Thursday, September 28, 2006

John Kerry: 'This Bill Permits Torture'

Yesterday the House rushed through Bush's 'torture bill' and today as the Senate is in the midst of debate on the bill it is clear there is no stopping this travesty of justice. The N.Y. Times reports that "House Democrats were prevented from offering any amendments," during their debate yesterday. Where is our Democracy? Under the agreement reached by the Senate, Democrats were allowed to propose four amendments.
One, by Mr. Levin, would have adopted the approach endorsed by the Armed Services Committee and the three Republicans who resisted the Bush administration: Senators John Warner of Virginia, John McCain of Arizona, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. It failed on a 54-to-43 vote, with two Democrats, Senators Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana and Ben Nelson of Nebraska, crossing party lines.

Republicans remain confident they will hold off any changes to the 'torture bill' when the remaining amendments come up for vote today. John McCain sold out last week and the rest of the Republicans in the Senate have followed suit.

Speaking at Johns Hopkins University today on National Security, John Kerry had this to say about the 'torture bill' during his speech:
We’ve got to tell the truth about what’s happening right now – right now – in our country. We must start treating our moral authority as a national treasure that doesn’t limit our power but magnifies our influence. That seems obvious, but this Administration still doesn’t get it. Still. Right now – today -- they are trying to rush a bill through Congress that will fundamentally undermine our moral authority, put our troops at greater risk, and make our country less safe.

Let me be clear about something—something that it seems few people are willing to say. This bill permits torture. It gives the President the discretion to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions. No matter how much well-intended United States Senators would like to believe otherwise, it gives an Administration that lobbied for torture just what it wanted.

The only guarantee we have that these provisions really will prohibit torture is the word of the President. But we have seen in Iraq the consequences of simply accepting the word of this Administration. No, we cannot just accept the word of this Administration that they will not engage in torture given that everything they’ve already done and said on this most basic question has already put our troops at greater risk and undermined the very moral authority needed to win the war on terror.”

“It leaves our moral authority in tatters if the president who seems to have been for torture before he was against it is given a blank check by a Congress that would rather duck the issue and dodge the debate. It is time for the United States Senate to make clear what presidents from Harry Truman to Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton knew for certain but this Administration prefers to muddy: on the issue of torture, there is no compromise. America will not weaken the values that make us strong.

“We need to restore America’s moral authority in the world, and we do that by leading according to our best values. That’s how we need to define America, and that’s how we need to define our foreign policy.”

My sources tell me that John Kerry will be speaking on the Senate floor sometime soon after noon in opposition of the 'torture bill'. The bottom line I am told, is there were no improvements to the bill. It's a done deal. The true patriots of this country are those who stand in opposition of this bill today. Don't let anyone fool you.

UPDATE: Kerry Opposes Senate’s Failure on Torture Compromise. Listen to the audio here.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

John Kerry on Newly Declassified N.I.E. Findings on Iraq Policy and Terror

A couple of AP reporters, Katherine Shrader and Jennifer Loven, blasted Bush's assertion that the "formerly classified" NIE classified assessment of global terrorism supported the Bush administration's arguments that the "world is safer because of the war." Their headline tonight, "Iraq is 'cause celebre' for extremists," caused at least a couple of right wingnut bloggers to accuse AP of "sad commentary" and a "hatchet job." Oh my, the truth about Bush's lies hurts... don't it. AP reports:
In the bleak report, declassified and released Tuesday on Bush's orders, the nation's most veteran analysts conclude that despite serious damage to the leadership of al-Qaida, the threat from Islamic extremists has spread both in numbers and in geographic reach.

Bush and his top advisers have said the formerly classified assessment of global terrorism supported their arguments that the world is safer because of the war. But more than three pages of stark judgments warning about the spread of terrorism contrasted with the administration's glass-half-full declarations.

It appears that "virtually all assessments of the current situation" in Iraq, "were bad news." The few positive notes it contained "were couched in conditional terms, depending on successful completion of difficult tasks ahead for the U.S. and its allies."
In one example, analysts concluded that more responsive political systems in Muslim nations could erode support for jihadist extremists.

John Kerry fired off a statement about the "newly declassified" section of the secret report that Bush ordered released today. Kerry said, "The National Intelligence Estimate provides jarring confirmation that the disastrous policy in Iraq is weakening our hand in the war on terror."
"Terrorist organizations from Al Qaeda to Hezbollah are thrilled that we are bogged down in Iraq, even as the Administration misleads America with fear and sloganeering.

"No matter how much the administration pretended otherwise, as we were debating a Senate resolution to change course on Iraq, our intelligence agencies were telling this Administration that America is less safe and more endangered by terrorists because of the failed stay-the-course policies in Iraq.

"The truth is clear: Rather than being the central front in the war on terror President Bush claims, Iraq is a fuel depot for terror, fanning the flames of worldwide jihadism. Their arrogance, incompetence, and ideological blindness has left us with more terrorists in the world who want to kill Americans.

"Make no mistake, there is no way to regain lost ground in the war on terror without redeploying out of Iraq and making Iraqis stand up for Iraq. We must set a deadline to get out of Iraq and refocus on the real war on terror. Every day that this Administration refuses to face facts and change their failed approach in Iraq is another day they play into the hands of the terrorists."


John Kerry Responds to Bush-Karzai Press Conference: “We Need to Get Our Priorities in Order"

Dan Froomkin said on the WaPo today, "President Bush's all-important terror-fighting credentials are taking a bruising this week." That may be a bit of an understatement, Bush is getting a serious come-upence from all corners of the Democratic party and it's sheer pleasure to watch the
fireworks, as he tries to wriggle out of yet another slap of truth against his failed policies! Bush is deep denial but the facts speak for themself.

John Kerry responded to Bush's press conference today, with President Karzai of Afghanistan, and called on Bush to "to get our priorities in order by re-committing to the real front line in the war on terror."
“President Bush owed Americans a candid assessment of the situation in Afghanistan, but offered more misleading rhetoric. Less than five years after American troops masterfully toppled the Taliban, the disastrous diversion in Iraq has allowed these radicals the chance to rise again. Time is running out to avert disaster in the war we were right to fight after 9/11.

Funded largely by the flourishing opium trade, the resurgent Taliban continues to threaten the Karzai government, especially in southern Afghanistan. Roadside bomb attacks have more than doubled this year, and suicide attacks have more than tripled.

We have seven times more troops in the crossfire of a civil war in Iraq, which our own intelligence agencies say fuels terrorism, than we have in Afghanistan, where al Qaeda still roams free. And his words about providing money to rebuild Afghanistan ring hollow when his Administration has appropriated nearly four times more in reconstruction funds for Iraq than for Afghanistan and actually cut Afghan aid by 30% this year. The President continues to pretend that the recent plot to blow up US-bound jets justifies the war in Iraq when that plot was masterminded from Afghanistan by the same al Qaeda types who attacked us on 9/11.

We need to get our priorities in order by re-committing to the real front line in the war on terror. Just last week NATO Secretary General Scheffer again called for more troops for Afghanistan, saying “more can be done and should be done.” Where allies have pledged troops and economic assistance to Afghanistan, they must follow through. But we must lead by example by sending more troops and more aid to help combat the opium trade, which funds the Taliban and threatens to turn Afghanistan into a narco-state, and ensure that the elected government in Kabul, helped by the United States and our allies, not the Taliban, helped by al Qaeda, rebuilds the new Afghanistan.”

Under pressure from the Democrats, Bush said during the press conference that says the NIE "leak" was political, and he denied the Iraq war has "worsened terrorism."

John Negroponte, the U.S. intelligence czar released a "3-1/2 page section containing the April report's key judgments, hours after President Bush ordered it declassified to counter media reports he said had misrepresented conclusions about Iraq." Right...
"We assess that the Iraq jihad is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives," said a four-page summary of the 30-page National Intelligence Estimate, which was completed in April and leaked to several news media organizations last weekend.

The key finding of the report as released are available here.

John Kerry Responds to the Connecticut Lieberman/Lamont Iraq Debate

Yesterday, in his first major policy speech on Iraq since his loss in the primary election to Ned Lamont, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman called "for the number of United States troops embedded with Iraqi forces to be doubled or tripled, to speed up the training of the Iraqis and help hasten the withdrawal of the Americans."

Lieberman also attacked Ned Lamont yesterday, portraying Lamont's position on the "withdrawal of American troops as “giving up on Iraq.”" Things got testy between Lieberman and Lamont as the debate on Iraq heated up. Lieberman’s speech also came on the heels of the latest NIE report, which "concluded that as result of the war in Iraq, the overall terrorist threat to the United States has grown rather than diminished since the Sept. 11 attacks."
Like other Democrats around the country, Mr. Lamont seized on the report, saying it showed that the policies of the Bush administration had failed, and he said that Mr. Lieberman had continued to support them. “Trying to make a military statement there is just making the situation worse,” Mr. Lamont said on Monday during a campaign stop in New Haven, adding that Mr. Lieberman was still calling for “more of the same.”

John Kerry got into the mix today and responded to the Iraq debate between Lieberman and Lamont with a statement showing his clear support for Ned Lamont, who Kerry endorsed right after the Connecticut primary:
"Iraq has been a national security disaster and a terrible set-back in the war on terror. As Robert Kennedy said of Vietnam, there is enough blame to go around. We must all accept our responsibility to change course. We don't need misleading speeches. We don't need slogans. We need leaders who will tell it straight and stand up to this administration and say it’s time to change course. Ned Lamont is providing that kind of leadership.

Senator Lieberman and I disagree deeply and profoundly on Iraq. No matter how much Senator Lieberman pretends otherwise, as we were debating a Senate resolution to change course on Iraq, our intelligence agencies were telling this Administration that America is less safe and more endangered by terrorists because of the failed stay-the-course policies in Iraq. There's just no excuse for continuing the old line that Iraq is the central front in the war on terror when in fact we know Iraq is a recruiting poster for terrorists while the real war on terror in Afghanistan spirals downwards.

The maxim that we'll stand down as Iraqis stand up is a myth. We need a deadline for the redeployment of American troops to force Iraqis to stand up for Iraq. Aimless talk of stay the course is making things worse. Every time the Administration says we'll stay as long as it takes is an excuse for Iraqis to take as long as they want. We are stuck in a growing civil war that sets us back in the war on terror. It does a disservice to our troops to stick with a broken policy over and over again and expect different results. We need leadership with the courage to change course."

John Kerry to Speak at Johns Hopkins U and Answer Questions Live on on Thursday


On Thursday, John Kerry, answers your questions live on on national security, US foreign policy and the war on terror.

The former Democratic presidential candidate will outline the “5 Rs” that he believes will make the US a safer place, in a keynote address and forum in Washington.

Senator Kerry will be speaking at the inaugural forum of the Center on Politics & Foreign Relations at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, hosted in partnership with the Financial Times.

Join the forum live at 9am EDT (2pm BST) on Thursday, September 28, here on Sen Kerry will take questions from the floor of the CPFR center in Washington and from readers.

Robert Guttman, CPFR director, and Guy Dinmore, the FT’s US Diplomatic Correspondent, will moderate the event.

Send your questions to John Kerry now ...on national security, US foreign policy, on Afghanistan, the war on terror and on next steps in Iraq.

John Kerry: Losing Afghanistan, We're Not Adequately Fighting the War We Should Be Fighting

We've lost focus on the war on terror, and the recent release of the NIE report over the weekend by the N.Y. Times helped to make it crystal clear, that our pressence in Iraq is, to quote John Kerry "a fuel depot for terror fanning the flames of worldwide jihadism." Five years after 9/11, we are "not adequately fighting the war we should be fighting," -- the war in Afghanistan.

In an OP/ED in today's WSJ, John Kerry points out "Washington seems to have forgotten Afghanistan," however, "it is clear the Taliban and al Qaeda have not":
Losing Afghanistan
We're not adequately fighting the war we should be fighting.

Monday, September 25, 2006

As we marked the fifth anniversary of the worst attack on American soil, there was enormous discussion of the lessons of 9/11. But after the bagpipes stopped, and news coverage turned to other issues, perhaps the first lesson of that day seemed quickly forgotten: We cannot allow Afghanistan to become a terrorist stronghold and a staging ground for attacks on America.

If Washington seems to have forgotten Afghanistan, it is clear the Taliban and al Qaeda have not. Less than five years after American troops masterfully toppled the Taliban, the disastrous diversion in Iraq has allowed these radicals the chance to rise again. Time is running out to reverse an unfolding disaster in the war we were right to fight after 9/11.

Funded largely by a flourishing opium trade, a resurgent Taliban effectively controls entire swathes of southern Afghanistan. Roadside bomb attacks have more than doubled this year, and suicide attacks have more than tripled. Britain's commander in Afghanistan recently said that "the intensity and ferocity of the fighting is far greater than in Iraq on a daily basis."

Al Qaeda is again taking advantage: The recent plot to blow up U.S.-bound jets was reportedly masterminded by an al Qaeda affiliate operating from Afghanistan. The same killers who attacked us on 9/11 are still plotting against America--and they're still holed up in Afghanistan. President Karzai put it simply: "The same enemies that blew up themselves in . . . the twin towers in America are still around." And while President Bush frequently quotes Ayman al-Zawahiri, he hasn't mentioned that on the fifth anniversary of 9/11 al Qaeda's No. 2 described the situation in Afghanistan as "very good."

When did denying al Qaeda a safe haven in Afghanistan cease to be an urgent American priority? Somehow, we ended up with seven times more troops in Iraq--which even the administration now admits had nothing to do with 9/11--than in Afghanistan, where the killers still roam free. Even as the president claimed we are on the offensive against terrorists, Gen. James Jones, the U.S. commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, made an urgent plea for more troops to fight the Taliban. President Karzai has also appealed for more troops and support, and on my trip to Afghanistan this year, he stressed to me the importance of a robust American troop presence. And on Sept. 11 this year, U.S. Col. Michael Harrison noted "more troops would be welcome" in the hunt for bin Laden and his henchmen.

Quite simply, we must change course--starting with the immediate deployment of at least 5,000 additional U.S. troops. That includes more special forces to defeat the Taliban, more civil affairs troops to bolster the promising Provisional Reconstruction Teams, more infantry to prevent Taliban infiltration from Pakistan, and more clandestine intelligence units to hunt al Qaeda on both sides of the border. That also means more predator drones to provide real-time intelligence, more helicopters and transport aircraft to allow rapid deployment, and more heavy combat equipment to overpower enemy forces.

We must also redouble our reconstruction efforts. The Taliban's resurgence comes as no surprise when 40% of the population is unemployed and 90% lack regular electricity. As Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry recently said, "wherever the road ends, that's where the Taliban starts." That's why our generals are asking for more reconstruction funds to win over the local population. Yet this administration has appropriated nearly four times more in reconstruction funds for Iraq than Afghanistan--and actually cut Afghan aid by 30% this year. We need to substantially increase development aid and take advantage of the improved security provided by additional troops to ensure that reconstruction efforts reach the remote villages where the Taliban finds support. We must ensure that the elected government in Kabul, helped by the U.S.--not the Taliban, helped by al Qaeda--rebuilds Afghanistan.

This is especially important to counter the opium trade, which increased 50% last year and now funds insurgents, warlords and terrorists world-wide. We must provide alternative livelihoods for opium farmers and spur the judicial reforms necessary to prevent drug lords from acting with impunity. We cannot--and should not--do this alone. Asked which of the 26 countries in the alliance were dragging their feet in Afghanistan, Gen. Jones replied, "All of them." Where allies have pledged troops and assistance, they must follow through. But we must lead by example. That's how you win hearts and minds, and show the world the true face of America--and that's how you win the war on terror.

Finally, we must use economic leverage to ensure the Taliban no longer finds sanctuary and recruits in Pakistan. Last year we gave Pakistan only $300 million in economic support, about what we spend in a day in Iraq. We need to give more, in development funds earmarked for specific projects that help undermine radicals, and demand more in return from the Musharraf government. We cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of the past. The U.S. must not cut and run from the real front line in the war on terror. We must recommit to victory in Afghanistan.

Kerry's stance on Afghanistan is has been stressed recently in his speeches at Faneuil Hall and Howard University earlier this month and in an OP/ED in the Union Leader.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Religion & Ethics Interviews John Kerry

Kim Lawton, a correspondent for the PBS Show Religion & Ethics interviewed John Kerry last week after his "Service and Faith" speech at Pepperdine University on Monday. I've posted quite a bit of follow up on the speech, including another post earlier today, but this is a great interview worth sharing:
Watch the video with excerpts of the interview.

Here's the full transcript of the interview (the video's great but so much is left out):

Q: Why speak out on religion and politics now? Why this speech [at Pepperdine University] now?

A: Because it's not in a campaign. I'm not a candidate for anything right now, and I think it's important to assert some views about how religion is appropriate to a discussion and where it's inappropriate. And I think, to some degree, the discussion has been abused and somehow distorted some of the central themes and principles of Judeo-Christian, Muslim, whatever religion ethic. There is an universality in those, and I think we've lost a little of that.

Q: Why is this such a hard topic for politicians to deal with?

A: Well, I think it's hard for a lot of reasons. First of all, people will inherently be suspicious of anybody in public life, number one, which is why when someone asked me, "Are you sorry that you didn't give this speech during the campaign?" I said no, because during a campaign is not sort of the appropriate moment at least to begin that conversation. Secondly, it's obviously complicated, because it goes to your deepest, most personal beliefs, and faith by definition is faith. It is an article of faith that is sometimes not definable except through the faith itself, through your belief, and that can challenge people in a lot of different ways. So how it fits and where it fits and how it is tolerant of other beliefs that are different is a central clash that's gone on for a long, long time. It's not new.

Q: You mentioned you did it because you are not a candidate. When you were a candidate, what were some of the pressures that were brought to bear? Did you feel conflicting pressures from different wings of people wanting you to talk about it and not wanting you to talk about it?

A: Sure. I mean, there are always different views, but the job of somebody running is to sort through them and express your own view, and I didn't have any problem with that. What I felt very deeply was that it was inappropriate to overstep a certain line of discussion, and what I found was if you don't explain what your foundation is and you don't share with people the fullness of how you come to whatever faith it is you have or don't have, then people fill in the gaps for you, and that's even more dangerous, because it has been made, forced into the political dialogue in a lot of ways. Now, that's even tricky. It's appropriate, if you have a moral foundation, you can't leave your moral foundation over here and come to public life and say, "Hey, that's over there, this is over here." And I think that, to a degree, the debate over the last year has helped to make that clear to people. I think there was a little bit of, sort of, what's the word, there was sort of an ease with which people were kind of pushing them apart. And the discussion of recent years, I think, has forced a lot of us to realize, wait a minute, maybe there is a correctness in forcing you to think about how you don't separate them, but at the same time how you don't step over certain lines that had been drawn since this nation was founded, and that's really the discussion, if you will.

Q: Do you see a different climate now for how religion is playing a role this election season compared to two years ago?

A: I mean, I don't see any climate yet, to be honest with you, which is one of the reasons why I sort of gave the speech. I think it would be inappropriate to do in the middle of some great tension, if you will.

But I wanted to make sure we have a discussion about this, because I don't want to be put in a corner, and I don't want to be misinterpreted, and I don't want to be stereotyped, and I don't want to be broad-brush defined in a way that doesn't do respect to the thought and depth of feeling that I have about these issues and to the reality of the faith that I share. I'm not going to be pushed there, and I think it's an important discussion. I get upset when I see whole issues that help to define a good Christian or a good Jew or a good Muslim absolutely pushed aside, not even considered, not even talked about publicly, and I think we need to focus on the broader issues, and I tried to define the way that we might be able to do that in that speech.

Q: I'll finish up with more of a personal question. You talked very personally in your speech about your own spiritual journey, and you mentioned a period in the wilderness, and then you said you "suddenly and movingly" had a revelation about the connections between your faith and your work. What precipitated that, if you could say more about it?

A: I was really engaged in a very real personal journey of exploration, reading a lot, talking with people. I was going to the Senate prayer breakfasts and trying to find out, retest if you will, where am I in this? Feeling a little at loose ends is a good way to describe it. And I remembered when I was young, when I was an altar boy, when I was in my teens, I was very religious. I had a huge sense of peace and participation and emotional uplift through my participation in the Mass and the liturgy and so forth. And then I lost that. I wanted to see where that was. So I read a lot, had long conversations with people, and eventually just sort of had this light bulb go on in a very dramatic kind of way that I felt. It was tangible. I mean, you could really sense a kind of input that really surprised me. I mean, I don't know where it came from. You know, people can describe how those things come, but it really changed how I was thinking about myself and God and my relationship to the church, and answers came that hadn't been there previously.

Q: And then how did that work out for you?

A: Well, my wife and I share -- she's a very devout Catholic, and we share a very real faith. You know, I still sometimes question certain things. It's just my nature. I can sometimes be a little more linear. But the test of reason and faith is an ongoing test, but it's very real with me. The fundamentals are there, and there's a confidence about it that comes through a lot of things. It's like physicists. The more and more physicists explore the universe, the deeper and deeper many of them find their faith, because there are unanswered questions and things they see that they realize, they find an answer in a power that's greater than them and greater than any understanding they have or science has. There's a certain certainty that comes with you -- maybe it's something that happens with age, maybe it's something that comes with the spirit. But whatever it is, it's a good feeling.


  • Observers Say Kerry Has Shown Democrats a ‘Third Way’ to Discuss Religion and Public Life

  • Finding Common Ground: Senator John Kerry Describes the Unifying Potential of Faith in Public Life

  • Faith, Politics and Values

  • John Kerry at Pepperdine: “Service and Faith”
  • Observers Say Kerry Has Shown Democrats a 'Third Way' to Discuss Religion and Public Life

    John Kerry's speech, 'Service and Faith,' at Pepperdine University on Monday is still making headlines nearly a week later and some observers are saying that Kerry's speech has "shown Democrats a "third way" of discussing faith and public life that comes across as genuine and heartfelt."
    One of America's best-known politicians captivated a crowd at an evangelical college Monday with his intimate tale of being spiritually lost as a young adult — and then having a dramatic awakening.

    "Suddenly and movingly, I had a revelation about the connection between the work I was doing as a public servant and my formative teachings" as a lifelong Roman Catholic, he said.

    "Indeed, the Scriptures provided a firmer guide about values applied to life — many of the things you are wrestling with now today."

    While that kind of speech may be routine — even obligatory — for many Republican politicians, the testimony at Pepperdine University on Monday came from Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee whose hesitance to discuss his personal faith came to symbolize his party's discomfort with faith-based politics.

    It is clear for most people who give their lives to service, that service comes from a calling from something or someone higher than ourselves. This is something that Kerry articulated poignantly in his speech on Monday and as I noted here on Tuesday, it was my faith and values that called on me to do more to fight the extremism of the Bush administration and ultimately support John Kerry. Now, John Kerry has joined a growing group of prominent Democrats, who have "recently articulated how their religious beliefs came to shape their political visions."
    Bob Casey, who aims to unseat Sen. Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania, told a Catholic University crowd on Sept. 15 that government should reflect the Catholic principle of "affirming the dignity of every human being." And in June, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., told a rapt audience of having "knelt at the foot of the cross" and felt a calling straight from God.

    Kerry said in his speech in Malibu, Calif., that he had "learned that if I didn't fill in the picture myself, others would draw the caricature for me."

    "I think he wins more than he loses" by giving the speech, said Bill Donohue, president of the New York-based Catholic League, who has criticized Kerry's support of abortion rights. "It reduces any suspicions people may have had as to why — what was the cause of his reticence? Does he not really believe? Is that why he doesn't want to speak about his religious convictions? I think people will be less suspicious of him on this score."

    Kerry in effect has acknowledged, Donohue said, that any serious candidate for president must be able to connect personal religious convictions with public policy priorities.

    Making that case won't necessarily cost him votes at home in left-leaning Massachusetts, according to Shannon Jenkins, a political scientist at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. In fact, she said, the state's many socially conservative Democrats and independent voters "would probably be more likely to vote for him based on this speech."

    But, she added, Kerry may be creating problems for himself by cozying up to Catholic bishops even as they oppose gay marriage in Massachusetts, which she called a "divisive" issue in the Bay State.

    "There would probably be far more negative repercussions from trying to come up with a Christian defense of gay marriage or from opposing gay marriage than talking about the need to make abortion safe, legal and rare," Jenkins said. "So he wisely (from a political perspective) avoids the issue of gay marriage."

    In 2004, a handful of Roman Catholic bishops suggested Kerry shouldn't receive Communion because his support of abortion rights was at odds with church teaching. Rather than turn his back on the church, however, Kerry in his speech praised U.S. Catholic bishops for having provided "great spiritual wisdom and guidance" in their 2004 election guide.

    Kerry went further by proposing new policy measures, such as tax credits for adoptive parents, in order to reduce the number of abortions in America.

    "Unfortunately, the economic policies of these last six years increase the pressure on women with unplanned pregnancies to seek abortions," Kerry said.

    Some Democrats celebrated Kerry's willingness to quote extensively from Scripture and to frame economic issues as moral ones. Among them was Shaun Casey, a social ethicist at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., and a member of a working group advising the Kerry campaign on religious outreach in 2004.

    "I think he has done a lot of listening in evangelical and Catholic circles after the election, and I think this speech is the fruit of having listened to some of those voices," Casey said. "It would have been great had he done this earlier."

    Other observers said Kerry is creating room for more Democrats to talk about faith in ways that are both authentic and resonate with voters.

    "What I think it does for the party in general is provide a really thoughtful model for how to talk about your faith without sounding like James Dobson or George W. Bush or Ralph Reed," said Amy Sullivan, a Washington journalist who is writing a book on Democrats and religious politics.

    "So often Democrats have thought they had two choices: one was to talk about religion like those guys did, and one was to remain silent. And John Kerry has now provided a third way."

    The full text of John Kerry's speech, 'Service and Faith' is available here and there's more here, including the views of two Pepperdine students and a link to the video of the speech.

    Sunday, September 24, 2006

    John Kerry: 'Iraq is a Fuel Depot for Terror Fanning the Flames of Worldwide Jihadism'

    John Kerry weighed in this morning on the government findings in the latest NIE report that Bush's Iraq policy is creating terrorists. First reported in the N.Y. Times and then the WaPo, the 30-page National Intelligence Estimate that was completed in April "cites the "centrality" of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and the insurgency that has followed, as the leading inspiration for new Islamic extremist networks and cells that are united by little more than an anti-Western agenda."
    It concludes that, rather than contributing to eventual victory in the global counterterrorism struggle, the situation in Iraq has worsened the U.S. position, according to officials familiar with the classified document.

    "It's a very candid assessment," one intelligence official said yesterday of the estimate, the first formal examination of global terrorist trends written by the National Intelligence Council since the March 2003 invasion. "It's stating the obvious."

    The following is the statement issued by Kerry on the NIE report today:
    “The National Intelligence Estimate provides jarring confirmation that the disastrous policy in Iraq is a giant recruiting poster for terrorists and it is weakening our hand in the war on terror. Terrorist organizations from Al Qaeda to Hezbollah are thrilled that we are bogged down in Iraq, even as the Administration misleads America with fear and sloganeering.

    The truth is clear: Rather than being the central front in the war on terror President Bush claims, Iraq is a fuel depot for terror fanning the flames of worldwide jihadism. Incompetence and ideology has left us with more terrorists in the world who want to kill Americans.

    “Make no mistake, there is no way to regain lost ground in the war on terror without redeploying out of Iraq and making Iraqis stand up for Iraq. We must set a deadline to get out of Iraq and refocus on the real war on terror.”

    Kerry is right.

    Wednesday, September 20, 2006

    Government Report Shows EPA Fails Minority and Low-Income Communities Public Health at Risk

    The Office of the Inspector General (IG) released a report in which it found that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is failing to conduct environmental justice reviews of their programs, policies and activities. The report found that the EPA "cannot determine whether its programs cause disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects on communities of color and low-income populations."

    MSNBC reports that "The report, dated Sept. 18 and released today by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., does not appear on the agency's home page."

    USA Today adds, "But the home page does tout "National Pollution Prevention Week: September 18-24": "Reducing pollution before it ever gets to the environment is one of the most important ways to protect the environment. Learn ways individuals, families, and companies can prevent pollution and conserve resources.""

    In its response to the report, the EPA said the "agency has made concerns about environmental justice an integral part of its activities as it enforces environmental rules and issues new regulations."
    Congresswoman Hilda L. Solis said, "This report is yet more proof that the Administration and its senior officials have ignored their responsibility to protect the health and welfare of working families across this county. The continued failure of this Administration and its senior agency officials to protect the health of low income and minority communities is unacceptable. They must be held accountable."

    Senator Kerry said, "This report is further evidence that minority and low income neighborhoods that have become America's industrial dumping grounds and this administration couldn't care less. We will go to the mat on this. Simply put, the EPA needs to start doing its job and end this national disgrace."

    Senator Durbin said, "Once again, the Bush Administration has fallen short of meeting its obligations to millions of people living in some of the most economically disadvantaged areas in the country. The EPA needs to live up to its obligation to protect all Americans -- not just those in the upper tax brackets -- and implement the steps necessary to combat the environmental injustices present in our minority and low-income communities."

    The IG found that EPA program and regional offices have not performed environmental justice reviews in accordance with Executive Order 12898 which was signed by then-President Clinton in 1994. Sixty percent of responding program EPA officials reported that they had not performed environmental justice reviews and 87 percent reported EPA senior management had not requested them to perform such reviews. Eighty percent reported that they did not know how to do an environmental justice assessment and that protocols, framework or additional direction would be useful.

    The report comes just one year after Solis, Kerry, Durbin and 75 other Members of Congress expressed concern about EPA's proposal to delete race as a consideration for determining environmental justice, and just six months after the White House deleted evidence showing a proposed rule on soot could hurt low-income populations and may have a substantial impact on the life expectancy in the United States.

    For decades, industrial zones, refineries, and power plants have jeopardized the health of low-income and minority communities. In Southern California, 71 percent of African-Americans and 50 percent of Latinos live in non-attainments areas. Nationally, people of color are three times more likely to be hospitalized or die from asthma and other respiratory illnesses linked to air pollutions.

    Tuesday, September 19, 2006

    Kerry Speaking on His Religious Views

    Cross posted from Liberal Values:

    John Kerry spoke about his religious beliefs in California. The Washington Post reports “Kerry is the third high-profile Democrat to give a reflective, deeply personal speech on religion and politics in recent weeks, following Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) and Robert P. Casey Jr., the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania.” It is a shame Kerry had to pick this topic.

    Let me be clear that it is not John Kerry I’m criticizing over this but the American public. I understand why Democrats feel they must give such speeches, and cannot blame politicians for doing what must be done (within reason) to be elected. The religious views of John Kerry, or any other public official, should not matter.

    Kerry’s religious views are extremely different from mine, but that never mattered to me. All I care about is that Kerry has no intention of imposing his religious views upon others. I don’t care if he is for or against abortion personally as long as he continues to oppose restrictions on abortion rights. As far as I’m concerned, Kerry’s religious views are irrelevant as to how I vote.
    We are in an era where the religious right is attempting to restrict teaching of science in the schools, attempting to repeal a woman’s right to control her own body, targeting homosexuals for discrimination to bring in a few more votes, and denying the very principle of separation of church and state which this country was founded on. I could be certain that John Kerry, as opposed to George Bush, would never say God told him to go to war or that God chose him to be President.

    In a perfect world nobody would care about the politician’s religious beliefs because they could feel confident they would not use the power of government to impose their views upon others. Rather than having to give a speech like this, Kerry and others could talk about what they planned to do about issues which are the proper focus of government policy rather than religion. Unfortunately we live in a highly imperfect society, and most likely many more Democrats will feel they most give similar speeches on their religious beliefs.

    Faith, Politics and Values

    Democrats don't talk much about faith. It's not that they don't have faith and values, because truly the very foundation of what Democrats are about is all about faith and values. It's different sort of faith and values than the conservatives tout, but it is the faith, in my book that Jesus taught 2 millennia ago. And if you take a good long look at any theology or religious philosophy, you'll see the same values across the board. Long before politics called me to get involved, a question of faith called me to take a deeper look at who I was and how I got there. I found the answers in the myriad of wisdom from some of the great spiritual masters. It shaped who I am today and why I am here, blogging about politics everyday.

    Yesterday, I sat rapt listening to John Kerry speak about faith and values at Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA. Pepperdine, known for it's conservative leaning had invited the Senator to speak on that subject. His speech was deeply personal and profoundly moving and it reaffirmed why I am here, and why I believe deeply in John Kerry as a leader that America needs, now and in the future.

    America, the world is changing and as our lives grow more complex, we all seek something that speaks to our hearts, that addresses our longing for something simpler, something that resounds in our souls. Applebee's America says what drives people to the polls, are "Gut Values," and Democrats often are seen as missing the boat in connecting with voters on these values.

    Kerry's speech yesterday was an effort to urge people of faith, all faiths to work together cooperatively on problems that all people should be concerned about -- poverty, global warming and reducing the number of abortions. The "godly tasks," Kerry called them, that transcend our nation's culture wars.

    "This discussion does not belong in the sole purview of one side of the political aisle," Kerry reminded us and, "There will always be those bent on corrupting our political discourse." Reflecting on the '04 campaign, Kerry told the audience at Pepperdine, largely students, "no matter your party, your ideology, or your faith, we are all done a disservice when the debate is reduced to ugly and untrue caricatures."

    "Both my parents taught me early on," Kerry said, "that we are all put on this earth for something greater than ourselves." In choosing a life of public service, John Kerry forged that path that we all must forge, and it was not without it's tests.

    Kerry talked frankly about his life and the some of the trials that led him to feel as though he had "wandered in the wilderness" after the Vietnam War. Ultimately, he came back to the Catholic Church when "suddenly and movingly, I had a revelation about the connection between the work I was doing as a public servant and my formative teachings."
    Indeed, the scriptures provided a firmer guide about values applied to life – many of the things you are wrestling with now today.

    I remember how difficult it was to be your age – so many decisions to work out, such a tangle of choices and possibilities, whose consequences seem unknowable – and yet life-shaping.

    As the parent of teenager who will start college next year, I reflected on my daughter and the choices that she has to make in the coming years. Like John Kerry's parents taught him, I have taught my daughter that she is here for a higher purpose. We all are. It's how we choose to serve that purpose that counts. When I hear the claims that one faith has it over another, I cringe, because I believe as John Kerry does, that "All our different faiths, whatever their philosophical differences, have a universal sense of values, ethics, and moral truths that honor and respect the dignity of all human beings."
    They all agree on a form of the Golden Rule and the Supreme importance of charity and compassion.

    We are more than just Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims or atheists: we are human beings. We are more than the sum of our differences — we share a moral obligation to treat one another with dignity and respect—and the rest is commentary.

    Kerry spoke of 10 questions that he thinks "are questions any Christian needs to wrestle with." The 10 questions as quoted from the Catholic Bishops 2004 voting guide: “Faithful Citizenship: A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility,” Kerry said, "can be gathered around four issues where people of faith from every background can work together with other people of good will towards public policies that contribute to the common good."

    Citing Hurricane Katrina, Kerry said, "amidst the howling wind and rushing flood waters, you could practically feel Americans’ emotional recognition—our shock—at just how far we still have to climb to fulfill our Christian responsibility to care for the worst off among us."
    Jesus told us “Whatever you do to the least of these, you do unto me,” but when the great flood of our time came, we weren’t ready. Interestingly, the most rapid and effective response came from the faith community, but as a country, we left people to die on rooftops and in hospital beds. The failure should sting and it should shame all of us, but it should also bring a renewed sense of mission: We’ve lapsed in our covenant between the people and the government, between rich and poor people and between rich and poor countries, that nobody should be left behind. No American, no country, no human being.

    After the speech Kerry answered questions from four students and a faculty member. When asked about his thoughts on Bush's legislation aimed at changing the Geneva Conventions, Kerry answered with a thundering vehemence, "No Torture." His response was met with a thundering applause.

    "Does it make it harder... yes it does... but experts have said that these harsh techniques don't work. The Geneva Conventions are not there for some 'nice thing we do', they are there to protect our troops."

    "We get into crazy, silly fights in this country," Kerry said. "The president is running around trying to convince people only one party can protect the country. That is not the case." Again the applause was thunderous.

    When questioned about his views on abortion and his faith, Kerry responded as he did during the campaign, he can not legislate based on his faith, he must legislate based on policy. He said, "the church expresses positions, not policy. My job is to make policy."

    There were moments when listening to John Kerry speak, I was moved to tears, because it was so clear he spoke from his heart and there was a profound joining of hearts and minds in the auditorium that collectively got that faith has truly driven him in his career. Not the claim of the faith, but the true, deep abiding sense of being at one and at peace with his faith and who he is.

    I do not believe that Democrats should avoid speaking about faith, because it is our faith and our values that drive us all to be involved. Whether we are religious, spiritual or non believers we all have values instilled in each of us. The values that John Kerry spoke of yesterday were the values that drove him into public life. The values that he spoke of are the values of a man grounded in that higher purpose, the values of a man "put on this earth for something greater than himself."

    I still believe America would be in a better place today, had the results of '04 been different, and I still believe that it is John Kerry's destiny to lead this nation one day. His speech reaffirmed that belief, and it reaffirmed why I am here everyday, hoping to make a difference in our country and the world.

    Mark Warner Panders to Wealthy, Supports Bush Tax Cuts

    Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner was in Iowa yesterday pandering to the wealthy and defending the Bush tax cuts. Warner said at an event in Iowa with the Greater Des Moines Partnership in Des Moines, that Democrats have "taken the wrong approach in arguing against tax cuts enacted under President Bush," and he singled out former "Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry's campaign as a reason the message did not resonate in 2004." EXCUSE ME?

    Warner told members of the Greater Des Moines Partnership that "in order to appeal to more voters, the party ought to avoid alienating wealthier Americans."
    "I think the Kerry campaign missed something," Warner, who is weighing a 2008 presidential campaign, told about 50 local business leaders.

    "Even though the Bush tax cuts only applied to the top 2 percent of Americans, what I think the Kerry campaign missed was that the other 98 percent of Americans still aspired to get to the point in their life where they could qualify for the tax cuts."

    Where is the logic in this? By and large Democrats across the board opposed the Bush tax cuts and here comes Mark Warner telling us all that we're wrong. Warner misses the point that a large percentage of the other 98 percent of Americans are aspiring just to make damn ends meet and the last thing they are thinking about is qualifying for that 2 percent pie in the sky bracket that the majority of the American public will NEVER qualify for.

    What this sounds like to me is Mark Warner worrying about protecting self-serving interest, his tax cut as a millionaire. Did Warner pay attention during the '04 campaign when Kerry talked about the fact that he personally would rather see working americans get much needed health care coverage, than receive another tax cut. And Kerry isn't the only Democrat who speaks to the Democratic party from the gut and understands that the needs of the masses are for more important than the avaricious goals of the few -- I'm talking Bill Clinton, John Edwards and ted kennedy to name a few, all who say they don't need another tax cut at the cost of Americans going with out health care.

    While most Democrats are fighting to end poverty, raise the minimum wage, secure healthcare for all, Mark Warner is pimping to the rich.

    Warner said yesterday that "wealthier Americans may be willing to support what would essentially be an income-tax increase, but only if it is portrayed as part of a fiscal strategy that includes trimming government waste and curbing spending.

    During the '04 campaign, John Kerry called for repealing the rate cuts on the top two income brackets. Yesterday, Kerry spokesman David Wade characterized the same idea as a generational responsibility to Americans -- something John Kerry spoke about in his speech yesterday at Pepperdine University.
    "Senator Kerry believes that most Americans understand that leaving the tab for the next generation is unconscionable and investing in opportunity is good for all of us," David Wade said.

    Mark Warner showed himself yesterday as incredibly out of touch with the values of the Democratic Party. Rather than diss John Kerry, Warner could take a few lessons from him. The contrast between Mark Warner pandering to the wealthy yesterday and John Kerry speaking from the heart about the poor, is astounding. While Warner was saying in a sense "save the tax cuts," Kerry told the audience at Pepperdine that the "first and perhaps most obvious common challenge," for all of us, "is to take practical steps to address global issues of poverty, disease, and despair."
    The cares of the poor and the troubled should be the focus of all our work. Today extreme poverty shackles one sixth of the globe’s population, one-fifth lack access to safe drinking water. Here in America twenty one percent of our children live in poverty. Eleven million under 21 don’t have health insurance. Thirty thousand children worldwide perish each day because of hunger and disease attributable to poverty.

    Those points are obviously points that Mark Warner does not get.

    Ezra Klein says "Color me unconvinced."
    Not only is Warner philosophically wrong here -- I don't know what sort of Democrat believes it's supportable public policy to raid the federal treasury to enrich the wealthy -- he's not even backed up by the polling data. Support for Bush's tax cuts has, and always has, been low. they've never been as popular as one might expect. Moreover, they've become less popular as time passed. In 2000, exit polls shows that voters naming "taxes" as their top issue went for Bush 80%-17% -- it was by far his biggest advantage on any issue. In 2004, a number of those hardcore partisans were surely naming terrorism, but nevertheless, those obsessing over "taxes" were now voting a rather different ballot, favoring Bush by a mere 57%-43%, a 49% swing in Kerry's favor.

    Leadership or Pandering? Kerry or Warner?

    Cross posted from Liberal Values:

    During the 2004 campaign, John Kerry called for an elimination of the Bush tax reductions for those making over $200,000 per year in order to reduce the deficit and pay for his proposals. The Des Moines Register quotes John Warner as opposing this position:

    “I think the Kerry campaign missed something,” Warner, who is weighing a 2008 presidential campaign, told about 50 local business leaders.

    “Even though the Bush tax cuts only applied to the top 2 percent of Americans, what I think the Kerry campaign missed was that the other 98 percent of Americans still aspired to get to the point in their life where they could qualify for the tax cuts.”

    From a pure political point of view, Warner is right. The candidate who promises the most for free will always have an advantage. Republicans have done great with this strategy. Warner is also right that even those who are not affected by the tax cuts hope to one day earn enough where this impacts them.

    If we want a candidate in 2008 who will say anything to get elected, nominate John Warner, not John Kerry. My previous post at Liberal Values on the increase in number of uninsured shows why we need a leader who does not pander in this matter. If we are going to solve problems such as making health care affordable, we need to also be able to say how these solutions are to be financed.

    It might be easier to ignore such problems, as well as the deficit, but we already have the Republicans for that. We need leadership to explain to the voters why they come out ahead financially if they pay a little more in taxes (assuming they make over $200,000) but in return will have affordable health care, and will not see the value of their retirement funds eroded by inflation due to the deficit. This might increase the chances of losing, as in 2004, but getting this country back on track is a mission for more than one election cycle. We need people like John Kerry who will tell the voters the way it is, and over time an increasing number of people may be receptive to their message.

    Friday, September 15, 2006

    Kerry's Second Shot

    "Meet the Next President," The Examiner says, there's no reason why a Democrat shouldn't have a second shot.

    Contrary to the notion that some Democrats have that “You get one chance. If you can’t win, then it’s time to let someone else try,” there are plenty of people who think otherwise. Like Sue Borden of NH who less that an hour after stating "you get one chance," changed her tune to say "she would consider voting again for the Massachusetts Democrat."
    I always liked what he stood for but felt that he was very snobbish and arrogant,” she says. “He’s not that way. People told me I would change my mind once I met him. And they were right.”

    In June, I arranged a meeting of some L.A. area bloggers with John Kerry. The reaction was the same, each one "walked away with a different impression of John Kerry, from the one they went into the room with."

    "It is not clear," Bill Sammon from The Examiner says, "whether Kerry will have enough time to personally meet and convert every disaffected Democrat in the nation by the election of 2008. But he appears determined to at least counter the conventional wisdom that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., has all but locked up the Democratic presidential nomination." I'm on board for that. Hillary has far from locked it up and my money has always been on John Kerry, for #44.

    In an interview with The Examiner this week, Kerry said, “I don’t buy it. You know, people sit with you and talk with you here, and they’re going to make judgments about who can be president. They’re going to make judgments about who can run."
    I think I’d be a good president,” he adds, sitting on the wraparound porch of an old house in Keene. “I don’t care what the dominant, conventional wisdom is today; it will not be the dominant, conventional wisdom in a year.”

    But even if Clinton were to stumble or withdraw, other Democrats are poised to step in. Some are already hinting that Kerry had his chance and blew it by losing the all-important swing state of Ohio in 2004. Similar arguments were made against former Vice President Al Gore when he lost the crucial state of Florida to Bush in 2000.

    “We are making a mistake if we put up candidates that are only competitive in 16 states, and then we roll the dice and hope we win Ohio or Florida,” says former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, another Democrat eyeing the White House.

    Far from being offended by this remark, Kerry says he agrees with it.

    “I would say the same thing,” he says. “If I were lucky enough to do it again, I’m going to make sure we’re campaigning in way more states.”

    Kerry says the only reason he didn’t compete in more states in 2004 was that he ran out of money.

    The Examiner also reports that this "was also the reason he did not adequately respond to a series of devastating TV ads by Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth, a group that questioned Kerry’s service in Vietnam and criticized his later opposition to the war."
    They had money behind the lies, and we did not have sufficient money behind the truth,” Kerry laments.

    Asked if he dreads the prospect of being “Swift-Boated” all over again, Kerry counters that he would relish such a fight.

    “I’m prepared to kick their ass from one end of America to the other,” he declares. “I am so confident of my abilities to address that and to demolish it and to even turn it into a positive.”


    Kerry Amendment Passes as Part of Port Security Package

    The Senate passed Senator John Kerry’s bi-partisan amendment to the Port Security bill (HR 4954) today, that will ensure that seaport personnel, law enforcement and first responders get the security training and support they need in order to be better prepared in the event of an attack.

    Kerry’s amendment was accepted unanimously by the Senate. It would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to implement a Port Security Training Program and Port Security Exercise Program that will prepare ports to prevent and respond to a terrorist attack. The House version of HR 4954 makes these programs mandatory but, the Senate bill leaves it to the discretion of the DHS Secretary to implement them. The Kerry amendment will ensure that they are mandatory and implemented as soon as possible.
    Five years after 9/11, we know that we should be doing much more to reinforce our domestic security systems, and we know that training and exercise programs are critical in helping first responders, law enforcement, and seaport personnel deter terrorist attacks at our ports. DHS has failed to create and implement these important programs, and I believe it’s about time we ensure they do.”

    Co-sponsors of the amendment include: Senators Lautenberg, Lieberman, Clinton, Akaka, Kennedy, Cantwell, Snowe, Inouye, Smith, Schumer, and Bill Nelson.

    John Kerry Addresses Administration’s “Cut and Run Policy” on Afghanistan

    Today, with Afghanistan in major jeopardy, John Kerry calls for 5,000 more American troops to be sent to Afghanistan. Kerry offered his plan to address the rapidly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan in a speech at Howard University in Washington, DC. A day after NATO refused to send more troops to Afghanistan, Kerry proposed that the United States lead by example on Afghanistan by sending 5,000 troops there immediately.

    On th eAfghanistan front, ThinkProgress has reported today that "Weekly Standard editor Fred Barnes appeared on Fox this morning to discuss his recent meeting with President Bush in the Oval Office."

    The key takeaway for Barnes was that “bin Laden doesn’t fit with the administration’s strategy for combating terrorism.” Barnes said that Bush told him capturing bin Laden is “not a top priority use of American resources.”

    Read Kerry's remarks as prepared for delivery here and his blog post on the Dem Daily, "Not A Forgotten War."

    Thursday, September 14, 2006

    The Case for Kerry 2008

    Cross posted from Liberal Values:

    The Examiner looks at the prospects of John Kerry running for President again. They start by quoting one voter saying “You get one chance,” the Democrat tells a reporter. “If you can’t win, then it’s time to let someone else try.” Less than an hour later, after meeting Kerry and hearing him speak, she changed her mind. “I always liked what he stood for but felt that he was very snobbish and arrogant,” she says. “He’s not that way. People told me I would change my mind once I met him. And they were right.”

    Many of us who supported Kerry in 2004 would say the same thing. The real John Kerry is not the guy portrayed by the media. The argument that he had his chance is a weak one. While some had an unrealistic view that Bush was easily defeatable, the fact is that Kerry defied the odds in coming as close as he did to an incumbent President–especially during time of war. Republicans know better than to ignore the experience of someone who ran and lost. Their front runner, John McCain, lost to George Bush. Richard Nixon didn’t win until his second try. Even Ronald Reagan lost to Gerald Ford before winning the nomination and election. In Europe it is common for opposition leaders to lose before developing enough support for their party to win.

    The right wing noise machine has been pushing their propaganda for years. Throw in any candidate, even one as weak as George Bush, and everyone is ready for their lines. People have a much weaker understanding of the positions of the Democratic candidate–partially due to the manner in which their message has been distorted by the right wing noise machine. By the time Kerry wrapped up the nomination there was little time left in which to define himself before he was demonized by the Republicans. What the Democrats need is a leader like Kerry who is gradually getting his message out since 2004 and won’t be starting at a disadvantage in 2008.

    Before Kerry can be considered for the nomination again, he will have to dispense with the Swift Boat Liars. He says he is ready:

    “I’m prepared to kick their ass from one end of America to the other,” he declares. “I am so confident of my abilities to address that and to demolish it and to even turn it into a positive.”

    There’s no doubt that Kerry will be forced to prove this. Assuming he can dispel any doubts held by those in the middle, the disputed claims of right wing partisans should not be used as a reason not to nominate Kerry. If they can make up such lies about Kerry, they can fabricate a case against any one. Sure, there will always be right wingers who will ignore all the evidence and claim the Swift Boat Liars are right. The same people will also continue to claim that we were threatened by WMD from Iraq, that Saddam was working with al Qaeda, that evolution is not established science, and perhaps even that the world is flat. People who are this brainwashed by the authoritarian right will never vote Democratic any ways, and their delusions don’t have any bearing on who should get the nomination.

    Kerry is even taking advantage of his worst gaffe of the campaign:

    “I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it,” he said during the election, cementing his reputation as a flip-flopper.

    The utterance was draped around Kerry’s neck and was widely viewed as a factor in his defeat. And yet now he voluntarily alludes to the gaffe while criticizing Bush’s recent reversal on the handling of enemy combatants.

    “No American president should be for torture before he’s against it,” Kerry said at Boston’s Faneuil Hall last weekend, allowing himself a rueful smile as the crowd erupted in cheers.

    What is forgotten is that, before his original statement was taken out of context, it was said in a speech which was well received by the audience. There were two different votes which differed on the funding, and what Kerry said made perfect sense, even if sounds absurd when heard as a single line. This, along with dealing with the inevitable attacks from the right wing, provides valuable experience which would give Kerry an advantage over most other Democrats.

    The most important question of all is who would make the best President. Of those who are talking about running, I see nobody who can compete with Kerry. Kerry far surpasses Hillary Clinton with the quality of his health care proposals and his principled opposition to Bush’s foreign policy. I don’t see anyone else running with the experience or gravitas to compete with Kerry for the job.

    Monday, September 11, 2006

    Are We Safer?

    Cross Posted from Liberal Values:

    One queston being considered today, after five years of George Bush fighting the “war on terror,” is whether we any safer. Here is one post on the risk of terrorism which many in the liberal blogoshere might miss from Cato Unbound but is worth reading. Portions remind me of a recent post by DarkSyde at Daily Kos which I discussed here.

    While considering how safe we are, there are two other previous posts worth looking back at to consider both sides of the question. Two articles from The Atlantic and Foreign Affairs raise the question of whether fear of terrorism has been more dangerous than terrorism. Before we downplay the threat too much, consider this chilling report from Christiane Amanpour on the possibility of the use of nuclear weapons by al Qaeda.

    Regardless of how much a threat al Qaeda remains, the responses by the Bush administration have made us less safe rather than more safe. We have paid a heavy cost in terms of reduced civil liberties, loss of life in Iraq, and loss of prestige for the United States, with none of this making us any safer.

    Also at Liberal Values today, Edward Kennedy wonders why Osama bin Laden is still at large. The ACLU reviews what the Bush Administration should be doing to keep us safe–without violating our civil liberties.

    Saturday, September 09, 2006

    John Kerry: Switch the Fight to Afghanistan

    John Kerry ripped into the Bush administration with his speech on national security today. He's been on a roll for the past few days since Congress has been back in session and Bush has been on the campaign trail trying to win back support for his national security failures and his war in Iraq, based on lies, with a series of redundant speeches.

    The American public is tired of the fear-mongering. We need a real solid plan for national security and real leadership. John Kerry's national security plan laid out in today's speech at Boston's Faneuil Hall, puts BushCo to shame.

    Kerry penned two OP/ED's today in conjunction with his speech, one from the Boston Herald that I posted earlier, and this OP/ED in the Union Leader:
    John Kerry: Switch the fight to Afghanistan

    Donald Rumsfeld — who should have been fired as secretary of defense long ago — gave an ugly speech in which he spoke of “moral confusion.”

    There certainly is a lot of moral confusion around these days. It is immoral for old men to send young Americans to fight and die for a strategy that has not weakened terrorism but worsened it. It is immoral to treat 9/11 as a political pawn — and to continue to excuse the invasion of Iraq by exploiting the 3,000 mothers and fathers, sons and daughters who were lost that day. They were attacked and killed not by Saddam Hussein but by Osama bin Laden.

    President Bush has a strategy to try to win an election. We need leadership that has a strategy to win the War on Terror.

    Iraq has made America less safe. The terrorists are not on the run. Terrorist acts tripled between 2004 and 2005. Al-Qa-da has spawned a decentralized network operating in 65 countries, most of them joining since 9/11. Only Dick Cheney could call this a success.

    The situation in Afghanistan deteriorates steadily. The Taliban now controls entire portions of southern Afghanistan, and across the border Pakistan is one coup away from becoming a radical jihadist state with nuclear weapons. Only George Bush could declare this “mission accomplished.”

    It’s time to refocus our military efforts from the failed occupation of Iraq to what we should have been doing all along: destroying al-Qaida. We need to redeploy troops from Iraq — keep up the training and counter-terror operations, establish an over the horizon military capacity — and free up resources to fight the War on Terror.

    Every time President Bush tells the Iraqis we will “stay as long as it takes,” he is giving squabbling Iraqi politicians an excuse to take as long as they want to. Iraqi leaders have responded only to deadlines. So we must set another deadline to extricate our troops and get Iraq up on its own two feet — a clear deadline of July, 2007. As our generals have said, the war cannot be won militarily. “Staying the course” isn’t far-sighted; it’s blind. Leaving our troops in the middle of a civil war isn’t resolute; it’s reckless. 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.

    Neither can the administration engage in the delusion that we’ve won in Afghanistan. Last Thursday the President said we’re on the offensive against terrorists in Afghanistan, even as the NATO commander said the opposite is true and made a desperate plea for more troops to stop a major Taliban offensive.

    We must recommit to Afghanistan. This administration has cut and run while the Taliban-led insurgency is retaking control over entire areas of the country. They’ve cut and run even as we’ve learned that the mastermind of the most recent attempt to blow up American airliners was an al-Qaida leader in Afghanistan. The same killers who attacked us are still plotting attacks against America and they’re still holed up in Afghanistan.

    We must send significant reinforcements to Afghanistan: at least 5,000 more troops, equipment, and reconstruction funds. Five years after 9/11, the politics of deception and smear stalks this land. But this cynical strategy can not redeem a Katrina foreign policy or re-elect a rubberstamp Congress. Americans see the truth through the fog of fear.

    On the other side, the only thing they have to offer is fear itself. It’s up to us to offer a new course that will actually win the war on terror.

    Sen. John Kerry was the 2004 Democratic nominee for President.

  • John Kerry OP/ED: Post-9/11 Policy Hasn’t Made World Safer: Rather than occupying Iraq, we Must Destroy al-Qaeda

  • John Kerry’s ‘Real Security For America’ Speech: “The Bush-Cheney Administration Has Engaged in a Policy of Cut and Run in Iraq”

  • John Kerry Blasts ABC’s ‘Path to 9/11?

  • John Kerry on Release of Phase II Report on Misleading Iraq Intelligence

  • John Kerry on Hardball: “There is No Appropriate Torture”

  • John Kerry Responds to Bush’s Latest Speech

  • John Kerry: ‘It’s Immoral for Old Men to Send Young Americans to Fight and Die in Conflict With a Strategy That is Failing’

  • John Kerry Responds to Bush Speech on the Creation of Military Commissions to Try Suspected Terrorists

  • John Kerry Responds to Bush’s Speech to the Military Officers Association of America
  • John Kerry OP/ED: Post-9/11 Policy Hasn’t Made World Safer: Rather Than Occupying Iraq, We Must Destroy al-Qaeda

    In advance of his speech this morning at Boston's Faneuil Hall, the Boston Herald featured an OP/ED from John Kerry today about the Bush administrations "Post-9/11 policy."

    The complete and utter failure of the Bush administration both in Iraq and Afghanistan, grows clearer every day as the Senate Intel Committee's report becomes public that there was no link between Iraq and 9/11 and the news that Rumsfeld muzzled the "Iraq post-war plan."
    Months before the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld forbade military strategists from developing plans for securing a post-war Iraq, the retiring commander of the Army Transportation Corps said Thursday.

    In fact, said Brig. Gen. Mark Scheid, Rumsfeld said "he would fire the next person" who talked about the need for a post-war plan.

    John Kerry nailed it all today in his speech on national security, and in this OP/ED in the Boston Herald:
    Post-9/11 policy hasn’t made world safer: Rather than occupying Iraq, we must destroy al-Qaeda
    By John Kerry
    Saturday, September 9, 2006

    Five years after Sept. 11, where are we? Bogged down in Baghdad, beleaguered around the world and bitterly divided at home.

    Democrats have a unique responsibility not just to oppose what has failed but to propose a new course that can defeat jihadist terrorism once and for all.

    There are many things we can and must do better, but there are five steps to start: Redeploy from Iraq, recommit to Afghanistan, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, reform our homeland defense and restore America’s moral leadership in the world. These are five bold steps Democrats would take to strengthen our national security, and that the Republicans who have set the agenda resist to our national peril.

    We must refocus our military efforts from the failed occupation of Iraq to destroying al-Qaeda. Iraqi leaders have responded only to deadlines and we must set another deadline to get Iraq up on its own two feet: July 2007. We also need real diplomacy. Only through negotiation can you stem the growing civil war. Redeploy troops from Iraq, maintain training forces and an over-the-horizon capacity, and free up resources to fight the war on terror.

    We can’t sustain the delusion that the war in Afghanistan is over. On Thursday the president said we’re on the offensive against terrorists in Afghanistan, even as the NATO commander made a desperate plea for more troops to stop a major Taliban offensive. We must send significant reinforcements to Afghanistan - at least 5,000 more troops, equipment and reconstruction funds so that the United States, not the Taliban, rebuilds the new Afghanistan.

    Third, we are threatened not just by gun barrels, but by oil barrels. The great treasury of jihadist terrorism is Mideast oil. We fund both sides in the war on terror every time we fill up our gas tanks. We must liberate the Middle East from the tyranny of dependence on petroleum, so that the region is no longer isolated from the global economy. Nothing will change if autocratic regimes are kept in power by pumping prosperity out of the ground and paying off their own people with petrodollar welfare checks. We must end the empire of oil. We need a comprehensive strategy to break our oil addiction.

    Fourth, to make America safe we must reform our homeland defense. President Bush this week said that Osama bin Laden and the terrorists plan to target America’s weak points. Our weak points - our borders, our chemical plants, our railways - remain weak because this administration has had the wrong priorities. For the cost of one week in Iraq, we could purchase the equipment to scan every cargo container bound for U.S. ports to protect against weapons of mass destruction. We need to rapidly reorient the FBI to focus on counterterrorism at home. We need to reopen the bin Laden unit at the CIA, which the administration inexplicably disbanded. The 9/11 Commission found that 15 of the 19 hijackers who attacked us should have been intercepted by border authorities. We need border security backed by the immigration service.

    Lastly, we must restore our moral authority by deploying the full arsenal of our national power with smarter diplomacy, stronger alliances, more effective international institutions - and fidelity to our values. We must remember the great lesson of the Cold War when we led the world to confront a common threat.

    There are five specific steps to make the world safer. Let the real debate begin about how to win the war on terror.

    Retired FBI Agents Question Accuracy of “The Path to 9/11?

    Two retired FBI agents who were asked to be consultants on The Path to 9/11 are the latest in the long list of people complaining about the bias and inaccuracies in this mini-series. The New York Times reports:

    Two retired F.B.I. agents said today that they had rejected advisory roles on the disputed ABC mini-series, “The Path to 9/11,” because of concerns about the program’s accuracy.

    One of the agents, Thomas E. Nicoletti, was hired by the producers of the mini-series in July 2005 to oversee its technical accuracy, but left after less than a month because of scenes he believed were misleading or just false.

    “There were some of the scenes that were total fiction,” said Mr. Nicoletti, who served as a supervisory special agent and a member of the joint terrorism task force before retiring in 2003. “I told them unless they were changing this, I could not have my name associated with it.”

    Related stories on “The Path to 9/11?

    John Kerry's 'Real Security For America' Speech: "The Bush-Cheney Administration Has Engaged in a Policy of Cut and Run in Iraq"

    In a short time John Kerry will step up to the podium at Faneuil Hall in Boston and deliver this speech, below that speaks to the heart of Americans who are fed up with the failed policies and lies and of the Bush administration. And speaking of the lies of the Bush administration....

    The news is out about the report released by the Senate Intelligence Committee on Friday, that there were no "prewar ties between Saddam Hussein’s government and an operative of Al Qaeda, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi."
    The disclosure undercuts continuing assertions by the Bush administration that such ties existed, and that they provided evidence of links between Iraq and Al Qaeda. The Republican-controlled committee, in a second report, also sharply criticized the administration for its reliance on the Iraqi National Congress during the prelude to the war in Iraq.

    The conclusions of the Senate Intel report go far beyond their earlier report, released in the summer of 2004, and include criticism not only of CIA and American intelligence agencies but also of the Bush administration. Clearly the report backs up what John Kerry and other Democratic leaders have said for some time.

    The Democratic Daily has received an advance copy of John Kerry's 'Real Security' speech. The text is as follows:
    'Real Security For America'
    John Kerry

    The war on terror that was brought home to the Casey family on a sunny autumn morning that suddenly turned into midnight five years ago, also brought home for all of humanity the stark reality that we are in a fateful contest between forces of evil and hate and the defenders of progress and hope.

    The outcome will determine whether our children live in freedom or fear. This is a clash between humanity’s best ideals and the darkness of superstition and oppression. And this is not a clash of faiths: the true Islam is a faith to live by, not a call to terrorize and kill.

    In this war, the war against terrorism, there is no substitute for victory. I don’t know a single American who needs a politician to remind them that we have to win this fight.

    On Monday, we will commemorate our largest loss of civilian life on a single day in American history. As we remember the horror, the unforgettable shock, and the pride in those who rushed to the rescue, it is our duty to take account as a nation of where we have come since that terrible moment and where we must go if we are to keep America safe in these perilous times.

    Since the beginning, at critical moments in our nation’s history, Americans have gathered here at Faneuil Hall to find a better way forward. This is where Americans first agreed on our nation’s promise and where they have gathered ever since to help our country keep it.

    That is why you and I have convened here four times so far this year – to chart a new course, for a nation that has been misled on global climate change, misled on health care, misled on fundamental constitutional values, and misled into a war that was based on a lie, a war that can and must be brought to a close.

    Donald Rumsfeld – the man who should have been fired as Secretary of Defense long ago – Donald Rumsfeld recently gave a low and ugly speech in which he smeared those who dissent from a catastrophic policy, and then spoke of “moral confusion.”

    Well, there certainly is a lot of moral confusion around these days.

    It is immoral for old men to send young Americans to fight and die in a conflict without a strategy that can work – on a mission that has not weakened terrorism but worsened it.

    It is immoral to lie about progress in that war to get through a news cycle or an election.

    It is immoral to treat 9/11 as a political pawn – and to continue to excuse the invasion of Iraq by exploiting the 3,000 mothers and fathers, sons and daughters who were lost that day. They were attacked and killed not by Saddam Hussein but by Osama bin Laden.

    And it is deeply immoral to compare a majority of Americans who oppose a failing policy and seek a winning one to appeasers of Fascism and Naziism.

    The leaders of this administration have shown in recent days that they will say anything, do anything, twist any truth, and endanger our nation’s character as one America in a desperate ploy to survive a mid term election.

    But Americans now see through this charade. They know the truth. We have a Katrina foreign policy – a succession of blunders and failures that have betrayed our ideals, killed and maimed our soldiers, and widened the terrorist threat instead of defeating it.

    Every time the administration is down in the polls, every time their political opponents at home appear to gain, they trot out of the fear card, instead of reinforcing in Americans “there is nothing to fear but fear itself,” they have nothing to offer but fear itself.

    Continue reading here.

    Friday, September 08, 2006

    John Kerry Blasts ABC’s ‘Path to 9/11?

    The heat is on ABC for their phony docudrama, "The Path to 9/11" which scheduled to air in 2 days. Max Blumenthal has the skinny on the "secret right-wing network behind ABC's 9/11 deception."
    In fact, "The Path to 9/11" is produced and promoted by a well-honed propaganda operation consisting of a network of little-known right-wingers working from within Hollywood to counter its supposedly liberal bias. This is the network within the ABC network. Its godfather is far right activist David Horowitz, who has worked for more than a decade to establish a right-wing presence in Hollywood and to discredit mainstream film and TV production. On this project, he is working with a secretive evangelical religious right group founded by The Path to 9/11's director David Cunningham that proclaims its goal to "transform Hollywood" in line with its messianic vision.

    Needless to say, Blumenthal exposes the truth, that not all of Hollywood is liberal, contrary to the popular right-wing claim. But, we already know that. As Ron reported earlier, film critics, historians and others have also been on the bandwagon criticizing the docudrama.

    AP News reports that a "Democratic petition with nearly 200,000 signatures urged the network to scrap the five-hour drama," however, ABC had "no response to the calls to abandon it."

    Taylor Marsh caught up with John Kerry today and got a statement from him on the docudrama, that as Taylor put it, "says it all":
    What I find most stunning in all of this is that now five years after the real 9/11 – as if any fiction could somehow make more searing what each and every one of us lived with our own eyes and ears – is that we need less revisionism about the past and a hell of a lot more reality about what’s going on now. Right now.

    Instead of the fiction written to excuse the invasion of Iraq by exploiting the 3,000 mothers and fathers, sons and daughters who were lost that day -- they were attacked and killed not by Saddam Hussein but by Osama bin Laden – we need the truth.

    Here’s a little truth: The President pretends Iraq is the central front on the war on terror. It is not now, and never has been. His disastrous decisions have made Iraq a fuel depot for terror – fanning the flames of conflict around the world.

    The terrorists are not on the run. Worldwide, terrorist acts are at an all-time high, more than tripling between 2004 and 2005. Al Qaeda has spawned a vast and decentralized network operating in 65 countries, most of them joining since 9/11. The Taliban now controls entire portions of southern Afghanistan, and just across the border Pakistan is just one coup away from becoming a radical jihadist state with nuclear weapons. The Middle East is more unstable than it has been in decades. Hezbollah flags fly from rooftops in Shiia slums of Sadr City and Iran is rebuilding Southern Lebanon. We have an Iraqi Prime Minister sustained in power by our forces, who will not speak against the Hezbollah terrorists, who will not say that Israel has a right to exist, and who will not condemn the Iranian nuclear program, who will not even as a national leader support the national army over the Shiite militia. In other words, the Iraq government that the administration cites as the front-line force in the fight against terrorism won’t even take our side when we are fighting terrorists. No American soldier should be asked to stand up for an Iraqi government that won’t stand up for the values and interests that draw them into battle every day. Oh, and the 9/11 commission recently gave our government a failing grade on implementing intelligence reforms.

    I love watching movies, but with the world looking the way it is right now I think this is a good time to stick with just the facts. After Iraq, we've all had enough fiction to last a lifetime. - Senator John Kerry

    As Taylor points out in her post, this whole premise behind "The Path to 9/11" is yet "another attempt to swiftboat the Democratic Party on issues of national security in an election year." It's something that John Kerry knows all too well at this point.

    John Kerry will be giving a speech tomorrow on National Security at Boston's Faneuil Hall and I have no doubt, he'll be ratcheting up the volume on a few notches as he ripws into the failures of the Bush administration and the Republican leadership. On Sunday, Kerry will be on CNN's "Late Edition" with Wolf Blitzer.

    If you missed Kerry on Hardball last night you can watch it here and the transcript is available here. And on Wednesday during the debate on the "no confidence" vote on Rumsfeld, Kerry issued a serious slap down when he said, “I think it’s immoral for old men to send young Americans to fight and die in conflict with a strategy that is failing, and a mission that has not weakened terrorism but strengthened it.”

    Enough is enough. Sign the DNC petition to Disney, if you haven't yet.