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Friday, August 29, 2008

McCain picks Alaska Gov. Palin as running mate

(CNN) -- Sen. John McCain has picked Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate, a senior McCain campaign official told CNN on Friday.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, here in February, will be Sen. John McCain's running mate, a campaign official says.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, here in February, will be Sen. John McCain's running mate, a campaign official says.

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Palin, 44, who's in her first term as governor, is a pioneering figure in Alaska, the first woman and the youngest person to hold the state's top political job.

She catapulted to the post with a strong reputation as a political outsider, forged during her stint in local politics. She was mayor and a council member of the small town of Wasilla and was chairman of the state Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which regulates Alaska's oil and gas resources, in 2003 and 2004.

The conservative Palin defeated two so-called political insiders to win the governor's job -- incumbent Gov. Frank Murkowski in the GOP primary and former two-term Democratic Gov. Tony Knowles in the 2006 general election. iReport.com: What do you think of McCain's VP pick?

Palin made her name in part by backing tough ethical standards for politicians. During the first legislative session after her election, her administration passed a state ethics law overhaul.

Palin's term has not been without controversy. A legislative investigation is looking into allegations that Palin fired Alaska's public safety commissioner because he refused to fire the governor's former brother-in-law, a state trooper.

Palin acknowledged that a member of her staff made a call to a trooper in which the staffer suggested he was speaking for the governor.

Palin has admitted that the call could be interpreted as pressure to fire state trooper Mike Wooten, who was locked in a child-custody battle with Palin's sister.

"I am truly disappointed and disturbed to learn that a member of this administration contacted the Department of Public Safety regarding Trooper Wooten," Palin said. "At no time did I authorize any member of my staff to do so."

Palin suspended the staffer who made the call.

Palin has focused on energy and natural resources policy during her short stint in office, and she is known for her support of drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, a position opposed by McCain but supported by many grass-roots Republicans.

Her biography on the state governor's Web site says one of the two major pieces of legislation passed during her first legislative session was a competitive process to construct a gas pipeline.

Palin started Alaska's Petroleum Systems Integrity Office, an oversight and maintenance agency for the state's oil and gas equipment, facilities and infrastructure. She created the Climate Change Subcabinet that would forge a climate change strategy, according to the biography.

Palin chairs the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, a multistate panel "that promotes the conservation and efficient recovery of domestic oil and natural gas resources while protecting health, safety and the environment," the biography says.

She has been named chair of the National Governors Association's Natural Resources Committee. That panel is focused on legislation to ensure that federal policies take state priorities into account in agriculture, energy, environmental protection and natural resource management.

She is a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association and takes part in two of Alaska's popular pastimes -- fishing and hunting.

The governor's biography says Palin's other priorities have been "education and workforce development, public health and safety, and transportation and infrastructure development."

The biography touts her other achievements as governor as the investment of $5 billion in state savings, overhaul of educational funding and implementation of a program to help low-income elderly Alaskans.

Born in Idaho, she is a longtime Alaskan and a Protestant. Her biography says she arrived in Alaska in 1964 "when her parents came to teach school in Skagway."

She graduated from Wasilla High School in 1982 and received a bachelor of science degree in communications-journalism from the University of Idaho in 1987.

Her husband is Todd Palin, an oil production operator on Alaska's North Slope. They have five children, including a son who enlisted in the Army last year.

Congressional Quarterly notes Sarah Palin's other past occupations, including commercial fishing company owner, outdoor recreational equipment company owner and sports reporter.

Palin also made an unsuccessful run for lieutenant governor in 2002, Congressional Quarterly said.

Original here

Obama: John McCain doesn't get it

DENVER, Colorado (CNN) -- Sen. Barack Obama laid out his plan for change in America as he accepted the Democratic presidential nomination Thursday night, securing his place in history as the first African-American to lead a major party ticket.

Sen. Barack Obama accepted his party's nomination for the presidency Thursday night.

Sen. Barack Obama accepted his party's nomination for the presidency Thursday night.

"Change happens because the American people demand it -- because they rise up and insist on new ideas and new leadership, a new politics for a new time. America, this is one of those moments," he told supporters at the Democratic National Convention. "I believe that as hard as it will be, the change we need is coming."

Obama pitted himself against John McCain, repeatedly countering attacks from his Republican rival while casting the election as a choice between change and failure, as he addressed tens of thousands of cheering people and millions of primetime TV viewers.

McCain would continue the policies of the Bush administration, Obama said.

"We are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look just like the last eight. On November 4, we must stand up and say: 'Eight is enough,' " he told the Denver throng.

In addition to slamming McCain on Iraq, energy policy and health care, Obama said his rival for the White House is out of touch with the concerns of the average American. Watch Obama's entire speech: Video Part 1 » | Video Part 2 »

"He said that our economy has made 'great progress' under this president. He said that the fundamentals of the economy are strong. And when one of his chief advisers -- the man who wrote his economic plan -- was talking about the anxiety Americans are feeling, he said that we were just suffering from a 'mental recession,' and that we've become, and I quote, 'a nation of whiners,' " Obama said, eliciting boos from the crowd.

"It's not because John McCain doesn't care," Obama said. "It's because John McCain doesn't get it." Video Watch Obama blast the status quo »

The speech marked the culmination of the four-day convention in Denver, during which party leaders pushed to heal the rift from a bitter and prolonged primary battle between Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton. By Thursday, Obama had received clear endorsements from Clinton and her husband former President Bill Clinton.

By early evening, the line of people seeking to get into Invesco Field to hear Obama's address stretched for six miles, and the crowd that filled the stadium was more than 80,000 strong.

"I stand before you tonight because all across America something is stirring," Obama told the audience. "What the naysayers don't understand is that this election has never been about me. It's about you." Video Watch Obama accept the historic nomination »

In a statement issued immediately after the speech, the McCain campaign called the speech "misleading" and said it was "fundamentally at odds with the meager record of Barack Obama."

"When the temple comes down, the fireworks end, and the words are over, the facts remain: Sen. Obama still has no record of bipartisanship, still opposes offshore drilling, still voted to raise taxes on those making just $42,000 per year, and still voted against funds for American troops in harm's way. The fact remains: Barack Obama is still not ready to be president," said a statement from the campaign. The "temple" is a reference to the columns that formed the backdrop for Obama's speech. Grade Obama's speech

Obama also outlined his promises for the nation -- vowing to cut taxes, end the country's dependence on oil from the Middle East and offer affordable healthcare for all Americans. He also pledged to end the war in Iraq responsibly, and "finish the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan." iReport.com: Watch and share your thoughts on Obama's speech

He wrapped up his speech by telling the crowd, "America, we cannot turn back. We cannot walk alone. At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to march into the future." Video Watch as fireworks mark the end of the convention »

The crowd gave Obama a roaring welcome and met lines of his speech with chants of his catchphrase, "Yes, we can." Many political pundits said Obama hit it out of the park with his nearly 50-minute speech, and those in attendance agreed. See what CNN analysts have to say about Obama's speech »

"It was an excellent home run," said Matt Besser, an Obama representative to the DNC platform committee. "He did everything he needed to do. He gracefully dissected John McCain and then set out his own vision, and clearly everyone got it."

In the hours leading up to the speech, a star-studded line up of musicians performed, including Stevie Wonder, John Legend, Sheryl Crow and Will.i.am. Video Watch musicians perform at the convention »

The scene was much like a rock concert, with the foot-stomping, flag-waving crowd dancing and bouncing beach balls as they awaited Obama's arrival.

When Obama officially locked in his party's nomination on Wednesday, delegates sobbed, cheered and hugged in celebration of the historic moment.

The Democratic candidate's address fell on the 45th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech.

In an emotional tribute to the slain civil rights leader earlier in the evening, King's children paid respect to their father and said he would have been proud of the party and the generation that would realize his dream. Civil rights hero Rep. John Lewis and Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., son of civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, were seen hugging each other and weeping.

McCain also honored Obama's achievement in a television ad that aired during the convention.

Earlier in the evening, former presidential candidate Al Gore turned the focus to the environment, an issue that received little attention earlier in the week. He also invoked the bitterly disputed 2000 presidential election to argue that Americans should elect Obama in November. Read about Gore's address

"Eight years ago, some said there was not much difference between the nominees of the two major parties and it didn't really matter who became president," he told delegates. "But here we all are in 2008, and I doubt anyone would argue now that election didn't matter," he said.

Next week, it's the Republicans turn. Their four-day convention gets underway Monday in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota.

Original here

Google CEO: Internet spurred Obama's nomination

Posted by Declan McCullagh


Eric Schmidt fields questions from liberal talk show host Rachel Maddow (and the audience) about politics, online journalism, and privacy.

(Credit: Declan McCullagh/News.com)

DENVER--Google Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt said on Thursday that the Internet gave presidential candidate Barack Obama the ability to bypass traditional media and claim the Democratic nomination.

Schmidt showed up at the Democratic convention here on Thursday to field questions about politics, how Google is influencing online journalism, and the company's policies on privacy.

During an appearance at the literal and figurative Big Tent, a blogger workspace sponsored by Google and Digg.com, Schmidt said that Web sites like YouTube allow politicians to connect more directly with voters.

Here are some highlights of Schmidt's nearly hour-long conversation on stage with Rachel Maddow, a liberal talk radio and MSNBC host:

(Credit: Declan McCullagh/News.com)

* Privacy: "We do worry that as this information gets collected it becomes a treasure trove. You can imagine that in the worst possible case... we know everything you're doing and the government tries to track you." Schmidt said that some solutions are a judicial system that limits government overzealousness, the ability to discuss the topic openly that didn't exist a few decades ago, and his company's policy of limiting what data they collect beyond 18 months.

* Ted Stevens: The recently-indicted Republican senator, who previously headed the committee that drafted Internet-related laws, became famous for his mangled description of a "series of tubes." Schmidt said, in response to a question about what he thought of Stevens: "There's always a person who's first. And there's always a person who's last. And we found him."

* Recruiting: Google studied the way its recruiting process worked for male vs. female engineering hires, and made changes. It turned out that the male rating of possible hires was predictive of future performance, but the rating for women wasn't. "We had actual data that showed a bizarre bias that existed in our system. We changed it to correct that." Schmidt indicated in response to a question that Google engages in affirmative action for racial and sexual minority hiring.

* Journalism and the Internet: "We've got a major national crisis around journalism, particularly investigative journalism." Schmidt said that the three factors are higher costs of newsprint, loss of print ad revenue and effectiveness, and the shift of classified ads online (in part going to Google.) He said Google is "working hard to try things" including partnerships with media organizations in conjunction with Google News, but acknowledged that it's unclear what will work.

Alan Davidson, one of Google's Washington representatives, said the company is planning a sizable presence at the Republican convention next week as well.

Original here

McCain: Iraq Is ‘A Peaceful And Stable Country Now’

madmccainweb2.jpgToday, Time Magazine published an interview with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) that it conducted aboard McCain’s campaign airplane. Reporters James Carney and Michael Scherer described McCain as “prickly” and “at times, abrasive” during the course of the interview.

Carney and Scherer noted to McCain that the Iraqi government is calling for a deadline for U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq even though McCain’s previously stated definition of “victory” — “a peaceful, stable, prosperous democratic state” — has not been achieved. The Arizona senator dismissed their characterization of the situation, saying that Iraq is “a peaceful and stable country now”:

Q: Some members of the [Iraqi] government have made it clear in the last month or two that they might want to withdraw before complete stability, before totally secure borders, before some of the completeness of victory as you described. Is there any change, do you think there is some wiggle room there because what you described with Petraeus was an end point that was rather complete — a peaceful, stable country.

MCCAIN: Its a peaceful and stable country now.

Listen here:

Here are some examples (from just this month) of McCain’s so-called “peaceful and stable” Iraq:

August 9: A suicide car bomb in Tal Afar killed at least 25 people.

August 24: A suicide bomber killed 25 people, including women and children, in Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib district.

August 27: A suicide bomber killed 28 and wounded 45 in Iraq’s Diyala province.

Moreover, while U.S. troop deaths in Iraq reached their lowest point since the beginning of the war last month, they are on the rise again. According to icasulaties.org, 20 U.S. military personnel have been killed so far this month in Iraq — up from 13 in July.

But this isn’t the first time McCain’s assessment of the security situation in Iraq has been off. Last May he said the northern city of Mosul was “quiet” despite the fact that a car bomb had killed three and wounded nine there the very same day.

Original here

IAVA Director: If McCain Thinks The VA Isn’t Working, ‘It’s In Part Because He Hasn’t Funded It’

reickhoff24.jpgYesterday, Sen. John McCain promoted his veterans private health care “plastic card” in a speech to the American Legion. Though he insisted the “card is not intended to either replace the VA or privatize veterans’ health care,” veterans groups aren’t buying it. AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars all argue McCain’s scheme may undermine the VA.

Today ThinkProgress spoke to Paul Rieckhoff, Executive Director and Founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, at the Democratic National Convention. When we asked him what he thought of McCain’s private health card plan, Rieckhoff slammed McCain for blocking funding for the VA:

Basically every major veterans group is opposed to it so far, so I think that pretty much says it all. We’ve got to come up with a comprehensive solution to VA health care, and that starts with VA funding. Sen. McCain has consistently voted against expansion of VA funding. So if he says the VA’s not working, it’s in part because he hasn’t funded it properly. … A lot of vets groups are going to push back against the card because it may be on the path toward privatization. So we’ve got to really make the VA as strong as it can be, and that should be our priority.

Despite his repeated claims to the contrary, McCain’s record on veterans health funding is disappointing to say the least:

– Voted AGAINST providing $430 million to the VA for outpatient care “and treatment for veterans,” one of only 13 senators to do so. [4/26/06]

– Voted AGAINST increasing VA funding by $1.5 billion by closing corporate loopholes. [3/14/06]

– Voted AGAINST increasing VA funding by $1.8 billion by ending “abusive tax loopholes.” [3/10/04]

McCain can try to convince veterans groups that he opposes privatization, but considering his disdain for government-sponsored health care, it’s no surprise he wants to put veterans health into the hands of private business.

Original here

Cindy McCain's Half-Sister: I'm Voting For Obama

Cindy McCain's half-sister tells Us Magazine that she won't help put her famous sibling in the White House:

"I'm not voting for McCain," Kathleen Hensley Portalski tells Us. "I have a different political standpoint.


"I'm voting for Obama," the Phoenix resident says. "I think his proposals to improve the country are more positive and I'm not a big war believer."

...

Portalski's son Nathan, an aerospace machinist, is also backing Obama.

"I wouldn't vote for John McCain if he was a Democrat," he tells Us. "I would not vote at all before I'd vote for him.

"I question whether Cindy is someone I'd want to see in the White House as first lady," he adds.

Portalski went public with her connection to the McCains after hearing Cindy say on the trail that she was an only child.

"I'm upset," she told NPR. "I'm angry. It makes me feel like a nonperson, kind of."

"It's terribly painful," Portalski added. "It is as if she is the 'real' daughter. I am also a real daughter."

The Washington Post subsequently reported that Cindy has another half-sister who seems to have slipped her mind:

Before her marriage to Hensley, Johnson had a daughter, Dixie Burd, by a previous relationship. Burd, who is much older than Cindy, could not be reached for comment.
Original here

Texas still leads nation in rate of uninsured residents

By JASON ROBERSON / The Dallas Morning News
jroberson@dallasnews.com

Texas once again led the nation with the highest percentage of residents without health insurance, a U.S. Census Bureau report showed Tuesday, although the same study also reports a slight dip last year in the percentage without coverage across the nation.

Almost one of every four Texas residents – 24.8 percent – were uninsured in 2006 and 2007, based on an average of the rates for those two years. That's up from 23.9 percent for 2004 and 2005.

The national number also increased a bit for the two-year period to 15.5 percent. However, looking at 2007 by itself, the percentage of uninsured in the country fell from 15.8 percent in 2006 to 15.3 percent in 2007. (State percentages were given only for two-year periods.)

California still has the highest number – not percentage – of uninsured residents at 6.7 million, compared with 5.7 million Texans. The Texas number is up from 5.5 million in 2006.

McCain adviser

But the numbers are misleading, said John Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis, a right-leaning Dallas-based think tank. Mr. Goodman, who helped craft Sen. John McCain's health care policy, said anyone with access to an emergency room effectively has insurance, albeit the government acts as the payer of last resort. (Hospital emergency rooms by law cannot turn away a patient in need of immediate care.)

"So I have a solution. And it will cost not one thin dime," Mr. Goodman said. "The next president of the United States should sign an executive order requiring the Census Bureau to cease and desist from describing any American – even illegal aliens – as uninsured. Instead, the bureau should categorize people according to the likely source of payment should they need care.

"So, there you have it. Voila! Problem solved."

Mr. Goodman's analysis drew a sharp response from the Center for Public Policy Priorities, an Austin-based think tank focusing on poverty issues. "That is not the same thing as having health insurance," said Eva Deluna, a budget analyst for the center. People without insurance are less likely to seek care, and when they do, the cost to the health system is greater, she said.

Fight on statistics

According to Mr. Goodman, only people who are denied care are truly uninsured – everyone who gets care is effectively insured by some mechanism. "So instead of producing worthless statistics that people fling around in vacuous editorials and pointless debates, the Census Bureau should produce meaningful numbers, identifying all of the sources of funds people will draw on if they need medical care," he said.

Ms. Deluna argued that the situation actually is worse now than the Census Bureau reported. The just-released data does not reflect the recent economic downturn, she said.

It makes no sense, she continued, for Texas to have the nation's highest percentage of uninsured residents, while having one of the nation's strongest economies for job growth.

In luring jobs to Texas, state and local officials have simply focused on the number of jobs, rather than on quality jobs offering health insurance, Ms Deluna said.

"People are working harder than ever, but the jobs they have don't provide health insurance," she said.

The number of Texans receiving health insurance through their jobs dropped to 11.9 million last year, from 12.1 million the year before, according to the Census Bureau.

Nationally, the overall number without insurance fell to 45.7 million last year, from 47 million in 2006.

The decline came as more Americans shifted to government Medicaid and Medicare coverage, said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, a nonprofit health care advocacy group in Washington D.C.

An estimated 1.3 million additional people signing up for Medicaid and 1 million more signing up for Medicare were the main drivers of the lower uninsured rate, he said. "Ironically, this all happened while the president was trying to cut back on Medicaid," Mr. Pollack said.

Household incomes

In other findings, the report said:

• The nation's official poverty rate in 2007 was 12.5 percent, unchanged from 2006. However, the number of Americans living in poverty grew to 37.3 million in 2007, up from 36.5 million in 2006.

• Real median income, adjusted for inflation, rose for both black and non-Hispanic white households between 2006 and 2007, representing the first real increase in annual household income for each group since 1999.

• Among racial groups, black households had the lowest median income in 2007 at $33,916. That compares with a median of $54,920 for non-Hispanic white households. Asian households had the highest median income, $66,103. The median income for Hispanic households was $38,679.

Original here

McCain's Prickly TIME Interview

For years, John McCain's marathon bull sessions with reporters were more than a means of delivering a message; they were the message. McCain proudly, flagrantly refused direction from handlers, rarely dodged tough questions and considered those who did wimps and frauds. The style told voters that he was unafraid, that he had nothing to hide and that what you see is what you get. "Anything you want to talk about," he promised reporters aboard the Straight Talk Express in Iowa back in March 2007. "One of the fundamental principles of the bus is that there is no such thing as a dumb question." When asked if he would keep the straight talk coming, McCain replied, "You think I could survive if I didn't? We'd never be forgiven ... I'd have to hire a food taster, somebody to start my car in the morning." Even after he won the GOP nomination, he demanded that his new campaign plane be configured to include a sofa up front so he could re-create the Straight Talk Express at 30,000 ft.

Sticking to the old formula seemed like a good idea. But with the press focused on Obama, McCain got attention only when he slipped up during one of his patented freewheeling encounters with reporters. And so in July, the campaign decided to clamp down on the candidate. Open-ended question time was reduced to almost nothing, and the famously unscripted McCain began heeding his talking points, even as his aides maintained he missed the old informality.

And so when TIME's James Carney and Michael Scherer were invited to the front of McCain's plane recently for an interview, they were ushered forward, past the curtain that now separates reporters from the candidate, past the sofa that was designed for his gabfests with the press and taken straight to the candidate's seat. McCain at first seemed happy enough to do the interview. But his mood quickly soured. The McCain on display in the 24-minute interview was prickly, at times abrasive, and determined not to stray off message. An excerpt:

What do you want voters to know coming out of the Republican Convention — about you, about your candidacy?
I'm prepared to be President of the United States, and I'll put my country first.

There's a theme that recurs in your books and your speeches, both about putting country first but also about honor. I wonder if you could define honor for us?
Read it in my books.

I've read your books.
No, I'm not going to define it.

But honor in politics?
I defined it in five books. Read my books.

[Your] campaign today is more disciplined, more traditional, more aggressive. From your point of view, why the change?
I will do as much as we possibly can do to provide as much access to the press as possible.

But beyond the press, sir, just in terms of ...
I think we're running a fine campaign, and this is where we are.

Do you miss the old way of doing it?
I don't know what you're talking about.

Really? Come on, Senator.
I'll provide as much access as possible ...

In 2000, after the primaries, you went back to South Carolina to talk about what you felt was a mistake you had made on the Confederate flag. Is there anything so far about this campaign that you wish you could take back or you might revisit when it's over?
[Does not answer.]

Do I know you? [Says with a laugh.]
[Long pause.] I'm very happy with the way our campaign has been conducted, and I am very pleased and humbled to have the nomination of the Republican Party.

You do acknowledge there was a change in the campaign, in the way you had run the campaign?
[Shakes his head.]

You don't acknowledge that? O.K., when your aides came to you and you decided, having been attacked by Barack Obama, to run some of those ads, was there a debate?
The campaign responded as planned.

Jumping around a bit: in your books, you've talked about what it was like to go through the Keating Five experience, and you've been quoted as saying it was one of the worst experiences of your life. Someone else quoted you as saying it was even worse than being a POW ...
That's another one of those statements made 17 or 18 years ago which was out of the context of the conversation I was having. Of course the worst, the toughest experience of my life was being imprisoned, so people can pluck phrases from 17 or 18 years ago ...

I wasn't suggesting it as a negative thing. I was just saying that ...
I'm just suggesting it was taken out of context. I understand how comments are taken out of context from time to time. But obviously, the toughest time of my life, physically and [in] every other way, would be the time that I almost died in prison camp. And I think most Americans understand that.

How different are you from President Bush? Are you in step with your party? Are you independent from your party?
My record shows that I have put my country first and I follow the philosophy and traditions of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. Sometimes that is not in keeping with the present Administration or my colleagues, but I've always put my country first, whether it's saying I didn't support the decision to go to Lebanon or my fighting against the corruption in Washington or out-of-control pork-barrel spending, which has led to members of Congress residing in federal prison. So I've always stood up for a set of principles and a philosophy that I think have been pretty consistent over the years.

Your tougher line on Russia, which predated [the Russian invasion of Georgia], now to many looks prescient. Others say it's indicative of a belligerent approach to foreign policy that would perhaps further exacerbate the tensions being created with our allies and others around the world under the Bush Administration. How do you respond to that critique?
Well, it reminds me of some of the arguments we went through when Ronald Reagan became President of the United States. I think Russian behavior has been very clear, and I've pointed it out for quite a period of time, and the chronicle of their actions has been well known since President [Vladimir] Putin came to power, and I believe that it's very important that Russia behave in a manner befitting a very strong nation. They're not doing so at this time, so therefore I will criticize and in some cases — in the case of the aggression against Georgia — condemn them.

You were a very enthusiastic supporter of the invasion of Iraq and, in the early stages, of the Bush Administration's handling of the war. Are those judgments you'd like to revisit?
Well, my record is clear. I believe that the world is better off without Saddam Hussein. I believe it's clear that he had every intention to acquire and use weapons of mass destruction. I can only imagine what Saddam Hussein would be doing with the wealth he would acquire with oil at $110 and $120 a barrel. I was one of the first to point out the failure of strategy in Iraq under [former Defense Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld. I was criticized for being disloyal to the Republicans and the President. I was the first to say I would lose a campaign rather than lose a war. I supported the surge. No observer over the last two years would say the surge hasn't succeeded. I believe we did the right thing.

A lot of people know about your service from your books, but most people don't know that you have two sons currently in the military. Can you describe what it means to have Jack and Jimmy in uniform?

Original here

Pushing Russia Into the Cold

A year after taking power, in June 1934, Adolf Hitler made his first visit abroad — to his idol Benito Mussolini in Venice.

Babbling on incessantly about "Mein Kampf "and the Negroid strain in Mediterranean peoples, the Fuhrer made a dismal impression.

"What a clown this Hitler is," Mussolini told an aide.

Two weeks later, Hitler executed the Roehm purge and murdered scores of old Stormtrooper comrades. In late July, Austrian Nazis, attempting a coup, assassinated Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss, a friend of Mussolini whose wife and child were then his guests.

Il Duce ordered four divisions to the Brenner Pass and flew to Vienna to vent his rage and disgust with Hitler. He called a summit at Stresa with Britain and France to agree on military action should Hitler make any new move in violation of Versailles.

At the time, however, Il Duce was also plotting revenge on Abyssinia for a bloody border clash with Italian Somaliland.

Mussolini thought his Allies would understand if he invaded the Ogaden to add an African colony to his new Roman Empire, just as the British and French had so often done in previous decades.

Mussolini miscalculated. Morally outraged, Britain and France went before the League of Nations and had sanctions imposed on Italy that were too weak to defeat her but punitive enough to insult her.

Friendless, isolated and condemned as an aggressor by Europe, Italy and Mussolini had nowhere to turn now but Hitler's Germany.

Thus, over the fate of an Abyssinian slave empire, Britain drove her faithful World War I ally into the arms of a Nazi dictator Mussolini loathed and had wished to confront beside Britain. And Abyssinia was overrun.

Are we making the same mistake in the Caucasus?

Mikheil Saakashvili started this war with his barrage attack and occupation of South Ossetia. Russia's war of retribution was far less violent or excessive than the U.S. bombing of Serbia for 78 days over Kosovo, or our unprovoked war on Saddam Hussein's Iraq, which has brought death to scores of thousands, or Israel's 35 days of bombing of Lebanon for a border skirmish with Hezbollah.

Yet, declared John McCain of Russia, "In the 21st century, nations don't invade other nations." Even Dick Cheney must have guffawed.

Russia must get out now, adds Bush, for South Ossetia and Abkhazia belong to a sovereign Georgia. But when did Bush demand that Israel get off the Golan Heights or withdraw from the birthplace of Jesus, which Israelis have occupied for 41 years, as he demands that Russia get out of the birthplace of Joseph Stalin, which Russia has occupied for two weeks?

As Israel was provoked in 1967, so, too, was Russia provoked.

Russians died in Saakashvili's attack, as American died in Pancho Villa's raid on New Mexico in 1916. We sent "Black Jack" Pershing, future Gen. George Patton and a U.S. army 300 miles into Mexico to kill Villa. Was this proportionate?

If we proceed on a course of isolating Russia from the West, keeping her out of the World Trade Organization, throwing her out of the G-8 and ending cooperation with NATO, where do we think Russia will go? Where did Il Duce go, when he was excommunicated from the West?

Condi Rice compares Vladimir Putin's action in Georgia to Leonid Brezhnev's crushing of the Prague Spring in 1968. She raced to Warsaw to ink a deal to put 10 anti-missile missiles and U.S. Patriot missiles manned by Americans into Poland.

Does the Stanford provost have any idea where the end of this road lies, upon which she and Bush have started the United States?

What do we do if Russia responds to our Patriots in Poland with the Russian S-300 anti-aircraft system in Iran and Syria?

If the United States intends to bring Georgia and Ukraine into NATO and arm them to fight Russia, why should Russia not dissolve the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe and move her tank armies into Belarus and up to the borders of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania?

Would we send U.S. troops into the Baltic republics to signal that we will fight Russia to honor our NATO war guarantees? Which NATO allies would fight alongside us against a nuclear-armed Russia?

If we bring Ukraine into NATO, what do we do if Russified east Ukraine secedes and Russia sends troops to back the rebels? Do we send warships into Russia's bathtub, the Black Sea, and commit to fight as long as it takes to restore Ukraine's territorial integrity?

In March 1939, Britain pledged to declare war and fight Germany to the death to guarantee the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Poland. How did that one turn out for Britain and Poland?

Before we start down the road of isolating and encircling Russia with weak NATO allies, let us think through Gen. Petraeus' question in 2003 about Iraq, "Tell me, how does this thing end?"

But, then, these folks never seem to think anything through.

To find out more about Patrick Buchanan, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

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