'Don't you get it?'
Sept. 28: U.S. Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) blasts baseball union chief Donald Fehr over his frustration with baseball's slow action on steroids.

“I particularly single out baseball. And in baseball, I particularly single out the players,” said Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., “because they have negotiated reluctantly, if at all.”

Lawmakers looking at steroids in sports have concentrated on baseball since March 17, when Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Selig and Fehr testified before the House Government Reform Committee. Palmeiro emphatically told Congress he never used steroids; he was suspended Aug. 1 after failing a drug test.

“We’re at the end of the line,” said McCain, R-Ariz. “How many more Rafael Palmeiros is there going to be?”

Five weeks after that March hearing, Selig proposed going from a 10-day ban to 50 games for a first violation, from 30 days to 100 games for a second, and from 60 days to a lifetime ban for a third.

Fehr this week outlined an approach that would increase the first penalty to 20 games and wouldn’t mandate a lifetime ban. He stressed Wednesday the need for case-by-case examination of players who fail drug tests.

“Don’t you get it that this is an issue that’s greater than the issue of collective bargaining? Don’t you understand that this is an issue of such transcendent importance that you should have acted months ago?” McCain said, addressing Fehr. “The patience of this body ... is at an end.”

Pressed to say when there will be a new steroids agreement, Fehr said: “Can I give you a precise date? No. Do I expect to know within the reasonably near future whether that will be done? Yes. Would I expect it to be by the end of the World Series? I would certainly hope so.”

The World Series is scheduled to begin Oct. 22 and end no later than Oct. 30. Asked whether that’s a workable deadline, Selig said, “I don’t see that we have a choice.”

Selig received more criticism in past congressional appearances. But now he’s advised by former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer and has received praise for proposing changes to baseball’s drug policy. On Wednesday, he brought along former stars Ryne Sandberg, Phil Niekro, Robin Roberts, Lou Brock and Aaron.

“I want to applaud the commissioner, and I also just want to make sure that whatever we do, we make sure that we clean up baseball,” said Aaron, whose lifetime record of 755 homers is being approached by Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants.

Asked by McCain what should be done about records tainted by steroid use, Aaron said: “That’s going to be left up to the commissioner and the rules committee. They would probably have to go back and look at some of those things that happened.”

 Bonds, who has denied using steroids: “As far as Hank Aaron is concerned, if a certain player breaks his home run record, it’s not a question of an asterisk. ... There probably ought to be an ’RX’ next to it.”

Bonds wasn’t available in the clubhouse before the Giants’ game at San Diego, but his manager, Felipe Alou, defended his player.

“What is their proof?” Alou asked. “Are they testing players, too? How do you explain that? Or have they stopped testing now? We just saw him hit five in 30 at-bats. So what’s going on now? I hope that he’s judged by the real baseball people when he’s finished.”

The Senate is considering two bills that call for a two-year suspension for a first positive drug test and a lifetime ban for a second. McCain sponsored the Clean Sports Act; Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., a member of baseball’s Hall of Fame, sponsored the Professional Sports and Integrity Act. There are three similar House measures.

NBA, NFL and NHL officials raised some complaints about the bills, saying a “one size fits all” proposal isn’t fair; U.S. law couldn’t be applied to Canadian teams; and the two-year ban for a first offense is too harsh.

McCain and Bunning said they’d prefer not to legislate but warned that Congress is prepared to.

“For whatever reason, you just can’t get it done, and you can’t get your act together,” Bunning said. “I and millions of fans think that’s pathetic.”

© 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


2,000 deaths: U.S. military fatalities in Iraq hit grim milestone


By James Rosen -- Bee Washington Bureau
Published 2:15 am PDT Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Story appeared on Page A1 of The Bee

WASHINGTON - As the U.S. military death toll in Iraq reached 2,000, President Bush told a large gathering of officers' wives Tuesday that more sacrifice will be needed to defeat a determined but evil enemy.

Calling Iraq "the central front in our war on terror," Bush vowed, "We will not rest or tire until the war on terror is won."

He spoke just hours before the Pentagon announced that Staff Sgt. George T. Alexander Jr. of Killeen, Texas, died Saturday at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio of wounds he received last week when a car bomb exploded near his vehicle in the central Iraq city of Samarra, bringing the total to 2,000.

Despite the mounting death toll and growing public dissatisfaction with the war, Bush told the group at Bolling Air Force Base that the United States will continue helping Iraq's military and political systems until they can operate independently.

"This war will require more sacrifice, more time, and more resolve," he said. No one should underestimate the difficulties ahead. Nor should they overlook the advantages we bring to this fight."

Bush did not specifically cite the 2,000th death, but his voice cracked as he acknowledged those who have died in the war. "Each loss of life is heartbreaking," he said.

"The best way to honor the sacrifice of our fallen troops is to complete the mission and lay the foundation of peace by spreading freedom," Bush said.

Some Democratic lawmakers and anti-war activists used the emotionally symbolic marker to ramp up their criticism of Bush.

Prominent Republican senators said they are saddened by all soldiers' deaths but called the grim milestone an artificial distinction that blurs democratic progress in Iraq.

Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy on Tuesday called on Bush to begin bringing U.S. troops home as early as year's end from the "costly disaster" of the Iraq war.

Leahy opposed the war from the start but said he had hoped that the effort would be successful.

"Instead," he said in a scathing speech on the Senate floor, "it has turned Iraq into a training ground for terrorists. It is fueling the insurgency. It is causing severe damage to the reputation and readiness of the U.S. military, and it is preventing us from addressing the inexcusable weaknesses in our homeland security."

Howard Dean, Democratic Party chairman and a 2004 presidential candidate, accused Bush of ignoring an important milestone.

"Sadly, in delivering yet another speech about the war in Iraq that lacked a clear plan for victory, President Bush failed to mention the tragic milestone we mark today," Dean said. "This is not the kind of leadership that the brave men and women serving in Iraq and their loved ones here at home expect or deserve from the commander in chief."

When the 1,000th American died in Iraq in September of last year, Bush stood less than two months from re-election. The 2,000th death comes at a time when polls show that support for the war is eroding, as well as for the president who is so closely associated with it.

"It's a very sobering hallmark," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. "It indicates that we need to rethink where we are in Iraq."

Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, a former Vietnam prisoner of war who challenged Bush for the 2000 Republican presidential nomination but campaigned for his re-election last year, indicated that he still supports Bush on the war.

"I think all Americans will grieve," McCain said. "Opponents of the war will seize this moment to attack our policy in Iraq. They're already doing that, we know that. But it will not affect my view, except the sorrow and regret that I feel at the loss of American lives."

Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican from Bush's native Texas, dismissed the 2,000-death toll as a phony milestone.

"It's an artificial landmark," Cornyn said. "It's an artificial number that some are using to undermine support for our effort there, and these are people without any constructive alternative. Is cutting and running what we're supposed to do? I don't think so because it would create more of a haven for terrorists and create a greater danger for us there."

Fifty-three percent of Americans believe that it was wrong to take military action against Iraq, according to a new poll by Harris Interactive. A larger share, 66 percent, disapproves of Bush's handling of the war., an anti-war group, unveiled a new TV ad to air this week on CNN. In the ad, the camera slowly pulls back to reveal a coffin as a narrator ticks off the names and ranks of soldiers who died in Iraq.

Cindy Sheehan of Vacaville, whose son Casey perished in Iraq last year, said she and other anti-war protesters will lie down in front of the White House every day this week at 6 p.m. to symbolize the fallen troops.

Each protester planned to wear a wrist bracelet with the name of a slain soldier.

"Two thousand families have been destroyed for nothing," Sheehan said. "Enough is enough. The killing has to stop sometime."

Sheehan became known last summer when she camped outside Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas.

Bush didn't refer directly to her or other anti-war activists. But he accused them of "a self-defeating pessimism" that he said is "not justified."

Comparing U.S. wars

Deaths in previous U.S. wars:

War of 1812
Mexican War
Civil War
World War I
World War II
Korean War
Vietnam War
Persian Gulf War
Source: World Almanac; Book of Facts, 2000


This autumn, fiscal conservatives are coming out of the GOP woodwork

Oct 27, 2005
by Tim Chapman ( bio | archive | contact )

Once thought to be the party of fiscal discipline, the Republican Party has presided over an astronomical growth in government in recent years. Federal spending has reached $22,000 dollars per household; the federal deficit is projected to top $500 billion by 2008; and since 2001, the federal government has increased in size – measured by spending – by 33 percent.

This is hardly Reagan Republicanism.

While the situation may seem dire, there are positive signs that some GOP lawmakers are determined to return the party to one of its core principles: fiscal discipline.

The House of Representatives is currently considering a beefed-up budget resolution that would save $50 billion. The $50 billion figure is $15 billion higher than the original budget resolution, which was augmented thanks to persistent political pressure applied by fiscally conservative backbenchers. The conservatives, led by Mike Pence (R-IN), succeeded in persuading House leadership to embrace portions of their savings package that has come to be known as “Operation Offset.”

Question: How important was all of this? 

The week the savings package was announced House leadership scoffed and then-Majority Leader Tom DeLay declared an “ongoing victory” in the war on spending.

Today, Roy Blunt (R-MO) is Majority Leader, and my how things have changed.

Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) has adopted many of the recommendations in “Operation Offset” as his own by proposing a four point plan to curb federal spending.

Indeed, backbenchers won the day. The result is a union between leadership and conservatives that may succeed in the always painful task of paring back the seemingly ever-expanding reach of the federal government.

Speaking to a group of conservative bloggers, Mike Pence said that he is convinced that "under the leadership of Speaker Hastert we will be successful in cutting spending." But Pence cautioned that "challenging days lay ahead." Nevertheless, he sees unity within the Republican Party.

Not only have Pence and company moved the ball forward on the spending issue in the House, they may have provided the inspiration for a new initiative in the Senate.

The Senate’s “Operation Offset”

On Tuesday, seven senators called a press conference to draw their own line in the sand. Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK), Jim DeMint (R-SC), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John Sununu (R-NH),  John McCain (R-AZ), Sam Brownback (R-KS) and John Ensign (R-NV) have dubbed themselves the Senate Fiscal Watch Team (SFWT).

After meeting quietly for months, the “team” is now determined to use their combined clout to inch the Senate toward fiscal responsibility.

As such, the group announced a Senate version of “Operation Offset” that would provide up to $120 billion in potential savings to help offset the cost of hurricane Katrina reconstruction. “All of us feel the people in the Gulf Coast deserve help,” said Sen. Ensign. “We want to combine that compassion with responsibility…we do not want to hand this debt off to our children.”

Among other things, the Senate package calls for across the board spending cuts of 5 percent (excluding defense and homeland security spending), but more boldly, goes after two sacred cows: the new Medicare prescription drug package and members’ pork projects in the recently passed Transportation Bill.

The proposal to delay the implementation of the Medicare prescription drug bill would save up to $9 billion, while stripping the Highway Bill of all its pork projects would save an additional $9 billion.

Noting the hundreds of billions of dollars in projected cost for the new drug benefit, Coburn said, “What we ought to be about doing is offering service to those who need our help, but in this time of fiscal crisis [we should be] delaying something that would add fiscal cost to our children or grandchildren.” Coburn added that this is the way “we can keep our obligations to those who are most dependent.”

While this approach will surely prove unpopular in a Congress where pork projects and new entitlement programs are seen as a ticket to reelection, fiscally conservative members seem to think it is politically palatable. In Tuesday’s press conference, McCain  said he was “totally confident that the Republican base is upset and angry about fiscal discipline practiced here in the Congress and the mortgaging of our children and our grandchildren’s futures.”

McCain Challenges GOP on Spending 

Later in the week McCain addressed conservatives at The Heritage Foundation on the same issue. In his speech, he cautioned that “Congress would not change unless the American people demand it.” McCain suggested that the American people would be sympathetic to the cause of fiscal discipline if only the message got out more. “We need to force some votes,” he said.

Getting the message out will be challenging. Democrats have done everything they can to paint conservatives’ efforts to cut spending as mean-spirited and stingy. The Washington Post reported this week that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) “convened a roundtable of Katrina survivors, who pleaded with lawmakers to set the budget cuts aside, then lobbied moderate Republicans personally.”

The New York Times piled on by calling the savings plan “appalling.”

Reid himself called the proposed cuts “immoral.”

When asked what he thought about Reid’s charge, McCain responded, “Harry, what is your proposal?”

Tim Chapman is the National Political Writer and Senior Congressional Liaison for

He also hosts Townhall's Capitol Report

McCain Targets Tribal Casinos
Oct 27, 2005

 Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, told tribal leaders Monday in Portland that he intends to proceed with legislation putting new restrictions on tribal casinos.

McCain said he wants to keep tribes from building new off-reservation casinos that ratchet up gambling in urban areas. He said he does not yet know how he would deal with current off-reservation proposals, including one for Cascade Locks.

If Congress doesn't take action, "you get into a situation of, where does it stop?" McCain said in an interview with The Oregonian. "Soon every Indian tribe is going to have a casino in downtown, metropolitan areas. . . . I do think it's not a healthy thing to do."

McCain, who is pondering running for president again in 2008, visited Portland on Monday to meet with tribal leaders, appear at a $2,000-a-person fundraiser for Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., and speak at an Oregon Business Association dinner.

The senator delivered what sounded like the rough draft of a presidential stump speech as he decried wasteful federal spending, urged immigration reform and pleaded with Congress to work in a bipartisan fashion.

McCain said Congress needed to eliminate questionable public works projects and focus on such issues as the looming shortfall in Social Security. He called for more controls at the border with Mexico and said the United States needed programs allowing guest workers and enabling illegal immigrants to gradually become citizens.

In addition, he said that if the United States were to withdraw from Iraq, the country would "become a hotbed of extremism and terrorism, which will then become exported to the United States."

Leaders from several of the nine Oregon tribes who met with McCain at Portland State University's native affairs center said they opposed any changes in the 1988 law that regulates Indian gambling.

"Perhaps it is safer for the tribes . . . to keep it as it is," said Sue Shaffer, chairwoman of the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Indians, which runs the Seven Feathers Casino in Canyonville.

When Bill Clinton modernized the Democratic Party in the '90s, he, too, had Republicans on the ropes. In the space of two years, by winning the government shutdown, signing welfare reform, and balancing the federal budget on Democratic terms, Clinton rendered traditional conservatism irrelevant and laid the groundwork for a new progressive era.

In response, the Republican Party  had to modernize, or at least pretend to. John McCain offered one path with "national greatness" conservatism. Bush and the Republican establishment chose another path with compassionate conservatism. In office, however, modernism lost out to Rovism—enough for Bush to win re-election, but in a way that leaves Republicans a few indictments and one smart opponent away from returning to irrelevance.

In 2008, Republicans will face this choice again. McCain will run as the modernizer once again promising a new conservatism based on old ideals of responsibility, strength, and national greatness. Social conservatives like Sam Brownback will vie to be the candidate of traditional values.

The Republican establishment and the two logical heirs to Rovism, Bill Frist and George Allen, will have to decide if Bush-Rove conservatism is still worth anything—or whether, like Frist's HCA stock, it needs to be dumped before it falls even further.



Give Freedom Medal to Wilkerson, Scowcroft

AFTER W. was elected, he sometimes gave visitors a tour of the love alcove off the Oval Office where Bill trysted with Monica - the notorious spot where his predecessor had dishonored the White House.

At least it was only a little pantry - and a little panting.

If W. wants to show people now where the White House has been dishonored in far more astounding and deadly ways, he'll have to haul them around every nook and cranny of his vice president's office, then go across the river for a walk of shame through the Rummy empire at the Pentagon.

The shocking thing about the trellis of revelations showing Dick Cheney, the self-styled Mr. Strong America, as the central figure in dark conspiracies to juice up a case for war and demonize those who tried to tell the public the truth is how unshocking it all is.

It's exactly what we thought was going on, but we never thought we'd actually hear the lurid details: Cheney and Rummy, the two old compadres from the Nixon and Ford days, in a cabal running the country and the world into the ground, driven by their poisonous obsession with Iraq, while Junior is out of the loop, playing in the gym or on his mountain bike.

Cheney has been so well protected by his Praetorian guard all these years that it's been hard for the public to see his dastardly deeds and petty schemes. But now, because of Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation and candid talk from Brent Scowcroft and Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, he's been flushed out as the heart of darkness: All sulfurous strands lead back to the man W. aptly nicknamed Vice.

According to a New York Times story Tuesday, Scooter Libby first learned about Joseph Wilson's CIA wife from his boss, Cheney, not from reporters, as he'd originally suggested. And Cheney learned it from George Tenet, according to Libby's notes.

The Bushies presented themselves as the protectors and exporters of American values. But they were so feverish about projecting the alternate reality they had constructed to link Saddam and al-Qaida - and fulfill their id e fixe about invading Iraq - that they perverted American values.

Whether or not it turns out to be illegal, outing a CIA agent - undercover or not - simply to undermine her husband's story is Rove-ishly sleazy. This no-leak administration was perfectly willing to leak to hurt anyone who got in its way.

Vice also pressed for a loophole so the CIA could do torture-light on prisoners in U.S. custody, but John McCain rebuffed His Tortureness. McCain has sponsored a measure to bar the cruel treatment of prisoners, because he knows that this is not who we are. (Remember the days in Washington when the only torture was listening to politicians reciting their best TV lines at parties?)

Wilkerson, the former chief of staff for Colin Powell, broke the code and denounced Vice's vortex, calling his own involvement in Powell's U.N. speech, infected with bogus Cheney and Scooter malarkey, "the lowest point" in his life.

He followed that with a blast of blunt talk in a speech and op-ed piece in The Los Angeles Times, saying that foreign policy had been hijacked by "a secretive, little-known cabal" that hated dissent. He said the cabal was headed by Cheney, "a vice president who speaks only to Rush Limbaugh and assembled military forces," and Donald Rumsfeld, "a secretary of defense presiding over the death by a thousand cuts of our overstretched armed forces."

"I believe that the decisions of this cabal were sometimes made with the full and witting support of the president and sometimes with something less," Wilkerson wrote. "More often than not, then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice was simply steamrolled by this cabal."

Scowcroft, Bush Senior's close friend, also let out a shriek last week to Jeffrey Goldberg in The New Yorker, revealing his estrangement from W. and his old protege Condi.

He disdained Paul Wolfowitz as a naive utopian and said he didn't "know" his old friend Dick Cheney anymore. Vice's alliance with the neocons, who were bound and determined to finish in Iraq what Scowcroft and Poppy had declared finished, led him to lead the country into a morass, with troop deaths at 2,000 by some counts.

"The reason I part with the neocons is that I don't think in any reasonable time frame the objective of democratizing the Middle East can be successful," Scowcroft said. "If you can do it, fine, but I don't think you can, and in the process of trying to do it you can make the Middle East a lot worse."

W. should take the Medal of Freedom away from Tenet and give medals to Wilkerson and Scowcroft.

Readers may write to Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist in care of New York Times News Service, 229 W. 43rd St., New York, NY 10036.

November 11, 2005 Edition > Section: 

Romney and McCain Draw Large Crowds

By BRIAN MCGUIRE - Staff Reporter of the Sun
November 11, 2005

WASHINGTON - As President Bush struggles with his lowest-ever approval ratings and the national Republican Party reels from two gubernatorial defeats and an increasing sense of unease among voters over its foreign and domestic policy goals, two potential Republican presidential candidates tested themes apparently aimed at distancing themselves not only from their party's current woes but from the growing Republican pack.

In two speeches that were delivered within an hour of each other on the same city block yesterday, Governor Romney, of Massachusetts, and Senator McCain, of Arizona, drew overflow crowds for messages that focused, in one case, on social issues and, in the other, on a new strategy in Iraq. The speeches seemed to assure that social issues and the war would be persistent themes in two straight presidential elections and, coming on the same day that Senator Clinton delivered a keynote address at the American Bar Association's annual meeting nearby, that attention here has shifted toward the 2008 presidential race.


November 10, 2005

U.S. Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., discusses the recent bombings in Jordan, winning the Iraq war, and U.S. prisoner abuse policy

JIM LEHRER: Now to our Newsmaker interview with Sen. John McCain, Republican of Arizona. He gave a speech in Washington this morning on how the United States can and should win the war in Iraq. He also has been in the forefront of Senate efforts to bar cruel and inhumane treatment of prisoners by U.S. military and intelligence forces.

Senator, welcome.

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Thank you, Jim.

The Jordan bombing

JIM LEHRER: First on the bombings in Jordan, do you see a connection between those bombings and similar attacks elsewhere and our invasion and our occupation of Iraq?

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: I think there's probably some connection, and may -- perhaps some of those people came out of Iraq or in the case of Zarqawi, they were native Jordanians, but I would remind you that there were other attempts and other attacks in Jordan long before we invaded Iraq. So there's many who are saying it is because of our invasion of Iraq. Bin Laden and al-Qaida and others had been bent on harming Jordan or destroying it long before we invaded Iraq.

JIM LEHRER: But, you know, a lot of people are saying, Senator, that the invasion and occupation has created more terrorists it's destroyed. You don't buy that?

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: No, I don't, I don't buy that. I think that the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan destroyed a lot of terrorists. Are we doing as well as we want to be and should be in Iraq? No. And is there a certain magnet provided by the conflict there for foreign fighters? Sure there is. But I can't say that it's because of Iraq that things have gotten worse.

Getting things right in Iraq

JIM LEHRER: In your speech today you said "We must get Iraq right." What exactly do you mean?

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: I think we need to take several steps in order to do a better job of winning the conflict. And we also need to inform the American people in a more effective fashion as to what's at stake and what the benefits of success are and what the consequences of failure.

JIM LEHRER: Let's go to what's happening on the ground. You are suggesting what we are doing now is not right, correct?

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Well, I am saying it could certainly be improved. We have a strategy now where we basically go into an area and kill insurgents and leave, and then the insurgents come back in. There are some places that we have been to three and four times and all we've done, basically, is kill some insurgents.

We need to adopt a theory which has been espoused by others as well as me and that's the oil spot, where you go into a place; you secure it, and then you build up the security forces -- a combination in the beginning of U.S. and Iraqi -- and establishing normal environments so people can live in safety and relatively secure from insurgent attacks and then that you gradually expand that area to the point where they can now proceed with reconstruction and public works projects without having to spend all your money on security and having them blown up all the time.

And that is something that may require in the short term more of certain kinds of troops. But we can't just keep going in to Al Anbar and other places and killing people and leaving them and having them coming back in.

Finally, there was a Marine general quoted in the Wall Street Journal not too long ago who was up on the Syrian border, he said I felt like a little Dutch boy putting my finger in the dike. We just didn't have enough troops.

JIM LEHRER: Now, so you think more should be sent, more U.S. troops should be sent there now?

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Yes. But it's not so much the numbers of troops as it is quality of troops, people with the kind of specialties in special operations, in civil affairs and other, interpreters, people that have the language that we need more of.

And we also need to expand the size of the army and I have said it for many years, in order to relieve this enormous strain that's now being placed on the guard and reserves.

JIM LEHRER: Senator, you're a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee; you have access to all kinds of information, directly from the leaders, leadership of the Defense Department, among others. What is it that you feel they don't get about this whole thing?

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Well, I don't think that they, that the secretary of defense got the fact that we couldn't allow looting from the beginning, that we didn't have enough troops to secure the many areas of Iraq right after the initial successes of gross underestimation of the size and magnitude of the challenge that we faced in Iraq with the insurgents both local and foreign. And I think that we have not had sufficient troops to carry out the mission. So there's a lot of things that they didn't get.

But I would like to quickly add, Jim, mistakes are made in conflicts. Mistakes are made in war. The key to it is to fix them.

JIM LEHRER: You said several weeks ago you no longer had confidence in Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. Has anything happened to change that?

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: No. But I am not in any way attempting to confront or conflict with Secretary Rumsfeld because as long as he enjoys the confidence of the president, he will be there, and I need to work with him and the other people in the Pentagon to try to help when this conflict that is so important. I think it's more important than the Vietnam conflict.

JIM LEHRER: More important than Vietnam. In what way?

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Well, when we left Vietnam and came home and Ho Chi Minh or his followers didn't come after us.

I think if we lose here, you're going to see a factionalization of Iraq and the kind of training and place where Muslim extremism flourishes. And I think if you look at bin Laden's statements and Zarqawi's and others that they will be coming after us.

JIM LEHRER: You know as well as anyone what the opinion polls show about the American people's feelings about the whole Iraq enterprise at this point. They are down on it, and they are losing support for it. What's the cause of that? Why don't they get it, what you just said?

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: I think there are several reasons. One, of course, is heightened expectations and continued predictions of good news, thing were going to get better after they voted the first time, things were going to get better after they captured Saddam, things were going to get better, instead of giving a more hardened and realistic viewpoint and outlook say, look, it's going to be long, tough, very difficult, but explaining why we can win.

So I think dashed expectations are one, and two are American casualties which are almost one in the same. When they see the crawl across the bottom line of their television screen of people dying, and I'm sure that there's someone watching say, well, we lost 58,000 in the Vietnam War, it is just not the same. It's just not the same. So that's eroded it.

And also in the minds of many Americans there's no clear cut design for a victory/withdrawal. And I said emphatically today, if you withdraw before you have a secure environment, that's a recipe for disaster.

JIM LEHRER: But I also hear you saying that you understand why a majority of the American people do not support the war right now?

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: I can say that, yes. And I would quickly add that we've got to do a better job of communicating why we're there and what's at stake, and we've got to show some progress.

And what I mean by that is trained, equipped and capable Iraqi military and police who can take over responsibilities from our troops first as a supplement and then later on as a replacement for U.S. forces.

JIM LEHRER: Just speaking for yourself, Senator, sitting tonight, do you believe that the costs thus so far in lives and in money and in prestige and love and devotion around the world, in other words our image around the world has been worth this going into Iraq?

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: If we can repair our image as far as abuse of prisoners is concerned, which I think has been a huge setback, yes. And I think we can by a clear cut declaration that we will not practice cruelty or inhumane treatment.

But I also think that Saddam Hussein had used and acquired weapons of mass destruction, the sanctions were not going to hold. We had tremendous corruption, as we know in this oil-for-food program, and that if he were still in power, he would be attempting to acquire and use weapons of mass destruction.

So I do believe, and if we can succeed, we are going to have democracy in the neighborhood, and it's going to have a hugely beneficial effect on the rest of the nations in the region.

JIM LEHRER: So you have no second thoughts at all about the wisdom of going to war?

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: I have second thoughts every time I hear of a brave young soldier of ours from Arizona who gives his or her life -- every single time.

U.S. prisoner abuse policy

JIM LEHRER: Speaking of prisoner -- handling prisoners, where do things stand? This amendment that you are trying to get enacted into law -- bring us up to date. Where are things right now?

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Well, I have been in conversations with the White House. And we're trying to strike some agreement here. I cannot agree to any exemption.

The Israeli Supreme Court in 1999 declared that Israeli troops couldn't practice that cruel and inhumane treatment or torture, and they don't. And if there's any country in the world that needs to react quickly to terrorist attacks, it is Israel. They, they are successful by using psychological methods.

If we say that there's an exemption and we can allow the CIA to do something that our military can't in treatment of prisoners, the next war we are in, the next time they capture a pilot, he is going to be turned over to the secret police.

JIM LEHRER: As a simple fact, do you know whether or not the CIA even wants this exemption?

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: I have been told by many sources that -- within the CIA that they do not. But I have not yet seen the director come out publicly and given the way this town works, I can understand that.

JIM LEHRER: Okay. Sen. Bond was on this program earlier this week and he was one of the nine who voted against your amendment and he said one of the reasons is that what he is talking about or what the CIA sometime uses as interrogation techniques are no worse than what a U.S. Army or U.S. Marine recruit goes through, through boot camp. What do you say to him?

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: I have the highest respect and friendship for Sen. Bond, who, by the way, has a brave young son who's fighting in Iraq.

JIM LEHRER: He's a Marine officer?

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Yes, he is. He is a wonderful young man who would wish that I hadn't mentioned him, by the way.

Some of these techniques that are used are just beyond that comparison. Its published reports have been about water boarding where someone believes that they are drowning.

If you ask someone who has been in this situation whether they take a beating or believe that they are being executed, they will take a beating every time.

That's a very, very, very severe kind of treatment that is not approved anywhere in the world.

JIM LEHRER: Your conversations with the White House, Senator, have you made a deal? Have you got something here?

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: No. But we are working on it. I have known Dick Cheney for 25 years; I believe he loves his country as much as I do. We have a very strong difference of opinion here, and we need to get it revolved.

But I would also say the underlining reason we need to get it resolved -- American image in the world concerning treatment of prisoners is very bad. And we need to fix that.

JIM LEHRER: Have you talked to him one-on-one about this, or is this through --


JIM LEHRER: -- oh, you have talked to him one-on-one.


JIM LEHRER: Is he as adamant on his side as you are on yours?

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: You know, I don't like to discuss conversations that I have with the vice president. But his position on this issue is very well-known and according to published reports.

JIM LEHRER: What about the president? Do you have the impression that the president will veto this if you somehow get this attached to a piece of legislation?

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Well, it's been a threat not directly from the president but from the White House. I really believe that we can and should work this out.

But I want to hasten to add, I would not allow an exemption. If you allow an exemption, then it would be better not to have any legislation at all.

JIM LEHRER: But you're going to see this thing through? I mean, this is a big thing to you, is it not?

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: I promise you we will see it through, and I am confident we will prevail. It has overwhelming bicameral, bipartisan support.

President McCain?

JIM LEHRER: Senator, can I ask you one political --

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Anything. 

JIM LEHRER: One political question before we go.

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Anything.

JIM LEHRER: Not if, but when will you decide whether or not you will run for president in 2008?

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: On this show.

JIM LEHRER: Oh, on this show. So, in other words, will you call me or do I need to call you?

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: I'll call you. I'm going to make that decision after the -- sometime after the 2006 elections -- and I really haven't made up my mind because I really haven't examined it yet.

But I certainly will let you be one of the first to know, Jim, because of your advanced age, I don't know if you're going to be with us through the entire campaign.

JIM LEHRER: I promise will you be here for the announcement one way or another.

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Thank you, Jim.

JIM LEHRER: Thank you, Senator.

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Good to talk to you.

JIM LEHRER: Good to talk to you.



November 13, 2005
The Counter-Attack Continues

Glenn Reynolds caught John McCain on Face the Nation this morning. This exchange is significant:

SCHIEFFER: President Bush accused his critics of rewriting history last week.

Sen. McCAIN: Yeah.

SCHIEFFER: And in--he said in doing so, the criticisms they were making of his war policy was endangering our troops in Iraq. Do you believe it is unpatriotic to criticize the Iraq policy?

Sen. McCAIN: No, I think it's a very legitimate aspect of American life to criticize and to disagree and to debate. But I want to say I think it's a lie to say that the president lied to the American people. I sat on the Robb-Silverman Commission. I saw many, many analysts that came before that committee. I asked every one of them--I said, `Did--were you ever pressured politically or any other way to change your analysis of the situation as you saw?' Every one of them said no.

I like the nice blunt way McCain put it. I said last week that Bush's speech would be of little significance if he replied to his critics once and then went back to business as usual. The point has to be made over and over again, by Bush and by others on his behalf, to counter the constant repetition of "Bush lied" by the far left. Let's hope that McCain's vigorous defense of Bush is a sign of much more to come.

And, yes, you're right: Schieffer's question--"Do you believe it is unpatriotic to criticize the Iraq policy?"--is an outrageous mischaracterization of what Bush actually said.

Posted by John at 04:26 PM


RNC: In Case You Missed It: 'I Think It's A Lie To Say The President Lied'


 That is what John McCain said in response to Bob Schieffer's question on Face the Nation yesterday, "Do you believe it is unpatriotic to criticize the administration's Iraq policy?" ...

President Bush responded forthrightly in his speech on Veterans Day last week. He spoke at great length of the murderous ideology of "Islamic radicalism" instead of just unspecified terrorism. ... Toward the end, he addressed the Democrats' charges:

"While it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began. [Applause.] Some Democrats and antiwar critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs. ..."

Of course, the Democrats are squawking. McCain and Bush are daring to call their charge--that Bush deliberately lied about intelligence--for the Big Lie that it is. The Democrats still argue that there needs to be an investigation of whether the administration lied about prewar intelligence. But, as the White House points out, the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Silberman-Robb commission, and Lord Butler in Britain have conducted such investigations and have found no manipulation of intelligence ...

Go back, if we must, to 2002 and 2003. What we knew then was that (a) Saddam Hussein's regime had developed weapons of mass destruction--chemical and biological weapons and the beginnings of a nuclear weapons program--in the past, (b) that regime had used such weapons against its own people, and (c) that regime had refused over a long time to cooperate with the U.N. inspection program. Even apart from the intelligence reports indicating that WMD programs were continuing, it would have been grossly irresponsible for any U.S. government to have assumed that they had stopped. What kind of intelligence could we have obtained, in those circumstances, that would have convinced us that they had stopped? The failure of U.N. inspectors to find WMD programs? But they could easily be hidden, and the actions of regime operatives suggested they were hiding something. Statements by top-level defectors or regime members that the programs were not ongoing? Any intelligence analyst would have to assume that these might be disinformation. Statements by Saddam himself? Come on.

The Democrats are trying to relitigate the prewar intelligence issue in the hopes of delegitimizing this administration. But in delegitimizing the administration, they also tend to delegitimize the efforts of the U.S. government, including military personnel, in Iraq and generally in the war against Islamic terrorism. To the extent they delegitimize the United States, they are hurting the cause of freedom for mi llions of people. I do not say the Democrats are being unpatriotic, a word they seem fixated on. So far as I am aware, no responsible Republican has charged that they are unpatriotic; John McCain refused Bob Schieffer's invitation to do so. But I do say this: The Democrats who are peddling the Big Lie of "Bush lied" are doing so either (a) deliberately to injure the cause of the United States and of freedom in the world or, as I think, (b) with reckless disregard of whether they injure the cause of the United States and of freedom in the world. What they are doing may suit their political needs, but it hurts our country. ...

What's Eating Dick Cheney?
Sinking ships must loose big lips
by Laura Rozen
November 17th, 2005 11:40 PM

The vice president supports torture. He hides out in bunkers. He conspires with big oil to deceive the Congress. His chief of staff has been indicted for covering up that office's role in outing a CIA officer to the media as political revenge. He bought sci-fi Iraq intelligence from whoever was selling. He obstructed a Senate Intelligence investigation of pre-war intelligence.

So naturally, deputy White House chief of staff Karl Rove is trotting him out to give a speech accusing Democrats and war critics (now two thirds of the population of the United States) of being "dishonest," "reprehensible," "irresponsible" "opportunists". Repeatedly. Yawn.

"The suggestion that's been made by some U.S. senators that the president of the United States or any member of this administration purposely misled the American people on pre-war intelligence is one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired in this city,” Cheney told the ultra-conservative Frontiers of Freedom Institute in the speech Wednesday.

But despite the newest assault on their patriotism, Democrats may find that Cheney is the best thing that ever happened to them. After all, Cheney’s recent ratings (36 percent approval, 56 percent disapproval according to one recent poll) are so low, and he is so closely associated with such key issues bothering voters--high gas prices, the perception that big oil companies are gouging consumers, the Iraq war, and the sense that the White House is not honest--that Dems might want Cheney to speak more and Republicans prefer he beeline for the nearest bunker.

Only in Cheney's Anbar province--his home state of Wyoming and the neighboring Utah--does his approval rating break 50 percent, and in almost three dozen states, it's in the twenties and thirties. And not just in the liberal blue coasts. He’s in the twenties and thirties in such solidly red bastions as Kansas, the Dakotas, Montana, Alaska, as well as in prominent swing states like Missouri, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida. After governors’ races earlier this month that delivered Democratic key victories in bellwether swing state Virginia and in New Jersey, Cheney may be the closest thing to free advertising the Democrats have. As moderate Republican representative Tom Davis of purple northern Virginia told the Washington Post Thursday, "I think the vice president and the president both right now probably are not helpful in a lot of marginal congressional seats."

Davis appears to be on the money, and then some. Citizens told pollsters they are more inclined to vote for the candidate running against the guy Bush campaigns for, by a margin of 56 percent to 34 percent. Cheney’s extremely low marks on personal integrity and honesty suggest he only amplifies that alienation.

All of which, coupled with the indictment of Scooter Libby in the Plame leak case, has contributed the growing strength and aggressiveness of Senate Democrats, demonstrated by Senate minority leader Harry Reid's dramatic move to take the Senate into closed session earlier this month to demand the Senate Intelligence committee jumpstart a long-stalled investigation into the administration's use of pre-war Iraq intelligence--a probe Cheney's office in particular is reported to have been dragging its feet on cooperating with.

Of course, Cheney has always been somewhat of a rock star among the ultra-conservative Republican base and a more polarizing figure to independents and moderates, and his being trotted out now is not designed to win over moderates but to shore up the sagging morale of the extremist base.  

So it’s worth noting that the political threat coming at the White House and Cheney of late is not just from the Democrats on the left, but from inside the GOP, and in particular from the figure of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), a 2008 presidential hopeful. And what issue is McCain most out front on now, including on the cover of the current issue of Newsweek? Torture, and the fact that Cheney wants the CIA exempted from a measure proposed by McCain himself that would issue guidelines for the treatment of detainees. An amendment to a defense bill, it passed 90 to 10 in the Senate, and its fate is being decided now in conference between the Senate and the House.

But with 68 percent of the public expressing the sense that the country is headed in the wrong direction, not just Democrats and independents but plenty of Republicans are feeling crappy about the state of the nation under this presidency. If you’re one of that 68 percent, who’s going to appeal to you? The war hero McCain talking about how torture hurts this country's image and the important work it's trying to do in Iraq? Or the guys trying to advocate for the torture exemption and whining about the war critics and sounding defensive and suspect about the Fitzgerald investigation and the Senate intelligence investigation?

In a fundamental way, if the last rationale the Bush administration can stand on for being in Iraq is that the U.S. is doing something noble by bringing democracy to the Middle East, then being so visibly for torture just kills them. It just collapses the entire narrative. Most people just can't hold that contradiction in their heads. Especially with a patriotic war hero on TV explaining why torture is bad for U.S. national security and prestige, and for U.S. troops who might be captured by the enemy, like he was. Especially when that figure has none of the Katrina/Fitzgerald/Rove/Miers/torture/Iraq/Cheney/Rumsfeld baggage that Bush does, and when they think to themselves, wouldn't it be great if this guy was commander in chief, instead of these guys? Frankly, politics being politics, it seems it's only a matter of time before plenty of the Republican elite and its publications abandon this sinking ship, its failed Iraq non-strategy and its troubled ethics, and exude open enthusiasm for a more hopeful, positive alternative.

Which could explain what’s eating Dick Cheney.


With Carl Limbacher and Staff
For the story behind the story...
Monday, Nov. 14, 2005 3:04 p.m. EST

Clarification on McCain Quote

On Friday November 11, NewsMax reported in a story headlined "McCain: Send 10,000 More Troops to Iraq” that Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said, "The path forward in Iraq,” must defeat the insurgency and keep faith with our troops, rather than be driven by the politics of the Republican base or rigid adherence to President Bush’s aimless course.”

NewsMax indicated Sen. McCain made these remarks in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute.

The quote attributed to Sen. McCain was published in error. Sen. McCain never made such a comment.

The quote should have been attributed to Senator John Kerry (D-MA), as reported by the New York Times on Friday November 11.

Kerry said those words on the Senate floor soon after McCain’s speech calling for increased troops in Iraq and criticizing a previous Kerry proposal to reduce the level of American troops in Iraq by 20,000 in coming months.

NewsMax apologies for the error and duly notes the correction.


November 14, 2005

Political Zionists Clinton and McCain Proud Supporters of Israel

By: Genevieve Cora Fraser*
I am sorry to report that the heir presumptive to the Democratic '08 Presidential Campaign, Hillary Rodham Clinton is a disgrace to humanity.  Though the much publicized photo of her yukking it up at the May AIPAC (American Israeli Political Action Committee) convention with the international war criminal, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon frankly turned my stomach, I was willing to cut her some slack if her domestic policies were sound.  But no, Hillary has sunk to the slimiest recesses of the bottom of the barrel.  Her black Zionist roots are showing despite her golden tresses.

According to Associated Press writer Rachael Hoag, Clinton is reported to have said during her recent visit to Israel that she "supports the separation barrier Israel is building along the edges of the West Bank, and that the onus is on the Palestinian Authority to fight terrorism." So much for victim's rights! Perhaps Hillary needs to live under occupation for a couple of months and see what its like for a trip to the grocery store be playing Russian Roulette with your life.

Clinton's remarks are particularly egregious at a time when long-time South African Anti-Apartheid leaders such as such Ronnie Kasri (who is Jewish) are speaking out.  Though the suffering of the Arabs in Israel & Palestine parallels in some instances the suffering of blacks in South Africa under apartheid, conditions now present in Palestine far exceed it, some say.

Meanwhile, the ever-popular, former POW John McCain is earning much deserved credit for attacking the torture-for-some-prisoners-of-war policy both promoted and denied by the Bush administration with an "Anti-Torture" campaign.  But to illustrate the soundness of his anti-torture proposal, McCain advises that we turn to Israel as a stellar example of restraint.  

"The state of Israel, no stranger to terrorist attacks, has faced this dilemma, and in 1999 the Israeli Supreme Court declared cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment illegal," according to McCain. "'A democratic, freedom-loving society,' the court wrote, 'does not accept that investigators use any means for the purpose of uncovering truth. The rules pertaining to investigators are important to a democratic state. They reflect its character.'"  

Yes, Citizen McCain also deserves a Zionist gold star on his forehead for Pollyanna support of Israel, despite UN and non-governmental agency reports, both inside and outside of Israel, that document wide-spread Palestinian prisoner and citizen torture and abuse.  The frightening prospect is he too may be headed for a serious presidential bid.  Of course, in his case the "apple don't fall far from the tree," as the saying goes.  One has only to type "US Liberty" and "Admiral McCain" into a Google search to uncover the role the Senator's father played in exonerating Israel from their attack on the American ship, the US Liberty, during the Arab-Israeli War.  

On June 8, 1967, the US Liberty was in international waters 13 miles off the Sinai Peninsula in the eastern Mediterranean when Israel launched a ferocious attack. Over 820 shell holes were counted in the ship's superstructure and hull.  Thirty-four men were killed and one hundred seventy two wounded.  I am sure that the Admiral's son is well aware that at that time Israel was in the process of occupying Palestine.  Since then, every man, women and child in Palestine lives and dies under the brutish, torture chamber dictates of a very un-just Israel, despite the so-called freedom-loving nature of this Zionist dominated society.

But despite regressive, anti-Arab policies of too many American politicians, their Israeli-Zionist counterparts and Neo-Conservative surrogates, light may be seen at the end of the tunnel. For the first time since its bloody inception 57 years ago, an Arab Jew of North African descent, Amir Peretz has been elected to a top leadership position in Israel and there is a possibility he may one day be Prime Minister.

At a recent rally at the Rabin Memorial, Peretz's speech was delivered as a direct address to the assassinated Rabin.  "Ten years ago, on that fateful night, you have said that violence undermines the foundations of democracy - not knowing that a violent death awaited you just around the corner. Ten years on, and the violence is still very much with us, Yitzchak. The country is full of violence. We have not succeeded in isolating it. It has spread beyond the areas of confrontation with the Palestinians, it has become rooted among us."

"If we had left the Territories, stopped the violence which issues from there at its source, we would have also overcome the violence in our midst," Peretz stated.  

"I am the child who came to Israel fifty years ago, at the age of four. I am the child who grew up in the time of the Fedayyun (cross-border infiltrators of the 1950's) and nowadays lives with his family under the shadow of the Qasam rockets. The children of my hometown Sderot have their sleep troubled by the fear of the Qasams, while their contemporaries in Gaza wake up with the sonic booms and the anti-terrorist preventive acts" Petetz continued.

"I have a dream, Yitzchak. I dream that one day the no-man's-land between Sderot and Beit Hanun will flourish. I dream of factories going up there, and recreation areas, and playgrounds where our children and the Palestinian children will play together and build a common future. When this dream comes true I could go to your grave, face you and say: Rest in peace, Yitzchak. You have earned your final, undisturbed rest. You were murdered, yet you won!"  

Yes, Peretz's election offers hope despite American support for his political rivals, Sharon and Peres.  Meanwhile the UN Quartet Special Envoy for the Gaza Disengagement, James Wolfensohn, warns of the danger that the Gaza Strip could turn into a giant prison. The truth is Gaza and the West Bank and East Jerusalem ARE giant prisons if you happen to be a Palestinian.  End the occupation and there will be peace. The onus is on Israel, Hillary.  It is their boot that is on the throat of Palestine.

*Genevieve Cora Fraser is a poet, playwright and journalist as well as a long-standing environmental and human rights activist.


What McCain Dubbed John Kerry's "Path to Disaster" in Iraq is now Bush Administration Policy

Posted by Suzanne Nossel

I have for sometime believed that the Bush Administration would follow the Orwellian approach of claiming to be fully committed to the Iraq mission, while looking for any possible way to begin to draw down troops (the decent interval being the apparent preferred option right now).

The evidence is now beginning to come in.   At the end of October John Kerry announced a plan for gradual withdrawal from Iraq based on benchmarks, starting with 20,000 troops who would come home right after the December elections.  On November 10 in a major speech, John McCain said the following:

"Senator Kerry’s call for the withdrawal of 20,000 American troops by year’s end represents, I believe, a major step on the road to disaster."

According to the New York Times, Donald Rumsfeld said this morning that:

Mr. Rumsfeld said that there were plans to draw down the current level of 159,000 troops in Iraq to about 137,000 or 138,000 after the elections. "We're bulked up right now because of the elections coming up Dec. 15," he said.

A simple misunderstanding caused by McCain's unawareness that there would be a special infusion of extra troops right before the election who were not needed to stay on?  No way.  For Rumsfeld to say, during the deadliest 3-day period in Iraq since the invasion, that we are planning to pull out 20,000 troops a month from now is flat out inconsistent with Bush's professed policy of staying the course despite the hardships.   

They vehemently deny it (that is when they're not admitting it) but the Administration is making plans to pull back.    It's starting to look like the route out of Iraq may involve just as much misrepresentation and subterfuge as we had on the way in.

November 20, 2005 09:49 PM | in Iraq

Where we are on Iraq

November 25, 2005

WASHINGTON — If the question already is or ever becomes, "Who lost Iraq?" the answer is not Jack Murtha.

Nor Howard Dean. Nor John McCain. Nor Eric Shinseki. Nor even that pair of Euro-calculators, Jacques Chirac or Gerhard Schroeder.

George W. Bush will have had to manage that, with a little help from Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Condoleezza Rice and a cast of go-along supporters.

And if Iraq happens to be "won" (just try defining that in relation to our current Babylonian bamboozlement), then as Brent Scowcroft has asked, "At what cost?"

So is it no-win? Sort of looks like it. This is not a reflection on anyone's military sacrifice or on anyone's (including my own) gullibility regarding weapons of mass destruction.

This is an assessment of the best-case scenario of what we can see about a year down the road, even if Dec. 15 elections in Iraq are modestly successful and a government creaks along under a problematic constitution and holds things together short of an all-out civil war.

The worst-case scenario is a civil war that draws in Iran, Syria and Turkey. Then we'd find that U.S. efforts, by removing Saddam Hussein (as satisfying as that may have been), have only accentuated the geopolitical power vacuum that was a principal reason that George H.W. Bush (and Scowcroft) opted not to hound retreating Iraqis up the Highway of Death in 1991.

And who would most recently have set the stage for Iraq to be a nasty little terrorist breeding ground? Well, let's just say he'll be spending his Thanksgiving holiday in McLennan County in Texas.

The question of medium-range scenarios is at the heart of the debate ignited last week by a speech by Rep. John P. Murtha, D-Pa. If you have not read it in its entirety, do so. It's on Murtha's House Web site at In tone and preparation, the speech is, if anything, restrained.

What's interesting — and little done in the wake of various mischaracterizations of Murtha's speech — is to compare his proposal to what the White House plans. At least as manifested by the apparent intent of Central Command, Bush seems to have in mind the beginning of a significant drawdown of U.S. forces from Iraq by spring.

This is the signal the White House is sending to calm political allies looking ahead to the 2006 midterm elections. "We're going to be on our way out of Iraq," Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, said Tuesday when asked how the war will figure in 2006 voting.

Once the pullout begins, the only difference between Murtha and Bush is pace, positioning and the old troop-level argument.

On that point, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., among others, continues to contend that there have never been enough boots on the ground. That's the sort of observation that got Gen. John Shenseki fired, so no wonder the remaining brass doesn't clamor publicly for more personnel.

Murtha, a decorated (including two Purple Hearts) Marine from the Vietnam era, probably has contacts throughout (repeat, throughout) the nation's military establishment that are as good as any in Washington.

For his efforts, Murtha was initially vilified in the crudest manner. Republicans, anxious for what they thought would be a quick political kill, ran to the House floor with a jack-leg version of Murtha's proposal.

Republicans' performance on a procedural point played so poorly that by the time of the real debate on the leadership's phony immediate-withdrawal resolution, the GOP allowed only more seasoned members near microphones on the floor.

If you didn't get the full picture, you could listen to President Bush in China, bringing up on his own that "people should feel comfortable about expressing their opinions about Iraq." Maybe any discomfort stemmed from his earlier agreement with Cheney that war critics were "reprehensible."

In doing his own one-man version Monday of a good cop-bad cop routine on critics of the Iraqi operation, Cheney seemed to be competing for the most ludicrous non-sequitur award.

Try this gem from his speech at the American Enterprise Institute: "Some have suggested that by liberating Iraq from Saddam Hussein we simply stirred up a hornet's nest. They overlook a fundamental fact: We were not in Iraq on Sept. 11, 2001, and the terrorists hit us anyway."

Nor were there in Iraq, on Sept. 11, 2001, significant, if any, elements of the group responsible for the attacks on the United States. Now, unfortunately, there are plenty.

By the vice president's reasoning, and using the motivational background of the Sept. 11 hijackers as a guide, the United States should have been carpet bombing hateful madrassas in Saudi Arabia about 15 years ago.

Now that would be a good, nonreprehensible point to debate.

Cragg Hines is a columnist for The Houston Chronicle based in Washington, D.C.


Immigration reform to be considered in February

Nov 28 2005 

By TimChapman

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist intends to schedule debate on immigration reform in January. Hotline on Call has all the details.

According to sources, Republican Senators are finally taking immigration as an issue seriously. In an off the record gathering, the caucus has been exposed to reliable polling and an extensive briefing from a respected conservative pollster that shows that the issue is tremendously important to the conservative base.

Yes, it is an issue of national security, Republican Senators were told, but the bigger issue is that of jobs. Rank and file voters are concerned about American jobs being taken by illegal aliens. This issue, combined with the national security issue, has made immigration a "must act" issue for the GOP.

RELATED: Michelle Malkin liveblogs the President's immigration speech.

UPDATE: The full text of the President's speech is in the extended section. 

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Please be seated. Thank you for the warm welcome. It is such a pleasure to be back in Arizona, and it's great to be here in Tucson. The last time I was here I think there was probably about a 50-degree temperature differential. (Laughter.) It's an honor to stand here with the men and women of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. (Applause.) As well, to be here with the men and women of the Customs and Border Protection Agency, and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, as well. (Applause.)

Securing our border is essential to securing the homeland. And I want to thank all of those who are working around the clock to defend our border, to enforce our laws, and to uphold the values of the United States of America. America is grateful to those who are on the front lines of enforcing the border. (Applause.)

I appreciate so very much the Governor joining us today. Governor, thank you for being here. I'm honored you are here. I appreciate Senator John McCain joining us today. Senator. (Applause.) As well as Senator John Kyl. (Applause.) I appreciate three members of the congressional delegation from Arizona -- Congressman Shadegg, Flake and Franks -- for joining us, as well. (Applause.) Two members of my Cabinet are here with us, the Attorney General of the United States, Al Gonzales -- (applause) -- and the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Mike Chertoff. (Applause.)

I want to thank the United States Attorney from the District of Arizona, Paul Charlton, for joining us today. I appreciate David Aguilar, who is the Chief of the Border Patrol, U.S. Customs and Border Protection of the Department of Homeland Security; Mike Nicely, who is the Chief Patrol Agent, Tucson Sector; Ron Colburn, Chief Patrol Agent, Yuma Sector; Martin Vaughan, Director of Air Operations. But most of all, I want to thank those who wear the uniform for doing such a fine job. Thank you all. (Applause.) Finally, I want to thank General Schmidt for welcoming me today. He's the Commander of the 12th Air Force, U.S. Southern Command, based right here at this base. (Applause.)

I have a solemn duty, and so do the members of the United States Congress, to protect our nation, our Constitution, and our laws. Our border and immigration security officers devote themselves to those same missions every single day.

America has always been a compassionate nation that values the newcomer and takes great pride in our immigrant heritage; yet we're also a nation built on the rule of law, and those who enter the country illegally violate the law. The American people should not have to choose between a welcoming society and a lawful society. We can have both at the same time. And to keep the promise of America, we will enforce the laws of our country. (Applause.)

As a former governor, I know that enforcing the law and the border is especially important to the communities along the border. Illegal immigration puts pressure on our schools and hospitals -- I understand that. I understand it strains the resources needed for law enforcement and emergency services. And the vicious human strugglers -- smugglers and gangs that bring illegal immigrants across the border also bring crime to our neighborhoods and danger to the highways. Illegal immigration is a serious challenge. And our responsibility is clear: We are going to protect the border. (Applause.)

Since I've taken office we've increased funding for border security by 60 percent. Our border agents have used that funding to apprehend and send home more than 4.5 million people coming into our country illegally, including more than 350,000 with criminal records. Our Customs and Border Protection agents can be proud of the work that you're doing. You're taking control of this border. And we have more work to do, and that's what I want to talk to you about today. We're going to build on the progress we have made.

We have a comprehensive strategy to reform our immigration system. We're going to secure the border by catching those who enter illegally, and hardening the border to prevent illegal crossings. We're going to strengthen enforcement of our immigration laws within our country. And together with Congress, we're going to create a temporary worker program that will take pressure off the border, bring workers from out of the shadows, and reject amnesty. (Applause.)

Our strategy for comprehensive immigration reforms begins by securing the border. Now, let me talk to you about a three-part plan. The first part of the plan is to promptly return every illegal entrant we catch at the border, with no exceptions. More than 85 percent of the illegal immigrants we catch are from Mexico, and most of them are escorted back across the border within 24 hours.

To prevent them from trying to cross again, we've launched an interesting program, an innovative approach called interior repatriation. Under this program, many Mexicans caught at the border illegally are flown back to Mexico and then bused to their hometowns in the interior part of the country. By returning these illegal immigrants to their home towns far from the border, we make it more difficult for them to attempt to cross again. Interior repatriation is showing promise in breaking the cycle of illegal immigration.

In a pilot program focused on the west Arizona desert, nearly 35,000 illegal immigrants were returned to Mexico through interior repatriation. Last year only about 8 percent of them were caught trying to cross the border again, a much lower rate than we find among illegal immigrants who are escorted directly across the border.

We're going to expand interior repatriation. We want to make it clear that when people violate immigration laws, they're going to be sent home, and they need to stay at home. (Applause.)

We face a different set of challenges with non-Mexicans that we -- who we catch crossing the border illegally. When non-Mexican illegal immigrants are apprehended, they are initially detained. The problem is that our detention facilities don't have enough beds. And so, about four of every five non-Mexican illegal immigrants we catch are released in society and asked to return for a court date. When the date arrives, about 75 percent of those released don't show up to the court. As a result, last year, only 30,000 of the 160,000 non-Mexicans caught coming across our southwest border were sent home.

This practice of catch and release has been the government's policy for decades. It is an unwise policy and we're going to end it. (Applause.) To help end catch and release, we need to increase the capacity in our detention facilities. Last month at the White House I signed legislation supported by the members of the Arizona delegation that will increase the number of beds in our detention facilities. We're also working to process illegal immigrants through the system more quickly, so we can return them home faster and free up bed space for others.

One of the most effective tools we have in this effort is a process called expedited removal. Under expedited removal, non-Mexicans are detained and placed into streamlined proceedings. It allows us to deport them at an average of 32 days, almost three times faster than usual. In other words, we're cutting through the bureaucracy. Last year we used expedited removal to deport more than 20,000 non-Mexicans caught entering this country illegally between Tucson and Laredo. This program is so successful that the Secretary has expanded it all up and down the border. This is a straightforward idea. It says, when an illegal immigrant knows they'll be caught and sent home, they're less likely to come to the country. That's the message we're trying to send with expedited removal.

We're also pursuing other common-sense steps to accelerate the deportation process. We're pressing foreign governments to take their citizens back promptly. We're streamlining the paperwork and we're increasing the number of flights carrying illegal immigrants home. We recently tested the effectiveness of these steps with Brazilian illegal immigrants caught along the Rio Grande Valley of the Texas border. The effort was called Operation Texas Hold 'Em. (Laughter.) It delivered impressive results. Thanks to our actions, Brazilian illegal immigration dropped by 90 percent in the Rio Grande Valley, and by 60 -- 50 percent across the border as a whole.

With all these steps, we're delivering justice more effectively, and we're changing the policy from catch and release to the policy of catch and return.

The second part of our plan is to strengthen border -- to strengthen border enforcement is to correct weak and unnecessary provisions in our immigration laws. Under current law, the federal government is required to release people caught crossing our border illegally if their home countries do not take them back in a set period of time. That law doesn't work when it comes time to enforcing the border and it needs to be changed. Those we we're forced to release have included murderers, rapists, child molesters, and other violent criminals. This undermines our border security. It undermines the work these good folks are doing. And the United States Congress needs to pass legislation to end these senseless rules. (Applause.)

We need to address the cycle of endless litigation that clogs our immigration courts and delays justice for immigrants. Some federal courts are now burdened with more than six times as many immigration appeals as they had just a few years ago. A panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco declared that illegal immigrants have a right to relitigate before an immigration court as many times as they want. This decision obviously would encourage illegal immigrants who have been deported to sneak back into the country and to re-argue their case. Congress needs to put an end to this cycle of needless litigation and deliver reforms necessary to help us secure this border. (Applause.)

The third part of our plan to strengthen border enforcement is to stop people from crossing the border illegally in the first place. And we're increasing manpower. We're increasing technology and infrastructure across this border. We're integrating these resources in ways we have never done before.

Since 2001, we've hired 1,900 new Border Patrol agents. I just signed a bill last month that will enable us to add another thousand Border Patrol agents. When we complete these hires, we will have enlarged the Border Patrol by about 3,000 agents from 9,500 the year I took office to 12,500 next year. This is an increase of more than 30 percent, and most of the new agents will be assigned right here in the state of Arizona. (Applause.)

And to help the agents, we're deploying technologies. Listen, technology can help an individual agent have broader reach and more effectiveness. When agents can take advantage of cutting-edge equipment like overhead surveillance drones and infrared cameras, they can do a better job for all of us.

In Tucson, agents on the ground are directing unmanned aerial technology in the sky, and they're acting rapidly on illegal immigration or illegal activities they may see from the drones. In the months since these unmanned flights began, agents have intercepted a lot of drugs on the border that otherwise -- and people -- that otherwise might have made it through.

The legislation I signed last month provides $139 million to further upgrade the technology and bring a more unified, systematic approach to border enforcement. Again, I want to thank the members of the Congress. (Applause.)

In some places, the most effective way to secure the border is to construct physical barriers to entry. The legislation I signed last month includes $70 million to install and improve protective infrastructure across this border. In rural areas, we're funding the construction of new patrol roads to give our agents better access to the border, and new vehicle barriers to keep illegal immigrants from driving across the border.

In urban areas, we're expanding fencing to shut down access to human smuggling corridors. Secretary Chertoff recently used authority granted by the Congress to order the completion of a 14-mile barrier near San Diego that had been held up because of lawsuits. By overcoming endless litigation to finish this vital project we're helping our border agents do their job, and making people who live close to the border more secure.

Our actions to integrate manpower, technology and infrastructure are getting results. And one of the best examples of success is the Arizona Border Control Initiative, which the government launched in 2004. In the first year of this initiative -- now, listen to this, listen how hard these people are working here -- agents in Arizona apprehended nearly 500,000 illegal immigrants, a 42-percent increase over the previous year. We've captured a half-million pounds of marijuana, prosecuted more than 400 people suspected of human smuggling, and seized more than $7 million in cash. You've got some good folks here working hard to do their job, and I appreciate it very much. (Applause.)

As we work to secure the border, comprehensive immigration reform also requires us to improve enforcement of our laws in the interior of the country. Catching and deporting illegal immigrants along the border is only part of the responsibility. America's immigration laws apply across all of America, and we will enforce those laws throughout our land. Better interior enforcement begins with better work site enforcement. American businesses have an obligation to abide by the law, and our government has the responsibility to help them do so. (Applause.)

Enforcing our immigration laws in the interior of the country requires a sustained commitment of resources. Since I took office, we've increased funding for immigration enforcement by 44 percent. We've increased the number of immigration and customs investigators by 14 percent since 2001. And those good folks who are working hard, too. Last year, the -- this year, federal agents completed what they called Operation Rollback. It's the largest work site enforcement case in American history. This operation resulted in the arrest of hundreds of illegal immigrants, criminal convictions against a dozen employers, and a multi-million dollar payment from one of America's largest corporations.

Our skilled immigration security officers are also going against some of the most dangerous people in our society -- smugglers, terrorists, gang members and human traffickers. In Arizona, we have prosecuted more than 2,300 smugglers bringing drugs, guns and illegal immigrants across the border. As a part of Operation Community Shield, federal agents have arrested nearly 1,400 gang members who were here illegally, including hundreds of members of the violent Latin American gangs like MS-13.

Since the Department of Homeland Security was created, agents have apprehended nearly 27,000 illegal immigrant fugitives. Thanks to our determined personnel, society is safer. But we've got more work to do. The legislation I signed last month more than doubled the resources dedicated to interior enforcement. We understand that border security and interior enforcement go hand in hand. (Applause.) We will increase the number of immigration enforcement agents and criminal investigators.

We're confronting the problem of document fraud, as well. When illegal workers try to pass off sophisticated forgeries as employment documents, even the most diligent businesses find it difficult to tell what's real and what's fake. Business owners shouldn't have to act like detectives to verify the legal status of their workers. So my administration has expanded a program called Basic Pilot. This program gives businesses access to an automated system that rapidly screens the employment eligibility of new hire against federal records. Basic Pilot was available in only six states fives years ago; now this program is available nationwide. We'll continue to work to stop document fraud, to make it easier for America's businesses to comply with our immigration laws. (Applause.)

As we enforce our immigration laws, comprehensive immigration reform also requires us to improve those laws by creating a new temporary worker program. This program would create a legal way to match willing foreign workers with willing American employers to fill jobs that Americans will not do. Workers would be able to register for legal status for a fixed period of time, and then be required to go home. This program would help meet the demands of a growing economy, and it would allow honest workers to provide for their families while respecting the law.

This plan would also help us relieve pressure on the border. By creating a legal channel for those who enter America to do an honest day's labor, we would reduce the number of workers trying to sneak across the border. This would free up law enforcement officials to focus on criminals, drug dealers, terrorists and others that mean to harm us. Our plan would create a tamper-proof identification card for the temporary legal worker, which, of course, would improve work site enforcement.

Listen, there's a lot of opinions on this proposal -- I understand that. But people in this debate must recognize that we will not be able to effectively enforce our immigration laws until we create a temporary worker program. The program that I proposed would not create an automatic path to citizenship, it wouldn't provide for amnesty -- I oppose amnesty. Rewarding those who have broken the law would encourage others to break the law and keep pressure on our border. (Applause.)

A temporary worker program, by contrast, would decrease pressure on the border. I support the number of -- increasing the number of annual green cards that can lead to citizenship. But for the sake of justice and for the sake of border security, I'm not going to sign an immigration bill that includes amnesty. (Applause.)

I look forward to continue working with the United States Congress on comprehensive immigration reform. In the House of Representatives, your Arizona congressmen are building strong support for border enforcement among their colleagues. Judiciary Committee Chairman Sensenbrenner and Homeland Security Chairman King are moving bills that include tough provisions to help secure this border. The House plans to vote on this legislation soon; I urge them to pass a good bill.

The Senate is continuing to work on border legislation, as well. This legislation improves border security and toughens interior enforcement and creates a temporary worker program. Senators McCain and Kyl have taken the lead. It's two good men taking the lead, by the way. I'm confident something is going to get done that people of Arizona will like, with these two Senators in the lead. (Applause.)

Majority Leader Frist and Judiciary Committee Chairman Specter said they're going to take action in early 2006. See, we have a chance to move beyond the old and tired choices of the immigration debate, and come together on a strategy to enforce our laws, secure our country, and uphold our deepest values.

We make good progress, but you know like I know, there's a lot more to be done. And we've got to continue to work together to get that done, and I'm optimistic that Congress will rise to the occasion. By passing comprehensive immigration reform, we will add to this country's security, to our prosperity, and to justice.

Our nation has been strengthened by generations of immigrants who became Americans through patience and hard work and assimilation. In this new century, we must continue to welcome immigrants, and to set high standards for those who follow the laws to become a part of our country. Every new citizen of the United States has an obligation to learn our customs and values, including liberty and civic responsibility, equality under God and tolerance for others, and the English language. (Applause.) We will continue to pursue policies that encourage ownership, excellence in education, and give all our citizens a chance to realize the American Dream.

I appreciate once again being here with the Border and Immigration Security officers who have volunteered for a difficult and urgent assignment. I appreciate their courage. By defending our border, you're defending our liberty, and our citizens, and our way of life. I'm proud to stand with you today, and the American people stand with you, as well. May God bless you all, and may God continue to bless our country. (Applause.)


McCain Taps Former Bush Political Director

WASHINGTON - With an eye toward the 2008 presidential campaign, GOP Sen. John McCain of Arizona has hired one of President Bush's top re-election advisers to help run his political action committee.

Terry Nelson, political director of the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2004, will be senior adviser to Straight Talk America, according to several official familiar with the hiring. They spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to pre-empt an announcement by McCain's committee.

McCain is using the PAC to raise money and organize his travel on behalf of Republicans running in November's midterm elections.

The PAC is also a launching pad for what most Republicans consider to be a likely presidential race by McCain. Nelson's hiring puts him in position to play a major role should McCain seek the White House again.

The Arizona senator ran in 2000, upsetting Bush in New Hampshire but losing the nomination in a bitter two-way race. The Bush and McCain camps eventually came to terms and McCain campaigned vigorously on Bush's behalf in the 2004 re-election campaign.

McCain is courting Bush's supporters, major fundraisers and advisers. Mark McKinnon, the president's chief media strategist, has signaled his willingness to help McCain unless Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice or Florida Gov. Jeb Bush gets in the race.

Both Rice and the president's brother have said they will not run.

While some of Bush's former aides may line behind McCain's potential GOP presidential rivals, Nelson's hiring may help McCain cast himself as the early front-runner and potential heir of Bush's political machine.

Nelson, a soft-spoken Iowa native, is well-respected Republican consultant who served as deputy chief of staff and director of political operations at the Republican National Committee from January 2002 until he joined Bush's re-election campaign.

In 2004, Nelson helped put together Bush's well-oiled grass roots operations. Nelson was political director for the House Republican campaign committee during the 2000 election cycle.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. 

Senators Vote to Restrict Free Speech for Citizen Activists
Statement by LobbySense in Response to Markup of S. 2128 The Lobbying Transparency and Accountability Act

To: National Desk

Contact: Audrey Mullen, 703-548-1160

FAIRFAX, Va., Mar. 2 /Christian Wire Service/ -- "Today the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee passed onerous disclosure rules on America's grassroots activists that infringe on several First Amendment protections including freedom of speech, assembly and the ability of citizens to petition the government," stated Kerri Houston, National Spokesperson for The LobbySense Coalition.

"These restrictions are part of a Lobby Reform bill that should be targeted at Congress, not at groups that bring the people's message to Congress."

The original author of the language, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and Committee Chair Susan Collins (R-ME) backed away from the grassroots constraints in the bill, but the Lieberman (D-CT) and Levin (D-MI) amendment to regulate grassroots activities passed 10-6.

All seven committee Democrats voted for it (Lieberman, Levin, Akaka (HI), Carper (DE), Dayton (MN), Lautenberg (NJ), and Pryor (AR); as did Republicans Stevens (AK), Voinovich (OH), and Chafee (RI). Voting "no" were Republicans Coleman (MN), Coburn (OK), Bennett (UT), Domenici (NM), and Warner (VA), in addition to Collins.

"What is extraordinary is that Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska not only voted for these disclosure and mobilization restrictions, but embraced them. It seems odd that Senator Stevens wants to slap duct tape on the very free-market economic and environmental organizations that have stood behind the policy issue most important to him - America's need for prudent and environmentally sound drilling in ANWR. These "grassroots" include many of our coalition partners as well as the Inupiat and other Alaskan citizen activists in his home state who have gone to the mat for him on this issue," stated Jason Wright, LobbySense Executive Director.

"The bill will proceed to the floor for a vote next week, and the 50-plus members of the LobbySense coalition will continue to be active and vocal against these restrictions. We will encourage Congress to focus instead on real solutions to actual problems -- increased transparency for Congress, enhanced and enforced criminal statues for lawbreakers, and restraints on the spending that caused the corruption in the first place,' Houston concluded.

The complete Amendment and a summary is available at

12 November 2006 19:42

McCain moves closer to bid for White House

By Rupert Cornwell in Washington

Published: 13 November 2006

John McCain, the Arizona Republican widely seen as a front-runner for his party's presidential nomination in 2008, has moved closer to a White House run, saying he was setting up an exploratory committee, and that he would take a final decision early in 2007.

"I am going to sit down with my family over the holidays and make that decision," the four-term senator, who unsuccessfully ran against George Bush in 2000, told NBC's Meet the Press yesterday.

He did not say exactly when the committee - a legally required precursor of a White House bid - would be formally established. But he noted that it was "part of the process". Whatever happens, he added, "the important thing is that we will be prepared".

With his reputation as a maverick and blunt-spoken teller of truth to power, Mr McCain has a proven appeal to independents and many Democrats. He has also of late moved to shore up support among the Christian right, a constituency vital to success in the primaries - as he learnt to his cost six years ago.

Every sign thus far is that he plans to run. There are, however, significant question marks about a McCain candidacy. One is his advocacy of yet more troops being sent to Iraq, at a moment when the war has never been less popular. The other is his age. If elected, Mr McCain, who is a former prisoner of war in Vietnam, would be 72 when sworn in in January 2009, making him the oldest incoming president ever. He also has a history of melanoma skin cancer, meaning that his health would be a matter of intense scrutiny.

On the Republican side, after the defeat and political self-destruction of the once-fancied Senator George Allen of Virginia at last week's midterm election, the Arizona senator's most dangerous rival may be Mitt Romney, the outgoing governor of Massachusetts, who is showing every sign of a presidential bid.

Other possibilities include the former mayor of New York Rudolph Giuliani, and the outgoing Senate majority leader, Bill Frist of Tennessee - and conceivably even Mr Giuliani's successor as mayor, Michael Bloomberg.

The Democratic contest also became slightly clearer yesterday. Joe Biden, senator for Delaware, confirmed on ABC's This Week programme that he planned to run in 2008, but did not say when he would take a final decision. In the meantime, Mr Biden is expected to become chairman of the powerful Foreign Relations Committee when the new Democrat-controlled Senate convenes in January. He advocates a loose federal structure for Iraq. But another senator, the liberal Russell Feingold of Wisconsin, who has been a strong opponent of the Iraq war from the beginning, ruled himself out of the race - as did Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat poised to take over as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. "I value my marriage too much for that," he joked.

The favourite - albeit undeclared - remains Hillary Clinton, flush with money after her untaxing re-election to the Senate from New York last week, and with a powerful organisation already in place.

But a threat has emerged in the person of Barack Obama, the wildly popular first-term senator from Illinois, who has been promoting a political memoir, The Audacity of Hope, that in part resembles a campaign manifesto. Mr Obama, born of a Kenyan father and Kansan mother, recently admitted that he was mulling a bid. A decision could come soon, he indicated. Other senators who might join the 2008 contest are the defeated 2004 nominee John Kerry, and Evan Bayh, the conservative Democrat from Indiana. All but certain to run is John Edwards, Mr Kerry's running mate four years ago.

McCain Calls for Common Sense in GOP

The Associated Press
Thursday, November 16, 2006; 9:19 PM

WASHINGTON -- Sen. John McCain, casting himself as the embodiment of the Republican Party's future in the vein of Ronald Reagan, said Thursday the GOP has lost its way and must return to "common-sense conservatism."

"Though we suffered a tough defeat last week, we will recover if we learn our lesson well and once again offer Americans enlightened, effective and principled leadership," the Arizona Republican said in a speech that laid out his vision for the party's path forward _ and could set the tone for a potential presidential campaign.

The same day he launched a committee to explore whether to run in 2008, McCain invoked the legacy of Reagan, who won the presidency four years after leading the rebirth of a dispirited GOP following the Republican defeat in the 1976 presidential election.

"We can do it again if we lead and inspire as he did," the four-term senator told party loyalists. His remarks came a week after a sobering election in which Republicans lost control of Congress and suffered losses at all levels of government.

A maverick who has sought to mend a rocky relationship with the GOP base, McCain delivered his take on the current and future state of the party in a hotel conference room before more than 100 members of GOPAC, a conservative organization that helps elect Republicans. Earlier, McCain touched on some of the same themes before another conservative cornerstone _ the Federalist Society. He received standing ovations and hearty applause.

Fifteen months before the first 2008 presidential nominating contests, McCain is positioning himself as the GOP standard-bearer while President Bush takes on lame-duck status and dispirited Republicans search for a road to recovery.

Although the president was not mentioned, McCain's speech amounted to a criticism of the party under the leadership of Bush, whose popularity is at a low point amid chaos in Iraq and increasing federal spending at home.

"We lost our principles and our majority. And there is no way to recover our majority without recovering our principles first," McCain told both audiences as he reflected on the 2006 election.

No doubt mindful that the next GOP presidential nominee could end up carrying the burden of a Bush legacy, McCain contrasted the current state of the party with what he called common-sense conservatism. In doing so, he laid out a choice for Republicans: more of the same or a return to Reagan's ideals.

"Americans had elected us to change government, and they rejected us because they believed government had changed us," he said in a speech in which he cited Reagan, Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt. "We must spend the next two years reacquainting the public and ourselves with the reason we came to office in the first place: to serve a cause greater than our self-interest."

After a dozen years of GOP rule on Capitol Hill, McCain said voters felt Republicans cared more about protecting their incumbency than they did about staying true to core conservative principles such as limited government, fiscal discipline, a strong defense, low taxes, free trade and family values. He urged a return to those tenets.

"Do the right thing, and the politics will take care of itself," McCain said.

McCain filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission that will allow him to raise money and travel the country while weighing a bid. The committee's Web site _ http://www.exploremccain.com_ went online a day earlier.

Still, McCain says he will wait until after the Christmas holiday to decide whether to make a second bid for the White House. He lost to Bush in a contentious race in 2000, when the senator was the underdog. This time, McCain is widely considered the one to beat in a crowded field of potential candidates.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has filed paperwork to test the waters for the GOP nomination, and Rep. Duncan Hunter of California has launched a long-shot bid.

McCain's other would-be rivals include Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee and New York Gov. George Pataki.

McCain: Homosexuality not a 'defect' or 'sin'
David Edwards
Published: Monday November 20, 2006
During an interview on Sunday, Senator John McCain (Az-Rep) said that homosexuality was not a "defect" or a "sin," but emphasized that he didn't think same sex marriage should be legal.
The possible 2008 GOP presidential contender drew the line at civil unions for gay and lesbians, but said that he thought they should have the right to enter into legal agreements.
"I do not believe gay marriage should be legal," McCain repeated. "I do not believe gay marriage should be legal."
"But I do believe that people ought to be able to enter into contracts, exchange powers of attorney, other ways that people [who] have relationships can enter into," McCain continued.
McCain also said that while he didn't "believe we should discriminate against anyone in the workplace," he didn't "think we need specific laws that would apply necessarily to people who are gay."
McCain has been criticized by many for "flip-flopping" on issues related to gay rights and abortion.
"In 1999, the 'moderate' version of John McCain said that overturning Roe v. Wade would be dangerous for women and he would not support it, even in 'the long term,'" the liberal blog Think Progress noted. "This morning on ABC, McCain  now aggressively courting the likes of Jerry Falwell  expressed his unequivocal support for overturning Roe v. Wade."
Excerpts from McCain's interview on ABC's This Week:

Excerpts from transcript of interview:

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning everyone. Proving that it's never too early for presidential politics, both Rudi Giuliani and John McCain set up exploratory campaign candidates this week. And we're joined this morning here in the studio by Senator McCain. Welcome back.

SEN. MCCAIN: Thanks George.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: So you're in South Carolina or Michigan talking to a county chairman, when he asks why should I support you over Rudi Giuliani? What do you say?

SEN. MCCAIN: My record. My record of being a conservative Republican of knowledge on national security and defense issues, my advocacy for less government is best government. And I think people should be judged on their record, but also their vision for the future of the country.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Mayor Giuliani describes himself as both pro-choice and pro-gay rights. Do you think someone with those positions can get the Republican nomination and effectively lead the Republican Party?

SEN. MCCAIN: I don't know. I know that he's an American hero. I know that Americans will never forget the magnificent job he did following 9/11, and I think that he would be favorably looked on by a lot of Americans.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I know you're not pro-choice. You're pro- life. Are you pro-gay rights?
SEN. MCCAIN: In the respect that I believe that the don't ask, don't tell policy is working in the military. I don't know how you view that. I do not believe that marriage between -- I believe in the sanctity and unique role of a marriage between man and woman. But I certainly don't believe in discriminating against any American.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: But on that don't ask, don't tell policy, the military now classifies homosexuals. They classify homosexuality as a defect. Do you agree with that?

SEN. MCCAIN: No, I don't think they do that.
(Cross talk.)

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: It actually is. Yes, they do right now.

SEN. MCCAIN: I don't think it's a "defect", but I do believe the don't ask, don't tell policy has been very effective. We've got the best military we've ever had in our all-volunteer force. So I think the policy is working.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: You say you believe that marriage should be reserved between a man and a woman.


MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: You voted for an initiative in Arizona that went beyond that and actually denied any government benefits to civil unions or domestic partnerships. Are you against civil unions for gay couples?

SEN. MCCAIN: No, I'm not. I -- but the -- that initiative I think was misinterpreted. I think that initiative did allow for people to join in legal agreements such as power of attorney and others. I think there was a -- I think that there was a difference of opinion on the interpretation of that constitutional amendment in Arizona.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: So you're for civil unions?

SEN. MCCAIN: No, I am for ability of two people -- I do not believe gay marriage should be legal. I do not believe gay marriage should be legal. But I do believe that people ought to be able to enter into contracts, exchange powers of attorney, other ways that people have relationships can enter into.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: You threw your support behind Trent Lott this week to be Republican Whip. Do -- he has said that homosexuality is a sin. Is that what you think?

SEN. MCCAIN: I have never heard Trent Lott state that. But no, that's not what I --

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: It's not your position?


MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: One final question on abortion. You're for --

SEN. MCCAIN: I just want to point out again; I believe that gay marriage should not be legal. Okay? But I don't believe that we should discriminate against any American because that's not the nature of America. Okay?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Does that extend then -- you should have -- do you believe then that there should be a law that bans discrimination against gays and lesbians in the workplace?

SEN. MCCAIN: No, I don't believe we should discriminate against anyone in the workplace, but I don't think we need specific laws that would apply necessarily to people who are gay.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me ask one question about abortion; then I want to turn to Iraq. You're for a constitutional amendment banning abortion with some exceptions for life and rape and incest.

SEN. MCCAIN: Rape, incest, and the life of the mother, yes.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: So was President Bush. Yet that hasn't advanced in the six years he's been in office. What are you going to do to advance a constitutional amendment that President Bush hasn't done?

SEN. MCCAIN: I don't think a constitutional amendment is probably going to take place. But I do believe that it's very likely or possible that a Supreme Court should -- could overturn Roe v. Wade, which would then return these decisions to the states, which I support that.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: And you'd be for that?

SEN. MCCAIN: Yes, because I'm a federalist, just as I believe that the issue of gay marriage should be decided by the states. So do I believe that we would be better off by having Roe v. Wade returned to the states. And I don't believe the Supreme Court should be legislating in the way that they did on Roe v. Wade.

The Rise and (Possible Fall) of John McCain

While few Republicans would claim that anything good came out of the 2006 Election, one key party member managed to gain quite a bit: Senator John McCain. Just three days after the Republicans lost control of Congress, McCain announced the creation of a 2008 Election “exploratory committee”--bank account and all. While the Senator from Arizona has long appeared interested in a 2008 bid, the committee is his most serious step yet. Then, on November 11th, Senator McCain stood before the Federalist Society and GOPAC (a key Republican political committee) to offer his interpretation of the recent election results. America had not embraced the Democrats, he said, but, rather, rejected the Republicans; the GOP had been complacent, financially reckless, power--hungry, overly partisan, and even “uncivil.” He then called for “common sense conservatism.” But McCain was not simply reflecting on current events. Rather, by diagnosing the Republicans’ illnesses, Sen. McCain had implicitly offered himself as the antidote.

In the span of just a few weeks, the “maverick” senator has charged to the forefront of the 2008 Republican contenders. But what can we really make of McCain’s chances to capture the 2008 Republican nomination? His popularity at this nascent stage is undeniable: 29% of Americans, according to a recent Pew Reasearch poll, want McCain to be the Republican nominee in 2008. He maintains the advantage over such big names as former-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Newt Gingrich, and Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. But the timing and scope of the poll does not tell the whole story.

McCain occupies a vulnerable moderate position that fully pleases neither Republicans nor Democrats. Most importantly, Senator McCain has not won the hearts of the very conservative branch of the Republican Party. His position on campaign finance reform, immigration, judicial nominations and some social issues – not to mention his positive relationship with much of the “elite liberal media” such as The New York Times and The Daily Show-- has made McCain a tough sell to many staunch conservatives. Recently, though, he has tried to remedy this situation by highlighting some of his conservative positions. McCain no doubt learned from 2000 that he must court the Right in order to win. He does not, for instance, support gay marriage (only a form of civil union), nor the abolition of the “don’t ask don’t tell” military policy. In May, he even addressed Rev. Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, reaching out to the very evangelical Christians that snubbed him in 2000 (His talk at Liberty, one of the most conservative universities in America, later prompted hostility at his speech to the New School, one of the nation’s most liberal universities). Moreover, he has also grown closer to President Bush, becoming a vocal advocate of the war in Iraq. McCain even helped Bush campaign in the last Presidential election.

Despite this steady drift to the Right, McCain’s main support still comes from independent and moderate voters. In 2000, his iconoclastically-titled bus, “The Straight Talk Express” seemed to strike a chord with the American people (or at least the American media). But much has changed in just eight years. Can he win over conservatives while maintaining his moderate base? That will ultimately be the question in the 2008 Election. Many moderate voters, for instance, likely approve of his role in “The Gang of 14” to create a moderate solution to the potentially messy judicial stand-off in 2005. On the other hand, many conservatives most likely do not look back fondly on his judicial compromise. Senator McCain has also called for the deployment of even more troops in Iraq in hopes of providing stability in that nation. While this agenda may please Bush supporters, will it appeal to an Iraq-wary America? Perhaps McCain’s more moderate and pragmatic brand of conservatism will ring true to voters tired from eight years of lofty moral rhetoric and epic abstract struggles. In the end, however, by trying to please everybody, McCain may end up pleasing nobody.

Finally, McCain’s personal life will become campaign fodder if he chooses to run. On the positive side, McCain’s status as war hero is widely admired. His five and a half year internment in Vietnam creates authoritativeness on defense issues that other politicians cannot compete with. Nonetheless, the Arizonan Senator has a few potential personal issues. Foremost among these problems is his age. McCain will turn 72 in 2008, making him the oldest Presidential candidate ever. Additionally, his history of melanoma seems to mark a poor state of health. Can we take the risk of a premature death in office? Additionally, McCain’s role in the Keating Five cannot be easily forgotten. Much speculation and criticism will no doubt arise concerning McCain’s improper acceptance of money in exchange for legal leniency during the late 1980’s (Ironically--or conveniently--the McCain-Feingold Act of 2002 was the first major campaign finance reform act following the Keating Five scandal). All these issues will be dragged out and hotly debated if McCain chooses to run.

So, in the aftermath of a massive Republican defeat, Senator McCain has managed to emerge from the rubble unscathed. Indeed, McCain has even emerged invigorated and emboldened. He has used the opportunity to define new goals and priorities for his weakened party. But will they stick? Has McCain become the new torch-bearer for the Republicans? Can he win over the hearts of the entire conservative spectrum? How much momentum can he maintain for the next year? There is no doubt that his new 2008 Election “exploratory committee” is asking these very same questions as we speak.


McCain rails Iran in speech at Yeshiva


December 11, 2006

Paying a visit to the home turf of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, potential rivals in the 2008 presidential race, Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain told a Jewish audience yesterday that Israel and the world are threatened by a "possibly deranged and surely dangerous regime" in Iran.

As the world's "chief state sponsor of international terrorism," Iran defines itself by its hostility to the Jewish state and its chief ally, the United States, McCain said in a speech at Yeshiva University.

He said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called the Holocaust a "myth," urged that Israel be "wiped off the map" and defied international demands and incentives to end a drive to gain nuclear weapons capability.

"It is simply tragic that millennia of proud Persian history have culminated in a government that today cannot be counted among the world's most civilized nations," McCain said.

The former Vietnam prisoner of war, who tried and failed to gain the GOP presidential nomination in 2000, is considered the probable front-runner for his party's nomination. His stiffest challenge could come first from Giuliani in a Republican primary, while Clinton has unofficially made clear her interest in leading the Democratic ticket.

McCain, who has urged President George W. Bush to increase the size of U.S. forces in Iraq, said that despite the "many serious mistakes we have made" and the continuing violence, the United States cannot simply "wash our hands of a messy situation."

As McCain spoke in New York, another 2008 Democratic potential, Sen. Barack Obama, sparked a frenzy during his initial visit to New Hampshire, but said he still hasn't decided whether to run and questioned whether all the hype was just part of his "15 minutes of fame." The Illinois senator said he is still "running things through the traps" as he considers whether to join a field of Democrats that's expected to include several more experienced political hands

McCain Bill Is Lethal Injection For Internet Freedom
Exploits fear of sexual predators and basic misunderstanding of Internet to attack blogs critical of the warmongering agenda he fronts for

Paul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet
Friday, December 15, 2006

Republican Senator John McCain has introduced legislation that would fine blogs up to $300,000 for offensive statements, photos and videos posted by visitors on comment boards, effectively nixing the open exchange of ideas on the Internet, providing a lethal injection for unrestrained opinion, and acting as the latest attack tool to chill freedom of speech on the world wide web.

McCain's proposal, called the "Stop the Online Exploitation of Our Children Act," encourages informants to shop website owners to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, who then pass the information on to the relevant police authorities.

Comment boards for specific articles are extremely popular and also notoriously hard to moderate. Popular articles often receive comments that run into the thousands over the course of time. In many cases, individuals hostile to the writer's argument deliberately leave obscene comments and images simply to sully the reputation of the website owners. Therefore under the terms of this bill, right-wing extremists from a website like Free Republic could effectively terminate a liberal leaning website like Raw Story by the act of posting a single photograph of a naked child. This precedent could be the kiss of death for blogs as we know them and its reverberations would negatively impact the entire Internet.

Under the banner of saving the children from sexual predators, McCain is obviously on a mission to stamp out the influence of the burgeoning blogosphere and its increasing hostility to the warmongering agenda that he fronts for.

"This constitutionally dubious proposal is being made apparently mostly based on fear or political considerations rather than on the facts," warns Kevin Bankston, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco.

McCain has publicly expressed his distaste for blogs in the past and this is why any protestation that he is simply aiming to "protect the children" with this legislation falls on deaf ears.

In a May 2006 speech at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, McCain attacked the blogosphere as a refuge of those only infatuated with self-expression. He was trying to minimize the importance of the last true outpost of freedom of speech, the Internet, and portray it as nothing more than a swap shop for egos and hyperbole.

So if the blogosphere is nothing more than a bulletin board for self-important know it alls, what possible threat could that be to young children? Where is the evidence that kids are being victimized by people who post comments on blogs?

There is no evidence but that doesn't really matter when you consider that a sizable portion of Congress critters who will be voting on this legislation if it comes to pass, don't even know what the Internet itself is (it's not a big truck), never mind how it's used. And then a sizable majority of the remaining House members probably hate the blogosphere as much as McCain, because it has replaced the lapdog mainstream media in acting as the 4th estate in muckraker reporting, anti-war protest, and holding public officials to task.

In reality, sexual predators have always confined their grooming to live chat rooms, or in the case of Republican pervert Mark Foley, instant messaging and PDA's. Pedophiles are never going to leave a record of their sordid advances on message boards because in most cases, their IP address and location can be obtained immediately from the server log. And as reported by C Net, "Studies by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children show the online sexual solicitation of minors has dropped in the past five years, despite the growth of social-networking services."

McCain's proposed bill is just another step in greasing the skids for Internet 2, a tightly controlled, regulated and privileged world wide web where government approval will be required just to run a blog.

In recent months, a chorus of propaganda intended to demonize the Internet and lead it down this path has spewed forth from numerous establishment organs.

- The White House's own recently de-classified strategy for "winning the war on terror" targets Internet conspiracy theories as a recruiting ground for terrorists and threatens to "diminish" their influence.

- The Pentagon recently announced its effort to infiltrate the Internet and propagandize for the war on terror.

- In a speech last month, Homeland Security director Michael Chertoff identified the web as a "terror training camp," through which "disaffected people living in the United States" are developing "radical ideologies and potentially violent skills." Chertoff pledged to dispatch Homeland Security agents to local police departments in order to aid in the apprehension of domestic terrorists who use the Internet as a political tool.

- In an interview with Fox News last month, Bush senior slammed Internet bloggers for creating an "adversarial and ugly climate."

- A landmark legal case on behalf of the Recording Industry Association of America and other global trade organizations seeks to criminalize all Internet file sharing of any kind as copyright infringement, effectively shutting down the world wide web - and their argument is supported by the U.S. government.

- The European Union, led by former Stalinist and potential future British Prime Minister John Reid, has also vowed to shut down "terrorists" who use the Internet to spread propaganda.


Friday, July 13, 2007

McCain says campaign is 'fine' but having 'difficult times'

CONCORD, N.H. – Senator John McCain says he takes all responsibility for the troubles his presidential campaign has encountered, but that there are “no excuses” and he feels confident that he can come back.

“I am confident we will be fine, but these are difficult times,” said McCain during an hour long interview on New Hampshire Public Radio this morning. “I can spend the next hour giving you excuses, but there is no excuse. I am confident that I can do what I do best, which are town hall meetings and meeting people face to face.”

McCain is making his first campaign appearance today since four of his top aides left the campaign and his campaign bank account balance diminishes to the range of some of the bottom-tier candidates in the race.

Associated Press
McCain Loses Two Iowa Strategists
By MIKE GLOVER 07.12.07, 1:06 PM ET
Two veteran Republican strategists are abandoning John McCain's campaign in Iowa, dealing another blow to his struggling presidential bid.

Ed Failor Jr., said Thursday that he and Karen Slifka plan to notify McCain by letter. Both are GOP operatives with deep ties in Iowa, which holds the first-in-the-nation caucuses, and national politics.

"As much as I like Senator McCain, it's not a team I'm willing to stay involved with any longer," Failor said.

Failor ran the field operation for President Bush's campaign in the state in 2004, assembling a deep campaign organization that energized social and religious conservatives. Bush narrowly won the state, the first time since 1984 that a Republican had prevailed in Iowa in the general election.

Failor also works for Iowans for Tax Relief, a conservative group that runs the state's largest political action committee.

Slifka came to the McCain campaign from her role as a strategist for the Republican National Committee.

Both had close ties to Terry Nelson, who served as McCain's campaign manager until his departure this week.

Zeidman quits McCain campaign


Jay Zeidman, a former White House Jewish liaison, quit the presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)

The departure of Zeidman, whose father Fred Zeidman was one the leading fundraisers for both of President Bush's campaigns, is another sign that the onetime frontrunner is faltering. McCain recently sacked most of his staff and his campaign is reportedly in debt. He has taken hits for loyalty to Bush during the debate on immigration reform and on the Iraq war.

"It has been an honor and a privilege to serve Senator McCain," Zeidman said in an email to friends and acquaintances. "I wish him nothing but success." Zeidman quit his White House post in January to join the McCain campaign.

His father, a lobbyist with offices in Texas and Washington, also backed McCain; it is unclear if he still does.

The defections are the latest sign of trouble for McCain in Iowa.

Jeff Lamberti, a former GOP legislative leader who is a co-chairman of McCain's Iowa campaign, said staff cuts in the state and the loss of major strategists is a blow.

"I'm not hearing a whole lot, to be honest," said Lamberti. "It definitely is tougher in Iowa. You need to be here, you need to have people on the ground."

When he sought the nomination in 2000, McCain skipped the Iowa caucuses to focus on the New Hampshire primary. There's no sign he'll make a similar decision this time, but even McCain's supporters concede he's in a difficult position.

If you reduce the staff, you need to have the senator out here more often, rather than less often," said David Roederer, a veteran operative heading up McCain's Iowa operation. "I believe they understand that."

Roederer was on a conference call with McCain earlier in the week to discuss strategy.

"What he said was we're going to move as aggressively as we can in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina," said Roederer, referring to the states holding the first three tests of strength.

Still, some wondered whether McCain could get backers out on caucus night, in the dead of winter, to argue politics. The caucuses are scheduled for Jan. 14.

"It's boots on the ground and they had that and they were going rather well, I thought, this winter and spring," said Chuck Laudner, executive director of the Republican Party of Iowa. "It just evaporated overnight on them."

Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

 Thursday, July 19, 2007 8:10:57 PM
Subject: McCain Loses It and Flees After 9/11 Truth Questions

Senator Refuses Demands for a New Investigation, Claims
"Additional Information" About 9/11 and Leaves Event Irritated and Angry

Aaron Dykes
Jones Report
Thursday July 19, 2007

Republican presidential candidate John McCain was literally overwhelmed by reporters from WeAreChange. org and seeking 9/11 truth during a campaign stop.

McCain, who wrote the forward to Popular Mechanics' Debunking 9/11 Myths, repeatedly told reporters, "I do not support a new investigation" and stated that he believes the "9/11 Commission did a good job."

But other reporters continued to hammer the complicit senator with further questions and demands for a new 9/11 investigation. Seemingly frustrated that he could not simply brush off 9/11 truthers, McCain retreated to his SUV where he entertained questions from the mainstream media only.

Staff members attempted to take away a bullhorn and remove alternative media from the site, but backed off at warnings not to assault the reporters or stifle the first amendment.

Reporters cited hundreds of witnesses, including police officers, firefighters and former janitor William Rodriguez, who all reported hearing bombs go off in the lower levels of the WTC towers-- accounts that contradict the basic findings of the 9/11 Commission.

McCain flatly told reporters that he did not support a new investigation and claimed to have "additional information, " stating that he did not believe there was a cover-up.

If such settling "additional information" indeed exists, John McCain has an obligation to share it-- though the mere fact that he has withheld information about 9/11 from the public seems to directly point to a cover-up.

Reporters also asked McCain about links with Ed Failor of Iowans for Tax Relief who hosted the recent televised forum for Republican presidential candidates and expressly left out Congressman Ron Paul.
John McCain admitted that Ed Failor was a paid staff member working for his campaign.

McCain wrote in Debunking 9/11 Myths, "Blaming some conspiracy within our government for the horrific attacks of September 11 mars the memories of all those lost on that day."

Yet when reporters emphasized the fact that it is family members of 9/11 victims who want a new investigation, McCain merely walks away.

http://www.prisonpl articles/ july2007/ 190707McCain. htm

  Christian Zionism

That was the second reminder that, although CUFI calls itself a "single-issue" organization, it comes wrapped in a Christian nationalist package. Its activists clapped and screamed when Hagee said John McCain "has a 24-year track record of being pro-life."

The attendees had other opportunities to express the powerful emotions underlying their activism during Sen. McCain's speech, and when Hagee took the stage to introduce him before the Talking Points briefing.

Hagee was greeted with a spontaneous standing ovation.

Before introducing McCain, Hagee read a statement "authorized" by CUFI's board deploring President Bush's Middle East peace initiative, announced on Monday. He read: "It is unfortunate that the President used the word "occupation" a term that is often used by Israel's enemies." The statement also admonished: "while many people of good will thought that trading land for peace would work, every concession by Israel has lead to advance terrorism."

In previous statements and interviews, Hagee has argued that the Bible demands that Israel maintain possession of all the territories it has seized in war.

The Forward reports that CUFI does not lobby on Israeli-Palestinian peace-making, since its position is at odds with the current position of Israel's lobby AIPAC.

In introducing McCain, Hagee said: "it has been my privilege to talk with McCain on several occasions...and I can tell you that he is solidly pro-Israel." That brought screams and applause from the audience.

John McCain speaks to Christians United For Israel

Arizona Sen. John McCain once shunned the religious right as "intolerant." These days, though, on the heels of a dismal fundraising quarter, McCain appears to be swinging into campaign overdrive in his quest for the Republican presidential nomination. His name did not appear in the CUFI program and he was shoe-horned into a Talking Points briefing.

A swarm of reporters that is following McCain around waiting for his campaign to implode crowded into the room.

McCain hit all the right notes for the CUFI audience. They applauded his support for the war in Iraq, which he described as "mismanaged" -- and which is sinking his campaign.

As he began, he said with the merest hint of a smile that it was "hard doing the Lord's work in the city of Satan."

McCain told the CUFI activists that Israel has never been so needful of their help and prayers. "God bless you for your commitment."

In closing, McCain, evidently assuming his audience was exclusively Christian, made a religious statement. It came at the end of a story he told about his time as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam.

He described how a guard once secretly loosened a rope holding him in a doubled-over position, then, at the end of his guard shift, tightened it again. Some months later, on Christmas day, McCain said, the guard approached him and quietly drew a cross in the dirt with his foot. (The audience sighed loudly.)

From this, McCain said, he drew the lesson: "No matter how difficult the times are, and these are difficult times ... there's always someone who's going to come along and draw a cross on the ground."

An audio clip of anecdote is here.

Excerpt from:

New Hampshire

From NBC's Lauren Appelbaum

McCain was interrupted no less than nine times while his supporters chanted for him ("Mac is Back," "USA," and "Michigan," to point out a few). To the delight of his supporters, McCain talked about his comeback status. "I'm past the age that I can claim the noun kid no matter what adjective precedes it, but tonight we sure showed them what a comeback looks like," McCain said at the Nashua Crowne Plaza, where he delivered his victory speech in 2000.
"When the pundits declared us finished, I told them, 'I'm going to New Hampshire, where the voters don't let you make their decision for them,'" McCain continued after a "Mac is Back" chant. "And when they asked, 'How are you going to do it? You're down in the polls. You don't have the money.' I answered, 'I'm going to New Hampshire, and I'm going to tell people the truth.'"
Before McCain approached the podium to speak, his campaign played "Hail to the Chief," although he entered to the theme from "Rocky." After basking in the glow of the his win, McCain got down to business -- telling voters exactly how he would act as their President.

"My friends, I didn't go to Washington to go along to get along or to play it safe to serve my own interests. I went there to serve my country," he said to loud applause and cheering. "And that, my friends, is just what I intend to do if I am so privileged to be elected your President."
Before concluding his speech, McCain told his supporters he plans to win again next week. "So, my friends, we celebrate one victory tonight and leave for Michigan tomorrow to win another." McCain left the speech to the song "Johnny Be Good."
After McCain finished speaking, a man wearing a boot on his head and a Chris Dodd sticker on his shirt went to the podium. Although we could not hear what he was saying, he was engaging the crowd. We are not sure how he got into the rally or what he was trying to accomplish.

McCain compiles list of running mates

By DAVID ESPO, AP Special Correspondent


ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Sen. John McCain has begun "getting together a list of names" to choose a vice presidential running mate and said Wednesday he hopes to announce his choice before the Republican convention in early September.

"I'd like to get it done as early as possible. I'm aware of enhanced importance of this issue given my age," said the Arizona senator, 71.

McCain wrapped up the Republican presidential nomination a month ago.

McCain told reporters his search for a running mate would take weeks if not months. At the prompting of aides, he said it was at an "embryonic stage" and added, "it's every name imaginable," about 20 in all.

He said his campaign had asked unnamed individuals to lead the effort, but had not heard back from them.

He said he wants to move quickly to make sure that there are no problems when he unveils his choice. He cited 1988, when George H.W. Bush named then-Sen. Dan Quayle to be his running mate.

"Quayle had not been briefed and prepared for some of the questions" that he would have to field, McCain said, without assigning any blame to Quayle himself.

Bush did not name Quayle until he reached his convention city in an effort to achieve the greatest element of surprise.

Speaking with reporters on his campaign bus, McCain did not offer any details of his search for a running mate.

"We just started this process of getting together a list of names and having them looked at," he said.

"If I had a personal preference I'd like to do it before the convention to avoid some of the mistakes that I've seen made in the past as you get into a time crunch and maybe sometimes don't make the announcement right or maybe they have not examined every single candidate."

McCain has given no hint of his thinking on a running mate, although he frequently speaks warmly of his former rivals for the nomination, particularly former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who traveled with the nominee-in-waiting last week. Among the other possible choices are several governors:

Minnesota's Tim Pawlenty
Florida's Charlie Crist
Mississippi's Haley Barbour
South Carolina's Mark Sanford
Utah's Jon Huntsman Jr

It's also possible that McCain could take a non-traditional route by looking to the business sector. For instance, he holds Frederick Smith, the head of FedEx, in high regard and frequently praises him. Another name that's been floated is Rob Portman of Ohio, a forer congressman who was one of President Bush's budget directors.

McCain made his comments on his way to the U.S. Naval Academy, where he graduated, to deliver the third in a string of speeches in a weeklong tour designed to reintroduce him to a wide, general election audience and remind them of his long military history.

First he stopped at Chick & Ruth's Delly where crab omelets are on the menu and local and state politicians have gathered down the street from the Maryland Statehouse for decades of breakfasts and shop talk. An American flag hangs over the counter with its five stools, and for nearly two decades, all business has come to a halt for a few seconds as the Pledge of Allegiance is recited.

In his speech on a wind-swept outdoor pavilion overlooking the naval academy football stadium, the one-time Vietnam prisoner of war issued a challenge.

"If you find faults with our country, make it a better one. If you are disappointed with the mistakes of government, join its ranks and work to correct them," he said.

He said he hopes more Americans will enlist in the military or run for office.

"But there are many public causes where your service can make our country a stronger, better one than we inherited. Wherever there is a hungry child, a great cause exists. ... Wherever there is suffering, a great cause exists."