Tuesday, June 5, 2012

If You Believe People from Michigan were Bused into Wisconsin to Vote Today, then You really have to Meet this Nigerian Prince I Know

One can count on a few certainties just about every Election Day in Wisconsin. Polls will open at 8:00 AM and by around 10:00 AM we're all sure to get our first "eyewitness reports" of voter fraud on right wing radio. Today did not disappoint, but the example that we got was so ridiculously inept that even on it's surface the story was nearly impossible to take credibly. Naturally, it bounced around the right side of Twitter with a vengeance and looks like it will be taken as inerrant gospel for the foreseeable future.

Before we look at the transcript, here's some context. The radio station is WMAL out of the Washington, DC media market. The caller's name is "Mike," no last name given, and he claimed to be calling from a bus making its way to someplace in Wisconsin--he couldn't say where, specifically-- from just outside Detroit.

Here's the transcript:

CHRIS PLANTE, RADIO HOST:Lets go to Mike... Mike. You're on the Chris Plante Show
CALLER MIKE:Hey how ya doin' Chris.
Hey I'm good.
CALLER MIKE:I'm trying to be quiet... I'm actually on a bus. I'm from Michigan and I'm actually on a bus. Three other buses following us and we're on our way to Wisconsin. I'm not even a registered Democrat.
PLANTE:...and what are you doin'? What are you going there for?
CALLER MIKE:I'm gonna vote for Scott Walker...
Stop right here. The first substantive thing out of this guy's mouth is him announcing his intent to commit voter fraud. Right away any credibility this guy may have is gone, but instead of making this clear the host let's him continue on his merry way.
PLANTE:You're going to Michigan? You're going to Wisconsin from Michigan?
CALLER MIKE:No, we're going to Wisconsin. We're from Michigan.
CALLER MIKE:It's four buses total.
PLANTE:..uh huh..
CALLER MIKE:We're going to Wisconsin. We're from Michigan. Right outside Detroit and... they got four buses up here, Chris. I dont know if they got other buses coming from other directions but it's four buses and we're going to Wisconsin to vote.
PLANTE:..and you're going to Wisconsin to vote for? For Scott Walker?
CALLER MIKE:..I'm voting for Scott Walker. I know most these people arent.but I'm actually...
PLANTE:Now, wait a minute, now wait just a minute. You're going, you're on a bus. in a convoy of four buses. You left the Detroit area. The convoy of four buses is headed to Wisconsin to vote. Now who organized this little foray?
Notice how the host only gets upset once "Mike" notes that he's reporting from enemy territory. Very subtle. Plante says nothing when the dude announces his little day trip to commit a felony, but the moment he hears he's doing it with a band of non-Walker voters then the host gets uppity.
CALLER MIKE:Chris, I'm not even sure. 
Huh? Not sure? The guy just got on a bus not knowing who was chartering it. Really, who in his right mind does something like that?

CALLER MIKE (continued):I just heard about it and I jumped on the bus. I'm talking low key cause' I guarantee that if these people knew my intentions..man I'd be killed.

So "Mike" is not only ignorant about the shady origins of this Phantom Caravan of Voter Fraud, but he recognizes he's life is in "mortal peril" and so what does he do? He calls a talk radio host hundreds of miles away and risks exposing his ruse. Again, even if this all were true "Mike" would have to qualify as one of the dumbest people alive.
PLANTE:You're on a bus full of people going from Michigan to Wisconsin and you believe that most of the people on the bus..other than yourself..you believe that ALL of the people other than yourself are going there to vote for Tom Barrett
Lets look at the logistics here. Detroit is a 6 hour drive from Kenosha County. In a caravan of buses, that's going to be another hour for stops and general slowness, minimum. That's at least 7 hours. Then there's traffic in Chicago which can add anywhere from 1-3 hours worth of congestion. So we're looking at between 8-10 hours in a bus, one way.

That's a long day for anyone, especially for people who are apparently trying to commit voter fraud. Why anyone would go through all this trouble to cast a single vote is absurd. In even the most contentious elections about 40% of voters can't even get to their own polling places. This caravan is patently absurd.

Chances are a radio host in the Midwest would know just how long of a drive it is between Detroit and Wisconsin. One on the east coast? Maybe not so much. This might explain why "Mike" is calling DC and his local jock in Motown.
CALLER MIKE:Most of them are Democrat..it's a Democratic union..its actually a Democratic union organized by Democrats. 
That's odd: unions aren't organized by Democrats. They certainly support them, but they aren't organized by them.

CALLER MIKE (continued):But I'm not goin on there to vote for the Democrat. I'm going on there to vote for Scott Walker. 

Another opportunity to point out that this guy is planning on committing the same crime he's accusing his cohorts of trying to commit sail right by the host...

CALLER MIKE (continued):Once I heard about it I- I was thinking, hey..this is an opportunity to sabotage what they always do to Republicans.

You know what another way of "sabotaging what they always do to Republicans" would have been? Calling the authorities.
PLANTE:But you're all alone on this bus whispering into your cell phone
CALLER MIKE:Well I dont know if theres other people with my intentions but I know most of these people..most of these people..their intentions are to go vote for Democrats. I mean I know why people vote for Democrats, man they give out all kinds of free stuff Chris!
PLANTE:Well thats the plan. Now, let me ask you this because this is a very interesting and very curious telephone call. 
No it's not. It's pure bullshit and if this host isn't in on this absurdist sideshow he's either morbidly stupid, lying or, most likely, he thinks his audience is so stupid that they don't know the difference.
PLANTE (continued):How are you listening to the show?
Hey, great question? And isn't it just a phenomenal coincidence that he happened to call while the show was on the air? What luck!
CALLER MIKE:No. I drive tractor trailer. I told you..I drive tractor trailer and I know your number. I'm always in DC, Virginia, Artisan area. I'm always in that area. I deliver out near 27 up there near the Pentagon
PLANTE:Alright and how did you hear about this convoy of buses going to Wisconsin?
CALLER MIKE:Because I live in that area. I live right outside of Detroit
PLANTE:But how did you personally get wind of this convoy?
CALLER MIKE:Lets just say my uncle works for a union out here, at the Chrysler plant.
PLANTE:And is it a United Auto Workers convoy?
CALLER MIKE:I mean their not really..their not really like labeling who they are but it is uh..it is the auto union..it is a union but their not labeling EXACTLY who they are
Huh? When unions do things in groups they almost always are decked out in t-shirts and other gear telling the world what union they're with. It's impossible to miss. Now, since this apparently a pretty sophisticated clandestine operation, maybe the union thugs were savvy enough to go incognito. In which case, finding out which Local was responsible for putting this little field trip together would be of paramount importance. In fact, it would be the linchpin piece of information in this whole affair. All "Mike" would have to say is that Local XYZ is busing people into Wisconsin.

But if he says that people can actually check his story. Also, by not specifically calling out one union, all unions are implicated.
PLANTE:Okay and these four buses, do they have any obvious markings on them? Are they Greyhound buses? Are they marked in some way?
CALLER MIKE:They're just charter buses
PLANTE:They're just charter buses...
Seriously, we're through the fucking looking glass here. Black helicopters have now become unmarked ghost charter buses. How convenient that these mysterious vehicles are little more than black boxes.
CALLER MIKEThey're big, black with gray lines on the side. Charter buses.
PLANTE:Alright, what you're telling me is the Unions in Michigan have organized a bus convoy and you're riding in that bus convoy and they're bringing Michigan residents to Wisconsin in order to vote illegally for Tom Barrett?
Notice how the host repeats the the gist of the conspiracy in the form of a question, confidently synthesizing all of "Mike's" lunatic story in a way that he can disavow promoting the bullshit later. Nicely done.
CALLER MIKE:Well, when the Democrats do it, its not illegal, Chris. They treat me to lunch!
PLANTE:And you get lunch?!
CALLER MIKE:They have alot freebies on this... alot of freebies with this deal. Alot of freebies.
Like what. Repeating "freebies" three times in a row does not make them appear from the ether. What kind of freebies does one get on a voter fraud excursion? I'm dying to know.
PLANTE:And the unions are busing people in from Michigan to vote in Wisconsin and everybody knows that they're there to vote illegally?
Just in case anyone listening in their cars missed what was said abut 10 seconds earlier.
CALLER MIKE:That's the intention. That's exactly the intention. The election
PLANTE:And have they told where you are going? Are you going to Milwaukee? Kenosha? Do you know where are you going?
CALLER MIKE:I'm really not sure, I don't think we're going all the way to Milwaukee, I'm not sure we're going that far in.  But, I could find you what town and call you right back.
And that's the end of it. No last name. No corroborating evidence. No other witnesses. "Mike" couldn't even give rudimentary details of his little day trip.

Just like previous tall tales of elaborate voter fraud conspiracy theories, this too will become accepted fact among conservatives, so here's a suggestion: let's treat this episode like it actually happened. Since he's admitted to planing to commit a felony, there should be no problem getting the radio station's phone records and finding what phone number "Mike" was calling from. I doubt he made any attempt to mask his cell phone. Let's get to the bottom of this. If what "Mike" is saying is true, then there's a serious law being broken and something should be done about it, especially given how little effort will be required to track "Mike" down.

But conservatives don't really want to do that. They've gotten what they needed out of the story: a nice little ghost story to tell around the camp fire. The utter lack of even a basic attempt to verify the story on Plante's part is so embarrassing that it actually makes him look like he's in on the scam. If this is how conservatives get their information, no wonder gold coin companies trip over themselves to hawk their scams at this audience.

Democrats have to stop letting this shit go. Regardless of what happens tomorrow, they'll wake up and forget all about it, and so will Republicans, at least for a little while. But when the next election rolls around, it'll bubble back to the surface.

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