Categories
Election 2008 McCain Politics Scandal-mongering

The Crimes Behind Cindy McCain’s Fortune

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[Photo courtesy of PaisleyPitbull licensed under Creative Commons.]

Cindy McCain – who was among the first people in the country to question Michelle Obama’s patriotism after Michelle’s poorly phrased comments in Wisconsin early this year – is now incredibly offended by Barack Obama’s suggestion that it is her husband’s fabulous wealth and opulent lifestyle that has made him less sensitive to the vast majority of Americans with only one home whose incomes have fallen despite the economy’s growth under the Bush administration. No – she apparently wants Obama to come up with another reason to explain away her husband’s doubling down on the economic policies of the Bush administration and calling for massive tax cuts for the biggest companies and the richest individuals while cutting taxes far less than Barack Obama would for 90% of Americans.1

To counter the suggestions that her fortune left her and John McCain out of touch, she defended her family’s fortune:

My father had nothing. He and my mother sold everything they had to raise $10,000. I’m proud of what my dad and my mother did and what they built and left me.  And I intend to carry their legacy as long as I can.
(Added after watching the complete interview): My father is the American dream!

She really makes it sound like there must be an inspiring story behind how James Hensley’s net worth went from $10,000.00 to over $200,000,000.00. It brings to mind Richard O’Connor, who, in writing how the oil barons created their vast fortunes, paraphrased the great storyteller Balzac:

Behind every great fortune, there is a great crime.

The corollary would be that behind a large fortune is a decent amount of crime.

The story of Cindy McCain’s father, James Hensley, begins when he ditched his first wife for a younger woman after returning from World War II a hero (Sound familiar?). He got involved with a character named Kemper Marley who is variously described as a rancher, a businessman, a murder suspect, and a top figure in organized crime in Arizona. While working for Marley, James Hensley and his brother were convicted of the felony offenses of concealing black market liquor sales and conspiracy. Later Cindy’s father was charged with falsifying records to evade taxes – although these charges were dismissed, no doubt due to the diligent work of one of Arizona’s top defense lawyers, William Rehnquist.

After getting through these legal difficulties in the early 1950s, the brothers Hensley bought a horse track – with several mobsters as silent partners. Cindy’s father, though, was yearning for a measure of respectability, and sold his stake in the track in the mid-1950s. Luckily for James Hensley, he got out just a few months before a statewide scandal focused on the track, making life difficult for his brother and all of the other owners. Hensley’s brother continued at the track and eventually was sent to prison in the late 1960s after he sold his portion of the track to Marley and a mob-connected front.

Meanwhile, Cindy’s father had decided to start a beer distributorship:

According to the official founding myth, Jim launched his own beer distributorship, Hensley & Company, in 1955, with the help of a $10,000 loan. (Unaccounted for is how a cash-strapped ex-convict would have secured the exclusive right to distribute Budweiser in Phoenix.) The distributorship became Hensley’s first step in a long march to respectability.

By most accounts, Cindy’s father worked hard to make his distributorship a success. And as Arizona began to grow in the sixties boom with millions of people moving to the southwest, Hensley’s beer distributorship grew with it – leading to the fortune now estimated in the hundreds of millions which financed John McCain’s start in politics and the McCain’s opulent lifestyle.

To wrap up this story, Cindy McCain says her father had nothing; and through hard work, his fortune is now worth hundreds of millions. But untold is that this fortune is based on gambling and liquor, mobsters and political connections, working hard and cutting corners, and always staying one step ahead of scandal and conviction. Because of his crimes, his connections and his hard work, he was able to provide Cindy McCain with a life of luxury. When the young Cindy wrecked her Porsche, her father bought her a Mercedes Benz. When she became a teacher and was criticized for driving a car that was too flashy, her father bought her a second car to drive to school. And of course, Cindy can’t imagine, even now, how anyone can get around Arizona without a private plane.

It’s easy to see how someone who has led the life that Cindy McCain has can believe that a little bit of hard work will get you a few hundred million – and how someone who’s father bought her a second car to keep the other teachers from making fun of her luxury car could fail to sympathize with the average American having trouble paying all of their bills. It’s not impossible for someone living such an opulent lifestyle to understand and advocate for the middle class and the poor – look at Franklin Delano Roosevelt – but if you are instead are insisting on economic policies that benefit the richest individuals and the biggest corporations – it’s hard not to see a connection.

It’s a bit rich2 of Cindy McCain to defend herself and her husband by invoking how hard her father worked for his fortune. And it’s yet another demonstration of how “in touch” she is with the concerns of most Americans.

N.B. This post was written in the midst of an obviously contentious election campaign – one in which I had strongly considered supporting Senator John McCain – as I’ve detailed elsewhere – but after careful evaluation, had come to the conclusion that Barack Obama was the only candidate suited to our current challenges. While I stand by the content of the post, in retrospect, the tone is a bit overheated. I don’t especially care where her fortune came from. The Kennedy fortune is widely rumored to have come from similarly shady sources – and I don’t hold it against them. But in the context of a campaign in which Obama’s every contact with a questionable individual was the subject of advertisements and smears by the McCain campaign, I found it astounding that this rather close contact with unsavory characters was mentioned in passing but not explored.

  1. Would she prefer Obama infer actual malice, placing ideology above country, or class warfare to explain away McCain’s insistence on screwing the middle class? []
  2. Referring to the 4th and 5th defintiions in the link. []
Categories
Election 2008 McCain Obama Politics Videos

Patriotism as a Weapon

From the Jed Report.

Change is coming November 4, 2008.

Categories
Election 2008 McCain Obama Politics

Cindy McCain’s Country Club Patriotism

[digg-reddit-me]As a general rule, I don’t think a candidate’s spouse should be a large factor in choosing a president. Most candidates ask that the media not target their wives directly for ad hominem attacks. Of course, the Republican attack machine constantly attacked and vilified Hillary Clinton and Teresa Heinz-Kerry, and now is doing the same for Michelle Obama. (I’m not sure I can think of a similar example of a Republican First Lady or potential First Lady who was attacked with the same viciousness or by anyone in the mainstream liberal movement. ) But the obvious double standard is not the point of this piece; the point is that Cindy McCain keeps injecting herself into the campaign with ad hominem attacks on Michelle Obama.

The first instance of this from back in February, in my judgment, could be forgiven – understood as a kind of knee-jerk or emotional response to Michelle Obama’s remarks. Michelle Obama mis-spoke and Cindy McCain immediately painted her as lacking patriotism:

Cindy McCain told the crowd I “am proud of my country. I don’t know about you, if you heard those words earlier — I am very proud of my country.”

I think Ms. McCain’s remarks on that occasion should be condemned, but that she as an individual could be given a pass – as her remarks followed so quickly upon Ms. Obama’s.  They could be forgiven as a kind of mis-speaking similar to Michelle’s.

However, Ms. McCain’s remarks yesterday – many months after her earlier comments – repeat the same point again – which makes this attack on the Obamas’ patriotism seem to be part of some greater plan.  Cindy McCain again trumpets her own patriotism and muses about how:

Everyone has their own experience. I don’t know why she said what she said, all I know is that I have always been proud of my country.

Clearly, she is suggesting that Michelle Obama may not love or be proud of America; but she is doing so indirectly.  She is speaking in the way of those who self-consciously consider themselves to be “upper-class” – making her point by indirection and by omission.  I don’t think I’m someone who is overly conscious of class – at least conscious of class in the American setting in which I’ve been raised.  But this comment by Cindy McCain struck me as a perfect encapsulation of a common sort of “country club patriotism” – a mix of cattiness, entitlement, and a disdain for those “lesser”.  As an heiress to many millions, Ms. McCain (along with Mr.) is among the class of super-rich – and she has been her entire life.  Insulated from many of the challenges of the majority of Americans, she brags about loving the country in which she has always been one of the elite few.  I would think even the most ungenerous individual would have some appreciation for the country that had given them as much as America has given Cindy McCain.

Michelle Obama, on the other hand, a descendant of slaves, was born poor but worked hard and assisted by affirmative action programs and through her own skill and determination, achieved a large measure of independent success.  Yet she too has spoken eloquently about loving her country – a country that enabled her to achieve what she has despite the poverty in which she was born.  This love of country that is informed by an intimate understanding of the harsher aspects of America is harder to understand and harder to convey than the Country Club Patriotism of those of whom America has given a great deal and demanded very little.

There is an aphorism about the rich man who was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple.  This sense of both accomplishment and entitlement are exactly what sets apart Country Club Patriotism from the run-of-the-mill Fourth of July and Apple Pie Patriotism and the traditionally liberal Critical Patriotism.

Cindy McCain’s comments are unbefitting a potential First Lady (or a potential President for that matter.)  For her to have brought this up several times is outrageous.  If Mr. McCain wants his wife to be spared the mud that will be inevitably flung about as these battle over who will succeed Mr. Bush, he should counsel his wife to try to refrain from slinging mud herself.

Categories
Election 2008 Humor Obama The War on Terrorism Videos

Dunkin Donuts: The Coffee of Jihadists

[digg-reddit-me]Rachel Ray was outed as a terrorist sympathizer and Dunkin Donuts was declared the official coffee of Al Qaeda1 as Michelle Malkin, super-heroine extraordinaire, protected Americans from the jihadist message hidden within a recent Dunkin Donut commercial.

We should all be thankful that Malkin is out there, patrolling our culture, and protecting us from this filth.

Thanks to Malkin’s heroically supersensitive ability to be extremely offended (and to get other people to follow her2 ), Dunkin Donuts has finally renounced terrorism and removed this ad from circulation.

Some liberal pansies may ask when a scarf is just a scarf.  But what these liberals don’t get is that patriotism is not a function of “loving” one’s country; patriotism is not about wanting to make America a better place; and patriotism is certainly not about “independence.”  And treason does not include things like deceiving a nation to start a war of choice, or looting the government treasury, or allowing our sworn enemy to determine our foreign policy3

What patriots like Michelle Malkin get is that patriotism and treason are not about intentions and actions, but about style.  I know Michelle Malkin is a patriot because she is always on the lookout for traitors (who all happen to be Democrats.)  She also talks about patriotism a lot, and I’m sure she wears a flag pin all the time (even though I could find a picture of her wearing one for this article.)  Rachel Ray is obviously a jihadist because she wore a scarf that looks kind of like a traditional Arab headdress.  That’s also how you can tell that Arabs hate America – because so many of them wear these keffiyehs.

That’s why everyone can see how ridiculous it is that presidential candidate (and super-secret Muslim) Barack Obama considers himself a patriot.  He said he stopped wearing flag pins because people used them as substitutes for “true patriotism.”  What he doesn’t get is that patriotism is only about the fashion statements.

And as for those jihadists at Dunkin Donuts who claimed to not know what a keffiyeh was, Malkin has a ready-made response:

Ignorance is no longer an excuse. In post-9/11 America, vigilance must never go out of style.

We should all be thankful that Dunkin Donuts had the courage to back down after the threats of boycotting spooked it’s fearless leader.  And we should all be thankful that we live in a glorious liberal democracy where such bullying is possible.  What better way is there to use our freedoms than to boycott those who wear items of clothing that resemble items of clothing from other nations?

Some may call such fashion-policing xenophobic neo-McCarthyism.  But Malkin knows it is true patriotism.

  1. Munchkins were declared an essential part of the ideal pre-suicide bombing meal. []
  2. Or is it “sheeple”? []
  3. Oddly, as awful as all of these are, none of them necessarily fit the bill of “disloyalty to one’s nation.” []