51 thoughts on “Democrats, Pranksters and Oldsmobiles.

  1. Mike Thomas says:

    You are a “fan” of someone who comes to a town hall meeting on wage/tip credits and attacks the speaker? Would you find equal humor in this happening to a liberal member of Congress last year during the heated health care town meetings? You seem to relish in the fact that Emmer flinched, how was one to know that this prankster with multiple identities did not have a weapon or gun.
    And by the way – what is your take on the immigration issue since you dismiss the other perspective as “demagogery”.

      1. PM says:

        Having watched the video, your depiction seems rather far from reality. Makes me wonder about the rest of what you say….

      2. Mike Thomas says:

        You don’t find it all disturbing making a hero out of someone who throws stuff at a candidate at a town hall meeting an attack? Makes me wonder your idea of civil society. Let’s reverse this hypothetically and pretend it was a protester at a health care meeting and MAK or Amy Klobachar were the speakers. Would you find this innocent pranking or would you be condeming the guy? (by whatever alias he would be going by)

    1. If one of the spittle-flecked “populists” at those health care town halls demonstrated some level of wit during a confrontation, yes, I’d applaud that. Most were incoherently angry. Erickson doesn’t strike me as irrational, and dumping pennies in front of a politician comes up juuuuuust a bit short in terms of an “attack”.

      1. Mike Thomas says:

        So how does Nick Espinosa represent a populist, however you are convinced that citizens going to health care town meetings are less representative of mainstream America than an attention grabbing kid.
        Remember Espinosa’s issue was Arizona’s immigration law, which I am guessing if you polled the populists, would support – you know that nasty old habbit of enforcing Federal Law against federal crimes.
        Where was the humor? He had pennies? Lied about his name, why he was there? Advocating illegal immigration?

  2. Thanks for the love, great analysis! It was fun to watch the DFL critics quiet down as the story went national 🙂

    Keep your eyes peeled for more pranks, and as always, Columbus Go Home!


    1. Mike Thomas says:

      So now attacks (or pranks) depending on who you ask, is the “intelligent, fact based discourse” the liberals claim they represent?

    2. Mike Thomas says:


      Are you employed, or is your full time job promoting your agenda through outbursts?

      Just curious, seems like a pretty good gig wondering how one can get on that.

      1. Jim Leinfelder says:

        What does his employment status have to do with anything? What a petty remark. Do the Tea Baggers shouting their spittle-flecked incoherence have jobs? According to the polling research, they’re all doing quite well, inchoate dudgeon notwithstanding. So what?

      2. Mike Thomas says:

        Just curiosity Jim, as a journalist I am guessing you asked that question a few times.. If it’s petty remakrs you would be the expert. Can you name a Tea Party member that has received the air time of the local electronic media as much as your man Nick has? He wants to be a pubilc figure, the question is fair game.

  3. john sherman says:

    Well, some decades ago there were the Yippies who were outrageous, satiric and exposed the banality of politics as usual and the media covering them. They were also a millstone hung around the neck of the Democrats for at least 20 years. The Tea-baggers are sort of symmetrical, except less funny, and judging from what’s happening to the Angle and Paul campaigns well on their way to sinking the Republicans. That having been said, I get really tired of Democratic congress types whining that Obama hasn’t been doing enough to take down the Republican meanies. Except for a handful, like Barney Frank, none of those weasels will show up on a gas bag show. Admittedly the rolodex of network bookers seems to be stuck on Gingrich, members of the Cheney family and the congressional Republican leaders, but halfway articulate Democrats ought to volunteer to go on the shows and bitch when they don’t get chosen.

    On newspapers, the other day (7/16) the strib had an op-ed piece by Steve Chapman–a guy I rarely agree with but always read–on the appeals court decision that the FCC policy on “fleeting expletives” was unconstitutional; in his discussion he remarked on the stations that didn’t air Pat Tillman’s funeral because in the course of it his brother said, “He’s f—ing [sic] dead.” This is so familiar that we don’t appreciate how weird it is. Is there anyone who has to go to a reference work to fill in the “—” and if so what is that reference? Who is being protected? The small children who read the op-ed page? And from what?

    1. The yippies of course looked like dirty, pot-smoking peace lovers. (The lowest of the low!) Robert Erickson doesn’t bear much resemblance to Jerry Rubin. Maiden aunts would find Erickson acceptable on first impression. But you’re right, the number of Democrats with the balls to stand up to Bill O’Reilly’s wind machine is dismayingly low. Anthony Weiner is pretty good at it. Sherrod Brown, too. But Barney seems to be the only one who actually enjoys it. Locally? …. crickets.

    2. Jim Leinfelder says:

      Actually, Mike, no, I’m not in the habit of asking gratuitous, petty questions like yours. I might ask someone protesting health care reform what their insurance circumstances are, or, I guess you could reasonably ask someone protesting the extension of unemployment assistance about his/her job status. But your query was merely an attempt to demean someone, as though having a job in this dire recession was somehow germane to being politically involved. It had nothing to do with content of his message. Just a mean-spirited shot.

      1. Mike Thomas says:

        Jim, you have been on countless blogs for years making petty remarks, tearing into people’s backgrounds, and challenging their right to make an opinion, and yes trying to demean anyone you disagree with as your opinion is the gold standard in any argument. You move quickly from the topics and go straight for the person personally. Easy to google and see the evidence. Especially if some of the readers want to see some real “mean-spirited” shots.
        Nick was at a forum for servers, wouldn’t a reasonable question to ask be “where do you work”, “where do you serve?” So actually according to your logic it is a reasonable question, and I still ask it. Wouldn’t many of us become so politically involved if we had full free schedules to plan cute little penny drops and make up new names for ourselves.

  4. Randi 'Illegal' Welhaven says:

    I have loved Robert since I first heard of him months ago. Like Brian Lambert, I was wondering how it was that no one in the press corps seemed to know who he was. How could that be? At any rate, I am looking forward to a campaign season full of pennies at every Emmer event.

    1. Mike Thomas says:

      Maybe no one heard of him because he is a fringe gas bag, void of facts or offering anything to real discussion or civil discourse. I believe it was this blog that said too much press coverage was given to large “tea party” rallies – interesting, but the press should devote air and print to a lying, attacking, disruptive nut?
      Illegal (fitting name), do you then approve of tomatoes being thrown at MAK or maybe pill bottles at Dayton and Entenza? Or is it only funny when Republicans get attacked?

    2. The thing is, Erickson’s pranks (if covered by the press), deliver a straighter shot to voter consciousness than the usual stenographic “reporting”.

      1. Mike Thomas says:

        You think Espinosa’s attack or spectacle is firing up the blood in the main stream voter?
        More or less he is the poor man’s version of the “Don’t tase me bro” kid.

      2. I doubt Erickson is firing up much of the mainstream. But when asked directly about his gripe with Emmer his reasoning is both educated and factual. Were that so many — humor-deprived — citizens shrieking about “death panels” and “government takeovers” were as informed, or funny.

      3. Mike Thomas says:

        Can you point out some of Espinoza’s facts? He talked about his father, and his desire for amnesty for illegal immigration (through a performance at a forum for servers).

        Do you get the same charm for the undercover work James O’Keefe did at Acorn offices in 2009? I thought the costume and script were pretty funny – or is a random attack and tossing pennies at someone more intelligent, witty, and thoughtful?

    3. Jim Leinfelder says:

      Mike, your more specific follow-up question about whether or not he’s a wait person might be a good clarifying question from someone covering the event. His penny demonstration was confusing in the moment.

      But that didn’t strike me as your purpose at all. And it’s since been well established that Emmer’s remarks about wait people’s pay wasn’t his point of being there. His issue is immigration reform. Odd that a guy with time to regularly write into this blog and research my blog entries is questioning how other people spend their time. And you still seems to circle back to your your contention by innuendo that an unemployed person has a lower-standing as a political actor than one with a job. Again, what’s the relevance?

      I do take Loveland’s point, though. But the slippery slope argument: What if everyone did it?, seems to me more theoretical than actual.

      1. Mike Thomas says:

        Psychology is also one of your many talents. Again, the question is fair. Occupation is as relevant as age or any other personal information public figures have written about them in print or reported in electronic media.
        Again the curiosity is how does one become a political actor – wouldn’t someone with such passion over issues in this country contribute? Sort of like that argument the liberals make that conservatives have to have served in the military to vote on any measures of force? Wouldn’t someone that has such strong opinions on our laws and policies and seems to be an able bodied adult have an occupation that is providing some contribution to the tax pot?
        Not questioning how everyone spends their time – just the wanna be public figure Nick Espinoza. Doesn’t require any research to find your comments, if there is a local blog or online news site out there, your opinon and petty remarks are in the comment section.

      2. Jim Leinfelder says:


        Erickson might well have an occupation/career/trade, but, in these economic circumstances, no job. But all you asked was whether or not he had a job, which tells me, anyway, basically nothing…about HIS politics.

        Your intention was and continues to be clear enough, despite the serial prevarications.

      3. Mike Thomas says:


        We disagree. I think it has a lot to do with the conversation. Espinoza disrupted a meeting that was suppose to be about the working servers in this state and economics. Then it turns out he is a promoter of amnesty for illegal aliens – so as a working adult one would ask what is his skin in the game? Is he a working server? Does he employ a large number of illegal aliens? Knowing some of this can give some background into his politics – you go beyond the left apologies for the guy there might be more to the story.
        Hope your thesarus is open for the response….

  5. Mike Kennedy says:

    A department of agriculture official has quit (more like been fired) over racist comments she made about white farmers.

    Just where was the mainstream media on this story?

    Time and again we heard about racist comments made by Tea Party members — by the way it was never on video, but that’s beside the point. This dimwit racist woman was on tape and it took the alternative media to break the story.

    No wonder the mainstream media is driving its collective car off a cliff.

    1. PM says:

      Sounds sort of like a dog bites man story—someone did something stupid and then got fired for it (based solely on what you have said). maybe not so newsworthy.

    2. Mike: The full version of the video-taped comments of the woman in question are apparently in possession of a right-wing group called Big Government. A columnist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (I know, not as trustworthy as Andrew Breitbart or NewsMax) is asking to see the tape in its entirety.

      He writes:

      After watching the video Monday evening, I wrote in comments that “what Sherrod says in that video — and what she apparently did — are deeply troubling… She might very well have earned a firing. But I’d like to see that rest of that video as well, because at the point it abruptly ends, she appears to be saying that it’s wrong to think in terms of black and white, that she came to see things as more accurately divided between poor and rich than by race.”

      As I also noted, the folks at Big Government seem to have the whole video, since they also posted another segment, and it would be useful to see the rest of it.

      Sherrod gets a chance to tell her side of the story in an AJC story by Marcus Garner:

      “But Tuesday morning, Sherrod said what online viewers weren’t told in reports posted throughout the day Monday was that the tale she told at the banquet happened 24 years ago — before she got the USDA job — when she worked with the Georgia field office for the Federation of Southern Cooperative/Land Assistance Fund.

      Sherrod said the short video clip excluded the breadth of the story about how she eventually worked with the man over a two-year period to help ward off foreclosure of his farm, and how she eventually became friends with the farmer and his wife.

      “And I went on to work with many more white farmers,” she said. “The story helped me realize that race is not the issue, it’s about the people who have and the people who don’t. When I speak to groups, I try to speak about getting beyond the issue of race.”

      So let’s see the rest of the tape, Big Government. Was Sherrod giggling among black folk about the time she put it to the white man, as the leaked excerpt suggests, or was the tape a deceptively edited excerpt of a longer story about getting beyond the issue of race, as she claims?

      Let’s see the tape. The evidence apparently exists to settle the question. Cough it up.

      1. Mike Kennedy says:


        Fair enough. So the point, then, if this is really the truth, is that it is ok to be a racist in your former life as long as eventually you come to see the light and reform your racist ways?

        What I did see on the tape (or more accurately hear) was applause when she said she did less for the man than she could have. I’d be interested to hear how that is justified.

      2. Mike Thomas says:

        Big difference in being a former Grand Wizzard of the Klan, to a former New Deal Democrat.

        Again, Bill Clinton dismissed Byrd’s association as “fleeting” to get elected. Apparently to get elected you not only needed to be in the Klan but also the leader.

      3. Here’s another, Mike.

        From Andrew Sullivan … (who is no Sean Hannity) …

        Breitbart’s Skilled Editing

        20 Jul 2010 11:38 am

        The quotes that former USDA worker Shirley Sherrod gave on the edited tapes disseminated by Andrew Breitbart are indeed indefensible, but is it not fair to provide some kind of context? To wit:

        Sherrod said the short video clip excluded the breadth of the story about how she eventually worked with the man over a two-year period to help ward off foreclosure of his farm, and how she eventually became friends with him and his wife.

        “And I went on to work with many more white farmers,” she said. “The story helped me realize that race is not the issue, it’s about the people who have and the people who don’t. When I speak to groups, I try to speak about getting beyond the issue of race.”


        ROBERTS: Miss Sherrod, let’s make it clear though, that this happened 24 years ago. You eventually worked with this white farmer. You eventually became friends, you say, with the farmer and his wife.

        SHERROD: Yes.

        ROBERTS: So, the question I have is, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture came to you and said you have to step down, why didn’t you just say, wait a minute, you don’t know the full story. Here’s the full story, why should I step down?

        SHERROD: I did say that, but they, for some reason, the stuff that Fox and the Tea Party does is scaring the administration. I told them get the whole tape and look at the whole tape and look at how I tell people we have to get beyond race and start working together.

        ROBERTS: Many people at home might be thinking if you’re recounting an old story, why did you succumb to pressure to step down, why didn’t you fight this?

        SHERROD: If I tried to fight it and didn’t have any support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, what would I do?

        This reminds me of the Octavia Nasr case. The virulence of the far right and the cowardice of the elites is creating a chilled atmosphere.

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      4. Oh, and Mike (Kennedy) — here’s more on that black racist …

        Farmer’s wife says fired USDA official helped save their land | ajc.com
        6:25 p.m. Tuesday, July 20, 2010

        Despite being defended by the white farmer she allegedly discriminated against, former U.S. Department of Agriculture official Shirley Sherrod will not get her job back.

        Sherrod “kept us out of bankruptcy,” said Eloise Spooner, 82. She and her husband Roger Sooner, who own a farm in Iron City, located in southwest Georgia, approached Sherrod in 1986 — when she worked with the Georgia field office for the Federation of Southern Cooperative/Land Assistance Fund — seeking assistance.

        Sherrod, who is black, was asked to resign Monday night by USDA Deputy Under Secretary Cheryl Cook after videotaped comments she made in March at a local NAACP banquet surfaced on the web indicating that she did not work as hard as she could on behalf of white farmers.

        “The comments, taken out of context or not, hinder her ability to be an effective rural development director for Georgia,” said a U.S. Agriculture spokesperson who wished not to be identified. “Because of that videotape, it would be very hard for her to to be an effective messenger.”

        The NAACP, which released a statement Monday critical of Sherrod, backtracked Tuesday, saying they were “snookered” by Andrew Breitbart, whose website biggovernment.com released the edited video. Breitbart did not respond to a request seeking comment.

        “Having reviewed the full tape, spoken to Ms. Sherrod, and most importantly heard the testimony of the white farmers mentioned in this story, we now believe the organization that edited the documents did so with the intention of deceiving millions of Americans,” NAACP President Ben Jealous said in a statement. “The tape of Ms. Sherrod’s speech at an NAACP banquet was deliberately edited to create a false impression of racial bias, and to create a controversy where none existed. This just shows the lengths to which extremist elements will go to discredit legitimate opposition.”

        Jealous asked the USDA to reconsider Sherrod’s dismissal but, in a statement, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack stood by his decision.

        “First, for the past 18 months, we have been working to turn the page on the sordid civil rights record at USDA and this controversy could make it more difficult to move forward on correcting injustices,” Vilsack said. “Second, state rural development directors make many decisions and are often called to use their discretion. The controversy surrounding her comments would create situations where her decisions, rightly or wrongly, would be called into question making it difficult for her to bring jobs to Georgia.”

        In the video, Sherrod told the crowd she didn’t do everything she could to help a white farmer whom she said was condescending when he came to her for aid.

        “What he didn’t know while he was taking all that time trying to show me he was superior to me was, I was trying to decide just how much help I was going to give him,” Sherrod said on the video, recorded March 27 in Douglas in southeast Georgia.

        But Spooner, who considers Sherrod a “friend for life,” said the federal official worked tirelessly to help the Iron City couple hold onto their land as they faced bankruptcy back in 1986.

        “Her husband told her, ‘You’re spending more time with the Spooners than you are with me,’ ” Spooner told the AJC. “She took probably two or three trips with us to Albany just to help us out.”

        Spooner spoke to her friend by phone Tuesday morning.

        “She’s very sad about it,” Spooner said. “She told me she was so glad we talked. I just can’t believe this is happening to her.”

        Sherrod, in her first interview after the clip surfaced, told the AJC the video was selectively edited. She said the video posted online Monday by biggovernment.com and reported on by FoxNews.com and this newspaper misrepresented the message she was trying to convey.

        “For Fox to take a spin on this like they have done, and know it’s not the truth … it’s very upsetting,” said Sherrod, 62, who insisted her statements in the video were not racist. “I was struggling with the fact that so many black people had lost their farmland, and here I was faced with having to help a white person save their land. So I didn’t give him the full force of what I could do. I did enough.”

        She said the incident helped her get beyond issues of race.

        “And I went on to work with many more white farmers,” she said. “The story helped me realize that race is not the issue, it’s about the people who have and the people who don’t.”

        Sherrod accused the USDA of cowering to right-wing media.

        “They were just looking at what the Tea Party and what Fox said, and thought it was too [politically] dangerous for them,” Sherrod said of her former employer.

        The release of Sherrod’s statements came a week after the NAACP issued a resolution calling some elements of the National Tea Party racist for comments made against President Barack Obama and African-American congressmen during the health care debate.

        Sherrod was appointed to her position in by Obama’s administration in July 2009 to manage more than 40 housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs, and more than $114 billion in federal loans.

        The AJC is working to recover the full video footage of Sherrod’s speech to the Douglas NAACP. A production company, DCTV3 in Douglas, recorded the event at the local NAACP chapter’s request and is waiting for the chapter’s permission to release the full speech.

        “We broadcast it on cable,” Wilkerson said. “Somebody probably picked it up and recorded it, then put it on YouTube. That’s probably why the video looks so shabby.”

        Sherrod said it wouldn’t have made any sense for her to espouse racist comments before the NAACP audience.

        “There were some white people there. The mayor [of Douglas] was there,” Sherrod recalled. “Why would I do something racist if they were there?”

        Mayor Jackie Wilson told the AJC she introduced speakers at the banquet but left before Sherrod’s speech.

        Wilson said she did not hear of any controversy in the weeks following the banquet, adding she was shocked to learn of Sherrod’s resignation.

        “She’s not someone I know extremely well, but I respected her and thought she was doing a good job. And she seemed to be a fair person,” said Wilson, who was city manager before becoming mayor 2 1/2 years ago. “I just hate that this kind of thing happened in Douglas.”

        Eloise Spooner told the AJC she intends to stand up for her friend.

        “She helped us and we’re going to help them,” she said.

  6. Mike Kennedy says:

    Maybe not, except the idiot in question was speaking at a NAACP meeting, where members collectively condemned the Tea Party as racist. Doesn’t life provide us with so many delicious ironies?

    1. Mike Kennedy says:

      Excuse me, I meant laughter although I could swear I heard a smattering of applause.

      Also, why did the NAACP issue a statement late Monday night condemning this drip and why did she resign or get fired if it were all a misunderstanding?

    2. Mike Kennedy says:


      Good to see some people can reform their racist ways, which is apparently what this woman did. Good for her.

      BTW, is this the same NAACP — getting snookered by Breitbart, that also got snookered by allowing the infamous racist the Rev. Farrakhan to address it some years back? Just wondering.

  7. Joe Loveland says:

    I’m with Mike about not celebrating Penny Dude. If both sides start down the political theater path Penny Dude embraces, it’s going to become harder than ever for candidates and thoughtful citizens to have an honest, illuminating exchange.

    I don’t like the implications if things continue in this direction. Emmer says three words and is interupted by a guy in a confederate uniform making a point about nullification. Dayton says three words and is interupted by a drenched guy in a suit cracking jokes about Dayton soaking the rich. Horner is abruptly interupted by a woman tearing a sleeze off her blouse and tossing it at Horner while speechifying about his proposed sales tax on clothing taking the clothes off her kids’ backs. Obama is interupted by someone at the State of the Union throwing oil on his podium to make a point about him endorsing off-shore oil drilling prior to the BP spill. Etc, etc, etc.

    All of these political theater examples, considered in isolation, are as amusing as Penny Dude, and are making substantively valid points. But taken as a whole, a steady stream of this method of communicating would make our politics even worse than if it is.

  8. D Koski says:

    Earier in the comments there were references to what would it be like if a tea-party member “attacked” an Amy Klobuchar. Well I definitely remember many of those creeps carrying guns during the health care debates, so that has NO weight. Intimidation and threats are definitely a right wing phenomena. Talk to a right winger long enough and they have to have things both ways, otherwise the logic snakes up their own arse and the branches shake the cancerous polyps loose.

    1. Mike Kennedy says:

      I hardly think that is indicative of only the right wing. I have personally, seen, heard and watched plenty of lunatic lefties spew hatred and/or illogical reasoning.

      I think you go into dangerous territory when you accuse one ideology of harboring all the cuckoo nuts.

  9. Mike Kennedy says:

    No, but there is no lack of left wing nutcrackers who resort to violence. Take the psycho who crashed his plane into the IRS building. Check out his rantings and ravings against drug companies and rich people.

    Then there was the psycho, Obama-smitten biology professor at University of Alabama Huntsville who went on a shooting spree, killing, I think 3 after shooting 6.

    My point: Nuts have no political bounds. They exist on the far right and left. The crazies who brought guns to health care debates, attempted to intimidate, like the Black Panthers outside the polls with clubs or whatever the hell they had. That’s my point.

  10. Ya know Brian, I have been wondering for weeks…how could the GOP possibly slip so low as to allow a wingnut candidate like Emmer as their fully serious candidate for the TOP office of our fair state (when he seems ill-prepared to even hold the top office for our state fair). There had to be some hidden logic, the chess game 10-moves-ahead thinking that I was missing.

    Finally it hit me–they’re GENIUS!! The backroom leadership of the GOP is using this election to expose the wingnut fringe party element to full and public ridicule and running their preferred candidate (Horner, or course) as an Independent. Then as Emmer implodes again and again, and everything Horner says sounds increasingly 10s and 100s and 1000s times better, the sensible side of the GOP will regain their party!

    And of course, no 3rd party can exist, and once Emmer is crushed, and the wingnuts embarassed and diminished, the REAL GOP businessmen can emerge from hiding and take back their party, and stop screwing the gays and pregger teens and get back to business.

    Whaddya think…genius, or am I dreaming this?

    1. PM says:

      Looking pretty hard for that silver lining…..

      still, I do not doubt that there are some at the Country Club who are hoping that this is the case.

    2. You’re a genius in a dream. Maybe the idea was planted a la “Inception”. But seriously, I think there’s a huge opportunity for someone to cash in on all the old school Republicans embarrassed to be associated with the nit wits.

    1. PM says:

      Oops. I see that quite a number of conservative media people, including Glenn Beck, have come out in support of this woman, and criticized Breitbart. Good for them.

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