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UK anti-Bush letters spark outrage

Old 10-19-04, 09:54 AM
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UK anti-Bush letters spark outrage

A pro-Kerry letter-writing campaign by Britain's left-leaning Guardian newspaper, targeting undecided U.S. voters, has provoked outrage across the Atlantic.

The paper has encouraged its readers to express their opinions on the November 2 presidential election to voters in the key swing state of Ohio -- to the fury of Clark county.

"Hey England, Scotland and Wales, mind your own business. We don't need weenie-spined Limeys meddling in our presidential election," was one of the e-mail reactions to the campaign.

The Fox national cable television network tore into the newspaper and even John Kerry's own Democrats expressed horror at the campaign.

"We all feel it is not a good idea. I think it was unwise. It is so poorly thought-out," said Sharon Manitta, spokeswoman in Britain for Democrats Abroad.

But the newspaper, whose cartoons regularly portray President George W. Bush as a semi-literate ape, was unrepentant.

"We did consult a number of opinions and made our decision accordingly," assistant features editor Paul MacInnes told Reuters. "It has been an operation to give our readers an opportunity to express their opinions."

With just two weeks to go before the election, Kerry is running neck and neck with Republican incumbent Bush.

Ohio is a key swing state which Bush won by just four percentage points in 2000, and Clark county is at its heart.

The campaign is a bid to sway voters on the county's electoral register who have declared themselves undecided.

As of Monday night, more than 14,000 people had registered to write to a voter in Cook county which has a population of just 143,000.

Individuals like film director Ken Loach, spy writer John Le Carre, historian Antonia Fraser and opposition Liberal Democratic parliamentarian Menzies Campbell have all written in their own capacity -- not that their names necessarily carry much weight in Cook county.

The Guardian, which simply bought a list of registered voters and extracted the undecided, pledged that it would only give out the name of each voter once, to avoid them being swamped by unsolicited mail from complete strangers.

"We know that in many ways this is the world's election, and we understand the passion and concern in many parts of the world over it. But I wonder how people here in the UK would react to Americans telling them how to vote," Democrats Abroad's Manitta said.

"This will certainly garner more votes for George Bush. I have strongly advised other media entities who have come to me and suggested this against doing so," she added.

While some e-mails to the Guardian from Democrats in Ohio were supportive, others suggested the campaign was misguided.

But their mild admonitions paled into insignificance against the more reactionary views received by the paper.

"Real Americans aren't interested in your pansy-ass, tea-sipping opinions. If you want to save the world, begin with you own worthless corner of it," wrote one from Texas.
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Old 10-19-04, 10:02 AM
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I read about this in the Guardian yesterday. The whole idea is so idiotic that words escape me. How would Brits feel if they started getting letters in the mail from guys from Dubuque telling them to vote out Tony Blair? The whole idea stinks of "let us sophisticated and morally superior adults show you naive and ignorant children the way."

I also love the quotes Reuters chose out of the thousands they've received at the Guardian (they've published many on their website). The quotes completely fulfill every ugly American stereotype. It makes it seem that the only possible objection Americans could have to an extremely patronizing letter campaign is illiterate/WWE/Redneck hollerin'. I mean fer crissake, they even use the word "meddling" and the phrase "tea sipping". It's amazing, the article actually deepens the condescention of the whole campaign. Gotta love Reuters.
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Old 10-19-04, 10:40 AM
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This is ludicrous and bound to backfire.
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Old 10-19-04, 10:40 AM
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Originally posted by Hiro11
How would Brits feel if they started getting letters in the mail from guys from Dubuque telling them to vote out Tony Blair?
How do you know they don't?


The whole idea stinks of "let us sophisticated and morally superior adults show you naive and ignorant children the way."
[/QUOTE]
Why would automatically assume that the average Brit views the USA this way? I think it has more to do with your own self image issues in terms of how the USA is viewed, rather than how they actually view us. If I had to guess, I'd say they about as split on this Iraq thing as we are here in the states and they realize that Bush has the ability to potentially pull us all into another conflict somewhere else.

I don't want to start the "Iraq invasion good or bad" discussion again, but if you realize that there are a lot of people who are unhappy about going to war AND that war itself is a major player in a political climate, their reaction really isn't surprising.

My reaction is: Thanks for the interest, but I got this.
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Old 10-19-04, 10:44 AM
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[Waiting for Chirac's statement]
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Old 10-19-04, 10:48 AM
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Originally posted by Thor Simpson
[Waiting for Chirac's statement]
[Waiting for Thor to say - "That's it...]

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Old 10-19-04, 10:48 AM
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Originally posted by Contactsport1
I don't want to start the "Iraq invasion good or bad" discussion again, but if you realize that there are a lot of people who are unhappy about going to war AND that war itself is a major player in a political climate, their reaction really isn't surprising.
It would be a little less annoying if it weren't coming from people who live in a country that, for over a century (and not that long ago), dominated much of the rest of the world by force and felt that, because they were the strongest nation in the world, had every right to do so. One can only imagine the response such a letter writing campaign would have received in the Houses of Commons and Lords if it had been sent by US citizens a century ago.
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Old 10-19-04, 10:50 AM
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Originally posted by wendersfan
This is ludicrous and bound to backfire.
I would think so as well.
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Old 10-19-04, 11:13 AM
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At best, this will be completely ineffective. If unsolicited email had an iota of a chance of changing one's political view, we'd all get <i>a thousand times</i> as much email spam as we do now.

At worst, this will be completely ineffective. Unsolicited mail is a dumb idea, but it's neither fraudulent nor obnoxious (in fact, our Constitution allows one to do it.) So the paper can be accused of hosting a dumb and fruitless effort, but not of anything more nefarious.

Bottom line: Completely ineffective. Why is this news?

- David Stein
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Old 10-19-04, 11:19 AM
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It's nice that even amidst all of this election-year hubbub, Clark County still found the time to change its name to Cook County.
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Old 10-19-04, 11:21 AM
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Originally posted by sfsdfd

Bottom line: Completely ineffective. Why is this news?

- David Stein
Exactly.
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Old 10-19-04, 11:22 AM
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Originally posted by sfsdfd
Why is this news?

- David Stein
Because an English newspaper has decided that they need to solicit readers into sending letters asking US voters to vote for or against a certian presidental candidate.

Does that not strike you as a bit offensive, regardless of where you stand politically?
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Old 10-19-04, 11:25 AM
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Originally posted by wendersfan
It would be a little less annoying if it weren't coming from people who live in a country that, for over a century (and not that long ago), dominated much of the rest of the world by force and felt that, because they were the strongest nation in the world, had every right to do so. One can only imagine the response such a letter writing campaign would have received in the Houses of Commons and Lords if it had been sent by US citizens a century ago.
Actually, it would be less annoying if it came from a nation that hadn't previously been our British overlords and which we engaged in two wars to be free of their domination. (Almost a third considering their meddling on behalf of the South in the Civil War.) We have really only gotten along with them since WWI.

Edit: Massachusetts annually reenacts defeating the British on Patriots Day every April.

Last edited by OldDude; 10-19-04 at 11:28 AM.
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Old 10-19-04, 11:28 AM
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Originally posted by Nazgul
Does that not strike you as a bit offensive, regardless of where you stand politically?
Why is it offensive for a non-American to express his views about the candidates in an American election? Would you hesitate before telling someone in Englang what you thought of Tony Blair?

This doesn't strike me as offensive - just a stupid waste of time and effort.

- David Stein
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Old 10-19-04, 11:29 AM
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Originally posted by Nazgul
Because an English newspaper has decided that they need to solicit readers into sending letters asking US voters to vote for or against a certian presidental candidate.

Does that not strike you as a bit offensive, regardless of where you stand politically?
No. I just don't give a crap about what a British paper does or doesn't do. Everyone wants to weigh in, why not a Brit paper. There have been a number of posts here telling us about what Putin thinks, some idiot from Malaysia's opinion, now a British paper...blah, blah. Welcome to the communication age.
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Old 10-19-04, 11:34 AM
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Originally posted by Contactsport1
No. I just don't give a crap about what a British paper does or doesn't do. Everyone wants to weigh in, why not a Brit paper. There have been a number of posts here telling us about what Putin thinks, some idiot from Malaysia's opinion, now a British paper...blah, blah. Welcome to the communication age.
It's not an editorial on their front page, it's an organized effort to try and influence our election.

They are providing, to their subscribers, names and addresses of registered voters in the US. It doesn't matter if it has a great or nil effect, it's the idea that they are encouraging readers to write and send letters to voters about why we should elect Kerry.
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Old 10-19-04, 11:35 AM
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Originally posted by sfsdfd
Why is it offensive for a non-American to express his views about the candidates in an American election? Would you hesitate before telling someone in Englang what you thought of Tony Blair?

This doesn't strike me as offensive - just a stupid waste of time and effort.

- David Stein
Would it be appropriate if the NY Times organized a similar campaign to have it's readers send letters to English voters about why they need to vote out Blair?
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Old 10-19-04, 11:35 AM
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Originally posted by nevermind
[Waiting for Thor to say - "That's it...]

Oh, now I've had it. I'm voting for Bush.

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Old 10-19-04, 11:40 AM
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Here is the Guardian's original article. I also find myself offended by their list of legal ways to make illegal foreign campaign contributions to a particular candidate. These are truly liberals where we should all vote for Bush just to piss them off.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uselection...326033,00.html
. . . We've identified ways to give money to help your preferred candidate, even though direct campaign contributions from foreigners aren't allowed. . . . Give money


American law forbids foreigners from giving money to affect the outcome of a federal election - except that, on closer inspection, it doesn't. You're banned from donating to the campaigns themselves, or to many of the independent campaigning groups that fight explicitly on behalf of one candidate. So you need to identify officially non-partisan groups whose activities, none the less, have the practical effect of helping one candidate over the other. "Perhaps the most important way foreigners could help John Kerry would be to help out those organisations which have, as part of their mission, fostering African-American voter turnout," says Nathaniel Persily, a Pennsylvania university expert on election law. "It's quite clear that if there was 100% African-American turnout in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida, John Kerry would win this election running away." The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is the most obvious choice here - an influential, well-organised, non-partisan body whose get-out-the-vote activities are extremely likely to end up helping the Democrats.

[includes list of orgs to donate to]
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Old 10-19-04, 11:41 AM
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Originally posted by sfsdfd
Would you hesitate before telling someone in Englang what you thought of Tony Blair?
You mean, someone I had never met, who was about to vote for or against him? Yes, I would hesitate. In fact, I would say nothing at all, because it would be none of my business. If the person was a friend or relative, and we were talking about the election, and I was asked for my opinion, then I would offer it. Otherwise, I would shut up (as these people should have).
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Old 10-19-04, 11:44 AM
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The <b>National Association for the Advancement of Colored People</b> is the most obvious choice here - an influential, well-organised, <b>non-partisan</b> body whose get-out-the-vote activities are extremely likely to end up helping the Democrats.
What I really love is they essentially admit it's a joke by stating it'll most likely help the Dems.
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Old 10-19-04, 11:51 AM
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Originally posted by RoboDad
You mean, someone I had never met, who was about to vote for or against him? Yes, I would hesitate.
But your hesitance has nothing to do with whether the election is in your country or his. It stems from the fact that broaching the topic of politics with complete strangers is generally a bad idea. But if you decided to do it, whether or not the election was in your country probably wouldn't affect your decision.

There's nothing inherently inappropriate about expressing a viewpoint about a foreign politician. Consider how freely many express their views of Jacques Chirac and Yassir Arafat.

- David Stein
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Old 10-19-04, 11:52 AM
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Originally posted by Nazgul
Would it be appropriate if the NY Times organized a similar campaign to have it's readers send letters to English voters about why they need to vote out Blair?
Not appropriate, but not inappropriate, either. Just a pointless exercise.

- David Stein
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Old 10-19-04, 11:55 AM
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So, do you know some Palestinian voters I can write to saying Arafat is an asshat?

I think the idea of a foreign paper driving a concerted effort to organize an attempt to tamper with our election process is more offensive than individuals writing to strangers to do so (although I think that is offensive too).

However, as a Bush supporter, I quietly encourage it while publically bitching about it. I believe it will backfire.
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Old 10-19-04, 12:01 PM
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Originally posted by sfsdfd
There's nothing inherently inappropriate about expressing a viewpoint about a foreign politician. Consider how freely many express their views of Jacques Chirac and Yassir Arafat.
True, but there is something inherently inappropriate about expressing a viewpoint to a total stranger in a foreign country in a direct attempt to influence the outcome of an election in that country.
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