Category Archives: John McCain

>John McCain’s Tanker Trouble

>At tonight’s debate you may hear John McCain once again brag about how he went after government waste by blocking the Pentagon’s troubled Boeing tanker contract that ended with people going to jail. John McCain is very proud of this fact: he mentioned it at the last debate, and he keeps bringing up like it’s the crowning achievement of a mavericky taxpayer avenger.

Sure, when all was said and done, former Pentagon procurement officer Darleen Druyun was given nine months in prison, Boeing CFO Michael Sears went to prison for four months, Boeing’s CEO Phillip Condit was fired, and the Air Force cancelled the contract. But that’s not the entire story.

I’ve blogged about this saga before, lots of folks have. But it’s one of those things that seems to be fading from the collective memory. Because every time John McCain brings it up, you’d think someone would say, “hey, isn’t that the deal where you ended up looking like a walking case of lobbyist intervention at the expense of American jobs?” The fact that no one does make me think it’s time to send folks a little reminder about John McCain’s real role in this whole thing.

So yes, McCain launched the Senate investigation that uncovered the fraud and shut the deal down, so kudos to him for that. But I’m not sure I’d be bragging about this when subsequent investigations have revealed a few disturbing facts.

Newsweek did an excellent story on this back in June. If you want to debunk the myth that John McCain single-handedly slayed the dragon of Pentagon waste by virtue of his mavericky-ness, give it a read. And you can start with the headline:

McCain’s Boeing Battle Boomerangs

Yes, it seems the Boeing tanker story did come back to bite McCain on the ankle, more than once. For one thing, when the Pentagon put the contract up for bid again, it got awarded to Boeing’s big rival, Northrop Grumman, and the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co. (EADS).

So in other words, John McCain sent American jobs overseas and, as MarketWatch noted, gave a big wet kiss in the form of a $35 billion piece of America’s defense budget to a European firm.

This was back in June and even I remember the hullabaloo this created. Why would John McCain do such a thing? Doesn’t he love America and American workers? Funny thing:

The auditors’ ruling has also cast light on an overlooked aspect of McCain’s crusade: five of his campaign’s top advisers and fund-raisers—including Tom Loeffler, who resigned last month as his finance co-chairman, and Susan Nelson, his finance director—were registered lobbyists for EADS.

Oh, say it ain’t so!

But it gets worse. John McCain personally intervened to ensure the bidding process was favorable to EADS:

Critics, including some at the Pentagon, cite in particular two tough letters McCain wrote to Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England in 2006 and another to Robert Gates, just prior to his confirmation as Defense secretary. In the first letter, dated Sept. 8, 2006, McCain wrote of hearing from “third parties” that the Air Force was about to redo the tanker competition by factoring in European government subsidies to EADS—a condition that could have seriously hurt the EADS bid. McCain urged that the Pentagon drop the subsidy factor and posed a series of technical questions about the Air Force’s process.

“He was trying to jam us and bully us to make sure there was competition by giving EADS an advantage,” said one senior Pentagon official, who asked for anonymity when discussing a politically sensitive matter. The assumption within the Pentagon, the official added, was that McCain’s letters were drafted by EADS lobbyists.

“There was no one else that would have had that level of detail,” the official said.

Of course, the uproar over awarding a defense contract to a European firm and the funny business with McCain’s advisors caused this deal to be cancelled, too. Back in September Defense Secetary Robert Gates passed the decision off to the next administration:

“We can no longer complete a competition that would be viewed as fair and objective in this highly charged environment,” Mr. Gates said in a statement. “The resulting ‘cooling off’ period will allow the next administration to review objectively the military requirements and craft a new acquisition strategy” for the tanker program.

If John McCain wins the election, three guesses as to who’s going to get that tanker contract.

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>Putting The “Nut” In Wingnut

>Yes, I’m still embarrassed by my fellow Tennesseans:

Baby named Sarah McCain Palin

A new father has secretly named his baby girl Sarah McCain Palin after the Republican ticket for president and vice president.

Mark Ciptak of Elizabethton put that name on the documents for the girl’s birth certificate, ignoring the name Ava Grace, which he and his wife had picked earlier.

“I don’t think she believes me yet,” he told the Kingsport Times-News for a story to be published Tuesday. “It’s going to take some more convincing.”

Ciptak, a blood bank employee for the American Red Cross, said he named his third child after John McCain and Sarah Palin “to get the word out” about the campaign.

“I took one for the cause,” he said. “I can’t give a lot of financial support for the (McCain/Palin) campaign. I do have a sign up in my yard, but I can do very little.”

You, sir, are a moron.

And speaking of names, I know the wingnuts love to make fun of Barack “Hussein” Obama. But it’s amazing to me how few people are aware that “Barack” is a name from the Old Testament, the Book of Judges to be precise. The Biblical Barack (or “Barak”) and the prophetess Deborah defeated the Canaanites.

You’d think some of the conservative Christians mocking Obama’s name would know that.

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>Size Matters

>Looks like the McCain-Palin campaign is still lying about the size of the crowds at their rallies:

The Virginia Beach Fire Marshal’s office estimated the size of the crowd to be 12,000. A McCain campaign spokeswoman claimed the crowd size was 25,000, but the Convention Center’s capacity is only 16,000.

This has been an ongoing issue with the campaign. Olbermann even did a piece on it.

That’s just pathetic, but not surprising. McCain has even had trouble “fill[ing] the ballroom” for an upcoming fundraiser.

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>McCain Was For ACORN Before He Was Against It

>In fact, he was so “for” it, he was the headliner at an ACORN event two years ago, where this photo was taken:

States ACORN’s Bertha Lewis:

“It has deeply saddened us to see Senator McCain abandon his historic support for ACORN and our efforts to support the goals of low-income Americans.”

“We are sure that the extremists he is trying to get into a froth will be even more excited to learn that John McCain stood shoulder to shoulder with ACORN, at an ACORN co-sponsored event, to promote immigration reform,” she said.

(h/t, AmericaBlog.)

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>Your Modern Republican Party

>Attaturk called my attention to this item over at The Washington Monthly:

The McCain/Palin ticket is the first in American history in which both candidates were found to have violated ethics standards before a national election.

McCain, of course, was admonished by Senate Ethics Committee “for exercising ‘poor judgment’ for intervening” with federal regulators on behalf of Charles Keating, as part of the infamous Keating Five scandal.

And now McCain’s running mate has also been found to have violated state ethics laws and abused the powers of her office, as part of the “Troopergate” scandal.

The nation has had 102 major-party tickets covering 51 presidential elections over more than two centuries. And we’ve never had a ticket in which both candidates on the same ticket were responsible for ethics violations before a national election. McCain/Palin is the first.

My, how the party of “accountability” and “moral values” has fallen. I do believe we’re seeing the beginning of the end of the Republican Party.

I think every person in my neighborhood with a McCain/Palin yard sign should be asked if they are aware they are supporting the first ticket in American history in which both candidates have violated ethics standards before the election.

It goes without saying that no Democrat with these kinds of ethics questions in his or her background could ever get out of the primary. The media would be vicious. But as always, the rule of American politics is IOKIYAR. There’s one (terribly high) standard for Democrats, one (much lower) standard for Republicans.

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>Buckley For Obama, Kooks For McCain

>Christopher Buckley, son of conservative scion William F. Buckley, has endorsed Barack Obama.

Quietly. Apparently he doesn’t want to get attacked by the same “kooks” that went after conservative pundit Kathleen Parker when she described Sarah Palin as “an embarassment.”

As for Kathleen, she has to date received 12,000 (quite literally) foam-at-the-mouth hate-emails. One correspondent, if that’s quite the right word, suggested that Kathleen’s mother should have aborted her and tossed the fetus into a Dumpster. There’s Socratic dialogue for you. Dear Pup once said to me sighfully after a right-winger who fancied himself a WFB protégé had said something transcendently and provocatively cretinous, “You know, I’ve spent my entire life time separating the Right from the kooks.” Well, the dear man did his best. At any rate, I don’t have the kidney at the moment for 12,000 emails saying how good it is he’s no longer alive to see his Judas of a son endorse for the presidency a covert Muslim who pals around with the Weather Underground. So, you’re reading it here first.

Those “kooks” are the folks we now see crawling out from under the rocks McCain and Palin lift at their rallies:

LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) — Some of the anger is getting raw at Republican rallies and John McCain is mostly letting it flare. A sense of grievance spilling into rage has gripped some GOP events as McCain supporters see his presidential campaign lag against Barack Obama. They’re making it personal, against the Democrat. Shouts of “traitor,” “terrorist,” “treason,” “liar,” and even “off with his head” have rung from the crowd at McCain and Sarah Palin rallies, and gone unchallenged by them.

That’s not entirely true. McCain might be getting a little freaked out about what he’s unleashed, and called Obama “a decent person” at a recent event, a remark met with jeers by the crowd. Seems you can’t stuff the creepy crawlies back under the GOP rock once you’ve let them out, Senator McCain.

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>That One

>John McCain’s “offa my lawn” moment came when he referred to Barack Obama as “that one” while jabbing a thumb in his direction.

It’s all over but the snarling.

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>Palins Owe “Tens Of Thousands” In Taxes

>The Wall Street Journal’s blog has the goods.

Apparently, the Palins are due a visit from the IRS:

Jack Bogdanski (Lewis & Clark) & Bryan Camp (Texas Tech) have independently reviewed the tax issues raised by the release of Gov. Palin’s 2006 and 2007 tax returns and financial disclosure form, as well as the remarkable opinion letter issued from Washington D.C. tax lawyer Roger M. Olsen.  Jack and Bryan conclude that there are serious errors in Gov. Palin’s returns as filed and that she and her husband owe tens of thousands of dollars in additional taxes.


There is no serious debate (at least, none that has been brought to our attention) about the fact that at least the amounts paid for the children’s travel — $24,728.83 in 2007, according to the Washington Post — are taxable. The campaign’s tax lawyer has got at least that much of the law, and perhaps more, wrong. …  The Palins, who had their tax returns done by HR Block, simply got it wrong. And the fact that the state payroll office got it wrong, too, doesn’t erase the Palins’ unpaid tax liability.

HR Block did the governor’s taxes?


Okie dokie.

At least the Republican ticket is being consistent. The McCains defaulted on their property taxes, if you’ll recall. Of course, they had an excuse: with that many homes, it’s easy to lose track.

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>McCain’s Ties To Indian Gaming

>Well, this explains the McCain campaign’s pre-emptive war on the New York Times last week.

Seems the Times was working on a story that reveals the Senator’s gambling addiction and ties to Indian gaming.

It’s an interesting read and I urge everyone to head over to the NYT to check it out. I can’t help but think of how the wingnut right would call for the fainting couches were it a Democrat hitting casinos once a month in “weekend betting marathons,” while at the same time overseeing these same casinos as a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.

It’s another example of “mavericky” McCain’s bullshit lies. On the one hand he’s milking his reputation as a “reformer” who took down corrupt Indian gaming lobbyist Jack Abramoff. But at the same time, his top aides and fundraisers profited handsomely when Abramoff was out of the way, fleecing the Indian tribes in an almost identical fashion:

But interviews and records show that lobbyists and political operatives in Mr. McCain’s inner circle played a behind-the-scenes role in bringing Mr. Abramoff’s misdeeds to Mr. McCain’s attention — and then cashed in on the resulting investigation. The senator’s longtime chief political strategist, for example, was paid $100,000 over four months as a consultant to one tribe caught up in the inquiry, records show.


For McCain-connected lobbyists who were rivals of Mr. Abramoff, the scandal presented a chance to crush a competitor. For senior McCain advisers, the inquiry allowed them to collect fees from the very Indians that Mr. Abramoff had ripped off. And the investigation enabled Mr. McCain to confront political enemies who helped defeat him in his 2000 presidential run while polishing his maverick image.


David Sickey, the tribe’s vice chairman, said he was “dumbfounded” over the bills submitted by Mr. Hance’s firm, Hance Scarborough, which had been hired by Mr. Sickey’s predecessors.

“The very thing we were fighting seemed to be happening all over again — these absurd amounts of money being paid,” Mr. Sickey said.

Mr. Hance’s firm billed the tribe nearly $1.3 million over 11 months in legal and political consulting fees, records show. But Mr. Sickey said that the billing statements offered only vague explanations for services and that he could not point to any tangible results. Two consultants, for instance, were paid to fight the expansion of gambling in Texas — even though it was unlikely given that the governor there opposed any such prospect, Mr. Sickey said.

Even more awkward is McCain’s own love of gambling, which seems to border on addiction:

For much of his adult life, Mr. McCain has gambled as often as once a month, friends and associates said, traveling to Las Vegas for weekend betting marathons. Former senior campaign officials said they worried about Mr. McCain’s patronage of casinos, given the power he wields over the industry. The officials, like others interviewed for this article, spoke on condition of anonymity.

“We were always concerned about appearances,” one former official said. “If you go around saying that appearances matter, then they matter.”

The former official said he would tell Mr. McCain: “Do we really have to go to a casino? I don’t think it’s a good idea. The base doesn’t like it. It doesn’t look good. And good things don’t happen in casinos at midnight.”

“You worry too much,” Mr. McCain would respond, the official said.

I dunno, I’m not much of a gambler. But none of this sounds very presidential. And it certainly would be a source of outrage were it the Democratic presidential candidate involved.

The article states that McCain’s gambling connections have been a source of concern with evangelicals. It will be interesting to watch this story develop and see if anything comes of it, or if it gets buried by the Wall Street bailout story.

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>Here He Comes To Save The Day, Part 2

>Josh Marshall gives a recap of John McCain’s savior complex, which was on full display this week.

Meanwhile, it seems Democrats and Republicans very nearly had a deal hammered out until McCain decided to inject presidential politics into the crisis.

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