Tuesday, April 24, 2007

John Kerry on 2007 Trustee Report on Social Security and Medicare

Today, the Social Security Administration released their annual Report on Social Security and Medicare.

John Kerry, Chair of the Finance Subcommittee on Social Security, Pension and Family Policy, released the following statement on the 2007 Trustee’s Report on Social Security and Medicare:

The Trustee’s projections show that the Social Security Fund will be exhausted in 2041 and the Medicare Trust Fund in 2019 – each one year later than the projections in last year’s reports. Both reports prove the continued need for bipartisan moves in Congress to strengthen these vitally important programs in the long-term. The report also shows that Social Security remains sound for decades and proves there is no need to privatize Social Security.

“The Trustee’s report is a crystal clear message that any moves to privatize social security wouldn’t just hurt this program for our seniors, but are also completely unnecessary,” Senator Kerry said. “The report shows that Medicare’s long-term viability is an urgent priority, but doesn’t justify the arbitrary cuts to the program designed by the previous Republican Congress. We must not make reckless cuts to the program, but instead combat skyrocketing costs throughout our health care system and make responsible investments in Medicare. I look forward to working with my colleagues to achieve broader prevention and disease management services that increase quality for patients and decrease costs over time.

“We will work in our new Democratic Congress in a bipartisan manner to strengthen Social Security and Medicare, invest in their long term strength, and fight any moves to privatize and endanger these compacts with seniors who have worked a lifetime,” Kerry added. “Social Security and Medicare have for decades kept faith with our bedrock American values by protecting our seniors from falling into poverty and keeping retired Americans and their families healthy and secure.”

The full report from the SSA is available here.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Senator Kerry in Live Chat on Slate Wednesday

Slate magazine has set up a page full of special features in honor of Small Business Week, and the Chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship will be the guest for a live chat on small business-related issues at 12:30 PM EDT this Wednesday. Questions for the Senator can be submitted now. You can find all the details at this page.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Teresa Heinz Kerry Blog Tour: Day 9

We here at the Unofficial Kerry Blog are honored to participate in this blog tour in support of the Conference on Women's Health and the Environment held in Pittsburgh on Friday and sponsored by the Heinz Family Philanthropies. This year's conference was covered by energetic livebloggers at The Democratic Daily , Democracy Cell Project and DailyKos -- which had one diary for liveblogging the morning sessions and another for the afternoon sessions. Check out those posts and their comments threads for links to valuable information about the environment, our health and the concrete actions we can take.

Before moving to the interview, I want to mention that there is now also a dedicated website, Women's Health and the Environment, at which you can find many of the materials that were given to conference attendees and other tools and resources designed to enable both conference attendees and those of us who could not attend to take action in our own lives and to continue the conversation that was begun at the conference.

And now for the interview! As I blogged in some detail here last month, I especially admire Teresa Heinz Kerry's passionate determination to bring people together: fostering collaborations, bringing everyone to the table, and giving the public access to the latest information from the experts, so that together we can take action on these issues and make informed and enlightened choices in our own lives. I decided to focus on that aspect of her work in my 3 questions, and THK's answers were, as expected, thoughtful and down to earth.

KVH: You’ve been sponsoring conferences on Women’s Health and the Environment since 1996. Are there any particular success stories you want to share?

THK: I am so proud of the fact that what began as a conference with 700+ women attending, is now averaging close to 2,000. In addition, we know that at least 40%+ of the attendees come back year after year. The fact that women and the men who attend are that interested every year is, by itself, a success story.

Second, the conferences have spurred a number of professional collaborations that assist those from the research community and ensure that they are both not reinventing the wheel, as well as maximizing the use of their grant dollars. This occurred because speakers at the conference compare notes, and in some cases, create new collaborative efforts to maximize their impact.

Third, our conference has helped launch a number of speakers into the mainstream, where the media finds out about them and helps increase their visibility – and, more important, their message. In the end, women learn more and we are able to increase the number of women we can reach.

Finally, we added the Pittsburgh conference this year, and I hope we will add more in the future!

KVH: What one issue concerning health and the environment should women especially educate themselves about?

THK: It is hard to pick one issue, but toxins would have to be the one I would encourage all women to focus on. The thought that we have toxins in food, cosmetics, water, and air can be overwhelming, but we do have some control over what goes into or onto our bodies.

Several organizations have set up online resource centers for consumer awareness. The Safe Cosmetics Campaign has a linked page, put together by the Environmental Working Group, where you can check out the products we all use, to see what toxins they contain.

Food concerns are on all our minds lately. Check out the Center for Science in the Public Interest; they maintain up-to-the-minute information on food toxins. The first rule about food: the more processed the food is, the greater the possibility it is dangerous. When you can, eat as much locally grown and organic food as possible.

I am told that almost all freshwater fish is contaminated in some ways, but eating fish is still healthier than an all-meat diet. Keep up with the latest on which fish are better and which are worse for you at: OceansAlive.org

In general, the lower on the food chain a fish is, the safer it is to eat. Those fish at the top of food chain (swordfish is a good example) have fewer predators and therefore accumulate toxins over time.

KVH: In the first issue of your newsletter Women’s Health and Environment News, you talk about the need to move towards collaborative solutions to the problem of managing chemicals – bringing all interested parties to the table instead of relying on post-exposure litigation as the main mechanism for regulating chemicals. Do you have any more specific thoughts or proposals for how we can move forward in that direction?

THK: A number of years ago, the Heinz Center was created to focus on issues that are likely to confront policymakers within two to five years. The Center creates and fosters collaboration among industry, environmental organizations, academia, and government in each of its program areas and projects. The active involvement of these four sectors in all aspects of environmental policymaking—from identification of a problem through the crafting of recommendations to implementation of a policy—produces robust solutions to the environmental challenges that face the Nation. This philosophy, and its implementation in the Center’s everyday operations, means that leading policymakers and practitioners from government, industry, environmental organizations, and universities are able to work together to identify pressing environmental challenges and to agree upon ways of meeting those challenges. This is a model that has a proven track record – and one that allows all parties, whether they agree or not, to come together to seek solutions.

I'd like to thank Teresa Heinz Kerry for making a blog tour stop here. Be sure to tune in tomorrow when the blog tour comes to Culture Kitchen!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Teresa Heinz Kerry Blog Tour Progress

Teresa Heinz Kerry's blog tour in support of the Conference on Women's Health and The Environment made its 6th stop today with a lovely post at the blog John Kerry Is My Hero.

Check out the blog tour schedule to see all the stops so far, and be sure to check it out tomorrow when the tour comes to The Democratic Daily.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Climate Change Called a Security Threat, Kerry Calls for Congress to Act

A panel of retired generals and admirals warned yesterday that "Global warming poses a "serious threat to America's national security" and the military should act now to minimize the destabilizing consequences of rising temperatures."
Shortages of food and water could cause weak governments to collapse, increasingly severe natural disasters could draw U.S. forces into humanitarian missions in volatile areas, and melting Arctic ice could spark territorial disputes over shipping routes and natural resources.

Even the effectiveness of sonar used by American submarines could be at risk if parts of the oceans become less salty.

The 63-page report describes climate change as a "threat multiplier" that makes dangerous situations around the world all the more menacing.

"We will pay for this one way or another," said retired Marine Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, who commanded U.S. forces in the Middle East. "We will pay to reduce greenhouse gas emissions today … or we'll pay the price later in military terms. And that will involve human lives."

Senator John Kerry wrote to the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Joseph Biden (D-Del.) today, requesting that the Committee hold a hearing on the implications that the growing threat of global climate change has on our national security. Kerry's letter comes in the wake of the report noted above that called “National Security and the Threat of Climate Change” that found that global warming presents a serious national security threat. Below is text of Kerry’s letter:
April 17, 2007

The Honorable Joseph Biden
Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
201 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Biden:

I know that you and I share a commitment to addressing global climate change, and I appreciate every opportunity to work together to combat this pressing issue.

As you know, a blue-ribbon panel of retired three- and four-star admirals and generals released a report earlier this week entitled “National Security and the Threat of Climate Change.” The report found that global warming presents a serious national security threat that could affect Americans at home, impact U.S. military operations and heighten global tensions.

Specifically, the report warns that the effects of global warming could lead to large-scale migrations, increased border tensions, the spread of disease and conflicts over food and water – all of which could eventually lead to direct US military involvement. The report recommends that climate change be integrated into the nation’s security strategies and says the United States “should commit to a stronger national and international role to help stabilize climate changes at levels that will avoid significant disruption to global security and stability.”

Given these clear implications for United States foreign policy, I respectfully request that the Foreign Relations Committee hold a hearing on this issue, with the specific goal of exploring the implications of climate change – including rising ocean levels, droughts and violent weather – on our national security.

I look forward to working with you on this issue.


John F. Kerry

Science Daily notes that the "full report will be available on SecurityAndClimate.cna.org." Jonathan Powers weighs in on the issue on the HuffPo. And, Environmental News Service has more here.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Inspired Readers Line Up to Greet Kerry at Santa Fe Bookstore

More news on John Kerry's visit Saturday to Santa Fe, NM...

The New Mexican reports that a group of 350 "inspired readers" lined up to greet Kerry at the bookstore in Santa Fe where he was scheduled for a booksigning for "This Moment On Earth," with wife and co-author, Teresa Heinz Kerry.

U.S. Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., showed up, as did Gilbert Armenta and Tweeti and Linn Blancett, New Mexico ranchers featured in Kerry's book.

Kerry said he and his wife wrote the book because they were frustrated about the way many people inaccurately perceived the environmental movement.

Udall said he has read several excerpts from the work and thinks it is great. Through sales of the book, Udall said, Kerry is helping to put together a broad coalition to fight environmental problems.
Read more »

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Every Little Bit Counts: Kerry Headlines Bulb-swapping Event

John Kerry was in Santa Fe, NM on Saturday to promote his new book "This Moment On Earth," which he co-wrote with his wife Teresa Heinz Kerry. The NewMexican.com reports that "hundreds of people showed up at a Santa Fe city park Saturday to get energy-efficient light bulbs and to hear the Democratic Party's 2004 presidential nominee talk about global warming."

U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., told the crowd at Franklin Miles Park that he wants voters to elect politicians in 2008 who are going to make a difference on the issue.

"I'm sick and tired of these people talking about families and values when they're not willing to protect them in this most fundamental way," Kerry said.

The 6-foot-4 senator arrived at the event in the back seat of a green 2007 Toyota Prius, eating a chocolate-covered ice-cream bar on a stick. He made the stop while on his way to join his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, at a Santa Fe bookstore to promote their newly published This Moment on Earth.

Before Kerry arrived at the park, Carol Oldham, regional representative for the Sierra Club and an organizer of the event, said so many people showed up to swap old incandescent light bulbs for energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs that the organizers gave away all of the 1,500 light bulbs they had on hand.

The event in Santa Fe was part of a national effort by Step-It-Up, "a national organization dedicated to reducing the global warming problem."
Read more »

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Kerry and Gingrich Face Off on Climate Change

John Kerry and Newt Gingrich faced off this morning "in a friendly exchange" on the issue of Global Warming in a debate on Capitol Hill.

They began by promoting each other's books. Gingrich said Kerry's new book, "This Moment on Earth: Today's New Environmentalists and Their Vision for the Future," is "a very interesting read" and said he agrees with 60 percent of it. Kerry hasn't read Gingrich's new book on the environment, due out later this year, but said he has always enjoyed their exchanges.

Then the two argued for nearly two hours about whether the government should cap emissions of greenhouse gases or whether tax breaks will encourage businesses to do so.

Kerry said no environmental crisis has ever been solved voluntarily, without government intervention. "That's like saying, 'Barry Bonds, go investigate steroids,' or letting Enron take control of pensions," said the Massachusetts senator and 2004 Democratic presidential nominee.

Libby Quaid reports for AP News, "The arguments were typical for their political parties, although Gingrich is farther to the left of some Republicans who dispute the science behind climate change."
Kerry asked what Gingrich would say to Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., who calls global warming a hoax.

"My message, I think, is that the evidence is sufficient that we should move toward the most effective possible steps to reduce carbon loading in the atmosphere," Gingrich replied.

He explained that conservatives often worry that the prescription for environmental problems will be bigger government and higher taxes.

Continue reading about the debate here.

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Monday, April 09, 2007

'This Week' with George Stephanopoulos: John Kerry and Teresa Heinz Kerry Take on Environmental Issues

John and Teresa Heinz Kerry were on 'This Week' with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday talking about their new book, "This Moment on Earth," which I have posted quite a bit about here on The Dem Daily. John Kerry, as George Stephanopoulos noted on the show, had decided in January, not to make a another run for the White House. Now, "the Kerrys are campaigning for the cause that first brought them together — the environment."
The couple's new book, "This Moment on Earth," highlights ordinary people from a New Mexico rancher to an artist raised in the South Bronx who are confronting the challenge. The couple is out to prove that environmentalism is not elitist.


The transcript of the interview is as follows:
"This Week"'s George Stephanopoulos met them at their Washington home.

John Kerry: The environment movement's been viewed by a lot of Americans as not being "about me." What this book tries to do is point out the ways in which it's about everybody and that it's not sort of a small group and some niche in some community where you have the time or the money to care about it. This is about everyday America. This is about moms and pops in North Carolina and Mississippi and places where people may be breathing bad air or getting sick from wells that are polluted or losing their fish in their lakes and their backyard playground because of what's happening.

Stephanopoulos: You've gone out and found individuals all across the country who've made this their fight. How did you find them?

Teresa Kerry: We've met a lot of people during the campaign, of course, in a variety of fields. I particularly, because of my interests, I was mostly in health, environment and health, cancer, et cetera, toxins, water, as well as some green building spaces, indoor design, as well as outdoor, meaning indoor health, as well as outdoor health.

Read the full transcript here.

  • The Importance of Being Green

  • John and Teresa Heinz Kerry on the Tavis Smiley Show

  • In The Green Room with John Kerry at the Tavis Smiley Show

  • Kerrys Go Over the Heads of Political Elite

  • John Kerry and Teresa Heinz Kerry: ‘Too Much Hot Air on Global Warming’

  • John and Teresa Heinz Kerry Talk with Bill O’Reilly on ‘The O’Reilly Factor’

  • Chatting With John and Teresa Heinz Kerry about ‘This Moment On Earth’

  • Quote of the Day: “How to Stop Bitching and Start a Green Revolution”

  • John Kerry on The Daily Show

  • ‘This Moment On Earth’ Momentum

  • John and Teresa Heinz Kerry Discuss ‘This Moment On Earth’ on ‘The Today Show’

  • The Kerry’s Discuss ‘This Moment On Earth’ on ‘Imus In The Morning’

  • John Kerry Addresses Global Climate Change Conference

  • This Moment On Earth

  • IPCC Calls Global Warming ‘Unequivocal’ - Kerry Says Report Shows It Is Time To Take Action

  • Kerry, Gore and the Environment
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    Sunday, April 08, 2007

    The Importance of Being Green

    Vanity Fair's new 2nd annual Green Issue is available at newstands and online:

    It's all about "The Importance of Being Green," which is still a concept that some folks don't get. But, as I have noted here recently, these folks do and thank goodness for that. Take some time and start being part of the change that is neccessary, because the "Earth faces a grim future if global warming isn't slowed."

    On Friday, the Bush Administration tried to whitewash the latest international reports warning of climate change repercussions. John Kerry shot back with this statement:
    “This is the latest example of the Bush Administration trying to change the science to fit their ideological agenda. It’s an embarrassment. Restoring American leadership in the world means we should be the world's leading advocate, not the world's leading denier of climate change. We should lead the world to address climate change rather than joining with Saudi Arabia as the leader of the flat earth caucus. This is the latest chapter in the Bush Administration story of diplomacy at its worst -- ducking the difficult choices, substituting words for deeds, postponing the reckoning until the day after tomorrow. The world is changing and now the reckoning is real. Here's the bottom line: within the next decade, if we don't deal with global warming, our children and grandchildren will have to deal with global catastrophe. It is time to start leading, not retreating from our responsibility.”

    Today’s report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns of the global effects of climate change, including extreme weather patterns, increasing droughts that lead to famine and disease, massive floods and avalanches in Asia, and species extinction unless significant action is taken on a global level to abate climate change.

    During the past six years, the Bush Administration has made several attempts to block or censure government employees or reports that warn of global warming. The United States, Saudi Arabia and China worked to tone down the panel’s report, leading many of the report’s most alarming projections to be generalized."

    The bottomline is we've all got to start doing the little things that add up to change, because we've only got "This Moment On Earth," and if we blow it... among other things, the worst effects of climate change "would be felt in regions that are mainly poor and already facing dangers from existing climate and coastal hazards."

    We can all make a difference in little ways and that difference will add up to an important change. That's the message of the Kerry's new book, "This Moment On Earth," it's all about "The Importance of Being Green."

    Would The Enemy Follow Us Here?

    Bush loves to proclaim we're fighting them over there so they don't follow us here. But the question is, would they really follow us here? Probably not... Bush's favorite line, which he "repeated Wednesday in a speech to troops at California's Fort Irwin, suggests a chilling picture of warfare on American streets." William Douglas asks in an in a McClatchy Newspapers piece, "But is it true?"
    Military and diplomatic analysts say it isn't. They accuse Bush of exaggerating the threat that enemy forces in Iraq pose to the U.S. mainland.

    “The president is using a primitive, inarticulate argument that leaves him open to criticism and caricature,” said James Jay Carafano, a homeland security and counterterrorism expert for the Heritage Foundation, a conservative policy organization. “It’s a poor choice of words that doesn’t convey the essence of the problem - that walking away from a problem doesn’t solve anything.”

    U.S. military, intelligence and diplomatic experts in Bush's own government say the violence in Iraq is primarily a struggle for power between Shiite and Sunni Muslim Iraqis seeking to dominate their society, not a crusade by radical Sunni jihadists bent on carrying the battle to the United States.

    Foreign-born jihadists are present in Iraq, but they're believed to number only between 4 percent and 10 percent of the estimated 30,000 insurgent fighters - 1,200 to 3,000 terrorists - according to the Defense Intelligence Agency and a recent study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a center-right research center.

    “Attacks by terrorist groups account for only a fraction of insurgent violence,” said a February DIA report.

    While acknowledging that terrorists could commit a catastrophic act on U.S. soil at any time - whether U.S. forces are in Iraq or not - the likelihood that enemy combatants from Iraq might follow departing U.S. forces back to the United States is remote at best, experts say.

    James Lewis, a U.S. foreign policy analyst at CSIS, called Bush’s assertion oversimplistic, but added that there’s a slight chance a few enemy combatants could make their way to the United States after a U.S. troop withdrawal.

    “There’s a grain of truth in Bush saying it’s better to fight them there rather than here, but it’s also overstated,” Lewis said. “It’s not like there’s going to be gun battles in the United States.”

    Daniel Benjamin, the director of the Center on the United States and Europe at The Brookings Institution, a center-left think tank, agreed.

    “There are very few foreign fighters who are going to be leaving the area because they don’t have the skills or languages that would give them access to the United States,” said Benjamin, who served as the National Security Council’s director for transnational threats from 1998 to 1999. “I’m not saying events in Iraq aren’t going to embolden jihadists. But I think the president’s formulations call for a leap of faith.”

    One U.S. intelligence official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, takes it a step further saying, "The war in Iraq isn't preventing terrorist attacks on America. If anything, that - along with the way we've been treating terrorist suspects - may be inspiring more Muslims to think of us as the enemy."

    John Kerry has said time and time again that Bush's policies are emboldening the terrorists. Once again we see that "Kerry is right." It's time to bring the troops home. Politics are colliding with the reality in Iraq. A military victory is not possible in Iraq.

    John and Teresa Heinz Kerry on the Tavis Smiley Show

    As I wrote here yesterday, I was the guest of the Kerry's on Wednesday, for the taping of their interview on the Tavis Smiley Show which aired last night on KCET in Los Angeles. I took notes while the show was taping, but had been asked not to blog about the show until it aired. Respectful of that request, now that the show has aired, I know that folks who aren't in the L.A. area couldn't watch the show and have been dying to know what was said in the interview.

    Tavis started the interview off with a bang by asking Kerry a few political questions including about the "Kerry Was Right" admission from Matthew Dowd in Sunday's N.Y. Times. Here's a brief part of the interchange:
    TS: Is it just me or are you like the most vindicated man in America right now?

    JK: Well, that's up for other people to decide, not me... I think it's just inappropriate for me to be running around talking vindication, but I am concerned about getting the policy right in Iraq and this administration is still on the wrong track. And, I'm deeply concerned about as you know, Teresa and I about the lack of adequate response on a host of domestic issues, environment, healthcare, education and others... We're going backwards my friend.

    TS: Matt Dowd in the NY Times on Sunday... Kerry was right...

    Smiley also noted the who asked who about McCain as a possible VP for Kerry dustup that originated in the blogosphere the day before the interview was taped. In a nutshell, Kerry's response was this, "The who did what is not a great use of time, Tavis to be honest with you. The more important question is John McCain's position on Iraq. I believe it is fundamentally flawed."

    I think the Kerry's would rather be talking about their book right now that past politics and other isses, as pertinent as they may be. But as Smiley noted in the beginning of the interview, it's hard to have John Kerry on show and not ask political questions. Tavis Smiley did manage to devote far more time discussing the Kerry's book, "This Moment On Earth," than some of the other recent interviews have.

    The interview is far batter than I can do justice with quips and quotes... So, rather than post my notes, the audio is up now and I encourage readers to listen here. Note also, there's a very important admission from Tavis Smiley in the interview, that I was told from one his producers that he has never admitted to on air so take the time to listen to the interview.

    Finally it was my impression that the Tavis Smiley Show would be providing a video at some point, if and when it becomes available I will post it here. And... I still have more to come on the the Kerry's west coast stops on their book, so stay tuned...


    The Smackdown: Kerry and Gingrich to Debate Global Warming

    Prepare for the smackdown... John Kerry and former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich are scheduled to go a few rounds next Tuesday in a debate on Global Warming.

    The debate is scheduled to take place in Washington, D.C. from from 10:00 am to 12:oo pm on April 1o. It is "part of the Brademas Center exploratory series, “Legislating for the Future,” which is cosponsored by The Brookings Institution and RAND Corporation."

    John Kerry said in a statement, "We need a real debate. It is time to stop debating fiction writers, oil executives and flat-earth politicians, and actually talk about how to address global climate change."
    "Newt’s a guy who has spent a lot of time wrestling with climate change and the environment. He reads about it, he teaches about it, he writes about it,” Kerry said Thursday. “We don’t see eye to eye about everything, obviously, but that’s what makes for a good debate.

    “As a father, when someone tells me that within the next decade, if we don't deal with global warming, our children and grandchildren may deal with global catastrophe, that tells me I damn well better do whatever I can to help make Washington deal with this responsibly,” Kerry added. “We need these good old-fashioned debates and forums and discussions to get everyone thinking creatively on both sides of the aisle.”

    CNN reports:
    On his Web site, Gingrich wrote he believes that the world's climate has changed suddenly. He encouraged the federal government to establish environmental standards and he favors new technology to find alternative energy sources. But he still remains a little skeptical on what is actually causing the climate change.

    "The history and science of climate change is far more complex and uncertain than the politically driven mass hysteria of scientists who sign on to ads about a topic for which they have no scientific proof," Gingrich wrote on his website.

    On the WaPo's The Sleuth Blog, MaryAnn Akers notes:
    Gingrich, who still hasn't ruled out a presidential run, and Kerry are both skilled orators and debaters. (They're practically poster children for the National Forensic League, aka the high school speech and debate club.) And both, perhaps Gingrich more than Kerry, are convinced they know best...

    Kerry deputy chief of staff David Wade says, "but maybe debating the fragile future of our planet is reason enough to come early for a ringside seat."

    No word yet as whether this will be picked up by C-SPAN or any of the news media. I'd love to be able to fly in for one of those ringside seats David Wade mentions, but I have a busy week a head next week. Regardless, look for Kerry, who has long advocated for change on the Global Warming issue to issue a righteous smackdown to Newt in the first round and then keep it coming.

    Tuesday, April 03, 2007

    John and Teresa Heinz Kerry Talk with Bill O’Reilly on ‘The O’Reilly Factor’

    John and Teresa Heniz Kerry were on 'The O'Reilly Factor' to discuss their new book, "This Moment On Earth" last night. O'Reilly veered off course for the first half of the interview and pulled the Senator into a discussion on the situation with Iran. It's surprising, but not, that O'Reilly failed to touch on the subject of yesterday's Supreme Court decision that in effect "gave new momentum to Congressional efforts to control heat-trapping gases linked to climate change." John Kerry's response to the Supreme Court decision yesterday is here.

    I've just started reading "This Moment On Earth" and the one thing I'd like to see is folks like Bill O'Reilly and Meredith Vieira actually give the Kerry's the chance to discuss their book on these interviews, instead of other current events. This is a great book that is both inspiring and enlightening. It's no small wonder it's ranked the #1 bestseller on Amazon.com in non-fiction books!


    The transcript of the interview is available here.

    Monday, April 02, 2007

    John Kerry Joins Reid as Co-Sponsor of Feingold Measure to Change Course in Iraq

    Today, Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced that they are introducing new legislation that will "effectively end the current military mission in Iraq and begin the redeployment of U.S. forces."
    The bill requires the President to begin safely redeploying U.S. troops from Iraq 120 days from enactment, as required by the emergency supplemental spending bill the Senate passed last week. The bill ends funding for the war, with three narrow exceptions, effective March 31, 2008.

    John Kerry (D-Mass.) announced a short time ago that he will cosponsor the legislation introduced by Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) and Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to enforce a deadline for the redeployment of US troops. Kerry said in a statement:
    “President Bush has once again decided to ignore reality and ignore the will of Congress by pledging to veto a new policy for Iraq,” said Kerry. “In the face of the Administration’s stubborn unwillingness to change course, the Senate has no choice but to force a change of course. Our brave American troops deserve nothing less than a policy that is equal to their sacrifice.

    “I am pleased to be an original co-sponsor of legislation that Senator Feingold plans to introduce which will change the military mission and enforce the Senate’s one year deadline for redeploying most U.S. troops from Iraq. The message it sends is simple: no more open ended commitment, no more putting American troops in the middle of an Iraqi civil war. The American mission in Iraq will be to train Iraqis and chase Al Qaeda, not do for Iraqis what they must do for themselves. With this legislation, the Senate makes it clear we mean business.

    “There is no military solution to the violence in Iraq, and a meaningful deadline is necessary to get Iraqis to stand up for Iraq and start making tough political compromises. I look forward to continuing the fight for a policy that can work in Iraq.”

    AP News offered an exclusive with Henry Kissinger today, as noted here earlier, in which Kissinger echoed Kerry and said that "military victory not possible in Iraq." John Kerry was an original co-sponsor with Senator Feingold in June of 2006 of legislation to set a one year deadline for the redeployment of most American combat troops. The original Kerry-Feingold legislation garnered 13 votes, and last week a similar bill earned a majority.

    The language of the Feingold legislation reads:
    (a) Transition of Mission - The President shall promptly transition the mission of United States forces in Iraq to the limited purposes set forth in subsection (d).

    (b) Commencement of Safe, Phased Redeployment from Iraq - The President shall commence the safe, phased redeployment of United States forces from Iraq that are not essential to the purposes set forth in subsection (d). Such redeployment shall begin not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.

    (c) Prohibition on Use of Funds - No funds appropriated or otherwise made available under any provision of law may be obligated or expended to continue the deployment in Iraq of members of the United States Armed Forces after March 31, 2008.

    (d) Exception for Limited Purposes - The prohibition under subsection (c) shall not apply to the obligation or expenditure of funds for the limited purposes as follows:

    (1) To conduct targeted operations, limited in duration and scope, against members of al Qaeda and other international terrorist organizations.

    (2) To provide security for United States infrastructure and personnel.

    (3) To train and equip Iraqi security services.

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    Henry Kissinger: Military Victory Not Possible in Iraq

    Henry Kissinger, "who helped engineer the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam" broke with the Bush Administration on Sunday and said, "the problems in Iraq are more complex than that conflict, and military victory is no longer possible."

    In an AP News exclusive, Kissinger noted that "A 'military victory' in the sense of total control over the whole territory, imposed on the entire population, is not possible."
    The faceless, ubiquitous nature of Iraq's insurgency, as well as the religious divide between Shiite and Sunni rivals, makes negotiating peace more complex, he said.

    "It is a more complicated problem," Kissinger said. "The Vietnam War involved states, and you could negotiate with leaders who controlled a defined area."

    But Kissinger, an architect of the Vietnam War who has also advised Bush on Iraq, warned that a sudden pullout of U.S. troops or loss of influence could unleash chaos.

    "I am basically sympathetic to President Bush," he said. "I am partly sympathetic to it because I have seen comparable situations."

    During his tenure under President Richard Nixon, first as national security adviser and then as secretary of state, Kissinger faced a similar challenge in formulating policy for a Vietnam War that was increasingly unpopular at home.

    He oversaw a gradual U.S. pullout from Vietnam through a strategy also planned for Iraq, where U.S. troops are training their Iraqi counterparts to take fuller control of security. He also negotiated directly with North Vietnamese leaders on ending the conflict.

    Kissinger said in the interview, echoing what John Kerry has been saying for a very long time that, "the best way forward is to reconcile the differences between Iraq's warring sects with help from other countries." He also "applauded efforts to host an international conference bringing together the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Iraq's neighbors, "including bringing Iran to the table, as Kerry has suggested.
    "That is the sort of framework out of which it is conceivable that an agreement should emerge," Kissinger said. "One needs to be prepared to negotiate with adversaries."

    Saying that the "fighting in Iraq is likely to continue for years," Kissinger also said, "that America's national interest requires an end to partisan bickering at home over war policy."
    "The role of America in the world cannot be defined by our internal partisan quarrels," he said. "All the leaders, both Republican and Democratic, have to remember that it will go on for several more years and find some basis for common action."

    It's doubtful that the Bush Administration will heed Kissinger's comments, but they would be wise to do so. It's painfully obvious that they are on the wrong course and with more and more prominent Republican coming forward and breaking with the Bush Adminstration on Iraq, we can only hope that the Bush Administration will begin to listen.

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    John Kerry on the Supreme Court Rebuke of Bush Administration on MA vs. EPA

    In an environmental victory, the Supreme Court ruled today that "Because greenhouse gases fit well within the Clean Air Act's capacious definition of 'air pollutant' we hold that EPA has the statutory authority to regulate the emission of such gases from new motor vehicles."

    The decision was a sharp rebuke to the Bush Administration on their Global Warming policy, as the Supreme Court ordered the federal government "to take a fresh look at regulating carbon dioxide emissions from cars."
    In a 5-4 decision, the court said the Clean Air Act gives the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from cars.

    Greenhouse gases are air pollutants under the landmark environmental law, Justice John Paul Stevens said in his majority opinion.

    The court's four conservative justices _ Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas _ dissented.

    John Kerry made the following statement after the Supreme Court ruled that the Clean Air Act gives the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to regulate the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from cars:
    “It’s an historic moment when the Supreme Court has to step in to protect the environment from the Bush Administration. Now that the White House must go back and take a fresh look at regulating greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles, they must take the challenge seriously.

    “Science tells us we have a 10 year window in which to avoid a climate change catastrophe. The time to act is now. Massachusetts has led the way, the Supreme Court has spoken, Americans are making themselves heard, and we’re going to keep fighting until a serious solution to climate change is enacted.”

    Mark Sherman, reporting for AP News noted that "The politics of global warming have changed dramatically since the court agreed last year to hear its first global warming case."

    The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 13 environmental groups, and 11 other states all claimed a victory today, in their law suit against the EPA from last year. The Supreme Court weighed three questions in their decision:
    _Do states have the right to sue the EPA to challenge its decision?

    _Does the Clean Air Act give EPA the authority to regulate tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gases?

    _Does EPA have the discretion not to regulate those emissions?

    The court said yes to the first two questions. On the third, it ordered EPA to re-evaluate its contention that it has the discretion not to regulate tailpipe emissions. The court said the agency has so far provided a "laundry list" of reasons that include foreign policy considerations.

    The majority said the agency must tie its rationale more closely to the Clean Air Act.

    "EPA has offered no reasoned explanation for its refusal to decide whether greenhouse gases cause or contribute to climate change," Stevens said. He was joined by his liberal colleagues, Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter, and the court's swing voter, Justice Anthony Kennedy.

    Sunday, April 01, 2007

    Former Bush Strategist Dowd: “Kerry Was Right” on Iraq

    Ouch! Matthew Dowd has had a wake up call since leaving the Bush Administration and it's a real slap in the face to Dubya. Dowd, in 1999, became the poster child of "Bush’s early success at positioning himself as a Republican with Democratic appeal." Now he's looking back and he says "his faith in Mr. Bush was misplaced." Talk about your understatements... Dowd told the N.Y. Times in a "wide-ranging" interview that "he hoped in part that by coming forward he would be able to get a message through to a presidential inner sanctum that he views as increasingly isolated."
    But, he said, he holds out no great hope.

    Evidently he's learned the hard way...
    In the last several years, as he has gradually broken his ties with the Bush camp, one of Mr. Dowd’s premature twin daughters died, he was divorced, and he watched his oldest son prepare for deployment to Iraq as an Army intelligence specialist fluent in Arabic. Mr. Dowd said he had become so disillusioned with the war that he had considered joining street demonstrations against it, but that his continued personal affection for the president had kept him from joining protests whose anti-Bush fervor is so central.

    Dowd claims to be a "big believer that in part what we’re called to do," he says, "to me, by God; other people call it karma — is to restore balance when things didn’t turn out the way they should have." We could all sound the "too little - too late" rally cry here -- but the truth is we can't change the past.

    Now, claiming exposing his feelings about Bush did not "come easily," Dowd was able to get to the realization that so many have shared, "Kerry Was Right" on Iraq and he told the N.Y. Times that his "disappointment in Mr. Bush’s presidency is so great that he feels a sense of duty to go public given his role in helping Mr. Bush gain and keep power."
    Mr. Dowd, a crucial part of a team that cast Senator John Kerry as a flip-flopper who could not be trusted with national security during wartime, said he had even written but never submitted an op-ed article titled “Kerry Was Right,” arguing that Mr. Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat and 2004 presidential candidate, was correct in calling last year for a withdrawal from Iraq.

    And yes, he admits he had doubts even in '04:
    In television interviews in 2004, Mr. Dowd said that Mr. Kerry’s campaign was proposing “a weak defense,” and that the voters “trust this president more than they trust Senator Kerry on Iraq.”

    But he was starting to have his own doubts by then, he said.

    He said he thought Mr. Bush handled the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks well but “missed a real opportunity to call the country to a shared sense of sacrifice.”

    He was dumbfounded when Mr. Bush did not fire Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld after revelations that American soldiers had tortured prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

    So, we'll see what he does now with his Karmic wake up call that is causing him to call "for “gentleness” in politics."
    He said that while he tried to keep his own conduct respectful during political combat, he wanted to “do my part in fixing fissures that I may have been part of.”

    His views against the war began to harden last spring when, in a personal exercise, he wrote a draft opinion article and found himself agreeing with Mr. Kerry’s call for withdrawal from Iraq. He acknowledged that the expected deployment of his son Daniel was an important factor.

    He said the president’s announcement last fall that he was re-nominating the former United Nations ambassador John R. Bolton, whose confirmation Democrats had already refused, was further proof to him that Mr. Bush was not seeking consensus with Democrats.

    He said he came to believe Mr. Bush’s views were hardening, with the reinforcement of his inner circle. But, he said, the person “who is ultimately responsible is the president.” And he gradually ventured out with criticism, going so far as declaring last month in a short essay in Texas Monthly magazine that Mr. Bush was losing “his gut-level bond with the American people,” and breaking more fully in this week’s interview.

    “If the American public says they’re done with something, our leaders have to understand what they want,” Mr. Dowd said. “They’re saying, ‘Get out of Iraq.’ ”

    Some how I doubt Dowd will pick up the phone and call the good Senator from Massachusetts with an apology and an affirmation that he was wrong in supporting Bush in '04 and wrong in the way he portrayed Kerry. The revelation in the N.Y. Times is perhaps as far as he'll take it, but on that, I could be wrong. Regardless it's sweet vindication in my opinion for John Kerry, that one who labored so hard against his campaign can now look back and admit "Kerry Was Right." Because the truth is, "Kerry Was Right" on Iraq and so many issues since '04, as chronicled here on the Dem Daily over the past year and half.

    So Dowd, feels a "calling of trying to re-establish a level of gentleness in the world.” Good for him. I hope he sticks with it, because we've seen enough ugliness under the Bush Administration to last a few generations. I know that's something John Kerry would agree on for as he's said so many times, quoting the great poet Langston Hughes, "It's time to 'Let America be America again.'" On that count too, Kerry is right.

    Chatting With John and Teresa Heinz Kerry about ‘This Moment On Earth’

    John and Teresa Heinz Kerry have been busy, busy, busy the past few days promoting their new environmental book, 'This Moment On Earth,' and included in their interviews was a great little chat with Amanda Griscom Little of Grist.

    Little starts out her interview with a nice little quip about how John and Teresa met, and the fact that the "environment brought them together." Both John and Teresa have a rich history as environmentalists and now, Little notes, the "the political power couple has refocused on the issue that inspires them both."
    The book is emphatically optimistic about the green movement: "environmentalism isn't dead," they write, "it's just being reborn -- the very idea of what it means to be an 'environmentalist' is being revolutionized. People from all walks of life, without concern for party or ideological lines, are coming together in unprecedented numbers across the globe."

    The duo introduce readers to people like Ellen Parker, a social worker from Cape Cod who battles cancer-linked pollutants, and Helen Reddout, an orchard owner in Washington state who struggles against fecal runoff from nearby dairy farms. Better-known figures like attorney and activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and green architect and designer Bill McDonough also make appearances. Throughout, the authors weave in their own experiences with the natural world -- from Heinz Kerry's childhood in the wilds of Mozambique to Sen. Kerry's environmental advocacy on Capitol Hill.

    Last week they spoke with me from their home in Washington, D.C., about the characters in their book, their 2004 campaign experience, and the role the environment will play in the next presidential election.

    The complete Grist interview is available here.

    The Kerry’s also took some time out today to do a conference call with a few bloggers in conjunction with their book tour and their upcoming book signing event on Monday, April 2, at the Bagdad Theatre in Portland, OR. Sandy at LightUpTheDarkness.org has a wonderful post on the conference call here and the Rev. Chuck Currie has a post here with a Podcast of the call here. And Rick Albertson of DCP throws in his 2 cents here. Great stuff from all the bloggers!

    'This Moment on Earth' has gained some serious momentum in book sales on Amazon.com since it's release on Monday, as of this posting it's ranked #32 in books and is the #1 bestseller on the Amazon.com in Outdoors & Nature books.

    The Kerry's book tour will bring them to Seattle, WA on April 3, Los Angeles on April 4, San Francisco on April 5, Austin, TX on April 6, Santa Fe, NM on April 14, Denver, CO on April 15, and Cambridge, MA on April 21.

    I just received my copy of 'This Moment On Earth,' today and I plan on digging into it, as soon as this is posted. I'll be at the Los Angeles book event on April 4th and will have a full report here after the event.

    I'm thrilled to see the book great such wonderful reviews and happy to see the Kerry's out making the rounds to promote such an important book with such a powerful message. As John Kerry said in a post on the Daily Kos yesterday, referencing the Bush administration, "that even more dangerous about this administration’s assault on the environment is the assumption on which that assault relies: they think people don’t care...
    That’s why Teresa and I spent the last year working on our new book. We want to show the true face of the new environmentalism. We talked to a ton of people who are fighting for a clean, safe, healthy environment. They may not label themselves environmentalists or activists but labels aren’t important. What is important is that we’re all fighting for the same thing: a clean, safe healthy environment.

    Finally, I want to remind everyone about Teresa Heinz Kerry's upcoming 11th Annual Conference on Women’s Health and the Environment in Pittsburgh on April 20. The Democratic Daily will be featuring an interview with Teresa Heinz Kerry in conjunction with the conference on April 20.

    Every moment on this earth is precious. I learned that as a young child growing up in rural Massachusetts decades ago. My parents, children of the depression era had a great love and respect for the earth, our Mother, that they instilled in each of their four daughters and I in turn have managed to instill in my daughter, living here in Los Angeles. Take the time to treat her well, because truly it is the earth that sustains us.