Right-leaning legal group Judicial Watch has filed a new FEC complaint against John McCain alleging that a London fundraiser may have involved illegal in-kind contributions from foreign nationals.
This of course will join the growing list of complaints that will go uninvestigated by the broken FEC. How many of these have to filed until the pressure on Senate Majority Leader Reid and Senate Minority Leader McConnell is so great they are forced to break their gridlock and staff the FEC? Due to a near-complete lack of public concern on the subject, I'm guessing... infinity.
In a NYT article about how Indiana's old fashioned voters may be resistant to Obama's charms — "Frankly, we want it to be like it used to be," says some dude — there is a question that you've heard many times before, in some form or another:
"What are we going to change to?" asked Ron O'Bryan, 58, a retired auto worker who said he was still trying to decide which Democrat to vote for in the May 6 primary.
I've mulled this over a lot, particularly because I've heard it frequently from voters at Hillary Clinton rallies. They're usually on board for change, but they don't know what Obama is promising. With H. Clinton, they usually operate under the assumption that it'll be back to the future — a return to the familiar philosophies and policies of B. Clinton.
First, stop acting like a vitamin-deficient Adlai Stevenson. Striking a pose of being high-minded and too pure will not work. Americans want to see you scrapping and fighting for the job, not in a mean or ugly way but in a forceful and straightforward way.
Hillary may come over as calculating and shifty but she looks in control. You, on the other hand, often come over as weak and ineffectual. In some debates, you do not even look at her when disagreeing with her, making it look as if you are afraid of her. She offers you openings time and again but you do not take advantage of them. Sharpen your attacks and make them more precise.
Stop the attacks. They undermine your claim to a post-partisan new politics. You soared when you seemed above politics, lost altitude when you did what you criticize. Attacks are momentarily satisfying but ultimately corrode your appeal.
I love that major news outlets keep paying Karl Rove for advice that no one is seeking. Oh, and not disclosing that he's an adviser to John McCain, for cripes sake.
Aside from a Wachovia checking account, in which he keeps between $15,000 and $50,000 (wouldn't some of that money earn more interest in a certificate of deposit?), all of the couple's assets are in Cindy's name. John McCain's tax return is so anemic, so marginal to the couple's actual financial situation, that he doesn't even take a deduction for interest on his home mortgage. Presumably Cindy does, since disclosure forms indicate that she has several mortgages.
We don't know for certain whether she does, because the campaign has declined to release Cindy McCain's tax returns. This data gap sets McCain apart from his Democratic opponents, who have released jointly filed tax records going back a minimum of seven years. Thanks to McCain's lack of genuine opposition in recent months, there has been very little clamor to release Cindy McCain's returns, even from those Republicans who loudly insisted that Hillary and Bill Clinton were hiding something in theirs.
On Saturday night, as I was sitting at the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner--Washington's official prom--I had a vision of the future.
This is what I saw: it's decades from now, and historians and others are trying to understand what happened in the first years of the 21st century. That was when the United States government initiated a foolhardy war on the basis of fear and hyped-up threats. It was also a period when the people in charge did not take one of their last chances to deal with the real danger of global warming. And, of course, it was during those years that American leaders hocked the nation to China and the nation's global financial standing diminished. And these historians are asking, "What the hell went on."
Well, look at this old tape, one says, it just might explain. And they huddle over a holographic view-screen and watch as George W. Bush, the president during those years, is conducting the U.S. Marine Corps Band at the 2008 correspondents' dinner. He's mugging for the crowd, as he proceeds. The audience of journalists is laughing.
And when the song is over, Bush (and the band) receives rousing cheers and a standing ovation from the crowd.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has started a new website called fixthefec.org, in order to (1) educate the public about the current situation with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC), which is currently out of order due to a lack of commissioners and will may not serve its traditional role of referee in the 2008 elections, and (2) build public support for a fix and pressure the Senate into acting. For everything — everything! — you need to know about why the FEC is broken, and what its inoperability means for the election season, see my recent article on the subject.
CREW's new website is a badly needed effort, but one that is unlikely to succeed. I say that with a tone of resignation. The FEC is not a sexy topic and no one but good government reformers gets excited about it. Besides, there is no one whose interests are directly affected by the agency's work. This was a point made to me by Robert Lenhard, a former nominee for the FEC who withdrew his name from consideration recently because of the delay in getting the FEC fixed. "This is an agency without a constituency group," he said. "There is no one other than the American people in some sort of broad and abstract sense whose self-interest is advanced by the existence of the FEC. There is no group that comes forward and says, 'No, no, no. This agency's work is essential and must continue.'"
Good luck to the folks at CREW in their fight on this issue. They'll need it.
McCain's troubling foreign policy vision on Iraq/Afghanistan/the war on terror is well-known. But he's just as recklessly hawkish when it comes to the rest of the world. For example, he wants to create a League of Democracies that will replace the United Nations. Here's the always insightful Fareed Zakaria:
The approach lacks any strategic framework.... How would the League of Democracies fight terrorism while excluding countries like Jordan, Morocco, Egypt and Singapore? What would be the gain to the average American to lessen our influence with Saudi Arabia, the central banker of oil, in a world in which we are still crucially dependent on that energy source?
McCain also wants to throw Russia out of the G8, a potentially world-changing move. He would bring in India and Brazil while excluding China. Again, Zakaria:
Greetings from the desert and day three of the Coachella Festival. In tonight's edition: Canadians! Germans! More Canadians! And oh yeah: Flying inflatable pigs that apparently endorse Obama! While I'm doing my best to be the intrepid reporter on the scene, my coverage is devolving day-by-day: crappy photos on day one, late-night spelling errors on day two, and today, I forgot my note-taking pen, so all this is coming out of my sun-baked memory. Perhaps I imagined the whole thing?
Late last week, two senior US intelligence officials and a senior administration official provided background briefings to Congressional committees and the media on what they said was the evidence of North Korean involvement in a covert Syrian nuclear reactor. The facility was destroyed by Israeli air strikes last September, in an operation dubbed "Operation Orchard" that was subject to an Israeli news blackout.
"What we're going to discuss is a nuclear reactor," one senior US intelligence official told (.pdf) the media. "It was constructed by the Syrians in the eastern desert of Syria along the Euphrates River on the east side. The Syrians constructed this reactor for the production of plutonium with the assistance of the North Koreans."
"Our evidence goes back an extended period of time," he continued. "In the spring of last year, we were able to obtain some additional information that made it conclusive. And so, we engaged in this policy process of now that we have the evidence, what do we do about it? The evidence concluded a nuclear reactor, as I mentioned, constructed by the Syrians, started probably in 2001, completed in the summer of 2007. And it was nearing operational capability."