Finally, I understand why Dubya thought he could see into Putin’s soul. It came to me as I read an AP article about the way Nikita Krushchev’s son is being slandered in Russia.

Kruscheva, 68, the granddaughter of Soviet leader Nikita ­Khrushchev, has filed a series of lawsuits against a state-owned TV network for airing a docudrama that, she says, falsely depicts her father, Leonid, as having been shot as a traitor in World War II.

These allegations of her father’s treachery, which historians dismiss, have been published more than a dozen times in books, magazines and newspapers in the post-Soviet era.

Some members of the Khrushchev family and others say the persistent rumor is part of a political battle, in which the champions of a strengthened state have tried to weaken democratic institutions.

The aim, they say, is to burnish the reputation of leaders such as former President ­Vladimir Putin and Josef Stalin, by tarnishing that of Nikita Khrushchev – who denounced Stalin’s mass arrests, executions and deportations in a secret 1956 speech to the Communist Party leadership that later became public.

The tactic, they say, is to smear the son with a bogus charge in order to defame his famous father.


Irina Shcherbakova of the Memorial, a human rights group based in Moscow, said authorities “undoubtedly” helped spread the rumors of Leonid Khrushchev’s alleged execution, as part of Russia’s epic struggle between authoritarianism and reform – of which ­Stalin and Khrushchev are the two icons.

Official accounts say that Leonid Krushchev was a fighter pilot during World War II and that he disappeared during an air battle. Shades of swiftboating in 2004.

But swiftboating Leonid Krushchev and John Kerry is only one screwdriver in the Liar’s Toolbox.  Whatever lies it takes to get all the power concentrated in your hands, those are the lies you tell. Putin knows it, as do Bush and Cheney. Another kindred soul,  Hermann Goering explained as much at his war crimes trial:

“Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.”

Shades of “You’re either with us or against us.”

Joseph Heller understood the tactic. In Catch-22, he had a power grubbing officer say to a pilot who dared resist his abuse of power: “”You’re either for us or against your country.'”

The lesson I drew from the account of Putin’s people slandering Krushchev’s son is that fascists lie, no matter what country they inhabit. Of course Georgie felt an affinity for Vladimir.

Here are other lies from just this past week:

  • An internet whispering campaign says that Obama spurned chances to shake the hands of servicemen in Afghanistan in favor of a photo op of him playing basketball. Liberals are good at using the internet for fundraising and blogging. Republicans use it for darker purposes.

In Missouri, Democrats are facing robocalls before the primary vote is even over, as Republicans try to take out the strongest Dem candidates in two statewide races:

  • State treasurer candidate Clint Zweifel is targeted by robocalls:

    In one robocall, Democratic treasurer candidate Clint Zweifel is accused of saying “no” to everything from “low-income energy assistance” and “school lunches for our kids” to “prescription drugs and medical care for seniors.”

    Since the attack comes from an anonymous woman’s voice, we can’t ask the sponsor to back up the allegations. But they certainly don’t ring true.

    Zweifel, a Teamsters official, has been an outspoken critic of the Medicaid cuts and the sale of student loan assets. He has offered tax-cut plans for seniors and working families. Zweifel is the best-funded candidate in a four-way Democratic primary for treasurer.

    It’s a backhanded compliment, really. Republicans apparently fear facing Zweifel in that race.

  • Sam Page, one of six candidates running for Lieutenant Governor, is being targeted two ways: first by robocalls that distort his record and, worse yet, by calls purporting to be from Page himself–in the middle of the night. Sometimes several times a night to a given household.

    Somebody is yanking hard at the rug under Page. Not only is he far and away the front runner in that race, but–for the majority of voters who will know nothing about the candidates but who will feel it is their civic duty to vote for someone anyway–Page is first on the ballot and has a simple, nonthreatening name (unlike Zweifel). So he has two big advantages over the other Democratic candidates. (By the way, Page’s main opposition insists he is NOT behind the robocalls.)

    Given that Republicans would rather not face Page in November, that middle of the night phone calling, supposedly from Page? It’s a brilliant little strategy–for someone with no conscience.