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Watch out Tina– guess you’re not the only one who resembles Sarah Palin. It looks like the VP candidate was all over the country last night– participating in everything from parades, to office parties to trick-or-treating. Take a look at Halloween’s most impressive Sarah Palin costumes.

Gen. Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, the brutal dictator who repressed and reshaped Chile for nearly two decades and became a notorious symbol of human rights abuse and corruption.

Gen. Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, the brutal dictator who repressed and reshaped Chile for nearly two decades and became a notorious symbol of human rights abuse and corruption.

Unclassified doc. detailing meeting took place here pdf.

John McCain, who has harshly criticized the idea of sitting down with dictators without pre-conditions, appears to have done just that. In 1985, McCain traveled to Chile for a friendly meeting with Chile’s military ruler, General Augusto Pinochet, one of the world’s most notorious violators of human rights credited with killing more than 3,000 civilians and jailing tens of thousands of others.

The private meeting between McCain and dictator Pinochet has gone previously un-reported anywhere.

According to a declassified U.S. Embassy cable about the meeting secured by The Huffington Post, McCain described the meeting with Pinochet “as friendly and at times warm, but noted that Pinochet does seem obsessed with the threat of communism.” McCain, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee at the time, made no public or private statements critical of the dictatorship, nor did he meet with members of the democratic opposition, as far as could be determined from a thorough check of U.S. and Chilean newspaper records and interviews with top opposition leaders.

At the time of the meeting, in the late afternoon of December 30, the U.S. Justice Department was seeking the extradition of two close Pinochet associates for an act of terrorism in Washington DC, the 1976 assassination of former ambassador to the US and former Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier. The car bombing on Sheridan Circle in the U.S. capital was widely described at the time as the most egregious act of international terrorism perpetrated on U.S. soil by a foreign power.

McCain’s visit with Pinochet took place at a moment when the Chilean strongman held virtually unrestricted dictatorial power and those involved in public, democratic opposition were exposed to great risk.

At the time of McCain’s meeting with Pinochet, Chile’s democratic opposition was desperately seeking support from democratic leaders around the world in an attempt to pressure Pinochet to allow a return to democracy and force a peaceful end to the dictatorship, already in its 12th year. Other U.S. congressional leaders who visited Chile made public statements against the dictatorship and in support of a return to democracy, at times becoming the target of violent pro-Pinochet demonstrations.

Senator Edward Kennedy arrived only 12 days after McCain in a highly public show of support for democracy. Demonstrators pelted his entourage with eggs and blocked the road from the airport, so that the Senator had to be transported by helicopter to the city, where he met with Catholic church and human rights leaders and large groups of opposition activists.

Mark Schneider, a foreign policy aide and former State Department human rights official who organized Kennedy’s trip, said he had no idea McCain had been there only days before. “It would be very surprising and disappointing if Senator McCain went to Chile to meet with a dictator and did not forcefully demand a return to democracy and then to publicly call for a return to democracy,” Schneider said.

Senator Edward Kennedy arrived only 12 days after McCain in a highly public show of support for democracy. Demonstrators pelted his entourage with eggs and blocked the road from the airport

McCain’s visit with Pinochet took place at a moment when the Chilean strongman held virtually unrestricted dictatorial power and those involved in public, democratic opposition were exposed to great risk.

McCain’s presence in Chile was apparently kept as quiet as possible. He and his wife Cindy arrived December 27 and traveled immediately to the scenic Puyehue area of southern Chile to spend several days as the guest of a prominent Pinochet backer, Marco Cariola, who later was elected senator for the conservative UDI party.

The trip was arranged by Chile’s ambassador to the United States, Hernan Felipe Errazuriz. According to a contemporary government document obtained from Chile, Errazuriz arranged for a special government liaison to help McCain while in Chile for the “strictly private” visit, and described him as “one of the conservative congressmen who is closest to our embassy.”

Errazuriz also arranged the invitation for the McCains to stay at the farm of his wealthy friend, Marco Cariola, according to Cariola, who did not know McCain previously. The McCains spent the three and a half days fishing for salmon and trout and riding horses. The area is one of Chile’s most beautiful tourist attractions, with dozens of crystal clear lakes and rivers surrounded by luxurious estates such as the Cariola farm where the McCains were staying.

On December 30, McCain traveled back to Santiago for a 5 pm meeting with dictator Pinochet, followed by a meeting with Admiral Jose Toribio Merino, a member of the country’s ruling military junta.

Read it all…

Source: HP

McCain we hear is more that partial to a game of craps – but where’s the gambling man’s winnings and losses – accounted for on his tax returns? Is McCain being dishonest? Has McCain acted legally?

Senator John McCain is a gambler. If I’d known that right away I would have immediately seen what was wrong with his tax returns.

I am a tax attorney, so a tax return means more to me than it would to most. I reviewed McCain’s tax returns as a basic check on the candidates. You can look at McCain’s 2006 and 2007 tax returns for yourself. The tax returns are below a lot of verbiage about his charitable activities.

According to a New York Times article of September 27, 2008 “For McCain and Team, a Host of Ties to Gambling,” reported by Jo Becker and Don VanNatta Jr., McCain gambled at the MGM Grand in May 2007.

Apparently McCain is a habitual gambler; he usually plays craps. He even says, “I am a gambling man.”

Gambling has tax implications. According to IRS Publication 17, “Your Federal Income Tax”, 2007 edition, page 89 “Gambling Winnings. You must include your gambling winnings in income on Form 1040, line 21. If you itemize your deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040), you can deduct gambling losses you had during the year, but only up to the amount of your winnings.” In other words, you can’t subtract your losses from your winnings and just not report. You have to report the winnings, and then claim the losses.

But McCain’s tax returns say nothing about gambling winnings or losses.

As a casino gambler, McCain is likely to have lost more than he won. But by not reporting his winnings, the different percentage calculations built into the tax calculation are thrown off, and if he gambled much at all, he has underpaid his tax. The amount of understatement of tax may be minimal, but that’s not the point.

The real purpose of preparing his tax return and omitting the gambling winnings is so that people would not know how much he gambled. If he won $200,000 playing craps in Las Vegas, it would make a difference in the way voters viewed his suitability as a presidential candidate.

There are circumstances under which the tax returns could be correct, such as McCain gambled once in 2007, not at all in 2006, and lost everything the one time he gambled. Such an explanation is unlikely in light of McCain’s alleged long history of gambling.

I think we are looking at tax returns calculated to hide an aspect of the candidate. My 35 years of experience in taxes tells me these tax returns are wrong, and we do not know the true scope of McCain’s gambling or of his potential obligations to gambling enterprises.

Source: HP

There’s evidence that the GOP is doing the same elsewhere: Montana GOP challenges voter eligibility

In an escalation of a dispute between the Democratic and Republican parties over voter suppression, a Michigan G.O.P. official, with the backing of the Michigan Republican Party, has filed a defamation lawsuit against the Michigan Messenger blog. The suit arises from a September 10 story by the Messenger, titled “Lose Your House, Lose Your Vote”, which quoted the official, James Carabelli, about Republican plans to challenge the voting rights of citizens whose homes were in foreclosure. That story drew national attention and became the basis of a lawsuit brought by several Michigan citizens, the Michigan and national Democratic parties, and the Obama campaign, seeking an injunction against the use of foreclosure lists to disenfranchise voters. (Motions in that earlier lawsuit, one by the Democrats to obtain a preliminary injunction and one by the Republicans to dismiss the lawsuit altogether, are scheduled for October 20.)

The new defamation lawsuit, which according to reports has nominally been brought only by Carabelli in his personal capacity, actually appears to have been brought in collaboration with the state Republican Party. When I spoke this afternoon with Carabelli’s attorney, Matt Davis, he politely apologized for not being able to speak with me but said he had been instructed to direct all media inquiries to his “client” and gave me the contact information for Bill Nowling, communications director for the Michigan Republican Party. (My call to Mr. Nowling was not immediately returned.) Similarly, the TPM Muckraker describes Davis as evading the question of whether Carabelli himself, or the G.O.P., is paying his legal bills:

    Matt Davis, the attorney for the plaintiff in the defamation suit filed against the Michigan Messenger was quite talkative about the particulars of the suit when TPMmuckraker called him this morning, but declined to say who was paying his legal fees.
    “I don’t comment on my clients,” Davis said in answer to inquiries about who was employing him, but directed us to the spokesman for the Michigan Republican party for further questions.

Davis has represented Carabelli and the state party jointly in the past. On September 18, The American Lawyer’s Rachel Breitman reported that Davis had issued a letter on behalf of both Carabelli and the Michigan Republican Party demanding a retraction and threatening to sue the Messenger if one was not received within a week. The Messenger declined to retract its story and continues to assert that its reporter accurately recounted her conversation with Carabelli.

The threat of a defamation lawsuit, if not the lawsuit itself, was a fairly predictable countermeasure from the political and public relations perspectives. As noted above, Davis demanded a retraction and threatened suit back on September 18. On Sept. 20, based on national G.O.P. spokesmen’s harsh statements and predictions of an imminent retraction during a press conference call that morning, I predicted the possibility of such a lawsuit actually being filed to pressure the Messenger to recant its story:

    Shorter RNC conference call: kill the Messenger. Watch for a possible defamation suit against the M.M. next week to help make the RNC’s predictions of a retraction come true.

The threatened lawsuit did not materialize the following week, possibly because, on Monday, September 22, the House Judiciary Committee announced plans to hold a hearing on voter enfranchisement issues, including the “lose your house, lose your vote” story. A retaliatory defamation lawsuit against the Messenger probably would have received extensive unfavorable publicity in that hearing, which occurred on Sept. 24. However, now that an emergency financial bill has been signed into law, Congress has adjourned to allow members can engage in election activities.

The defamation lawsuit against the Messenger faces an uphill battle, because the Supreme Court has ruled in several cases that the press has First Amendment protection against such suits unless there is strong evidence of actual intent to inappropriately injure the plaintiff — the so-called “absence of malice” rule. TPM Muckraker’s report that the parties already are battling over whether or not the Messenger is truly a nonprofit organization or is a partisan one suggests that the Republicans may try to prove that the Messenger is not a legitimate media outlet worthy of First Amendment protection. The Republicans also may be hoping that threats to the Messenger’s favorable tax status may pressure it to recant its story.

The escalation of combat over voters’ rights and public opinion is predictable in some ways, as both parties increase their efforts to manipulate the turnouts of their own and each other’s voters on Election Day. The new developments in Michigan, however, are somewhat surprising given yesterday’s decisions by both the McCain campaign and the Republican National Committee to effectively concede the entire state to Democrats and refocus their resources elsewhere. In light of that development, the defamation suit against the Messenger may be an effort to counter negative publicity the “Lose Your House” story received in other states, especially nearby, battleground Ohio; a bargaining chip to pressure Democrats into agreeing to a mutual dismissal of both parties’ lawsuits; or a simple mistake in communication and timing, the defamation suit having been filed just one day before the G.O.P.’s withdrawal from Michigan was announced.

Source: HP