Friday, September 30, 2005

Courting the Black Vote, Republican Style

Moral authority and Republican wonk William Bennett must not have gotten the GOP memo that they're the 'big tent' party reaching out to black voters. Bennett recently said on his radio program crime would go down if black babies were aborted. If he was a football commentator instead of a conservative radio show host he'd be fired, never to be heard from again, a la Jimmy the greek. Place any bets on whether that happens? - IFK Editor

WASHINGTON - The White House on Friday criticized former Education Secretary William Bennett for remarks linking the crime rate and the abortion of black babies.

The president believes the comments were not appropriate," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said.

Bennett, on his radio show, "Morning in America," was answering a caller's question when he took issue with the hypothesis put forth in a recent book that one reason crime is down is that abortion is up.

"But I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could, if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down," said Bennett, author of "The Book of Virtues."

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Bush Pushing Conservation. What's Next?

Today President Bush appealed to Americans to drive less and conserve energy for the good of the nation. At the same time progressives everywhere rolled their eyes and recalled Vice President Dick Cheney's public remarks calling conservation a "personal virtue," not a sound energy policy. Well, well, what gives Mr. President?

If you need any other real solutions for America's energy crisis I recommend checking out Kerry's Energy Policy recommendations. Happy reading Mr. President. (Or your staffers anyway.)

Monday, September 19, 2005

Kerry Labels Bush the Katrina Administration

In a letter to his 3 million supporters Kerry came out firing in a blistering critique of the Bush Administration who he labeled The Katrina Administration

Read full transcript of Kerry Speech

Katrina is a symbol of all this administration does and doesn't do. Michael Brown -- or Brownie as the President so famously thanked him for doing a heck of a job -- Brownie is to Katrina what Paul Bremer is to peace in Iraq; what George Tenet is to slam dunk intelligence; what Paul Wolfowitz is to parades paved with flowers in Baghdad; what Dick Cheney is to visionary energy policy; what Donald Rumsfeld is to basic war planning; what Tom Delay is to ethics; and what George Bush is to "Mission Accomplished" and "Wanted Dead or Alive." The bottom line is simple: the "we'll do whatever it takes" administration doesn't have what it takes to get the job done.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Katrina Timeline - FACTCHECK.ORG

Multiple investigations are likely into the response by federal, state, and local officials to the disastrous flooding of New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina. New facts are still emerging, and we expect it will be months or years before a full picture can be properly assessed.

In response to numerous requests, we present here a brief timeline of events, as best as we can document them from public records and the best news reporting from the scene. We do not blame or excuse anyone, and leave it to others to judge what, if anything, could or should have been done differently. All times are converted to Central Daylight Time.

Katrina: What Happened When

John Kerry's Relief Package for Small Businesses Devastated by Hurricane Katrina Passes Senate

Contact: April Boyd, 202-224-4159; Marc Comer, 202-224-9431, both of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship

WASHINGTON, Sept. 15 /U.S. Newswire/ -- With estimates of more than 400,000 jobs lost and 200,000 small business hurt by Hurricane Katrina, the Senate today passed a package of emergency economic aid and federal assistance for small businesses and others reeling from the destruction in the Gulf Coast.

The bipartisan amendment was offered today by Sens. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.), Olympia J. Snowe (R- Maine), and David Vitter (R-La). It was authored by Kerry, who authored a similar assistance package for small businesses recovering in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Kerry is the Ranking Member of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee.

"When I was in Louisiana earlier this week, so many people said to me -- 'I want to work, I want to rebuild my home and my life, but I have no place to go.' The Gulf Coast needs so much, and this is a common-sense and very direct way to help people get their jobs and their dignity back," said Kerry. "Small businesses are at the heart of the Gulf Coast's economy and will be crucial to the rebuilding effort, so they are the best place to start when it comes to jump-starting the regional economy."

One of the most comprehensive pieces of the relief package will give small businesses across the country access to low- interest disaster loans to cope with the increased costs of oil, natural gas and gasoline. This will especially benefit farmers, truck drivers and others whose livelihood relies heavily on the price of gas.

In addition, the relief package also provides small businesses in the Gulf Region: * Access to short-term loans or grants that will be rapidly approved to help businesses that are waiting for SBA loan approval begin rebuilding immediately * A one-year deferral on the interest and payments for SBA disaster loans * Access to 30 percent of all federal contracts and 40 percent of subcontracting dollars used in the recovery and relief effort

-- Expanded Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) status, which gives small businesses in the area a preference when bidding on federal contracts

-- Increased counseling and business assistance provided through the SBA's entrepreneurial development centers, including Small Business Development Centers, SCORE, Microloan Technical Assistance, Women's Business Centers, and Veterans Business Outreach Centers * Greater opportunities for small construction companies to receive SBA bonding assistance, which is a type of financial loss insurance on the contract * The ability to refinance existing disaster loans and existing business debt with low-interest disaster loans

The original small business relief package was introduced yesterday by Senators Kerry and Landrieu as an amendment to the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill (S.2862) currently pending in the Senate.

The amendment is also supported by Sens. Jim Talent (R-Mo.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Edward M. Kennedy (D- Mass.), and Jon S. Corzine (D-N.J.), and Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.).

Senate Passes Kerry Legislation to Provide Tax Relief, Help Guard and Reserve Troops Hurt By Katrina

Contact: April Boyd, 202-224-4159 or Marc Comer, 202-224-9431, both of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship

WASHINGTON, Sept. 15 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Today the Senate passed legislation proposed by Senator John Kerry (D - Mass.) that will provide financial support to National Guard and Reservists through immediate tax relief to their employers affected by Hurricane Katrina.

The provision is a modified version of a key part of Kerry's Military Family Bill of Rights and was included in the tax package that passed the Senate today. It provides a tax credit to employers in the Gulf Coast impacted by Katrina who pay reservists that are called to duty in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Gulf Coast or elsewhere.

"Many reservists face a pay cut when called to active duty, and that can put a terrible financial strain on them and their families. Some employers have elected to do the right thing by easing that burden. I want more employers to make that patriotic effort, and this bill will help that" Senator Kerry said. "Where ever our reservists are serving, we should go the extra mile to help them and their families. This bill will help businesses in the Gulf Coast, who've been hard hit by Katrina, do just that."

"It is imperative that the House of Representatives does the right thing by including this provision in their bill, so we can quickly make this a reality for our military families."

More than 190,000 reservists and guardsmen have been called up for active duty in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Gulf Coast and other duty. Over 20,000 of these troops are from Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi.

Kerry's provision will provide relief to these military reservists and National Guard members by providing an employee retention credit which provides a 40 percent tax credit for wages paid up to $6,000 after August 28, 2005 and before December 31, 2005. This credit will help employers in the Gulf Coast who pay employees that are not able to work because the business was either damaged or destroyed and pay reservists and guardsmen that worked for them right up to the time before they were deployed.

Kerry has worked over the past two years with Senator Landrieu on legislation to provide assistance to businesses that employ reservists who have been called up to active duty. That legislation will provide tax credits to employers who pay reservists wages that are above their military pay and to help with the costs of hiring temporary workers.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Republican Senators Kills Bid for Katrina Commission

Can you say cover your ass mode? Republicans don't want answers to what went wrong regarding Katrina and they don't want a safer Homeland and a better response to the next disaster. Not one Republican Senator. Not McCain, Not Hagel, Not one Moderate Republican, NOT ONE!!! could rise above their partisanship and vote for America over party. - IFK Editor

Senate Kills Bid for Katrina Commission
WASHINGTON - Senate Republicans on Wednesday scuttled an attempt by Sen. Hillary Clinton to establish an independent, bipartisan panel patterned after the 9/11 Commission to investigate what went wrong with federal, state and local governments' response to Hurricane Katrina. The New York Democrat's bid to establish the panel — which would have also made recommendations on how to improve the government's disaster response apparatus — failed to win the two-thirds majority needed to overcome procedural hurdles. Clinton got only 44 votes, all from Democrats and independent Sen. Jim Jeffords of Vermont. Fifty-four Republicans all voted no.

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Case for "Common Good"

George Lakoff has been promoting the case for "Common Good" for some time now, but he writes about it with new a perspective and forcefulness after Hurricane Katrina. Read full text: The Post-Katrina Era

No one is saying people shouldn't take responsibility for their choices and how they lead their lives, but that we as a society are better as a whole when we look after each other. That's common sense and moral, regardless of your faith or non-faith.

I also recommend reading Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond. It's another wake up call full of examples, both historic and modern showing how we ignore the common good at our own peril. Will we as a society work together to avert catastrophe or will we persist in our selfish ways destroying the planet and what we leave our children? - IFK Editor

By Lakoff: The Katrina tragedy should become a watershed in American politics. This was when the usually invisible people suddenly appeared in all the anguish of their lives -- the impoverished, the old, the infirm, the kids and the low-wage workers with no cars, TVs or credit cards. They showed up on America's doorsteps, entered the living rooms and stayed. Katrina will not go away soon, and she has the power to change America.

The moral of Katrina is mostly being missed. It is not just a failure of execution (William Kristol), or that bad things just happen (Laura Bush). It was not just indifference by the President, or a lack of accountability, or a failure of federal-state communication, or corrupt appointments in FEMA, or the cutting of budgets for fixing levees, or the inexcusable absence of the National Guard off in Iraq. It was all of these and more, but they are the effects, not the cause.

The cause was political through and through -- a matter of values and principles. The progressive-liberal values are America's values, and we need to go back to them. The heart of progressive-liberal values is simple: empathy (caring about and for people) and responsibility (acting responsibly on that empathy). These values translate into a simple principle: Use the common wealth for the common good to better all our lives. In short, promoting the common good is the central role of government.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Kerry on the Possibility of a 2008 Presidential Run

At least Kerry admits the obvious. Yes, he has considered the thought of running in 2008. Sure would be nice if the McCain's, Hillary's, and other also rans would answer a simple questions with that much candor.

From a recent rally for Jon Corzine for governor
"I've thought about whether or not it might be possible," he said of running for president again, "but it's way too early to be caught up in or even serious about that now."


Kerry, who has not ruled out another run for the presidency, said his visit to New Jersey had nothing to do with laying groundwork for a 2008 campaign and was instead an effort to help "strengthen the Democratic party." His schedule yesterday also included events in Morristown and Edison, and two fundraisers for New Jersey Democrats at the Jersey Shore.

John Kerry Offers Major Package of Legislation to Help Small Businesses, Others Devastated by Hurricane Katrina

From the Original Kerry Blog

A few days ago we heard from John Kerry as he reached out to his email list and asked for supporters to donate to the Red Cross to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. Kerry said in his email, "I plan to work in coming days to find more ways that we can help joining with my colleagues in the Senate to support those who have lost so much and those working so hard to help them."

I just received the following Press Release from John Kerry's Senate office, detailing what John Kerry has been working on in the past few days. This legislation sponsored today on the Senate Floor, addresses far reaching aid that the Bush administration has neglected to address.

Full Details: John Kerry Offers Major Package of Legislation to Help Small Businesses, Others Devastated by Hurricane Katrina

Kerry challenges GOP where it lives

Campaigning in Republican territory for Sen. Jon Corzine as New Jersey's governor, Kerry had a couple good one liners and plenty of encouragement for bringing common sense back into governement leadership and policies.

Kerry challenges GOP where it lives

"Don't think about any poll," Kerry said.

"It doesn't matter if it's ahead or behind. All that matters is what you do between now and November. (of 2005)"

Kerry criticized the Bush administration on several occasions during his speech, saying other Americans struggle economically while the wealthy have thrived. Kerry also expressed outrage over the response to Hurricane Katrina.

"I think we ought to put intelligent design into Iraq, into FEMA and into the policies of this country," Kerry said.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Kerry to Bush: "Don't You Dare" Cut More Taxes for the Rich

Dear ___,

"More tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans are off the table." Those are the words that America is waiting to hear from President Bush. At a time of crisis and enormous need, it should be an easy decision for him to make. He could make the announcement tomorrow.

There is hurt and suffering all around us. Estimates are that it will cost as much as $150 billion to help the hard-hit people and communities of the Gulf Coast get back on their feet following Katrina's devastation. And the Bush administration's failed policies in Iraq are draining billions of dollars from our treasury every month.

But still, Republican leaders refuse to abandon their obsession with granting still more tax cuts to the wealthy and well-connected. Don't let them get away with it.

Sign our "Don't You Dare" petition right now.

Believe it or not, with all our nation is going through, there are Republicans still pushing to put tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans on Congress' agenda this fall.

Republican leaders were forced to postpone plans for an immediate vote this week on eliminating the estate tax. But, they haven't backed off their larger plan for more tax cuts to benefit the wealthiest Americans.

This is a test of what kind of country we are. Are we an America that responds to crisis by helping the most vulnerable in times of need, or do we just give more to those who have the most?

Please join today in demanding that Republican leaders forego any and all plans to lavish tax cuts on the wealthy at this moment of crisis.

What can they be thinking? Why haven't President Bush, Senator Frist and Speaker Hastert taken off the table the outrageous notion of bestowing more tax cuts on the wealthy at a time like this? How long will it be before they start telling us that tax cuts for the wealthy can provide just the stimulus we need to get the Gulf Coast economy moving again?

Going forward with the GOP's next round of tax cuts for the wealthy would be a bitter betrayal -- a slap in the face to the hundreds of thousands of Katrina survivors struggling to put their lives back together. It's time for the President and his Republican colleagues to send a clear, unambiguous message that they understand the situation our nation is facing. The American people want to hear from them now -- and, until they back off of their tax cuts for the wealthy, we'll make sure they hear from us.

All around us, there are signs of American courage and American compassion. People who lived through hell are finding the strength to carry on. People who know what their fellow Americans are going through have reached out in one of the most far-reaching displays of generosity in our nation's history.

Yet here the Republican Party's leaders sit back in Washington, desperately clinging to the hope that they can force through another round of tax cuts for the chosen few. They shouldn't wait a day longer before they make a clear commitment not to pursue more tax cuts for the wealthy. And, until they come to their senses, we'll keep the pressure on.

We've got to stop these tax cuts from diverting resources that are needed for vitally important priorities such as helping those who have lost so much -- and have so far to go before they are on the road to recovery.

I hope you'll sign our "Don't You Dare" petition today demanding that Republican leaders abandon their plans to lavish more tax cuts on the wealthy. There has never been a more important time than this to give voice to your values.

I hope you will stand with us.


John Kerry

P.S. After you sign the petition, please forward it to everyone you can think of who might be willing to sign. The more signatures we gather, the more quickly we can force Republican leaders to take tax cuts for the wealthy off the table.

Monday, September 05, 2005

BushCo Shamelessly Blames State and Local Authorities

Apparently feeling the heat, the Bush admin has turned to finger pointing and blaming local authorities for the slow response to Katrina. Even if this was justified, that finger pointing would lead back to Bush, who’s tax cuts severely hurt state and local budgets. You get what you pay for Mr President. When you value tax breaks for the rich over social needs for the common good, like more police or emergency personnel, it shouldn’t come as a surprise when in an emergency things don’t go smoothly. -IFK Editor

New Orleans: Glimpse of the Future?

Yes, New Orleans is a city built below sea level, but with the threat of global warming is this a glimpse of the future or one possible future for all coastal cities in America? One expert on coastline restoration, Mike Tidwell, who appeared on Meet the Press had this to say...

Full Transcript

Mr. Tidwell: The big, big, big take-away message here is: New Orleans is the future of Miami, New York, San Diego, every coastal city in the world, because whether the land sinks three feet and you get a bowl in a hurricane like this, or sea level rises worldwide, same problem. We have got to address this energy problem that David mentioned. We have an irrational energy problem.

The way most Americans are going to feel this hurricane is at the gas pump and the energy. That's because this infrastructure is irrationally exposed to hurricanes. That's a problem big enough itself and shows how vulnerable we are to fossil fuels. Then you have the consequences of fossil fuels and greenhouse gases turning every city, coastal city in the world into a New Orleans. We've got to start thinking about a new energy future.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Katrina's Aftermath

Unless you're in a cave you know where to donate and how to help, and boy do they need it. Since New Orleans, and the country for that matter, are still in crisis mode, we have to focus on helping those in need. In the back of my mind however, and it's unfortunate, I can't help thinking about the almost cavalier response that may have cost more lives and billions more in damage. Yes this was a devastating storm of monstrous proportions, but why didn't we expect more damage and have National Guard and the military on high alert, ready to respond at a moments notice? The scenarios for a storm like this have been written about for years.

Obviously you can't blame a President for a natural disaster, but you can judge his reaction to it, and clearly Bush's was lacking in comprehension of the circumstances, readiness for the aftermath, and active leadership in response. Sure people will say that's unfair or bias, but deep down in their hearts they know that if it was their city wiped out, George Bush would be the last person who they'd want in charge of rescue operations. He may get to it as long as it doesn't interfere with his good night of sleep. -IFK Editor