Happy Hour Discurso

Today’s opining on the public discourse.

The Republicon party has now officially become a farce.

They can’t get their message straight:

John McCain not only supported the bailout package rejected by the House, he bragged about his role in getting the bill to the floor yesterday. His running mate suggested the bill was necessary to avert a depression. His campaign credited McCain personally for the bill’s very existence.

So it was a little odd to see the Republican National Committee come out with a new ad this morning blasting Barack Obama for the bailout package.

The Republican Party’s independent expenditure arm is up with an ad that hints at opposing the bailout, and links Obama’s spending plans, in a vague but ominous way, to it.

The ad was expected to air in Indiana and Virginia, along with more traditional battlegrounds of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Let me get this straight. The Republican president supported the bill. The Republican Senate leadership supported the bill. The Republican House leadership supported the bill. The Republican presidential nominee supported the bill. And the Republican National Committee runs an ad insisting that Obama’s bailout package “will make the problem worse.”

Indeed, the RNC unveiled its breathtaking ad literally within minutes of John McCain telling Fox
that in order to get increased support for the bill, “We’re going to have to change enough Republican and Democrats’ minds.””

Does this remind anyone else of two children trying to pull a wagon by tugging in opposite directions? We have McCain not speaking for the McCain campaign, the McCain campaign not speaking for McCain, Sarah Palin not speaking for either one, and now the RNC takes up a position diametrically opposed to its own fucking candidate. I’m expecting clowns to come tumbling out of the campaign plane any minute now.

Oh, wait. They already have one:

Howard Kurtz generated some interest yesterday when he reported that as bad as Sarah Palin’s interview(s) with Katie Couric were, the “worst may be yet to come for Palin;
sources say CBS has two more responses on tape that will likely prove embarrassing.”

How much worse could it be? Apparently, one of the problematic responses has to do with the Supreme Court.

The Palin aide, after first noting how “infuriating” it was for CBS to purportedly leak word about the gaffe, revealed that it came in response to a question about Supreme Court decisions.

After noting Roe vs. Wade, Palin was apparently unable to discuss any major court cases.

There was no verbal fumbling with this particular question as there was with some others, the aide said, but rather silence.

Usually, she can at least respond with incoherent babble. This actually isn’t a hard question: anyone with a passing familiarity with national issues can name at least one Supreme Court case other than Roe. Off the top of my head, I can name Miranda vs. Arizona, Hamden, Bush vs. Gore… there’s plenty more. If you read as many newspapers as Sarah Palin, rattling off a Supreme Court decision or two should be no problem:

Tonight on the CBS Evening News, host Katie Couric asked Sarah Palin which sources she relies on for her news consumption. Three separate times, Couric tried to elicit a response from Palin about which specific newspapers she reads. Seemingly caught off guard, Palin could not name a single news source:

COURIC: And when it comes to establishing your world view, I was curious, what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this — to stay informed and to understand the world?

PALIN: I’ve read most of them again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media —

COURIC: But what ones specifically? I’m curious.

PALIN: Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me over all these years.


For fuck’s sake.

McCain could’ve run a parrot as his veep and would’ve gotten a more loquacious, aware partner. African grays are intelligent birds, and they could at least repeat the talking points his aides have been stuffing down Palin’s maw with some degree of accuracy.

Moving on from that trainwreck, the devastation doesn’t get any better. I’ve heard talk of Obama being like Lincoln and appointing a bipartisan cabinet containing a few intelligent, hard-working Republicons, but I have no idea where he might find some. Would he choose… Newt Gingrich?

Now that House Republicans are insisting their vote against the bailout yesterday had nothing to do with Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s supposedly “partisan” speech, some are wondering what in fact turned at least 10 Republican votes Blunt thought he had against the bill.

NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reported this morning that conservatives may have been taking their marching orders from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who “was whipping against this up until the last minute” — despite issuing a statement supporting the bill as the vote was
taking place:

MITCHELL: I’m told reliably by leading Republicans who are close to him, he was whipping against this up until the last minute when he issued that face-saving statement. Newt Gingrich was telling people in the strongest possible language that this was a terrible deal, not only that it was a terrible deal, that it was a disaster, it was the end of democracy as we know it, it was socialism. And then at the last minute comes out with a statement when the vote is already in place.

No, too hypocritical and devious, not to mention totally fucking insane. House Republicons, maybe?

Yesterday, after the proposed bipartisan bailout package failed to pass, the House Republican leadership declared in a press conference that a “partisan” speech by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was to blame for GOP opposition to the bill. But after being ridiculed by Democrats, media observers, and even some conservatives, Republicans are now walking back that claim:

– Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN): “We are not babies who suck their thumbs.”

– Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO): “I think you don’t want to give too much blame to that speech.”

– Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ): “It was embarrassing for leadership on both parties to lose the bill, so they went out and made a stupid claim.”

– Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN): “That speech was not the reason I voted against the bill.” [MSNBC, 9/30/08]

Oh, fuck no.

I think Obama’s gonna have to stick with regular ol’ Dems and maybe the occasional Independent. I hear quite a few of those used to be Republicons before the crybabies and toddlers took over the party.

Happy Hour Discurso

Bill Donahue Strikes Again

Is it possible for the Catholic League’s Bill “Frothing Insane” Donahue to sound even more ridiculous than he did during the Great Cracker Controversy?

Oh, my, yes:

The Catholic League’s Bill Donohue comes to Sarah Palin’s defense now that the video of her being blessed by Thomas Muthee has been making its way into the mainstream media, accusing the “chattering class” of ridiculing Palin’s faith and demanding that they respect Muthee’s apparent belief in witchcraft:

“Witchcraft is a sad reality in many parts of Africa, resulting in scores of deaths in Kenya over the past two decades. Bishop Muthee’s blessing, then, was simply a reflection of his cultural understanding of evil. While others are not obliged to accept his interpretation, all can be expected to respect it. More than that—Muthee should be hailed for asking God to shield Palin from harmful forces, however they may be manifested. And for this he is mocked and Palin ridiculed?

“We know that many cultural elites have a hard time embracing religion, but is it too much to ask that they at least show some manners when discussing subjects which most Americans hold dear?”

Now, Bill. I know you’re off your meds, but let’s try to face a little reality, here. Firstly, witchcraft isn’t a “sad reality.” Superstitious buggers believing in witchcraft and murdering people over that inane belief is. There’s an important difference, which I’m sure you’re not quite equipped to appreciate there.

Secondly, no, all can’t “be expected to respect” some frothing fundie’s superstitious claptrap. You yourself don’t respect others’ beliefs. You took off after poor Pastor Hagee for his sincerely-held belief that the Catholic church is the Great Whore.

That’s not even to bring up your incredible anti-gay, anti-secular Jew, and anti-anyone-who-doesn’t-think-exactly-like-Bill-Donahue bias.

“Gay death style?” “I’m pretty good at picking out queers”? Your language, Mister, is positively outrageous. Your little tantrums are increasingly tiresome. Is it too much to ask that you at least show some manners when letting your bigotry hang out in public?

Bill Donahue Strikes Again

Hooray, Tax Revenue!

Courtesy of some right-wing churches that want to have their cake and eat it, too, it looks like we could be in for a windfall:

Following up on an item from a few weeks ago, federal tax law, as it relates to tax-exempt religious ministries, is pretty clear — houses of worship may not legally intervene in political campaigns, either in support of or opposition to a candidate or a party. Those who violate the law run the risk of losing their tax-exempt status.

The Alliance Defense Fund, a prominent far-right legal-advocacy group, came up with a plan — convince conservative Christian pastors to break the law, on purpose, invite IRS punishment, and then take the whole issue to court in order to challenge the law itself.

They called the plan “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” which was held yesterday in 33 churches across the country.

Defying a federal law that prohibits U.S. clergy from endorsing political candidates from the pulpit, an evangelical Christian minister told his congregation Sunday that voting for Sen. Barack Obama would be evidence of “severe moral schizophrenia.”

The Rev. Ron Johnson Jr. told worshipers that the Democratic presidential nominee’s positions on abortion and gay partnerships exist “in direct opposition to God’s truth as He has revealed it in the Scriptures.” Johnson showed slides contrasting the candidates’ views but stopped short of endorsing Obama’s Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain.

Johnson and 32 other pastors across the country set out Sunday to break the rules, hoping to generate a legal battle that will prompt federal courts to throw out a 54-year-old ban on political endorsements by tax-exempt houses of worship.

The ministers contend they have a constitutional right to advise their worshipers how to vote. As Johnson put it during a break between sermons, “The point that the IRS says you can’t do it, I’m saying you’re wrong.”

At first blush, this may sound compelling. If a church wants to endorse a candidate, it’s the church’s business, right? If congregations don’t like it, they can go to another church. If a pastor passes the collection plate for John McCain during Sunday services, church members can contribute or not contribute. This isn’t, the argument goes, any of the government’s business.

But this falls apart pretty quickly. Tax law doesn’t stifle free speech; it applies conditions to tax exemptions.

I do believe this little stunt’s going to go over about as well as their repeated attempts to teach creationism in science class. Maybe we can pay for the eventual bailout by taxing churches that are too stupid and pompous to believe the tax laws should apply to them.

Hopefully, this moronic move will make it to the Supreme Court. I could use the entertainment. I do so love watching arrogant assholes get bitch-slapped by Constitutional law.

Hooray, Tax Revenue!

Adventures in Banned Books

Raise your hand if you think you’re looking at child porn.

Back when I worked at B. Dalton, I only saw my manager lose her composure with a customer once. Some fuckwit came up to the counter foaming at the mouth with an Anne Geddes book in his hand. He demanded we remove all copies from the shelves immediately. “Anne Geddes is child porn!” he proclaimed.

My manager gave him a dumbfounded look. He’d struck both of us speechless. And he continued to rant while we attempted to pick our jaws up off the cashwrap, pompously turning pages and pointing to damning pictures of nekkid bebbes lying in fields of roses and other such horrors.

Now, I’m no Anne Geddes fan. Nauseating cute has never been my forte. Babies, in my world, are sticky squalling bundles of misery best left to others to ooo and ahh over. People look at Anne Geddes and think, “Adorable!” I look at her photos and think, “I wonder how long it took for them to get the kid to stop screaming and look precious.” But the last damned thing most of us would think is that such images were pornographic.

My manager and I looked at each other, both thinking the same thing: Anyone who would see these photos as child pornography needs some serious counselling.

She tried sweet reason with the fuckwit. “These are cute babies, there’s nothing sexual about this, look, most of them are in little costumes.” To no avail. He continued demanding we remove the books. He was going to write to our corporate office, and the newspaper, and probably the attorney general, and let them all know we sold kiddie porn.

My manager lost it at last. Her face turned red. “We do not censor books,” she informed him in tones that would have flayed a normal individual alive. “There is nothing wrong with Anne Geddes. We’re not removing those books, and I want you out of this store immediately.”

He redoubled his rants. She finally exploded. “If you don’t leave now, I’ll call security and have you removed. Do not ever come back here.”

She marched him out the door, and returned to me fuming. “I can’t stand people who try to censor books,” she announced.

Well, neither can I. I even went so far as to buy some Anne Geddes kitsch for family members by way of protest.

We proudly wore our “I READ BANNED BOOKS” buttons at the store. We sold anything and everything, without fear or favor – except The Anarchist’s Cookbook, which either through corporate policy or law enforcement request wasn’t something we’d carry. That was the only time we failed free speech, and it wasn’t our choice. I’m proud of that record.

Book banning is a slippery slope. Ban one book for its content, and you’ve opened the door to a multitude of excuses. Everyone’s going to find something offensive, even in the least offensive of tomes. Best to draw the bright line at no censorship, and let the marketplace of ideas take over from there.

Otherwise, we won’t even have saccharine sweet books of baby pictures to read.

Adventures in Banned Books

Happy Hour Discurso

Today’s opining on the public discourse.

Remember how McCain “rode to the rescue” of the bailout package? Remember how just this morning, he and his campaign were bragging about how his intervention saved the day? Heh heh heh whoops:

Everyone knew the vote on the bailout package would be close, and it was. Everyone did not know it would come up short.

In a moment of historic drama in the Capitol and on Wall Street, the House of Representatives voted on Monday to reject a $700 billion rescue of the financial industry.

The vote against the measure was 228 to 205. Supporters vowed to try to bring the rescue package up for consideration against as soon as possible.

Stock markets plunged sharply at midday as it appeared that the measure was go down.

House leaders pushing for the package kept the voting period open for some 40 minutes past the allotted time, trying to convert “no” votes by pointing to damage being done to the markets, but to no avail.

Here’s the final roll call on the vote. A total of 140 Democrats voted for it, 95 against it, while 65 Republicans voted for it, 133 against it.

Heckuva job, Johnny!

So, why did the Republicons bail on the bailout? Was it a principled stand against a flawed bill? Concern that throwing $700 billion at the problem wouldn’t solve it? A burning desire to ensure that Main Street doesn’t get raped by Wall Street? Um, no:

I can appreciate how ridiculous House Minority Leader John Boehner looks right now. I can even appreciate the fact that the Republican Party is looking desperately for someone to blame. But the GOP really hasn’t thought this one through.

Several Republican aides said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., had torpedoed any spirit of bipartisanship that surrounded the bill with her scathing speech near the close of the debate that blamed Bush’s policies for the economic turmoil.

Without mentioning her by name, Rep. Adam Putnam, R-Fla., No. 3 Republican, said: “The partisan tone at the end of the debate today I think did impact the votes on our side.”

Putnam said lawmakers were working “to garner the necessary votes to avoid a financial collapse.”

But the defeat was already causing a brutal round of finger-pointing. “We could have gotten there today had it not been for the partisan speech that the speaker gave on the floor of the House,” House Minority Leader John Boehner said. Pelosi’s words, the Ohio Republican said, “poisoned our conference, caused a number of members that we thought we could get, to go south.”

Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., the whip, estimated that Pelosi’s speech changed the minds of a dozen Republicans who might otherwise have supported the plan.

On its face, this is comically stupid. House Republicans wanted to vote to prevent a financial collapse, the pitch goes, but the Big Bad House Speaker made them mad with a speech. You can read Pelosi’s remarks yourself — if it strikes you as the kind of speech that’s worth risking the economy over, let me know.

But more important that than is the truly ridiculous frame Republicans are establishing for themselves by using Pelosi’s speech as an excuse for their own failure. The House GOP, for reasons that defy comprehension, has decided to characterize itself as a caucus of cry babies.
Worse, they’re irresponsible cry babies who, according to their own argument, are more concerned with their precious hurt feelings than the nation’s economic stability.

It’s a great slogan for the election season, isn’t it? “Vote Republican — We’re More Concerned With Our Feelings Than Your Future.”

That’s right. That mean old Nancy Pelosi said mean things, so in a fit of petulance, the poor widdle Republicons threw a tantrum and refused to play. We are ruled by a House full of two year-olds.

I can’t wait to see how that excuse plays with voters who are watching their 401Ks vanish as we speak.

But let’s not let impending financial collapse due to the Republicons’ inability to swallow their hurt feelings and vote for what we’ve been assured is the only thing standing between us and the next Great Depression distract us from really important issues. Such as… is Obama the Antichrist?

Fort Hill, SC Mayor Danny Funderburk said he forwarded a chain email suggesting Barack Obama is the antichrist because he was “just curious” if it was true:

“I was just curious if there was any validity to it,” Funderburk said in a telephone interview. “I was trying to get documentation if there was any scripture to back it up.”

If the House Republicons hadn’t thrown their tantrum, that would’ve been the single most fucking stupid thing a politician did today. I can’t even begin to dissect the layers of dumbassitude in that statement. It’s too bad he has so much competition for most fucktarded politician in America.

If there’s a ray of sunshine in all of this relentless dumbfuckery, it’s this:

After an 18-month investigation, the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility released a report today on the Bush administration’s controversial removal of nine U.S. attorneys in 2006. Though the report finds that three of the attorneys were fired for political reasons, “former att
orney general
Alberto R. Gonzales will not be referred to a federal grand jury for his role” in the firings.

Instead, the report recommends that Attorney General Michael Mukasey appoint a special prosecutor to “determine whether the evidence demonstrates that any criminal offense was
committed” in any of the firings. In a
statement today, Mukasey named Nora Dannehy, the acting U.S. attorney of Connecticut, as the special prosecutor:

The Report leaves some important questions unanswered and recommends that I appoint an attorney to assess the facts uncovered, to conduct further investigation as needed, and ultimately to determine whether any prosecutable offense was committed with regard to the removal of a U.S. Attorney or the testimony of any witness related to the U.S. Attorney removals. […]

Therefore, I have asked Nora Dannehy to exercise the authority of the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia for purposes of this matter. In that capacity, Ms. Dannehy will report to me through the Deputy Attorney General.

According to the Washington Post, Mukasey’s decision to appoint a special prosecutor ensures “that the politically charged issue will extend into the next administration.”

There is a faint hope here that some of the egregious criminality in the Bush Regime may finally get some of these fuckwits pulled into court and, eventually, thrown in jail. Just a tiny ray of hope.

I’ll take what I can get at this point.

Happy Hour Discurso

Carnival of the Elitist Bastards V: Gone Cruisin'

Aye, my darlings, the crew of the HMS Elitist Bastard is all aboard The Coffee-Stained Writer’s Caribbean Elite, and we be savoring the luxury. Captain NP, who worked herself to the bone and delivered a brilliant Carnival of the Elitist Bastards, has the full report of our carousing.

Look on her works, ye landlubbers, and admire!

Our celebrated return:

(Postdated to stick around a bit)

Carnival of the Elitist Bastards V: Gone Cruisin'

An Unhealthy Aversion to Sex and Fantasy: Welcome to Banned Books Week

I know, I know. The Palin Train Wreck is about to leave the station (and who can doubt that her upcoming debate with Sen. Joe Biden is going to be anything but an epic fail?), the bailout package is wandering the halls of Congress demanding braaaiiinss, and as John McCain watches his poll numbers sink, he gets more frantic by the hour, which leads to endless entertainment. Who has time for anything else?

But this is important, my darlings. It’s Banned Books Week, and with a vice presidential candidate who’s all about the book banning, it’s more important than ever that we don’t let the banners and burners get a leg up on us.

In reading through lists of challenged books over this past year, I’ve noticed an ongoing theme: sex and fantasy. The banners are of the opinion that the slightest description of sex, the merest hint that homosexuality isn’t eviiil, and the faintest whiff of witches or wizards are reasons to ban books. And they’re not limiting themselves to screaming blue murder over blue language at the local school library.


They’re going international:

On September 10, ABFFE and 18 groups issued a statement urging Congress to protect American writers and publishers from the growing threat posed by libel suits that are filed in foreign countries in an effort to intimidate them. The lawsuits are filed in countries that offer less protection for criticism than the United States and where the burden of proof rests with the defendant to prove the truth of any allegedly libelous statement. Defendants in these cases sometimes have to defend their books in countries where they have never been published. The practice of filing foreign libel cases against Americans has been denounced as “libel tourism.” The statement, which was sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee, calls for passage of the Free Speech Protection Act of 2008 (S. 2977). Modeled on a New York law, S. 2977 provides that foreign libel judgments cannot be enforced in the United States if the speech is not actionable under U.S. law. S. 2977 also authorizes U.S. authors to countersue the foreign plaintiffs in a U.S. court for damages of up to three times the amount of the foreign judgment if the foreign plaintiff acted to suppress their speech. Click here to read the statement.

The burners are serious about censorship. We’re going to get serious right back at ’em. So, my darlings, grab your buttons and your favorite banned book, and make a statement: Your psychological hangups don’t dictate my reading material!

An Unhealthy Aversion to Sex and Fantasy: Welcome to Banned Books Week

Now Taking Requests

Let’s open the floor to you all, my darlings. This cantina, after all, is for you.

Do you have a field of science or a particularly juicy bit o’ science news you want to see highlighted in Sunday Sensational Science? Lay it on me.

Ideas for Friday Favorites? Let’s have ’em.

Anything else on your mind? I’m all ears.

The floor is yours.

Now Taking Requests

There's Divorced from Reality and Then There's…

…murdering it, cutting it into pieces, stuffing the remains into suitcases, and dumping them in remote areas while telling concerned inquirers that “Reality and I just felt like we needed a little break from each other. I think she went to Barbados. Don’t worry – I’m sure she’ll be back soon!

The co-founder of the Federalist Society answers the question of whether distrust in the Bush administration was leading to skepticism about the treasury bailout plan:

This Administration deserves to be trusted because it has kept us safe from terrorist attack since 9/11, has fought and won two wars, has presided over eight years of economic growth, has appointed two stellar justices to the Supreme Court, and has even learned how to do Louisiana’s job of protecting that state from hurricanes. The day will come, and not before long, when Americans will wish that George Bush was still president.

There’s not a single statement in there that even remotely corresponds to reality. There’s not even a single plausible statement in there. It’s a new neocon record for most sweeping denial of reality evah!

Do I even have to debunk this? I mean, it’d be sort of like debunking the ravings of a schizophrenic homeless guy: it could be done, but why do the work when the rest of us know it’s just the insanity talking?

There's Divorced from Reality and Then There's…

Happy Hour Discurso

Today’s opining on the public discourse.

Today, we learn that Sarah Palin doesn’t speak for the McCain campaign:

Over the summer, there were a series of instances in which John McCain would say something, and McCain aides would walk it back by saying the candidate doesn’t actually speak for the candidate’s campaign. At one point, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, one of McCain’s top advisors, said that just because McCain says something publicly about a policy, “that doesn’t mean it’s official.”

This morning, McCain took a similar tack with Sarah Palin.

Sen. John McCain retracted Sarah Palin’s stance on Pakistan Sunday morning, after the Alaska governor appeared to back Sen. Barack Obama’s support for unilateral strikes inside Pakistan against terrorists

“She would not…she understands and has stated repeatedly that we’re not going to do anything except in America’s national security interest,” McCain told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos of Palin. “In all due respect, people going around and… sticking a microphone while conversations are being held, and then all of a
sudden that’s — that’s a person’s position… This is a free country, but I don’t think most Americans think that that’s a definitive policy statement made by Governor Palin.”

I see. So, just because Sarah Palin says something in public doesn’t mean Palin actually believes what she’s saying. And for goodness sakes, no one should think that Palin’s comments are a reflection of the campaign’s position on an issue.

Can I just ask one small question here? Thank you. If John McCain doesn’t speak for his campaign, and his running mate Sarah Palin doesn’t speak for his campaign, just why the fuck are we supposed to vote for them?

While we’re at it, would somebody please tell me why we would want to vote for a man with a gambling problem?

We talked the other day about John McCain’s affinity for gambling — literally with games of chance, and figuratively with taking enormous risks — to the point that even some
Republicans concede that McCain is “
on the borderline of what is acceptable.”

But in a striking and well-researched piece, the New York Times’ Jo Becker and Don Van Natta report today on the extent of McCain’s gambling interests and gambling ties.

Senator John McCain was on a roll. In a room reserved for high-stakes gamblers at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut, he tossed $100 chips around a hot craps table. When the marathon session ended around 2:30 a.m., the Arizona senator and his entourage emerged with thousands of dollars in winnings.

A lifelong gambler, Mr. McCain takes risks, both on and off the craps table. He was throwing dice that night not long after his failed 2000 presidential bid, in which he was skewered by the Republican Party’s evangelical base, opponents of gambling. Mr. McCain was betting at a casino he oversaw as a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, and he was doing so with the lobbyist who
represents that casino, according to three associates of Mr. McCain.

The visit had been arranged by the lobbyist, Scott Reed, who works for the Mashantucket Pequot, a tribe that has contributed heavily to Mr. McCain’s campaigns and built Foxwoods into the world’s second-largest casino. Joining them was Rick Davis, Mr. McCain’s current campaign manager. Their night of good fortune epitomized not just Mr. McCain’s affection for gambling, but also the close relationship he has built with the gambling industry and its lobbyists during his 25-year career in Congress.

That appears to be an understatement. McCain has more than 40 top advisers and fundraisers who have lobbied or worked for gambling interests. Several of McCain’s closest personal friends are casino executives. He receives more money from the gambling industry than almost any member of Congress, especially those outside Nevada and New Jersey. And he loves
heading to casinos, traveling to Las Vegas regularly for “weekend betting marathons,” overruling aides who’ve asked him to consider the appearances — not only of a man who gambles too much, but also of a senator who has enormous oversight responsibilities of the gaming industry.

Gambling isn’t a hot-button issue for me, but this is why I find McCain’s penchant to play the odds disturbing. First, it’s not a part of his personality he seems to be able to turn off: he’s as impulsive with policy decisions and political choices (Palin, anyone?) as he is with the games. Secondly, he favors games of chance, not strategy – which can speak to a personality that doesn’t like to fiddle with details, carefully assess risks, and in general isn’t the kind of attitude you’d like to see in a president. Thirdly, there’s the fact he’s immersed so deeply in the gaming industry. It’s one thing to play a few games. It’s quite another to have forty fucking advisers and fundraisers who have such close ties to that industry.

And McCain does them favors, such as getting rivals out of the way:

McCain often brags that he led the Senate investigation into fallen lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who overbilled his Indian tribal clients millions of dollars. However, the New York Times reports that lobbyists in 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“:

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.

After firing Abramoff, the Coushatta tribe hired lobbyist Hance Scarborough, who had been friends with McCain since the ’80s. Scarborough charged the tribe nearly $1.3 million for 11 months of work, although his firm produced few tangible results. In 2005, Scarborough also put McCain’s then-chief strategist John Weaver on the tribe’s payroll. The Coushattas said it was like the Abramoff scandal “happening all over again.”

That doesn’t sound like a man who’s going to clean up Washington, does it?

Unless, of course, your definition of “clean up” is “rob blind.”

Happy Hour Discurso