Gary Hart slams Billary

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Skeptical Brotha’s Mea Culpa: I am sorry y’all, I’ve been absent for several days and I just needed a mental health break. I am working on a piece that I hope y’all will enjoy and in the meantime, this commentary from former Democratic presidential candidate Gary Hart sums up my thoughts on the national security credentials of Billary Clinton.

Hat Tip: Huffington Post

“It will come as a surprise to many people that there are rules in politics. Most of those rules are unwritten and are based on common understandings, acceptable practices, and the best interest of the political party a candidate seeks to lead. One of those rules is this: Do not provide ammunition to the opposition party that can be used to destroy your party’s nominee. This is a hyper-truth where the presidential contest is concerned.

By saying that only she and John McCain are qualified to lead the country, particularly in times of crisis, Hillary Clinton has broken that rule, severely damaged the Democratic candidate who may well be the party’s nominee, and, perhaps most ominously, revealed the unlimited lengths to which she will go to achieve power. She has essentially said that the Democratic party deserves to lose unless it nominates her.”

…If Mrs. Clinton loses the nomination, her failure will be traced to the date she voted to empower George W. Bush to invade Iraq…For her now to claim that Senator Obama is not qualified to answer the crisis phone is the height of irony if not chutzpah, and calls into question whether her primary loyalty is to the Democratic party and the nation or to her own ambition.”

Grandpa McCain’s chick on the side

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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’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.

“Our political messaging during that time period centered around taking on the special interests and placing the nation’s interests before either personal or special interest,” Mr. Weaver continued. “Ms. Iseman’s involvement in the campaign, it was felt by us, could undermine that effort.”

Mr. Weaver added that the brief conversation was only about “her conduct and what she allegedly had told people, which made its way back to us.” He declined to elaborate.

It is not clear what effect the warnings had; the associates said their concerns receded in the heat of the campaign.

Ms. Iseman acknowledged meeting with Mr. Weaver, but disputed his account.

“I never discussed with him alleged things I had ‘told people,’ that had made their way ‘back to’ him,” she wrote in an e-mail message. She said she never received special treatment from Mr. McCain’s office.

Mr. McCain said that the relationship was not romantic and that he never showed favoritism to Ms. Iseman or her clients. “I have never betrayed the public trust by doing anything like that,” he said. He made the statements in a call to Bill Keller, the executive editor of The New York Times, to complain about the paper’s inquiries.

The senator declined repeated interview requests, beginning in December. He also would not comment about the assertions that he had been confronted about Ms. Iseman, Mr. Black said Wednesday.

Mr. Davis and Mark Salter, Mr. McCain’s top strategists in both of his presidential campaigns, disputed accounts from the former associates and aides and said they did not discuss Ms. Iseman with the senator or colleagues.

“I never had any good reason to think that the relationship was anything other than professional, a friendly professional relationship,” Mr. Salter said in an interview.

He and Mr. Davis also said Mr. McCain had frequently denied requests from Ms. Iseman and the companies she represented. In 2006, Mr. McCain sought to break up cable subscription packages, which some of her clients opposed. And his proposals for satellite distribution of local television programs fell short of her clients’ hopes.

The McCain aides said the senator sided with Ms. Iseman’s clients only when their positions hewed to his principles

A champion of deregulation, Mr. McCain wrote letters in 1998 and 1999 to the Federal Communications Commission urging it to uphold marketing agreements allowing a television company to control two stations in the same city, a crucial issue for Glencairn Ltd., one of Ms. Iseman’s clients. He introduced a bill to create tax incentives for minority ownership of stations; Ms. Iseman represented several businesses seeking such a program. And he twice tried to advance legislation that would permit a company to control television stations in overlapping markets, an important issue for Paxson.

In late 1999, Ms. Iseman asked Mr. McCain’s staff to send a letter to the commission to help Paxson, now Ion Media Networks, on another matter. Mr. Paxson was impatient for F.C.C. approval of a television deal, and Ms. Iseman acknowledged in an e-mail message to The Times that she had sent to Mr. McCain’s staff information for drafting a letter urging a swift decision.

Mr. McCain complied. He sent two letters to the commission, drawing a rare rebuke for interference from its chairman. In an embarrassing turn for the campaign, news reports invoked the Keating scandal, once again raising questions about intervening for a patron.

Mr. McCain’s aides released all of his letters to the F.C.C. to dispel accusations of favoritism, and aides said the campaign had properly accounted for four trips on the Paxson plane. But the campaign did not report the flight with Ms. Iseman. Mr. McCain’s advisers say he was not required to disclose the flight, but ethics lawyers dispute that.

Recalling the Paxson episode in his memoir, Mr. McCain said he was merely trying to push along a slow-moving bureaucracy, but added that he was not surprised by the criticism given his history.

“Any hint that I might have acted to reward a supporter,” he wrote, “would be taken as an egregious act of hypocrisy.”

Statement by McCain

Mr. McCain’s presidential campaign issued the following statement Wednesday night:

“It is a shame that The New York Times has lowered its standards to engage in a hit-and-run smear campaign. 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.”

Lieberwhore endorses John McCain

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Republican Presidential hopeful, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., ...

Hat Tip:  Jennifer Loven, Associated Press

Sen. John McCain, trying to keep momentum in this state’s critical Republican primary race, brought in something unusual on Monday — an endorsement from the other party’s former vice presidential nominee.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Democrat Al Gore’s running mate in 2000, said he had intended to wait until after the primaries to make a choice for the 2008 presidential race. But McCain asked for his support and no Democrat did.

Lieberman, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, said he chose his longtime Senate colleague because he has the best shot of breaking partisan gridlock in Washington. Both men also support the war in Iraq.

“On all the issues, you’re never going to do anything about them unless you have a leader who can break through the partisan gridlock,” Lieberman said. “The status quo in Washington is not working.”

Independents can vote in New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary on Jan. 8, and they are the people McCain is targeting, much as he did in winning the state’s Republican primary in 2000 over George W. Bush.

Traveling with Lieberman Monday morning to Hillsborough’s American Legion hall, McCain said the Connecticut senator is his answer to the people he hears in every town hall meeting who ask, “Why can’t you all work together?”

Lieberman said McCain’s approach to Iraq and his credentials on national security are the main reasons he is supporting a Republican for president.

But both men said the election seems increasingly about the economy and domestic issues rather than Iraq. On those issues, Lieberman acknowledged he does not always see eye-to-eye with his 2008 pick. But, said Lieberman, McCain is always straightforward about where he stands.

For McCain, behind in the polls here but gaining, the endorsement carries the risk of alienating conservatives who have been critical of his support for immigration and campaign finance reforms.

“If I get some criticism for aligning myself with a good friend I have worked with for many years, I will be more than happy to accept that criticism,” McCain said.

For Lieberman, it marks another turn away from the Democrats.

“Political party is important, but it’s not more important than what’s good for the country and it’s not more important than friendship,” Lieberman said.

Lieberman won re-election to the Senate in 2006 as an independent, after losing the Democratic primary largely because of his support for the war. High-profile Democrats abandoned him after the primary defeat.

This has to be the most epic betrayal of all time.  The Majority Leader, Harry Reid, mumbled something about having “the greatest respect for Joe.”   Greatest respect, Harry?  F*#@, Joe and F*#@ You. 

ABC Republican Debate

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gopdebate

The comb-over caucus met again for another one of their forgetable debates yesterday morning on This Week with Georgie the Greek.   On display was the full panoply of GOP wingnuttia and delusional posturing on abortion, immigration, and the War in Iraq.  It was truly not worth watching except that the applause of partisans cheering for their guy was totally unexpected.  

The buzz being generated on the right by Ron Paul is interesting.  First, he’s foresquare against the war and they applauded him lustily for it.   Second,  he’s a former libertarian Presidential candidate and has generated fanatical enthusiasm from the small government and anti-tax zealots that dwell therein.   Third,  his fundraising is picking up substantially.  His candidacy is harnessing the resurgence of far right wing extremism and in that respect, his candidacy is reminesent of Barry Goldwater’s in 1964.  He is not a traditional Republican by any means.  He’s too far to the right.  Crony capitalism is not his deal.   He’s all about drowning government in the bathtub.    

My favorite line of the debate was Mitt Romney’s shot across the bow to Barack Obama.  He said “He’s willing to have tea with our enemies and to bomb our allies,” or something to that effect.   It was a great line and a signal to the sentient that this crowd are the most dangerous reactionaries to ever seek the presidency in a long time.   Nothing will be settled in this contest until Fred Thompson joins them on stage and his full campaign platform is unveiled for all to see.  

After the mauling that Giuliani took on abortion, I was surprised that the NYPD didn’t storm the stage to arrest his challengers.  In the perfect police state of his fantasies, this is what would happen.

Obama leading McCain and Romney 47% to 38%,

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Barack ObamaJohn McCainMitt Romney

Hat Tip: Rasmussen Reports

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone poll finds Illinois Senator Barack Obama (D) with a nine point lead over Arizona Senator John McCain (R). It’s Obama 47% McCain 38%. That’s little changed from a month ago and the fourth straight monthly poll in which Obama has enjoyed an advantage over McCain. For the two months before that, they were tied.

McCain has had a terrible month of July including a shocking report that his campaign was nearly out of money, staff defections, and declining poll numbers. Among those seeking the Republican nomination, he is currently in fourth place in the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll. Early in the month, his favorability rating fell to 44% and, for the first time ever, a larger percentage offered an unfavorable opinion of the Senator. Polling released this week showed that McCain’s decline has stopped for the moment–45% now have a favorable opinion of him while 46% hold an unfavorable view.

Last December, McCain had been viewed favorably by 59% of voters. As recently as two months ago, 55% had a positive assessment of the Senator from Arizona.

As McCain seeks to keep his campaign afloat, he does so with a tremendous disadvantage—40% of Republican voters have an unfavorable opinion of him. No other candidate in either party approaches that level (the closest is former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, viewed unfavorably by 31% of Republicans).

Obama is now viewed favorably by 54% of voters nationwide and unfavorably by 37%. He remains in second place among those seeking the Democratic Presidential nomination. Obama and New York Senator Hillary Clinton are clearly in a league of their own at this point in the nomination process.

McCain also trails Clinton and former North Carolina Senator John Edwards in general election match-ups.

Obama leads Romney and is in close races with Republican frontrunners Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani.

Obama and Clinton report over $ 30 million in campaign coffers

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HAT TIP: By JIM KUHNHENN, Associated Press 

Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton ended the first half of the year with more than $30 million each for the presidential primaries, a formidable financial performance for the two leading Democratic White House contenders.As the two rivals basked in money, Republican John McCain’s presidential campaign reported spending more than it raised from April through June, leaving him financially strapped with $3.2 million cash on hand and a $1.8 million debt.

Those contrasting financial pictures emerged Sunday from quarterly financial reports filed by the campaigns with the Federal Election Commission. Obama reported having about $34 million in primary cash on hand; Clinton reported $33 million. Obama had an edge on money owed by the campaign; he reported less than $1 million in debts and Clinton reported $3 million.Obama led in fundraising for the period covering April though June, raising $32 million for the primary election and nearly $800,000 for the general election.Clinton raised about $21.5 million for the primary and $5.6 million for the general election, her campaign said. Neither candidate can use the general election money unless he or she wins the nomination.John Edwards, the Democrat closest to the two fundraising leaders, reported having $12 million in the bank for the primary.

Hindered by unpopular stands on the war and on immigration, McCain raised $11.26 million in the second quarter, short of his first quarter donations. He spent $13 million. Overall, McCain has raised $25 million so far in his campaign and spent $22 million.

The Arizona senator upended his campaign organization last week as his financial straits became apparent. His campaign manager, Terry Nelson, left and his longtime strategist, John Weaver, resigned. The repercussions caused changes down the chain of command. While his financial straits have been known for more than a week, the reports show that McCain spent more on staff than either of his better financed rivals. McCain’s payroll grew after the first quarter, despite initial cutbacks. Overall, McCain payroll was nearly $3.6 million for the year so far.

Obama enters the third quarter with more fundraising momentum than Clinton. Not only has he aggressively gone after money, he has also worked to expand his donor base. His efforts have netted him more than 250,000 donors for the year. Overall, he has raised nearly $59 million, with all but about $1.7 million devoted to the primary election.

Despite his vaunted base of small donors, Obama is a favorite among employees of some of the nation’s largest investment banks and hedge funds. One of them, Kenneth C. Griffin, president of Chicago-based hedge fund Citadel Investment Group, gave Obama $4,600 this quarter, the maximum allowed. Other Citadel employees gave him $147,550.

Lehman Brothers employees gave Obama $160,760 this quarter; Goldman Sachs, $103,550; and JP Morgan Chase, $101,950. About half of Obama’s fundraising total for the year comes from about 10,000 donors who have given him the maximum donation.

New York Sen. Clinton has raised $53 million, with $12.6 million of that usable only in the general election. Clinton boosted her revenue in the first quarter by transferring $10 million into her campaign from her Senate election account.

The Clinton campaign reported spending $12.2 million.

Obama dramatically increased the size of his staff in the second quarter. His payroll went from less than $1 million in the first three months to $3.2 million in the second quarter. The campaign has hired more than 100 staffers and has 29 field offices in Iowa and six in New Hampshire.

Obama’s campaign paid nearly $3 million for travel during the quarter and spent about $1.3 million in telemarketing, one of its top single expenses.

Edwards, the former senator from North Carolina and 2004 vice presidential nominee, raised about $8.8 million for the primary from April through June; he also raised $250,000 for the general election, money he can’t use unless he becomes the Democratic nominee.

Overall, Edwards has raised $21.8 million for the primary and $1.3 million for the general election. While trailing Obama and Clinton, Edwards retained his place ahead of New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut.

Dodd reported raising nearly $3.3 million with nearly $6.4 million in the bank. For the year, Dodd has total receipts of $12.1 million, which includes a $4.7 million transfer from his Senate campaign account. Richardson on Saturday reported raising $7 million in the second quarter and having a similar amount in the bank.

Among Republicans filing Sunday, Ron Paul, the Texas congressman running a long-shot campaign, reported raising nearly $2.4 million from April through June and ended the quarter with a similar amount in the bank.

The total is a remarkable showing for Paul, putting him in a better financial position — with less cash on hand but no debt — than McCain. Paul still barely registers in public opinion polls and raised far less than McCain or the other leading Republicans. But his libertarian views and opposition to the war in Iraq have lit a fire among nontraditional contributors, particularly on the Internet.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who are leading the Republican field in money and in public opinion polls, reported their finances on Friday. Romney had $12.1 million cash on hand and has lent his campaign nearly $9 million since the beginning of the year. Giuliani reported $14.6 million in the bank for the primary election.

Republican presidential candidates filing second quarter reports Sunday:

_Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas raised $1.4 million, slightly more than his campaign brought in during the previous quarter. The candidate reported having $460,236 in the bank.

_Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee raised $764,000 and had $437,000 cash on hand at the end of last month.

_Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson raised $461,000. He reported nearly $122,000 cash on hand, but also listed debts and obligations of more than $127,000.

_Rep. Duncan Hunter of California raised $806,000 and had $213,000 cash on hand.

Lackluster performance in the second quarter already caused one Republican candidate to quit the race. Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore announced Saturday he was withdrawing. On Sunday he reported $62,000 cash on hand and $129,000 in debts and obligations.

Campaign Mailbag: John McCain fundraising appeal

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 John McCain 2008 - John McCain for President

I wanted to forward on this important message we sent last week in case you missed it. As we approach the financial reporting deadline at the end of this month, For the love of God, please join us in reaching our goal.  

Thanks,
Christian


Today, we at the McCain eCampaign invite you to be a part of our new online initiative to help us reach our desperate goal of raising anything respectable by June 30th.

During his remarkable century of service to our country, John McCain has served in the Navy, U.S. House of Representatives, and U.S. Senate. In 1917, he was serving our country as an aviator in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Forrestal in the First World War.

An accident aboard the ship made him fixated about a career in politics and provided him an option to return home and receive psychiatric help, but he did not take it. Instead, he chose to continue his “service” to his country by running for Congress, then transferring to the U.S. Senate. In 2000, he was shot down in the Republican Primaries and spent the next eight years of his life as the prisoner of a beltway delusion that he could be President. The years John McCain spent running for President only strengthened his delusional love and respect of our unpopular commander and chief.

Today, John McCain continues his eons of “service” to our great country as a U.S Senator and as a candidate in a fruitless run for President. John McCain has never been a man to take the easy way out. As he seeks the Presidency again, he has alienated the base with his stupid support of Dubya’s Immigration bill-and killed his chance at the brass ring. This is the essence of the ass-out predicament we’re in as a campaign, and we desperately hope that you will join our campaign today so that we will continue to have futures in Republican politics even if he doesn’t. Your immediate contribution will help catapult our careers off this sinking ship.

We are approaching the end of the second quarter fundraising deadline on June 30th. The McCain eCampaign has pledged to raise anything respectable by this date, and we desperately need your support today to reach our goal.

Will you give $50, $100, $250, $500 or even $1,000 today to help us reach our goal by June 30th?

You have likely heard the pundits refer to this campaign as a “Dead Man Walking”, and in the early death throws. In the highly unlikely event he is elected President, it will be because we have a strong grassroots network of besotted wingnuts like you.

If you have already given to the campaign, we thank you for your idiotic generosity. We ask that you give one more contribution of whatever you can afford – whether it is $50 or $500 – every little bit helps us reach our goal. If you have not made a financial commitment to McCain 2008, you really shouldn’t bother, but if you must, do so by following this secure link.

You are the backbone of our campaign, and we are always thankful for your wasted energy, wasted time and wasted financial commitment. Once again (and we cannot say this enough), thank you.

Sincerely,
Christian Ferry
National eCampaign Director

P.S. We are approaching our second quarter fundraising deadline on June 30th. We know that Old Man McCain isn’t up to the challenge. Now is the time to show your compassion to us, his long-suffering campaign staff, as we seek to support our families. Please help the eCampaign reach our fundraising goal of anything respectable by June 30th.

God Bless you!