Friday, April 28, 2006

Exclusive: Scott Ritter on John Kerry’s Iraq Plan

Yesterday morning I had the pleasure of meeting Scott Ritter, who has been an outspoken critic of the war in Iraq since before it started. Ritter is in Los Angeles to promote his book, Iraq Confidential. He came to my daughter's high school to speak to students about the war in Iraq and getting involved in the future of their nation.

I had the opportunity to speak with Scott Ritter before the event. Scott Ritter had been tough on John Kerry's vote on the Iraq War Resolution before the 2004 election, in an OP/ED in the Boston Globe on August 5, 2004, Ritter said:
Kerry needs to publicly reexamine the reasoning for his vote for war and articulate a clear strategy for Iraq that includes not only a plan for reengagement with the international community but also disengagement of American soldiers.
As John Kerry has done exactly what Ritter had suggested in his August '04 OP/ED, I was curious to find out what Ritter's thoughts were on Kerry's recent Iraq proposal. So, I asked him...

Ritter told me that he felt that John Kerry's Iraq plan was "rational, sound and plausible, however it was not enough unless he takes responsibility for his vote."

"He has," I told Ritter, "repeatedly starting in late October with his speech at Georgetown University and most recently with his "Dissent" speech, this last Saturday in Boston." I told Ritter, I would be happy to send him copies of Kerry's statements and speeches to verify this,

"Then, under those circumstances," Ritter told me, "I would be behind his plan."

More on The Democratic Daily.

John Kerry Defending Veterans

While this headline could apply to Iraq vets, today I’m referring to John Kerry’s testimony on Vietnam vets. On April 22, 1971 John Kerry testified before Congress. Last week this was discussed in terms of dissent and opposition to an unjust war. That is one part of the testimony. Right wingers claim that Kerry was testifying against his fellow veterans. That is a lie. John Kerry testified in defense of his fellow veterans. Even when discussing the charges of atrocities such a free fire zones (charges which have been verified as true), Kerry placed the blame on those who made the policy, not the soldiers who were victims of the situation:

I think it lies with the men who designed free fire zones. I think it lies with the men who encourage body counts. I think it lies in large part with this country, which allows a young child before he reaches the age of 14 to see 12,500 deaths on television, which glorifies the John Wayne syndrome, which puts out fighting man comic books on the stands, which allows us in training to do calisthenics to four counts, on the fourth count of which we stand up and shout “kill” in unison, which has posters in barracks in this country with a crucified Vietnamese, blood on him, and underneath it says “kill the gook,” and I think that clearly the responsibility for all of this is what has produced this horrible aberration.

While conservatives stress, and typically distort, Kerry’s discussion of atrocities, Kerry’s defense of his fellow veterans is often forgotten. In 1971 Kerry spoke of the problems faced by Veterans, including health problems, which are similar to those seen today:

Each day to facilitate the process by which the United States washes her hands of Vietnam someone has to give up his life so that the United States doesn’t have to admit something that the entire world already knows, so that we can’t say that we have made a mistake. Someone has to dies so that President Nixon won’t be, and these are his words, “the first President to lose a war.”

We are asking Americans to think about that because how do you ask a man to be the last man to dies in Vietnam? How do ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake? But we are trying to do that, and we are doing it with thousands of rationalizations, and if you read carefully the President’s last speech to the people of this country, you can see that he says, and says clearly: But the issue, gentlemen, the issue is communism, and the question is whether or not we will leave that country to the communists or whether or not we will try to give it hope to be a free people. But the point is they are not a free people now under us. They are not a free people, and we cannot fight communism all over the world, and I think we should have learned that lesson by now.

But the problem of veterans goes beyond this personal problem, because you think about a poster in this country with a picture of Uncle Sam and the picture says “I want you.” And a young man comes out of high school and says, “That is fine. I am going to serve my country.” And he goes to Vietnam and he shoots and he kills and he does his job or maybe he doesn’t kill, maybe he just goes and he comes back, and when he gets back to this country he finds that he isn’t really wanted, because the largest unemployment figure in the country- it varies depending on who you get it from, the VA Administration 15 percent, various other sources 22 percent. But the largest corps of unemployed in this country are veterans of this war, and of those veterans 33 percent of the unemployed are black. That means 1 out of every 10 of the Nation’s unemployed is a veteran of Vietnam.

The hospitals across the country won’t, or can’t meet their demands. It is not a question of not trying. They don’t have the appropriations. A man recently died after he had a tracheotomy in California, not because of the operation but because there weren’t enough personnel to clean the mucous out of his tube and he suffocated to death.

Another young man just died in a New York VA hospital the other day. A friend of mine was lying in a bed two beds away and tried to help him, but he couldn’t. He rang a bell and there was nobody there to service that man and so he died of convulsions.

I understand 57 percent of all those entering the VA hospitals talk about suicide. Some 27 percent have tried, and they try because they come back to this country and they have to face what they did in Vietnam, and then they come back and find the indifference of a country that doesn’t really care, that doesn’t really care.

Julia Thorne, Ex-Wife of John Kerry, Has Died at 61

From the Boston Globe:

Julia Thorne, at 61; author, activist was ex-wife of Senator Kerry

By Mark Feeney, Globe Staff | April 28, 2006

Julia Thorne, an author, activist, and former wife of US Senator John F. Kerry, died yesterday in Concord. She was 61.

The cause of death was transitional-cell carcinoma, a form of cancer, according to her daughter Vanessa Kerry.

In a telephone interview, John Kerry called Ms. Thorne ‘’a great friend to a lot of people” and spoke with emotion of her accomplishments as a parent. ‘’She was the best mom two daughters could want,” he said. ‘’She was completely committed to the kids and their future.”

Her daughter echoed that view.

‘’She was a phenomenal mother,” said Vanessa Kerry, of Cambridge. ‘’And she affected many others, too. So many people have come up to me over the years, even on the campaign trail, to say how much of a difference her books made for them. People basked in her embrace of life.”

Ms. Thorne was the author of ‘’You Are Not Alone: Words of Experience and Hope for the Journey through Depression” (1993), with Larry Rothstein, and ‘’A Change of Heart: Words of Experience and Hope for the Journey through Divorce” (1996).

The former book reflected her own experience with depression, something she suffered from during much of the 1980s. She later founded The Depression Initiative, a nonprofit education foundation.

‘’Depression isn’t always a bad thing,” Ms. Thorne said in a 1993 Globe interview. ‘’Under certain circumstances it will teach you things.”

Ms. Thorne had a longstanding interest in the arts, dating to a childhood ambition to become a dancer. She served as assistant director of the Institute of Contempory Art during the mid-’70s and was later a board member of the Twyla Tharp Dance Foundation.

Ms. Thorne never felt comfortable with the demands of being a political wife.

‘’What she disdained more than anything was politics,” said Douglas Brinkley in a telephone interview yesterday. Brinkley, the author of ‘’Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War,” added that Ms. Thorne ‘’didn’t enjoy the breakfasts, the lunches, the shaking of hands: the upbeat rigamarole of politics. She loathed the back-stabbing of it. She went on her own journey, one based on spirituality and nature.”

Ms. Thorne and Kerry divorced in 1988. She moved to Wyoming in 1993 and became active in environmental causes. After she and Richard J. Charlesworth married in 1997, they moved to Bozeman, Mont.

Julia Stimson Thorne was born Sept. 16, 1944, in New York. Her father, Landon K. Thorne Jr., was a banker. Her mother was Alice (Barry).

Among Ms. Thorne’s forebears were Elias Boudinot IV, who was president of the Continental Congress, and two Cabinet members: William Bradford, attorney general under George Washington; and Henry L. Stimson, secretary of state under Herbert Hoover and secretary of war under Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Ms. Thorne spent much of her childhood in Italy, where her father had been appointed to a diplomatic post.

‘’I was what you might call a high society jet-setter,” Ms. Thorne told the Globe in 2003. ‘’I had been brought up in this rarefied world. My mother was very Edwardian in her value system. She had an idea of what was a decorous life for a young lady, and that didn’t include going to colleges. It was more about knowing the right people in the right palaces. It was a waste of a good mind.”

Ms. Thorne attended the Foxcroft School in Middleburg, Va. ‘’I hated it there, I just didn’t fit in,” she said in a 1990 Globe interview. After graduating, she took classes at the New York School of Interior Design and Radcliffe College.

In the summer of 1963, Ms. Thorne was at her family’s estate in New York, on Long Island, when Kerry, a Yale classmate of her twin brother, David, arrived for a visit. She was wearing a bikini and singing a Peter, Paul, and Mary song, ‘’Five Hundred Miles.” Clearly smitten, ‘’he just kind of stood there and looked,” Ms. Thorne recalled in a Globe interview. They married in 1970.

Ms. Thorne and Kerry remained friendly after their divorce and she supported his presidential candidacy in 2004. ‘’I don’t have a single reservation about this man,” she said in 2003. ‘’He is an extraordinarily astute politician.”

There could be little doubt, though, of her own sense of relief not to be involved in the campaign. ‘’After 14 years as a political wife, I associated politics only with anger, fear, and loneliness,” she wrote in ‘’A Change of Heart.”

‘’She saw the life of the rich and famous and rejected it,” Brinkley said yesterday. ‘’She saw the life of a celebrity in the modern world and disdained it. She sought the life of a serious person in a thoughtful community.”

In addition to her husband, daughter Vanessa, and brother David, of Brookline, Ms. Thorne leaves another daughter, Alexandra of New York; and brother, Landon K. III of Beaufort, S.C.

A memorial service is planned for the fall.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Kerry Quotes

Check out this collection of quotes.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Kerry and Gore Remain Our Best Shot at 2008

James Boyce wrote at Huffington Post what I’ve said several time lately–our strongest candidate are those with experience in a national campaign. This is the best way to learn that the conventional wisdom of the consultants is not always best, and the degree to which the Republicans will do anything, however dirty, to win.

Al Gore not talking about the environment means it’s not really Al Gore talking - the environment is his passion - his soul - and what makes him real. John Kerry not talking about veterans, and war, and international relations and patriotic dissent, takes him away from everything that made him the person he is. It’s not about polling, it’s about authenticity and being true to yourself. This doesn’t show up in a focus group of undecided voters in Florida, but the lesson comes through loud and clear on the first Tuesday in November.

Should Al Gore and John Kerry have known better? Yes. Does the buck for their respective losses stop with them and no one else? Absolutely. But what if each man decides to run again? How should we judge them?

I believe that only those who have gone through the vortex of a Presidential Campaign can truly appreciate the enormous physical, mental and emotional toll it takes, and only those who have done it and lost, can truly understand what it takes to win.

Trust me, you might not believe that Al Gore and John Kerry know much, and you have every right to be angry at them for losing and you have every right to disagree with my premise, not to mention that the fact that I fully admit I would support and work with John Kerry first in 2008 and if he doesn’t run, I’m going to try and convince Al Gore to run - but please, take it from someone who survived, barely, the 2004 election, these two men who lost everything — they know how to win.

First Read Shows Kerry Was Right Again

From First Read:

During the 2004 presidential campaign, when average gas prices had soared above $2 a barrel, Sen. John Kerry (D) demanded that the Administration stop filling the SPR to increase the oil supply. But the Administration disagreed, arguing that the reserve is national security asset and that it would continue to fill it, absent a severe supply interruption. But in announcing yesterday that he wanted to temporarily suspend filling the SPR, Bush said, “Our strategic reserve is sufficiently large enough to guard against any major supply disruption over the next few months.”

Monday, April 24, 2006

Yet Another New Low for Bush

George Bush’s approval is down to 32% in the latest Gallup Poll, marking his lowest approval yet in any poll. In other recent polls, Fox News had him at 33%, Pew Center at 35%, and American Research Group at 34%.

In the Gallup Poll, the number who think Bush is “honest and trustworthy” is down to 40%. 47% believe he is competent.

Wall Street Favors Democrats

Bloomberg reports that “Democrats outdid Republicans last year in attracting political donations from investment banks, brokerages and fund managers for the first time since 1994, helped by support from hedge funds and companies such as Merrill Lynch & Co.”

This is a sign that Wall Street wants change:

“Wall Street wants change'’ on issues such as the Iraq war and the budget deficit, said James Torrey, chairman of the Torrey Funds, which manages about $1 billion. “I’m finding people who are registered Republicans who are saying to me, ‘what can I do to help?’

Orin Kramer, general partner of Boston Provident Partners LP in New York notes that, “When the party with no power can raise more money than the party with all the power, it means people are pretty disturbed about the country’s condition.”

Dotty Lynch: The Real John Kerry Finally Stands Up

CBS's Dotty Lynch writes about John Kerry's "Dissent" speech, in her Political Points column today, "Kerry has the opportunity to lead a movement once again... by rallying a very angry public to force a change in policy. Richard Nixon worried about Kerry's potential as a leader back in the 70s; maybe the new Kerry will finally prove him right."

John Kerry greets his brother, Cameron Kerry, before addressing the crowd at Faneuil Hall in Boston, April 22, 2006. (AP)
John Kerry came to national attention not because he was a war hero but because he was a dissenter. In 1971, he appeared on "The Dick Cavett Show," testified before Congress, and electrified anti-war rallies with his message that the war was wrong. His phrase, "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" was used for years to define his commitment and eloquence.
On Saturday in Boston's historic Faneuil Hall, Kerry stood tall and proud and came to terms with what seemed so right in the 1970s and so wrong in 2004. He gave a speech about the American tradition of dissent and his own and others' disagreement with Bush administration policies on both Vietnam and Iraq.

Thirty-five years to the day that he testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he was introduced by the widow of a Swift Boat buddy, Don Droz, who emotionally recounted how her late husband told her how he and Kerry were planning to come home after Vietnam and "tell the truth about what was going on." Judith Droz Keyes, who spoke out in her husband's name in the seventies, described Kerry as a man who "has once again become the voice of moral opposition."

Sunday, April 23, 2006

John Kerry on "This Week"

John Kerry was on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopolous this morning, discussing a wide scope of topics including his speech at Boston's Faneuil Hall yesterday, Iraq, the new audiotape that has surfaced from Osama bin Laden, Donald Rumsfeld, his views on changing the primary schedule and more...

(AP Photo/ABC News, Freddie Lee)

The following is the transcript of the show (note: transcript is first take, some is missing)
STEPHANOPOULOS: But can a new prime minister stop the violence in Iraq? And will a new staff shore up the president at home?

We'll ask our headliner, Senator John Kerry, in a Sunday exclusive.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning, everyone. We begin today with some breaking news, a new audiotape from Osama bin Laden. Al Jazeera is broadcasting the tape in which the Al Qaida leader says the war in Iraq and the cutoff of funds to the Palestinian government led by Hamas proves that there is a Zionist crusade against Islam. The tape has not yet been authenticated.

Here to discuss this and more is our headliner, Senator John Kerry. Welcome back to "This Week"

KERRY: Good morning. Glad to be here.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Osama bin Laden is back. What's your reaction?

Kennedy on Meet The Press: Would Back Kerry Again in '08

Senator Ted Kennedy was on Meet The Press this morning. In the interview Kennedy said, once again, that "if fellow Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry makes another bid for the presidency in 2008, he would again back him." A netcast of Meet The Press is available here.


"If he (Kerry) runs, I'm supporting him," Kennedy, the leading liberal in the U.S. Congress, told NBC's "Meet the Press."

With Kennedy's help, Kerry won the Democratic presidential nomination two years ago, but lost the 2004 White House race to Republican President George W. Bush.

Kerry said last week he was taking a hard look at another run in 2008, and intended to make a decision near the end of the year.
Kerry, who was on ABC's "This Week" today, said, "My decision is not affected by any other candidate's decision. It wasn't in 2002 when I made the decision to run, and it will not be this time."
Kerry said he was now focusing on trying to help fellow Democrats win back control of the Republican-led Congress in the November elections.

Kennedy said he expected Democrats to take back the Senate as well as the House of Representatives on Election Day, primarily because of what he described as an inept White House.

"The overarching issue is the gross incompetence of this administration in every aspect," Kennedy said, citing the Iraq war, troubled Medicare prescription drug program and the administration's response to Hurricane Katrina.

John Kerry: Keep N.H. First

As I reported last night, the NH Union Leader reported that John Kerry “yesterday firmly opposed the national Democratic Party’s plan to dilute the New Hampshire first-in-the-nation primary’s traditional strong impact on Presidential politics.” Kerry wrote an OP/ED published in the Sunday Union Leader sharing his views on the importance of Keeping NH first:

John Kerry: Let’s keep NH first
Guest Commentary

RUNNING for President as the Democratic Party’s nominee in 2004 was one of the proudest experiences of my life. But I fear that what my party is considering doing to the process by which we pick a nominee is harming our party by diminishing New Hampshire’s unique first-in-the-nation role.

I support Iowa and New Hampshire’s first-in-the nation status in our Presidential nominating process. The special role that Iowa and New Hampshire play in Presidential politics has strengthened our democracy by insuring that citizens at the grassroots engage directly with candidates for the Presidency. We should preserve the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary in their traditional forms.

The process in New Hampshire is good for American politics. In New Hampshire, citizens open up their homes, their businesses and even their firehouses to gather friends and neighbors and grill the candidates on issues from health care to war and peace. I don’t believe I would have been half as prepared to stand on a stage and debate a sitting President had I not first gone through the crucible that is the New Hampshire primary.

John Kerry’s “Dissent” In The News

I've yet to watch John Kerry's speech at Faneuil Hall today on C-Span, but I've read it over a couple of times now and the words ring like a clear bell in my heart. Notable from the news on Kerry's speech is this piece with some quips about the reactions of those attending, including a standing ovation at the begining of the speech and that there were atleast 20 more during...
"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," Kerry said to a standing ovation yesterday at Boston's historic Faneuil Hall...

"Lives have been lost to bad decisions," Kerry said. "Not decisions that could have gone either way, but decisions that constitute basic negligence and incompetence. And lives continue to be lost because of stubbornness and pride."

Kristyna Reisberg, 20, a Northeastern University student from Acton who attended the speech with her father, Paul Reisberg, said she was heartened to know some politicians share her values.

"It's nice to know that there are people in power who have the same views, and it's not a lost cause," she said.

Vietnam veteran Rick Hasset said Kerry's words have resonated with him for 35 years.
Read more »

Saturday, April 22, 2006

John Kerry on Dissent at Faneuil Hall

The text of John Kerry's speech today. Further information at The Democratic Daily

Senator John Kerry
Faneuil Hall
April 22, 2006

Thirty-five years ago today, 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. When brave patriots suffer and die on the altar of stubborn pride, because of the incompetence and self-deception of mere politicians, then the only patriotic choice is to reclaim the moral authority misused by those entrusted with high office.

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. Indeed, one of the architects of the war, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, confessed in a recent book that he knew victory was no longer a possibility far earlier than 1971.

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. All the horrors of a jungle war against an invisible enemy indistinguishable from the people we were supposed to be protecting—all the questions associated with quietly sanctioned violence against entire villages and regions—all the confusion and frustration that came from defending a corrupt regime in Saigon that depended on Americans to do too much of the fighting—all that cried out for dissent, demanded truth, and could not be denied by easy slogans like “peace with honor”—or by the politics of fear and smear. 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.

The fissures created by Vietnam have long been stubbornly resistant to closure. But I am proud it was the dissenters—and it was our veterans’ movement—and people like Judy Droz Keyes—who battled not just to end the war but to combat government secrecy and the willful amnesia of a society that did not want to remember its obligations to the soldiers who fought. We fought the forgetting and pushed our nation to confront the war’s surplus of sad legacies—Agent Orange, Amer-Asian orphans, abandoned allies, exiled and imprisoned draft dodgers, doubts about whether all our POWs had come home, and honor at last for those who returned from Vietnam and those who did not. Because we spoke out, the truth was ultimately understood that the faults in Vietnam were those of the war, not the warriors.

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.

This is not the first time in American history when patriotism has been distorted to deflect criticism and mislead the nation.

In the infancy of the Republic, in 1798, Congress enacted the Alien and Sedition Acts to smear Thomas Jefferson and accuse him of treason. Newspapers were shut down, and their editors arrested, including Benjamin Franklin’s grandson. No wonder Thomas Jefferson himself said: “Dissent is the greatest form of patriotism.”

In the Mexican War, a young Congressman named Abraham Lincoln was driven from public life for raising doubts about official claims. And in World War I, America’s values were degraded, not defended, when dissenters were jailed and the teaching of German was banned in public schools in some states. At that time it was apparently sounding German, not looking French, that got you in trouble. And it was panic and prejudice, not true patriotism, that brought the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II—a measure upheld by Supreme Court Justices who did not uphold their oaths to defend the Constitution. We are stronger today because no less a rock-ribbed conservative than Robert Taft — “Mr. Republican” himself — stood up and said at the height of the second World War that, “the maintenance of the right of criticism in the long run will do the country maintaining it a great deal more good than it will do the enemy, and will prevent mistakes which might otherwise occur.”

Even during the Cold War—an undeclared war, and often more a war of nerves and diplomacy than of arms—even the mildest dissenters from official policy were sometimes silenced, blacklisted, or arrested, especially during the McCarthy era of the early 1950s. Indeed, it was only when Joseph McCarthy went through the gates of delirium and began accusing distinguished U.S. diplomats and military leaders of treason that the two parties in Washington and the news media realized the common stake they had in the right to dissent. They stood up to a bully and brought down McCarthyism’s ugly and contrived appeals to a phony form of 100% Americanism.

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…”.

This hall and this Commonwealth have always been at the forefront of seeking out and living out the truth in the conduct of public life. Here Massachusetts defined human rights by adopting our own Bill of Rights; here we took a stand against slavery, for women’s suffrage and civil rights for all Americans. 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 and now 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. For what is at stake here is nothing less than life itself. As the statesman Edmund Burke once said: “A conscientious man should be cautious how he dealt in blood.”

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 and self-determination in concert with like-minded people everywhere. But our current leadership, for all its rhetoric of freedom and democracy, behaves as though might does make right, enabling us to discard the alliances and institutions that served us so well in the past as nothing more now than impediments to the exercise of unilateral power.

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 of the nation’s direction, and unwilling to hold itself accountable for the consequences of decisions made without genuine disclosure, or genuine debate.

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, from the president on down, we’ve heard these calls dismissed or even attacked as acts of disloyalty, or as threats to civilian control of the armed forces. We have even heard accusations that this dissent gives aid and comfort to the enemy. That is cheap and it is shameful. And once again we have seen personal attacks on the character of those who speak out. 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.

The former top operating officer at the Pentagon, a Marine Lieutenant General, said “the commitment of our forces to this fight was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions–or bury the results.” It is hard for a career military officer to speak those words. But at a time when the administration cannot let go of the myths and outright lies it broadcast in the rush to war in Iraq, those who know better must speak out.

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 being paid for each mistake 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 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” in Iraq. 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.

Let’s call it the Bush-Cheney Doctrine.

According to the Bush-Cheney Doctrine, alliances and international institutions are now disposable—and international institutions are dispensable or even despicable.

According to the Bush-Cheney Doctrine, we cannot foreswear the fool’s gold of information secured by torturing prisoners or creating a shadow justice system with no rules and no transparency.

According to the Bush-Cheney Doctrine, unwarranted secrecy and illegal spying are now absolute imperatives of our national security.

According to the Bush-Cheney Doctrine, those who question the abuse of power question America itself.

According to the Bush-Cheney doctrine, an Administration should be willing to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on the Iraq war, but unwilling to spend a few billion dollars to secure the American ports through which nuclear materials could make their way to terrorist cells.

According to the Bush-Cheney Doctrine, executive powers trump the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers.

According to the Bush-Cheney Doctrine, smearing administration critics is not only permissible, but necessary—and revealing the identity of a CIA agent is an acceptable means to hide the truth.

The raw justification for abandoning so many American traditions exposes the real danger of the Bush-Cheney Doctrine. We all understand we are in a long struggle against jihadist extremism. It does represent a threat to our vital security interests and our values. Even the Bush-Cheney Administration acknowledges this is preeminently an ideological war, but that’s why the Bush-Cheney Doctrine is so ill-equipped to fight and win it.

Our enemies argue that all our claims about advancing universal principles of human rights and mutual respect disguise a raw demand for American dominance. They gain every time we tolerate or cover up abuses of human rights in Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo Bay, or among sectarian militias in Iraq, and especially when we defiantly disdain the rules of international law.

Our enemies argue that our invasion and occupation of Iraq reflect an obsession with oil supplies and commercial opportunities. They gain when our president and vice president, both former oil company executives, continue to pursue an oil-based energy strategy, and provide vast concessions in Iraq to their corporate friends.

And so there’s the crowning irony: the Bush-Cheney Doctrine holds that many of our great traditions cannot be maintained; yet the Bush-Cheney policies, by abandoning those traditions, give Osama bin Laden and his associates exactly what they want and need to reinforce their hate-filled ideology of Islamic solidarity against the western world.

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 mission the leaders themselves no longer believed in.

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.

We are now in the third war in Iraq in as many years. The first was against Saddam Hussein and his supposed weapons of mass destruction. The second was against terrorists whom, the administration said, it was better to fight over there than here. Now we find our troops in the middle of an escalating civil war.

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.

Our call to action is clear. 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 just pushed aside Prime Minister Jaafari and brought forward a more acceptable candidate. And it will demand deadline toughness to reign in Shiite militias Sunnis say are committing horrific acts of torture every day in Baghdad.

So we must set another deadline to extricate our troops and get Iraq up on its own two feet.

Iraqi politicians should be told that they have until May 15 to deal with these intransigent issues and at last put together an effective unity government or we will immediately withdraw our military. If Iraqis aren’t willing to build a unity government in the five months since the election, they’re probably not willing to build one at all. The civil war will only get worse, and we will have no choice anyway but to leave.

If Iraq’s leaders succeed in putting together a government, then we must agree on another deadline: a schedule for withdrawing American combat forces by year’s end. Doing so will actually 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.

So now, as in 1971, we are engaged in another fight to live the truth and make our own government accountable. 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.

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.

Lives are on the line. Lives have been lost to bad decisions – not decisions that could have gone either way, but decisions that constitute basic negligence and incompetence. And lives continue to be lost because of stubbornness and pride.

We support the troops—the brave men and women who have always protected us and do so today—in part by honoring their service, and in part by making sure they have everything they need both in battle and after they have borne the burden of battle.

But I believe now as strongly and proudly as I did thirty-five years ago that the most important way to support the troops is to tell the truth, and to ensure we do not ask young Americans to die in a cause that falls short of the ideals of this country.

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.” And that’s what we must do again today.

Friday, April 21, 2006

For John Kerry, History Repeats Itself: "Patriotism is Truth, Today As In Vietnam"

April 22 is a day that has historical significance in the life of John Kerry. On April 22, 1970 he was instrumental in the first Earth Day in Massachusetts. One year later on April 22, 1971, John Kerry testified before the Senate Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Fulbright Commission on the Vietnam War, it was day that he and many others across this country will never forget.

It was on that day that Kerry sat in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and asked How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?”

Saturday, April 22, 2006, now thirty-five years later, as history is repeating itself in Iraq, John Kerry is making history on the anniversary of his Senate testimony, as he takes to the podium at Boston's Faneuil Hall to ask once again “Where are the leaders of our country? Where is the leadership?”

Generals, veterans, elected officials and Gold Star mothers who ask tough questions and dare to stand and speak the truth to power, are being attacked. They all have a right to speak up as Americans, and we all have an obligation to speak out against a President who is wrong -- a policy that is wrong -- and a war in Iraq that weakens our country.

The following OP/ED from Senator John Kerry that coincides with his speech at Faneuil Hall... MORE at The Democratic Daily.

John Kerry Defends NH Primary

The NH Union Leader reports that John Kerry "yesterday firmly opposed the national Democratic Party’s plan to dilute the New Hampshire first-in-the-nation primary’s traditional strong impact on Presidential politics."

The Democratic National Committee should place no nominating caucuses between Iowa’s leadoff caucus and the primary in 2008, Kerry told the New Hampshire Union Leader. He said the early nomination calendar does not need to be fixed because it isn’t broken.

Tomorrow’s New Hampshire Sunday News opinion page will publish a commentary by Kerry that says:

“I have consistently supported Iowa’s and New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation status for as long as I have been involved in national politics. That’s why I am not in favor of the Democratic National Committee’s current plan to place a caucus event between Iowa and New Hampshire, nor am I in favor of placing a primary election during the seven days that immediately follow the New Hampshire primary.”

Kerry added in an interview that he has “weighed in nationally with people on that position.”


Thursday, April 20, 2006

We Face A Crisis Without Equal

Editor and Publisher notes many of the same trends we have. “Fox News poll this week shows his approval rating sinking to 33%, with grassroots Republicans abandoning Bush in droves.” “This week at Vanity Fair online, Carl Bernstein is calling for a Watergate-style congressional probe of possible high crimes and misdemeanors. Even Neil Young is weighing in with a soon-to-be-released song that urges, “Let’s impeach the president — for lying.” They give more extended coverage to Thomas Friedman’s column, starting by observing:

Friedman, who still supports the Iraq war, opens by declaring that given a choice between a nuclear Iran and an attack on that country engineered by the White House, he would choose the former. That’s how little he trusts the diplomatic and military chops of Bush, Rumsfeld, Condi and Co. He cites “the level of incompetence that the Bush team has displayed in Iraq, and its refusal to acknowledge any mistakes or remove those who made them.”

Editor and Publisher calls this A Crisis Almost Without Equal:

Our president, in a time of war, terrorism and nuclear intrigue, will likely remain in office for another 33 months, with crushingly low approval ratings that are still inching lower. Facing a similar problem, voters had a chance to quickly toss Jimmy Carter out of office, and did so. With a similar lengthy period left on his White House lease, Richard Nixon quit, facing impeachment. Neither outcome is at hand this time.

They find no easy solutions:

I don’t have a solution myself now, although all pleas for serious probes, journalistic or official, of the many alleged White House misdeeds should be heeded. But my point here is simply to start the discussion, and urge that the media, first, recognize that the crisis—or, if you want to say, impending crisis — exists, and begin to explore the ways to confront it.

If anything, this column understates the problem which people of both parties are recognized. This country was established under a set of principles including respect for the rights of the individual, religious freedom including the necessary condition of separation of church and state, and separation of powers. Over most of the course of this country, the trend has been to more consistently apply these principles, such as with the extension of rights to women and blacks. We’ve had periods of increased power being grabbed by the Executive Branch, but they inevitably lead to new limitations to maintain our liberties. George Bush is a reactionary who desires to take this country in a direction different from these traditions. Not only is he trying to take the country in a direction different than that desired by most Americans, he has been incompetent in the exercise of the powers of his office, compounding the problem.

As long as his political party places politics over the good of the country, impeachment is not a likely remedy unless there should be a tremendous change in the composition of Congress in the next election. The current Republicans are the only ones with the power to end this crisis now. When faced with problems which were less severe than those we face today, some Republicans such as Barry Goldwater ultimately spared the country continued suffering by convincing Richard Nixon he must step down. This solution is unlikely, but if Republicans wish to show that they love America as much as they claim it is time for them to encourage George Bush and Dick Cheney to step down.

Fox News: Bush Approval Down to 33%

Fox News reports that Bush’s approval is down to 33%. That’s right, Fox News, Bush’s unofficial propaganda organ, places his approval below most other recent polls. Will this put a stop to the Bush Worshippers who have been claiming that Bush is rebounding in the polls, or that the low numbers come from biased news organizations like CBS?

I suspected this might turn out to be a bad day for Bush when it started with Peggy Noonan gently suggesting Bush bend a little. When Peggy Noonan and the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal are no longer safe for Bush, he has no where to go but down.

Teresa Heinz Kerry on Colorado Health Care Bill

THK in Denver

Heinz Kerry lauds health care bill
By Kirk Mitchell and Chris Frates
Denver Post Staff Writers

Philanthropist Teresa Heinz Kerry told a partisan Denver crowd a health care bill that passed a Colorado House committee on Wednesday would be a creative way to provide prescription drugs to the neediest families.

“I believe here in Colorado you’re showing all of us how by working together, we can give everyone the opportunity to earn and hold onto the American dream,” Heinz Kerry said.

Heinz Kerry was in Denver on Wednesday to accept an award from the Colorado AFL-CIO for her efforts to provide health care for working families.

The Heinz Family Philanthropies, which is headed by Heinz Kerry, helped craft a proposal that passed a House committee Wednesday and would help more than 500,000 Coloradans qualify for discounted prescription drugs.

“I believe that this legislation represents some of the freshest, most original work on health care policy that we have seen for quite some time,” Heinz Kerry said.

House Bill 1252 would create a program to provide discounts on prescription drugs for uninsured Coloradans earning less than 250 percent of federal poverty levels, or $50,000 for a family of four, and for those 60 and older.

The proposal would allow eligible individuals to apply for a “Colorado Cares Rx” card online or over the telephone. The card would entitle the holder to the same prices state employees pay when purchasing drugs, which are discounted on average about 30 percent.

The wife of former Democrat presidential candidate John Kerry also thanked Coloradans for their help in getting a record number of voters to the polls in 2004.

“I remember how it felt to come here during my husband’s campaign,” Heinz Kerry told a crowd of mostly Democratic politicians and union members at the Police Protective Association’s office in Denver.

Teaching Hatred of Unbelievers

The Times of London reviewed texts used to teach Muslim students and found that:

“MUSLIM students training to be imams at a British college with strong Iranian links have complained that they are being taught fundamentalist doctrines which describe nonMuslims as “filth”.

This is both disturbing, and sounds an awful lot like the messages (even if slightly less blatant) coming from the right wing regarding all those who don’t follow their beliefs. Muslim fundamentalists and the religious right in the United States have far more in common than either side will admit.

Kerry and Dean Offer Similar Agendas For Democrats

Lately we’ve seen a number of statements from Democrats to summarize their message going into the 2006 elections. Recently, on Meet the Press, John Kerry, called summed up the message as “Tell the truth. Fire the incompetents. Get out of Iraq. Have health care for all Americans.” Kerry also provided a more comprehensive set of goals in his ten point plan.

CQ Politics reports that Howard Dean provided a similar agenda for Democratic candidates this year:

Dean has proposed that Democratic candidates across the country emphasize six major points: honesty and openness in government operations; a strong national defense; promoting American jobs through energy independence; building a health care system that “works for everybody;” strengthening public education; and promoting retirement security.

The Christian Science Monitor adds that “The biggest issues of the election are character issues…. They are going to go to the president’s and the Republicans’ trustworthiness and honesty and their competence. And they are going to lose big on both those issues. After that we get to Iraq, we get to the economy, we get to healthcare.” They also quote Dean as saying, “One of our slogans is probably going to end up being ‘tough and smart.’ Because what the Republicans have done is tough and not very smart.”

Tags: John Kerry, In The News, Democrats, Politics

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

CIA Getting Valuable Information From Blogs

A few months ago we found from the stat counter that we had a reader from the CIA at The Democratic Daily. It looks like we aren’t the only blog the CIA is looking at. The Washington Times reports that the CIA mines ‘rich’ content from blogs:

President Bush and U.S. policy-makers are receiving more intelligence from open sources such as Internet blogs and foreign newspapers than they previously did, senior intelligence officials said.

The new Open Source Center (OSC) at CIA headquarters recently stepped up data collection and analysis based on bloggers worldwide and is developing new methods to gauge the reliability of the content, said OSC Director Douglas J. Naquin.

“A lot of blogs now have become very big on the Internet, and we’re getting a lot of rich information on blogs that are telling us a lot about social perspectives and everything from what the general feeling is to … people putting information on there that doesn’t exist anywhere else,” Mr. Naquin told The Washington Times.

Naturally we are happy to share any information we have which will help the country with the CIA. Here’s a few things we know: Saddam had destroyed any meaningful WMD (but was bluffing his enemies into thinking he still had some nasty weapons). Saddam and bin Laden were enemies and unlikely to ever work together. Al Qaeda and Iran are the real problems in the middle east–and Bush has made both stronger. Humans evolved from simpler life forms, and intelligent design is junk science designed to sneak creationism into the class room. Global warming really is a problem. Health care can be provided far more economically thru many ways other than those supported by George Bush. Virtually everything Bush says is a lie. And finally, the identity of the worst president ever can be found on the cover of Rolling Stone.

Factcheck Reports RNC Ad Mischaracterizes Democratic Stance On Immigration writes that an RNC Ad Mischaracterizes Democratic Stance On Immigration. This is typical of Republicans. As they are on the wrong side of virtually every issue they are forced to campaign by claiming Democrats support positions other than those they really hold. From their summary:

The RNC mischaracterizes the Democratic stance on immigration legislation in a radio ad running in Arizona and Nevada and aimed at Hispanics. The Spanish-language ad says (as translated) that Democrats “voted to treat millions of hardworking immigrants as felons.”

In fact, it was a Republican-sponsored House bill, passed in December with a heavy Republican majority, that would make it a felony either to enter the US without official permission, or to overstay a visa. Under the House bill an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants could face penalties of up to a year and a day in prison.

What the ad refers to is a vote that killed a White House-inspired measure to downgrade the proposed felony to a misdemeanor. Most Democrats opposed the softening amendment, but said they did so because it still would have been too harsh – criminalizing the overstaying of a visa, which is now only a civil offense and not subject to imprisonment.

The Spanish-language ad also says the President and Republican leaders are working for legislation that will “honor our immigrants.” Opinions differ on that. An immigration reform project of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called the Republican-backed House measure “cynical,” and said that it will punish immigrants and harm their families.

On the Senate side, the Judiciary Committee cleared a bipartisan immigration bill that doesn’t make it a felony to enter illegally or overstay permission. Efforts to pass that measure broke down before the Easter recess, and may resume when the Senate returns April 27.

Fair and Balanced Press Briefings

Fox News anchor Tony Snow is under consideration to replace Scott McClellan as White House press secretary. Snow is also a former speech writer for former President George H. W. Bush.

Snow might not be a bad choice. He has several years experience at Fox discussing the news with the Administration’s spin and providing right wing misinformation. If he takes the job, will they claim that White Houses press briefings are fair and balanced?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Brit Hume’s Move to the Right

Howard Kurtz takes a long look at Brit Hume. The title, Moving to the Right, says it all. While Hume, as do most who work at Fox News, like to pretend they are an objective news outlet rather than an organization established to spread right wing views, Hume’s advocacy of right wing ideas has been obvious in watching him. Hume was one of the first to cover the claims of the Swift Boat Liars, reporting fabricated charges planted by Republican politcal operatives as fact. While I’m surprised that favorable coverage of Bush was this low based upon what I’ve seen of Hume, one study demonstrates Hume’s bias:

The Center for Media and Public Affairs, in a 2004 study, found that “Special Report” coverage of President Bush was positive 60 percent of the time, while its evaluations of John Kerry were negative by a 5-to-1 margin. Hume says he was fair to Kerry and that the media gave far more scrutiny to Bush’s National Guard record.

By Jupiter! We’re Influential

The Guardian reports on a study by Jupiter Research, a technology research company, which found that bloggers exert “disproportionately large influence” on society.

Of course we will continue to use our powers for good. While those nasty right wing bloggers use their power to spread misinformation, such as that Saddam had WMD and ties to al Qaeda, we will use our powers to fight for truth, justice, and the American way.

Street Battle in Baghdad Smacks of Open Civil War, Kerry Was Right

Ignore the street battle in Baghdad, that Reuters reports today "smacks of open civil war," because the Bush administration refuses to admit that Iraq has sunken into a civil war and our troops are stuck smack dab in the middle of it.
Snipers held rooftop positions as masked Sunni Arab insurgents said they were gearing up for another open street battle with pro-government Shi'ite militiamen in Baghdad's Adhamiya district on Tuesday.

The Arab Sunni stronghold is still feeling ripples from overnight clashes on Monday that appeared to be the closest yet to all-out sectarian fighting.

It's a reality that has Washington scrambling to avert civil war as Iraqi politicians struggle to form a government four months after parliamentary elections.

A U.S. military spokesman said 50 insurgents attacked Iraqi forces in the middle of the night in a seven-hour battle that killed five rebels and wounded an Iraqi soldier.

Fighting was so fierce that U.S. reinforcements were brought in to the northern district, home to some of Iraq's most hardcore Sunni guerrillas and the Abu Hanifa mosque, near where Saddam Hussein was last seen in public before going into hiding.
A U.K. news source reports that the situation is so disastrous, that the U.S. military actually "planning a “second liberation of Baghdad” to be carried out with the Iraqi army when a new government is installed." Talk about missions not accomplished... "President George W Bush and Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, are under intense pressure to prove to the American public that Iraq is not slipping into anarchy and civil war."

Too late... John Kerry was right, when he said in his NY Times OP/ED on April 5, "Now we find our troops in the middle of an escalating civil war." When is the Bush administration going to admit they have failed their mission, they have failed our troops, they have misled the American public and it's time to leave Iraq, as John Kerry has stated.

John Kerry is "the man with the plan," and it's time for Congress and the Bush administration to get on board.

As Ron reported earlier, today, John Kerry announced in an email sent to supporters via that "Over the next ten days, we're going to give it another huge push." Kerry will be delivering a speech at Boston's Faneuil Hall on the "critically important topic of war and dissent," and then next week, when the Senate is back in session, Kerry will be working to "force the Senate" to "confront reality" on the situation in Iraq.

If you have not signed John Kerry's "Out of Iraq in 2006" Petition, please do so now -- and pass the word along to everyone you know.

2008: The Case For John Kerry - Run John, Run!

The Fix makes the case for John Kerry to run in '08 today. Although Kerry adamantly refuses to to make no announcement until after the '06 mid-terms, Chris Cillizza points out what makes Kerry viable in '08. We've made that case on the Dem Daily, many times in the past.
Kerry has made no secret of his interest in a second bid for the presidency, emerging as a leading voice in the party calling for an exit strategy in Iraq and continuing to use the e-mail list he compiled during his presidential race to raise money both for himself and for a slew of Democratic candidates and party committees.
"Run John, Run!" - Chris Cillizza, says. I could not agree more!


Kerry To Speak on War and Dissent in Boston

John Kerry discusses getting out of Iraq and his upcoming speech at Faneuil Hall on war and dissent in an emailing to supporters:

It’s time for Iraq’s leaders to seize the opportunity for democracy in Iraq that our troops are sacrificing every day to create. If Iraq’s leaders can’t move past their infighting and endless delays to form a new government by May 15, we should immediately withdraw all of our troops. If they meet the May 15 deadline, we’ll bring America’s combat troops home by the end of the year and put the future of democracy in Iraq where it belongs — in the hands of the Iraqi people.

The clarity and precision of our plan stand in sharp contrast to the aimless approach of the architects of this war — Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld. All across America, people are strongly dissenting from the Bush administration’s “stay for as long as it takes” policy — and, just as important, standing up to the administration’s attempts to vilify and question the patriotism of those who dare to speak out.

Decades ago I stood up to the Nixon administration and spoke out for a change of course in Vietnam. Four days from now, I will be delivering a speech at Boston’s Faneuil Hall on the critically important topic of war and dissent. It’s time to remind America that, when a stubborn president has America headed profoundly in the wrong direction, only citizen action can change our country’s course.

The fight is just beginning. I recognize the importance of the United States Senate as an institution that can help change America’s course. And I know that we can’t force George W. Bush to confront reality in Iraq until we force the Senate to do the same.

Bernstein Calls for Senate Investigation of George Bush

Carl Bernstein calls for a Senate investigation of the Bush Administration, similar to the investigations of Richard Nixon. In contrast to Feinstein, he argues “the question of whether the president should be impeached (or, less severely, censured) remains premature. More important, it is essential that the Senate vote—hopefully before the November elections, and with overwhelming support from both parties—to undertake a full investigation of the conduct of the presidency of George W. Bush, along the lines of the Senate Watergate Committee’s investigation during the presidency of Richard M. Nixon.”

Most of what we have learned about the reality of this administration—and the disconcerting mind-set and decision-making process of President Bush himself—has come not from the White House or the Pentagon or the Department of Homeland Security or the Treasury Department, but from insider accounts by disaffected members of the administration after their departure, and from distinguished journalists, and, in the case of a skeletal but hugely significant body of information, from a special prosecutor. And also, of late, from an aide-de-camp to the British prime minister. Almost invariably, their accounts have revealed what the president and those serving him have deliberately concealed—torture at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo, and its apparent authorization by presidential fiat; wholesale N.S.A. domestic wiretapping in contravention of specific prohibitive law; brutal interrogations of prisoners shipped secretly by the C.I.A. and U.S. military to Third World gulags; the nonexistence of W.M.D. in Iraq; the role of Karl Rove and Dick Cheney’s chief of staff in divulging the name of an undercover C.I.A. employee; the non-role of Saddam Hussein and Iraq in the events of 9/11; the death by friendly fire of Pat Tillman (whose mother, Mary Tillman, told journalist Robert Scheer, “The administration tried to attach themselves to his virtue and then they wiped their feet with him”); the lack of a coherent post-invasion strategy for Iraq, with all its consequent tragedy and loss and destabilizing global implications; the failure to coordinate economic policies for America’s long-term financial health (including the misguided tax cuts) with funding a war that will drive the national debt above a trillion dollars; the assurance of Wolfowitz (since rewarded by Bush with the presidency of the World Bank) that Iraq’s oil reserves would pay for the war within two to three years after the invasion; and Bush’s like-minded confidence, expressed to Blair, that serious internecine strife in Iraq would be unlikely after the invasion.

But most grievous and momentous is the willingness—even enthusiasm, confirmed by the so-called Downing Street Memo and the contemporaneous notes of the chief foreign-policy adviser to British prime minister Tony Blair—to invent almost any justification for going to war in Iraq (including sending up an American U-2 plane painted with U.N. markings to be deliberately shot down by Saddam Hussein’s air force, a plan hatched while the president, the vice president, and Blair insisted to the world that war would be initiated “only as a last resort”). Attending the meeting between Bush and Blair where such duplicity was discussed unabashedly (”intelligence and facts” would be jiggered as necessary and “fixed around the policy,” wrote the dutiful aide to the prime minister) were Ms. Rice, then national-security adviser to the president, and Andrew Card, the recently departed White House chief of staff.

Bernstein notes how the Bush Adminstration has avoided being held accountable:

One of the similarities between Bush and Nixon is their contempt, lip service aside, for the legitimate oversight of Congress. In seeking to cover up his secret, illegal activities, Nixon made broad claims of executive privilege, many on grounds of national security, the most important of which were rejected by the courts.

Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and their colleagues have successfully evaded accountability for the dire consequences of their policies through a tried-and-true strategy that has exploited a situation in which the press (understandably) has no subpoena power and is held in ill repute (understandably) by so many Americans, and the Republican-controlled Congress can be counted on to ignore its responsibility to compel relevant, forthright testimony and evidence—no matter how outrageous (failure to provide sufficient body armor for American soldiers, for example), mendacious, or inimical to the national interest the actions of the president and his principal aides might be.

As in Watergate, the Bush White House has, at almost every opportunity when endangered by the prospect of accountability, made the conduct of the press the issue instead of the misconduct of the president and his aides, and, with help from its Republican and conservative allies in and out of Congress, questioned the patriotism of the other party. As during the Nixon epoch, the strategy is finally wearing thin. “He’s smoking Dutch Cleanser,” said Specter when Bush’s attorney general claimed legality for the president’s secret order authorizing the wiretapping of Americans by the N.S.A.—first revealed in The New York Times in December.

While Bernstein concentrates on actions which are likley to be illegal, he also questions provides arguments as to Bush’s incompetence and asks:

Is incompetence an impeachable offense? The question is another reason to defer the fraught matter of impeachment (if deserved) in the Bush era until the ground is prepared by a proper fact-finding investigation and public hearings conducted by a sober, distinguished committee of Congress.

We have never had a presidency in which the single unifying thread that flows through its major decision-making was incompetence—stitched together with hubris and mendacity on a Nixonian scale.

Townhall: A Christian Cannot Be A Liberal

Need more evidence that the religious right, and the conservatives who pander to it, is an intellectual dead end? Townhall reprints a column originally from 2004, expressing the view that “A Christian Can Be a Christian or a Liberal, But He Can’t Be Both.”

Those who do not understand the concept of separation of church and state will not understand that opposition to use of government to impose their religious views on others is not a view in opposition to Christianity or any other religious viewpoint. It is a liberal support for separation of church and state which is necessary to guarantee freedom for all to worship (or not worship) as they prefer.

I see no contradiction between being a liberal and a Christian. Personally I have more difficulty seeing how a conservative, who claims to support the principles this country was founded on, could also be a Bush supporter.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Kerry in Boston Herald on Taxes

Family tax needs fixing: Mid-income households taking a pounding
By John F. Kerry
Monday, April 17, 2006

This time of year, millions of middle-class families are feeling the pinch of the family tax as they fill out their taxes.
Teachers, police officers, nurses and hard-working families with household incomes in the middle-income tax brackets will be forced to pay the Alternative Minimum Tax penalty, sometimes thousands of dollars.
Families who hoped to use a tax refund or money saved the hard way during the year for college tuition, a down payment or health-care costs will end up in the red because of the Alternative Minimum Tax which would be far more appropriately named the family tax.
But watching Congress and this White House drag their feet on a family tax fix, you would think there is nothing wrong with middle-class families taking a pounding on their taxes in an economy that already squeezes their budgets when they pay bills or fill up the car at the pump.
The problems with the AMT are nothing new. We’ve known this family tax was coming for years. Yet the same Congress which has handed out unprecedented tax cuts for the wealthy for six years running has failed to fix the family tax once and for all.
The administration’s latest budget actually subjects an additional 1.2 million Americans to the AMT.
Without congressional action, the AMT will place this undue family tax on 19 million working families in 2006 and almost 31 million families by 2010.
Massachusetts taxpayers already have the sixth heaviest AMT burden in the country.
We are at this point for three simple reasons that Washington refuses to address.
First, the AMT exemption amount has not been indexed for inflation.
Second, the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts lowered the regular income tax rates without making the appropriate adjustments to the AMT.
Third, capital gains rates have been drastically reduced, but they still are not calculated as part of AMT income.
Like the AMT itself, these oversights may seem mundane, but the results are devastating. Families with incomes under $200,000 will be hurt more than people making over $1 million a year.
The AMT unfairly punishes families with children. The more children in a family, the lower the income necessary to trigger the AMT. For example, if no action is taken in 2006, a family with four children with an income of $58,500 would be subject to the AMT while a family with one child would have to make $72,000 to be affected. By 2010, 89 percent of the families with two or more children with income between $75,000 and $100,000 will be impacted by the AMT.
Some families are already suffering this penalty.
The Klaassens of Marquette, Kan., were forced to pay over $1,000 in AMT penalties because they claimed exemptions for their 10 children.
This family tax has been hidden from the American people for too long. Washington so far seems content to continue collecting the extra revenue at the expense of middle-class families who desperately need the money in their pockets. The wealthiest 1 percent of Americans get a permanent tax cut they don’t really need, and more than 1 million middle-class families get an unfair, unintended tax they can’t afford. That’s just plain wrong.
Americans need to change this unfair tax policy.
The AMT was created because, back in January 1969, Americans learned that 155 taxpayers with incomes exceeding $200,000 had somehow paid no federal income tax. Congress received more letters of protest about these 155 wealthy individuals than about the Vietnam War, and Washington responded with the AMT.
Now the AMT is outdated - instead of 155 Americans getting an unfair tax break, millions of Americans are getting an incredibly raw deal.
It’s time for Americans to once again mobilize and force Congress to restore some fundamental fairness in our tax code.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Republicans Stand to Lose By Following Advice of the Right Blogosphere

Texas Rainmaker has an unrealistic view of public opinion as they believe It’s Republicans’ Game to Lose. They misinterpret three statistics, and leave out key details of the polls. They note that an Ipsos Poll reports that 58% of the people think that the tax system is unjust. Considering that the tax system has been under the control of Republicans, and Republicans have rewritten it to transfer wealth to the ultra-wealthy, this issue certainly won’t help Republicans. Texas Rainmaker leaves out key poll findings such as that “A majority of people said the middle class, the self-employed and small businesses pay too much in taxes, the poll found. And they think those with high incomes and big businesses don’t pay enough.” In other words, a majority finds that the people whose taxes the Republicans want to cut the most are already not paying enough.

Their next statistic is that the Pew Research center found that “96% of the public says they believe in God or some form of Supreme Being” and extrapolate from this to believe that abortion and gay marriage will be big losers for Democrats. The problem with this logic is that of the 96% who believe in a Supreme Being, not all believe in the Judeo-Christian God. Of those who do, most do not follow the fundamentalist views of the religious right, or support the use of government to impose religious views upon others. The Pew Research Center also found that Americans are becoming more liberal on social issues, regardless of belief in a Supreme Being. A majority supports abortion rights and civil unions. Even opposition to gay marriage has fallen from 64% in February 2004 to 51% earlier this year.

Finally they think that immigration will work for them. Most pundits still find the political ramifications of immigration murky, but there is far more reason to believe the issue will divide Republicans and cost them votes than help them.

Republicans may very well hold on to Congress this fall due to the tremendous advantages given to incumbents, not due to the reasons these conservatives suggest. If Republicans follow the advice of this blog and pursue a far right wing course it will continue the Republican downward spiral in the polls and lead to their loss of control in the next couple of election cycles, if not this year.

Reaction to the Post’s Coverage of the Outraged Left Blogosphere

It comes as no surprise that having a blogger featured in a front page story at the Washington Post resulted in a lot of talk in the blogosphere.

Liberal bloggers frequently commented, as I did, on the article’s dwelling on the idea of the angry left. Whiskey Bar notes that the dangerous angry people are those on the right who go around “blowing up federal buildings with truck bombs and threatening to kill judges.”

The reactions on the right were actually more interesting to read. More that one blog both questioned how those “angry left wing bloggers” can hope to ever convince anyone they are right while also linking to people like Michelle Malkin. Linking to Michelle Malkin is as good as a forfeit in the battle for credibility. Besides, while I agree many liberal bloggers do have an angry tone, I suspect that most of these do not envision the use of their blog to change the views of the world. Instead they use it for an outlet for their frustration and a means to talk with similarly minded people–a far safer outlet for frustrations than blowing up federal buildings with truck bombs and threatening to kill judges. Even their anger, and hostility towards those with opposing viewpoints, is typically mild compared to many conservative bloggers as well as most conservatives on talk radio.

There even are examples of liberal bloggers who mistakingly believe that angry rants and vulgar language are the best way to spread their beliefs, but it is senseless generalize the actions of some bloggers, left or right, to everyone with similar political views. Not being a life-long Democrat, I might think more in terms of influencing Republican and independent voters than some of the “angrier” bloggers on the left. After all, seeing how the two parties have changed in the past decade, I believe that most Republican voters, unless they support the agenda of the religious right, or personally benefit from corporate welfare, will find that their goals are better represented by Democrats than the current Republicans.

Some conservatives believe that the angriest of the liberal blogs are setting the tone for the Democratic Party. I’ve even seen comments on conservative blogs expressing worry about the influence of the liberal blogosphere, realizing that sooner or later Democrats will win control of the government and fearing a ruling party in the image of the angry left blogosphere. What they forget is that the parties differ in their relationship to the blogoshpere. The Republican Party is dominated by extremists who share the views of the most angry and paranoid (despite now being in control) elements of the right blogoshere. In contrast, the liberal blogosphere has a much wider range of viewpoints than is represented on the right, and the more angry and extreme bloggers have minimal influence on the course of the Democratic Party. John Kerry might have an ocassional post at Daily Kos, but this does mean he is being pulled to the angry extremes. In contrast, it is hoped that his explanations of his views will help more liberal bloggers understand, and reduce the gap between the Democratic Party and liberal blogosphere.

Considering Nuclear Energy

One problem I’ve had with discussions of nuclear energy is that it often seems that both sides already have their biases and then cherry pick the facts that support their argument. Achieving energy independence, and reducing emisions from coal based electric plants, are two important goals for this country. Evaluation of forms of energy, as well as global warming, must be done based upon the science and not political bias or the entire planet might become collateral damage in the Bush war on science .

Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace, writes in the New York Times that he has reevaluated nuclear eneregy:

In the early 1970s when I helped found Greenpeace, I believed that nuclear energy was synonymous with nuclear holocaust, as did most of my compatriots. That’s the conviction that inspired Greenpeace’s first voyage up the spectacular rocky northwest coast to protest the testing of U.S. hydrogen bombs in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. Thirty years on, my views have changed, and the rest of the environmental movement needs to update its views, too, because nuclear energy may just be the energy source that can save our planet from another possible disaster: catastrophic climate change.

Look at it this way: More than 600 coal-fired electric plants in the United States produce 36 percent of U.S. emissions — or nearly 10 percent of global emissions — of CO2, the primary greenhouse gas responsible for climate change. Nuclear energy is the only large-scale, cost-effective energy source that can reduce these emissions while continuing to satisfy a growing demand for power. And these days it can do so safely.

Moore looks at both the advantages and the risks of nuclear energy. I don’t know if nuclear energy is the answer, but we are much more likely to reach a reasonable answer if more people like Moore concentrate on the science rather than pursuing a political goal.

George Will on How Republicans Earned Defeat

Republicans have builit a majority by convincing various groups that they supported their goals, even when different parts of their coalition had contradictory goals. They received the votes of both the religious right, which seeks to use the power of government to impose their views on others, as well as many claiming to be libertarian opponents of big government. It is possible to pull this off when in the opposition, but when you control all three branches of government sooner or later you are going to have to tip your hand as to where you really stand.

Libertarian Republicans have been disappointed many times during the Bush years. While I don’t consider this the most significant example of opposing liberty, George Will considers the Republican position on 527’s as The GOP’s Betrayal On Speech:

If in November Republicans lose control of the House of Representatives, April 5 should be remembered as the day they demonstrated that they earned defeat. Traducing the Constitution and disgracing conservatism, they used their power for their only remaining purpose — to cling to powerIf in November Republicans lose control of the House of Representatives, April 5 should be remembered as the day they demonstrated that they earned defeat. Traducing the Constitution and disgracing conservatism, they used their power for their only remaining purpose — to cling to power.

Will should have realized long ago that the Repubicans are not the party which supports liberty. In using this as his litmus test, he believes that the only principled Republicans are the eighteen who voted against regulation of the 527’s and concludes, “On this remnant of libertarian, limited-government conservatism a future House majority can be built. The current majority forfeited its raison d’etre April 5.”

Even if there are far more important issues, and there has been evidence for quite a while that Republicans have become the party of both big government and increased government intrusion in individual’s lives, Will is correct that the main concern of Republicans is to cling to power, and that they deserve to lose control of Congress.

Joe Klein vs The Left, Continued

Katrina vanden Heuvel responds to Joe Klein’s description of the Nation as he distinguished between liberals he likes and liberals he doesn’t (labeled the far left):

Since when is it anti-American to believe that American foreign policy ought to be consistent with international law, that the use of military force should be limited to legitimate self-defense or sanctioned by international organizations, that American foreign policy should be democratically accountable and guided by American republican principles, that the United States should not only oppose empires but eschew imperial policies, that wherever possible the United States should act like a good neighbor in trying to work with other nations to solve common problems, and that the United States should promote the advancement of human rights, shared prosperity, and ecological sustainability?

Many of the writers at The Nation opposed the Iraq war not because they hate America but because they understood that Iraq posed no threat to the United States or to regional security and that a crusade to remake the Middle East would be resisted by the great majority of people in the Middle East and would more likely create chaos and more terrorism that it would advance the cause of democracy. Klein seems to be trying to score cheap political points by dismissing the left so as to establish his own hawkish centrist credentials. Or perhaps he understands America less than he would like his readers to believe because he is uncomfortable with the American tradition of principled dissent and with the The Nation’s faith in the common sense of the American public as a source of democratic accountability.

Just One of the Guys

Bush’s political handlers portray his as just one of the guys. AP reports on his income and taxes: “President Bush and his wife, Laura, reported adjusted gross income of $735,180 for last year and paid $187,768 in federal taxes, according to his return.” That’s nothing compared to Cheney. “Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne, made $8.82 million and are looking for a refund of about $1.9 million.”

Do these sound like the kind of guys you typically go out for a beer with. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with having a high income , but when they portray John Kerry as a rich elitist and Bush as one of the guys this is another example of Bush Administration misinformation.

Times Realizes This Was a Bad Leak

The New York Times wins the battle of describing the leak. The Washington Post displayed their turn to the right in a recent editorial entitled A Good Leak. They argued that the Bush administration’s declassification of material on Iraq represented a good leak as it made his position clear. Needless to say, this was met by considerable criticism.

The New York Times explains why this was A Bad Leak, noting that rather than releasing meaningful information, “He permitted a leak of cherry-picked portions of the report.” They refute the Washington Posts arguments by noting, “this president has never shown the slightest interest in disclosure, except when it suits his political purposes. He has run one of the most secretive administrations in American history, consistently withholding information and vital documents not just from the public, but also from Congress.”

They complain that “the version of the facts that Mr. Libby was authorized to divulge was so distorted that it seems more like disinformation than any sincere attempt to inform the public. This fits the pattern of Mr. Bush’s original sales pitch on the Iraq war — hyping the intelligence that bolstered his case and suppressing the intelligence that undercut it.”