Enforcers of the Iron Law
It was pretty obvious that the Yacht Party here in California was intellectually bankrupt when they let right-wing radio talk show hosts John and Ken sign on to the official lawsuit against the legislature for trying to pass a work-around budget that increased fees but not taxes. Talk show hosts like John and Ken are the low-level enforcers of conservative dogma in the state, whipping their charges into a frenzy if anyone strays from the party line. They were on a roll yesterday.
"Immediately head to your battle stations," blared John and Ken on their hugely popular Southern California conservative radio show on Thursday.
The conservative duo -- blasting on the powerful KFI station -- had put the Republican lawmakers quoted in The Bee's story about potentially raising taxes in their crosshairs.
Their targets were GOP Assemblymen Anthony Adams, Mike Duvall and Roger Niello. (And, later in the show, Sen. Abel Maldonado, who was quoted in a MediaNews story saying he could potentially vote for tax hikes to balance the budget.)
Pictures and phone numbers for all four lawmakers were posted on their Web site at various points.
"Then start calling these bastards. This is war. War!" John and Ken shouted [...]
"We're going to get these heads on a stick!" John and Ken pledged at one point. "Heads on a stick!"
Two of the lawmakers, Mike Duvall and Anthony Adams, actually showed up later in the show. Duvall claimed he was just describing the state of things in Sacramento, while Adams committed the cardinal sin of trying to use reaason on a radio talk show.
Adams, R-Hesperia, went on to defend the possibility of tax hikes. "I think taxes stink," he said. "They suck."
But Adams said raising taxes may be necessary given the political and economic climate.
"I dare with the full knowledge that this will probably be the end of a political career for me. But the fact of the matter is California is in a place where they need people who are willing to sacrifice their own personal agenda for what's right," Adams said.
He was raked over by the radio hosts for his stance.
Said one host: "You guys always talked a tough game, but you always rolled over for the Democrats when it came down to the final vote, so I don't have any sympathy for you. You guys talked, but you didn't act. You always voted with the Democrats, at least enough of you did every single freaking year. And now you're going to come to us for money?"
"Yes," Adam replied.
"No," said the host, as the other laughed. "How about no."
He added, "You may be right about your career."
John and Ken quite literally live in an alternate universe, one where conservatives are under siege and always capitulating to fearsome Democrats rather than the actual one where they have a working majority inside the legislature. Of course, they make millions, and whatever happens to the budget will never affect them personally. They'll go back to their gated communities and never see the poor person who can't get health care, the teacher who is laid off at the school, the construction worker who can't find work because all the public works projects are shut down.
But it's more insidious than that. John and Ken are well-compensated fronts for the Big Money Boyz who want to keep their taxes low and impede the state from providing any services whatsoever. They are close to the masses and can fix them on a target. They can find the Republicans who step out of line and make sure they end their careers. And they take the heat instead of the powerful interests using them as dupes. It's in the same way that Jon Coupal is paid big money to make the Overton Window-shattering claim that there is no budget crisis; that Jon Fleischman is provided with plenty of wingnut welfare to pen anti-union screeds and the like, which are then passed around at the highest levels, even by the supposedly post-partisan governor. By having all these enforcers out there ranting and raving, conservative lawmakers feel empowered to ask for even more in exchange for modest, regressive tax hikes, more than even the state spending cap (which would lead to the strangling of state government) they've already proposed.
Folks like John and Ken are useful idiots, bodyguards for conservative dogma. They mobilize other useful idiots, and in the background the Big Money Boyz rub their hands together and count their coins.