Saturday, January 31, 2004

Patriot Games

Bush strategists may feel tempted to attack John Kerry’s opposition to Vietnam. Why it’s a battle they can’t win

By Eleanor Clift - Newsweek
Jan. 30, 2004

The voters don't want to refight the Vietnam war, but with John Kerry looking like the likely nominee, Vietnam returns to the front pages. Kerry is accompanied on the campaign trail by the men he served with in the Mekong Delta. "I know a little something about aircraft carriers for real," he says, in an allusion to President George W. Bush's premature "Mission Accomplished" landing last spring on the USS Abraham Lincoln.

There is another chapter to Kerry's war history that Republicans are examining, and that is his leadership in 1971 of Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Some GOP strategists envision television ads linking Kerry with Jane Fonda in order to undermine his credentials as a decorated war veteran.

Highlighting Kerry's antiwar activism is a risky strategy for the Republicans. To quote Kerry, who quotes the president: "Bring it on." If the election turns into a debate over war records, Bush can't win...

In fairness, Bush has been candid about why he enlisted in the Air National Guard. Like many young men of his generation, he wanted to avoid Vietnam. He told one reporter, "I was not prepared to shoot my eardrum out with a shotgun in order to get a deferment. Nor was I willing to go to Canada. So I chose to better myself by learning how to fly airplanes."

He has not been candid about his absences from the Guard. After the Boston Globe story broke in 2000, Bush said through a spokesman that he has "some recollection" of attending drills during the time period in question, but conceded that he was not consistent. Records unearthed by the Globe showed that Bush was removed from flight status in August 1972 for failing to take his annual flight physical. Bush aides said he didn't take the physical because his personal physician was in Houston, and he was in Alabama working on a political campaign. But that explanation didn't hold up because flight physicals must be administered by certified Air Force flight surgeons, and Bush easily could have found one at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala., where he was living.

Kerry's candidacy was elevated when a former Green Beret whose life he saved showed up on the campaign trail in Iowa to attest to Kerry's courage. In addition, former Georgia senator Max Cleland, who lost three limbs in Vietnam and was defeated in 2002 after GOP attacks on his patriotism, appears regularly with Kerry. Bush can't match that. If he's smart, he won't try.


Friday, January 30, 2004

More Key Union Endorsements for Kerry:

In Washington, the Communications Workers of America, with 700,000 members, endorsed Kerry and Michigan's largest teachers union, the 157,000-member Michigan Education Association, gave its support. A third union, the Sheet Metal Workers International Association, plans to announce its backing next week.

And... Here's an Interesting Tidbit About Kerry's Career:

Kerry has built his Senate reputation more on pursuing investigations than crafting legislation. For example, he led a subcommittee probe into the Bank of Credit & Commerce International scandal and subsequently wrote a book that helped document how international criminal and terrorist networks work together.

Ed Kilgore, policy director for the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, said that Kerry over the years has shown himself to be a thoughtful legislator who sometimes "has pushed his party to a little bit of fresh thinking."

Thursday, January 29, 2004

While in New Hampshire I had the pleasure of meeting Harold Schaitberger and quite a few of the IAFF members who were working hard on the ground for John Kerry! These guys definately deserve a lot of Kudos!

The General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), Harold Schaitberger, who campaigned in New Hampshire with John Kerry from Jan. 22 through Primary Day, today congratulated his New Hampshire fire fighters for their hard work that helped lead to the senator's big victory on Tuesday. The IAFF's "Fire Fighters for Kerry" campaign has been a vital part of Kerry's Iowa and New Hampshire election efforts and Schaitberger served as a surrogate speaker for Kerry at several events, rallying his firefighters and local voters.

"Long before the media pundits and the polls swung in our direction, the IAFF have been behind John Kerry and his campaign for President," said Schaitberger, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters and Kerry campaign national co-chairman. "Now that we are seeing the fruit of our efforts, it's time to congratulate all those who helped make this New Hampshire victory happen."

Schaitberger and South Carolina firefighters will join Kerry in South Carolina on Thursday for the state's final Democratic Presidential Debate. The IAFF will hold a pre-debate rally at the Pease Theater in Greenville, then escort Sen. Kerry to the auditorium with a traditional fire fighter march, including pipes and drums. IAFF fire fighters are also being deployed at Kerry events in the six other primary states on February 3rd, including Missouri, New Mexico, Delaware, Oklahoma, Arizona and North Dakota.

"Even though the momentum might be on our side, we have to continue to work as hard as ever to spread Senator Kerry's message across the country as this becomes a national campaign," said Schaitberger. "We will concentrate on working with our brothers and sisters from the upcoming primary states to make sure that his pro-labor, pro-security message is heard loud and clear by the voters."

John Kerry's support of firefighters has included the SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) Act, the first-ever Federal program to fund firefighters that was passed in November and will face a battle for funding by the Bush administration in the upcoming budget. The $7.6 billion program would support the hiring of up to 75,000 firefighters over the next 7 years to help hundreds of communities meet national standards for firefighter staffing. According to the National Fire Protection Association, two-thirds of America's fire departments are under-staffed, leading to common vulnerabilities to their varied homeland security and standard emergency response needs.

Among other programs Senator Kerry has supported include the $750 million FIRE Act, which helps fund equipment needs of fire departments across the country.

New Kerry Ads -

NEW YORK Looking to build on momentum that has carried him to victories in both the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry today begins running ads in the Feb. 3 primary states.

In South Carolina, the campaign will run a new 30-second spot "Alston," from Riverfront Media, a unit of GMMB and SDD Agencies. It features a Vietnam veteran and who served in combat with Kerry. In the ad, which includes images from the conflict, Rev. David Alston says, "When the bullets started to hit the side of the ship, we found out that John Kerry [could] lead." Kerry then appears on screen and talks about the need to seize every day and to do "what's right." The Massachusetts Senator discusses rolling back George W. Bush's tax cuts and guaranteeing all Americans healthcare. "He wants better for America. This man would make a great president," says Alston in closing.

Kerry's team will also put up two previously run ads, "Del," about a Kerry friend from Vietnam, and "Corruption," which bashes some of Bush's policies, in Delaware, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico, Missouri and in New Mexico and North Dakota, which also hold contests next week.

Riverfront has also produced a new ad for Spanish language audiences, "Opportunity," which will air in Arizona and New Mexico. That spot focuses on Kerry's healthcare stance, education and opportunities for Hispanics living in this country.

Between the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary alone, Kerry raised more than $1 million to help cover media costs.

"I love New Hampshire. I love Iowa too. And I hope to have the opportunity to love a lot of other states in the weeks and months ahead.

Thank you, New Hampshire, for lifting up this campaign and the cause of an America that belongs not to the privileged, not to the few, but to all of our people.

And this victory belongs to all of you who made the phone calls, walked the cold and snowy cold streets, gave your hearts, your hands and countless sleepless nights. You stayed the course here in New Hampshire. And because of you, this has been a successful - and a happy campaign.

And I make you this pledge tonight: I have spent my whole life fighting against powerful interests - and I've only just begun to fight.

I have a message for the influence peddlers, for the polluters, the HMOs, the drug companies, big oil and all the special interests who now call the White House home:

We're coming. You're going. And don't let the door hit you on the way out.

This victory also belongs in a special way to the veterans who marched with us and lifted us up from the lowest points to where we stand tonight.

In the hardest moments of the past month, I depended on the same band of brothers I depended on more than thirty years ago. We're a little older, a little grayer, but we still know how to fight for our country. And if I am President, I pledge that those who wore the uniform of the United States of America will have a voice and a champion in the Oval Office.

Now this campaign goes on to places all over this country.

And I ask Democrats everywhere to join us so we can defeat George W. Bush, end the economy of privilege, and fulfill the ideal of opportunity not just for some, but for all.

I ask you to go to; enlist with us, march with us across this land, and demand a government that's on your side again.

And together, let us lift our country up to the America it can become.

Stand with us - and together we will give America back its future by repealing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy so we can invest in health care and the education of our children.

Stand with us - and together we will build a prosperity where instead of Americans just working for the economy, the economy is working for Americans. A prosperity where we will reduce the poverty of millions instead of constantly reducing taxes for millionaires. A prosperity where we create jobs here at home - and where we shut down every tax loophole, every benefit and every reward for any Benedict Arnold CEO or company that sends jobs and profits overseas.

Stand with us - and together we will give America the fundamental decency of health care as a right and not a privilege.

An America where Medicare is protected, health care costs are held down and your family's health is just as important as any politician's in Washington.

Stand with us - and we will give America the security of energy independence, because our sons and daughters should never have to fight and die for Mideast oil.

Stand with us - and we will give America back its truth as a country where freedom rings, a country of equal rights and civil liberties where the Attorney General is no longer named John Ashcroft.

George Bush, who promised to be a uniter, has become the great divider. We believe in a country where everyone can hope and strive and move ahead - no matter where you come from, who you are or what the color of your skin.

And if you stand with us, we will make America safer by rejoining the community of nations and restoring our true role of leadership in the world.

George Bush has run the most arrogant, inept, reckless and ideological foreign policy in the modern history of our country.

Now George Bush and Karl Rove say that in 2004 they want to run on national security.

Well, I know something about aircraft carriers for real. And if George W. Bush wants to make national security the central issue in this campaign, I have three words for him I know he understands: Bring it on.

As I stand here now, I think of Robert Frost's words: The woods of New Hampshire are "lovely, dark and deep." And they certainly are lovely tonight. And while we still have "miles to go," I want to thank just some of you who shared our journey in this Granite State.

My amazing wife Teresa, Vanessa and Alex, Chris and Andre, my brother Cam, my sisters Diana and Peggy. My national chair and my New Hampshire chair - who didn't sit down for a moment - Jeannie and Billy Shaheen.

Some of the best and most talented leadership any campaign in New Hampshire or anywhere has ever had, Ken Robinson, Judy Reardon, Sue Casey, Nick Clemons, and Theo Yedinsky and all our great staff and dedicated volunteers - here and around the country. You kept on going, you never gave up. It's an honor for me to be on your side. Thank you.

Mayor Bob Baines and our New Hampshire leaders and the firefighters who served all that chili and so many others in New Hampshire too numerous to name.

My colleagues from Congress and so many others who came to help. My friends Ted Kennedy and Fritz Hollings from South Carolina. Fritz, we'll see you soon.

And most of all, thank you to the people of New Hampshire who voted today for a new day of hope in America.

Thank you and God bless you."

Saturday, January 24, 2004

League of Conservation Voters Endorses Kerry
Pledges to Mobilize Environmental Vote for Kerry in the Granite State and Beyond

January 24, 2004

For Immediate Release
Concord, NH –

At a town hall discussion in Concord, the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) today endorsed John Kerry for President of the United States. The LCV has never before announced an endorsement prior to the New Hampshire primary.

In the days leading up to the primary, the LCV plans to dispatch organizers to New Hampshire to get-out-the vote for Kerry among the 36,000 registered environmental voters across the state and distribute 20,000 pro-Kerry lit pieces in Portsmouth, Concord, Keene, Durham and Nashua.
“John Kerry is a man whose unparalleled record on environmental issues has earned him an extraordinary lifetime rating from the League of Conservation Voters, and he is clearly the strongest environmentalist in the field,” said Deb Callahan, president of League of Conservation Voters. “John Kerry understands that the American people need a president who will never roll over to corporate contributors at the expense of the health and safety of the public. I urge citizens and environmentalists in New Hampshire to cast their vote for John Kerry on Tuesday.”

The League of Conservation Voters is the political voice of the national environmental movement and the only organization devoted full-time to shaping a pro-environment Congress and White House. Through their National Environmental Scorecard and Presidential Report Card, the organization holds Congress and the Administration accountable for their actions on the environment. In the 2003 Presidential Report Card, the LCV gave President George W. Bush an unprecedented “F” for his environmental actions.

“The League of Conservation Voters fights everyday to strengthen our environment, and I am honored to have them stand with me,” said John Kerry. “We have worked together to stop drilling in the Arctic refuge, increase fuel efficiency of cars and trucks and reduce carbon emissions from power plants. The work of the LCV in New Hampshire and beyond will energize our campaign.”

“In this campaign, I hope to put an end to the false argument that America must choose between a growing economy and a clean environment. Americans can unite behind policies that will protect our natural resources and create jobs. If we offer America a better choice than the divisive rhetoric of the Bush Administration and others who want to turn back the clock on environmental protections, we can build a better future,” said Kerry.

Ever since John Kerry spoke at first Earth Day in Massachusetts 33 years ago, he has been a top leader on the environment, fighting to clean up toxic waste sites, to keep our air and water clean, and to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other pristine wilderness areas. Kerry has turned a spotlight on the Bush Administration’s rollbacks of our hard-won environmental gains and their outdated, old-economy notions that our environment must be sacrificed in the name of short-term profit.

“John Kerry understands how to protect our water and remove mercury from our air. This is a man who will stand up to the corporate interests and tell them to do what is right for their country, not their wallets. This is a man who understands that the 2004 election is about the world we pass on to our children not passing the problems of our world to our children,” said Ms. Callahan. “John Kerry is the candidate... defeat President Bush, who has compiled the worst environmental record in the history of our nation.”

As President, John Kerry will vigorously pursue an agenda that will honor America’s special treasures and pay tribute to her heritage, while renewing our nation’s promise of clean air, clean water and a bountiful landscape for all. Kerry has outlined a six-point plan for restoring America’s environmental values, while making American economy stronger:

1. A new and permanent commitment to “Green and Clean Communities.” He will fight for “Green and Clean Communities” by removing the threat of toxics from our communities, reinvigorating the Superfund cleanup program, improving our parks, and taking on traffic congestion and sprawl.

2. A new “Conservation Covenant” with America to protect and restore our nation’s Parks, lands, and other treasures for the benefit of future generations.

3. Protecting our Health by Reducing Dangerous Air Emissions. As President, John Kerry will immediately reverse the Bush-Cheney rollbacks of our nation’s Clean Air laws.

4. A new “Restoring America’s Waters” Campaign to clean up our nation’s waters, protect communities’ fresh water supplies, and help communities reclaim their riverfronts and lake-fronts as new centers of economic growth.

5. Reasserting American leadership in the international community to tackle climate change and other key global environmental challenges.

6. A new energy economy that will reassert American energy independence and power job growth and environmental improvement.

Monday, January 19, 2004

We Have a Winner!

Click on the picture to donate!

"Sen. John Kerry, come-from-behind winner of Iowa's caucuses, promised with a hoarse and halting voice Monday to kick President Bush and the influence of special interests out of the White House."-- Associated Press

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Words of Wisdom from David Yepsen:

On Dean -

"History teaches that Americans generally elect optimists to the White House, not angry people. History also teaches that winning Democratic presidential candidates have tended to be those seen as strong on defense and national security issues, not anti-war candidates."

On Kerry -

"Kerry's the hottest candidate right now. On the stump, he's sharper, more focused and more relaxed than ever. He's picking up some support from fellow military veterans. Some Democrats seem to like his Washington experience over Dean's lack of the same. They also like a guy who has a combat record, a fact that would make him harder for Republicans to demonize.

Kerry seems to understand the first rule of Iowa caucus politics, as first articulated by former Congressman David Nagle of Waterloo. The "Nagle Rule" holds that you: "Organize, organize, organize. Then get hot at the end." Dean's organized, but got hot too early. Gephardt's organized, but "hot" has never been used as an adjective with "Gephardt." Edwards' caffeine intake is apparent in the candidate and his poll ratings, yet he lacks the organizational infrastructure built by the others.

Kerry's talented staff has built him a respectable organization, they've poured everything they have into Iowa and Kerry himself has never been sharper or more energized. If he were a baseball pitcher, they'd be calling Kerry a good closer."

Saturday, January 17, 2004

From The Concord Monitor:

For John Kerry

We chose the candidate best prepared to be president.

To say, on the eve of the First in the Nation Primary, that America is at a crossroads is an understatement. The country is at war on several fronts, mired in Iraq and facing the danger that even more will be asked of its overextended forces. The good will of most of the world's nations has turned to enmity.

On the domestic front the situation is equally perilous. The economy, if it is rebounding, is doing so in a way that promises to leave more and more Americans behind. The nation's health care system is on life support. Red ink spills from the budget, and the national debt has hit $7 trillion. The gap between the haves and have-nots has grown, and the Bush administration's tax policies promise to widen it.

Several of the Democrats seeking the presidency have the ability to alter America's course. But one is better prepared than the rest. Only Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts has well-reasoned and rock-solid answers to every question, foreign or domestic. Kerry is prepared to take office tomorrow.


35 Years Later, A Helping Hand

Yesterday, John Kerry's headquarters got a very special phone call from a fellow Vietnam veteran and Green Beret, Jim Rassman, a man who hadn't seen John since a dramatic encounter in 1969.

Jim explained that he owed John a very special debt: his life. Today In Des Moines, Jim Rassman was reunited with John Kerry in an emotional meeting at the Creative Visions Human Development Center.

Read more on the Kerry Blog...

Friday, January 16, 2004

Released: January 16, 2004

Kerry's Iowa Lead Up to 5 Points;
The 4-Way Cluster Continues in Newest Reuters/MSNBC/Zogby Poll

Massachusetts Senator John Kerry moves into his second day of leading the pack by a margin that has climbed to a 5% edge over Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean and Missouri Congressman Richard Gephardt, according to the new Reuters/MSNBC/Zogby Poll.

North Carolina Senator John Edwards makes it a 4-man race with 17%. All other contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination have 3 points or less in Iowa.

See the chart and read the rest here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Commentary:Howard Dean and Wesley Clark are faux pas front-runners

HOWARD DEAN’S slippery slope is his tongue.

With the Iowa caucuses less than a week away, Dean is spending much of his time doing what he has been doing for months now — explaining himself in what seems like a daily exercise in damage control. Last week, for example, Dean found himself having to explain why he dissed the Iowa caucuses four years ago. In a Canadian television interview, the former Vermont governor denounced the Iowa caucuses as “dominated by special interests” and said they “don’t represent the centrist tendencies of the American people, they represent the extremes.”

His opponents in the Democratic Presidential race pounced, and state party leaders took great umbrage. Dean tried to explain that he made those comments before he understood how the Iowa caucuses work. “If I knew then what I know now about the Iowa caucuses . . . you know, Iowa’s been very good to me. I couldn’t run for President if I didn’t have Iowa.”

Fortunately for the candidate, Sen. Tom Harkin, one of the state’s most popular Democrats, stepped forward to endorse Dean in the middle of this flap, calling him “the kind of plain-spoken Democrat we need . . . the Harry Truman of our generation.”

Harkin’s endorsement may rescue Dean from the tempest over his 4-year-old slap at the Iowa caucuses, but the Democratic front-runner could have a more serious problem on his hands. According to voter interviews in Iowa conducted by reporters, the high-flying Dean balloon may have developed a slow leak. Some Iowans are beginning to have second thoughts about Dean, who is locked in a close contest with Richard Gephardt. Dean’s gaffes, stumbles and apologies have disturbed their comfort level with the plain-spoken Democrat.

Dean is still the man to beat for the nomination at this point, but there is always the risk that something could go wrong in Iowa, where Gephardt is closing the gap, and in New Hampshire, where Dean’s commanding lead in the polls has begun to slip slightly. Polls generally overstate a candidate’s strength.

But remember, in New Hampshire, it’s not enough to win the primary. You also have to win the expectations game. Neither Bill Clinton nor George W. Bush won the New Hampshire primary their first time out, and both went on to be elected President.

For true believers, nothing so far has shaken — or is likely to shake — their rock-hard support for Dean. The biggest worry for the Dean campaign is that the main attack line of his Democratic opponents — that Dean’s careless words will make him easy prey for President Bush — is beginning to raise doubts about Dean among voters who have been leaning his way.

Meanwhile, political junkies are beginning to speculate on which Democrat in the race is likely to emerge as an alternative if the Dean campaign falters. So far, there’s no sign that Democratic primary voters have fallen hard for any of the U.S. senators and congressmen in the race. That leaves Wesley Clark, a retired Army general who entered the race late and has been picking up steam in recent weeks.

If Dean and Clark (who skipped Iowa) are the top vote-getters in New Hampshire, in that order, the race shifts to the South, where Clark, the military man from Arkansas, could have the advantage over Dean, the physician from New York and former Vermont governor. Unless Dean scores knockouts in both Iowa and New Hampshire, the primary battle could spill into early March before a nominee emerges.

One of the raps against Dean is that his blistering attacks against the President on Iraq won’t play as well in the general election as they did among antiwar Democrats. But if anything, Clark’s attacks on the President have been even harsher. If Dean is angry, Clark is furious. He has called Bush a liar and come close to accusing him of treason, saying the President should be held accountable for the 9/11 attacks that he could and should have prevented.

He told the Concord Monitor: “I think the two greatest lies that have been told in the last three years are: You couldn’t have prevented 9/11 and there’s another one that’s bound to happen.”

If he’s elected President, Clark said the American people will not have to worry about another terrorist attack. On his watch, the Arkansas traveler said, “we are not going to have one of these incidents.”

It’s time for one of Clark’s handlers to yank his chain. That has to be the most incredible statement made by any of the Presidential candidates so far. Makes you wonder whether this guy is Wes Clark or Clark Kent.

Monday, January 12, 2004

A President who will fight for Small Business!

In the thick of campaigning in Iowa just one week before the Caucus, Kerry is still hammering the SBA on the shutdown of their 7 (a) Loan program! This is the third time in less then a week that Kerry has blasted the SBA!

Kerry Calls on SBA to Reopen Loan Program, Respond to Committee Requests for Information

Mon Jan 12, 5:50 PM ET

WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 /U.S. Newswire/ -

Sen. John F. Kerry, Ranking Member of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today sent a second letter to SBA Administrator Hector Barreto urging him to cooperate with Congress to develop a plan for immediately reopening the SBA's popular 7(a) loan program and keeping it open for the rest of the year.

"Now is the time for finding solutions, not for excuses," Kerry wrote. "You could have exercised your authority to reprogram money instead of abruptly shutting down small business lending."

Kerry reiterated this suggestion, originally proposed in his letter to Barreto on January 7, 2004, that the SBA reprogram money and seek supplemental funding to avoid the adverse effects a prolonged closure of the 7(a) program would cause for the nation's small businesses seeking these loans.

Kerry also criticized the SBA's incomplete responses to the Committee's January 8, 2004, requests for information on the management and operations of the 7(a) program, and asked the Administrator to provide answers immediately so that the Committee and the SBA can work together to craft a prompt and effective solution.

"On the date of the shut-down, small businesses were waiting for access to more than $600 million in capital," Kerry wrote. "Therefore, it is imperative that the Agency immediately provide the requested information so that a prompt resolution can be developed and implemented."

The SBA notified members of Congress via email on January 6, 2004, that the Administration was instituting the "lending holiday" on all 7(a) loans effective immediately because of budgetary constraints.

The full text of Senator Kerry's letter is available on the web here...

Kerry Probes DOD for Unobligated Small Business R&D Funds

Kerry, Democrats Call on Bush to Fix SBA Lending Suspension, Mismanagement
More Waffles... Dean is on the attack again!

Dean told reporters last Tuesday in Iowa that he would remain above the fray, even though his rivals were challenging him daily....

"I'm going after everybody because I'm tired of being the pin cushion here," said Dean, a former Vermont governor and the front-runner among the field of nine candidates.

I'm really saddened that Dean can't seem to make up his mind. When he called on the other candidates just a few weeks ago to stop the attacks, he was actually still attacking his oponents. It seems to me that Dean can't seem to stay out of the very "fray" that he himself started.

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Iowa City Press Citizen Endorses John Kerry:

Democrats should back John Kerry

For more than a quarter century, Iowans have had the honor of making the first selection in the presidential nomination process. Campaign appearances across the state and our ultimate choice during the caucuses often propelled candidates into the media spotlight and on to the national race. This year on Jan. 19, Democratic Party caucuses-goers will decide who they'd like to unseat Republican President George W. Bush. Their vote should go to Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry.

Foreign policy key

Of the nine Democrats seeking the nomination, Kerry possesses the right experiences to best serve as president, particularly with American troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and considering our nation's increasingly uneasy relationship with long-standing allies. A veteran with two tours of duty in Vietnam, he has served as Massachusetts' lieutenant governor during the mid-1980s and in the U.S. Senate since 1984. As a congressman, he sits on the key Foreign Relations Committee.

Iraq and foreign policy matters likely will raise the greatest challenges to America in the next two years, not only in terms of potential threats to the United States but in the very philosophy upon which our nation bases its policies and decisions. President Bush proposes a largely unilateral path while some Democratic candidates suggest retreat. Kerry, however, proposes a reasonable third option: Confronting the problems of the world by leading a wide coalition of free nations. On Iraq, Kerry has called for a specific timetable that establishes self-government and transfers political power and reconstruction decisions to whom it belongs: the people of that land. An internationalization of troops would help ensure the peace while freeing America's now over-extended military to meet other dangers.

Significant economic issues also will confront the presidency. Rather than pin economic growth on tax cuts for the wealthy or on big government programs, Kerry would encourage job creation through a new manufacturing jobs credit, by investing in new technology and by seeking energy independence in a "race" for alternate and renewable fuels. The latter project, which Kerry compares to the Apollo program, offers the dual potential of finally ending America's dependence on OPEC's mercy while helping the fundamental elements of our economy grow. In addition, Kerry proposes keeping Bush's recent tax cuts for the working and middle classes while rolling back those to Americans earning more than $200,000 a year. Ultimately, his plan calls for balancing the federal budget not by massive harsh cuts to programs or through outlandish tax hikes that hurt everyday Americans, but by developing our economy and hence increasing our tax revenues.

Reasonable health care reform

Any successful economic plan must address health care reform. Growing medical and insurance costs as Baby Boomers enter retirement conspire to undermine consumer buying power and the health of many companies. Merely getting all Americans covered by health insurance is inadequate for the challenge ahead while adopting a massive government program only will present more problems than it solves. Kerry offers a viable alternative: Offer impressive incentives to businesses so every American can receive health insurance while interceding to ensure that big insurance and drug companies don't inflate health care costs purely for profit's sake. He also would bolster Medicare and the Children's Health Insurance Program to help seniors and the young receive affordable health care.

During the past several months, Kerry, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt, Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich and North Carolina Sen. John Edwards particularly offered spirited discussion in Iowa about the future of the Democratic Party and of our nation. In little more than a week, Iowans will tell the rest of the country what we've learned about these candidates. Io-wa Democrats should let America know that Sen. John Kerry has offered the strongest vision for their party.
Quad-City Times Endorses John Kerry:

A time for John Kerry
A funny thing about the Iowa caucuses: Candidates spend an inordinate amount of time trying to come across as ordinary guys in the coffee shops, grain elevators, at the factory gates and school gyms.
John Kerry just can’t cut it.
He’s not ordinary.
He’s extraordinary, in the nicest and most qualitative sense.
At the QUAD-CITY TIMES, before he parleyed with editorial board members, we took Kerry to a break room unannounced to talk with three of our co-workers who took a few minutes off the packaging insertion production line. In just minutes, he was speaking easily with them about hopes, dreams, troubles and disappointments and answering their questions. He handled the curve ball deftly and walked away talking about what he learned from them.
That was among the experiences that differentiated Kerry.
All the candidates we met spoke very well.
Kerry listens.

He ponders questions, asks follow-ups and answers thoughtfully. He appears to be continually learning, whether it is the kite-surfing he took up a couple years ago, the guitar lessons he has put on hold during this campaign, or asking our opinion on Mississippi River lock expansion.
That quality and an extraordinary record of public service make him the best potential president among the crop of contenders in Iowa.
And there are some quality candidates. Our interviews reminded us again and again about the brightest side of elective public service and how well our system can work.
We like the candidates who realize that part of the Bush tax cut must be rescinded to pay down the crippling deficit and better insure the health of our countrymen. This tax cut was odd, of course, in that it was not one sought by the people but foisted on us by those who think our loyalty can be bought relatively cheaply.
We like the candidates committed to getting out of Iraq, but who won’t cut and run from those to whom we have made life and death and liberty commitments. We have to leave Iraq in better shape than we found it.
We like the ones who favor government incentives to make healthcare affordable for individuals and employers, while keeping the system private.
We like the ones with an aggressive alternative energy policy that steers us away from reliance on a teetering, wantonly corrupt Saudi regime.
We also favor the ones who value the Iowa caucus process as much as we do.
Since that covers several Democrats, we looked deeper. Kerry stands out with a breadth of foreign affairs experience, from commanding a Navy gunboat in Vietnam and earning a Silver Star to leading an international task force on the African AIDS epidemic to countless visits with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
“Never in the last 20 years has the government of the United States been as isolated as it is today.” That’s a line from Kerry’s 1966 Yale Class Oration, given after he had enlisted in the Navy but weeks before he began his service. The oration was an indictment of clumsy American imperialism — heady stuff for a 22-year-old who already was committed to a combat role in Vietnam.
His Silver and Bronze Stars and Purple Heart are testament to his belief that duty and honor sometimes override personal beliefs.
Nearly 38 years after that oration, he believes the United States is even more isolated. “President Bush has proven the White House is not the place for on-the-job training,” he told the Times editorial board.
We agree and have heard from many of you who share that collective worry.
While other candidates demonstrate a promise for leadership in world affairs, Kerry has graduated from that school. Phi Beta Kappa.
A Washington insider? You bet, in the best sense with a track record of working well with Republicans and earning the friendship and support in Congress from Sen. John McCain.
A blue-blood Boston patrician? Definitely, with a Yale education and a Boston College law degree. He’s married to a millionaire wife who took notice when she overheard him singing Catholic hymns in Portuguese during a church service at an environmental summit in Brazil.
A regular guy? Not hardly.
It will take an exceptional individual to build coalitions that can add jobs to our economic recovery, corral healthcare costs and do the right thing in Iraq. Kerry has proven success building coalitions to get things done on a state, national and international level.
And he leaves an impression that his greatest successes — and ours — lie ahead.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Kerry Proposes Watchdog for Consumers
By HOLLY RAMER, Associated Press Writer

BEDFORD, N.H. - Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said Wednesday his administration would include a "pocketbook watchdog" to protect the financial security of consumers and small-time investors.

In a speech to New Hampshire business leaders, Kerry said he would appoint a "director of personal economic security" to protect workers' pensions and retirement benefits, crack down on identity theft and ensure fair housing lending.

"America has a problem when the workers who helped build its economy are pocketing pennies while the few who are bragging about an economy are pocketing billions," Kerry said.

The appointee also would oversee efforts to enforce financial consumer protection laws, develop new ways to help people save money, and promote programs to educate them about the financial world.

"I will appoint a powerful advocate whose job — morning, noon and night — will be to look out for the everyday investors who are too often exploited, but who are critical to the long-term growth of the country," Kerry said.

The new position is part of Kerry's "workers' bill of rights," a collection of policy proposals designed to highlight his willingness to stand up to big corporations and defend working people. The package includes his earlier plans to expand health insurance coverage, enforce trade agreements, end corporate welfare and repeal President Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

Workers also have a right to secure retirements, safe workplaces, and fair and equal pay, Kerry said, but instead have suffered under what he called "George Bush's Bill of Privileges for Special Interests." Under the Bush administration, Wall Street greed has been met by a "look-the-other-way attitude," Kerry said.

"It's time we had an economy that's run not just by the value of our stocks, but the values of our families, an economy where common courtesy and common sense count for as much, if not more than, dollars and cents. "

The Director of Personal Economic Security will strengthen financial security by helping workers make better decisions about their retirement savings, Kerry said.

Sunday, January 04, 2004

How John Kerry would impact the Middle East
Landon K. Thorne

Of all the Democrats campaigning for the American presidency, John Kerry benefits most from former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s capture. This writer is not unbiased. John Kerry was my brother-in-law, his daughters are my nieces and he is a dear and loyal friend.

Kerry, an early Democrat frontrunner, watched his campaign flounder. He missed the impact of the internet as a tool to jumpstart campaign funding and grass roots support. His campaign became embroiled in a debilitating schism between a hired management team and a group of loyal insiders (including his family). Furthermore, his sophistication and erudition often sounded like unclear double-speak regarding US foreign policy, and particularly the American presence in Iraq. By contrast, rival candidate Howard Dean’s campaign charged into the lead by building an early internet groundswell, and Dean’s succinct (albeit polarizing) anti-war “get out of Iraq now” rhetoric resonated as straightforward. Kerry’s recent campaign reorganization and the capture of Saddam have created a new ballgame.

The images of Saddam had enormous impact on Iraqis and the international community. More significantly, with regard to the US presidential campaign, many Americans now sense an intuitive affirmation that success in Iraq (whatever that might be) is achievable if everyone rolls up their sleeves and gets the job done. Such a mindset may well form a powerful consensus that, combined with a steadily improving economy, will easily earn President George W. Bush a second term. For Democrats, however, the stunning transformation resulting from Saddam’s capture has put Dean on the run. His now seemingly naive Iraq policy will not connect with anyone but the shrillest of naysayers.

How, then, does Kerry position himself as the candidate whom Democrats will send into the fray against Bush? As Kerry sees it, he needs to build a broad national image of stature, patriotism, loyal opposition and professional capability. In a word, he must become the leader of his party while “connecting” with the electorate at a human level. His nearly two decades of service in the US Senate make him one of America’s most experienced political leaders. However, he is not well known or understood outside of the northeastern US.

In private settings, Kerry is hilarious, warm, jocular and fun. He is fiercely loyal to his friends. He rides motorcycles, flies airplanes and enjoys good food and wine. His image problem arises from his tendency to switch into “power mode” when the cameras and microphones show up.

The political road to the nomination will continue to be difficult, and Kerry still has an uphill fight. He must build credibility in the American south and heartland by pushing his experience and wisdom past the simplistic bombast of Dean and the Midwestern, centrist savvy of Congressman Richard Gephardt. Kerry is, nevertheless, a canny politician who more than once has pulled victory rabbits out of political hats. He sees real opportunity in the days ahead.
Domestic issues aside, Kerry’s candidacy has important implications for the future of the Middle East. Win or lose the nomination or the general election this time around, Kerry’s long-term perspective will remain presidential. As a mid-term Senator, or as president, one of his key areas of focus will be durable US policy in the Middle East. Kerry is an internationalist: multilingual, the son of a foreign service officer, a frequent traveler, he views himself as a culturally sensitive, experienced statesman capable of marching across the world stage.

Kerry is no stranger to opening doors and building new platforms of communication and collaboration. During the Clinton administration, he led the delegations that opened proactive diplomatic relations with America’s former enemies in Vietnam. He understands that foreign policy is a complex amalgam of national security, global trade, world finance, crime interdiction, human rights and the fostering of commercially viable democracies that are cast within the cultural fabric of regions and peoples.

In the case of Iraq, Kerry voted to authorize the use of force based on a seemingly credible weapons of mass destruction (WMD) threat, but he voted against the supplemental bill for sustaining the rebuilding of Iraq. Kerry is committed to finishing the job in Iraq but disagrees with fundamental elements of Bush administration policy. He believes funding Iraq’s reconstruction should be significantly offset by rescinding the Bush “feel good” consumer tax cut.

Kerry also believes the coalition must be broadened and a meaningful role given to the UN for civilian administration. He was an early advocate of reengaging key excluded colleague nations, an issue that the Bush administration somewhat pre-empted by recently dispatching the former US secretary of state, James Baker, to European and Asian countries to discuss their forgiving Iraq’s debt. Strategically, Kerry recommends that the Iraqi security forces be given better training, equipment and on-the-job mentoring. Regardless of politics, Kerry will support responsible foreign policy that builds durable relationships based on fairness, reason and trust.

Kerry’s membership in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and its International Operations and Terrorism subcommittee is his contribution to the global “war on terrorism.” He knows the struggle is not just about Iraq; it is a battle on a worldwide front that involves much more than military intervention and that certainly must not be cast as a war against Islam or Arabs. It is, simply, a war against those who, for the sake of their niche militancy, would disrupt the well-being and commerce of local innocents and the global fabric at large. Fighting terrorism demands a collegial, non-duplicitous, cohesive effort by a coalition committed to denying terrorists access to banking, conventional arms, WMD and safe harbor for training, planning and executing attacks. This requires statecraft, integrity, fairness and open-mindedness. The war on terror will thus need enlightened leadership that looks far beyond mere politics.

Kerry also understands that American policy in the Middle East must consistently and steadfastly move to a lasting and harmonious resolution of Palestinian self-determination. He also believes that Arabs must reconcile themselves to the United States’ close ties with Israel. Concurrently, he knows that the US must use its unique relationship with Israel to foster meaningful rapprochement with its Arab neighbors. The nations of the region must learn to think of themselves as interdependent parts of a regional security fabric. Rogues of any kind are dangerous to the common good, and every country must sincerely cooperate to rid the region of irresponsible violence.

John Kerry has everything it takes to be an important leader. However, he must find a voice (both literally and figuratively) that will resonate with Americans. In the general election, the incumbent administration may have more control of the core issues important to the national electorate. However, the intra-party campaign in which the Democrats chose their candidate provides a critically important inflection point for Kerry to lead the loyal opposition. Do not count him out. He is the man for the job.

Landon K. Thorne is an American businessman and retired Marine Corps colonel with extensive experience in the Middle East, Southwest Asia and Africa. He wrote this commentary, based on his intimate knowledge of John Kerry’s presidential campaign, for THE DAILY STAR

Saturday, January 03, 2004

Dean scrambles to clean up poor record on National Security:

Dean's Statement on Security Record - Sat Jan 3, 4:46 PM ET
By The Associated Press

Statement released Saturday by Howard Dean's campaign concerning his record on terrorism and nuclear security.

"As many have said before, the hindsight from the terrorist attacks of September 11th is 20-20 and no one was prepared for the events of that terrible day. In retrospect, every state in the country could have been safer and Governor Dean took swift and bold action to respond to make Vermonters safer. Governor Dean showed leadership and took responsibility by saying the buck stops here in terms of security by creating a Cabinet-level agency to respond to security threats. Dean actions included: placing state troopers and National Guardsmen at the plant, demanding a federal no-fly zone over the plant, increasing funding to prepare for an attack, and devising anthrax preparedness."

I just don't see how this statement corrects this:
"Security was so lax at Vermont Yankee that in August 2001, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission staged a drill in which three mock terrorists gained access to the plant. The agency gave Vermont Yankee the worst security rating among the nation's 103 reactors." See post below...

A new biography of John Kerry is set to be released in 3 days - Tour of Duty : John Kerry and the Vietnam War
by Douglas Brinkley

"Covering more than four decades, TOUR OF DUTY is the definitive account of John Kerry's journey from war to peace. Written by acclaimed historian Douglas Brinkley, this is the first full-scale, intimate account of Kerry's naval career. In writing this riveting narrative, Brinkley has drawn on extensive interviews with virtually everyone who knew Kerry well in Vietnam, including all the men still living who served under him. Kerry also entrusted to Brinkley his letters home from Vietnam and his voluminous "War Notes" -- journals, notebooks, and personal reminiscences written during and shortly after the war. This material was provided without restriction, to be used at Brinkley's discretion, and has never before been published."
In The News Today: January 3, 2004

Kerry Spells Out Local Security Plans:

PLEASANT HILL, Iowa - Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, collecting endorsements for his Democratic presidential campaign from leaders of public safety unions, spelled out a plan to give local officials broader powers and more money for dealing with threats to domestic security.

Kerry is proposing relaxed requirements for security clearances in times of threat to give local officials greater access to information. He also wants to strengthen emergency telephone systems to handle wireless equipment and create networks that allow smaller local communities to work together against a threat.

In a meeting in suburban Des Moines on Saturday, Kerry collected the endorsement of the heads of the Des Moines firefighters and police unions, both traditionally active in politics in the largest city of the state where this month's party caucuses open the nation's election season.

"Americans have had enough of politicians who are firefighters' and police officers' best friends when the bagpipes are wailing, but walk away when the flags return to full staff," Kerry said.

Kerry told a group of about 100 cheering firefighters and police that two-thirds of the nation's firehouses are short-staffed. "We've had enough of those who offer words without actions, tough rhetoric and a tin pot record. We shouldn't be opening firehouses in Iraq, while closing them in America." -- By Mike Glover, AP Political Writer

Meanwhile as Kerry is spelling out measures to increase local security...
We find out that... Dean Was Warned on Lax Vt. Security

Presidential hopeful Howard Dean, who accuses President Bush of being weak on homeland security, was warned repeatedly as Vermont governor about security lapses at his state's nuclear power plant and was told the state was ill-prepared for a disaster at its most attractive terrorist target.

The warnings, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press, began in 1991 when a group of students were brought into a secure area of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant without proper screening. On at least two occasions, a gun or mock terrorists passed undetected into the plant during security tests.

During Dean's final year in office in 2002, an audit concluded that despite a decade of repeated warnings of poor safety at Vermont Yankee, Dean's administration was poorly prepared for a nuclear disaster.

"The lack of funding and overarching coordination at the state level directly impacts the ability of the state, local and power plant planners to be adequately prepared for a real emergency at Vermont Yankee," state Auditor Elizabeth M. Ready wrote in a study issued five months after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Security was so lax at Vermont Yankee that in August 2001, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission staged a drill in which three mock terrorists gained access to the plant. The agency gave Vermont Yankee the worst security rating among the nation's 103 reactors.

The NRC has primary responsibility for safety at Vermont Yankee. But Vermont laws required an active state role by creating a panel to review security and performance and requiring plant operators to set aside money for the state to use in the event of a nuclear disaster....

The audit was not the first warning to Dean, documents show....

On Feb. 14, 2000, von Turkovich wrote Dean's top deputy, Administration Secretary Kathleen Hoyt, expressing concern the state was not forcing Vermont Yankee, which was up for sale, to set aside more money for preparedness.

"We are sympathetic to the utility's concern for controlling costs with respect to the pending sale of the plant and have committed to expend additional state and federal resources to subsidize this program in the coming year," von Turkovich wrote.

"However, I believe in the near future, the present or new owners will need to broaden their level of support for preparedness activities that need to be accomplished on behalf of the communities that reside in the Emergency Planning Zone," he wrote.

The documents contrast with Dean's position as a presidential candidate who has portrayed himself as more concerned about nuclear security than Bush.

"Our most important challenge will be to address the most dangerous threat of all: catastrophic terrorism using weapons of mass destruction," Dean said in his speech in Los Angeles last month. "Here, where the stakes are highest, the current administration has, remarkably, done the least."

Dean also has suggested Bush was unprepared before and after Sept. 11 to fight terrorism. "We are in danger of losing the war on terror, because we are fighting it with the strategies of the past," the Democratic candidate said.

The Vermont documents show Dean and his top aides received numerous warnings about Vermont Yankee.

In August 1991, an aide sent a handwritten memo to Dean saying there was a "security error" at Vermont Yankee that was "not public."

A group of students "on a tour were taken into a secure area without checking through security first," the aide wrote, saying the matter was minor but would be disclosed to federal regulators. Dean initialed the memo, indicating he read it.

In 1992, the NRC provided information to Dean about "declining performances at Vermont Yankee in three important areas: plant security, engineering/technical support and safety assessment/quality verification," documents show.

Dean responded by writing the head of the plant that the problems could "have an impact on the health and safety of the people of Vermont" and "it is my expectation that you will do all in your power to correct this declining trend." It was one of several such letters he wrote.

Just months later, the Vermont Nuclear Advisory Panel, a state panel, reported that two nuclear fuel mishandling incidents at the plant were the "result of complacent operator and management actions."

Richard Sedano, Dean's top utility regulator, said Saturday that while "everybody has a different appreciation of terrorism after the World Trade Center" the state closely monitored Vermont Yankee's safety and in May 1993 staged a public hearing to embarrass the plant's operators into improving their management. He called it a "therapeutic and beneficial experience."

Environmental groups sent Dean repeated letters about the plant's security and safety. During a 1998 federal security test, mock terrorists sneaked a fake gun past security and six times scaled, undetected, the plant's security perimeter fence.

The 1998 test was alarming because seven years earlier, protesters had managed to breach the same security by scaling the fence or rafting down an adjacent river. The 2001 security test again penetrated Vermont Yankee's security.

Ready's audit in 2002 questioned why, with so many warnings about safety, Dean's administration had significantly fewer people committed to nuclear emergency planning than neighboring states.

"Unlike its nearest counterparts, Vermont's Division of Emergency Management has only one full-time and two part-time staff to support" its emergency response program, she wrote. "New Hampshire has nearly 20 full- and part-time staff as well as consultants, while Massachusetts has more than 20 full-time staff to carry out" its program.

When it comes to National Security, John Kerry is a cut above all the candidates. Kerry has had the pulse on National Security for years. That shows in reading Kerry's book, The New War.