Jeff Zeleny is in his own way, a freakin' genius, having produced the most interesting moment of the night ... and Obama thinks damned fast on his feet, using deft debate technique (writing it down, thinking through the next answer while answering the current one, etc. ...) to explain what has "enchanted" him most about the presidency so far...
Obama still prefers to be a generalist when answering questions specific to Black America. (And the Chyron guys at MSNBC didn't know who Andrew Showell is (he's from BET. I didn't know either until this morning, because I don't watch BET...) probably because the administration understands the dangers that still lurk in his being perceived as the "Black president" rather than the American president. Still, the communications team should come up with a lexicon that works.
The president skillfully explained why his government has intervened so heavily in the auto industry, and expressed hope for Chrysler's survival ... (he'll talk more about the automakers at noon today.)
He pronounced "nuclear" correctly, as "nuclear" and Pakistan as "Pah-kee-stahn" not "Paak-i-staan" (like Aflak).
And unline his predecessor, he didn't embarrass either himself or us with stupid fraternity-style nicknames and razzing of the press corps.
The other important moment in the press conference came when President Obama invoked none other than Winston Churchill to explain why the U.S. should not be in the business ot torturing people (and in doing so, he stated clearly what waterboarding is.) Per the Times of London:
President Obama last night waded back into the bitter controversy over the CIA’s harsh interrogation of terror suspects by declaring clearly that the waterboarding authorised by the Bush Administration was torture.
In a White House press conference, Mr Obama said that the simulated drowning technique used repeatedly on detainees such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had violated “our ideals and our values”.
He added: “I do believe that it is torture. I don't think that's just my opinion; that's the opinion of many who've examined the topic. And that's why I put an end to these practices.”
... Citing the experience of Britain in the Second World War, “when London was being bombed to smithereens”, he pointed out that Winston Churchill had refused to allow torture of 200 German detainees because to have done so would have corroded “the character of a country”.
And while some at the Huffpo are crediting Brit Andrew Sullivan for the Obama reference, the Times says the credit for the original article goes to one of their writers, Ben McIntyre:
The President cited an article he'd read,
"talking about the fact that the British during World War II, when London was being bombed to smithereens, had 200 or so detainees, and Churchill said, 'We don't torture,'".
"As Britain's very survival hung in the balance, as women and children were being killed on a daily basis and London turned into rubble, Churchill nonetheless knew that embracing torture was the equivalent of surrender to the barbarism he was fighting."
If you’re baffled why the G.O.P. would thrust Jindal into prime time, the answer is desperation. Eager to update its image without changing its antediluvian (or antebellum) substance, the party is trying to lock down its white country-club blowhards. The only other nonwhite face on tap, alas, is the unguided missile Michael Steele, its new national chairman. Steele has of late been busy promising to revive his party with an “off-the-hook” hip-hop P.R. campaign, presumably with the perennially tan House leader John Boehner leading the posse.
At least the G.O.P.’s newfound racial sensitivity saved it from choosing the white Southern governor often bracketed with Jindal as a rising “star,” Mark Sanford of South Carolina. That would have been an even bigger fiasco, for Sanford is from the same state as Ty’Sheoma Bethea, the junior high school student who sat in Michelle Obama’s box on Tuesday night and whose impassioned letter to Congress was quoted by the president.
In her plea, the teenager begged for aid to her substandard rural school. Without basic tools, she poignantly wrote, she and her peers cannot “prove to the world” that they too might succeed at becoming “lawyers, doctors, congressmen like yourself and one day president.”
What such G.O.P. “stars” as Sanford and Jindal have in common, besides their callous neo-Hoover ideology, are their phony efforts to portray themselves as populist heroes. Their role model is W., that brush-clearing “rancher” by way of Andover, Yale and Harvard. Listening to Jindal talk Tuesday night about his immigrant father’s inability to pay for an obstetrician, you’d never guess that at the time his father was an engineer and his mother an L.S.U. doctoral candidate in nuclear physics. Sanford’s first political ad in 2002 told of how growing up on his “family’s farm” taught him “about hard work and responsibility.” That “farm,” the Charlotte Observer reported, was a historic plantation appraised at $1.5 million in the early 1980s. From that hardscrabble background, he struggled on to an internship at Goldman Sachs.
Read the whole thing. It's more than worth it, and contains some sober warnings for President Obama, too.
Bill Ayers today: not a terrorist so much as a college professor.
Now that one of the ugliest political campaigns in memory is over, Bill Ayers, the man demonized as an "unrepentant terrorist" by John McCain and the Palinites, and turned into a sinister "association" in order to try and bring down Barack Obama (clearly without success) finally speaks for himself in a NYT op-ed. On his actions during the Vietnam war:
... I never killed or injured anyone. I did join the civil rights movement in the mid-1960s, and later resisted the draft and was arrested in nonviolent demonstrations. I became a full-time antiwar organizer for Students for a Democratic Society. In 1970, I co-founded the Weather Underground, an organization that was created after an accidental explosion that claimed the lives of three of our comrades in Greenwich Village. The Weather Underground went on to take responsibility for placing several small bombs in empty offices — the ones at the Pentagon and the United States Capitol were the most notorious — as an illegal and unpopular war consumed the nation.
The Weather Underground crossed lines of legality, of propriety and perhaps even of common sense. Our effectiveness can be — and still is being — debated. We did carry out symbolic acts of extreme vandalism directed at monuments to war and racism, and the attacks on property, never on people, were meant to respect human life and convey outrage and determination to end the Vietnam war.
Peaceful protests had failed to stop the war. So we issued a screaming response. But it was not terrorism; we were not engaged in a campaign to kill and injure people indiscriminately, spreading fear and suffering for political ends.
I cannot imagine engaging in actions of that kind today. And for the past 40 years, I’ve been teaching and writing about the unique value and potential of every human life, and the need to realize that potential through education.
And on whether or not he "palled around" with Obama:
... The dishonesty of the narrative about Mr. Obama during the campaign went a step further with its assumption that if you can place two people in the same room at the same time, or if you can show that they held a conversation, shared a cup of coffee, took the bus downtown together or had any of a thousand other associations, then you have demonstrated that they share ideas, policies, outlook, influences and, especially, responsibility for each other’s behavior. There is a long and sad history of guilt by association in our political culture, and at crucial times we’ve been unable to rise above it.
President-elect Obama and I sat on a board together; we lived in the same diverse and yet close-knit community; we sometimes passed in the bookstore. We didn’t pal around, and I had nothing to do with his positions. I knew him as well as thousands of others did, and like millions of others, I wish I knew him better.
That enough for you, Palinites? How about you, Hannity? Likely not, but then, the country has demonstrated what use they have for your opinions.
Hey, I've got an idea for who could be Barack Obama's secretary of the treasury: newly minted Nobel Prize in Economics winner Paul Krugman. Congrats, Krugman! (And I guess Princeton is an "okay" school, if you're into that sort of thing...)
Shared thoughts from the New York Times op-ed page
In the Sunday paper, Frank Rich was feeling what I'm feeling (that Sarah Palin's pick shows how truly scary and sad John McCain has become) but MoDo is thinking what I'm thinking: that the way things are going, including the blithe lack of urgency that, frankly, is emanating from the Obama campaign, this country is in big trouble; and four years from now, the presidential race is going to include more hair pulling than "America's Next Top Model." Perhaps I'll be living in England by then.
NYT REJECTS MCCAIN'S EDITORIAL; SHOULD 'MIRROR' OBAMA Mon Jul 21 2008 12:00:25 ET
An editorial written by Republican presidential hopeful McCain has been rejected by the NEW YORK TIMES -- less than a week after the paper published an essay written by Obama, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.
The paper's decision to refuse McCain's direct rebuttal to Obama's 'My Plan for Iraq' has ignited explosive charges of media bias in top Republican circles.
'It would be terrific to have an article from Senator McCain that mirrors Senator Obama's piece,' NYT Op-Ed editor David Shipley explained in an email late Friday to McCain's staff. 'I'm not going to be able to accept this piece as currently written.'
In McCain's submission to the TIMES, he writes of Obama: 'I am dismayed that he never talks about winning the war—only of ending it... if we don't win the war, our enemies will. A triumph for the terrorists would be a disaster for us. That is something I will not allow to happen as president.'
NYT's Shipley advised McCain to try again: 'I'd be pleased, though, to look at another draft.'
Of course, Drudge adds this:
[Shipley served in the Clinton Administration from 1995 until 1997 as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Presidential Speechwriter.]
He also includes the full text of McCain's op-ed, plus Shipley's explanation:
'The Obama piece worked for me because it offered new information (it appeared before his speech); while Senator Obama discussed Senator McCain, he also went into detail about his own plans.'
Shipley continues: 'It would be terrific to have an article from Senator McCain that mirrors Senator Obama's piece. To that end, the article would have to articulate, in concrete terms, how Senator McCain defines victory in Iraq.'
As for the rejected op-ed, it's essentially a hit piece on Obama, criticizing his policies and statements, without offering anything new from McCain, up to and including a plan for Iraq. That's why the op-ed was rejected. Duh.
I would post the RedState response, but ever since they stopped being Romneyites and started kissing McCain's rear end and parroting his campaign's talking points, they've become boring. I'll summarize: MSM, liberal media blah blah blah ... tell it to Judy Miller.
To the New York Times, where we learn one of the places the Pentagon got their ideas for how to torture prisoners:
The military trainers who came to Guantánamo Bay in December 2002 based an entire interrogation class on a chart showing the effects of “coercive management techniques” for possible use on prisoners, including “sleep deprivation,” “prolonged constraint,” and “exposure.”
What the trainers did not say, and may not have known, was that their chart had been copied verbatim from a 1957 Air Force study of Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean War to obtain confessions, many of them false, from American prisoners.
The recycled chart is the latest and most vivid evidence of the way Communist interrogation methods that the United States long described as torture became the basis for interrogations both by the military at the base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and by the Central Intelligence Agency.
Some methods were used against a small number of prisoners at Guantánamo before 2005, when Congress banned the use of coercion by the military. The C.I.A. is still authorized by President Bush to use a number of secret “alternative” interrogation methods.
Look for the right wing crazysphere to begin calling for the heads of the reporter and New York Times editor shortly...
The Times also reports on a factual error in the recent Supreme Court ruling on executions for child rape. And who uncovered the mistake? Why, your friendly neighborhood milblogger:
When the Supreme Court ruled last week that the death penalty for raping a child was unconstitutional, the majority noted that a child rapist could face the ultimate penalty in only six states — not in any of the 30 other states that have the death penalty, and not under the jurisdiction of the federal government either.
This inventory of jurisdictions was a central part of the court’s analysis, the foundation for Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s conclusion in his majority opinion that capital punishment for child rape was contrary to the “evolving standards of decency” by which the court judges how the death penalty is applied.
It turns out that Justice Kennedy’s confident assertion about the absence of federal law was wrong.
A military law blog pointed out over the weekend that Congress, in fact, revised the sex crimes section of the Uniform Code of Military Justice in 2006 to add child rape to the military death penalty. The revisions were in the National Defense Authorization Act that year. President Bush signed that bill into law and then, last September, carried the changes forward by issuing Executive Order 13447, which put the provisions into the 2008 edition of the Manual for Courts-Martial.
Anyone in the federal government — or anywhere else, for that matter — who knew about these developments did not tell the court. Not one of the 10 briefs filed in the case, Kennedy v. Louisiana, mentioned it. The Office of the Solicitor General, which represents the federal government in the Supreme Court, did not even file a brief, evidently having concluded that the federal government had no stake in whether Louisiana’s death penalty for child rape was constitutional.
The provision was the subject of a post over the weekend on the blog run by Dwight Sullivan, a colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve who now works for the Air Force as a civilian defense lawyer handling death penalty appeals.
Mr. Sullivan was reading the Supreme Court’s decision on a plane and was surprised to see no mention of the military statute. “We’re not talking about ancient history,” he said in an interview. “This happened in 2006.”
Over to the Washington Post, where the top story is the deadly upsurge in U.S. combat deaths, with June being the deadliest month for American troops since the war began in late 2001.
Meanwhile, the Post attempts to do a "gotcha" on Barack Obama, reporting that ... shock of all shocks ...!!! a well-to-do elected official got a great mortgage loan deal! No... NOOOOOOO!!!!!! Memo to the reporterati, most Americans get that borrowers with more money in the bank, better credit, larger down payments, and who are seeking higher loans, get better mortgage deals. The Post reports the Obama discount saved him and his wife a whopping $300 a month. What's that, 1/1000th of the cost of just one out of eight Cindy McCain homes?
One more: the Post also reports on the double-dilemma faced by some SUV owners:
With $4-a-gallon gas coming between drivers and their very large vehicles, consumers are dropping their once-beloved rides, fast. But not fast enough, it seems. As the price of gas has gone up, the value of sport-utility vehicles has gone down.
In the past six months, the price of a used Chevrolet Suburban has dropped as much as $8,000, said Mike Parker, manager of used-car sales at Lustine Toyota/Dodge in Woodbridge.
For those determined to swap their fuel-thirsty behemoths for gas-sipping subcompacts, the glut increasingly means taking a financial hit. In the worst cases, declining SUV values leave owners owing more money to the bank than their vehicle is worth.
The question they face is: Which is worse for the wallet -- the cost of gas or the money lost selling the vehicle?
Over to the left coast, where the L.A. Times' Greg Miller reports that the U.S. is so confident in the Iraqi Army we're training, we spy on them.
WASHINGTON -- Caught off guard by recent Iraqi military operations, the United States is using spy satellites that ordinarily are trained on adversaries to monitor the movements of the American-backed Iraqi army, current and former U.S. officials say.
The stepped-up surveillance reflects breakdowns in trust and coordination between the two forces. Officials said it was part of an expanded intelligence effort launched after American commanders were surprised by the timing of the Iraqi army's violent push into Basra three months ago.
The use of the satellites puts the United States in the unusual position of employing some of its most sophisticated espionage technology to track an allied army that American forces helped create, continue to advise, and often fight alongside.
The satellites are "imaging military installations that the Iraqi army occupies," said a former U.S. military official, who said slides from the images had been used in recent closed briefings at U.S. facilities in the Middle East. "They're imaging training areas that the Iraqi army utilizes. They're imaging roads that Iraqi armored vehicles and large convoys transit."
Military officials and experts said the move showed concern by U.S. commanders about whether their Iraqi counterparts would follow U.S. guidance or keep their coalition partners fully informed.
"It suggests that we don't have complete confidence in their chain of command, or in their willingness to tell us what they're going to do because they may fear that we may try to get them not to do it," said John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org, a website about intelligence and military issues.
And in a story that's sure to get a lot of play on cable news today, the LAT has scored video of staffers at ironically named Martin Luther King Hospital literally ignoring a patient to death.:
Edith Isabel Rodriguez writhed for 45 minutes on the floor of the emergency room lobby at Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital as staffers walked past and a janitor mopped around her. Her boyfriend called 911 from a pay phone outside the hospital, pleading futilely for help. The infamous incident in May 2007 was captured by a security camera, but the tape was actually seen by very few people. Los Angeles County has insisted for more than a year that the tape is "confidential, official information," refusing to release it to Rodriguez's family or to The Times.
This week, however, excerpts of the grainy video were sent anonymously to the newspaper and are available on The Times' website.
The public airing of the tape comes the same week as an eerily similar -- but much clearer -- surveillance tape was released showing a woman collapsing and writhing on the floor of a Brooklyn, N.Y., hospital's waiting room last month. She lay there more than an hour, as patients and security guards looked on.
According to published reports, Esmin Green had been waiting in the psychiatric emergency room of Kings County Hospital for nearly 24 hours when she fell from her seat June 19. An hour and three minutes later, a staffer who had been alerted by someone in the waiting room went up to Green, tapped her with her foot and tried to awaken her.
L ate last year, Congress agreed to a request from President Bush to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran, according to current and former military, intelligence, and congressional sources. These operations, for which the President sought up to four hundred million dollars, were described in a Presidential Finding signed by Bush, and are designed to destabilize the country’s religious leadership. The covert activities involve support of the minority Ahwazi Arab and Baluchi groups and other dissident organizations. They also include gathering intelligence about Iran’s suspected nuclear-weapons program.
Clandestine operations against Iran are not new. United States Special Operations Forces have been conducting cross-border operations from southern Iraq, with Presidential authorization, since last year. These have included seizing members of Al Quds, the commando arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and taking them to Iraq for interrogation, and the pursuit of “high-value targets” in the President’s war on terror, who may be captured or killed. But the scale and the scope of the operations in Iran, which involve the Central Intelligence Agency and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), have now been significantly expanded, according to the current and former officials. Many of these activities are not specified in the new Finding, and some congressional leaders have had serious questions about their nature.
Under federal law, a Presidential Finding, which is highly classified, must be issued when a covert intelligence operation gets under way and, at a minimum, must be made known to Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and the Senate and to the ranking members of their respective intelligence committees—the so-called Gang of Eight. Money for the operation can then be reprogrammed from previous appropriations, as needed, by the relevant congressional committees, which also can be briefed.
The Washington Post takes a fascinating look at the economic up-trends and down-trends for two states; Virginia and West Virginia, and plumbs the ramifications for Democrats and Republicans:
... "Democratic areas are sopping up people with BA degrees; Republican areas are sopping up white people without degrees. Church membership is declining in Democratic areas and increasing in red counties," said Bill Bishop, author of "The Big Sort." "There are all these things telling people they should be around people like themselves. And every four years, this has political consequences."
Overall, the most wealthy are still more likely to vote for GOP candidates, particularly in red states, where it is the rich, not the working class, who are most reliably Republican. The split is more evident in education and vocation, with professionals and voters with post-graduate degrees trending Democratic.
But in general, where economic dynamism is concentrated, Democrats are gaining. Bishop found that Gore and Kerry did much better in the 21 metro areas that produced the most new patents than in less tech-oriented cities. Virginia Tech demographer Robert E. Lang found that Kerry did better in the 20 metro areas most linked to the global economy -- based on business networks, shipping and airport activity -- than in metro areas as a whole.
In private, he is surely gaming this out further, George Carlin-style. What would be the optimum timing, from the campaign’s perspective, for this terrorist attack — before or after the convention? Would the attack be most useful if it took place in a red state, blue state or swing state? How much would it “help” if the next assassinated foreign leader had a higher name recognition in American households than Benazir Bhutto?
Rich goes on to critique the "terror = M-c-win" strategery of Karl Rove, saying that should the unthinkable occur:
... voters might take a hard look at the antiterrorism warriors of the McCain campaign (and of a potential McCain administration). This is the band of advisers and surrogates that surfaced to attack Mr. Obama two weeks ago for being “naïve” and “delusional” and guilty of a “Sept. 10th mind-set” after he had the gall to agree with the Supreme Court decision on Gitmo detainees. The McCain team’s track record is hardly sterling. It might make America more vulnerable to terrorist attack, not less, were it in power.
Take — please! — the McCain foreign policy adviser, Randy Scheunemann. He was the executive director of the so-called Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, formed in 2002 (with Mr. McCain on board) to gin up the war that diverted American resources from fighting those who attacked us on 9/11 to invading a nation that did not. Thanks to that strategic blunder, a 2008 Qaeda attack could well originate from Pakistan or Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden’s progeny, liberated by our liberation of Iraq, have been regrouping ever since. On Friday the Pentagon declared that the Taliban has once more “coalesced into a resilient insurgency.” Attacks in eastern Afghanistan are up 40 percent from this time last year, according to the American commander of NATO forces in the region.
Another dubious McCain terror expert is the former C.I.A. director James Woolsey. He (like Charles Black) was a cheerleader for Ahmad Chalabi, the exiled Iraqi leader who helped promote phony Iraqi W.M.D. intelligence in 2002 and who is persona non grata to American officials in Iraq today because of his ties to Iran. Mr. Woolsey, who accuses Mr. Obama of harboring “extremely dangerous” views on terrorism, has demonstrated his own expertise by supporting crackpot theories linking Iraq to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and 1993 World Trade Center bombing. On 9/11 and 9/12 he circulated on the three major networks to float the idea that Saddam rather than bin Laden might have ordered the attacks.
Then there is the McCain camp’s star fearmonger, Rudy Giuliani, who has lately taken to railing about Mr. Obama’s supposed failure to learn the lessons of the first twin towers bombing. The lesson America’s Mayor took away from that 1993 attack was to insist that New York City’s emergency command center be located in the World Trade Center. No less an authority than John Lehman, a 9/11 commission member who also serves on the McCain team, has mocked New York’s pre-9/11 emergency plans as “not worthy of the Boy Scouts.”
If there’s another 9/11, it’s hard to argue that this gang could have prevented it.
"The company you keep" will be a theme this year, and not just for Barack Obama... Back at the WaPo, an article that breaks no news, but which states an obvious conclusion that will have major implications for the campaign: a McCain win could push the Supreme Court to the right. Say it isn't so!
The New York Times produces a John McCain bimbo eruption (who woulda thunk it?):
For McCain, Self-Confidence on Ethics Poses Its Own Risk By JIM RUTENBERG, MARILYN W. THOMPSON, DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK and STEPHEN LABATON
WASHINGTON — 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.”
Mr. Cheshire added, “That imprudence or recklessness may be part of why he was not more astute about the risks he was running with this shady operator,” Charles Keating, whose ties to Mr. McCain and four other lawmakers tainted their reputations in the savings and loan debacle.
I'm sorry to get distracted (it happens to me a lot these days,) but did you catch the photo that the Times ran above this story?
Sorry, but why is it that people who stand behind John McCain always look so ... miserable? ... sorry, back to the story! This bit was interesting:
One of his efforts, though, seemed self-contradictory. In 2001, he helped found the nonprofit Reform Institute to promote his cause and, in the process, his career. It collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in unlimited donations from companies that lobbied the Senate commerce committee. Mr. McCain initially said he saw no problems with the financing, but he severed his ties to the institute in 2005, complaining of “bad publicity” after news reports of the arrangement.
Like other presidential candidates, he has relied on lobbyists to run his campaigns. Since a cash crunch last summer, several of them — including his campaign manager, Rick Davis, who represented companies before Mr. McCain’s Senate panel — have been working without pay, a gift that could be worth tens of thousands of dollars.
In recent weeks, Mr. McCain has hired another lobbyist, Mark Buse, to run his Senate office. In his case, it was a round trip through the revolving door: Mr. Buse had directed Mr. McCain’s committee staff for seven years before leaving in 2001 to lobby for telecommunications companies.
Mr. McCain’s friends dismiss questions about his ties to lobbyists, arguing that he has too much integrity to let such personal connections influence him.
“Unless he gives you special treatment or takes legislative action against his own views, I don’t think his personal and social relationships matter,” said Charles Black, a friend and campaign adviser who has previously lobbied the senator for aviation, broadcasting and tobacco concerns.
And therein lies the potential hazard for John-boy. I don't think too much will be made in the mainstream media about the possible paramour, unless more develops. I mean, who wants to picture John McCain's 900-year-old behind having sex ... with ANYBODY? But if this story opens the door to more reporting on his potential hypocrisy on issues involving lobbyists, conflicts of interests and campaign finance, it could stick to him like glue.
I await the judgment of the RedBloggers and talk radio wingnuts who detest McCain, to see if they rally ... or pile on. Right now, I'd guess they'll rally. They want to keep the White House more than they want to hate John McCain, I suspect.
And now for the meaty bit of the story, the part the MSM is disgorging with abandon tonight:
Mr. McCain’s confidence in his ability to distinguish personal friendships from compromising connections was at the center of questions advisers raised about Ms. Iseman.
The lobbyist, a partner at the firm Alcalde & Fay, represented telecommunications companies for whom Mr. McCain’s commerce committee was pivotal. Her clients contributed tens of thousands of dollars to his campaigns.
Mr. Black said Mr. McCain and Ms. Iseman were friends and nothing more. But in 1999 she began showing up so frequently in his offices and at campaign events that staff members took notice. One recalled asking, “Why is she always around?”
That February, Mr. McCain and Ms. Iseman attended a small fund-raising dinner with several clients at the Miami-area home of a cruise-line executive and then flew back to Washington along with a campaign aide on the corporate jet of one of her clients, Paxson Communications. By then, according to two former McCain associates, some of the senator’s advisers had grown so concerned that the relationship had become romantic that they took steps to intervene.
A former campaign adviser described being instructed to keep Ms. Iseman away from the senator at public events, while a Senate aide recalled plans to limit Ms. Iseman’s access to his offices.
In interviews, the two former associates said they joined in a series of confrontations with Mr. McCain, warning him that he was risking his campaign and career. Both said Mr. McCain acknowledged behaving inappropriately and pledged to keep his distance from Ms. Iseman. The two associates, who said they had become disillusioned with the senator, spoke independently of each other and provided details that were corroborated by others.
Separately, a top McCain aide met with Ms. Iseman at Union Station in Washington to ask her to stay away from the senator. John Weaver, a former top strategist and now an informal campaign adviser, said in an e-mail message that he arranged the meeting after “a discussion among the campaign leadership” about her.
"It is a shame that the New York Times has lowered its standards to engage in a hit and run smear campaign," said communications director Jill Hazelbaker, in a prepared statement sent about an hour after the Times posted their story online. "John McCain has a 24-year record of serving our country with honor and integrity. He has never violated the public trust, never done favors for special interests or lobbyists, and he will not allow a smear campaign to distract from the issues at stake in this election.
"Americans are sick and tired of this kind of gutter politics, and there is nothing in this story to suggest that John McCain has ever violated the principles that have guided his career."
The sexiest story probably ever to include the words "John McCain" makes its way across the pond (courtesy of Rupert Murdoch...)
Meanwhile, Ms. Iseman's lobbying firm, Alcalde & Fay has dropped her from their "Meet the Firm" page. Now that's confidence! Her picture is still online, though... and their client list is still up, and it includes a heap of South Florida cities:
City of Deerfield Beach, FL City of Delray Beach, FL City of Hampton, VA City of Hialeah, FL City of Hobbs, NM City of Homestead, FL City of Key West, FL City of Lake Mary, FL City of Lauderdale Lakes, FL City of Lauderhill, FL City of Maitland, FL City of Melbourne, FL City of Miami, FL City of North Miami Beach, FL City of Oldsmar, FL City of Oviedo, FL City of Pembroke Pines, FL City of Petaluma, CA City of Plantation, FL
Hey, I live in Pembroke Pines! Thanks, Alcalde & Fay!
Finally, a major New York paper (The New York Times) delves into the issue of Rudy and race. It's long, but worth the read.
The Times has also annotated a number of its stories on the former New York mayor and his dicey relationship with Black New Yorkers, starting from the moment he announced against then-mayor David Dinkins, whom Giuliani termed a "Jesse Jackson Democrat."
The New York Times attempts to unpack the mind and the short, unhappy life of Virginia Tech killer Cho Seung Hui. The report, by N.R. Kleinfeld, also reveals more details about the time lag between the first and second shootings, and how police -- and the campus -- missed the forrest for the trees. The account -- that police initially believed the first female victim had been shot by her boyfriend, who was known to own guns -- makes sense, and in my mind at least, mitigates against the school's actions, at least a bit. That said, in the post-Columbine age, I doubt any campus is going to escape liability for something like this...
Nicholas Kristoff of the NYT offers Dubya some advice, summarized nicely by the good folks at Raw Story:
Aside from replacing Cheney, characterized as "the single worst influence on your foreign policy, as well as the most polarizing figure in your administration," Kristof also advises the president to "seriously engage Iraq's nastier neighbors, including Iran and Syria, and renounce permanent military bases in Iraq"; to "start an intensive effort to bring peace to the Middle East"; to "confront the genocide in Darfur"; to "revive the theme of compassionate conservatism by extending your excellent five-year AIDS program"' to "address climate change"; to "put aside those thoughts of a military strike on Iranian nuclear sites, and make it clear to Israel that we oppose it conducting such an attack"; to "address our disgraceful inequities in health care"; and to "revive the reform proposals that President Clinton urged in 1999," rather than just "giving up" on Social Security. ...
... "Tenth, don't toss this newspaper to the floor and curse the press for your unpopularity," Kristof writes. "Instead, borrow from your playbook after you lost the New Hampshire primary in 2000 -- grit your teeth, retool and steal ideas from your critics and rivals."