Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Joseph Wilson fights the Machine!

Former diplomat Joseph Wilson used to tell reporters he felt certain how his obituary would read. It went: "Joseph C. Wilson IV, who was the last American diplomat to meet with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, died . . . "

But "it seems to change," Wilson said yesterday, smiling across his desk in his Washington office. He has kept mentally revising the obituary to keep up with the political maelstrom over Iraq policy and White House leaks that is swirling around him.

A recent version began: "Joseph C. Wilson IV, the Bush I administration political appointee who did the most damage to the Bush II administration . . . "

The current version goes: "Joseph C. Wilson IV, the husband of the spy the White House outed, . . . "

Wilson, 53, is also now known as the man the CIA sent to Niger in February 2002 to investigate rumors that Hussein was trying to buy uranium there -- and who came back with denials from Niger officials. As President Bush repeated the allegation -- most prominently in the so-called 16 words in the State of the Union address Jan. 28 -- Wilson said, he grew increasingly perplexed. And by July, he was annoyed enough to say publicly that U.S. officials had exaggerated the public case for invading Iraq.

At the time, he said he feared that the White House would retaliate. It allegedly did when administration officials called reporters to identify Wilson's wife as a clandestine CIA operative. ...

But last summer, in the run-up to the Iraq war, he became a persistent critic of the current President Bush's policies, appearing on TV and writing opinion pieces that argued against a rush to war. "I felt it was important to correct the record," he said. Most recently, he has accused the White House -- loudly -- of blowing his wife's CIA cover in retaliation.

Wilson makes no secret of being a left-leaning Democrat and said yesterday he intends to endorse Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) for president. Wilson, a former ambassador to Gabon who served as an Africa expert in the second Clinton administration, has long been friendly with leading Democrats. ...


"An outrageous way for reporters to assess candidate support." Sounds reasonable to me...

Talking Points - By, Terry M. Neal

One of the prevailing views of former Vermont governor Howard Dean is that his support is soft among minority voters --a constituency that any Democratic candidate must inspire to win the nomination.

This subject has been broached by a number of journalists and described as a potential weakness that could derail his march to the nomination. While there appears to be some truth to that point of view, the whole picture -- like so many things -- might be a bit more complicated.

I broached this subject with Dean over breakfast at the Dubliner restaurant in Washington on Saturday. I asked him why Dean supporters have been portrayed as homogenous.

"It's not true," he said.

Where does the perception come from then?

"It comes from the reporters who go to the rallies."

Well, that doesn't seem to be an outrageous way for reporters to assess candidate support. There have been few polls that have attempted to gauge minority support for the Democratic candidates. So reporting on the sort of crowds a candidate draws appears to be fair.

Breaking news from Associated Press:

WASHINGTON - Gary Hart, the former Colorado senator who sought the presidency twice in the 1980s, announced Tuesday that he is backing Democrat John Kerry's White House bid.

Hart toyed with running for president again this year but decided against it in May.

Hart's first presidential campaign was in 1984, the same year Kerry was elected senator from Massachusetts. Kerry and Hart served together for two years until Hart left the Senate.

Active in Democratic politics for more than three decades, Hart served as George McGovern's campaign manager in the 1972 Democratic nominee's unsuccessful bid for the presidency. Hart was elected to the Senate in 1974.

During his 15 years out of politics, Hart has been busy practicing law, writing more than a dozen books — both fiction and nonfiction — and offering his expertise on the military and national security.

He was co-chairman of the U.S. Commission on National Security, which warned several months before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that the United States faced a clear threat of foreign attack on U.S. soil that would kill thousands.
Thomas Oliphant is on the money when it comes to the Medicare Issue. "Medicare is an especially big enchilada."

Past haunts Dean on Medicare issue
The Boston Globe - By Thomas Oliphant, 9/30/2003

Had Dick Gephardt been more politically correct last week, he would have rebuked Howard Dean for standing with Senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico on proposed Medicare cutbacks in the 1990s or with then-Representative John Kasich of Ohio. To those bosses of the newly Republican budget committee in Congress, he could have added the GOP revolutionaries running the House Ways and Means Committee -- Bill Archer of Texas and Bill Thomas of California.

Newt Gingrich, however, was a lightning rod for disbelief -- a distraction, really. Dean expressed wounded shock and horror that anyone would link him to the former speaker, who in turn tried to link slashes in eligibility and other restrictions on Medicare beneficiaries with a whopping tax cut for high-income Americans.

The truth, however, is that as a conservative Democratic governor, Dean really did do what Gephardt says he did, and his shifting attempts to wiggle off that hook have made his conduct an issue in a Democratic race that grows more serious by the week.

Ever since Gephardt -- followed by John Kerry -- raised the Medicare issue nearly a month ago, Dean has expressed wounded horror at the guilt by association, deplored the tactics of "Washington politicians," and declared Gephardt's criticisms "flat-out false."

Actually, they are flat-out true. That becomes even more troublesome now that Dean has come up with still another explanation for his Medicare behavior -- Bill Clinton himself. Dean's inaccuracy here is also instructive.

I have been watching this subplot to the Dean phenomenon for two months, ever since Dennis Kucinich nicked him for having supported an increase in Social Security's eligibility age -- a criticism that Dean also initially denied and then flipped on. It has happened on Social Security, on trade, on middle-class taxes, on budget-balancing policies.

Medicare is an especially big enchilada. For Gephardt to raise it is of special significance in Iowa, where he and Dean are in a dogfight in a place that has the fourth-highest concentration of retired people in the country. Dean will plead guilty to having supported a slowdown in Medicare's rate of spending growth (from 10 to 7 percent annually) -- an innocuous-sounding, almost accountant-like budget position. In fact, the proposal he supported would have restricted eligibility, called on some retired people to pay more, and used force more than incentives to require participation in managed care.

Gephardt himself might be guilty of excessive force in using Gingrich's name the way he has, but the Medicare proposal was one-half of the centerpiece of the former speaker's infamous Contract With America (the other was the tax cut), and the fight over it led to the weeks-long shutdown of the government at perhaps the most climactic domestic policy moment of the Clinton presidency. Dean's support was especially important to the Republicans as the House prepared to pass its version of the proposal in 1995, but he never pulled it back as the White House-Congress war escalated.

In the last few days, sensing the political fallout, Dean has come up with a fresh explanation: He was doing something that Clinton supported and actually signed into law. This is even more misleading, an apples and oranges mixture that makes what happened two years later sound like what happened in 1995-96.

Nothing could be further from the truth. What Clinton signed in 1997 was a law that finally produced a tax cut for ordinary families (introducing the child tax credit, subsequent increases in which Dean now says he wants repealed), and containing spending cuts to pay for it. It is often referred to as the Balanced Budget Act, but in fact it was the booming economy that produced the huge surplus at the end of the '90s. This law, more accurately, produced a tax cut that was responsibly funded.

The spending cuts included a large bite out of Medicare but not the same kind of bite the Republicans fought for with Dean's help in '95. This time around, instead of attacking the beneficiaries (which Clinton opposed), it reduced Medicare payments to providers like hospitals, nursing homes, and physicians. By bipartisan consensus it went too far, especially in its harmful effect on large teaching hospitals, and much of the money has since been restored.

Dean now says his willingness to go after middle-class entitlements reflected the deficit crisis of the mid-'90s, but this is also a misleading position. The fact is that the deficit reduction program enacted in Clinton's first year had already put the country on the right road. What the Republicans were pushing in '95 was revolution.

Moreover, the reemergence of fiscal crisis has made Dean's views in the mid-'90s relevant: He has said Medicare should again be on the table if he is president.

Bottom line: Gephardt and Kerry have a legitimate point, and Dean will have trouble expanding his remarkable base to the elderly and to voters of moderate means unless he does a more forthright job of facing up to his past.

Monday, September 29, 2003

Paying the price in Iraq
Boston Globe Editorial, September 29, 2003

THE BUSH administration's failures to foresee and prepare for postwar developments in Iraq have made the task of rehabilitating Iraq much harder and more expensive than it should have been. Nevertheless, it would be foolish for Congress to compound the administration's blunders and misjudgments by skimping on the funds needed to help Iraqis revive their blasted country. There is good reason to castigate the administration for failing to knit together a broad international coalition to share the costs of rebuilding Iraq. The first President Bush, assisted by his Secretary of State James Baker, built such a coalition in 1990 to drive Saddam Hussein's forces out of Kuwait. So successful was their old-fashioned exercise in diplomacy that Saudi Arabia, Japan, and other rich states paid that war.

Members of Congress are justified in pointing to the $87 billion President Bush has requested and complaining that the taxpayers are being asked to pay the bill for his feckless unilateralism. Executive branch ideologues act as though the internationalism of this president's father was the quaint fashion of another era and not an indispensable attribute of successful statecraft.

Congressional critics of the $87 billion request for Iraq and Afghanistan have generally accepted the need for funds to support US troops. Their criticism is directed at the $20.3 billion portion of the request that is intended primarily to pay for security, basic services, and infrastructure in Iraq.

The critics -- some Republicans as well as Democrats -- are right to question the domestic implications of spending $20 billion dollars for electricity, public works, and public safety in Iraq at a time when the US electrical grid needs upgrading, roads and bridges in this country are falling into disrepair, and local police are being laid off because state budgets are in dire straits.

No less justified are the critics' complaints about who is and who is not being asked to sacrifice. The price for Iraq's rehabilitation is hard to bear because of a $500 billion budget deficit swollen by the tax cuts Bush has lavished mostly on the rich. So there is a sound pedagogical point in a bill Senators John Kerry and Joe Biden introduced: They want Iraq's reconstruction to be financed with a rollback of Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy. A strong 56 percent of respondents to a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll favored this method of paying for efforts to secure and rebuild Iraq.

Expensive as it is becoming, Iraq's passage from fascistic police state toward pluralist democracy should be sustained -- preferably by the international community, and if not, by the United States. The right way to correct Bush's blunders is politically, not by betraying the oft-betrayed people of Iraq.
Endangered in the Arctic
Boston Globe Editorial, September 29, 2003

BY THE END of this week, Republican leaders in Congress hope to have agreement on an energy bill that both houses can vote on. The latest draft includes approval for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. If the bill comes to the Senate with that provision, opponents of destroying one of the nation's last great wilderness areas should filibuster if necessary to block it. Since the rest of the bill is likely to have far more favors for the oil, gas, and coal industries than for renewables or energy efficiency, senators opposed to the drilling in Alaska should not lose sleep if their filibustering results in no legislation at all. Backers of drilling in the refuge hope that the bill's inclusion of generous terms for corn-based ethanol fuel might keep farm state opponents of Arctic drilling from joining a filibuster. They should reject this payoff.

As Senator John Kerry pointed out in Thursday's debate among the Democratic presidential candidates, opening the refuge in Alaska would do little to make the nation less dependent on foreign oil. No petroleum would flow for 10 years at the earliest. If the refuge were tapped, it would supply a grand total of six months of the country's oil needs while spoiling habitat for many threatened species.

One clue as to why Republicans in Congress fight so hard for drilling in the Arctic despite the modest contribution it could make to energy independence came from the House majority leader, Tom DeLay, last week. According to House GOP leaders quoted in Roll Call, a Capitol Hill daily newspaper, DeLay told them in a closed-door meeting that approval of drilling in the refuge would set an important precedent for energy exploration in other sensitive areas. This should set off alarm bells for congressional representatives of the many coastal areas -- including New England's Georges Bank -- and pristine wilderness areas in the West that energy prospectors have their eyes on.

The United States has 3 percent of the world's oil reserves but uses 25 percent of all oil consumed. It will never significantly reduce its dependence on foreign oil until it reduces consumption. The bill that is finally approved by the conference committee is almost certain to have few provisions to achieve this, either by mandating higher auto efficiency standards or by offering the auto industry subsidies for producing cars that use much less fuel, such as hybrids with both gas and electric motors.

An energy bill worth enacting would advance proposals for improving the nation's electrical grid, promote the use of renewable energy sources, and scale back consumption. A bill that does not do these things while giving a green light to Arctic refuge drilling deserves to be killed.
Yesterday in Boston, John Kerry took to the ice to raise money for the Leary Firefighters Foundation which provides direct support to the Worcester, MA and New York City firefighters. Three cheers for John Kerry for taking time out of his presidential campaign for this worthy event!

The foundation was begun in 2000, by comedian Dennis Leary after a warehouse blaze claimed the lives of Worcester firefighters James F. Lyons, Joseph T. McGuirk, Timothy P. Jackson, Thomas E. Spencer, Paul A. Brotherton and Jeremiah M. Lucey, Leary's cousin.

The foundation's goals expanded following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center that claimed the lives of 343 New York City firefighters, including Leary's friend, Capt. Paddy Brown. The Leary Firefighters Foundation was the second-quickest charity to issue checks in the aftermath, he said.

"Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) (who played in last year's game) is the only politician I know who has said what we've been saying all along: In the wake of 9-11, firefighters shouldn't be treated like civil servants anymore," Leary said. "They're not like sanitation workers and teachers, and I mean no offense to either of those groups, but if a bomb went off in this building right now, the first responders would be the fire department. Firefighters need to be separated and treated almost as a branch of the military and funded federally. That's what I believe."

Read more here....
Bob Hanafin of Veterans for Kerry has recently sent out an appeal to join in this online action:

Join me in support of our military retirees to tell Congress and the White House to eliminate the Disabled Veterans Tax and to grant full Concurrent Receipt, as introduced in H.R. 303.

Veterans need our help. Nearly 120,000 American service members are serving today in the heat and peril of Iraq. When they are discharged from duty, whether this month, next year, or ten years from now, this country will have a duty to these men and women extending far beyond their time in uniform. Like veterans from wars before, they will look to the Department of Veterans Affairs for services, compensation, and healthcare. But the truth is that these benefits are being denied to veterans. Every day in America, veterans must fight for the dollars and health care that were promised to them - and earned by them - on distant shores. This is wrong. But it’s all too true.

Read more and sign the petition...
Jim Witkins, Sierra Club Member and founder of Independents For Kerry has posted a letter on Independents For Kerry that I strongly urge everyone to send to the Sierra Club.

In his letter Jim says, "With the 2004 Presidential Election quickly approaching, we have the means to elect that President. There is only one candidate running who fully shares our vision. Senator John Kerry. I'm sure many club members are familiar with his long time support of the environment. He has a 96% lifetime approval rating with the League of Conservation Voters. He's led the fight to stop the drilling in ANWR. He was an activist during the first Earth Day celebration over 20 years ago. Simply put, John Kerry shares our values. He is one of us."

Please follow Jim's lead and download his letter to send out to the Sierra Club in your own name!

Read A New Apollo Project , by Carl Pope...

Friday, September 26, 2003

As a small business owner, John Kerry's constant support of Small Business and Women in Business is one of the key issues that attracted my support for John Kerry.

Three cheers for John Kerry whose legislation was a major part of this Reauthorization Bill!

Kerry Announces Passage of SBA Reauthorization Bill; Legislation Includes Several Kerry Proposals to Help Small Businesses

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Senator John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), Ranking Member of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today announced the unanimous Senate passage of the Small Business Administration 50th Anniversary Reauthorization Act of 2003 (S.1375).

Kerry co-sponsored the legislation, which reauthorizes the programs of the Small Business Administration through fiscal year 2006, with Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), Chair of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. The bill will provide U.S. small businesses more than $108 billion for loan guarantees, venture capital investments, and business counseling and training over three years.

"The SBA and its many successful initiatives are tremendously important to small businesses, and with the passage of this legislation we have demonstrated our intentions to help America's small businesses weather this economy," said Kerry. "It is particularly important in this slumping economy that we do everything we can to foster the creation and growth of small businesses, which are our country's best job creators."

The legislation incorporates several small business assistance bills and initiatives introduced by Kerry previously this year, including:

- the Child Care Lending Pilot Act of 2003 (S. 822), creating a pilot program extending the SBA's 504 plant and equipment loan program to include non-profit child care providers;

- the Small Business Federal Contractor Safeguard Act (S. 633), implementing a two-tiered approach to close the loopholes that have allowed agencies to bundle contracts, and limit federal contracting opportunities for small businesses;

- the Microloan Program Improvement Act of 2001 (S. 174), designed to make the SBA Microloan Program more flexible to meet credit needs, more accessible to micro-entrepreneurs across the nation, and more streamlined for lenders to make loans and provide management assistance;

- the Native American Small Business Development Act (S. 1126), making statutory the Office of Native American Affairs at SBA, expanding on the previously established Tribal Business Information Center (TBIC) program at SBA and establishing two pilot grant programs to assist Native American communities; and

- the Small Business Drought Relief Act of 2003 (S. 318), directing the SBA to extend disaster loans to non-farm related small businesses affected by drought in declared drought disaster areas.

In addition, the legislation secures the Women's Business Centers by making permanent the Women's Business Centers Sustainability Pilot established by Kerry in 1999.
We must give Christine Iverson of RNC some credit here for her statement: "If John Kerry calls for one administration official to resign, Howard Dean has to call for two."

KERRY, A SENATOR from Massachusetts, first said Thursday that Rumsfeld should step down, saying he proceeded in Iraq “in an arrogant, inappropriate way that has frankly put America at jeopardy.”

Dean, the former governor of Vermont, joined the call Friday and added Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz to the list of those who should quit. Dean announced that he was starting a national petition drive on the Internet to demonstrate support for their resignations.

Christine Iverson, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, said Dean and Kerry were “playing a game of political copycat. If John Kerry calls for one administration official to resign, Howard Dean has to call for two.”

Kerry Calls for Rumsfeld's Resignation

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld defended the pace of Iraq's reconstruction Thursday, saying it is going faster in some cases than rebuilding in Germany and Japan after World War II.

"We are on track," he told about 500 people attending the Dwight D. Eisenhower National Security Conference, an annual gathering of national security, foreign affairs and military experts.

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said on television Thursday night that Rumsfeld should resign over Iraq. In answer to a question from CNN's Paula Zahn, the Massachusetts senator accused Rumsfeld of rushing to war without proper planning. "Our military is weaker today," Kerry said. "They're overextended."

From the Paula Zahn Interview:

ZAHN: Do you think Donald Rumsfeld should be asked to resign?

KERRY: Yes. Absolutely. He did not do the planning. He rushed this to war. He has not listened to the military personnel. Our military is weaker today. They're overextended. He and Mr. Wolfowitz proceeded with false assumptions. And in their arrogance they didn't listen to General Shinseki. They kicked him out of the way. They stomped on his reputation. And he was right. It did take more troops.

These people, I think, have proceeded in an arrogant, inappropriate way that has frankly put America at jeopardy, put a young Americans -- I mean, this is not -- you know, this is -- these are young Americans who are now in greater jeopardy in Iraq than they had to be, and it looks more serious for the longterm than it had to be.

ZAHN: Secretary Rumsfeld called for a greater humility in an op- ed piece today. Do you see any scenario under which...

KERRY: Well they didn't show it yesterday. They didn't show it at the U.N. Where is the humility if you're not prepared to say to people some of the things you need to bring them to the table? If they had -- when that statue fell in Baghdad, that was the ripest moment for us to say we need help now in managing the peace. And other countries would have flocked to our side providing we're willing to share some of the power.

But right now America is treating Iraq as a prize. It's a country, and it deserves to be treated within the community of nations through the United Nations. That is the only way ultimately for the United States to get rid of this sense of American occupation and get the target off our troops, and get this administration's hand out of the taxpayers' pocket, so we share expenses.

John Kerry's fundraising makes the news! The graphic for this fundraising tool is posted in a thread below with some of the text. The outrage by the public is loud and clear, these T-shirts are repulsive!

But, Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman insists, "Democratic presidential candidates are so desperate they'll say anything to get elected." My reply to that, Mr. Mehlman, is that Republicans will resort to every low and disgusting tactic in the book to push their extremist right-wing views!

Please Donate Now
to put an end to "their disgraceful and divisive politics"!

Kerry pitch faults GOP in sale of graphic T-shirts
By Sharon Theimer, Associated Press, 9/26/2003

WASHINGTON -- Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry is appealing for donations in an e-mail accusing the GOP of allowing the sale of racist and antigay T-shirts at a convention of college Republicans this summer.

The e-mail yesterday, also posted on Kerry's campaign website, includes a photo of the shirts.

One says "No Muslims No Terrorism." Another has a photo of black filmmaker Spike Lee and the message "Bring back the blacklist." A third shows a photo of lesbian television personality Rosie O'Donnell and her partner with the line "Mr. (?) and Mrs. (?) Rosie O'Donnell." Another says "The Clinton Legacy" and shows the World Trade Center after a plane crashed into it.

Kerry's e-mail said the T-shirts, from a company called Ocents, were displayed and sold at the College Republicans National Convention in Washington in July.

"The divisive slogans and graphic pictures are not to be laughed off as campaign rhetoric -- they are racist, antigay, and violent," Kerry wrote. "I support the First Amendment, and I am using my right to free speech to protest their politics of division. But our protest must come in actions not words. Click here to contribute now."

Kerry told prospective donors he's "taken the high road in this campaign" and needs their support "to send George Bush and his right-wing friends back to Texas."

Kerry wrote that donations were especially important before the third fund-raising quarter ends Sept. 30.

David Joyslin, spokesman for the College Republican National Committee, said his group had nothing to do with the T-shirts, and was unfamiliar with the company that sold them.

"We sold over 50 tables to vendors. We didn't monitor every single product of every single vendor," Joyslin said. "Obviously our organization wouldn't endorse any statements of the sort that I saw on the Internet."

Bush campaign spokesman Scott Stanzel declined to comment.

The T-shirts were spotted at the GOP convention by a Kerry supporter who was staying in the same hotel, Kerry spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

Kerry is among several presidential hopefuls making last-minute e-mail pitches for contributions before the current fund-raising period ends next week.

Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman sent an e-mail Wednesday night citing the third-quarter deadline and telling potential donors next year's election could be as close as 2000's. "Democratic presidential candidates are so desperate they'll say anything to get elected," Mehlman wrote. "Special interest groups have committed to raising over $400 million in soft money specifically to defeat President Bush."
Dean said his rivals are portraying him inaccurately.

"You know, to listen to Senator Lieberman, Senator Kerry, Representative Gephardt, I'm anti-Israel, I'm anti-trade, I'm anti-Medicare and I'm anti-Social Security," he said. "I wonder how I ended up in the Democratic Party."

That's a great question, Dr. Dean, how did you end up in the Democratic Party?We'd all like an answer to that one at this point!

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Democrats Turning Into Free Trade Critics
The shift in thinking of Dean, Kerry, Edwards reflects the economic slump and union power.
September 25, 2003 - By Ronald Brownstein, LA Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Retreating from a central pillar of Bill Clinton's economic strategy, almost all of the leading Democratic presidential candidates are expressing growing skepticism about free trade.

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and Sens. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts and John Edwards of North Carolina have moved away from past positions and joined Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri, a longtime critic of free trade, in resisting efforts to lower trade barriers with Mexico and other nations in South America and Asia.

Among the top-tier candidates, only Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut continues to consistently push the Clinton emphasis on forging trade agreements.

The shift reflects the decline in the economy, the rise in the trade deficit and the growing influence of organized labor in a primary race that appears to be tilting the Democratic Party back toward the left on many fronts.

"In the 1990s, the trade deficit was masked by a generally strong economy, though even then we had a job loss in manufacturing," said Bill Samuel, legislative director for the AFL-CIO. "Now there is a growing consensus that trade has a downside," he said, particularly when U.S. trading partners do not have to meet American labor and environmental standards.

The Democrats' movement away from free trade, which is likely to be on vivid display when the candidates meet today in New York for a debate on economic issues, could have important implications for the primary and general elections.

In the primary, the hawkish notes from Dean, Kerry and Edwards are diminishing an advantage that Gephardt expected among blue-collar workers and labor unions — and prompting him to accuse the others of opportunism.

For the general election, the turn toward economic nationalism seems guaranteed to heighten the split between organized labor, which has welcomed the change in emphasis, and party centrists, who worry that a candidate who appears sympathetic to protectionism cannot win in November 2004.

"No Democrat since the Civil War has succeeded with a negative approach on trade," said Ed Gresser, director of the trade policy project at the Progressive Policy Institute, a centrist Democratic think tank.

The move away from free trade also increases the odds of a sharp contrast between the Democratic nominee and President Bush next year. Though Bush has also bent toward protectionist pressures — most notably with steel tariffs — he is generally pursuing an agenda of lowering trade barriers.

The administration, which has already signed free-trade deals with Chile and Singapore, is pushing to complete a free-trade agreement with Central America, perhaps as soon as this year.

That would be the first step toward completing a project begun by Clinton to expand the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada into a free-trade zone extending throughout the Western Hemisphere. The administration is pushing to complete such an agreement by 2005.

Among Democrats, the trade debate is drawing on long-standing divisions and new pressures: The trade deficit, which exceeded $418 billion in 2002, is now roughly six times larger than during the first year of Clinton's presidency. That has aggravated the divisions in the party evident throughout Clinton's two terms, when many congressional Democrats close to organized labor resisted his pursuit of new trade deals.

Convinced that more trade meant more jobs, Clinton led a bruising fight in 1993 to secure congressional approval for NAFTA. Later he won another congressional vote providing China with permanent favorable access to the U.S. market.

In Congress, Gephardt led the fight against Clinton on free trade with Mexico and China and helped defeat his push in his second term for authority to negotiate trade deals with limited congressional input, a procedure then known as "fast track."

But generally, the other leading Democrats in the 2004 race supported Clinton. Lieberman and Kerry voted for NAFTA, and Dean also endorsed it. (Edwards was not yet in Congress.)

In 2000, Lieberman, Kerry and Edwards voted to give China permanent favorable access to the U.S. market. Dean also endorsed the move, writing to Clinton: "A negative vote would have terrible consequences."

The candidates divided along largely similar lines in 2002 when Bush finally won congressional approval for fast-track negotiating authority.

Kerry and Lieberman voted twice to provide Bush expedited authority; Edwards supported the authority initially but voted against final passage of the bill because it lacked protections for the North Carolina textile industry. Gephardt strenuously opposed the effort. Dean, who appeared sympathetic to fast track under Clinton, told campaign audiences that he would not provide Bush with the authority.

Dean, Kerry and Edwards have recently joined Gephardt in declaring that they would oppose Bush's effort to expand NAFTA into South America without much stronger guarantees of worker rights and environmental protection.

Longshot hopeful Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio has taken the most extreme position: He has pledged to repeal NAFTA on his first day as president.

Of the leading candidates, Dean has changed course most sharply. He has said he has grown more skeptical as he has looked at the issue from a national rather than just a Vermont perspective. His rivals, especially Gephardt, see political convenience in the change.

Whatever the cause, the effect has been dramatic. After endorsing NAFTA a decade ago, Dean told an AFL-CIO forum in Iowa this summer: "NAFTA is a disaster in our industrial heartland."

Dean insisted that he was willing to walk away not only from future trade agreements, but also from American participation in NAFTA and the World Trade Organization, unless other countries raise their labor and environmental laws to American standards.

Kerry hasn't shifted direction as severely. In a speech in Detroit on Monday, he criticized some of Dean's tough rhetoric and insisted that the U.S. cannot prosper while building "a fence high enough to keep out foreign competition."

But Kerry has moved closer to organized labor on its top trade priority: requiring trading partners, on threat of trading penalties, to toughen their environmental and labor standards. Edwards, who has been more consistently hawkish on trade through his career than Dean or Kerry, has given organized labor similar pledges.

The newest entry in the Democratic field, retired Gen. Wesley Clark, hasn't expressed his views on trade in as much detail. But in an economic speech Wednesday, Clark echoed a recent Kerry proposal and promised a review of existing trade deals to ensure that foreign countries are providing fair access for American products.

But Clark did not join foes like Dean and Gephardt in calling for renegotiation of NAFTA. "He will be much more in the Clinton mode of free trade," predicted one Clark advisor.

The shift in the tenor of the trade debate is provoking a cross-fire among Democrats.

Gephardt is questioning whether voters can trust his rivals' conversion to the tough-on-trade camp. "It's easy to say now, 'I would never be for that kind of treaty,' " Gephardt said last week. "It's harder when you are in the eye of the storm."

From the other direction, the tough trade talk is beginning to attract a backlash from Democratic free-traders.

When the Democrats met for their first debate in Albuquerque this month, Lieberman said Dean's demand that the U.S. trade only with nations that adopt American labor and environmental standards would produce a "Dean depression." (Dean then backed off a step, saying he would trade with countries that met international, if not American, standards.)

"We cannot," Lieberman insisted, "put a wall around America."

But right now, Lieberman's voice doesn't seem nearly as loud as those of the Democrats who are calling for more bricks on the wall.
"The candidate who stood out was Senator John Kerry"

Kerry managed some memorable moments
By Scott Lehigh, The Boston Globe - 9/26/03

Yesterday's Democratic presidential debate was a chance for viewers to sample the latest flavor of the month in the field.

Which may not be such good news for that self-same flavor, for what in the abstract has been billed as General Democratic Delight seemed on stage a lot more like generic vanilla.

Now, granted, Wesley Clark has been in the race for less than 10 days, so perhaps just avoiding a big mistake counts as success.

Still, in a discussion that focused on the economy, Clark had little noteworthy to add.

Instead, the candidate who stood out was Senator John Kerry.

With 10 candidates in a rhetorical face-off, it's hard to turn in a memorable moment. Kerry had several. He drew an important distinction between himself and front-running Howard Dean, asserting that the former Vermont governor's plan to repeal all of President Bush's tax cuts would raise rates on millions of middle-class 0earners -- and retard the very consumer spending that has sustained what recovery we've seen.

In critiquing US Representative Richard Gephardt's health care program, Kerry raised a red flag about its cost -- almost $250 billion -- contrasting it with own more modest plan to contain costs by taking the most expensive cases out of the insurance pool. Dean, who found himself under attack for a good deal of the evening, displayed some winning humor but emerged from the night marked up some. His best moment may have come when he contrasted his record as a governor and a doer with the legislative talkers who make up most of the field.

Senator John Edwards also had a pretty good afternoon, using his boyhood family as an example of the kinds of people who would be hurt if all the Bush tax cuts are reversed.

Gephardt played hard for union support, particularly on trade, but early in the night he got himself into an angry, arm-waving mode that seemed more than a little contrived. So did his over-the-top attack on Dean for past critical comments about Medicare.

The tax difference Kerry outlined marks a basic cleavage among the serious candidates, with Kerry, Clark, Edwards, and Senator Joe Lieberman supporting only a partial repeal of the Bush tax cuts and Dean and Gephardt favoring entire repeal.

Look for that split to play an ever more important role as the campaign continues.

John Kerry came on strong at the debate tonight with a more aggressive style:

Sen. John F. Kerry, scrambling to thwart rival Howard Dean's momentum, showed a new, more aggressive style, repeatedly attacking the former Vermont governor for advocating a repeal of the Bush tax cuts and a retreat from trade. Kerry, who wants to retain Bush's tax cuts for middle-class families, said Dean is "absolutely wrong" on taxes and "pandering to people" by telling them he would "shut the door" to foreign trade.

In his bi-weekly USA Today Column from Wednesday September 24, Walter Shapiro takes a look at the John Kerry campaign.

Mr. Shapiro recognizes that Kerry is not all about the flash that has gotten some other candidates extensive media attention. This column nails down one of the things I like about John Kerry. Not interested in changing his gameplan to suit the whims of others, it’s “steady as we go” for Kerry. While everyone seems interested in searching for “the next new thing,” John Kerry prefers to highlight his foreign policy experience and military background.

One small criticism in the article, however. Near the end of the article, Shapiro states that Kerry “appears to have lost some ground in recent weeks.” Every poll I’ve observed in recent weeks shows Kerry gaining ground.....steadily.
John Kerry is angry "beyond words".


"These t-shirts were displayed and offered for sale at the College Republicans National Convention in Washington. The divisive slogans and graphic pictures are not to be laughed off as campaign rhetoric - they are racist, anti-gay and violent. I support the First Amendment and I am using my right to free speech to protest these products."

"But our protest must come in actions not words."

"The Republican machine has questioned my patriotism before. They know I fight back. They'll attack me again because they know I'm the Democrat best able to beat George Bush. Let's show them that their disgraceful and divisive politics have consequences. This set of four t-shirts was selling at this Republican convention for $60. Today will you show them that while they have division and hatred to fuel their fundraising, we have grassroots power -- will you join me in rejecting their politics by writing a check today to my campaign for $50?"

"Let's show these guys what American politics can be again."

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Statement Of Senator John Kerry, Regarding: Nomination Hearing of Governor Michael Leavitt to Head the EPA
Wednesday, September 24, 2003

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator John Kerry today issued the following statement regarding the nomination hearing for Governor Michael Leavitt for Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency:

“From the air we breathe to the water we drink, the environment is worse off under the Bush Administration. I have a number of outstanding issues with the EPA, but there are two, in particular, that I believe warrant immediate attention. I will place a hold on Governor Leavitt’s nomination until I receive a sufficient response as to how this Administration will address my concerns over these two issues.

“First, in July 2003, the EPA announced that it would be delaying cleanup of ten Superfund sites. One of the sites is in my home state – Atlas Tack in Fairhaven, Massachusetts. The Atlas Tack Superfund site contains cyanide, heavy metals, pesticides, and PCBs. Some 7,000 people live within a one mile of the site. Yet, for the second year in a row, the Bush Administration has provided exactly zero dollars for cleanup. This is only as outrageous as it is emblematic of the environmental priorities of the Bush Administration.

“People in communities like Fairhaven, who live with the Atlas Tack Superfund site in their backyard, should not be told that they’re just going to have to live with the cyanide and PCBs because for the second year in a row EPA just can’t find the monetary resources to help them. And they shouldn’t be stuck with an Administration that can’t do a better job protecting our nation’s public health and the health of the environment from toxic waste. They deserve better and this Administration must articulate how they are going to do right by the people of Fairhaven.

“Second, Senator Clinton has requested information surrounding revelations that the White House edited EPA public announcements regarding the air pollution and air quality near Ground Zero following the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Her requests have gone unanswered. This is a serious issue that has consequences not only for citizens of New York, but also for the quality of our environment and the trust in our government.

“The unfortunate truth is that it doesn’t matter who heads the EPA under this Administration, because they will be nothing more than another pawn for the corporate polluters who control the White House’s agenda. Governor Leavitt may eventually be approved by the Senate, but I cannot in good conscience allow that process to even move forward without getting the answers that the people of Fairhaven, Massachusetts, New York City, and communities across the nation deserve.”
Firefighters' Union to Endorse Kerry
By Leigh Strope, AP Labor Writer

Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry is the first Democrat to get a national union endorsement other than Dick Gephardt, who now has 14.

The International Association of Fire Fighters planned to endorse Kerry on Wednesday after a vote of union leaders.

The union, which reported 214,000 dues-paying members last year, likes Kerry's record as a decorated Vietnam War veteran; his political, legal and legislative experience; his sense of humor; and his personal interests in athletics and Harley-Davidsons, union President Harold Schaitberger said.

"He is a proven leader," Schaitberger said in prepared remarks Wednesday. "He knows how to navigate Washington. He learned the hard way in Vietnam, in the courtroom and in the halls of the U.S. Senate."

Late entrant Wesley Clark has four-star credentials, but lacks political and legislative experience, said Schaitberger, who spent a couple of hours at breakfast with the retired general several weeks ago, along with other union presidents.

"You've got to know how to navigate and operate in Washington, D.C., to be a good president and to be an effective executive," he said. "I question Wesley Clark's experience, and John Kerry clearly has that experience."

Gephardt is a longtime ally of organized labor, yet some public and service sector unions are hesitant to embrace his second run for the White House.

The firefighters union wanted to support a candidate who can beat President Bush next year. "Our view is that Dick Gephardt is not the candidate who has that best chance," Schaitberger said.
Yesterday John Kerry said, "I think that Democrats are going to look for somebody that has a record of accomplishment on issues that matter to them".

Issues matter, John! We're not looking to elect a president on image! Too many issues stand in the forefront of this election. John Kerry's experience on all the issues overshadows the rest of the field, including newcomer to the race, Wesley Clark.

Senator decries Clark's votes for GOP
By Patrick Healy, Boston Globe Staff, 9/24/2003

Senator John F. Kerry took a swipe at the Democratic Party credentials of Wesley K. Clark yesterday because the retired general voted for Republican presidents in the past.

Kerry, highlighting a new poll that showed he and Clark each would beat Bush in theoretical matchups, drew an implicit contrast with his Democratic rival by noting his own longtime party membership and by making a vague reference to his past political battles with Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, both of whom Clark supported for president.

"I think that Democrats are going to look for somebody that has a record of accomplishment on issues that matter to them," said Kerry, who has been in the Senate since 1984. "I think it matters that I've been there fighting for education reform. I think it matters I've been fighting for health care and to protect the environment, and that I have fought against the very people that General Clark and others have supported. I think that's important to Democrats."

Clark, who was NATO commander under President Clinton, has acknowledged he "probably" voted for Richard Nixon in 1972 and supported Ronald Reagan.

Kerry first came to national attention in 1971 as a Vietnam veteran opposed to a war that Nixon was then prosecuting. As a freshman senator in the 1980s, Kerry was one of the first Democrats to link the Reagan administration with covert aid to the contras in Nicaragua. Mark Fabiani, a Clark spokesman, said he did not think Clark's earlier support for Republicans would hurt him with Democratic primary voters."Wes Clark is prochoice, pro-affirmative action, pro-health care, antiwar, " Fabiani said. "If that's Republican, we could use more of them in this country."

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

John Kerry scores big today, naming former N.H. Governor Jeanne Shaheen as national chairwoman of his campaign...

Former New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen was named national chairwoman of Democrat John Kerry's presidential campaign Tuesday.


Shaheen, the most sought-after Democrat in the state, had steered clear of the presidential race to focus on teaching. Her endorsement of the Massachusetts senator was no surprise given that her husband, Bill Shaheen, is running Kerry's New Hampshire campaign.

But the timing was unexpected since Shaheen had agreed to moderate four candidate forums next month. The announcement also came shortly before Kerry's top rival in New Hampshire, Howard Dean, was speaking in Boston — Kerry's turf. Dean maintains a double-digit lead over Kerry in state polls.

Shaheen shattered the glass ceiling in 1996 when she was elected New Hampshire's first female governor and its first Democrat in 16 years. She made it onto Al Gore's short list of potential White House running mates in 2000. And last year, she came close to being the first Democrat elected to the Senate from New Hampshire in nearly three decades.

Shaheen, 56, was born in St. Charles, Mo., and grew up in a Republican family. She and her husband settled in New Hampshire in 1973, and three years later she worked on Jimmy Carter's winning campaign for president.

In 1984, she helped Colorado Sen. Gary Hart score a primary upset of front-runner Walter Mondale.

From 1976 to 1988, Shaheen juggled raising three daughters with running political campaigns, both presidential and at the state level. By 1990, she decided it was time to run her own, for the state Senate.

From: AP News, by Holly Ramer.

Monday, September 22, 2003

Great News for Kerry! You are the Hammer!

Note to Bush: You've messed up too many people's lives already; we're getting ready to send your sorry tush back to Texas!

Both Kerry and Clark are ahead of Bush in the CNN polls!

Poll: Bush down, Clark up

"President" (my quotes here and below) virtually tied with five Democratic challengers
Monday, September 22, 2003 Posted: 5:32 PM EDT (2132 GMT)

Of the 877 registered voters included in the poll, 49 percent said they would vote for Clark, compared with 46 percent for Bush. Each of the four other major Democratic candidates came within three points of Clark's showing in a hypothetical head-to-head race with the president, the poll found.

Kerry narrowly outpaced the "president", 48-percent to 47-percent. Bush held a slim lead over Dean (49 to 46 percent), Gephardt (48 to 46 percent) and Lieberman (48 to 47 percent). ...

Read the Whole Story here!

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Finally the press seems to be getting it! Could this be the tide turning?
"This president is so arrogant they didn't want to listen to people" who advised early on to seek support from the international community before launching a war in Iraq"

Notice how it is finally pointed out that Kerry had it right from the start.

Full article-

KEENE, N.H. (AP) - A call by European leaders for a significant U.N. role in Iraq is a good sign, but one too long delayed by the arrogance of the Bush administration, Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry said Saturday.

He also said he doesn't foresee a speedy transfer of power to the Iraqis.

"This president is so arrogant they didn't want to listen to people" who advised early on to seek support from the international community before launching a war in Iraq, Kerry said after campaigning at Keene State College.

"We deserve a president who gets it right immediately," the Massachusetts senator said.

Earlier in the day, the leaders of Germany, France and Britain called for a significant U.N. role in Iraq and a quick transfer of power to the Iraqis. They did not agree on a timetable for handing over authority.

Asked what date he would set for the transfer of power, Kerry said a timetable could be devised only once the United Nations was involved.

"You have to get the multi-international force. You have to get sufficient troops. You've got to get the agreement of other countries to do this," he said. "Once you've done that then I think it's possible to sit down and figure out what the date is.

"Obviously, I want it to be as soon as possible, but it's not a month. It's clearly months. It might even be a year, but it can be done with far less loss of life and confrontation," he said.

Kerry, one of 10 Democrats seeking the nomination, wouldn't comment on the latest candidate to join the race - retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark.

"That's all politics. I'm focused on issues," he said.

Health care was among the issues Kerry concentrated on during a question-and-answer session with college students and supporters. One woman asked him how he'd get his plan through a Republican-controlled Congress.

"One of the things you really need to look at is who's shown the ability to build across- the-aisle coalitions," he said. "There's a virtue in having someone who knows what buttons to press and what levers to pull to get things done."

Kerry's plan includes expanding government programs for the children and the poor and allowing others to buy into the health insurance plan that covers the president and Congress. He also proposes having the government pick up 75 percent of the cost of the most catastrophic health care cases, which would lower premiums for everyone else.

The latest poll of likely voters in the New Hampshire primary shows Kerry in second place, 10 percentage points behind former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean.
Clark flip-flops on Iraq war vote

From he ‘probably’ would have approved to ‘major blunder’


IOWA CITY, Iowa, Sept. 20 — Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark reversed an earlier opinion that he likely would have voted for war in Iraq, telling a cheering college-town crowd the invasion was “a major blunder” he never would have supported...

Clark is too wishy-washy on the issues, especially ones as important as war in Iraq.


Friday, September 19, 2003


Apparantly, Wesley Clark is having an identity crisis. First he was against the war. This morning Pam and I both posted articles indicated he would have voted in favor of the war. Now, he’s back to saying he would not have voted for the war.

What gives with this guy?

It went the same way with the upcoming debate on September 25. First he would participate, then he had a scheduling conflict. Then he was back on again. (Hope he will have his domestic agenda all worked out by then!)

It’s amazing this guy has any credibility left. And his campaign is less than one week old!
Some thougths from one of John Kerry's latest endorsers:

An Ill Wind From Factory Farms
By Robert F. Kennedy Jr.and Eric Schaeffer

Congress will hold hearings soon on the nomination of Gov. Michael Leavitt of Utah to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. He's bound to be asked about his efforts to eliminate protections for wilderness areas in his state and his close ties to the mining and timber industries. But he should also be asked about another issue that has received far less attention: the threat to the environment posed by the huge factory farms that dominate meat production in the United States today.

These farms emit an enormous amount of pollutants that taint air, land and water. Their noxious gases, studies suggest, contribute to respiratory problems, gastrointestinal diseases, eye infections, depression and other ailments. Department of Agriculture research has shown that antibiotic-resistant bacteria are carried daily across property lines from corporate hog farms into homes and small farms. The thousands of animals crowded together on each giant feedlot produce waste that pollutes waterways and contaminates drinking water.

For decades, the agribusiness lobby in Washington has invoked the small family farmer in its campaign to expand subsidies and fend off regulation, but it's mainly big producers that benefit. In 1998, the top four producers marketed 57 percent of all hogs in the country, and large corporations have cornered the market for chickens, cattle and dairy products as well. Much of this production is handled through contract farms whose corporate owners dictate how animals will be raised, housed and fed while disclaiming any environmental responsibility — and living far away from the consequences.

These operations pollute the air with the gases released from huge barns and waste lagoons and by processes that "air out" manure before it is applied to fields. Under the Clinton administration, the E.P.A. began ordering farms to measure emissions and apply for Clean Air Act permits just as factories do. Early results showed that Buckeye Egg Farm, an egg-laying operation in Ohio, released hundreds of tons of particulate matter every year.

But the Bush administration ordered such enforcement investigations stopped two years ago. The Department of Agriculture studies on bacteria were suppressed at industry's request, prompting the resignation of the study's author, James Zahn. Earlier proposals to make corporate owners responsible for wastewater discharges at contract farms were shelved.

Now the E.P.A. is considering a request from the pig and poultry conglomerates to be shielded from Clean Air Act enforcement for a few more years while industry begins to measure its own emissions. The amnesty agreement would not require a corporate farm to clean up air pollution even if the agency found that pollution was at dangerously high levels.

And no agreement should be signed that does not require companies to clean up their operations when their emissions are too high. A coalition of environmental groups and farm families have petitioned the E.P.A. to end its moratorium on enforcement, and exercise its authority to order air monitoring at some of the most notorious factory farms.

We hope the E.P.A. will remember its mission to protect public health and act on this simple request. Governor Leavitt should know something about this problem. Nine workers were hospitalized in 1998 after they were overcome by fumes working at a giant hog operation in Utah, and a more recent state study found high levels of respiratory illness among nearby residents. But Utah has made it much harder for people to sue such operations and for officials to regulate them. Perhaps Congress should ask Governor Leavitt how long the victims of pollution from factory farming will have to wait before they can breathe clean air again.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is president of Waterkeeper Alliance. Eric Schaeffer, director of the Environmental Protection Agency's office of regulatory enforcement from 1997 to 2002, is director of the Environmental Integrity Project.

Nicholas gives Bush too much credit, there is nothing fair about Bush -

Killing Them Softly
The New York Times - By Nicholas D. Kristof

In fairness to President Bush, he presumably meant well when he cut off funds for some of the world's most vulnerable women.

The Bush administration announced a few weeks ago that it was halting payments to the Reproductive Health for Refugees Consortium because, it said, one of the seven charities in the consortium was linked to abortions in China. So I decided to do what the White House didn't — come out and see these programs we are slashing.

That's where I met Rose Wanjera, a 26-year-old woman with one small child and another due about November (she isn't sure because she hasn't had any prenatal care). This month her husband was mauled to death by wild dogs, and she developed an infection that threatens her health and the unborn baby's.

She turned to a clinic affiliated with Marie Stopes International, where a doctor treated her infection, palpated her bulging stomach and enrolled her in a safe-motherhood program. Unfortunately, this is the very aid group that the White House is campaigning against for supposedly being involved in abortions in China. Even before the latest cuts for aid to refugees, the Kenyan program of Marie Stopes International had already had to close two clinics and lay off 80 doctors and nurses because the Bush administration had applied its "gag rule" (no money to groups that mention abortions) and cut off grants for it.

So because of White House maneuvering, girls and women in Africa's shantytowns are losing programs that offer them prenatal checkups, well-baby care, childbirth and family-planning assistance, and, above all, help fighting AIDS.

Consider Deka Hamid, a 25-year-old Somali refugee who brought her 5-month-old son to a Marie Stopes clinic because he is too weak to hold his head up. Doctors offered some treatment, but there may be no cure because the health problem arose from a flawed delivery by an untrained Somali midwife.

Complications of pregnancy and childbirth kill a quarter-million African women each year, and those deaths are what the refugee consortium is trying to prevent. I visited five Marie Stopes clinics in Kenya, spoke to the patients and front-line doctors, and found them to be a lifeline for destitute girls and women who have few alternatives.

At one clinic, doctors fought to save the unborn baby of Gladys Wambui, an impoverished 27-year-old woman who was close to her due date — but whose fetus had abruptly stopped moving. Ultimately, she lost the baby.

It was horribly discouraging, as work here in the slums often is. The doctors and nurses in these clinics are fighting AIDS, rape, sexually transmitted diseases and genital mutilation of girls, and instead of being hailed as heroes, they're denigrated and stripped of funds by White House ideologues who don't know what an African slum is.

Because of the cutoff of U.S. funds to the refugee consortium, the head of Marie Stopes in Kenya, Cyprian Awiti, says he is having to drop a planned outreach program to help Somali and Rwandan refugees.

"Bush does not realize how many people are going to suffer," Mr. Awiti said. "If you don't give money to the consortium, does he know how many deaths he will cause?"

U.S. officials acknowledge that the refugee consortium (which also includes CARE and the International Rescue Committee) does great work. But they said this was outweighed by Marie Stopes's activity in China.

It's true that Marie Stopes International operates in China — providing contraceptives that reduce the number of abortions there. If Mr. Bush were trying to do something about coercive family planning in China by denouncing such abuses, I'd applaud him. But instead he's launching his administration on an ideological war against groups like the U.N. Population Fund and Marie Stopes. In fact, these groups are engaging China in just the way the White House recommends most of the time.

When the topic of human rights abuses in China is raised, Mr. Bush usually argues, wisely, that it would be wrong to impose sanctions that punish the Chinese people. So it seems odd that when the issue is Chinese family-planning abuses, Mr. Bush responds by punishing African women.

Mr. Bush probably sees his policy in terms of abortion or sex, or as a matter of placating his political base. But here in the shantytowns of Africa, the policy calculation seems simpler: women and girls will die.

I read a piece that was featured on the Dean blog today, this particular part stuck with me.

“The Dean campaign in recent weeks has come close to being overwhelmed by the demands of its own process, as the Internet, fund-raising and memberships drives, visibility days, Meetup numbers and massive rallies shift attention from what a Dean presidency would actually do for America to the technical mechanisms of winning. Even though Dean's most ardent supporters talk about his message, the impression that the campaign neglects developing clear, detailed positions on the issues is a common complaint on the Dean blog, and one at times reinforced by Dean himself. “

"Most of my support is not on the issues, which is why I've never worried about where I am on the political spectrum," Dean told reporters on his late August Sleepless Summer Tour. "It isn't so much what I say, it's how I say it”

I have to respectfully disagree with Dr. Dean on this, I think it is what you say and not how you say it. This is not about just winning an election, it is about who is the most qualified to be President of the United States. In this time of such historical importance, this time of critical crossroads to be chosen, who will our country choose to lead us? Will we still look for the guy who talks the most like we do? Will we seek out a person who deals in black and white, good and evil? Should we go for the person that really seems to just say what is on their mind?

NO, please not again. We are not a Fraternity trying to pick the pledge that will be the most fun. Much of the country did not seem to mind that Bush did not have a command of the issues, because he seemed like a nice guy. Now we all know how dangerous the “nice guy” can be. Believe me I'm not comparing Dean to Bush, not even close. I am just making the point that we must move into serious mode, to deal with this very serious day. The time has come to pick our President based on what he can do and will do in office.

As Democrats we owe it to ourselves to pick the person who will make the best President for every American, even those we disagree with. We can not allow ourselves to pick our nominee based on the Democratic Primary and who has the most exciting campaign, or who has the best line. Maybe in another time, but not now. We need the person who will step into office and start to clean up Bush’s mess, on the first day.

Dr. Dean's own words say to us that he is not supported based on the issues. John Kerry’s support is mostly grounded in the issues. It is not how he says it that is important, it is what he says and what he has done for his country that should really matter to us all.

For the full article.

Match up: John Kerry vs. Wesley Clark

When retired Gen. Wesley Clark announced his bid for the White House on Wednesday, speculation intensified about just what Clark entering the race would do to Senator John Kerry’s campaign. The conventional wisdom being that Clark weakens one of Kerry’s principal themes, that being his record as a Vietnam War hero.

The military issue is certainly important to this election in a post-9/11 world. Foreign policy and homeland security are brought to the forefront in voter’s minds. As both Clark and Kerry have this experience, I think that scores one for both of them over the rest of the field of candidates.

But let’s look further: Kristin Roberts reports that, "the retired general has yet to lay out an economic or domestic agenda and declined to do so on Thursday. But supporters said his military background was what made him an attractive alternative to other Democrats in the field, and to Bush." In a Washington Post article, Jim VandeHei reports that Clark admits to having few policy ideas to offer voters right now.

Score one for Kerry.

Clark’s criticism of the way the Bush administration has handled the war in Iraq is another aspect of his campaign that is attracting attention. This, coming from an experienced military man without being "saddled" for having to vote on the congressional resolution, purports to cause a problem for the Kerry campaign. But hold on a minute.

Clark says he “probably” would have voted for the resolution. (See Pam’s posting below) In the above referenced WP article, Clark states, “… I was against the war as it emerged because there was no reason to start it when we did. We could have waited.” Sounds a lot like something another candidate has said all along.

Score another one for Kerry.

The bottom line is that John Kerry is the whole package: a United States Senator with almost two decades of a proven record for intelligently dealing with domestic and foreign policy issues, and a Vietnam War hero who served his country and understands the sacrifice our military men and women endure. He will be able to handle all of the issues that our country faces in this most crucial time. He will make an excellent President of the United States.

If you agree or disagree with me, please feel free to comment!
Clark would have voted for the War...

General Clark said he saw his position on the war as closer to that of members of Congress who supported the resolution —Representative Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri and Senators Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, John Kerry of Massachusetts and John Edwards of North Carolina — than that of Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor who has been the leading antiwar candidate in the race.

Firefighters Union Will Throw Support to Kerry, Officials Say
The New York Times - By Steven Greenhouse - September 19, 2003

The International Association of Fire Fighters will endorse Senator John Kerry for president next week, union officials said yesterday, making it the first union to endorse a Democratic presidential candidate other than Representative Richard A. Gephardt.

Harold Schaitberger, the firefighters' president, declined to discuss his union's plans, but labor leaders who have talked with him said the union would back Mr. Kerry because its leaders thought the senator was the most electable Democrat...

Labor leaders said Mr. Schaitberger had questioned Mr. Gephardt's electability and planned to campaign all-out for Mr. Kerry. In two weeks, these labor leaders said, Mr. Schaitberger, whose union has 260,000 members and is the largest for firefighters, plans to appear with Mr. Kerry in New Hampshire, the first primary state, alongside hundreds of firefighters...

Read the full article here...

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Kennedy calls case for war a ‘fraud’

BOSTON, Sept. 18 — The case for going to war against Iraq was a fraud “made up in Texas” to give Republicans a political boost, Sen. Edward Kennedy said Thursday.

IN AN INTERVIEW with The Associated Press, Kennedy also said the Bush administration has failed to account for nearly half of the $4 billion the war is costing each month. He said he believes much of the unaccounted-for money is being used to bribe foreign leaders to send in troops.

He called the Bush administration’s current Iraq policy “adrift.”

The Massachusetts Democrat expressed doubts about how serious a threat Saddam Hussein posed to the United States in its battle against terrorism. He said administration officials relied on “distortion, misrepresentation, a selection of intelligence” to justify their case for war.

“There was no imminent threat. This was made up in Texas, announced in January to the Republican leadership that war was going to take place and was going to be good politically. This whole thing was a fraud,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy said a recent report by the Congressional Budget Office showed that only about $2.5 billion of the $4 billion being spent monthly on the war can be accounted for by the Bush administration.

“My belief is this money is being shuffled all around to these political leaders in all parts of the world, bribing them to send in troops,” he said.

Of the $87 billion in new money requested by President Bush for the war, Kennedy said the administration should be required to report back to the Congress to account for the spending.

“We want to support our troops because they didn’t make the decision to go there ... but I don’t think it should be open-ended. We ought to have a benchmark where the administration has to come back and give us a report,” he added.

Kennedy said the focus on Iraq has drawn the nation’s attention away from more direct threats, including al-Qaida, instability in Afghanistan or the nuclear ambitions of North Korea.

“I think all of those pose a threat to the security of the people of Massachusetts much more than the threat from Iraq,” Kennedy said. “Terror has been put on the sidelines for the last 12 months.”
Commentary: Dean, Gephardt abandoning Bill Clinton’s economic legacy
September 17, 2003 - The Manchester Union-Leader - by, Senator John Kerry

TWELVE YEARS ago, Gov. Bill Clinton announced his candidacy for President with a pledge to “fight for the forgotten middle class.” He called for a tax cut for middle class families, cutting the deficit in half in four years, and restoring investment in jobs, the skills of our workers, and economic growth.

Clinton economics worked — nearly 40 million hard-working families got a tax cut, we created 23 million new jobs and witnessed record high family incomes and the fastest real wage growth in more than 30 years.

With George W. Bush in the White House, the middle class has been forgotten all over again. More than three million jobs lost, retirement and college savings gone in a flash, investment in skills and training plummeting. In the last years the cost of the average home for families with children has grown 70 times faster than average incomes.

In November of 2004, Democrats need to offer America’s middle class a clear choice: jobs or no jobs, making health care more affordable or continuing skyrocketing costs, a return to fiscal discipline or more fiscal insanity, tax relief for middle class families or tax loopholes for corporate special interests.

George W. Bush stands in the way — but so does a debate within our party.

Before all of America votes, we Democrats are going to have to make our own choice: are we going to imitate George W. Bush in forgetting the middle class or are we going to be the party that fights for the middle class? Will we turn our back on the progress of the Clinton years or will we follow his lead in assuring middle class voters that Democrats will defend their interests and honor their values?

That’s why I am so concerned that some of my fellow Democratic candidates for President, most prominently former Gov. Howard Dean and U.S. Rep. Dick Gephardt, have adopted policies in the course of this campaign that — in effect — turn their back on both the Clinton economic legacy and the very middle class families the Democratic Party has historically defended.

Read more....
John Kerry Endorsed by Robert F. Kennedy JR. for Lifelong Leadership on the Environment

September 18, 2003

New York-

Calling John Kerry’s environmental agenda “bold and visionary,” Robert F. Kennedy Jr. endorsed John Kerry for President today at an event in New York City. Kerry also announced his call for an investigation into whether environmental health was compromised by White House interference on air quality issues following the September 11th tragedy.

“I am proud to endorse one of America’s great environmental leaders, John Kerry, for President of the United States,” said Robert F Kennedy, Jr. “And I hope that every American who cares about the environment will unite behind John Kerry. He is the candidate with the best environmental record. He is the candidate with the best ability to beat George Bush. And he will be a President who will give us the environmental leadership we so clearly need.”

Kennedy, who led the fight to protect New York City’s water supply, has a long and accomplished career as a resolute defender of the environment. Mr. Kennedy currently serves in a number of environmental organizations. He is the Chief Prosecuting Attorney for Riverkeeper, an Attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, and President of the Waterkeeper Alliance. At Pace University School of Law, he is a Clinical Professor and Supervisor at the Environmental Litigation Clinic in White Plains, New York. Earlier in his career, Kennedy served as Assistant District Attorney in New York City.

“Bobby Kennedy is an environmental hero, and I am humbled to have his support for my campaign,” said Kerry. “Bobby is someone who hasn’t just talked about preserving our environment but gone out and done it, and we are all fortunate to have such a dedicated public servant fighting every day for America’s future.”

Kerry also called for an immediate investigation in both Congress and the Department of Justice into whether the White House deliberately altered EPA findings concerning the quality of the air in New York City following the September 11th attacks.

“A week after the attacks on September 11th, the head of the EPA went before the nation to say the air around Ground Zero was safe to breathe,” said John Kerry. “Now we are learning that was far from the whole truth. Political appointees in the White House edited the EPA findings and changed the conclusions for reasons that have nothing to do with real science. Firefighters and construction workers and parents of school children all relied on these Bush Administration reports. They thought they were getting an assurance of safety – instead they got an environmental cover-up. Americans deserve a safe environment – and they deserve an Administration that tells the truth.”

Kennedy joins other prominent New Yorkers who have endorsed Kerry such as Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, Congressman Gregory Meeks and Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields in endorsing Kerry.

Two Kennedy's are better than One!
I think that one of the top issues that puts John Kerry far above the rest of the field of Democratic candidates is his solid environmental record. There is no guessing game as to how committed he is and more importantly his plans go beyond protection of our environment and reach to job creation and enhanced National Security. I am posting the following from www.johnkerry.com and I ask all Kerry supporters to arm themselves with this information and to go out and spread the word. This issue touches everyone.

Make America More Secure by Reducing Dependence on Foreign Oil, Says Kerry
Plan Would Create 500,000 Jobs, Protect Environment
June 13, 2003

Cedar Rapids, IA

Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry today unveiled a plan to increase America's national security by ending our dependence on foreign oil within 10 years.

Kerry unveiled his plan at VFW Post 788 in Cedar Rapids. "Our national security is at stake and we have to act today, not wait for decades while new crises threaten or strike," said Kerry. "Setting a national goal of ending our reliance on Middle East oil within this next decade is critical to the long-term national security of the United States. No foreign government can embargo clean, domestic, renewable sources of energy -- and no terrorist can seize control of them."

"Instead of indefinitely sending that money to the Mideast, we should launch an energy strategy to invest in the Midwest and in the rest of America, generating new jobs and new technologies here at home."

The plan's highlights include:

Reducing dependence on foreign oil through new Energy Security Trust Fund. The Fund would use oil and gas royalty revenues to invest in technologies that reduce our dependence on foreign oil

Increasing fuel efficiency and speeding transition to renewable fuels for transportation.

Increasing the use of renewable fuels to produce 20% of our electricity by 2020 and creating 500,000 new jobs.

Making our government, our homes and our communities more energy efficient.

Expanding the supply of natural gas.

Making coal part of our 21st Century energy solution.

Redirecting unwarranted subsidies to invest in the energy technology of the future.

"Today we have an energy policy of big oil, by big oil and for big oil. It may work for their profits, but it will never work for America," said Kerry. "And yet George Bush persists in pursuing a course that can only be described as energy dependence - an approach, that despite all his boasts about a stronger America, will actually risk our hopes, make us weaker, and make both our economy and our country more vulnerable to blackmail by hostile powers."

Kerry said his plan was a vastly better than the false choices the Bush Administration has proposed.

"There is a better way. With common-sense investments in advancing and speeding breakthroughs, we can literally, on large scale, for the first time in human history, harness the natural world around us to light and power the world we live in - the sun, the wind, water, and a rich array of crops can provide us with secure forms of energy at reasonable costs for a modern 21st century economy," said Kerry.

"We can use new technologies and innovations to recast existing sources of energy - like oil, coal, and natural gas - and use them more cleanly and efficiently. We can do all this while creating jobs, not losing them."


Within a Decade, America Will No Longer Have to Rely on Middle East Oil
Would Create 500,000 New Jobs Over the Next Decade

John Kerry is outlining a comprehensive energy plan that will tap America's initiative and ingenuity to strengthen our national security, grow our economy and protect our environment.

Americans spend more than $20 billion each year on oil from the Persian Gulf -- often from nations that are unstable and hostile to our interests and values. John Kerry believes that we must end this dangerous dependence, which makes American security and the American economy vulnerable to the vagaries of international oil markets. It is time to break with the past and build an American energy future.

John Kerry's plan would increase and enhance domestic energy sources and provide incentives to help Americans use energy more cleanly and efficiently. When sixty five percent of the world's known oil reserves lie beneath the Persian Gulf states, we cannot drill our way to independence. We can, however, employ new technology to use energy more efficiently and develop and promote domestic and renewable sources of energy. This kind of energy is entirely under our control. No foreign government can embargo them. No terrorist can seize control of them. And by meeting this challenge, we will not only strengthen American security, we will grow our economy and protect our environment.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Dean, Kerry Clash Again on Bush Tax Cuts

MANCHESTER, N.H. - Democratic presidential hopefuls Howard Dean and John Kerry clashed again Wednesday over whether to repeal all of President Bush's tax cuts.

In an exchange with a Saint Anselm College student about college costs, Dean again argued for repealing them all, saying the cuts left little money for grants and loans that could help pay tuition.

"That's why it's so ridiculous to say we'll keep the middle-class tax cuts," Dean said. "There were no middle-class tax cuts."

That was the opening Kerry's camp needed.

"This is simply another extraordinary gaffe from Howard Dean," the Kerry campaign responded. "Democrats in Congress fought to give millions of American families more than half a trillion dollars in much deserved tax relief and somehow Dr. Dean seems unaware. Howard Dean is either simply out of touch with the lives of middle class Americans or he is willing to say anything to justify the indefensible political position of raising taxes on the middle class by thousands of dollars per family."

Kerry has called for repealing the tax cuts for those making more than $200,000 a year while maintaining the child care tax credit and the elimination of the marriage tax penalty. The Massachusetts senator has described a New Hampshire couple who would pay $3,000 more in taxes if the cuts were fully repealed — a conclusion the Dean campaign said was based on the same misleading calculations Bush used to defend the cuts.

"It is a sad day for the Democratic Party when Senator Kerry continues to use GOP propaganda to distort the views of Governor Dean," Dean's campaign said in a statement. "Kerry should let the American people know that they were misled by President Bush, instead of continuing to use Bush's manipulated numbers to mislead them about another Democrat."

Dean insists full repeal is necessary to pay for expanding health insurance, homeland security and job creation. He also argues that increases in property taxes will erase any benefit middle-class taxpayers received from the Bush cuts.

The former Vermont governor has become the favorite target of rival campaigns hoping to stop his surge in New Hampshire and other key states and has spent the last week week defending his statements on the Middle East, trade, race and Medicare.

Can we talk here, Howard Dean? Do you not get that low and middle income folks are struggling? I don't think, as one of those folks who has benefited from Bush's tax cut's for the rich, that you really understand the outlook of the low and middle income families of America. John Kerry understand's, John Kerry has a plan to help those struggling Americans. That's why I support John Kerry!

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Big News out of the Kerry Camp this Evening!

Earlier this evening, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry received the endorsement of Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) in his bid for the White House. Sen. Feinstein had high praise for Kerry, and became the second Senator to endorse Kerry so far, the other being his Massachusetts colleage, Sen. Ted Kennedy.

Keep those big endorsements coming; we’re on a roll now, Kerry supporters!

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Kerry Wants One-On-One Debate With Dean

By JENNIFER C. KERR, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - John Kerry wants to go one-on-one with Democratic White House rival Howard Dean (news - web sites).

Kerry issued the challenge for a face-to-face debate during an appearance on CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday.

He had been asked about recent comments from Dean following a debate in Albuquerque, N.M., in which Kerry refrained from directly attacking Dean. Afterward, Dean said: "I wish he'd say to my face what he says behind my back."

In response, Kerry said Sunday that he'd welcome a debate with just the two men on the stage.

"If he wants a challenge and he wants us to go face-to-face, I accept," said Kerry. "Let's get together. Let's have a debate."

Kerry suggested Iowa or New Hampshire for such a meeting.

The Dean campaign didn't express much interest in the idea.

"There have been and continue to be numerous forums and debates for each of the candidates to discuss the issues, debate specific records and address concerns directly with Governor Dean," said campaign spokeswoman Courtney O'Donnell.


I think Kerry supporters would welcome this debate! What do you think? Post your comments!
Brief notes from the Harkin Steak Fry...

In Saturday's opening speech, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry compared the 1990s Clinton economy with today's and said he is looking to restore Clintonian ideas, which he said still resonate with the voters.

Kerry said middle-class taxpayers benefited by Clinton's focus on working Americans. "With George Bush in the White House, the middle class has been forgotten all over again," Kerry said.

He said he speaks often with Clinton: "He's available to everybody. I like the advice I get."

"Folks, go ahead and fall in love, be for somebody," Clinton urged the crowd at the rain-soaked Balloon Grounds east of Indianola. "But when the primaries are over, let's fall in line."

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Kerry is said to be the heavy favorite for the Firefighter's Endorsement...

Dean's Failure to Woo N.H. Firefighters May Cost Him Endorsement.
By Dana Milbank - The Washington Post - Sunday, September 14, 2003

Sparks are flying between the former Vermont governor and a crucial group in the New Hampshire primaries, the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire labor union. The group's fiercely active 1,200 members and their highly visible mode of transportation were instrumental in Al Gore's defeat of Bill Bradley in the New Hampshire primary in 2000. This time, Dean is in the hot seat.

It began when the Professional Fire Fighters of Vermont sent a letter in June to their brethren in New Hampshire warning that Dean "failed to ever put the weight of the governor's office behind any piece of legislation firefighters introduced." The Manchester Union Leader in New Hampshire got hold of the letter and produced a statement from Dean's campaign outlining his strong stance against . . . sparklers. "It's fair to call him a national advocate against sparklers," the statement said.

The firefighters were not impressed by Dean's opposition to party novelties. "We think he should be focused on first responders, not pyrotechnics," said New Hampshire union President David Lang, noting that the group is agnostic on sparklers.

Dean has twice blown off meetings proposed by the firefighters and hasn't been in touch with them since the last meeting was canceled on Aug. 22. The firefighters are steamed. "I'm glad New Hampshire's firefighters have a better response time," Lang said.

Dean's state director, Karen Hicks, sought to douse the conflagration on Friday. "We really look forward to meeting with the professional firefighters at a time when it works for Dr. Dean and Mr. Lang," she said.

But it may be too late. At the firefighters' parent union, the International Association of Fire Fighters in Washington, General President Harold A. Schaitberger said the IAFF is getting ready to endorse a presidential candidate at an executive board meeting at the end of the month. Schaitberger, who has met with all the major candidates, won't say who it will be, but people who have been following the endorsement sweepstakes say Dean will be hosed. Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) is said to be the heavy favorite for the endorsement, which would be his first from an AFL-CIO union.