Wednesday, June 29, 2005


"Islamofascists." We are hearing a lot about them from the right.

I hate that word. It is used by the right to lump together terrorist groups like al Qaeda and dictatorships such as Iraq while Saddam was in power. While both may be evil, these are two different problems which required different solutions.

Lumping these groups together just acts to make people more willing to accept the Republican line that the invasion of Iraq was related to 9/11. These are quite different groups which see each other as enemies, with Iraq having had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks on the United States.

Destruction of secular dictatorships was one of Bin Laden's goals. In attacking Iraq and turning it into a terrorist training camp we just wound up assisting those who attacked us on 9/11.

Senator Edward M Kennedy: Accountability in Iraq

Accountability in Iraq
29 June 2005

President Bush addressed the nation once again last night about the war in Iraq, and once again he refused to level with our troops and the American people and offer an effective strategy.

The Administration's view of the war in Iraq is divorced from reality, and does a disservice to our troops and the American people. Only when President Bush, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and the rest of the Administration address the realities of what is happening on the ground can we hope to make progress in the region.

We must hold them accountable for refusing to outline an effective strategy for success in Iraq.


Media Coverage of Bush's Speech

George Bush had nothing new to say last night, primarily repeating the discredited claims of a connection between 9/11 and Iraq along with the irrational theory that by fighting terrorists in Iraq (where they weren't present before the war) we are somehow reducing the risk of having to fight them here. We really didn't expect much from George Bush, a man who has taken dishonesty and incompetence in national leadership to new levels. What is surprising is that the three networks decided to cover this. Tom Shales believes it was the right wing bloggers who forced this decision:
In a time when some polls show the popularity of the news media to be even lower than the approval rating for Bush's conduct of the war, the managements of the networks may have feared hostile reaction if they didn't air the speech live. Political conservatives keep up a steady drumbeat of hostility against the media, something the Bush administration does nothing to discourage. Refusing to air the speech probably would have led to unpleasantness -- or at the least given the new subculture of bellicose bloggers another alleged media conspiracy to shriek about.
I had some post-speech notes at LUTD on the television coverage as I channel surfed. CBS left immediately, with Shales writing this off to the CBC boss being "no friend to the news division" and contrasts this with the glory days of CBS. I was pleased to hear George Stephanopoulos on ABC discuss the untrue claims made by Bush, such as the connection to 9/11. NBC's anchors took a conservative line, but also had an excellent interview with Nancy Pelosi. I thought Pelosi did an even better job in refuting Bush's arguments while answering the questions during this interview than in her prepared statement.

We are all aware of CNN's interview with John Kerry. The Note reports on another televised interview with Kerry: "John Kerry was Matt Lauer's guest this morning once again called for getting the training of Iraqi forces "on a real war time footing" and getting serious (perhaps with the help of an international force) about making Iraq's borders less porous."

I missed MSNBC, but that might be for the better considering the description provided by Shales: "Matthews led a post-speech discussion that included assembled experts, most of whom leaned to the right or far right, and an audience made up largely of military families."

Among the print media, Ronald Brownstein points out the contradictions in both Bush's changing rational for the war, and in the dangers of making Iraq a terrorist haven:

President Bush on Tuesday retooled his original argument for the Iraq war, justifying the U.S. military presence there as the solution to a problem that critics say the war itself caused.

More than two years ago, Bush argued that Saddam Hussein's control over Iraq could make the nation a haven for terrorists. But in his nationally televised speech, Bush asserted that the tumult that has followed Hussein's removal created the same threat.

In the lead-up to the war, Bush presented the invasion of Iraq primarily as a means of preventing the Iraqi dictator from providing nuclear, biological or chemical weapons to terrorists.

After coalition forces failed to find evidence of such weapons, and several investigations did not uncover meaningful links between Hussein and Al Qaeda, the president increasingly stressed the possibility that creating a democracy in Iraq could encourage democratic reform across the Middle East.
The Washington Post also discusses the contradiction between Bush's pre-war claims on terrorism and the reality:
Two and a half months later, when he declared that major combat operations were over, the president said it was a victory in the war against terrorism because Hussein was "a source of terrorism funding" (referring to Iraq's role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict) and because "no terrorist network will gain weapons of mass destruction from the Iraqi regime."

Bush also described Hussein as "an ally of al Qaeda," a point he suggested again last night, but the Sept. 11 commission concluded there had been no collaboration between Hussein and the terrorist group headed by Osama bin Laden.

Now, many analysts inside and outside the government portray Iraq as a breeding ground for terrorist groups, in part because of mistakes made by the administration after it defeated Hussein and occupied Iraq. Bush emphasized the gains fighting terrorism, but the Pentagon commander for the Middle East, Gen. John P. Abizaid, said this month that more foreign fighters are now moving into Iraq than were six months ago.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Clarence Thomas: No Retirements Planned reports that Clarence Thomas said Tuesday that none of the members of the Supreme Court plan to retire. This occurred during a speech given in Georgia at the swearing in of the new chief justice of the state Supreme Court.

Members of the Senate apparently do not believe this. USA Today reports that, "Senate leaders said Tuesday that they have begun preparing for a vacancy on the Supreme Court, even though the justices wrapped up work for the year without any word of a retirement."

WMD Quotes

William Rivers Pitt collected these quotes (with many more also posted):

“We are greatly concerned about any possible linkup between terrorists and regimes that have or seek weapons of mass destruction…In the case of Saddam Hussein, we’ve got a dictator who is clearly pursuing and already possesses some of these weapons. A regime that hates America and everything we stand for must never be permitted to threaten America with weapons of mass destruction.”

- Dick Cheney, Vice President
Detroit, Fund-Raiser

“Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.”

- Dick Cheney, Vice President
Speech to VFW National Convention

“There is already a mountain of evidence that Saddam Hussein is gathering weapons for the purpose of using them. And adding additional information is like adding a foot to Mount Everest.”

- Ari Fleischer, Press Secretary
Response to Question From Press

“We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”

- Condoleeza Rice, US National Security Advisor
CNN Late Edition

“Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons.”

- George W. Bush, President
Speech to UN General Assembly

“Iraq has stockpiled biological and chemical weapons, and is rebuilding the facilities used to make more of those weapons. We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons — the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have.”

- George W. Bush, President
Radio Address

“The Iraqi regime…possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons. We know that the regime has produced thousands of tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, sarin nerve gas, VX nerve gas.”

- George W. Bush, President
Cincinnati, Ohio Speech

“And surveillance photos reveal that the regime is rebuilding facilities that it had used to produce chemical and biological weapons.”

- George W. Bush, President
Cincinnati, Ohio Speech

“After eleven years during which we have tried containment, sanctions, inspections, even selected military action, the end result is that Saddam Hussein still has chemical and biological weapons and is increasing his capabilities to make more. And he is moving ever closer to developing a nuclear weapon.”

- George W. Bush, President
Cincinnati, Ohio Speech

“We’ve also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas.”

- George W. Bush, President
Cincinnati, Ohio Speech

Salon: What Would Kerry Do?

From the Salon War Room:

What would Kerry do?

We have a pretty good sense now of what President Bush will say in his prime-time speech on Iraq tonight: The road is long, but there's progress being made in the training of Iraqi security forces and in the building of a real Iraqi government; we need patience, not timetables; and just in case you've forgotten, let me remind you one more time that Iraq is part of a war on terrorism that began when America was attacked on 9/11.

Now imagine that we live in some other universe, one in which the 53 percent of the public that disapproves of Bush's job performance now had voted in accordance with those feelings back in November. What would President John Kerry be telling the nation tonight?

We don't have to imagine because Kerry is telling anyone who will listen. The senator from Massachusetts has "what the president should say" op-ed in today's New York Times, and he's repeating much the same advice in an email message to supporters and in a floor speech this afternoon in the U.S. Senate.

Kerry's message: The president has made a mess of things in Iraq so far, and it's "long past time to get it right." "Our mission in Iraq is harder because the administration ignored the advice of others, went in largely alone, underestimated the likelihood and power of the insurgency, sent in too few troops to secure the country, destroyed the Iraqi army through de-Baathification, failed to secure ammunition dumps, refused to recognize the urgency of training Iraqi security forces and did no postwar planning," Kerry wrote in the Times this morning. "A little humility would go a long way -- coupled with a strategy to succeed."

So what should Bush do now? Start by telling the truth, Kerry says. "We must tear down the wall of arrogance," Kerry says in the remarks prepared for delivery on the Senate floor. "When the vice president absurdly claims the insurgency is in its 'last throes,' he insults the common sense and intelligence of the American people and diminishes our stature in the world. And how can we expect the Iraqi people to take us seriously and do their part when the White House says the insurgency is fading. . . . While we shouldn't dwell on mistakes, we need to understand their consequences on our ability to effectively move forward. With allies reading the Downing Street memo, and the American people realizing the rationalization for this war changed midstream, it becomes that much harder to rally the collective strength of the nation and the world to our cause. We have to acknowledge the past to overcome it, because the truth is the stubbornness of this administration matters. It hurts our chances for success. It leads to frustrated expectations at home, makes it so much more difficult for the Iraqi people to embrace this cause, and makes it so much easier for sidelined nations to turn their back on a common interest and say: 'OK, it's their deal.'"

After coming clean, Kerry says, Bush should make it clear that the U.S. doesn't intend to stay in Iraq permanently; insist that the Iraqis build a "truly inclusive political process" and meet their deadlines along the way; and announce that he's putting the training of Iraqi troops on a "true six-month wartime footing" by, among other things, ensuring that the Iraqi government has the budget it needs to train and deploy the troops and by accepting offers from Egypt, Jordan, France and Germany to do more to help. Kerry says the administration should set -- and share with Congress --"clear milestones and deadlines for the transfer of military and police responsibilities to Iraqis after the December elections." Kerry says Bush should push Iraq to rely on tribal, religious and ethnic militias while its own national army is being built, and that the administration should establish a multinational force to help protect Iraq's borders. Meanwhile, he says, the administrations should encourage Iraq's Sunnis neighbors to help more with the rebuilding of Iraq by presenting them with a "strategic plan" for regional security that acknowledges their fears about an "Iran-dominated crescent and their concerns about our fitful mediation between Israel and the Palestinians."

It may sound like a lot of hard work to the man who is president in the universe in which we live, but Kerry says that the next few months in Iraq will be critical. "If Mr. Bush fails to take these steps, we will stumble along, our troops at greater risk, casualties rising, costs rising, the patience of the American people wearing thin, and the specter of quagmire staring us in the face. Our troops deserve better: They deserve leadership equal to their sacrifice."

Kerry's New Best Friend

The Hill:

Sen. Kerry finds a new best friend

What could ease the sting of a presidential election defeat better than wet, sloppy kisses and spirited games of fetch?

Probably not much. Enter Stache, Sen. John Kerry’s (D-Mass.) new schnauzer puppy. Thanks to the Boston Herald, we learn that the pup’s name comes from “the pronounced hair on his face.”

Stache joins Kim, the would-be first couple’s German shepherd, in what must be an enviable lifestyle for a pooch. He was spotted by Herald sources on the Kerry speedboat in Nantucket.

Said Kerry spokesman David Wade, “Stache sleeps half the day, barks just to hear himself speak and loves to shake hands, so he fits in perfectly in politics.”

Boston Herald:

Kerry's new pup a howl onboard
By Gayle Fee and Laura Raposa
Monday, June 27, 2005 - Updated: 05:06 AM EST

What's a man to do when his White House hopes are dashed? Like President Harry Truman once said: ``You want a friend in Washington? Get a dog.''
So the newest addition to Sen. John Kerry's inner circle is a Schnauzer puppy named Stache, who takes his handle from the pronounced hair on his face. Thankfully, Stache is a male. . . .
Anyway, the pup reported for Man's Best Friend duty recently joining a German shepherd named Kim and Sunshine, the family canary, in the Kerry-Heinz household.
Last week, Stache was spotted by our dogged spies being taken for a ride on the family speedboat in Nantucket. So he's slipping comfortably into the Kerry-Heinz haute ways, although Teresa was overheard telling a neighbor that her new pooch barfs on board.
``Stache sleeps half the day, barks just to hear himself speak and loves to shake hands, so he fits in perfectly in politics,'' said Kerry spokesguy David Wade.

John Kerry To Speak Out on Iraq, Details Concrete Steps the President Must Take to Rescue the Mission

John Kerry will go to the Senate floor today to offer a concrete set of steps the President needs to take to rescue the mission in Iraq, get it right, and deal with a series of mistakes that have brought us to this point.

We’ll have an update for the time on LightUpTheDarkness.

Kerry Email on Iraq

Email from John Kerry:

Tonight, President Bush will speak to the nation about the situation in Iraq. It's about time.

I hope tonight he'll address his words not just to us, and certainly not to Karl Rove or Donald Rumsfeld, but to a young American soldier in Iraq right now -- the soldier carrying an M-16 in a dangerous place where he or she can't tell friend from foe, the marine out on patrol at night who doesn't know what's coming around the next bend. America's brave young men and women deserve to hear the truth.

For too long, the Bush administration's strategy has been to divide not unite, to spin not to lead, to attack their political enemies at home rather than fight America's enemies attacking our troops in Iraq.

It's long past time to get it right in Iraq. The administration's current lack of a coherent strategy is courting disaster instead of doing what's needed for success.

That's what we need from this administration. No more false rosy scenarios. No more happy talk about the Iraq insurgency being in "its final throes" when our military leadership knows that's just spin.

It was with our troops in mind that I offered up a plan for Iraq in a New York Times op-ed this morning. I wrote: "The reality is the Bush administration's choices have made Iraq into what it wasn't before the war -- a breeding ground for jihadists."

As I said in the article and I will say again on the Senate floor today, there's no time to wait -- this is a time for humility from the White House, and a time to take specific steps to finally get it right in Iraq. It starts by telling the truth, and being straight with Americans.

Here's what I think President Bush needs to address tonight - and we need to hold him accountable:

  • The president must announce immediately that the United States will not have a permanent military presence or bases in Iraq.

  • The United States must also insist that the Iraqis establish a truly inclusive political process and meet the deadlines for finishing the constitution and holding elections in December.

  • We need to put the training of Iraqi troops on a true six month wartime footing and ensure that the Iraqi government has the budget needed to deploy them.

  • The administration needs to work not just at security but at reconstruction -- Iraqis need to see the electricity working and the water flowing.

  • The administration needs to get Iraq's neighbors off the sidelines -- they can't afford a failed Iraq on their doorstep, and Bush-style unilateralism needs to bend to getting these countries on board.

  • And the administration must immediately draw up a detailed plan with clear milestones for the transfer of military and police responsibilities to Iraqis after the December elections. The plan should be shared with Congress.

It's the only way we can set the stage for American forces to begin to come home.

The next months are critical to the future of Iraq and our security. If the administration fails to take the kind of steps I outlined today, we will stumble along, our troops at greater risk, casualties rising, costs rising, the patience of the American people wearing thin, and the specter of quagmire staring us in the face.

I urge you to watch the president's speech tonight with a careful eye and to act in every way possible to demand what our troops deserve - leadership equal to their sacrifices.


John Kerry

Bush Flip Flops on Exit Strategies

George Bush has (forgive the f-word) flip flopped on the value of timetables per these quotes from Think Progress. The 1999 quotes were from Bush's criticism of Clinton's military involvement in Kosovo (where we did not get bogged down in a quagmire as in Iraq).

“Victory means exit strategy, and it’s important for the president to explain to us what the exit strategy is.”-- George Bush, April 9, 1999

“I think it’s also important for the president to lay out a timetable as to how long they will be involved and when they will be withdrawn.” --George Bush, June 5, 1999

“It doesn’t make any sense to have a timetable. You know, if you give a timetable, you’re — you’re conceding too much to the enemy.” --George Bush, June 24, 2005

Kerry To Speak on Bush's Failings in Iraq

In response to George Bush's speech scheduled for John Kerry has an op-ed in the New York Times today. He will also be speaking on the Senate floor to give a major speech on Iraq. They will be sending out an emailing to three million members of Also watch for more response to Bush's speech on Light Up The Darkness.

In his op-ed in the New York times, Kerry states:

The reality is that the Bush administration's choices have made Iraq into what it wasn't before the war - a breeding ground for jihadists. Today there are 16,000 to 20,000 jihadists and the number is growing. The administration has put itself - and, tragically, our troops, who pay the price every day - in a box of its own making. Getting out of this box won't be easy, but we owe it to our soldiers to make our best effort.

Our mission in Iraq is harder because the administration ignored the advice of others, went in largely alone, underestimated the likelihood and power of the insurgency, sent in too few troops to secure the country, destroyed the Iraqi army through de-Baathification, failed to secure ammunition dumps, refused to recognize the urgency of training Iraqi security forces and did no postwar planning. A little humility would go a long way - coupled with a strategy to succeed.
Kerry is being a bit modest here. He could have pointed out that our mission is harder because George Bush ignored the advice given by John Kerry in the months leading up to the war. This advice included:
  • Only going into Iraq if we were proven to be threatened by weapons of mass destruction
  • Go in for the purpose of removing the threat of WMD, not nation building
  • Go into Iraq as part of an international force, not unilaterally, if feasible

Kerry predicted the problems we now face when he spoke at Georgetown University before the war:
I have no doubt of the outcome of war itself should it be necessary. We will win. But what matters is not just what we win but what we lose. We need to make certain that we have not unnecessarily twisted so many arms, created so many reluctant partners, abused the trust of Congress, or strained so many relations, that the longer term and more immediate vital war on terror is made more difficult. And we should be particularly concerned that we do not go alone or essentially alone if we can avoid it, because the complications and costs of post-war Iraq would be far better managed and shared with United Nation's participation. And, while American security must never be ceded to any institution or to another institution's decision, I say to the President, show respect for the process of international diplomacy because it is not only right, it can make America stronger - and show the world some appropriate patience in building a genuine coalition. Mr. President, do not rush to war.

Vilsack to Chair DLC

The Des Moines Register reports that Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack will become chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council next month, replacing Evan Bayh.

Chairmanship of the DLC will help establish Vilsack as a leader among Democratic moderates. The group is credited with propelling Bill Clinton's candidacy. Hillary Clinton is also expected to have a leadership position in the DLC, and the article speculates on a future Clinton-Vilsack ticket.

The DLC has become a frequent target in the more liberal blogs, which I consider a foolish course. Being a majority party requires having a variety of views, and sometimes the views of DLC members are even right.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Kerry's Warnings Right on Cost of War

It seems that every few weeks we have another post on how Kerry was right and Bush was wrong. This includes the Iraqi weapons (and here), Bush's failure to capture Bin Laden, as well as the warnings that Bush would attempt to privitize Social Security after the election.

An editorial today in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette now argues that Kerry was right about the costs of the war:

During last year's campaign, President Bush's operatives ridiculed John Kerry for forecasting that the cost of the war in Iraq would exceed $200 billion. Now it appears that the Massachusetts senator's estimate was, if anything, on the low side.

The $82 billion war spending bill signed by Mr. Bush pushes the cost of military operations in Iraq well past the Kerry prediction, with no end in sight.

Andrew Sullivan on Rove and Durbin

Howard Kurtz quoted Andrew Sullivan's comments on Karl Rove and Dick Durbin today, giving them far more coverage:

"It seems to me that Karl Rove's sickening generalization about 'liberals' in the war on terror is revealing in ways not obviously apparent. Sure, there were some on the hard left who really did jump to blame America for the evil perpetrated by the monsters of 9/11. I took names at the time. But all 'liberals'? The New Republic? Joe Lieberman? Hitch? Paul Berman? The Washington Post editorial page? Tom Friedman? Almost every Democrat in the Congress who endorsed the war in Afghanistan? You expect that kind of moronic extremism from a Michelle Malkin, but from the most influential figure in an administration leading a country in wartime?

"Ok, ok, I'm not surprised. Rove is a brutal operator. But to my mind, the hysterical attacks on Durbin and now this outburst (and the White House's subsequent endorsement of it) are an indication of some level of panic. We face at least three more grueling years of warfare in Iraq with our current troop level, and it's not at all clear that the public is prepared to go along with it, given the incremental progress we are making. Rove knows this. He also knows that the haphazard way in which the White House prepared for the war, its chronic under-manning of the occupation, its failure, as Abizaid conceded yesterday, to make any progress against the insurgency over the past six months despite the enormous psychological boost of the January election: all these have made the administration unable to really shift the blame."

Sunday, June 26, 2005

The Return of the Credibility Gap

The mainstream media failed to do its job in the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq. Finally, perhaps emboldened by public opinion turning against the war, we are seeing more signs of the media reporting the truth.

The Los Angeles Times has a news analysis entitled Bush's Credibility Takes a Direct Hit From Friendly Fire. They both tear down the credibility of the Bush Administration and make Cheney look like the dumber one compared to Bush for a change. If all this reminds you of credibility gaps during the Vietnam war, you aren't alone:
Historian Robert Dallek, a biographer of President Lyndon B. Johnson and an outspoken critic of Bush, said: "Analogies are imperfect, and I hate to press this one, but this is so much like Vietnam. It has echoes of the Vietnam experience when senators like [Arkansas Democrat J. William] Fulbright began to hammer Johnson on our aims and goals and credibility….
The New York Times sums it all up in this editorial (emphasis mine):

Three Things About Iraq

To have the sober conversation about the war in Iraq that America badly needs, it is vital to acknowledge three facts:

The war has nothing to do with Sept. 11. Saddam Hussein was a sworn enemy of Washington, but there was no Iraq-Qaeda axis, no connection between Saddam Hussein and the terrorist attacks on the United States. Yet the president and his supporters continue to duck behind 9/11 whenever they feel pressure about what is happening in Iraq. The most cynical recent example was Karl Rove's absurd and offensive declaration this week that conservatives and liberals had different reactions to 9/11. Let's be clear: Americans of every political stripe were united in their outrage and grief, united in their determination to punish those who plotted the mass murder and united behind the war in Afghanistan, which was an assault on terrorists. Trying to pretend otherwise is the surest recipe for turning political dialogue into meaningless squabbling.

The war has not made the world, or this nation, safer from terrorism. The breeding grounds for terrorists used to be Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia; now Iraq has become one. Of all the justifications for invading Iraq that the administration juggled in the beginning, the only one that has held up over time is the desire to create a democratic nation that could help stabilize the Middle East. Any sensible discussion of what to do next has to begin by acknowledging that. The surest way to make sure that conversation does not happen is for the administration to continue pasting the "soft on terror" label on those who want to talk about the war.

If the war is going according to plan, someone needs to rethink the plan. Progress has been measurable on the political front. But even staunch supporters of the war, like the Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, told Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at a hearing this week that President Bush was losing public support because the military effort was not keeping pace. A top general said this week that the insurgency was growing. The frequency of attacks is steady, or rising a bit, while the repulsive tactic of suicide bombings has made them more deadly.

If things are going to be turned around, there has to be an honest discussion about what is happening. But Mr. Rumsfeld was not interested. Sneering at his Democratic questioners, he insisted everything was on track and claimed "dozens of trained battalions are capable of conducting anti-insurgent operations" with American support. That would be great news if it were true. Gen. George Casey, the commander in Iraq, was more honest, saying he hoped there would be "a good number of units" capable of doing that "before the end of this year."

Americans cannot judge for themselves because the administration has decided to make the information secret. Senator John McCain spoke for us when he expressed his disbelief at this news. "I think the American people need to know," he said. "They are the ones who are paying for this conflict."

Friday, June 24, 2005

Fighting Back Against Republican Lies

Karl Rove's attack on liberals with false claims of opposing necessary use of military force is nothing new. Josh Marshall argues that this is the "exact same thing" as occurred when John Kerry's military record was attacked last August.

Marshall links back to a post from August 19 which is notable for showing the need to fight back against these attacks. This is also notable as many of Kerry's critics claim he never fought back against the attacks. Josh Marshall proves otherwise as he reports how Kerry "responded squarely to the attacks" and quotes from this statement given by Kerry in a speech to the International Association of Fire Fighters in Boston:
Over the last week or so, a group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth has been attacking me. Of course, this group isn’t interested in the truth--and they're not telling the truth. They didn’t even exist until I won the nomination for president.

But here's what you really need to know about them. They're funded by hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Republican contributor out of Texas. They’re a front for the Bush campaign. And the fact that the President won’t denounce what they’re up to tells you everything you need to know--he wants them to do his dirty work.

Thirty years ago, official Navy reports documented my service in Vietnam and awarded me the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts. Thirty years ago, this was the plain truth. It still is. And I still carry the shrapnel in my leg from a wound in Vietnam.

As firefighters you risk your lives everyday. You know what it’s like to see the truth in the moment. You’re proud of what you’ve done--and so am I.

Of course, the President keeps telling people he would never question my service to our country. Instead, he watches as a Republican-funded attack group does just that. Well, if he wants to have a debate about our service in Vietnam, here is my answer: "Bring it on."

NY City Council Consider Resolution Calling For Firing of Rove

New York' s city council is considering a resolution to call on the President to fire Karl Rove.
The resolution reads: "Rove's rhetoric and cynical strategy of dividing Americans against each other for partisan gain has no place in our nation's public discourse."

Salon on Kerry's Letter Requesting DSM Investigation

The Salon War Room has two posts so far on Kerry's letter. First they report on the letter (followed by a copy of the text):
A few weeks ago, John Kerry vowed to make an issue of the Downing Street memo in the U.S. Senate. And then nothing happened -- or so it seemed.

In fact, Kerry has been working behind the scenes to get some of his Democratic colleagues to join him in calling for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to look into Downing Street, and now it's finally happening. Kerry -- joined by Sens. Jon Corzine, Tim Johnson, Ted Kennnedy, Frank Lautenberg, Barbara Boxer, Tom Harkin, Jack Reed, Jeff Bingaman and, yes, Dick Durbin -- has just written a letter to the committee's chairman and vice chairman, arguing that the revelations contained in the Downing Street memo "raise troubling questions about the use of intelligence" in the run up to the Iraq war and provide "renewed urgency" for the committee to complete an investigation that Republicans have said is no longer necessary.

Afterwards they ask, Where Are The Other Democrats?

For those who have been itching for someone -- the national media, the White House, Congress, anybody -- to take the Downing Street memo seriously, the news today is mostly good: Even if the Republicans will never let it happen, John Kerry and nine other Senate Democrats have actually asked for an investigation that will include the revelations set forth in the Downing Street memo.

And yet -- where are the rest of the Senate Democrats? There are 44 Democrats in the Senate, and Kerry circulated a draft of his letter to the whole lot of them two weeks ago. In the end, he was able to persuade just nine of his colleagues to sign on: Jon Corzine, Tim Johnson, Frank Lautenberg, Ted Kennedy, Barbara Boxer, Tom Harkin, Jack Reed, Jeff Bingaman and Dick Durbin.

Where are you, Harry Reid? Any reason you didn't sign, Sen. Clinton? And while we wouldn't expect to see a signature from someone like Joe Lieberman on this letter, why don't we see your name there, Sen. Obama?

It would be one thing, we suppose, if Kerry's letter were outrageous somehow -- say, if it impugned the patriotism of millions of Americans or suggested their real "motives" were to put U.S. troops in mortal danger. But Kerry's letter isn't like that. It simply quotes passages from the Downing Street memo and highlights the "troubling questions" that they raise.

Is it that you don't think those questions are worth answers, Joe Biden? Or does the experience of Dick Durbin -- who did, after all, sign the Kerry letter -- have you too scared to raise them?

Campaigning Against the Washington Republicans

Oliver Willis asks if John Kerry is reading as he notices that this ad uses the term Washington Republicans twice. Willis had a post on his site which I linked to on May 3 with this advice:
You're running against the Washington Republicans. Whether you're a challenger or an incumbent, you're running against the Washington Republicans and their total inability to work for America. The Washington Republicans are everything we hate about politicians - partisan, greedy, and elitist.
It turns out that John Kerry had used this term on May 2, if not earlier:

“It’s another example of how Washington Republicans are completely disconnected with the values that are important to the American people. Together we must hold them accountable and let them know that cutting kids’ health care is just plain wrong.”
Kerry used the term again earlier this month:

“The Washington Republicans ignore facts, push aside America’s real problems, promote partisan sniping and division, and flat out refuse to turn their attention to finding ways we can work together to make America stronger.”

He used Washington Republicans in talking about the DSM last week:

“It’s not too much for Americans to expect a thorough explanation of the Downing Street memo,” he said. “The administration and the Washington Republicans who control Congress scoff at the idea of congressional oversight, and insult Americans by brushing off even the most basic questions about pre-war intelligence and planning for the aftermath of war.”

Other times he gave the same message even if he wasn't quoted as using the exact term. This comes from a Boston Globe account of Kerry campaigning:

"Washington seems more and more out of touch with the difficulties the average family is facing,” Kerry told the crowd of about 150 last week in Baton Rouge. ‘’Go out of here, take some anger and a little bit of outrage at the fact that Washington is not dealing with the real concerns of our country.”

(Later in the story) His new political action committee bought a large ad in tomorrow’s USA Today that accuses Bush and GOP leaders of ignoring soaring gas prices, children without health insurance, and the lack of quality jobs with good wages.

‘’They think it’s all about them,” the ad states above pictures of Bush, House majority leader Tom DeLay and Senate majority leader Bill Frist. ‘’Don’t let them forget about what really matters to you. . . . Make Washington stand up for the needs and values of America’s families.”

I don't know if the quote I found above is the first time that Kerry spoke of the Washington Republicans, but we've quoted Harry Reid using the term back in April:

“Our children know that you can’t change the rules just to get your way. I think it’s time that Washington Republicans remembered those truths.”
He also used it more recently:

"But if the Washington Republicans stopped to listen to the American people, this is what they’d hear:

Americans are sick and tired of getting caught in the crossfire of partisan sniping.

Americans want us to put the common sense center ahead of nonsense.

Americans want us to bring people together, to focus on what we owe to one another, and the responsibilities we share.

And Americans want their agenda – their jobs, their health care, their security – to get back on the front burners of the nation’s agenda.

Americans are coming to realize this Republican Congress is out of touch with the real problems of working families and that the agenda the Republicans are advancing is at odds with what people in this country really care about.”

John Kerry and Senators Pressing for Answers from Senate Intelligence Committee on Downing Street Memo

John Kerry’s office has released a copy of his letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee requesting an investigation of pre-war Iraq intelligence failures (and the Downing Street Memo) to

June 22, 2005
The Honorable Pat Roberts, Chairman
The Honorable John D. Rockefeller, IV, Vice Chairman
United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Roberts and Senator Rockefeller:
We write concerning your committee's vital examination of pre-war Iraq intelligence failures. In particular, we urge you to accelerate to completion the work of the so-called "Phase II" effort to assess how policy makers used the intelligence they received. Last year your committee completed the first phase of a two-phased effort to review the pre-war intelligence on Iraq. Phase I-begun in the summer of 2003 and completed in the summer of 2004-examined the performance of the American intelligence community in the collection and analysis of intelligence prior to the war, including an examination of the quantity and quality of U.S. intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and the intelligence on ties between Saddam Hussein's regime and terrorist groups. At the conclusion of Phase I, your committee issued an unclassified report that made an important contribution to the American public's understanding of the issues involved. In February 2004-well over a year ago-the committee agreed to expand the scope of inquiry to include a second phase which would examine the use of intelligence by policy makers, the comparison of pre-war assessments and post-war findings, the activities of the Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group (PCTEG) and the Office of Special Plans in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, and the use of information provided by the Iraqi National Congress. The committee's efforts have taken on renewed urgency given recent revelations in the United Kingdom regarding the apparent minutes of a July 23, 2002, meeting between Prime Minister Tony Blair and his senior national security advisors. These minutes-known as the "Downing Street Memo"-raise troubling questions about the use of intelligence by American policy makers-questions that your committee is uniquely situated to address. The memo indicates that in the summer of 2002, at a time the White House was promising Congress and the American people that war would be their last resort, that they believed military action against Iraq was "inevitable." The minutes reveal that President "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

The American people took the warnings that the administration sounded seriously-warnings that were echoed at the United Nations and here in Congress as we voted to give the president the authority to go to war. For the sake of our democracy and our future national security, the public must know whether such warnings were driven by facts and responsible intelligence, or by political calculation. These issues need to be addressed with urgency. This remains a dangerous world, with American forces engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan, and other challenges looming in Iran and North Korea. In this environment, the American public should have the highest confidence that policy makers are using intelligence objectively-never manipulating it to justify war, but always to protect the United States. The contents of the Downing Street Memo undermine this faith and only rigorous Congressional oversight can determine the truth. We urge the committee to complete the second phase of its investigation with the maximum speed and transparency possible, producing, as it did at the end of Phase I, a comprehensive, unclassified report from which the American people can benefit directly.

John Kerry
Co-signers: Sens. Tim Johnson, Jon Corzine, Jack Reed, Frank Lautenberg, Barbara Boxer, Edward Kennedy, Thomas Harkin, Jeff Bingaman, Richard Durbin

Joe Conason on Karl Rove's Statement

From Karl Rove Is A Liar by Joe Conoson (Salon):

The truth is that liberal New York -- and the vast majority of American liberals and progressives -- stood with the president in his decision to invade Afghanistan and overthrow the Taliban. On the day of the attacks, I wrote a column that endorsed "hunting down and punishing" those responsible because the dead deserved justice -- and noted that when the culpability of Osama bin Laden and the Taliban was established, the United States "is fully capable of dealing with them."

Six weeks after 9/11 and two weeks after the United States started bombing the terrorist camps in Afghanistan, I appeared on CBS's "Early Show" to support the Bush administration's actions. Correspondent Lisa Birnbach made the point that liberals and Democrats who had once opposed the war in Vietnam were standing shoulder to shoulder with a president they didn't much like (and, although she didn't mention it, whose legitimacy they continued to doubt).

Noting the ubiquitous presence of American flags as she walked around the very liberal neighborhood where I live, Birnbach said, "This old lefty [Conason] is suddenly siding with the White House."

Responding to her question about the U.S. war against al-Qaida and the Taliban, I told Birnbach: "I'm not going to say I agree with every policy this administration will pursue, but so far, so good." Although she sounded surprised, the fact is that I was scarcely alone on the liberal left in expressing those sentiments.

In the aftermath of 9/11, liberal Democrats on Capitol Hill stood proudly with conservative Republicans to pledge their support for military action against al-Qaida and the Taliban. The wobbly weakness of George W. Bush's initial response to the terror strikes went unmentioned, as did anything else that might hint at dissension at a moment of crisis. When Bush delivered his powerful speech to a joint session of Congress on Sept. 20, 2001, he won standing applause across the bitter divide left by the 2000 election. For the first time, Democratic congressional leaders declined free airtime to answer a Republican presidential address.

"We want America to speak with one voice tonight and we want enemies and the whole world and all of our citizens to know that America speaks tonight with one voice," said Rep. Richard Gephardt, then the House Democratic leader. "We have faith in Bush and his colleagues in the executive branch to do this in the right way."

Tom Daschle, then the Senate Democratic leader, stood with his Republican counterpart, Trent Lott, to show bipartisan support for the president. "Tonight there is no opposition party," said Lott. "We stand here united, not as Republicans and Democrats, not as Southerners or Westerners or Midwesterners or Easterners, but as Americans." Daschle echoed Lott: "We want President Bush to know -- we want the world to know -- that he can depend on us."

Even Rep. Maxine Waters, the liberal Los Angeles Democrat who was at the time among Bush's toughest critics on the left, praised him without reservation. "He hit a home run," she said. "We may disagree later, but now is not the time."

Among the liberal journalists who backed Bush was Jacob Weisberg, editor of Slate magazine, who has published several volumes mocking Bush's difficulties with the English language.

He was very shaky at first, but I resisted the urge to write a piece saying that, because I didn't think it was appropriate ... Bush deserves the benefit of the doubt to an enormous degree. He needs to rally the nation. I want to contribute to that effort to the extent that I can."

But we now know that even then, at the peak of national unity, Rove was planning to make suckers of the Democrats and liberals who had spoken out in support of the president. He didn't care about bipartisan cooperation, or about the benefit of the doubt that Democrats had given Bush. He behaved as a partisan, not a patriot.

Rove would soon discard the inspiring presidential rhetoric that had joined Americans across race, religion and ideology. The slogan of a nation at war that blossomed on billboards, bumper stickers and storefronts -- "United We Stand" -- was no longer operative.

Or so Rove explained to his fellow "patriots" at a closed meeting of the Republican National Committee during their winter conference in Austin, Texas. Less than four months after Bush's Sept. 20 address to the joint session of Congress, he was scheming to win the midterm elections by transforming the "war on terror" into a war on Democrats.

Full Column Here

Related Posts:

The Battle for Heats and Minds

What Rove misses is that Democrats, in addition to be willing to use military force where it makes sense (such as in Afghanistan as opposed to Iraq), also understand that there are limits to what can be accomplished with military force.

In addition to the use of military force, and use of intelligence, it is necessary to win the battle for hearts and minds if we are ever going to end the threat of terrorism.

As the Republicans don't even realize this is a major part of the war, we are losing badly. Here's another example (hat tip to DemBloggers):

Poll: China Image Scores Better Than U.S.

The United States' popularity in many countries - including longtime allies in Europe - is lagging behind even communist China.

The image of the U.S. slipped sharply in 2003, after its invasion of Iraq, and two years later has shown few signs of rebounding either in Western Europe or the Muslim world, an international poll found.

"The U.S. image has improved slightly, but is still broadly negative," said Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. "It's amazing when you see the European public rating the United States so poorly, especially in comparison with China."


Boston Globe: Kerry Leads Attack on Rove's Comments

Democrats say Rove exploiting 9/11

Kerry leads attack on 'divisive' speech

WASHINGTON -- Senator John F. Kerry led a chorus of top Democrats yesterday in condemning White House political chief Karl Rove for saying that political liberals wanted to ''prepare indictments and offer therapy" to terrorists involved in the Sept. 11 attacks. The Democrats urged President Bush to fire Rove if he refuses to apologize.

Kerry called Rove's comments ''disgraceful" and said Rove's speech Wednesday to a gathering of New York conservatives a few miles from the site of the former World Trade Center disrespected Democrats and the nation, which rallied behind Bush following the 2001 attacks.

''That spirit of our country should never be reduced to a cheap, divisive, political applause line from anyone who speaks for the president of the United States," said Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, in a speech on the Senate floor. ''It is really hard to believe that last night in New York, a senior adviser -- the most senior adviser to the president of the United States -- is twisting, purposely twisting those days of unity in order to divide us for political gain."

Rove, the keynote speaker at a Conservative Party of New York State dinner, told his audience that ''perhaps the most important difference between conservatives and liberals can be found in the area of national security. Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers."

Rove is Bush's longtime campaign strategist and closest political aide; the president has referred to him as the architect of his reelection victory over Kerry last year.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Bush wouldn't ask Rove to apologize. McClellan said Rove was referring to people who have sought to fight terrorism with the law instead of by war, though he declined to name anyone specifically.

''There are many who have looked at the war on terrorism and said it is a law enforcement matter, that we should prosecute people," McClellan said. ''The president recognizes that it is a war and that we must stay on the offensive, we must take the fight to the enemy."

In an interview yesterday with CNN, Vice President Dick Cheney said he hadn't seen or read Rove's speech, but he defended the idea that ''there was a distinction" between what the left and the right considered the best response to the terror attacks.

''One is sort of a crime-solving approach, a law enforcement approach, and the other is a national strategy, military, intelligence, wartime approach," Cheney said. ''And I think that the history clearly demonstrates that there were different approaches prior to 9/11 and after 9/11" by the two sides.

Rove's comments drew harsh criticism from leading political voices. Less than a week ago, in a speech on the Senate floor, the Senate's number two Democrat, minority whip Richard J. Durbin, equated US soldiers' treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay to actions by Nazis.

Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, apologized Tuesday, after stern rebukes from the White House as well as a wide range of Republican lawmakers and conservative commentators. Rove's speech continued the assault on Durbin: ''No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals."

With the dust-up over Durbin's comments in mind, Democrats piled on Rove yesterday. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, noted that just after the Sept. 11 attacks, only one of the 535 members of Congress voted against authorizing military action in Afghanistan.

''I guess Karl Rove has decided to move to center stage in the theater of the absurd," Pelosi said. ''For him to try to exploit 9/11 for political purposes once again just shows you how desperate [the Republicans] are."

The office of Senate minority leader Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, issued a compendium of recent quotes from Republicans, titled ''Here we go again." The list included Rove's remarks as well as those of Senator Rick Santorum comparing Democrats' defense of the filibuster to actions by Hitler, and remarks from Representative John N. Hostettler this week saying that Democrats were drawn to ''denigrating and demonizing Christians" like a ''moth to a flame."

Email From John Kerry on Rove's Comments

Just hours after learning about an outrageous speech delivered by Karl Rove, President Bush's most senior advisor, I went to the Senate floor -- and I spoke from my heart. I want to share those words with you -- not as a Democrat or Republican, not as a liberal or conservative -- but as an American.

I've attached part of my speech to the end of this email. But, before you read what I said, look again at what Karl Rove said:

(P)erhaps the most important difference between conservatives and liberals can be found in the area of national security. Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers.

I hope you will join me right now in signing an open letter to the President urging him to thoroughly reject Karl Rove's purposeful attack on the patriotism of those who dare ask the tough questions that best protect American troops. Sign our open letter to President Bush now:

This isn't the first time that Karl Rove and other White House officials have sought to divide America in ways that make it harder to keep our country safe and our democracy strong. But, it should be the last. That's why I ended my speech with a call on President Bush to fire Karl Rove. It is the only way the President can make it clear that he rejects Rove's effort to distort one of the most unified and patriotic moments in American history into a cheap, divisive, political applause line.

That, of course, is what is most outrageous about Karl Rove's claim that President Bush's political opponents offered "therapy and understanding for our attackers." It isn't true. In the days after 9/11, there were no Democrats, no Republicans. We were all Americans, standing together. President Bush acknowledged that unity in a clear and compelling way at the time.

Now, Karl Rove is purposely twisting those days of unity in order to divide us for political gain. I hope you will act right now to join a growing chorus of Americans calling on the President to fire Karl Rove.

Please act right now. Sign our open letter to the President and pass it on to others. All Americans have to speak with one powerful voice in response to this outrage. I will continue speaking out and I know I can count on you to stand with me.


John Kerry

Make America Safe, Not Divided
Excerpts of remarks by Senator John Kerry on the Senate floor on Thursday, June 23.

"None of us here will ever forget the hours after September 11... and the remarkable response of the American people as we came together as one to answer the attack on our homeland.... [I]t brought out the best of all of us in America.

That spirit of our country should never be reduced to a cheap, divisive political applause line from anyone who speaks for the President of the United States.

I am proud, as my colleagues on this side are, that after September 11, all of the people of this country rallied to President Bush's call for unity to meet the danger. There were no Democrats, there were no Republicans, there were only Americans. That is why it is really hard to believe that last night in New York... the most senior adviser to the President of the United States [was] purposely twisting those days of unity in order to divide us for political gain.

Rather than focusing attention on Osama bin Laden and finding him or rather than focusing attention on just smashing al-Qaida and uniting our effort, as we have been, he is, instead, challenging the patriotism of every American who is every bit as committed to fighting terror as is he.

Just days after 9/11, the Senate voted 98 to nothing, and the House voted 420 to 1, to authorize President Bush to use all necessary and appropriate force against terror. And after the bipartisan vote, President Bush said: "I'm gratified that the Congress has united so powerfully by taking this action. It sends a clear message. Our people are together and we will prevail."

That is not the message that was sent by Karl Rove in New York City last night. Last night, he said: "No more needs to be said about" their "motives."

I think a lot more needs to be said about Karl Rove's motives because they are not the people's motives... They are not the motives of a nation that found unity in that critical moment--Democrat and Republican alike, all of us as Americans.

If the President really believes his own words, if those words have meaning, he should at the very least expect a public apology from Karl Rove. And frankly, he ought to fire him. If the President of the United States knows the meaning of those words, then he ought to listen to the plea of Kristen Breitweiser, who lost her husband when the Twin Towers came crashing down. She said: "If you are going to use 9/11, use it to make this nation safer than it was on 9/11."

Karl Rove doesn't owe me an apology and he doesn't owe Democrats an apology. He owes the country an apology. He owes Kristen Breitweiser and a lot of people like her, those families, an apology. He owes an apology to every one of those families who paid the ultimate price on 9/11 and expect their government to be doing all possible to keep the unity of their country and to fight an effective war on terror.

The fact is, millions of Americans...are asking Washington for honesty, for results, and for leadership--not for political division. Before Karl Rove delivers another political assault, he ought to stop and think about those families and the unity of 9/11.

Kerry Fights to Help Small Businesses and Farmers Deal with Soaring Fuel Costs

WASHINGTON, June 24 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), ranking member of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today announced the Senate passage of an amendment to the energy bill that will help small businesses and farmers affected by significant increases in fuel costs.

"Across the country, rising fuel costs are hammering small businesses, truckers and farmers. Skyrocketing fuels costs are a major hit on their hard-earned profits. It's pain at the pump that can literally destroy some businesses," said John Kerry. "With their budgets already tight and credit stretched thin, small- business owners and farmers need working capital to cope with this surge in fuel costs. Low-interest disaster loans can help. They are not a handout, but a smart, short-term investment for the government to make in our nation's economy."

Nationally, the average price of gasoline is now at $2.16, up 22 cents since last year, and the spot price of oil hit a record high of $58.90 just this week. The cost of home heating oil has risen as much as 45 percent.

The amendment (S.Admt. 825), modeled after Kerry's Small Business and Farm Energy Emergency Relief Act of 2005 (S. 269), gives small farms and businesses hurt by the price spikes in heating oil, natural gas, propane, gasoline, and kerosene access to low-interest credit through disaster loan programs at the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Kerry's amendment has bipartisan support. Also cosponsoring the amendment are: Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Jim Jeffords (I-Vt.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), and Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.).

Thursday, June 23, 2005

He's Back

Families of September 11 on Karl Rove's Statement

FOS11 Statement on Comments Made By Karl Rove

As families whose relatives were victims of the 9/11 terror attacks, we believe it is an outrage that any Democrat, any Republican, any conservative or any liberal, stakes a "high ground" position based upon the September 11th death and destruction. Doing so assumes that all those who died and their loved ones would agree. In truth, some would and some would not. By definition the conduct is divisive and, because it is intended to be self-serving and politicizes 9/11, it is offensive.

We are calling on Karl Rove to resist his temptations and stop trying to reap political gain in the tragic misfortune of others. His comments are not welcome.

Families of September 11 is a non-partisan nonprofit organization founded by the relatives of those who died in the attacks of September 11, 2001. For further information, please visit our website at

Kerry on Karl Rove's Comments

Text of John Kerry's Floor Speech on Karl Rove's 9/11 remarks:

Intro to Kerry's speech: "Karl Rove made some remarks last night that need to be addressed, that need to be apologized for..."

"Mr. President, None of us will ever forget the hours after September 11th, the calls to our families, the evacuations, the images on television -- and then the remarkable response of the American people as we came together as one to answer the attack against our homeland.

"We drew strength when our firefighters ran up the stairs and risked their lives, so that others might live. When rescuers rushed into smoke and fire at the Pentagon. When the men and women of Flight 93 sacrificed themselves to save our nation's Capitol. When flags were hanging from front porches all across America, and strangers became friends. It brought out the best in all of us.

"That spirit of our country should never be reduced to a cheap and divisive political applause line from anyone who speaks for the President of the United States. I am proud that after September 11th all our people rallied to President Bush's call for unity to meet the danger. There were no Democrats. There were no Republicans. There were only Americans. That's why is hard to believe that last night the most senior advisor to the President of the United States is twisting those days of unity to divide us, that rather than focusing attention on finding Osama Bin Laden and smashing Al Queda, he is instead challenging the patriotism of Americans every bit as committed to fighting terror as he is.

"For Karl Rove to equate Democratic policy on terror to "indictments" and "therapy" is an outrageous attempt to divide the nation at just the moment we must be unified. Just days after 9/11 the Senate voted 98-0 and the House voted 420-1 to authorize President Bush to use "all necessary and appropriate force" against terror. After the bipartisan vote, President Bush said, I quote: "I am gratified that the Congress has united so powerfully by taking this action. It sends a clear message - our people are together, and we will prevail."

"Karl Rove also said last night, quote: "No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals."

"Well, I think a lot more needs to be said about Karl Rove's motives, because they're not the people's motives, and if the President really believed his own words of unity, then he should fire Karl Rove. If the President of the United States knows the meaning of his own words, he should listen to the plea of Kristen Breitweiser, who lost her husband when the Twin Towers came crashing down: she said, "if you're going to use 9/11, use it to make this nation safer than it was on 9/11.

"And that's not being done. If you're going to use 9/11, if you're going to be impassioned about the lives lost on 9/11, then do so by making us safer."

"Karl Rove doesn't owe me an apology, he doesn't owe Democrats an apology, he owes her an apology -- he owes an apology to every one of those families who paid the ultimate price on September 11th.

"Millions of Americans across our country are questioning whether this Administration is making us safe. Kristen Breitweiser wants to tell her daughter that she'll grow up in a country safer than on the day her father was taken from her.

"Mothers and fathers spend sleepless nights worrying about sons and daughters in humvees in Iraq that aren't protected. They're asking Washington for honesty and results and leadership, not political division.

"Before Karl Rove delivers another political assault, he needs to think about those families. The 9-11 Commission has given us a path to follow, endorsed by Democrats, Republicans, and the 9-11 families. Implement the recommendations of that commission. We shouldn't be letting ninety-five percent of container ships come into our ports without ever being physically inspected. We shouldn't be leaving our nuclear and chemical plants without enough protection.

"Until they've done the work of making America safe, don't dare question the patriotism of Americans who offer a better direction. Before wrapping themselves in the memory of September 11th, and shutting their eyes and ears to the truth, they should remember what America is really all about -- that leadership isn't insult or intimidation, it's the strength of making America safe -- they should remember what their responsibility is to every American -- and start to do the work of living up to it."

Winning the Second Time

Article of Faith points out that "three of our greatest presidents, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Andrew Jackson all lost in their first runs for the presidency."

Of course that was before the right wing noise machine declared that each losing Democratic candidate was a terrible candidate and before far too many liberals began repeating these Republican talking points.

But Which Button Restarts My Game of Donkey Kong?


More From Rove

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If Durbin's words really put our troops in greater danger, how come the Republicans are repeating them so often, guaranteeing that more people will hear them?

Reid Response to Rove

Update to previous post on Rove's statement:


Democratic Leader Harry Reid released the following statement:

“I am deeply disturbed and disappointed that the Bush White House would continue to use the national tragedy of September 11th to try and divide the country. The lesson our country learned on that terrible morning is that we are strongest when we unite together, that America’s power is in its common spirit of democracy and freedom.

“Karl Rove should immediately and fully apologize for his remarks or he should resign. The lesson of September 11th is not different for conservatives, liberals or moderates. It is equally shared and was repeatedly demonstrated in the weeks and months following this tragedy as Americans of all backgrounds and their elected representatives rallied behind the victims and their families, united in our common determination to bring to justice those responsible for these terrible attacks.

“It is time to stop using September 11th as a political wedge issue. Dividing our country for political gain is an insult to all Americans and to the common memory we all carry with us from that day. When it comes to standing up to terrorists, there are no Republicans or Democrats, only Americans. The Administration should be focused on uniting Americans behind our troops and providing them a strategy for success in the war on terror and the conflict in Iraq. I hope the president will join me in repudiating these remarks and urge Mr. Rove to take appropriate action to right this terrible wrong.”

Rove Plays Politics With 9/11, Again

The New York Times quotes Karl Rove as saying, "Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers."

So much deceit is present in this single sentence.

The first part, regarding conservatives preparing for war, is technically true, but deceiving. Conservatives prepared for war not against the attackers, but instead took advantage of the attack to pursue their long term goals, such as the invasion of Iraq. This was the new Pearl Harbor which neoconservatives such as those in the Project For The New American Century had been waiting for, knowing such an event would be necessary to pursue their goals.

The second part regarding liberals is even more untrue. Yes, liberals wanted to prepare indictments, but supported a combination of criminal and military responses as appropriate. The line about offering therapy in nonsense. Liberals did acknowledge the need to understand the attackers in order to prevent further attacks, but that was not in place of military action.

The nation appeared to be standing together immediately post 9/11. Liberals were willing to back George Bush in any military response to the attacks. After all, it had been the Democrats who attempted to go after Bin Laden during the Clinton years despite opposition from the Republicans. It was the Clinton Administration which provided plans to deal with al Qaeda, which the Bush Administration ignored.

The difference was that liberals wanted to take action against the threat, while conservatives used 9/11 to further than political goals, resulting in a course which has increased our vulnerability to terrorist attacks. For that reason alone, the current crop of Republicans is unfit for national leadership.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Bush Provides New Training Grounds For Terrorists

More evidence of how George Bush has helped al Qaeda due to his reckless and senseless foreign policy:

Iraq May Be Prime Place for Training of Militants, C.I.A. Report Concludes


WASHINGTON, June 21 - A new classified assessment by the Central Intelligence Agency says Iraq may prove to be an even more effective training ground for Islamic extremists than Afghanistan was in Al Qaeda's early days, because it is serving as a real-world laboratory for urban combat.

The assessment, completed last month and circulated among government agencies, was described in recent days by several Congressional and intelligence officials. The officials said it made clear that the war was likely to produce a dangerous legacy by dispersing to other countries Iraqi and foreign combatants more adept and better organized than they were before the conflict.

Congressional and intelligence officials who described the assessment called it a thorough examination that included extensive discussion of the areas that might be particularly prone to infiltration by combatants from Iraq, either Iraqis or foreigners.

They said the assessment had argued that Iraq, since the American invasion of 2003, had in many ways assumed the role played by Afghanistan during the rise of Al Qaeda during the 1980's and 1990's, as a magnet and a proving ground for Islamic extremists from Saudi Arabia and other Islamic countries.

The officials said the report spelled out how the urban nature of the war in Iraq was helping combatants learn how to carry out assassinations, kidnappings, car bombings and other kinds of attacks that were never a staple of the fighting in Afghanistan during the anti-Soviet campaigns of the 1980's. It was during that conflict, primarily rural and conventional, that the United States provided arms to Osama bin Laden and other militants, who later formed Al Qaeda.


Kerry Proven Right, Yet Again, This Time on Ohio

I've had several posts (such as here and here) on how Kerry has been proven to be right over time on numerous election issues, such as Bush's "out-sourcing" of the hunt for Bin Laden and allowing Iraqi weapons to be stolen. Today more evidence came in that Kerry was also right despite attacks from both the left and the right on his handling of the Ohio vote.

After the 2004 election, Kerry was attacked by conservatives for stating that voter suppression influenced the election results. He has also been attacked by some liberals for not fighting more to expose what they believed was outright fraud.

A report entitled Democracy at Risk: The 2004 Election in Ohio was released today supporting Kerry's position against both types of attacks. The New York Times summarizes the report by stating, "A five-month study for the Democratic National Committee found that more than one in four Ohio voters experienced problems at the polls last fall, , but the study did not find evidence of widespread election fraud that might have contributed to President Bush's narrow victory there."

The report verifies Kerry's claims that voter suppression was a factor, and gives suggestions for future elections to reduce these problems. The lack of evidence of fraud in a this five-month study conducted by the DNC also shows that the attacks on Kerry in parts of the liberal blogosphere for not contesting the Ohio results were unwarranted.

Democratic Control of Senate a Possibility in 2006

The conventional wisdom has been that the Democrats will pick up seats in 2006, but have too many open Senate seats to defend to allow them to take control of the Senate. National Journal is now questioning this conventional wisdom:
With just under 18 months to go until Election Day 2006, things continue to look up for Senate Democrats. The ingredients -- violence in Iraq, the uneven economy and partisan tension -- are there for the party to make a comeback after two cycles of GOP dominance

Iraq, the number one issue for voters, is devouring the Republican Party. And with no new moment to look for that doesn't have the word "withdrawal" in it, it's hard to see how the situation improves before next November. We've caught Saddam Hussein, we've turned over power, we've held elections and the level of violence appears to be the same to the lay voter. We've been writing for months that at some point, Iraq was going to hurt the Republicans as much as it helped them in 2002. They lucked out in 2004, but 2006 is a whole new ballgame.
National Journal also ranks the most vulnerable races.

O'Reily: Lock Up Air America

If there was any doubt that some on the far right do not support the First Amendment, just take a look at this statement from Bill O'Reily's June 20 radio show, per Media Matters for America:
Everybody got it? Dissent, fine; undermining, you're a traitor. Got it? So, all those clowns over at the liberal radio network, we could incarcerate them immediately. Will you have that done, please? Send over the FBI and just put them in chains, because they, you know, they're undermining everything and they don't care, couldn't care less.

Kerry on Voting Rights Report

Kerry Statement on the Release of the DNC Voting Rights Institute Ohio Report

Click to View the Bill summary of Count Every Vote Act

“It couldn't be more clear from this far reaching study that America has some serious work to do to strengthen our democracy and secure the fundamental rights of all our citizens. The findings of the Ohio Election Report strike at the core of our most cherished values of freedom and equal opportunity, and should concern every American no matter their political party, who they voted for or their racial and economic backgrounds.

“Our democracy is only as strong as the people's faith that their voice counts and their votes will be counted. It is unacceptable that forty years after the Voting Rights Act, Americans are still being denied their fundamental rights and protections under the law.

“I compliment Governor Dean, Donna Brazile and the DNC Ohio Investigation Team for this thorough report that documents the abuses we fought against in neighborhoods, the courts and at the polls. The recommendations for future action are critical. I suggest another important measure - that any pattern of voter challenges based on race should be a per se violation of our civil rights and voting rights laws and Congress must address them in the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act in 2007.

“As we head into the 20005 and 2006 elections, I will work with the DNC and Democratic, Republican and Independent leaders across the country to implement the recommendations of this report and restore faith in American democracy. We must insist on reform at every level to stop voter suppression, strengthen voting rights and secure funding for election officials to purchase reliable and verifiable voting machines so that the discrepancies the voting rights team found in Ohio do not occur again.

“President Bush and Republican leaders should also read this report and use their control of Washington to take action on real electoral reform pending in the House and Senate.

“Protecting the right to vote isn't a Democratic or Republican value, it's an American value. Washington must pass reform like the Count Every Act of 2005, but we must also build a groundswell of support in communities across the country to hold elected leaders accountable for failing to protect the right to vote. “I will share the results of this study with elected leaders across the country and the hundreds of thousands of Americans who volunteered on my campaign in 2004. I am also committed to working with civil rights leaders and community activists across the country to secure real investments of time and resources for voter education and training.

“Forty years ago, in August 1965, the Voting Rights Act was signed by President Johnson. It was a landmark bi-partisan bill that allowed millions of Americans a true voice in our democracy. Forty years later as American troops put their lives on the line every day in the name of democracy across the world, we here at home must do everything we can to strengthen our democracy for all Americans.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Science Tuesday

I'm sure regular readers here realize that I scan through lots of political articles most days. I also go through several science articles and some days, like today, the science is more interesting to blog about than the politics.

AP reports that "Four decades after the birth control pill became available to women, researchers at the University of Kansas and the University of Kansas Medical Center are working to develop a similar contraceptive for men."

"The research is being conducted with a $7.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. Scientists will test compounds at a high-tech laboratory on the university's Lawrence campus."

I can imagine the lines of volunteers at that campus. If they really want to reestablish the United States's supremacy in science, I'd suggest they concentrate on a morning after pill for men. (The temporal mechanics would be particularly interesting).

Many political scientists believe that political beliefs are influenced more by upbringing and experience. "But on the basis of a new study, a team of political scientists is arguing that people's gut-level reaction to issues like the death penalty, taxes and abortion is strongly influenced by genetic inheritance. The new research builds on a series of studies that indicate that people's general approach to social issues - more conservative or more progressive - is influenced by genes."

Imagine the implications if stem cell research goes forward. We may one day be able to cure neoconservativism.

Those of us who work on blogs and political forums are familiar with using technology to shut up the more obnoxious trolls. This may soon be possible in the real world: "A remote control that allows you to switch off annoying noises could be available soon. The gadget – the size of a mobile phone – will allow you to zap the sounds of bickering children, thundering traffic, pounding road diggers, barking dogs or twittering colleagues.

"The sleek, high-tech silencer, called the Mute, uses technology created for use in hearing aids. It sends a signal via a wireless connection to two little 'buds', which users stick in their ears."

Imagine if this can be fine tuned to zap out the sounds of particular people.

I'll just quote this study out of Copenhagen without comment: "New research indicates parts of the brain that govern fear and anxiety are switched off when a woman is having an orgasm but remain active if she is faking."

Health Care Costs Continue To Rise

Yesterday we commented on an evaluation of proposals to control health care costs with John Kerry's proposals being more meaningful than the Republican plans. Today the Washington Post looks at health care costs. While those with lower incomes have been more likely to be unable to afford insurance in the past, it is feared that more in the middle class will be unable to afford insurance:

Health spending by privately insured Americans rose 8.2 percent in 2004, virtually the same increase as the previous year, according to analysts at the Center for Studying Health System Change, a nonpartisan research group.

More significantly, for the eighth straight year the growth in medical costs far outpaced the growth of wages -- by nearly four times in 2004 -- a trend that suggests more Americans will be unable to afford their health insurance, said the group's president, Paul Ginsburg.