John King, USA

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McCain on campaign finance: 'The system is broken'
June 17th, 2012
12:25 PM ET

McCain on campaign finance: 'The system is broken'

(CNN) – "Uninformed, arrogant, naive." Sen. John McCain used those three words in an interview Sunday to slam the Citizens United decision, the 2010 Supreme Court ruling that paved the way for political donations from corporations and special interest groups.

Pressed on the issue of campaign cash and whether it is unduly influencing this year's presidential campaign, the Republican senator from Arizona maintained that allowing an "incredible amount of money" to enter political races opens the door for corruption.

"I think there will be scandals associated with the worst decision of the United States Supreme Court in the 21st century," McCain said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

The GOP senator suggested earlier Supreme Court benches would have ruled differently in the case.

"That's why we miss people like William Rehnquist and Sandra Day O'Connor who had some experience with – with congressional and other races, with the political arena."

Asked about Nevada billionaire and GOP financier Sheldon Adleson's recent pledge, along with his wife Miriam, of $10 million to the super PAC supporting Mitt Romney, McCain iterated it's the threat of not just one but many potential donors that hurts the electoral system.

"The whole system is broken and it's a wash. I don't pick out Mr. Adleson any more than I pick out Mr. Trumka," McCain said, referring to the AFL-CIO leader who helped finance Obama's 2008 presidential campaign.

"I've always been concerned about the labor unions who take money from their union members and without their permission contribute to causes they may not support," McCain continued.

Casino owner Sheldon Adleson gained notoriety for backing former GOP candidate Newt Gingrich with more than $20 million in donations to the pro-Gingrich super PAC Winning our Future during the Republican primaries.

Doubts about whether Adleson would eventually back Romney evaporated when he and his wife gave $10 million to the pro-Romney super PAC in mid-June. Since then, Adleson has made comments he may contribute as much as $100 million to the GOP presidential candidate.

During the interview, McCain quickly shifted focus away from Romney's donors and toward what he called Obama's preoccupation with raising money for his re-election bid.

"I'm concerned that the president continues to go around to all of these fund-raisers when maybe he should be spending more time governing," McCain said.

McCain took his criticism of the president back in time to the 2008 presidential campaign when then-Sen. Barack Obama opted out of $85 million in matching funds upon becoming the Democratic nominee. Obama vociferously rejected the public fund-raising money, claiming it would allow "special interests (to) drown out the voices of the American people."

"And then (Obama) outraised me, obviously, by a great deal," McCain said, referring to the half a billion dollars Obama raised through grassroots campaigning.

While he lamented current laws and their influence on the campaigns, McCain said he was hopeful current finance laws will eventually change.

"The fact is that the system is broken," he said. "I predict to you there will be scandals, and I predict to you that there will be reform again."

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Filed under: Fund-raising • John McCain
August 15th, 2011
02:37 PM ET

Muslim community embraces scouting

Sterling, Virginia (CNN) – Mohammad Azraf Ullah, 17 years old of Herndon, Virginia, has been observing the Muslim holy month of Ramadan since he was a young boy. Believed to purify the body and soul, the food and water fast from dusk until dawn for 30 days is part of the five tenants of Islam.

"Patience is one of the biggest things I've learned" said Ullah. "It reminds me how great God is, and you really have to be grateful to him for everything he gave you."

Such patience and reverence should help Ullah meet the requirements for his Eagle Scout badge, which he's set to earn in the coming months. The high school senior and Boy Scout participated in the annual Iftar dinner – or "breaking of the fast" meal – hosted by the All Dulles Area Muslim Society Scout program on Saturday night.

Based in Northern Virginia, ADAMs is one of the largest American Muslim organizations in the United States.

Their scout program provides an outlet for youth in the community to practice the basic beliefs of Islam while following the scout law.

Like every future Eagle Scout, Ullah must complete a service project that benefits the community. He also has to appear before a board of review, made up of experienced scouts from the district that assess the character and integrity of the young man up for Eagle Scout status.

Brian Kale is a veteran of Boy Scouts of America and serves as the Goosecreek District Roundtable Commissioner. He testified to the seamless interweaving of possessing a higher faith and meeting the requirements to become an Eagle Scout.

"The Boy Scouts of America believes in a higher being. We're not sectarian, we do not identify one higher being over the next. However for a boy to earn Eagle Scout he has to have a reverence toward a higher purpose and a higher being," Kale said.

Whether the scouts are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or practice a different faith, Kale emphasizes well roundedness as the focus of Boy Scouts of America.

"The fact that their faith may be different than the boy next to them is immaterial. It's about learning proper skills, character development and a good moral compass."

Kale emphasized one of the 12 points of the Boy Scout Law that reflects a spirit of tolerance and spirituality – "A Scout is reverent. He is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties and respects the convictions of others in matters of custom and religion," the law reads.

The credo encourages a kind of religiosity with scouts and troop leaders and mandates a spirit of loyalty, bravery, and self-discipline.

Abdul Rashid Abdullah, scoutmaster of Troop 786, said the Islamic faith and Boy Scouts of America are harmonious in philosophy and in practice.

"The Islamic ideals and the scouting ideals are the same. They're compatible," he said. "I can easily talk about the scout law and talk about Koranic verses that co-relate to those scout laws, so it makes it really easy."

Abdullah has been involved with Boy Scouts of America since childhood. Raised a Roman Catholic, Abdullah converted to Islam while attending University of the Pacific in Stockton, California.

"I met a lot of students from Malaysia and they gave me the opportunity to ask questions. When I asked the questions I was like, 'That's spot on to what my beliefs already are.' So I just embraced it," he said.

Abdullah, who also serves as a regional chair of the National Islamic Council on Scouting, seizes the opportunity to interweave the fundamental beliefs of Islam with everyday scouting activities.

"I often tell parents, 'You're going to take your kids to Sunday school or whatever to learn the Koran and to learn Islam," said Abdullah. "'When I take them out camping, we're going to put that into practice."

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Filed under: JKUSA