Monday, October 31, 2005

Kerry: Bush Short-Changes Gulf Small Businesses Again

Bush is out of touch reality and fails Small Business again...

Today Senator John Kerry criticized the Bush Administration for sending up a third Hurricane relief proposal that is out of touch with the needs of the estimated 200,000 small businesses struggling to stay in business or reopen after the disasters.

“This is the White House's third funding request for Hurricane Katrina relief, and all three cheat small businesses and the people who work for them,” said Kerry, top Democrat on the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. “How long will it take before this Administration realizes that the key to the Gulf Coast's recovery is rebuilding the small business economy?”

Two weeks ago, Kerry wrote a letter with Senators Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), and David Vitter (R-La.) to the head of the Office of Management and Budget asking the Administration to redirect to small businesses $720 million of the $42 billion sitting idle at FEMA. In this latest Hurricane Katrina funding request, the Administration agreed to redirect some money, but ignored the Senators’ comprehensive solution.

Of the $17 billion redirected from unused Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds, the Administration only requested money for the SBA’s disaster loan program. That funding is insufficient to meet the needs of small businesses, which are also clamoring for contracting assistance, SBA counseling, and bridge funding from the states.

Kerry joined Snowe in introducing bipartisan legislation to fund small business assistance programs that have been neglected by the Bush Administration’s Hurricane Katrina requests. The Small Business Hurricane Relief and Reconstruction Act, S.1807, would authorize bridge grants and loans, defer payments on existing small business loans, and increase funding for disaster loans for small businesses in the damaged areas. The bill is co-sponsored by Senators Landrieu, Vitter, Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), and Jim Talent (R-Mo.). The Senate voted 96-0 to pass a similar version of the bill as part of the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) FY2006 Appropriations Act, which is now in conference.

Libby's Sex Shocker

With the presumption of innocence, we cannot say yet whether Scooter Libby will be convicted of perjury. We can say he is guilty of writing bad and depraved sex after reading The New Yorker. Check out what he has written about bears, young girls, and sex with deer.

“The Apprentice”—Libby’s 1996 entry in the long and distinguished annals of the right-wing dirty novel—tells the tale of Setsuo, a courageous virgin innkeeper who finds himself on the brink of love and war.

Homoeroticism and incest also figure as themes.

Where his Republican predecessors can seem embarrassingly awkward… Libby is unabashed.

John Kerry on the Nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court

As just reported, Bush has chosen Judge Samuel Alito to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court. Alito is reportedly so conservation that he has been dubbed "Scalito" or "Scalia-lite."

The following is a statement from John Kerry on the Nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court:

“Every American should be deeply concerned that the far right wing which prevented Harriet Miers from even receiving a Senate hearing is celebrating Judge Alito’s nomination and urging the Senate to rubber stamp the swing vote on our rights and liberties. Has the right wing now forced a weakened President to nominate a divisive justice in the mold of Antonin Scalia? With civil rights, privacy rights, and mainstream American values hanging in the balance, the President’s sagging political position in his own party is no excuse to reopen wounds in America which a President should seek to repair.

“In nominating a successor to Justice O’Connor, President Bush had the power to unite the country by nominating a highly qualified woman or minority who would put the Constitution first and reflect the diversity of our country. Instead, the record must be studied, the documents must be made available, and the questions must be answered conclusively, to determine whether the president has chosen to divide the country with a nominee outside the ideological mainstream.”

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Retracing the Struggle - Hundreds Gather to Re-enact Martin Luther King's March in Boston

(AP Photo/Lisa Poole)
John Kerry, applaudes Congressman John Lewis, of Georgia, as Lewis takes the podium to speak to a crowd today at the First Church in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston.

Hundreds of people "gathered in Boston this afternoon to re-enact a march that Martin Luther King led 40 years ago to protest school segregation in the city."

In April of 1965, King led marchers on a three-mile walk that ended with a rally on Boston Common. Later that year, the state Legislature passed a measure outlawing racially imbalanced schools.

Today's march was led by Congressman John Lewis of Georgia. As chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Lewis was one of the most prominent figures of the civil rights movement during the 1960s.

The event started at First Church in Roxbury and featured speeches by Senator John Kerry, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and gubernatorial candidate Deval Patrick.

The march also is designed to commemorate the 40th anniversary of King's historic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, to protest voting restrictions for blacks.

John Kerry sent out an email (hat tip to Whometense on DU)to his MA supporters earlier in the week asking them to join him on the march and said "The best way we can celebrate Rosa Parks' life and legacy is by acting on the courage of our convictions and holding our government accountable whenever our ideals of equality, freedom and justice are endangered."

Kerry Jabs Bush in Nyack, NY

John Kerry was in Nyack, NY yesterday, stumping for Rockland county executive candidate Ellen Jaffee, a Democratic county legislator from Suffern. Kerry has been actively supporting Democrats across the country in upcoming 2005 elections. While in Nyack, Kerry poked more than a few jabs at Bush and his fellow floundering republicans...

The indictment of high-ranking Bush administration official was a sad day in America, former presidential candidate John Kerry said today at the Nyack Center.

"This is the first time in 130 years that a prosecutor knocked on the door of the White House to deliver a felony count," the Democratic senator from Massachusetts said of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, who has been charged in the investigation into the leaking of a CIA operative's name to the press.


Friday, October 28, 2005

John Kerry on the Libby Indictments in CIA Leak Case

John Kerry issued the following statement on the indictment of Scooter Libby on 5 counts (one count of obstruction of justice, two counts of making false statements and two counts of perjury in the CIA leak probe) today:

“Today’s indictment of the Vice President's top aide and the continuing investigation of Karl Rove are evidence of White House corruption at the very highest levels, far from the 'honor and dignity' the president pledged to restore to Washington just five years ago.
Read more »

John Kerry on Bush’s Terrorism Speech Today

Bush gave a speech today in Norfolk, VA in attempts to bolster support for the Iraq War. Bush's speech was more of the same old, same old... "We will never back down." He still doesn't get that the American public is tired of hearing his lies.

John Kerry issued the following statement on President Bush’s speech today in Norfolk, VA:

“Caught up in a wave of indictments and concerns about the war in Iraq, President Bush again tried to distract and divide Americans with more of the same standard fare rhetoric.
Read more »

Thursday, October 27, 2005

John Kerry Interview with Alan Colmes

After watching John Kerry's speech at Georgetown just a while ago on C-Span, I moved on to watch the video of Alan Colmes interviewing John Kerry. It was far better than I anticipated...

Watch the interview here.

The transcript is available here.

Here's a quip from the interview...

Read more »

NPR: Kerry Urges Troop Withdrawals Post-Iraq Elections

All Things Considered on NPR will air an interview with John Kerry on his speech earlier today, the audio for this story will be available at approx. 7:30 p.m. ET

All Things Considered, October 26, 2005 · Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) calls on President Bush to start major withdrawals of troops from Iraq if the December Iraqi elections are a success. He delivered his comments during a speech at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. The senator speaks with Melissa Block about his plan.

UPDATE: Audio Available Here

"You will not end this insurgency at the mouth of a gun barrel. You have to have a political solution."

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Kerry to Pull No Punches Taking on the Bush Administration in Iraq Speech Today

John Kerry will be delivering a speech on Iraq, today, at 1:00 p.m. est, at Georgetown University. In his speech he will will leave no doubt about his position on the Iraq war. From advance excerpts of Kerry's speech, it's clear that he will hold no punches...

Kerry will be offering a detailed, concrete plan from troop draw-down, to Iraqi troop training, to regional security arrangements, to political solutions, to reconstruction. He will propose a 12-15 month plan that will help stabilize Iraq and bring our troops home, starting with the process of reducing our forces by withdrawing 20,000 troops over the course of the holidays.

In his speech today, Kerry speaks truth to power. As he did thirty five years ago with his Fulbright Commission testimony, John Kerry will take on those who say we can’t ask tough questions because we are at war, and he will insist instead that in a time of war we must ask the hardest questions of all. Kerry will argue, “no matter what the President says, asking tough questions isn’t pessimism; it’s patriotism.” This belief is fundamental to John Kerry’s character.

In stark and honest contrast to the Bush Administration’s shifting rationales for war, John Kerry will tell the truth that this country and the Congress were misled into war. He will reiterate, as he said more than a year ago that, knowing what we know now, he would not have gone to war in Iraq.


The Full Text of John Kerry's Speech is Available Here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Statement from John Kerry on the Loss of the 2,000th American Service Member in Iraq

Senator John Kerry released the following statement today the loss of the 2,000th American Service Member in Iraq:

“We learned today of the 2,000th American military fatality in the war in Iraq - Staff Sgt. George Alexander Jr. Throughout our history, brave men and women have stepped forward to serve our country and selflessly put their lives on the line in times of war and great danger. We are America the free because of them.

“This is another tragic milestone in the war in Iraq, a heart-wrenching day for more than 2,000 American families who have lost sons and daughters, husbands and wives. America honors the service of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, and we join their families and loved ones in mourning their loss. Today as we laid another son of Massachusetts to rest in the soil at Arlington National Cemetery, I am reminded of the way our state of Massachusetts continues to answer the call to service. Each day is a blessing and a gift made possible by those who have answered the nation’s call. Their service and that of their families is as noble as their selflessness is humbling.

“We have a sacred obligation to all our brave men and women in uniform to make the right decisions in Iraq so that we can bring our forces home as soon as possible, leaving behind a stable Iraq.

“I hope that everyone will take a moment and say a prayer for peace and a prayer of thanksgiving that there are people like these so willing to serve our country.”

John Kerry Statement on Passing of Rosa Parks

Senator John Kerry issued the following statement on the passing of Rosa Parks:

“On December 1, 1955, a seamstress from Montgomery, Alabama, became a hero when she sat down on a bus to stand up for the civil rights of all Americans.

“I remember reading about Rosa Parks when I was a kid, and I will never forget last year meeting this courageous woman who helped bend the course of history by risking her life doing what today Americans can take for granted.

“Rosa Parks’ passing reminds us of the responsibility we each have to make our America freer and stronger. Our work is not yet complete to guarantee civil rights, voting rights and human rights are protected in this country. The best way to celebrate Rosa Parks’ life and legacy is by acting on the courage of our convictions and holding our government accountable whenever our ideals of equality, freedom and justice are endangered.

“Rosa Parks remains in death what she was in life: a legend who will be remembered in our history books as well as our hearts because we would not be the country we are today without her courage so many years ago. Now she must inspire us to be the still greater country we are capable of becoming.”

Monday, October 24, 2005

Kerry at Georgetown Prior to Iraq War

While waiting for John Kerry to speak on national security at Georgetown later this week I was reviewing his statement there from January 23, 2003. If only George Bush had listened:

As I have said frequently and repeat here today, the United States should never go to war because it wants to, the United States should go to war because we have to. And we don’t have to until we have exhausted the remedies available, built legitimacy and earned the consent of the American people, absent, of course, an imminent threat requiring urgent action.

The Administration must pass this test. I believe they must take the time to do the hard work of diplomacy. They must do a better job of making their case to the American people and to the world.

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.

Fitzgerald May Be Investigating Lies Which Led to War

Martin Walker, an editor at UPI, believes that Fitzgerald’s investigation might be including how Bush lied in order to obtain support for going to war. While there is a lot of speculation and little firm knowledte of what Fitzgerald will do, he bases his speculation on two facts:

The first is that Fitzgerald last year sought and obtained from the Justice Department permission to widen his investigation from the leak itself to the possibility of cover-ups, perjury and obstruction of justice by witnesses. This has renewed the old saying from the days of the Watergate scandal, that the cover-up can be more legally and politically dangerous than the crime.

The second is that NATO sources have confirmed to United Press International that Fitzgerald’s team of investigators has sought and obtained documentation on the forgeries from the Italian government.

Fitzgerald’s team has been given the full, and as yet unpublished report of the Italian parliamentary inquiry into the affair, which started when an Italian journalist obtained documents that appeared to show officials of the government of Niger helping to supply the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein with Yellowcake uranium. This claim, which made its way into President Bush’s State of the Union address in January, 2003, was based on falsified documents from Niger and was later withdrawn by the White House.

This opens the door to what has always been the most serious implication of the CIA leak case, that the Bush administration could face a brutally damaging and public inquiry into the case for war against Iraq being false or artificially exaggerated. This was the same charge that imperiled the government of Bush’s closest ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, after a BBC Radio program claimed Blair’s aides has “sexed up” the evidence on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.

There can be few more serious charges against a government than going to war on false pretences, or having deliberately inflated or suppressed the evidence that justified the war.

Bush's Approval Remains at 38%

Bush’s approval remains unchanged over the past month according to the American Research Group: “Among all Americans, 38% approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president and 55% disapprove. When it comes to Bush’s handling of the economy, 34% approve and 59% disapprove.”

Kerry Stole the Show

The Note has some items on John Kerry today:

Roll Call’s Nicole Duran Notes that of the “21 Republican and 12 Democratic Senators who will face voters in November of 2008,” Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) was “the biggest spendthrift,” collecting $1.8 million and ending the quarter with “roughly $300,000 in the bank.”

Kerry, by the way, was spotted out on U Street Northwest on Thursday night being cool.

Roll Call’s Mary Ann Akers reports that Kerry “stole the show” at the “uber-hip” Tabaq Bistro on Thursday, at a benefit for the Whitman-Walker Clinic. “Kerry made a surprise appearance to support his staffers Heather Zichal and Heather Higginbottom, both of whom are training for the upcoming AIDS marathon and helping to raise money for Whitman-Walker.”

“The Senator hung out with the crowd and even played a few songs on a guitar he borrowed from the band hired to play for the event. He played Chuck Berry’s ‘Johnny B. Goode’ and a few Beatles riffs, our source says.”

Bursting the Bubble - Again

There's not much I can say after watching "Inside the Bubble" last night that has not already been said here either by myself (here and here) or Ron (here and here), and yet there is so much to say. I kept waiting for that moment to come when I would get the point that the director, Steven Rosenbaum seems to be struggling to make - but that moment never came. All I can say, I'm sorry to burst the bubble - again.

Steven Rosenbaum says on his Blog about the documentary, "Inside the Bubble":

"Those of you who've followed this film know that it's been an emotional road. No one sets out to make a film about a losing candidate for President. We though we were chronicalling a winner. And after that fateful day in November, 2004 - we spent a bunch of months with the footage under lock and key.

I find Rosenbaum's statement to be very telling about the direction of the film. When I first wrote about "Inside the Bubble", I said:

"One has to wonder what the film would have played like, if things had turned out differently. Anyone with an inkling into the film business knows that a film such as this is skewed to the view of the producer. While Rosenbaum may have started the film process with one vision, clearly his focus changed for some feeble attempt of personal gain."

After watching the entire film, courtesy of Mr. Rosenbaum (as I seem to have raised his ire with my previous posts about the film) , I can only reiterate that... What would the focus of this film have been if things had turned out differently? Watching the film, I see the perspective of a bitter filmmaker who is either unable to see clearly what really happened last November or is looking to recoup his investment on the misfortune of the entire country.

There are no lessons to be learned from "Inside the Bubble," except perhaps that being a campaign staffer on the road in a presidential election is grueling, exhausting and sometimes mindboggling. Yet, in the midst of all of that, we see in the film that those who traveled day in and day out with the Kerry campaign managed to keep a sense of humor and a level of camaraderie that is admirable and endearing. What Rosenbaum attempts to portray as flaws of character within the staff are human moments that everyone under pressure are prone to.

There are no policy secrets, there are no looks deep inside the workings of the campaign. Policy secrets, stategy sessions, issues discussions are not present in the film and quite frankly, I understand why the staffers in the film, would not have had those discussions in front of the camera -- the possibility that any one of the "Inside the Bubble" crew could have leaked information they overheard during filming.

The film loosely weaves back and forth skipping from one day to another with out clarity most of the time. Although occassional dates and locations are flashed on the screen, many things are taken out of context of the sequence of actual campaign events and twisted into the view of the film editor in what appears to be attempts to confuse the reality of the events.


Saturday, October 22, 2005

A Year Too Late

The auto industry has realized the need for health care reform. Rather than speaking out now, where were they a year ago when one candidate had a reasonable solution?

Friday, October 21, 2005

Inside The Bubble: A Review

Inside the Bubble started out with a major strike against it. A few days prior to its release there were media claims that the movie "could end up being the silver bullet that kills Kerry's presidential chances for 2008." When discussing the movie, director Steven Rosenbaum didn't portray the movie as being this damaging to Kerry, but has suggested his movie provides valuable insights into why Kerry lost. Now that Rosenbaum has kindly send me a review copy I can say that both views of the movie are incorrect.

The movie appears more like the work of an amateur filming randomly with a camcorder than as a serious documentary. A segment on making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches is given equal weight to complaints of Kerry staffers about Dick Cheney attacking Kerry by taking his statements out of context. Isolated problems, such as a snafu with the teleprompter at one speech, are stressed over the substance of the campaign. By both lacking access to those actually running the campaign, and by neglecting to provide serious analysis, the movie is unable to provide any meaningful insight as to why Kerry lost.

The film repeatedly substitutes cheap shots for serious analysis. The movie starts with Kerry staffers being excited over the exit polls and predicting victory, returning to this many times throughout the film. Before laughing at those who were overly confident of victory, we must remember how widespread such optimism was on election day. There are many other times in which it appears Rosenbaum is attempting to place the campaign in as bad a light as possible. I've previously discussed the clips of Hillary's scowl at one of the debates. The movie goes even beyond the clip I previously viewed in giving the impression that Kerry committed a gaffe with no word that his statements were verified by

Editorial comment is inserted into the film by providing periodic opinions of others without consideration of the validity of their complaints. When Kerry has an expert on stem cell research answer a reporter's question, the reporter's protest that this is "lame" is blindly accepted. There are frequent cuts to Vanity Fair columnist Michael Wolff who is typically critical of the campaign but lacking in sound arguments. Rosenbaum shows Karl Rove accusing Kerry of flip flopping, and then cuts to Wolff who makes the same charge based solely on the IWR vote. If Rosenbaum desired to provide meaningful commentary he might have provided background to show how the ambiguities of the vote made it a poor litmus test on the war. He might have added pre-war clips of Kerry warning George Bush not to rush to war, or perhaps of John Kerry calling for regime change in the United States at the time of the invasion. With all the time spent on trivia, Rosenbaum could have found a few moments to show portions of Kerry's Senate floor statement, or his Georgetown speech, to clarify his views on Iraq.

The lies of the Swift Boat Vets are handled as poorly as Kerry's position on Iraq. At least there are a few brief comments from Kerry staffers on the unfairness of the attacks. Staffers are also shown discussing the dangers of responding to what started out as an internet ad as this would provide more exposure to the story. Wolff calls the attacks true, even if not accurate, based upon the fact that Kerry was an opponent of the Vietnam war. He overlooks the serious inaccuracies in both the attacks on Kerry's war record and in the distortions of Kerry's anti-war activities by the Swift Boat Liars.

In uncritically disseminating the untrue right wing talking points that Kerry was a flip flopper, that Kerry's position on Iraq was in any way similar to Bush's, or that there is validity to the attacks of the Swift Boat Liars, Rosenbaum fails to understand both John Kerry and the issues surrounding the 2004 election.

As the movie fails as a serous analysis of the election, it does provide some moments of excitement as we see Kerry campaigning. The scenes which humanize Kerry may ultimately be beneficial to him considering the stereotype spread by the media. This could have been a far better film if it had done more to capture the excitement and hopes of the fall of 2004 as we believed we had the chance to bring about change. One Democrat who does come out appearing good in the movie is Joe Biden who confronts political reporters pointing out that the story should be about what comes out of the candidate's mouth, not the stories the media preferred such as which operative won the internal campaign battle of the day. Biden's criticism of the news media's coverage of the election also provides lessons which Rosenbaum should have considered in the production of this movie.

Kerry, Landrieu Press Republican Leadership to Help Hurricane-Ravaged Small Businesses

Kerry, Landrieu Press Republican Leadership to Help Hurricane-Ravaged Small Businesses; Bill Would Also Help Farmers and Truckers Dependent on Price of Gas

10/21/2005 1:24:00 PM

To: National Desk, Business Reporter

Contact: Marc Comer of the Office of Sen. Kerry, 202-224-8496; Sally Richardson of the Office of Sen. Landrieu, 202-224-4893

WASHINGTON, Oct. 21 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Despite estimates of than 400,000 jobs lost and 250,000 small businesses hurt by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Republican leadership in Congress has stalled a package of emergency economic aid and federal assistance for small businesses and others reeling in the Gulf Coast since Sept. 30. Late yesterday, Sens. John Kerry and Mary Landrieu went to the Senate floor to break the logjam and finally get small businesses the help they so desperately need.

"Up to now, Congress and the White House have said to small business owners: 'You're on your own,'" Kerry said. "It's outrageous to think that after providing $62 billion, Congress has yet to designate a penny for small business relief. We all know that small businesses are at the heart of the Gulf Coast's economy, crucial to the rebuilding effort, and important for getting people back to work, but will small businesses in the Gulf Coast have to wait five months, like they did after 9-11, before they get help?"

A key provision in the bill gives small businesses across the country access to low-interest disaster loans to cope with the increased costs of oil, natural gas, and gasoline. This will especially benefit farmers, truck drivers, and others whose livelihood heavily depends on the price of gas.

"Small businesses are the engine of our economic growth. This was true before Katrina, and it remains true as our small businesses move our economy forward as we rebuild from the greatest natural disaster in U.S. history," said Sen. Landrieu. "Since Hurricane Katrina first hit our shores, 53,900 businesses have asked for Washington's help, but so far only 58 of theses businesses have received any assistance. Washington has promised real help for the people of the Gulf Coast -- it is time to stop making promises and to start fulfilling them."

So far, the Small Business Administration has received 135,000 applications, yet only 2,050 have been approved. Of those, only 105 have been for small businesses. In addition, the Louisiana Department of Economic Development estimates that its program to help businesses on the ground in Louisiana will run out of funding today. Along with the SBA failures, this further jeopardizes Louisiana businesses.

Kerry (D-Mass.) is the Ranking Member of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee. He introduced the Small Business Hurricane Relief and Reconstruction Act, S.1807, with Landrieu (D-La.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), and David Vitter (R-La.).

This isn't the first time the Republican-controlled Senate and White House have stalled emergency assistance for small business owners in need. Kerry authored a similar assistance package to small businesses recovering in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, which was also blocked by Republicans for five months.

In addition to the gas and heating fuel assistance, the package provides:

-- Funding to Gulf states to provide bridge loans or grants that will be rapidly approved by state agencies to help businesses that are waiting for SBA loans, other financial assistance, or insurance payments

-- A one-year deferral on the interest and payments for SBA disaster and 504 loans

-- Access to 30 percent of all federal contracts and 40 percent of subcontracting dollars used in the recovery and relief effort

-- Increased opportunities and protections for disaster- related prime contracts and subcontracts

-- Expanded Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) status, which gives small businesses in the area a preference when bidding on federal contracts

-- Increased counseling and business assistance provided through the SBA's entrepreneurial development centers, including Small Business Development Centers, SCORE, Microloan Technical Assistance, Women's Business Centers, and Veterans Business Outreach Centers

-- Greater opportunities for small construction companies to receive SBA bonding assistance, which is a type of financial loss insurance on the contract

-- The ability to refinance existing disaster loans and existing business debt with low-interest disaster loans

Also cosponsoring the bill are: Sens. Jim Talent (R-Mo.), Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), and Evan Bayh (D-Ind.).

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Intelligent Design and the Flu

From the Letters to the Editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Applying one’s beliefs

The development of a vaccine for avian influenza is totally dependent upon an understanding of natural selection, molecular genetics and evolution. This is in conflict with the theory of intelligent design and thus provides a marvelous opportunity for proponents of that concept to stand up for their beliefs and refuse to be inoculated. They would also be doing their part to make sure that there is enough vaccine for the rest of us.

Richard G. Fried, M.D.

Kimberton, Pa.

(Besides providing a greater supply of the vaccine for others as Dr. Fried suggests, such a course may also help improve the gene pool–something the supporters of intelligent design will never understand.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

O'Reilly Considering Retirement

It looks like spewing all that viciousness and hatred is taking its toll on Bill O’Reilly, who finds his battles “tremendously wearing and debilitating.” Newsday reports he is even considering retirement. “That depends on how I feel physically. Like an athlete, the body breaks down after a while. There’s only so much aggression you can absorb [but] right now, I have no other vocational aspirations.”

Perhaps O’Reilly finds this so wearing because he fails to understand how he creates so much of the problem. O’Reilly claims, “We’re a defensive player except on the kids’ stuff [and] then we’re on the offense.” In reviewing his frequent attacks on the mainstream media, Newsday finds O’Reilly’s assessment “debatable if not delusional.”

It sounds to me like retirement is a good idea. I wish O’Reilly a long and healthy retirement–and it cannot start soon enough.

Time to Defeat DeLay, Santorum and Reed

In an email today from John Kerry's Keeping America's Promise PAC, Kerry says, it's time to "break the Republican's grip on power." Tops on the list of those who have got to go: DeLay, Santorum and Reed.

It's the question that's on everyone's mind: with Republican incompetence, cronyism and corruption on full display, when are Democrats going to stand up and break the Republicans' grip on power and finally move America forward?

How about right now?

If you've had it with incompetent, divisive, uncaring Republican officials, I hope you will act immediately to help Keeping America's Promise wage an all-out effort to remove the worst of the bunch from office in the upcoming elections. Support Keeping America's Promise

I'm talking about people like Tom DeLay whose bare-knuckled, dictatorial style has earned him a nickname -- the Hammer . . . like Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania, the leading Senate apologist for the miserable record of the Bush administration . . . like Ralph Reed, the former radical right leader turned Abramoff-tainted lobbyist now running for lieutenant governor in Georgia.

One thing is certain: America would be better off if the 2006 elections ended with all three of these figures -- DeLay, Santorum and Reed -- standing in defeat. And your support for Keeping America's Promise's grassroots efforts to win the most critical electoral contests of 2005 and 2006 can drive them from office.

Reed was one of the architects of brutal attacks on the patriotism of Senator Max Cleland, a Vietnam War hero, and he's counting on benefiting from a new poll tax in Georgia that puts barriers in the path of voters. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says that the Republicans' tactics will "make Georgia the toughest place in the nation to vote." [editorial, 3/22/05]

Like DeLay, Reed has been tainted by his closeness with out-of-control Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the central figure in a Republican lobbying scandal that has rocked the Republican establishment.

To those of us who want to move America forward, the upcoming elections have now become a contest over the strength and vibrancy of democracy itself. From key Senate races to critical House races to vitally important state and local contests, we've got to make our voices heard.

From Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania to Conrad Burns in Montana to Jon Kyl in Arizona, 15 Republican Senators are up for re-election in 2006. Keeping America's Promise will do whatever we can to make sure they are thrown out of office before they can do any more damage and that they are replaced with Democratic Senators who will move America in the right direction.

With your help, Keeping America's Promise will use newspaper ads, radio ads, online organizing campaigns and more to expose Republican politicians and their record of inaction on the issues that really matter to America's families.

And that's just the start. Keeping America's Promise is also working hard to help Democratic candidates squaring off face-to-face with the Republican Party's relentless, win-at-any-cost tactics.

From the vitally important governors' races this year in Virginia and New Jersey . . . to the campaigns of Senate colleagues like Hillary Clinton, Dianne Feinstein and Maria Cantwell . . . to key Democratic challengers like Bob Casey in Pennsylvania . . . with your help, Keeping America's Promise is putting the strength of a powerful grassroots movement into winning key elections.

We're helping at every level of government. By November 2005, we will have supported candidates and causes in a majority of states across the country and invested or raised over $2.3 million to help Senate, House, gubernatorial, mayoral and other candidates as well as national and state Democratic party committees. And we're backing that up with multi-media campaigns, voter mobilization drives and more to make the voices of grassroots Democrats heard in the most critical contests.

This is the kind of all-out Democratic effort that requires your immediate help.

Support Keeping America's Promise

Make no mistake about it. The Washington Republicans have thrown down the gauntlet. They've made it clear that they intend to keep pressing forward with their radical agenda and keep ignoring the real needs of America's families.

Don't let them get away with it. Lend your immediate financial support to
Keeping America's Promise right now.

John Kerry

Monday, October 17, 2005

Cheney Possibly Implicated in Plame Leak

Bloomberg reports further speculation that Dick Cheney, along with Karl Rove and Lewis Libby, is a target of the Fitzgerald’s investigation into the Plame leak:

A special counsel is focusing on whether Vice President Dick Cheney played a role in leaking a covert CIA agent’s name, according to people familiar with the probe that already threatens top White House aides Karl Rove and Lewis Libby.

The special counsel, Patrick Fitzgerald, has questioned current and former officials of President George W. Bush’s administration about whether Cheney was involved in an effort to discredit the agent’s husband, Iraq war critic and former U.S. diplomat Joseph Wilson, according to the people.

Fitzgerald has questioned Cheney’s communications adviser Catherine Martin and former spokeswoman Jennifer Millerwise and ex-White House aide Jim Wilkinson about the vice president’s knowledge of the anti-Wilson campaign and his dealings on it with Libby, his chief of staff, the people said. The information came from multiple sources, who requested anonymity because of the secrecy and political sensitivity of the investigation.

Dobson Told Miers Will Vote to Overturn Roe v. Wade

The Wall Street Journal reports on a conference call which reveals why Dobson has backed Harriet Miers. Reportedly he was told she would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade:

According to the notes of the call, Mr. Dobson introduced them by saying, “Karl Rove suggested that we talk with these gentlemen because they can confirm specific reasons why Harriet Miers might be a better candidate than some of us think.”

What followed, according to the notes, was a free-wheeling discussion about many topics, including same-sex marriage. Justice Hecht said he had never discussed that issue with Ms. Miers. Then an unidentified voice asked the two men, “Based on your personal knowledge of her, if she had the opportunity, do you believe she would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade?”

“Absolutely,” said Judge Kinkeade.

“I agree with that,” said Justice Hecht. “I concur.”

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Two Days in October - A Look Back to 1967

PBS is airing a documentary tomorrow night, October 17th that is well worth watching: Two Days in October.

I received a screening copy of the documentary the other day and finally sat down to watch it last night. It's hard not to reflect on the parallels of the what is happening now in our country and Iraq when watching Two Days in October. For all of us who question why we are in Iraq and the role of propaganda in our government and and our media, it's a compelling look at striking similarities.

Some stayed. Some went. All fought.

In October 1967, history turned a corner. In a jungle in Vietnam, a Viet Cong ambush nearly wiped out an American battalion, prompting some in power to question whether the war might be unwinnable. On a campus in Wisconsin, a student protest against the war spiraled out of control, marking the first time that a campus anti-war demonstration had turned violent.

American Experience presents Two Days in October, based on the book They Marched Into Sunlight by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Maraniss. From director Robert Kenner (War Letters, Influenza 1918, John Brown's Holy War), this moving film examines the critical events that took place in the turbulent fall of 1967.

The emotionally wrenching parallel stories are told by the people whose lives were irrevocably changed by what happened -- American and Viet Cong soldiers, relatives of men killed in battle, protesting students, police officers, and university faculty and administrators. Collectively, their words speak to the heartbreak caused by the war and the stark division it wrought on the home front. "Nearly forty years later, it's obvious that the pain lies just below the surface for those who were involved," says Kenner. "They're still affected by those two days."

One of the aspects of the film that struck me, was the accounts by the soldiers who were in the battle recounted in the documentary. One day, I thought to myself, there will be men years later, who will never heal from their time in Iraq. One day the truth will come out (not that much has not already), and the division that runs deep in our country today over Iraq, will continue to linger as the division has over the Vietnam War.

We saw first hand what that division over the Vietnam War was capable of in the election last year and that rift still continues as some still push their pent up frustrations on John Kerry. Some will never understand what compels a man to stand up and speak truth to power, yet many understand full well the feelings echoed here...

In Two Days in October Maurice Zeitlin explains that he feels his opposition to the Vietnam War was his duty as an American citizen:

"I have only respect for the men who fought in that war, because they didn't make the war, they didn't choose to fight in that war, but they accepted a responsibility that they thought was theirs as an American citizen... They carried the burden of being an American citizen. When they were sent to war, they fought.

"And I carried the burden, not at all comparable, of being an American citizen by opposing that war... And, for that, I was privileged and they weren't, but we were both doing our duty."

Two Days in October provides a look at lessons to be learned from those who's lives will never be the same, after their participation in those two unforgettable days in October.

You can explore the stories of ten people interviewed in the film here: Firsthand Accounts. I definitely give this film two thumbs up. It's a must see.

A Reality Check for Joan Vennochi

In today's Boston Globe, Joan Vennochi, known for spewing venom about John Kerry, writes that John Kerry needs a reality check. What's interesting about Vennochi's column today is she makes a big deal about Hillary and an upcoming fundraising event in Boston and makes a veiled claim that this means something in terms of support for Kerry in MA, if he does run again in 2008. HOGWASH. And Vennochi herself even contradicts her point, here:

But because presidential politics is first about money, a second, credible Kerry presidential campaign is not impossible: ''John Kerry represents the most likely person to be the credible alternative," says Steven Grossman, the past Democratic National Committe chairman and Howard Dean presidential campaign chairman. Grossman attributes Kerry's status to his fund-raising capability, coveted e-mail list of 3 million, and battle-tested experience.

Why Vennochi is chattering about 2008 is beyond me, other than attempting to stir the pot, there's no substance to her column, today. Yes, Ted Kennedy stated the other day that if Kerry runs again, and Hillary runs as well, he will support Kerry. That's a given. For anyone with any smarts, the choice is clear between the two.

As to the fundraiser coming up in Boston at the end of this month, that Vennochi spins is all about Hillary, it's not. The hostess of the event says as much, and who the honary co-chairs are says as much as well...

On Oct. 28, philanthropist and Democratic activist Barbara Lee is sponsoring a rally and fund-raiser for four female US senators -- Clinton of New York, Dianne Feinstein of California, Maria Cantwell of Washington and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan. Lee, a past Kerry presidential supporter, is also a huge advocate for female candidates, from the local to national level. As far as 2008, Lee said it is ''too early to talk about it, or think about it. "

But the reality is that in Boston, events like the Oct. 28 gala are rock star moments for Clinton; and the battle lines between two senators' presidential dreams are apparent.

In Boston fashion, however, everyone pretends they are not. Teresa Heinz Kerry is one of the event's honorary co-chairs, along with Kennedy's wife, Victoria Reggie Kennedy.

Honestly, the only one who needs a reality check is Ms. Vennochi for her attempts to spin something from a whole lot of nothing. John Kerry himself has stated it's all about 2006 right now and he's helped to raise money for Hillary's re-election.

As for how the good people from MA feel about Kerry running again, if he chooses to, I'm not sure who Vennochi is speaking for, but I suspect it's just herself. Everyone I know from MA, feels the same way I do about the possibility of Kerry running again - ECSTATIC.

Note to Joan Vennochi: Take a lesson from John Kerry... Right now it's all about '06. Until he states categorically that he is running again, all you are doing is spewing conjucture and sturring up trouble. But, we all know that's something you are good at. I'll give you one bit of credit, Ms Vennochi, at least you were fairly objective in today's column. A little more of that would go a long way.

Friday, October 14, 2005

John Kerry on the Passing of Vivian Malone Jones

Senator John Kerry issued the following statement on the passing of Vivian Malone Jones:

"Today we live in an America where we can take it for granted when millions of African Americans register for college classes without facing death threats. It's too easy for some to forget a very different time in America when two extraordinary two high school graduates named Vivian Malone Jones and James Hood had to put their lives on the line and help break the backbone of segregation just to register for college classes. Today we each need to take a moment to remember that in 1963 at the University of Alabama, two African-American students' simple wish to earn a college degree from an accredited, whites-only institution was unthinkable -- almost.

"On the morning of June 11 of that year, Vivian Malone Jones, who passed away yesterday, and James Hood walked up to Foster Auditorium to register for their first classes at UA. There they were confronted by none other than the Governor George C. Wallace, who blocked them from entering with his infamous promise to 'stand in the schoolhouse door'. "Fortunately, the federal government demonstrated courage rare for that period in our history, and intervened to allow these students to register. For Vivian Malone Jones and James Hood the fight was just beginning. Their academic years were not always pleasant. They stood up to racism and bigotry with quiet, steely resolve every day, and Vivian Malone Jones defied those who sought to deny her equal opportunity and graduated in 1965 with a degree in business management. "In her life that followed, she was a shining example of the power and endurance of the human spirit. She went on to work for the civil rights division of the U.S. Department of Justice, and served as director of civil rights and urban affairs and director of environmental justice for the Environmental Protection Agency. Most poignantly, many years after she faced its namesake at the schoolhouse door, the George Wallace Family Foundation chose Jones to be the first recipient of its Lurleen B. Wallace Award of Courage.

"Remembering and reflecting on the courage of those we have lost is important to maintaining and furthering the progress of the Civil Rights Movement. We mourn the loss of Vivian Malone Jones today with great sympathy for her family and all those whose lives she touched. Her legacy is alive every time -- without controversy, without threats of violence, without fear -- a young African American can walk through those schoolhouse doors and realize the promise of the American Dream and the real meaning of equal opportunity."

John Kerry Requests $720 Million for Small Business Hurricane Relief

John Kerry led a bipartisan group of Senators today in "urging the White House's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to redirect $720 million of the $62 billion already appropriated by Congress for the hurricane recovery effort. The funding would be designated specifically for small business relief."

Since Hurricane Katrina hit, the Small Business Administration has received nearly 10,500 applications for small business loans. Fewer than 50 have been approved.

"How can the Administration claim to support small businesses without designating a dime of the $62 billion in hurricane relief funds for small businesses?" Kerry said. "Given the administration's woeful record of delivering loans and assistance to small businesses devastated by the hurricanes, there needs to be real resources provided to ensure small companies get the grants, loans and assistance they so desperately need. It makes no sense leaving billions of dollars lying around when small business owners and the thousands they employ are struggling to make ends meet and put their lives back together."

According to the latest weekly report from the Department of Homeland Security, $42 billion of the $62 billion appropriated for the relief efforts have not been obligated for specific needs. Of the $720 million the Senators are requesting for small businesses, $450 million would go directly to the affected states, and $270 million would go to strengthen and expand assistance provided by the Small Business Administration and its resource partners.

"Redirecting $720 million from unused funds of the $62 billion for relief through the Small Business Administration would still leave sufficient amount for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Homeland Security to continue their relief efforts," wrote the Senators.

In September, Kerry -- who is the top Democrat on the Senate Small Business Committee -- introduced an amendment to the Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill that would provide small businesses devastated by the hurricanes greater access to loans, increased contracting opportunities and much-needed technical assistance. The amendment was cosponsored by Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), Barack Obama (D-Ill.), and Jon Corzine (D-N.J.). The Kerry amendment was later incorporated into a bipartisan amendment (S.A. 1717) that passed the Senate as part of the CJS appropriations bill on Sept. 15, 2005.

Today's request by Kerry was co-signed by Mary Landrieu (D-La.), David Vitter (R-La.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and John Cornyn (R-Texas).

Related Small Business news including John Kerry's ongoing battle to help Small Businesses affected by Hurricane Katrina can be found here.

Intelligent Design Equals Creationism (Equals Bunk)

We’ve never had any doubt that the use of the term “intelligent design” is just an attempt to pass off creationism with a new word. The Panda’s Thumb presents more evidence of this. They present court transcripts which show that the publishers of a major textbook promoting intelligent design just took out the word “creationism” from the text and substituted “intelligent design.” In the wrong hands, find and replace capabilies of word processors can be a dangerous thing.

Intelligent Design and the Constitution

The Washington University Law Quarterly has a review of the Constitutional issues involved in the teaching of Intelligent Design. (Hat tip to Leiter Reports). They conclude with:

There is little question that intelligent design proponents have a serious dispute with the scientific community’s virtually unanimous support for the proposition that evolution happens—in both micro and macro forms. But this dispute is at bottom a religious, not a scientific dispute. Both scientists and the government must respect the rights of private individuals to reject scientific conclusions on religious grounds in favor of intelligent design and other theocentric approaches to humanity’s origins. But at the same time scientists must be allowed to do science and science teachers must be allowed to teach it—unconstrained by the objections of those who find science inconsistent with their religious beliefs. As Bertolt Brecht’s Galileo noted, “the sum total of the angles in a triangle can’t be changed to suit the requirements of the curia.” The Court’s Establishment Clause jurisprudence makes it clear that modern governments can’t alter basic scientific conclusions to suit the requirements of politically powerful religious groups, either.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

John Kerry Campaigns Against Prop. 75 in Los Angeles

John Kerry was in Los Angeles today with Mayor Antonia Villaraigosa to support the fight against the Governator's Proposition 75.

Proposition 75 is a ballot initiative on union dues that could end up depriving union members and working people of having a say in California politics. It would require public employee unions to seek written permission from members before using dues for political purposes.

Kerry, speaking outside a downtown firehouse, said the initiative would condemn workers to "a completely unfair system."

The proposal "represents part of an ongoing effort by the Republican Party to create an unfair playing field, to change the balance of democracy in America," the former Democratic presidential nominee said. "They want a one-sided argument — their side."

While pharmaceutical, insurance and other industries pump millions of dollars into political races, the California proposition would "take away the voices of the firefighters, the police officers, the teachers, the nurses," the Massachusetts senator said.


Kerry takes on Schwarzenegger over union power

Kerry takes on Schwarzenegger over union power
Thu Oct 13, 2005 08:55 PM ET

By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Sen. John Kerry, losing Democratic U.S. presidential candidate in 2004 and a possible contender in 2008, took on Republican California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday by lobbying against his initiative to curb the power of the state's labor unions.

Kerry was the second leading national politician this week to weigh in on California's Prop. 75 ballot initiative, which would require unions to get approval from members before using dues for political causes.

"This represents part of an ongoing effort by the Republican Party to create an unfair playing field, to change the balance of democracy in America," Kerry said.

"They are willing to try to take away the democratic rights of working Americans," said the Massachusetts senator, who was speaking to reporters at a fire station with Democratic Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, also seen as a possible presidential challenger in 2008, had appeared with Schwarzenegger to campaign for the initiative on Monday.

Democrats have criticized McCain as an out-of-state politician who had no business telling Californians how to vote but Kerry, asked about the same issue, said the ballot measure had national ramifications.

California and the political power of its public employee unions could be critical in the 2008 election. Public employee unions have fought bitterly against Prop. 75, pouring some $100 million into the campaign ahead of the November 8 election.

Kerry took shots at Schwarzenegger directly, saying the governor who gained power in part by vowing to reject special interest money had "raised three times the special interest money than Gray Davis," the incumbent Democrat he defeated.

Todd Harris, a spokesman for Schwarzenegger, called Prop. 75 a critical reform for California, where public employee unions have long had enormous influence in the heavily Democratic state legislature.

"There is no question the legislature in Sacramento is bought and paid for by union bosses," he said. "The fact that the union bosses have been able to spend over $100 million to fight against these reforms is evidence that they have too much power. The governor has said enough is enough."

McClellan Accuses Helen Thomas of Opposing War on Terrorism

McCarthyism is alive and well in the Bush White House. Not only has the Bush Administration used 9/11 to justify their invasion of Iraq, they now are trying to label those who oppose the Iraq War as being opposed to the fight against terrorism. Look at this exchange with Helen Thomas (from Editor & Publisher):

THOMAS What does the President mean by “total victory” — that we will never leave Iraq until we have “total victory”? What does that mean?

McCLELLAN: Free and democratic Iraq in the heart of the Middle East, because a free and democratic Iraq in the heart of the Middle East will be a major blow to the ambitions –

THOMAS If they ask us to leave, then we’ll leave?

MR. McCLELLAN: I’m trying to respond. A free and democratic Iraq in the heart of the broader Middle East will be a major blow to the ambitions of al Qaeda and their terrorist associates. They want to establish or impose their rule over the broader Middle East — we saw that in the Zawahiri letter that was released earlier this week by the intelligence community.

THOMAS They also know we invaded Iraq.

McCLELLAN: Well, Helen, the President recognizes that we are engaged in a global war on terrorism. And when you’re engaged in a war, it’s not always pleasant, and it’s certainly a last resort. But when you engage in a war, you take the fight to the enemy, you go on the offense. And that’s exactly what we are doing. We are fighting them there so that we don’t have to fight them here. September 11th taught us –

THOMAS It has nothing to do with — Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.

McCLELLAN: Well, you have a very different view of the war on terrorism, and I’m sure you’re opposed to the broader war on terrorism. The President recognizes this requires a comprehensive strategy, and that this is a broad war, that it is not a law enforcement matter.


TERRY MORAN On what basis do you say Helen is opposed to the broader war on terrorism?

McCLELLAN: Well, she certainly expressed her concerns about Afghanistan and Iraq and going into those two countries. I think I can go back and pull up her comments over the course of the past couple of years.

MORAN And speak for her, which is odd.

McCLELLAN: No, I said she may be, because certainly if you look at her comments over the course of the past couple of years, she’s expressed her concerns –

THOMAS I’m opposed to preemptive war, unprovoked preemptive war.

MR. McCLELLAN: — she’s expressed her concerns.

The Conservative Crack-Up

Sooner or later, a coalition including everyone from the religious right to big business to libertarians had to collapse. Richard Fineman believes the conservative crack-up is occuring now.

The neocons still believe that their position on Iraq was right but “was botched by a Bush team that has turned out to be incompetent, crony-filled, corrupt, unimaginative and weak over a wide range of issues.”

The flight of the neocons — just read a recent Weekly Standard to see what I am talking about — is one of only many indications that the long-predicted “conservative crackup” is at hand.

The “movement” – that began 50 years ago with the founding of Bill Buckley’s National Review; that had its coming of age in the Reagan Years; that reached its zenith with Bush’s victory in 2000 — is falling apart at the seams.

Ultimately the only group the Republicans really serve is the ultra-wealthy. While they might hide it behind rhetoric, their top priorities are to cut taxes on the ultra-wealthy while using government programs to enrich them. Along the way, they are willing to undermine our national security with a senseless war, or trash the Constitution to pander to the religious right, if it means picking up more votes.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

David Brooks on Why Conservatives Oppose Miers

With the White House being unlikely to provide any documents written by Harriet Miers writen while working for the President she considers the most intelligent man she ever met, we are limited to reviewing her older writings. David Brooks provides some examples and argues that “nothing excuses sentences like this:”

“More and more, the intractable problems in our society have one answer: broad-based intolerance of unacceptable conditions and a commitment by many to fix problems.”

Or this: “We must end collective acceptance of inappropriate conduct and increase education in professionalism.”

Or this: “When consensus of diverse leadership can be achieved on issues of importance, the greatest impact can be achieved.”

Brooks provides further examples but is unsure if this is enough. “I don’t know if by mere quotation I can fully convey the relentless march of vapid abstractions that mark Miers’s prose. Nearly every idea is vague and depersonalized. Nearly every debatable point is elided.”

We may not agree with conservative intellectuals, but we can feel their pain. They are in the same situation we are in when liberal views are misrepresented by the likes of the KosKlownKids. Whether or not we agree with them, there is a distinct difference between the conservative thinkers and those who run the Republican Party. Brooks explains this well:

The conservative movement was founded upon the supposition that ideas have consequences. Conservatives have founded so many think tanks, magazines and organizations, like the Federalist Society, because they believe that you have to win arguments to win political power. They dream of Supreme Court justices capable of writing brilliant opinions that will reshape the battle of ideas.

Republicans, who these days are as likely to be members of the corporate establishment as the evangelical establishment, are more suspicious of intellectuals and ideas, and more likely to believe that politics is about deal-making, loyalty and power. You know you are in establishment Republican circles when the conversation is bland but unifying. You know you are in conservative circles when it is interesting but divisive. Conservatives err by becoming irresponsible. Republicans tend to be blown about haplessly by forces they cannot understand.

Brooks has often spread the Republican talking points which try to prevent exposure to Democratic ideas by falsely claiming Democratics have none. Finally he is catching on to the truth. It is the Republican Party which has abandoned ideas for power and greed.

Ted Kennedy: I’ll Support Kerry in 2008 Race

Today, the senior Senator from MA, Ted Kennedy, added more speculation to the 2008 presidential race...

Sen. Edward Kennedy said Wednesday he would back fellow Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 even if Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton also pursues a White House bid.

"If he runs, I would support him," Kennedy told The Associated Press in an interview at his Boston office.

While Kennedy has frequently entertained the New York senator and her husband, former President Clinton, he said his loyalty is to Kerry. Early polling shows Clinton and Kerry among the favorites for their party's nomination in 2008, but neither has said for sure whether they'll run.

Kennedy called Kerry, the 2004 nominee, an "able, gifted and talented political leader."

He criticized President Bush's leadership and said of the American people: "Every day, I think they regret that John wasn't elected."

"We haven't had accountability and we haven't had real leadership in dealing with these issues and problems," he said, "and that's what I hear more than anything else."

The White House had no immediate comment.

Kerry Fights to Get Small Businesses Fair Share of Gulf Coast Recovery Contracts

Today, John F. Kerry sent a letter to the head of the Small Business Administration (SBA) urging him to do more to ensure small businesses are awarded contracts related to Hurricane Katrina rebuilding efforts.

Citing recent reports showing that over 90 percent of prime contracting dollars were given to companies from outside the affected area and that 80 percent of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) contracts were awarded with little or no competition, Kerry called upon the SBA to take immediate action on behalf of small businesses in the Gulf Coast.

“Given the administration’s woeful record of delivering loans and resources to small businesses and the sheer size of the reconstruction effort, there needs to be a legitimate effort to guarantee small companies can compete for their fair share in the rebuilding effort as prime contractors. That's a win-win because it helps rebuild the Gulf Coast while helping the small businesses which are the engine of our economy,” said Kerry, top Democrat on the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

Kerry urged the SBA to increase the number of staff responsible for overseeing small business contracts, pointing out that the Agency has sent only four Procurement Center Representatives to monitor the billions of dollars in contracts up for grabs after Katrina. In his letter, Kerry also expressed concern about recent data showing that 99 percent of the 8(a) contracts awarded by the Army Corps of Engineers were given as sole-source awards to just two companies.

“Given the administration’s poor record on standing up for small businesses and the sheer size of the reconstruction effort, it makes sense that every contract be reviewed to ensure small companies have the chance to get their fair share in the rebuilding effort as prime contractors,” Kerry said.

The letter is part of Kerry’s continued efforts to fight for small contractors in the region. In September, Kerry introduced an amendment to the Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill that would establish a goal to award at least 30 percent of prime contract dollars and 40 percent of subcontract dollars related to Katrina rebuilding efforts to small businesses. The amendment was cosponsored by Senators Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), Barack Obama (D-Ill.), and Jon Corzine (D-N.J.).

Meirs' Base of Support

While it seems that virtually everyone, left and right, objects to the Harriet Miers nomination she has one base of support. The one group that Republicans are guaranteed to serve, big business, supports her. The Christian Science Monitor looks at Miers’s support in the business community. “Not since Richard Nixon tapped Lewis Powell in 1971 has a president picked nominees with as much corporate experience as Chief Justice Roberts and, more recently, Miers.”

I think this tells a lot where Bush’s real priorities are. Hopefully those who repeatedly vote Republican in opposition to their economic interests will also see this, regardless of the comments he makes to please them.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Rove's Discussions with Dobson

The Constitution calls for Supreme Court Justices to be appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. In Bush World there is a different procedure as the support of James Dobson is more important. Knight Ridder reports on the conversations between Karl Rove and James Dobson:

In a private conversation designed to garner support for the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, White House aide Karl Rove told a key conservative Christian leader that the Texas lawyer had taken positions that “would not be supportive of abortion.”

The unusual contact between Rove and James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, a Colorado evangelical group staunchly opposed to abortion, came two days before President Bush announced Miers’ nomination.

To paraphrase Arnold Vinick, Republican candidate for President on last week’s episode of The West Wing, if Dobson wants a say in Supreme Court nominees, he should run for the Senate. Vinick, played by Alan Alda, also noted how damaging groups similar to Focus on the Family have been to the Republican Party.

Another Bad Day for Republicans

More bad news for Republicans today. AP reports that Frist accumulated stock outside of the blind trusts. According to AP, “ethics experts say a partnership arrangement shown in documents obtained by The Associated Press raises serious doubts about whether the senator truly avoided a conflict.”

National Journal reports that Scooter Libby did not tell the grand jury about a key conservation he had with New York Times reporter Judith Miller in June 2003 about Valerie Plame. “Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald apparently learned about the June 23 conversation for the first time just days ago, after attorneys for Miller and The New York Times informed prosecutors that Miller had discovered a set of notes on the conversation.”

The Case for Kerry 2008

David Yepsin discusses Kerry’s visit to Iowa, and provides reasons for a repeat run in 2008:

What’s the case for another Kerry run?

• He came close, oh so close, in 2004. Bush got 51 percent. Kerry got 48 percent. Only 120,000 more votes in Ohio, and you wouldn’t be reading this column.

Kerry reminded his Des Moines audience of his strong showing by saying: “Remember, we won 10 million more votes than we’ve ever won in a presidential race in the history of the country. We actually exceeded our targets in every single precinct. Trouble is, they learned how to get out the vote, too, which means we just have to get out and find more votes.”

Considering Kerry was running against a wartime president, someone Americans are always reluctant to boot from office, he didn’t do that poorly.

• Kerry’s been vetted. He’s been through the crucible once, and the lessons he learned would be useful again.

Media people, opponents and voters have all had a chance to study the man. Many saw him as presidential material. He did well in the debates. The smear attacks on him in 2004 will be old news in 2008. And considering how poorly Bush has been doing of late, Kerry looks better by the day.

• He was a classy loser. Unlike Al Gore, who skulked off to grow a beard, Kerry withdrew quickly and honorably. He set about tending his duties in the U.S. Senate, giving speeches and trying to help fellow Democrats win elections in 2006, which is shaping up to be a good year for them.

• Kerry understands why he lost. Strategists in his camp say if he does run again, the campaign will be more nimble in responding to attacks than it was in 2004. He won’t be isolated from key Democrats seeking to offer advice.

Also, Democrats hindered Kerry by nominating him a month before Republicans re-nominated Bush. That made Kerry the official candidate of his party before Bush became the official candidate of his, which limited Kerry’s ability to spend money to respond to the attacks coming from the other side. It’s a mistake Democrats won’t repeat.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Kerry Still Plugging for Energy Assistance for the Poor

Earlier today, I posted a thread about the defeat of the Kerry Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Amendment last Thursday. AP News is reporting that John Kerry is not letting this rest. It's unthinkable to me, that Republicans do not see the need to increase funds for energy program to help the poor pay their heating bills when heating bills are expected to increase about 47 % this winter.

Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said last week that additional money was "not on the agenda." However, department spokesman Craig Stevens said Monday, "I think it's an option on the table."

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., says the program's impact is diminishing because funding has not kept up with rising fuel prices.
Read more »

RIP Theodore Roosevelt Heller

Obituary from The Chicago Tribune. Hat tip to TalkLeft, where one comment noted that, being in Chicago, he can continue to vote Democratic even after death. Note the request that, “In lieu of flowers, please send acerbic letters to Republicans.”

Theodore Roosevelt Heller, 88, loving father of Charles (Joann) Heller; dear brother of the late Sonya (the late Jack) Steinberg. Ted was discharged from the U.S. Army during WWII due to service related injuries, and then forced his way back into the Illinois National Guard insisting no one tells him when to serve his country. Graveside services Tuesday 11 a.m. at Waldheim Jewish Cemetery (Ziditshover section), 1700 S. Harlem Ave., Chicago. In lieu of flowers, please send acerbic letters to Republicans. Arrangements by Chicago Jewish Funerals, Douglas MacIsaac, funeral director 847-229-8822,
Published in the Chicago Tribune on 10/10/2005.

Kerry in St. Paul Today

Kerry Campaigning For Coleman In St. Paul Today

(AP) St. Paul Former Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry is in town Monday morning to stump for a St. Paul candidate for mayor.

Chris Coleman is running against fellow Democrat and St. Paul Mayor Randy Kelly. Kelly endorsed President George W. Bush instead of Sen. Kerry last year.

Kerry is scheduled to speak at Macalester College at 9:30 Monday morning. Tickets are required to attend the visit.

Coleman received nearly twice as many votes as Kelly in the city's nonpartisan primary last month. St. Paul residents will choose between Kelly and Coleman in November's general election.

Kerry Stresses Values

Kerry stresses values in Iowa speech
By Charlotte Eby

DES MOINES — In a return trip to Iowa, former Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry told a group of women activists it is time to reopen the values debate in America.

During a Sunday morning speech, the Massachusetts senator said it is good that religion has become more of a part of the public dialogue in the country as long as faith translates into action.

“Faith without works is dead,” Kerry said.

Close to 150 people packed a small Asian restaurant in Iowa’s capital city for Kerry’s speech in front of a Democratic women’s group.

Kerry said he has continued to push for some of the things his presidential campaign talked about last year, including the “fundamental notion” that all children should have access to affordable health care.

He said parents should not have to deny their children the best care because they can’t afford it, and took a pointed shot at Republicans on values issues.

“I can’t find anything in any religion anywhere, I certainly cannot find anything in the three-year ministry of Jesus Christ, that says you ought to take health care away from poor children or money away from the poorest people in the country to give it to the wealthiest people in the nation,” Kerry said.

Kerry, whose ascension to the party nomination began with a first-place win in the Iowa caucuses last year, said Democrats can’t “sit around and cry in your teacup and lament” about last year’s election results.

He pointed out the Democratic presidential ticket got 10 million more votes than any previous election, but said the party will have to step up its efforts to beat Republicans.

Kerry has not said whether he’ll again seek the Democratic nomination in 2008, but is among several in his party who have begun courting activists in Iowa, which kicks off the nomination contest.

Marti Anderson, who leads the Democratic Activist Women Network, called Kerry’s message Sunday “critical.”

“We’ve got to get back to doing better for everyone together as a community,” she said.

Monica McCarthy, a Creston Democrat who drove an hour to see Kerry, welcomed his call for a values debate.

“I think too many times, that’s something the Republicans use, and I don’t believe they are ‘moral value’ people any more than we are,” McCarthy said. The 60-year-old grandmother and quality engineer for automatic coffee makers, worries whether she’ll have money to retire and is concerned about the struggles of the working poor.

Charlotte Eby can be reached at

(515) 243-0138 or

Des Moines Register on Kerry in Iowa

Kerry stays visible with visit to Iowa

Democratic activists say he must make a strong case for their support if he decides to run for president.


October 10, 2005
U.S. Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts on Sunday thanked Iowa activists who launched his rise to the Democratic presidential nomination last year and used his role as party standard bearer to rally activists for 2006.

"You can't sit around and cry in your teacup and lament about it. You've got to take that frustration . . . and channel it," he told more than 300 Des Moines-area party faithful at a fundraiser for Democratic women.

"And we almost achieved it last time," he said, recalling record turnout by Democrats in his losing effort to unseat President Bush.

But Iowa Democratic activists, including some of his closest supporters in the lead-off precinct caucuses last year, say Kerry cannot expect their automatic support should he run for president a second time.

"I have a feeling that people have a hard time, after someone hasn't been able to pull it off, getting behind them again," state Rep. Janet Petersen of Des Moines said. "So if Sen. Kerry wants to run again, he's really going to have to make a case."

During the weekend visit to Iowa, Kerry set himself apart from former Vice President Al Gore, who annoyed some party loyalists in Iowa and elsewhere for losing touch after he lost the election of 2000.

Kerry's work to stay in the public eye, including his second Iowa trip since the 2004 election, was not lost on those who gathered at A Dong Restaurant to see him Sunday morning.

"What I admire is that Sen. Kerry has stayed visible unlike Gore," West Des Moines Democrat Avon Crawford said at the Des Moines event.

Kerry's come-from-behind victory in the 2004 Iowa caucuses set in motion a near-sweep of the subsequent primaries and caucuses. He narrowly lost the state to Bush in the November election.

In 2000, Gore won the caucuses and carried Iowa in the general election but did not return to Iowa until fall 2002.

Kerry returned to Iowa a month after the election last year, and he has twice since visited New Hampshire, where he won the 2004 presidential primary. Kerry also has contributed more than $5 million to Democrats around the country so far this year.

"It's the importance of my responsibility as a nominee and as a senator and as a public person not to turn my back on the invested effort of millions of Americans," Kerry said.

Kerry met privately with some of his key caucus campaign supporters after arriving Saturday evening. After the Des Moines fundraiser Sunday, he traveled to Cedar Rapids to speak at an event for a City Council candidate. He finished the day by attending a Johnson County Democratic Party organizing event.

Although Kerry's visibility and party involvement contrast sharply with Gore's after 2000, Kerry shed little light about whether he is planning to run again.

Instead, he said it is his duty to help prepare Democrats nationally for the 2006 campaigns.

"The bottom line is that this work has got to be done. Having been out there as a national candidate, I know what it means when you have legislators that are there for you. These are things that have to happen, and I'm going to fight to make them happen, period," he said. "I'm not going to worry about what people read into it."

Petersen, who was among about 15 people who dined with Kerry on Saturday, said she believed that Kerry's focus was solidly on 2006.

Des Moines developer Harry Bookey, who also met with Kerry on Saturday, said that 2008 will present new circumstances for the party, and that it's not clear whether Kerry would come out on top.

A factor that could complicate a second Kerry bid is Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, whom Kerry considered making his running mate last year and whom is considering a campaign for president in 2008.

"I still think Kerry would be an excellent president," said Bookey, who contributed $10,000 this year to both Vilsack's and Kerry's political action committees. "Whether the political dynamics are going to be there for him to win is something that I think only time will tell.

Kerry Energizes Iowa Democrats

Kerry energizes county Democrats

In his first trip back to Johnson County since his presidential campaign, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., told a group of Democrats gathered at Elizabeth Tate High School that the party has a lot of work to do.

"We're fighting for the heart and soul of our nation, for who we are as a civilized nation, as people around the world look at us," he said.

"Americans are good hearted people; Iowans are good hearted people. But do you see that translated into policy?"

Kerry's talk was the highlight of an organizing event for the Johnson County Democrats. Party leaders introduced local candidates and grassroots organizations and asked those in attendance for their help as caucus and precinct leaders.

Sarah Swisher, chairwoman of the Johnson County Democrats, told the crowd of more than 200 people that she sensed energy in the Democratic Party.

"It's sort of a fever, an undercurrent," she said.

"Because nothing is going right in this country and it's certainly something everyone in this room could have predicted."

Local party leaders unveiled a strategic plan the Johnson County Democrats developed after surveying residents and elected officials.

Nick Maybanks, a candidate for County Attorney, outlined four goals the survey identified: to educate Democrats on policy and current issues, to recruit strong candidates, to build a more efficient party and to support and coordinate with grassroots organizations.

He said ad hoc committees already have started work on how to implement those goals.

Kerry, who earned 64 percent of the vote in Johnson County, but came up one percentage point behind President Bush overall in Iowa in 2004, told the crowd that their local efforts have bigger implications.

"What you do here, it all makes a difference to the national level too," he said. "It's all connected, folks."

After his speech, Kerry met with local grassroots organizations, shook hands and even signed a Tate student's skateboard.

Cassandra McWane, 15, said after Kerry signed her skateboard he offered her some advice.

"He was like, 'Please don't break your neck,'" she said. "It was awesome."

Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, attended the event. He said he thought Kerry's talk would move some Johnson County Democrats to action.

"I think it energized people," he said. "I think it's pretty clear the country's headed in the wrong direction and we've got to change the country starting at the local level."

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Bush Poll Numbers Hit New Lows

It looked like his support might have been leveling off, but Bush’s approval ratings have dropped further to only 37% in the latest CBS News poll. Even his approval on fighting terrorism has fallen under 50% to 46%. 55% believe going into Iraq was a mistake (with 41% supporting the action). The number who say we should leave is up to 59% with only 36% believing we should stay until Iraq is stabilized.

69% of Americans say things in the U.S. are on the wrong track which is the highest number since CBS News started asking the question in 1983. Only 26% believe things are going in the right direction.

Congress isn’t all that popular either, but 43% have a favorable view of Democrats in Congress while 37% have a favorable view of Republicans.

Bush: God Ordered Invasion of Iraq

A new BBC series quotes George Bush telling Palestinian ministers that God had told him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq and to create a Palestinian State. According to the BBC:

President George W. Bush told Palestinian ministers that God had told him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq - and create a Palestinian State, a new BBC series reveals.

In Elusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs, a major three-part series on BBC TWO (at 9.00pm on Monday 10, Monday 17 and Monday 24 October), Abu Mazen, Palestinian Prime Minister, and Nabil Shaath, his Foreign Minister, describe their first meeting with President Bush in June 2003.

Nabil Shaath says: “President Bush said to all of us: ‘I’m driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, “George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan.” And I did, and then God would tell me, “George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq …” And I did. And now, again, I feel God’s words coming to me, “Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East.” And by God I’m gonna do it.’”

Bush claims justification from God for his actions. Personally I wonder if he didn’t just hear voices while drunk or using drugs.

"Smear Boat" Veterans File Publicity Stunt Lawsuit

They are at it again... those "Smear Boat" Veterans who are shills for the Republican Party. One would think that the Republican Party is in enough hot water right now (corruption, cronyism, scandals) and these fools would know better than to start dredging around for more publicity for their lost cause. But NO... Carlton Sherwood and his band of twisted cohorts who defamed John Kerry, are suing John Kerry and a former campaign staffer, claiming that they defamed him.

David Wade a Kerry spokesperson told AP News yesterday, "This is simply more of the same smears and sleaze against a decorated Vietnam veteran from more of the same serial liars who disgraced themselves in 2004. It's too bad the truth doesn't matter to the right wing when there's a chance to fund-raise based on outright falsehood and slander."

Carlton Sherwood claims that "the film was funded only by Vietnam veterans from Pennsylvania." Sherwood, himself is resident of Harrisburg, PA. The group fronting for Carlton Sherwood in the filing of this lawsuit is the Vietnam Veterans Legacy Foundation, who weren't even in existence during the 2004 campaign. Their website states they were launched on "05/05/2005."

This lawsuit is nothing more than another pathetic attempt by the people who masterminded the Swift Boat attacks and their allies to get publicity and raise funds for their bizarre and divisive right wing cause, not to mention their defense in a lawsuit pending against Carlton Sherwood by someone depicted in the film. This is the classic MO of these Swifties -- to make false and wild accusations in a desperate attempt to get media attention and raise money.

No doubt Nixon dirty trickster and Bush ally John O'Neill is wrapped up in this latest invention to keep himself and his twisted right wing cause in the news and smear any veteran who dares to speak truth to power. In fact, sources tell me that recently O'Neill sent out a fundraising email to gin up the right wing by once again exploiting the Vietnam tragedy and the politics of smear and fear, all in the name of cash.

But it won’t work. John O’Neil and the "Smear Boat" veterans were discredited by every major media outlet for their false and baseless attacks in 2004. The film Stolen Honor was also widely criticized in 2004 for its baseless accusations and a slanted viewpoint. Media outlets across the country refused to air it. In fact, the movie was SO FAR out of the mainstream, that even right wing Sinclair Broadcasting had to give up their plans to air it. Stolen Honor's producer, Carlton Sherwood, is known to be a "highly partisan right wing activist", a former Bush advisor, who is a "discredited" journalist.

As I mentioned, there is a lawsuit pending against the producers of Stolen Honor by someone depicted in the film, and in fact there are multiple lawsuits against Carlton Sherwood, et al. These lawsuits are still pending in court and this new lawsuit by this new Swift Boat front group clearly looks like an attempt to try to muddy the waters.

The Swift Boat attack team truly represents the very worst in American politics -- the smear and fear tactics so prevalent from the right wing. But, we are on to their tricks and tactics and we will not tolerate them. The truth is America is sick of them too.

Americans have seen too many times, how the right wing tries to destroy anyone with the courage to stand up to them -- whether it was John McCain in South Carolina in '00, Max Cleland in '02, John Kerry in '04, or even the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq in '05.

They will stoop to record lows to squash dissent and hold onto their power... Why? Because they hate John Kerry for his courage 35 years ago for standing up to Richard Nixon. And because, they fear John Kerry today because he still has the courage to hold Washington Republicans accountable. John Kerry has been on the the most hated list of every Republican president since Nixon. Think Iran Contra, think BCCI. He is their worst enemy.

So now we see, once again, that the right wing has gone right back to their disgraceful dirty tricks. The idea that these proven serial liars would sue John Kerry for libel is laughable... it is like an arsonist suing the guy who called 911 to get the firefighters before the building burned down. There was indeed lying, slander, and libel in 2004 and, it was done by these very same extreme right wing partisans.

John Kerry spoke the truth to power when he came home from Vietnam and he still continues to do so every day. Democrats need to stand with John Kerry and let him know "we've got your back."

Democrats need to fight back. Because, this isn't just about John Kerry. This is about every veteran who dares to dissent, this is about every man or woman in this country who has dared to speak the truth to power and been slimed by the partisan right wing hacks fronting for those who wrongly hold power in this country.

The culture of corruption is rampant in the Republican Party and this is just another sign of that corruption. It's time to make a stand. We've recently seen attempts to "Swift Boat" Cindy Sheehan and Paul Hackett. We can not allow this to continue.