McCain Gets A Not-So-Friendly Welcome To Atlanta

On one side of Peachtree Center Avenue, members of Georgia's organized labor community held up "Teamsters for Obama" signs and picketed in front of the Mariott Marquis hotel chanting, "Bush, McCain, Same Thing." On the other side of the street, anti-war protestors, armed with bullhorns, led several cadences of "McCain says warfare, we say healthcare."

There's no word if John McCain saw or heard any of the demonstrations against his Atlanta visit today but nevertheless, the several dozen protestors gathered downtown this afternoon intended to express their dissent at a John McCain presidency.

Among those in attendance at the protest were state Democratic Party Chair Jane Kidd and state Sen. David Adelman (D - Atlanta) who used John McCain's visit to highlight his ties to controversial Republican Ralph Reed.

"We are here today on the streets of Atlanta with real Georgians who are struggling and need our support. Later today, inside this fancy hotel, John McCain will be meeting with Jack Abramoff's colleague Ralph Reed and other lobbyists to hear about their clients," Kidd said at a press conference directly across the street from most of the protestors.

"Instead of meeting with Georgians and hearing from us about what we need from our country, John McCain has chosen to talk only with people who are giving him thousands of dollars."

In recent days, Ralph Reed and his connections to disgraced Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff have been the target of criticisms from Democrats after the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that he had agreed to serve on McCain's "Victory 2008" fundraising team.  Associated Press reports say that "Reed's public relations firm...received $4.2 million from Abramoff to mobilize Christian voters to fight the opening of casinos that could compete with Abramoff's Indian tribe clients." [Source:  Associated Press, "McCain nets $1.75 million at Reed-linked event", August 18, 2008]

Also, according to the AP, John McCain raised over a million dollars at the "Ralph Reed-linked" event.

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McCain Steaming Ahead with Abramoff-Linked Fundraiser

Over the weekend I noted the news that John MCCain was the willing recipient of an upcoming fundraiser to be held by Ralph Reed, who was once one of Jack Abramoff's closest friends and allies in politics. The establishment press has by and large given McCain a pass on the issue, but at least a few newspapers continue to keep track of the story. Here's The Hill's Susan Crabtree writing under the headline, "McCain ignoring calls to cancel controversial fundraiser":

Republican presidential candidate John McCain so far is ignoring calls from several watchdog groups to cancel an Atlanta fundraiser promoted by Ralph Reed, a longtime friend and business partner of imprisoned lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Public Citizen, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), and Campaign Money Watch are urging the Arizona senator to cancel plans for the Aug. 18 fundraiser at the Marriott Marquis in downtown Atlanta and remove Reed from McCain's Victory 2008 Team.

Reed lost his 2006 campaign for Georgia lieutenant governor in large part because of details about his relationship with Abramoff -- much of the information uncovered by McCain's Indian Affairs Committee investigation into the wide-ranging lobbying corruption scandal.

The Senate probe discovered $4 million in payments Reed accepted to run a bogus anti-casino campaign aimed at reducing gambling competition. An Indian tribe with a competing casino made payments to Reed, which according to the Senate investigation's final report, were "passed through" Abramoff's firm, Preston, Gates, Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds, and another organization, Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform.

The Wall Street Journal, MSNBC's First Read, and others are also watching this story, but all of them seem to miss the broader point. The frame in which most of the Beltway press is viewing this story is of the shock -- shock! -- that McCain would be willing to accept money from Reed after having gallantly led an investigation into Reed's relationship with Abramoff.

However, to anyone who has taken a serious look at McCain's career -- Keating 5 and all -- this story comes as no surprise. McCain has a long and rich history of demagoguing for the press on reform issues, only to play games on campaign finance himself. It's hard to think of another previous presidential campaign having been so infested with lobbyists, for instance. McCain's gamesmanship of the public financing program, opting in before unilaterally opting out, comes to mind as well. No, this is no aberration -- it's a clear pattern of behavior by McCain, playing the establishment media (who for some reason continue to enjoy being duped by McCain time and time again) to cynically convince the American people that he is a reformer when in fact he is one of the worst examples of special interest, lobbyist-driven Beltway politics around. You'd figure that at some point reporters would figure this game out, but perhaps that's too much to ask for.

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McCain to Accept More Abramoff-Linked Dollars

John McCain's presidential campaign must be more cash-strapped than previously believed. Certainly it was an embarrassment to attempt to raise expectations last month -- that McCain's haul would match or at least come close to matching that of Barack Obama -- only to have Obama bring in more than twice as much as McCain. But this news only compounds the perception that McCain is in desperate need of money -- even cash linked to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Here's The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on an upcoming McCain fundraiser to be held by one of Abramoff's best friends in politics.

If you read this space, you knew this was coming. But even now that the odd-couple alliance between Ralph Reed and John McCain is complete, you still can't believe that it's true.

On Thursday afternoon, Republicans around Georgia received an invitation from Reed, who will serve as a host of a "special event" for McCain at the downtown Marriot Marquis on Aug. 18.

"John McCain believes in a strong national defense, a smaller, more accountable government, steady economic growth and opportunity, the dignity of life and traditional values," wrote Reed, whose 2006 campaign for lieutenant governor sank under the weight of evidence detailing his relationship with Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff -- much of it uncovered by McCain's Indian Affairs Committee.

For those unfamiliar with Reed, here are a couple of the choice articles on his close ties with Abramoff. In short, Reed, who had maintained a close relationship for more than two decades with Abramoff by the time the now-disgraced lobbyist's improprieties became fully public, was a key beneficiary of Abramoff's largesse -- as well as a key to the success of Abramoff's efforts.

Interesting, then, that McCain would accept the fundraising help of Reed for his presidential campaign. Interesting, that is, until you remember that McCain's list of major supporters already includes names with Abramoff ties; interesting until you realize that McCain withheld a controversial Abramoff email while heading a Senate investigation into the lobbyist's activities. With all of this in mind, it becomes clear that this is not an aberration, this is not an accident -- it marks a pattern of behavior by McCain, one of demagoguing on the issue of reform while at the same time being willing to embrace some of the more tainted names in politics today.

Do I expect the establishment media to report on the fact that McCain is accepting Abramoff-linked dollars (outside of a blog post on a large, though regional, newspaper)? Given that this story doesn't really fit into the meme that many inside the Beltway have grabbed a hold of with regards to McCain, no, not really. But there is a story out there, and it's one that's well worth being told -- that McCain is no reformer, but instead is one of the worst practitioners of the type of special interest, lobbyist funded politics that the American people hates.

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Obama, Antichrist.

There's an ad thats either released and airing now or soon to air that compares Barack Obama to the Antichrist

As the ad begins, the words "It should be known that in 2008 the world shall be blessed. They will call him The One" flash across the screen. The Antichrist of the Left Behind books is a charismatic young political leader named Nicolae Carpathia who founds The One World religion (slogan: "We are God") and promises to heal the world after a time of deep division. One of several Obama clips in the ad features the senator saying, "A nation healed, a world repaired. We are the ones that we've been waiting for."

The visual images in the ad, which Davis says has been viewed even more than the McCain's "Celeb" ad linking Obama to the likes of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, also seem to evoke the cover art of several Left Behind books. But they're not the cartoonish images of clouds parting and shining light upon Obama that might be expected in an ad spoofing him as a messiah. Instead, the screen displays a sinister orange light surrounded by darkness and later the faint image of a staircase leading up to heaven

Instead of going on, I was wondering what you thought of all of this. Ok. Actually I'm laughing so hard its getting hard to finish the post, so please finish this one for me...

 What's up with this one?!

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What Rights Do We Have?

The Constitution is a living document. It is also our most precious historical document. All that America is and all that it will be is grounded in this document. But regardless of how precious it is there comes times when it must be amended to reflect the progress made in a more modern world.

We should interpret the Constitution as it fits our world today, but we must not take it to extremes. I would suggest that for abortion, gay marriage and gay rights, that there should be amendments. But as to privacy, we should let the Supreme Court hash it out and then we can rely on precedents. I believe that this mixing of the two would make this the living document that our founding fathers wanted it to be.

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