Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Theopublicans pull last minute dirty tricks campaign

The moral rot that infests the Republican Party is showing itself more clearly in the last days of the election. As the saying goes a fish rots from the head. And this moral rot goes to the very top of the Republican Party.

We saw the Republican appeals to racism and antigay prejudice once again. And now they are resorting to organized dirty tricks that smell of the machinations of Karl Rove. The dirty trick I am speaking about is national. This is no small operation. It is coming from the Republican Party leadership and Rove is the master of disgusting, dirty tricks.

In these cases what happens is that a person’s phone rings. When they pick it up they get a message saying “We have an important message for you from (insert the name of the local Democrat here).” Then there is a pause. Now a very larger percentage of people hang up at that point. It has sounded as if the call is from the Democrat but that is not the case at all. Voters who wait until after the pause, a minority of them no doubt, will hear a tirade about how evil the Democrats are. But people who hang up on the automated computer call get a rude surprise. The computer calls them back and starts the message again.

And if they hang up a second time the computer calls them back again. This will happen several times before the computer stops calling them. But the voter is now pissed off at the Democrats for harassing him. Even though the calls are coming from the Republicans.

One newspaper columnist was home ill when she started receiving the calls. She thought they were on behalf of the Democrat herself. She wrote:

One, two, three, four times a day it seemed, the phone rang with "robocalls" about the Democratic challenger to incumbent GOP Rep. Jim Gerlach in one of the nastiest races in the country. I never listened to one word of it, just slammed the phone down and seethed with resentment. Now, there's an effective campaign strategy, I thought: Infuriate the voters so much that they won't vote.

As a newspaper columnist she could do something others can’t do so easily. She asked the Democratic candidate why she was doing this sort of campaigning. The candidate pointed out that the calls were not from her campaign. She then learned that even the local Republican candidate wasn’t doing it. It was the National Republical Congressional Committee which set up a computerized calling system in various parts of the country to harass voters

In fact the calls are worse than a dirty trick. They are also illegal. In the US one can sign up to a a Do Not Call Registry which is supposed to be used by telemarketers to avoid calling people who have insisted on being left alone. The Republicans ignored the registry and harassed everyone while making it appear the calls were from the Democrats. In New Hampshire the Deputy Attorney General announced that the NRCC agreed to stop making the calls.

The local Republican candidate Charlie Bass, who is in a tight race, denounced the calls being made on his behalf. But he said he is powerless to stop them as it is the national Republican Party that is behind the campaign not him. A spokesvermin for the NRCC, Alex Burgos said that they intend to continue the harassing calls “independently of Congressman Bass” and they “will proceed as scheduled”.

Democrats started getting flooded with complaints from voters on Friday and the calls continued over the weekend. The local Democrat in New Hampshire said his office received many complaints from voters telling him they intended to vote Republican because they resented the calls -- not knowing the calls were from the Republicans.

It is believed the Republicans have been using these calls in 20 close congressional districts and in some Senatorial races as well. Under FCC regulations such calls are supposed to identify the source early in the call. But the Republican calls do not do this leaving the identification of the group behind it until the very last sentence.

Meanwhile the Republicans are using automated calls in another way. In this case a voter is called and asked to participate in an automated fake poll. The are asked if they approve of judges who “invent” rights like abortion and sodomy (mostly Republicans by the way). If they press “no” they then get an automated message attacking the Democrat as wanting to abort sodomites or something along those lines. Other bogus polls push the claim that a vote for Democrates will remove the words “under God” from the pledge of allegiance. In Tennessee the claim is being made that a vote for the Democrate is a vote to give “the same legal rights and privileges” that Americans hold to foreign terrorists.

The president of the Pew Research Center, which is does polling, said the automated calls from the GOP “smells like a push poll, it feels like a push poll, so I guess we have to call it a push poll.”