Spike Lee’s "Miracle at St. Anna" Draws Ire of Italian Partisan Organizations, To Stage Protest at Film’s Italian Premiere

I don’t know how many people have gone out to see Spike Lee’s new movie “Miracle at St. Anna,” which bombed miserably at the weekend box office, but there is a controversy brewing in Italy. According to U.K.’s Times Online, Italian partisan organizations are to stage protests tomorrow at the Italian premiere of the film, which they say is full of lies, and insults the memory of the Italian Resistance during the Second World War.

Some have said that the film is very controversial. It is being shown first at Viareggio on the Tuscan coast, close to the village of Sant’ Anna di Stazzema in the Apennine hills above, where 560 civilians — including women and children — were murdered in cold blood in August 1944 by Nazi SS troops as they retreated northwards in the face of the Allied advance.

The movie, which highlights the role of African-American soldiers in the war, suggests that anti-Fascist partisans indirectly caused the atrocity by first taking refuge in the village and then abandoning the villagers to their fate. It even shows a partisan named Rodolfo collaborating with the Nazis. This runs directly counter to the accepted Italian version of events, which is that the slaughter was not a reprisal but an unprovoked act of brutality and that the hunt for partisans was a pretext.

The movie also questions one of the founding myths of Italy’s postwar democracy, which holds that the help the partisans gave to the Allies regained Italy the honour it had lost under Benito Mussolini, the Fascist dictator, by allying itself with Hitler and Nazi Germany. No doubt this has ruffled many feathers in Italy and I suspect the same for Italian-Americans as well.

James McBride, the black American Second World War veteran who wrote the novel on which Mr Lee’s film is based, said: “I am very sorry if I have offended the partisans. I have enormous respect for them. As a black American, I understand what it’s like for someone to tell your history, and they are not you.” He added: “But unfortunately, the history of World War II here in Italy is ours as well, and this was the best I could do … it is after all a work of fiction, not a history book.”

Spike Lee was also unrepentant, saying: “I am not apologizing for anything.” He told Italians that there was clearly “a lot about your history you have yet to come to grips with … This film is our interpretation, and I stand behind it.” Isn’t Spike Lee the same person who came down on Clint Eastwood about his movies “Letters from Iwo Jima” and “Flags of Our Fathers?”

According to Times Online, Lee said that the film, which follows the fate of four black GIs, was intended “to restore the voice of black soldiers who fought in the war.” He said that “not all Italians admired the partisans”, many of whom had fled to the mountains and left civilians to face the Nazis. “I have not invented anything,” he declared. The partisans in Italy feel that the film was a false reconstruction and a travesty of history and should not be tolerated.

The film has so far been given a mixed reception in the US, where in its first week it took only $3.5 million at the box office. Six former SS officers were sentenced to life in absentia three years ago for the Sant’ Anna atrocity. The prosecutions followed the discovery by a journalist in 1994 of a cabinet in the Rome military archives — dubbed “the cabinet of shame” — which contained evidence of war crimes hushed up by successive postwar Italian governments in order not to revive hostility towards Germany, by then a democratic member of the EU and NATO.

Well, I haven’t seen the movie, but for those of you who have, any thoughts?

John McCain Seems Like A Deer Caught Between Headlights After Bailout Debacle

I would hate to be in Republican Presidential candidate John McCain’s shoes at this time. He rode into Washington D.C. last weekend with such swagger. As the knight come to save his princess–the American economy. But in essence, he left like a spurned groom. He has managed to maneuver himself into a political dead end, with no seemingly surefire and plausible way of getting out.

Last Wednesday, he suspended his presidential campaign to insert himself into a $700 billion effort to rescue America’s crumbling financial structure. He basically tied himself far more tightly to the bill than did his Democratic opponent, Barack Obama and he has more to lose in its failure to pass the House of Representatives. His own fellow Republicans killed it in more ways than one. To put it quite simply, the Republican Party has no leader and it is in disarray. Not even John McCain could rally the troops. It is safe to say that no-one is listening to President Bush at this point. He is essentially a non-entity.

John McCain literally stabbed himself in the foot with his actions. This speaks to his judgment. As the bailout plan appeared ready for passage Monday in the House, McCain bragged that he was an action-oriented Teddy Roosevelt Republican who did not sit on the sidelines at a moment of crisis. The implication: that he played a critical role in building bipartisan support for the unprecedented bailout. “I went to Washington last week to make sure that the taxpayers of Ohio and across this great country were not left footing the bill for mistakes made on Wall Street and in Washington,” McCain said at a campaign rally in the swing state of Ohio. Little did he know at that point that his own Republicans was going to literally throw him under the bus.

When the news about the bill’s failure broke, media reports said that initially, McCain went silent, choosing instead to send his chief economic adviser out with a statement that blamed Obama, claiming that the first-term Illinois senator had put his political ambitions ahead of the good of the country. “This bill failed because Barack Obama and the Democrats put politics ahead of country,” McCain senior policy adviser Doug Holtz-Eakin said. Wow, something this major that affects so many people globally is being blamed on Nancy Pelosi’s statements? Totally ridiculous that these adults could have such a narrow view and take what she said personal enough to deter them from voting on a bill that would supposedly help millions of Americans and financial institutions? Do we have crybabies as our elected officials representing the American people?

The “Straight Talk Express” and his team better tread very carefully for the next five weeks. Obama had predicted trouble last week when he said the four-term Arizona senator was wrongly inserting red-hot presidential politics into a critical bailout plan even as the package was finding little support among voters. Either John McCain is desperate or just plain stupid. We cannot afford to take the risk to elect him and Caribou Barbie, Sarah Palin, as the next president and vice president. The U.S. has already lost its footing in the world and President Bush is literally reviled in many countries. John McCain and Sarah Palin would perpetuate that feeling and we simply cannot afford to wing it with these two. He has quite clearly stated that he does not understand the issues confronting the economy. Now, would you send a sprinter into the ring with a sumo wrestler?

After the House vote, Obama, while campaigning in swing-state Colorado, said that McCain had “fought against commonsense regulations for decades, he’s called for less regulation 20 times just this year, and he said in a recent interview that he thought deregulation has actually helped grow our economy.””Senator, what economy are you talking about?” Obama said. Sensing Obama’s advantage, spokesman Bill Burton piled on: “This is a moment of national crisis, and today’s inaction in Congress as well as the angry and hyper-partisan statement released by the McCain campaign are exactly why the American people are disgusted with Washington.” Isn’t John McCain the same person who has stated repeatedly that Senator Obama does not understand much of anything? Geez, let me see, isn’t this coming from the same person who graduated at the bottom of their class? McCain had no clue then and has none now. Why should we trust him with the economy after the Bush Administration has plundered it?

Sarah Palin Makes Yet Another Gaffe, Can’t Name Another Supreme Court Case Except Roe vs. Wade

Gov. Sarah Palin never ceases to amaze me of how low she can go and remind us of how low John McCain has set the bar. Well, the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz reported on potentially embarrassing clips of the governor being interviewed by Katie Couric that haven’t yet aired. I am sure this latest gaffe is of serious concern to the McCain camp.

According to the Huffington Post, the Palin aide, after first noting how “infuriating” it was for CBS to purportedly leak word about the gaffe, revealed that it came in response to a question about Supreme Court decisions.

After noting Roe vs. Wade, Palin was apparently unable to discuss any major court cases. Wow. Is this the mover and shaker that took the world by storm?

There was no verbal fumbling with this particular question as there was with some others, the aide said, but rather silence.

Yes, folks, do you still trust this woman to be the next vice president?

Thirty-Three Pastors Including, Rev. Ron Johnson Jr., Defy Federal Law Prohibiting Endorsing a Political Candidate From the Pulpit

I believe that there should be a separation of church and state. Though the civil rights movement was clearly borne out of a religious persuasion, nonetheless, I do not think it is right for a pastor to tell his congregants who to vote for in any election. Additionally, the U.S. clergy, under federal law, are prohibited from endorsing political candidates from the pulpit. Despite that fact, 33 pastors are openly defying such a law. For example, according to the Washington Post, Rev. Ron Johnson Jr., an evangelical minister told his congregation Sunday that voting for Sen. Barack Obama would be evidence of “severe moral schizophrenia.” Is that really the job of a pastor?

According to the Washington Post, he told worshipers that the Democratic presidential nominee’s positions on abortion and gay partnerships exist “in direct opposition to God’s truth as He has revealed it in the Scriptures.” Johnson showed slides contrasting the candidates’ views but stopped short of endorsing Obama’s Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain. I think he has clearly crossed the line and the Internal Revenue Service ought to revoke his church’s tax exempt status because he is now openly campaigning for John McCain.

According to the Washington Post, Johnson and 32 other pastors across the country set out Sunday to break the rules, hoping to generate a legal battle that will prompt federal courts to throw out a 54-year-old ban on political endorsements by tax-exempt houses of worship. The ministers contend they have a constitutional right to advise their worshipers how to vote. As Johnson put it during a break between sermons, “The point that the IRS says you can’t do it, I’m saying you’re wrong.”

The campaign, organized by the Alliance Defense Fund, a socially conservative legal consortium based in Arizona, has gotten the attention of the Internal Revenue Service. The agency, alerted by opponents, pledged to “monitor the situation and take action as appropriate.”

It seems as though each campaign season brings allegations that a member of the clergy has crossed a line set out in a 1954 amendment to the tax code that says nonprofit, tax-exempt entities may not “participate in, or intervene in . . . any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office.”

The problem is that this time around, the church action is concerted. Yet while the ministers say the rules stifle religious expression, their opponents contend that the tax laws are essential to protect the separation of church and state. They say political speech should not be supported by a tax break for the churches or the worshipers who are contributing to a political cause. Gee, is this what God would want them to do? I don’t see how these pastors can claim emphatically that one candidate is a devout, God-fearing Christian more than the other.

In an open letter Saturday, a United Church of Christ minister, the Rev. Eric Williams, warned that many members of the clergy are “exchanging their historic religious authority for a fleeting promise of political power,” to the detriment of their churches.

More from the Washington Post article:

“The role of the church — of congregation, synagogue, temple and mosque — and of its religious leaders is to stand apart from government, to prophetically speak truth to power,” Williams wrote, “and to encourage a national dialogue that transcends the divisiveness of electoral politics and preserves for every citizen our ‘first liberty.’ “

In the modern red-brick Living Stones Church in Crown Point, a town of 28,000 residents 50 miles southeast of Chicago, Johnson explained why he thinks a minister should dispense political advice. He then laid out his view of the positions of Obama and McCain on abortion and same-sex marriage, which he called two issues “that transcend all others.””We want people when you prick them, they bleed the word of God,” Johnson said.

Johnson said ministers have a responsibility to guide their flocks in worldly matters, including politics, calling the dichotomy between the secular and the sacred a myth: “The issue is not ‘Are we legislating morality?’ This issue is ‘Whose morality are we legislating?”

Personally, I have no objections to a pastor endorsing a candidate, but it needs to be done outside the church, synagogue or mosque. A church should not be used as a place of political agitation of any kind. People are old enough to vote for whom they choose. I don’t need a pastor trying to influence every facet of my life and try to take away my freedom of expression and choice. In my opinion, endorsing a candidate from the pulpit is essentially saying that the pastor’s view is to be the credo by which I should live. Senator Obama is no less a Christian than John McCain. If you are going to call Barack Obama out because of his views, then the same must be done for John McCain, with all his faults. These pastors are forgetting that David, Moses, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Mary Magdalene, and I could go on and on, were used for great things, despite their outlook and their actions. Moses was a murderer. David committed adultery. Mary Magdalene was a prostitute. God did not look down on any of these people and for a pastor to say that Barack Obama is not a good candidate because he supports same-sex marriage and abortion, is akin to saying that God has no place in his church for sinners.

Time and time again we have seen cases in which the very pastors that tell us how we should act and live, are the very ones that have the most serious issues and sins. Ron Sailor plundered his church and laundered money. Bishop Earl Paulk had illicit affairs with women in his congregation, even fathering a child with his brother’s wife. I could cite many more pastors, but the fact remains that they need to tend to the souls of their congregants and not try to dictate for whom they should vote in an election.

To read the entire article, CLICK HERE

Nathaniel "Nate" Taylor Jr., Chicago Police, Fatally Shot While Tried to Execute Warrant to Felon Lamar Cooper

I hate to see anyone shot and killed, but when a cop is killed trying to do his job, that is truly sad. Well, Nathaniel Taylor Jr., known by his friends as “Nate,” was killed by a convicted felon as officers attempted to execute a search warrant, police said. Police shot suspect Lamar Cooper, 37, who was in critical condition Sunday night. I hate to say it, but that scumbag wasn’t worth the loss of life of the cop.

According to the Chicago Sun Times, undercover officers waited outside the home of a Southeast Side drug suspect early Sunday to try to nab him outside, which is considered generally safer than approaching the front door. The surveillance ended with a Taylor was fatally shot on the street, struck by the suspect’s fire as the man pulled up in his vehicle, police said.

Several sources told the Sun Times that the officers announced they were police, and Cooper opened fire. He had two packets of drugs in his mouth, possibly cocaine, in an apparent attempt to destroy evidence, sources said. The suspect’s handgun was recovered at the scene, police said.

Taylor was hit three times, once in the head, another source said. Police fired back, striking the suspect — a felon with an attempted murder conviction, the source said. Drugs, weapons and a bullet-proof vest were found inside the man’s home, a police source said. What a scumbag!

The officer, a 14 year veteran, was assigned to investigate gang intelligence and was detailed to narcotics. “He was loved by his partners and his teammates,” said Leo Schmitz, acting deputy chief of the Organized Crime Division. Taylor, who was one of three Chicago officers to be killed since July, died about 6 p.m. at the hospital.

Police were watching Cooper because of intelligence suggesting he was selling drugs late at night into early morning. His brick Georgian home had what appeared to be six security cameras affixed to front, side and rear exterior walls. A sign on the front lawn warned the premises are protected by a burglar alarm, and a Neighborhood Watch placard was in the front window. Three signs on a tall fence surrounding the yard announced the home is guarded by security dogs. Cooper also has convictions for burglary, unlawful use of a weapon and possession of a firearm, police said.

According to the Sun Times, Cooper and his wife, Octavia often visited an area mosque. Another sorry excuse that they will no-doubt use to say that he is God-fearing. Please. The man is a scumbag and he will be taken off the streets for murder. Several neighbors said Cooper lives in the home with his wife, a 2-year-old daughter and a 10-year-old stepson, and makes a living working construction and doing odd jobs.

According to public records, Cooper was first convicted of burglary in 1989 and got 4 years’ probation. In 1991, he was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to 6 years in prison. He was again convicted of burglary in 2003 and sentenced to six years in prison, but was released late the next year. I hope they throw the book at him. As a parent, what kind of example is he setting for his daughter and stepson? He murdered a man doing his job and he has snatched him away from his family.

Gov. Sarah Palin Was a Freebie Queen During Tenure as Wasilla’s Mayor

So, the people who are digging through Gov. Sarah Palin’s background are indeed finding some very relevant facts that she should be confronted with on the campaign trail, but John McCain won’t let the media get too close to her. Hmmm, I wonder why? Well, Sarah Palin seemed to be the “freebie queen” during her tenure as Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska. You know, the town with 6,715 residents where she garnered her vice presidential experience. According to the Huffington Post, when Gov. Palin needed to sell her home on Lake Wasilla during her last year as mayor, she got the city to sign off on a special zoning exception– and did so without keeping a promise to remove a potential fire hazard. She gladly accepted gifts from merchants: A free “awesome facial” she raved about in a thank-you note to a spa. The “absolutely gorgeous flowers” she received from a welding supply store. Even fresh salmon to take home.

According to the Huffington Post, she also stepped in to help friends or neighbors with City Hall dealings. She asked the City Council to add a friend to the list of speakers at a 2002 meeting– and then the friend got up and asked them to give his radio station advertising business. As the records show, that year she tried to help a neighbor and political contributor fighting City Hall over his small lakeside development. Palin wanted the city to refund some of the man’s fees, but the city attorney told the mayor she didn’t have the authority.

Some of her first actions after being elected mayor in 1996 raised possible ethical red flags: She cast the tie-breaking vote to propose a tax exemption on aircraft when her father-in-law owned one, and backed the city’s repeal of all taxes a year later on planes, snow machines and other personal property. She also asked the council to consider looser rules for snow machine races. Palin and her husband, Todd, a champion racer, co-owned a snow machine store at the time. Wow, what solid experience does she have in being fair and ethical!

Palin often told the City Council of her personal involvement in such issues, but that didn’t stop her from pressing them, according to minutes of council meetings. She sometimes followed a cautious path in the face of real or potential conflicts– for example, stepping away from the table in 1997 when the council considered a grant for the Iron Dog snow machine race in which her husband competes. Aww geez, what a trooper!

As excerpted from the Huffington Post:

She took an active role on issues that directly affected and sometimes benefited her. Her efforts to clear the way for the $327,000 sale of the Palin family home on Lake Wasilla is an example. According to media reports, two months before Palin’s tenure as mayor ended in 2002, she asked city planning officials to forgive zoning violations so she could sell her house. Palin had a buyer, but he wouldn’t close the deal unless she persuaded the city to waive the violations with a code variance.

The Palins, who were finishing work on a new waterfront house on Lake Lucille about two miles away, asked the city for the variance. The request was opposed by one planning official and some neighbors.”I would ask that the Wasilla Planning Commission apply the exact same rules in this situation that it would apply to other similar requests so that our community can see that being a public figure does not give anyone special benefits,” urged neighbor Clyde Boyer Jr. in a 2002 note to the city.

The Palins’ house was built by the original owner too close to the shoreline and too close to adjacent properties on each side, including a carport that stretched so far over it nearly connected the two houses. The Palins didn’t create the zoning problems, but they should have known about them when they bought the house, wrote Susan Lee, a code compliance officer with the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, in response to the Palins’ request. The borough, similar to a county government, makes recommendations to the city, which has final say.

Lee, in recommending the city reject the request, noted that the exception was needed to resolve an “inconvenience” the Palins experienced while trying to sell their house. In 1989, another borough planner told a previous owner that a variance for the carport couldn’t be approved because it didn’t meet required conditions and was a potential fire hazard.

But in August 2002, Wasilla Planner Tim Krug approved a “shoreline setback exception” for the Palins’ house being built too closely to the water. He sent an e-mail to the mayor saying he was drafting another variance for the side of the house built too close to the property line, but that he understood from her that the other side “will be corrected and the carport will be removed.” Krug asked Palin to let him know if he was wrong in his impression that the carport would be removed. A few minutes later, the mayor e-mailed back: “Sounds good.”

On Sept. 10, 2002, the seven-member Wasilla Planning Commission unanimously approved a variance for both sides of the property, with language covering “all existing structures.” Less than a week later, the Palins signed a deed to sell the house to Henry Nosek. The carport was never removed.

So, is this the woman who has better judgment and would be impartial as the vice president if McCain wins in a few weeks? The McCain camp is painting as a maverick, a mover and shaker, a reformer. Of what? So, she fought with Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, BP Plc, among others over the Prudhoe Bay matter. Exactly what does that mean for experience? Secondly she can see Russia from Alaska and they call that foreign experience? People look at what she has done and think about the things she has said during interviews, that’s the essence of Sarah Palin and I don’t think this woman should be considered presidential material because she clearly isn’t. Would you want her to get that 3 am call if John McCain is incapacitated for any reason if he wins the election? Actually, I seriously doubt he will, but hypothetically speaking, that is.

Victoria Beckham’s Gravity Defying Thigh-High PVC Boots Stop Traffic in the Big Apple

I usually steer clear of celebrity-type news, but when I read about and saw Victoria Beckham, commonly known as Posh Spice’s boots, I had to say DAYUM! According the the U.K. Mail, Posh and her husband didn’t disappoint as they showed up to an event promoting her perfume. She was stuffed into a pair of skin-tight, thigh-high PVC boots, balancing five 1/2 inches high — without heels. Dayum! I am nauseous just looking at them. I don’t know whether this is a fashion statement or a major disaster waiting to happen, but hey, I suppose she pulled off a major coup.

How she managed to stay upright is beyond me. As she tottered along in her incredible Berardi boots David held his wife’s hand in a supporting manner, perhaps to stop her tripping over. Yeah, I guess was the only thing he could do to keep her from embarrassing them both. So who is this person who designed these boots? English-Italian Berardi is an old friend of the Beckhams and made the couple’s post-ceremony outfits for their wedding.

The 40-year-old designer started the heel-less shoe revolution in the summer with a $3,500 sandal bought by Beckham, Uma Thurman and Gwyneth Paltrow. But he believes the radical designs do not mean new levels of pain for fashion-following women.’They are perfectly balanced,’ he said. ‘When the girls come for fittings, they look a bit daunted, but by the end they say it’s just like wearing a regular shoe.”They are graceful and there is a ballerina nature about them. Having a heel is really just psychological.’ Really? They look scary to me. Celebrities will do anything to stand out from the crowd. I guess that is their allure, even though it seems crazy to me.

Did John McCain Engage in a Little Barnyard Talk During the Debates?

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, things may have gotten a little country during the Presidential debates Friday night. A YouTube video is making the rounds catches Republican presidential nominee John McCain uttering an under-his-breath reference to what sounds like horseshit in response to a Barack Obama point about the prime minister of Spain.

Well, judge for yourself. The fact still remains that Barack Obama called him out on a major gaffe. Once again, is John McCain really a viable choice for the highest office in this country? It this trigger-finger, gambling so-called maverick and his sidekick Caribou Barbie and her shadow, Todd Palin the best the Republican Party could come up with?

NY Times: John McCain, Team Have Many Ties to Gambling Industry

Well, I can see why John McCain has taken so many “Hail Mary” passes in this campaign. He has an affinity to gambling and I suspect that would be the way he would govern as president. He understands how to roll the dice, not the economic issues confronting the U.S., just how to roll a dice. Well, the latest dustup comes courtesy of a New York Times article that said that Senator John McCain was on a roll. In a room reserved for high-stakes gamblers at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut, he tossed $100 chips around a hot craps table. When the marathon session ended around 2:30 a.m., the Arizona senator and his entourage emerged with thousands of dollars in winnings.

It seems that he has deep connections to the gambling industry. According to the NY Times, Mr. McCain supported tax breaks for casinos over the years, including one that helped Foxwoods in Connecticut. He has also gambled there. A lifelong gambler, he takes risks, both on and off the craps table. He was throwing dice that night not long after his failed 2000 presidential bid, in which he was skewered by the Republican Party’s evangelical base, opponents of gambling. Mr. McCain was betting at a casino he oversaw as a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, and he was doing so with the lobbyist who represents that casino, according to three associates of Mr. McCain. So, why hasn’t the Obama campaign dug this little gem up and tossed it out there for voters to see. Would rather have a career gambler as your president? I think not. President Bush has gambled billions of taxpayer dollars for eight years and where has it gotten us today? In an abyss.

More from the NY Times article:

The visit to the casino had been arranged by the lobbyist, Scott Reed, who works for the Mashantucket Pequot, a tribe that has contributed heavily to Mr. McCain’s campaigns and built Foxwoods into the world’s second-largest casino. Joining them was Rick Davis, Mr. McCain’s current campaign manager. Their night of good fortune epitomized not just Mr. McCain’s affection for gambling, but also the close relationship he has built with the gambling industry and its lobbyists during his 25-year career in Congress.

As a two-time chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, Mr. McCain has done more than any other member of Congress to shape the laws governing America’s casinos, helping to transform the once-sleepy Indian gambling business into a $26-billion-a-year behemoth with 423 casinos across the country. He has won praise as a champion of economic development and self-governance on reservations.

“One of the founding fathers of Indian gaming” is what Steven Light, a University of North Dakota professor and a leading Indian gambling expert, called Mr. McCain.

As factions of the ferociously competitive gambling industry have vied for an edge, they have found it advantageous to cultivate a relationship with Mr. McCain or hire someone who has one, according to an examination based on more than 70 interviews and thousands of pages of documents.

Mr. McCain portrays himself as a Washington maverick unswayed by special interests, referring recently to lobbyists as “birds of prey.” Yet in his current campaign, more than 40 fund-raisers and top advisers have lobbied or worked for an array of gambling interests — including tribal and Las Vegas casinos, lottery companies and online poker purveyors.

When rules being considered by Congress threatened a California tribe’s planned casino in 2005, Mr. McCain helped spare the tribe. Its lobbyist, who had no prior experience in the gambling industry, had a nearly 20-year friendship with Mr. McCain.

In Connecticut that year, when a tribe was looking to open the state’s third casino, staff members on the Indian Affairs Committee provided guidance to lobbyists representing those fighting the casino, e-mail messages and interviews show. The proposed casino, which would have cut into the Pequots’ market share, was opposed by Mr. McCain’s colleagues in Connecticut.

Mr. McCain declined to be interviewed. In written answers to questions, his campaign staff said he was “justifiably proud” of his record on regulating Indian gambling. “Senator McCain has taken positions on policy issues because he believed they are in the public interest,” the campaign said.

Mr. McCain’s spokesman, Tucker Bounds, would not discuss the senator’s night of gambling at Foxwoods, saying: “Your paper has repeatedly attempted to insinuate impropriety on the part of Senator McCain where none exists — and it reveals that your publication is desperately willing to gamble away what little credibility it still has.”

Over his career, Mr. McCain has taken on special interests, like big tobacco, and angered the capital’s powerbrokers by promoting campaign finance reform and pushing to limit gifts that lobbyists can shower on lawmakers. On occasion, he has crossed the gambling industry on issues like regulating slot machines.

Perhaps no episode burnished Mr. McCain’s image as a reformer more than his stewardship three years ago of the Congressional investigation into Jack Abramoff, the disgraced Republican Indian gambling lobbyist who became a national symbol of the pay-to-play culture in Washington. The senator’s leadership during the scandal set the stage for the most sweeping overhaul of lobbying laws since Watergate.

“I’ve fought lobbyists who stole from Indian tribes,” the senator said in his speech accepting the Republican presidential nomination this month.

But interviews and records show that lobbyists and political operatives in Mr. McCain’s inner circle played a behind-the-scenes role in bringing Mr. Abramoff’s misdeeds to Mr. McCain’s attention — and then cashed in on the resulting investigation. The senator’s longtime chief political strategist, for example, was paid $100,000 over four months as a consultant to one tribe caught up in the inquiry, records show.

Mr. McCain’s campaign said the senator acted solely to protect American Indians, even though the inquiry posed “grave risk to his political interests.”

As public opposition to tribal casinos has grown in recent years, Mr. McCain has distanced himself from Indian gambling, Congressional and American Indian officials said.

But he has rarely wavered in his loyalty to Las Vegas, where he counts casino executives among his close friends and most prolific fund-raisers. “Beyond just his support for gaming, Nevada supports John McCain because he’s one of us, a Westerner at heart,” said Sig Rogich, a Nevada Republican kingmaker who raised nearly $2 million for Mr. McCain at an event at his home in June.

Only six members of Congress have received more money from the gambling industry than Mr. McCain, and five hail from the casino hubs of Nevada and New Jersey, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics dating back to 1989. In the presidential race, Senator Barack Obama has also received money from the industry; Mr. McCain has raised almost twice as much.

In May 2007, as Mr. McCain’s presidential bid was floundering, he spent a weekend at the MGM Grand on the Las Vegas strip. A fund-raiser hosted by J. Terrence Lanni, the casino’s top executive and a longtime friend of the senator, raised $400,000 for his campaign. Afterward, Mr. McCain attended a boxing match and hit the craps tables.

For much of his adult life, Mr. McCain has gambled as often as once a month, friends and associates said, traveling to Las Vegas for weekend betting marathons. Former senior campaign officials said they worried about Mr. McCain’s patronage of casinos, given the power he wields over the industry. The officials, like others interviewed for this article, spoke on condition of anonymity.

“We were always concerned about appearances,” one former official said. “If you go around saying that appearances matter, then they matter.”

The former official said he would tell Mr. McCain: “Do we really have to go to a casino? I don’t think it’s a good idea. The base doesn’t like it. It doesn’t look good. And good things don’t happen in casinos at midnight.”

“You worry too much,” Mr. McCain would respond, the official said.

A Record of Support

In one of their last conversations, Representative Morris K. Udall, Arizona’s powerful Democrat, whose devotion to American Indian causes was legendary, implored his friend Mr. McCain to carry on his legacy.

“Don’t forget the Indians,” Mr. Udall, who died in 1998, told Mr. McCain in a directive that the senator has recounted to others.

More than a decade earlier, Mr. Udall had persuaded Mr. McCain to join the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. Mr. McCain, whose home state has the third-highest Indian population, eloquently decried the “grinding poverty” that gripped many reservations.

The two men helped write the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 after the Supreme Court found that states had virtually no right to control wagering on reservations. The legislation provided a framework for the oversight and growth of Indian casinos: In 1988, Indian gambling represented less than 1 percent of the nation’s gambling revenues; today it captures more than one third.

On the Senate floor after the bill’s passage, Mr. McCain said he personally opposed Indian gambling, but when impoverished communities “are faced with only one option for economic development, and that is to set up gambling on their reservations, then I cannot disapprove.”

In 1994, Mr. McCain pushed an amendment that enabled dozens of additional tribes to win federal recognition and open casinos. And in 1998, Mr. McCain fought a Senate effort to rein in the boom.

He also voted twice in the last decade to give casinos tax breaks estimated to cost the government more than $326 million over a dozen years.

The first tax break benefited the industry in Las Vegas, one of a number of ways Mr. McCain has helped nontribal casinos. Mr. Lanni, the MGM Mirage chief executive, said that an unsuccessful bid by the senator to ban wagering on college sports in Nevada was the only time he could recall Mr. McCain opposing Las Vegas. “I can’t think of any other issue,” Mr. Lanni said.

The second tax break helped tribal casinos like Foxwoods and was pushed by Scott Reed, the Pequots’ lobbyist.

Mr. McCain had gotten to know Mr. Reed during Senator Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign, which Mr. Reed managed. Four years later, when Mr. McCain ran for president, Mr. Reed recommended he hire his close friend and protégé, Rick Davis, to manage that campaign.

During his 2000 primary race against George W. Bush, Mr. McCain promoted his record of helping Indian Country, telling reporters on a campaign swing that he had provided critical support to “the Pequot, now the proud owners of the largest casino in the world.”

But Mr. McCain’s record on Indian gambling was fast becoming a difficult issue for him in the primary. Bush supporters like Gov. John Engler of Michigan lambasted Mr. McCain for his “close ties to Indian gambling.”

A decade after Mr. McCain co-authored the Indian gambling act, the political tides had turned. Tribal casinos, which were growing at a blazing pace, had become increasingly unpopular around the country for reasons as varied as morality and traffic.

Then came the biggest lobbying scandal to shake Washington.

Behind an Inquiry

At a September 2004 hearing of the Indian Affairs Committee, Mr. McCain described Jack Abramoff as one of the most brazen in a long line of crooks to cheat American Indians. “It began with the sale of Manhattan, and has continued ever since,” he said. “What sets this tale apart, what makes it truly extraordinary, is the extent and degree of the apparent exploitation and deceit.”

Over the next two years, Mr. McCain helped uncover a breathtaking lobbying scandal — Mr. Abramoff and a partner bilked six tribes of $66 million — that showcased the senator’s willingness to risk the wrath of his own party to expose wrongdoing. But interviews and documents show that Mr. McCain and a circle of allies — lobbyists, lawyers and senior strategists — also seized on the case for its opportunities.

For McCain-connected lobbyists who were rivals of Mr. Abramoff, the scandal presented a chance to crush a competitor. For senior McCain advisers, the inquiry allowed them to collect fees from the very Indians that Mr. Abramoff had ripped off. And the investigation enabled Mr. McCain to confront political enemies who helped defeat him in his 2000 presidential run while polishing his maverick image.

The Abramoff saga started in early 2003 when members of two tribes began questioning Mr. Abramoff’s astronomical fees. Over the next year, they leaked information to local newspapers, but it took the hiring of lobbyists who were competitors of Mr. Abramoff to get the attention of Mr. McCain’s committee.

Bernie Sprague, who led the effort by one of the tribes, the Saginaw Chippewas in Michigan, hired a Democratic lobbyist who recommended that the tribe retain Scott Reed, the Republican lobbyist, to push for an investigation.

Mr. Reed had boasted to other lobbyists of his access to Mr. McCain, three close associates said. Mr. Reed “pretty much had open access to John from 2000 to at least the end of 2006,” one aide said.

Lobbyist disclosure forms show that Mr. Reed went to work for the Saginaw Chippewa on Feb. 15, 2004, charging the tribe $56,000 over a year. Mr. Abramoff had tried to steal the Pequots and another tribal client from Mr. Reed, and taking down Mr. Abramoff would eliminate a competitor.

Mr. Reed became the chief conduit to Mr. McCain’s committee for billing documents and other information Mr. Sprague was digging up on Mr. Abramoff, Mr. Sprague said, who said Mr. Reed “did a great to service to me.”

“He had contacts I did not,” Mr. Sprague said. “Initially, I think that the senator’s office was doing Reed a favor by listening to me.”

A few weeks after hiring Mr. Reed, Mr. Sprague received a letter from the senator. “We have met with Scott Reed, who was very helpful on the issue,” Mr. McCain wrote.

Information about Mr. Abramoff was also flowing to Mr. McCain’s committee from another tribe, the Coushatta of Louisiana. The source was a consultant named Roy Fletcher, who had been Mr. McCain’s deputy campaign manager in 2000, running his war room in South Carolina.

It was in that primary race that two of Mr. Abramoff’s closest associates, Grover Norquist, who runs the nonprofit Americans for Tax Reform, and Ralph Reed, the former director of the Christian Coalition, ran a blistering campaign questioning Mr. McCain’s conservative credentials. The senator and his advisers blamed that attack for Mr. McCain’s loss to Mr. Bush in South Carolina, creating tensions that would resurface in the Abramoff matter.

“I was interested in busting” Mr. Abramoff, said Mr. Fletcher, who was eventually hired to represent the tribe. “That was my job. But I was also filled with righteous indignation, I got to tell you.”

Mr. Fletcher said he began passing information to John Weaver, Mr. McCain’s chief political strategist, and other staff members in late 2003 or January 2004. Mr. Weaver confirmed the timing.

Mr. McCain announced his investigation on Feb. 26, 2004, citing an article on Mr. Abramoff in The Washington Post. He did not mention the action by lobbyists and tribes in the preceding weeks. His campaign said no one in his “innermost circle” brought information to Mr. McCain that prompted the investigation.

The senator declared he would not investigate members of Congress, whom Mr. Abramoff had lavished with tribal donations and golf outings to Scotland. But in the course of the investigation, the committee exposed Mr. Abramoff’s dealings with the two men who had helped defeat Mr. McCain in the 2000 primary.

The investigation showed that Mr. Norquist’s foundation was used by Mr. Abramoff to launder lobbying fees from tribes. Ralph Reed was found to have accepted $4 million to run bogus antigambling campaigns. And the investigation also highlighted Mr. Abramoff’s efforts to curry favor with the House majority leader at the time, Tom DeLay, Republican of Texas, a longtime political foe who had opposed many of Mr. McCain’s legislative priorities.

Mr. McCain’s campaign said the senator did not “single out” Ralph Reed or Mr. Norquist, neither of whom were ever charged, and that both men fell within the “scope of the investigation.” The inquiry, which led to guilty pleas by over a dozen individuals, was motivated by a desire to help aggrieved tribes, the campaign said.

Inside the investigation, the sense of schadenfreude was palpable, according to several people close to the senator. “It was like hitting pay dirt,” said one associate of Mr. McCain’s who had consulted with the senator’s office on the investigation. “And face it — McCain and Weaver were maniacal about Ralph Reed and Norquist. They were sticking little pins in dolls because those guys had cost him South Carolina.”

Down on the Coushattas reservation, bills related to the investigation kept coming. After firing Mr. Abramoff, the tribe hired Kent Hance, a lawyer and former Texas congressman who said he had been friends with Mr. McCain since the 1980s.

David Sickey, the tribe’s vice chairman, said he was “dumbfounded” over the bills submitted by Mr. Hance’s firm, Hance Scarborough, which had been hired by Mr. Sickey’s predecessors.

“The very thing we were fighting seemed to be happening all over again — these absurd amounts of money being paid,” Mr. Sickey said.

Mr. Hance’s firm billed the tribe nearly $1.3 million over 11 months in legal and political consulting fees, records show. But Mr. Sickey said that the billing statements offered only vague explanations for services and that he could not point to any tangible results. Two consultants, for instance, were paid to fight the expansion of gambling in Texas — even though it was unlikely given that the governor there opposed any such prospect, Mr. Sickey said.

Mr. Hance and Jay B. Stewart, the firm’s managing partner, defended their team’s work, saying they successfully steered the tribe through a difficult period. “We did an outstanding job for them,” Mr. Hance said. “When we told them our bill was going to be $100,000 a month, they thought we were cheap. Mr. Abramoff had charged them $1 million a month.”

The firm’s fees covered the services of Mr. Fletcher, who served as the tribe’s spokesman. Records also show that Mr. Hance had Mr. Weaver — who was serving as Mr. McCain’s chief strategist — put on the tribe’s payroll from February to May 2005.

It is not precisely clear what role Mr. Weaver played for his $100,000 fee.

Mr. Stewart said Mr. Weaver was hired because “he had a lot of experience with the Senate, especially the new chairman, John McCain.” The Hance firm told the tribe in a letter that Mr. Weaver was hired to provide “representation for the tribe before the U.S. Senate.”

But Mr. Weaver never registered to lobby on the issue, and he has another explanation for his work.

“The Hance law firm retained me to assist them and their client in developing an aggressive crisis management and communications strategy,” Mr. Weaver said. “At no point was I asked by Kent Hance or anyone associated with him to set up meetings with anyone in or outside of government to discuss this, and if asked I would have summarily declined to do so.”

In June 2005, the tribe informed Mr. Hance that his services were no longer needed.

Change in Tone

After the Abramoff scandal, Mr. McCain stopped taking campaign donations from tribes. Some American Indians were offended, especially since Mr. McCain continued to accept money from the tribes’ lobbyists.

Resentment in Indian Country mounted as Mr. McCain, who was preparing for another White House run, singled out the growth in tribal gambling as one of three national issues that were “out of control.” (The others were federal spending and illegal immigration.)

Franklin Ducheneaux, an aide to Morris Udall who helped draft the 1988 Indian gambling law, said that position ran contrary to Mr. McCain’s record. “What did he think? That Congress intended for the tribes to be only somewhat successful?” Mr. Ducheneaux said.

Mr. McCain began taking a broad look at whether the laws were sufficient to oversee the growing industry. His campaign said that the growth had put “considerable stress” on regulators and Mr. McCain held hearings on whether the federal government needed more oversight power.

An opportunity to restrain the industry came in the spring of 2005, when a small tribe in Connecticut set off a political battle. The group, the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, had won federal recognition in 2004 after producing voluminous documentation tracing its roots.

The tribe wanted to build Connecticut’s third casino, which would compete with Foxwoods and another, the Mohegan Sun. Facing public opposition on the proposed casino, members of the Connecticut political establishment — many of whom had received large Pequot and Mohegan campaign donations — swung into action.

Connecticut officials claimed that a genealogical review by the Bureau of Indian Affairs was flawed, and that the Schaghticoke was not a tribe.

The tribe’s opponents, led by the Washington lobbying firm Barbour Griffith & Rogers, turned to Mr. McCain’s committee. It was a full-circle moment for the senator, who had helped the Pequots gain tribal recognition in the 1980s despite concerns about their legitimacy.

Now, Mr. McCain was doing a favor for allies in the Connecticut delegation, including Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, a close friend, according to two former Congressional aides. “It was one of those collegial deals,” said one of the aides, who worked for Mr. McCain.

Barbour Griffith & Rogers wanted Mr. McCain to hold a hearing that would show that the Bureau of Indian Affairs was “broken,” said Bradley A. Blakeman, who was a lobbyist for the firm at the time.

“It was our hope that the hearing would shed light on the fact that the bureau had not followed their rules and had improperly granted recognition to the Schaghticoke,” Mr. Blakeman said. “And that the bureau would revisit the issue and follow their rules.”

Mr. McCain’s staff helped that effort by offering strategic advice.

His staff told a lobbyist for the firm that the Indian Affairs Committee “would love to receive a letter” from the Connecticut governor requesting a hearing, according to an e-mail exchange, and offered “guidance on what the most effective tone and approach” would be in the letter.

On May 11, 2005, Mr. McCain held a hearing billed as a general “oversight hearing on federal recognition of Indian tribes.” But nearly all the witnesses were Schaghticoke opponents who portrayed the tribe as imposters.

Mr. McCain set the tone: “The role that gaming and its nontribal backers have played in the recognition process has increased perceptions that it is unfair, if not corrupt.”

Chief Richard F. Velky of the Schaghticokes found himself facing off against the governor and most of the state’s congressional delegation. “The deck was stacked against us,” Mr. Velky said. “They were given lots of time. I was given five minutes.”

He had always believed Mr. McCain “to be an honest and fair man,” Mr. Velky said, “but this didn’t make me feel that good.”

Mr. Velky said he felt worse when the e-mail messages between the tribe’s opponents and Mr. McCain’s staff surfaced in a federal lawsuit. “Is there a letter telling me how to address the senator to give me the best shot?” Mr. Velky asked. “No, there is not.”

After the hearing, Pablo E. Carrillo, who was Mr. McCain’s chief Abramoff investigator at the time, wrote to a Barbour Griffith & Rogers lobbyist, Brant Imperatore. “Your client’s side definitely got a good hearing record,” Mr. Carillo wrote, adding “you probably have a good sense” on where Mr. McCain “is headed on this.”

“Well done!” he added.

Cynthia Shaw, a Republican counsel to the committee from 2005 to 2007, said Mr. McCain made decisions based on merit, not special interests. “Everybody got a meeting who asked for one,” Ms. Shaw said, “whether you were represented by counsel or by a lobbyist — or regardless of which lobbyist.”

Mr. McCain’s campaign defended the senator’s handling of the Schaghticoke case, saying no staff member acted improperly. The campaign said the session was part of normal committee business and the notion that Mr. McCain was intending to help Congressional colleagues defeat the tribe was “absolutely false.”

It added that the senator’s commitment to Indian sovereignty “remains as strong as ever.”

Within months of the May 2005 hearing, the Bureau of Indian Affairs took the rare step of rescinding the Schaghticokes’ recognition. A federal court recently rejected the tribe’s claim that the reversal was politically motivated.

Making an Exception

That spring of 2005, as the Schaghticokes went down to defeat in the East, another tribe in the West squared off against Mr. McCain with its bid to construct a gambling emporium in California. The stakes were similar, but the outcome would be far different.

The tribe’s plan to build a casino on a former Navy base just outside San Francisco represented a trend rippling across the country: American Indians seeking to build casinos near population centers, far from their reservations.

The practice, known as “off-reservation shopping,” stemmed from the 1988 Indian gambling law, which included exceptions allowing some casinos to be built outside tribal lands. When Mr. McCain began his second stint as chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee three years ago, Las Vegas pressed him to revisit the exceptions he had helped create, according to Sig Rogich, the Republican fund-raiser from Nevada.

“We told him this off-reservation shopping had to stop,” Mr. Rogich said. “It was no secret that the gaming industry, as well as many potentially affected communities in other states, voiced opposition to the practice.”

In the spring of 2005, Mr. McCain announced he was planning a sweeping overhaul of Indian gambling laws, including limiting off-reservation casinos. His campaign said Las Vegas had nothing to do with it. In a 2005 interview with The Oregonian, Mr. McCain said that if Congress did not act, “soon every Indian tribe is going to have a casino in downtown, metropolitan areas.”

Prospects for the proposed California project did not look promising. Then the tribe, the Guidiville Band of Pomo Indians, hired a lobbyist based in Phoenix named Wes Gullett.

Mr. Gullett, who had never represented tribes before Congress, had known Mr. McCain since the early 1980s. Mr. Gullett met his wife while they were working in Mr. McCain’s Washington office. He subsequently managed Mr. McCain’s 1992 Senate campaign and served as a top aide to his 2000 presidential campaign. Their friendship went beyond politics. When Mr. McCain’s wife, Cindy, brought two infants in need of medical treatment back to Arizona from Bangladesh, the Gulletts adopted one baby and the McCains the other. The two men also liked to take weekend trips to Las Vegas.

Another of Mr. McCain’s close friends, former Defense Secretary William S. Cohen, was a major investor in the Guidivilles’ proposed casino. Mr. Cohen, who did not return calls, was best man at Mr. McCain’s 1980 wedding.

Scott Crowell, lawyer for the Guidivilles, said Mr. Gullett was hired to ensure that Mr. McCain’s overhaul of the Indian gambling laws did not harm the tribe.

Mr. Gullett said he never talked to Mr. McCain about the legislation. “If you are hired directly to lobby John McCain, you are not going to be effective,” he said. Mr. Gullett said he only helped prepare the testimony of the tribe’s administrator, Walter Gray, who was invited to plead his case before Mr. McCain’s committee in July 2005. Mr. Gullett said he advised Mr. Gray in a series of conference calls.

On disclosure forms filed with the Senate, however, Mr. Gullett stated that he was not hired until November, long after Mr. Gray’s testimony. Mr. Gullett said the late filing might have been “a mistake, but it was inadvertent.” Steve Hart, a former lawyer for the Guidivilles, backed up Mr. Gullett’s contention that he had guided Mr. Gray on his July testimony.

When asked whether Mr. Gullett had helped him, Mr. Gray responded, “I’ve never met the man and couldn’t tell you anything about him.”

On Nov. 18, 2005, when Mr. McCain introduced his promised legislation overhauling the Indian gambling law, he left largely intact a provision that the Guidivilles needed for their casino. Mr. McCain’s campaign declined to answer whether the senator spoke with Mr. Gullett or Mr. Cohen about the project. In the end, Mr. McCain’s bill died, largely because Indian gambling interests fought back. But the Department of Interior picked up where Mr. McCain left off, effectively doing through regulations what he had hoped to accomplish legislatively. Carl Artman, who served as the Interior Department’s assistant secretary of Indian Affairs until May, said Mr. McCain pushed him to rewrite the off-reservation rules. “It became one of my top priorities because Senator McCain made it clear it was one of his top priorities,” he said.

The new guidelines were issued on Jan. 4. As a result, the casino applications of 11 tribes were rejected. The Guidivilles were not among them.

Final thoughts….

This is very interesting and goes to the heart of just who John McCain is. He said emphatically during the debate that he would take care of the veterans. Really John, what have you done for the veterans all this time you were a senator. Do you really even understand what you said during the debate, which Barack Obama came out as the winner? In the final analysis, the United States is not the ultimate prize in one of your gambling matches. What is going on in this country is dire and on so many levels. We simply cannot afford another four years of Bushonomics.