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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

www.NationalView.org's Note From a Madman

June 12, 2008


SCRUTINY Vs. scrutiny

The very first headline on The New York Times website today was, "Obama Aide Quits Under Fire for His Business Ties". The article referred to James A. Johnson, a former chief executive at Fannie Mae who received favorable loans from CountryWide, a mortgage company associated with the current mortgage crisis. Johnson was on the Vice President search team in a similar position that he held with John Kerry in 2004.

The McCain-McBush campaign is gleeful with the prospect that there is trouble in Senator Obama's camp, especially the kind of trouble which portrays any sort of impropriety at all.

“The American people have reason to question the judgment of a candidate who has shown he will only make the right call when under pressure from the news media,”
-McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds

But should the public judge Obama's removal of Johnson as weakness or as someone who will do the right thing? When pressed with similar situations (as in more than one), John McCain has resisted changing those on his campaign with conflicts of interest, and that includes registered, paid lobbyists.

One of those lobbyists was former Texas Senator Phil Gramm, a Republican would-be presidential candidate himself from years past. Gramm, known in some circles as Enron Phil, and his wife Wendy were not only tied to the current banking crisis, with then-Senator Gramm writing and pushing much of the legislation, but also the Enron scandal. Mrs. Gramm was an Enron director.

Lobbyist Gramm, while working for the McCain campaign, was also registered as a lobbyist for UBS, the European Banking concern hit badly by investing in the current mortgage crisis partly orchestrated by none other than Senator Gramm.

McCain calls Gramm, the former chairman of the powerful Senate Banking Committee, one his chief economic advisors. He feels he needs Gramm because the economy is an area which McCain admitted to not knowing much about.

Having Gramm take control of the US economy is like having General George Armstrong Custer, had he survived Little Big Horn, to be his generation's Chief Indian Affairs advisor...

... Or like President Bush naming Dick Cheney to lead his Vice Presidential search team.

Here are just a few more of Senator McCain's advisors with, shall we say, certain conflicts of interest:
-Rick Davis, campaign manager AND co-founded a telecommunications lobbying firm. Among Davis' clients were Verizon and SBC Telecommunications
-Charles R. Black Jr., chief political adviser AND chairman of powerful Washington lobbying firm BKSH and Associates. Their clients include AT&T, Alcoa, JPMorgan, U.S. Airways, General Motors and United Technologies.
-Steve Schmidt and Mark McKinnon, senior advisers AND lobbyists who counted as their clients Land O' Lakes, UST Public Affairs, Dell and Fannie Mae

By the way, that's the same Fannie Mae who the McCain campaign have decried Johnson's association with.

And let's no forget the "former" relationship McCain had with Vicki Iseman, a lobbyist with some questionable personal ties to McCain. McCain's chief advisors actually asked Ms. Iseman to put a little distance between she and the candidate. There are still many questions which remain to be answered about that one.

But the point of the matter is this: When Obama, or any of the other former top Democratic candidates say, do or act in some NeoCon-defined questionable manner, even the "Liberal" New York Times treats it as the main story. McCain's relationships, as news about other GOP officials, are either buried or considered less newsworthy.

From the time Bill Clinton claimed the White House, and, not so coincidentally, since Fox News came on the scene, there has been this double-standard in regards to ethics and scandal. Every infraction, major or minor, by a Republican official is treated seemingly as no big deal. McCain, himself, certainly has had his second chance even before this newest double-standard began: It wasn't that long ago that the Arizona Senator was a ranking member of the Keating Five involving the savings and Loan Scandal of the eighties; a scandal which cost millions of Americans their life savings.

Sounds a bit like the current mortgage crisis and the recent Enron scandals, doesn't it?

Obama's campaign responded to McCain's "question the judgment" statement with a perceptive remark of their own:

“We don’t need any lectures from a campaign that waited 15 months to purge the lobbyists from their staff, and only did so because they said it was a ‘perception problem.’ ”
-Senator Obama's campaign statement

After all, the McCain campaign learned from the best - George Bush.

-Noah Greenberg

In response to, "I would be overjoyed to vote for a woman for president in the future, if she represented my politics and values, but unfortunately Hillary did not," Victoria Brownworth responds:

Then perhaps Ms. Schwartz can vote for Cynthia McKinney in November. She was in Congress for 14 years, and unlike either Clinton or Obama, she voted against the war. She's the candidate for president for the Green Party. Oh and an added bonus--she's also African American and led the battle to impeach Bush-Cheney. Now that Clinton is out of the race, McKinney has gotten my support. After all, she asked for it, while the Obama team is still busy dissing the Clinton supporters.

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-Noah Greenberg