Monday, July 31, 2006

John Kerry Reacts to Bush Economic Remarks: "Nothing More Than a One- Note Empty Promise"

Bush attempted to use a visit to south Florida on Monday to focus on his domestic agenda by giving a speech on the economy. In the speech he was "touting free trade, low taxes and his vision for new immigration laws as cornerstones of a strong economy."

That message has taken on new urgency for the White House as economic growth slows and high gasoline prices sap public satisfaction with Bush administration management of the economy. It came less than 100 days before congressional elections that Democrats hope will catapult them back into power on Capitol Hill.

John Kerry, the Ranking Member of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, released the following statement response to President Bush's remarks on the economy and small businesses in Miami:

"President Bush's Miami photo op is nothing more than a one- note empty promise. He says he wants to 'strengthen the small- business sector' in this country, but his only policy is cutting taxes for the rich. The result? The Bush Administration is balancing the record deficits on the backs of small business owners. America's entrepreneurs need more than lip service, they need Washington to keep promises. We should take steps to reduce skyrocketing health care costs for small businesses, increase small firms' access to capital and federal contracts, and invest in training and counseling programs to ensure all entrepreneurs get the tools they need to succeed and help our economy grow."

Imus Quotes of the Day: John Kerry

John Kerry was on Imus in the Morning today to discuss his new healthcare plan that he laid out in a speech at Faneuil Hall today. Imus and Kerry discussed a myriad of issues including the crisis in the Middle East. Here's the Imus Quotes of the Day...

Imus speaks with Senator John Kerry (D) MA about the crisis in the Middle East:


Imus: "And you said that, if you were President, this Israeli/Lebanon conflict would not have happened."

Senator John Kerry: "Ah, what I said--what I was really referring to was the whole Middle East. Look, I know it stunned some people because, you know, half the country can't imagine there'll ever be peace in the Middle East, the other half can't imagine there'll ever be a Democratic President, so, it surprised people, but, the bottom line is this, ah--I'm really referring to the chaos of America's current perception in the Middle East, and ability to get things done. Did you happen to see--I don't know if you saw, Meet the Press yesterday?"

Imus: "No, I did not."

Senator John Kerry: "Well, Tim Russert, had Tom Friedman on, and I know you respect Tom Friedman, I think he's one of the best observers and one of the smartest people around. This is--this--there's a quote that Tim read to Tom, here's what he said. This is what Tom wrote last week; 'America should be galvanizing the forces of order - Europe, Russia, China, India - into a coalition against these trends. But we can't. Why? In part, it's because our president and secretary of state, although they speak with great moral clarity, have no moral authority. That's been shattered by their performance in Iraq. The world hates George Bush more than any U.S. president in my lifetime.' This is Tom Friedman speaking. 'He is radioactive - and so caught up in his own ideological bubble that he is incapable of imagining or forging alternative strategies.' Now, Tim said to him, you know, that's pretty strong language, and Tom said, it is strong, but it was meant to be strong, and he explained what happened. And, really what I'm talking about, I think a lot of us are, is that--I mean for three and a half years we weren't even involved in trying to work with our allies, Britain, France, Germany to stop Iran from getting Nuclear weapons. Three and a half years we were absent. But for a whole period of time we're not involved in the Palestinians and the West Bank trying to help them become a legitimate partner so that Hamas doesn't rise to power in an election. If you look at Egypt or Saudi Arabia, sixty percent of the population is under the age of twenty-five, fifty percent under the age of eighteen, and forty percent under the age of fourteen, they don't have jobs, they're uneducated if they go to Madras, all they learn is how to hate people and blow people up. There is such a culture of this, and I don't think this Administration, has done anything near the things that Republican presidents, and Democrat presidents have done historically to address these kinds of issues. That's what I'm saying."


Sen. John Kerry: "Well, what's happened is obviously is Hezbollah is, to a certain degree, a surrogate for Iran in this effort, and because Hezbollah is standing up to Israel and, therefore, to the United States, there is this perception. And what's terrible about it is Israel has every legitimacy in the world to be defending itself, to not have 10,000 rockets aimed at it. You know, I was once up in that Kiryat Shmona, which is this settlement up right near--It's a Kibbutz actually--up right on the border of Lebanon. And I went down into one of these shelters, which the Israeli kids had to go into periodically because of ketusha rockets coming in. That was their life, and that's been their life. In 1993, [Former Secretary of State] Warren Christopher became involved in trying to help stop Hezbollah. In 1996, we became involved trying to stop Hezbollah. Hezbollah, you know, needs to be stopped. But there are different ways of doing it. And I think while one way is obviously to take them out, and you got to do that, and I'm all for it, with special forces, with specials operations, etcetera you also need to be pursuing an alternative track that provides alternatives for people, and there's been an absence of that."

John Kerry Lays Out Health Care Plan, Calls for Universal Health Care Coverage by 2012

In a speech today at Boston's Faneuil Hall, Senator John Kerry put forth his comprehensive health care plan, which lowers the cost of and improves quality of health care, covers every child in America, and ensures that every American has access to the same type of health care that members of Congress give themselves.

Kerry’s plan will guarantee that every American has health insurance by 2012.

A fact sheet on Kerry’s plan is available here. Below are John Kerry’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

“Health Care for All Americans”
Senator John Kerry
July 31, 2006
Faneuil Hall, Boston, Massachusetts

Faneuil Hall, as you know, is more than an historic building. This birthplace of American freedom has also been a keeper of the American conscience. Here, where we gather today, abolitionists dreamed of and demanded a nation that would live out its founding ideal that all are created equal. From the fight for women’s suffrage to the fight against Fascism, from McCarthyism to civil rights to Vietnam, these walls have rung with words of honor, dissent, courage, and principle.

We strive to live up to that heritage even if we sometimes fall short. Each time I come here, I feel that obligation and that privilege.

This is the place where I began my presidential campaign—and the place where I ended it almost two years ago. But I said then that we had “to make a difference… to stand true to our best hopes and ideals.”

And since then I have returned to Faneuil Hall to speak the truth that the Iraq War was rooted in deception and waged with self-deception—that saving lives is more important than saving face—that we must offer the leadership that makes America more secure and brings our forces home from the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I have returned here also to bear witness to the ideal that dissent is not a threat to-- but the very safeguard of -- democracy—that it is right to stand up to a President who ignores the Constitution and Vice President who acts as if he had never read it—to insist that our leaders are strongest when they believe the future belongs not to fear but to freedom; and that America is strongest when we don’t just permit free speech, but we listen to it.

Last month here in the cradle of American independence, I joined you to set out a strategy to make America energy independent-- to propose specific steps for an energy revolution as far-reaching as the industrial revolution. And to oppose the procrastination, the Washington evasion and the Cheney-run secret task forces by and for big oil.

Now, today, I return to discuss health care—which is not only the great unfinished business of half a century, but a matter of fundamental moral values. I would remind those who invoke values for their own narrow political purposes that the Scriptures do not command us to “heal the sick” only if they have the money to pay for it.


John Kerry: "If Congress Won't Fix Healthcare, Then Americans Will Fix Congress"

John Kerry will deliver a speech today at noon at Faneuil Hall in Boston on healthcare. The speech will lay out Kerry's comprehensive healthcare plan, a plan that Congress and the current administration had better get on board with, because American's are wise to the fact that the healthcare crisis has "gotten worse" under the Bush administration and the Republican leadership.

It's time for a new direction, it's time we start "Getting moving on healthcare," because we're "stuck with a 20th- century healthcare system that just doesn't work for a 21st- century economy."

The truth is, the healthcare crisis "affects all of us." Not just the single mothers struggling on a limited a income, not just the elderly on Medicare, now waking up to the fact that the Bush administration lied about the Medicare Drug Plan. We're all in this boat togther. This healthcare crisis directly effects the economy. It directly affects the bottomline for businesses, big and small. It directly affect the health of all of our children -- "It matters if the kid down the block isn't immunized."

It's time to make healthcare an issue at the polls this fall. "Americans have a choice," John Kerry says in an OP/ED in the Boston Globe today, "If Congress won't fix healthcare, then Americans will fix Congress."

Kerry offered a comprehensive healthcare plan during the '04 election but, voters played to the fearmongering and forgot the issues right here at home, the issues that effect the daily lives of voters struggling to make ends meet. Let's make healthcare a priority this fall. Let's send Congress a loud message that we reject the politcs of fear and we embrace the politics of "bold solutions."

"It's time for a national commitment to a healthcare system that can be a reflection of our ambitions and not an accident of our history."

We've got a chance to take back Congress this fall. If we don't restore checks and balances, healthcare and every other issue that Democrats care about will be down the tubes for another two years. We can't continue to down this collision course of accidental politics any longer.

I'll be posting the text of John Kerry's speech today at Faneuil Hall when it's available -- in the meantime, go read his OP/ED and think hard about the values that we all know are important. Those values, those issues will matter at the polls this fall and Democrats have got to get tough on them. John Kerry is right on healthcare, he's right on the other issues as well. He's out there fighting hard to put Democrats in office all across the country. That's what leadership is all about -- Dubya & Co., could take a few lessons.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

John Kerry on Imus Tomorrow Discussing Healthcare Plan

John Kerry will be live on Imus in the Morning at tomorrow morning at 7:29 a.m. est. discussing his healthcare plan that he will be speaking on at Boston’s Faneuil Hall at noon tomorrow.

After the speech John Kerry will be sitting down at Faneuil Hall with Alan Colmes later in the day for a one on one interview about his healthcare plan.

In related news the Sunday Washington Post reported that "calls are starting to come in from shocked or angry seniors."

They have just learned that their Medicare drug plans are maxing out on early coverage and that they must now spend $2,850 from their own pockets before coverage will resume.

John Kerry saw the writing on the wall with the Medicare Drug Plan, we all did. It's time to get down to the nitty gritty and put rising healthcare costs on the top of the agenda.

Democrats Offer Local Assistance to Candidates

The Washington Post reports on efforts by Democrats to win local elections, which includes a couple of names from the Kerry campaign, Mary Beth Cahill and Michael Whouley:

Three of the Democratic Party’s top field organizers have formed a group to provide their party’s 2008 presidential nominee with road maps to victory in the dozen or so battleground states.

The effort is known as the Atlas Project and is being organized by political operatives Steve Rosenthal, Michael Whouley and Mary Beth Cahill. The group will analyze election data, interview local Democrats, and mount a polling and targeting effort to devise a comprehensive strategy to win votes in these states.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Kerry Says Democrats Can Make a More Secure Nation

Massachusetts Senator John Kerry was in Story City, Iowa on Saturday stumping for Democrat Rich Olive, who is running for the Iowa Senate District 5 seat.

(John Kerry and Rich Olive)

At the fundraising event for Rich Olive, Kerry "challenged Democrats to take back statehouses and governor's mansions across the nation in November, saying the country has become less secure under Republican control."

"The fact is, the United States of America is less secure today than we were five years ago," he said. "Less secure because North Korea has four or five times more weapons .... Iran is running amok, the Middle East -- the wheels are coming off, and Iraq is a quagmire."

Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, said "there's a better course for America," and that begins with electing Democrats in 2006.

"Who you chose for your local races is going to have a profound impact on the country as a whole," said Kerry, who was making his fourth trip to Iowa since the state's leadoff caucuses in January 2004.


Kerry: Don't Change Primary Calendar Iowa First

During his visit to Iowa yesterday, John Kerry said that the 2008 presidential primary calendar proposed by a DNC committee last week "risks complicating the nomination process."

"I'm in favor of Iowa as the first caucus and New Hampshire as the first primary," Kerry told The Des Moines Register after testifying in Iowa City at a Senate hearing on cancer research.

"Now if they stick something in between ... I think that's their choice," the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee added. "But it makes the system more complicated and probably slightly less democratic."

The Democratic National Committee will vote next month on a schedule that keeps the Iowa caucuses' leadoff role intact, but would insert a Nevada party caucus between Iowa and New Hampshire's primary. New Hampshire Democrats have threatened to push the primary earlier on the calendar if the contest's prestige appears to be in jeopardy.

Kerry stopped short of saying he would object to a final schedule that included a Nevada caucus between Iowa and New Hampshire, which the Democratic National Committee will consider when it votes on Aug. 19.

Kerry, the winner of the 2004 Iowa caucuses, was making his third trip to Iowa since the 2004 election.
Read more »

John Kerry on New Katrina Disaster Aid Report

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report addressing the federal government’s failures in getting timely disaster assistance to Gulf Coast hurricane victims. According to the Governmental Accountability Office report, "four months after Hurricane Katrina hit the region last Aug. 29, an estimated 204,000 loan applications were still waiting to be approved."

After developing a new system in January 2005 to approve disaster loans, the SBA "focused only on its historical experience and did not consider the possibility of a single or series of disasters of the magnitude of the Gulf Coast hurricanes when planning," the report said.

As a result, "SBA experienced significant backlogs and delays in processing applications," it concluded. GAO is the investigative arm of Congress.

The full report from the GAO can be viewed here.

Senator John Kerry , the top Democrat on the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship issued the following statement on the report, today:

“Here’s confirmation that in spite of all the promises made after Katrina, nothing much has changed in Washington. Tens of thousands of hurricane victims are still waiting for assistance. Two and a half months to process a disaster loan application is beyond unacceptable. People’s livelihoods are on the line, many of them are losing everything, and still they wait while the SBA gets its act together. Americans demand swift, capable response to disaster, and I will be pressing the SBA to implement the GAO’s recommendations.”

In June, John Kerry introduced legislation to improve the Small Business Administration’s Disaster Loan Program. Many of the provisions in S. 3487 were included in the comprehensive small business reauthorization package passed by the Committee yesterday. There is more information on Kerry’s proposal here.

In related news, AP News reports that a U.N. human rights panel said Friday, "The United States must better protect poor people and African-Americans in natural disasters to avoid problems like those after Hurricane Katrina."

The U.N. Human Rights Committee said poor and black Americans were "disadvantaged" after Katrina, and the U.S. should work harder to ensure that their rights "are fully taken into consideration in the reconstruction plans with regard to access to housing, education and health care."

Thursday, July 27, 2006

John Kerry Opposes Re-Nomination of John Bolton for UN Ambassador: "We Need Serious People for Serious Jobs"

The WaPo has an editorial on the re-nomination of John Bolton today, describing Bolton's "tendency to press ideological principle irrespective of pragmatic considerations," as something that "seemed likely to undermine his ability to build coalitions at the United Nations and thereby advance U.S. interests."

We see little evidence here that Mr. Bolton is good at "working multilaterally." Rather than building support at the United Nations, Mr. Bolton has more often solidified the anti-American coalition.

John Kerry issued the following statement today on his opposition to the re-nomination of John Bolton:

“John Bolton’s still the wrong man, for the wrong job, at the wrong time.

“Mr. Bolton has had nearly a year to prove the Senate wrong since his recess appointment. Instead, he has proven that the Senate was right to deny his confirmation last summer. He has helped isolate the United States, made it harder to pursue our interests, and failed to get results on our critical security issues.

“The world is literally blowing up around us, and "we need serious people for serious jobs. I don’t care if he is the smartest kid in the class. I don’t care if he is the loudest kid on the block. I care that he doesn’t get results at a time when we need them. He couldn’t get the UN to enforce Resolution 1559 to disarm Hezbollah. He failed to get Russia, China, and even our ally South Korea on board at the Security Council to impose tough sanctions on North Korea. And he has shown no leadership to stop the genocide in Darfur. We need an Ambassador at the United Nations who knows how to build coalitions and can get results.

“We need someone at the UN who can achieve real results, not just talk big; someone who inspires confidence in all of us, not just confidence in neoconservative circles. This is a time that demands statesmanship in this post.”

ThinkProgress outlines "Why Bolton’s First Year Was A Failure."

Phillip Butler: "A Former POW Speaks Out" About John Kerry

Doctor Phillip Butler, a former POW, speaks out about the lies and partisan attacks on John Kerry from the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.” The 2004 election may be over but the partisan attacks continue...

A Former POW Speaks Out
Phillip Butler | July 26, 2006

As a former prisoner of war in Vietnam, I read with great sadness a recent article authored by retired Air Force Col. George E. "Bud" Day, and released from the “Vietnam Veterans Legacy Foundation,” a group that was formerly known as the infamous “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.” They may have changed their name, but they have not changed their tradition of lies and distorted facts.

In the press release, Col. Day resumes the vicious partisan attacks his group honed against Sen. John Kerry in 2004, an attack which our fellow POW, Senator John McCain aptly described as “dishonest and dishonorable.” Day claims that he speaks “for a vast majority of Vietnam veterans who believe he [Kerry] betrayed them 35 years ago” and that “…John Kerry's deliberate betrayal of his countrymen … alone compelled many POWs and most Vietnam veterans, Swift Boaters included, to stand firm against this poser, this strutting would-be hero and turncoat."

I was captured on April 20th of 1965 and released on February 12th of 1973, making me the 8the longest-held POW in Vietnam. During one period, November of 1969 till May of 1972, I was incarcerated in a camp we named “Camp Unity,” part of the “Hanoi Hilton,” with hundreds of my fellow POWs. During this time I shared a 40-man cell with Ken Cordier, and in the adjoining cell were Paul Galanti and Jim Warner who recently were active in the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth negative campaign. Contrary to statements by these men, none of us ever heard about John Kerry's testimony or statements against the Vietnam War while we were in captivity. I remember. I was there.

The great majority of us were mentally, emotionally, and physically tortured by our Vietnamese captors. We often suffered from malnutrition, diseases and isolation. Many of our comrades died in captivity under these conditions. Our experiences there, even in the best of times, was stressful and no one who was ever held captive as a POW in Vietnam will ever completely put the experience behind them.

But what sustained all of us during those terrible years was our supportive brotherhood, because every POW relied on his brothers for survival -- a bond that transcended any differences in race, rank or politics. Just before our repatriation in 1973 we formed a fraternal group, “The Fourth Allied POW Wing,” also known as “Nam POWs.” It was to be an apolitical and fraternal organization of those who “returned with honor.”

And it wasn't until 2004 that the fraternal bond was broken and many former POWs were stunned and sickened to see a small number of our former cellmates enter the political fray with the negative Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign against John Kerry. Regretfully, many of us remained silent as a multi-million dollar political smear campaign diminished and denigrated Kerry's service in Vietnam.

Day, Cordier, Galanti and Warner have claimed to speak for most veterans and POWs. But they only spoke for a small group of ultra right-wing ideologues. In his renewed attacks on Senator Kerry this week, Day recycles the same personal vitriol and falsehoods about Kerry's “betrayal” of our fellow veterans that his organization trademarked in 2004.

The real truth is John Kerry is a Vietnam Veteran who fought heroically and was awarded a Silver Star and Purple Heart for his service. But he is also courageous for coming home and telling Americans the truth about the Vietnam War. John Kerry has continued to honorably and selflessly serve his country to this day. And I am proud, as a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, as a former Navy Light Attack carrier pilot, as a retired Navy Commander, as a Vietnam veteran and former POW, to call Senator John Kerry a Vietnam brother whom I honor and respect.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

John Kerry Slams Bush on Handling of Mideast Conflict: “The President Has Been So Absent on Diplomacy”

John Kerry was in Detroit today stumping for Gov. Jennifer Granholm's re-election campaign. While on the campaign trail with Granholm, Kerry took some time to take a jab or two at the Bush administration for its "lack of leadership in the Israeli-Lebanon conflict."

"If I was president, this wouldn't have happened," said Kerry during a noon stop at Honest John's bar and grill in Detroit's Cass Corridor.

Bush has been so concentrated on the war in Iraq that other Middle East tension arose as a result, he said.

"The president has been so absent on diplomacy when it comes to issues affecting the Middle East," Kerry said. "We're going to have a lot of ground to make up (in 2008) because of it."

Detroit News writer Valerie Olander, made certain to note the "narrow margin" of the Bush win in 2004 and speculated that Kerry "plans to seek the Democratic nomination for the presidency in 2008." Kerry has been adamant that he won't discuss plans for '08 until after the '06 mid-term elections, but it's always great to see some media speculation leaning toward the "run John run" message.

The fighting between Israel and Lebanon reached 12th day mark today. Israel has begun a ground invasion and AP reports that the Saudis have asked Bush to "intervene in Mideast." They are "sending tanks and troops across the border as thousands of Lebanese have fled to escape the fighting."

Israel began a ground invasion, sending tanks and troops across the border as thousands of Lebanese have fled to escape the fighting.

Hezbollah guerillas should have been targeted with other terrorist organizations, such as al-Qaida and the Taliban, which operate in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Kerry said. However, Bush, has focused military strength on Iraq.

"This is about American security and Bush has failed. He has made it so much worse because of his lack of reality in going into Iraq.…We have to destroy Hezbollah," he said.

Kerry Slams Pace of New Orleans Recovery

John Kerry made his third visit to the hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans area on Friday where he was the keynote speaker at the 14th annual convention of the National Black Chamber of Commerce. While in New Orleans, the New Orleans Picayune reports that Kerry said "the government's role in the recovery of hurricane-battered New Orleans is shockingly inadequate."

"Too much of New Orleans looks like it's being treated like a Third World nation," Kerry said. "This is the United States of America."

Kerry also noted that the White House "has not done enough to call upon the nation's spirit of charity."

For example, he said, the White House could create a domestic Peace Corps to help send more volunteers to the Gulf Coast.

"If we can spend billions and stay the course in Iraq, we can spend billions to stay the course right here in New Orleans," Kerry said.

And speaking of Iraq... "Stay the Course" isn't working - nor is the new security plan for Iraq...

The last time President Bush met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, White House officials touted a new security plan for Baghdad as one of the centerpieces of Iraq's fledgling national unity government.

Five weeks later, even the White House concedes that the plan has not worked as hoped: Car bombs, hidden explosives and ambushes by gunmen have killed scores of Iraqis in the capital.

What can we say: Kerry was right about Iraq and he's right about Katrina recovery efforts in New Orleans and the Gulf area.

Friday, July 21, 2006

John Kerry Smacks Down Rush Limbaugh’s Comments on Israel

Rush Limbaugh, the Viagra popping shock jock of the right wing, push the concept on air today that "Liberals, have hated Israel for the longest time and want to destroy it…"

Not so, says John Kerry who issued a quick smack down on Limbaugh's ridiculous and outrageous comments:

“Rush Limbaugh’s ignorance and willingness to divide Americans knows no bounds. His latest statement about Israel is beyond offensive to all of us who have fought to protect Israel in the face of enemies committed to its destruction.

Rush Limbaugh needs to pick up a history book instead of a donut. It was a Democratic president who first recognized the State of Israel. It was a Democratic President who first sold Israel defensive weapons. And it was a Democratic President who first sold Israel offensive weapons.

The people of Israel and the Jewish community don’t need Rush Limbaugh to tell them who stands with them, and no one has time for right wing trying to score cheap political points while Israel fights to defend its very existence.”

John Kerry Talks Business at National Black Chamber of Commerce in New Orleans

John Kerry was in New Orleans today to address the National Black Chamber of Commerce. The visit was Kerry's third visit to Louisiana since Hurricane Katrina, and his second visit to New Orleans. Kerry is the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship.

More than 400 business leaders from more than 30 states and several countries attended the conference, which was originally slated to be held in Atlanta and moved to New Orleans to help with the city's rebuilding efforts.

Kerry told Chamber members at a hotel Friday that access to capital funds remains one of the top obstacles to starting and building a small business, particularly for minorities.

In New Orleans and other devastated communities along the Gulf Coast, local and small business owners should be given first shot at federal contracts for recovery, along with bridge loans, he said.

"This is a matter of urgency, and it's a matter of common sense," Kerry said, noting that roughly 125,000 small to medium businesses along the Gulf Coast were disrupted by last year's storms.

Before addressing the Chamber, Kerry told reporters that he's disappointed so much of the city is still at a standstill and that piles of storm debris litter sidewalks.

"You still have such a low percentage of fundamental services," he said. "In order to make it possible for people to move back, you've got to clean up and you've got to have fundamental services."

Senator Mary Landrieu, D-La., who is also a member of the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship, joined John Kerry at the National Black Chamber of Commerce conference.

Barack Obama of Illinois, was also in New Orleans today, on his first visit to the area, since Hurricane Katrina.

The Text of John Kerry's speech is available here.

Senate Passes Kerry Crack-Down on Child Internet Pornography

The Senate passed legislation on Thursday to close the loopholes in the current child Internet pornography laws that John Kerry has been pushing for since last December. Kerry succeeded in including “Masha’s Law” in the Adam Walsh Child Protection Act, which the president is expected to sign into law on July 27, the 25th anniversary of young Adam Walsh’s tragic murder.

Kerry was inspired to write “Masha’s Law” after hearing the story of Masha Allen. Kerry and Masha unveiled the legislation together at the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children in January.

Now 13, Masha was adopted from a Russian orphanage at age five by a man who began sexually abusing her the night she arrived. He has since been found guilty of 11 counts of child sexual abuse, but Masha’s images - hundreds of them - are on the Internet and being downloaded around the world. In fact, half of all identified of child pornographers have downloaded pictures of Masha. Yet this courageous teenager tells her story to raise awareness so others are spared her unspeakable horror.

“It’s an absolute outrage that the penalty for downloading songs illegally off the Internet is three times the penalty for downloading disgusting images of children,” said John Kerry. “For thousands who have suffered abuse, the knowledge that such photographs are still out there is a nagging reminder of the horrors they have endured. For these despicable criminals, it is a financial incentive to shatter more lives by taking and selling more exploitative photos. The Senate recognized the urgent need for this law and came together to do everything we can to end the disgrace of child pornography.”

“Masha has shown courage beyond her years. As a father, I am grateful for her brave efforts to shine a light on the problem of child pornography,” Kerry added.

Masha’s Law will dramatically increase penalties for anyone who downloads child pornography off the Internet, raising the civil penalties from $50,000 to $150,000 – the equivalent of illegally downloading songs from the Internet. And, it will fix the law to allow victims ages 18 or older to recover damages from those who downloaded images of them taken while they were children.

Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) is a co-sponsor of the legislation.

Kerry, Obama Call on FCC to Address Media Ownership Diversity

Senators John Kerry and Barack Obama called on the FCC, yesterday to immediately address the issues of minority, women and small business media ownership before taking up a second review of wider media ownership rules.

In June 2004, the FCC issued a public notice seeking comment on ways to increase the number of minorities, women and small businesses who own media outlets. There has been no movement on this proceeding since. Senator Kerry and Senator Bill Nelson (D- Fla.) were successful in attaching an amendment to the massive telecommunications reform bill recently considered by the Senate Commerce Committee requiring the FCC to move forward with its proceeding to expand media ownership diversity.

In a letter to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, Kerry and Obama requested that the agency address the issue now and not wait for the telecommunications bill to become law.

"We urge prompt completion of the proceeding and...urge you to complete the proceeding before consideration of broader media consolidation issues begins in earnest," Kerry and Obama wrote. "The goals of promoting minority, women, and small business ownership in the communications industry are set forth in the Communications Act of 1934. ...Ensuring that such directives are accomplished is important to achieving a diverse media, particularly in an era of increased media concentration."

"Two years ago the FCC publicly committed itself to increasing minority, women and small business ownership, but they haven't moved an inch," said Kerry, top Democrat on the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship and member of the Commerce Committee. "Further delay won't level the playing field for minority, women and small businesses trying to compete in the media industry. The diverse voices in our country should be in the game, not left on the sidelines."

You can read the letter here in PDF.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

John Kerry on Bush Stem Cell Veto: "This Wasn’t a Pro-life Veto"

Bush vetoed the stem cell research bill today, exercising the veto for the first time in 6 years.

John Kerry issued the following statement in response to Bush's veto:

“This wasn’t a pro-life veto. This was a political veto, and I believe Americans will veto this President’s narrow political agenda in November.

“Honoring the sanctity of human life means giving hope to the 100 million Americans suffering today from illnesses that stem-cell research may one day help cure, not vetoing hope. Instead, because of politics, more than 3,000 Americans will continue to die every day from diseases that might one day be treatable because of stem-cell therapy. We can support our scientists, help the sick, and ensure that our legal and ethical boundaries continue to reflect our unshakable sense of human dignity and the value of human life. Today President Bush failed that test. This was not a simple decision, but it shouldn’t have been a close call, let alone the wrong call.

“Instead of vetoing runaway spending or cuts in medical services for the poorest Americans, the president has chosen to veto the promise of groundbreaking research. On this issue President Bush has said one thing and done another. That’s not leadership, it’s playing politics with people’s lives, and it’s unacceptable.”

ThinkProgress has video of Bush's "spare parts" statement here.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

John Kerry Pens OP/ED on Stem Cell Research

As the stem cell nears passage John Kerry wrote an OP/ED in the Portsmouth Herald today on stem cell research:

I’ll never forget almost two years ago standing in Winnacunnet High School’s gymnasium in Hampton -- talking with people from across New Hampshire who believed in the promise of stem cell research to find cures and save lives. Many in wheelchairs, many who had lost loved ones to disease, and many who knew a cure wouldn't come in time for them but could save others wanted leadership that fought for them back in Washington.

One woman stood up, her frail body shaking, and pleaded for her government to embrace stem-cell research. It was the moral clarity of her message that will stay with me forever. "It's too late for me," she said, "but we need to do this for those who still have hope."

I have not forgotten the look in her eyes, or my promise to her and so many others.

That's why I am so troubled that the president's political adviser, Karl Rove, has announced that President Bush is threatening to use the veto pen for the first time in his presidency to strike down a stem-cell research bill that offers hope to millions of Americans suffering from devastating illnesses.

President Bush has signed 1,163 bills into law without vetoing a single one of them. A veto now would send a message to all Americans that, on crucial issues, our differences are greater than our shared convictions. It would tell the world that America no longer wants to be the country that pushes the envelope of scientific knowledge and discovery.

Congress has taken the politics out of stem-cell research. It's time the White House does, too.

What a tragedy it would be if the first veto of Bush's presidency were used to make a political wedge of something that Washington and the rest of America overwhelmingly support - regardless of their political party - and a promise that offers hope to millions and could put American on the path to leading the world in the discovery of cures.

The issue of stem-cell research is deeply personal and raises profound moral questions. But people of goodwill and good sense can resolve these complex ethical issues without stopping lifesaving research. Growing numbers of conservatives have looked at the scientific facts and searched their own consciences in realizing that opposing this groundbreaking research isn't a "pro-life policy," that an ethical consensus can be found to ban human cloning while protecting stem-cell research. The House of Representatives has passed bipartisan legislation, and as early as this week the Senate is poised to pass groundbreaking stem-cell legislation, with the support of Republicans like John McCain, R-Ariz., Bill Frist, R-Tenn., Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Nancy Reagan.

The stakes couldn't be higher. Right now, more than 100 million Americans – more than 600,000 right here in New Hampshire – suffer from illnesses that may one day be treated or cured with stem-cell therapy. Stem cells could replace damaged heart cells or cells destroyed by cancer, offering a new lease on life to those with a diagnosis that once came with a death sentence. Research has the potential to slow the loss of a grandmother's memory, calm the hand of an uncle with Parkinson's, save a child from a lifetime of daily insulin shots or permanently lift a best friend from a wheelchair.

Some of the most pioneering cures and treatments are now right at our fingertips, but because of politics they could remain beyond reach. Every day we wait, more than 3,000 Americans die from diseases that may someday be treatable because of stem-cell research. Instead of facing the facts, this Administration seems prepared to continue arguing that supporting stem cell research gives the American people false hope. Imagine if we’d told researchers studying polio that they were creating false hope. Imagine if we’d told those working to eradicate small pox that they were creating false hope. It’s unthinkable.

Americans have been presented with a false choice between the sanctity of human life and the scientific knowledge that can save it. The president's veto rests on the false assumption that we have to choose between our dreams and our principles. We can have both.

We can support our scientists, help the sick and ensure that our legal and ethical boundaries reflect our unshakable sense of human dignity.

I’ll never forget that woman who told me ‘it was too late for her’, but not too late for millions of others. Nearly two years later, it's still not too late for this President to change his mind before tying the hands of doctors and ethicists with a veto. It's not too late to give millions of Americans what they want most of all: hope.

Kerry Intern's Presence Puts a Face in the Stem Cell Debate

The Senate is in the midst of a deep debate on stem cell research, and although it appears that the Senate bill could pass, Bush has vowed to do something he has never done in "six years: veto a bill." Bush remains unwilling to deviate from his policy set in August 2001, "restricting federal funding for stem cell research."

This morning as John Kerry took the Senate floor to speak on his support for stem cell research, he was joined by an intern from his D.C. office, Beth Kolbe. Beth is a "Paralympic athlete who was paralyzed in a car accident at age 14." The Boston Globe reported today on Beth's opportunity as a Senate intern to have an "impact on public policy."

Interns on Capitol Hill rarely get a chance to participate in Senate debates, much less have an impact on public policy. But when Beth Kolbe heard that the Senate would be debating stem cell research this week, the 20-year-old quadriplegic Harvard student knew she had to be there.

So she approached her boss -- Senator John F. Kerry -- at his intern lunch on Wednesday.

"I asked him if I could be on the floor with him," Kolbe said. "I hope that as the senators are voting they can see a face that reminds them of what they're actually voting for."

A Paralympic athlete who was paralyzed in a car accident at age 14, Kolbe will join Kerry today as he speaks in support of a bill that would allow federal funding for new lines of stem cells made from discarded embryos from fertility clinics. Kolbe says such research may eventually help heal the injury to her spinal cord.

"Theoretically, I'd be able to walk again," she said in an interview.

An Ohio native, Kolbe scored a paid internship at Kerry's Washington office for the summer, where she helps research health issues.

She saw an opening to discuss stem cell policy at the intern lunch.

"I didn't know if he would be speaking at that point, but I knew the bills were coming up and I was wondering if I would be able to be on the floor," Kolbe recalled. She popped the question to the senator, who was "more than happy" to have her.

"If you ever need to be reminded of why it's morally right to lift the ban on stem cell research, just listen to Beth," Kerry said in a statement. "She's more eloquent on this subject than any lobbyist or member of Congress."

At Harvard, Kolbe studies biology and public health, but she splits her time between the lecture hall and the swimming pool, where she practices her skills as one of the world's top disabled aquatic athletes.

She started swimming during physical therapy sessions after her car accident and soon began competing in state and national tournaments. Last year, she picked up a bronze medal at the Paralympic World Cup. Today, she is ranked fourth in the world in the 200 meter freestyle by the International Paralympics Committee, and she hopes to qualify for the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing.

"She's not someone who is only focused on the cure -- she's very much living her life today," said her mother, Cindy Kolbe, from the family's home in Tiffin, Ohio. "I think we're all hoping that stem cell research will offer her more options in the future, but in the meantime, she's making the most of everything she's had."

Beth Kolbe says she hopes to attend law school and work as an advocate for people with disabilities. Her mother, for "She's someone who will get noticed, not because of her disability," Cindy Kolbe said.

Representative James R. Langevin, a Rhode Island Democrat also interviewed for the Boston Globe story, "is the only quadriplegic member of Congress." He said stem cell research "is really all about people. Putting a human face on this research is vitally important."

Sunday, July 16, 2006

John Kerry Was Right: Iraq in Civil War

John Kerry was right in early April when he said in an OP/ED in the NY Times, "We are now in the third war in Iraq in as many years."

The UK's Daily Telegraph reports, "The battle lines of a full-scale civil war in Iraq have been drawn in Baghdad."

Highway 60 has become one of the bloodiest fronts in the war between Sunni and Shia. Known to its frightened inhabitants as the "street of death", the road in the south-east of the capital is a symbol of the sectarian violence that is pushing the country ever closer to the abyss...

The worsening security crisis has left a growing sense of dread among the new Iraqi government and the American-led coalition forces, with the United States ambassador claiming last week that sectarian violence was now a greater threat to the country's future than the three-year insurgency...

As Iraqi security forces and the US military are accused of turning a blind eye to the slaughter, observers fear that the country has reached a third, even more intractable, phase in the recent conflict, beyond insurgency and beyond even combat between organised armed groups.

"What we're now seeing has no shape whatever," a Western diplomat said. "It's just everyone fighting everyone. Anarchy."

When we will put an end to the "stay the course" madness? We had the opportunity to set a timeline to withdraw from Iraq, instead of heeding Kerry's warning months ago, Republican's played politics with Iraq, and the lives of our our troops.

Once again it appears that the "Republican attack dogs have some explaining to do and our troops deserve answers."

Everyday the news from Iraq is bleaker than the day before... Today, an Iraq oil official was kidnapped, 26 died in cafe suicide bombing and the head of Iraq's Olympic Committee and more than 30 other people we abducted in a downtown Baghdad sports conference.

It's time for the Republican leadership to wake up and smell the coffee, and that goes for the Democrats, too, who are still unwilling to formulate a plan for withdrawal as well. Iraq is out of control. Our military can not fix it.

The war in Iraq, "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."

John Kerry was right, Iraq is in a civil war...
It's not our civil war...
Bring our troops home.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

John Kerry: The Difference You Are Making

John Kerry sent out a thank you email to supporters today outlining the accomplishments of the community. Incase anyone missed it, here it is:

Over the last 19 months, when you could have walked away, you dusted yourself off, got back on your feet, dug deeper, and you have fought even harder.

On the biggest issues of our time, and on the critical campaigns that will determine the outcome of this fall's national elections, no group of people has shown more resolve and provided more support than you. There's no fancy way of saying it: thank you.

Just step back and think for a moment about the impact you have had, the fights that define your convictions, and the impact you will have in November.

Someone who wants to know what our online community fights for will take a look at what you've done and they'll see something powerful.

They'll see that the hundreds of thousands of activists who called for a filibuster of the Alito nomination were right. Right about what kind of Justice he will turn out to be -- and right that we need Justices who will protect the constitutional rights of Americans.

They'll see that the nearly 300,000 people who acted in support of a deadline for withdrawing troops from Iraq and the Kerry-Feingold Amendment were right. Right to insist on a change of course in the Bush administration's failed policies and right to keep the pressure on until the future of Iraq is where it belongs -- in the hands of the Iraqi people.

They'll see that the more than a quarter of a million people who have joined Maria Cantwell and me in defending the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge acted because we had to draw a line of protection around this precious natural heritage, and we had to promote an energy policy worthy of America so we never go to war for oil.

But, in 2006, our biggest impact -- our ability to help turn the country around -- will be felt most clearly on November 7th. We're acting together to elect Democrats who will take power out of the hands of Republicans who have tolerated and excused one unfathomable Bush disaster after another -- and put it in the hands of patriots who will put our country back on track.

Our most crucial work is still ahead of us. We'll have to pour everything we've got into the last four months of these critical 2006 elections. But, today, all I'm asking you to do is stop and reflect on what we've done together already.

With your extraordinary support -- a kind of collective activity on behalf of Democratic candidates that is unprecedented in American politics -- together we have contributed or helped raise nearly $10 million for over 160 Democratic candidates, committees, and organizations.

The Democratic Party and its candidates in key races have needed your help, and you have delivered. In fact, the community has already poured more than $100,000 into each of eight critical races.

We've acted to help Bill Nelson wage his contest against Katherine Harris in Florida. When Republican Senator Ted Stevens went to Washington to threaten Maria Cantwell for refusing to let Big Oil destroy the Arctic Refuge, we made it clear that we'll never let those who stand up for what we believe in stand alone.

At a crucial point in her Illinois House race, we raised $150,000 in two days to help Iraq war hero Tammy Duckworth advance her campaign. And we've stood by Iraq veterans running in Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Colorado as well.

We've drawn attention and support to 12 Democratic challengers running in some of the closest House races in the nation. And we've weighed in to help Democratic challengers in critical Senate races, from Harold Ford in Tennessee to Sherrod Brown in Ohio to Bob Casey in Pennsylvania.

And, in addition to raising funds, we've helped candidates all across the country recruit volunteers to help their campaigns with voter contact and get-out-the-vote efforts.

When we look up on Election Day, we'll be able to say, with pride and enthusiasm, that no group has worked harder or more effectively than we have to produce the Democratic victories we need to move America forward.

You have played -- and I hope will continue to play -- the most crucial role in this endeavor. We have four months of hard work and sacrifice ahead of us and we won't stop working until we win.

Thanks so much for all of your help, energy and commitment. I'm proud of what you do, and I hope I live up to your values and convictions in the way I fight by your side.


John Kerry

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Latest Blogger on Net Neutrality–John Kerry

John Kerry has a guest blog at Save The Internet.Com. Kerry wrote:

Free and open access to the internet is something all Americans should enjoy, regardless of what financial means they’re born into or where they live. It is profoundly disappointing that the Senate is going let a handful of companies hold internet access hostage by legalizing the cherry-picking of cable service providers and new entrants. That is a dynamic that would leave some communities with inferior service, higher cable rates, and even the loss of service. Not to mention inadequate internet service — in the age of the information.

Pelosi Positioning Democrats As The Fiscally Responsible Party

The Wall Street Journal reports on an interview with Nancy Pelosi in which she promises fiscal restraint and reduction of earmarks (offering a different view on earmarks than Joe Lieberman recently provided). While Joe “earmarks are great for Connecticut” Lieberman defended earmarks in his debate with Lamont, Pelosi is critical of them. “Personally, myself, I’d get rid of all of them. None of them is worth the skepticism, the cynicism the public has… and the fiscal irresponsibility of it.”

The WSJ also reports that Pelosi “pledged that if Democrats succeed next year in rolling back President Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, the money would be used to reduce the federal deficit — not for new spending.”

Warner and Kerry

Two recent news items indirectly connect Mark Warner and John Kerry. Hotline ended a recent article on Warner with a footnote on fund raising for other Democrats. Note the last line:

A footnote: Warner’s PAC will release an estimate of the amount of money he’s raised for other Democrats this cycle — about $5M. That puts him in the ballpark of Sen. Hillary Clinton, who has raised at least $7.5 million for Democrats, Ex-Sen. John Edwards, who has raised at least $6.5 million. Everyone lags Sen. John Kerry, who has raised close to $14 million.

Hotline also reports that Warner has hired Kerry’s first campaign manager Jim Jordan to work with his Forward Together PAC.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

One Day After Kerry Puts the Bush Admin on Notice - Bush Claims to Still be Looking for Bin Laden

On Thursday, John Kerry sent a letter to John Negroponte putting the Bush administration on notice that the CIA Unit "responsible for hunting down Osama bin Laden," should be reopened immediately. The NY Times reported Monday that "[t]he unit, known as Alec Station, was disbanded late last year and its analysts reassigned within the C.I.A. Counterterrorist Center."

During Friday's traveling Bush road show in Chicago, when questioned about the CIA Unit, Bush claimed that the report that the CIA bin Laden unit was closed is 'incorrect.'

From the Bush press conference transcript:

QUESTION: But the question I have -- the question I have is, it appears that the CIA has disbanded the unit that was hunting him down. Is it no longer important to track him down?

THE PRESIDENT: It's just an incorrect story. I mean, we got a -- we got a lot of assets looking for Osama bin Laden. So whatever you want to read in that story, it's just not true, period.

Q -- you're still after him --

THE PRESIDENT: Absolutely. No ands, ifs, or buts. And in my judgment, it's just a matter of time, unless we stop looking. And we're not going to stop looking so long as I'm the President -- not only for Osama bin Laden, but anybody else who plots and plans attacks against the United States of America. We're going to stay on the offense, so long as I'm your President.

It appears we have another flip-flop from the Bush administration... Bush is looking for Osama, Bush isn't looking for Osama... Bush is looking for Osama.

Bush done dropped the ball looking for Osama when he let him slip away in Tora Bora.

John Kerry has nailed Bush on that colossal failure more than a few times including in an interview with Don Imus back in December.

Osama bin gone so long now... and Bush was nailed again - asleep at the wheel - for slipping on the search.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

John Kerry Calls for CIA's bin Laden Unit to Reopen Immediately

With Bush faced with a "world of crises," on Monday it was confirmed that the CIA closed the unit "that for a decade had the mission of hunting Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenants."

The unit, known as Alec Station, was disbanded late last year and its analysts reassigned within the C.I.A. Counterterrorist Center, the officials said.

The decision is a milestone for the agency, which formed the unit before Osama bin Laden became a household name and bolstered its ranks after the Sept. 11 attacks, when President Bush pledged to bring Mr. bin Laden to justice "dead or alive."

John Kerry sent to a letter John Negroponte, the Director of National Intelligence, today calling for the CIA's bin Laden Unit to reopen immediately:

July 6, 2006
The Honorable John D. Negroponte
Director of National Intelligence
Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Washington, DC 20511

Dear Mr. Director:

I write to express my concern over recent reports that the CIA has closed down the unit responsible for hunting down Osama bin Laden. This unit should be reconstituted immediately and given all resources necessary to finish the job of holding bin Laden accountable and preventing him from organizing or inspiring future attacks against the United States and our allies.

There is no question that since 9/11, al Qaeda has morphed into a global terrorist movement that transcends any one individual. The decision to divert resources from the crucial fight against bin Laden and al Qaeda to wage war on Iraq has made the task of eradicating this increasingly diffuse threat more difficult. We now face a long, difficult and multi-faceted struggle against global terrorism and the hateful ideology that inspires it.

I fully support efforts to adapt our response to the evolving nature of the threat, but this is not a compelling rationale for curtailing efforts to bring this mass murderer to justice. In fact, we cannot lose sight of the fact that eliminating bin Laden would still strike a key blow against al Qaeda and represent a significant step forward in the war on terror. Given what is at stake, our intelligence community should be given sufficient resources to both pursue bin Laden and prosecute the broader war on terror.

Moreover, disbanding the bin Laden unit sends the message to the terrorists that they can kill thousands of Americans without being held to account. Given that Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz was quoted this week as saying that “nobody has any idea” where bin Laden is, it is especially important that we send a clear message now that we have not given up the hunt. Reconstituting the bin Laden unit now would make it clear that we will never rest until he has been brought to justice.

Past failures to eliminate bin Laden at Tora Bora and in the nearly five years since 9/11 are no excuse for failing to do everything possible to find him now. The CIA’s bin Laden unit can play an important part of our effort to win the war on terror, and I urge you to revive and strengthen it as soon as possible.


John F. Kerry

Kerry Not Endorsing Lieberman in Primary, Will Back Nominee

As some Senate Dems stepped up to help out embattled Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman "as he tries to fend off an anti-Iraq war challenger in an intraparty fight," John Kerry announced yesterday that he will be support whoever the nominee is from the Connecticut primary next month. Kerry's announcement came day after a similar announcement by Senator Hillary Clinton of New York. Both Kerry and Clinton are considering a run in 2008 for president.

However, unlike Hillary Clinton, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, and the DSCC, all of whom have pledged support to Lieberman in the primary, John Kerry is "declining to choose between Lieberman and his Democratic challenger Ned Lamont," said Amy Brundage , a spokesperson for Kerry's PAC.

Brundage said the Massachusetts Democrat generally does not get involved in primaries, though Kerry has made exceptions in the past for candidates he favors. Earlier this year, he helped raise money for three Iraq war veterans who were involved in contested Democratic primaries for House seats.

Last month, Kerry endorsed Jim Webb in a race against another Democrat, Harris Miller, for the nomination for a Senate seat for Virginia. Kerry raised $32,000 for Webb via e-mailed fund-raising appeals, recorded a message for automatic calls to likely primary voters, and appeared at a Webb rally the night before the primary.

Brundage said that this year, Kerry is endorsing only candidates in contested primaries who are veterans.

"Since Kerry has made his personal mission for 2006 electing veterans to the House and Senate, he's likewise only taken sides in Democratic primaries to back candidates who are veterans," she said. "Connecticut will choose the Democratic Senate nominee, and John Kerry will support him."

The DSCC is supporting Lieberman in the primary but they have "refused to say whom the committee would support if Lamont wins the Democratic nomination." Senator Ken Salazar announced yesterday that he will back Lieberman in November's election "whether or not he wins the Democratic primary."

It's one heck of a dogfight going on in Connecticut. Joan Vennochi weighs in on "Being Joe Lieberman," and the various implications of how this could all play out.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Marine Reservist has Lucky Meeting with John Kerry

You never know when your luck is going to change. Private First Class Junior Andino of Massachusetts, found that out recently when he had a chance meeting with John Kerry on a flight from Washington, D.C. to Boston.

Andino, describes himself as "the kind of kid nothing much ever happens to." Andino, from Lynn, MA, is a Marine reservist home from Iraq, due to an injury "in the spring while on duty. He fell 10 feet from a Humvee, seriously injuring his right shoulder."

At 18, Andino had enlisted last year after graduating from North Shore Technical High School. He had wanted to be a Marine, he says, since he was 5 years old.

A little more than a week ago, he found himself explaining all this to a former Navy officer, Senator John F. Kerry.

Andino and Kerry were seatmates on a flight from Washington to Boston, during which Kerry quickly struck up a conversation.

Andino told Boston Globe Columnist Adrian Walker yesterday, "We just talked about everything. I showed him some pictures, and told him things are getting better [in Iraq]."

The conversation wasn't all about Iraq, Andino said. "I mentioned that I haven't been to a Red Sox game, ever. He called up somebody, and he asked me if I wanted to go to the Red Sox."

Andino said he is a huge baseball fan who just never had the opportunity, or the money, to go to Fenway Park.

One week later -- senators have no trouble getting tickets, apparently -- Andino was joining Kerry on a trip to Fenway Park. They sat in the owners' box last Thursday and watched the Red Sox win a thriller over the New York Mets, highlighted by a great catch by Coco Crisp.

"It was really good," Andino said. "It was a very fun time for my very first game. It really made my last two months."

Things have been tough for Andino over the course of last two months. In addition to his shoulder injury, Andino's mother passed away six weeks ago and he's been coping with that. He is home for now from Iraq, Andino is being treated at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Andino said his shoulder injury might end his active-duty military career. He is facing surgery, followed by at least six months of physical therapy. By the time he's done with all that, he'll be deactivated. He hopes to regain full range of motion, though his prognosis is uncertain.

He will, however, be able to pursue his other reason for joining the service, which was to get a college education. He said he hopes to enroll at Salem State College, and to double-major in criminal justice and business.

Andino's told Globe Columnist Adrian Walker that his impression of John Kerry was "sharply at odds from the view many people get from seeing him on television." It appears Andino had quite the first hand experience at finding out that John Kerry, a man he looks up to, is indeed the "Real Deal."

"I never thought I'd [talk to] someone I see on TV and look up to," he said. "I never thought I'd be that lucky.

"He was a very nice, down-to-earth person. He was really cool. He was just like an ordinary person, very easy to talk to."

Kerry, of course, has a longstanding empathy for veterans, dating back to his own wartime experiences in Vietnam. But Andino said the senator did not volunteer any war stories.

"We didn't really touch base on that," Andino said. "We just talked about the other thing" -- that other thing being Iraq.

Fenway Park turned out to be a perfect place for two guys, separated by two generations, to set aside the war that links them, senator and foot soldier cheering on the Sox.

"I didn't think anything like that would ever happen to me," Andino said, still incredulous. "It meant a lot to me."

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Pundits Pushing Spin on John Kerry, Hillary Clinton '08

The pundits are at it again with the spin on potential '08 candidates -- and it seems that Clintonista's are hard at work this weekend, pitting John Kerry against Hillary Clinton.

First, in a piece by AP writer Mike Glover, Glover tells us that, "Kerry faces hard road in presidential bid."

Kerry's allies acknowledge the struggle but are unwilling to give up the cause.

"Historically, the Democratic Party has tended to shoot its wounded," said former New Hampshire Democratic Chairman Joe Keefe. "John Kerry has done everything within his power to rewrite that chapter."

The Massachusetts senator has raised nearly $9 million for candidates and the party and has campaigned actively across the country...

Kerry has made three trips to Iowa. The state's caucuses launch the nominating season and Kerry's surprising victory in January 2004 propelled him to the nomination.

Former Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia wisely notes, "He has grown from the devastation of the last election. A lot of people who are reacting to Kerry are reacting to the Kerry of '04."

And, John Norris, "who managed Kerry's campaign in Iowa and ran his field operations in the general election, said candidates learn valuable lessons in a national campaign that could be put to use in a second bid. Sadly, he said, voters do not see it that way."

"That sentiment you talked about is really strong out there," Norris said. "You know, 'He's had his chance.' I think that's shortsighted."

It is shortsighted, given Kerry's continued to efforts to reach out on issues that are important to activists while Hillary continues to ignore those issues. No potential '08 candidate brings as much experience to the table as Kerry does in my opinion. Nor does any potential '08 candidate have the established netroots base that Kerry has -- a 3 million strong email list. Hillary may have scooped herself former Kerry Blogger Peter Daou, but the core Kerry supporters I know on the net won't soon be flocking to follow.

Next, the WaPo's puff piece today from James Carville and Mark J. Penn about "The Power of Hillary," is a bit over the top. There's some sad irony that Hillary, who consistently fails to reach out and or listen to party activists, is seen as having "power" by Carville and Penn, yet in the same news cycle, Kerry is said to be facing a "hard road." My take is the exact opposite -- Kerry has the "power," Hillary is facing a "hard road."

Interesting, too is the fact that Carville and Penn have come to the rescue in the wake of National Journal's Hotline piece that just pegged Kerry as Up and Clinton as down, in their "End-Of-The-Half-Year Spotlight." One can't help but wonder if the Clintonista's are busy trying to do some damage control after Hillary's disasterous showing at Take Back America.

Carville and Penn insist that "One thing we know about Clinton campaigns: Nobody gets Swift Boated." Really?? The Clinton campaigns were pre-Swiftboating. We've all seen plenty of instances since '04 that anyone can be Swiftboated -- including Hillary, in my opinion. Contrary to what Carville and Penn would like us to believe, the woman carries a lot of baggage.

Another point that Carville and Penn make is that "the difference with Hillary is the intensity of her support." They share this interesting notion...

Pundits and fundraisers and activists may be unsure of whether Hillary can get elected president, but Democratic voters, particularly Democratic women and even independent women, are thrilled with the idea.

I'm one woman who doesn't share that view. And 99.9% percent of the women I know and talk with, share the same view as I do. In fact, I hear a resounding echo of "don't run Hillary." Hillary Clinton, at this point will be a tough sell to the women voters and in my opinion, she hasn't got a snow ball's chance of picking up any conservative red states that Kerry didn't pick up in '04. It's not that women wouldn't like to see a woman president, but the consensus seems to be not now, America isn't ready for it and please, anybody but Hillary.

It's all well and good talking about '08, but some of us are wondering about '06 -- we need to take back Congress. We can go round and round on who the best choice is for '08, but the pundits who shill for the Dem party would serve the party better if they focused on the now, in my opinion. Let's worry about '08 after we regain the seats we need in the House and the Senate.