01 November 2002


This is the coolest ever. It is still in its toddler phase, but growing up fast. It needs to, for all of our sakes. Go and read it now!

A side taunt to the Viper with Implants: Ann Slanders, you have been silent through this latest Repugnicant hijacking of our political discourse. Have you decided to keep silent, now that the rest of the media whores have sunk to your level? Or have they kept you so busy instructing them on just how to twist the knife once they have sunk it in just deep enough that you have been too busy to inflict yourself upon our good friend John of late? Or have the deadlines and the insurance hassle and the rest of it got to you, dude? The silence has gotten just long enough to start being ominous…

Now, update your blog, or I shall taunt you a second time…

31 October 2002

Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury…

Okay, the half dozen of you who are watching this site. I know some of you might have actually gone through this exercise while reading about the current liberal bashing being done regarding Paul Wellstone’s memorial service – if so, then bear with me for a minute. Trust me – you’ll feel better about yourself after this one. And to any fellow bloggers who get this after reading this: maybe we can make the Whore Times and Whore Post obsolete after this! I would think that anyone spewing irresponsible filth like this should be made to go back to journalism school. Or, banned from broadcasting by the FCC if they make remarks like this over publicly owned airwaves. Oh – wait. That would mean we’d have to clear Pigboy, AnnThrax, Doc Smeg, er, Meng, er, Laura, and a host of others off the air, too! I think you know what I’m trying to say here, boys and girls…

Exhibit A: This is an actual article written by an actual journalist who actually got paid to “investigate and factually report on current events of significant impact to our daily lives”. Which oddly enough is the definition of a journalist here at the Funny Farm…

Making of a Minnesota Debacle
By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 31, 2002; 8:48 AM
How badly can a political party screw up a memorial service?
Just ask Minnesota's Democrats.
They staged a public farewell for Paul Wellstone that was so over the top, so blatantly partisan, that Jesse Ventura walked out.
"I feel used," the independent governor said afterward. "I feel violated and duped over the fact that it turned into a political rally. . . . I think the Democrats should hang their head in shame."
How did it come to this? It should have been a piece of cake for the DFLers to honor Wellstone in a dignified way, setting the stage for Walter Mondale to accept the nomination last night. After all, 20,000 people showed up. After all, Mondale was riding a wave of emotion without having done a single thing. After all, a new poll has Mondale up 8 points over Norm Coleman.
Instead, Ventura was booed at the service, as was Trent Lott. What sensitivity! They show up to honor a man from a different political party and they're razzed like the opposing team at a Vikings game. In effect, the service was hijacked in a small-minded way that detracted from the memory of Wellstone.
Tom Harkin bellowed: "We pay tribute to a leader – a true DFL liberal! That's right! A DFL liberal, who constantly reminded those of us who are Democrats of the real center of gravity of our party." Son Mark Wellstone thrust his finger in the air and shouted: "We will win! We will win!" At one point, the crowd erupted: "Fritz! Fritz! Fritz!"
Even former Wellstone campaign aides had to apologize.
Will all this tarnish the sudden candidacy of Mondale, who has exactly five days to campaign? Who knows? We suppose it depends on whether voters are considering him as the former senator and Jimmy Carter's vice president, attempting a comeback at 74, or an iconic stand-in for a fallen liberal. If it's the latter, he wins easily, but Coleman and the GOP will do their utmost to run against Mondale the man.
As Coleman told CNN, "It's like running against Mount Rushmore." But he said he may ask "Where's the beef?" – a line that Mondale famously used against Gary Hart in the 1984 presidential primaries. (It was a play on an old Wendy's commercial, for those too young to remember.)
Meanwhile, when is someone going to do a tough piece on Mondale's record, as opposed to all this horse-race analysis?
Let's begin with the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Jesse the Body's reaction:
"Gov. Jesse Ventura said he walked out in the middle of Sen. Paul Wellstone's memorial service Tuesday night when he felt the content became blatantly political, which he said reduced his wife, Terry Ventura, to tears.
"He also told radio interviewers that his disgust with that part of the memorial service may deter him from appointing a Democrat to fill out the remainder of Wellstone's term. He said he is seriously considering appointing an average citizen with no political experience or political interests."
The Minneapolis Star Tribune has Mondale finally taking the reins:
"Walter F. Mondale, who 13 years ago told Minnesotans that it was time for him to stand aside for a new generation of leaders, accepted a U.S. Senate nomination by acclamation from his DFL Party's Central Committee on Wednesday night and will replace the late Sen. Paul Wellstone on the Nov. 5 ballot.
"'I will be your voice. And I will be Paul Wellstone's voice for decency and hope,' said the former vice president, 12-year U.S. Senate member and 1984 Democratic presidential candidate. . . .
"The Mondale campaign didn't wait for the nomination before it got down to business. By yesterday afternoon, it had hired a campaign manager, a press secretary, shot a TV ad and was finalizing details for a series of town hall meetings that will start today at Macalester College in St. Paul.
"The ad was shot by Mandy Grunwald, the Washington, D.C., ad woman who handled Wellstone's advertising for this campaign and in 1996. Lapel buttons were being distributed that said 'Let's Win for Paul' over the words 'One Moe Fritz Blitz,' a reference to DFL gubernatorial candidate Roger Moe and to Mondale's nickname."
National Review's John Miller says Mondale should face the voters:
"Minnesota's GOP chairman Rob Eibensteiner challenged the Democratic nominee to 'five debates over the course of five nights leading up to the election.' That may be excessive – who would want to sit through it all? – but the fundamental point is vital. Mondale has not been an elected official for more than two decades. His views on a series of issues – Iraq, Social Security, the Bush tax cut, even snowmobiling in national parks (Minnesotans care about such things) – are unknown.
"Perhaps Mondale could make a few statements answering these questions. But even this isn't enough. Minnesotans deserve to know if he's up to the challenge of being a senator for the next six years, as he moves from septugenarian to octogenarian. As Minnesota GOP spokesman Bill Walsh puts it, 'He's got to show that he can do this.' Therefore, he must debate."
But Salon's Joe Conason says the governor was out of line:
"Does Jesse Ventura think of himself as a monarch? Appointing an 'independent' to Wellstone's seat instead of a Democrat – as he now threatens to do – would be the ex-wrestler's final big tantrum. He was 'offended' by the partisan tone of one speech, or so he says, and now he intends to punish Wellstone's supporters. What may really be bothering him, and what probably brought tears to Mrs. Ventura's eyes, was the lusty booing he received when they showed his face on the Jumbotron.
"People shouldn't have booed, but it must be hard to suppress that impulse if you're a Minnesotan confronted with Ventura. At that moment, the contrast between this cloddish egomaniac and the late senator must have been unbearable. It's like the difference between being a real wrestling champion and winning staged bouts on TV."
More warnings about a looong night on Nov. 5, this one from USA Today:
"Election Day may well end with individual races and party control of Congress still uncertain, the result of a volatile mix of close races, slow counts, legal challenges, technical glitches and Louisiana's unique system.
"As many as 5 million votes out of a projected 70 million-75 million are likely to be uncounted by midnight Tuesday, says Curtis Gans, director of the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate. The bulk are from Oregon's statewide mail balloting, millions of absentee votes in Washington and California, and up to half the Senate ballots in Minnesota, Gans says.
"The 2000 presidential election, which wasn't decided for 36 days, put parties on notice to prepare for potential legal problems. Democrats are placing lawyers 'in virtually every county in every state where there is a competitive Senate race,' says Marc Elias, counsel to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Republicans are taking similar steps."
Pass the No-Doz.
The outcome could hinge on a couple of people you've never heard of, says the Wall Street Journal:
"Rick Stanley and Daniel Romano are a couple of political unknowns.
"But running from the far right and left, respectively, the two long-shot candidates for the U.S. Senate may be poised to earn a brief moment of national notoriety – as the Ralph Naders of the 2002 campaign. . . .
"A handful of third-party candidates running in battleground states are threatening to tip the balance of power in the fight for the Senate. The development is most notable in Colorado and Missouri. Mr. Stanley, a plant-maintenance supplier from Denver running as a Libertarian, is pulling crucial votes away from incumbent Sen. Wayne Allard, a Republican. The Greens' Mr. Romano, a St. Louis storyteller by trade who goes by the nickname 'digger' – with a lower-case d 'in the spirit of an e.e. cummings,' he says – is vying for liberal votes with Democratic Sen. Jean Carnahan."
The Washington Times has a wire story on the latest White House outreach effort:
"Talk-radio hosts opened their microphones yesterday at the White House to a stream of top officials as President Bush's final sprint to election day took on a carnival feel. "Democrats said it was more like a circus. "There, in a heated tent in the White House's rain-slicked driveway, was Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge chatting up the 'John Boy and Billy Show' out of Charlotte, N.C. – but only after vice presidential counselor Mary Matalin yielded the on-air seat. Charlotte's Republican Rep. Sue Myrick, who is up for re-election Tuesday, also had a turn.
"Six days before the election that will decide control of Congress, 'Radio Day,' a 13-hour talkfest, was but one event that the White House staged to showcase its agenda on issues dear to swing voters (the sputtering economy) and the Republican Party's conservative activists (the confirmation woes of Bush's judicial nominees). . . .
"Democratic Party spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri called the event 'Appease the Right Wing Day at the White House,' and accused the administration of inappropriately mixing the official and political."
Funny, we don't remember the Democrats complaining when the Clinton White House did the same thing – although that wasn't in the final week of a campaign.
In every election, there are last-minute charges of so-called "push polling," very difficult to nail down. As Josh Marshall finds, the Tim Johnson/John Thune Senate race is no exception:
"I spoke to two South Dakota voters who received such calls.
"Ann Boer lives in Lyons, South Dakota. . . . Recently, Mrs. Boer received a survey call. The questioner first asked a few generic questions: leaning more toward Republicans or Democrats, more likely to vote for Thune or Johnson, etc. And then he asked: 'Have you heard about the investigation going on about fraud in registering voters?'
"Boer said yes.
"'And if it was told to you tomorrow that it was Johnson's campaign that was responsible for this [fraud] then would that change your vote?'
"Here's how Boer described the rest of the call: 'I said "no" and then he said "why?" and I said "because I know it's not verified that his campaign is responsible for it." And then he just kind of hurried up and quit.' . . .
"Then there's Kathy Gustafson. A bit after 9:00 PM Monday night Gustafson . . . got a similar call. The caller started out with the standard questions of whether Gustafson leaned more toward the Democrats or the Republicans, whether she supported the NRA, pro-life or pro-choice, etc.
"Then came the zinger. 'If you knew that Tim Johnson had rigged the election, would you still vote for him?'"
Now here's a campaign issue we never expected, courtesy of the Boston Globe:
"It means unsuitable, indecorous, and it's viewed by many as an archaic, ill-fitting corset of a word. When Mitt Romney described Shannon O'Brien's attacks on him in Tuesday night's debate as 'unbecoming,' he raised the ire of her female supporters, who used the description to rally their cause yesterday.
"Teresa Heinz, a philanthropist and wife of Senator John F. Kerry, told a crowd of some 750 women at an O'Brien fund-raiser yesterday that Romney would be surprised at how many 'unbecoming women' were gathered for the event at the Fairmont Copley Plaza hotel.
"Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, a New York Democrat, told the crowd that years ago the ambitions of women who wanted to vote or run for public office were described as 'unbecoming.' Clinton drew roaring applause when she said she found Romney's comments 'unbecoming.'"
Sounds like this is becoming a big deal.
InstaPundit Glenn Reynolds is said to view with disdain a recent New York Times story:
"PASSIVE VOICE SAID TO BE KEY WEAPON IN JOURNALISTIC SUPPORT FOR ANTIWAR MOVEMENT: Well, that's my explanation for the headline over this puff piece in the New York Times, headlined 'Rally in Washington Is Said to Invigorate the Antiwar Movement.'
"As is typical for these pieces in the Times, the quotes are all from demonstrators who say their demonstration was a success. A more accurate headline would be 'Rally in Washington is Said by Ralliers to be Success.' Coming soon: 'Enron Accounting Said to Be Legitimate, Even Noble,' in a story interviewing only Enron accountants. Of course these people think their rally was a success. And of course the Times swallows it whole, because it wants the rally to look successful. Looks like another case of Creeping Rainesism to me.
"Can you imagine the Times giving this treatment to, say, a rally by the Second Amendment Sisters? Of course not. They'd have lots of quotes from people with impressive-sounding credentials saying that the demonstration was a terrible thing for America."
OpinionJournal's James Taranto also critiques the NYT:
"The New York Times profiles a Cairo-based Web site called Islam-Online.net:
"Islam Online says it wants to present a positive view of the faith to non-Muslims, to strengthen unity in the Muslim world and to uphold principles of justice, freedom and human rights. Scholars of the region say they see the Web site as a leading example of efforts by moderate Muslims to push for the Islamization of societies by nonviolent means.
"We wanted to see just how 'moderate' this site really was, so we logged in. Here's some of what we found:
"An article by one Umberine Syed entitled 'The Bush Junta's Class Act: Subservience to Zionist Diktat.' Writes Syed: 'Bush's commitment to the Zionist entity'--that's Israel--has been clearly vetted by the Zionist lobby.'
"A fatwa (religious opinion) endorsing terrorist murder: 'There is a big difference between a mere suicide and "sacrificing one's soul for the sake of one's country." So it is incorrect to term resistant acts staged against aggressors or imperialists as "suicide operations," because these resistant acts, which result in martyrdom, bring tremendous reward.' . . .
"If this is 'moderate,' it's hard to see how anyone can claim Islam--at least as it manifests itself in the Arab world today--is a religion of peace."
Andrew Sullivan ponders the chances of a November Surprise:
"It seems to me completely possible that president Bush will have to make a critical decision in the next week or so on the U.N. and Iraq. . . . That timeline places the president's announcement of a U.N. decision and the U.S. response smack bang in line with the congressional elections.
"The timing isn't Bush's fault. Russia and France are the culprits for dragging their feet for so long. But think of two possible scenarios: the U.S. secures a diplomatic victory and gets U.N. support for its Iraq strategy or the president tells the country we're going to put together the kind of non-U.N.-sponsored coalition that made the Kosovo intervention possible. Either way, it's huge news. I'd say it could be enough to swing the election.
"If Bush gives the U.N. till Friday and the war news dominates the weekend, then we'll have a highly volatile final day or two. This may not happen of course. But in some ways, I think Bush ought to wrap this up before November 5. The war on terror is a critical issue in the country – I'd argue far and away the most critical issue right now – and the voters should know what the executive branch plans before they vote for the legislature. Maybe it will help Republicans. Maybe it will strengthen the argument for divided government, in order to temper a White House going to war. But either way, any decision will knock everything else out of the news cycle. Won't it?"
Of course, such timing might also produce stories about a cynical attempt to manipulate the election.
And just so we don't lose track of all the fun stories, let's turn to the New York Post:
"The estranged wife of GE titan Jack Welch is turning up her nose at a divorce settlement worth $140 million, The Post has learned. The once-golden couple of corporate America split when Welch began an affair with the editor of the Harvard Business Review, who had interviewed him for an article.
"Jane Beasley Welch – a high-profile corporate lawyer and the ex-General Electric chairman's wife of 13 years – is said to be furious over his affair with Suzy Wetlaufer and is after more than half his assets.
"In an affidavit filed in a Connecticut court, the ex-GE boss said his fortune has fallen to just $219.7 million – thanks to the plummeting market and a trust set up for children from his first marriage."
A moment of silence, please.
© 2002 The Washington Post Company

Exhibit B: And now, for some “amateur” journalism from unpaid ordinary people who have been moved to attempt to rebut the “conventional wisdom” being spun upon us by the Media Whores:

Thanks to MWO for taking an uncompromising stand against the utter hypocrisy of the selective outrage over booing, etc expressed by the usual suspects.

The media/politico-bimbos who were "aghast" at the partisanship displayed at the funeral of a unapologetically partisan politician clearly got tips from their morning GOP blastfax. They may not have had the details, but these guys KNEW the funeral was going to be partisan--remember, that's why Dick Cheney wasn't there. The GOP and their wholly-owned media subsidiaries formulated their injured, scandalized response long before the memorial service even took place. I'd be surprised if the service had ended before Drudge put up his headline.

This "Miss Manners for Funerals" pose is just another move on the political chessboard. It reflects nothing more than their efforts to minimize the effect of sympathy voters. That their response involves smearing the bereaved means nothing to them. Would you expect anything else from people who claimed that John McCain's adopted child was his racially-mixed bastard offspring? This is what they do when there's a tough campaign on.

Paula Zahn (who likely read her blastfax as she limoed in to the studio) reminds me of Cinderella's evil stepmother after she's discovered a spot on the carpet. Her prim tsk-tsking at the bad manners of a few can't conceal her vicious delight at having yet another opportunity to bash her favorite scapegoat--liberal Democrats. I'm glad MWO, James Carville, Conason, Lyons, and other passionate Democrats choose not to act like Cinderella in their own response to this latest stupidity. Democrats are NOT abused children. We don't have to sit by the ashes or wear rags, and we should never apologize for something that requires no apology.


Greetings MWO -

Here in Minnesota, as well as across the country, many of us are still reeling from the deaths of Paul and Shelia Wellstone and all who were with them on that plane. To add to this grief we now have sanctimonious Republicans telling us what proper memorial etiquette should be. Well, when they are in the same situation they can preach how we should carry out a memorial. They are calling for equal television and radio air time - insulting. What do they think? Having our candidate dead is a brilliant political strategy for air time? It is disgusting the way many are denouncing what was an incredibly moving tribute to Paul, Shelia, Marcia and those who worked with them to achieve social justice through political activity and activism. How dare these people judge! Do they forget that David and Mark Wellstone lost not only their sister, not only their mother, not only their father, but all three of these family members! Their children no longer have an aunt or grandparents, Marcia's children no longer have a mother, her husband is now a widow. These people who decry the memorial should be ashamed of themselves, but are they? No - of course not! They are steeped in their self-righteous "moral outrage" at the political overtones of the memorial. What did they expect?! Paul and Shelia Wellstone had the courage of their convictions and they utilized government for the betterment of people's lives. Of course it was going to be political! I agree with others - they just couldn't stand seeing that many people celebrating the life of this great man and vowing to carry on the good fight in his name.

The whores are already playing into the hands of these false moralists. Last night on WCCO (a local CBS affiliate) the newscaster referred to the memorial as a political rally!

Even our embarrassment of a governor said that he felt "duped" at the political overtones of the memorial. I imagine that "duped" is how many of the college students who voted for him felt after he raised their tuition and reduced their state funding. The chilly reception that he received from the crowd at Williams Arena made his poor wife cry. Now that is a tragedy - never mind the death of eight people - the open expression of feeling from his constituents who have disdain for him and the way he has abused the power of his position, that is almost too much to bear. Even with this hardship, Jesse and Terry looked like they were o.k. because they sure were enjoying that pack of Bubble Yum they brought with them...mmm-mmm. Whenever this dynamic duo was featured on the jumbo screen their jaws and lips were a' smackin' that fabulous gum - now that's class!

Speaking of class - I think that it is really classy of the "president" to finally come to Minnesota and pay his respects to our beloved Senator. Oh wait, my mistake, he is coming to Minnesota but he is only coming to do some more campaigning for his buddy Republican candidate Norm Coleman. I guess that makes about four trips to our great state so far this year - way to keep your travel staff busy this political season Shrub! Lord knows in this economy they could sure use the overtime.

Thank you MWO for all that you do! Keep up the great work!

St. Cloud, MN


I watched the Wellstone memorial, and I, too, cringed when I heard Mr. Kahn exhort the Republicans in the building to join the DFL swell.

It was, to my remaining ear, extraordinarily wrong-headed.

But Mr. Kahn is not a speaker. He is a young political volunteer who was a dear friend of Paul's. And on stage he appeared to be acting out of the deepest emotions -- love, grief, confusion, and revenge.

His words were not vetted by anyone, so he pulled off a kind of sneak attack.

And of course, the papers were full this morning with wonderfully vetted 75-word letters of indignation.

The thread of these letters is that the Democrats have lost any rights to sympathy, because they "took advantage" of the funeral setting to speak their minds. And that the GOP deserves 2 hours of free air time.

Well, the GOTV part of Khan's talk, and of David Wellstone's later --the only two flamingly "political" remembrances -- did not exceed 15 minutes, total. They were just excessive moments in an evening that did transcend politics. (Though I wonder what Paul would have made of the phrase "transcend politics.")

Let's remind one another also that that is what funerals are for -- to weep, gnash teeth, call down the gods. People rend their clothing. They do crazy things.

I have stood up to testify several times -- when the service was open enough to encourage that -- and I have wept and said entirely inappropriate things from the heart.

I especially remember speaking to the dead young friend from the dais once, following a hideous death from cancer, and telling her "thank you," and wondering if anyone present understood how I could be grateful for her death.


What's not crazy is the GOP trying to capitalize on the excesses of grief... blaming the entire DFL for the laments and exhortations of one young man ... and thinking it has the right to air time to combat a candidate who is no longer up for election, because he has died.

That's one kind of equal time no one wishes for. But I would give it and a hundred more hours to have Paul Wellstone among us again.
Mike Finley

Write to these addresses to tell the local media to stop letting the Republicans have the news cycles to do their nationwide orchestrated (yes, orchestrated -- FreeRepublic.com and Lucianne.com, to name but two neo-Nazi sites, are behind much of this) "outrage" over one short portion of one short speech of the many dozens of speeches and musical performances that made up this six-hour-long (it actually started at 4:30, when the doors opened!) memorial tribute and celebration of Paul and Sheila Wellstone's lives:

programming@kstp.com (local TV/radio station)
opinion@startribune.com (Minneapolis StarTribune)
letters@pioneerpress.com (St. Paul Pioneer Press)

Tamara Baker


After reading the comments by Russ DiBello of NYC about the KARE-11 (Minneapolis NBC affiliate) coverage of the Wellstone memorial I thought I would offer my thoughts as well. I watched the service on WCCO-4, the local CBS affiliate, and the on air commentary by the local news staff was much along the same lines.

Seconds after the conclusion of the service a WCCO reporter at Williams arena was describing how his cell phone had begun to ring incessantly shortly after the start of Rick Kahn's eulogy. Who were the callers? The reporter described them as "Republican operatives" who were overcome with rage because they felt that Paul Wellstone had just gotten a free three-hour political ad broadcast on all the major stations. The "outrage" continued to shape much of the following broadcast that evening as well as much of today's print and broadcast news as well. As an aside, I found myself wondering why so many Republican operatives had this reporter's cell phone number and were able to reach him during the service.

A few items that bear mentioning: Jesse Ventura and Trent Lott both walked out of the service after the start of Rick Kahn's eulogy. I guess they couldn't bear to listen to the heartfelt words of someone with opinions different from theirs. No one required any media outlet to broadcast the memorial. The media chose to air a live broadcast of an unscripted event, and now they act appalled because something outside of their control went out over the air. Nevermind that they do this all the time when they are broadcasting live about crime, death, and disaster. How can they feign shock and surprise that politics came up at the service for an unrepentant Progressive and 30,000 of his supporters? Surely no one can be surprised that everyone at that arena has a heartfelt desire to see a Democrat defeat Norm Coleman on November 5. During the service, no one mentioned the name of Walter Mondale even once. People who supported Paul Wellstone simply want to see his ideals carry this election.

Joseph Ford
Minneapolis, MN

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I ask you: OF the two Exhibits above, which seems like better journalism to you? Which ones try and tell the truth,and which make salacious, unfounded, and inaccurate statements? Thanks to Media Whores Online for leading by example for us!

30 October 2002

Yer Basic Force For Good In Our Time...

Tom, thanks for another donation.
People like you keep me going.

Thanks again, and tell Allyson I said "Hi!"



Right back at ya! Come take a look at The Funny Farm here in Blogspot one of these days. It's the latest addition to my Website family... and where I've been venting since I got back from BartFest.
Boy, it sure has been different this voting season, hasn't it? I finally got a Democratic call yesterday – from Jennifer Granholm herself, asking me to support someone else on the Dem ticket. Quite different from the other call from the Repugs again along with the Granholm call. Which only goes to show… the eleventh reason to vote Dem this time? :D I’ll be wearing a clothespin on my nose when I go into the polls, but I will probably just mark the straight Dem ticket line this time. I refuse to watch any of the paid for pap that is being slung across the public media, but I still monitor some of the more ludicrous stuff. Hey – some people like horror movies. Lucianne, Freeperville and LNW HQ frighten me far more effectively these days.
Keep the hammer pounding! Let’s see if HammerHeads can outnumber Ditto Monkeys at the polls next week!

Ta Ta For Now – Live Long And Prosper

29 October 2002

Fun With Words

Okay, kids – can you say ‘NRA’ ?

for N might I suggest: Nefarious, Name-Calling, Nauseating, Necrotic, Niggardly (we sincerely apologize to those in the African-American, or for that matter, any minority group - we are using the true original meaning of this term here),
for R might I suggest: Rancid, Regurgitated, Rabid, Roisterous, Repugnant
for A might I suggest: Aggravators, Apocryphalists, Asphyxiators, Archdemons, Anarchists (we apologize to any anarchists we have offended too! …unless you’re a gun-nut right-wing anarchist whacko, that is…)

Top Ten Reasons I’m Voting Democratic

10. I’m not a bigot or a self-centered jerk.
9. Multi-national corporations don’t NEED welfare.
8. World War III still seems like a bad idea.
7. Despite Katherine Harris and The Supreme Court goons, I still believe in democracy.
6. Dick Cheney is really Darth Vader.
5. It will piss off Rush Limbaugh and FOX.
4. DumbYa makes Dan Quayle look like a genius.
3. The environment is supposed to be non-toxic.
2. It’s The Economy, Stupid – Part II

And, the number one reason I’m voting Democratic:
1 Under Democrats, only interns get screwed!

Thanks, bartcop!

A letter to mwo!

Of to work I go. Before I do – something everyone should read. Particularly if you vote in Michigan in the election coming up. If you know anyone else who is and who is not aware of the situation, but watches TV – and might possibly buy and/or spout the swill currently being run by the Friends of Dick the Dead Guy – please point them to this weblog. Before they start voting Repugnicant at the polls in a couple of days. Please?

Hi mwo!

I haven't seen any mention of the situation here in Michigan on your pages, so I thought I would tell you about the nonsense going on in this race. Posthumous (R) and Granholm (D) are the two (bought and paid for) candidates we have to decide between. I have seen the ads on the TV airing at a rate of approximately 3(R) to 1(D), but the fact that this can happen now that the 'equal time for opposite viewpoint' regs are gone from the airwaves is another problem, to be discussed at another time. You were concerned about inaccuracies in the ads themselves. And the ones here are a bunch of whoppers! This has been out in the Metro Times, the local alternative newspaper here in metro Detroit, since last Tuesday: (I've been trying to link to the story itself since then, but you have to go to www.metrotimes.com and find it, along with any of the links it goes to - and it's about to go into the archives)

Upping the ante
Using race to stir the pot in Michigan's gubernatorial election.
Darwin Vander Ark does not see it. Not at all.
A supervisor and assessor for western Michigan’s Leighton Township, he’s standing outside a Grand Rapids television station on this evening in early October to cheer on Lt. Gov. Dick Posthumus, who is poised to debate Democratic gubernatorial rival Jennifer Granholm.
Supporters of Granholm have shown up as well, and several of them wave placards featuring a recent Detroit News headline that declares, “Posthumus plays the race card.”
Vander Ark, 56, and a GOP stalwart, considers the allegation ridiculous.
Like just about everybody else in the state, he’s seen the Posthumus commercial focusing attention on a now-infamous memo generated by the administration of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. It proposed a detailed campaign to generate as many as 280,000 votes for Granholm in return for guarantees that African-Americans will play a significant role in her administration and that Detroit minority-owned businesses will reap substantial benefits from state contracts.
The memo, which is dated Aug. 28, first came to light in “an eyebrow-raising exclusive” aired in mid-September on television station WKBD-TV 50. And then … nothing. Disclosure of the document initially exploded with all the power of a cap pistol. It wasn’t until nearly two weeks later, after the state Republican Party began blitzing the airwaves with an ad highlighting the memo, that campaign watchers were talking about little else.
Since then the ante has been raised, with Republicans airing two new ads — including one lambasting Granholm for her position on reparations — that have intensified the cry that Posthumus is employing racially divisive tactics in a desperate attempt to claw his way back into contention. Polls released last week showed Granholm holding a lead of about 12 percentage points, but large numbers of voters remained undecided and at least one pollster was predicting the race would narrow considerably in the campaign’s closing days.
If nothing else, the attack has put front-runner Granholm on the defensive, forcing her to respond with a commercial defending her position on reparations.
So here we are, on the verge of an election that will determine the political direction of Michigan for the next four years. The state faces a deficit of a billion dollars or more. Classrooms are overcrowded. Fish in many of the state’s lakes are too contaminated for children and pregnant women to eat. Roads must be repaired. Jail cells are jammed full of the mentally ill.
And we’re watching campaign commercials about a memo that was apparently never sent and the highly polarizing issue of reparations.
What the hell’s going on?
Ad nauseam
From where Vander Ark sits, allegations that Posthumus is playing the race card hold no water.
“On our side of the sate, that is simply not an issue,” he says. “All of the discussion over here is about the memo, and who’s going to be running the show if Granholm is elected.”
The way he sees it, if Granholm is elected, the Wayne County political machine and Kwame Kilpatrick will call the shots.
An editorial in the Grand Rapids Press reflects many of the points Vander Ark makes, including the contention that the only ones making race an issue are the Democrats.
“The Republican candidate has made mistakes in this campaign, but ‘playing the race card’ isn’t one of them,” observe the Press’ editorial writers. “Race indeed has been introduced into the campaign, however it started not with Mr. Posthumus but with Mayor Kilpatrick’s memo and its race-keyed references to issues and jobs.”
And, it can be argued, it’s not just in his requests for jobs and contracts that Kilpatrick makes race an issue. In a realm where much is made of so-called “code words,” the memo employs what can easily be interpreted as containing some encryption of its own when pointing out that Detroiters have substantially different problems than those experienced by “soccer moms” in suburban Oakland County.
Does anyone doubt that to be a reference to affluent whites?
Kilpatrick’s office did not respond to requests seeking his comments for this article. But no one the Metro Times did talk to in reporting this story would refute that contention.
“That was a very poor choice of words,” says Detroit political consultant and TV pundit Mario Morrow. “Out of that entire memo, that is probably the thing that Jennifer Granholm regrets most. Her core constituents are soccer moms. They are a major voting bloc right now.”
The point apparently lost on the Grand Rapids Press and everyone else subscribing to its viewpoint is that any race cards dealt by the Kilpatrick administration were intended to be played in private. The memo, if anything, offered a peek into an attempt at back-room deal-cutting, not talking points Granholm intended to highlight in her campaign.
It is the GOP and Posthumus that have made the memo a focal point, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep the commercial attacking it in heavy rotation. He may claim during debates to be running a campaign based on issues, but until his new commercials hit the air this past weekend the only issue regularly being highlighted in 30-second segments features the petite and pretty Nordic blonde Granholm rubbing shoulders with the imposing black mass of Kilpatrick.
Look at that commercial carefully. You can find it posted on the state Republican Party’s Web site at www.migop.org.
Parse the piece frame by frame and you notice that Granholm’s picture, though not vibrant, is nonetheless in color. Kilpatrick, on the other hand, although wearing a suit that appears to have a blue tint, is shown devoid of all natural color, adding a decidedly menacing touch.
That doesn’t happen by accident.
Subtle bigotry
In her book The Race Card, Princeton University political science professor Tali Mendelberg posits the notion that political campaigns attempting to capitalize on undercurrents of white racism are most successful when their messages are implied rather than explicit.
Take, for example, one of the best-known commercials of this ilk: the “Willie Horton” ad run by George Bush in his 1988 presidential campaign.
“Americans remember the presidential election of 1988 as the Willie Horton election,” writes Mendelberg. “A young black man convicted of murder and sentenced to life in a Massachusetts prison, Horton escaped while on furlough and assaulted a white couple in their home, raping the woman. George Bush made Horton a household name by repeatedly mentioning Horton’s story and pinning the blame on his Democratic opponent, Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis.”
“In the aftermath of the campaign,” continues Mendelberg, “scholars and commentators concluded that Bush won through negative attacks that distorted the truth and mangled the issue of crime, attacks that Dukakis was too inept to counter. But for all that the Horton story has been vilified as the epitome of dirty campaigning, we still have not grasped the most significant aspect of the campaign: it communicated about race implicitly. In fact, the racial message was communicated most effectively when no one noticed its racial meaning.” (Note: These are Mendelberg’s italics.)
It is when race goes from “subtext to text” that such tactics suffer, concludes Mendelberg.
“My book documents this fact extensively, using experiments (some run in Michigan) and the National Election Study, an academic survey of a national sample of voters,” she tells Metro Times. “The reason is that many white voters truly wish to avoid behaving in a racist fashion. So when they are alerted to the possible racist content of a message, they react against it. Only when the negative racial reference is ambiguous do they respond to it because it works largely outside of their awareness.”
The reason experiments show people responding to implicitly racist messages while rejecting more overt appeals can be explained by an American political system Mendelberg contends embraces two contradictory sentiments: “Powerful egalitarian norms about race, and a party system based on the cleavage of race.” So, for Republicans to be successful, they need to avoid tarnishing the ideal of racial equality while at the same time mobilizing white voters who “resent blacks’ claims for public resources and hold negative racial stereotypes regarding work, violence and sexuality.”
Asked specifically about Posthumus’ memo commercial, Mendelberg says it appears to follow patterns established in other campaigns that insinuate African-American leaders as inherently corrupt.
“That was true during the election of Harold Washington to mayor of Chicago in 1983, the first time an African-American became the mayor of that city,” she explains. “Washington was accused of financial improprieties and some of his opponents tried to play on white fears of a black takeover.”
“The current gubernatorial campaign in Michigan fits this pattern,” Mendelberg says. “An African-American leader is shown in a threatening image with ominous music playing in the background and corruption as the main theme. By corruption I mean the ad’s suggestion that the mayor is essentially buying concessions in an underhanded way. Corruption seems to be the primary issue and that allows the messenger to evoke negative racial associations and racial threats in a seemingly incidental and deniable way.”
Motivating Detroit
“This is all very fascinating from an academic point of view,” observes Nicholas Valentino, a political science professor at the University of Michigan.
Also writing a book on the subject, he agrees with Mendelberg that ads seeking to trigger racist sentiments are most effective “when they come in under the radar.”
“To the extent that a message is ambiguous, acting almost subconsciously to remind us of its racial meaning — that is what makes it effective. If it is not ambiguous, not deniable, it will be ineffective. Even in the western part of the state, people would not be likely to vote for a candidate who is outwardly racist.”
The problem Posthumus may face is that the memo commercial, when coupled with the reparations and welfare ads unleashed last week, may be waging a campaign that is so overtly racist that moderate voters will reject his message. Conversely, Granholm was particularly astute in her response to the implications of the memo ad. When the issue has been raised during debates, she didn’t label it as racist. Instead, she simply called the attack “divisive,” driving a wedge between city and suburb, eastern Michigan from western.
More code, says Valentino. “She doesn’t want to be accused of openly playing the race card either,” he observes. As with attacks, parries are more effective when subtly cued.
For its part, the Posthumus team flatly denies they’re the ones injecting race into the campaign. Take the issue of reparations. Posthumus spokesman Sage Eastman says it was Granholm who made it a factor in the campaign by airing her views on the subject to the NAACP during the primary.
“She’s the one who played the race card by talking about reparations,” contends Eastman. “Public officials need to be held accountable for their public statements.”
No doubt. But it is the Posthumus camp that decided to make those little-noticed statements made during the summer a focal point for voters as Election Day nears.
Morrow calls it a “desperado” tactic, because bringing such a polarizing issue to the fore carries an inherent risk.
“It’s not a simple strategic choice to make,” agrees Valentino.
For one thing, candidates who choose to make race an issue run the risk of energizing minority voters to turn out against them. It is part of a basic political calculation, votes gained vs. votes generated for the opposition.
“What they’re hoping is that they don’t increase the number of Granholm supporters going to the polls,” says Morrow. “But I think they are in for a rude awakening. I think the effect has been to motivate people in Detroit.” The flip side of that coin is that the state’s changing demographics makes attacking Detroit a more attractive option for politicians attempting to gain out-state support. With the city’s population below 960,000 at the last census count and continuing to decline, the city is losing clout at the polls.
“Republicans know they aren’t going to get any votes from African-Americans,” says Steve Mitchell, a Lansing consultant and pollster who has worked for both Kilpatrick and Posthumus in the past. “Ninety percent of African-Americans are going to vote for the Democratic Party. With that in mind, the Republicans see no loss in pointing out something like the Kilpatrick memo to suburban and outstate voters who will be offended by that request.”
Which is why some longtime observers of Michigan politics contend that attack ads such as the one targeting the Kilpatrick memo would have been made regardless of color.
“Detroit-bashing is a grand old tradition in Michigan politics,” says pundit Bill Ballenger, publisher of the Inside Michigan Politics newsletter. As far back as the end of the 19th century, and through the 1950s when Detroit remained predominantly white, candidates outstate used attacks on the city to gain office, says Ballenger. And it’s not just a Michigan phenomenon, he contends. Whether you’re looking at Chicago in relation to downstate interests or Omaha and the rest of Nebraska, there is inevitably an inherent conflict between the interests of a state’s major urban centers and those of suburban and rural areas. Which is why Ballenger — a former GOP state legislator who was interviewed prior to the release of the latest Posthumus commercials — considers allegations that the Republicans are playing race cards to be “horse manure.”
Republican Oakland County executive L. Brooks Patterson shares that view.
The way Patterson sees it, crying “racism” is a form of refuge for those who have no other way to counter legitimate criticisms. Call it playing the race card in reverse.
“It’s a weak scare tactic,” claims Patterson.
It also puts Republicans in the position of being labeled racists whenever they criticize Detroit.
“If I want to mention Detroit in some of my comments, I should be able to do so,” asserts Patterson. “And saying it’s supposed to be a code word for race is bullshit.”
South of Eight Mile Road the perspective is decidedly different.
Speaking specifically to the memo commercial, the Rev. Wendell Anthony, leader of the Detroit branch of the NAACP, is convinced that the ad was a calculated decision by a campaign trailing in the polls attempting to “ignite the passions of people who don’t know Detroit well, who don’t know African-Americans well. Beating up on Detroit sells in certain parts of Michigan and Dick Posthumus is banking on that.”
But it’s not just African-American Detroiters who have watched in dismay as this campaign has played out.
“I’m appalled and disappointed, and I think some moderate Republicans are as well,” says Democrat John Austin, a senior program manager for Public Policy Associates, a Lansing-based firm that provides research and policy analysis to government agencies and private sector organizations.
“In his desperation, what Dick Posthumus is doing is very counterproductive. We live in one of the most racially polarized and segregated states in the country. We need leadership that helps us change that, not just from the aspect of human decency and justice, but for us to thrive economically. We need to convince white voters that they have a stake in Detroit and need to work with it.
“We need leadership that will help us deal with our racial problems, which are huge in Michigan. We need leadership that will help bring us together and identify the needs of Detroit and white citizens outside of Detroit as a common set of interests. We need to convince white voters that they have a stake in Detroit and need to work with it. This type of talk that pits the city against the rest of Michigan shoots us in the foot.”
Read the now-infamous memo generated by the administration of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

Curt Guyette is Metro Times news editor. He can be reached at cguyette@metrotimes.com or 313-202-8004.


I have now seen the ads (I don't normally watch a lot of TV, and so don't know a lot about the propaganda filtering to us through, well, anybody... until it stirs the brains of the masses, of course...), and can personally confirm that they are taking Granholm's remarks completely out of context. The local Faux network is running much more Repugnicant posturing. So is CBS. Hmmm.... amazing since they're both owned by the same people! I see some Granholm on ABC and NBC, but again much more of the Repugs than anything else. I have not seen any third party ads at all - also interesting in Michael Moore's home state. Where I believe he's running some sort of election campaign coverage in the old Flint plant?

I have also received at least five voice mails from various faux 'representatives of the people' (teachers, fire fighters[!], Dead Dick's Daughter, AG candidate Cox in a plea to vote straight Repugnicant when I get into the booth). Yes, I am keeping tabs on who is trying to influence my decision in this manner, but not in the manner that the people running the ads intended. I regard these in the same way as I do telemarketers - an intrusion into my privacy. But then again, with the Patriot Act, I guess Repugnicants feel they are allowed to do it. Oh, and by the way... I have received no voice exhortations from the Democratic party. None. Do you think they possibly know which way I view the political landscape (because they know which way I vote, too...) and (wisely) choose to spend their time and effort elsewhere?

Thanks for telling us all about the sliming going on all across the country by these thugs. Keep on providing some alternatives to the Media Whore spewage which still manages to penetrate my cranium despite a conscious effort to avoid it. And with (p)Resident Do-As-I-Say,Not-As-I-Do 'leading' the way, it will soon permeate every level of my existence. Unless we show up with a clear voice at the polls, that is.
And, no more vacations until after the election, okay?


(: Tom :)

28 October 2002

An open letter to Michael Moore

I’m just catching up on a news worthy weekend – the protests appeared to go off pretty well, but I haven’t checked in on everything yet. In the meantime, Boy Blunder makes China an offer they can’t refuse. And then they do… so he turns to his old friend Vincente Fox of Mexico. Who also didn’t enthusiastically support our Appointed One on his “God” given mission to rid us all of So Damn Insane. So our (p)Resident showed the world a fine example of how classy Americans are by throwing a hissy fit. Note to the rest of the world: We’re not all like that. Really. You’ve never met a preppie snot-nosed smug elitist who’s so rich he could buy your entire neighborhood if he fancied it in the flesh, have you? Me either. But he certainly is nothing like an average American. A lot of us would like to apologize to the rest of the world for inflicting him on you, but there were only 9 people whose votes counted in 2000, and 5 of them will vote Republican in their judgements until they retire from the Supreme Court. So we are afraid we have no way of voicing our concerns these days…

Anyways,… I was catching up on the news as stated earlier, and came across an article at MWO asking to write a letter to Michael Moore. This is what my addled pate came up with on the sperm of the moment. Enjoy!

Hi Mike!

I wanted to let you know that I did not sign your recent pledge to vote against any Democrats who supported Drinky McDumbAss in his insane crusade against So Damn Insane. Sheesh, is this a guy who was supposed to be the moral and ethical alternative to our previous shameful president? His morals were so low that he actually put the well-being of the average American ahead of the greedy corpo-weasels. Can you imagine? But even he was forced to deal with the devilish Republicans from time to time. So, while I can not in good conscience support the stand of many of the "Democrats" who were dumb enough to fall in line with the Boy Usurper, I also cannot pledge to vote against them. I would think that you should ask your many supporters to turn out in force against the Republican candidates. Ask them to call the Republican offices and explain and/or justify their many many more unfair elitist platform positions. Get them to point out the discrepancies between what Smirk, Pencil Dick, AssKKKcroft, and the rest of the junta have been doing to advance their right wing elitist agenda, and what they claim to be doing for America.

I personally would love to see other parties than the big 2 filling more of the seats in the many legislatures. However, first I would like to make sure I will still be able to vote, and that we will continue to have elections. If we fragment too much, and don't stop the Republicans from winning (remember how you won your first election?), we might not have a Bill of Rights left by the time the junta wants to install a permanent Anointed One. So, please change the message a bit in these last crucial weeks? Ask people to vote against the Republicans - put a Democrat in the position if you have to, and something better if you have a chance, but don't let the Republicans win. Then the terrorists win, too...


(: Tom :)

P.S. I will be seeing Bowling for Columbine this week - it's the least I can do, what with all the unintentional support I am forced to give to the BFEE through their many government channels on an almost daily basis. Keep up your good works.
P.P.S. You wouldn't know any rich liberals willing to finance BartCop radio, would you?