As so many like to point to Sen. John McCain's American Conservative Union ratings, I decided to take a look at them! It gives a good idea of what they see as important and how members of Congress voted on those items.
Thus starting in Mr. McCain's House time, and votes contrary to what the ACU supported are listed (Year - ACU percent - comments), all ratings from the ACU Ratings site and I am doing my best to de-conflict the votes for on a proposal against and such [note that non-votes are on ACU cited votes, not of all votes taken]. This list is representative of their views which are biased and I do disagree with a number of their takes and backing, but it is a fair view from a given biased perspective of how to grade Congresscritters:
1983 - 96 - Voted for a pork barrel spending bill that the ACU opposed.
1984 - 86 - Voted for a Public Health bill that the ACU describes as 'budget busting' and for the Civil Rights Act of 1984 which the ACU characterizes as 'absurdly expanding federal power'.
1985 - 81 - Voted for a Clean Water Bill, for sanctions against South Africa, for textile import quotas, and for expanding the Superfund program.
1986 - 73 - Voted against an amendment to freeze the Community Services Block Grant Program, against an amendment to delete funds from the Legal Services Corp., for minority set-asides in DoD contracting, voted to over-ride President Reagan's veto of the South African Sanctions bill, and voted to adopt more money for the Superfund program.
Now on to his time in the Senate:
1987 - 91 - Voted to over-ride President Reagan's veto of the Clean Water Act re-authorization which the ACU describes as 'budget busting' and voted to continue the support of the Legal Services Corp. which was 'controversial' in its outlook and services. Did not vote on: a $1.06 billion bill that federalizes 'the homeless' by creating new government bureaucracy, the Line-Item Veto, and Congressional salary increases.
1988 - 80 - Voted to over-ride President Reagan's veto of a bill to extend coverage of civil rights laws (Grove City) so that if one part of an institution receives federal funds all parts are subject to those controls, voted to ratify the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (which the ACU opposed), voted for a 60-day plant closing bill to warn workers if their plant is closing no matter what the circumstances are, voted to reject the amendment to decrease funding to the LSC.
1989 - 91 - Voted for the Americans with Disabilities act (which ACU opposed), voted for a motion to table an amendment calling for the ouster of Manuel Noriega.
1990 - 87 - Voted for a bill to overhaul the Hatch Act to bar federal employees from engaging in political activities (ACU opposed the bill), voted for an HHS bill $11.5 billion larger than the President requested, voted for the Clean Air Act which increased federal regulation capability on manufacturing, energy, and increased the cost of those things to consumers.
1991 - 86 - Voted against aid to help promote free market policies in Latin American countries, voted to continue funding of LSC that helps fund 'special interest litigation', voted for a Quota Bill to reverse a SCOTUS decision and put the burden of proof on businesses to demonstrate that they had met quotas for hiring.
1992 - 85 - Voted for a report supporting public money for campaigns, voted to support bilingual balloting for certain language minority populations, voted to over-ride President Bush's veto of the Parental Leave bill and a second bill to re-regulate the cable business which President Bush had vetoed.
1993 - 83 - Voted for the Family and Medical Leave Act, voted for the Campaign Finance bill to provide for public financing of congressional campaigns and put spending limits on races, voted against an amendment that would prohibit support of US troops put under UN command, voted for the Brady Bill. Failed to vote in the confirmation of lesbian activist Roberta Achtenberg to Assistant Secretary of HUD.
1994 - 96 - Voted to invoke cloture on a campaign finance bill to provide public funding for congressional campaigns and finance limits. Did not vote on a bill to kill an amendment to mandate that US loans to the former USSR require collateral and the Goals 2000 education 'voluntary' standards providing 'opportunity to learn' norms to be established by federal boards.
1995 - 91 - Voted for the Ryan White Reauthorization with Kassebaum amendment that stripped out the Helms language preventing funds to be used in promotion of homosexuality or IV drug use, voted to stop a bill prohibiting open-ended support in Bosnia without Congressional authorization of the mission.
1996 - 95 - Voted to invoke cloture on the Welfare for Politicians S 1219 Campaign Finance Reform which would set voluntary spending limits and provide taxpayer subsidies for postage and discounted rates for broadcast time.
1997 - 80 - Voted for the Chemical Weapons Treaty even though it mandated unconstitutional search and seizures and ceded national sovereignty to international agencies, voted for the establishment of National Assessment Governing Board with exclusive authority over voluntary testing in national tests in 4th grade for English and 8th grade for math, voted against a requirement that the American Heritage Rivers Initiative be approved by Congress and end the encroachment of property rights by environmentalists, voted to approve Free Speech Limits in campaigns and change SCOTUS meaning to restrict first amendment rights of issue advocacy groups.
1998 - 68 - Voted to invoke cloture on the Satcher nomination to be US Surgeon General *and* Assistant Secretary for Health in HHS, voted to revise financing for federal campaigns (McCain Amendment) banning soft money, limit candidate self-financing and put restrictions on issue advertising, then voted to ensure the amendment was not tabled, then voted to table an amendment by Olympia Snowe that would replace language defining 'express advocacy' (as seen in the SCOTUS ruling), increase disclosure requirements, and prohibit use of labor or corporate money to broadcast campaign ads shortly before an election. Voted to increase tobacco taxes, then voted for cloture on a bill that would allow the FDA to regulate nicotine and force the industry to pay for anti-smoking advertising. Voted on the McCain amendment to allow US troops to remain in Bosnia without express approval of both Houses of Congress.
1999 - 77 - Voted against an amendment to prohibit courts from issuing orders on civil cases regarding prison condition and that such orders would require prisoners to be released from prison or not admitted to prison if incarcerated for a felony or violating parole, voted against the Tax Cut Package, voted against an amendment ending federal campaign contribution limits, ending public financing and requiring national parties to record amounts sent to candidate and disclose that, voted to continue Overseas Private Investment Corporation that supports loan guarantees overseas. I take an 'A' in the column for votes to be other than positive or negative to the ACU and thus not voting, in which there are 8 instances of this: Local Government Census Review allowing local governments to review census data before it is finalized for housing units and vacancies (this is a Federal not State or Local power), a Tax Limitation Amendment requiring 2/3 majority in House and Senate for a Constitutional Amendment to require a 2/3 majority for any but trivial tax increases (the Amendment failed by 57 votes total, House and Senate), Ground Troops in Bosnia bill requiring that no more funds be authorized unless war is declared, Y2K liability limitations, payment increase to the UN, UN World Heritage Series endangered monuments bill, Physician-Assisted Suicide.
2000 - 81 - Voted for an amendment to delete all tax cuts in the Congressional Budget, voted against limiting troop deployment in Kosovo, voted against Bradley Smith to the FEC (Smith is opposed to federal control of politics), voted to continue IRS requirements to disclose membership in political and policy organizations. Did not vote in 3 matters: Property Rights, S. 625 (killing an amendment allowing federal over-ride of local owner-tenant laws), Educational Savings Accounts, and 2001 Budget Resolution including tax cuts.
2001 - 68 - Voted on his amendment to end the requirement that unions and corporations obtain permission from dues paying members or shareholders before spending money on political activities, also against an amendment requiring a detailed listing by unions and corporations of their political expenditures, and another amendment to lift the ban on soft money and disclosure requirements for issue-based advertising (found unconstitutional). Voted against accelerated removal of the 'marriage penalty' tax, against a temporary reduction in the capital gains tax, and against the Tax Cut bill containing the previous two items plus a phase-out of the federal estate tax. Voted against a Sense of the Senate motion on wishing to remove restrictions on the Medical Savings Account demonstration program. Voted against an amendment that would allow lower health care costs by allowing providers to have participants sign a waiver agreeing not to sue.
2002 - 78 - Voted against a bill to allow States to clear their voter lists every four years so as to remove voters who have not voted in two or more consecutive federal elections, voted against an amendment that would forbid the national government from setting fuel efficiency standards for SUVs and light trucks, voted to pass a bill limiting contributions to national political parties to $2,000 and limit rights of groups and individuals to participate, voted against making the repeal of the Death Tax permanent. Did not vote on 2 items: Democratic Stimulus and Spending Bill and Government Discrimination in Farm Regulations amendment.
2003 - 80 - Voted against the Senate final spending and revenue targets for 2004, voted against phasing out taxes on investments and dividend income, voted against an 11 year tax cut reduction package, voted to enforce US compliance with the Kyoto global warming treaty.
2004 - 72 - Voted against an omnibus spending bill that contained a provision for vouchers to cover tuition at private schools in DC, voted for an amendment to require the States to demonstrate 90% seat buckle use, voted for an amendment prohibiting the sale of handguns without a secure gun storage or safety device, voted for an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits, voted for an amendment to make it more difficult to cut taxes, voted for an increase and an attempt to make mandatory federal funding for programs educating the disabled, voted against legislation moving class action lawsuits of >100 people or $5 million into the federal court system.
2005 - 80 - Voted against an amendment protecting tax cuts, voted for requiring businesses to meet year 2000 'greenhouse gas' emission levels, voted for a joint resolution applying emission standards to existing electrical generation facilities, voted to retain restraints on oil and gas leasing in ANWR, voted for an amendment to raise taxes oil and gas development.
2006 - 65 - Voted for an amendment that would require a 60-vote majority in the Senate to cut taxes, voted against an amendment that would bar illegal immigrants from claiming Social Security credits for work done in years before they had a valid SSN, voted for a bill giving a 'path to citizenship' for illegal aliens, voted against a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, voted for a bill to allow native Hawaiians to set-up 'self-determination' and government to have government-to-government relationships with the US, voted against sanctions on Iran, voted against border fencing, voted for embryonic stem cell research. Did not vote in two instances: Asbestos Trust fund, and the Medical Malpractice motion limiting liability in malpractice cases.
So, over the years John McCain has voted consistently against tax cuts and for making them harder, for unlimited 'peace keeping' operations without Congressional oversight, increasing the size and scope of government in multiple areas (education, air quality emissions, greenhouse gases, quota systems, and regulation of all federal election spending), ignored Constitutional provisions for free speech in campaigns, expanding money to questionable legal services organizations backing advocacy litigation, and would vote even against President Reagan's vetoes... that latter making him that venerable 'maverick' one assumes.
He has voted on many good things, but the instances where he votes to limit the rights of individuals in the areas of basic freedoms (first and second amendments), marginalize State's rights to autonomy within the Union and even vote to factionalize one State government (Hawaii) points to a form of Identity Politics at work... and Nannystate, come to that.
While John McCain has an ACU lifetime of 82.3 (average)...well, I come up with a bit different at 82.1 for the mean, 81 for the median (or center number of the range) with a range of 65 to 96. Graphically it looks something like this:
This is, perhaps, not the graph of a reliable conservative, but an individual who has some conservative values and some others that are not in tune with conservatives at large.
I have, however, enough views outside the 'conservative' realm that are at variance with the general 'conservative' concept in at least two of the three brands (social and fiscal) and only moderate agreement with the third (security) that I am more than likely to have problems with *any* conservative running for High Office. For Sen. McCain, however, I do have other problems with him beyond that of the ACU or the other conservative folks, by and large, and have clearly stated so multiple times.
One of the first was in this piece where, for me, John McCain had hit bottom and was continuing to dig hard and furiously downwards. Some of my concerns are reflected in the ACU view and others are not. For me Sen. McCain's political life is something that bears examination, even while giving him high regard for his time in the armed forces and as POW, that does not gain a Teflon coating and to my view he has never, ever properly explained himself in many areas going all the way back to the Keating Five scandal. In trying to make up for that scandal by 'campaign finance reform', Sen. McCain has lost sight of what it was that needed to be addressed: campaign money influencing actual votes in High Office. The extremely simple route of disclosing all corporate and private source political donors and then not allowing them to author or vote on issues that are of concern to their industries has, somehow, never graced the brow of any of the high-minded 'reformers'. If you accept money from, say, a corporate or union group, then you should be barred from authoring or voting on legislation regarding those groups. That does not take a federal mandate or law and could be set up as a set of rules in the House and Senate Chambers done by the members themselves as they are ALLOWED TO DO. Any union or industry or political lobbyist group or activist organization would be donating so as to get good politicians into office. And campaigns could *refuse* funds from same JUST LIKE THEY CAN DO TODAY.
For all the worries about 'corrupting influence of funding in politics' this extremely simple answer has, somehow, never been put forward by the 'maverick' or any other of the Congresscritters bleating upon the Hill.
Then there is the atrocious ideas that came forward to *try* and regulate free speech on the campaign trail.
Yes the 'I'm the Budweiser Donkey and I approved this message' bit! Gotta love that, no? With 'issue ads' suddenly appearing all over the place because, in the attempt to *restrict money* so that it would not *buy votes* it gave us semi-anonymous groups we would never hear from that served as front organizations to get a message out that, in theory, was 'informative' while, in fact, it was just another form of candidacy advertising done by rich individuals, corporations, and groups. That tag line of being this or that individual/group/corporation and approving the message is all fine and dandy... and hadn't seen the light of day until the idea of 'restricting' donations popped into place. The question of the utility of such thinly disguised 'issue ads' is one that can be considered by the public at large, and that route may have opened in any event, with the modern mass media proving such a heavy sway in politics.
Instead of getting forthright organizations that proudly put forward their donor lists to demonstrate that they really, and for true, stand behind their message, we get, instead, organizations funded by front groups for billionaires, overseas interests and second or third level intermediaries between corporations and unions to politics. That does sound like one other organization that has done this to a fare-thee-well in another realm: the mafia.
Perhaps limiting downstream funding and demonstrating that only a first level organization directly and openly tied to those pushing a message should be allowed? And if those involved want to fund a different message group they can do so *directly* and not through an intermediary. I am, actually, perfectly fine with such advertising and marketing when it is straightforward, above-board and makes no attempt to hide who is actually funding the damned stuff. Make that a felony where a company gets discorporated (yes un-incorporated but the finality sounds better) and that should remove *that* from the lovely idea of political obfuscation: one strike and you are *out*. And some hefty prison terms for those that authorized such things, to boot.
Don't worry, you won't get that from Congress, either. Way, way too simple when you can, instead, infringe upon the average individual's first amendment rights to speech...
I also have problems with Sen. McCain's views and votes on 'the tobacco deal' and Sen. McCain's view about worrying on the influence of tobacco money in Congress could *easily* have been addressed by simple and up-front disclosure by Congresscritters on campaign and lobbyist donations.
Plus making their appointment calendars PUBLIC. It would be handy to know who they meet with while in office, no? They are your representatives in the federal government, but heaven forbid if you find out who they actually MEET WITH. The Media Reformer and Real Reformer hasn't done a thing to actually do any of this 'reforming' and has now formed into something totally other than a 'reformer'.
That, too, will never be seen from the 'maverick' or the other bleating masses of gelatin Upon the Hill: they lack spines.
A prime area of concern for a President is this thing known as 'foreign policy'. Actually, Sen. McCain had a taste of that already with the idea of limiting Nations that we have Treaties with on their activities. Which ones? The Indian Tribes that tried to put up casinos in Arizona. If John McCain can't figure out Treaties with Native Americans, and that they can, indeed, offer things like gambling and tax-free gasoline and cigarettes, and make some money off of the gambling vice, then perhaps he might rethink this idea of actually being able to know what to do with something a bit more complex like Pakistan with at least two major ethnic groups looking for autonomy (or more) and multiple tribes taking sides on different fronts, along with radical Islamic views percolating through it... and nuclear weapons as the big prize behind the National door. If he can't figure out Indian Tribes in Arizona, then I have a hard time seeing how he will deal with Pakistan or Kenya or Indonesia.
For me this idea of 'defending the Nation' starts right at the borders: every other Nation thinks that and we are the only ones asinine enough to not believe that, save Europe which appears to be dissolving internally for the want of 'unity' while allowing in so many disparate ethnic groups that the idea of 'the Balkans' may soon have to include Londonistan and Sweden. And Greenland, come to that. That is why the 2006 and 2007 immigration views are asinine: it is not about race, it is about national security and national sovereignty. With Chinese 'Snakeheads' importing near slave labor into the US for 'closed factories', the idea that there is a single 'ethnic problem' is ludicrous. It is global in scope with folks in the Middle East being able to pay a couple of thousand dollars to get smuggled across the border. And don't mind the jackets with insignia of groups allied to al Qaeda being found in the desert in the US... I'm sure they were a complete mistake. As we have started to see in Oklahoma and elsewhere - if we enforce the laws, the majority of illegals will 'self-deport' back home and we are then left with the intractable criminal (and terrorist) problem which, today, we have ZERO handle on due being lost in the noise of so many here illegally. And *rewarding* those here illegally will NOT STOP THE FLOW. To stop the flow one must, in actuality, stop the flow.
Walls make damned good neighbors. Sensor arrays are cheap. So are those lovely close-in weapons systems the British have reworked for anti-small ship work from their original anti-missile work. Wall, sensors and NORTHCOM, so the border patrol can ensure that those coming through the actual and legal ports of entry are who they say they are. That is cheaper than building a nuclear aircraft carrier *hull*. And even if we are, in the long term, wrong-headed for doing so, it then leaves us with a monument to our utter folly... one that we can enjoy because we did stand up to have a Nation with borders and enforce not only the rule of law but the Law of Nations.
And since I have mentioned *that*, what is it with Sen. McCain and the rest of the wool covered, gelatinous, bleating masses Upon the Hill bleating about having difficulties with *terrorism*? Their Article I, Section 8 powers specifically mention one tract of information and one particular text known as the Law of Nations (not the lower case assumed law of nations, but the uppercase Title and particular citation sitting right there in the US Constitution where we all ignore it). This is a generalized society level problem, however, as we are too advanced to remember what Nations are about and what their duties and responsibilities are not only between Nations and within Nations, but citizens within Nations to other Nations. In our lovely multi-culti 'hug everyone, criticize no one' world of Sen. McCain views, where Americans won't pick lettuce of $50/hour... and even if he *meant* $15/hour it is a slur and insult to the American working population... in that world where nice folks only out of desperation because they are too incompetent to stage a revolution to get rid of inept or dictatorial government at home come to the US to be incompetent, the idea is that Nations *matter* and you do *not* get to break the agreements set up by your Nation with other Nations. International lawlessness starts, at home, with the individual and then is held accountable by other Nations in their laws when individuals break the Law of Nations. In that act, even if it is not one done in violence, there is violence done to the concept of Nations by those individuals willing to break down international law to 'find a job'. To each and every individual who points to such things as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: it applies to Nations and the Nationals within them and those foreigners there legally. It does not and cannot apply to those who break international law by their actions as they are left up to the Nation they affect to deal with as that Nation sees fit.
Terrorism is something that, under the Art. I, Sec. 8 powers, Congress can deal with on the 'civil side' of things: it is given for Congress to put laws against Private War as it is a contravention of the Law of Nations. While the explicit immigration and Naturalization language is given to Congress, that would also be kept under the more general Law of Nations penalties, so that illegal aliens could be dealt with via either means. So, too, is the lawlessness of Private War given to Congress on the 'civil side' as it is not Public War in which it can make military rules about. Just as Piracy had to be dealt with via either the apprehension or killing of those outlaws, so, too, are terrorists in that same category as they both fit under the umbrella of Private War. Sen. McCain is used to Public War against Nations as are all of our contemporaries: even though we feel the lash and pain of Private War we can no longer name it for the outlawry that it IS. And, as with Piracy, 'civil law' covers those that are either captured by civil society (police, bounty hunters, etc.) and then put to civil justice so that they get one, and only one, opportunity to demonstrate that they are not part of an organization waging Private War. That was done with Piracy so that those falsely accused could *clear their names* and the reason we remember Captain Morgan who was branded Pirate for a land based attack is that he went back to London, stood trial and *cleared his name*. Got Knighted to boot. On the military side, however, as these are not civil enemies, but enemies against all society, it is left to the military commander to promulgate what should be done with such miscreants. One President has clearly and unequivocally put forward that as Commander of the Armies and the Navies, that those waging Private War are considered Pirates. That President offers the most succinct view of how to deal with military targets that are *captured* waging Private War against the Union and it is not a President we would expect it from: Abraham Lincoln.
If Sen. McCain (R-AZ) cannot abide by the way the Nation was set up and the military view of Private War prosecuted against the US to be handled by the President as something outside the Public War arena, then he will try to muddle that clarity given to the United States by one of the greatest Republicans and a founder of the Republican Party. Terrorists put themselves into the Outlaw position: not mere criminality but outside the protection of civil law and reverting to the law of nature. Those that wage Private War, of all stripes, are an abomination to civilization and President Lincoln gave battlefield soldiers the ability to do summary justice based on finding them as they were. If Sen. McCain thinks that those breaking international law during wartime by abusing prisoners in Vietnam are bad, then terrorists who threaten all the Nations of mankind by declaring war against them are something far worse than mere treaty violators: they repudiate civilization itself.
I can, have and *do* blame both parties and, indeed, most of the modern era for wanting to give up the fabric of civilization in an ephemeral quest to have a lovely transnational world where everyone has the exact same freedoms of the Chinese, the wealth of Namibians and the health of whatever the State decides to give you. By looking to higher taxes, expanded government and less National Sovereignty, Sen. John McCain has demonstrated by his votes and outlook over more than two decades that this is actually what he supports. When the Congress of 1986 promised, from the seat of power Upon the Hill, to actually do something to secure the borders and 20 years later we have Sen. McCain trotting out an *amnesty* plan because that hasn't been done, the very best that I can call all those who have sat that long and done nothing is "Seatwarmers". And trotting it out *again* makes them Incompetent Seatwarmers for they cannot even do their jobs to establish justice and ensure that it is done. That includes each and every Congresscritter who has matriculated through Congress since 1986 and applies multifold to those who were IN that Congress and had that Congress make a pledge to the American People that they would do their JOBS. Not that Sen. McCain can actually remember what that job *is* most days as he is a bit too busy being high minded about how he can raise taxes and increase spending to actually worry about the rest of the job description that he and the rest of Congress gets.
And when Sen. McCain trots out his views on COIN, I take that with a hefty sack of salt as he puts forward something that could not be done with the forces of the Union at that time because conditions were changing rapidly and we did not have the manpower to actually have more forces in the field. And it was the self-same Sen. McCain that was so hot for a 'peace dividend' that he was willing to cut more than the President wanted from the budget and claim to be a 'conservative' because he wouldn't cut as much as the D party wanted to! While a 'conservative' realizes that a studied view of what the proper force size should be is done *first* and then the forces adjusted to fit those views, not the other way around. That left the US with two entire Army Divisions, one of which was the 10MD , so badly hung out to dry in Bosnia for so long because Sen. McCain didn't want to keep President Clinton accountable. Thus his votes to reduce the force size and readiness along with the impact of long-term 'peace keeping' that Congress would not actually put any oversight upon, meant that when 9/11 rolled around, the foremost Army division for Mountain Warfare was *still* recovering from the abuse it had suffered to put it at the lowest readiness status ever seen since Vietnam. If he stood true to not wanting to ever repeat that experience for the Armed Forces of the Union, then he should have held President Clinton accountable and *not* allowed the US Army to be hung out to dry by a neglectful CinC and a Congress that didn't want to pay for that neglect... a Congress that he sat in as a Senator.
I will not be voting for Sen. McCain for *anything* and that goes for the rest of the Congresscritters Upon the Hill. They have all reached the end of the Peter Principle and their incompetence is vast and unwieldy as it stands, thus they are at the pinnacle of their careers. Like Sen. Clinton, however, Sen. McCain gets especial view, but in his case it is not for being a sociopath, but for being deceitful and seeking to increase the size, scope and power of government over the common man while gesturing as a 'hawk' and then wielding the knife in the background, and then claiming none of the problems he has helped cause have any accountability to him. In using first illegal alien amnesty and then the armed forces as political footballs in the 1990's, we have reaped a Nation that has porous borders and stood less than ready to respond to Private War brought hard to our shores one bright September morn. What a difference a single Mountain Division could have made in Afghanistan sent quickly and efficiently to deal with dangers only it could be prepared to know. By doing this we have seen erosion of the rule of law and such lessened respect for the US that those seeking to attack us felt they could do so with impunity. And the worse part is that those connections between Charles Keating and BCCI continue to echo throughout the enemies of the Nation and the support given by one Senator who was never held to account for his part in it. Many of the greatest foes of the US took part in BCCI... and because of those high level connections in government we may never know the full extent of how easily our enemies traded for the means to go after liberty and freedom on a regional and global basis. And I am sure that is *just* the way Sen. McCain likes it... he has 'reformed' since then.
And it is a form I do not like in the slightest.