Showing posts with label lobbyist. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lobbyist. Show all posts

Thursday, May 31, 2018

No, there is no bottom for right-wingers to hit

Let's just call this staggeringly odious and misleading Internet ad what it is.

It's the right-wing crazy machine's "Where the white women at!?" moment. There's no other explanation for using that artwork of Barack Obama, and using it in the manner of Cleavon Little meets Snidely Whiplash.

Particularly when Obama hasn't been president for a year and a half now.

Boris Badenov . . . president's FSB handler
It's something worthy of Boris Badenov . . .  or a Washington dark-money advocacy group with ties to the Koch brothers.

The spectacle of Republicans resorting to Obama-baiting -- still -- to thwart an effort to continue regulating a utility like, well, a utility just beggars belief. Or it would have beggared belief a decade ago. You know, before the Great "The President's a What???" Freakout.

And now that Donald Trump is president, I'll believe anything. Except, of course, a single word that comes out of his mouth.

IN AN AMERICA lost somewhere on the wrong side of a pee-colored looking glass, the old Jim Crow political tactic of n***** baiting has become the postmodern coin of the realm for Republicans. That's fair enough. After all, they've been looking more like Klansmen every God-forsaken day in this deviant and dysfunctional Age of Trump.

Thus, we have the right resorting to this "Where the white women at!?" demonizing of a man who's no longer running things -- all in the name of letting Corporate America screw consumers and potential economic rivals as much as possible.

No doubt, this is another GOP "freedom" moment.

And, as Janis Joplin told us all 47 years ago, "Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

If you can't dazzle 'em with cleanup. . . .

Some say the government is in complete disarray when it comes to dealing with the BPocalypse in the Gulf of Mexico.

I disagree.

The accusations of disarray and incompetence only stick if you assume the aim of the federal response is to protect the public and the environment. As this whole corporate catastrophe drags on and on, the less this assumption actually holds water.

From the start, though, BP's game plan has been clear -- cover up anything that will cost the oil giant money. But what one would think is the government's game plan only exists in some old textbook from high-school civics.

Instead, what we have is a federal government totally compromised by Big Oil and the political cash and Washington lobbyists in which it invests, as opposed to . . . safety measures. This means the top federal priority doesn't involve the American public or resources, but instead has everything to do with covering up its own complicity in the catastrophe.

BASICALLY, it's like this: If you can't dazzle 'em with effective regulation and governance, baffle 'em with bullshit.

Thus, the feds' whole
"Oil? What oil?" act as fishermen keep finding gobs of the stuff and researchers begin to laugh at the government's latest "science."

And now, from
The Daily Beast, comes the latest installment in our ongoing series, a little something we call If BP and the Feds Say It, You Know It's Not True:
While officials claim most of the oil from America's worst-ever spill has disappeared, fishermen hired by BP are still finding tar balls—and being instructed to hide their discoveries.

Two weeks ago, as federal officials prepared to declare that some three-quarters of the estimated 5 million barrels of oil released into the Gulf over three months had disappeared, Mark Williams, a fishing boat captain hired by BP to help with the spill cleanup, encountered tar balls as large as three inches wide floating off the Florida coast.

Reporting his findings to his supervisor, a private consulting company hired by BP, the reply, according to his logbook came back: "Told—no reporting of oil or tar balls anymore. Don't put on report. We're here for boom removal only," referring to the miles of yellow and orange containment barriers placed throughout the Gulf.

Williams' logbook account, which I inspected, and a similar account told to me by a boat captain in Mississippi, raises serious concerns about whether the toll from the spill is being accurately measured. Many institutions have an interest in minimizing accounts of the damage inflicted. The federal and local governments, under withering criticism all summer, certainly want to move on to other subjects. BP, of course, has a financial incentive.

The miraculous disappearance of the oil and the pending transfer of $20 billion to Ken Feinberg, who is independently overseeing the claims fund, have resulted in the oil giant cutting back its response operations. With a recent halving of the Vessels of Opportunity program, which hired fallow charter and commercial fishing boats, captains and deckhands are now less reticent to describe their experiences.

This includes Mark Williams, who worked in the program until he was deactivated last week. Williams' saga is typical. In May, he arrived in Alabama from Atlantic Beach, Florida, to captain a charter boat. He got one day of red snapper season before Roy Crabtree, NOAA Fisheries Southeast regional administrator, shut down the Alabama waters for fishing.

"That morning [June 1], we took a charter out to the 'Nipple' and saw what looked like a lot of grass," said Williams, referring to the part of the Gulf where the continental shelf gets very deep, a favored habitat for large fish. "When we got closer, we saw it was mattes of oil in solid slicks. By that afternoon, oil was getting in our reels. Crabtree shut down fishing the next day."

For the rest of June and much of July, Williams worked off and on as a deckhand on boats enlisted in the Vessels of Opportunity program, including a boat called Downtime that in early June first sighted tar balls and oil sheen in the Pensacola Pass.

Williams was also part of the skimming operations at Orange Beach when miles-long mattes of oil washed on to its shores the following weekend. Untrained, Williams remembers putting more than 100 pounds of oil-soaked absorbent boom in debris disposal bags that he was later told should have held no more than 20.

Subsequently, Williams saw seven large shrimp boats, with two Coast Guard vessels accompanying them, five miles off shore. "Plumes were everywhere," says Williams, referring to thin layers of crude oil floating on the water's surface. "Every time another boat would approach the shrimp boats, the Coast Guard would get on the radio and tell the boat to veer back to shore." Williams says he believes the boats were putting dispersant on the oil, even though the Coast Guard has denied using dispersant off the Florida and Alabama shores. "The plumes were gone the next day," Williams says.

Back in Florida on July 27, his boat, Mudbug, was activated into Vessels of Opportunity. While the media, BP, and the Coast Guard were reporting no more oil, Williams and other boat captains were assigned to find it.

Three days later, Williams found remnants of dispersant in a canal in Santa Rosa Sound north of Pensacola Beach. He reported it to his supervisor, who worked for a company that BP hired to help with cleanup, O'Brien's Response Management.

Williams wrote in his logbook, "Returned p.m. for check-out. [Supervisor] said, 'Oh, they sent someone out there and it was algae'—No fucking way—Idiots."

O'Brien's was founded in 1982 by Jim O'Brien, a retired Coast Guard officer, who originally called his firm O'Brien Oil Pollution Service, ironically known in the industry as "OOPS." Over the years the company has been acquired and merged with other response companies; it was hired by BP and Transocean prior to the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig as an emergency-response consultant.

On Saturday, July 31, Williams found a "tea-type" stain on the water and followed it toward Fort Pickens, which is the western tip of Pensacola Beach. He wrote in his logbook, "We found massive tar balls—both in quantity and size, in small gulley. They ranged from ping-pong ball to coconut in size not 3' from beach line."

After that, Williams was taken off spill and tar ball watch and put on boom removal. In an inlet north of Pensacola Beach, his crew sighted more tar balls. He wrote in his logbook: "Middle of Sound to off-load boom. 1" to 3" tar balls—floating—must be old—told [supervisor] at end of the day." That's when he was told not to make the report, but rather to simply gather up the boom.

“We found massive tar balls–both in quantity and size, in small gulley.”
Williams was deactivated from Vessels of Opportunity last week. Last Tuesday, the day before he was dropped, the boat captain wrote, "Coming back p.m. from Ono Island. Counted 12 oil plumes small in comparison to offshore between range marker and decon barge." This was a week after Carol Browner, a top energy adviser to President Barack Obama, announced 75 percent of the oil had been contained, evaporated, or dispersed.
I HAVE long said the last casualty of the BPocalypse will be whatever legitimacy the U.S. government has. That day draws nearer with every official lie -- with every public-relations obfuscation aimed at a public Washington desperately hopes is otherwise occupied with the misadventures of Snooki. Or cable-TV cage matches. Whatever.

In 1858, Abraham Lincoln, during his unsuccessful Senate campaign against Stephen A. Douglas, famously quoted the book of Matthew when he prophesied that "A house divided against itself cannot stand." Today, I'd like to think he would say the same about a nation buried in bullshit, because it's true.

You know the saying "You are what you eat"? Well, while we might well avoid consuming BP's finest Corexit-petroleum soup du jour, it's not so easy abstaining from the fragrant entrée every segment of our society -- most notably our leaders -- put before us daily.

And that's as deadly as anything BP can spew into the Gulf of Mexico.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The binge of the nerd?

They don't call it the Republican Party for nothing.

I mean, take this tasty tidbit about our -- at least we thought -- mild-mannered congressman in this morning's edition of the
Omaha World-Herald.

LEE TERRY, it would seem we hardly knew ye:
Republican Rep. Lee Terry is at the center of a storm over questions involving the relationships between lobbyists and members of Congress.

House Minority Leader John Boehner has warned several GOP congressmen to quit socializing with female lobbyists, according to Roll Call and the New York Post.
Terry became a focal point of the warning after a New York Post journalist reported witnessing Terry in conversation with a “comely lobbyist” at the Capitol Hill Club, a Washington hangout for Republicans.

“Why did you get me so drunk?” Terry asked the woman, according to the Post.

Terry, in a written statement last week, said the Post story was “completely false.”

Since then, an unnamed member of the Capitol Hill Club — where Terry reportedly talked to the lobbyist — said he, too, heard Terry make the remark. However, the anonymous source said there appeared to be nothing flirtatious about Terry’s conversation, according to Roll Call, a newspaper that covers Capitol Hill.

Terry continued to deny the incident Monday, saying in a second statement he doesn’t “socialize” with female lobbyists.

In the statement, Terry said: “The repulsive innuendo of the New York Post characterizing me as someone who socializes with female lobbyists is absolutely, unequivocally, 100 percent false.”
OH . . . this GOP smear ad against Terry's 2008 Democratic opponent might be worth recalling, considering:

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Down on the bayou, Boudreaux is f***ed

Hey, y'all! Watch this!

If you were wondering how a British oil giant figures it will get away with this whole "I am become death, destroyer of worlds" thang without its executives having to stockpile Soap on a Rope, read on.

It's nothing shocking, or even unusual by Washington standards, but the following information from
CNN Money is well worth going over now and again so it's not too crazy-making to bear when, at long last, Boudreaux gets hung out to dry next to his empty shrimp nets:
The lobbying firms working for BP are among Washington's most influential, including one headed by Ken Duberstein, a chief of staff for President Ronald Reagan, and another led by Tony Podesta, whose brother was President Bill Clinton's chief of staff.

"They are among the biggest of the big. Consistently, year in and year out, they spend millions in federal lobbying efforts," said Dave Levinthal, spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics. "How that will change post-oil spill remains to be seen, but it would be hard to believe their numbers would do anything but go up."

During the 2008 election cycle, BP spent $531,000, through its corporate political committee and in contributions to candidates. So far this cycle, it has spent $113,000, with most of the money going to Republicans.
WASHINGTON, you see, is where ugly people go to be high-dollar hookers. (I wonder whether Sarah Palin was sharp enough to know she committed a double entendre when she famously said "Drill, baby! Drill!"?)

God bless America, land of opportunity!
Unless, of course, you're Boudreaux and you used to fish the southeast Louisiana coastal waters.

In that case, podna, you're just f***ed.

P.S.: Oh, and there's this, too.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Loving abortion to death

How can we Democrats of the non-whack persuasion make this any clearer?

OK, how about this? You can kill the Stupak Amendment, or you can have health-care reform. You can't do both.

Or, perhaps this: You can double-cross pro-life Democratic congressmen and reintroduce what amounts to federal subsidies for killing babies, or you can pass a health-care bill. But both won't happen, because you don't have the votes.

WHAT ARE Americans to make of people for whom the "right" to abortion now means the "right" to government subsidies for abortion? How quickly a "private" matter that must be safe from governmental meddling -- one that's "between a woman, her doctor and her God" -- turns into a non-negotiable demand that the public subsidize something at least half of it finds reprehensible.

And the Culture of Death's caterwauling storm troopers
are marching for their "right" to have you fund their "right" to kill their offspring. One company comes from the AAUW, formerly known as Women So Open Minded Their Brains Fell Out the American Association of University Women:
AAUW is working nationwide to galvanize voters to protest the middle class abortion ban passed by the House as part of its health care reform bill. It's critical that the Senate not accept this intrusive provision.
ACCORDING to the outraged left, forcing me to violate my conscience by force of the tax code and the Justice Department would be a blow against the "intrusiveness" of women having to buy an abortion rider to their insurance policy:
AAUW has long advocated for choice in the determination of one's reproductive life and increased access to health care and family planning services. There's no doubt that health care reform is desperately needed, but it should not come on the backs of women. A fundamental principle of health care has always been to "do no harm." Make no mistake; the Stupak amendment does just that--leaving millions of women worse off than they were before. This is the biggest attempt to ban abortion services in years, and a similar amendment is already in the works in the Senate.
AH . . . I get it now, AAUW. You have the choice to kill your unborn -- or even your half-born -- child, and I have the choice to pay for it. Or else.

Gotcha. I'm so glad we could have this talk and clear some things up, AAUW.

What you're saying is you want me to help pay for your abortions so you can f*** with impunity, because it's your constitutional right. But my First Amendment rights do not include declining on moral and religious grounds to help pay for your abortions (thus killing your children so you can continue to f*** with impunity and not live in a trailer with seven kids by six fathers), because that would deny you your "privacy right" to kill your kids so you can f*** with impunity.

Is that what you're saying?

Please tell me where I'm wrong, because I'd hate to think educated women so upset about the "middle-class abortion ban" would be so bigoted as to only worry about a lack of "reproductive choice" when it's your "middle-class" abortion that's threatened. Or have I missed your going to the wall year after year for the past three decades in a bid to dispatch the
Hyde Amendment -- which denies federal funds for things like Medicaid abortions -- to the dustbin of history?

OR MAYBE you think it's OK for poor women to pay for their constitutional coitus with a lifestyle approximating the
Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe, while the taxpayer subsidizes your "safe sex" -- contraception and abortion.

After all, there still would be Medicaid . . . and the Hyde Amendment still stands.

But the bottom line is this: Double-cross pro-life Democrats,
and health-care reform is dead . . . and so, probably, is the Obama presidency. The president only has, oh . . . everything riding on this.

And if health-care reform dies, pro-life Dems will say this:

"We voted on principle. We cannot subsidize evil so that good might come from it. We will not pay to kill some so that others might have insurance. This is a tragedy, but we take seriously the principle of 'Do no harm.'"
MEANWHILE, if pro-choicers kill health-care reform because it insufficiently subsidizes abortion (and no, you can't "segregate" private and public monies when it all goes into the same pot), they'll have to say this:
"We voted down health-care reform on principle. We firmly believe that the government should make it as cost-free as possible for women to procure elective abortions of their babies. We knew going to the wall for this would doom the bill, but we think the right to federally mandated abortion coverage is a lot more important than your piddly-ass chemotherapy."
THEY DON'T call it the Culture of Death for nothing.

Monday, November 09, 2009

A special kind of nuts

What kind of insanity would cause supporters of health-care reform to declare war on the only thing keeping health-care reform from legislative oblivion?

THIS KIND of insanity, is what. The Hill fills us in:
A House Democratic leader said Monday she's “confident” controversial language on abortion will be stripped from a final healthcare bill.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), the Democrats’ chief deputy whip in the House, said that she and other pro-abortion rights lawmakers would work to strip the amendment included in the House health bill that bars federal funding from subsidizing abortions.

“I am confident that when it comes back from the conference committee that that language won't be there,” Wasserman Schultz said during an appearance on MSNBC. “And I think we're all going to be working very hard, particularly the pro-choice members, to make sure that's the case.”

The amendment, offered by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), won the support of Republicans and dozens of centrist Democrats in the House, but revealed a deep divide in the Democratic caucus over abortion.

Sixty-four Democrats voted for Stupak’s amendment, without which the House healthcare bill would not have won final passage in a 220-215 vote.
THE STUPAK AMENDMENT provided the thin margin by which health-care reform passed the House. Without it, you can bet it won't pass the Senate.

And if it's stripped in conference -- assuming Senate passage of a bill, which well might be a long shot -- the legislation will fail in the House. Really, what kind of insanity causes alleged supporters of health-care reform to intentionally doom what they say they're for?

I suppose the same kind of insanity that causes a society to execute its future in the womb and call it women's rights . . . even though at least half of the condemned are women.

And if you're OK with flat-out elimination of society's least powerful and least privileged members, what's the big whoop with telling those vastly more able to fend for themselves to "root, hog, or die," right?

Sunday, November 08, 2009

The House's prescription

For once, you have to give the U.S. House of Representatives credit. It pulled off the previously unthinkable.

And a good kind of unthinkable, at that.

After decades and decades, it finally passed something that's as close to universal health coverage as is likely to survive an American legislative chamber. Now if only the Senate would get on board. . . .

THE HEROES of the fight for health-care reform -- at least thus far -- are Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., and his band of pro-life Democrats. They won a ban on federal subsidies for abortion in the House bill and, in the process, assured its final passage.

MSNBC has the story:
"It provides coverage for 96 percent of Americans. It offers everyone, regardless of health or income, the peace of mind that comes from knowing they will have access to affordable health care when they need it," said Rep. John Dingell, the 83-year-old Michigan lawmaker who has introduced national health insurance in every Congress since succeeding his father in 1955.

In the runup to a final vote, conservatives from the two political parties joined forces to impose tough new restrictions on abortion coverage in insurance policies to be sold to many individuals and small groups. They prevailed on a roll call of 240-194.

The vote added to the Democratic bill an amendment sponsored by Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., and others, that prohibits individuals who receive insurance subsidies from purchasing any plan that pays for elective abortions.

House Democratic leaders agreed Friday night to allow a floor vote on the Stupak amendment to the bill in order to win the support of about three dozen Democrats who feared that the original bill would have subsidized abortions.

Ironically, the abortion vote only solidified support for the legislation, clearing the way for the conservative Democrats to vote for it.

A cheer went up from the Democratic side of the House when the bill gained 218 votes, a majority. Moments later, Democrats counted down the final seconds of the voting period in unison, and and let loose an even louder roar when Pelosi grabbed the gavel and declared, "the bill is passed.'

From the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada issued a statement saying, "We realize the strong will for reform that exists, and we are energized that we stand closer than ever to reforming our broken health insurance system."


The compromise brokered Friday night on the volatile issue of abortion finally secured the votes needed to pass the legislation.

As drafted, the measure denied the use of federal subsidies to purchase abortion coverage in policies sold by private insurers in the new insurance exchange, except in cases of incest, rape or when the life of the mother was in danger.

But abortion foes won far stronger restrictions that would rule out abortion coverage except in those three categories in any government-sold plan. It would also ban abortion coverage in any private plan purchased by consumers receiving federal subsidies.

Disappointed Democratic abortion rights supporters grumbled about the turn of events, but appeared to pull back quickly from any thought of opposing the health care bill in protest.
GOING TO THE WALL for abortion coverage, to state the painfully obvious, would not have been pragmatic. If you want to build a workable coalition around an already-controversial bill, you don't go around actively chasing off allies.

Like the Catholic Church, for one. Or pro-life Democrats, like Stupak and his confederates, for about 40 others.

It can't be emphasized too much that only by doing the "right thing" did Democrats save health-care reform from sudden legislative death.

It also can't be emphasized too much that the House has neutralized the biggest weapon in the anti-reformist arsenal. If one opposed health-care legislation on pro-life grounds, that's non-negotiable. That's something over which you "go to the wall."

Now, not so much.

Now, if pro-lifers are going to oppose health-care reform, they're going to have to explain how opposing coverage for millions and millions of the uninsured might be considered a "pro-life" move. They're going to have to explain how the perpetuation, by default, of a fundamentally unjust system responsible for the needless deaths of an estimated 44,789 Americans a year isn't a profound betrayal of the pro-life cause.

And you know what? They can't.

NO, IF "PRO-LIFERS" want to persist in railing about "socialized medicine" instead of getting behind an imperfect but as-good-as-we'll-get House-passed bill, they're going to have to admit that the pro-life movement -- or at least the K Street manifestation thereof -- really is nothing more than an anti-abortion movement.

I can think of no greater travesty . . . no greater affront to a God who, it has been rumored over 6,000 or so years of Judeo-Christian history, continues to care deeply about human beings once they emerge from the womb.

In today's deeply toxic and deeply stupid political culture, I am sure what I've just written will get me branded a "radical socialist" by more than a few. Well, if this be socialism, I will wear the "socialist" label with pride.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Love for sale, hunnert dolla . . . cheap!

The sense of entitlement some people feel knows no bounds. And then you have politicians, who are in a class by themselves.

Even as an economic plague sweeps across the land, you have at least one Nebraska legislator who thinks lobbyists' ability to buy him and his colleagues -- and their votes -- needs to keep up with inflation.
Nebraska state lawmakers are considering a bill that would raise campaign spending limits and raise limits on gifts from lobbyists to state officials.

A citizen watchdog group wants to know why Nebraska is increasing the amount spent on politics at a time when most of the nation is cutting back.

Lobbyists have been entertaining state senators on golf courses for years, but rising greens fees and other costs could soon make that impossible.

State Sen. Kent Rogert has proposed raising the gift limit from $50 to $100.

"I'd like to point out that very little costs $50 anymore, including a round of golf," he said. "It hasn't been changed in 20 years."

Rogert said that it's not just golf he's focusing on. Other popular gifts, including football and concert tickets, have also become more expensive.

"In changing the limits from $50 to $100, we're merely trying to improve the process with more common sense, ease and efficiency," Rogert said.

"The perception of raising a gift limit does not fly well with the public," said Jack Gould of Common Cause.

He questions why lobbyists need to give gifts at all, calling it simply a way to buy access to the political process.

"Officials have to be on guard about Greeks bearing gifts," he said.
I DIDN'T think it possible, but there you are. Nebraska has produced a legislator more brazen in his quest to be bought -- or at least rented for a while -- than the Gret Stet of Loosiana. Let us revisit that gem of a story which, by the way, comes courtesy of KETV television in Omaha:
"I'd like to point out that very little costs $50 anymore, including a round of golf," he said. "It hasn't been changed in 20 years."

Rogert said that it's not just golf he's focusing on. Other popular gifts, including football and concert tickets, have also become more expensive.
ROGERT OBVIOUSLY has his priorities as a public (wink, wink) "servant," but being an honest broker for his constituents isn't one of them. What, does Craigslist now have a category for "Senators Seeking Lobbyists"?

I don't know whether, as a Louisianian by birth, to be relieved or, as a Nebraskan by choice, to hang my head in shame. But I do know what needs to be done with Sen. Kent Rogert.

I can't say exactly what that is, being this blog tries to be at least somewhat family friendly, but I'll allow that it involves a 9-iron.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Would you buy a used lobbyist from this man?

Would this be an example of Sen. John McCain being "imprudent," like what one of his friends mentioned to The New York Times in that story the GOP presidential candidate so hotly denies?

Newsweek reports:
A sworn deposition that Sen. John McCain gave in a lawsuit more than five years ago appears to contradict one part of a sweeping denial that his campaign issued this week to rebut a New York Times story about his ties to a Washington lobbyist.

On Wednesday night the Times published a story suggesting that McCain might have done legislative favors for the clients of the lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, who worked for the firm of Alcalde & Fay. One example it cited were two letters McCain wrote in late 1999 demanding that the Federal Communications Commission act on a long-stalled bid by one of Iseman's clients, Florida-based Paxson Communications, to purchase a Pittsburgh television station.

Just hours after the Times's story was posted, the McCain campaign issued a point-by-point response that depicted the letters as routine correspondence handled by his staff—and insisted that McCain had never even spoken with anybody from Paxson or Alcalde & Fay about the matter. "No representative of Paxson or Alcalde & Fay personally asked Senator McCain to send a letter to the FCC," the campaign said in a statement e-mailed to reporters.

But that flat claim seems to be contradicted by an impeccable source: McCain himself. "I was contacted by Mr. Paxson on this issue," McCain said in the Sept. 25, 2002, deposition obtained by NEWSWEEK. "He wanted their approval very bad for purposes of his business. I believe that Mr. Paxson had a legitimate complaint."

While McCain said "I don't recall" if he ever directly spoke to the firm's lobbyist about the issue—an apparent reference to Iseman, though she is not named—"I'm sure I spoke to [Paxson]." McCain agreed that his letters on behalf of Paxson, a campaign contributor, could "possibly be an appearance of corruption"—even though McCain denied doing anything improper.

McCain's subsequent letters to the FCC—coming around the same time that Paxson's firm was flying the senator to campaign events aboard its corporate jet and contributing $20,000 to his campaign—first surfaced as an issue during his unsuccessful 2000 presidential bid. William Kennard, the FCC chair at the time, described the sharply worded letters from McCain, then chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, as "highly unusual."

The issue erupted again this week when the New York Times reported that McCain's top campaign strategist at the time, John Weaver, was so concerned about what Iseman (who was representing Paxson) was saying about her access to McCain that he personally confronted her at a Washington restaurant and told her to stay away from the senator.
GIVING THE strong impression that you're on the take is imprudent. Galavanting around the country with a hot lobbyist not your wife is imprudent.

Vowing to keep our overstretched armed forces in a Middle Eastern cesspool for 50, 100 or 10,000 years "if need be" is imprudent. Flat-out asserting "there will be other wars" is imprudent, if for no other reason than tipping your hand in a high-stakes international poker game.

Unless you're bluffing. Which -- given the stakes and your opponents' willingness to call your bluff in the name of Allah -- is damned imprudent right there.

What's really imprudent, though, is telling bald-face lies to a press corps that more than has the means, the skill and the motivation to conclusively prove you're a damned liar tout de suite. If McCain, on the verge of securing the Republican nomination, is that contemptuous of the truth then follows up by completely underestimating the press corps, he is a man who has no business in the Oval Office.

We've had a gullet full of just the same -- with catastrophic results -- from its present occupant.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

You have to admire his taste in lobbyists

Presumptive GOP presidential nominee John McCain seems to be picking an interesting way to spark some Bill Clinton-style crossover appeal in the general election.

According to The New York Times, the old goat has been acting more than a little like Bubba Himself the past decade or so. Special-interest soft money to keep the "Straight Talk Express" rolling along, zipping from sea to shining sea on other people's dime, lobbyists . . . a hot chick on his arm who wasn't Mrs. McCain.

But who was a lobbyist. A special lobbyist.

Well, you do have to admire the senator's taste in lobbyists. He'll be ready to something on Day One:
Early in Senator John McCain’s first run for the White House eight years ago, waves of anxiety swept through his small circle of advisers.

A female lobbyist had been turning up with him at fund-raisers, visiting his offices and accompanying him on a client’s corporate jet. Convinced the relationship had become romantic, some of his top advisers intervened to protect the candidate from himself — instructing staff members to block the woman’s access, privately warning her away and repeatedly confronting him, several people involved in the campaign said on the condition of anonymity.

When news organizations reported that Mr. McCain had written letters to government regulators on behalf of the lobbyist’s client, the former campaign associates said, some aides feared for a time that attention would fall on her involvement.

Mr. McCain, 71, and the lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, 40, both say they never had a romantic relationship. But to his advisers, even the appearance of a close bond with a lobbyist whose clients often had business before the Senate committee Mr. McCain led threatened the story of redemption and rectitude that defined his political identity.

It had been just a decade since an official favor for a friend with regulatory problems had nearly ended Mr. McCain’s political career by ensnaring him in the Keating Five scandal. In the years that followed, he reinvented himself as the scourge of special interests, a crusader for stricter ethics and campaign finance rules, a man of honor chastened by a brush with shame.

But the concerns about Mr. McCain’s relationship with Ms. Iseman underscored an enduring paradox of his post-Keating career. Even as he has vowed to hold himself to the highest ethical standards, his confidence in his own integrity has sometimes seemed to blind him to potentially embarrassing conflicts of interest.

Mr. McCain promised, for example, never to fly directly from Washington to Phoenix, his hometown, to avoid the impression of self-interest because he sponsored a law that opened the route nearly a decade ago. But like other lawmakers, he often flew on the corporate jets of business executives seeking his support, including the media moguls Rupert Murdoch, Michael R. Bloomberg and Lowell W. Paxson, Ms. Iseman’s client. (Last year he voted to end the practice.)

Mr. McCain helped found a nonprofit group to promote his personal battle for tighter campaign finance rules. But he later resigned as its chairman after news reports disclosed that the group was tapping the same kinds of unlimited corporate contributions he opposed, including those from companies seeking his favor. He has criticized the cozy ties between lawmakers and lobbyists, but is relying on corporate lobbyists to donate their time running his presidential race and recently hired a lobbyist to run his Senate office.

“He is essentially an honorable person,” said William P. Cheshire, a friend of Mr. McCain who as editorial page editor of The Arizona Republic defended him during the Keating Five scandal. “But he can be imprudent.”
IMPRUDENT. Just the quality I'm looking for in a president.