Saturday, April 30, 2005

Kerry Endorses Villaraigosa: A Day of Hopes, Dreams and Aspirations

Through out John Kerry’s 2004 campaign the resounding theme was hope for the future. Today I stood at Los Angeles Valley College and listened once more as John Kerry talked about hope for the future. That hope he said, for Los Angeles residents was in Antonio Villaraigosa.

"There are the issues on the ballot when you vote for mayor of this city, and that's why I'm here to endorse your next mayor," Kerry told the thousand or more Villaraigosa supporters at the rally.

"I'm not here against anybody," Kerry said, perhaps referring to the contingent of Hahn supporters off to the side who were there to show their dissent, "I'm here for somebody -- I'm here for a set of hopes, dreams and aspirations that we know can make a difference in the quality of our lives."

“We made a difference in 2004 and Antonio will make a difference in Los Angeles,” Kerry said. “Antonio will make Los Angeles safer.”

I spent a lot of time from August ’03 through to Election Day covering Kerry events here in Los Angeles and during that time, I witnessed the mutual respect and friendship between John Kerry and Antonio Villaraigosa. Today was one of those full circle moments, when John Kerry had the opportunity to do for Antonio Villaraigosa, what Villaraigosa had done for Kerry. It wasn’t a Kerry has the limelight day, though plenty of Kerry supporters where there and more than once the crowd chanted the familiar “Kerry, Kerry, Kerry” chant.

Kerry did take the opportunity to point out the issues that are central to Antonio’s campaign and he tied them into the issues that were central to his own campaign in 2004. For truly those are the issues that important to Americans all across our country. After all, who doesn’t want healthcare, public safety and a good education for their kids? In every city and every small town across this country, we all want the same things.

While Kerry did not directly mention the Kids First Act today, which he will be holding events on later this week, he did mention the need for healthcare for kids and the fact that it can make a huge difference in the lives of kids who do not have healthcare now. No doubt, many of the millions of kids with out healthcare in this country live right here in the city of Los Angeles.


LUTD Breaking 5000 Hits--For the Second Time

Light Up The Darkness is showing continued success in presenting the principles behind our support for John Kerry and or opposition to the current policies of the Republican controlled government. For the second time since started post-election, Light Up The Darkness exceeded 5000 hits in a single day yesterday. This was largely thanks to the addition of Buzz Flash to the sites linking to us. This includes frequent links at the Daou Report among other major blogs.

Today also marks the 13th time in 2005 LUTD has exceeded 1000 hits in a single day. Our initial blog, The Unofficial Kerry Blog, was exceeding 2000 hits around the election but, as anticipated, blog readership dropped off by mid November. The success of LUTD is showing continued interest in democratic principles.

Another landmark passed was having over 100 comments to a single post. Those reading the mirrored posts on the Unofficial Kerry Blog are encouraged to also join us at LUTD for our active discussions. Many of the posts are also discussed over at Democratic Underground and other sites. While we are concentrating on LUTD, The Unofficial Kerry Blog does remain active, sometimes posting items in greater detail on Kerry events and statements than on LUTD.

LUTD also had the first mailing this week for its email list. Those who are not on the mailing list are encouraged to sign up here.

Spread of Nazis in United States

We are seeing a spread of Nazis in the United States. This group has grown to 123 so far, with plans to quicky spread to 1000. No, don't panic, I'm not speaking of the evil kind, or even of Bush supporters (or grandfather). I'm referring to the spread of franchises, based upon the original Soup Nazi stand which gained fame from being included in a Seinfeld episode.

The planned franchises will include a sign with the original strict orders for ordering, such as "Have your money ready!" and "Move to the extreme left after ordering!" Unlike on the show, workers will be prohibited from shouting, "No soup for you!" at customers who disobey.

Related Story:
The Jerry Seinfeld Rule for Voting Republican

Civil Unions, Gay Marriage, and Reducing Government Intrusion

This started out as a response to comments on civil unions in one of the posts on our affiliated blog, Light Up The Darkness, and ultimately became enlarged into this. It pointed out that Kerry's support for civil unions made this a topic of discussion on the old Kerry blog. This raises the question of whether we should continue to stress this issue. I'm not sure that discussing civil unions on the blogs (as opposed by politicians) makes much of a difference.

Bloggers (as well as people who read blogs) and general voters are different populations. Bloggers who oppose gay marriage are more likley to be extreme in their views and be just as opposed to civil unions. On the other hand, many on line supporters of gay marriage oppose the compromise of civil unions.

The general population is different, and more moderate. While perhaps not thinking of the intellectual justification of distinguishing the religious component of marriage from the legal, many do find civil unions to be acceptable. Last year, when the right used opposition to gay marriage in their strategy of winning from the far right, a majority supported civil unions. Here in Michigan, where an anti-gay marriage proposal did pass, polling also suggested that many who voted yes did not understand the extents to which the measure discriminated against gays.

While calling for civil unions is unlikely to have much impact in the blogosphere, it is possible that liberal politicians could attract support with this idea. It didn't work in 2004, but 2008 is a different year. Opposition to government intrusion in situations such as the Terry Schiavo case may make voters more accepting of arguments to live and let live with civil unions, while less likely to fall for the gay bashing from the right.

The answer to those who vote on "moral issues" is not to compromise principles, but to place these issues in a large context. Civil unions and gay marriage should not be a question of one's personal feelings about homosexuality, but a question of how far to allow the government to intrude in the personal affairs of individuals. The Terry Shiavo case has illustrated this issue for many. Now we need to extend this to defending gays from government discrimination and to right to choice on reproductive issues (including the purchase of contraceptives).

Friday, April 29, 2005

Press Conference Recap

It is unlikley that last night's press conference will do anything about Bush's most pressing problem--his tumbling approval ratings. News of cuts in benefits won't help him sell his Social Security scheme. Wonkette provides a pictoral view of the gaffe of the night:


There was plenty of absurdity even beyond this. When asked about terrorism, Bush claimed "The al-Qaida network that attacked the United States has been severely diminished. We are slowly but surely dismantling that organization." That's why terrorist attacks are way up. This has also been a strange form of "dismantling." Last year the Center for Strategic Studies in London estimated that al Qaeda operatives tripled as a consequence of increased recruitment among those angry over the invasion of Iraq.

Bush stumbled over foreign policy questions ranging from Korea to renditioning. He was asked, "Mr. President, under the law, how would you justify the practice of renditioning, where U.S. agents who bust terror suspects abroad, taking them to a third country for interrogation? And would you stand for it if foreign agents did that to an American here?"

Bush dodged and avoided answering, starting out by saying "That's a hypothetical." During the course of his rambling, amost incoherent answer, he even resorted to bringing up September 11 as justification, noting "We're still at war."

When asked about John Bolton, Bush said, "John Bolton is a blunt guy. Sometimes people say I'm little too blunt." Blunt barely touches the problems with Bolten. As for Bush, he got it wrong. People don't say he's too blunt, but that he's not very sharp.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Mr. Frist Goes To Washington

The Economist (a conservative newsweekly honest enough to endorse Kerry over Bush), looks at Bill Frist this week. Here's the key portions:

Mr Frist seemed to take a moderate tack in the culture wars. In his 1989 book “Transplant” (part memoir, part cri de coeur about organ transplants) he was resolutely scientific rather than theological on the question of when life begins and ends. He even recommended changing the legal definition of “brain death” to make it easier to harvest the organs of anencephalic babies (who are born with a fatal neurological disorder but show signs of mental activity). Social conservatives fiercely resisted his elevation to the Senate leadership.

But look at him now. One moment Fristy is leading the congressional charge into the Terri Schiavo case, masterminding a bill to give federal courts jurisdiction over the case, and “diagnosing” Ms Schiavo as being conscious on the basis of watching a video and talking to a neurologist who had not seen her for two years. The next he is threatening “the nuclear option”—changing the Senate's rules to stop Democrats filibustering judicial nominees. On April 24th he was a speaker—albeit by videotape—at a Christian rally at which the “oligarchs” of the Supreme Court were denounced as “unelected and unaccountable, arrogant and imperious, determined to redesign the culture according to their own biases and values.”

Why has Mr Frist thrown in his lot with the religious right? It is possible that he has enjoyed a private conversion. But the more likely explanation is that an intensely ambitious man desperately wants to be president. At his young gentleman's academy in Nashville, his nicknames were “Mr President”, “Precious” and “Wilbur”; at Princeton, Harvard Medical School and the Stanford University Medical Centre, he was a super-achiever, so keen on practising surgery that he even adopted stray cats from Boston shelters for the sole purpose of dissecting them. And now he is in the Senate—a club whose inhabitants think about becoming president as often as normal humans think about sex.

Mr Frist seems to have made two calculations. The first is that you cannot win the Republican nomination unless you have “people of faith” on your side. The second is that such people are very angry. They thought that the 2004 election, with its clean sweep of the White House, the House of Representatives and the Senate, would allow them to roll back secular liberalism. But they find themselves blocked on every front: by a liberal press that is intent on destroying their champions, such as (Saint) Tom DeLay; by the Democratic minority, which is using every trick in the book to block their agenda; and by an activist judiciary, which seems impervious to the will of the people.

Both these calculations are absolutely right, but they are hardly risk-free—as the filibuster debate shows. Mr Frist's natural constituency—business conservatives—already worry that the filibuster fuss will distract attention from things like trade liberalisation and litigation reform. The stakes will soon get higher. If Mr Frist's nuclear strategy fails, he risks disappointing the religious right, emboldening the Democrats and trashing his reputation as an efficient majority leader. If he succeeds, he risks throwing the Senate into turmoil, alienating moderate voters, and stoking up the appetite of the religious right to move on to something else (like overturning Roe v Wade).

No Comment From Supporters of the Culture of Life

Hospital to end life support

Houston woman faces second fight in 2 months over husband's care

Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

A San Antonio hospital has decided to withdraw life support from the Friendswood invalid whose family successfully fought a Houston facility with the same plans last month.

Southeast Baptist Hospital notified the family of Spiro Nikolouzos last week that doctors plan to turn of his ventilator and stop feeding him intravenously May 3. The notification followed the hospital ethics committee's determination that continued care would be futile.

"Can you believe a hospital's trying to do this again?" Nikolouzos' wife, Jannette, said. "It's very aggravating — I never thought this would happen again."

She vowed to fight Southeast Baptist, but said she hasn't contacted Mario Caballero, the Houston lawyer whose court filings stopped St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital from pulling the plug before she could find another facility to take him.

Southeast Baptist officials would not talk about the case, citing patient confidentiality laws.

Spiro Nikolouzos' case attracted significant attention in Houston in March, the same time the Terri Schiavo drama reached its climax. It shone a light on a seldom-used Texas law that allows hospitals to remove a patient from life support 10 days after notifying family of its intentions. The family has that time to find an alternative facility.


Deliberately Misled By The Right

Our friends over at Democracy Cell Project are upset because in reports of Bush's lies on WMD stories are using an euphemism such as "deliberately misled" such as in "Half of all Americans, exactly 50%, now say the Bush administration deliberately misled Americans about whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, the Gallup Organization reported this morning."

That's ok--continue to say Bush deliberately misled the public. Everyone knows what it means. Let them use this euphemism and then extend this to everything else Bush has deliberately misled us about.

One mistake I think Kerry made in the 2004 election was to not stress the fact that Bush's whole campaign was based upon lying about his positions and record during the campaign, Kerry needed to point out how Bush was lying on campaign issues and then extend that to Bush lying about policy matters. There were just too many lies to try to fight each individually--it was necessary to get out the message that the entire campaign was based upon lies.

Responding to all the lies was necessary. In the past, the conventional wisdom was to avoid responding because it just gave more publicity to the lies. When dishonest attacks are responded to, it often leads to people being more likely to remember the attack rather than the response. With the ability of the right to spread lies quickly with blogs, talk radio, and right wing propaganda sources disguised as news organizations, such as Fox News, the conventional wisdom doesn't hold. A lie left unanswered quickly is considered truth.

I suspect that Kerry was too much a gentleman to call Bush a liar. The news media is reluctant to call someone a liar.. Maybe having euphemisms such as "deliberately misled" in common use will make it easier for Democrats to speak up every time we are deliberately misled by Republicans, and maybe even for reporters to include this in their reports.

During the Vietnam war, it helped strengthen the case for opponents of the war when there was common talk about the "credibility gap" from those supporting the war. It helped bring down Richard Nixon for it to be generally considered that yes, despite his earlier protests, he certainly was a crook. If we are to stop the subversion of democracy by the current GOP (that's Grand Orwellian Party) leadership, it is necessary for the public to realize how often we are being deliberately misled by the right.

Hammer the Hammer

Hit Tom DeLay and hear his wisdom. Play the game here.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Kerry Challenges Administration’s Big Business Agenda

Continuing his challenges to the Bush administration’s big business policies, John Kerry spoke today on the Senate floor honoring the 25 million small businesses in America while pointing out the inequities of the Bush administration’s support for the real small businesses of America.
Here’s some quips from Kerry’s floor statement:

“National Small Business Week is a time to celebrate the hard work of millions of American entrepreneurs… Today, those Americans are more than small business owners. They are employers, community leaders, and the keepers of the American Dream.

“Our small business owners not only remind us of the opportunities America provides to those willing to work for it – they also remind us how much opportunity small businesses provide to all Americans.

“Small businesses drive our economy, comprising over 99 percent of all firms and over half of our GDP. Two-thirds of all new American jobs are created by small businesses. A majority of Americans depend on their small business employer for health insurance. Our small businesses are responsible for countless inventions and innovations that have elevated the standard of living in the U.S. and around the world.

“Entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in America. Three in four adults have considered starting a small business, and with the advent of the Internet those numbers are going up.

“Supporting our small businesses is a win-win proposition for America. We can afford it. The people want it. And our economy needs it.

“That’s why it’s so hard to understand the administration’s lack of support. The SBA budget has been cut over a third since 2001, the largest reduction of any federal agency. Those cuts would have been far greater if Congress had not intervened… Time and time again we have received unanimous support in the Senate to rebuff proposed administration cuts. That’s because supporting small business shouldn’t be a partisan issue and never has been.

“We shouldn’t have to fight so hard for something that so obviously benefits America. This administration often claims the pro-business mantle. But if they were honest they would clarify that that means big business, not small business.

“Look at the bankruptcy bill. The bill helps big credit card companies and banks, but increases red tape and bureaucracy for small businesses. Small business owners know the path to success is often through failure, but the president’s bankruptcy bill discourages risk-taking and entrepreneurship.

“Look at the tax cuts. The administration claims the tax cuts primarily benefit small business, but in reality only the biggest small businesses get the majority of the cuts. More than half of small business owners received less than $500, and almost a quarter got no tax cut at all.

“Look at energy policy. While American families and small businesses struggled with gas prices, oil companies earned record profits in the fourth quarter of 2004: ExxonMobil up 218 percent, ConocoPhillips up 145 percent, Shell up 51 percent, ChevronTexaco up 39% and BP up 35 percent. Show me the small business that saw that kind of growth in the fourth quarter of last year.

“Look at what’s going on with federal contracts right now. Congress set the goal of each federal agency awarding at least 23 percent of its contracting dollars to small businesses. So what did the administration do? They allowed $2 billion worth of contracts to be reported as going to small businesses that, in fact, went to some of our biggest businesses. The money went to Raytheon, Northup Grumman, General Dynamics and Hewlett-Packard. Even the state of Texas was treated as a small business.

“An administration concerned with small business would be outraged by this and do something about it. This administration has done nothing. They have not accepted requests for an audit. They have not taken substantive steps to reform the contracting process. They have not prosecuted anyone for misrepresenting their organization as a small business…

“Small businesses are hit particularly hard by our healthcare crisis. Most small business owners want to do right by their employees and offer healthcare, but too many can no longer afford to... Since 2000, premiums for family coverage have gone up 59 percent, compared with inflation increases of nearly 10% and wage growth of over 12 percent. Some small businesses have reported their premiums increasing by more than 70 percent in one year.

“Of the 45 million uninsured Americans, almost two-thirds are small business owners, their employees and their families. In a nation founded on the principle of opportunity, that is unacceptable.

“We need a healthcare plan that gives small businesses access to the range of plan choices and consumer protections offered through the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program…

“Getting a small business healthcare plan passed should be a top priority for all of us this Congress. We can’t allow skyrocketing healthcare to slow down our economy or dampen entrepreneurship in America.

“Small businesses and entrepreneurs are America's single greatest economic resource. Time and again small business – not large corporations – have pulled our economy out of trouble, developed technological breakthroughs, and changed the way we do business in America for the better… Read the entire floor speech here.

Defending the Enlightenment

The religious right has been working for years to use the powers of the state to impose their views on others. We are seeing more and more signs of people fighting back, such as with this editorial in today's Boston Globe:

Whose nation under God?
By Robert Kuttner April 27, 2005

WHEN John Kennedy was running for president and passions were running high about whether a Catholic could serve both the American citizenry and Rome, a joke made the rounds about a priest and a minister whose friendship nearly came to blows. Finally the priest phoned his old friend. ''What a pity," he said. ''Here we are, both men of the cloth, fighting over politics." ''It's true," said the minister. ''We're both Christians. We both worship the same God -- you in your way, and I in His."

America, which separated church and state precisely to protect the private right to worship, has long had its share of religious absolutists who have wanted to harness the power of the state to their own view of revealed truth. But never before in our history has the government deliberately and cynically intervened on the side of the zealots.

President Bush, Tom DeLay, Bill Frist, and company are playing with serious fire. As the joke suggests, there is no challenging revealed truth. That's why the state stays neutral.

What's under siege here is nothing less than the Enlightenment. Please recall that what we benignly remember as the Renaissance coexisted with centuries of vicious religious persecution -- Christians persecuting heretics like Galileo, expelling and slaughtering Muslims and Jews, then doing bloody battle with each other following the Protestant Reformation.

The philosophers of the Enlightenment were men of science who understood that faith could not be disputed but that reason could be subjected to the test of logic and evidence. The American Revolution was a triple triumph -- for political democracy, religious tolerance, and for the free inquiry demanded by the scientific method.

Today's religious extremists are not only trying to use the state, with all its power, as religious proselytizer. They oppose science when it happens to conflict with their version of revealed truth. They twist history to claim that the Republic's freethinking Founders, like Jefferson, Adams, and Madison, were really theocrats like themselves. They long for the predemocratic world of absolutes circa 1500.

Although proponents of state sponsorship of ''faith-based" activities claim that all faiths are equally eligible, the politically dominant soon attempt to dictate the approved faith. Leon Wieseltier has observed, ''It is never long before one nation under God gives way to one God under a nation."


Kerry: ‘Administration Abandons Small Contractors’

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

WASHINGTON -- Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), Ranking Member of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today called on the Bush administration and the head of the Small Business Administration (SBA) to start ensuring small businesses receive their fair share of federal contracts.

“The deck has been stacked against small businesses so large corporations have an unfair advantage when it comes to competing for federal contracts, and the administration must start ensuring small businesses have a chance at their fair share of the $300 billion federal pie,” said Kerry.

In December 2004, the SBA Office of Advocacy released a report finding that 39 large corporations in 2002 received over $2 billion in contracts that the Administration mistakenly counted as small business contracts. Although the problems that caused $2 billion in false reporting still exist today, Administrator Barreto refuses to audit the problem -- preventing small businesses from getting their share of contracts as required by law.

“Administrator Barreto boasts that the Administration surpassed its small-business contracting goal for the very first time in 2003. That would be something to applaud, if accurate. There is compelling evidence that those claims are wrong. If so, small businesses may have lost out on billions in contracts,” Kerry added.

Recently, the Administration also ignored requests by small-business leaders and Kerry to remove an anti-small business provision slipped into the emergency supplemental appropriations for Iraq and Afghanistan. The provision gives special treatment to the Department of Energy to count subcontracts toward their small-business prime contracting goals yet doesn’t increase the agency’s total small-business contracting goals.

“It is disappointing that the White House chose to ignore numerous requests from small businesses to weigh in on this harmful provision and protect our nation’s small contractors,” Kerry said.

To address the concerns of the small-business community and to continue his efforts to support the nation’s entrepreneurs, Sen. Kerry has reintroduced his Small Business Federal Contractor Safeguard Act, S.137, to expand protections for small businesses with federal contracts. In addition, Sen. Kerry has repeatedly called on the administration to implement the women’s procurement program that became law in December of 2000. Currently, women-owned small businesses make up 30 percent of all business, yet receive just 3 percent of all federal contract dollars.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Bush Gets Man-Date

I Want To Hold Your Hand

Oh, yeah, I'll tell you somethin' I think you'll understand
When I say that somethin' I want to hold your hand
I want to hold your hand
I want to hold your hand

Oh, please say to me you'll let me be your man
And please say to me you'll let me hold your hand
Now let me hold your hand
I want to hold your hand

And when I touch you I feel happy inside
It's such a feelin' that my love I can't hide
I can't hide
I can't hide

Yeah, you've got that somethin' I think you'll understand
When I say that somethin' I want to hold your hand
I want to hold your hand
I want to hold your hand

And when I touch you I feel happy inside
It's such a feelin' that my love I can't hide
I can't hide
I can't hide

Yeah, you've got that somethin' I think you'll understand
When I feel that somethin' I want to hold your hand
I want to hold your hand
I want to hold your hand
I want to hold your hand

Individualism vs. Republican Social Conservativism

The contradictory beliefs of more traditional small government conservatives and the religious right, which promotes a government which is more intrusive in individual's lives, is bound to cause problems for conservatives In The New Republic Andrew Sullivan warns that:
unless the religious presence within Republicanism becomes less dogmatic and fundamentalist, the conservative coalition as we have known it cannot long endure. Advocates for government restraint cannot, in good conscience, keep supporting a party that believes in its own God-given mission to change people's souls. Believers in fiscal discipline cannot keep backing an administration that boasts of its huge spending increases and has no intention of changing.
Sullivan doesn't think this will necessarily lead to an end of Republican dominance of the government, but there are areas where the Republican electoral strategy is in danger. The Los Angeles Times warns that the social conservativism of the South is incompatible with the individualism of the west. They note that "The social conservatism that keeps the South red may not be enough for the West. Old-fashioned individual liberty and Democratic populism are getting a hearing."

Loss of the west could eliminate the GOP's advantage with thier lock on the south:
Wyoming, Montana, New Mexico and Arizona have elected Democratic governors, as have the swing states of Oregon and Washington. Democrats picked up a House seat and a Senate seat in Colorado and won both houses of the Legislature. Democrats took the Montana Legislature to go along with their new chief executive.

Even in the presidential contest, Democrat John Kerry had strong showings in New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado. If they had gone to Kerry instead of George W. Bush, Kerry would have won. . .
Rather than trying to sound more like the religious right on the so-called moral issues, Democrats might be better if they did a better job of differentiating themselves from the Republicans in supporting individual liberty and opposing the Republican support of bigger government and more intrusion in individual's lives. With the Republicans in control of all three branches of government, the traditional mistrust of government seen in the west should be easy to turn against the Republicans.

Kerry Statement Today on Energy Dependence

"President Bush's meeting today with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah is a stark reminder of our country's dangerous dependence on foreign oil, and how much that dependence threatens our national security.

"America is growing more - not less - dependant on foreign oil, and our dependence on foreign oil is shortchanging our goals in the war on terror. Even if oil miraculously drops to $30 a barrel, over the next 25 years the U.S. will send over 3 trillion American dollars out of the country, much of it to regimes that don't share our values. In the past Hamas received almost half of its funding from Saudi Arabia. We know al Qaeda has relied on prominent Saudis for financing. And Saudi Arabia sponsors clerics who promote the ideology of terror.

"We can no longer allow America's dependence on foreign oil to compromise our energy security. Instead, we must invest in inventing new ways to power our cars and our economy. I'll put my faith in American science and ingenuity any day before I depend on Saudi Arabia.

"The administration's energy policy works for Saudi Arabia, it works for big oil and gas companies, but it doesn't work for the American people. The president's energy bill, by his own admission, does nothing to lower gas prices; will increase oil imports by 85% by 2025; and 95% of the tax benefits in the package - over $8 billion - go directly into the pockets of big oil and gas companies.

"Jawboning OPEC nations to increase production is short-term solution to a long-running problem. We need to invest in America's energy future - not Saudi Arabia's - and the only way to do that is to reduce our dependence on foreign oil."

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Dean the Moderate

Howard Dean attracted considerable support from the left in his campaign for the 2004 nomination despite being a rather moderate Democrat. It looks like some on the left are finally catching on to this as the Progressive Democrats of America have criticized his stand on Iraq:
Howard Dean recently stated regarding Iraq, "Now that we're there, we're there and we can't get out." While Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) honors and respects Governor Dean's effort to expand, empower, and energize the Democratic Party grassroots base, and further respects his engagement of small contributors and individual activists, we take strong exception to Governor Dean's statements on Iraq.
Of course those of us backing Kerry over Dean could have warned the leftists all along that Dean was not one of them.

Bush Administration Retaliates Against Kerry Supporters, Violating Principles of Democracy

It was bad enough when Richard Nixon had his enemies list. Now George Bush is proving John Dean was right in declaring the Bush administration to be Worse Than Watergate. Under Bush, even businessmen who contributed to John Kerry are considered enemies.

Georgte Bush ran for President in 2000 claiming to be a uniter, not a divider before becoming one of the most divisive Presidents in history. He once again shows that he does not consider himself to be President of all the people--only those who support him. Our democracy has worked because of the ability to unite following an election, along with checks and balances to prevent one party from moving in an extreme direction. These checks and balances have broken down as this has been just the latest example of the anti-democratic practices of the Bush administration and allies in Congress.

Since the Republicans have tanen over, we have seen:

  • A breakdown of the checks and balances in Congress, as even Republican committee chairs who deviate from the party line are removed
  • Pressure placed upon K Street to have businesses only contribute to Republicans, or face a loss of thier contacts in government
  • Attacks on the judicial system, as even Republican-dominated courts are considered too liberal when they attempt to uphold the Constitution against the extremism of the current GOP leadership
  • Town hall meetings paid for by taxpayers to discuss government policy, where only Bush supporters are allowed
  • This latest act where supporters of John Kerry are excluded from discussion of telecommunications standards, as reported below:

The Bush Administration punishes some Democrat backers

print articleemail a friendSave this ArticleMost PopularSubscribe Sunday, Apr. 24, 2005
The Inter-American Telecommunication Commission meets three times a year in various cities across the Americas to discuss such dry but important issues as telecommunications standards and spectrum regulations. But for this week's meeting in Guatemala City, politics has barged onto the agenda. At least four of the two dozen or so U.S. delegates selected for the meeting, sources tell TIME, have been bumped by the White House because they supported John Kerry's 2004 campaign.

The State Department has traditionally put together a list of industry representatives for these meetings, and anyone in the U.S. telecom industry who had the requisite expertise and wanted to go was generally given a slot, say past participants. Only after the start of Bush's second term did a political litmus test emerge, industry sources say.

The White House admits as much: "We wanted people who would represent the Administration positively, and--call us nutty--it seemed like those who wanted to kick this Administration out of town last November would have some difficulty doing that," says White House spokesman Trent Duffy. Those barred from the trip include employees of Qualcomm and Nokia, two of the largest telecom firms operating in the U.S., as well as Ibiquity, a digital-radio-technology company in Columbia, Md. One nixed participant, who has been to many of these telecom meetings and who wants to remain anonymous, gave just $250 to the Democratic Party. Says Nokia vice president Bill Plummer: "We do not view sending experts to international meetings on telecom issues to be a partisan matter. We would welcome clarification from the White House."

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Will This Be The Last Straw For DeLay?

Things are looking worse and worse for Tom DeLay. Here's the latest:

DeLay Airfare Was Charged To Lobbyist's Credit Card

By R. Jeffrey Smith
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 24, 2005; Page A01

The airfare to London and Scotland in 2000 for then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) was charged to an American Express card issued to Jack Abramoff, a Washington lobbyist at the center of a federal criminal and tax probe, according to two sources who know Abramoff's credit card account number and to a copy of a travel invoice displaying that number.

DeLay's expenses during the same trip for food, phone calls and other items at a golf course hotel in Scotland were billed to a different credit card also used on the trip by a second registered Washington lobbyist, Edwin A. Buckham, according to receipts documenting that portion of the trip.

House ethics rules bar lawmakers from accepting travel and related expenses from registered lobbyists. DeLay, who is now House majority leader, has said that his expenses on this trip were paid by a nonprofit organization and that the financial arrangements for it were proper. He has also said he had no way of knowing that any lobbyist might have financially supported the trip, either directly or through reimbursements to the nonprofit organization.

The documents obtained by The Washington Post, including receipts for his hotel stays in Scotland and London and billings for his golfing during the trip at the famed St. Andrews course in Scotland, substantiate for the first time that some of DeLay's expenses on the trip were billed to charge cards used by the two lobbyists. The invoice for DeLay's plane fare lists the name of what was then Abramoff's lobbying firm, Preston Gates & Ellis.


Republicans Continue To Push Dishonest View of 2004 Election

Not only did the Republicans win with a campaign based upon dirty tactics ranging from dishonesty in describing their own policies to greatly distorting Kerry's proposals and record, to outright voter suppression, but now they try to cover up their deceptions. Today the Williamsport Sun-Gazette takes issue with recent statements from John Kerry regarding Republican dirty tricks. They claim that Democrats lost not due to Republican tricks:
"We would suggest an alternative explanation for Democrats' electoral troubles at the national level: They've jumped off the left end, openly rejected mainstream American values, devoted themselves to blaming America first in foreign affairs and embraced high-tax, high-spend economics."
It is remarkable how many deceptions they sneak into this paragraph alone! Let's look at them one by one:
  • "Democrats' electoral troubles at the national level" This is a common tactic of Republicans, claiming greater support and success, dating at least back to the days of Richard Nixon claiming support of the "silent majority" prior to being forced from office. Their claims of major electoral troubles are greatly exaggerated. George Bush won reelection by a remarkably small margin for an incumbent President, especially during war time. Republicans would have lost House seats if not for their redistricting shenanegans. Republicans did better in the Senate, but primarily by taking Democratic seats in red states as a long process of realignment has continued.

  • "They've jumped off the left end" It is Republicans who won by moving to the extremes, successfully bringing out far more people on the right than anticipated, allowing them to win despite Kerry's greater support among both liberals and moderates. While Republicans may have won the vote, a majority of voters supported Democrats' positions on virtually every position polled. Republicans try to paint their opponents as being far more liberal than they really are, such as when they claimed that Kerry was ranked the number one most liberal Senator, when his overall record was actually at number eleven.

  • "openly rejected mainstream American values" Most likely a code word for not engaging in the gay bashing which helped bring right wingers to the polls. Despite opposition to gay marriage, the general public overall is becoming more tolerant of gays, including support for civil unions--the position held by John Kerry. It is the Republicans who are opposing the principles American was founded on including separation of powers and separation of church and state. They violate American values as they support greater governmental intrusion in people's oppose successful programs such as Medicare and Social Security.

  • "devoted themselves to blaming America first in foreign affairs" A fiction to hide the fact that Republican are clueless as to the real problems we face, with phoney claims that we were attacked on 9/11 because al Qaeda hates us for our freedom, and all the lies to get us into an unnecessary war (while failing to adequately take on terrorism).

  • "embraced high-tax, high-spend economics" It is the Republicans who have run up a record deficit while the Democrats advocated a pay as you go policy. The only high taxes the Republicans care about is having any taxes at all on the ultra-wealthy. The Republicans attempted to reduce taxes for the wealthy alone until the Democrats insisted upon the middle class tax cut. From John Kerry to Howard Dean, Democrats are now led by fiscal conservatives who realize that the only thing worse then higher taxes and higher spending is higher borrowing and higher spending.

Kerry: Bush, EPA fail the public on mercury In Earth Day visit, calls for tougher pollution laws

Kerry: Bush, EPA fail the public on mercury In Earth Day visit, calls for tougher pollution laws

LOWELL -- With the Merrimack River glimmering in the background, Sen. John Kerry yesterday chided the Bush administration and the Environmental Protection Agency for weakening its stance against mercury pollution.

“You can't talk about a culture of life in one breath and turn around and poison our children with the next,” Kerry told a small crowd, including several environmental youth groups, on the riverfront behind the Tsongas Arena.

Kerry's remarks came during an event celebrating the 35th anniversary of Earth Day,
which featured several speakers addressing mercury contamination in the Merrimack Valley and the related health risks.

According to Merrimack River Watershed Council President Elizabeth Coughlin, the Department of Agriculture in a March 8 report identified the Merrimack Valley as one of nine “hot spots” in North America for mercury contamination in its waterways.

The pollution emanates from coal- and oil-fueled power plants locally and throughout the Midwest. Mercury falls into Massachusetts' rivers, lakes and streams when
it rains, poisoning wildlife and making fish unsafe to consume, particularly for pregnant women and children.

Dr. David Bellinger, of Children's Hospital in Boston, said high levels of mercury have been found to contribute to mental retardation and cerebral palsy in infants, create learning disabilities in young children, and affect the adult cardio-vascular system.

“The current approach is for people to limit their consumption of fish,” Bellinger said. “What we need is to stop mercury from getting into the fish so people can make choices based on what they like to eat.”

Kerry agreed, calling for a renewed effort to make choices that will help save the environment.

“It's a real problem in our country today that parents can't take their kids fishing and, if they're lucky enough to catch something, bring it home to eat,” Kerry said.

The senator criticized President Bush's environmental policies from logging to air- and water-quality standards, but singled out the EPA for issuing revised guidelines last month on mercury pollution.

new EPA rule walks away from the more stringent regulations set forth in a similar 2000 plan, by extending the time frame under which mercury pollution will be curtailed, Kerry said.

He also hammered the agency for lying to the American public, explaining that the EPA had disregarded a Harvard University study commissioned by the government that found great health benefits in stricter emission standards.

“We need to take this Earth Day and recommit to going into the community and reconnecting with these important issues,” Kerry said. “We need to make these voting issues again.”

Matt Murphy's e-mail address is

Friday, April 22, 2005

Kerry Introduces Bill To Help Home Owners

John Kerry has co-sponsored yet another bill with Republicans, perhaps showing how he might have worked with the Republican Congress to promote progressive goals if elected:

NAR Applauds Senate Introduction of Homeownership Tax Credit Bill
Friday April 22, 11:08 am ET

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--April 22, 2005--The National Association of Realtors® praised U.S. Sens. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.), John Kerry (D-Mass.) and four other senators of both parties for introducing this week the Community Development Homeownership Tax Credit Act, S. 859, which would help as many as 50,000 families a year achieve the American dream of homeownership. Companion legislation known as the Renewing the Dream Tax Credit Act, H.R. 1549, was introduced in the House last week by Reps. Tom Reynolds (R-N.Y.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.).

Modeled after the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, the legislation is expected to generate nearly $2 billion in private investment annually for the construction and/or rehabilitation of approximately 50,000 homes for sale to lower-income families. The credit is also expected to produce 122,000 construction and related jobs, $4 billion in wages and $2 billion in federal, state and local tax revenue. The program would provide investors with a tax credit of up to 50 percent of the cost of developing each home.

The bill is similar to legislation that was introduced in both the House and Senate last session and gained the support of a bipartisan majority of Congress. The homeownership tax credit also enjoys the strong support of President Bush. NAR is part of a coalition of over 40 housing and community organizations that back the measure.

"The homeownership tax credit will help thousands of families a year purchase a home by bridging the gap between the development cost and the price at which these homes can be sold in many lower-income communities," said NAR President Al Mansell, CEO of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Salt Lake City. "As Realtors®, we're committed to helping every family achieve the American dream of homeownership. We look forward to working with Congress and the administration to enact homeownership tax credit legislation this year."

The National Association of Realtors®, "The Voice for Real Estate," is America's largest trade association, representing more than 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

Information about NAR is available at This and other news releases are posted in the Web site's "News Media" section in the NAR Media Center.

The Jerry Seinfled Theory of Voting Republican

The players change, the manager changes, the ballpark changes. About the only thing that stays the same is the uniform. When you get down to it, what you're really rooting for is the shirt." --Jerry Seinfeld

Jerry Seinfeld's observations on baseball remind me a lot of current politics. While many long-time Republicans supported John Kerry in 2004, realizing his views are more in accordance with their underlying values than the extremist views of the neoconservatives currently in control of the Republican party, many people continued to vote Republican. Obviously the players have changed. The "ballpark" has also changed--in this case the underlying viewpoints. While there are no uniforms, what they were really rooting for was just the party name.

On foreign policy, imagine if a Democrat had taken office receiving specific warnings from the previous administration about a foreign threat and ignored it, and then continued to ignore continuing warnings about an impending attack. In the old days, Republicans would have been all over such incompetence, not voting to reelect the administration based upon national security concerns.

True Republicans would respect the military service of John Kerry, not attack it in order to make the record of someone such as George Bush who avoided his responsibilities appear less objectionable.

The modern conservative movement often refers to the Goldwater take-over of the GOP in 1964 as their start, forgetting how Barry Goldwater was a major opponent of their new allies on the religious right. Republicans who in the past promised to get government off our backs now support a government which has become more intrusive in individual's lives.

Republicans warned about deficits and big government in the past, Bill Clinton announced that the era of big government is over, and left office with a surplus. George Bush brought back both deficits and big government. Corporate welfare has replaced their support for free enterprise.

Republicans oppose the current judges, forgetting most were appointed by Republicans. For example, according to the Los Angeles Times, "Ninety-four of the 162 active judges now on the U.S. Court of Appeals were chosen by Republican presidents. On 10 of the 13 circuit courts, Republican appointees have a clear majority. And, since 1976, at least seven of the nine seats on the U.S. Supreme Court have been filled by Republican appointees." Similarly Republicans have forgotten their old support for Federalism on issues ranging from the Terri Schiavo case to tort reform.

If Republicans had cool uniforms, maybe Jerry Seinfeld's ideas on baseball would apply to voting Republican. Unfortunately, not only have they abandoned their values, they don't even have uniforms. Observing the Bush administration, a better analogy would be to say that the emperor wears no clothes.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Kerry's Senate Floor Statement on the Nuclear Option

John Kerry on Republican Congressional Leadership's Failure To Focus on Real Priorities of the American People

Below are the remarks of Senator John Kerry on the Senate floor this afternoon.

Senator John Kerry Washington's Broken: The Nuclear Option April 21, 2005 Remarks As Prepared for Delivery Senate Floor

Mr. President, the Republican “nuclear option” has been discussed endlessly on editorial pages, talk radio, and in this chamber. This ongoing debate is about much more than Senate procedure. At its core it’s a debate about where we’re headed and what kind of nation we want to become. And beneath it are questions about Washington, which seems headed in a direction that clashes with the will of the American people.

The fact we even are talking about this issue is a stark reminder that Washington is not fighting for the broad interests of the American people. From the outside looking in, our Democracy appears broken - endangered by one party rule intent on amassing power, often at the expense of real work the American people elected us to do.

In recent weeks alone we have witnessed as disturbing a course of events as I have ever seen in this city. Republican leaders of Congress are crossing lines that should never be crossed:

The line that says a leader in the House of Representatives should never carelessly threaten or intimidate federal judges. The line that says the leader of the Senate should never accuse those who disagree with his political tactics of waging a war against people of faith. The line that says respect for core constitutional principles should never be undermined by a political party’s quest for power. Most important of all, the line that says a political party’s leaders should never let their thirst for power overshadow the needs and interests of those who elected them - the American people.

It’s almost hard to believe that in a Congress where leaders of both parties once worked together to find common ground despite ideological differences, we face this moment at all.

Yesterday, when Jim Jeffords announced his retirement, I remembered a very different Washington that Jim’s words captured so eloquently almost four years ago. He spoke of a political tradition where leaders represented their states first. “They spoke their minds,” he said, “often to the dismay of their party leaders…and did their best to guide this city in the direction of our fundamental principles.”

My distinguished colleague, Senator Voinovich, had the courage to respect that tradition earlier this week, but such acts of courage, sadly, are increasingly rare. And I want to talk about this for just a minute. Senator Voinovich is being vilified on talk radio and the Internet for having the audacity to say he wanted more time and more testimony. Senator Voinovich did not say he planned to vote against the president’s nominee; he just said he wants to make an informed decision on a matter of great importance. That doesn’t seem so controversial, but my distinguished colleague, Senator Chafee said he had never seen such an act as Senator Voinovich’s in his four years in Washington.

Before the era of C-SPAN and 24-hour news and the World Wide Web, Senators showed courage and independence all the time. Senators did not think twice about acting on their conscience ahead of partisanship. Today, Senator Voinovich is subjected to widespread denigration in partisan circles, when Americans should really admire and respect his independence.

Open your eyes and look at what’s happening right now in Congress and you're quickly reminded that the people who run Washington have lost touch with the mainstream values and priorities of the American people.

What does it tell you when an embattled House Majority Leader is willing to go on talk radio and attack a Supreme Court Justice, let alone one appointed by Ronald Reagan and confirmed by a nearly unanimous Senate? A justice who ruled in favor of President Bush in Bush v. Gore. Ronald Reagan’s nominee to the highest court in the land can’t even escape Tom DeLay’s partisan assaults, and yet here on the floor of the Senate there’s no outcry - no moderating Republican voice willing to say this shocking attack has no place in our democracy.

I guess none of this should be a surprise - not after we learned what the Majority leader has planned this Sunday. The Majority Leader plans to headline a religious service devoted to defeating, I quote, a “filibuster against people of faith.” When the Leader of the Senate questions the faith of any Senator who opposes his procedural changes to Senate, he goes beyond endangering rules that protect the cherished rights of the minority in our democracy.

Make no mistake: this may be an isolated issue, but the rights of the minority are fundamental to our democracy, and diluting those rights would be a threat to our democracy.

Mr. President, forces outside the mainstream now seem to effortlessly push Republican leaders toward conduct the American people don't want from their elected leaders: Abusing power. Inserting the government into our private lives. Injecting religion into debates about public policy. Jumping through hoops to ingratiate themselves to their party’s base, while step by step, day by day, real problems that keep American families up at night fall by the wayside here in Washington.

Congress, Washington, and our democracy itself are being tested. We each have to ask ourselves, will we let this continue?

Will Republicans in the House continue spending the people’s time defending Tom DeLay, or will they get back to defending America? Will Republican Senators let their silence endorse Senator Frist’s appeal to religious division, or will they put principle ahead of partisanship, refuse to follow him across that line, and instead heal the wounds of this institution and begin addressing the countless challenges facing our nation?

It’s time to come together to fulfill our fundamental obligations to our soldiers and military families, who have sacrificed so much. It’s time to bring down gas prices and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. It’s time to find the common ground to cover the 11 million children in this country living without health insurance.

Are we really willing to allow Washington to become a place where they can rewrite the ethics rules to protect Tom DeLay - and then sell out the ethics of the American people by refusing to rewrite the law to provide health care to every child in America?

Are we really willing to allow the Senate to fall in line with the Majority Leader when he invokes faith to rewrite Senate rules to put substandard, extremist judges on the bench?

It’s not up to any one of us to tell another colleague what to believe as a matter of faith.

But I can tell you what I believe: When tens of thousands of innocent souls have perished in Darfur-when 11 million children are without health insurance-when our colossal debt subjects our economic future to the whims of Asian bankers-no one can tell me that faith demands this Senate spend its time arguing over a handful of judges. No one with those priorities can use my faith intimidate me.

It’s time we make it clear that we’re not willing to lay down and put this narrow, stubborn agenda ahead of our families, ahead of our Constitution, and ahead of our values.

The elected leadership in Washington owes the American people better than this. We must hold elected officials accountable and demand that Washington does the people’s business.

What’s at stake is far more than the loss of civility, or the sacrifice of bipartisanship. What’s at stake are our values as a country - like respecting the rights of the minority, separation of church and state, honesty and responsibility.

Every one of us knows there’s no crisis in confirming judicial nominations when over 90% of the president’s nominees have already been confirmed.

No, what’s at stake is something far greater - a struggle between a great political tradition in the United States that seeks common ground so we can do the common good - and a new ethic that, on any given issue, will use any means to justify the end of absolute victory over whatever and whoever stands in the way.

A new view that says if you don’t like the facts, just change them; if you can’t win playing by the rules, just rewrite them. A new view that says if you can’t win a debate on the strength of your argument, demonize your opponents. A new view that says it’s ok to ignore the overwhelming public interest as long as you can get away with it.

For what? For a so-called ‘nuclear option’ that seeks to put extreme, substandard judges on the federal bench against the will of the American people.

Why? Is it worth undermining our democracy on behalf of Priscilla Owens, who took contributions from Enron and Halliburton and ruled in their favor? Is it worth this distraction from the people’s business to confirm Charles Pickering, who fought against implementing the Voting Rights Act and manipulated the judicial system to reduce the sentence of a convicted cross-burner? Is it worth throwing out 200 years of Senate tradition to defend William Myers, Janice Rogers Brown and Bill Pryor, whom numerous members of the impartial American Bar Association deemed unqualified?

Mr. President, the fact that we even have to debate a nuclear option over these judges tells you this is all about one party rule and its quest for unchallenged power. It’s time to put Americans back in control of their own lives - and put Washington back on their side. It’s time get Washington under control, and that starts by restoring some accountability.

Accountability for all the false promises - like the failure to move toward energy independence. The truth is we’re more dependent on foreign oil than ever before, and Americans are suffering, paying $2.35 a gallon.

Accountability for breaking faith with military families, who unnecessarily struggle to pay the bills and deal with lost benefits when loved ones are called to duty.

Accountability for the fiscal insanity, for the record deficits, for the mounting debts that cede dangerous amount of control over America’s economic future to central bankers in Asia and oil cartels in the Middle East. That’s a debate we owe the American people.

Accountability for the 44 million Americans without health care, and middle class Americans one doctor’s bill away from bankruptcy, and especially the eleven million children - sons and daughters of working parents - without any health care at all.

That’s what the American people are willing to see Washington debate with passion. People are tired of politicians passionately seeking power and not much else. Americans sent us here to struggle with important questions - like how we make our great country stronger, or how we bring Americans together around our shared values without driving Americans farther apart.

We continue to witness a sad decline in the quality of our debate and a coarsening of dialogue in American politics. It’s not what our Founding Fathers envisioned, but, worse than that, it’s not what the American people expect of their leaders. We need to change it. We must at long last begin restoring what the American people want and haven’t had for far too long - a Washington that works for them.

Join the discussion of Kerry's Senate activities, and video message, at Light Up The Darkness

Kerry Video Emailed to Supporters

There are moments in our work together when it's important to step back, look each other in the eye, and decide what we need to do next.

This is one of those moments.

The Republican Party's leaders have set America on an extraordinarily dangerous path. We are no longer just debating the merits of one policy over another. It's far more fundamental than that. The far right seems set on a path that challenges the fundamentals of how we make our democracy work best for all of us. I can't literally sit in your living room and talk about what's going on and how we need to rise to the occasion. So, I've chosen the next best thing, recording a video message that I hope each and every member of the community will take the time to watch.

It's essential for us to come together right now because, every day, Republican leaders are crossing lines that should never be crossed:

  • The line that says a leader in the House of Representatives should never carelessly threaten or intimidate federal judges.
  • The line that says a leader in the Senate should never accuse those who disagree with his political tactics of waging a war against people of faith.
  • The line that says respect for core constitutional principles should never be undermined by a political party's quest for power.
  • And, most important of all, the line that says a political party's leaders should never let their obsession with amassing power overwhelm the needs and interests of America's families.

The enclosed video message addresses the vitally important moment that our nation has reached. Decisions are about to be made that will shape America's future. I urge you to take a few minutes to watch the video -- and to forward it to your friends. But, most of all, I encourage you to join with the entire community in committing yourself to acting to give voice to our values in the critical days ahead and holding Republicans in Washington accountable.


John Kerry

Increased Pharmaceutical Freedom in Canada

Two changes in regulations related to medications in Canada of note:

Canada has approved a cannibabis-based painkiller for people with multiple sclerosis. This makes Canada the first country in the world to approve a medication similar to marijuana.

While we are having problems in the United States of pharmacists refusing to dispense contraceptives, Canada is moving in the opposite direction, making it easier to receive the "morning after" pill by making them available without a prescription.

Kerry: Don't tell me what God wants

From the Boston Herald:

Kerry: Don't tell me what God wants

By Noelle Straub
Thursday, April 21, 2005 - Updated: 03:55 AM EST

WASHINGTON - Sen. John F. Kerry yesterday attacked Republicans for having an ``orthodoxy of view'' and overly inserting religion into politics, accusing them of using God as a justification for appointing conservative judges.
``I am sick and tired of a bunch of people trying to tell me that God wants a bunch of conservative judges on the court and that's why we have to change the rules of the United States Senate,'' Kerry told a group of Bay State residents who traveled to Capitol Hill for U.S. Rep. Martin Meehan's annual legislative seminar.
The Bay State senator was referring to a possible GOP move to alter Senate rules that would prevent Democrats from filibustering President Bush's judicial nominees.
``I am sick and tired of (them saying) they somehow have a better understanding of Christianity, of the Judeo-Christian ethic, of values,'' Kerry added. ``We're talking about values? You show me where in the New Testament Jesus ever talked about the value of having taxes and taking money from poor people to give to the rich people in this country.''
The Bay State senator added that the Christian values and Catholic church he grew up with ``was a church of universality and understanding and true freedom of conscience'' and that there was never this kind of ``imposition of values'' into politics.
Quoting the Biblical line that ``faith without works is dead,'' Kerry cited budget cuts to schools, literacy programs and Medicaid as distorted values.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Kerry Before Senate on Gas Prices and Energy Dependence

“Mr. President, once again today President Bush will talk about the rising cost of gas hurting Americans at the pump - and he’ll talk about our dangerous dependence on foreign oil.

“The issue today is not that the President doesn’t understand the problem, it’s that he has no solutions. Just last weekend President Bush used his radio address to urge Americans to support his energy legislation. He said, ‘American families and small businesses across the country are feeling the pinch from rising gas prices.’ President Bush is right that families are struggling; he’s wrong about the energy bill.

“The energy plan he continues to campaign for will make us more dependent on foreign oil, it will keep gas prices at record highs instead of making them affordable for consumers, and it will make our air and water more polluted instead of investing in a cleaner future.

“Mr. President, we need honest leadership and sound solutions to solve this very real energy crisis. This crisis affects our economy, our security, and our environment.

“The President’s status quo energy policies are hurting consumers at the pump, and no amount of tax payer funded, campaign style events can cover it up, because the evidence is posted on signs at every gas station in America. Americans are paying an average of $2.28/gallon at the pump. That’s up six cents in just the last week and over 50 cents in the last year. For the fourth week in a row gas prices are at an all-time high, and have now increased a staggering 56% since 2001.

“A recent Gallup survey revealed that 44% of Americans believe it’s ‘extremely important for Congress and the President to address gas prices.’ But you only need to look at the legislation promoted by the President and set to be voted on in the House this week to see that yet again Washington isn’t doing the work of the American people.

“Under this Administration, higher gas prices cost American consumers an extra $34 billion. Airlines, truckers and farmers spent an extra $20 billion last year alone. That’s a regressive energy tax on the backs of working Americans if I’ve ever seen one.

“But the Administration’s friends got off a lot easier, and this energy bill will make their load even lighter. While American workers and families were struggling, oil companies earned record profits in the fourth quarter of 2004: ExxonMobil up 218%, ConocoPhillips up 145%, Shell up 51%, ChevronTexaco up 39% and BP up 35%. What’s the President proposing? Just think about this: Ninety-five percent of the tax benefits included in the package - more than 8 billion dollars - goes directly into the pockets of big oil and gas companies. At a time when oil prices are at historic highs, our energy policy should be aimed at investing in new and renewable sources of energy, not lining the pockets of big special interests.

“What’s good for is the Administration’s contributors has not been good for our economy. Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan has said, ‘Markets for oil and natural gas have been subject to a degree of strain over the past year not experienced for a generation.’ The Chairman of the President’s own Council of Economic Advisors has admitted, ‘High energy prices are now a drag on our economy.’

“The problem goes even deeper. The Administration’s failure to propose a real energy policy also threatens our national security. We are more dependent on foreign oil than ever before, forcing us to into dangerous and compromising political entanglements with nations in the Middle East. America will never be fully secure until we free ourselves from the noose of foreign oil.

“Unfortunately, this so-called energy plan does nothing to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. But don’t just take my word for it - the President’s own economists found that oil imports will actually increase 85% by 2025 under a proposal like this. The President’s economists also found that ‘changes to production, consumption, imports, and prices are negligible.’ You don’t have to be an expert on oil or energy to understand this, you just have to able to count to figure out that God only gave us 3% of the worlds’ oil reserves - Saudi Arabia has 65% of them - we can’t drill our way to energy independence, we have to invent our way there.

“Mr. President, this energy bill isn’t even a band-aid on a very real energy crisis that threatens our economy and hurts our national security. About the only thing it does well is fatten the coffers of big energy companies. There is a reason Senator McCain, called the energy bill the ‘No Lobbyist Left Behind Act.’

“What kind of message do these policies send? If your profits go up, so do your subsidies. If the policy makes us more dependent on foreign oil, make the status quo even worse.

“Mr. President, we should be doing better than this. Energy policy gives us a rare chance to address so many challenges at once.

“If we end our dependence on foreign oil, we strengthen our national security.

“If we lead the world in inventing new energy technologies, we create thousands of high-paying American jobs.

“If we learn to tap clean sources of energy, we preserve a clean environment for our families and future generations.

“If we remove the burden of high gas prices, American consumers can spend elsewhere and give our economy the boost it needs.

“Unfortunately, this energy bill accomplishes none of these goals. Instead, it is laden with handouts to corporate special interests. When it comes to real energy policy, President Bush has run out of gas. The solutions to our energy crisis are staring us in the face, yet we continue to ignore them.

“Mr. President, it is long since time Washington came together on real energy policy -- to Americans who are suffering the consequences of Washington’s failure, we owe more than staged events to promote policies that don’t hold the answers.”

The Economic Costs of Suppressing Science

First Read reports on the controversy in Kansas over teaching of evolution versus intelligent design, and we see more signs of friction between the goals of the pro-business aspects of the GOP and the religious right. Apparently some people realize there is more money to be made in promoting science, and its marketable products, than in suppressing science to pander to the religious right:

Lawrence, KS-based investor and "self-employed businessman" John Burch will convene a meeting in his hometown tomorrow to lay out a case that this revived debate over the teaching of intelligent design versus evolutionary biology not only sends the wrong message to potential investors in Kansas bioscience, but that phasing out the teaching of evolution will deprive Kansas students of the education they need to go work in that industry.

"It's not a religious issue, it's an economic issue," Burch tells First Read, noting that the initiative includes 40,000 new jobs. He wants to see if "this age-old debate," as he calls it, "can be reframed as an economic workforce issue." Burch seems to be trying to sidestep the actual evolution-vs.-intelligent design argument by saying that the teaching of creationism "has nothing to do with the needs of Kansas science students if they're going to be part of the workforce in the bioscience economy."

Burch's meeting tomorrow will feature speakers who favor the teaching of evolution, including the head of the Kansas science standards curriculum revision committee and a rep for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, whereas the board of education hearings in Topeka in early May will feature experts who favor the teaching of intelligent design. Supporters of evolution are boycotting those hearings.

Republican Health Care Proposals Worsen the Problem

Health Savings Accounts have become the major Republican proposal for changing health care as they attempt to eliminate the system of employer-paid health coverage while being unwilling to consider increased governmental involvement as occurs in most of the developed world. Their real goal is to relieve supporters in business of their current health care expenses.

John Kerry was actually sympathetic to the problems faced by businesses, and aware of how this reduces American competitiveness. While Kerry's health care plan sought to reduce the burdens faced by businesses while expanding health care coverage, Republican proposals are directed purely at saving money for businessmen.

Previously Republicans attempted to reduce health care costs for business by encouraging movement towards HMO's, which were changed from a method of providing health care to a scheme to allow businesses to pay less on health care. As this HMO model has been found to be both economical inefficient and to be a poor method of delivering quality care (especially in the Medicare population, where Republicans continue to push for HMO's), Republicans were forced to go back to the drawing board and develop the HSA idea.

The Commonwealth Fund has published a review of the Republican proposal for Health Savings Accounts, finding that they provide little benefit for the uninsured, who will not receive sufficient tax benefits to make health care affordable, and are likely to exacerbate current problems as they "undermine the entire structure of job-based coverage among small firms."

We looked at earlier studies of problems with HSA's in January, showing the likelihood that this will lead to people avoiding payment for routine and preventative care out of reluctance towards paying out of their own funds. This results in long term increases in health care expenses. It is far less expensive to treat diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia early than to pay for bypass surgery, dialysis, and long term care following strokes. Similarly it is preferable, and less expensive, to screen for cancer than to pay for expensive treatments.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Action Alert: William Myers Could Be the Test Vote on the “Nuclear Option”

There is a petition on, that John Kerry emailed his supporters about earlier today. Just incased anyone missed the email or is not on his email list, here’s the Action Alert:

Say No To William Myers
William Myers was rejected as a judicial nominee last year, but President Bush has nominated him again. Republican Senate leaders are scheming to win this time – and win at any cost. They intend to seize absolute power by changing the rules to limit the rights of Democrats to be heard.

Myers has spent his career trying to dismantle the protections our courts exist to preserve. He was a former lobbyist for the mining, grazing and cattle industries and a Bush Administration bureaucrat. His only experience has been manipulating laws and regulations for corporate gain, against the public interest. He’s unqualified to sit on the largest federal appellate court in the country.

Sing the Petition Here.

From John Kerry’s email:

"It will come as no surprise to you that Senator Kennedy is in the forefront of efforts to stop the Republican scheme to change the fundamental Senate rules and create a system in which President Bush's judicial appointments can be approved without a single Democratic vote.

Things could all come to a head in the coming days. The focal point may well be William Myers, a nominee rejected last year who's been nominated again. He could be the test vote on the so-called "nuclear option."

John Kerry Fights to Halt Devastating Transit Cuts to Massachusetts and Nationwide Projects

Busy, busy, busy... that's what John Kerry has been lately in the Senate. Sometime in between the Mercury Polution Hearing and the Bolton Hearing, John Kerry managed to slide in introducing an ammendment to the Senate Finance Committee that would prevent the cut of $1.7 billion in transit projects and improvements over the next six years. Always the environmentalist, Kerry also pointed out that mass transit also improves the quality of life by cutting air pollution.

Fighting to stop major proposed cuts to transit in Massachusetts, Senator John Kerry today worked to amend the six year transportation bill currently pending in Congress. Without changes to the legislation, Massachusetts would lose $50 million for transit projects and improvements over the next six years. Nationwide, the cuts would total $1.7 billion.

“Now is not the time to cut funding for mass transit," insisted Senator Kerry. “Beyond its economic benefits, transit reduces our dependence on foreign oil. It also improves our quality of life by cutting the air pollution linked to lung disease, heart disease and cancer. In one year, one person using mass transit instead of driving to work can keep 77 pounds of toxic pollutants out of the air we breathe."


John Kerry Statement at Today's Senate Democratic Policy Committee Hearing on Toxic Mercury Pollution

In other Senate news today, the Senate Democratic Policy Committee held a hearing on mercury pollution in response to the continual denials of Republican-lead committees to hold hearings on the mercury pollution. Here is John Kerry’s statement today from the hearing:

Washington, D.C. - "I want to thank the members of the panel for joining us today to wrestle with an issue that's not just an environmental issue, but which is as real and present a health care crisis as you'll find in numerous communities across our country.

"When fathers across America take their kids fishing but can't risk cooking the catch for dinner because of the risk of mercury contamination, that's a health care issue. When expectant mothers can't trust the tuna fish sandwich they are eating because it might some day lead to seizures in their child, we have a public health problem on our hands. When teachers are seeing increases in learning disabilities around mercury hotspots, we have an education and a public health issue staring us in the face. And what's most troubling is that Washington's not being honest about it.

"In this city, it's almost become standard-fare for honesty to be sacrificed for political expediency. We saw it when the President's budget left out literally trillions in spending. We saw it when a Medicare actuary was forced to fudge the numbers and lie to Congress to keep his job. We saw the falsified numbers in Iraq on everything from the cost of the war to the number of trained Iraqi troops. We saw the fake newscasts produced by the Bush Administration and funded with your tax dollars.

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Kerry Defending Freedom of Religion and Religious Tolerance

John Kerry has been promoting religious tolerance in the work place with proposed legislation since 1997. Unfortunately some Democratic blogs have misinterpreted the latest version of this bill, sponsored along with Rick Santorum in the hopes of finally having a chance of passage.

The point of this legislation is tolerance. Tolerance works both ways. The goal is to allow people the ability to practice their religious beliefs in the work place under certain circumstances. This includes wearing religious garb and observing holidays. This aspect appeals to Republicans, giving the bill a fighting chance to pass. What is important from our point of view is that in allowing such freedom of religious expression, the bill also places reasonable limits to prevent such religious expression from interfering with the owners of a business or its customers.

The act has received increased attention due to the recent problems of pharmacists refusing to dispense contraceptives due to their religious beliefs. The bill provides a fair compromise here. A pharmacist would be allowed to refuse to dispense the contraceptive only if there was another pharmacist on duty in the same pharmacy who would dispense the contraceptive. This protects the customers right to receive whatever medications are prescribed by their doctor.

In an ideal world it would not be necessary for such legislation. In an ideal world employers would respect the religious practices of their employees wherever possible, but we would not face problems such as pharmacists refusing to dispense medications. Unfortunately we do not live in an ideal world. We live in a country where the religious right is increasingly imposing their views upon others. Kerry's measure would place reasonable limits here, such as guaranteeing that contraceptives are dispensed regardless of the religious views of the pharmacist.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Vanessa Kerry in Boston Marathon

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., hugs his daughter Vanessa at the finish of the Boston Marathon, Monday, April 18, 2005, in Boston. Vanessa ran with the Dana Farber Marathon team to raise money for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Teresa Heinz Kerry walks at left.

Three States Fighting NCLB

It's not been a good month for No Child Left Behind. Last week there were reports of reduced progress by students since the requirements took effect. Now three states, Connecticut, Utah, and Texas, are refusing to follow federal regulations.

Connecticut is suing the US Department of education fo rmandating changes without providing the funding. The Texas education commissioner decided the requirements are flawed and decided to disregard some of the requirements. The Utah State Senate appears to be on the verge of passing a bill, already passed by the House, which rules that Utah's regulations will be followed where they conflict with the US Government's.

Chris Heinz won't run for office in 2006

Chris Heinz won't run for office in 2006
By Associated Press
Monday, April 18, 2005 - Updated: 03:45 PM EST

PITTSBURGH - Chris Heinz, the stepson of U.S. Sen. John Kerry who was widely rumored to be considering a run for Congress, said Monday that he won't seek office in 2006.
The son of the late Sen. John Heinz III had stumped for Kerry during his unsuccessful presidential bid last year, sparking rumors that Heinz would follow that with his own campaign against U.S. Rep. Melissa Hart. Heinz, 32, is the youngest of John and Teresa Heinz Kerry's three children.
``I'm definitely not doing it in 2006. I've thought about it in my life, but it's just not right at this particular time,'' Heinz told The Associated Press by phone from New York City, where he lives.
During the presidential campaign, the curly, dark-haired Heinz was often compared to John F. Kennedy Jr. in looks and lineage. He was named one of last year's 50 hottest bachelors by People magazine.
Just before last year's presidential election, Heinz registered as a Democrat in the Pittsburgh suburb where his family has a home.
A Yale graduate with a master's degree in business administration from Harvard, Heinz said he is working with some friends in private equity to develop businesses.

Increased Risk of Global Terrorism Reported

Following recent reports of the Bush administration deciding not to publish the annual report on Patterns of Global Terrorism when the data showed the failure of the war on terrorism, more data has come out showing an increase in terrorism. Aon's Map, in their second annual report, shows an increase in the risk of global terrorism.

Kerry says new plan helps kids

Kerry says new plan helps kids

By Marie Delahoussaye

Former Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass, promoted his health-care program at a city-hall-style forum held on campus Saturday.

Kerry's bill, the Kids Come First Act, would increase federal Medicaid funding and expand the Children's Health Insurance Program.

Kerry said children's health insurance is a critical first step to meeting the needs of American families. He criticized President Bush's tax policy and lamented the growing economic burdens imposed by globalization that are squeezing American families out of health care.

"In the wealthiest country in the world, it's an outrage that there are children going without immunizations, asthma medicine and basic health-care needs," Kerry said.

Kerry said his bill would provide coverage for 11 million children who cannot afford private insurance and currently don't qualify for CHIP or Medicaid. The act would fully finance Medicaid programs, which states now spend $10 billion on annually.

In return for free federal Medicaid coverage of families with incomes at or below the federal poverty line - $15,670 annual income for a family of three - states would agree to expand CHIP coverage.

CHIP would expand coverage to families earning up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level, or $47,010 annual income for a family of three.

The federal government would continue to match state money spent on CHIP at $2.65 to the state's dollar, and coverage would be expanded to include 19- to 21-year-olds.

Kerry's bill would also require states to make their CHIP programs more accessible and continuous.

Texas currently has the highest rate of uninsured children in the nation at 22 percent, according to statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau. During the 78th Legislature, state CHIP funding was substantially cut, benefits were cut, and eligibility requirements changed.

Texas families are required to renew CHIP every six months, which has led to decreased enrollment.

Kerry's bill would mandate continuous and automatic enrollment.

"You go to day care, you're enrolled. You go to school, you're enrolled," Kerry said.

Kerry also talked about rejuvenating American democracy through continuous engagement.

"What we need to do is put accountability back into our democracy and back into our political process," Kerry said.

Kerry said he felt more energized than ever and is optimistic about the growth of the Democratic Party.

"I don't buy into the notion that the party is out of touch," he said. "We are building a strong grass-roots coalition, and I am really committed to helping our party win back seats in the House and Senate in the 2006 midterm elections."

Kerry said his health-care initiative fits into a wider focus on preparing America's children to be successful citizens.

He said the Kids Come First Act epitomizes the moral values that have dominated the political debate.

"Politicians of both parties all walk and talk about the importance of children," Kerry said. "What they ought to be doing is reflecting the ethics of America and changing the law to provide health care to every single American."

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Forget Colter--I'd Rather See This Time Cover