Archive for John McCain

The Wisdom Of Thomas Jefferson, Libya, Obama, And Other Matters

Do revolutions usually benefit people?

The historian, Niall Ferguson, gives us this beautiful example from Thomas Jefferson writing about the French Revolution:

Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson hailed the French Revolution. “The French have served an apprenticeship to Liberty in this country,” wrote the former, “and now … they have set up for themselves.” Jefferson even defended the Jacobins, architects of the bloody Reign of Terror. “The liberty of the whole earth was depending on the issue of the contest,” he wrote in 1793, “and was ever such a prize won with so little innocent blood? … Rather than [the revolution] should have failed, I would have seen half the earth desolated.”

He was a chop-off-their-heads kind of guy, apparently.

Russian Revolution? You bet.

In Ten Days That Shook the World, the journalist John Reed was equally enthusiastic about the Russian Revolution of 1917, a book for which Lenin himself (“great Lenin” to Reed) wrote an enthusiastic preface. Reed’s counterpart in China’s communist revolution was Edgar Snow, whose characterization of Mao—“He had the simplicity and naturalness of the Chinese peasant, with a lively sense of humor and a love of rustic laughter”—today freezes the blood.

I once read a statistic that claimed that roughly 80 million people died in the 20th century under communist regimes; 50 million separately as a result of WWII. This means that communism, worker’s paradise, managed to off more people than Adolf Hitler, although the communists took much longer. As usual, I digress.

Time and again, Americans have hailed revolutions, only to fall strangely silent as those same revolutions proceeded to devour not only their own children but many other people’s too. In each case the body count was in the millions.

So as you watch revolution sweeping through the Arab world (and potentially beyond), remember these three things about non-American revolutions:

* They take years to unfold. It may have seemed like glad confident morning in 1789, 1917, and 1949. Four years later it was darkness at noon.

* They begin by challenging an existing political order, but the more violence is needed to achieve that end, the more the initiative passes to men of violence—Robespierre, Stalin, and the supremely callous Mao himself.

* Because neighboring countries feel challenged by the revolution, internal violence is soon followed by external violence, either because the revolution is genuinely threatened by foreigners (as in the French and Russian cases) or because it suits the revolutionaries to blame an external threat for domestic problems (as when China intervened in the Korean War).

Would McCain have done a better job than Obama? Ferguson thinks Obama is a hopeless, feckless dope and that McCain would have had a much better strategy. Check the link for the full argument, but this is the result of Obama’s weakness:

No such effort has been made in the Arab world. On the contrary, efforts in that direction have been scaled down. The result is that we have absolutely no idea who is going to fill today’s vacuums of power. Only the hopelessly naive imagine that 30-something Google executives will emerge as the new leaders of the Arab world, aided by their social network of Facebook friends. The far more likely outcome—as in past revolutions—is that power will pass to the best organized, most radical, and most ruthless elements in the revolution, which in this case means Islamists like the Muslim Brotherhood.

The second part of our strategy should have been to exploit the divisions within the Islamist movement. These are very deep, most obviously because Shiite Iran has an altogether different vision of an Islamicized Middle East than, say, Wahhabi Al Qaeda. As I write, the Iranians have made their most brazen move yet by sending two warships through the Suez Canal into the eastern Mediterranean. This should not worry only Israel. It should also worry Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who dreams of a revived Ottoman Empire as the dominant power in the region.

In the absence of an American strategy, the probability of a worst-case scenario creeps up every day—a scenario of the sort that ultimately arose in revolutionary France, Russia, and China. First the revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East could turn much more violent, with a death toll running into tens or hundreds of thousands. Then they could spark a full-blown war, claiming millions of lives. Worst of all, out of that war could emerge an enemy as formidable as Napoleon’s France, Stalin’s Soviet Union, or Mao’s China.

- Aggie

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Iran, Obama, The Bomb

Who said this?

“There is a huge disconnect between what they are doing and how we are responding, and it reflects the wishful thinking that has characterized appeasement policies in the past.” [The speaker]mentioned the famous photograph of Jimmy Carter kissing Leonid Brezhnev.

If you guessed John McCain, you’re right.

McCain then graduated to an even harsher comparison. He said he had been rereading William Manchester’s biography of Winston Churchill and was struck by the similarities between the naïveté of Neville Chamberlain and the willingness of the Obama administration to accommodate the mullahs. “They’re just flailing. A few days ago the president said he wanted to talk some more,” McCain said, incredulous, referring to Obama’s message on Nowruz, the Iranian new year, which renewed the administration’s offer for negotiations. The overture, following Iran’s dismissal of several previous “final” deadlines for new talks, is “consistent with the thread of appeasement throughout history. It’s that same idea that if we’re nice to our enemies, they’ll do what we want.”

Another consequence of the disastrous election of 2008.

- Aggie

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Class Will Out

I wish the dumb sumbitch had won the election, but even at 5-7, he towers above his colleagues:

“It was thorough, and it was complete, and I am so proud that Sarah Palin agreed to be my running mate,” he said in response to a question about the vetting. “And the facts are stubborn things, as Ronald Reagan used to say. The fact is that it energized our party. It gave us a very much-needed impetus, and Sarah Palin’s popularity continues very strongly to this day. And the hysterical attacks from the liberal left are ample indication of the threat that she poses to the liberal left and especially the feminist, radical-left movement in this country.”

McCain said he recently spoke to Palin to congratulate her on her new gig as a Fox News political analyst.

“And she’ll be coming to Arizona, I’m sure,” he said.

Some have questioned why Palin, Rush, et al haven’t been seen anywhere near the Brown campaign. I love them both, but Scott chose his Republican friends wisely. Only John McCain and Rudy Giuliani, among all national Republicans, have cut spots or made appearances. Both play well here.

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Sausage Making

I can take the odd bits of gristle, offal, and hair in my links—but this?

As the stomach turns:

Mr. McCAIN. Could I ask my friend about the situation as it exists right now? Right now, no Member on this side has any idea as to the specifics of the proposal the majority leader, I understand, has sent to OMB for some kind of scoring. Is that the way we want to do business, that a proposal that will be presented to the Senate sometime next week and voted on immediately–that is what we are told–is that the way to do business in a bipartisan fashion? Should we not at least be informed as to what the proposal is the Senate majority leader is going to propose to the entire Senate within a couple days? Shouldn’t we even know what it is?

Mr. DURBIN. I would say to the Senator from Arizona, I am in the dark almost as much as he is, and I am in the leadership. The reason is, because the Congressional Budget Office, which scores the managers’ amendment, the so-called compromise, has told us, once you publicly start debating it, we will publicly release it. We want to basically see whether it works, whether it works to continue to reduce the deficit, whether it works to continue to reduce the growth in health care costs.

We had a caucus after this was submitted to the Congressional Budget Office, where Senator Reid and other Senators who were involved in it basically stood and said: We are sorry, we can’t tell you in detail what was involved. But you will learn, everyone will learn, it will be as public information as this bill currently is on the Internet. But the Congressional Budget Office has tied our hands at this point putting it forward. Basically, what I know is what you know, having read press accounts of what may be included.

Mr. McCAIN. I admit these are unusual times. But isn’t that a very unusual process, that here we are discussing one-sixth of the gross national product; the bill before us has been a product of almost a year of sausage-making. Yet here we are at a position on December 12, with a proposal that none of us, except, I understand, one person, the majority leader, knows what the final parameters are, much less informing the American people. I don’t get it.

Mr. DURBIN. I think the Senator is correct, saying most of us know the fundamentals, but we do not know the important details behind this. What I am saying is, this is not the choice of the majority leader. It is the choice of the Congressional Budget Office. We may find that something that was sent over there doesn’t work at all, doesn’t fly. They may say this is not going to work, start over. So we have to reserve the right to do that, and I think that is why we are waiting for the Congressional Budget Office scoring, as they call it, to make sure it hits the levels we want, in terms of deficit reduction and reducing the cost of health care.
It is frustrating on your side. It is frustrating here. But I am hoping, in a matter of hours, maybe days, we will receive the CBO report.

Winston Churchill said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried. I wonder if today he’d like to shorten that statement by eight words.

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Listen Up Seniors: McCain Tried To Stop Medicare Cuts, Dems Voted To Keep Them

The Senate dems just voted to retain 500 billion of cuts to medicare

I sometimes wonder if Seniors have lost their glasses. How is it that they are not protesting outside the Capitol? Is the fine print too small to read? Or perhaps NPR isn’t reporting it? And AARP is whispering soothing words into their hearing aids, I suppose.

The U.S. Senate on Thursday rejected an attempt by Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) to strip Medicare spending cuts from health-care overhaul legislation and effectively scuttle the bill in its current form.

The health-care bill currently contains hundreds of billions of dollars in reductions to Medicare payments to privately run Medicare plans and some health- care providers, as well as through an independent commission that would be empowered to reduce Medicare spending. McCain’s amendment would have sent the bill back to committee with instructions to remove the cuts.

The amendment was rejected by a 58-42 vote.

McCain cast the bill’s Medicare provisions as an attack on senior citizens.

“These cuts would harm seniors who have paid into the program and expect it to be there to help them with their health care,” McCain said.

Republicans cited a proposed $118 billion reduction in payments to privately run Medicare plans, known as Medicare Advantage, as a particularly painful measure for seniors. Insurers that run the plans would be subject to a new competitive bidding system.

Democrats contend that the Medicare Advantage plans are overpaid by the federal government and are therefore able to offer their enrollees fringe benefits that aren’t included in the traditional “fee-for-service” Medicare plan administered by the government. The leading seniors’ group, AARP, said in a statement that the McCain amendment would “do nothing to improve Medicare benefits and essentially stop health reform in its tracks.”

Wild and crazy prediction: Five years from now, when these cuts kick in, we’re going to have some pissed-off seniors. I’ll be one of them.

- Aggie

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A Walk Down Memory Lane


Inconvenient truths about the economic meltdown

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Cat Got His Tongue?

I appreciate the position President Obama is in with regard to Iran: say too much, and risk being accused of meddling and tampering by the mullahs; say too little and risk being on the wrong side of history:

Senator John McCain said today that the United States needs to be on the “right side of history” in responding to the disputed Iranian elections and ensuing protests.

“America’s position in the world is one of moral leadership,” the senator said. “It’s not about what takes place in the streets of Iran. It is about what takes place in America’s conscience.”

“America has a moral obligation” to provide moral and other forms of support, he said.

“The fact is, America has been and will be the beacon of hope and freedom,” McCain said. “We are on their side as they seek freedom,” he said of the protestors.

You can’t tell me that a president with the best teleprompter money can buy can’t speak more forcefully about America’s inbred sympathy with those who seek freedom. Hell, even President Bush could do that.

But the smartest, cleanest, most articulate president ACORN and Soros could buy can’t do any better than this:

“The Iranian government must understand that the world is watching,” Obama said in a statement yesterday. “We mourn each and every innocent life that is lost. We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people.”

Maybe it’s better if you set it to music:

Allons enfants de la patrie,
We call on the Iranian government to
Stop all violent and unjust actions
Against its own people.

Maybe not.

But there is one subject that does stir the president:

You know, the legislation I’m signing today represents change that’s been decades in the making. Since at least the middle of the last century, we’ve known about the harmful and often deadly effects of tobacco products.

Each day, 1,000 young people under the age of 18 become new, regular, daily smokers. And almost 90 percent of all smokers began at or before their 18th birthday.

I know — I was one of these teenagers, and so I know how difficult it can be to break this habit when it’s been with you for a long time.

Smoking is often called a dirty habit. So we can scratch “smart” and “clean” from the list of his attributes.

As for articulate, even lies can be articulate. Smoking already has been regulated for decades—with success. Far fewer people smoke today than 20 or 30 years ago. And through taxes government makes a lot more money per pack than Big Tobacco does.

And would His Articulateness care to explain this?

The future of menthol cigarettes, smoked by 12 million Americans and 75 percent of African American smokers, could be the next flashpoint in a decades-long campaign against smoking in the United States.

The bill outlawed flavorings like chocolate, cherry and cloves that can attract young people to start smoking — but excluded menthol, by far the most popular flavoring accounting for around 27 percent of the cigarette market.

So little black kids can still get hooked on butts, and that’s okay with this president?

Whatever. You voted for him.

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McCain Makes Sense

He may not have been a great candidate, but would have been a much better President

Obama got to work from day one by ordering a halt to prosecutions of Guantanamo Bay prisoners, followed by an order to close the detention facility within a year and ban torture. But McCain told King he thinks the new president may have been hasty in the decision and should have taken the time to consider everything associated with closing the camp before forcing himself into a timetable.

“I think that it’s a wise move,” McCain said about closing Guantanamo Bay. “But I also think that we should have addressed this whole issue completely, because it did not address the issue of those who we have in custody and can’t — and no country will take them back. We should have addressed the issue of those who we know would pose a threat to the United States, but we don’t have sufficient evidence to move forward.” Video Watch McCain talk about the problem with closing Guantanamo Bay »

McCain said instead of closing Guantanamo Bay outright, he would have first continued the military commissions, which “after years of delay and obfuscation” were finally moving toward trials.

“So, the easy part, in all due respect, is to say we’re going to close Guantanamo,” McCain said. “Then I think I would have said where they were going to be taken. Because you’re going to run into a NIMBY [not in my backyard] problem here in the United States of America.”

Ya’ Think?

- Aggie

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Stop it God, You’re Killing Me!

Barack Obama raised over $600 million dollars from foreign sources, Disney characters, and outright credit card fraud, while John McCain could barely sell enough brownies to cover his antacid costs—and Sarah Palin can only wash so many cars.

But guess who gets audited???

Oh, my sides! Almighty, you’re one twisted sumbitch:

Why would they want to audit Obama? The biggest fundraising operation in political history, infused with hundreds of millions of dollars from contributors whose names the campaign refuses to reveal, dependent upon a donation mechanism whose security measures were suspiciously and inexplicably disabled, and accused by reputable publications of having looked the other way at fraudulent donations that would have been detected immediately with cursory oversight.

Aside from that, I mean, why would they want to audit him?

The punchline? It’s because he’s rolling in dough that they’re less inclined to check him out.

Obama is expected to escape that level of scrutiny mostly because he declined an $84 million public grant for his campaign that automatically triggers an audit and because the sheer volume of cash he raised and spent minimizes the significance of his errors. Another factor: The FEC, which would have to vote to launch an audit, is prone to deadlocking on issues that inordinately impact one party or the other – like approving a messy and high-profile probe of a sitting president.

Barack Obama is so overdrawn at the karma bank, his eventual fall may leave a huge crater and kill off large land mammals.

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Why You Should Vote for Barack Obama

Because it will make him feel really good about himself—and that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

John McCain unveiled a new attack on Barack Obama, criticizing his comment that his victory in Iowa’s caucuses last winter had “vindicated” his faith in the American people.

“My faith in the American people was vindicated and what you started here in Iowa swept the nation,” Obama said.

Me, I think I’ll vote for the guy who served his nation longer under North Vietnamese torture than Obama has enjoyed arugula salads in the US Senate commissary.

What is it with Democrats and pretentious leafy green vegetables anyway? Anybody remember Dukakis and Belgian endive? Anybody remember Dukakis at all? Oh, and I like arugula, by the way, and grow it in my own garden.

But back to the Assumption election: John McCain begs to differ:

“My country has never had to prove anything to me, my friends,” McCain said while campaigning in the Washington suburbs in northern Virginia. “I’ve always had faith in it and I’ve been humbled and honored to serve it.

I haven’t been able to articulate this before, but it seems to me that the unspoken slogan of the Obama campaign is “He completes us.” For too many of you people (I’m talking to America now), he had you at hello. (Both lines from Jerry Maguire, if you couldn’t place them.) You stopped listening, stopped thinking.

Which is where we come in.

If he were running for Roman emperor, I’d say sure, go ahead, Barackus Obamacus is your man (deification will follow shortly)—vero possumus. He’s got the motto, the imperial seal, even the temple columns all ready to go.

And that’s not all he’s got:

“But I know this, Colorado, the time for change has come. We have a righteous wind at our back.”

I could make a juvenile comment about the “righteous wind” coming from the frijoles and arugula enchiladas on the campaign bus, but who else talks this way? I said deification would come later—but it may already have happened.

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President McCain

Now that I have your attention.

It kind of has a nice ring to it:

Right now, it’s only on Drudge, and … well, it’s Zogby. Still, it’s going in the direction we all believed the race was heading:

ZOGBY SATURDAY: Republican John McCain has pulled back within the margin of error… McCain outpolled Obama 48% to 47% in Friday, one day, polling. He is beginning to cut into Obama’s lead among independents, is now leading among blue collar voters, has strengthened his lead among investors and among men, and is walloping Obama among NASCAR voters.

What are we to make of polls that can’t even come close to identifying a clear trend. Is Obama up by ten or down by one?

My guess is that there are isolated pockets of voters who are strongly committed to either ticket—Obama inspires one side, Palin the other—and the results are dependent on which pockets the pollsters hit, and how deeply into them they reach. But if McCain is making gains among independents, and if his (or Palin’s) supporters really commit to him, the Zogby number just might be believable—and sustainable on election day. (The state-by-state polls are not, however, following this same trend—at least not yet.)

I read somewhere that McCain plans to outspend Obama over the last weekend, in pursuit of the theory that undecideds don’t decide until the last 72 hours. Let it be so.

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Huh…

I’ve been looking at the polls showing Barack Obama’s lead shrinking daily (Rasmussen has it at 3%)—but haven’t seen a similar move in the state-by-state polls. I admit that may because I didn’t want to look any closer at the carnage—but today I did.

In poll after poll, the Rasmussen tally (which samples the highest number and boasts the lowest margin of error) shows McCain within four points: in Colorado, in Virginia, in Florida, in Ohio, in Nevada, in New Hampshire. All states where Obama is declared the leader, and all states where McCain needs to win—and most states which Bush won twice—just four points. And if McCain does win them, and if he wins the other states even more closely contested as well as the states where he leads, he will have 278 electoral votes: victory.

Now, you can object all you want—McCain is trailing in all those contests, you remind us—but ask yourself this: a week ago did you expect it to be this close?

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