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McCain's Inner Circle -- Revisited

Roughly one year ago, The Fix started to look at the closest advisers to each of the declared or potential presidential candidates -- the men and women tasked with winning the nomination for their White House hopeful.

John McCain
John McCain right, is embraced by Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), left, as he greets supporters Feb. 12 after winning the Potomac Primary .(AP Photo)

No one's inner circle has changed more over that period of time than the group surrounding the near-certain Republican nominee -- John McCain.

When we first wrote about McCain's inner circle in May 2007 -- the list included a veritable who's who of well-regarded Republican strategists, a reflection of the sense at the time that the Arizona senator was the frontrunner for the GOP nomination.

By the end of the summer, McCain's campaign was in disarray -- short on money and senior staff. In fact, of the 10 people we listed as belonging to McCain's inner circle in May, half were gone by the end of the summer, including campaign manager Terry Nelson and McCain's longtime political capo -- John Weaver.

With little money and incredibly long odds at winning the nomination, McCain went to a skeleton staff led by new campaign manager Rick Davis. A small group of loyalists -- numbering just six -- guided McCain's campaign back from the brink of elimination. Now, that same circle will form the core group of strategists as McCain looks to the general election, although it is almost sure to grow considerably in the coming months. (One notable exception in the inner circle -- no pollster!)

Here's a look at who they are (in alphabetical order):

Charlie Black: Black made his name as a political strategist in the 1980s and 1990s working as a senior operative for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Since then Black has become a pillar of the Washington Republican establishment through his lobbying firm BKSH & Associates. Black, who was intimately involved in both of George W. Bush's national campaigns, was with McCain from the early days of this contest and has risen to a position of considerable prominence as a result. Black knows the ways of Washington and makes sure McCain's business is taken care inside the Beltway.

Rick Davis: Davis was launched from a secondary role to the most prominent position in the campaign during the staff shakeup last summer. Davis knew what he was getting into, since he managed McCain's insurgent 2000 campaign for president. Davis has been given considerable credit internally for pushing to take out a $3 million loan rather than have McCain accept public financing and for letting McCain be McCain. Davis is also close to McCain's wife, Cindy.

Lindsey Graham: The South Carolina senator has been McCain's staunchest ally among elected officials for much of the past eight years. In 2000, Graham, then a House Member, endorsed McCain early on. Elected to the Senate in 2002, Graham re-upped with McCain as soon as it became clear that the Arizona senator was going to run again. Graham deserves considerable credit for helping get McCain over the hump in last month's Palmetto State primary, but he is more than just a single-state strategist for the campaign. Graham, the rare politician who combines and understanding of policy and politics, remains involved on a day in, day out basis.

Mark McKinnon: McKinnon was another Bush campaign strategist who inked a deal with McCain in the early days of campaign 2008. McKinnon was to be part of a media consulting team that included Russ Schriefer, Stuart Stevens and Fred Davis. When McCain's campaign imploded, three of the four left. (A month after departing McCain, Stevens and Schriefer joined former governor Mitt Romney's team.) McKinnon stuck around, telling The Post's Dan Balz: "I'm in it 'til the last dog dies." McKinnon's perseverance paid off -- big time. (Though how long he'll stick around isn't clear; McKinnon gave a signal that he might not be a part of the McCain team if Sen. Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee. "I would simply be uncomfortable being in a campaign that would be inevitably attacking Barack Obama," McKinnon told National Public Radio.)

Mark Salter: Salter is perhaps the person in the inner circle with the closest personal relationship with McCain. Salter served as McCain's chief of staff and co-author of McCain's books, and he is widely regarded as the senator's alter ego. Rumors flew wildly over the summer that Salter would follow Weaver, Nelson and others out the door, but he stuck around and, with New Hampshire lead strategist Mike Dennehy, made sure the ground was laid for a Granite State comeback.

Steve Schmidt: Schmidt, one of a handful of the most influential strategists in the 2004 Bush reelection effort, took on a larger and larger role in McCain's campaign as summer turned to fall. The endorsement of McCain by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had Schmidt's name all over it; the consummate behind the scenes player had managed the Governator's 2006 reelection race and has remained close to Schwarzenegger. Schmidt, with considerable general election experience, is sure to see his influence grow as the campaign turns its focus on November.

By Chris Cillizza  |  February 14, 2008; 5:00 AM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008 , Inner Circle  
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Comments

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Posted by: uzlex ignltxs | April 16, 2008 9:28 AM | Report abuse

upwtijyka mgcxsqvw mlgzfnvwq vjlw gxsohydvc czry lmectzis

Posted by: uzlex ignltxs | April 16, 2008 9:28 AM | Report abuse

upwtijyka mgcxsqvw mlgzfnvwq vjlw gxsohydvc czry lmectzis

Posted by: uzlex ignltxs | April 16, 2008 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Blarg,

Bad food: try soft drinks and snack food. I would say create another sin tax just as we tax alcohol and tobacco tax junk food to reduce its consumption. If I had to get the biggest bang for my buck, I would focus on soft drinks. I think there is some medical report which actually list soft drinks as the leading cause of obesity (not sure where I heard that maybe my wife...she is a stay at home mom who is a pediatrician and who lets me know when my portions of food are not healthy). Personal responsibility is also factor and how do you get people to take responsibility for their actions (neither party takes responsibility for anything and both love to blame the other). You have to give people incentives to change and tax breaks for people who stay fit is another alternative to sin tax. Just how you would set a metric on the results for the tax break I have not a clue.

Posted by: sltiowa | February 15, 2008 8:25 AM | Report abuse

I said "I know work with USDA..." It should have read "I now work with USDA"

Posted by: sltiowa | February 14, 2008 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Blarg,

Please supply me with the peer reviewed article supporting your additional food value of crops grown organically vs. conventionally. Simply washing your food before you eat will elimate pesticide residue. And by the way, newer pesticides are a lot more earth friendly than you think. Use rates have dropped from kg/ha to g/ha. I used to work for DuPont in their pesticide division as an environmental fate chemist. I know work for the USDA looking at the effect animal feeding operation have on air quality or as you would as factory farms affect on air quality.

In terms of carbon foot print, do you know how farmers control for weeds grown organically or you know how they control for pests? The measures are both labor intensive and machine intensive. If we are to raise the food to feed this country and the rest of the world, we will need to employ those measures. The carbon foot print would increase due to increase numbers of people who will be require to raise our basic food needs (each extra person focused on raising food will add a certain carbon foot print to the process) and additional mechanical measures (tractors going through the field, use of propane to control certain pest, etc.) to control pests will also add to that foot print. You are rather foolish in your idealism.. Food grown today organically gets premium dollar so they can absorb these additional costs in labor and machine costs. Who will absorb the cost when we go organic?

Posted by: sltiowa | February 14, 2008 6:31 PM | Report abuse

Numerous studies have shown that organically-grown food does have more nutritional value than conventionally-grown. Eating organic also means that you aren't eating pesticides and toxic chemicals used in conventional agriculture. And your statement about carbon footprint is ludicrous. Labor-intensiveness has nothing to do with carbon emissions.

I don't see how you can recognize that the major problem is people eating too much food that's empty of nutritional value, but say that my solutions are wrong. The reason people eat too much bad food is because there's too much cheap bad food out there, and my solutions would fix that problem. Since you clearly know so much about how food is raised, why don't you share your solution?

Posted by: Blarg | February 14, 2008 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Blarg,

I originally posted before you wrote your big picture policy statement. I was responding to your first post. I intended to write bizarre not buzzard which is rather bizarre. My second post was in response to your policy statement.

Posted by: sltiowa | February 14, 2008 5:37 PM | Report abuse

The thing missing here is heredity. Diabetes being the more prevalent. Heart, [Cholesterol and HBP ] and Stroke should be in the same category because the more prevalent Factors are the same. The big one, Cancer, can be attributed to lifestyle and environment to a large degree. Diet also plays a major role when Obesity is found to be a major cause in almost all of these.

Posted by: lylepink | February 14, 2008 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Blarg,

The facts are we spend less on food per capital than any other nation and that includes going out to eat. The problem with this country is we overeat and we eat food empty of nutritional value. Obesity is our number one problem and it is a reason if we turn to socialized medicine our medical expenditures would go through the roof. People talk about how European countries provide cheaper expenditures but most European countries do not eat like us and most get more exercise than we do.

Switching from large scale agriculture to organically grown would wreck our economy in terms of costs, which includes man power and enorous increase in land require to raise the food. In terms of nutritional value, food grown organically has no additional nutritional value than food grown in large production (numerous studies have shown this). I would also add that growing food organically may increase our carbon foot print since farmers would have to employ labor intensive measures to control pest (both weeds and insects).

Looking at your suggestions shows me that you know little about how food is raised. You have gone to some web site which advocates your belief and you have cut and pasted it.

Posted by: sltiowa | February 14, 2008 5:27 PM | Report abuse

bsimon, I credited Pollan in my 4:16 post.

sltiowa, I apologize for being a buzzard, or whatever you're accusing me of.

Posted by: Blarg | February 14, 2008 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Blarg,

You suggestions are buzzard in of themselves and Pollan is hardly any guru of health. If Americans follow the nutritional guideline set down by the government and they obtained proper exercise, diseases associated with obesity would be in serious decline which happens to be this countries number one heath problem. There have been no scientific studies supporting your assessment. Please name your sources other than Mother Earth magazine.

If this country adopted Pollan suggestions in terms of raising food, the price of food would go through the roof and our work force would need a whole lot more illegal aliens to grow our food. Please explain to me how you think we are going to retool our entire economy and who will pay.

Farm policy and the history of the farm policy is a lot more complicated than Pollan suggests and my I add he has a certain tint in his glasses when he looks at history (but don't we all)

Posted by: sltiowa | February 14, 2008 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Blarg, that sounds like Pollan. Are you reading Omnivore's or Defense of Food? I finally picked up a paperback copy of Omnivore's Dilemma. Will get into it when I'm done with Bogle.

Posted by: bsimon | February 14, 2008 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Whenever I spend a long time making a post, this site has a tendency to eat it. Very frustrating.

Okay, I'll try again. Eliminate or totally overhaul the subsidy system for corn and soybeans. Get rid of factory farms. Reform USDA regulations to give smaller farmers a chance; it's extremely difficult to raise animals for meat as a small farmer. Promote organic farming by providing education and funding to farmers. Buy organic and locally-grown produce at government-owned facilities like schools, hospitals, and prisons. (Thus creating more of a market and bringing down prices.) Focus on educating consumers on what a healthy diet actually consists of.

I'm not an expert on farm policy, so that's about as specific as I can get. There are much more detailed treatments of these ideas elsewhere.

Posted by: Blarg | February 14, 2008 4:50 PM | Report abuse

How could/would we do it? Nuts and bolts.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 14, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

bsimon: I can't imagine the Dems not doing what they must, to in effect, stop another four years of GW. This "Idiot-Ology" cost us in 2000 and 2004 when Bubba was all but ignored. With The Media fanning the "Hillary Haters" some of the more respected members of our party must come forward, such as Glenn in Ohio.

Posted by: lylepink | February 14, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

I'll tell you how to defeat all 3 of them: Proper diet. And I don't mean stupid food guidelines about eating X servings of protein per day, or RDAs of individual vitamins. I mean a diet that involves eating real unprocessed foods, made of actual ingredients and not bizarre chemicals. US agricultural policy promotes heavily processed food that causes tremendous damage to our country's health, as well as the environment. (It screws small farmers too.) Changing our policies to promote real food, and make it more affordable, would have huge health benefits.

(Can anyone tell that I've been reading a lot of Michael Pollan lately?)

Posted by: Blarg | February 14, 2008 4:16 PM | Report abuse

I'm thinking about the more serious, but easily beatable diseases like:

diabetes
heart disease
hypertension

which can all be "prevented" with diet and excercise, but which cost the taxpayer BILLIONS per year.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 14, 2008 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Interesting.

I'm curious -- I haven't thought about it enough.

My wife the biologist really likes prevention.

I just don't know how to get it done.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 14, 2008 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Mike, I'll let Colin answer for himself, rather than put words in his mouth.

Mark in Austin has talked a bit about using walk in clinics to help defer costs to ERs; I think in a context intended to serve as preventative measures against (for example) simple colds turning into pneumonia & ER visits from the indigent. But, again, I'm guessing & don't want to misrepresent what he's posted.

Posted by: bsimon | February 14, 2008 3:50 PM | Report abuse

bsimon -- I understand the meaning of preventative medicine.

What role does the federal government play in your (or his) mind?

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 14, 2008 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Mike, I think Colin means that spending money on prevention of disease is an investment that saves money down the road. If you know anyone that's beat cancer after finding it early and someone who's lost the fight after finding it late & spending significant amounts of money to stretch life for a few months, you'll understand the argument.

Posted by: bsimon | February 14, 2008 3:43 PM | Report abuse

lyle, your argument would be much more compelling if you actually made one. As it stands, posts like your 3:15 contribution amount to little more than fingers-in-the-ears and "LA LA LA LA I'm not listening!"

If Obama has zero chance of being elected in 08, but he leads Clinton in the delegate count & Clinton's chances of regaining the lead in the delegate count are slim, are you predicting a President McCain? Or are you predicting that Sen Clinton will convince enough superdelegates to ignore the will of Dem voters & to select her over Obama?

Posted by: bsimon | February 14, 2008 3:41 PM | Report abuse

-Colin-

What do you mean when you say prevention?

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 14, 2008 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Blarg: I am living in the real world, not fantasy La La La Land. You, and other Obama supporters have bought into The Media fantasy belief that Obama can win in 08, and I will repeat once again "Obama has ZERO chance of being elected POTUS in 2008." There is nothing I have seen that has changed my thinking, only the all out effort of The Media and some Repubs to stop Hillary, only reinforces this belief.

Posted by: lylepink | February 14, 2008 3:15 PM | Report abuse

and the first set of religious laws was written by Hammurabi, who was king of what is now -- Iraq.

'Hammurabi was the sixth king of the Babylonian dynasty and during his rule, which was estimated from 1792 to 1750 BC, he reunited, strengthened, and expanded the dynasty. Moses lived approximately three centuries later and died at the age of 120. He was chosen by God to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and into Canaan, the Promised Land. Justinian, a successful and powerful Roman emperor, reigned from 527 to 565 AD. So what in the world do these three extremely different people have in common? The answer is actually simple: each recorded a comprehensive system of laws unique to his time period. Hammurabi claimed that his code was revealed to him by the Babylonian god of justice, Shamash. Moses received the Mosaic Law on Mt. Sinai directly from Yahweh, the God of the Israelites. Justinian Law, recorded in four separate books, consisted of the compilation of many previously written laws along with several new decrees of Justinian's own creation. A comparison of Mosaic Law, Hammurabi's Code, and Justinian Law reveals some striking similarities and also exposes some stark contrasts. Beyond this essay are additional theological implications.'

http://www.hyperhistory.net/apwh/essays/comp/cw03hammurabijustinlaw.htm

Posted by: drindl | February 14, 2008 3:12 PM | Report abuse

I agree that SS isn't that hard to fix. People never like the solution (slight benefit cuts + small tax increase), but it is what it is.

Medicare/Medicade requires fixing the healthcare system generally. There are some good ideas floating around to that end. Unviversal coverage, of the market-based kind proposed by the Democrats, should reduce costs for everyone. But more fundamentally, we need to adopt the kind of wellness plans that other countries are already using. Prevention is the key, even if -- again -- such a solution isn't popular.

Posted by: _Colin | February 14, 2008 3:06 PM | Report abuse

you're much more enlightened than I thought.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 14, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse

"Morality comes from *somewhere*.....?"

It comes from the realization that the system will not work without it. Every major religion has the same basic principles at its core. Religion is a construction of man in order to codify those basic tenets in a system that incents people to follow the rules, out of fear of a higher power (or powers).

Posted by: bsimon | February 14, 2008 2:54 PM | Report abuse

I said "meaningless diversion" and that is incorrect. It has great and horrible meaning.

It weakens us economically by sapping valuable resources.

It weakens us geo-politically by turning moderate Muslim countries against us.

It weakens us geo-politically by driving a wedge between us and our long-standing traditional allies.

It weakens our military by over-extending our forces and sapping the morale of troops with multiple, too-frequent rotations.

It greatly strengthens our enemies by boosting recruitment. It feeds right into the hands of the Jihadists.

And there's more...

Posted by: AdrickHenry | February 14, 2008 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Social Security isn't in any kind of imminent crisis, and tweaking it (for instance, eliminating the cap on the payroll tax and continuing to adjust the retirement age) would provide long-term stability.

Medicare is a mess, but health care in general is a mess. We're going to have to do health care differently if we're going to have any other kind of economic activity going on. The for-profit model is a failure. The huge government bureaucracy model is a failure. Having one huge wing of our consumer economy dedicated to making people unhealthy is a failure. Doctors treating people like collections of data points rather than human beings is a failure. Sick people expecting to be entitled (that word again) to the absolute best possible interventionary care at every stage of illness is a failure.

So, yeah, we need to fix Medicare, and the rest of health care. But we also need to fix the fat, bloated military waddling its away across six continents. And quit cutting taxes for gazillionaires.

Posted by: novamatt | February 14, 2008 2:43 PM | Report abuse

or you can vote for McCain.

We can stay in Iraq indefinitely -- bogged down in a meaningless diversion -- while the REAL Enemy thrives and grows stronger by the day in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudia Arabia and the Sudan.

Posted by: AdrickHenry | February 14, 2008 2:43 PM | Report abuse

mike huckabee beleives in miracles. i wish him luck with that.

Posted by: drindl | February 14, 2008 2:34 PM | Report abuse

I believe Obama believes in hope for a future, full of hope.

If you believe Obama believes what you believe...

Vote for hope, vote for change, vote Obama.

ha ha ha

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 14, 2008 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Lyle, even if Hillary wins 60% of the delegates available in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas, that gains her 100 delegates over Obama. She still needs 30 more delegates, which means she needs to win more states than just those three. And those three victories are incredibly unlikely; Hillary hasn't gotten 60% of the vote so far in any state except Arkansas.

There's practically no credible way that Hillary can get a lead in regular delegates. Your inability to accept that shows (once again) that you're completely disconnected from reality.

Posted by: Blarg | February 14, 2008 2:25 PM | Report abuse

$548.8 billion (+9.0%) - Defense
$586.1 billion (+7.0%) - Social Security

And Social security comes from a dedicated fund, paid for by receiptients, whereas Defense comes out of everyone's pocket.

also this is 2007 figures you gave, mark. the 2009 budget has an enormous increase in military spending because the costs of the war in Iraq goes up every year.

Posted by: drindl | February 14, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Receipts for 2007:

$869.6 billion - Social Security and other payroll taxes

Spending for 2007:

$586.1 billion (+7.0%) - Social Security

The problem is not Social Security, but Medicare and Medicaid.

Posted by: drindl | February 14, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

you see Mark, I don't think we do our best. I think we do only what we need to, what we can get away with...

I don't want to be too Machiavellian here, but it seems to me that our foreign policy is driven more by greed than anything else.

And to think really strategically, we had better make some 180 degree changes or it will be China who is leading the world in 50 or 60 years, not us.

We were definitely on the right track in defeating Hitler and the Nazis. We were still right in defeating Russia and its "evil empire".

But we have lost our way. Bush made a major strategic error in flouting the United Nations and invading Iraq against International Law and the will of most of our allies and most of the world's people.

The UN is a Western Institution, birthed of the Atlantic Charter of Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill in 1941. It's roots go back to Woodrow Wilson's dream. It is Western; it is American.

We should USE the UN to lead the world; not undercut its authority.

We have lost our way. We invaded a country that did not attack us. We sanction the use of torture. We flout the Geneva Convention. WE sound like the "bad guys" to most of the world.

We need to seize the high ground once again. Be tolerant of cultures that are unlike ours.

Fight our real enemies, yes definitely, but do not flail around like a blinded giant striking at the most available target.

We can do this. We can be the not only the world's strongest nation, but also, the world's greatest nation. We can do this.

Yes We Can ! ! !

Posted by: AdrickHenry | February 14, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

We're not talking about law, we're talking about morality.

Law is a derivative of morality.

Morality comes from *somewhere*.....?

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 14, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

fellow feminazi drindle about that. She can post about our "drunk" "loser" President 15x a day, but doesn't seem to give a sh** about the women put to death for being raped (that's called "infidelity")...]'

Ok, here's your answer, as*hat. I have posted about this any number of times, once even posting a video of a 17-year old girl being stoned in Iraq last year. That's right -- persecution of women has INCREASED every year since we invaded. Where is your outrage about that?

And calling me a 'nazi' oh that's very funny. You and your boy rush are hilarious. Ask any jew what they think of demeaning the Holocaust by calling any one you disagree with a Nazi.

Posted by: drindl | February 14, 2008 2:19 PM | Report abuse

bsimon --

Sure there are different interpretations, but the basic ideas are the same.

Treat others as they would treat you.
Keep you word.
Always be humble.
Respect the rights of your neighbor.
Give to the poor.

etc. etc. etc.

Compare that to say, Islamic Law, and you could get 99% on board. No need to favor Luke over John.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 14, 2008 2:19 PM | Report abuse

The more I think about it, is the bible even the "standard [that] lies at the heart of western civilation?"

Or did the Greeks come up with something first, that the Romans absorbed & modified, not unlike the way they absorbed & modified that offshoot of Judaism that we now call Christianity?

Posted by: bsimon | February 14, 2008 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Or we could just use our Constitution, since that's the law of the land.

Posted by: bsimon | February 14, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Or we could just use our Constitution, since that's the law of the land.

Posted by: bsimon | February 14, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

dear drindle,

you are wrong (again, as usual):

Welfare/Unemployment: 13%
Medicare: 14%
Social Security: 20%
Medicaid: 10%
_________________________
57%


Defense: 19%

Entitlements/Defense: 3x, or 200% BIGGER


AdrickHenry: You're worried about the 19% that keeps pace with inflation (assuming no world wars), but not concerned with the 57% that beats inflation year after year?

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 14, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

"What standard lies at the heart of western civilation?"

There isn't one. Of course, you'll say "No, the bible is." But the Bible is subject to myriad interpretations. Who gets to choose which interpretation is 'correct'? Who gets to prioritize? Do we go with an OT weight, or a NT focus? The big 10 are hard to ignore, but that hippy guy from the gospels really has some good things to say. But, even then, which gospel - while they don't conflict with one another, per se, they do focus on different subjects. Wow. Maybe this is going to be a tougher project than at first blush. Perhaps we should toss out the book thats been subject to multiple translations and start fresh?

Posted by: bsimon | February 14, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

shenanigans...

'Even the dead are political pawns to the Republicans (then again, we already knew that post-September 11). House Republicans, at the bidding of the Bush White House, are upset that House Democrats are voting on contempt citations for Harriet Miers and Josh Bolton today. So the House GOP members are disrupting proceedings in the House today, calling for "protest votes" and the like that eat up 15 minutes of the day at a time. Well, they just called one such protest vote in the middle of recently-deceased Democratic Congressman Tom Lantos' memorial service, which they certainly knew was taking place. This is akin to forcing people to leave a wake on purpose. The House Republicans and the White House couldn't wait for Lantos' service to be finished before forcing everyone back to the House floor to vote for something silly. They intentionally disrupted a dead man's memorial service for political gain'

http://www.americablog.com/2008/02/republicans-disrupt-lantos-memorial.html

Posted by: drindl | February 14, 2008 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Please, if you do not pay attention to anything else, if you are an R, an I, or a D, know that this is the fiscal crisis we
must face directly.

Mark -- It seems like there are only a couple options. Which could you live with?

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 14, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

AdrickHenry,

By trying to argue that morality is relative, you implicitly made appeals to a universal standard of morality.

As you say, surely the poor treatment of women in the middle east is "wrong". And I'm sure we can all agree it is. That must mean it is not wrong by "American" standards, but by some other standard - a higher standard.

*scratches head*

Gee, I wonder what standard of morality we ought to use. What standard lies at the heart of western civilation? What standard is at the very core of our founding documents?

[as an aside, I always wondered there's never an outcry from our fellow feminazi drindle about that. She can post about our "drunk" "loser" President 15x a day, but doesn't seem to give a sh** about the women put to death for being raped (that's called "infidelity")...]

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 14, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse

bsimon, the Republicans are great at myth building. Reagan is no longer the pragmatic president who embraced a very progressive immigration bill, he has achieved Mythical Status and is "Reagan the Righteous": Slayer Of Big Government (...and Communism).

Posted by: AdrickHenry | February 14, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Blarg: The numbers do add up. Texas and Ohio with Hillary winning by 10% or more and Pa. 15% or more for Hillary. My state, WV, could play an important part as it did in 1960 for JFK and our primary is not until May.

Posted by: lylepink | February 14, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

see the pie chart at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_federal_budget,_2007

I believe it to be correct: the big three now run more than double the defense budget and are of course proliferating as boomers retire. I start medicare in a few months.

There is no inflation like entitlement inflation because it is based on the ratio of retired/working, which is increasing rapidly, and the cost of health care, which outstrips inflation by a huge stretch.

Please, if you do not pay attention to anything else, if you are an R, an I, or a D, know that this is the fiscal crisis we
must face directly.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 14, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

USMC_Mike writes
"please don't define my ground for me. Regarding conservatives, if you're trying to tell me McCain is the next Reagan, I would say to you, sir, good day."

Mike, that's not what I was doing, but your response serves as an example of what is wrong with conservatives these days. Rather than even entertain a discussion with someone who disagrees, you say, essentially, "go [vulgarism] yourself."

What I found comical in the blatant pandering to the right by Giuliani, Thompson & Romney was their misrepresentation of what kind of leader Reagan was. They mischaracterized Reagan in the same way the right mischaracterizes liberalism. It seems they're in pursuit of one imaginary state, while battling an imaginary opposing ideology.

This also seems to be why swing voters and moderate Republicans are leaving the party - the extremists are taking over & saying there's no room for compromise. Good luck with that strategy.

Posted by: bsimon | February 14, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse

'The annual cost of Social Security benefits represented 4.2 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2006. The projected 75-year actuarial deficit in the combined Old-Age and Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Trust Fund is 1.95 percent of taxable payroll, down from 2.02 percent in last year's report. Although the program passes our short-range test of financial adequacy, it continues to fail our long-range test of close actuarial balance. Projected OASDI tax income will be sufficient to finance 75 percent of scheduled annual benefits in 2041."

Why not just accept that? That in what, 35 years, retirees will receive only 75% of the benefits they receive now? I think 35 years will give people a chance to get used to that.

Posted by: drindl | February 14, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

fiscal frugals, fiscal frugals, fiscal frugals, [grin]

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 14, 2008 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Adrick, we do, at our best...

novaMatt, social security, medicare, and medicaid are NOT in drindl's figures, just the ops cost of the department.

The big three top $2T!

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 14, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

'It is why any fiscal frugals should agree to close tax loopholes in trade for fiscal profligates coming to grip with entitlements.'

I dare you to say that really fast 3 times.

Posted by: drindl | February 14, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

drindl, the payroll tax intake and entitlement expense are not in the figures you cited. Currently payroll taxes sort of cover the $2T outlays, but the outlays are growing much faster than the inputs. We will be completely unable to deal with this soon.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 14, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Mark, you wrote, "I would settle for ethics such as treating others as we want to be treated...".

Do you think we, the United States, do this?

Posted by: AdrickHenry | February 14, 2008 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Lyle: I did the math. According to that math, Obama has a lead of 129 pledged delegates. There are 1078 delegates who will be pledged by the remaining primaries and caucuses.

In order to catch up, Hillary needs to get 130 more delegates than Obama. That means she needs to win 56% of the delegates in each remaining primary. 56% is better than her performance in all but a handful of primaries so far; she barely got that in New York State.

So there's my math. Why don't you share yours? I'm no genius (excuse me, GENIOUS), but I'm sure I'll be able to follow along.

Posted by: Blarg | February 14, 2008 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, drindl.

The tough part about entitlement spending too is that much of it is in fact very much an entitlement. People pay into Social Security for decades, and they justifiably feel entitled to get something back when they retire. People pay into unemployment insurance every paycheck, and they feel entitled to some of it back when they find themselves out of work. Etc.

And if any Congress monkeys around with that too much, their replacements in the following Congress will be of a different mind.

Posted by: novamatt | February 14, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Entitlements are the problem that looms and dwarfs other problems. You should look at the budget if you do not believe me. It is why any fiscal frugals should agree to close tax loopholes in trade for fiscal profligates coming to grip with entitlements.
-------------------------------------
waste in DOD, like earmarks, should be dealt with, but cutting muscle and brains makes no sense. The world is not THAT sweet a place.
------------------------------------
"ethics", as we codify them in the professions, in the military, in religion, and in law, are conduct rules we can follow and be guided by. Wahhabist ethics are not mine.

"Morality", I think, is, at best, a thought construct. I would settle for ethics such as treating others as we want to be treated, and fair business dealings, and no torture, and the Boy Scout list of twelve,
[trustworthy, loyal, courteous, kind, etc.]
and any others that are not inconsistent, as ethics I can honor.

This has been simmering for me since yesterday when dave and Mike asked if I was confusing the "religiousity" of some positions with their merits.
-----------------------
Dave, In a middleclass estblished neighborhood, in 1.8 mi on one boulevard,
I saw 23 "no Walmart Super Store" signs, 4
"get the troops out Peace Now" signs, 4 for a D candidate for Congress, 2 for different D candidates for DA, and two BHOs. The sprouting of the signs in my liberal home town...

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 14, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Can we all agree that these three "absolutes" are, in reality, "subjective".

"no, we cannot."

Mike, in some countries in the Middle East they will cut off the hand of someone caught stealing. To them, this is justice. Is it to you?

In the more conservative Muslim countries, women cannot show their faces in public. Is it immoral. Is it to you?

In China, they have banned most American horror films because they think they are immoral. Are they to you?

The Mongols thought it a CRIME to wash your hands!

Mike, you honestly don't see that "morality" and "justice" change as you cross borders?

Posted by: AdrickHenry | February 14, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Total Outlays (Federal Funds): $2,650 billion
MILITARY: 54% and $1,449 billion
NON-MILITARY: 46% and $1,210 billion

just to clear things up.

Posted by: drindl | February 14, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Current military spending is 36% of the budget. An additional 18% is past military [veterans, etc] and interest on the national debt.

Current Military
$965 billion:
• Military Personnel $129 billion
• Operation & Maint. $241 billion
• Procurement $143 billion
• Research & Dev. $79 billion
• Construction $15 billion
• Family Housing $3 billion
• DoD misc. $4 billion
• Retired Pay $70 billion
• DoE nuclear weapons $17 billion
• NASA (50%) $9 billion
• International Security $9 billion
• Homeland Secur. (military) $35 billion
• State Dept. (partial) $6 billion
• other military (non-DoD) $5 billion
• "Global War on Terror" $200 billion

Past Military,
$484 billion:
• Veterans' Benefits $94 billion
• Interest on national debt (80%) created by military spending, $390 billion

Human Resources
$789 billion:
• Health/Human Services
• Soc. Sec. Administration
• Education Dept.
• Food/Nutrition programs
• Housing & Urban Dev.
• Labor Dept.
• other human resources

http://www.globalissues.org/Geopolitics/ArmsTrade/Spending.asp

US Federal Budget 2009 Fiscal Year

Posted by: drindl | February 14, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes ... known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.... No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.

-- James Madison, Political Observations, 1795

Posted by: drindl | February 14, 2008 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Blarg: The "Facts" have been staring you in the face all the time, but you refuse to see them in your fantasy support of your choice. My GENIOUS mind would be hard pressed to give an answer to such a simple question, so I'll try and shut down about 98% of it to get it for you. Ah!! Success--Just do the math.

Posted by: lylepink | February 14, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Can we all agree that these three "absolutes" are, in reality, "subjective".

no, we cannot.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 14, 2008 1:02 PM | Report abuse

bsimon, mark -- just because I'm passionate doesn't mean I can't be passionately compassionate.

bsimon - please don't define my ground for me. Regarding conservatives, if you're trying to tell me McCain is the next Reagan, I would say to you, sir, good day. And if we can both agree he is in fact NOT, then I'm sure you can understand my frustration.

novamatt - entitlements DWARF defense spending. Your proposal would not be a 1-for-1 trade.

Like Romney said in his final debate, why nit-pick at 2% here and 4% there, without dealing with the 800 Lb. gorilla in the room, which is entitlements? (60% of our budget today, 70% tomorrow).

And why are you so hell-bent on cutting DOD spending? Shouldn't we have a military so vastly deadly that no one would ever want to challenge it?

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 14, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

"truth, justice & morality"

Can we all agree that these three "absolutes" are, in reality, "subjective".

Do you think our version of truth, justice and morality is the same as the Muslims living in Iran? ...or Communists living in China?

Because we have the strongest military in the world, are we "right" in imposing our version on other peoples?

Posted by: AdrickHenry | February 14, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse

"...there were radicals like Sam Adams, Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry. They did not exert much influence after the war..."

Patrick Henry and Sam Adams were barred from the Convention.

Posted by: AdrickHenry | February 14, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

'A senior US justice department official has reversed his position and now says using waterboarding while questioning terrorism suspects is not legal anymore, as he prepares to give evidence before a congressional hearing.'

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/feb/14/usa.terrorism

'as he prepares to give evidence before a congressional hearing' sounds like an sudden conversion. what-- he woke up this morning and found it wasn't legal anymore?

Posted by: drindl | February 14, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

'As always, the seeds of the next conflict are sown during the present one.'

The Law of Unintended Consequences never fails.


Posted by: drindl | February 14, 2008 12:41 PM | Report abuse

"Thompson, Hunter, Giuliani, Romney, and Paul were strong economic conservatives."

Here's what the GOP primary voters have to say about these five gents:

"Loser, loser, loser, loser, and loser."

Posted by: Spectator2 | February 14, 2008 12:41 PM | Report abuse

mark in austin writes
"I feel that way about torture. It will happen, and it may even be necessary under some circumstance, but it can never be the law or the social policy of a free country to permit it, and the torturer must be willing to face penalty for torture. So what has McC wrought here? "

This 'moderate' agrees. The pursuit of truth, justice & morality, as USMC Mike puts it, fails if we compromise on this basic principle of defining who we are as a people. We cannot take a mushy 'it depends' position on the legality of torture & remain true to ourselves and the pursuit of justice.

Posted by: bsimon | February 14, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Claudia, I'm with you -- it sure seems that Bush thinks the Saudis are "with us".

When, in fact, like you say, they are the founding fathers of Wahhabi Islam. This radical, extremist version of the faith was not only born in Saudi Arabia (way back in 1744), but was HEAVILY financed by the Saudis throughout the 1960's, '70', '80's, '90's and right up to the present day.

They are primarily responsible for creating a generation of our enemies, which, by the way, were not located in Iraq.

But, in fairness, let me say this: the Saudis were staunch allies in opposing the Soviet Union during the Cold War. We countenanced, even abetted, their financing of religious extremism during that struggle.

As always, the seeds of the next conflict are sown during the present one.

Posted by: AdrickHenry | February 14, 2008 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Mike & AndyR3

The Revolution was most certainly not instigated and fought by radicals. That is one of the main differences between the American Revolution and subsequent ones - e.g. the French and Russian ones. The Patriots were substantial, mostly conservative, men of property who wanted their rights as Englishmen. Most opposed independence for a long time - Franklin worked incessantly in London for years to reach an accommodation with the British government. It was British intransigence that drove these men to favor independence. Adams (one of the earliest pro-independence founding father) wrote about how hard it was to convince his colleagues to declare for independence and how it was only British stubborness that drove them to it. Had the British government granted the colonists representation in Parliament and eased the trade restrictions and tax burdens, history would be quite different.

Incidentally, there were radicals like Sam Adams, Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry. They did not exert much influence after the war. Paine went to France where he became an enthusiastic supporter of the French Revolution. Both Sam Adams and Patrick Henry were strong critics of the Constitution.

Posted by: jimd52 | February 14, 2008 12:33 PM | Report abuse

USMC_Mike asks
"Is it really so "FANATICAL" of me to demand an actual conservative be the nominee of the so-called conservative party?"

Fanatical isn't my word. The question is in what makes a conservative? I think what makes a conservative now is different from what made a conservative a few years ago. I find it somewhat comical that this year's GOP candidates were tripping over one another to out-Reagan eachother, while pandering to the decidedly un-Reagan-like extreme right. Here's a newsflash: Reagan compromised! After cutting taxes too much, he raised them again! He worked with the Dems in order to achieve common goals! He realized that forcing one extreme view upon the majority was a strategy of failure. Bush and the modern GOP have not yet realized that basic truth, apparently.

Posted by: bsimon | February 14, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

"I would hope that the torturer who actually saved the Sears Tower or the Golden Gate Bridge from a terrorist received a merciful response from the law."

Mark, if this scenario were to ever occur, I think the law would be merciful. But that doesn't mean that torture should be legal. It's useful in some variants of the ticking time-bomb scenario, which has never actually occurred. In any other situation, it's both useless and immoral. So torture should be illegal, to prevent it from being used in the 99.999% of situations where it couldn't possibly help. And if that one scenario ever occurs, the legality of torture isn't likely to be an issue.

Posted by: Blarg | February 14, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Argh, my comments keep getting eaten.

Mark, I did see the KU-UT score. Are the Teasips really that good this year? I have to confess to not following CBB all that closely this season.

USMC Mike, total federal military spending was over $600 billion in FY07, or about 4.5% of GDP and more than $100 billion more than the rest of the world combined. Seems like if there's a part of the federal budget that needs an overhaul, it's that. I'd be willing to negotiate on entitlement reform in exchange for getting military spending much closer to the global average of 1% of GDP.

Posted by: novamatt | February 14, 2008 12:29 PM | Report abuse


'Absent the entire conversation of justice, extremism, moderation, and mercy, drindle shows up just in time to

A. Bash Bush

B. Affirm Entitlements "owed" to her

What a worthwhile contribution.'

Right. Here's what you contributed:

Torture good
Liberals bad
Manly men like me are the world's salvation

What a worthwhile contribution

Posted by: drindl | February 14, 2008 12:24 PM | Report abuse

'I would hope that the torturer who actually saved the Sears Tower or the Golden Gate Bridge from a terrorist received a merciful response from the law.'

I think people who beleive this stuff just watch too much TV. Torture has always been used for extracting confessions and it's very effective at that. And that's what this administration intend to use it for-- see show trials coming this summer.

They will use coerced confessions, and convict, and parade the accused around as a trophy. 'See, we caught the terrorists who plotted 9/11 by using torture' Elect a Republican!

Torture is not an investigative tool, it is a political tool. Always has been, always will be.

Posted by: drindl | February 14, 2008 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Absent the entire conversation of justice, extremism, moderation, and mercy, drindle shows up just in time to

A. Bash Bush

B. Affirm Entitlements "owed" to her

What a worthwhile contribution.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 14, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Addrick, since he's always kissing on the sheiks and stuff, I assume Bush thinks they're 'with us.' Although it is true that since the discovery of oil in the Persian Gulf in 1975, the profits have been used to disseminate the teaching of Wahhibism [the Saudi Muslim splinter group that gave us bin Ladin].

In other words, we are financing jihad.

'As much as you aparently hate rich white men, you owe a lot to them.'

Really? I think they owe a lot to me -- because a great many of them are worthless leeches and freeloaders.

Posted by: drindl | February 14, 2008 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Well AndyR3,

As much as you aparently hate rich white men, you owe a lot to them.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 14, 2008 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Is there justice without mercy? I would argue easily that there is no mercy without justice, because mercy as an arbitrary benevolence is unfair, inequitable, and unjust. But can there be justice without mercy - an unflinching rule that knows no circumstance of distinctions? I hope not. In my example of torture as an bsolute prohibition under our system of law, I would hope that the torturer who actually saved the Sears Tower or the Golden Gate Bridge from a terrorist received a merciful response from the law.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 14, 2008 12:11 PM | Report abuse

AdrickHenry - I'm not just speaking in economic terms.

But I'll oblige you. For the 2008 Presidential race, I would say Thompson, Hunter, Giuliani, Romney, and Paul were strong economic conservatives. Huckabee is a not-as-strong-but-wanted-to-be economic conservative.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 14, 2008 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Mike,
The American Revolution was Started by a bunch of Radical Rich White men who didn't want to pay their taxes. It was Won by poor crop farmers and slaves whose land owner bosses told them they had to fight or face eviction from their land. That and the french navy's blockade of the British fleet off the virginian coast.

Posted by: AndyR3 | February 14, 2008 12:07 PM | Report abuse

bsimon: The danger is in the fallacious assumption that every issue is best boiled down to two extreme views. This kind of mindset - as evidenced by GWB's simpleminded "you're with us or you're with the terrorists" creates more problems than it solves."

I agree. And in GWB's view, which side is Saudi Arabia on? "With us" or "Against us"?

Posted by: AdrickHenry | February 14, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Mike, who was the last good conservative to run for or hold office? ...I mean, conservative of the Goldwater-type. We are talking about the conservative movement started by Goldwater, right?

Really, who was the last FISCALLY RESPONSIBLE conservative?

Posted by: AdrickHenry | February 14, 2008 12:00 PM | Report abuse

I understand that the Fix is primarily composed of self-identified moderates.

I also think it's mostly a fashionable title, worn by someone who fancies himself enlightened and reasonable.

I prefer to be a gruff extremist barbarian who will never cease in the pursuit of justice, truth, and morality.

Men of the first type observe the world, while the latter have the unique burden of changing it.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 14, 2008 11:55 AM | Report abuse

There was an extra verb in my first sentence at 11:49A - "are" - please disregard it.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 14, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

"Give us the "FACTS"."

LOL

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 14, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

bsimon and JimD, I agree with you completely. But some issues are, as Jim wrote, have bright lines. I'll accept Jim's examples: death penalty, abortion, and slavery; although I would quibble even on the first two, as one can be against the death penalty or abortion except in limited defined circumstances, but that hardly applies to slavery. I feel that way about torture. It will happen, and it may even be necessary under some circumstance, but it can never be the law or the social policy of a free country to permit it, and the torturer must be willing to face penalty for torture. So what has McC wrought here?

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 14, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Lyle: Considering that Hillary is behind in the pledged delegate count, how do you expect her to catch up and win the nomination? Give us the "FACTS".

Posted by: Blarg | February 14, 2008 11:48 AM | Report abuse

And many [centrists] remained loyal to the crown, even while their brothers fought and died to secure the blessings of liberty which they would later enjoy.

Bsimon -- sure, not everything is life or death. Even GWB hasn't taken an "us vs. them" approach to a whole host of issues.

Is it really so "FANATICAL" of me to demand an actual conservative be the nominee of the so-called conservative party?

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 14, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

I see Jim's point and I understand Mike's point. I believe it is essential for us to be open and vocal about our strong beliefs, BUT...

We live in an extremely diverse society. We need to be rspectful and tolerant. Not only is it "right", but it is also highly practical.

The Revolution may have been led by extreme Radicals, but the Constitution was all about compromise. In fact, I think you could make a strong case for calling the Constitutional Convention a "counter-revolution", a victory of the Reactionaries over the Radicals.

Posted by: AdrickHenry | February 14, 2008 11:45 AM | Report abuse

I think JEP7 has it about rite on. From what I can see it is going to be McCain vs Hillary in the GE, with Hillary winning and the Dems getting mighty close to the magic 60 seats in the Senate, with substantial gains in The House as well.

Posted by: lylepink | February 14, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse

"Perhaps the larger danger is the persistant unwillingness to take a strong position one way or another."

The danger is in the fallacious assumption that every issue is best boiled down to two extreme views. This kind of mindset - as evidenced by GWB's simpleminded "you're with us or you're with the terrorists" creates more problems than it solves.

Posted by: bsimon | February 14, 2008 11:35 AM

AMEN

Posted by: jimd52 | February 14, 2008 11:38 AM | Report abuse

"Perhaps the larger danger is the persistant unwillingness to take a strong position one way or another."

The danger is in the fallacious assumption that every issue is best boiled down to two extreme views. This kind of mindset - as evidenced by GWB's simpleminded "you're with us or you're with the terrorists" creates more problems than it solves.

Posted by: bsimon | February 14, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

The revolution was not won by centrists, but by a minority of fully dedicated Patriots.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 14, 2008 11:28 AM

Many of whom were firmly against independence until the intransigence of the British government drove them to it.

Posted by: jimd52 | February 14, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

'LONDON (Reuters) - U.S. forces should keep withdrawing from Iraq this year without a pause, Iraq's national security adviser said on Wednesday, disagreeing with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, whose post gives him a senior security role in the Iraqi government, said he would like to see U.S. forces draw down steadily to below 100,000 by the end of 2008.'

So the Iraqis want us to leave. Bush said we'll stay as long as the Iraqis want us. Well, apparently they don't anymore.

Posted by: drindl | February 14, 2008 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Chris-Why aren't you and the New York Times calling upon the Clinton's for some financial transparency?
http://jtaplin.wordpress.com/2008/02/14/open-letter-to-the-new-york-times-editorial-board/

Posted by: Trumbull | February 14, 2008 11:29 AM | Report abuse

"I think the kind of fanaticism expressed here is dangerous for the country."

Perhaps the larger danger is the persistant unwillingness to take a strong position one way or another.

The revolution was not won by centrists, but by a minority of fully dedicated Patriots.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 14, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

"...a courageous centrist like Charlie Crist..."

I find nothing courageous about mavericking around, making deals with liberals, and dressing yourself up as a moderate. It takes little courage to move to the 'center' where you 'popular' positions are.

In fact, I find that to be quite cowardly.

Either you have guiding principles, or you don't.

Either you can stand on them, or you can't.

I think someone like Newt Gingrich has much more courage; the courage to stand on his principles.

That's what excites the base. That's what wins elections.

McCain v. Obama is a Ford v. Carter disaster.

I'll have to wait until 2012 for Gingrich, Romney, Jindal, Sanford.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 14, 2008 08:39 AM

I think the kind of fanaticism expressed here is dangerous for the country. Governing a society as diverse as ours requires a decent respect for the opinions of the majority. Most Americans are centrists. While some issues are matters of strong principle, others are simply practical matters. For example, what level of taxation is needed to finance government and not hinder the government is not as clear a matter of principle as whether one is for or against the death penalty, or abortion, or slavery (to use a historical example).

As for exciting the base is what wins elections, history tells us otherwise. Despite all the stories about armies of evangelicals supporting Bush in 2004, a study of the polls shows that independent centrist voters went for him in numbers sufficient to decide the election. They mostly based their vote on national security issues.

Posted by: jimd52 | February 14, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

mark -- I've been saying all along that if we elect McCain, we don't *really* know what we're going to get.

At least with Hillary, you know she's a socialist. It's a defined enemy, not a moving target.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 14, 2008 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Blarg: you might be right IF we gift McCain with the power of foresight and considerable altruism. Mike doesn't think the latter is possible. Some evidence exists to support that.

Interestingly, wikipedia's entry for McCain is not 100% flattering.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_McCain
Obama looks like an altar boy compared to McCain's past. Yes, McCain is a war hero but outside of that there's plenty of dirt. And, not surprisingly, a Vietnam Veterans Against John McCain group does exist. "Lunatic fringe, we all know you're out there."

Posted by: judgeccrater | February 14, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

"We always supported allowing the C.I.A. to use extra measures," he said.'
I am completely flabbergasted.

novamatt - yes, and did you see that TX beat KS in bb?

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 14, 2008 11:16 AM | Report abuse

tax breaks is not "government aid".

it's "government mercy".

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 14, 2008 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Question for the conservatives and moderates here: would you be willing to forego government aid to big corporations (including targeted tax breaks) in exchange for comprehensive entitlement reform?

Posted by: novamatt | February 14, 2008 11:06 AM | Report abuse

*to = do

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 14, 2008 11:01 AM | Report abuse

judge - probably true. I think McCain would be more inclined for the latter. There's not enough room for his head and a VP in one office. (Huck's getting thrown under the bus.)

claudia - interesting article. But I thought torture didn't yield any results. Because John "the expert" McCain hath spoken.

As an aside, of course the NYT is going to turn on McCain! They sold him to us in the first place. Expect more anti-McCain media in the immediate future.

JEP - you sound JUST like Obama. Make broad, sweeping change. Reject the old. Embrace progress. Where to we progress to?

Doesn't matter.

Just keep the hope alive.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 14, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Judge: I wouldn't bet on that. Even if McCain doesn't have serious health problems, he might not run again in 2012. His VP candidate would have a leg up on the competition to be the Republican nominee, either in 2012 or 2016. I wouldn't expect McCain to pick someone who he wouldn't want to be president, so a 21st-century Quayle isn't likely.

Posted by: Blarg | February 14, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Whomever McC chooses would follow the standard VP route, expressed in the old saw I'm paraphrasing as follows:

Two brothers graduated from college; one became a sailor and went off to sea. The other became Vice President of the United States. Neither was ever heard from again.

My point is that McC will cast a very large policy shadow over whomever his VP pick will be (so would HRC, for that matter). If they pick someone it will either be (a) a choice that helps them win a crucial vote (e.g., Huckabee for the evangelicals) or (b) a milquetoast who won't have any conflicts with the Boss (Dan Quayle comes to mind). Either choice would, as the saying goes, never be heard from again unless McC has health problems (a definite threat).

Posted by: judgeccrater | February 14, 2008 10:46 AM | Report abuse

In other words, torture is wrong unless it's the CIA doing it, in which case it's okay.

Posted by: drindl | February 14, 2008 10:42 AM | Report abuse

'The leading Republican presidential candidate, Senator John McCain of Arizona, a former prisoner of war who steadfastly opposes the use of torture, voted against the bill. Mr. McCain said the ban would limit the C.I.A.'s ability to gather intelligence. "We always supported allowing the C.I.A. to use extra measures," he said.'

Funny the way the NYTimes puts it, McCain 'steadfastly opposes the use of torture' -- however he voted against a measure to ban torture because it would 'limit the CIA's ability to gather intelligence" and he always supported 'extra measures' which means 'measures' outside the Field Manual, which means TORTURE.

I guess it all depends on what the meaning of 'is' is.

http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/02/todays_must_read_276.php

Posted by: drindl | February 14, 2008 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Mccain ALWAYS had the nomination, and at no time was that inevitably ever threatened. The Media has been masterful at milking every dollar and dime out of this madhouse of an election.

Remember how badly they ridiculed Romney about his claim about being "The Varmintslayer?"

But the day after he showed up with almost 30 million in Mormonbucks, suddenly there was no further conversation about Romney's clear lack of credibility and his shameless pandering to right-wing groups.

Now that he's figured out "The Fix" was in all along, ol' Mitt jumped out of it before he had to spend even more of his own Mormonbucks on what was obviously a futile campaign.

Unfortunately, for every dollar of profit the media makes on it's advertising, the democratic process loses one more quality point. And the political stakes become so entwined with greed and money-grubbing, you can actually measure the moral cost of each campaign contribution by counting the earmarks that flow somehow to the contributors.

No trickle-down here. It has become a flood.

Equating the Republicans with Democrats, as if there is not a sea-change underway, might be harder this time around, CC,

The caucus and primary turnout numbers don't look good for the GOP, if they weren't so filthy rich, I doubt they would get this kind of "equal" coverage, from anyone.

There's a landslide election blooming on the horizon, from President on down. Donna Edwards was just the beginning, any incumbent Republican or any right-tilted Democrat might consider starting a consulting business, or a lobbying firm, in the very near future.

That may be the only way they can remain viable in DC. They aren't likely to get re-elected if they continue to represent the failures of the past instead of future progress.

Posted by: JEP7 | February 14, 2008 10:36 AM | Report abuse

--well, it isn't just subprime anymore...

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Home prices continued their plunge during the last three months of 2007, setting a real estate trade group's record for the biggest-ever quarterly drop. .
The national median price drop of 5.8%, to $206,200 from $219,300, was the steepest ever recorded by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), which has been compiling the report since 1979.

NAR officials blamed the liquidity squeeze that began last summer for much of the drop. Home buyers had trouble obtaining mortgage financing, especially for more expensive properties.

"The continuing crunch in the jumbo loan market that began in August has disproportionately reduced the number of transactions in higher price ranges," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist, in a statement.

Posted by: drindl | February 14, 2008 10:36 AM | Report abuse

"...or maybe he will just retire and enjoy being rich"

That would be nice wouldn't it?

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 14, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

I would be willing to bet that Mitt Romney runs the RNC next cycle or something like that. Otherwise he will have to do something in the private sector, or maybe he will just retire and enjoy being rich.

Posted by: AndyR3 | February 14, 2008 10:28 AM | Report abuse

The photo used in this story just highlights how old McCain is; it looks like Warner and McCain are holding each other up. If, as someone suggested, McCain and Thompson should be the Republican ticket, they would be nicknamed the Sunshine Boys Part 2.

Posted by: rickjginter | February 14, 2008 10:28 AM | Report abuse

"Does not the Constitution give us the right to "take up arms and abolish" (to me this means) kill when all means of redress fails. "

Sgt. Macdonald -- you must not give up and do something drastic today. You said 'suicide or kill'. I hope you do not mean this. Try to email or call one of the Washington Post columnists -- I suggest E.J. Dionne, and tell him your story.

Posted by: drindl | February 14, 2008 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Mildly surprised not to see Joe Lieberman listed by you, Chris, as special adviser on Iran.

Posted by: FirstMouse | February 14, 2008 10:24 AM | Report abuse

"But I hope that anyone who runs again in 2012 spends the intervening 4 years doing something. Edwards spent 2004-2007 running for president, which is one of the things that I disliked about him."

Good point.

Mrs. USMC wanted him in '04. She outright rejected him this time around. Said he had been running too long.

Romney's got a national name now. He doesn't have to win in Mass. anymore, so he's free to be as conservative as he wants. We'll see what he does in these next 4 years. Hopefully not consulting.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 14, 2008 10:00 AM | Report abuse

I'd use another photo, CC, this one looks like a reunion of Civil War veterans.

You might also have mentioned that Schmidt was the chief strategist in charge of Supreme Court nominations of Samuel A. Alito. and Chief Justice John Roberts and counselor snd spokesman for Vice President Dick Cheney, and member of the exclusive "breakfast club" led by top White House adviser Karl Rove that ran President Bush's re-election campaign, so he's in very tight with the current administration.

Posted by: drindl | February 14, 2008 9:53 AM | Report abuse

But Romney did win as a moderate, on his second try. (He lost a Senate race and then won the governorship). He lost as a conservative, partially because people didn't really buy the act. I don't see any reason to think he stands for anything.

Obviously it's a bit early to speculate on 2012. But I hope that anyone who runs again in 2012 spends the intervening 4 years doing something. Edwards spent 2004-2007 running for president, which is one of the things that I disliked about him. After you lose, you have to do something useful to build your resume, otherwise you'll probably just lose again.

Posted by: Blarg | February 14, 2008 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Good quote you grabbed out Boutan from John McCain's "media guy":

"I would simply be uncomfortable being in a campaign that would be inevitably attacking Barack Obama,"

That is why the Republicans want Hillary as the Democratic nominee:

http://newsusa.myfeedportal.com/viewarticle.php?articleid=48

Posted by: davidmwe | February 14, 2008 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Mark and Mike, I guess it depends on if you think Gingrich has 'good' ideas or not which I don't think he does. That being said he is definitly more useful to conservatives in the role that he is in now.

Mark, I think that what you will find is that when Obama is president that the regional division strategy of Biden will be quietly put forth as the troop withdrawl begins. The end goal of our occupation in Iraq now should be to see it divide into three seperate regional entities which in the end will be three seperate countries. It will be very similar to the situation in the Balkans in the end, IMO.

Posted by: AndyR3 | February 14, 2008 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Last post for me this morning. Bumbling as the GWB Admin has been on foreign policy [I will not succumb to making this partisan; his dad was as good on foreign policy as anyone could have been], the countless stories on PBS and NPR of the diplomatic little miracles our TROOPS have pulled off are amazing. Go through the "Front Line" archives and you will see stories of Captains and Lts. actually doing work they were never trained for, but doing it well. Just this morning NPR had another such story. The 3 who went back after being in grad school with no further commitment b/c
Petraeus personally asked them comes to mind.

I do not want that work to go for naught, and want the nominees, once they are chosen, to explain how we can make the most of this. Neither "stay forever" nor "get out on a timetable" answer that question. Those are slogans for the base[s]. If McC is inclined to listen to Jim Baker and BHO is inclined to listen to Biden on the big picture policy, we will get further along than we are now. We might not get either a timetable or a forever commitment, either.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 14, 2008 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Blarg -- valid questions.

I don't think Huckster will try again. But if he did, I'd definitely support him.

My sense on Romney is, he really is a Reagan conservative. He tried to dress like a moderate to win. He learned his lesson.

As I previously posted, I met him once. I really liked him.

I'm only speculating, though. Maybe he stands for nothing. You could be right.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 14, 2008 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Andy - I agree with Mark. Newt is doing good things these days with American Solutions.

Mark - I would LOVE to see FDT as VP. Did you hear Carl Cameron (Fox News) break that Fred was running for VP all along?

Entitlements reform is the 2nd most important issue we face, IMO. I'd be compelled.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 14, 2008 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Mike, I find it very surprising that you praise Romney after the rest of your post. What principles does he stand on? He ran as an extremely liberal Republican in Massachusetts, then turned into the reincarnation of Reagan for a national campaign. Talk about not standing on principles!

Why isn't Huckabee in your 2012 list? You don't expect him to try again?

Posted by: Blarg | February 14, 2008 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Andy, I think Newt has been a constructive force as an outsider - as destructive as he often was when he was Speaker. He has made many pragmatic suggestions in the last year or so.

That said, I prefer him as a think tank guy, where I know he engages at a serious level, than as the attack dog of the 90s.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 14, 2008 8:55 AM | Report abuse

USMCMike,
Gingrich is a cowardly attack dog that has no interest in fixing the problems of the country. His only interest is pushing his agenda forward and ruining anyone who diagress with him.

Although he will probably be on McCain's short list for VP since he needs someone who can help him win the base back. BTW if he does pick Gingrich for his VP then he will seal his lose, but he will make the conservatives happy.

Posted by: AndyR3 | February 14, 2008 8:52 AM | Report abuse

JD, I saw the article, and I knew those facts previously. It is also true that of all the original candidates who were in Congress, only McC did not take earmarks, and only BHO and JB, among those who did take earmarks, published their requests.

Mike, Crist gets high marks as Gov. of FL from a wide variety of folks.

What would you think of FDT as VP? He is a straight shooter on the entitlement explosion, he has old friends in the Senate on both sides, and McC cares about the entitlement problems. As VP, FDT could convene the bipartisan Commission on Entitlements, with enough Senators and Congresspersons to ensure that its recommendations would result in actual legislation.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 14, 2008 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Sgt. McDonald - If you have a story to tell, get help writing the narrative and then send it to one of the WaPo's journalists who exposed DOD hospital problems, like Steve
Vogel.

I assume your indignation and pain are not feigned, but neither I nor anyone reading your thread here can do anything useful for you.

If you get to one of the WaPo's investigative reporters with your story, laid out in chronological detail, you might find someone that can help.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 14, 2008 8:46 AM | Report abuse

M in A, since you brought up earmarks earlier, this article in today's WaPo might interest you

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/13/AR2008021303635.html?hpid=topnews

Bumper sticker: McCain thinks earmarks are wasteful pork, BHO has messed around with earmarks but only to public entities, and HRC is your typical free-spending pork-barrel politician.

Posted by: JD | February 14, 2008 8:45 AM | Report abuse

*you = "the" or "your"

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 14, 2008 8:42 AM | Report abuse

"...a courageous centrist like Charlie Crist..."

I find nothing courageous about mavericking around, making deals with liberals, and dressing yourself up as a moderate. It takes little courage to move to the 'center' where you 'popular' positions are.

In fact, I find that to be quite cowardly.

Either you have guiding principles, or you don't.

Either you can stand on them, or you can't.

I think someone like Newt Gingrich has much more courage; the courage to stand on his principles.

That's what excites the base. That's what wins elections.

McCain v. Obama is a Ford v. Carter disaster.

I'll have to wait until 2012 for Gingrich, Romney, Jindal, Sanford.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 14, 2008 8:39 AM | Report abuse

holmes, many of us agree with you about Crist. We must hope that the movement conservatives do not hijack the VP selection process and that the whispering campaign about Crist amounts to nothing.

This was about campaign insiders, 'though - not VP choices.

CC's threads about insiders do not stay on topic for very long, historically. But they do provide us with info that we would not otherwise easily learn.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 14, 2008 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Suicide or kill 2-14-08
Peter Macdonald 465 Packersfals Lee NH 03824 603-659-6217 NH.red.sox@gmail.com
The people have a right to know what is happening. I can not express the need for the public to be made aware of the people's opinion. Judge Peter Fauver is a criminal making life and death decisions on other people's lives every day. These are strong words, if not true, would be libelous. I have written many letters openly and to the public with the facts only to have my words censored. The NH government has inflicted my family to cruel and unacceptable treatment to silence my free speech. We have checks and balances built into our system of government to prevent totalitarianism. Freedom of press was recognized as a measure to prevent these criminal government actions. What do the people do when our elected leaders no longer serve all the people equally? Does not the Constitution give us the right to "take up arms and abolish" (to me this means) kill when all means of redress fails. The ethical code of the news media is no longer the unbiased truth. Have all means of Redress failed?
The news has labeled me a nut. The public because of the news distrusts me. I have not wavered in my actions to bring the truth forward. I receive letters and phone calls ever day. Some are nice but others clearly are a discredit to the civilized world. I will not be violent toward any one. Even though I have the legal right. Violence only breeds more violence. The government has now gone so far to stop my medical care for injuries defending this great nation. Is this not a criminal act to kill me? Yet the system has so much influence over the media censorship exists. The courts took my freedom on bogus charges, which were dropped after six months. Where they expecting suicide.
Discrimination from the VFW, American Legion and every government agency and elected official exists in this case. I am told that I am fighting a battle that can not be won. The news media has knowingly allowed torture to be inflicted on a 100% service connected disabled U.S. Marine with out informing the public. My VA medical was restored as a means to limit public exposure of government crimes. I now receive limited unacceptable, unethical medical care from a system that is secretly protecting criminal actions of a few members. I have three disabling separate injuries but I for some reason was allowed to come back alive. I can not stop helping every one of you even if you are so blind or scared to do anything your self. I do what I do because not to would be saying what so many Veteran's have given their lives for over the history of the United States of America was in shame. The People have a right to know Judge Peter Fauver is a criminal. Has the news media become so unethical Biased news is the norm?
Peter Macdonald Sgt USMC Semper Fi

Posted by: usmcsgt | February 14, 2008 8:34 AM | Report abuse

Dear Reporter Cillizza and Washington Post Readers:

I was hoping to see Florida Governor Charlie Crist listed as being in Senator John McCain's inner circle.

They are both moderate Republicans, unashamed to reach across the aisle, and to take centrist positions.

I think Charlie Crist deserves consideration for the Vice Presidential spot. For instance, Governor Crist is trying his best to help Florida's native American Indians, and the Everglades.

In a time when the country is decidedly preferring Democrats, a courageous centrist like Charlie Crist could, in my opinion, definitely help the Republican National Party this November.

Sincerely,

Jackson Rip Holmes
Coral Gables, Florida
305-338-5000

Posted by: holmesrip2 | February 14, 2008 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Rick Davis has been relatively substative in his emails. I get campaign stuff from both the RNC and the DNC, for instance, and it is all cr@p, but Davis' stuff often has solid info.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 14, 2008 7:57 AM | Report abuse

Scratch McKinnon off the list. He apparently can't stomach a fight with Obama. Can't fight the Dems? Become an independent...

http://www.political-buzz.com/

Posted by: parkerfl | February 14, 2008 7:56 AM | Report abuse

Last night Bill Cohen and Sam Nunn were on Charlie Rose. They signalled their approval of the McC v. BHO matchup but listed all the holes we have to climb out of, here and abroad.

Nunn said the Ds won't address entitlements and the Rs say no taxes. McC is right to attack earmarks but it is only a 1% problem, where entitlements will actually sink the nation. The real test will be if McC and BHO can direct the conversation to reality, not slogans.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 14, 2008 7:52 AM | Report abuse

Mark McKinnon's comment to NPR was fascinating in detail. He said he would be wholeheartedly supporting McC from the sidelines against BHO, that he agreed with McC much more than he did BHO, but that he knew and liked BHO. You should find it at NPR.org.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 14, 2008 7:44 AM | Report abuse

"I would simply be uncomfortable being in a campaign that would be inevitably attacking Barack Obama,"

Talk about a candidate who can unite the country! McCain's media guy would leave his job rather than tear down Obama...

Yet I'll bet he'd love to get his paws into Hillary.

HRC can talk about the "vast right-wing conspiracy" and the "republican attack machine"... but maybe she should realise she is part of the problem in that cycle of negative politics.

In stark contrast to her, and her division... we have Obama who can even sway his opponents staffers to be neutral.

Amazing.

Posted by: Boutan | February 14, 2008 7:15 AM | Report abuse

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