Monday, October 6, 2008

More on McCain's Friends; Does He Really Want to Play Guilt By Association?

Yesterday, I wrote about the McCain campaign's decision to stop talking about issues and start trying to smear Sen. Obama by attacking Sen. Obama with guilt through association. Apparently, I'm not the only blogger out there who has recognized that this is not a fight Sen. McCain really wants to get into given his own associations. And, as I've been reading other blogs and articles today, I realized that I omitted several key "associates" of Sen. McCain who should have been included. So, picking up where I left off yesterday:

Sen. McCain has some really lovely people who have endorsed him. For example, Rev. John Hagee whose support Sen. McCain was "proud of" at least until it started to generate criticism. And why did Rev. Hagee's support cause criticism? Well, let's see. How 'bout Rev. Hagee's assertion that the Catholic Church is a "great whore" or that Nazis were acting as agents of God to drive Jews out of Europe to Palestine or that Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans because of the amount of sin in that city. Take a look at the this timeline of Sen. McCain's courtship of and relationship with Rev. Hagee.

Sen. McCain also actively sought the support of Rev. Ron Parsley. According to ABC News (relying in part of an article from Mother Jones), during a campaign event earlier this year, Sen. McCain introduced Rev. Parsley as "one of the truly great leaders in America, a moral compass, a spiritual guide." What does that moral compass have to say? Let's take a look:
  • "Islam is an anti-Christ religion that intends through violence to conquer the world"
  • "America was founded with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed"
  • Muhammad "received revelations from demons and not from the true God" and "Allah was a demon spirit"
  • He has has compared Planned Parenthood to Nazis
  • He has called for prosecution of people who commit adultery (oops, that would include Sen. McCain, wouldn't it...)

Of course, Rev. Hagee and Rev. Parsley will be immediately compared to Barack Obama's former pastor Jeremiah Wright. The difference is that Sen. Obama quickly came out and repudiated Rev. Wright's statements and, in an emotional speech, talked about his relationship with Rev. Wright while forcefully denouncing Rev. Wright's opinions.

Sen. McCain did not speak out against Rev. Parsley or seek to distance himself from Rev. Parlsey or his views for several months after accepting Rev. Parsley's endorsement. Only when ABC broadcast some of Rev. Parsley's sermons on Good Morning America did Sen. McCain finally back away. Similarly, Sen. McCain sought out Rev. Hagee's endorsement and didn't end the relationship until media scrutiny and pressure became intense.

So, Sen. Obama may have his Rev. Wright, but Sen. McCain has both Rev. Hagee and Rev. Parsley. Either one may cancel out Rev. Wright, but that still leaves Sen. McCain in the "plus column". Unfortunately for Sen. McCain, we're not done.

How about this headline from The Huffington Post: "McCain Backer's Firm Pleaded Guilty To Funding Terrorist Group In Colombia". Yep, you read that right.

The co-host of a recent top-dollar fundraiser for Sen. John McCain oversaw the payment of roughly $1.7 million to a Colombian paramilitary group that is today designated a terrorist organization by the United States.

Carl H. Lindner Jr., the billionaire Cincinnati businessman, was CEO of Chiquita Brands International from 1984 to 2001, and remained on the company's board of directors until May 2002. Beginning under his tenure, Chiquita executives paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (known by the Spanish acronym AUC), which is described by George Washington University's National Security Archive as an "illegal right-wing anti-guerrilla group tied to many of the country's most notorious civilian massacres."

Following a Justice Department indictment last year, Chiquita admitted to illegally funding the paramilitaries and agreed to pay a $25 million fine. Chiquita's payments to the AUC began in 1997 and lasted seven years; roughly half of the funds came after the group was designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. State Department in 2001.

According to the Justice Department, the payments "were reviewed and approved by senior executives" of Chiquita, who knew by no later than September 2000 "that the AUC was a violent, paramilitary organization."

Late last week, Lindner co-hosted a $25,000-per-person fundraiser for McCain and the Republican Party in the wealthy Indian Hills neighborhood of Cincinnati, Ohio. The event raised about $2 million; Lindner also serves on McCain's Ohio Victory Team.

Let's go back to the comparison method used yesterday: Vietnam-era domestic terrorist who planted small bombs in a few buildings and who now works for charitable foundations and who had a "meet and greet" for Sen. Obama in 1995 vs. the former CEO of a major transnational corporation that gave $1.7 million to a group identified as a terrorist group and who hosted a $2 million dollar fundraiser for Sen. McCain and serves on a McCain campaign committee.

Finally, in yesterday's post, I did mention Charles Keating and the Keating 5. Well, the Obama campaign has released a video documentary to remind people of what the entire scandal was about and Sen. McCain's role (interesting that the 13 minute documentary was released just one day after the McCain campaign attacked Sen. Obama with guilt by association; you don't suppose the Obama campaign had that documentary "in the can" and ready for release at the right moment do you?). Take a few minutes to watch "Keating Economics":

Sen. McCain has taken exception to this documentary and following its release has today started (for the first time) to claim that the ethics investigation into his involvement with Charles Keating and Lincoln Savings and Loan was political smear job. Never mind that in his autobiography, Sen. McCain stated that:

I made the worst mistake of my life by attending two meetings, the first with the chairman of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, the government agency charged with regulating the practices of the nation’s savings and loans, and a week later with four bank examiners based in San Francisco who were at that time investigating the investment and lending practices of Lincoln Savings and Loan of Irvine, California, owned by my good friend and generous supporter Charles Keating.

And ignore Sen. McCain's statement from last year:

I was judged eventually, after three years, of using, quote, poor judgment, and I agree with that assessment.

Interesting. He recognized it as the "worst mistake of his life" and agreed with the assessment that he used "poor judgment" but only until someone used that mistake and his judgment against him in a political campaign (and isn't this campaign supposed to be about judgment?). Then, and only then, it became a "smear job". I just love straight talk from Sen. McCain. And I really love the company that he keeps.

I'll repeat the question I asked yesterday: Does the McCain campaign really want to play the game of "guilt by association"?


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