Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Bernadette - Sweet Kitty Girl

Our dear sweet companion Bernadette passed away over the holidays. I've been putting off writing this tribute to her because of the flu. However, I can not wait another second what a sweet, sweet, sweet kitty Bernadette was. Since her passing the house is thick with her energy. She did not want to leave and we hated to see her go. Like her sister Sylvia (from the same litter) Bernadette suffered Chronic Renal Failure. I would stress to all animal lovers to research this disease now before it is too late. Apparently the phosphorus content in even some of the higher end foods is too much for the Kidney's to sustain over a long life time for both cats and dogs. Sylvia bowed out after fifteen years. Bernadette's body gave out after seventeen years.

We miss her terribly. She was such a comfort kitty. She followed the sun from one side of the house to the other, an open window was always occupied. She loved being brushed and of course the comfy blankets at the foot of the bed were home. While both kittens slept on my chest Bernadette soon found out that if she positioned herself just so by my hand I could scratch her under her chin and pet her all night. Her tail would drape over my arm and go back and forth out of reach and then back around my arm. She and Sylvia would hop up on bed with me one under each arm. Sylvia was on the left side and Bernadette the right side.

She was such a big sister to Sylvia that even after Sylvia died Bernadette would pause still standing or sitting and wait for Sylvia to hop up on the bed before curling up to take her place next to me. It was as if she was waiting for Sylvia to magically appear. After all of fifteen years she knew Sylvia was missing but still paused thinking maybe tonight would be the night she returned to us. The actual time Bernadette would wait for Sylvia diminished from long and horribly sad to barely a noticeable moment. But even the last time she hopped up to doze off with me she still paused a moment to look for Sylvia before curling up. Even to the point where I commented to her,"still looking for your sister," it was one of those things.

Coming back from a brief Christmas road trip we found Bernadette in the closet, sad and confused and wobbly. She came down stairs with us and absolutely showed no interest in food, looked out the sliding glass door one last time and then went behind the couch. We were mortified but she rallied and hopped up on the coffee table imploring us to sit on the couch. So I quick got into my seat, flipped on the tube and she snuggled up in between my wife and I and purred for three hours. We spent a lot of time together on that sofa. It would be her last visit to the first floor.

Without going into the horribly sad and heart wrenching details I set up throw pillows in the closet and slept with her for two nights. She wasn't moving around much and certainly not jumping up on the bed anymore. We all said goodbye to each other a hundred times and her little squeaks and sighs just devastated us. Like a trooper she struggled down the hall to sleep with me that final night. I knew it was way past time for her to let go and collected my things out of the closet. Our animal companions do like to crawl off alone so I wanted to give her that space but still she followed me to the bedroom.

In the morning I expected to find her under the bed expired, but she was still hanging on. This time I found her in the spare bedroom she had made her own over the years. Bernadette did not want to die. She loved us and we loved her. Never did I pass her in the hall without loving her. We always sing song called her name when returning home or going from floor to floor. She always was at my feet by the computer rubbing up against the sharp corners of some working binders or in the window catching fresh air while listening to the birds.

She was a wonderful chow hound who always stood on her back legs for dinner. Her name came from the Classic Four Tops Song Bernadette. I just knew I was going to name a pet after that song. I love those lyrics and they fit Bernadette to a tee.

She was the original crumpled up paper kitty. In the process of transcribing my manuscript for Journey Home from paper to digital I crumbled up the finished handwritten story and would toss them one page at a time. Forget the cat toys a piece of crumbled up legal pad paper was all Bernadette needed. That paper would crumple and her head would rise on alert, and she would bat that thing around from on side of the room to the other. It was how we finally found her collapsed on top of and between several pieces of crumpled up paper. It was the last noise she ever heard before leaving her earth bound body fittingly so I suppose.

Such a sweet kitty she would lick our hands if we took a pause from petting her and laid our hand to rest. She would put her paw out to hold your hand down and then lick the back of your hand. She would also groom her sister around the ears until Sylvia had enough, and she would kiss you on the lips. That's right a little smoochy sound and she would put her nose to your lips. Dad likes tuna too but it became a life long habit no matter if we had eaten or not.

Whether curled up under the Christmas tree or on the arm of the sofa Bernadette was just as sweet as she could be. She fought like a champion to stay with us and would let out these heart wrenching sighs while being petted she knew the end was coming and inevitable. Watching her struggle down the hall to join me in the bedroom crushed my poor wife's heart. That she died quietly, peacefully in her room, in her comfort zone was the least we could do for her.

Through thick and thin over seventeen years Bernadette was always there. We are not running out and getting new pets. That is too much like changing light bulbs for us. We are going to honor her memory and took all of the left over food, and pet carriers to the local no kill shelter (Hope for Life Rescue). We are sad but glad Sylvia and Bernadette are back together. And we are calling on our friends and family who have gone before to look out for them. Something has already told us they are and the house is thick with their energy. Love knows no bounds and even if we don't get that day to day and with each other our animal friends are here to remind us...Who doesn't love a god that makes kitty cats?

Sylvia's Tribute

Monday, December 22, 2008

Richard Julian

I'm not up on all the latest music so something has to cross my path in an odd way for me to discover anything new. Who knows or cares what's going on in the world of pop music? However, every now and then I stumble into something I just have to share. Richard Julina's 2008 release "Sunday Morning in Saturday's Shoes" is a knockout variety of sound and lyric that will lift your spirits. Smart, smart, smart is the way I describe this guitar playing, song writer. A mix of folk and jazz with humor and melancholy, wonderful tempo and lyrics strung together in a mosaic that hides their complexity in seemingly simple syncopation.

His guitar playing is top notch but it's not a session of hot licks for the sake of hot licks. The man is building song structures, weaving, and fading, culminating and dissolving with his band featuring upright bass, piano and percussion. A Blue Note record group project more than worthy of that labels pedigree.

Great themes abound as songs about life run from the personal to the Syndicated. Spring is indeed just around the corner. If you get a chance on December 24th - Richard Julian will be making an appearance on SPECTACLE: ELVIS COSTELLO's show on the Sundance channel at 9pm. James Taylor will be the featured guest. This is the kind of music worthy of our attention and hard earned dollars. Richard get on down to Virginia Beach. I'll be the first in line. This is an awesome, awesome talent, and a great disc for both Jazz, Folk and singer songwriter fans. I can not overstate it and will be searching out his earlier catalog.

Author-Journey Home

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ascension by Phoenix Rising - Music Review

From out by the Pacific coast comes Ascension by Phoenix Rising a calm, ethereal album of meditative music that combines piano and flute along with several other instruments including cello, tabla, hang drum, guitar, goat hooves (shakers from Bolivia), voice and something called a guzheng a Chinese dulcimer of sorts.

Ascension creates an ambient, relaxing, peaceful listening experience. Think of Sunday morning with a fresh brew of coffee and the morning paper or good book. With song titles like seed, creation, nourishment, heartstrings, unspoken, insight and ascension you get the idea that we are reaching here for another place in time and space. It is always nice when performers reach for something beyond self and deliver to the audience something that lifts them out of their immediate concerns.

Ascension has a real sense of poetry and melancholy. Listening to this CD on a quiet, rainy day like this morning has enhanced that feeling. It's soft pace reminded me of the quieter offerings from the band "Ancient Future". The Cello is a nice touch and overall this is a calm, thoughtful, meditative, and harmonious listening experience. There are definitely Native American influences throughout and I look forward to adding Ascension to my music collection.

Relax, enjoy and support independent music. You can visit their web sites by clicking on the link above or the ones below. Congratulations on a fine effort.

Author-Journey Home

Wendy Loomis - Piano
Monica Williams - Flute

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

American's United for Separation of Church and State

This is a repost from American's United for Separation of Church and State. I thought it was excellent!
December 9, 2008

Religious Right Stirs Up Strife In Season Of Peace, Americans United Charges

Watchdog Group Appeals To Americans To Reject Religious Right’s Divisive ‘War On Christmas’ Rhetoric

Americans United for Separation of Church and State today called on Religious Right leaders and their allies in the media to stop using Christmas as a vehicle for divisiveness.

As in years past, Religious Right groups are using the Christmas holiday to divide Americans and stir up animosity by falsely claiming that there is a “war on Christmas.” Americans United said it is ironic to see these groups using a season dedicated to peace and understanding to foster conflict.

“The best holiday present we could get this year would be for the Religious Right to stop using Christmas as a club to bash others,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “The Religious Right is making a mockery of the season with a litany of stunts cheaper than dollar-store wrapping paper.”

An example, Lynn said, is an ongoing controversy in Washington state, where government officials have allowed an atheist group to display a sign promoting non-belief near a Nativity scene in the Legislative Building in Olympia. Local Religious Right leaders and their allies in the media have attacked Gov. Christine Gregoire on the issue.

Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly has repeatedly blasted Gregoire on the air and did so again this week in a column distributed nationwide but O’Reilly is omitting key facts. Gregoire is merely following the law. Courts have ruled repeatedly that if religious groups are given access to government facilities to erect private displays, non-religious groups must be given the same right.

In fact, AU noted, Washington’s policy is in place because a Religious Right legal group, the Alliance Defense Fund, sued the state in 2006 on behalf of a resident who wanted to erect a Nativity scene in the building. That right must now be extended to other groups and individuals.

As the holiday season moves forward, AU asked Americans to keep in mind the following:

* It is not the job of government to promote religion: Christmas has both secular and religious aspects. Governments at all levels are constitutionally barred from promoting religion. People who want a religious experience at Christmas time would do better to go to a house of worship, not city hall.
* Private groups may be permitted to display religious symbols on government property if the property in question is a public forum but that means all groups must be given the same access: The Supreme Court has ruled that private citizens and groups can display religious symbols in areas deemed “public forums.” But this right must be granted to other groups as well, religious and non-religious. The government cannot discriminate against groups just because some people might find their message offensive.
* American society is diverse, and we should strive to get along. Religious pluralism has exploded in America. We have Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhist, Hindus, Wiccans, non-believers and others among our ranks. Christmas ought to be a time for building bridges of understanding. The Religious Right’s divisive campaign and attempt to take rights away from certain groups is counter to American diversity and our constitutional order.

“‘Peace on Earth’ should be more than just a slogan,” Lynn said. “But we’ll never get there if we continue to allow Religious Right groups to exploit Christmas for their own ends. I urge the American people to reject this mean-spirited campaign.”

* * * *

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Kennedy Assassination

This event - the assassination of JFK has always been with me. On my birthday every year I share this event. I've posted a simple video of the secret service standing down on the front page of my myspace site - one poster claims Kennedy ordered the stand down - well then why is the agent so confused. They would have had advanced knowledge of that not so insignificant order, and would Kennedy order a stand down just for the turn into the plaza. No it's sad to say that this man was blown away by a domestic plot. Not believing in Arlen Specters ridiculous single bullet theory or the Warren Report doesn't make you un-American or a threat to this country. In fact demanding the truth is very American. Here are three video clips of Jim Garrison himself. He doesn't strike me as a whack job. In fact he is articulate and obviously educated. In his own words I find it fascinating. You can get swallowed up by the Kennedy Assassination and that of his brother but I think a picture is worth a thousand words. That secret service agent shrugging on the stand down clip in disgust say's it all.

I hope the powers that be having destroyed our economy, environment, and reputation in the world realize that if we want to be great as a country, and as a people then we have to be great as individuals.

All of us have to excel at truth, education and effort in our personal lives. That the seduction of power leads to corruption. That the abandonment of the core principles that are the utmost value in our souls and mind compromise the very chance of living a decent life, and result in utter and complete defeat of dignity, reputation, excellence and the fulfillment of our dreams as varied as they might be. We know the difference between right and wrong and when we ignore that knowledge and act in direct opposition to it only disaster, and ashes will be the fruit of our labor.

Author- Journey Home
Here are the Garrison Clips - the secret service standing down clip is on the front of the Journey Home MySpace page on the the left hand side.

Here are the Garrison Clips - the secret service standing down clip is on the front of the Journey Home MySpace page on the the left hand side.

The World of Malcolm Gladwell - Reply

The Dumb, Dumb, World of Malcolm Gladwell - Reply

Andrew Orlowski wrote the article linked in the title of this posting. Not knowing Malcolm Galdwell or even reading any of his books I thought I could reply to Andrew's article unbiased, and answer his question, "how can we explain the demand."

Here is the quote that sends Andrew over the edge, "...In embracing the diversity of human beings we will find the true way to human happiness."

Although Andrew dismisses that comment as a "hallmark" greeting card he forgets a bit of stark, dark, unfortunate reality. Here is my response to Andrews article


"...In embracing the diversity of human beings we will find the true way to human happiness."

Andrew, unfortunately not everybody believes or accepts that “hallmark” remark that you dismiss as an obvious truth – a known – known - if you will. There are people who are dying, killing not only themselves but others for the “sameness” of religion, of politics, of behavior, of thought, of financial systems, of lifestyles and behavior. In fact across the board people fear different behavior, ideas, and attitudes and a vast majority never thinking for themselves, blindly accepting, and assuming, go along to get along in choosing their ideas, loves, identities and behavior, to the point of mimicking the behavior, dress and even dialogue of celebrities, personalities and talking heads. They spew back in casual conversation the talking points of the evening news, radio broadcasts, and papers regurgitating political spin.

47% of the voters in the U.S. voted for McCain and Palin – does that not speak to the lack of awareness about the inherent good in diversity - wanting only to “drill baby drill” to find future energy sources…unwilling to embrace diverse ideas (wind, solar thermal, geothermal...etc)? I would put to you Andrew that the guy with the fro I’m only now just learning about him (Malcolm Gladwell) is speaking perhaps a known and respected truth to some, but hardly a known and respected truth understood by all. That the stating of what may seem obvious needs to be preached outside of the choir, but the choir confronted with the violence and outright, unfounded, hatred that is resistant to diversity and unaware of it’s benefits - from Dick Cheney to the Taliban – would like to hear it again, and again. Hoping that those so fearful of diversity and “other cultures” and those who rejoice in the sameness of it all, as comforting instead of stifling come to realize the full magnitude and beauty of diversity and the cornucopia of life in all its many forms and ways.

Being a contrarian only takes you so far. Someday when respect is finally paid to "different" perhaps we will finally live in balance and harmony within our environment, upon our earth and with each other. Until then let the dude in the wild fro speak and others as well who would carry a message of understanding and acceptance other than fear and hate and violence.

Good for us who understand variety is the spice of life. The more who speak to that theme will hopefully accelerate the acceptance of the misunderstood, the different and rejoice in our own individual ways the existence of not more of the same but the variety, and the "different", of art, culture, music, style, fashion, thought, belief, word, deed, and creation in all its infinite variety and glory. Perhaps then consciousness will one day float effortlessly upon this planet in harmony.

Until then destruction, war, greed, hatred and violence is perpetuated by those who fear diversity in thought, word and deed, contrary to the fact that immense diversity surrounds us all in every way and in every day throughout our lives and mutual existence across the globe and where we live. Diversity makes us richer, and fulfills us in ways unimaginable to the sameness of it all. Rent the movie Pleasantville for a fun refresher course.

Just because an idea is simple to state doesn’t make it any less profound, true or worth repeating. Good for those unafraid by the politics, fashion or time of man who speak out the universal truths that obviously we don’t all embrace. Don't resent the Gladwells of the world when they find an audience desperate in the shrill of intolerance. That there is an an audience - "a demand" - in a world of humans waging war and killing each other for money, power, and greed that perpetuates fear as a tool of manipulation is more than understandable.

The only thing to fear is fear and the only thing to hate is hate - simple, true and worth repeating.


Author-Journey Home

Monday, November 17, 2008

Spiritual Enlightenment Double Take

If you can start the day without caffeine, if you can get along without pep pills, if you can always be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains...

If you can get excited and cheerful when seeing your loved ones after a small absence, as if it were the very first time you set eyes upon them in ages...

If your love for man does not erode with habit and time but always remain steadfastly the same, no matter how little or bad attention you are getting...

If you can accept verbal and physical abuse without automatic resentment, desire for revenge, and the need to show your inborn physical power and ability to inflict harm...

If you do not need to be proven "right" and others "wrong."
If you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles...

If you can eat the same food every day and be grateful for it...

If you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time...

If you can overlook it when those you love take it out on you when, through no fault of yours, something goes wrong...

If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,

If you can ignore a friend's limited education and never correct him...

If you can resist treating a rich friend better than a poor friend,

If you cannot stand fear-thoughts addressed at you by others, and only relate to love...

If you only read the intention and heart of man and not his external appearance,

If you can face the world without lies and deceit, always expressing your true feelings,

If you can always jump and get excited at the fragrance, beauty and eternal energy bestowed by the natural world...

If you would even forgo your life away without a moment of doubt in the name of Love...

If you realize that you are here to protect and guard the integrity and security of all your extended family...

If you accept death and dying as a natural cycle of Eternity,

If you can conquer tension without medical help,

If you can relax without liquor,

If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,

If you can honestly say that deep in your heart you have no prejudice against creed, color, religion or politics...

Then my dear friends you will have approached the level of spiritual development of your dog.

(thanks Brooke for forwarding that)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Proposition 8 - The False Security of the Status Quo

It always seemed to me that the people most freaked out about homosexuals felt vulnerable about their own lifestyle in some way. As if gay people as a whole affected other peoples lives in a negative way. Perhaps a gay lifestyle calls into question the readily accepted values of the status quo? I've always wondered why the status quo if they are so sure about what it is that they are about then why are they so alarmed about people living outside of their box?

Paul Newman said once and I think it was pretty astute that when people see someone who is truly free it freaks the heck out of them. Maybe Newman was quoting Ken Kesey but it's still an interesting thought worthy of more contemplation and I would not be too dismissive.

In the long run most people realize and accept that it's not a one size fits all world. In fact it's a world of infinite variety and variation. Any amount of independent observation will show you that, and even people come in all manner of shapes sizes and colors. If you see someone doing something different than you it is not a repudiation of your choices because you arrived at your own choices through your own set of circumstances and surroundings.

To the extent that people feel threatened by other cultures, beliefs and lifestyles most likely coincides with how readily they accepted or failed to ponder their "accepted" modes of behavior.

At the end of the day gay people don't hurt anybody. What's the big deal a couple of lesbians holding hands - so what - if you look past the surface you have two people that are there for each other. In a world full of lonely, frustrated, isolated and depressed people most who rely on drugs (prescribed or other wise) and alcohol, that's a good thing. Why would anyone object to someone else's happiness?

Live and let live...do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

If you are not living your life by those two codes - no matter how you dress, or where you worship, or how you vote, or what flag you salute - you are the one doing the wrong thing.

Monday, November 03, 2008

No Change McCain

In a last ditch effort John McCain's latest strategy is to whitewash his horrible deceitful image with chummy appearances on Saturday Night Live. Go sell your snake oil elsewhere you are a fraud. McCain has taken a huge amount of money from the oil industry. If elected the future will again be put on hold for another four years. With his recurring bouts with melanoma and the stress of the job, his Machiavellian pick for VP would run roughshod over him. I am repulsed beyond belief by John McCain's tactics, choice for VP and whole sale sell out to the very people who accused him of having a baby out of wedlock. Lets not even talk about his ice queen wife as first lady. I have zero respect for that gang and this noun & verb and I was a POW candidate. I have zero respect for the complete sellout he is and zero hope that he would have the vision or political will power to unleash the green economy, and the jobs that would bring. A vote for McCain is a vote for more tax dollars going to Exxon/Mobil don't worry the price of gasoline will go up right after the election is over.

A vote for McCain leaves the Petro-dictators in charge and that isn't good for you or me or the rest of the middle class, America and the World.

The Real McCain Videos
McCain & Oil

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


I'm not on the cutting edge - never have been never will be. Heck I'm middle age so I have no idea what is hip, popular or the latest. I do not own an ipod and my cell phone is in my glove compartment. All that being said I still have a voice and a heart and a soul and the most important a mind of my own. No one has to tell me I'll make up my own mind and I don't care if some disagree. The film ONCE is by far the best movie I have seen in a long time and the music a soulful revelation.

Well of course I loved it all. Being a struggling artist, trying to get the word out about my novel and playing guitar in a small coffee shop how could I not relate? I just love movies without guns and chase scenes and all the trifling hollywood prattle that is mass marketed to our lowest common denominator.

Marketa Irglova is a gem of a human being fortunately not from this country she won't get what is herself polished off for mass marketing. Make art for art's sake yes indeed. There is a huge population of people across the globe that haven't sold out. There is a huge amount of humanity out there with integrity, vision, wonderment, and in awe of our beautiful lives and our beautiful planet. It's bloody brilliant and those that do not see it, refuse to see it or have taken the cheap easy way out live lives debased of harmony, infatuation, ecstasy, real joy, and fulfillment.

ONCE is a movie that defines our bitter sweet reality and holds it up as even more satisfying than sweet alone. It takes all the pieces of the puzzle to make a life worth living. Intelligence, compassion, beauty are for the strong. The weak cheat, kill and lie and take the easiest quickest path to an unaware, unenlightened, unfulfilled life. I love smart, I love integrity, I love beauty and I love this planet and its people, animals and all of creation. I hate - hate. All of these thoughts and beauty and love and a heightened sense of awareness kindled by art, music and the written word, and the people behind the creativity it is a joy of unrelenting happiness, a source of unending beauty, an awakening of never ending awareness of life and all it should be as in and through the very act of creation and the witnessing of and breathing in deeply of that creation.

The movie was that good!

Here are the artist links, sound tracks and recommended listening. Loose yourself in it to find yourself where you have always been except when overly swayed by desire and fear too far from the center of being and the well spring of creation.

Author - Journey Home
Marketa Irglova Oscar Acceptance Speech

Glen Hansard
Glen Hansard The Frames
The Swell Season

Friday, October 10, 2008

Senator John McCain’s Record on Troop and Veterans’ Issues

This information is being passed onto you from VoteVets.org

Voting Against Veterans

· Veterans Groups Give McCain Failing Grades. In its most recent legislative ratings, the non-partisan Disabled American Veterans gave Sen. McCain a 20 percent rating for his voting record on veterans’ issues. Similarly, the non-partisan Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America gave McCain a "D" grade for his poor voting record on veterans’ issues, including McCain’s votes against additional body armor for troops in combat and additional funding for PTSD and TBI screening and treatment.

· McCain Voted Against Increased Funding for Veterans’ Health Care. Although McCain told voters at a campaign rally that improving veterans’ health care was his top domestic priority, he voted against increasing funding for veterans’ health care in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007. (Greenville News, 12/12/2007; S.Amdt. 2745 to S.C.R. 95, Vote 40, 3/10/04; Senate S.C.R. 18, Vote 55, 3/16/05; S.Amdt. 3007 to S.C.R. 83, Vote 41, 3/14/06; H.R. 1591, Vote 126, 3/29/07)

· McCain Voted At Least 28 Times Against Veterans’ Benefits, Including Healthcare. Since arriving in the U.S. Senate in 1987, McCain has voted at least 28 times against ensuring important benefits for America’s veterans, including providing adequate healthcare. (2006 Senate Vote #7, 41, 63, 67, 98, 222; 2005 Senate Votes #55, 89, 90, 251, 343; 2004 Senate Votes #40, 48, 145; 2003 Senate Votes #74, 81, 83; 1999 Senate Vote #328; 1998 Senate Vote #175; 1997 Senate Vote #168; 1996 Senate Votes #115, 275; 1995 Senate Votes #76, 226, 466; 1994 Senate Vote #306; 1992 Senate Vote #194; 1991 Senate Vote #259)

· McCain Voted Against Providing Automatic Cost-of-Living Adjustments to Veterans. McCain voted against providing automatic annual cost-of-living adjustments for certain veterans’ benefits. (S. 869, Vote 259, 11/20/91)

· McCain Voted to Underfund Department of Veterans Affairs. McCain voted for an appropriations bill that underfunded the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development by $8.9 billion. (H.R. 2099, Vote 470, 9/27/95)

· McCain Voted Against a $13 Billion Increase in Funding for Veterans Programs. McCain voted against an amendment to increase spending on veterans programs by $13 billion. (S.C.R. 57, Vote 115, 5/16/96)

· McCain Voted Against $44.3 Billion for Veterans Programs. McCain was one of five senators to vote against a bill providing $44.3 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs, plus funding for other federal agencies. (H.R. 2684, Vote 328, 10/15/99)

· McCain Voted Against $47 Billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs. McCain was one of eight senators to vote against a bill that provided $47 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs. (H.R. 4635, Vote 272, 10/12/00)

· McCain Voted Against $51 Billion in Veterans Funding. McCain was one of five senators to vote against the bill and seven to vote against the conference report that provided $51.1 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as funding for the federal housing, environmental and emergency management agencies and NASA. (H.R. 2620, Vote 334, 11/8/01; Vote 269, 8/2/01)

· McCain Voted Against $122.7 Billion for Department of Veterans Affairs. McCain voted against an appropriations bill that included $122.7 billion in fiscal 2004 for the Department of Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development and other related agencies. (H.R. 2861, Vote 449, 11/12/03)

· McCain Opposed $500 Million for Counseling Services for Veterans with Mental Disorders. McCain voted against an amendment to appropriate $500 million annually from 2006-2010 for counseling, mental health and rehabilitation services for veterans diagnosed with mental illness, posttraumatic stress disorder or substance abuse. (S. 2020, S.Amdt. 2634, Vote 343, 11/17/05)

· McCain opposed an Assured Funding Stream for Veterans’ Health Care. McCain opposed providing an assured funding stream for veterans’ health care, taking into account annual changes in veterans’ population and inflation. (S.Amdt. 3141 to S.C.R. 83, Vote 63, 3/16/06)

· McCain Voted Against Adding More Than $400 Million for Veterans’ Care. McCain was one of 13 Republicans to vote against providing an additional $430 million to the Department of Veterans Affairs for outpatient care and treatment for veterans. (S.Amdt. 3642 to H.R. 4939, Vote 98, 4/26/06)

· McCain Supported Outsourcing VA Jobs. McCain opposed an amendment that would have prevented the Department of Veterans Affairs from outsourcing jobs, many held by blue-collar veterans, without first giving the workers a chance to compete. (S.Amdt. 2673 to H.R. 2642, Vote 315, 9/6/07)

· McCain Opposed the 21st Century GI Bill Because It Was Too Generous. McCain did not vote on the GI Bill that will provide better educational opportunities to veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, paying full tuition at in-state schools and living expenses for those who have served at least three years since the 9/11 attacks. McCain said he opposes the bill because he thinks the generous benefits would "encourage more people to leave the military." (S.Amdt. 4803 to H.R. 2642, Vote 137, 5/22/08; Chattanooga Times Free Press, 6/2/08; Boston Globe, 5/23/08; ABCNews.com, 5/26/08)

· Disabled American Veterans Legislative Director Said That McCain’s Proposal Would Increase Costs For Veterans Because His Plan Relies On Private Hospitals Which Are More Expensive and Which Could Also Lead To Further Rationing Of Care. "To help veterans who live far from VA hospitals or need specialized care the VA can’t provide, McCain proposed giving low-income veterans and those who incurred injury during their service a card they could use at private hospitals. The proposal is not an attempt to privatize the VA, as critics have alleged, but rather, an effort to improve care and access to it, he said. Joe Violanti, legislative director of the Disabled American Veterans, a nonpartisan organization, said the proposal would increase costs because private hospitals are more expensive. The increased cost could lead to further rationing of care, he said." (Las Vegas Sun, 8/10/08)

Lack of Support for the Troops

· McCain co-sponsored the Use of Force Authorization. McCain supported the bill that gave President George W. Bush the green light--and a blank check--for going to war with Iraq. (SJ Res 46, 10/3/02)

· McCain Opposed Increasing Spending on TRICARE and Giving Greater Access to National Guard and Reservists. Although his campaign website devotes a large section to veterans issues, including expanding benefits for reservists and members of the National Guard, McCain voted against increasing spending on the TRICARE program by $20.3 billion over 10 years to give members of the National Guard and Reserves and their families greater access to the health care program. The increase would be offset by a reduction in tax cuts for the wealthy. (S.Amdt. 324 to S.C.R. 23, Vote 81, 3/25/03)

· McCain voted against holding Bush accountable for his actions in the war. McCain opposed the creation of an independent commission to investigate the development and use of intelligence leading up to the war in Iraq. (S.Amdt. 1275 to H.R. 2658, Vote 284, 7/16/03)

· McCain voted Against Establishing a $1 Billion Trust Fund for Military Health Facilities. McCain voted against establishing a $1 billion trust fund to improve military health facilities by refusing to repeal tax cuts for those making more than $1 million a year. (S.Amdt. 2735 to S.Amdt. 2707 to H.R. 4297, Vote 7, 2/2/06)

· Senator McCain opposed efforts to end the overextension of the military--a policy that is having a devastating impact on our troops. McCain voted against requiring mandatory minimum downtime between tours of duty for troops serving in Iraq. (S.Amdt.. 2909 to S.Amdt. 2011 to HR 1585, Vote 341, 9/19/07; S.Amdt. 2012 to S.Amdt. 2011 to HR 1585, Vote 241, 7/11/07)

· McCain announced his willingness to keep U.S. troops in Iraq for decades--a statement sure to inflame Iraqis and endanger American troops. McCain: "Make it a hundred" years in Iraq and "that would be fine with me." (Derry, New Hampshire Town Hall meeting, 1/3/08)

· McCain voted against a ban on waterboarding--a form of torture--in a move that could eventually endanger American troops. According to ThinkProgress, "the Senate brought the Intelligence Authorization Bill to the floor, which contained a provision from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) establishing one interrogation standard across the government. The bill requires the intelligence community to abide by the same standards as articulated in the Army Field Manual and bans waterboarding." McCain voted against the bill. (H.R. 2082, Vote 22, 2/13/08)

· McCain Also Supported Outsourcing at Walter Reed. McCain opposed an amendment to prevent the outsourcing of 350 federal employee jobs at Walter Reed Army Medical Center--outsourcing that contributed to the scandalous treatment of veterans at Walter Reed that McCain called a "disgrace." (S.Amdt. 4895 to H.R. 5631, Vote 234, 9/6/06; Speech to VFW in Kansas City, Mo., 4/4/08)

· Senator McCain has consistently opposed any plan to withdraw troops from Iraq--a policy that has directly weakened American efforts in Afghanistan. Senator McCain repeatedly voted against a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq. (S.Amdt. 3876 to S.Amdt. 3874 to H.R. 2764, Vote #438, 12/18/07; S.Amdt. 3875 to S.Amdt. 3874 to H.R. 2764, Vote #437, 12/18/07; S.Amdt.3164 to H.R. 3222, Vote #362, 10/3/07; S.Amdt. 2898 to S. Amdt. 2011 to H.R. 1585, Vote #346, 9/21/07; S. Amdt. 2924 to S.Amdt. 2011 to H.R.1585, Vote #345, 9/21/07; S.Amdt.2 087 to S.Amdt. 2011 to H.R. 1585, Vote #252, 7/18/07; S.Amdt. 643 to H.R. 1591, Vote #116, 3/27/07; S.Amdt. 4320 to S. 2766, Vote #182, 6/22/06; S.Amdt. 4442 to S. 2766, Vote #181, 6/22/06; S.Amdt. 2519 to S.1042, Vote #322, 11/15/05)

· McCain said it’s "not too important" when U.S. troops leave Iraq. This exchange occurred on NBC’s Today Show with Matt Lauer:

LAUER: If it's working, senator, do you now have a better estimate of when American forces can come home from Iraq?
McCAIN: No, but that's not too important.

(NBC, Today Show, 6/11/08)

Cheerleading for War with Iraq--While Afghanistan was Unfinished

· McCain suggested that the war in Iraq could be won with a "smaller" force. "But the fact is I think we could go in with much smaller numbers than we had to do in the past. But I don't believe it's going to be nearly the size and scope that it was in 1991." (CBS News, Face the Nation, 9/15/02)

· McCain said winning the war would be "easy." "I know that as successful as I believe we will be, and I believe that the success will be fairly easy, we will still lose some American young men or women." (CNN, 9/24/02)

· McCain also said the actual fighting in Iraq would be easy. "We’re not going to get into house-to-house fighting in Baghdad. We may have to take out buildings, but we’re not going to have a bloodletting of trading American bodies for Iraqi bodies." (CNN, 9/29/02)

· Continuing his pattern, McCain also said on MSNBC that we would win the war in Iraq "easily." "But the point is that, one, we will win this conflict. We will win it easily." (MSNBC, 1/22/03)

· McCain argued Saddam was "a threat of the first order." Senator McCain said that a policy of containing Iraq to blunt its weapons of mass destruction program is "unsustainable, ineffective, unworkable and dangerous." McCain: "I believe Iraq is a threat of the first order, and only a change of regime will make Iraq a state that does not threaten us and others, and where liberated people assume the rights and responsibilities of freedom." (Speech to the Center for Strategic & International Studies, 2/13/03)

· McCain echoed Bush and Cheney’s rationale for going to war. McCain: "We're going to win this victory. Tragically, we will lose American lives. But it will be brief. We’re going to find massive evidence of weapons of mass destruction . . . It’s going to send the message throughout the Middle East that democracy can take hold in the Middle East." (Fox News, Hannity & Colmes, 2/21/03)

· "But I believe, Katie, that the Iraqi people will greet us as liberators." (NBC, 3/20/03)

· March 2003: "I believe that this conflict is still going to be relatively short." (NBC, Meet the Press, 3/30/03)

· McCain echoed Bush and Cheney’s talking points that the U.S. would only be in Iraq for a short time. McCain: "It’s clear that the end is very much in sight . . . It won’t be long . . . it’ll be a fairly short period of time." (ABC, 4/9/03)

Staunch Defense of the Iraq Invasion

· McCain maintained that the war was a good idea and that George W. Bush deserved "admiration." At the 2004 Republican National Convention, McCain, focusing on the war in Iraq, said that while weapons of mass destruction were not found, Saddam once had them and "he would have acquired them again." McCain said the mission in Iraq "gave hope to people long oppressed" and it was "necessary, achievable and noble." McCain: "For his determination to undertake it, and for his unflagging resolve to see it through to a just end, President Bush deserves not only our support, but our admiration." (Speech, Republican National Convention, 8/31/04)

· Senator McCain: "The war, the invasion was not a mistake. (Meet the Press, 1/6/08)

· McCain said the war in Iraq was "worth" it. Asked if the war was a good idea worth the price in blood and treasure, McCain: "It was worth getting rid of Saddam Hussein. He had used weapons of mass destruction, and it's clear that he was hell-bent on acquiring them." (Republican Debate, 1/24/08)

Dangerous Lack of Foreign Policy Knowledge

· When questioned about Osama bin Laden after the 1998 U.S. missile strikes in Afghanistan, McCain surmised that the terrorist leader wasn’t as "bad" as "depicted." "You could say, Look, is this guy, Laden, really the bad guy that's depicted? Most of us have never heard of him before." (Interview with Mother Jones magazine, 11/1998)

· McCain was unaware of previous Sunni-Shia violence before the Iraq War. "There’s not a history of clashes that are violent between Sunnis and Shias. So I think they can probably get along." (MSNBC, Hardball, 4/23/03)

· McCain said our military could just "muddle through" in Afghanistan. While giving a speech, McCain was asked about Afghanistan and replied, "I am concerned about it, but I’m not as concerned as I am about Iraq today, obviously, or I’d be talking about Afghanistan. But I believe that if Karzai can make the progress that he is making, that in the long term, we may muddle through in Afghanistan." (Speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, 11/5/03)

· McCain stated that Sunni al Qaeda was "supported" by the Shia Iranians. (2/2008)

· McCain again confused Sunni Muslim al Qaeda operatives with Shi’a Muslim insurgents. The Washington Post reported of McCain: "He said several times that Iran, a predominately Shiite country, was supplying the mostly Sunni militant group, al-Qaeda. In fact, officials have said they believe Iran is helping Shiite extremists in Iraq.

"Speaking to reporters in Amman, the Jordanian capital, McCain said he and two Senate colleagues traveling with him continue to be concerned about Iranian operatives ‘taking al-Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back.’

"Pressed to elaborate, McCain said it was ‘common knowledge and has been reported in the media that al-Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran, that's well known. And it's unfortunate.’" (Press conference, Amman, Jordan, 3/18/2008)

· Yet again, McCain demonstrated that he didn’t know whether al Qaeda was a Sunni or Shiite organization. While questioning General David Petraeus during a Senate hearing, the following exchange occurred:

MCCAIN: Do you still view al Qaeda in Iraq as a major threat?
PETRAEUS: It is still a major threat, though it is certainly not as major a threat as it was say 15 months ago.
MCCAIN: Certainly not an obscure sect of the Shi'ites overall?
MCCAIN: Or Sunnis or anybody else.

(Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing, 4/8/08)

· McCain incorrectly thought General David Petraeus was in charge of Afghanistan. The Army Times reported: "Speaking Monday at the annual meeting of the Associated Press, McCain was asked whether he, if elected, would shift combat troops from Iraq to Afghanistan to intensify the search for al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

‘I would not do that unless Gen. (David) Petraeus said that he felt that the situation called for that,’ McCain said, referring to the top U.S. commander in Iraq.

"Petraeus, however, made clear last week that he has nothing to do with the decision. Testifying last week before four congressional committees, including the Senate Armed Services Committee on which McCain is the ranking Republican, Petraeus said the decision about whether troops could be shifted from Iraq to Afghanistan was not his responsibility because his portfolio is limited to the multi-national force in Iraq." (Annual meeting of the Associated Press, 4/14/08)

· McCain credited the "surge" for the "Anbar Awakening"--even though the Anbar Awakening preceded the surge by nearly a year. (7/22/08)

· John McCain has also recently demonstrated either serious knowledge gaps in terms of foreign policy, or mounting confusion, when discussing an array of other countries:

Spain: McCain refused to commit to meeting with the president of Spain, a NATO ally, after becoming confused about America’s relationship with Spain, its leader, and, possibly, exactly where Spain is located. (

Czech Republic and Slovakia: McCain referred to the two countries using the name "Czechoslovakia" several times--despite the fact that Czechoslakia split apart and hasn't existed since 1993. (
7/15/08; (7/14/08))

Venezuela: McCain said that Venezuela was a Middle Eastern country. (