Fear of Clowns

"Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable."
- H. L. Mencken

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

The tie that binds 

and Bush's stool that don't stink

Swift Boat Vets for [Bush] is the same thing as the official Bush campaign. In a post two days ago I wrote:

Swift Boat Vets for Truth are as closely associated to the White House you can get without being on the White House or Bush campaign payroll.

I used the "payroll" image because the Bush campaign has emphasized that Ken Cordier - a man featured in SBVT's latest ad at the same time as advising Bush/Cheney '04 - until the news came out was a volunteer for the Bush campaign and received no monetary compensation for his participation. Here is the Bush/Cheney '04 "volunteer", pictured in the teaser for the ad on the belligerent group's home page:

But that was two days ago. Yesterday, it came out that Benjamin Ginsberg, Bush/Cheney '04's paid lawyer, also renders services for Swift Boat Vets for the Truth. Ginsberg has claimed he's considering billing Swift Boat Vets for Truth for his services. Malarky - Bush/Cheney '04 pays him for his services related to the campaign effort - if his services to the group were separate, he'd be holding up a copy of an invoice. He's a Bush employee - on May 30, 2004, the campaign announced that,

Ben Ginsberg will serve as chief outside counsel, as he did for the 2000 Bush-Cheney campaign.

"Outside counsel". Let's examine what an outside council may do. And pay attention to the dates.

Progress for America is a 501c non-profit Republican organization who on their "Who Are We?" page tell us they have reactivated themselves for this election cycle:

Heading into the next legislative session and beyond, it has become apparent that liberal special interest groups are forming organizations whose single goal is to attack and defame the issue agenda of President George W. Bush and other leaders who are working to enact conservative, common sense public policies that benefit all Americans. PFA is an issue advocacy/grassroots organization committed to keeping the issue record straight and serves as a conservative "Issue Truth Squad." It is the only such organization in the country!

On May 29, 2004 the organization reproduced an article from the National Journal in their "PFA Activities" section (The National Journal is the organization who's claim that Kerry is the "most liberal senator" was echoed endlessly by America's army of right-wing media pundits early this year):

Progress for America has also recruited Brian McCabe, a New Hampshire-based grassroots specialist, as its president. According to sources, Progress for America is aiming to raise $40 million to $60 million to fund grassroots work, issue advertising, and "truth squads" to burnish the Bush record on tax cuts, the economy, energy, and other issues. Over the past few months, [Progress for America's] counsel, Ben Ginsberg, who is also the chief outside counsel for the Bush campaign, has been telling potential board members about a game plan that would allow Progress for America to answer liberal advocacy groups.

So far, we have Progress for America (and the National Journal) knowing Ben Ginsberg was the Bush campaign's chief outside counsel before Bush's campaign announced the hire. As a 501c, Progress for America is subject to restrictions that 527s are not. On May 28, 2004, PFA announced their establishment of the Progress for America Voter Fund 527:

"I am excited to announce the establishment of the Progress for America Voter Fund and the addition of our new board members," said Brian McCabe, the President the PFA Voter Fund. "We are confident that this new 527 committee and new board members will dramatically increase our impact on public policy in America," McCabe added.

Way back in November 2003, Progress for America announced that they had reformed by reproducing this report in their PFA Activities page - and look who was involved:

A not-for-profit organization with strong Republican ties has re-formed in recent months with several top GOP strategists at the helm in an effort to counter the proliferation of soft-money groups on the Democratic side.

The group - Progress for America - is a 501(c)(4) membership committee that was begun in 2001 by Tony Feather, a longtime Republican consultant with strong ties to President Bush. Feather recently cut his ties to the group, however, and has been replaced atop the organization by Chris LaCivita, political director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee in the 2002 cycle and the top political strategist for NRSC Chairman George Allen (Va.).

Republican lawyer Ben Ginsberg, who specializes in campaign finance and election law, is also closely affiliated with the committee, according to well-placed sources.

Progress for America's daughter 527 organization produced and aired the pro-Bush/anti-Kerry "What If? ad.

It's crystal clear that Ginsberg's job as "Chief Outside Counsel" for the Bush campaign is to work with soft money groups. And he's paid to do it - the fact that campaign finance is one of his areas of concentration likely means that arguments are ready that his activities technically do not contravene the law. Swift Boat Vets for Truth spokesperson Jennifer Webster explained Ginsberg's role, "It was an effort to make sure we were doing everything legal, that's why you hire a lawyer." One can't help but recall the administration's legal contortions to skirt the Geneva Conventions and justify torture. The conspicuous observation here is that advice Ginbsberg gives on behalf of the Bush campaign on plausibly staying within the law is all the evidence any Doubting Thomas needs to be convinced that Swift Boat Vets for Truth and Bush/Cheney '04 are appendages of Bush's coordinated campaign effort. Thanks to LeilaniĀ for the "tie that binds" imagry.

The Republicans' strategy is to use the good cop/bad cop ploy: SBVT is a vile mouthpiece while their candidate himself tries to come across as someone above reproach who would never criticize a war hero. If Bush wants to vilify Kerry's service, great, but pretending it's not part of his campaign's strategy makes the childish and non-sensical attacks dishonest as well as repugnant. (Before you think "But wait", remember Kerry has condemned ads that remind America Bush was an alcoholic who probably skipped out on a few months of National Guard service while he was supposed to be protecting Alabama from the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong.)

My own opinion is that on it's own, it doesn't matter that Bush avoided Vietnam by joining the champagne corps, I'd like to think I would have tried to avoid that war myself. He gets a pass from me - and if he'd have been upfront about it in 2000, it would be a closed issue for all. The salient fact is that Kerry volunteered, served honorably as a brave and exceptional commander, and furthermore came around quickly and was unabashedly vocal against war once he saw it for what it was. "My country right or wrong; when right, to keep her right; when wrong, to put her right." - Carl Schultz.

The salient fact about Bush today is that he's happy to perch on a hollow ivory pedestal, hovering over a cesspool of right-wing Republican filth, claiming his stool doesn't stink.

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