Wednesday, November 28, 2007

McCain Blogger Call - Addressing Iraq

Senator McCain conducted a blogger call this morning, which he addressed among other things the situation in Iraq. He discussed visiting the region over Thanksgiving, meeting with General Petraeus, and Lieutenant General Odierno, as well as the troops. He relayed signs of success evident in Anbar province, as well as improvements in Baghdad. He noted that while there is political progress on the ground, and there is some oil sharing occurring, that the political process is slow and difficult. Also, he noted that there is still potential for violence to flair up as Al Qaeda is desperate and on the run.

The other fact he conveyed is that Democrats are still trying to force a withdrawal by withholding funding regarless of the facts on the ground. This seems incredibly irresponsible. I understand the anger that Democrats have with the Bush administration, and I don't blame them for being skeptical about the surge at the begininning of the year, but I don't understand being defeatist in the face of success. This is why people don't trust Washington. Playing politics with taxes, health care, or spending is unfortunate, but playing politics when people's lives, likely thousands of people's lives, hang in the balance is disgusting. Maybe it's ego that keeps the Democrats from admitting that Senator McCain and the Republicans had it right when they pushed for this strategy change, but claiming that the Congress knows best what the troop levels should be in Iraq has already been proven wrong. It stikes me that this is the type of topic that one reads about in the history books. The choices made about Iraq will effect lives in America and around the world for decades if not centuries to come. This is the worst type of issue to play politics with. This isn't about red and blue this is about war and peace. It's time for people to use their brains, to learn their history, and to make wise choices and put politics aside.


Click to View Clips of the Republican YouTube Debate.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Complaints from and Independent

I don’t consider myself a complainer, but I have a laundry list of political complaints. These are the basis for declaring myself an Independent, and this seems like the place to vent. So in no particular order here are 10 complaints/tips to politicians…

1. Just because I think a Republican is wrong doesn’t mean I think a Democrat is right, and vice versa. Often there are more than two ways to look at an issue.

2. If you are going to legislate morality don’t get caught with a prostitute or a teenager.

3. Stop yelling (pundits). Volume has no correlation to correctness.

4. If you’re wrong just say so. Everybody’s wrong from time to time, and if you’re thinking ‘not me’ then please don’t get into politics.

5. Please have a reason for seeking power beyond wanting to become powerful.

6. Don’t act like an idiot in a pathetic attempt to retain power. The recurrent theme in Washington seems to be, party takes power, party does something stupid and sleazy to retain power, party gets caught, party gets voted out.

7. Don’t gloat. It’s petty and rude, and remember you’re supposed to be a grown-up.

8. Have a mind of your own. In the real world people are admired for being independent thinkers, only in Washington are the blind followers honored.

9. Your party is not going to be permanently in power so have some perspective, and read a history book.

10. Kill the conspiracy theories.

   a. Any conspiracy that consists of an entire government agency keeping their mouth shut should automatically be thrown out.
   b. Just because you lost doesn’t mean the other side conspired against you.
   c. If science and evidence starkly contradict your conspiracy theory then don’t lose your nut when people think you’re wrong.

Monday, November 26, 2007

John McCain and the Media Part II

It’s interesting how Senator McCain is received in the press. I’ve heard complaints that Senator McCain doesn’t get a fair shake in the press, and complaints that he’s a media darling. Oddly enough, I think both sides have a point. First, the reason Senator McCain has reporters that genuinely like him is simple, he’s incredibly accessible and a likable guy. He answers all questions, from reporters and voters alike. I challenge anyone to name another politician that takes all comers in the manner Senator McCain does. The other day I a was on a blogger call with Senator McCain, and I was sitting on the line thinking, ‘How in the world am I on the phone with Senator McCain?’ He doesn’t just talk to bloggers, he does Meet the Press, he does the John Stewart Show, he does Hardball, along with many more. Hardball and John Stewart illustrate why many members of the media like him so much. Both of those shows are not reflective of the Senator’s views, but he comes on and answers their questions anyway, and he does so gracefully and with humor. The hosts of those two shows have both made statements that they just like the guy, even though they often don’t agree with him. One can argue whether it’s fair that these people like him, but the Senator gives them good cause to do so.

Now the other side of the coin is, does Senator McCain get a fair shake in general media terms? While I don’t think networks sit around thinking up ways to trip up the McCain campaign, I do think he has received the brunt side of biased reporting. The most blatant example of this is Iraq. Unfortunately, Iraq has become one of the most politicized issues in years. This isn’t just done by politicians, but by networks and reporters as well. Senator McCain has made his stance on Iraq clear from the beginning and has taken a beating for it from left leaning news networks. Now that the situation in Iraq is improving he’s not receiving the credit he is due for pushing for a change in strategy and for answering hard questions from reporters that other candidates avoided with platitudes like, ‘There are no good answers in Iraq’.

Now it is somewhat a toss up whether the coverage of the Iraq last spring and summer was due to bias, poor reporting, or both. However, there was little information given about what the surge was and why it was different than the previous strategy. The impression left by news networks was that the surge simply meant additional troops. The change in strategy itself was given little to no coverage, and the surge (along with Senator McCain) was decried as being a foolish and stubborn policy. The perception given by the media was that Senator McCain walked in lock step with President Bush, and it was ignored that Senator McCain pushed for a strategy change years before it was implemented. Now that there are signs of success in Iraq you still don’t see these networks willing to point out progress, instead they say nothing.

Then the question comes up; are the networks pushing a particular candidate, and is this reflected in their reporting? Are they trying to promote a particular party? Does the network itself pick a candidate or are individual reporters responsible for promoting one candidate and not another? I don’t know the answer, but I do know that they are doing a poor job at appearing objective. Mayor Giuliani has a friendship with Roger Ailes the head of Fox News, and while I in no way fault either one for having this friendship, I do wonder if it affects the network’s objectivity. CNN has been dubbed the ‘Clinton News Network’ for a reason, and the over-the-top reporting of Rick Sanchez this week only helped to reinforce that moniker. The large number of opinion shows on cable news makes it difficult to know what is genuine reporting, and what is opinion. The strength of Senator McCain in the media is that he continues to keep answering the hard questions that others avoid, and it wins him respect from a wide range of people. His challenge is that the network’s agenda may not include him, and that he may have to find a way to win despite the fog created by poor and biased reporting.

Cross Posted from

McCain and the Media

I have a bone to pick with the media. I recently wrote an article about the lack of substance in the media titled, “Why Do I Know that Barack Obama Lost His American Flag Lapel Pin?” However, this latest dust up with CNN and Rick Sanchez has highlighted not only the media’s lack of substance, but their poor reporting, their sensationalism, and their bias. Now this is nothing new, but amazingly Mr. Sanchez was able to display all these shortcomings in one segment. Since this has become the most overanalyzed video clip in recent history, I’ll keep it short.

1. Poor Reporting – The clip should have been showed in its entirety, and breaking down phrases and expressions without context is simply poor reporting.
2. Sensationalism – The ‘Is this the end of John McCain’ remark is about as over-the-top as it gets.
3. Lack of Substance – What’s this all about again? Inappropriate laughter? Not scolding a questioner? Not saying loudly enough that he respects Senator Clinton?
4. Bias – I’ve been to several town hall meeting and I guarantee you this is not the first inappropriate question this or any other candidate has heard. Yet I haven’t seen other candidates taken to task when a questioner asks a nasty question about George Bush.

Now I’m less inclined to claim liberal bias, and more inclined to simply claim bias. I think everyone knows which networks slant left and which one slants right, but I’m disappointed in CNN because I used to think they tried to remain neutral. Yet this isn’t their first mistake. They reported Senator McCain would be dropping out of the presidential race last summer, which clearly he didn’t. Their coverage of Iraq is full of commentary and short on reporting. I still like watching Wolf Blitzer on Sundays because I think he’s an even-handed journalist, but I hope CNN will rethink its programming and follow the lead of journalists like Mr. Blitzer, instead of degrading itself for ratings with showmen like Mr. Sanchez.

Cross Posted from

Senator McCain Back from Iraq

Tom Kean: John McCain is best prepared to defend and protect America

Cross Posted from the Union Leader:


Friday, Nov. 23, 2007

THIS ELECTION is about who is best prepared to lead and defend our nation and its global allies. John McCain understands the nature of the terrorist threats that continue to confront us all. In the time I have been privileged to work with him, Sen. McCain has been at the forefront of every effort to enhance the security of the American people in the aftermath of Sept. 11.

Sen. McCain sponsored the legislation that established the 9/11 Commission and worked tirelessly to see that it had the resources necessary to do its job. More importantly, Sen. McCain spearheaded efforts in Congress that produced the most significant reform in the nation's intelligence gathering and defense capabilities since 1947 -- when Harry Truman was President.

To the extent that we have been less vulnerable to attacks like those we suffered on 9/11, the extraordinary leadership of John McCain, often in face of what appeared to be insurmountable obstacles, is one of the reasons.

This election is one of the few in our nation's history when at least two wars are being passed from one President to another. America needs a commander-in-chief at the helm who is ready to be President on the day he or she takes office. John McCain is ready to be President from day one. He has seen and suffered the consequences of war. He has also worked tirelessly in Congress for the last quarter century to keep Americans safe -- from an era President Kennedy termed a "hard and bitter peace" during the Cold War to today, perhaps an even more dangerous time.

In the history our nation, only a handful of senators exerted a greater influence over the lives of free men and free women around the world than had many Presidents. John McCain has been one of those senators, and he will make an extraordinary President.

As I support Sen. McCain, my thoughts go back to another great man who was called upon to resolve one conflict and preside over a worldwide struggle with a persistent and determined enemy. His name was Dwight D. Eisenhower. As people my age well remember, Ike kept his eye on an important struggle, the one we waged on several fronts and through several means against the Soviet Union.

Ike personified all that was right about America. America, Ike reminded us, is not good because she is great. America is great because she is good. You can see why John McCain so reminds me of Ike.

Like Dwight D. Eisenhower and like Ronald Reagan, John McCain senses the dangers our country faces and he is the man best prepared to face them. His service to our nation has earned him the respect of his fellow citizens. He will be able to use the trust they place in him to rise above the partisanship and divisiveness that have come to characterize Washington today. He will use it, as he has in the past, to bring people together. He will draw upon the best people and ideas of all parties and political persuasions to address our nation's most pressing problems in ways that make us all safer. For these reasons, I am honored to support John McCain for President.

Tom Kean, former Republican governor of New Jersey, was chairman of the 9/11 Commission.

Decency on Immigration

Reprinted from -

Apart from John McCain, it's hard to find that quality in the Republican presidential contest.

Saturday, November 24, 2007; A16

THE SPEAKER was discussing the human face of illegal immigration. "People are continuing dying in the Sonoran desert, and it's just a very sad thing to see," he said. "One 3-year-old baby died, a 16-year-old girl with a rosary in her hand. There's a side of this that grieves me terribly. These are God's children. They're not from another planet, and the whole thing . . . frankly, this whole issue saddens me a great deal."

These statements were moving, but they would not have been especially remarkable except for the fact that the person speaking is a presidential candidate -- a Republican presidential candidate, in fact -- at a time when the campaign has taken a particularly toxic tone when it comes to the issue of immigration. In a meeting with Post editors and reporters the other day, Arizona Sen. John McCain described the toll that he believes his championing of comprehensive immigration reform took on his campaign. "It was the issue of immigration that hurt my campaign," he said. "I have not encountered a domestic issue that has provoked the emotional response that this issue does with a lot of Americans."

Indeed, even as Mr. McCain was speaking, his GOP rivals were busy turning an ugly immigration debate even uglier. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who said in 2005 he thought that the McCain-Kennedy comprehensive immigration approach was "sensible," and former New York mayor

Rudolph W. Giuliani, who as mayor protected illegal immigrants from being reported to immigration authorities when they sought police protection or hospital care, competed to see who could sound toughest.

"As governor, I opposed driver's licenses for illegals, vetoed tuition breaks for illegals and combated sanctuary city policies by authorizing the state police to enforce federal immigration law," Mr. Romney said in a statement. "As president, I will secure the border and reject sanctuary policies by cities, states or the federal government."

The Giuliani campaign shot back, in a statement by communications director Katie Levinson: "On Governor Romney's watch, the number of illegal immigrants in Massachusetts skyrocketed, aid to Massachusetts sanctuary cities went through the roof and Governor Romney even went so far as to hire illegals to work on his lawn." Mr. Romney and former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson have also taken shots at former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee for allowing the children of illegal immigrants in Arkansas to qualify for in-state tuition and academic scholarships if they graduated from high school there. As Mr. Huckabee told Fox News, "the basic concept, and I know this is still an anathema to some people, I don't believe you punish the children for the crime and sins of the parents."

Illegal immigration provokes strong emotions, understandably so. But it would behoove all the candidates to engage in a little less chest-thumping and speak with more of the decency and compassion that Mr. McCain exhibited.

Returning From Iraq, McCain Focuses on New Hampshire

Reprinted From -
Republican Contender Attempts to Set Himself Apart From Pack in New Hampshire
Nov. 23, 2007 —

When he talks about his national security credentials, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., likes to point out that he already knows foreign leaders like Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and that he has traveled the world extensively.

Almost as an aside, he says former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has never been to Iraq and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has gone only once. This week marked McCain's seventh visit to Iraq.

So, even though McCain traveled to Iraq this week very quietly for a politician  no press entourage, no public events  the trip still carried political overtones and imagery: McCain conferring with Iraqi leaders and Gen. David Petraeus in Baghdad while his rivals sit down to turkey at home.

Iraq Position Once a Political Liability
McCain, the candidate who paid the political price for his early, unwavering support for sending in more troops, is now proved right as the troop surge is apparently working.

On a trip to Iraq in April, McCain was ridiculed by some for saying the security situation had improved while he was under the heavy protection of U.S. troops. This time, the security situation really has improved.

In Baghdad, McCain only somewhat facetiously told ABC's Aaron Katersky, "The surest sign that things are working [is] they don't call it the McCain surge anymore."

Steadfast Support for the Surge
His support for the war and the surge and his backing of the ill-fated immigration bill hurt McCain with Republican voters. Immigration still does. But the decreasing violence in Iraq has given McCain a new opening on that issue.

At the same time, his steadfast support for the surge reinforces his image as a straight talker who is willing to buck popular sentiment for what he believes in. And just in case voters miss it, he's quite willing to point it out.

Campaigning in New Hampshire last week, he said: "They said McCain's chances to be president are permanently damaged and they may have been right. But I've said many times, I'd rather lose the campaign than lose the war."

"It's something of a risky argument because the war continues to be generally unpopular, though that's not quite the case among Republicans," said political analyst Stuart Rothenberg.

"In talking about his support for the surge, you have to evaluate it two ways. & Is the surge working? And I think many Republicans think it is. & But the other side of that is John McCain and consistency. He says what he believes even if it's unpopular, even if others criticize him and that is an appealing quality for many Americans and for many Republicans."

'It Was Mishandled'
But McCain is also trying to make sure he is not seen as having been blindly supportive of how the war was planned and the occupation handled.

On the stump these days, he notes that he was critical of the Bush administration and Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld in particular for not committing more troops sooner.

"It was mishandled by the secretary of defense and this administration and it was mishandled for nearly four years," he said at a campaign stop in Nashua, N.H.

The challenge for McCain now is to get Republican voters to give him a second look. Unlike, say, Romney, he's already well-known. Some Republicans like him. Some don't. There is probably not a huge segment of those who haven't already considered him and decided one way or the other.

With just weeks to go before the first contests, the McCain strategy appears to be to focus most of his time, resources and energy on New Hampshire, where McCain beat President Bush by 18 points in 2000.

He trails badly in Iowa and likely won't be spending much, if any, time there before the Jan. 3 caucus. A strong showing in Iowa by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee could help McCain by hurting Romney.

McCain trails Romney in New Hampshire, but he is hoping the combination of a big effort  he'll spend at least five straight days in the Granite State at the beginning of December  and Romney coming out of Iowa slowed or weakened could give him the boost to win there.

Another theme he will be pushing will be "electability." Some polls show he is the strongest GOP candidate when matched up against Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. More and more often, he is criticizing Clinton's positions even while assailing his rivals for "ridiculing" and "degrading" her in their own more personal attacks. He even talks about "when" he beats her in November.

But first things first: like getting the Republican nomination. A win in New Hampshire would be a huge step in that direction. A loss there and he's almost surely finished.

John McCain Liked by Moderates and Conservatives

David Brooks discusses the honor and integrity of John McCain, and why Independents, Republicans, and Democrats like him.