Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The 1st District Infighting You Didn't Hear About

Progressives who, like me, are slightly dispirited by the nasty fighting going on between Representative Carnahan and Representative Clay in the 1st District Democratic Primary might be interested to know that the other side (the one that has no chance of winning whatsoever) has also been busy stabbing each other in the back in a nasty primary election between Republicans Martin Baker and Robyn Hamlin.

One caveat before I go further: most of the info I'll be posting is from "Gateway Grassrootser" Jen Ennenbach's blog and, as a general rule, you shouldn't believe anything Ennenbach says unless you have independent verification.  But Martin Baker is posting Ennenbach's blogs on his campaign facebook page, and if he takes her seriously, well then....

Anyway, here are the gory details.

First, the tea party got mad because Hamlin referred to Martin Baker as "the establishment candidate." Ennenbach responded by posting a screenshot from "Kill the Clairebear" Scott Boston and saying that Hamlin was not actually a Republican, but a Libertarian.   Baker was desperately trying to get Hamlin to debate, and according to Ennenbach, Hamlin responded by saying that Baker needed to pay his child support, a claim that Ennenbach disputes:
Baker, again, contacted Hamlin, seeking a response to which Hamlin not only stated that Baker would need thousands of dollars to promote the event, but that the money would be better spent by Baker dealing with his child support legal matters.
Ennenbach says Baker's ex-wife disputes the charges.  But she encouraged people to look it up on Casenet!  According to Ennenbach, Hamlin also brought up allegations of Baker not paying the rent:

But this isn’t the first time Hamlin has attempted to smear Baker, only to have it fly back in her face. In 2010, Hamlin accused Baker of defaulting on payments to his landlord. What actually happened? Baker had moved out of the property ahead of schedule and had to work out payments to the property owner. At question was whether the remaining rent was to come out of Baker’s security deposit, or if the deposit would be returned in full and he would issue remaining contracted payments on the due dates.
This issue was settled between Baker and his former landlord.

Ennenbach also claimed that Hamlin accepted an invitation to a debate, then retracted.  She claims that a Baker staffer has screenshots, although I haven't seen them.

Now at this point, you might think that Hamlin was the one engaging in all of the dirty tactics.  But Ennenbach being Ennenbach, she had to drag it down even further by posting a letter from a "friend" calling Hamlin a "sloppy, unkempt, bag lady:"

Here is what popped up in my inbox first thing this morning:
Has anyone in the GOP ever actually met Hamlin?
I’d like to say ‘not to be rude’… but… I’m actually all for being rude when it’s the best way to express what’s true – she looks like a friggin’ bag lady!
She & Martin both came to the After-Party tonight. Martin, as usual, was neat, clean & professional looking; she, looked like a sloppy, unkempt, bag lady.
Then, to top it off, Ennenbach wrote another post acting offended that Hamlin's campaign was deleting her facebook comments just because she used her blog to call Hamlin a "bag lady."  This prompted a response from Hamlin's campaign claiming that Ennenbach was deleting their comments.

So anyway, next time you get discouraged seeing Carnahan and Clay fighting over a Congressional seat, just remember that Republicans in the district are doing the same fighting over nothing.

Fact Check: Rep. Clay Did Not "Stand Up To The Tea Party" More Than Rep. Carnahan

I've mostly been trying to stay quiet about the 1st Congressional District Democratic primary between Lacy Clay and Russ Carnahan, but I have to take issue with one thing.  I don't claim to be an expert in much, but one thing I think I can legitimately say I'm an expert in is is the subject of the St. Louis Tea Party and who "stood up to them."  While a lot of safe St. Louis Democratic politicians stayed quiet as the tea party was busy making up ridiculous lies, engaging in disturbing antics like burning effigies and carrying a coffin to a politician's house, and executing James O'Keefe-style smear campaigns against local institutions, myself and other activists were taking on the lies and pushing for the passage of President Obama's monumental health care reform.  As a result of criticizing the tea party, tea partiers have pestered my employers, accused me of "libel" and "copyright infringement" and all manner of other stupid charges, claimed I was secretly being paid by liberal organizations, and even seriously suggested that I was abused as a child.  So, yes, I do claim authority on the matter of the local tea party.

And what's gotten me irked is Congressman Lacy Clay's suggestion that he "stood up to the tea party" and that Congressman Carnahan is "linked" to the tea party. As someone who was paying close attention, I can say that Clay was depressingly quiet about many of the tea party's nasty tactics, and as far as I know never took a stand in the tea party's attacks on local people or institutions.  What makes it worse is that it would have been easy for Clay to take a stand; it's not like he was going to lose an election in his district for criticizing the tea party.

To be fair, this behavior was hardly limited to Clay.  Mayor Slay also was in an incredibly safe St. Louis voting area with a perfect bully pulpit, and he also largely remained on the sidelines for the fights over healthcare reform.  In retrospect, it really was amazing how unwilling many St. Louis Democrats were to call out clearly dishonest and extremist tactics while activists were doing most of the heavy lifting.

But there was one area where Clay deserves special criticism, and Carnahan special praise, and that is Carnahan's willingness to hold townhall meetings to defend healthcare reform.  A big reason Carnahan was targeted with effigy-burnings, coffins carried to his personal home, being stalked at movie showings, etc., was that he had the guts, in a somewhat dangerous district, to hold townhall meetings and engage his constituents on the issue.  The tea party savagely attacked Carnahan, but he still was willing to be out there and defend his reasoning.  On the other hand Clay, in as safe of a Democratic district as you could ever ask for, did next to nothing to fight the tea party messaging in the St. Louis area.  Carnahan was on the front lines, while Clay sat back and let him do all the work of trying to persuade people.

So I'm not sure how much I want to get involved in the 1st district primary bickering, but I couldn't bite my lip on this one.  Lacy Clay may have voted the right way, but like many St. Louis politicians, he did anything but "stand up to the tea party."

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Gateway Pundit Jim Hoft Attacks Woman Whose Sister Died of Cancer

Birther and horrible person Jim "Gateway Pundit" Hoft attacked a woman who recently thanked President Obama through tears for passing the Affordable Health Care Act and told him her sister died of cancer after not being able to afford health insurance.  Politico reported the original story:
After Obama's speech in Sandusky, he encountered a sobbing Stephanie Miller, who later told reporters about her encounter with Obama.
"I thanked him for the getting the Affordable Health Act passed," Miller said, referring to the health care overhaul the Supreme Court upheld last week.
Miller said her sister passed away from colon cancer four years ago — partly because she could not purchase health insurance. 
"Even after she was diagnosed with cancer, she was told her income was too high for Medicaid," Miller said.

Then creepy Hoft wrote about the event with the following headline: "Oh Brother. Sobbing Ohio Woman at Obama Campaign Stop Just Happens to Be 'Obama's Best Fan' "

This disgraceful behavior actually isn't a first for Hoft.  Two years ago, he attacked tireless St. Louis activist Melanie Shouse immediately after Melanie passed away from cancer after not being able to afford preventative care.  In the days following Melanie's death, Hoft wrote: 
It’s just too bad this woman didn’t call St. Anthony’s Hospital in St. Louis. They offer free breast exams to women who are in need of assistance. I suppose that’s Bush’s fault, too.
There really is nothing they won’t do or say to get this nationalized health care bill rammed through Congress.

Nothing is beneath these people.

h/t Eric Boehlert.