way to our nation’s one
and a
half million citizens of Armenian heritage. While the State Department,
Pentagon and National Security Council maintained their long-standing,
policy-level dialogue with the Armenian American community leadership, the
White House itself essentially neglected Armenian Americans as a political
constituency. Perhaps the most telling example of this is that, during the
course of the past three years, despite repeated requests, the President did
not hold any community-wide meetings with the leadership of the Armenian
American community, nor did his Secretary of State or National Security
Advisor.

Armenian American appointments

To the Administration’s credit, the President appointed Joe Bogosian to an
important Deputy Assistant Secretary position at the Commerce Department, John
Jamian to a key maritime position in the Department of Transportation, and
Samuel Der-Yeghiayan as a Federal Judge in the Northern District of Illinois.

5- Armenian Democrats to Join Ethnic Diversity Celebration at Democratic
Convention

BOSTON–The Armenian American Democratic Leadership Council (AADLC) and
Armenian American Democrats from across the country will participate in a
celebration of ethnic community activism hosted by the National Democratic
Ethnic Leadership Council (NDELC) at next week’s 2004 Democratic National
Convention in Boston. The reception is part of a series of programs, meetings
and events spotlighting the key role of ethnic communities in this election
season and throughout the American political process.
Grassroots leaders representing a diverse groups of ethnic American
communities, including Albanians, Arabs, German, Greeks, Italians, Irish,
Polish, Serbian among many others, will be joining together at the
reception on
Wednesday, July 28th, at The Harp, across from the Fleet Center. Participation
in the “NDELC’s Celebration and Appreciation of Ethnic Democrats” is by
invitation only and has received enthusiastic responses from Convention
delegates, Members of Congress and community leaders who understand the
pivotal
role that ethnic voters are expected to play in electoral swing states this
November. The reception is one of several daytime and evening functions
organized by ethnic communities throughout the Convention week.
“The Armenian American Democratic Leadership Council is proud to partner with
the NDELC as it brings together ethnic community leaders from across the
country in support of the Democratic Party agenda,” stated NDELC Board Member
and AADLC activist Sushan Demirjian. “We look forward to mobilizing the
Armenian American community, with its active presence in key swing states
across the country, to play a decisive role in support of the Kerry/Edwards
ticket and pro-Armenian democratic candidates on November 2nd.”
The National Democratic Ethnic Leadership Council (NDELC) is an ethnic
constituency based organization encompassing the community of immigrants and
descendants of immigrants who primarily trace their heritage from Europe and
the Mediterranean. During the Clinton presidential campaign in 1992,
democratic
activists began a deliberate initiative to redefine the Democratic Party’s
relationship with Ethnic Americans. Over the past twelve years, the party has
made great strides to ensure that Ethnic Democrats continue to be players in
American politics. The NDELC, with its diverse membership including
representatives of the Armenian American Democratic Leadership Council,
plays a
pivotal role in nurturing that relationship.

6- Ethnic Democrats Caucus Meeting, Workshop at Democratic National Convention

The 2004 Democratic Convention will also feature a first-ever Caucus Meeting
and Workshop bringing together ethnic leaders committed to a Kerry-Edwards
victory in November. Community representatives will participate in briefings
and a full agenda of activities on Wednesday, July 28th from 10:00am to
12:00pm
at the Sheraton Hotel.
“Ethnic Americans have always been a base in the Democratic party. The values
of family, hard work, faith and opportunity are the values that they bring to
the Democratic Party and contribute to building a stronger America,” explained
John Kerry for President Director of Ethnic Outreach George Kivork, who is
helping to coordinate the function.
The AADLC works with the Democratic National Committee to foster support
within the Armenian American community for the Democratic Party and national
Democratic office holders, while promoting the election of Armenian American
Democrats to political office and encouraging participation by Armenian
American Democrats at all levels of the public policy process.

7- Russia Cuts Off Georgia’s Gas Supplies

TBILISI (AFP)–Russia has begun to cut off gas supplies to the Georgian
capital
of Tbilisi, amid escalating tensions with its neighbor over the pro-Russia
separatist region of South Ossetia.
Tbilisi officials confirmed on Thursday that Russia’s Gazprom energy giant
began to limit supplies on Wednesday and that four of the city’s regions would
be left without gas by Thursday evening.
The Tbilgaz official said Gazprom was demanding payments from the
impoverished
republic that dated back half a year.
“Tbilisi needs 370,000 cubic meters of gas and now we will only be getting
200,000 cubic meters,” Tbilgaz’s Leval Pertselatse said by telephone.
Georgia is exclusively reliant on Russia for gas supplies and has for years
struggled to pay its debts.
But the latest delivery cut came during the current rift between Moscow and
Tbilisi in regards to the South Ossetian conflict.
Gazproma Russian state-controlled companyhas previously cut supplies to
Ukraine and Belarus on Russia’s western border during diplomatic disputes with
the two former Soviet republics.
The move comes at a time when both Russia and Georgia are widening their
military presence in South Ossetia, and only a day after Tbilisi threatened to
break a 1992 peacekeeping agreement. The agreement was signed after Georgia
lost to South Ossetian forces, which had received military assistance from
Moscow. The region then declared its desire to become part of Russia.
Georgia’s border with South Ossetia is now patrolled by Russian, Georgian and
South Ossetian troops. All sides claim that the others are sending additional
supplies and reinforcements in breach of the agreement.
Earlier this week, Georgia accused Russia of sending 40 armored personnel
carriers and tanks destined for the South Ossetian forces. Russia denied the
accusation and said the supplies were intended for vehicle repairs.

8- Bush Administration’s Shameful Attempt at Politicizing The Law

Seto Boyadjian, Esq.

The Bush Administration’s persistent courtship of Turkey during recent months
give the impression that President Bush and the Republican leadership are
treating the Republic of Turkey as the 51st state of the Union. In the
political markets of the Middle East, the Transcaucasus and Europe, our
President and his envoys–discarding all traditional norms of international
diplomacy–have embarked on special missions in defense of Turkish interests.
What’s worse, they are employing similar conduct in our country as well.
Against the will of the American people, and sometimes even at the cost of
discarding the law of the land, they are using the governmental apparatus in
defense of purely Turkish objectives.
This pro-Turkish campaign manifested a dangerous aspect last week, when the
State Department and the Congressional Republican leadership had the temerity
to question a legislative initiative proposing the implementation of law. At
issue here is an amendment to the fiscal year 2005 Foreign Aid Bill HR 4818
that was introduced on the House floor by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). The
Representatives passed the amendment by a voice vote and added it to HR 4818.
Soon after, the House passed the entire Foreign Aid Bill by a vote of 365 to
41, with 27 non-voting.
The Schiff Amendment provides that funds made available under the Foreign Aid
Bill cannot be used by the Government of Turkey in contravention of Section
1913 of Title 18 of the United States Code (18 USC Sec 1913), for purposes of
lobbying against H Res 193 that reaffirms support for the Genocide
Convention.
In essence, the amendment is a reiteration of a law of the land–namely 18
USC
Sec. 1913, that makes it a crime and prohibits lobbying with appropriated
moneys. It provides that no part of the money appropriated by Congress
shall be
used to influence in any manner a Member of Congress, to favor or oppose, by
vote or otherwise, any legislation or appropriation by Congress. This law
applies to all involved in lobbying and to all circumstances involving
lobbying. Thus, the Schiff Amendment is simply an expression of this law that
should also be applicable to all moneys appropriated for Turkey.
Instead of respecting the law, the Republican leadership of the legislative
body entrusted with the enactment of our laws, showed its fiercest reaction to
the Schiff Amendment.
A few hours after Foreign Aid Bill passed, House Speaker Dennis Hastert
(R-IL), Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) and Majority whip Roy Blunt (R-MO)
posted a joint statement on the front-page of Speaker Hastert’s website,
declaring they are “strongly opposed” to the Schiff Amendment. The statement
also avers that the Bush Administration has expressed its “strong
opposition to
the amendment,” as well. (A few hours earlier, however, the very same Messers.
DeLay and Blunt, instead of opposing HR 4818, voted favorably for its passage;
as for Mr. Hastert, he was apparently absent at the time of the vote).
In their joint statement, the Republican leadership trio also reaffirmed they
“have no intention of scheduling H Res 193. . . during the remainder of this
Congress.” As for their position, they base their opposition to the Schiff
Amendment on two points: first, that for decades Turkey has been a reliable
ally of the United States; second, that the amendment is meaningless, because
current US law already prohibits foreign governments from using American
foreign aid for lobbying purposes.
The next day, on July 16, the State Department joined the Bush
Administration’s anti-amendment onslaught. State Department spokesperson
Richard Boucher announced in a press statement that the “Administration
strongly opposes this amendment which seeks to restrict US assistance to
Turkey.” Indicating that Turkey is “our key NATO ally, and Armenia, our close
friend,” Mr. Boucher stated that the amendment is “detrimental to the
cause” of
“reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia.” He further underscored, “Our goal
is to bolster cooperation between these two countries rather than to separate
them.”
However, we should not be misled by the Administration’s double-talk. No one
is naive enough to believe that the Schiff Amendment will disrupt the State
Department’s illusory concept of cooperation between Turkey and Armenia. No
one
is ignorant enough to accept that Turkey is really a reliable ally. The
objective of the Bush Administration is blatantly transparent. It is merely
attempting to politicize a legislative enactment that is based on the
fundamental laws of the United States. The arguments forwarded by the State
Department and the House Republican leadership have no bearing on Title 18,
Section 1913, of the US Code. The Schiff Amendment does not question the Bush
Administration’s policy in defense of Turkey. Nor does it attempt to curtail
appropriated funds earmarked for Turkey. In fact, Turkey is entitled and
should
receive all the funds made available under the Act. In compliance with US law,
however, Turkey cannot use such funds in our country for lobbying purposes.
And
that’s the law.
Beyond the legal attributes of the Schiff Amendment, the Bush
Administration’s
arguments and positions raise serious questions involving our national
concepts
of legality and moral values.
First, over the past months, the damaging effects of our experience with the
Turkish Government cast serious doubts about Turkey’s reliability as an ally.
Last year, Turkey refused to allow US forces to open a northern front during
the war in Iraq; as a result, our armed forces suffered added casualties. More
often than not, the use of US bases in Turkey is denied or restricted. Nearly
two thirds of Turkey’s population holds an unfavorable view of Americans.
Second, the Schiff Amendment cannot be viewed as meaningless merely because a
current US law already exists for that purpose. Such a simplistic
argument–coming from the Speaker of the legislative branch of our
government–is neither acceptable nor tolerable. According to adopted
procedures, a legislative enactment often includes provisions of procedural
and
substantive laws in order to ensure the acts proper and lawful implementation.
Third, the Schiff Amendment does not seek to restrict US assistance to
Turkey.
It merely ensures that US funds made available to Turkey are used in a manner
prescribed by US laws. As such, the amendment cannot and should not disrupt
State Department efforts at bolstering relations between Turkey and Armenia.
No matter how hard the Bush Administration tries to paint Turkey as a
reliable
ally, the stubborn facts will always refute such illusory claims. At best,
Turkey may be viewed as a precarious ally. And precarious allies are
necessarily unreliable partners.
No matter how resourceful the Bush Administration may be at its attempts to
politicize the law, 18 USC Sec. 1913 will not cease being the law of the land.
And in our country no one can be above the law–not even President George W.
Bush or his protégé Turkey.

9- A Dark Day for Truth And A Darker Day for Republicans

By Skeptik Sinikian

The other day I was driving down Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks when I saw
a bumper sticker on a car that said “Friends Don’t Let Friends Vote
Republican.” That bumper sticker pretty much sums up how I feel this week
after
reading the joint statement from Speaker, Majority Leader and Whip of the
House
of Representatives on the Schiff Amendment regarding the Genocide. I’m too
angry and tired to do a recap of the last week’s events regarding the Genocide
resolution. I suggest that all the oblivious cave dwellers reading this column
spend a few seconds on the Asbarez website and catch up to the rest of us.
Don’t worry. We won’t go anywhere. We’ll wait for you.
OK, now that you’re back, we can move on. Wasn’t that one of the worst
statements made by any elected official pertaining to Armenians? After I read
it, I had that emotionally wrecked and numb look on my face like Michael
Corleone when he found out that Fredo had set up their brother Sonnie to be
killed in the second Godfather movie. I just held the printout of the email my
friend gave me and stared at it for what seemed like a full hour. The words
were so harsh, I wasn’t able to distinguish whether this malarkey was a dream
or reality. Never in my life did I think that the Republican leadership of
Congress would so blatantly slap Armenian-Americans in the face. They didn’t
just insult us as Americans, but also spat on us as voters–and in a year when
their fearless leader in the White House can use ever last vote that his
friends can muster up. Don’t the Republicans realize that at the rate
President
Bush is going, he’ll need a relative as Governor in every state, if he’s going
to pull-off a victory this November? He needs every vote he can get.
I let the statement fall from my hands, stared at my friend, and coldly said,
“There is no way in hell that I will vote for any Republican this
November.” My
friend, who is a Republican but can’t explain why, looked at me and responded.
“You know this is all just a political game. The only reason they [Democrats]
introduced this amendment is to put the Republicans in a tough spot with
Turkey, especially in an election year!”
I don’t know what was more sad. His explanation, or the fact that he actually
believed it. Here’s what upsets me and should upset any Armenian American who
is a registered Republican. In Speaker Hastert’s statement there is the
obligatory mention of refusing to raise the genocide as an issue, out of fear
of offending Turkey as an important NATO ally. That would make some sense only
if Turkey actually WAS an ally instead of a backstabbing, barbaric, fair
weather friend who’s idea of loyalty means extorting 32 billion dollars from
American tax payers. That’s almost twice what we spend every year fighting the
war on drugs in this country.
So what if this amendment was a Democratic, Republican, Green, Pink or
whatever kind of political game. Good for whoever decided to play it. I think
Armenians should push for more in election years, otherwise what’s the whole
point of voting? And more important, the genocide issue shouldn’t be a
political football in anyone’s hands. It’s a political no-brainer–especially
since Turkey has been screwing with us time and again over the course of the
last three years. I challenge Hastert and DeLay to name me one positive,
proactive thing that Turkey has done since 9/11. JUST ONE!
What Speaker Hastert, Majority Leader DeLay, and Majority Whip Blunt
should do
is stop for just one second, take a real close look at Turkey, and decide
whether they want to give any more money or respect to this country.
Even the Israeli have beef with Turkey now. The strategic partnership has
become strained since Turkey refused to sell water to Israel, and began
publicly criticizing the construction of the wall around the Palestinian
territories. The only reason Turkey is even criticizing Israel over its
treatment of its Palestinian population is because its: a) trying hard not to
further offend any number of Muslim nations that already hate Turkey, and b)
trying to curry favor with Europe which it is trying desperately to join.
I mean c’mon people, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist or an Ivy League
educated psychiatrist to see the game Turkey is playing here.
I’m tired of our members of Congress and the Republican leadership playing
hardball with everyone around the globe and at home, except for Turkey. Does
Turkey have some sort of mental problem we should all be aware of and treat it
differently because it’s special? I say forget Turkey and forget the
Republicans. From here on out, the gloves need to come off and the showdown is
November 2nd.
If there are any Armenians American Republicans left out there with a
shred of
dignity and self respect, they would put their trust funds where their mouths
are (be sure to remove the silver spoon first) and call up these clowns who
call themselves Leaders and give them a piece of their mind.
In a letter written in 1891, the immortal Mark Twain described Members of
Congress as “the smallest minds and the selfishest souls and the cowardliest
hearts that God makes.” After reading the joint statement from the Republican
Leadership in the House, I’m not sure even God wants to take credit for this
group of clowns.
I just wrote an entire column and I still can’t believe what I read. Where
have you gone Senator Bob Dole? The Republican Party needs your moral clarity,
poise, and honesty now more than ever. We need our Republican friends who
believe in what’s right to stand up. But until they do folks, never let them
vote Republican again, until we have made out point loud and clear.
Visit the ANCA website if you’re mad as hell and want to share your thoughts
with our Congressional Leaders.
Skeptik Sinikian refuses to divulge his party registration but assures his
readers that this week’s diatribe was in no way, shape, or form motivated by
his personal, non-Armenian political views. He encourages everyone to write to
Congress and protest, and copy their letters to him at
[email protected]

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