Todd Purdum & Vanity Fair Discover McCain the Gluehorse

Todd Purdum has a pretty extensive and in depth article on John Sidney McCain III just up at Vanity Fair. Here are the take away quotes and ethos of the article:

The prevailing question about John McCain this year is: What happened? What happened to that other John McCain, the refreshingly unpredictable figure who stood apart from his colleagues and seemed to promise something better than politics as usual? The question may miss the point. It’s quite possible that nothing at all has changed about John McCain, a ruthless and self-centered survivor who endured five and a half years in captivity in North Vietnam, and who once told Torie Clarke that his favorite animal was the rat, because it is cunning and eats well. It’s possible to see McCain’s entire career as the story of a man who has lived in the moment, who has never stood for any overriding philosophy in any consistent way, and who has been willing to do all that it takes to get whatever it is he wants. He himself said, in the thick of his battle with Hayworth, “I’ve always done whatever’s necessary to win.” Maybe the rest of us just misunderstood.

Yes, no kidding, you certainly did misunderstand. Or were willfully blind because the bloated national media depiction of McCain has always been as fraudulent as he has always been.

There is a difference between facing a changed and shrunken external reality (which McCain surely now does) and changing one’s essential nature (which McCain almost certainly has not). He has always had a reckless streak, and he has repeatedly skated by after conduct that would have doomed others less resourceful, resilient, or privileged. As a navy pilot, he crashed three planes before being shot down by a surface-to-air missile over Hanoi. He spent harrowing years in captivity in North Vietnam, and parlayed that fame into a high-profile job as the navy’s liaison to the Senate, and then parlayed that—with the help of his second wife’s family fortune—into a political career in his adopted state of Arizona, first winning a seat in the House of Representatives in 1982, and then taking Barry Goldwater’s Senate seat upon his retirement, in 1986.

Yes, indeed. Put more simply, McCain is a dilettante who has always relied on his blue blood and family history, and then his POW status and wife and family’s largesse, to get everywhere he has gone; he has never been a man of accomplishment of his own accord. Nice of you to finally Read more

Military Encroachment On Civilian Authority & Seven Days In May

Via Digby comes this unsettling article by David Wood in Politics Daily about the growing militant contempt among military leadership for civilian authority and control.

The military officer corps is rumbling with dissatisfaction and dissent, and there are suggestions from some that if officers disagree with policy decisions by Congress and the White House, they should vigorously resist.

Officers have a moral responsibility, some argue, to sway a policy debate by going public with their objections or leaking information to the media, and even to sabotage policy decisions by deliberate foot-dragging.

This could spell trouble ahead as Washington grapples with at least two highly contentious issues: changing the policy on gays and lesbians in the military, and extricating U.S. forces from Afghanistan. In both cases, senior officers already have disagreed sharply and publicly with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and President Barack Obama, and in some cases officers have leaked documents to bolster their case.

…..

“The military officer belongs to a profession upon whose members are conferred great responsibility, a code of ethics, and an oath of office. These grant him moral autonomy and obligate him to disobey an order he deems immoral,” writes Marine Lt. Col. Andrew R. Milburn in Joint Forces Quarterly, an official journal published by the National Defense University under the aegis of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

That is especially true if his civilian leaders are incompetent, writes Milburn, who currently is assigned to the U.S. Special Operations Command in Stuttgart, Germany.

….

“When the results of bad decision-making are wasted lives and damage to the Nation; when the customary checks laid down in the Constitution — the electoral voice of the people, Congress, or the Supreme Court — are powerless to act in time; and when the military professional alone is in a position to prevent calamity, it makes little sense to argue that he should not exercise his discretion,” Milburn writes.

Read the entire article; please.

Now, there is no sense of any direct coup type of trend afoot in all this so much as an accelerating trend to the militarization of government and resigned acceptance by the Read more

Sparky Takes a Dump, Produces Turd Named McCain and Other News and Notes From Wingnut Hell In Arizona

Yes, that is Sparky the Sun Devil and the small turd next to him is John McCain (no, it is not a photoshop; is a real picture McCain himself put out on Twitter). As you may have heard, the Arizona primary was last Tuesday and McCain squeaked by the “serious challenge” of gasbag extraordinaire J.D. Hayworth. McCain beat Hayworth by 25 points. But for months, going back even well before Hayworth finally was forced to quit campaigning on his radio show and admit he was actually running, the national media clucking heads were yammering relentlessly about how McCain was “vulnerable” and “in the fight of his political life”. It was, as just about everything with McCain is, a complete gin job and fabrication by the national media.

Here is what I said in an email discussion with a number of colleagues back on February 24 after one of them started talking about McCain being in trouble:

I am telling you, I just do not, at least yet, see any giant tidal wave here for Hayworth. … It may change, but so far in Arizona, the Hayworth bandwagon is far overrated by the national chattering classes.

….

Again, the problem is there is a very established Republican party and attendant power and money machine here and they do not like JD Hayworth for shit and never did; they did not give a rat’s ass about him losing to Harry Mitchell, in fact if they had, he would not have lost. Quite frankly, McCain is not their favorite either in some regards; but he sure is compared to Hayworth historically. Plus McCain has Grant Woods behind the scenes again, and he is very good and pretty ruthless. Hayworth’s sound bites make for dandy fodder for FoxNews, MSNBC and, to a lesser extent CNN, but they do not mean diddly shit here. This is not a national election, it is an Arizona Republican primary.

I tried to correct the record with any number of places and people when I saw this meme, right up to the election; mostly to little avail. I am a native here and have been around a long time, there was just never a chance in hell that Hayworth could even get close to McCain; but you just could not stop the national political horserace chattering chowderheads like Chuck Todd, Chris Matthews, Chris Cillizza, the Politico boys etc. from perpetrating this pile of dung.

They were full of it as the vote total demonstrated. Now they have blithely moved on to compensating for their ignorance and/or incompetence by clucking about “yes, yes, McCain won big, but he had to sell out and be someone he wasn’t to do it”. See for instance USA Today, NPR, Reuters, and Dan Balz of the Washington Post.

It is all pure unadulterated rubbish. A con. McCain has always been a completely self serving grifter con who has never been dedicated to any principle or cause other than John McCain. McCain walked out on his first wife and family after returning from Vietnam, after she had waited for him the entire time and while she was crippled and laid up bedridden from a tragic car accident. Left her while they were still married and brought his flim flam carpetbag to Arizona because it provided what he thought was his best shot of anywhere in the country to get a seat in Congress and because there was a very cute and very rich beer heiress here whose family could provide him with the juice and Read more

Blago Goes Quietly Into The Night

Remember when Rod Blagojevich was making all kinds of noise about calling Barack Obama, Rahm Emanuel, Durbin and Reid, Valerie Jarrett and taking the witness grand stand himself to tell his side of the story in his defense to the criminal prosecution by Pat Fitzgerald and his NDIL team of prosecutors?

Well all the Blago fireworks were duds, most precluded by a strict trial judge, James Zagel, through granting prosecution motions to preclude. And then, a little over a week ago, came the crushing blow that even Hot Rod himself would not take the stand in his own defense.

Standing before a crush of reporters, cameras and microphones, Rod Blagojevich said he wanted to take the stand in his defense but instead took the advice of his attorney Sam Adam Sr., who convinced him the prosecution hadn’t proved its corruption case.

“I felt all along and believed all along that I was going to testify,” he said in the lobby of the federal courthouse.

The former governor said the government’s case wasn’t as they presented it, noting prosecutors didn’t call witnesses Antoin “Tony” Rezko and Stuart Levine, both convicted in the federal probe.

With Adam disagreeing with his son Sam Adam Jr. over his testimony, Blagojevich said he picked the elder attorney’s advice.

“Sam Junior still at this moment wanted me to testify and, frankly, so did I,” Blagojevich said.

He said the decision was discussed late into Monday night.

“Sam Adam Sr.’s most compelling argument — and ultimately the one that swayed me — was that the government in their case proved my innocence,” he said. “They proved I did nothing illegal and that there was nothing further for us to add.

The anticipated Blago fireworks fizzled so badly that the media have taken to calling it a “victory” for Democrats just in order to find something – anything – to talk about for their coverage:

“They dodged a bullet because it would have been weeks of dragging in these high-level people and talking about the schemes and all that,” Illinois GOP chairman Pat Brady said.

Blagojevich’s attorneys had plastered Washington and Illinois with subpoenas. Besides Emanuel, Reid and Giannoulias, his lawyers also initially wanted Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett and Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin to appear. They even wanted to subpoena Obama, but weren’t allowed to by a judge.

That none of them ended up testifying doesn’t mean Republicans will let voters forget that Blagojevich is a Democrat as they try to pry loose the party’s grip on the Senate seat and Illinois state government.

And other issues, like Illinois’ $13 billion deficit, help mitigate the damage of the Blagojevich trial, said DePaul University political science professor Michael Mezey.

“It’s going to be yesterday’s news by the time election season starts Labor Day,” he said.

I am not sure this is any big “victory” for Democrats, but there is some merit Read more

Lanny Davis Fudges and Shills His Way Through Another Op-Ed

Being away to San Francisco to cover the Prop 8 Closing Arguments this week, I am just catching up on a few things. One I would like to point out is the contemptible and disingenuous op-ed Lanny Davis deposited at The Hill:

Two events last week involving elements of the Democratic Party who call themselves the “true progressives” show a danger they represent to the progressive change they say they want to effect. Together they offer President Barack Obama an opportunity for a “Sister Souljah moment” — perhaps to save the Democratic Party majority in both houses of Congress, as well as his progressive agenda in the last two years of his administration.

First was the success of Sen. Blanche Lincoln in June 8’s Arkansas Democratic primary, despite a campaign organized by these self-described progressives, along with certain labor unions.
……
The second event was a conference on that June 8 primary day, held in Washington and organized by the Campaign for America’s Future, a self-described “progressive” organization, which cheered denunciations of Obama for “retreat on Guantánamo [and] no movement on worker rights or comprehensive immigration reform,” according to The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, and shouted down and nearly prevented liberal House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) from speaking.
……
President Obama can confirm that the Democratic Party still stands for the centrist, Clintonian combination of fiscal conservatism, cultural moderation and progressive social programs that favor the middle class over the extremely wealthy — the best chance the Democrats have to hold their majorities in both houses of Congress and to enact the progressive changes that the critics on the left say they truly want.

The holier than thou arrogance and self entitled belligerence of Davis is simply stunning. As if Obama has not scorned the progressives and netroots enough already. Davis apparently feels he is the one who gets to decide who is, and who is not, a “true Progressive” and those he deems unfit are due the “Sister Souljah” execution hit. Nice. In the process of whining about progressive activism destroying Democratic party unity, he wants to divide, marginalize and destroy a significant sector of the Democratic party. Clearly Davis’ clarity of thought has been so addled by the toxic brine of the inbred Washington Beltway elitism he cannot see he is committing the very sins he complains of. Either that or he is so cravenly duplicitous he does not care. Davis has a history of such duplicity.

Davis similarly accuses the netroots of being “long on innuendo and personal attacks and short on substance”, which is hilarious for a man lobbing unlinked, uncited and unsupported screed in such a deceptive manner. For instance Davis directly intimates that if/when Blanche Lincoln loses in the general election it will because of the netroot and labor supported primary challenge of Bill Halter in Arkansas. This bit of self serving dishonesty of course neglects the fact that if Davis and his fellow centrist corporate shills really cared about retaining the seat in the general election, they should have supported Halter who arguably was a stronger candidate in the general than Lincoln. Not to mention Read more

Tired McCain a Foundering Gluehorse Without Weaver

There has been some speculation and gossip spurred by Dan Nowicki’s report in the Arizona Republic that John McCain is shaking up his campaign staff:

Sen. John McCain is shaking up his campaign leadership team as the Arizona Republican readies for an all-out ground fight in his closely watched GOP primary battle against former Rep. J.D. Hayworth.

Campaign manager Shiree Verdone is moving to a 2010 “Republican Victory” fundraising operation. Mike Hellon, a former Arizona Republican Party chairman who had a part-time role as deputy campaign manager, will join her there.

Neither Verdone nor Hellon was fired, said Brian Rogers, McCain’s campaign spokesman, who confirmed the staff changes Friday in a statement to The Arizona Republic.

Gossip magnet The Politico has picked up the deck chair rearranging too, as have the cable cluckers. Thing is, if you know McCain, there is no real “shake up” since the core of his election organization, which has been around him a long time, is almost completely intact and in charge. As Nowicki noted further down in his article:

McCain’s strategy and decision-making brain trust of longtime advisers Rick Davis, Charlie Black, Mark Salter, Carla Eudy and Mark Buse remains intact.

So, the term “shake up” is pretty much hyperbole; McCain’s posse is quite intact. In fact, you almost have to wonder whether this “shakeup” is about some kind of money cost laundering – shifting expenses somehow – since these staffers are just joining the RNC AZ staff.

The above being said, McCain has been publicly revealing the inner tired old gluehorse he really is an awful lot lately. McCain has always been the supreme narcissist whose only concern at any given time or situation is limited to what he thinks helps John McCain. His willingness to wildly say anything, no matter how inconsistent or absurd, has really been on full display lately, most notably with his craven about face on immigration and the “dang fence” (which even had fellow Arizona Republican John Shaddegg laughing).

So, what is missing for Old Gluehorse McCain? Why is McCain’s hypocritical narcissism more glaring than usual? No John Weaver that is why; and Weaver’s absence is why I said above that McCain’s team is “almost completely intact”. John Weaver was the smarts of the outfit who made the “McCain the Trusted Maverick” gloss up out of whole cloth and had the good sense to keep the real McCain on a short leash and away from the hypocritical stupidity he is naturally prone to. For a really excellent look at how Weaver made the McCain the press fell in love with, take a look at this Texas Monthly article (simple registration may be required, but it is quite good).

The Old Gluehorse should have been put out to pasture long ago; it is just more obvious now without John Weaver.

[graphic by Neil Alderney]

Dems Not Only Call for National ID, but for Anti-Democratic National ID

As DDay reported, the Reid-Schumer-Menendez draft on Immigration Reform calls for a national ID card (which they call a “biometric” or “fraud proof” social security card). Perhaps in a move to placate civil libertarians, the draft insists the card will only be used for employment.

It will be unlawful for any person, corporation; organization local, state, or federal law enforcement officer; local or state government; or any other entity to require or even ask an individual cardholder to produce their social security card for any purpose other than electronic verification of employment eligibility and verification of identity for Social Security Administration purposes.

Now, let’s pretend for a moment that this national ID program would actually fix the problem of employers trying to hire cheap, vulnerable labor rather than paying market rate wages. Let’s pretend for a moment that this national ID program would avoid all of the security and privacy issues that such a program will be bound to have.

Why in fuck’s name would anyone with a “D” next to their name advocate for a national card–of any sort–without at the same time attaching it to automatic voter registration, also tied to the card? Why would the Democratic party propose any national program that did not, at the same time, insist on getting rid of our byzantine voter registration system that leaves large chunks of the population exposed to disenfranchisement? Even if this is just a stunt designed to prove Democrats are “serious” about compromise so they can embarrass the bigots even more for their refusal to accept the compromise, why would you ever miss the opportunity to tie a universal registration card to a potential fix to the problems in our election system?

Supreme Court Unleashes Corporate Campaign Cash In Citizen's United Decision

images5thumbnail1.thumbnail11The stunning and decisive loss by Martha Coakley to Scott Brown in the Massachusetts Senate special election has already caused a tsunami of fear among Democrats, and corresponding joy among Republicans, heading toward next fall’s midterm elections. If you think this is cause for concern for Democrats looking forward to the 2010 midterm elections, picture the scene if the Republican party were also able to benefit from removal of restrictions on corporate and financial industry cash infused into their electoral coffers heading into the midterms and 2012 Presidential election.

As I wrote back last August, the Supreme Court took very unusual steps in a case by the name of Citizens United v. FEC to craft a case – originally argued on separate grounds – into a vehicle to make a Supreme Court declaration on the constitutionality of campaign finance restrictions and regulations. As Adam Cohen of the New York Times put it:

If the ban is struck down, corporations may soon be writing large checks to the same elected officials whom they are asking to give them bailouts or to remove health-and-safety regulations from their factories or to insert customized loopholes into the tax code.

Citizens United v. FEC was originally argued on March 24, 2009; but subsequently noticed for re-argument on the new grounds involving the opening of corporate campaign contributions on September 9, 2009. The general consensus among the cognoscenti is that the Justices were leaning heavily toward blowing up the regulations and restrictions on corporate campaign contributions. For a complete blow by blow procedural and substantive history leading up to the decision, see Lyle Denniston’s SCOTUSWiki on this case.

Well, the decision in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission is in and attached hereto. As you can see, it is a 5-4 split decision with Justice Kennedy writing the majority opinion. The decision below is reversed in part and affirmed in part, and the seminal case of Austin v, Michigan is hereby overruled as is that part of McConnell v. FEC which upheld the resitrictions on independent corporate expenditures. In dissent, and/or partial dissent is Justice Stevens, joined by Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Breyer. Justice Thomas also filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part.

Today’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC abolishes the previously settled distinction between corporate and individual expenditures in American elections and would appear to apply to state and local elections as well as Federal ones given that the Court recognizes such a First Amendment right. This is literally an earth shattering change in the lay of the land in campaign finance, and it will have ramifications in every way imaginable for the foreseeable future.

Quoting a very interested observer, Senator Russ Feingold, he of McCain-Feingold fame, John Nichols had this to say in The Nation:

But U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, the Wisconsin Democrat who has been in the forefront of campaign-finance reform efforts for the better part of two decades, is worried.

“This would be in my view, a lawless decision from the Supreme Court,” says the senator who gave his name to the McCain-Feingold law. “Part of me says I can’t believe they’ll do it, but there’s some indication they might, and that means the whole idea of respecting the previous decisions of the Supreme Court won’t mean anything anymore.”

A lawyer who chairs the Constitution Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Feingold notes with regard to controls on corporate campaigning: “These things were argued in 1907, when they passed the ban on corporate treasuries. It was argued in 1947, Taft-Hartley did this. The Supreme Court has affirmed over and over again that it’s not part of free speech that corporations and unions can use their treasuries (to buy elections).”

If the court does overturn both law and precedent to advance a corporate Read more

Conyers v. Obama: The “Demeaning Team”

I wasn’t going to post on this–I was going to let John Conyers and Barack Obama to have their public spat in peace.

According to [John Conyers], the president picked up the phone several weeks ago to  find out why  Conyers was “demeaning” him.
Obama’s decision to challenge Conyers highlights a sensitivity to criticism the president has taken on the left.

Conyers’s critical remarks, many of which have been reported on the liberal-leaning Huffington Post, appear to have irritated the president, known for his calm demeanor.

Conyers, the second-longest-serving member of the House, said, “[Obama] called me and told me that he heard that I was demeaning him and I had to explain to him that it wasn’t anything personal, it was an honest difference on the issues. And he said, ‘Well, let’s talk about it.’”

[snip]

“I’ve been saying I don’t agree with him on Afghanistan, I think he screwed up on healthcare reform, on Guantánamo and kicking Greg off,” Conyers said, referring to the departure of former White House counsel Greg Craig.

[snip]

The liberal Conyers has been an outspoken proponent of a single-payer healthcare system and a critic of U.S. involvement in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

He has also been at odds with White House policy on extending expiring  provisions of the Patriot Act, crafting legislation that is to the left of the Senate’s version.

But I thought it worthwhile to elaborate on what the Hill said about Conyers’ support for Obama–which reminds that Conyers was the first CBC member to endorse Obama.

Conyers played a pretty important role in the way Michigan’s Clusterfuck of a primary worked out. Read more

The Danger of Losing Beat Reporters: The ACORN Hoax

Go read this E&P article analyzing how right wing’s noise machine managed to plant a particular narrative about ACORN in the traditional press. (h/t Susie) The whole thing is good–relying on data and interviews with individual reporters. But I want to draw attention to a detail the report doesn’t make explicit: that the reporters who proved immune to the right wing noise machine were, for the most part, beat reporters. Here are the descriptions of the reporters E&P singles out for praise:

One of the rare reporters who does cover community organizing is National Public Radio’s Pam Fessler. Fessler was perhaps the best qualified reporter in the country to report on the allegations of voter fraud. Her beat includes poverty, philanthropy, and nonprofit groups, and she has also covered voting issues since 2000. Her NPR reports were the best fact-checked of all of the reports we studied.

Fessler was familiar with ACORN and complaints about its voter registration work long before the 2008 election. “Since I’ve been covering voting issues, ACORN has been popping up as an issue almost every election.” ACORN’s notoriety at election time, she said, is because the organization has been a “target by Republicans across the country and some local election officials.” Based in Washington, Fessler was aware that the Republican National Committee had spotlighted the voter fraud issue, particularly as Election Day 2008 neared. “The RNC started holding these phone conference calls almost daily when they were specifically targeting ACORN.” The RNC sent out almost daily releases on the topic as well.

[snip]

Kevin Diaz is the Washington correspondent for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. He started as a metro reporter at the newspaper in 1984, and has been based in D.C. since 1999. Diaz is familiar with what ACORN does, and said their operations are “pretty robust in the Twin Cities.” The allegations of voter fraud came to his attention as he was covering the presidential election. Although most of the attacks were national, Diaz said that some Minnesota Republicans were on the offensive against ACORN, particularly Mary Kiffmeyer, a former Minnesota Secretary of State, and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann.

Because there had been some irregularities in Minneapolis-St. Paul in past elections, and because he “thought this would be a tight race,” Diaz decided to look into the allegations. After his investigation, Diaz reported on his findings published in a front-page Oct. 24, 2008 story.

“Yes, there had been a track record of voter registration fraud, but that’s different from voter fraud,” Diaz said. Diaz also had a different explanation for the source of the voter registration fraud. “The irregularities were perpetrated against ACORN, not by ACORN,” Diaz said,

[snip]

Joe Guillen, a metro reporter at the [Cleveland] Plain Dealer since 2004, wrote his first story about ACORN and voter registration problems before it became a national story and organizations like Fox News and the New York Post visited Cleveland. “I was covering the Board of Elections – it was part of my beat. I went to every board meeting.” That’s where Guillen first heard of problems. “A woman in the registration department told the Board that there had been a problem with a batch of voter registration cards.” The problems included registration cards filled out by multiple people and some cards with transposed addresses. At that point, they were still in the process of finding how much ACORN registration workers were involved in the problems.

In his reporting, Guillen stayed in touch with Cleveland ACORN representatives and their superiors, as well as the members and staff of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.

Read more

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