The Revenge of John McCain.

John McCain Was elected to Congress in 1982 and elected to the Senate in 1986 taking the seat previously held by Barry Goldwater. In 1989, he was involved in the “Keating Five Scandal.

The five senators—Alan Cranston (Democrat of California), Dennis DeConcini (Democrat of Arizona), John Glenn (Democrat of Ohio), John McCain (Republican of Arizona), and Donald W. Riegle, Jr. (Democrat of Michigan)—were accused of improperly intervening in 1987 on behalf of Charles H. Keating, Jr., Chairman of the Lincoln Savings and Loan Association, which was the target of a regulatory investigation by the Federal Home Loan Bank Board (FHLBB). The FHLBB subsequently backed off taking action against Lincoln.

The late 1980s were the era of the Savings and Loan scandals.

The Federal Home Loan Bank Act of 1932 created the S&L system to promote homeownership for the working class. The S&Ls paid lower-than-average interest rates on deposits. In return, they offered lower-than-average mortgage rates. S&Ls couldn’t lend money for commercial real estate, business expansion, or education. They didn’t even provide checking accounts.

In 1934, Congress created the FSLIC to insure the S&L deposits. It provided the same protection that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation does for commercial banks. By 1980, the FSLIC insured 4,000 S&Ls with total assets of $604 billion. State-sponsored insurance programs insured 590 S&Ls with assets of $12.2 billion.

Inflation in the late 1970s and early 1980s led to pressure on Savings and Loan institutions that had been lending money at 6% to home buyers but savers were demanding higher interest rates to compensate for inflation. The S&Ls were caught in the “Borrow high and Lend low” vise that led to their demise.

My review of Nicole Gelinas’ book on the 2008 economic crisis includes some discussion of the 1986 problems.

The story of the 2008 collapse begins in 1984 with the rescue of the Continental Illinois Bank. Here began the “too big to fail” story. Two things happened here that led to the crisis. One was the decision to bail out all depositors, including those whose deposits exceeded the FDIC maximum. Secondly, the FDIC guaranteed the bond holders, as well. Thus began the problem of moral hazard. Another feature of this story was the role of Penn Square Bank, which had gone under two years earlier in the wake of the oil price collapse, which devastated many of its poorly collateralized loans in the oil industry. Both banks had been caught seeking higher returns through risky investments. Penn Square, however, had been allowed to collapse. Continental was rescued and that began a trend that the author lays out in detail through most of the rest of the book.

The 1986 crisis and the 1989 scandal affected McCain deeply. He was a freshman Senator and was probably included in the group for two reasons. First he was the only Republican and Second, Keating, a Phoenix developer, was a constituent. McCain was humiliated and his ego was as big as all outdoors.

His reaction to his humiliation was once of the worst pieces of legislation in the 20th century, The McCain-Feingold Act.

In 1995, Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Russ Feingold (D-WI) jointly published an op-ed calling for campaign finance reform, and began working on their own bill. In 1998, the Senate voted on the bill, but the bill failed to meet the 60 vote threshold to defeat a filibuster. All 45 Senate Democrats and 6 Senate Republicans voted to invoke cloture, but the remaining 49 Republicans voted against invoking cloture. This effectively killed the bill for the remainder of the 105th Congress.

McCain, still in his “Maverick mode and still running on ego, persisted.

McCain’s 2000 campaign for president and a series of scandals (including the Enron scandal) brought the issue of campaign finance to the fore of public consciousness in 2001. McCain and Feingold pushed the bill in the Senate, while Chris Shays (R-CT) and Marty Meehan (D-MA) led the effort to pass the bill in the House. In just the second successful use of the discharge petition since the 1980s, a mixture of Democrats and Republicans defied Speaker Dennis Hastert and passed a campaign finance reform bill. The House approved the bill with a 240–189 vote, sending the bill to the Senate. The bill passed the Senate in a 60–40 vote, the bare minimum required to overcome the filibuster. Throughout the Congressional battle on the bill, President Bush declined to take a strong position, but Bush signed the law in March 2002 after it cleared both houses of Congress.

The results have been disastrous. Congressmen have spent most of their time “dialing for dollars,” as fundraising is referred to and staff members write legislation. The result is monster bills, like Obamacare and Dodd-Frank, that have devastated the economy and destroyed healthcare in this country. Now another consequence is developing. Congress members are quitting.

Only once since 1930 has the number of voluntary departures been higher than it was this cycle. Members choosing to walk away from the legislative branch include eight Republican committee chairs, as well as House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), who became the second speaker in a row to voluntarily give up the gavel of the most powerful position in the House.

Interviews with more than half a dozen departing members and some recently retired members revealed three major drivers behind the surge of retirements: a legislative process dominated by party leaders, the constant pressure to raise money, and political dysfunction plaguing Congress from top to bottom. The picture painted by these departing Republicans and Democrats lays bare a disturbing reality: Congress is fast becoming a place that repels, rather than attracts, public servants who want to get things done.

Committee chairs are expected to raise more money even than regular members.

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), who was first elected to Congress in 2012, has said that party leaders’ efforts to get him to pay his dues went so far as reminders being “stuffed in my pocket during votes” on the House floor.

Asked what happens when member don’t pay their party dues, retiring Rep. Jimmy Duncan (R-TN) bluntly said “You don’t get these chairmanships.”

Outgoing Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), likewise, acknowledged fundraising frustrations and even joked, “My mom had taught me not to talk a lot about myself and never ask strangers for money, and then, that’s all I’ve done for the last ten years.”

Many soon-to-be retirees also look forward to walking away from the hostile culture that pervades Capitol Hill.

The recent decision by the Supreme Court on “Citizens United vs FEC has brought the issue into focus.

The United States Supreme Court held (5–4) on January 21, 2010, that the free speech clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution prohibits the government from restricting independent expenditures for communications by nonprofit corporations, for-profit corporations, labor unions, and other associations.

In the case, the conservative non-profit organization Citizens United sought to air a film critical of Hillary Clinton and to advertise the film during television broadcasts shortly before the 2008 Democratic primary election in which Clinton was running for U.S. President.

Outrage by Democrats followed and Obama even berated the Supreme Court majority during his State of the Union speech.

On January 27, 2010, Obama further condemned the decision during the 2010 State of the Union Address, stating that, “Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests – including foreign corporations – to spend without limit in our elections.

The statement about “foreign corporations” is a lie. He should know better since his campaign in 2008 disabled credit card verification to allow foreign donations, which are illegal.

Ultimately, John McCain did what he could in person to get revenge on the voters when he killed Obamacare repeal with his vote in the Senate in spite of his promise in the 2016 campaign to vote for repeal.

19 thoughts on “The Revenge of John McCain.”

  1. Many soon-to-be retirees also look forward to walking away from the hostile culture that pervades Capitol Hill

    This is the main reason the GOP lost control of the House. 45 Republican representatives quit or ran for some other office. That’s twice as many as usual. Very odd for the party holding the White House.

  2. 1. The GOPe has sandbagged and sabotaged Trump at every chance. All these retirements were clearly a part of that.
    2. Term limits are massively popular and Trump should push for them.

  3. Deceased McCain was not the sharpest tool in the box. He reveled in his self-appointed “Maverick” role, licking the boots of the Left Wing media and sticking it to the Republicans every chance he got. And then, when he ran for President, lo & behold that same Left Wing media turned against him in the nastiest ways, even including digging up rumors of long-ago affairs. Once the media had helped ensure McCain’s defeat, that foolish man went right back to licking media boots. Obviously, he had serious learning disabilities.

    But while I have no time for McCain, and regret only that I will not be there a hundred years from now to read the balanced historical reviews excoriating him, we can’t blame him. Voters in Arizona repeatedly re-elected this charlatan, including “Republican” voters in primary elections. Majorities of other elected politicians voted in favor of the destructive bills he promoted. Despite the taint of corruption and arrogance around him, millions of our fellow citizens cast votes for him to be President.

    We The People have not done our part. We have allowed the limited government of the Constitution to become an overwhelmingly intrusive entity, sticking its incompetent fingers into every aspect of everyone’s life. The only remaining question is whether that government is dysfunctional or corrupt — recognizing those may not be mutually exclusive. It would be foolish of us who have been derelict in the duties of citizenship to expect that the unbalanced McCains who claw their way to the top of the governmental slippery pole are then going to reform the system — and deny themselves the benefits for which they sold their souls. The only way this comes to a halt is by a collapse of the system — which those idiot politicians are hastening through their excessive borrowing & spending, money printing, and economy-destroying regulations. Yes, a lot of people will suffer when the incompetence of the Political Class causes that collapse — but the people have always had to pay for the mistakes of their leaders.

    Somewhere in the novel “Dr. Zhivago”, there was a comment about the need to keep the spark of life alive during the trauma of the revolution. The human race will survive the coming collapse of “democracy” across the West, just as our ancestors survived plagues, wars, and economic catastrophes in the past. Since reform is so unlikely, we should focus on making sure our descendants learn the lessons from our failed experiment in self-government.

  4. The human race will survive the coming collapse of “democracy” across the West,

    I just started reading the first of the Kurt Schlichter novels, People’s Republic. He has also written the non-fiction, “Militant Normals” which I have read.

    There are now three books in the series about Kelly Webb, the guy who infiltrates “The People’s Republic,” which California.

  5. regret only that I will not be there a hundred years from now to read the balanced historical reviews excoriating him

    No need to have any regrets. It is unlikely that in 100 years anybody will remember McCain except in foot notes.

  6. CFR- never would’ve been passed if George Bush had vetoed it.
    Let it be on his head.

    As for the Republican retirements. I think many of these R’s expected a divided Government with Hillary as POTUS.

    As long as Hillary/Obama was POTUS, they could spend all their time cutting deals, dividing up the pork, and being the fake opposition.

    And then the worst thing ever happened, the Republicans got control of all three branches. And suddenly, the Conservative base expected them to work and fulfill their promises.

    Whoops. Too much work. So adios Congress.

  7. And then the worst thing ever happened, the Republicans got control of all three branches. And suddenly, the Conservative base expected them to work and fulfill their promises.

    Yup, as Carlson says in that speech, the voters finally realized they had been voting for these guys for years and nothing they wanted ever happened.

    Trump isn’t even a conservative but he has been selling things for decades. He knows about customers.

    Unlike Dick’s Sporting Goods, for example.

  8. Trump is holding the White House and doing all those things that the GOP has been promising for 35 years. We can’t have that.

    Cognitive dissonance results.

  9. I watched that Tucker Carlson speech, and it was great. I can sympathize with his point about not living near any like-minded voters. It used to be all Republican up here where I live. The head of the state GOP a decade or so ago lived in our village. However, that’s all over now. Our district voted 2 to 1 for Hillary in 2016. We saw those lawn signs all over our neighborhood after the election, ‘Hate Doesn’t Live Here’ (LOL). I just tell myself, the few true believers who will carry the torch are always in the remnant.

  10. We went on a home tour a year ago in Tucson n ear the university. The homes are old and many are gorgeous.

    Of course, many are occupied by faculty and the “Black Lives Matter” signs were there next to houses that probably sold for $500k, a lot in Tucson.

  11. Why don’t they just use “WOKE” signs to cover all their bases? This would be their new security service sign. I prefer mine, “We don’t call 911”.


  12. I’ve several ‘crazy eddie’ proposals:

    Non-succession. A candidate may be elected to an office any number of times, but cannot have the same office twice in a row.

    Limited fundraising. Restrict fund raising to potential voters (that is, the candidate’s own district). [This would not limit advertising by independents.]

    One-at-a-time. You may not run for any office while holding an office. Resign ‘n’ run.

    The root problem, however, is that votes barely count. The voters whisper at election time, for the rest of the candidate’s term, money shouts. And when the votes are counted, the voters succumb to lies and manipulation*, vote for short-sighted false solutions… must I go on?

    * find me someone, anyone across the political spectrum who argues our enlightened electorate chooses wise stewards of our liberties.

    CSPAN many years ago cablecast a meeting of political advisors. A senator was up against a tough opponent. The opponent claimed the incumbent promised one thing, did another, and had never represent his constituents’ wishes. And on camera while being recorded, the advisor said, ‘what could we do—it was true.’ He then came up with a brilliant ad that made it appear the opponent was selected in a smoke-filled room by anonymous billionaires. The senator won that term and many terms thereafter. And that’s how the sausage is made.

  13. I favor the disqualification of former Senators from the Presidency. You would think the disasters of the few such in the 20th century and the long odds would allow them to tend to their own knitting. Instead, every one spends more time testing the waters and avoiding taking any possibly objectionable position as if it was some sort of inevitable succession.

  14. My impression is Congress can’t place any eligibility restrictions on federal offices. That would require amending the constitution. Which is probably worth the effort, if we could come up with a reasonable set of things that people would agree on. People hate hate hate Congress, after all. The GOP should take the lead on this, Trump especially.
    But one thing they could do is stop meeting in DC. Make representatives live in their own districts, surrounded by their constituents, instead of around sycophants and crooks.

  15. i> find me someone, anyone across the political spectrum who argues our enlightened electorate chooses wise stewards of our liberties.

    I would suggest we try but, in my own experience with local politics, the candidate, once elected, makes new friends and ignores the voters who elected him/her.

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