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Archive for July 7th, 2008

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Paul Alexander, Author of Machiavelli’s Shadow

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 7th, 2008 4:40 am by HL

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Paul Alexander, Author of Machiavelli’s Shadow
Paul Alexander looks back on Karl Rove’s career and finds a remarkable consistency in Rove’s methods: the legal persecution of political enemies, the cynical crafting of policy solely to woo key voting blocks, and the preference for photo ops over real governance.

alexander.jpgNo passage of Paul Alexander’s Machiavelli’s Shadow: The Rise and Fall of Karl Rove better exemplifies the central theme of his book–the disaster that results when politics subsumes policy–than this scene from the Katrina aftermath.

On Friday, Mary Landrieu had been with Bush and Blanco as they toured the 17th Street Canal, where, at last, major work had commenced to repair the damage that had been caused when the levee broke. “Then, on Saturday,” Landrieu says, “George Stephanopoulos called and asked to do an interview with me, and I said, ‘George, I’m tired of doing interviews. I have to work. And nothing you are airing is accurately showing what’s going on down here.’ He wanted to go to the Superdome, and I said, ‘We still have people stranded on their roofs. If you want to tell the right story, I will help you tell the right story. You get a helicopter and I’ll go up and I will show you what is actually happening. It’s awful what’s happening at the Superdome, but the reason the people can’t understand the story is because the entire region is under 20 feet of water. People can’t get into the Superdome to help. They can’t get out. People are drowning in their homes.’

“So George and I went up in the helicopter and for three hours his jaw was dropping. Then I said, ‘George, before we finish I have to show you one positive thing because I can’t send you back to Washington to produce a story that shows nothing but devastation and disaster.’ So I told the pilot to tack right so I can show George the 17th Street Canal and the work that was going on there. I swear as my name is Mary Landrieu I thought that what I saw with the president was still there–people working, trucks, sandbags, everything. Then I looked down and saw one little crane. It was like someone took a knife and stabbed me through my heart. I lost it.” There, in the cabin of the helicopter, as they flew above the breached canal below them, Landrieu sat devastated.

“I could not believe that the president of the United States, staged by Karl Rove himself, had come down to the city of New Orleans and basically put up a stage prop. It was like you had gone to a studio in California and filmed a movie. They put the props up and the minute we were gone they took them down. All the dump trucks were gone. All the Coast Guard people were gone. It was an empty spot with one little crane. It was the saddest thing I have ever seen in my life. At that moment I knew what was going on and I’ve been a changed woman ever since. It truly changed my life.”

Alexander’s book, told with the hindsight of Karl Rove’s recent failures, shows Rove’s M.O. over time: the legal persecution of political enemies, the cynical crafting of policy solely to woo key voting blocks, and–as with Katrina–the preference for photo ops over real governance.

With this hindsight, the consistency of Rove’s methods become apparent. For example, when viewed against the backdrop of the Siegelman prosecution and the US Attorney purge, Rove’s partnership with a sympathetic FBI Agent in Texas, Greg Rampton, to take down Democrats looks like just a preview of things to come.

“I understand why Rove is so successful [said Mike Moeller, one of the guys Rove and Rampton took down in their persecution of Jim Hightower]. He’s a take-no-prisoners kind of guy. In an interview once, he described Pete, Bill, and me as collateral damage–and that’s just the way it goes.” Rove’s plan worked, too: Hightower never again ran for public office.

In the end Moeller could see that the investigations being carried out by Rampton usually involved high-profile Democrats. Besides Mark White, Rampton had investigated Hightower, Gary Mauro, and Bob Bullock, the lieutenant governor elected in 1990.

There is, however, a danger in viewing the entire Bush Administration through this kind of hindsight. Even though the book shows Rove’s successes and failures–and demystifies many of Rove’s claimed successes, by focusing on Rove’s methods you turn those methods into the driving force behind all the nasty tricks of the Bush Administration. In a book written after the Libby trial revealed a note recording Cheney first passing on Plame’s identity and another note showing Cheney ordering Libby to leak classified information that almost certainly included Plame’s identity, there’s still this temptation to interpret Rove as the main guy behind the leak.

[quoting Rove biographer James Moore] “The plan was hatched by Rove … Karl or Libby found out about Plame–I’m still not convinced it wasn’t Karl–and [Karl] puts the plan in action … That’s consistently how Rove works. That’s what he does.”

[snip]

In the end, even though Rove was deeply involved in the scheme and may have been its ringleader, it would be Libby, not Rove, who was indicted.

That said, the book provides a timely reassessment of Rove’s legacy. As the McCain campaign’s most recent games suggest, we have by no means put the legacy of Rove behind us. So it is useful to have this book out there, showing that Rove was never as important as he made himself out to be, and that ultimately, Rove’s grand plans all turned to dust.


Bill Clinton Compares Obama and McCain on Environment

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 7th, 2008 4:39 am by HL

Bill Clinton Compares Obama and McCain on Environment

Former President Bill Clinton is in Aspen at the Ideas Festival. Today he's playing golf, but he spoke yesterday to a crowd of 700.

Via Troy Hooper, Editor of the Aspen Daily News, in the Denver Post:

It's well-documented that Clinton is no angel either but he remains a rock star of the Democratic Party and was the headliner at the festival, hosted by the Aspen Institute.

He filled the Greenwald Pavilion with more than 700 high-powered attendees who greeted him with an extended standing ovation. Clinton's daughter, Chelsea, was seated next to Gen. Colin Powell front and center.

Much of Clinton's remarks centered on the Africa election in Zimbabwe, calling for Robert Mugabe either to step down or “form a power-sharing arrangement with his chief opponent.”

He didn't mention Hillary or the Democratic nomination for President, but he had this to say about John McCain and Barack Obama on environmental policy: [More…]

While Clinton spoke at length about the contest in Zimbabwe, only once did he bring up his own country's pending presidential election. Without mentioning either one of them by name, he pointed out that both Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain advocate pro-environmental platforms.

“Both of our candidates have positions that guarantee that there will be a price set for carbon and we'll start to do something about climate change,” he said.

Surprising? Not really. He wasn't there to discuss the election but humanitarian issues. As Aspen Daily News reporter Andrew Travers writes:

Addressing a panoply of world issues from climate change and alternative energy to food security and AIDS yesterday at the Aspen Ideas Festival, the former president argued that creatively rethinking and reorganizing current global problem-solving methods would vastly improve civilization.

Clinton’s remarks, void of applause-lines or partisan rhetoric, seemed to mark a return to the humanitarian mission that has driven his post-presidency, after spending much of this year on Sen. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Clinton did not address the Obama-McCain presidential match-up, his former first lady’s unsuccessful bid for the Democratic nomination, or his reported reconciliation with Sen. Barack Obama last week.

Side notes on his visit: He ate at Matsuhisa (Nobu in some parts of the country) and Campo di Fiore…both execellent choices in my view…and walked along the Main St. mall. Aspen has always had a crush on Clinton. As Hooper writes:

And while Clinton has said he loves Aspen, the town doesn't hide its affection for him. His Secret Service detail often allows passersby to greet him with handshakes, hugs and an occasional photograph.Voters in Pitkin County showed him overwhelming support during his back-to-back presidential election triumphs in the 1990s.


Sunday Bobbleheads

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 7th, 2008 4:38 am by HL

Sunday Bobbleheads
Document the atrocities.

Fox News Sunday With Chris Wallace An all-star panel that includes Fred Barnes and Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard, Mara Liasson and Juan Williams of National Public Radio.

This Week With George Stephanopoulos Topic: Obama vice presidential selection process. Guests: Senators Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and Jack Reed of Rhode Island; Libertarian presidential nominee Bob Barr.

Face the Nation With Bob Schieffer Topic: politics. Guests: Senators John Kerry of Massachusetts and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

Meet the Press The program will be preempted by Wimbledon tennis coverage.

Late Edition With Wolf Blitzer Two-hour special marking the 10th anniversary of the program, with selected interviews from the past.

So Predictable
This past week gave us a look at how things will be going forward. The McCain campaign will inject a narrative, and the donut & BBQ loving press will dutifully type it up, completely making up facts to do so if necessary.

And we’re going to have to start creating 360 degree shitstorms around them when they do.


Immigration: It’s Been Over 20 Years Since Congress Considered Amnesty, So Why All the Ruckus?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 7th, 2008 4:37 am by HL

Immigration: It’s Been Over 20 Years Since Congress Considered Amnesty, So Why All the Ruckus?
Progressive immigration reformers need to do a better job framing their proposals.


Election Central July 4th Roundup

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 7th, 2008 4:36 am by HL

Election Central July 4th Roundup
Republicans struggling to “define” Obama Leading Republicans are beginning to complain that the McCain campaign hasn’t yet settled on a way of “defining” — a.k.a. “sliming” — Barack Obama, prompting some to worry that Obama may prove as elusive a…


Election Central July 4th Roundup

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 7th, 2008 4:35 am by HL

Election Central July 4th Roundup
Leading Republicans begin to worry that the McCain campaign is struggling to figure out how to “define” Obama. That and other political news of the day in today’s Election Central July 4th Roundup….


Vermont man may get death penalty

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 7th, 2008 4:34 am by HL

Vermont man may get death penalty
Vermont man may get death penalty


Barnes: War in Iraq is ?so much more important? than war in the ?middle of nowhere? Afghanistan.

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 7th, 2008 4:33 am by HL

Barnes: War in Iraq is ?so much more important? than war in the ?middle of nowhere? Afghanistan.
On Fox News Sunday, Fred Barnes argued that war in Iraq is “so much more important” than the war in Afghanistan. Iraq is a “country in the heart of the Middle East, one of the most important countries there, an oil-producing country.” He added, “Compare that with there’s a Taliban offensive in southeastern Afghanistan. You […]

On Fox News Sunday, Fred Barnes argued that war in Iraq is “so much more important” than the war in Afghanistan. Iraq is a “country in the heart of the Middle East, one of the most important countries there, an oil-producing country.” He added, “Compare that with there’s a Taliban offensive in southeastern Afghanistan. You talk about the middle of nowhere!” Watch it:

Barnes also inadvertently endorsed a “permanent” occupation in Iraq, but then quickly corrected himself to say “small American contingent.”


Conservatives Ready To Battle McCain on Convention Platform

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 7th, 2008 4:32 am by HL

Conservatives Ready To Battle McCain on Convention Platform
Conservative activists are preparing to do battle with allies of Sen. John McCain in advance of September’s Republican National Convention, hoping to prevent his views on global warming, immigration, stem cell research and campaign finance from becoming enshrined in the party’s official declaration…

Justice Dept. Sued Over Political Bias
Armed with solid grades, glowing recommendations and a pair of internships, Sean M. Gerlich confidently applied to the Justice Department honors program two years ago, only to get a rejection letter.


Winning Blue-Collar Votes in Red States

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 7th, 2008 4:28 am by HL

Winning Blue-Collar Votes in Red States
Matthew Continetti, Weekly Std

Bloc-Buster Idea: Make It The G-3
LONDON — John McCain would kick Russia out of the Group of Eight economic powers that meet in Japan this week. But this is no time to think small. The G-8 leaders themselves should declare surrender and disband their high-profile huddle on the state of the world. Think of it as global shock therapy: Using the July 7-9 summit on Hokkaido Island to abandon the bloated, unwieldy G-8 format would be a first step toward acknowledging and rethinking — at the highest level — these important international realities: