Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Kerry Fundraising for Key Senate Races

Kerry puts his muscle behind the following candidates in his latest fundraising appeal to supporters. Obviously Ohio is of personal significance to Kerry, since it cost him the presidency in '04 and could tip the scale for a Democratic President in 2008 (regardless of who the candidate is). Harold Ford Jr. is a up an coming leader in the democratic party who was an early Kerry backer in '04 and who always impressed me when he was delivering the democratic message. Minnesota is another key swing state in the midwest that the GOP would love to pick up, which is why it's critical to make sure they don't. -IFK Editor

Harold Ford Jr., running for Senate in Tennessee, has never been afraid to take tough stands and hold our leaders accountable for policies he believes are failing the American people. He represents a new generation of leadership dedicated to breaking the stranglehold of Middle East oil, making health care more affordable, and building genuine national security at home and in the world.

I can tell you this: the Senate urgently needs his voice, his vision and his vote. By acting before the midnight Friday deadline, you can make it happen.

The Tennessee Senate race is so crucial that we're devoting this week to alerting our grassroots supporters around the country to Harold's campaign -- and to two other vitally important Senate races in Ohio and Minnesota.

In Ohio, Sherrod Brown is running a strong campaign against Senator Mike DeWine, who has spent his time in the Senate serving as a rubber stamp for Bush's failed policies and refusing to stand up to the culture of corruption. American families can't afford 6 more years of a Senator who supports privatizing Medicare and Social Security. Sherrod Brown will fight for health care and stand up to protect our seniors, and our children; as a Congressman, he was the chief Democratic sponsor of the bipartisan Children's Health Act of 2000, which expanded research on autism, birth defects, and other child-related diseases. A respected voice in Congress on U.S. trade policy, Sherrod led the bipartisan opposition to last summer's flawed Central American Free Trade Agreement.

Another leader we need in the Senate is Amy Klobuchar who is doing a terrific job frustrating Karl Rove's efforts to turn Minnesota red. Bush, Frist, and a whole parade of GOP leaders have been to the state trying to shore up Amy's Republican opponent who is a Bush rubber stamp, voting with the President 97% of the time. As Hennepin County prosecutor, Amy has been a strong advocate for women, doubling the number of domestic abuse cases prosecuted in the County. I need Amy with me in the Senate to fight for health care reform, energy independence, tax fairness and economic and international security.

219 U.S. Cities Agree to Kyoto Protocal Limits

Last week, Seattle's Mayor Nickels launched his plan to bring Seattle into compliance with the Kyoto Protocol to reduce global-warming emissions. Over the past year, Nickels has led a campaign to get U.S. cities to pledge to meet or beat the goals set in the Kyoto Protocol, an agreement rejected by the Bush administration. Already, 219 cities have joined the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, which strives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. Through its Cool Cities program, the Sierra Club is committed to doubling the number of cities signed up and to work with mayors to follow through on their pledges.

Read "Climate change is in the air" in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

New Books Detail Climate Change

It's not like there's any shortage of evidence for climate change, however two new books present a very readable and important summary of what we currently KNOW, and more importantly how we can step up and reduce carbon emissions to avoid a global environmental and economic catastrophe.

How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth
By Tim Flannery
Man, Nature, and Climate Change
By Elizabeth Kolbert

I recommend both. Also see the review of each in BusinessWeek

Thursday, March 23, 2006

2008 Presidential Horse Race As it Stands Today

ABC's political unit has put together their best guess power rankings for 2008 Presidential contenders. They call it the 2008 Presidential Invisible Primary Ratings.

Hillary and McCain of course rank in the top spot for their respective parties, however the real story is the breakdown of individual strengths and weaknesses of each candidate. While the results are debatable, I think it's a useful tool regardless of who you support to assess the realistic potential of your candidate and understand what needs to happen for that person to move up between now and early 2008 during the nomination process.

As a Kerry supporter in 2004 who listened as the press made numerous preposterous statements about his chances to win the nomination, I take this latest predictive ranking with a grain of salt. That said, I'm not above realizing potential challenges Kerry would face in 2008 and working hard to improve on those areas, and thankfully neither is Kerry.

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Value of Values

by The Rockridge Institute (Also see George Lakoff)

This is a passage from the first phase of the Rockridge Manual for Progressives, which will be available this summer. Using the tools of cognitive science and linguistics, The Rockridge Institute seeks to articulate and promote the values behind traditional American democracy. The Rockridge Manual provides a map of the overall framework of values and ideas for progressive thought, and offers practical material on how these concepts can be applied to communicate our positions honestly and persuasively.

Values come up again and again in political discussion. Candidates are pressed to identify and talk about their values, and are flayed in debate for not voicing them with clarity and conviction.

Values are guiding principles of behavior that have to do with comport (integrity, discipline), communication (honesty, truthfulness), and our basic beliefs about people (freedom, equality, worth) and how they should be treated (justice, equity). One of the most salient differences between the conservative and progressive interpretation of values is that conservatives typically understand values with respect to the individual, while progressives see them as fundamentally social, guiding relations among people.

This crucial insight explains why certain values are more central to one side of the political spectrum than the other. Core conservative values (such as self-discipline, tradition, independence) are guiding principles for individual actions, while central progressive values (like empathy, progress, diversity) are especially relevant as we structure our relationships with others and our communities.

We often take the meaning of specific values for granted and assume that our interpretation is consistent with the views of others. In fact, many values are highly contested, resulting in a wide variance in what they signify and how they are understood.

Read the rest of this article on our website: The Rockridge Institute

Saturday, March 18, 2006

McCain and Bush Sittin' in a Tree

Isn't this a cute picture?

John McCain and George Bush hugging

Since the press can't stop repeating the ridiculous story line that McCain is some straight talkin' maverick within the Republican party I've been looking for a picture such as this to remind people that McCain is a phony sellout concerned more about political positioning than solutions to America's problems.

McCain knows he needs to beef up his conservative creds to have a legitimate shot in '08 and apparently he decided the best way to do that was by embracing the worst president in US history and backing him 100% in 2004. (This sweaty man hug must have been a bitter pill for McCain since it was Bush's operatives in 2000 who took McCain out of the republican primaries using typical dirty tactics like floating a rumor suggesting he was unstable and that he had fathered an illegitimate black girl, who in real life is his adopted daughter from Bangladesh.)

Is McCain crying on George's shoulder, realizing what a sellout he has become or is he whispering sweet nothing's into George's ear, "You own me in 2008, you incompetent prick."

More perspective here:

  • John McCain is no maverick, but rather is a Bush toadie
  • McCain has been working to get closer to Bush
  • Wednesday, March 15, 2006

    Kerry Promotes Energy Independence - Against Arctic Refuge Drilling

    Kerry urges supporters to contact their Senators to once again defeat Republican attempts to drill in the Artic Refuge:

    It didn't take long. Despite the stunning defeat we dealt them just a few months ago, proponents of drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge are at it again.

    Because when they can't win the game they just change the rules, now they've inserted language in the Senate budget bill to hand over this precious natural treasure to big oil companies -- even though they know full well that it won't make a dime's worth of difference in making America more energy independent.

    Tell your Senators to save the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and take real action toward achieving energy independence.

    Here are the five cornerstones of Kerry's 2020 Energy Plan that Congress should be acting on instead of more oil subsidies and giveaways.

    More than 20 states have implemented market-based Renewable Energy Portfolio programs that require utilities to gradually increase the portion of electricity produced from renewable resources such as wind, biomass, geothermal, and solar energy. We should build on that success at the national level. Tell your Senators to enact a nationwide Renewable Portfolio Standard so that 20% of our energy comes from renewable sources by 2020. A study by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that implementing this policy would save $26.6 billion and that commercial and industrial customers would be the biggest winners.

    We have the ability to transform our transportation sector from one that fuels our addiction to one that drives us toward a sustainable future. The President should build on that demand and fuel new production opportunities by supporting a mandate that agriculture will provide 20% of the total energy consumed in the United States by 2020.

    In addition to developing new sources of energy, we must make better use of available energy. New technological advances in appliances, energy grid systems, and buildings can boost productivity, create jobs, improve the reliability and safety of the energy infrastructure, and make dramatic inroads in reducing air pollution. Congress should enact energy efficiency measures to decrease energy use by 20% by 2020.

    The government should provide an aggressive set of tax incentives and grants for consumers and for industries that are retooling plants to promote the manufacturing and purchase of hybrid vehicles, which run on a combination of gas and electric power to sharply increase efficiency. Twenty percent of all passenger cars and trucks on the road should be high-efficiency, low emissions hybrids by 2020.

    Today, America spends more than $500,000 per minute on foreign oil or $30 million per hour. We paid more than $42 billion for Persian Gulf imports alone in 2005. It is bad enough that these dollars will not help grow our domestic economy -- it is even worse when you consider their impact on our national security. Congress should act to eliminate America's oil imports from the Middle East by 2020.

    Sunday, March 12, 2006

    Kerry Considering 2008 Run

    From the Boston Globe:
    Kerry takes another look at presidency:
    Says loss in 2004 made him tougher

    "When you get knocked on your ass and lose a race, you’ve got to stop and reflect on what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, what matters, and what’s important. And I did," Kerry said in an interview in his Senate office on Thursday. "There’s a very different John Kerry now who is absolutely crystal clear about how I communicate what I need to communicate. . . . People are going to be looking for leadership."

    Wednesday, March 08, 2006

    McCain Linked to Abramoff

    In the must read story of the week Vanity Fair has an exclusive interview with Jack Abramoff, Republican lobbyist extraordinaire, in which he talks openly about his resentment that so many Republican politicians are denying they ever met him or worked with him.

    One large Republican fish specifically mentioned by Abramoff is 2008 Presidential favorite John McCain.

    According to the article:
    "Mr. Abramoff flatters himself," Mark Salter, McCain's administrative assistant, tells Margolick. "Senator McCain was unaware of his existence until he read initial press accounts of Abramoff's abuses, and had never laid eyes on him until he appeared before the committee."

    Abramoff says, "As best I can remember, when I met with him, he didn't have his eyes shut. I'm surprised that Senator McCain has joined the chorus of amnesiacs."

    Stay tuned. This could get interesting.

    Monday, March 06, 2006

    Stopping the Spread of Nukes

    On Saturday I attended a conference about stopping the spread of nuclear weapon technology, called Nuclear Hypocrisy: Iran, the United States, and the Perils of Proliferation. It couldn't have been a more timely conference as that very weekend President Bush was in India threatening to undermine non proliferation efforts by rewarding India with nuclear technology despite its earlier illegal actions to build and test a nuclear weapon of its own.

    What message does that send to Iran who is now following India's path, intent on acquiring nuclear weapon capabilities? If it looks to India as an example the lesson is simple: There are no real consequences for enriching uranium and building a nuclear program.

    Non proliferation only works if you apply it across the board to all countries, not haphazardly to certain countries when you don't agree with their leaders.

    Bush's India deal is a mistake. Congress should take steps to stop it.

    Other points raised during the conference include the U.S.'s hypocritical stance on the production and potential use for nukes. How can the US make it a top priority to stop the spread of nuclear weapons when it continues to maintain thousands of lethal nuclear missiles and funds programs like missile defense, which is in violation of non proliferation agreements? Perhaps the most egregious program the pentagon has been pushing is a 'conventional' use for nuclear weapons under the guise of bunker buster bombs.

    Complicating matters, with regard to Iran and the Middle East, is that Israel is said to have an undisclosed number of nukes, which Arab countries perceive as a threat.

    If the US is serious about non proliferation it must demonstrate by example, otherwise it's just empty rhetoric. It should work to reduce its own stock piles of nukes, discontinue its missile shield program, work with UN weapons inspectors to verify and track fissile materials, and help to dismantle and protect old Russian nuclear weapons.

    For further reading:
    Text of Speech: Nuclear Hypocrisy: Iran, the United States, and the Perils of Proliferation - pdf
    Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

    Kerry: America must bolster UN, 'end the empire of oil'

    In a speech on the global dynamics of terrorism, Kerry had several quotable and important points. Some highlights as reported in USA Today.

    "Great American presidents, from Roosevelt to Truman to Kennedy, understood that success requires a community of nations working together, drawing strength from shared sacrifice and steadfast commitment to our shared ideals," he said.

    He added that "great alliances" should be formed again and "that means strengthening and reforming — not weakening and walking away from — the ability of the UN to play a forceful role in troubled places like Iraq and Darfur."
    The "war on terror," Kerry said, was not principally about the U.S.-led military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, but was "fundamentally a war within Islam for the heart and soul of Islam, stretching from Morocco east to Indonesia." He said terrorist threats against the West and within Muslim nations exist in part because "no center of moral authority has emerged to stop those who would murder in the name of Islam."
    Kerry, D-Mass., said unified pressure from the democracies of Europe, Asia and the Americas would be more effective "to counter the teaching of hatred in madrassas (Muslim religious schools) throughout the Middle East. ... And we must work with moderate Muslims, especially clerics, to permanently discredit the belief that the murder of innocents can be justified in the name of God, race, or nation."
    Kerry said developing effective replacements for oil-based fuels also was key. The West's appetite for petroleum from the Middle East "has frustrated every impulse towards modernization of the region, while giving its regimes the resources to hold onto power. The international community of democratic nations cannot afford to continue funding both sides of the war on terror. We must end the empire of oil."

    Wednesday, March 01, 2006

    Bush was Warned that Levees Could Breach

    The incompetence is stunning. - IFK Editor

    AP Gets Video: Bush Warned Fully About Katrina

    WASHINGTON In dramatic and sometimes agonizing terms, federal disaster officials warned President Bush and his homeland security chief before Hurricane Katrina struck that the storm could breach levees, put lives at risk in New Orleans' Superdome and overwhelm rescuers, according to confidential video footage.

    Bush didn't ask a single question during the final briefing before Katrina struck on Aug. 29, but he assured soon-to-be-battered state officials: "We are fully prepared."

    The footage - along with seven days of transcripts of briefings obtained by The Associated Press - show in excruciating detail that while federal officials anticipated the tragedy that unfolded in New Orleans and elsewhere along the Gulf Coast, they were fatally slow to realize they had not mustered enough resources to deal with the unprecedented disaster.

    Catholic House Democrats Stand Up for their Religious Beliefs

    As a person who was raised as a Catholic in a tradition that valued thinking for yourself and helping those that were persecuted, nothing bothered me more in the 2004 presidential elections than how religion was used to influence voters in their decision. 'Moral' positions seemed to be defined by extreme evangelical or ultra conservative religious thinkers, with little voice from more liberal and tolerant religious leaders. Kerry's presidential chances were undermined repeatedly by attacks from 'moral' authorities who disagreed with him on the issues of abortion and gay rights. They all but assassinated Kerry's character, because they disagreed with him, while spoke little of the differences their religious teachings had with the Bush Administration or Republican ideology. It is hypocritical, wrong and dangerous to mix religion and politics by associating yourself with one party and vilifying the other.

    House Democrats are finally sick of it too. -IFK Editor
    The House's Catholic Democrats Detail Role Religion Plays

    Still reeling from the attacks on Sen. John F. Kerry's brand of Roman Catholicism during the 2004 presidential race, 55 House Democrats issued a joint statement yesterday on the central role that the Catholic faith plays in their public lives.

    The signers said they were fed up with being labeled "good Catholics" or "bad Catholics" based on one issue -- abortion. They said their religion infuses their positions on many issues: poverty, war, health care and education.

    "Some of us are pro-choice and some of us are pro-life," said Rep. William J. Pascrell Jr. (D-N.J.). "But we respect each other and we're going to defend each other, because we're all operating in good conscience."

    The statement stressed that all of the Catholic Democrats share the goal of reducing the incidence of abortion.

    "We envision a world in which every child belongs to a loving family and agree with the Catholic Church about the value of human life and the undesirability of abortion -- we do not celebrate its practice," the statement said. "Each of us is committed to reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies and creating an environment with policies that encourage pregnancies to be carried to term."

    The statement also said that though the Catholic Democrats "seek the Church's guidance and assistance," they "accept the tension that comes with being in disagreement with the Church in some areas."

    Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Conn.) said the Catholic Democrats "have decided to stop letting others define us."