Barack Hussein Obama II

Clayton Cubitt tells Boing Boing,

Rachel Hulin (former photo editor at Nerve) is doing get-out-the-vote in battleground state Wisconsin, and documents this choice example of anti-Obama propaganda flyers being stuffed in mailboxes, in the guise of a letter directly from "Barack Hussein Obama II."
Wisconsin Day Two: Barack Hussein Obama II (


  1. So you know how copiers and printers have those unique ID thing-a-ma-doodles on them nowadays? Any chance they can track down who did this.

  2. this really is going to be the test, isn’t it? As absurd as it sounds, a black president is actually going to be the defining moment if America survives or not. Or at least the idea of America.

    A nation exists as a concept not just by what it is, but also what it isn’t. America is not in a vacuum. The “decent regard for the opinion of others” means the whole world IS watching.

  3. If you are going to do something as monumentally stupid as this, at least keep it sounding believable! The whole tone and format of the letter means that I wouldn’t be suprised to see tacked onto the end: “Does 8 incches enough 4 U? it’s not a secret, that hotties are mad about strong and long sausages. To reach faultlessness it is possible with us”

  4. The USA is one of the last of the great democracy’s that has not had anything other than a white male as supreme leader. Even countries that are considered backwards and male centric have had women or minority leaders, India, Pakistan, and in the west, Britain, Germany. It’s really sad that color is an issue.

  5. This is horrific. And makes me happy that I moved out of Wisconsin. Madison is the only island of sanity and tolerance there. And that ain’t no joke.

    But as far as Obama goes, I hope he not only wins, but also survives the full term. Sorry to sound morbid, but that scares me much more than him losing the election. Him getting voted in and then some nutjob doing something sick.

  6. This reminds me of some similarly misguided tactics a couple of Australian MPs tried down here last federal election. A key electorate received flyers supposedly authored by a Muslim lobby group, urging residents to vote Labor (opposition party to the then government) because they supported muslim interests. Turned out the organisation was completely fictitious, and the flyers had been sent out by a couple of astoundingly stupid MPs as an attempt to smear Labour by connecting them to Islam.

    I guess being constantly surprised at the extent of racism in this country says more about my white privilege than anything, but honestly, that a federal MP would sink that low was unbelievable. This letter is bad, but it probably wasn’t sent out by the Governer of Wisconsin.

  7. @ Doran:

    It doesn’t seem that you have too much to worry about. Over the past few days, when confronted with the polls on live television, every one of the (remaining three) pro-McCain Republicans has whimpered: “What about the AP poll?!”

    For those interested in reality, this might have something to do with it. Looks like a landslide, particularly in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Ohio.

    Lots of noise will be made once Obama is elected, but the biggest sound of all will come in the form of all bigots’ heads exploding in perfect simultaneity. God bless America.

  8. Funny thing is, most of the black people I know would be more likely to vote because of this flyer and most of the scared white people I know would too. So in this day and age, it is actually a pretty handy pro-Obama message as far as I can tell.

  9. This makes me sick. Also, angry. Just as the similar stunt in Australia (as described by #9) did. What’s worse than this miserable ruse is the thought of it working.

  10. @Takeshi:

    That AP-GfK poll is all they’re holding on to. I literally had a co-worker run in and say “Did you hear, it’s all tied up!” I didn’t have the heart to break her fragile little bubble.

    That all said, I’m totally with those who remind us that it ain’t over until it’s over. There is way too much shit going down to start celebrating before Barry is declared the official winner.

    As they say, this ain’t beanbag, and I’ll stop worrying only after the Wrinkly White Haired Guy concedes. And maybe not even then.

  11. Or could it be that this was a flier designed by the left in order to whip up support of liberal voters? After all we are getting all whipped up aren’t we?

  12. Wow. Clearly the party of inclusion is so patriotic and pure that tactics like this are perfectly acceptable. The ends always justify the means, right? The politics of whatever it takes to gain and retain power continues to put on white sheets and burn crosses. Purvey the fear and the masses are at your disposal.

    Why does this election feel like we’re watching an episode of Speed Racer? The course is treacherous enough without the oil slicks and tire shredders of the adversary in the mix. Here’s hoping Obama has a G on his steering wheel.

  13. @ Doran:

    BHO2 is just reminding everyone to vote. Secretly he wants for us all to be total jerks about it. I have a thousand bucks riding on this election, and no intention of losing, so I’ve started rubbing it in already, even if no one else will.

    Stpd Rpblcns!

    Impossible, or at least unimaginably improbable, to come back from this huge a deficit, this late in the game. I’m not ruling out vote fraud, but it would require a great deal of ignorance on the part of the electorate this time around.

    Of course, I might not want to completely rule that out, either.

  14. FRANK: Yeah, and the Dems have been slashing their own tires, coercing blacks at the polls, killing bear cubs, and talking people into carving initials in their faces and lying to the cops about it too. The all powerful liberal conspirators that can’t manage to impeach someone for waging unjustified wars, stealing elections, and illegally spying on Americans for years is behind this. The old reverse reverse psychology at play. They would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for those meddling kids.

  15. Few things are more dangerous than a wounded elephant.

    I can only imagine a self inflicted wound hurts worse.

  16. OK, after extensive research I have discovered the source of this flyer: It is from the future, where Obama’s son is running for prez (hence the “II” and the “next”) and the word BLACK is now slang for COOL with no race connotations because racial hatred no longer exists. In the future, registered members of any political party get free calling minutes to call anyone directly that they want as an added incentive to party declaration, since there will be so many political parties to choose from. “Our people” obviously refers to the androids under our care, since android rights will be the next frontier of civil rights issues. This was xeroxed from the back page of Wired.

  17. Oh, and since all drugs are legal, I think you know what “party lines” refers to. Promises of tax breaks to stay with the old school parties became just not enough incentive around 2024. The “2008” date was obviously a typo that should have read 2048. I hope this clears up any confusion.

  18. it is illegal to “stuff” mailboxes. mailboxes are reserved for the U.S. mail. were these delivered or just jammed into mailboxes?

  19. I don’t understand how things like this are legal. In most democracies the nonsense we put up with in the US is patently illegal.

    I also think there’s a small shot we could lose this thing. And by “we,” I mean “the world.”

  20. @25:

    Well, I can see them getting nailed for maybe fraud due to the small print at the bottom they included. But how else is this illegal?

    I mean, I find it offensive in the extreme, but thankfully being offensive in the US is not illegal as it is in places like Canada (and that’s not a slam, I’ve just been reading a lot about the “tribunals” up there). I’d rather them exposed and allowed into the full light of day than drive them underground by banning outrageous and offensive speech.

  21. “The Southern Strategy…it’s not just for the South anymore!”

    I wonder if this stuff even has to be coordinated at this point. Probably about this much:

    Dirty ops guy #1: “You got the flyers this year?”

    Dirty ops guy #2: (nod)

  22. hh, nbdy rspndd t tkn’s trll.
    <>h, wt, tkn, y wr srs??
    bwh-h-h. y dn’t hv th bb crd tht y thght y dd (& r rs f y blv wht y wrt).

  23. I’m sorry, guys… But this time round, your election is now showing some of the most debased and disgusting behaviour I have ever encountered.

    How many truly dispicable people are there? And how in the hell are they all coming up with these truly devious, horrible practices?

    It really does just sicken me, the divisiveness, the hate, the paranoia.

    And how can everyone apparently just sit back and act like this shit isn’t happening? I mean, the news media should be all over this shit, and yet nothing…

  24. isn’t it illegal to interfere in an election in this way? seems like it’s anything goes in the states these days…

  25. If you are going to do something as monumentally stupid as this, at least keep it sounding believable!

    I don’t think people that stupid are able to gauge what is believable or not.

    Pea brains and desperation make a very bad marriage.

    1. Pea brains and desperation make a very bad marriage.

      But they always have the most kids of anybody on the block.

  26. Karl Rove has shown that this tactic is very effective. Like Nigerian 419 scams, the text should be obviously phony to educated people. That way, two messages can be carried: the stated message goes to the ignorant, and a message like “They can get away with that???” goes to the educated reader, who is presumably demoralized and rendered paranoid by the experience.

    Rove has gone on record saying that the only problem with this tactic is if you’re caught IN THE ACT by someone credible to your base (e.g., the police).

    Hence, only do this in rural areas with low police density.

    The only way this tactic can ever be defeated is if voter turnout rises drastically. It depends on undisciplined, disorganized, cynical, unmotivated progressives.

  27. “I’m sorry, guys… But this time round, your election is now showing some of the most debased and disgusting behaviour I have ever encountered.”

    That would be because you’ve never closely studied the sleaze of past elections in the United States. This is, sadly, a pretty mild example of this kind of thing.

  28. The thing that makes me the most afraid is that there is, in fact, a large segment of the population that this type of effort is able to generate results with.
    On top of that…..this segment of the population almost universally has a deep love of guns and a fair degree of skill in the use of guns. Stupid campaign tactics aside….this type of stuff inflames and frightens…..I am so very very very afraid Obama is going to get shot.

  29. America will suffer racist reflexes if Obama wins or not.

    I don’t know whether this is off-topic, but at my school (about 80% African-American) there are a lot of kids and faculty sporting Obama gear.

  30. Opsin @ 30 And how can everyone apparently just sit back and act like this shit isn’t happening?

    It’s the price of admission. Really, until the angry racists pick up their guns to start Civil War II, we will tolerate them because they are all talk and they give us something to sharpen our teeth on.

  31. Racists like this are extremely small in number and will have no influence apart from maybe a couple of shootings and a bombing once in a while. They’ll have no real bearing on the election, and rightly so.

    The trouble is, there’s probably millions upon millions of Americans who say they will vote for Obama when pollsters ask them on the street (hey, they’re nice people, ya know?). But when they’re in the booths – the little old ladies, the respectable gentlemen, the young middle class – they’re as racist as the worst of them.

    As much as it pains me to say it, Obama is not going to win this election. What will then happen will mark the true beginning of the end of the United States. Economically, politically and socially – it will truly be the last and greatest betrayal of the last and greatest of human dreams.

  32. MMBB, wtf are you talking about?

    How is Takuan’s comment even remotely a troll? It’s the truth, the rest of the world is holding its breath on this. It’s crucial to America’s future and its standing in the world.

    You can move forward with new diplomatic hope, or back to the same old “we ain’t gonna blink” bullshit we’ve all put up with for years. People have actually glimpsed something fresh and intelligent. We’ve seen a man with no need for the double talk and posturing we’ve grown used to from US presidential politics. Someone that can be frank, open and strong without resorting to cocksure trashtalk and hokey sentimentalism.

    Frankly, if McCain is elected America will lose the last dribble of respect it has left since the reelection fiasco in 2004. When Bush was reelected, the US lost so much, not just world-respect, but self respect too.

    Do it again, and I truly believe you are on your own.

  33. gilgongo, you are being a huge bummer. If you are proven wrong I hope you do appropriate penance, maybe like letting yourself give a crap again.

  34. As soon as I read this, I thought “fake”. Maybe the “II” is in reference to the “III” John Sidney McCain III leaves out of his name so he does not seem too “elitist” (their word, not mine).

    The worst part, is for many people, this will be convincing enough.

  35. No offense, but you’re all thinking one step short of this flyer’s original purpose. I think that this flyer was set out by democrats who would like you to think that it’s a fake flyer solicited by racist republicans. Because it’s clear that this has done more damage to republicans than democrats. I think you’ve all been had.

  36. #8: My girlfriend and I share that fear. Influential black leaders have a habit of getting shot by nutjobs in the U.S.A.

    At least he’d have the secret service watching his back, assuming he makes it into office…

    #29: mmbb, Takuan doesn’t troll. He does have some opinions which a lot of people might regard as being quite far from their own, and he may occasionally frame those in subtly inflammatory language, but even then they are always delivered intelligently and thoughtfully.

    You obviously felt a bit inflamed by his comments. Would you care to articulate why? Do you have thoughtful and reasonable counter-arguments?

  37. I live in Florida and I get alot of stuff like this in my mailbox. I report each and every incedent to my local Postmaster. It is a federal offence to put stuff in a mailbox. He is getting very tired of hearing from me but is obligated to log each complaint.

  38. FYI, the “II” on this letter is in reference to Barack’s name.

    He is officially named on his birth certificate as “Barack Hussein Obama II”, something I didn’t know until the whole Hawaii hubbub kicked up. That makes his name even less important to me, since he was just named after his dad.

  39. Jack @8, save the drama. Wisconsin has some racists, but so does every other state. Obama is clearly in the lead there, which wouldn’t be possible if it’s as bad as you say. Furthermore, I could show you some recent racist mailers that make that one look mild.

    MMBB @29, don’t do that.

    Gilgongo @38, you’re talking about what’s known as the Bradley Effect. It’s been studied in more detail, and if it exists at all, it’s not nearly as significant as it was previously thought to be.

    So cheer up.

    Frank @13, DeltaSleep @43: There’s no basis for the assumption that a flyer that stupid has to be a Democratic trick. The flyer in question is entirely comparable to a great many other anti-Obama mailings that are known to have originated with Republicans.

    Jonathan @22: You’re wrong. Both sides do not do things like that to an equal extent. The Republicans are far more into it than the Democrats have been.

    That’s not a partisan statement. It’s an objective one, backed up by evidence and numbers.

  40. DELTASLEEP@43: It would be nice if you read the previous comments before posting. Your point was made originally in this thread by FRANK@13 and answered by myself @17. If you have more to add to that theory, your rebuttal should begin from there. Thanks.

  41. DELTASLEEP: Ok, and now that Teresa’s comment has cached in my browser, your rebuttal should actually begin there if you have more to add on that theory.

  42. Gilgongo: You’re talking about the Bradley Effect, which is an attempt to explain why some black candidates (particularly Tom Bradley, candidate for governor of CA in 1982) have performed better in the polls than they ended up doing in the voting booth. People who are unwilling to vote for a black man (the theory goes) nevertheless tell pollsters they’re considering it, so as not to expose their racism to a real human being on the phone.

    Fortunately, there’s a lot of evidence that the Bradley Effect is no longer in play, if it ever was. There have been a lot of black candidates for office since 1982, and these days they don’t underperform their polls any more or less than white candidates. In the particular case of Obama, closet racists already have a way to cover their asses: they can tell pollsters he’s “too inexperienced” instead of pretending they’ll vote for him. In fact, there are those who speculate about a “reverse Bradley Effect”: some Republicans may be unwilling to admit they’re planning to vote for a black Democrat.

    I appreciate that you’re concerned, and I can’t predict the future, but the conventional wisdom seems to be that the Bradley Effect is the last slim reed desperate Republicans are clinging to this cycle. Certainly early voting results are showing no sign of it.

  43. #24, #28, and #31

    This is illegal actually, because of the little blurb at the bottom. If you create, say, your own bumper sticker that says “Obama ’08” you have to put that it was sponsored by you and not “Obama for America” or whatever. Anything else is illegal, and that’s also why campaign commercials have the little “I’m * and I approve this message” or the planned parenthood pro-Obama ad had to end with “payed for by planned parenthood” or something along those lines.

    Whoever this is is misrepresenting that and not putting who they really are. That is illegal in this country, only when it comes to politics but still illegal.

    This election has gotten frighteningly polarizing though. I lucked out in that I work in an academic library and all my political conversations with coworkers, regardless of their affiliation, are sensible. When you look at the rest of America all I see is fear, anger, and ridiculous pettiness. People seem to be stealing a lot more yard signs this election than before.

    I’m voting for Obama, but its scary to hear my uncle talk about how he only watches fox news, and that he’s voting for McCain because of “taxes and guns” yet, my cousin doesn’t have health care (he’s self employed, makes under $250,000.)

    She had a heart murmur as a child or something along those lines. She’s perfectly healthy really, but insurance companies don’t see it that way. I put her health above my right to own a gun. As much as I try, I just cant understand how people can vote that way, or seemingly TRY to stay ignorant.

  44. I think our standing in the world has been more adversely affected by the current economic situation than it will be by the outcome of the election. I appreciate the positive thinking that Obama will make the world like us more, but, hey, it’s about the money. Always worth a revisit to Ned Beatty’s global speech in “Network.” Paddy Chayefsky got it right.

  45. The original story doesn’t tell whether the person distributing the flyers was white or black and if the community he was distributing the flyers to was predominantly white or black. Boo.

  46. Who is this going to fool? Other fools? If it was stuffed in mailboxes in WAUSAU, it’s intended for WHITE voters (Wausau is less than 1% black).

  47. I think that this flyer was set out by democrats who would like you to think that it’s a fake flyer solicited by racist republicans. Because it’s clear that this has done more damage to republicans than democrats. I think you’ve all been had.

    Man in black: [turning his back, and adding the poison to one of the goblets] Alright, where is the poison? The battle of wits has begun. It ends when you decide and we both drink – and find out who is right, and who is dead.

    Vizzini: But it’s so simple. All I have to do is divine it from what I know of you. Are you the sort of man who would put the poison into his own goblet or his enemies? Now, a clever man would put the poison into his own goblet because he would know that only a great fool would reach for what he was given. I am not a great fool so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you… But you must have known I was not a great fool; you would have counted on it, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.

    Man in black: You’ve made your decision then?

    Vizzini: [happily] Not remotely! Because Iocaine comes from Australia. As everyone knows, Australia is entirely peopled with criminals. And criminals are used to having people not trust them, as you are not trusted by me. So, I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you.

    Man in black: Truly, you have a dizzying intellect.

  48. ah my dear Razzabeth, I am so not going there. Although it is tempting.

    More to the point, named after his old man eh? More proof of how sneaky this swarthy oriental must be; how could he have known to name his own father such? Gadzooks, man, the cunning beggars the imagination by Jove! This never would have happened in the days of the Empire!

  49. Not everybody KNOWS that ILL and it doesn’t cost anything extra to state it clearly.

    I looked for the demographics but didn’t find anything specific enough. It makes a big difference to the claim that it’s propaganda. When somebody tells me that x is y, I don’t have the habit of assuming x is y. I actually THINK about it first.

    Maybe you should do the same thing before you start wearing a red armband with a black “O” on it.

  50. I was listening to a community radio station. The idea they were discussing was that the Bradley Effect was being trotted out to prepare an explaination for Obama’s upset loss due to manipulation of electronic voting machines.

    The point is, we’re talking about two races that may form the basis for this idea that Barack Obama, with his enormous lead, may lose because of millions and millions of closet racists, you know, who will say one thing to pollsters, out of a fear of not seeming politically correct, and then vote a different way. I’ll tell you why I worry about this. Something that you very, very badly need to steal elections, aside from the apparatus and the volunteers and all the money and everything, is a narrative. You have to have a convincing rationale to explain an upset victory. Four years ago, the rationale was millions of values voters materialized on the horizon at the end of the day, and like Jesus with loaves and fishes, they suddenly multiplied and voted for Bush, and then they disappeared. Well, there’s no evidence that that actually happened. But it served as a narrative. This time, I’m afraid the primary narrative will be racism: Barack Obama actually lost, despite all predictions, because so many Americans are racist. I think that this is, first of all, unverifiable. We don’t know that it’s true, whereas we do know all the stuff about vote suppression and election fraud. But I’m afraid that people will be encouraged to accept this line to prevent them from taking a hard look at the real reasons why Obama may have “lost”—and I put “lost” in quotation marks.

  51. Yup, that’s a crime. It’s not just a breach of various laws relating to misrepresenting the author of political speech, it’s also libel. Would be what they call a “slam-dunk case” if it ever went to court.

    Watch how it doesn’t get prosecuted.

  52. I looked for the demographics but didn’t find anything specific enough.

    So did I, based on your comment, because it was a fair enough question to ask. But honestly, first Google search of “wasau wisconsin racial demographics” went to wiki which gave the percentage of whites as 97.56%. How much more specific were you hoping for?

  53. the same people who engineered the Diebold and other election frauds the last two times are working hammer and tongs today. This is an all or nothing contest and they are further driven by the abject fear that their earlier crimes will be revealed and punished when Obama wins. They have nothing to lose – or at least believe they do. This means you may expect any enormity of crime you can imagine.

    The converse of this is that there are marginal people, people in the know and who are not yet so tainted they might walk free later – so long as they speak up now.

  54. #68. Pretty interesting idea. Race as a stalking horse for fraud. On the Republican side, I wonder what all the Acorn talk would be a narrative for, just a Why we lost explanation?

  55. The Acron talk is fear mongering to pump up the hatred and distrust of the poor, who are responsible for all of our problems dontchaknow, to prod the faithful to the polls.

  56. Sorry, I forgot to mention Acorn is code for uppity n—-rs. Acorn and the liberal Dems are singlehandedly responsible for the entire financial collapse.

    Run to the polls, vote to save the babies, vote to stop the gay special rights agenda, vote to keep the White House white, vote for your lives.

  57. The USA is one of the last of the great democracy’s that has not had anything other than a white male as supreme leader. Even countries that are considered backwards and male centric have had women or minority leaders, India, Pakistan, and in the west, Britain, Germany. It’s really sad that color is an issue.

    While it is true that the US will be one of the last democracies to elect a non white male for the nations top post, the ironic thing is that it will also be the first to elect marginal minority (less than 20%) to high office. Personally, I think this election season (some ugly campaigning aside) speaks pretty highly of how far the US has come to living up to its own ideals.

  58. ➤ “How much more specific were you hoping for?”

    I found the same statistic you did but it doesn’t tell me anything about the particular neighborhood this was going up in or the race of the person posting it. And since I know as much about Wausau as I know about Anchorage, the assertion of propaganda doesn’t necessarily follow for me. I’m not just going to assume what I’ve been told is the case is true; enough people already doing that, so I don’t have to jump into the flesh pile.

    Better yet, don’t tell me it’s propaganda at all. Just give me the facts and I can see that on my own. If it’s true.

  59. Within the community of Wausau (pop. 155,000 +) there are presumably some black people. Are these black people focused in a particular geographical area within Wausau, or are they evenly spread across the city? If there is at least one mostly black neighborhood within Wausau, did this incident occur within or without that neighborhood?

    I don’t know. But this is all basic stuff that should have been included to support the assertion of propaganda, unless Rachel was writing for a local crowd that already knew the answers.

    Just thought I’d post that before someone decides to miss my point.

  60. #79. While I agree that it’s good to keep an open mind about all we are being bombarded with, the flyer is clearly a scare tactic. As are the telephone calls that do the same thing (calling white districts imitating a thug’s voice to vote Obama.) No one knows their effect better than McCain who was demolished by such b.s. in South Carolina in 2000. And that is what has made this year’s campaign so pathetic.

  61. The giveaway, as in all spam fakery, is the dangling participle in the first sentence: “As a registered Democrat, we…”

  62. DMDuncan, the flyer claims to be official Obama campaign material, and it’s not. It’s claiming that the official position of the Obama campaign is that they’re going to give special consideration to “our people”. The race of the stuffers and the recipients doesn’t change that fundamental deception — it’s still propaganda even if Jesse Jackson is stuffing it in the mailbox of the Jeffersons.

  63. This is highly illegal. Election laws prohibit any attempt to subvert an election process.
    Read “How to Rig an Election – Confessions of a Republican Operative” by Allen Raymond. He has already made the public aware of this story and explains how it is done. The houses canvassed are done so due to an obvious “European” name (particularly those of distinct European descent such as names ending in “ski” or prefaced with “Van” or “von”).
    This guy went to jail for election fraud and now is making money talking about how it was (and has been) done.

  64. While it is true that the US will be one of the last democracies to elect a non white male for the nations top post, the ironic thing is that it will also be the first to elect marginal minority (less than 20%) to high office.

    Simply not true. Peru elected Alberto Fujimori, and as one might suspect from his name he’s from Peru’s ethnic Japanese community.

    (Granted, he sure as heck didn’t work out well, but he still qualifies.)

    If you’re willing to stretch a little, the UK had a Jewish prime minister (ethnically if not religiously after his early teens) in the 19th century — back when that was as “bad” as being black, if you know what I mean.

  65. Simply not true. Peru elected Alberto Fujimori, and as one might suspect from his name he’s from Peru’s ethnic Japanese community.

    Err, yeah… I am not sure you really want to use him as an example. If I recall correctly he had to flee the nation while still holding office, his resignation was rejected so that he could be forcefully kicked out of office, and I think he is currently facing a few human rights charges in Peru.

    Semantics aside, my larger point is that it is extraordinarily rare for such a small non-elite minority to be the head of state for a democracy. The fact that Obama is so close shows an extraordinary amount of maturity on the part of the Americans. Like I said, the usual dirty politics aside, I think this election has affirmed some of America’s brightest ideals.

  66. err,almost. If Obama is permitted to win the election he has already fairly won and is not murdered immediately afterwards.

  67. As bananachair said, there was a very similar incident in at the Australian election a year ago. Here is the flyer that was distributed in Australia.

  68. Senator Obama is half White and half Black.
    In any event it’s to late for me to have such
    a great ancestry ,well The Black Hannibal’s army did
    mate with the Italian’s so maybe I have a
    little bit of what just a few years ago was
    said to be of “color”.

  69. Hey #26 – there is NO equivalance! NONE!!

    The tactics of the right, McMaverick and his Fashionista whore with soul mate Michell Bachmann and a cast of dozens of hate mongers have dug deep to rub every racial nerve raw…

    Nothing by any alleged astro-turfer comes close to the wiling ignorance of Faux et al as they lay a hate crime at the feet of Obama

    Republicans love to sell the story that “they’re all the same” but like most rightist narrative its a fable a precious fiction for the pro-american parts of the US or A

  70. “…it’s still propaganda even if Jesse Jackson is stuffing it in the mailbox of the Jeffersons.”

    That really made me smile.

  71. < hrf="">Mvrck – th nw prsnlty dsrdr!

    1. Roschelle,

      All of your comments seem to consist of a single sentence with a link to your blog. You can write to Teresa to explain to her why she should reinstate your account.

  72. Teresa @52 — I’d appreciate any more information you could provide me with, especially as I run an anti-astroturfing website. To clarify, I didn’t state that both sides “do things like that to an equal extent”. I said that it’s naive to assume that “both sides don’t regularly partake in such tactics”.

    I’m seeing too many astroturfing links in Obama’s campaign management to ignore. Axelrod’s astroturfing firm ASK is a real concern for me. Looks like, in the past, they’ve created front groups for AT&T to pass legislation. One of his two other partners in the firm, Eric Sedler, was a public relations director for AT&T, and a “corporate-reputation specialist” for Edelman (of fake Wal-Mart blog fame). Sourcewatch and PRWatch have more info.

  73. Jonathan, it’s up to you to provide evidence for the assertions you make. Yes, Axelrod runs a PR firm, but you’d have to demonstrate that he astroturfs on behalf of the Obama campaign to say “both sides” are using the same tactics — if, that is, you think astroturfing is in the same ballpark as stuffing race-baiting flyers into people’s mailboxes.

    False equivalencies are a favorite rhetorical device of the Right. They play on people’s cynicism, and cynicism doesn’t demand evidence: “Enh, they’re politicians. They all do it.” But it’s possible to count incidents and build a preponderance of evidence, and sometimes that evidence shows that one side really, truly is worse than the other.

    So, if the Obama campaign “regularly partake[s] in such tactics,” it should be easy to offer, say, three examples, right?

  74. @Jere7my — Google for the words “obama” and “astroturfing”, and you’ll find many more than three examples (of admittedly varying credibility). Same story for the other side. I’m not getting in a back-and-forth argument with you over specific events of astroturfing, an act which is extremely difficult to conclusively prove.

    If somebody would like to compile a list of all known suspected astroturfing attempts by both the Right and the Left, such that we can attempt to measure which side employs this tactic more often, that would be excellent. To clarify, by “side”, I mean Repubs and Dems, not necessarily Obama and McCain specifically.

    That Axelrod runs a PR firm that has been demonstrated to partake in specific acts of astroturfing is, IMO, sufficient enough evidence to bring up the point that it would be “naive to assume” that both sides don’t “regularly partake” in such activities. I can’t speak as to which side uses it more often, but, once again, I think it’s “naive to assume” that both sides don’t “regularly partake” in such activities.

    That he’s partnered with former Edelman and AT&T public relations people (and done work on AT&T legislation) is a legitimate red flag.

    This isn’t about Right v. Left for me. It’s about flexing our savvy to understand that the candidate whom we support may indeed be the better choice, but still “regularly” employs unethical political tactics.

  75. Credibility – ur doing it rong.

    You could start by providing us with the name of the anti-astroturfing website that you run.

  76. @ Jonathon:

    I agree that it would be naive to assume that ANY politician is lily white, so I’m afraid that your point is somewhat lost in the noise. If this is, as you say, “about flexing our savvy to understand that the candidate whom we support may indeed be the better choice, but still ‘regularly’ employs unethical political tactics,” then why even discuss it? Everyone with a brain already knows it’s true.

    Put your money where your mouth is. If you have ethical disagreements with a candidate, are you not obligated to vote against him? Unless you are every bit as unethical, that is. Otherwise, you’re not the best judge. I for one don’t care about any of the left’s unethical tactics. To be president of the United States, one must be a bloodthirsty mongrel. Obama will make a terrific president, legitimate red flags notwithstanding. But people who accentuate the “lesser of two evils” meme are deluding themselves. You have third-party nominees who I’m sure would pass your litmus test. Vote for what you consider to be evil, and you willingly promote evil.

    The truth is: I’m not a good enough person to go around casting judgment, and neither are you. When one side plays dirty, the other side has the choice of (i) doing the same, or (ii) losing the race. What would you do if you were running for president? How low would you sink? What allegiances would you forge? If it’s not about “Right vs. Left” for you, then vote your conscience. But don’t waste time worrying about whether people “get it,” because you’ve completely lost the moral high ground when you opt to do something you have such principled disagreements with.

    I just saw Obama speak a couple of blocks from my house in Denver. Must’ve been 100,000 people. Compared to McCain’s dismal turnout earlier this month, I’d say BHOII has the state locked up. And his speech wasn’t just uniting… it made some people cry. Republicans, mostly.

  77. I don’t care who is astroturfing more, I only care that the mods HERE care enough to fight it.

    Threadjacking is almost as bad as astroturfing anyhow.

  78. Jonathan, if your point (as Takeshi says) is that neither candidate is 100% pristine, well, of course I agree. Obama has bent the truth on the stump, for instance. But when it comes to Obama astroturfing, I have to wonder why. Why would he spend money to astroturf, when he has an army of tech-savvy young people who are legitimately enthusiastic about defending him for free? When you have real grass in your grass roots campaign, you don’t need to lay down astroturf. I suppose he might have, but I have yet to see any credible evidence. (Your response is fine as far as it goes, but what it demonstrates is that people are quite willing to accuse Obama of astroturfing. That, I also agree with.)

    Compare to McCain, who (on his official campaign websites) offered “McCain Points” to folks for trolling pro-Obama sites with the day’s talking points. That’s overt astroturfing, endorsed by the candidate himself.

    Finally, I agree that it is naive to assume both sides aren’t engaging in the same practices. That’s why I do research and read credible reports, backed up with evidence — so I can be informed instead of assuming.

  79. For the record, I was just extending Jonathon’s logic. Obama is a thousand times the moral authority John McCain is. There is simply no evidence to support the conclusion that the Dems have stooped as low as some on the right. This time around, at least.

  80. Jonathan @100: Greetings from Toronto. This reply will have to be fast, or I’ll risk being late to Cory and Alice’s wedding.

    You said:

    @Jere7my — Google for the words “obama” and “astroturfing”, and you’ll find many more than three examples (of admittedly varying credibility).

    I did as you suggested. I couldn’t find a single piece of evidence connecting the Obama campaign with astroturfing. I did find a great many discreditable sources — Michelle Malkin and Free Republic and the like — insisting that negative reactions to Sarah Palin’s nominations had to be paid astroturf, since why else would anyone think ill of the woman?

    Same story for the other side.

    Not at all the same story. McCain’s demonstrably been connected to several astroturf and/or fraudulent comment campaigns.

    I’m not getting in a back-and-forth argument with you over specific events of astroturfing,

    If what I’ve seen online is all you have to go on, I don’t blame you for not wanting to examine it in detail.

    an act which is extremely difficult to conclusively prove.

    If you really believe it’s that difficult to prove, why are you asserting that the Obama campaign is doing it?

    In fact, it’s quite possible to prove the existence of astroturfing. The only catch is that evidence is required.

  81. @Antinuous 101 — If Teresa (or any other BB mod) says it’s ok to post a link to my own anti-astroturfing (more specifically, an anti-“stealth marketing in forums”) site, then I’d be happy to do so. I’ve never posted a link to any of my sites on BB, for what I imagine are the same reasons that most other BB commenters refrain from posting links to their sites. The site has exposed stealth campaigns by multi-billion dollar corporations, pressured two episodes of a television show into being pulled off the air, and been represented by the EFF over a First Amendment issue. This doesn’t necessarily mean I’m credible, but it does at very least demonstrate that I’ve been through the astroturf-wringer. As an alternative, I could post a url in the “website” field of my user profile, which I admit I could have filled out more fully when I first registered on BB.

    @Takeshi 102 — to clarify, I’m not talking about lily-white, and I’m also specifically not taking a position as to which side is more or less astroturfy. Agreed that you need to be a bloodthirsty mongrel to be President. I’ve often thought that perhaps you need to be a bloodthirsty mongrel to compete as a leader on the world stage, and the election could be a “natural” way of vetting for that characteristic. Regarding ethics in voting/third party nominees/lesser evil meme, it seems like we share the same viewpoint.

    @Jere7my 104 — what you see in Google about Obama’s (potential) astroturfing is probably no more or less credible than this silly racist pamphlet. Astroturfing is extremely difficult to prove, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not credible to bring up the potential links.

    @Teresa 107 — To clarify, I’m not asserting any specific acts of astroturfing by the Obama campaign. I simply said that Obama’s chief strategist runs a turfing firm, and on the basis of that evidence, IMO, it would be naive to assume that both sides don’t “regularly” partake in such tactics. I think that’s a fair analysis. I can’t help but feel that your interpretation of my post is coming across (to me) as a mild (and probably unintentional) strawmanning of my position. Similarly, I thought it was helpful for Frank and Deltasleep to bring up the viewpoint that, for all we know, this particular pamphlet could have been sent out by Democrats.
    I would be interested in learning about any of McCain’s demonstrable connections to astroturf compaigns, as you had mentioned in your post.

    I’m not voting for John McCain, for what I “assume” are the same reasons that most other people who gather here aren’t.

    In a blog post where Side A is apparently being bashed for astroturfing, I had thought it would be helpful to add to the discussion not by pointing out the obvious (the other side isn’t lily white!), and not by making a lesser/greater comparison (one side is more astroturfy than the other), but simply by highlighting the specific and legitimate ties that Side B does indeed have to the astroturfing industry.

  82. Tell The Web (from Senator McCain’s official site)

    …Select from the numerous web, blog and news sites listed here, go there, and make your opinions supporting John McCain known. Once you’ve commented on a post, video or news story, report the details of your comment by clicking the button below. After your comments are verified, you will be awarded points through the McCain Online Action Center…

    It gives you links to blogs that you should be spamming and talking points so that you know what to spam them with.

    Can you provide a comparable example on Senator Obama’s official campaign website?

  83. Jonathan, I think I see why I’m confused. You say, “In a blog post where Side A is apparently being bashed for astroturfing….” This flyer isn’t astroturfing — astroturfing is a corporation or campaign posing as a grassroots movement of ordinary concerned citizens. This is exactly the opposite, in fact: ordinary concerned citizens posing as a campaign. Side A is being bashed for race-baiting election fraud.

    what you see in Google about Obama’s (potential) astroturfing is probably no more or less credible than this silly racist pamphlet.

    Depending on what you mean, I either don’t understand this, or I agree with it. :) The Google results I saw are indeed not credible; nor are the claims in this pamphlet. (Well, the pamphlet’s claims are less credible, since they’re ridiculous on their face, but why split hairs?)

    But the premise of the original post — that some racist bonehead McCain supporters are stuffing misleading race-baiting flyers into people’s mailboxes — seems incontrovertible. We have the flyer, right there. (It could be a forgery, but that seems pretty unlikely to me.) We don’t have equivalent evidence of Obama supporters engaging in similar tactics. If that’s what you mean by “no less credible”, I have to disagree — the accusation leveled against these anonymous McCain supporters is much more credible than the accusations against Obama, since the former offers evidence.

  84. (Btw, Jonathan, if your claims about your website are true — and I see no reason to think they’re not — it sounds like you’re fighting the good fight, and my hat is off to you. No personal bitterness should be inferred here!)

  85. I remember back in 2003 hearing Sean Hannity on FoxNews say something to the effect of “I will be afraid for America if the liberals ever get back in power” (not an exact quote but pretty close). His comment implies both the mortal fear the right has of the left, and the belief the right had that they would indeed get Karl Rove’s “permanent majority.”

    So. . . the way this election is shaping up the tactics coming out of the right wing shouldn’t surprise anybody. It’s not all coming from the RNC and McCain campaign– this mailer and the Ashley Todd hoax likely have no connection to anyone high up in the GOP, like the slanderous anti-Obama road signs. There really are a lot of people who believe Obama is a Muslim-Communist-Nazi (despite the fact that all three are logically incompatible), and so they think “it’s OK to lie, the enemy is among us, we have to do whatever it takes to save America.” This is the same logic John Mitchell used during the Watergate hearings: it was more important to use chicanery to defeat McGovern than to do his job as AG and uphold the laws of the US, because after all, McGovern was going to “hand this country over to the Soviets.”

    So what’s next? How much lower will the GOP faithful go?

    (And the mental gymnastics those on the right do to twist this back around onto the Democrats is beyond silly– when you believe in conspiracy theories no amount of logic can help you, because when something is obvious, suddenly it’s “TOO obvious”, and so it must be a trick. Oy vey.)

  86. @Antinuous 109 — Obama’s website encourages people to start blogs about Obama’s campaign (I know that McCain’s site does something similar). I perceive this as “comparable”, but I concede that McCain’s overt “Talking Points” push it a bit further. I disagree on the word choice of “spam”, because if it’s “spam” per se, then the start-your-own-blog-about-our-candidate technique could fairly qualify as splogging.

    I don’t have any proof of any specific astroturfing by Obama’s or McCain’s campaign, and I’m not alleging such. That Obama’s chief strategist runs a prominent astroturfing firm is a legitimate and credibly-sourced red flag. I think it’s healthy for us to be able to openly acknowledge the existence of such a red flag, especially in the wake of a fiery hate-pamphlet.

    Any broad statement purporting that any one side uses astroturfing more than the other would have to be accompanied by a fairly comprehensive analysis to be credible. For me, the only credible analysis here so far is: “Both sides probably engage in at least a little astroturfing, because we know that’s how politics work.”

    @Jere7my 113 — Regarding the specific use of the word “astroturfing”, I inferred from the original post that perhaps it was thought that a campaign was in some way behind this (overtly, inadvertently, wink-wink encouraging, etc.), in which case it could technically qualify as astroturfing. If not, then I might argue that it’s “in the family” of astroturfing techniques. If not, I can concede error, as I think it’s tangential to the main point on which we seem to be essentially in alignment anyway.

    The pamphlet isn’t credible to me as genuine Obama information, and it isn’t credible to me as genuine racist bonehead propaganda. It’s only credible to me as a genuine piece of paper. We don’t know the source. I feel the same way about the backwards-B face scratching incident. Too easy to fake, or to fake-fake, or to backwards-fake, and should thus be generally ignored.

    Also, thanks for the “fightin’ the good fight” followup. No bitterness inferred or implied, and I’m enjoying participating in this discussion. Hat tip received and returned, and I’m hoping I can confirm your thoughts that my claims are true.

  87. Obama’s website encourages people to start blogs about Obama’s campaign (I know that McCain’s site does something similar). I perceive this as “comparable”, but I concede that McCain’s overt “Talking Points” push it a bit further.

    One of them is encouraging people to make punch for their friends. The other is encouraging them to go to other peoples’ houses and throw turds in their punch bowls.

    I have yet to see your anti-astroturfing website. I would strongly recommend that you add it to your profile.

  88. Antinous @ 118 – Give a guy a break – clearly it takes more than 10 hours to fabricate a convincing website.

  89. I feel the same way about the backwards-B face scratching incident. Too easy to fake, or to fake-fake, or to backwards-fake, and should thus be generally ignored.

    That seems facile. Again, we have evidence for one interpretation, and not the other. She admitted to faking it, and she is a confirmed McCain volunteer. Is it possible she was a pro-Obama mole, phonebanking for McCain and putting McCain bumper stickers on her car so she was in the right place to give the McCain campaign a black eye by inventing an easily-exposed fake mugging story? Technically. But that seems much less likely, and requires much more planning and coordination, than the alternative. (Or, as I put it to my wife: “It turns out the guy didn’t use a knife to carve the B; he used a razor. And it wasn’t a big black guy; it was William of Ockham.”)

    Ignoring it isn’t the right response. Take it a step further: someone burns crosses on an Obama supporter’s lawn, then confesses to doing it in a misguided effort to support the McCain campaign. Should we ignore that, just because there’s an unevidenced outside possibility the person was engaged in a double-fakeout to make McCain supporters look bad?

  90. #67 DMDUNCAN:

    Oh. . . so you want me to THINK about this before I “start wearing a red armband with a black “O” on it.” OK, here’s what I think:

    It is ridiculous to me that anyone could really think this flier was put out by a Democratic organization. I might have thought it reasonable that maybe a small local DEM group did it on their own but several things just don’t add up.

    1. When has the Democratic Party ever refered to Obama as “Barak Hussein Obama” (let alone put the “II” on there)? The GOP uses “Hussein” whenever they can, which usually means NOT having McCain say it, but having the people who introduce him say it.

    2. The whole tone of the letter is weird: “Don’t worry, as a registered Democrat we are allowed to call you directly”– what’s that supposed to mean? Registered Republicans aren’t allowed to call Democrats? It sounds like a con-artist talking. “Change means…..BLACK” and “We’ll take care of our people” sure look like deliberate ploys to scare white people. Blacks in a predominantly white city probably wouldn’t use those phrases, and if they did would make sure they didn’t canvas any white homes. Sure, that’s just an opinion, and there’s no way to prove intent, but I think it’s a reasonable judgment to make. Maybe I’m giving African-Americans too much credit, or maybe you’re giving them too little.

    3. So far nobody has been able to find evidence of an actual group called “Barack Hussein Obama II for president” but apparently it is not just local, as it refers to itself as the “Wausau Chapter.” Hmmm. . . no phone number, no address/web-address, not signed by anybody. . . we’ll see if they ever get around to calling back.

  91. For the record, Ashley Todd tried a similar hoax tactic when she worked for the Ron Paul campaign.

    So if she were a DEM plant then I guess the DEMS thought they would be running against Ron Paul come November. But of course (sigh) I’m sure that can still be twisted into making her a DEM plant too . . . somehow.

  92. Jere7my @ 120 – Ms Todd – whatever her motivation, is clearly either very ‘simple’ and unimaginative, or else is fiendishly adept at convoluted political manipulation.
    Either way, she’s fouled her own credibility for the foreseeable future.

  93. busy? Sleeping? Working?

    Perhaps he will return, perhaps not. Even the appearance of gloating is declasse.

  94. “lets ignore everything wacky the side I support does cuz its obviously fake.”

    yeaaah, thats it. It couldn’t POSSIBLY be a certain contingent of McCain supporters are nutcases. No, never. They’re all super intellectuals who aren’t hateful and who are mentally stable. Cause I say so, you see.

  95. Sorry guys — I’m really sensitive about ever dropping links to the anti-turfing site, lest I get accused of astroturfing, or even the dreaded backwards-astroturfing. The playful hints that I may not be being completely honest suggest that perhaps I need to clear up any confusion as to the relationship between my money, and my mouth.

    Here’s the site:

    I’m certainly not an authority on the subject, just an admin who’s had to deal with it on several notable occasions. It’s (obviously) a parody site. Enjoy :).

  96. The playful hints that I may not be being completely honest suggest that perhaps I need to clear up any confusion as to the relationship between my money, and my mouth.


    Now, can you show us where Obama is giving out O-miles for kewl gear or access (as McCain is) in return for posting talking points on ‘opposition’ websites?

    Can you show me where the Obama campaign indicates what out blogs should write about? I agree they encourage us to have them, but can you say where the Obama campaign attempts to direct the online discourse?

    Or MAYBE does it just seem that way from where yo stand because we all disagree with you about your vote for McCain and appear to have the united front McCain wishes he has and is working for (with the rewards for verified talking point astroturf)? Maybe?

  97. Ashley Todd is nobody’s operative. She’s a self-dramatizing attention-seeking liar, and would be a liability to any organization that would have her.

    Todd’s case has strong similarities to that of Miranda Prather, who while a grad student at Eastern New Mexico University faked an anti-gay hate crime against herself. Prather was later charged with false reporting and harassment.

    One thing you can say about the Obama campaign is that they aren’t stupid. Another thing you can say is that they haven’t made a big public fuss about real incidents where their supporters were harassed or assaulted by McCain/Palin supporters. I think we can leave off the convoluted theories about the Obama campaign planting Ashley Todd in the McCain organization.

    At that rate, you might just as well theorize that the Obama campaign talked McCain into taking Sarah Palin as his running mate.

    Now for McCain’s campaign organization:

    The original Washington Post article about McCain’s comment-spam campaign.

    Offering incentives to spread presidential campaign rhetoric online makes sense, says Michael Cornfield, an adjunct professor at George Washington University and an expert in political management online. “Now that social media have expanded citizen comment opportunities far beyond the old letter to the editor and talk show call-in, campaigns should take advantage,” he says.

    But Cornfield (an executive with a company that markets political-organizing software) says McCain’s program has a couple of bugs.

    The first, he says, is the lack of disclosure instructions to participants. To rise above AstroTurf — a practice considered ethically dubious by many political operatives — Cornfield says participants should use their real names and identify themselves as part of a campaign participation program (as in, “I’m Mike Cornfield, and I’m part of the McCain Action Team”).

    He also says “germaneness” is an issue: “Talking points are fine, but a comment should refer specifically to something that was said or written previously in the thread where it is intended to appear.”

    I was not happy when I heard that the McCain campaign was soliciting comment spam from McCain’s supporters. I wrote about it at some length in McCain, sockpuppets, and comment spam, on Making Light.

    Next: a professional Dutch journalist, Margriet Oostveen, writing in Salon: I ghost-wrote letters to the editor for the McCain campaign, subtitled “I spent a morning in John McCain’s Virginia campaign headquarters ghost-writing letters to the editor for McCain supporters to sign. I even pretended to have a son in Iraq.”

    The Editor’s Note on the piece said:

    Editor’s note: The following article was originally published on Sept. 13 in Dutch in the newspaper NRC Handelsblad, where Margriet Oostveen writes a weekly column called “Message From Washington.” Oostveen has volunteered in various political campaigns and then written about the experience. She has worked for both John McCain and Barack Obama in this election cycle. Click here to see guidelines, talking points and sample letters the McCain campaign gave her.

    That “here” link leads to an accompanying “Primary Sources” piece, How ghost-writing letters to the editor for McCain works.

    Next: remember P.U.M.A., “Party Unity My Ass”, supposedly an organization of disenchanted Hillary Clinton supporters who were going to vote for McCain? Quoting Lindsay Beyerstein at Majikthise, Rolling back the Astroturf: P.U.M.A. founded by McCain supporter:

    Amanda [Marcotte] delves into the murky world of self-proclaimed Clinton supporters for McCain. A lot of Democrats suspect that the Republicans are trying to capitalize on disenchanted Hillary supporters.

    She discovers that the McCain switch group known as P.U.M.A. (People United Means Action) was founded by one Darragh C. Murphy of Carlisle, MA, who has never given a dime to a Democratic candidate in a federal election, but who gave $500.00 to McCain in 2000.

    Murphy was recently featured on FOX News talking about her PAC.

    Jonathan, do I need to go on? Are you going to keep insisting that the two campaigns are comparable on this issue? Because they aren’t. Obama’s site encouraging his supporters to start their own weblogs is a fully transparent piece of basic political organizing. What I’ve cited here about the doings of McCain’s campaign organization is no more than anyone could find in ten minutes of googling.

    I can dig deeper, if you want.

  98. God, I hope that this letter was a joke that was made by some kids with a lot of time on their hands. It is things like this that make me really lose faith in the American voting public. The racism and total ignorance that still goes on in this country is astounding.

  99. It seems as if Deceit now is an initial presumption. Or is it just plain old “all’s fair if the rules can be ignored” politics? The tragic part? Now,having honor and ethics becomes a disadvantage.

  100. @MDH 128 — I can’t show you what you’ve asked for, never implied that I could, and already conceded that it was the McCain site’s “talking points” that pushed it further than a start-your-own-blog strategy. In fact I agree that the “points for posting” strengthens the case even further (although, in fairness, it should be pointed out that the McCain site advocates people to post on right-wing blogs too, so it’s not *only* a turd-in-the-punchbowl tactic). I’m not exactly sure what you mean when you say that “we all disagree with you about your vote for McCain”, especially when I specifically said that I wasn’t voting for McCain. I don’t perceive my posting of the Obama campaign management’s ties to astroturfing as an endorsement for McCain any more than I perceive the Center for Media and Democracy as a right-wing group for first bringing it to my attention. In fact, I think it builds credibility by being able to mention the flaws, weak points, or red flags on the side you support, especially in the middle of a bash-fest on the opponent.

    @Teresa 129 — Thanks for the links. Yes, of course, please dig deeper, and exploit this as an opportunity to teach and/or school me (although I still think my position is being strawmanned a little). What more links do you have on this? Also, I understand that you’re saying (and demonstrating) that there’s a major imbalance, but surely there’s more than zero credible evidence of such tactics being employed by the Obama campaign? What links do you have that show astroturfing by the other side? Also, is the Axelrod/ASK connection irrelevant to you? What else is there besides the BusinessWeek article on that? The prominent astroturfing firm, the AT&T legislative work, the Edelman guy — I’m legitimately concerned by those things. Is that unfounded?

  101. Jonathan,

    Having spent a chunk of my evening chasing you round perdition’s flames, I now see that unethical marketing is your white whale. Which is noble. But also inclines you to harpoon everything that spouts, be he leg-eating cetacean or innocent bottlenose. I encourage you to explore a less black and white view.

  102. See, it is things like this that make me wonder about our political system. If you have to prop up your candidate with deliberate lies and innuendo, then why are you voting for him? So many people I’ve seen writing or talking about why they are voting for McCain are just parroting the same outrageous BS that has been debunked and explained a hundred times already. They are not voting for McCain so much as they are voting against Obama. And they don’t even seem to know (or don’t want to admit) the real reasons why.

    How can skin color still be an issue in this country? I just don’t get it.

  103. McCain would not even stand a chance of stealing an election without the homophobic criminalize abortion crowd, interspersed with a general dose of racism. Everytime I mention this his supporters fail to reply. Their desire to criminalize abortion, deny GLBT citizens equal, not special, rights, and keep the W.H. white overrides every other challenge facing this country.

    McCain sold his credibility to the people who spread rumors in South Carolina, the Home of the Confederacy no less, he had a illegitimate child of mixed race.

    In 2000, McCain had George W. on the ropes and South Carolina was the do-or-die state. Flyers appeared from thin air alleging that McCain had a black child (he and his wife had adopted a Bangladeshi daughter from an orphanage there). Other fliers said McCain was the “fag candidate.” Rumors swirled that McCain’s time in a North Vietnamese prison camp had left him unstable and downright crazy – again, hitting at the opponent’s greatest strength. Other rumors were that his wife was a drug addict. Nice stuff, and none of it had Bush’s inky fingerprints on it.

    So here we are 8 years later with everyone, including McCain, distancing themsleves from one of the worst presidents in our history, while getting by on the same hate and fear. Classic stuff posting lies and inuendo then asking the moderator to do the work. I’m not voting for McCain, I’m just pointing out this or that one, right…

  104. Thanks for the coolness Antinous. I’ll take your encouragement/advice to heart. It’s true — after years of pursuing turfers, I see it everywhere I look. However, for every campaign that gets exposed on my site, there are several that are resolved quietly, or that never generate enough evidence to go public about. I still feel that the ASK link to Obama’s compaign is a legitimate reason to raise a red flag, but not to unfurl a red oriflamme. I’m thinking that Teresa will be able to point me to more research on that issue.

    @Foetusnail — was waiting for someone to bring that up. Technical term is push polling. I’m assuming (?) in good faith, that the “lies and innuendo” remark wasn’t specifically pointed at me, but was just to make a point. The episode you mentioned is really well documented, and there are some details on that wiki page about the use of that tactic in this election too.

  105. FOETUSNAIL: The documentary Bush’s Brain cites this, as it goes through Turd Blossom’s MO from instance to instance throughout his career. There is a reason this is familiar, because it has Rovie’s icky fingerprints all over it.

    Nowadays he needn’t be directly involved. Since he lowered the bar, it could simply be someone adopting his tactics, and based on the lame use of language evidenced, that is most likely the case.

    My point really is that after such tactics were used against him, I am surprised McCain has been willing to stoop to using them himself. If his mentality now is “whatever wins” then I think he has cynically shortchanged the American People at this point, after 8 long years of seeing where the swiftboat has taken us.

  106. adjusting for technology,there is not one dirty trick being used right now in the American presidential race that wasn’t used`one hundred years ago. Is it not written “The utter bastards we shall always have with us.”? Yea, and verily even.

  107. TAKUAN: You gotta admit, Rovie’s “genius” is not that it has been anything new, but that anyone in recent times would have the audacity to stoop so low, and that the American people en masse would be so gullible as to fall for any of it. It has not been innovative as much it has been very successfully manipulative of our baser nature in its circumvention of the logic circuit, and downright ruthless in its implementation and scope.

  108. I saw her today at a reception
    A glass of wine in her hand
    I knew she would meet her connection
    At her feet was her footloose man

    No, you can’t always get what you want
    You can’t always get what you want
    You can’t always get what you want
    And if you try sometime you find
    You get what you need

    I saw her today at the reception
    A glass of wine in her hand
    I knew she was gonna meet her connection
    At her feet was her footloose man

    You can’t always get what you want
    You can’t always get what you want
    You can’t always get what you want
    But if you try sometimes you might find
    You get what you need

    Oh yeah, hey hey hey, oh…

    And I went down to the demonstration
    To get my fair share of abuse
    Singing, “We’re gonna vent our frustration
    If we don’t we’re gonna blow a 50-amp fuse”
    Sing it to me now…

    You can’t always get what you want
    You can’t always get what you want
    You can’t always get what you want
    But if you try sometimes well you just might find
    You get what you need
    Oh baby, yeah, yeah!

    I went down to the Chelsea drugstore
    To get your prescription filled
    I was standing in line with Mr. Jimmy
    And man, did he look pretty ill
    We decided that we would have a soda
    My favorite flavor, cherry red
    I sung my song to Mr. Jimmy
    Yeah, and he said one word to me, and that was “dead”
    I said to him

    You can’t always get what you want, no!
    You can’t always get what you want (tell ya baby)
    You can’t always get what you want (no)
    But if you try sometimes you just might find
    You get what you need
    Oh yes! Woo!

    You get what you need–yeah, oh baby!
    Oh yeah!

    I saw her today at the reception
    In her glass was a bleeding man
    She was practiced at the art of deception
    Well I could tell by her blood-stained hands

    You can’t always get what you want
    You can’t always get what you want
    You can’t always get what you want
    But if you try sometimes you just might find
    You just might find
    You get what you need

    You can’t always get what you want (no, no baby)
    You can’t always get what you want
    You can’t always get what you want
    But if you try sometimes you just might find
    You just might find
    You get what you need, ah yes…

  109. @ Teresa Nielsen Hayden:

    “Ashley Todd is nobody’s operative. She’s a self-dramatizing attention-seeking liar, and would be a liability to any organization that would have her.”

    I’m not so sure about that. First, there is ample evidence that senior advisers from the McCain campaign were making details of the “attack” known to reporters before all the details had been released by the authorities. Second, Ashley Todd did in fact work for the McCain camp, which tells us precisely which organization “would have her.”

    And my third point is a bit more complicated, so please bear with me. Without naming names, a friend of mine has spent hours this week on the phone with The New York Times, MSNBC, and various Pennsylvania newspapers, attempting unsuccessfully to get them to look into his story, which goes like a little something like this.

    A few weeks ago, he saw how desperate McCain’s people were getting, and decided it would be funny to prank them, so he started calling campaign offices and collecting phone numbers of assorted staffers, including a few regional and state campaign directors. He was making bold claims like, “I can hand you this election,” to get their reactions and publish a funny online account. He even managed to get a few of them to take meetings with him.

    In the course of one of his conversations, he mentioned that one way they might seal the deal would be to fake a politically motivated attack on a McCain supporter, among other, increasingly preposterous suggestions. He mentioned that the attack shouldn’t be racially motivated, and even warned that doing something along those lines could lead to widescale panic. He’s an Obama supporter, and he never expected anything to come of it. A week later, just as he was about to post his article, replete with zingers like “Obama has turned the Jews against McCain,” the Ashley Todd story broke. Immediately, he smelled a rat.

    He started calling publications well before Todd had confessed to the hoax. Indeed, before she had even been administered the lie detector test, he was frantically writing to HuffPo and other left-wing blogs, in an attempt to hand over names and phone numbers of McCain staffers who he suspected might have a connection to Ashley Todd. No one ever got back to him.

    That said, I would find such a story hard to swallow if I hadn’t read his transcripts or witnessed many of the calls myself. I do not rule out the possibility that some unscrupulous McCain staffer in Texas put Ashley Todd up to this. After all, Sarah Palin has proven herself to be the single greatest liability imaginable, and they have not sought to distance themselves from her. To the contrary, just yesterday, Sen. McCain said on NBC that he “worships” Palin and has no need to defend her.

    And that’s not some insane staffer with a double digit IQ… it’s the maverick candidate himself.

  110. Oh, and I’m definitely not saying that Ashley Todd isn’t an attention-starved loon, but people like that are often remarkably easy to exploit.

  111. Yeah, it’s a shame he won’t be publishing his account online. The parts I’ve read are really very funny. Now that Ron Paul’s people have stated that Ashley Todd tried pulling this kind of stuff before, I doubt his story will be gaining much traction.

  112. Thanks Teresa for posting those links — I’ve just had a chance to take a look.

    The WashingtonPost article was decent, although it’s not revealing much beyond what Antinous highlighted. Similarly, I enjoyed the piece in your blog on this issue. It’s confirming the notion that it’s the “Talking Points” that push the issue over the line, something with which I agree. (*Technically* not astroturfing per se, but I think it’s in the astroturfing/stealth marketing family, and fair to refer to it as such.)

    Regarding the Salon article, I would feel more solid about it if they had evidence that any of these letters were ever published as letters to the editor (they openly acknowledge that they don’t). Am I correct in assuming that ghostwriting letters to the editor is very common, and that it’s the specific deception that’s the concern in this issue?

    I perceived the Majikthise piece on PUMA to be the least credible of the batch. In that article, in the quote you posted, Lindsay Beyerstein says that Darragh Murphy, the founder of PUMA, is someone who “has never given a dime to a Democratic candidate in a federal election, but who gave $500.00 to McCain in 2000.” I followed up on the Wikipedia article on PUMA, which references data from HuffingtonPosts’s “Fundrace 2008”, confirming that Murphy donated $850 to Hillary Clinton’s campaign through Q3 of 2008. confirms this too. More info in this piece from Does anyone else have perspective on that, or a way to sort through the accusations?

    I appreciate the links, and I’ll gratefully take you up on your generous offer to dig deeper, or if, as it seems, you’ve already researched this, to post the links you’ve got. Thanks again.

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