Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Kerry Responds to Blair's Redeployment Plan for British Troops Out of Bush's Iraq War

Tony Blair is preparing to cut out of Bush's war. The BBC reported today that Blair will announce a "timetable for the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq, with 1,500 to return home in several weeks," on Wednesday.
Blair will also tell the House of Commons during his regular weekly appearance before it that a total of about 3,000 British soldiers will have left southern Iraq by the end of 2007, if the security there is sufficient, the British Broadcasting Corp. and The Sun newspaper said, quoting government officials who weren’t further identified.

The BBC said Blair was not expected to say when the rest of Britain’s forces would leave Iraq. Currently, Britain has about 7,100 soldiers there.

John Kerry issued the following statement today, in response to Blair’s expected announcement that he would be withdrawing British troops on a fixed timetable, including the redeployment of 1,500 soldiers in the coming weeks and 3,000 troops home by Christmas:
“America’s leading ally in Iraq has decided that a timetable for the phased redeployment of troops is the only responsible policy to help force Iraqis to stand up for Iraq,” said Kerry. “After years of touting Prime Minister Blair’s resolve, the Administration should now pay attention to his new policy. This announcement makes it all the more inexplicable that the President and leading Republicans actually want to send more American troops into the middle of an Iraqi civil war.”

Blair's announcement comes on the heels of Bush's push to escalate the Iraq war with "an increase of 21,000 more troops for Iraq." As Bush's plan to escalate the war, "some of the other coalition partners are pulling out: The Italians and Slovaks have left, and the Danes and the South Koreans want to start withdrawing."

NBC reported that Blair and President Bush spoke about the timetable on Tuesday morning.

The Guardian UK calls the plan, "the British endgame."

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John Kerry Joins Obama, McCaskill To Improve Conditions At Walter Reed Hospital

Senator John Kerry announced today that he will co-sponsor the legislation proposed by Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) to improve the lives of recovering veterans at Walter Reed and other medical centers by eliminating paperwork and improving physical conditions. The Obama - McCaskill proposed legislation comes in the wake of the WaPo's reports by reporters Dana Priest and Anne Hull documenting "dismal conditions that wounded soldiers endure at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C."
Considered the premier medical institution for the Army, Walter Reed is so crowded that some wounded soldiers are cared for in Building 18, which The Post reported has broken elevators, ice-covered walkways that confined soldiers to their rooms and other problems. (The Pentagon announced yesterday that repairs are underway for Building 18.)

Kerry also said today that he would explore other options for "directing new funding to Walter Reed and to make immediate improvements to the buildings where veterans are housed." He said that he was “saddened” by a recent Washington Post series exposing the poor sanitary conditions and other hurdles faced by injured veterans returning to the states after service in Iraq and Afghanistan. And he noted the recent story in the Army Times about 15 month delays facing vets seeking a physical evaluation.

“We owe our returning veterans a debt of gratitude, not sub-standard treatment at an overcrowded medical facility,” said Kerry. “The Administration has consistently talked a big game but shortchanged the needs of veterans. How can the president talk about a troop escalation in Iraq while failing to keep faith with the Iraq War veterans we’ve already brought home? Brave men who have been blinded or lost a limb in Iraq should not be sitting in moldy, mouse-infested buildings. Period. It’s unacceptable and this Congress needs to do something about it.”

The Obama - McCaskill legislation that Kerry is co-sponsoring would do the following:
  • Simplify the paperwork process for recovering soldiers;

  • Improve the ratio of caseworkers to recovering soldiers;

  • Increase the training of caseworkers;

  • Require more frequent IG inspections of hospital facilities and standards of care;

  • Establish timelines and benchmarks for repairs to substandard facilities;

  • Provide recovering soldiers with psychological counseling; and

  • Require regular reporting to Congress on: the total number of recovering soldiers at military hospitals; the number of caseworkers; the average waiting time for treatment; and the number of suicide attempts, accidental deaths or drug overdoses.

Hardball had Dana Priest on tonight talking about the series. The transcript of Hardball is here. And Paul Rieckoff has a post on the HuffPo about the situation at Walter Reed, that I highly recommend reading.

I'm not at all surprised to see Kerry jumping right in to co-sponsor the legislation from Obama and McCaskill. Fighting for veteran's rights has been an issue for him since day one in the Senate. Anyone who thinks otherswise doesn't know John Kerry.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

John Kerry’s Input To Be Valued

Cross posted from The Democratic Daily:

There was on OP/ED in the Boston Herald today that is so worth the read for Kerry supporters here on the Dem Daily. The OP/ED was written by Jeffrey R. Lewis, president of Heinz Family Philanthropies, who served as Republican staff director to the late Sen. John Heinz (R-Pa.).

One of the key points Lewis makes, as a moderate Republican, is that "on a variety of key and core issues," John Kerry "has been right on the merits and he has gotten to these positions long before the rest of the pack." That's a point we've made here many times here on the Dem Daily -- Kerry was right. (Emphasis added below is mine.)

Kerry’s input to be valued
By Jeffrey R. Lewis
Monday, February 19, 2007

Two years from now, when George Bush leaves office, he will leave behind a tattered domestic policy and a severely frayed foreign policy that in some places of the world is broken, embittered, violent and organized into very different camps whose only common denominator is a raging anti-American sentiment.

On Sept. 11, the world was at our feet, understanding our anguish and offering a hand of friendship. Today, much of the world is after our throat, burning our flag, and using foreign trade and oil as weapons of economic destruction against us.

The question that engages many of us - not as Democrats or Republicans but as human beings - is how to approach the project of restoring America’s place in the world.

America must find a path out of Iraq, rebuild our military, re-engage the fight in Afghanistan, restore our diplomacy - especially in the Middle East - and suture together the security coalitions that this administration tore apart with its preference for unilateral action and its disdain for our allies.
Read more »

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John Kerry: ‘The Guy Who Put the “Entrepreneurship” in the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship’

As a small business owner, I've long appreciated John Kerry's advocacy for small business owners and entrepreneurs. It's tough for the little folks like myself to compete with big business and it's even tougher if you're a women in business. Kerry's done a lot to fight for small business over the years as the interview below from Inc.com points out:

He's the guy who put the "entrepreneurship" in the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. As committee chairman in 2001, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., had the name extended to reflect its broader sense of mission. Now, with the Democratic takeover of Congress, he returns to the helm, pledging to strengthen capital programs and other opportunities for small-business owners, while fighting to give them a fair shot at federal contracts — largely by preventing Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Wal-Mart and other large corporations from scooping them up.

Kerry, a former entrepreneur himself, surprised colleagues 22 years ago for seeking a post on the low-profile committee, yet was pilloried as anti-business during his 2004 presidential bid campaign, over his support of a minimum-wage increase and curbing tax incentives for corporations. Kerry recently spoke to Inc.com staff reporter Angus Loten about raising the federal minimum wage, taming employer health-care costs, and other key issues the committee expects to take up in the year ahead.

Inc.com: What's your impression of the minimum-wage bill that was recently sent back to the House with more than $8 billion in tax breaks for small-business owners?

Kerry: Obviously, if they were free-standing, some of our colleagues would embrace the larger portion of the tax pieces. But I think there was a feeling that it should've been a clean bill. I can't predict the outcome. We'll have to see what happens in committee. That's where it will be resolved. Some of the small-business measures in the bill we've advocated in the committee and we're supportive of them.

Inc.com: Opponents have said President Bush's proposed tax cuts for employees who buy their own health insurance are a threat to the employer-based system of coverage. Are they?
Read more »

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Massachusetts Fire Fighters Endorse John Kerry for Senate

On Friday, the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts (PFFM) endorsed Senator John Kerry for United States Senate. The PFFM, at their state meeting in Hyannis, overwhelmingly endorsed Senator Kerry in his reelection for his fifth term serving Massachusetts in the United States Senate.
PFFM President Robert McCarthy said, “I’m proud today to announce the support for John Kerry in his reelection for the United State Senate. There’s no greater friend to Massachusetts’ firefighters than John Kerry. From fighting for fair pay for our firefighters to improving technology for first responders to making sure our men and women have the best equipment out there, John Kerry has led the fight. I look forward to continuing to work with him in the years to come.”

“I am deeply honored to be endorsed today by my good friend Bob McCarthy and the Fire Fighters,” Senator John Kerry said. “Our firefighters are the most trusted, loyal, heroic Americans out there who wake up everyday willing to put their lives on the line to protect ours. I’m running again for the Senate so I can continue to work for a policy that honors our firefighters and their service.

“I’ll never forget standing with these men and women the day we lost six of our own in Worcester. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of those heroes, their families and that sacrifice. We owe our firefighters an incredible debt of gratitude. But beyond that, we owe them leadership that honors this sacrifice. I’m humbled and profoundly thankful for their support,” Kerry added.

Kerry has consistently been supported by the men and women of the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts. Kerry also won the endorsement of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) early in his race for president in 2004.

On February 5, Kerry sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services calling for an investigation into the "'deeply" troubling' information in an MSNBC.com special report indicating that the federal unit charged with probing firefighter deaths ignored a warning in 2000 that personal alarms used at fire scenes might be failing.”

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