Monday, February 28, 2005

Kerry Receives Distinguished American Award

John Kerry received the Distinguished American Award from the Kennedy Library Foundation. A Kerry supporter who was there reported on the event at Democratic Underground:

The evening was divided into two segments, the bestowing of the award and question/answer period with Tom Oliphant.

Greetings were extended by former DNC chair Paul Kirk, followed by laudatory remarks via telephone by scheduled guest Ted Kennedy, who left Boston early due to the winter's 5th blizzard for DC in order to be Tuesday morning floor manager for S.218 (bankruptcy). Kennedy waxed about his years of friendship with the Kerry, beginning when he sought out the Massachusetts contingent Winter Soldiers who were camped on the DC mall.

Kerry joked that when Boston is hit by five blizzards over one winter, they Dems will sweep the next election. He returned the reminiscence and lauded Kennedy for being his mentor and friend in the Senate for 21 years.

The second part of the evening was the interview by Thomas Oliphant, asking questions from the audience as well as his own.

A couple of the better quotes:

"There is nothing in the presidents budget that is either truthful or makes sense. Nothing. The war is not included in the President's budget, the social security fix is not included in the President's budget..."

"The question today is how we are going to put on the table the real choices for the American people and achieve accountability in American politics..."

Kerry pledged to be an activist and advocate for traditional Democratic values.

Kerry faulted Bush for not working with foreign heads of state towards a solution in Iraq. Specifically, he stated that during a conversation with President Mubarik, he learned that Egypt was willing to train hundreds/thousands more police/soliders, but had not been asked by *.

Kerry used the most politically incorrect language in describing Bush’s tenure and policies. Language like “failure” and “the first action of the second term was a conciliatory trip to Europe to mend damage done” (I’m paraphrasing).

Kerry cut into the main stream media, somewhat. He tied today’s situation to corporate control. Whenever he went a bit deep, he brought himself to even keel (“on the whole, I think the main stream media tried to present a fair assessment of both sides of the campaign"), but at one point declared there was an insidious underlying element that was responsible for maintaining a level of fear and distraction. Blamed unfair media reporting on the demise of the Fairness in Broadcasting Act, but did not say he would work to restoring it.

On the 2004 campaign, he said the Dems were at a disadvantage, having just a few months versus Rove’s 6+ years. Related, towards 2008, he said that the Dems need to continue the grassroots efforts started by his campaign, but needed to focus on the 2006 midterms.

I heard no real revelations during the rest of the Q&A period. My question about details of the recent suits filed in Ohio (see FYI) was not read.

On exiting, I had a chance to speak with Paul Kirk. Told him the difficulty I was having connecting my town committee with the state and national committee. He advised not to wait for top-down leadership, rather to act locally, to make the town committee a model of grassroots activism, and the state would come knocking.

A moving night, wish you all could have been there.

Public Service Announcement

People in Glass Houses

The Washington Post reports on the State Department's annual human rights report. The reportr criticized varioius Arab countries and North Korea "for a range of interrogation practices it labeled as torture, including sleep deprivation for detainees, confining prisoners in contorted positions, stripping and blindfolding them and threatening them with dogs."

The article also notes that these methods are "similar to those approved at times by the Bush administration for use on detainees in U.S. custody."

Donald Rumsfled is specifically noted to be responsible for many of these actions:

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld approved in December 2002 a number of severe measures, including the stripping of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and using dogs to frighten them. He later rescinded those tactics and signed off on a shorter list of "exceptional techniques," including 20-hour interrogations, face slapping, stripping detainees to create "a feeling of helplessness and dependence," and using dogs to increase anxiety.

Pelosi Calls for Investigation into New DeLayGate Allegations

Tom DeLay is sinking deeper into the mire every day. On Friday, the National Journal spelled out Delay’s latest violation of House ethics rules.

Today, Nancy Pelosi called for an investigation into the latest allegations against Tom Delay…

“These are substantive allegations that must be added to the ever-growing DeLayGate scandal and fully investigated by the Ethics Committee. The House gift rule clearly states that lobbyists cannot pay a Member’s travel expenses, but the expense voucher submitted by lobbyist Jack Abramoff indicates that this is precisely what he did for Mr. DeLay.

“It is imperative that the Ethics Committee live up to its mission and conduct a timely, thorough, and honest inquiry into all of Mr. DeLay’s alleged ethical lapses.”

Raw Story has uncovered even more on the DelayGate scandal including a link to USA Next who is currently employing Swift Boat Vets strategists in an orchestrated attack against AARP. Delay seems to turn up frequently in twisted ties to the foul Swift Boat Veterans.

One further note on the DelayGate scandal is that the lawsuit against DeLay PAC started today in TX.

Republican to Oppose Bush's Ban on Stem Cell Research Funds

We've seen plenty of Republicans avoid going along with Bush's plans for Social Security, fearing backlash from the voters (or maybe even realizing it is a bad idea). Some Republicans have questioned Bush's policies in Iraq. Maybe the next foolish Bush policy to come under GOP opposition will be over stem cell research, per this report from the Washington Times:
A Republican congressman will try to repeal President Bush's policy on embryonic stem-cell research when the House Energy and Commerce committee considers a bill to reauthorize the National Institutes of Health budget.

Rep. Charles Bass, New Hampshire Republican, will offer a proposal to repeal the policy Mr. Bush outlined in an August 2001 speech.

Mr. Bush's policy granted federal funding to embryonic stem-cell research for the first time, but limited such funding to research involving a group of stem-cell lines already created at the time. Mr. Bass' proposal would lift that limitation and allow any stem-cell line to be eligible for such funding, as long as it meets certain medical and ethical standards

News Media, Good and Bad

The last two mornings provided contrasting examples of how the news media performs. NPR's Morning Edition deserves praise, while Meet the Press was another disappointment.

Yesterday's Meet the Press had Tim Russert, joined by Thomas Friedman and William Safire, continue their usual support for Bush's Iraq policy. We would hope that the news media would work to expose wrong doing in Washington, especially in an era where traditional checks and balances have broken down, rather than devising novel theories to justify Bush's acts. The impression they tried to convey was that the elections in Iraq are evidence that Bush was right. They took the democratic elections in Iraq as justification for the war, and gave Bush credit for every move towards Democracy in the middle east and the rest of the world. They even credited Bush for the change in government in the Ukraine.

Maureen Dowd was the only voice of reason on the roundtable, reminding the rest of how Bush lied us into war. There were many other points which should have been discussed, but the pro-war commentators dominated the discussion. There was no mention of how there are many forces pushing towards Democracy in the world, independent of Bush's actions. While having elections is in itself a good thing, it is far too early to tell if these elections will lead to a government which is capable of governing, and which will govern in a democratic fashion. There was no mention of how Bush's actions is leading to victories for anti-democratic forces, helping al Qaeda recruiting better than any other recent events. They did have some condemnation for Bush's weak response to Putin's anti-democartic actions without sufficient review of the anti-democratic actions of the Bush administration.

While Meet the Press tried to give the false impression that Bush's policies have been shown to be correct, NPR's Morning Edition gave support to more critical thinking about what we hear on the news. Morning Edition had a story today about the words used by the news media, primarily on describing Bush's Social Security proposals as reform. As reform suggests changes which are both necessary and for the better, NPR has decided to use more neutral terms instead.

Other examples were also given, such as whether the "war on terrorism" should include Iraq, and on how there was little support for repealing the inheritance tax until Frank Luntz came up with the idea of calling it the "death tax." Morning Edition, unlike Meet the Press, leaves us to consider the possibility that there are views beyond what we hear from the Republican noise machine.

While Morning Edition concentrated on use of words which was often unintentional by the reporters, on Fox News we see examples of intentional use of GOP-preferred terminology. This includes Fox's description of suicide bombers as homicide bombers--as if there are people running around with bombs without the intention to kill. Not only do Fox's own reporters use this term, but Media Matters has noted that their web site has changed text from wire service reports to use the same language. In one case they even altered a quote from Hillary Clinton to use their terminology.

Million Dollar Baby

Don't let Clint Eastwood's Republican ties fool you. Million Dollar Baby is well deserving of its several Oscars, and there is reason why conservatives like Rush Limbaugh are so angry about it. The movie won Oscars for best movie, supporting actor, actess, and director.

Most likely everyone who has heard about the movie is aware that it is about far more than boxing. If you haven't seen it yet, and haven't heard what it is about, I recommend seeing it quickly. It's only a matter of time before someone spoils the movie by giving away what it is really about--something I won't do here. (If you watch Bill Maher on one of the midweek reruns, beware, he did give it away on Friday's show).

Kerry on Support for the Military

Our military needs a better ally at home
By John Kerry

Monday, February 28, 2005

recently traveled to Iraq where I was proud to visit some of America's most remarkable young men and women.
I wish I was as proud about what is happening in Washington, where ``supporting the troops'' is often confused with simply supporting the administration's policies. Sometimes supporting the troops means challenging the policies that put them in harm's way or harm the families who pray for their safe return. It also means Congress has a special responsibility to our troops - both in the field and at home.
Our troops must have every tool they need to succeed. Every recent commitment of American military power, including the ``air war'' in Kosovo, has required sizeable ground forces, at the very least to provide post-conflict security. There's just no technological substitute for boots on the ground.
I introduced the Strengthening America's Armed Forces and Military Family Bill of Rights Act to permanently increase the size of the military by 30,000 to 40,000 in the Army and 10,000 in the Marine Corps to meet challenges of the new century.
Let me be clear: This is not a proposal to increase U.S. forces in Iraq. But our experience there is instructive. Our ground forces are stretched. The Army recently began calling back retirees ranging in age from their mid-40s to late 60s. The Guard and Reserve are stressed, too. The chief of the Army Reserve warns that his troops are ``rapidly degenerating into a broken force'' and at this rate couldn't meet future missions.
If we had begun expanding the military in 2003, when Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and many of us began calling for it, our military would not be as overstretched as it is today.
We need a Military Family Bill of Rights, a set of policies enshrined in law to meet the needs of military families.
Investing in military families isn't just compassionate - it's a smart investment in our national security. The Military Family Bill of Rights would:
Expand TRICARE to all Guard and Reserve members, whether mobilized or not. Members failing physicals impacts combat readiness, yet as many as one in five do not have health insurance.
Allow widows to stay in military housing for one year. For those with children, the current policy of 180 days can mean changing schools in the course of a year.
Establish a Military Family Relief Fund. Just as we let Americans donate a few dollars to finance presidential elections on their tax forms, they should be able to thank our troops.
Allow penalty-free withdrawals from Individual Retirement Accounts for deployment-related expenses, like increased child care.
Offer a tax credit to small businesses that make up the difference between Reserve and National Guard members' civilian and military pay.
Expand post-traumatic stress disorder programs and require more outreach. As many as one in six soldiers returning from Iraq show symptoms of PTSD, yet barely half of all VA medical centers have treatment facilities.
Increase the military death benefit. Last year I proposed increasing the benefit so that, combined with the Servicemembers Group Life Insurance, the families of those who die in military service would receive $500,000. No one can put a price on a life, but the current $12,000 is insulting. The president recently embraced a formula to reach $500,000 but limited it to deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan. Congress should embrace the broader benefit for all troops, regardless of where they die, and act immediately to make it law.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Who's Getting Ready for 2008?

From US News:

The 2008 Five

Five Democrats have begun informal staff interviews for 2008 presidential runs, according to a few who've been interviewed. So far, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is dubbed "the most aggressive" in seeking out aides, followed by Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack . The others are Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards , and 2004 candidate Sen. John Kerry .

Friday, February 25, 2005

Kerry to Address Union Leaders

From The Note:

Sen. John F. Kerry will address more than 400 union leaders and other legislative activists at the opening session of the National Treasury Employees Union's annual legislative conference next Tuesday, March 1, in Washington, DC. The opening session will begin at 9:00 am ET Tuesday in Washington, D.C. NTEU endorsed Sen. Kerry's presidential bid.

President Arrested in Europe for War Crimes

News came out of the President being arrested in Finland for war crimes, but unfortunately this report was fictional, on the WB show Jack and Bobby.

Jack and Bobby (whose names should ring a bell) is partially the work of Thomas Schlamme, formerly of West Wing. Jack and Bobby shows the early years of Bobby McAllister, who is fated to grow up to become President, and most episodes include interviews taking place in the future discussing aspects of the future McAllister administration. This week's episode included the story of a President who preceded McAllister being arrested in Finland for war crimes committed while he was President.

Jack and Bobby also stars Christine Lahti as Bobby's mother, Grace Mcallister. Grace frequently backs liberal causes similar to characters on West Wing, openly backed John Kerry last fall, and is also a self-described secular humanist. The show isn't intended to be a one-sided portrayal of liberal positions. Grace, for example, is flawed with bad habits including over-use of marijuana in early episodes. While she is a secular humanist, Bobby shows an interest in religion, and we learn he becomes a minister before becoming President.

Some conservative sites complained about the free publicity received by the Kerry campaign when Grace wore a Kerry badge on the show. I doubt this helped Kerry any where near as much as all that free favorable publicity from Fox News, CNN, and talk radio.

The show tries to be topical, and I bet it is no coincidence that this aired the same week Bush is in Europe, even if there is no hope he'll be arrested for his war crimes. The week of the election they even aired three endings, one with Bush winning, one with Kerry winning, and one in which the result is not known. It might be worth the price of buying the DVD's when they come out if they include the alternative ending with Kerry winning.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Frist May Not Have Support To Go Nuclear

The New York Times reports that Arlen Specter is once again interfering with the plans of the Senate Republican leadership, this time questioning the so called nuclear option. Senator Bill Frist has been threatening to change Senate rules to prevent filibusters on judicial appointments, but Specter warns that this "would wreak havoc in the Senate." He also suggests that Frisk may not have the votes to pass such changes in Senate rules.

Truthout: Kerry/Edwards File More Ohio Election Motions

William Pitt reports that "Kerry-Edwards 2004 has just made two filings in the Ohio recount case currently pending before Federal Judge Edmund Sargus in Columbus, Ohio."

Bush Lectures Putin on Democracy--Who Is Going to Lecture Bush?

The media today is full of reports about Bush talking to Putin about backsliding on Democarcy.

So, when is someone going to speak to Bush?

When is someone going to speak to Bush about his stealing the election in 2000, and then winning reelection by using Soviet-style propaganda and other dishonest means?

When is someone going to speak to Bush about torture and his disregard for the Geneva Convention?

When is someone going to talk to Bush about the Patriot Act?

When is someone going ot speak to Bush about the dangers of concentration of power? Not only are we faced with one-party rule, but his party has been shutting out the opposition party, and has even been purging members of his own party, such as removing Senate committee chairmen who don't go along with the rest.

Under Bush we have a news media which looks more like Pravda than a free press, one party rule, and Soviet-style purges.

It looks like Bush and Putin might have had a lot to talk about. Are we really sure that in private Bush was pushing for democracy, or was he getting Soviet-style suggestions from Putin?

Monday, February 21, 2005

Ground Chuck?

The right wing is looking towards 2008, hoping to make sure that one of their own gets the nomination. The American Spectator is going after one of those dangerous liberal-lovers in the party. Is it one of the social moderates like Gulliani or Schwarzenager? No, they see another dangerous person who is out of sync wiht their beliefs:

Chuck Hagel is now receiving the wrath of the far right.

The American Spectator site also shows us how the same people who advised the Swift Boat Liars plan to go after the AARP. They have unveiled their new ad, which claims that the AARP hates the military and loves gay guy kissing.

Responses to Fair Election Proposals

Now that a few days have past, there's been time to see some reaction to the election reform measures proposed by Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and others last week. The prevailing opinion in the media, not surprisingly, appears that it has little chance for passage in a Republican-dominated Congress. Hopefully the voting population (or those who wish they could vote) might put some pressure on Congress. The Republican bloggers don't show any signs of deviating from the party line to support the democratic process.

It should come as little surprise that the right wing bloggers support the partisan interests of the GOP over principles of democratic elections. After all, if they really had any principles, they could not have supported George Bush. A handful of conservative bloggers endorsed Kerry, but the blogosphere is packed with blogs which were willing to back George Bush without concern for the degree to which he has betrayed the interests of this country and the principles upon which it was founded. They ignore the degree to which George Bush differs from traditional Republican values.

It is hard to see how any true conservative (other than the Christian Right variety) could support Bush. George Bush is such an extremist that even John Kerry was closer to traditional Republican values than George Bush. If Barry Goldwater, who had no use for the religious right, was alive, I have no doubt that he would be one of George Bush's biggest critics, and would have supported John Kerry for the Presidency.

Our first clue as to the disregard for fair elections on the right was their complaints over the recounts conducted, which were within the letter of the law. One sign that there is something wrong with the system is the fact that manual recounts almost always wind up showing that more people intended to vote for Democrats than was recorded in the initial results. Of course all those conservative bloggers who were so opposed to challenging election results changed their tune the moment the Washington recount showed a win for the Democrats.

I've seen two main complaints on the conservative blogs about the election reform proposals. They protest that allowing ex-felons to vote is somehow unfair as a majority would vote for Democrats. This makes no more sense than to support denying the vote to blacks or women because they vote more heavily Democratic. Supporting democratic elections mean you support the right of people to vote regardless of how you believe they intend to vote.

I've seen one complaint regarding making election day a federal holiday, feeling that only government employees would get the day off, predicting they would vote more heavily Democratic. I saw one conservative blogger recommend twenty-four hour voting instead so that everyone can vote despite work hours.

One response might be that making election day a Federal holiday would be a step towards increasing the likelihood that private employers would also give the day off. However, if this was their only complaint, I'd be willing to substitute twenty-four hour voting for making election day a federal holiday. Of course I'd also want to keep other recommendations such as early voting to facilitate voting.

For some reason, the media and conservative bloggers have said little about other proposals to ensure the validity of electronic voting.

GAO Issues Warnings On Government Propaganda

We are now faced with government propaganda on so many fronts under George Bush. Conservatives, who claim to oppose big government, ignore these violations, and are frequently participants. We have media such as Fox News pretending to be news when then are purposely designed to present a single viewpoint, showing little difference from Pravda. We have had multiple examples of the Bush administration paying off journalists, and more recently we have had Gannongate.

The Washington Post reports that the Government Accountability Office has issued new warnings against another common form of government propaganda:

The Government Accountability Office warned federal departments last week against using a popular public relations tool that already has landed two agencies in hot water for breaking federal anti-propaganda laws.

In a Feb. 17 memo, Comptroller General David M. Walker reminded department and agency heads that prepackaged news stories that do not identify the government as their source violate provisions in annual appropriations laws that ban covert propaganda.

Prepackaged news stories, sometimes known as video news releases, have become an increasingly common public relations tool among government agencies and in industry. They are designed to resemble broadcast news stories, complete with narrators who can be easily mistaken for reporters and suggested introductory language for TV anchors to read. Some news organizations have run them without changes and without identifying them as government-produced.

Within the last year, the GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, has rapped the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Department of Health and Human Services for distributing prepackaged news stories that do not disclose within the story that the government is the source of the material.

"[T]elevision-viewing audiences did not know that stories they watched on television news programs about the government were, in fact, prepared by the government," Walker wrote. "We concluded that those prepackaged news stories violated the publicity or propaganda prohibition."


Opponents of 'Clear Skies' Bill Examined

Yet another example of the Republican goons suppressing critics of Bush proposals. This time the goons are in the Senate, and the victim a Republican who voted for Bush in 2000 and 2004, per this report from the LA Times:

The chairman of a Senate committee that oversees environmental issues has directed two national organizations that oppose President Bush's major clean-air initiative to turn over their financial and tax records to the Senate.

Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), who heads the Environment and Public Works Committee, asked for the documents 10 days after a representative of the two groups criticized Bush's "Clear Skies" proposal before a Senate subcommittee. Inhofe is the leading sponsor of the administration bill, which is deadlocked in his panel.

The executive director of the two organizations, which represent state and local air pollution control agencies and officials, charged that the request was an attempt to intimidate critics of the measure.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

The Bush Theocracy vs. Science

More scientists speaking out on the suppresion of scientific research under Bush:
The voice of science is being stifled in the Bush administration, with fewer scientists heard in policy discussions and money for research and advanced training being cut, according to panelists at a national science meeting.

Speakers at the national meeting of the American Association for Advancement of Science expressed concern Sunday that some scientists in key federal agencies are being ignored or even pressured to change study conclusions that don’t support policy positions.

The speakers also said that Bush’s proposed 2005 federal budget is slashing spending for basic research and reducing investments in education designed to produce the nation’s future scientists.

And there also was concern that increased restrictions and requirements for obtaining visas is diminishing the flow to the U.S. of foreign-born science students who have long been a major part of the American research community

RELATED STORY ON LUTD : Return to the Dark Ages on suppression of science education

Also see Politics & Science: Investigating The State of Science Under the Bush Administration, a web site by Representative Henry A. Waxman.

Related stories at the Kerry 2004 Reference Library

Social Security and the Young, or Beware the Great Deceiver

Every day we hear of another poll showing limited support for George Bush's social security proposals, and more Republicans who are having second thoughts.

Despite this, Democrats should not be certain of a political victory, and need to act now to maintain the support of one group--the young. While polls show most opposing Bush, a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll shows that those under 35 support private accounts by 51% to 43%. This is an important demographic which Kerry won, and the Democrats need to keep in order to swing the pendulum back in their direction long term.

Part of this is due support among the young is due to the mistaken belief that Social Security won't be around when they retire. I fear that the current campaign cry of There Is No Crisis may be a mistake. While the crisis has been exaggerated, and while Bush's plan does nothing to help the problem, there is a legitimate concern that the retirement of the baby boomers will cause problems for the system. The message needs to be not that Democrats deny the existence of a problem, but that this is a fixable problem.

The young also are more likely to support private accounts because they realize that, with the time value of money, it is possible that they may do better. They need to realize a few points here:
  • Bush's plan adds trillions to the deficit, which undermines the long term value of their investments

  • Social Security is not just a retirement program. It is also a disability insurance plan. If they want to compare future income from Social Security to potential income from retirement plans, they most include the value of this disability insurance in their calculations, as well as the value of payments to survivors.

  • Social Security is forever. Private investment accounts will run out of money eventually unless someone can afford to live off them without touching the principal. Social Securitiy will not run out in this manner. Payments continue as long as they live, and are even indexed for inflation. While private investment accounts are a good idea, there is value to also having a Social Security plan with a guaranteed income regardless of how long they live. If they live long enough, and the young believe they wil live forever, the returns from Social Security can even exceed the returns from an investment account.
My fear is that Bush, learning his present proposals are dead, will change them to something which can pass. We've seen Bush go for the political win several times in the past. For example, when even Republicans balked at his plans to use the prescription drug plan to force seniors into HMO's, Bush backed down on this, but still made sure he had a plan. When the politicis were against him, he backtacked on his opposition to the creation of the Department of Homeland Security.

My bet is that Bush will do whatever it takes to have a Social Security plan pass Congress. When he is forced to give up on his current plan, I would not be surprised if he borrows Clinton's idea of having retirment accounts added on to the current system.

Democrats must make sure that Bush does not become a hero among the young by stealing Clinton's idea. I would suggest that they take the initiative now of proposing a real solution to the long term problems of Social Security, and include a voluntary add-on program of private tax deferred retirement accounts.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Dept. of Homeland Security Fails to Adequately Defend Ports

While Bush has wasted billions in Iraq, creating new enemies rather than aiding the war on terrorism, there's more evidence of the Bush administration's failure to adequtely prepare for defense at home. The New York Times reports:
The Department of Homeland Security has allocated hundreds of millions of dollars to protect ports since Sept. 11 without sufficiently focusing on those that are most vulnerable, a policy that could compromise the nation's ability to better defend against terrorist attacks, the department's inspector general has concluded.
Maybe it's coincidence, but I can't help but wonder if there isn't some favoritism in how the money was spent in certain states. For example:
The findings, released earlier this week, were the latest to criticize the Homeland Security Department's antiterrorism grant program, which has come under attack by people who say it has set poor priorities. For example, Wyoming received four times as much antiterrorism money per capita as New York did last year, according to a Congressional report.

Be Scared, Very Scared


Evangelicals here, map agenda

Conservative Christian leaders rolled out their political goals Lauderdale at the Reclaiming America for Christ Conference.

With a mixed sense of triumph and urgency, some 900 Evangelical Christians from more than 40 states gathered at Fort Lauderdale's Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church Friday to hear prominent Christian conservatives opine on how to advance their political agenda.

''We used to be a minority, and now we've got to learn how to lead,'' said Dr. Gary Cass, the executive director of the Center for Reclaiming America, in urging the crowd to get involved in government by lobbying Congress and starting local political action centers.

''It's very ambitious, and we can't do it alone, and that's why you're here,'' he added.

During one of several grassroots training sessions Friday at the church's annual Reclaiming America for Christ conference, Cass outlined four new initiatives in his group's fight to ban gay marriage, outlaw abortion and promote religion in schools and public life.


GOP Values Are the Wrong Values

Congressman Fred Upton (who represents a district not far from where I live) has some strange priorities. He celebrated passing a bill he sponsored by saying "Today, we are delivering something of real value to American families."

What is this bill which is of real value to American families? Did he help provide health care for children, something which John Kerry is pushing for and would really help families? Is he helping to reduce poverty, which John Edwards is concentrating on? No, his is providing much less value. His bill increases penalties for indency on the air.

According to Upton, "There must be a level of expectation when a parent turns on the [television] or radio between the family hours that the content will be suitable for children. A parent should not have to think twice about the content on the public airwaves. Unfortunately, that situation is far from reality."

Here's an opposing viewpoint, which I have quoted previously:

"As a free-speech advocate, I often told parents who were complaining about content, you're the first line of responsibility; they put an off button (on) the TV for a reason. Turn it off."

If any Republicans are reading I bet they think I'm quoting some dangerous left winger. Actually this quote is from President George W. Bush. I hope he shows he means what he says and vetos this should it also pass the Senate. A similar bill in the Senate was cosponsored by Senators. Sam Brownback and Joseph Lieberman.

Why America is Disliked

The Economist has an interesting survey on how America is seen from abroad, and why George Bush will encounter animosity of various types when he travels. It has become popular on the right to believe that American does not need its old allies or friends in the world. After reviewing areas of conflict in much of the world, The Economist points out why this matters:
Why, anyway, should America care if a bunch of foreigners dislike it, or affect to? Maybe, as a military and economic power without rival, it should not be too worried. Yet America needs the co-operation of other governments if it is to conduct trade, combat drugs, reduce pollution and fight terrorism. Moreover, Mr Bush is now committed to spreading “freedom” across the Middle East, indeed across the world. If foreigners, disillusioned with America, believe this is merely a hypocritical justification for getting rid of regimes he dislikes, the task may be harder. It is striking that Mr Bush’s 49 mentions of liberty or freedom in his inaugural address last month do not seem to have struck the sort of chord round the world that Jack Kennedy’s quixotic commitments did in the 1960s.
There is a measure of dislike of George Bush, and what he stands for, in the anti-American sentiment, but the problems may be more serious long term:

That may reflect the greater cynicism of the worldwide audience 40 years on. But the polls suggest it also has something to do with Mr Bush. Last month’s BBC poll found that opposition to Mr Bush was stronger than anti-Americanism in general, and that the particular had contributed to the general. Asked how Mr Bush’s election had affected their views of the American people, 42% said it had made them feel worse towards Americans.

That is the, perhaps short-term, view of some non-Americans. It is accompanied by another view, increasingly common among pundits, which holds that America is losing its allure as a model society. Whereas much of the rest of the world once looked to the United States as a beacon, it is argued, non-Americans are now turning away. Democrats in Europe and elsewhere who once thought religiosity, a belief in capital punishment and rank hostility to the United Nations were intermittent or diminishing features of the United States now see them as rising and perhaps permanent. Such feelings have been fortified by Mr Bush’s doctrine of preventive war, Guantánamo, opposition to the world criminal court and a host of other international agreements. One way or another, it is said, people are turning off America, not so much to hate it as to look for other examples to follow—even Europe’s. If true, that could be even more insulting to Americans than the rise in the familiar anti-Americanism of yesteryear.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Bush's Poor Record on Job Creation

Bush did not do very well during his first term with regards to job creation. This data is from a publication which is definately not biased against Bush--the Wall Street Journal. They also have multiple other tables which analyze this with different data. This is the first of their tables, all of which show poor results for Bush. Going by annual payroll data, Bush comes out even worse with a negative 0.2% change.

Calculated with Monthly Payroll-Survey Data

Bush I (2001 to 2005) 119 0.3
Clinton II (1997 to 2001) 11,222 9.3
Clinton I (1993 to 1997) 11,507 10.5
Bush (1989 to 1993) 2,592 2.4

Reagan II (1985 to 1989) 10,780 11.2
Reagan I (1981 to 1985) 5,322 5.8
Carter (1977 to 1981) 10,339 12.8

Nixon / Ford (1973 to 1977) 5,072 6.7
Nixon (1969 to 1973) 6,182 8.9
Johnson (1965 to 1969) 9,855 16.5

Kennedy / Johnson (1961 to 1965) 5,900 11.0
Eisenhower II (1957 to 1961) 795 1.5
Eisenhower I (1953 to 1957) 2,743 5.5

Truman (1949 to 1953) 5,470 12.2
Roosevelt IV / Truman (1945 to 1949) 2,772 6.6
Roosevelt III (1941 to 1945) 7,423 21.5

Decreased Support for the War Despite Misconceptions

There are lots of published explanations as to why Bush won the election, with the post-election polls suggesting that national security was the key concern. Maybe the problem was just that the election was a bit too early. A new Harris Poll shows opinion turning further against Bush on Iraq and National Security issues, which conceivably could have affected their votes. Unfortunately, the polls show that a large number of Americans continue to have significant misconceptions about Iraq.

Support for keeping the troops in Iraq, versus bringing them home over the next year, has dropped considerably between November and today. In November 50% supported keeping the troops in Iraq, with 47% opposed. Currently this has, excuse the expression, flip flopped, with only 39% supporting keeping the troops in Iraq as opposed to 59% supporting bringing the troops home in the next year.

Even more significant is opinions connecting Iraq to the war on terror. Widespread confusion of the two issues worked tremendously to Bush's benefit. In October, 52% believed that the war in Iraq strengthened the war on terror as opposed to 45% believing it weakend it. In November this was tied at 48%. Currently a slim majority believe the war in Iraq weakened us in the war on terror at 48% to 46% who believed it strengthed the war on terror. Hopefully more people will realize how Bush's policies have weakened the United States over time.

The public remains quite misinformed. The number who mistakingly believe Saddam had strong links to al Qaeda actually increased from 62% to 64% between October and now. Less believe that Iraq had WMD at the time of the invasion, dropping from 38% to 36%. Perhaps the most disturbing case of misinformation held by the public is that the percentage of people who believed that several of the 9/11 hijackers were Iraquis increased from 37% to 44% since October. I'm sure the Saudis are happy about this misconception.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Kerry at Hogwarts?

I've already tied Star Trek into politics here and at Light Up the Darkness, but someone beat me to using Harry Potter. I've been dissatisfied with the traditional left vs. right differentiation between politicians. Live Journal uses the sorting hat from Harry Potter to do a much better job of dividing up the politicians--in this case by the houses at Hogwarts. John Kerry, along with Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, Robert Byrd, Barack Obama, Olympia Snowe, Joe Biden, and Dennis Kucinich are placed in the cerebral Ravenclaw.

Clinton, Kerry and Others Call for Voting Holiday and Other Reforms

WASHINGTON (AP) - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, a possible White House candidate in 2008, joined 2004 nominee John Kerry and other Democrats Thursday in urging that Election Day be made a federal holiday to encourage voting.

She also pushed for legislation that would allow all ex-felons to vote.

Standing with Massachusetts Sen. Kerry and other Democrats who had alleged voting irregularities in the 2004 contest, Clinton said, ``Once again we had a federal election that demonstrates we have a long way to go.''

``I think it's also necessary to make sure our elections meet the highest national standards,'' said the New York senator.

She and Kerry, both considered contenders for the 2008 nomination, were joined by Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-Ohio, and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who forced a highly unusual House and Senate debate Jan. 6 on the presidential election results.

Kerry, who lost the national contest by 3.3 million votes nationwide, and 118,000 within Ohio, denied the bill was an attempt to discredit the 2004 results.

``This has nothing to do with me,'' said Kerry. ``It is not partisan, or shouldn't be.''


Social Security Calculator

Calls for Brit Hume to Resign

Dan Rather was tricked into using what were presumably fake memos to support a story which was otherwise factual. This was a mistake, and Rather appolgized (and most likely stepped down as anchor as a result of this). CBS had a full investigation.

If we are to call for news anchors to resign for misinformation, intentionally deceiving viewers on a regular basis is far worse than an isolated error. Anchors on Fox News (as well as some elsewhere, such as Judy Woodruff at CNN) regularly distort the news to support their viewpoint.

Media Matters for American has pointed out how Brit Hume has distorted the news:

James Roosevelt Jr: Hume's "outrageous distortion" of FDR "calls for a retraction, an apology, maybe even a resignation"

MSNBC host Keith Olbermann and former Social Security associate commissioner James Roosevelt Jr. examined how FOX News Washington managing editor Brit Hume and other pundits distorted a quote by Roosevelt Jr.'s grandfather, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in order to claim that the former president would have supported privatizing Social Security.

During their discussion, Olbermann referenced the distortions by Hume, nationally syndicated radio host and former Reagan administration official William J. Bennett, and Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund -- which Media Matters for America has documented. Roosevelt Jr. echoed Air America Radio host Al Franken's call for Hume to resign, saying that "he rearranged those sentences in an outrageous distortion, one that really calls for a retraction, an apology, maybe even a resignation."

More information

While the same arguments could be made against many other right wing anchors, many bloggers have joined the call for Hume's resignation, such as in this post from Oliver Willis.

Kerry Questions Bush Commitment to Small Business

One problem during the last campaign was that the general public received a very limited view of John Kerry's record and positions. Many voters fell for the GOP claims of Kerry being on the far left, and did not realize Kerry has a strong record of supporting small business, while Bush's policies tend to harm small businesses while supporting big business interests which contribute heavily to the GOP.

Some of the right wing emails which listed tons of bogus arguments against Kerry included a claim that Kerry never did a payroll. They were obviously unaware that Kerry was a small businessman before becoming a prosecutor.

Kerry shows his continuing support for small business in this statement today:

Kerry Questions Bush Commitment to Small Business

WASHINGTON, Feb. 17 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Sen. John F. Kerry (D- Mass.), Ranking Member of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today questioned the Bush Administration's commitment to small businesses during a Senate hearing on the President's fiscal year 2006 budget proposal for the Small Business Administration (SBA).

"The President's rhetoric on small business doesn't square with this crippling budget proposal," Kerry said. "Over the last four years, President Bush has cut the SBA's budget by more than one- third, leaving our entrepreneurs struggling for access to credit, federal contracts, and adequate training."?

Kerry made his comments at a Committee hearing on the SBA's budget, where he heard testimony from several witnesses including: Hector Barreto, administrator of the SBA; John R. Massaua, State director of the Maine Small Business Development Center (SBDC); David Coit, managing director of North Atlantic Capital of Portland, Maine; Daniel Betancourt, CEO of the Community First Fund of Central Pennsylvania; Patricia Sands, owner of Spill-Guard of Arlington, Virginia; and Edward 'Eddie' Tuvin, First vice president of Community South Bank of Tennessee.

Since 2001, the SBA's budget has been cut from $900 million to this year's request of $593 million. The President's fiscal year 2006 budget proposal for SBA is an $85 million decrease from the fiscal year 2005 budget proposal. This year's budget proposal for the SBA:

-- eliminates the Small Business Investment Company Participating Securities program

-- eliminates the Microloan program

-- eliminates the Program for Investment in Microentrepreneurs (PRIME)

-- eliminates grants for about 50 percent of Women's Business Centers (WBCs)

-- cuts $1 million from the Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs)

-- cuts 20 percent from SBA! 5/8s Native American outreach assistance

--provides no funding for the 7(a) loan program, instead increases fees for lenders

-- again provides zero funding for Business Information Centers (BICs), the New Market Venture Capital (NMVC) program, the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Rural Outreach Program (ROP) and Federal and State Technology (FAST) program, and the BusinessLINC program.

In addition, the President's budget targets programs that help small manufacturers by cutting $62 million (57 percent) from the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) and eliminating the Advanced Technology Program (ATP) at the Department of Commerce.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

News Scoop: Kerry to Join Press Conference on Electoral Reform Tomorrow

Here’s a follow up to Ron’s earlier post “Kerry Working on Voting Rights”…

I have received word from a trusted source that John Kerry will be joining Barbara Boxer, Stephanie Tubbs Jones, and Hilary Clinton in a major press conference on Electoral Reform tomorrow at 12:45.

Word has it, that Kerry will be revealing tomorrow during the press conference, that his email sent to supporters through on January 5th urging them to call Senator Leader Bill Frist and House Speaker Dennis Hastert and “demand that Congress commit itself this year to reforming the electoral system,” resulted in over 35,000 phone calls to their offices. The buzz that day on the blogs was that we shut down the phone lines to both offices.

There is no doubt that John Kerry has been a busy man for the past few weeks. He introduced the “Kids Come First Act”; he spoke last week at the Brookings Institution on the Kyoto Protocol; and on Monday, he spoke at the Worcester Telegram and Gazette Visions Ceremony on standing by our military. And, that is only a portion of what he has been up to in recent weeks. He has also introduced multiple pieces of legislation to help and protect Small Businesses, as the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship.

Kerry Working on Defending Voting Rights

Willliam Pitt reports that John Kerry is working on an omnibus voting rights bill. He has also recently reported that the Congressional Black Caucus had requested that Kerry not be present in the Senate on January 6. They requested this out of concern that their protests, directed towards reforming the system, would be distracted by questions over whether Kerry won or lost the 2004 election.

Related Story

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Way Ahead of the Curve

Speaking with defense reporters today, John Kerry put the Bush administration on notice. Referencing his speech yesterday, in Worcester, MA, Kerry discussed the legislation he will introducing to permanently increase the size of the military and boost benefits for military families.

“I think my security proposals for the country were smack on, dead on,” Kerry said. “I think that had they started to do the things I proposed on Iraq when I proposed them, we would be far better off today. And they are in fact now trying to do some of the things that I proposed.

Monday, February 14, 2005

John Kerry's Plan to Rebuild the Military



Monday, February 14, 2005

John Kerry’s Plan: Increase the Size of the Military and Stand By Military Families This week, Senator Kerry will introduce legislation to expand the Army and Marine Corps and help meet the needs of America’s Military families.

Expanding the Active Duty Army and Marine Corps are essential first steps in strengthening our military, relieving the stress on the force, preventing the emergence of a “hollow” military and keeping America strong. Senator Kerry’s legislation will grow the Army by 30,000 and the Marine Corps by 10,000. Given recruitment and training times, it will take approximately two years for these new troops to be ready to deploy.

The American military must also be reshaped to meet today’s threat environment. The Pentagon should ensure the new troops are trained to perform stability operations, such as civil affairs, psychological operations and military police.

The U.S. military is too small for our national security needs. Current deployments have stretched the American military to its breaking point. Active duty troops are facing lengthy and repeated tours. Of the National Guard’s 15 most combat-ready brigades, 14 are either in Iraq, recently returned or on alert to deploy in the next year. The Chief of the Army Reserve recently warned that his force was “rapidly degenerating into a ‘broken force.’”

Our military must have the strength and resources to meet any challenge, now and in the future. Challenges to America’s security do not start and stop with Iraq. The war in Iraq taught us that a lightening fast, information age military can drive to Baghdad in three weeks, but it also reminded us that there is no technological substitute for boots on the ground. Our ongoing commitments in Iraq, the nature of the War on Terror and the need to be ready for any future challenges mandate larger ground forces, equipped and trained for any mission. Our armed forces must be ready to meet tomorrow’s challenges, wherever and whenever they occur.

Keeping America’s military strong also means keeping faith with America’s Military Families. About half of today’s military is married. Good commanders know that even if you recruit an individual soldier, you retain a family. Providing for America’s military families isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s also a smart investment in American military strength.

During the 2004 campaign, Senator Kerry proposed a Military Family Bill of Rights. Several of those provisions, including protecting imminent danger pay and family separation allowances, were acted on by Congress last year. This year, Senator Kerry will continue to fight for the unfinished portions of that agenda, introducing an updated Military Family Bill of Rights to improve the way our government treats military families. The proposal focuses on fundamental needs like health care, housing and financial security when a loved-one is killed or injured.

The Kerry plan will:

• Allow Americans to donate to military relief charities on their income tax forms, similar to the current earmark that can be made to public financing of elections; • Allow surviving widows and children to remain in military housing for up to 365 days, rather than the current 180 days; • Increase the death benefit to the families of troops who die in action to $250,000. Doing so, when combined with the $250,000 insurance policy already carried by service members brings total compensation to $500,000; • Allow penalty-free withdrawals from Individual Retirement Accounts for expenses associated with deployments; • Extend TRICARE eligibility to all members of the National Guard and Reserves, whether mobilized or not; • Provide COBRA eligibility to Reservists who prefer to keep their families covered with private health insurance; • Expand Post Traumatic Stress Disorder programs in the Department of Veterans Affairs; • Establish economic injury disaster grants for small businesses that employ Reservists; • Empower the Small Business Administration to help Reservist-owned small businesses prepare for potential mobilizations; and • Create Veteran Entrepreneurship Loans to help veterans start new businesses.

Cost of the Legislation

The total cost of the Kerry plan would be approximately $6.5 to $8 billion. Taken separately, raising the armed forces by 40,000 personnel will cost between $4.5 and $5 billion per year, and the Military Family Bill of Rights would be between $2 and $3 billion per year.

By comparison, the United States is currently spending about $5 billion a month on military operations and reconstruction in Iraq.

Do I Get to Wear A Brown Shirt

Junk email just received:

Anyone want to sign up to be a GOP Team Leader? Maybe you get to wear a snazzy brown shirt.

I wonder if Wonkette has any opinions on these two

Dear ,

We're Mindy & Katie, two members of the RNC web team. Today we're launching the first installment of Off the Record, a weekly series of candid interviews with Party leaders, activists, and rising stars in the GOP.

Recently, we went Off the Record with John Thune, the new Senator from South Dakota who defeated former Democrat Minority Leader Tom Daschle in the 2004 elections. Senator Thune, who had just returned from Iraq, speaks about the emotional trip, life as a Senator and some personal favorites - certainly more than you get from an average TV soundbite.

To watch the video now, visit!

And join us in the following weeks as we sit down with several GOP Congressmen and Party leaders who are working hard to combat the Democrats' obstructionist tactics and pass meaningful reforms for the American people. Stay tuned!


Mindy, Katie, and the rest of the RNC eCampaign

P.S. Visit now and watch Off the Record with Senator John Thune. While you're there, sign up to be a GOP Team Leader for access to exclusive opportunities coming soon.

Click Here to Send to Friends

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Beware The Shadow Budget

George Bush and the Republicans just cannot help spending other people's money, despite all the historical claims of the GOP to the contrary. They like it even better if the bills don't come due until after they are out of office, letting others take the blame for the financial consequences. If the Democrats try to fix the problems they are leaving by raising taxes, they will then scream about the "tax and spend" Democrats, but the Washingotn Post has revealed that it is the Republicans who are to blame for the out of control spending:
Congress and the White House have become adept at passing legislation with hidden long-term price tags, but those huge costs began coming into view in Bush's latest spending plan. Even if Bush succeeds in slashing the deficit in half in four years, as he has pledged, his major policy prescriptions would leave his successor with massive financial commitments that begin rising dramatically the year he relinquishes the White House, according to an analysis of new budget figures.

Bush's extensive tax cuts, the new Medicare prescription drug benefit and, if it passes, his plan to redesign Social Security all balloon in cost several years from now. His plan to partially privatize Social Security, for instance, would cost a total of $79.5 billion in the last two budgets that Bush will propose as president and an additional $675 billion in the five years that follow. New Medicare figures likewise show the cost almost twice as high as originally estimated, largely because it mushrooms long after the Bush presidency.

"It's almost like you've got a budget, and you've got a shadow budget coming in behind that's a whole lot more expensive," said Philip G. Joyce, professor of public policy at George Washington University.

By the time the next president comes along, some analysts said, not only will there be little if any flexibility for any new initiatives, but the entire four-year term could be spent figuring out how to accommodate the long-range cost of Bush's policies.

"That president would have to face a very fundamental decision as to whether he would want to do what was right and be a one-term president or continue to play the same game and push it onto his successor," said Leon E. Panetta, who served as budget director and later White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton. "That's really the choice that's going to face the next president."


At Least He's Consistent

With all his faults, and there are many, at least Alan Keyes is consistent in his hatred and bigotry. Last summer he broke with fellow Republican hypocrits and labeled Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter (the one we're not supposed to talk about) a sinner, and labeled homosexuality "selfish hedonism."

There's a special Valentine's Day present for Keyes today as his daughter, Maya Marcel-Keyes, makes her first public appearance as a gay activist at a rally in front of the Maryland State House, per reports from CBS News.

Keyes reaction? Maya Marcel-Keyes reports that her parents have thrown her out of the house, stopped speaking to her and refuse to pay for college because she is gay.

Maya Marcel-Keyes maintains a personal web diary at

Wonkette also found the story amusing:
We salute her, and hope she serves as a role model for the Bush girls. We can't wait for them to come out.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Dean Gets It Right on Abortion and Values

Anyone who has followed my blogging days knows I'm not one of those Deaniacs who believe Howard Dean walks on water. I started out supporting Dean for the nomination, but by the fall of 2003 became one of those who Dated Dean, Married Kerry. I'm pointing this out as one more post in the blogosphere raving about a Dean quote is meaningless without this context.

We've seen numerous quotes since the election where Democrats have tried to back peddle on support for abortion rights. While I agree with Clinton and Kerry that it is useful to attract those who personally oppose abortion by arguing to keep the government out of these decisions, their statements also came across as a bit too defensive and apolgetic of their position.

We must differentiate between supporting or opposing abortion and supporting or opposing choice. It is a valuable lesson to hear from a deeply religious man such as John Kerry that there are areas which should be left up to the individual to decide, free of interference from the government. It may even be helpful to point out that abortions decreased during the Clinton years and have increased under Bush. If we are going to stand for anything, we must also stick to our values, including defending the right of people to make decisions for themselves. We must show that Democrats are the party which really means what Ronald Reagan only talked about in getting government off our backs.

While I believe John Kerry would have made both a better Presidential candidate and, more importantly, a better President than Howard Dean, and I acknowledge some weakness in Dean which many Democrats are ignoring, I also recognize that there are areas where Dean has done a better job than John Kerry. One of these is in more clearly articulating a vision, and being able to discuss values without trying to imitate Republicans. The latest example I've read of this came on abortion, in this coverage of Dean's election as DNC chair from ABC News:

Dean told Democratic committee members Friday that it's important to learn to be more comfortable discussing the party's core values.

"The way I hope to deal with that problem, is not to abandon our core principles, but talk about them in a different way," he said.

Democrats are not pro-abortion, but "we are the party in favor of allowing women to make up their own minds about their health care," Dean, a physician, said.

Defenders of the "Investor Class"

Getting out the message is an area where Republicans have been more successful than Democrats. (See yesterday's post on the differences between the parties.) Scandles in the mutual fund industry is an issue which some Democrats such as John Kerry and Elliot Spitzer have used, but which the Democrats have not used to its full potential.

This is a good, concrete example of where Democrats can position themselves on economic issues and hopefully break free from the sterotype of being the anti-capitalism, anti-investor party which the right wing noise machine uses to deceive the voters.

Irregularities in mutual funds is something which harms the smaller invester, often with the bigger guys profiting at their expense. Already around 95 million Americans invest in mutual funds--not a group which can be taken for granted. If George Bush wants us to put even more of our retirement money into mutual funds, it is even more important that small investers be treated fairly.

The Democrats need to better position themselves as the party which is going after those who abuse the capitalist sytem, not the party which opposes the system. Before the election. Zogby used the positions of those who define themselves as the investor class as one indicator to predict the election. The Democrats must attract what is now being called the investor class by being the party which champions its needs.

(Related Post at Light Up the Darkness)

Friday, February 11, 2005

A Dangerous World--No Place To Have Stupid People in Charge

A quick reason why we need Kerry in the White House:

The White House said Friday that it was not interested in North Korea’s demand for one-on-one talks with the United States to defuse the tension created by its announcement that it was a nuclear power. (MSNBC).

Differences Between Democrats and Republicans

I hate to admit it, but there is a lot of truth in The Note's assessment of the two parties today. Of course there are other important differences they leave out.

One party effectively uses fear of terrorism for political gain while ignoring the real problems. The other party has not been able to find an effective way to get this message out.

One party campaigns based upon distorting their opponents' positions and record. The other party has not found an effective way to deal with this.

One party uses voter suppression as a major campaign tactic. The other party defends the right of everyone to vote.

One party panders to homophobia, racism, and xenophobia. The other party appeals to people's better instincts--which unfortunatley is not as effective politically.

We must also pay attention to what The Note has to say:

America's two leading political parties have much in common — animal mascots; annoyance with cumbersome campaign finance laws; 2004 presidential candidates who like to clear brush; a mixture of fear and envy of Karl Rove; and, of course, grassroots supporters who appear to be buoyed by the selection of Howard Dean as the next DNC chair.

And/but yet there ARE some real differences between the parties.

With the Democrats gathered in Washington for Dean's coronation and in the wake of Bill Clinton's delivery of a Delphic roadmap at the Terry McAuliffe send-off last night, let's examine what separates the Republicans from the Democrats (with apologies to Ralph Nader):

One party has political elites who revere and respect its recent presidential candidates; one party can't even be bothered to stop chatting and, err, partying to listen to its candidates speak.

One party has a clear programmatic agenda that has been relentlessly pursued in a well-organized fashion for five years; one party is still trying to build a credible war room (both materially and culturally).

One party never apologizes and never shows weakness; one party is on its fourth day of cry-babyish "defense" of its Senate Leader, after a run-of-the-mill GOP "attack."

One party is already organizing for 2005/6/7/8; one party is still trying to figure out what changes a yet-to-be-elected chair will make on the Wisteria Lane of politics — Ivy Street, SE.

One party would know that electing a national chair with a net negative approval rating is at a minimum problematic; one party thinks it's a virtue.

One party can whenever it wishes take off-the-shelf opposition research (video and text) and turn it into talking points that drive the friendly and (sometimes) mainstream media; one party considers 36 hours to be "rapid response."

One party will air its dirty laundry to whatever lowest-common-denominator media outlet comes a-sniffin'; one party engages in cock-fight-style drag-'em-outs in their headquarters' basement.

One party is on offense; one party is on . . . something else.

On party learned the lessons of the '90s; one party unlearned them.

One party knows the press is its "enemy"; one party mistakenly thinks the press is its "friend."

One party is expending resources to expand the base and broaden the tent; one party says it is planning to do those things, but is distracted defending demographic and geographic turf.

One party owns national security; one party can't figure out how to own health care or the environment in a way that would help win elections.

One party figured out how to keep its "extreme" party platform on abortion and still make electoral gains; one party hasn't.

One party is trying to use its general unity to hold together and pass Social Security reform; one party is trying to figure out how to extend and build on its unity over opposing personal accounts to a general strategy.

One party has been taking the long view for a long time; one party can't see past yesterday.

One party has members who will take these words to be gospel; one party is dominated by people will quickly dismiss it as mean-spirited.

One party would agree with what we wrote above; so would the other one.

Bush Cover Up of Pre-9/11 Incompetence Worse Than Watergate Coverup

The cover up of information on the 9/11 investigations, by keeping pertinent documents classified until after the election, may be a bigger cover-up than Watergate. By controlling both the executive branch and Congress, the Bush administration was able to keep evidence of how its incompetence contributed to the failing to prevent the 9/11 attack until after the election. This allowed Bush to win reelection based upon claims, now proven false, that he was keeping the country safe from terrorism.

The Bush administration denied claims of previous warnings about the dangers faced from al Qaeda. Memos from the National Security Agency released yesterday verify that the Bush administration was warned on January 25, 2001. As we noted yesterday, these memos prove that Condoleezaa Rice was lying in her op ed piece in the Washington Post claiming that "No al-Qaeda threat was turned over to the new administration."

Republicans, including many bloggers, are trying to invent theories to place the blame on Clinton, ignoring that it was the Republican Congress which obstructed Clinton's attempts to fight al Qaeda. They are also denying reports that the Clinton administration provided the Bush administration with plans for handling al Qaeda. The newly declassified memos also prove that these accusations against the Bush administration were valid, as they included an attachment entitled Strategy for Eliminating the Threat from the Jihadist Networks of al Qida: Status and Prospects which details recommendations from the Clinton Administration.

Bush won reelection based upon the misperception that he was the better candidate to keep the country safe, despite polling which showed a majority disagreed with Bush on both domestic policy and Iraq. Democrats need to get out the message as to how Bush's incompetence was a factor in preventing an effective defense against terrorism, and how the Republicans covered up release of this information until after the election.

Kerry Building True Opposition

Ronald Brownstein at the LA Times looks at the Democrats opposition to Bush and the GOP, including Kerry's attempts at forming a true opposition party:

• Kerry, the Massachusetts senator and the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, lashed Bush's record on healthcare in a speech one week after the president's second inauguration. Al Gore, the 2000 Democratic nominee, gave his first speech criticizing Bush more than one year after Bush's 2001 inauguration.

Kerry is assuming a day-to-day opposition role unprecedented for recent presidential losers. He has even conferred with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who initially led the Labor Party when it was a minority in Parliament, on how to build an opposition party.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Condi Lied, People Died

We might not hear much about it in the American press, but Daily Kos found the real news in the Australian papers--Condi Lied when she denied receiving warnings about al Qaeda:

US al-Qaeda warning revealed
From correspondents in Washington

EIGHT months before the September 11 attacks the White House's then counterterrorism adviser urged then national security adviser Condoleezza Rice to hold a high-level meeting on the al-Qaeda network, according to a memo made public today.

"We urgently need such a principals-level review on the al-Qaeda network," then White House counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke wrote in the January 25, 2001 memo.

Mr Clarke, who left the White House in 2003, made headlines in the heat of the US presidential campaign last year when he accused the Bush White House of having ignored al-Qaeda's threats before September 11.

Mr Clarke testified before inquiry panels and in a book that Rice, his boss at the time, had been warned of the threat. Rice is now US Secretary of State.

However, Ms Rice wrote in a March 22, 2004 column in The Washington Post that "No al-Qaeda threat was turned over to the new administration".

Mr Clarke told a commission looking into intelligence shortcomings prior to the attacks, "There's a lot of debate about whether it's a plan or a strategy or a series of options - but all of the things we recommended back in January were those things on the table in September. They were all done, but they were done after September 11."

The document was released by the National Security Archive, an independent US group that solicits government documents for public review.

Another document released by the archive said that from April to September 2001, the US Federal Aviation Administration received 52 intelligence reports on al-Qaeda, including five that mentioned hijackings and two that mentioned suicide operations, according to today's New York Times.

The Times quoted a previously undisclosed report by a commission set up to investigate the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

The report criticises the FAA for failing to strengthen security measures in light of the reports and describes as "striking" the false sense of security that appeared to predominate in the civil aviation system before the attacks, the paper said.

Saving Star Trek

At first we thought that the response to 9/11 was something which could unite the country. Unfortunately, George Bush chose to squander this feeling of national unity, as well as international support, for partisan gain.

Now we have another tragedy which is showing signs of uniting left and right--the cancellation of Star Trek by UPN, which we previously wrote about. This is also the topic at yesterday, a site which bills itself as ultra-conservative, and proves it with its list of commentators worth reading, including Ann Coulter and Robert Novsk.

Yoshida has some interesting suggestions for saving Star Trek, such as fusing "the show with other genres to create a new and innovative program."

If we ever see CSI Vulcan on the air, Yoshida will deserve the credit for the idea.

Roll Call Reports on Kerry PAC

From Light Up the Darkness:

Roll Call has an article in today's ish about the new PAC John Kerry has formed. It will be called Keeping America's Promise PAC (or KAP.)It will have a particular focus on grassroots efforts to rebuild the Dems.

Fundraising for this new PAC will start in April and cannot use any of the funds left over from the last election.

From the article:

"The goal is to provide a vehicle for the millions of Americans who share Sen. Kerry's vision for the country and want to promote this vision and fight for the issues that they care deeply about," said John Giesser, who will be the executive director of the new venture, and will also be charged with managing Kerry's overall political portfolio.

Later on the article says....

KAP will not begin active fundraising until early April and at that point will start from zero. Although Kerry has $15 million in leftover funds from the 2004 campaign, those monies cannot be transferred to the new organization.

Giesser said that the e-mail appeal is indicative of the kind of activities with which the PAC will be involved throughout the cycle, which will include advancing Kerry's larger policy agenda, and making contributions to state and national parties and individual candidates.

"We will continue to build the party at the grass roots so that there is an opportunity for volunteers to be active on a year-round basis," said Giesser.

One of the first activities for the new PAC will be to help fund a soon-to-be announced national stumping tour by Kerry to promote his KidsFirst plan, which seeks to extend health insurance to the 11 million children that are not currently covered"

Bush's War on Science Continues

The Union of Concerned Scientists reports yet another example of the Bush administration altering scientific findings to fit their political agenda:

Politics Trumps Science at U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Survey Reveals Inappropriate Orders to Alter Scientific Findings, Decisions

Washington, D.C.—Political intervention to alter scientific results has become pervasive within the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), according to a survey of its scientists released today by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). As a result, endangered and threatened wildlife are not being protected as intended by the Endangered Species Act, scientists say.


Kerry donates $1m to Democrats

Kerry donates $1m to Democrats

Designates funds to bolster party at state, local levels

WASHINGTON -- Senator John F. Kerry yesterday gave $1 million in campaign funds to the Democratic National Committee's grass-roots organizing campaign, and is asking his network of political supporters to build on his donation to help Democrats compete at the state and local levels.

Kerry is earmarking the money for grants that will go to state-level organizations, so state parties can hire permanent staffs that will help in legislative and congressional races this year and next.

In an e-mail message to 3 million of his supporters, Kerry said the money would help the party take a "dramatic step" that will make it easier to compete with Republicans across the country.

"The Democratic Party should have powerful and nimble organizations in every single county and precinct," Kerry wrote. "There's only one way to win -- we've got to compete everywhere, all the time. Our party should be a constant positive presence in every American community, and we can be if we tap into the grass-roots energy of volunteers."

The donation leaves Kerry with about $10 million in his campaign fund, which he can tap for a possible presidential run in 2008.

Some Democrats expressed disappointment that Kerry finished the campaign with $16 million in one of his campaign accounts, and Kerry has sought to mend fences by making sizable donations to state parties and national campaign committees, including a $1 million donation to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

The donation to the Democratic National Committee is a signal that Kerry intends to work through the existing party organization after his unsuccessful presidential campaign. One aide to the senator said it should send a message of good will to Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor who was Kerry's rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, now in line to be the next Democratic National Committee chairman.

Jenny Backus, a Kerry political consultant, said the money and donations from Kerry supporters will help put in place a permanent local organizing presence for the party, mimicking the operation that Republicans have had in place for years.

"We've always built up the party once every four years, for the presidential run," Backus said. "The Republicans have been paying for staff at the state party level, and for organizers. This is a dedication to making the Democratic Party permanently strong."

The outgoing Democratic National Committee chairman, Terry McAuliffe, said in a statement that the money will boost the party's "unprecedented" efforts to build up its grass-roots organization.