Sunday, August 31, 2008

Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Meet The Press: Transcript (8-31-08)

Tim Pawlenty was considered a front runner to be McCain's running mate, until Palin was selected. He makes a strong and exaggerated defense of Palin as the VP pick. Read the complete transcript.

[...]But the fact is that she has been governor less than two years and before that she was a mayor of a town with a population of less than 7,000. Her candidate at the top of the ticket has the bull of a constitution--has the constitution of a bull elephant, but he is a 72-year-old man and a cancer survivor. She will be a heartbeat away from the presidency. This country is engaged in two wars, it's facing a resurgent Russia, a rogue Iran, a financial crisis that may be the greatest since the Great Depression. I think our viewers want to know what's in her background that prepares her for dealing with all that and the possibility that she would have to step up into the Oval Office?

GOV. PAWLENTY: Well, first of all, I think Senator McCain, of course, one of his main attractions and assets and strengths that he's a maverick with a record of reform. She's a maverick with a record of reform. And if you look at her background and I know her a bit as a fellow governor, she's an individual who is smart, she's strong, she's capable, she's dedicated, she's diligent and she has executive experience. She's functioned as a governor, she's the commander in chief of a national guard, she's a former mayor, she's the former chair of an energy commission in Alaska, which is one of the more high-profile issues and operations in Alaska. She's deeply involved in the energy issues, which is really one of the foremost national security issues we have in our country in terms of its connection to transference of wealth to places like the Middle East and Russia and Venezuela. So she is somebody who I think is very capable to be in the executive position. And one last thing, Tom, she's running for vice president. She has as much or more experience as Barack Obama, who's running for president.

MR. BROKAW: But Barack Obama has been before the American people for more than 20 months now. He has debated 20-some times against some very tough opponents. He's participated in one-on-one interviews around the world. He's been vetted, in effect, by the American people, and in most national polls he continues to lead your candidate by a small margin. But people have made some judgments about him and they've not had that same kind of exposure to Sarah Palin. Let me just ask you, quickly, do you think that she would be better on the economy than Mitt Romney, who was a successful entrepreneur and governor of Massachusetts, or better on terrorism than Tom Ridge, the former governor of Pennsylvania, who also ran Homeland Security? Or better, in a lot of matters at the national level, than Joe Lieberman, who is John McCain's close friend from the Democratic Party who's been supporting your party?

GOV. PAWLENTY: Well, one of the objectives here is to be able to relate to and understand and meet and address the needs of average Americans, blue-collar Americans, people who are struggling economically, people who have had a tough time in life. That's a big part of the concern in this election, our economy. It helps to actually have lived that life or walked that walk. And so in addition to her role as governor, being somebody who is dealing with the economy successfully, by the way, in Alaska, she's also somebody who has, has a background, that's, you know, lived the life that, that we talk about. We talk about people sitting around the kitchen table and balancing a budget with a family and having to worry about meeting--making ends meet economically. She and her family have actually done that. I would say that's pretty good preparation for understanding and relating to the economic needs of average Americans.

Obama, Biden on 60 Minutes - Transcript (8-31-08)

Barack Obama and Joe Biden were interviewed together by 60 Minutes. The interview was held Friday. Read the complete transcript/summary.

"Does the fact that he chose as his vice president someone what has less experience than you take that weapon out of his arsenal?" Kroft asked.

"Well, you know, I think that's a good question to address to Senator McCain," Obama replied. "Of course, the issue of experience is going to be relevant. And if I were running against me, that's something that I would try to make an issue of as well. Particularly if I had been in Washington as long as John McCain had."

[...] "She's a life-long member of the NRA. She's a hunter. Her husband's a member of the United Steel Worker Union. Blue collar guy. Got a son on the way to Iraq. It seems like just the kind of person who would appeal to voters in states that you absolutely have to win," Kroft remarked. "And they have to win."

"Well, look, I am happy if this ends up being a referendum on what's going to be good for blue collar workers," Obama said. "I'll put my guy, Joe Biden, up against anybody when it comes to fighting on behalf of those families, because he's been there. He comes out of Scranton, Pennsylvania. He's been fightin' for those folks ever since he got into the Senate. And he hasn't stopped. And he hasn't forgotten where he's come from."

"You know, I think we really underestimate people in the neighborhood. In the neighborhoods I came from, you came from. I really think we underestimate them," Biden remarked. "People get it. I think they're looking for more than whether or not Joe Biden's from Scranton and she hunts. I think that's you know, 'What ya gonna do about it?'"

[...]"Is that one of the reasons you picked Senator Biden?" Kroft asked.

"What reason is that, Steve?" Obama asked.

"You said you've got Joe Biden working for you in Pennsylvania. …States like Pennsylvania," Kroft explained.

"Let me tell you the reason I picked Joe Biden. Number one, he can step in and become president. And I don't think anybody has any doubt about that," Obama said.

"Number two is that if I'm in the room making the kinds of tough decisions that the next president's gonna have to make, both on domestic policy and on international policy, then I want the counsel and advice of somebody who's not gonna agree with me a 100 percent of [the] time. In fact, somebody who's independent enough that can push back and give me different perspectives and make sure that I'm catching any blind spots that I have. And Joe Biden doesn't bite his tongue," he continued.

"You've had some differences over pretty substantial issues. Iraq for one," Kroft pointed out.

"Actually, we haven't," Biden said. "Look, Barack was right. He not only got it right about bein' against the war, I got it wrong about underestimating the incompetence of this administration when we gave the president the power we gave him at the time. He knew accurately that even, not even being outside. Maybe it gave you a better perspective. That that meant he was going to war. Bush told me he wasn't going to war. I thought they meant it. You're standing outside. You knew they didn't mean it."

John McCain FOX News Sunday Interview Transcript (8-31-08)

Read the full transcript.

WALLACE: Let's start with your choice of a running mate. Of all the people you could have chosen, of all the Republican leaders you've known for years, straight talk, can you honestly say that Sarah Palin is the best person to put a heartbeat away from the presidency?

MCCAIN: Oh, yes. She's a partner and a soul-mate. She's a reformer. I don't particularly enjoy the label "maverick," but when somebody takes on the old bulls in her own party, runs against an incumbent governor of her own party, stands up against the oil and gas interests, I mean, they really are so vital to the economy of her — of the state of Alaska. I mean, it's remarkable. It's a remarkable person.

And I've watched her record, and I've watched her for many, many years as she — as she implemented ethics and lobbying reforms. And I mean, she led on it. She didn't just vote for it. She led it. I've seen her take on her own party.

Now look, one thing I know is that when you take on your own party in Washington, you pay a price for it. You do. You pay a price for it. And she has taken on the party in her own state. She took on a sitting governor and defeated him.

And so I'm so pleased and proud, because this is a person who will help me reform Washington and change the way they do business. And that's what Americans want.

WALLACE: But let me ask you...


WALLACE: ... about the concerns that a lot of voters, who have never heard of Sarah Palin before yesterday, are asking. Compared to, say, Tom Ridge or Joe Lieberman, why is Governor Palin superior in dealing with national security and foreign policy?

MCCAIN: Look, those people you talk about, Joe, and Tom Ridge, and Mitt Romney, and Mike Huckabee, they're wonderful people. And I'm grateful for the opportunity that I've had to know them and work with them.

But look, what this brings is a spirit of reform and change that is vital now in our nation's capital. Eighty-four percent of the American people think the country is on the wrong track. In our party, we have corruption.

We have former members of Congress residing in federal prison. So it's not surprising to me that we've seen an incredible invigoration around our party and around the nation. Not just Republicans, but Democrats.

And by the way, in the last day-and-a-half, or whatever it has been, we have raised $4 million on the Internet. I wish I had have taken her a month ago.

[...]WALLACE: You have criticized Obama as being, quote, "dangerously unprepared to be president." In the sense of national security and foreign policy specifically, isn't Sarah Palin even more dangerously unprepared?

MCCAIN: Oh, no. Look, she has got the right judgment. She has got the right judgment. She doesn't think, like Senator Obama does, that Iran is a minor irritant. She knows that the surge worked and succeeded, and she supported that.

Senator Obama still, still to this day refuses to acknowledge that the surge has succeeded. She has been commander-in-chief of the Alaska Guard, that has served back and back (ph). In fact, as you know, she has got a son who is getting ready to go.

But she has had the judgment on these issues and — that Senator Obama has not had in the — he has had all the wrong judgments. And Governor Palin understands these issues, and she understands the challenges that we face.

So she has had 12 years of elected office experience, including traveling to Kuwait, including being involved in these issues. And look, I'm so proud that she has displayed the kind of judgment and she has the experience and judgment as an executive. She has run a huge economy up there in the state of Alaska. Twenty percent of our energy comes from the state of Alaska, and energy is obviously one of the key issues for our nation's security.

WALLACE: But, Senator, you talked about her years of experience. Ten of those years were as a city councilwoman and mayor of a town of 9,800 people. And in terms of foreign policy, in March of 2007, after, two months after the surge had started, she was asked about it, and she said: "I've been focused on state government. I haven't focused on the war in Iraq." Understandable for a governor; not understandable for a vice president.

MCCAIN: Well, by the way, also she was a member of the PTA. I think it's wonderful. But the point is she has been to Kuwait. She has been over there. She has been with her troops, the National Guard that she commands, who had been over there and had the experience. I'm proud of her knowledge of these challenges and issues.

And of course, as governor she has had enormous responsibilities, none of which Senator Obama had. He — when she was in government, he was a community organizer. When she was taking tough positions against her own party, Senator Obama was voting "present" 130 times in the state legislature, on every tough issue whatever it was, while she was taking them on. That's the kind of judgment that I'm confident that we need in Washington.

Transcript: TIME's interview with Sarah Palin

This interview was done on August 14th, almost 2 weeks before she was picked by McCain. Read the entire transcript.

TIME: What got you involved in politics.

Palin: I studied journalism in college and always had an interest in the newsroom, which was of course so often focused on politics and government. I studied sports reporting, and that's how I started off in journalism. But even earlier than that, my dad was an elementary school teacher, so often our dinner-table conversations were about current events and about those things that an elementary school teacher teaches students — much about government and much about our nation, and so I had ingrained in me an interest in our government, how things worked. And then from there I just became more interested in more practical steps that I could take... [I] started off running for city council when I was very young in the town [Wasilla] where I had grown up and was elected to two terms on the city council. And then I realized to be really able to make a difference — not just being one of six of a body but to make a difference — I would have to run for the top dog position, and so I ran for mayor and was elected mayor for two terms.

Then from there I was appointed an oil and gas commissioner in the state of Alaska, on the Alaska oil and gas conservation commission, had decided that there were changes, positive changes, that had to be ushered into our state government, decided to run for governor and did so, was successful, and here we are.

How old were you when you ran for city council??

I think was 27 or 28, and then was elected mayor when I was 32.

Did being younger and being a woman gives you a better perspective on politics and government than a more traditional politician?

What's more of a challenge for me over the years being in elected office has been more the age issue rather than a gender issue. I've totally ignored the issues that have potentially been affecting me when it comes to gender because I was raised in a family where, you know, gender wasn't going to be an issue. The girls did what the boys did. Apparently in Alaska that's quite commonplace. You're out there hunting and fishing. My parents were coaches, so I was involved in sports all my life. So I knew that as woman I could do whatever the men were doing. Also that's just part of Alaskan life.

But the age issue I think was more significant in my career than the gender issue. Your resume not being as fat as your opponent's in a race, perhaps [but] being able to capitalize on that... being able to to use that in campaigns — I don't have 30 years of political experience under my belt ... that's a good thing, that's a healthy thing. That means my perspective is fresher, more in touch with the people I will be serving. I would use that as an advantage. I've certainly never been part of a good old boy club. That I would use in a campaign. And that's been good.

Maria Bartiromo Interviews Sarah Palin: Transcript (8-25-08)

The interview was held days before Sarah Palin was picked by John McCain to be his running mate. Read the entire transcript.

Despite all the talk of unity at the Democratic Convention, there still seems to be real residual anger among Hillary Clinton supporters. How do you think the GOP can attract women disenchanted with the Democrats?

And they should be disenchanted because, you know, I'm looking at Barack [Obama] and looking at the choice he made, and I think: "Geez, he should have chosen Hillary." But I'm glad he didn't. For the sake of the Republican agenda, I'm glad that he didn't. I think that perhaps this is an opportunity for the Republican Party to manifest its [convention] plank that says we respect equality, and gender is not an issue in someone's ability and their capabilities and their opportunities in America.

Let the GOP be the party, then, that can embrace that and manifest that. But you know, Hillary ran an awesome campaign. She made women proud. She doesn't represent what I would like to see in the White House, but as a woman looking at a woman candidate, I was proud that Hillary shattered some ceilings.

Bartiromo: After eight years of a Republican in the White House, the economy is the top concern of voters across the country. Why should Americans trust the GOP to get this economy and the markets back on track?

Palin: Because capitalism still works. The free marketplace and competition still work. I believe, though, we need to get more of the special interests and the undue influence out of the policy making that perhaps we've seen in the past. I say that based on my own experience here in the state of Alaska, where the oil industry had some corrupting influence on our lawmakers. And a few of our lawmakers are serving federal prison time right now for being bought with oil service company dollars and bribes. And it's been a great learning ground for me here to see what can happen when that undue influence is allowed to set policy and affect votes. It's unacceptable, it's atrocious, and on a federal level, we got to get that out of there, too.

Gulf Coast Residents flee ahead of Powerful Gustav

How ironic that the hurricane is impacting the Republican convention. Bush has already said that he won't attend (McCain is probably happy about that news), along with other prominent Republicans. You won't hear much talk about offshore drilling from those who do attend the convention.

Hurricane Gustav charged across the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday as residents fled New Orleans and the National Guard prepared to patrol evacuated neighborhoods in a city still recovering three years after Katrina.

Gustav dropped from a Category 4 to a Category 3 storm overnight, but forecasters warned it could gain strength from the gulf's warm waters before making landfall as early as Monday.

Long before Mayor Ray Nagin's mandatory evacuation order took effect Sunday morning for the city's vulnerable West Bank, residents were already streaming out of New Orleans and other communities along the Gulf Coast. Bumper-to-bumper traffic was reported in nearly every direction out of New Orleans, and on Bourbon Street, where the party seemingly never ends, only stragglers toting luggage were sporadically seen on the sidewalks.

- For more information on Hurricane Gustav, or if you want to share info/comments on this disaster, visit The People's Platform site.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Barack Obama Invesco Field Acceptance Speech Transcript (8-28-08)

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama spoke to the Democratic National Convention on Thursday at Invesco Field in Denver, Colorado. Read the entire transcript (also at the NYTimes).

Four years ago, I stood before you and told you my story -- of the brief union between a young man from Kenya and a young woman from Kansas who weren't well off or well-known, but shared a belief that in America, their son could achieve whatever he put his mind to.

It is that promise that has always set this country apart -- that through hard work and sacrifice, each of us can pursue our individual dreams but still come together as one American family, to ensure that the next generation can pursue their dreams as well.

That's why I stand here tonight. Because for 232 years, at each moment when that promise was in jeopardy, ordinary men and women -- students and soldiers, farmers and teachers, nurses and janitors -- found the courage to keep it alive.

We meet at one of those defining moments -- a moment when our nation is at war, our economy is in turmoil, and the American promise has been threatened once more.

Tonight, more Americans are out of work and more are working harder for less. More of you have lost your homes and even more are watching your home values plummet. More of you have cars you can't afford to drive, credit card bills you can't afford to pay, and tuition that's beyond your reach.

These challenges are not all of government's making. But the failure to respond is a direct result of a broken politics in Washington and the failed policies of George W. Bush.

America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this.

Transcript: Al Gore Speech at Invesco Field (8-28-08)

"Former Vice President Al Gore spoke Thursday night at the Democratic National Convention events at Invesco Field in Denver, Colorado." Read the entire transcript.

Eight years ago, some said there was not much difference between the nominees of the two major parties and it didn't really matter who became president. Our nation was enjoying peace and prosperity, and some assumed we would continue both, no matter the outcome. But here we all are in 2008, and I doubt anyone would argue now that election didn't matter. Take it from me, if it had ended differently, we would not be bogged down in Iraq; we would have pursued bin Laden until we captured him.

We would not be facing a self-inflicted economic crisis; we would be fighting for middle income families.

We would not be showing contempt for the Constitution; we'd be protecting the rights of every American regardless of race, religion, disability, gender or sexual orientation.

And we would not be denying the climate crisis; we'd be solving it.

Today, we face essentially the same choice we faced in 2000, though it may be even more obvious now, because John McCain, a man who has earned our respect on many levels, is now openly endorsing the policies of the Bush-Cheney White House and promising to actually continue them, the same policies all over again.

Hey, I believe in recycling, but that's ridiculous.

With John McCain's support, President Bush and Vice President Cheney have led our nation into one calamity after another because of their indifference to fact; their readiness to sacrifice the long-term to the short-term, subordinate the general good to the benefit of the few and short-circuit the rule of law.

If you like the Bush/Cheney approach, John McCain's your man.

If you believe it's time for a change, then vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Joe Biden Democratic Convention Speech Transcript (8-27-08)

Read the entire transcript of the speech given by Barack Obama's vice presidential pick, Joe Biden:

  • Let me make this pledge to you right here and now. For every American who is trying to do the right thing, for all those people in government who are honoring the pledge to uphold the law and honor the Constitution, no longer will you hear the eight most-dreaded words in the English language, “The vice president’s office is on the phone.”

    Barack and I took very different journeys to this destination, but we share a common story. Mine began in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and then Wilmington, Delaware.

  • Ladies and gentlemen, but today, today that American dream feels like it’s slowly slipping away. I don’t have to tell you that. You feel it every single day in your own lives. I’ve never seen a time when Washington has watched so many people get knocked down without doing anything to help them get back up.

    Almost every single night — almost every single night, I take the train home to Wilmington, Delaware, sometimes very late. As I sit there in my seat and I look out that window, I see those flickering lights of the homes that pass by, I can almost hear the conversation they’re having at their kitchen tables after they put their kids to bed.

    Like millions of Americans, they’re asking questions as — as ordinary as they are profound, questions they never, ever thought they’d have to ask themselves.

    Should Mom move in with us now that — now that Dad’s gone? Fifty, sixty, seventy dollars just to fill up the gas tank, how in God’s name, with winter coming, how are we going to heat the home? Another year, no raise. Did you hear — did you hear they may be cutting our health care at the company?

  • And in the Senate, John sided with President Bush 95 percent of the time. Give me a break. When John McCain proposes $200 billion in new tax breaks for corporate America, $1 billion alone for just eight of the largest companies, but no relief for 100 million American families, that’s not change; that’s more of the same.

    Even today, as oil companies post the biggest profits in history — a half trillion dollars in the last five years — he wants to give them another $4 billion in tax breaks. But he voted time and again against incentives for renewable energy: solar, wind, biofuels. That’s not change; that’s more of the same.

    Millions of jobs have left our shores, yet John continues to support tax breaks for corporations that send them there. That’s not change; that’s more of the same.

    He voted 19 times against raising the minimum wage. For people who are struggling just to get to the next day, that’s not change; that’s more of the same.

    And when he says he will continue to spend $10 billion a month in Iraq when Iraq is sitting on a surplus of nearly $80 billion, that’s not change; that’s more of the same.

    The choice in this election is clear. These times require more than a good soldier; they require a wise leader, a leader who can deliver change the change everybody knows we need.

Transcript: Bill Clinton Democratic Convention Speech (8-27-08)

Read the entire transcript of Bill Clinton's speech at the Democratic convention being held in Denver:

  • And here’s what I have to say about that. Everything I learned in my eight years as president, and in the work I have done since in America and across the globe, has convinced me that Barack Obama is the man for this job.

    Now, he has a remarkable ability to inspire people, to raise our hopes and rally us to high purpose. He has the intelligence and curiosity every successful president needs. His policies on the economy, on taxes, on health care, on energy are far superior to the Republican alternatives.

  • And so, my fellow Democrats, I say to you: Barack Obama is ready to lead America and to restore American leadership in the world.

    Barack Obama is ready to honor the oath, to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

    Barack Obama is ready to be president of the United States.

  • American families by the millions are struggling with soaring health care costs and declining coverage.
    I will never forget the parents of children with autism and other serious conditions who told me on the campaign trail that they couldn’t afford health care and couldn’t qualify their children for Medicaid unless they quit work and starved or got a divorce.

    Are these the family values the Republicans are so proud of?

    What about the military families pushed to the breaking point by multiple, multiple deployments? What about the assault on science and the defense of torture? What about the war on unions and the unlimited favors for the well-connected?

    And what about Katrina and cronyism?

    My fellow Democrats, America can do better than that.

  • The choice is clear. The Republicans in a few days will nominate a good man who has served our country heroically and who suffered terribly in a Vietnamese prison camp. He loves his country every bit as much as we do. As a senator, he has shown his independence of right-wing orthodoxy on some very important issues.

    But on the two great questions of this election — how to rebuild the American dream and how to restore America’s leadership in the world — he still embraces the extreme philosophy that has defined his party for more than 25 years.

    And it is, to be fair to all the Americans who aren’t as hard- core Democrats as we, it’s a philosophy the American people never actually had a chance to see in action fully until 2001, when the Republicans finally gained control of both the White House and the Congress.

    Then we saw what would happen to America if the policies they had talked about for decades actually were implemented. And look what happened.

    They took us from record surpluses to an exploding debt; from over 22 million new jobs to just 5 million; from increasing working families’ incomes to nearly $7,500 a year to a decline of more than $2,000 a year; from almost 8 million Americans lifted out of poverty to more than 5.5 million driven into poverty; and millions more losing their health insurance.

    Now, in spite of all this evidence, their candidate is actually promising more of the same.

Could Bush Administration Arrogance Lead to War with Russia?

It isn't being discussed very much. We could be on the verge of military conflict with Russia. And there doesn't seem to be anyone suggesting that we should be trying to avoid confrontation with what was once the Soviet Union. Some have warned about a new "cold war." But the consensus is that we should force Russia to leave Georgia alone. What isn't discussed is that it is hypocritical to tell the Russians to stop invading a neighbor when our own government invaded Iraq similarly under false pretenses. You don't hear Putin demand that the U.S. military pull out of Baghdad. And what makes the Bush administration think that he could tell Russia how to behave when we don't have the military wherewithal to intimidate the Russians. We are bogged down fighting two wars already. War with Russia would be positively insane. The White House is contemplating sending military aid to the Georgian Republic. That is a recipe for disaster. Unfortunately Barack Obama isn't urging caution. What he should be saying is that the U.S. must attempt to put international pressure on Russia to leave but no demanding. He should also point out that Bush meddling in Eastern Europe has led to bitter feelings in Russia and precipitated the confrontation.

Transcript, Video: Hillary Clinton Convention Speech (8-26-08)

This is a very nifty presentation of the Hillary Clinton's speech last night from the NY Times. It shows the complete video of the speech with accompanying text.

Or read the transcript speech here. Excerpt below:

SEN. CLINTON: Thank you. (Cheers, applause.) Thank you all. (Cheers, applause.) Thank you. (Cheers, applause.) Thank you all very, very much. (Cheers, applause.) Thank you. Thank you all very much. (Cheers, applause.)

I -- I am so honored to be here tonight. (Cheers, applause.) No, I -- I'm here tonight as a proud mother, as a proud Democrat -- (cheers, applause) -- as a proud senator from New York -- (cheers, applause) -- a proud American -- (cheers, applause) -- and a proud supporter of Barack Obama. (Cheers, applause.)

My friends, it is time to take back the country we love. And whether you voted for me or you voted for Barack, the time is now to unite as a single party with a single purpose. (Cheers, applause.)

We are on the same team, and none of us can afford to sit on the sidelines. This is a fight for the future, and it's a fight we must win together. (Cheers, applause.)

I haven't spent the past 35 years in the trenches advocating for children, campaigning for universal health care -- (cheers) -- helping parents balance work and family, and fighting for women's rights here at home and around the world -- (cheers, applause) -- to see another Republican in the White House squander our promise of a country that really fulfills the hopes of our people. And you haven't worked so hard over the last 18 months or endured the last eight years to suffer through more failed leadership. (Cheers, applause.)

No way, nohow, no McCain. (Cheers, applause.)

Barack Obama is my candidate, and he must be our president. (Cheers, applause.)

Tonight I ask you to remember what a presidential election is really about. When the polls have closed and the ads are finally off the air -- (laughter) -- it comes down to you, the American people, and your lives and your children's futures. For me, it's been a privilege to meet you in your homes, your workplaces and your communities. You stories reminded me that every day America's greatness is bound up in the lives of the American people: your hard work, your devotion to duty, your love for your children, and your determination to keep going, often in the face of enormous obstacles. You've taught me so much -- (cheers, applause) -- and you made me laugh, and -- yes -- you even made me cry. (Cheers, applause.) You allowed me to become part of your lives, and you became part of mine.

I will always remember the single mom who had adopted two kids with autism. She didn't have any health insurance, and she discovered she had cancer. But she greeted me with her bald head painted with my name on it and asked me to fight for health care for her and her children. (Cheers, applause.)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

John McCain Endorsed by Daddy Yankee

Say what?! Never heard of Daddy Yankee? Well, McCain knows who he is (probably never heard of him the week before). And he thinks this will somehow make him more popular with hispanic voters. I guess.

For the past month, one strategy of the McCain campaign has been to paint Barack Obama as a “worldwide celebrity.” Someone who is as idolized as much as a rock star, but who is - using their tagline - “not ready to lead.” Pundits and pollsters seem to agree that this has been a successful strategy and has resulted in a leveling of poll numbers.

Despite this, however, McCain spent a lot of time with his own celebrities yesterday.
First it was Daddy Yankee, the reggaeton star, who endorsed the Senator at a Phoenix High School — which prompted a few of the less-contemporary readers of this blog to write things like “who the heck is Daddy Yankee?” There were plenty of readers who seemed to like the singer. One visitor had an amusing and somewhat quizzical analogy:

“Haha! Daddy Yankee is the Sausage Haus of popular music,” wrote Agamemnon.

McCain thought the endorsement so important that he put on his website.
John McCain: "And it's a great legacy and a great responsibility for me to follow in the footsteps of some of those great leaders, both Republican or Democrat. So I hope you'll be involved. But most importantly, I know why you are sitting here, and that is not to listen to me so much, but I brought a special friend along with me today, a great American success story. As you know, he's from Puerto Rico. He's been married for 15 years. He has children aged 14, 12 and 10. One of his most famous songs, I know you're very familiar with, Gasolina. Well, here he is, Daddy Yankee."


Daddy Yankee: "Good morning. Good morning. It is a very special honor to be here this beautiful morning with everybody right here. This is very special school. It is a big pleasure to be with you.


"It is a big pleasure that you guys invited me, and thanks to Senator McCain. And I am here endorsing Senator McCain because I believe in his ideals and his proposals to lead this nation. And like I said before, he has been a fighter for the Hispanic community, and I know that for me personally, I chose him as the best candidate because he has been a fighter for the immigration issue. So for me he is the best guy to lead this nation. And once again, I want to say thank you to everybody for the support it has given me in my entire career. This is a great honor sharing this beautiful morning with everybody. I am a man of few words but with a lot of action like I always said. Senator McCain, pleasure."

Immigration won't be top Issue for either Obama or McCain

One of several important issues ignored by both parties. It's important to the American people but not to the politicians. They don't care if America is being invaded. And they are failing to secure our borders as they promised after 9-11.

Mindful of Hispanics' growing clout, Barack Obama has vowed to push for comprehensive immigration reform as president.

But energy, the economy and Iraq get top billing at the Democratic National Convention. Immigration won't get prime-time airplay – and that's fine with many advocates.

"There's going to be a lot of meat cleavers that McCain can use on Obama," said Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., who represents 300 miles of border. "He can drag that bloody rag of immigration around if he wants to. But we're not going to hand him the rag."

Just as Sen. John McCain placated the GOP's right wing by promising to control the border before pushing a guest worker program he has long supported, Mr. Obama would alienate swing voters by coming off as too enthusiastic about amnesty for undocumented workers.

So both prefer not to see immigration become a major campaign issue, said Tamar Jacoby, president of ImmigrationWorks USA, a business group that promotes comprehensive reform, which includes border security and a path to citizenship.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Transcript: Robert Gibbs on 'FOX News Sunday' (8-24-08)

Obama's top advisor appeared on FOX News Sunday:

WALLACE: I want to show you a recent poll, and it found that on the question, "Who offers hope for the future," Obama beats McCain 54 percent to 19 percent. But on the question, "Who would be a better commander in chief," McCain beats Obama 53 percent to 25 percent.

In that sense, was part of the calculation voters have a concern about Obama's experience, about the — the amount of time he has, and is he ready to be commander in chief, and Joe Biden helps you in that area?

GIBBS: Well, look. I think — I think Senator Biden, again, has unparalleled foreign policy experience. And I think if you look at not just what was said yesterday by Democrats about this pick, but look what was said by Republicans.

Senator Dick Lugar of Indiana, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Chuck Hagel, an unparalleled expert on defense policy, Senator Arlen Specter, another Republican, this time from Pennsylvania all spoke very highly of the choice of Joe Biden.

Look, I think what you have together is two people that have the judgment to lead this country, the judgment and the experience. And I think it will make a big difference in the fall. We're very happy with our pick. We think — again, unparalleled foreign policy experience.

WALLACE: But what about change? Joe Biden has actually been in the halls of Congress 10 years longer than John McCain has. So this whole message about change, we're going to shake up the way things are done in Washington — doesn't that go out the window?

GIBBS: No, because again, as I said to you earlier, Joe Biden works in Washington but he doesn't live there. He goes — every night, he goes home on an Amtrak train, where he knows the names of the conductors, to his wife and family in Delaware.

I think he's somebody who never has forgotten where he's from. He was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He's never forgot that middle- class background. You know, he's — and, Chris, he knows how many houses he owns. So I think he's a down-to-earth kind of guy.

I think he — again, I think you've got a ticket that says a lot about change in this country because both of these candidates understand, and they've understood for a long time, we can't have four more years of the same George Bush, John McCain policies that have led this country into the direction that we're in now.

NYC Stab Victim's Cries Ignored for Half Hour

This is latest example of a society that has become indifferent. It is the latest case of shocking violence in New York in where neighbors did nothing to help. This poor lady was also failed by a criminal justice system that won't protect women from violent ex-lovers. When will we learn. When will we be outraged.

New York City investigators are wondering why neighbors waited more than a half hour to calling police after hearing the screams for help from a woman who was stabbed to death at a Queens apartment.

Police found Ebony Garcia, 21, lying in a pool of blood at about 2:10 a.m Saturday. She was stabbed about a dozen times and died two hours later at a local hospital.

Witnesses say neighbors ignored the woman's screams for more than 30 minutes before someone called the police. One neighbor said she ignored the cries because she thought the victim had been drinking.

The Clintons are Still Trying to Undermine Obama (8-25-08)

Now the excuse is that the Obama campaign did not "consult" Hillary when making his VP pick. It's been clear for some time that the Clintons are out to get the Illinois Senator defeated. Barack Obama should stop kissing Hillary's ring. The more he gives in to her the more she tries to undermine him. He should be firm without alienating her voters. But he shouldn't grovel before her. The press keeps talking about Hillary's angry voters. She has no voters. She lost. The voters should fall in line. The problem is a press that keeps perpetuating the "controversy." What should be Obama's argument? Her "voters" have a choice: Obama or McCain. Stop your whining and get to work to defeat the 2nd George W. Bush. The Obama campaign was smart not to give into selecting Hillary as their pick. That would've been a nightmare.

As Democrats arrived here Sunday for a convention intended to promote party unity, mistrust and resentments continued to boil among top associates of presumptive nominee Barack Obama and his defeated rival, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

One flashpoint is the assigned speech topic for former president Bill Clinton, who is scheduled to speak Wednesday night, when the convention theme is “Securing America’s Future.” The night’s speakers will argue that Obama would be a more effective commander in chief than his Republican rival, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.).

The former president is disappointed, associates said, because he is eager to speak about the economy and more broadly about Democratic ideas — emphasizing the contrast between the Bush years and his own record in the 1990s.

This is an especially sore point for Bill Clinton, people close to him say, because among many grievances he has about the campaign Obama waged against his wife is a belief that the candidate poor-mouthed the political and policy successes of his two terms.

Some senior Democrats close to Obama, meanwhile, made clear in not-for-attribution comments that they were equally irked at the Clinton operation. Nearly three months after Hillary Clinton conceded defeat in the nomination contest, these Obama partisans complained, her team continues to act like she and Bill Clinton hold leverage.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Pentagon Considers Independent Operations in Pakistan: Report

This would make more enemies in Pakistan and do little to stop al Qaeda and the Taliban. It would undermine the burgeoning democracy in Pakistan. It is an act of desperation.

Senior Pentagon officials are debating whether the US military should undertake independent operations against Islamic militants operating in Pakistan's northwestern tribal areas, The Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

The newspaper said these internal equipment debates followed US intelligence warnings that Al-Qaeda and other militant groups are consolidating their hold on northwestern Pakistan.

The report came as Pakistani soldiers killed up to 35 militants in a massive offensive in northwest Pakistan, and at least six people were killed in separate bomb attacks, according to Pakistani military and police officials.

Troops are battling Taliban militants in the Swat valley in North West Frontier Province where the violence has left dozens of dead and wounded.

But there is a growing belief within the US government that the new leadership in Islamabad has proved to be ineffectual in the fight against the militants.

"Radical terrorist groups in the border regions have undermined and fought against the central government of Pakistan and carved out sanctuaries and training bases," an unnamed senior US officer in Afghanistan is quoted by The Times as saying. "They have come back, and they are presenting a significant challenge."

A team of as many as 30 trainers was supposed be sent to Pakistan this summer to operate out of a base near the northwestern city of Peshawar.

But Pentagon officials said the training has been blocked by the Pakistani government for months, in part because of anger over the June killing of 11 Frontier Corps members in a US airstrike near the Afghan border.

But then again this administration could care less about undermining a democracy.
The husband of assassinated leader Benazir Bhutto has agreed to run for the Pakistani presidency.

The announcement was made Saturday at Asif Ali Zardari's home.

An election by lawmakers to replace Pervez Musharraf will be held on Sept. 6. The former strongman resigned less than a week ago rather than face the humiliation of impeachment.

Mian Raza Rabbani of the Pakistan People's Party said he was "happy to announce that Zardari had accepted his party's nomination" to run for president.

But his election is far from certain.

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the junior partner in the ruling coalition, has demanded that the People's Party slash the powers of the president before he'll support their candidate.

Clinton Praises Biden Pick

Even Hillary has to admit that Obama made a good choice in selecting Biden. Hillary during the primaries kept arguing that she was more experienced than Obama. Biden is much more experienced (and respected) than Ms.Clinton. He is also more knowledgeable on foreign affairs than even McCain.

Shortly after Hillary Clinton conceded her hard-fought race to Barack Obama in June, she — and her husband, former President Clinton — seemed to covet the vice presidency for her as a consolation prize. Many of her supporters publicly campaigned for it.

But when overnight news reports made clear she didn’t get it, she issued a gracious statement Saturday morning praising the choice.

“In naming my colleague and friend Senator Joe Biden to be the Vice Presidential nominee, Senator Obama has continued in the best traditions for the Vice Presidency by selecting an exceptionally strong, experienced leader and devoted public servant,” the statement said. “Senator Biden will be a purposeful and dynamic Vice President who will help Senator Obama both win the Presidency and govern this great country.”

What remains to be seen is how her supporters will respond, at the Democratic convention in Denver opening Monday, and beyond.

Sen. Biden is slated to speak Wednesday night. He’ll follow Bill Clinton

Biden has also not used his office to lined his pockets like hillary has.
Barack Obama named Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware as his vice presidential running mate early Saturday, balancing his ticket with a seasoned congressional veteran well-versed in foreign policy and defense issues.

Obama announced the pick on his Web site with a photo of the two men and an appeal for donations. A text message went out shortly afterward that said, "Barack has chosen Senator Joe Biden to be our VP nominee."

Biden, 65, has twice sought the White House, and is a Catholic with blue-collar roots, a generally liberal voting record and a reputation as a long-winded orator.

Across more than 30 years in the Senate, he has served at various times not only as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee but also as head of the Judiciary Committee, with its jurisdiction over anti-crime legislation, Supreme Court nominees and Constitutional issues.

In selecting Biden, Obama passed over several other potential running mates, none more prominent than former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, his tenacious rival in dozens of primaries and caucuses. Clinton issued a statement Saturday praising Obama's decision and calling Biden "an exceptionally strong, experienced leader and devoted public servant."

Obama's campaign arranged a debut for the newly minted ticket on Saturday outside the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Ill.

Obama's decision leaked to the media several hours before his aides planned to send a text message announcing the running mate, negating a promise that people who turned over their phone numbers would be the first to know who Obama had chosen. The campaign scrambled to send the text message after the leak, sending phones buzzing at the inconvenient time of just after 3 a.m. on the East Coast.

Hundreds of miles to the west, carpenters, electricians, sound stage gurus and others transformed the Pepsi Center in Denver into a made-for-television convention venue.

Tucked away in one corner were thousands of lightweight rolled cardboard tubes, ready-made handles for signs bearing the names of the Democratic ticket -- once the identity of Obama's running mate was known.

While Obama decided against adding Clinton to his ticket, he has gone to great lengths to gain the confidence of her primary voters, agreeing to allow her name to be placed in nomination at the convention and permitting a roll call vote that threatens to expose lingering divisions within the party.

Biden slowly emerged as Obama's choice across a long day and night of political suspense as other contenders gradually fell away.

First Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine let it be known that he had been ruled out. Then came word that Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana had also been passed over.

Several aides to Clinton said the Obama campaign had never requested financial or other records from her.

Other finalists in the veep sweepstakes were Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and Texas Rep. Chet Edwards.

Among those on the short list, Biden brought the most experience in defense or foreign policy -- areas in which Obama fares relatively poorly in the polls compared with Republican Sen. John McCain.

While the war in Iraq has been supplanted as the campaign's top issues by the economy in recent months, the recent Russian invasion of Georgia has returned foreign policy to the forefront.

In addition to foreign policy experience, Biden, a native of Scranton, Pa., has working-class roots that could benefit Obama, who lost the blue-collar vote to Clinton during their competition for the presidential nomination.

Biden was elected to the Senate at the age of 29 in 1972, but personal tragedy struck before he could take office. His wife and their 13-month-old daughter, Naomi, were killed when a tractor-trailer broad-sided her station wagon.

Biden took his oath of office for his first term at the hospital bedside of one of his sons.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Obama will Pick Richard Lugar as VP Running Mate

Was the Richard Lugar selection leaked? This from Huffington:

Hey, kids! Late yesterday evening, Mark Halperin, who writes "The Page" for Time Magazine - which is like a comic book, full of listicles for children - had up on "The Page" a post that, in his Halperin-y way, suggested or spitballed that Obama had chosen his Veep, and that Veep was Dick Lugar. It was titled "Hoosier Values" and read:
What is Barack Obama looking for in a running mate?

Obama tells TIME he wants someone who is "not about ego, self-aggrandizement, getting their name in the press" and tells CBS News he wants someone he would "feel comfortable with."

Obama at Saddleback: "There are people like ... Dick Lugar, a Republican, who I'd listen to on foreign policy."

On CNN this past Sunday: BLITZER: "Do you agree with Senator Lieberman that Senator Obama has not put the country first?"

LUGAR: "No. I think that was clearly a partisan statement at a rally. I respect everybody their opinions in a political campaign, but that's all that was."

To see what the future could look like, click here. [The link led to a photo of Lugar and Obama.]

We know it won't be Bayh or Kaine. The press got it wrong.
Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh and Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine have been told by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's campaign they will not be his vice presidential choice, NBC News reported on Friday quoting sources.

Speculation about Obama's choice has centered on Bayh, Kaine and Delaware Sen. Joseph Biden. Other names in the mix include Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Texas Rep. Chet Edwards.

Lugar fits the description.
Have you heard Barack Obama list the qualifications for his vice president?

Obama told Time magazine this week and then CBS’s “Early Show” this morning that he is looking for someone to "complement" his strengths, who is "ready to be president," who can help him govern and help guide the nation "through some dangerous waters internationally."

Obama also stressed he is looking for independence. "I want somebody who is going to be able to challenge my thinking and not simply be a 'yes person' when it comes to policymaking," he said.

Oh, and there was also that comment about the person not having a big ego, and not being someone who is trying to get in the newspaper or draw attention to themselves. Which brings me to my latest wild card: Richard Lugar, the very Republican senior senator from the red state of Indiana.

He's even appeared in Obama ads.
In the latest issue of National Journal, Kirk Victor notes how Obama has been able to use GOP Sen. Dick Lugar (R) in his ads. “Turn on a television in a battleground state and chances are that you’ll see an ad featuring … Obama talking about his work with … Lugar to stop the spread of nuclear weapons… Lugar has endorsed Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, but he does not object to being mentioned in the Obama ad, which is airing in 18 states, including Lugar’s own Indiana. ‘I’ve made no attempt to either suggest or censor ads run by Democratic candidates,’ Lugar said at a press conference on U.S.-Pakistan relations on July 15. ‘I’ll simply say that the ad is accurate.’”

More: “That a Republican lawmaker would appear in a Democratic presidential ad is unusual, observed Darrell West of the Brookings Institution. ‘Just being in an ad, even if you have not endorsed the individual, conveys a sense of bipartisanship. So it does indirectly aid Obama, whether Lugar intended that or not,’ he noted.”

Even Rolling Stone agrees Richard Lugar makes sense.
If I was going to bet on an out-of-the Bayh/Biden box pick, I’d vote Dick Lugar, the other, Republican, Senator from Indiana.

Of course, Obama always brings up their bi-partisan efforts to track down loose nukes, so the pick would weave perfectly into the Obama narrative.

They’re clearly friends and that might be enough to get Lugar to turn on his party.

And he’s everything Obama could ask for in terms of balance — the anti-celebrity with off-the-charts national security cred, an open minded Republican white guy with middle-America written all over him.

His anti-abortion politics would be a hard swallow for the NARAL crowd, but the guy’s not a firebreather on social issues.

Why Lugar?
Jay Carney writes that "if Obama wanted to make a truly big statement before the convention, he might want to risk alienating Democrats by picking a Republican running mate" like Richard Lugar or Chuck Hagel. Is there a "better way to double down" on a message of transcending political divisions "than by choosing a member of the other to be his running mate?" [Swampland/Time]

How convenient that he will be visiting Georgia.
Sen. Richard Lugar is heading to Europe and Asia for a two-week, nine-nation trip focusing on energy security.

The trip includes a stop in Georgia.

Obama and Lugar have already worked together on legislation.
Sen. Barack Obama claims in a new campaign ad to have “reached out” to Republicans in Congress to launch a major new program to “lock down loose nuclear weapons,” when in fact the legislation he helped pass authorized the Bush administration to maintain and expand an initiative pioneered by John Bolton to help foreign countries stop shipments of weapons of mass destruction components from reaching rogue states such as Iran.

In the campaign ad, titled “America’s Leadership,” the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee says, “The single most important national security threat we face is the threat of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists. What I did was reach out to Senator Dick Lugar, Republican, to help lock down loose nuclear weapons.”

Lugar was quick to praise Obama when the freshman from Illinois joined him in an August 2005 fact-finding mission to Ukraine and Azerbaijan, where they toured former Soviet nuclear weapons sites.

“I was particularly pleased that Barack chose Nunn-Lugar [law for threat reduction sponsored by Sam Nunn and Lugar] as the subject of his first foreign travel as a senator,” Lugar told the Council on Foreign Relations shortly after that trip.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Proof Chinese were Cheating at Olympic Gymnastics

The questions is whether the Olympic powers that be will take action. Don't count on it.

A determined U.S. computer expert has delved into cached pages on the Internet to unearth Chinese official documents showing a gymnast who took gold in the uneven bars competition, edging the U.S.'s Nastia Liukin, may indeed be underage.

Controversy over whether He Kexin is under the minimum age of 16 has surrounded her participation in the Beijing Olympics. The latest challenge over the age of the tiny Olympian comes from the discovery through a cyberspace maze of Chinese official documents listing her date of birth.

She may not look as if she has reached the minimum competing age of 16, but China said her passport, issued in February, gives her birthday as Jan. 1, 1992. The International Olympic Committee said proof from her passport is good enough.

The latest unofficial investigation was carried out by computer security expert for the Intrepidus Group, whose site, Stryde Hax, revealed a detailed forensic search for He’s age.

Related Post:
- Chinese Cheating in Olympics: Lying About Gymnast Age

I was wrong the International Olympics Committee will be investigating the scandal.

Bush Agrees to a Timetable for U.S. Troops to Leave Iraq

Why isn't this a major story? The Bushies are doing that which they accuse the Democrats of - Defeatism. This is a complete flip by the White House. And the press is letting them get away with it. You would think the Obama campaign would also point out the glaring hypocrisy.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says the United States and Iraq have agreed to a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the battle-scarred country.

Appearing with her Iraqi counterpart, Hoshyar Zebari (HOH'-shayr zuh-BAH'-ree), Rice acknowledged at their joint news conference Thursday that the two parties have not yet finalized the deal. She said it close at hand, however.

Rice called her talks with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki "very good and fruitful" and said an agreement is near that would "solidify the significant gains" in security in Iraq over the last year.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice pressed Iraqi leaders Thursday to agree quickly to a U.S.-Iraq security deal that outlines the withdrawal of American troops, including a pull-out from cities by next June 30.

Flying into Baghdad on an unannounced trip, Rice said the two sides were nearing an agreement after months of painstaking negotiations but stressed there were still unresolved issues, including when U.S. soldiers will leave and what their operations will consist of until then.

"The negotiators have taken this very, very far," she told reporters aboard her plane. "But there is no reason to believe that there is an agreement yet."

"There are still issues concerning exactly how our forces operate," Rice said, adding that "the agreement rests on aspirational timelines."

Huh? Can someone explain to me the contradiction? Bush negotiates a timetable but then blasts Obama for supporting a timetable.
President Bush fired his most direct shot yet at Democratic nominee Barack Obama yesterday, warning against political promises to set timetables for withdrawal from Iraq.

"The commander in chief must always listen to the commanders, and not the latest opinion polls," Bush told a gathering of the annual convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Orlando, Fla.

Although Bush did not mention Obama by name, his comments were widely interpreted as his most pointed criticism in a campaign during which he's remained largely on the sidelines.

Could someone please ask McCain whether he thinks Bush is unAmerican for negotiating a timetable with the Iraqis:
Republican presidential candidate John McCain told voters on Wednesday he is not challenging Barack Obama's patriotism in criticizing his call to pull out of Iraq, only the judgment of his Democratic rival.

"He's making these decisions not because he doesn't love America, but because he doesn't think it matters whether America wins or loses," McCain said.

[...]Obama proposes to withdraw U.S. combat forces from Iraq within 16 months; McCain opposes any timetable for withdraw. Meanwhile, Iraqi leaders have been pressing the U.S. for a timetable.

McCain Unsure How Many Houses he Owns

This sounds suspicious. Do we want a president who has no sense of his finances? McCain's wife's business dealings have already been under legal scrutiny. Or is he trying to portray himself as not being part of the economic elite in this country? He would like you to believe that he is like you and suffers your financial hardships. Instead McCain keeps sounding out of touch.

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 us in Las Cruces, N.M. "It's condominiums where - I'll have them get to you."

The correct answer is at least four, located in Arizona, California and Virginia, according to his staff. Newsweek estimated this summer that the couple owns at least seven properties.

In recent weeks, Democrats have stepped up their effort to caricature McCain as living an outlandishly rich lifestyle – a bit of payback to the GOP for portraying Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) as an elitist, and for turning the spotlight in 2004 on the five homes owned by Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry.

Then there is McCain's illegal compaign finances.
Letter Contends FEC Consideration of McCain Withdrawal From Primary Funds Program Without an Investigation into DNC Complaint is Illegal
The following release was issued today by the Democratic National Committee:
With the Federal Election Commission scheduled to address John McCain's decision to unilaterally withdraw from the federal matching funds program on Thursday, the Democratic National Committee today called on the Commission to remove that item from its agenda and instead proceed with a full investigation of the charges made against McCain in the administrative complaint filed by the DNC in February. In a conference call with reporters this morning, DNC General Counsel Joe Sandler discussed a letter he sent to the FEC last night that argued that the Commission should not consider McCain's decision to withdraw from the matching funds program because there is no request for permission pending and the Commission hasn't yet conducted an investigation as required by the law.

McCain is very comfortable with the wealthy and big business, especially if they are lobbyists.
John McCain broadcasts his affection for Theodore Roosevelt, but his opposition to regulating the local telephone industry suggests that he may not share the former president's passion for busting huge corporate trusts.

Unlike Roosevelt, who railed against "malefactors of great wealth," McCain's positions frequently have echoed those of the giant regional Bell phone companies, now consolidated as AT&T, Verizon and Quest, the big survivors of the telecommunications wars of the last quarter-century.

McCain's opposition to the 1996 Telecommunications Competition and Deregulation Act, intended to spur competition by pressuring the Bells to lease their lines and switches to competitors cheaply, offers a window into how he might view regulation of other markets as president.

The Arizona senator characterizes his unsuccessful stand against the measure, and his later attempts to thwart its implementation, as in keeping with his commitment to free markets and his maverick positions on behalf of American consumers. He was the only Republican senator to vote against the legislation.

Critics charge, however, that McCain backed an approach to telecommunications that's limited competition and kept prices high. They note that executives of the big three telecommunications giants and their lobbyists have raised and donated millions of dollars for his political committees.

After Decades, Iran Buys U.S. Wheat

Isn't this a basis for negotiating with the Iranians? If Obama is smart he will bring up this story to put McCain on the defensive.

Iran this summer resumed buying U.S. wheat after a 27-year hiatus, a sign of the limited options for importers seeking large quantities of high-quality grain.

Since the 2008-09 marketing year began on June 1, Iran has bought more than one million tons of hard red winter wheat directly from the U.S., which is "a very large amount," said Bill Nelson, analyst for Wachovia Securities. The purchases mean at least 3% to 4% of domestic wheat exports for the marketing year will go to a country the U.S. hasn't done business with for more than a generation. Government sanctions don't prohibit U.S. agricultural exporters from doing business with Iran.

Drought is expected to slash Iran's domestic production by one-third this year. Iran is forecast to produce 10 million tons of wheat this year, down from 15 million tons in 2007-08, and to import 4.5 million tons, up from 200,000 tons last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

NY Times: "Afghanistan on Fire"

Could somebody please ask McCain what he would do to save Afghanistan from falling to the Taliban, again.

The news out of Afghanistan is truly alarming. This week, Taliban forces staged two of their most complex and audacious attacks of the war. Nearly 100 insurgents killed 10 French paratroopers in an attack near Kabul. At least 10 suicide bombers mounted a coordinated assault on one of America’s largest military bases, wounding three American and six Afghan soldiers. An earlier attack at the base killed 12 Afghan workers.

The number of United States and NATO casualties is mounting so quickly, that unless something happens soon this could be the deadliest year of the Afghan war. Kabul, the seat of Afghanistan’s pro-Western government, is increasingly besieged. And Taliban and foreign Qaeda fighters are consolidating control over an expanding swath of territory sprawling across both sides of the porous Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

Let us be clear about why this is so dangerous. The more territory the Taliban controls, the more money it can raise from narcotics and black-market activities to mount an even fiercer challenge against the foundering civilian governments in Kabul and Islamabad. And the more territory the Taliban controls, the more freedom Al Qaeda will have to mount new terrorist operations against this country and others.

There is no more time to waste. Unless the United States, NATO and its central Asian allies move quickly, they could lose this war. The following steps need to be taken in the coming weeks.

Senator Biden Writing his VP Acceptance Speech

This only means that Biden will not be the nominee. Why would they allow this story to become public. It should be a highly kept secret. Biden has also said publicly that he didn't think that he would be the pick. This seems like a strange about face. Obama has probably already informed Biden that he wouldn't be his choice.

In an indication that he expects to be Barack Obama's vice-presidential pick, Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del) has begun writing a 50,000-word acceptance speech, aides to the senator confirmed today.

The address, which Mr. Biden has been working on around the clock, is an abridged version of a 200,000-word acceptance speech that Mr. Biden wrote when he ran for President in 1988.

According to those familiar with the speech, if Mr. Biden is tapped as Mr. Obama's vice presidential choice the Delaware senator would begin delivering the speech on Wednesday night of the Democratic convention and conclude it on Thursday night.

Representatives of television news divisions said they were undecided as to how to cover the Biden speech, but none were willing to commit to covering the speech live in its entirety.

John McCain VP Pick: Neocon Joe Lieberman?

It would be a stupid Vice Presidential choice. Senator Lieberman brings nothing to the McCain campaign. But like Bush, McCain puts personal friendship above logical political decision making. And the Conservatives are not having it. This from Hotair:

Lieberman’s endorsement did not win John McCain the primary, either. His friendship with McCain probably hurt him among Republicans as much as it helped among independents voting in GOP primaries. It certainly lent some heft to the RINO charge, especially since Lieberman’s liberal record is very plain to see. By the time the official endorsement came on February 3rd, McCain had already won more primaries than his rivals (New Hampshire, South Carolina) and held a slim lead in delegates over Mitt Romney.

The addition of Joe Lieberman will not convince independents that McCain is a maverick; it will convince an already-skeptical GOP base that McCain is a RINO. Patrick knows better than most how essential enthusiasm is to the GOTV efforts and fundraising. McCain appears to have finally generated some of that enthusiasm, and picking Lieberman would snuff it out for good. Republicans respect Lieberman, but they don’t want a liberal Democrat as the person who would succeed to the Presidency if something happened to McCain — which is the entire point of the Vice Presidency.

Lieberman may not be the worst choice, but he’s close to it. If McCain wants a Democrat, let him pick John Breaux, whose positions really do reflect conservative values. Otherwise, the Republican Party has plenty of options for a Republican ticket.

Lieberman is McCain's political guru. Remember the whispering into the ear when the Republican nominee couldn't answer a simple question on the war in Iraq? This is why all the talk about a pro-choice pick:
The McCain campaign is not shooting down reports to Washington Whispers that senior aides are polling top donors, delegates, and even radio talk show hosts for their reaction to a pro-choice running mate. "We are in constant contact with our donors and supporters and it wouldn't be at all surprising if people were soliciting their thoughts about any aspect of the campaign," said a McCainiac on background. Our sources suggest that the questions were a way to float the possibility that former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge was in the running for the No. 2 slot, though Republican Party officials said later that Ridge was not on the veep list. Others believe that the pro-choice question is an indication that McCain is seriously considering independent Sen. Joe Lieberman, a close friend and former Democratic vice presidential candidate.

Or talk about choosing Lieberman could be a clever tactic. It could be Romney, the most talked about candidate:
HALPERIN: I don't think he will in the end. In fact I think a lot of this may well be, some of my sources say, just a feint in order to set up the pick of someone like a Mitt Romney who is pro-life but has not had a long history of being pro-life, and that this focus on perhaps Joe Lieberman, perhaps someone else who's pro-choice is a way to make people who are pro-life happy with the eventual choice and to send a message that he's considering people from all parts of the party.

The problem with Lieberman is he is not a Republican:
GOP strategist adds that a Lieberman pick would require the waiving of a RNC rule that currently says VP nominee must be a registered Republican for at least 60 days.

This from the NY Times:
  • But other conservatives said that Mr. McCain, who has long been in step with the Republican Party platform in opposing abortion, was unlikely to be the first Republican presidential nominee in decades to select such a candidate. They said that Mr. McCain’s recent public flirtation with Tom Ridge, a former Pennsylvania governor who supports abortion rights, was as much to give the appearance that Mr. McCain had an open mind on the issue as it was an embrace of Mr. Ridge.
  • The campaign has refused to comment on who is under consideration, but current conjecture has settled largely on three possibilities: Mr. Ridge, former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota. Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut and a McCain ally, is also said to be under consideration.
  • Some Republicans said that Mr. McCain could still choose Mr. Ridge and get around the problem with social conservatives by assuring them that the vice-presidential candidate would support the position of the presidential candidate and the party, no matter his personal views.

    Such a formulation would be unlikely to satisfy Rush Limbaugh, the conservative radio talk show host and longtime McCain nemesis, who on Tuesday sounded a siren for his listeners. “If he picks a pro-choice running mate, it’s not going to be pretty,” Mr. Limbaugh warned, adding that Mr. McCain would have “effectively destroyed the Republican Party and pushed the conservative movement into the bleachers.”

    Republicans said Mr. Romney remained a contender, although the two were bitter rivals in the primary campaign and do not have strong chemistry. In addition, Mr. Romney, a Mormon, could be a difficult sell to Christian conservatives. A person associated with Mr. Romney said Tuesday that he had detected no strong interest from the McCain campaign in recent weeks.

    Republicans said Mr. Pawlenty, an evangelical Christian, was also a strong possibility. His main drawback is that he has little name recognition outside of Minnesota.

It seems more like that Lieberman will become McCain's Secretary of State:
McCain men Joe Lieberman (a rumored veep choice) and Lindsey Graham are leaving today for a two-day tour of Poland, the Ukraine and Georgia, where they will meet with President Mikhail Saakashvili. The Senate Armed Services Committee Codel comes in the wake of (rumored veep choice) Joe Biden's ballyhooed trip last weekend. It was in the works for a week -- probably before Biden's excursion was announced, a Graham staffer said.

The schedule includes stops in Kiev, Warsaw, Tblisi and a bank of microphones.

The purpose of the trip, says Lieberman, is to discuss the Russian invasion with local leaders and assess its impact on NATO and future U.S.-Russia relations. They return late Thursday.

Will McCain listen to Rush? McCain's arrogance could lead him to resist the pressure from Conservatives and pick his own man. And that person is Lieberman:
Referencing reports McCain advisors are seriously considering both former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge and former Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman — both of whom favor abortion rights — Limbaugh said picking either of those men would ensure a GOP defeat, and damage the party’s brand for years to come.

"How about some discussion from the McCain campaign about a conservative who can be counted on across the board, who can help lead the country in the right direction?" said Limbaugh. "Who can help rebuild the Republican Party? Lieberman can’t do that — and rebuild the conservative movement? McCain nor Lieberman nor Ridge can do that.”

The comments come amid reports senior advisors to McCain are floating both Lieberman and Ridge's names among key social conservatives in an effort to measure the blowback the Arizona senator will face if he names either man to the ticket. One party insider tells CNN that McCain campaign manager Rick Davis has called several state party chairs and indicated Ridge will be the Republican vice presidential pick this cycle.

Limbaugh said Tuesday that the drawbacks of choosing either man far out-weighed any potential benefits.

"McCain has already seen to it that he can walk across the aisle that he’s the top of the ticket," Limbaugh said. "If anybody is going to attract moderates, it’s going to be the top of the ticket guy. He’s not going to help himself any additional way, he’s going to hurt himself by putting a liberal or a liberal Republican on this ticket, particularly pro-choice.”

- Lieberman will be speaking at the Republican Convention. But in what capacity? And we don't know what night he will be speaking, which would tell us if he were the vp pick.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

More U.S. Women Having Fewer Kids, If Any

This news is dangerous for the future of our country.

More American women in their early 40s are childless, and those who are having children are having fewer than ever before, the Census Bureau said Monday.

In the last 30 years, the number of women age 40 to 44 with no children has doubled, from 10 percent to 20 percent. And those who are mothers have an average of 1.9 children each, more than one child fewer than women of the same age in 1976.

The report, Fertility of American Women: 2006, is the first from the Census Bureau to use data from an annual survey of 76 million women, ages 15 to 50, allowing a state-by-state comparison of fertility patterns.

About 4.2 million women participating in the survey (which was conducted from January through December 2006) had had a child in the previous year.

The statistics could be used by state agencies to provide maternal care services, the report said.

The survey found that in 2006 women with graduate or professional degrees recorded the most births of all educational levels. About 36 percent of women who gave birth in the previous 12 months were separated, divorced, widowed or unmarried.

Afghanistan Clash Kills 10 French Soldiers

It's no wonder McCain doesn't mention Afghanistan. We are losing in that country because we are bogged down in Iraq. It is also the reason why the Russians are taunting us.

The French government said Tuesday 10 of its soldiers died in fighting near Kabul, while U.S. and Afghan forces killed several insurgents in other clashes.

The French defense ministry said its soldiers, part of the 1,670-strong French contingent with NATO forces in Afghanistan, had been engaged in fighting Taliban militants since Monday, CNN reported.

Other reports said the fighting had been heavy but further details were not immediately available.

Elsewhere Tuesday, the CNN report said several suicide bombers and militants tried to attack the Forward Operating Base Salerno, a U.S. base north of Khost in eastern Afghanistan, but were beaten back.

Khost is about 12 miles from the border with Pakistan. The report said seven insurgents, including three suicide bombers, were killed.

A spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said the approaching militants had been observed by U.S. and Afghan troops at the base.

A Taliban spokesman claimed 15 suicide bombers inflicted heavy casualties at the base, which was dismissed both by ISAF and local officials, the report said.

The latest incident follows a suicide car bombing Monday outside the base in which 10 Afghan civilians died.

F.B.I. Details Anthrax Case, but Doubts Remain

The FBI will never succeed in putting this matter to rest. They have convicted the wrong man and have destroyed any hope that we will find those truly responsible.

Federal Bureau of Investigation officials on Monday laid out their most detailed scientific case to date against Bruce E. Ivins, the military scientist accused of being the anthrax killer, but they acknowledged that the many mysteries of the case meant an air of uncertainty would always surround it.

[...]Dr. Ivins, a longtime anthrax researcher at the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick in Maryland, killed himself last month as the Justice Department was preparing an indictment against him. Since his death, a number of scientists have said that the limited forensic evidence that the F.B.I. made public in linking the attacks to Dr. Ivins is inconclusive.

The unusual presentation by the bureau on Monday was intended to quell those doubts, but some scientists remained skeptical. They said it would be months before they were able to evaluate fully the strength of the forensic evidence, and the new process used, in an independent setting.

At the briefing, F.B.I. officials disclosed that they first obtained a sample of a unique strain of anthrax from Dr. Ivins in 2002, one that could have led them back to the strain used in the 2001 attacks. But the bureau destroyed the sample because Dr. Ivins did not follow protocol in the way it was submitted, making it more difficult to use in court.

It was not until 2006, after a backup copy of Dr. Ivins’s sample was found by another scientist working with the F.B.I., that the bureau’s scientists realized it was the same strain used in the anthrax mailings. That crucial finding helped confirm other evidence pointing to Dr. Ivins.

Report: Tainted Peppers Didn't Alarm FDA

It is clear that this administration doesn't give a damn about the safety of the food supply of Americans.

Federal inspectors at U.S. border crossings repeatedly turned back filthy, disease-ridden shipments of peppers from Mexico in the months before a salmonella outbreak that sickened 1,400 people was finally traced to Mexican chilies.

Yet no larger action was taken. Food and Drug Administration officials insisted as recently as last week that they were surprised by the outbreak because Mexican peppers had not been spotted as a problem before.

But an Associated Press analysis of FDA records found that peppers and chilies were consistently the top Mexican crop rejected by border inspectors for the last year.

Since January alone, 88 shipments of fresh and dried chilies were turned away. Ten percent were contaminated with salmonella. In the last year, 8 percent of the 158 intercepted shipments of fresh and dried chilies had salmonella.

On Friday, Dr. David Acheson, the FDA's food safety chief, told reporters peppers were not a cause for concern before they were implicated in the salmonella outbreak.

"We have not typically seen problems with peppers," Acheson said. "Our import sampling is typically focused on areas where we know we've got problems or we've seen problems in the past, which is why we're now increasing our sampling for peppers."

On Monday, the FDA said Acheson's comment was in relation to outbreaks or illness associated with Mexican peppers, not the rejection of pepper shipments at the borders. Calls to the FDA seeking elaboration were not immediately returned.

Still, food-safety advocates question why the agency did not pay more attention to the peppers being stopped at the border and why it took the nation's largest foodborne illness outbreak for the agency to ratchet up its screening of companies known for shipping dirty chilies.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Oil Price Rises on U.S. Hurricane Fears

Just when you thought it was safe to drive.

Oil prices rose Monday in Asia on concerns that Tropical Storm Fay may disrupt oil operations in the Gulf of Mexico.

Light, sweet crude for September delivery rose 56 cents to $114.33 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange by midafternoon in Singapore. The contract fell $1.24 on Friday to settle at $113.77 a barrel.

"There could be some supply disruption issues there so the market is watching this closely," said Mark Pervan, senior commodity strategist at ANZ Bank in Melbourne.

Fay, the sixth storm of the 2008 Atlantic season, was slowing down early Monday and moving erratically, but forecasters still expected it to strengthen slowly to a hurricane. Fay has already killed at least five people after battering Haiti and the Dominican Republic with weekend torrential rains and floods.

Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell has evacuated about 360 staff from the Gulf of Mexico over the past two days.

Early Monday, Fay was centered about 275 kilometers (170 miles) southeast of Havana and 375 kilometers (235 miles) south-southeast of Key West, Florida, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.

It had maximum sustained winds near 85 kph (50 mph) and was moving west-northwest at 17 kph (10 mph).

Forecasters expected the storm to begin moving more to the northwest later on Monday. Current models show the storm moving up the western coast of Florida, although forecasters still didn't know exactly where it would make landfall.

So far during this year's hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean, no storm has significantly damaged oil installations in the Gulf.

Russia Begins Georgia Troop 'Pull Back'

This story will only serve as an excuse for the desperate Bushies and McCain to saber rattle. It is why Bush should have been impeached. Through his ineptitude he has singlehandedly rekindled the Cold War.

Russia's military "pull back" from Georgia has begun, says Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, deputy chief of staff of the Russian armed forces.

Nogovitsyn said that Russia's deputy foreign minister had presented the U.S. ambassador to Russia with a timetable of the events that led to Russia's actions and clearly indicated Georgia's responsibility.

As stipulated by a cease-fire agreement, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Sunday that his troops would begin withdrawing to a buffer zone and into South Ossetia on Monday.

The six-point cease-fire gives no timetable for a Russian withdrawal, nor any other specifics, according to a copy of the agreement provided by Georgia's government.

Meanwhile, Russian lawmaker Konstantin Kosachev, head of the parliament's foreign affairs committee, said Moscow would completely withdraw only when it was "assured that Georgians would not continue to use military force" in the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Russian troops will leave "sooner or later," Kosachev said, saying the timetable depends "definitely on how Georgians will continue to behave."

Survivor of Rwandan Genocide Beaten to Death

The world is becoming increasingly chaotic and lawless. And we seem helpless to stop the madeness.

A woman who lost nearly all her family in the Rwandan genocide has herself been murdered, a local villager told AFP Monday, in what is the latest of several killings of survivors of the 1994 slaughter.

Jozefina Zaninka, 75, was beaten to death overnight Friday in the Muhanga district in the south of the country, Radio Rwanda, the official government broadcaster reported.

"Her body was found Saturday morning in her stable by a young man who had come, as usual, to milk the cows for her," Benoit Kaboyi, executive secretary of Ibuka, the main organisation for the genocide survivors, told AFP.

"We buried her yesterday (Sunday) after the autopsy and some suspects have already been arrested by the police," he added.

Zaninka had been claiming compensation before one of the semi-traditional courts, known as gacacas, for the pillaging of and damage to her possessions during the genocide.

Her murder might have been linked to the court action she initiated, Kaboyi added. Zaninka, who lived alone, had lost nearly all her family, in 1994.

According to Ibuka, 167 survivors of the genocide have been murdered between 1995 and mid-May 2008.

Murders of survivors of the genocide are frequent in the region, Radio Rwanda reported: in May, a survivor in her 90s was burned alive by villagers.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Chinese Officials Seize Bibles from U.S. Christians

Another embarrassment for China during the Olympic games. This is another case in point that shows China will be no more free after the Beijing Olympics than they were before.

Chinese customs officials confiscated more than 300 Bibles on Sunday from four American Christians who arrived in a southwestern city with plans to distribute them, the group's leader said.

The Bibles were taken from the group's checked luggage after they landed at the airport in the city of Kunming, said Pat Klein, head of Vision Beyond Borders. The group, based in Sheridan, Wyoming, distributes Bibles and Christian teaching materials around the world to "strengthen the persecuted church," according to its Web site.

The group arrived in China on Sunday and had intended to distribute the Bibles to people in the city, Klein told the AP in a telephone interview while still at the airport.

"I heard that there's freedom of religion in China, so why is there a problem for us to bring Bibles?" Klein said. "We had over 300 copies and customs took all of them from us."

The move comes as China hosts the Olympics in Beijing, where false media reports last year claimed Bibles would be banned from the games. The state-run China Daily reported last month that 10,000 bilingual copies of the Bible would be distributed in the Olympic Village, which houses athletes and media.

Bibles are printed under the supervision of the Communist government. The officially atheistic country only allows them to be used in government-sanctioned churches and in some big hotels catering to foreigners.

A woman who was on duty at Kunming airport's customs office confirmed over the telephone that 315 Bibles were found in the passengers' checked baggage.

The officer, who would only give her last name, Xiao, denied confiscating the Bibles. She said authorities were just "taking care" of them and provided no further details. She later said she was not authorized to speak to the media and referred questions to the national customs headquarters in Beijing, which did not answer phones on Sunday.

Transcript: Rice, Ridge on FOX News Sunday (8-17-08)

Condoleeza continues her trash talking on the White House's news channel, FOX News. Also, potential McCain presidential candidate, Tom Ridge. Read the entire transcript.

WALLACE: Clear up some confusion, if you will, for us, Secretary Rice. Under the cease-fire, what will the Russians be allowed to do inside Georgia proper? And will they be allowed to keep peacekeepers in the so-called breakaway provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia?

RICE: Well, let's remember that there were Russian peacekeepers in Abkhazia — or in South Ossetia, which is really the zone of conflict that we're talking about here. They were there as — in an agreement that goes all the way back to 1992. Those peacekeepers will be permitted to stay.

The Russians also had talked about some special security measures that their peacekeepers could take in a very limited area outside of the zone of conflict. They will be permitted to do that for a limited period of time in a very proscribed way.

They're not to go into urban centers. They're not to tie up the east-west highway. That's the clarification, Chris, that President Sarkozy gave to President Saakashvili when I went from France to Tbilisi.

But even that Russian activity outside of the zone of conflict is only until there are monitors in, international monitors.

The other thing the Russians said to the French is that they are now prepared to let the monitors from the OSCE enter the zone of conflict. That should be about 100 additional monitors, and that should happen also within days.

WALLACE: Let's turn, if we can, Secretary Rice, to the bigger issue. There's been a lot of tough talk this week from President Bush and other top officials, including yourself, about viewing the whole range of U.S.-Russia relations. Let's take a look at what Secretary Gates, Defense Secretary Gates, had to say this week.


DEFENSE SECRETARY ROBERT M. GATES: My personal view is that there need to be some consequences for the actions that Russia has taken against a sovereign state.


WALLACE: Secretary Rice, if Russia complies with the cease-fire, do relations go back to normal or, as Secretary Gates says, do there have to be consequences for the action that Russia has already taken in the last 10 days?

RICE: Well, I think there's no doubt there will be further consequences. I would note that there have already been significant consequences for Russia.

You know, any notion that Russia was the kind of responsible state, ready to integrate into international institutions of the political, diplomatic, security, economic kind, that this was a different Russia — a Russia, by the way, that President Medvedev himself described about a month ago — this forward-leaning, modern Russia, well, you know, that reputation's, frankly, in tatters, and so that in itself is a significant consequence.

And also, by the way, if the Russians intended this as intimidation, they have done nothing but harden the attitudes of the small states around them, as witnessed by Ukraine's defiance in going to Georgia, Poland, the fact that we are moving forward on missile defense.

I think the Russians have made a significant mistake here.

WALLACE: Just following up directly on that, does the U.S. still want to see Georgia and Ukraine as part of NATO? And are we prepared, if they become part of NATO, to defend their territorial sovereignty with American troops?

RICE: Well, first of all, the NATO alliance has made clear in the Bucharest Declaration that Georgia and Ukraine will be members of NATO.

What the United States is advocating for right now with others is the Georgians and Ukrainians would become part of something called the Membership Action Plan, which is not membership, but it is an umbrella under which numerous states of Eastern and Central Europe have been able to resolve their differences, have been able to make important domestic reforms, civil-military relations, reform their militaries.

That's what we're advocating. We continue to believe that that would be important for Georgia and Ukraine.