Tag Archives: John Kerry

Next Up: A Climate Bill

Woo-hoo. The healthcare bill is done.  People will see many of the provisions go into place immediately and then they can decide how they feel about these reforms based on reality instead of frenzied, uninformed rhetoric.  Let’s just take a moment to recognize this historic occasion.  

Unfortunately, just when we see Congress starting to pass bills promised during the last election, we get an unwelcomed glimpse of some of the ugliest parts of politics.  It disgusts and frightens me that not only were Members of Congress spat upon as they walked to the Capitol, but lunatics threatened to kill the family members of our elected officials.  I am disheartened by the actions of my fellow Americans in the last week but I am not without hope because despite all of these threats, they made real progress and that is something to celebrate.

Healthcare Reforms’ passage also clears the way for the Senate to take up climate and they are thankfully wasting no time.  According to E&E senior reporter Darren Samuelsohn, “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is inserting himself into the energy and climate debate with a series of meetings [on Tuesday and Wednesday] with key players engaged in the closed-door negotiations.”

Senator John Kerry (D-MA) is also doubling down on climate saying, “In the wake of health care’s passage, we have a strong case to make that this can be the next breakthrough legislative fight.  Climate legislation is the single best opportunity we have to create jobs, reduce pollution and stop sending billions overseas for foreign oil from countries that would do us harm.”

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the undecideds are starting to vocally call for Congress to consider a bill.  Earlier this week, Senator Tom Udall lead a group of 22 moderate Senators in calling on Senator Majority Leader Reid to bring up comprehensive climate and clean energy legislation for a vote. The letter is especially significant because most of these folks hadn’t been saying much about climate legislation before.  And if those in the middle remained silent, that would have deadened any momentum.  But they didn’t.  

Although none of this guarantees that we will get a bill and it certainly doesn’t guarantee that any bill that moves will be strong enough to address the problems, it represents significant progress.  Members of Congress have had a hard week so I hope that they go home over the Easter recess and take a few days to recuperate.  When they get back, there is much to do and a lot of momentum to build upon.

Heather Taylor-Miesle is the director of the NRDC Action Fund. Become a fan on Facebook or Twitter.

Bullies and Bystanders

The Climate Bullies

When I was in 6th grade, I fell victim to the school bully.  I was new to the school and became an easy target for an 8th grade girl with a bad attitude.  She picked on me endlessly while other kids stood by and watched.  I was humiliated, scared and completely at a loss about what I should do.  

Thankfully I had eventually made some decent friends and one day when the resident bully showed up one of them stepped in and told her to stop. Others quickly backed her up; the bully went away and never bothered me again.

My experience with bullying is far from unique. Bullies get away with their behavior over and over again….In our schools, in our offices and even in Congress.

What gives bullies their power? It certainly isn’t the victim. And it isn’t even the bully. Instead, those with the most power, the ones who can usually make the bullying stop, are the people on the sidelines.

I have been thinking about this phenomenon as I watch the climate debate in the Senate. I see the climate bill itself (and those of us who are pushing for it) in the role of victim; the fossil fuel industry and the Tea Party are the bullies. The bystanders in this situation are the Senators who aren’t doing much of anything on climate either way.  It isn’t hard to spot them, but it has been hard to get them to stand up.

In the face of a crisis like global warming, we don’t need quiet witnesses. We need bold heroes to step in, stop the fight, and solve the problem. We need lawmakers to say that now is the time to confront the crisis and jumpstart America’s economy.

It all starts with standing up to the bullies.

Consider the Tea Party. These are the bullies who spun health care reform – something that is still supported by the majority of Americans – into a sordid deal. Now they are going after climate legislation.

At the Tea Party Convention in Nashville last week, global warming skeptic Steve Milloy criticized Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) for working with Democratic Senator John Kerry (D-MA) on a bipartisan climate bill. Then he went so far as to call supporters of strong climate legislation “bad people” with questionable sanity and morals.

And then there are the fossil fuel industries. They bully with money: oil and gas companies spent at least $154 million on lobbying in 2009.  That doesn’t even take into account their political donations.

Intimidation and deep pockets are powerful forces, but I do hope those senators who are standing by on climate — many of whom intend to ultimately support a bill — realize that this is an opportunity to take a bold stand, to support strong legislation that represents our best tool for generating 2 million new jobs and making America more secure.

Voters love problem solvers; passing clean energy and climate legislation would give senators a chance to fix our economy, clean up our environment, and strengthen our national security.

For instance, Americans spent a record $450 billion on imported oil in 2008. That’s $1,400 for every man, woman, and child in this country sent to places like Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Nigeria. Passing a clean energy and climate bill would keep a good chunk of that money invested in America.

These are the kind of solutions Americans will vote for right now.

I hope the senators who have been on the sidelines will step in on behalf of all Americans so the bullies don’t have the power anymore. If they continue to sit and do nothing, they will in their own way be as much to blame as the deniers, because both of them are impeding progress. The deniers do it noisily with malice, the bystanders do it quietly and often with good intentions, but both are doing a disservice to our nation.

No one said solving the biggest crisis of our time would be easy, but someone needs to stand up to the bullies.  

John Kerry Goes After Blackwater

Full disclosure: I work for the Courage Campaign

In the continuing battle over Blackwater and America’s soul, Senator John Kerry called for hearings today into the renewal of Blackwater’s State Department contract.  Why? In Kerry’s words:

To learn that Blackwater’s no-bid security contract for Iraq was renewed even as a grand jury investigates the company and the IRS considers its own review of the company’s books, raises serious concerns that merit Senate hearings. How was this decision made? What was the process that concluded there were no alternatives? What was the extent of Blackwater’s lobbying effort?, said Senator Kerry. “Five years into this war, there’s been too much abuse of the contracting process in Iraq and too little oversight, and nowhere do the questions loom larger than in Blackwater’s role and the Administration’s apparent imperviousness to skepticism where this corporation is concerned.

Coincidentally, this news comes on the same day that news broke that Blackwater vehicle prototypes might be on the Defense Department’s shopping list. This is two more fronts in the battle over Blackwater’s legitimacy.  On the one hand, Blackwater continues to seek out new niches to keep itself afloat after we finally leave Iraq, and on the other hand, Democratic leadership continues to step to block Blackwater.  Kerry’s hearings will likely take place in the Middle East Subcommittee in the Foreign Relations Committee. Also serving there is Senator Barbara Boxer.  Now Senator Boxer has earned the benefit of the doubt over her years in the Senate, but this is a huge issue that goes well beyond this aspect of Blackwater or the State Department.  This is a statement about how we as a nation are going to treat organizations like Blackwater.

I have a lot of faith in Barbara Boxer to do the right thing, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t vital that we watch and make sure she helps drive the point home here.  There’s simply never any excuse for Blackwater to be paid with our tax dollars. Until we can lay down a federal level smackdown (Rep. Schakowsky’s Stop Outsourcing Security Act is another great opportunity) on this sort of thing, it’s just gonna be more rounds of whack-a-mole around the country. It’s good to see more leadership in DC on this issue, but now we’ve gotta get the follow-through.

Barack Obama GOTV Rally with John Kerry in San Francisco

Brian has his camera and is about ten feet from the nominee, I’m on the balcony and we’ll have pics later. Packed standing room only on the ground floor, balcony almost full…tons of press…crowd is fired up after a kickass introduction by SF DA Kamala Harris…crowd interupting Kerry with “yes we can” and he’s thriving on the energy…everyone taking cell phone pics…as speech wraps up PA blasts “no retreat no surrender” as Kerry walks into the crowd where he’s getting mobbed by photogs and fans.  

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Senators Concerned Service Members Suffering from Mental Illness Not Receiving Impartial Reviews

(Xposted on mydesert.com)

I have written previously on mydesert.com and on Calitics.com regarding my concerns about the lack of adequate treatment and prevention for mental illness including Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in our returning servicemen and women.

It is clear from the prosecution of the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and in the current occupation of Iraq, that the Bush Administration has given little thought to the preparation, planning and follow-through for the military efforts and Iraq occupation.  In addition, the Bush Administration did little to adequately train and supply our troops.  The poor planning and follow-through is even more evident in the Walter Reed scandals of 2006.  This Administration appears to at the very least neglect our honorable men and women in uniform.  At the worst, the Bush Administration seems to view our soldiers as mere fodder for its own political ambition.  Hopefully, it is an issue of neglect and not vile political manipulation.

Anyway, the Armed Forces under the direction of the President of the United States and of the Secretary of Defense needs to ensure that every returning soldier, marine, airmen and women, and sailors, National Guard, and Reservists be screened for mental disorders related to their time of service.  And, the Armed Forces needs to provide adequate and immediate treatment for anyone who needs such.

I received the following Press Release today that expands on my concerns by addressing the lack of impartial reviews when assessing the mental health of our returning servicemen and women:

“Washington, D.C.-U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Kit Bond (R-MO), Barack Obama  (D-IL) and John Kerry (D-MA) today sent the following letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates:

December 14, 2007

The Honorable Robert Gates

Secretary of Defense

1000 Defense Pentagon

Washington , DC 20301

“Dear Secretary Gates:

We are concerned over reports that members of our Armed Forces with underlying mental health conditions are not receiving balanced, fair, and impartial reviews when facing judicial punishment and administrative discharge for engaging in misconduct that could be related to their conditions.

“We understand and support the necessity of maintaining good order and discipline in the military. At the same time, we are concerned that the decision to prosecute a service member with serious mental health issues may, in some cases, be carried out without appropriate consideration of recommendations made by uniformed mental health providers. As such, we ask you to promptly review guidelines for the administrative handling of such complex cases.”

More below the flip…

The Press Release continues:

“On December 2, 2007, The Washington Post ran a story entitled “A Soldier’s Officer” that clearly illustrates our concerns. The piece details the ordeal of Army First Lieutenant Elizabeth Whiteside, who according to available reports, served honorably at both Water Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) and in Iraq before experiencing severe mental health symptoms and attempting suicide. During her apparent suicide attempt, Lt. Whiteside threatened a number of her fellow service members, and as a result, we understand the Army is currently deciding whether to pursue a court-martial against her.  

“What we find particularly troubling about this case is that military commanders with no medical training derided the documented medical opinions as to Lt. Whiteside’s mental condition and their bearing on the case. Colonel Terrence J. McKenrick, commander of the Warrior Transition Brigade at Walter Reed, charged that even though medical professionals had determined Lt. Whiteside had a “severe mental disease or defect, she knowingly assaulted and threatened others and injured herself.” Another commander wrote that Lt. Whiteside’s “defense that she suffers from a mental disease excusing her actions is just that…an excuse; an excuse to distract from choices and decisions made by Lt. Whiteside.” These statements are contrary to the apparent recommendations of Lt. Whiteside’s battalion commander in Iraq that disciplinary actions not be taken, and show a callous disregard for the diagnosis of qualified psychiatrists at WRAMC, who found that Lt. Whiteside suffered from a “severe major depressive disorder and a personality disorder” and “disassociation with reality.”

“We believe that service members should be held accountable for their actions, and we recognize that the Manual for Courts-Martial provides procedures for handling mental health issues in judicial proceedings. However, this case highlights the need for the Department to review its administrative procedures and training programs to ensure that commanders give full and fair consideration of the recommendations made by trained mental health providers before initiating disciplinary actions against soldiers suffering from mental diseases.

“Additionally, as Senators who have worked extensively to improve mental health care services for our armed forces, we find it unacceptable that officers with no medical training-who are required by law to protect the impartiality of the military justice process-would make dismissive statements regarding Lt. Whiteside’s mental health condition. These comments only undermine respect for the mental health profession and increase the stigma associated with seeking mental health care.

“According to the Congressionally-mandated report of the Department of Defense Task Force on Mental Health, “every military leader bears responsibility for addressing stigma; leaders who fail to do so reduce the effectiveness of the service members they lead.” The Department is best served by ending policies that discriminate against service-members who suffer from mental health problems and working to eliminate the stigma that prevents too many from seeking care. That is why we strongly urge you to ensure that the recommendations of qualified medical professionals play a clearly defined and important role in proceedings to discharge or punish any service member with an underlying mental health condition.

“Thank you for your consideration of this important request.”

Join Jerry McNerney on firedoglake today (live-blogging 1-3 pm PST)

(Will you be in front of your computer this afternoon? If so, here’s your chance to talk to Rep. McNerney! And for all you NorCal people, go to Jerry’s Ice Cream Social in Dublin at 6:00 PM tonight to see Rep. McNerney IN PERSON!! : ) – promoted by atdleft)

x-posted at MyDD and Daily Kos

Hi Calitics’istas (and Kossacks and MyDD’ers) –

I would like to invite all of you to join Congressman Jerry McNerney — the netroots hero who defeated Richard Pombo — this afternoon at firedoglake’s Blue America. But first, I have some great news to tell you.

On Monday, your votes helped Jerry win Senator John Kerry’s national "March Madness" campaign competition (along with Rep. Nancy Boyda, KS-2). As a result, Senator Kerry sent over 3 million people an email yesterday asking them to support Jerry, as well as Rep. Boyda, and Senators Tom Harkin and Mark Pryor.

Last night, you did it again. We asked our grassroots and netroots supporters to "Hit a Home Run for Jerry" by raising $300,000 before the Federal Election Commission’s March 31st midnight deadline. And, late last night, you hit it out of the park– a full 24 hours before the deadline.   

More below the flip…

I talked with the Congressman last night and he told me that he wanted everyone to know how grateful he is to the netroots and grassroots. Time and time again, you have demonstrated your incredible enthusiasm and generosity for Jerry. In our phone call, Jerry was truly humbled and amazed at the depth of your commitment.

If you would like to talk with Jerry as well, you have two great opportunities on Saturday. You can meet with the Congressman either online or in-person and ask him the questions that concern you the most about the future of our country and the world.


The first opportunity is for the netroots. Jerry will be live-blogging on firedoglake’s "Blue America" from 1-3 p.m. PST (4-6 p.m. EST) on Saturday (March 31). Please come to firedoglake.com on Saturday and post your questions. The Congressman will answer them as fast as his fingers can type.

Jerry was just added to Blue America’s ActBlue page a few days ago, and of the five excellent candidates listed, he’s got a lot of ground to make up (in 2006, Blue America’s netroots activists raised over $25,000 for Jerry). By the end of Saturday, we want Jerry to be the top netroots candidate, in terms of both total donors and total dollars raised.

Whether you are able to live-blog with Jerry on firedoglake.com or not, you can still help Jerry move up the Blue America donor standings by contributing any amount right now at:



If you are in Northern California, you can also talk with the Congressman in-person at "Jerry’s Ice Cream Social" in Dublin from 6-8 p.m. on Saturday night. At this special event, Jerry will talk about his first 84 days in Congress and what you can do to help him move America in a new direction.

The Ice Cream Social will be held on the 2nd floor of our campaign headquarters at 6250 Village Parkway in Dublin. 

Please RSVP by sending an email to "RSVP AT JerryMcNerney.org" or call 925-833-0643.

Thank you again for winning the Kerry competition, breaking the $300,000 Bat, and taking the time to talk with Jerry on Saturday.

Remember, without your people power, none of this would be possible.

I’ll join you in the comments if you have any questions!

Eden w/ McNerney for Congress

P.S. if you don’t remember what this man stands for, here’s a good reminder 🙂

Vote for Jerry!

(The voting ends on Sunday, March 25 at 9PM our time. – promoted by Brian Leubitz)

To the right, you’ll see an ad for John Kerry’s “March Madness”.  He’s having a vote for who he’s going to give money to.  So, go vote for our very own Jerry McNerney! As we all know, the GOP will be gunning for Jerry big-time, so he could use all the support he can get come November 2008. Go click on the ad and get your vote on!

John Kerry’s Brouhaha and Its Implications For Angelides

(Cross-posted at The California Courage Campaign)

Yesterday in Pasadena, when stumping for Phil Angelides, John Kerry made the following comment about education:

"You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. And if you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."

You look at the front page of FoxNews.com, it's the top story, whereas on any other online news outlet, it's nowhere to be found. And all day on Fox News today they've been replaying the video of Kerry making the statement, in which he goes on to rave about Phil Angelides and California's two senators. I haven't seen Angelides's name get this much play since his campaign began.

Today, Tony Snow and the administration hit back, calling Kerry's comments "an absolute insult" to the troops.

"The clear implication here is, if you flunk out, if you don't study hard, if you don't do your homework, if you don't make an effort to be smart, and you don't do well you, quote, 'Get stuck in Iraq,'" Snow said.

See Kerry's remarkable response to this over the flip.

"If anyone thinks a veteran would criticize the more than 140,000 heroes serving in Iraq and not the president who got us stuck there, they're crazy. This is the classic G.O.P. playbook. I'm sick and tired of these despicable Republican attacks that always seem to come from those who never can be found to serve in war, but love to attack those who did.

Oh hell yes. More:

The people who owe our troops an apology are George W. Bush and Dick Cheney who misled America into war and have given us a Katrina foreign policy that has betrayed our ideals, killed and maimed our soldiers, and widened the terrorist threat instead of defeating it. These Republicans are afraid to debate veterans who live and breathe the concerns of our troops, not the empty slogans of an Administration that sent our brave troops to war without body armor.

Tony Snow and now John McCain are calling for an apology from Senator Kerry. Instead of an apology, Kerry just made the following statement in a press conference:

Let me make it crystal clear. I apologize to no one for my criticism of the president and of his broken policy. If anyone owes the troops in the field an aplogy, it is the president and his failed team.

He went on to call his statement yesterday "a botched joke about the president…not about the troops"; that he meant that he was ripping on those that took us into Iraq, not those fighting there. Kerry is clearly purging the demons of 2004. 

I'm not going to give them one ounce of daylight for their distortions. I learned that hard and deep lesson two years ago.

Not surprisingly, Fox News is trying to make this, as Carl Cameron put it, "a moment" such as Senator Wellstone's funeral, during which Democrats' behavior may have contributed to Walter Mondale's loss in his attempt to replace Wellstone. They will do their best to make sure this story has legs since, as Britt Hume said in post news conference analysis, "this clearly helps Republicans." But even the Fox News anchor seemed impressed with Kerry's tough stance and his refusal to apologize.

Over at CNN, there was a different take altogether. The anchor put conservative Bay Buchanan on the defensive:

So you're saying the president did his homework when he took us into Iraq?

The first thing out of Buchanan's mouth:


I couldn't believe it. They were adopting Kerry's frame of his statement, literally calling into question whether Bush was adequately educated about Iraq before he took us in. That is the frame that needs to emerge from this story. That, and the toughness of John Kerry.

The big question though is whether Phil Angelides will implicate himself into the fray, getting more play and having Kerry's tough talk rub off on him. Phil's biggest goal this final stretch as I see it is not to win new voters, but to make sure Democrats show up for him on Tuesday. That is what John Kerry's antics yesterday and today can do for Phil if he plays it right.