Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Brad Blog Reports Kennedy to Question 2004 Election in Rolling Stone Article

Brad Blog reports that Bobby Kennedy, Jr. has an article in Rolling Stone to be released later this week questioning the results of the Ohio vote in the 2004 election. According to Brad Blog:

The article — headlined on the cover as “Did Bush Steal the 2004 Election?: How 350,000 Votes Disappeared in Ohio” — has been several months in development and will contend that a concerted effort was undertaken by high-level Republican officials to steal the Election in Ohio — and thus the country — in 2004!

Kennedy told The BRAD BLOG this morning that “the best evidence says the Republicans succeeded” in their plan.

He writes in the 10-page long article, and confirmed to us today, that evidence shows Ohio Sec. of State J. Kenneth Blackwell was “certainly in on” the scheme, and there are indications that the effort went all the way up to the White House.

Assuming Brad Blog’s report is accurate, and assuming that Kennedy presents convincing evidence to support this article, this could have a major impact on how the 2004 election is perceived beyond the blogosphere.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Kerry Refuting Swift Boat Lies, Again

If John Kerry is going to have a chance to win in 2008 it will be necessary for him eliminate the controversy created by the Swift Boat Liars. Even though the facts were clear that O’Neil and other were both lying and working with GOP operatives, the media concentrated on the horse race aspect with questions as to how the charges affected the campaign, and gave far too little attention to the overwhelming amount of evidence supporting Kerry.

Kerry released his Naval records proving his case, and others pointed out the many contradictions between attacks on Kerry made during the campaign and statements on Kerry made previously by the Swift Boat Liars. This was a difficult issue to handle during a campaign, but now Kerry has the time to resolve this issue prior to deciding on a 2008 run. The New York Times reports on Kerry Pressing Swiftboat Case, Long After Loss:

John Kerry starts by showing the entry in a log he kept from 1969: “Feb 12: 0800 run to Cambodia.”

He moves on to the photographs: his boat leaving the base at Ha Tien, Vietnam; the harbor; the mountains fading frame by frame as the boat heads north; the special operations team the boat was ferrying across the border; the men reading maps and setting off flares.

“They gave me a hat,” Mr. Kerry says. “I have the hat to this day,” he declares, rising to pull it from his briefcase. “I have the hat.”

Three decades after the Vietnam War and nearly two years after Mr. Kerry’s failed presidential bid, most Americans have probably forgotten why it ever mattered whether he went to Cambodia or that the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth accused him of making it all up, saying he was dishonest and lacked patriotism.

But among those who were on the frontlines of the 2004 campaign, the battle over Mr. Kerry’s wartime service continues, out of the limelight but in some ways more heatedly — because unlike then, Mr. Kerry has fully engaged in the fight. Only those on Mr. Kerry’s side, however, have gathered new evidence to prove their case…

“They lied and lied and lied about everything,” Mr. Kerry says in an interview in his Senate office. “How many lies do you get to tell before someone calls you a liar? How many times can you be exposed in America today?”

His supporters are compiling a dossier that they say will expose every one of the Swift boat group’s charges as a lie and put to rest any question about Mr. Kerry’s valor in combat. While it would be easy to see this as part of Mr. Kerry’s exploration of another presidential run, his friends say the Swift boat charges struck at an experience so central to his identity that he would want to correct the record even if he were retiring from public life. . .

The veterans group, led by Mr. O’Neill, a former Swift boat commander who was recruited by the Nixon administration to debate Mr. Kerry on “The Dick Cavett Show” in 1971, began its campaign in early 2004 by criticizing Mr. Kerry’s protests against the Vietnam War. But backed by Republican donors and consultants, they soon shifted to attack his greatest strength — his record as a military hero in a campaign against a president who never went to war.

Naval records and accounts from other sailors contradicted almost every claim they made, and some members of the group who had earlier praised Mr. Kerry’s heroism contradicted themselves.

Still, the charges stuck. At a triumphant gathering of veterans in Fort Worth after the election, Mr. O’Neill was introduced as the man who “torpedoed” Mr. Kerry’s campaign; the Swift boat group spent more than $130,000 for a “Mission Accomplished” celebration at Disney World. The president’s brother, Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, sent a letter thanking the “Swifties” for “their willingness to stand up to John Kerry.” Even people within the Kerry campaign believed that the attacks had cost their candidate the presidency.

Some of Mr. Kerry’s friends and former Swift boat crewmembers made advertisements during the race to try to shoot down the group’s charges. But the campaign declined to air them widely because some strategists said that directly challenging the charges would legitimize them.

They approached Mr. Kerry after the election with the idea of setting the record straight.

So they have returned, for instance, to the question of Cambodia and whether Mr. Kerry was ever ordered to transport Navy Seals across the border, an experience that he said made him view government officials, who had declared that the country was not part of the war, as deceptive.

The Swift boat group insisted that no boats had gone to Cambodia. But Mr. Kerry’s researcher, using Vietnam-era military maps and spot reports from the naval archives showing coordinates for his boat, traced his path from Ha Tien toward Cambodia on a mission that records say was to insert Navy Seals.

Mr. Kerry’s supporters have also frozen frames from his amateur films of his time in Vietnam and have retrieved letters and military citations for other sailors to support his version of how he won the Silver Star — rebutting the Swift boat group’s most explosive charge, that he shot an unarmed teenager who was fleeing his fire.

Another photograph provides evidence for Mr. Kerry’s version of how he won the Bronze Star. And original reports pulled from the naval archives contradict the charge that he drafted his own accounts of various incidents — which left room, the Swift boat group had argued, to embellish them.

Mr. Kerry’s defenders have received help from unlikely sources, including some who were originally aligned with the Swift boat group but later objected to its accusations against Mr. Kerry. One of them, Steve Hayes, was an early member of the group. A former sailor, he was a longtime friend and employee of William Franke, one of the group’s founders, and he supported the push to have Mr. Kerry release his military files. But Mr. Hayes came to believe that the group was twisting Mr. Kerry’s record.

“The mantra was just ‘We want to set the record straight,’ ” Mr. Hayes said this month. “It became clear to me that it was morphing from an organization to set the record straight into a highly political vendetta. They knew it was not the truth.”

Mr. Hayes broke with the group, ending a 35-year friendship with Mr. Franke, and voted for Mr. Kerry. He has provided a long interview to Mr. Kerry’s supporters, backing their version of the incident for which Mr. Kerry received the Bronze Star.

Of course, plenty of disappointed and angry Democrats would like to know why Mr. Kerry did not defend himself so strenuously before the election. He had posted some military documents on his campaign’s Web site and had allowed reporters to view his medical records but resisted open access to them as unnecessarily intrusive.

Mr. Kerry and his defenders say that they did not have the extensive archival material, and that it was too complicated to gather in the rapid pace of a campaign. He was caught off guard, he says; he had been prepared to defend his antiwar activism, but he did not believe that anyone would challenge the facts behind his military awards. “We should have put more money behind it,” Mr. Kerry says now. “I take responsibility for it; it was my mistake. They spent something like $30 million, and we didn’t. That’s just a terrible imbalance when somebody’s lying about you.”

Friday, May 26, 2006

Exclusive on The Democratic Daily: JUDGE BROWNIE

John Kerry on the Confirmation of General Michael Hayden as CIA Director

As I reported earlier, the Senate voted 78-15 today, to confirm General Michael Hayden as "Bush's choice to replace Porter J. Goss, who announced May 5 that he was stepping down after 20 months on the job."

John Kerry issued the following statement in regards to the confirmation and his vote against the nomination:

“I opposed the nomination of General Michael Hayden to serve as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Circumstances make him the wrong nominee in the wrong place for the wrong job.

“The abuse of the CIA by the Rumsfeld Pentagon and the Cheney White House has hurt our credibility with unfounded claims of ‘slam dunk’ evidence of mythical weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. I don’t think General Hayden is the person best equipped to restore the CIA’s independence and credibility. It’s not just that he comes from Secretary Rumsfeld’s Pentagon, but because he was the Administration’s principal spokesperson and defender of an illegal domestic spying program.

“We are all committed to destroying terrorists and preventing terrorist attacks before they happen. But this vote was a test of this Congress’s willingness to restore the Founding Fathers’ checks and balances and stand up to a government run by people who hold themselves above the law. How many times will government secrecy shield decision-makers from any kind of accountability? It was a mistake to confirm General Hayden.”

John Kerry on the Confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia

The Senate confirmed White House aide Brett Kavanaugh as an appeals court judge today, after nearly three years of hold-ups. The confirmation signals, yet another victory in Bush's drive to "place a more conservative stamp on the nation's courts." Kavanaugh was confirmed on a vote of 57-36.

Republicans praised Kavanaugh but he was widely opposed by Democrats who said he is "ill-suited to sit on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia." John Kerry issued the following statement on Kavanaugh's confirmation:

“If there’s anything the last five years have proven – from Iraq to Katrina – it’s that competence matters. Federal judgeships cannot be political gifts to political cronies. Mr. Kavanaugh’s legal experience consists largely of three years with Ken Starr and responsibility in the White House Counsel’s Office for selecting right-wing judicial nominees.

“Mr. Kavanaugh has been nominated to one of the most important federal courts with huge impacts on worker rights and employee safety, clean air, and clean water. But not once in his hearings did Mr. Kavanaugh point to any experience in these areas of the law.

“Brett Kavanaugh doesn’t have the experience for this job. An attorney who has played a central role in only five court cases isn’t ready to manage one.”

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

John Kerry's Encore

The Boston Globe reports on John Kerry’s Encore:

JOHN KERRY may just be charting his path back to the future.

The man who cast a vote he now acknowledges was a mistake on the Iraq war resolution, and then spent two years awkwardly confronting the fallout as he ran for president, has finally come to a position where he seems comfortable.

Kerry’s call for a near-withdrawal of US troops from Iraq by year’s end has made headlines. Less noticed is that his new stand puts Kerry back where he first made his name during the Vietnam War: as a voice of the anti-war left.

Whereas Kerry’s 2002 vote made him the object of suspicion among anti-war Democrats, who flocked to Howard Dean until that candidacy collapsed, Kerry’s new stance places him to the left of the Democratic Party’s other major putative presidential candidates. Certainly he has flanked New York Senator Hillary Clinton, widely considered the Democratic front-runner in 2008.

Kerry’s proposal calls for a Dayton Accords-like conference, to include the various Iraqi factions, the League of Arab States, Iran, Syria, and the rest of Iraq’s neighbors (among others), to try to forge a consensus on Iraq’s future; a redeployment of US troops to support roles; and then a withdrawal of US combat troops by year’s end.

The senator, who used the weekend announcement of Iraq’s new government to highlight his plan again yesterday, says he’s trying to offer the country an alternative — one he will soon present as a Senate amendment to the defense budget.

“It is not going to pass, and I understand that,” Kerry said in a Friday interview. “The purpose of it is to point out to the country that there really is a different way to approach Iraq and to protect American troops and our interests.”

The Bush administration, of course, is highly unlikely to adopt his blueprint. If not, “they will be morally bankrupt for creating a Vietnam II decent-interval withdrawal situation or a stay-the-course policy,” Kerry said. “Either way, it is a loss for the United States of America. It is unacceptable both morally and practically.”

US forces in Iraq are not fighting traditional battles with enemy forces, Kerry notes. “The two biggest killers in Iraq are IEDs [improvised explosive devices] and suicide bombers,” he said. “Are you telling me, three-and-a-half years into this, that you can’t have Iraqis driving down the street instead of American soldiers . . . or going out on some of those patrols?”

Kerry acknowledges that if US troops did withdraw, there’s a risk that Iraq, which he judges already in a low-grade civil war, would descend into chaos. But that ultimately depends on the Iraqis themselves, he says.

Asked about the political implications, Kerry, who acknowledges he’s “looking hard” at running for president again in 2008 (and whose confidants fully expect a second campaign), says he’ll leave that discussion to others.

“I am where my conscience tells me and my mind tells me the best solution to this is,” he says. “If you do this pressure, and you have this summit, you have a chance of getting some kind of a stake hold that resolves this. If you don’t, you are going to find yourself in the quagmire and failure mode anyway.”

But nothing in public life is ever really divorced from political considerations, and certainly nothing as charged as Iraq. Although some have written Kerry off as a delusional Democratic dinosaur who doesn’t realize his time as a serious presidential candidate has come and gone, that actually gives him short shrift.

Kerry wouldn’t begin a 2008 campaign as the front-runner, certainly, but neither would he be a laughingstock.

If Al Gore doesn’t run, Kerry would start in a position analogous to that which Richard Nixon occupied on the Republican side in the run-up to the 1968 campaign. That is, hardly the favorite, but nevertheless an experienced, acceptable alternative should the early preference (George Romney for the GOP then, Hillary Clinton for Democrats in 2008) falter.

Further, Kerry’s new position on Iraq would likely add some energy to an encore effort, perhaps letting him play a 2008 version of Howard Dean to Hillary Clinton’s John Kerry. Indeed, Kerry is busy visiting college campuses, where the youthful campaign energy is often found.

If nothing else, at a time when many major Democrats have adopted a cautious wait-and-see posture on Iraq, a posture that has proved frustrating to the party’s liberal activists, John Kerry has finally found his voice.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Dixie Chicks Won't Back Down

Dixie Chicks

Time reports on how politics has impacted the Dixie Chicks:

Now that she’s truly notorious, having told a London audience in 2003, on the eve of the Iraq war, “Just so you know, we’re ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas,” Maines has one regret: the apology she offered George W. Bush at the onset of her infamy. “I apologized for disrespecting the office of the President,” says Maines. “But I don’t feel that way anymore. I don’t feel he is owed any respect whatsoever.”

Even though this has cost them album sales, they will not back down:

The celebrity playbook for navigating a scandal is one word long: repent. But apologies are for lapses of character, not revelations of it, and sensing that they were being asked to apologize for their beliefs as much as their timing, the Chicks decided not to back down. “Natalie knows we could have totally convinced her to apologize,” says Maguire. “But the fact is, any one of us could have said what she said.”

Saudi Texts Continue to Support Hatred

After 9/11, Saudi Arabia (home to many of the hijackers) promised to revise their education to end teaching hatred of the west. “Not only have we eliminated what might be perceived as intolerance from old textbooks that were in our system, we have implemented a comprehensive internal revision and modernization plan.” The Washington Post also reports that lastyear an embassy spokesman claimed,”We have reviewed our educational curriculums. We have removed materials that are inciteful or intolerant towards people of other faiths.” The Post also found that these claims are not true:

A review of a sample of official Saudi textbooks for Islamic studies used during the current academic year reveals that, despite the Saudi government’s statements to the contrary, an ideology of hatred toward Christians and Jews and Muslims who do not follow Wahhabi doctrine remains in this area of the public school system. The texts teach a dualistic vision, dividing the world into true believers of Islam (the “monotheists”) and unbelievers (the “polytheists” and “infidels”).

This indoctrination begins in a first-grade text and is reinforced and expanded each year, culminating in a 12th-grade text instructing students that their religious obligation includes waging jihad against the infidel to “spread the faith.”

The article provides many examples from their texts. As early as first grade they are told, ” Every religion other than Islam is false.” Fifth graders are taught, “It is forbidden for a Muslim to be a loyal friend to someone who does not believe in God and His Prophet, or someone who fights the religion of Islam.” In sixth grade the lesson is, “Just as Muslims were successful in the past when they came together in a sincere endeavor to evict the Christian crusaders from Palestine, so will the Arabs and Muslims emerge victorious, God willing, against the Jews and their allies if they stand together and fight a true jihad for God, for this is within God’s power.”

The intolerance continues as the children get older. Eighth grade texts claim, “As cited in Ibn Abbas: The apes are Jews, the people of the Sabbath; while the swine are the Christians, the infidels of the communion of Jesus.” Ninth grade texts advocate struggle with lessons such as, “It is part of God’s wisdom that the struggle between the Muslim and the Jews should continue until the hour [of judgment].” Tenth graders learn that the life of a non-Muslim, and woman, or slave “is worth a fraction of that of a ‘free Muslim male.’”

We try to show tolerance towards other religions and look at their peaceful teachings, but perhaps, as Sam Harris warns, we are deluding ourselves. Eleventh graders are taught, “The greeting ‘Peace be upon you’ is specifically for believers. It cannot be said to others.” This sets them up for the ultimate lesson for twelth graders: “Jihad in the path of God — which consists of battling against unbelief, oppression, injustice, and those who perpetrate it — is the summit of Islam. This religion arose through jihad and through jihad was its banner raised high. It is one of the noblest acts, which brings one closer to God, and one of the most magnificent acts of obedience to God.”

Sunday morning is a poor time to judge the blogosphere as many bloggers are not yet very active. So far I’ve seen minimal coverage of this, much of it from the conservative blogs. Revulsion at these teachings is one area where bloggers from the left and right can find common ground. Perhaps this will lead to better understanding of why conservatives desire to go to war against jihadists (even if their plans in Iraq are misguided) and conservatives will better understand why liberals feel separation of church and state is an area where there can be no safe compromise, and that long term energy independence is essential.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Mixed Reactions to Losing Candidates

The New York Times looks at the mixed reactions to losing Presidential candidates:

“The bitterness towards Kerry is much greater from the chattering classes in Washington,” said Michael D. McCurry, a spokesman for Mr. Kerry during his 2004 presidential campaign. Mr. McCurry posits the example of his father, a Democratic activist in South Carolina, who still admires Mr. Kerry and resents the ridicule that’s been heaped on him by onetime loyalists. Mr. Kerry’s current staff is quick to share news of the large turnouts and ebullient receptions the senator is getting as he travels the country, exploring another run in 2008.

Coming so close might give Mr. Gore and Mr. Kerry a measure of electoral viability that was not available to landslide victims like Mr. Mondale, George S. McGovern and Michael S. Dukakis. But it also breeds frustration, much of it aimed at the near winner.

“To come close and lose tends to magnify everything the candidate did wrong,” said Leon E. Panetta, a former White House chief of staff under President Clinton. Democrats are predisposed to blame their own, he said, no matter how much they once loved them.

Why doesn’t the G.O.P. do this?

“Because they win,” Mr. Panetta said, laughing.

Or, perhaps that is why they win.

Corsi's Paranoia

One thing which unites the conservatives, and gets them out to vote for the candidates which push policies contrary to the nation’s best interest, is the fear created by the right wing media. Rather than discuss what the opponents really advocate they invent straw men. They claim liberals are socialists, or that Democrats will take away their guns and bibles if elected. They said John Kerry would turn our national security over to foreigners, and his health care proposals are a government take over of health care (even though it is GOP policies which allow government to intrude upon the decisions of doctors and patients). This is how they got people to go out to vote for an incompetent pseudo-cowboy with delusions of WMD.

We’ve seen signs that Republicans are turning on Bush as his latest poll numbers include falling support among conservatives. Another indication that Bush will have a tough time recovering is that he has now become the target of conservative paranoia. Jerome Corsi, the plaigerist who spread his lies about John Kerry as co-author of Unfit For Command, claims in Human Events that Bush’s real plan is to replace the USA with a North American Union:

President Bush is pursuing a globalist agenda to create a North American Union, effectively erasing our borders with both Mexico and Canada. This was the hidden agenda behind the Bush administration’s true open borders policy.

Secretly, the Bush administration is pursuing a policy to expand NAFTA to include Canada, setting the stage for North American Union designed to encompass the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. What the Bush administration truly wants is the free, unimpeded movement of people across open borders with Mexico and Canada.

President Bush intends to abrogate U.S. sovereignty to the North American Union, a new economic and political entity which the President is quietly forming, much as the European Union has formed.

This will be an excellent article to refer anyone to who claims Corsi’s writings are in any way credible. I wonder if anyone will let Corsi know that Canada is already in NAFTA.

Americans No Longer Like George Bush

Knight Ridder hits on a key reason why Bush will have a tough time recovering–Americans no longer like him:

A drop in his personal popularity, as measured by several public polls, has shadowed the decline in Bush’s job-approval ratings and weakened his political armor when he and his party need it most.

Losing that political protection - dubbed “Teflon” when Ronald Reagan had it - is costing Bush what the late political scientist Richard Neustadt called the “leeway” to survive hard times and maintain his grip on the nation’s agenda. Without it, Bush is a more tempting target for political enemies. And members of his party in Congress are less inclined to stand with him.

“When he loses likeability, the president loses the benefit of the doubt,” said Dennis Goldford, a political scientist at Drake University in Iowa. “That makes it much harder for him to steer.”

Bush has certainly managed to con the American voters several time. Despite ignoring intelligence which might have prevented the 9/11 attacks, freezing at the time of the attack, and attacking the wrong country after failing to finish the job in Afghanistan, Bush attracted considerable support post 9/11. He managed to sell a proposal to help the pharmaceutical and insurance industries as a reform of Medicare. He even managed to get reelected on a dismal record largely due to being the guy more voters (although certainly not me) would prefer to have a beer with. Katrina proved to be the tipping point, where Bush’s incompetence could no longer be ignored.

The article also quotes Gore aide Chris Lehane as believing “likeability certainly was an issue in 2000.” In contrast, personal popularity can help politicians, such as allowing Ronald Reagan to remain popular despite a recession and a scandal.

More GOP House Seats Up For Grabs

I wouldn’t attempt to predict what will happen in this November’s elections, but many for many people making predictions is part of their job. While I take all such predictions with a grain of salt, it is still amusing to watch the trend. Overall the possibility of the Democrats taking control of one or both houses of Congress is being considered increasingly possible. The Washington Post reports that many House seats which were considered safe for Republicans are now believed to be in play:

Stuart Rothenberg, editor and publisher of a political newsletter, now has 42 Republican districts, including Drake’s, on his list of competitive races. Last September, he had 26 competitive GOP districts, and Drake’s wasn’t on the list. “That’s a pretty significant increase,” he said. “The national atmospherics are making long shots suddenly less long.”

At the Cook Political Report, Amy Walter has revised an analysis of the battle for control of the House, taking into account the sour mood toward Republicans nationally as a potentially significant factor in races that might otherwise turn on local issues, candidate performance or the size of campaign war chests.

“In a nationalized election, the typical laws of gravity get thrown out the window,” Walter said. “Under-funded candidates beat better-funded candidates, and entrenched incumbents lose to first-time challengers.”

Friday, May 19, 2006

The Democratic Daily, Authoritative Source

Need to prove a point to a journalist? Just quote The Democratic Daily. At least that’s what John Kerry’s office has done. Check out this entry from a blog from Boston’s CBS affiliate:

Kerry For President

Is he really going to do it again? Yes, he is. How else to explain his feverish reaction in our interview earlier today when I quoted back to him recent CBS News/New York Times polling that gives him lower approval ratings nationally than even George W. Bush. (You can watch the interview after it airs on CBS4 News today at 5pm.)

By the time I got back to the station after sitting down with the senator, his staff had e-mailed me the following item from the Democratic Daily blog (Read More). (Nice to see they’re so tuned into the blogosphere.)

The Democratic Daily–Authoritative source covering John Kerry’s back and correcting mainstream media misinformation!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Support for Democratic Congress Increases

Rasmussen reports that the generic preference for Democrats to control Congress has increased to a 48% to 33% lead, representing a five point jump for Democrats in the last two weeks.

Before Democrats get overly confident, note that while the public trusts Democrats over Republicans, Gallup finds that many Americans believe members of both parties are corrupt. There’s no doubt that GOP misinformation that the Abramoff scandle affects both parties is responsible for some of this perception. The Washington Post also notes a trend to throw out the incumbents of both parties.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The War on Science

Following is from a May 11 speech in New York by Patricia Princehouse, as she accepted a Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award from the Playboy Foundation for her efforts to preserve science education in Ohio public schools. The Nation has the full text.

If you can lie about science and get away with it, you can lie about anything.

Evolution is just the tip of the iceberg or, as the creationists put it, the leading edge of “the wedge.” The wedge they are seeking to drive through the heart of American democracy. The lies about science are not limited to evolution. Every day more lies about science seep into public consciousness. Lies about stem cell biology, lies about global warming, about clean air and water, lies about sexuality, about conception and contraception, lies about the effects of hurricanes on metropolitan infrastructure.

The war on science is a war on democracy itself. And the special weapons and tactics are rhetorical. The enemies of democracy use the language of tolerance to attack it from inside. Why, they ask, are we “censoring” the evidence for “intelligent design”? Why do we deny our teachers the “right” to use their “academic freedom” to teach “critical analysis” of evolution. Isn’t it only fair to teach both the evidence for and against evolution? All these clever ploys play well in the media on this issue and many, many others, and we will see these word games more and more in coming years. I call it the “orange is the new pink” strategy; every time the public cottons on to a catch term like “creation science” or “intelligent design,” they change to a more neutral-sounding term like “critical analysis” or “evidence against.” But defenders of American freedom are learning to stand up and say no, it really is fair to forbid teachers to lie to students, to prohibit school boards from using the power of the state to convert children to other peoples’ religions. Tolerance requires judgment.

Republicans Found Guilty in Phone Jamming Scheme

Charles McGee, executive director of the New Hampshire Republican Party, Republican National Committee regional political director James Tobin, and GOP consultant Allen Raymond have been found guilty in the 2002 New Hampshire phone jamming scheme. There may be more involved:

Most tantalizingly to Democrats, evidence filed in Tobin’s trial in December shows 22 phone calls from Tobin to the White House between 11:20 a.m. Election Day, two hours after the phone jamming was shut down, and 2:17 a.m. the next day, four hours after the outcome of the election was announced.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Libertarians Defecting to Democrats

I’ve wondered for quite a while how libertarians, as well as true limited government conservatives, could consider staying in the Republican Party. Republicans use a lot of libertarian and free market rhetoric, but at the end of the day typically choose authoritarian, big government policies. Bill Clinton anounced (partially in response to dealing with a GOP Congress) that the era of big government is over. George Bush brought it back, and it is big government of the worst type.

RealClearPolitics provides discusses evidence froma Pew study that fewer and fewer libertarians feel at home in the GOP. While traditionally libertarians who identified with a major party have been Republicans, the Pew study found that 50 percent of libertarians identified as Republicans and 41 percent as Democrats. With the degree of polarization seen in the last two elections, attracting a group such as libertarians could tip the balance if the next Presidential race is so close. This may be possible if Democrats continue to show concern for issues such as defending civil liberties, avoiding unnecessary wars, and reversing the power grab we have recently seen from the Executive Branch. Fortunately attracting this group can be done with the same issues which are attractive to the Starbucks Republicans who are also defecting to the Democrats.

Monday, May 15, 2006

A Real Solution for Border Security: Kerry Amendment Would Add 1,000 New Border Patrol Agents

Bush will be addressing the nation soon and calling for the deployment of up to 6,000 National Guard to guard to the U.S./Mexican border. This is all part of a "$1.9 billion drive to tighten security and win conservative backing in Congress for a broad election-year overhaul of the nation’s tattered immigration laws."

In response to Bush's address and call for deployment of the National Guard, tomorrow John Kerry will offer an amendment to the Immigration Reform Bill to add 1,000 additional Border Patrol agents -- bringing the total up to 3,000 new agents this year – plus add an additional 100 helicopters and 250 power boats to secure America’s borders.

“We know we need a comprehensive answer to immigration that includes tightening border security, but putting another burden on the backs of men and women who are serving their second tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan isn’t the right answer,” said John Kerry. “The right answer is to listen to the 9/11 Commission and put the border patrol agents we need right there on the border.”
Read more »

John Kerry Delivers Commencement Address at Emerson, Receives Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree

Senator John Kerry, was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree today at Emerson College in Massachusetts where he delivered the commencement address.

Today Senator John Kerry spoke at the 126th annual Commencement exercises at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts. Below is a copy of his remarks as prepared for delivery:

Emerson College Commencement Address, Emerson College
Senator John Kerry, May 15, 2006

President Liebergott, Members of the Board of Trustees and the Board of Overseers, Robert Steele, faculty and staff, parents, and of course the great graduating Class of 2006, thank you.

Before I begin I have an announcement-will the student who owns the brand new cherry red Corvette in the parking lot, with the big ribbon on it, the one with the license plate that reads "Emerson 2006"...your lights aren't on. I just want to tell your parents to send me a campaign check, they can afford it.

President Liebergott asked me if I wanted some music played as I was introduced. I said no. Although 2 years ago I did spend $200 million hoping just once to hear hail to the chief.


Kerry, McDermott: Big Oil Walking Away with $700 Million in Taxpayer Money Every Year

New revenue data from the independent congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, JCT, requested by Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), show a gusher of subsidies- as much as $700 million every year- is flowing to oil and natural gas companies at the expense of U.S. taxpayers, because of an unearned and necessary windfall given away by the Republican majority. The price tag exceeds $5 billion over ten years – at least $1.4 billion more than previous estimates.

Rep. Jim McDermott said: “Big Oil is winning a multi-million dollar lottery every day of the week, every day of the year, because the game has been rigged by a Republican Congress and President. Big Oil does not deserve the multi-billion dollar tax subsidy, but Republicans gave it to them, anyway.”

“It’s clear every time people fill up at the pump that the Bush energy policy is not working. The fact that American taxpayers have to give away more money to oil companies as their profits increase is absurd – it’s like a kick in the stomach on top of a $60 tank of gas,” said John Kerry.
Read more »

Sunday, May 14, 2006

John Kerry Co-Sponsors Feingold’s Censure Measure

Last month in an interview on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, John Kerry stated that he would support Russ Feingold's censure proposal. Kerry has officially signed on to the bill as a co-sponsor.

Massachusetts Senator John Kerry has officially signed on to the bill. He joins fellow Democrats Tom Harkin from Iowa and Barbara Boxer from California as co-sponsors.

It's unclear whether the Judiciary Committee will ever bring up the censure proposal for a vote.

Kerry initially held off on supporting the measure. He said the president should be held accountable but Kerry wanted to make sure a censure was the best way to do it.

Feingold introduced the resolution in March to censure Bush for authorizing domestic eavesdropping and misleading Americans about its legality.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Bet on Bush's Birthday Polls

Sportsbook is taking bets on how low George Bush’s approval rating will be on his 60th birthday:

President George W. Bush hits a milestone in his life on July 6th, turning 60 years old., the world’s largest online sportsbook and casino, is now offering odds on whether President Bush’s job approval rating also will hit a milestone on that date, sinking to a new low in his five years as President of the United States.

The drawn out war in Iraq, soaring oil prices and the NSA domestic spying controversy have all contributed to Democrats and now an increasing number of Republicans turning thumbs down on the President’s job performance. His numbers have dropped steadily since the start of 2006. According to the latest USA Today/Gallup poll, they are at 31 per cent, a new low.

“Public sentiment on the President’s job performance has definitely soured since January,” says Jennifer Duffy, Editor and Political Analyst for non-partisan The Cook Political Report. “Bush’s numbers continue to be a drag on House and Senate Republicans, making it likely that Democrats will pick up seats in both chambers in the November midterm elections.”

Bettors can choose whether the rating will be over or under the poll average of 35.5 per cent on July 6th, as reported by - a company which publishes a daily average of Bush’s approval rating based on the leading American public opinion polls.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The New Kerry

The New Kerry


The Nation

Delivering a major address in April before a portrait of George Washington and busts of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson in Boston's historic Faneuil Hall, John Kerry must have felt as though he was back running for President. But on the thirty-fifth anniversary of his stirring testimony before Congress as a representative of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Kerry was invoking a theme downplayed throughout his 2004 campaign and confronting the issue that bedeviled his candidacy: the war in Iraq.

"As in 1971, this is another moment when American patriotism demands more dissent and less complacency in the face of bland assurances from those in power," Kerry told a crowd of 800 full of fellow vets and Democratic activists. "As in Vietnam, we have stayed and fought and died even though it is time for us to go." Kerry had recently broken with the Democratic leadership and proposed setting a deadline for Iraqis to form a permanent government and for US troops to leave. According to the Boston Globe, the audience was "wildly enthusiastic"--a phrase not often used to describe crowds listening to the junior senator from Massachusetts. Former DNC chair Steve Grossman called the speech "profoundly presidential," which is exactly what Kerry once again wants to be.

In the past few months Kerry has presented a side of himself very different from the one the public saw during the 2004 campaign. Freed from the grip of consultants, the spotlight of the national media and the Republican attack dogs, he is looser, clearer and more compelling. Call it the Al Gore Effect. At the end of a presidential campaign, losing candidates either retreat, keep up the good fight or attempt the arduous task of redefining themselves. Kerry's both fighting and redefining these days.

"The fact of losing so narrowly tends to concentrate the mind," Kerry tells me in an interview in his Senate office. Only a week after the death of his first wife, the mother of their two daughters, Kerry is surprisingly relaxed and upbeat, frank about his past failures and future aspirations. People close to him certainly sense a change in attitude. Former Senator Gary Hart, a confidant, believes Kerry has circled back to the Vietnam era, recognizing the folly of current US policy and rising to protest against it. "He's much more outspoken, much more decisive and much less likely to give credit to this Administration," Hart says.

The notoriously cautious Kerry has gone bold, conveying his views on Iraq and national security through an aggressive schedule of speeches, op-eds and talk-show appearances. Into the void of Democratic Party leadership, he's speaking for the vocal opposition--even endorsing Senator Russ Feingold's resolution to censure President Bush. Kerry's been written off before and is rising from the political graveyard yet again. "What does he have to lose now?" says Kerry biographer Douglas Brinkley. "He might as well go for broke."

That wasn't always Kerry's attitude. Upon returning to the Senate after the 2004 election, he gave Bush some space. Though he blocked drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge with a threatened filibuster, Kerry focused for the most part on noncontroversial issues like children's healthcare and a bill of rights for military families. Over time, he grew more outspoken, renaming the Bush Administration "the Katrina Administration" after the devastation of New Orleans. Soon he was plunging into intraparty squabbles, and he led a failed attempt to filibuster Samuel Alito's Supreme Court nomination.

And after years of vacillation, he has found his voice on Iraq. He's visited the country three times since the election, on each trip growing more dismayed by the lack of progress. After his second visit Kerry gave a major speech at Georgetown University, in October. "It is time for those of us who believe in a better course to say so plainly and unequivocally," he declared. For the first time, Kerry said he'd made a mistake in voting to authorize the war in 2002 and suggested that the bulk of American forces be withdrawn by the end of 2006. On his third trip to the region, this spring, Kerry witnessed a war between insurgents and occupiers transforming into a civil conflict, with US troops caught in the middle. Claiming that "Iraqis have only responded to deadlines," Kerry suggested two of them in a New York Times op-ed: an immediate withdrawal if Iraqis don't form a government by May 22, or a US exit by the end of this year if they d0, in coordination with a Dayton Accords-style international summit. Of all the votes he's cast in the Senate, Kerry told Tim Russert on Meet the Press, his Iraq vote is the one he'd most like to take back. As one Kerry adviser wryly put it, "He's got a position now where there's no room for nuance."

Which prompts the question, Why now? Pollster Frank Luntz recently showed a focus group of Democratic primary voters in Iowa and New Hampshire footage of Kerry over the past few months. "Where the hell was this John Kerry?" Luntz says the voters asked him. "Why didn't he have this passion, this specificity, when we needed him to?" If Kerry had run in 2004 using his 2006 language, Luntz argues, he might be President now.

Kerry has internalized much of this criticism. "You get kicked on your ass, you get knocked flat, you dust yourself off and say, OK, What did I learn from that?" Kerry tells me. "I think I learned a lot." His endless modifiers have been replaced by short, punchy phrases: "Tell the truth, fire the incompetents, get out of Iraq, have healthcare for all Americans." He shocked Chris Matthews in a recent interview by answering some questions with just a yes or a no. His new mantra, says Kerry, is "clarity and brevity."

But policy and rhetoric only partly explain Kerry's resurgence. His 3 million-plus e-mail list and the $7.5 million he's given or raised for fellow Democrats since 2004, by far the most of any 2008 contender, solidifies his standing in the party. He even raised $150,000 for Hillary Clinton at a Boston fundraiser last year. Two top operatives from the DNC are overseeing his PAC, Keeping America's Promise. He's visited twenty-four states and donated to 110 candidates this election cycle alone. Kerry's Cash May Buy '08 Loyalty reads a recent headline in Roll Call.

The presidency is never far from his mind. He freely admits to "thinking hard" about running again. "I have an anger, a level of frustration about the failure of the public sector, that is as burning as when I first got involved in the 1960s," Kerry says. In March he returned to New Hampshire for his first full day of political campaigning, later penning an op-ed defending the state's first-in-the-nation primary status. In early May he was back in the Hawkeye State, speaking at a local college and fundraising for Iowa Democrats. "That's someone who's running," says former Kerry campaign strategist and Clinton press secretary Joe Lockhart.

To bolster his national profile, Kerry is launching a think tank--helmed by Gary Hart--to train the next generation of progressive foreign-policy thinkers; coming out with a book on the environment this fall; and scheduling a full plate of political events before the 2006 midterms.

But Kerry's future cannot be separated from his past. "Democrats have to be willing to give him another hard look," says Grossman. "It's a very, very tough hill to climb." Kerry trails Hillary Clinton 57 to 30 percent among Democrats in a head-to-head matchup, faring worse than his former running mate, John Edwards. He runs no better than 3 percent in online straw polls like Grassroots Democrats don't want to nominate a previous loser, but if they did, there's always Al Gore. "The first step of Kerry's new campaign," says Brinkley, "is to answer the questions Democrats had about the last one."

Bush Falls Under 30%

Bush’s approval rating is now falling under the 30% level. In the latest Harris Interactive Poll, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, 29% think Mr. Bush is doing an “excellent or pretty good” job as president, down from 35% in April and 43% in January.

Lack of Choice in Health Care

Opponents of change in health care often claim that any plan with increased government involvement would lead to a government take over of health care, resulting in decreased choice. An AMA study has shown how little choice we actually have under the current system of private health plans. The report reviewed in the May 8 issue of American Medical News (available on line to subscribers only) found that of 294 metropolitan areas all but fifteen markets in six states had two plans controlling at least 50% of the market. Even these fifteen markets weren’t much better with two plans controlling at least 40% of the market.

When one or two HMO’s or PPO’s dominate the market to this degree it takes away leverage from businesses purchasing the plans, patients, and doctors, leaving the health plans free to set their own rules. This lack of competition also contributes to the steady increase in premiums, leading to more businesses dropping coverage. From personal experience, such dominant health plans are typically much more restrictive than the government plans such as Medicare. Conservatives argue for the preservation of the current system claiming that the market provides more choice than government plans, but in reality the current system is limiting choice and consolidating decisions in large corporations who show more concern for profits than the needs of patients.

John Kerry at American University: “Real Patriotism”

John Kerry spoke at American University this afternoon about General Hayden's CIA nomination, the news about the NSA having a massive database of Americans' phone calls, the meaning of patriotism and dissent at a time of war and the assault on free speech in America today.

Below are Kerry’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

Senator John Kerry: “Real Patriotism”
American University
May 11, 2006

Thirty-five years ago this spring, I testified before the Foreign Relations Committee of the United States Senate, and called for an end to the war I had returned from fighting not long before.

It was 1971 – twelve years after the first American died in what was then South Vietnam, seven years after Lyndon Johnson seized on a small and contrived incident in the Tonkin Gulf to launch a full-scale war—and three years after Richard Nixon was elected president on the promise of a secret plan for peace. We didn’t know it at the time, but four more years of the War in Vietnam still lay ahead. These were years in which the Nixon administration lied and broke the law—and claimed it was prolonging war to protect our troops as they withdrew—years that ultimately ended only when politicians in Washington decided they would settle for a “decent interval” between the departure of our forces and the inevitable fall of Saigon.

I know that some active duty service members, some veterans, and certainly some politicians scorned those of us who spoke out, suggesting our actions failed to “support the troops”—which to them meant continuing to support the war, or at least keeping our mouths shut. Indeed, some of those critics said the same thing just two years ago during the presidential campaign.

I have come here today to reaffirm that it was right to dissent in 1971 from a war that was wrong. And to affirm that it is both a right and an obligation for Americans today to disagree with a President who is wrong today, policies that are wrong today, and a war in Iraq that weakens the nation.

I believed then, just as I believe now, that the best way to support the troops is to oppose a course that squanders their lives, dishonors their sacrifice, and disserves our people and our principles.

The full text of Kerry's speech is available here.

John Kerry on DKos: When Is Enough Really Enough?

John Kerry is issuing a serious slap down today on the latest news on the domestic spying, the NSA and General Hayden's nomination to the CIA (see earlier post). In advance of his speech today at American University (text to follow this post) Kerry just posted a diary on DKos, here's a few quips...

When Is Enough Really Enough?

We've got a government run by people who hold themselves above the law -- in the way they not only treat prisoners in Abu Ghraib, but assert unchecked power to spy on American citizens.

We know the consequences. We witnessed the CIA being bullied by the Rumsfeld Pentagon and the Cheney White House into shredding its credibility with unfounded claims of "slam dunk" evidence for mythical weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

But where's the insistence that - after having lives lost to this abuse of power and more lives on the line - we're going to demand an accountability moment?

Now that the President has tapped the chief defender of his warrantless wiretapping program to become CIA Director, what are we going to do about the nomination of Michael Hayden to head this wayward agency?

John Kerry to Let it Rip Today on Hayden Nomination and NSA in Speech at American University

In my early morning news thread below I posted two stories breaking about the NSA and the domestic spying -- "Security issue kills domestic spying inquiry" and "NSA has massive database of Americans’ phone calls."

With this news today, John Kerry will be hitting hard on the nomination of General Hayden to head the CIA, in his speech at today at 1:00 at American University.

Here's an excerpt from Kerry's speech (we'll post the full text as soon as it is available):

“America has always embraced the best traditions of civilized conduct toward combatants and non-combatants in war. But today our leaders hold themselves above the law—in the way they not only treat prisoners in Abu Ghraib, but assert unchecked power to spy on American citizens.

We witnessed the CIA being bullied by the Rumsfeld Pentagon and the Cheney White House into shredding its credibility with unfounded claims of “slam dunk” evidence for mythical weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Now that the President has tapped the chief defender of his warrantless wiretapping program to become CIA Director, we must demand a full and vigorous debate over the nomination of Michael Hayden to head this wayward agency.

Peter Hoekstra, Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee describes this nominee as “the wrong person, in the wrong place, at the wrong time.”

His words ring especially true on a day when we are reminded of the Administration’s determination to keep the extent of their illegal domestic spying program secret. Just today, the Department of Justice abruptly ended an investigation into the conduct of department lawyers who approved the program – not because the approving lawyers were cleared of wrongdoing but because investigators were denied the information to conduct the investigation. All this on a day when we learn the NSA isn’t just listening to international calls but is collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans who aren’t suspected of wrong-doing. How many times will government secrecy shield decision-makers from any kind of accountability?

Enough is enough. It is long overdue for this Congress to end the days of roll-over and rubber stamp and finally assert its power of advise and consent before General Hayden becomes Director Hayden and proves Chairman Hoekstra right by doing the job wrong.”

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Kerry, Biden and Others Woo N.H. Firefighters, and More '08 Chatter

PoliticsNH has a story on John Kerry and Joe Biden addressing the New Hampshire chapter of the International Association of Fire Fighters on Monday, as potential '08 candidates. Kerry has not confirmed that he will run as of yet, but it's great to see him out there talking to the members of the IAFF who did so much for him in '04. The IAFF was an early endorser of John Kerry during the 2004 primaries and Kerry credits their help with helping him to win the nomination.

(AP Photo/Jim Cole)

Two Democratic U.S. Senators all but asked one of the state’s most powerful unions for their support today in the first day of what will be several of a politically impressive convention of firefighters.

U.S. Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Biden (D-Del.) each laid out their differences with President Bush and attempted to take the maximum credit for bills that provided more money for firefighters in the past.

With just 2,000 members in a traditionally non-union state, the New Hampshire chapter of the International Association of Fire Fighters is not the biggest union in the state, but it’s dedication and savvy has made it arguably the most powerful.

Others addressing the group Monday alone were Gov. John Lynch (D-Hopkinton), U.S. Rep. Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro), and State Sen. David Gottesman (D-Nashua).

Their power, if ever questioned, was proven in the fall of 2003. They had backed Kerry in the Democratic primary and he was fading quickly to irrelevance with the rise of Howard Dean. But it was at that very time, when many were writing him off, that the firefighters suggest they hold chili feeds in firehouses around the state.
It was a new Kerry at these chili feeds and he came back to win Iowa and then New Hampshire and then the nomination.

"I think the firefighters were critical to my being the nominee," Kerry said. "They helped me to create a climate for listening and helped to change the dynamics here so I am eternally grateful to them."

Biden recalled that he has had many unfortunate experiences where he has relied on firefighters including a car wreck where they saved his son and his house on fire.

“I want your support, but the truth is, either way you have me,” Biden said.

Incase you missed it, Bill O'Reilly (uh-huh) gave Kerry a plug yesterday, there's more on that here. And while we're on the subject of potential '08 candidates, Hillary has drawn some flack for an upcoming fundraiser being hosted by Rupert Murdoch, the conservative media mogul. Feeling the heat from the liberals, Hillary defended her decision to have Murdoch host a fundraiser for her Senate-election campaign, saying: "He's my constituent and I'm very gratified that he thinks I'm doing a good job." The Financial Times reports that "Mrs Clinton has worked to tone down the liberal image she won during her husband's presidency." Hmmm...

John Kerry on House Rebuke of Bush on Climate Change

A House Committee voted for a mandatory cap on greenhouse gas emissions today, even with the Bush Administration still in denial on climate change. John Kerry issued the following statement on the vote by the House Appropriations Committee, today:

“By supporting a mandatory cap on greenhouse gas emissions, the House Appropriations Committee today led a rebellion against George Bush's head in the sand denial of global climate change.

“Today marks the beginning of a major accountability moment for the Bush Administration’s failed environmental policies.

“Now the only two people left in Washington who refuse to recognize climate change as a real threat are former oil executives President Bush and Vice President Cheney. The rest of us insist on living in a reality-based society.”

Related in the News: If We Can Fund the War in Iraq, Why Can't We Fund the Kyoto Protocol?

Pitt Proves Case Against Richard Cohen

I previously expressed disagreement with Richard Cohen’s claim that Stephen Colbert was not funny. Cohen reports receiving about 1000 angry email messages protesting his column. William Rivers Pitt explains why so many are angry and so many appreciated Colbert’s comments. Pitt added a post script which proves we were right in questioning Cohen’s views:

Another reason for the anger you have absorbed can be laid, frankly, at your own feet. There are enough of us around who can still remember your words from November of 2000: “Given the present bitterness, given the angry irresponsible charges being hurled by both camps, the nation will be in dire need of a conciliator, a likable guy who will make things better and not worse. That man is not Al Gore. That man is George W. Bush.”

Cohen was clearly wrong in 2000 as he is wrong today.

Kerry's Response to Mary Cheney

Raw Story reports on Kerry’s response to Mary Cheney’s comments:

Kerry spokesman David Wade said Mary Cheney had “flacked for the most anti-gay administration in history.”

“Seems like a suspicious lecture from a political operative who flacked for the most anti-gay administration in history and allowed Karl Rove to divide America for political gain,” Wade said. “She’d be more credible if she pushed dad’s administration to support hate crimes legislation and equal rights for gay Americans.”

Hawks versus Doves

Yesterday we received a number of hits from Real Clear Poltitics where their blog warned, Doves Don’t Become President in Times of War. There is no doubt that there is some truth to this. Running against a sitting President during time of war was a difficult task for John Kerry in 2004.

One reason for this is the misconception as to what a hawk and dove really is in relation to terrorism. Real Clear Politics makes their argument appear more sensible by confusing Iraq and terrorism. If we really look at terrorism, and we define hawk positively here to be the one willing to take on the fight, John Kerry has a far greater claim to being the hawk on terrorism than George Bush.

John Kerry wrote about the dangers of terrorism well before 9/11. George Bush ignored all pre-9/11 warnings. Post 9/11 John Kerry wanted to concentrate on fighting al Qaeda with Democrats united in their support for action against those responsible for the terrorist attacks. George Bush quickly dropped the ball in Afghanistan, allowing bin Laden to escape, in order to use 9/11 to falsely justify his previous desires to invade Iraq. Besides dropping the ball on al Qaeda, George Bush has ignored many recommendations to improve homeland security from John Kerry and other Democrats.

Not having the facts on their side, Real Clear Politics resorts to once again attempting to Swift Boat John Kerry by distorting his Vietnam testimony. They took Kerry’s reports as to the testimony of other soldiers at the Winter Soldier Investigations out of context to give the false impression Kerry was attacking fellow soldiers for committing atrocities. There’s no mention of the real message delivered by Kerry to Congress in defense of his fellow veterans who were placed in an unjust situation.

This blog post does highlight some major differences between liberals and conservatives. The post suggests that the author believes that to testify about atrocities committed by Americans is in itself wrong, regardless of the validity of the testimony. While this is a mischaracterization of Kerry’s testimony, if Kerry had witnessed atrocities why would it be wrong for him to mention them in testimony before Congress? To the conservative mind it appears Americans can do no wrong. To mention isolated cases where Americans have done wrong is met by conservatives with false claims that liberals hate America and that liberals always believe American has done wrong.

Just as they appear to believe that any American act is justified, even if illegal under international law (such as with the free fire zones Kerry complained about in his testimony), to the conservative hawk it appears any war is a good war. To criticize either Vietnam or Iraq is wrong, even though both wars were ultimately harmful to our national security.

To blindly support the war might be an easier position for Democratic politicians to win on, but this is not what we need from leaders. Fortunately a majority of Americans are questioning the wisdom of the war. We need Democrats to speak out on how the Iraq war was a senseless distraction from protecting us from terrorism, helping al Qaeda and Iran while harming our national security.

The real question put to the voters must not be who is the hawk and who is the dove, but which party will really improve our national security and protect the nation. Republicans have failed us. The party which won two world wars in the 20th century, and first showed firmness against Communism, must now show that they are the ones better prepared for the dangers of the 21st century.

The Contradictions of Mary Cheney

It is not easy to be a Republican and hold a key view which differs from the party line. Imagine someone like Mary Cheney who has to reconcile supporting Bush/Cheney, which based much of their campaign on gay bashing, with her own lesbianism. Mary Cheney had to find a way to rationalize both supporting Bush/Cheney and opposing John Kerry, who was supportive of her and other lesbians.

AMERICAblog looks at Mary Cheney’s views on the two candidates and notes these contradictions. Her view on Bush: “I think he’s a very good man. On these issues, he hasn’t caught up.'’ No concern for how the campaign used gay marriage as a wedge issue to stir up votes from the religious right. Meanwhile Kerry, who supported diversity, was, in her mind, “obviously trying to use me and my sexual orientation for his own political gain.'’

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Patriotism Means Telling the Truth, Making America Stronger

Senator John Kerry: “Patriotism Means Telling the Truth, Making America Stronger”
Grinnell College - Grinnell, Iowa

Thirty-five years ago this spring, I testified before the Foreign Relations Committee of the United States Senate, and called for an end to the war I had returned from fighting not long before.

It was 1971 – twelve years after the first American died in what was then South Vietnam, seven years after Lyndon Johnson seized on a small and contrived incident in the Tonkin Gulf to launch a full-scale war—and three years after Richard Nixon was elected president on the promise of a secret plan for peace. We didn’t know it at the time, but four more years of the War in Vietnam still lay ahead. These were years in which the Nixon administration lied and broke the law—and claimed it was prolonging war to protect our troops as they withdrew—years that ultimately ended only when politicians in Washington decided they would settle for a “decent interval” between the departure of our forces and the inevitable fall of Saigon.

I know that some active duty service members, some veterans, and certainly some politicians scorned those of us who spoke out, suggesting our actions failed to “support the troops”—which to them meant continuing to support the war, or at least keeping our mouths shut. Indeed, some of those critics said the same thing just two years ago during the presidential campaign.

I have come here today to reaffirm that it was right to dissent in 1971 from a war that was wrong. And to affirm that it is both a right and an obligation for Americans today to disagree with a President who is wrong, a policy that is wrong, and a war in Iraq that weakens the nation.

I believed then, just as I believe now, that the best way to support the troops is to oppose a course that squanders their lives, dishonors their sacrifice, and disserves our people and our principles.

I believed then, just as I believe now, that it is profoundly wrong to think that fighting for your country overseas and fighting for your country’s ideals at home are contradictory or even separate duties. They are, in fact, two sides of the very same patriotic coin. And that’s certainly what I felt when I came home from Vietnam convinced that our political leaders were waging war simply to avoid responsibility for the mistakes that doomed our mission in the first place.

By then, it was clear to me that hundreds of thousands of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen—disproportionately poor and minority Americans—were being sent into the valley of the shadow of death for an illusion privately abandoned by the very men in Washington who kept sending them there. It was time for the truth, and time for it all to end, and my only regret in joining the anti-war movement was that it took so long to succeed—for the truth to prevail, and for America to regain confidence in our own deepest values.

Then, and even now, there were many alarmed by dissent—many who thought that staying the course would eventually produce victory—or that admitting the mistake and ending it would embolden our enemies around the world. History disproved them before another decade was gone: Fourteen years elapsed between the first major American commitment of helicopters and pilots to Vietnam and the fall of Saigon. Fourteen years later, the Berlin Wall fell, and with it the Communist threat. You cannot tell me that withdrawing from Vietnam earlier would have changed that outcome.

The lesson here is not that some of us were right about Vietnam, and some of us were wrong. The lesson is that true patriots must defend the right of dissent, and hear the voices of dissenters, especially now, when our leaders have committed us to a pre-emptive “war of choice” that does not involve the defense of our people or our territory against aggressors. The patriotic obligation to speak out becomes even more urgent when politicians refuse to debate their policies or disclose the facts. And even more urgent when they seek, perversely, to use their own military blunders to deflect opposition and answer their own failures with more of the same. Presidents and politicians may worry about losing face, or votes, or legacy; it is time to think about young Americans and innocent civilians who are losing their lives.

Dissenters are not always right, but it is always a warning sign when they are accused of unpatriotic sentiments by politicians seeking a safe harbor from debate, from accountability, or from the simple truth.

Truth is the American bottom line. Truth above all is fundamental to who we are. It is no accident that among the first words of the first declaration of our national existence it is proclaimed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident…”.

The bedrock of America’s greatest advances—the foundation of what we know today are defining values—was formed not by cheering on things as they were, but by taking them on and demanding change.

And here in Iowa we must insist again that fidelity, honor, and love of country demand untrammeled debate and open dissent. At no time is that truer than in the midst of a war rooted in deceit and justified by continuing deception.

Think about that now—in a new era that has brought old temptations and tested abiding principles.

America has always embraced the best traditions of civilized conduct toward combatants and non-combatants in war. But today our leaders hold themselves above the law—in the way they not only treat prisoners in Abu Ghraib, but assert unchecked power to spy on American citizens.

America has always rejected war as an instrument of raw power or naked self-interest. We fought when we had to in order to repel grave threats or advance freedom together with like-minded people everywhere. But our current leadership, for all its rhetoric of freedom and democracy, behaves as though might does make right. They discard alliances and institutions that served us so well in the past as nothing more now than roadblocks to the exercise of unilateral power.

What they forget is that America has always been stronger when we have not only proclaimed free speech, but listened to it. Yes, in every war, there have been those who demand suppression and silencing. And although no one is being jailed today for speaking out against the war in Iraq, the spirit of intolerance for dissent has risen steadily, and the habit of labeling dissenters as unpatriotic has become the common currency of the politicians currently running our country.

Dismissing dissent is not only wrong, but dangerous when America’s leadership is unwilling to admit mistakes, unwilling to engage in honest discussion, and unwilling to hold itself accountable for the consequences of decisions made without genuine disclosure, or genuine debate. As Thomas Jefferson said, “dissent is the highest form of patriotism.”

In recent weeks, a number of retired high-ranking military leaders, several of whom played key combat or planning roles in Afghanistan and Iraq, have come forward publicly to call for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. And across the administration, we’ve heard these calls dismissed or even attacked as acts of disloyalty, or – amazingly - -as threats to civilian control of the armed forces. Now there’s some clear thinking. Someone please explain how a civilian speaking out is a threat to civilian control of the military! We have even heard accusations that this dissent gives aid and comfort to the enemy. That is cheap and it is shameful. How dare those who never wore the uniform in battle attack those who wore it all their lives—and who, retired or not, did not resign their citizenship in order to serve their country.

At a time when mistake after mistake is being compounded by the very civilian leadership in the Pentagon that ignored expert military advice in the invasion and occupation of Iraq, those who understand the price for each mistake being paid by our troops, our country, and Iraq itself must be heard.

Once again we are imprisoned in a failed policy. And once again we are being told that admitting mistakes, not the mistakes themselves, will provide our enemies with an intolerable propaganda victory. Once again we are being told that we have no choice but to stay the course of a failed policy. At a time like this, those who seek to reclaim America’s true character and strength have a duty to speak out and they must be respected.

The true defeatists today are not those who call for recognizing the facts on the ground in Iraq. The true defeatists are those who believe America is so weak that it must sacrifice its principles to the pursuit of illusory power.

The true pessimists today are not those who know that America can handle the truth about the Administration’s boastful claim of “Mission Accomplished.” The true pessimists are those who cannot accept that America’s power and prestige depend on our credibility at home and around the world. The true pessimists are those who do not understand that fidelity to our principles is as critical to national security as our military power itself.

And the most dangerous defeatists, the most dispiriting pessimists, are those who invoke September 11th to argue that our traditional values are a luxury we can no longer afford.

I understand fully that Iraq is not Vietnam, and the war on terrorism is not the Cold War. But in one very crucial respect, we are in the same place now as we were thirty five years ago. When I testified in 1971, I spoke out not just against the war itself, but the blindness and cynicism of political leaders who were sending brave young Americans to be killed or maimed for a strategy the leaders themselves knew could not accomplish the mission.

The War in Vietnam and the War in Iraq are now converging in too many tragic respects.

As in Vietnam, we engaged militarily in Iraq based on official deception.

As in Vietnam, we went into Iraq ostensibly to fight a larger global war under the misperception that the particular theater was just a sideshow, but we soon learned that the particular aspects of the place where we fought mattered more than anything else.

And as in Vietnam, we have stayed and fought and died even though it is time for us to go.

Half of the service members listed on the Vietnam Memorial Wall died after America’s leaders knew our strategy would not work. It was immoral then and it would be immoral now to engage in the same delusion. We want democracy in Iraq, but Iraqis must want it as much as we do. Our valiant soldiers can’t bring democracy to Iraq if Iraq’s leaders are unwilling themselves to make the compromises that democracy requires.

As our generals have said, the war cannot be won militarily. It must be won politically. No American soldier should be sacrificed because Iraqi politicians refuse to resolve their ethnic and political differences. Iraqi politicians have only responded to deadlines – a deadline to transfer authority, and a deadline to hold three elections. That is why we need a deadline now for Iraqis to stand up and fight for their own country.

Our soldiers have done their job. Now it’s time for the Iraqis to do their job, and it is time to get our combat troops home in 2006 and get Iraq up on its own two feet.

So now, as in 1971, we are engaged in another fight to live the truth and make our own government accountable. This is another moment when American patriotism demands more dissent and less complacency in the face of bland assurances from those in power.

We must insist now that patriotism does not belong to those who defend a President’s position—it belongs to those who defend their country. Patriotism is not love of power; it is love of country. And sometimes loving your country demands you must tell the truth to power. This is one of those times.

When I testified thirty five years ago, I asked the question: ‘where are the leaders of our country?’

It’s time we ask that question again – and time we say clearly it’s not just in Iraq but on every issue where Washington has either failed to lead – or misled America in the wrong direction.

Rarely has there been a moment more urgent for all Americans to step up and define our country again.

Some people suggest we don’t have any ideas. You know, I have to laugh at that. If by ideas they mean running the debt up to nine trillion dollars, losing America’s manufacturing base, denying children after-school programs, cutting kids from Medicaid, and privatizing Social Security; if by ideas they mean violating the law, ignoring international treaties and forgetting diplomacy; if by ideas they mean filling the trough of the special interests’ pig pen – giving the money changers their bankruptcy bill, giving the oil industry their energy bill, and giving the big pharmaceutical companies their prescription drug bill — then they’re right: those are bad ideas being shoved down the throats of the American people by a Washington of bankrupt values and I’m proud we stood up and said no to them every step of the way.

We don’t have a selfish agenda masquerading as ideas and facilitated by those who refuse to hold them accountable and speak the truth.

In fact, the Administration’s agenda of the last years has so distorted America’s politics that now, straightforward, little ideas have become big ones.

So what do we say yes to? What are our ideas?

How about starting with this: tell the American people the truth!

Then, full-on fire the incompetents!

Make America secure with energy independence.

Value work, not wealth, and make our tax code fair for the middle class and people struggling to join it.

Export products, not jobs.

Make health care accessible and affordable for all Americans.

Do something about global warming and, while we’re at it, clean up our lakes and rivers so people can fish and swim in the United States.

Set a deadline for Iraqis to run Iraq and bring our troops home.

And all of this should be done because our one big idea is that leading America and building community requires the shared sacrifice and commitment of all Americans to a set of ideals bigger than self, and based on the truth. We need a Washington that doesn’t just talk about family values, but that actually values families.

That is why I think we should pay for the war instead of passing the bill to our children; that’s why I think we should invest in renewable and alternative energy to grow the fuels of the future; provide all our kids with health insurance; and make America secure by waging and winning a real war on terror.

These are real ideas. I believe that was an agenda worth fighting for in 2004, and it’s even more urgent today and America will be better off if we start getting these things done now.

But these ideas will only become powerful if you give voice to your values.

We need you to make your issues the voting issues of this nation.

I remember when you couldn’t even mention environmental issues without a snicker. But then in the 70’s people got tired of seeing the Cuyahoga River catch on fire from all the chemicals. So one day millions of Americans marched. Politicians had no choice but to take notice. Twelve Congressmen were dubbed the Dirty Dozen, and soon after seven were kicked out of office. The floodgates were opened. We got the Clean Air Act, The Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water. We created the EPA. The quality of life improved because concerned citizens made their issues matter in elections.

So we need you to speak out. Speak out if you want an America that is finally and forever independent of Mideast oil – an America that relies on its ingenuity and innovation – not the Saudi royal family.

Speak out so that instead of making a mockery of the words No Child Left Behind when China and India are graduating tens of thousands more engineers and PhDs than we are, we build an America where college education is affordable and accessible for every student willing to work for it.

Speak out so that instead of letting a few ideologues get in the way of progress that can cure Parkinson’s, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and AIDS, we build an America where the biology students here today will do the groundbreaking stem cell research tomorrow.

Speak out if you want to restore a politics of big ideas, not small-minded attacks.

Speak out if you’re tired of seeing America divided into red states and blue states, because you know we can be one America — red, white, and blue.

Dissent from this unacceptable status quo because you know the job of leadership is to prepare for your future - not ignore it. The people who run Washington today give in to special interests and rob future generations. Real leadership stands up to special interests and sets the course for future generations. You must demand leadership that works to solve problems - not create them.

Our challenge today is to speak out so loudly that Washington has no choice but to make choices worthy of the sacrifice of our neighbors here at home and our troops all around the world.

When we protested the war in Vietnam some would weigh in against us saying: “My country right or wrong.” Our response was simple: “Yes, my country right or wrong. When right, keep it right and when wrong, make it right.” That’s our mission – to get off our rear ends – go out – and make it right today.

The Moment of Truth In Iraq

The Moment of Truth In Iraq
By John Kerry
Des Moines Register

Thirty five years ago this spring, I testified before the United States Senate. I was a 27-year-old Vietnam veteran who believed the war had to come to an end.

It was 1971. Three years earlier, Richard Nixon had been elected president with a secret plan for peace — a plan he kept secret from the American people as young Americans continued to die.

We were a country deeply divided. Many people did not understand or agree with my act of public dissent. To them, supporting the troops meant continuing to support the war, or at least keeping my mouth shut.

I couldn’t remain silent. I felt compelled to speak out about thousands of Americans losing their lives in Vietnam while politicians in Washington schemed to save their political reputations.

Thirty-five years later, in another war gone off course, history is repeating itself. It is both a right and an obligation for Americans today to disagree with a president who is wrong, a policy that is wrong, and a course in Iraq that weakens the nation.

True patriots must defend the right of dissent and listen to the dissenters. Dissenters are not always right, but it is always a warning sign when they are branded unpatriotic by politicians trying to avoid accountability. Those who are right should never fear public scrutiny.

The War in Vietnam and the War in Iraq are now converging in too many tragic respects.

As in Vietnam, we engaged militarily in Iraq based on official deception. And as in Vietnam, we have stayed and fought and died even though it is time for us to go.

Half of the service members listed on the Vietnam Memorial Wall died after America’s leaders knew our strategy would not work. It was immoral then and it would be immoral now to engage in the same delusion. We want democracy in Iraq, but Iraqis must want it as much as we do. Our valiant soldiers can’t bring democracy to Iraq if Iraq’s leaders are unwilling to make the compromises that democracy requires.

As our generals have said, the war cannot be won militarily. It must be won politically. No American soldier should be sacrificed because Iraqi politicians refuse to resolve their ethnic and political differences.

It’s time to get tough with Iraqi politicians. Iraqi leaders have responded only to deadlines—a deadline to transfer authority to a provisional government, and a deadline to hold three elections. It was the most intense 11th hour pressure that pushed aside Prime Minister Jaafari and brought forward a more acceptable candidate.

We need to set another deadline to extricate our troops and get Iraq up on its own two feet. Iraqi politicians should have until May 22nd to put together an effective unity government or we will immediately withdraw our military. If Iraqis aren’t willing to build it by then, they’re probably not willing to build one at all and the civil war will only get worse.

If Iraq’s leaders succeed in putting together a government, then we must agree on another deadline: a schedule for withdrawing American combat forces in 2006. Like Senator Harkin, I believe that would empower the new Iraqi leadership, put Iraqis in the position of running their own country and undermine support for the insurgency, which is fueled in large measure by the majority of Iraqis who want us to leave their country.

I believe as strongly as I did 35 years ago that the most important way to support our troops is to tell the truth. Patriotism does not belong to those who defend a president’s position — it belongs to those who defend our country, in battle and in dissent. That is a lesson of Vietnam worth remembering today – and a lesson worth applying to Iraq.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Good Dogs, Bad Dogs, Lapdogs: How the Media Delivered the Election to Bush by Aiding and Abetting the “Swifities”

There's good dogs and there's bad dogs, big dogs and small dogs. Small dogs are commonly referred to as Lapdogs, they are usually cute and furry and cuddly. But now we have a new breed of Lapdogs... the kind that roll over for Bush and his cabal.

They are not cute and furry, and by no means cuddly, their bark and their bite have caused a lot of damage to America in recent years. Why? Because they became "spooked by allegations of liberal bias" and proceeded to be "afraid of the facts and the consequences of reporting them" during the Bush administration years.

Ron posted earlier today that the Washington Post "reports that George Bush may have Fox News to thank for the 2000 election." That story in the WaPo is a prime example of what Eric Boehlert's new book "Lapdogs" is all about. Salon has a 5 page excerpt from "Lapdogs" here.

The HuffPo has a piece on "Lapdogs" as well today, that exposes the truth about the "Swift Boat Hoax" in no uncertain terms.

In his new book, "Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over For Bush," Eric Boehlert dissects the Beltway media's culpability during the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth smear campaign from the 2004 campaign and concludes the episode "likely delivered Bush the cushion he needed to win in November" and "represented an embarrassing new benchmark for campaign season reporting." "Lapdogs" holds the press accountable for the central role it played in enabling a smear campaign that consumed the crucial campaign month of August 2004 -- "a media monsoon that washed away Kerry's momentum coming out of the Democratic convention."

More on The Democratic Daily.

Lessons of Kent State Still Important 36 Years Later

Today marks the 36 year anniversary of the incident at Kent State, that is seared in the memories of so many across our country. It's implications are strong still today, because as we enter into our third year in an unjust war, we see an administration today, that treats dissenters not unlike they were treated in the '70's. John Kerry in a poignant speech on April 22, reflected on the "right and responsibility to speak out."

"I have come here today to reaffirm that it was right to dissent in 1971 from a war that was wrong. And to affirm that it is both a right and an obligation for Americans today to disagree with a President who is wrong, a policy that is wrong, and a war in Iraq that weakens the nation."

A journalism major at Emerson College, Michael Corcoran, tells us in an OP/ED today, that "Kent State should remind us of what happens when a grossly misguided war divides a country."

If we can speak candidly and openly about our history and our present -- even the worst elements of it -- then we can ensure that the lives lost on May 4, 1970, were not in vain.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

If Only Dick Cheney Treated Other Daughters and Sons Like His Own

As hard as it may be to tell, even Dick Cheney isn’t all bad. Evidence of this is seen in Mary Cheney’s memoirs, as reported by Vanity Fair:

In her new memoir, Now It’s My Turn (Simon & Schuster/Threshold Editions, 2006), Mary Cheney writes that when she told her parents she was gay, the first words out of her father’s mouth “were exactly the ones that I wanted to hear: ‘You’re my daughter, and I love you, and I just want you to be happy.’”

It is good to read that Cheney handled this well in his own family. If only Cheney and the other Republicans stopped to consider that every time they attack a group for political gain there are daughters, sons, and families involved in these cases too. Dick Cheney and the Republicans came to power under a President who claimed to be a “uniter, not a divider.” Imagine how much better a country this could be if they really used the bully pulpet of the White House to teach the same type of tolerance Dick Cheney showed his daughter, instead of stirring up hatred to pick up votes.

Why We Must Leave Iraq

Lt. Gen. William E. Odom, Director of the National Security Agency from 1985 to 1988 and senior fellow at the Hudson Institute explains in Foreign Affairs why it is in our national interest to Cut and Run from Iraq:

Two facts, however painful, must be recognized, or we will remain perilously confused in Iraq. First, invading Iraq was not in the interests of the United States. It was in the interests of Iran and al Qaeda. For Iran, it avenged a grudge against Saddam for his invasion of the country in 1980. For al Qaeda, it made it easier to kill Americans. Second, the war has paralyzed the United States in the world diplomatically and strategically. Although relations with Europe show signs of marginal improvement, the trans-Atlantic alliance still may not survive the war. Only with a rapid withdrawal from Iraq will Washington regain diplomatic and military mobility. Tied down like Gulliver in the sands of Mesopotamia, we simply cannot attract the diplomatic and military cooperation necessary to win the real battle against terror. Getting out of Iraq is the precondition for any improvement.