Saturday, August 30, 2008

McCain picks Sarah Palin as vice presidential running mate

I'm still trying to figure out who this Sarah Palin is:

DAYTON, Ohio - Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain introduced his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, at a raucous rally Friday, praising her "tenacity" and "skill" in tackling tough problems.

"She is exactly who this country needs to help us fight the same old Washington politics of me first and country second," McCain told supporters in Dayton.

Palin, who becomes the first woman to serve on a GOP presidential ticket and the first Alaskan to appear on a national ticket, echoed McCain's appeal to battle the status quo in Washington.

"This is a matter when principles ... matter more than the party line," she said to the cheering crowd of 15,000.


Palin's selection was a stunning surprise, as McCain passed over many other better-known prospects, some of whom had been the subject of intense speculation for weeks or months.

At 44, she is a generation younger than Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, who is Barack Obama's running mate on the Democratic ticket.

She is three years Obama's junior, as well, and McCain has made much in recent weeks of Obama's relative lack of experience in foreign policy and defense matters.

Quick points here. First it is certainly a risky move for the McCain campaign to select someone even younger than Barack Obama as his running mate. Palin seems to have a very flimsy resume, having been Alaska's governor for only two years. Palin also has no foreign policy experience. Finally, looking at how Hillary Clinton's presidential run had energized Democratic women, McCain may have chosen Palin as a means of courting support from Hillary Clinton's female supporters who wanted to see a woman president elected. There is a lot more here, and I want to go through the information and details of Palin's selection.

More to come.

Saturday Morning Cartoons--Rabbit Fire

This is the first of Chuck Jones' famous hunting trilogy, Rabbit Fire! The brilliance of this cartoon is that the humor is found in the bickering dialog between Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, with a befuddled Elmer Fudd having not a clue as to what is going on. Of course, Daffy gets the business end of Elmer's shotgun, causing Daffy's beak to be shot off his head numerous times--talk about a running site gag! So for your viewing pleasure, here is Chuck Jones masterpiece, Rabbit Fire:

Duck season!
Wabbit season!
Duck season!
Wabbit season!

Friday, August 29, 2008

More commentary on the Democratic convention

I've been watching and reading about the Democratic National Convention, thinking about what I want to say. For the moment, I'm going to list the major speeches that took place at the Democratic National Convention. And I'm going to start with Barack Obama's acceptance speech:

And here is the transcript.

Barack Obama's acceptance speech was just that incredible. Barack Obama had to accomplish three goals with this speech. The first goal was to introduce himself to the American people. Obama had to show the American people that he was not an out-of-touch elitist that the Republicans have been tarring him for the past month, but rather that he understood the problems that ordinary Americans were faced with over the past eight years of the Bush administration. He gave examples of how he saw his grandfather marching in Patton's Army within the faces of young veterans coming back from Iraq, or that he saw his mother's face, raising himself and his sister, while working long hours and going to school, among a young student "who sleeps just three hours before working the night shift...." Obama saw middle-class Americans facing hard economic challenges, and probably believes that he can help Americans overcome those challenges.

The second goal for Obama was to attack John McCain. This is the start of the general election, and it is time for the Obama campaign to launch their own attack against the McCain campaign for the goal of taking the White House. Consider this:

John McCain has voted with George Bush ninety percent of the time. Senator McCain likes to talk about judgment, but really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush has been right more than ninety percent of the time? I don't know about you, but I'm not ready to take a ten percent chance on change.


Now, I don't believe that Senator McCain doesn't care what's going on in the lives of Americans. I just think he doesn't know. Why else would he define middle-class as someone making under five million dollars a year? How else could he propose hundreds of billions in tax breaks for big corporations and oil companies but not one penny of tax relief to more than one hundred million Americans? How else could he offer a health care plan that would actually tax people's benefits, or an education plan that would do nothing to help families pay for college, or a plan that would privatize Social Security and gamble your retirement?

It's not because John McCain doesn't care. It's because John McCain doesn't get it.

For over two decades, he's subscribed to that old, discredited Republican philosophy - give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society, but what it really means is - you're on your own. Out of work? Tough luck. No health care? The market will fix it. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps - even if you don't have boots. You're on your own.

Well it's time for them to own their failure. It's time for us to change America.

That is about as powerful of an attack that you can launch against John McCain. What Obama has done is to combine the argument that a McCain presidency is not only a third Bush term, but also that a President McCain doesn't have a clue as to the problems that middle-class Americans are facing, nor does McCain have the political policies necessary to promote change for America. The Obama campaign will need to slam McCain over and over again on how John McCain doesn't get it.

The final goal for Barack Obama's speech is a combination of presenting his political policies to America if Obama is elected, and the issue of change. The political policies are a mish-mash of big ticket items, like ending the war in Iraq, or health care reform, and smaller ticket items, such as bankruptcy reform or equal pay for equal work. The political policies are somewhat vague, but then John McCain will present his mish-mash of vague political policies next week at the Republican National Convention.

But the change message is much more important. It has been woven throughout Obama's speech. But the change that Obama is addressing is a combination of what Obama calls "Individual responsibility and mutual responsibility." According to Obama:

[We} must also admit that fulfilling America's promise will require more than just money. It will require a renewed sense of responsibility from each of us to recover what John F. Kennedy called our "intellectual and moral strength." Yes, government must lead on energy independence, but each of us must do our part to make our homes and businesses more efficient. Yes, we must provide more ladders to success for young men who fall into lives of crime and despair. But we must also admit that programs alone can't replace parents; that government can't turn off the television and make a child do her homework; that fathers must take more responsibility for providing the love and guidance their children need.

This is a powerful message that Obama presents. It is a message that individuals must be responsible for their own actions, but that government will be there to help solve the greater problems that America faces. In a sense, Obama is trying to renew the social compact between the individual's freedoms and responsibilities, and the government's role to protect and assist such individuals when they need help. It is a message that resonated deeply within the 80,000 enthusiastic supporters at Mile High Stadium.

Now let us go with the Democratic Party's vice presidential nominee Joe Biden's speech. You can view Biden's acceptance speech here:

And the transcript is here.

Joe Biden accomplished two goals in this speech. The first goal was to inform Americans that Barack Obama understood the problems and issues that Americans are facing. According to Biden:

Barack Obama gets it. Like many of us, Barack worked his way up. His is a great American story.

You know, I believe the measure of a man isn’t just the road he’s traveled; it’s the choices he’s made along the way. Barack Obama could have done anything after he graduated from college. With all his talent and promise, he could have written his ticket to Wall Street. But that’s not what he chose to do. He chose to go to Chicago. The South Side. There he met men and women who had lost their jobs. Their neighborhood was devastated when the local steel plant closed. Their dreams deferred. Their dignity shattered. Their self-esteem gone.

And he made their lives the work of his life. That’s what you do when you’ve been raised by a single mom, who worked, went to school and raised two kids on her own. That’s how you come to believe, to the very core of your being, that work is more than a paycheck. It’s dignity. It’s respect. It’s about whether you can look your children in the eye and say: we’re going to be ok.

What is especially interesting here is that Biden discovered a profound respect and admiration of Obama as the two fought each other during the Democratic primaries. Biden debated Obama, saw how Obama reacted under pressure, and learned about Obama's mind and intellect. Biden realized just how Obama tapped into the psyche of the American people with his message of change. These are probably the reason why Biden courted Obama to become his running mate.

And Biden then turned around and showed a profound change with his own relationship with John McCain. Going back to Biden's speech:

John McCain is my friend. We’ve known each other for three decades. We’ve traveled the world together. It’s a friendship that goes beyond politics. And the personal courage and heroism John demonstrated still amaze me.

But I profoundly disagree with the direction that John wants to take the country.

This is a powerful pivot that Biden makes. First he shows his admiration and respect for Obama, with who he has gotten to know during the Democratic primaries. Biden supports Obama's message of change. But then Biden pivots and, while acknowledging his friendship with John McCain, and McCain's heroism, completely disagrees with McCain on the direction that McCain will take the country if elected to the White House. Biden then rips McCain in issue after issue, saying that John McCain is wrong and Barack Obama is right. It really shows just how much of an attack dog that Joe Biden will be for the Obama campaign.

Now let us go to Bill Clinton's speech. I will have to admit, I enjoy watching Bill Clinton speak. I've seen him speak twice--once at San Jose State in 1992, when Clinton was running against George H.W. Bush, and the second time when Bill Clinton was stumping for Hillary at the California State Democratic Convention back in March. Whether you agree with him, or not, Bill Clinton is just fun to watch. Here is the video:

When Bill Clinton stepped out on stage, he was given a three minute standing ovation from the crowd. You could almost expect Bill Clinton to be accepting the Democratic nomination, considering the enthusiasm that rocked the place. And Bill Clinton was the warm-up act for Joe Biden. Clinton threw his support for Barack Obama with this speech. He even adapted part of his stump speech for supporting Hillary Clinton's candidacy to supporting Barack Obama's candidacy--mainly with attacking the Republican economic policies and foreign policies as being "more of the same." But the real interesting detail in Bill Clinton's speech was how Clinton linked his administration's peace and prosperity with a future Barack Obama administration:

My fellow Democrats, sixteen years ago, you gave me the profound honor to lead our party to victory and to lead our nation to a new era of peace and broadly shared prosperity.

Together, we prevailed in a campaign in which the Republicans said I was too young and too inexperienced to be Commander-in-Chief. Sound familiar? It didn’t work in 1992, because we were on the right side of history. And it won’t work in 2008, because Barack Obama is on the right side of history.

The Big Dog hath spoken.

Finally, I should say a few words about Hillary Clinton's speech. Hillary Clinton had one major goal to achieve in her speech at the Democratic National Convention. And that goal was to unify the party and bring her supporters into the Obama campaign. Here is the video of her speech:

And here is the transcript.

Hillary Clinton received a huge standing ovation when she stepped out on the stage. Clinton told her supporters, who she called, "my sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits," that "the time is now to unite as a single party with a single purpose. We are on the same team, and none of us can sit on the sidelines." Clinton also told her supporters that they "haven’t worked so hard over the last 18 months, or endured the last eight years, to suffer through more failed leadership." That was the theme of Clinton's speech here. Clinton asked her supporters, "Were you in this campaign just for me?" Or were her supporters in Clinton's campaign for Americans suffering from the problems the country faced under eight years of the Bush administration, and the potential four more years of a McCain administration. As historic as Clinton's campaign was, Clinton argued that it was time to unify the party behind Obama, to remove the Republicans out of the White House--"No way. No how. No McCain."

Hillary Clinton rocked the convention that night.

Will her supporters accept Clinton's argument at the convention? I'm not going to say that every Clinton supporter will go out and vote for Obama. But Hillary Clinton did make a compelling argument to look beyond the Democratic primary squabble, and concentrate on the bigger prize of the White House. One of the most chilling parts of Clinton's speech was this:

This is the story of America. Of women and men who defy the odds and never give up.

How do we give this country back to them?

By following the example of a brave New Yorker , a woman who risked her life to shepherd slaves along the Underground Railroad.

And on that path to freedom, Harriett Tubman had one piece of advice.

If you hear the dogs, keep going.

If you see the torches in the woods, keep going.

If they're shouting after you, keep going.

Don't ever stop. Keep going.

If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.

Even in the darkest of moments, ordinary Americans have found the faith to keep going.

If there was ever an example as to why Democrats should "keep going" in supporting Barack Obama over the continuing nightmare that could be the Bush-McCain administration, Clinton nailed it here. The choice is before Americans as to whether to return our country back to the law, and the liberties and freedoms that Americans have an unalienable right to, or to continue down the dark path of dogs, torches, and angry shouts of this totalitarian presidency of King George The Deciderer, and his aristocratic prince, John McCain.

And you haven’t worked so hard over the last 18 months, or endured the last eight years, to suffer through more failed leadership.

No way. No how. No McCain.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Giuliani: "No Executive Experience"

I found this YouTube video, through Americablog, in which former GOP presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani told Brian Williams on MSNBC today that “this is not the time to have somebody with no executive experience as President of the United States.” Now I'm certain that Giuliani was attacking Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama for his lack of "executive experience," considering that Obama has been a U.S. senator. However, Giuliani fails to acknowledge that Republican presidential candidate John McCain also does not have any executive experience since, according to Giuliani's quote, McCain is also a U.S. senator from Arizona. In other words, both candidates do not have the "executive experience" that Giuliani claims is important at this time. Talk about a real stupid thing to say Mr. Noun, Verb, and a 9/11. From YouTube:

Thoughts on the Democratic convention

I've been watching, and thinking, about the events taking place at the Democratic National Convention for the past couple of days. First, I want to say that there have been some major speeches given by Democratic leaders that will have a profound affect on the party for this election. I want to first go with Michelle Obama's speech introducing her husband, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Michelle Obama had an important job, Monday night, to introduce the American people who Barack Obama really was. It was a speech to humanize, and personalize, Barack Obama to American viewers who have finished watching the non-stop Olympic coverage, and start looking into the general election race for the White House. The problem the Obama campaign has had is that Barack Obama is identified with some serious negative connotations, amplified by the GOP noise machine--Barack Obama is a Muslim! Barack Obama is a terrorist! Barack Obama is an anti-American! Michelle Obama hates America! Yes, the GOP noise machine have even gone after Michelle Obama with their negative attacks. So this was an important prime-time speech that Michelle Obama gave, and she really hit it out of the park. She introduced herself and Obama's lives as that of any middle-class American's lives. Michelle grew up in a blue-collar environment, dealing with the hardship of her father suffering from Multiple Sclerosis. Both parents worked to send Michelle and her brother to college. Michelle talked about meeting Barack, and how Barack was raised by his grandparents, and how they shared common dreams, "that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you're going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don't know them, and even if you don't agree with them." In a sense, Michelle Obama's speech was instrumental in transforming Barack Obama from the anti-American, Muslim-terrorist-politician, as presented by the GOP smear machine, to a "Cliff Huxtable" image of a loving African-American father and family man. You can see Michelle's speech here:

But what really brought out the humanization of Barack Obama was at the end of Michelle's speech, was when the two daughters came out, on stage with their mother, and greeted Barack Obama via satellite connection from Missouri. The kids screamed in delight upon seeing their father, saying "Hi Daddy," and "I love you Daddy," multiple times. It may have been a scripted moment of having Obama beamed through satellite video at the end of Michelle's speech, to greet the convention, however the unscripted moments of the kids' delight was the closing moment in shredding the GOP's character smears on Barack Obama's image. It was the most important job Michelle Obama had to give for that first night of the Democratic convention--introduce America to Barack Obama. And she nailed it.

Next I want to talk about Senator Ted Kennedy's speech at the Democratic National Convention, Monday night. You can view the speech here through YouTube:

Back in May of 2008, Senator Kennedy was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Doctors estimated that the median survival rate for this tumor, an aggressive glioma, is around 15 months for Kennedy's age of 76. The interesting point here to make is that Ted Kennedy came out to what may be his final Democratic National Convention appearance, and pass Kennedy's "Democratic icon" to a new generation--the generation of Barack Obama. That was the importance of Ted Kennedy's appearance at the DNC, and his endorsement of Barack Obama.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Full video of Barack Obama's speech introducing Joe Biden, and Biden's acceptance speech

Here is the video from MSNBC of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama introducing Joe Biden as his vice presidential running mate, and Biden's acceptance.

The Sunday morning talk shows will go crazy talking about Joe Biden. I will also say that, after watching the MSNBC video of Biden's speech, Biden is doing a pretty good job as an Obama attack dog against Republican presidential candidate John McCain. The Obama campaign really needed this. Barack Obama seemed a little uncomfortable in playing the attack dog role against McCain, especially considering how Obama had run his primary campaign as a campaign of "change," against Senator Hillary Clinton's "kitchen sink" attacks against Obama. After Obama returned from his vacation in Hawaii, the Obama campaign started attacking McCain over his gaffes. Now the Obama campaign has "bad cop" Joe Biden to hammer the attacks against McCain, while "good cop" Barack Obama can continue his message of change.

The presidential campaign has really gotten interesting. Now it is time to learn who John McCain will pick for his running mate.

Update: The transcripts for both Barack Obama's and Joe Biden's speeches are here. And this little quote from Biden's speech shows just how hard of an attack dog Biden will be:

Ladies and gentlemen, your kitchen table is like mine. You sit there at night before you put the kids -- after you put the kids to bed and you talk, you talk about what you need. You talk about how much you are worried about being able to pay the bills. Well, ladies and gentlemen, that's not a worry John McCain has to worry about. It’s a pretty hard experience. He’ll have to figure out which of the seven kitchen tables to sit at.

Forget the kitchen sink--Joe Biden is pulling out the kitchen table. OUCH!

Obama selects Joe Biden as his vice presidential running mate

The media speculation as to who Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama will pick for his vice presidential running mate is finally over--say hello to Delaware Senator Joe Biden. From YouTube:

A couple of thoughts on Joe Biden. Biden does bring an incredible amount of foreign policy expertise to the Obama campaign, considering he is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. This is probably one of the biggest reasons Barack Obama selected Biden in the first place. With Biden on the ticket, the Obama campaign can negate John McCain's attacks against Obama as being too inexperienced in foreign policy issues. Biden can also be a perfect attack dog for the Obama campaign. Biden can go on the negative attacks against McCain, while leaving Obama to stay above the fray in promoting his change message. Consider how Joe Biden shredded Rudy Giuliani's presidential qualifications as being a noun, a verb, and 9/11 in a sentence. I have to wonder just how wicked Biden will be in attacking John McCain's gaffes.

The New York Times also provides some further advantages of an Obama-Biden ticket:

Mr. Biden seems likely to fill in other gaps in Mr. Obama’s political appeal that became increasingly clear during the primary season and going into the fall. He is a Roman Catholic, a group with which Mr. Obama had trouble during the Democratic primaries; he has a blue-collar background, potentially giving him appeal among working-class voters, another bloc in which Mr. Obama ran poorly in the primaries; and he was born in Pennsylvania, a battleground state that could be vital to both parties.

Of course, Joe Biden has his own weaknesses. Biden has a habit of putting his foot in his mouth, once stating that Barack Obama was "not yet ready" to become president. While campaigning in New Hampshire, Biden also commented that “you cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent.” Biden was also caught lifting parts of a speech from British Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock for Biden's own remarks during his 1988 presidential campaign. So Biden could become a loose canon here. But if the Obama campaign can keep Biden under control, and focused on the message, then Joe Biden could be a pretty good candidate for Barack Obama.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Obama to announce his VP running mate....whenever

I really have not wanted to engage in all the vice presidential speculation for either Barack Obama or John McCain's tickets. It is an endless run-around of speculating names which regurgitate even more names, summarizing with the same names. However, Obama will be announcing his VP running mate, per

(CNN) -- Sen. Barack Obama called some people on his shortlist for the vice presidential slot Thursday night to tell them he had not selected them as a running mate, a highly placed Democratic Party source said.

The source did not say which people got the call.


The presumptive Democratic nominee is working Friday in Chicago, Illinois, on his address to next week's Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado. He has no public events scheduled Friday and will launch a string of rallies with his running mate on Saturday in Springfield, Illinois.

Obama said Thursday that he had made his decision but declined to give any further details.

Obama has told some other potential running mates over the last few weeks that he would not be choosing them, the Democratic source said.

"I won't comment on anything else until I introduce our running mate to the world," he told reporters in Emporia, Virginia. "That's all you're going to get out of me."

We now return you back to your vice presidential feeding frenzy.

McCain's latest excuse on housing gaffe--They're Cindy's houses!

I found this Marc Ambinder post through Talking Points Memo. The latest McCain campaign excuse on why Republican presidential candidate can't remember how many houses he owns--they are Cindy McCain's homes. From Marc Ambinder:

Sen. John McCain's campaign is finishing a hard-hitting television ad highlighting Barack Obama 's ties to shady Chicago land dealer Tony Rezko, the one-time Obama patron who was convicted earlier this summer of fraud.

A campaign official said that the decision to Go Rezko was Obama's. "He's opened the door to this," the official said.

The ad will be released to network news divisions in time for their broadcasts tonight.

Though McCain is widely perceived to to drawn first blood by attacking Obama's character, the official said that the difference between Obama's mocking McCain for his wealth and his shaky answer on the number of homes he owns was that McCain's charge "reflects an existential reality," where Obama's charges "attack Cindy. She owns the homes. I thought he said the wives were off-limits."

McCain strategists hope that Obama's brass knuckles punch doesn't work. "Americans don't like this class warfare stuff," the official said. They aspire to be rich, the official said. They don't aspire to eat arugala or hang out with celebrities.

Again, I could care less how many homes either John or Cindy McCain owns, the fact that John McCain can't even remember how many homes he owns shows just how clueless McCain really is. It shows just how out-of-touch McCain is to the average Americans' daily lives, or even the problems they face with the crashing housing market. That is the issue here--it is not about Cindy McCain.

Friday Fun Stuff--Knitted Ferrari

It is time to go back to some Friday Fun stuff here. And I've found the perfect auto that combines great style, flash, speed, and delivers incredible gas mileage. From YouTube:

So, does it come with a knitted Thomas Magnum as an accessory?

In his house, there are many mansions

From Ann Marie Cox over at Time:

The McCain campaign's constant invocation of the candidate's POW past is weird bordering on irrational: yesterday, Nicolle Wallace used it as evidence that McCain didn't "cheat" at Saddleback. By a VERY generous interpretation, she could have meant that POWs don't cheat. Or that once you've been a POW, you've been through so much you're above cheating. Or maybe you can't accuse a POW of cheating unless you're a POW.

Today, spokesman Brian Rogers took the same tack against the "housing crisis" they currently face: "This is a guy who lived in one house for five and a half years -- in prison." So is he arguing that we shouldn't begrudge McCain his multiple house because he once lived in an awful prison? Is he saying POWs deserve multiple houses (and you thought Obama was pro-nanny-state!)? Or maybe he's saying that McCain's several houses are really just prisons... of the soul. Man is entombed by his possessions, it's true.

It's a head-spinning non sequitur, designed to distract us from something mildly troubling with the assertion of something impressive. As if, say, the Obama campaign countered criticisms of his resume by pointing out that he's black.

Oh, wait...

McCain travels in a nine-car motorcade to Starbucks for coffee

I found this Los Angeles Times story through Americablog. The LA Times story is basically a recap of yesterday's campaign events regarding McCain's housing gaffe. But there is one very interesting detail included in the Times story:

By midafternoon, both [Obama and McCain] campaigns were in full battle cry and sought to portray the other candidate as living an ostentatious lifestyle. Both campaigns called reporters, rushed out scathing TV attack ads, unveiled new websites and unleashed surrogates.

[Republican presidential candidate John] McCain, who huddled with advisors at his desert compound in Sedona, Ariz., said nothing in public. A nine-car motorcade took him to a nearby Starbucks early in the morning, where he ordered a large cappuccino. McCain otherwise avoided reporters.

A nine-car motorcade took McCain to get a Starbucks cappuccino. Now I'm sure that of those nine cars, say half of the cars were filled with Secret Service people, while the other half were filled with McCain lobbyists, who are currently running the campaign. When was the last time you saw a nine-car motorcade pull up to the local Starbucks? It is rather ironic how the McCain campaign is attacking Obama for being an arugula-eating elitist, while at the same time, Johnny-Boy McCain is rushing to get his "cup of joe" via a nine-car motorcade. Finally, I should note that McCain's motorcade reminds me of the day McCain strolled through an Iraqi marketplace, surrounded by 100 soldiers, three Blackhawk helicopters, and two Apache gunships overhead.

So who is the elitist?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

U.S. and Iraq close to a deal in pulling out U.S. troops by 2011

I will be honest, I never would have expected President Bush to make a withdrawal timetable deal for pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq. From MSNBC News:

BAGHDAD - Iraq and the U.S. pushed close to a deal Thursday setting a course for American combat troops to pull out of Iraqi cities by next June on the way to broader withdrawal from the long and costly war by 2011.

Subject to final approval by the top Iraqi leadership, the exit date for U.S. troops would be December 2011, although the Americans insist on linking that target to additional security and political progress.

President Bush has long resisted a timetable for pulling out, even under heavy pressure from a nation distressed by American deaths and discouraged by the length of the war that began in 2003. But that has softened in recent weeks.

The timing has major political importance in both Iraq and the U.S.

The two contenders to replace Bush as U.S. commander in chief, Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama, spar almost daily over the future course of the war.

Obama wants all U.S. combat forces out of Iraq within 16 months of his taking office, saying they are needed more urgently in Afghanistan. McCain says recent security improvements in Iraq show that decisions on the timing of further pullouts should be determined by circumstances on the ground rather than by prearranged timetables — a position the White House has vigorously held until recently.

The administration has inched toward the Iraqi view that setting at least a target date for withdrawal would make it politically palatable for Iraq's government to accept a substantial U.S. troop presence beyond this year.

This is just huge. This presidential campaign has really been defined by two major issues--the slowing U.S. economy, and the U.S. war in Iraq. Both Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate John McCain have staked opposing positions on the war. Obama wanted to remove U.S. combat forces within 16 months after he enters office--around the summer of 2010. McCain wanted to continue the war in Iraq until Iraqi forces could defeat al Qaeda terrorists. Congressional Republicans have been attacking Democratic withdrawal timetables for the past couple of years. President Bush threatened to veto Iraq war spending bills if they contained withdrawal timetables. Iraq was one of the big issues in defining the presidential election for this year. And now President Bush may have just thrown the Iraq chessboard in the air. Because President Bush has now accepted a Democratic withdrawal timetable, which has been agreed upon by the Maliki government, who also expressed the demand for pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq. I'm sure that the Obama campaign will welcome the Bush withdrawal timetable plan without any criticism. But how will the McCain campaign respond, even as McCain has claimed that a U.S. pullout of Iraq would result in genocide and a civil war? McCain has even insisted that he knows what the Iraqi people want, and that the Iraqi government cannot order the U.S. to withdrawal from Iraq. John McCain has taken a hard-lined approach of continuing the U.S. war in Iraq for the next hundred years. Will he support President Bush's troop withdrawal plan or reject it? Or will McCain enthusiastically support the withdrawal plan until he is elected into office, and then rip it to shreds in order to continue his war? I can't really say.

Kevin Drum has some interesting thoughts on this latest chessboard toss:

1. This is very good news for Democrats. It means that our eventual withdrawal from Iraq will not only be a bipartisan action, it will have been the creation of a Republican president. This is going to make it almost impossible for conservatives to ramp up any kind of serious stab-in-the-back narrative against anti-war liberals.

2. Basic Obama spin: "I'm glad to see that President Bush has finally come around to my view etc. etc." This ought to be a big win for him: he visits Iraq, meets with Nouri al-Maliki, gets Maliki's endorsement for a near-term troop withdrawal, and then gets to applaud as President Bush signs on.

3. Looking ahead, it's also a big win for Obama if he wins in November. Instead of a bruising congressional battle on withdrawal starting in January, he can just continue along the path Bush has set out. At most he'll tweak it a bit, which he can do on his own and without expending a lot of political capital.

4. This is also good news for Dems in conservative districts, since it eliminates a campaign issue that potentially hurts them.

5. Basic McCain spin: "It's good news that Iraq is now secure enough that we can envision bringing our troops home etc. etc." He'll also talk about how the surge deserves all the credit and he'll claim that 2011 is a totally different thing than Obama's plan to withdraw by 2010. This isn't great spin, but it's probably the best he's got.

6. Outside of spin alley, the news for McCain is mixed. The agreement takes Iraq largely off the table as a partisan campaign issue, which might be good (the public supports withdrawal, so it's been an Achilles heel for him) or might be bad (it takes the spotlight off foreign affairs, which he considers his strong suit). Overall, though, it's got to be a negative for a guy who just a few months ago was talking about staying in Iraq for a hundred years.

7. I wonder what McCain's initial reaction to this is going to be? When rumors of an agreement like this were being floated last month, he insisted that he had talked to Maliki personally and he knew that Maliki didn't really want a timetable for withdrawal. Looks like he was wrong about that. Is he going to stick to that line, or, like Jerry Brown after Prop 13 passed in 1978, is he suddenly going to become withdrawal's greatest advocate?

This is certainly going to be a huge game-changer for Obama, since now Obama can claim that Bush has come around to a withdrawal timetable that Obama has advocated, while McCain has been completely wrong about Iraq. Drum also makes another interesting point in that the Iraq agreement takes McCain's signature foreign policy issue off the election table, forcing the McCain campaign to rethink another signature campaign issue. Considering how McCain's economic or domestic policy issues are practically a disaster, that may also be a problem for the McCain campaign.

CNN talks with McCain about his role in the Keating Five scandal

The Jedreport posted an excerpt of CNN's profile of John McCain, and his role in the Keating Five scandal. From YouTube:

MyDD's Jonathan Singer sums up the McCain campaign's problem with the Keating Five scandal (Via Americablog):

The Keating Five is an old story, so many reporters have shied away from saying much about it because it isn't new -- there aren't a whole lot of new developments in the story. But with McCain talking about allegedly shady relationships, the opportunity is there to go back over McCain's ties to Keating -- whose nefarious activities, which were at least in part aided by his relationship with McCain, ended up costing the American taxpayer $3.4 billion (a whole lot more than the $14 million Rezko was alleged to have received).

Just how close was McCain to Keating? Take a look at this rundown I posted back in January:

Though McCain might try to downplay his involvement, his campaigns received $124,000 from Keating and his associates during the 1980s (AP, 3/2/91), and McCain was described as being personally closer to Keating than any of the other members of the Keating Five (Roll Call, 1/20/92). What's more, McCain accepted more than $15,000 in free trips from Keating, including vacations to Keating's resort in the Bahamas -- trips that McCain failed to disclose at the time (New York Times, 2/28/91; San Francisco Chronicle, 12/3/90).

In the end, the crash of Keating's savings and loan -- which had been shielded by some of his best friends in the United States Senate -- cost billions to the American taxpayer, as mentioned above, and all told the federal government ended up on the hook for close to $125 billion in the fallout of the crisis that befell the underregulated industry in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Does McCain really want to have to talk about all of this? About the Bahaman vacations he took paid for by Keating? Probably not. But he may soon have to as a result of the shortsightedness of his campaign advisors. Nice move team McCain!

If the McCain campaign decides to go after Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's ties with Tony Rezko, the Obama campaign will certainly hit back hard against McCain with the Keating Five scandal. Only now it appears that McCain's role in the Keating Five scandal is reappearing through both the CNN biography, and the Jedreport's YouTube excerpt. Keating is back. The question now is how far is the McCain campaign willing to go in pulling out this ugly skeleton from their closet?

Update: It appears that the McCain campaign has decided to pull the Keating Five skeleton out of the closet after all. From The Fix:

The McCain campaign also promised to put Obama's ties to Tony Rezko front and center in the race now, insisting that the Illinois senator's decision to attack on the home front (heyooo!) made a discussion of his ties to the convicted real estate developer fair game.

It is only a matter of time before the Obama campaign attacks McCain with Charles Keating.

"Birds of prey" lobbyists descend on McCain campaign

Johnny-Boy's just having one terrible day on the campaign trail today. We all know about Republican presidential candidate John McCain's memory lapse of how many houses he owns. But there was another "what the frack was McCain talking about" moment when McCain decided to talk about Washington lobbyists. From The

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called lobbyists “birds of prey” Wednesday and vowed to enforce a lifetime ban on lobbying for members of his administration.

“Whenever there’s a corrupt system, then you’re going to have these birds of prey descend on it to get their share of the spoils,” McCain said in a half-hour interview with Politico following a town-hall meeting in the southern part of this swing state.


The senator went so far as to say: “Lobbyists don’t come to my office. Because they know they’re not going to be an earmark. They know they’re not going to get a pork-barrel project. Senator Obama’s gotten lots of ’em.:”

You can listen to McCain's "birds of prey" statement here:

There is just no way I can objectively analyze this latest statement from John McCain, except to say that it is birdshit crazy. So Washington's political system is corrupted. The lobbyists have descended on Washington to feast on the corrupted spoils. This means that the congress-critters in Washington are all corrupted, and the lobbyists birds feed upon them--with the exception of John McCain. And as president, John McCain will clean out the Washington corruption off lobbyist birds with a little help from the lobbyists that have been running his own campaign. There is an estimated 159 lobbyists running the McCain campaign. And let us not forget the McCain campaign's pro-Georgia stance, during the Georgia-Russia crisis, was advised by a lobbyist who was working for the Georgian government. Carpetbagger's Steve Benen nicely sums up McCain's lobbying problem by saying:

McCain’s campaign manager is a lobbyist. His chief strategist is a lobbyist. His top foreign policy advisor is a lobbyist. The man he tapped to run the Republican convention is a lobbyist. His top two senior advisors are both lobbyists. His campaign is being financed by donations from lobbyists, bundled by other lobbyists.

And John McCain's hypocrisy doesn't even stop there. While McCain now attacks the lobbyists for being "birds of prey," he has also consistently defended the lobbying industry multiple times. Even more, one McCain lobbyist has conducted his lobbying business on the Straight Talk Express:

Of all the lobbyists involved in the McCain campaign, the most prominent is Black, who has made a lucrative career of shuttling back and forth between presidential politics and big-time Washington lobbying. He has worked for the campaigns of former congressman Jack Kemp (N.Y.), former president George H.W. Bush and former senators Phil Gramm (Tex.) and Robert J. Dole (Kan.), all Republicans.


But even as Black provides a private voice and a public face for McCain, he also leads his lobbying firm, which offers corporate interests and foreign governments the promise of access to the most powerful lawmakers. Some of those companies have interests before the Senate and, in particular, the Commerce Committee, of which McCain is a member.

Black said he does a lot of his work by telephone from McCain's Straight Talk Express bus.

You just can't make this birdshit up. The corruption within the McCain campaign is just incredible.

McCain campaign flails over housing gaffe

Americablog has two posts up reporting the McCain campaign's response to Republican presidential candidate John McCain's gaffe over his inability to recall how many houses he owns (Or would that be how many houses his wife Cindy owns?). The McCain campaign's response to this latest McCain gaffe was to first attack Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama for living in a "frickin' mansion," while trying to link Obama's purchase of this mansion to convicted felon Tony Rezko. A "frickin' mansion." So Barack Obama should be questioned for having one "frickin' mansion," however it is okay for John McCain to have seven mansions--that McCain can't even remember. Of course, the McCain campaign will certainly start a series of negative attacks in connecting Obama with Rezko. And I'd tell the McCain campaign to bring on the Rezko attacks. That way, the Obama campaign can respond by attacking McCain's involvement in the Keating Five scandal, the or even the lobbyist controversy with Vicki Iseman. There was John McCain's attending a fundraiser hosted by Ralph Reed, who was connected with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and the email cover-up McCain enacted to protect his Republican colleagues. And finally, let us not forget McCain's connection with Republican Representative Rick Renzi, where Renzi was a member of McCain's National Leadership Team and co-chair of his Arizona Leadership Team. Renzi was indicted last February for extortion, money laundering, and wire fraud. McCain refuses to pass judgment on the Renzi indictment. What I am saying here is that if the McCain campaign wants to get into a dirty war with Obama over scandals, they better first look into McCain's own closet because McCain has plenty of skeletons that Obama can attack with.

The McCain campaign's second response to McCain's inability to remember how many houses he owned is even more bizarre. Going to the Washington Post's The Trail Blog:

The McCain campaign was in full damage-control mode as the housing story took off today. [McCain spokesman Brian] Rogers tried to play down the story, saying that reports of the many McCain houses were overstated.

"The reality is they have some investment properties and stuff. It's not as if he lives in ten houses. That's just not the case," Rogers said. "The reality is they have four that actually could be considered houses they could use."


He also added: "This is a guy who lived in one house for five and a half years -- in prison," referring to the prisoner of war camp that McCain was in during the Vietnam War.

WHAT? So it is okay for John McCain to not remember how many houses he owned because he was...a...POW? How does John McCain's POW status, which took place between 1967 to 1973, affect his inability to remember how many houses he owns? And if the McCain campaign wishes to blame McCain's POW status for this latest gaffe, then you have to seriously wonder just how much McCain's experience as a POW will affect his judgment in the Oval Office.

The McCain campaign has been playing this POW card before. Talking Points Memo reports that the McCain campaign "cited McCain's POW years in explaining away the Miss Buffalo Chip gaffe, and in dealing with the allegation that he broke the rules and listened in on Barack Obama during the Rick Warren forum." This latest McCain POW excuse has prompted The Politico's Ben Smith to speculate that:

It does seem like they're flirting with Giuliani/9/11 territory here, in which at subject that seems utterly immune to humor, used as a first resort, suddenly becomes a running joke among your political enemies and your late night comic friends.

McCain himself, it should be noted, doesn't tend to talk about his prisoner-of-war experience in random contexts; but his staff and surrogates have been doing it a bit lately.

It appears that the ridiculing of McCain's POW excuses has already started. From YouTube:

Obama slams McCain over housing gaffe

It didn't take long for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama to slam Republican presidential candidate John McCain over McCain's housing gaffe. From YouTube:

The transcript can be found here at Americablog:

But the fact of the matter is that John McCain is offering more of the same. He said a while back that he thought that we had made great progress economically during the years that George Bush has been in office. Now, that raised some eyebrows. Great progress economically. Who is he talking to? And it turns out that you get a sense of who he's talking to because some of you saw the Saddleback Forum with Rick Warren. He was asked, well, who do you consider rich? And he thought about it for a second, I don't know. Maybe if you make $5 million. $5 million, then you're rich. Which means, I guess, if you're only making $3 million a year then you're middle class. I guess that's what he meant.

His top economic adviser said the other day that Americans should stop complaining; they’ve become a nation of whiners. That all these economic problems everybody is talking about is just a mental recession. And if you would just change your mind, everything would be okay. Somebody’s been laid off, their plant’s closed and gone to Mexico or China, change your mind. It’s all good. Then, yesterday, he was asked again, what do you think about the economy? He says, Well, I think the economy is fundamentally strong; said the economy is fundamentally strong. Now, this puzzled me. I was confused as to what he meant.

But then there was another interview – this is yesterday, same day – where somebody asked John McCain, how many houses do you have? And he said, I’m not sure. I’ll have to check with my staff. True quote. I’m not sure. I’ll have to check with my staff. So they asked his staff, and he said, at least four. At least four. Now, think about that. I guess if you think that being rich means you’ve got to make $5 million and if you don’t know how many houses you have, then it’s not surprising that you might think the economy was fundamentally strong. But if you’re like me, and you’ve got one house, or you are like the millions of people who are struggling right now to keep up with their mortgage so they don’t lose their home, you might have a different perspective. And by the way, the answer is John McCain has seven homes.

So there’s just a fundamental gap of understanding between John McCain’s world and what people are going through every single day here in America. And you don’t have to be – you don’t have to be a Nobel Prize Laureate economist. You just have to have a little bit of a sense of what ordinary people are going through to understand that we can’t afford eight more years or four more years or one more year of the same failed economic policies that George Bush has put in place.

The Jedreport has provided a nice tour of McCain's houses via Google Earth. From YouTube:

Update: The Obama campaign is delaying their announcement of the vice presidential running mate in order to continue milking this McCain housing gaffe. From The Fix:

One other interesting side note about the housing story: If Obama's campaign had planned to roll out their vice presidential pick at any point today, that announcement is likely to be put on hold. Why? The campaign believes the story about McCain's many houses is political gold and they won't want to step on it with a veep announcement that would immediately change the day's storyline.

McCain unsure of how many houses he owns

Looks like Johnny-Boy has swallowed his foot whole with this doozy of a comment. From the

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said in an interview Wednesday that he was uncertain how many houses he and his wife, Cindy, own.

"I think — I'll have my staff get to you," McCain told Politico in Las Cruces, N.M. "It's condominiums where — I'll have them get to you."

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said in an interview Wednesday that he was uncertain how many houses he and his wife, Cindy, own.

"I think — I'll have my staff get to you," McCain told Politico in Las Cruces, N.M. "It's condominiums where — I'll have them get to you."

Now I could care less as to how many homes Republican presidential candidate John McCain owns--his wife, Cindy McCain, is worth over $100 million. And even if McCain had given a number of homes that he and his wife owns--be it four, seven, 10, or even 13 homes--I could accept McCain's number without much criticism. John McCain is an ubber-rich elitist here. But what is especially embarrassing here is that John McCain doesn't know how many homes he owns, even as McCain attacks Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama as being elitist. What this really shows is that McCain is completely out of touch with the average Americans on every economic issues--be it on taxes, jobs, Social Security, health care, and even the home mortgage crisis. John McCain can only offer the same failed policies of President Bush, making McCain essentially a third Bush term. This story shows another example of how clueless McCain is over the problems Americans are facing in this economy--even as McCain blames Americans' recession fears as "psychological," or that McCain is ignorant of economic issues, or that McCain's definition of moving from the middle class to rich is making $5 million a year. John McCain is completely out of touch with Americans' daily lives.

On the Democrats' side, this latest McCain quote is manna from heaven. The Obama campaign has quickly posted this latest ad showing just how clueless McCain is on the housing situation, and how many houses he owns. From YouTube:

The Obama campaign should continue hitting McCain with this attack of just how clueless McCain is, and keep hitting McCain again and again with his gaffes. Even better would be to mock McCain for the constant gaffes that he makes. Then tie everything back to McCain running for a third Bush term, considering just how clueless McCain is on the issues, and how the lobbyists are running his campaign for their own greed. So far, the Obama campaign will be hitting McCain on his uncertainty of how many homes he owns:

Barack Obama's campaign, moving rapidly to exploit what they see as a major opportunity, is deploying high-profile surrogates in 16 states across the country today to highlight John McCain's uncertainty yesterday about how many houses he owns, the Democrat's campaign tells Politico.

Governors, members of Congress and state legislators will hold conference calls and press conferences in front of homes to draw attention to the issue. Party leaders such as Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen and Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, on the stump in Ohio and Iowa respectively, wil move to incorporate the matter into their remarks on the campaign trail today in an effort to draw local media attention to the story.

Further, some state parties will hold contests in which Democrats seek out real voters who don't know how many houses they own.

And in other states, ordinary citizens who have been victim of the mortgage crunch will hold press availabilities to contrast their plight with McCain's wealth.

Pass the popcorn--this is going to be fun.

Update: The Jedreport has the audio of McCain's answer to the Politico's question on how many houses McCain owns. From YouTube:

Olberman chastises McCain to "grow up" in Special Comment

Here is Keith Olbermann's Special Comment from August 18, 2008 in which Olbermann chastises Republican presidential candidate John McCain to stop acting like a child with the McCain campaign complaining of media scapegoating McCain over his comments during the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention, and McCain's violation of the "cone of silence" during Rick Warren's Presidential Forum at the Saddleback. Olbermann's Special Comment really shows the true nature of the McCain campaign here. It is a baseless campaign that will go to any depths in order to negatively attack Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama with character attacks, lies, slander, mudslinging, or even the kitchen sink, at Obama. The McCain campaign, now controlled by the Rovians, will make no attempt at defining McCain on the issues and policies, except in the vaguest of terms--and even then they will lie about McCain's flip-flops. It is a campaign that demands the mainstream media to follow their rules in questioning and criticizing everything that Barack Obama says, but ignoring anything that John McCain may say--and if the media even starts to question McCain, then the campaign throws a hissy fit. It is a campaign to elect an arrogant, spoiled, temper-tantrumed, ignorant, rich kid into the White House. And Olbermann calls out McCain for his childish behavior. From MSNBC.Com:

The transcript can be found here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Obama hits McCain hard with "Never" ad

The Obama campaign has decided to hit hard against Republican presidential candidate John McCain with this "Never" ad, tying McCain to fundraiser Ralph Reed and convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. From YouTube:

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, this ad will be released on TV in Atlanta, Georgia, beginning Thursday. The New York Times reports that the Obama campaign "has started a sustained and hard-hitting advertising campaign" for the fall by tying McCain "in a series of commercials as disconnected from the economic struggles of the middle class." The Obama campaign has already released a "Book" TV ad painting McCain's economic plan as a continuation of the Bush economic plan, and a web ad showing McCain refusing to believe that the U.S. economy needs to be fixed. If you look on Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's YouTube site, you will see a number attack ads against McCain. What is interesting to note here is that Obama is going negative against McCain in a quiet manner, while still retaining the perception of a running a positive image campaign. According to the New York Times:

Mr. Obama’s approach to the confrontational advertising is decidedly different from that of Mr. McCain. When Mr. McCain released his spot linking the popularity of Mr. Obama to the celebrity of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears last month, Mr. McCain’s aides held a conference call with reporters.

In several cases Mr. Obama’s campaign has either not announced its new spots or done so only after they were noticed by news organizations. Bill Burton, a spokesman, said that the campaign had not intentionally sought to hide its advertisements, noting they are available on the Obama Web site and in heavy rotation in states.

“We don’t have a secret message,” Mr. Burton said. “It’s a crystal clear one.”

Evan Tracey, president of the Campaign Media Analysis Group of TNS Media Intelligence, calls Obama's negative campaign strategy "a pretty smart, high-low, good cop/bad cop strategy."

It is actually an interesting strategy that the Obama campaign is taking here. They can continue the perception that Obama is running a positive campaign, while at the same time selectively target battleground states with negative attack ads against McCain. The problem I see with this strategy is if the American people, as a whole, may shift their views of Obama as "being weak" due to the campaign's lack of response against the continuing character attacks made by the McCain campaign. I am certainly seeing a number of Obama supporters, within the liberal blogosphere, asking why Obama is not hitting back against these character attacks by McCain. But for the moment, we still have 2 1/2 weeks of convention mania and all the hype surrounding the vice presidential picks between both candidates. By the end of the first week of September, it will be the playoff time. That is when Americans will really start tuning in to the general election, and take a close, hard look at both candidates. That is when we're going to see both campaign strategies start to really unfold, and determine which candidate can run the better campaign.

McCain on reinstating the draft: "I don’t disagree"

Oh my--Looks like Johnny Boy wants to reinstate the draft. From YouTube:

Here is the transcript:

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Senator McCain I truly hope you get the opportunity to chase Bin Laden right to the gates of hell and push him in as you stated on your forum. I do have a question though. Disabled veterans, especially in this state, have horrible conditions [...] My son is an officer in the Air Force, and I am a vet and I was raised in a military family. I think it is a sad state of affairs when we have illegal aliens having a Medicaid card that can access specialist top physicians, the best of medical and our vets can’t even get to a doctor. These are the people that we tied yellow ribbons for and Bush patted on the back. If we don’t reenact the draft I don’t think we will have anyone to chase Bin Laden to the gates of hell.

JOHN MCCAIN: Ma’am let me say that I don’t disagree with anything you said and thank you and I am grateful for your support of all of our veterans.
(Town Hall; Las Cruces, NM 08/20/08)

Now I'm guessing that John McCain didn't even understand what the audience member was even asking, and that McCain was simply agreeing with the question for the sake of agreeing. But this brings up a disturbing point here. The U.S. military is already breaking down due to the extended troop deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. The McCain campaign was more than happy to provoke a shooting war between the U.S. and Russia over the Georgia crisis, much to the greed of the lobbyists eyes as they take in huge fees from the Georgian government. And McCain has already sung the tune for bombing Iran. I seriously wonder just how many more wars will President McCain send young Americans into meat grinders with a broken military? John McCain is a war monger and if he is elected president, you can count on McCain to institute a military draft so he can continue the 100-year war in Iraq, and create new wars with Iran, Russia, or whatever other nation that pisses off McCain's explosive temper.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Approval Ratings: The Public v. McCain

This is just one brilliant anti-McCain ad that really shows Republican presidential candidate John McCain completely supports President Bush, even as Bush's job approval ratings head straight into the toilet. If you want to have a third Bush term, then vote McCain. From YouTube:

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

McCain: Nations don't invade other nations

From YouTube:

In the 21st Century, nations don't invade other nations.

If what John McCain says is true, then what do you call the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, and Russia's invasion of Georgia?

Is McCain trying to control U.S. foreign policy on the Georgia-Russia crisis with his own State Department?

I'm seeing several stories coming out today on TPM, It seems like Republican presidential candidate John McCain has created his own "State Department" to handle the Georgia-Russia crisis independent of the U.S. State Department or the Bush administration. I'm going to start listing the stories here:

McCain Announces That Lieberman And Graham Are Going To Georgia: At a press conference, John McCain announced that he is sending two top campaign surrogates, Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham, to visit Georgia. McCain said "The situation in Georgia remains fluid and dangerous. As soon as possible my colleagues senators Lieberman and Graham will be traveling to Georgia. They're both members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. I hope that other members of the Armed Services Committee in the Senate will go together." TPM reports that McCain's delegation is to "showcase" McCain "as a man of action during a time of international crisis and to remind people that the world is a dangerous place that's still filled with aggressive actors, something that the McCain camp presumably thinks will play in his favor." McCain's announcement of this trip "also seems designed to shoulder Bush aside as the primary GOP leadership figure here."

Georgian President Saakashvili claims U.S. military to take control of Georgia's air and seaports: Georgian President Saakashvili told his countrymen that the U.S military will be moving in to take control of the Georgia's air and seaports. Georgia is still involved in a crisis with Russia over the South Ossetia region. Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell immediately denied Saakashvili's claim, saying that the U.S. military is not taking c control of any air or seaports, but rather "The role of the U.S. military is strictly to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the victims of this conflict." McCain has urged that NATO should deploy peacekeeping forces into Georgia, and that Russia should be kicked out of the G-8 group. It certainly makes me wonder if Saakashvili believes that McCain is controlling U.S. foreign policy over the Georgia crisis, and that U.S. forces will come to the aid of Georgia.

McCain has been on the phone with Georgia's president every day of crisis: This is actually a Chicago Tribune story that TPM linked to. McCain tells Chicago Tribune's Jill Zuckman that he has been on the phone with Georgia's president every day. "The events of the last few days show that there are many places in the world where we don't necessarily anticipate this kind of conflicts breaking out," McCain said. "And it does require a steady hand on the tiller and an experienced one." It is almost like McCain is trying to play a Cold War president with this crisis.

The Lunacy continues: TPM reports that Max Boot--who is on the Council of Foreign Relations--advocates that the U.S. should be arming Georgia with Stinger anti-aircraft and Javelin anti-armor missiles. While I'm not sure if Boot is a part of the McCain campaign, this advocation of arming Georgia with missiles certainly plays into the McCain campaign's hard-lined approach of supporting Georgia in the crisis.

Georgian president call for McCain to "move from words to deeds:" This CNN Political Ticker story reports that Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has called for John McCain, and American leaders, to do more for his country in response to the Georgia-Russian conflict. “Yesterday, I heard Sen. McCain say, ‘We are all Georgians now,’” Saakashvili said on CNN’s American Morning. “Well, very nice, you know, very cheering for us to hear that, but OK, it’s time to pass from this. From words to deeds.” McCain told a Pennsylvania crowd yesterday that he called Saakashvili to express his solidarity with the Georgian people, saying "Today, we are all Georgian." Saakashvili urged that the U.S. should take the lead in sending an international peacekeeping force to Georgia, saying that "America is losing the whole region."

McCain nominated Saakashvili for 2005 Nobel Peace Prize: TPM reports this interesting little detail where McCain nominated Georgian President Saakashvili for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize. This detail shows just how strongly the McCain has supported Saakashvili, and the McCain campaign's pro-Georgian approach to the conflict.

Lonely Night in Georgia: Slate's Fred Kaplan gives an interesting analysis on how the Bush administration enticed Saakashvili into sending 2,000 Georgian troops to Iraq as a U.S. ally with promises of NATO membership for Georgia, weapons and training, and even Georgian hopes that the U.S. military will intervene against Russia if a crisis erupted. The Georgian people were duped by the Bush administration's empty promises for their support in the Bush war in Iraq.

McCain continues to compound the blunder: Gregory Djerejian provides another analysis in The Belgravia Dispatch on how McCain would "double-down, and cheer-lead" NATO's revisiting of Georgia's membership into the organization, and how such hard-lined bluster would anger Russia, perhaps even forcing the U.S. into a shooting war with Russia. And the Georgians are feeling angry at the U.S. because they believed that the U.S. would come to their aid when the crisis with Russia erupted.

All of these stories could have their own posting here, but I want to look at an overall pattern here regarding both the Bush administration's policy with Georgia, and McCain's response. First, the Slate article by Kaplan and Gregory Djerejian's article of McCain doubling down on the Georgia crisis provide a good historical analysis of the Bush neocon's desire to use Georgia as a U.S. ally in the Iraq war. The Bush White House dangled the incentives of NATO membership and U.S. weapons and training to Georgia, making Saakashvili believe that the U.S. would come to Georgia's aid in the face of Russian aggression. It is almost like the neocons were reminiscing for the Cold War between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union, and perhaps they though they could use Georgia as a means to contain Russia. In reality, such a supposed security arrangement between the U.S. and Georgia was nothing more than hollow talk on the Bush administration's side. The problem here is that Saakashvili, and the Georgian people, actually believed it.

The second problem here is with the McCain campaign. McCain is also using Saakashvili and Georgia for his own political means of taking the White House. McCain is taking the neocons' approach of using Georgia to confront Russia as a ploy to show how McCain would handle the current crisis. You can see this with McCain sending his own mini-State Department "envoys" to Georgia as a means of resolving the crisis. McCain pushes this "presidential act" of calling Saakashvili every day, or telling Saakashvili that "we are all Georgian." The neocons provide support for the McCain campaign with suggestions of arming Georgia with missiles. In the end, McCain wants to be the primary GOP leadership figure on this crisis, pushing President Bush aside, and forcing U.S. policy into a confrontational approach towards Russia. It is a PR-play here, even though McCain has no power to shape U.S. policy on this crisis. So McCain uses Saakashvili for this political end. Saakashvili believes that McCain is speaking for the U.S. government, demanding that the U.S. intervenes on Georgia's behalf within the crisis. The Bush administration does not have the military power to intervene against Russia in the region, even as top Bush officials demand that such Russian aggression against Georgia should be answered for. What we are really seeing here is that the neocons are continuing to use Georgia for their own political ends, moving from the Bush administration into the McCain campaign. It is a scary cycle, considering how a blustering, hard-lined McCain administration may confront Russia--perhaps sending the U.S. into an shooting war with Russia.

McCain is "still the one" for lobbyists

The Jedreport has posted a wicked video showing Republican presidential candidate John McCain's relationship with the lobbyists. From YouTube:

While aid advises McCain, his firm continues lobbying for Georgia

This is from The Washington Post:

Sen. John McCain's top foreign policy adviser prepped his boss for an April 17 phone call with the president of Georgia and then helped the presumptive Republican presidential nominee prepare a strong statement of support for the fledgling republic.

The day of the call, a lobbying firm partly owned by the adviser, Randy Scheunemann, signed a $200,000 contract to continue providing strategic advice to the Georgian government in Washington.

The McCain campaign said Georgia's lobbying contract with Orion Strategies had no bearing on the candidate's decision to speak with President Mikheil Saakashvili and did not influence his statement. "The Embassy of Georgia requested the call," said campaign spokesman Brian Rogers.

But ethics experts have raised concerns about former lobbyists for foreign governments providing advice to presidential candidates about those same countries. "The question is, who is the client? Is the adviser loyal to income from a foreign client, or is he loyal to the candidate he is working for now?" said James Thurber, a lobbying expert at American University. "It's dangerous if you're getting advice from people who are very close to countries on one side or another of a conflict."

At the time of McCain's call, Scheunemann had formally ceased his own lobbying work for Georgia, according to federal disclosure reports. But he was still part of Orion Strategies, which had only two lobbyists, himself and Mike Mitchell.

Scheunemann remained with the firm for another month, until May 15, when the McCain campaign imposed a tough new anti-lobbyist policy and he was required to separate himself from the company.

Rogers said Scheunemann "receives no compensation of any type from Orion Strategies and has not since May 15, 2008." Scheunemann declined to be interviewed for this story.

This is really a must-read story providing details on Scheunemann's lobbying ties with the Georgian government, and his foreign policy advising role within the McCain campaign. It brings up a serious question of who is Scheunemann really working for, as he advises McCain on the Georgia crisis? Is Scheunemann advising McCain on the Georgia crisis for the benefit of the U.S. government and their policy in the region, or is Scheunemann advising McCain for the benefit of his lobbying firm's profitable contract with the Georgian government. According to the WaPost story:

For months while McCain's presidential campaign was gearing up, Scheunemann held dual roles, advising the candidate on foreign policy while working as Georgia's lobbyist. Between Jan. 1, 2007, and May 15, 2008, the campaign paid Scheunemann nearly $70,000 to provide foreign policy advice. During the same period, the government of Georgia paid his firm $290,000 in lobbying fees.

Since 2004, Orion has collected $800,000 from the government of Georgia.

Seems that Scheunemann's firm, Orion Strategies, has received $800,000 from the Georgian government since 2004. And I'm certainly sure that with McCain throwing his support for Georgia, during this conflict with Russia, that the Georgian government will continue to contract with Scheunemann's lobbying firm--especially if McCain is elected into office and Scheunemann takes a prime government role within the McCain administration. This stinks of the prospect that lobbyists, like Scheunemann, are running McCain's campaign for their own outright greed. They are crafting policy positions which will benefit their own lobbying firms. If McCain is elected president, you can bet that the lobbyists that control McCain's campaign, will use the McCain administration to implement such policy positions to profit their lobbying firms.

We can't allow McCain to be elected into the White House.

Arkansas Democratic Party chairman shot, critical condition

This is from MSNBC News:

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - A gunman entered the Arkansas Democratic Party headquarters Wednesday and shot the party chairman, who was hospitalized in critical condition, authorities said.

The gunman asked to speak to the party chairman, Bill Gwatney, and fired three shots at the office near the state Capitol.

"He came in and went into this office and started shooting," police Lt. Terry Hastings told reporters near the party headquarters.

Gwatney, a former legislator, was in critical condition, Hastings said. Party officials confirmed the victim was Gwatney.

Law enforcement officials identify the man suspected of shooting the Arkansas Democratic party chairman as Tim Johnson, age 50, of Searcy, Arkansas.

Johnson was chased into Grant County, south of Little Rock, and fatally wounded during a 30-mile chase, Little Rock police said. The suspect's motive is not known.

Reading this story makes me seriously wonder just how much the Republican hate speech, in the media and on radio, may be responsible for this attack. Granted, I do not know the motive behind Johnson's shooting of Gwatney, but I find it very interesting that the shooting took place 1) during a presidential election which Democrat Barack Obama has a serious shot of defeating John McCain for the presidency, 2) the shooting took place in Arkansas, a red Republican state, 3) GOP hate speech has been directed against the Obama campaign, and I would imagine GOP hate speech in the media and radio has also been directed against liberals and Democrats. 4) the U.S. economy has been slowing, which makes me wonder if Johnson is having economic troubles and blames the worsening U.S. economy on the Democrats. Granted, I am speculating here, but I do find it interesting.

Update: Arkansas state Democratic chairman Bill Gwatney has died from the shooting.

McCain ignores calls to cancel fundraiser promoted by Ralph Reed

On August 8, 2008, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Republican presidential candidate, Senator John McCain, will be attending an August 18th fundraiser, in Atlanta, promoted by Republican activist Ralph Reed. Reed has been linked in a scandal involving secretly accepting payments for lobbying against Indian casino gambling from Jack Abramoff.

YES! The Jack Abramoff Show is going on the McCain campaign trail!

This thing is a convoluted mess. First, we have Ralph Reed involved with the Jack Abramoff scandal. Steve Benen, at The Carpetbager Report, documents the relationship between Reed and Abramoff. Even more information on the relationship between Reed and Abramoff can be found here on

Investigators say the scheme worked like this: Abramoff earned the trust of tribal leaders and sometimes offered to work for free. He recommended hiring a consultant and pushed Scanlon, who in turn kicked back tens of millions of dollars to Abramoff. Abramoff did not reveal the potential conflict of interest to clients. Scanlon inflated his fees to cover both his and Abramoff's split. They spent about one-third of the money collected for purposes the clients intended and divided the rest between them.

When Abramoff and Scanlon did work for their clients' interests, they typically turned to Ralph Reed, Abramoff's longtime friend and a Republican strategist currently running for Georgia's lieutenant governor. Reed took money to mobilize grassroots Christian support against state proposals to expand legalized gambling, benefiting Abramoff's tribal clients, who feared losing business to increased competition.

Recognizing that Reed's conservative evangelical base would not approve of him taking money from gambling interests, Abramoff had tribal leaders filter Reed's money through various conduits, like Abramoff's lobbying firm and Americans for Tax Reform, an anti-tax, non-profit organization headed by conservative activist Grover Norquist.

According to the Senate [Committee on Indian Affairs] report, Reed reconnected with Abramoff in 1998, a few months before the lobbyist was discussing with the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians various legislative proposals in Mississippi and elsewhere that threatened their casino market share.

Through at the time with electoral politics, Reed promised "to build a strong grassroots network" to oppose a video-poker bill in Alabama, mobilizing groups including the Alabama Christian Coalition, the Alabama Family Alliance, the Alabama Eagle Forum, the Christian Family Alliance and enlisting Focus on the Family founder James Dobson to record a commercial.

Reed had no direct contact with the Choctaws, who worked through Abramoff as a liaison. Reed boasted that he had 3,000 conservative pastors and 90,000 households in the state that he could access for the effort. Reed proposed a $20,000 a month retainer and closed his letter with, "We look forward to bringing about the desired results for you."

Later Abramoff proposed that the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana also work with Reed. William Worfel, former vice chairman of the tribe, said he understood Reed would engage the Christian Coalition against bills expanding gambling in Louisiana.

That is the connection between Reed and Abramoff. The second aspect of this mess comes from the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. The chairman for the Senate Committee on Indian affairs was none other than John McCain. McCain headed up the investigation of the Abramoff scandal by the Indian affairs committee. What is more, McCain was responsible for withholding controversial Abramoff emails from the report in order to protect his Republican colleagues from the investigation. In the 2006 report, McCain left out information on how Abramoff was targeting Alabama Gov. Bob Riley in the influence peddling scheme. In a December 9, 2002 email, Abramoff wrote that the Mississippi Choctaws "definitely wants Riley to shut down the Poarch Creek operation," which included "his announcing that anyone caught gambling there can't qualify for a state contract or something like that." Riley was involved in a close 2002 gubernatorial election with Democrat Don Siegelman, in which Riley defeated Siegelman by around 3,000 votes. McCain had this email prior to the issuance of the report. Finally in February, 2008, McCain received more than $100,000 in campaign contributions from Greenberg Traurig--the law firm which employed Jack Abramoff.

Do you see the hypocrisy within John McCain? First McCain claims that he is angry with the corruption taking place in Washington, but then helps shield his Republican friends from the Abramoff scandal, and then receives campaign contributions from the law firm that once employed Abramoff. And now McCain is planning to attend a fundraiser promoted by a key Republican figure connected with the Abramoff scandal. And McCain is ignoring calls to cancel this fundraiser:

Republican presidential candidate John McCain so far is ignoring calls from several watchdog groups to cancel an Atlanta fundraiser promoted by Ralph Reed, a longtime friend and business partner of imprisoned lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Public Citizen, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), and Campaign Money Watch are urging the Arizona senator to cancel plans for the Aug. 18 fundraiser at the Marriott Marquis in downtown Atlanta and remove Reed from McCain’s Victory 2008 Team.


On the campaign trail, McCain often touts his work tackling Abramoff’s corrupt lobbying practices as evidence of his commitment to cleaning up Washington and a straight-shooting style that transcends politics.

The watchdog groups reacted to a “special invitation” Reed sent to friends and political contacts, inviting them to the fundraiser and asking them to contribute to the McCain campaign by sending checks to Reed’s address.

“Attached is a contribution form and a fact sheet that details the event,” Reed wrote. “Please complete the contribution form and return it to me at [address], Duluth, GA 30097. If you select (sic) to use your credit card, you may fax the form to me at [number].”

In the invitation, which was first reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Reed also said he had agreed to serve as a member of the McCain Victory 2008 team.

“John McCain also believes that tax cuts work best when tied to spending restraint,” Reed wrote in the e-mail solicitation. “He has a 26-year pro-life voting record and has pledged to appoint conservative judges who will interpret the law, not legislate from the bench.”

Watchdog groups are floored that McCain, who has worked with them for years to reform campaign finance law, has called on Reed to help bundle contributions.

“[Reed’s] hypocrisy is legion — now matched only by John McCain’s attending a fundraiser he’s helping host,” said Melanie Sloan, CREW’s executive director. “You just have to wonder who’s the bigger hypocrite.”

I use to believe that John McCain would do anything and say anything in order to gain control of the White House. That he has shed any sense of morals and ethics to be replaced by outright blind ambition. I still think that this is true. But there is more than just McCain's blind ambition. McCain has given control of his entire campaign to lobbyists, and these lobbyists will use every tool they have to see that their sock puppet will be elected for their own blind ambition and greed. And if such a tool as a disgraced figure, such as Ralph Reed, will help raise money for the McCain campaign, then the lobbyists controlling John McCain will use Reed. The GOP's "culture of corruption" has never ended--it has only shifted into John McCain's presidential campaign.

Update: I am going to post Ralph Reed's invitation for McCain's fundraising appearance from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. There is a little detail that I didn't catch, that Americablog and The Wall Journal noted. Ralph Reed was invited to be a part of McCain's Victory 2008 Team. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

From: Linda Ingram

Sent: Thursday, August 07, 2008 3:21 PM

Subject: Special Invitation from Ralph Reed: Senator McCain Coming to Atlanta

A Message from Ralph Reed:

Senator John McCain will be coming to Atlanta on August 18 for a very special event at the Marriot Marquis downtown and I have agreed to serve as a member of the McCain Victory 2008 Team. [Emphasis mine]

Never in my career can I recall a starker contrast between two major-party nominees for President. Barack Obama is advocating higher taxes, more spending, a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq, and an energy plan that opposes drilling on the outer continental shelf. The nonpartisan publication National Journal concluded that he had the most liberal voting record in the U.S. Senate.

John McCain believes in a strong national defense, a smaller, more accountable government, steady economic growth and opportunity, the dignity of life and traditional values. He will make it a top priority to balance the budget and get federal spending under control so that our children aren’t burdened with a mountain of debt that will rob them of their future.

John McCain also believes that tax cuts work best when tied to spending restraint. He has a 26-year pro-life voting record and has pledged to appoint conservative judges who will interpret the law, not legislate from the bench.

Attached is a contribution form and a fact sheet that details the event. Please complete the contribution form and return it to me at XXXXX Duluth, GA 30097. If you select to use your credit card, you may fax the form to me at 770-XXX-XXXX.

I hope you will join me and Jo Anne at the August 18 event in support of Senator McCain in Atlanta. The outcome of this presidential election is going to determine the future direction of this country. Please join us as we work together to elect John McCain. Your participation is critical to success.

Thank you for all you have done for our country and our shared conservative values.

Look forward to hearing from you, best, Ralph

What this means is that the McCain campaign actively sought out Reed to bring him into the campaign. It is another political calculation by the lobbyists controlling the McCain campaign here. Reed was the first executive director of the Christian Coalition, providing the McCain campaign a means of solidifying its fractured relationship with the Christian conservatives. Reed has already provided campaign advice for McCain, saying that McCain should avoid seeking endorsements from evangelical leaders and instead appeal directly to their church members. I'm thinking that the lobbyists are fearing a low voter turnout for McCain among the Christian conservatives, so the lobbyists are turning to Reed's Rolodex to solicit Christian conservative voters, and their campaign contributions.