John McCain, The Man Who Gave Us Sarah Palin, Criticises Brexit

The man who wanted to put Sarah Palin a heartbeat away from the American presidency has something to tell us about Brexit

Following swift on the heels of former US ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton’s welcome words of support for Brexit and the campaign for Britain to reclaim our democracy, Senator John McCain comes charging in to defend the status quo.

From the Times (+):

It is a few weeks before we get Barack Obama’s intervention in the EU referendum debate, but today we get a foretaste of America’s view of Brexit.

John McCain, the US senator defeated by Obama in 2008, has issued a blunt warning after meeting MPs on the Commons defence select committee that the “need for a strong and united Europe is greater than ever”.

Warning that Britain and the US are “confronting the most diverse and complex array of crises since the end of World War II”, McCain claims that “British membership in the EU is a vital contributor to the security and prosperity of Europe and the United States”.

He insists it is a decision for the British people, but notes that “whatever the outcome of the referendum on EU membership, it will send a strong message to Vladimir Putin”.

At least McCain does little to disguise that his view of Brexit is coloured almost entirely by his view of the American national interest, rather than what might be best for America’s strongest and closest ally, or for democracy in general – so in that regard he is slightly better than President Obama, who presumes to lecture the British people on what is best for them.

The Times – which seems to have deliberately ignored Ambassador Bolton’s contradictory intervention in the debate yesterday – goes on to suggest that Brexit supporters might have a difficult time dismissing a decorated war veteran like John McCain, as though a person’s military exploits from close to half a century ago have a direct bearing on their judgement about another country’s internal affairs.

Nonsense. If John McCain’s judgement is a factor at all here, then the failed presidential candidate who selected Sarah Palin to be his vice presidential running mate hasn’t a leg to stand on.

Let’s recall Senator John McCain’s finest hour:

The person I’m about to introduce to you was a union member and is married to a union member, and understands the problems, the hopes and the values of working people; knows what it’s like to worry about mortgage payments and health care, the cost of gasoline and groceries. A standout high school point guard; a concerned citizen who became a member of the PTA; then a city council member, and then a mayor; and now a governor who beat the long odds to win a tough election on a message of reform and public integrity. And, I am especially proud to say in the week we celebrate the anniversary of women’s suffrage, a devoted wife and a mother of five.

She’s not — she’s not from these parts and she’s not from Washington. But when you get to know her, you’re going to be as impressed as I am. She’s got the grit, integrity, good sense and fierce devotion to the common good that is exactly what we need in Washington today. She knows where she comes from and she knows who she works for. She stands up for what’s right, and she doesn’t let anyone tell her to sit down. She’s fought oil companies and party bosses and do-nothing bureaucrats, and anyone who puts their interests before the interests of the people she swore an oath to serve.

She’s exactly who I need, she’s exactly who this country needs, to help me fight — to help me fight the same old Washington politics of me-first and country second.

My friends and fellow Americans, I am very pleased and very privileged to introduce to you the next vice president of the United States — Gov. Sarah Palin of the great state of Alaska.

And this is the person whose advice we should be fawning over when it comes to global security, the future of our democracy and our right to self-determination here in Britain?

We have enough politicians and high profile public figures with calamitous judgement and weak powers of prognostication here in Britain, without importing any more uninformed voices from overseas.

I think you can sit out this round, Senator.


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Not Just A War Cry

Fox and Friends

I generally try to avoid writing about the shenanigans that take place on Fox News’ morning show, “Fox & Friends”. The cast is assembled from a pool of failed, lightweight, B-team journalists who either know nothing about the complexities of the world (think Steve Doocy), or ones who are highly educated but disingenuously dumb themselves down to appeal to the Fox News viewer (think Gretchen “I looked up the word Czar in the dictionary” Carlson).

But on this occasion they make it to the pages of my blog because one of them – Brian Kilmeade, on the right in the above picture – was taken back to school by Senator John McCain, who was a guest on yesterday’s show. Politico reports:

Sen. John McCain criticized Fox & Friends’s Brian Kilmeade on Tuesday after the co-host said he had “a problem with helping out” members of the Syrian opposition who were shouting “Allahu Akbar” as rockets rained down in a government-held district of Homs.

During an interview with Sen. McCain, Kilmeade played the clip of the Syrian opposition fighters in order to suggest that McCain’s plan to deliver weapons to opposition groups could ultimately backfire, putting rockets in the hands of terrorists.


“Allahu Akbar” means “God is great”, of course. It is akin to a Christian shouting “Thank God!”, as McCain patiently explains to the dimwit Kilmeade. Just because a phrase is hijacked by radical fundamentalists and turned into a war cry as they fly aeroplanes into buildings or press the plungers on their suicide vests, does not mean that it loses its original meaning:

“I have a problem helping out those people screaming that after a hit,” Kilmeade said.

Sen. McCain fired back, “Would you have a problem with an American person saying ‘Thank God! Thank God!’?”

“That’s what they’re saying. Come on!” Sen. McCain said. “Of course they’re Muslims, but they’re moderates. I guarantee you that they are moderates. I know them and I’ve been with them. For someone to say ‘Allahu Akbar’ is about as offensive as someone saying ‘Thank God.'”

As difficult as it can sometimes be to agree with John McCain – given his erratic oscillations between being the bitter, ornery old man failed presidential candidate and the measured voice of reason and geopolitical knowledge (if not foreign policy wisdom) – one must admit that he is quite right in this particular case.

And if Brian Kilmeade needs any further reminder that hearing the phrase “Allahu Akbar” does not necessarily mean that a Big Scary Muslim is about to kill him, he would do well to watch the video, shared previously on this blog, in which a grieving Syrian father is reunited with the little son that he believed to have been killed in a strike by pro-Assad forces:


The words that the family and the overwhelmed father cry out in joy as they embrace the boy?

Allahu Akbar.

The Worsening Lunacy Of Michele Bachmann

It takes a lot for an article about Michele Bachmann to get under my skin these days – there are few taboos that she has not broken, and few lines that she has not crossed – but this one from Politico managed to do the job:

In a June 13 letter, five GOP congressmen – Reps. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, Trent Franks of Arizona, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Tom Rooney of Florida and Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia – called on the State Department’s deputy inspector general to investigate whether Abedin and other department officials were trying to influence U.S. foreign policy to aid the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist causes. The congressmen cited a report by the far-right think tank Center for Security Policy.

The report alleges Abedin has three family members — her late father, her mother and her brother — who are connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives or organizations.

“The State Department and, in several cases, the specific direction of the Secretary of State, have taken actions recently that have been enormously favorable to the Muslim Brotherhood and its interests,” the five House Republicans wrote Harold G. Geisel, the acting inspector general.

It seems that the congresswoman from Minnesota’s 6th congressional district – Minnesota Palin – has decided to pick up where McCarthy left off, and start a witch-hunt against Muslim Americans working for the US government. In this case, the target was Huma Abedin, a senior aide to Hillary Clinton in the State Department.

The unfounded allegations of ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, and of harbouring anti-American ideals and seeking to use her position to promote pro-Islamist policies within the US government, proved too much even for John McCain, who chastised Bachmann in a Senate floor speech:

“I know Huma to be an intelligent, upstanding, hard-working, and loyal servant of our country and our government, who has devoted countless days of her life to advancing the ideals of the nation she loves and looking after its most precious interests,” McCain, the GOP’s 2008 presidential nominee and a leading voice on defense and foreign policy, said in his floor speech.

“Put simply, Huma represents what is best about America: the daughter of immigrants, who has risen to the highest levels of our government on the basis of her substantial personal merit and her abiding commitment to the American ideals that she embodies so fully,” McCain added.

McCain’s political integrity ebbs and flows much like the tide, but I think we can all be grateful that it was working on this occasion at least.

And shame on Michele Bachmann and her fellow Republican joint signatories of this letter.

The fear that grips so much of today’s Republican Party – fear of cultural change, fear of terrorism and “the homeland” no longer being an impregnable fortress, fear of people who look or behave differently to a black-and-white 1950s television show – leads to the type of controlling, paternalistic, paranoid behaviour that drives so many people, myself included, away from supporting them.

Which is a real shame, because there are some solid, proven, and much-needed conservative policy solutions to many of America’s problems being buried by the GOP under big piles of precisely this type of nonsense.