Monday, September 29, 2008

roll tide?

granted, my alma motter (Alabama) is so far playing an amazing year (having just defeated the former #2 Georgia to take their place in the most recent poling), but i thought this was even more appropriate, given our rallying cry/cheer...

[rick] roll tide, indeed...

Friday, September 26, 2008


(this wasted friday afternoon is brought to you in part by the internet):

HOLY CRAP. i just discovered one of the coolest DIY/creative sites in a long while: see below, you might just get the idea what i'm talking about.

still clueless? see image below, print, and follow instructions:

now does it make sense? still no? i give up.

i'll give a $1 to the first person who can correctly name all the characters above (no cheating).

i'm going home soon, i promise.

why so serious?

one of the better mashups i've seen to date to explain the current economic crisis:

kudos to geekanerd, this is even better than my previous (re)post. i can't wait until there's less super serious stuff to make fun of.


geek (or is it nerd/dork?) stink breath.

this song/video has marginal relevance, but i love the song, and the title is somewhat related to today's topic, so hit play + keep reading:

the terms "nerd," "geek," and "dork" get thrown around a lot these days. some as insults (preceded/followed by a wedgie and/or stolen lunch money), some as forms of reaping credibility to oneself being just out of the mainstream.

REGARDLESS, it's quite annoying, like when people see a gorilla + call it a "monkey" (they're APES you moron! monkeys have tails. go away.)

so let's clear this up once and for all, on the internet, for all to see. years ago, rising out of loser obscurity into the my own personality (be yourself kids, stay in school, and just say no to drugs), i came up with the proper layman's distinction of nerds, geeks, and dorks. many of my friends have heard me wax on about it at parties, and hear i lay it out for you the esteemed reader:

the most overused term. refers to those who have "nerdly" interests (sci fi, comic books, super tech stuff), but CAN socially acclimate with people who DON'T have such interests (though often those people will clearly acknowledge the "nerdliness" of their friends) fact, we like to mingle outside so we can tell them that BSG/graphic novels aren't all so bad (think of us as stealthy ambassadors). sometimes these "others" with whom we socialize of the opposite sex will even let us date them (they simply put up w/ all the action figures on the bookshelf). simply put, we can tell you anything about ST: TNG (and uniformly agree that DS9 sucked), but you're not going to find us wearing a costume at the convention. as nerd culture (comic book movies, gadgets, the internet) permeates more and more into the mainstream, and becomes more "cool" this is obviously the largest growing segment (which annoys many oldschool nerds, making us adopt more geekish tendencies).

those who have similar genre interests to nerds, but cannot successfully acclimate with others of non-nerdly interests. net, they tend to prefer hanging out with their own kind. though they are on friendly terms with many nerds. these are usually the guys you see chatting away at the comic book stores about the latest Watchmen trailer (quite the friendly lot). geeks tend to exist on the music scene in the indie record store as well, but music geeks (or music snobs, as they're more commonly known) tend to look down on others who listen to things that are more mainstream (NOTE - there is some overlap between music snobs + nerds). there seems to be a higher incidence of D&D players amongst geeks VS amongst nerds. also, quite a high (observed) overlap with goths.

the rarest of all breeds, and give the rest of us a bad name. dorks have their own interests of a similar variety (though often more eccentric in nature), but cannot even socially acclimate with those of similar or dissimilar interests. geeks and nerds can't stand them, even though we try.

so now you know. and knowing is half the battle.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

conversating on the "liberal bias"

in my ongoing lame observation/commentary of the campaign's digital strategy (and a bit more on the personal front), today i've been having a back-and-forth conversation with a very intelligent Republican friend of mine...

DISCLAIMER: i'm a total lefty liberal (it only got worse abroad), but if you didn't already know that, you're either...
(1) not reading my blog,
(2) don't know me, and/or
(3) are just stupid (sorry, but it's true, just accept it and move on)...
here's what started it: i got the above email from the McCain camp (i've been signed up for the 2...major candidates email programs for some time now, a topic on which i frequently post.

i forwarded to my friend, with the following comment

"funny that their site is still sending out automated reminders to a debate he does not want to have (whether rightfully or wrongfully so)"

his response:
"agreed. but, this is a nearly unprecedented scenario that i doubt they had in mind when they designed the system. ;)"

i get snarky + send a link:
(further insinuating that the McCain camp didn't have their shit together digitally, and this is just one of many symptoms of that):
AdAge: What Obama Can Teach You About Millennial Marketing"

friend shoots back a zinger:

"i agree... they have the marketing down pat. too bad i don't like what's in the bottle."

raman gets preachy:

"i really think you should TRY to read both the candidates books (thus ignoring the spin the media is putting here). frankly, it's like interviewing both of the candidates.

...or at least get the audio books."

friend retorts (respectfully):

"fair point, but i am not going to.
it's a matter of of priorities in how i spend my time, and there are a lot of items on the list above that. things that are important to me like community service, exercise, work, etc.
...i respect the amount of reading you ARE doing, but that's your choice too."

raman re-retorts (respectfully, and comically):
"well half the reason i'm reading McCain's books are to:

(1) get a better understanding of him as a candidate/leader/politician, and

(2) draw a better comparison between him + MY candidate so i can better convince others 'on the fence' and that is clearly more than just telling you to read the book.
...i must slowly, subtly brainwash you. mwa hahah.

friend counters (sarcastically?):

and i'm going to convince you to become Catholic.

raman responds (sadly):
while you might not convince me to be Catholic, you (or people, society in general, but you can be the lead if you want) might convince me to believe in something again =)

friend forwards a (related) link:
"on the topic of spin:

Washington Times: BLANKLEY: Media covering for Obama

raman gets riled up:
right, this is why people should do their own research** VS believing everything that's played back to them in the media. agreed that Obama's gotten favorable coverage, but maybe it's because he's that good. also, Fox News, the #1 cable news station in America is NOT giving him favorable coverage, and that means something.

**not saying the candidate's books are not spin in themselves (self perpetuated, naturally), but it's a hell of a lot closer, bc it gives the author (Obama or McCain) all the time in the world to talk (unedited for a soundbyte) about their points, politics, and experiences, and lets the reader judge for themselves. half the stuff your article cited [not being known], i actually know quite a bit about, bc i've READ about them.

i can say the same about McCain, which is more than most American's can do.

hmmm. i'm getting riled up here. this might have to be a blog entry. after i post a few goofy videos.
in the meantime, check out this (conversationally relevant) beta link a little birdie from Google sent me:


now i hope these sort of conversations are actually happening around our fair country, but sadly they are probably not. because we choose not to associate with those of opposing views (or frankly, be informed enough).

i'll be honest, i DO mostly surround myself with like minded people, i just happen to have this particular close friend that harbors opposing political beliefs (and yet we remain friends, a fact of which i am proud) and is pretty intelligent at that (i would gather far smarter than me).

so what's it going to take?

otherwise we're all just talking to ourselves. myself especially.

breakin' and...jivin?

WARNING: this might only be funny to people i work with. the first one is an infamous guy in the industry that we all work with, who's apparently nefarious for his wicked moves on the NY scene:

now this second one, if you're still engaged, was a "video response" from my company. if you look closely, you might see a handsome guy in an orange shirt. if you look even closer, you might see said handome guy's arm w/ the little string on his right hand (proof to said person's sister that it's still on):

the 3-screen split w/ Mr.Kevin Bus's sick moves is my favorite.

we actually do work around here. i swear.


commuter dillemma.

as you probably already know, i ride my bike to work. i've got to say, it's definitely high up there on my "things that attribute to my high quality of life" list (post pending, for a bad day). on occasion though, i will ride the bus in, or even bring my car to work (esp when i have an urgent appointment after work, ie, the airport...but in most cases i still ride the bike to/from work, then grab my car). all in all, i'm a big fan of mass transit, but am frustrated by all the supposed "trial barriers" non-urban people cite to not adopt it in their daily routine.

a few weeks ago, when choosing to ride the bus in (it had been quite a few months), i was surprised to find that busfare had gone up from $1 to $1.50 (when the bus driver called me back to the front of the bus to finish paying my fare). as with many things, this is a clear indicator of:

(1) my age/the many years i've been a supporter of the bus/living in cincinnati, and
(2) inflation, though other, more notable indicators for me are
-comics (when i started collecting in '85, they were just $0.75, they now average $3!) -stamps (i remember them being $0.25, they are now nearing $0.50).

usually when i tell people i ride my bike to work, they ask "even in the winter/snow" - to which i respond, "no stupid, for those painfully long/dreary months of the year i opt to take the bus"

ANYHOW. this morning, while riding my bike down the hill, i was contemplating what i would do this coming winter. continue to take the bus (which is now more expensive), or (gasp!) drive to work. here's my math:

-office days in month (accounting for out of office/travel days) : 20
-bus fare: $1.50 each way, so $3/day

-distance to work: 2 miles, so 4 miles roundtrip
-parking pass: $50
-government mileage rate: $0.50 1/2 (for gas + wear/tear on car)


-raman RIDES BUS: $60 =
20 days * $3 bus fare

-raman DRIVES CAR: $90
= (4 mi/day * 20 days * $0.50/mi) + $50 parking


-convenience (car)
-carbon footprint (bus)

-freezing outside every morning walking to/from stop + waiting
-exercise from walking everyday (bus)
-time spent outside wiping snow/ice off car in AM
-keeping an awesome parking space in front of my house
-time spent on bus reading/working (bus)
-commute time to work (car)
-interaction/people watching on bus (bus)
-keeping awesome parking space in front of my house
-taking my parking pass back from josh

while it looks like the bus clearly wins ($30/month cheaper...the cost of 10 comics, roughly my monthly intake/habit), it still feels like a draw in my mind. what do you think? weigh in!

and more importantly, have you run this analysis on YOUR commute?

Monday, September 22, 2008

the economy (in a nutshell)

best explanation of the current economic climate for the layman i've seen in awhile:

for everyone else, there's
the Economist:

back at it (or die trying).

after a few long days on the road (a few days in California + felt/weighed on me more than my previous 2 week roadshow in NY/Boston/Toronto), i'm left with a LOT to think about it.

frankly more from the latter end of my trip (in LA), most of which was spent sitting at the foot of my grandmother's hospital bed. life and death are funny thing, and i think at some point in our lives (if not sooner VS later) we have to come to grips with what they mean. otherwise you're in for a really rude awakening. i've been (un)fortunate enough to have had this hit me a few times in recent years (far more than many, far less than many more...i can only imagine what my dad's 20's & 30's were like), but for some reason it STILL doesn't make it any easier, especially when you see how it weighs on others.

but for now all i can do is return to my life, read my books, do my work, make the occasional reassuring phone calls, and hope for the best (which is not always the most obvious choice).

and maybe, just maybe, spend some time outside and enjoy the coming fall season.

Friday, September 19, 2008

a long way gone.

rarely do you read a book and find your heart ache as much as it did when i finally read Ishmael Beah's A Long Way Gone.

i guess you could say fiction can give you the emotional gut wrench every now and again (Jhumpa Lahiri and Brian Michael Bendis alike), but this was the first work of non-fiction i had read in years that would have me in a REAL state of saddened despair after each reading. and yet i knew i must finish it.

the book follows the author's first hand accounts oexploits in Sierra Leone (eastern Africa), being removed from his family during the "civil war", wandering the countryside on his own and with other young teen/pre-teen boys (from whom the populace was afraid given the current state of the country), ultimately being recruited in the "army" as a child, the horrors of war, and his ultimate rehabilitation + reentry into society, only as the civil war took a turn for the worse. while the earlier stages of the book are harrowing and obvious, it is the final chapters that lay the contrast + trauma's effects out to bare that really ground you in the despair of reality as it stands.

in all honesty, i regret that during my travels of the past few weeks, i was not strong enough to finish reading in one sitting, finding excuses to take a break, enjoying the frivolities of life. only a few books have had such an effect on me, and mostly were holocaust related (Elie Wiesels's Night and Art Spiegelman's Maus)

what this book did differently to break through though was to speak of unspeakable tragedy that most of the world is ignorant to in a very matter-of-fact sort of way. too often in the western world do we hear the plights of the past, as atrocious as they were, that we should never forget. but as i would read the dates in this book...1995, 1996, was immediately relevant to me as i remembered and contrasted what was going on in my life at the time. it all seems so trivial now. and yet, in a large part of our world, oft referred to as the cradle of humanity, a form of anarchy takes place that we largely choose to ignore.

this is another book that should be required reading. for everyone. children and adults alike.

and yes, i first heard about it on the Daily Show (in Feb 2007, adding it to my wishlist + finally receiving it this past Christmas). many people i talk to about the book recall hearing about the book there as well. here's the clip:

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

hey kids! vote or die!

i was at my neighborhood mega-bookstore the other day and my better half pointed out the following two books. holy crap. is nothing sacred?

you can't make this stuff up. i kid you not.

i took the time to skim through each book at the store. the McCain book did a good job of painting her dad as a decent man + hero (glossing over some of the fine details in between, of course), while the Obama book over-emphasized how different Barack Obama was from the rest of us (focusing on his life abroad VS his work at in the US).

now i'm not claiming editorial bias, but if i was an impressionable young kid who knew nothing about either man, i know who i'd be voting for, and he sure isn't young, progressive, and charismatic. U-S-A! U-S-A!

...and this kids, is why you have to be 18 to vote.

Monday, September 15, 2008

why i still *heart* tina fey.

ok, i missed this since i was out drinking away my sorrows on my birthday (separate, pending post), but had rumors this might happen.


let's be clear. i've had a crush on tina fey for quite a while, but she soon lost her spot as "top crush" to lara logan some months ago. this might put her back in the running though (that, and 30 rock coming back on the air shortly)t

Thursday, September 11, 2008

you're a moron (if you don't vote).

"a new American citizen preparing to vote in his first US election asks, 'are we so lost we have to be sold our own democratic right!?' "

yet another great share from Jason.

7 years on.

i'm not even going to try to write about this one.

though i do find it odd how certain points in life (beyond your control) become "anchor points" from which you can remember everything surrounding it so vividly. the sad thing is that the rest of world deals with just as (if not more) significant anchor points on a more regular basis.

at the time, these were a few interesting articles that struck me (one mature and timely, the other juvenile and expected:

> God Angrily Clarifies 'Don't Kill' Rule
> American Life Turns Into Bad Jerry Bruckheimer Movie

we'll be back tomorrow to play more of the hits you love. in the meantime, go read something intelligent and reflect/ponder on all that you have.

Monday, September 08, 2008

the gender agenda.

oh jon stewart, why must your research staff be so good?

realizing i might be the LAST person to have seen this, but still, it's so good.

why comics are cool.

nuff said.

Friday, September 05, 2008

shoe circus?

since i couldn't close out the weekend with Kid Rock + Dale Earnhardt Jr headlining my blog, i picked 2 other celebrities i like a bit more in a strange attempt my Crispin Porter to make something uncool cool (story of my life):

Mega-bussing off to Chicago to play the third wheel and give the Raman Seal of Approval to some significant others, but don't worry, i'll be back in action next week with my usual vitriol. stay tuned...

Thursday, September 04, 2008

like i needed another reason to dislike Kid Rock.

so the other day i was at the movies with some buddies. now i've gotten over the fact that i must be subjected to 20 mins of advertisements (if it keeps the theatres afloat, fine, but i really wish they'd find a better profit sharing arrangement w/ the Hollywood studios VS making me pay for it w/ higher ticket prices, concession costs, and advertising), but what really got me was when i was subjected to the following propaganda:

(this is the only version i could find on YouTube, the edit featured in theatres focused only on Dale Earnhardt Jr, Kid Rock, and the army's adventures in the Middle East)

now i'm as big a NASCAR fan as the next guy (actually, "fan" is putting it strongly, but i DO appreciate it as a unique piece of our culture, which is OK in my book), but what the crap does Kid Rock, the army, and NASCAR have to do w/ one another? augh! i am still so annoyed w/ this ad that i can't even articulate myself correctly (but what's new). talk about bundling a bunch of stereotypical things together to push a message that is the wrong one. i'm all about patriotism, our troops, etc, but being a "warrior" is nothing to be glorified in the culture(like pro sports of any kind), it should be something that is used w/ a measured restraint.

Kid Rock, you (still) suck.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

McCain: the prickly pear?

last night i sat down to read 20+ pages in the latest issue of Time on our boy Johny Mac (+ HIS Republican Party in THIS election), who graced the cover (Barry was on the cover last week, also an interesting read).

many of the articles was the standard magazine fodder, but what jumped out at me the MOST was the very abrupt interview he gave. gone was the McCain of before that would engage in a very open, honest (+ sometimes humorous) banter w/ the media. what remained? uncomfortable silence + classic GOP talking points.

what this further cements for me is that the McCain we know (+ some love) has completely given in to his party's machine, pandering to the will of the right + losing his own voice. not terribly unlike what happened with a certain Mr.Gore in 2004 (though some can argue there are other reasons he "lost"). if anyone in this election is a "Manchurian Candidate" for interests that are not his/our own, it is not Obama, but rather McCain (if curious, see the previous week's Obama interview for Time, which will likely provide some their "evidence of liberal bias" ...though i would argue Time is being *mostly* objective here, and are simply unveiling the gross degree of difference in distortions that has been occuring between the left and the right for so many years).

the printed interview, restricted to a 2-page spread, did not include the full transcript, which is found below (as i believe you are less likely to go somewhere else i link you + actually read VS scrolling below). in addition to the full interview, i've also included the intro from the printed edition (for context):
McCain's Prickly TIME Interview
BY Christopher Morris (for Time)

For years, John McCain's marathon bull sessions with reporters were more than a means of delivering a message; they were the message. McCain proudly, flagrantly refused direction from handlers, rarely dodged tough questions and considered those who did wimps and frauds. The style told voters that he was unafraid, that he had nothing to hide and that what you see is what you get. "Anything you want to talk about," he promised reporters aboard the Straight Talk Express in Iowa back in March 2007. "One of the fundamental principles of the bus is that there is no such thing as a dumb question." When asked if he would keep the straight talk coming, McCain replied, "You think I could survive if I didn't? We'd never be forgiven ... I'd have to hire a food taster, somebody to start my car in the morning." Even after he won the GOP nomination, he demanded that his new campaign plane be configured to include a sofa up front so he could re-create the Straight Talk Express at 30,000 ft.

Sticking to the old formula seemed like a good idea. But with the press focused on Obama, McCain got attention only when he slipped up during one of his patented freewheeling encounters with reporters. And so in July, the campaign decided to clamp down on the candidate. Open-ended question time was reduced to almost nothing, and the famously unscripted McCain began heeding his talking points, even as his aides maintained he missed the old informality.

And so when TIME's James Carney and Michael Scherer were invited to the front of McCain's plane recently for an interview, they were ushered forward, past the curtain that now separates reporters from the candidate, past the sofa that was designed for his gabfests with the press and taken straight to the candidate's seat. McCain at first seemed happy enough to do the interview. But his mood quickly soured. The McCain on display in the 24-minute interview was prickly, at times abrasive, and determined not to stray off message.

TIME: What do you want voters to know coming out of the Republican convention — about you, about your candidacy?
John McCain: I'm prepared to be President of the United States, and I'll put my country first.

There's a theme that recurs in your books and your speeches, both about putting country first but also about honor. I wonder if you could define honor for us?
Read it in my books.

I've read your books.
No, I'm not going to define it.

But honor in politics?
I defined it in five books. Read my books.

[Your] campaign today is more disciplined, more traditional, more aggressive. From your point of view, why the change?
I will do as much as we possibly can do to provide as much access to the press as possible.

But beyond the press sir, just in terms of...
I think we're running a fine campaign, and this is where we are.

Do you miss the old way of doing it?
I don't know what you're talking about.

Really? Come on, Senator.
I'll provide as much access as possible...

What lessons did you draw from Hillary Clinton's campaign against Barack Obama?
I thought she ran a very honorable campaign and inspired millions of people including women who did not think...Now it's very clear that a woman can be a very viable and strong candidate for President of the United States.

Was there anything in the way that she ran against Senator Obama successfully, especially toward the end, that taught you something about how to wage this campaign?

In 2000, after the primaries, you went back to South Carolina to talk about what you felt was a mistake you had made on the Confederate flag. Is there anything so far about this campaign that you wish you could take back or you might revisit when it's over?
[Does not answer.]

Do I know you? [With a laugh.]
[Long pause.] I'm very happy with the way our campaign has been conducted and I am very pleased and humbled to have the nomination of the Republican Party.

You do acknowledge there was a change in the campaign, in the way you had run the campaign?
[Shakes his head.]

You don't acknowledge that? O.K., when your aides came to you and you decided, having been attacked by Barack Obama, to run some of those ads, was there a debate?
The campaign responded as planned.

When General Petraeus last came and spoke before the Senate, you laid out a pretty clear definition of what you saw as victory in Iraq. The government of Iraq has made clear in the last month or two that they might want a withdrawal before complete stability, before totally secure borders, before some of the completeness of victory as he described it then. Is there any change, do you think there is some wiggle room there? What you described with Petraeus was an end point that was rather complete, a peaceful, stable country ...
It's a peaceful and stable country now.

It is? But you wouldn't say you've achieved victory now?
Yes, I would say that the surge is succeeding and we are winning.

But we haven't reached victory yet?
I can say again that the surge has succeeded and we are winning.

But it's not yet at a point where significant draw-down of troops...
That's the view of General Petraeus... General Petraeus' strategy has succeeded. Senator Obama said it wouldn't, couldn't, and has denied that it has succeeded and we will be able to withdraw as we have in every time in history when counterinsurgency succeeds.

Just going back into biography a little bit ...
I've described thousands of times what victory is, and we've succeeded, we are winning, and we will come home with honor and victory, not in defeat.

Jumping around a bit: in your books, you've talked about what it was like to go through the Keating Five experience, and you've been quoted as saying it was one of the worst experiences of your life. Someone else quoted you as saying it was even worse than being a POW...
That's another one of those statements made 17 or 18 years ago which was out of the context of the conversation I was having. Of course the worst, the toughest experience of my life was being imprisoned, so people can pluck phrases from 17 or 18 years ago...

I wasn't suggesting it as a negative thing. I was just saying that...
I'm just suggesting it was taken out of context. I understand how comments are taken out of context from time to time. But obviously, the toughest time of my life, physically and [in] every other way, would be the time that I almost died in prison camp. And I think most Americans understand that.

I have a question about management style. There was a recent Washington Post interview with you in which you said a certain amount of chaos and differing opinions ...
No, I said tension.

There you go, that's a little different.

A certain amount of tension, differing opinions among your advisers, was a good thing. I'm struck by how when you talk to Obama about these things, he always talks about no drama — that's the catch phrase he's used internally over there. The question I have is: What about that leadership style you draw from, what you know about how your father led and how your grandfather led?
Most great leaders in history that I've studied always need to get as wide a range of opinions as possible so that they can have sufficient information to make the right decisions. I think it's important that the President of the United States consult as widely as possible with those who have different views so that he can — he or she — can make the most informed decisions.

Is creative tension a good way to describe it?
No, as I said, to get as wide and varying differences and view oints on issues is the best way, most knowledgeable way, to make an informed decision.

How different are you from President Bush? Are you in step with your party? Are you independent from your party?
My record shows that I have put my country first and I follow the philosophy and traditions of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. Sometimes that is not in keeping with the present Administration or my colleagues, but I've always put my country first, whether it's saying I didn't support the decision to go to Lebanon or my fighting against the corruption in Washington or out-of-control pork-barrel spending, which has led to members of Congress residing in federal prison. So I've always stood up for a set of principles and a philosophy that I think have been pretty consistent over the years.

Secretary Rice, the Bush administration, our NATO allies, have declined to speed up the process of giving membership to Georgia. Is that a good idea or is that a sign of fear about alienating Russia?
I don't know what it's a sign of. I would, in the case of both Ukraine and Georgia, I would press for their early...movement on the schedule toward membership in NATO. I don't know what their motives or what reasoning is behind it, that recent announcement that Secretary Rice made.

So you think that it's better to move quickly and worry less about antagonizing Moscow, the Kremlin?
I think you've got a small country under basically occupation, where murder and looting is taking place. I think that the other countries in the region obviously are concerned. And I think we should move forward with a number of actions concerning WTO membership and G7 or G8, the Russians have membership, Ukraine and Georgia in NATO, among other things.

Your tougher line on Russia, which predated [the Russian invasion of Georgia], now to many looks prescient. Others say it's indicative of a belligerent approach to foreign policy that would perhaps further exacerbate the tensions being created with our allies and others around the world under the Bush Administration. How do you respond to that critique?
Well, it reminds me of some of the arguments we went through when Ronald Reagan became President of the United States. I think Russian behavior has been very clear, and I've pointed it out for quite a period of time, and the chronicle of their actions has been well known since President [Vladimir] Putin came to power, and I believe that it's very important that Russia behave in a manner befitting a very strong nation. They're not doing so at this time, so therefore I will criticize and in some cases — in the case of the aggression against Georgia — condemn them.

How would you describe your foreign policy? Where do you sit on the spectrum of foreign policy views? You have conservative advisers, you have realpolitik advisers. What is John McCain?
Well, I think that people can make their judgments on my positions and involvement in every major nation's security issues in the last 20 years or more. How I've played a role that Senator Obama never has. Key decisions, whether it be the first Gulf War, or Bosnia, or Kosovo, or other issues. But I believe my judgments are based on years of experience, knowledge and background. And I will stand by those judgments that I've made, at times when these national security issues have risen throughout the last quarter century.

You were a very enthusiastic supporter of the invasion of Iraq and, in the early stages, of the Bush Administration's handling of the war. Are those judgments you'd like to revisit?
Well, my record is clear. I believe that the world is better off without Saddam Hussein. I believe it's clear that he had every intention to acquire and use weapons of mass destruction. I can only imagine what Saddam Hussein would be doing with the wealth he would acquire with oil at $110 and $120 a barrel. I was one of the first to point out the failure of strategy in Iraq under [former Defense Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld. I was criticized for being disloyal to the Republicans and the President. I was the first to say I would lose a campaign rather than lose a war. I supported the surge. No observer over the last two years would say the surge hasn't succeeded. I believe we did the right thing.

I'm wondering if you have stories of meeting both [Mark] Salter and [Steve] Schmidt and deciding that they could be close advisers?

I have great respect for their talents and skills, and I appreciate their friendship very much. They're both very gifted individuals, and I'm very grateful to have their support, and their advice and counsel.

Is there anything about Schmidt's council that you thought stood out last year that would make you promote him through the ranks?


After the bio-tour last spring, I was e-mailed by an evangelical active in politics. They had a question about you. In your books and on that tour you told your life story as one of a redemption — discovering the value of passionate service and serving your country. But his question was about the sort of wild views that preceded that, and whether for President you would recommend those adventures you had to young people of this country. There was a time when you moved beyond that, but there were years when you were seeking out for a dream of meeting up with girls in various places. And the question I got in the e-mail was: What does John McCain think of premarital sex? What do you think about that? What are your thoughts?

I don't have any response to that type of question. I'm running for President of the United States; write what you want.

I'm curious...

My life has been well chronicled, in the books I wrote, and people who know me would say on many occasions that I've been a flawed and imperfect servant of my country, but I'm proud of my service to my country.

A lot of people know about your service from your books, but most people don't know that you have two sons currently in the military. Can you describe what it means to have Jack and Jimmy in uniform?
We don't discuss our sons.

Thank you.

Take care.
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