Tuesday, September 16, 2003
FYI, just in case you haven't heard...
Former DNC chairman David Wilhelm of 92 Clinton/Gore fame has joined the Kerry team. This is huge! You can’t underestimate the amount of resources David brings to the campaign.
Also today, he'll get Sen. Feinstein's endorsement in California.
Sunday, September 14, 2003
The Republican governor, Riley, as a religious conservative believed this was wrong and inconsistent with the gospel. (I don’t agree with needing religion to realize this, but hey at least he came to it.)
The governor proposed raising income tax/property tax on the upper ends of the residents of AL and take the tax burden off the poor. The majority of the people in the state would have benefited. He would have also increased public education (the great equalizer).
Anyway to make a long story short, the special interests went on a campaign of distortion. The people of AL defeated the resolution 65% to 35%... Sad, huh? Alabama will continue to rank 48th and/or 50th in education depending which national ranking you use.
I like Bill Maher, but yesterday on his HBO show his comment was the people of AL should “lay in their own bed.” Don’t think he gets it. I do think Kerry does.
I went to public school in AL (later had a scholarship at a good liberal arts private college) and I know the difference between the incoming knowledge of a freshman who went to public school in AL and a prep school kid, all to well.
Kerry understands education is the great equalizer. The quality of education one gets early on determines where they will go in life. Elitists like Dubya have too many built in advantages in this society, how dare they act like this country is a “meritocracy” where the cream rises to the top, while at the same only giving lip service to public education.
We must have a candidate who doesn’t publicly propose campaign issues on a whim. We need a candidate with enough experience not to box himself into positions that sound good to activists at the moment, but will “kill” Democrats chances to take back the White House.
Remember the mistakes Clinton made in the first two years of his Presidency just from being inexperienced. We love him now, but when he took office Democrats controlled the House and Senate. Because those early mistakes, we lost the House in two years and the Senate later to Republicans.
We need a President with the experience to lead the party from the “git-go.” I heard Sen. Kerry speak to a small group of progressives and I was very impressed that he had deeply thought out how to use bully pulpit in the first two years of his Presidency to take back the language the American people use “from the Tom Delays” in this country.
Saturday, September 13, 2003
The really interesting part is the $300m for body armor and $140m for heavily armored Humvees.
In Somalia, the Republicans tried to destroy Clinton because “he didn’t protect the troops with heavy enough armored tanks.” Should we give it back to these arrogant neo-cons, now that it is apparently obvious by the Republicans' own admission that they were delinquent in having a plan to protect our troops after a “victory.”
At least, we know in a Kerry administration, troops will never be sent into battle unprotected and unable to win the peace.
Friday, September 12, 2003
I’ll give Dean credit. Because of the war, I think he actually lucked into creating a new Democratic constituency that has media savvy and money. Before Dean’s campaign many of these younger voters (18-30) were either not engaged in politics, independent swing voters, or just election-day Democrats for social issues. Now, they feel empowered. Potentially, these techies might become in the future a “recognized” Democratic voting bloc like African-Americans, labor, Hispanics, women’s rights, environmentalists, etc. Even though Dean has not been able to reach out to ANY traditional constituency of the Democratic party, the establishment is starting to believe he is showing the “movement” and “excitement” needed to beat Bush. Funny, since NO traditional group supports him fully other than the small gay and lesbian contingent.
This race has become extremely fractionalized. Clark’s entry into the race will further break down the traditional constituencies. Dean should be most affected because Clark is vying for the same voters. I think Clark can cannibalize a good percentage of Dean’s voters.
So how does Sen. Kerry find his voice? He is never going to be able to show the “movement” or “excitement” that the establishment wants to see unless he leaves the generalist approach and openly courts one of the Democratic establishment factions. Swing voters will not get out to leaflet or raise money for you. If he could lockup one such group in the next couple of months, we go into a primary season with more than a fighting chance. While the veteran outreach has been successful (and needed) you wonder how many of the Senator’s core constituencies were neglected. What is Sen. Kerry’s core constituency that should be singing his praises? The Environmentalists! Clark is unknown on the issue, Dean is poor on the issue, Edwards is iffy, Gephart is iffy also.
Sen. Kerry is simply a visionary on environmental issues. I don’t know how many environmentalists are in Iowa, but I’ll bet there is a good percentage in NH. It is critical at this time to start locking in the energy and grassroots experience of the environmentalists.
Wednesday, September 10, 2003
Finally, Dean is getting into foreign policy with nuance and realizing how difficult it is to articulate a sound bite position that doesn’t box you in later. I’m still perplexed how he can argue the inspectors should have been more time to inspect, but would have voted no on the Congressional resolution that gave the President the threat of force to get the inspectors back into Iraq.
In the age of WMD, most of the American people believe the UN has the ability to authorize preemptive war against a tyrant who has misused such weapons in the past. This president rushed to war despite what he said about using the resolution to build an international coalition, but don’t blame Bush’s misuse on the actual resolution. If Dean doesn’t believe the international community has the authority to act preemptively under any circumstances, Karl Rove will eat him alive.
Tuesday, September 09, 2003
Great article in the Washington Post covering the continuing fiscal follies of our “Santa Claus” President. This guy wants to give everything to everybody without having to pay for it. No wonder he structured the majority of his tax cuts to take effect AFTER he left office. Considering the deficits our country is running now, I can’t image five years from now.
The article puts it in perspective this way, “Bush hopes to spend more in Iraq and Afghanistan than all 50 states say they need -- $78 billion -- to finance the budget shortfalls they anticipate for 2004. The request is higher than the $74 billion the Defense Department plans to spend on all new weapons purchases next year, and higher than the $29.5 billion the Education Department hopes to spend on elementary and secondary education plus the $41.3 billion the administration plans to spend to defend the homeland.”
This is why you don’t fight wars where there is no imminent threat unless there is an INTERNATIONAL coalition.
Sen. Kerry’s speech in October was right on the money, “In giving the President this authority, I expect him to fulfill the commitments he has made to the American people in recent days –to work with the United Nations Security Council to adopt a new resolution setting out tough and immediate inspection requirements, and to act with our allies at our side if we have to disarm Saddam Hussein by force. If he fails to do so, I will be among the first to speak out.” Let there be no doubt or confusion about where we stand on this. I will support a multilateral effort to disarm him by force, if we ever exhaust those other options, as the President promised, but I will not support a unilateral U.S. war against Iraq…”
In the first Gulf War, our allies shared over 70% of the burden of the war. What a contrast to today. His diplomatic failure and rush to war leaves our next generation saddled with debt while cutting tax rates for those who don’t need it.
While we can’t leave Iraq now, this President needs own up to his mistake, be honest and find a way to pay for his folly without structurally damaging the poor and middle class in this country.
Monday, September 08, 2003
Sen. Kerry is best when talking about his alternative vision (v. Bush’s) of America. He does it so well in an uplifting, inspirational, almost can I say it JFK way. Maybe it is the media’s fault for refusing to cover this aspect of his campaign, but I wish we could continue to expose Bush as a phony without alienating the middle.
By taking the threat of force off the table, Dean puts the Democratic party in a dangerous position. Apply his logic to North Korea first taking preemption or threat of force off the table. Dean’s stance leaves every country to their own doing even in violation of international resolution. Try selling that to the American people in wake of 9-11. Bush will eat him alive. Dean’s position would have left us with no inspectors in Iraq. It is Buchannan style isolationism.
Pre-emptive war is justified on two occasions. First, if there is an imminent threat. Sen. Kerry stated on the floor when casting the vote, that there was no imminent threat and if there was the President should not be asking for a Congressional Resolution, but acting immediately. The second case a pre-emptive war is justified is if there is international backing for the war. A war sanctioned by the UN against a country that has misused WMD is justified.
Kerry’s vote was for the second occasion. The Bush administration had gone to the Senate and said two very important things about the resolution. Bush said, “war was a last resort” and “he would build an international coalition.” The administration changed the resolution to take out the more egregious language. Collin Powell had hit every talk show and all the punditry was discussing the vitality of the Secreatry of State role in the administration.
And yes, based on the word of the President, Kerry voted for it. Is this a blank check? If the resolution had included language stating “The President had to build an international coalition” first, the international community would have taken this as a sign the US Congress was not behind the President and torpedo the effort. Remember Clinton didn’t even get Congressional approval for Haiti or Kosovo.
Yes, Kerry hoped that Bush would get the inspectors in the country by the threat of force and hopefully no war would be needed. But to deny Bush the vote meant no inspectors. He had seen the abject failure Clinton had with getting inspectors back in after 1998 with no threat of real force than lobbing a few missiles.
Kerry said if the President doesn’t hold to these promises “I will be the first to criticize.” Bush went back to a unilateralist approach within a month. Kerry did what he said he would by criticizing the President’s lack of diplomatic effort and the press attacked him for flip-flopping?
People are confusing Bush’s unilateralist with Kerry’s complex, but necessary stand. Bush shook his hand said he would use war as a last resort. Bush lied. How can Democrats criticize Bush for simplistic notions of foreign policy and then embrace that characteristic in our nominee? The question becomes how do we articulate Kerry’s position in a sound bite. I’ll have to leave that to more creative minds.
Sadly if Dean is the candidate in order to win, Democrats have to hope the economy gets worse and more soldiers are killed in Iraq. That is not a position I want my party to be in November of 2004. In my more conspiratorial mind, the military is probably sitting on the WMD until Dean is the nominee.
Thursday, September 04, 2003
The Kerry campaign has been methodical in his campaign. He said he would announce and run ads in September. He did and not a minute before, even though the press was slamming him for letting Dean go unchallenged in August. They simply cannot stand it how this campaign is disregarding their day-to-day punditry. It is pathetic how bad they want to create an impression of a rudderless ship. Never mind, 2/3 of Democrats can’t name a single candidate and are just now tuning in.
Dean’s stance on repeal the tax cut for the middle class is going to torpedo his candidacy. His advisors know it and are desperately trying to find a way to reverse it without looking like they are flopping again.
To beat Bush in 2004, we need a candidate who is not going to open his mouth before he thinks. Rove is going to have 250 million to slam any misstep. This summer was fine for activists Democrats to get angry and get it out of their system. Now is the time to be relentless and methodical in working to get Bush out of office.
Monday, September 01, 2003
Remember why the Bush administration attacked triple-amputee veteran Max Cleland as a traitor? Sen. Cleland was defending the labor rights and civil service protections of federal workers by voting against the President’s version of the Homeland Security Bill. In response, Rove, Reed and thugs had no problem with running commercials putting Osama bin Laden’s face beside Sen. Cleland’s. Sen. Kerry was the only major Democrat taking the Republican’s to task for this outrage.
Labor needs a candidate with the stature like Sen. Kerry on national security who will not allow the Republican’s to abuse “patriotism” to destroy worker’s rights.