Monday, October 23, 2006

Pennsylvania's Mean Green Party

Last week, I had a rare opportunity to do some original reporting. While researching a post about spending in the Lehigh Valley congressional race, I accidentally stumbled on a land mine. Luzerne County's Green party had collected over $150 thousand from conservative republicans, and had used over $40 thousand of this money to promote the campaigns of the four Pennsylvania greens running for U.S. Congress: Dave Baker (Philly), Titus North (Pittsburgh), Derf Maitland (York) and Greta Browne (Lehigh Valley).

Local greens' initial reaction was to ignore me. One anonymous commenter popped on my blog and huffed, "Lay off Greta Browne. ... You know what $200 buys you in a Congressional race? A mention in a blog." And local Green activist Peter Crownfield condescendingly snorted, "sometimes responding to charges like this emphasizes their importance relative to other issues."

This was a mistake. Local greens underestimated the power of the blogosphere, a democratic and authentic media where anyone with an interesting message will be heard. It's a meritocracy of ideas.

Fortunately, my original post spread quickly through cyberspace, but not because of me. Will Bunch, a Philadelphia Daily News columnist, improved on my sketchy essay and reported that $10,000 of this GOP money came from the founders of Blackwater USA, a company that regularly supplies the CIA with mercenaries. From there, the story quickly traveled to Phawker, Nam Guardian Angel, Another Monkey, MLM Liberal, No Capital, Michigan Liberal , MParent7777, TPMMuckraker and even the DailyKos. On Friday, The Morning Call reported this GOP bankroll had tainted Green Party hopefuls.

As gratified as I was to see these stories, what I appreciated most was Bill White's Saturday column. He compared these odd Green-Republican bedfellows to Martha Stewart shacking up with Mongo. But what I liked most were his encouraging words to bloggers, which came at a time when encouragement was definitely apprciated. When a brilliant and wickedly funny columnist like Bill White notices a simple blog by a "nitwit ranting in his underwear," he gives citizen bloggers some credibility.

Either that, or he has no taste. Maybe he had me mixed up with LVDem.

Reacting to these numerous reports in the print media and blogosphere, Congressional candidate Greta Browne has now reversed her original reluctance to comment publicly. She promises a full explanation on her site. This is as it should be. Greens whine that major parties "have increasingly become parties driven by big money, not by the grassroots." So they better explain what the hell they were doing. While they're at it, they'd better justify their decision to pay people by the signature in petition drives, which has a big potential for abuse. The Green's ten key values include a pledge "to ensure that our public representatives are fully accountable to the people who elect them." So it's time to account.

Despite these promises, I doubt there will be any real explanation. Greens are just too damn intolerant. Sure, they pay lip service to the principle of respecting diverse viewpoints, but really resent criticism directed at them. I've already been accused of "right wing attack tactics" and acting like Rush Limbaugh. Congressional candidate Derf Maitland: told me [campaign finance] "is none of your business." That ought to get him elected.

But the prize for intolerance goes to local green blogger Pat Rogers, who unloaded on me. Get a load of these messages from the party of peace:

"You are a typical fascist predator Bernie. You offer nothing of substance. Just wild accusations." * * * "You are a typically arrogant and proud fascist." * * * "I would not read your right wing fascist sludge if it were the only blog on the Internet." * * * "Authoritarian thug." * * * "Bernie O'Hare, Bill White and the other Democrat and Republican party hack propagandists are murdering American democracy for their right wing hegemony over America."

Pat Rogers'comments come from The Morning Call community forum, a truly scary place.

I just asked Pat to add me to his blogroll. Now excuse me while I shine my boots and see where I left my swastika.


Doctor Rick said...

Who really cares about the Green.

When they win an election I'll rethink that but until then they aren't even the hottest color in the crayola box.

Mad batter said...

Think about this Bernie, the Greens are now acting as surrogates for rage against failed Republican policies. We are allowing ourselves to be distracted from how fouled up the R's are. We have to get back to pointing out Dem principles and the R lack of principles.

Bernie O'Hare said...

At one time there was very little difference between the two major parties. In the last six years, however, the Rs have made a sharp right turn. I was listening to C-Span this am and to some changes that would be attempted if Dems retook the House. Rangel would be in control of Ways/Means. A new majority would raise the minimum wage, allow the government to negotiate directly with drug companies for lower prices for seniors, "repeal corporate incentives to take jobs overseas, make college tuition tax-deductible, and implement all the recommendations of the commission that investigated the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, securing nuclear material from former Soviet states to keep it from terrorists, etc." (quoting Washington Post) There are now big diffeerences betwen the two major parties.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Dr. Rick, Greens have a legit beef. Ballot access laws in Pa are tougher than they are in most states. That needs to change. But at the same time, I think the legislature should outlaw the payment per signature shceme in petition drives. I have no problem w/ paying people, but when it depends on how many signatures are obtains, it invites abuse.

LSTresidentPIA said...

Perhaps you and Bill and a few others could start your own new organization. It would be funny and truthful.

Have you always been this good and making friends Bernie?

Bernie O'Hare said...

LST, I don't even get along with myself. I just had an argument with me this morning and won't talk to myself.

Anonymous said...

I think we need a new party, the Pot party. Wait, the Republicans are obviously smoking something, so I guess that is take.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The pot party? Can I join?


I think the GOP is smoking CRACK! Don't give Potheads a bad name.

They don't molest underage pages. Run with faulty info into war, nor do they borrow money from China to fund a disatorus tax plan.


Ben said...

I always thought that the Pot party was the Libertarian party... I always was a little warry of the combination of NRA members and "recreational" farmers that made up the most vocal core of the groups I went with when I flirted with Libertarianism in my late teens.

Seriously though... you can't help but laugh at the complete hypocrisy of the PA Green Party..

Bernie O'Hare said...

That's what gets me. I think they're a bunch of self-important hypocrites, to be honest.