Friday, October 17, 2008

ZOMG! ONOZ! Garrett freaks out over "boogyman"!!

In another sign of Scott Garrett?s priorities, he has now decided to not only go after an organization whose main purpose is to make sure that people who are eligible to vote are registered, but also to go after his opponent?s campaign manager for having the audacity to work for another organization that ?was aligned with? the organization that registers voters.

Got that?

In a time where our nation is facing a financial crisis unlike one we have seen in decades (not to mention Garrett?s own ties to players that caused this crisis), the burning issue of utmost importance is that Shulman?s campaign is being run by someone who ?has ties? to an activist organization that ?has ties? to ACORN, an organization that has followed the law and is guilty of?.wait for it?.trying to help people vote.


I guess the fact that he is even more extreme than Bush (voting close to 90% with him but on the other 10%, Bush was the one who was reasonable), has personal ties to convicted republican felon Jack Abramoff, was not only one of 34 to vote against the stimulus bill but put forth his own stimulus bill that consisted solely of corporate tax breaks and is out of step and out of touch with this district?s voters put him in this predicament.

To see him spend time, his supporters? and donor?s money, and waste the time of his constituents in order to play some twisted (and highly lame) game of guilt by sort of association by sort of association not only had me wondering if we are to find out that Kevin Bacon also ?had ties to? ACORN and the Shulman campaign, but also for doing exactly what McCain is doing in his desperate and losing campaign--

Making up phony strawmen and boogymen to scare voters into forgetting the major problems that we are facing domestically, financially, militarily and on an overall global basis in the name of distraction and desperation.

I don?t know if it is more disingenuous or pathetic.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Palin wants to be "McCain's Cheney"

In all of the mockery, post debate punditry and mocking, there is a very important point that I haven’t seen explored nearly as much as it should – and that is the issue of the unitary executive theory that the Bush/Cheney administration has pushed beyond all levels of reality and legality.

The other night in the debate, Palin basically agreed with the excessive power of the Vice President’s office, and expressed support for continuing these policies under a McCain administration.

Why is this important, other than the basic premise of an Executive Branch running wild and running roughshod over the Legislative Branch – including all of the Executive Orders issued by Bush, the secrecy asserted by the current administration, the signing statements, the “I’ll hold my breath unless I get whatever I want” mentality? Well, we know that Palin just so happens to be under investigation for abusing her power as Governor of Alaska, and has already set a precedent for this dangerous behavior.

Not withstanding the fact that Cheney has a lower favorability rating than the devil himself, it is a dangerous view of the Vice President’s office and the view of how the Legislative Branch is supposed to balance out the Executive Branch (except for the past eight years, of course). Yet, Palin said the following last night (emphasis mine):

IFILL: Governor, you mentioned a moment ago the constitution might give the vice president more power than it has in the past. Do you believe as Vice President Cheney does, that the Executive Branch does not hold complete sway over the office of the vice presidency, that it it is also a member of the Legislative Branch?

PALIN: Well, our founding fathers were very wise there in allowing through the Constitution much flexibility there in the office of the vice president. And we will do what is best for the American people in tapping into that position and ushering in an agenda that is supportive and cooperative with the president's agenda in that position. Yeah, so I do agree with him that we have a lot of flexibility in there, and we'll do what we have to do to administer very appropriately the plans that are needed for this nation. And it is my executive experience that is partly to be attributed to my pick as V.P. with McCain, not only as a governor, but earlier on as a mayor, as an oil and gas regulator, as a business owner. It is those years of experience on an executive level that will be put to good use in the White House also.

To make matters worse, she draws on her abusing power “experience” as Governor to support her position.

Biden, in contrast, indicated that Cheney is the most dangerous Vice President in history, and being one who comes from the Legislative Branch, knows how much meddling and strongarming this current Executive Branch did when it came to neutering the Legislative Branch and process.

We may make fun of Palin – and sometimes it is for very good reason. However, she has had a taste of power; whether it be as Mayor or as Governor, even for a relatively short period of time. And she made it perfectly clear last night what she would intend to do with the power entrusted to the Vice President if McCain was to be elected – or even moreso if she were to become President.

This country couldn’t afford that with a Vice President like Cheney, who at least thought about and planned his actions (no matter how illegal or misguided or dangerous). With Palin, who seems to take pride in being clueless about pesky facts and rules and laws, it would be just as dangerous, if not more so.

Last night, Sarah Palin not only agreed with the unitary executive theory, but all but told the nation that she would wholeheartedly continue it if she were to be the Vice President.

For that, she should be called “McCain’s Cheney”. All of the power and vindictiveness, but with less foresight.

Leaked transcript of Palin giving McCain advice

So in response to questions of whether he would ask Palin for advice on certain matters, especially ones concerning foreign policy, McCain said that he has “turned to her advice many times in the past”.

And luckily, this is a day and age where conversations are overheard, meetings are recorded and the public is able to see or hear many discussions between or comments by high level officials that we never would have been able to have heard a few short years ago.

This is such a time. In a long discussion on various foreign policy matters, we see how McCain and Palin interact, as well as the types of issues that McCain has turned to Palin for advice on, not to mention the advice or wisdom that she has provided to McCain based on her “worldview”. The topics range from nuclear proliferation to the Middle East to Iraq to general strategy, and is quite stunning.

JM: So, we should probably make sure we are on the same page, and even though I have been to every country in the world and you haven’t left the United States until earlier this year, there are some things that I wanted to get your opinion on.

SP: You betcha!!!

JM: Now that the surge in Iraq has proven to be a huge success, we need to figure out what to do in terms of keeping the violence down so that we can declare victory. There are billions of dollars in surplus in Iraq and we need to make sure it doesn’t go into the hands of our enemies. What is the best approach?

SP: Oh gosh, I know that our troops are the bravest and boldest and we will be victorious. And as long as we keep Putin from rearing his head.....

JM: No, Sarah, Putin isn’t be involved in Iraq.

SP: You know that he is real dangerous though. And because they are right next to us, we need to make sure that we stay vigilant against any Russian invasion.

JM: Um, sure. Back to the Middle East.

SP:Okey dokey

JM: Well, the Taliban and al Qaeda are regrouping in Pakistan and are attacking our troops and since I already called Afghanistan a success and told Obama that he shouldn’t be striking targets into Pakistan – or at least not announcing it – I am kind of boxed in. What do you think we need to do here?

SP: Ya, well, first we have to recognize that those who attacked us on 9/11 and who we are fighting for our freedom are now not only in Iraq like they were when they attacked us, but now we have to take the fight to them and show no mercy.

JM: Sarah, that is sort of what Obama had already said, except that the 9/11 attackers were not from Iraq. We need another plan.

SP: Well, since spreading freedom and democracy in places like the Middle East are what we need to keep focusing on, then we need to make sure that the people in these countries can see the fruits of our freedom spreading and how we were able to win in Iraq and avenge the attacks on 9/11...

JM: Iraq didn’t attack us on 9/11.

SP: what about Russia? You know that I know a lot about Russia. I like your idea about kicking them out of the V-8. Then they won’t be invading our NATO allies, and invading a NATO ally is like invading us. Which you know, they can do right in my state of Alaska.

JM: Well, yes, but Georgia isn’t in NATO yet, and it is the G-8, not the V-8. V-8 is a drink and...

SP: Not a good drink though. Unless you have it in a bloody mary, which I always found offensive for 2 reasons. First, it is near blasphemous to say something like that about the Blessed Virgin who gave birth to our dear Lord and second, a bloody mary uses vodka, which is the drink of choice in Russia. And you always have to watch out for the Russians. Which, by the way, I can do right from my window.

JM: OK, let’s move on. Recently, the Queen of Jordan has been in the US recently talking about women’s rights, and since she is a hot piece of ass and you were in beauty pageants, I wanted to see how you can show her that we are serious about women’s rights issues

SP: Well, ya, sure. You know that we are all freedom loving humans and she just needs to know that the most important thing is to make sure that we rid their country of the evil terrorists. Once we do that, women in her country can share in all of the freedoms that you and I believe women should have.

JM: Let’s talk about terrorism in the Middle East. We know that Iran is a state sponsor of Hezbollah, and

SP: God Bless You

JM: What?

SP: You just sneezed.

JM: No, I was talking about Hezbollah, the terr...

SP: See, ya just sneezed again.

JM: You know what, just forget it. We’re done here.

The press blackout on McCain's medical records and cancer

We are all aware of the fact that John McCain is a survivor of melanoma – at least 2, if not 4 times, actually. And we also know that McCain, someone who was tortured (and there is ample evidence of the long term effects of torture, both physically and mentally) is not the shining example of someone in top physical shape.

And yet, when McCain, someone whose medical records are well over 1,100 pages and has a history of cancer, takes medication to sleep (not to mention whatever other medications he is currently taking for high cholesterol, arthritis and whatever else) not only released his records to a limited group of reporters for a three hour period of time with no ability for anyone to take notes or other documentation but also declined to release any further information, the press sits on its’ hands.

Here is someone whose health situation is more precarious than any other Presidential candidate (with the possible exception of Reagan in his 2nd term or Paul Tsongas), yet when 2,500 doctors call on him to release his medical records and answer questions about his cancer history, there is not a peep.

Oh wait, there WAS a peep. Matt Stoller wrote a long post about melanoma not too long ago. Americablog had a number of posts, including this one. Also, Brave New Films put together a must see video, which I have embedded below:

And an advertisement was put together talking about McCain’s age and health history - questions that not only should be answered completely and truthfully but also verified by independent doctors. Yet, after CNN declined to run the ad, MSNBC ran this ad a few times, only to stop under pressure from Fox News and Bill O’Reilly.

With a job as stressful as that of President, and with the poor health history of John McCain, it is simply baffling why there isn’t complete outrage with it comes to what McCain is hiding in his health records. I would think that if there were no major health issues with McCain, then he would be happy to put these questions to rest once and for all. Since he is refusing to open up his medical records, we do not know if he is dying of cancer. We do not know what medications he is taking. We do not know what other ailments he has. We do not know if he has been tested for Alzheimer’s, whether he has PTSD, or whether he has a hangnail.

This leaves not one but two main questions in my mind:

  • What is John McCain hiding in his health records with respect to his cancer and other potential health issues?

  • Why is the corporate media covering for him, when over 2,500 physicians have weighed in on their concern as well?

While we can all guess as to the answers here, I think that it is imperative that we keep asking these questions. We probably won’t get any answers, but at least we can keep this very important story out there - even more so with the growing concern over his running mate.

If not for Biden, she (and many other women) may be dead

It is well documented how much of a horrific record John McCain has when it comes to his views and votes and policies towards women. And while some people know about the Violence Against Women Act that Joe Biden was nearly singlehandedly responsible for drafting and getting passed, the stark contrast between how the two tickets approach issues important to women is not getting nearly enough attention.

Hopefully the following story will help change that.

I will keep the identity of this individual anonymous, but it is the story of someone who I have been corresponding with for the past couple of years on many issues, including voting rights, other political issues and more recently, some personal matters and discussions. She is someone in the progressive community, and has asked if I would help tell her story - a story that could very well have ended with her losing her life as well as her 2 daughters - if it wasn’t for this landmark legislation that Joe Biden was responsible for.

Although Biden’s legislation wasn’t passed until the 1990’s, she is certain that she and her daughters would still be running and hiding from her ex-husband, wondering if they would have the relevant protection from him if not for the provisions contained in the Violence Against Women Act.

I have received copies of the divorce papers, which included a lifetime order of protection, and her story includes a name change, numerous threats with guns and knives and her family’s fleeing 1,000 miles to get away from his stalking. The story includes her being dismissed from her job at a law firm because he was waiting in the lobby for her 2 days after he beat her, and the Firm “didn’t want any trouble”. At the time, there was no law against a husband merely “waiting for his wife”, despite what I am about to share with you. The divorce decree noted that he was guilty “without cause or provocation...of extreme and repeated physical cruelty”, and she “established by competent, material and relevant proof all of the allegations and charges” against him, some of which are noted below.

She was married around 1970, and here is a brief summary of some things that she had to endure before fleeing for her life in 1979 (it is in her exact words, so that is why it is in the first person):

  • One day I tried to defend myself while he was beating me and grabbed a steak knife and threatened him with it. He took it away from me and stabbed me with it. I carry that scar to this day.

  • As he was beating me he would always point his finger in my face and say "I don't try to leave me, because I find you and kill you and the kids."

  • Or Christmas Eve, 1974. I was 3 months pregnant with my 2nd child and his brothers were late for dinner. He beat me and choked me until I passed out. But before that, he threw the christmas tree and all the gifts out the 2nd floor window of our apartment.

  • In 1975, the cops pointed their finger at my husband and basically said we know she's your property, but don't get us called out here again.

  • In 1979, the cops hunted him down, escorted us out of the county when they didn't know where he was, escorted us to the hospital and stood guard the whole time we were there, and a judge signed a warrant for his arrest.

  • In 1979, the DA said it was my word against him that he even HAD a gun, much less tried to kill me and his daughters (4 and 8 yrs. old) because the girls were too young to testify. Even the neighbor child who was spending the night at my house was "too young to testify."

I am putting the rest in blockquotes because it shows how bad it got, and how little was done for years for it to get to this point.

[After moving out and hiding for a few months] one night he broke my door down in a drunken rage at 2:00 in the morning.

And he held us at gunpoint for 2 hours. Simultaneously, he was threatening all 3 of us, pistol whipping me, trying to convince myoldest daughter to come live with him (in his car). At one point, he put the gun in his 3 yr. old daughter's mouth (who was screaming at the top of her lungs on my hips) and told me "shut her up or I will."

When he came in, he threw the phone out the plate glass window, then the sofa.

Finally, I got all 3 kids between him and the only exit out of the apartment. I grabbed their hands and ran out the door and down the stairs. I was headed for the local 7-11 because they were open 24 hours. I figured someone would call the cops for me there.

As we ran down the street - me beaten and bloody - a woman and 3 kids, he got in his car and came up on the sidewalk. He shouted "bye kids" as he gunned it and tried to run us all down.

I ran into an apartment building, locked the door and just started shouting "Help me, someone help me. He's trying to kill us."

He, by the way was stopped by the cops shortly afterwards and was arrested for pulling a gun on the cop. After three days, she had to go back to work, because she had to support the children (he didn’t work for the past few years), and that is where he was “waiting in the lobby” for her. With no domestic violence laws, and despite the arrests, the beatings and everything else, not only was nothing done to stop him from threatening her, but her firm dismissed her (as stated above) because they didn’t “want trouble”.

This is when she fled 1,000 miles away to a city she never lived in, knew nothing about and knew nobody in. Her story has a good ending - she got counseling for the kids, changed their names, enrolled them in school and got a job.

But the hell that she had to endure would have been very different, and many women today would have to endure the same “do nothing until he tries to kill you again” mentality that existed at the time, if it wasn’t for the landmark legislation that Joe Biden was responsible for.

Because of that legislation, there are now shelters that battered women can turn to, there are hotlines and thousands of lawyers available and there is coordination between states and localities with respect to responding to domestic violence and rape - literally hundreds of new laws.

No woman should have to go through what she did. Not even close. Thankfully, she was able to start her life anew - to whatever extent someone that had to deal with years of such severe abuse can “start anew”. But at least she is alive.

It could have ended very differently if she didn’t get lucky and didn’t flee the way she did. And for millions of other women today, they don’t have to endure the living hell that she went through.

Joe Biden is a large reason why.

Scott Garrett: on the wrong side of the financial crisis.

Back in April, Scott Garrett lamented the end of deregulation:
“It’s disconcerting to see the end of deregulation, more so because it’s coming from our own administration,” said Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), a member of the Republican Study Committee, a panel of about 100 House conservatives. “As conservatives, we need to get our Republican, conservative brand back. … I can tell you we’re not going to get that brand back by embracing Democratic economic regulations.”

Not only is this in line with Garrett’s so-called “free market” approach which has resulted in predatory lending practices and the massive tax breaks for corporate America at the expense of the middle class, but is also in line with his campaign pledge in 2002 when he talked about deregulation being the answer to help businesses.

Make no mistake – Scott Garrett’s views on business are not taxpayer friendly (as evidenced by his very own stimulus plan that was entirely business tax breaks and his earlier votes on a bill regarding Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac).

But let’s look a bit deeper into Garrett’s actions when they directly related to companies like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Countrywide Insurance and Washington Mutual.

Garrett is on the House Financial Services Committee, and is therefore in a direct position to help taxpayers when it comes to the financial crisis. Yet, his votes have been on the side of the same corporate entities that have donated over $800,000 to Garrett over the years, including Countrywide and AIG.

His Chief of Staff, Amy Smith has longstanding ties to lobbying for the financial industry, including almost $400,000 in lobbying fees paid to her firm by disgraced mortgage giant Countrywide Financial over a 2 year period

A new ad was released by Dennis Shulman’s campaign that hits Garrett hard on his conflict of interest and cluelessness when it comes to the problems in the financial services industry. In a press release earlier today, Shulman said the following:

"Scott Garrett has been one of Washington's greatest advocates for deregulation while scooping up enormous amounts of campaign cash from predatory lenders seeking to avoid reasonable regulation," said Dennis Shulman, the Democratic nominee in New Jersey's Fifth Congressional District. "Scott Garrett has literally entrusted his taxpayer-funded office to a former lobbyist for one of his major donors, Countrywide Financial, while arguing that it is `disconcerting to see the end of deregulation.' I believe it is disconcerting to see a member of Congress continue to embrace the agenda of the corrupt predatory lenders who created the financial crisis that has destabilized the entire economy."

"Garrett consistently plays the corrupt Washington DC special interest game, building his campaign war chest by courting the special interests that he is supposed to be regulating. I have made a solemn pledge to refuse campaign contributions from any corporation I would oversee in Congress."

Let’s help Dennis send Scott back to NJ-5 for good. Here is where you can donate.

Friday, September 26, 2008

McCain should have won this debate handily. And he didn't.

Here is the most important thing that I took away from the debate tonight, and it is very basic and should be remembered and repeated as much as necessary.

While we dissect every aspect of this debate, including whether McCain was too angry, too grumpy or was able to hammer home phrases such as “doesn’t understand” or “naive” and whether Obama looked Presidential, agreed with him too much or was right on point when it comes to the issues, even if he didn’t have any memorable moments, there is one very important thing to take away from tonight’s debate.

This is supposed to be the one point that McCain is the strongest on, and Obama at a minimum held his own.

Sure, I thought that there were times that Obama could have landed a killer punch or that he should have been more forceful on McCain’s many lies. But there is one thing that we need to keep in mind, as the post-debate pundits talk and the McCain campaign trots out ads that show how much Obama agreed with certain points that McCain made. And that is on the issues of foreign policy, McCain did not blow away Obama.

Obama should have been crushed in this debate. McCain’s entire campaign is based on his supposed command of foreign policy issues, and Obama showed that he had a strong grasp of the issues (as we already knew) - all while looking Presidential. McCain may have gotten in a few digs, but the bottom line is that McCain should have won this debate handily, and he didn’t.

If McCain can’t show that he is that much better on foreign policy issues, and I am sure that there will be many fact checks indicating the numerous lies that McCain uttered (or mispronouncing the names of Pakistan and Iran’s leaders), then how can he claim that he is better suited to be Commander in Chief?

Make no mistake, the debate outcome was pretty close to an outside observer. Obama (I think) won on facts and substance. But McCain did very well in messaging and obviously knew what he was talking about - even if much of it wasn’t actually true. And the most important thing to remember is that we should be happy that Obama did as well as he did against McCain on McCain’s home turf.

John McCain should have won this debate handily. And he didn’t. That is the takeaway from tonight’s debate.

Monday, September 15, 2008

This is the McCain/republican economy

Frankly, anyone could have seen something like this coming – at least to some degree. The housing bubble, just like the internet bubble before it, had to come crashing down at some point. Either people couldn’t afford to continue buying houses at increasingly escalating prices, or some form of shenanigans in the form of interest-only loans or sub prime loans (just like junk bonds before them) or something that involved (1) an enormous amount of risk taken by financial institutions for short term profit, (2) deceptive lending practices aimed to confuse the average American home buyer and (3) a “don’t worry about paying now” mentality that only served to make more people pay much more later would be undertaken – only to fall like a house of cards when it came time to pay the piper.

This, while part of it, was the grand design all along. It was part of the “Bush ownership society” that promised everyone their own American dream. It was not meant to serve most of Americans, however – as all too many are finding out in horrific ways. None other than Alan Greenspan has called it “the worst economy he has ever seen”.

And, as I said above, this is exactly what Bush, McCain and the republican party wanted all along. As noted by the AFL-CIO’s web site, McCain still wants to privatize social security, all while raising the retirement age, cutting cost of living adjustments and voted against protecting social security.

McCain himself admitted to not understanding economics, and his top economic advisor (don’t think that Gramm isn’t still connected to McCain, or that he won’t be if McCain wins) called this a mental recession and the nation a bunch of whiners.

McCain’s tax plan is even worse in this economy. Greenspan said that this country couldn’t afford McCain’s tax cuts, and his current tax plan will continue shifting the wealth to the upper echelon of the uber wealthy, while 95% of households get a tax cut under Obama’s plan.

To strike a contrast, households making under $112,000 will get a bigger tax cut under the Obama plan than the McCain plan, with households making under $160,000 are pretty much a wash between the 2 plans. And oh, by the way, the stock markets do better under Democrats than under republicans.

In addressing the housing crisis, McCain’s comments included the following:

“Of those 80 million homeowners, only 55 million have a mortgage at all, and 51 million are doing what is necessary – working a second job, skipping a vacation, and managing their budgets – to make their payments on time. That leaves us with a puzzling situation: how could 4 million mortgages cause this much trouble for us all?


“I have always been committed to the principle that it is not the duty of government to bail out and reward those who act irresponsibly, whether they are big banks or small borrowers.”

McCain also skipped the vote on the economic stimulus package which would have been the deciding vote as the bill got 59 votes. While McCain’s campaign said he would have voted against the package, he showed a lack of honor, because:
By missing the vote, however, he didn’t have to go on record denying benefits to 20 million seniors and 250,000 disabled vets — both key blocs of support for his campaign.

The Bush tax cuts that went to the most wealthy – the ones that could have helped tens of millions of families and that McCain once was against, are now a cornerstone of his tax policy - further denying hardworking American families any small bit of relief that would be not just welcomed, but necessary.

And just as a little nugget - the McCain’s would have close to a $400,000 tax cut under his own plan.

When you look at how we got to this point – a stacked deck in favor of big business, tax cuts for the ultra wealthy, lower real wages, trade policies that do not favor the American worker or consumer, bailouts of major financial institutions instead of help for the working family trying to put food on their table, cuts to any government programs that helped the working class, unnecessary tax breaks to the oil companies and an ill-planned (not to mention illegal) invasion where wealthy and connected companies received millions of dollars in no-bid deals – this is the blueprint of the republican economic plan. This is “trickle down economics” on steroids. The only thing connecting this to the “ownership society” is that the American taxpayer is on his or her own..

These plans were reckless. They were designed to benefit the few – not the many. Even the tax rebates were a total farce that was designed as little more than a boon to the oil, credit card and retail industries. Even the freepers noted that the rebates didn’t boost the economy.

The worst part of this all is that the people who brought you the “worst economy in Alan Greenspan’s lifetime are ALL connected to the McCain campaign. Lobbyist after lobbyist after lobbyist (close to 200 in all) who worked on behalf of Big Oil, mortgage lenders (many lobbyists representing many mortgage lenders), insurance companies, telecom companies and energy companies that benefited tremendously from the Bush/Cheney energy policies.

Make no mistake - this is precisely the economy that Bush, Cheney, McCain and their republican party cohorts wanted, envisioned and willfully brought to the American people. And this is precisely the economy that McCain will continue bringing to America.

As none other than Pat Buchanan and Joe Scarborough said, it is an economy of “less jobs and more wars”.


As I promised DKos member LNK, here are some takeaways and talking points:

  • This economy is a direct result of the implementation of republican policies that McCain favored, and continues to favor;

  • Even Greenspan said it was the worst economy he has ever seen, and that we can’t afford McCain’s tax cuts;

  • McCain’s tax cuts overwhelmingly favor the wealthy, while families earning under $112,000 will fare better under Obama’s tax plan;

  • The stock market historically does better under Democrats than it does under republicans;

  • McCain still wants to privatize social security and reduce benefits;

  • McCain’s closest and top economic advisors have consistently put big business before the American people – working for the very financial institutions, oil companies and energy companies that benefited at the expense of American families; and

  • Under his own tax plan McCain would receive a tax cut that is over 7 times the average household’s entire income.

Friday, September 12, 2008

McLobbyist transition team head was ultimate Nixon insider

There has been a bit of eye rolling and amusement at “presumptuous” McCain picking the ultimate Washington insider lobbyist to head his transition team. But (hat tip to Rick Perlstein) there is a deeper and more sinister connection and bit of news about one William E. Timmons, Sr. that hasn’t gotten mentioned much, if at all.

That is - Timmons was Nixon’s chief congressional liaison and was known as Nixon’s congressional lobbyist.

OK, fine, so he was only lobbying Congress on behalf of a President who resigned in shame after impeachment was hanging over his head.

Or not. Seems as though a conversation between Timmons and Nixon was part of the “White House Tapes” that was noted in the book, Abuse of Power - and the discussion focused on Timmons and Nixon strategizing on how to push members of Congress (and who to push) with respect to conducting “investigations” .

In one conversation on July 2, 1971, Nixon and Timmons talked about the House Internal Security Committee, its members, and who Timmons should contact in order for the committee to “resuscitate itself” and conduct a half assed investigation with its’ Senate counterpart instead of having people convicted of conspiracy in the leak of hte Pentagon Papers.

Audio clip of this discussion is here, and a partial transcript is below:

President Nixon: Yeah. Well, now, how would that committee be, you think, to conduct an investigation of this conspiracy. You know what I mean?

Timmons: Mm-hmm.

President Nixon: Far better than having these people indicted and so forth, is really to call them before a committee and say, “Now look, did you do this or that or the other thing.” You know?

Timmons: Yeah.


President Nixon: Do you think Ichord would be—now, he’s running for governor, I understand, isn’t he?

Timmons: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

President Nixon: Don’t you think he ought to be willing to take a thing like this.

Timmons: I would think so. It’d be some headlines for him.


Timmons: You want me to set that in motion or . . .

President Nixon: Well, why don’t you—

Timmons: [Unclear.]

President Nixon: —yeah, why don’t you do a little . . . do a little sniffing around or something to see whether they’d like to . . . . Well, look, first of all, it can’t be from me, of course.

Timmons: Sure.

President Nixon: But what I’m getting at is, it would seem to me that this is an opportunity for that committee to resuscitate itself.4 You know what I mean?

Timmons: Mm-hmm.

President Nixon: It can become a very valuable committee now. They just call them up there.

Timmons: Mm-hmm.


President Nixon: What do you think?

Timmons: I think it’s a great idea. I had talked to [White House Political Operative] Chuck Colson just briefly about this—

President Nixon: Yeah. Yeah.

Timmons: —a week or so ago. I think it’s tremendous. In the Senate, you know, on the Government Operations Committee there’s a subcommittee on national security and international operations.

President Nixon: Yeah. Who’s that?

Timmons: It’s chaired by [Senator Henry M.] Scoop Jackson [D-Washington].

President Nixon: Yeah, but do you think Scoop would be willing to go—?

Timmons: I don’t. I doubt it. I just don’t know.

President Nixon: I don’t think he would. I wouldn’t rec—

Timmons: Messing around with the Senate, you know?

President Nixon: —get—Ichord’s people should step in and preempt this field.

Timmons: Mm-hmm.

Now, obviously there is a lot here, and we don’t need to repeat all that was said or get into a lengthy explanation into the relationship between Timmons and Nixon, or how Timmons became a lobbyist or who he lobbies for (although FireDogLake has an excellent post on that) or that he has been involved in pretty much every republican administration since Nixon.

But when McCain has tossed aside campaign themes as he has with his ex-wife or his honor when he returned from Vietnam, having gone from “experience”, to “country first” to “I’m not really that out of touch with everything” to “even though I’ve been around the same Washington establishment that brought failed conservatism, corporate favors being given out like candy and aggressive foreign policy, I’m really about change”, he picks someone to head up his transition team that:

  • Is known as the Washington insider in the republican establishment;

  • Has been involved with the Washington insider establishment for close to 40 years;

  • Knew of Nixon’s trying to improperly influence Congress to whitewash an investigation into the Pentagon Papers case;

  • Was involved in the plans to improperly influence Congress to whitewash the investigation; and

  • Headed Nixon’s legislative affairs office and lobbied Congress to not impeach Nixon (even toasting Nixon on the day he resigned).

This is the type of person that John McCain wants in charge of his transition team. In fact, this is the person that John McCain wants in charge of his transition team.

Clearly, McCain has left his honor in Vietnam.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

FLASHBACK: McCain's "secret plan" to get bin Laden

Back in January, John McCain talked about having a secret plan to get bin Laden:
“One thing I will not do is telegraph my punches. Osama bin Laden will be the last to know,” he said today while riding on the back of his bus between Florida events. In other words: he’s not telling. Why not share his strategy with the current occupant of the White House? “Because I have my own ideas and it would require implementation of certain policies and procedures that only as the president of the United States can be taken.”

Last night, Keith Olbermann had a special comment regarding the politicization of 9/11 by the republican party. Of course, the one thing that the republican party is very good at is politicizing national tragedies, as we saw from the death porn “tribute” at the republican National Convention a few days ago.

But this is about more than mere politicizing bin Laden or 9/11 or national tragedies (as the republicans tried to do again at the outset of the republican convention with respect to the hurricanes. It is about yet another example of reckless and dangerous behavior by John McCain and his playing politics with national security..

Why on earth would anyone, ANYONE who had an idea or a strategy to capture or take out the man who was responsible for the worst attack on American soil – an attack that was used as a pretext for pretty much everything that has been done to the people of this country, the people of Iraq and our allies around the world by the administration and its enablers in Congress over the past seven years - willfully hide and keep those ideas and strategies from those who have the ability to capture or take out that man?

Just as McCain has turned his POW experience into the latest version of “noun-verb-9/11” and excuse for everything he has ever said or done, he has done the same here in politicizing the 9/11 attack. McCain’s comments were on the heels of news that Pakistan was losing its battle against the Taliban and al Qaeda, and since McCain’s comment, attacks in Afghanistan have risen to record levels.

Unless there is something to the contrary, McCain should explain why he is purposely and willfully withholding what could be very valuable information as to bin Laden’s whereabouts, as well as the means to capture or kill him. To shamelessly use bin Laden or 9/11 for personal political gain, or to silence anyone who dares to question obvious lies or inconsistencies is the very definition of dishonorable behavior.

And if McCain does not have a “special super secret plan” to capture or kill bin Laden, he should explain why he feels the need to politicize a national tragedy as well as a national security issue for his own personal and political gain. Interestingly, this is also the very definition of dishonorable behavior.

On a day where our entire nation’s thoughts turn to that horrific day seven years ago, McCain owes it to the people of America - the people he wants to represent to share just how he plans to capture bin Laden – if not with the world, then certainly with those who have the ability to do so.

Or, he has the obligation to explain why he has obviously left his honor in Vietnam – as even something as sacred as a national tragedy and something as important as taking out those who were responsible for attacking us seven years ago is not off limits for politicization by a once-honorable man.

Too bad that once-honorable man is not the one running for President today.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

...and now for some messed up foreign policy news

Just in case everyone forgot that we have an overstretched and overburdened and overstressed military fighting in Iraq where there has been little political progress despite the “fact” (and I use the term loosely) that the escalation has been a resounding success, while the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan is getting worse, I want to point out three pieces of news that hopefully Obama or (gasp) McCain will have to deal with.

None of which are good, by the way.

First up is a report that the rate of Army suicides has gone up so drastically that it may surpass the rate of suicide for civilians.

Let that sink in, because this would be the first time that the military suicide rate exceeds that for the civilian population since the Vietnam War.

As of August, 62 Army soldiers have committed suicide, and 31 cases of possible suicide remain under investigation, according to Army statistics. Last year, the Army recorded 115 suicides among its ranks, which was also higher than the previous year.

Army officials said that if the trend continues this year, it will pass the nation's suicide rate of 19.5 people per 100,000, a 2005 figure considered the most recent by the government.

The rate is higher for military men than for civilian men, and is higher for younger people than for older troops. Not only that, but the cause is the multiple deployments, the stress on families and the higher exposure to combat:
"Army leaders are fully aware that repeated deployments have led to increased distress and anxiety for both soldiers and their families," Secretary of the Army Pete Geren said. "This stress on the force is validated by recent studies of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans reporting symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression."

I’m sure that the cut in veterans’ benefits and health services has nothing to do with that – which, by the way, McCain voted against increased benefits for veterans.

The second piece of news deals with the resounding success of the so-called “surge”, as we all know that there was a ton of political progress as a result of the decreased violence, right?

Or not.

A basic stalemate and “gridlock” on provincial elections, where nobody wants anyone else to have too much sway, therefore resulting in nothing.

Iraqi lawmakers returned from their summer recess Tuesday, still gridlocked over the critical law on provincial elections and with no new vote in sight.

A premature vote, warned Ali Adib, of the ruling Dawaa Party, could lead to another veto by the Kurdish leadership. "It means we'll go into crisis and the positions of the blocs will freeze and get more and more complicated," he said.

Elections in Iraq's 18 provinces are seen as crucial for national reconciliation and safeguarding the security gains of recent months. They would be the country's first since 2005 and would enfranchise many Sunnis who boycotted that round.

Good thing that it is a foregone conclusion that Saint McCain was right about the surge working as we see free and fair elections in Iraq, as well as all of the other political benchmarks being met. Long live freedom. And purple fingers.

And lastly, just as McCain was saying how much of a success Afghanistan was, and that is why we don’t hear about it anymore (despite the record number of troop deaths and attacks, or the fact that al Qaeda and the Taliban are running free between Pakistan and Afghanistan), there is the America hating Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff saying that we are not winning in Afghanistan and we can’t “kill our way to victory”.

But but but, I thought that Afghanistan was a resounding success....

He (Navy Adm. Mike Mullen) also warned that time was running out on the ability of the West to provide Afghanistan with vital nonmilitary assistance for Afghanistan including roads, schools, alternative crops for farmers and the rule of law.

"These are the keys to success in Afghanistan. We cannot kill our way to victory and no armed force anywhere, no matter how good, can deliver these keys alone," Mullen said.

Mullen acknowledged that President Bush's announced troop increase in Afghanistan — one Army brigade and one Marine battalion, about 5,000 troops — will not adequately meet the request of three brigades announced by the ground commander in Afghanistan.

While Mullen talked about Afghanistan and Pakistan being “inextricably linked”, coupled with the recent attacks that the US was conducting within Pakistan that kind of sort of really pissed off a lot of Pakistanis (regardless of the fact that he is right), it sets up a dangerous situation that is caused by the complete lack of planning and understanding by the current administration, coupled with and supported by McCain, things are on the bubble of exploding at any given moment.

The fact that McCain wants to ignore Pakistan and Afghanistan to continue the folly in Iraq, bully Iran and threaten Russia shows that he is completely out of touch and has no clue as to how to deal with the rapidly deteriorating situation on the Iraq Pakistan/Afghanistan border.

How, may I ask, does he plan on dealing with this crisis? Does he have a plan or an idea to diffuse the situation in Afghanistan? To have a long term plan in Pakistan in order to confront those who actually did attack us AND are in a country that currently has nuclear weapons?

Oh wait, I think that I heard of another manufactured controversy that requires 24/7 attention. Never mind this apologies.