Monday, October 24, 2011

Tell Six Flags that Bigotry Is Too Scary for Fright Fest

On Saturday, October 15, I went to Fright Fest at Six Flags St. Louis. The bigotry I found there was more frightening than any of the Halloween attractions.

Rotten Heterosexism

For starters, there was the sexism and homophobia at P.T. Barnum's Side Show. Presented by the Rotten Brothers, the show began with a voice-over straight from the chauvinistic days of yore: "Gentlemen, please heed to your lady friends if one of them shall faint by the ghastly acts." Just a little something to give the show (in the Rotten Brothers' words) "an authentic feel." Too bad little kids won't understand the intention. All that kids are going to pick up from that line is that boys are brave and girls are weak.

The show continued in that manner, and they asked for "a brave little boy" to volunteer. Why not a brave little girl? One of the Brothers later told me on Facebook, it was because little girls "are more brave and can and have upstaged" him. He also said that his wife is one of the bravest people he knows.

Later in the show, they asked for "a married couple" to volunteer, "preferably a man and a woman." That was when I walked out. My partner later confirmed to me that they never did ask for a girl to volunteer.

Again on Facebook, one of the Rotten Brothers claimed that both of them support same-sex marriage. He said that the joke was simply "pointing out the issue." He also said that his gay friends think the joke is funny.

Someone pointed out that the joke was merely pandering to their conservative audience. We continued to dialogue for a while, and I was impressed that the Rotten Brothers weren't deleting comments.

The next morning, however, the thread was gone, replaced by the following status update:

This is a family friendly website. I have been forced by my wife to delete an interesting thread. I knew I shouldn't have left my pants out for her to put on.

So much for all of that feminist talk he had engaged in earlier.

Stigma for Sale

The other bigotry I found at Six Flags was in the form of one of their haunted houses. Dubbed "Insanity Alley," the description in the flyer is as follows:

Welcomed by our very own Nurse Luna Tick, terror awaits those who dare to take a stroll through our Insanity Alley. Come on in, stay awhile, and see how the truly insane live! Did we mention new patients are always welcome???

This description -- and the accompanying imagery -- perpetuate the damaging myth that people with mental illnesses are creepy, violent and dangerous. In truth, most people with mental illnesses are not to be feared, and are far more likely to harm themselves than anyone else.

When I complained to Guest Relations about both of these attractions, the response I received from Terese Bargman, entertainment manager at Six Flags St. Louis, included the claim that the shows at Fright Fest are "over the top," "not reality," and "not meant to be insulting." From her email to me:

The product here at the park is in no way real, we do not harm individuals in the productions or the haunted attractions. There is no entity of the shows and talent in the park that is meant to be taken as realistic, it is all designed to be a fun time in the spirit of Halloween. All of the attractions and street shows are very over the top, that again is in the nature and fun of the Halloween spirit. [...] People come to the park to get scared, they know it is not real but simply engage in the drama for the shear [sic] fun.

Sound reasonable to you? How about if I tweak the description of Insanity Alley just a bit?

"Terror awaits those who dare to take a stroll through our Ghetto Alley. Come on in, stay awhile, and see how the truly impoverished live! Did we mention new gang members are always welcome???"

If that were one of the haunted houses at Fright Fest, the news would be all over it, and there would be mass protesting of Six Flags. The excuse that the attractions are not real just doesn't cut it. All of the other haunted houses feature spooky themes that are entirely fictional -- zombies, trolls, sinister clowns, classic horror films -- except for "The Slaughter House," which is scary by definition. It is unacceptable to exploit a real, highly stigmatized and disadvantaged group of people in order to make money scaring people. (Did I mention that it costs an extra $7 to get into Insanity Alley?)

Take Action!

Please contact Six Flags and tell them that bigotry in their shows and attractions is unacceptable. You can log a complaint by calling Guest Relations at 636-938-5300 x397, or you can do it online here. (Scroll to the bottom of the page to find the email comment form.  Select "Comments/Concerns" as your reason for writing and "Six Flags St. Louis" as the park.)

In your complaint, please emphasize the following points:
  • The Rotten Brothers should be told to remove the bigotry from their act. If they refuse to comply, then Six Flags should not hire them again.
  • Six Flags should take care in the future to avoid hiring performers who make bigoted comments or jokes in their shows.
  • "Insanity Alley" is stigmatizing and should be removed from Fright Fest.
  • Six Flags should take care in the future not to feature attractions that unfairly portray disadvantaged groups of people.

Friday, October 21, 2011

If YAF Claims They Were Threatened at OccupySTL,They Owe Us a Full Video

There's a post up at Big Government claiming that OccupySTL sent email and voicemail "threats" to the Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) of Principia College after YAF visited the Occupy camp in Kiener Plaza this past Sunday. Obviously, threats are serious business and I hope the school and police investigate as thoroughly as possible and figure out if they can file charges in this case if indeed it is confirmed as a threat. However, it's important to note that anyone can send emails or leave voice messages, and so far (despite the screetching at Big Government), there is no real evidence that the messages came from someone at OccupySTL. And given that the right wing has been desparately trying to discredit the Occupy movement from the begining, and the Loesch's tea party in particular has a history of inventing stories of violence, there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical.

Anyway, just to review the timeline, a spokesperson for YAF was invited to call in to Dana Loesch's show last Thursday and announced they would be doing a protest of the Occupy group at Kiener Plaza. Other than that, there was virtually no promotion of the YAF action. Then, on Sunday, YAF (about 5 people, not all of whom were "young") went to the OccupySTL location with professional video equipment.

Rather than engaging in a "protest" where they held their signs for the public, YAF went to the center of Kiener Plaza and engaged in an argument with OccupySTL participants, filming the whole time. I was there at the beginning and it seemed like your average debate; not especially productive since both sides were to some extent talking past each other but certainly not overly agressive or confrontational. However, this is how it was described on Big Government:
Last Sunday a local chapter of YAF affiliated with Principia College organized a small and peaceful counter presence to the ongoing Occupy St. Louis demonstration at Keiner Plaza in downtown. According to the organizer, Mattson Wilcoxen, the group of mostly collegians and minors was met with violent language, intimidation, and death threats.
As noted above, this absolutely was not what I observed. I started recording but then quit because it was so uneventful; however, here's a good example of what the conversation was like:

The Occupy St. Louis Facebook page has a 10 minute clip of a discussion with one of the YAF members that shows the same thing.

Given that Big Government is quoting YAF as saying that they were threatened at the rally and that participants used "hostile language," and given we know they were recording the entire time, YAF has an obligation to provide full video of their encounter so that people can judge for themselves how each side was acting. This is the burden they impose on themselves by making the serious allegation that what looked like a normal debate was actually "hostile" and "threatening."

I should also note that the post at Big Government despicably tries to link the alleged threats to MORE, Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment. The right-wing conspiracies theories about the group are funny in the abstract, but when they start making direct accusations about specific people based on zero evidence, it enters into a very nasty place, especially considering the mental stability of some of Breitbart and Loesch's followers. They can hate on MORE's politics all they want, but making ridiculous, unfounded allegations of "death threats" crosses the line of decency.

YAF and Big Government should make public the full video from the event. That way, we can see just how seriously they actually take the allegations of "threats" and "violence" they routinely make.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Missouri Sierra Club Endorses Occupy Wall Street Movement

For the past several weeks, protesters have peacefully held vigil in hundreds of American cities including St. Louis, calling for financial, political, and economic reform under the banner of ‘Occupy Wall Street.’ The Occupy Wall Street movement includes students, workers, labor union members, concerned citizens, and environmentalists, including members and staff of the Sierra Club.

In response, Sierra Club Missouri Chapter Chair Jim Turner issued the following statement:

“The Sierra Club Missouri Chapter stands in solidarity with the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement.

“The Occupy Wall Street protests demonstrate the struggles of working families and environmentalists are one and the same. For too long, corporate polluters like the Koch Brothers have used their massive profits to attack fundamental worker, health and environmental protections -- while suppressing advancements in clean tech which would create millions of new jobs. For too long, Big Oil and other corporate polluters have targeted low income communities and communities of color for dumping their toxic industrial pollution, and shirked their responsibility for clean-up. For too long, Wall Street and big banks have financed destructive environmental practices like mountaintop removal coal mining.

“Across Missouri, the Sierra Club Missouri Chapter is working to hold corporate polluters accountable for polluting our air, land and water, hurting our health, subverting our democracy, and strangling our economy.

“Investment in clean energy can create millions of good jobs and save working families money on healthcare. We must work together to expand economic opportunity and equality by moving America beyond dirty, dangerous coal and oil.

“The Sierra Club Missouri Chapter also supports peaceful protest and demonstration as among the highest forms of citizen engagement in our democracy – it is our right.

“We stand with the Occupy Wall Street movement against corporate greed and for a more equitable, clean and healthy America.”

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

KMOX's Sloppy Hit Piece on OccupySTL

As I've already mentioned, the right-wing fantasy that OccupySTL is trying to "disrupt" the World Series is false, and quite obviously false to anyone who bothers to actually read the comment thread the tea party selectively edited. Sadly, however, Rush Limbaugh's host station KMOX couldn't resist pushing this lame smear.

Just like the most unhinged bloggers on the right, KMOX failed to provide any context to the piece by pointing out that the actual OccupySTL representatives were openly discouraging the idea of any disruption.

And they managed to write the entire story without even so much as asking anyone at OccupySTL what their plans were.
Horrible "journalism."

In fact, as I'm writing this, the devious plans of OccupySTL have been revealed: they're hosting a, gasp, VIEWING PARTY for the World Series!!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

From Pantsless Parties to "Tight-Sweatered Hotness," It Sure Looks Like Kinder is Toast

The most prominent bad news today for Peter Kinder's gubernatorial campaign was that he was massively out-raised by Governor Jay Nixon and his campaign somehow managed to lose money this past quarter. But Dave Cantanese at Politico just dropped a bombshell that might be the final nail in the coffin:
Nonetheless, there are some red flags contained in Kinder's report. He raised less in a third quarter of an off year than any gubernatorial candidate in the last decade, according to a Democratic source.

In addition, both a Republican and a Democrat pointed to $1,441 expenditure at the Sky Hotel in Aspen.

Kinder spent two nights there in July and both sources couldn't help but note that it was dubbed the "sexiest ski lodge" by Playboy in 2006.

It's "packed with tight-sweatered hotness," according to Playboy's write-up, which was passed on to me.

A separate review by in 2008 described the "late-night skinny-dipping" as "legendary."
The problem for Kinder is that this seems like a perfect combination of his two previous devastating scandals: his propensity for charging other people for his lavish lifestyle, and his alleged inappropriate behavior at a bar known for its "pantsless parties." Given that Christian conservatives are already uncomfortable with Kinder, this story could finally put his campaign to an end. On the other hand, no one really wants to run against Jay Nixon.

Dana Loesch Selectively Edits OccupySTL Discussion To Claim They Want to Disrupt World Series

Patch Adams has a post out claiming that OccupySTL wants to disrupt the World Series. To give Patch a little credit (which is all he deserves since, after all, he's still pushing bunk info), he at least managed to include a screen shot of this:

Loesch, however, jettisoned any attempts to subtly turn a flat out lie in a mere misrepresentation of reality. She just flat out lied:

Actually, anyone who actually read the post would see that they weren't "planning on disrupting the World Series." Some people suggested it, but others (including the person that runs the facebook account) pointed out it would be a bad idea. And both Loesch and Patch mysteriously omitted this post which pretty explictly ackowledges that they have no interest in angering Cardinals fans:

Just another day of selective editing for Breitbart's protege.

Tea Party Smears Homeless Vet With PTSD In Effort to Discredit OccupySTL

The flailing St. Louis Tea Party, seeing their relevance decline almost to the point of oblivion, is getting desperate to try to discredit the actual grassroots Occupy Wall Street and OccupySTL movement. Tea Party bloggers Gateway Pundit Jim Hoft and Adam Sharp posted the following video with the header "Hippy Fight!"

The altercation, however, was not between organizers of the occupation, but rather between two homeless men, and organizers quickly cooled them down. In fact, one of the men is a homeless veteran who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder. From a friend at OccupySTL:
Ronnie - who was yelling- is a homeless vet with ptsd who was sleeping in keiner since before we arrived. He has gotten in arguments with other homeless people - but hasn't bothered anyone else and has never actually hurt anyone.

Don't expect Hoft or Sharp to have any remorse about using a guy who fought for our country to try to smear the group. In fact, they take pride in the fact that they're deficient in normal human emotions like empathy.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Excellent OccupySTL Video Introductions

For anyone wondering more about the people camping out in Kiener Plaza to stand in solidarity against corporate greed, a couple of excellent videos were produced recently.

First, Renaissance Man Erich Vieth at Dangerous Intersections shot this great film about the rally on Friday:

And the Show Me Shows shot some high quality video of some of the participants and did a nice job explaining the movement:

Occupy St. Louis 10/14/11 from Jarred Gastreich on Vimeo.

Funny! Angry Conservative Tries to Prove OccupySTL is "Dirty." Finds Opposite

An angry local right-winger went down to OccupySTL with white latex gloves and garbage bags to try to prove the right-wing narrative that the group is disgustingly dirty. Hilariously, however, he found that the camp was clean and that he had nothing to do:
So, I packed up garbage bags, latex gloves and hospital masks (smell precaution, I sprayed a bit of Axe on the inside the mask in case these people stank really bad) and went up to the Occupy STL. To put it mildly, it was a joke. It was basically 20-30 people camping in the city, complaining about Capitalism in their brand new tents and nicely mass produced signs. There was no trash to pick up really because, with so few people, it's almost hard to make a real mess. It was very sad.
Actually, on Friday there was a 1,000 person rally in support of OccupySTL, but we wouldn't want facts to get in the way of analysis would we?

Still, even considering just the 20 or 30 people who camp out there, could anyone really be so clueless as to think that they wouldn't produce garbage after living there for two weeks? The reality is: they're doing a good job picking up after themselves!

Naturally, he didn't let the fact that it was actually clean get in the way of his assumptions about the occupiers. He just jumped on to his next assumtions. Still, it's funny to see even a right-winger begrudingly admit that the occupiers are responsibly picking up after themselves.

Right-Winger Fantasizes About Violence Against OccupySTL

Just as Andrew Breitbart salivated at the thought of civil war against liberals, a local right-winger apparently dreams of "doing the job police refuse to do" against the OccupySTL crowd:


Friday, October 14, 2011

Video: 1,000 People March With OccupySTL (UPDATED With Additional Coverage)

I finally got to visit OccupySTL in Kiener Plaza today and they really have something special going on. Today a crowd of 1,000 people marched to Bank of America to protest their unethical foreclosure practices. It was great seeing union folks gathered and on the march with the dedicated occupiers who have been standing up against corporate greed the past two weeks.

Here's my video wandering through the crowd of 1,000 chanting across the street from Bank of America:

Update: Here's some coverage from other St. Louis area bloggers:
Fired Up Missouri:Pics From Rally and March with Occupy St. Louis
Riverfront Times: Union Workers to Join Occupy St. Louis for Major Demonstration Today
Show Me Progress: OccupySTL is a Rorschach test for politicians and media
Occasional Planet: This is What Democracy Looks Like
Dangerous Intersections:Meet the protesters of Occupy St. Louis – October 14, 2011
Great photo collection from Chuck Ramsay.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Dana Loesch's Crocodile Tears About Bogus #OccupySTL Story

As I've already pointed out, there is no "civil war" in the OccupySTL group and last week's social media drama can be traced back to one person who was not communicating with the group and unilaterally decided to cut off contact. For as diverse and eclectic a group as they are, they've actually been remarkably consistent and organized with their social media postings, and after the initial minor glitch occurred one week ago the Facebook and Twitter accounts have been steadily growing and impressively successful.

However, right-wing radio host Dana Loesch, feeling threatened by a movement that unlike the tea party is actually appealing to young people, is now pretending to be "concerned" that the movement was "co-opted" by the right wing's favorite boogeyman: ACORN! Here's the kind of stuff Loesch is saying to try to pretend that she would be totally "down" with the Occupy movement, if it weren't for that pesky ACORN:
I honestly feel bad for the original grassroots group who I think had more in common with the indie tea party than they first realized. #ows
I condemn those on the left attempting to intimidate and silence the original #occupystl founder with death threats. #MORE #ACORN
That's not right. Those folks should be able to protest without fear of union groups,ACORN groups exploiting and occupying the occupiers.
Gee whiz! It sure sounds like Loesch was totally down with the people, until this crazy co-option occurred...except for the minor point that it didn't occur, and the other minor point that she was never down with the people.

Again, despite what Loesch claimed, there was no "civil war." The group livestreams their General Assemblies for anyone to see for themselves, and these assemblies take a long time and use a consensus decision-making process. Needless to say, long meetings where you try to get everyone to agree are not for everyone. Some people are not going to stick around. It makes sense for the social media accounts to be connected to the people who engage in the community and the decision-making process, and this is in keeping with the egalitarian structure they've been trying to implement. Watch a meeting for yourself and see if it sounds even remotely plausible that the meeting is being secretly "controlled" by one group.

But what's really ridiculous is that Loesch is implying that she used to support the movement. From the very beginning of the Occupy Wall Street movement and OccupySTL, Loesch has been ridiculing the participants and attempting to portray them as criminals. In fact, Loesch, calling them "unemployed manipulated hipsters" originally claimed that the Occupy movement was created by SEIU:

Note that this quote was from October 5, way before any of the so-called "infighting" occurred. Loesch also said that they looked like imbeciles:

And that their demands sounded like "Dr. Evil:"

And she said she was going to dress up like an Occupy Wall Streeter for Halloween:

Oh, and she called it "poopstock:"

The idea that Loesch is "concerned" about OccupySTL is ridiculous. In fact, it's pretty clear that this new conspiracy theory is nothing more than her trying to sabotage the movement.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fact-Check: There Is Not "Civil War" In OccupySTL

Tea Partiers on Twitter have been pushing a bogus line claiming that there is a "civil war" among OccupySTL participants. Sadly, as is all too often the case, people not affiliated with the far right are willing to unquestioningly pick up a right wing smear and use it to criticize people who are putting a lot of effort into making the world better. There is not a "civil war" or "infighting;" there just happened to be one person, out of an amazingly diverse group of participants, who briefly took over the social media accounts, cut others out, and refused to communicate. These kinds of things will happen in a group that makes every effort to be accommodating to everyone who wants to participate.

So what exactly happened? As I already reported, at least five days ago, one person who had access to the original facebook and Twitter accounts changed the password to lock out the other participants. For all we know, this person could have been a tea partier (note: I don't think it was), since the group was operating under a system of openness and trust and allowing anyone who wanted to to be involved. That person then claimed to have gotten death threats and subsequently closed the facebook account. No one else associated with the group received death threats, and the person refused to share or talk about the alleged threats despite being asked repeatedly about them.

There's a record of the conversation (I'm not linking to it here because, even though it's public, I'm not sure if people want their comments shared, but I'm happy to email it to friends who ask). In the conversation, you can see the person "Whisper Dharma" saying that she was deleting "admins:"
The list of admins on the fb page has grown out of control. There are new people there that don't even have anything to even do with the organization thus far and haven't been out there with us much, if at all. Since Sara handed the controls over to me when she bailed, this page is mine and as such, everytime you post as "OccupySTL" it can be traced back to me. I have made changes to who I feel comfortable with posting as "OccupySTL" as an admin. If someone needs to post here on this page, under the "name" OccupySTL, it is you 6. Others may have more information, but they can either 1. post on the page as themselves or 2. tell one of you. There have been some problems with people adding and deleting people at whim. I got a call this morning that woke me up saying she had been deleted by someone on here. If this continues after the changes that I have made I will have to narrow THIS list down even further. I do NOT want to do that. Please respect my wishes and do NOT add any further people. Thank you
.Other people in the group questioned the decision:
wait, i havent deleted anyone, and this should be a group discussion
soooo, no discussion?
You are making a dangerous precedent here with your unilateral decision to start cutting admins and moderators that we need to make sure this is watched 24/7. Just FYI
So you delete a bunch of people, without discussing anything with us, then turn off your phone and log out? and we're just supposed to groove on it? It is not YOUR page, it is OUR page as it represents the collective posts of everybody working hard to make sure our media outlets are up to date. If you have a problem with your name being attached to the valid posts we are making, kindly remove yourself from the list, as I have yet to see an admin post off-message since these people were added. If you have a problem, please bring it up in discussion. If you cannot make it to a general assembly, then please check in with us and communicate instead of making unilateral decisions. We as a group have decided to make decisions based on consensus, and when you defy that process you defy the entire group.
"Whisper Dharma," despite not answering anyone's questions, then deleted the facebook page and told the other people that she had been advised to do so by "her lawyer." As far as I know, there's no record of her reporting this to the police either. She also took control of the @occupystl Twitter page, and used it to tell other people to "go to hell." Dana Loesch is of course claiming that there are "rumors" that "liberals" sent the death threats, but there's no evidence of that either and, in fact, it seems pretty implausible.

Since the group places a lot of value on consensus decision-making and not having "leaders," they very rationally and responsible created new Twitter and Facebook accounts that have steadily grown. And, considering that all of that drama took place five days ago, it's pretty obvious at this point that it has done absolutely nothing to actually effect the movement. Nothing, that is, except for creating an easy "infighting" drama for people who are looking for excuses to criticize.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Poseur Alert! Dana Loesch *Explicitly* Supported Romney's Mandate in 2008

It's a funny thing. If you point out that right-wing pundits lie, their fans don't care. If you point out that they use extremist rhetoric, their fans don't care. But if you point out that they're unhip....have mercy!

Tommy Christopher wrote a snarky follow-up to my earlier post where he compared Dana Loesch's voting for Romney in a February 5, 2008 primary to a hipster having a Justin Bieber CD drop out of his pocket. Loesch, of course, freaked out and posted a response claiming she had "eaten Christopher's lunch" because she only supported Romney out of her disdain for McCain. But Christopher updated his post to note that, in Missouri's '08 primary, McCain was not Romney's only opponent. In fact, McCain just barely beat out Mike Huckabee.

Of course, the point of all this from my perspective is to evaluate whether Loesch really lives up to her carefully constructed, money-making image as a rebellious tea party outsider. If she claims that the constitution is the most important thing to consider and that RomenyCare is unconstitutional, then it would be pretty bad if she actually ended up supporting Romney in 2008 despite recently claiming that she was "against him last election."

But all of that is rather indirect. Because, as it turns out, Dana Loesch actually said on her blog that she supported RomneyCare. In her January 30 live blog of the Republican debate in California, here's what Loesch had to say:
7:19 Is it just me or are they going after Romney tonight? I like Romney’s “pay your own way” approach to healthcare. Now the debate is starting to sound like an exercise in conservatism. First time all night.
Seems bad enough already, but check out the full Romney quote Loesch was referring to:
With regards to my health care plan, let me describe what is the ultimate conservative approach. In this country, you have today about 47 million people that don’t have health insurance. We went out and tried to find out why they don’t. We found out that about half of them could afford to buy insurance if it were reasonably priced. They could afford to buy it, but they weren’t buying it. it? If we get sick, we can go to the hospital and get care for free.“ And we said: what? If somebody could afford insurance, they should either buy the insurance or pay their own way. They don’t have to buy insurance if they don’t want to, but pay their own way. But they shouldn’t be allowed to just show up at the hospital and say, somebody else should pay for me. So we said: No more free riders. It was like bringing “workfare” to welfare. We said: If you can afford insurance, then either have the insurance or get a health savings account. Pay your own way, but no more free ride. That was what the mandate did.
So there you go. Radical, going-all-in-for-a-strict-interpretation-of-the-constitution tea party rebel Dana Loesch "liked" Romney's healthcare plan and specifically the mandate, which she says is unconstitutional. And she's now claiming that she never supported it.

So is it a lie? Here's what Dana Loesch said in her most recent response:
I weighed RomneyCare against McCain-Feingold. And that's ultimately what made my decision. I disliked both of them to the point where I almost just wanted to choke. And I ultimately decided that McCain-Feingold in that particular instance was worse.

I think socialism at any level is still socialism. I don't buy the federalism excuse for RomneyCare. I think it was bad for business, it was bad policy. Say what you will. I spoke to Will Cain earlier this morning (who's on CNN and I respect his opinion very much) and we politely disagreed. I think that it's still socialism. You're still penalizing people for not participating in the system. You're still hinging their living in a state with their purchasing a product from the government and you're penalizing them if they don't. That's a nationalized, in the case of Massachusetts, a state-run freedom-infringing health care plan.
Is it wrong to change your mind about an issue or a candidate later on? Of course not. But is it wrong to rewrite your own history to try to pretend that you never supported the thing you now point to as the epitome of all-evil? You betcha!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Adam Sharp's Dishonest Techniques Exposed At Occupy St. Louis (Updated)

I've previously documented Adam Sharp's technique of asking the same question repeatedly until he gets an answer he can edit out-of-context. And a friend also gave me video of one of Sharp's accomplices trying to bait a person into swinging at him.

Looks like he tried his same boring old techniques at Occupy St. Louis, with his first video picking on a guy with an "End the Fed" sign (by the way, does it make sense for the tea party to be picking on libertarians?).

But the Occupy St. Louis group also got some great video where one of their members asked Sharp why he wouldn't share his video. Of course, the reason is that Sharp always dishonestly edits his videos, and cuts out his own obnoxious behavior in an effort to try to claim that other people were harassing him. But he can't say that, so instead he settles for pouting and yelling "nooooo" like a four-year-old. Here's the video from the Occupy St. Louis page:

Video from Kaare Melby.

If you want to know why Breitbart, O'Keefe, and the St. Louis Tea Party have completely failed to attract young people to their cause, all you need to know is that they try to present people like Sharp as "cool" conservative intellectuals. Conservatives might be "cool" if they starting making intellectually honest arguments again, but Breitbart and his followers are about as far away from that ideal as you can get. So far, in fact, that they are even happy to attack libertarians who at least try to square their conservative beliefs with basic human compassion.

Update: here's some more video of Sharp clearly acting obnoxiously:

Friday, October 7, 2011

Update On Occupy St. Louis's Social Media Situation

I was a little confused about Occupy St. Louis's Twitter and Facebook accounts, but I've spoken to some friends and think it has now been sorted out, so I thought I'd post this in case anyone else was in the same boat I was. Basically, one of the admins for the old Facebook page changed the password to lock out the other admins and then completely deleted the page. The person claimed she was doing this because of threats she received, but no one was able to verify as she cut off communication. You can find the new Facebook page here, which is under the collective control of people on the ground at OccupySTL and is a result of their group decision making process.

Something similar appears to have happened with Twitter. The previous @occupystl account is not available to the people who are involved in the occupation and group decision-making process. The person running that account declared that OccupySTLers are "attention whores" who should "go to hell." People who are involved in the actual organizing set up a new Twitter account at @stloccupy.

So if you're interested in the efforts, please like the Occupy St. Louis facebook page and follow @stloccupy on Twitter.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Dana Loesch Lies About Voting For Romney In 2008

I don't like much about CNN's Dana Loesch but I have to give her credit for one thing: she's done a great job of "branding" herself as a rebellious tea party outsider independent from the mainstream Republican Party. After all, why would gullible news outlets like CNN want to hire just another person repeating the same old tired Republican talking points? But, like pretty much everything else that's come from the St. Louis Tea Party, Loesch's image as a rebellious outsider was deliberately constructed and almost entirely false.

After supporting both Roy Blunt and Ed Martin over more conservative challengers in the 2010 election, Loesch has been seeking attention lately by bashing GOP front-runner Mitt Romney. A few weeks ago she said she'd never support him:

Today, now that flavor-of-the-week Perry has self-destructed and it's become more likely that Romney will be the nominee, she backed off a little and said that she didn't want to think of the "nightmare" of Romney vs. Obama.

But even more importantly, she claimed that she "was against Romney last election" and wouldn't support him this time.

Unfortunately for Loesch, even if she easily forgets, those wacky internets don't. A friend DM'd me a link to the Way Back Machine that showed that, guess what? Dana Loesch voted for Mitt Romney in the Republican primary in 2008 as the "candidate of change":
Team Loesch went to the polls this morning and cast two votes for Mitt Romney. I think he's the best candidate of change and more qualified than McCain.
Here's a screen shot:

And guess what else? "RomneyCare" was enacted back in 2006, so I guess that means that Dana Loesch actually was a fan of RomneyCare *and* thought it was constitutional. How about that?

But it's not really a big deal, since the folks at CNN seem to like having Loesch lie to their faces.

This Week in Wagman

Post Dispatch reporter Jake Wagman has been on a roll lately, even by his already generally low standards. First he started out writing a cheap shot piece claiming that tickets to an Obama event in St. Louis were "reduced" and suggesting that organizers were "slashing prices". Wagman wrote:
Maybe President Barack Obama isn't the draw he once was in the Gateway City.
But the tickets were actually part of a promotion made available to young professionals. Wagman would have known that if he bothered to act like a reporter and check. But he didn't. And now his inaccurate story has now become part of Wingnut Gospel. (by the way, who begins a news story with the word "maybe?")

And, as I already mentioned, Wagman also wrote a dumb story about one of Russ Carnahan's staffers selling her house, writing,
...any development, however small and potentially unrelated, will be subject to political scrutiny.
I guess he was testing the limits of that theory by writing something absurdly small and completely unrelated, and of course did so without bothering to actually speak with the people in the story.

Wagman skipped the first debate between Ed Martin and Ann Wagner, leaving it to pros like Jo Mannies at the Beacon and the local Patches. (coincidentally, there was a Cardinals game that night)

Then Wagman wrote about Obama's visit. He noted a couple protesters but couldn't be bothered to find out anything about them. This is especially remarkable considering that the protesters wrote a letter to the Post-Dispatch that was published that morning! But it wasn't on the Sports Page so Wagman missed it.

And finally, today he wrote about a letter that Congressional Candidate Ed Martin's mom sent to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Yes, a real life story about Martin's mom sending a letter complaining that Christie should have endorsed Martin because Martin is from New Jersey. It seems like a legitimate article for a gossip column, but this really isn't the kind of content a political reporter at a city newspaper should be writing about. And as Fired Up Missouri points out, in the article Wagman hilariously calls his BFF Ed Martin, the former Chief of Staff for Governor Matt Blunt, an "anti-establishment" candidate.

Now, I don't suppose we should expect Post-Dispatch Political Editor Christopher Ave to do anything about this. In general, the Post-Dispatch's reporting crew does amazing work: Virginia Young, Jason Hancock, David Hunn, and Joel Courier (just to name a few that I'm familiar with) all clearly work hard at their jobs and produce great material. And even Wagman occasionally does some solid work. But why put something as important as statewide races solely in the hands of a guy who generally seems to have no interest in getting to the bottom of stories and fact-checking? It's a drag on the reputation of the paper. Or, to put it in Wagman's terms, why keep starting a guy who only hustles to first base a couple times a season?