HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN:

HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN - city of big bottoms and small minds.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Ashamed to be Considered Part of Palin's Real America -- enough With the Divisive Politics!!


With the good weather of autumn rapidly closing down, last week Kim and I took a lengthy (for me, anyway) bicycle jaunt along the Chippewa River Bike Trail. In addition to the beauty of the autumn colors, we had the sun sparkling of the flowing waters of the Chippewa River.

The only side effect? Incredibly painful "charlie horse" the following morning at 3 AM! the kind that makes you sit up screaming every curse word you have ever used and then some.

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I enjoyed last weekend immensely, starting with the Jack Harmon Chicken Dinner -- I have perfect attendance!-- on thursday night with Doug Cox and Bob Carr again -- this time joined by singer-songwriter Jerry Way who has b een a friend of mine for 100 years.

Friday night I got to entertain The Wisconsin Nursing Association at the Plaza Hotel in the Two Rivers room -- the same room where I did my CD release party some years ago. The show went really well -- although I went over by 15 minutes --.

Saturday afternoon Kim and I went to the Blugold/River Falls Football game -- again the sun cooperated, but Lady Luck went elsewhere and the Blugolds dropped the ball and the game.

Sunday, because I don't get CBS, I went over to Doug Cox's pad and we watched the Packers trounce the Colts. I am hoping that this is the beginning of the Packers going on a tear the rest of the season. As long as "A-Rodg" stays healthy, we might win a few more.

We will have our hands full with the Tennessee Titans as they always play us tough.

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I can't believe how nasty this damn political race is getting. McCain has the nerve, during the last debate to refer to ACORN as perhaps the biggest example of voter fraud ever, but the press seems to be ignoring this story:


According to campaign finance records, a joint committee of the McCain-Palin campaign, the RNC and the the California Republican Party, made a $175,000 payment to the group Lincoln Strategy in June for purposes of "registering voters." The managing partner of that firm is Nathan Sproul, a renowned GOP operative who has been investigated on multiple occasions for suppressing Democratic voter turnout, throwing away registration forms and even spearheading efforts to get Ralph Nader on ballots to hinder the Democratic ticket.

In a letter to the Justice Department last October, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers said that that Sproul's alleged activities "clearly suppress votes and violate the law."

That Sproul would come under the employment umbrella of the McCain campaign -- the Republican National Committee has also separately paid Lincoln Strategy at least $37,000 for voter registration efforts this cycle -- is not terribly surprising. Sproul, who has donated nearly $30,000 to McCain's campaign, has been in the good graces of GOP officials for the past decade despite charges of ethical and potentially legal wrongdoing.

But his involvement with the Republican Party's voter registration efforts has the potential to create a political and public relations headache at a time when McCain can ill-afford one. For weeks the Arizona Republican and his allies have been seeking to tie Barack Obama to the community organization ACORN, which they have accused of potentially committing massive voter registration fraud. Sproul's contract with the GOP ticket -- in addition to news of Republican officials attempting to suppress Democratic turnout in California -- raises, for some, questions about McCain's own efforts.

"It should certainly take away from McCain's argument," said Bob Grossfeld, a progressive political consultant based in Arizona who has followed Sproul's career. "Without knowing anything of what is going on with ACORN, there is a clear history with Mr. Sproul either going over the line or sure as hell kicking dirt on it, and doing it for profit and usually fairly substantive profit."

As Republican Congressman Chris Cannon summarized during a joint hearing for the subcommittee on commercial and administrative law back in May 2008: "The difference between ACORN and Sproul is that ACORN doesn't throw away or change registration documents after they have been filled out."

Indeed, Sproul's history is filled with allegations of political misdeeds. During the 2004 election, Sproul & Associates (the former name of Lincoln Strategy) was accused of attempting to destroy forms collected by Democratic voters in Nevada. That same year in Oregon, Sproul & Associates allegedly instructed canvassers to only accept Republican registration forms in addition to destroying those turned in by Democrats.

Story continues below

In Minnesota, meanwhile, Sproul's firm was accused of actually firing workers who brought back Democratic registration forms, while other canvassers were allegedly paid "$13 an hour, with the $3 bonus for every Bush, undecided or Ralph Nader voter registration." Similar problems related to Sproul & Associates popped up in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

All of this was executed, it seems, through an elaborate web of deception. As Salon.com wrote back in 2004:

Canvassers were told to act as if they were nonpartisan, to hide that they were working for the RNC, especially if approached by the media... In letters the firm sent to the libraries, Sproul misrepresented itself as America Votes -- a left-leaning national voter registration group not affiliated with Sproul -- but said that it was interested in registering "all those who wish to register to vote." Shortly after Sproul canvassers began working the libraries, though, patrons began complaining that the canvassers were being especially inquisitive about their political leanings, and some were pushing people to register as Republicans.
Sproul has denied those charges, claiming often that his registration efforts were bipartisan and that any suggestion otherwise was nothing more than the testimony of disgruntled former employees. He did not return a request for comment for this article.

But there has been a wide array of public complaint over the scope and nefariousness of his activities. Sens. Patrick Leahy and Ted Kennedy sent a letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft in 2004 asking that the Justice Department "launch an immediate investigation into the activities of Mr. Sproul and his firm." Three years later, members of Congress still weren't satisfied. Rep. Conyers complained in an Oct. 2007 letter that the Justice Department was not closely scrutinizing Sproul's efforts. "The alleged misconduct described by many witnesses," he wrote, "clearly suppress[es] votes and violate[s] the law."

Indeed, those who have followed Sproul's rise in Republican circles argue that the pattern of behavior is too hard to dismiss as anything other than ethically-blurry, brass knuckle tactics.

"The biggest single thing is that he is a true believer," said Grossfeld. "He might take this as a compliment, but he is as committed to the worldview and the neocon approach to life as any operative I have ever run across. He is absolutely devoted to whatever that ideology is and as a byproduct of that he will look for every opportunity he can, I believe to further his or his client's agenda."

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I also feel obligated to print at least some of Keith Oblermann's recent foray into Divisive Politics as Un-American:

Gov. Palin:

"We believe that the best of America is not all in Washington D.C.," you told a fund-raiser in North Carolina last Thursday, to kick off this orgy of condescending elitism.

"We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic, very pro-America areas of this great nation."

Governor, your prejudice is overwhelming. It is not just "pockets" of this country that are "pro-America" Governor. America is "pro-America. "And the "Real America" of yours, Governor, is where people at your rallies shout threats of violence, against other Americans, and you say nothing about them or to them.

What you are seeing is not patriotism, Governor. What has surrounded you since your nomination, has been the echoing shout of mob rule. Indeed, that shout has echoed to Minnesota, where the next day an unstable Congresswoman named Michele Bachmann added to the ugly cry.

"I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America, or anti-America. I think people would love to see an expose' like that."

For nearly two years, Ms. Bachmann, who made her first political bones by keeping the movie "Aladdin" from being shown at a Minnesota Charter School because she thought it promoted paganism and witchcraft, has had a seat in the government of this nation, a seat from which she has spewed the most implausible, hateful, narrow-minded garbage imaginable.

Well, Congresswoman, you have gotten that "expose'" you wanted, have you not? Though not perhaps in the way you imagined.

Since giving voice to your remarkable delusion that there are members of Congress who are "anti-America," and the extraordinary tap-dance of sleaze and innuendo about Sen. Obama which followed, the challenger for your house Seat, Elwyn Tinklenberg, has been inundated by donations - $7,000 in the three days after you spoke.

Because the America you perceive, Congresswoman with its goblins and ghosts and vast unseen hordes of traitors and fellow travelers and Senators who won't ban "Aladdin" exists only in your head, and in the heads of the others who must rationalize the failures in their own lives and of their own policies as somebody else's fault as a conspiracy to deny them an America of exclusionism and religious orthodoxy and prejudice, about which they must accuse, and murmur, and shout threats, and cleave the nation into pro-America and anti-America."

And back it comes to the McCain campaign.

And Sen. McCain's talking head, Ms. Pfotenhauer, who on this very network Saturday, and seemingly without the slightest idea that dismissive prejudice dripped from every word, analyzed the race in Virginia.

"I can tell you that the Democrats have just come in from the District of Columbia and moved into northern Virginia," she said. "But the rest of the state, 'real Virginia,' if you will, I think will be very responsive to Sen. McCain's message."

Again, a toxic message. The parts of the country that agree with Nancy Pfotenhauer are real; the others, not. Ms. Pfotenhauer, why not go the distance on this one? It was Sen. McCain's own brother who called that part of Virginia nearest Washington "communist country."

Cut to the chase, Madam. No matter the intended comic hyperbole of Joe McCain. This is the point-isn't it? Leave out the real meaning of "Communism," Madam, Joe McCain reduced it to a buzz-word; it has no more true definition right now than does "Socialism," or the phrase "a man who sees America like you and I see America."

It's about us and them. The pro and the anti. Never mind, Madam, that the bi-secting of this country you would happily inspire, means taking a tiny crack in a dam and not repairing it but burrowing into it.

It is not enough that Sen. McCain and Sen. Obama might differ. One must be real and the other false. One must be pro-America and the other anti. Go back and, as your boss Rick Davis said today, "re-think," Mr. McCain's insistence not to drag the sorry bones of Jeremiah Wright into this campaign. And whatever you do, Ms. Pfotenhauer, allow no one enough time to think about the widening crack in the dam.

And now all of this comes together to attack Colin Powell. "Secretary Powell says his endorsement is not about race," writes Rush Limbaugh, the grand wizard of this school of reactionary non-thought.

"OK, fine. I am now researching his past endorsements to see if I can find all the inexperienced, very liberal, white candidates he has endorsed. I'll let you know what I come up with." It is not conceivable that Powell might reject McCain for the politics of hate and character assassination, or just for policy.

In the closed, sweaty world of the blind allegiances of Limbaugh, one of "us" who endorses one of "them," must be doing so for some other blind allegiance, like the color of skin.

The answer to this primordial muck, must be addressed to one man only. Sen. McCain, where are you? I disagree with you on virtually every major point of policy and practice. And yet I do not think you "anti-America." I would not hesitate to join you in time of crisis in defense of this country. Fortunately you did not echo this chorus of base hatred. But neither have you repudiated it.

What is "pro-America", Senator? Is it pro-America to call a man a racist because he endorses a different candidate? Senator, you have based your campaign on many premises, but the foremost (and the most nearly admirable) of all of them, have been the pitches about "reaching across the aisle," and putting, as your ubiquitous banners reed, "country first."

So when Colin Powell endorses your opponent, you say nothing as your supporters and proxies paint him in this "Anti-America" frame and place him in Gov. Palin's un-real America. Sen. McCain, did not Gen. Powell just "reach across the aisle?" Did he not, in his own mind at least, "put country first?" Is it not your responsibility, Senator, to, if not applaud, then at least quiet those in your half of our fractured political equation?

Is it not your responsibility, Senator, to say "enough" to Republican smears without end? Is it not your responsibility, Senator, to insist that, win or lose, you will not be party to a campaign that devolves into hatred and prejudice and divisiveness? And Sen. McCain, if it is not your responsibility, whose is it?

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