Friday, September 28, 2007

Rush Indignation

Rush indignation... it's everywhere... from TPM Election Central: Breaking: White House Faults Rush Limbaugh Over "Phony Soldiers" Comment... That's right... Even the White House didn't get Rush's back on this:

Here's a round-up of posts on Limbaugh's "phoney soldiers" smear:

Media Matters: Limbaugh falsely recasts "phony soldiers" smear

TPM Election Central: Exclusive: Dem Rep To Introduce House Resolution Condemning Rush Limbaugh On Monday

Swampland: Re: Phony Soliders

Think Progress: Senate Democratic Leaders Demand Apology For Limbaugh’s ‘Outrageous,’ ‘Unconscionable’ Remarks

CNN's Political Ticker: Dems seize on Limbaugh's 'phony soldiers' comment... On Thursday, John Kerry, a "veteran of the Vietnam War, called the comments a "disgusting attack.""

In a single moment on his show, Limbaugh managed to question the patriotism of men and women in uniform who have put their lives on the line and many who died for his right to sit safely in his air-conditioned studio peddling hate," Kerry said in a statement. "He is an embarrassment to his party, and I expect the Republicans who flock to his microphone will now condemn this indefensible statement.”

VoteVets Respond to Rush:

Cross posted from The Democratic Daily.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Bush Declares War on Bipartisan Bill to Provide Health Insurance to Children

John Kerry says all there is to say and then some, about Bush's plan to veto the SCHIP bill...

Four days from now, a wildly successful effort to provide healthcare to 6 million low-income children will disappear.

This summer, in a rare moment of bipartisanship, Democrats and Republicans in Congress came together to expand the State Children’s Insurance Program (known as SCHIP) to provide healthcare to millions more children. It was a simple test of priorities, and both sides agreed to put kids first.

Unfortunately, President Bush has chosen a different course. He is putting ideology and political confrontation ahead of the health of our nation’s children, has unilaterally declared war on SCHIP, and is threatening to veto the bipartisan bill.

If the president follows through on his threat, his stubbornness will carry a serious price for American families. Health insurance for millions of children is on the line, and we know what happens when children lack access to proper care: Minor conditions become costly chronic diseases and preventable illnesses can even claim the greatest cost — the life of a child.

That is why Congress rose above partisan divisions to pass a bill expanding coverage to 3 million additional children — 2 million of them poor enough to be eligible for Medicaid, but still uninsured.

President Bush is not even willing to spend enough to retain the children who are currently on the SCHIP rolls. Make no mistake: Under the president’s proposal, kids will be kicked off SCHIP, and they will go uninsured.

Unfortunately, this president’s war on SCHIP doesn’t end with a low-ball figure or a veto threat...

Read on here...

Cross posted from The Democratic Daily.

John Kerry: U.S. Must Stand with Burmese Demonstrators

Editors note: I've been trying to make the time since the monks starting marching in Burma a few days ago, to write about the situation there, but I've had a lot on my plate. The situation with th epeaceful protest, has turned for the worse as the photo from today, below shows:

Andrew Sullivan has a round up of news stories, blog posts and he notes that "the Times of London has several blog reports from inside the country." From one eyewitness:

A respectful old monk is in the vanguard of the column singing national anthem and holding flags of fighting peacock.

Despite [being] peaceful, demonstrators have been beaten to break up the crowd, and they are still together reciting "metta sutta" (A discourse on loving-kindness, about disseminating love to those who are aggressive).

Senator John Kerry spoke from the floor today in support of the peaceful, democratic uprising in Burma. He praised the bravery of the demonstrators and condemned Burma’s brutal junta. Kerry emphasized the need for strong U.S. diplomatic leadership to rally the international community in defense of the Burmese people. Below are Kerry’s remarks, as prepared:

Mr. President: Against all odds, the long-suffering people of Burma have risen up against one of the world’s most repressive regimes. What began a month ago as modest, impromptu protests has since mushroomed into a nation-wide, peaceful democratic groundswell. Tens of thousands of students have joined Buddhist monks in the streets, marching and chanting in unison against Burma’s brutal military rulers.

The Burmese people should know that America and all free peoples across the globe stand in awe of their commitment and courage. Their actions follow in the venerable footsteps of Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Lech Walesa, and all those heroes who understood that nonviolent resistance is humanity’s greatest weapon against tyranny and injustice. I want to join the President of the United States, Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer and many others in letting them know: We support your struggle. We stand with you.

What is happening today in the streets of Rangoon is as tenuous as it is unexpected. The cabal of generals, who pillage Burma under the guise of governing it, could easily meet these non-violent protests with a bloodbath, just like they did in 1988. And we must do all that we can to ensure that this does not come to pass.

No one should doubt the Burmese junta’s potential for brutality and large-scale violence. Since taking power, they have killed tens of thousands of Burmese and razed more villages than have been destroyed in Darfur. Over half a million have been internally displaced, and an additional one million refugees have fled the country. These tyrannical thugs have engaged in the systematic use of forced labor, human trafficking, forcible recruitment of child soldiers, torture, and rape — an appalling laundry list of human rights violations.

And, yet, despite such grave danger, the people of Burma have stood strong in the face of this extraordinary evil, to demand democratic reforms and basic human rights. They have done so with dignity, and they have done so peacefully.

The United States and the rest of the free world must stand with the people of Burma. The President’s decision yesterday to target the top generals for financial sanctions is a step in the right direction — but it will not solve the problem. And it is not enough.

The massive pro-democracy demonstrations in Burma represent the best opportunity for genuine political change in nearly twenty years. Burma’s “Saffron Revolution” is also an excellent chance for America to finally show greater diplomatic leadership on the world stage.

The United States must lead the international community in pressuring the military junta to release all political prisoners, starting with the venerable Nobel Peace Prize laureate and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and take steps down the path towards political change.

This week’s gathering of world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly is a tailor-made forum to get tough with Burma’s generals. From the halls of the United Nations to the headquarters of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the message to the Burmese military must be clear: The world is united behind the people marching in your streets. Do not meet peaceful protest with still more butchery. We are prepared to act in concert against you unless you immediately embark on serious negotiations toward sharing power with the people of Burma.

Showing diplomatic leadership on Burma also requires that we demand better from those countries that have propped up this brutal regime and are thus best equipped to pressure it: India and, in particular, China. The President and the United Nations must engage in strenuous diplomacy with Beijing — which carries the most sway with Burma’s generals — and urge the Chinese to press for political reform.

China has in its grasp a momentous opportunity to demonstrate leadership commensurate with its growing power and status. Beijing can host the 2008 Olympics as an enabler of cruelty and repression or as a responsible stakeholder in the world community. This is an important test. The world is watching.

As the international community exerts greater pressure on the military junta, it must also reach out more aggressively with humanitarian assistance for the Burmese people.

The people of Burma have suffered not only under the bullets and bayonets of the current regime, but also from decades of misrule that have transformed their resource-rich nation into one of the poorest in Asia. Many of Burma’s 52 million people live in abject misery. About one-third are mired in poverty. Nearly half of all children never get to go to school. Malaria and tuberculosis are widespread, and mortality rates in Burma are among the highest in Asia. At least 37,000 died of HIV/AIDS in 2005, and over 600,000 are infected with HIV.

Burma’s suffering destabilizes Southeast Asia. Heroin and methamphetamines, HIV-AIDS and other infectious diseases, as well as hordes of refugees are spilling across Burma’s borders into neighboring countries.

The international community must respond to this ongoing tragedy by providing humanitarian aid to a desperate and deserving people. Current levels of international assistance are woefully insufficient. We need a network of public and private donors to fund health, education, and infrastructure projects. The resilient and brave Burmese people have shown they are more than worthy of our support and compassion.

I want to close by offering a final word of warning: We must not forget Burma’s last great democratic uprising in 1988 — one that was brutally crushed by the military at the cost of some 3,000 innocent lives. That day and the repression that followed show the horrible human toll of our collective failure to act.

A peaceful, pro-democratic outcome in Burma is within reach: the UN, ASEAN, India, and especially China must stand with the United States in solidarity with the Burmese people. We must not fail the people of Burma once again.

The Saffron Revolution has photos, video links and links to other Burmese bloggers, blogging the protest, that looked a bit like this days after it first started:

TIME has coverage here and here.

Bush announced sanctions against Burma yesterday and while addressing the U.N. General Assembly, he "called on the world body to do more to fight tyranny, disease, ignorance and poverty, and pointedly demanded that it reform its own institutions."

AP News reports:

Myanmar security forces opened fire on Buddhist monks and other pro-democracy demonstrators Wednesday for the first time in a month of anti-government protests, killing at least one man and wounding others in chaotic confrontations across Yangon.

Dramatic images of the protests, many transmitted from the secretive Southeast Asian nation by dissidents using cell phones and the Internet, riveted world attention on the escalating faceoff between the military regime and its opponents.

Clouds of tear gas and smoke from fires hung over streets, and defiant protesters and even bystanders pelted police with bottles and rocks in some places. Onlookers helped monks escape arrest by bundling them into taxis and other vehicles and shouting "Go, go, go, run!"

The government said one man was killed when police opened fire during the ninth consecutive day of demonstrations, but dissidents outside Myanmar reported receiving news of up to eight deaths.

Some reports said the dead included monks, who are widely revered in Myanmar, and the emergence of such martyr figures could stoke public anger against the regime and escalate the violence.

Kerry is right, a "peaceful, pro-democratic outcome in Burma is within reach"... "We must not fail the people of Burma once again."

Cross posted from The Democratic Daily

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

U.N. Summit Urges Action on Climate Change - Bush Silent

As world leaders met in N.Y.C. on Monday for the first U.N. climate summit, the Bush administration sat idly by and virtually ignored the summit, except for a brief appearance at a "small dinner" on Monday night.

With tales of rising seas and talk of human solidarity, world leaders at the first United Nations climate summit sought Monday to put new urgency into global talks to reduce global-warming emissions.

What’s needed is “action, action, action,” California’s environmentalist governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, told the assembled presidents and premiers.

The Bush administration showed no sign, however, that it would reverse its stand against mandatory emission cuts endorsed by 175 other nations. Some expressed fears the White House, with its own forum later this week, would launch talks rivaling the U.N. climate treaty negotiations.

President Bush didn’t take part in the day’s sessions, which drew more than 80 national leaders, but attended a small dinner Monday evening, a gathering of key climate players hosted by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

John Kerry issued the following statement on Bush's decision not to attend the summit:

“The Bush Administration has done everything in its power to downplay, discount, and distract from the threat of climate change, so it’s not surprising that the President is skipping a series of high-level meetings designed to address the problem,” Kerry said. “As heads of state of 80 different countries and representatives from 150 countries gather in New York to chart the global response to climate change, the President’s absence sends a clear signal that he isn’t really serious about an international emissions reduction plan. The President needs to exhibit leadership and spend some political capital by committing to serious domestic emission reductions and rejoining the world’s leaders in a new global strategy to tackle this urgent issue.”

Last Thursday, "veteran advocates for confronting climate change hosted a phone briefing in advance of the United Nations meeting "The Future in our Hands: Addressing the Leadership Challenge of Climate Change," being held at the U.N. in New York on Monday, September 24." John Kerry was one of the participants on the call.

During the call, experts discussed this important meeting and the latest developments in the political landscape surrounding U.S. climate policy. They also examined President Bush's "Meeting of Major Economies on Energy Security and Climate Change", as well as the December U.N. climate change conference in Bali, Indonesia, which will focus on a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol.

I had to miss the call, as it was the day I was driving my daughter to college, but the audio of the call is available here and the transcript is available here.

Dan Froomkin noted in his White House Watch column on Monday that "The last two times the Pew Research Center asked people to describe President Bush in a single word, chief among the overwhelmingly negative responses was the word "incompetent."" I'd say that sums it up. From the Iraq War to Global Warming... Bush is incompetent, incompetent, incompetent.

The U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Monday that "a 15-year international effort to stem global warming has not halted the buildup of greenhouse gas emissions and that governments must take "unprecedented action" to reverse the trend." Ban told delegates, "Today, the time for doubt has passed."

That the "time for doubt has passed" is of no consequence to the Bush administration, who "has conducted a concerted, behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign to try to generate opposition to California's request to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks, according to documents obtained by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform."

Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear questioned why Bush officials would go to such lengths to mobilize opposition.

"The Clean Air Act gives California the right to set its own emissions standards. Regardless of pressure, the EPA has a responsibility to allow California, and all the states that are behind us on the issue, to exercise our right," McLear said.

It's obscene that the Bush administration has turned such a blind eye to Global Warming and is pulling these political manuevers to influence the laws passed on the state level. It's obscene that Bush can't be bothered to show up at the U.N. summit, other than to attend a small dinner. Instead of attempting to make a difference and offer some real solutions, the "Bush administration will offer a variety of diplomatic carrots this week to encourage China, India, Brazil and other large developing nations to join a global effort to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, which are warming Earth's atmosphere."

Diplomatic carrots. How quaint. The world suffers under the leadership of America's imcompetent president.

Cross posted from The Democratic Daily.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Kerry Statement on Ahmadinejad Visit to U.S. and Speech at Columbia University

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was in N.Y. today delivering a speech at Columbia University. Before the speech Columbia University President Lee Bollinger ripped into Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, "going through a long list of documented actions and remarks by the firebrand Iranian leader and his government."

"Mr. President, you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator," Bollinger said to applause from many of the 600 people in the room for a speech from the Iranian leader.

Bollinger cited the Iranian government's "brutal crackdown" on dissidents, public executions, executions of minors and other actions.

And he assailed Ahmadinejad's "denying" of the Holocaust as "ridiculous" and "dangerous propaganda." He called the Iranian leader either brazenly provocative "or astonishingly uneducated."

"The truth is that the Holocaust is the most documented event in human history," he said.

Ahmadinejad's visit to the U.S and his speech has been the source of a lot of controversy with many speaking out about the visit. Senator John Kerry made the following statement today about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to the United States and his address at Columbia University:

“Today Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was permitted the freedom that he denies to his own people, the right of free speech. I hope the Iranian people welcome him home with tough questions about why he believes he should enjoy liberties his own people do not share,” said Kerry.

“I'm proud of the Columbia students and faculty today who reminded the world that this man engages in the cruelest forms of oppression to strengthen his brutal regime.

“Calls for 'research' and 'study' don't change the fact that this man is a Holocaust denier who trades in anti-Semitism. It is long past time for the world to renounce this bigoted revisionist history, and important for everyone to remember that this demagogue fronts the world's largest state sponsor of terror, aids and abets the killing of American soldiers in Iraq, and is illegally pursuing a nuclear bomb."

Cross posted from The Democratic Daily.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Kerry Condemns Student Arrest

I'm not sure which is more disturbing at this point, the many videos that have surfaced on the internet(s) of the student getting tasered at the John Kerry event in Florida yesterday, or the fact that once again the wingnuts are blowing a situation out of proportion that is connected to John Kerry.

ABC News (and other news outlets) report that John Kerry issued a statement today in response to the incident leading to the arrest of a student at the University of Florida:

"In 37 years of public appearances, through wars, protests and highly emotional events, I have never had a dialogue end this way.

I believe I could have handled the situation without interruption, but again I do not know what warnings or other exchanges transpired between the young man and the police prior to his barging to the front of the line and their intervention.

I asked the police to allow me to answer the question and was in the process of answering him when he was taken into custody.

I was not aware that a taser was used until after I left the building. I hope that neither the student nor any of the police were injured.

I regret enormously that a good healthy discussion was interrupted."

Rick Klein of ABC News notes, "For politicians, hecklers come with the territory. But the arrest and detention of Meyer at Kerry speech on Monday stood out in at least two respects: Police acted aggressively in trying to silence Meyer, and the entire incident was captures on video -- making it an immediate Internet and TV sensation."

Videos show Meyer being pulled away from the microphone after as he sought to ask Kerry, D-Mass., a rambling series of questions that touch on allegations of voting improprieties in the 2004 election, possible impeachment of President Bush, Iran, and Kerry’s membership in Yale's secret Skull and Bones society.

Kerry sought to answer at least some of Meyer’s questions even as Meyer was dragged off by campus police -- and after police used a Taser to try to subdue him as he was being arrested.
The University of Florida has scheduled a news conference to discuss the incident at 3 pm ET today.

Todd has already posted about this mess below, but I'm chiming in here because the incident is being used by the wingnuts to slam John Kerry (and us lefties generally) and I am mad as hell that yet again, the blathering idiots are twisting news to in effect swift boat John Kerry again.

Clearly the cops were out of control here, using excessive force in my opinion, and Meyer wasn't simply asking a question but ranting. This incident is not indictive of liberals nor is it indictive of any Democratic political event. During the NH primary, I was at en event where a LaRouche supported started to ask Kerry a question and the audience tried to shut the questioner out. Kerry insisted on answering the questioner and although the questioner ranted on for sometime, Kerry and the audience let him speak. There were no cops dragging him off, no one harmed the man for speaking his mind. And I will note the man was in much closer proximity to Kerry, than Meyer was yesterday.

ABC's Klein notes that "Kerry, who was the Democrats’ nominee in 2004, is no longer assigned Secret Service protection, and does not bring his own security to events. That left University of Florida police in charge of security -- to notable results on Monday."

People need to take a deep breath and put this into perspective. This could have happened anywhere, at any event. It's not about John Kerry. It's about one person pushing the envelope to be heard and cops using excessive force. I am like many who have seen the video or read the news stunned by this. Knowing Senator Kerry personally, I agree, he could have "handled the situation without interruption" if the school police had allowed him to.

  • What Happened From John Kerry’s Perspective

  • Student Tasered at Kerry Event

  • Cross posted from The Democratic Daily.

    Sunday, September 16, 2007

    Kerry and McCain Debate the Iraq War

    John McCain may be "vocal on Iraq" but "quiet on Bush" as the N.Y. Times points out, but John Kerry made certain on 'Meet The Press' that viewers knew that "the Bush-McCain strategy of escalating our troops in the middle of a civil war has no relationship directly to what you need to do to resolve the civil war."

    Kerry was relentless with McCain through out the entire debate and at one point, he noted that mcCain, evidently had been debating himself. McCain insinuated that Democrats wanted to “To pull the plug" on Iraq... Kerry responded, “We’re not talking about abandoning Iraq... We’re talking about changing the mission.”

    McCain was putty, repeating every Republican talking point he could grasp out of thin air. Kerry was masterful, leaving no corner of the Iraq War issue unexposed. The transcript is as follows:

    MR. TIM RUSSERT: Our issues this Sunday: The president restates his belief in the war.


    PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH: We must help Iraq defeat those who threaten its future and also threaten ours.

    (End videotape)

    MR. RUSSERT: And he calls for an “enduring relationship” with Iraq that would keep American forces there “beyond my presidency.” What now? With us, decorated Vietnam veteran, 2004 Democratic presidential nominee Senator John Kerry; and decorated Vietnam veteran, 2008 Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain. Kerry and McCain square off. A debate: Should we leave or should we stay?

    Then, the very latest on the 2008 race for the White House. Insights and analysis from Chris Cillizza of; and Chuck Todd, political director of NBC News.

    But first, the debate over the war in Iraq. Front and center across the country in our nation’s capital yesterday as anti-war protesters and counterdemonstrations were held. The debate is also front and center this morning right here on MEET THE PRESS. We’re joined by two men who have seen war, who feel they should be president, and who have very strong but different views on the way forward in Iraq. With us, Democrat John Kerry, Republican John McCain.

    Welcome both.

    SEN. JOHN McCAIN, (R-AZ): Good morning.

    MR. RUSSERT: Let me start with you, Senator McCain. What should be the U.S. strategy in Iraq for the next year?

    SEN. McCAIN: The U.S. strategy in Iraq should be to defeat al-Qaeda, to do everything we can to reverse the increasing influence of Iran in Iraq, and to achieve or move towards the goal of military security and a functioning government.

    MR. RUSSERT: General Petraeus was in Washington, and he testified and he agreed that in order to do that we will lose, on the average, two U.S. men or women per day...

    SEN. McCAIN: Mm-hmm.

    MR. RUSSERT: ...15 will be wounded or injured per day...

    SEN. McCAIN: Mm-hmm.

    MR. RUSSERT: a cost of $300 million per day. Is it worth it?

    SEN. McCAIN: Well, General Petraeus’ answer was pretty much the same as mine. All of us are saddened and frustrated by the course of this war. It was very badly mismanaged by the former secretary of defense and this administration. I, late in 2003, said this strategy is doomed to failure, that we had to fix it, that we had to adopt the strategy that we’ve now adopted. And it is now succeeding. Are we heartbroken at the loss and sacrifice of these brave young Americans? Of course. But the point is that now that we are succeeding with this strategy—and that’s the opinion of most observers—and abandon it and go—either go back to the previous failed strategy, which some Democrats want to do, or set a date for pullout and indicate that we’re leaving the neighborhood, then there’s no doubt in my mind of the consequences. And that’ll be genocide, chaos in the region and far worse than the situation we have today, which I believe can succeed if given sufficient time.

    MR. RUSSERT: Senator Kerry, your response.

    SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA): Well, the Bush-McCain strategy of escalating our troops in the middle of a civil war has no relationship directly to what you need to do to resolve the civil war. So you can put additional troops in and secure a small area here or there, but everybody knows there are not enough troops to be able to secure all of the areas you need to secure and, most importantly, it does absolutely nothing to resolve the fundamental differences, Tim. A policy of putting more troops in and staying is a policy for staying. It is not a policy for winning or for changing the equation. And the fact is that over the last four and a half years, they’ve had ample opportunity to make any of the fundamental political decisions that really don’t relate to security. An oil revenue law does not take security to be passed. A de-Baathification law does not take security to be passed. It takes political will. They haven’t shown the political will. We have to change the fundamental equation and create leverage in our relationship.


    Kerry & McCain to Debate Iraq on ‘Meet The Press’

    John Kerry and John McCain will be on "Meet The Press' Sunday morning to debate the Iraq War:

    Exclusive! Senators John Kerry (D-MA) & John McCain (R-AZ) debate the war in Iraq. How will the Petraeus report affect U.S. policy? We'll discuss the future of the War with two key senators and Vietnam veterans -- only on "Meet the Press."

    This is don't miss Sunday morning TV! Last Sunday, Kerry and McCain were on 'This Week', but the show was not in a debate format, Kerry's interview followed McCain's and Kerry was able to wipe the floor with McCain's 'stay the course' stance on Iraq. Before Kerry decided not to run in '08, I thought the perfect face-off for '08 was perhaps John Kerry and John McCain. McCain's candidacy has fallen flat now, and as for John Kerry, he's still leading the charge on ending the war in Iraq.

    The Blue State has the full Sunday line-up here which includes General Wesley Clark and Senator Chris Dodd on "CNN Late Edition". Clark endorsed Hillary Clinton on Saturday.

    Let's hope the debate doesn't get tied up on the MoveOn ad kerfluffle and McCain's comments on Saturday that MoveOn “ought to be thrown out of this country.” McCain has taken to carrying "a blown-up, laminated poster of the MoveOn ad to his campaign stops" proving he has an issue with the First Amendment: Freedom of Speech. We live in a country, last I checked, that people and organizations don't get thrown out of the country, for expressing their views.

    Cross posted from The Democratic Daily.

    Thursday, September 13, 2007

    Kerry: Bush Iraq Policy Still Wrong After All These Years

    Tonight in his address to the nation, Bush "tried to turn a corner in the fractious debate over Iraq" by ordering the "first limited troop withdrawals since voters elected an antiwar Congress last year."

    But the move did little to appease Democratic leaders, who dismissed it as a token gesture masking an open-ended commitment of U.S. troops.

    Bush said progress on the ground means he can pull out by next summer the additional combat forces he sent in January -- roughly 21,700 troops -- and he opened the door to further troop reductions if conditions improve. Although the president offered no forecast for how long it will take, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, told Washington Post reporters and editors yesterday that current U.S. projections anticipate Iraq reaching nationwide "sustainable security" by June 2009.

    Senator John Kerry issued the following statement this evening, in response to the remarks by President Bush:

    "Only President Bush could applaud a race back to the starting line when the finish line should be in sight. This is proof positive that the Bush escalation has been a failure. President Bush should acknowledge that the Iraqis have squabbled while American troops fought, squandering the political opportunity our brave soldiers died to create," said Senator John Kerry. "This is more of the same flawed strategy in the face of overwhelming evidence that there is no military solution to Iraq’s civil war. We must change this disastrous Bush policy, and we must change it now."

    Glen Kessler of the WaPo offers a fact check on Bush's speech noting that Bush was "citing facts and statistics that at times contradicted recent government reports or his own words."

    Read onhere.

    Kerry on Boehner’s “Small Price”

    John Kerry responded to today to Rep. John Boehner's "stunningly cavalier" response to the pointed question asked yesterday on CNN by Wolf Blitzer. Blitzer asked Boehner: "The loss in blood, the Americans who are killed every month, how much longer do you think this commitment, this military commitment is going to require?"

    Boehner responded: "The investment that we're making today will be a small price if we're able to stop al Qaeda here, if we're able to stabilize the Middle East, it's not only going to be a small price for the near future, but think about the future for our kids and their kids."

    Kerry's slammed Boehner for his "cavalier" statment and demands an apology:

    What a stunningly cavalier statement about the lives of the young men and women who serve our country.

    Whether you support or oppose the Bush escalation, no American should ever for even a moment think the cost of war is small.

    A single life is a large price to pay for any endeavor. Sometimes, in our national interest, we choose to pay that awful price, but we must always make sure that the policy is worthy of it.

    Visit our wounded warriors at Walter Reed hospital and ask whether the price they paid was small. Talk to the mothers, fathers, husbands and wives of those who have been killed and ask them to measure the price of war. Young lives stopped short, children who won't have a mother or father there as they grow up, when they graduate, when they get married -- that loss is many things, but it is not small.

    Where is Representative Boehner's apology? And where is an Iraq policy equal to our soldiers' tremedous sacrifice?

    Call Boehner's office: 202-225-6205. Demand an apology.

    Cross posted from The Democratic Daily.

    Tuesday, September 11, 2007

    John Kerry’s Opening Statement at Petraeus-Crocker Hearing

    It's day two of the Petraeus follies on Capitol Hill. General Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this morning to once again discuss the "progress report on the war in Iraq and explain a new military plan to withdraw the 30,000 reinforcements sent there earlier this year to improve security."

    Opening today's hearing on the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), the committee chairman, called for a moment of silence in honor of the nearly 3,000 victims of the terrorist strikes. He expressed skepticism about President Bush's "surge" strategy and the ability of Iraqi political leaders to govern the country in a centralized system.

    Senate Foreign Relations Committee member John Kerry made the following statement at today’s hearing (as prepared for delivery):

    General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker, thank you very much for coming before the Committee today, and thank you for your exemplary service. The country owes the brave men and women who serve in the Armed Forces -- and in our diplomatic corps -- an awesome debt of gratitude for the sacrifices they make every day under extremely difficult circumstances in Iraq.

    This is a historic moment: Not since General Westmoreland appeared before Congress 40 years ago has an active duty general played such a major public role in the national debate.

    Many thousands of the names inscribed on the Vietnam wall were added after that testimony, after it should have been clear that the strategy would not work. We cannot repeat the mistakes of the past. That is why we have a solemn duty here to ask the tough questions about Iraq. We owe our troops a strategy that is worthy of their sacrifice, and it’s clear that the current strategy -- the President’s escalation -- has failed to achieve its goal of bringing about a resolution of the fundamental conflict between Sunni and Shia.

    We all agree that there is no American military solution to an Iraqi civil war. That’s why the escalation had a single, simple goal: to create "breathing room" for Iraqis to make the political compromises that will hold their country together and end their civil war.

    We heard the bottom line from the GAO last week: only 3 of the 18 benchmarks that the Iraqi government agreed to over a year ago have been met – including only 1 of the 8 benchmarks for political reconciliation. Over 15 months after the Maliki government took power, the Iraqi parliament still has not passed legislation on oil revenue sharing, de-Ba'athification, and provincial elections. The constitutional review process vital to political reconciliation is nowhere close to completion.

    Yet despite the obvious lack of movement on political reconciliation, we keep hearing that we are making progress in Iraq. General Petraeus has effectively asked for more time to allow the escalation strategy to succeed. He has spoken about reduced levels of violence, and success in “bottom-up reconciliation” efforts against Al Qaeda, as justification for continuing the current mission.

    Let’s be absolutely clear: whatever “tactical successes” we have achieved have not translated into the strategic success we need to turn the tide. The escalation has failed to resolve the fundamental conflict between Sunni and Shia that continues to drive the Iraqi civil war, and there’s no reason to believe that more of the same is going to make a difference.

    All summer, supporters of the escalation urged us to wait until September. Wait until September to hear from General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker. Well, September is here, and despite your best efforts, the result is clear: Without deadlines, without accountability—there has been no real political progress in Iraq.

    We should not be asking any more American troops to sacrifice their lives and limbs for Iraqi politicians who refuse to compromise. That’s why I believe more strongly than ever that we need to change course in Iraq.

    As I have been saying for a year and a half, we need to (1) change the mission to pursuing Al Qaeda, training Iraqi security forces, and protecting U.S. facilities and personnel; (2) set a deadline for redeployment that is necessary to make the Iraqis to make the tough compromises necessary to end their civil war; and (3) engage in the intensive diplomacy necessary to get Iraq’s neighbors to play a more constructive role in stabilizing Iraq.

    I believe that strategy protects our vital national interests and gives us the best chance to succeed.

    In related news, a new AP/Ipsos polls shows that "the public sees the Iraq war as a failure and thinks the U.S. troop buildup there has not worked."

    The pessimism expressed by most people -- including significant minorities of Republicans -- contrasted with the brighter picture offered by Gen. David Petraeus. The chief U.S. commander in Iraq told Congress on Monday that the added 30,000 troops have largely achieved their military goals and could probably leave by next summer, though he conceded there has been scant political progress.

    By 59 percent to 34 percent, more people said they believe history will judge the Iraq war a complete or partial failure than a success.

    Cross posted from The Democratic Daily.

    Monday, September 10, 2007

    Kerry Says Petraeus-White House Report on Iraq Fails to Make the Case

    It was day one of the Petraeus follies on Capitol Hill today. Petraeus, the "top U.S. commander in Iraq told Congress today that the military objectives of the Bush administration's troop increase strategy in Iraq "are in large measure being met," and he forecast a reduction of U.S. forces in coming months without jeopardizing gains."

    Appearing with the top U.S. diplomat in Iraq to report on military and political developments in the four-year-old war effort, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus claimed major progress for the so-called "surge," the deployment of an additional 30,000 troops to Iraq last spring.

    Citing a drop in the overall level of violence in Iraq, Petraeus said, "I believe that we will be able to reduce our forces to pre-surge levels . . . without jeopardizing security gains we fought so hard to achieve." He said he also believes that "it is possible to achieve our objectives in Iraq over time," although this will be "neither quick nor easy."

    Petraeus said he has "recommended a drawdown" of U.S. forces starting later this month with the withdrawal of a Marine unit. Further "redeployments" should continue into next year, with U.S. troop strength dropping to about 130,000 troops by mid-July 2008, he said.

    The much-anticipated testimony of Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker at a joint hearing of the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees could help shape upcoming congressional decisions on funding for the Iraq war. The pair also is scheduled to testify together Tuesday at separate Senate hearings, one before the Foreign Relations Committee and the other before the Armed Services Committee.

    Senator John Kerry issued the following statement today, in response to testimony from General Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker:

    “It spoke volumes today when General Petraeus said the Iraqi politicians have been sitting on their thumbs while American soldiers sweated it out all summer. Nothing today suggested that President Bush’s eight months of escalation have done anything to achieve political progress in a deadly civil war,” Kerry said. “The three recent independent reports – from the General Accounting Office, the National Intelligence Estimate and the General Jones Commission - all say the opposite. I am looking forward to hearing from both of these public servants tomorrow during the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee hearing.”

    Michael Abramowitz notes in the WaPo, that the "long-awaited testimony this afternoon of Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, once seen as a potential turning point in war policy, seemed more like an exercise of kicking the can down the road."

    Petraeus left the larger questions -- what will be the future size and mission of the American "footprint" in Iraq -- unanswered. He offered hints that the reductions might continue beyond next summer but said he would not be able to offer a definitive judgment until March.

    "Our experience in Iraq has repeatedly shown that projecting too far into the future is not just difficult, it can be misleading and even hazardous," Petraeus testified.

    I'm not sure what the line up is for Senator's on the Foreign Relations Committee questioning Petraeus tomorrow, but no doubt, Kerry will not be holding any punches.

    Cross posted from The Democratic Daily.

    Wednesday, September 05, 2007

    Kerry: The Escalation Didn’t Work

    John Kerry posted on DKos and the HuffPo today about Bush's Iraq Escalation. The bottomline... It Didn't Work. Here's a few quips from Kerry's post:

    The escalation failed to do the one and only thing it was supposed to do. The entire Iraq policy of George W. Bush has failed since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s statue in Baghdad. No amount of parsing or spinning can change those simple facts: the escalation is and was the wrong answer.

    I chaired a hearing on the GAO Report yesterday, the report that stated that Iraqi civilians overall aren’t any safer, that the political benchmarks aren’t being met in Iraq, that, in short, none of the rationales for the escalation in Iraq have come to pass. It unfolds with maddening, enraging regularity: the Administration claims goals for their policy, they gradually back off of those goals and substitute smaller, less easily measured goals, and then muddy the waters hopelessly on whether even those modest new goals have been met. Time and again we’ve been through this.

    That’s why the Congress set up some clear benchmarks to measure what’s happening in Iraq. Mitch McConnell praised the “clarity” those benchmarks brought to the debate. “Just wait until September,” they all said. “We put in these meaningful benchmarks, we can judge in September.”

    Well, how do they judge those benchmarks now? Only three of 18 have been met. Another four were “partially met,” which sounds like a “Gentleman’s C” if I’ve ever heard of one (and, for anyone who saw my college transcript, I have.).

    Judgment time is here, and the only verdict is the same one we had in January, the same one we've had for a long time in Iraq: the Bush policy is a tragic failure. It's a policy that not only isn't working; it can't work. A political solution in Iraq cannot come about without a clear deadline on where our troops will be pulling out. Only Iraqis can end this civil war, and they aren't - and won't be - making any progress with an open-ended, massive presence by our military in their country.

    In an update on Kerry's DKos post, Kerry responded to the many questions of "what can we do about it?"...

    A lot of you are asking about what we can do about it. That’s the right question. I can't guarantee success, but we're closer than we've ever been. The media swirl around this debate doesn't capture the dynamics I see in Congress. Republicans are much more nervous about this, and there's far less Democratic disunity than the media storyline portrays. I'm talking to my colleagues every day (I just got out of a caucus meeting), and the Bush-advanced fallacy that the escalation is working just isn't a big part of our discussions. I think we hammered that reality home pretty hard yesterday at the Foreign Relations Committee with some important validation from Sen. Lugar.

    Meanwhile, the Republicans are not confident at all. Their party is being driven over the cliff by the President’s stubborn insistence on sticking to this failed policy. And they know it. No one wants to consign themselves to a permanent minority, but that's what's happening. They're not unified at all on this.

    But the main question is: what can we do about it? I'm going to make this case in any way I can. Television, newspapers, you name it. There's no magic bullet to this; we simply need to apply as much pressure as possible in as many ways as possible. I'll be back with some specific actions from time to time because concerted action by many people toward a single goal gets the best results. But do as much as you can all the time. Drop by your representatives’ office and let them know your feelings. Write, call, fax, email, get in contact any way you can. These actions aren't glamorous, but they really do make a difference. And don't lose faith. The other side in this debate is intent on outlasting us, convinced that we'll give up. You and I have to make sure that they are wrong on that.

    Kerry's opening statement from Tuesday Foreign Relations Committee on the GAO Iraq Banchmarks report is here.

    Remember, as Kerry said, "there's far less Democratic disunity than the media storyline portrays," so keep an open mind when you read the latest spin piece from the N.Y.Times: Democrats Newly Willing to Compromise on Iraq.

    Cross posted from The Democratic Daily.