Part 2, in which battling spokespersons collude like you wouldn’t believe. (Part i was yesterday’s “Moving America Bass-ackwards“)
They are the political equivalent of unscrupulous telemarketers or internet phishers: This week, they’re a prince from Nigeria; the next, they’re telling you that you’ve won the Liechtensteiner lottery, or they’re from your bank checking your account, they’re checking on the “warranty” for your car (that went off warranty years ago), they’re telling you that you’ve won a free vacation, they’re “saving” children from starving in Africa, raising money for another good cause … anything to get your vote, or — perhaps more importantly — your money. Let’s follow a couple of these shape-shifters. We begin with MSNBC on Monday, as a new PAC (that you’ve never heard of) is promoting Thanksgiving “thank you” ads, using a vaguely familiar face:
Mark Williams — until recently, a Right Wing radio talk show host, holding down the “Rush Limbaugh” seat at KFBK in Sacramento, California — made Countdown’s “Worst Persons in the World” last night on MSNBC. You remember, the spokesman for that “Thank Sarah Palin” PAC that I told you about yesterday? Here’s the MSNBC report that Olbermann was reacting to when Williams nailed down last night’s “WORSER” position:
In the video, Mark Williams smears bloggers and accuses Obama of “buying” the presidency — a HILARIOUS accusation, coming from a Republican. Here’s Mr. Williams in both the “thank you Sarah Palin” commercial and the WORSER video (link is here: WordPress doesn’t allow linking to MSNBC; video is listed as “morris lobbies for his own benefit”).
in the “Thank you” video, politicizing Thanksgiving
Happily, Media Matters catalogued the original MSNBC segment, and here’s a partial transcript [emphasis added}:
From the 11 a.m. ET hour of MSNBC Live on November 24:
NORAH O'DONNELL (anchor): Mark, can I ask you -- I'm sorry, so you said, so [the "Thank You Sarah Palin" commercials] will be running. They’re not currently running, is that correct?
WILLIAMS: These — these ads are the latest. These particular ads are not running. We have a whole bank of ads that have been running. These are simply the ones we made for Thanksgiving to express –
O’DONNELL: I guess –
WILLIAMS: — that sentiment.
O’DONNELL: Mark, the reason I ask that is because I was reading about this, and I saw that the director of your PAC said that you hope to raise tens of thousands of dollars with this new ad. I guess I just have to ask the question, are you using Sarah Palin to raise money for your PAC? Are you really thanking her, or are you using her image and her supporters just to raise money for your PAC?
WILLIAMS: We’re raising money to run the ads, because ads aren’t cheap to run. That’s the way politics is done in America — you raise money. Ask Barack Obama. He raised what, a billion, to buy the office of presidency. What’s been most interesting of all about this entire thing, though, has been the vitriol and the sheer fury with which a very simple “thank you” has been greeted. The people who are posting to Arianna Huffington’s post, and to Daily Kos, and Democratic Underground, and a few of these other places, have been vile, they’ve been racist, they’ve attacked my good friend Lloyd Marcus — who happens to be a black man — with all kinds of racial epithets. They are absolutely — their heads are exploding because we said a very simple thing: “Thank you.”
Since when did hope and change mean you can’t say “thank you” to someone who shares your political point of view? Is it now forbidden to have an opposing political point of view? What America deserves — what Our Country Deserves Better is all about is supporting the institution and the office of the presidency of the United States while guarding the nation against harmful, anti-American policies that this incoming president promises to enact.* And, at the same time, say thank you very much to Sarah Palin and try to do something to head off the “Dan Quayle-ing” of her, which we’ve seen happening quite a bit.
O’DONNELL: All right, Mark. Well, you’re definitely serving it up hot on this Thanksgiving. Thanks so much.
[* Uh, attack the "president" while supporting the "presidency"? Really?]
Er, I told you yesterday that they were worried about Palin vis a vis Quayle. That was just an educated guess. Turns out that “Quaylification” is EXACTLY what they’re worried about.
This, then, is the smoking pun.
Now, what we in the Sci-Fi business call “The Expository Lump”:
I first wrote about this group, Howard Kaloogian, Sal Russo, Mark Williams, Melanie Morgan and Deborah Johns (and facilitator, Joe Wierzbicki) back in the summer of 2005. Here’s a little montage from that piece (“Swift Boat Moms in Winnebagos“) to give you a feeling for who we’re talking about in that moment of history:
The Sydney [Australia] Morning Herald reported Saturday’s protests as:
“… Hundreds of protesters on both sides descended on Crawford, Texas, on Saturday for the most openly hostile exchange since Ms. Sheehan arrived early this month.
“Ranged against her are conservative activists and military families, including the “You Don’t Speak for Me, Cindy!” tour, which began in Ms. Sheehan’s home town of Vacaville, California, and was due to arrive in Crawford yesterday.
“Its figurehead is Deborah Johns, the mother of a marine serving in Iraq.” [sic: Her son is currently rotated back to the US, in either California or Florida - depending on the source.]
[from story Anti-war vigil draws protesters; August 29, 2005]
And The Independent (UK) reported:
There could have been no starker symbol of the political divisions vexing George Bush’s America this weekend than the railroad track running right through the heart of Crawford, home to the president’s summer holiday ranch in the scorched plains of central Texas.
[Story: Across the tracks at Crawford, Texas, a divided nation bares its pain and fury, By Andrew Gumbel in Crawford, Texas; Published: 29 August 2005]
It’s no surprise that Fresno’s own Howard Kaloogian got his soundbites at the Saturday anti-protest protest (the MAF stooges are currently screaming that the liberal media has tarnished them with the stamp “pro-war.” Well, hell, if the jackboot fits, wear it, guys.)
CBS News reported:
Several thousand people descended on President George W. Bush’s adopted hometown Saturday, most in a cross-country caravan for a pro-Bush rally and others to support an anti-war demonstration led by grieving mother Cindy Sheehan.
Bush supporters gathered for an event marking the culmination of the “You don’t speak for me, Cindy!” tour, which started last week in California. The crowd of about 1,500 chanted, “Cindy, go home!”
“You are giving hope and encouragement to the enemies of America,” said former California Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian, a Republican who co-founded the group that coordinated the rally.
[story: Voices Collide In Bush's Backyard, CRAWFORD, Texas, August 27, 2005]
Kaloogian also got his sound bite in the AP story: “You are giving hope and encouragement to the enemies of America,” said former California Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian, a Republican who co-founded the group that coordinated the rally.” Weird how it’s EXACTLY what CBS claims it reported, but hey. Must have been THE oratorical flourish of the afternoon, right?
Yes. As “Move America Forward” they had created an astroturf group (fake grass roots) that served as a doppelganger to MoveOn Dot Org, and had taken their “counter-protest” on a $120,000 caravan across the country, starting in Sacramento and going to Crawford, Texas to monkeywrench the Cindy Sheehan protest that became the focus of the anti-war movement. (And all as a fully-tax-deductible “charity”!)
And now I learn (see yesterday) that at least one of “Move America Forward”s tours was partially sponsored by the newly-created Pentagon Office of Media Outreach:
According to Source Watch:
“The tour was organized by Move America Forward (MAF), an organization that, according to the Washington Post, owes much of its existence to the good offices” of Russo Marsh & Rogers. “The Office of Media Outreach, a taxpayer-funded publicity arm of the Department of Defense, also sponsored the tour.”
Um, I hate to say it, but in hindsight, isn’t that prima fascie evidence of a possible crime?
That Cindy Sheehan’s protests at Crawford, Texas were openly opposed by a Pentagon-sponsored astroturf 501(c)(3) “charity” — i.e. fully tax-deductable contributions — to quash and/or disrupt legitimate civil protest of what we have learned was an illegal war?
This is Watergate stuff, kids.
Now, the “truth tour” that Move America Forward was in cahoots with the Pentagon on was taking several Right Wing talk show hosts over to Iraq. Source Watch:
The “Truth Tour”, also known as the “‘Voices of Soldiers’ Truth Tour”,—which “brought right-wing talk-show hosts to Iraq” in 2005 to “tell ‘the good news that the old-line liberal news media won’t tell you about”—was the creation of the Republican Party-affiliated public relations firm Russo Marsh & Rogers (RM+R), Aaron Glantz wrote July 31, 2006, for Inter Press News Service.
This is the same firm, Glanz wrote, that also “founded the ‘Stop Michael Moore‘ campaign to discredit the film Fahrenheit 9/11 and a group called ‘Move America Forward‘, which has brought parents of dead soldiers to be counter-protesters at peace demonstrations.”
Now, remember that Kaloogian and Russo were behind the Gray Davis recall petitioning.
And that Kaloogian and Russo were behind the “group” that put the media blitz on CBS to cancel their showing of the miniseries on Reagan in 2004.
And Kaloogian and Russo are behind Move America Forward (chaired by Melanie Morgan).
And are now behind “Our Country Deserves Better” PAC (founded in July) which is now running the Palin “Thank You” ads (after an anemic presidential election agitation — about which more later).
A deaf fruitbat would see a pattern here. An UGLY pattern, said fruitbat would undoubtedly note.*
[* Nota bene: per international treaty, a deaf fruitbat is kept at a secure location in Switzerland, as an international standard measure of relative cluelessness, or, more politely, purblindness. The deaf fruitbat is treated in an extremely humane manner, and no drooling imbeciles are harmed in the process. HW]
There are too many of these ugly political dirty tricks emanating from this Sacramento GOP gang — that much, I think we can all agree on. The problem is that they keep morphing into new “groups” and the same media outlets put the same old faces on the air with new chirons announcing them as such-and-such or so-and-so.
Mark and Melanie
Melanie Morgan is a piece of work. (Here’s Media Matters’ archive as a sort of Whitman Sampler® box of some of her many thuggeries.)
Mark Williams and Melanie Morgan were spokespersons on that “Truth Tour.”
Williams (appropriately) far right, Iraqi General Abdul Qader
Mohammad Jassim, Melanie Morgan (ironically) far left
At the time, they were both prominent Bay Area Right Wing talk show hosts.They were frequently at the same Rightie fundraisers and benefits. On October 7, 2005, for instance, Williams guest-hosted for Morgan on KSFO, a high-wattage San Francisco talk radio station. On July 26, 2005, it was reported* that Morgan (now identified as Chairman of Move America Forward), was teaming up with Williams to put on a “pro America” art show, to upstage a “painting of the United States sinking into a toilet.” These guys are adamant free speech advocates, as long as they agree with you, it appears.
There’s a lot more, but you get the idea.
[* Scroll down to the first "comment." And, uh, note whose website it is on.]
In one celebrated case, (by the painter in question, not coincidentally), Williams figured prominently (via The Progressive, July 27, 2005) [emphasis added]:
[Stephen Pearcy] drew a more menacing reaction when, earlier this year, he depicted a U.S. soldier in a hangman’s noose, which he dangled from the eaves on the front of his house. Around the soldier he put a sign: “Your tax dollars at work.”
Pearcy says a conservative talk radio host made a big to-do about this.
Mark Williams of KFBK “parked his van outside of the house and for the next several nights he incited people,” Pearcy says. “Within a couple of days, someone drove up in front of the house while television cameras were rolling, climbed the face of my house, and tore the display down.” (Pearcy, who was not home at the time, has photographs of this video on his website, corruptionexposer.blogspot.com.)
Not to be deterred, Pearcy and his wife put up another dummy of a soldier the next weekend, this time with a new sign: “Bush Lied, I died.”
“Within two days, again while television reporters were in front of the house and we weren’t home, somebody else climbed the face of my house, tore down this display, and then gave an interview on camera,” he says.
Both times, he reported the trespassing and vandalism to police, who forwarded his complaints to the DA, once with the recommendation that an arrest be made. But the DA refused, saying that the evidence in the first case was “so deminimus in nature that we would not ordinarily file charges” and in the second that—amazingly—there was “no witness to the crime.” (A copy of the DA’s letter.) [MORE]
They, uh, still are. In cahoots, that is. From Melanie Morgan’s website:
Melanie Morgan and Mark Williams from San Diego
Written by Administrator
Monday, 16 June 2008
Listen to Melanie Morgan and Mark Williams from San Diego, filling in for Roger Hedgecock of AM 600, San Diego, here .
In 2006, KBFK fired Mark Williams. Appropriately enough, Melanie Morgan wrote a “call the station and scream about it” letter, posted to Free Republic dot com (on 06-06-06, if that means anything):
KFBK Fires Mark Williams (Rush’s old home station goes Liberal)
www.MoveAmericaForward.org ^ | June 6, 2006 | Melanie Morgan
Posted on Tuesday, June 06, 2006 7:23:15 PM by editor-surveyor
Last night I updated you on the decision by KFBK 1530 AM/Clear Channel to move away from their “conservative” reputation, including the firing of a pro-troop/pro-military talk show host, a man who has been a hero to our cause – Mark Williams ….
a Granite Bay organization called Marine Moms & Military Families, which has held many events supporting the troops in Iraq and protesting Cindy Sheehan’s opposition to the war, is banning KFBK from covering future events.
“We take (Williams’ firing) as a personal attack and lack of support against our military men and women and their families,” reads a letter sent to KFBK boss Jeff Holden by the group’s leaders, Michelle Souza and Deborah Johns.
[there's more. Notice the "fundraising letter" nature of Morgan's piece, and the invitation at the end to remail it to all your friends.]
Isn’t that cozy? Never mentioning that Deborah Johns was the centerpiece of the Move America Forward tour to Crawford, Texas and thence to Washington, D.C. Oddly enough, Deborah Johns is now one of the principals of the current “Our Country Deserves Better” PAC that Mark Williams was screeching for on MSNBC on Monday.
And, early this year, KSFO-AM in San Francisco fired Melanie Morgan. From Crooks and Liars:
By John Amato Sunday Mar 02, 2008 10:35pm
This kind of news makes Mondays feel pretty good. (h/t Scarce)
Melanie Morgan—the conservative radio talk show host who chairs Move America Forward, the group which has led efforts to shame and boycott Berkeley for its anti-U.S. Marine Corps recruiting stand — has lost her job at KSFO 560 AM.
Morgan, 51, delivered her final broadcast there today after 14 years at the microphone, she says in a news release. KSFO owner Citadel Broadcasting decided not to renew her contract as part of the company’s announced across-the-board financial cost cutting…read on
Talk radio took a big step forward after today. I guess it’s just a matter of time before some wingnut operation picks up this MAFer. [...]
So, perhaps the idea that this is a money making proposition isn’t such a far-fetched one, because nobody has really picked up Morgan yet. Both Morgan and Williams are between major media gigs (although Morgan claims to be “semi-retired). But never fear, she’s keeping busy. Her 2005 stunts got her a gig as a weekly “columnist” for Joe Farah’s crazed, chewing-the-carpet, internet tabloid WorldNetDaily. And she’s still in charge of MAF:
Written by Melanie Morgan
Sunday, 23 November 2008
When the phone rang a few minutes ago, I didn’t suspect it would bring news that I am urgently needed in Georgia.
But I am throwing together a suitcase and pointing my big honkin’ SUV to San Francisco International airport and jumping a jet to Atlanta. So what would cause this five-alarm response? Two words.
My organization, Move America Forward, has an opportunity to make some news by endorsing Senator Chambliss through our political action committee. Joining me in a series of press conferences across the state are Joe and Jan Johnson, who lost their son Justin in the early days of fighting in Iraq….
Stay posted for times and dates in Georgia, and if you live close by, come by and meet us. Also, go to http://www.mafpac.org and help us support the candidates who support our military men and women, and their families…. [MORE]
Oddly, Mark Williams is a columnist-slash-blogger with the Sacramento Union newspaper*, which was once run by WorldNetDaily’s Farah — before there was a WND. That was where Farah convinced then-KFBK host Rush Limbaugh to “write” a weekly column, and later, when the paper went under, ghost-wrote Limbaugh’s first two “books.” (I will outline the whole Scaife-Masters-Savage-Limbaugh-Joe Farah-Howard Kaloogian-Chuck Norris circle in future. It’s too complex to go into here.)
The Sacramento Union is a tabloid-sized free weekly newspaper currently distributed in the Sacramento, California area. This publication is the descendent of the former Sacramento Union daily newspaper, which closed in in 1994, and a failed 2004 attempt to revive the paper as a glossy magazine.
Yup: The Sacramento Union is a weekly free tabloid and website in Sacramento, only tenuously related to the old NEWSPAPER, The Sacramento Union, which is where Rush met Joe, thanks to Richard Mellon Scaife. But that's a story for another holiday.]
Melanie and Mark are still in cahoots. Consider this sleazily coy (as though she’s just learned about this AMAZING new PAC) posting on Saturday, November 22* about the “Thank You Sarah Palin” ads, when the main media story broke on Monday, November 24. (Why, you’d never think that the two organizations — Move America Forward and Our Country Deserves Better PAC — overlap astonishingly):
Written by Melanie Morgan
Saturday, 22 November 2008
Sarah Palin is a true American woman. Tough. Smart. Kind enough to pardon a turkey for Thanksgiving, and cool with another becoming my dinner.
A new PAC called OurCountryDeservesBetter.com has put together a television commercial celebrating the ascendency of a vibrant conservative woman whom I believe should run for President in 2012. (see above banner or go to http://www.teamsarah.org for further details.)
Watch this spot and pass it around.
“Thank You Sarah Palin”
Naw, these aren’t political tricksters. (And I am, in fact, the Easter Bunny: What color would you like your eggs?)
Finally, if you doubt my veracity in reporting on all of this, I offer you the Actual Testimonial of Mark Williams himself, who wrote me in late December 2005, following the August 2005 “Swift Boat Moms in Winnebagos” column (typos are sic) after Googling his name. It’s a much longer letter and provides a window into the mind of Mark Williams, but this is the salient portion:
Your body of work is impressive too (no sarcasim here). Your conclusions are all fakakta, but that’s why Mickey D offers a dozen different versions of the same alleged hamburger I s’pose.
Give me a heads up next time you write about me. Maybe I’ll give you a plug on the air. Your work is way more solid than the ones I usually mention: George Sorros’ Crooks & Liars or his Media Matters – which are where most of my publicity on that side of the tracks comes from (I don’t count Indy Media or Amy Goodman, they are not forces outside of very specific neighborhoods in San Francisco or New York and thus can’t help me at all). [more]
Well, Mark, consider this your heads up. I’m taking you up on your kind offer two years and eleven months later.
Now, tell me again about those hundreds of millions I’ve won in the internet lottery.
Meantime, breaking Sarah Palin (remember her? It’s she that we’re thanking, after all) free clothing news, via the Washington Post:
Will we ever stop talking about Sarah Palin’s clothes? The latest news on her wardrobe comes from Palin herself.
Ethics disclosure forms recently obtained under the Freedom of Information Act contained this oddity: $300 in clothes and footwear from … CNBC.
Turns out that the network’s Maria Bartiromo sat down with the Alaska governor in August, just days before she became John McCain’s running mate….
One hand scratches the other.