Monday, October 31, 2005

Unethical Republican Spin

Joe Klien from TIME Magazine Gets it Right. - IFK Editor

The Perils of the Permanent Campaign

...(Bush's) Administration represents the final, squalid perfection of the Permanent Campaign: a White House where almost every move is tactical, a matter of momentary politics, even decisions that involve life and death and war. That is what the Scooter Libby indictment is really all about.

It is about trying to spin a war.

Bush's White House is a conundrum, a bastion of telegenic idealism and deep cynicism. The President has proposed vast, transformational policies—the remaking of the Middle East, of Social Security, of the federal bureaucracy. But he has done so in a haphazard way, with little attention to detail or consequences. There are grand pronouncements and, yes, crusades, punctuated with marching words like evil and moral and freedom. Beneath, though, is the cynical assumption that the public doesn't care about the details—that results don't matter, corners can be cut and special favors bestowed.

Bush opposed a Department of Homeland Security, then supported it as a campaign ploy—and then allowed it to be slapped together carelessly, diminishing the effectiveness of the agencies involved.

But worse, far worse, was the tendency of the White House—particularly Karl Rove's message apparatus—to see the war as part of the Permanent Campaign, as a political opportunity at first and then, as the news turned bad, as merely another issue to be massaged. There is something quite obscene about the existence of the White House Iraq Group (whig). Its job had nothing to do with the military or political situation in Iraq; it was created to market the war and to smear the President's opponents. Rove and Libby were at the heart of this group. Their decision to ask Congress for a war resolution in September 2002, two months before the congressional elections, seemed an obvious marketing ploy. Rove told Republicans that they could "go to the country with this issue," that it would reinforce the party's image as strong on defense. The simultaneous decision to take the Iraq situation to the United Nations was also a campaign ploy—polls showed the vast majority of voters favored this course—and a chimera. Both Cheney and Rumsfeld were opposed to the move, and Rumsfeld pretty much ignored it: he proceeded full-speed ahead, deploying troops for a late-winter invasion.

Read Full Article: The Perils of the Permanent Campaign

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Kerry Calls for Pulling 20,000 Troops

WASHINGTON - Sen. John Kerry says President Bush should bring home 20,000 troops from Iraq over the Christmas holidays if the December elections there are successful.

Defeated by Bush last year and a potential candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, Kerry called for a "reasonable time frame" for pulling back troops rather than a full-scale withdrawal advocated by some Democrats. He said it could be completed in 12 to 15 months.

"It will be hard for this administration, but it is essential to acknowledge that the insurgency will not be defeated unless our troop levels are drawn down, starting immediately after successful elections in December," Kerry said in a speech prepared for delivery Wednesday at Georgetown University. Excerpts of the speech were obtained by the Associated Press.

Full Article: Kerry Calls for Pulling 20,000 Troops

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Kerry PAC Working to Defeat Key Republicans in 2006

In a letter to supporters Kerry shows his fighting form.
You can donate to his PAC here:

It's the question that's on everyone's mind: with Republican incompetence, cronyism and corruption on full display, when are Democrats going to stand up and break the Republicans' grip on power and finally move America forward?

How about right now?

If you've had it with incompetent, divisive, uncaring Republican officials, I hope you will act immediately to help Keeping America's Promise wage an all-out effort to remove the worst of the bunch from office in the upcoming elections. Support Keeping America's Promise

I'm talking about people like Tom DeLay whose bare-knuckled, dictatorial style has earned him a nickname -- the Hammer . . . like Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania, the leading Senate apologist for the miserable record of the Bush administration . . . like Ralph Reed, the former radical right leader turned Abramoff-tainted lobbyist now running for lieutenant governor in Georgia.

One thing is certain: America would be better off if the 2006 elections ended with all three of these figures -- DeLay, Santorum and Reed -- standing in defeat. And your support for Keeping America's Promise's grassroots efforts to win the most critical electoral contests of 2005 and 2006 can drive them from office.

Reed was one of the architects of brutal attacks on the patriotism of Senator Max Cleland, a Vietnam War hero, and he's counting on benefiting from a new poll tax in Georgia that puts barriers in the path of voters. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says that the Republicans' tactics will "make Georgia the toughest place in the nation to vote." [editorial, 3/22/05]

Like DeLay, Reed has been tainted by his closeness with out-of-control Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the central figure in a Republican lobbying scandal that has rocked the Republican establishment.

To those of us who want to move America forward, the upcoming elections have now become a contest over the strength and vibrancy of democracy itself. From key Senate races to critical House races to vitally important state and local contests, we've got to make our voices heard.

From Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania to Conrad Burns in Montana to Jon Kyl in Arizona, 15 Republican Senators are up for re-election in 2006. Keeping America's Promise will do whatever we can to make sure they are thrown out of office before they can do any more damage and that they are replaced with Democratic Senators who will move America in the right direction.

With your help, Keeping America's Promise will use newspaper ads, radio ads, online organizing campaigns and more to expose Republican politicians and their record of inaction on the issues that really matter to America's families.

And that's just the start. Keeping America's Promise is also working hard to help Democratic candidates squaring off face-to-face with the Republican Party's relentless, win-at-any-cost tactics.

From the vitally important governors' races this year in Virginia and New Jersey . . . to the campaigns of Senate colleagues like Hillary Clinton, Dianne Feinstein and Maria Cantwell . . . to key Democratic challengers like Bob Casey in Pennsylvania . . . with your help, Keeping America's Promise is putting the strength of a powerful grassroots movement into winning key elections.

We're helping at every level of government. By November 2005, we will have supported candidates and causes in a majority of states across the country and invested or raised over $2.3 million to help Senate, House, gubernatorial, mayoral and other candidates as well as national and state Democratic party committees. And we're backing that up with multi-media campaigns, voter mobilization drives and more to make the voices of grassroots Democrats heard in the most critical contests.

This is the kind of all-out Democratic effort that requires your immediate help.

Support Keeping America's Promise

Make no mistake about it. The Washington Republicans have thrown down the gauntlet. They've made it clear that they intend to keep pressing forward with their radical agenda and keep ignoring the real needs of America's families.

Don't let them get away with it. Lend your immediate financial support to Keeping America's Promise right now.

John Kerry

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Kennedy Reiterates Support of Kerry in 2008

Kennedy said of the American people: "Every day, I think they regret that John wasn't elected."

"If he runs, I would support him," Kennedy told The Associated Press in an interview at his Boston office.

See Article: Kennedy: I'll Support Kerry in 2008 Race

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

A Second Chance for Kerry in '08

David Yepsen, the go-to guy in Iowa politics, wonders aloud about a second chance for Kerry in 2008. Most of his points are common knowledge within the Kerry supporter ranks, but he's right, Kerry would have to fight conventional wisdom and make his argument to the American people. To his credit Kerry is going about his busines and fighting for causes he believes in. He's demonstrating leadership and he's having a visible effect on the debate and direction of this country. -IFK Editor

Yepsen: A second go for Kerry? He'd need to convince Iowans why

October 11, 2005

So, should John Kerry run for president again?

It appears Iowa Democrats may be asked to answer that question. The Massachusetts senator was back in the state on Sunday doing appearances and looking as if he were ready for another bid for the White House in 2008.

The conventional wisdom is that Kerry shouldn't do it. He's had his chance and muffed it. He's so scarred by the 2004 campaign, he'd still be damaged goods in 2008. A Kerry candidacy would be a rehash of the past, just as it would be if Al Gore ran again or if Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton runs. Instead, goes this logic, Democrats should look for a fresher face.

As with all conventional wisdom, there's some truth to it. And as with all conventional wisdom, it may be wrong. Presidencies are won by risk-takers who beat conventional wisdoms.

Kerry's advice to Iowa Democrats this week could easily apply to himself: "You can't sit around and cry in your teacup and lament about it. You've got to take that frustration and, in some places anger, and channel it into doing what we know how to do."

If he runs again, Kerry would have an uphill struggle. Democrats haven't given a losing presidential nominee another shot at the White House since they renominated Adlai Stevenson in 1956. He lost in a landslide to President Eisenhower.

The senator was having no public talk of another run in 2008, but you could tell by his schedule he was sending a "keep me in mind" signal to activist Iowa Democrats on Sunday. He made appearances in the party strongholds of Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Iowa City.

You also could tell he'd learned some lessons from 2004. His Des Moines speech was only about 15 minutes long, not one of those wonkish lectures voters had to endure during the campaign. He also slipped in a little discussion of religious faith, something Democrats learned they need to do.

What's the case for another Kerry run?

• He came close, oh so close, in 2004. Bush got 51 percent. Kerry got 48 percent. Only 120,000 more votes in Ohio, and you wouldn't be reading this column.

Kerry reminded his Des Moines audience of his strong showing by saying: "Remember, we won 10 million more votes than we've ever won in a presidential race in the history of the country. We actually exceeded our targets in every single precinct. Trouble is, they learned how to get out the vote, too, which means we just have to get out and find more votes."

Considering Kerry was running against a wartime president, someone Americans are always reluctant to boot from office, he didn't do that poorly.

• Kerry's been vetted. He's been through the crucible once, and the lessons he learned would be useful again.

Media people, opponents and voters have all had a chance to study the man. Many saw him as presidential material. He did well in the debates. The smear attacks on him in 2004 will be old news in 2008. And considering how poorly Bush has been doing of late, Kerry looks better by the day.

• He was a classy loser. Unlike Al Gore, who skulked off to grow a beard, Kerry withdrew quickly and honorably. He set about tending his duties in the U.S. Senate, giving speeches and trying to help fellow Democrats win elections in 2006, which is shaping up to be a good year for them.

• Kerry understands why he lost. Strategists in his camp say if he does run again, the campaign will be more nimble in responding to attacks than it was in 2004. He won't be isolated from key Democrats seeking to offer advice.

Also, Democrats hindered Kerry by nominating him a month before Republicans re-nominated Bush. That made Kerry the official candidate of his party before Bush became the official candidate of his, which limited Kerry's ability to spend money to respond to the attacks coming from the other side. It's a mistake Democrats won't repeat.

If Kerry wants to run again in 2008, he'll have to discuss these things publicly with Iowa Democrats. They gave him an important victory in the 2004 caucuses, largely on the strength of his argument that he was the most electable of their choices.

Since he didn't win, they'll need to hear just what he'd do differently if they gave him another chance.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Building the Progressive Network

Post 2004 election I had major concerns about the Democratic Party's ability to organize and coordinate between local, state, and national political races.

Hopefully some strides are being made. Here's an update on how new party chairman Howard Dean is going about his job.

Analysis: Dean borrows ideas to rebuild party

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Love Your Brother as Yourself

In an essay that appeared in the August edition of Harpers Magazine, Bill McKibben asks the question, "If we're such a Christian Nation how come we don't act very Christian?" Read The Christian Paradox

Far from following the example of Jesus, many Americans and their moral leaders seem to subscribe to the belief, 'God helps those who help themselves', which is interesting since the saying is originally credited to Ben Franklin and doesn't appear anywhere in the Bible. I guess if you're selling religion to the masses and building super churches it's better to have a product that resonates with your audience. Don't we all just want justification for our greedy self loving ways. What would Jesus really think?

And not to poke around in old wounds, but in that same edition there's an article about the 2004 election results: None Dare Call It Stolen

Update: Since I posted this it turns out to be good timing. Kerry urged Democrats to have a values debate in the 2006 midterm elections. Read: John Kerry calls for reopening values debate

Friday, October 07, 2005

How to Win Back the White House in 2008

A new report out (see below) warns Democrats not to go too far left if they want a chance at the White House. While I don't agree with everything in it, as an independent, I have been arguing for common sense solutions since 2003 in support of Kerry's Presidential campaign. The report makes the case for Democrats to boost their image on Security and Foreign Policy, which seems like a no brainer, but it also advocates for Democrats to break with stereotype on at least one major issue. I believe Kerry has and will continue to do this by fighting for balanced budgets.
Remember those? We haven't had one since a Democrat was in office. In 2004 Kerry fought to roll back Bush's untenable tax cut for the rich to pay for the Iraq war and healthcare costs, yet he was demonized for it. It's time for fiscally conservative Republicans to realize their Party has abandoned them. Democrats should continue to hammer this message home. -IFK Editor

Report Warns Democrats Not to Tilt Too Far Left

By Thomas B. Edsall
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 7, 2005; Page A07

The liberals' hope that Democrats can win back the presidency by drawing sharp ideological contrasts and energizing the partisan base is a fantasy that could cripple the party's efforts to return to power, according to a new study by two prominent Democratic analysts.

In the latest shot in a long-running war over the party's direction -- an argument turned more passionate after Democrat John F. Kerry's loss to President Bush last year -- two intellectuals who have been aligned with former president Bill Clinton warn that the only way back to victory is down the center.

Democrats must "admit that they cannot simply grow themselves out of their electoral dilemmas," wrote William A. Galston and Elaine C. Kamarck, in a report released yesterday. "The groups that were supposed to constitute the new Democratic majority in 2004 simply failed to materialize in sufficient number to overcome the right-center coalition of the Republican Party."

Since Kerry's defeat, some Democrats have urged that the party adopt a political strategy more like one pursued by Bush and his senior adviser, Karl Rove -- which emphasized robust turnout of the party base rather than relentless, Clinton-style tending to "swing voters."

But Galston and Kamarck, both of whom served in the Clinton White House, said there are simply not enough left-leaning voters to make this a workable strategy. In one of their more potentially controversial findings, the authors argue that the rising numbers and influence of well-educated, socially liberal voters in the Democratic Party are pulling the party further from most Americans.

On defense and social issues, "liberals espouse views diverging not only from those of other Democrats, but from Americans as a whole. To the extent that liberals now constitute both the largest bloc within the Democratic coalition and the public face of the party, Democratic candidates for national office will be running uphill."

Galston and Kamarck -- whose work was sponsored by Third Way, a group working with Senate Democrats on centrist policy ideas -- are critical of three other core liberal arguments:

· They warn against overreliance on a strategy of solving political problems by "reframing" the language by which they present their ideas, as advocated by linguist George Lakoff of the University of California at Berkeley: "The best rhetoric will fail if the public rejects the substance of a candidate's agenda or entertains doubts about his integrity."

· They say liberals who count on rising numbers of Hispanic voters fail to recognize the growing strength of the GOP among Hispanics, as well as the growing weakness of Democrats with white Catholics and married women.

· They contend that Democrats who hope the party's relative advantages on health care and education can vault them back to power "fail the test of political reality in the post-9/11 world." Security issues have become "threshold" questions for many voters, and cultural issues have become "a prism of candidates' individual character and family life," Galston and Kamarck argue.

Their basic thesis is that the number of solidly conservative Republican voters is substantially larger that the reliably Democratic liberal voter base. To win, the argument goes, Democrats must make much larger inroads among moderates than the GOP.

Galston, a professor of public policy at the University of Maryland, and Kamarck, a lecturer at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, in 1989 wrote the influential paper, "The Politics of Evasion," which helped set the stage for Clinton's presidential bid and the prominent role of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council. In some ways, the report released yesterday showed how difficult the debate is to resolve.

Their recommendations are much less specific than their detailed analysis of the difficulties facing the Democratic Party.

They suggest that Democratic presidential candidates replicate Clinton's tactics in 1992, when he broke with the party's liberal base by approving the execution of a semi-retarded prisoner, by challenging liberal icon Jesse L. Jackson and by calling for an end to welfare "as we know it."

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Kerry Clone, Hackett to Run for Senate in Ohio

UPDATE: Paul Hackett announces he will leave the race.

Today I am announcing that I am withdrawing from the race for United States Senate. I made this decision reluctantly, only after repeated requests by party leaders, as well as behind the scenes machinations, that were intended to hurt my campaign.

While I think Ohio lost a quality candidate, and I won't speculate on the behind the scenes politics, I reiterate that the theme of my initial post still rings true as Democrats are running dozens of Iraqi vets around the country. Read about Fighting Dems. - IFK Editor

ORIGINAL POST: Ohio Democrats are excited! Iraqi War Vet and recent candidate for congress, Paul Hackett, just announced he will run for US Senate. Progressive activists love him for his scathing anti-Bush / anti-war rhetoric, while Republican moderates respect him for his military service and strong outspoken leadership abilities. Hmm, does that combination remind you of any one? John Kerry, perhaps?

Of course timing is everything in politics and what a difference 9 months makes. Hackett's rise to political stardom coincides with the Bush administration's political meltdown, but then again if you go back to the '04 Presidential race John Kerry was talking about issue after issue that is now biting Bush and his Republican Party in the behind. From inadequate federal funding for infrastructure (levees) and Homeland protection and preparedness, to backward looking energy policy, to poor planning in post Iraq, Kerry is being proven right. Bush's policies have benefited the rich at the expense of American society as a whole. History is judging, and it is not being kind.

To the political pundits and prognosticators I hope they pay close attention to Hackett's senate race. One might go so far as to call Hackett's candidacy a litmus test for Kerry's political platform from '04 and perhaps again in '08.

I say this because, while Hackett is his own man, tall, good looking, blunt talking, and battle tested, the similarities with Kerry's resume and progressive yet fiscally conservative politics are hard to miss. He's a Kerry clone in all the best ways. If Ohioan's elect Hackett, one could argue that bodes well for Kerry's vision for America, and a rejection of Republican 'values'. - IFK Editor

Hackett aims for Senate
Democrat will challenge DeWine in 2006 election

Paul Hackett, the Iraq War veteran who was hailed by national Democrats for his narrow loss this summer in a heavily Republican House district, will challenge Sen. Mike DeWine in 2006.

"Paul Hackett is running for U.S. Senate," said spokesman David Woodruff, who served as Hackett's campaign manager in his special election campaign against Rep. Jean Schmidt.

Hackett is planning to officially announce his decision Oct. 24 in his hometown of Cincinnati, then begin a bus tour through Ohio, Woodruff said Monday.