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McCain top lieutenant Overcharging Pentagon

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Speaking of Senator Corruption (R- AZ, running for president, maybe you’ve heard mention of him), a top McCain fundraiser has been gouging tax-payers, and screwing the Pentagon. In some circles, that is considered war profiteering, and is a hanging offense.

The Democratic chairman of a House investigative committee presented documents to the Pentagon on Thursday charging that a top Republican fund-raiser, Harry Sargeant III, made tens of millions of dollars in profits over the last four years because his contracting company vastly overcharged for deliveries of fuel to American air bases in Iraq.

In a written statement on Thursday, a lawyer for Mr. Sargeant, who is the finance chairman of the Florida Republican Party and a major fund-raiser for Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign, called the allegations “deeply disappointing” and asserted that they were not supported by the facts.

The contracting company, called the International Oil Trading Company, or I.O.T.C., was briefly in the news over the summer when a former partner filed a lawsuit against Mr. Sargeant in a Florida circuit court.

The former partner, a Jordanian named Mohammad al-Saleh, is a brother-in-law of King Abdullah II of Jordan. The court papers laid out his assertion that he obtained special governmental authorizations for the company to transport the fuel through Jordan and was then unlawfully forced out by Mr. Sargeant, who strongly disputed those allegations.

But the latest claims of impropriety by the company, presented by Representative Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California, in a letter to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, go much further. Mr. Waxman uses e-mail messages, company documents, Pentagon reports and other information to make the case that Mr. Sargeant repeatedly received contracts to deliver the fuel even though his company was not the lowest bidder.

In one case, the letter from Mr. Waxman, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, asserts that Mr. Sargeant’s company submitted the highest of six bids, but received the contract anyway. In fact, Pentagon contracting officers complained that the company’s prices were unreasonably high and initially said they could not justify giving the work to Mr. Sargeant.

But for reasons the company was never able to explain, Mr. Waxman’s letter indicates, no other American company was given an authorization to transport the fuel through Jordan. And when the United States Central Command declared that the need for the fuel was urgent, the Pentagon was forced to award the contract to Mr. Sargeant’s company.

Mr. Sargeant is one of several dozen people who are listed on Senator McCain’s Web site as having raised $500,000 or more for him. He was the host of a fund-raiser for Mr. McCain at his mansion in Delray Beach, Fla., this year.

[From G.O.P. Donor Is Accused of Overcharging Pentagon – NYTimes.com]

I hope President Obama gives Henry Waxman free reign to continue his investigations into Bush-crony corruption, including John McCain’s friends like Sargeant, and corporations like Verizon.

And remember this story?

Mr. Sargeant came under scrutiny in August when media reports highlighted a cluster of more than $50,000 in unusual campaign contributions bundled together by Mr. Sargeant from a single extended family in California and a few of their friends. The donations set off questions of whether they might have been made by donors in name only who were reimbursed by someone trying to skirt contribution limits.

It turned out that the donations were not actually solicited by Mr. Sargeant but by another Jordanian business partner, Mustafa Abu Naba’a. The McCain campaign later said it would return all contributions solicited by Mr. Abu Naba’a and review all donations collected by Mr. Sargeant.

Written by Seth Anderson

October 17th, 2008 at 12:58 am

Posted in politics

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Ethics Not Important for McCain Ranch

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For all of McCain’s yammering about changing the culture of corruption in Washington, you’d think he’d start by cleaning up his own corruption first. I’m sure you could call up Verizon or AT&T and complain about your cellphone reception, and they’d install cell-phone towers in your remote location, free of charge, right?

Early in 2007, just as her husband launched his presidential bid, Cindy McCain sought to resolve an old problem – the lack of cellphone coverage on her remote 15-acre ranch near Sedona, Ariz., nestled deep in a tree-lined canyon called Hidden Valley.

Over the past year, she offered land for a permanent cell tower, and Verizon Wireless embarked on an expensive public process to meet her needs, hiring contractors and seeking county land-use permits.

Verizon ultimately abandoned its effort to install a permanent tower in August. Company spokesman Jeffrey Nelson said the project would be “an inappropriate way” to build its network. “It doesn’t make business sense for us to do that,” he added.

Instead, Verizon delivered a portable tower known as a “cell site on wheels” – free of charge – to the McCain property in June…

In July, AT&T followed suit, wheeling in a portable tower for free to match Verizon’s offer. “This is an unusual situation,” AT&T spokeswoman Claudia B. Jones said. …

Ethics lawyers said Cindy McCain’s dealings with the wireless companies stand out because her husband is a senior member of the Senate commerce committee, which oversees the Federal Communications Commission and the telecommunications industry. He has been a leading advocate for industry-backed legislation, fighting regulations and taxes on telecommunication services.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and his campaign have close ties to Verizon and AT&T. Five campaign officials, including manager Rick Davis, have worked as lobbyists for Verizon. Former McCain staff member Robert Fisher is an in-house lobbyist for Verizon and is volunteering for the campaign. Fisher, Verizon chief executive Ivan G. Seidenberg and company lobbyists have raised more than $1.3 million for McCain’s presidential effort, and Verizon employees are among the top 20 corporate donors over McCain’s political career, giving his campaigns more than $155,000.

McCain’s Senate chief of staff Mark Buse, senior strategist Charles R. Black Jr. and several other campaign staff members have registered as AT&T lobbyists in the past. AT&T Executive Vice President Timothy McKone and AT&T lobbyists have raised more than $2.3 million for McCain. AT&T employees have donated more than $325,000 to the Republican’s campaigns, putting the company in the No. 3 spot for career donations to McCain, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

“It raises the aura of special consideration for somebody because he is a member of the Senate,” said Stanley Brand, a former House counsel for Democrats and an ethics lawyer who represents politicians in both parties.

[From Exclusive: Verizon and AT&T Provided Cell Towers for McCain Ranch – Washington Post Investigations]

What a perfect description of John McCain: special consideration for some, and bupkis for the rest of us. The tower would be so infrequently used, it made no business sense, unless you are helping out your friend in Washington, D.C.

Three telecommunications specialists consulted by The Post said the proposed site covers so few users that it is unlikely to generate enough traffic to justify the investment. Robb Alarcon, an industry specialist who helps plan tower placement, said the proposed location appeared to be a “strategic build,” free-of-charge coverage to high-priority customers. A former Verizon executive vice president, who asked not to be named because he worked for the company, agreed with Alarcon, saying, “It was a VIP kind of thing.”

Escaped Red Guard

The Atlantic’s Joshua Green follows up (and please click through if you are interested in the topic, there are several primary documents hosted at The Atlantic)

What’s clear from the report is that the process of putting up a tower required a lot of work—in addition to consultants and archeologists and Indian tribes, it meant notifying all sorts of government agencies, as the report lays out. What’s also clear from the public record is that Verizon knew full well whose non-sacred Indian land this ranch belonged to. Though the formal, bureaucratic name for the McCain’s ranch seems to be “AZ 2 Hidden Valley Ranch,” Verizon’s internal map, obtained by The Atlantic (it was part of a Verizon engineer’s report on the property), refers to it as “John McCain’s cabin.” So while Cindy McCain may indeed have requested the tower over the web like an ordinary millionaire rancher with spotty phone reception, Verizon was well aware that she was anything but that. (As of this posting, Jeffrey Nelson, the Verizon spokesman, hadn’t returned my call.)

All of this suggests a number of things: Rogers looks to have been correct in stating that the Secret Service asked for, and received, temporary towers—but that doesn’t address the parallel issue of the permanent towers, long underway until just recently, that lay at the heart of the Post piece and in the public record. The McCains may not have asked Verizon for any special favors—but, wittingly or not, they sure look like they were about to receive them. To my mind, Verizon looks worst of all: the company is claiming that it abandoned the tower because it wouldn’t “make business sense to do it.” In a sense, this is self evident: you don’t have to look any further than a map of the area to see what a remote and sparsely populated place is “AZ 2 Hidden Valley Ranch.” And so the only reason to embark on the two-year process of lawyers, regulators, consultant, archeologists, and Indians is if you’re seeking a payoff of another kind.

Written by Seth Anderson

October 16th, 2008 at 11:19 pm

Hot Headed MCain

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There’s a difference between a tough-guy and being just a dick. McCain sounds more like the latter, especially when you consider his cowardice on the campaign trail.

John McCain made a quick stop at the Capitol one day last spring to sit in on Senate negotiations on the big immigration bill, and John Cornyn was not pleased.

Cornyn, a mild-mannered Texas Republican, saw a loophole in the bill that he thought would allow felons to pursue a path to citizenship.

McCain called Cornyn’s claim “chicken-shit,” according to people familiar with the meeting, and charged that the Texan was looking for an excuse to scuttle the bill. Cornyn grimly told McCain he had a lot of nerve to suddenly show up and inject himself into the sensitive negotiations.

“Fuck you,” McCain told Cornyn, in front of about 40 witnesses.

It was another instance of the Republican presidential candidate losing his temper, another instance where, as POW-MIA activist Carol Hrdlicka put it, “It’s his way or no way.”

There’s a lengthy list of similar outbursts through the years: McCain pushing a woman in a wheelchair, trying to get an Arizona Republican aide fired from three different jobs, berating a young GOP activist on the night of his own 1986 Senate election and many more.

[From McClatchy Washington Bureau | 09/07/2008 | McCain’s history of hot temper raises concerns]

John McCain is not presidential caliber.

Then there’s McCain’s sensitivity to the POW-MIA issue. So highly strung on the topic, you’d think there was some festering wound lingering just below the surface.

Back in Washington, families of POW_MIAs said they have seen McCain’s wrath repeatedly. Some families charged that McCain hadn’t been aggressive enough about pursuing their lost relatives and has been reluctant to release relevant documents.…

In 1992, McCain sparred with Dolores Alfond, the chairwoman of the National Alliance of Families for the Return of America’s Missing Servicemen and Women, at a Senate hearing. McCain’s prosecutor-like questioning of Alfond — available on YouTube — left her in tears.

Four years later, at her group’s Washington conference, about 25 members went to a Senate office building, hoping to meet with McCain. As they stood in the hall, McCain and an aide walked by.

Six people present have written statements describing what they saw. According to the accounts, McCain waved his hand to shoo away Jeannette Jenkins, whose cousin was last seen in South Vietnam in 1970, causing her to hit a wall.

As McCain continued walking, Jane Duke Gaylor, the mother of another missing serviceman, approached the senator. Gaylor, in a wheelchair equipped with portable oxygen, stretched her arms toward McCain.

“McCain stopped, glared at her, raised his left arm ready to strike her, composed himself and pushed the wheelchair away from him,” according to Eleanor Apodaca, the sister of an Air Force captain missing since 1967.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CazKanlYDg

Written by Seth Anderson

October 12th, 2008 at 7:20 pm

Posted in politics

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John Lewis calls out John McCain

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As of today, per electoral-vote.com, Georgia’s 15 electoral votes are in John McCain’s column, but the polling is within a couple points. John Lewis is an influential Georgian politician, and knows first-hand of the side effects of racist demagoguery such as what is currently being spewed by the McCain-Palin camp.

Representative John Lewis, the Georgia Democrat and civil rights leader, said Saturday that Senator John McCain and his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin, were “sowing the seeds of hatred and division” in a way that reminded him of former Gov. George Wallace and “another destructive period” in the nation’s history.

In a blistering statement reacting to the angry crowds at McCain-Palin rallies in the past week that have shouted “off with his head” and other insults about Senator Barack Obama, Mr. Lewis said: “During another period, in the not-too-distant past, there was a governor of the state of Alabama named George Wallace who also became a presidential candidate. George Wallace never threw a bomb. He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who were simply trying to exercise their constitutional rights.

“Because of this atmosphere of hate, four little girls were killed on Sunday morning when a church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama.”

Mr. Lewis, who was referring to the 1963 church bombing by the Ku Klux Klan, added: “As public figures with the power to influence and persuade, Senator McCain and Governor Palin are playing with fire, and if they are not careful, that fire will consume us all. They are playing a very dangerous game that disregards the value of the political process and cheapens our entire democracy.”

Mr. McCain has cited Mr. Lewis as one of three people on whom he depends for sage advice.

[From Congressman Rebukes McCain for Recent Rallies – NYTimes.com]

Let us hope that Lewis’ criticism leads to a bit of movement in the polls for Obama. Racism is not dead, by any means, but even in the South, there are plenty of white voters who are sickened by the actions of the racist few.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7gutQPvAeM

Written by Seth Anderson

October 12th, 2008 at 11:02 am

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Racist McCain

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I was afraid the Westbrook Pegler citation in Sarah Palin’s convention speech was going down the memory hole, but Frank Rich mentions it in his column today:

The tone was set at the Republican convention, with Rudy Giuliani’s mocking dismissal of Obama as an “only in America” affirmative-action baby. We also learned then that the McCain campaign had recruited as a Palin handler none other than Tucker Eskew, the South Carolina consultant who had worked for George W. Bush in the notorious 2000 G.O.P. primary battle where the McCains and their adopted Bangladeshi daughter were slimed by vicious racist rumors.

No less disconcerting was a still-unexplained passage of Palin’s convention speech: Her use of an unattributed quote praising small-town America (as opposed to, say, Chicago and its community organizers) from Westbrook Pegler, the mid-century Hearst columnist famous for his anti-Semitism, racism and violent rhetorical excess. After an assassin tried to kill F.D.R. at a Florida rally and murdered Chicago’s mayor instead in 1933, Pegler wrote that it was “regrettable that Giuseppe Zangara shot the wrong man.” In the ’60s, Pegler had a wish for Bobby Kennedy: “Some white patriot of the Southern tier will spatter his spoonful of brains in public premises before the snow falls.”

This is the writer who found his way into a speech by a potential vice president at a national political convention. It’s astonishing there’s been no demand for a public accounting from the McCain campaign. Imagine if Obama had quoted a Black Panther or Louis Farrakhan — or William Ayers — in Denver.

The operatives who would have Palin quote Pegler have been at it ever since. A key indicator came two weeks after the convention, when the McCain campaign ran its first ad tying Obama to the mortgage giant Fannie Mae. Rather than make its case by using a legitimate link between Fannie and Obama (or other Democratic leaders), the McCain forces chose a former Fannie executive who had no real tie to Obama or his campaign but did have a black face that could dominate the ad’s visuals.

[From Frank Rich – The Terrorist Barack Hussein Obama – NYTimes.com]

Is John McCain a bigot? Maybe, maybe not, but his campaign surely is. If McCain was the leader he proclaims himself to be, he would be able to effortlessly lead those demagogues into the 21st century, away from the mindless racism that stems from fear of the unknown. But he isn’t, and he won’t.

Written by Seth Anderson

October 12th, 2008 at 10:15 am

Posted in politics

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Sidley and Austin – Terrorism Central

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John McLame breaks another campaign promise: this time his declaration that spouses should not be a topic of discussion. Way to keep it classy, John. The smear is even more ridiculous than the William Ayers smear, there are lots and lots of lawyers who have worked at Sidley & Austin, probably some who even work (or have worked) for John McCain. Sidley & Austin has been around for a long, long time

The McCain campaign is now broadening their attack on Obama’s past association with William Ayers to include Michelle Obama — even though McCain has repeatedly said spouses should be off limits during the campaign.

The attack? Bernardine Dohrn, Ayers’ wife and fellow former Weatherman, went to work in 1984 for the major Chicago-based national law firm of Sidley & Austin, and three years later, Michelle joined the mega-firm as well.

That’s the entire attack. We wish we were joking. But we aren’t.

In launching this latest, McCain is ditching yet another formerly-claimed principle as he faces the growing likelihood of defeat. In a statement back in June, the McCain campaign said: “Senator McCain agrees with Senator Obama that spouses should not be an issue in this campaign, and he has stated that position frequently.”

Keep in mind that this wasn’t any surrogate speaking off the cuff. He was on a call organized by the McCain campaign, and he was apparently reading from a prepared statement, which would of course have been vetted by McCain aides. And so another once-cherished McCain principle gets junked in the service of self-parody.

[From TPM Election Central | Talking Points Memo | McCain Campaign Now Attacks Michelle Obama Over Ayers]

Lame, lame McCain. Campaigning on the issues affecting our nation is not part of McCain’s agenda. So why does he want to be president then?

Written by Seth Anderson

October 11th, 2008 at 8:59 am

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Is John McCain an Asshole

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Survey says…

Yes!!

You may have received an email reading something like this:

It was just before John McCain’s last run at the presidential nomination in 2000 that my husband and I vacationed in Turtle Island in Fiji with John McCain, Cindy, and their children, including Bridget (their adopted Bangladeshi child).

It was not our intention, but it was our misfortune to be in close quarters with John McCain for almost a week, since Turtle Island has a small number of bungalows and their focus on communal meals force all vacationers who are there at the same time to get to know each other intimately.

He arrived at our first group meal and started reading quotes from a pile of William Faulkner books with a forest of Post-Its sticking out of them. As an English Literature major myself, my first thought was “if he likes this so much, why hasn’t he memorized any of this yet?” I soon realized that McCain actually thought we had come on vacation to be a volunteer audience for his “readings” which then became a regular part of each meal. Out of politeness, none of the vacationers initially protested at this intrusion into their blissful holiday, but people’s buttons definitely got pushed as the readings continued day after day.

Unfortunately this was not his only contribution to our mealtime entertainment. He waxed on during one meal about how Indo-Chine women had the best figures and that our American corn-fed women just couldn’t meet up to this standard. He also made it a point that all of us should stop Cindy from having dessert as her weight was too high and made a few comments to Amy, the 25 year old wife of the honeymooning couple from Nebraska that she should eat less as she needed to lose weight.

McCain’s appreciation of the beauty of Asian women was so great that David the American economist had to move his Thai wife to the other side of the table from McCain as McCain kept aggressively flirting with and touching her.

Needless to say I was irritated at his large ego and his rude behavior towards his wife and other women, but decided he must have some redeeming qualities as he had adopted a handicapped child from Bangladesh. I asked him about this one day, and his response was shocking:

Oh, that was Cindy’s idea – I didn’t have anything to do with it. She just went and adopted this thing without even asking me. You can’t imagine how people stare when I wheel this ugly, black thing around in a shopping cart in Arizona . No, it wasn’t my idea at all.”

I actively avoided McCain after that, but unfortunately one day he engaged me in a political discussion which soon got us on the topic of the active US bombing of Iraq at that time. I was shocked when he said, “If I was in charge, I would nuke Iraq to teach them a lesson”. Given McCain’s personal experience with the horrors of war, I had expected a more balanced point of view. I commented on the tragic consequences of the nuclear attacks on Japan during WWII — but no, he was not to be dissuaded. He went on to say that if it was up to him he would have dropped many more nuclear bombs on Japan . I rapidly extricated myself from this conversation as I could tell that his experience being tortured as a POW didn’t seem to have mellowed out his perspective, but rather had made him more aggressive and vengeful towards the world.

My final encounter with McCain was on the morning that he was leaving Turtle Island . Amy and I were happily eating pancakes when McCain arrived and told Amy that she shouldn’t be having pancakes because she needed to lose weight. Amy burst into tears at this abusive comment. I felt fiercely protective of Amy and immediately turned to McCain and told him to leave her alone. He became very angry and abusive towards me, and said, “Don’t you know who I am.” I looked him in the face and said, “Yes, you are the biggest asshole I have ever met” and headed back to my cabin. I am happy to say that later that day when I arrived at lunch I was given a standing ovation by all the guests for having stood up to McCain’s bullying.

Although I have shared my McCain story informally with friends, this is the first time I am making this public. I almost did so in 2000, when McCain first announced his bid for the Republican nomination, but it soon became apparent that George Bush was the shoo-in candidate and so I did not act then. However, now that there is a very real possibility that McCain could be elected as our next president, I feel it is my duty as an American citizen to share this story. I can’t imagine a more scary outcome for America than that this abusive, aggressive man should lead our nation. I have observed him in intimate surroundings as he really is, not how the media portrays him to be. If his attitudes toward women and his treatment of his own family are even a small indicator of his real personality, then I shudder to think what will happen to America were he to be elected as our President.

Snopes.com, one’s first source for fact-checking internet based assertions, is not sure whether this tale is true or not, but most pointedly, they do not debunk it outright. John McCain has vacationed at Turtle Island many times, and the rest of the description fits Angry John as well (racist, quick to fly off the handle, disdainful of women, disrespectful of his wife, yadda yadda).

Written by Seth Anderson

October 10th, 2008 at 8:46 pm

Posted in News-esque

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McCain is a Coward

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part the 234,432nd.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_7gauInYUo

and Biden:
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otlsLlOv8yM

Written by Seth Anderson

October 10th, 2008 at 11:24 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with , ,

Great Lame Hope

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Speaking of McCain’s past, check out this recent post from billmon:

McCain’s primary talent has always been his ability persuade simple-minded people (i.e. his media cheerleading claque) that he is flipping or flopping as a matter of great personal principle and at great possible cost to his political career – even as he has used his various flips and flops to climb the greased pole and become the presidential nominee of his party.

I’ll leave out McCain’s early career as a professional ex-POW and passionate enemy of Vietnamese Communism (to be replaced, later, by a noble, magnanimous belief in reconciliation — at about the same time the GOP business lobby decided that diplomatic and trade relations with Vietnam would actually be really cool.) I’ll also leave out McCain’s financially expedient (and therefore politically expedient) divorce and remarriage to a wealthy beer heiress. No one knows the human heart, etc. I wasn’t following politics in those days anyway.

But I was around, and following congressional politics rather closely (by which I mean professionally) when McCain first popped up on the political radar screen in 1986 during the so-called Keating Five scandal. In exchange for various regulatory favors, Keating, a wealthy and politically, um, generous, S&L executive, turned himself into the special friend of a bipartisan group of sleazebag Senators, with five in particular, including McCain, reaping most of the benefits. By modern standards (i.e. Jack Abramoff’s and Ted Steven’s standards) it was actually pretty tame stuff, but it was considered a big deal at the time.)

In a sense, the scandal marked the birth of the McCain “brand,” because unlike the other four of the Five, he stood up in the Senate and more or less admitted he was guilty (not nearly as guilty as the others, he hastened to point out – but still, he felt bad about what he had done.) This went over really big with the media (“Senator admits guilt” outranking even man bites dog on the news-o-meter.)

Now, if you go back and look, you’ll see that if Keating didn’t comp McCain as generously and vigorously as he did the other four, it was probably because McCain was a very junior senator at the time, with relatively little influence to peddle. But it wasn’t because Honest John was shy about accepting the favors that were offered him. If John McCain had a problem with the way lobbying (i.e. legalized prostitution) was being done in Washington, you definitely won’t find it in the record of the Keating investigation. McCain’s fit of Puritan self-righteousness (or political calculation, depending on your view) came after the fact, once he’d already been caught. And yet, from that single Senate speech sprang the shoot that eventually grew into the sturdy tree of John McCain’s media image.

You have to admit it was a neat trick: Happily accepting the naughty goodies while they were being handed out, but then winning brownie points for admitting he took them – after the world had already found out he took them. But that’s precisely what McCain did. He’s never looked back since.

The lesson he learned, I think, is that pseudo-candor (truthiness) usually trumps the genuine article (McCain was way ahead of his time on this) And so he hasn’t hesitated to flip and flop shamelessly if (and these are the key points) it is in his interest and he thinks he can get away with it.

[Continue reading Daily Kos: The Great White Hope]

No wonder McLame was so visibly angry in both debates, he knows in his heart of hearts that the election has already slipped away, but he is still going through the motions anyway.

Written by Seth Anderson

October 8th, 2008 at 9:31 pm

Posted in politics

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McCain and Gordon Liddy

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Talk about criminal associations! Gordon Liddy is a convicted criminal, and domestic terrorist, and a close friend of John McCain.

McCain has been friends with another violent political extremist: Gordon Liddy.

Liddy, who worked for President Nixon’s campaign, was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison for multiple crimes in burglarizing the Democratic National Committee office in the Watergate building–part of a broader plot to steal the 1972 election through sabotage, illegal spying and other dirty tricks. He even planned the murder of a journalist, though that idea was overruled. Bombings? He proposed the firebombing of a liberal think tank.

Liddy, now a conservative radio host, has never expressed regret for this attempt to subvert the Constitution. Nor has he developed any respect for the law. After the 1993 raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, he endorsed the shooting of federal agents: “Kill the sons of bitches.”

Yet none of this bothers McCain. Liddy has contributed thousands of dollars to his campaigns, held a fundraiser for McCain at his home and hosted the senator on his radio show, where McCain said, “I’m proud of you.” Exactly which part of Liddy’s record is McCain proud of?

[From Steve Chapman | Chicago Tribune | Blog]

So if you are eight years old, you have to exercise better judgement than when you are actively running for President? Double standard much?

Written by swanksalot

October 7th, 2008 at 9:46 pm

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McCain proposes to Destroy Health Care

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We’ve discussed McCain’s devious plan to destroy the American Healthcare system, and replace it with a wink; Paul Krugman sketches what the end result would turn out to be quite clearly:

Any Porthole in a Storm

But the people gaining insurance would be those who need it least: relatively healthy Americans with high incomes. Why? Because insurance companies want to cover only healthy people, and even among the healthy only those able to pay a lot in addition to their tax credit would be able to afford coverage (remember, it’s a $5,000 credit, but the average family policy actually costs more than $12,000).

Meanwhile, the people losing insurance would be those who need it most: lower-income workers who wouldn’t be able to afford individual insurance even with the tax credit, and Americans with health problems whom insurance companies won’t cover.

And in the process of comforting the comfortable while afflicting the afflicted, the McCain plan would also lead to a huge, expensive increase in bureaucracy: insurers selling individual health plans spend 29 percent of the premiums they receive on administration, largely because they employ so many people to screen applicants. This compares with costs of 12 percent for group plans and just 3 percent for Medicare.

In short, the McCain plan makes no sense at all, unless you have faith that the magic of the marketplace can solve all problems. And Mr. McCain does: a much-quoted article published under his name declares that “Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.”

I agree: the McCain plan would do for health care what deregulation has done for banking. And I’m terrified.

[From Paul Krugman – Health Care Destruction – NYTimes.com]

Those who can afford it already won’t be affected, much, by this plan, but the rest of us will be screwed. Note: I did the math for myself, and I would come out about even, at the moment. But, my rates went up 14%1 this year, and about the same last year2, and presumedly would increase again next year. So the McCain healthcare tax credit would soon be insuffecient for paying for my plan, and my deductible is quite high already.

Footnotes:
  1. my tweet: Because of “inflationary trends in health care”, my health insurance premium went up 14%. Whippee. []
  2. too lazy to look back []

Written by Seth Anderson

October 7th, 2008 at 9:20 am

Posted in health,politics

Tagged with , ,

Pal Around McCain

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Speaking of pallin’ around with terrorists, Harold Meyerson notes the well-known financial terrorist Phil Gramm is quite close to McCain. Kissin’ close, if fact.

But if the McCain people want to rummage through presidential candidates’ associations, real or imagined, to turn up figures who threaten to pull down this proud republic, they should begin in-house. Chief among those to whom responsibility attaches for the financial crisis that is plunging the nation into recession is former Texas senator Phil Gramm, McCain’s own economic guru.

Gramm was always Wall Street’s man in the Senate. As chairman of the Senate Banking Committee during the Clinton administration, he consistently underfunded the Securities and Exchange Commission and kept it from stopping accounting firms from auditing corporations with which they had conflicts of interest. Gramm’s piece de resistance came on Dec. 15, 2000, when he slipped into an omnibus spending bill a provision called the Commodity Futures Modernization Act (CFMA), which prohibited any governmental regulation of credit default swaps, those insurance policies covering losses on securities in the event they went belly up. As the housing bubble ballooned, the face value of those swaps rose to a tidy $62 trillion. And as the housing bubble burst, those swaps became a massive pile of worthless paper, because no government agency had required the banks to set aside money to back them up.

The CFMA also prohibited government regulation of the energy-trading market, which enabled Enron to nearly bankrupt the state of California before bankrupting itself.

The problem with this exercise, of course, is that Gramm’s relationship to McCain is not comparable to the relationships that Ayers or Wright have with Obama. The idea that either Ayers or Wright would have any impact on the workings of an Obama administration is nonsensical. But Gramm and McCain do have an enduring political and economic alliance. McCain chaired Gramm’s short-lived presidential campaign in 1996; Gramm is co-chair of McCain’s current effort. McCain has not repudiated reports that Gramm is on the shortlist to become Treasury secretary if McCain is elected, even after Gramm labeled America “a nation of whiners.”

[From Harold Meyerson – A Pal Around McCain – washingtonpost.com]

Will Obama mention Phil Gramm in the debate tonight? Keating is one thing, but Gramm is still closer, albeit just as corrupt.

Written by Seth Anderson

October 7th, 2008 at 9:05 am

Keating Economics

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In case you hadn’t already watched this elsewhere

The current economic crisis demands that we understand John McCain’s attitudes about economic oversight and corporate influence in federal regulation. Nothing illustrates the danger of his approach more clearly than his central role in the savings and loan scandal of the late ’80s and early ’90s.

John McCain was accused of improperly aiding his political patron, Charles Keating, chairman of the Lincoln Savings and Loan Association. The bipartisan Senate Ethics Committee launched investigations and formally reprimanded Senator McCain for his role in the scandal — the first such Senator to receive a major party nomination for president.

At the heart of the scandal was Keating’s Lincoln Savings and Loan Association, which took advantage of deregulation in the 1980s to make risky investments with its depositors’ money. McCain intervened on behalf of Charles Keating with federal regulators tasked with preventing banking fraud, and championed legislation to delay regulation of the savings and loan industry — actions that allowed Keating to continue his fraud at an incredible cost to taxpayers.

When the savings and loan industry collapsed, Keating’s failed company put taxpayers on the hook for $3.4 billion and more than 20,000 Americans lost their savings. John McCain was reprimanded by the bipartisan Senate Ethics Committee, but the ultimate cost of the crisis to American taxpayers reached more than $120 billion.

The Keating scandal is eerily similar to today’s credit crisis, where a lack of regulation and cozy relationships between the financial industry and Congress has allowed banks to make risky loans and profit by bending the rules. And in both cases, John McCain’s judgment and values have placed him on the wrong side of history.

[Click to continue reading Keating Economics]

Higher resolution QuickTime version available for download [148 Megs]

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g72BuIvMbWY

Written by Seth Anderson

October 6th, 2008 at 2:40 pm

Posted in politics

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Debate 2 Notes

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Joey the Shark vs. the Caribou Barbie.

The agreed-to debate format was skewed heavily in favor for Sarah Palin; she didn’t have to answer any question she didn’t have an answer to, and the faux-moderator, Gwen Ifill, didn’t mind. Ifill might as well had been a preprogrammed machine, reciting question discussed by the candidates twenty weeks ago for all the relevant response Ifill’s questions obtained.

Palin lied, and evaded more than half of the questions, maybe even 80% of the questions asked were answered instead with Republican talking points from her note cards. I’m pretty sure Palin would be totally lost being President, let us all actively work to stop that from happening.

Palin seems to be under the assumption that John McCain was instrumental in winning some war. I’m not sure which war that was. Vietnam? Nope, Iraq? Nope. Maybe she meant McCain knew how to win against the media, except that wouldn’t be factual.

Sudan bill actually was derailed by Sarah Palin, so she shouldn’t be claiming credit for passing divesture.

Sarah Palin’s Administration Was Complicit In Killing Sudan Divestment Bills In Committee. On February 9, 2008, Governor Sarah Palin’s appointed Deputy Commissioner of Revenue spoke to the Alaska House State Affairs Committee on bipartisan HB 287, which would require the state to divest from Sudan. He agreed with another speaker who said divestment was ‘not the right tool.’ On April 1, Commissioner of Revenue paid lip service to SB 227 in the Alaska Senate State Affairs Committee, saying that the bill “should be amended…in the Finance Committee” and said that the Department of Revenue was “working with the Department of Law… to actually take certain actions with regard to divestiture that would still be compliant with the state investment laws.” The Legislature adjourned Sine Die on April 13. [Minutes Of The 25th Alaska Legislature]

Oh, there’s more to say, but I’m too busy to say it.

Written by Seth Anderson

October 4th, 2008 at 4:45 pm

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Make-Believe Maverick

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Reckless and dishonest, that about sums the man up. Also, if McCain hadn’t been Navy royalty, he would have never flown, nor kept his wings after destroying two planes in questionable circumstances.

Tim Dickinson of Rolling Stone has a long, good article about the life and career of John McCain. A few excerpts:

This is the story of the real John McCain, the one who has been hiding in plain sight. It is the story of a man who has consistently put his own advancement above all else, a man willing to say and do anything to achieve his ultimate ambition: to become commander in chief, ascending to the one position that would finally enable him to outrank his four-star father and grandfather.

In its broad strokes, McCain’s life story is oddly similar to that of the current occupant of the White House. John Sidney McCain III and George Walker Bush both represent the third generation of American dynasties. Both were born into positions of privilege against which they rebelled into mediocrity. Both developed an uncanny social intelligence that allowed them to skate by with a minimum of mental exertion. Both struggled with booze and loutish behavior. At each step, with the aid of their fathers’ powerful friends, both failed upward. And both shed their skins as Episcopalian members of the Washington elite to build political careers as self-styled, ranch-inhabiting Westerners who pray to Jesus in their wives’ evangelical churches.

In one vital respect, however, the comparison is deeply unfair to the current president: George W. Bush was a much better pilot.

[Keep reading Make-Believe Maverick : Rolling Stone]

Incompetent, reckless, and dishonest: not characteristics of good presidents.

But the subsequent tale of McCain’s mistreatment — and the transformation it is alleged to have produced — are both deeply flawed. The Code of Conduct that governed POWs was incredibly rigid; few soldiers lived up to its dictate that they “give no information . . . which might be harmful to my comrades.” Under the code, POWs are bound to give only their name, rank, date of birth and service number — and to make no “statements disloyal to my country.”

Soon after McCain hit the ground in Hanoi, the code went out the window. “I’ll give you military information if you will take me to the hospital,” he later admitted pleading with his captors. McCain now insists the offer was a bluff, designed to fool the enemy into giving him medical treatment. In fact, his wounds were attended to only after the North Vietnamese discovered that his father was a Navy admiral. What has never been disclosed is the manner in which they found out: McCain told them. According to Dramesi, one of the few POWs who remained silent under years of torture, McCain tried to justify his behavior while they were still prisoners. “I had to tell them,” he insisted to Dramesi, “or I would have died in bed.”

Dramesi says he has no desire to dishonor McCain’s service, but he believes that celebrating the downed pilot’s behavior as heroic — “he wasn’t exceptional one way or the other” — has a corrosive effect on military discipline. “This business of my country before my life?” Dramesi says. “Well, he had that opportunity and failed miserably. If it really were country first, John McCain would probably be walking around without one or two arms or legs — or he’d be dead.”

Once the Vietnamese realized they had captured the man they called the “crown prince,” they had every motivation to keep McCain alive. His value as a propaganda tool and bargaining chip was far greater than any military intelligence he could provide, and McCain knew it. “It was hard not to see how pleased the Vietnamese were to have captured an admiral’s son,” he writes, “and I knew that my father’s identity was directly related to my survival.” But during the course of his medical treatment, McCain followed through on his offer of military information. Only two weeks after his capture, the North Vietnamese press issued a report — picked up by The New York Times — in which McCain was quoted as saying that the war was “moving to the advantage of North Vietnam and the United States appears to be isolated.” He also provided the name of his ship, the number of raids he had flown, his squadron number and the target of his final raid.

and the confession: McCain was1 the only one of his group of 600 POWs to confess to war crimes. I can’t criticize someone breaking down under torture – that is what torture is designed to accomplish – break down the resistance of weak willed men, but is this really John McCain’s main qualification for running the country?

In the company of his fellow POWs, and later in isolation, McCain slowly and miserably recovered from his wounds. In June 1968, after three months in solitary, he was offered what he calls early release. In the official McCain narrative, this was the ultimate test of mettle. He could have come home, but keeping faith with his fellow POWs, he chose to remain imprisoned in Hanoi.

What McCain glosses over is that accepting early release would have required him to make disloyal statements that would have violated the military’s Code of Conduct. If he had done so, he could have risked court-martial and an ignominious end to his military career. “Many of us were given this offer,” according to Butler, McCain’s classmate who was also taken prisoner. “It meant speaking out against your country and lying about your treatment to the press. You had to ‘admit’ that the U.S. was criminal and that our treatment was ‘lenient and humane.’ So I, like numerous others, refused the offer.”

“He makes it sound like it was a great thing to have accomplished,” says Dramesi. “A great act of discipline or strength. That simply was not the case.” …

The brutal interrogations that followed produced results. In August 1968, over the course of four days, McCain was tortured into signing a confession that he was a “black criminal” and an “air pirate.” “

“John allows the media to make him out to be the hero POW, which he knows is absolutely not true, to further his political goals,” says Butler. “John was just one of about 600 guys. He was nothing unusual. He was just another POW.”

McCain has also allowed the media to believe that his torture lasted for the entire time he was in Hanoi. At the Republican convention, Fred Thompson said of McCain’s torture, “For five and a half years this went on.” In fact, McCain’s torture ended after two years, when the death of Ho Chi Minh in September 1969 caused the Vietnamese to change the way they treated POWs. “They decided it would be better to treat us better and keep us alive so they could trade us in for real estate,” Butler recalls.

By that point, McCain had become the most valuable prisoner of all: His father was now directing the war effort as commander in chief of all U.S. forces in the Pacific. McCain spent the next three and a half years in Hanoi biding his time, trying to put on weight and regain his strength, as the bombing ordered by his father escalated. By the time he and other POWs were freed in March 1973 as a result of the Paris Peace Accords, McCain was able to leave the prison camp in Hanoi on his own feet.

Even those in the military who celebrate McCain’s patriotism and sacrifice question why his POW experience has been elevated as his top qualification to be commander in chief. “It took guts to go through that and to come out reasonably intact and able to pick up the pieces of your life and move on,” says Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s former chief of staff, who has known McCain since the 1980s. “It is unquestionably a demonstration of the character of the man. But I don’t think that it is a special qualification for being president of the United States. In some respects, I’m not sure that’s the kind of character I want sitting in the Oval Office. I’m not sure that much time in a prisoner-of-war status doesn’t do something to you. Doesn’t do something to you psychologically, doesn’t do something to you that might make you a little more volatile, a little less apt to listen to reason, a little more inclined to be volcanic in your temperament.”

John McCain has never been interested in consistency, another aspect of his dice-throwing personality.

In June of this year, McCain reversed his decades-long opposition to coastal drilling — shortly before cashing $28,500 from 13 donors linked to Hess Oil. And the senator, who only a decade ago tried to ban registered lobbyists from working on political campaigns, now deploys 170 lobbyists in key positions as fundraisers and advisers.

Then there’s torture — the issue most related to McCain’s own experience as a POW. In 2005, in a highly public fight, McCain battled the president to stop the torture of enemy combatants, winning a victory to require military personnel to abide by the Army Field Manual when interrogating prisoners. But barely a year later, as he prepared to launch his presidential campaign, McCain cut a deal with the White House that allows the Bush administration to imprison detainees indefinitely and to flout the Geneva Conventions’ prohibitions against torture.

What his former allies in the anti-torture fight found most troubling was that McCain would not admit to his betrayal. Shortly after cutting the deal, McCain spoke to a group of retired military brass who had been working to ban torture. According to Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s former deputy, McCain feigned outrage at Bush and Cheney, as though he too had had the rug pulled out from under him. “We all knew the opposite was the truth,” recalls Wilkerson. “That’s when I began to lose a little bit of my respect for the man and his bona fides as a straight shooter.”

But perhaps the most revealing of McCain’s flip-flops was his promise, made at the beginning of the year, that he would “raise the level of political dialogue in America.” McCain pledged he would “treat my opponents with respect and demand that they treat me with respect.” Instead, with Rove protégé Steve Schmidt at the helm, McCain has turned the campaign into a torrent of debasing negativity, misrepresenting Barack Obama’s positions on everything from sex education for kindergarteners to middle-class taxes. In September, in one of his most blatant embraces of Rove-like tactics, McCain hired Tucker Eskew — one of Rove’s campaign operatives who smeared the senator and his family during the 2000 campaign in South Carolina.

“I’m sure John McCain loves his country,” says Richard Clarke, the former counterterrorism czar under Bush. “But loving your country and lying to the American people are apparently not inconsistent in his view.”

Footnotes:
  1. as far as I know []

Written by Seth Anderson

October 2nd, 2008 at 9:57 am

Posted in politics

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