31 August 2006

Unlimited Terms of Endearment, Part XV: Oregon, Chicago, ALG and Al Capone

Warning: This column is about political incest. More impressionable readers might want to cover their eyes -- it's worked for most of the media so far.
We have seen the outline of the fall campaign from Howie Rich and friends.

Piecing together the Chicago pep rally that the so-called "Americans for Limited Government" held a fortnight ago has taken some time. With the barest minimum of reporters from the "MSM" ('Main Stream Media,' you know, that liberal-controlled news media that has become the whipping boy of right-wing rhetoric and doesn't actually exist as such -- else why the savaging of Clinton by the same press that meekly whimpers and rolls over for Bush to pat its furry little belly?), the 'news story' was given over to "alternate media" like the Heritage Foundation, American Spectator Magazine (owned by Tom Phillips, from whom ALG's "Communications Director" Heather Wilhelm's niggardly $7500 Phillips Foundation Fellowship was received by Ms. Wilhelm last year) and Human Events Magazine. (ditto)

But don't take my word for it. Listen to the former Executive Director of the California Republican Party from 1999 to 2001 flogging his weblog FlashReport on his weblog:
FR profiled in Human Events
by Jon Fleischman - Publisher (bio)

3-9-2006 11:53 am

I have been a subscriber to Human Events Magazine for years. Frankly, it is one of the few 'paper' subscriptions that I still maintain. HE gives the perspective on what is really going on inside of the Beltway, from a conservative point of view. The publication is owned by FR friend Tom Phillips, a great conservative leader. You can always check out HE Online via our Websites menu above....
Also much in evidence were the "reporters" for "The Center for Union Facts."

HUMAN EVENTS reporter Ivy J. Sellers wrote,
"The conference attracted big names such as Sen. Tom Coburn (R.-Okla.), John Fund of the Wall Street Journal and Mike Krempasky of RedState.com. Representatives from organizations including the CATO Institute, Citizens for Responsible Government, and the National Taxpayers Union participated. Campaign strategists and grassroots activists from across the country attended the conference and reporters from all spectrums gave it coverage....
Which is, when you think of it, absolutely accurate, if the spectrum one is referring to is the grayscale. There were (according to the two MSM reporters in attendance) two MSM reporters in attendance, period. Everyone else was a Right Wing faux news reporter. But perhaps the spectrum Sellers meant was the gamut from hard-core Fundamentalist to Mormon to Agnostic. Perhaps she chose the wrong word. She's just starting out in journalism, after all.

"Ivy J. Sellers" graduated from BYU last year with a degree in journalism. I say this only because Sellers, a staff reporter for "The Daily Universe" -- the modestly-entitled BYU school newspaper -- published her last piece for the BYU paper about the new Harry Potter book, "The Half-Blood Prince" on July 15, 2005, and then she is interviewed by the same school paper on July 5, 2006 in a piece entitled "Can a Latter-day Saint become president?
... "There are jokes that Mormons and Christians can't be friends and there is a strong evangelical following that listens to their leaders," said Ivy Sellers, a reporter for Human Events, a national conservative weekly publication. "They [evangelicals] make up the strongest voting bloc in the Republican party."
Consider her official HUMAN EVENTS Bio (preceded by this personals ad for media incest:
About the Editors
If you would like one of our editors to appear on your television or radio show, please contact Patricia Jackson at (202) 216-0600 or pjackson@eaglepub.com ....

Ivy J. Sellers
News Producer, Human Events Online

Before becoming the news producer for Human Events Online, Miss Sellers studied communications and print journalism at Brigham Young University. During her years as an undergrad, Miss Sellers worked as a reporter and editor for the Daily Universe, BYU's award-winning student newspaper. Previous to her current employment, she contributed to Human Events as an intern through the National Journalism Center, covering political events and press conferences taking place in Washington.
The National Journalism Center http://www.njc.yaf.org/ [Nice picture of Robert Novak, suitable for frightening young children witless] is a subsidiary of Young America's Foundation, which, as we reported in part VII :

"Ronald E. Robinson is President of Young America's Foundation, of which [Tom] Phillips is a Board member." Robinson is, conveniently enough, a Board member of The Phillips Foundation. So: Phillips "charitably" donates and serves on the board of the YAF, whose National Media Center checks out new BYU interns who, if they make the cut, go to work for Tom Phillips-owned magazines, like Human Events and the American Spectator. And, of course, when a Phillips Foundation Fellow, like Heather Wilhelm, sets up a "massive" pep rally for the newly-active friends of Howie Rich group, ALG, Tom Phillips' editors are more than happy to send a reporter to "cover" it for HUMAN EVENTS magazine.

[Note: again, if media incest is troubling to your political sensibilities, please stop reading now.]

She's a "News Producer?" Well, if they mean it in the sense of "oil producer" or "sugar beet production" Ivy Sellers is certainly that. I have been in print and publication for almost thirty years now (thirty-three, if you count the stuff I wrote for my college newspaper, THE DAILY SKIFF) and I have never seen the term "news producer" applied to print journalism. It is a TeeVee term, for the person who makes sure that the edited video is ready for broadcast. It is not a term of letters or of literature.

But that's the problem with our "New Media": they are in such a hurry to push the Agenda that there isn't time to learn properly. The editors at HUMAN EVENTS came up with that odd title. And, googling "Ivy J. Sellers" produces about 50 articles cranked out for HUMAN EVENTS this year. But listen to the "New Media" producer writing about the ALG and the old and new media:
"Panels were held on a variety of topics including "Does Anyone Really Care About Limited Government Anymore" (The conclusion: Big business, President Bush and Congress sure don't.) and "Getting the Word Out: Creative Media Strategies" (The conclusion: While old media lends a voice of authority, new media is easier to access and can be just as, if not more, effective.)" [Human Events article]
But poor Ms. Sellers is just a tad overworked here. Her summation of the ALG's "new media" strategy leaves something to be desired. According to one source who was at a different panel entitled "Understanding The Opposition":
I also caught the Q and A, during which -- in context of a discussion about using cameras as a violence- or scare-deterring measure when "union thugs" are blocking petition circulators -- [panelist Mike Flynn* from The Center for Union Facts] made a comment something to the effect of: "You can get more with a smile, a kind word and a gun than you can with a smile and a kind word. It's time for us to have the gun." And in the context of "earned media," he said Union Facts does ads with the media as a target -- so that the media will notice the ads and then do a story on the issues they raise. "The important thing," he said, "is for you to set the terms of the debate."
[* According to Mike Hall writing on the AFLCIO blog, the founder of the Center for Union Facts, Rick Berman, was there as well: "the Associated Press reported Aug. 21 that Berman attended a weekend conference of the group Americans for Limited Government and made a presentation about the anti-union ads." I am unable, however, to find said report, although others have noted that he sent staffers to the ALG event, which has been doubly confirmed by two in attendance. - HW]

The irony of using Al Capone's quote in Chicago may have been intentional, or it might have been reflexive, just as the characterization "thugs" was probably projection -- like the sudden Bush Administration fetish with calling their military enemies "fascists."

The actual quote is: "You can get much further with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone." -- Al Capone, from his MySpace friends page

Capone also said: "This American system of ours, call it Americanism, call it capitalism, call it what you will, gives each and every one of us a great opportunity if we only seize it with both hands and make the most of it" which one thinks would have also gone over big at the ALG pep rally in Chicago.

At any event, the plan is to attack.

It seems odd to me that the MSM has been so easily flummoxed by these "grassroots" organizations that spring up around the friends of Howie Rich overnight, like mushrooms.

The reporters of the MSM keep getting caught up in geography, when this has nothing to do with geography, and everything to do with, what Howie Rich told an Oregonian reporter at the ALG pep rally, even as he danced away from her:
Monday, August 21, 2006
The Oregonian

... This much, I glean quickly: Rich drinks red wine. He smiles easily, as do those around him. He gestures when he talks, puts his hand on somebody's shoulder and leads the person aside. An inexperienced state activist gets as much attention as a think-tank veteran. Rich is beloved by followers, who describe him as a visionary and a savvy businessman. And he detests journalists.

At a cocktail reception, Rich stops at my table to introduce himself. He is all smiles and handshakes -- until he realizes I'm a reporter. He tenses.

"You seem very nice and all," Rich says. "But I'm going to try not to talk to you very much."

That's too bad, I say. I want to explain why these issues interest him.

Rich says he'll tell me one thing. When I reach for my notebook, he waves his hand in protest.

I remember his words anyway. "It's all about the ideology."

Rich almost dances away to the next table....
But consider the Honey mushroom [from Wikipedia:]
Armillaria ostoyae is the binomial name for one species of fungus commonly known as a "Honey mushroom", and sometimes called "Shoestring Rot" ... quite common on both hardwood and conifer wood in forests west of the Cascade crest. The mycelium attacks the sapwood and is able to travel great distances under the bark or between trees in the form of black rhizomorphs ("shoestrings").

A mushroom in the Malheur National Forest in the Blue Mountains of eastern Oregon, USA was found to be the largest fungal colony in the world, spanning 8.9 kmĀ² (2200 acres) of area. This organism is estimated to be 2400 years old.
An apt, Oregonian metaphor. The "alternative media" present in Chicago are reminiscent of the Honey mushroom, all interconnected, and only seeming to be individual publications, as are the endless profusion of friends of Howie Rich Groups: ALG, US Term Limits (his original franchise), Club for Growth, State Action,; the Cato Institute, LEAD Foundation, Fund for Democracy, Parents in Charge and many others that, in turn, spawn still further groups: the newly-minted "Protect Our Homes and Churches," "America At Its Best," "Renewal Voter Outreach," "This House is MY House," and, perhaps not directly connected to the friends of Howie Rich, but eerily in harmonic, "The Center for Union Facts."

None of the newly-minted "grassroots" subgroups mentioned in the preceding paragraph EXISTED one year ago.

In the week following the ALG "Action Conference" Rick Berman's "Center for Union Facts" went on the attack -- here in Oregon, and across the West.

Sourcewatch reported:
In May 2006 the Center for Union Facts, launched its first TV ad campaign. The 30-second spot (http://www.unionfacts.com/ads/downloads/tv_unionBosses.wmv), running on Fox News and local markets, has "actors posing as workers" saying "sarcastically what they 'love' about unions," like paying dues, union leaders' "fat-cat lifestyles," and discrimination against minorities. The ad campaign cost $3 million, which was raised "from companies, foundations and individuals that Mr. Berman won't identify."* [* The Online Wall Street Journal URL]
And last week, following the ALG pep rally, the CUF (thank goodness they didn't name it the "Knowledge Center for Union Facts")attacked again. The OREGONIAN reported:
Anti-Union ads appear in media in Oregon election - The ads, sponsored by a Washington, D.C., group, are sharply critical of public employees

Friday, August 25, 2006
Dave Hogan

Just in time for election season, Oregonians are seeing TV and newspaper ads featuring grouchy public employees this week, thanks to a new Washington, D.C., group that doesn't name its donors.

The Center for Union Facts also is running similar ads in Michigan, Montana and Nevada. Like Measure 48 on Oregon's ballot this November, those states have similar initiatives that will ask voters to cap state government spending. While the ads don't refer to those measures, they contend that public employees have wrangled expensive compensation packages...
Weirdly, it's an "issue" ad without an issue. There is nothing on the Oregon ballot in the fall that has anything to do with public employees.

Another puzzling attack was reported in New West's (an online magazine) Missoula page:
Are Anti Union Ads a Push for Spending Cap Initiatives?
By Pete Talbot, 8-27-06

... anti-union ads that were launched this week in Montana. The TV, radio and newspaper campaign portrays department workers as overpaid, lazy and nasty ... Montana isn't the only targeted state. The advertising campaign is also running in Oregon, Nevada, and Michigan. Three of these four states have initiatives on the November ballot that cap state spending. The fourth state, Michigan, is in the process of certifying signatures for a similar ballot initiative.

The most active opponents of the initiatives are the unions that represent public employees. Others oppose the initiatives, including The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), but it's "more difficult to slam seniors," one union official [Eric Feaver, president of MEA-MFT] said ... He's not sure who exactly is paying for the ad campaign. "It's impossible to follow the money," he said, "but it's just too coincidental" that the ad campaign is running in states with spending cap initiatives on the November ballot ...

The organization behind the ad campaign is the Center for Union Facts. It is located in Washington, D.C., and its executive director is lobbyist Richard Berman. Berman has headed similar organizations that lobby for tobacco, alcohol and other industries, according to labor officials.

The organization's communications director, Sarah Longwell, said that the ads are an "educational campaign" and the advertising budget is $1 million. She called the ads "funny, edgy." "It was taken into consideration," [Longwell] noted, in placing the ad campaign in four states with spending cap initiatives, but it wasn't the main factor. The campaign "is not trying to influence people," she added, but to drive them to the Center for Union Facts' website ...
[Note: to be fair, "[Guest Columnist Pete Talbot] ... is a board member of Missoula's Sustainable Business Council and treasurer for Missoula Community Access Television (MCAT). Politically, Pete has served on the Montana Democratic Party Executive Board and was chairman of the Missoula County Democrats."]

But he soundly makes the point that doesn't require a partisan lens: The sudden appearance of CUF anti-union ads are a political attack, and probably to hobble the unions in organizing opposition to the SOS and "Rainy Day" spending caps and KELO/Eminent Domain stuff. Talbot only links the CUF attacks to spending caps.

But he doesn't ask two even more pertinent questions: Isn't it an ODD coincidence that the Center for Union Facts launches million dollar campaigns in the same four states that the ALG is pushing its spending cap initiatives in? And isn't it even odder that CUF manages to ALSO be funded by mysterious funders whose identity they ALSO won't reveal in Montana?

As union president Feaver notes: it is impossible to follow the snaking tendrils of this shoestring root. And yet, one asks oneself: Where have we seen THAT modus operandi before?

Here's the Oregon local angle: my ALG Chicago source writes: "Other panelists with Flynn were Patrick Tuohey, Missourians in Charge; Bob Adney, Nevada Tax and Spending Control Committee; and Don McIntire, Taxpayer Association of Oregon."

Don McIntyre is an interesting fellow. According to Wikipedia:
"The leaders of the tax revolt include Don McIntire, president of the Taxpayer Association of Oregon, and Bill Sizemore, leader of Oregon Taxpayers United. Much of the money spent to promote these anti-tax measures were provided by out-of-state backers including Americans for Tax Reform headed by Grover Norquist."
Norquist's ATR was the OTHER contributor to Howie Rich's "US Term Limits" term limits initiative on the Oregon ballot this November, just by the by.

[As I said, this is about political incest, so avert your eyes if you become too uncomfortable, Gentle Reader.]

According to the website of the organization that McIntyre runs:

We are the Taxpayer Association of Oregon (TAO). It was founded by Jason Williams and Don McIntire in the year 2000. Don McIntire is most commonly known as the father of Measure 5 (the 1990 property tax limitation measure) and many other taxpayer activities going back several decades. Jason Williams is best known for working with Oregonians In Action. TAO also has partner organizations and Political Action Committees to assist on various fronts; ballot measures, candidates, education, lobby, and research.
McIntyre also co-wrote Measure 37 in 2004, which has been seen as the inspiration for the KELO measures that ALG is pushing in several states ... including Oregon.

McIntyre was also, reportedly, the TAO master brought in by Howie Rich and friends to author their ALG measures. So, perhaps it is unsurprising that he was on an "ALG ACTION CONFERENCE" panel [valet parking at the hotel was $41 per day, according to the emailed information sent to registered attendees] called "Understanding The Opposition."

What IS surprising, however, is that McIntyre wasn't necessarily there to have CUF "defend" him. He was there as a member of the "new media," as well.

Their website brags that they are "Oregon's top Political Website: Our popular website, OregonWatchdog.com, is now ranked at the top of web searches involving 'Oregon political news' keywords." [ibid.]

And, the governor of Oregon challenged Howie Rich to a debate last week, Betsy Hammond of the Oregonian wrote on their political blog:
Monday, August 28, 2006

... The way {Governor of Oregon Ted Kulongoski sees it, Rich should have to explain why organizations he controls gave $571,000 toward the spending cap and another $510,000 to promote a term limits measure in Oregon. That is particularly important in the case of the spending cap, because its impact on Oregon would be so huge, Kulongoski says.

"If you are willing to pour millions into our state as a social experiment, the least you can do is come here and explain in person to Oregon voters why the face of our future is so important to you," Kulongoski wrote in a letter he sent to Rich - and copied to reporters - Monday.
Hammond goes on to note Rich's refusal to be interviewed:
"Rich shuns media attention. At the recent Americans for Limited Government conference in Chicago, Rich networked with supporters but did not make speeches or grant interviews. He said he has nothing personal to gain from supporting ballot measures in Oregon and refused to talk futher, saying, "I'm not a media guy. That's not what I do."
Except wasn't that an "interview" that he gave in offering his standard Lady MacBeth line? No: he doesn't submit to interviews. That doesn't stop him from giving out precisely the sound bite he wants in the papers though.

Oregonian reporter Betsy Hammond reports from "Mr. Doesn't-Give-Interviews" the following email NON-interview:
"It sounds to me like the governor is afraid to debate local leaders like Don McIntire, or face up to the ... Oregon voters who signed the petition," Rich told The Oregonian via email. [August 28th]
Which is very odd, since this is almost precisely what "I Am Coyote" (whom I am reliably informed is one Ted Piccolo) wrote on the NW REPUBLICAN blog:

does-governor-nesbitt-have-cajoneys-to.html ('cojoneys' is sic)
Well aint (sic) that special..?? Is Kulongoski too afraid to debate the author of the measure Don McIntire? Doesn't Kulongski have enough to worry about? Well I thought so.
Coyote sneered the party line.

And so did Don McIntire, who is calling for a debate with the 'real Governor of Oregon.'

Note the date: August 28. Maybe the unconscious echoing of Howie Rich's email to the Oregonian isn't so odd, though, because Piccolo has worked with (or for) Rich (via US Term Limits) before, in 2004, when he and USTL founding board member Paul Farago were chief petitioners for a term limits petition drive that failed:

The Citizens' Term Limits Restoration Act, Petition #20

Petitioners: Leigh Anna Foxall, Paul R. Farago, Ted Piccolo

CONTRIBUTIONS: US Term Limits (DC): $354,239 (97%); US Term Limits Foundation (IL): $5,000 (1%); US Term Limits (IL): $3,000 (less than 1%); Taxpayer Association of OR: $1868; Paul Farago: $48.

TOTAL $364,155
[NOTE: Farago's "48 Bucks" -- you might recall -- gave the first installment of this series its title, as it was the only provably private Oregon donation made two years ago. You know, "grass roots." - HW]

And, on August 28th Don McIntyre simultaneously attacked with this press release (which immediately and coincidentally showed up in its entirety in Coyote's 'cojoney' blog column -- no coordination of 'new media' going on HERE, right?):

To Tim Nesbitt, AFL-CIO boss, and to his "yes" man, Governor Kulongoski:

Thank you for your letter, which offers yet another reason for Oregon voters to support the Rainy Day Amendment. It reveals, after all, the fact that Oregon's Governor has no clue as to what's going on in his own state...

We all know who pulls the strings here in Oregon, and forgive us, Governor, if we say publicly it's not you. Union bosses and special interests are openly running your campaign, so we, in turn, realize why you're doing their dirty work. You want to keep spending recklessly, and you want the taxpayers to just shut up...

Over 300 local donors have already given to the Rainy Day Amendment campaign, and that list continues to grow. We're thankful to Howard Rich for helping us get our campaign off the ground. Unions-as you well know, Governor-have a whole lot of money to splash around to keep the special interests in charge. Out of state unions have already given $2 million to try and defeat the Rainy Day Amendment. We're working to put the people back in charge. Just whose side are you on? Here's a tip, Governor-or should we address this to you, Mr. Nesbitt?-you might want to keep it a secret that you're against giving the people a say in state spending....
But this isn't enough for McIntyre. He concludes with this bit of politesse:
As a Chief Petitioner, I accept the challenge to debate the real leader of the government class in Oregon - Tim Nesbitt, recent President of the Oregon AFL-CIO. I will debate Mr. Nesbitt as many times as he would like between now and election day. Oregonians would be well served to find out more about the "power behind the throne" in our state. I suspect such a series of debates would reveal much about what's really wrong in Oregon. If Mr. Nesbitt is unavailable or unwilling, I'd even take on the second in command, Governor Kulongoski.
One finds it difficult to believe that the CUF attack ads aren't coordinated with McIntyre's "thankful" campaign. (And, one notes that "300 local donors" proves "grass roots" just as effectively as the 150 reported in attendance to hear the keynote address at the ALG pep rally in Chicago.)

And it's WEIRD to compare and contrast with Rick Berman's (founder/proprieter of CUF) stated philosophy:
Berman's Battle
Richard Berman claims to help the average consumer. In fact, he works for corporate America.

By Greg Sargent, The American Prospect
Web Exclusive: 01.03.05

... "Our offensive strategy is to shoot the messenger," [Rick Berman] once told Chain Leader Magazine, a trade publication for restaurant chains (whose readership presumably doesn't include too many ordinary consumers). "We've got to attack [activists'] credibility as spokespersons."
(for a more in-depth report on the link between Berman's CUF and the Richies, see Sandlapper's DailyKos diary: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/8/27/182257/896

All of which recalls another Al Capone quote:

"I have built my organization upon fear."



Anonymous Anonymous said...


More revealed back in the Cornhusker State.

9/01/2006 10:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


More revealed back in the Cornhusker State.

9/01/2006 10:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


8/29/06 Editorial in Omaha World-Herald

9/01/2006 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger I am Coyote said...

I hate to break your fantastic conspiracy theory here. However I thought up the "debate the real governor," idea all by myself.

If you would check the archives "I linked to it in the post in which you cite," you would notice that I have been calling Tim Nesbitt the real Governor of Oregon long before the Rainy Day Measure ever hit the streets.

I was on the phone with someone the day that Kulongoski pulled his silly press stunt. I said "hey, Don should fire back that he is willing to debate the REAL Governor any day. Or if Nesbitt is not available then Kulongoski will do." So no real conspiracy there. Just typical political tit for tat.

You are also wrong about Don co-writing measure 37 and other measures around the country.

Although I am sure he would be flattered.

9/06/2006 04:19:00 AM  
Blogger ed waldo said...

Wow! THANKS Ted Piccolo! Of course, far from "breaking" my fantastic conspiracy theory, you only confirm a part I didn't know about. You see, the "Debate the real governor" response purportedly came from Don McIntyre, not you, Ted Piccolo. Now, I know that you and Paul Farago were two of three petitioners on the term limits petition that failed in 2004, and I'd wondered where you fit in to the current four Howie Rich financed initiatives here in Oregon, but gosh, I didn't know you were ghost-writing the Don McIntyre KELO press releases.

As for my 'being in error,' I stated: "McIntyre was also, reportedly, the TAO master brought in by Howie Rich and friends to author their ALG measures." There was such a report, and I reported on its existence. Since I have no confirmation of its accuracy, I noted its existence, which is PRECISELY correct and true.

So, factually, you're batting .000. When you'd like to make a FACTUAL correction, let me know. Meantime, thanks for confirming your role in this "fantastic conspiracy theory."

It certainly bolsters your credibility. (Well, that and your former Libertarian ties, of course).

9/06/2006 09:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, you are a real whack job. My goodness, you really can weave a creative web.

With that being said, you have at least one fact wrong: Don McIntyre DID NOT write Measure 37. I know this for a fact, because I am one of the co-authors of the measure.

Might want to fix that.

9/27/2006 08:42:00 AM  
Blogger ed waldo said...

I'm always glad to correct any errors of fact. But should I list the actual author of Measure 37 as Ted Piccolo? I Am Coyote? Doofus?

I mean, if I'm going to correct the article to say "Anonymous" wrote Measure 37, there wouldn't really be any point.

I know how hard this nitpicking must be on you, and certainly I understand that your best insults are probably in the shop -- but at least you tried. There's something in that.

9/27/2006 09:09:00 AM  

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