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The Book of John McCain: a Life of Thinly Veiled Opportunism

by Asinus Asinum Fricat Fri May 9th, 2008 at 06:47:49 PM EST

I have rarely detested someone in my life as much as I detest John McCain. When I lived in L.A. (89 to 94) I traveled quite a bit throughout the States. Once driving with my family to visit a friend in Hillsborough (NM) we stopped overnight in Tucson. After finishing a meal in the hotel where we stayed, I wandered about and spotted the lounge, it was empty and thought that it would be a good place for a nightcap and quiet enough for my daily bout of crosswords. The bar was tendered by a man who would have been in his late seventies. Coming from a hotelier family, I thought, this is cool, must be the owner or a close relative (my own great grandfather used to do a spot of bar tending at the tender age of 81, kept him sharp, used to say).

Anyway I got my drink and instead of making a beeline for a table I stayed at the bar and sort of started a conversation with the usual opening lines, weather, surroundings etc...he asked me where I was from and what kind of line I was in and we got to talk about work ethics in the hotel industry. I mentioned that my great grandfather did cover a lot of jobs in his lifetime, from gardening to filling in for a sick dishwasher to bar tending and that's when he said that he had only a few months experience in the hotel world.

He asked me if I had heard of John McCain, I answered yes, that I had read something about him regarding his saucy affair with a Palm Beach socialite. The upshot was that he had been a mid-manager in a branch of the Lincoln Savings and Loan and as a result of McCain's machinations lost his job, pension and lifesavings. His wife had died the same year and he considered himself lucky to have landed a job at all given his age and lack of knowledge of the service industry.

I often think of that man and what he must have felt like to lose his wife, his job, his dignity and everything he had worked for. There must thousands of similar stories out there, of hard working folks  suddenly facing a financial abyss, long years of deprivation, concomitant with the loss of personal pride, and possibly faith.

"I've served this nation honorably for more than half a century," said McCain, a four-term Arizona senator and former Navy pilot. "At no time have I ever done anything that would betray the public trust." Mmmmm...care if I refresh your memory, John? Fortunately for us lowly bloggers, there is this thing your dear friend calls "the internets", it full of websites and there's one called Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) that has the entire failure of the S&L well catalogued, in addition to what is known in Wikipedia and various news archives throughout cyberspace.

But first, a little background. Living in Phoenix, McCain went to work for his new father-in-law Jim Hensley's large Anheuser-Busch beer distributorship as Vice President of Public Relations, where he gained political support among the local business community, meeting powerful figures such as banker Charles Keating, Jr., real estate developer Fife Symington III, and newspaper publisher Darrow "Duke" Tully, all the while looking for an electoral opportunity.

After McCain's election to the House in 1982, he and his family made at least nine trips at Keating's expense, three of which were to Keating's Bahamas retreat. McCain did not disclose the trips (as he was required to under House rules) until the scandal broke in 1989. At that point, he paid Keating $13,433 for the flights. And in April 1986, one year before the meeting with the regulators, McCain's wife, Cindy, and her father invested $359,100 in a Keating strip mall.

April, 1987: Edwin Gray ends his term as chairman of Federal Home Loan Bank Board in June. Before his departure, he is summoned to the office of Sen. Dennis DeConcini. DeConcini, with four other Senators (John McCain, Alan Cranston, John Glenn, and Donald Riegle) question Gray about the appropriateness of Bank Board investigations into Charles Keating's Lincoln Savings and Loan. At Keating's request, McCain met at least twice in 1987 with federal regulators to prevent the government's seizure of Lincoln. All five senators, who have received campaign contributions from Keating, would become known as the "Keating Five". The subsequent Lincoln failure is estimated to have cost the taxpayers over $2 billion (between 1982 and 1987, McCain had received approximately $112,000 in political contributions from Keating and his associates at Lincoln Savings and Loan Association, along with trips on Keating's jets). Federal regulators ultimately filed a $1.1 billion civil racketeering and fraud suit against Keating. The five senators came under investigation for attempting to influence the regulators. In the end, none of the senators were charged with any crime, although McCain was rebuked by the Senate Ethics Committee for exercising "poor judgment" in intervening with the federal regulators on Keating's behalf.
The scandal was followed by a number of attempts to adopt campaign finance reform--spearheaded by U.S. Sen. David Boren (D-OK) but most attempts died in committee. A weakened reform was passed in 1993. Substantial campaign finance reform was not passed until the adoption of the McCain-Feingold Act in 2002. The first version of the McCain-Feingold Act (which was introduced in 1995) amounted to a Mea Culpa on the part of the Arizonian Senator, no more, no less. You'd think by now the good senator from Arizona would lie low and keep his distance from lobbyists. Not so.

McCain in 2000 did the exact same thing for Paxson Communications.  Again, McCain should have gone to jail. In late 1999, McCain, then chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, twice wrote letters to the Federal Communications Commission on behalf of Florida-based Paxson Communications - which had paid Iseman as its lobbyist - urging quick consideration of a proposal to buy a television station license in Pittsburgh. At the time, Paxson's chief executive, Lowell W. "Bud" Paxson, also was a major contributor to McCain's 2000 presidential campaign.
McCain asked for speedy consideration of the deal, which was pending from two years earlier. In an unusual rebuke, then-FCC Chairman William Kennard complained that McCain's request "comes at a sensitive time in the deliberative process" and "could have procedural and substantive impacts on the commission's deliberations and, thus, on the due process rights of the parties."
McCain wrote the letters after he received more than $20,000 in contributions from Paxson executives and lobbyists. Paxson also lent McCain his company's jet at least four times during 1999 for campaign travel. According to information compiled by the Center for Public Integrity's "Well Connected" Project on Telecommunications and Media, John McCain is the single largest recipient of campaign contribution by Ion Media Networks and its predecessor, Paxson Communications. McCain received $36,000 from the company and employees from 1997 to mid-year 2006. McCain's donations edged out former Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., who received $27,000, and former Rep. W.J. "Billy" Tauzin, R-La., who received $22,500.

"I've never done any favors for anybody - lobbyist or special-interest group. That's a clear, 24-year record," he told reporters recently, again.

A point well reiterated by his campaign communications director, Jill Hazelbaker: "It is unfortunate that rumor and gossip enter into political campaigns. John McCain has a 24-year record of serving this 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 important issues facing our country.

Of course lately we had the "lobbyist affair" and fearless John managed, by the skin of his bleached teeth, to dodge once more the bullet. However, there is a hole in his sworn deposition, as Newsweek's Isikoff remarked.

The world does not need another "Teflon" politician, it can not afford it, not now, not in the future. The following two "incidents", in my mind, should serve as examples of the senator's alleged sincerity and honor:

Greenville, S.C. Arizona Sen. John McCain refused to apologize yesterday for his use of a racial slur to condemn the North Vietnamese prison guards who tortured and held him captive during the war.
``I hate the gooks,'' McCain said yesterday in response to a question from reporters aboard his campaign bus. ``I will hate them as long as I live.'' The word ``gook'' was first used in 1899 by American soldiers fighting Filipino insurgents. During the Korean War, the term was aimed at Koreans and Chinese. It was directed at the Vietnamese when Americans were fighting in Vietnam. It is now used as a slur toward any Asian or Pacific Islander. McCain has declared on his bus, ``I hate the French.''The horrors of the past cannot be an excuse for hurting people in the present. If Sen. McCain had been captured by Nigerians, could he call those people `niggers' and think he wasn't going to offend everyone who is black?'

COLUMBIA, S.C. April 19 -- Senator John McCain apologized today for not having called for the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the South Carolina Statehouse when he campaigned in the state's Republican presidential primary, saying he had compromised his principles out of political self-interest. In a subdued speech at a luncheon a stone's throw from the Capitol where the Confederate battle flag flies, Mr. McCain, a former Navy war hero whose ancestors fought for the South, indicted himself for a lapse in honor. "I feared that if I answered honestly, I could not win the South Carolina primary," Mr. McCain said. "So I chose to compromise my principles. I broke my promise to always tell the truth"

And finally from NEEWSWEEK mag:

McCain may have a bit of a vindictive streak. "John has an enemies list longer than Nixon's," says a former Pentagon official who did not want to get on it. "And, unlike Nixon, McCain really does try to get you." After the Boeing scandal, three Air Force officials who quit all found that one of McCain's top aides had quietly spread word around the defense community that anyone hiring them would risk the senator's displeasure. And he still has an impetuosity that is nervous-making to old foreign-policy hands. One of them, a former high official in several Republican administrations who occasionally advises McCain (and wishes to continue to) worries to NEWSWEEK about McCain's "quirky" judgment and his unwillingness to change his mind once it's made up.

Don't get me started on Iraq! That story has been amply written here.

There's an interesting article from the Sydney Morning Herald on McCain here. Sums him up for what he is.

Thanks for a good read.  I am no apologist for McCain, but let me play the devil's advocate here.  McCain has met lobbyists and written letters in support of friends being investigated by regulators.  He has received contributions and favours from business interests, some of which have later turned out to have been guilty of fraud.  That puts him on about on a par with many politicians worldwide who are dependent on business contributions to fund their electoral campaigns.

He has used racist terminology against a people some of whom tortured him.  He has supported the war in Iraq despite all the evidence that it has failed on almost every conceivable measure.  He is known to have a temper and a vindictive streak.  That puts him about on a par with many conservative Americans.

All of this makes him a questionable candidate for the Presidency, but how does this add up to your statement that:
European Tribune - Comments - The Book of John McCain: a Life of Thinly Veiled Opportunism

I have rarely detested someone in my life as much as I detest John McCain.

By all means oppose his politics, but did your meeting with the Barman make all of this personal?

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri May 9th, 2008 at 09:12:03 PM EST
A belated answer: I'm on dialup at home and it's damn near impossible to logon when there's a high wind, and in this remote part of the west coast of Eire, we're not getting broadband - even though I have it at work, which is, as the crow flies, just over two miles in distance. Go figure.

As for McCain, no, this is not personal. I simply dislike the man, as I dislike Blair, for instance, and Brown for not doing anything to stop Blair making a fool of himself and his party in the Iraq debacle. My true fear however, is that Obama won't be elected in November, and the world ends up with this serial liar (the truth about his imprisonment in Vietnam is/will slowly come out). I suppose Clinton will pick up the pieces in 2012.

by Asinus Asinum Fricat (patric.juillet@gmail.com) on Sat May 10th, 2008 at 11:15:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hell, my broadband (in Co. Wicklow) goes down every time a storm brews up or the cows scrape against the cable which Eircom have intertwined with a barbed wire fence rather than put underground or across proper posts.  I kid you not...

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun May 11th, 2008 at 04:04:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah! You should see my fuse box! It predates WWI.
by Asinus Asinum Fricat (patric.juillet@gmail.com) on Sun May 11th, 2008 at 04:37:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't worry, when they privatise it and allow competition that sort of thing won't happen any more.

Oh, wait ...

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sun May 11th, 2008 at 04:40:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, sounds like an efficient and ecological use of resources : cable doing dual use as a fence...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sun May 11th, 2008 at 08:46:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think McCain is too deeply flawed as a person to be elected dog-catcher, let alone as a Senator. But then again, in the modern republican party e fits in just fine.

My concern is that 2008 will see a repeat of the 2000 election where the republican is a demonstrably deeply flawed person whose record is blatantly ignored by the tradmed whilst they invent slurs and innuendoes against the democrat.

Obama is gonna get buried in muslim sliming, Rev Wright smears and 1001 other lies and inventions whilst McCain's  record will receive no investigation whatsoever.

I thnk a free and fair election is impossible in such a climate, the tradmed make it impossible.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun May 11th, 2008 at 08:30:45 AM EST
Yes, I agree entirely, it is a pity that my colleagues at DKos are completely blinded by what Obama promises, and are basking smugly in his "change" banner. The wake-up call will be brutal. I don't believe for a minute that he will be elected, the vast majority of Americans are still bigoted and racism is rampant. They won't agree with this statement of course.
by Asinus Asinum Fricat (patric.juillet@gmail.com) on Sun May 11th, 2008 at 10:15:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Asinus Asinum Fricat:
the vast majority of Americans are still bigoted and racism is rampant.

Perhaps, but do they want to be branded as bigoted and racist by the whole world?  What people are, and how thy like to be perceived, are two different things.  It is possible that Obama will be elected even by people who are covert racists but who want to be seen as open minded.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun May 11th, 2008 at 04:02:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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