Political stalking

This won’t end well:

Trailing G.O.P. With Cameras, Seeking Gaffes

Aaron Fielding quietly stalks his prey — Republicans — with his video camera, patiently waiting for a political moment worthy of YouTube.

At 27, he is a full-time “tracker” for American Bridge 21st Century, a new Democratic organization that aims to record every handshake, every utterance by Republican candidates in 2011 and 2012, looking for gotcha moments that could derail political ambitions or provide fodder for television advertisements by liberal groups next year.

The organization has hired a dozen professional trackers like Mr. Fielding, outfitted them with the latest high-tech cameras and computers and positioned them in key states where Republican candidates are busy chattering away to voters. If all works as planned, incriminating moments captured by American Bridge will quickly become part of the political bloodstream.

Combined with a team of 20 researchers in a Washington “war room” that has a large rack of computer servers, the effort is part of a push by Democratic groups to bolster their opposition research. Republicans also have trackers, but so far have not assembled the kind of centralized video archive of political caught-on-tape moments that their rivals envision.

“Our obligation here is to get these guys on the record with what they really believe so they can’t walk away from their record,” said Rodell Mollineau, a former aide to Senator Harry Reid of Nevada and the group’s president. “There are many opportunities for us to record Republicans showing their true colors.”


“I can come up with the spin. I need the facts,” said Paul Begala, a former top adviser to President Bill Clinton and a senior strategist for Priorities USA Action, an outside group that is working to re-elect President Obama. Mr. Begala said American Bridge would help fuel his group’s ads. “Let’s go to the videotape!”

I know! Let’s follow Sarah Palin’s every move. We can have somebody rent the house next door. We can have someone follow her and Todd around an airport with a camera. We can have the press chase her tour bus around. We can scour her emails for proof she is stupid.

Oh wait, that’s already been tried. But we haven’t tried that with every GOP candidate!

Some people aren’t content with merely following candidates and recording them. Lately it has become a fad to run up and shove a microphone in some politician’s face while a second person videorecords it, hoping the politician will do something stupid.


One liberal woman who accosts a conservative officeholder in a restaurant; one liberal activist whose full-time job is to follow Republican officeholders around in public, recording everything.

It wasn’t that long ago that liberal activists in Madison were following Republican legislators around and posting their whereabouts on the internet, in case somebody wanted to come yell “Shame!” at them in public.

These are liberals, but conservatives can do just the same. Maybe we want to spend a moment wondering exactly what sort of people will still want to run for office in that kind of environment?

Mark my words, this is gonna backfire. Maybe not this year or next, but sooner or later it will blow up in the Democrats faces.

Karma is a you-know-what.

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68 Responses to Political stalking

  1. myiq2xu says:

    This strategy is based on the idea that the Republicans are the only ones who are two-faced hypocrites with skeletons in their closets.

    Glass houses

    • Dario says:

      Using distractions is what the two parties engage in because without them, the lame stream media would have to focus on the bad economy and the current attack on Social Security and Medicare, the only two programs in government that have trillions of dollars in their funds and have never contributed to the deficit.

    • WMCB says:

      It’s also based on the assumption that conservatives are basically polite people who adhere to societal norms, and therefore will not use the same tactics.

      And in truth? They are probably mostly right about that. I’m not talking about the GOP party machine in general, which will pull every trick in the book. But in my experience, your average conservative voter is a much nicer person than your average progressive voter.

      So even if the progressives can bring down a pol or two using these tactics, the tactics themselves are going to backfire in the long run. Just like ACORN and SEIU did. Just like their childish display in Madison won them no converts who weren’t already converted.

      Your platform doesn’t matter if most of America sees you as thuggish, rude, not-very-nice people.

  2. Jadzia says:

    “what sort of people will still want to run for office in that kind of environment?”

    I’ll take “People who HAVE no shame” for $50, Alex.

  3. Lola-at-Large says:

    I dunno, it’s not like conservatives don’t have their own baggage in this area, playing gotcha with ACORN or whatever. And then there was that Democratic lawmaker who basically assaulted a couple of college GOP kids who were videotaping him, and he lost the election (which I loved, because a tea party-supported female won the seat!)

    I know I said in the last thread that seems to be at odds with this statement here, but I’m not saying these people look like activists or patriots or anything. They mostly look damn foolish. But we’re free to act foolish, too. That’s the beauty of America.

    • WMCB says:

      The ACORN thing was entirely different, IMO. That wasn’t a random following around in hopes of catching something, anything, a gaffe or whatever. That was people who had a pretty good idea that the ACORN offices were doing nasty stuff, and they went in deliberately to catch them at doing it.

      And yeah, they are free to do it. But being free to do it and not having the public think you are an ass are two different things.

      • 1539days says:

        The ACORN tapes were the next logical step after the stories from 2004 and 2008 about paying people to register Democrats, (it’s illegal to pay a worker per registration or collect a specific party registration) throwing out Republican registrations (more illegal) and paying temporary employees in crack (most illegal.)

        Now, the ACORN scandal focused on the prostitution ring and the illegal foreign sex slaves, but the underlying problem was much different. ACORN has a policy of not helping people to find government services, but to pay employees to get people on the most government programs possible, whether they qualify or not, because that’s how Obots define effectivity.

        • WMCB says:

          Amen. A lot of the policies of the Dems have turned into not “do what’s best to help the poor”, but “do what’s best to utilize the poor to ensure our own ongoing power.”

          They have completely perverted the idea of public assistance into a cynical game of political advantage and padding their own voter rolls. Any actual help is merely a secondary consideration. It disgusts me, frankly.

  4. WMCB says:

    Wiretap use up 34% since Obama took office. Hey, where is the progressive left on this? What about Big Brother and our precious civil liberties!!!!!!!? Eleventy!!!!! Is this another case of it’s only bad if Booooooooooooosh does it?

    Note that wiretaps have increased significantly at both levels — but look at the rapid growth of federal wiretaps over the last three years. The total for 2010 far exceeds the most active year of the Bush administration, which had been widely criticized for its use of wiretaps (with and without warrants) in national-security investigations. After 2004, which was only slightly above the 2000-2 level, federal wiretaps declined steadily — until 2009. The Obama administration has vastly expanded the use of intercepts in non-FISA applications.


  5. 1539days says:

    This is probably a result of the macaca thing. A Democrat basically followed George Allen around and got supremely luckly one day when the guy got sick of being stalked. This is great for Obama in a presidential election because the GOP can be stalked but he is essentially untouchable. In fact, he’s either had people detained or harassed (the MSNBC phone call over the “dick” remark) when they get too close because he’s the president and apparently the president is above the rest of us.

    • JeanLouise says:

      If George Allen can’t stop himself from calling someone who’s annoying him a racial epithet, surely he does not belong in any government job, even an elected one.

      • 1539days says:

        I still don’t know what the hell a macaca is. I’m going to go ahead and say if the m-word is the only stumbling block in voting for a candidate, I’m going to vote for that candidate.

    • crawdad says:

      He has continued the Bush policy of creating “free speech zones” for protesters at his events that are out of sight and out of mind.

  6. JeanLouise says:

    It seems to be my day to disagree with the conventional wisdom here but I have to say that Republicans engaged in this kind of behavior during the recounts in 2000 and it worked well for them.

    Additionally, I was heartened to see the demonstrations in Wisconsin and in Ohio. I think they brought attention to the laws that were passed or about to be passed and forced people to acknowledge to themselves that it was their neighbors who were being attacked by the GOP.

    I agree that ‘thuggishness’ is uncalled for and that SEIU’s demonstration outside an opponent’s home and their behavior in the caucuses was wholly uncalled for. But that’s different from assembling at an appropriate place to express disagreement with political actions.

    • JeanLouise says:

      I wish that Hillary’s supporters had had better organization and had done as good a job putting the issues before the public as the demonstrators in Wisconsin did. Maybe Obama wouldn’t have been dragged across the finish line by the illegal actions of the DNC.

      • 1539days says:

        Ah, the people who took Dick’s “get in their face” advice.

      • angienc says:

        Girl, you are wrong about that. NOTHING Obama could have done short of being found in bed with a dead woman or a live boy, would have kept the DNC from carrying him across the finish line. He got away with being a member of THAT church for 20 years & calling THAT preacher his “mentor” in his book for the love of cheese. If he can get away with that, he would have gotten away with ANYTHING.

    • WMCB says:

      I would respectfully point out that what you saw in Madison was not what most of the country saw. What most of the country saw was a lot of incredibly selfish people who live on the taxpayers dime behaving badly, outraged at the very idea that the taxpayers (via their elected representatives) should have the final word on how much of the budget they consume. The Hitler posters and nasty signs and the godawful filthy mess they left the capitol building and grounds didn’t help much either.

      I’m not saying they didn’t have every right to do it. I’m saying that the optics were not good for them.

      And how are those awful terrible reforms with which they were “attacked” working out for WI, BTW? Last time I checked, several school districts who were in the red are now in the black, and are hiring more teachers and decreasing class sizes.

      • myiq2xu says:

        Didn’t the protesters in Madison LOSE?

        • ralphb says:

          If elections count, they did. Of course, they were attempting to nullify elections so who knows in the end.

        • JeanLouise says:

          They lost the battle but it was, metaphorically speaking, ‘the shot heard arond the world’. Ohio, which has a referendum option, collected 4x the number of signatures needed to overturn a similar union busting law. Even the thieving governor has accepted that the referendum will probably pass.

          I watched the governor’s race here in Ohio and, at no time, during the race did Kasich indicate that he intended to ‘balance’ the budget on the backs of school custodians, teachers, nurses, cops or firefighters. Our demonstrations were not an attempt to nullify an election. They were an attempt to assure that Kasich acts responsibly.

    • ralphb says:

      Those demonstrators in Wisconsin seemed to be a bunch of people who wanted to scream at others and pretend it’s still 1968. If it was such a rousing success, why’d Judge Prosser win reelection and the bill become law.

      By the way, it appears that bill is having some pretty good effects on school districts, if not on the Teacher’s Union owned insurance company.

      • JeanLouise says:

        Frankly, I don’t expect demonstrators to stand in silence in very many circumstance and this wasn’t one of them.

        It’s also ridiculous to compare this to the violence that occurred in 1968.

        As to the supposed benefits to the school systems, see my comment below.

        • JeanLouise says:

          Oh, and Prosser was supposed to win in a landslide. Instead it was so close that there was a recount. I’d say that was a major win for the public unions in Wisconsin.

    • votermom says:

      It seems to be my day to disagree with the conventional wisdom here

      That’s ok. People are free to think whatever they want here.

  7. JeanLouise says:

    It’s a slur used by North Africans (Allen’s mother grew up there) to insult dark-skinned people. It’s a racial slur. Just because it’s not used commonly in the US doesn’t make it any less a racial slur. It’s use also brought attention to some other questionable behavior by Allen such as having a Confederate flag displayed in his office.

    The people of Virginia decided that they didn’t want George Allen, racist warts revealed, representing them in the US Senate. For all his sexist shortcomings, I think that Jim Webb has been a better senator for working people than George Allen would have been.

    • 1539days says:

      He’s a raaacist!

      • ralphb says:

        Sigh, aren’t we all now

      • JeanLouise says:

        Yes, he is and it came out of his own mouth. It wasn’t an accusation hurled because someone criticized him. To try to link it to what happened to Hillary supporters, including me, is intellectually dishonest.

    • myiq2xu says:

      That was the year that the Democrats took back control of the House and Senate.

      And they did what?

    • ralphb says:

      Let’s just see if that remark keeps him out of the Senate again shall we? I doubt it will. I’m still not sure the definition of macaca wasn’t made up by people to hurt Allen. But not being North African, I don’t know or care much.

      • JeanLouise says:

        I’ve been called a bitch in several different languages, Ralph. It’s still calling me a bitch. Just as I wouldn’t vote for anyone who calls blacks niggers, I wouldn’t vote for George Allen.

        He may have a chance to be elected since Webb has decided not to run again. Imo, that’ll be a damn shame but the people of Virginia will make their own decisions.

        • myiq2xu says:

          I wouldn’t vote for Allen if he wasn’t a racist. But Webb is no liberal either.

          But I don’t live in Virgina so I can’t vote there anyway

        • Mary says:

          Bitch? That ain’t nuttin.

          I’ve been called MUCH worse by the Obots at Digby’s.

      • WMCB says:

        Allen is a dick.

    • Three Wickets says:

      Being of a minority race, I’ve been called many things. When people throw around bigoted terms, they are being bigoted. It’s not complicated. Politicians set examples for society and communities, and when they set bad ones, they should be called on it.

  8. JeanLouise says:

    Please name a demonstration that doesn’t bring out the crazies with the Hitler signs. The ‘mess’ and ‘damage’ was wildly overstated by Walker according to a number of people including the people who were charged with doing the clean up and repairs.

    Personally, I believe in honoring contracts. Walker doesn’t. His sinking numbers in Wisconsin make it pretty clear that the people of Wisconsin believe in honoring their contracts as well.

    As for taking money and benefits away from all the teachers in order to hire more teachers at less pay and benefits is no different, imo, than what people like Romney do when they fire a bunch of loyal employees and try to hire them back at a lower wage with no benefits. It’s wrong.

    • WMCB says:

      You know what? If the teachers union wanted to keep ALL of their collective bargaining privileges (because they did not lose them all – they were only curtailed in certain areas), perhaps they should have not used them to screw the taxpayer in every way possible.

      Like setting up a sweet and corrupt scam by insisting that health insurance could ONLY be purchased from a company that the union owned, and who then jacked the rates up to 20 to 50% over comparable insurance. And then turned around and used the profit to put into office politicians who would let the scam continue.

      It’s not collective bargaining when you own both sides of the table. It’s extortion.

      • 1539days says:

        Well, they are the same unions that support Dick.

      • JeanLouise says:

        Then deal with the issue regarding the health insurance company. Don’t legislate away every meaningful right to bargain that teachers and other public workers have. That’s what they did.

        It’s not extortion by any means. The public elects the negotiators. If they’re unhappy with the union contracts they can elect different representatives/negotiators. In the thirty years that I’ve been paying attention to local elections, public employees’ contracts have never been an issue in a mayoral or council race. I take that to mean that the voting public don’t feel that they’re being extorted.

        • WMCB says:

          We are going to disagree on this, JL. I see no reason whatsoever why public employees need the right to bargain. They are not private workers, at the mercy of a profit motive. That are part and parcel of the government, which is paid for by the taxpayer. What they are paid, and what benefits they get, should be decided by the People via the agency of who they elect.

          If they’re unhappy with the union contracts they can elect different representatives/negotiators.

          If public employees or their sympathizers are unhappy with their pay and benefits, then they can elect different people to office who will pay them more. That argument cuts both ways.

    • Mary says:

      The “mess” and “damage”, including security costs, cost the taxpayers of Wisconsin—who voted FOR Governor Walker—-


      I suspect those taxpayers are NOT pleased.

      I suspect they’re thinking Unions should lose their tax-free status for the expenses they caused.

      • JeanLouise says:

        Don’t bellieve everything you read that comes out of Walker’s mouth or his thugs’ mouths, Mary. He has a vested interest in making the demonstrators look bad.

        As I said, the people who had to do the cleaning and the repairs said that the seven million dollars floated by Walker and his minions, without contractors’ estimates, was ridiculously inflated. In addition, I watched hours worth of the demonstrations. There was NEVER any indication that there was more than minor damage done.

    • ralphb says:

      You believe in honoring contracts? Not so far as honoring free elections though, eh? The people who lost pitched a fit about it and it appears lost again. We generally don’t nullify elections because they don’t turn out as we like. On which planet did the demonstrators win?

      It doesn’t appear they have taken money or benefits from the teachers. What seems to be saving most money is districts being able to buy insurance from the company of their choice instead of the market being monopolized by WEA Trust. Admittedly, the unions is not getting as much money as before due to bidding for the business but that was not supposed to be the problem. Or was it?

      • Mary says:

        Not to mention that most of those “demonstrators” were paid union members bussed in from other states, who left when it was over, leaving Wisconsin with $8 MILLION in bills.

        I suspect most of the native Wisconsin citizens are NOT happy about that.

        • JeanLouise says:

          Mary, who was there checking the ID of demonstrators? How do you know how many of the demonstrators were from other states as opposed to being from other parts of Wisconsin.

          And, I will repeat myself on this issue. The clean up and minor repairs cost nowhere near eight million dollars. As a matter of fact, not even Walker inflated the costs to that degree.

        • JeanLouise says:

          Mary, MediaMatters is not mainstream but neither is Fox who reported the 7.5 million dollar amount that you’re apparently referring to. According to MM, the cost is closer to $350,000. While I don’t like to see public money spent unnecessarily on anything, Walker and his goons are at least half responsible for this cost due to their assaults on the livelihoods of the citizens of Wisconsin.

      • JeanLouise says:

        I think you would be well advised to read some mainstream publications about what went on in Wisconsin, ralph. Money was taken directly from teachers.

        I’m not going to repeat myself except to say that Wisconsin was one battle in a war against the middle class. That war has not yet been won. The Colonies lost battles and won the war. Unions lost many battles in the early part of the twentieth century. They eventually won that war to a large degree.

        As a matter of fact, I don’t think it’s such a bad thing for union members and their supporters to have to fight some of these battles again. It might keep them on guard against forces who are trying to return us to the ‘Golden Age’ when American laborers were at the absolute mercy of their well-to-do masters.

        • WMCB says:

          Excuse me, but since when are the taxpayers, and by extension their elected representatives, the equivalent of well-to-do robber barons?

        • JeanLouise says:

          I didn’t say that they were, Please don’t put words in my mouth.

          I will say that I think that the middle and working class tax payers who are so indignant over the very reasonable pay of the vast majority of public workers are tools of the robber barons.

        • WMCB says:

          Tools? Pffffft! Yeah, because people can’t think for themselves and reach conclusions different from yours. They are either ignorant or brainwashed.

          Considering that we now as a nation have a whole bevy of laws that protect the worker from all manner of abuses, raising the spectre of returning to 10-year-olds slaving away in coal mines and garment factories and dying of black lung is pure hyperbole. We took most of the gains of the labor movement and enshrined them in law. Which may be why not that many people feel a real need to be unionized any more. If they want to, fine, but it’s not a big deal if they are not.

        • ralphb says:

          Oh crap. Tools works both way to.

        • JeanLouise says:

          Yes, I think that they’re tools. Attacking the livelihoods of fellow working- and middle-class workers distracts people from rebelling against the real robber barons.

        • Three Wickets says:

          35% of the public sector is unionized, compared to only 7% of the private sector. I think it may be easier for shareholders/management to take advantage of private sector workers than for taxpayers/government to take advantage of public sector workers. But the trend is interesting in any case.

  9. ralphb says:

    Love this tweet from Thad McCotter!

  10. ralphb says:

    Time warp from Match, 1980

    And this is after he was the almost certain nominee.

    “And since G.O.P. Front Runner Ronald Reagan relies upon a base of support that is on the far right wing of the Republican Party, some experts have long declared that if he wins the nomination, the G.O.P. would simply be repeating the suicidal Goldwater campaign. Ex-President Gerald Ford left no doubt about his views when he warned last month: “A very conservative Republican cannot win in a national election.”

    ” National opinion polls continue to show Carter leading Reagan by an apparently comfortable margin of about 25%. They also show that more moderate Republicans like Ford would run better against the President”

    “Reagan cannot hope to win, however, unless he moves beyond the hard-line conservative base that has sustained him since he first appeared on the national political scene as a spokesman for Goldwater himself. He has no experience in Washington politics or foreign affairs. ”

    “Worse perhaps than the verbal gaffe is Reagan’s relentlessly simple-minded discussion of complex problems”

    That sure sounds familiar. Where have I heard that recently, oh …

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