Category Archives: Rove

What’s Really Behind the DoJ Politicization: Creating a Theocracy

On both sides of the political aisle now, you hear the same dumb question: “What’s wrong with putting religion into government?” This has to be in the Top Ten List of the Stoopidest Questions of All Time. It may be Number 1.

The argument, such as it is, goes that one’s faith, as expressed by religion, makes one a better, more humane, more thoughtful, more generous, more forgiving, etc etc etc person who will bring those fine qualities to govt where they will do some good. In the eyes of many people, having politicians and govt officials bring their religion into a central decision-making role can only be positive. Even moderates and centrists initially supported Bush’s program to ladle out govt contracts – and therefore public tax money – to faith-based organizations for any number of social functions, from rehabilitating criminals to combatting teen pregnancy. What harm could it do? they wondered.

The problem here is that virtually all religious folk see their faith as exclusively positive. In theory, that’s true of almost all religions – they all preach brotherhood, tolerance, respect, charity, and peace – but in practice, any institutionalized religion can be turned into an instrument of intolerance, meanness, sanctomonius arrogance, and/or authoritarian rigidity, any one of which characteristics can – and usually does – devolve fairly quickly into a warlike antipathy toward infidels and unbelievers.

The framers of the Constitution knew this, even though they were religious themselves (sort of – they were primarily Enlightenment Deists, which is kind of a religion and kind of not a religion). They had reason to: they had seen what happened to Britain when the monarchy allied itself with the CofE to create a state-sponsored, state-enforced religion. Wisely, they wanted no part of it, thus the Establishment Clause.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

The Establishment Clause has been interpreted by various Supreme Court decisions as forbidding the US govt from actively supporting a single religion or denomination, thus separating religion from law. In his letter to the Baptist Church of Danbury, CT, Jefferson (then President) explained:

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.

To make a long story short, the letter was written in response to a concern expressed by the leadership of the Danbury Baptist Church that “in their state, the religious liberties they enjoyed were not seen as immutable rights, but as privileges granted by the legislature – as ‘favors granted.'” At the time there was a movement by so-called “Establishment Religionists” to declare a state religion in Connecticut – an early attempt at legalizing a theocracy at the state level. The Baptists were worried because theirs wasn’t the religion that would be picked – that honor would go to the Congregationalists – and they were afraid that it would be outlawed.

As, indeed, it might well have been if the Connecticut legislature had gone along with the Establishmentarians, but it didn’t. The movement never gained much political traction and died out in only a few years, but the Baptists were right to be concerned. They were a distinct minority in Congregationalist New England, and the establishment of a state religion would make them criminals, subject to fines and possibly either jail or banishment from the state. Certainly their form of worship would be banned at the very least. Worse, laws could be passed demanding their adherence to practices they considered to be forbidden by their faith.

And therein lies the connection between Jefferson’s famous phrase and the supporting cast of the US Attorney controversy now raging.

Continue reading

The Toad in the Triad: Cheney, Rove, and Norquist

Rove and Cheney

It took investigations and subpoenas and basically being hit over the head with a brick but it would seem that at long last the MSM is catching on to the way the Bush White House actually works: through Karl Rove and Dick Cheney. Between them, they’ve gamed the entire system, Rove domestically and Cheney and his Neocon Wonder Boys in foreign policy. The Libby trial pretty much outed Cheney as Bush’s Organ Grinder, and the Gonzo 8 Scandal is doing likewise, finally, for Rove. This editorial from yesterday’s NYT is typical.

Turn over a scandal in Washington these days and the chances are you’ll find Karl Rove. His tracks are everywhere: whether it’s helping to purge United States attorneys, coaching bureaucrats on how to spend taxpayers’ money to promote Republican candidates, hijacking the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives for partisan politics, or helping to organize a hit on the character of one of the first people to publicly reveal the twisting of intelligence reports on Iraq.

Whatever the immediate objective, Mr. Rove seems focused on one overarching goal: creating a permanent Republican majority, even if that means politicizing every aspect of the White House and subverting the governmental functions of the executive branch. This is not the Clinton administration’s permanent campaign. The Clinton people had difficulty distinguishing between the spin cycle of a campaign and the tone of governing. That seems quaint compared with the Bush administration’s far more menacing failure to distinguish the Republican Party from the government, or the state itself.

This was, perhaps, the inevitable result of taking the chief operative of a presidential campaign, one famous for his scorched-earth style, and ensconcing him in the White House — not in a political role, but as a key player in the formation of policy. Mr. Rove never had to submit to Senate confirmation hearings. Yet, from the very start, photographs of cabinet meetings showed him in the background, keeping an enforcer’s eye on the proceedings. After his re-election in 2004, President Bush formally put Mr. Rove in charge of all domestic policy.

(emphasis added)

Which meant not just politicizing every area of govt but selling it off to the highest bidders and making sure members in good standing of the corporatocracy were running the agencies that were supposed to prevent them from ripping us off or killing us. The results have been predictably disastrous for the country but an undeniable boon for the US oligarchy.

From the very beginning, Rove’s overarching aim was to create a one-party government strikingly similar to Soviet-era Russia in which the Republicans controlled everything forever and all the goodies flowed to them and their constituency. He damn near pulled it off thanks to a frightened Democratic party beholden to pretty much the same interests and a lazy press that liked its job handed to it on a silver platter and fawned over power-brokers like Rove for the sake of its career.

Much of the deep-seated dysfunction of our national press is the result of the fact that many of our national journalistic elite simply do not believe in the real purpose of political journalism. But it is also true that even the more earnest and well-intentioned ones are enmeshed in a culture that produces dysfunctional, deeply biased and corrupt journalism, and it will just naturally be very difficult, perhaps close to impossible, for those who are such a vital part of that culture — and whose careers depend upon thriving within it — to view its operating principles as anything other than normal, proper and even honorable, even when they are anything but.

OK, we know all that. It’s been beat to death the last few months after years of being ignored. So now we know Cheney and Rove have been running an invisible govt behind a figurehead Prez whose main job until now has been to look good in photo ops, and that Cheney’s function was to implement the neocon PNAC’s plan to turn America into an empire and Rove’s function was creating a Soviet-style one-party state. Can we quit now?

No, not quite yet. You see, there’s one dot left to connect. Continue reading

Libby, Doan, and Sampson: Systemic Firewalls?

The key to understanding Kyle Sampson’s testimony yesterday is this:

For all the nonsense being written in the MSM about his “dramatic” appearance contradicting – or “challenging” as the WaPo’s Dan Egger has it – Gonzo’s pathetic attempt to pretend he knew nothing about all this attorney-firing business, the plain fact is that Sampson gave the Committee absolutely nothing it didn’t already have. Every opportunity he had to expand the Committee’s knowledge about the process – who said what, when they said it, who they said it to, etc – Sampson rejected with the litany we have come to know so well from all the Bushies:

“I don’t know.”

“I can’t remember.”

“It wasn’t my job.”

Dana Milbank is much closer to the truth of it when he points out:

Sampson seemed content to fall on his sword rather than naming names when he was questioned about the prosecutor mess. Only the red felt on the witness table concealed the blood. “I could have and should have helped to prevent this,” Sampson offered. “I let the attorney general and the department down. . . . I failed to organize a more effective response. . . . It was a failure on my part. . . . I will hold myself responsible. . . . I wish we could do it all over again.”

The witness fessed up to an expanding list of sins. He admitted that the Justice Department was trying to circumvent the Senate confirmation process. He confessed that he proposed firing Patrick Fitzgerald, the prosecutor in the Valerie Plame leak case. “I regretted it,” he explained. “I knew that it was the wrong thing to do.”

But this blood-letting was severely confined, a pin-prick rather than a deep incision. Continue reading

The GSA and Rove’s Politicization of Our Govt

The politicization of almost every agency of the federal govt during Bush’s administration as shown currently in both the matter of the US Attorneys who were fired and the political meeting attended – illegally – and participated in – illegally – by GSA Administrator and GOP hack Lurita Doan, along with the multi-layered levels of corruption and corporate purchasing of virtually every said agency, and adding in the comprehensive Bushian policy of putting foxes in charge of every govt henhouse, ought to give us pause to consider in depth what all that politicization was about.

I’m not just talking about the obvious reasons: the Rove/Norquist/Cheney determination to make the US a one-party nation, or Rove’s intention to use govt workers as campaign “volunteers” in much the same way that a mayor might get the fire dept to paint his house on the city dime, or the opportunities to make an illegal buck that it seems virtually every Republican office-holder – including the aforementioned Doan, apparently – jumped at without a moment’s hesitation the instant it was presented to them. I’m talking about something deeper, and the Doan business is the pointer.

Continue reading

McCain Denounces Republican Ad

The anti-Kerry ad Karl Rove rolled out this week is one of the most shameful tricks they’ve ever pulled, right up there with the smear campaigns against Max Cleland and McCain himself, and he’s not having any.

WASHINGTON — Republican Sen. John McCain, a former prisoner of war in Vietnam, called an ad criticizing John Kerry’s military service “dishonest and dishonorable” and urged the White House on Thursday to condemn it.”It was the same kind of deal that was pulled on me,” McCain said in an interview, comparing the anti-Kerry ad to tactics in his bitter Republican primary fight with President Bush in 2000.

The 60-second ad features Vietnam veterans who accuse the Democratic presidential nominee of lying about his record as a decorated Vietnam War veteran and betraying his fellow veterans by later opposing the conflict.

The ad, scheduled to air in a few markets in Ohio, West Virginia and Wisconsin, was produced by Stevens, Reed, Curcio and Potham, the same team that produced McCain’s ads in 2000.”I wish they hadn’t done it,” McCain said of his former advisers. “I don’t know if they knew all the facts.”

Asked if the White House knew about the ad or helped find financing for it, McCain said, “I hope not, but I don’t know. But I think the Bush campaign should specifically condemn the ad.”

“I deplore this kind of politics,” McCain said. “I think the ad is dishonest and dishonorable. As it is, none of these individuals served on the boat [Kerry] commanded. Many of his crew have testified to his courage under fire. I think John Kerry served honorably in Vietnam. I think George Bush served honorably in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War.”

Yeah, well, one out of two ain’t bad.

Dumping the Legislative Branch

As usual, California leads the way. In what may be a harbinger of the next radical Republican assault on governing, Ted Costa–you may remember him as the guy that started the recall of Gray Davis after the Enron-engineered rape of CA’s finances that ended by putting yet another Republican movie star in the Gov’s chair–has announced a new petition drive, this one aimed at making CA’s full-time legislature into a 90-day/year rubber stamp.

Costa called it a cost-saving measure, but said his goal is for lawmakers to spend more time in their districts and cut back on the time they “rub elbows with the special interests” in Sacramento.To qualify for the next election, in March 2006, Costa’s petition drive would need to present about 600,000 signatures of registered voters to the secretary of state.

Independent of Costas, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has said he would call for a special election to let voters decide whether the Legislature should be part time.

Schwarzenegger’s popularity drew attention to the idea, and as opponent Sen. Don Perata (D-Oakland) said, “Ted Costa jumped up and said, ‘I’ll lead that parade.’ ”

To finance a statewide petition drive, Costa would need financial backing, said Bruce Cain, director of the Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley.

“He’s going to need a sugar daddy, and the question is, will somebody come forward?” Cain said. During the drive to recall Davis, Costa received financial support from U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), a wealthy car-alarm maker.

Assembly Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) said his fellow lawmakers introduce too many bills, do not spend enough time on policy and that he would be “willing to restructure Sacramento and put California first.”

The Legislature was part time for 116 years, but voters converted it to full time in 1966.

Trimming back the legislative branch, with Democratic majorities now in both houses, would shift more power to the executive branch and to Republicans, policy experts say.

“It’s an attractive, populist proposal that does not get to the roots of the governance problems in California,” said Elizabeth Garrett, a policy expert at USC.

“What you’re asking is for people to govern the sixth-largest economy in the world in a part-time manner. It doesn’t solve problems, it exacerbates them.”

You gotta give these Publican wingnuts credit for thinking outside the box: if misguided and foolish people insist on voting to put Democrats in the state legislature instead of staunch Republicans, eliminate the legislature or, if you can’t do that, make it a powerless joke.

I don’t live in CA, so I’m not personally concerned with any political whackiness in which they might indulge themselves. I would like to think that Californians are smart enough to turn back this latest bad idea for making their Gov a Dictator (which is what the proposal would amount to) and send Costa packing this time for their own sake, but there’s not much I can do about it.

What does bother me is how well this fits into the radcon strategy to take over governance in this country using whatever tricks come to hand. Costa and Darrell Issa, the rich, Republican (I know, a redundancy) used-car dealer who paid over $$1M for the Davis recall, used the blunt corporate thievery of Enron and several other Texas-based energy corporations to lever Ahnud into the Gov’s Mansion. In Texas and Colorado, Pubs used their probably temporary legislative majorities to draw crazy-quilt districts assuring that they would maintain their power. All of August, Karl Rove is running ads featuring cowboy W running the US govt from his ‘ranch’ as if the Congress were an unwelcome and unnecesssary inconvenience.

The moves are being made to get us used to the idea that only the executive branch is required for govt to function, especially if the legislative branch has Democrats in it. If legislatures will not voluntarily become executive rubber stamps, then, they say, get rid of them. What do we need them for?

We need to understand that this is not new: Republicans have been running for govt positions by attacking govt for 25 years. They insist that it’s wasteful, useless, corrupt, and a bottleneck that just gets in the way. Since 9/11 they have ramped up those criticisms, demanding blind and instant obedience to anything Junior wants and attacking anyone who continues to act as if this is a democracy by crying ‘Traitor!’ and accusing them of being ‘objectively pro-terrorist’. In that sense, Costa’s (and Schwartzenegger’s) new initiative is simply the next logical step: if they can’t control the legislatures, they’ll eliminate them. Simple.

But here’s the problem: I may not live in CA and maybe you don’t either, but if this latest anti-democratic move by the Pubs succeeds there, we will likely be seeing it replicated elsewhere, maybe in our own home states.

BA Uses Fab Friday to Dump On 9/11CR Rec’s

In what has become a tradition over the last few years, the Bush Admin normally saves its most unpopular statements for release after 3pm on Friday when no one is paying any attention. Karl Rove has proved, without question, that democracy doesn’t operate between 3pm Friday and 7am Monday because US citizens stop caring about it between 3pm Friday and 7am Monday. Friday afternoon press releases are reserved for announcing the BA’s most fascist, least popular, and most undemocratic initiatives, policies, and statements of intent because they will be completely ignored by citizens vacationing from their citizenship, and by Monday everyone has moved on to something else.

eRobin has pointed out that Rove isn’t the genius a lot of people claim he is, and she’s right. He’s not. What he is is a crafty political animal with low cunning, a bagful of sleezy tricks he isn’t afraid to use, and no illusions about Americans’ real attitudes toward their patriotism and responsibilities of citizenship. He knows that we like our patriotism to come without the pain of too much thought and our citizenship duties restricted to watching network tv news, preferably with the sound off. We don’t want to spend more than an hour a day on it; we want it pre-digested and fed to us with a spoon; and above all, in a complex world where nothing is what it appears to be, allies on one issue are enemies on others, and all the truth is in the nuances, we don’t want to hear, read, or be forced to learn anything that can’t be summarized in a 5-sec soundbite because we can’t handle nuance. We’re afraid of gray areas; we tremble before anything that has more than one level of meaning and believe that if something isn’t simple to understand it’s probably a trick; we prefer to deny uncomfortable realities rather than face up to difficult solutions, and the illusions of a ‘morning in America’ to the warnings of dark clouds on the horizon; we’d rather trust our leaders than keep an eye on them because the first we can do from our barcalounger and the second might require movement unrelated to a gym or a snowboard. We prefer war to peace if peace would be confusing. And we prefer being to afraid to facing our fears–we want somebody else to do that for us.

Nothing about this is particularly much less exclusively American. It’s human, it’s the way we operate and have for centuries. We are neither uniquely ignorant nor ingenious in our willful blindness. We are simply better able to allow ourselves to indulge in both as a result of our riches: we don’t have to deal with reality if we don’t want to; we can turn on the tv and watch other humans we can look down on swallow cockroaches and cheat on their lovers. We don’t have to work 7 days a week because four guys got hanged in Haymarket Square to win the 40-hr work week for us. We have a Consitution to protect our domestic liberty and oceans on both sides to protect us from foreign invasion. We’ve been extraordinarily lucky in both our geography and our progenitors because they did all the work for us and we can have our weekends off.

Which explains Fab Friday. Rove’s view of us is the view I’ve just expressed. It’s who he thinks–knows–we are, or would prefer to be. He panders to it, strokes it, encourages it every chance he gets, and one of his favorite tricks is to drop his bombshells just as we have dropped our attention as citizens to focus on the only two days we have in which we get to act like ordinary humans.

Which is why I find it so disturbing that he would save the announcement of the BA’s disagreement with the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission for a Friday afternoon.

WASHINGTON — The Bush administration warned Friday that the two central reforms proposed by the Sept. 11 commission — creating a powerful intelligence chief and establishing a new counterterrorism center — may remove barriers protecting intelligence from political influence and undermine civil liberties.The president and his senior advisors are drafting initial orders on some of the commission’s recommendations that could be issued as soon as next week. But action on the centerpiece reforms deserves more consideration, a senior White House official said.

“We need to, in considering each of these recommendations, place a premium and real attention on how to protect civil liberties while better safeguarding our homeland,” the official said.

Similar concerns were expressed by senators Friday during the first congressional hearing on the Sept. 11 commission’s recommendations. The question of how to protect the independence of the intelligence community has become perhaps the most difficult dilemma for policymakers who are otherwise eager to embrace reform.

Many questions arise from the waves like a school of dolphins: Why would an Administration that for three years has been assiduous about gathering every possible power it can to itself suddenly refuse one? Why would an administration previously contemptuous of anyone else’s privacy while obsessing over its own suddenly be concerned about protecting ours at its own expense? And if it’s an election-year ploy, why announce it on Fab Friday when they know it will be ignored?

Part of my discomfort no doubt comes from the painful discovery that I actually agree with them. My experience over the past 3 1/2 years of the BA has been that when I approve some decision they’ve made, either I’m wrong or they’re lying. Usually it turns out they had a plan to twist that seemingly intelligent and citizen-friendly decision into a pretzel that makes it its own opposite, and I’m wary of that but I don’t see how it applies here. The 9/11CR plops power right into their waiting laps, and even Kerry is stumping hard for it. Why would they reject it? It codifies and encapsulates in law–potentially–exactly what they’ve been roundly criticized for doing: politicizing intelligence. Why turn away from the very development that would legitimize what has been illegitimate up to now? The possibility that they’re genuinely concerned about citizen rights is laughable given the PATRIOT Act and all their other blithe intrusions on civil liberties, so I dismiss that out of hand. What other reasons could there be? A few come to mind.

1) Rove wants to take the opportunity for Junior to act ‘presidential’ by appearing to ‘think it over’ and ‘have doubts’–BA spinmeisters are already out there making a big deal about how Bush is ‘reading the whole report all the way through; he will finish it’ (NPR), apparently unaware that their breathless surprise at his uncharacteristic behaviour is showing–over something there is no real danger will not be passed with or without him.

2) He wants to set Junior’s reluctance smack up against Kerry’s unvarnished enthusiasm, making Kerry look like a callow opportunist and Junior like a seasoned statesman by comparison, cautious and thoughtful–traits noticeably lacking in Shrub’s palette over the past 3 years.

3) He wants the Pubs to be able to disclaim responsibility down the line when the re-organization blows up in everybody’s face.

4) He thinks Junior might lose the election and doesn’t want that kind of power put into Democratic hands.

But the first two are positive for him and don’t explain why he would do it on Fab Friday, and the second two are exercises in projecting farther into the future than the next election–a skill conspicuous by its absence from Karl’s portfolio.

In fact everything about this announcement is uncharacteristic of Rove, Bush, and the whole BA. It doesn’t fit with anything else they’ve done since the day they took office. So what the hell is going on?

Karl-Baby’s Drilling Holes in His Own Boat

I may have mentioned this before but one of the things we’ve got going for us is that Rove (or ‘Karl-Baby’, as I like to call him) isn’t used to fighting a losing battle and doesn’t really know how it’s done. Unlike Clinton’s people, who were good enough not only to keep him from getting impeached by a radcon Congress out for blood but re-elected despite it, Rove/Hughes/Bartlett&Co would appear to be total novices when it comes to the necessity for facing facts people believe rather than manipulating that belief so they don’t have to. It’s a corporate-style strategy (deny and change the subject/deny and hit the day’s talking point endlessly endlessly endlessly), and they cling to it even though consultants keep trying to tell them it doesn’t work and ends up making them look even worse than they did.

They’re trying it with the Abu Ghraib issue–

“Look, obviously events and the coverage and what’s reported are going to have an effect on how people see the direction of the country,” said Matthew Dowd, the chief strategist for Bush-Cheney ’04. “In the last two months or three months, there hasn’t been a wealth of positive news. It was bound to have an effect, and we expected that.”But Mr. Dowd said that changing Mr. Bush’s tone on the campaign trail was not an option. So with some modifications, Mr. Bush is following the script he and his chief political adviser, Karl Rove, drafted as the prisoner scandal emerged: He repeats his disgust with the abuses, then turns the subject immediately back to his broader goals in the war on terrorism, merging it with the action in Iraq. He did so again on Thursday in a West Virginia school gymnasium.

–and it’s flying about as high as a lead balloon.

The polls out this week found Mr. Bush, by some measures, at the lowest point of his presidency. Only 46 percent of Americans told the Gallup Poll they approved of the way Mr. Bush was handling his job, and a majority, 51 percent, said they disapproved. Other polls had similar results. A poll by the Pew Research Center found that 44 percent of Americans approved of the president’s handling of his job and 48 percent disapproved.

I wrote a post not long ago that questioned why Kerry wasn’t getting an equivalent bounce from Junior’s nose-dive. I couldn’t find it just now, but this week I read that an independent pollster had explained it by saying that ‘people were too busy re-evaluating this president to focus on what they think of Kerry.’ There may be some truth in that.

In any case, let’s hope they stick with it. It’s working…for us.

How The Cult of Personality Works

Though he doesn’t seem to realize that Propaganda Minister Karl Rove is behind it all, the NY Times‘ Bush Campaign reporter, Jim Rutenberg, does a pretty good job of describing how Karl manipulates and maintains the Bush Personality Cult.

First, you book your man only into places already friendly to him, places where tv cameras are guaranteed a welcome of streaming, screaming crowds lined up for blocks in every direction to photograph for the evening news, places like military bases–although Karl has been doing less of that than formerly since the Iraq war turned nasty. The military isn’t quite the friendly place it used to be, so Karl sent Junior instead to Dubuque, Iowa, the Reddest city in one of the Reddest of states.

Second, you book him into those of the already-friendly venues that haven’t had a visit of such magnitude in some time.

News directors and editors said they were wise to what the campaign was trying to accomplish, drawing positive press in a market likely to be wowed by the rare presence of a president. But, several said in interviews, that they had few choices but to cover his visit as an event.”How often do you get a president of the United States not only in your state but in your backyard?” said Becky Lutgen Gardner, news director of KCRG-TV.

Brian Cooper, the executive editor of the Telegraph Herald, the major newspaper in town, said of Mr. Bush, “There are a lot of people who disagree with his policies and still think it’s pretty neat we’ve got him coming to town.”

Third, you “facilitate” the visuals.

Tears were flowing on “Live With Regis & Kelly” on Friday as a woman was introduced to the man whose life her dead son’s heart had saved.But the emotional moment was abruptly halted on Channel 9 here by breaking news. It was not for Donald H. Rumsfeld’s Congressional appearance (that would come later) or the severe storms brewing to the southwest.

It was, rather, for Air Force One’s approach, which the news camera followed as if it was that of the space shuttle.

“You can see a smooth landing at the Dubuque Regional Airport,” the anchorman, Scott Sanborn, said in a slightly hushed tone. “There is a lot of anticipation in Dubuque for the president’s visit today.”

That was putting it mildly. On local television and radio and in the main newspaper here, Mr. Bush’s stop in this Mississippi River town, part of his three-day bus tour, has scored blanket coverage for days, much of it downright giddy.

Karl releases the President’s flight plan to the local media (just as NASA does with the Shuttle; how else would they know where to put their cameras?), probably suggesting the best angles for the lenses, angles where the plane will appear most impressively majestic and otherworldly. Why shoot pictures of the President’s plane? In the movies you do it to provide context; it’s the same here. Karl is looking to awaken a sense of “Our Great Leader is coming! Coming to us! Look! There’s his awesome personal flight vehicle! Isn’t it a miracle? And he has used all that marvelous power and technology just to visit li’l ole us! Wonderful!” It works, too. People are ridiculously easy to flatter, a cinch to awe, because they refuse to guard against it. Those most easily manipulated are those who reject the notion that anybody could manipulate them.

Of course, letting the press know when and from what direction the president’s plane will be approaching does break security rules by making the information potentially available to a McVey-style madman with a rocket launcher, but hey, it’s a campaign. The visuals of the visit are more important.

And so you keep them coming. Fourth:

Provide plenty of pictures of adoring crowds in the thrall of His Presence, jamming forward in the hope that they might be able to touch the hem of The Beloved Leader’s closest garment. This shows all the doubters the multitudes who don’t doubt, not even a little, and effectively marginalizes them by surrounding Our Great Leader with an aura of reverence.

But, you will object, every candidate has his picture taken with adoring crowds–that’s part of the game–and there’s no suggestion of ‘reverence’ when they do it.

And there you’ve put your finger on Rove’s genius: the reverence proceeds directly from those shots of Our Great Leader’s plane arriving, a visual context the other candidate can never have and that other presidents rarely use (because of the breach of “national security” involved in releasing the flight plan), a visual designed to provoke that sense of reverence for the Superior Being Who Approaches. To some degree (much smaller, since they are real heroes as opposed to the image of a ‘hero’), visuals of the Shuttle returning from space have contributed to the movie-star-like reverence in which astronauts are held. Karl realized this and co-opted them for political use. He loves having Junior sweep in on AF1 or, better yet, fly a military jet and land it on a carrier. That is ‘awe’ for you. That is ‘reverential’. Karl would NEVER NEVER NEVER allow Junior to arrive in a *gasp* common, plebian bus.

No, that was Karen Hughes’ idea for showcasing Junior’s ‘common touch’. Karen, you see, is from the Old School; she doesn’t really get the idea behind The Cult. Neither does Junior, come to that. He accepts it, of course, silver-spoon in hand, as his right and just due as God’s Messenger on Earth, but he doesn’t understand that this image has had to be created–he thinks it’s genuine, he thinks people really do love him that much. Like many people who’ve grown up with riches and, since we worship money in this country, been pampered and kowtowed to all their lives by everyone around them, George II takes it for granted that he’s a fine fellow beloved by all but a few dissident cranks he can safely ignore. And Karl makes sure Junior has plenty of evidence around him that that’s true.

Manipulation is rampant in Rove’s America. Even Our Great Leader has to be manipulated for his own good to grow and maintain The Cult that will keep the radcons and baby theocrats in business well after 2008–if they can just get past 2004….

In addition, the rarity of such visits in such places inevitably short-circuits skepticism and leads to the ‘giddiness’ Rutenberg alludes to.

“Historic Visit” was the large-type headline in the Telegraph Herald of Dubuque on Friday morning; “A pretty spectacular day,” proclaimed Ron Steele, the KWWL-TV anchor. Almost all of the major local stations showed Mr. Bush’s nearly hourlong campaign speech at the Grand River Center, in which he lampooned Senator John Kerry and promoted his own record, live. Even on Thursday, news of Mr. Bush’s visit overwhelmed news about the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal.

You can say that again.

The Telegraph Herald carried only a 50-word teaser to the Iraqi abuse story on the front page, half of which was occupied by three articles about Mr. Bush’s visit. One carried a headline that said in part, “no food will be allowed at president’s speech.” Another was about the hopes of nearby Cuba City, Wis., that the president’s motorcade would swing through.

So much for little things like US responsibility for the torture of prisoners; what’s that next to knowing that ‘no food will be allowed at the president’s speech’? Nothing, a waste of newspaper space.

And yet despite all this brilliant PR, Bush’s numbers continue to sink because there is one factor that over-rides the temporary lift of a personal appearance by Our Great Leader–reality. Once the public begins to suspect that the man behind the curtain is a fraud, the jig is all but up. Reality is the one element against which they have no defense.

Correction: In Comments, Seattle gently chides my assertion that Iowa is still a Red state; apparently it’s now a swing state (Dubuque, too?). He thinks it might have gone to Gore in ’00. If it did (and he’s probably right; he knows this stuff), I missed that little chunk of news completely. My apologies. But I’m not going to edit it to make myself look better. I goofed. Let it wave in the breeze.

Bush Agency Tells Truth!

Having successfully politicized previously trustworthy and non-partisan govt agencies like the GAO and the CBO, Karl Rove’s White House crew had a right to feel proud of themselves. Those agencies had remained uncorrupted since FDR, carrying out objective investigations and producing unbiased reports; their numbers and conclusions were always accurate, no matter what the political fall-out, and they were trusted by both sides. Those days are, of course, over now, as we have seen both of them twist the data to fit pre-ordained political goals. But there is, it would seem, one independent govt agency left that they forgot to corrupt.

WASHINGTON, May 3 — The Congressional Research Service says the Bush administration apparently violated federal law by ordering the chief Medicare actuary to withhold information from Congress indicating that the new Medicare law could cost far more than White House officials had said.


Not that this is any great revelation. Most of us figured when it came out that ordering Richard Foster to shut up about the real cost so Rove’s Lackeys could push Junior’s prescription-drug benefit for drug companies through a reluctant Congress was likely illegal. We just didn’t expect to hear it officially. We didn’t realize that the CRS had escaped the Rove/DeLay Orwell-Machine’s relentless obsession with forcing govt agencies to turn facts into illusions and illusions into certainties. Unfortunately for the Bush/Rove Admin, the CRS is still honest.

In a report on Monday, the research service said that Congress’s “right to receive truthful information from federal agencies to assist in its legislative functions is clear and unassailable.” Since 1912, it said, federal laws have protected the rights of federal employees to communicate with Congress, and recent laws have “reaffirmed and strengthened” those protections.

Federal employees have a “right” to go straight to Congress and insist they listen to the straight dope? Ooh, this is bad. No telling where it might lead. Next thing you know, EPA scientists will be parading up to the hill to testify that aresenic is poisonous (the BA raised the acceptable levels of arsenic in water), National Marine Fisheries Service scientists will be swearing under oath that hatchery salmon aren’t the same as wild salmon, and climatologists from the National Meteorological Service will be forcing TommyD and Doc Frist and Sexy Chambliss to actually look at data that says global warming is happening RIGHT NOW, and they won’t like that.

You see, the problem is that the Pubs are so wrong scientifically, so wrong about the numbers, so wrong in their assumptions and preconceived, “revealed wisdom”, that this opens the door to an avalanche of federal employees who actually know what the real facts are to invade the sanctity of BushCo’s carefully-contrived FantasyLand Fun Park. If enough of these motivated, whistle-blowing fact-checkers march on the Hill, the FLFP will come crashing down around Radcon heads like the cartoon it is, and Junior’s faith-based govt will grind to a screeching halt.

Look for lines of tanks blocking Constitution Ave before the Rove Boys let a thing like that happen.

Oh, by the way, Tom Scully, Foster’s boss and the jerkweed who told him to keep his trap shut or he’d be out on his ear, is entirely unrepentant. Even though–

The research service, a nonpartisan arm of Congress, said Mr. Scully’s order “would appear to violate a specific and express prohibition of federal law.” The actuary, it said, has a duty to “make professional and reliable cost estimates, unfettered by any particular partisan agenda.”

–his stance hasn’t changed one whit:

Mr. Scully has confirmed telling Mr. Foster that “I, as his supervisor, would decide when he would communicate with Congress.”

He hasn’t admitted threatening to fire him, however, although as arrogant as these guys are, it wouldn’t surprise me if that was next, accompanied by the usual Radcon fol-de-rol about loyalty to the president’s agenda and how the real numbers were (somehow) a matter of “national security”.

The depressing part of all this is that we must, of course, at this point kiss the CRS’ non-partisanshhip a quick good-bye. Now that Karl knows they exist, their politicization in the coming weeks–if not days–is a foregone conclusion.

So “Good-bye, CRS, we hardly knew ye, but you did damn good work there for a minute.”

The "In Hindsight, That Was Inevitable" Dept

The South-by-Southwest (better known as the SXSW) Film Festival is featuring in its line-up a documentary that, sooner or later, had to be made. That’s right, Bush’s Brain, based on the best-selling book about Karl Rove’s role in the Rise (and hopefully Fall) of the Junior Bush, is now a movie. According to the “Bob Dole Rule”, the fact that I haven’t seen it makes me uniquely suited to review it. So I will.The most surprising part of Karl Rove’s ascendancy was not that he found a way to manipulate Texans. As virtually everyone knows, there’s no particular trick to that. A cowboy hat, a “ranch”, a pronounced if phony affection for baby-back ribs and country songs about runaway adulterers on a tractor in a trailer park, and a love affair with all assault weapons will usually get you the best seat in the house. What’s weird, really weird, was the ease with which Karl made the switch from phooling Texas numb-nuts (as Kinky Friedman once said of his native state, “Yup, there’s a lot of wide open spaces down here…. Between people’s ears.”) to flummoxing Miami Beach sharpies and Oklahoma City slickers. Seems like it shouldn’t have been that easy, doesn’t it? I mean, shouldn’t he have at least had to change gears? I’m sure the movie explains that.

Just as I’m sure it must catch Karl in Godzilla-mode, frightening the bejeezus out of some poor WH secretary–Christie Whitman, say, or Tommy Thompson–who dared suggest a policy for the good of the country without checking the polls first to see if it was good for the Bush. The key scene, though, is sure to be the nightly hypnosis session: the swinging watch dangling from Karl’s fingers, the long slow close-up as Junior’s eyes slowly glaze over and his usual blank look is replaced by one that’s even blanker. You’ve suspected it, you’ve known it. Now see it for yourself in Widescreen Vidiotscope–The Rove Rave! We Dare You To Watch! Bring a doctor with you…. This is cinematic history.

Will we see Karl operate the gizmo in Junior’s back that controls his mouth? Will we see Karl drink a glass of water while Junior recites the SOTU? Will the camera show us the strings disappearing into the fly-space above?

“Amazing. I say it here and it comes out there.”–Aaron in Broadcast News? Or Karl Rove in Bush’s Brain?

I won’t say any more because I don’t want to give it away. But it’s coming soon to a multiplex near you!

Or not.

(Via Norbizness)

The Truth Can Be Dangerous If You Work For the Bush Administration

Tony Pugh of Knight-Ridder reports that Richard Foster, the BA’s top expert on Medicare costs, was told he’d be fired if he revealed the actual price of the drug benefit.

When the House of Representatives passed the controversial benefit by five votes last November, the White House was embracing an estimate by the Congressional Budget Office that it would cost $395 billion in the first 10 years. But for months the administration’s own analysts in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services had concluded repeatedly that the drug benefit could cost upward of $100 billion more than that.Withholding the higher cost projections was important because the White House was facing a revolt from 13 conservative House Republicans who’d vowed to vote against the Medicare drug bill if it cost more than $400 billion.

Rep. Sue Myrick of North Carolina, one of the 13 Republicans, said she was “very upset” when she learned of the higher estimate.

“I think a lot of people probably would have reconsidered (voting for the bill) because we said that $400 billion was our top of the line,” Myrick said.

Five months before the November House vote, the government’s chief Medicare actuary had estimated that a similar plan the Senate was considering would cost $551 billion over 10 years. Two months after Congress approved the new benefit, White House Budget Director Joshua Bolten disclosed that he expected it to cost $534 billion. (emphasis added)

So not only did the BA knowingly lie about the cost, they threatened to fire anyone who knew what the real cost was and said so publicly. This, campers, is what is known in legal parlance as a “cover-up”. It’s also intimidation. But here’s the horror: there’s nothing new about this. It’s SOP for the BA. The Center for American Progress has been keeping track of such cases, and the list is intriguing.

***Larry Lindsey, WH budget advisor, was fired when he said the Second Gulf War would cost $200B. After a year, and no end in sight, we are at over $100B and climbing.

***When Gen Anthony Zinni (see Kiatkowski’s Salon article; scroll down to “The New Pentagon Papers”), who was Junior’s Mid-East negotiator at the time, said the Second Gulf War would take longer and be harder to resolve than Rumsfeld’s rosy scenario would lead one to believe, he was dropped from the team.

***If you’re wondering where that anonymous soldier quoted in Intervention Magazine (scroll down to “American Soldiers Refused Thanksgiving Dinner…”) got the idea that military freedom of speech was only allowed to Bush supporters, here’s where: Gen John Abizaid, Bush-appointed commander of the forces in Iraq. Gen Abizaid declared, “None of us that wear this uniform are free to say anything disparaging about the secretary of defense, or the president of the United States. Whatever action may be taken, whether it’s a verbal reprimand or something more stringent, is up to the commanders on the scene.” (emphasis added) Here’s a guy who’s trying to shut the whole damn Army up. Free speech and turkey dinners for Bush supporters, reprimands or the brig for Bush opponents.

***When ABC News reporter Jeffrey Kofman put soldiers in Iraq on the air talking about how the equipment the BA had promised (boots, night-vison goggles, flak-jackets, etc) never arrived and that they had to buy their own and weren’t too thrilled about it, somebody from Rove’s WH Communications Dept tipped Matt Drudge that Kofman was gay.

***When Junior got nailed after the SOTU for claiming that the CIA told him that Saddam was trying to buy nukes when what they had actually said was that there wasn’t any evidence to support that supposition, Bush and Condi Rice promptly blamed CIA “intelligence failures” for their cooked conclusions, and off-the-record “administration sources” started talking about firing Tenet or forcing his resignation.

***And of course we all know what happened to Joe Wilson when he said he had told the Admin weeks before they used them to justify the war that the Niger documents were forgeries–and obvious forgeries at that: somebody in the BA (the investigation is centering on Scooter Libby and John Hannah in Veep Cheney’s office) outed his covert-op wife to Bob Novak, blowing her cover and causing her to be removed from her assignment–tracking WMD’s.

It’s an impressive list: a former ambassador, a couple of Generals, the entire CIA, the entire occupation Army in Iraq, and two top-level advisors. And these are just the ones we know about. The FBI investigation of the Plame leak is picking up stories about how frightened everyone in the WH was of Rove, some reporters who complained that WH restrictions in press conferences were leading to scripted sessions were reprimanded or removed from the Washington beat when Dan Bartlett denied their press credentials, CIA analysts said that Cheney’s frequent visits to berate them for not going along with the bogus information Chalabi was “supplying” (read: “inventing”) convinced them to keep their mouths shut, and so on.

There’s a pattern here. Recognize it? If you don’t, then you’ve likely never worked in a big corporation because it’s SOP for corporate execs. Disagree with the Boss and suddenly you’re posted to the Outer Aleutians. Point out an obvious fallacy or weakness in the Boss’ plan and shortly after that find you’re branded as “negative” and “not a team player” and all your assignments are going to somebody who said in that same meeting that he thought the Boss was a genius. Talk to the press without permission and the next day you’re shit-canned no matter how positive what you said was. I personally know of the case of a man who was ordered to talk to the press at a press party arranged by his company and still got fired because he talked to a reporter who wasn’t on the company’s list–a list he didn’t know existed because no one had ever shown it to him. And this despite the fact that everything he said to her was stuff he had been saying all day.

Get the picture? This is what comes of taking inexperienced corporate honchos who don’t believe that anything they say or do should ever be questioned by anyone and putting them in positions of power in govt where questionable policies need to be questioned: they just can’t stand it. They freak when they aren’t obeyed instantly. They want to exact the kind of revenge they’ve always been able to exact on subordinates at home. They throw hissy-fits and toss threats around like Christmas cookies.

Corporate executives don’t believe they should be accountable to anyone, least of all their subordinates or customers (you should hear what these guys say to each other in private about what stupid, annoying, pains-in-the-ass their customers are; it would be an education). So let this be a lesson to us:

NO MORE CORPORATE CEO’S IN GOVERNMENT. PERIOD. Really, they’re not worth the aggrevation they cause.

The Plame Flame Burns Brighter

Josh Marshall links to a Murray Waas article at The American Prospect on the Plame investigation. Waas says Rove has actually admitted some involvement, though he claims it was after Novak’s column appeared.

President Bush’s chief political adviser, Karl Rove, told the FBI in an interview last October that he circulated and discussed damaging information regarding CIA operative Valerie Plame with others in the White House, outside political consultants, and journalists, according to a government official and an attorney familiar with the ongoing special counsel’s investigation of the matter.But Rove also adamantly insisted to the FBI that he was not the administration official who leaked the information that Plame was a covert CIA operative to conservative columnist Robert Novak last July. Rather, Rove insisted, he had only circulated information about Plame after it had appeared in Novak’s column.

Weak, Karl, very weak. That’s a very risky game you’re playing. Of course, Karl isn’t used to being someone who has to answer questions. Normally he issues orders that he doesn’t allow to be questioned. This must be a new experience for him and he hasn’t caught on yet because in his very next breath, practically, he defends the security breach on political grounds:

He also told the FBI, the same sources said, that circulating the information was a legitimate means to counter what he claimed was politically motivated criticism of the Bush administration by Plame’s husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson.

Uh-huh. Wilson’s apolitical debunking of a favorite neocon fantasy by simply telling the truth is, in Karl’s world, an attempt to sabotage the Bush Admin. But then, everything is political to Karl. He ran a WH where policy was determined by political considerations. In fact, Rove and other BA officials painted a picture for the FBI of just how political the WH was:

Rove and other White House officials described to the FBI what sources characterized as an aggressive campaign to discredit Wilson through the leaking and disseminating of derogatory information regarding him and his wife to the press, utilizing proxies such as conservative interest groups and the Republican National Committee to achieve those ends, and distributing talking points to allies of the administration on Capitol Hill and elsewhere. Rove is said to have named at least six other administration officials who were involved in the effort to discredit Wilson.

But of course this was all after Novak’s column. Yeah, right, and if you believe that, I’ve got the entire country of Costa Rica stashed under my desk and I’ll let you have it for $3 and a dozen eggs.

What Rove described is what we call The Mighty Wurlitzer–the engine of right-wing propaganda that conservatives have consistently ridiculed as a “liberal conspiracy theory.” Well, thanks, Karl. It’s a “theory” no longer. If it does nothing else, the Plame investigation is going to lay bare the machinery running the right-wing puppets who said it didn’t exist. Way to go, guys.

Ducking Viet Nam, Bush-Style

I don’t know if you’ve been following the ins-and-outs of the debate over Junior’s service–or lack of it–in the National Guard, but most of it is swirling around whether or not Bush lied about showing up and ignored orders to report for duty, why he missed his flight exam (Press Office Director Dan Bartlett says it was because “he had moved temporarily to Alabama and was going to perform his duty in nonflying status” which is pretty much beside the point–an annual flight physical was required for Bush to fulfill his TANG obligations), and why he was given an honorable discharge despite not having completed his service. According to some of the documents in the Friday-night dump, the ANG has a point system that determines what constututes a “satisfactory year” (56 pts) and Bush had only 40 pts for the year in question.

Now, that’s all well and good, even important because it cuts to the heart of the ludicrous image Karl has built up around him that he was “a hero”, a major girder in the construction of the COP. But I think it’s time to put the reasons behind his NG service on the table and call a spade a spade: he joined TANG to avoid having to fight in Nam, and he insisted on being a pilot because it would look good on his resume when he ran for political office later on.

What we have here, in microcosm, is the heart of George W Bush’s real personality, the one they’ve been trying to hide under all the smoke-and-mirrors of the folksy country-boy who always calls his mansion in Texas a “ranch” even though it’s no such thing. This is George W Bush revealed for what he is, a spoiled son of privilege who used his family’s connections to duck out of a war and bragged about how much he could get away with because he was somehow…special.

Those who encountered Bush in Alabama remember him as an affable social drinker who acted younger than his 26 years. Referred to as George Bush, Jr. by newspapers in those days, sources say he also tended to show up late every day, around noon or one, at Blount’s campaign headquarters in Montgomery. They say Bush would prop his cowboy boots on a desk and brag about how much he drank the night before. They also remember Bush’s stories about how the New Haven, Connecticut police always let him go, after he told them his name, when they stopped him “all the time” for driving drunk as a student at Yale in the late 1960s. Bush told this story to others working in the campaign “what seemed like a hundred times,” says Red Blount’s nephew C. Murphy Archibald, now an attorney in Charlotte, N.C., who also worked on the Blount campaign and said he had “vivid memories” of that time.

“He would laugh uproariously as though there was something funny about this. To me, that was pretty memorable, because here he is, a number of years out of college, talking about this to people he doesn’t know,” Archibald said. “He just struck me as a guy who really had an idea of himself as very much a child of privilege, that he wasn’t operating by the same rules.”

This little vignette (which comes by way of Body and Soul) is enormously telling. It describes a rich, connected, arrogant frat-boy who knew he could get away with almost anything because of who his family was and bragged about it to anyone who would listen and some who didn’t care. He wanted people to know just how special he was and how much influence he represented and how unafraid he was to use it. Precisely the sort of guy who wouldn’t have a hard time believing that God had singled him out or that he was meant to rule over lesser men. IOW, the pesident we have come to know over the past three years hasn’t changed all that much; his “conversion” seems to have been little more than an excuse for more arrogance–on top of his wealth, position, and influence, he is also one of the Elect.

I wouldn’t blame him for using whatever tools he had available to him to keep from going to Nam if he had ever shown the slightest understanding or compassion for other, less privileged men who had done the same by leaving their families behind forever and fleeing to Canada, or going to jail to avoid fighting in a war that should never and likely would never have been fought at all were it not for Johnson’s fear of harming “America’s credibility.” But he hasn’t. I wouldn’t condemn what he did if he had been against the war on philosophiocal, political or ethical grounds, but he wasn’t. He got out of serving in Nam for no more glorious reason than to save his own skin and let other, less privileged, men die in a war he supported from the safety of his stateside NG base.

I may need to remind some of you who are not old enough to remember it that in those days, there was a draft–the NG were never rotated to Nam, never required to serve in combat of any kind. As a result, the Guard was often used as a place of refuge for the sons of the rich and influential–what Junior did was far from unusual; it was, in fact, common. It’s ironic (what isn’t in BushAmerica?) that Junior started a war under rules that would have required him to serve in combat if they had been in force 40 years ago.

But make no bones about it: whatever the specifics of whether or not Junior had so little respect for his NG sinecure that he deliberately blew off his duties to it, the only reason he was in the Guard in the first place was to avoid fighting in a war he claims to have supported. Like the other sons of rich and influential men, he protected himself and let the sons of less rich and influential men do his fighting for him. If he’s proud of this, he doesn’t deserve to be president of the PTA, let alone president of the US.

The War on Kerry, Part 3

Mother Jones just started a blog. It’s called, fittingly enough, The MoJo Blog, and while it’s gotten off to what I would call a slow start, it’s still worth checking for little gems like the “Mass Hysteria” post that outs the new Weekly Standard “Get Kerry” column called–shades of the “X”–The Kerry Files. It specifically promises to provide right-wing radio talk show hosts with “talking points” to use against him in the coming months “as a service to my broadcasting colleagues.”

NATIONAL SECURITY. Voters cannot trust John Kerry’s judgment or his resolve on issues of national security. From his April, 1971 testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to his statement on January 29, 2003, in a Democratic candidates’ debate that the war on terror is “primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation,” Kerry has fundamentally misunderstood threats to national security and the best means to defend the United States against them.MULTILATERAL MAN. The “Swiss-educated son of a foreign service officer,” as Time Magazine described Kerry in its February 9 issue, is a fully-formed U.N. man, for whom the opposition of the U.N. to any proposed American initiative would mean at least temporary and perhaps permanent paralysis.

DEFENSE RECORD. As a senator, John Kerry has voted against the full funding of most major weapons systems of the past two decades, including the MX missile, the Patriot inteceptor, and missile defense deployment.

THE L-WORD. According to Kerry-friendly Time Magazine’s profile, there is “plenty to support the notion that Kerry [is] just a classic bleeding heart: his ratings from the liberal Americans for Democratic Action have always hovered in the 90%-to-95% range.”

There’s two pages of this. Nothing John Kerry has done in his entire life is worth the spit you shine your shoes with; he’s been wrong on every single issue every single year. Hewitt won’t even give him any credit for voting for Junior’s radcon-inspired Holy War. This is how the Rove Machine works: they develop these arguments and then pass them around to each other. The only thing that’s new about this is that Hewitt is bragging about it. At the beginning he says:

WITH LESS THAN 38 WEEKS until the November 2nd vote, radio hosts have got to sharpen the message. That’s less than 200 broadcast days, and even with 15 segments per three hour show, that’s only 3,000 opportunities to present a four- to twelve-minute segment that focuses on some aspect of John Kerry’s record.

–and after 2 pages of innuendo and snarky personal attacks (“Kerry’s personal arrogance is legendary, and his nickname–‘Live Shot Kerry’–conveys that his arrogance is without even the mediating aristocratic virtue of reserve.”), he finishes with:

THERE’S A SHOW’S-WORTH OF TALKING POINTS with which to start. Did I mention the photos of Kerry and Jane Fonda? Or that he’s voted against cutting taxes a gazillion times and wants to raise them in 2005? Or his opposition to parental notification when a minor seeks an abortion?Against this hour’s work the Democrats have Ambassador Joe Wilson, their feverish attempt to distort the president’s national guard service, and the possibility that Saddam fooled the world into believing he had WMD.

No wonder liberal talk radio can’t succeed. Those hosts have no ammunition.

My goodness, no. No ammunition at all. Well, maybe the deficit. I hear it’s getting pretty big. Oh, and I guess maybe there was that pre-emptive war Bush started over NOTHING. But that’s pretty much it–except for the BA’s wholesale surrender to corporate interests, their trashing of what was once a healthy economy, their willingness to help those corps move jobs overseas instead of fighting to keep them here to cut the jobless rate which has risen barely a notch since the economy supposedly “recovered.” And oh yeah, their steady embezzlement of SocSec funds, their Scrooge-like treatment of the troops they’re sending to die for Halliburton’s oil fields, their trashing of environmental regs that have made our air and water cleaner in the last 30 years, the hatred of us abroad that they’ve engendered with their arrogance and snobby unilateralism…. Hell, I don’t think I could get more than 4 or 500 pages of stuff like that. And certainly none of it is anything like as evil as Kerry refusing to vote for a missile defense boondoggle system which has been “in development” for 25 years to the tune of $$$Tens of Billions$$$ and still doesn’t work. How dare he? Clearly he hates America.

No, I can see where liberal talk shows won’t have hardly anything worthwhile to chew on, alright. Just that unimportant blowing of a covert op’s cover in order to punish a guy who dared to depart from the Rive script and tell the truth, and that outrageous distortion of the President’s National Guard non-service (hey, he was working on a Republican political campaign, and a guy’s gotta have priorities), oh, and that little boo-boo with WMD? Hell, that was all Saddam’s fault–and the CIA’s–and Tony Blair’s–and Scott Ridder’s–and most of all, Bill Clinton’s! But not Bush’s. No no NOT Bush’s.

They got so little to talk about they might as well shut down, ay?