Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Human Rights Campaign Endorses John Kerry for Re-election

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has announced it is endorsing John Kerry for re-election to the U.S. Senate.

Joe Solmonese, President of the Human Rights Campaign, made the following statement: “Senator Kerry has been an outspoken leader for GLBT equality in the United States Senate. Most recently, Senator Kerry’s leadership was crucial to the advancement of legislation to lift the discriminatory HIV travel ban. We are pleased to endorse Senator Kerry for re-election and look forward to working with him on achieving equality for our community."

Senator Kerry responded, "I am honored to have the endorsement of the Human Rights Campaign, one of the savviest, most respected and most influential political, civil rights and human rights organizations in our country. When you’re in a fight to change our country, you can always count on HRC to be there with you in the trenches, and there’s no better ally in the fight to advance the cause of freedom and equality for all Americans. I have been proud to work with the Human Rights Campaign for close to 25 years now in the U.S. Senate. We’ve fought together to combat AIDS, including our fight this year in the Foreign Relations Committee to lift the HIV Travel Ban, to pass the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, to end discrimination in the workplace through ENDA, and to work toward the day when same-sex couples are granted the same rights other Americans take for granted. We’ve spent a lot of our energy these last years stopping bad things from happening with a Republican in the White House. We’ve been proud to fight those fights, but I can’t begin to tell you how much I look forward to serving in a bigger, stronger Democratic majority in Congress under a Democratic president so we can wage and win the progress we’ve been waiting for and which the community deserves."

Senator Kerry's office issued a press release which described the Senator's activities on behalf of GLBT rights:

Kerry has a long record of fighting for equal rights for all gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered (GLBT) Americans.

Twenty-four years ago, one of Kerry’s first acts as Senator was to introduce a bill prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. He supports passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and has adopted a nondiscrimination policy for his Congressional offices based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

He is an original co-sponsor of the Hate Crimes Prevention bill, which would extend federal jurisdiction over serious, violent hate crimes. It would also finally include crimes motivated by sexual orientation and sexual identity to be considered hate crimes.

Kerry also introduced the HIV Nondiscrimination in Travel and Immigration Act that would repeal the outdated, misguided provision in the Immigration and Nationality Act, which bars HIV positive individuals from entering the United States, including HIV positive family members, doctors and experts, as well as refugees seeking asylum. This long standing ban against those with HIV only serves to stigmatize the disease and discriminate against those infected.

In 1990, Kerry cosponsored the first Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act (CARE)—which represents the largest discretionary federal investment in treating individuals with HIV and AIDS. Kerry also sponsored the Vaccines for the New Millennium Act, aimed at boosting contributions to the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, a non-profit group working to promote development of an HIV vaccine in 2000. Kerry also introduced the U.S. Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, TB, and Malaria Act, which would increase the federal funding of international HIV/AIDS efforts from approximately $1.7 billion in 2003 to $1.9 billion in 2004. This effort led to the Act’s unanimous passage in May 2003. AIDS activists have characterized Kerry as one of Congress’s top leaders on HIV/AIDS policy.

During the Clinton Administration, Kerry opposed the White House’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Policy.” He was one of a few senators to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee and call on the President to rescind the ban on gay and lesbian service members.

Kerry has repeatedly said that same-sex couples should be granted rights, including access to pensions, health insurance, family medical leave, bereavement leave, hospital visitation, survivor benefits, and other basic legal protections, that all families and children need. He has supported legislation to provide domestic partners of federal employees the benefits available to spouses of federal employees including the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act. He was one of 14 Senators -- and the only one up for reelection in 1996 -- to oppose the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

In Massachusetts, just last spring, Kerry worked with Governor Deval Patrick and progressive legislators to help defeat a narrow and discriminatory constitutional amendment that would have banned same sex marriage in Massachusetts .

The HRC is America ’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. Altogether, HRC endorsed 14 Senators or candidates for Senate it says will continue advancing the issues the campaign cares about. In 2006, the HRC and its 700,000 members were involved in 200 House and Senate races. Their candidates won 94% of those races.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Kerry: No truth to rumor of Obama endorsement

In response to a question from the Washington Times during a telephone press conference today, Senator Kerry said that he had not yet decided whether to endorse anyone for President. As for rumors that he planned to endorse Sen. Barack Obama, the Senator replied, "I've made no decision -- I don't know where this comes from. I heard this rumor when I landed today. It's a rumor. I have made no decisions whatsoever not only as to who I might endorse but as to whether or not I will."

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Kerry Spokesman, David Wade Sets Limbaugh Straight on Swiftboat Smears

Kerry spokesman David Wade issued the following slap down today in response to Rush Limbaugh, who said on his radio show that Kerry’s Swift Boat attackers in 2004, “were right on the money and nobody has disproven anything they claimed in any of their ads, statements, written commentaries, or anything of the sort.”

David Wade said:

At first I thought, that’s not Rush, that’s just the OxyContin talking. Nonetheless, this is a despicable but unsurprising new lie from a man whose closest brush with combat came when customs officials tried to take away his Viagra.

This portly peddler of hate is once again wrong on the facts. John Kerry served his country with honor in Vietnam, and has fought for his fellow veterans ever since. The lies and smears of the Swift Boat Veterans for Bush were disproved conclusively in 2004 by the men who fought by John Kerry’s side in Vietnam, by the military’s own records, by investigative journalists, and by the incredible contradictions that exposed these right wing smear artists. It is long past time that we end the politics of fear and smear that we have seen used against decorated veterans from John McCain to Max Cleland and John Kerry.

Rush Limbaugh’s ignorance and determination to divide Americans is just another reminder that you can’t spell ‘Rush Limbaugh’ without the letters L-I-A-R.

Media Matters has an excellent fact check of the Limbaugh smear, proving once again that when it comes to slandering veterans, the right wing is wrong. The fact check can be found here.

Cross Posted from The Democratic Daily.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Clear Channel Sends Edict to Not Play Springsteen’s ‘Magic’

Bruce Springsteen currently has the No 1 album in the charts, he'll probably be up for a Grammy for the Best Album of the Year, and his tour is sold out across the country, but even still Republican owned, censor machine Clear Channel is out to pull The Boss from the airwaves. Readers here know, I'm a big Springsteen fan and I have written about him here more than a few times over the years, so I gotta say, this really ticks me off. Big time.

Clearly Bruce Springsteen's latest, 'Magic' has got the Noise Machine in a huff. Could it be because of this cut of the album, Last To Die, inspired by John Kerry:

I long ago gave up listening to mainstream radio, but this is wrong, just wrong... Read on here: Clear Channel Sends Edict to Not Play Springsteen’s ‘Magic’.

John Kerry Offers Post-Kyoto Global Climate Change Approach

Senator John Kerry spoke to the Council on Foreign Relations today. His address, “After Kyoto, Eyes on Bali: Global Climate Change and American Leadership,” focused on the security challenge of global climate change and the way forward as the U.S. approaches the next round of global climate change talks in Bali in December. Sen. Kerry and Sen. Boxer are leading the Senate delegation to this next round of international discussions in December.

The text of John Kerry’s speech is below:
I’d like to focus my introductory remarks on an issue which frankly not enough people are talking about in the context of our foreign policy – but which could have a greater long-term impact on our security than any other: and that is global climate change.

There will be critical meetings this year about our security --- Secretary Rice’s Mideast Summit in Annapolis, perhaps some meetings between US and Iranian officials. But potentially just as important is the meeting which will happen just over a month from now, when delegates from 154+ nations arrive in Bali to start work on a new international climate change treaty, and I’ll be leading a bipartisan delegation from the US Senate.

The road to our present predicament is littered with missed opportunities, but we still face the same, ever more acute, choice: either America finally leads the world in crafting a comprehensive new international agreement, or the countries of the world will pollute our way into a catastrophe of unknowable parameters but undeniable peril.

We’ve all heard the warnings. Drought. Famine. Floods. Refugees. Devastated crops. Lost GDP. Instability. Border tensions—and more of the failed states that shelter and breed terrorists. The plagues seem to stop just short of the Old Testament slaying of the firstborn in Egypt. But we can’t wait for divine intervention—we have to act. How’s this for a call to action? Here’s a recent headline from Time magazine: “How to prevent the next Darfur. Step One: Get serious about climate change.” I’m pleased but not surprised to hear that the Council is once again ahead of the curve, and I look forward to hearing from the Independent Task Force chaired by Tom Vilsack and George Pataki.

I don’t intend to use this forum to dwell on or re-litigate the science, but let me say briefly, since the start of the industrial age, atmospheric CO2 levels are up 35%, to 380 parts per million. Scientists say that anything above 450 —which means a total warming of 2 degrees centigrade—passes a tipping point into catastrophic climate change. And guess what? Unless we slam the brakes—now—we’ll hit 600-700 ppm by 2100.

Mobilizing to solve climate change is especially tough because of the delayed onset of its impact—emissions stay in the atmosphere for 100 years, so the window for preventing climate change may close before we even begin to feel its full force. But the first signs are there: Recently we learned that Arctic sea ice is down 39% from its long-term average—and maybe as much as 50% since the 1950s. Two weeks ago, Nature warned that oceans—which historically absorb about a quarter of our CO2—are losing their capacity to serve as a “sink” for our emissions. As a result, the increased CO2 in the atmosphere has outpaced even our own dire predictions by 35% over the last 7 years. That’s the evidence: clear, growing, and urgent.

I don’t have to emphasize just how much we’ve been set back by 8 years outside the international system. It is crucial that our delegation to Bali send a clear message to the world that America is finally serious about fixing climate change. We’re ready to end the era of obstruction and start leading by example.

We, as a nation, are indispensable to this process. Our inaction is a green light to all the world’s polluters. But it’s humbling to remember that even when we had leadership that recognized the problem, a White House that signed a treaty, we still couldn’t put a system in place that reduced CO2 emissions. Kyoto failed. And it failed because we weren’t able to bridge the gap between developed and developing nations.

Our primary goal in Bali must be to arrive at a mandate for future negotiations to finally reach a truly global agreement on a truly global effort-- not one that leaves the world’s largest emitter of the past and the largest emitters of the future outside the system. That’s why we failed last time.

Ten years ago, the issue simply wasn’t ripe for solution—it wasn’t possible to craft a treaty that China would sign and the US Senate would ratify. I can’t emphasize enough how much—and how quickly—things have changed in both countries. You’ve witnessed the sea change here over the past few years. What is less well known is that today, a country like China finally grasps that they have an immediate and vital interest in getting this right. China has 16 of the world's 20 most polluted cities. Chinese villagers in Yunnan have watched their sacred Mingyong Glacier disappear before their very eyes. China put forth a climate change plan this year. They’ve already begun setting ambitious goals, such as a 20% cut in energy intensity by 2010. Next year, China’s fleet-wide fuel efficiency will be 36.7 mpg—higher than the Senate’s proposed target for 2020. There’s a cartoon out there that China won’t listen—but the reality is that a diplomatic breakthrough may be within reach.

That’s the best thing that could come out of Bali—an agreement on a serious mandate for moving forward. Ultimately, it boils down to this: the only fair, realistic solution is shared but differentiated responsibility. The US and other industrialized nations must accept mandatory caps and acknowledge that poorer nations won’t forego economic growth or bear the cost of other’s past emissions. China and other developing countries will have to take on their own binding commitments—not the same form as ours— but perhaps a commitment per unit of GDP growth instead of population or a single-industry cap. Down the road, China, India, Brazil, Mexico and other developing nations will have to lower absolute emissions. But today we must share the challenge of putting China on a path to doing so without infringing on its right to economic development. The consequences of China’s failure will be ours too.

That is why, in Bali and beyond, we must also commit ourselves to a massive new campaign aimed at fostering green development. And at the heart of that effort must be coal. We have to spread carbon capture and sequestration techniques—which can capture up to 100% of coal’s emissions—to China and the rest of the developing world. We must be realistic about the fact that a developing county like China—rich in coal, growing at 11%, and in need of a cheap source of energy—won’t adopt clean coal technology unless we help them. And their decisions may be irreversible: Today the Chinese are building one coal-fired power plant per week—most are not even designed so that they might be retrofitted later with clean technology. That’s the real cost of inaction in real time. Coal accounts for 80% of China’s CO2 emissions, and the EPA tells us that Chinese pollution accounts for ¼ of the smog over Los Angeles. That too is a cost of inaction. We should create an internationally-funded research consortium devoted to developing green technologies and spreading them to developing countries—we need to do everything we can—not just to develop green technologies, but to see them actually adopted by billions of people.

We should be reducing tariffs on green producers overseas, rewarding countries that meet emissions standards, and helping US companies to sell green products overseas. We should be financing low-carbon energy sources and vehicles through institutions like the World Bank, and building capacity for energy and environmental data collection.

Finally, we must address deforestation—which accounts for 20% of emissions, Because they pull CO2 out of the air, forests are the planet’s natural defense. This needs to be a major part of our next agreement, and in the meantime we need to make sure these countries have tools to measure the problem and capacity to start addressing it.

We must begin thinking of climate change as a major issue in our foreign policy and national security. We should recognize that the solutions to many of our greatest challenges-- energy security, terrorism, democracy promotion, and climate change—all intersect when it comes to our use of energy. Over the next 25 years, oil consumption in developing Asian nations will double to 32 million barrels per day—accounting for 80% of increased global demand for oil, much of it housed in unstable, authoritarian regimes. All of our most pressing geopolitical concerns point us in the same direction: a massive investment in alternative energy and green technology.

This is a test of America as a world leader in the 21st century. We need a new environmental diplomacy—a commitment to make the fight against global warming an integral part of our foreign relations and our national security strategy. Just ask the 11 high-ranking retired soldiers from every branch of the military who called it “a serious national security threat”—a “threat multiplier” that sparks and exacerbates conflict.

In the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the world’s two superpowers walked back from the brink of mutual assured destruction. Kennedy and Khrushchev set up a hotline between Washington and Moscow because they understood that, at the end of the day, the buck stopped with them. That’s where America, China, and the developing world stand today— we’ve taken brinksmanship as far as it goes. Now it’s time to reach for the phone and give diplomacy a try. Our security depends more than ever before on our ability to influence others— we must get back into the business of good old fashioned persuasion.

Ultimately, the threat of climate change demands a new approach from America that looks an awful lot like the America we remember, the place Lincoln called “the last best hope of earth”. We should recommit to the hard but vital work of diplomacy and reengage with the rest of the planet. We must return to an understanding of the world where real strength means not just the absence of restraints but also the moral leadership that comes from leading by example.

The Council on Foreign Relations has made an audio of Kerry's speech available here.

Cross posted from The Democratic Daily.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

John Kerry’s Time Is Coming

Politico had a piece on the value of John Kerry's endorsement of an '08 presidential candidate on Tuesday, that made a few points that I have made here in the past and added some snark, that we could have done without. Here's a few quips:
Whither John F. Kerry?

He is his party’s most recent presidential nominee. He came tantalizingly close to winning. And yet no one is looking for him to put his stamp on the 2008 Democratic primary or wondering aloud who he’ll endorse — even though Al Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile says that in the early-state contests, “most of the voters would be thrilled to know who Kerry would back and why.”

But the lack of an audible clamor for an endorsement by Kerry is more than a bit deceiving, as is the perception that he’s still wandering around in that wilderness to which all losing Democratic nominees are cast. The two top candidates who aren’t married to Elizabeth Edwards are quietly seeking his advice and support. An associate suggests that Kerry may hold off on endorsing until closer to the primaries, but when he does make his choice, that candidate will get access to a 3-million-name e-mail list, possibly the largest in the party.

When a Defense Department official accused Hillary Rodham Clinton of “reinforcing enemy propaganda” after she asked the Pentagon to start preparing for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, the Kerry associate says it was the Clinton team’s idea to have Kerry out front denouncing that accusation.

Kerry’s road back from the ashes of 2004 has been studded with self-inflicted setbacks. Ultimately, it won’t be as triumphant as Gore’s.

But nor will it take as long — and there are growing signs that the events of the post-2004 period have granted Kerry at least the right to say, “I told you so.”


Kerry’s vindication is coming quicker, if more quietly. His party already has embraced his position on Iraq. His argument that no military solution exists for the situation there is now the de facto Democratic stance. In June 2006, when Kerry helped force a vote on a phased U.S. troop withdrawal, his colleagues gave him a serious razzing and only 13 votes. Just over one year later, this past July, the same measure got 52.

Delaware Sen. Joe Biden recently sang Kerry’s praises during the Senate floor debate over Biden’s proposed “soft partition” of Iraq: “I wish to tell him how grateful I am for his joining in this amendment ... because an awful lot of people around the world look to my colleague for his insights into what we do about the most critical issue facing American foreign policy today.”

The Bush administration recently achieved a new nuclear pact with North Korea by using the approach Kerry advocated in 2004. The Washington Post noted on Oct. 4, “The agreement was reached after bilateral negotiations between the United States and North Korea, held in parallel with the six-nation talks, just as Kerry had suggested.”

Elizabeth Wilner prattles some and then goes on to say:
Then, after a laudable effort to help elect Democratic candidates in 2006 — the kind of effort Gore didn’t undertake after his loss in 2000 — came one botched joke about U.S. troops serving in Iraq. Donations of $14 million and visits to 35 states were instantly obscured a week before Election Day. The blowback was so severe that a few months later, Kerry had to exit the 2008 field before he really entered it.

His recovery has since been gaffe-free. Not coincidentally, his Senate colleagues who hope to trace his steps to the Democratic nomination seem to be recognizing the assets he brings to the table.

Which is the flip side of the swift-boat coin: The tactic may have damaged Kerry’s own chances in 2004, but his support could help inoculate other Democratic candidates against similar efforts to impugn their patriotism in 2008.

He also brings brass to the table — not only his own Vietnam service but also a small army of veteran supporters built during his presidential campaign and his efforts to support veterans who ran for office in 2006.


Kerry’s assets are not inconsiderable given that the current president plans to hand off the Iraq war to his successor and the top Republican candidates seem to be lifting the weak-on-terror charge from the Bush campaign playbook. It seems unlikely that between 2004 and 2008, the need for Democrats to show some trappings of strength will just disappear.

Maybe not worth a Nobel Prize, but certainly worth a little respect.

Having spent nearly two and a half years since the '04 election chronicling most of Kerry's work in the Senate and many of his speeches over that time (not to mention covering events with Kerry here in L.A.), I would have to no doubt claim bias that Kerry's endorsement does indeed hold a lot of weight for whoever it goes to. Kerry has been vindicated many times over that time period, and more so in the past few months it seems. I can't count how many times I have said here on The Dem Daily that "Kerry was right," but it is numerous.

All that said, as for now, still undecided on an '08 candidate myself, I must say that most likely, whither go John F. Kerry's endorsement, will probably go mine. Stay tuned...

Cross posted from The Democratic Daily.

Friday, October 12, 2007

John Kerry Congratulates Gore, IPCC on Nobel Peace Prize Win

The congratulations are pouring in for Al Gore and IPCC in the wake of the announcement this morning that they were "jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize today for their work educating the world about global warming and pressing for political action to control it." In a brief public appearance today in California, Gore "vowed to use the award to speed up needed changes in awareness and urgency in addressing climate change."
"It truly is a planetary emergency, and we have to respond quickly," he said.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee characterized Gore as "the single individual who has done most" to convince world governments and leaders that climate change is real, is caused by human activity and poses a grave threat. Gore has focused on the issue through books, promotional events and his Academy Award-winning documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth."

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a joint project of the United Nations Environment Program and the World Meteorological Organization, has been monitoring evidence of climate change and possible solutions since 1988.

Senator John Kerry chimed in and congratulated Vice President Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for winning the Nobel Peace Prize today:

“This is not only an incredibly well deserved honor for Vice President Gore, it reflects a global awakening to the urgency of taking action on global climate change. Way back when it wasn't easy, Al Gore began criss-crossing the country and the planet to help bring the science of climate change to people everywhere in a compelling way. He's been dogged and tenacious, and with the IPCC he's stood up for the truth against the deniers and the dividers who want to delay action and risk global catastrophe. Their efforts have rightfully been recognized with the highest honor the world community can bestow on those who help define and meet the great challenges of our time.”

Al Gore's statement on winning the Nobel is available here.

The naysayers are questioning what raising awareness of Global Warming has done for world peace, but one simply needs to look back to 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Muta Maathai and remember that Maathai, an environmentalist, "founded the Green Belt Movement, a grassroots environmental non-governmental organization," which had "planted over 30 million trees across Kenya to prevent soil erosion."

It's not rocket science, it's common sense. With out a sustainable environment, global strife over water, fertile grounds for farming and so many other issues will lead to conflicts around the world.

Related Post: Al Gore Wins Nobel Peace Prize with U.N. Panel on Climate Change

Cross posted from The Democratic Daily.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

John Kerry on How to Restore Integrity to Our Government

UPDATE: VIDEO AT KERRYVISION. The KerryVision camera crew was at the Q&A with bloggers and has posted a lovely video with behind-the-scenes material, including the question and answer blogged here.

On Monday, the Unofficial Kerry Blog had the opportunity to ask John Kerry his opinion on the best way to confront the corruption in our government and go about restoring integrity, in a political climate in which some are demanding impeachment of Bush and Cheney while others believe that the Democrats need to focus on getting other parts of their agenda through.

First the context: Senator Kerry gave the last in his series of Faneuil Hall speeches on Monday, October 1st. The speech was a tour de force, as the Senator spoke passionately about the ideas he has stressed all along -- responsibility, fairness, shared sacrifice and service --, this time applied specifically to the economic problems threatening the American middle class. You can watch video of the speech on KerryVision (KerryVision had its own crew there filming) here, or at JohnKerry.com here. Afterwards, the Senator made time for a brief Q&A with bloggers. Below Boston has posted their question and answer here. I next asked this question (you can download the audio by doing a right-click save-as here; the Senator's feelings on the issue come through more forcefully than a transcript can convey):

KVH: I have a question about what we can do about the level of, frankly, corruption in the government -- you know, some people are saying that anything less than impeachment of Bush, Cheney, et al. would not be adequate, while other people say if the Democrats invest too much energy in investigations and hearings and so forth, it's going to detract from getting other important business done. What do you think should be the focus in terms of restoring integrity to the government?

JK: Well, the focus has to be on winning a complete government that believes in those things. That means adding more seats to the House, more seats to the Senate, which we can do. I mean, we have very important races -- Jean Shaheen in New Hampshire, Tom Allen -- I mean, you know, Tom Allen in Maine, and in Colorado, Tom Udall, and so forth. If we can grow four, five or six seats, then we're in a position to override a ve -- you know, to get things done, which we can't do today. The House can pass something with a House rule, because they work differently. But in the Senate it takes 60 votes to actually do anything. So I'd rather focus on doing America's work in a way that draws the lines very clearly between what they're doing and what we want to do.

If you do get too caught up in the fracas of politics, they'll throw everybody out. And you don't want to do that in a state where you've got a very fragile line in a semi-red state or a purple state or whatever you want to call it.

So I think common sense says they are corrupt. But the books aren't going to be closed on that corruption if we can win the government. If we get an Attorney General in place and we have a Congress that then can move, we'll hold people accountable. And I don't disagree with you. I have not seen a level of real corruption -- I mean, it is corrupt, what we've seen in terms of the Justice Department, the contracting, the giveways, the quid pro quos, I mean all of the above. And it's just a lack of enforcement that's allowing it.

As he always does, the Senator gave a thoughtful answer that showed he's given the matter serious thought. Thanks to Senator Kerry for taking the time to talk with us on this important issue.