Friday, August 29, 2008

Obama campaign on attack over issue they lack

I had to make a comment on this. While Senators Obama and Biden congratulated Alaska Governor Palin on being picked as Vice President, the Obama campaign has tried to slam her.

“Today, John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency” Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton

Now I have to laugh at that.

Governor Sarah Palin has been to Iraq as many times as Senator Obama, and considering in 4 years Obama spent all of 3 days I believe she has been there as much as he has if not more.

Gov. Palin is not only the former mayor, admittedly of a small town, but also is the executive office leader of a state. Senator Obama, and Biden for that matter, have never run a town of any size let alone a state. They have never had to balance a budget, or do the day to day operations of anything.

So essentially she has about as much experience as Senator Obama when it comes to foreign policy, more experience in governing a populace, and Senator John McCain trounces Obama in regard to foreign policy and most other issues. For Senator Obama to speak about experience is just a reminder of what he does not have. And if her experience is not enough, then how can the Democratic Party look America in the eyes and say Obama is qualified? (Oh, that’s right they didn’t. Hillary has never said it, Biden and Bill Clinton both flipped their early staunch positions about Obama’s inexperience just this week.)

If the Democrats want to pick on something about Gov. Palin they better look for something else, because experience just isn’t it.

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McCain - Palin: Sarah Palin is the Republican Vice Presidential candidate

Well now we have a race. Senator McCain has just announced his Vice President and it has caught everyone off guard. His choice – Sarah Palin the Governor of Alaska.

You may not be familiar with this Governor, I wasn’t either. So I watched her speak and looked up some information on her.

Photo of Sarah Palin and husband of 20 years Todd - found at,0,3136641.story

She is 44, married for 20 years. She has 5 children, with her oldest son in the Army and going to Iraq in September. Her youngest son was born this year in April and has Down’s Syndrome – which was known before he was born. She has been Governor of Alaska for 2 years, and previously has been on the Wasilla City Council for 2 terms. She is a lifetime member of the NRA, a hunter, commercial fisher, a former Miss Alaska, and graduated from University of Idaho with a degree in Journalism.

She is also a bit of a maverick. Politically she took on the Republican Party in Alaska for ethics violations, refused to fund the Gravina Island Bridge – also known as the bridge to nowhere. She also opposed Senator Ted Stevens, known for being independent of oil companies, and opposed 35 last-minute appointments of former-Governor Murkowski including Jim Clark who later plead guilty for illegal campaign finance funding of Murkowski. She opposes same sex marriage, but has enabled laws that support same-sex couples benefits.

So overall this is an interesting choice by McCain.

As I have stated before I had thought he would go with Secretary of State Condolezza Rice. I was half right in that he took on a woman for VP. This effectively will pry many women away from the Democratic base, and add many from the independent voters. I cannot see how the supporters of Hillary Clinton cannot vote for McCain now, especially since many were obsessed with a woman being in the Oval Office.

Comparing the Vice Presidential picks we can see that only Gov. Palin has executive office experience. In fact she holds an 80% approval rating. That severely beats the approval rating of Congress which is below the rating of President Bush.

She is pro-life from what I can tell, Biden is pro-choice. Palin is pro-guns, Biden is anti-guns. Palin is younger than Obama, Biden is older. She is pro-drilling, Biden (and McCain) is against drilling in ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge). Palin has created a sub-committee to investigate ‘global warming’ and greenhouse gas emmissions in Alaska – so I’m not sure if she believe in global warming or not, Biden is down the Democratic Party-line on global warming. Palin has cut taxes and stimulated the economy in Alaska, Biden has voted to increase taxes but claims to be for tax cuts for the middle class.

It is unclear where Sarah Palin stands on unions, free trade, homeland security, immigration, education and foreign policy (though she has visited Iraq before). Biden is for unions, voted for NAFTA, voted for the Patriot Act (with limits on wiretaps), voted for a path to citizenship for illegal aliens and voted to give illegal aliens social security benefits [though SS is failing], is pro-teachers unions and voted against school vouchers, and his views on Iraq are famopusly opposed to his Party’s Presidential candidate.

And I know this is purely superficial but Sarah Palin looks far better than Joe Biden, especially for a mom of 5.

The Obama-Biden ticket is decidedly D.C. based and focused. The McCain-Palin ticket is not. Obama-Biden is defined as far-left liberal (first and third most liberal Senators currently), McCain-Palin would best be described as centrist/right.

Obama – Biden has a Black man, thus making history. McCain – Palin has a woman, thus making history (though honestly a bit less because Geraldine Ferraro was the first woman picked as a VP).

It is an interesting comparison. Obviously more must be learned about Sarah Palin to be sure where she stands. And her abilities in the debates will be quite interesting.

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Senator Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention

I listened intently last night as Senator Barack Obama accepted the nomination at the Democratic National Convention with some 70,000 democrats looking on. If Senator Obama didn’t want to look like a celebrity, this was not the way to do it. But as the first African American to reach this history making level a bit of fanfare is warranted.

Now I could rip into Obama’s speech, line by line. I can highlight all the improbabilities, and all the things that will end up costing America more than we can afford. I can even point out all the mistakes of Presidents Carter and Clinton that he seems to be determined to repeat.

But instead I will just make this easy (my shoulder injury has not healed yet). Senator Obama promises to lower taxes of 95% of Americans receiving paychecks. He plans to increase taxes of business. That is a problem. Because I expect that this will equate to less hours at more pay for the average American, and adding in the higher cost of food (because of expanded corn ethanol production) and the increase taxes and cost of energy will mean less money overall. And that’s before a nationalized healthcare plan.

With nationalized healthcare will come lower quality medical treatment and lines for x-rays and doctor visits – like those found in Canada and England right now. Seeing a doctor will become a trip to the post office, won’t that be great?

Obama is a great speaker, and part of a President’s job is communication. But also part of the job is the ability to pass legislation, which Obama is not bi-partisan enough to do. A President must be able to show strength, which Obama’s demand to run from Iraq does not inspire. And a President must have a unified Administration, which Senator Biden does not provide (he opposed several policies of Senator Obama, as well as believing he is not qualified for the Presidency – as he has stated).

Senator Obama is a strong intelligent capable man. He loves America and has a great vision for the future. But he has neither the experience, nor political flexibility, to achieve his grand plans. No matter how you want to do the math, his initiatives are more expensive than he has claimed requiring more of your money than you may think. His voting record shows his desire to stand by the most far-left of Democratic policies, and that is too extreme for the centrist average of America.

But I will leave you with the speech that Senator Obama spoke yesterday. I remind you that Joe Biden represents the same ‘old’ politics that McCain supposedly embodies. I remind you that the Surge has worked. I remind you that the economy is slowing, and energy prices are rising – both are equally the fault of Democrats and Republicans.

Senator Obama is a great man, creating history before our eyes. But as you listen to his speech ask yourself is he a war-time President, that can stimulate the economy and move America into a safer better America – which requires more than just words.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Bill Clinton finally backs Obama at Democratic National Convention

There is no question that Bill Clinton is a great speaker. So there was no shock in the fact that he spoke well at the Democratic National Convention. The overall thing that impressed me though was that Bill Clinton did was Hillary could not; he gave reasons to believe Senator Obama would be a good President and finally admitted that Obama was ready to be President.

Unlike Senator Hillary Clinton’s speech, which was self-serving, Bill Clinton started off and continued to evoke his support and good will for Senator Barack Obama. Bill bit the bullet on his personal disagreements with Obama and did what was best for the Democratic Party. I have not seen a politician flip on a position so well on national television in some time.

You have to love the fact that Bill, unlike his wife, had no problem mentioning Senator Obama’s name more than 3 times in his speech. Then again Bill is a better speaker.

Now Bill did make some mistakes. First his comparison to President Carter is not a good one. Carter is accepted as a horrible President that did virtually nothing to improve the economy, resolve the energy crisis, lower unemployment, or protect Americans abroad. In fact his policies made all of that worse. This is why Carter was part of the long list of Democratic Presidents that have never gotten a second term since Roosevelt. (Only Bill Clinton has.) So stating that Obama is like Carter implies that America will have a worse time if he is elected than some think it is today.

On top of that is the fact that Bill Clinton’s Administration did nothing to improve America’s safety (he let Osama Bin Laden live to create the 9/11 attack), create alternative energy sources (crude oil increased some 150% during his time in office, no nuclear plants were made, and oil refineries dropped in number), or prevent the devastating economic burden of the internet bubble that I would argue did more damage than any other single factor in decades. It was also his Administration that failed on healthcare.

But particularly I want to address the spike in food, the core in the CPI index. Food prices are up because of one of the major initiatives that Democrats are pushing right now. Corn Ethanol. In playing to the farmers of the nation corn was picked as the source to create ethanol – a product that is less efficient than gasoline by 25% and unavailable to 97% of the nation – and while there is a glut of ethanol the mandatory increase of it’s production has caused the price of corn to go up and therefore food prices to increase.

This is a problem caused by the tunnel-visioned emphasis of the Democrats on specific exclusionary choices for alternative energy. Like wind power that benefits Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s investment portfolio the Democrats allow political and financial interests to dominate what they believe is the energy choice America should have, without being honest enough to say why they refuse any other option. I believe we need to invest in all energy sources and let innovation discover which the best choice is, and that we switch to grass ethanol that does not affect our food supply and costs.

But getting back to Clinton’s speech, you have to love the way Bill has ignored and reversed his thoughts espoused about Obama during the Primaries. It’s about time too. But his credibility is weak considering this is the first time he has changed his opinion, under pressure that his wife is out and if she is ever to have a chance he must shore up the political divide they created together.

It is correct that Senator Obama has the ability to rally the public, and inspire our minds. That is critical in a President. Curiosity and intelligence are equally important in a President. So at the 6:51 minute of the speech Bill Clinton is correct. But he leaves out something else a President needs. Experience in working with the Congress and creating bi-partisan policies that benefit the nation. Experience and respect from the international community. Senator Obama has neither. And while President Bush now has experience in both (to limited degrees) few in America approve the degree to which he has gained both. But Senator John McCain, and even Vice Presidential candidate Joe Biden have more experience, international respect, and bi-partisan ability than Obama, with as much intelligence, curiosity, and inspirational capacity.

Bill Clinton makes an excellent attempt at claiming Senator Obama has made solid choices on international policy. But he ignores facts, like the fact that Senator Obama was among those opposing the Surge (in fact joining those that declared it a failure before it started), that his position on Georgia and Russia was weak, that his choice of Vice President directly opposes his views on Iraq, and is inaction (and in fact reluctance to discuss) on Darfur.

I agree that Senator Obama has a unique and beneficial view of America that every White President to date has not had. If Obama becomes President it will be the first time that someone who has lived with racism, prejudice, the biased legal system, and the disadvantages enforced in our media and culture will be in the Oval Office. Such a perspective is needed in a nation that is very diverse, with 1 in 3 Americans having to endure those challenges ever day.

But while the Primaries may have tested Senator Obama, they also presented his weaknesses. Senator Obama performed outstandingly in the early Primaries, only to be massively attacked and eventually beaten in the last several states. Senator Obama showed his ability to create a lead, and the inexperience to keep it. The gaffes that occurred late in the Primaries are examples similar to the choices many make in their late teens and early 20’s, which are remade and rethought upon gaining the wisdom of experience and age.

And As for Obama’s choice of running mate, I still don’t get it. There is no synergy here. Senator Biden opposed Obama on several critical points. He represents the ‘old’ politics that Obama has stated he wants to change from. Biden had even said, as did the Clinton’s, that Obama lacked experience enough to be President. I have worked for inferior bosses before, and I think anyone who has will say that it created more problems than solutions.

Thus the national security leadership Bill Clinton mentions is fractured. It is based on an internal argument of diametrically opposed views. It is anything but a team effort. Which means either Biden, or Obama, either lied about their views or do not believe in them strongly enough and will flip their previously stated thoughts. Because if either of those conditions are not met, then we have the potential for a divided Executive Office fighting against itself.

By the way, when Bill says

“revitalize the international institutions, which help to share the cost of the world’s problems”

He is speaking of the U.N. It is that organization that has always failed to match our funding, that has failed to pay its full dues. Always. The United Nations has never had a major military presence anywhere that did not involve the U.S. in an over weighted manner. And in 40 years of life I have never heard a single President mention how the U.N. has satisfactorily done anything that America has wanted. Share the cost? How about just paying their post-due fees as a start.

As for HIV/AIDS I agree that more needs to be done to highlight the fight. But it would be a lie to say that America has given up on this. More needs to be done, but we have not stopped funding or fighting this disease, abroad or domestically. The major news media may have moved on to another ratings grabbing issue but various governmental and individual efforts have continued. Still I say again that more can be done, and needs to be.

And a President Obama is seen as a weak military commander. Senator Obama is seen as without the guts to fight, or continue the efforts already on-going. That is why Iran and other Middle East nations, and various militant groups have endorsed Obama. Because they believe they can push him around, as Hillary did in the Primaries, as John McCain is currently doing in various ads. If it takes just one television political ads to take the Obama campaign off message, how hard would it be to take him off of a potential military crisis? And his initial response to Russia in the current Georgian conflict has been seen universally as weak and toothless.

While many nations in the world may need the innovations and financial support America can provide Senator Obama does not strike me as capable of providing it. He has yet to take a stance on Darfur. When asked directly about that nation at the recent Civic Forum Obama instead discussed Rwanda. As a Senator He has made no strides in Darfur, or in the Primaries drawn any attention to it. If he cannot do this, then how can we believe he will lead America in beating the Chinese at providing financial and industrial aide to Africa? Or any other nation?

But Bill Clinton then goes to attack Republicans. Now criticism is fair, and many problems exist over the last 8 years. But it is a fallacy to believe all the problems were created by Republicans, or to ignore the fact that some of these issues were created by or failed to be resolved by the Democrat-led Congress.

The issues of the economy, and in part failing retirement accounts, are partially a Republican failing. But they are also the failure of the Clinton Administration. The excesses allowed in the internet bubble, that he did nothing about, had immediate and lingering effects on the economy. Millions have still not recovered the losses they incurred then, and the debt it created. The failure of Congress to address the issues in the commodities and options markets caused the recent, and soon to recur, runs in energy prices. These are issues that both Democrats and Republicans share in, from the Clinton Administration’s 2nd term thru Bush.

And the image of American’s without healthcare is yet another example. The Clinton Administration failed to change healthcare, and after the disaster of Hillary Clinton’s attempt never picked the ball up. Bush as well has failed to run with this issue. Both are culpable. And any reform will need to be bi-partisan to effectively help anyone.

And Clinton should never talk about favors for the well connected. Mark Rich and Norman Hsu. Do I need to say more?

But he is dead on about the cronyism that helped to worsen the devastation of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. But those were direct results of President Bush, not McCain or the Republican Party.

At the 15:39 minute of his speech Bill Clinton discusses Senator McCain. He mentions that McCain is defined by the extreme of the Republican Party on the issues of rebuilding America, and restoring America’s leadership. America’s leadership is something that Europe and other nations have been complaining about since the 1960’s. When Bill was President France would not let us use their airspace to bomb Quadafi in Libya – an accepted promoter of terrorism in the world outside of the U.S. American leadership has always been questioned and fought against, and it always rolls through hills and valleys – but ultimately it exists because the rest of the world needs out money, military and expressions of freedom time and again. But when we have weak Presidents, like Carter and Clinton, we see the emergence of long lasting problems – like the emergence of radical Iran, Bin Laden, and the initial problems with Saddam Hussein (which Clinton bombed constantly as Kurds were killed by the thousands).

And to rebuild America requires innovation. That innovation usually comes from small businesses growing and taking chances. Like Dell, or Apple, or Microsoft, these companies need an environment to grow in. But increased corporate taxes and higher minimum wages restrict small business and diminish that innovation. So how will that help rebuild the nation? How does increasing the burden of the nation with higher debt for funding a new department in charge of healthcare help to rebuild a nation? How does higher unemployment and lower work hours help to reduce the tax burden and higher taxes stimulate home purchases?

So in effect the extreme views of the Democratic Party are no more efficient or likely to achieve the goal of a better, stronger America. I agree that the extreme Right Wing of Republicans may be wrong, But the extreme Left Wing of the Democrats (or hardcore Democrats as Bill states) are equally wrong.

And I must dispute the claims about 2001. In that year we had the worse tragedy in American history. Caused by inaction of his Administration. All of America overreacted on multiple issues. Those reactions were not the historical claims of any Party. But the fact was that America was under attack, and the people sought the Republicans for their strength in that time, not Democrats. And now the nation is at war (rightly or wrongly, the cause is moot as our soldier fight).

And again I must also note that many of the things he mentions about that time were repercussions of the burst of the internet bubble. Caused again by his inaction on that bubble. The debt of the nation was never decreased; just the accounting of the Clinton Administration was changed. The jobs created en masse by the internet died with the bubble. The exorbitant salaries went with the start-ups, as did numerous jobs. No matter who was President, the internet crash would have caused the same problems. And the realization of that fact is in part why Democrats lost in 2004 trying to claim it was a Republican problem alone.

So yes, Bill Clinton was impressive. His ability to polispeak is nearly unmatched. His spin of facts, viewing them with squinted eyes, does sound attractive. Until you look at facts and causation. Until you pay attention to the details.

I admire that Bill Clinton has flipped his position on Senator Obama. I admire that he stepped up where his wife Hillary would not. I enjoy that while he and Obama don’t get along; Bill is able to rise to the need of the Democratic Party. He was a unifier, Hillary was out for herself.

But still he is unable to identify why America should vote for Obama. His misrepresentation of historical facts, his uniquely envisioned interpretation of actions and consequences sound great. And I am sure some will believe him wholeheartedly, because he sounds sincere. But he is not credible. And I do not believe he is sincere.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hillary Clinton at the DNC - her words and meanings

Finally the question is over. Senator Hillary Clinton has spoken at the Democratic National Convention. And she has made her position clear.

As completely expected, Senator Clinton started her speech with her stated support of Senator Obama. Not a surprise, but it’s just so telling that she has said something that her husband – Bill Clinton – refuses to do. Not that she expressed any personal belief in Senator Obama, or mention his positives. That would have been a surprise, selfless and so anti-Clinton as to make you think you were in an alternate universe.

Now as I expected Senator Hillary Clinton did not refute any of her Primary attacks on Senator Obama. She did not refute Bill Clinton’s racist remarks. She didn’t even mention Barack Obama’s name until the 4th minute, and did not give a reason to support him til the middle of the speech (11:48). This speech was about her and how good she can make herself look.

So I went over her speech, line by line. And I looked for the honesty within the polispeak. And I pulled out the facts from the spin. And I exposed the raw ambition that will do anything to win, including selling out a fellow party member for a shot down the road.

Senator Clinton started with the same old campaign polispeak ‘misquotes’ she loves. She mentioned her “35 years in the trenches” – though she only got into elected office 8 years ago, and Bill did all the work in the past (except for a couple of months failed work on a nationalized healthcare plan). I would call that a lie, but I’m not a politician.

She mentions her “fight for women’s rights”, like her efforts while she was at Wal-Mart (never a single word while she was a Board member and had the power to change things in the company).

She mentioned how hard she and Bill have worked. Now while they are multi-millionaires, politics is hard. Not as hard as construction or retail but hard. Though I have to wonder how hard she has worked since I don’t recall the last Congressional Bill she passed into law, and I have yet to see the 200,000 jobs she promised Upstate New York to get elected as Senator (in fact there has been a net decrease in jobs of 30,000 during her time in elected office). Hard work indeed.

But she continued as we hit 6 minutes about the horrors of a guy in a Marine t-shirt. The assumption was that he was a Marine (but she failed to make that clear, or why he was in need of medical help) and wanted his buddies to be taken care of. Meaning leaving Iraq, I suppose, a war she voted for and urged others to vote for based on her extensive research of the facts (look it up, she’s on video saying it).

She then went for the heartstrings in discussing a mother that had her hours cut at a minimum wage job. Now was that after or before the Democrat-led Congress raised minimum wages forcing businesses to cut hours because they can’t afford the increase?

And Clinton correctly stated that in the last couple of years things have gotten tough. Though I have to wonder if things are better or worse than when I watched the internet bubble burst and take out businesses and retirement funds, and family savings because Bill Clinton was too busy looking good, and trying to define “is” – while Hillary was ducking invisible bullets, to stop the impending carnage. How tough was that.

How tough did it get after the Clinton’s allowed Bin Laden to live and escape the crosshairs of our military, thus giving him the chance to plan and execute the 9/11 attack? Somehow I think that was a tougher time for America.

She hinted on Iraq, the war she voted for, and Iran, a country that would like to see America wiped of the face of the Earth and where Senator Obama would talk without condition. She stated that China has bought into our banks. And it is true, and troubling. But the alternative of letting our banks fail sounds worse to me. Not that a single Democrat has a better option to present – unless it’s a secret and therefore they prefer America to be in a dangerous position financially rather than tell us.

She claims that Democrats will help Americans save for college and buy homes? Now is this like her quickly dropped campaign promise to give every child $5,000 for college – paid for by some unknown source (taxes). Does this savings happen before taxes are increased, not on the rich but everyone who makes over $31,850 as she voted for this year (along with Senator Obama and Senator Biden as well as I recall)? Or is it after taxes are raised to pay for her nationalized healthcare, causing businesses to close from the cost?

She discussed the various things she wants to promote next. Promoting clean energy – which she never advocated while Bill was in office, and only mentioned after polls showed it popular.

She wants to promote unions, who are in the pockets of Democrats. Though she skipped her time at the union-less Wal-Mart (where like women’s rights she said nothing during her time on the Board).

And her desire to promote equal rights and stop discrimination seem hollow from a woman that can’t even stop her husband from making racial remarks, at least, in front of cameras.

She desires a “nation of immigrants”, because only she can answer yes, no, and maybe when the issue of immigration is asked of her on national televised debate – all in 2 minutes too (Michael Phelps beware her polispeak speed).

And she desires to end “private plunder”, which I think means that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and her efforts to promote energy alternative that increase her personal stock investments - which she does not disclose to the public - is in trouble.

Senator Clinton wants to talk about America’s efforts to end genocide. And I believe her because she has said so much about Darfur during, or since, the Primaries. Or is it only genocides in White nations?

But this Democratic National Convention is not about Senator Clinton. It’s about Senator Barack Obama, and in the middle of her speech she finally speaks about him for a moment. She makes a great question when she asks what her supporter are for. But she forgets to ask if they were voting for her because she is White, or a woman. Both were reasons she campaigned for in the Primary and I would like to know if they were reasons they are so fanatical now?

And she mentions that ‘global warming’ (an unproven yet Democratically sound concept) is a problem that America must fix alone in the world. Never mind the growing industrialization of China and India. Nor the potential fact that some Democrats are using this subject to make money while denying any other alternative including domestic drilling.

But Hillary Clinton is correct that America should not “favor few”. Like Hollywood stars and executives, or eco-fanatics that would have you use on sheet of toilet paper, or alternative energy companies, or big money fund raisers that are criminals evading the law for 15 years (Norman Hsu).

And I want to pause here because Democrats say that Senator Obama is a good choice for America. She never said he would be great. She never mentioned a single quality for Obama.

But she did ask Americans to “imagine what America will be”. Now I do remember when she was in Bill Clinton’s White House (because he was elected and the political power not her) I recall that no major promised initiative ever was passed (correct me if I am wrong). But I do recall that Bill was busy with dictionaries, and teaching America to lip-read, and her serving tea to end the conflict in Ireland, and avoiding Whitewater.

But If I were to imagine the America she envisions (and liberal Democrats as well) I suppose it would involve being overtaxed, unemployed, under terrorist attacks, without power, on lines to get medical care, isolationist, with Spanish as the main national language and without the funds to allow Americans to retire. There is Hillary’s America as she has explained it to date, and that most liberal Democrats prefer (oh, and Senator Obama is the most liberal Senator in Congress, Joe Biden is 3rd).

But Hillary emphasizes that national healthcare, especially under her plan, is great for America. Though no Democrat can explain how it will be paid for. Or how it will be efficeint. Or run on budget.

But remember that under a Democrat-led Presidency, especially as Clinton envisions it, America may well be too busy running from Iraq, and Al Quida to worry about that. Watching anti-American groups gain power as we try to create new sources of power without oil, and sending even more money to the Middle East.

But not to worry because Senator Biden is a great guy, and by default she implies Obama is not. And don’t consider that a Democratic win means an Executive Office that will be split since Biden and Obama don’t agree on Iraq and other national issues. Heck, Biden – like both Clinton’s – does not even think Senator Obama is qualified or experienced enough to be President. You can imagine how smoothly that Administration would run.

But at this point Senator Clinton looked to the past. I don’t mean Senator John McCain’s age, or his 35 years of service to America. I don’t even mean the 30+ years of Congress (and thus solid stance in old politics) of Senator Biden. I mean the Carter Administration, where many of the current Democratic policies seem to have originated.

The Carter Administration stood out for its stagflation, something the Democrats definitely did before. Along with double digit inflation, and double digit unemployment, and having Americans taken hostage by Iran (hey, don’t they still have a beef with us? Aren’t they building weapons to kill us? Didn’t Carter talk with them – and not release a single hostage?) Don’t believe me, ask someone 40 or over.

President Carter didn’t like domestic drilling of oil either. Today oil costs 1000% more than when his Democratic Administration was in charge. President Carter and Democrats didn’t like nuclear energy, a new plant hasn’t been made in decades. And all the jobs that are involved in creating those industries, and the power they provide went up in the smoke from tankers importing oil to us from overseas.

But back in the world of today Senator Clinton misquoted the policies and ideals of Senator McCain. Her “friend and colleague”, a man she said would be a good President with experience – something she has not said about Obama – was now described as being a bad choice.

I’m confused. Is he better than Obama or not? Or is it that she just wants to look helpful without being helpful?

But the last part of the speech I want to address are the points on her mother and Harriet Tubman.

I understand that her mother could not vote and her daughter can. And I’m glad they can. But I’m reminded that my Great-grandfather’s generation could not vote. And my grandfather’s generation was blocked from voting by Jim Crow laws. My parent’s generation was beat up for voting, and sitting in the wrong spot, or asking for a good education. My generation now has a chance to see the first Black President, and Senator Clinton is trying hard to do nothing to allow it. In fact her husband has been active in trying to prevent it. So excuse me if I’m not impressed that Hillary is miffed.

Because of that reason I was upset she dared to mention Harriet Tubman. Was that supposed to make me feel better? To unify the Party with the name of a Black woman that made inroads for the rights of African Americans and inspired women of the time (if not now as well).

Taking Senator Hillary Clinton’s words a bit out of context,

If you heard dogs behind you Obama, it’s Hillary trying to chase you off track. If you see torches, it’s Bill Clinton lighting the path for your competition. Don’t stop, don’t slow down.

I may not agree with Senator Obama and his policies, but I’ll be damned if I won’t make sure Hillary is revealed for the snake in the grass viper that her speech proved her to be. She did what I expected in her speech. Strike 2 for the DNC. Next up is Bill Clinton, what do you think he will do?

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Nancy Pelosi at the Democratic National Convention

I previously have highlighted how I think Nancy Pelosi is a problem for Senator Barack Obama. Last night she spoke at the Democratic National Convention. I present her speech

I’ve listened to the speech a couple of times, and I think I was right. Speaker Pelosi was a horrible speaker. Her reading from the teleprompter was horrendous. She sounds weak. And the points she tried to make were abysmal.

First I have to ask why she was singling out Maryland. I understand California, she represents that state. But why Maryland, did she forget they were in Denver in Colorado? It’s not even the states of Obama or Biden. And Democrats say McCain has a memory problem.

But Pelosi starts with the accomplishments of the Democratic Congress since 2006. Get real. How much money has been spent in hearings on subjects that have no effect on the average America? The Democrat-led Congress brought in Alberto Gonzalez on lawyers being fired – which was legal and a right of EVRY President, for any or no reason. Waste of money and time. They brought in oil company executives – and learned that the inaction of Congress since 1972 was more at fault than their ability to make profits that support the economy, stock market, retirement funds, and American jobs.

She pointed out that the Democrat-led Congress helped out Hurricane Katrina and Rita victims. As if any Congress would not. It wasn’t a choice, it was an obligation. And the help that has been given has forced thousands of Blacks to leave New Orleans, not return.

The Incentive Rebate Checks that millions received was the idea of President Bush and Republicans. Democrats did not dispute it, but they didn’t come up with the idea. And the Rebate failed to do what it was supposed to, stimulate the economy. People paid bills and spent the money on keeping their homes, the idea was dumb but if they want credit for a failed idea they can have it.

The toxic toys that reached America from China should never have reached our country in the first place. Improving the laws should never have been necessary. And it was Congress to blame because they failed to pass strong enough laws in the first place, thus endangering our children.

The minimum wage has been increased. And those at the lowest pay levels must be happy. But I want to see the data on how many small businesses this caused to close, and how many became unemployed as businesses could no longer support all the workers they had.

Fuel efficiency is up, but that should have been increased years (decades ago). Congress failed to worry about efficiency since the Oil Embargo and now wants credit after crude oil prices have increased 1000% since then.

But what about the claims of the Democrats when they entered office after the mid-term elections? The extended work hours? The multiple laws? Everything Pelosi promised. All failed.

What about supporting our troops? The Democrat-led Congress claimed to want to help our troops under fire, and help back funding and fought sending supporting troops. And then Congress claimed our soldiers were failures before they had a chance to do anything (unless Speaker Pelosi and Harry Reid saying the Surge failed before the first military personnel even left to go to Iraq is considered success).

Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks of honoring our veterans. Yet in her home state multiple cities refuse to allow returning soldiers to walk off a plane and enter the airports. In her home state military recruiters are blockaded and military vessels refused ports. If she cannot honor our troops in active service, how are we to believe they will get better respect after they have volunteered to serve our nation?

Speaker Pelosi wants to paint experience as bad. As ‘old’ politics. But only for Republicans. Yet Senator Joe Biden is part of the old politics of Congress, just as she is. In fact Biden is more of it than her. He is part of the politicians that failed to seek new energy alternatives until it recently got popular. He is part of the Congress that allowed America to buy more foreign oil instead of domestic oil, thus increasing the cost to the average taxpayer. He is part of the Congress that allowed the loopholes in the lead laced toys from China. He is part of the Congress that voted for the Iraq war. That wasn’t just Republicans at fault in these issues, and Biden has been around long enough to share the blame she wants to exclusively project.

Speaker Pelosi loves to use the dream of a Clinton financial surplus, as most Democrats do. It’s a fiction that is always overlooked. Bill Clinton essentially cooked the books and got away with it. He became President on a strengthening economy created by Regan and Bush policies. He sat back and allowed the economy to overheat creating a bubble that took down businesses and investors alike for years. And he did all this while saying he had paid of the debt, which is a fallacy. He projected a surplus, based on the bubble, and then spent the money that would not arrive (because of the bubble burst) for another 5 years.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi discussed nationalized healthcare. Something that doesn’t work anywhere in the world where it exists. Citizens in those nations spend huge amounts of money to travel to our country and pay for our BETTER medical services. And she, like Senator Obama, fails to mention where the money for this program will come from. Inevitably our pockets. She fails to mention that not one Department of the Government runs efficiently or on budget, or how this new division will work any better than the Post Office does.

But she calls this a right of Americans. I’m unaware of any mention of healthcare in the Constitution or the Amendments. I’m unaware of a right that any American must pay for to receive. I think children should receive healthcare, but it’s not a right or obligation of the Government – else it would have been some 200 years ago.

Perhaps one of the worst things about Speaker Nancy Pelosi speech is the fact that she continues to promote clean energy. Now does that mean the need for alternative energy or the stock position she holds, and is profiting from, in her investment portfolio. If her ideas are so good, why not mention she is making money on them? If they are so sure this technology will be the best answer why not let them compete with other options, including domestic drilling?

Speaker Pelosi speaks about Senator Obama renewing the American dream. Yet she fails to mention that the increased taxes - that Democrats have already voted to increase and will need to increase more to fund their proposals – will prevent Americans from creating or maintaining their own businesses.

Pelosi talks about a unified Democratic Party. Perhaps only by breathing the air in San Francisco is it possible to see that. Senator Clinton has continued to fuel her supporters interest in her gaining the nomination. Senator Clinton has yet to refute the comments made during the Primaries, or those made by her husband – Bill Clinton.

And Senator Biden is little better. He is well known for his racially insensitive (at best) comments. He disagrees with Senator Obama on multiple issues, including Iraq. Senator Biden has disputed the experience of Senator Obama to lead. Biden is a direct example of the ‘old’ inflexible politics that Senator Obama says he will challenge.

How can the Democratic Party be viewed as unified when the VP is at odds with the Presidential nominee, Primary losers are still campaigning, and the Speaker of a Democrat-led Congress (that has failed to live up to the campaign promises that elected it) is only willing to allow discussions on policies that promote her own personal finances (that she refuses to declare to the public). If that is unified I’m White.

No I’m sure Nancy Pelosi has no idea what she is talking about. I think her comments were weak. It was some of the worst polispeak I have heard in some time. Anyone that follows the politics as I do, and other bloggers and honest pundits, will see through her obfuscation and be disheartened for the potential of the future.

And lastly her comments on her grandson were perhaps the worst. I know (and hope deeply) that I am reading into her comment my own fears. But when she says that at a dinner in the Italian embassy a 5 year old calls Senator Obama a dream, I don’t like it.

The connotations make me wonder about how many other African Americans were in the room. I think of those saying that only a 5 year old could believe in Obama. I think it’s a badly worded, badly thought out, back-handed compliment. The result of a weak, polispeak spinning, agenda driven Speaker of the House.

Nancy Pelosi speaking at the DNC, strike one indeed.

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Senator Hillary Clinton at the DNC: what will she say?

Looking forward to Senator Hillary Clinton’s speech tonight I am wondering what will be said, just like every other pundit out there. My interest is based on a simple set of facts. Senator Clinton went a long way to damage the chances of Senator Obama winning, from his inexperience to his race. And these attacks are now the fuel of political ads from the Republicans and the Mc Cain campaign.

Senator Clinton set up this attack. In fact it is almost verbatim what she said in the Primaries. The McCain campaign can’t be blamed for using the words of the Democrats to benefit himself, whether it was Hillary or Joe Biden’s words.

So what Senator Clinton says tonight will be very interesting.

Either Senator Clinton will come out with a major flip flop, essentially saying that the Clinton campaign was willing to say and do anything to win – including making comments she felt were untrue – or she will use the well known Clinton polispeak spin to obfuscate and ignore everything she has said in the past.

The speech tonight must address the comments she has made about the lack of experience of Senator Obama, and why that is now not important as opposed to just a couple of months ago. Her speech must refute if not denounce the words of her husband, former-President Bill Clinton – and explain why he has refused to say that Senator Obama is ready for the Presidency, which he has claimed for every other Democrat that ran in the Primaries. Senator Clinton must also find a way to gap the chasm created in dividing the Democratic Party along lines of race and gender. The Clinton campaign was very effective at using race and gender, and caused a lasting question of stereotypical and racist fear in the minds of many in the nation; this must be addressed.

If the speech by Senator Clinton fails to address each of these issues, if she fails to close all these doors she opened, she will leave the Democratic Party divided in a manner not seen in decades. And if I were in Las Vegas I’d bet that she won’t do it.

My instincts, and my read on the polispeak of the Clinton’s during the Primaries and after them has given me the belief that neither Clinton is really willing to help Senator Obama. They will stand by him, raise money and say the words that need to be said. But they will also leave just a bit of doubt, leave him just a bit weak on critical issues. Because then it will not be said that they weren’t team players when the next Presidential election comes up.

To this point everything the Clinton campaign has done has been part of a plan to prepare for the 2012 election, in my opinion. We have been watching the beginnings of a new campaign and Primary run since the day Senator Obama took the presumptive nomination and Hillary Clinton refused to acknowledge it.

So my ultimate thought is that Senator Hillary Clinton will leave the door open for her supporters to try to steal the nomination for her. She will leave ajar the thought that her supporters should vote for Senator McCain or just not vote at all. She will keep her option alive to say “I told you I would have won”.

Tonight Senator Hillary Clinton will rally women, and racially sensitive Democrats. That is a given. Now whether she will polispeak and spin them closer to Senator Obama or not is a question that won’t be clear until after her last words are said.

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Michelle Obama and Senator Edward Kennedy speeches at DNC

So the Democratic National Convention has started with some strength and emotion. There is no question that Michelle Obama had a powerful speech. Not that anyone should have expected less.

For those that missed it here is the speech she made.

No matter which candidate you might want to vote for you have to be impressed with her words.

In addition you have to say that seeing Senator Edward Kennedy at the DNC so soon after his Brain surgery was impressive. He looked relatively strong and healthy considering.

His speech was strong as well

Next up will be Senator Hillary Clinton tonight. Though how that goes is a big question and will be the real challenge since so many who were supporting her are in the wind.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

What the Democratic National Convention means to me

As the Democratic National Convention is about to start I want to step back and address a question I am often asked. Why am I not a supporter of Senator Obama?

I have been asked that by dozens of White Americans that presume I must be for Obama because he is Black. I have been asked that by almost as many African Americans for the same reasoning. And there are the far smaller group of Americans, of all color and ethnicity, that wonder because they presume I must agree with the Democratic Party policies.

So let me state this clearly, I do not support Senator Barrack Obama at this time. I doubt if I will ever support him. And I disagree with the Democratic policies he supports.

It’s not because I was a democrat and want to switch parties like the bitter Clinton Democrats. They are often White women, upset that a White woman was denied the chance to run for President. Their switch of support, like Debra Bartoshevich, seems like sour grapes more than anything else. And Democrats are responding in kind, splitting their party.

Which leads these Democrats to the right choice for the wrong reason.

Besides the fact that I think Democrats are a split party, created by the Clinton campaign, there are other issues.

Senator Obama has no experience. His own Vice Presidential pick has said he thinks Obama is unqualified. If Senator Biden, and Senator Clinton, agree with Senator John McCain how strong and qualified is Obama?

Senator Obama will be increasing taxes. He has already voted to do so for those making $31,850 or more. My belief he will limit himself to those making an unknown and ambiguous amount qualifying them as rich is shaky at best. His expressed view that businesses, of all sizes, need to pay more in taxes strikes me as harmful to a weak American economy.

Senator Obama has stated often that our dependence on foreign oil is bad. No surprise. Yet he still only considers the idea of domestic drilling. But how else will there be a stopgap to allow us to fund and create alternative energy sources? And his position on oil shale is directly Party line. How about cleaner coal? How about Nuclear energy?

Senator Obama is exclusive in his plans, targeting only the renewable energy plans that benefit stock positions held by Speaker Nancy Pelosi. How is that a grand benefit to America when only options that profit a few are considered? How is that different than the claims made by Democrats that Republicans are in the pocket of big oil, aren’t they in the pocket of Wind and corn ethanol (which has already increased the cost of food)?

Senator Obama has stated he would speak with any threat to America, no matter the provocation. He would speak with Iran, a nation that has sought the wholesale destruction of America and Israel for 30 years now. Like mere words would stop them from their declared God-given need to wipe us off of the earth. Obama is not God, especially to the

Senator Obama would run from Iraq as quickly as possible. There is no consideration for the outcome of such actions. There are no qualms about the probable increased threat to average Americans in their homes. Terrorism has not stopped since 9/11, it just hasn’t hit our homes stateside. But thousands of orphans given no choice and every reason to blame America will grow up looking to kill America. Just as they did at the end of the Gulf War, in 5 – 10 years they will strike American soil after a retreat that will be viewed in the Middle East as a defeat of America, and thus a vindication of Al Quida and other such groups.

Senator Obama wants to give millions the support of the Government. That in itself is not a bad thing, except that it is funded by Americans and perpetuates the ideal that America would rather feed the hungry rather than teach them to fish for themselves. It creates a culture that cannot support itself; and for those that think this means minorities remember that there are more Whites in prison, on welfare, and/or in Government care than all minority groups combined.

As I mentioned the Democratic Party is split. Not on substantive differences – as the voting records of Clinton and Obama are virtually the same. It is split on racial lines, due largely to the efforts of the Clinton campaign.

It is split with a Vice President that disagrees on key issues in a massive manner from the Democratic Presidential nominee he would work for. A VP that would not vote for a less experiences candidate, one that has done less bi-partisan work than he has in a decade. A VP that embodies the ‘old’ politics that Obama has railed against throughout the primaries.

So what makes Senator Obama the right man at this time?

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Obama - Biden: Where are the positives?

Well the political campaign ads for the Obama – Biden ticket are already coming out.

I notice that this ad finally notices that Darfur exists. Too bad Senator Obama did not have the balls to comment on it during the Primaries. Then again he had nothing to say about reparations either, just the same as Senator Joe Biden.

Of course the McCain campaign has already come up with a response.

I am glad that Senator Clinton is nowhere on the ticket. My thoughts on her are unchanged. She is too dangerous for America.

That said, she is right that Senator Obama has been scant in details on his plans. His definition of rich is ambiguous, his promise to lower taxes completely ignores small business owners. I disagree that Senator Obama’s friendship with Rezco is a definite problem. If it was some Chicago reporter would have found it by now.

But this Vice-President choice had me checking back to see what inconsistencies might be in the Obama campaign.

There is of course the fact that Biden disagrees with Obama on the experience needed for the Presidency, ‘old’ vs ‘new’ politics, healthcare, and of course Iraq. But that lead me to find the crazy polispeak of Senator Obama on Iraq.

Of course Senator Joe Biden disagrees with Senator Obama on Pakistan too. And has been to Iraq more.

Imagine the message this sends to the rest of the world when we know that the VP thinks the President uses “shorthand“ to discuss international policy, and the “wrong policy” at that.

If Democrats are happy with this match up, I can only imagine it’s because Senator Obama is the most liberal senator and Biden is in 3rd place. Other than that it will have to be political ads, because nothing else will work – without massive flip flops and polispeak to spin your head.

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

In Senator Biden's own words

To even be fairer to Senator Biden than I think he deserves, I’ve decided to look around and see what he has said directly. I won’t bother with comments that are purely passionate polispeak, but his statements on substantive issues. I’m looking for his comments on taxes, national security, energy, international policy, immigration and healthcare.

But before I get to those points I what to highlight another factor that is just as important. How does the potential Vice President relate to the various peoples of the nation. As is stated clearly by the moderator in this video clip, Biden is known to create more anger than he resolves.

Statements Biden has made include the comments against Senator Obama, insulting African Americans backhandedly. And there is his thoughts other ethnic groups as well

Or his pride about representing a former slave state, as if this is a motivation for southerners.

Now on taxes, Biden is the Democratic Party line. Tax the ‘wealthy’ and investments. Of course there is no thought given to the fact that average workers own investments too. And there are millions of IRA’s and 401K’s that potentially will be affected as well. But that’s not as important as symbolically saying that having money is evil.

In terms of Iraq, he is nowhere near his Democratic colleagues. Not that his plan is worse
than their ‘run and hope for the best’ plans, in fact it is better though I feel inadequate.

A bit on his views on religion in politics

Which I would have loved to follow with his thoughts on abortion, but I could not find. So I moved on to energy. Please note that his view is somewhat different than Senator Obama.

He speaks about foreign oil, but ignores domestic drilling (which would be an obvious way to give America more flexibility on energy independence – though it wouldn’t help the stock options of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats invested in renewable energy). He correctly mentions that corn ethanol is not the answer, but leaves out the fact that the use of this is and will continue to push up food prices. He says he’s for alternatives, but negates nuclear power, which Europe uses. Basically he is a Democratic drone on the subject.

National security? Nothing. Sounds like most Democrats.

Darfur? Nothing, though he has quoted how we helped end the genocide in Bosnia, and that no U.S. troops have died there in the last 10 years. He’s concerned about Bosnia, but could care less on Darfur it seems.

On immigration he flips in a live debate. He is against making a fence to stop illegal aliens, because they can get around it, but he voted for a fence, because it will stop drug trafficking. Now if illegal aliens can get around or over a fence how will it stop drug trafficers? And he wants to give the illegal aliens in the nation citizenship. Essentially saying that breaking a major law is ok and should be rewarded. Might as well just give citizenship to everyone who asks for it then, by that logic.

On healthcare he reminds us that he is not exactly a clean bill of health. But beyond that he wants the Government to provide funds for Catastrophic injuries and children. Which sounds great, but where does the Government come up with the extra trillion or hundreds of billions of dollars each year? Taxes, and not on just the rich, bet on that. And what if your company cannot afford the required insurance for each employee? And since there is no department of the Government that runs efficiently or on budget, ever, where does the money come for the inevitable increases?

But lastly these might be the most stinging and telling comments of Senator Joe Biden, yes in a commercial form from McCain’s campaign, about his thoughts on Senator Obama, and McCain.

So I leave you with this thought. If after all the polispeak and Democratic Party speaking points, Senator Biden has believed and said that McCain is ready and worthy of being President or Vice President and that Senator Obama is not, why would anyone vote for Obama – Biden?

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Reviewing Senator Biden, the Democratic Vice Presidential candidate

So the Democratic Presidential ticket has been revealed. It’s Obama – Biden for 2008. Has this pick really done anything to help Senator Obama win the Presidency and become the first Black President? Has this improved the confidence of the nation in selecting these men as our leaders?

No. At least by me.

I reviewed some of the things that Senator Joe Biden has said in the past, his record in the Primary race, and what I noted about him. The summary is as follows.

Biden was able to take 5th place in the Iowa Primary, gaining a total of 1% of the vote which is inauspicious at best. In polls before the South Carolina Primary, when Stephen Colbert was seeking to enter, the results of potential voters placed Biden a mere .4% ahead of Colbert (Stephen Colbert was projected to have 2.3%, Biden had 2.7%}. Overall his total delegate count was 0. Biden never won a single state.

In my own unofficial polls, found on Black Entertainment USA, M V Consulting, and this site, which were available from 2007 until February 2008 Senator Biden garnered 3% of votes in a competition of Republicans and Democrats. That poll also showed that Senator Obama would win the Democratic Primary with 51%, and Senator McCain would win the Republican with 16%.

Senator Biden has in fact failed to win the Democratic Presidential nomination twice. In 1988 and again in 2008.

Senator Biden is older (56) than Senator Obama, and has far more experience in Congress as he holds the 6th longest term length ever. So it can be said that when viewed by the Obama campaign motto of Change; Senator Biden is the ‘old politics’ that Senator Obama is trying to ‘replace’.

Like Senator Obama, Biden is a lawyer. He attended University of Delaware and the Syracuse University (where he was found to have plagiarized a law review article in his first year). Unlike Senator Obama he has been found to be a liar about his time in college. He has claimed in the past that he had 3 degrees; he has 1, and graduated in the top half of his class, actually place just above the bottom 10%.

His views on Iraq and Afghanistan are mixed, and oppose the declared views of Senator Obama. While Obama favors the retreat in failure policy advocated by Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and Code Pink, Senator Biden has offered an option that differs. He supported troops in Afghanistan. He voted for the War in Iraq – along with virtually every Democrat in elected office at the time (Senator Obama was not in elected office then). He was in favor of larger numbers of troops in Iraq, and has not quibbled about funding our troops (which Obama has). His ultimate plan for Iraq is the creation of 3 states and allowing each of those states to be semi-independent and semi-autonomous but still working as a nation together.

Also of note is the fact that in the 2004 Presidential election, Biden advised John Kerry to pick Senator John McCain as a Vice-President. If that is not a statement of how close to political center and bi-partisan Senator John McCain is I cannot imagine what is.

But of major significance to me is the comment of Senator Biden about Senator Obama. Before Obama was the Democratic nominee, back when Biden was still in the Primary race, before the media had fallen in lust with Obama, Biden said what he thought.

"I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy, I mean, that's a storybook, man"

To which I ultimate stated

“Senator Biden needs to apologize to more than just Senator Obama. Every Black American deserves an apology. These comments are reminiscent of the mentality that necessitated the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s. These comments belittle every success and successful Black American in the nation. Hiding behind one term in a statement whose total purpose is too subtly insult will not fool us. The mainstream media may not wish to address this but I will.

For me, Senator Biden will never get my vote… But the underlying thought of his statement cannot be warmed-over by platitudes or a plea of a single term misstatement. The meaning of the full comment does not change. That meaning places me and 14% of America in a second-class, less than meaningful position. I will not accept that of an American President or politician if possible.”

So I will add this to my comment.

I would not vote for Senator Biden as President when his opinion of over 14% of this nation is demeaning and a throwback to the pre-Civil Rights years. That same reasoning prevents me from voting him into the 2nd highest position in America.

Senator Obama may feel that Biden is a solid mix, but I find his thinking flawed. Biden is an example of old politics – the kind that failed to come up with any energy alternatives in 30 years (Biden was first elected to office in 1972 before the Oil Crisis). Biden is a proven liar and cheat. Biden conflicts with Obama on how to resolve Iraq, and he has a proven zero appeal among Democratic primary voters.

If there was a question about how well Senator Obama could do in the Presidential election I feel it is now answered. I cannot fathom how he can win with Senator Biden on the ticket. Prepare for a McCain Presidency.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Vice President? The choices are limited.

With all the questions floating around about which politician should be the Vice-President for the Presidential candidates, I wanted to take a stab at who I thought made sense. Now to be fair, most of the potentials being bandied about by pundits are not well known names to me. Then again I doubt that most of America is familiar with almost any of them either.

I will delve into the Democrats first. That’s only because I think that Party is the weakest, with the worst political platforms. I also disagree on most issues with them. But not least of all is the fact that I don’t know many that I think would be a good candidate – so I will just mention who I am sure it will not be.

Senator Hillary Clinton. Not even in a pipe dream. Senator Obama and the Clinton machine share no love. Senator Clinton is actively trying to stab Obama in the back right now. Former- President Bill Clinton has insulted every aspect of Obama’s campaign as well as African Americans in politics.

Beyond all that, she is the one person that every Republican would love to see on the ticket. There is so much ammunition ready based on the fiascos, lies, and corruption of the Clintons that it would be the fastest way to ensure a McCain win. Women and Black votes included.

Al Gore. Is anyone that wants this not on drugs? Yes he is popular today with his allegations that the world will end tomorrow in a boiling ball of flame. Of course he thinks he is the smartest man in the room, no matter where the room is. Including the Oval Office.

He is slightly better than Hillary as he is less hated. But he is also seen as being very weak. Internationally he may do well with scientists, but that’s about it. Say what you will but the nation was SO happy that Gore was not in charge after 9/11. And he is directly linked to most of the baggage the Clintons have because he was part of their do-nothing Administration.

John Kerry. Do I really need to say more? You might as well want John Edwards.

Colin Powell. Now this is interesting. He is respected in politics and internationally. He is a war hero. He is unquestionably patriotic. He is Black. He is intelligent. He is personable. But he is also a Republican.

Now if he were to be convinced that would be something. But I do not believe that he would take the position just because Senator Obama has made history. To my knowledge virtually all the positions that Obama has announced are opposed by Powell. Though it would be the biggest move since the Lincoln Administration (took a Republican to go with the best people regardless of political affiliation – that’s bi-partisan), I can’t see it happening. It’s a long-shot at best.

And that’s the Democrats I know and care about. All the others being spoken about I don’t know enough to make an intelligent choice on.

As for Republicans I only think there needs to me a choice of 2 people. Condoleezza Rice and Mitt Romney.

Condoleezza Rice is the first Black woman as United States Secretary of State, and just the second African American, or woman, in the position ever (only took 220 some odd years). She is unquestionably intelligent (unless you think Stanford is a community college), experienced both before this Administration and during on international affairs. Oh, and she speaks 5 languages.

She survived the trials and tribulations of the Jim Crow laws in Birmingham yet she is relatively young, at a politically youthful 53. She is an accomplished pianist. And she was a Democrat until 1982.

Let me focus on the last sentence. Like many African Americans, Secretary Rice was raised to look at Democrats favorably. Unlike many of the youth today that believe the ultra-liberal views of Obama is the only option, Secretary Rice has seen several of the current proposals in action under President Carter. Anyone old enough to have lived through the fiasco that President Carter made of the economy at the time, and the weakness he projected of America (by being incapable of recovering our hostages from Iran) logically would never want to go back to that process.

Secretary Rice helps to pull the Black vote, as well as women. She is young, balancing well against McCain’s age. She is in excellent health. She is a success, it cannot be said enough. She has experience, which in combination to McCain severely outweighs the experience of any combination the Democrats can come up with.

The patriotism us unquestioned, and for those that care she is Presbyterian to my knowledge.

And let me step back. I mentioned 2 people, and thinking about it as I write I have changed my mind. I think she is the only real and solid choice. A McCain – Rice ticket wins in my opinion. Do the math as you wish, but Democrats have nothing to compete with this.

And the only negative I can think of is the pre-existing issue of Iraq. But we already know how Senator McCain feels about that, so it’s moot.

Well in a mere few days we will see, and then the real decisions will start to be made.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ken Jackson asks about Senator McCain and votes for veterans

This is written in response to comments of Ken Jackson, questioning my views of Senator McCain due to his voting record, found in the post Senator Obama overseas - polispeak and votes


Thank you for you response. I must say that I enjoy well-informed thought out comments.

While I must admit that it was a failure on my part for not mentioning the nature of Senator John McCain’s voting record there is a notable difference between the candidates. First off there is the question of Senator John McCain’s voting record. While you may be focusing on the last 4 years he has been in elected office for 25 years. Thus to evaluate his voting record effectively, and in full comparison, requires looking at 25 years of votes.

The next point to keep in mind is that I would not say that McCain has voted 95% along the Republican party line. While it is well documented that Senator Obama has voted the most liberal of all Senators in office, a review of McCain does not find that same fact. Note that just 1 ½ - 2 years ago McCain was lauded as the Democrats’ Republican. The liberal media hailed him as a progressive Republican willing to deviate from the pack. Such descriptions argue that 95% seems far too inaccurate.

Also of note is the fact that while there are several notable votes where McCain has voted Republican, as in his votes to maintain the Bush tax cuts (thus preventing a de facto tax increase), he has also voted bi-partisan as well as introducing legislation that was far from Republican party line. A great example is the immigration reform bill that was voted upon not more than 2 years ago, and was favored by many Democrats and some Republicans.

Senator Obama cannot say the same on any of these points. If I am incorrect please provide me sites or records that I might review.

To your points on the Surge, you are correct that the terms of the surge are vague. Depending on which political party you look at the Surge has had varying amounts of success. But the key in my mind is that the Surge has been an (at least limited) success and not the complete failure promised by Harry Reid and others (before it ever started, in fact from the moment it was proposed).

As you yourself admit, 15 out of 18 benchmarks have been achieved to some degree. That’s roughly 83%, give or take the various levels of success of each benchmark. By any standard that is a success, except to Harry Reid and other far-left groups.

I do not claim that the success is enough, or that it is finished. There will not be a finish to any plan in Iraq until the last U.S. combat troop leaves that nation. That is not to say that a military base will not be created in Iraq, but that is no different than the bases that exist in Korea, Germany, Japan and other nations over the past multiple decades.

Now I submit this thought as well. It is not possible to have any long-lasting or final result if Iraq is not at relative peace. If active fighting is occurring in the streets, and the people of Iraq are unable to even go to market for goods without being shot at or have IED’s go off, then nothing can be resolved. Thus the military action of the Surge is practically the most important portion of the entire plan.

Now I fully agree with your point on taking care of the veteran’s. My father was a veteran of Viet Nam, I served in the Marines, and several members of my family have served in the Army. So please do not doubt my commitment to servicemen and their families.

I do not believe there is any former service member that would not prefer to see this conflict ended quickly with as few American lives lost as possible. I also believe that each of us at one time or another vowed to give our lives for our nation, as determined by our President and the Congress, in all their wisdom (or lack thereof). While we may not agree with how the orders originate, we have to believe that ultimately they are for the greatest good of our nation.

While Iraq may have started under bad terms, at best, at this point to not win means that those orphans and any that are in difficulty will be convinced that America is the root of all their ills (which could well be false). As we all know quite well such disaffected individuals have a penchant for becoming fanatics and suicide killers. Thus in 5 to 10 years after a loss and retreat the potential for another massive attack on American soil increases exponentially.

But there is no excuse for the manner in which our veterans are being treated upon coming home. We are obligated to provide them better medical and mental care than they are receiving currently. At the same time there is an undercurrent in this nation that would look upon or military brethren in the same manner as those soldiers that returned to a hostile home after Viet Nam. Groups like (which are major Obama supporters) are little different than Hanoi Jane Fonda in my mind; and they need only slight provocation to go from their current ‘support’ of troops to outright dismissal of them.

As for McCain not supporting out troops, argues your point. They state directly that he has in fact voted to increase funds for veteran care, consistently

“Specifically, in 2004 McCain voted against an increase of $1.8 billion, but an increase of $1.2 billion passed by unanimous consent. In 2005 he voted against an increase of $2.8 billion, but voted for a $410 million increase. And in 2006, he voted against a $1.5 billion increase, but voted for an $823 million increase.

There was no dissent for the 2004 amendment, and the 2006 amendment passed unanimously. In 2005, the alternative spending increase passed with a healthy 96-to-4 bipartisan stamp of approval. Also, it's worth mentioning that the president does not express an opinion on every amendment offered in the Senate. So it is not accurate to say McCain "took Bush's side" on these votes.

The union group also cites a fourth vote, a March 2007 vote by McCain against a war spending supplemental that passed the Senate but was vetoed by the president. The bill did include $1.77 billion in additional funding for veterans' health care benefits. However, McCain voted for an alternative version of the supplemental that was quickly introduced, passed and signed into law. And it actually included slightly more money for veterans' health benefits, $1.79 billion.”

Now you may want to question why McCain has not voted in favor of more funding for our veterans, but that is different than

“a man who turns his back on fellow soldiers”

as you stated.

As for any other point on his care about our soldiers I refer to this other item from McCain has received awards from

  • 1995 Congressional Award from the VFW
  • 1992 VFW's Americanism Award
  • three or four Legislator of the Year Awards from American Legion
  • The VFW PAC has endorsed McCain in every congressional election since 1984

I have to believe that these organizations would not present awards to Senator McCain if he was not doing something (or a lot) in favor of military personnel and families.

And Senator Obama, who has never served a day in his life, and therefore cannot appreciate fully the sacrifices families and service members make daily, cannot make the same claims. Thus while I understand and appreciate your concern, I believe that on these issues Senator Obama is inferior to McCain.

But if you have proof to correct my positions, or cause for me to reconsider my position I am open to hear them.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Saddleback Civil Forum: My impressions

Now I’ve discussed my thoughts on how Senator Obama and Senator McCain answered questions about taxes and Darfur, but there were other observations from the Saddleback Civil Forum.

On of the most obvious things I noticed in comparing the 2 Presidential candidates was the amount of expirence they had. While Senator Obama had some ideas and tried to answer all the questions as best he could, Senator McCain had tons of experience. In almost every question asked McCain had a reference of something either he or his wife did. Not idea or proposals but actual facts and actions that related to the question at hand. That spoke volumes.

Another point that was divergent had to be the questions on abortion and gay marriage. The position of Senator McCain was pretty obvious on these questions. He is pro-life (now) and against gay marriage.

Senator Obama made me a bit surprised. He stated he was against gay marriage in a rather emphatic manner. I had not expected him to be so cut and dry on this issue.

“I am not somebody who promotes same-sex marriage, but I do believe in civil unions. I do believe that we should not -- that for gay partners to want to visit each other in a hospital, for the state to say, you know what, that's all right, I don't think in any way inhibits my core beliefs about what marriage are.”

As the most liberal Senator sitting currently, and with the huge financial support of far-left groups like, I expected him to have a more soft position. That is sure to cost him votes.

[Let me answer a question I inevitably will be asked. I do not support gay marriage. I do support civil unions. My reasons are different than what you may think.

The fight for gay marriage is a fight for a word. The purpose of marriage is the monogamous union of a man and woman for the purpose of procreation. Everything else associated with that is a societal/cultural addition. Since a gay couple is incapable of procreation, they cannot be married.

In fighting for the word marriage, an attempt to force others that disagree with gays in general to be forced to acknowledge them, the real fight is obscured. That fight as I understand it is for the right to be treated with dignity and equal rights under the law. That right can and must be covered by civil unions.

To fight for a word is to thus fight religious beliefs of some, which is a never ending fight as we can see in Iraq and with Muslim fanatics, and distracts from the real issue. It in fact prevents some from reaching a middle ground and supporting civil unions.

That simply put is my position. Let the hate mail begin.

Senator Obama was incredibly ambivalent on his answer about abortion. He never answered where he believes life begins. I realize that he was opposed to angering some voters with his answer, but I think his response angers everyone since he did not give an answer.

“So for me, the goal right now should be -- and this is where I think we can find common ground; and by the way, I've now inserted this into the Democratic Party platform -- is, how do we reduce the number of abortions?”

Thus he fails groups on both sides of the argument. I dislike answers like this as I find it polispeak of the worst form. It’s an attempt to hold or gather votes without providing the public with a basis to form an opinion and make an educated vote. I dislike when any candidate pulls this kind of stunt.

A similar thing happened with the first question that Senator Obama was given. When asked to name 3 people that were the wisest he has known in his life, he gives 2 names. His wife Michelle and his grandmother. I have no problem with the women he chose, I just wonder who was the 3rd person?

He bypasses the 3rd person on the list to then discuss the people he would rely on in his potential administration. Why did he skip the 3rd person? Who was it? Was it Rev. Wright and he was afraid of the controversy? Was it another figure that politically was derisive?

Mind you I don’t like the way McCain answered the first question either.

“First one, I think, would be General David Petraeus, one of the great military leaders in American history, who took us from defeat to victory in Iraq -- one of the great leaders… John Lewis was at the Edmund Pettis Bridge… Meg Whitman; Meg Whitman, the CEO of eBay.”

His answers were equally filled with polispeak. That does not mean they aren’t true, just that the obvious political benefit is too much to not notice.

The Iraq war, thus backing his views on how to have handled the conflict from the start and the Surge which was called a failure by Democrats before it ever started. John Lewis who was hurt during the Civil Rights Movement, and a nice pick for the Black vote. Meg Whiman, very positive for business, women, and those concerned about the economy.

Again they might all be true, but the groups the answer plays to is far too obvious.

Especially in the first answer.

Now while I think McCain showed far more experience, and was ready to answer tough questions with direct answers he was a bit to blunt. Some of his answers were too much dead on Republican talking points. They may be his views, but it just seemed that his campaign banged in his best response too well. It was like he was springloaded to respond to certain questions with exact answers. That does not mean they knew the question in advance, just that he was prepared overly-well.

What do I come away from this all? Basically that Senator McCain is far more experienced and ready to lead ther nation. That some of his views are far more defined and closer to the centrist nature of the general American public than Senator Obama.

And sadly for Senator Obama he gave a strong reason not to vote for him. His reason to not accept Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is exactly the reason that you can oppose him as President.

“I would not have nominated Clarence Thomas. I don't think that he was a strong enough jurist or legal thinker at the time for that elevation, setting aside the fact that I profoundly disagree with his interpretations of a lot of the Constitution.”

If inexperience is a disqualifier for Supreme Court, how can it not be a disqualifier for the highest elected office?

What did you think of the Forum?

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Full transcript from Saddleback Civil Forum

So that you can compare the candidates and draw your own conclusion. Don't rely on any one media source or any pundit (including myself); see their full comments for yourself.

Your vote is worth too much not to.

    REV. WARREN: Well, welcome to the Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency. I guess you got my invitation. (Laughter.) We're here at Saddleback Church here in Lake Forest, California. And tonight we're going to use the interview format with these two candidates.

    Now, we believe in the separation of church and state, but we do not believe in the separation of faith and politics, because faith is just a world view, and everybody has some kind of world view, and it's important to know what they are.

    Now, what I've decided, to allow for proper comparison, I'm going to ask identical questions to each of these candidates so you can compare apples to apples. Now, Senator Obama's going to go first. We flipped a coin. And we have safely placed Senator McCain in a cone of silence. (Laughter.) Now, each of the interviews will be segmented into four different sections. We're going to look at four different things, and the number of questions answered in each segment will depend on how succinct the senator is.

    I have to tell you up front, both of these guys are my friends. I don't happen to agree with everything either of them teach or believe, but they both care deeply about America. They're both patriots, and they have very different views on how America can be strengthened.

    Now, in America, we've got to learn how to disagree without demonizing each other. And we need to restore civility -- (applause) -- we need to restore civility in our civil discourse, and that's the goal of the Saddleback Civil Forum.

    So let's get started. And will you welcome Senator Barack Obama.

    (Applause and cheers.)

    REV. WARREN: Glad you're here. Thank you for being here.

    SEN. OBAMA: Thank you. Pretty good crowd you got here. (Laughter.)

    REV. WARREN: I got a good crowd.

    SEN. OBAMA: Well, it's a nice looking crowd.

    REV. WARREN: We're going to talk about four different issues tonight, Barack. The first issue is on leadership.

    SEN. OBAMA: Right.

    REV. WARREN: These first set of questions deal with your personal life as a leader. And I'm not going to do this with any other segment, but as a pastor I've got some verses that have to do with leadership. And the first issue is the area of listening. Now, there's a verse in Proverbs that says, "fools think they need no advice, but wise listen to other people." Who are the three wisest people you know in your life? And who are you going to rely on heavily in your administration?

    SEN. OBAMA: Well, first of all, let me thank you for having me here, Rick.

    REV. WARREN: You're welcome.

    SEN. OBAMA: And I love the ministries that are taking place here at Saddleback. This is the second time I've been here. The first time, we had a wonderful time.

    Excluding you, of course -- (laughter and applause) -- as one of the --

    REV. WARREN: (Laughs.) And your wife. (Applause.)

    SEN. OBAMA: I was going to say -- you know, there are so many people that are constantly helping to shape my views and my opinions. You mentioned one person I'd be listening to, and that's Michelle, my wife --

    REV. WARREN: Yeah, yeah.

    SEN. OBAMA: -- who is not only wise, but she's honest. And one of the things you need, I think any leader needs, is somebody who can get up in your face and say, boy, you really screwed that one up, you really blew that.

    REV. WARREN: (Laughs.) Your wife's like that, too? (Laughter.)

    SEN. OBAMA: She is. So that's very helpful.

    Another person in that category is my grandmother, who is an extraordinary woman. She never went to college. She worked on a bomber assembly line during World War II when my grandfather was away. Came back, got a job as a secretary and worked her way up to become a bank vice president before she retired. And she's just a very grounded, common-sense, no-fuss, no-frills kind of person. And when I've got big decisions, I often check in with her.

    Now, in terms of the administration or how I would approach the presidency, I don't think I'd restrict myself to three people. There are people like Sam Nunn, a Democrat, or Dick Lugar, a Republican, who I'd listen to on foreign policy. On domestic policy, you know, I've got friends ranging from Ted Kennedy to Tom Coburn, who don't necessarily agree on a lot of things but who both, I think, have a sincere desire to see this country improve.

    REV. WARREN: Yeah.

    SEN. OBAMA: What I've found is very helpful to me is to have a table where a lot of different points of view are represented and where I can sit and poke and prod and ask them questions so that any blind spots I have or predispositions that I have that my assumptions are challenged. And I think that that's extraordinarily important.

    REV. WARREN: All right. Let's talk about personal life. The Bible says that integrity and love are the basis of leadership. This is a tough question. What would be, looking over your life -- everybody's got weaknesses, nobody's perfect -- would be the greatest moral failure in your life? And what would be the greatest moral failure of America?

    SEN. OBAMA: Well, in my own life, I'd break it up in stages. I had a difficult youth. My father wasn't in the house. I've written about this. You know, there were times when I experimented with drugs, I drank, you know, in my teenage years. And what I trace this to is a certain selfishness on my part. I was so obsessed with me and, you know, the reasons that I might be dissatisfied that I couldn't focus on other people. And you know, I think the process for me of growing up was to recognize that it's not about me. It's about --

    REV. WARREN: I like that. (Laughter and applause.) I like that.

    SEN. OBAMA: Absolutely. But look, you know, when I find myself taking the wrong step, I think a lot of times it's because I'm trying to protect myself instead of do God's work.

    REV. WARREN: Yeah, fundamental selfishness.

    SEN. OBAMA: And so that, I think, is my own failure.

    REV. WARREN: How about America?

    SEN. OBAMA: I think America's greatest moral failure in my lifetime has been that we still don't abide by that basic precept in Matthew that whatever you do for the least of my brothers you do for me. (Applause.) And that notion of -- that basic principle applies to poverty. It applies to racism and sexism. It applies to, you know, not thinking about providing ladders of opportunity for people to get into the middle class.

    I mean, there's a pervasive sense, I think, that this country, as wealthy and powerful as we are, still don't spend enough time thinking about "the least of these."

    REV. WARREN: Okay. We've talked about this before, about the common good and the common ground and common good. Can you give me an example of a time -- you know, I've seen that a lot of good legislation gets killed because of party loyalty.

    SEN. OBAMA: Yeah.

    REV. WARREN: Can you give me a good example of where you went against party loyalty and maybe even went against your own best interest for the good of America.

    SEN. OBAMA: Well, you know, I'll give you an example that in fact I worked with John McCain on, and that was the issue of campaign ethics reform and finance reform. That wasn't probably in my interest or his, for that matter, because the truth was that both Democrats and Republicans sort of like the status quo. And I was new to the Senate, and it didn't necessarily then engender a lot of popularity when I started saying, you know, we're going to eliminate meals and gifts from corporate lobbyists. I remember one of my colleagues, whose name will be unmentioned, who said, well, where do you expect us to eat, McDonald's?

    REV. WARREN: (Laughs.)

    SEN. OBAMA: And I thought, well, actually, a lot of your constituents probably do eat at McDonald's, so that wouldn't be such a bad thing. But I think that we were able to get a bill passed that hasn't made Washington perfect but at least has started moving things forward.

    And you know, I guess the other example where I'm not sure that this was more of a partisan issue but it was something that I felt very deeply was when I posed the initial decision to go into war in Iraq. That was not a popular view at the time. And I was just starting my campaign for the United State Senate. And I think there were a lot of people who advised me, you should be cautious, this is going to be successful, the president has a very high approval rating, and you could end up losing the election as a consequence of this.

    REV. WARREN: Let me ask it this way. A lot of times, candidates are accused of flip-flopping, but actually sometimes flip-flopping is smart because you actually have decided a better position based on knowledge that you didn't have.

    SEN. OBAMA: Right.

    REV. WARREN: What's the most significant position you held 10 years ago that you no longer hold today, that you've flipped on, you've changed on because you actually see it differently?

    SEN. OBAMA: Because I actually changed my mind.

    REV. WARREN: You changed your mind, exactly.

    SEN. OBAMA: Well, you know, I'm trying to think back 10 years ago. I think that a good example would be the issue of welfare reform where I always believed that welfare had to be changed. I was much more concerned 10 years ago, when President Clinton initially signed the bill, that this could have disastrous results. I worked in the Illinois legislature to make sure that we were providing child care and health care and other support services for the women who were going to be kicked off the rolls at a certain time. It worked better than I think a lot of people anticipated.

    And you know, one of the things that I am absolutely convinced of is that we have to have work as a centerpiece of any social policy -- (applause) -- not only because ultimately people who work are going to get more income, but the intrinsic dignity of work, the sense of purpose --

    REV. WARREN: We were made for work.

    SEN. OBAMA: We were made for work.

    REV. WARREN: Yeah.

    SEN. OBAMA: And the sense that you are part of a community because you are making a contribution, no matter how small, to the well being of the country as a whole, I think that is something that Democrats generally I think have made a significant shift on.

    REV. WARREN: What's the most significant -- let me ask it this way. What's the most gut-wrenching decision you've ever had to make? And how did you process that to come to that decision?

    SEN. OBAMA: Well, you know, I think the opposition to the war in Iraq is as tough a decision as I've had to make, not only because there were political consequences but also because Saddam Hussein was a real bad person. And there was no doubt that he meant America ill. But I was firmly convinced at the time that we did not have strong evidence of weapons of mass destruction.

    And there were a lot of questions that, as I spoke to experts, kept on coming up. Do we know how the Shi'a and the Sunni and the Kurds are going to get along in a post-Saddam situation? You know, what's our assessment as to how this will affect the battle against terrorists like al Qaeda? Have we finished the job in Afghanistan?

    So I agonized over that. And I think that questions of war and peace generally are so profound. You know, when you meet the troops, they're 19, 20, 21-year-old kids, and you're putting them into harms way. There is a solemn obligation that you do everything you can to get that decision right.

    Now, as the war went forward, there were difficult decisions about, you know, how long do you keep on funding the war if you strongly believe that it's not in America's national interest? At the same time, you don't want to have troops who are out there without the equipment they need. So all those questions surrounding the war have been very difficult for me.

    REV. WARREN: Okay. We'll be back, and we're going to talk about world view in the next section.


    REV. WARREN: Everybody's got a world view. A Buddhist, a Baptist, a secularist, an atheist, everybody's got a world view. I wrote or invited people who get my newsletter to write in their questions. We have about 200,000 questions that came in -- (laughter) -- and I only have 500 in this section. So no matter how you answer these world-view questions, somebody's not going to like it --

    SEN. OBAMA: All right.

    REV. WARREN: -- because we're all different kinds of world views in America, but people want to know what your world view is. So as we go through these minefields, let's just kind of tick them off -- the minefields of America.

    The first one is Christianity. Now, you've made no doubt about your faith in Jesus Christ. What does that mean to you? What does that mean to you to trust in Christ? What does that mean on a daily basis? I mean, what does that really look like?

    SEN. OBAMA: Well, as a starting point, it means I believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins, and that I am redeemed through him. That is a source of strength and sustenance on a daily basis. I know that I don't walk alone. And I know that if I can get myself out of the way that, you know, I can maybe carry out in some small way what he intends. And it means that those sins that I have, on a fairly regular basis, hopefully will be washed away.

    You know, but what it also means, I think, is a sense of obligation to embrace not just words but through deeds, the expectations, I think, that God has for us. And that means thinking about "the least of these." It means acting, well, acting justly, loving mercy and walking humbly with our God. And that, I think, trying to apply those lessons on a daily basis, knowing that you're going to fall a little bit short each day, and being able to kind of take note and saying, well, that didn't quite work out the way I think it should have, but maybe I can get a little bit better. It gives me the confidence to try things, including things like running for president where you're going to screw up once in a while.

    REV. WARREN: Yeah.

    SEN. OBAMA: Yeah.

    REV. WARREN: Okay, let's go through the tough ones. Now, the most -- (laughter) --

    SEN. OBAMA: I thought that was pretty tough.

    REV. WARREN: No, that was a freebie. That was a gimme. (Laughter.) That was a gimme.

    Okay, now, let's deal with abortion. Forty million abortions since Roe v Wade. You know, as a pastor, I have to deal with this all the time, all of the pain and all of the conflicts. I know this is a very complex issue.

    Forty million abortions -- at what point does a baby get human rights, in your view?

    SEN. OBAMA: Well, I think that whether you're looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity, you know, is above my pay grade. But let me just speak more generally about the issue of abortion because this is something obviously the country wrestles with.

    One thing that I'm absolutely convinced of is that there is a moral and ethical element to this issue. And so I think anybody who tries to deny the moral difficulties and gravity of the abortion issue I think is not paying attention. So that would be point number one.

    But point number two, I am pro-choice. I believe in Roe versus Wade. And I come to that conclusion not because I'm pro-abortion but because ultimately I don't think women make these decisions casually. I think they wrestle with these things in profound ways, in consultation with these pastors or their spouses or their doctors and their family members.

    So for me, the goal right now should be -- and this is where I think we can find common ground; and by the way, I've now inserted this into the Democratic Party platform -- is, how do we reduce the number of abortions? Because the fact is is that although we've had a president who is opposed to abortion over the last eight years, abortions have not gone down. And that, I think, is something that we have to ask ourselves.

    REV. WARREN: Have you ever voted to limit or reduce abortions?

    SEN. OBAMA: Well, I am in favor, for example, of limits on late- term abortions if there is an exception for the mother's health. Now, from the perspective of those who, you know, are pro-life, I think they would consider that inadequate, and I respect their views. I mean, one of the things that I've always said is is that on this particular issue, if you believe that life begins at conception and you are consistent in that belief, then I can't argue with you on that because that is a core issue of faith for you.

    What I can do is say, are there ways that we can work together to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies so that we actually are reducing the sense that women are seeking out abortions? And as an example of that, one of the things that I've talked about is, how do we provide the resources that allow women to make the choice to keep a child? You know, have we given them the health care that they need? Have we given them the support services they need? Have we given them the options of adoption that are necessary? That, I think, can make a genuine difference.

    REV. WARREN: Okay. There's a lot more I'd like to ask on that, but we got 15 other questions here.

    Define marriage.

    SEN. OBAMA: I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. (Applause.) Now, for me as a Christian, it's also a sacred union. You know, God's in the mix. (Applause.)

    REV. WARREN: Would you support a constitutional amendment with that definition?

    SEN. OBAMA: No, I would not.

    REV. WARREN: Why not?

    SEN. OBAMA: (Applause.) Because historically, we have not defined marriage in our Constitution. It's been a matter of state law that has been our tradition. Now, I mean, let's break it down. The reason that people think there needs to be a constitutional amendment, some people believe, is because of the concern about same-sex marriage. I am not somebody who promotes same-sex marriage, but I do believe in civil unions. I do believe that we should not -- that for gay partners to want to visit each other in a hospital, for the state to say, you know what, that's all right, I don't think in any way inhibits my core beliefs about what marriage are.

    I think my faith is strong enough and my marriage is strong enough that I can afford those civil rights to others, even if I have a different perspective or a different view. (Applause.)

    REV. WARREN: Okay. How about this? What about stem cells? Now, we've had this scientific breakthrough of creating these pluripotent stem cells in adult cells. Do we still need federal funding for research? Would you still support that for embryo stem cells?

    SEN. OBAMA: Well, keep in mind the way the stem cell legislation that was vetoed by the president was structured. What it said was you could only use embryos that were about to be discarded, that had been created as a consequence of attempts at in vitro fertilization. So there were very tightly circumscribed mechanisms that were permitted.

    I think that that is a legitimate, moral approach to take. If we're going to discard those embryos and we know that there's potential research that could lead to curing debilitating diseases -- Alzheimer's, Lou Gehrig's disease -- you know, if that possibility presents itself, then I think that we should, in a careful way, go ahead and pursue that research.

    Now, if in fact adult stem cell lines are working just as well, then, of course, we should try to avoid any kind of moral arguments that may be in place.

    But I want to make a broader point, Pastor Rick, on an issue like stem cell research. I mean, it's not like people who are in favor of stem cell research are going around thinking to themselves, you know, boy, let's go destroy some embryos. Right? I mean, that's not the perspective that I think people come to that issue on.

    I think what they say is, we would not tolerate a situation in which, you know, we're encouraging human cloning or in some ways diminishing the sacredness of human life and what it means to be human. But that in narrow circumstances, you know, there is nothing inappropriate with us pursuing scientific research that could lead to cures so long as, you know, we're not designing embryos for that purpose.

    REV. WARREN: Okay, we've got one last -- I've got a bunch more, but let me just ask you one about evil. Does evil exist? And if it does, do we ignore it, do we negotiate with it, do we contain it, do we defeat it?

    SEN. OBAMA: Evil does exist. I mean, I think we see evil all the time. We see evil in Darfur. We see evil, sadly, on the streets of our cities. We see evil in parents who viciously abuse their children. And I think it has to be confronted. It has to be confronted squarely.

    And one of the things that I strongly believe is that, you know, we are not going to, as individuals, be able to erase evil from the world. That is God's task. But we can be soldiers in that process, and we can confront it when we see it.

    Now, the one thing that I think is very important is for us to have some humility in how we approach the issue of confronting evil because, you know, a lot of evil has been perpetrated based on the claim that we were trying to confront evil.

    REV. WARREN: In the name of good.

    SEN. OBAMA: In the name of good.

    REV. WARREN: Yeah, okay.

    SEN. OBAMA: And I think, you know, one thing that's very important is having some humility in recognizing that, you know, just because we think our intentions are good doesn't always mean that we're going to be doing good.

    REV. WARREN: Okay, all right. Let's move on to some domestic issues. Don't give me your stump speech on these. Let's go through it.

    SEN. OBAMA: All right. This is hard. (Laughter.)

    REV. WARREN: I know it is.

    SEN. OBAMA: I've been on the stump for a long time.

    REV. WARREN: I know it is. The courts -- let me ask it this way. Which existing Supreme Court justice would you not have nominated?

    SEN. OBAMA: That's a good one. That's a good one. (Laughter.)

    I would not have nominated Clarence Thomas. (Applause.) I don't think that he was a strong enough jurist or legal thinker at the time for that elevation, setting aside the fact that I profoundly disagree with his interpretations of a lot of the Constitution. I would not nominate Justice Scalia, although I don't think there's any doubt about his intellectual brilliance, because he and I just disagree. You know, he taught at the University of Chicago, as did I, in the law school.

    REV. WARREN: How about John Roberts?

    SEN. OBAMA: You know, John Roberts I have to say was a tougher question only because I find him to be a very compelling person, you know, in conversation individually. He's clearly smart, very thoughtful.

    I will tell you that how I've seen him operate since he went to the bench confirms the suspicions that I had and the reason that I voted against him.

    And I'll give you one very specific instance, and this is not a stump speech. I think one of the --

    REV. WARREN: (Laughs.) When I pick this up, it means --

    SEN. OBAMA: Right, exactly. I'm getting the cues, I'm getting the cues. (Laughter.

    One of the most important jobs of, I believe, the Supreme Court is to guard against the encroachment of the executive branch on the power of the other branches.

    REV. WARREN: Okay.

    SEN. OBAMA: And I think that he has been a little bit too willing and eager to give an administration, whether it's mine or George Bush's, more power than I think the Constitution originally intended.

    REV. WARREN: Okay. The role of faith-based organizations -- a recent poll says 80 percent of Americans think faith-based organizations do a better job at community services than the government -- helping addictions -- (applause) -- you know, prisoner reentry, you know, all the different homeless, poverty, things like this. And the Civil Rights Act of '64 says that faith-based organizations have a right to hire people who believe like they do. Would you insist that faith-based organizations forfeit that right to access federal funds?

    SEN. OBAMA: Well, first of all, I think you're aware, Pastor Rick, that I gave a speech earlier this summer promoting faith-based initiatives. I think that we should have an all-hands-on-deck approach when it comes to issues like poverty and substance abuse. And as somebody who got my start out of college working with churches who were trying to deal with the devastation of steel plants closing on the south side of Chicago, I know the power of faith-based institutions to get stuff done.

    What I have said is that when it comes, first of all, to funding faith-based organizations, they are always free to hire whoever they want when it comes to their own mission, who their pastor is, various ministries that they want to set up. And this has been a long- standing rule.

    REV. WARREN: Like on Christian college, Christian university.

    SEN. OBAMA: Absolutely. When it comes to the programs that are federally funded, then we do have to be careful to make sure that we are not creating a situation where people are being discriminated against using federal money. That's not new. That's a concept that was true under the Clinton administration. That was true under the Bush administration. There are in 95 percent of the circumstances, it's not an issue because people are careful about how they use the funds.

    There are some tough issues, 5 percent of the situations, where people might say, you know, I want to hire somebody of my faith for a program that is fully funded by the federal government and we're offering services to the public. And my --

    REV. WARREN: For instance, like in relief, like in Katrina.

    SEN. OBAMA: Right, right.

    REV. WARREN: If I took people to Katrina and I wanted to hire some people to do relief, if I took federal money to help in that relief, I wouldn't be able to say, well, I only want people who believe like we do.

    SEN. OBAMA: Well, you know, it's one of those situations where the devil is in the details. I think generally speaking, faith-based organizations should not be advantaged or disadvantaged when it comes to getting federal funds by virtue of the fact that they are faith- based organizations. They just want a level playing field.

    But what we do want to make sure of is that, as a general principle, we're not using federal funding to discriminate. But that is only when it comes to the narrow program that is being funded by the federal government. That does not affect any of the other ministries that are taking place.

    REV. WARREN: Okay, let's go to education. America right now ranks 19th in high school graduations. We're first in incarcerations.

    SEN. OBAMA: Not good.

    REV. WARREN: Not good. Eighty percent of Americans, a recent poll said they believe in merit pay for teachers. Now, I'm not asking do you think all teachers should get a raise. Do you think better teachers should be paid better, they should be paid more than poor teachers?

    SEN. OBAMA: I think that we should, and I've said this publicly, that we should set up a system of performance pay for teachers, negotiated with teachers, worked with the teachers to figure out the assessments so that they feel like they're being judged fairly, that it's not at the whim of the principal, that it's not simply based on a single high-stakes standardized test. But the basic notion that teaching is a profession, that teachers are underpaid so we need to pay them all more and create a higher baseline, but then we should also reward excellence. I think that is a concept that all of us should invest in. (Applause.)

    REV. WARREN: Okay. Taxes -- this is a real simple question. Define "rich." (Laughter.) I mean, give me a number. Is it 50,000 (dollars)? One hundred thousand (dollars)? Two hundred thousand (dollars)? Everybody keeps talking about who we're going to tax. How do you define that?

    SEN. OBAMA: You know, if you've got book sales of 25 million, then you qualify. (Applause.)

    REV. WARREN: (Laughs.) I'm not asking about me. (Laughter.)

    SEN. OBAMA: Look, here's how I think about it. Here's how I think about it, and this is reflected in my tax plan. If you are making $150,000 a year or less as a family, then you're middle class, or you may be poor. But 150 (thousand dollars) down, you're basically middle class. Obviously, it depends on region and where you're living.

    REV. WARREN: In this region, you're poor. (Laughter and applause.)

    SEN. OBAMA: I don't know what housing prices are doing lately. (Applause.) I would argue that if you're making more than 250,000 (dollars) then you're in the top 3, 4 percent of this country. You're doing well. Now, these things are all relative, and I'm not suggesting that everybody who is making over 250,000 (dollars) is living on Easy Street.

    But the question that I think we have to ask ourselves is, if we believe in good schools, if we believe in good roads, if we want to make sure that kids can go to college, if we don't want to leave a mountain of debt for the next generation, then we've got to pay for these things. They don't come for free. And it is irresponsible -- (applause) -- I believe it is irresponsible intergenerationally for us to invest or for us to spend $10 billion a month on a war and not have a way of paying for it. (Applause.) That, I think, is unacceptable.

    So nobody likes to pay taxes. I haven't sold 25 million books, but I've been selling some books lately. (Laughter.) So I write a pretty big check to Uncle Sam. Nobody likes it. What I can say is is that under the approach I'm taking, if you make $150,000 or less, you will see a tax cut. If you're making $250,000 a year or more, you're going to see a modest increase.

    What I'm trying to do is create a sense of balance and fairness in our tax code. One thing I think we can all agree on is that it should be simpler so that you don't have all these loopholes and big stacks of stuff that you've got to comb through, which wastes a huge amount of money and allows special interests to take advantage of things that ordinary people cannot take advantage of.

    REV. WARREN: Great.

    Okay, we'll be right back. (Applause.)


    REV. WARREN: (In progress) -- on the presidency.

    In this last section, I want us to talk about America's responsibility to the rest of the world. We are the most blessed nation in the world, and we're blessed to be a blessing. To whom much is given, much is required. So let's just go down some of those international issues.

    First thing, let's just talk about war. As an American, what's worth dying for? What's worth having sacrifice of American lives for?

    SEN. OBAMA: Well, obviously, American freedom, American lives, America's national interests. You know, I was just with my family on vacation in Hawaii and visited the place where my grandfather is laid to rest, the Punchbowl National Cemetery, and then went out to the Arizona out in Pearl Harbor. And you know, you're reminded of the sacrifices that have been made on behalf of our freedom. And I think that is a solemn obligation that we all have.

    I think we also have forged alliances with countries, NATO being a prime example, where we have pledged to act militarily for the common defense.

    That is in our national interest, and that is something that I think that we have to abide by.

    REV. WARREN: What would be the criteria that you would commit troops to end the genocide, for instance like what's going on in Darfur or could happen in Georgia or anywhere else? A mass killing.

    SEN. OBAMA: You know, I don't think that there is a hard-and- fast line at which you say, okay, we are going in. I think it is always a judgment call. I think that the basic principle has to be that if we have it within our power to prevent mass killing and genocide and we can work in concert with the international community to prevent it, then we should act. (Applause.) Now, we have to do so -- I think that international component is very critical. We may not get 100 percent agreement, but let's --

    REV. WARREN: Would you ever go to war without U.N. Approval?

    SEN. OBAMA: Yes, absolutely. Yeah. But you know, I think you take an example like Bosnia when we went in and undoubtedly saved lives, we did not have U.N. Approval, but there was a strong international case that had been made that ethnic cleansing was taking place. And under those circumstances, when we have it within our power, you know, we should take action.

    REV. WARREN: Okay. This one is dear to my heart. Most people don't know that there are 148 million orphans in the world. One hundred forty-eight million kids growing up without mommies and dads. They don't need to be in an orphanage, they need to be in families, but a lot of families can't afford to take these kids in. Would you be willing to consider and even commit to doing some kind of an emergency plan for orphans like President Bush did with AIDS, almost a president's emergency plan for orphans to deal with this issue?

    SEN. OBAMA: I cheated a little bit. I actually looked at this idea ahead of time, and I think it is a great idea. I think it's something that we should sit down and figure out working between non- governmental organizations, international institutions, the U.S. government and try to figure out what can we do.

    I think that part of our plan, though, has to be, how do we prevent more orphans in the first place? And that means that we're helping to build a public health infrastructure around the world. That we are, you know, building on the great work that you and, by the way, this president has done when it comes to AIDS funding around the world. I think, you know, I'm often a critic of President Bush. But I think the PEPFAR program has saved lives and has done very good work. (Applause.) And he deserves enormous credit for that.

    REV. WARREN: Religious persecution -- what do you think the U.S. should do to end religious persecution, for instance, in China, in Iraq and in many of our supposed allies? I'm not just talking about persecution of Christianity, but there's religious persecution around the world that persecutes millions of people.

    SEN. OBAMA: Well, I think the first thing we have to do is to bear witness and to speak out and not pretend that it's not taking place. You know, our relationship with China, for example, is a very complicated one. You know, we're trading partners. Unfortunately, they are now lenders to us because we haven't been taking care of our economy the way we need to be. I don't think any of us want to see military conflict with China.

    So we want to manage this relationship and move them into the world community as a full partner. But we can't purchase that by ignoring the very real persecutions that are taking place. And so having an administration that's speaking out, joining in international forums where we can point out human rights abuses and the absence of religious freedom, that, I think, is absolutely critical.

    Over time, what we are doing is setting up new norms and creating a universal principle that people's faith and people's beliefs have to be protected. And as you said, it's not just Christians. And we've got to make sure -- you know, one thing that I think is very important for us to do on all these issues is to lead by example. That's why I think it's so important for us to have religious tolerance here in the United States. That's why it's so important for us, when we are criticizing other countries about rule of law, to make sure that we're abiding by rule of law and habeas corpus and we're not engaging in torture -- (applause) -- because that gives us a moral standing to talk about these other issues.

    REV. WARREN: Okay, another issue. The third-largest and the fastest-growing criminal industry in the world is human trafficking, $32 billion a year. A lot of people don't know that there are about 27 million people living in slavery right now, many of them in sex trafficking but in the others. How do we speak out? And how do you plan to do something about that?

    SEN. OBAMA: This has to be a top priority. And this is an area where we've already seen bipartisan agreement on this issue. What we have to do is to create better, more effective tools for prosecuting those who are engaging in human trafficking. And we have to do that within our country. Sadly, there are thousands who are trapped in various forms of enslavement here in our country, oftentimes young women who are caught up in prostitution.

    So we've got to give prosecutors the tools to crack down on these human-trafficking networks. Internationally, we've got to speak out, and we've got to forge alliances with other countries to share intelligence, to roll up the financing networks that are involved in them. It is a debasement of our common humanity whenever we see something like that taking place. (Applause.)

    REV. WARREN: Okay. In a minute -- in one minute because I know you could take the entire hour on this -- tell me in a minute why you want to be president.

    SEN. OBAMA: You know, I remember what my mother used to tell me. I was talking to somebody a while back, and I said, the one time that she'd get really angry with me is if she ever thought that I was being mean to somebody or unfair to somebody. She said, imagine standing in their shoes, imagine looking through their eyes. That basic idea of empathy.

    And that, I think, is what's made America special is that notion that everybody's got a shot. If we see somebody down and out, if we see a kid who can't afford college, that we care for them, too. And I want to be president because that's the America I believe in. And I feel like that American dream is slipping away.

    I think we are at a critical juncture economically. I think we are at a critical juncture internationally. We've got to make some big decisions, not just for us but for the next generation. And we keep on putting it off. And unfortunately, our politics is so broken and Washington is so broken that we can't seem to bring together people of good will to solve these common problems. I think I have the ability to build bridges across partisan lines, racial, regional lines to get people to work on some common-sense solutions to critical issues. (Applause.) And I hope that I have the opportunity to do that.

    REV. WARREN: Great, thank you. (Applause.)

    I'm going to skip over a couple of these other important ones, and I'll just ask you, what do you say to people who oppose me asking you these questions? (Laughter.) That will the last one.

    SEN. OBAMA: These are the kinds of forums we need where we have a conversation. (Applause.) And I think based on these conversations, the American people can make a good judgment. I mean, one of the things if you're a person of faith like me, I believe that things will work out, and we will get the president that we need. What you want, though, is just to make sure that people have good information, that they're not just consuming negative ads or the kind of nasty tit for tat that has become so common in politics.

    You know, I want people to know me well. And I want people -- I'm sure John McCain feels the same way in that if we are both known and people know where we stand on issues, you know, I trust in the American people. They're going to make a good decision, and we're going to be able to solve the big problems that we face.

    REV. WARREN: Okay, I've got 30 seconds. What would you tell the American public if you knew there wouldn't be any repercussions? (Laughter.)

    SEN. OBAMA: Well, you know what I would tell them is that solving big problems, like for example energy, is not going to be easy. And everybody is going to have to get involved. And we are going to have to all think about how are we using energy more efficiently. And there's going to be a price to pay in transitioning to a more energy efficient economy and dealing with issues like climate change.

    And if we pretend like everything is free and there's no sacrifice involved, then we are betraying the tradition of America. I think about my grandparent's generation coming out of the Depression, fighting World War II. You know, they confronted some challenges we can't even imagine. If they were willing to make sacrifices on our behalf, we should be able to make some sacrifices on behalf of the next generation. (Applause and cheers.)

    REV. WARREN: Senator, thank you.

    SEN. OBAMA: Thank you.

    REV. WARREN: Now, would you stand and thank Senator Barack Obama.

    (Applause and cheers.)

    SEN. OBAMA: Thank you. Thank you.

    REV. WARREN: Thank you so much. Thank you.

    And while you're still standing, would you welcome at the same time Senator John McCain. Would you welcome him as he comes out here.

    (Applause and cheers.)

    SEN. OBAMA: Hi, John. Good to see you.

    SEN. MCCAIN: Good to see you. Thank you guys.

    REV. WARREN: Thank you so much.



    9:00 P.M. EDT, SATURDAY

    REV. WARREN: Welcome back to the Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency.

    And welcome, Senator John McCain. Thank you for being here. (Cheers, applause.)

    SEN. MCCAIN: I'm very glad to be here.

    REV. WARREN: Thank you for coming.

    Now, my first question: Was the cone of silence comfortable that you were in just now? (Laughs.)

    SEN. MCCAIN: (Laughs.) I was trying to hear through the wall.

    REV. WARREN: (Laughs.) Okay, this first set of questions deals with leadership and the personal life of leadership. First question is, who are the three wisest people that you know that you would rely on heavily in an administration?

    SEN. MCCAIN: First one, I think, would be General David Petraeus, one of the great military leaders in American history, who took us from defeat to victory in Iraq -- one of the great leaders -- (applause) -- (inaudible).

    Fourth of July a year ago, Senator Lindsey Graham and I were in Baghdad. Six hundred and eighty-eight brave young Americans whose enlistment had expired swore an oath of re-enlistment to stay and fight for freedom. Only someone like General David Petraeus could motivate someone like that.

    I think John Lewis. John Lewis was at the Edmund Pettis Bridge, had his skull fractured, continued to serve, continues to have the most optimistic outlook about America. He can teach us all a lot about the meaning of courage and commitment to causes greater than our self-interest.

    Meg Whitman; Meg Whitman, the CEO of eBay. Meg Whitman -- 12 years ago, there were five employees. Today there are one and a half million people that make a living off eBay in America and the world. It's one of these great American success stories. And in these economic challenging times, we need to call on the wisdom and knowledge and background of people like Meg Whitman, who have been able to make such a great American success story part of the world's folklore.

    REV. WARREN: Okay. Let me ask you this. This is a character question.

    SEN. MCCAIN: I hope they get easier. (Laughter.)

    REV. WARREN: Well, this one isn't easier. We've had a lot of leaders, because of their weaknesses, character flaws, stumble, become ineffective, are not even serving anymore, serving our country. What's been your greatest moral failure? And what has been the -- what do you think is the greatest moral failure of America?

    SEN. MCCAIN: They don't get any easier. (Laughter.)

    REV. WARREN: No, they don't get any easier.

    SEN. MCCAIN: My greatest moral failing -- and I have been -- (audio break) -- is the failure of my first marriage. It's my greatest moral failure.

    I think America's greatest moral failure has been throughout our existence perhaps we have not devoted ourselves to causes greater than our self-interest, although we've been the best at it of anybody in the world.

    I think after 9/11, my friends, instead of telling people to go shopping or take a trip, we should have told Americans to join the Peace Corps, Americorps, the military, expand our volunteer -- expand what you're doing -- (applause) -- expand the great missions that you are doing, that you're carrying out not only here in America but throughout the world, especially in Rwanda. And I hope we have a chance to talk a little bit about that later on.

    And, you know, a little pandering here -- the first words of your very successful book is "This is not about you." You know what that really also means? Serve a cause greater than your self-interest. (Applause.)

    REV. WARREN: John, you know that a lot of good legislation dies because of partisan politics. And party loyalty keeps people from really getting forward on putting America's best first. Can you give me an example of where you led against your party's interest -- oh, this is hard -- (laughter) -- and really maybe against your own best interest for the good of America?

    SEN. MCCAIN: You know, by a strange coincidence -- (laughter) -- I was not elected Miss Congeniality again in the United States Senate this year. (Laughter.) I don't know why. I don't know why. I don't know why.

    Climate change, out-of-control spending, torture; the list goes on on a large number of issues that I have put my country first and I've reached across the aisle. But I'd probably have to say that one of the times that probably was one of the most trying was when I was first a member of Congress and a new freshman in the House of Representatives and very loyal and dedicated to President Reagan, who I still think is one of the great, great presidents in American history -- (applause) -- who won the Cold War without firing a shot, in the words of Margaret Thatcher.

    He wanted to send troops to Beirut for a peacekeeping mission. My knowledge and my background told me that a few hundred Marines in a situation like that could not successfully carry out any kind of peacekeeping mission, and I thought they were going into harm's way. Tragically, as many of you recall, there was a bombing of the Marine barracks and well over 100 brave Marines gave their lives.

    But it was tough, that vote, because I went against the president I believed in and the party that believed that maybe I was disloyal very early in my political career.

    REV. WARREN: There's a verse in the Bible that says intelligent people look for ideas. In fact, they search for them. What's the most significant position that you've held 10 years ago that you no longer hold today?

    I think the point I'm trying to make is that leaders are not stubborn; they do change their mind with additional information. So give me a good example of something that 10 years ago you said, "That's the way I feel about it," and now, 10 years later, it's different. That's not flip-flopping; it's just sometimes growing in wisdom.

    SEN. MCCAIN: Offshore drilling. We've got to drill now and we've got to drill here, and we've got to become independent of foreign oil. (Cheers, applause.) I know that there are some here in California that disagree -- (laughter) -- that disagree with that position. (Laughs.)

    Could I also mention very seriously about this issue -- my friends, you know that this is a national security issue. We're sending $700 billion a year to countries that don't like us very much, that some of that money is ending up in the hands of terrorist organizations. We cannot allow this greatest transfer of wealth in our history when our national security will continue to be threatened. (Applause.)

    And Rick, I know we've got a lot of issues to cover, but let me just say, at the town hall meetings that I have every day, that's the issue on people's mind is energy. So I think if I could just take one -- 30 seconds. One, we've got to do everything. We've got to do wind, tide, solar, natural gas, hydrogen cars, hybrid cars, electric cars. And we have to have nuclear power in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions -- (applause) -- and save on our energy costs.

    And by the way, in case you hadn't noticed it, the French -- 80 percent -- we love to imitate the French -- 80 percent of their electricity is generated by nuclear power. If they can do it and reprocess, we can too, my friends. And by the way, if you hadn't noticed, we now have a pro-American president of France, which shows if you live long enough, anything can happen in America. (Laughter, applause.)

    REV. WARREN: (Audio break.) What's the most gut-wrenching decision you've ever had to make? And what was the process that you used to make it?

    SEN. MCCAIN: It was long ago and far away in a prison camp in North Vietnam. My father was a high-ranking admiral. The Vietnamese came and said that I could leave prison early. And we had a code of conduct that said you only leave by order of capture. I also had a dear and beloved friend who was from California named Ev Alvarez, who had been shot down and captured a couple of years before me. But I wasn't in good physical shape. In fact, I was in rather bad physical shape. And so I said no.

    Now, in interest of full disclosure, I'm very happy I didn't know the war was going to last for another three years or so. But I said no, and I'll never forget sitting in my last answer, and the high- ranking officer who offered it slammed the door and the interrogator said, "Go back to your cell. It's going to be very tough on you now." And it was; but not only the toughest decision I ever made, but I'm most happy about that decision than any decision I ever made in my life. (Applause.)

    Could I finally say, it look a lot of prayer. It took a lot of prayer.

    REV. WARREN: Great. We'll be right back with John McCain. (Applause.)


    REV. WARREN: Welcome back. And we're here with Senator John McCain.

    Now, John, in this next section we're going to talk about world view. And I actually invited a couple of hundred thousand people, my personal friends, to send me their questions. And these are heartland questions that came in from all over America. No matter how you answer them, somebody's not going to like it, because we have many world views, obviously, in America. But let's walk through these mine fields together.

    First, you've made no doubt about the fact that you are a Christian. You publicly say you're a follower of Christ. What does that mean to you? And how does faith work out in your life on a daily basis? What does it mean to you?

    SEN. MCCAIN: It means I'm saved and forgiven. And we're talking about the world. Our faith encompasses not just the United States of America, but the world.

    Can I tell you another story real quick?

    REV. WARREN: Sure. (Laughter.)

    SEN. MCCAIN: The Vietnamese kept us imprisoned in conditions of solitary confinement or two or three to a cell. They did that because they knew they could break down our resistance. One of the techniques that they used to get information was to take ropes and tie them around your biceps, pull your biceps behind you, loop the rope around your head, pull your head down between your knees, and leave you in that position. You can imagine, it was very uncomfortable.

    One night I was being punished in that fashion. All of a sudden the door of the cell opened and the guard came in; a guy who was just what we called a gun guard. He just walked around the camp with a gun on his shoulder. He went like this and then he loosened the ropes. He came back about four hours later; he tightened them up again and left.

    The following Christmas, because it was Christmas Day, we were allowed to stand outside of our cell for a few minutes. In those days, we were not allowed to see or communicate with each other, although we certainly did. And I was standing outside for my few minutes outside of my cell. He came walking up. He stood there for a minute. And with his sandal on the dirt in the courtyard, he drew a cross. And he stood there, and a minute later he rubbed it out and walked away. For a minute there, there was just two Christians worshiping together. I'll never forget that moment. (Applause.)

    (Off mike) -- so every day.

    REV. WARREN: All right, let's go into the tough ones. That was just (opening ?). Let's deal with abortion. I, as a pastor, have to deal with this all the time -- every different angle, every different pain, all the decisions and all of that. Forty million abortions since Roe v. Wade. Some people -- people who believe that life begins at conception would say that's a holocaust for many people.

    What point is a baby entitled to human rights?

    SEN. MCCAIN: At the moment of conception. (Cheers, applause.) I have a 25-year pro-life record in the Congress, in the Senate. And as president of the United States, I will be a pro-life president and this presidency will have pro-life policies. (Cheers, applause.) That's my commitment. That's my commitment to you.

    REV. WARREN: Okay. We don't have to go longer on that one. (Laughter.)

    Define marriage.

    SEN. MCCAIN: A union -- a union between man and woman, between one man and one woman. That's my definition of marriage. (Applause.)

    Are we going to get back to the importance of Supreme Court justices, or should I mention it?

    REV. WARREN: We will get to that.

    SEN. MCCAIN: Okay. All right. (Laughter.) Okay.

    REV. WARREN: Man, you're jumping ahead. You know all my questions.

    SEN. MCCAIN: No, no, that's -- when we speak of the issue of the rights of the unborn, we need to talk about judges. But anyway, go ahead.

    REV. WARREN: Well, let me just ask you a question related to that. We've got a bill right here in California, Proposition 8, that's going on because the court overturned --

    SEN. MCCAIN: Yes.

    REV. WARREN: -- this definition of marriage. Was the Supreme Court of California wrong?

    SEN. MCCAIN: I believe they were wrong. And I strongly support -- (applause) -- preserving the unique status of marriage between man and woman. And I'm a federalist. I believe that states should make those decisions.

    In my state, I hope we will make that decision -- in other states they have -- to recognize the unique status of marriage between man and woman. And that means -- that doesn't mean that people can't enter into legal agreements. That doesn't mean that they don't have the rights of all citizens. I'm not saying that. I am saying that we should preserve the unique status of marriage between one man and one woman.

    And if a federal court, if a federal court decided that my state of Arizona had to observe what the state of Massachusetts decided, then I would favor a constitutional amendment. Until then, I believe the states should make the decisions within their own states.

    REV. WARREN: Okay. (Applause.) All right. Another issue is stem cells. Now, we've had this scientific breakthrough of creating pluripotent stem cells through adult stem cells.

    SEN. MCCAIN: Yes.

    REV. WARREN: So would you favor or oppose the federal funding of embryonic stem cell research since we have this other breakthrough?

    SEN. MCCAIN: For those of us in the pro-life community, this has been a great struggle and a terrible dilemma, because we're also taught other obligations that we have as well. I've come down on the side of stem cell research, but I am wildly optimistic that skin cell research, which is coming more and more into focus and practicability, will make this debate an academic one.

    REV. WARREN: All right. How about the issue of evil? I asked this of your rival in the previous thing. Does evil exist? And, if so, should we ignore it, negotiate with it, contain it, or defeat it?

    SEN. MCCAIN: Defeat it. (Applause.) A couple of points. One, if I'm president of the United States, my friends, if I have to follow him to the gates of hell, I will get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice. (Applause.) I will do that, and I know how to do it. I will get that guy. (Applause.) No one, no one should be allowed to take thousands of American -- innocent American lives.

    Of course evil must be defeated. My friends, we are facing the transcendent challenge of the 21st century -- radical Islamic extremism. Not long ago in Baghdad, al Qaeda took two young women who were mentally disabled and put suicide vests on them, sent them into a marketplace, and, by remote control, detonated those suicide vests. If that isn't evil, you have to tell me what is. (Applause.)

    And we're going to defeat this evil. And the central battleground, according to David Petraeus and Osama bin Laden, is the battle -- is Baghdad, Mosul, Basra and Iraq. And we are winning and we are succeeding, and our troops will come home with honor and with victory, and not in defeat. And that's what's happening. (Applause.) And we have -- and we face this threat throughout the world. It's not just in Iraq. It's not just in Afghanistan. Our intelligence people tell us al Qaeda continues to try to establish cells here in the United States of America.

    My friends, we must face this challenge. We can face this challenge, and we must totally defeat it. And we're in a long struggle. But when I'm around the young men and women who are serving us in uniform, I have no doubt -- none. (Applause.)

    REV. WARREN: All right. These next questions have to do with domestic issues. I believe that leadership is stewardship, not ownership. And for a few years, you're asking us to place the stewardship of our freedom and our security and our economy and the environment, everything, into your hands. So I have about 500 questions in this category.

    The first one is on the courts. Which existing Supreme Court justices would you not have nominated?

    SEN. MCCAIN: With all due respect, Justice Ginsberg, Justice Breyer, Justice Souter, and Justice Stevens.

    REV. WARREN: Why? Tell me why.

    SEN. MCCAIN: Well, I think that the president of the United States has incredible responsibility in nominating people to the United States Supreme Court. They are lifetime positions -- as well as the federal bench. There will be two or maybe three vacancies.

    This nomination should be based on the criteria of proven record, of strictly adhering to the Constitution of the United States of America and not legislating from the bench. (Applause.) Some of the worst damage has been done by legislating from the bench. (Applause.) And, by the way, Justices Alito and Roberts are two of my most recent favorites, by the way. They really are. They're very fine. (Applause.) And I'm proud of President Bush for nominating them.

    REV. WARREN: All right, let's talk about the role of faith-based organizations. There was a recent poll that came out that said over 70 percent of Americans believe that faith-based organizations do a better job at community services --

    SEN. MCCAIN: Because Americans are right. (Laughs.)

    REV. WARREN: -- than the government. (Laughter.) You know, addictions, homelessness, poverty, all of these -- prisoner rehab, things like that. Now, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 allows religious organizations, not just churches but faith-based organizations, to keep and hire the people that they believe share common beliefs with.

    SEN. MCCAIN: Yes.

    REV. WARREN: Would you insist that faith-based organizations forfeit that right to access federal funds?

    SEN. MCCAIN: Absolutely not. And if you did, it would mean a severe crippling of faith-based organizations and their abilities to do the things that they have done so successfully.

    Life is full of anecdotes, and I'm sorry to tell you so many anecdotes, but I went to New Orleans after Katrina. The Resurrection Baptist Church was doing tremendous work with thousands of volunteers, I'm sure probably from here at Saddleback, coordinating the efforts of thousands of volunteers, including my own church, the North Phoenix Baptist Church, who came from all over America.

    And various authorities, off the record, told me off the record that they were doing so much more good than the government organizations; said it was incredible. And New Orleans could not have been on the path -- they've got a long way to go -- on the path to recovery if it hadn't been for the faith-based organizations, who are still operating in New Orleans, much to their great credit, thank God.

    REV. WARREN: First in, last out.

    SEN. MCCAIN: Yes. (Applause.)

    REV. WARREN: All right, let's talk about education. America ranks 19th in high school graduations, but we're first in incarcerations. Everybody says they want more accountability in schools. About 80 percent of America says they support merit pay for the best teachers. Now, I don't want to hear your stump speech on education.

    SEN. MCCAIN: Yes, yes, and find bad -- (laughter) -- find bad teachers another line of work. (Laughter, applause.)

    REV. WARREN: You know, we're going to end this -- you're answering so quickly.

    SEN. MCCAIN: Can I --

    REV. WARREN: Do you want to play a game of poker? (Laughter.)

    SEN. MCCAIN: Choice and competition, choice and competition, home schooling, charter schools, vouchers, all the choice and competition. (Applause.) I want -- look, I want every American family to have the same choice that Cindy and I made and Senator Obama and Mrs. Obama made as well, and that was, we wanted to send our children to the school of our choice. And charter schools work, my friends. Home schooling works. Vouchers in our nation's capital works. We've got thousands of people in Washington, D.C. that are applying for a voucher system. New York City is reforming.

    I go back to New Orleans. They were -- as we know, the tragedy devastated them. They now have over 30 charter schools in the city of New Orleans, and guess what -- it's all coming up. It's all coming up. It's a simple principle, but it's going to take dedicated men and women, particularly in the teaching profession, to make it happen.

    And by the way, here in -- I won't go any further. But the point is, it's all based and it's being proven that choice and competition for every American family. And it is the civil rights issue of the 21st century, because every citizen's child now has an opportunity go to school. But what kind of opportunity is it if you send them to a failing school? That's why we've got to give everybody the same opportunity and choice.

    REV. WARREN: Okay. All right, let's move on to --

    SEN. MCCAIN: You're sorry you mentioned that my answers were short, aren't you? (Laughter.)

    REV. WARREN: No, no, no. Actually, this is great, because I may actually get to ask you a couple of extra questions, which are good. They're the lightning bonus round, actually. (Laughter.)

    SEN. MCCAIN: (Makes buzzing sound.)

    REV. WARREN: Okay, on taxes, define "rich." Everybody talks about, you know, taxing the rich but not the poor, the middle class. At what point -- give me a number. Give me a specific number. Where do you move from middle class to rich? Is it $100,000? Is it $50,000? Is it $200,000? How does anybody know if we don't know what the standards are?

    SEN. MCCAIN: Some of the richest people I've ever known in my life are the most unhappy. I think that rich should be defined by a home, a good job, an education, and the ability to hand to our children a more prosperous and safer world than the one that we inherited.

    I don't want to take any money from the rich. I want everybody to get rich. (Laughter.) I don't believe in class warfare or redistribution of wealth. But I can tell you, for example, there are small businessmen and women who are working 16 hours a day, seven days a week, that some people would classify as, quote, "rich," my friends, and want to raise their taxes and want to raise their payroll taxes.

    Let's have -- keep taxes low. Let's give every family in America a $7,000 tax credit for every child they have. Let's give them a $5,000 refundable tax credit to go out and get the health insurance of their choice. Let's not have the government take over the health care system in America. (Applause.)

    So I think if you're just talking about income, how about $5 million? (Laughter.) So, no, but seriously, I don't think you can -- I don't think, seriously, that -- the point is that I'm trying to make here, seriously -- and I'm sure that comment will be distorted -- (laughter) -- but the point is, the point is, the point is that we want to keep people's taxes low and increase revenues.

    And my friend, it was not taxes that mattered in America in the last several years. It was spending. Spending got completely out of control. We spent money -- (applause) -- in a way that mortgaged our kids' future.

    My friend, we spent $3 million of your money to study the DNA of bears in Montana. (Laughter.) Now, I don't know if that was a paternity issue or a criminal issue. (Laughter.) But the point is, but the point is, it was $3 million of your money. It was your money.

    And, you know, we laugh about it, but we cry. And we should cry, because the Congress is supposed to be careful stewards of your tax dollars. So what did they just do in the middle of an energy crisis, when in California we're paying $4 a gallon for gas? Went on vacation for five weeks. I guarantee you, two things they never miss -- a pay raise and a vacation. And we should stop that and call them back -- (applause) -- and not raise your taxes. We should not and cannot raise taxes in tough economic times.

    So it doesn't matter, really, what my definition of "rich" is, because I don't want to raise anybody's taxes. I really don't. In fact, I want to give working Americans a better shot at having a better life. And we all know the challenges, my friends, if I could be serious.

    Americans tonight in California and all over America are sitting at the kitchen table, recently and suddenly lost a job, can't afford to stay in their home, education for their kids, affordable health care. These are tough problems. These are tough problems. You talk to them every day --

    REV. WARREN: All the time.

    SEN. MCCAIN: -- every day. My friends, we've got to give them hope and confidence in the future. That's what we need to give them. And I can inspire them. I can lead. And I know that our best days are ahead of us. (Applause.)

    REV. WARREN: All right, great. All right, thank you. Now, we've got a couple of minutes left in this section. Here's a security question. I didn't get to it with Senator Obama; we didn't have enough time. When is our right to privacy -- when our right to privacy and our right to national security collide, how do you decide what takes precedence?

    SEN. MCCAIN: It does collide. And there are always competing priorities. We must preserve the privacy of all of our citizens as much as possible because that's one of the fundamental and basic rights we have; and, by the way, including a secret ballot for union organizers, a secret ballot, not a ballot that someone comes around and signs you up. That's a different subject.

    But the point is that we have now had technological advances over the last 20 or 30 years in communications that are remarkable. It's remarkable the ability that our enemies have to communicate. So we have to keep up with that capability. I mean, there's too many ways, through cyberspace and through other ways, that people are able to communicate with one another.

    So we're going to have to step up our capabilities to monitor those. Sometimes there are calls from outside the United States, inside the United States. There's all kinds of communications of every different kind. So you need Congress to work together. You need a judiciary that will review these laws that we pass.

    And at the same time, it's just an example of our failure to sit down, Republican and Democrat, and work these things out together for the good of the nation's security instead of this constant fighting which, according to our Director of National Intelligence, until we finally reached an agreement not long ago, was compromising our ability to keep America from attack. And so there's a constant tension. It is changing with changes in technology, and we have to stay up with it.

    REV. WARREN: We'll be right back with Senator John McCain.


    REV. WARREN: Welcome back to Saddleback's Civil Forum on the Presidency, and we're here with Senator John McCain.

    John, these last questions are about America's responsibility to the world. We are, without a doubt, the most blessed nation in the world. We are blessed to be a blessing. And the Bible says to whom much is given, much has been required. So I want to talk about what is our stewardship to everybody else? And let's first talk about freedom and war.

    As an American, what is worth dying for and what's worth committing American lives for?

    SEN. MCCAIN: Freedom, our national security, our security as a nation. Wars have started in obscure places that have enveloped us. We also must temper that with the ability to effectively and beneficially cause the outcome that we want. In other words, there's tyranny and there's tragedy throughout the world. And we can't right every wrong, but we can do what America has done throughout our history, and that is be a beacon of hope and liberty and freedom for everyone in the world; as Ronald Reagan used to quote, a shining city on a hill.

    And so there are conflicts that we can't settle. The most precious asset we have is American blood. And throughout our history, Americans have gone to all four corners of the world and shed that blood in defense of someone else's freedom. No other nation on earth has ever done that. But we've also succeeded in other ways. We won the Cold War, as I mentioned earlier, without firing a shot, because of our ideology and that communism was wrong and evil. And we can defeat it, just as we can defeat radical Islamic extremism.

    Can we talk just a second about the latest in Georgia before --

    REV. WARREN: Let me ask you this. What would be the criteria for which you would commit troops to --

    SEN. MCCAIN: American national security interests are threatened.

    REV. WARREN: Okay, I understand that one. What about, like genocide in Darfur or if mass killings took place in Georgia?

    SEN. MCCAIN: Our obligation is to stop genocide wherever we can. We all know about Rwanda. No one knows that better than you and the Saddleback church, who have been so active. By the way, Cindy was just there with Mike Huckabee and Dr. Bill Frist and have seen what the women of Rwanda are doing. The women are taking charge of the future of Rwanda, because they're saying, "Never again." (Applause.) And they're doing an incredible job.

    Darfur, our most respected former secretary of State, Colin Powell, called genocide some years ago. The question is, how can we effectively stop it? And obviously we've got to do more and we've got to try to marshal the forces all over the world to join us.

    I think one of the things we ought to explore more carefully is us supplying the logistics and equipment and the aid, and the African countries step forward with the personnel to enforce a genuine cease- fire. It's a very complicated situation, as you know, but we've got to be committed to never saying "Never again" again.

    REV. WARREN: What about -- you know, you're seeing Russia reassert itself in Georgia, and maybe now Poland. What's happening?

    SEN. MCCAIN: I'm very saddened here to be with you and talk about a Russian re-emergence in the centuries-old ambition of the Russian empire to dominate that part of the world -- killings, murder. Villages are being burned. People are being wantonly ejected from their homes. The latest figures from a human rights organization is 118,000 people in that small country. It was one of the earliest Christian nations. The king of then-Georgia in the third century converted to Christianity. You go to Georgia and you see these old churches that go back to the 4th and 5th century.

    My friends, the president, the president, Saakashvili, is a man who was educated in the United States of America on a scholarship. He went back to Georgia, and with other young people who had also received an education, they achieved a revolution. They had democracy, prosperity and a great little nation.

    And now the Russians are coming in there in an act of aggression. And we have to not only bring about cease-fire, but we have to have honored one of the most fundamental rights of any nation, and that is territorial integrity. We must respect the entire territory of Russia -- excuse me -- the Russians must respect the entire territorial integrity of Georgia. And there's only 4 million people in Georgia, my friends. I've been there. It's a beautiful little country. They're wonderful people. They're suffering terribly now.

    And there's two other aspects of this, very quickly. One of them: Don't think it was an accident that the presidents of Lithuania -- the presidents (of) Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland and Ukraine flew to Tbilisi to show their solidarity with the president of Georgia, because they all have something in common with Georgia. They lived under Russian domination for a long period of time.

    Second of all, of course, it's about energy. There's an oil pipeline that goes across Georgia that, up till now, had not been controlled by the Russians; and my friend, energy the Russians are using as a tremendous lever against the Europeans.

    So keep them in your prayers. Let's get the humanitarian aid as quickly as possible to them and send the message to the Russians that this behavior is not acceptable in the 21st century. (Applause.


    REV. WARREN: Related to that, America's responsibility in the world -- religious persecution. What would you do in your administration to end -- to put pressure on the Chinese, in Iraq and all the other places, so-called allies of ours, that will allow -- will not allow religious freedom, whether it's Christian or any other faith?

    SEN. MCCAIN: The president of the United States, his greatest asset is the bully pulpit. The president of the United States -- and I go back again to Ronald Reagan; he went to the Berlin Wall and said, "Take down this wall," called them an evil empire. Many said, "Don't antagonize the Russians. Don't cause a confrontation with the Soviet Union." He stood for what he believed and he said what he believed, and he said to those people who were then captive nations, "The day will come when you will know freedom and democracy and the fundamental rights of man."

    Our Judeo-Christian principles dictate that we do what we can to help people who are oppressed throughout the world. And I'd like to tell you that I still think that even in the worst places in the world today, in the darkest corners, little countries like Belarus, they still harbor this hope and dream someday to be like us and have freedom and democracy.

    And we have our flaws and we have our failings, and we talk about them all the time, and we should. But we remain, my friends, the most unusual experiment in history. And I'm privileged to spend every day of my life in it. I know what it's like to be without it. (Applause.)

    REV. WARREN: John, most people don't know that there are 148 million orphans in the world growing up without parents. What should we do about this? And would you be willing to consider or even commit to something similar to the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS, which he said AIDS is an emergency, a PEPFAR. Could we do a PEPFAR for the emergency plan for 148 million orphans? Most of these -- they don't need to grow up in orphanages. They need to be in families. And many of those families could take them if they had some kind of assistance.

    SEN. MCCAIN: Well, I think we have to make adoption a lot easier in this country. That's why so many people go to other countries -- (applause) -- to get to be able to adopt children. My great hero and role model, Teddy Roosevelt, was the first modern American president to talk about adoption and how important it was.

    And I promise you, this is my last story. (Laughter.) Seventeen years ago, Cindy was in Dacca, Bangladesh. She went to Mother Teresa's orphanage. The nuns brought her two little babies who were not going to live. Cindy came home. I met her at the airplane. She showed me this five-week-old baby and said, "Meet your new daughter." She's 17, and my life is blessed. And that's what adoption is all about. (Applause.)

    REV. WARREN: All right, you've got one minute to answer this one, and that is, why do you want to be president?

    SEN. MCCAIN: I want to inspire a generation of Americans to serve a cause greater than their self-interest. I believe that America's best days are ahead of us. But I also believe that we face enormous challenges, both national security and domestic, as we have found out in the last few days in the case of Georgia.

    And I want to be -- make sure that everybody understands that this is a time for us to come together. Throughout my life, from the time I was 17 and raised my hand and was sworn in as a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy, I've always put my country first. I put my country first when I had the honor of serving in the military, and I had the honor of putting my country first as a member of the House of Representatives and then the United States Senate.

    America wants hope. America wants optimism. America wants us to sit down together. I have a record of reaching across the aisle and working with the other party. And I want to do that. And I believe, as I said, that Americans feel it's time for us to put our country first. And we may disagree on a specific issue, and I won't (review ?) them now -- (laughter) -- but I want every American to know that when I go to Gee's Bend, Alabama and meet the African-American women there who are so wonderful and lovely, in an experience I'll never forget, and when I go to places where I know they probably won't vote for me, I know that my job is to tell them that I'll be the president of every American and I'll always put my country first. (Applause.)

    REV. WARREN: Thank you.

    All right, 20 seconds left. What would you say to people who opposed me asking you these questions in a church?

    SEN. MCCAIN: I say to them that I'd like to be in every venue in America. This is an important -- this is a very important election. Our nation was founded on Judeo-Christian values and principles. I'm happy to be here in a church. (Applause.) I'm happy to be here in a place that, with your program, such as peace, such as your help throughout the world, such as your outreach to so many thousands of Americans, I'm honored to be here. And I thank you.

    REV. WARREN: Would you stand and welcome -- thank Senator John McCain. (Cheers, applause.)

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