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John McCain and the Dictator Money Trail

John McCain will fire you for lobbying for Burma, but he'll still take your money. Republican operatives Doug Davenport...

| Thu May 15, 2008 12:16 AM EDT

mccain_closeup_250x200.jpg John McCain will fire you for lobbying for Burma, but he'll still take your money.

Republican operatives Doug Davenport and Doug Goodyear were both quietly released from their duties with the McCain campaign this week when it was revealed that their Washington lobbying firm, DCI Group, had been paid $348,000 to represent Burma's repressive military junta in 2002. McCain's critics noted that top McCain aide Charlie Black has lobbied for authoritarian regimes as nasty or worse than Burma's, raising the question of whether McCain will cut ties with tainted figures only when it is politically expedient for him to do so.

There are other facts in the situation that may prove controversial. The two lobbyists for Burma were also donors to McCain. Doug Goodyear, DCI Group's chief executive and the man McCain had selected to run the GOP national convention, and his wife Carla donated $4,600 to McCain's presidential campaign and $2,500 to McCain's Straight Talk America PAC. Carla Goodyear also donated $1,000 to McCain's 2004 Senate reelection bid. Doug Davenport, the head of DCI Group's lobbying arm and a former regional campaign manager for McCain, and his wife Kelley contributed $6,900 to McCain's presidential campaign and $3,500 to his PAC.

Other DCI Group employees have donated $2,000 to McCain. All told, DCI Group employees and their spouses have sent $20,500 to McCain. McCain fired the two DCI Group executives from his campaign, but will he return their contributions? We called McCain's press office to ask and have not yet received a response. Can it be that McCain is willing to separate himself from lobbyists working for Burma but will cling to their cash?

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ACLU Releases New Detainee Docs

The ACLU got its hands on a bunch of previously withheld documents from the State Department, DoJ, and military officials...

| Wed May 14, 2008 5:15 PM EDT

The ACLU got its hands on a bunch of previously withheld documents from the State Department, DoJ, and military officials regarding the treatment of detainees. Of note are a summary (.pdf) of investigations into four detainee deaths (including one where an interrogator bashed in a detainee's head with a stove) and a detailed memorandum (.pdf) from Brittain Mallow, the head of Gitmo's Criminal Investigation Task Force, that spells out in minute detail exactly which interrogation techniques are legal—something the Bush Administration has generally found itself unable to do. According to Mallow, acceptable methods include prolonged interviews, interrupted sleep (as opposed to deprivation), deception, incentives, and props (think photos, not stoves). Unacceptable methods include threats, promises that cannot be kept, unnecessary discomfort, and sensory deprivation.

There's still some gray area—although the prohibition on "discomfort" includes "any form of physical contact designed to cause physical discomfort," it's not clear whether it extends to physical abuse. Nonetheless, Mallow's specificity is a welcome respite from the legal bobbing and weaving we've come to expect from administration lackeys.

(h/t Glenn Greenwald)

—Casey Miner

Not Quite Ringing

NARAL's endorsement of Barack Obama sounds less than enthused: "Today, we are proud to put our organization's grassroots and political...

| Wed May 14, 2008 4:08 PM EDT

NARAL's endorsement of Barack Obama sounds less than enthused:

"Today, we are proud to put our organization's grassroots and political support behind the pro-choice candidate whom we believe will secure the Democratic nomination and advance to the general election. That candidate is Sen. Obama." — Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America

With NARAL this afternoon and Edwards possibly coming this evening... oh wait, I forgot. The race is already over.

Polar Bears Win Protection

After several months of delays, the polar bear has been declared protected under the Endangered Species Act due to global warming. This is the first time in history that global warming has officially "endangered" an animal, and the great white bear is the first species the Bush administration has put on the endangered list in two years. This is the longest gap between new...

| Wed May 14, 2008 4:01 PM EDT

baby-polar-bear.jpgAfter several months of delays, the polar bear has been declared protected under the Endangered Species Act due to global warming. This is the first time in history that global warming has officially "endangered" an animal, and the great white bear is the first species the Bush administration has put on the endangered list in two years. This is the longest gap between new animals added to the list since the Endangered Species Act was signed into law in 1973 under the Nixon administration.

McCain Recycles His Green Image...From MoJo?

In the past few days, we've seen John McCain turn green faster than David Banner. Just in case this sudden transformation shreds his clothing, he can now suit up in his campaign's new line of "Go Green" merchandise. Items include 70% bamboo polo shirts, organic cotton baseball caps, and a travel mug made from recycled plastic. All feature a new twist on the...

| Wed May 14, 2008 3:25 PM EDT
mccain-CFL.jpg

In the past few days, we've seen John McCain turn green faster than David Banner. Just in case this sudden transformation shreds his clothing, he can now suit up in his campaign's new line of "Go Green" merchandise. Items include 70% bamboo polo shirts, organic cotton baseball caps, and a travel mug made from recycled plastic. All feature a new twist on the militaristic McCain logo—the little star has been replaced with the recycling symbol. That's okay—the symbol is all about reuse, even if it's being used to woo voters who want their trash to biodegrade in less time than it takes to get US troops out of Iraq. But how to explain why the lead image on McCain's climate-change page (top) is oddly reminiscent of the logo from our latest cover (bottom)?

(Tip of the organic hat to Tim Dickinson.)

Contempt in Court

On Friday, White House lawyers filed a motion in civil court, arguing against the House's own filing last month in...

| Wed May 14, 2008 3:18 PM EDT

On Friday, White House lawyers filed a motion in civil court, arguing against the House's own filing last month in its attempt to enforce subpoenas against Josh Bolten and Harriet Miers. As I reported at the time, the White House appears to be arguing that the courts ought to stay out of the fight and let the House use other means of leverage to get the information it seeks from the executive branch.

the Legislative Branch may vindicate its interests without enlisting judicial support: Congress has a variety of other means by which it can exert pressure on the Executive Branch, such as the withholding of consent for Presidential nominations, reducing Executive Branch appropriations, and the exercise of other powers Congress has under the Constitution.

The entire document runs 83 pages. I'll try to get my hands on a copy, to see what other dubious arguments the administration is making.

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Compromise in Michigan Draws Closer

The Obama campaign is now praising a compromise plan created by Michigan's Democratic leaders that would seat the Michigan delegation...

| Wed May 14, 2008 2:23 PM EDT

The Obama campaign is now praising a compromise plan created by Michigan's Democratic leaders that would seat the Michigan delegation with 69 delegates for Clinton and 59 delegates for Obama. The Clinton team objects, seeking a full recognition of the January vote (Clinton took 55 percent of the vote in Michigan, "uncommitted" took 40 percent), but if Obama gets the delegates he needs to become the nominee through the superdelegates and the pledged delegates of the other 48 states, he can seat the delegations however he pleases.

What say you, Florida?

24-Hour Prayer: Good Times in Montana

From the Billings Gazette: Rather than putting up posters and distributing bumper stickers, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill Fischer said he...

| Wed May 14, 2008 2:15 PM EDT

From the Billings Gazette:

Rather than putting up posters and distributing bumper stickers, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill Fischer said he is focusing on prayer.
Fischer, a Lakeside logger and excavator, acknowledged that he and running mate Steve White of Kalispell are running an unconventional campaign.
"We are basically asking people to pray for our state and for our government and that whichever candidates will bring the greatest blessing to Montana and the greatest blessing to God will be the ones that will be elected," Fischer said. "I obviously believe I fit that role, or I wouldn't have run."
...Fischer said he would establish a continuous prayer schedule for Montanans 24 hours a day, seven days a week. People would sign up for time slots and pray for the state regularly.

You can meet the candidate here (he seems like a really, really nice dude!) and learn more about his call to prayer here. Note that this isn't the strangest thing to happen in recent Montanan politics. This is.

Why Clinton Says She's In

We're running a long blog post today titled "Is Clinton Staying In To Say, 'I Told You So'?" None other...

| Wed May 14, 2008 12:20 PM EDT

We're running a long blog post today titled "Is Clinton Staying In To Say, 'I Told You So'?" None other than Hillary Clinton has taken a stab at answering. Not surprisingly, her answer is no.

In an email to supporters titled "Why I'm In," Clinton says:

...let me tell you why I'm still running.
I'm in this race for everyone who needs a champion. For the hardworking families who are losing sleep over gas prices and grocery costs and mortgage payments and medical bills -- but who never lose that American can-do spirit and optimism.
I'm in this race for the more than 16 million people like you who have supported me -- for the people who have put their hearts into winning this race. You never gave up on me, and I'll never give up on you.

Then there's a fundraising pitch, then...

Smart Car Puts Detroit to Shame

For years, Detroit automakers have claimed that they couldn't make cars that get better mileage because those cars just...

| Wed May 14, 2008 11:58 AM EDT

800px-Smart_car.jpg
For years, Detroit automakers have claimed that they couldn't make cars that get better mileage because those cars just wouldn't be safe. And for some reason, people believed them. But here comes the Smart car, the tiny two-person vehicle made by--who else--Germans, which not only gets 33 mpg in the city and 41 on the highway but this week passed new crash tests with flying colors. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports today that the 2008 Smart fortwo won the institute's highest rating for side and front impact tests. The car had already aced government safety testing as well. The car, unlike, say, the Hummer, is selling like hotcakes. Maybe its arrival will finally put rest to the Big Three lies that safe cars can't be fuel efficient.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons