28 October 2006

Unlimited Terms of Endearment Part XXIX, Anatomy Of A Smear

or Howie's Politically Philanthropic Pornography

I might just ascribe the smear campaign to bitchiness, had it begun immediately after Great Falls, Montana's district court tossed out their ballot measures on September 13. Or even had it begun when, on Thursday, Montana's Supreme Court allowed the ruling to stand. In fact, that is breaking news, since only Montana papers seem to have noted the triple-initiative defeat:
Initiative ruling stands
Missoulian State Bureau

HELENA - Three conservative-leaning initiatives on the Nov. 7 ballot are invalid, a unanimous Montana Supreme Court ruled Thursday, and any votes for the measures will not be counted.

The court's ruling upholds a Sept. 13 decision by District Judge Dirk Sandefur of Great Falls, who said the measures should be tossed because of "pervasive fraud" by out-of-state, paid signature-gatherers ...
Having spent so much money and hidden their money so well in Montana, it must come as quite a disappointment to lose all three ballot measures in Montana for fraud less than two weeks before the November election.

[read the rest HERE. the news piece is a nice summary of the whole year-long Howie Rich & Friends mess in Montana]

But, alas, this smear campaign dates at least to September 22nd:
Coming soon...the Exposer of Foul Deeds, the Sunshine of the West, the Vorpal Sword, the hypomanic, the "published writer of thirty years" (Thirty Years, Folks!! Thirty Years!!), the Legend In His Own Mind...it's Hart Williams. Ta da!
According to the American Heritage Dictionary (4th Ed. 2000)"Hypomanic" means "A mild state of mania, especially as a phase of a manic-depressive cycle." This will not be the last time that I will be slyly accused of mental illness -- a foully fascinating debate tactic -- please note.

At some point, one of Howie Rich's many organizations -- perhaps Americans for Limited Government, perhaps U.S. Term Limits, undoubtedly one of the "Chicago" clusters of paired 501(c)3 and 501(c)4 organizations -- at some point, one or more of their operatives was assigned to track and smear me.

Sounds paranoid? It is, in fact, a well-considered hypothesis, completely in line with the facts. I invite you to judge for yourself, because this isn't a column about how injured I feel, or how unfairly I might feel treated. It isn't about potentially libelous actions taken as a way of negating an effective investigative series, and can almost certainly be taken as a high, if left-handed compliment.

After all, when a member of the media's "untouchable" caste -- the bloggers -- warrants the political attention of an organization that has spent $13.2 million (as estimated this week by the Center for Public Integrity) so far this year, it must mean that that blogger is considered a threat of some sort.

How do we know this?

Well, let's take a look at the producer of their "Sopranos" flash commercial (since removed for potential copyright violations) Political Media, Inc.

Here's what Political Media say on their website (and, presumably, tells their clientele):
The landscape of political marketing is changing. The Internet is blazing a path to a direct democracy. The traditional media of yesterday is no longer the primary source of information for voters, constituents, and advocates.
Digital Media is changing our politics. The World Wide Web is already a powerful influence on the public's access to government, the tactics and content of political campaigns, the behavior of voters, the efforts of activists to circulate their messages, and the ways in which topics enter the public discourse.

Political Media is shifting the understanding of citizenship in a historical context, promoting a (sic) interactive cyber-democracy and growing an online community.

Political Media is on the forefront of the new media.

Take a moment to review our proprietary state of the art multi-channel marketing tools, and schedule a phone consultation today.
So, it was interesting when, in the latter half of September, any number of attack blogs began relentlessly churning out bits and pieces ridiculing, attacking and smearing the opposition -- whomever the opposition was considered to be. Some had been set up in the summer or the spring, but several more were of September vintage.

And, the tenor of these attacks was discomfitingly personal:
SPEND Oregon

Our goal is to spend Oregon into the Dark Ages. Join SPEND Oregon and become part of The Wentz Gang. We need volunteers to put lipstick on our pigs and drown Rainy Day Amendment voters in the bathtub. Endorsed by Gov. Nesbitt. Trust us. SPEND it now.

July 21, 2006
About Us

SPEND Oregon is primarily Oregon government unions' best-trained political hatchetmen who know exactly how to hurt our state and take Oregon down the wrong path....
Now compare that to the counterattack launched by "NW Republican" on August 28, when Governor Ted Kulongoski challenged Howard Rich to come to Oregon and explain why he was paying all those initiatives on the Oregon ballot:
Everybody knows that Tim Nesbitt is and has been the real Governor of Oregon the last 4 years. Now we have the "Governor-In-Name-Only" Kulongoski acting all weird and calling for a debate of M48 supporter Howard Rich.
And, while the poster, "I Am Coyote" a/k/a Ted Piccolo has admitted that he's worked for Howard Rich in the past, there is no hint that this is anything other than a "Republican" common sense position. He quotes the Measure 48 Official Press Release in its entirety (although I have abridged it here):

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.

I must say, though, you might want to check your facts before releasing such an error-ridden note to the public ... 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.
Pretty nasty stuff in defense of Howard Rich. There's more where that came from. Lots more.

So, let's watch the slime-trail of personal smears against me, because they tie everyone very neatly together.

On September 18, the blog "Initiative Is A Good Thing" appeared.

And then, on September 25, this repellent little piece of work appeared:
Who is Hart Williams?

As I noted earlier, last Friday's PBS/NOW video on this year's crop of tax-limiting, property-rights-defending initiatives credits Hart Williams and his blog Boregasm with figuring out that these initiatives all get some (or much) of their funding from a common source ....
Clocking in at 2007 words (3221 words that day, since there is also a dual PBS/Hart smear also posted that day), it is a gutter-level attack of the most vicious sort. Since I am the subject of it, I won't attempt to characterize it further, except that it lowers the bar a couple of notches with compelling insights like this one:
From Hart's point-of-view, many things are conspiracies. Spies, conspiracies and connecting the dots figure in much of how he experiences the world.
more tinfoil hat stuff is heaped on:
In 2004, Hart ran for state assembly in Oregon, losing in the Democratic primary with less than 10% of the vote. During this race, he got into an endlessly dragged out and messy fight with his local Democratic party. They responded by kicking him out. He details this on his website. His exposure of the Democratic Party of Lane County, Oregon uses many of the same words and concepts that Hart brings to his writings about Howie Rich: shenanigans, secretive power structure, claims about allegedly illegal dealings and so on and so forth.
In other words, I'm a stone loon. But it gets worse:
I ended up finding him to be a terribly sad figure. He reminds me of the occasional political activist one meets who is extremely, extremely bright, capable of tremendous passion and engagement, who longs for connection with others, and who has a hard time finding that connection. Hart, who now prepares tax returns, made a living over the years writing pornography ...
and [same day]
Hart has a long history in the hardcore pornography biz, which outside of the precincts of the kooky left, makes him a less-than-fully-ideal spokesperson for the anti-initiative crowd...
In 1997, he produced his own adult movie, Moyst, which had additional production work in 2001 and which he started to market in 2003. (Here's an internet posting where he gives away a free download of some audio from the movie in an attempt to promote it.)

"Moyst" received a lukewarm notice in 2003 in AVN (Adult Video News). Reviewer Mark Kernes says: "It's not clear exactly what the objective of "Moyst" is. If it's to turn on the viewer, it's only marginally successful."

That observation must be the kiss of death for movies in this genre...
The weird conclusion seems to be that not only am I a pornographer (which is bad - except, ironically, to libertarians), but that I am a BAD pornographer:

(Quoting the "Langora" hit piece)
I understand that Williams is a frustrated adult porn writer and producer who bitterly failed in that business and now prepares tax returns.
And, of course, "Helen" psychoanalyzes me as being a woman hater or something like that:
He also wrote a diary about what attending the [1998 World Pornography] conference [at the Sheraton-Universal in Hollywood] was like. In the diary, he comes back again and again to a sense of grievance about the way the actresses treat (or ignore) him, In what may be a case of wounded pride or sour grapes, he resorts to belittling the actresses ... What can I say? These actresses really pushed his buttons...


Hart's complicated attitudes toward women come through in other writings as well. Here he attributes an unattractive mercenary streak to his first wife...
Gee. That's a hell of a long way from whether or not Howard Rich, the "philanthropist" is financing stealth initiatives for secretive reasons of his own. Like, a couple solar systems away. Maybe half a galaxy. A looooong way, at any event.

What is astonishing is that, at the end of dumping this barrel's worth of pus and slime onto the page, "Helen" protests that her delicate sensibilities (as a prude, one supposes) have been offended:
I forget to mention Hart's blog entry entitled "Katie Couric, Whore" which I do not have the stomach to re-read. [Note: Too bad. It's a damn fine post, phony prissiness notwithstanding. - HW]
This is an apt transition back to our old friend Coyote, who posted the smear in its entirety on NWRepublican on September 27th (the next day) and THEN (when it didn't fly) deleted it by October 3rd:

First, he explains (from the original post) lamely that he couldn't "trackback" what he was reposting. Then, having decided to withdraw the piece in question, he easily finds the link in question:
Because I could not find a way to trackback from Citizen Activist, I will repost the Citizen Activist story here. Most interesting is the end where he cries out to people to STOP SURVEILLING him. NOTE: I have not had time to check all the links to see if they work. If you are still really curious and they DON'T work then go to C[itizen-] A[ctivist] and try them from there.

WARNING: the following material contains content that may be offensive to some individuals. If you find issues of pornography particularly offensive as well as bad language you may not want to read any further.

In case folks did not notice, I have delted (sic) the copied content in this post. The reason? It was just too tawdry for me. You can go visit Citizen Activist if you would like to discuss it over there. Or you can read it there and discuss it over here.

So, call me a prude.
A strange prudery: to first post the smear in its entirety with glee, and THEN to take down the post claiming it was too salacious for the readership. If it was so awful, why post it? And, having posted it, why suddenly withdraw it?

A prudery that gleefully posts material that offends its own sensibilities ... or perhaps which failed to achieve its own objectives.

There is something, ultimately, unjust that no prude has ever been arrested for his drooling prudery; no bluenose ever tried for her delicious retelling of the obscenity that offended her; no censor ever jailed for leading a witch-hunt. But, as Coyote says, he is "a prude."

That's it, exactly as retroactively posted. [Fun Fact: the link to the nasty little "Sopranos" flash movie that was removed was posted by Coyote on September 29 in the same spot: ]

The point here being, golly, isn't it an amazing coincidence that Coyote would publish the piece in its entirety the day following its original posting in a new blog, just the same way that he posted the attack on Kulongoski within hours of Kulongoski's challenge to Howard Rich?

I don't think that this sort of thing happens entirely by coincidence. But, recall what New Media, Inc. says: we need to use the digital media for our political campaigns. And New Media is a place that we shall return to another day.

So: this interconnection of anonymous and semi-anonymous blogs is certainly a phenomenon. It should also be noted that "Initiative Is A Good Thing" ("Citizen-Activist") had already linked prominently to NWRepublican in their sidebar. They also link specifically to the "Who Is Hart Williams?" smear in that same sidebar, one of the only two postings so self-honored. (The other one is their attack on the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center's howierichexposed.org website, entitled -- with great originality -- "Who is Howard Rich?" The link doesn't work, however)

There's one last slur that day that should be seen before we play connect-the-dots between anonymous players here.
Monday, September 25, 2006
The book on "shenanigans"

If you read BISC or Howie Rich Exposed or Sandlapper or my personal favorite [link = http://www.hartwilliams.com/blog/blogger.html ], you will see the word "shenanigans" deployed over and over...and over...again.

So, I think to myself, do these good people not have access to a thesaurus? Did Hart learn nothing in his years of writing the Penthouse Forum letters?

In my public-minded way, I looked it up in a thesaurus so I could give them some style suggestions and now I get why they keep using the same word. There aren't any interesting alternatives:

Main Entry: shenanigans
Function: noun plural
Text: 1 playful, reckless behavior that is not intended to cause serious harm -- see MISCHIEF 1
2 wildly playful or mischievous behavior -- see HORSEPLAY
I will note that no specific thesaurus is cited. And, Gentle Reader, this lexicological dig wasn't enough, evidently, so, the following day "Helen" posted:

September 26:
I'll have to ask Hart if that's a shenanigan. I think so, but I'm not sure if I've learned how to spot them yet.
Let's clear this up, right now (since not only am I a woman-hating conspiracy theorist and a not-very-competent pornographer, but am, evidently, incapable of using the precise term I'm looking for (and too disgusting for our two "prudes.")

I use the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition, 2000:

n. Informal
1. A deceitful trick; an underhanded act.
2. Remarks intended to deceive; deceit.
Often used in the plural.
1. A playful or mischievous act; a prank.
2. Mischief; prankishness. Often used in the plural.
[Origin unknown.]
Or, as long as we're playing dueling dictionaries:

from WordNet 2.0, © 2003 Princeton University

n 1: reckless or malicious behavior that causes discomfort or annoyance in others [syn: mischief, mischief-making, mischievousness, deviltry, devilry, devilment, rascality, roguery, roguishness] 2: the use of tricks to deceive someone (usually to extract money from them) [syn: trickery, chicanery, chicane, guile, wile]
My use of the term was, in fact, precise, minus a carefully selective thesaurus search -- which is odd, since definitions are usually found in dictionaries. Only synonyms and antonyms are generally found in thesauri. Were this not the hallmark of this "hit" research -- cherry picking to form the most unfavorable possible interpretations of quoted writings -- it would go unremarked by me.

As it is, it is symptomatic of the "factual" nature of the smear, which is why I haven't bothered rebutting most of the distorted or false allegations.

It seems a sidelight, but it is a useful sidelight: the entire attack is based on a sort of "look down your nose" sense of effete, elite disparagement that distorts facts to create a skein of innuendo and general creepiness. The psychobabbled pseudoanalysis is only matched in its offensiveness by its very irrelevance. (see the definition of "dead agenting" and a different analysis of the smear and "Helen's" anonymity at 'Really I Must Protest']

[NOTE: for a comparison of writing styles between the "Helen Langora" pieces and another 'official' ALG attack, see Part XII ]

None of which has anything to do with Howard Rich's shenanigans, please note. And the shenanigans continued:

In the comments section of that smear piece, the following characters show up to foolishly heap derision.
"Irresponsible Spender" writes:

Hart, it's not that you were a pornographer ... it's that you weren't good enough at it to - er - stick. Can you share the details of how BISC recruited you? That would make a juicy story. 10:17 PM
Irresponsible Spender is the person who runs and posts on the SPEND Oregon website cited earlier. And then, there is "I Am Coyote," confirming (with just the mildest bit of baiting on my part) that he's Ted Piccolo:
Sorry to burst this particular angle of your conspiracy theory but I am not Irresponsible Spender or Helen.

I post under my own handle.

Oh and it is no big secret as to who the Coyote is. After all I have been in the Oregonian a number of times as the author of NWRepublican. Even as recently as last week on the FRONT PAGE.

7:58 PM
And then, "Silence Dogood" (Ben Franklin's old teenage Boston newspaper pseudonym) says this:
Even though Brandy Alexandre spat Hart out back then, the MSM are swallowing it whole right now. Now that he's a celebrity, Hart needs to go on Nip/Tuck for one of those foreskin augmentations. He's worn his a little thin.

3:57 PM
Except that you'll note that "Silence Dogood" is ALSO the poster on oregonfoia.blogspot.com . Kurt Weber of Oregon's own CitizenFOIA -- a/k/a "Citizens In Charge" Eric O'Keefe, Chris Kliesmet, Leslie Graves, Paul Jacob et al.

Gee: Coyote/Piccolo, who was co-petitioner on the failed Howard Rich Term Limits petition drive in 2004, and "Irresponsible Spender" from the SPEND Oregon "parody"/attack blog, AND (Silence Dogood) Kurt Weber, co-petitioner on THIS year's term limits initiative, whose signature was on all those FOIA faxes demanding public employee email records a couple weeks ago?

Oh, in two months, there are hardly ANY other comments on the "Citizen-Activist" blog.

So: ALL of the comments from Howard Rich operatives that day. You don't suppose they're emailing each other, do you?

That confluence of comments on the brand-new "Citizen-Activist" blog MUST just be a coincidence. There you go.

But the interconnected smear continued: In the hysterical -- either funny or just plain hysterical -- response to BISC's www.howierichexposed.org site, a "parody" page was put up entitled www.angryleftexposed.com which has this strange, snarky page:


Notice in the lower left hand corner, it says:
Visit getliberty.org to join our mailing list...and help fight Angry Leftitus today!
When you go to getliberty.org, you get Americans For Limited Government. And they admit ownership of the "Angry Left Exposed" (ALE, get it?) site.

And, when you go to the ALG site,
Board of Directors: Executive Committee Members

Howard Rich, Chairman
Eric O'Keefe, Chair, Executive Committee
John Tillman
Ed Crane
Willliam Wilson (sic)
So, "Angry Left Exposed" is paid for, by and through the aforementioned gentlemen. That much is clear and indisputable.

Now, we read the page:

Unofficial motto: "Someday I'll be famous! Although I disdain fame and all its trappings…please, let me be famous!* Just like Al Franken or Michael Moore!"

Hobbies: Being not as funny as Al Franken or as creative as Michael Moore-which really says something, people.

Special power: Crafting breathless rants while simultaneousy mourning their stunted pornography/journalism/science fiction writing career.

Sugar Daddy: To be determined…

Likes: Venting their deepest frustrations in life to the world; avoiding public places.

Hates: "Evil" rich people; apple pie; the voices in their head.

Kryptonite: Memories of high school.

*Editor's note: These comments were posted even before Angry Left Exposed went live!!! On a Friday night, no less! How do they do it over there? Is there no rest for the bloggy? Or is this all a side effect of Angry Leftitus?
Note that two nasty snarks are aimed directly at me. The links are:

Unofficial motto: "Someday I'll be famous! Although I disdain fame and all its trappings ... please, let me be famous! *

Which is my September 29, DailyKos diary entitled "ALG smear of DailyKos diarists only tip of iceberg."

I can take solace in the fact, I suppose, that I am now a thorn in someone's side on the order of Al Franken or Michael Moore. Certainly they are complimenting me in a strange left-handed way to attempt such a "guilt by association" ploy.

And the following paragraph ...
Special power: Crafting breathless rants while simultaneousy mourning their stunted pornography/journalism/science fiction writing career.
links to: http://citizen-activist.blogspot.com/2006/09/who-is-hart-williams.html

That's right. The "Helen Langora" smear piece. Funny that it would be a link three days after the September 26 post. You don't suppose "Helen Langora" works for ALG do you?

Finally, there is the weird accusation of some weird "hack" on my part with the asterisk-flagged (*) statement at the bottom:
*Editor's note: These comments [my DailyKos blog, "ALG smear of DailyKos diarists only tip of iceberg"] were posted even before Angry Left Exposed went live!!! On a Friday night, no less! How do they do it over there? Is there no rest for the bloggy? Or is this all a side effect of Angry Leftitus?
The mystery is easily solved: I had noticed a new referring link to my blog. So, I clicked on the link. And that was when I found "Angry Leftitus" and their smear.

Given the "Editor's note" we can safely deduce that I had inadvertently stumbled on the ALG webmaster checking out page links. To which I can only say, had you not linked to my page, I may not have known about the "angry left exposed" page for a week or more. Your fault, not mine. Didn't mean to be so quick. Sorry.

But the "Langora" smear piece resurfaces again October first (and again on Oct 26), this time in the grubby paw of Laird Maxwell, on the Sun Valley blog in Idaho.

Maxwell had been in an extended blog debate with Nils Ribi, a Sun Valley City Council member about his "This House Is My Home" (Prop 2) Howard Rich/ALG-funded initiative, but then, evidently frustrated, decided to write this vicious little love note:
Laird Maxwell Says:
October 1st, 2006 at 2:37 pm


With all due respect, you are relying heavily on a poor lost soul named Hart Williams and his oddly-named blog, Boregasm.

I understand that Williams is a frustrated adult porn writer and producer who bitterly failed in that business and now prepares tax returns.

Here is a link if you are interested in finding out more about your source:

(I confronted Maxwell, but he ran away.)

And then, watching that blog, I found Maxwell again, a month after the original posting of the "Langora" smear piece:
Laird Maxwell Says:
October 26th, 2006 at 9:31 am

Who is Hart Williams ??

Click here:

Hart Williams: A failed pornographer who now does tax returns and runs his creepy blog "Boregasm." This guy did most of the research that anti-Prop 2 opponents distribute on their web site, TV ads and false literature. http://citizen-activist.blogspot.com/2006/09/who-is-hart-williams.html

WARNING: Not suitable for children.
Funny, that sure mirrors the "Coyote" warning of a month earlier.

(Confronted Maxwell again; again he ran away.)

What finally traces the wiring of the stealth network is this strange, circuitous link on the "Citizen-Activist" blog, October 26 (same day):

The ring is in its pocketssess, yessss, and I will talk to my friendssesss at the Center for Public Integrity. I know I give them plenty of nice fisshhesssss. Millionsesss of nice tasty fishessss. Millionsess.

They will crawl through the trash of the nasty hobbitsesses, won't they, my preciousssss?

And, oh, yessss. They have found it, my precious. The shiny good dirt. My preciousss. Yessss.

I will tell my friendsess the orcsess so they can post commentses on obscure blogssesss.
(Charitably, one might presume that "Helen Langora" was attempting to be 'funny.' Uncharitably, "Langora" might be best advised against commenting on the relative sanity of others.)

The linked page on "commentses on obscure blogssesss." is that same page on which Laird Maxwell posted his comment (at 9:31 AM, please note). At the end of the "Citizen-Activist" blog, with the effusion of serpentine ssssssss'es it says: posted by Helen Langora at 8:20 PM.

Jeepers, but that's a quick response from Helen! And odd that Laird links back to her in the morning, and she writes about it by that evening, closing the circuit: the smear has become self-referential. Certainly there is a very high probability of a direct exchange between the anonymous Langora and the ominous Maxwell.

Confused? You and me both, Gentle Reader. But can we safely conclude that this whole attempt to smear me is coordinated? That seems a safe conclusion, recognizing that it is merely a fair conclusion and not a dead certainty.

But can we conclude that ALG money is behind it?

Without any doubt. The Angry Leftitus website is proof of that. Without question ALG money is behind part of it.

The ONLY questions, in fact, is how MUCH of it is ALG money, and how much money?

[One casually wonders whether that money came from one of the 501(c)3 fully tax-deductible "public education" charities, or from the 501(c)4 not-tax-deductible BUT we-don't-have-to-tell-you-where-we-get-our-money foundations.]

The FACT that ALG money has been used in an attempt to discredit my reporting is, however, indisputable.

Unfortunately, the "discredit" portion hasn't been working.

Becky pointed out on Preemptive Karma:
Anyhoo, Ted [Piccolo], who obviously has his head up Howard Rich's ass, believes Rich never tried to hide anything, so voila, there is no conspiracy. I've been communicating off and on with a former Howard Rich insider who has repeatedly assured me that the group did NOT wish to be discovered. And it has been extremely clear, if you've followed Hart's research on Boregasm, that my source's assertions are correct - his group went to great lengths to cover their tracks. In fact, this person expressed shock when, once their secrets were coming to light, Rich, et al abandoned their secrecy and confirmed their involvement like it was no big deal.

But let's get on with Ted's primary assertion: basically, he thinks Hart is a pervert; therefore, his theory that there was a secret conspiracy (which, unfortunately for Howard Rich and all the idiots on his payroll, is based on solid factual evidence) is nonsense.
To which Coyote brilliantly shot back:
Oh, on a slightly different note.

Is there no comment about his involvement in pornography? I mean isn't that the exploitation of women?

Especially women who drop out of high school?

Oh I understand that women of legal age have the right to engage in such exploits. Hey it happens and there is a market for it.

However, call me uninformed, I have always had this picture of the stereotypical porn director/producer as being a pretty self-centered male who really has no personal concern for the women (girls?) he hires.

You know it is just not the type of guy I would want my daughter to associate with...
Coyote 09.27.06 - 12:49 pm
[you might want to read the whole post and comment debate:]

You may note that they seem desperate to change the subject of their shenanigans. Thus far, they really haven't been very successful. The smear was launched in earnest.

But it ain't playin' all that well in Peoria.

So: what do we have?

How about this: In understanding the history of one such smear, we get a sense of ALL the "new media" smears they're running like this.

This isn't about personal vindication. The point is that I'm not the only one. (Nor even the only one who is painted as "hostile" to women):
Friday, October 13, 2006
Tell Oliver Griswold: Stop Picking On Girls

... Today, let's talk about BISC Communications Director Oliver Griswold, and how he is picking on girls.

First, scroll down over these staff photos. Look like girls to me.

Second, go to Oliver's proud creation of a dossier on these girls.

I could say "more contemptiple (sic) McCarthyism" or I could just say "what an idiot Oliver is." ... (Helen Langora)
Or consider today's "Citizen Activist" bundle of joy:

It's the Homos, Stupid

This in defense of philanthropy?

Good lord.

We have to question the "civic virtue" of ballot propositions being pushed in this manner. If the arguments are this sleazy and vicious, then shouldn't the ballot measures be seen in precisely the same light: sleazy and vicious?

After all, we only have THEIR word that Howard Rich is just a nice guy helping out "local activists." You know, like Laird Maxwell and Kurt Weber.

Now, all of this must, finally, be weighed against the oft-repeated canard that Howard Rich is a "philanthropist."

If this is, in fact, so, then he is not engaged any form of philanthropy with which I am acquainted -- especially given the actions of his operatives in pursuit of that "philanthropy."

A strange philanthropy, indeed.

But then, this is all just crazy "conspiracy theory." Right?


27 October 2006

Unlimited Terms of Endearment Part XXVIII: Howie Goes International!

For good or ill, the Howard Rich/Americans for Limited Government story is breaking out like a bad case of hives. The Guardian in England, the Nepal National (in Himalayan Nepal) and the Irish Sun (in, one would presume, Ireland) are carrying the following AP story:
Ballot Measures Seek Limited Government
Thursday October 26, 2006 7:31 PM

AP National Writer

NEW YORK (AP) - He lives in New York City; his name is on no ballot. Yet real estate investor Howard Rich is a key reason why citizens in distant states will be voting Nov. 7 on bitterly contested initiatives that would limit state spending, impose term limits and curb land-use regulation.

Rich is a libertarian who vigorously champions the cause of limited government. He is the driving force behind a network of groups that has promoted ballot measures in at least 14 states this year.

Several of the campaigns were derailed by legal and signature-gathering problems. But states where Rich-backed measures did make the ballot - often with most of their funding from his network - include Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Maine, Nebraska, Oregon and Washington.

His adversaries view Rich as a menace, deploying large sums of money to export a potentially harmful ideology to states where he has no personal stake. Others see him as a committed political philanthropist, acting on his convictions in ways that are a legitimate part of U.S. democracy.

Rich declines to provide financial details of his efforts and his donor list. The liberal Ballot Initiative Strategy Center - a critic of Rich - said this week the total spending by his affiliated groups on 2006 ballot measures has exceeded $13.2 million.

Agreeing to answer questions only by e-mail, Rich said he had followed all campaign finance rules...
Alas, this doesn't seem to be entirely true.

Today, the Center for Public Integrity broke this story:

Proposition 90’s Never-Again Donors?
One-Time-Only Contributions to California Campaign Circumvent Disclosure Trigger

WASHINGTON, October 26, 2006 – More than $3 million in contributions to California’s Protect Our Homes Coalition, the chief backer of Proposition 90, appear to have been orchestrated to circumvent state disclosure laws, the Center for Public Integrity reported today.

The contributors are all out-of-state political funds headed by or otherwise connected to Howard Rich, a political activist who lives in New York City and has been leading the charge for takings initiatives that will be put before voters in five Western states on November 7. Like the other initiatives, Proposition 90 would compel governments to pay property owners for environmental and land-use regulations (including zoning rules) that could reduce the value of their holdings.

Campaign finance reports filed by the Protect Our Homes Coalition revealed an unusual pattern of large, one-time infusions of cash from interrelated out-of-state entities that to date have not publicly disclosed their sources of funds.

The Center for Public Integrity’s review of public filings shows that five political funds connected to Rich have poured — in single, successive donations — more than $3.3 million into the Protect Our Homes Coalition.

For the full story, go to www.takingsinitiatives.org .

Yesterday, they broke THIS story:

Tax-Exempt Group Backing ‘Takings’ Initiatives Operated Illegally, Center for Public Integrity Reports

WASHINGTON, October 25, 2006 – A Chicago-based tax-exempt organization that has been bankrolling takings initiatives in more than a half-dozen Western states — including all five with measures on the ballot this November 7 — continued to dispense millions of dollars even after its authority to do business had been revoked by Illinois authorities, the Center for Public Integrity reported today.

The tax-exempt organization, Americans for Limited Government, Inc., has given at least $2.5 million this year to groups pushing the ballot initiatives. But much of this activity came during a period when it had no legal standing to operate from Illinois, the Center’s Takings Initiatives Accountability Project reported. Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White revoked the nonprofit’s certificate of authority to do business in the state on February 1, 2006, citing its failure to file an annual report as required by law.

In the eight months that Americans for Limited Government operated illegally in Illinois:

  • It was the largest donor ($892,000) to the Arizona HomeOwners Protection Effort, which is backing Proposition 207.

  • It was the largest donor ($168,778) to People’s Initiative to Stop the Taking of Our Land (PISTOL), which is backing Question 2 in Nevada.

  • It was the largest donor ($260,000) to the Property Fairness Coalition, which is backing Initiative 933 in Washington State.

  • It was the largest donor (more than $2 million) to America at its Best, a tax-exempt organization in Virginia that was the second-largest donor to both This House Is MY Home, the chief proponent of Proposition 2 in Idaho, and Missourians in Charge, which backed a failed takings in that state.

The organization’s authority to do business in the state was not reinstated until September 22.

Neither story seems to back up Howie Rich's claims of squeaky cleanness. Neither is there any reason to accept his assertions of philanthropy, given his unending prediliction for secrecy and byzantine schemes to move mystery money through a seeming army of foundations, organizations, sub-organizations and state-by-state lieutenants.

In fact, the last story was greeted with THIS shrill, over-the-top press release:
Thursday, October 26, 2006
George Soros-Funded Front Group Launches Defamation Campaign Against ALG

Center for Public Integrity makes false, desperate claims to block protections for homes, businesses, and churches across America

CHICAGO, Oct. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- The following is for immediate release from Americans for Limited Government:

Yesterday, a George Soros-funded front group sank to new lows by launching a desperate attack on Americans for Limited Government, a group that supports movements to protect property rights across the country.

On its website, the ironically-named Center for Public Integrity (CPI), a thinly-veiled, radical left attack machine, claims that ALG has been operating "illegally" for late renewal of a license. Unfortunately for CPI, however, ALG was never required to have the license they refer to in the first place.

"They might as well have accused us of not renewing our underwater basket- weaving license," said John Tillman, President of Americans for Limited Government. "That's how ridiculous this attack is. For people who are desperate to distract from the issues, however, it's par for the course."

Americans for Limited Government is a Delaware non-profit corporation in good standing and, as such, has never had any obligation to register with the Illinois Secretary of State. In 2002, Americans for Limited Government registered with the Illinois Secretary of State as a foreign corporation as a formality, even though, as noted, it was not required. "Apparently," Tillman noted, "no good deed goes unpunished -- at least not when you've got people who are paid to sling false accusations your way."

This registration, which ALG was under no obligation to have in the first place, lapsed when renewal notices were not forwarded to the correct address. Margie Johnson, who handles the re-instatements at the Illinois Secretary of State, said that this is a common situation. "This is a routine thing," she said. "I couldn't even tell you how many we get a year, hundreds if not thousands. The only penalties are for the late filing fees....otherwise, the state takes no action and there are no other consequences. The only bad thing that could happen is that someone else could take your legal name while you are lapsed."

Johnson also noted that "once a corporation files its re-instatement, it's reinstated in good standing with no lapse in continuity." Any and all contributions made by Americans for Limited Government have thus been perfectly legal, regardless of its corporate status in Illinois. In addition, the Americans for Limited Government Research Foundation has also applied for reinstatement and expects to be granted reinstatement shortly.

"Plain and simple, CPI has a huge disdain for the voters and is desperate to stop them from having a say," Tillman said. "They would rather side with government bureaucrats than with the people across the country whose homes, businesses, and houses of worship are threatened by unjust government takings, and they'll resort to lies and personal attacks to do so. That's just sad."

For a list of the other inaccuracies on the Center for Public Integrity website, visit http://www.getliberty.org/ . For more information, e-mail John Tillman at jtillman@getliberty.org.

Source: Americans for Limited Government

CONTACT: John Tillman, Americans for Limited Government,

Web site: http://www.getliberty.org/

Even the usually unflappable Tillman's sound bites seem a tad hysterical. Given the purple prose, and the shrieking paranoia of the press release, we may well have established what Heather Wilhelm, the ALG communication director, has been up to lately. It was, after all, right after an August screech much like this one to the Lincoln Journal Star (Nebr.) that Ms. Wilhelm vanished from sight. Sandlapper spoke of this at DailyKos on Tuesday.

Simple PR 101 suggests that you never let em see you sweat. Certainly you don't unleash a torrent of invective this Over The Top if you're clearly in the right. Oh, and while we're on the subject of credibility:
"The Center for Public Integrity is a nonprofit, nonpartisan Washington, D.C.-based organization that does investigative reporting and research on significant public issues. Since 1990, the Center has released more than 300 investigative reports and 15 books. It has received the prestigious George Polk Award and more than 20 other journalism awards and 16 finalist nominations from national organizations, including PEN USA and Investigative Reporters and Editors. In April 2006, the Society of Professional Journalists recognized the Center with a national award for excellence in online public service journalism for the fifth consecutive year. In October 2006, the Center also was honored with the Online News Association’s coveted General Excellence award."
Funny, I hadn't realized that the George Polk Award (which is, frankly, quite a bit more prestigious than a Pulitzer, no matter what Columbia University says) was handed out to "thinly-veiled, radical left attack machine"s. But you know how smart those Phillips Fellowship winners are. So, I guess it must be true if Howard Rich's press flak says it's so.

Or, perhaps we all weren't born yesterday.

Meantime, Howie and the gang are already looking forward to 2007 or 2008. In North Dakota, financials were filed on Wednesday, the 25th. And this interesting little tidbit appeared after a little digging (The earlier, summer disclosure document is all goose eggs).

(Hint: search for the initiative campaign committee name)
Name: Citizens to Restrict Eminent Domain
Previous Names: C-RED
Registration Date: 01/13/2006

Address 1: PO Box 38
City, State Zip: Bismarck, ND 58502
Telephone: 701.****

In Support of Measure: Relates to the taking of private property
Agent Name: Ms. Kari Haugland
Agent Title or Position: Office Manager
Agent Telephone: 701.****

Person Completing Report: Kari Haugland

Date Report Filed: 10/25/2006
Total Cash On Hand at Start of Reporting Period: $0.00
Total Cash On Hand at Close of Reporting Period: $6,681.55
Total Contributions Greater Than 100: $12,200.00
Total Contributions Less Than or Equal to 100: $125.00
Total of All Contributions: $12,325.00
Total Expenditures Greater Than 100: $5,643.45
Total Expenditures Less Than or Equal to 100: $0.00
Total of All Expenditures: $5,643.45

3 Contributions found:

America At Its Best
PO Box 1678
Kalispell, MT 59903
Date / Amount: 09/13/2006 $10,000.00

Berg, James
7013 79th Ave NE
Starkweather, ND 58377
Date / Amount: 10/18/2006 $200.00

Landowners Assoc of ND
PO Box 38
Bismarck, ND 58502
Date / Amount: 10/19/2006 $2,000.00
Gee. With those totaling $12,200, there must have been $125 in contributions less than $100. That means we're looking at another "grass roots" movement, assuming that every one of those contributions averaged $1, then that would be ... 127 contributors. And, true to form, the Howard Rich-financed group has given 81% of the money to start the initiative campaign. One can only guess where the Landowners Association got their money. (Recently, coincidentally, they formed a separate 501(c)3 charitable organization, so you can give the foundation contributions that are fully tax deductable.)

[It's like that deja vu thing: Why does one get such a strong feeling that one has been here before?]

Of course, Duncan Scott, our old friend from Montana is disbursing the funds, supposedly at Laird Maxwell's discretion. After all, earlier in the summer, John Tillman told the Omaha World Herald (one of the few newspapers that have looked at this story more than superficially) that all that money given to America At Its Best ... well, let the OWH editorial from August 29 recount Mr. Tillman's nonchalance:
Yet when John Tillman, the president of the activist group [ALG], was asked about the ballot proposal by the World-Herald reporters, he responded: "We have no position on the humane care measure. I've not even read that amendment."

That statement is a curious one, given that Tillman's organization gave no less than $2.4 million to support the humane care measure - the largest donation by far from any group.

So, what is going on?
Well, Laird Maxwell explains how it works in the August 27 article the editorial refers to:
Maxwell, of Boise, Idaho, heads America at Its Best, the Montana group through which money for the humane care and spending measures flowed... As for who ultimately funded the effort, Maxwell said: "People from all over the nation. I don't really know. It's a national movement. I send donors to ALG. They send donations and donors to me."
Got that? Good. Because, when asked why he gave several hundred thousand dollars to an Omaha attorney named Thomas Mann (who was the Nebraska point man for the humane care measure), Maxwell responded thusly about why he directed Duncan Scott to send hundreds of thousands of dollars to Mann:
Asked how he learned of Thomas Mann, Maxwell said: "Thomas Mann? Who's he?"

Reminded of Mann's position with the Nebraskans for Humane Care Committee, Maxwell said he recalled speaking with Mann and his wife once on a conference call.
So, there you have it. The Center for Public Integrity is a left wing attack machine. John Tillman, normally unflappable is nervous, but may soon return to Sgt. Schultz (of "Hogan's Heroes") somnambulance, and Duncan Scott is still shuffling that good old ALG money out of Kalispell, Montana for another Kelo/Eminant Domain petition drive in North Dakota next year, or the year after. It is, as that Siamese king Yul Brynner played so famously once said, "a puzzlement."

But all is not utter gloom, chaos and despair: somewhere, far from the madding, noisome crowd, I can hear the moonbats barking softly in the chill October night. They're hearing them all over the world tonight, methinks.


24 October 2006

Unlimited Terms of Endearment Part XXVII, A Thousand Words (more or less)

This story remains under the media radar to this very day. You know how you can tell?

Howard Rich has been the focus of attention since July and was partially glimpsed even earlier in the spring by any number of state reporters. Actually, he's been doing this since at LEAST 1992 (although in 1983, he and Paul Jacob were in Connecticut under assumed names, Jacob being on the lam from the FBI at the time and all). So, for a long time, Howard Rich has been running initiative campaigns.

But, to this date, 14 days before the election in which Howard Rich's ballot measures will succeed or fail in seven states -- perhaps eight, depending on the Montana Supreme Court, and a bizarre election in which the people of Montana will STILL vote on the currently disallowed measures -- to this very date, only a single photograph of Rich has been used by the media, taken by the media, or found by the media: the high-school-yearbook sized "smiling" Howie Rich from the ALG website, first located by Barbecue & Politics in South Carolina, then by 4&20 Blackbirds in Montana, and then used by PBS' NOW newsmagazine, and used by the San Francisco CHRONICLE as the model for a line drawing, and now used in like manner by a like periodical -- and no, I don't remember which one, nor is it valuable in any manner to locate the link or research it.

How futile would it be to research the non-research of the media? Because that's what it would be, and that is what it is.

WHERE is an actual picture of Howard Rich? I've posted those that are publicly available that I could find. But no media story has yet gone THAT far.

Follow the Money

(hey, at least the SF Chronicle DID
something, although, cropped, he does
sort of look like "My Favorite Martian")

I should, perhaps feel more than a little sheepish that I only caught additional Richian referenda in Colorado and New Hampshire, except that no one much seems to have noticed, either.

Come on.

I'm just a lone blogger with a simple computer and a dial-up line. If I can find photos of Howard Rich, then why can't some photographer or camera crew get some footage of Howie? Certainly when you're unrepentantly trying to change the laws in what began as dozens of states, you're surely a public figure, and a newsworthy one.

But no: Howard Rich and his shadowy backers can shovel tens of millions of dollars into state after state; can launch a DOS attack on eight states, and threaten all 24 initiative states by the end of the year ... and we can't even get a fresh photo of Howard Rich.

How damned incompetent is that?

The media has gone so dead to sleep that even when their noses are smeared in it, even when the story has proceeded for months now (California just discovered it in October, it seems), nothing much happens. Howie Rich, New Estate York Magnate Developer Kelo, TABOR, etc. etc. etc.

Same story. Over and over again. It's so morbidly somnambulant that here we are, precisely 14 days before the election, and we don't even have a news PICTURE of Howard S. Rich, although we've seen the door to the building he operates from at 73 Spring Street, NYC 10012, thanks to reporter Maria Hinajosa of PBS' NOW.

But, on the face of it, something weird and 'newsworthy' is going on. I know it's complicated, media. But it's still your job to notice.

Here's the latest figures on what "America At Its Best" has gotten in funds for its campaigns in Nebraska and Idaho:
$ 2030000.00

NEW YORK, NY 10012
$ 400000.00

$ 50000.00

$ 100000.00

[Source: Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission]
Some rich guy(s) think(s) that the USA is his/their own private model train set, and tinker(s) with the tracks in (over the past two years): Maine, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, Colorado, California, Idaho, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Michigan, Arkansas, Montana, Kansas, Missouri, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, New York, Arizona, Nevada, and lord-knows-where-else.
Oct. 17, 2006
Lisa Vorderbrueggen

"In the eight states with initiatives, Rich-led organizations provided 88 percent of the funding, according to the Center for Public Integrity. In California, Rich's groups have contributed $3.3 million of the $3.6 million collected...."
But do we have so much as a photograph? Not the 'official' photograph that Howie Rich chose. But a NEWS photo. Just one? Anyone? If he was picked up by the local cops for drinking, they'd have a picture.

We do have ONE spoken interview (thanks to Ray Ring). We have a few shreds of email exchanges with reporters. We have an oft-repeated sound bite about "helping out local activists" -- which has proven patently absurd. We have one article with some biographical data. (His father sold eggs.) And that's it.

Oh, and while we're on the subject of new/old news, here's a little breaking news on the old/new Colorado Howard Rich initiative on term limiting judges, funded almost entirely by "Colorado At Its Best" which also ponied up $50,000 to the California Prop. 90 Campaign:

GLENVIEW, IL 60025-5159

GLENVIEW, IL 60025-5159

GLENVIEW, IL 60025-5159

GLENVIEW, IL 60025-5159

240 WAUKEGAN RD # 200
GLENVIEW, IL 60025-5159

GLENVIEW, IL 60025-5159

GLENVIEW, IL 60025-5159

GLENVIEW, IL 60025-5159
Bravo, media! Huzzah! You proud warriors of the Fourth Estate have mounted a race that wouldn't challenge the sprinting abilities of a tree sloth. Take a bow. You've earned it.

Or just consider Oregon. Paul Farago and Kurt Weber have led the campaign since August.

Which is odd, or ought to be, to the Oregon media.

Why? Well, Steve Law of the Salem STATESMAN-JOURNAL, in his February interview with THEN-official petitioner Ted Berthelote (a retired Washington State dentist, who retired to Oregon in 2002 to the exclusive resort community in Bend, Oregon, just down the road from the Tom Weiskopf-designed Broken Top Golf Course), got two strange utterances from Berthelote:

First that Berthelote had been "recruited." Secondly, that Berthelote refused to reveal who had recruited him for the petition drive:
Oregon might vote on term limits again
Initiative would put 14-year cap on total service for legislators
[Salem, Ore.] Statesman Journal

February 7, 2006

Berthelote, who moved to Oregon four years ago, said he was approached by term-limits backers who read a guest opinion column that he wrote for The Bulletin in Bend. He declined to say who would run the campaign or identify the backers.

"I guess you'll just have to find out," he said.
That ought to have raised an eyebrow or two somewhere, one would think. And then, when the petitions had been turned in and the ballot measure certified, out come scuttling Paul Farago and Kurt Weber.

And THAT ought to have raised an eyebrow as well.

Farago was a founding board member of U.S. Term Limits in 1992, immediately after its dumping by the Koch brothers (as the Citizens for Congressional Reform, whose stated purpose was to elect a Republican congress, by term limiting out the Democrats) and purchase by Howard Rich. I don't expect the Oregon media to know that. But I DO expect them to have some inkling that Farago has been the chief petitioner for this proposal in Oregon, going back to 1994.

So, why the 'bait and switch'? Why would Mr. Farago want to keep his identity secret through the early part of the process?

I mean, when your name is associated with "Term Limits" in Oregon like "bread" is with "butter," why the sudden shadowy anonymity? Why the subterfuge? Is there something DISHONEST going on here?

Alas, torpid in their siesta, the Oregon media sleep blissfully on.

And why is Kurt Weber's name the name on all those faxes that bombarded Oregon school and governmental offices with requests to see vast quantities of email two weeks ago?

And what is the connection between Weber's and Farago's recent stints as paid employees/officers of the Cascade Policy Institute in Portland?

Inquiring minds might want to know, but the media most assuredly doesn't seem to. They seem to be watching that glowing butterfly in the commercials they run for the geriatric demographic that watches the evening network news.

Which I don't understand.

It was quite a bemusement last night when a door-to-door pony-tailed graybeard came to my door last night to warn me about this "Howard Rich" guy from New York and warn me not to vote for measures 41 and 48. I nodded soberly, took his handout card and wished him well in his canvassing.

He felt a need to tell me what was going on, as I've felt a need to tell YOU what's been going on. But I can tell you this much, media:

Every time I espy people who have learned about this whole sorry morass of rich pettifoggery, they get MAD. They want to know WHY nobody told them about this before.

And, you know what, media?

That's a damned good question.

Picture this: Howard Rich. I've got a thousand words here, more or less, and I'm willing to trade.


23 October 2006

Unlimited Terms of Endearment Part XXVI: Bringing Home The Bacon

Well, then: if you read the (seemingly interminable) three parts of "Duncan Scott," you have a sense of the entire political movement that swirled out of the '83 Libertarian schism in New York -- to become the modern initiative machine that the eponymous rich man of New York seemingly coordinates.

If not, Gentle Reader, no matter: the story suddenly returns to the present on several fronts.

Add TWO new states to the mix (geez, these guys ARE prolific). A group called "Colorado At Its Best" has donated significant cash to the California Proposition 90 campaign.
Mogul's network bankrolls Prop. 90
Web of advocacy groups funnels millions to pass property rights initiative

Patrick Hoge, [Sasn Francisco] Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, October 5, 2006

[Proposition 90 - Eminent Domain] Donations included:

$1.5 million from Rich's Fund for Democracy, which he describes simply as "a trust.'' The organization is not incorporated and has no publicly stated aim.

$1 million from Americans for Limited Government, a tax-exempt advocacy group that Rich runs. The group's stated purpose is to promote smaller government, according to tax documents.

$600,000 from Montanans In Action, a tax-exempt group incorporated in December that received seed money from Americans for Limited Government. A Montana attorney is fighting to get the donors' names disclosed.

$220,000 from the Club for Growth State Action, a tax-exempt group of which Rich is a director. The group promotes "economic growth, limited government and minimal taxation," according to documents.

$50,000 from Colorado At Its Best, a tax-exempt group of which Rich is a director. Documents state the group's goal is to affect policy on "education, government operations and efficiency and representative democracy." [emphasis added]
Yup: Colorado At Its Best, who turn out to be funding the lion's share of well, let the Rocky Mountain News tell the tale:
Rival ads debate limits for judges
By Sara Burnett, Rocky Mountain News
October 7, 2006

The two sides in the debate over limiting state Supreme Court justices and appellate court judges to 10 years on the bench will hit the airwaves next week with $1.2 million worth of radio and television ads....

Limit the Judges, the group supporting the ballot initiative, has spent about $300,000 on statewide ads that will run on radio and cable television, said John Andrews, the group's chairman. Limit the Judges has received almost all of its money from Colorado At Its Best, a Golden-based organization that supports term limits. [emphasis added]
Chief Petitioner? Dennis Polhill, who, as a senior Fellow at the Independence Institute in Golden, Colorado, is a regular player in the Colorado petition game. Jon Caldara, President of the Independence Institute -- compensated $77,822 in 2004 according to their 990 tax return -- was last seen driving his very own Howie Rich pig in 2005, some of you might recall.

Polhill has been intertwined with Caldera for a few years.
CAIB, naturally, won't tell where their money comes from, just like "Montanans in Action."

If you were watching closely, you might note that in Montana, in 2004, there was only one major in-state contributor to the term limits defense -- Trevis Butcher. And, Trevis Butcher's "Montanans In Action" similarly sent $600,000 to California after similar refusals to reveal the source of his funding.

Oh, Butcher's Montana Pig seems to be the Colorado pig on loan*, and not the Michigan Tillman Pig -- nee Trojan Horse. There are, it seems, an Eastern Pig and a Western Pig. One seems to be named "Willie." The other seems to be named "Porky."

[* Helena Tribune:
Groups raise red flags over proposed cap on spending

Helena (Montana) Tribune
Tribune Capitol Bureau

... Jon Caldara, of Colorado's Independence Institute, a free-market think tank that led the fight to keep TABOR, predicted that the battle over SOS in Montana will be just as intense, with one key difference:

"We will win," he said.

"We've sent our TABOR experts to the far reaches of the world - Maryland, New Jersey, Arizona, New Mexico and Kansas," said Caldara, listing some states considering similar amendments. In Colorado, the initiative campaign events sometimes became circus-like, with pro-TABOR types showing up at anti-TABOR rallies with a Trojan horse or a big pink pig.

Caldara said he'd happily come to Montana to offer his opinions on SOS.

"I'll ride the pig up," he said.
This may explain why "America At Its Best" sent all that money to Nebraska and Missouri, while "Montanans in Action" sent money to California, like, interestingly enough "Colorado At Its Best" has ALSO sent money to California.

You don't suppose that this all happened by merest coincidence, do you? After all, Howard Rich and John Tillman, and (before she was yanked off the stage for some reason) Heather Wilhelm all say the same thing:

We're just helping out local activists.

And, increasingly, through their state "local activist" frontmen and woman, who somehow take coordinated marching orders from Howie Rich organizations like: Americans for Limited Government, the Fund for Democracy, U.S. Term Limits, Citizens in Charge (all of whom are the same people, over and over, e.g. Paul Jacob is a member of every board, save Fund for Democracy) -- well, through those "independent" mouths comes the unquestioned assertion: Howard Rich isn't making anything PERSONALLY. He's a philanthropist!

Er, doesn't it stand to reason that, given the petulant coordination of multistate information demands (which some have characterized as "harassment"), AND given the eerie similarity of "talking points," the state-by-state sole-spokesperson speaks, WHY is it a reasonable presumption to assume that Rich is acting out of sheerest love and charity? The plain fact is that we don't know what it is that he stands to gain from the multi-state game of initiative checkers he's playing.

But the mere assertion by a Rich spokesperson/operative that Randian* Rich is an altruist pure and simple -- as an 'explanation' of Howard Rich's political motives -- seems absurd on the face of it. Certainly it is absurd to take that statement at face value: but the ever-supine media have echoed it uncritically in state after state in the past week or so.
[*"All that which proceeds from man's independent ego is good. All that which proceeds from man's dependence upon men is evil. . . A man thinks and works alone. A man cannot rob, exploit or rule - alone. Robbery, exploitation and ruling presuppose victims. They imply dependence. They are the province of the second-hander. Rulers of men are not egoists. They create nothing. They exist entirely through the persons of others. Their goal is in their subjects, in the activity of enslaving. They are as dependent as the beggar, the social worker and the bandit. The form of dependence does not matter." -- Ayn Rand, For the New Intellectual, p. 94-6)]
In several states, the "local activists" have been acting in concert for Americans for Limited Government's Howard Rich's brother-in-law Paul Jacob's Citizens In Charge's G-TAP project (a/k/a CitizenFOIA) led by Leslie Graves who says:
"I live near Spring Green, Wisconsin, with my husband Eric O'Keefe. Eric has been involved for many years with the term limits and school choice movements, recently serving as Chair of the Executive Committee of Americans for Limited Government.

We've raised three children. In early 2006, after two decades as a stay-at-home mom, I started a petition drive management company and plunged into managing the paid part of two petition drives in Nebraska..."
Er ... wasn't that the $1.7 million that came from America At Its Best in Montana, from Initiative & Referendum Institute Legal Advisory Board member Duncan Scott's office in Kalispell, that sent the cash to Mike Groene's and Thomas Mann's solo operations, and where John Boehm, General Counsel, Initiative & Referendum Institute, of Lincoln, Nebraska incorporated "Renewal Voter Outreach" which listed its address as a post office box in Omaha, Nebraska, but which was being paid to Leslie Graves' post office box in Spring Green, Wisconsin?

Land sakes. What a small world.

I do not know why Murray Rothbard referred to Ms. Graves as "Madame deFarge" in those old Libertarian Forums, but I DO know that it's damned curious that this little clique of "preppies" (as Rothbard called them) who continue to hide their actions through the most arcane money-laundering scehemes (in the dictionary sense, not the legal sense, necessarily) would suddenly become stridently vocal about "transparency in government" and the people's "right to know"? And that they would choose Eric O'Keefe's wife as the frontperson for their eight-state FOIA fax-bombing of state agencies for email records, with a promise to eventually expand it to ALL 24 initiative and referendum states? Doesn't this seem more than a tad hypocritical?

The "Citizens in Action" page cited is literally the Rosetta Stone of the "& Friends" portion of Howie Rich & Friends. Indeed, the ONLY name on the page that is conspicuous by its absence is "Howard Rich," who has, seemingly, directed the funding of "Montanans in Action," "Missourians in Charge," "Oklahomans in Charge," "Citizens in Charge," "Parents In Charge," "America At Its Best" (formerly "Virginia At Its Best"), "Colorado At Its Best," "Americans for Limited Government," "U.S. Term Limits," LEAD, et al, etc. ad infinitum.

Graves continues:
John Fund describes other issues with the Nebraska petition drive in "Taking the Initiative", appearing in the Wall Street Journal on October 16.
  • Sometimes lower-level government officials actively prevent the gathering of signatures. In Nebraska, a group seeking to put a spending cap on the ballot expected to face union-paid "blockers" who would yell at and otherwise intimidate people being asked to sign petitions as well as robo-calls warning voters that signature gatherers might engage in identity theft.

    What they didn't expect was that unionized police forces in Omaha and Lincoln would deny signature gatherers the right to work outside driver's license bureaus, libraries and the public sidewalks that lead to private buildings. Some police officers would even threaten petitioners going door to door with arrest, saying they first needed a permit to "solicit." A federal judge had to issue a temporary restraining order stipulating the right to collect signatures outside public buildings and on sidewalks. Freed from harassment, spending-cap proponents collected over a third of the necessary signatures in just a week and qualified for the ballot.
As the petition drive wore on, it occurred to me that if the union-backed group that was working hard simply to keep the Spending Lid amendment off the ballot was using email extensively to communicate with government workers across the state, it would be important to know about that.

Did any government workers abuse public resources in their determination to shut down this ballot drive?
Er, wasn't John Fund of the Wall Street JOURNAL a featured speaker at the ALG Conference in Chicago (with the Al Capone speech and Eric O'Keefe keynote address) back in August? And isn't it interesting that Leslie Graves can quote Fund to her specific talking point about Nebraska?

Wait a minute: this is Eric O'Keefe's wife (O'Keefe is on the "Citizens in Charge" Board) defending Howard Rich initiatives (O'Keefe is also on the board of virtually all foundations involved), on behalf of Rich's brother-in-law Paul Jacob -- whose radio show is produced by "Americans for Limited Government" (Rich/O'Keefe, et al), and where Jacob is a "senior fellow") but they won't reveal the sources of THEIR funding.

And then they run petition drives to change Nebraska when Graves lives in ... Wisconsin? Taking orders or at least direction from Howard Rich in Manhattan?

New York to Chicago to Washington, D.C. to Spring Green, Wisconsin? Then from Spring Green to Idaho (Laird Maxwell), Oregon (Kurt Weber), Nebraska (Mike Groene), and several other states with massive fax blasts asking for public employee emails? (Four weeks before the election?) Here's Groene, according to Leslie Graves :
As I relayed my experiences to Mike Groene, chairperson of the Spending Lid initiative committee in Nebraska, it turned out that he shared my concerns. He collected many signatures and worked with many volunteers on the petition drive. His experiences, and the stories he heard from his volunteers, were strikingly similar to the stories I was hearing from petitioners who were collecting signatures for pay.

My old friend Paul Jacob of Citizens in Charge has helped with hundreds of statewide petition drives over the last 25 years. As I spoke with him about my experiences in Nebraska, Paul said he'd seen problems like this for years, in many states, in many petition drives. However, there didn't seem to be a good way to study or learn about the full extent of the problem....
And you've suddenly got a jones for the Truth? For openness and transparency?

Hypocrisy is the kindest charge that can be leveled. Add the almost instinctual fetish for secrecy, for secret identities (hiding behind letterheads) and moving a nearly infinite number of peas under an absurdly numerous number of shells. What can one reasonably conclude from this mess?

One thing's for sure: It can't all be a coincidence.

And, add late-breaking news, seems there's a TABOR clone on the New Hampshire ballot, as well. But they seem more fearful that Easterners might note their sponsorship, and, as in Maine, the contributions, while substantial, aren't on the order of 80% as they are in several of the Western states (perhaps they take us Westerners for idiots):
Nashua [New Hampshire] Telegraph
Kevin Landrigan Column

Sunday, October 22, 2006

(many campaign finance mini-stories ... scroll down to:)

Restricting eminent domain

The campaign to restrict eminent domain takings via the Nov. 7 ballot will hit the airwaves this week.

TV ads on cable outlets will open the effort, followed by commercials on WMUR-TV starting Thursday.

The Property Protection Alliance and its chief organizer, Chuck Douglas, already raised $40,000 and had spent $12,500 on the design and postage of targeted mail that's going out.

Some of the campaign's biggest donors included McCain's PAC, $5,000; Pataki's 21st Century Freedom PAC, $1,500; Americans for Limited Government of Chicago, $5,000; ex-Republican Gov. Craig Benson, $2,500; Douglas, $3,462; ex-GOP Gov. Steve Merrill, $500; Romney's PAC, $500; Illinois executive Charles Walgreen, $2,000; and U.S. Term Limits, $5,000. [emphasis added]
That's a quick $10,000 out of a $40,000 campaign, ALG and USTL slithering into the funding pac(k). And who knows what other contributions are masked under various assumed names?

Soon: I'll tell you how Koch Industries (of Kansas) and Betsy DeVos (of Michigan) used a Virginia PAC (much as "America At Its Best" began life as) to run political advertising in South Carolina that eerily paralleled Howard Rich and Eric O'Keefe's "school choice" flibertygibbetry in South Carolina. Just another coincidence. But meantime ...

The people of New Hampshire may have no idea what's about to hit them.