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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

McCain 'C-Word' Moment Becomes Fodder For Satirists

The satirists at Public Service Administration have already scored numerous hits over the campaign season with their high-production value skewerings of both candidates and media. Their send up of Obama's will.i.am song "Yes We Can" managed to both mock the earnestness of the original while emphasizing just how little optimism is generated by John McCain's policies and positions. And for my money, their "Bass Motives" is a blast of cathartic humor for anyone who is already sick to death of campaign commercials.

Their recent effort, "He Said It First" has quickly become a YouTube hit. As of this writing, it was #1 today on YouTube comedy and #3 on Digg.com. Effectively criticizing how the media bailed on covering one of this year's stories from the trail because it involved the most vulgar and misogynist word in our vocabulary, the video may not be for the purest of heart. But if you like your satire packed with the worst kind of vulgarity, this one is for you. Because of our lingering concerns with good taste, however, we'll present the "clean" version, below.

Original here

Poll: Obama Sweeps McCain In Swing States For First Time

"With strong support from women, blacks and younger voters, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, the apparent Democratic presidential contender, leads Arizona Sen. John McCain, expected to be the Republican candidate, among likely voters in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania," according to simultaneous Quinnipiac University Swing State polls released today.

This is the first time Sen. Obama has led in all three states. No one has been elected President since 1960 without taking two of these three largest swing states in the Electoral College. Results from the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University polls show:


* Florida: Obama edges McCain 47 - 43 percent;
* Ohio: Obama tops McCain 48 - 42 percent;
* Pennsylvania: Obama leads McCain 52 - 40 percent.

In the three states, Obama leads McCain 10 to 23 percentage points among women, while men are too close to call. The Democrat trails among white voters in Florida and Ohio, but gets more than 90 percent of black voters in each state. He also has double-digit leads among young voters in each state.

Original here

AP REPORTS SMEARS AS TRUTH

Listening to my local radio stations news, I was shocked to hear the right wing smears againist Michelle Obama have now made it into the Associated Press's daily news feed to small radio and newspapers.
The report was that "the Obama campaign is trying to react quickly to reports againist Michelle Obama. She was quoted as saying that she had never been proud of America in her adult life.
She has been trying to improve her image with appearance today on "The View".

"She is reported to have made remarks about WHITEY in a speech at a church in Chicago."

I was shocked that there was no reference that this is just a claim, they reported it as if they had evidence that she truly said this in a speech, not what some right wingnuts had alledged. They say it enough times and now the AP is reporting it as TRUE.

I have called the radio station and written to AP, but I think we need to take more action. Any ideas on what we can do to combat this???? Listening to my local radio stations news, I was shocked to hear the right wing smears againist Michelle have now made it into the Associated Press's daily news feed to small radio and newspapers.

UPDATE: AP email address info@ap.org

Original here

Obama: GOP Tactics The Reason bin Laden Is Still Free

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., talks to the media during a news conference on his campaign plane en route from Michigan to Washington, DC Tuesday, June 17, 2008.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON — A defiant Barack Obama said Tuesday he would take no lectures from Republicans on which candidate would keep the U.S. safer, a sharp rebuke to John McCain's aides who said the Democrat had a naive, Sept. 10 mind-set toward terrorism.

"These are the same guys who helped to engineer the distraction of the war in Iraq at a time when we could have pinned down the people who actually committed 9/11," the presumed nominee told reporters aboard his campaign plane. "This is the same kind of fear-mongering that got us into Iraq ... and it's exactly that failed foreign policy I want to reverse."

The debate between the rival camps echoed the 2004 presidential campaign in which President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other Republicans argued that Democratic nominee John Kerry was soft on terror, a claim that resonated with voters and helped propel Bush to re-election. Democrats complained that the GOP was using the politics of fear.

The Republican argument proved less effective in 2006 when then Bush adviser Karl Rove said the Democrats had a pre-Sept. 11 view of the world and Republicans had a post-Sept. 11 terror attacks perspective. In November of that year, Democrats captured enough congressional seats to seize control of the House and Senate.

On his campaign plane, Obama told reporters that Osama bin Laden is still at large in part because Bush's strategy toward fighting terror has not succeeded.

At issue were comments Obama made in an interview with ABC News Monday in which he spoke approvingly of the successful prosecution and imprisonment of those responsible for the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Obama was asked how he could be sure the Bush administration's anti-terrorism policies are not crucial to protecting U.S. citizens.

Obama said the government can crack down on terrorists "within the constraints of our Constitution." He mentioned the indefinite detention of Guantanamo Bay detainees, contrasting their treatment with the prosecution of the 1993 World Trade Center bombings.

"And, you know, let's take the example of Guantanamo," Obama said. "What we know is that, in previous terrorist attacks _ for example, the first attack against the World Trade Center _ we were able to arrest those responsible, put them on trial. They are currently in U.S. prisons, incapacitated.

"And the fact that the administration has not tried to do that has created a situation where not only have we never actually put many of these folks on trial, but we have destroyed our credibility when it comes to rule of law all around the world, and given a huge boost to terrorist recruitment in countries that say, 'Look, this is how the United States treats Muslims. ...

"We could have done the exact same thing, but done it in a way that was consistent with our laws," Obama said.

Obama agreed with the Supreme Court ruling last week that detainees in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have a constitutional right to challenge their indefinite imprisonment in U.S. civilian courts. McCain derided the ruling as "one of the worst decisions in the history of this country."

McCain aides criticized Obama for talking about using the criminal justice system to prosecute terrorists.

"Senator Obama is a perfect manifestation a September 10th mind-set ... He does not understand the nature of the enemies we face," McCain national security director Randy Scheunemann told reporters on a conference call.

Former CIA Director James Woolsey, who is advising the McCain campaign, concurred, saying Obama has "an extremely dangerous and extremely naive approach toward terrorism ... and toward dealing with prisoners captured overseas who have been engaged in terrorist attacks against the United States."

The Obama campaign countered with its own conference call in which Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Richard Clarke, a counterterrorism official in Republican and Democratic administrations, argued the McCain campaign was emulating Rove.

"I'm a little disgusted by the attempts of some of my friends on the McCain campaign to use the same old, tired tactics ... to drive a wedge between Americans for partisan advantage and to frankly frighten Americans," Clarke said.

Kerry accused McCain of "defending a policy that is indefensible" by siding with Bush's policies, particularly with respect to the Iraq war.

Obama said Republicans could be counted on to do "what they've done every election cycle, which is to use terrorism as club to make the American people afraid to win elections." He said he didn't think it would work this time.

Republicans criticized Obama last year when he said the United States should act on intelligence about top terrorist targets in Pakistan even if President Pervez Musharraf refuses.

___

Beth Fouhy reported from New York.

Original here


CBS’s Lara Logan: ‘Tell me the last time you saw the body of a dead American soldier.’»

Appearing on the Daily Show last night, CBS’s Chief Foreign Correspondent Lara Logan crticized the lack of media attention to the Iraq war. She said she felt responsible for the fact that “no one really understands” what is happening in Iraq. She also said that the soldiers there “feel forgotten”:

Tell me the last time you saw the body of a dead American soldier. What does that look like? Who in American knows what that looks like? Because I know what that looks like, and I feel responsible for the fact that no one else does. … And the soldiers do feel forgotten, they do. No doubt. From Afghanistan to Iraq, they absolutely feel — you know, we may be tired of hearing about this five years later, they still have to go out and do the same job.

Watch it:

In 2004, the conservative-controlled Senate backed President Bush’s ban of photos of military coffins returning to Dover Air Force base. The Pentagon still restricts journalists’ access to military funerals.

Original here

Documents confirm U.S. hid detainees from Red Cross

WASHINGTON — The U.S. military hid the locations of suspected terrorist detainees and concealed harsh treatment to avoid the scrutiny of the International Committee of the Red Cross, according to documents that a Senate committee released Tuesday.

"We may need to curb the harsher operations while ICRC is around. It is better not to expose them to any controversial techniques," Lt. Col. Diane Beaver, a military lawyer who's since retired, said during an October 2002 meeting at the Guantanamo Bay prison to discuss employing interrogation techniques that some have equated with torture. Her comments were recorded in minutes of the meeting that were made public Tuesday. At that same meeting, Beaver also appeared to confirm that U.S. officials at another detention facility — Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan — were using sleep deprivation to "break" detainees well before then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld approved that technique. "True, but officially it is not happening," she is quoted as having said.

A third person at the meeting, Jonathan Fredman, the chief counsel for the CIA's Counterterrorism Center, disclosed that detainees were moved routinely to avoid the scrutiny of the ICRC, which keeps tabs on prisoners in conflicts around the world.

"In the past when the ICRC has made a big deal about certain detainees, the DOD (Defense Department) has 'moved' them away from the attention of the ICRC," Fredman said, according to the minutes.

The document, along with two dozen others, shows that top administration officials pushed relentlessly for tougher interrogation methods in the belief that terrorism suspects were resisting interrogation.

It's unclear from the documents whether the Pentagon moved the detainees from one place to another or merely told the ICRC they were no longer present at a facility.

Fredman of the CIA also appeared to be advocating the use of techniques harsher than those authorized by military field guides "If the detainee dies, you're doing it wrong," the minutes report Fredman saying at one point.

Beaver testified that she didn't recall making the comment about avoiding "harsher operations" while ICRC representatives were around, but she said she probably was referring to the need to conduct extended periods of interrogations of detainees without disruption.

The minutes of the Guantanamo meeting were among 25 documents released Tuesday by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee and is leading a probe of the origins of cruel treatment of detainees in President Bush's "war on terrorism."

The administration overrode or ignored objections from all four military services and from criminal investigators, who warned that the practices would imperil their ability to prosecute the suspects. In one prophetic e-mail on Oct. 28, 2002, Mark Fallon, then the deputy commander of the Pentagon's Criminal Investigation Task Force, wrote a colleague: "This looks like the kind of stuff Congressional hearings are made of. ... Someone needs to be considering how history will look back at this." The objections from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines prompted Navy Capt. Jane Dalton, legal adviser to the then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard Myers, to begin a review of the proposed techniques.

But Dalton, who's now retired, told the hearing Tuesday that the review was aborted quickly. Myers, she said, took her aside and told her that then-Defense Department general counsel William Haynes "does not want this ... to proceed." Haynes testified that he didn't recall the objections of the four uniformed services.

Officials in Rumsfeld's office and at Guantanamo developed the techniques they sought by reverse-engineering a long-standing military program designed to train U.S. soldiers and aviators to resist interrogation if they're captured.

The program, known as Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape, was never meant to guide U.S. interrogation of foreign detainees.

An official in Haynes' office sought information about SERE as early as July 2002, the documents show. Two months later, a delegation from Guantanamo attended SERE training at Fort Bragg, N.C. Levin said, "The truth is that senior officials in the United States government sought information on aggressive techniques, twisted the law to create the appearance of their legality and authorized their use against detainees." The documents confirm that a delegation of senior administration lawyers visited Guantanamo in September 2002 for briefings on intelligence-gathering there. The delegation included David Addington, a top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney; Haynes; acting CIA counsel John Rizzo; and Michael Chertoff, then the head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and now the homeland security secretary. Few of the Republicans at Tuesday's hearing defended the Bush administration’s detainee programs. Guidance provided by administration lawyers "will go down in history as some of the most irresponsible and shortsighted legal analysis ever provided to our nation's military intelligence communities," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C..

Regarding the ICRC, the United States long has complained that other countries such as China or the old Soviet Union prevented independent access to prisoners or made their conditions look better when outsiders were inspecting. The Bush administration appears to have engaged in similar practices, however.

Bernard Barrett, the ICRC’s Washington spokesman, said, "We knew that we did not always have full access to all detainees. It was a fairly serious issue." “It’s been addressed,” he said. “We are confident we now have access to all detainees at Guantanamo.”

Original here

A House committee has subpoenaed FBI transcripts of interviews with President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-California, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, issued the subpoena on Monday to Attorney General Michael Mukasey in the latest chapter of a standoff over what Bush and Cheney told a special prosecutor about the case in 2004.

Earlier this month, the Justice Department denied Waxman’s request for a voluntary release of the interview transcripts on grounds that it “raises serious separation of powers and heightened confidentiality concerns.”

Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has turned over to Waxman’s committee “FBI 302 reports” of interviews with CIA and State Department officials and other individuals involved in the CIA leak, Waxman said in a letter to Mukasey last December.

But “the White House has been blocking Mr. Fitzgerald from providing key documents to the Committee," including transcripts of Fitzgerald’s interviews with Bush and Cheney, Waxman said.

On Monday, Waxman set a June 23 deadline for Mukasey to comply with the committee subpoena.

Senior Bush administration officials disclosed Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity to several journalists in June and July of 2003 amid White House efforts to discredit her husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, for challenging Bush’s use of bogus intelligence to justify invading Iraq.

Valerie Plame Wilson’s CIA employment was revealed in a July 14, 2003, article by right-wing columnist Robert Novak, effectively destroying her career. Two months later, a CIA complaint to the Justice Department sparked a criminal probe into the identity of the leakers.

Initially, Bush professed not to know anything about the matter, and several of his senior aides, including political adviser Karl Rove and the vice president’s chief of staff I. Lewis Libby, followed suit.

However, it later became clear that Rove and Libby had a hand in the Plame leak and that Bush and Cheney had helped organize a campaign to disparage Wilson by giving critical information to friendly journalists.

On June 24, 2004, Bush was interviewed by Fitzgerald for 70 minutes about the Plame leak. The only other member of the Bush team in the room during the meeting was Jim Sharp, the private lawyer that Bush hired, according to a press briefing by then-press secretary Scott McClellan.

”The President … was pleased to do his part to help the investigation move forward,” McClellan said. “No one wants to get to the bottom of this matter more than the President of the United States.”

A couple of weeks earlier, Cheney had been interviewed by Fitzgerald.

According to sources knowledgeable about the vice president’s testimony, Cheney was specifically asked about conversations he had with senior aides, including Libby, and queried about whether he was aware of a campaign led by White House officials to leak Plame’s identity.

It is unknown how Cheney responded to those questions. Cheney retained a private attorney, Terrence O’Donnell. Neither O’Donnell nor Sharp returned calls for comment on Monday.

Long-Sought Evidence

Three years ago, Waxman called for congressional hearings to determine if there was a White House conspiracy to unmask Plame's covert status in retaliation for the criticism Wilson leveled against the administration's use of a bogus claim that Iraq had obtained uranium from Niger.

"I think that the Congress must hold hearings, bring Karl Rove in, put him under oath, and let him explain the situation from his point of view," Waxman said during an interview with “Democracy Now” in July 2005.

"Let him tell us what happened. It's ridiculous that Congress should stay out of all of this and not hold hearings."

At the time of Waxman's comments, Fitzgerald’s criminal investigation was still underway, leading to Libby’s indictment in October 2005 and his subsequent conviction in March 2007 on four counts of perjury and obstruction of justice.

During closing arguments at Libby’s trial, Cheney was implicated in the leak, as Fitzgerald acknowledged that Cheney was intimately involved in the scandal and may have told Libby to leak Plame's status to the media.

Fitzgerald told jurors that his investigation into the true nature of the vice president's involvement was impeded because Libby obstructed justice.

Libby's attorney, Theodore Wells, told jurors during his closing arguments that Fitzgerald had been trying to build a case of conspiracy against the vice president and Libby and that the prosecution believed Libby may have lied to federal investigators and to a grand jury to protect Cheney.

“Now, I think the government, through its questions, really tried to put a cloud over Vice President Cheney," Wells said.

Rebutting Wells, Fitzgerald r told jurors: "You know what? [Wells] said something here that we're trying to put a cloud on the vice president. We'll talk straight. There is a cloud over the vice president. He sent Libby off to [meet with New York Times reporter] Judith Miller at the St. Regis Hotel. At that meeting - the two-hour meeting - the defendant talked about the wife [Plame]. We didn't put that cloud there. That cloud remains because the defendant obstructed justice and lied about what happened."

Moreover, copies of Cheney’s handwritten notes also appeared to implicate Bush in the leak case.

Cheney's notes, which were introduced as evidence during Libby's trial, called into question the truthfulness of Bush's vehement denials about having prior knowledge of the sub rosa campaign against Wilson.

In an October 2003 note to then-press secretary McClellan, Cheney demanded that the press office add Libby to a list of White House officials being cleared of any role in the Plame leak.

"Not going to protect one staffer + sacrifice the guy that was asked to stick his head in the meat grinder because of incompetence of others," Cheney wrote. However, the note revealed that Cheney had originally written "this Pres" before crossing that out and using the passive tense, "that was."

In other words, the original version suggested that Bush had asked Libby “to stick his head in the meat grinder,” an apparent reference to dealing with the Washington press corps.

Over the past few weeks, interest in the CIA leak case was revived by former White House press secretary McClellan’s memoir which also suggests Bush and Cheney played a larger role than they have admitted publicly.

Two weeks ago, Waxman sent a letter to Mukasey stating that, according to FBI transcripts given to the committee, Libby told federal investigators that Cheney might have told him to leak Plame's CIA ties to reporters.

"In his interview with the FBI, Mr. Libby stated that it was ‘possible’ that Vice President Cheney instructed him to disseminate information about Ambassador Wilson's wife to the press. This is a significant revelation and, if true, a serious matter. It cannot be responsibly investigated without access to the Vice President's FBI interview," Waxman wrote.

McClellan is scheduled to testify about the Plame case before the House Judiciary Committee later this week.

Original here

The REAL McCain: Big Oil Fuels the Straight Talk Express



GOP convention button asks, ‘If Obama is president…will we still call it the White House?’»

A booth at this weekend’s Texas Republican convention sold buttons asking, “If Obama Is President…Will We Still Call It The White House?”:

obama-button.JPG

The company that makes the buttons boasts providing “Patriotic and Republican Products.” Another button they sell features a picture of Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), with the phrase: “Life’s a b**ch, don’t vote for one.” (HT: AmericaBlog)

Original here

McCain Sets a New Record: 10 Flip-Flops in Two Weekseeks

1. Social Security Privatization. John McCain has apparently learned the lesson that the more President Bush spoke about his Social Security privatization scheme, the less popular it became. On Friday, Mr. Straight Talk proclaimed at a New Hampshire event, “I’m not for, quote, privatizing Social Security. I never have been. I never will be.” Sadly, McCain and his advisers like ousted HP CEO Carly Fiorina are on record declaring fidelity to the idea of diverting Social Security dollars into private accounts. On November 18, 2004, for example, McCain announced, “Without privatization, I don’t see how you can possibly, over time, make sure that young Americans are able to receive Social Security benefits.” And in March 2003, McCain backed his President, declaring, “As part of Social Security reform, I believe that private savings accounts are a part of it - along the lines that President Bush proposed.” As they say, let’s go to the videotape.

2. Raising - and Slashing - Defense Spending. As Steve Benen noted Friday, John McCain was also for boosting American defense spending before he was against it. In the November 2007 issue of Foreign Affairs, McCain argued “we can also afford to spend more on national defense, which currently consumes less than four cents of every dollar that our economy generates - far less than what we spent during the Cold War.” But facing the $2 trillion budgetary hole the McCain tax plan is forecast to produce (a sea of red ink even the Wall Street Journal noticed), Team McCain changed its tune. As Forbes scoffed in amazement:

“McCain’s top economic adviser, Doug Holtz-Eakin, blithely supposes that cuts in defense spending could make up for reducing the corporate tax rate from 35% to 25% and the subsequent shrinkage in federal revenues. Get that? The national security candidate wants to cut spending on our national security. Wait until the generals and the admirals hear that.”

3. First Term Balanced Budget Pledge. With its on-again/off-again/on-again promise to balance the budget by January 2013, the McCain campaign executed that rarest of political maneuvers, the 360. During a February 15th rally in La Crosse, Wisconsin, “McCain promised he’d offer a balanced budget by the end of his first term.” But just days later, McCain’s senior economic adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin announced a deficit-ending target of 2017. In mid-April, Holtz-Eakin proclaimed, “I would like the next president not to talk about deficit reduction.” McCain, too, signaled the retreat from his first-term balance budget commitment, explaining to Chris Matthews on April 15th that “economic conditions are reversed.”

Apparently economic conditions have improved dramatically since then. On June 6, Holtz-Eakin squared the circle, announcing, “That plan, when appropriately phased in, as it has always been intended to be, will bring the budget to balance by the end of his first term.”

4. The Media’s Treatment of Hillary Clinton. No doubt, John McCain suffers from recurring bouts of selective amnesia. And some episodes take only days to manifest themselves. During his disastrous “green screen” speech on June 3, McCain reached out to Hillary Clinton’s supporters by proclaiming, “The media often overlooked how compassionately she spoke to the concerns and dreams of millions of Americans, and she deserves a lot more appreciation than she sometimes received.” But by June 7, McCain denied to Newsweek that his media critique never passed his lips, “I did not–that was in prepared remarks, and I did not–I’m not in the business of commenting on the press and their coverage or not coverage.”

5. The Estate Tax. Just days before his contortionist act on Social Security, John McCain reversed course on the estate tax as well. On June 8, 2006, McCain on the Senate floor expressed his agreement with Teddy Roosevelt that “most great civilized countries have an income tax and an inheritance tax” and “in my judgment both should be part of our system of federal taxation.” But after years of battling Republican colleagues dead-set on dismantling the so-called “death tax” and instead promoting a $5 million trigger, on Tuesday John McCain sounded the retreat. Now, he insists, “the estate tax is one of the most unfair tax laws on the books.”

6. FISA, Domestic Surveillance and Telecom Immunity. When it comes to the Bush administration’s program of domestic spying on Americans, McCain has performed similar logical gymnastics. On December 20, 2007, McCain suggested to the Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Charles Savage that President Bush had clearly crossed the line. As Wired’s Ryan Singel noted:

“I think that presidents have the obligation to obey and enforce laws that are passed by Congress and signed into law by the president, no matter what the situation is,” McCain said. The Globe’s Charlie Savage pushed further, asking , “So is that a no, in other words, federal statute trumps inherent power in that case, warrantless surveillance?” To which McCain answered, “I don’t think the president has the right to disobey any law.”

But on June 2, McCain adviser Holtz-Eakin put that notion to rest, telling the National Review:

“[N]either the Administration nor the telecoms need apologize for actions that most people, except for the ACLU and the trial lawyers, understand were Constitutional and appropriate in the wake of the attacks on September 11, 2001.”

Pressed to explain the glaring inconsistencies, John McCain on June 6 played dumb, deciding that cowardice is the better part of valor. As the New York Times reported, McCain now believes the legality of Bush’s regime of NSA domestic surveillance is unclear and, in any event, is old news:

“It’s ambiguous as to whether the president acted within his authority or not,” he said, saying courts had ruled different ways on the matter. “I’m not interested in going back. I’m interested in addressing the challenge we face to day of trying to do everything we can to counter organizations and individuals that want to destroy this country. So there’s ambiguity about it. Let’s move forward.”

As for immunity for the telecommunications firms cooperating with the White House in what before August 2007 was doubtless illegal surveillance, there too McCain’s position has evolved. On May 23, campaign surrogate Chuck Fish announced that McCain would not back retroactive immunity “unless there were revealing Congressional hearings and heartfelt repentance from those telephone and internet companies.” Subsequently, the McCain campaign swiftly backtracked, claiming its man supports immunity unconditionally.

7. Restoring the Everglades. On June 5, John McCain traveled to the Everglades to win over Floridians and environmentally-minded voters. There he proclaimed, “I am in favor of doing whatever’s necessary to save the Everglades.” Sadly, as ThinkProgress documented, McCain not only opposed $2 billion in funding for the restoration of the Everglades national park, he backed President Bush’s veto of the legislation in 2007. “I believe,” he said, “that we should be passing a bill that will authorize legitimate, needed projects without sacrificing fiscal responsibility.”

8. Divestment from South Africa. During his June 2 speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), John McCain called for the international community to target Iran for the kind of worldwide sanctions regime applied to apartheid-era South Africa. Unfortunately, McCain’s lobbyist-advisers Charlie Black and Rick Davis each represented firms doing business with Tehran. Even more unfortunate, John McCain was frequently not among those offering “moral clarity and conviction” in backing “a divestment campaign against South Africa, helping to rid that nation of the evil of apartheid.” As ThinkProgress detailed:

Despite voting to override President Reagan’s veto of a bill imposing economic sanctions against South Africa in 1986, McCain voted against sanctions on at least six other occasions.

9. Fighting Job Losses in Michigan. During the run-up to the Michigan primary, John McCain cautioned workers there in January that he didn’t want to raise “false hopes that somehow we can bring back lost jobs,” adding that it” wasn’t government’s job to protect buggy factories and haberdashers when cars replaced carriages and men stopped wearing hats.” But after getting trounced in Michigan by Mitt Romney and watching the economy deteriorate further, McCain has had a change of heart. As Bloomberg noted on June 5:

Nowadays, the party’s presumptive nominee is singing a different tune, striking a populist pose and saying “new jobs are coming”… …Over the past few months, however, McCain has taken a lesson from Romney, acknowledging recently that “Americans are hurting.” Returning to Michigan last month, the Arizona senator told a local television station that he would fight for new jobs and the state wouldn’t “be left behind.”

Perhaps the good people of Michigan, as John McCain suggested to a Kentucky audience in April, can make a living on eBay.

10. Opposing Hurricane Katrina Investigations. During a June 4th town hall meeting in Baton Rouge, John McCain answered a reporter’s question regarding Hurricane Katrina and the failure of the New Orleans levees by announcing:

“I’ve supported every investigation and ways of finding out what caused the tragedy. I’ve been here to New Orleans. I’ve met with people on the ground.”

As it turns out, not so much. McCain’s revisionist history neglects to mention that in 2005 and 2006 he twice voted against a commission to study the government’s response to Katrina. He also opposed three separate emergency funding measures providing relief to Katrina victims, including the extension of five months of Medicaid benefits. And as ThinkProgress pointed out, “until traveling there one month ago, McCain had made just one public tour of New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina touched down in August 2005.”

And so it goes. As surely as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west each day, so too will John McCain change positions. (Like that other law of nature, McCain’s flip-flops are literally becoming a daily occurrence. Since this piece was originally drafted on Saturday, McCain added two new policy turnabouts - on phasing out rather than repealing the Alternative Minimum Tax and on requiring a litmus test for his judicial appointees - to his litany of reversals.) As the Pew Research Center recently found, the word Americans now most frequently use to describe John McCain is not “maverick,” but “old.” Given the dizzying pace of his reversals, “opportunist” may soon top that list.

Original here

McCain's Secret, Questionable Record

"At a meeting in his Pentagon office in early 1981, Secretary of the Navy John F. Lehman told Capt. John S. McCain III that he was about to attain his life ambition: becoming an admiral.... Mr. McCain declined the prospect of his first admiral's star to make a run for Congress, saying that he could 'do more good there,' Mr. Lehman recalled." So claimed the New York Times in a front-page article on May 29 this year.

This story is highly improbable for several reasons, not least of all because John McCain himself has always told a very different story about his stalled naval career. For example, on page 9 of his memoir Worth The Fighting For, McCain writes:

"Several months before my father died, I informed him that I was leaving the navy. I am sure he had gotten word of my decision from friends in the Pentagon. I had been summoned to see the CNO, Admiral Heyward, who told me I was making a mistake.... His attempt to dissuade me encouraged me to believe that I might have made admiral had I remained in the navy, a prospect that remained an open question in my mind.... Some of my navy friends believed I could earn my star; others doubted it.... When I told my father of my intention, he did not remonstrate me.... But I knew him well enough to know that he was disappointed. For when I left him that day, alone in his study, I took with me his hope that I might someday become the first son and grandson of four-star admirals to achieve the same distinction. That aspiration was well beyond my reach by the time I made my decision...."

McCain's father died on March 22, 1981. McCain retired from the Navy within a week. He wrote about his retirement soon thereafter. McCain never mentioned the alleged offer of an admiralship by Lehman in any of his books, nor in the numerous interviews McCain gave during his first run for the presidency in 1999-2000.

Furthermore, articles written during the current presidential campaign quote McCain's closest friends about McCain's failure to be promoted to admiral before he retired from the Navy. For example, in an April 26, 2008, National Journal cover story, William Cohen (then a Senator, subsequently Secretary of Defense and the best man at McCain's second wedding) recounts that McCain "knew his career in the Navy was limited." Former Senator Gary Hart, who served as a groomsman at McCain's 1980 wedding, says in the National Journal story that he had been told "that [McCain] was not going to receive a star and not going to become an admiral. I think that was the deciding point for him to retire from the Navy."

John Lehman doesn't figure in any accounts of McCain's naval career, probably because Lehman was appointed Secretary of the Navy less than two months before McCain retired. The New York Times didn't note this, or the pertinent fact that John Lehman is currently serving as National Security Adviser to McCain's 2008 presidential campaign. Two admirals in the Times story confirmed Lehman's claim, but for unknown reasons the Times, in violation of its own guidelines, accorded them off-the-record status that makes it impossible to assess their motives and credibility.

The New York Times' front-page story about McCain declining promotion to admiral lacks credibility for other reasons as well. For example, McCain had been promoted to captain on August 1, 1979, so he wouldn't have been due for another promotion by March of 1981.

Retired Admiral Peter Booth, who was promoted to rear admiral in 1981, flatly disputes Lehman's claim about McCain. "No, John McCain was not selected for flag rank, for admiral. With all due respect, I think I was selected that same year, and I have never heard anything even remotely like that. To begin with, John Lehman did not select Navy flag officers. That was done with a very august selection board headed by a four-star admiral. The Secretary of the Navy does not appoint. He is in the approval chain, but he is not on the committee.

"I have never heard a story, even remotely, that John McCain was going to be a flag officer. I was early selected for captain, in 1976, and I was regular selected for admiral in 1981. So it's probably five or six years, I guess. I've never heard of anybody being selected for flag rank within three or four years of making captain, ever."

Retired Admiral John R. Batzler, former commanding officer of the U.S.S. Nimitz, also promoted to rear admiral in 1981, agrees with Retired Admiral Booth. "I made rear admiral in about five years. I wasn't selected early, and I wasn't selected late. I find it incredible that someone made that statement that John Lehman told John McCain he was going to be promoted to admiral two years after he made captain. First of all, telling him at all is not kosher, but we all know the Secretary of the Navy does what he damn well pleases, in particular John Lehman. This whole idea that John Lehman told John McCain he was going to be promoted to flag two years after he made captain sounds preposterous to me." All of the evidence, indications and comments that the New York Times published a flattering lie about McCain's career on its front page are easy for John McCain to refute. All he needs to do is sign Standard Form 180, which authorizes the Navy to send an undeleted copy of McCain's naval file to news organizations. A long paper trail about McCain's pending promotion to admiral would be prominent in his file. To date, McCain's advisers have released snippets from his file, but under constrained viewing circumstances. There's no reason McCain's full file shouldn't be released immediately. In June 2005, seven months after he lost his bid for president, Senator John Kerry signed the 180 waiver, authorizing the release of his complete military service record to the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, and the Associated Press. ** Unlike Kerry, McCain shouldn't wait until after the election to do so. The Navy may claim that it already released McCain's record to the Associated Press on May 7, 2008 in response to the AP's Freedom of Information Act request. But the McCain file the Navy released contained 19 pages -- a two-page overview and 17 pages detailing Awards and Decorations. Each of these 17 pages is stamped with a number. These numbers range from 0069 to 0636. When arranged in ascending order, they precisely track the chronology of McCain's career. It seems reasonable to ask the Navy whether there are at least 636 pages in McCain's file, of which 617 weren't released to the Associated Press.

Some of the unreleased pages in McCain's Navy file may not reflect well upon his qualifications for the presidency. From day one in the Navy, McCain screwed-up again and again, only to be forgiven because his father and grandfather were four-star admirals. McCain's sense of entitlement to privileged treatment bears an eerie resemblance to George W. Bush's.

Despite graduating in the bottom 1 percent of his Annapolis class, McCain was offered the most sought-after Navy assignment -- to become an aircraft carrier pilot. According to military historian John Karaagac, "'the Airdales,' the air wing of the Navy, acted and still do, as if unrivaled atop the naval pyramid. They acted as if they owned, not only the Navy, but the entire swath of blue water on the earth's surface." The most accomplished midshipmen compete furiously for the few carrier pilot openings. After four abysmal academic years at Annapolis distinguished only by his misdeeds and malfeasance, no one with a record resembling McCain's would have been offered such a prized career path. The justification for this and subsequent plum assignments should be documented in McCain's naval file.

McCain's file should also include records and analytic reviews of McCain's subsequent sub-par performances. Here are a few cited in two highly favorable biographies, both titled John McCain, one by Robert Timberg and the other by John Karaagac.

Timberg:

"[A]fter a European fling with the tobacco heiress, John McCain reported to flight school at Pensacola in August 1958.... [H]is performance was below par, at best good enough to get by. He liked flying, but didn't love it. What he loved was the kick-the-tire, start-the-fire, scarf-in-the-wind life of a naval aviator. ...One Saturday morning, as McCain was practicing landings, his engine quit and his plane plunged into Corpus Christi. Knocked unconscious by the impact, he came to as the plane settled to the bottom....McCain was an adequate pilot, but he had no patience for studying dry aviation manuals.... His professional growth, though reasonably steady, had its troubled moments. Flying too low over the Iberian Peninsula, he took out some power lines, which led to a spate of newspaper stories in which he was predictably identified as the son of an admiral.... [In 1965] he flew a trainer solo to Philadelphia for the Army-Navy game. Flying by way of Norfolk, he had just begun his descent over unpopulated tidal terrain when the engine died. 'I've got a flameout,' he radioed. He went through the standard relight procedures three times. At one thousand feet he ejected, landing on the deserted beach moments before the plane slammed into a clump of trees."

Adds Karaagac:

"In his memoir, everything becomes a kind of game of adolescent brinksmanship, how much can one press the limits of the acceptable and elude the powers that be....The [fighter jocks'] ethos of exaggerated, almost aggressive sociability becomes an end in itself and an excuse for license. There is a tendency for people, not simply to believe their own mythology but, indeed, to exaggerate it.... Fighter jocks, like politicians around their campaign contributions, often press the limits of the acceptable. It is a type of mild corruption that takes place in a highly privileged atmosphere, where restraints are loosened and excuses made....McCain gives some hint in his memoirs about where he stood in the hierarchy among carrier flyers. Instead of the sleek and newer Phantoms and Crusaders, McCain flew the dependable Douglas A-4 Skyhawk in an attack, not a fighter squadron. He was thus on the lower end of the flying totem pole."

The genius of McCain's mythmaking is his perceived humility amid perpetual defiance. Having been a rebel without cause, and often a rebel without consequences, McCain apparently was not surprised when his Vietnamese captors went relatively easy on him compared to his fellow POWs. The Vietnamese military secretly and frequently filmed the American POWs to learn their propensities. Col. Pham Van Hoa of the Vietnamese People's Army Film Department was in charge of the filming. Asked recently for his dominant impression of McCain, the now-retired Van Hoa said that McCain "seemed superior to other prisoners." How so? "Superior in attitude towards them."

But when Mark Salter, McCain's closest aide and co-author, was asked by the Arizona New Times about the first McCain memoir, Faith of My Fathers, that he was then working on, Salter said "the book will showcase a humble McCain. When I worked on this book with him, he just kept saying, 'Other guys had it a lot worse. I think they took it easier on me because of who my dad was. . . . When they tied me in ropes, they'd roll my sleeve up to give it a little padding between the rope and my bicep, you know, little things I noticed. The only really hard time I had was when I didn't go home, and then it only lasted a week, and sometimes I felt braver, I felt I could get away with more.'"

Is McCain now getting away with more by hiding his official history and by having his national security adviser inflate McCain's resume with a bogus promotion to admiral humbly declined? If so, McCain may be attempting to hide why the Navy was in fact slow to promote him upwards despite his suffering as a POW and his distinguished naval heritage.

One possible reason: After McCain had returned from Vietnam as a war hero and was physically rehabilitated, he was urged by his medical caretakers and military colleagues never to fly again. But McCain insisted on going up. As Carl Bernstein reported in Vanity Fair, he piloted an ultra-light, single propeller plane -- and crashed another time. His fifth loss of a plane has vanished from public records, but should be a subject of discussion in his Navy file. It wouldn't be surprising if his naval superiors worried that McCain was just too defiant, too reckless and too crash prone.

Regardless, McCain owes it to the country to release his complete naval records so that American voters can see his documented history and make an informed decision.

** An earlier version of this story may have left the impression that John Kerry had signed the 180 military waiver during the 2004 presidential campaign. It has been updated to clarify the timing of the release.

Jeffrey Klein is an investigative journalist who co-founded Mother Jones; directed exposes of Newt Gingrich, Big Tobacco and the introduction of offensive weapons into space; co-produced for The News Hour with Jim Lehrer a series on China's economy that won a Gerald Loeb Award; and taught journalism at Stanford, San Francisco State and Cal. He is currently reporting on assignment for the Investigative Fund of the Nation Institute, which provided research support for this article. Research assistance was provided by Peter Jackson.

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