John McCain conducted another of his blogger outreach conference calls this morning, and the main topics were the DREAM Act and sanctions on Iranian Quds force. McCain had returned to the Senate to help confirm Judge Leslie Southwick to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. He derided the opposition's position that Southwick "had the appearance of intolerance." McCain said he would have opposed the DREAM Act, and that he got the message on the last round of immigration reform. He will not proceed with any other reforms until the borders are secured.
On Iran, McCain says that we need other nations engaged. He saluted the French for their action in pressuring Iran, but we need a "league of democracies" to get around the Russians and the Chinese. We need Western Europe on board.
He's calling from Iowa, where McCain and Mike Huckabee will engage in an AARP debate on health care. None of the rest of the candidates are there.
* League of Democracies -- How do you implement this -- as a NATO-plus, or just an ad-hoc organization? -- More like an ASEAN, a separate organization. No force structures associated with it, but some degree of formality to it. The UN has not effectively addressed the global conflicts, and McCain points to Lebanon and UNIFIL. He would stay in NATO and the UN, and try to reform the latter if possible.
* Clinate change; what about the allegations of White House interference in the CDC report on global warming and health issues? Is this a pattern with this administration? -- McCain says he is very disappointed in the administration for their political pressure on these issues, especially given the lack of talent and expertise from those who did it. McCain thinks that the Bush administration will not be judged well for not pushing market-based solutions to climate change.
* Judicial nominations -- how can we speed them up, and how would he insist on quick consideration for nominees as President? --- McCain voted for Ginsburg because elections have consequences. Congress has slowed the process to a halt, hoping that they elect a Democrat wins the White House. He says that this shows the wisdom of the Gang of 14 in getting at least some judges through. How many qualified people will go through the kind of experience Southwick had to endure? McCain says the only way to fight this is "Make 'em famous."
* S-CHIP - When you explain that the entitlement programs are going broke, that S-CHIP raises taxes and doesn't pay for itself, people understand the scam that S-CHIP is. McCain says that he's not even sure he supports the $5 billion expansion. McCain hopes the President vetoes the new bill and keep an unfunded liability on future generations. He likes Senator Coburn's approach, where politicians have to give up earmarks to fund the program -- and he likes the result.
* Scott Beauchamp - McCain has not really followed the story. He's shocked, shocked! to find gambling in that casino ...
* Is waterboarding torture, and what about the World Series? -- The BoSox was his boyhood team, but he's going to support the NL West, being from Arizona. McCain says that waterboarding is opposed by most of the retired military generals, and he considers it torture. It's a matter of keeping the moral high ground and understanding what kind of country we have. Pain will force people to say just about anything; torture is useless. This war is an ideological struggle, and it damages our position.
* What about the Law of the Sea Treaty? -- McCain opposes the current proposal, but wants a LOST treaty that protects American sovereignty and international order. The Arctic will be a key issue in the future.
* The decline of casualties in Iraq -- "I hope Harry Reid pays attention to it, who declared the war lost." The Anbar Awakening model is spreading throughout the nation. The Maliki government is still a worry, as is a corrupt national police, but we are making a great deal of progress.