Saturday, April 22, 2006

Kerry Promtes the Right to Dissent

As reported at John Kerry wlll deliver a speech in Boston’s historic Faneuil Hall about patriotism and dissent at a time of war and the assault on free speech in America today.

Below are Kerry’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

Senator John Kerry
Faneuil Hall
April 22, 2006

Thirty-five years ago today, I testified before the Foreign Relations Committee of the United States Senate, and called for an end to the war I had returned from fighting not long before.

It was 1971 – twelve years after the first American died in what was then South Vietnam, seven years after Lyndon Johnson seized on a small and contrived incident in the Tonkin Gulf to launch a full-scale war—and three years after Richard Nixon was elected president on the promise of a secret plan for peace. We didn’t know it at the time, but four more years of the War in Vietnam still lay ahead. These were years in which the Nixon administration lied and broke the law—and claimed it was prolonging war to protect our troops as they withdrew—years that ultimately ended only when politicians in Washington decided they would settle for a “decent interval” between the departure of our forces and the inevitable fall of Saigon.

I know that some active duty service members, some veterans, and certainly some politicians scorned those of us who spoke out, suggesting our actions failed to “support the troops”—which to them meant continuing to support the war, or at least keeping our mouths shut. Indeed, some of those critics said the same thing just two years ago during the presidential campaign.

I have come here today to reaffirm that it was right to dissent in 1971 from a war that was wrong. And to affirm that it is both a right and an obligation for Americans today to disagree with a President who is wrong, a policy that is wrong, and a war in Iraq that weakens the nation.

I believed then, just as I believe now, that the best way to support the troops is to oppose a course that squanders their lives, dishonors their sacrifice, and disserves our people and our principles. When brave patriots suffer and die on the altar of stubborn pride, because of the incompetence and self-deception of mere politicians, then the only patriotic choice is to reclaim the moral authority misused by those entrusted with high office.

I believed then, just as I believe now, that it is profoundly wrong to think that fighting for your country overseas and fighting for your country’s ideals at home are contradictory or even separate duties. They are, in fact, two sides of the very same patriotic coin. And that’s certainly what I felt when I came home from Vietnam convinced that our political leaders were waging war simply to avoid responsibility for the mistakes that doomed our mission in the first place. Indeed, one of the architects of the war, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, confessed in a recent book that he knew victory was no longer a possibility far earlier than 1971.

By then, it was clear to me that hundreds of thousands of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen—disproportionately poor and minority Americans—were being sent into the valley of the shadow of death for an illusion privately abandoned by the very men in Washington who kept sending them there. All the horrors of a jungle war against an invisible enemy indistinguishable from the people we were supposed to be protecting—all the questions associated with quietly sanctioned violence against entire villages and regions—all the confusion and frustration that came from defending a corrupt regime in Saigon that depended on Americans to do too much of the fighting—all that cried out for dissent, demanded truth, and could not be denied by easy slogans like “peace with honor”—or by the politics of fear and smear. It was time for the truth, and time for it all to end, and my only regret in joining the anti-war movement was that it took so long to succeed—for the truth to prevail, and for America to regain confidence in our own deepest values.

The fissures created by Vietnam have long been stubbornly resistant to closure. But I am proud it was the dissenters—and it was our veterans’ movement—and people like Judy Droz Keyes—who battled not just to end the war but to combat government secrecy and the willful amnesia of a society that did not want to remember its obligations to the soldiers who fought. We fought the forgetting and pushed our nation to confront the war’s surplus of sad legacies—Agent Orange, Amer-Asian orphans, abandoned allies, exiled and imprisoned draft dodgers, doubts about whether all our POWs had come home, and honor at last for those who returned from Vietnam and those who did not. Because we spoke out, the truth was ultimately understood that the faults in Vietnam were those of the war, not the warriors.

Then, and even now, there were many alarmed by dissent—many who thought that staying the course would eventually produce victory—or that admitting the mistake and ending it would embolden our enemies around the world. History disproved them before another decade was gone: Fourteen years elapsed between the first major American commitment of helicopters and pilots to Vietnam and the fall of Saigon. Fourteen years later, the Berlin Wall fell, and with it the Communist threat. You cannot tell me that withdrawing from Vietnam earlier would have changed that outcome.

The lesson here is not that some of us were right about Vietnam, and some of us were wrong. The lesson is that true patriots must defend the right of dissent, and hear the voices of dissenters, especially now, when our leaders have committed us to a pre-emptive “war of choice” that does not involve the defense of our people or our territory against aggressors. The patriotic obligation to speak out becomes even more urgent when politicians refuse to debate their policies or disclose the facts. And even more urgent when they seek, perversely, to use their own military blunders to deflect opposition and answer their own failures with more of the same. Presidents and politicians may worry about losing face, or votes, or legacy; it is time to think about young Americans and innocent civilians who are losing their lives.

This is not the first time in American history when patriotism has been distorted to deflect criticism and mislead the nation.

In the infancy of the Republic, in 1798, Congress enacted the Alien and Sedition Acts to smear Thomas Jefferson and accuse him of treason. Newspapers were shut down, and their editors arrested, including Benjamin Franklin’s grandson. No wonder Thomas Jefferson himself said: “Dissent is the greatest form of patriotism.”

In the Mexican War, a young Congressman named Abraham Lincoln was driven from public life for raising doubts about official claims. And in World War I, America’s values were degraded, not defended, when dissenters were jailed and the teaching of German was banned in public schools in some states. At that time it was apparently sounding German, not looking French, that got you in trouble. And it was panic and prejudice, not true patriotism, that brought the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II—a measure upheld by Supreme Court Justices who did not uphold their oaths to defend the Constitution. We are stronger today because no less a rock-ribbed conservative than Robert Taft — “Mr. Republican” himself — stood up and said at the height of the second World War that, “the maintenance of the right of criticism in the long run will do the country maintaining it a great deal more good than it will do the enemy, and will prevent mistakes which might otherwise occur.”

Even during the Cold War—an undeclared war, and often more a war of nerves and diplomacy than of arms—even the mildest dissenters from official policy were sometimes silenced, blacklisted, or arrested, especially during the McCarthy era of the early 1950s. Indeed, it was only when Joseph McCarthy went through the gates of delirium and began accusing distinguished U.S. diplomats and military leaders of treason that the two parties in Washington and the news media realized the common stake they had in the right to dissent. They stood up to a bully and brought down McCarthyism’s ugly and contrived appeals to a phony form of 100% Americanism.

Dissenters are not always right, but it is always a warning sign when they are accused of unpatriotic sentiments by politicians seeking a safe harbor from debate, from accountability, or from the simple truth.

Truth is the American bottom line. Truth above all is fundamental to who we are. It is no accident that among the first words of the first declaration of our national existence it is proclaimed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident…”.

This hall and this Commonwealth have always been at the forefront of seeking out and living out the truth in the conduct of public life. Here Massachusetts defined human rights by adopting our own Bill of Rights; here we took a stand against slavery, for women’s suffrage and civil rights for all Americans. The bedrock of America’s greatest advances—the foundation of what we know today are defining values—was formed not by cheering on things as they were, but by taking them on and demanding change.

And here and now we must insist again that fidelity, honor, and love of country demand untrammeled debate and open dissent. At no time is that truer than in the midst of a war rooted in deceit and justified by continuing deception. For what is at stake here is nothing less than life itself. As the statesman Edmund Burke once said: “A conscientious man should be cautious how he dealt in blood.”

Think about that now—in a new era that has brought old temptations and tested abiding principles.

America has always embraced the best traditions of civilized conduct toward combatants and non-combatants in war. But today our leaders hold themselves above the law—in the way they not only treat prisoners in Abu Ghraib, but assert unchecked power to spy on American citizens.

America has always rejected war as an instrument of raw power or naked self-interest. We fought when we had to in order to repel grave threats or advance freedom and self-determination in concert with like-minded people everywhere. But our current leadership, for all its rhetoric of freedom and democracy, behaves as though might does make right, enabling us to discard the alliances and institutions that served us so well in the past as nothing more now than impediments to the exercise of unilateral power.

America has always been stronger when we have not only proclaimed free speech, but listened to it. Yes, in every war, there have been those who demand suppression and silencing. And although no one is being jailed today for speaking out against the war in Iraq, the spirit of intolerance for dissent has risen steadily, and the habit of labeling dissenters as unpatriotic has become the common currency of the politicians currently running our country.

Dismissing dissent is not only wrong, but dangerous when America’s leadership is unwilling to admit mistakes, unwilling to engage in honest discussion of the nation’s direction, and unwilling to hold itself accountable for the consequences of decisions made without genuine disclosure, or genuine debate.

In recent weeks, a number of retired high-ranking military leaders, several of whom played key combat or planning roles in Afghanistan and Iraq, have come forward publicly to call for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. And across the administration, from the president on down, we’ve heard these calls dismissed or even attacked as acts of disloyalty, or as threats to civilian control of the armed forces. We have even heard accusations that this dissent gives aid and comfort to the enemy. That is cheap and it is shameful. And once again we have seen personal attacks on the character of those who speak out. How dare those who never wore the uniform in battle attack those who wore it all their lives—and who, retired or not, did not resign their citizenship in order to serve their country.

The former top operating officer at the Pentagon, a Marine Lieutenant General, said “the commitment of our forces to this fight was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions–or bury the results.” It is hard for a career military officer to speak those words. But at a time when the administration cannot let go of the myths and outright lies it broadcast in the rush to war in Iraq, those who know better must speak out.

At a time when mistake after mistake is being compounded by the very civilian leadership in the Pentagon that ignored expert military advice in the invasion and occupation of Iraq, those who understand the price being paid for each mistake by our troops, our country, and Iraq itself must be heard.

Once again we are imprisoned in a failed policy. And once again we are being told that admitting mistakes, not the mistakes themselves, will provide our enemies with an intolerable propaganda victory. Once again we are being told that we have no choice but to stay the course of a failed policy. At a time like this, those who seek to reclaim America’s true character and strength must be respected.

The true defeatists today are not those who call for recognizing the facts on the ground in Iraq. The true defeatists are those who believe America is so weak that it must sacrifice its principles to the pursuit of illusory power.

The true pessimists today are not those who know that America can handle the truth about the Administration’s boastful claim of “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq. The true pessimists are those who cannot accept that America’s power and prestige depend on our credibility at home and around the world. The true pessimists are those who do not understand that fidelity to our principles is as critical to national security as our military power itself.

And the most dangerous defeatists, the most dispiriting pessimists, are those who invoke September 11th to argue that our traditional values are a luxury we can no longer afford.

Let’s call it the Bush-Cheney Doctrine.

According to the Bush-Cheney Doctrine, alliances and international institutions are now disposable—and international institutions are dispensable or even despicable.

According to the Bush-Cheney Doctrine, we cannot foreswear the fool’s gold of information secured by torturing prisoners or creating a shadow justice system with no rules and no transparency.

According to the Bush-Cheney Doctrine, unwarranted secrecy and illegal spying are now absolute imperatives of our national security.

According to the Bush-Cheney Doctrine, those who question the abuse of power question America itself.

According to the Bush-Cheney doctrine, an Administration should be willing to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on the Iraq war, but unwilling to spend a few billion dollars to secure the American ports through which nuclear materials could make their way to terrorist cells.

According to the Bush-Cheney Doctrine, executive powers trump the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers.

According to the Bush-Cheney Doctrine, smearing administration critics is not only permissible, but necessary—and revealing the identity of a CIA agent is an acceptable means to hide the truth.

The raw justification for abandoning so many American traditions exposes the real danger of the Bush-Cheney Doctrine. We all understand we are in a long struggle against jihadist extremism. It does represent a threat to our vital security interests and our values. Even the Bush-Cheney Administration acknowledges this is preeminently an ideological war, but that’s why the Bush-Cheney Doctrine is so ill-equipped to fight and win it.

Our enemies argue that all our claims about advancing universal principles of human rights and mutual respect disguise a raw demand for American dominance. They gain every time we tolerate or cover up abuses of human rights in Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo Bay, or among sectarian militias in Iraq, and especially when we defiantly disdain the rules of international law.

Our enemies argue that our invasion and occupation of Iraq reflect an obsession with oil supplies and commercial opportunities. They gain when our president and vice president, both former oil company executives, continue to pursue an oil-based energy strategy, and provide vast concessions in Iraq to their corporate friends.

And so there’s the crowning irony: the Bush-Cheney Doctrine holds that many of our great traditions cannot be maintained; yet the Bush-Cheney policies, by abandoning those traditions, give Osama bin Laden and his associates exactly what they want and need to reinforce their hate-filled ideology of Islamic solidarity against the western world.

I understand fully that Iraq is not Vietnam, and the war on terrorism is not the Cold War. But in one very crucial respect, we are in the same place now as we were thirty five years ago. When I testified in 1971, I spoke out not just against the war itself, but the blindness and cynicism of political leaders who were sending brave young Americans to be killed or maimed for a mission the leaders themselves no longer believed in.

The War in Vietnam and the War in Iraq are now converging in too many tragic respects.

As in Vietnam, we engaged militarily in Iraq based on official deception.

As in Vietnam, we went into Iraq ostensibly to fight a larger global war under the misperception that the particular theater was just a sideshow, but we soon learned that the particular aspects of the place where we fought mattered more than anything else.

And as in Vietnam, we have stayed and fought and died even though it is time for us to go.

We are now in the third war in Iraq in as many years. The first was against Saddam Hussein and his supposed weapons of mass destruction. The second was against terrorists whom, the administration said, it was better to fight over there than here. Now we find our troops in the middle of an escalating civil war.

Half of the service members listed on the Vietnam Memorial Wall died after America’s leaders knew our strategy would not work. It was immoral then and it would be immoral now to engage in the same delusion. We want democracy in Iraq, but Iraqis must want it as much as we do. Our valiant soldiers can’t bring democracy to Iraq if Iraq’s leaders are unwilling themselves to make the compromises that democracy requires.

As our generals have said, the war cannot be won militarily. It must be won politically. No American soldier should be sacrificed because Iraqi politicians refuse to resolve their ethnic and political differences.

Our call to action is clear. Iraqi leaders have responded only to deadlines—a deadline to transfer authority to a provisional government, and a deadline to hold three elections. It was the most intense 11th hour pressure that just pushed aside Prime Minister Jaafari and brought forward a more acceptable candidate. And it will demand deadline toughness to reign in Shiite militias Sunnis say are committing horrific acts of torture every day in Baghdad.

So we must set another deadline to extricate our troops and get Iraq up on its own two feet.

Iraqi politicians should be told that they have until May 15 to deal with these intransigent issues and at last put together an effective unity government or we will immediately withdraw our military. If Iraqis aren’t willing to build a unity government in the five months since the election, they’re probably not willing to build one at all. The civil war will only get worse, and we will have no choice anyway but to leave.

If Iraq’s leaders succeed in putting together a government, then we must agree on another deadline: a schedule for withdrawing American combat forces by year’s end. Doing so will actually empower the new Iraqi leadership, put Iraqis in the position of running their own country and undermine support for the insurgency, which is fueled in large measure by the majority of Iraqis who want us to leave their country.

So now, as in 1971, we are engaged in another fight to live the truth and make our own government accountable. As in 1971, this is another moment when American patriotism demands more dissent and less complacency in the face of bland assurances from those in power.

We must insist now that patriotism does not belong to those who defend a President’s position—it belongs to those who defend their country. Patriotism is not love of power; it is love of country. And sometimes loving your country demands you must tell the truth to power. This is one of those times.

Lives are on the line. Lives have been lost to bad decisions – not decisions that could have gone either way, but decisions that constitute basic negligence and incompetence. And lives continue to be lost because of stubbornness and pride.

We support the troops—the brave men and women who have always protected us and do so today—in part by honoring their service, and in part by making sure they have everything they need both in battle and after they have borne the burden of battle.

But I believe now as strongly and proudly as I did thirty-five years ago that the most important way to support the troops is to tell the truth, and to ensure we do not ask young Americans to die in a cause that falls short of the ideals of this country.

When we protested the war in Vietnam some would weigh in against us saying: “My country right or wrong.” Our response was simple: “Yes, my country right or wrong. When right, keep it right and when wrong, make it right.” And that’s what we must do again today.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

What Does James Dobson Have to Say About His Boy George?

As Bush’s approval ratings fall even further, only 33% in the latest Fox poll, I wonder why we don't hear much from Focus on the Family head, Dr. James Dobson. Maybe his work is done, after all he has his two conservative Supreme Court Judges. He only had to back a lying, incompetent President whose policies started an immoral war and who continues to promote an agenda that hurts the very people who Dobson claims to minister to (poor and middle class families), but I guess that’s all in a day’s work to save the unborn and protect us from gay marriage.

Thank you Dobby. May the disaster of the Bush presidency find you and your listeners well, just don’t blame those of us who voted for Kerry for the mess this country is in.

McCain's Pro War Stance Seen Sinking Presidential Chances

Americans are weary of the Iraq war and angry with politicians who acted like cheerleaders for President Bush's failed policies in both the run up to war and the ongoing struggle. Perhaps no potential 2008 candidate is suffering more than John McCain, and justly so. However rightly or wrongly, McCain is often viewed as a moderate voice within the Republican Party, but on the Iraq war he stood out more than most in his unabashed support for the President. Nowhere was this more evident than during the 2004 Presidential campaign when McCain embraced the president (literally) on many occasions and trumpeted his "leadership" on Iraq. As Iraq drags on and the President's support, or rather lack of it, reaches historically low levels, McCain now finds his own presidential chances suffering greatly. -IFK Editor

Also see:
McCain's Support of War Looms as Barrier to Presidential Hopes

Letter the The Editor: Kerry Better Than Bush

This is too good not to post the entire thing...Thank you Vicki Dow from Iowa. -IFK Editor

(Appearing in the Northwest Herald)
To the Editor:

"John Kerry speaks French and things like that, and he was just too darn fancy for us."

I often think of the good folks from Iowa, my home state, whom I met at the Mayo Clinic shortly after the presidential election and who offered the above as their reason for voting for Bush.

They said they didn't really like the Iraq war, and they didn't want Bush messing up Social Security, and they were leery of Vice President Dick Cheney.

But French and fancy ruled the day.

I wonder what they're thinking now.

Violence in Iraq continues; scandals and indictments are coming fast and furious; and recklessness and incompetence are pervasive in the administration.

The Iowa people also used the Bush is a "good Christian" selling point.

I wonder what they're thinking now.

His corporate-controlled unholy agenda of take from the poor and give to the rich is the opposite of what I learned in Sunday school. And where are the blessed peacemakers?

What a different world we would have had with a different president.

I bet that's what the Iowans are thinking now.

If you care about this country, please read Paul William Roberts' book "A War Against Truth."

Vicki Dow

Crystal Lake

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Investor Class Fed Up with Bush Too

A recent article in BusinessWeek Magazine shows one of Bush's most reliable voting blocks is bailing on him.

Some choice quotes:

Tada, who describes himself as "conservative across the board," isn't impressed by the management skills of America's first MBA President. "He certainly delegates and lets others screw up," Tada says. He calls the scandal- ridden Republican Congress "a hapless, self-serving mess."

The President, who received the votes of 61% of investors in 2004, now gets favorable job approval ratings from just 43%, according to Zogby International Inc., a nonpartisan polling firm. Investors' complaints include the Administration's handling of Hurricane Katrina and the Dubai Ports deal, the management of the Iraq war, the $8.2 trillion national debt, soaring gasoline prices, and immigration policy.

It's not all good news, though, as the public isn't overly excited about democrats either. Dems need to directly challenge this storyline that the press seems to be repeating in all their coverage of the run up to 2006. Dems need to forcefully lay out their plans and vision for America. Kerry has been doing an admirable job lately ticking off his simple 10 points for a better America.

1. Obey the law, protect civil rights.
2. Tell the truth.
3. Fire the incompetents.
4. Chase the moneylenders and changers from temple of democracy.
5. Bring our troops home!
6. Find OBL and protect ports.
7. Stop subsidizing big oil and become energy independent. Commit to alternatives.
8. Make access to healthcare affordable to all Americans.
9. Reduce deficit. Respect work over wealth.
10. Fight for American jobs.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Oil Reaches New High - $100 A Barrel Closer than You Think

Let me show my Independent stripes here. While many Democrats will blame the oil companies for price gouging as consumers start to feel real pain at the pump the truth is oil is a commodity that has gone up in price as demand has outstripped supply. That’s just the way the market works. Oil is a natural resource in limited amounts. The U.S. has very little of it and has to depend on imports to keep our economy humming.

Let me join the chorus of Peak Oil prognosticators. Cheep oil is over folks! Get used to it. It’s extremely costly to develop new oil sources and it takes many years to get production up to speed. China and India are also demanding more oil for their rapid growth so don’t plan on demand dropping any time soon. If it was up to the geniuses at GM we’d all still be driving Hummers and gas-guzzling SUV’s.

If you ask me it’s a good thing oil prices are going up. As Oil becomes more expensive alternative fuel sources will become more competitive in the market place. Ethanol, natural gas and Hydrogen Fuel cells will all become attractive energy options.

This is good for two reasons. First, the U.S. needs to be energy independent or it will face a very difficult future being so dependent on foreign oil sources, especially from parts of the world that don’t always like us. Second, global warming is real, and unless drastic measures are taken to reduce CO2 emissions the world faces catastrophic changes that could bring about a decline in our civilization.

If dems want to do more than score political points they will talk about long term solutions and spending 10-20 times the amount the Bush administration is currently spending on research for conservation and clean energy technology.

In the 1970’s America was the leader in innovative solar and wind technology, but as the coal and oil lobby took over the halls of congress we lost decades of valuable research time and are now behind most European countries in terms of technology and political accountability.

Instead of blaming oil companies Dems should be using this opportunity to promote alternative energy.

Earth Day 2006 - Saturday April 22

One of the reasons I initially became interested in John Kerry was his forward looking views on protecting and conserving our environment. I remember seeing him on the Sunday morning talk shows discussing energy policy, like raising CAFE standards for automobiles and promoting renewable energy sources way before it was fashionable, and way before anyone had heard of John Kerry, Democratic Presidential candidate.

Kerry has amassed one of the best records in the Senate on protecting our environment. He was involved in organizing the first Earth Day in Massachusetts in 1970. He talked about the environment in every stump speech he gave during the 2004 campaign, promoting his 2020 plan to invest in renewable energy, targeting 20% of our energy needs to come from clean alternative sources and moving away from oil dependence.

Kerry is a true hero for our environment. It has always been important to him, not just another talking point as it is to so many politicians.

As we look toward Earth Day 2006, with the mounting evidence pointing to a global warming tipping point in the near future, unless the world unites like never before to curb CO2 output, we can celebrate the example of John Kerry’s environmental leadership over the years and realize how much work we have ahead of us.

John, we need you now more than ever.

Visit for events planned in your area.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Kerry To Rally Boston Crowd in Support of Patriotic Right to Dissent

Kerry continues his harsh criticism of the Bush Administration’s Iraq policies and their attempts to stifle dissent with an event at Faneuil Hall on April 22.

Kerry is not only leading, but listening to Americans who are demanding their leaders change course on the war and a host of other issues from immigration, deficit spending, and homeland security, to energy independence and global warming. Thus far their voices have fallen on deaf ears, as the Republican controlled congress and Bush admin has ignored common sense policy in favor of political power grabs, politics of destruction and pandering to their special interest big donors.

Democrats, and Independent voters by wide margins, are fed up and ready for change. 2006 can’t come soon enough for most voters ready to throw out the current corrupt Republican led congress. Expect a well reasoned call to arms by Kerry who was out in front of these issues during his 2004 run for President, but wasn’t able to break the media’s go along to get along coverage of the Bush Administration and his war of choice and misinformation in Iraq.

From John Kerry’s email:

At 10:30 AM Saturday morning on April 22nd, I will be speaking at Faneuil Hall, and I hope you and your family can join me for a discussion of what is happening to our democracy when dissent - the right of patriotic people to speak out - is under assault.

This is a chance for me to put into context some things I have been thinking about and which have been important to me all my years in public life. There is no better group of people to share them with than loyal friends who have been there with me and my family every step of the way for decades, every time we have needed your help and support.

Massachusetts has a proud tradition of gathering at Faneuil Hall to speak out about freedom and democracy - a tradition as old as our country.

Next Saturday, April 22nd, I hope to continue that tradition with you in a very personal discussion about the meaning and responsibility of freedom and the enormous challenges our country faces as our soldiers are fighting and dying in a war that has gone off course, with dissent and debate stifled here at home.

This is a critical moment — a moment that requires each of us to speak out in order to put the country we love back on course.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

As Dems Stand Up, GOP Stands Down

John Kerry is leading his party on Iraq policy and as other Dems find their voice, the American people need to make it clear it's time for Republicans to stand down. How do we do that?

1. Sign on to Kerry's Petition supporting a deadline for Iraq

2. Write your Democratic Senator or Congress rep and tell them it's time to support Kerry's idea for a deadline and get tought with Iraq. This is not cut and run and don't let anyone tell you it is. This is standing up for our troops who did their job and who need Iraqi politians and Iraqi police to do theirs. If they get serious, we'll be glad to help, but why should we risk our brave soldiers lives and billions in tax dollars while they play politics.

3. Organize and vote for Democrats in 2006.

Democrats are standing up and offering real common sense solutions for Iraq, and a whole host of other crutial issues, like energy independence, healthcare, immigration, port security, education and many more. Republicans are tired and their ideas are bankrupt. It's time for the GOP to stand down. It's time for Americans to help Democrats stand up by electing them to the majority.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Kerry Not Giving up on America

Friends and family often look at me funny when I still talk about what John Kerry is doing this week as if he's still campaigning for 2004, but to me what he's doing now is even more important since without his principled voice raising up against the Bush administration’s corrupt incompetence, there would be few checks and balances to the Republican ship of fools currently ruining our country.

This week in particular Kerry shows he has not given up on America. He has clearly articulated what so many Americans have been begging their leaders to say: we’re running out of patience with Iraq.

Unless Iraqi politicians show some urgency and form a government we’re through with them. A majority of Americans now realize Bush’s pre-emptive war of choice was a mistake yet they want to make it right by finishing what we started, leaving a stable Iraqi government that can defend its people, however we’re not going to stay there indefinitely while they fight amongst themselves to settle old scores and rekindle old religious hatred.

Kerry’s plan is a beginning. If Iraq can form a government and demonstrate a commitment to moving forward and ending the violence, America is still committed to working with them on reconstruction and security issues beyond 2006, but without a true partner our best intentions will not succeed.

MORE: Kerry Sharply Criticizes Bush on Several Fronts (NY Times)

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Kerry Discusses Iraq and the CIA Leak

Kerry turns a strong performanace on Hardball with Chris Matthews.

Transcript here:

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST, "HARDBALL": Let me ask you about this big development today. Scooter Libby, the former chief of staff to the vice-president, he testified to federal authorities that he was authorized by his boss, the vice-president, in July of 2003, and told by his boss, the vice-president, that the president authorized him specifically to leak national intelligence information that made the case for the war in Iraq. What do you make of that?

SEN. JOHN KERRY, DEMOCRAT, MASSACHUSETTS: Well, if it's true, it proves that the buck doesn't stop anywhere in this administration. It also proves that the president has a funny sense of having an investigation, when he says we're going to get to the bottom of it and I'll fire the person who authorized it, if he indeed authorized it. Kind of tricky.

Prosecutor: Bush Authorized Leak of Intelligence Data on Iraq

Vice President's Former Aide Says Bush OK'd Disclosure to NY Times Reporter

Vice President Dick Cheney's former top aide told prosecutors President Bush authorized the leak of sensitive intelligence information about Iraq, according to court papers filed by prosecutors in the CIA leak case.

Before his indictment, I. Lewis Libby testified to the grand jury investigating the CIA leak that Cheney told him to pass on information and that it was Bush who authorized the disclosure, the court papers say. According to the documents, the authorization led to the July 8, 2003, conversation between Libby and New York Times reporter Judith Miller.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

GOP Focus Group Shows Kerry Performing Well in 2008

In a pre interview clip featuring Tom DeLay on the Chris Matthews show (which was not meant to be aired) Matthews excitedly tells DeLay about the latest focus group data Frank Luntz (GOP insider extraordinaire) has put together about the democratic candidates for 2008.

According to Matthews the results shows Kerry performing well, compared to Hillary and Edwards. No other candidates are mentioned by name in the clip, and we don’t know if the focus group was made up of republican voters or what demographic they were focusing on. If anyone has more details please contact me.

The clip also features Matthews and DeLay acting incredulous that Kerry would be performing well mixed among jabs at the expense of Edwards and Hillary.

Update: Chris Cillizza of WaPo has more details. Apparently it was a focus group of 30 likely democratic voters from both Iowa and New Hampshire. His summary is either toned down or decidely less newsworthy than the remarks by Matthews would suggest.

Kerry on Iraq: Two Deadlines and an Exit

Published: April 5, 2006

WE are now in the third war in Iraq in as many years. The first was against Saddam Hussein and his supposed weapons of mass destruction. The second was against terrorists whom, the administration said, it was better to fight over there than here. Now we find our troops in the middle of an escalating civil war.

Half of the service members listed on the Vietnam Memorial Wall died after America's leaders knew our strategy would not work. It was immoral then and it would be immoral now to engage in the same delusion. We want democracy in Iraq, but Iraqis must want it as much as we do. Our valiant soldiers can't bring democracy to Iraq if Iraq's leaders are unwilling themselves to make the compromises that democracy requires.

As our generals have said, the war cannot be won militarily. It must be won politically. No American soldier should be sacrificed because Iraqi politicians refuse to resolve their ethnic and political differences.

So far, Iraqi leaders have responded only to deadlines — a deadline to transfer authority to a provisional government, and a deadline to hold three elections.

Now we must set another deadline to extricate our troops and get Iraq up on its own two feet.

Iraqi politicians should be told that they have until May 15 to put together an effective unity government or we will immediately withdraw our military. If Iraqis aren't willing to build a unity government in the five months since the election, they're probably not willing to build one at all. The civil war will only get worse, and we will have no choice anyway but to leave.

If Iraq's leaders succeed in putting together a government, then we must agree on another deadline: a schedule for withdrawing American combat forces by year's end. Doing so will empower the new Iraqi leadership, put Iraqis in the position of running their own country and undermine support for the insurgency, which is fueled in large measure by the majority of Iraqis who want us to leave their country. Only troops essential to finishing the job of training Iraqi forces should remain.

For this transition to work, we must finally begin to engage in genuine diplomacy. We must immediately bring the leaders of the Iraqi factions together at a Dayton Accords-like summit meeting. In a neutral setting, Iraqis, working with our allies, the Arab League and the United Nations, would be compelled to reach a political agreement that includes security guarantees, the dismantling of the militias and shared goals for reconstruction.

To increase the pressure on Iraq's leaders, we must redeploy American forces to garrisoned status. Troops should be used for security backup, training and emergency response; we should leave routine patrols to Iraqi forces. Special operations against Al Qaeda and other foreign terrorists in Iraq should be initiated only on hard intelligence leads.

We will defeat Al Qaeda faster when we stop serving as its best recruitment tool. Iraqis ultimately will not tolerate foreign jihadists on their soil, and the United States will be able to maintain an over-the-horizon troop presence with rapid response capacity. An exit from Iraq will also strengthen our hand in dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat and allow us to repair the damage of repeated deployments, which flag officers believe has strained military readiness and morale.

For three years now, the administration has told us that terrible things will happen if we get tough with the Iraqis. In fact, terrible things are happening now because we haven't gotten tough enough. With two deadlines, we can change all that. We can put the American leadership on the side of our soldiers and push the Iraqi leadership to do what only it can do: build a democracy.

John F. Kerry, a senator from Massachusetts, was the Democratic nominee for president in 2004.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Breaking: Republican Tom DeLay to Drop Bid for Re-election in Disgrace

So long and good riddance. Next stop, jail. Say hi to you good buddy Jack Abramoff. -IFK Editor

Rep. Tom DeLay Won't Seek Re-Election (AP)

Former House Majority Leader
Tom DeLay, a Texan touched by a lobbying scandal that ensnared some of his former top aides and cost the congressman to his leadership post, won't seek re-election to Congress, a Republican official said Monday.

DeLay was expected to disclose the plans Tuesday, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the DeLay had not publicly disclosed his plans.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

McCain Gases up the Double Talk Express

Senator John McCain appeared on Meet the Press today, wearing his 2008 Presidential ambitions on his sleeve, and checking his integrity at the door, as he conveniently denied that Jerry Faldwell was an 'agent of intolerance' as he expressed during the 2000 Presidential campaign. In the interview McCain also couldn't say enough nice things about the great job President Bush was doing on Iraq and defending our country. So much for the straight talk express. Sounds more like the ass kiss express to me. - IFK Editor

McCain Softens Language on Jerry Falwell (AP)
Potential presidential candidate John McCain says he longer considers evangelist Jerry Falwell to be one of the "agents of intolerance" that he criticized during a previous White House run.

The Republican senator from Arizona will be the commencement speaker in May at Liberty University, the Lynchburg, Va., institution that Falwell founded in 1971.

"We agreed to disagree on certain issues, and we agreed to move forward," McCain said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."

In 2000, as he sought the Republican nomination that eventually went to George W. Bush, McCain said: "Neither party should be defined by pandering to the outer reaches of American politics and the agents of intolerance, whether they be Louis Farrakhan or Al Sharpton on the left or Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell on the right."

On Sunday, McCain said that Christian conservatives have a major role to play in the Republican Party, but added, "I don't have to agree with everything they stand for."

TV Ads: Fight Global Warming

Environmental Defense is running two TV ads to build awareness of global warming, its consequences, and how the public, government, and businesses must take action today to avoid a catastrophe. For more info visit: Fight Global Warming

Watch the "train" ad below.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Film Review: 'Our Brand is Crisis'

By Jim Witkins

Last night I attended the Wisconsin Film Festival showing of 'Our Brand is Crisis', a truly amazing, if not disillusioning, behind the scenes look at the 2002 Bolivian Presidential Election in all its unflattering dimensions. The documentary features American consulting all stars Jeremy Rosner, Stan Greenberg, Tad Devine, and James Carville who are hired to turn around the faltering campaign of former Bolivian president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada (Goni).

While it’s hard not to admire the sheer brainpower and art of war mentality these guys bring to the campaign, you’re really left wondering if democracy can survive this focus-group driven, branding-is-everything approach to politics.

As many of these same consultants shaped the Kerry campaign in 2004, you start to question their tactics and strategy, much of which is foreshadowed in this film. You also see the Rovian influence at its worst when they decide to go negative with attack ads by ‘outside’ groups against a Goni opponent. In the end the audience is left wondering, did anyone actually win here? And does the media dictate the tactics or do the tactics drive the media’s coverage?

Highly recommended!