"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)

Thursday, October 14, 2004

An Open Letter to Ralph Nader 

Hey, Ralph, remember me? No? That's okay. Keep reading, though, because I have some thoughts for you to ponder.

Just so you know, and by way of establishing my bona fides, I voted for you in 2000 and I make no apologies for it. Also, while I will not be voting for you this time (sorry), I have resisted joining the growing chorus of those who would have you drawn and quartered. In America, I believe, anyone can run for President - even if their candidacy is quixotic in the extreme. I even tend to agree with you that your candidacy probably isn't doing John Kerry much harm - I suspect that most of those who will vote for you would be unlikely to vote for Kerry if you weren't in the race. Frankly, I doubt most of them would vote for anyone at all; they'd probably just stay home on the farm (organic, of course) and meditate or something. Most of these folks aren't real engaged in the process, if you know what I mean.

Hell, for that matter, you might be doing Kerry some good. After all, looking at all the Republican money flowing into your operation, I figure those are all dollars that would otherwise go toward electing Republican senators or congressmen. The way I figure it, the Republican would-be dirty tricksters are being a bit too clever for their own good.

But, in a roundabout way, that brings me to the reason for this little note. I'm writing to you about a mutual acquaintance of ours - Nathan Sproul. Remember him? Sure you do. He's the guy who helped you gather signatures to get on the ballot in Arizona. Now, when I say he's our "mutual acquaintance," that's not quite accurate - I never met the man. But I've learned a bit about him in the last couple of days, and I'm beginning to feel like we're old pals.

I came upon Sproul when I read about his less-than-savory activities in connection to voter registration drives in Nevada and Oregon. I wanted to follow his trail and see where it led and, I'm sorry to say, it led to you.

But Ralph, here's the weird part - I think Sproul is the tip of the iceberg. In the course of my research, I learned a little bit about some other friends of yours: Michael Arno, of Arno Political Consultants (a California firm), and Jenny Breslin, of JSM, Inc., in Florida. (You may not recognize this spelling of Jenny's name - she sometimes spells it Breslyn. Not that there's anything wrong with that.) Arno introduced you to Breslin, and as a result JSM has done signature gathering work for you, in states such as Ohio and West Virginia.

Now, I have no hard evidence wrapping all of these names into one tidy little conspiracy, but there are some interesting points of commonality among them. For instance, Arno (like Sproul) has received some fairly serious money from the RNC. Both Arno and Sproul are heavily involved in voter registration activities, and both of them have been accused of fraud in the course of those activities. Interestingly enough, both of them have also done some work on behalf of Wal-Mart. Arno and JSM seem to be quite closely associated, given the frequency with which both of their names come up together. Both of them have done a fair amount of work in association with the gaming industry, in particular with Indian gaming (I need to do some disclosure: I myself have done some legal work with one of the tribes here in Washington, associated with their efforts to open a casino). Anyway, whenever anyone mentions Indian gaming, my thoughts naturally turn to Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon, Tom deLay's minions who just recently got in a speck of trouble for shaking down Indian casinos in Texas. And, of course, Abramoff and Scanlon are in bed with Ralph Reed, late of the Christian Coalition. This, of course, caught my eye because Nathan Sproul has also held an executive position with the Christian Coalition, at least at the state level in Arizona. See what I mean? No smoking gun, but a fairly strong scent of gunpowder. Lots of coincidences.

And that's where you come in.

You see, like it or not, your name keeps coming up in the middle of all these jokers. You know these people, and you know who among them knows whom. You've got a bit of an inside line here. Also, you have a small army of committed kids who could do some serious research to fill in the many yawning gaps in my rough outline. For instance, you could put that kid from WashPIRG who keeps knocking on my door at dinner time on the case. Set him up with a DSL line and a Lexis/Nexis account (all I've got is dialup and Google - that's just not getting the job done). He's not too bright, or at least not too socially skilled, but he's earnest as hell and will do whatever you want.

So, what's in it for you? Simple. As you may have noticed, you're really none too popular these days among the progressive community. I sympathize with your position - John Kerry isn't my dream candidate either, and I join you in wishing that the terms of the debate could be shifted away from the corporate agenda. But on the other hand, Kerry's really not that bad - his environmental record is pretty good, for instance - and in any case he certainly beats the bejeebers out of George Dubya Bush, who seems to have made it his personal quest to see to it that Franklin Pierce is no longer remembered as America's Worst President. Anyway, here's what I'm thinking: You help put Sproul, Arno, Breslin/Breslyn, and whoever else is involved in this voter registration scam out of business. Maybe even help get 'em locked away. And, if the connections I think are there can be documented, you can help take down Scanlon, Abramoff, deLay, Ralph Reed - hell, maybe even the Walton family, who knows? - along with whatever goons over at the RNC who are blowing their slush fund on this stuff.

In a nutshell, here's what I'm saying: You can be John Kerry's own, personal October Surprise.

You know what that makes you? Well, for starters, it makes you popular again among progressives. More to the point, it makes you the kingmaker. You'll have some real juice then, Ralph, and you can use it to affect the agenda during Kerry's presidency in a positive way. It makes you something better than President - it makes you a genuine hero. Just sayin'.

Anyway, Ralph, think about it. Follow your bliss, or your conscience, or whatever. Just remember - you've already laid down with the dogs, and you've already got the fleas.




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