Archive for June 21st, 2008

By- Suzie-Q @ 5:45 PM MST

It’s a delicate dance, and John McCain is ‘liable to break a hip’

Carpetbagger Report

Long-time readers know that I’ve been emphasizing John McCain’s dozens of major policy flip-flops for months now, hoping that this would a) catch on as a campaign issue; and b) undermine McCain’s unearned reputation for principled stands on the issues.

I’m beginning to think that maybe, just maybe, the criticism is taking root. Consider yesterday’s “Cafferty File” on CNN:

For those who can’t watch clips online, Jack Cafferty noted some of McCain more glaring recent reversals, adding, “If John McCain doesn’t stop changing his position on the issues, he threatens to make John Kerry look like an amateur. In order for McCain to win in November, he has to appeal to both the traditional Republican base and to Independents. Dana Milbank, in The Washington Post says that’s a delicate dance. And if McCain’s not careful, ‘he’s liable to break a hip.’ Of course, any doctor will tell you a broken hip can be very difficult to recover from.”

The past couple of weeks have been especially difficult when it comes to McCain flip-flops.

* McCain supported the drilling moratorium; now he’s against it.

* McCain strongly opposes a windfall-tax on oil company profits. Three weeks earlier, he was perfectly comfortable with the idea.

* McCain thought Bush’s warrantless-wiretap program circumvented the law; now he believes the opposite.

* McCain defended “privatizing” Social Security. Now he says he’s against privatization (though he actually still supports it.)

Wait, I’m not done with the last two weeks yet….

* McCain wanted to change the Republican Party platform to protect abortion rights in cases of rape and incest. Now he doesn’t.

* McCain thought the estate tax was perfectly fair. Now he believes the opposite.

* He opposed indefinite detention of terrorist suspects. When the Supreme Court reached the same conclusion, he called it “one of the worst decisions in the history of this country.”

* McCain said he would “not impose a litmus test on any nominee.” He used to promise the opposite.

And these come after these other reversals from April and May:

* McCain believes the telecoms should be forced to explain their role in the administration’s warrantless surveillance program as a condition for retroactive immunity. He used to believe the opposite.

* McCain supported storing spent nuclear fuel at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. Now he believes the opposite.

* McCain supported moving “towards normalization of relations” with Cuba. Now he believes the opposite.

* McCain believed the U.S. should engage in diplomacy with Hamas. Now he believes the opposite.

* McCain believed the U.S. should engage in diplomacy with Syria. Now he believes the opposite.

* He argued the NRA should not have a role in the Republican Party’s policy making. Now he believes the opposite.

* McCain supported his own lobbying-reform legislation from 1997. Now he doesn’t.

* He wanted political support from radical televangelists like John Hagee and Rod Parsley. Now he doesn’t.

* McCain supported the Lieberman/Warner legislation to combat global warming. Now he doesn’t.

And these are the flip-flops I’ve noticed earlier:

* McCain pledged in February 2008 that he would not, under any circumstances, raise taxes. Specifically, McCain was asked if he is a “‘read my lips’ candidate, no new taxes, no matter what?” referring to George H.W. Bush’s 1988 pledge. “No new taxes,” McCain responded. Two weeks later, McCain said, “I’m not making a ‘read my lips’ statement, in that I will not raise taxes.”

* McCain is both for and against a “rogue state rollback” as a focus of his foreign policy vision.

* McCain says he considered and did not consider joining John Kerry’s Democratic ticket in 2004.

* In 1998, he championed raising cigarette taxes to fund programs to cut underage smoking, insisting that it would prevent illnesses and provide resources for public health programs. Now, McCain opposes a $0.61-per-pack tax increase, won’t commit to supporting a regulation bill he’s co-sponsoring, and has hired Philip Morris’ former lobbyist as his senior campaign adviser.

* McCain has changed his economic worldview on multiple occasions.

* McCain has changed his mind about a long-term U.S. military presence in Iraq on multiple occasions.

* McCain is both for and against attacking Barack Obama over his former pastor at his former church.

* McCain believes Americans are both better and worse off than they were before Bush took office.

* McCain is both for and against earmarks for Arizona.

* McCain believes his endorsement from radical televangelist John Hagee was both a good and bad idea.

* McCain’s first mortgage plan was premised on the notion that homeowners facing foreclosure shouldn’t be “rewarded” for acting “irresponsibly.” His second mortgage plan took largely the opposite position.

* McCain vowed, if elected, to balance the federal budget by the end of his first term. Soon after, he decided he would no longer even try to reach that goal.

* In February 2008, McCain reversed course on prohibiting waterboarding.

* McCain used to champion the Law of the Sea convention, even volunteering to testify on the treaty’s behalf before a Senate committee. Now he opposes it.

* McCain was a co-sponsor of the DREAM Act, which would grant legal status to illegal immigrants’ kids who graduate from high school. Now he’s against it.

* On immigration policy in general, McCain announced in February 2008 that he would vote against his own legislation.

* In 2006, McCain sponsored legislation to require grassroots lobbying coalitions to reveal their financial donors. In 2007, after receiving “feedback” on the proposal, McCain told far-right activist groups that he opposes his own measure.

* McCain said before the war in Iraq, “We will win this conflict. We will win it easily.” Four years later, McCain said he knew all along that the war in Iraq war was “probably going to be long and hard and tough.”

* McCain said he was the “greatest critic” of Rumsfeld’s failed Iraq policy. In December 2003, McCain praised the same strategy as “a mission accomplished.” In March 2004, he said, “I’m confident we’re on the right course.” In December 2005, he said, “Overall, I think a year from now, we will have made a fair amount of progress if we stay the course.”

* McCain went from saying he would not support repeal of Roe v. Wade to saying the exact opposite.

* McCain went from saying gay marriage should be allowed, to saying gay marriage shouldn’t be allowed.

* McCain criticized TV preacher Jerry Falwell as “an agent of intolerance” in 2002, but then decided to cozy up to the man who said Americans “deserved” the 9/11 attacks.

* McCain used to oppose Bush’s tax cuts for the very wealthy, but he reversed course in February.

* On a related note, he said 2005 that he opposed the tax cuts because they were “too tilted to the wealthy.” By 2007, he denied ever having said this, and insisted he opposed the cuts because of increased government spending.

* In 2000, McCain accused Texas businessmen Sam and Charles Wyly of being corrupt, spending “dirty money” to help finance Bush’s presidential campaign. McCain not only filed a complaint against the Wylys for allegedly violating campaign finance law, he also lashed out at them publicly. In April, McCain reached out to the Wylys for support.

* McCain supported a major campaign-finance reform measure that bore his name. In June 2007, he abandoned his own legislation.

* McCain opposed a holiday to honor Martin Luther King, Jr., before he supported it.

* McCain was against presidential candidates campaigning at Bob Jones University before he was for it.

* McCain was anti-ethanol. Now he’s pro-ethanol.

* McCain was both for and against state promotion of the Confederate flag.

* McCain decided in 2000 that he didn’t want anything to do with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, believing he “would taint the image of the ‘Straight Talk Express.’” Kissinger is now the Honorary Co-Chair for his presidential campaign in New York.

Confronted with the inconsistencies in McCain’s record in March, the senator’s aides told the New York Times that the senator “has evolved rather than switched positions in his 25-year career.” That’s a perfectly sensible spin — when a politician holds one position, and then, for apparently political reasons, decides to embrace the polar opposite position, it’s only natural for his or her aides to say the politician’s position has “evolved.”

But in McCain’s case, the spin is wholly unfulfilling. First, McCain sells himself as a pol who never sways with the wind, and whose willingness to be consistent in the face of pressure is proof of his character. Second, Republicans have spent the last four years or so making policy reversals the single most serious political crime in presidential politics. The dreaded “flip-flop” is, according to the GOP, the latest cardinal sin for someone seeking national office.

And if we’re playing by Republican rules, McCain’s “evolutions” should be a fairly serious problem. I’m beginning to think they might be.

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Evening Jukebox… Cherokee Nation & Indian Outlaw

By- Suzie-Q @ 5:40 PM MST

Paul Revere and the Raiders- Cherokee Nation

Tim McGraw – Indian Outlaw

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GEF @ 2:58 PM MST

EPA and OMB Give Oversight Committee Attitude

The Bush Administration has had since March 12 to respond to the subpoenas from the House oversight committee requesting documents pertaining to the EPA decisions on greenhouse gas and ozone regulations. Yet it waited until this morning — the day the Committee was scheduled to vote on their contempt for their failure to respond — to assert executive privilege.

Time and again, that inveterate stonewaller, EPA administrator Stephen Johnson, has gone up against committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) and bobbed and weaved through his testimony, never quite answering questions but never quite invoking executive privilege either.

During a May 20, 2008, appearance before the committee, Johnson was specifically asked by Waxman whether he was invoking executive privilege. “Not at this time,” Johnson replied.

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Cheney’s National Treason Haunts The White House..

GEF @ 1:38 PM MST

Via: Think Progress

Plame and Wilson vow to press on with lawsuit.

Valerie Plame and Joseph Wilson released a statement following former White House press secretary Scott McClellan’s testimony yesterday, saying that while his statements “shed some light” on the smear campaign by the Bush administration, they would continue to pursue their civil suit to press for more answers:

Scott McClellan’s book and his congressional testimony shed some light on — as we alleged in our lawsuit — the decision by senior government officials to betray the identity of a covert CIA officer, Valerie Plame Wilson. Many questions, however, such as the role of Karl Rove and Vice President Cheney remain unanswered. Our civil suit, now before the Court of Appeals, is designed to permit us to uncover the truth, to hold to account those who would use their public positions to engage in private political vendettas, and to ensure that future generations of public servants do not engage in such despicable behavior against fellow Americans.

Mr. McClellan’s testimony today underscores why we need to continue to pursue our rights under the American judicial system, and why Congress should also fully investigate the circumstances of the leak, and the subsequent obstruction of justice which is ongoing.

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Sudhan @19:15 CET

By Robert Weitzel | CommonDreams. org, June 20, 2008

“My number one priority in foreign policy is to protect Israel.”
-Former House Speaker Richard Armey

Rocky was a boyhood friend. He was as big and as strong as his name. In his wild days, Rocky hung out with a runt whose obnoxious mouth regularly got my friend into serious bar fights. One night Rocky was beaten senseless when he stepped between the runt and someone with dangerous friends. I never understood his irrational defense of a guy with obvious “needs.”

But then — K Street realpolitik notwithstanding — I have difficulty understanding America’s irrational defense of Israel, a country whose “needs” are as much at odds with the security of my country as were the runt’s “needs” at odds with the health of my friend.

Earlier this month 7,000 activists and politicians attended the America Israel Public Forum Committee’s 2008 Policy Conference in Washington D.C. This was AIPAC’s premier pro-Israel event, which attracted a bipartisan who’s who of Congressional sycophants. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s keynote address drew nearly half the members of Congress.

Along with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, both presumptive Democratic and Republican presidential candidates bent a knee and lowered their head in supplication, pledging an unwavering fealty along with an additional 30 billion taxpayer dollars in military aid to Israel.

John McCain told attendees, “The threats to Israel’s security are large and growing and America’s commitment must grow as well. I strongly support the increase in military aid to Israel . . . our shared interests and values are too great for us to follow any other policy.”

Barak Obama dittoed, “Israel’s security is sacrosanct. It is non-negotiable . . . Our alliance is based on shared interests and shared values. Those who threaten Israel threaten us . . . as president I will never compromise when it comes to Israel’s security.”

As an American citizen, I’d like to think the number one “non-negotiable” of anyone who would be president is the security and the interests of the American people. Instead of reading from the same AIPAC-vetted script, McCain and Obama would better serve their country by reading from the same Constitution — the version enshrined in Washington D.C. not in Jerusalem.

AIPAC is the most powerful of the dozen or so major organizations and think-tanks that comprise the “Israel lobby” in the United States. This influential lobby dictates U.S. Middle East foreign policy: “You can’t have an Israeli policy other than what AIPAC gives you around here,” admitted Senator Ernest Hollings (D-SC) upon leaving office in 2004.

Recently, former President Jimmy Carter pointed out that the Israel lobby makes or breaks American politicians depending on their willingness to promote Israel’s “security” as their number one foreign policy priority: “It’s almost political suicide . . . for a member of Congress who wants to seek reelection to take any stand that might be interpreted as anti-policy of the conservative Israeli government.”

Predictably, politicians wanting to keep their government and K Street paychecks merrily dance the mizinka, the Jewish traditional marriage (of convenience) polka.

Most detrimental to the democratic process, however, is the way the lobby manages the political and social discourse by tarring critics of Israel’s policies and actions regarding the Palestinians, Gaza and the West Bank with the brush of anti-Semitism, a black epithet that once applied is difficult, if not impossible, to scrub off.

Continued . . .

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Top Democrats Hand Bush Key Victories

Sudhan @17:55 CET

Jason Leopold | Consortiumnews. com, June 21st, 2008

A Democratic engineered emergency supplemental bill to continue funding the occupation of Iraq and the war in Afghanistan to the tune of $162 billion is expected to win bipartisan support, aides to leaders in the House said late Wednesday.

The bill, as currently drafted, does not contain any conditions for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq nor does it restrict how President Bush can conduct military operations. The legislation ensures both wars are funded well into 2009 and comes nearly two years after Democrats won majorities in Congress and the Senate largely on promises to resist handing the Bush administration “blank-checks” for Iraq and a pledge to immediately bring U.S. troops home.

A spokesperson for Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was unavailable for comment.

In a column published on The Huffington Post in November 2006, just a couple of weeks after Democrats took back control of Congress, Pelosi wrote “that the biggest ethical issue facing our country for the past three and a half years is the war in Iraq.”

“This unnecessary pre-emptive war has come at great cost. Nearly 2,900 of our brave troops have lost their lives and more than 21,000 more have suffered lasting wounds,” Pelosi wrote.” Since the war began, Congress has appropriated more than $350 billion, and the United States has suffered devastating damage to our reputation in the eyes of the world.”

Since she published that column, an additional 1,200 U.S. troops died in Iraq and nearly 10,000 more were wounded, according to statistics released by the Defense Department. Additionally, tens of thousands of Iraqis civilians have been killed since the March 2003 invasion. Moreover, if the new supplemental passes it will bring the total costs of the war to more than $600 billion.

Continued . . .

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British police ‘brutal’ to anti-bush protesters

Sudhan @17:32 CET

Bexhill Observer, June 21, 2008

Anti-war protest leaders have accused the police of unprovoked brutality during protests in London to mark a visit by US President George Bush.

Prominent campaigners said scenes of violence in Westminster reflected a growing authoritarian clampdown on the right to peaceful protest.

Members of the Stop the War Coalition criticised the Government for apparently allowing the president’s security detail to enforce a protest-free “green zone” around his Downing Street visit.

They said protesters suffered injuries including head wounds, cuts and heavy bruising as they were beaten by police with batons at barricades between Whitehall and Parliament Square.

Veteran peace campaigner Walter Wolfgang, 84, said he was shocked by the unexpected violence.

He said: “Not only did some of the police behave brutally – they looked as if they enjoyed it. They used the batons without reason.”

Human rights activist Bianca Jagger said protesters were attacked for attempting to exercise their rights.

Ms Jagger said she narrowly escaped becoming caught up in the violence as she walked through the demonstration on Sunday.

Police arrested 25 people after 10 officers suffered minor injuries during the demonstration in Parliament Square.

Up to 2,500 people gathered to mark President Bush’s farewell tour of London, which was surrounded by a massive security operation.

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Brown delays ratification of the Lisbon Treaty

anthony @ 12:48 BST

Peter Hoskin | spectator.co.uk | Friday, 20th June 2008

At the suggestion of Lord Justice Richards, Gordon Brown has confirmed he’ll delay ratification of the Lisbon Treaty until after the result of Stuart Wheeler’s court case against the Government. We should hear the verdict next week and, according to Brown, that “fits in with [the Government’s] timetable.”

However, Wheeler has since confirmed that he’ll most likely appeal should the High Court rule in the Government’s favour. In theory, that should mean further delay for Brown & Co. Watch this space.

P.S. An explanation for those puzzled by all the “UK ratifies Lisbon Treaty” headlines now Brown’s said he’ll delay ratification. The bill to implement the Lisbon Treaty has passed successfully through the UK’s traditional ratification process – i.e. it’s got past Parliament and has been given Royal Assent. However, in this case, there’s another step: the “instruments of ratification” need to be depositied in Rome. That’s what Brown is holding back from doing.

EU leaders will never consult us again

Daniel Hannan | spectator.co.uk | Wednesday, 18th June 2008

Daniel Hannan, who predicted the Irish ‘No’ vote in this magazine, now says that the EU will simply implement the Lisbon Treaty and never risk a referendum again

By ten o’clock on Friday morning, it was clear that the ‘No’s had it. Ireland’s Europhiles were struggling even in their affluent strongholds within the Pale. In the rest of the country, they were being pulverised.

A jubilant ‘No’ campaigner rang me from Galway, his words tumbling over each other. ‘It looks like a high turnout, too,’ he exulted. ‘The Eurocrats won’t be able to just carry on as if nothing has happened.’ Oh yes they will, I told him, sadly. They did when the Danes voted ‘No’ to Maastricht. They did when you boys voted ‘No’ to Nice. They did when the French and the Dutch voted ‘No’ to the constitution. Just you watch them.

We didn’t have long to wait. Even before the result had been declared, José Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission, announced tetchily that the ‘No’ vote wouldn’t solve the EU’s problems, so ratification would continue.

Read more…

EU treaty decision to be postponed to October

AFP | Friday, June 20, 2008

BRUSSELS (AFP) – EU leaders will postpone a decision on the future of the bloc’s Lisbon Treaty, after Ireland’s voters rejected it, to their next summit in mid-October, according to a draft statement Friday.

But the document, prepared for a European Union summit in Brussels ending later Friday, sidestepped the issue of what exactly should be done by the seven countries that have not yet ratified the text, in the face of stern Czech opposition.

“The European Council agreed to Ireland’s suggestion to come back to this issue at its meeting of 15 October 2008 in order to consider the way forward,” said the statement.

Read more…

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