Posted on Thursday 31 May 2007

In the things I read, it’s widely assumed that Karl Rove is adept at voter manipulation, and that he has influenced elections in a variety of ways throughout his career. But the mechanism and the machinery required has been obscure, at least to me. Comes now the U.S. Attorney Scandal, and we’re suddenly given a window into the inner·sanctum – how it all seems to work [and it does work, that part is painfully clear].

Political Profiling

How in the world would controlling the Federal Prosecutors fit into an electioneering initiative? The was hardly apparent to me before all of this. The first hint came from an unlikely source – Andrew Sullivan, a Conservative Blogger [with a conscience] for the Atlantic Monthly. He reported on a study of political profiling by the DoJ in their corruption prosecutions. 

Here’s a summary of the results from that preliminary study by Shields and Cragan:

Officials Investigated by the Justice Department
2001 – 2006
  Dem. Rep. Ind. Total Dem/Rep [p]
All Public Officials 298 67 10 375 4.4 <0.01
Local Public Officials Only 262 37 10 309 7.1 <0.01
State and Federal Officials 36 30 0 66 1.2 >0.05

And their comments:

  • Political profiling makes Democratic officials look like they are more corrupt than Republicans, just as racial minorities are made to look more corrupt than whites by the practice of racial profiling by law enforcement agencies. However, the data on state-wide, U.S. Congress, and U.S. Senate elected officials do not support this claim.
  • Political profiling of local Democratic elected officials attacks the party at the very grassroots essence of its personality. Each local case of reported or insinuated corruption by the federal authorities eats at and saps the local Democrat’s energy to be the grassroots leader of the party and drains his or her resources in defense against the comparative unlimited resources of the federal government.
  • Political profiling discredits each candidate’s persona as a viable leader of and spokesperson for the local Democratic party.
  • Political profiling weakens the candidate’s ability to raise monies for themselves when seeking re-election and negates their ability to raise money for other democratic candidates.
  • By keeping political profiling at the local level — in this way the story is most likely not to be viewed nationally — it makes it harder for reporters to connect the dots between corruption investigations in say Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, or Philadelphia let alone towns like Carson, Colton, East Point, or Escambia, or counties like Cherokee, Harrison, Hudson, or Lake. Each local report of a corruption investigation appears as only an isolated incident rather than as a central example of a broader pattern created by the Bush Justice Department’s unethical practice of political profiling.

We’ve seen this in action in this scandal, notably Steve Biskupic [Wisconsin] Prosecution of Georgia Thompson and David Iglesias [New Mexico] fired for refusing to prosecute Democratic Officials.

Scandal Damage Control

I could’ve called this Protecting Corrupt Republicans, but I think that’s not the motive. Karl Rove has said over and over that they lost in 2006 because of all the scandals, the one he focuses on is Mark Foley [then there was Jack Abramoff, Duke Cunningham, Ralph Reed, Bob Ney, etc.]. Certainly, there are examples of that kind of interference with investigations in this U.S. Attorney Firing Scandal – Carol Lam [more Abramoff, Kyle Foggo, Brent Wilkes] and  Debra Yang Wong [Jerry Lewis D-CA]. And, of course, there’s the C.I.A. Leak Investigation that Karl Rove couldn’t control, thanks to James Comey and Patrick Fitzgerald.

Voter Fraud Investigations

This one’s the hardest for me to get my mind around. Rove is obsessed with pushing "voter fraud" investigations. The Republicans alledge that the Domocrats have registered untold numbers of inelgible or non-existent people. McClatchie has a good summary. Here‘s the National Republican Lawyers Association view, paralleling the speech Rove made there last year [written in the same condescending style William Kristol uses defending the government’s neoconservatives].  Whatever their rationale, this is a huge deal with the Republican Electioneers, prosecuting "voter fraud cases." It’s part of a broad strategy to purge the election role of Democratic voters – mostly minorities of one kind or another.  It’s a companion piece to microtargeting and caging. Many of the fired Attorneys refused to press these voter fraud cases at a rate suiting the Administration.


But there’s more. U.S. Attorneys oversee the election process itself. If there’s something fishy, they’re the ones to do something about it. If there’s something contested, they’re involved in investigating it. They have a lot of control over the elections, and I expect that’s the main motive in all of this. Rove’s big guns – Monica Goodling, Sara Taylor, Tim Griffin, Bernard Schlozman, etc. are all involved, and they’re all veterans of the Republican "opposition research" ranks. They’re part of the DoJ initiative for reasons, not all of which are apparent to us as of yet.

But, speaking of power, there’s a piece of this that’s so big, we almost don’t see it. All of the Administration’s problems have something to do with the DoJ. They started with John Ashcroft, a definite Christian Conservative, Law and Order nut. But even he gave them problems. We’ve recently heard James Comey’s testimony about the attempt to get the N.S.A. Domestic Spying authorized on Ashcroft’s sickbed. In the brief time Comey was acting Attorney General, he stonewalled them on the N.S.A. issue and appointed Patrick Fitzgerald as Special Prosecutor. Big trouble! They got rid of both Ashcroft and Comey, putting Alberto Gonzales, a "yes man" of the first magnitude, in place. So, by controlling the DoJ and the U.S. Attorneys, they control "The Law" itself. That’s obviously what they want.

But, to be honest, the reason I’m writing this is an uncanny feeling that we’re missing something. They gave the okay to go with the firings after they knew they’d lost the mid-term elections. That was risky business, and ultimately, it’s going to cost them the DoJ. There must’ve been a big pot of gold at the end of that rainbow. I’m just not sure we’ve figured out what it was. I hate hunches. They just sit in there and niggle…

    June 1, 2007 | 9:38 AM

    Today the WH announced that Dan Bartlett was leaving. He has been at Bush’s side for 14 years. He was 22 years old when he went to work for Bush. I read a while back that he and Karen Hughes went to the National Guard office where Bush’s records were in regard to his service and just wanted to clean up some records in his file before Bush ran for Gov. I didn’t know why more of that story wasn’t picked up by the rest of the media when it was discovered that at least a year of his National Guard records were missing. Dan was always the one to defend Bush when something unpleasant about the Administration came out. He usually told the interviewers asking embarrassing stuff that it wasn’t true. He was believable to the mass because he was cleancut and he had that so-called all American look. The last few times I saw him he had a distressed look on his face. I guess he can’t take it anymore because things are really falling apart at the seams in the WH. ( That of course is only my opinion.)

    June 1, 2007 | 1:54 PM

    I have a feeling that people like Dan are beginning to find themselves waking up at night thinking, “What in the hell am I doing? What have I become a part of?” Most regular people have the capacity to have a “look in the mirror moment.” it’s called cognitive dissonance, that moment of chaos when you realize something you’ve thought for much of your life isn’t the way you thought it was at all. What we’re waiting for, in this climate where things are getting tremulous for the Bush Administration, is for someone who knows all about what has gone on to have such a moment, and become the modern John Dean. It might not happen. But if it does, we’re going to have “national cognitive disonance,” maybe “international cognitive disonance.” My fingers are crossed…

    June 1, 2007 | 4:30 PM

    I’m sorry to say but I don’t think Dan has the depth to be a John Dean. He also has a new baby and twins too. I’m a identical twin. We are extremely close. She is a Fox News regular and we never discuss politics. I do hope that there is a Republican who will come forward to expose this Administration. We need a true patriot to expose the mess that Karl Rove has made in the justice Dept.

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