Thursday, July 31, 2008

McCain's Silly Strategy: Isn't it Just Jealousy?

Aren't they really describing McCain?

Barack Obama’s critics laid down the foundations of the strategy months ago: The Republican National Committee started the “Audacity Watch” back in April, and Karl Rove later fueled the attack by describing the first-term Illinois senator as “coolly arrogant.”

All McCain does is complain about Obama. You can't win an election by whining.
The strategy has very real potential dangers for Team McCain. Obama’s unmistakable charisma and his campaign’s deft brand of stagecraft have created an often lopsided contrast with McCain’s sometimes painful-to-watch public events. As presidents as diverse as Ronald Reagan and John Kennedy showed, Americans do like a touch of celebrity in their commander in chief; though not too much.

It's the economy, stupid. This will be McCain's downfall in the Fall: sluggish economic growth.
The economy grew less than expected from April to June, the government said on Thursday, and it shrank in the final months of 2007, dimming the outlook for a quick recovery.

Gross domestic product expanded at an annual rate of 1.9 percent in the second quarter, the Commerce Department reported, primarily because of a surge in export sales powered by the weak dollar. The government’s tax stimulus package pushed consumer spending higher, but the ongoing pain in the housing market took a sharp toll on overall growth.

But that figure was below the estimate of many economists, who had expected growth of 2.3 percent, and it cast doubt on whether the stimulus package would be able to prop up the economy in the months ahead.

[...]More troubling, however, was news that the economy actually shrank in the last three months of 2007, by 0.2 percent. It was the first time that the economy had contracted since the third quarter of 2001. The government had originally reported growth of 0.6 percent in that quarter.

This explains why all McCain does is attack Obama. He wants to divert your attention from the failures of the Republicans. Maureen Dowd explains the jealousy point.
The image of John McCain in a golf cart with Bush 41 in Kennebunkport — with Poppy charmingly admitting that they were “a little jealous” of all the Obama odyssey coverage — was not a good advertisement for the future, especially contrasted with the shots of Gen. David Petraeus and Obama smiling at each other companionably in a helicopter surveying Iraq. (Asked by a Democratic lawmaker a while back why there weren’t more Democrats in the military, General Petraeus smiled slyly and said “there are more than you think.”)

A foiled and frustrated McCain — trying to get covered when the entire media world has gone fishin’ for Obama stories — took the Hillary tack of mocking the press for having a “love affair,” as his campaign said, with the senator. McCain is hopping mad that the surge that he backed, and Obama resisted, has now set the stage for the Bush puppet Maliki to agree with Obama’s exit strategy. But Obama has a better batting average with his judgment on how we shouldn’t have gotten into Iraq, we should have gone after Osama and we should talk to Iran and other foes, if only to better assess their psychology. Then we might have deduced that Saddam had the “Beware of Dog” sign up without the dog.

Pentagon: The War on Terror will Last for Decades

The administration is doing it's usual scaremongering in time for the elections. But they are right about terror staying with us indefinitely - thanks to Bush.

"Success in Iraq and Afghanistan is crucial to winning this conflict, but it alone will not bring victory."

You can't win the war on terror if you can't even win wars unrelated to terrorism and only make it worse.
"The use of force plays a role, yet military efforts to capture or kill terrorists are likely to be subordinate to measures to promote local participation in government and economic programs to spur development, as well as efforts to understand and address the grievances that often lie at the heart of insurgencies," the document said. "For these reasons, arguably the most important military component of the struggle against violent extremists is not the fighting we do ourselves, but how well we help prepare our partners to defend and govern themselves."

Like what isn't being done in Afghanistan.
Defense sources said Gates's strategy met resistance among the Joint Chiefs of Staff because of its focus on irregular warfare. Gates met with the Joint Chiefs to present the rationale behind his strategy, and they expressed concerns over the long-term risks of shifting the focus too far from conventional threats. The service chiefs have worried publicly about shunning preparation for conventional warfare because it could give adversaries a competitive advantage in key arenas, such as in the skies or in space.

Sounds to me like Gates is not much different from Rumsfeld. They still miss the point.
James Jay Carafano, a military expert at the Heritage Foundation, said he finds it refreshing that the Defense Department acknowledges that China and Russia are potential adversaries, but he said he believes the strategy is too heavy on battling extremism.

I got news for you - China and Russia are adversaries. Once again, Bush has made it worse.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Some in Congress Want to Legalize Marijuana

Why not? Just about everything seems to be acceptable nowadays. Why should we expect Congress not go along with slide towards moral abyss. The pro-Marijuana lobby has become quite vocal in recent years. I imagine some of them even contribute to members of Congress. And there is nothing politicians love more than campaign contributions.

The U.S. should stop arresting responsible marijuana users, Rep. Barney Frank said Wednesday, announcing a proposal to end federal penalties for Americans carrying fewer than 100 grams, almost a quarter-pound, of the substance.

Current laws targeting marijuana users place undue burdens on law enforcement resources, punish ill Americans whose doctors have prescribed the substance and unfairly affect African-Americans, said Frank, flanked by legislators and representatives from advocacy groups.

"The vast amount of human activity ought to be none of the government's business," Frank said on Capitol Hill. "I don't think it is the government's business to tell you how to spend your leisure time."

The Massachusetts Democrat and his supporters emphasized that only the use -- and not the abuse -- of marijuana would be decriminalized if the resolution resulted in legislation.

[...]Marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use, according to the drug control office.

"Smoked marijuana has not withstood the rigors of science -- it is not medicine and it is not safe," the DEA states on its Web site. "Legalization of marijuana, no matter how it begins, will come at the expense of our children and public safety. It will create dependency and treatment issues, and open the door to use of other drugs, impaired health, delinquent behavior, and drugged drivers."

Report: U.S. 'Wasted' $560 Million on Iraq Repairs

It's too bad the surge didn't have much impact on the waste and corruption which is the Iraq War. I've said it before - Americans are dying propping up an inept government. Not only are our troops dying (even if the violence is down lately) but our tax dollars are being wasted at a time when Americans are suffering hardship at home. It couldn't be any worse.

The United States has "wasted" more than half a billion dollars in Iraq repairing facilities that were damaged because of poor security, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction says in a report released Wednesday.

Stuart Bowen's quarterly report arrived at a price tag of $560 million by tallying the results of more than 100 audits his office has conducted.

Further billions had to be diverted from reconstruction to security because the Bush administration did not adequately foresee how volatile Iraq would be when it began rebuilding the country, the report says.

"The U.S. government did not fully anticipate or plan for the unstable working environment that faced U.S. managers when reconstruction began in Iraq," it says.

Contractors spent an average of 12.5 percent of their reconstruction contracts on security, the inspector general found.

Bowen's team also criticizes the government for poor coordination between agencies.

The lack of cooperation "contributed to delays, increased costs, terminated projects, and completed projects that did not meet program goals," the report says.

McCain's Flipflop Express: On Abortion...2006

Here's more evidence that John McCain's flipflopping predates the current election year. This from the Carpetbagger Report, November 20th 2006:

Just to follow-up briefly on Michael’s guest-post from yesterday, Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) new-found opposition to Roe v. Wade is rather remarkable, even for him.

In 1999, McCain was in New Hampshire, campaigning for the GOP nomination as a moderate. He proclaimed himself a pro-life candidate, but told reporters that “in the short term, or even the long term, I would not support repeal of Roe v. Wade.” He explained that overturning Roe would force “women in America to [undergo] illegal and dangerous operations.” Yesterday, campaigning for the GOP nomination as a conservative, McCain said the opposite.

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

MCCAIN: Rape, incest and the life of the mother. Yes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So is President Bush, yet that hasn’t advanced in the six years he’s been in office. What are you going to do to advance a constitutional amendment that President Bush hasn’t done?

MCCAIN: I don’t think a constitutional amendment is probably going to take place, but I do believe that it’s very likely or possible that the Supreme Court should — could overturn Roe v. Wade, which would then return these decisions to the states, which I support…. Just as I believe that the issue of gay marriage should be decided by the states, so do I believe that we would be better off by having Roe v. Wade return to the states.

The old McCain didn’t want an amendment and didn’t want Roe overturned. The new McCain completely disagrees with the old McCain.

Joe Klein: Neocons Trying To Have Me Fired From Time

The neocons are the sinister power behind the Bush administration. Therefore it is no surprise that they would want to silence anyone who dares challenge them. The American people are unaware of the power of this un-American clique.

I have now been called antisemitic and intellectually unstable and a whole bunch of other silly things by the folks over at the Commentary blog. They want Time Magazine to fire or silence me. This is happening because I said something that is palpably true, but unspoken in polite society: There is a small group of Jewish neoconservatives who unsuccessfully tried to get Benjamin Netanyahu to attack Saddam Hussein in the 1990s, and then successfully helped provide the intellectual rationale for George Bush to do it in 2003. Their motivations involve a confused conflation of what they think are Israel's best interests with those of the United States. They are now leading the charge for war with Iran.

Happily, these people represent a very small sliver of the Jewish population in this country. Unhappily, their views have had an impact in the highest reaches of the Bush Administration--and seem to have an influence on John McCain's campaign as well.

Mexico's Drug Cartels Target Bystanders

We need to worry about what's going on along our border. This is the price to pay for a lack of immigration policy. When is the last time you heard any of the candidates talk about the crisis along our border. The Mexican drug cartel is getting rich from the easy access to America. And guess where they get those guns to kill innocent people. Before too long we will have complete chaos along our southern border.

The three teenagers started their big weekend singing "Happy Birthday" to the parish priest.

The next day, they prayed for hours with their church youth group, then went on to a quinceaƱera, Mexico's archetypal 15th-birthday celebration. As the party wound down, they talked their parents into letting them go for a late-night cruise down the main drag in Guamuchil, a Saturday night ritual in this sleepy market town, friends and family say.

During that cruise, investigators believe the teens inadvertently blocked drug cartel assassins in hot pursuit of their enemies. Once police arrived in the wee hours of July 13, the assassins were gone but the three teens and a 12-year-old girl who was riding with them lay dead in their cars. Four others -- another teenager and three adults -- were dead in nearby cars. There were 539 bullet casings on the ground.

U.S. Combat Deaths in Iraq Plunge in July

So what? We are still in Iraq in large numbers while Afghanistan rapidly deteriorates. Even if no American dies in Iraq we are still paying a fortune to be there ($10 billion /month) to maintain the status quo. And if the Republicans have their way we would be there for the indefinite future. We cannot afford to be in a place that shouldn't have been in the first place.

The number of U.S. soldiers killed in combat in Iraq has dropped sharply in July and the monthly total is likely to be the lowest since the U.S.-led invasion of the country in 2003.

Five U.S. soldiers have been killed in combat in Iraq so far in July compared to 66 in the same month last year, according to the independent website, which keeps records of U.S. military losses in the conflict.

The drop underscores the dramatic fall in violence in Iraq to lows not seen since early 2004.

Seeking to build on those gains, thousands of Iraqi security forces launched a major operation in northeastern Diyala province on Tuesday. Al Qaeda has sought to stoke tensions in religiously mixed Diyala, which lies close to Baghdad.

Defence Ministry spokesman Major-General Mohammed al-Askari said on Wednesday that 35 militants had been detained so far. Iraqi police and more than two Iraqi army divisions, each of up to 9,000 troops, are taking part in the offensive.

CIA Accuses Pakistan of 'Backing Militants'

Pakistan military/intelligence agencies were responsible for putting the Taliban in power in the first place. So it shouldn't be any surprise that they are today supporting our enemies again. Our relationship with Pakistan is a house of cards that is really to collapse. And the potential for militant Islamists in that country to take over is very real. And if the Jihadists gain control of Pakistan's bomb it could mean world war. What a mess Mr.Obama will have on his hands come January.

A senior CIA official this month confronted Pakistani officials over ties between the country's intelligence service and militants in the tribal areas, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Citing defense and intelligence sources, the Times said that the trip by agency deputy director Stephen Kappes demonstrated a harder line being taken against Pakistani ties to those responsible for the surge of violence in Afghanistan, including militant Maulavi Jalauddin Haqqani.

Earlier this year, the US military pressed for Pakistani troops to hit the Haqqani network in the tribal areas.

"It was a very pointed message saying, 'Look, we know there's a connection, not just with Haqqani but also with the other bad guys and ISI, and we think you could do more and we want you to do more about it," a senior US officials told the Times, referring to Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence agency.

The daily said the meeting could be a sign that the relationship between the Central Intelligence Agency and Pakistan's ISI "may be deteriorating".

A US official said there was no evidence of official Pakistani support of Al-Qaeda, but there was "genuine and longstanding concerns about Pakistan's ties to the Haqqani network, which of course has ties to Al-Qaeda."

Study: China Trade Deficit Cost Millions of American Jobs

We've known this for decades but it continues unabated. And both parties have been to blame for not protecting American industries. Both parties have been in complicity to sell out America.

The Economic Policy Institute, supported by the Alliance for American Manufacturing, reports that the growth of U.S. trade with China since the country entered the World Trade Organization in 2001 has devastated the domestic economy.

The study says China’s soaring deficit cost Americans 2.3 million jobs and $19.4 billion in lost wages between 2001 and 2007.

Virginia lost 39,500 jobs and North Carolina has lost nearly 80,000 jobs to China since 2001. The apparel industry was most affected in North Carolina with 11,372 jobs lost between 2001 and 2007.

North Carolina ranked eighth among the 50 states and Washington D.C., with 79,800 jobs lost. California suffered the most losses, with 325,800 fewer jobs. West Virginia’s job losses totaled 7,200, including 900 workers in the wood products manufacturing industry who were displaced last year.

The Washington, D.C.,-based think tank blamed the trade imbalance for pushing down wages an average of $8,146.

Scott Paul, exeuctive director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, said any jobs that are being created are not making up for the income lost through jobs shipped overseas.

The study is based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Census Bureau and United States International Trade Commission.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Video: Countdown Exposes McCain Record on Not Supporting Troops

This segment on Keith Olbermann's Countdown finally puts to rest the notion that McCain is a champion of American troops. The report also debunks the myth that the media is more sympathetic to Obama than McCain.

McCain on Larry King Live (7-28-08): Transcript

Read the entire transcript of John McCain's appearance on Larry King.

KING: Senator, you criticized him for the trip, a trip that you told him to make. MCCAIN: Actually, I was glad that he went to Iraq. I was puzzled and befuddled by the fact that he announced his policy towards Iraq and Afghanistan before he went. I had hoped that he would go, and for the first time, sit down and get a briefing from General Petraeus. You know he never had before?

I had wished, in a way, that he had a hearing in the subcommittee that he chairs on Afghanistan since he has the responsibility oversight of NATO. But incredibly to me, still, is that he does not acknowledge that the surge succeeded. No rational person could go to Iraq in the last few days and compare it to two years ago and not acknowledge that the surge has succeeded. And that's why I question very much why he would continue to fail to acknowledge that a strategy -- admittedly -- he condemned it, he said it wouldn't work, he said that it would make things worse, et cetera.

But at least he ought to acknowledge -- after getting briefed by General Petraeus and meeting these brave young Americans who have sacrificed so much in making sure that this strategy succeeded -- that he should acknowledge their success. How do you welcome this last brigade home that's coming home and say, hey, great job, but by the way, you didn't succeed? I don't know how you do that.

KING: But was he right in saying that a lot more emphasis should have been put on Afghanistan?

MCCAIN: Well, listen, this is -- if we had failed in Iraq, our complications in Afghanistan would have been far, far more complicated.

What Senator Obama doesn't understand is that they are all connected. If we had lost the war in Iraq, we would have had much greater problems in Afghanistan. And also, the strategy that he said wouldn't work in Iraq is the same strategy we have to employ in Afghanistan. It's not just to increase the number of troops; it's secure and hold, it's a government that functions more effectively, it's taking on the narco-traffickers, it's the issue of Pakistan, which is of course the border area -- it's uncontrolled. So it's got to be an overall strategy. And Senator Obama does not understand that, just like he didn't understand the situation in Iraq.

KING: So you're not criticizing him for the trip, which you told him to make, you're criticizing him for what you say is a lack of awareness?

MCCAIN: Lack of understanding -- complete lack of understanding of what America's national security threats are.

But the other thing is that, of course -- the fact that in Germany he did not go to Landstuhl. And I can assure you that the troops welcome, especially those who are the gravely wounded ones, welcome American senators. And if he had wanted to go with just a staffer, I am confident that he could have gone, rather than cancel his trip to see those brave young Americans.

But it's also about bringing back prosperity. KING: He must have understood that. Why do you think he didn't go?

MCCAIN: I have no idea except that I know that according to reports that he wanted to bring media people and cameras and his campaign staffers and I want to guarantee you, if I had gone to Landstuhl, which I have and met with the troops there and met with the wounded but if I had gone there and the military had said, you can't see these wounded people. I guarantee I'd have been on the phone with the secretary of defense immediately. I'd have seen them.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Presidential Candidate Ahead in the Gallup Poll 100 Days From Election Usually Wins

The candidate ahead in the Gallup poll 100 days from the Fall election usually wins. That means that Barack Obama will be the next President of the United States. This report comes from CNN's pollster Bill Schneider:

Right now, the presidential election is 100 days away, and as we saw only a moment or so ago, our new Poll of Polls shows Obama now nine points ahead of Senator McCain.

Let's bring in our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider. He's watching this story for us. I'm not sure our Poll of Polls does show nine points ahead. I think that was the Gallup poll that showed a nine-point tracking poll. Our Poll of Polls is a little closer, about six points, is that right, Bill?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: The Poll of Polls is six points, and the latest Gallup tracking poll which just came out about an hour ago shows an eight-point lead for Obama.

Well your question, what does it mean, 100 days out? As the one- time Democratic nominee, Al Smith, used to say, let's look at the record.


SCHNEIDER (voice over): They say a week is a long time in politics. A hundred days looks like forever. Everything could change. Or could it?

Let's see how accurate the polls were 100 days before the election for the last 50 years.

In three out of 12 elections, the 100-day-out Gallup polls were just about right. 1968, the midsummer poll predicted a close one: Republican Richard Nixon over Democrat Hubert Humphrey by two. Nixon won by one.

1972, the poll predicted a 26-point Nixon landslide. It was nearly that. Nixon beat Democrat George McGovern by 23.

2004, the polls showed a dead heat between George W. Bush and Democrat John Kerry. The election was close. Bush by three.

Six times the Gallup poll got the winner right, but the margin was too big. In 1976, for instance, 100 days before the election, the Gallup poll showed Democrat Jimmy Carter leading Republican Gerald Ford by 22. Carter did win, by two.

Only once did the 100-day poll understate the winner's margin. That was in 1984. The midsummer poll showed Reagan getting reelected by 12. He did get reelected, by 18.

Have the 100-day polls ever gotten it wrong? Yes, twice.

In 1960, Nixon led Democrat John Kennedy by six in midsummer. Kennedy ended up winning by less than a point.

In 1988, Democrat Michael Dukakis was 17 points ahead of George Bush in late July. The most famous blown lead in history.

Usually, however, the 100-day poll gets the winner right, but more often than not, the race gets closer. So where are we now? Barack Obama leads John McCain by eight points in the Gallup poll.

It looks like this one could be close.


SCHNEIDER: Why is this race different from all other races? In every one of the last dozen presidential elections, either the president was running for re-election, or the vice president was running to succeed him. Imagine what would be happening if either George W. Bush or Dick Cheney were running this time. But, they're not -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Which makes for some fascinating potential.

Video: Legalized Loan Sharking - Payday Loans

First there was the subprime ripoff. Now those who haven't been finished off by the mortgage collapse and taking out payday loans. In both cases working people are being ripped-off by what are essentially modern day loan sharks. All with the blessing of the government.

Federal Budget Deficit for Fiscal 2009 Projected to Be $490 Billion

Another ignominious Bush record:

The White House is expected to report a projection for a $490 billion budget deficit for the budget year ending in September 2009, a number that would be the highest number recorded.

Senior administration officials confirmed the number to FOX News on Monday, but downplayed the impact of the number. The official said that as a percentage of the U.S. gross domestic product, the deficit projection would be roughly 3 percent to 4 percent.

Another senior administration official said "a lot can happen" in 18 months that could worsen or improve the outlook, such as an improved economy leading to better tax returns, or increased spending under a new administration. The official specifically warned about the impact a Democrats.

"Democrats could blow the doors off spending and drive the deficit even higher," the official said.

McCain on ABC's This Week: Transcript (7-27-08)

Read the entire transcript:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: Senator Obama was in London this morning, and he was responding to your comments from yesterday when you said that 16 months might be a pretty good timetable in Iraq.

He said, "We're pleased to see that there's been some convergence around proposals we've been making for a year-and-a-half."

SEN JOHN MCCAIN: That's really good. Look, it's not a timetable, as I said. I was asked, how does that sound? Anything sounds good to me, but...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you never used the word before.

MCCAIN: ... you know, the point is...

STEPHANOPOULOS: You made a point of never using...

MCCAIN: ... I never...

STEPHANOPOULOS: ... the word before.

MCCAIN: Look, I have always said, and I said then, it's the conditions on the ground. If Senator Obama had had his way, we'd have been out last March, and we'd been out in defeat and chaos, and probably had to come back again because of Iranian influence.

It's conditions on the ground -- the way that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said, the way that General Petraeus has said -- conditions on the ground, so that the Iraqi government can have control, can have the sufficient security, so that we don't have to come back. Senator Obama said that if his date didn't work, we may have to come back.

We're not coming home in victory. We're coming home in victory.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But it does seem...

MCCAIN: But it is a -- it is not a date. I want to make it very clear to you, it is not a date. It's conditions on the ground.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, you shouldn't have used the word timetable.

MCCAIN: Pardon me?

STEPHANOPOULOS: You shouldn't have used the word timetable.

MCCAIN: I didn't use the word timetable. That I did -- if I did...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Transcript: Karl Rove on FOX News Sunday (7-27-08)

Read the entire transcript:

WALLACE: First of all, your overview of Obama's trip — did he shore up his credibility as a potential president and commander in chief?

ROVE: I think the short answer to that is we don't know. Every big event like this has plusses and minuses. And there are some things that he did that did shore up his standing.

For example, he was on the same world — he was on the same stage with world leaders. There was the shot of him in the helicopter with Petraeus over Baghdad in the stories. And he clearly dominated the media with his world tour for, you know, more than a week.

He received a semi-endorsement from Maliki of this idea that U.S. troops could be brought out by the — by 2010, though there is a big difference, I think, underneath the surface between Obama's view and Maliki's view.

And finally, he had these huge crowds in Germany. And those were all on the plus side, and that helped him.

On the other hand, he remains against the policy — the surge — that made success in Iraq possible, and I think that's hard to fathom. The dominant photograph of the opening stage of this world tour was him hitting a three-point shot in Afghanistan. I'm not certain that's the best image if you want to say, "I'm a world leader."

He had three tough interviews with Terry Moran, Katie Couric, Gibson — they were all tough interviews. And the crowd was big, but it was in Germany, and he's running for president of the United States, not president of Europe.

And then finally, we had this dust-up over the visit to wounded troops, and there was also sort of a hint of arrogance. They demanded that they be — that he be treated as a — as the occupant of the White House, with White House rules.

And I think, frankly, finally, the speech in Germany, while it was soaring in its rhetoric, was actually, you know, somewhat vacuous. I mean, I'm not certain there was much "there" there. And he's received some criticism in the European press for it.

So on balance, I think, short-term plus, but potentially a long- term — long-term, it might not make that big a difference for him.

WALLACE: I want to go back to the — particularly the reception from the Europeans and that extraordinary crowd in Berlin — 200,000, according to police reports.

Back in 2004, you and other Republicans went after John Kerry as being too continental, too European, in his sensibility. I talked to the Obama camp about that this week, and one of the top strategists said to me that they feel the country is way past 2004 and freedom fries and now would very much welcome European support.

Video: Home Energy Prices Could Soar

With no relief in site. It's a fine mess this oil President has gotten us into. At least his friends are benefiting. Can you imagine what your energy costs would be if the Bush and his neocon handlers decided to attack Iran?

Obama on Meet The Press: Transcript (7-27-08)

The interview was done from London by Tom Brokaw. Read the entire transcript:

MR. BROKAW: Do you believe that President Maliki would be in a position to more or less endorse your timetable of getting troops out within 16 months if it had not been for the surge?

SEN. OBAMA: You know, we don't know, because in my earlier statements--I mean, I know that there's that little snippet that you ran, but there were also statements made during the course of this debate in which I said there's no doubt that additional U.S. troops could temporarily quell the violence. But unless we saw an underlying change in the politics of the country, unless Sunni, Shia, Kurd made different decisions, then we were going to have a civil war and we could not stop a civil war simply with more troops. Now, I, I...

MR. BROKAW: But couldn't they make that political decision because troops were there to help them make it.

SEN. OBAMA: Well, the--well, the--look, there's no doubt, and I've said this repeatedly, that our troops make a difference. If--you know, they do extraordinary work. The troops that I met, they were proud of their work, they had made enormous sacrifices, they had fought, they had helped to construct schools and, and rebuilt the countryside. But, for example, in Anbar Province, where we went to visit, the Sunni awakening took place before the surge started, and tribal leaders made a decision that, instead of fighting the Americans, we're going to work with the Americans against al-Qaeda. That was a political decision that was made that has made a huge difference in this entire process.

So the, the point I want to make is this, Tom, I mean, you know, if we want to look at the question of judgment which is the one that John McCain raised, John McCain's essential focus has been on the tactical issue of sending more troops, and he's, he's made his entire approach to foreign policy rest on that support of Bush's decision to send more troops in. But we can have a whole range of arguments about past decisions--the decision to go into Iraq in the first place, and whether that was a good strategic decision, where we've spent a trillion dollars at least by the time this thing is over, lost thousands of lives in pursuit of goals John McCain supported that turned out to be false. We can make decisions about does it make sense for us to set a time frame for withdrawal to encourage the kind of political reconciliation that needs to take place to stabilize Iraq. We can talk about the distractions from hunting down al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, where there is no doubt that we would be further along had we not engaged in some of these actions, and...

MR. BROKAW: But we have to talk about the reality of what's going on in Iraq right now.

SEN. OBAMA: Well, but, but, but, let me...

MR. BROKAW: And the Anbar awakening, most people believe, was successful in large part because the American troops did come in and make it possible for them to have the kind of political reconciliation...

Click for more from 'Meet the Press'
Obama sticks to his guns on 'Meet the Press'

SEN. OBAMA: Tom, look--Tom, I'm, I'm--the fact that--the...

MR. BROKAW: Do you disagree with that?

SEN. OBAMA: As I said before, our troops made an enormous contribution, but to try to single out one factor in a very messy situation is just not accurate, and it doesn't, it doesn't take into account the larger strategic issues that have been at stake throughout this process. Look, we've got a finite amount of resources. We've got a finite number of troops. Our military is stretched extraordinarily because of trying to fight two wars at the same time. And so my job as the next commander in chief is going to be to make a decision what is the right war to fight, and, and how do we fight it? And I think that we should have been focused on Afghanistan from the start. We should have finished that job. We have not, but we now have the opportunity, moving forward, to begin a phased redeployment and to make sure that we're finishing the job in Afghanistan.
- See a 9 minute video excerpt from the interview.

McCain: Immigration Reform Like My Becoming an "Astronaut"

Another strange comment from John McCain. He is essentially telling us, in this interview with a Pennsylvania newspaper, that immigration reform is as likely as him becoming an astronaut and landing on the moon. Read the entire transcript of the interview:

Q: The immigration legislation that you worked on in the Senate last year. Would you try to get that passed as president?

A: Of course, it was my proposal twice, but the fact is it was rejected twice. I mean I’d like to be on the next launch to the moon. I’d like to be an astronaut. There’s a lot of things I’d like to see. Working

together, in a bi-partisan fashion with the president, we thought we came up with a proposal that would address all aspects of the issue. We failed.

Rather than go back and fail again, we need to secure the borders and make sure that Americans have that confidence in border security and then we move on to other issues.

Video: Barack Obama on Meet The Press (7-27-08)

The interview was held in London by Tom Brokaw. Read the entire transcript:

Video: Increased Dangers on America's Beaches

You need to see this video before going to the beach this weekend. We must deal with the fact that the environment is playing a greater role in our lives. We need to be prepared.

Study: Media Liberal Bias Directed Against Obama

The McCain people have been gripping about the media coverage for Obama, the same way Hillary did. They were both wrong. They confused press bias for sour grapes. This from the LA Times:

Haters of the mainstream media reheated a bit of conventional wisdom last week.

Barack Obama, they said, was getting a free ride from those insufferable liberals.

Such pronouncements, sorry to say, tend to be wrong since they describe a monolithic media that no longer exists. Information today cascades from countless outlets and channels, from the Huffington Post to to CBS News and beyond.

But now there's additional evidence that casts doubt on the bias claims aimed -- with particular venom -- at three broadcast networks.

The Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University, where researchers have tracked network news content for two decades, found that ABC, NBC and CBS were tougher on Obama than on Republican John McCain during the first six weeks of the general-election campaign.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Blasts in Gaza Stoke Tensions Between Factions

This is very bad if the Israelis were involved. The Middle East is on the verge of turning into a giant burning cauldron. No one will escape the horror to come. And the beneficiaries are al Qaeda and their likes.

Hamas police officers in Gaza on Saturday rounded up scores of supporters of Fatah, the rival Palestinian movement, and raided its offices after five Hamas militants and a girl were killed in a bomb blast late Friday, local residents said.

The explosion and the Hamas reaction stoked internal tensions in Gaza to one of their highest levels since the Hamas takeover of the Palestinian territory in June 2007.

Hamas, the Islamic militant organization, blamed the mainstream Fatah for the deadly blast that followed two smaller explosions in Gaza on Friday, issuing a statement accusing the Fatah leadership in the West Bank, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, of concealing “a conspiracy to kill and assassinate and terrorize” Hamas security forces.

Fatah denied involvement; a spokesman for Mr. Abbas suggested the killings were a result of a conflict in Hamas and charged Hamas officials with trying to cover up divisions in their own organization.

In several episodes in the past militants had been killed by their own explosives, but local news media said Friday’s explosion, near a crowded Gaza beach, was caused by a bomb placed outside a car used by Hamas militants. Medical officials said that at least 19 Palestinians were wounded.

The two earlier explosions occurred outside a popular Gaza cafe and near the home of a Hamas official. Local news reports said the cafe bomber, who died in the blast, belonged to a shadowy Islamic extremist group that has been taking aim at places of entertainment and Christian centers in Gaza. It was unclear who was responsible for the second bombing.

After a brief but brutal factional war with Fatah last year, Hamas has consolidated its control over Gaza, priding itself on imposing internal order. It also has negotiated a temporary truce with the Israelis, through Egyptian mediators, that has brought almost total quiet to the area in the past few weeks.

But according to news reports, gun battles broke out between the rival Palestinian groups overnight as Fatah sympathizers tried to resist arrest in the wake of the bombings.

Hamas leaders gathered Saturday at a central mosque where the coffins of those killed in the explosion were brought for prayers before burial, and charged the Fatah leadership with collaboration with Israel — a crime punishable by death in the Palestinian territories.

House Committee Hears The "I-Word"

At least one Democrat in the Congress is doing his duty. While the Democratic leadership plays politics, Dennis Kucinich stands up for the rule of law. Tragically he is essentially all alone.

It was a forum at which the “I-word” was not to be spoken but was anyway.

The House Judiciary Committee convened a hearing to address an impeachment resolution brought against President Bush by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, although members of the committee went to great pains to insist the purpose of the meeting was not to vote to remove Mr. Bush from office.

Instead, the hearing was aimed at the president’s use or misuse of executive powers, with constitutional and legal experts invited to weigh in on whether the American system of check and balances has been undermined by the Executive Branch.

But critics of Mr. Bush's policies couldn't pass up the chance to charge the president with a long list of impeachable "high crimes and misdemeanors."

Leading the way was Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, the former Democratic presidential candidate who has brought repeated impeachment resolutions on the House floor against the president and Vice President Cheney.

"The decision before us is whether to honor our oath as Members of Congress to support and defend the Constitution that has been trampled time and again over the last seven years," Kucinich testified.

Gallup Daily: Obama Retains Lead, 48% to 41%

While Barack Obama's poll numbers (according to have remained consistently in 46% range since the beginning of May 2008, McCain's has been trending downward since early June. This is important because in recent days FOX and friends have been arguing that Barack was on the decline and McCain rising. There is nothing that indicates McCain will ever catchup to Obama. The reality is that the more people learn about the Illinois Senator the more they like him. The only way McCain could win is if Obama is assassinated. Why do I have that nagging fear? There is a small racist element that will do anything to prevent Obama from becoming President. Already, Hillary Clinton and John McCain have expressed their desire that it happen.

Barack Obama has stretched his lead over John McCain among national registered voters to seven percentage points, 48% to 41%, in Gallup Poll Daily tracking conducted July 23-25.

[...]Notably, Obama's current seven-point lead over McCain ties his widest since the start of Gallup Poll Daily tracking of the general election in early March[...]

Scott McClellan: Bush WH Fed FOXNews Talking Points (Video)

Although suspected (particularly Dan Rather's claims) for a long time that FOX is in the pocket of this White House. Now we have the definitive confirmation from former press secretary, Scott McClellan.

Hospital Guards Taser, Stomp 66-year-old Minister over Innocent Joke

This is very frightening. If it happened to this gentleman it could happen to anyone. This story isn't about tasers. He was being kicked and stomped while tasering was happening. It was video that saved the day. I wonder if the individuals involved in this barbaric behavior will be prosecuted?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Senile or Stupid: McCain Says Iraq First U.S. War After 9-11

See the video of the latest McCain gaffe. This is getting monotonous. Almost a "mental lapse" per day:

"The fact is we had four years of failed policy. We were losing. We were losing the war in Iraq. The consequences of failure and defeat of the United States of America in the first major conflict since 9/11 would have had devastating impacts throughout the region and the world," McCain replied.

After the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., US forces attacked the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan in October 2001 -- well before the invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

“It is disappointing that John McCain doesn’t recognize that the war in Afghanistan was not only the first major conflict after 9/11, and is in fact a major front in the fight against terrorism. No wonder John McCain doesn’t understand why the American people are looking for new leadership that will bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end so we can direct the resources we need to getting the job done in Afghanistan," Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Karen Finney said in a statement.

Why so many verbal/mental miscues? Is it a mental flaw or just a verbal slip. Either way it is unacceptable. Seven and one-half years of similar "moments" is long enough.
Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) said “Iraq” when he apparently meant “Afghanistan” on Monday, adding to a string of mixed-up word choices that is giving ammunition to the opposition.

Just in the past three weeks, McCain has mixed up Iraq and Afghanistan, Somalia and Sudan, and even football’s Packers and Steelers.

Ironically, the errors have been concentrated in what should be his area of expertise - foreign affairs.

McCain will turn 72 the day after Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) accepts his party’s nomination for president, calling new attention to the sensitive issue of McCain’s advanced age, three days before the start of his own convention.

The McCain campaign says Obama has had plenty of flubs of his own, including a reference to "57 states" and a string of misstated place names during the primaries that Republicans gleefully sent around as YouTubes.

But the mistakes raise a serious, if uncomfortable question: Are the gaffes the result of his age? And what could that mean in the Oval Office?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Secret Memo Shows Harsh CIA Tactics Approved

If they didn't think these methods were so controversial, if not illegal, why did they keep it a secret? Is Congress really intending on keeping this administration accountable? At the very least, why don't we have hearings like Iran-Contra that were held during the Reagan days. Bush Inc. should not get away Scott Free:

The Justice Department in 2002 told the CIA that its interrogators would be safe from prosecution for violations of anti-torture laws if they believed "in good faith" that harsh techniques used to break prisoners' will would not cause "prolonged mental harm."

That heavily censored memo, released Thursday, approved the CIA's harsh interrogation techniques method by method, but warned that if the circumstances changed, interrogators could be running afoul of anti-torture laws.

The Aug. 1, 2002, memo signed by then-Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee was issued the same day he wrote a memo for then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales defining torture as only those "extreme acts" that cause pain similar in intensity to that caused by death or organ failure. That memo was never rescinded.

McCain FOX News Interview: Transcript (7-23-08)

Read the entire transcript:

HANNITY: Well, let me ask you about that, because this is Barack Obama. He is your opponent, and his first trip ever to Afghanistan, hasn't been back to Iraq in 900 some odd days, and the three major networks and their big stars out there to cover this.

Does that bother you at all? Is that — what do you think of that? Is that media bias?

MCCAIN: No, but, you know, one of the things that's very interesting, he had never before asked to sit down and get a briefing from General Petraeus. I mean — and the other thing I thought was interesting, he issued his policy statement towards Iraq and Afghanistan, which as you mentioned never been to, before he left.

Now, I've got to tell you, Sean. I've traveled around the world, usually at your expense.

HANNITY: At my expense.

MCCAIN: . but I make my policy statements and speeches after I've learned along the way, so it's pretty clear that Senator Obama was not going to change his wrong view that the success had not succeeded, and the fact is it has succeeded, and we're winning, and he refuses to acknowledge that.

HANNITY: Well, he — actually up until the week before he had on his Web site that the surge wasn't working, and then they purged that part of it, and they talked about the minor success, but he still won't admit that the surge has been successful.

Is that just a political posture?

MCCAIN: No rational person who was in Iraq two years ago and saw the situation, and it was dire then. We were on the verge of losing a war, and seeing it now, no rational person cannot say that the surge has succeeded, and there's one other thing about this.

It makes you just marvel and stand in awe of the young men and women who did all this. Our service members — there were political pundits that you and I like and admire that said it was lost. Harry Reid, the majority leader of the Senator, it was lost.

And yet these young people under the inspirational leadership of General Petraeus and other, and others went out there, and they succeed in this thing, and it's — what a testimonial it is to the brave men and women, and when you say it wasn't because of them, then I think it's a disservice to them.

Obama Berlin Speech Transcript

Read the entire transcript text of the highly anticipated speech, as provided by the campaign:

I come to Berlin as so many of my countrymen have come before. Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen – a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world.

I know that I don’t look like the Americans who’ve previously spoken in this great city. The journey that led me here is improbable. My mother was born in the heartland of America, but my father grew up herding goats in Kenya. His father – my grandfather – was a cook, a domestic servant to the British.

At the height of the Cold War, my father decided, like so many others in the forgotten corners of the world, that his yearning – his dream – required the freedom and opportunity promised by the West. And so he wrote letter after letter to universities all across America until somebody, somewhere answered his prayer for a better life.

That is why I’m here. And you are here because you too know that yearning. This city, of all cities, knows the dream of freedom. And you know that the only reason we stand here tonight is because men and women from both of our nations came together to work, and struggle, and sacrifice for that better life.

Ours is a partnership that truly began sixty years ago this summer, on the day when the first American plane touched down at Templehof.

[...]The size of our forces was no match for the much larger Soviet Army. And yet retreat would have allowed Communism to march across Europe. Where the last war had ended, another World War could have easily begun. All that stood in the way was Berlin.

And that’s when the airlift began – when the largest and most unlikely rescue in history brought food and hope to the people of this city.

The odds were stacked against success. In the winter, a heavy fog filled the sky above, and many planes were forced to turn back without dropping off the needed supplies. The streets where we stand were filled with hungry families who had no comfort from the cold.

But in the darkest hours, the people of Berlin kept the flame of hope burning. The people of Berlin refused to give up. And on one fall day, hundreds of thousands of Berliners came here, to the Tiergarten, and heard the city’s mayor implore the world not to give up on freedom. “There is only one possibility,” he said. “For us to stand together united until this battle is won…The people of Berlin have spoken. We have done our duty, and we will keep on doing our duty. People of the world: now do your duty…People of the world, look at Berlin!”

Ex U.S. Official: Afghan Leader Shields Drug Trade

American troops are fighting and dying to defend corruption in Iraq. Now they are defending a government that is busy lining it's pockets rather fighting the enemy. Is it any wonder we aren't "winning?"

The U.S. government's former point man in the fight against the heroin trade in Afghanistan has accused Afghan President Hamid Karzai of obstructing counter-narcotics efforts and protecting drug lords.

Thomas Schweich, who resigned last month from the State Department's narcotics bureau, said in an article to appear on Sunday in the New York Times magazine that the Afghan government was deeply involved in shielding the opium trade.

"While it is true that Karzai's Taliban enemies finance themselves from the drug trade, so do many of his supporters," Schweich wrote in article posted on the newspaper's Web site.

"Narco-corruption went to the top of the Afghan government," he wrote, adding that drug traffickers were buying off hundreds of police chiefs, judges and other officials.

And now that the Bush administration has essentially given up on Afghanistan, the likelihood of stopping the Taliban is remote. Obama will likely send troops from Iraq to Afghanistan. But if we can't "win" in Iraq with all those troops how are we going to win in a country where the enemy has free reign?
The Pentagon is unable to send additional combat brigades to Afghanistan this year because of constraints imposed by the war in Iraq, leaving a shift of forces to the next president, a spokesman said Wednesday.

US commanders in Afghanistan have requested three more combat brigades, or about 10,000 troops, to deal with growing insurgent violence in the eastern and southern parts of the country.

Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary, said improving security conditions in Iraq have raised the prospect for freeing up troops for Afghanistan next year, but Iraq remains the Bush administration's top priority.

"It looks as though this government is going to work to provide additional forces for Afghanistan next year," Morrell said. "How many, whether it is the three additional brigades that the commanders want I think is a question for the next administration."

Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, has vowed to make Afghanistan the top priority if elected. His Republican rival, John McCain, argues that success in Iraq is more important, but has said he would send more troops to Afghanistan.

President George W. Bush met with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the military chiefs in a secure conference room at the Pentagon to review progress on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Morrell said efforts were underway to figure out what forces or military assets could be sent to Afghanistan in the near-term.

Whether additional forces can be diverted from Iraq to Afghanistan "is going to be the fundamental issue before the military leaders, the civilian leaders in this building in the coming months," he said.

But Morrell said providing additional combat brigades would require a more rapid drawdown of US forces from Iraq or the mobilization of guard and reserve troops.

"Obviously we don't have the means to send three BCTs (brigade combat teams) to Afghanistan at this very moment, without making some very hard choices," he said.

"You can't snap your fingers and make this happen."

Morrell's comments were striking because they came just a week after Gates and Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed vivid concern about the rising violence and deteriorating security in Afghanistan.

China Presses Grieving Parents to Take Hush Money on Quake

The Chinese certainly have put all the stops out in time for the Olympics. It is reminiscent of the Nazi regime prior to the Berlin games. And the response from the West will be the same.

The official came for Yu Tingyun in his village one evening last week. He asked Mr. Yu to get into his car. He was clutching the contract and a pen.

Mr. Yu’s daughter had died in a cascade of concrete and bricks, one of at least 240 students at a high school here who lost their lives in the May 12 earthquake. Mr. Yu became a leader of grieving parents demanding to know if the school, like so many others, had crumbled because of poor construction.

The contract had been thrust in Mr. Yu’s face during a long police interrogation the day before. In exchange for his silence and for affirming that the ruling Communist Party “mobilized society to help us,” he would get a cash payment and a pension.

Mr. Yu had resisted then. This time, he took the pen.

“When I saw that most of the parents had signed it, I signed it myself,” Mr. Yu said softly. A wiry 42-year-old driver, he carries a framed portrait of his daughter, Yang, in his shoulder bag.

Local governments in southwest China’s quake-ravaged Sichuan Province have begun a coordinated campaign to buy the silence of angry parents whose children died during the earthquake, according to interviews with more than a dozen parents from four collapsed schools. Officials threaten that the parents will get nothing if they refuse to sign, the parents say.

Chinese officials had promised a new era of openness in the wake of the earthquake and in the months before the Olympic Games, which begin in August. But the pressure on parents is one sign that officials here are determined to create a facade of public harmony rather than undertake any real inquiry into accusations that corruption or negligence contributed to the high death toll in the quake.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Obama's Press Conference in Israel: Transcript (7-23-08)

Obama proved today that he is a just another U.S. politician who grovels before the powerful Israeli lobby. It guarantees that there will be no change in the status quo in the Middle East if he is elected President. Which means there will be no peace, and plenty of war. Read the complete transcript.

The threats to Israel security begin in Sderot, but they don't end there. They include outrageous acts of terror like the attack we just saw yesterday in Jerusalem. Rearming Hezbollah in Lebanon and an Iranian regime that sponsors terrorism, pursues nuclear weapons and threatens Israel's existence. A nuclear Iran would pose a grave threat and the world must prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Today I had a series of productive discussions with many of Israel's key leaders about how to address the broad range of security threats that Israel faces and the broad threats that all of us face. I look forward to continuing these consultations with Prime Minister Olmert this evening, and I'm also looking forward to consulting closely with our European allies about Iran and other challenges in the days ahead.

Now let me just close by saying that I bring to Sderot, an unshakeable commitment to Israel's security. The state of Israel faces determined enemies who seek its destruction. But it also has a friend and ally in the United States that will always stand by the people of Israel. That's why I'm proud to be here today and that's why I will work from the moment that I return to America, to tell the story of Sderot and to make sure that the good people who live here are enjoying a future of peace and security and hope.

[...]QUESTION: Senator Obama, you said in OPEC convention that the (INAUDIBLE) Jerusalem could continue to be the capital city. Then you changed it and clarified later on in the -- (INAUDIBLE) wonder.

How could you be sure if your other statesmen, that you are going to be committed to the security and safety of Israel and you're not going to change it even when you're the President of the United States?

OBAMA: First of all, I didn't change my statement.

I continued to say that Jerusalem will be the capital of Israel. And I have said that before and I will say it again. And I also have said that it is important that we don't simply slice the city in half. But I've also said that that's a final status issue. That's an issue that has to be dealt with with the parties involved, the Palestinians and the Israelis. And it's not the job of the United States to dictate the form in which that will take, but rather to support the efforts that are being made right now to resolve these very difficult issues that have a long history.

Now, in terms of knowing my commitments, you don't have to just look at my words, you can look at my deeds. Just this past week, we passed out of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, which is my committee, a bill to call for divestment from Iran, as a way of ratcheting up the pressure to ensure that they don't obtain a nuclear weapon.

When Israel invaded Lebanon, in response to the kidnapping of Israel's soldiers, I was one of the first people to state that Israel had an unequivocal right to defend itself and to rescue soldiers that had been captured. And that is what any country would do. On vote after vote I have demonstrated my support of the state of Israel.

So, the way you know where somebody's going is where have they been. And I've been with Israel for many, many years now. What is also true is I believe it is strongly in the interests of Israel's security to arrive at a lasting peace with the Palestinian people. I don't think those positions are contradictory. I think they're complementary. You know, it is going to be hard for Israel over the long term and this is something that I think the vast majority of Israelis understand. That it's going to be hard to achieve true security if there's still hostile neighbors only a few miles away.

John McCain Interview with ABC News: Transcript (7-23-08)

Read the entire transcript:

WRIGHT: Senator, I want to start by asking you about an extraordinary statement you just made in that town hall meeting, something you also said in New Hampshire yesterday, talking about how you would rather lose a political campaign than lose a war, but then you go on to say, "It seems to me that Senator Obama would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign."

That's pretty strong language. Do you really think he's that craven?

MCCAIN: I think that it's very clear that Senator Obama has refused to recognize that the strategy in Iraq called the surge has succeeded and that America has succeeded in Iraq and will come home with victory and with honor. If he would've had his way, they'd have been out last March. And the fact is...

WRIGHT: So you what you're essentially saying there is that it's all about personal ambition for him, and not about what he honestly thinks is right for the country?

MCCAIN: I do not believe that any objective observer can conclude that the surge did not work and is not succeeding. It's not possible. The facts on the ground are very clear.

And the future of young Americans are at stake here, because if we do what he wants to do -- and that's withdraw, which the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on a certain date, has said is very dangerous -- and even, in Senator Obama's own admission, we could have to go back, then that's dangerous for the future of America. And he should know better if he wants to be commander in chief and certainly behave differently, as far as this -- our presence and our strategy in Iraq.

Video: Bush Compares Wall St. to Drunks

Good analogy. Coming from a pro-business President its saying a lot. But then again Mr.Bush is looking for scapegoats to divert attention from his total ineptitude.

Video: McCain Gets Facts Wrong on the Surge

This is becoming a regular event. Is McCain ignorant or is he becoming senile? Either way it is getting scary: a major Presidential candidate can't get his facts right about serious matters relating to a job he is applying for. These gaffes on foreign policy seriously undermine his campaign's contention that the Senator is superior to Obama in this respect. McCain is sounding almost like George Dubya when he ran in 2000. We've seen the consequences of electing Bush. Let's not make that terrible mistake again.

Obama Interview with Katie Couric: Transcript (7-22-08)

Read the entire transcript of Katie Couric's (CBS anchor) interview of Barack Obama:

Couric: ... Prime Minister Maliki on the same page when it comes to a troop withdrawal by 2010. Why do you believe that the Iraqi security forces, which have taken so long to get up to speed, will be equipped to protect the country at that point?

Obama: Well, keep in mind that, and I can't speak for Prime Minister Maliki now, but under my proposal, you'd still have U.S. forces with a capable counterterrorism operation in the region. You would still be training Iraqi security forces. We'd still be providing logistical support. We would still provide protection for our diplomatic corps and other civilians as well as our forces on the ground.

So we would still have the capacity to help promote effective actions by the Iraqi security forces. And, in fact, we're already starting to see more and more of those forces take the lead in actions where we're playing more of an advisory role. The key is for us to not inhibit the Iraqis from taking that kind of responsibility on.

[...]Couric: Before the surge, as you know, Senator, there were 80 to 100 U.S. casualties a month, the country was rife with sectarian violence, and you raised a lot of eyebrows on this trip saying even knowing what you know now, you still would not have supported the surge. People may be scratching their heads and saying, "Why?"

Obama: Well … because … what I was referring to, and I've consistently referred to, is the need for a strategy that actually concludes our involvement in Iraq and moves Iraqis to take responsibility for the country.

Couric: But didn't the surge …

Obama: And …

Couric: …help do that?

Obama: Let me finish, Katie. What happens is that if we continue to put $10 billion to $12 billion a month into Iraq, if we are willing to send as many troops as we can muster continually into Iraq? There's no doubt that that's gonna have an impact. But it doesn't meet our long-term strategic goal, which is to make the American people safer over the long term. If that means that we're detracting from our efforts in Afghanistan, where conditions are deteriorating, if it means that we are distracted from going after Osama bin Laden who is still sending out audio tapes and is operating training camps where we know terrorists' actions are being plotted.

If we have shifted away from the central front of terrorism as a consequence of enormous and continuing investments in Iraq, then that's a poor strategic choice. And ultimately, what we've got to do is - we have to recognize that Iraq is just one of our … security problems. It's not the only one.

We've got big problems in Afghanistan. We've got a significant threat in Iran. We've got to deal with Pakistan and the fact that there are safe havens there. Those are all the factors and all the issues that I've gotta take into account when I'm president of the United States.

Couric: All that may be true. But do you not give the surge any credit for reducing violence in Iraq?

Obama: No, no … of course I have. There is no doubt that the extraordinary work of our U.S. forces has contributed to a lessening of the violence, just as making sure that the Sadr militia stood down or the fact that the Sunni tribes decided to flip and work with us instead of with al-Qaeda - something that we hadn't anticipated happening.

All those things have contributed to a reduction in violence. So this, in no way, detracts from the great efforts of our young men and women in uniform. In fact, that's one of the most striking things about visiting Iraq is to see how dedicated they are, what a great job they do - all those things … are critically important. What I'm saying is it does not solve the broader strategic question that we have been dealing with over the last five, six, seven years. And that is how do we take the limited resources we have, both militarily and financially, and apply them in such a way that we are making America as safe as possible? And I believe that my approach is the right one.

CBS' Katie Couric Interviews McCain: Transcript (7-22-08)

Read the full transcript:

Katie Couric: Sen. McCain, Prime Minister Maliki and Sen. Obama seem to be on the same page when it comes to a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops by 2010. Are you feeling like the odd man out here?

Sen. John McCain: Prime Minister Maliki, General Petraeus, Admiral Mullen and the other leaders in Iraq have all agreed that it's conditioned-based. Sen. Obama said the surge would fail. He said that it couldn't succeed. He was wrong. He said he still doesn't agree that surge has succeeded now that everybody knows that it has succeeded. I said at the time that I supported the surge. I would much rather lose a campaign than lose a war. Sen. Obama has indicated that by his failure to acknowledge the success of the surge, that he would rather lose a war than lose a campaign.

I know what this conflict is all about. I will bring our troops home. I will bring them home in victory. I will not do what the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said would be very dangerous. We will have a stable Iraq that we won't have to return to because we have succeeded in the strategy and we will come home with victory and honor and not in defeat. Sen. Obama has said that if the surge failed that he might have to send troops back. After this surge has succeeded and we’ve won a victory, we’ll never have to send Americans back.

Couric: Why do you think Prime Minister Maliki publicly supported and endorsed the concept of a timetable - a 16-month timetable? And isn’t that one of the main objectives of the operation, Sen. McCain, to get the Iraqi military to stand up so U.S. forces can, in fact, stand down?

McCain: Well that’s what they’ve been doing and we’ve succeeded. And the fact is that Prime Minster Maliki … always said it would be conditioned-based. And so has all of our leaders, and so has General Petraeus, who has had enormous success. If Sen. Obama had had his way, we'd of never had the surge.

And we'd of been out of there last March. Probably having to come back because of chaos in the region. Increased Iranian influence. So the fact is that we have succeeded. We are winning. They'll come home with honor. And it won't be just at a set timetable.

It'll be condition-based, which all of us are in agreement. We're including our military leaders. Including one of the great generals in history, General Petraeus, who device his strategy was succeeded when, frankly, most people, and those who thought, including political pundits, said we had lost the war, including Harry Reid, including Sen.Obama. So we've succeeded. And we will come home in victory. And it'll be based on conditions. But al Qaeda is not defeated. They're on the run, but they're not defeated. So we have to be prepared to continue to do what's necessary to succeed. But we have in order to win the war. But we have succeeded in the strategy. There's no doubt about it.

- Read the transcript of Couric's previous interview of McCain done in early July

Video: Protester Spits on Iraq War Veteran

Those of us who oppose the Iraq War and love America are offended by those protesters who attack our troops. It happened during the Vietnam War and we shouldn't allow to happen again. It is sad that so many protesting the war are anti-American.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

T. Boone Picken: America is Running Out of Time

Like the Texan Ross Periot, T. Boone Picken is sounding the alarm about the dangers that face America today. He is a true patriot, unlike the other Texan, George W. Bush.

BLITZER: But you're worried about the United States going bankrupt; is that right?

PICKENS: Well, I'm not saying we're going to go bankrupt. I'm saying we can't pay for a lot of things we want to pay for. What I am saying is, from a security standpoint, we could -- we could really be in terrible shape, if, you know -- importing 70 percent of your oil, and only having 3 percent of the reserves in the world, I mean, we're in -- we're in terrible shape on energy.

[...]PICKENS: Well, if you go back and look, Wolf, 10 years ago, I was saying that we will be at 60 percent imports by the end of the century. That was true. It happened. People said, Boone's crazy. That isn't going to happen.

It did happen. I have been pretty good on speaking up and predicting things. But now what's happened is that you're -- you're at a very critical point, but we're also at a critical point in this presidential election, too. And I don't think this issue has been elevated into the debate to the level I want to see it elevated.

It's number one. If you don't solve this problem, you -- you don't have to worry about health care and education, because you're not going to have the money to take care of it anyway.

BLITZER: And correct me if I'm wrong. You were a lifelong Republican. You supported President Bush back in 2000. "The New York Times" says you were among those that bankrolled the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth against John Kerry.

But, right now, where do you see these two candidates, neither one of whom, I believe you say is not doing the job?

PICKENS: I didn't say they weren't doing the job. And I'm not sure that they totally understand the urgency of what I see. And maybe they just don't think it's as -- as critical as I do.

But, here, you -- you don't talk about things that are going to happen 10, 20, 30 years from now. You talk about things you can fix as quickly as you -- as possible. And I think you can have a lot done in less than five years, if we move in the direction that I'm talking about going.

BLITZER: How much time do we really have? Because we have seen your commercials. The numbers are alarming, the transfer of wealth from the United States going around the world. How much time, realistically, do you think the United States has?

PICKENS: I think you're neck deep in it right now. I don't think you have any time. I think you have got to -- you have got to make your energy plan move forward.

[...]BLITZER: And you're ready to put some of your own money behind all of this as well. How much are we talking about? We know you're a billionaire.

PICKENS: I have -- in the 4,000 megawatts that I'm building at Pampa, Texas, that that's going to cost $10 billion. So, I'm putting my money where my mouth is.

The Rich Keep Getting Richer

Is anyone really surprised? Is it any wonder we face the economic crisis currently plaguing us? For decades big business has been gorging--at the expense of the rest of the world. And it is ending the same way it did in 1929. They've made their mammoth profits through speculation. As with all speculative bubbles: they burst. That means the rest of us who getting crumbs for so long, are now getting stuck with the bill. Because when the super rich get in trouble the government comes to their aide. The victims of big business' excesses get nothing but insults, as happened with all those innocent people who took out deceptive subprime loans. Much of the world's economic injustice can be attributed to the gap between the super rich and the great majority of the non-rich. And it is inequality that led the French Revolution, the Communist Revolution, and our own revolution. And it will happen once again in this country. Meanwhile, there will be great hardship:

In a new sign of increasing inequality in the U.S., the richest 1% of Americans in 2006 garnered the highest share of the nation's adjusted gross income for two decades, and possibly the highest since 1929, according to Internal Revenue Service data.

Meanwhile, the average tax rate of the wealthiest 1% fell to its lowest level in at least 18 years. The group's share of the tax burden has risen, though not as quickly as its share of income.

[...]The figures about the relative income and tax rates of the wealthiest Americans come as the presumptive presidential candidates are in a debate about taxes. Congress and the next president will have to decide whether to extend several Bush-era tax cuts, including the 2003 reduction in tax rates on capital gains and dividends. Experts said those tax cuts in particular are playing a major role in falling tax rates for the very wealthy.

[...]According to the figures, the richest 1% reported 22% of the nation's total adjusted gross income in 2006. That is up from 21.2% a year earlier, and is the highest in the 19 years that the IRS has kept strictly comparable figures. The 1988 level was 15.2%. Earlier IRS data show the last year the share of income belonging to the top 1% was at such a high level as it was in 2006 was in 1929, but changes in measuring income make a precise comparison difficult.

Mideast Sees More of the Same if Obama Is Elected

Obama has proven that he is in the back pocket of the Israeli lobby. This means nothing will be done to solve the number 1 issue confronting the Middle East: the Palestinian, Israel conflict. No politician can be elected to the presidency and advocate and even hand foreign policy in the region.

For what feels like forever, Israelis and their Arab neighbors have been hopelessly deadlocked on how to resolve the Palestinian crisis. But there is one point they may now agree on: If elected president, Senator Barack Obama will not fundamentally recalibrate America’s relationship with Israel, or the Arab world.

From the religious center of Jerusalem to the rolling hills of Amman to the crowded streets of Cairo, dozens of interviews revealed a similar sentiment: the United States will ultimately support Israel over the Palestinians, no matter who the president is. That presumption promoted a degree of relief in Israel and resignation here in Jordan and in Israel’s other Arab neighbors.

“What we know is American presidents all support Israel,” said Muhammad Ibrahim, 23, a university student who works part time selling watermelons on the street in the southern part of this city. “It is hopeless. This one is like the other one. They are all the same. Nothing will change. Don’t expect change.”

Across the border, in Israel, Moshe Cohen could not have agreed more. “Jews there have influence,” Mr. Cohen said, as he sold lottery tickets along Jaffa Road in Jerusalem. “He’ll have to be good to Israel. If not, he won’t be re-elected to a second term.”

Mr. Obama, who will be here on Tuesday, has promised change. He has offered to begin dialogue where the current president has refused, in places like Syria and Iran. But when he stepped into the Middle East, he walked into a region where public expectations were long ago set. The Bush years have supercharged those sentiments, especially in the Arab world, where there is little faith that the United States can ever again serve as a fair broker between the sides.

In Israel, Mr. Bush was seen as the most supportive American president yet, and early opinion polls show a preference there for the presumptive Republican nominee, Senator John McCain.

But Mr. Obama gained ground — or lost it, depending on which side was reacting — when he spoke in June to a pro-Israel lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. He said that Jerusalem “will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.”

He later qualified his comments, saying he meant that the two sides of Jerusalem should not be separated by walls or barbed wire. But the message had already been sent.

“The Arabs need America to be straight and unbiased, but anyway we feel, that American policy will not be changed too much,” said a Palestinian who identified himself by his nickname, Abu Fadi, a salesman in an electrical appliance store in downtown Arab East Jerusalem.

Behind this general agreement, there is a fundamental difference. In the Arab streets, there is a hope, perhaps limited, that this candidate might be different. He is black, his father was Muslim and his middle name is Hussein, so there is hope that he will be more sympathetic, though that hope is not joined to any expectation.

When the Lobby says jump the politicians ask, "how high?" That means he will not meet Hamas eventhough no peace can come without involvement of that group.
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama will visit the West Bank next week as part of a swing through the Middle East, a Palestinian official said Monday, giving an important diplomatic boost to the Palestinians at a sensitive time in peace talks.

The Palestinians expressed satisfaction over the planned meeting with the presumed Democratic nominee, which comes months after Obama's likely Republican opponent, John McCain, passed on meeting with the Palestinians during a brief visit to Israel.

Obama is scheduled to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during his July 23 stop in Ramallah, said Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, who was in Paris for a Mediterranean summit.

[...]In a recent speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, he offered such ardent support for Israel that he had to backtrack just a few days later. Obama, working to woo Jewish voters, told the lobbying group that he supported Israel retaining control of an "undivided" Jerusalem. The comment so infuriated many Arab leaders that he was forced to issue a clarification that he didn't oppose Israeli-Palestinian negotiations over the future of the city.

Wachovia Has Record $8.9 Billion Loss

Erin Burnett called the situation with the banks "grim" this morning. I continue to argue that the banking situation will continue to worsen. Who knows how many banks are in trouble. Will the government bail them all out? Can it? Who's going to bail out the government? Will it be too late to do something when we do learn the answers?

Wachovia Corp., the U.S. bank that hired Treasury Undersecretary Robert Steel as chief executive officer two weeks ago, reported a record quarterly loss of $8.9 billion and slashed the dividend. The stock fell as much as 12 percent in early New York trading.

The second-quarter loss of $4.20 a share compared with net income of $2.3 billion, or $1.23, a year earlier, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based company said today in a statement. The loss included a $6.1 billion charge tied to declining asset values.

The writedown and second dividend reduction in three months reflect Steel's response to setbacks including the Golden West Financial Corp. acquisition in 2006, which cost former CEO Kennedy Thompson his job after eight years. Wachovia has dropped more than 75 percent in New York Stock Exchange composite trading since it spent $24 billion two years ago to buy Golden West just as house prices were peaking.

It's gotten so bad that even when banks report losses Wall St. takes that as a positive news:
Bank of America Corp. has become the latest in a string of big banks whose second-quarter earnings, while hurting from the impact of the credit crisis, still managed to beat Wall Street expectations.

The nation's second-largest bank by assets said yesterday that its profit fell 41 percent as losses in its struggling mortgage operations were offset by business in other parts of the company. But it easily beat Wall Street estimates, and its stock rose $1.07, or 3.9 percent, to $28.56 in afternoon trading.

Four of the nation's five biggest banks have now reported better-than-estimated results. JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. reported smaller-than-expected profit declines, and Citigroup Inc. had a milder-than-expected $2.5 billion loss.

Maybe we should listen to Henry Paulson. Let's put our trust in this administration. They will do the right thing. Haven't done a great job up till this point?
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said Sunday that the current economic difficulties will take months to pass but added that turmoil in the banking sector is under control.

"This is a tough time," Paulson said in an interview on CBS's Face the Nation. "We're going to be in a period of slow growth for a while."

But he added that recovery would involve a matter of months rather than years.
Paulson also voiced confidence on government's ability to deal with the recent string of bank failures.

"Our regulators are on top of it. This is a very manageable situation," he said.
He said 2008 has seen only five banks fail, compared with about 250 failures seen in a single year during the height of the savings-and-loan crisis of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Speaking later on CNN's Late Edition, he added that "99% of the banks with 99% of the assets" were in good shape in terms of capitalization.
"Stability in the capital markets, that's our No. 1 thing," he said

Monday, July 21, 2008

Lieberman, Bayh Debate on FOX: Transcript

This could be a preview of the presidential debate between the two potential VP candidates: Joe Lieberman and Evan Bayh. They appeared on FOX News Sunday. Read the entire transcript.

WALLACE: As we discussed with Admiral Mullen, Iraqi prime minister Maliki seemed over the weekend to endorse Obama's plan for pulling combat troops out of Iraq by mid 2010, within two years. Now he's apparently backed off that.

But, Senator Lieberman, the Iraqis clearly want us out sooner rather than later, and they would like on a timetable. Why is Senator McCain resisting that?

LIEBERMAN: Well, we — Senator McCain and I and others — want us out of Iraq sooner rather than later, but we want us out in a way that does not compromise all the gains that American and Iraqi forces have made in Iraq, which Admiral Mullen spoke to.

And frankly, we want to stay there to a victory because we don't want all those who have served in the American uniform there to have served or in some cases died in vain.

Remember this, Chris. We wouldn't be having this discussion about how to get out unless the surge, which John McCain courageously fought for, taking on the president of his own party, popular opinion, risking his campaign, and which Senator Obama opposed, worked.

So I think that's the good news. I think everybody — that is, Prime Minister Maliki, President Bush, people like John McCain and I — agree the sooner we're out, the better. But it has to be based on conditions on the ground.

Senator Obama doesn't seem to feel that way. It looked like he did a little bit after the primaries were over. But then he, pushed by and others on the antiwar left of the Democratic Party, is back to a rigid time line. And that's not wise.

WALLACE: Let me talk to Senator Bayh about that.

Admiral Mullen didn't mention Obama, but he did say this idea of a timetable for getting out in two years is dangerous. Why not agree that you're going to make any decisions based on conditions on the ground, Senator?

BAYH: Chris, I think it's important to note that Barack Obama's judgment about these issues has been excellent from the beginning, the kind of judgment you'd want in a commander in chief, and others are now beginning to adopt his positions.

We wouldn't be discussing surges in Iraq or anything else if Barack had had his way. We wouldn't have started that war to begin with.

He was right about Afghanistan. That's the place from which we were attacked. He's been calling for more troops there now for over a year. And John McCain, to his credit, has now come around and adopted Barack's point of view on that.

He has been for, as you say, a phased withdrawal from Iraq. As we heard, Prime Minister Maliki has embraced a more definitive time line, whether it's the 16 months or something else. But clearly, they want a more definitive time line.

And even President Bush now is coming up with a variety of euphemisms — aspirational goals, time horizons. I mean, it's starting to sound pretty much like a timeline to me.

So it's common sense, Chris. Any important enterprise, certainly something as important as a war — you want to have a plan. And a plan has to have some idea of what it's going to cost, what the adverse consequences are going to be and how long it's going to take.

So 16 months seems to be a reasonable goal. Let's work toward that. Let's bring this to a conclusion in a responsible way and focus on Iraq (sic) where the focus should have been all along.

Top McCain Advisor Involved in Lobbying Scandal

This is what John McCain's experience means--ties to lobbbyist. You don't become a powerful political figure in Washington without being up to your neck in sleaze. The image McCain has cultivated over the years as somehow being a political outsider is a hoax.

A top foreign policy adviser to John McCain has lobbied the National Security Council, Congress and the State Department on behalf of Stephen Payne, the Texas businessman and longtime Republican fundraiser caught up in a controversy over whether he sought to sell access to the Bush White House.

According to records on file with Congress, McCain foreign policy adviser Randy Scheunemann lobbied the Senate and House on behalf of Payne's firm, Worldwide Strategic Partners Inc., in 2002.

Scheunemann also lobbied the National Security Council and the State Department regarding energy issues in the Caspian region in 2005 and 2006 on behalf of another Payne firm, Caspian Alliance Inc., according to the records.

The McCain campaign said Scheunemann did not lobby on any specific legislation on behalf of either company, said McCain campaign spokesman Brian Rogers. The fees to Scheunemann's firm amounted to $50,000.

On Monday, McCain's campaign said that from 2002 to 2006, Scheunemann periodically engaged in consulting relationships with the two companies and that Scheunemann was never on the payroll of either firm, but that he was an occasional outside expert consultant.

In regard to Caspian Alliance, Scheunemann arranged several informational meetings for Payne with Department of State and NSC officials following Caspian energy issues, said Rogers.

This isn't the first lobbying scandal involving the Republican nominee:
It seems odd, but for John McCain it was a blessing to have the chance to bury questions about his dealings with lobbyists beneath an alleged sex scandal. The prurient part of the story was easy to deny, and voters are sick of sex scandals.

But even if the sex goes away, the underlying questions raised last week in the story for which the New York Times took such grief are unlikely to disappear. The McCain campaign's sweeping denials may have been a bit too sweeping, and sex, in the end, is not what the story was really about.

The Times got into trouble largely because of the second paragraph of its story Thursday about the relationship between Vicki Iseman, a telecommunications lobbyist, and McCain, when he was chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee.

[...]The same day the Times ran its account, The Post ran a story that stayed away from the "romantic" angle but reported (as the Times also had) that McCain had written two letters to the Federal Communications Commission, urging that it vote on the sale of a Pittsburgh television station to Paxson Communications, one of Iseman's clients.

The Post wrote: "At the time he sent the first letter, McCain had flown on Paxson's corporate jet four times to appear at campaign events and had received $20,000 in campaign donations from Paxson and its law firm. The second letter came on Dec. 10, a day after the company's jet ferried him to a Florida fundraiser that was held aboard a yacht in West Palm Beach."

In denouncing the Times story, McCain's campaign denied that he had met with Lowell "Bud" Paxson, president of the firm. But Paxson later told The Post that he had met with McCain. More telling, Newsweek reported this weekend that McCain himself acknowledged in a 2002 deposition that he had met with Paxson.