Thursday, April 15, 2010

How To Set-Up a Smear Shot, or What the Liber-Tea Party Shouldn't Have Been About

To the editor,

Less vitriolic than last year’s event, The Patriot’s Voice Liber-Tea party offered few thrills to PE reporters. Speakers spouted platitudes against “Obamacare,” and “out of control” government to a crowd of folks many of whom sat quietly in their hypocrisy—enjoying a beautiful park supported by taxes they don’t want to pay, returning home to health-care benefits they’d deny to others.

There were, however, stories to be told—just not those the PE wants its audience to hear. In her PE-letter (4.8.10), PV-Lysk writes that she “will keep an American flag” just for me—a letter in which she exploits the fact that I am a domestic violence survivor in order to imply that, because the abuser was Mormon, I am biased against Mormons, and that this informs my criticism of the PV’s association with the John Birch Society (Cleon Skousen and Glen Beck are Mormons). The claim is absurd, and we must consider what sort of person it is who’d exploit domestic battery to score political capital. Ms. Lysk cannot refute my claims (letter, 4.6) concerning the PV-mission. I quoted the website directly, and let Lysk speak for herself through her blog posts. All she’s got is character assassination.

This aside, what Ms. Lysk offered me in the park was not the American flag. Rather, it was bait disguised as the flag to score political capital for a picture obviously set-up by the Press Enterprise. Her “offering” was a calculated exploitation of the flag to smear an opponent, an example of the lengths to which the PV—and the Press Enterprise—will go to humiliate their critics. I was taking notes, and saw neither Ms. Lysk nor the photographer. Ms. Lysk claims that “[o]ur knees bumped slightly” (on WHLM, she says she bumped me accidentally with the flag stick). She is lying in both cases. She poked me with the flag-stick—twice—derisively calling me “Miss Wendy.” I said “Don’t touch me,” not yet realizing as I turned to Ms. Lysk—who was giggling as she skeetered away—that a PE photographer just ”happened” to be stationed right there to snap a picture. Friend and witness Jay Nixon asked the photographer whether the picture was set up. She denied it—but it cannot be otherwise. I asked whether I would be interviewed for this incident or the Tea Party generally; the photographer insisted that Mr. Bogdon would be over soon. I waited 2 ½ hours. He never materialized—but ran the story anyways. This is unconscionable. In a phone message response to my call the next morning, he insists that he intended to follow up. He didn’t. Instead, he included false material in a story set-up by the PE whose loaded caption is ”Outspoken liberal.”

Two issues: (1) a monopoly newspaper that colludes with the extreme theocratic right to smear a critic; (2) the extent to which fabricated “events” distract us from the real issues. The applause for “Patrick Henry’s” promotion of secession, June McWilliam’s praise for the racist Minutemen, William Reil’s insistence on the “Biblical Law” of the Constitution, James Bridge’s reference to Obama as a “Communist,” or Debra Smith’s incoherent rant about how, since she had healthcare during a “medical mess,” we ought not reform healthcare to make her access available to others—all of these were missed in favor of setting up a smear-shot—and then telling a story that’s not only a lie but was clearly intended to impugn the patriotism of someone who so obviously loves her country that not even this set-up can silence her.

Wendy Lynne Lee

592 words

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Spring Liber-Tea Party: The Patriot's Voice Latest Venture into the Far-Right

On April 10th, 2010. the Patriot’s Voice will hold their second Liber-Tea party in Bloomsburg Town Park. They have every right to conduct such a gathering, sponsor speakers, and have vendors.

Last year the gathering included a vendor selling Confederate Flags, and while PV “CEOs” Evy Lysk and Robert Runyon denied that they invited the vendor, the vendor knew where to find buying customers.

That was last year. Let’s take a look at what the PV stand for this year:

*In his 3.21 Op-Ed, Runyon waxes nostalgic for the good old days before the civil rights movement, promotes a nationalist theocracy, and insists that education “dumbs down” children.

*The PV-website’s “Special Bulletin” promotes the John Birch Society (The National Center for Constitutional Studies), and one of its fellow travelers Cleon Skousen: “A 1962 FBI memo described Skousen as affiliating with an "extreme right-wing" group which was promoting ‘anticommunism for obvious financial purposes.’ Skousen authored a pamphlet titled The Communist Attack on the John Birch Society, characterizing criticism of the Society as incipient communism” (Wikipedia).

As is well-documented, the JBS is simply a better-dressed version of the Klu Klux Klan. No wonder the Confederate Flag Vendor felt at home last year.

*The website calls Obama the “post-American president.” In a section of “Obama-Nation” titled “The coming battle,” they claim that Obama supports the end of marriage/family, and that he seeks to erect a one world government. Democrats are all socialists—and socialists are all evil.

*Evy Lysk calls “comrade Obama” a closet Muslim,” and insists “he appointed Communists, haters of white people, and socialist czars.” She claims his plan is to “delete” our nuclear arsenal, erect a “one world government,” “rid us” of patriotism and religion, and that he “hates America.” So sure is Lysk of her view she repeats it on and Last year she sported a placard promoting Glenn Beck—who recently hosted the JBS Sam Antonio on his FOX program. Beck promotes Skousen’s nationalistic screed, The 5000 Year Leap: “Skousen was too extreme even for the conservative activists of the Goldwater era, but Glenn Beck has now rescued him from the remainder pile of history, and introduced him to a receptive new audience” (

*Last year’s Tea Party included speakers who called for the expulsion of gays from the country and claimed that the scourge of the nation were women who’d had abortions.

People applauded the death of Michael Jackson.

The Press Enterprise characterized the gathering as a peaceful assembly of anti-tax advocates.

What the Patriot’s Voice stands for is a matter of public record; it’s neither political conservatism nor libertarianism. The vast majority of Republicans don’t want to be associated with the patent racism, homophobia, fear-mongering and character assassination the PV deploys against its critics.

Here’s the question: Are these the views their speakers wish to be associated with? Or did Sam Rohrer, Peg Luksik, Lou Barletta, and Bloomsburg University’s Young Americans for Liberty, among others, not do their homework? The latter’s inexcusable—the PV mission is wholly accessible.

The Patriot’s Voice is no more the voice of conservatives than of liberals.

It IS the voice of xenophobic nationalism, racism, and a vision of Christianity closer to that of the Hutaree Militia than to any Christianity worthy of the name.

It’s supremely ironic that they plan to utilize a public space supported by tax dollars—to argue for the end of taxation—and their first amendment rights—to argue for the repression of liberty for all those who don’t fit their narrow vision of a patriot—or even a citizen.

Wendy Lynne Lee

594 words