Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Question That Cuts Both Ways --Why Let McCain Win?

Kathleen Reardon

Hillary Clinton supporters are facing the prospect of having to decide whether to vote for Barack Obama, vote for John McCain or not vote at all. They're about to be wooed like never before - a stark contrast to what they experienced during the nomination process from the media and a significant portion of Obama supporters.

Yet if you look at the math, as they've been told to do, the general election is not winnable by Barack Obama without party unity - something we're told will happen when people who support Hillary Clinton finally see the light - or wisely peer into the darkness that a McCain presidency proffers.

Why would a Hillary Clinton supporter vote for McCain? It does seem ludicrous. After all, he represents four to eight more years of George W. Bush. The country can't afford that. What would prompt a Hillary supporter, especially a Democrat, to even consider backing such a despicable outcome? Revenge? Not good enough. That feeling in the pit of the stomach women get when they know they've been dismissed, diminished or patronized? That's a tough one, but it still doesn't trump the future of the country. Being told it will only take a few months to convince them and most Hillary supporters to flip -- something in persuasion you never telegraph if you really plan to be persuasive? Still, can McCain be the answer? Hardly.

Yet why not turn the question around? If keeping McCain out of the White House is vital to America, why, despite what's touted as Hillary Clinton's "baggage," would Barack Obama not want her as the vice presidential candidate any less than she, as the nominee, would want him in that spot if it made a McCain win unlikely? Revenge? Not good enough. Disdain for a woman who criticized him as not ready to be president? Still, you have to wonder.

How about long-term hatred for "the Clintons"? But, the country is at stake in so many ways. Believing that unity is possible without her? Risky.

So the question cuts both ways. Why should Barack Obama let McCain win if that's exactly what Clinton and her supporters should not do? Wouldn't he be diminishing hope in favor of hubris?
To win Hillary Clinton voters, if that's indeed how all plays out, it will take knowing in their heart of hearts that Barack Obama would not be one iota more willing to relinquish the country to John McCain than the woman and her supporters he expects to take the same stand.

Dr. Reardon also blogs about politics at bardscove

FRANK RICH: McCain’s McClellan Nightmare

THEY thought they were being so slick. When the McCain campaign abruptly moved last Tuesday’s fund-raiser with President Bush from the Phoenix Convention Center to a private home, it was the next best thing to sending the loathed lame duck into the witness protection program. John McCain and Mr. Bush were caught on camera together for a mere 26 seconds, and at 9 p.m. Eastern time, safely after the networks’ evening newscasts. The two men’s furtive encounter on the Phoenix airport tarmac, as captured by a shaky, inaudible long shot on, could have been culled from a surveillance video.

But for the McCain campaign, any “Mission Accomplished” high-fives had to be put on hold. That same evening broke the news of Scott McClellan’s memoir, and it was soon All Bush All the Time in the mediasphere. Or more to the point: All Iraq All the Time, for the deceitful origins of the war in Iraq are the major focus of the former press secretary’s tell-all.

There is no news in his book, hardly the first to charge that the White House used propaganda to sell its war and that the so-called liberal media were “complicit enablers” of the con job. The blowback by the last Bush defenders is also déjà vu. The claims that Mr. McClellan was “disgruntled,” “out of the loop,” two-faced, and a “sad” head case are identical to those leveled by Bush operatives (including Mr. McClellan) at past administration deserters like Paul O’Neill, Richard Clarke, John DiIulio and Matthew Dowd.

So why the fuss? Mr. McClellan isn’t a sizzling TV personality, or, before now, a household name beyond the Beltway. His book secured no major prepublication media send-off on “60 Minutes” or a newsmagazine cover. But if the tale of how the White House ginned up the war is an old story, the big new news is how ferocious a hold this familiar tale still exerts on the public all these years later. We have not moved on.

Americans don’t like being lied to by their leaders, especially if there are casualties involved and especially if there’s no accountability. We view it as a crime story, and we won’t be satisfied until there’s a resolution.

That’s why the original sin of the war’s conception remains a political flash point, however much we tune out Iraq as it grinds on today. Even a figure as puny as Mr. McClellan can ignite it. The Democrats portray Mr. McCain as offering a third Bush term, but it’s a third term of the war that’s his bigger problem. Even if he locks the president away in a private home, the war will keep seeping under the door, like the blood in “Sweeney Todd.”

Mr. McCain and his party are in denial about this. “Elections are about the future” is their mantra. On “Hardball” in April, Mr. McCain pooh-poohed debate about “whether we should have invaded or not” as merely “a good academic argument.” We should focus on the “victory” he magically foresees instead.

But the large American majority that judges the war a mistake remains constant (more than 60 percent). For all the talk of the surge’s “success,” the number of Americans who think the country is making progress in Iraq is down nine percentage points since February (to 37 percent) in the latest Pew survey. The number favoring a “quick withdrawal” is up by seven percentage points (to 56 percent).

It’s extremely telling that when Gen. David Petraeus gave his latest progress report before the Senate 10 days ago, his testimony aroused so little coverage and public interest that few even noticed his admission that those much-hyped October provincial elections in Iraq would probably not happen before November (after our Election Day, wanna bet?). Contrast the minimal attention General Petraeus received for his current news from Iraq with the rapt attention Mr. McClellan is receiving for his rehash of the war’s genesis circa 2002-3, and you can see what has traction this election year.

There are other signs of Iraq’s durable political lethality as well. Looking for a bright spot in their loss of three once-safe House seats in special elections this spring, Republicans have duly noted that the Democrats who won in Louisiana and Mississippi were social “conservatives,” anti-abortion and pro-gun. They failed to notice that all three Democratic winners, including the two in the South, oppose the war. Even more remarkably, new polling in Texas finds that an incumbent Republican senator and Bush rubber stamp, John Cornyn, is only four percentage points ahead of his Democratic challenger, Rick Noriega, a fierce war critic who served in Afghanistan.

In the woe-is-us analyses by leading Republicans about their party’s travails — whether by the House G.O.P. leader John Boehner (in The Wall Street Journal) or the media strategist Alex Castellanos (in National Review) — Iraq is conspicuous by its utter absence. The Republican brand’s crisis is instead blamed exclusively on excessive spending, scandal and earmarks — it’s all the fault of Tom DeLay’s K Street Project, Jack Abramoff and that Alaskan “bridge to nowhere.”

This transcends denial; it’s group psychosis. Nowhere is this syndrome more apparent than in the profuse punditry of Karl Rove, who never cites Iraq as a problem for Mr. McCain (if he refers to it at all) and flatly assured George Stephanopoulos last Sunday that Mr. McCain has no need to make a “clean break” from Mr. Bush.

Mr. Rove is to the McCain campaign what Bill Clinton was to the Hillary Clinton campaign: a ubiquitous albatross dispensing dubious, out-of-date political advice and constantly upstaging the candidate he ostensibly supports. Like Mr. Clinton, Mr. Rove is a camera hog who puts his need to vehemently defend his own administration’s record ahead of all else. So what if he’s under subpoena by the House Judiciary Committee? He doesn’t care if he reminds voters of administration scandals or of Mr. McCain’s association with Iraq any more than Mr. Clinton cared if he reminded voters of his continued ties to suspect financial donors and the prospect of an out-of-control co-presidency.

Damaging as Mr. Clinton’s behavior was to his wife’s campaign, Iraq was worse. Mrs. Clinton could never credibly explain away her vote authorizing the war. Her repeated disingenuous attempts to fudge it ended up contaminating her credibility on other issues.

Mr. McCain’s record on Iraq is far worse than Mrs. Clinton’s. He didn’t just cast a vote but was a drumbeater for the propaganda Mr. McClellan cites, including the neocon fantasies of a newly democratic Middle East. On “Hardball” and “Meet the Press” in March 2003, Mr. McCain invoked that argument, along with the promise that Americans would be “welcomed as liberators,” to assert the war would be “one of the best things that’s happened to America.”

To cover up these poor judgments now — and questionable actions, including his public boosting of Ahmad Chalabi, then a lobbying client of the current McCain campaign guru, Charles Black — Mr. McCain is hoping that the “liberal media” will once again be complicit enablers. We’ll see. He’s also counting on the press to let him blur his record by accentuating his subsequent criticism of the war’s execution — as if the war’s execution (also criticized by countless Democrats), not its conception, was the fatal error.

His other tactic is to try to create a smoke screen by smearing Barack Obama as unpatriotic. Mr. McCain has suggested that the Democratic front-runner is the Hamas candidate and has piled on to Mr. Bush’s effort to slur Mr. Obama as an apostle of “appeasement.” A campaign ad presented Mr. McCain as “the American president Americans have been waiting for” (not to be confused, presumably, with the un-American president Al Qaeda has been waiting for).

Now Mr. McCain is chastising Mr. Obama for not having visited Iraq since 2006 — a questionable strategy, you’d think, given that Mr. McCain’s own propagandistic visit to a “safe” Baghdad market is one of his biggest embarrassments. Then again, in his frantic efforts to explain why he sided with Mr. Bush to oppose an expanded G.I. bill that the Senate passed by 75 to 22, Mr. McCain has attacked Mr. Obama for not enlisting in the military.

Besides making Mr. McCain look ever angrier next to his serene opponent, this eruption raises the question of why he chose double-standard partisanship over principle by not applying this criterion to the blunderers who took us into Iraq. Unlike Mr. Obama, who was 7 years old in 1968, Mr. Bush and company could have served in Vietnam as Mr. McCain did.

The McCain campaign may have no choice but to double down on Iraq — what other issue does the candidate have? — but it can’t count on smear tactics or journalistic and public amnesia to indefinitely enforce the McCain narrative. As the McClellan circus shows, unexpected bombshells will keeping intervening — detonating not only on the ground in Iraq but also in Washington, where more Bush alumni with reputations to salvage may yet run for cover about what went down in 2002-3.

As F. Scott Fitzgerald would have it, we will be borne back ceaselessly into the past. Or so we will be as long as Americans continue to die in Iraq and as long as politicians like Mr. Bush, Mr. McCain and Mrs. Clinton refuse to accept responsibility for their roles, major and minor, in abetting this national tragedy.

MAUREEN DOWD: Cult of Deception


They say that every president gets the psychoanalyst he deserves. And every Hamlet gets his Rosencrantz.

So now comes Scott McClellan, once the most loyal of the Texas Bushies, to reveal “What Happened,” as the title of his book promises, to turn W. from a genial, humble, bipartisan good ol’ boy to a delusional, disconnected, arrogant, ideological flop.

Although his analytical skills are extremely limited, the former White House press secretary — Secret Service code name Matrix — takes a stab at illuminating Junior’s bumpy and improbable boomerang journey from family black sheep and famous screw-up back to family black sheep and famous screw-up.

How did W. start out wanting to restore honor and dignity to the White House and end up scraping all the honor and dignity off the White House?

It turns out that our president is a one-man refutation of Malcolm Gladwell’s best seller “Blink,” about the value of trusting your gut.

Every gut instinct he had was wildly off the mark and hideously damaging to all concerned.

It seems that if you trust your gut without ever feeding your gut any facts or news or contrary opinions, if you keep your gut on a steady diet of grandiosity, ignorance, sycophants, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, those snap decisions can be ruinous.

We already know What Happened, but it feels good to hear Scott say it. His conscience was spurred by hurt feelings.

In Washington, it is rarely the geopolitical or human consequences that cause people to turn on leaders behaving immorally. The town is far more narcissistic and practical than that.

The people who should be sounding the alarm for democracy’s sake, and the sake of all the young Americans losing lives and limbs, get truly outraged only when they are played for fools and fall guys, when their own reputations are at stake.

It was not the fake casus belli that made Colin Powell’s blood boil. What really got Powell disgusted was that W. and Dick Cheney used him, tapping into his credibility to sell their trumped-up war; that George Tenet failed to help him scrub his U.N. speech of all Cheney’s garbage; and that W. showed him the door so the more malleable Condi could have his job.

Tenet was privately worried about a war buildup not backed up by C.I.A. facts, but he only publicly sounded the alarm years later in a lucrative memoir fueled by payback, after Condi and Cheney tried to cast him as the fall guy on W.M.D.

McClellan did not realize the value of a favorite maxim — “The truth shall set you free” — until he was hung out to dry by his bosses in the Valerie Plame affair, repeating the lies Karl Rove and Scooter Libby brazenly told him about not being the leakers.

“Clearly,” McClellan says, sounding like the breast-heaving heroine of a Victorian romance, “I had allowed myself to be deceived.” He felt “something fall out of me into the abyss.”

And that was even before “the breaking point,” when he learned the worst about his idol — that the president who had denounced leaks about his warrantless surveillance program, who had promised to fire anyone leaking classified information about Plame, was himself the one who authorized Dick Cheney to let Scooter leak part of the top-secret National Intelligence Estimate.

“Yeah, I did,” Mr. Bush told his sap of a press secretary on Air Force One. His tone, the stunned McClellan said, was “as if discussing something no more important than a baseball score.”

He recalled the first time that he had begun to suspect that W. might be just another dissembling pol: when he overheard his boss, during his 2000 bid, ludicrously telling a supporter that he couldn’t remember, from his wild partying days, if he had tried cocaine.

“He isn’t the kind of person to flat-out lie,” McClellan said, but added, “I was witnessing Bush convincing himself to believe something that probably was not true.” He’d see a lot more of it over the next six years before Bush tearfully booted him out.

W.’s dwindling cadre hit back hard. In Stockholm, Condi — labeled “sometimes too accommodating” by the author — scoffed: “The president was very clear about the reasons for going to war.”

She’s right. He was very clear about it being because of W.M.D. Then he was very clear about it being to rid the world of a tyrant. Then he was very clear about it being to spread democracy. When that didn’t work out, he was very clear about it being that we can’t leave because we can’t leave.

He was always wrong, but always very clear.

Former Bush donors now giving to Obama

WASHINGTON -- Beverly Fanning is among the campaign donors who'll be joining President Bush at a gala at Washington's Ford's Theater Sunday night, but she says that won't dissuade her from her current passion: volunteering for Barack Obama's presidential campaign.

She isn't the only convert. A McClatchy computer analysis, incomplete due to the difficulty matching data from various campaign finance reports, found that hundreds of people who gave at least $200 to Bush's 2004 campaign have donated to Obama.

Among them are Julie Nixon Eisenhower, the daughter of the late GOP President Richard Nixon and wife of late GOP President Dwight Eisenhower's grandson; Connie Ballmer, the wife of Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer; Ritchie Scaife, the estranged wife of conservative tycoon Richard Mellon Scaife and boxing promoter Don King.

Many of the donors are likely ''moderate Republicans or independents who are dissatisfied with the direction of the country now and are looking for change,'' said Anthony Corrado, a government professor at Colby College in Maine who specializes in campaign finance.

''There is a large bloc of Republicans, particularly economic conservatives, who just feel that the Republican Party in Washington completely let them down'' by failing to control spending and address other problems, Corrado said. ``The Republicans have really given these donors no reason to give.''

Lawyer Allen Larson of Yarmouthport, Mass., a political independent, contributed $2,000 to Bush's 2004 reelection campaign, but said he gave Obama the maximum $2,300 in hopes he can use his ''unique skills'' to rebuild fractured foreign alliances.

Larson said he's ''not anti-Iraq war,'' but he said that Bush promised to bring people together when he ran for president and has failed to do so, while Obama has demonstrated in his campaign ``that he has the ability to connect in ways that no other candidate can.''

While they represent a tiny slice of Bush's 2004 donors, he said, a shift of longtime Republicans committed enough to write checks reflects ''a real strain'' in the GOP.

Detroit attorney Michael Lavoie, a moderate Republican who backed Bush in 2000 and 2004 with $3,000, said he donated to a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time this year because Obama offers ''the greatest hope for healing divisions'' at home and abroad............

Strong Backing for Ex-Governor’s Appeal


Fifty-four former state attorneys general filed a brief Friday supporting the appeal of former Gov. Don Siegelman of Alabama, convicted two years ago on bribery and corruption charges in a prosecution depicted by his supporters as politically motivated.

Robert Abrams, a former New York attorney general and an author of the brief, said the document was unprecedented in bringing together a large number of former top state judicial officers, mostly Democrats but also some Republicans. Mr. Abrams said it reflected “strong feelings” that an injustice had been done to Mr. Siegelman, a Democrat who was freed on bond from a federal prison in March after serving nine months.

Last year, 44 of the former attorneys general petitioned Congress to look into the Siegelman case, which a House committee is now doing.

A year ago, Mr. Siegelman was sentenced to serve more than seven years in prison for appointing a wealthy businessman to a state health board in exchange for a $500,000 contribution to a campaign for a state lottery. Mr. Siegelman had intended the lottery money to go the state’s schools.

The former governor and his supporters have contended that the money was nothing more than a routine political contribution and that there was no agreement that the businessman, Richard M. Scrushy, would be re-appointed to a board on which he had previously served.

The new brief, filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta, largely restates those arguments.

“Completely absent from the trial record is any evidence that Governor Siegelman and Mr. Scrushy entered into an explicit agreement whereby Mr. Scrushy’s appointment to the Con board was conditioned upon Mr. Scrushy’s making the political contributions in question,” the brief says.

The government has insisted there was ample evidence of such an agreement, pointing to, among other things, trial testimony on a casual exchange between Mr. Siegelman and an aide on the possibility of the appointment.

Mr. Siegelman has pointed to the possible involvement of Karl Rove, the former White House political director, in his prosecution, citing the testimony of a former Republican political operative. The House Judiciary Committee has subpoenaed Mr. Rove, who has balked at giving sworn testimony on the matter.

Meanwhile, Mr. Siegelman, freed after the appeals court cited “substantial questions” in the case, is seeking to have his conviction thrown out.

“This number is extraordinary,” said Mr. Abrams, a Democrat who once headed a national association of state attorneys general. “It reflects strong feelings that there should not be inappropriate inhibitions on people’s rights to participate in the political process. The country’s got to guard against politically inspired prosecutions.”

Jeffrey A. Modisett, a former Indiana attorney general and a Democrat, said of the prosecution: “I think it’s deeply, deeply troubling, and I’m very saddened to say it’s indicative of the way too many investigations and prosecutions have taken place under this administration.”

BOB HERBERT: Coming Late to the Table


I guess it’s official now since we have a Bush administration insider, Scott McClellan, telling us that the war in Iraq was a monumental strategic blunder, and that it was sold cynically and deceitfully to a craven Congress and to a public still traumatized by the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Some of us already knew that, Scott. Some of us knew it at the time.

In his new book, “What Happened,” Mr. McClellan even tells us that wars “should only be waged when necessary.”

Gee, Scott, some of us have known that deep in our hearts all of our lives.

Even the most cursory reading of wartime history — take your pick: World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, any war — would convey the message that to engage in warfare unnecessarily is insane.

Reading Mr. McClellan’s book, I kept thinking of the many ordinary people — the service members, their relatives, and so many others — who have suffered so grievously from this misbegotten and thoroughly unnecessary war.

I remember talking with Tyler Hall, a baby-faced sergeant from Wasilla, Alaska, in 2004. “I was blown up in an I.E.D. attack,” he told me.

Sergeant Hall had three bones in his back broken. His arm was broken. He lost his left leg below the knee. He was badly burned. Part of his palate was destroyed. The lower part of his face had to be reconstructed. He suffered a brain injury. And so forth.

That is just the tiniest glimpse of the sort of thing that happens when a president refuses to heed the call of reason and instead, immaturely and unforgivably, sends his country’s brave young volunteers into a pointless conflagration.

More than 4,000 Americans have made the supreme sacrifice for this unnecessary war.

The New York Times and HBO jointly produced a documentary called “Last Letters Home,” a title that requires no explanation. One of those letters was to John Witmer from his daughter Michele, a 20-year-old Army specialist from New Berlin, Wis.

“Dear Daddy,” she wrote, “Happy Father’s Day. I love you so much and you can’t imagine how often I think of you. I hope you have lots of fun today and that the weather is lovely.”

I’ve talked to so many parents who lost children in the war. During an interview in her home in Philadelphia, Celeste Zappa told me about the moment she found out that her son, Sherwood Baker, a sergeant in the Pennsylvania National Guard, had been killed.

One evening in April 2004, Ms. Zappa noticed a man in a dress uniform with medals on his chest coming onto her porch. “He had a notebook in his hand,” she said. “I could see him very clearly even though it was dark and kind of raining. So I came out on the porch and I looked at him. And I knew, but I didn’t want to know.”

Sergeant Baker had only been in Baghdad six weeks when he was blown up in an explosion at a factory. An absurd footnote to his death was the fact that he was helping to provide security for the Iraq Survey Group, which was hunting for the nonexistent weapons of mass destruction.

The war in Iraq, which has taken 100,000 or more Iraqi lives, and which will cost the U.S. upwards of $3 trillion, and which continues indefinitely, is a scandal and a crime. Scott McClellan is a little late to be blowing the whistle on this outrage.

More important than his belated musings on the war, and his aggrieved take on the leaking of a C.I.A. operative’s identity, is Mr. McClellan’s warning about the “culture of deception” that has poisoned the very atmosphere of national politics and government.

“Washington has become the home of the permanent campaign,” he writes, “a game of endless politicking based on the manipulation of shades of truth, partial truths, twisting of the truth, and spin. Governing has become an appendage of politics rather than the other way around, with the electoral victory and the control of power as the sole measures of success.”

Mr. McClellan’s book landed like a bombshell on Washington not because of any startling revelations or staggering new insights, but because he was an insider who wrote unflatteringly about his boss.

Forget that this is supposed to be a government of, by and for the people, and that the truth is supposed to matter. Mr. McClellan is being denounced as a traitor by those who readily accept the culture of deception, and who believe that a government official’s primary loyalty is not to the people, but to power itself — in this case, to the president.

It’s exactly that kind of thinking that begets unnecessary wars.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Media Matters Daily Summary 05-30-08

Guest host on Beck suggests if Obama elected, political correctness will kill comedy: "[E]veryone will be so scared of saying anything"
On Glenn Beck, guest host Michael Graham discussed political correctness in comedy with comedian Nick DiPaolo. Asking DiPaolo if his "comedian friends" thought that "if we have a President Obama, comedy will be dead," Graham said, "[E]veryone will be so scared of saying anything," and added: "You'll be scared to order blackened red fish, because you're afraid that an African-American or Native American will beat the crap out of you for it." Read More

Boortz: "Muslims, making tortillas? ... [W]ith all of the illegal Mexicans in this country, we can't find some Mexicans to make those tortillas?"
While discussing reports that six Muslim women were fired from a Minnesota tortilla factory because of dress code violations, Neal Boortz asked: "Muslims, making tortillas? You know, this world is really screwed up when Muslims are making our tortillas, folks." He added: "I mean, with all of the illegal Mexicans in this country, we can't find some Mexicans to make those tortillas? Read More

Krauthammer ignored McCain's solicitation of Hagee endorsement, saying, "[C]andidates are endorsed by hundreds of people"
On Special Report, Charles Krauthammer said, "The Obama campaign and the Democrats will say that [Sen. John] McCain has his Reverend [John] Hagee, and Obama has his reverend, and they disavowed them, and they're sort of morally equivalent." Krauthammer continued, "The obvious counterargument, which the Democrats refuse to accept, is that presidential candidates are endorsed by hundreds of people, half of whom they don't know, some of whom are scoundrels and rogues whom they then dissociate themselves from." But McCain, by his own admission, actively sought Hagee's endorsement, despite Hagee's numerous controversial comments. Read More

LA Times ignored McCain's alleged role in Keating Five scandal
In an article about Sen. John McCain's early political career, the Los Angeles Times' Richard A. Serrano described Charles H. Keating Jr. as "[a]nother influential friend" who "raised more than $100,000 for McCain." Serrano noted that Keating eventually went to prison for his role in a savings and loan scandal, but did not mention McCain's own alleged involvement in the scandal, or that Keating's relationship to McCain reportedly extended beyond simply raising money for his congressional campaigns. Read More

Limbaugh called Brazilian indigenous tribe "savages"
On the May 30 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh referred to "[o]ne of ... South America's few remaining uncontacted indigenous tribes" -- recently photographed by the Brazilian government from an airplane -- as "these savages." Recounting the story, Limbaugh said, "[T]hey've spotted an isolated tribe in Brazil. An airplane flew over this hut, this thatch roof hut or something, and these savages are body painted in red and they're trying to shoot the airplane down with bows and arrows." Read More

Cavuto did not challenge Vets for Freedom's false claim that Obama has "never met with General Petraeus"
Fox News' Neil Cavuto left unchallenged a false claim by Vets For Freedom chairman Pete Hegseth that Sen. Barack Obama has "never met with General Petraeus." In fact, as recently as April 8, Obama questioned Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker at a Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing on Iraq. Read More

While Mike Allen equated critics of White House press corps' war coverage with "left-wing haters," ex-colleague Dobbs wrote, "We failed you"
On Mike Gallagher's radio show, Mike Allen said of Scott McClellan's new book: "Scott does adopt the vocabulary, rhetoric of the left-wing haters. Can you believe it in here he says that the White House press corps was too deferential to the administration ... in the run-up to the war?" By contrast, two of Allen's former colleagues echoed the media criticism of Allen's so-called "left-wing haters." Michael Dobbs asserted that "on the question of whether the American press did its job properly during the run-up to the Iraq war, it is difficult to argue with his conclusions. We failed you." Similarly, Howard Kurtz stated that print coverage during the run-up to the war was "flawed," adding: "It was only when violence surged in Iraq and public opinion began turning against the war that ABC, CBS, NBC, and the rest of the media turned more skeptical." Read More

Confronted on GMA with "stereotypical bitch" statement about Clinton, Beck said "probably a better word was 'nag' "
On Good Morning America, ABC News' Claire Shipman confronted Glenn Beck with his remark in March 2007 that Sen. Hillary Clinton is "the stereotypical bitch." Beck responded, in part, that "probably a better word was 'nag.' " Read More

AP reported McCain's "ready response" to Obama on health care, but not that it was false
The Associated Press' Liz Sidoti reported without challenge several attacks Sen. John McCain recently made against Sen. Barack Obama, including what Sidoti referred to as his "ready response" that a "significant difference between myself and Senator Obama" is that "I am not going to dictate that the government decide what your health care is going to be." In fact, Obama's plan does not allow for government control of health care; rather, it calls for individuals to choose their own insurance. Read More

Will pundits who blasted Howard Dean in 2003 over troop-numbers response question McCain's fitness following his Iraq troop-level falsehood?
During a May 29 campaign appearance, Sen. John McCain falsely stated that U.S. troops in Iraq "have [been] drawn down to pre-surge levels." As the Associated Press reported, "[T]here are 17 brigades in Iraq" right now, as opposed to the 15 brigades in place before the increase. In 2003, then-Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean was criticized in the media for his response to a question about the number of active-duty soldiers, with Tim Russert and others questioning his fitness to be commander in chief. In light of McCain's troop-surge falsehood and numerous national security gaffes, will the media similarly question his suitability to be commander in chief? Read More

Upbeat CIA assessment on Al-Qaeda challenged

AFP - CIA director Michael Hayden came under stiff challenge for portraying Al-Qaeda as on the defensive after global setbacks, even in its safe havens along the Afghan-Pakistani border.

Senate Intelligence Committee chairman, Jay Rockefeller, said Hayden's upbeat appraisal was not consistent with intelligence assessments provided his committee over the past year.

"In fact, I have seen nothing, including classified intelligence reporting, that would lead me to this conclusion," Rockefeller said in a scathing letter to the Central Intelligence Agency director.

Hayden's assessment -- one of the most positive since the September 11, 2001 attacks -- comes less than a year after US intelligence warnings that Al-Qaeda had regrouped in the border area and was plotting attacks against the west.

"On balance, we are doing pretty well," Hayden told the Washington Post in an interview published Friday, while warning that Al-Qaeda remains a serious threat.

The list of accomplishments, he said, includes: "Near strategic defeat of Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Near strategic defeat for Al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia. Significant setbacks for Al-Qaeda globally -- and here I'm going to use the word 'ideologically' -- as a lot of the Islamic world pushes back on their form of Islam."

But Rockefeller cited a litany of public statements by top intelligence officials over the past year that emphasized Al-Qaeda's regeneration in the Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

Earlier this month, the acting director the National Counter-Terrorism Center, Michael Leiter, told lawmakers that US efforts had not succeeded in stopping "core Al-Qaeda plotting."

"We're better at disrupting it, but we have not disrupted the senior leadership that exists in the FATA, and we have also not stopped the organization from promulgating a message which has successfully gained them more recruits," Rockefeller quoted him as saying.

Bruce Riedel, a longtime former CIA analyst now with Brookings Institution, called Hayden's remarks "a pretty large dish of wishful thinking."

"I think that the administration very much wants to paint a picture of success, particularly as it gets close to the end of eight years," he said.

"So I'm not surprised we're seeing an effort to portray it in the most optimistic possible way," he said.

Al-Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri remain at large, and the US intelligence estimate in July 2007 said Al-Qaeda had regenerated a new cadre of leadership in Pakistan.

Tom Sanderson, a terrorism expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Hayden appeared to be drawing on undisclosed evidence that shows Al-Qaeda's leadership is reeling.

"Nonetheless, it does take people by surprise, even people who are monitoring this, that there is such a stark difference between the assessment last year, with significant though not overwhelming tactical successes in the interim," he said.

Hayden said Al-Qaeda has lost three senior officers this year, including two who succumbed "to violence." The Post said that was an apparent references to strikes by unmanned Predator aircraft that killed Abu Laith al-Libi and Abu Sulayman al-Jazairi.

"The ability to kill and capture key members of Al-Qaeda continues, and keeps them off balance -- even in their best safe haven along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border," he said.

Hayden said bin Laden is also losing the battle for hearts and minds in the Islamic world and has largely lost his ability to exploit the Iraq war to recruit new members.

Riedel said that while al-Qaeda has suffered serious setbacks in Iraq and Saudi Arabia, there was a danger in "glossing over some of Al-Qaeda's remarkable strengths."

"The safe haven that they have developed in Pakistan over the last two or three years is getting bigger, not smaller, and that safe haven is the most important thing for Al-Qaeda," he said.

It was from Pakistan that Al-Qaeda launched attacks in western Europe, including the 2005 attacks on the London underground and a 2006 attempt to bring down 10 jumbo jets over the Atlantic.

A posting on jihadist website al-Hesbah threatened an attack bigger than September 11 before President George W. Bush leaves office, according to the SITE intel group.

McCain Withheld Controversial Abramoff Email

Sam Stein

On the stump, Sen. John McCain often cites his work tackling the excesses of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff as evidence of his sturdy ethical compass.

A little-known document, however, shows that McCain may have taken steps to protect his Republican colleagues from the scope of his investigation.

In the 2006 Senate report concerning Abramoff's activities, which McCain spearheaded, the Arizona Republican conspicuously left out information detailing how Alabama Gov. Bob Riley was targeted by Abramoff's influence peddling scheme. Riley, a Republican, won election in November 2002, and was reelected in 2006.

In a December 2002 email obtained by the Huffington Post -- which McCain and his staff had access to prior to the issuance of his report -- Abramoff explains to an aide what he would like to see Riley do in return for the "help" he received from Abramoff's tribal clients.

An official with the Mississippi Choctaws "definitely wants Riley to shut down the Poarch Creek operation," Abramoff wrote, "including his announcing that anyone caught gambling there can't qualify for a state contract or something like that."

The note showed not only the reach of Abramoff, but raised questions about Riley's victory in what was the closest gubernatorial election in Alabama history.

And yet, despite the implications of the information, McCain and the Senate Indian Affairs Committee sat on the controversial portion of the email. According to an official familiar with the investigation, McCain also subsequently refused to make the email public after the report was released.

There was a brief footnote in the report that quoted William Worfel, former vice chairman of the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, saying that Abramoff told the chief of a Mississippi tribe to spend $13 million "to get the governor of Alabama elected to keep gaming out of Alabama so it wouldn't hurt ... his market in Mississippi."

But Riley's name and the details of what was being asked of him were not mentioned once in the 373-page document.

Indeed, as the Associated Press noted in 2006, McCain stayed deliberately agnostic as to Riley's involvement. "The committee headed by Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, used the ellipses and did not give the full quotation," the AP said of Worfel's quote. "It also did not say in its report whether it thought the comment was fact or fiction."

Officials with Riley's office pointed to a statement from the Choctaw tribe alleging that reports of their contributions to Riley were "outlandish and patently false." As for the governor's opposition to gambling, Riley's press secretary said he has "consistently [opposed gambling] before he decided to run for governor and since. Anyone who would suggest his long-standing opposition to gambling is tied to anything other than personal conviction would be mistaken."

McCain's campaign did not return request for comment. For critics, however, the senator's decision not to include the email in his report underscores not only a glaring shortcoming of his investigation, but also a chink in his political veneer. Indeed, they claim, the Arizona Republican often takes overt steps to protect Republican colleagues from his anti-corruption dragnets.

"Although Sen. McCain has long bragged of his role in the Abramoff investigation, he let Tom DeLay and the other members of Congress who were doing Abramoff's bidding completely off the hook. The sole exception was Rep. Bob Ney, who served time in prison," Melanie Sloan, Executive Director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics In Washington told the Huffington Post recently. "Sen. McCain knew what his colleagues were up to, he chose to take the easier path and give them a free pass."

Faced with this criticism in the past, McCain has claimed that it was not his responsibility to "involve ourselves in the ethics process [of senators]." Others have defended McCain by pointing out that the committee approved the report by a bipartisan 13-0 vote.

But it is hard to ignore the political consequences of not exposing the Abramoff-Riley connection.

Just prior to the 2002 election, word leaked that federal prosecutors in Alabama -- appointed by President Bush -- were investigating allegations that then Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman had offered a state-appointed position in exchange for money to help an education program. Siegelman ultimately lost to Riley by less than 3,000 votes.

"It obviously didn't help," said Dr. Sam Fisher, a political science professor at the University of South Alabama, of the leaks. "And there were certain ethical issues about how that was done. It was definitely a close race and giving a close race any negative thing can make a difference."

That Riley had taken a position favored by Abramoff, whether coincidentally or not, wasn't known at the time. While Abramoff's aide, Michael Scanlon (a former aide to Riley), gave $100,000 to Riley's campaign, Riley had previously opposed gambling in the state. In the late 1990s, he signed a fundraising letter lobbying against the building of a casino within Alabama. "We need your help today," the letter, which reflected another Abramoff objective, read, "to prevent the Poarch Creek Indians from building casinos in Alabama."

Siegelman soldiered on after the 2002 loss, running again for governor against Riley in 2006. By then, the extent of Riley's connection to Abramoff was still unknown. Moreover, Siegelman was still under investigation for allegations of bribery. The inquiry, detailed in an extensive 60 Minutes report last night, raised many ethical red flags, mainly over political interference from the Bush administration, specifically Karl Rove. On June 22, McCain issued his Senate report without mentioning Riley's name. And one week later, Siegelman was convicted without the Abramoff email ever being made public.

"If you had a document that showed something that had not been reported about the financial reports and the direct expectations for that money," said a source familiar with the case, "that certainly would have called into attention the government's case against Siegelman."

See the Abramoff Email

McCain Received $100,000 From Firm Of Abramoff Notoriety

Sam Stein

On the stump, Sen. John McCain has touted his work tackling the excesses of the lobbying industry to bolster his reputation as a "maverick" reformer.

"Ask Jack Abramoff if I'm an insider in Washington," McCain often contends. "You'd probably have to go during visiting hours in the prison, and he'll tell you and his lobbyist cronies of the change I made there."

But how much change did McCain actually effect? And is he all that removed from Washington's special interests?

A review of campaign finance filings shows that the Arizona Republican has accepted more than $100,000 in donations from employees of Greenberg Traurig, the very firm where Abramoff once reigned.

Those donations include several thousand dollars from registered lobbyists who represent, or have represented, businesses such as NewsCorp, Rupert Murdoch's media empire; Spi Spirits, a Cyprus based company that has fought with the Russian government for the rights to the Stolichnaya vodka brand name; El Paso Corp, a major energy company; General Motors; and the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition, a group of businesses and trade associations "concerned" about the shortage of lesser skilled and unskilled labor.

All told, McCain has received more than $400,000 from lobbying firms, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. And among his major fundraisers ("bundlers") 59 have been identified as lobbyists by the non-profit organization Public Citizen.

There is nothing illegal about these contributions. But campaign watchdog groups and McCain's opponents view them as more than just a reflection of political irony. McCain, they argue, has on occasion been far more bark than bite when it comes to taking on lobbying interests.

Indeed, this past week, the Democratic National Committee put together a memo challenging McCain's assertion that he was a corruption hound while investigating Abramoff. The document and some government watchdog groups note that while McCain put pressure on Jack Abramoff and several prominent Republicans, he also went out of his way during the Indian Affairs Committee hearing to spare his congressional colleagues.

"Although Sen. McCain has long bragged of his role in the Abramoff investigation, he let Tom DeLay and the other members of Congress who were doing Abramoff's bidding completely off the hook. The sole exception was Rep. Bob Ney, who is now serving time in prison," said Melanie Sloan, Executive Director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics In Washington. "Sen. McCain knew what his colleagues were up to, he chose to take the easier path and give them a free pass."

Neither McCain's office nor the Indian Affairs Committee returned requests for comment. In the past, McCain has claimed that it was not his responsibility to "involve ourselves in the ethics process [of Senators]." A source close to the investigation, who asked to speak anonymously so as to maintain his political neutrality, defended McCain's work as proper and effective. So did Paul Miller, the director of the American League of Lobbyists at the time of the Abramoff hearings.

"I think if you look at the report that Senator McCain and his committee, it was a bipartisan 16-0 vote to approve that report," Miller told the Huffington Post. "Yes, Bob Ney was the focus in some of these hearings, because he was one with the most evidence [against him]. But Senator McCain has not shied from taking anyone on, on this issue."

At well over 350 pages, the report was thorough, exploring layers of corruption that had allowed Indian tribes to part with tens of millions of dollars in search of political favors. But it did not include the names of prominent U.S. Senators with Abramoff ties, such as Conrad Burns and David Vitter, or for that matter Bush strategist Karl Rove, who accepted gifts from and met with Abramoff clients.

And while the report pushed for greater transparency and accountability, towards the end, McCain and the other authors seemingly put the onus for change not on Congress itself, but on the tribes that Abramoff bilked.

"Although the Committee does not believe that additional federal legislation is required to address Abramoff and Scanlon's misconduct," the report reads, "it does recommend that tribes consider adopting their own laws to help prevent a similar tragedy... The Committee strongly encourages those tribes that have not adopted such [good-government] laws and regulations to enact law and regulations that embrace the principles contained in the following recommendations. The Committee notes, however, that it is not recommending that Congress enact legislation mandating tribes to enact laws dealing with these subjects..."

Pakistani Bomb Scientist Breaks Silence - Khan


The Pakistani scientist blamed for running a rogue network that sold nuclear secrets to North Korea, Iran and Libya has recanted his confession, telling ABC News the Pakistani government and President Perez Musharraf forced him to be a "scapegoat" for the "national interest."

"I don't stand by that," Dr. A.Q. Khan told ABC News in a 35-minute phone interview from his home in Islamabad, where he has been detained since "confessing" that he ran the nuclear network on his own, without the knowledge of the Pakistani government. The interview will be broadcast Friday on "World News With Charles Gibson."

It was his first interview with an American journalist in a series of telephone interviews he has granted this week, marking the 10th anniversary of Pakistan's first test of a nuclear bomb.

"People were asking a lot of questions, so I said, 'OK. Let me give an answer,'" Khan told ABC News early Friday, Pakistan time......

McCain (Mis)Speaks

How the Senator won the war of words in Iraq (again and again and again).

The Iraq war was a disaster for Iraq, a disaster for the United States, a disaster for the Middle East, a disaster for the world community, but most of all, it was a disaster for the experts.

They were wrong about its difficulty. (It was to be either "a cakewalk" or "a walk in the park" - take your pick). They were wrong about how our troops would be greeted ("as liberators" said Vice President Dick Cheney on September, 14, 2003; "with kites and boom boxes" wrote Professor Fouad Ajami on October 7, 2002). They were wrong about weapons of mass destruction. ("Iraq not only hasn't accounted for its weapons of mass destruction but without a doubt still retains them. Only a fool - or possibly a Frenchman - could conclude otherwise" wrote Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen on February 6, 2003.) They were wrong about how many troops would be needed. ("It's hard to conceive that it would take more forces to provide stability in post-Saddam Iraq than it would take to conduct a war itself," said Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz on Feb 27, 2003.)

They were wrong about the number of casualties. ("... we're not going to have any casualties," said President George W. Bush in March, 2003). They were wrong about how much it would cost. ("The costs of any intervention would be very small," according to White House economic advisor Glenn Hubbard on October 4, 2002). They were wrong about how long it would last. ("It isn't going to be over in 24 hours, but it isn't going to be months either," claimed Richard Perle on July 11, 2002.) They were wrong about the "sinister nexus between Iraq and the Al Qaeda terrorist network," as Secretary of State Colin Powell put it in addressing the UN Security Council on February 5, 2003. They were wrong about the likelihood of Iraq descending into civil war. ("[There is] a broad Iraqi consensus favoring the idea of pluralism," insisted William Kristol and Robert Kagan on March 22, 2004.) There was, in fact, very little they were not wrong about.

Who are we to make such charges? Not to be boastful, we are, respectfully, the CEO and president - the founders, as it were - of the Institute of Expertology, which has been surveying expert opinion for almost 25 years. It is true that our initial study, The Experts Speak: The Definitive Guide to Authoritative Misinformation, came under attack back in 1990 because, at the time, we failed to find a single expert who was right, although we readily conceded that, in statistical theory, it was possible that the experts were right as much as half the time. It just proved exceedingly difficult to find evidence of that other 50%.

In "Mission Accomplished!," our new study of the experts - people who, by virtue of their official status, formal title, academic degree, professional license, public office, journalistic beat, quantity of publications, experience, and/or use of highly technical jargon, are presumed to know what they are talking about - we once again came under attack from critics who claimed that our failure to include any misstatements by Senator Barack Obama betrayed a political bias. These allegations were quickly refuted. Everybody knows that Obama has no experience and therefore does not qualify as an expert. Senator Hillary Clinton, who voted to authorize the Iraq war, did make the cut, but the presidential candidate-cum-expert of genuine interest is Senator John McCain.

At first, we were impressed by the senator's statements in Republican primary debates about how he had actually opposed the Bush administration's conduct of the war from the start. As he told CNN's Kiran Chetry, in August of 2007, "I was the greatest critic of the initial four years, three-and-a half years."

Well, having dug into those missing years a bit, here, for the record, is what we found to be Senator McCain's typical responses to some of the key questions posed above:

How would American troops be greeted?: "I believe that the Iraqi people will greet us as liberators." (March 20, 2003)

Did Saddam Hussein have a nuclear program that posed an imminent threat to the United States?: "Saddam Hussein is on a crash course to construct a nuclear weapon." (October 10, 2002)

Will a war with Iraq be long or short?: "This conflict is going to be relatively short." (March 23, 2003)

How is the war going?: "I would argue that the next three to six months will be critical." (September 10, 2003)

How is it going (almost two months later, from the war's "greatest critic")? "I think the initial phases of [the war] were so spectacularly successful that it took us all by surprise." (October 31, 2003)

Is this war really necessary?: "Only the most deluded of us could doubt the necessity of this war." (August 30, 2004)

How is it going? (Recurring question for the war's "greatest critic"): "We will probably see significant progress in the next six months to a year." (December 4, 2005)

Will the President's "surge" of troops into Baghdad and surrounding areas that the senator had been calling for finally make the difference?: "We can know fairly well [whether the surge is working] in a few months." (February 4, 2007)

In April 2007, accompanied by several members of Congress, Senator McCain made a surprise visit to Baghdad to assess the surge, had a "stroll" through a market in the Iraqi capital, and then held a news conference where he discussed what he found: "Things are better and there are encouraging signs. I've been here many times over the years. Never have I been able to drive from the airport. Never have I been able to go out into the city as I was today. The American people are not getting the full picture of what's happening here today."

The next evening, NBC's Nightly News provided further details on that "stroll." The Senator and Congressmen were accompanied by "100 American soldiers, with three Blackhawk helicopters, and two Apache gunships overhead." (In addition, the network said, still photographs provided by the military revealed that McCain and his colleagues had been wearing body armor during their entire stroll.)

Reality check: Five months later, on September 12, 2007, McCain again observed that "the next six months are going to be critical."

Six months later, McCain claimed that the U.S. had finally reached a genuine turning point in Iraq and that his faith in the surge was (once again) vindicated. On March 17, 2008, he reported: "We are succeeding. And we can succeed and American casualties overall are way down. That is in direct contradiction to predictions made by the Democrats and particularly Senator Obama and Senator Clinton. I will be glad to stake my campaign on the fact that this has succeeded and the American people appreciate it."

Well, we at the Institute of Expertology appreciate it, too, and we are, of course, pleased to record the Senator's ever-renewable faith in this latest turning point. As scrupulous scholars, however, we do feel compelled to add that the Senator is not the first to detect such a turning point. Indeed on July 7, 2003, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith said: "This month will be a political turning point for Iraq."

On November 6, 2003, President Bush observed: "We've reached another great turning point ..." On June 16, 2004, President Bush claimed: "A turning point will come two weeks from today."

That same day the Montreal Gazette headlined an editorial by neoconservative columnist Max Boot: "Despite the Negative Reaction by Much of the Media, U.S. Marines Did a Good Job in Fallujah, a Battle That Might Prove a Turning Point." On February 2, 2005, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld stated: "On January 30th in Iraq, the world witnessed an important moment in the global struggle against tyranny, a moment that historians might one day call a major turning point." On March 7, 2005 William Kristol wrote: "[T]he Iraqi election of January 30, 2005 ... will turn out to have been a genuine turning point."

On December 18, as that year ended, Vice President Cheney, while conceding that "the level of violence has continued," assured ABC News: "I do believe that when we look back on this period of time, 2005 will have been the turning point ..."

The Institute continued to record turning points in remarkable numbers in 2006, and 2007, but perhaps in 2008 the surge will, indeed, turn out to be the turning point to end all turning points. After all, Senator McCain has staked his campaign on it.

9 Articles about John McCain

John McCain thinks there is a military solution in Iraq:
"McCain Defends Bush's Iraq Strategy," by Lolita C. Baldor, Associated Press, Jan. 12, 2007.

John McCain sees a very long war in Iraq:
"McCain in NH: Would Be 'Fine' To Keep Troops in Iraq for 'A Hundred Years' ," by David Corn, Mother Jones Magazine, January 3, 2008.

John McCain opposes a new GI Bill:
"Senate passes expanded GI bill despite Bush, McCain opposition," by Alex Koppelman,, May 22, 2008.

John McCain wants to ban abortion:
"McCain says overturn the law that legalized abortion," USA Today, February 19, 2007.

John McCain supports NAFTA:
"McCain blasts Obama's and Clinton's attacks on NAFTA," Los Angeles Times, March 1, 2008.

John McCain wants to privatize Social Security:
"Bush, McCain plug Social Security," by Peter Wallsten, Los Angeles Times, March 23, 2005.

John McCain opposed SCHIP:
"McCain: Bush right to veto kids health insurance expansion," CNN, October 3, 2007.

John McCain opposed raising the minimum wage:
"John McCain Votes to Filibuster Minimum Wage Hike," AOL News, January 24th 2007.

John McCain relies on lobbyists:
"McCain housing policy shaped by lobbyist," MSNBC, May 27, 2008.

McClellan: 'Happy' to testify about White House

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said Friday he would be willing to comply with a possible congressional subpoena to discuss the administration's handling of pre-war intelligence, telling CNN's Wolf Blitzer he'd be "happy to talk if I am asked to testify."

He also said he did not believe he needed to apologize to President Bush, and did not think the president would be reading his book.1”I don't expect we'll have a conversation (with Bush) any time soon,” he said.

“I don't need to ask forgiveness from him. My comments are sincere and honest and absolutely the truth from my perspective.”

Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Florida, said Friday McClellan, who left the White House in 2006, would be able to provide valuable insight into a number of issues under investigation by the House Judiciary Committee.

The committee is looking into the use of prewar intelligence, whether politics was behind the firing of eight U.S. attorneys in 2006 and the leaking of CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson's identity, Wexler, a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, said.

In the book, McClellan says President Bush told him he had authorized the leaking of Plame Wilson's identity to the press.

McCain fundraiser sued by partner in lucrative contract with U.S. military


A little-noticed civil lawsuit in Florida is shining a light on an unusual but hugely profitable Pentagon contract to ship millions of gallons of aviation fuel to U.S. bases in Iraq through the kingdom of Jordan.

The deal involves a cast of influential characters, including the king of Jordan’s brother-in-law, who is suing Harry Sargeant III, a top Florida-based fundraiser for Sen. John McCain's presidential bid.

Sargeant is a Florida businessman and former Marine Corps pilot hailed by the McCain campaign as a "Trailblazer" for raising $100,000 or more in political donations. Through a company called International Oil Trading Co., or IOTC, Sargeant and a partner have a lucrative contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars per year to supply American military forces in Iraq with fuel, especially aviation fuel. The firm ships the fuel to Jordan and then trucks it across the border, where U.S. forces escort the convoys to air bases.

Sargeant’s IOTC has experienced phenomenal growth since the Iraq war started, transforming itself from an unknown business in 2004 to a major Pentagon contractor in only a few years.

The way the American military structured the deal, only a company with the blessing of the Jordanian government could win the contract. A bidder was required to have a Jordanian government "Letter of Authorization," and only IOTC received such a letter.

The lawsuit against Sargeant was filed April 10 in Florida state court by Mohammad Al-Saleh, who is married to the half sister of King Abdullah of Jordan. Al-Saleh’s suit says he essentially brokered Sargeant's contract by arranging the approval and cooperation of the Jordanian government, using his "connections and influence." The lawsuit alleges that Al-Saleh arranged for the Jordanian government “to issue a letter of authorization to IOTC.” Al-Saleh’s lawyer, Jonathan Frank, said, “Were it not for my client, they would not have been able to get that letter.”..........

Friday's Sex News 05-30-08

  • Erotic LA coming soon

    The 12th Annual Erotica LA show takes place 6-8th June, and describes itself as a sexuality and lifestyle exposition [Web site]

  • Nude kids, art or porn?

    Art photos of nude kids are considered by some to be pornographic, or sexualized, or just artist.

  • Hungary, European porn capital

    Budapest claims to be one of Europe's top porn capitals, and it is estimated that the business generates 0.5% of the country's GDP

  • How porn affects a domain name

    When a company's domain was hijacked last month, the number of visitors went through the roof

  • Swedish girls more gay

    A survey of 440 Swedish 17-year-olds has found that over three times as many girls have had sex with someone of the same sex, than boys

  • Eat your way to great sex

    We're not talking aphrodisiacs, but certain components of certain foods, such as Omega-3 fatty acids, can improve your sexual health

  • Tourist strips at wolf whistle

    An Israeli tourist in New Zealand, stripped naked in response to wolf whistles from workers

  • Circumcision and gay men

    New research assesses the sexual experience of circumcised versus uncircumcised gay men

  • Sex and wounded war vets

    There is not much discussion concerning the lost of sexual ability of war veterans. B.J. Jackson and his wife plan to highlight the issue

  • My underage sex

    Sha'Dawn Young remembers what it was like to have sex underage, and why some girls do

  • Masturbation records broken

    Last Sunday's masturbate-a-thon broke several records, including the most male orgasms (31), and the longest time masturbating: female 7 hours, and male 8 hours 40 minutes [photos]

  • Is pornography poison?

    Betty Caplan criticizes Philip Ochieng for his vague pronouncement that porn is poison

  • America Unzipped author talks back

    Brian Alexander, the author of "America Unzipped: In Search of Sex and Satisfaction", answers readers' questions

  • Self-circumcision: the problems

    If you are thinking of circumcising yourself, The Journal of Sexual Medicine explains some complications that might arise

  • Oral sex kids not virgins

    New research shows that most kids who have oral sex are not virgins

  • Do we want a sex drive

    As scientists continue to find a way to improve people's lost of libido, Michele Hanson asks whether we all want a higher sex drive

  • 50 and still going strong

    Actress Kim Cattrall's character turns 50 in the new Sex in the City movie, but feels it makes a positive statement about middle age and sex

  • Californian considers porn tax

    California state lawmakers are considering a 25% tax on the production and sale of porn films

  • UK sex toy market increasing

    It is estimated that 2.5-million sex toys are sold in the UK each year, and growing at the rate of 20% per year

  • Australia ponders teen nude photos

    Nude teen photos by photographer Bill Henson have been removed from a number of locations, as Australia considers whether they are pornographic

  • South African sex taboo

    In many parts of South Africa, it is taboo for kids to talk about sex with their parents.

  • Topless ban stays

    Sweden has decided not to lift a ban on topless bathing for fears it could cause anorexia

  • No nose saves penis

    New research has found that U.S. policemen who ride bicycles, are more like to have penis-related health problems

  • Is extramarital sex so wrong?

    Philip Weiss wonders whether sex outside marriage is always wrong

  • Shall we try swinging?

    Britain's Sun newspaper gives advice on swinging, and the fantasy doesn't always match the reality

  • How to make an ostrich orgasm

    Scientists have developed a way to masturbate a male ostrich and collects its semen, without the usual dangers

  • Swedish mums want kinky sex

    A new survey of Swedish mothers has found that 60% want more sex, 29% own a dildo, 28% have looked at online porn, 39% have had anal sex, and 7% have been unfaithful

  • Chocolate female orgasms

    The jury is out as to why women have orgasms at all, and a woman explains how chocolate can give her a small orgasm

  • 17 kids, but great sex

    Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar have 17 children, from which quite a bit can be deduced about their sex life

  • Oral sex kids a myth?

    Reports that youngster regularly perform oral sex in lieu of sex, may be greatly exaggerated

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Europe fuel protests spread wider


Fuel protests triggered by rising oil prices have spread to more countries across Europe, with thousands of fishermen on strike.

In Spain, Europe's largest fish producer, the action is expected to bring the industry to a halt.

Fishermen in France have been protesting for weeks, and their counterparts in Portugal, Belgium and Italy are also joining the campaign.

UK and Dutch lorry-drivers held similar protests earlier this week.

The strike reflects anger at the rising cost of fuel, with oil prices above $130 (83.40 euros; £65.80) a barrel.

Trade unions say the cost of diesel has become prohibitively high, after rising 300% over the past five years.

Wholesale fish prices, meanwhile, have been static for 20 years.

The European Commission has promised immediate help to restructure Europe's fishing industry, but it says subsidies to offset rising fuel costs would be illegal.

Burning tyres

Several thousand fishermen are expected to march on the agriculture ministry in Madrid, where they have promised to hand out 20 tonnes of fresh fish to members of the public in an attempt to draw attention to their ailing industry.

Spanish trade unions also say they could blockade ports, a day after French police forcibly removed fishermen blocking oil depots.

"We must mobilise like the French and if we have to block ports, we'll block them," Xavier Aboy, a union leader in the north-western Galicia region, told AFP news agency.

In France the authorities have offered 100m euros in aid, prompting some fishermen to return to work.

At dawn on Thursday, French riot police cleared protesters from the Mediterranean oil depots of Fos-sur-Mer and Lavera, and a Total refinery at La Mede in the south.

On the same day police clashed with protesters who burned tyres in the Atlantic port of Lorient, while hundreds protested in Quimper, Brittany.

Hundreds of farmers have also been blocking oil terminals near the cities of Dijon and Toulouse.

In Italy, at least 5,000 fishermen are expected to strike, the main trade union Federcoopesca says. The government has already refused emergency aid to the industry.

Bulgarian bus drivers are also planning a one-hour strike on Friday, following protests by lorry-drivers on Wednesday.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Carville: We Want a Hostage Crisis Because Our Feelings Are Hurt

By Al Giordano

(Video courtesy of The Jed Report.)

Aw, James, here’s some advice from your old pal, Al: buck up! For a guy who talks big and postures aloud about how many “cojones” each candidate supposedly has, you’re being a big crybaby now.

So this is what it all comes down to: bratty threats to to try to hold the Democratic nomination hostage (lame threats, by the way, that can’t be effectively carried out) all because their peewings are hurt over the pushback on Senator Clinton’s inappropriate comments - made on a live Internet TV stream last Friday - that invoked the Robert Kennedy assassination of 1968.

Pushed by veteran reporter Diane Sawyer about his previous statements that the nominee will be settled by June 3, Clinton surrogate Carville moved the goal posts, saying that the negative reactions to Senator Clinton’s RFK comments were stoked by the Obama campaign and that “it was hurtful to me,” therefore implying that because of hurt feelings the Democratic Party shouldn’t have a nominee:.......................................

Gingrich quips Bush should have allowed some 'reminder' attacks


During an appearance at a Long Island bookstore last month, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich was asked by a member of the audience why the United States has not been hit again since 9/11.

"I honestly don't know," Gingrich replied. "I would have expected another attack. I was very, very worried ... when we had the sniper attacks, because the sniper attacks were psychologically so frightening. ... I was amazed that the bad guys didn't figure out how to send ten or twelve sniper teams."

"This is ... one of the great tragedies of the Bush administration," Gingrich continued. "The more successful they've been at intercepting and stopping bad guys, the less proof there is that we're in danger. And therefore, the better they've done at making sure there isn't an attack, the easier it is to say, 'Well, there never was going to be an attack anyway.' And it's almost like they should every once in a while have allowed an attack to get through just to remind us.".........

BIDEN Issues Statement Following McCain Speech on Nuclear Security

Washington, DC Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-DE) issued the following statement today following Senator McCain’s speech on nuclear security:

“Senator McCain’s speech today contains many ideas that suggest a welcome departure from the Bush Administration’s hostility to arms control. His proposals to significantly reduce our deployed nuclear arsenal, to pursue a new arms control agreement with Russia and maintain the kinds of verification measures that have served us well in the START Treaty, to reconsider the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, to cancel the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator, and to negotiate a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty are all important components of a sensible nuclear strategy. His emphasis on multilateral cooperation is an important contrast to the unilateral approach often taken by President Bush.

“But the speech contains critical gaps: it tells us nothing about how he would deal with the threats posed by the nuclear ambitions of North Korea and Iran. He says that ‘[m]any believe all we need to do to end the nuclear programs of hostile governments is have our president talk with leaders in Pyongyang and Tehran, as if we haven’t tried talking to these governments repeatedly over the past two decades. Others think military action alone can achieve our goals, as if military actions were not fraught with their own terrible risks.’

“In North Korea, the President’s tough minded negotiations – after years of policy stalemate – are yielding results. Does his statement imply that the President is wrong to engage in these talks? If Senator McCain thinks it is useless to negotiate with Pyongyang, then that would be a serious setback to American security. But if he agrees that talks can be productive, then his position on Iran makes no sense. Last year, President Bush sent a personal letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il, one of the world’s worst tyrants, promising normalized relations in response to certain actions by North Korea. How can we engage in direct communication with him but refuse to talk to the government in Tehran?

“There are three options in Iran – talk, maintain the status quo, or go to war. Does Senator McCain’s statement mean that he has ruled out talking to Iran? If so, we're stuck with the ineffectual Bush policy that has allowed Iran to get closer to the bomb, or military strikes that could quickly spiral out of control.

“Finally, Senator McCain’s constructive commitment to cooperate with Russia on nuclear non-proliferation will surely be hampered by his proposal to eject Russia from the G-8.”