In the last two years, Al Gore has been one of the most forceful speakers in America on America. I missed his Portland speeches last week, but here is the transcript from a few days later in San Francisco, which is definitely worth a read.
Below are some key excerpts I pulled out:
On Katrina, Global Warming
Speech given by Al Gore
In the early days of the unfolding [hurricane Katrina] catastrophe, the President compared our ongoing efforts in Iraq to World War Two and victory over Japan. Let me cite one difference between those two historical events: When imperial Japan attacked us at Pearl Harbor, Franklin Roosevelt did not invade Indonesia....
We were warned of an imminent attack by Al Qaeda; we didn't respond. We were warned the levees would break in New Orleans; we didn't respond. Now, the scientific community is warning us that the average hurricane will continue to get stronger because of global warming. ....
It is important to learn the lessons of what happens when scientific evidence and clear authoritative warnings are ignored in order to induce our leaders not to do it again and not to ignore the scientists again and not to leave us unprotected in the face of those threats that are facing us right now.....
The president says that he is not sure that global warming is a real threat. He says that he is not ready to do anything meaningful to prepare us for a threat that he's not certain is real. He tells us that he believes the science of global warming is in dispute. This is the same president who said last week, "Nobody could have predicted that the levees would break." It's important to establish accountability in order to make our democracy work....
It is time now for us to recover our moral health in America and stand again to rise for freedom, demand accountability for poor decisions, missed judgments, lack of planning, lack of preparation, and willful denial of the obvious truth about serious and imminent threats that are facing the American people....
Some are now saying, including in the current administration, that the pitiful response by government proves that we cannot ever rely on the government.... The fact that an administration can't manage its own way out of a horse show doesn't mean that all government programs should be abolished. FEMA worked extremely well during the previous administration....
This is a moral moment. This is not ultimately about any scientific debate or political dialogue. Ultimately it is about who we are as human beings. It is about our capacity to transcend our own limitations. To rise to this new occasion. To see with our hearts, as well as our heads, the unprecedented response that is now called for. To disenthrall ourselves, to shed the illusions that have been our accomplices in ignoring the warnings that were clearly given, and hearing the ones that are clearly given now....
To those who say [solving globaly warming is] too big for us, I say that we have accepted and successfully met such challenges in the past.
This is another such time. This is your moment. This is the time for those who see and understand and care and are willing to work to say this time the warnings will not be ignored. This time we will prepare. This time we will rise to the occasion. And we will prevail.
Thank you. Good luck to you, God bless you.
See also my blog entries of letters to the editor last week: Re: For Bush, a Deepening Divide [Washington Post], Bush and Katrina [Christian Science Monitor], Bush and Katrina [Oregonian, Bush and Katrina [USA Today], Re: It's Not a 'Blame Game' [New York Times]
I leave tomorrow for New Mexico for Election Monitoring with Election Protection. So it's possible this may be my last post before the election. Vote. Vote Early. Make sure Kerry supporters vote.
Here's to victory!!
The McMinnville News-Register printed my letter to the editor (scroll down) as "No more misadventures from strategic errors" this Saturday, which couldn't be be timing in my opinion (for whatever undecideds there are out there!). In the paper edition, it was the first letter -- good position! A key part of the argument was:
"Could 9/11 have been prevented? No one knows, but they weren't even trying. They had kept America's counter-terrorism chief, Richard Clarke "out of the loop"...."
I wrote recently about helping out with the Republicans, Business Leaders and Veterans for Kerry bus tour on Monday, and we got great coverage an article in the McMinnvile News-Register in their next (Wednesday) edition. Photo with me in it is not online :-(
W.L. and D.L. hosted a great fund-raiser for America Coming Together .. and great conversation afterwards at Ponzi Bistro. If you can believe it, after announcing the event on their website, they got a call saying it might be bad for "a small business like yours" to support ACT. So, I encourage you to come by and taste and buy some wine from some of the finest people and winemakers in Oregon.
John Kerry for President
The more time passes, the more impressive John Kerry becomes. To me, he's not just not-Bush. I just watched "Going Upriver", about John Kerry's early years up through the Vietnam War protests. Kerry today is in many ways the same man he was 30 years ago -- straightforward, smart, direct, driven by a higher purpose than himself. A sense of clear, high moral character and deep integrity that has shown in his actions about how he campaigns as well as in words and deeds. A good man, worthy of respect, who recognizes a dangerous fight with a bully but stands up to him for the good of America.
Can you imagine being in John Kerry's these last months, having to carry the burden of opposing this president with all the tools and viciousness at Bush's disposal? Few people are that strong. I am glad I am not in Kerry's shoes.
So, let us not rest these final days but rather continue to see that we win back America through John Kerry:
Republicans for Kerry
If there are any Republicans still wavering, here's a run-down of several Republicans for Kerry organizations to see what Republicans themselves are saying about why they support Kerry. See also this roundup at John Kerry's website.
Here is another conservative, life-long Republican testimonial against Bush. And this one from someone who is in the rarified air around Bush. From Conversation with a Conservative: Peter G. Peterson
The Commerce Secretary in the Nixon administration explains that the Republican Party "has lost its moorings" in recent years.
"....a long-term tax cut is not a tax cut at all, unless it's accompanied by long-term spending cuts. It's what you'd call a deferred tax increase on the future, which is our children."
"...during the Democratic, Clinton years, there was this bipartisan cooperation, to raise taxes on people like me, and to put caps on spending, and we had something called the "Pay as you go" rule."
"...And Dick Armey, who's hardly a liberal -- who used to be the House Majority Leader -- says we can't pin this one on the Democrats. We're in charge of the White House and the Congress."
[In a meeting with Bush Peter told Bush:] ".... tax cuts for people like us, before you've solved the costs you're going to be passing on to your kids, is in my judgment immoral. But you could just tell by his steely response that tax cuts are part of the theology."
Missing 380 Tons of Explosives in Iraq
There's something amiss in the language of the missing 380 tons of high explosives.
Using dump trucks holding 10 tons, it would require a convoy of 38 dump trucks or 38 trips by one truck. Using pick-ups carring 1 ton, it would take some 380 trips, or with a 10 pick-up convoy, 38 trips. This isn't "looting" where some people dashed inside and zipped out with whatever they could hold before anyone noticed. This was a big, long effort.
As Maureen Dowd wrote,
"Mr. Cheney and the neocons were in a deranged ideological psychosis, obsessing about imaginary weapons while allowing enemies to spirit the real ones away."
Bush's Abuse of Faith
Faith Abuse: When God Becomes A Campaign Ploy by Arianna Huffington
"Nowhere is this blending of church and campaign more evident than in "George W. Bush: Faith in the White House," a DVD being distributed to tens of thousands of America's churches.
Although not officially the work of the Bush-Cheney campaign, it obviously has its approval, and indeed was screened at a party for Christian conservatives hosted by the campaign at the GOP convention in New York."
No on 36
The US constitution, aside from how the government is constituted, is not about enshrining history or traditions, but about preserving individual rights in a non-discriminatory fashion against encroachment of the state or by other people. Aside from crimes against the state (treason), the constitution doesn't address what things shall be crimes committed by individuals -- not even murder, burglary, etc. Those are left as "malleable" items that can be defined and changed by legislative action, so long as they don't infringe on the rights quaranteed in the constitution. This, in recognition that societal mores change and tradition and accepted behavior change over time.
A ban on gay marriage certainly doesn't meet those tests of whether it is deserving of being elevated to the constitution.
Bush seems to have given many Republicans pause, causing them to re-evaluate their values. I think there is an interesting opportunity for progressives to mold a more universal message, by incorporating the recognition by many Republicans that fiscal responsibility is more important than lower taxes, that tax burdens should be progressive and not regressive, that they care about the environment, civil liberties, separation of church & state and especially that those less fortunate should not be just left to themselves.
There is no need to tally again the unbelievably long list of terrible things Bush has done to this country (The Nation has one nice tally of their top 100 issues with Bush), nor to enumerate the horrors that Bush could visit upon us and he rest of the world with four years of unrestrained messianic ideology unleashed through what is not neo-conservatism, but rather neo-fascism.
Instead, as we close in on the final days of the campaign and as I review this election cycle, and my own mini-oddessy during it, I find myself strangely close to where I started writing in December 2003, angry and driven by a sense of frustration and of foreboding about Bush. And today, angry as ever with Bush, but now with the hope of John Kerry.
As I reflected and wrote the following, it was a while before I realized how much what I was writing was earily similar to my first piece "A Moderates Manifesto" (first in a long line of unpublished letters and op-ed pieces sent to the New York Times ;-). In that piece I argued that moderate Republicans need to quit the party in order to remake it. I little imagined that we'd not only find so many actually doing that, and doing it publicly, but also finding so many dyed-in-the-wool conservative Republicans also now repudiating the Bush-led fundamentalist Republicans.
See "Unfit to Govern".
It's not over 'til it's over. I'm confident but not complacent. There's still time to make a difference!
In this entry:
You can make a difference in a battleground state right now!
Wow, what a great 10 minutes I had! And you too can help in a battleground state from home in 10 minutes. Here's how:
I called them all, working to get canvassers for last Saturday at 10am and Sunday at noon,
Then I was out the door, off to a meeting.
In less than 10 minutes, you can make a difference in battleground states across the country helping the Kerry campaign get out the vote. And then keep calling.
Instead of this election being a "squeaker", help ensure we get out the vote yourself across the battleground states and make sure we send Bush packing!
Republicans, Business Leaders and Veterans for Kerry bus tours
Sunday's Oregonian had an ad that listed 240 of the 500 Republicans, Business Leaders and Veterans for Kerry which I joined a few weeks ago.
On Monday I joined the Republicans, Business Leaders and Veterans for Kerry bus tour to McMinnville, Dallas and Albany, OR before having to skeedaddle to a meeting. What an experience hearing people's heartfelt reasons for leaving the Republican party, or why they're standing up for Kerry, or demanding to know why George W. Bush hasn't been held responsible for 9/11 happening on his watch (man who lost several friends in it), a position that frustrates me too and was recently addressed in the American Prospect.
By 3pm we'd already gotten coverage on the radio. [Updated 10/27/2004: Excellent coverage in the McMinnville News-Register too.]
The New Yorker magazine Kerry endorsement
The amazing The New Yorker magazine Kerry endorsement (thanks, A.N.). Sure wish I could marshall my thoughts and writing like that!
No on 36 (Oregon measure banning gay marriage)
Several people have asked me about Measure 36 and supporting the No on 36 effort, which I definitely do. Most of the election I have worked other issues that have overlapping support (Kerry, Measure 37, ...) because of the belief that publicizing Measure 36 tends to bring out more opposition that also solidifies around Bush than it helps. However, Measure 36 has gotten so much play lately that my old position isn't relevant now.
As a G.R. put it some time ago when we discussed this:
A letter to the Oregonian that talks about 36 will bring two conservatives to the polls for every liberal.
I think most observers would say that Rhinehart's purpose in talking about marriage was to reelect Bush. This is a republican issue.
Support No on 36's efforts:
The Rockridge Institute has a fascinating look at the language and positioning of the gay marriage issue.
The People for the American Way has some interesting related resources.
Bush and Republicans effort to undermine media
This excerpt is from a follow-up interview with Ron Suskind (author of Without a Doubt in The New York Times Sunday Magazine 10/17/2004) in an article Reality Based Reporting in Salon.com 10/20/2004
Do you think the attack on the press is a way to eliminate a national point of reference on facts?
Absolutely! That's the whole idea, to somehow sweep away the community of honest brokers in America -- both Republicans and Democrats and members of the mainstream press -- sweep them away so we'll be left with a culture and public dialogue based on assertion rather than authenticity, on claim rather than fact. Because when you arrive at that place, then all you have to rely on is perception. And perception as the handmaiden of forceful executed power is the great combination that we're seeing now in the American polity.
So what are you left with? Perception and, increasingly, faith. Think about faith. Try to anchor that in the traditional public dialogue of informed consent in America, which has in large measure at least been based on discernible reality and on facts that can be proven -- not only facts coming out of the government but facts people feel in their own lives.
It is one devil of a challenge. One man's conversation with God guides the globe and human affairs. How exactly do you frame that inside the secular writ of informed consent based on facts? I think those who are forcefully running the White House electoral machine -- and the soul of this machine is an extraordinary operation -- understand this with great alacrity.
As with so many of us, several times I've raised the issue of fundamentalists taking over the Republican party and Bush's mind. Here's an interesting recap of when this problem raised it's ugly head in 1922 by Harry Emerson Fosdick on May 21, 1922, from the pulpit of the First Presbyterian Church in New York City wrote “Shall the Fundamentalists Win?”, presented by Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy as Will the Fundamentalists Win? A Question Revisited:
That historic Fosdick sermon on the fate of fundamentalism was delivered in a context heavily populated by self-designated protectors of truth who were seeking to cleanse their churches of all persons deemed to possess a progressive or liberal mindset....
Today, 82 years later, the situation is as much the same as it is dramatically different. Now, it is clear, fundamentalism is not just a tempest in an ecclesiastical tea pot but a powerful phenomenon in most of the major religions of the world....
Let there be no mistake in understanding, at stake in the divides of the present moment are nothing less than the vitality of democracy and the integrity of Christianity within this nation....
Christian fundamentalism will not be defeated by the strategic, targeted opposition of people like us so much as, eventually, it will self-destruct. Fundamentalism carries within its very nature the seeds of its own demise....
For some similar reasons, I don't think that the fundamentalists are likely to prevail over time as I've said or worried about, for example here:
Will the conservative Republican endorsements of John Kerry never end?
See the blog on George Soros's website for a whole rank of Republicans writing in.
'Frightened to death' of Bush By Marlow W. Cook, a former Republican Senator, Special to The Courier-Journal
.... Lyndon Johnson said America could have guns and butter at the same time. This administration says you can have guns, butter and no taxes at the same time. God help us if we are not smart enough to know that is wrong, and we live by it to our peril.
I am not enamored with John Kerry, but I am frightened to death of George Bush. I fear a secret government. I abhor a government that refuses to supply the Congress with requested information. I am against a government that refuses to tell the country with whom the leaders of our country sat down and determined our energy policy....
For me, as a Republican, I feel that when my party gives me a dangerous leader who flouts the truth, takes the country into an undeclared war and then adds a war on terrorism to it without debate by the Congress, we have a duty to rid ourselves of those who are taking our country on a perilous ride in the wrong direction.
If we are indeed the party of Lincoln (I paraphrase his words), a president who deems to have the right to declare war at will without the consent of the Congress is a president who far exceeds his power under our Constitution.
I will take John Kerry for four years to put our country on the right path.
John Kerry, The Rolling Stone Interview
There's a great interview of John Kerry in Rolling Stone, of which I've pulled a few excerpts. By JANN S. WENNER
[Kerry lays out his agenda:]
First of all, make America safe, and deal with nuclear proliferation and the global confrontation.
Second, we have to create jobs and be fiscally responsible -- so that we're creating the framework for America to be strong at home.
Third, we have to have a system that provides health care for all Americans, and I have a plan to do that.
Fourth, we're going to have education that works for everybody -- that lifts people up. Ongoing adult education -- a system that works.
And fifth, we're going to have an environmental policy that leaves this planet to our kids in better shape than we got it from our parents.
That's it -- that's the agenda.
If you send troops into Iraq, how will you be able to tell them they're not risking their lives for a mistake?
Because I'm going to make it a success, 'cause we're going to win. We're going to do what we need to do to get this job done. And I'm committed to doing that -- and I know how to do it. I'll put a foreign-policy team together that talks the truth to the American people.
What do you mean when you say you know how to do it?
I've spent thirty-five years dealing with these kinds of issues. When I came back from fighting in a war, I fought against the war here in America. As a senator, I led the fight to stop Ronald Reagan's illegal war in Central America. I helped expose Oliver North and Manuel Noriega. I've been at this for a long time. You know, I led the initial efforts to change our policy on the Philippines -- which ultimately resulted in the elections, and became part of the process that helped get rid of Marcos.
I negotiated personally with the prime minister of Cambodia, to get accountability for the killing fields of the Pol Pot regime. I've negotiated with the Vietnamese to let me and John McCain in and put American forces on the ground to resolve the POW-MIA issue. I've spent twenty years on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; I've been chairman of the Narcotics Terrorism Subcommittee. I have five times the experience George Bush does in dealing with these issues, and I know that I can get this done.
People say this is the most important election of our lifetime -- do you agree?
I believe it is. And I want your readers to stop in their tracks and consider what's at stake for them. Because not enough people connect the things they hate, or feel or want, to the power of their vote. And they've got to be willing to go out and work in these next couple of weeks.
How do you yourself feel? What burden does it place on you?
You know, I've been in public life all my life -- with one brief exception, when I was a lawyer and started a small business. I accept the weight, but I don't feel it. I've lived out so much frustration over the last few years that this is a liberating experience for me. I feel excited by it. I feel energized by it. I welcome it. And I just want other people to understand what's at stake here.
How did you feel when you first saw those Swift-boat ads?
Disappointed -- a sense of bitter disappointment. That people will stoop to those depths of lying -- for their personal reasons.
Did you get angry at Bush personally?
Look, I know politics is tough, and I don't spend a lot of time worrying about what they do to me. But I do worry, and I am angry, about what they do to the American people. That's what this race is about. It's not about me. I can take it -- I don't care. I've been in worse things. I was on those boats -- I got shot at. I can handle it.
What I worry about is that they lie to America. What I worry about is that they tell the middle class, "We're giving you a tax cut," and the top one percent of America gets more than eighty percent of the rest of the people. I worry that they are unwilling to do anything about the 5 million Americans who have lost their health care.
I worry that there are twenty-eight states in America where you can't go fishing and eat the fish, because of the quality of the water. I worry that they've gotten us into a war where young kids are dying, and they haven't done what's responsible to protect them. That's what I worry about. The rest of it is small pickings.
You don't get angry when Bush outright lies about you?
No, I don't get angry at it. I think it's sort of pathetic.
Finally, if you were to look back over eight years of a Kerry presidency, what would you hope would be said about it?
That it always told the truth to the American people, that it always fought for average folks. And that we raised the quality of life in America and made America safer. I want to be the president who gets health care done for Americans. I want to be the president who helps to fix our schools and end this separate-and-unequal school system we have in America. And I want to be the president who re-establishes America's reputation in the world -- which is part of making us safer. There's a huge opportunity here to really lift our country up, and that's what I want to do.
Ballots are being delivered in Oregon, so now's the time to mark your ballot for John Kerry, David Wu, No on 37, etc. and get them in early. Don't let some disaster or family emergency possibly interfere later. The Kerry campaign is organizing balloting day this Wednesday: get them in on or before Wednesday so we can:
Bush's team is working the evangelical vote hard, trying to get another 4 million votes. Why not take a few days off work this week and next and call and canvass for John Kerry?
Here is a poignant reminder of why it is important to try and make this election as clean as possible, and a win for Kerry over intentional voter disenfranchisement:
"how do i explain this to my kids? "play fair shanti." he says "why daddy, the president doesn't have to, why should i?" btw, we really did not have this conversation - however i am really afraid i will have to."
And if you suspect voter fraud in Oregon, you can send email to (thanks DL): email@example.com
You know, the Bush administration is so bad and so dangerous, that sometimes I'm guilty of not making the case for Kerry. Who I think is a great candidate for president! So ....
Why I trust Kerry with my vote.
Through the fog of misleading attacks on Kerry, here's why I trust John Kerry.
Kerry's History: Eyewitnesses, including the man who's life he saved, have established his willingness to sacrifice himself for others. When he saw egregious leadership failures that cost the lives of others, he took an unpopular, public stand against the political conduct of the Vietnam war. He subsequently devoted his life to public service, fighting for money, care and recognition for veterans who had fought the Vietnam war. (See also my commentary from last month on Why is Vietnam relevant today?)
Kerry's criticism of Bush: When he criticizes the president, he does it over deeply held convictions about policy and leadership failures, not with ridicule, name-calling and personal attacks.
Kerry's positions: pulling out just a select two: his Energy Independence plan and his Healthcare plan. Kerry's energy policy is a refreshing look at the problem: not just idealistic-but-unrealistic goals whether high tech (hydrogen is a decade or two away at best) or conservation-will-save-us -- but instead Kerry has taken a comprehensive look at how we can make realistic progress now to reduce dependence on unreliable suppliers, stop sending so much money to other countries, build jobs using hybrid technology, etc. On healthcare, a similar effort to confront serious societal issues with creative thinking about realistic ways to make substantial progress quickly.
Behind these are a deep-seated optimism that we can make a positive improvement to not only our future and our children's future, but also a positive improvement to the future of our friends and neighbors lives so we all have more opportunity. What the framers of the constitution may have considered part of the "general welfare", not just the welfare of those in power. You know, like Ben Franklin's creation of the public lending library.
Of course it is easy to find weaknesses in any candidate -- personality or policies you don't agree with -- but we only get to vote on each candidate as the complete package of good and bad attributes, associates and policies. So it isn't a question of whether a candidate is our ideal candidate, but how much better one complete package is over the other on the ballot for achieving our overall goals. I think Kerry is a damn good complete package.
The New York Times endorsement of John Kerry for President does a great job of laying out both the detailed case against Bush and the strong case for Kerry. Following are excerpts (emphasis mine):
He [Kerry] has qualities that could be the basis for a great chief executive, not just a modest improvement on the incumbent.
We have been impressed with Mr. Kerry's wide knowledge and clear thinking...
....his entire life has been devoted to public service, from the war to a series of elected offices. He strikes us, above all, as a man with a strong moral core."
There is no denying that this race is mainly about Mr. Bush's disastrous tenure....
Mr. Kerry has the capacity to do far, far better. He has a willingness - sorely missing in Washington these days - to reach across the aisle. We are relieved that he is a strong defender of civil rights, that he would remove unnecessary restrictions on stem cell research and that he understands the concept of separation of church and state. We appreciate his sensible plan to provide health coverage for most of the people who currently do without.
Mr. Kerry has an aggressive and in some cases innovative package of ideas about energy, aimed at addressing global warming and oil dependency. He is a longtime advocate of deficit reduction. In the Senate, he worked with John McCain in restoring relations between the United States and Vietnam, and led investigations of the way the international financial system has been gamed to permit the laundering of drug and terror money. He has always understood that America's appropriate role in world affairs is as leader of a willing community of nations, not in my-way-or-the-highway domination.
We look back on the past four years with hearts nearly breaking, both for the lives unnecessarily lost and for the opportunities so casually wasted. Time and again, history invited George W. Bush to play a heroic role, and time and again he chose the wrong course. We believe that with John Kerry as president, the nation will do better.
Voting for president is a leap of faith. A candidate can explain his positions in minute detail and wind up governing with a hostile Congress that refuses to let him deliver. A disaster can upend the best-laid plans. All citizens can do is mix guesswork and hope, examining what the candidates have done in the past, their apparent priorities and their general character. It's on those three grounds that we enthusiastically endorse John Kerry for president.
Other points being made for Kerry:
As well as against Bush:
And finally a taste from Al Gore's most recent speech ((emphasis mine), butyou'll have to read the rest yourself):
I have tried hard to understand what it is that gives so many Americans an uneasy feeling that something very basic has gone wrong in our democracy. There are many people in both political parties who worry that there is something deeply troubling about President Bush's relationship to reason, about his disdain for facts, his incuriosity about new information that might produce a deeper understanding of the problems and policies that he wrestles with on behalf of the country.
.... Most of the problems President Bush has caused for this country stemmed not from his belief in God but his belief in the infallibility of the right-wing Republican ideology that exalts the interest of the wealthy, and of large corporations over and above the interests of the American people. It is love of power for its own sake that is the original sin of this presidency.
.... The essential cruelty of Bush's game is that he takes an astonishingly selfish and greedy collection of economic and political proposals, and then cloaks them with a phony moral authority, thus misleading many Americans who have a deep and genuine desire to do good in the world.
On-the-ground actions by friends:
One of the founding principles of our nation, deeply informing the constitution, is the separation of pillars of influence -- not just within the govenment apparatus (Administration, Legislature and Courts), but also of church, state and political speech. These are separated because the lessons of history that our founders had absorbed, show that concentration of power produces tyranny over those without the power. That is, it leads inevitably to suppression of other people's views and oppression (ostracism, imprisonment, death, exile) of those holding those organizing for freedom to express those views. And that leads to strife and the inability to achieve the overall societal aims.
That is a lesson the founders learned and built into our constitution in an effort to build an enduring, pluralistic society.
That is a lesson that President Bush hasn't learned and if Bush is elected in 2004, this grand experiment in tolerance may come to an ignominious end.
Today there is a clear desire to merge church and state as expressed by right-wing Catholic bishops and the evangelical fundamentalists including President Bush, Tom Delay, etc. And abetted by a certain ambivalence by many.
As well as opposition to this attempt as well:
While a huge majority (72 percent) affirms that a US president should have strong religious beliefs ...most are wary about involvement of religious leaders and houses of worship in partisan politics.
On the surface, this seems reasonable: why shouldn't religions be able to dictate to their followers how to vote? Why shouldn't they be able to engage in partisan electioneering to support a candidate, a party, a ballot measure, or legislation?
To see why this is a problem, let's refresh our memory: the first amendment of our constitution addresses several things in equal measure:
"Congress shall make no law
respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;
or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
Why are these rights separate? Because a democracy is founded on the ability of people to make free election choices. If one religious view is established over others, democracy ends. If people aren't allowed to publicly express their views, democracy is ended. If people can't organize and act collectively to induce change, democracy is ended.
Let us take but one example, Republican zealots have repeatedly attempted to allow religious organizations to endorse candidatesa and engage in partisan electioneering, àlà HR 235, referenced above.
Today, some Catholic bishops and evangelicals are united in their desire to pursue this direction. Today this appears as a united front of christians. But if they succeed, soon they will begin fighting with each other over which church's interpretations are the right ones.
And, as I wrote to The New York Times:
Political speech is the most fundamental free speech. As churches become political machines, are they prepared for the implications that services are now political events? Are ministers and worshipers ready for the excersize by others of their own free-speech rights? Do worshipers really want to have to push their way through a gauntlet of protesters? How long will it be before evangelicals are protesting at mosques, Catholics against Unitarians? Will churches be available to those who disagree with them?
Our constitution separates religion from state and from speech so that each can have its protected domain of influence in our lives. If we merge them, we will open a Pandora's Box of intolerance.
Well, perhaps some of these people haven't forgotten, but like Bush they never learned.
However, John Kerry knows the formative lessons of this nation and will maintain our constitution, not run roughshod over it.
For those who wondered where my post-debate missive was, sorry I couldn't get to it sooner. Wow! We are down the short strokes here, aren't we?
I must say, though they always seemed to boost Kerry a bit more, I'm glad they are over for my own well-being: I would get so keyed up and nervous, and as much as I knew it was unrealistic, couldn't help wanting Kerry to deliver a "knock-out" punch and have it be smooth sailing for the last few weeks! Through that lens, it was hard to give Kerry full credit sometimes.
Kerry continued to show his presidential qualities. Bush put on a new face and he significantly improved his presentation, even as he lied directly on camera to the public about Kerry (the "global test"), his intentions with respect to the courts (no "litmus" while packing 'em with right wing idealogues) and the separation of church and state (which he plans to bring together with things like letting churches participate in partisan politics). For debate #3 I was at 3rd Street Pizza in McMinnville in the theater and I actually burst out "Liar" at one of Bush's most egregious lies.
Some highlights of the Democracy Corps Debate #3 polling:
• On strong convictions, Kerry rose 6 points to 63 percent.
• On honest and trustworthy, up 6 points to 57 percent.
• On gives me confidence, up 5 points to 52 percent.
• On likeable, up 5 points to 62 percent.
• On having clear plans, Kerry gained 6 points in comparison to Bush and ended up ahead (45 to 42 percent).
Bush attacks on Kerry missed their mark. In fact, worries about Kerry on flip flops, weakness on defense, being too liberal, and on taxes all went down after the debate. The personal attributes moved more than issues, but even here, among independents, Kerry was more trusted than Bush on the economy by 16 points (54 to 38 percent) and on health care by 20 (54 to 34 percent).
When the chips get down, the Republicans get mean, nasty and cheat as we see with massive, system-wide voter disenfranchisment efforts, even here in Oregon, where Republican voter registrars threw away those marked for Democrat. And of course the many stories of Republican secretaries of state trying to find ways to keep registrations down. The forces of good are better mobilized this time, see for example progress on the Ohio skirmish on provisional ballots.
Voter registration fraud can't happen in Oregon?
Examples are legion, here are some recent ones.
The election is too close to call from the polls, but also because of the huge variables of new voter registration and GOTV (Get Out The Vote) efforts which don't factor into the polling. Here are some interesting tidbits on these two factors (emphasis mine)
Registering a Hit
Terence Samuel, The American Prospect
"George W. Bush got to be president on the strength of 537 votes in Florida. This week, Florida officials are reporting that there will be at least 600,000 people on the voter rolls that weren’t there in 2000. Just the magnitude of the increase makes it impossible to figure out what’s going on in Florida, using the old models."
".... In Pennsylvania, a state that John Kerry must win [Rasmussen today showed Kerry opening a 4 point lead in their 3-day tracking poll] if he wants to be president, fewer than 5 million people voted in 2000. There are now predictions that registration will jump to close to 8 million in the Keystone State, and it’s the same story all across the country, as new voters have lined up, many of them close to the deadline, to register to vote.
In Philadelphia, it has meant mandatory overtime at the city’s voter-registration office. That’s good news for Kerry, because Philadelphia is where Bush lost Pennsylvania in 2000 to Al Gore by 205,000 votes. What’s more, Bush lost Philadelphia County by more than 348,000 votes, so registration increases in Philadelphia can only be hurting him. Democrats were registering at a rate nine times higher than Republicans."
Frederick L. Voigt, executive director of the Committee of Seventy, an electoral watchdog in Philadelphia, told The Philadelphia Inquirer: "If you simply do registrations without a plan for bringing them out, you've only done half your work. The proof will be in the pudding with what kind of turnout there is on Election Day."
Which brings me to ACT (America Coming Together):
"You've heard us say for months that ACT is building "the largest voter mobilization effort in history" but we've kept quiet on the details... until now."
"....Thanks to a recent test here in Wisconsin, we have a preview of what's to come:"
Last month, during the Wisconsin congressional primary (September 18th), ACT-WI targeted 70,000 households in a base Democratic areas near Milwaukee. 800 ACT staff and volunteers canvassed the area intensively for 36 hours, knocking on the door of each Democratic household twice.
The result? Unprecedented turnout in a Wisconsin Congressional Primary! For only the second time in Milwaukee's history, African American turnout exceeded white turnout.
There's no secret here. We're encouraging people to think about the issues and exercise their right to vote. This is how we'll defeat George W. Bush and elect Democratic leadership in federal, state and local elections here in Wisconsin and around the country. But it can't be done without your support.
Please help fund ACT's Election Day operations today.
Not convinced yet? Here's what ACT needs to be funded, now:
"In the last 3 weeks leading up to Nov. 2, ACT will ...
On Election Day, ACT will…
We now have 86 offices open every day and a staff of 4000. We have the goal of reinforcing the army of 45,000 paid canvassers with 25,000 volunteers. This is where we need your help."
Please help fund ACT's Election Day operations today.
Well, given the above, watching the polls closely isn't likely to provide much insight to the likely outcome. However, stepping back from the "horse race" polls, some perspective is interesting:
10/08/2004 Democracy Corps, from pre debate #3:
"A majority of 52 percent want big change, but Kerry is at 49 percent. In fact, 6 percent of the electorate is comprised of Bush voters who do not want to continue in his direction. As a result there are important opportunities, with women in particular, but also with seniors and other groups"
"Kerry gets significantly better marks on virtually all domestic issues."
And from a very in-depth discussion in American Prospect, these excerpts:
Public Opinion Watch - October 13, 2004 by Ruy Teixeira, American Prospect
"The debates have allowed Kerry/Edwards to refocus the campaign around Bush's record and Kerry's alternatives, thereby taking advantage of the weaknesses Bush never managed to fix in August-September. This was particularly true of the first debate where Kerry's strong performance put Bush on the defensive in what was supposed to be his area of strength: foreign policy."
"....voters have received a lot of direct, unmediated exposure to John Kerry and his ideas that has been nothing but helpful to his candidacy, leading more voters to conclude that he is an acceptable alternative to a poorly performing incumbent."
"The task for Kerry seems clear as he heads into the third debate and the final weeks of the campaign: Keep the heat on Bush's terrible record and keep telling voters—in the simplest possible terms—how he would do a better job. The voters, it would seem, are starting to listen."
As well as this overview of Kerry's strengths on domestic issues:
The Race Right Now by John Nichols, The Nation
"Beneath the top line numbers that show Kerry and Bush essentially tied, there are powerful trends at work. They tend generally to favor the Democrat, although he still faces serious challenges heading toward November 2. Kerry's personal and issue-by-issue approval ratings have risen dramatically since the first debate. According to the CNN/USA TODAY/Gallup Poll released 10/12, Americans surveyed now say Kerry would do a better job than Bush on virtually every major domestic issue: protecting the environment (29 point advantage), improving access to health care (19 point advantage), preserving Medicare (15 point advantage), eliminating deficits (13 point advantage), preserving Social Security (9 point advantage), aiding education (7 point advantage), shoring up the economy (4 point advantage), maintaining a woman's right to choose (4 point advantage) and promoting stem cell research (20 point advantage). Only on the question of taxes did Bush have an advantage, with those surveyed favoring the president by a 51-44 margin."
Final Count-down -- less than four weeks to election day.
The most important thing: not waking up on November 3rd, wishing you'd done more. I know several people who took that as their mantra in either November 2000 or November 2002. I hope no one is left to adopt that on November 2004.
So, what's left to do?
(1) Influencing "the persuadables" -- swing voters and inconsistently voting democrats and then getting out the vote
(2) Making sure the votes count. I've joined A.N. in volunteering to travel to a high-risk state and will leave home Oct 31, will get training Nov. 1 and monitor the election in New Mexico on Nov. 2. Please sign up and make your travel plans with the nonpartisan Election Protection group!
(3) Giving more $$ to ensure No on 37, ACT, Wu, Kery and other Democrats have all the resources they can use. Especially true of Kerry's GELAC and recount accounts:
"Right now [the Kerry campaign needs] all of you to join me and make a pledge: the mistakes of the 2000 election will NEVER be repeated again. The day after the election, as the recount began, Al Gore's campaign was already outgunned, outmanned, and outmatched -- we learned one lesson: be prepared. With the race so close in so many states, we need to be prepared for any possibility -- and that means being ready for any recounts."
"The Federal Election Commission has just granted our request to raise funds now to cover recount expenses. Your contribution to Kerry-Edwards 2004 GELAC (General Election Legal and Accounting Compliance fund) will provide the resources to make sure we are prepared to win any post Election Day battles."
"Make a contribution to our GELAC fund today:"
Wow, the mainstream editorials and NYT analysis of Iraq nuclear danger claims and and this week's strong endorsements of Kerry keep pouring in. Is that Bush house of cards tumbling?
President Eisenhower's Son endorses Kerry
John Frohnmeyer (Oregon)
180 former United States Ambassadors endorse Kerry
Sen. John McCain aide quits and endorses Kerry
Scientists and Engineers for Change endorse Kerry
Bush's hometown paper, the Crawford Iconoclast endorses Kerry.
Other items covered below:
I watched with quite a few folks and after some early nail biting, it was clear Kerry was in command, comfortable in himself and his positions, not defensive, clear in his positions, came across with sincerity.
Though no “KO”, it was “a clean win for Kerry” (ABC News): he did what was particularly needed: John Kerry showed he is a credible alternative for independents and for moderate and conservative Republicans uncomfortable with Bush's Iraq performance, fiscal calamity and social fundametalism. Kerry is fit to command the armed forces and to govern America.
Good job, John Kerry!
Here was the ABC News take around midnight:
Among a random sample of 531 registered voters who watched the debate,
It was a clean win for Kerry: Independents by a 20-point margin said he prevailed....
CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll (which has been oversamplying Republicans):
Regardless of which candidate you happen to support, who do you think did the better job in the debate: John Kerry or George W. Bush?
How has your opinion of John Kerry been affected by the debate? Is your opinion of Kerry more favorable, less favorable, or has it not changed much?
How has your opinion of George W. Bush been affected by the debate? Is your opinion of Bush more favorable, less favorable, or has it not changed much?
Expressed himself more clearly
In the debate tonight, overall, do you think John Kerry’s criticism of George W. Bush was fair or unfair?