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Archive for May 9th, 2008

Tracking the Supers

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 9th, 2008 4:39 am by HL

Tracking the Supers
The Politico has an excellent chart to keep track of the Democratic superdelegates and who they have endorsed and who is still uncommitted.


Mr. Straight Talk

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 9th, 2008 4:38 am by HL

Mr. Straight Talk
Oh, yeah. He’s pure as the driven snow on this ethics stuff.The media narrative on McCain – no doubt concocted over a plate of quality CostCo beef ribs – is that after Johnny boy was part of the Keating Five, he cleaned up his act and became an ethical reformer and the poster boy for clean government.Ask any lobbyist employed by him as a campaign consultant, the man is awesome!Funny

Oh, yeah. He’s pure as the driven snow on this ethics stuff.

The media narrative on McCain – no doubt concocted over a plate of quality CostCo beef ribs – is that after Johnny boy was part of the Keating Five, he cleaned up his act and became an ethical reformer and the poster boy for clean government.

Ask any lobbyist employed by him as a campaign consultant, the man is awesome!

Funny how, upon inspection, that narrative falls apart.

Sen. John McCain championed legislation that will let an Arizona rancher trade remote grassland and ponderosa pine forest here for acres of valuable federally owned property that is ready for development, a land swap that now stands to directly benefit one of his top presidential campaign fundraisers.

Initially reluctant to support the swap, the Arizona Republican became a key figure in pushing the deal through Congress after the rancher and his partners hired lobbyists that included McCain’s 1992 Senate campaign manager, two of his former Senate staff members (one of whom has returned as his chief of staff), and an Arizona insider who was a major McCain donor and is now bundling campaign checks.

When McCain’s legislation passed in November 2005, the ranch owner gave the job of building as many as 12,000 homes to SunCor Development, a firm in Tempe, Ariz., run by Steven A. Betts, a longtime McCain supporter who has raised more than $100,000 for the presumptive Republican nominee. Betts said he and McCain never discussed the deal.

Looks like a map of this deal would have a lot of straight lines connecting Mr. Straight Talk’s name and the people who most benefited from this law, his contributors.

And it was a sweet deal:

Although the bill called for the two parcels to be of equal value, a federal forestry official told a congressional committee that he was concerned that “the public would not receive fair value” for its land. A formal appraisal has not yet begun. A town official opposed to the swap said other Yavapai Ranch land sold nine years ago for about $2,000 per acre, while some of the prime commercial land near a parcel that the developers will get has brought as much as $120,000 per acre.

And the man who hates lobbyists so much, he hired them to run his campaign from his “McPlane”, was apparently persuaded by, lobbyists:

McCain initially withheld support for Hayworth’s bill, which failed in 2002. Ruskin saw McCain’s restraint as an obstacle. He said Senate staff members warned him that the senator was wary of a swap because “he spent some political capital and got some bricks thrown at him” over the Tonto National Forest deal.

Ruskin, who is a pediatrician by training, said he realized he needed to hire lobbyists “to open communications with McCain’s office.”

He turned to some of McCain’s closest former advisers. In 2002, he sought out Mark Buse, McCain’s former staff director at the Senate commerce committee, which the senator chaired…

That year, lobbying records show, Ruskin also paid $60,000 to Michael Jimenez, another former McCain aide. Wes Gullett, who had worked in McCain’s Senate office, managed his 1992 reelection bid, and served as deputy campaign manager for his 2000 presidential run, also lobbied on the bill, documents show. The watchdog group Public Citizen lists Gullett and his wife, Deborah, as bundlers who have raised more than $100,000 for McCain’s White House bid. Ruskin also hired Gullett’s partner, Kurt R. Davis, another McCain bundler and member of the senator’s Arizona leadership team, to work with local officials and “to help with McCain if we needed help.”

You can literally see peoples’ backs being washed [so I’d avert my eyes if I were you].

[O]pponents were baffled by the senator’s seemingly contradictory positions. Said Blaeloch: “The bizarre thing to me regarding McCain is, we spent a lot of time with his staff, and we all seemed to be on the same page about the problems with this swap. But somehow, John McCain kept pushing it forward.”

Meanwhile, the alleged Tony Rezko trial has proceeded in Chicago without Barak Obama’s name being connected to any malfeasance — despite all of the reporting anxiously awaiting it.

Funny how that happens.


Hillary, Obama and the Campaign Debt Factor

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 9th, 2008 4:37 am by HL

Hillary, Obama and the Campaign Debt Factor

Thomas Edsall at Huffpo writes that the Obama campaign may agree to pay off Hillary Clinton's campaign debt of $10 plus million, plus her campaign expenses of $10 plus million, if she bows out gracefully now.

George Stephanapoulous says:

We know that Senator Clinton loaned herself a little more than $11 million. Going into April, the campaign finance reports show the campaign was carrying a debt of $10 million to $15 million. My sources are now telling that that number is far higher. The campaign debt is far higher than ten million dollars. It could be double that, maybe even more. And the lack of money and load of that debt could be driving the decisions inside the Clinton camp in coming days.

What do you think? Will there be an offer of debt repayment and if so, is Hillary likely to take it?


Longer Game

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 9th, 2008 4:36 am by HL

Longer Game
It’s true that builders made money from selling homes at inflated prices, but many of them also had a lot more in the pipeline to build. Short-term profits, yes, but at the expense of potentially bankrupting losses through carrying costs on unsold homes and land.


Drive 800 Miles or Feed a Person for a Year? The Biofuels Dilemma

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 9th, 2008 4:35 am by HL

Drive 800 Miles or Feed a Person for a Year? The Biofuels Dilemma
Can the pumping of ethanol into American fuel tanks really make it harder for parents to feed their families?

The Superdelegate Problem
The conflict between popularly chosen delegates and powerful, unelected “superdelegates” may seriously wound the Democratic Party.


Obama’s Super-Del Whip: Many Super-Dels Back Obama, But Won’t Go Public

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 9th, 2008 4:34 am by HL

Obama’s Super-Del Whip: Many Super-Dels Back Obama, But Won’t Go Public
I just got off the phone with Rep. Melissa Bean, who is one of Obama’s chief super-delegate whip-counters. She said two things of interest: First, she predicted that it was “entirely possible” that Obama could pull even with Hillary in…


The Daily Muck

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 9th, 2008 4:33 am by HL

The Daily Muck
Republicans in Washington D.C. have asked Office of Special Counsel chief Scott Bloch to resign. This follows an FBI-led raid of his offices uncovered documents related to an investigation into allegations of Bloch’s political bias and obstruction of justice in…


Cindy McCain won’t release taxes

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 9th, 2008 4:32 am by HL

Cindy McCain won’t release taxes
Cindy McCain won’t release taxes


Elizabeth Edwards: ?Most Preventable Cause Of Unnecessary Suffering? Is Lack Of Health Insurance

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 9th, 2008 4:31 am by HL

Elizabeth Edwards: ?Most Preventable Cause Of Unnecessary Suffering? Is Lack Of Health Insurance
Conservatives love to crow that the United States has “the best health care in the world.” Yet these same conservatives overlook the fact that 47 million Americans lack any health insurance at all, leaving them shut out of access to this world-class health care. Indeed, as Center for American Progress Senior Fellow Elizabeth Edwards told the […]

Conservatives love to crow that the United States has “the best health care in the world.” Yet these same conservatives overlook the fact that 47 million Americans lack any health insurance at all, leaving them shut out of access to this world-class health care.

Indeed, as Center for American Progress Senior Fellow Elizabeth Edwards told the Senate Health Committee today, “It doesn’t matter what kind of services we have if we don’t have access to them”:

Health insurance matters. The quality of coverage, of course, matters, but health insurance itself is really crucial part of this. Probably the most preventable cause of unnecessary suffering in our health care system is the lack of adequate health insurance. … We know how to lengthen and improve the lives of people with cancer. But we’ve chosen as a nation to turn our backs on some of us who have the disease. I urge you to reform health care responsibly, morally, and aggressively.

Watch it:

Edwards urged the senators to “build on the successful system of employer-based coverage,” a system that covers 158 million Americans — and that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has promised to completely dismantle. Instead, he has proposed a paltry $5,000 tax credit for individuals to fend for themselves in the health insurance market, even though the average annual premium of an employer-based insurance policy is $12,000.

Edwards also mentioned the disturbing disparities in access faced by minorities. FamiliesUSA writes, “Although racial and ethnic minorities constitute one third of the total U.S. population, they comprise more than one half (52 percent) of the uninsured population. In fact, in 2003, 23 million of the 45 million uninsured were racial and ethnic minority Americans.” Rather than cover these people, McCain’s plan could result in 158 million more Americans losing their health insurance.


Obama Seeks To Unify Party For November

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 9th, 2008 4:30 am by HL

Obama Seeks To Unify Party For November
Sen. Barack Obama began taking the first steps to unify the fractured Democratic Party for a general-election battle against Sen. John McCain, even as Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton continued to insist that she has the backing of a broader coalition that could carry the party to victory in November.

McCain Pushed Land Swap That Benefits Backer
PRESCOTT, Ariz. — Sen. John McCain championed legislation that will let an Arizona rancher trade remote grassland and ponderosa pine forest here for acres of valuable federally owned property that is ready for development, a land swap that now stands to directly benefit one of his top presidenti…