Politics

MORE MATERIAL ON SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN



10 THINGS [and more!!] TO KNOW ABOUT JOHN McCAIN

For all the coverage this week of Senator John McCain's background, there are some important things you won't learn about him from the TV networks. His carefully crafted positive image relies on people not knowing this stuff--and you might be surprised by some of it.

Please check out the list below, and then forward it to your friends, family, and co-workers. We can't rely on the media to tell folks about the real John McCain--but if we all pass this along, we can reach as many people as CNN Headline News does on a good night.
10 things you should know about John McCain (but probably don't):

1. John McCain voted against establishing a national holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Now he says his position has "evolved," yet he's continued to oppose key civil rights laws.1

2. According to Bloomberg News, McCain is more hawkish than Bush on Iraq, Russia and China. Conservative columnist Pat Buchanan says McCain "will make Cheney look like Gandhi."2

3. His reputation is built on his opposition to torture, but McCain voted against a bill to ban waterboarding, and then applauded President Bush for vetoing that ban.3--

4. McCain opposes a woman's right to choose. He said, "I do not support Roe versus Wade. It should be overturned."4

5. The Children's Defense Fund rated McCain as the worst senator in Congress for children. He voted against the children's health care bill last year, then defended Bush's veto of the bill.5

6. He's one of the richest people in a Senate filled with millionaires. The Associated Press reports he and his wife own at least eight homes! Yet McCain says the solution to the housing crisis is for people facing foreclosure to get a "second job" and skip their vacations.6

7. Many of McCain's fellow Republican senators say he's too reckless to be commander in chief. One Republican senator [Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.)] said: "The thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine. He's erratic. He's hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me."7

8. McCain talks a lot about taking on special interests, but his campaign manager and top advisers are actually lobbyists. The government watchdog group Public Citizen says McCain has 59 lobbyists raising money for his campaign, more than any of the other presidential candidates.8

9. McCain has sought closer ties to the extreme religious right in recent years. The pastor McCain calls his "spiritual guide," Rod Parsley, believes America's founding mission is to destroy Islam, which he calls a "false religion." McCain sought the political support of right-wing preacher John Hagee, who believes Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment for gay rights and called the Catholic Church "the Antichrist" and a "false cult."9

10. He positions himself as pro-environment, but he scored a 0--yes, zero--from the League of Conservation Voters last year.10

John McCain is NOT who the Washington press corps make him out to be. Please help get the word out--forward this email to your personal network. And if you want us to keep you posted on MoveOn's work to get the truth out about John McCain, sign up here:
http://pol.moveon.org/mccaintruth/


Sources:
1. "The Complicated History of John McCain and MLK Day," ABC News, April 3, 2008
http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2008/04/the-complicated.html
" McCain Facts," ColorOfChange.org, April 4, 2008 http://colorofchange.org/mccain_facts/
2. "McCain More Hawkish Than Bush on Russia, China, Iraq," Bloomberg News, March 12, 2008
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=aF28rSCtk0ZM&refer=us
" Buchanan: John McCain 'Will Make Cheney Look Like Gandhi,'" ThinkProgress, February 6, 2008
http://thinkprogress.org/2008/02/06/buchanan-gandhi-mccain/
3. "McCain Sides With Bush On Torture Again, Supports Veto Of Anti-Waterboarding Bill," ThinkProgress, February 20, 2008
http://thinkprogress.org/2008/02/20/mccain-torture-veto/
4. "McCain says Roe v. Wade should be overturned," MSNBC, February 18, 2007
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17222147/
5. "2007 Children's Defense Fund Action Council® Nonpartisan Congressional Scorecard," February 2008
http://www.childrensdefense.org/site/PageServer?pagename=act_learn_scorecard2007
" McCain: Bush right to veto kids health insurance expansion," CNN, October 3, 2007
http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/03/mccain.interview/
6. "Beer Executive Could Be Next First Lady," Associated Press, April 3, 2008
http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5h-S1sWHm0tchtdMP5LcLywg5ZtMgD8VQ86M80
" McCain Says Bank Bailout Should End `Systemic Risk,'" Bloomberg News, March 25, 2008
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aHMiDVYaXZFM&refer=home
7. "Will McCain's Temper Be a Liability?," Associated Press, February 16, 2008
http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory?id=4301022
" Famed McCain temper is tamed," Boston Globe, January 27, 2008
http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2008/01/27/famed_mccain_temper_is_tamed/
8. "Black Claims McCain's Campaign Is Above Lobbyist Influence: 'I Don't Know What The Criticism Is,'" ThinkProgress, April 2, 2008
http://thinkprogress.org/2008/04/02/mccain-black-lobbyist/
" McCain's Lobbyist Friends Rally 'Round Their Man," ABC News, January 29, 2008
http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/story?id=4210251
9. "McCain's Spiritual Guide: Destroy Islam," Mother Jones Magazine, March 12, 2008
http://www.motherjones.com/washington_dispatch/2008/03/john-mccain-rod-parsley-spiritual-guide.html
" Will McCain Specifically 'Repudiate' Hagee's Anti-Gay Comments?," ThinkProgress, March 12, 2008
http://thinkprogress.org/2008/03/12/mccain-hagee-anti-gay/
" McCain 'Very Honored' By Support Of Pastor Preaching 'End-Time Confrontation With Iran,'" ThinkProgress, February 28, 2008
http://thinkprogress.org/2008/02/28/hagee-mccain-endorsement/
10. "John McCain Gets a Zero Rating for His Environmental Record," Sierra Club, February 28, 2008
http://www.alternet.org/blogs/environment/77913/




A few words on John McCain by a journalist who wrote a very positive book on McCain earlier in the decade:

Elizabeth Drew: “How John McCain lost me”

“ I have been a longtime admirer of John McCain. During the 2000 Republican presidential primaries I publicly defended McCain against the pro-Bush Republicans' whisper campaign that he was too unstable to be president (aware though I was that he had a temper). Two years later I published a positive book about him, Citizen McCain....

“ McCain's recent conduct of his campaign -- his willingness to lie repeatedly (including in his acceptance speech) and to play Russian roulette with the vice-presidency, in order to fulfill his long-held ambition -- has reinforced my earlier, and growing, sense that John McCain is not a principled man. In fact, it's not clear who he is.”


See also the views of other prominent Republicans who no longer endorse John McCain and Sarah Palin: Susan Eisenhower, C.C. Goldwater, Wick Allison, Christopher Buckley, Colin Powell, Andrew Sullivan, Lilibet Hagel, and Republican journalists like George Will, David Brooks, etc. For more, see:
http://loomisnews.wordpress.com/2008/10/10/more-republicans-for-obama-john-mccain-is-not-a-principled-man/

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Here is conservative pundit Andrew Sullivan’s top 10 reasons why any sane conservative should vote for Obama over McCain:

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2008/10/the-top-ten-rea.html

10. A body blow to racial identity politics. An end to the era of Jesse Jackson in black America.

9. Less debt. Yes, Obama will raise taxes on those earning over a quarter of a million. And he will spend on healthcare, Iraq, Afghanistan and the environment. But so will McCain. He plans more spending on health, the environment and won't touch defense or entitlements. And his refusal to touch taxes means an extra $4 trillion in debt over the massive increase presided over by Bush. And the CBO estimates that McCain's plans will add more to the debt over
four years than Obama's. Fiscal conservatives have a clear choice.

8. A return to realism and prudence in foreign policy. Obama has consistently cited the foreign policy of George H. W. Bush as his inspiration. McCain's knee-jerk reaction to the Georgian conflict, his commitment to stay in Iraq indefinitely, and his brinksmanship over Iran's nuclear ambitions make him a far riskier choice for conservatives. The choice between Obama and McCain is like the choice between George H.W. Bush's first term and George W.'s.

7. An ability to understand the difference between listening to generals and delegating foreign policy to them.

6. Temperament. Obama has the coolest, calmest demeanor of any president since Eisenhower. Conservatism values that kind of constancy, especially compared with the hot-headed, irrational impulsiveness of McCain.

5. Faith. Obama's fusion of Christianity and reason, his non-fundamentalist faith, is a critical bridge between the new atheism and the new Christianism.

4. A truce in the culture war. Obama takes us past the debilitating boomer warfare that has raged since the 1960s. Nothing has distorted our politics so gravely; nothing has made a rational politics more elusive.

3. Two words: President Palin.

2. Conservative reform. Until conservatism can get a distance from the big-spending, privacy-busting, debt-ridden, crony-laden, fundamentalist, intolerant, incompetent and arrogant faux conservatism of the Bush-Cheney years, it will never regain a coherent message to actually govern this country again. The survival of conservatism requires a temporary eclipse of today's Republicanism. Losing would be the best thing to happen to conservatism since 1964. Back then, conservatives lost in a landslide for the right reasons. Now, Republicans are losing in a landslide for the wrong reasons.

1. The War Against Islamist terror. The strategy deployed by Bush and Cheney has failed. It has failed to destroy al Qaeda, except in a country, Iraq, where their presence was minimal before the US invasion. It has failed to bring any of the terrorists to justice, instead creating the excrescence of Gitmo, torture, secret sites, and the collapse of America's reputation abroad. It has empowered Iran, allowed al Qaeda to regroup in Pakistan, made the next vast generation of Muslims loathe America, and imperiled our alliances. We need smarter leadership of the war: balancing force with diplomacy, hard power with better p.r., deploying strategy rather than mere tactics, and self-confidence rather than a bunker mentality.

Those conservatives who remain convinced, as I do, that Islamist terror remains the greatest threat to the West cannot risk a perpetuation of the failed Manichean worldview of the past eight years, and cannot risk the possibility of McCain making rash decisions in the middle of a potentially catastrophic global conflict. If you are serious about the war on terror and believe it is a war we have to win, the only serious candidate is Barack Obama.
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Here’s a shocking revelation of just a few really unsavory aspects of McCain’s private personality, a stark contrast to his “gentleman - statesman” image that he and the deferential media have created for McCain:
My Holiday with McCain, by Kathy Sreedhar [good exposé of McCain’s unloving personality]

It was just before John McCain's last run at the presidential nomination in 2000 that my husband and I vacationed in Turtle Island in Fiji with John McCain, Cindy, and their children, including Bridget (their adopted Bangladeshi child). It was not our intention, but it was our misfortune to be in close quarters with John McCain for almost a week since Turtle Island has a small number of bungalows and their focus on communal meals force all vacationers who are there at the same time to get to know each other intimately.

He arrived at our first group meal and started reading quotes from a pile of William Faulkner books with a forest of Post-Its sticking out of them. As an English Literature major myself, my first thought was if he likes this so much, why hasn't he memorized any of this yet? I soon realized that McCain actually thought we had come on vacation to be a volunteer audience for his readings which then became a regular part of each meal. Out of politeness, none of the vacationers initially protested at this intrusion into their blissful holiday, but people's buttons definitely got pushed as the readings continued day after day.

Unfortunately, this was not his only contribution to our mealtime entertainment. He waxed on during one meal about how Indo-Chine women had the best figures and that our American corn-fed women just couldn't meet up to this standard. He also made it a point that all of us should stop Cindy from having dessert as her weight was too high and made a few comments to Amy, the 25 year old wife of the honeymooning couple from Nebraska that she should eat less as she needed to lose weight. McCain's appreciation of the beauty of Asian women was so great that David the American economist had to move his Thai wife to the other side of the table from McCain as McCain kept aggressively flirting with and touching her.

Needless to say I was irritated at his large ego, and his rude behavior towards his wife and other women, but decided he must have some redeeming qualities as he had adopted a handicapped child from Bangladesh. I asked him about this one day and his response was shocking –“Oh, that was Cindy's idea, I didn't have anything to do with it. She just went and adopted this thing without even asking me. You can't imagine how people stare when I wheel this ugly, black thing around in a shopping cart in Arizona. No, it wasn't my idea at all.”

I actively avoided McCain after that, but unfortunately one day he engaged me in a political discussion which soon got us on the topic of the active US bombing of Iraq at that time. I was shocked when he said "if I was in charge, I would nuke Iraq to teach them a lesson." Given McCain's personal experience with the horrors of war I had expected a more balanced point of view. I commented on the tragic consequences of the nuclear attacks on Japan during WWII - but no, he was not to be dissuaded. He went on to say that if it was up to him he would have dropped many more nuclear bombs on Japan. I rapidly extricated myself from this conversation as I could tell that his experience being tortured as a POW didn't seem to have mellowed out his perspective but rather had made him more aggressive, and vengeful towards the world.

My final encounter with McCain was on the morning that he was leaving Turtle Island. Amy and I were happily eating pancakes when McCain arrived and told Amy that she shouldn't be having pancakes because she needed to lose weight. Amy burst into tears at this abusive comment. I felt fiercely protective of Amy and immediately turned to McCain and told him to leave her alone. He became very angry and abusive towards me, and said "don't you know who I am?" and I looked him in the face and said yes, you are the biggest asshole I have ever met and headed back to my cabin. I am happy to say that later that day when I arrived at lunch I was given a standing ovation by all the guests for having stood up to McCain's bullying.

Although I have shared my McCain story informally with friends, this is the first time I am making this public. I almost did so in 2000, when McCain first announced his bid for the Republican nomination but it soon became apparent that George Bush was the shoo-in candidate and so I did not act then. However, now that there is a very real possibility that McCain could be elected as our next president, I feel it is my duty as an American citizen to share this story. I can't imagine a more scary outcome for America than that this abusive, aggressive man should lead our nation. I have observed him in intimate surroundings as he really is, not how the media portrays him to be. If his attitudes toward women, and his treatment of his own family are even a small indicator of his real personality, then I shudder to think what will happen to America were he to be elected as our President.

Kathy Sreedhar, Director, UU Holdeen India Program
666 11th Street, NW, Suite 800, Washington , DC 20001
Telephone: 202.393.2255 x16 Fax: 202.393.5494

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October 10, 2008
A Buckley endorses Obama: Christopher Buckley, son of William F. Buckley, is backing Obama.
From CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

(CNN) — No, hell has not frozen over, but a Buckley is backing a Democrat for president. Christopher Buckley, the son of the late conservative icon William F. Buckley, said Friday he's decided to back Barack Obama's White House bid, the first time in his life he will vote Democrat. "It's a good thing my dear old mum and pup [sic] are no longer alive. They'd cut off my allowance," Buckley, a columnist for the conservative National Review, wrote on the Web site The Daily Beast
Friday.

Buckley, who praised McCain in a New York Times Op-Ed earlier this year and defended the Arizona senator's conservative credentials against wary talk-radio hosts, said McCain is no longer the "real" and "unconventional" man he once admired.

"This campaign has changed John McCain," Buckley wrote. "It has made him inauthentic. A once-first class temperament has become irascible and snarly; his positions change, and lack coherence; he makes unrealistic promises, such as balancing the federal budget 'by the end of my first term.' Who, really, believes that?

"Then there was the self-dramatizing and feckless suspension of his campaign over the financial crisis," Buckley added. "His ninth-inning attack ads are mean-spirited and pointless. And finally, not to belabor it, there was the Palin nomination. What on earth can he have been thinking?"

But Buckley made clear he's not just voting against McCain, praising Obama for his "first-class temperament and first-class intellect." "Obama has in him—I think, despite his sometimes airy-fairy 'We are the people we have been waiting for' silly rhetoric—the potential to be a good, perhaps even great leader. He is, it seems clear enough, what the historical moment seems to be calling for," Buckley wrote.
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From a traditionally right-of-center newspaper from Missouri:

Sunday editorial: Barack Obama for president
By: Editorial Board
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Nine Days before the Feb. 5 presidential primaries in Missouri and Illinois, this editorial page endorsed Barack Obama and John McCain in their respective races.

We did so enthusiastically. We wrote that either Mr. Obama's message of hope or Mr. McCain's independence and integrity offered America "the chance to turn the page on 28 years of contentious, greed-driven politics and move into a new era of possibility."

Over the past nine months, Mr. Obama, the junior senator from Illinois, has emerged as the only truly transformative candidate in the race. In the crucible that is a presidential campaign, his intellect, his temperament and equanimity under pressure consistently have been impressive. He has surrounded himself with smart, capable advisers who have helped him refine thorough, nuanced policy positions.

In a word, Mr. Obama has been presidential.

Meanwhile, Mr. McCain, the senior senator from Arizona, became the incredible shrinking man. He shrank from his principled stands in favor of a humane immigration policy. He shrank from his universal condemnation of torture and his condemnation of the politics of smear.

He even shrank from his own campaign slogan, "Country First," by selecting the least qualified running mate since the Swedenborgian shipbuilder Arthur Sewall ran as William Jennings Bryan's No. 2 in 1896.

In making political endorsements, this editorial page is guided first by the principles espoused by Joseph Pulitzer in The Post-Dispatch Platform printed daily at the top of this page. Then we consider questions of character, life experience and intellect, as well as specific policy and issue positions. Each member of the editorial board weighs in.

On all counts, the consensus was clear: Barack Obama of Illinois should be the next president of the United States.
We didn't know nine months ago that before Election Day, America would face its greatest economic challenge since the Great Depression. The crisis on Wall Street is devastating, but it has offered voters a useful preview of how the two presidential candidates would respond to a crisis.

Very early on, Mr. Obama reached out to his impressive corps of economic advisers and developed a comprehensive set of recommendations for addressing the problems. He set them forth calmly and explained them carefully.

Mr. McCain, a longtime critic of government regulation, was late to recognize the threat. The chief economic adviser of his campaign initially was former Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, who had been one of the architects of banking deregulation. When the credit markets imploded, Mr. McCain lurched from one ineffectual grandstand play to another. He squandered the one clear advantage he had over Mr. Obama: experience.

Mr. McCain first was elected to Congress in 1982 when Mr. Obama was in his senior year at Columbia University. Yet the younger man's intellectual curiosity and capacity -- and, yes, also the skills he developed as a community organizer and his instincts as a political conciliator -- more than compensate for his lack of more traditional Washington experience.

A presidency is defined less by what happens in the Oval Office than by what is done by the more than 3,000 men and women the president appoints to government office. Only 600 of them are subject to Senate approval. The rest serve at the pleasure of the president.

We have little doubt that Mr. Obama's appointees would bring a level of competence, compassion and intellectual achievement to the executive branch that hasn't been seen since the New Frontier. He has energized a new generation of Americans who would put the concept of service back in "public service."

Consider that while Mr. McCain selected as his running mate Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, a callow and shrill partisan, Mr. Obama selected Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware. Mr. Biden's 35-year Senate career has given him encyclopedic expertise on legislative and judicial issues, as well as foreign affairs.

The idea that 3,000 bright, dedicated and accomplished Americans would be joining the Obama administration to serve the public -- as opposed to padding their resums or shilling for the corporate interests they're sworn to oversee -- is reassuring. That they would be serving a president who actually would listen to them is staggering.

And the fact that Mr. Obama can explain his thoughts and policies in language that can instruct and inspire is exciting. Eloquence isn't everything in a president, but it is not nothing, either.

Experience aside, the 25-year difference in the ages of Mr. McCain, 72, and Mr. Obama, 47, is important largely because Mr. Obama's election would represent a generational shift. He would be the first chief executive in more than six decades whose worldview was not formed, at least in part, by the Cold War or Vietnam.

He sees the complicated world as it is today, not as a binary division between us and them, but as a kaleidoscope of shifting alliances and interests. As he often notes, he is the son of a Kenyan father and a mother from Kansas, an internationalist who yet acknowledges that America is the only nation in the world in which someone of his distinctly modest background could rise as far as his talent, intellect and hard work would take him.

Given the damage that has been done to America's moral standing in the world in the last eight years -- by a preemptory war, a unilateralist foreign policy and by policies that have treated both the Geneva Conventions and our own Bill of Rights as optional -- Mr. Obama's election would help America reclaim the moral high ground.

It also must be said that Mr. Obama is right on the issues. He was right on the war in Iraq. He is right that all Americans deserve access to health care and right in his pragmatic approach to meeting that goal. He is right on tax policy, infrastructure investment, energy policy and environmental issues. He is right on American ideals.

He was right when he said in his remarkable speech in March in Philadelphia that "In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world's great religions demand: that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother's keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister's keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well."

John McCain has served his country well, but in the end, he may have wanted the presidency a little too much, so much that he has sacrificed some of the principles that made him a heroic figure in war and in peace. In every way possible, he has earned the right to retire.

Finally, only at this late point do we note that Barack Obama is an African-American. Because of who he is and how he has run his campaign, that fact has become almost incidental to most Americans. Instead, his countrymen are weighing his talents, his values and his beliefs, judging him not by the color of his skin, but the content of his character.

That says something profound and good -- about him as a candidate and about us as a nation.
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Joe the Plumber? More like Joe the Keating Family Operative
By David Neiwert, Thursday Oct 16, 2008 8:59am

I guess it's no wonder John McCain was so happy to use "Joe the Plumber" as a debate prop last night -- he's a partisan Republican who also happens to be a member of McCain's old friends, the Keating family.

From Martin Eisenstadt:

Turns out that Joe Wurzelbacher from the Toledo event is a close relative of Robert Wurzelbacher of Milford, Ohio. Who’s Robert Wurzelbacher? Only Charles Keating’s son-in-law and the former senior vice president of American Continental, the parent company of the infamous Lincoln Savings and Loan. The now retired elder Wurzelbacher is also a major contributor to Republican causes giving well over $10,000 in the last few years.

Now I guess we know why Joe is telling the press that Obama is a "socialist" and that the Obama tax plan "infuriated" him. After all, it would hit families like the Keatings and their minions the hardest.

Not to mention that Obama's economic-recovery plan would put the crimps on influence peddlers like McCain's old friends, the Keating Five.


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Here’s another “insider’s” revelation on McCain’s disturbed personality:
I Spent Years as a POW with John McCain, and His Finger Should Not Be Near the Red Button

By Phillip Butler, Military.com
Posted on August 21, 2008, Printed on August 21, 2008
http://www.alternet.org/story/95825/
Doctor Phillip Butler is a 1961 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a former light-attack carrier pilot. In 1965 he was shot down over North Vietnam where he spent eight years as a prisoner of war. He is a highly decorated combat veteran who was awarded two Silver Stars, two Legion of Merits, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Heart medals. After his repatriation in 1973 he earned a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California at San Diego and became a Navy Organizational Effectiveness consultant. He completed his Navy career in 1981 as a professor of management at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. He is now a peace and justice activist with Veterans for Peace.

John McCain is a long-time acquaintance of mine that goes way back to our time together at the U.S. Naval Academy and as Prisoners of War in Vietnam. He is a man I respect and admire in some ways. But there are a number of reasons why I will not vote for him for President of the United States.

When I was a Plebe (4th classman, or freshman) at the Naval Academy in 1957-58, I was assigned to the 17th Company for my four years there. In those days we had about 3,600 midshipmen spread among 24 companies, thus about 150 midshipmen to a company. As fortune would have it, John, a First Classman (senior) and his room mate lived directly across the hall from me and my two room mates. Believe me when I say that back then I would never in a million or more years have dreamed that the crazy guy across the hall would someday be a Senator and candidate for President!

John was a wild man. He was funny, with a quick wit and he was intelligent. But he was intent on breaking every USNA regulation in our 4 inch thick USNA Regulations book. And I believe he must have come as close to his goal as any midshipman who ever attended the Academy. John had me "coming around" to his room frequently during my plebe year. And on one occasion he took me with him to escape "over the wall" in the dead of night. He had a taxi cab waiting for us that took us to a bar some 7 miles away. John had a few beers, but forbid me to drink (watching out for me I guess) and made me drink cokes. I could tell many other midshipman stories about John that year and he unbelievably managed to graduate though he spent the majority of his first class year on restriction for the stuff he did get caught doing. In fact he barely managed to graduate, standing 5th from the bottom of his 800 man graduating class. I and many others have speculated that the main reason he did graduate was because his father was an Admiral, and also his grandfather, both U.S. Naval Academy graduates.

People often ask if I was a Prisoner of War with John McCain. My answer is always "No - John McCain was a POW with me." The reason is I was there for 8 years and John got there 2 1/2 years later, so he was a POW for 5 1/2 years. And we have our own seniority system, based on time as a POW.

John's treatment as a POW:

1) Was he tortured for 5 years? No. He was subjected to torture and maltreatment during his first 2 years, from September of 1967 to September of 1969. After September of 1969 the Vietnamese stopped the torture and gave us increased food and rudimentary health care. Several hundred of us were captured much earlier. I got there April 20, 1965 so my bad treatment period lasted 4 1/2 years. President Ho Chi Minh died on September 9, 1969, and the new regime that replaced him and his policies was more pragmatic. They realized we were worth a lot as bargaining chips if we were alive. And they were right because eventually Americans gave up on the war and agreed to trade our POW's for their country. A damn good trade in my opinion! Butmy point here is that John allows the media to make him out to be THE hero POW, which he knows is absolutely not true, to further his political goals.

2) John was badly injured when he was shot down. Both arms were broken and he had other wounds from his ejection. Unfortunately this was often the case -- new POW's arriving with broken bones and serious combat injuries. Many died from their wounds. Medical care was non-existent to rudimentary. Relief from pain was almost never given and often the wounds were used as an available way to torture the POW. Because John's father was the Naval Commander in the Pacific theater, he was exploited with TV interviews while wounded. These film clips have now been widely seen. But it must be known that many POW's suffered similarly, not just John. And many were similarly exploited for political propaganda.

3) John was offered, and refused, "early release." Many of us were given this offer. It meant speaking out against your country and lying about your treatment to the press. You had to "admit" that the U.S. was criminal and that our treatment was "lenient and humane." So I, like numerous others, refused the offer. This was obviously something none of us could accept. Besides, we were bound by our service regulations, Geneva Conventions and loyalties to refuse early release until all the POW's were released, with the sick and wounded going first.

4) John was awarded a Silver Star and Purple Heart for heroism and wounds in combat. This heroism has been played up in the press and in his various political campaigns. But it should be known that there were approximately 600 military POW's in Vietnam. Among all of us, decorations awarded have recently been totaled to the following: Medals of Honor -- 8, Service Crosses -- 42, Silver Stars -- 590, Bronze Stars -- 958 and Purple Hearts -- 1,249. John certainly performed courageously and well. But it must be remembered that he was one hero among many -- not uniquely so as his campaigns would have people believe.

John McCain served his time as a POW with great courage, loyalty and tenacity. More that 600 of us did the same. After our repatriation a census showed that 95% of us had been tortured at least once. The Vietnamese were quite democratic about it. There were many heroes in North Vietnam. I saw heroism every day there. And we motivated each other to endure and succeed far beyond what any of us thought we had in ourselves. Succeeding as a POW is a group sport, not an individual one. We all supported and encouraged each other to survive and succeed. John knows that. He was not an individual POW hero. He was a POW who surmounted the odds with the help of many comrades, as all of us did.

I furthermore believe that having been a POW is no special qualification for being President of the United States. The two jobs are not the same, and POW experience is not, in my opinion, something I would look for in a presidential candidate.

Most of us who survived that experience are now in our late 60's and 70's. Sadly, we have died and are dying off at a greater rate than our non-POW contemporaries. We experienced injuries and malnutrition that are coming home to roost. So I believe John's age (73) and survival expectation are not good for being elected to serve as our President for 4 or more years.

I can verify that John has an infamous reputation for being a hot head. He has a quick and explosive temper that many have experienced first hand. Folks, quite honestly that is not the finger I want next to that red button.

It is also disappointing to see him take on and support Bush's war in Iraq, even stating we might be there for another 100 years. For me John represents the entrenched and bankrupt policies of Washington-as-usual. The past 7 years have proven to be disastrous for our country. And I believe John's views on war, foreign policy, economics, environment, health care, education, national infrastructure and other important areas are much the same as those of the Bush administration.

I'm disappointed to see John represent himself politically in ways that are not accurate. He is not a moderate Republican. On some issues he is a maverick. But his voting record is far to the right. I fear for his nominations to our Supreme Court, and the consequent continuing loss of individual freedoms, especially regarding moral and religious issues. John is not a religious person, but he has taken every opportunity to ally himself with some really obnoxious and crazy fundamentalist ministers lately. I was also disappointed to see him cozy up to Bush because I know he hates that man. He disingenuously and famously put his arm around the guy, even after Bush had intensely disrespected him with lies and slander. So on these and many other instances, I don't see that John is the "straight talk express" he markets himself to be.

Senator John Sidney McCain, III is a remarkable man who has made enormous personal achievements. And he is a man that I am proud to call a fellow POW who "Returned With Honor." That's our POW motto. But since many of you keep asking what I think of him, I've decided to write it out. In short, I think John Sidney McCain, III is a good man, but not someone I will vote for in the upcoming election to be our President of the United States.

--AlterNet is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed by its writers are their own.
© 2008 Military.com All rights reserved.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


www.cnn.com:80/2008/POLITICS/08/18/cafferty.mccain/index.html

Excerpts from Jack Cafferty, Commentary:
Is McCain Another George W. Bush?

CNN, Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2008
....Sen. John McCain takes weekends off and limits his campaign events to one a day. He made an exception for the religious forum on Saturday at Saddleback Church in Southern California.... [televised by CNN, wherein pastor and best-selling author Rick Warren interviewed Obama for an hour and then McCain for an hour].

It occurs to me that John McCain is as intellectually shallow as our current president. When asked what his Christian faith means to him, his answer was a one-liner. "It means I'm saved and forgiven." Great scholars have wrestled with the meaning of faith for centuries. McCain then retold a story we've all heard a hundred times about a guard in Vietnam drawing a cross in the sand.

Asked about his greatest moral failure, he cited his first marriage, which ended in divorce. While saying it was his greatest moral failing, he offered nothing in the way of explanation. Why not?

Throughout the evening, McCain chose to recite portions of his stump speech as answers to the questions he was being asked. Why? He has lived 71 years. Surely he has some thoughts on what it all means that go beyond canned answers culled from the same speech he delivers every day.

He was asked "if evil exists." His response was to repeat for the umpteenth time that Osama bin Laden is a bad man and he will pursue him to "the gates of hell." That was it....

One after another, McCain's answers were shallow, simplistic, and trite. He showed the same intellectual curiosity that George Bush has -- virtually none. Where are John McCain's writings exploring the vexing moral issues of our time? Where are his position papers setting forth his careful consideration of foreign policy, the welfare state, education, America's moral responsibility in the world, etc., etc., etc.?

John McCain graduated 894th in a class of 899 at the Naval Academy at Annapolis. His father and grandfather were four-star admirals in the Navy. Some have suggested that might have played a role in McCain being admitted. His academic record was awful. And it shows over and over again whenever McCain is called upon to think on his feet.

He no longer allows reporters unfettered access to him aboard the "Straight Talk Express" for a reason. He simply makes too many mistakes. Unless he's reciting talking points or reading from notes or a TelePrompTer, John McCain is lost. He can drop bon mots at a bowling alley or diner -- short glib responses that get a chuckle, but beyond that McCain gets in over his head very quickly.

I am sick and tired of the president of the United States embarrassing me....

George Bush's record as a student, military man, businessman and leader of the free world is one of constant failure. And the part that troubles me most is he seems content with himself. He will leave office with the country $10 trillion in debt, fighting two wars, our international reputation in shambles, our government cloaked in secrecy and suspicion that his entire presidency has been a litany of broken laws and promises, our citizens' faith in our own country ripped to shreds. Yet Bush goes bumbling along, grinning and spewing moronic one-liners, as though nobody understands what a colossal failure he has been.

I fear to the depth of my being that John McCain is just like him.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This piece was sent along to me by email; I don’t know the author of this op-ed, but the points made are quite cogent (I’ve made a few additions in parentheses [ ] just in case the irony is lost on those who can’t see the irony):

Subject: Racism and the election

Consider the following facts and deeply consider: What if things were switched around? What if the Obama-Biden ticket had the McCain-Palin background and vice versa. Think about it. Wouldn't the country's collective point of view be far different? And could a lurking racism possibly be the culprit here?
For instance...

What if the Obamas had [like the Palins] paraded five children across the stage following the debate, including a three month-old infant and an unwed, pregnant teenage daughter? (This one alone would have gotten Obama torn up in the media and country)

What if John McCain was the one who was a former president of the Harvard Law Review?

What if Barack Obama was the one who finished fifth from the bottom of his college graduating class [as McCain did]?

What if McCain had only married once [like Obama], and Obama had gotten divorced [as McCain did]?

What if Obama had met his second wife in a bar and had a long affair while he was still married [as McCain did]?

What if Michelle Obama was the wife who not only became addicted to pain killers but also acquired them illegally through her charitable organization? [as Cindy McCain did]

What if Cindy McCain was the one who graduated from Harvard [as Michelle Obama did]?

What if Obama had been [like McCain] a member of the Keating Five (the group of Senators who secretly met to lobby AGAINST regulation and FOR some very questionable investors like Charles Keating. The Keating Five U.S. Senators, including John McCain, were accused of corruption in 1989, igniting a major political scandal as part of the larger Savings and Loan crisis of the late 1980s and early 1990s....which ultimately cost millions of people their entire retirement accounts and cost the tax-payers hundreds of billions of dollars!)

What if Obama couldn't read from a teleprompter?

What if Obama was the one who had military experience that included discipline problems and a record of crashing several planes?

What if Obama was the one who was known to publicly display a serious anger management problem throughout his adult life?

What if Michelle Obama's family had made their money from beer distribution [as Cindy McCain's family did]?

You could easily add to this list. If these questions reflected a reality, if the tables were turned, do you really believe the election numbers would be as close as they presently are in this election?

This is what racism does. It covers up, rationalizes and minimizes qualities in one candidate and emphasizes negative characteristics in another when there is a color difference.

And, think of this - the candidates' educational backgrounds:

Barack Obama:
Columbia University - B. A. Political Science with a Specialization in
International Relations.
Harvard - Juris Doctor (J.D.) Magna Cum Laude

Joseph Biden:
University of Delaware - B. A. in History and B. A. in Political Science.
Syracuse University College of Law - Juris Doctor (J.D.)

John McCain:
United States Naval Academy - Class rank: 894 of 899

Sarah Palin:
Hawaii Pacific University - 1 semester
North Idaho College - 2 semesters - general study
University of Idaho - 2 semesters - journalism
Matanuska-Susitna College - 1 semester
University of Idaho - 3 semesters - B. A. in Journalism

Education isn't everything, but this is about the two highest offices in the land as well as our standing in the world.

You make the call.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

McCain’s terrible role in vigorously pounding the drums to the disastrous war in Iraq

Published on Monday, August 18, 2008 by The Nation
McCain, Circa 2003

by Robert Dreyfuss

There's yet to be a solid, point-by-point effort to expose John McCain's pre-2003 views on Iraq, when (along with his neocon advisers and cheerleaders) he led the charge to Baghdad. Barack Obama, so concerned about how to end the war in Iraq, seems to have forgotten the importance of questioning how it began, especially McCain's pernicious role.

In today's Times, under the headline "Broad Response to 9/11 Offers Outline of a McCain Doctrine," appears a sketchy but useful reminder of McCain's pre-2003 irrational exuberance for war. (As a broader piece on McCain's so-called "doctrine," the article falls flat. There are better pieces on that score, including two authored by yours truly for The Nation, one published in 1999 and the second earlier this year.)

Here's the lead of the Times piece, showing McCain in full jingoistic, damn-the-torpedos mode:
Senator John McCain arrived late at his Senate office on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, just after the first plane hit the World Trade Center. "This is war," he murmured to his aides. The sound of scrambling fighter planes rattled the windows, sending a tremor of panic through the room.

Within hours, Mr. McCain, the Vietnam War hero and famed straight talker of the 2000 Republican primary, had taken on a new role: the leading advocate of taking the American retaliation against Al Qaeda far beyond Afghanistan. In a marathon of television and radio appearances, Mr. McCain recited a short list of other countries said to support terrorism, invariably including Iraq, Iran and Syria.

"There is a system out there or network, and that network is going to have to be attacked," Mr. McCain said the next morning on ABC News. "It isn't just Afghanistan," he added, on MSNBC. "I don't think if you got bin Laden tomorrow that the threat has disappeared," he said on CBS, pointing toward other countries in the Middle East.

Within a month he made clear his priority. "Very obviously Iraq is the first country," he declared on CNN. By Jan. 2, Mr. McCain was on the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt in the Arabian Sea, yelling to a crowd of sailors and airmen: "Next up, Baghdad!" As the Times notes, "While pushing to take on Saddam Hussein, Mr. McCain also made arguments and statements that he may no longer wish to recall." It adds:

He lauded the war planners he would later criticize, including Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney. (Mr. McCain even volunteered that he would have given the same job to Mr. Cheney.) He urged support for the later-discredited Iraqi exile Ahmad Chalabi's opposition group, the Iraqi National Congress, and echoed some of its suspect accusations in the national media. And he advanced misleading assertions not only about Mr. Hussein's supposed weapons programs but also about his possible ties to international terrorists, Al Qaeda and the Sept. 11 attacks.

McCain had adopted the neocon doctrine of rogue-state rollback, and he hammered away at that after 9/11 arguing that the United States should go on the offensive as a warning to any other country that might condone such an attack. "These networks are well-embedded in some of these countries," Mr. McCain said on Sept. 12, listing Iraq, Iran and Syria as potential targets of United States pressure. "We're going to have to prove to them that we are very serious, and the price that they will pay will not only be for punishment but also deterrence."

So much for McCain's good judgment. It's wrong even to imply that McCain's disjointed thoughts amount to a doctrine, unless that doctine is: "Kill them all!" The Times also references McCain's near-psychotic readiness to blame Iraq even for the 2001 anthrax attacks, concerning which he said on TV: "Some of this anthrax may -- and I emphasize may -- have come from Iraq."

Robert Dreyfuss, a Nation contributing editor, is an investigative journalist in Alexandria, Virginia, specializing in politics and national security. He is the author of Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam and is a frequent contributor to Rolling Stone, The American Prospect, and Mother Jones.
Copyright © 2008 The Nation
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And here’s how McCain treated his left-behind POWs in Vietnam…

McCain and the POW Cover-up: The "war hero" candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam

Research support provided by the Investigative Fund of The Nation Institute. This is an expanded version, with primary documents attached, of a storythat appears in the October 6, 2008 issue of The Nation.

By Sydney H. Schanberg
September 18, 2008

http://www.nationinstitute.org:80/p/schanberg09182008pt1

John McCain, who has risen to political prominence on his image as a Vietnam POW war hero, has, inexplicably, worked very hard to hide from the public stunning information about American prisoners in Vietnam who, unlike him, didn't return home. Throughout his Senate career, McCain has quietly sponsored and pushed into federal law a set of prohibitions that keep the most revealing information about these men buried as classified documents. Thus the war hero who people would logically imagine as a determined crusader for the interests of POWs and their families became instead the strange champion of hiding the evidence and closing the books.

Almost as striking is the manner in which the mainstream press has shied from reporting the POW story and McCain's role in it, even as the Republican Party has made McCain's military service the focus of his presidential campaign. Reporters who had covered the Vietnam War turned their heads and walked in other directions. McCain doesn't talk about the missing men, and the press never asks him about them.

The sum of the secrets McCain has sought to hide is not small. There exists a telling mass of official documents, radio intercepts, witness depositions, satellite photos of rescue symbols that pilots were trained to use, electronic messages from the ground containing the individual code numbers given to airmen, a rescue mission by a special forces unit that was aborted twice by Washington—and even sworn testimony by two Defense secretaries that "men were left behind." This imposing body of evidence suggests that a large number—the documents indicate probably hundreds—of the US prisoners held by Vietnam were not returned when the peace treaty was signed in January 1973 and Hanoi released 591 men, among them Navy combat pilot John S. McCain.

Mass of Evidence--The Pentagon had been withholding significant information from POW families for years. What's more, the Pentagon's POW/MIA operation had been publicly shamed by internal whistleblowers and POW families for holding back documents as part of a policy of "debunking" POW intelligence even when the information was obviously credible.

The pressure from the families and Vietnam veterans finally forced the creation, in late 1991, of a Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs. The chairman was John Kerry. McCain, as a former POW, was its most pivotal member. In the end, the committee became part of the debunking machine.

One of the sharpest critics of the Pentagon's performance was an insider, Air Force Lieut. Gen. Eugene Tighe, who headed the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) during the 1970s. He openly challenged the Pentagon's position that no live prisoners existed, saying that the evidence proved otherwise. McCain was a bitter opponent of Tighe, who was eventually pushed into retirement.

Included in the evidence that McCain and his government allies suppressed or sought to discredit is a transcript of a senior North Vietnamese general's briefing of the Hanoi politburo, discovered in Soviet archives by an American scholar in 1993. The briefing took place only four months before the 1973 peace accords. The general, Tran Van Quang, told the politburo members that Hanoi was holding 1,205 American prisoners but would keep many of them at war's end as leverage to ensure getting war reparations from Washington.

Throughout the Paris negotiations, the North Vietnamese tied the prisoner issue tightly to the issue of reparations. They were adamant in refusing to deal with them separately. Finally, in a February 2, 1973, formal letter to Hanoi's premier, Pham Van Dong, Nixon pledged $3.25 billion in "postwar reconstruction" aid "without any political conditions." But he also attached to the letter a codicil that said the aid would be implemented by each party "in accordance with its own constitutional provisions." That meant Congress would have to approve the appropriation, and Nixon and Kissinger knew well that Congress was in no mood to do so. The North Vietnamese, whether or not they immediately understood the double-talk in the letter, remained skeptical about the reparations promise being honored - and it never was. Hanoi thus appears to have held back prisoners—just as it had done when the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu in 1954 and withdrew their forces from Vietnam. In that case, France paid ransoms for prisoners and brought them home.

In a private briefing in 1992, high-level CIA officials told me that as the years passed and the ransom never came, it became more and more difficult for either government to admit that it knew from the start about the unacknowledged prisoners. Those prisoners had not only become useless as bargaining chips but also posed a risk to Hanoi's desire to be accepted into the international community. The CIA officials said their intelligence indicated strongly that the remaining men—those who had not died from illness or hard labor or torture—were eventually executed.

My own research, detailed below, has convinced me that it is not likely that more than a few—if any—are alive in captivity today. (That CIA briefing at the agency's Langley, Virginia, headquarters was conducted "off the record," but because the evidence from my own reporting since then has brought me to the same conclusion, I felt there was no longer any point in not writing about the meeting.)

For many reasons, including the absence of a political constituency for the missing men other than their families and some veterans' groups, very few Americans are aware of the POW story and of McCain's role in keeping it out of public view and denying the existence of abandoned POWs. That is because McCain has hardly been alone in his campaign to hide the scandal.

The Arizona Senator, now the Republican candidate for President, has actually been following the lead of every White House since Richard Nixon's and thus of every CIA director, Pentagon chief and national security advisor, not to mention Dick Cheney, who was George H. W. Bush's defense secretary. Their biggest accomplice has been an indolent press, particularly in Washington.

McCain's Role --An early and critical McCain secrecy move involved 1990 legislation that started in the House of Representatives. A brief and simple document, it was called "the Truth Bill" and would have compelled complete transparency about prisoners and missing men. Its core sentence reads: "[The] head of each department or agency which holds or receives any records and information, including live-sighting reports, which have been correlated or possibly correlated to United States personnel listed as prisoner of war or missing in action from World War II, the Korean conflict and the Vietnam conflict, shall make available to the public all such records held or received by that department or agency."

Bitterly opposed by the Pentagon (and thus McCain), the bill went nowhere. Reintroduced the following year, it again disappeared. But a few months later, a new measure, known as "the McCain Bill," suddenly appeared. By creating a bureaucratic maze from which only a fraction of the documents could emerge—only records that revealed no POW secrets—it turned the Truth Bill on its head. (See one example, at left, when the Pentagon cited McCain's bill in rejecting a FOIA request.) The McCain bill became law in 1991 and remains so today. So crushing to transparency are its provisions that it actually spells out for the Pentagon and other agencies several rationales, scenarios and justifications for not releasing any information at all—even about prisoners discovered alive in captivity. Later that year, the Senate Select Committee was created, where Kerry and McCain ultimately worked together to bury evidence.

McCain was also instrumental in amending the Missing Service Personnel Act, which had been strengthened in 1995 by POW advocates to include criminal penalties, saying: "Any government official who knowingly and willfully withholds from the file of a missing person any information relating to the disappearance or whereabouts and status of a missing person shall be fined as provided in Title 18 or imprisoned not more than one year or both." A year later, in a closed House-Senate conference on an unrelated military bill, McCain, at the behest of the Pentagon, attached a crippling amendment to the act, stripping out its only enforcement teeth, the criminal penalties, and reducing the obligations of commanders in the field to speedily search for missing men and to report the incidents to the Pentagon.

About the relaxation of POW/MIA obligations on commanders in the field, a public McCain memo said: "This transfers the bureaucracy involved out of the [battle] field to Washington." He wrote that the original legislation, if left intact, "would accomplish nothing but create new jobs for lawyers and turn military commanders into clerks."

McCain argued that keeping the criminal penalties would have made it impossible for the Pentagon to find staffers willing to work on POW/MIA matters. That's an odd argument to make. Were staffers only "willing to work" if they were allowed to conceal POW records? By eviscerating the law, McCain gave his stamp of approval to the government policy of debunking the existence of live POWs.

McCain has insisted again and again that all the evidence—documents, witnesses, satellite photos, two Pentagon chiefs' sworn testimony, aborted rescue missions, ransom offers apparently scorned—has been woven together by unscrupulous deceivers to create an insidious and unpatriotic myth. He calls it the "bizarre rantings of the MIA hobbyists." He has regularly vilified those who keep trying to pry out classified documents as "hoaxers," charlatans," "conspiracy theorists" and "dime-store Rambos."

Some of McCain's fellow captives at Hoa Lo prison in Hanoi didn't share his views about prisoners left behind. Before he died of leukemia in 1999, retired Col. Ted Guy, a highly admired POW and one of the most dogged resisters in the camps, wrote an angry open letter to the senator in an MIA newsletter—a response to McCain's stream of insults hurled at MIA activists. Guy wrote: "John, does this [the insults] include Senator Bob Smith [a New Hampshire Republican and activist on POW issues] and other concerned elected officials? Does this include the families of the missing where there is overwhelming evidence that their loved ones were 'last known alive'? Does this include some of your fellow POWs?"

It's not clear whether the taped confession McCain gave to his captors to avoid further torture has played a role in his post-war behavior in the Senate. That confession was played endlessly over the prison loudspeaker system at Hoa Lo—to try to break down other prisoners—and was broadcast over Hanoi's state radio. Reportedly, he confessed to being a war criminal who had bombed civilian targets. The Pentagon has a copy of the confession but will not release it. Also, no outsider I know of has ever seen a non-redacted copy of the debriefing of McCain when he returned from captivity, which is classified but could be made public by McCain. (See the Pentagon's rejection of my attempt to obtain records of this debriefing, at left.)

All humans have breaking points. Many men undergoing torture give confessions, often telling huge lies so their fakery will be understood by their comrades and their country. Few will fault them. But it was McCain who apparently felt he had disgraced himself and his military family. His father, John S. McCain II, was a highly regarded rear admiral then serving as commander of all US forces in the Pacific. His grandfather was also a rear admiral.

In his bestselling 1999 autobiography, Faith of My Fathers, McCain says he felt bad throughout his captivity because he knew he was being treated more leniently than his fellow POWs, owing to his high-ranking father and thus his propaganda value. Other prisoners at Hoa Lo say his captors considered him a prize catch and called him the "Crown Prince," something McCain acknowledges in the book.

Also in this memoir, McCain expresses guilt at having broken under torture and given the confession. "I felt faithless and couldn't control my despair," he writes, revealing that he made two "feeble" attempts at suicide. (In later years, he said he tried to hang himself with his shirt and guards intervened.) Tellingly, he says he lived in "dread" that his father would find out about the confession. "I still wince," he writes, "when I recall wondering if my father had heard of my disgrace."

He says that when he returned home, he told his father about the confession, but "never discussed it at length"—and the Admiral, who died in 1981, didn't indicate he had heard anything about it before. But he had. In the 1999 memoir, the senator writes: "I only recently learned that the tape...had been broadcast outside the prison and had come to the attention of my father."

Is McCain haunted by these memories? Does he suppress POW information because its surfacing would rekindle his feelings of shame? On this subject, all I have are questions.

Many stories have been written about McCain's explosive temper, so volcanic that colleagues are loathe to speak openly about it. One veteran congressman who has observed him over the years asked for confidentiality and made this brief comment: "This is a man not at peace with himself."

He was certainly far from calm on the Senate POW committee. He browbeat expert witnesses who came with information about unreturned POWs. Family members who have personally faced McCain and pressed him to end the secrecy also have been treated to his legendary temper. He has screamed at them, insulted them, brought women to tears. Mostly his responses to them have been versions of: How dare you question my patriotism? In 1996, he roughly pushed aside a group of POW family members who had waited outside a hearing room to appeal to him, including a mother in a wheelchair.

But even without answers to what may be hidden in the recesses of McCain's mind, one thing about the POW story is clear: If American prisoners were dishonored by being written off and left to die, that's something the American public ought to know about.

10 Key Pieces of Evidence That Men Were Left Behind [see rest of story at website for the long detailed analysis].

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Sunday 28 September 2008
www.truthout.org:80/092808A
McCain and Team Have Many Ties to Gambling Industry
by: Jo Becker and Don Van Natta Jr., The New York Times
photo
Senator John McCain's close ties to the gambling industry highlight the casino lobby's influence on the Senator, as well as his involvement in pushing through gambling legislation and overhauling the Indian gambling law. (Illustration: ABC News)

Senator John McCain was on a roll. In a room reserved for high-stakes gamblers at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut, he tossed $100 chips around a hot craps table. When the marathon session ended around 2:30 a.m., the Arizona senator and his entourage emerged with thousands of dollars in winnings.

A lifelong gambler, Mr. McCain takes risks, both on and off the craps table. He was throwing dice that night not long after his failed 2000 presidential bid, in which he was skewered by the Republican Party's evangelical base, opponents of gambling. Mr. McCain was betting at a casino he oversaw as a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, and he was doing so with the lobbyist who represents that casino, according to three associates of Mr. McCain.

The visit had been arranged by the lobbyist, Scott Reed, who works for the Mashantucket Pequot, a tribe that has contributed heavily to Mr. McCain's campaigns and built Foxwoods into the world's second-largest casino. Joining them was Rick Davis, Mr. McCain's current campaign manager. Their night of good fortune epitomized not just Mr. McCain's affection for gambling, but also the close relationship he has built with the gambling industry and its lobbyists during his 25-year career in Congress.

As a two-time chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, Mr. McCain has done more than any other member of Congress to shape the laws governing America's casinos, helping to transform the once-sleepy Indian gambling business into a $26-billion-a-year behemoth with 423 casinos across the country. He has won praise as a champion of economic development and self-governance on reservations.

"One of the founding fathers of Indian gaming" is what Steven Light, a University of North Dakota professor and a leading Indian gambling expert, called Mr. McCain.

As factions of the ferociously competitive gambling industry have vied for an edge, they have found it advantageous to cultivate a relationship with Mr. McCain or hire someone who has one, according to an examination based on more than 70 interviews and thousands of pages of documents.

Mr. McCain portrays himself as a Washington maverick unswayed by special interests, referring recently to lobbyists as "birds of prey." Yet in his current campaign, more than 40 fund-raisers and top advisers have lobbied or worked for an array of gambling interests - including tribal and Las Vegas casinos, lottery companies and online poker purveyors.

When rules being considered by Congress threatened a California tribe's planned casino in 2005, Mr. McCain helped spare the tribe. Its lobbyist, who had no prior experience in the gambling industry, had a nearly 20-year friendship with Mr. McCain.

In Connecticut that year, when a tribe was looking to open the state's third casino, staff members on the Indian Affairs Committee provided guidance to lobbyists representing those fighting the casino, e-mail messages and interviews show. The proposed casino, which would have cut into the Pequots' market share, was opposed by Mr. McCain's colleagues in Connecticut.

Mr. McCain declined to be interviewed. In written answers to questions, his campaign staff said he was "justifiably proud" of his record on regulating Indian gambling. "Senator McCain has taken positions on policy issues because he believed they are in the public interest," the campaign said.

Mr. McCain's spokesman, Tucker Bounds, would not discuss the senator's night of gambling at Foxwoods, saying: "Your paper has repeatedly attempted to insinuate impropriety on the part of Senator McCain where none exists - and it reveals that your publication is desperately willing to gamble away what little credibility it still has."

Over his career, Mr. McCain has taken on special interests, like big tobacco, and angered the capital's powerbrokers by promoting campaign finance reform and pushing to limit gifts that lobbyists can shower on lawmakers. On occasion, he has crossed the gambling industry on issues like regulating slot machines.

Perhaps no episode burnished Mr. McCain's image as a reformer more than his stewardship three years ago of the Congressional investigation into Jack Abramoff, the disgraced Republican Indian gambling lobbyist who became a national symbol of the pay-to-play culture in Washington. The senator's leadership during the scandal set the stage for the most sweeping overhaul of lobbying laws since Watergate.

"I've fought lobbyists who stole from Indian tribes," the senator said in his speech accepting the Republican presidential nomination this month.

But interviews and records show that lobbyists and political operatives in Mr. McCain's inner circle played a behind-the-scenes role in bringing Mr. Abramoff's misdeeds to Mr. McCain's attention - and then cashed in on the resulting investigation. The senator's longtime chief political strategist, for example, was paid $100,000 over four months as a consultant to one tribe caught up in the inquiry, records show.

Mr. McCain's campaign said the senator acted solely to protect American Indians, even though the inquiry posed "grave risk to his political interests."

As public opposition to tribal casinos has grown in recent years, Mr. McCain has distanced himself from Indian gambling, Congressional and American Indian officials said. But he has rarely wavered in his loyalty to Las Vegas, where he counts casino executives among his close friends and most prolific fund-raisers. "Beyond just his support for gaming, Nevada supports John McCain because he's one of us, a Westerner at heart," said Sig Rogich, a Nevada Republican kingmaker who raised nearly $2 million for Mr. McCain at an event at his home in June.

Only six members of Congress have received more money from the gambling industry than Mr. McCain, and five hail from the casino hubs of Nevada and New Jersey, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics dating back to 1989. In the presidential race, Senator Barack Obama has also received money from the industry; Mr. McCain has raised almost twice as much.

In May 2007, as Mr. McCain's presidential bid was floundering, he spent a weekend at the MGM Grand on the Las Vegas strip. A fund-raiser hosted by J. Terrence Lanni, the casino's top executive and a longtime friend of the senator, raised $400,000 for his campaign. Afterward, Mr. McCain attended a boxing match and hit the craps tables.

For much of his adult life, Mr. McCain has gambled as often as once a month, friends and associates said, traveling to Las Vegas for weekend betting marathons. Former senior campaign officials said they worried about Mr. McCain's patronage of casinos, given the power he wields over the industry. The officials, like others interviewed for this article, spoke on condition of anonymity.

"We were always concerned about appearances," one former official said. "If you go around saying that appearances matter, then they matter." The former official said he would tell Mr. McCain: "Do we really have to go to a casino? I don't think it's a good idea. The base doesn't like it. It doesn't look good. And good things don't happen in casinos at midnight." "You worry too much," Mr. McCain would respond, the official said.

A Record of Support

In one of their last conversations, Representative Morris K. Udall, Arizona's powerful Democrat, whose devotion to American Indian causes was legendary, implored his friend Mr. McCain to carry on his legacy. "Don't forget the Indians," Mr. Udall, who died in 1998, told Mr. McCain in a directive that the senator has recounted to others.

More than a decade earlier, Mr. Udall had persuaded Mr. McCain to join the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. Mr. McCain, whose home state has the third-highest Indian population, eloquently decried the "grinding poverty" that gripped many reservations.

The two men helped write the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 after the Supreme Court found that states had virtually no right to control wagering on reservations. The legislation provided a framework for the oversight and growth of Indian casinos: In 1988, Indian gambling represented less than 1 percent of the nation's gambling revenues; today it captures more than one third.

On the Senate floor after the bill's passage, Mr. McCain said he personally opposed Indian gambling, but when impoverished communities "are faced with only one option for economic development, and that is to set up gambling on their reservations, then I cannot disapprove."

In 1994, Mr. McCain pushed an amendment that enabled dozens of additional tribes to win federal recognition and open casinos. And in 1998, Mr. McCain fought a Senate effort to rein in the boom.

He also voted twice in the last decade to give casinos tax breaks estimated to cost the government more than $326 million over a dozen years. The first tax break benefited the industry in Las Vegas, one of a number of ways Mr. McCain has helped nontribal casinos. Mr. Lanni, the MGM Mirage chief executive, said that an unsuccessful bid by the senator to ban wagering on college sports in Nevada was the only time he could recall Mr. McCain opposing Las Vegas. "I can't think of any other issue," Mr. Lanni said.

The second tax break helped tribal casinos like Foxwoods and was pushed by Scott Reed, the Pequots' lobbyist. Mr. McCain had gotten to know Mr. Reed during Senator Bob Dole's 1996 presidential campaign, which Mr. Reed managed. Four years later, when Mr. McCain ran for president, Mr. Reed recommended he hire his close friend and protégé, Rick Davis, to manage that campaign.

During his 2000 primary race against George W. Bush, Mr. McCain promoted his record of helping Indian Country, telling reporters on a campaign swing that he had provided critical support to "the Pequot, now the proud owners of the largest casino in the world."

But Mr. McCain's record on Indian gambling was fast becoming a difficult issue for him in the primary. Bush supporters like Gov. John Engler of Michigan lambasted Mr. McCain for his "close ties to Indian gambling."

A decade after Mr. McCain co-authored the Indian gambling act, the political tides had turned. Tribal casinos, which were growing at a blazing pace, had become increasingly unpopular around the country for reasons as varied as morality and traffic.

Then came the biggest lobbying scandal to shake Washington.

Behind an Inquiry

At a September 2004 hearing of the Indian Affairs Committee, Mr. McCain described Jack Abramoff as one of the most brazen in a long line of crooks to cheat American Indians. "It began with the sale of Manhattan, and has continued ever since," he said. "What sets this tale apart, what makes it truly extraordinary, is the extent and degree of the apparent exploitation and deceit."

Over the next two years, Mr. McCain helped uncover a breathtaking lobbying scandal - Mr. Abramoff and a partner bilked six tribes of $66 million - that showcased the senator's willingness to risk the wrath of his own party to expose wrongdoing. But interviews and documents show that Mr. McCain and a circle of allies - lobbyists, lawyers and senior strategists - also seized on the case for its opportunities.

For McCain-connected lobbyists who were rivals of Mr. Abramoff, the scandal presented a chance to crush a competitor. For senior McCain advisers, the inquiry allowed them to collect fees from the very Indians that Mr. Abramoff had ripped off. And the investigation enabled Mr. McCain to confront political enemies who helped defeat him in his 2000 presidential run while polishing his maverick image.

The Abramoff saga started in early 2003 when members of two tribes began questioning Mr. Abramoff's astronomical fees. Over the next year, they leaked information to local newspapers, but it took the hiring of lobbyists who were competitors of Mr. Abramoff to get the attention of Mr. McCain's committee.

Bernie Sprague, who led the effort by one of the tribes, the Saginaw Chippewas in Michigan, hired a Democratic lobbyist who recommended that the tribe retain Scott Reed, the Republican lobbyist, to push for an investigation.

Mr. Reed had boasted to other lobbyists of his access to Mr. McCain, three close associates said. Mr. Reed "pretty much had open access to John from 2000 to at least the end of 2006," one aide said. Lobbyist disclosure forms show that Mr. Reed went to work for the Saginaw Chippewa on Feb. 15, 2004, charging the tribe $56,000 over a year. Mr. Abramoff had tried to steal the Pequots and another tribal client from Mr. Reed, and taking down Mr. Abramoff would eliminate a competitor. Mr. Reed became the chief conduit to Mr. McCain's committee for billing documents and other information Mr. Sprague was digging up on Mr. Abramoff, Mr. Sprague said, who said Mr. Reed "did a great to service to me." "He had contacts I did not," Mr. Sprague said. "Initially, I think that the senator's office was doing Reed a favor by listening to me." A few weeks after hiring Mr. Reed, Mr. Sprague received a letter from the senator. "We have met with Scott Reed, who was very helpful on the issue," Mr. McCain wrote.

Information about Mr. Abramoff was also flowing to Mr. McCain's committee from another tribe, the Coushatta of Louisiana. The source was a consultant named Roy Fletcher, who had been Mr. McCain's deputy campaign manager in 2000, running his war room in South Carolina.

It was in that primary race that two of Mr. Abramoff's closest associates, Grover Norquist, who runs the nonprofit Americans for Tax Reform, and Ralph Reed, the former director of the Christian Coalition, ran a blistering campaign questioning Mr. McCain's conservative credentials. The senator and his advisers blamed that attack for Mr. McCain's loss to Mr. Bush in South Carolina, creating tensions that would resurface in the Abramoff matter.

"I was interested in busting" Mr. Abramoff, said Mr. Fletcher, who was eventually hired to represent the tribe. "That was my job. But I was also filled with righteous indignation, I got to tell you." Mr. Fletcher said he began passing information to John Weaver, Mr. McCain's chief political strategist, and other staff members in late 2003 or January 2004. Mr. Weaver confirmed the timing.

Mr. McCain announced his investigation on Feb. 26, 2004, citing an article on Mr. Abramoff in The Washington Post. He did not mention the action by lobbyists and tribes in the preceding weeks. His campaign said no one in his "innermost circle" brought information to Mr. McCain that prompted the investigation.

The senator declared he would not investigate members of Congress, whom Mr. Abramoff had lavished with tribal donations and golf outings to Scotland. But in the course of the investigation, the committee exposed Mr. Abramoff's dealings with the two men who had helped defeat Mr. McCain in the 2000 primary.

The investigation showed that Mr. Norquist's foundation was used by Mr. Abramoff to launder lobbying fees from tribes. Ralph Reed was found to have accepted $4 million to run bogus antigambling campaigns. And the investigation also highlighted Mr. Abramoff's efforts to curry favor with the House majority leader at the time, Tom DeLay, Republican of Texas, a longtime political foe who had opposed many of Mr. McCain's legislative priorities.

Mr. McCain's campaign said the senator did not "single out" Ralph Reed or Mr. Norquist, neither of whom were ever charged, and that both men fell within the "scope of the investigation." The inquiry, which led to guilty pleas by over a dozen individuals, was motivated by a desire to help aggrieved tribes, the campaign said.

Inside the investigation, the sense of schadenfreude was palpable, according to several people close to the senator. "It was like hitting pay dirt," said one associate of Mr. McCain's who had consulted with the senator's office on the investigation. "And face it - McCain and Weaver were maniacal about Ralph Reed and Norquist. They were sticking little pins in dolls because those guys had cost him South Carolina."

Down on the Coushattas reservation, bills related to the investigation kept coming. After firing Mr. Abramoff, the tribe hired Kent Hance, a lawyer and former Texas congressman who said he had been friends with Mr. McCain since the 1980s. David Sickey, the tribe's vice chairman, said he was "dumbfounded" over the bills submitted by Mr. Hance's firm, Hance Scarborough, which had been hired by Mr. Sickey's predecessors. "The very thing we were fighting seemed to be happening all over again - these absurd amounts of money being paid," Mr. Sickey said.

Mr. Hance's firm billed the tribe nearly $1.3 million over 11 months in legal and political consulting fees, records show. But Mr. Sickey said that the billing statements offered only vague explanations for services and that he could not point to any tangible results. Two consultants, for instance, were paid to fight the expansion of gambling in Texas - even though it was unlikely given that the governor there opposed any such prospect, Mr. Sickey said.

Mr. Hance and Jay B. Stewart, the firm's managing partner, defended their team's work, saying they successfully steered the tribe through a difficult period. "We did an outstanding job for them," Mr. Hance said. "When we told them our bill was going to be $100,000 a month, they thought we were cheap. Mr. Abramoff had charged them $1 million a month."

The firm's fees covered the services of Mr. Fletcher, who served as the tribe's spokesman. Records also show that Mr. Hance had Mr. Weaver - who was serving as Mr. McCain's chief strategist - put on the tribe's payroll from February to May 2005.

It is not precisely clear what role Mr. Weaver played for his $100,000 fee. Mr. Stewart said Mr. Weaver was hired because "he had a lot of experience with the Senate, especially the new chairman, John McCain." The Hance firm told the tribe in a letter that Mr. Weaver was hired to provide "representation for the tribe before the U.S. Senate."

But Mr. Weaver never registered to lobby on the issue, and he has another explanation for his work. "The Hance law firm retained me to assist them and their client in developing an aggressive crisis management and communications strategy," Mr. Weaver said. "At no point was I asked by Kent Hance or anyone associated with him to set up meetings with anyone in or outside of government to discuss this, and if asked I would have summarily declined to do so."

In June 2005, the tribe informed Mr. Hance that his services were no longer needed.

Change in Tone

After the Abramoff scandal, Mr. McCain stopped taking campaign donations from tribes. Some American Indians were offended, especially since Mr. McCain continued to accept money from the tribes' lobbyists.

Resentment in Indian Country mounted as Mr. McCain, who was preparing for another White House run, singled out the growth in tribal gambling as one of three national issues that were "out of control." (The others were federal spending and illegal immigration.) Franklin Ducheneaux, an aide to Morris Udall who helped draft the 1988 Indian gambling law, said that position ran contrary to Mr. McCain's record. "What did he think? That Congress intended for the tribes to be only somewhat successful?" Mr. Ducheneaux said.

Mr. McCain began taking a broad look at whether the laws were sufficient to oversee the growing industry. His campaign said that the growth had put "considerable stress" on regulators and Mr. McCain held hearings on whether the federal government needed more oversight power.

An opportunity to restrain the industry came in the spring of 2005, when a small tribe in Connecticut set off a political battle. The group, the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, had won federal recognition in 2004 after producing voluminous documentation tracing its roots.

The tribe wanted to build Connecticut's third casino, which would compete with Foxwoods and another, the Mohegan Sun. Facing public opposition on the proposed casino, members of the Connecticut political establishment - many of whom had received large Pequot and Mohegan campaign donations - swung into action.

Connecticut officials claimed that a genealogical review by the Bureau of Indian Affairs was flawed, and that the Schaghticoke was not a tribe.

The tribe's opponents, led by the Washington lobbying firm Barbour Griffith & Rogers, turned to Mr. McCain's committee. It was a full-circle moment for the senator, who had helped the Pequots gain tribal recognition in the 1980s despite concerns about their legitimacy.

Now, Mr. McCain was doing a favor for allies in the Connecticut delegation, including Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, a close friend, according to two former Congressional aides. "It was one of those collegial deals," said one of the aides, who worked for Mr. McCain.

Barbour Griffith & Rogers wanted Mr. McCain to hold a hearing that would show that the Bureau of Indian Affairs was "broken," said Bradley A. Blakeman, who was a lobbyist for the firm at the time.

"It was our hope that the hearing would shed light on the fact that the bureau had not followed their rules and had improperly granted recognition to the Schaghticoke," Mr. Blakeman said. "And that the bureau would revisit the issue and follow their rules."

Mr. McCain's staff helped that effort by offering strategic advice.

His staff told a lobbyist for the firm that the Indian Affairs Committee "would love to receive a letter" from the Connecticut governor requesting a hearing, according to an e-mail exchange, and offered "guidance on what the most effective tone and approach" would be in the letter.

On May 11, 2005, Mr. McCain held a hearing billed as a general "oversight hearing on federal recognition of Indian tribes." But nearly all the witnesses were Schaghticoke opponents who portrayed the tribe as imposters.

Mr. McCain set the tone: "The role that gaming and its nontribal backers have played in the recognition process has increased perceptions that it is unfair, if not corrupt."

Chief Richard F. Velky of the Schaghticokes found himself facing off against the governor and most of the state's congressional delegation. "The deck was stacked against us," Mr. Velky said. "They were given lots of time. I was given five minutes."

He had always believed Mr. McCain "to be an honest and fair man," Mr. Velky said, "but this didn't make me feel that good."

Mr. Velky said he felt worse when the e-mail messages between the tribe's opponents and Mr. McCain's staff surfaced in a federal lawsuit. "Is there a letter telling me how to address the senator to give me the best shot?" Mr. Velky asked. "No, there is not."

After the hearing, Pablo E. Carrillo, who was Mr. McCain's chief Abramoff investigator at the time, wrote to a Barbour Griffith & Rogers lobbyist, Brant Imperatore. "Your client's side definitely got a good hearing record," Mr. Carillo wrote, adding "you probably have a good sense" on where Mr. McCain "is headed on this."

"Well done!" he added.

Cynthia Shaw, a Republican counsel to the committee from 2005 to 2007, said Mr. McCain made decisions based on merit, not special interests. "Everybody got a meeting who asked for one," Ms. Shaw said, "whether you were represented by counsel or by a lobbyist - or regardless of which lobbyist."

Mr. McCain's campaign defended the senator's handling of the Schaghticoke case, saying no staff member acted improperly. The campaign said the session was part of normal committee business and the notion that Mr. McCain was intending to help Congressional colleagues defeat the tribe was "absolutely false."

It added that the senator's commitment to Indian sovereignty "remains as strong as ever."

Within months of the May 2005 hearing, the Bureau of Indian Affairs took the rare step of rescinding the Schaghticokes' recognition. A federal court recently rejected the tribe's claim that the reversal was politically motivated.

Making an Exception

That spring of 2005, as the Schaghticokes went down to defeat in the East, another tribe in the West squared off against Mr. McCain with its bid to construct a gambling emporium in California. The stakes were similar, but the outcome would be far different.

The tribe's plan to build a casino on a former Navy base just outside San Francisco represented a trend rippling across the country: American Indians seeking to build casinos near population centers, far from their reservations.

The practice, known as "off-reservation shopping," stemmed from the 1988 Indian gambling law, which included exceptions allowing some casinos to be built outside tribal lands. When Mr. McCain began his second stint as chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee three years ago, Las Vegas pressed him to revisit the exceptions he had helped create, according to Sig Rogich, the Republican fund-raiser from Nevada.

"We told him this off-reservation shopping had to stop," Mr. Rogich said. "It was no secret that the gaming industry, as well as many potentially affected communities in other states, voiced opposition to the practice."

In the spring of 2005, Mr. McCain announced he was planning a sweeping overhaul of Indian gambling laws, including limiting off-reservation casinos. His campaign said Las Vegas had nothing to do with it. In a 2005 interview with The Oregonian, Mr. McCain said that if Congress did not act, "soon every Indian tribe is going to have a casino in downtown, metropolitan areas."

Prospects for the proposed California project did not look promising. Then the tribe, the Guidiville Band of Pomo Indians, hired a lobbyist based in Phoenix named Wes Gullett.

Mr. Gullett, who had never represented tribes before Congress, had known Mr. McCain since the early 1980s. Mr. Gullett met his wife while they were working in Mr. McCain's Washington office. He subsequently managed Mr. McCain's 1992 Senate campaign and served as a top aide to his 2000 presidential campaign. Their friendship went beyond politics. When Mr. McCain's wife, Cindy, brought two infants in need of medical treatment back to Arizona from Bangladesh, the Gulletts adopted one baby and the McCains the other. The two men also liked to take weekend trips to Las Vegas.

Another of Mr. McCain's close friends, former Defense Secretary William S. Cohen, was a major investor in the Guidivilles' proposed casino. Mr. Cohen, who did not return calls, was best man at Mr. McCain's 1980 wedding.

Scott Crowell, lawyer for the Guidivilles, said Mr. Gullett was hired to ensure that Mr. McCain's overhaul of the Indian gambling laws did not harm the tribe.

Mr. Gullett said he never talked to Mr. McCain about the legislation. "If you are hired directly to lobby John McCain, you are not going to be effective," he said. Mr. Gullett said he only helped prepare the testimony of the tribe's administrator, Walter Gray, who was invited to plead his case before Mr. McCain's committee in July 2005. Mr. Gullett said he advised Mr. Gray in a series of conference calls.

On disclosure forms filed with the Senate, however, Mr. Gullett stated that he was not hired until November, long after Mr. Gray's testimony. Mr. Gullett said the late filing might have been "a mistake, but it was inadvertent." Steve Hart, a former lawyer for the Guidivilles, backed up Mr. Gullett's contention that he had guided Mr. Gray on his July testimony.

When asked whether Mr. Gullett had helped him, Mr. Gray responded, "I've never met the man and couldn't tell you anything about him."

On Nov. 18, 2005, when Mr. McCain introduced his promised legislation overhauling the Indian gambling law, he left largely intact a provision that the Guidivilles needed for their casino. Mr. McCain's campaign declined to answer whether the senator spoke with Mr. Gullett or Mr. Cohen about the project. In the end, Mr. McCain's bill died, largely because Indian gambling interests fought back. But the Department of Interior picked up where Mr. McCain left off, effectively doing through regulations what he had hoped to accomplish legislatively. Carl Artman, who served as the Interior Department's assistant secretary of Indian Affairs until May, said Mr. McCain pushed him to rewrite the off-reservation rules. "It became one of my top priorities because Senator McCain made it clear it was one of his top priorities," he said.

The new guidelines were issued on Jan. 4. As a result, the casino applications of 11 tribes were rejected. The Guidivilles were not among them.

Kitty Bennett and Griff Palmer contributed to reporting.
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McCain’s links to the Russia-Georgia conflict in 2008…

Published on Wednesday, August 20, 2008 by CommonDreams.org

Is Georgia 2008 a Repeat of Hungary 1956, With John McCain as Agent Provocateur?

by Allan J. Lichtman

The crisis in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia eerily recalls a tragedy of the Cold War, the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. That year, after revolutionaries challenged Soviet control of this satellite state, Russian tanks and troops rolled into Hungary. They crushed the revolt at a cost of some 2,500 Hungarian lives. As in this year's tragedy in Georgia, the United States did nothing to halt the Soviet onslaught. The administration of President Dwight Eisenhower offered only pious words.

Although the Eisenhower administration denied it at the time, we now know many decades later from recently declassified documents that the United States government was an agent provocateur in the Hungarian revolt. Radio Free Europe, a puppet of the CIA, beamed broadcasts into Hungary which gave the revolutionaries reason to believe that they could expect aid from the United States - aid that the administration was unprepared to provide. The conclusion of Charles Gati in his respected 2006 book on the Hungarian Revolution is worth quoting at length because it bears so directly on today's events in Georgia:

New information shows how disingenuous the United States was when it kept the Hungarians' hopes alive - even as it made no preparations to help them either militarily or diplomatically. The initials "NATO" could summarize its approach, No Action, Only Talk. The Dwight D. Eisenhower administration's official declaratory policy of rollback and liberation ... amounted to hypocrisy mitigated only by self-delusion; the more evident goal was to satisfy the far-right wing of the Republican Party led by Senator Joseph McCarthy and roll back the Democrats from Capitol Hill.

In the current crisis, President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia fell into a Soviet trap by moving troops into the disputed territory of South Ossetia and raining artillery and rocket fire on the South Ossetian capital city of Tskhinvali, with a still undetermined loss of civilian life. As in 1956, the Soviets responded with overwhelming force and additional loss of life. Once again the United States could offer only words, not concrete aid to the Georgians..

It is difficult to believe that like the Hungarians in 1956, the Georgians in 2008 could have taken such rash action without believing that they could expect support from the United States. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice denies that the Bush administration denies was the agent provocateur in Georgia. To the contrary, a State Department source said that she explicitly warned President Saakashvili in July to avoid provoking Russia.

If this information is correct, then, by inference, John McCain emerges as the most likely suspect as agent provocateur. First, McCain had a unique and privileged pipeline to President Saakashvili. McCain's top foreign policy advisor, Randy Scheunemann, was a partner in a two-man firm that served as a paid lobbyist for the Georgian government. Scheunemann continued receiving compensation from the firm until the McCain campaign imposed new restrictions on lobbyists in mid-May. Scheunemann helped arrange a telephone conversation between McCain and Saakashvili on April 17 of this year, while he was still being paid by Georgia.

Second, while most Senators would hesitate to conduct their own private foreign policy, McCain follows his own muse and defers to no one, including the President of the United States. Third, McCain has benefited politically from the crisis in Georgia. As with the Eisenhower administration's rhetoric of liberation, McCain's swift and belligerent response to the Soviet actions in Georgia has bolstered his shaky standing with the right-wing of the Republican Party. McCain has also used the Georgian situation to assert his credentials as the hardened warrior ready to do battle against a resurgent Russia. He has pointedly contrasted his foreign policy experience with that of his Democratic opponent Barack Obama.

Since the crisis erupted, McCain has focused like a laser on Georgia, to great effect. According to a Quinnipiac University National Poll released on August 19 he has gained four points on Obama since their last poll in mid-July and leads his rival by a two to one margin as the candidate best qualified to deal with Russia.

Although McCain does not speak officially for the Bush administration, Saakashvili would likely take very seriously any communication from the presumptive Republican Party nominee for president. As with the CIA in the Hungarian crisis of 1956, McCain may well have given the Georgian president greater assurances of American backing for his actions than the US government could provide.

At minimum, John McCain has a lot of explaining to do. He must explain the precise role that the paid lobbyist played in shaping his policies on Georgia and Russia. He must explain why he retains the lobbyist as his foreign policy advisor even though Scheunemann will ultimately benefit from the revenue raking in by his company. McCain must reveal precisely what he said to Saakashvili in the April 17 conservation and the other private contacts he claims to have had with the Georgian president. On the eve of the presidential election, the American people deserve no less. We should not have to wait decades to find out what really happened in Georgia.

Allan J. Lichtman is Professor of History at American University in Washington, DC. His most recent book is White Protestant Nation: The Rise of the American Conservative Movement.
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On the media’s confusing “noise” over this campaign, which helps McCain:

DON'T READ THIS, by Steven Weber
Posted August 20, 2008 | 11:19 AM (EST)
Huffington Post

Detach [from the major media]. Detach and save your soul.

Because there isn't anything you will learn that you already don't know in your heart. You've seen this movie before, over and over and you know what they'll say, what they want to do. They will say John McCain is a hero and Barack Obama is different and they want to open your head and keep it open until they have poured as much trash into it as it can hold.

And it can hold a lot, having been stretched like bladders under a patchwork of skin grafts for the last decade. What used to be a repository for hope, for dreams, for decency toward others, is now a receptacle for lies.

Because there is simply no gauge, no math that can square a guy like McCain unless it's rigged, which of course it is. Just like there was never any real accounting for the likes of Bush and his warped legacy of failure though that failure is clear as day. There is just no way to forgive these con men who are able to perform the most paltry sleight of hand to the continued mind-numbing mystification of the masses; nor will there be any way to justify the tragic fallibility of those that have and continue to support them, those legions of bobble heads allowing the rapists to do what comes naturally to them, angry even if they should ever be thwarted. Who would prefer going to a dentist who, though likable in a frat-boy kind of way, leaves the mouths of his patients a bloody, pus-filled mess?

Zealots rarely wake up and greed whores rarely reform. Any assertion to the contrary is more of the con, more cant to swallow whole, more illusion sold as reality. Let's hope the lights never do come on at this point. Americans will be shocked at the state of themselves.

So detach. Turn off your TV's. Turn away from the pundits, the polls and the pols. Don't listen to them anymore. You can do it. You need to.

Detach. [--And go mobilize the vote for Barack Obama]

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Here are just a few pieces on John McCain’s demented choice for vice-president—the divisive liar and “smear queen” Sarah Palin, revealing McCain’s obvious pandering to the “pseudo-Christians” who have trampled on everything for which Jesus stood, and also revealing his reckless judgment in appointing someone who, if McCain were to die in office (a good statistical probability) would have NO COMPETENCE WHATSOEVER to be Commander-in-Chief!

From: ~~ Ed Schultz
http://www.bigeddieradio.com/ Sept. 27, 2008

Capitol Hill sources are telling me that senior McCain people are more than concerned about Palin.

The campaign has held a mock debate and a mock press conference; both are being described as "disastrous." One senior McCain aide was quoted as saying, "What are we going to do?" The McCain people want to move this first debate to some later, undetermined date, possibly never. People on the inside are saying the Alaska Governor is "clueless."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
From the *conservative* National Review Online website:

Kathleen Parker - National Review Online:
http://tinyurl.com/4k3pg5

Palin's recent interviews with Charles Gibson, Sean Hannity, and now Katie Couric have all revealed an attractive, earnest, confident candidate… Who Is Clearly Out Of Her League.

No one hates saying that more than I do. Like so many women, I've been pulling for Palin, wishing her the best, hoping she will perform brilliantly. I've also noticed that I watch her interviews with the held breath of an anxious parent, my finger poised over the mute button in case it gets too painful. Unfortunately, it often does. My cringe reflex is exhausted.

Palin filibusters. She repeats words, filling space with deadwood. Cut the verbiage and there's not much content there. Here's but one example of many from her interview with Hannity: "Well, there is a danger in allowing some obsessive partisanship to get into the issue that we're talking about today. And that's something that John McCain, too, his track record, proving that he can work both sides of the aisle, he can surpass the partisanship that must be surpassed to deal with an issue like this."

When Couric pointed to polls showing that the financial crisis had boosted Obama's numbers, Palin blustered wordily: "I'm not looking at poll numbers. What I think Americans at the end of the day are going to be able to go back and look at track records and see who's more apt to be talking about solutions and wishing for and hoping for solutions for some opportunity to change, and who's actually done it?"

If BS were currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street herself.

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How Sarah Palin’s debate “performance” was viewed by serious observers in England:

Flirting her way to victory? Sarah Palin's farcical debate performance lowered the standards for both female candidates and US political discourse.
The Guardian newspaper, Friday, October 3 2008
guardian.co.uk

At least three times last night, Sarah Palin, the adorable, preposterous vice-presidential candidate, winked at the audience.
Had a male candidate with a similar reputation for attractive vapidity made such a brazen attempt to flirt his way into the good graces of the voting public, it would have been universally noted, discussed and mocked. Palin, however, has single handedly so lowered the standards both for female candidates and American political discourse that, with her newfound ability to speak in more-or-less full sentences, she is now deemed to have performed acceptably last night.

By any normal standard, including the ones applied to male presidential candidates of either party, she did not. Early on, she made the astonishing announcement that she had no intentions of actually answering the queries put to her. "I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I'm going to talk straight to the American people and let them know my track record also," she said. And so she preceded, with an almost surreal disregard for the subjects she was supposed to be discussing, to unleash fusillades of scripted attack lines, platitudes, lies, gibberish and grating references to her own pseudo-folksy authenticity.

It was an appalling display. The only reason it was not widely described as such is that too many American pundits don't even try to judge the truth, wisdom or reasonableness of the political rhetoric they are paid to pronounce upon. Instead, they imagine themselves as interpreters of a mythical mass of "average Americans" who they both venerate and despise.

In pronouncing upon a debate, they don't try and determine whether a candidate's responses correspond to existing reality, or whether he or she is capable of talking about subjects such as the deregulation of the financial markets or the devolution of the war in Afghanistan. The criteria are far more vaporous. In this case, it was whether Palin could avoid utterly humiliating herself for 90 minutes, and whether urbane commentators would believe that she had connected to a public that they see as ignorant and sentimental. For the Alaska governor, mission accomplished.

There is indeed something mesmerising about Palin, with her manic beaming and fulsome confidence in her own charm. The force of her personality managed to slightly obscure the insulting emptiness of her answers last night. It's worth reading the transcript of the encounter, where it becomes clearer how bizarre much of what she said was. Here, for example,is how she responded to Biden's comments about how the middle class has been short-changed during the Bush administration, and how McCain will continue Bush's policies:

”Say it ain't so, Joe, there you go again pointing backwards again. You preferenced [sic] your whole comment with the Bush administration. Now doggone it, let's look ahead and tell Americans what we have to plan to do for them in the future. You mentioned education, and I'm glad you did. I know education you are passionate about with your wife being a teacher for 30 years, and god bless her. Her reward is in heaven, right? ... My brother, who I think is the best schoolteacher in the year, and here's a shout-out to all those third graders at Gladys Wood Elementary School, you get extra credit for watching the debate.”

Evidently, Palin's pre-debate handlers judged her incapable of speaking on a fairly wide range of subjects, and so instructed to her to simply disregard questions that did not invite memorised talking points or cutesy filibustering. They probably told her to play up her spunky average-ness, which she did to the point of shtick - and dishonesty. Asked what her achilles heel is - a question she either didn't understand or chose to ignore - she started in on how McCain chose her because of her "connection to the heartland of America. Being a mom, one very concerned about a son in the war, about a special needs child, about kids heading off to college, how are we going to pay those tuition bills?"

None of Palin's children, it should be noted, is heading off to college. Her son is on the way to Iraq, and her pregnant 17-year-old daughter is engaged to be married to a high-school dropout and self-described "fuckin' redneck".

Palin is a woman who can't even tell the truth about the most quotidian and public details of her own life, never mind about matters of major public import. In her only vice-presidential debate, she was shallow, mendacious and phoney. What kind of maverick, after all, keeps harping on what a maverick she is? That her performance was considered anything but a farce doesn't show how high Palin has risen, but how low we all have sunk.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A HUGE SOURCE FOR ARTICLES, OP-EDS, EMAILS, ETC. (PRO & CON), ON SARAH PALIN is: http://www.andrys.com/palin-kilkenny.html

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Is Sarah Palin a good “steward” of the environment, as the Bible would have us be?

No way!! Here’s a press release from a noted environmental group:

[Press Release] From: Defenders of Wildlife Fund

August 29, 2008

A few hours ago, the news broke that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has been selected by Sen. John McCain as the vice presidential candidate for the Republican ticket. As a Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund supporter, you are no doubt aware of Governor Palin’s dismal record, from her staunch support for special interests and Big Oil to her terrible assault on wolves and other wildlife. As much of the nation wonders just who Sarah Palin is, I wanted to pass along my statement that I've just released.

Please read it and pass it along to everyone you know.

Thanks for your continued support,

Rodger
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 29, 2008

Shocking Choice by John McCain

WASHINGTON-- Senator John McCain just announced his choice for running mate: Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska. To follow is a statement by Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund.

“Senator McCain’s choice for a running mate is beyond belief. By choosing Sarah Palin, McCain has clearly made a decision to continue the Bush legacy of destructive environmental policies.

“Sarah Palin, whose husband works for BP (formerly British Petroleum), has repeatedly put special interests first when it comes to the environment. In her scant two years as governor, she has lobbied aggressively to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, pushed for more drilling off of Alaska’s coasts, and put special interests above science. Ms. Palin has made it clear through her actions that she is unwilling to do even as much as the Bush administration to address the impacts of global warming. Her most recent effort has been to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the polar bear from the endangered species list, putting Big Oil before sound science. As unbelievable as this may sound, this actually puts her to the right of the Bush administration.

“This is Senator McCain’s first significant choice in building his executive team and it’s a bad one. It has to raise serious doubts in the minds of voters about John McCain’s commitment to conservation, to addressing the impacts of global warming and to ensuring our country ends its dependency on oil.”

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The Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund (www.defendersactionfund.org) provides a powerful voice in Washington to Americans who value our conservation heritage. Through grassroots lobbying, issue advocacy and political campaigns, the Action Fund champions those laws and lawmakers that protect wildlife and wild places while working against those that do them harm.
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10 THINGS [and more!!] TO KNOW ABOUT JOHN McCAIN

For all the coverage this week of Senator John McCain's background, there are some important things you won't learn about him from the TV networks. His carefully crafted positive image relies on people not knowing this stuff--and you might be surprised by some of it.

Please check out the list below, and then forward it to your friends, family, and co-workers. We can't rely on the media to tell folks about the real John McCain--but if we all pass this along, we can reach as many people as CNN Headline News does on a good night.
10 things you should know about John McCain (but probably don't):

1. John McCain voted against establishing a national holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Now he says his position has "evolved," yet he's continued to oppose key civil rights laws.1

2. According to Bloomberg News, McCain is more hawkish than Bush on Iraq, Russia and China. Conservative columnist Pat Buchanan says McCain "will make Cheney look like Gandhi."2

3. His reputation is built on his opposition to torture, but McCain voted against a bill to ban waterboarding, and then applauded President Bush for vetoing that ban.3--

4. McCain opposes a woman's right to choose. He said, "I do not support Roe versus Wade. It should be overturned."4

5. The Children's Defense Fund rated McCain as the worst senator in Congress for children. He voted against the children's health care bill last year, then defended Bush's veto of the bill.5

6. He's one of the richest people in a Senate filled with millionaires. The Associated Press reports he and his wife own at least eight homes! Yet McCain says the solution to the housing crisis is for people facing foreclosure to get a "second job" and skip their vacations.6

7. Many of McCain's fellow Republican senators say he's too reckless to be commander in chief. One Republican senator [Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.)] said: "The thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine. He's erratic. He's hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me."7

8. McCain talks a lot about taking on special interests, but his campaign manager and top advisers are actually lobbyists. The government watchdog group Public Citizen says McCain has 59 lobbyists raising money for his campaign, more than any of the other presidential candidates.8

9. McCain has sought closer ties to the extreme religious right in recent years. The pastor McCain calls his "spiritual guide," Rod Parsley, believes America's founding mission is to destroy Islam, which he calls a "false religion." McCain sought the political support of right-wing preacher John Hagee, who believes Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment for gay rights and called the Catholic Church "the Antichrist" and a "false cult."9

10. He positions himself as pro-environment, but he scored a 0--yes, zero--from the League of Conservation Voters last year.10

John McCain is NOT who the Washington press corps make him out to be. Please help get the word out--forward this email to your personal network. And if you want us to keep you posted on MoveOn's work to get the truth out about John McCain, sign up here:
http://pol.moveon.org/mccaintruth/


Sources:
1. "The Complicated History of John McCain and MLK Day," ABC News, April 3, 2008
http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2008/04/the-complicated.html
" McCain Facts," ColorOfChange.org, April 4, 2008 http://colorofchange.org/mccain_facts/
2. "McCain More Hawkish Than Bush on Russia, China, Iraq," Bloomberg News, March 12, 2008
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=aF28rSCtk0ZM&refer=us
" Buchanan: John McCain 'Will Make Cheney Look Like Gandhi,'" ThinkProgress, February 6, 2008
http://thinkprogress.org/2008/02/06/buchanan-gandhi-mccain/
3. "McCain Sides With Bush On Torture Again, Supports Veto Of Anti-Waterboarding Bill," ThinkProgress, February 20, 2008
http://thinkprogress.org/2008/02/20/mccain-torture-veto/
4. "McCain says Roe v. Wade should be overturned," MSNBC, February 18, 2007
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17222147/
5. "2007 Children's Defense Fund Action Council® Nonpartisan Congressional Scorecard," February 2008
http://www.childrensdefense.org/site/PageServer?pagename=act_learn_scorecard2007
" McCain: Bush right to veto kids health insurance expansion," CNN, October 3, 2007
http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/03/mccain.interview/
6. "Beer Executive Could Be Next First Lady," Associated Press, April 3, 2008
http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5h-S1sWHm0tchtdMP5LcLywg5ZtMgD8VQ86M80
" McCain Says Bank Bailout Should End `Systemic Risk,'" Bloomberg News, March 25, 2008
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aHMiDVYaXZFM&refer=home
7. "Will McCain's Temper Be a Liability?," Associated Press, February 16, 2008
http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory?id=4301022
" Famed McCain temper is tamed," Boston Globe, January 27, 2008
http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2008/01/27/famed_mccain_temper_is_tamed/
8. "Black Claims McCain's Campaign Is Above Lobbyist Influence: 'I Don't Know What The Criticism Is,'" ThinkProgress, April 2, 2008
http://thinkprogress.org/2008/04/02/mccain-black-lobbyist/
" McCain's Lobbyist Friends Rally 'Round Their Man," ABC News, January 29, 2008
http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/story?id=4210251
9. "McCain's Spiritual Guide: Destroy Islam," Mother Jones Magazine, March 12, 2008
http://www.motherjones.com/washington_dispatch/2008/03/john-mccain-rod-parsley-spiritual-guide.html
" Will McCain Specifically 'Repudiate' Hagee's Anti-Gay Comments?," ThinkProgress, March 12, 2008
http://thinkprogress.org/2008/03/12/mccain-hagee-anti-gay/
" McCain 'Very Honored' By Support Of Pastor Preaching 'End-Time Confrontation With Iran,'" ThinkProgress, February 28, 2008
http://thinkprogress.org/2008/02/28/hagee-mccain-endorsement/
10. "John McCain Gets a Zero Rating for His Environmental Record," Sierra Club, February 28, 2008
http://www.alternet.org/blogs/environment/77913/




A few words on John McCain by a journalist who wrote a very positive book on McCain earlier in the decade:

Elizabeth Drew: “How John McCain lost me”

“ I have been a longtime admirer of John McCain. During the 2000 Republican presidential primaries I publicly defended McCain against the pro-Bush Republicans' whisper campaign that he was too unstable to be president (aware though I was that he had a temper). Two years later I published a positive book about him, Citizen McCain....

“ McCain's recent conduct of his campaign -- his willingness to lie repeatedly (including in his acceptance speech) and to play Russian roulette with the vice-presidency, in order to fulfill his long-held ambition -- has reinforced my earlier, and growing, sense that John McCain is not a principled man. In fact, it's not clear who he is.”


See also the views of other prominent Republicans who no longer endorse John McCain and Sarah Palin: Susan Eisenhower, C.C. Goldwater, Wick Allison, Christopher Buckley, Colin Powell, Andrew Sullivan, Lilibet Hagel, and Republican journalists like George Will, David Brooks, etc. For more, see:
http://loomisnews.wordpress.com/2008/10/10/more-republicans-for-obama-john-mccain-is-not-a-principled-man/

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Here is conservative pundit Andrew Sullivan’s top 10 reasons why any sane conservative should vote for Obama over McCain:

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2008/10/the-top-ten-rea.html

10. A body blow to racial identity politics. An end to the era of Jesse Jackson in black America.

9. Less debt. Yes, Obama will raise taxes on those earning over a quarter of a million. And he will spend on healthcare, Iraq, Afghanistan and the environment. But so will McCain. He plans more spending on health, the environment and won't touch defense or entitlements. And his refusal to touch taxes means an extra $4 trillion in debt over the massive increase presided over by Bush. And the CBO estimates that McCain's plans will add more to the debt over
four years than Obama's. Fiscal conservatives have a clear choice.

8. A return to realism and prudence in foreign policy. Obama has consistently cited the foreign policy of George H. W. Bush as his inspiration. McCain's knee-jerk reaction to the Georgian conflict, his commitment to stay in Iraq indefinitely, and his brinksmanship over Iran's nuclear ambitions make him a far riskier choice for conservatives. The choice between Obama and McCain is like the choice between George H.W. Bush's first term and George W.'s.

7. An ability to understand the difference between listening to generals and delegating foreign policy to them.

6. Temperament. Obama has the coolest, calmest demeanor of any president since Eisenhower. Conservatism values that kind of constancy, especially compared with the hot-headed, irrational impulsiveness of McCain.

5. Faith. Obama's fusion of Christianity and reason, his non-fundamentalist faith, is a critical bridge between the new atheism and the new Christianism.

4. A truce in the culture war. Obama takes us past the debilitating boomer warfare that has raged since the 1960s. Nothing has distorted our politics so gravely; nothing has made a rational politics more elusive.

3. Two words: President Palin.

2. Conservative reform. Until conservatism can get a distance from the big-spending, privacy-busting, debt-ridden, crony-laden, fundamentalist, intolerant, incompetent and arrogant faux conservatism of the Bush-Cheney years, it will never regain a coherent message to actually govern this country again. The survival of conservatism requires a temporary eclipse of today's Republicanism. Losing would be the best thing to happen to conservatism since 1964. Back then, conservatives lost in a landslide for the right reasons. Now, Republicans are losing in a landslide for the wrong reasons.

1. The War Against Islamist terror. The strategy deployed by Bush and Cheney has failed. It has failed to destroy al Qaeda, except in a country, Iraq, where their presence was minimal before the US invasion. It has failed to bring any of the terrorists to justice, instead creating the excrescence of Gitmo, torture, secret sites, and the collapse of America's reputation abroad. It has empowered Iran, allowed al Qaeda to regroup in Pakistan, made the next vast generation of Muslims loathe America, and imperiled our alliances. We need smarter leadership of the war: balancing force with diplomacy, hard power with better p.r., deploying strategy rather than mere tactics, and self-confidence rather than a bunker mentality.

Those conservatives who remain convinced, as I do, that Islamist terror remains the greatest threat to the West cannot risk a perpetuation of the failed Manichean worldview of the past eight years, and cannot risk the possibility of McCain making rash decisions in the middle of a potentially catastrophic global conflict. If you are serious about the war on terror and believe it is a war we have to win, the only serious candidate is Barack Obama.
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Here’s a shocking revelation of just a few really unsavory aspects of McCain’s private personality, a stark contrast to his “gentleman - statesman” image that he and the deferential media have created for McCain:
My Holiday with McCain, by Kathy Sreedhar [good exposé of McCain’s unloving personality]

It was just before John McCain's last run at the presidential nomination in 2000 that my husband and I vacationed in Turtle Island in Fiji with John McCain, Cindy, and their children, including Bridget (their adopted Bangladeshi child). It was not our intention, but it was our misfortune to be in close quarters with John McCain for almost a week since Turtle Island has a small number of bungalows and their focus on communal meals force all vacationers who are there at the same time to get to know each other intimately.

He arrived at our first group meal and started reading quotes from a pile of William Faulkner books with a forest of Post-Its sticking out of them. As an English Literature major myself, my first thought was if he likes this so much, why hasn't he memorized any of this yet? I soon realized that McCain actually thought we had come on vacation to be a volunteer audience for his readings which then became a regular part of each meal. Out of politeness, none of the vacationers initially protested at this intrusion into their blissful holiday, but people's buttons definitely got pushed as the readings continued day after day.

Unfortunately, this was not his only contribution to our mealtime entertainment. He waxed on during one meal about how Indo-Chine women had the best figures and that our American corn-fed women just couldn't meet up to this standard. He also made it a point that all of us should stop Cindy from having dessert as her weight was too high and made a few comments to Amy, the 25 year old wife of the honeymooning couple from Nebraska that she should eat less as she needed to lose weight. McCain's appreciation of the beauty of Asian women was so great that David the American economist had to move his Thai wife to the other side of the table from McCain as McCain kept aggressively flirting with and touching her.

Needless to say I was irritated at his large ego, and his rude behavior towards his wife and other women, but decided he must have some redeeming qualities as he had adopted a handicapped child from Bangladesh. I asked him about this one day and his response was shocking –“Oh, that was Cindy's idea, I didn't have anything to do with it. She just went and adopted this thing without even asking me. You can't imagine how people stare when I wheel this ugly, black thing around in a shopping cart in Arizona. No, it wasn't my idea at all.”

I actively avoided McCain after that, but unfortunately one day he engaged me in a political discussion which soon got us on the topic of the active US bombing of Iraq at that time. I was shocked when he said "if I was in charge, I would nuke Iraq to teach them a lesson." Given McCain's personal experience with the horrors of war I had expected a more balanced point of view. I commented on the tragic consequences of the nuclear attacks on Japan during WWII - but no, he was not to be dissuaded. He went on to say that if it was up to him he would have dropped many more nuclear bombs on Japan. I rapidly extricated myself from this conversation as I could tell that his experience being tortured as a POW didn't seem to have mellowed out his perspective but rather had made him more aggressive, and vengeful towards the world.

My final encounter with McCain was on the morning that he was leaving Turtle Island. Amy and I were happily eating pancakes when McCain arrived and told Amy that she shouldn't be having pancakes because she needed to lose weight. Amy burst into tears at this abusive comment. I felt fiercely protective of Amy and immediately turned to McCain and told him to leave her alone. He became very angry and abusive towards me, and said "don't you know who I am?" and I looked him in the face and said yes, you are the biggest asshole I have ever met and headed back to my cabin. I am happy to say that later that day when I arrived at lunch I was given a standing ovation by all the guests for having stood up to McCain's bullying.

Although I have shared my McCain story informally with friends, this is the first time I am making this public. I almost did so in 2000, when McCain first announced his bid for the Republican nomination but it soon became apparent that George Bush was the shoo-in candidate and so I did not act then. However, now that there is a very real possibility that McCain could be elected as our next president, I feel it is my duty as an American citizen to share this story. I can't imagine a more scary outcome for America than that this abusive, aggressive man should lead our nation. I have observed him in intimate surroundings as he really is, not how the media portrays him to be. If his attitudes toward women, and his treatment of his own family are even a small indicator of his real personality, then I shudder to think what will happen to America were he to be elected as our President.

Kathy Sreedhar, Director, UU Holdeen India Program
666 11th Street, NW, Suite 800, Washington , DC 20001
Telephone: 202.393.2255 x16 Fax: 202.393.5494

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October 10, 2008
A Buckley endorses Obama: Christopher Buckley, son of William F. Buckley, is backing Obama.
From CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

(CNN) — No, hell has not frozen over, but a Buckley is backing a Democrat for president. Christopher Buckley, the son of the late conservative icon William F. Buckley, said Friday he's decided to back Barack Obama's White House bid, the first time in his life he will vote Democrat. "It's a good thing my dear old mum and pup [sic] are no longer alive. They'd cut off my allowance," Buckley, a columnist for the conservative National Review, wrote on the Web site The Daily Beast
Friday.

Buckley, who praised McCain in a New York Times Op-Ed earlier this year and defended the Arizona senator's conservative credentials against wary talk-radio hosts, said McCain is no longer the "real" and "unconventional" man he once admired.

"This campaign has changed John McCain," Buckley wrote. "It has made him inauthentic. A once-first class temperament has become irascible and snarly; his positions change, and lack coherence; he makes unrealistic promises, such as balancing the federal budget 'by the end of my first term.' Who, really, believes that?

"Then there was the self-dramatizing and feckless suspension of his campaign over the financial crisis," Buckley added. "His ninth-inning attack ads are mean-spirited and pointless. And finally, not to belabor it, there was the Palin nomination. What on earth can he have been thinking?"

But Buckley made clear he's not just voting against McCain, praising Obama for his "first-class temperament and first-class intellect." "Obama has in him—I think, despite his sometimes airy-fairy 'We are the people we have been waiting for' silly rhetoric—the potential to be a good, perhaps even great leader. He is, it seems clear enough, what the historical moment seems to be calling for," Buckley wrote.
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From a traditionally right-of-center newspaper from Missouri:

Sunday editorial: Barack Obama for president
By: Editorial Board
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Nine Days before the Feb. 5 presidential primaries in Missouri and Illinois, this editorial page endorsed Barack Obama and John McCain in their respective races.

We did so enthusiastically. We wrote that either Mr. Obama's message of hope or Mr. McCain's independence and integrity offered America "the chance to turn the page on 28 years of contentious, greed-driven politics and move into a new era of possibility."

Over the past nine months, Mr. Obama, the junior senator from Illinois, has emerged as the only truly transformative candidate in the race. In the crucible that is a presidential campaign, his intellect, his temperament and equanimity under pressure consistently have been impressive. He has surrounded himself with smart, capable advisers who have helped him refine thorough, nuanced policy positions.

In a word, Mr. Obama has been presidential.

Meanwhile, Mr. McCain, the senior senator from Arizona, became the incredible shrinking man. He shrank from his principled stands in favor of a humane immigration policy. He shrank from his universal condemnation of torture and his condemnation of the politics of smear.

He even shrank from his own campaign slogan, "Country First," by selecting the least qualified running mate since the Swedenborgian shipbuilder Arthur Sewall ran as William Jennings Bryan's No. 2 in 1896.

In making political endorsements, this editorial page is guided first by the principles espoused by Joseph Pulitzer in The Post-Dispatch Platform printed daily at the top of this page. Then we consider questions of character, life experience and intellect, as well as specific policy and issue positions. Each member of the editorial board weighs in.

On all counts, the consensus was clear: Barack Obama of Illinois should be the next president of the United States.
We didn't know nine months ago that before Election Day, America would face its greatest economic challenge since the Great Depression. The crisis on Wall Street is devastating, but it has offered voters a useful preview of how the two presidential candidates would respond to a crisis.

Very early on, Mr. Obama reached out to his impressive corps of economic advisers and developed a comprehensive set of recommendations for addressing the problems. He set them forth calmly and explained them carefully.

Mr. McCain, a longtime critic of government regulation, was late to recognize the threat. The chief economic adviser of his campaign initially was former Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, who had been one of the architects of banking deregulation. When the credit markets imploded, Mr. McCain lurched from one ineffectual grandstand play to another. He squandered the one clear advantage he had over Mr. Obama: experience.

Mr. McCain first was elected to Congress in 1982 when Mr. Obama was in his senior year at Columbia University. Yet the younger man's intellectual curiosity and capacity -- and, yes, also the skills he developed as a community organizer and his instincts as a political conciliator -- more than compensate for his lack of more traditional Washington experience.

A presidency is defined less by what happens in the Oval Office than by what is done by the more than 3,000 men and women the president appoints to government office. Only 600 of them are subject to Senate approval. The rest serve at the pleasure of the president.

We have little doubt that Mr. Obama's appointees would bring a level of competence, compassion and intellectual achievement to the executive branch that hasn't been seen since the New Frontier. He has energized a new generation of Americans who would put the concept of service back in "public service."

Consider that while Mr. McCain selected as his running mate Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, a callow and shrill partisan, Mr. Obama selected Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware. Mr. Biden's 35-year Senate career has given him encyclopedic expertise on legislative and judicial issues, as well as foreign affairs.

The idea that 3,000 bright, dedicated and accomplished Americans would be joining the Obama administration to serve the public -- as opposed to padding their resums or shilling for the corporate interests they're sworn to oversee -- is reassuring. That they would be serving a president who actually would listen to them is staggering.

And the fact that Mr. Obama can explain his thoughts and policies in language that can instruct and inspire is exciting. Eloquence isn't everything in a president, but it is not nothing, either.

Experience aside, the 25-year difference in the ages of Mr. McCain, 72, and Mr. Obama, 47, is important largely because Mr. Obama's election would represent a generational shift. He would be the first chief executive in more than six decades whose worldview was not formed, at least in part, by the Cold War or Vietnam.

He sees the complicated world as it is today, not as a binary division between us and them, but as a kaleidoscope of shifting alliances and interests. As he often notes, he is the son of a Kenyan father and a mother from Kansas, an internationalist who yet acknowledges that America is the only nation in the world in which someone of his distinctly modest background could rise as far as his talent, intellect and hard work would take him.

Given the damage that has been done to America's moral standing in the world in the last eight years -- by a preemptory war, a unilateralist foreign policy and by policies that have treated both the Geneva Conventions and our own Bill of Rights as optional -- Mr. Obama's election would help America reclaim the moral high ground.

It also must be said that Mr. Obama is right on the issues. He was right on the war in Iraq. He is right that all Americans deserve access to health care and right in his pragmatic approach to meeting that goal. He is right on tax policy, infrastructure investment, energy policy and environmental issues. He is right on American ideals.

He was right when he said in his remarkable speech in March in Philadelphia that "In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world's great religions demand: that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother's keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister's keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well."

John McCain has served his country well, but in the end, he may have wanted the presidency a little too much, so much that he has sacrificed some of the principles that made him a heroic figure in war and in peace. In every way possible, he has earned the right to retire.

Finally, only at this late point do we note that Barack Obama is an African-American. Because of who he is and how he has run his campaign, that fact has become almost incidental to most Americans. Instead, his countrymen are weighing his talents, his values and his beliefs, judging him not by the color of his skin, but the content of his character.

That says something profound and good -- about him as a candidate and about us as a nation.
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Joe the Plumber? More like Joe the Keating Family Operative
By David Neiwert, Thursday Oct 16, 2008 8:59am

I guess it's no wonder John McCain was so happy to use "Joe the Plumber" as a debate prop last night -- he's a partisan Republican who also happens to be a member of McCain's old friends, the Keating family.

From Martin Eisenstadt:

Turns out that Joe Wurzelbacher from the Toledo event is a close relative of Robert Wurzelbacher of Milford, Ohio. Who’s Robert Wurzelbacher? Only Charles Keating’s son-in-law and the former senior vice president of American Continental, the parent company of the infamous Lincoln Savings and Loan. The now retired elder Wurzelbacher is also a major contributor to Republican causes giving well over $10,000 in the last few years.

Now I guess we know why Joe is telling the press that Obama is a "socialist" and that the Obama tax plan "infuriated" him. After all, it would hit families like the Keatings and their minions the hardest.

Not to mention that Obama's economic-recovery plan would put the crimps on influence peddlers like McCain's old friends, the Keating Five.


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Here’s another “insider’s” revelation on McCain’s disturbed personality:
I Spent Years as a POW with John McCain, and His Finger Should Not Be Near the Red Button

By Phillip Butler, Military.com
Posted on August 21, 2008, Printed on August 21, 2008
http://www.alternet.org/story/95825/
Doctor Phillip Butler is a 1961 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a former light-attack carrier pilot. In 1965 he was shot down over North Vietnam where he spent eight years as a prisoner of war. He is a highly decorated combat veteran who was awarded two Silver Stars, two Legion of Merits, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Heart medals. After his repatriation in 1973 he earned a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California at San Diego and became a Navy Organizational Effectiveness consultant. He completed his Navy career in 1981 as a professor of management at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. He is now a peace and justice activist with Veterans for Peace.

John McCain is a long-time acquaintance of mine that goes way back to our time together at the U.S. Naval Academy and as Prisoners of War in Vietnam. He is a man I respect and admire in some ways. But there are a number of reasons why I will not vote for him for President of the United States.

When I was a Plebe (4th classman, or freshman) at the Naval Academy in 1957-58, I was assigned to the 17th Company for my four years there. In those days we had about 3,600 midshipmen spread among 24 companies, thus about 150 midshipmen to a company. As fortune would have it, John, a First Classman (senior) and his room mate lived directly across the hall from me and my two room mates. Believe me when I say that back then I would never in a million or more years have dreamed that the crazy guy across the hall would someday be a Senator and candidate for President!

John was a wild man. He was funny, with a quick wit and he was intelligent. But he was intent on breaking every USNA regulation in our 4 inch thick USNA Regulations book. And I believe he must have come as close to his goal as any midshipman who ever attended the Academy. John had me "coming around" to his room frequently during my plebe year. And on one occasion he took me with him to escape "over the wall" in the dead of night. He had a taxi cab waiting for us that took us to a bar some 7 miles away. John had a few beers, but forbid me to drink (watching out for me I guess) and made me drink cokes. I could tell many other midshipman stories about John that year and he unbelievably managed to graduate though he spent the majority of his first class year on restriction for the stuff he did get caught doing. In fact he barely managed to graduate, standing 5th from the bottom of his 800 man graduating class. I and many others have speculated that the main reason he did graduate was because his father was an Admiral, and also his grandfather, both U.S. Naval Academy graduates.

People often ask if I was a Prisoner of War with John McCain. My answer is always "No - John McCain was a POW with me." The reason is I was there for 8 years and John got there 2 1/2 years later, so he was a POW for 5 1/2 years. And we have our own seniority system, based on time as a POW.

John's treatment as a POW:

1) Was he tortured for 5 years? No. He was subjected to torture and maltreatment during his first 2 years, from September of 1967 to September of 1969. After September of 1969 the Vietnamese stopped the torture and gave us increased food and rudimentary health care. Several hundred of us were captured much earlier. I got there April 20, 1965 so my bad treatment period lasted 4 1/2 years. President Ho Chi Minh died on September 9, 1969, and the new regime that replaced him and his policies was more pragmatic. They realized we were worth a lot as bargaining chips if we were alive. And they were right because eventually Americans gave up on the war and agreed to trade our POW's for their country. A damn good trade in my opinion! Butmy point here is that John allows the media to make him out to be THE hero POW, which he knows is absolutely not true, to further his political goals.

2) John was badly injured when he was shot down. Both arms were broken and he had other wounds from his ejection. Unfortunately this was often the case -- new POW's arriving with broken bones and serious combat injuries. Many died from their wounds. Medical care was non-existent to rudimentary. Relief from pain was almost never given and often the wounds were used as an available way to torture the POW. Because John's father was the Naval Commander in the Pacific theater, he was exploited with TV interviews while wounded. These film clips have now been widely seen. But it must be known that many POW's suffered similarly, not just John. And many were similarly exploited for political propaganda.

3) John was offered, and refused, "early release." Many of us were given this offer. It meant speaking out against your country and lying about your treatment to the press. You had to "admit" that the U.S. was criminal and that our treatment was "lenient and humane." So I, like numerous others, refused the offer. This was obviously something none of us could accept. Besides, we were bound by our service regulations, Geneva Conventions and loyalties to refuse early release until all the POW's were released, with the sick and wounded going first.

4) John was awarded a Silver Star and Purple Heart for heroism and wounds in combat. This heroism has been played up in the press and in his various political campaigns. But it should be known that there were approximately 600 military POW's in Vietnam. Among all of us, decorations awarded have recently been totaled to the following: Medals of Honor -- 8, Service Crosses -- 42, Silver Stars -- 590, Bronze Stars -- 958 and Purple Hearts -- 1,249. John certainly performed courageously and well. But it must be remembered that he was one hero among many -- not uniquely so as his campaigns would have people believe.

John McCain served his time as a POW with great courage, loyalty and tenacity. More that 600 of us did the same. After our repatriation a census showed that 95% of us had been tortured at least once. The Vietnamese were quite democratic about it. There were many heroes in North Vietnam. I saw heroism every day there. And we motivated each other to endure and succeed far beyond what any of us thought we had in ourselves. Succeeding as a POW is a group sport, not an individual one. We all supported and encouraged each other to survive and succeed. John knows that. He was not an individual POW hero. He was a POW who surmounted the odds with the help of many comrades, as all of us did.

I furthermore believe that having been a POW is no special qualification for being President of the United States. The two jobs are not the same, and POW experience is not, in my opinion, something I would look for in a presidential candidate.

Most of us who survived that experience are now in our late 60's and 70's. Sadly, we have died and are dying off at a greater rate than our non-POW contemporaries. We experienced injuries and malnutrition that are coming home to roost. So I believe John's age (73) and survival expectation are not good for being elected to serve as our President for 4 or more years.

I can verify that John has an infamous reputation for being a hot head. He has a quick and explosive temper that many have experienced first hand. Folks, quite honestly that is not the finger I want next to that red button.

It is also disappointing to see him take on and support Bush's war in Iraq, even stating we might be there for another 100 years. For me John represents the entrenched and bankrupt policies of Washington-as-usual. The past 7 years have proven to be disastrous for our country. And I believe John's views on war, foreign policy, economics, environment, health care, education, national infrastructure and other important areas are much the same as those of the Bush administration.

I'm disappointed to see John represent himself politically in ways that are not accurate. He is not a moderate Republican. On some issues he is a maverick. But his voting record is far to the right. I fear for his nominations to our Supreme Court, and the consequent continuing loss of individual freedoms, especially regarding moral and religious issues. John is not a religious person, but he has taken every opportunity to ally himself with some really obnoxious and crazy fundamentalist ministers lately. I was also disappointed to see him cozy up to Bush because I know he hates that man. He disingenuously and famously put his arm around the guy, even after Bush had intensely disrespected him with lies and slander. So on these and many other instances, I don't see that John is the "straight talk express" he markets himself to be.

Senator John Sidney McCain, III is a remarkable man who has made enormous personal achievements. And he is a man that I am proud to call a fellow POW who "Returned With Honor." That's our POW motto. But since many of you keep asking what I think of him, I've decided to write it out. In short, I think John Sidney McCain, III is a good man, but not someone I will vote for in the upcoming election to be our President of the United States.

--AlterNet is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed by its writers are their own.
© 2008 Military.com All rights reserved.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


www.cnn.com:80/2008/POLITICS/08/18/cafferty.mccain/index.html

Excerpts from Jack Cafferty, Commentary:
Is McCain Another George W. Bush?

CNN, Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2008
....Sen. John McCain takes weekends off and limits his campaign events to one a day. He made an exception for the religious forum on Saturday at Saddleback Church in Southern California.... [televised by CNN, wherein pastor and best-selling author Rick Warren interviewed Obama for an hour and then McCain for an hour].

It occurs to me that John McCain is as intellectually shallow as our current president. When asked what his Christian faith means to him, his answer was a one-liner. "It means I'm saved and forgiven." Great scholars have wrestled with the meaning of faith for centuries. McCain then retold a story we've all heard a hundred times about a guard in Vietnam drawing a cross in the sand.

Asked about his greatest moral failure, he cited his first marriage, which ended in divorce. While saying it was his greatest moral failing, he offered nothing in the way of explanation. Why not?

Throughout the evening, McCain chose to recite portions of his stump speech as answers to the questions he was being asked. Why? He has lived 71 years. Surely he has some thoughts on what it all means that go beyond canned answers culled from the same speech he delivers every day.

He was asked "if evil exists." His response was to repeat for the umpteenth time that Osama bin Laden is a bad man and he will pursue him to "the gates of hell." That was it....

One after another, McCain's answers were shallow, simplistic, and trite. He showed the same intellectual curiosity that George Bush has -- virtually none. Where are John McCain's writings exploring the vexing moral issues of our time? Where are his position papers setting forth his careful consideration of foreign policy, the welfare state, education, America's moral responsibility in the world, etc., etc., etc.?

John McCain graduated 894th in a class of 899 at the Naval Academy at Annapolis. His father and grandfather were four-star admirals in the Navy. Some have suggested that might have played a role in McCain being admitted. His academic record was awful. And it shows over and over again whenever McCain is called upon to think on his feet.

He no longer allows reporters unfettered access to him aboard the "Straight Talk Express" for a reason. He simply makes too many mistakes. Unless he's reciting talking points or reading from notes or a TelePrompTer, John McCain is lost. He can drop bon mots at a bowling alley or diner -- short glib responses that get a chuckle, but beyond that McCain gets in over his head very quickly.

I am sick and tired of the president of the United States embarrassing me....

George Bush's record as a student, military man, businessman and leader of the free world is one of constant failure. And the part that troubles me most is he seems content with himself. He will leave office with the country $10 trillion in debt, fighting two wars, our international reputation in shambles, our government cloaked in secrecy and suspicion that his entire presidency has been a litany of broken laws and promises, our citizens' faith in our own country ripped to shreds. Yet Bush goes bumbling along, grinning and spewing moronic one-liners, as though nobody understands what a colossal failure he has been.

I fear to the depth of my being that John McCain is just like him.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This piece was sent along to me by email; I don’t know the author of this op-ed, but the points made are quite cogent (I’ve made a few additions in parentheses [ ] just in case the irony is lost on those who can’t see the irony):

Subject: Racism and the election

Consider the following facts and deeply consider: What if things were switched around? What if the Obama-Biden ticket had the McCain-Palin background and vice versa. Think about it. Wouldn't the country's collective point of view be far different? And could a lurking racism possibly be the culprit here?
For instance...

What if the Obamas had [like the Palins] paraded five children across the stage following the debate, including a three month-old infant and an unwed, pregnant teenage daughter? (This one alone would have gotten Obama torn up in the media and country)

What if John McCain was the one who was a former president of the Harvard Law Review?

What if Barack Obama was the one who finished fifth from the bottom of his college graduating class [as McCain did]?

What if McCain had only married once [like Obama], and Obama had gotten divorced [as McCain did]?

What if Obama had met his second wife in a bar and had a long affair while he was still married [as McCain did]?

What if Michelle Obama was the wife who not only became addicted to pain killers but also acquired them illegally through her charitable organization? [as Cindy McCain did]

What if Cindy McCain was the one who graduated from Harvard [as Michelle Obama did]?

What if Obama had been [like McCain] a member of the Keating Five (the group of Senators who secretly met to lobby AGAINST regulation and FOR some very questionable investors like Charles Keating. The Keating Five U.S. Senators, including John McCain, were accused of corruption in 1989, igniting a major political scandal as part of the larger Savings and Loan crisis of the late 1980s and early 1990s....which ultimately cost millions of people their entire retirement accounts and cost the tax-payers hundreds of billions of dollars!)

What if Obama couldn't read from a teleprompter?

What if Obama was the one who had military experience that included discipline problems and a record of crashing several planes?

What if Obama was the one who was known to publicly display a serious anger management problem throughout his adult life?

What if Michelle Obama's family had made their money from beer distribution [as Cindy McCain's family did]?

You could easily add to this list. If these questions reflected a reality, if the tables were turned, do you really believe the election numbers would be as close as they presently are in this election?

This is what racism does. It covers up, rationalizes and minimizes qualities in one candidate and emphasizes negative characteristics in another when there is a color difference.

And, think of this - the candidates' educational backgrounds:

Barack Obama:
Columbia University - B. A. Political Science with a Specialization in
International Relations.
Harvard - Juris Doctor (J.D.) Magna Cum Laude

Joseph Biden:
University of Delaware - B. A. in History and B. A. in Political Science.
Syracuse University College of Law - Juris Doctor (J.D.)

John McCain:
United States Naval Academy - Class rank: 894 of 899

Sarah Palin:
Hawaii Pacific University - 1 semester
North Idaho College - 2 semesters - general study
University of Idaho - 2 semesters - journalism
Matanuska-Susitna College - 1 semester
University of Idaho - 3 semesters - B. A. in Journalism

Education isn't everything, but this is about the two highest offices in the land as well as our standing in the world.

You make the call.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

McCain’s terrible role in vigorously pounding the drums to the disastrous war in Iraq

Published on Monday, August 18, 2008 by The Nation
McCain, Circa 2003

by Robert Dreyfuss

There's yet to be a solid, point-by-point effort to expose John McCain's pre-2003 views on Iraq, when (along with his neocon advisers and cheerleaders) he led the charge to Baghdad. Barack Obama, so concerned about how to end the war in Iraq, seems to have forgotten the importance of questioning how it began, especially McCain's pernicious role.

In today's Times, under the headline "Broad Response to 9/11 Offers Outline of a McCain Doctrine," appears a sketchy but useful reminder of McCain's pre-2003 irrational exuberance for war. (As a broader piece on McCain's so-called "doctrine," the article falls flat. There are better pieces on that score, including two authored by yours truly for The Nation, one published in 1999 and the second earlier this year.)

Here's the lead of the Times piece, showing McCain in full jingoistic, damn-the-torpedos mode:
Senator John McCain arrived late at his Senate office on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, just after the first plane hit the World Trade Center. "This is war," he murmured to his aides. The sound of scrambling fighter planes rattled the windows, sending a tremor of panic through the room.

Within hours, Mr. McCain, the Vietnam War hero and famed straight talker of the 2000 Republican primary, had taken on a new role: the leading advocate of taking the American retaliation against Al Qaeda far beyond Afghanistan. In a marathon of television and radio appearances, Mr. McCain recited a short list of other countries said to support terrorism, invariably including Iraq, Iran and Syria.

"There is a system out there or network, and that network is going to have to be attacked," Mr. McCain said the next morning on ABC News. "It isn't just Afghanistan," he added, on MSNBC. "I don't think if you got bin Laden tomorrow that the threat has disappeared," he said on CBS, pointing toward other countries in the Middle East.

Within a month he made clear his priority. "Very obviously Iraq is the first country," he declared on CNN. By Jan. 2, Mr. McCain was on the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt in the Arabian Sea, yelling to a crowd of sailors and airmen: "Next up, Baghdad!" As the Times notes, "While pushing to take on Saddam Hussein, Mr. McCain also made arguments and statements that he may no longer wish to recall." It adds:

He lauded the war planners he would later criticize, including Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney. (Mr. McCain even volunteered that he would have given the same job to Mr. Cheney.) He urged support for the later-discredited Iraqi exile Ahmad Chalabi's opposition group, the Iraqi National Congress, and echoed some of its suspect accusations in the national media. And he advanced misleading assertions not only about Mr. Hussein's supposed weapons programs but also about his possible ties to international terrorists, Al Qaeda and the Sept. 11 attacks.

McCain had adopted the neocon doctrine of rogue-state rollback, and he hammered away at that after 9/11 arguing that the United States should go on the offensive as a warning to any other country that might condone such an attack. "These networks are well-embedded in some of these countries," Mr. McCain said on Sept. 12, listing Iraq, Iran and Syria as potential targets of United States pressure. "We're going to have to prove to them that we are very serious, and the price that they will pay will not only be for punishment but also deterrence."

So much for McCain's good judgment. It's wrong even to imply that McCain's disjointed thoughts amount to a doctrine, unless that doctine is: "Kill them all!" The Times also references McCain's near-psychotic readiness to blame Iraq even for the 2001 anthrax attacks, concerning which he said on TV: "Some of this anthrax may -- and I emphasize may -- have come from Iraq."

Robert Dreyfuss, a Nation contributing editor, is an investigative journalist in Alexandria, Virginia, specializing in politics and national security. He is the author of Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam and is a frequent contributor to Rolling Stone, The American Prospect, and Mother Jones.
Copyright © 2008 The Nation
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And here’s how McCain treated his left-behind POWs in Vietnam…

McCain and the POW Cover-up: The "war hero" candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam

Research support provided by the Investigative Fund of The Nation Institute. This is an expanded version, with primary documents attached, of a storythat appears in the October 6, 2008 issue of The Nation.

By Sydney H. Schanberg
September 18, 2008

http://www.nationinstitute.org:80/p/schanberg09182008pt1

John McCain, who has risen to political prominence on his image as a Vietnam POW war hero, has, inexplicably, worked very hard to hide from the public stunning information about American prisoners in Vietnam who, unlike him, didn't return home. Throughout his Senate career, McCain has quietly sponsored and pushed into federal law a set of prohibitions that keep the most revealing information about these men buried as classified documents. Thus the war hero who people would logically imagine as a determined crusader for the interests of POWs and their families became instead the strange champion of hiding the evidence and closing the books.

Almost as striking is the manner in which the mainstream press has shied from reporting the POW story and McCain's role in it, even as the Republican Party has made McCain's military service the focus of his presidential campaign. Reporters who had covered the Vietnam War turned their heads and walked in other directions. McCain doesn't talk about the missing men, and the press never asks him about them.

The sum of the secrets McCain has sought to hide is not small. There exists a telling mass of official documents, radio intercepts, witness depositions, satellite photos of rescue symbols that pilots were trained to use, electronic messages from the ground containing the individual code numbers given to airmen, a rescue mission by a special forces unit that was aborted twice by Washington—and even sworn testimony by two Defense secretaries that "men were left behind." This imposing body of evidence suggests that a large number—the documents indicate probably hundreds—of the US prisoners held by Vietnam were not returned when the peace treaty was signed in January 1973 and Hanoi released 591 men, among them Navy combat pilot John S. McCain.

Mass of Evidence--The Pentagon had been withholding significant information from POW families for years. What's more, the Pentagon's POW/MIA operation had been publicly shamed by internal whistleblowers and POW families for holding back documents as part of a policy of "debunking" POW intelligence even when the information was obviously credible.

The pressure from the families and Vietnam veterans finally forced the creation, in late 1991, of a Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs. The chairman was John Kerry. McCain, as a former POW, was its most pivotal member. In the end, the committee became part of the debunking machine.

One of the sharpest critics of the Pentagon's performance was an insider, Air Force Lieut. Gen. Eugene Tighe, who headed the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) during the 1970s. He openly challenged the Pentagon's position that no live prisoners existed, saying that the evidence proved otherwise. McCain was a bitter opponent of Tighe, who was eventually pushed into retirement.

Included in the evidence that McCain and his government allies suppressed or sought to discredit is a transcript of a senior North Vietnamese general's briefing of the Hanoi politburo, discovered in Soviet archives by an American scholar in 1993. The briefing took place only four months before the 1973 peace accords. The general, Tran Van Quang, told the politburo members that Hanoi was holding 1,205 American prisoners but would keep many of them at war's end as leverage to ensure getting war reparations from Washington.

Throughout the Paris negotiations, the North Vietnamese tied the prisoner issue tightly to the issue of reparations. They were adamant in refusing to deal with them separately. Finally, in a February 2, 1973, formal letter to Hanoi's premier, Pham Van Dong, Nixon pledged $3.25 billion in "postwar reconstruction" aid "without any political conditions." But he also attached to the letter a codicil that said the aid would be implemented by each party "in accordance with its own constitutional provisions." That meant Congress would have to approve the appropriation, and Nixon and Kissinger knew well that Congress was in no mood to do so. The North Vietnamese, whether or not they immediately understood the double-talk in the letter, remained skeptical about the reparations promise being honored - and it never was. Hanoi thus appears to have held back prisoners—just as it had done when the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu in 1954 and withdrew their forces from Vietnam. In that case, France paid ransoms for prisoners and brought them home.

In a private briefing in 1992, high-level CIA officials told me that as the years passed and the ransom never came, it became more and more difficult for either government to admit that it knew from the start about the unacknowledged prisoners. Those prisoners had not only become useless as bargaining chips but also posed a risk to Hanoi's desire to be accepted into the international community. The CIA officials said their intelligence indicated strongly that the remaining men—those who had not died from illness or hard labor or torture—were eventually executed.

My own research, detailed below, has convinced me that it is not likely that more than a few—if any—are alive in captivity today. (That CIA briefing at the agency's Langley, Virginia, headquarters was conducted "off the record," but because the evidence from my own reporting since then has brought me to the same conclusion, I felt there was no longer any point in not writing about the meeting.)

For many reasons, including the absence of a political constituency for the missing men other than their families and some veterans' groups, very few Americans are aware of the POW story and of McCain's role in keeping it out of public view and denying the existence of abandoned POWs. That is because McCain has hardly been alone in his campaign to hide the scandal.

The Arizona Senator, now the Republican candidate for President, has actually been following the lead of every White House since Richard Nixon's and thus of every CIA director, Pentagon chief and national security advisor, not to mention Dick Cheney, who was George H. W. Bush's defense secretary. Their biggest accomplice has been an indolent press, particularly in Washington.

McCain's Role --An early and critical McCain secrecy move involved 1990 legislation that started in the House of Representatives. A brief and simple document, it was called "the Truth Bill" and would have compelled complete transparency about prisoners and missing men. Its core sentence reads: "[The] head of each department or agency which holds or receives any records and information, including live-sighting reports, which have been correlated or possibly correlated to United States personnel listed as prisoner of war or missing in action from World War II, the Korean conflict and the Vietnam conflict, shall make available to the public all such records held or received by that department or agency."

Bitterly opposed by the Pentagon (and thus McCain), the bill went nowhere. Reintroduced the following year, it again disappeared. But a few months later, a new measure, known as "the McCain Bill," suddenly appeared. By creating a bureaucratic maze from which only a fraction of the documents could emerge—only records that revealed no POW secrets—it turned the Truth Bill on its head. (See one example, at left, when the Pentagon cited McCain's bill in rejecting a FOIA request.) The McCain bill became law in 1991 and remains so today. So crushing to transparency are its provisions that it actually spells out for the Pentagon and other agencies several rationales, scenarios and justifications for not releasing any information at all—even about prisoners discovered alive in captivity. Later that year, the Senate Select Committee was created, where Kerry and McCain ultimately worked together to bury evidence.

McCain was also instrumental in amending the Missing Service Personnel Act, which had been strengthened in 1995 by POW advocates to include criminal penalties, saying: "Any government official who knowingly and willfully withholds from the file of a missing person any information relating to the disappearance or whereabouts and status of a missing person shall be fined as provided in Title 18 or imprisoned not more than one year or both." A year later, in a closed House-Senate conference on an unrelated military bill, McCain, at the behest of the Pentagon, attached a crippling amendment to the act, stripping out its only enforcement teeth, the criminal penalties, and reducing the obligations of commanders in the field to speedily search for missing men and to report the incidents to the Pentagon.

About the relaxation of POW/MIA obligations on commanders in the field, a public McCain memo said: "This transfers the bureaucracy involved out of the [battle] field to Washington." He wrote that the original legislation, if left intact, "would accomplish nothing but create new jobs for lawyers and turn military commanders into clerks."

McCain argued that keeping the criminal penalties would have made it impossible for the Pentagon to find staffers willing to work on POW/MIA matters. That's an odd argument to make. Were staffers only "willing to work" if they were allowed to conceal POW records? By eviscerating the law, McCain gave his stamp of approval to the government policy of debunking the existence of live POWs.

McCain has insisted again and again that all the evidence—documents, witnesses, satellite photos, two Pentagon chiefs' sworn testimony, aborted rescue missions, ransom offers apparently scorned—has been woven together by unscrupulous deceivers to create an insidious and unpatriotic myth. He calls it the "bizarre rantings of the MIA hobbyists." He has regularly vilified those who keep trying to pry out classified documents as "hoaxers," charlatans," "conspiracy theorists" and "dime-store Rambos."

Some of McCain's fellow captives at Hoa Lo prison in Hanoi didn't share his views about prisoners left behind. Before he died of leukemia in 1999, retired Col. Ted Guy, a highly admired POW and one of the most dogged resisters in the camps, wrote an angry open letter to the senator in an MIA newsletter—a response to McCain's stream of insults hurled at MIA activists. Guy wrote: "John, does this [the insults] include Senator Bob Smith [a New Hampshire Republican and activist on POW issues] and other concerned elected officials? Does this include the families of the missing where there is overwhelming evidence that their loved ones were 'last known alive'? Does this include some of your fellow POWs?"

It's not clear whether the taped confession McCain gave to his captors to avoid further torture has played a role in his post-war behavior in the Senate. That confession was played endlessly over the prison loudspeaker system at Hoa Lo—to try to break down other prisoners—and was broadcast over Hanoi's state radio. Reportedly, he confessed to being a war criminal who had bombed civilian targets. The Pentagon has a copy of the confession but will not release it. Also, no outsider I know of has ever seen a non-redacted copy of the debriefing of McCain when he returned from captivity, which is classified but could be made public by McCain. (See the Pentagon's rejection of my attempt to obtain records of this debriefing, at left.)

All humans have breaking points. Many men undergoing torture give confessions, often telling huge lies so their fakery will be understood by their comrades and their country. Few will fault them. But it was McCain who apparently felt he had disgraced himself and his military family. His father, John S. McCain II, was a highly regarded rear admiral then serving as commander of all US forces in the Pacific. His grandfather was also a rear admiral.

In his bestselling 1999 autobiography, Faith of My Fathers, McCain says he felt bad throughout his captivity because he knew he was being treated more leniently than his fellow POWs, owing to his high-ranking father and thus his propaganda value. Other prisoners at Hoa Lo say his captors considered him a prize catch and called him the "Crown Prince," something McCain acknowledges in the book.

Also in this memoir, McCain expresses guilt at having broken under torture and given the confession. "I felt faithless and couldn't control my despair," he writes, revealing that he made two "feeble" attempts at suicide. (In later years, he said he tried to hang himself with his shirt and guards intervened.) Tellingly, he says he lived in "dread" that his father would find out about the confession. "I still wince," he writes, "when I recall wondering if my father had heard of my disgrace."

He says that when he returned home, he told his father about the confession, but "never discussed it at length"—and the Admiral, who died in 1981, didn't indicate he had heard anything about it before. But he had. In the 1999 memoir, the senator writes: "I only recently learned that the tape...had been broadcast outside the prison and had come to the attention of my father."

Is McCain haunted by these memories? Does he suppress POW information because its surfacing would rekindle his feelings of shame? On this subject, all I have are questions.

Many stories have been written about McCain's explosive temper, so volcanic that colleagues are loathe to speak openly about it. One veteran congressman who has observed him over the years asked for confidentiality and made this brief comment: "This is a man not at peace with himself."

He was certainly far from calm on the Senate POW committee. He browbeat expert witnesses who came with information about unreturned POWs. Family members who have personally faced McCain and pressed him to end the secrecy also have been treated to his legendary temper. He has screamed at them, insulted them, brought women to tears. Mostly his responses to them have been versions of: How dare you question my patriotism? In 1996, he roughly pushed aside a group of POW family members who had waited outside a hearing room to appeal to him, including a mother in a wheelchair.

But even without answers to what may be hidden in the recesses of McCain's mind, one thing about the POW story is clear: If American prisoners were dishonored by being written off and left to die, that's something the American public ought to know about.

10 Key Pieces of Evidence That Men Were Left Behind [see rest of story at website for the long detailed analysis].

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Sunday 28 September 2008
www.truthout.org:80/092808A
McCain and Team Have Many Ties to Gambling Industry
by: Jo Becker and Don Van Natta Jr., The New York Times
photo
Senator John McCain's close ties to the gambling industry highlight the casino lobby's influence on the Senator, as well as his involvement in pushing through gambling legislation and overhauling the Indian gambling law. (Illustration: ABC News)

Senator John McCain was on a roll. In a room reserved for high-stakes gamblers at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut, he tossed $100 chips around a hot craps table. When the marathon session ended around 2:30 a.m., the Arizona senator and his entourage emerged with thousands of dollars in winnings.

A lifelong gambler, Mr. McCain takes risks, both on and off the craps table. He was throwing dice that night not long after his failed 2000 presidential bid, in which he was skewered by the Republican Party's evangelical base, opponents of gambling. Mr. McCain was betting at a casino he oversaw as a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, and he was doing so with the lobbyist who represents that casino, according to three associates of Mr. McCain.

The visit had been arranged by the lobbyist, Scott Reed, who works for the Mashantucket Pequot, a tribe that has contributed heavily to Mr. McCain's campaigns and built Foxwoods into the world's second-largest casino. Joining them was Rick Davis, Mr. McCain's current campaign manager. Their night of good fortune epitomized not just Mr. McCain's affection for gambling, but also the close relationship he has built with the gambling industry and its lobbyists during his 25-year career in Congress.

As a two-time chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, Mr. McCain has done more than any other member of Congress to shape the laws governing America's casinos, helping to transform the once-sleepy Indian gambling business into a $26-billion-a-year behemoth with 423 casinos across the country. He has won praise as a champion of economic development and self-governance on reservations.

"One of the founding fathers of Indian gaming" is what Steven Light, a University of North Dakota professor and a leading Indian gambling expert, called Mr. McCain.

As factions of the ferociously competitive gambling industry have vied for an edge, they have found it advantageous to cultivate a relationship with Mr. McCain or hire someone who has one, according to an examination based on more than 70 interviews and thousands of pages of documents.

Mr. McCain portrays himself as a Washington maverick unswayed by special interests, referring recently to lobbyists as "birds of prey." Yet in his current campaign, more than 40 fund-raisers and top advisers have lobbied or worked for an array of gambling interests - including tribal and Las Vegas casinos, lottery companies and online poker purveyors.

When rules being considered by Congress threatened a California tribe's planned casino in 2005, Mr. McCain helped spare the tribe. Its lobbyist, who had no prior experience in the gambling industry, had a nearly 20-year friendship with Mr. McCain.

In Connecticut that year, when a tribe was looking to open the state's third casino, staff members on the Indian Affairs Committee provided guidance to lobbyists representing those fighting the casino, e-mail messages and interviews show. The proposed casino, which would have cut into the Pequots' market share, was opposed by Mr. McCain's colleagues in Connecticut.

Mr. McCain declined to be interviewed. In written answers to questions, his campaign staff said he was "justifiably proud" of his record on regulating Indian gambling. "Senator McCain has taken positions on policy issues because he believed they are in the public interest," the campaign said.

Mr. McCain's spokesman, Tucker Bounds, would not discuss the senator's night of gambling at Foxwoods, saying: "Your paper has repeatedly attempted to insinuate impropriety on the part of Senator McCain where none exists - and it reveals that your publication is desperately willing to gamble away what little credibility it still has."

Over his career, Mr. McCain has taken on special interests, like big tobacco, and angered the capital's powerbrokers by promoting campaign finance reform and pushing to limit gifts that lobbyists can shower on lawmakers. On occasion, he has crossed the gambling industry on issues like regulating slot machines.

Perhaps no episode burnished Mr. McCain's image as a reformer more than his stewardship three years ago of the Congressional investigation into Jack Abramoff, the disgraced Republican Indian gambling lobbyist who became a national symbol of the pay-to-play culture in Washington. The senator's leadership during the scandal set the stage for the most sweeping overhaul of lobbying laws since Watergate.

"I've fought lobbyists who stole from Indian tribes," the senator said in his speech accepting the Republican presidential nomination this month.

But interviews and records show that lobbyists and political operatives in Mr. McCain's inner circle played a behind-the-scenes role in bringing Mr. Abramoff's misdeeds to Mr. McCain's attention - and then cashed in on the resulting investigation. The senator's longtime chief political strategist, for example, was paid $100,000 over four months as a consultant to one tribe caught up in the inquiry, records show.

Mr. McCain's campaign said the senator acted solely to protect American Indians, even though the inquiry posed "grave risk to his political interests."

As public opposition to tribal casinos has grown in recent years, Mr. McCain has distanced himself from Indian gambling, Congressional and American Indian officials said. But he has rarely wavered in his loyalty to Las Vegas, where he counts casino executives among his close friends and most prolific fund-raisers. "Beyond just his support for gaming, Nevada supports John McCain because he's one of us, a Westerner at heart," said Sig Rogich, a Nevada Republican kingmaker who raised nearly $2 million for Mr. McCain at an event at his home in June.

Only six members of Congress have received more money from the gambling industry than Mr. McCain, and five hail from the casino hubs of Nevada and New Jersey, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics dating back to 1989. In the presidential race, Senator Barack Obama has also received money from the industry; Mr. McCain has raised almost twice as much.

In May 2007, as Mr. McCain's presidential bid was floundering, he spent a weekend at the MGM Grand on the Las Vegas strip. A fund-raiser hosted by J. Terrence Lanni, the casino's top executive and a longtime friend of the senator, raised $400,000 for his campaign. Afterward, Mr. McCain attended a boxing match and hit the craps tables.

For much of his adult life, Mr. McCain has gambled as often as once a month, friends and associates said, traveling to Las Vegas for weekend betting marathons. Former senior campaign officials said they worried about Mr. McCain's patronage of casinos, given the power he wields over the industry. The officials, like others interviewed for this article, spoke on condition of anonymity.

"We were always concerned about appearances," one former official said. "If you go around saying that appearances matter, then they matter." The former official said he would tell Mr. McCain: "Do we really have to go to a casino? I don't think it's a good idea. The base doesn't like it. It doesn't look good. And good things don't happen in casinos at midnight." "You worry too much," Mr. McCain would respond, the official said.

A Record of Support

In one of their last conversations, Representative Morris K. Udall, Arizona's powerful Democrat, whose devotion to American Indian causes was legendary, implored his friend Mr. McCain to carry on his legacy. "Don't forget the Indians," Mr. Udall, who died in 1998, told Mr. McCain in a directive that the senator has recounted to others.

More than a decade earlier, Mr. Udall had persuaded Mr. McCain to join the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. Mr. McCain, whose home state has the third-highest Indian population, eloquently decried the "grinding poverty" that gripped many reservations.

The two men helped write the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 after the Supreme Court found that states had virtually no right to control wagering on reservations. The legislation provided a framework for the oversight and growth of Indian casinos: In 1988, Indian gambling represented less than 1 percent of the nation's gambling revenues; today it captures more than one third.

On the Senate floor after the bill's passage, Mr. McCain said he personally opposed Indian gambling, but when impoverished communities "are faced with only one option for economic development, and that is to set up gambling on their reservations, then I cannot disapprove."

In 1994, Mr. McCain pushed an amendment that enabled dozens of additional tribes to win federal recognition and open casinos. And in 1998, Mr. McCain fought a Senate effort to rein in the boom.

He also voted twice in the last decade to give casinos tax breaks estimated to cost the government more than $326 million over a dozen years. The first tax break benefited the industry in Las Vegas, one of a number of ways Mr. McCain has helped nontribal casinos. Mr. Lanni, the MGM Mirage chief executive, said that an unsuccessful bid by the senator to ban wagering on college sports in Nevada was the only time he could recall Mr. McCain opposing Las Vegas. "I can't think of any other issue," Mr. Lanni said.

The second tax break helped tribal casinos like Foxwoods and was pushed by Scott Reed, the Pequots' lobbyist. Mr. McCain had gotten to know Mr. Reed during Senator Bob Dole's 1996 presidential campaign, which Mr. Reed managed. Four years later, when Mr. McCain ran for president, Mr. Reed recommended he hire his close friend and protégé, Rick Davis, to manage that campaign.

During his 2000 primary race against George W. Bush, Mr. McCain promoted his record of helping Indian Country, telling reporters on a campaign swing that he had provided critical support to "the Pequot, now the proud owners of the largest casino in the world."

But Mr. McCain's record on Indian gambling was fast becoming a difficult issue for him in the primary. Bush supporters like Gov. John Engler of Michigan lambasted Mr. McCain for his "close ties to Indian gambling."

A decade after Mr. McCain co-authored the Indian gambling act, the political tides had turned. Tribal casinos, which were growing at a blazing pace, had become increasingly unpopular around the country for reasons as varied as morality and traffic.

Then came the biggest lobbying scandal to shake Washington.

Behind an Inquiry

At a September 2004 hearing of the Indian Affairs Committee, Mr. McCain described Jack Abramoff as one of the most brazen in a long line of crooks to cheat American Indians. "It began with the sale of Manhattan, and has continued ever since," he said. "What sets this tale apart, what makes it truly extraordinary, is the extent and degree of the apparent exploitation and deceit."

Over the next two years, Mr. McCain helped uncover a breathtaking lobbying scandal - Mr. Abramoff and a partner bilked six tribes of $66 million - that showcased the senator's willingness to risk the wrath of his own party to expose wrongdoing. But interviews and documents show that Mr. McCain and a circle of allies - lobbyists, lawyers and senior strategists - also seized on the case for its opportunities.

For McCain-connected lobbyists who were rivals of Mr. Abramoff, the scandal presented a chance to crush a competitor. For senior McCain advisers, the inquiry allowed them to collect fees from the very Indians that Mr. Abramoff had ripped off. And the investigation enabled Mr. McCain to confront political enemies who helped defeat him in his 2000 presidential run while polishing his maverick image.

The Abramoff saga started in early 2003 when members of two tribes began questioning Mr. Abramoff's astronomical fees. Over the next year, they leaked information to local newspapers, but it took the hiring of lobbyists who were competitors of Mr. Abramoff to get the attention of Mr. McCain's committee.

Bernie Sprague, who led the effort by one of the tribes, the Saginaw Chippewas in Michigan, hired a Democratic lobbyist who recommended that the tribe retain Scott Reed, the Republican lobbyist, to push for an investigation.

Mr. Reed had boasted to other lobbyists of his access to Mr. McCain, three close associates said. Mr. Reed "pretty much had open access to John from 2000 to at least the end of 2006," one aide said. Lobbyist disclosure forms show that Mr. Reed went to work for the Saginaw Chippewa on Feb. 15, 2004, charging the tribe $56,000 over a year. Mr. Abramoff had tried to steal the Pequots and another tribal client from Mr. Reed, and taking down Mr. Abramoff would eliminate a competitor. Mr. Reed became the chief conduit to Mr. McCain's committee for billing documents and other information Mr. Sprague was digging up on Mr. Abramoff, Mr. Sprague said, who said Mr. Reed "did a great to service to me." "He had contacts I did not," Mr. Sprague said. "Initially, I think that the senator's office was doing Reed a favor by listening to me." A few weeks after hiring Mr. Reed, Mr. Sprague received a letter from the senator. "We have met with Scott Reed, who was very helpful on the issue," Mr. McCain wrote.

Information about Mr. Abramoff was also flowing to Mr. McCain's committee from another tribe, the Coushatta of Louisiana. The source was a consultant named Roy Fletcher, who had been Mr. McCain's deputy campaign manager in 2000, running his war room in South Carolina.

It was in that primary race that two of Mr. Abramoff's closest associates, Grover Norquist, who runs the nonprofit Americans for Tax Reform, and Ralph Reed, the former director of the Christian Coalition, ran a blistering campaign questioning Mr. McCain's conservative credentials. The senator and his advisers blamed that attack for Mr. McCain's loss to Mr. Bush in South Carolina, creating tensions that would resurface in the Abramoff matter.

"I was interested in busting" Mr. Abramoff, said Mr. Fletcher, who was eventually hired to represent the tribe. "That was my job. But I was also filled with righteous indignation, I got to tell you." Mr. Fletcher said he began passing information to John Weaver, Mr. McCain's chief political strategist, and other staff members in late 2003 or January 2004. Mr. Weaver confirmed the timing.

Mr. McCain announced his investigation on Feb. 26, 2004, citing an article on Mr. Abramoff in The Washington Post. He did not mention the action by lobbyists and tribes in the preceding weeks. His campaign said no one in his "innermost circle" brought information to Mr. McCain that prompted the investigation.

The senator declared he would not investigate members of Congress, whom Mr. Abramoff had lavished with tribal donations and golf outings to Scotland. But in the course of the investigation, the committee exposed Mr. Abramoff's dealings with the two men who had helped defeat Mr. McCain in the 2000 primary.

The investigation showed that Mr. Norquist's foundation was used by Mr. Abramoff to launder lobbying fees from tribes. Ralph Reed was found to have accepted $4 million to run bogus antigambling campaigns. And the investigation also highlighted Mr. Abramoff's efforts to curry favor with the House majority leader at the time, Tom DeLay, Republican of Texas, a longtime political foe who had opposed many of Mr. McCain's legislative priorities.

Mr. McCain's campaign said the senator did not "single out" Ralph Reed or Mr. Norquist, neither of whom were ever charged, and that both men fell within the "scope of the investigation." The inquiry, which led to guilty pleas by over a dozen individuals, was motivated by a desire to help aggrieved tribes, the campaign said.

Inside the investigation, the sense of schadenfreude was palpable, according to several people close to the senator. "It was like hitting pay dirt," said one associate of Mr. McCain's who had consulted with the senator's office on the investigation. "And face it - McCain and Weaver were maniacal about Ralph Reed and Norquist. They were sticking little pins in dolls because those guys had cost him South Carolina."

Down on the Coushattas reservation, bills related to the investigation kept coming. After firing Mr. Abramoff, the tribe hired Kent Hance, a lawyer and former Texas congressman who said he had been friends with Mr. McCain since the 1980s. David Sickey, the tribe's vice chairman, said he was "dumbfounded" over the bills submitted by Mr. Hance's firm, Hance Scarborough, which had been hired by Mr. Sickey's predecessors. "The very thing we were fighting seemed to be happening all over again - these absurd amounts of money being paid," Mr. Sickey said.

Mr. Hance's firm billed the tribe nearly $1.3 million over 11 months in legal and political consulting fees, records show. But Mr. Sickey said that the billing statements offered only vague explanations for services and that he could not point to any tangible results. Two consultants, for instance, were paid to fight the expansion of gambling in Texas - even though it was unlikely given that the governor there opposed any such prospect, Mr. Sickey said.

Mr. Hance and Jay B. Stewart, the firm's managing partner, defended their team's work, saying they successfully steered the tribe through a difficult period. "We did an outstanding job for them," Mr. Hance said. "When we told them our bill was going to be $100,000 a month, they thought we were cheap. Mr. Abramoff had charged them $1 million a month."

The firm's fees covered the services of Mr. Fletcher, who served as the tribe's spokesman. Records also show that Mr. Hance had Mr. Weaver - who was serving as Mr. McCain's chief strategist - put on the tribe's payroll from February to May 2005.

It is not precisely clear what role Mr. Weaver played for his $100,000 fee. Mr. Stewart said Mr. Weaver was hired because "he had a lot of experience with the Senate, especially the new chairman, John McCain." The Hance firm told the tribe in a letter that Mr. Weaver was hired to provide "representation for the tribe before the U.S. Senate."

But Mr. Weaver never registered to lobby on the issue, and he has another explanation for his work. "The Hance law firm retained me to assist them and their client in developing an aggressive crisis management and communications strategy," Mr. Weaver said. "At no point was I asked by Kent Hance or anyone associated with him to set up meetings with anyone in or outside of government to discuss this, and if asked I would have summarily declined to do so."

In June 2005, the tribe informed Mr. Hance that his services were no longer needed.

Change in Tone

After the Abramoff scandal, Mr. McCain stopped taking campaign donations from tribes. Some American Indians were offended, especially since Mr. McCain continued to accept money from the tribes' lobbyists.

Resentment in Indian Country mounted as Mr. McCain, who was preparing for another White House run, singled out the growth in tribal gambling as one of three national issues that were "out of control." (The others were federal spending and illegal immigration.) Franklin Ducheneaux, an aide to Morris Udall who helped draft the 1988 Indian gambling law, said that position ran contrary to Mr. McCain's record. "What did he think? That Congress intended for the tribes to be only somewhat successful?" Mr. Ducheneaux said.

Mr. McCain began taking a broad look at whether the laws were sufficient to oversee the growing industry. His campaign said that the growth had put "considerable stress" on regulators and Mr. McCain held hearings on whether the federal government needed more oversight power.

An opportunity to restrain the industry came in the spring of 2005, when a small tribe in Connecticut set off a political battle. The group, the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, had won federal recognition in 2004 after producing voluminous documentation tracing its roots.

The tribe wanted to build Connecticut's third casino, which would compete with Foxwoods and another, the Mohegan Sun. Facing public opposition on the proposed casino, members of the Connecticut political establishment - many of whom had received large Pequot and Mohegan campaign donations - swung into action.

Connecticut officials claimed that a genealogical review by the Bureau of Indian Affairs was flawed, and that the Schaghticoke was not a tribe.

The tribe's opponents, led by the Washington lobbying firm Barbour Griffith & Rogers, turned to Mr. McCain's committee. It was a full-circle moment for the senator, who had helped the Pequots gain tribal recognition in the 1980s despite concerns about their legitimacy.

Now, Mr. McCain was doing a favor for allies in the Connecticut delegation, including Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, a close friend, according to two former Congressional aides. "It was one of those collegial deals," said one of the aides, who worked for Mr. McCain.

Barbour Griffith & Rogers wanted Mr. McCain to hold a hearing that would show that the Bureau of Indian Affairs was "broken," said Bradley A. Blakeman, who was a lobbyist for the firm at the time.

"It was our hope that the hearing would shed light on the fact that the bureau had not followed their rules and had improperly granted recognition to the Schaghticoke," Mr. Blakeman said. "And that the bureau would revisit the issue and follow their rules."

Mr. McCain's staff helped that effort by offering strategic advice.

His staff told a lobbyist for the firm that the Indian Affairs Committee "would love to receive a letter" from the Connecticut governor requesting a hearing, according to an e-mail exchange, and offered "guidance on what the most effective tone and approach" would be in the letter.

On May 11, 2005, Mr. McCain held a hearing billed as a general "oversight hearing on federal recognition of Indian tribes." But nearly all the witnesses were Schaghticoke opponents who portrayed the tribe as imposters.

Mr. McCain set the tone: "The role that gaming and its nontribal backers have played in the recognition process has increased perceptions that it is unfair, if not corrupt."

Chief Richard F. Velky of the Schaghticokes found himself facing off against the governor and most of the state's congressional delegation. "The deck was stacked against us," Mr. Velky said. "They were given lots of time. I was given five minutes."

He had always believed Mr. McCain "to be an honest and fair man," Mr. Velky said, "but this didn't make me feel that good."

Mr. Velky said he felt worse when the e-mail messages between the tribe's opponents and Mr. McCain's staff surfaced in a federal lawsuit. "Is there a letter telling me how to address the senator to give me the best shot?" Mr. Velky asked. "No, there is not."

After the hearing, Pablo E. Carrillo, who was Mr. McCain's chief Abramoff investigator at the time, wrote to a Barbour Griffith & Rogers lobbyist, Brant Imperatore. "Your client's side definitely got a good hearing record," Mr. Carillo wrote, adding "you probably have a good sense" on where Mr. McCain "is headed on this."

"Well done!" he added.

Cynthia Shaw, a Republican counsel to the committee from 2005 to 2007, said Mr. McCain made decisions based on merit, not special interests. "Everybody got a meeting who asked for one," Ms. Shaw said, "whether you were represented by counsel or by a lobbyist - or regardless of which lobbyist."

Mr. McCain's campaign defended the senator's handling of the Schaghticoke case, saying no staff member acted improperly. The campaign said the session was part of normal committee business and the notion that Mr. McCain was intending to help Congressional colleagues defeat the tribe was "absolutely false."

It added that the senator's commitment to Indian sovereignty "remains as strong as ever."

Within months of the May 2005 hearing, the Bureau of Indian Affairs took the rare step of rescinding the Schaghticokes' recognition. A federal court recently rejected the tribe's claim that the reversal was politically motivated.

Making an Exception

That spring of 2005, as the Schaghticokes went down to defeat in the East, another tribe in the West squared off against Mr. McCain with its bid to construct a gambling emporium in California. The stakes were similar, but the outcome would be far different.

The tribe's plan to build a casino on a former Navy base just outside San Francisco represented a trend rippling across the country: American Indians seeking to build casinos near population centers, far from their reservations.

The practice, known as "off-reservation shopping," stemmed from the 1988 Indian gambling law, which included exceptions allowing some casinos to be built outside tribal lands. When Mr. McCain began his second stint as chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee three years ago, Las Vegas pressed him to revisit the exceptions he had helped create, according to Sig Rogich, the Republican fund-raiser from Nevada.

"We told him this off-reservation shopping had to stop," Mr. Rogich said. "It was no secret that the gaming industry, as well as many potentially affected communities in other states, voiced opposition to the practice."

In the spring of 2005, Mr. McCain announced he was planning a sweeping overhaul of Indian gambling laws, including limiting off-reservation casinos. His campaign said Las Vegas had nothing to do with it. In a 2005 interview with The Oregonian, Mr. McCain said that if Congress did not act, "soon every Indian tribe is going to have a casino in downtown, metropolitan areas."

Prospects for the proposed California project did not look promising. Then the tribe, the Guidiville Band of Pomo Indians, hired a lobbyist based in Phoenix named Wes Gullett.

Mr. Gullett, who had never represented tribes before Congress, had known Mr. McCain since the early 1980s. Mr. Gullett met his wife while they were working in Mr. McCain's Washington office. He subsequently managed Mr. McCain's 1992 Senate campaign and served as a top aide to his 2000 presidential campaign. Their friendship went beyond politics. When Mr. McCain's wife, Cindy, brought two infants in need of medical treatment back to Arizona from Bangladesh, the Gulletts adopted one baby and the McCains the other. The two men also liked to take weekend trips to Las Vegas.

Another of Mr. McCain's close friends, former Defense Secretary William S. Cohen, was a major investor in the Guidivilles' proposed casino. Mr. Cohen, who did not return calls, was best man at Mr. McCain's 1980 wedding.

Scott Crowell, lawyer for the Guidivilles, said Mr. Gullett was hired to ensure that Mr. McCain's overhaul of the Indian gambling laws did not harm the tribe.

Mr. Gullett said he never talked to Mr. McCain about the legislation. "If you are hired directly to lobby John McCain, you are not going to be effective," he said. Mr. Gullett said he only helped prepare the testimony of the tribe's administrator, Walter Gray, who was invited to plead his case before Mr. McCain's committee in July 2005. Mr. Gullett said he advised Mr. Gray in a series of conference calls.

On disclosure forms filed with the Senate, however, Mr. Gullett stated that he was not hired until November, long after Mr. Gray's testimony. Mr. Gullett said the late filing might have been "a mistake, but it was inadvertent." Steve Hart, a former lawyer for the Guidivilles, backed up Mr. Gullett's contention that he had guided Mr. Gray on his July testimony.

When asked whether Mr. Gullett had helped him, Mr. Gray responded, "I've never met the man and couldn't tell you anything about him."

On Nov. 18, 2005, when Mr. McCain introduced his promised legislation overhauling the Indian gambling law, he left largely intact a provision that the Guidivilles needed for their casino. Mr. McCain's campaign declined to answer whether the senator spoke with Mr. Gullett or Mr. Cohen about the project. In the end, Mr. McCain's bill died, largely because Indian gambling interests fought back. But the Department of Interior picked up where Mr. McCain left off, effectively doing through regulations what he had hoped to accomplish legislatively. Carl Artman, who served as the Interior Department's assistant secretary of Indian Affairs until May, said Mr. McCain pushed him to rewrite the off-reservation rules. "It became one of my top priorities because Senator McCain made it clear it was one of his top priorities," he said.

The new guidelines were issued on Jan. 4. As a result, the casino applications of 11 tribes were rejected. The Guidivilles were not among them.

Kitty Bennett and Griff Palmer contributed to reporting.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

McCain’s links to the Russia-Georgia conflict in 2008…

Published on Wednesday, August 20, 2008 by CommonDreams.org

Is Georgia 2008 a Repeat of Hungary 1956, With John McCain as Agent Provocateur?

by Allan J. Lichtman

The crisis in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia eerily recalls a tragedy of the Cold War, the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. That year, after revolutionaries challenged Soviet control of this satellite state, Russian tanks and troops rolled into Hungary. They crushed the revolt at a cost of some 2,500 Hungarian lives. As in this year's tragedy in Georgia, the United States did nothing to halt the Soviet onslaught. The administration of President Dwight Eisenhower offered only pious words.

Although the Eisenhower administration denied it at the time, we now know many decades later from recently declassified documents that the United States government was an agent provocateur in the Hungarian revolt. Radio Free Europe, a puppet of the CIA, beamed broadcasts into Hungary which gave the revolutionaries reason to believe that they could expect aid from the United States - aid that the administration was unprepared to provide. The conclusion of Charles Gati in his respected 2006 book on the Hungarian Revolution is worth quoting at length because it bears so directly on today's events in Georgia:

New information shows how disingenuous the United States was when it kept the Hungarians' hopes alive - even as it made no preparations to help them either militarily or diplomatically. The initials "NATO" could summarize its approach, No Action, Only Talk. The Dwight D. Eisenhower administration's official declaratory policy of rollback and liberation ... amounted to hypocrisy mitigated only by self-delusion; the more evident goal was to satisfy the far-right wing of the Republican Party led by Senator Joseph McCarthy and roll back the Democrats from Capitol Hill.

In the current crisis, President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia fell into a Soviet trap by moving troops into the disputed territory of South Ossetia and raining artillery and rocket fire on the South Ossetian capital city of Tskhinvali, with a still undetermined loss of civilian life. As in 1956, the Soviets responded with overwhelming force and additional loss of life. Once again the United States could offer only words, not concrete aid to the Georgians..

It is difficult to believe that like the Hungarians in 1956, the Georgians in 2008 could have taken such rash action without believing that they could expect support from the United States. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice denies that the Bush administration denies was the agent provocateur in Georgia. To the contrary, a State Department source said that she explicitly warned President Saakashvili in July to avoid provoking Russia.

If this information is correct, then, by inference, John McCain emerges as the most likely suspect as agent provocateur. First, McCain had a unique and privileged pipeline to President Saakashvili. McCain's top foreign policy advisor, Randy Scheunemann, was a partner in a two-man firm that served as a paid lobbyist for the Georgian government. Scheunemann continued receiving compensation from the firm until the McCain campaign imposed new restrictions on lobbyists in mid-May. Scheunemann helped arrange a telephone conversation between McCain and Saakashvili on April 17 of this year, while he was still being paid by Georgia.

Second, while most Senators would hesitate to conduct their own private foreign policy, McCain follows his own muse and defers to no one, including the President of the United States. Third, McCain has benefited politically from the crisis in Georgia. As with the Eisenhower administration's rhetoric of liberation, McCain's swift and belligerent response to the Soviet actions in Georgia has bolstered his shaky standing with the right-wing of the Republican Party. McCain has also used the Georgian situation to assert his credentials as the hardened warrior ready to do battle against a resurgent Russia. He has pointedly contrasted his foreign policy experience with that of his Democratic opponent Barack Obama.

Since the crisis erupted, McCain has focused like a laser on Georgia, to great effect. According to a Quinnipiac University National Poll released on August 19 he has gained four points on Obama since their last poll in mid-July and leads his rival by a two to one margin as the candidate best qualified to deal with Russia.

Although McCain does not speak officially for the Bush administration, Saakashvili would likely take very seriously any communication from the presumptive Republican Party nominee for president. As with the CIA in the Hungarian crisis of 1956, McCain may well have given the Georgian president greater assurances of American backing for his actions than the US government could provide.

At minimum, John McCain has a lot of explaining to do. He must explain the precise role that the paid lobbyist played in shaping his policies on Georgia and Russia. He must explain why he retains the lobbyist as his foreign policy advisor even though Scheunemann will ultimately benefit from the revenue raking in by his company. McCain must reveal precisely what he said to Saakashvili in the April 17 conservation and the other private contacts he claims to have had with the Georgian president. On the eve of the presidential election, the American people deserve no less. We should not have to wait decades to find out what really happened in Georgia.

Allan J. Lichtman is Professor of History at American University in Washington, DC. His most recent book is White Protestant Nation: The Rise of the American Conservative Movement.
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On the media’s confusing “noise” over this campaign, which helps McCain:

DON'T READ THIS, by Steven Weber
Posted August 20, 2008 | 11:19 AM (EST)
Huffington Post

Detach [from the major media]. Detach and save your soul.

Because there isn't anything you will learn that you already don't know in your heart. You've seen this movie before, over and over and you know what they'll say, what they want to do. They will say John McCain is a hero and Barack Obama is different and they want to open your head and keep it open until they have poured as much trash into it as it can hold.

And it can hold a lot, having been stretched like bladders under a patchwork of skin grafts for the last decade. What used to be a repository for hope, for dreams, for decency toward others, is now a receptacle for lies.

Because there is simply no gauge, no math that can square a guy like McCain unless it's rigged, which of course it is. Just like there was never any real accounting for the likes of Bush and his warped legacy of failure though that failure is clear as day. There is just no way to forgive these con men who are able to perform the most paltry sleight of hand to the continued mind-numbing mystification of the masses; nor will there be any way to justify the tragic fallibility of those that have and continue to support them, those legions of bobble heads allowing the rapists to do what comes naturally to them, angry even if they should ever be thwarted. Who would prefer going to a dentist who, though likable in a frat-boy kind of way, leaves the mouths of his patients a bloody, pus-filled mess?

Zealots rarely wake up and greed whores rarely reform. Any assertion to the contrary is more of the con, more cant to swallow whole, more illusion sold as reality. Let's hope the lights never do come on at this point. Americans will be shocked at the state of themselves.

So detach. Turn off your TV's. Turn away from the pundits, the polls and the pols. Don't listen to them anymore. You can do it. You need to.

Detach. [--And go mobilize the vote for Barack Obama]

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Here are just a few pieces on John McCain’s demented choice for vice-president—the divisive liar and “smear queen” Sarah Palin, revealing McCain’s obvious pandering to the “pseudo-Christians” who have trampled on everything for which Jesus stood, and also revealing his reckless judgment in appointing someone who, if McCain were to die in office (a good statistical probability) would have NO COMPETENCE WHATSOEVER to be Commander-in-Chief!

From: ~~ Ed Schultz
http://www.bigeddieradio.com/ Sept. 27, 2008

Capitol Hill sources are telling me that senior McCain people are more than concerned about Palin.

The campaign has held a mock debate and a mock press conference; both are being described as "disastrous." One senior McCain aide was quoted as saying, "What are we going to do?" The McCain people want to move this first debate to some later, undetermined date, possibly never. People on the inside are saying the Alaska Governor is "clueless."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
From the *conservative* National Review Online website:

Kathleen Parker - National Review Online:
http://tinyurl.com/4k3pg5

Palin's recent interviews with Charles Gibson, Sean Hannity, and now Katie Couric have all revealed an attractive, earnest, confident candidate… Who Is Clearly Out Of Her League.

No one hates saying that more than I do. Like so many women, I've been pulling for Palin, wishing her the best, hoping she will perform brilliantly. I've also noticed that I watch her interviews with the held breath of an anxious parent, my finger poised over the mute button in case it gets too painful. Unfortunately, it often does. My cringe reflex is exhausted.

Palin filibusters. She repeats words, filling space with deadwood. Cut the verbiage and there's not much content there. Here's but one example of many from her interview with Hannity: "Well, there is a danger in allowing some obsessive partisanship to get into the issue that we're talking about today. And that's something that John McCain, too, his track record, proving that he can work both sides of the aisle, he can surpass the partisanship that must be surpassed to deal with an issue like this."

When Couric pointed to polls showing that the financial crisis had boosted Obama's numbers, Palin blustered wordily: "I'm not looking at poll numbers. What I think Americans at the end of the day are going to be able to go back and look at track records and see who's more apt to be talking about solutions and wishing for and hoping for solutions for some opportunity to change, and who's actually done it?"

If BS were currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street herself.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

How Sarah Palin’s debate “performance” was viewed by serious observers in England:

Flirting her way to victory? Sarah Palin's farcical debate performance lowered the standards for both female candidates and US political discourse.
The Guardian newspaper, Friday, October 3 2008
guardian.co.uk

At least three times last night, Sarah Palin, the adorable, preposterous vice-presidential candidate, winked at the audience.
Had a male candidate with a similar reputation for attractive vapidity made such a brazen attempt to flirt his way into the good graces of the voting public, it would have been universally noted, discussed and mocked. Palin, however, has single handedly so lowered the standards both for female candidates and American political discourse that, with her newfound ability to speak in more-or-less full sentences, she is now deemed to have performed acceptably last night.

By any normal standard, including the ones applied to male presidential candidates of either party, she did not. Early on, she made the astonishing announcement that she had no intentions of actually answering the queries put to her. "I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I'm going to talk straight to the American people and let them know my track record also," she said. And so she preceded, with an almost surreal disregard for the subjects she was supposed to be discussing, to unleash fusillades of scripted attack lines, platitudes, lies, gibberish and grating references to her own pseudo-folksy authenticity.

It was an appalling display. The only reason it was not widely described as such is that too many American pundits don't even try to judge the truth, wisdom or reasonableness of the political rhetoric they are paid to pronounce upon. Instead, they imagine themselves as interpreters of a mythical mass of "average Americans" who they both venerate and despise.

In pronouncing upon a debate, they don't try and determine whether a candidate's responses correspond to existing reality, or whether he or she is capable of talking about subjects such as the deregulation of the financial markets or the devolution of the war in Afghanistan. The criteria are far more vaporous. In this case, it was whether Palin could avoid utterly humiliating herself for 90 minutes, and whether urbane commentators would believe that she had connected to a public that they see as ignorant and sentimental. For the Alaska governor, mission accomplished.

There is indeed something mesmerising about Palin, with her manic beaming and fulsome confidence in her own charm. The force of her personality managed to slightly obscure the insulting emptiness of her answers last night. It's worth reading the transcript of the encounter, where it becomes clearer how bizarre much of what she said was. Here, for example,is how she responded to Biden's comments about how the middle class has been short-changed during the Bush administration, and how McCain will continue Bush's policies:

”Say it ain't so, Joe, there you go again pointing backwards again. You preferenced [sic] your whole comment with the Bush administration. Now doggone it, let's look ahead and tell Americans what we have to plan to do for them in the future. You mentioned education, and I'm glad you did. I know education you are passionate about with your wife being a teacher for 30 years, and god bless her. Her reward is in heaven, right? ... My brother, who I think is the best schoolteacher in the year, and here's a shout-out to all those third graders at Gladys Wood Elementary School, you get extra credit for watching the debate.”

Evidently, Palin's pre-debate handlers judged her incapable of speaking on a fairly wide range of subjects, and so instructed to her to simply disregard questions that did not invite memorised talking points or cutesy filibustering. They probably told her to play up her spunky average-ness, which she did to the point of shtick - and dishonesty. Asked what her achilles heel is - a question she either didn't understand or chose to ignore - she started in on how McCain chose her because of her "connection to the heartland of America. Being a mom, one very concerned about a son in the war, about a special needs child, about kids heading off to college, how are we going to pay those tuition bills?"

None of Palin's children, it should be noted, is heading off to college. Her son is on the way to Iraq, and her pregnant 17-year-old daughter is engaged to be married to a high-school dropout and self-described "fuckin' redneck".

Palin is a woman who can't even tell the truth about the most quotidian and public details of her own life, never mind about matters of major public import. In her only vice-presidential debate, she was shallow, mendacious and phoney. What kind of maverick, after all, keeps harping on what a maverick she is? That her performance was considered anything but a farce doesn't show how high Palin has risen, but how low we all have sunk.

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A HUGE SOURCE FOR ARTICLES, OP-EDS, EMAILS, ETC. (PRO & CON), ON SARAH PALIN is: http://www.andrys.com/palin-kilkenny.html

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Is Sarah Palin a good “steward” of the environment, as the Bible would have us be?

No way!! Here’s a press release from a noted environmental group:

[Press Release] From: Defenders of Wildlife Fund

August 29, 2008

A few hours ago, the news broke that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has been selected by Sen. John McCain as the vice presidential candidate for the Republican ticket. As a Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund supporter, you are no doubt aware of Governor Palin’s dismal record, from her staunch support for special interests and Big Oil to her terrible assault on wolves and other wildlife. As much of the nation wonders just who Sarah Palin is, I wanted to pass along my statement that I've just released.

Please read it and pass it along to everyone you know.

Thanks for your continued support,

Rodger
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 29, 2008

Shocking Choice by John McCain

WASHINGTON-- Senator John McCain just announced his choice for running mate: Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska. To follow is a statement by Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund.

“Senator McCain’s choice for a running mate is beyond belief. By choosing Sarah Palin, McCain has clearly made a decision to continue the Bush legacy of destructive environmental policies.

“Sarah Palin, whose husband works for BP (formerly British Petroleum), has repeatedly put special interests first when it comes to the environment. In her scant two years as governor, she has lobbied aggressively to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, pushed for more drilling off of Alaska’s coasts, and put special interests above science. Ms. Palin has made it clear through her actions that she is unwilling to do even as much as the Bush administration to address the impacts of global warming. Her most recent effort has been to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the polar bear from the endangered species list, putting Big Oil before sound science. As unbelievable as this may sound, this actually puts her to the right of the Bush administration.

“This is Senator McCain’s first significant choice in building his executive team and it’s a bad one. It has to raise serious doubts in the minds of voters about John McCain’s commitment to conservation, to addressing the impacts of global warming and to ensuring our country ends its dependency on oil.”

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The Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund (www.defendersactionfund.org) provides a powerful voice in Washington to Americans who value our conservation heritage. Through grassroots lobbying, issue advocacy and political campaigns, the Action Fund champions those laws and lawmakers that protect wildlife and wild places while working against those that do them harm.

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