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Ratfucking - A GOP Tradition

myiq2xu's picture

Did you ever wonder what some of the obnoxious trolls claiming to be Obama supporters are hoping to accomplish by insulting the supporters of Hillary Clinton? Their tactics aren't likely to win converts, and seem designed to make enemies.

Maybe they aren't really Obama supporters after all.

Maybe they are a special breed of GOP trolls called "ratfuckers."

Part I

Ratfucking is an American slang term for political sabotage or dirty tricks. It was first brought to public attention during the Watergate scandal investigation that during the 1972 presidential campaign the Nixon campaign committee maintained a "dirty tricks" unit focused on discrediting Nixon's strongest challengers.

According to Woodward and Bernstein, Nixon aide Dwight Chapin hired fellow USC alumnus Donald Segretti to run a campaign of dirty tricks (which Segretti dubbed "ratfucking") against the Democrats in 1972. The purpose of the operation was to create as much bitterness and disunity within the Democrat primary as possible. One notable example of Segretti's wrong-doing was a faked letter on Democratic presidential candidate Edmund Muskie's letterhead falsely alleging that U.S. Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson, a fellow Democrat, had had an illegitimate child with a 17-year-old.

Among the tactics were: canceling meeting-hall reservations just prior to rallies, putting out false press releases or "leaked documents" in the name of political opponents, spying on rival campaigns, putting plants into rival campaigns, purloining speeches and information, vote contracting, jamming phone lines, ordering vast quantities of food for delivery in the name of rival campaigns, hiring "rioters" and "activists, conducting deceptive or offensive get out the vote phone canvasses, push polls, and similar activities.

Before the 1972 election, Edmund Muskie was viewed as a frontrunner for the Democratic Presidential nomination. Although Muskie won the Iowa caucuses and went on to win the New Hampshire primary, his campaign faltered. The collapse of Muskie's momentum early in the 1972 campaign is partly attributed to dirty tricks. Prior to the New Hampshire primary, the so-called "Canuck Letter" was published in the Manchester Union-Leader. The letter claimed that Muskie had made disparaging remarks about French-Canadians—a remark likely to injure Muskie's support among the French-Canadian population in northern New England.

FBI investigators later determined that the Canuck Letter was a forged document and was part of the Nixon dirty-tricks operation.

Segretti recruited Karl Rove, the executive director of the College Republicans, to work in this dirty tricks campaign. In the fall of 1970, Rove had used a false identity to enter the campaign office of Democrat Alan J. Dixon, who was running for Treasurer of Illinois. He stole 1000 sheets of paper with campaign letterhead, printed fake campaign rally fliers promising "free beer, free food, girls and a good time for nothing", and distributed them at rock concerts and homeless shelters, with the effect of disrupting Dixon's rally.

From The Rise and Fall of Turd Blossom by Sidney Blumenthal (Salon, Aug 16 2007):
"Rove conducted one session training young Republicans to sift through the garbage of opponents. In the Watergate scandal, Segretti was sentenced to prison for forging campaign literature. The FBI questioned Rove, but dropped its investigation of the small fry. Yet he would become the greatest "ratfucker" of them all."

As a protégé of Segretti, Rove helped to paint Nixon opponent George McGovern as a "left-wing peacenik", in spite of McGovern's heroism during World War II piloting a B-24.

Rove held the position of executive director of the College Republicans until early 1973. He left the job to spend five months, without pay, campaigning full time for the position of national chairman of the organization. Lee Atwater, the group's Southern regional coordinator, managed Rove's campaign. The two spent the spring of 1973 crisscrossing the country in a Ford Pinto, lining up the support of Republican state chairs.
The College Republicans summer 1973 convention was quite contentious. Rove's opponent was Robert Edgeworth. A number of states had sent two competing delegates, because Rove and his supporters had made credentials challenges at state and regional conventions. For example, after the Midwest regional convention, Rove forces had produced a version of the Midwestern College Republicans constitution which differed significantly from the constitution that the Edgeworth forces were using, in order to justify the unseating of the Edgeworth delegates on procedural grounds. In the end, there were two votes, conducted by two convention chairs, and two winners — Rove and Edgeworth, each of whom delivered an acceptance speech. After the convention, both Edgeworth and Rove appealed to Republican National Committee Chairman George H. W. Bush, each contending that he was the new College Republican chairman.
While resolution was pending, Terry Dolan, a supporter of Edgeworth, went (anonymously) to the Washington Post with recordings of several training seminars for young Republicans where Rove discussed campaign techniques that included rooting through opponents' garbage cans. On August 10, 1973, in the midst of the Watergate scandal, the Post broke the story in an article titled "Republican Party Probes Official as Teacher of Tricks."

On September 6, 1973, three weeks after announcing his intent to investigate the allegations against Rove, George H. W. Bush chose Rove to be chairman of the College Republicans. Bush then wrote Edgeworth a letter saying that he had concluded that Rove had fairly won the vote at the convention. Edgeworth wrote back, asking about the basis of that conclusion. Not long after that, Edgeworth has said, "Bush sent me back the angriest letter I have ever received in my life. I had leaked to the Washington Post, and now I was out of the Party forever."
As National Chairman, Rove introduced Bush to Atwater, who had taken Rove's job as the College Republican's executive director, and who would become Bush's main campaign strategist in future years.

COMING SOON - Ratfucking with Lee and Karl

(Except as noted, all references are taken from Wikipedia.)

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ribonucleic's picture
Submitted by ribonucleic on

So GOP operatives, under cover of being Obama supporters, infiltrate pro-Hillary sites like this one to foment discord between the two camps - helping suppress party unity for the general elections.

That actually makes sense to me. But then I'm one myself - according to you - so it's natural that it would.

Well, if that's your conclusion, I'm sure you'll work to thwart the plan by supporting Obama's nomination and voting for him in November.

No one's going to put anything over on you!

"Somebody forgot to tell Hillary Clinton the Democratic presidential race is over and Barack Obama won." - Reuters, 3/27/08

“They see us from afar, they come to a speech, they watch us on television. And they vote. And that is part of the process. An important part.” - Hillary Clinton

kelley b's picture
Submitted by kelley b on

Exit polls on Super Tuesday showed that unlike the Republicans, 80% of Democrats participating in primaries would be happy with any of the candidates over any of the Republicans.

You would hardly know that now looking at cyberspace, unless you paid attention.

I think the bitter infighting is largely the work of Republican operatives, masquerading as partisans of either Democratic camp, egging on us weak-minded old timers. Just scan the comment rolls of many popular progressive blogs before and after February, and look at the number of newbies. Many, likely most, are legitimate posters energized by the race.

Many aren't, and they subtly change the tone of arguments into a circular firing squad.

We have got to start addressing the real issues. Like the War. Like the Economy. Everything else is tangential. It's as Naomi Klein sez: this is our chance, and we're letting the Sith Lord acolytes and their minions suck us into weak-minded personality conflicts.

No Hell below us
Above us, only sky

myiq2xu's picture
Submitted by myiq2xu on

and vote for whoever that person is in November. I have said this consistently.

But right now we don't have a nominee, and I am supporting Hillary for the nomination. I will defend her when she is attacked, especially when lies are told about her or her family. I will also not be shy about pointing out the flaws and imperfections of her opponent.

I differentiate between Obama, Obama supporters, and trolls who may or not be actual Obama supporters. I also differentiate between cogent argument and ad hominem attacks. Name calling and hurling insults are not "cogent arguments."

What is your purpose here? Are you trying to convince people to support Obama? If so, I suggest you extoll his virtues instead of engaging in Hillary bashing.

IOW - work on your "people skills."

x

------------------------------------------------
“I don't belong to any organized political party. I'm a Democrat.” - Will Rogers

leah's picture
Submitted by leah on

So don't pretend that anyone did.

I have no information to suggest you are not who you say you are, a progressive supporter of Senator Obama who is desperate for a change in the direction of American policy and politics.

The post isn't primarily about a theory: it's about a very particular history of how the presently configured deeply right-wing Republican Party works against liberals and progressives, which makes that theory a possibility.

If Obama gets the nomination, which increasingly it appears he will, as a supporter, you would do well to think about how those same techniques will be used against him and the entire Democratic Party, as well as, BTW, independent attempts to advance progressive ideas, see the history of MoveOn, of which I am member, and with whom I have done quite a bit of work.

dmd76's picture
Submitted by dmd76 on

Maybe myiq2xu should say who exactly s/he thinks might be a ratfucker, instead of coyly hinting at their presence.

myiq2xu's picture
Submitted by myiq2xu on

but if the shoe fits, you know what to do.

My purpose isn't to identify perpetrators, my purpose is to prevent them from being successful.

If they are trying to stir up trouble and divide our party, then we need to keep that in mind and not blame the candidates for what anonymous trolls say.

x

------------------------------------------------
“I don't belong to any organized political party. I'm a Democrat.” - Will Rogers

myiq2xu's picture
Submitted by myiq2xu on

let me add that part II will show the tactics used by Atwater and Rove during the Bush I and Bush II campaigns.

Part III will look at what's going on right now and show how it fits with the ratfucking M.O. In criminal law it is well accepted that criminals keep using the same methods of operation (modus operandi, or M.O.) and so do GOP operatives.

For instance, I mentioned the letter sent on Muskie's letterhead that falsely accused Scoop Jackson of fathering an illegitimate child.

That is a classic two-fer tactic. Now consider the false rumors that Obama attended a Muslim madrassa as a child. Whoever started the rumor tried to blame Hillary's campaign for it. A two-fer.

When Drudge published the picture of Obama in Africa he tried to falsely blame Hillary's campaign for it. Another two-fer.

Sometimes when you know what to look for it becomes obvious.

x

------------------------------------------------
“I don't belong to any organized political party. I'm a Democrat.” - Will Rogers

kelley b's picture
Submitted by kelley b on

In the heat of verbal battle it is easy to see your opponent as sinister even when you simply disagree.

You start trying to finger the enemy and you end up alienating potential allies who are debating in good faith.

Apologies for premature application of antivirals- still, what are any of the candidates going to do to end the Endless War?.

Why do they all have Free Market advisors advocating economic deregulation which has consistently proven to be disasterous for everyone except the robber barons?

Focus, people.

No Hell below us
Above us, only sky

corinne's picture
Submitted by corinne on

Since you mention Turd Blossom's campaign for the college republicans, Stone was national chairman of the Young Republicans in 1977.

Stone's ratfucking CV is rather lengthy, and his most recent "accomplishments" are threatening Elliot Spitzer's dad, his tip to the FBI about E. Spitzer's activities, and the anti-Hillary 527.

rootless's picture
Submitted by rootless on

The people who fill blogs like this and TalkLeft and Taylor Marsh with bitter denounciations of the "sexist", "race baiting", "empty suit", "reaganite", "extremist", "manchurian candidate", etc. candidate who is ahead in the race for the nomination and his "cult" of "obamabots" and "obamatons" who happen to be the plurality of the Democratic electorate and who insist that Cornell West, Barbara Lee, Jesse Jackson, Lakoff, ted kennedy, barbara ehrenreich, katha pollit, robert kuttner, and so many others are motivated by stupidity or spite - those people are not republican operatives?

myiq2xu's picture
Submitted by myiq2xu on

but I doubt it.

Troublemakers aren't likely to go to pro-Hillary sites and say bad things about Obama.

But I see quite a few allegedly pro-Obama commenters show up here, at TalkLeft and Taylor Marsh and make comments that don't seem to have any purpose other than cause trouble.

What is your purpose here? To win converts for Obama?

x

------------------------------------------------
“I don't belong to any organized political party. I'm a Democrat.” - Will Rogers

dmd76's picture
Submitted by dmd76 on

Well there's where a lot of the confusion lies, myiq. Is this a pro-Hillary site? Or is this a site that welcomes discussion among people who, you know, disagree? The Senior Fellows have assured me and others on multiple occasions that it is the latter. You, and others, seem to want a pro-Hillary echo chamber where you can say all the nasty things about Obama and his supporters that you want without consequence. I'd love for this to be settled once and for all.

ps. I find it just fantastic that you write a post insinuating some people (who? you won't say) are "ratfuckers" and then decry "ad hominem attacks...name calling and hurling insults". Doublethink much?

myiq2xu's picture
Submitted by myiq2xu on

are welcome here as far I'm concerned. I don't run this site but as far as I know the people who do share my opinion.

I wasn't saying anything nasty about Senator Obama nor most (if not all) of his supporters.

My post was directed at phony Obama supporters who are really here only to cause trouble for the Democratic party.

x

------------------------------------------------
“I don't belong to any organized political party. I'm a Democrat.” - Will Rogers

rootless's picture
Submitted by rootless on

I'm curious about the phenomenon of liberal obama-hatred.

My point of view is that the democrats are a sucky, middle of the road party that has been compromised by corporations and imperial mandarins, but that they are preferable to the party of kleptocratic police states otherwise known as the republicans. Mrs. Clinton is a long time DLC power in the right wing of the democratic party with a track record that goes from the pathetic health care fiasco to dick morris in the white house to aumf, flag amendment, and kyle-lieberman. She is the candidate of wall street, attracting former Bush pioneers like Sandy Weil and his colleague Robert Rubin. Yet somehow, if you read places like this one, talkleft, or even mydd, you get the distinct impression that she is viewed as a progressive champion fighting fiercely against the supposedly right wing obama candidacy.

This take on the world seems so utterly wrong to me that I'm curious about it. Maybe there is an argument at its core that will make me reconsider my understanding - haven't had a sense that there is one buried down here yet. But it's a peculiar and interesting phenomenon.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

That is a classic two-fer tactic. Now consider the false rumors that Obama attended a Muslim madrassa as a child. Whoever started the rumor tried to blame Hillary’s campaign for it. A two-fer.

that has seemed to be the idea from the beginning, pit one side against another. And it is working because Clinton did not early on warn Democrats that this is the tactic that would be used and because the OFB fell for it. This is where Big Orange or even Booman could have exercised some leadership, but completely fell for it.

Dave Johnson, smartest man in blogosphere, has been thinking the same thing.

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

You don't like Clinton, fine. You want people support Obama, great.

How about you pitch us on the reasons why we should vote for Obama, instead of against Clinton. And stop using the right wing tactics of the 90's(something no good democrat should do) to attack Clinton.

And please don't kid yourself that Obama is less-DLC than she is. And while I don't think Obama is a right winger, it disturbs me to see him attack the Democrats using right wing tropes. And the fact that he jumped into the presidential ring so quickly, when in 2004 his plan was to serve in the Senate, go for Illinois governor(to gain that wonderful executive experience that really helps in a presidential contest), and then president. He fast-tracked his plan, and it makes me question why he did, who advised him to do it, and what they want from him, if he is successful. Which is why I think a lot of DC-Dem powerhouses do support, b/c they feel he can be easily manipulated.

He who will not reason is a bigot; he who cannot is a fool; and he who dares not is a slave.
- Sir William Drummond

kelley b's picture
Submitted by kelley b on

Most people frequenting progressive blogs are in fact progressives, which is why they have plenty to be pissed off about concerning all the candidates.

Others seem clearly operatives or influenced by them.

It's easy to observe good people going overboard in one direction at kos's and another way here.

Me, I go overboard in all directions against HHHillary and The Unibama, but I'd accept either as Preznit.

[I still want to know what are either of the candidates going to do to end the Endless War?]

But Mc$ame as Bu$hie is a clear and present danger to the economy, the Constitution, and the world.

No Hell below us
Above us, only sky

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

Don't worry kelly b, Sadr will end he endless war, just as Gilliard predicted he would.

sigh

manahmanah's picture
Submitted by manahmanah on

The best and most politically damaging example of ratfucking was NAFTA-gate:

CBC Reports (btw, how do I embed youtube over here?)

Turns out the infamous memo describing Canada's meeting with Goolsbee was drafted days after the meeting and completely misrepresented Goolsbee's statements. Pretty much the entire story, reported by the ratfucking foxnews of Canada and spread up to the day of the Ohio primary, was later shown to be bullshit. And the whole thing came from the ratfucking Canadian rightwing government.

Not to mention, after the truth of Naftagate came to light (post-Ohio), the Clinton campaign (including HRC, herself) still stuck to the original BS NAFTA story. So please don't tell me all these dirty tricks come from Obama and his supporters.

jimbo's picture
Submitted by jimbo on

The problem with using devisive attacks and hatred against an opponent (Obama vs HRC, HRC vs Obama) is that trolls can enter the discussion and use these same methods to cause damage. An observer can never distinguish between someone for HRC or Obama from piece of shit repuglies (sorry for the redundancy). On numerous occasions I have entered a heated commenter's discussion in a blog to point out the above. The solution of course is that the blog and the commenters refrain from ad hominem attacks on the opponent. If this is done then the troll will become obvious, and booted. In my personal opinion I think there is a tendency for ad hominem attacks more from the Obama side, because he doesn't have the background and experience as a base. I continue to try to find information to help me decide whom to vote for, but the message from the Obama camp is distorted because of the attacks, whether from agents of the Obama camp, or from trolls.

dmd76's picture
Submitted by dmd76 on

Aeryl, I've never said I don't like Clinton. I think she'd be a fine President. I happen to prefer Obama over her. Some of my reasons for doing so are positive (for Obama) and others negative (against Hillary), so I find your request unreasonable: you're asking people to argue, pardon the cliche, with one hand tied behind their backs.

dmd76's picture
Submitted by dmd76 on

Then I ask again: what posts, what comments have alerted you to the possible infiltration of this site by "ratfuckers"? Who among us is a phony Obama supporter? You've made the accusation, now back it up.

myiq2xu's picture
Submitted by myiq2xu on

I'm not suggesting anyone be banned, even suspected trolls. That's a policy decision for the site managers.

I'm suggesting that we take offensive or outrageous comments with a grain of salt, keeping in mind that the commenter may not be who he or she claims to be and may have ulterior motives.

Don't blame one candidate because someone claiming to be a supporter of the other candidate acts like a troll. Don't say "I will never vote for X because X's supporters are so obnoxious and rude."

x

------------------------------------------------
“I don't belong to any organized political party. I'm a Democrat.” - Will Rogers

myiq2xu's picture
Submitted by myiq2xu on

lest ye be judged.

I am only suggesting that such creatures exist, not pointing the finger at anyone in particular.

And I am speaking of the blogosphere in general, not necessarily just this blog.

x

------------------------------------------------
“I don't belong to any organized political party. I'm a Democrat.” - Will Rogers

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

almost every anti-Clinton takes everything as an attack against them personally? Ribo thinks when I say Obama's campaign has been sexist, I am accusing him of sexism, DMD reads a post on ratfuckers and thinks it's about him.

Projection, much?

He who will not reason is a bigot; he who cannot is a fool; and he who dares not is a slave.
- Sir William Drummond

rootless's picture
Submitted by rootless on

[Edit: In the original of this post I incorrectly attributed the link below to shystee who is not responsible for the IBD "rumor" in any way and deserves an apology]

The "scary rumor" post which recycled the rumor from the winger central investor business daily

e.g.
http://www.blognetnews.com/eschatonians/...

Lambert's response to Obama's race speech "Barry needs to say 'uh' less" (more or less paraphrased).

...

This place daily features posts that are pure invective against obama.

dmd76's picture
Submitted by dmd76 on

I'm quite sure I'm not a "ratfucker" as defined in this post, Aeryl, so I am asking myiq2xu who s/he is referring to. I've not taken this personally in any of my replies. You should read a bit more carefully.

Apparently, when myiq2xu writes:

My post was directed at phony Obama supporters who are really here only to cause trouble for the Democratic party.

"here" does not means here, www.correntewire.com, but "the blogosphere in general". Very strange.

myiq2xu's picture
Submitted by myiq2xu on

Do you want me to point to a person and scream "That's the bastard there, get him?"

Do you want me to opine that "Billjimbobtomharryjeff" is a ratfucker? If I do, will you rush to prove me wrong?

What's your purpose?

x

------------------------------------------------
“I don't belong to any organized political party. I'm a Democrat.” - Will Rogers

dmd76's picture
Submitted by dmd76 on

who and what you are talking about. You hint at sinister machinations by GOP operatives infiltrating "here" to sow discord among us. I ask you for an example and you can provide none.

myiq2xu's picture
Submitted by myiq2xu on

and maybe your questions will be answered.

Until then, I suggest you look for offense somewhere else.

BTW - Go read my post and point to me where I said "here."

x

------------------------------------------------
“I don't belong to any organized political party. I'm a Democrat.” - Will Rogers

dmd76's picture
Submitted by dmd76 on

Not in the post, but in the comments (emphasis added):
1.

But I see quite a few allegedly pro-Obama commenters show up here, at TalkLeft and Taylor Marsh and make comments that don’t seem to have any purpose other than cause trouble.

2.

My post was directed at phony Obama supporters who are really here only to cause trouble for the Democratic party.

Maybe that was another myiq2xu who posted those comments?

I repeat, I don't take offense at anything in your post. I want to understand what the fuck you are talking about. Are you in the habit of making outlandish, conspiratorial allegations without the slightest bit of evidence?

myiq2xu's picture
Submitted by myiq2xu on

It has a cliffhanger ending.

Save your questions until then, I don't want to be a spoiler.

x

------------------------------------------------
“I don't belong to any organized political party. I'm a Democrat.” - Will Rogers

dmd76's picture
Submitted by dmd76 on

Baseless claims and smearmongering. Thanks for the history lesson, though.

myiq2xu's picture
Submitted by myiq2xu on

Ratfuckers exist - Karl Rove and Donald Segretti are still alive, Lee Atwater's existence is not disputed to my knowledge. (Segretti, BTW, was last known to be a McCain supporter.)

Trolls exist, at least in the general consensus of the blogosphere, although exactly who is or isn't a troll is often disputed and may be in the eye of the beholder.

Are you suggesting that every person who claims to be a partisan for one of the two Democratic candidates is exactly who they claim to be? Are you saying that it is impossible that any of them might be pretending to be partisans for one or another candidate and are in fact members of another party?

Can you prove that my hypothesis is incorrect?

As for answers to your questions, I repeat, wait for the rest of the series. But please feel free to hold your breath while you wait.

x

------------------------------------------------
“I don't belong to any organized political party. I'm a Democrat.” - Will Rogers

intranets's picture
Submitted by intranets on

Um.. yummy. More trollfeed(TM) please. Nom nom nom. This thread is on pace to be one of the longest ever.

dmd76's picture
Submitted by dmd76 on

Oh look, as if on cue, intranets chimes in late with nothing to say.

Keep playing dumb, myiq2xu. It suits you and your argument very well. I'm sure your expose of ratfuckers in the blogosphere/corrente will be riveting.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Would anyone whine about being seen as a ratfucker if they aren't concerned that their behavior had made them suspect?

Seems to me that those who are most concerned that they are being seen that way should examine their own behavior and identify what it is that - in their own eyes - makes that likely.

Then change their behavior, to something they can be proud of instead of ashamed and concerned.

Unless, of course, they really are ratfuckers, in which case they are stuck with ratfucking behavior and have to deflect attention from themselves by a strategy of, oh, what, maybe outrage and defensiveness and wailing about how unfair it all is and how dare anyone suggest, whine, whine, whine because those softy leftists never want to hurt anyone's feelings and after a while they'll just back off and tolerate it.

Keep up the good work, myiq2xu, look forward to your second installment - and seeing who gets defensive.

myiq2xu's picture
Submitted by myiq2xu on

It was my first blog post (rather than comment) ever.

Ironically, I expected some Obama supporters would take offense, even though it is actually a defense of them, not an attack.

By definition, a true Obama supporter cannot be a GOP ratfucker troll.

x

------------------------------------------------
“I don't belong to any organized political party. I'm a Democrat.” - Will Rogers

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Some fun, eh? Nice bunch here, rough on dumbness but that won't be a problem for you.

Your presentation is indeed evenhanded and doesn't single out anyone in any camp. Good people can reasonably disagree, even vigorously, without a pattern of destructive behavior. Nice job.

intranets's picture
Submitted by intranets on

I just noticed the vanity username.

"My I.Q. is twice yours" lol. nicely done.

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

I never see stuff like that, it's like my eyes are broken.

It went right over my head.

He who will not reason is a bigot; he who cannot is a fool; and he who dares not is a slave.
- Sir William Drummond

myiq2xu's picture
Submitted by myiq2xu on

It was given to me.

It's intended as a joke but some people get all upset and offended.

No sense of humor I guess.

x

------------------------------------------------
“I don't belong to any organized political party. I'm a Democrat.” - Will Rogers