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John Kerry’s Speech at Boston’s Faneuil Hall: “A Right and Responsibility to Speak Out”

by Pamela Leavey

In a very short time, today, on 35th anniversary of John Kerry’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee testimony, 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.

UPDATE: AP News has a few quips…

Invoking bitter memories of the public tumult over the Vietnam War three decades ago, Sen. John Kerry is accusing the Bush administration of stifling dissent about its failed Iraq policies by branding critics as unpatriotic.

“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,” Kerry, D-Mass., said in remarks prepared for delivery Saturday at Boston’s Faneuil Hall.

UPDATE 2: In the news – Kerry appeals to patriotism in opposing Bush’s Iraq policies

Senator John Kerry marks the 35th anniversary of a milestone speech in his career with a shot at the Bush administration.

UPDATE 3: Boston Globe – Kerry will mount defense of Iraq war criticism, Senator’s speech to call attacks on dissenters unfair…

UPDATE 4: Related in the news today, speaking of dissent, C.I.A. Fires Senior Officer Over Leaks, and AP reports, Iraqi Lawmakers End Months of Deadlock.

For John Kerry, History Repeats Itself: “Patriotism is Truth, Today As In Vietnam”
Kerry Speaks the Truth to Power – Dissent Is Patriotic
Photos here.

NOTE: C-Span is scheduled to air the speech on Sunday at 10:00 am and 4:59 pm, est. Please check your local C-Span listings for time in your area, I am told that the times could be changing.


88 Responses to “John Kerry’s Speech at Boston’s Faneuil Hall: “A Right and Responsibility to Speak Out””

  1. Pamela

    Thank you for posting this magnificent speech. I am in awe of JK’s wisdom and strong deliverance of this important message. My heart and spirit right now are in Boston, and in a short time, I’ll be handing out more “Deadline for Iraq – Co-sponsor sign-on” flyers in honor of this historical day. God Bless John Kerry!

  2. “willful amnesia of a society” and history repeats itself….

  3. John Kerry is showing, ONCE AGAIN, that courage in the service of one’s country is not only an obligation, but a thoroughly AMERICAN trait.

  4. President Kerry, your table is waiting.

  5. This shows the mood of the country has changed. Kerry no longer has to ignore his protest days due to the post 9/11 mentality. He can now outright embrace dissent.

    During the 2004 campaign Kerry’s background may have been a negative politically. Now that Kerry can use it as a positive factor he is even a more potent adversary to Bush.

  6. Brilliant, John! He’s still got it!

  7. AP already has some on the Wires!

  8. Words of such wisdom are of a rare commodity these days. I’m in awe.

    I agree with Ron: Kerry can no longer be afraid of his past. He should embrace it and allow it to empower him, without fear.

  9. Just opened C-SPAN with Media Center in the corner of my screen hoping they added Kerry at the last minute.

    No Kerry, but at least they are covering the DNC Spring meeting. It is ironic that at the same moment Kerry is speaking as a major opponenet of the war, Howard Dean is on in a more “establishment” role heading up the meeting. (I suspect that somewhere along the way Dean may have a few anti-war comments of his own).

  10. battlebob Says: April 22nd, 2006 at 8:12 am
    “President Kerry, your table is waiting.”

    :) :) :)

  11. New poll:

    (Angus Reid Global Scan) – The outcome of the 2004 United States presidential election would be different if a new ballot took place this year, according to a poll by Bloomberg and the Los Angeles Times. 47 per cent of respondents would vote for Democrat John Kerry, while 40 per cent would support Republican George W. Bush.


  12. This is an incredible speech. Wow. Just wow.

  13. I can’t wait to see this on C-Span.
    Thanks for posting, Pamela.

  14. Beachmom

    It’s history in the making!

  15. I honestly cannot think of a man out there who is more prepared to be president of the United States, and more able to participate globally with other world leaders to ensure that all the world’s citizens get a fair shake. Not an empire builder — no wonder the republicans are so afraid of him.

  16. Not surprisingly, there are a couple of Kerry bashers at the Kos discussion. I pointed out that this is Kerry doing what he has always done by quoting this (note the date and headline):

    By Attacking Bush, Kerry Sets Himself Apart
    By James Dao

    New York Times | Politics
    Wednesday, 31 July, 2002

    WASHINGTON, July 30 — Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was cruising through a Senate hearing on arms control, charming his Democratic adversaries and deftly parrying their questions, when Senator John Kerry, a Democrat from Massachusetts, took the microphone.

    In the aggressive style he honed as a prosecutor two decades ago, Mr. Kerry unleashed a barrage of criticism against President Bush’s nuclear arms treaty with Russia, saying it “neutered” previous pacts and included a “huge contradiction.” Twice, he interrupted a clearly irritated Mr. Powell in midsentence.

    For many Democrats, the war on terrorism has made that kind of frontal assault on Bush foreign policy seem risky, if not politically suicidal. But not for Mr. Kerry. A decorated Vietnam veteran and potential presidential candidate, he has lustily attacked the administration on policies like trans-Atlantic relations, Pentagon spending, Middle East negotiations and even Mr. Bush’s greatest triumph, Afghanistan.


  17. Connie

    I can’t either!

  18. TayTay now blogging. Oh to be there,I can’t wait to see this.

    This man is the Real Deal.

  19. Are you ready for the most important question of the day?

    Great speech…
    Did he wear his lucky pink tie?

  20. “I honestly cannot think of a man out there who is more prepared to be president of the United States, and more able to participate globally with other world leaders to ensure that all the world’s citizens get a fair shake. Not an empire builder — no wonder the republicans are so afraid of him.”

    Connie – Excellent. This is the reality that those who want a “fresh face” cannot see. It takes a lot of experience to repair the diplomatic mess we are in and restore the credibility to engage other nations in the discussions that face the world.
    Not only does Kerry have over a decade on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he has a great deal of actual experience with other leaders. I doubt there are any other potential candidates who have the respect he does with leaders around the world.

    He is even stronger on domestic issues.
    He is not only prepared and willing, he is flat out the most uniquely qualifed to be #44.

  21. Battlebob

    I think he’s been wearing lucky blue ties lately!

  22. Not much info from the live bloggers. They are quoting some lines as above. Most interesting bit of news so far was:

    The biggest applause lines are coming on the issues of protecting civil rights and the great slams on the idea that patriots stay silent instead of fighting.

  23. Ron

    Thank god(dess) for advance text! 😉

  24. Senator (President) John Kerry,

    All I can say is AMEN!

    Dissent is patriotic whether we are civilian or in service. Wrong is wrong. We all need the freedom to be able to say so, and then the courage to do something about it and fix it.

    The current fraudulent administration can do neither. They are the problem! They are criminals — all of them. History will tell, but we don’t have the luxury of waiting.

  25. I was glad to hear there are people outside.

    If you haven’t been to the AP article, be sure to go and vote on it.

    Damn I wish this was live. I hope Cspan doesn’t delete the crowd reaction.

  26. No answer yet on the tie question, BB. :-)

  27. Hey Klimmer!

    Amen, Amen, Amen!

  28. Yes everyone go vote on the AP coverage – the link is at the bottom of the main thread here!

  29. The best part, in my oppinion, was how he answered those who call this “defeatism” or “pessimism”– right on about who the REAL defeatists and pessimists are!

  30. Thanks for posting the advance copy of the speech, as I do not watch television & it’s pathetic that it’ll only be shown on C-Span, not prime time.

    I read about the speech at DCP, went to KOS, then saw the link here. John Kerry will read the comments, of course.

  31. This speech reminded me why I’ve been such a passionate supporter of his for over a decade…

  32. Slugbug

    We certainly hope JK will read the comments, but’s he’s a busy man! No doubt his staff will.

  33. When is it going to be on CSPAN?

  34. NT4K

    On Sunday. Check your local listings – it’s suppsed to be 7 & 10 pm est

  35. Thank you Pamela, I was curious about that as well. I was flipping through various stations trying to find it, with no luck.

    Did anyone get to see Kerry on ABC’s “This Week”? I heard he was on it this morning.

  36. Andy

    He’s on This Week tomorrow morning. Doubleheader Kerry TV Day!

  37. Thanks, I can’t wait!

  38. Whoops! Eeegads! I thought today was Sunday! Ever since I quit drinking caffeine last week, my internal calander’s gotten screwy. Thanks for the heads up! ha ha

  39. Andy

    LOL! My calendar is always screwed up!

  40. […] IA official being dismissed for leaking information to the press. Democratic Daily has the text of John Kerry’s speech from his address today in Boston. Democratic Underground talks about […]

  41. To do list

    Email speech text and comments to family and friends.
    Include Links to JK’s ’71 testimony.
    Probably use the last name on the wall
    Lt. John Vandegeer, KIA May 15th 1975
    (OMG, Any connection to Kerry’s Deadline??)

    LTE, Denver Post
    Check other papers and on line blogs for places to comment

    Send messages to Senators and Reps
    Follow up with phone calls Monday

    Yard sign, bumper stickers about dissent

    Did I miss anything?

  42. Oh,
    Keep on referring people to “Sir, No Sir” the new documentary about the Anti War movement within the military against the VietNam War.

    It wasn’t just American citizens and veterans who were protesting.

  43. Really – “Probably use the last name on the wall
    Lt. John Vandegeer, KIA May 15th 1975
    (OMG, Any connection to Kerry’s Deadline??)”

    Maybe there is.

    BumperStickers on Dissent – I’ll put one in our Cafe Press Store tonight using a quote from JK!

  44. Ginny,

    That “Sir, No Sir” looks really amazing!

  45. We must ‘live blog’ the speech when it airs on C-Span!

  46. We were just in NYC and “Sir No Sir” was showing in the Village, with Jane Fonda there.

    Marjorie G told me they need people to promote it to be shown in local theaters, halls etc.

  47. Pamela
    I believe John Kerry himself will read the comments.

  48. KJ

    I agree liveblog when it’s on CSpan!

  49. Slugbug

    I am told he reads the Dem Daily

  50. Cross posted on Kos in response to Dick’s question about whether people will know to tune in tomorrow:

    Get those LTEs to your local papers
    Even if they don’t print the letter, they might run a story somewhere it might be seen. Ask them to cover the speech in a news article and give the local times for the C-Span broadcast.

    I am going to include the link to “A Crisis Almost Without Equal” in Editor and Publisher

    And challenge them that this is one way to act on Mitchell’s call to get the exposure and discussion in the middle of the table.

    “I don’t have a solution myself now, although all pleas for serious probes, journalistic or official, of the many alleged White House misdeeds should be heeded. But my point here is simply to start the discussion, and urge that the media, first, recognize that the crisis—or, if you want to say, impending crisis — exists, and begin to explore the ways to confront it. ”

    The link to E & P doesn’t come through in the preview, it is at the Democratic Daily:

    In his email about this, Kerry closed with a comment about being prepared, events could move quickly.

    Lets be sure they move quickly and get attention

  51. Thanks, Pamela, for the prepared text and the earlier OpEd remarks. That was Kerry at his best today and I can’t wait to see the speech on C-Span tomorrow.

  52. And email this speech to everyone you know!

  53. Europe Girl

    We’re here to spread the good Kerry word!

  54. Now here’s an interesting side light on CNN


    Justin Fox, FORTUNE editor-at-large, has an analysis on the economic situation and the future from an interview with Douglas Holtz-Eakin, chief economist of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Bush White House, three years as director of the Congressional Budget Office.

    ” It’s not that [Hotz-Eakin] is some kind of embittered apostate – he’s still conservative, still believes low tax rates are a good thing, and doesn’t have anything positive to say about the Democrats.

    What H-E did say was:

    “By the time the next president is nearing the end of a hypothetical eight-year term, the cost of Social Security and Medicare will have forced a fiscal crisis. “I don’t see any easy way to get from here to there,” he said. “Why would you want to be president in 2008? I don’t understand it.”

    Republicans are the epitome of “Too much sanity may be madness…”
    It’s an awful mess, it’s going to get worse. And why would anyone want to go in there and DO something about it?

    Because they care. It’s why we are “bleeding heart” Liberals.

  55. Hi! I’m back and went over to the Kos diary which is still going strong. It looks like Tay Tay was able to get more info out. Can’t wait to hear more details from everyone who went to the speech.

    This all feels like a teaser to that speech we’ll hopefully see tomorrow night on C-SPAN!

  56. Pics up above

  57. It was a good speech, strongly and well delivered. The audiance needs more practice on when to clap, stand, etc., but there were strong feelings in the room.

    I’d say that the only luke-warm responses were when Kerry wasn’t aggressive enough.

    Personally, I think his position is too right-wing for my tastes — but I think of free speech in terms of reverting to the 1790 Copyright act, so I guess I might not be mainstream.

  58. Just re-read the speech. Looking forward to seeing it on C-Span tomorrow.


    Jim Williams

    Can’t imagine JK came off as not agressive enough. I know his speaking style inside out. Reading this I hear him speaking. Lucky you to be there.

  59. HuffPo needs comments –

  60. As a young man John Kerry had the courage and sense of duty to volunteer for combat duty in Vietnam when other young men were rightfully confused and scared.

    When John Kerry came back home from serving in Vietnam he had the courage and the sense of obligation and duty to do what was unpopular at the time, to protest what history proved was a failed policy in Vietnam.

    Today Senator John Kerry showed the same courage and lived up to his ideals of duty and obligation as a citizen.

    Senator Kerry makes me again proud to be an American. He represents the best in us.

    To Senator Kerry: Lead and I will follow.

  61. Hi Don

    Welcome to the Democratic Daily! Senator Kerry does represent the best in us.

    We’re a Kerry crowd here, so I hope you’ll visit again.

  62. Well done senator you are credit to your state and your country.
    They can’t say JK doesn’t have guts or smarts.

    Pamela- nice to know the senator reads the dem daily.

    I hope to see the speech tomorrow and I heard the Iraqi’s all of a sudden got off their @#s and started trying to form a government. I’m sure the gop will spend this positive for bush but I think some folks in washington are afraid more americans may get behind the Kerry plan.

    however; I don’t count on the Iraqi’s actually forming anything lasting anytime soon which is why the Kerry Plan is still the way to go.

    The right to dissent is a bedrock of democracy the day you don’t have it is the day you have a dictatorship.

    Bush/Chenney/Rove and their warmonger/fearmonger regime must beheld accountable and the only way to do it is to take at least 1 house of congress so lets role. Remember no republican lites will do in 06.

  63. Why the hell didn’t he say this 2 years ago? Instead, he showed up at the Dem’s convention, saluting, saying, “John Kerry, reporting for duty.” Give me a break! This man had no spine when he needed it.

  64. John,

    I agree that Kerry went overboard on relying on his military experience, but this was understandable in the post 9/11 climate here. He needed to show voters that he could keep them safe from terrorism. That was the only issue most voted on.

    It is not as if this was the only thing he said. Kerry was also speaking out against Bush and the war. As for spine–Kerry was among the first Democrats to speak out against Bush post 9/11 when most Democrats were afraid to do so, and nobody had even heard of Howard Dean yet.

  65. I was there – no lucky pink tie- didn’t need it. The warm-up speakers, a local Baptist minister and the widow of one of his buddies from ‘Nam were terrific, too.

  66. Deuce

    I think the days of the lucky pink tie are gone. He seems to sport blue or red these days. Lucky you to be there. I would have flown out from L.A. if the airfares weren’t sky high.

  67. John Kerry is a pompous as*.

    His speech offered no solutions to the problems that this country (and the world) now face.

    Just a bunch of whining and hot air.

  68. Here we go another why didn’t he say this and that.

    He said it 2 years ago and longer that Iraq was the wrong fight.

    Jeezus, I don’t see any other dem with a plan or sticking their neck out.

    You want to criticize go after the other dems who have sat on the sidelines- leave Kerry alone.

  69. Ringo the Gringo

    Kerry already sponsored a resolution on Iraq a couple of weeks ago. The speech was not meant to be a fix all for the country. Talk about pompous, look in the mirror! You probably didn’t read or watch it, but just followed a link to drop your mess.

  70. July 29, 2002: Senator John Kerry, Speech To The 2002 DLC National Conversation, New York, NY

  71. October 9, 2002: Sen. John Kerry, Congressional Record, p. S10170-S10175

    “With respect to Saddam Hussein and the threat he presents, we must ask ourselves a simple question: Why? Why is Saddam Hussein pursuing weapons that most nations have agreed to limit or give up? Why is Saddam Hussein guilty of breaking his own cease-fire agreement with the international community? Why is Saddam Hussein attempting to develop nuclear weapons when most nations don’t even try, and responsible nations that have them attempt to limit their potential for disaster? Why did Saddam Hussein threaten and provoke? Why does he develop missiles that exceed allowable limits? Why did Saddam Hussein lie and deceive the inspection teams previously? Why did Saddam Hussein not account for all of the weapons of mass destruction which UNSCOM identified? Why is he seeking to develop unmanned airborne vehicles for delivery of biological agents?

  72. “It would be naive to the point of grave danger not to believe that, left to his own devices, Saddam Hussein will provoke, misjudge, or stumble into a future, more dangerous confrontation with the civilized world. He has as much as promised it. He has already created a stunning track record of miscalculation. He miscalculated an 8-year war with Iran. He miscalculated the invasion of Kuwait. He miscalculated America’s responses to it. He miscalculated the result of setting oil rigs on fire. He miscalculated the impact of sending Scuds into Israel. He miscalculated his own military might. He miscalculated the Arab world’s response to his plight. He miscalculated in attempting an assassination of a former President of the United States. And he is miscalculating now America’s judgments about his miscalculations.

    “All those miscalculations are compounded by the rest of history. A brutal, oppressive dictator, guilty of personally murdering and condoning murder and torture, grotesque violence against women, execution of political opponents, a war criminal who used chemical weapons against another nation and, of course, as we know, against his own people, the Kurds. He has diverted funds from the Oil-for-Food program, intended by the international community to go to his own people. He has supported and harbored terrorist groups, particularly radical Palestinian groups such as Abu Nidal, and he has given money to families of suicide murderers in Israel.”

    “In the wake of September 11, who among us can say, with any certainty, to anybody, that those weapons might not be used against our troops or against allies in the region? Who can say that this master of miscalculation will not develop a weapon of mass destruction even greater–a nuclear weapon–then reinvade Kuwait, push the Kurds out, attack Israel, any number of scenarios to try to further his ambitions to be the pan-Arab leader or simply to confront in the region, and once again miscalculate the response, to believe he is stronger because he has those weapons?” (Source: thomas.loc.gov) [full text]

  73. December 15, 2003: Fox News’ “Special Report,” Senator John Kerry said

    “Iraq may not be the war on terror itself, but it is critical to the outcome of the war on terror. And therefore any advance in Iraq is an advance forward in that. And I disagree with the Governor [Howard Dean].”

  74. “Without question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime … He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation … And now he is miscalculating America’s response to his continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction … So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real…”
    – Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Jan. 23. 2003 | Source

  75. “I will be voting to give the President of the United States the authority to use force — if necessary — to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security.”
    – Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Oct. 9, 2002 | Source

  76. “We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country.”
    – Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002 | Source

  77. “We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction.”
    – Sen. Ted Kennedy (D, MA), Sept. 27, 2002 | Source

  78. Frank,

    Cherry picking statements out of context means nothing.

    The question is not whether people thought Saddam had WMD at the time. Most did. However this was based on intelligence which Bush intentionally distorted.

    The other problem believing Saddam had WMD did not justify going to war as Bush did. The proper course was to force the inspectors back in as people like Kerry supported. Once Saddam was forced to have the inspectors back in there was no longer any need to go to war.

  79. Ron

    So nice of Frank to drop by from LGF. He missed the big party last night.

  80. If he wanted to take up so much space with quotes he could have at least fully quoted Kerry rather than taking statements out of context. It’s amazing how easy it is to give a totally different message by leaving out important parts of statements.

    Of course he probably just cut and pasted in these from some right wing source and has no idea what Kerry really said about Iraq before the war.

  81. How would I get in touch with Kerry?

    Kerry suddenly worries about bin Laden’s miniplitive ability with Muslims.

    However bombs went off in Turkey during Britain’s biggest peace march, Majority Leder Bill Fritz’s grim TV roport on additional Abu Graibe protos was cut off the air by a news flash Al Qaeda posted on the Internet of Nick Berg being beheaded. And peace organizing around the the war in Iraq had nothing to do with fighting teroroism slowed when bin Laden demanded on the Internet that they not vote.

    The White Hose Secretary’s new book states that bin Laden taunting Bush right before the last Presidential election helped Bush enormously. Will ther be a teror atack just in time for the Republicans to get a landslide vote? Mayby be bin Laden believes that a world eiher with all Muslims dead or Muslim’s in charge would be preverable to the present “humiliating” situation.

    Post this if you want, but I’d perfer articles posted that I have been unable to find a publisher for, for over a year.


  82. Richard

    Kerry’s Senate website has contact info here – http://kerry.senate.gov/v3/contact/intro.html

  83. Did they hand out pillows?

  84. Armand

    They had a special room for people just like you.

  85. Oh my, don’t you mean a rag to wipe off the drool? LMAO

  86. Go to Iraq, John

    In the past couple of weeks since John Kerry’s ‘botched joke’ moment, we’ve had various discussions here about the ‘joke’, the spin and the various interpretations and so on. Suggestions have come up from our reader…

  87. Obama Takes a Kerry-esque Stance on Iraq

    Barack Obama, who claims to be contemplating an ‘08 presidential run called for a “gradual and substantial” reduction of U.S. troops from Iraq, on Monday, that would begin within four to six months.
    Speaking to the Chicago Council …

  88. John Kerry on the “Surge”: When Resolve Turns Reckless

    In the Sunday Outlook section of the Washington Post, John Kerry writes about the case for flip-flopping in a well thought out and presented case about the much discussed concept of the “surge.” Kerry makes it clear that Bush’s polic…