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June 13th, 2008:

“In the White House there is no beer”

You’ve probably heard of this by now:

[A] misreading of the teleprompter led [Sen. John] McCain to sound a little bit more like a teetotaler fraternity president than a presidential candidate. Speaking about his use of the veto pen to eliminate wasteful spending, he declared, “I will veto every single beer, um, bill with earmarks.”

Ever since I heard it, I’ve had this song in my head:

And now you do as well. You’re welcome.

Consider this an open thread, in which you can discuss your favorite beer-themed songs. I’ll open the bidding with this one, since otherwise people will ask me why I didn’t mention it.

Unity watch: Republicans (not) for McCain

You might have heard (via Kos) that Democratic Oklahoma Rep. Dan Boren is not endorsing Sen. Barack Obama for President. Oh, he’ll vote for him, he just won’t endorse. This has gotten no small amount of press.

Meanwhile, there are fourteen sitting Republican members of Congress who aren’t endorsing Sen. John McCain.

At least 14 Republican members of Congress have refused to endorse or publicly support Sen. John McCain for president, and more than a dozen others declined to answer whether they back the Arizona senator.

Many of the recalcitrant GOP members declined to detail their reasons for withholding support, but Rep. John Peterson (R-Pa.) expressed major concerns about McCain’s energy policies and Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) cited the Iraq war.


Republican members who have not endorsed or publicly backed McCain include Sens. Chuck Hagel (Neb.) and Jeff Sessions (Ala.) and Reps. Jones, Peterson, John Doolittle (Calif.), Randy Forbes (Va.), Wayne Gilchrest (Md.), Virgil Goode (Va.), Tim Murphy (Pa.), Ron Paul (Texas), Ted Poe (Texas), Todd Tiahrt (Kan.), Dave Weldon (Fla.) and Frank Wolf (Va.). [Wolf contacted The Hill following publication of the article to correct his staff’s error. His staff had said he has “yet to endorse McCain” and did not return follow-up phone calls this week].

Throughout his career in the House and Senate, McCain has been at odds with his party on a range of issues, including campaign finance reform, earmarks, immigration, healthcare, taxes and energy.

Some Senate Republicans were especially irked with McCain’s role in the “Gang of 14” deal on judicial nominations.

Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), who has been sharply critical of McCain on immigration, told The Hill in February, “I don’t like McCain. I don’t like him at all.”

Tancredo spokesman Mac Zimmerman said Tancredo won’t endorse McCain because he fears the senator would repudiate it like he did with the formal backing of controversial pastor John Hagee.

However, Tancredo told ABC News this week he will reluctantly vote for McCain.

Gilchrest and Hagel, who disagree with McCain’s views on Iraq, have been mum on their endorsements. Kathy Hicks, spokeswoman for Gilchrest, said, “Since he was not reelected to public office, he’s keeping his thoughts private.” Gilchrest lost in a Republican primary earlier this year.

Jones, who has voted repeatedly with Democrats on Iraq, said he can’t back McCain until he gets “a better explanation of the plans for Iraq and more discussion on the economy.” Jones added that no one from McCain’s campaign has reached out to him.

Hagel’s position is pretty well-known, and of course Ron Paul hasn’t given up the fight yet – indeed, he’s planning his own convention in Minnesota even as he finally abandons his Presidential campaign – but there’s a lot of names there I was unaware of. Ted Poe? Jeff Sessions? I’d guess Poe dislikes McCain’s stance on immigration, but still, who knew? Not me, anyway.

Now this may not hurt McCain, in the sense that a little separation from the Republican brand would help him bolster his mavericky image for independents, but that’s still a considerable amount of coolness towards him from his partymates. It’s also pretty remarkable given how long he’s been the nominee. Just more evidence of the enthusiasm gap, I suppose.

By the way, the last Democratic member of Congress from Texas to endorse has done so, as Rep. Nick Lampson has given his official support to Obama. That leaves Robert Strauss as the only holdout, but from the description given there, I expect that will change soon enough.

UPDATE: Evan Smith also wonders about Rep. Poe, and says he’ll call his office to inquire. Good.

Council’s budget wishes

As we know, City Council had its turn with the 2009 budget. The Chron has a look at some of the members’ requests, a few of which we’ve seen before, but I want to focus on this one:

Councilman Mike Sullivan of District E asked for as many fire inspectors are needed to inspect all common attics in apartment buildings across the city each year. This is Sullivan’s first budget season. He presented the most amendments, 15. Among his requests:

  • A next-generation “Jaws of Life” extraction device and a new set of high-intensity, portable rescue lights for each of the city’s 21 fire districts.
  • Installation of water-saving devices in all public restrooms in city-owned buildings.
  • Doubling of annual funding to the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership from $50,000 to $100,000 for the next five years.
  • More officers for Kingwood and Clear Lake police stations.

“Even though I am well-known as a fiscal conservative, I am proud to be working hard for my council district, and to be sure they have the basic city services they are entitled to,” Sullivan said.

I don’t know what the term “fiscal conservative” means to Council Member Sullivan, or to anyone else for that matter, but to me it means basically being prudent with the resources you’ve got to work with. It doesn’t, or at least it shouldn’t, mean being a cheapskate, and it doesn’t, or at least it shouldn’t, mean oppose spending for the sake of opposing spending, especially when such opposition is more Kabuki dance than fiscal policy. To me at least, supporting an appropriate amount of spending on needed services, and recognizing when that means more spending is needed due to population growth, cost increases, or just the need to do more, is perfectly in line with the concept of “fiscal conservatism”. It also means recognizing that sometimes it’s better to fund multiple priorities rather than force a choice between equally worthy options. The flip side to that, of course, is that one must also support an appropriate level of taxation to pay for those services, and that includes the recognition that sometimes taxes need to go up, since there’s nothing particularly prudent or conservative about needlessly running up deficits.

Your mileage may vary, as may Council Member Sullivan’s, but that’s how I see it. Sometimes the tough yet prudent choice is to find a way to pay for more rather than to hold fast to some arbitrary limit. This is all a longwinded way of saying that I find no conflict between Sullivan’s remarks and his actions. You’re not always going to be in a position to ask for more, of course, but doing so when it makes sense to do so is nothing to apologize for.

Van Gundy disputes Donaghy

Indicted former referee Tim Donaghy’s claim that the NBA told him and other refs to influence the outcome of some playoff games was met with skepticism by former Rockets head coach Jeff Van Gundy.

Van Gundy was fined a record $100,000 in 2005 for saying he was told by an NBA executive the complaints of Dallas owner Mark Cuban had led to extra scrutiny on Yao in Games 3 and 4 of that series and for refusing to reveal the source of his information.

Cuban said at the time he had demonstrated nine examples of illegal screens set by Yao and Dikembe Mutombo in the series’ first two games. Yao was called for a crucial offensive foul for an illegal screen late in Game 4 of that series, won by the Mavericks in seven games.

Donaghy’s attorney cited that scrutiny of Yao as an example of the NBA’s manipulating the results of a playoff series to increase revenue, a conclusion Van Gundy disputed.

“I don’t think for an instant games were manipulated to extend the series or for financial reasons,” Van Gundy said. “I told the truth then, so to me this has no impact. I certainly don’t want to give any credibility to Tim Donaghy, because he lost his credibility the moment he started sharing inside information about the NBA game with people who could profit from it.”


“Let’s face it, how I went about it, that wasn’t the right thing,” Van Gundy said. “But I don’t regret for an instant … not sharing who told me. I still won’t do it today.

“Dallas had every right to voice complaints to the league office. Every team does that. To me, what a better system would be, if you get complaints and you look into complaints, for the league to immediately contact the team complained about and tell them what the complaint was and whether it was right or wrong.

“To me, the transparency of the process could be much greater so both teams know the outcome of their decision about whatever plays were in question.

“I believe (the fine) was unjust then, and I believe it was unjust now.”

Van Gundy is now a TV analyst for NBA games, and may well want to coach again some day, so if one were conspiratorially-minded, one could note that he has nothing to gain and much to lose by agreeing with Donaghy. Even still, I see no reason to doubt his sincerity. Donaghy isn’t credible, and it’s just hard to imagine that such a conspiracy could have been kept secret for this long. Unless someone less compromised comes forward to corroborate Donaghy’s story, I don’t think it’s going anywhere.

As it happens, not only is no one stepping forward to agree with Donaghy, more people are disputing his story.

NBA referee Bob Delaney, one of three referees to work Game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference finals, told Bob Ley in an interview for ESPN’s “Outside The Lines First Report” that he has never been contacted by NBA or federal investigators concerning allegations by former referee Tim Donaghy that two referees in that game intended to assure that series went seven games.

Delaney, a highly-decorated former New Jersey State trooper, said: “This is not the first time a known or convicted criminal has lied about me before the judicial system. I have an extensive law enforcement background and still train police officers. I have dealt with criminals and informants, and I know full well they are capable of doing and saying anything. I cannot comment any further without permission from the NBA.”


On Wednesday, [then-Sacramento Kings forwward Scot] Pollard dismissed the idea of a conspiracy among referees because it’s too big a secret to keep for this long. And he portrayed Donaghy as a criminal willing to say anything to save himself.

“For a guy that wasn’t at that game, didn’t ref that game, to come out and say that, and in the situation he’s in, I guess you could kind of say you could equate that to Charles Manson saying something about the Boston Strangler,” Pollard said. “He’s in the business, but he doesn’t really have a lot of credibility. He wasn’t there.”

Lamell McMorris, head of the NBA referees union, also questioned Donaghy’s motivation and credibility.

“Tim Donaghy has had honesty and credibility issues from the get-go,” McMorris said in a prepared statement. “He is a convicted felon who has not yet been sentenced for the criminal conduct he has already admitted to. He may be willing to say anything to help his cause and he may believe these most recent allegations will help his agenda. I’m not aware of any improper conduct by any current NBA referee in the playoffs six years ago or any conspiracy by the NBA to affect the outcome of any game then or now. Frankly we’re tired of Tim Donaghy’s cat and mouse games.”

I figure this story will blow over in a couple of days, though it will never really go away. As King Kaufman said, it’s just plausible enough to make people think it could be true, and that’s a real problem for the NBA. I hope they do more than just point out that Donaghy is a fraud.

DeLay versus DeLay

I still don’t know why it is that anything Tom DeLay says would be considered newsworthy, but given that he’s going to get quoted, he’s at least doing us all the favor of being amusing.

Tom DeLay will vote for John McCain but the former House Republican leader said his wife, Christine, is planning to vote for Libertarian presidential nominee Bob Barr.

“I’m trying to convince my wife not to do that,” the Texas Republican told editors and reporters at The Washington Times on Friday. “She said it publicly yesterday.”

Poor Tom. Even his wife doesn’t listen to him any more. See what happens when the supply of lobbyist-funded golf junkets gets cut off? Link via Juanita and Texas Politics.