Wednesday, July 26, 2006

No Going Back

by Kyle Michaelis
Since I can't undo what's been done or erase what's been's how this incident began. Apologies for the confusion that has resulted, as well as my lack of writerly conviction. Hopefully, we can now move on to more important things.

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The Secret About Pete Ricketts' Sister (originally published 7/24/06, with minor alteration for clarity's sake)

I feel pretty damn slimy even writing about a political candidate's family. It's beneath my dignity and beneath the purposes I imagine for this site. But, as a writer, sometimes you don't choose the issues - particularly dealing with news that readers and the voting public are likely to find important, even if they shouldn't. Alas, it's not up to a reporter (or whatever the hell I am) to make those sorts of decisions.

What is the secret about Pete Ricketts' sister? Why is it relevant to his challenge against Sen. Ben Nelson? One reason and one reason alone: all the damn hypocrisy.

For months, we have listened to Ricketts' cookie-cutter, pre-manufactured message of so-called "Conservative change and Nebraska values," showing no respect at all for the diversity of thought and lifestyle existing within our own communities and, yes, within our own families.

But, what does it say about Ricketts - what does it say about his values - that he would exploit the hardship of a minority for political gain? What does it say that he would betray his own sister - who's a member of that minority - for such cynical purposes?

Doesn't Ricketts believe that family is one of those "Nebraska values" he talks so much about? Doesn't Ricketts believe one has a duty to love and support family rather than offering a message of intolerance that would see your own sister made a second-class citizen?

Because, make no mistake about it, that's exactly the divisive politics Ricketts has been practicing. In his homogenized vision of Nebraska, there doesn't seem to be room for anyone who's different. People like that are all expected to move elsewhere to find acceptance, as his sister has - hidden from view so big brother can hoot and holler with unthinking conservative war cries to which she might prove an embarrassing reminder of how low his campaign has sunk.

That's probably what's saddest about this situation - up to now, Ricketts has decided it better not to talk about his sister. Rather than speaking of her with love and acceptance, he seems to have considered her a liability whose name and status hopefully wouldn't come up during the campaign. For a man who's otherwise used his family - particularly his mother - as a key component of a multi-million dollar TV ad campaign, that seems like a very telling choice as to his ultimate character.

If there was a real question of respecting the privacy of Ricketts' sister, that would be one thing. But, from the looks of it, she's not the one ashamed of who she is. In fact, a simple Google search reveals that she's pretty damn open about it, making Ricketts' decision to avoid the issue stupid on top of its being self-serving and insulting.

Yes, you guessed it. Pete Ricketts' sister - Laura Ricketts - is a lawyer. The L Word. The second oldest profession. At endless campaign stops, even in his advertisements, Pete has bragged that he's not a lawyer, preying on voters' biases and denigrating an entire class of people as if they were unfit for public service. Now, it's been revealed he was even disrespecting a member of his own family.

Holding a bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago (Pete's alma mater, as well) and a law degree from the University of Michigan, it's unclear whether Laura Ricketts is currently practicing or whether she has a partner, but the website of Ecotravel, a company she started with a different Ricketts brother, makes quite plain that she "practiced corporate law in Chicago."

And, not only has Ricketts practiced - she seems to be quite prominent in the Chicago legal community, even serving on the Board of Directors of a nationally known and widely-respected civil rights organization. She's also proven quite willing to put her money where her mouth is, supporting organizations in Illinois that would no doubt disapprove and wage war against her brother's message of soft bigotry here in Nebraska.

To think, Laura Ricketts has contributed more than $4,000 to her brother's campaign, only to see herself and the community of which she is a part insulted and demeaned in service to political soundbytes. Having donated money to Sen. John Kerry and the Democratic Party in 2004, it's sort of ironic that two years later she's helped fund her brother's advertisements holding Kerry out as one of those evil Democrats who might take-over with a pinko agenda if Ben Nelson isn't defeated this November.

After all, when Pete Ricketts talks about liberal, activist courts - when he talks about rewriting the U.S. Constitution to defend marriage from imagined assaults by armies of lawyers - he's not speaking in a theoretical vacuum. What he says affects real people and contributes to a true climate of intolerance, exploiting one group's fears and another's aspirations for cheap political gain.

I think it's time Laura Ricketts get back in the company of those who will actually accept her and defend her rights to be who she is - as a human being, the way God made her. Black or white. Lawyer or not.

We are all family. If her brother doesn't respect that, that's his loss. Nebraska values, indeed.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're an idiot.

Blogger Daily Bulldog said...

Bag on someone's profession or sexual orientation all you is a nice plate of hypocrisy on taxes, an issue directly affecting pocketbooks:

Rubin ASSURED us...

Maybe Rubin thought Ben still lives in his small house in McCook

"The crime here is that he paid $1.2 million for his home and then turned around and claimed it was worth only half. I can assure you, 24,000 other people in Nebraska are not doing the same," said Barry Rubin, executive director of the Nebraska Democratic Party (County Board denies Ricketts' property valuation protest – OWH - 7/21/06).
Well Barry, maybe 24,000 didn’t, but one sure did.

Ben Nelson paid $340,000 for his Regency mansion in 1984 and then turned around and claimed it was worth only $220,000, 65% of the price he paid, in 1985.

Someone check to see if Ben Nelson’s Maryland attack dog, Barry Rubin, is foaming at the mouth.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

youre not the real anonymous, i am. quit hiding behind my name.

Blogger Kyle Michaelis said...

Bulldog (and SS)-

If this story is substantiated, it certainly makes the Nebraska Democratic Party's already-suspect advertising about Ricketts' property taxes downright idiotic. Somone from the Nebraska GOP has done their research, as the NDP should have damn well known they would.

Live by the sword. Lose elections by the sword (or come unnecessarily close).

Blogger Daily Bulldog said...

The tax issue looks like a simple act of not doing the homework, and outing PR's sister won't accomplishing anything.

As I keep saying, the negative stuff just turns people off. I know both parties are guilty, but it needs to stop.

All this is doing is turning voters off and driving people either to change to Indepedent or just shun the process altogether.

That is sad.

Blogger Kyle Michaelis said...

The negativity in politics is certainly destructive, but it's not confined to personal attacks between candidates. What is more negative than making scapegoats of an entire class of people for all society's ills ?

Bulldog says this post "won't accomplish anything." I hope he's wrong. It's intended to open peoples' eyes and make them think. That is the beginning and the end of my personal agenda.

Blogger Daily Bulldog said...

So you admit to "outing" an innocent for your own personal gain/agenda?? You are a sorry loser.

May God have mercy on you, because we won't.

Blogger Kyle Michaelis said...

I generally think I take the New Nebraska Network and my writing way too seriously, but you, Bulldog, take the cake. This last comment suggests you are totally unhinged and need a serious dose of reality.

Trust me, I don't want your mercy. I want Laura Ricketts to have the same rights that I have. Everything I've seen of her online suggests she's a great person - who uses her financial resources to help make this country a better place, more reflective of its supposed principles.

If anything I wrote hurt that young woman, I am sorry and ashamed. But, your petty and overblown insults - which show no concern for the underlying issues - say more about you than they do about me.

Blogger Unknown said...

What's insulting is that some people assume that simply pointing out the fact that someone is gay is, in fact, "outing" them. In the 2004 campaign, this accusation was levelled at John Kerry - "outing" the very-much openly gay Mary Cheney. Kyle's post here presents the irony and hypocrisy in that - Laura Ricketts is a lawyer.

Kyle didn't "out" anyone. The implication that her sexual orientation - or her profession - is something to be ashamed of, is something that is coming from your side of the political aisle. The satirical nature of this post was obviously lost on quite a few people, and struck the wrong note with a lot of people.

Kyle didn't say a single bad word about Laura Ricketts in the entire post. All the outrage is over the imagined "outing" of someone. The attack was against Pete Ricketts. But since Ben Nelson isn't a big fan of "lawyers," either, maybe it's not so fair to single Ricketts out.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Daily Bulldog,
Can't you understand anything? Kyle's agenda is to "open people's eyes and make them think", certainly NOT to OUT somebody who is already OUT. Your name calling and threats are uncalled for. Try to stick to the issues.

Blogger Kyle Michaelis said...


I agree that it was somewhat unfair not to point out that Nelson is little better than Pete Ricketts on the relevant issues. Indeed, I would have done so (even attempted to do so in "first draft") - but the confusion resulting from the fact that Nelson is, himself, a lawyer - absent the metaphorical context on which I relied - made his involvement far too complex. I even looked into Nelson's positions on tort reform to see if I might be able to pull it all together. No dice.

First draft also made a knowing reference to the John Edwards/Mary Cheney incident, but I decided I was being too cute with that one. As you can tell, it's sometimes hard to gauge these sorts of things.

Blogger neal said...

Wow, this seems like a lot of fuss over nothing. I was expecting this original post to be much worse (maybe involving the Bushles?) ...

This reaction seems less related to the post and more of a desperate opportunity to lob insults and accusations at the host and/or all Democrats. This site has made very clear the potential problems unleashed when attacking Ricketts' home valuation...why bring that up here when it's clearly not relevant to the issue or its author?

This post didn't out anyone, as Dave pointed out. This isn't dragging family in to try to smear the politician in the way that Minnesota critics brought up Jesse Ventura's son's constant lawlessness as a way to bring him down. This is taking known information and presenting it in a way to point out the conflict within the home.

There was no one "outing" anyone for anyone's personal agenda, and to continue this critical charade as if it were such a thing is shamelessly similar in its shallow, political nature.

You're right, Bulldog - negativity is bad. And that includes the type of negativity that says society is crumbling because The Gays want to destroy your marriage and your family.

Blogger Daily Bulldog said...

Gays are trying to destroy my family?? And "my marriage"?? That is news to me.

Yes, Rickett's sister was "outed" to me and anyone else who did not know (or care for that matter) what her sexual orientation is. She is not a public citizen. And even if she were an elected official, you seem to think we should know her sexual orientation.

Why is that information necessary?

It was only used, in this case, to try and "throw mud" on a Senate candidate.

You are sticking up for gays by trying to embarrass them??

Did you ask her if it was OK to make this information public to those who didn't know? If so, what was her response?

Hey Kylie, refer to my previous quote and pray that your family is completely normal and your past wrongdoings are completely covered.

You have been warned.

Blogger Kyle Michaelis said...


I couldn't be less scared by your silly attempts at intimidation. If I had any personal political aspirations, I would have shut-up and cowered at threats such as yours long ago. Lucky for me, I have no such aspirations and will, thus, continue to speak the truth as best I am able.

You've gone out of your way to prove your only interest is in picking fights. I have no intention of obliging you further.

But, please, feel free to investigate whatever you like. In fact, I'll leave something special for you in my trash cans out back - since that seems to be the level at which you engage.

Kylie? Seriously? I mean, wow...

Blogger Daily Bulldog said...

It doesn't matter that you do not have political aspirations. You dragged an innocent into the "fight" against two political candidates.

So, you are now open to the same scrutiny. If you are not man enough to handle it, that is too brought it upon youself. How did that old Nelson ad go..."what is good for the goose is good for the gander"? In this case, what is good for the gander (PR's sis) is good for the gander (you).

I don't see how you can even feel comfortable using a male name when you did something as girl-ish and gutless as attacking an innocent.

And try your ever-so-hardest to answer these questions:

Why is knowledge of her sexual orientation necessary?

Do you stick up for gays by trying to embarrass them??

Did you ask PR's sis if it was OK to make this information public to those who didn't know? If so, what was her response?

Blogger Unknown said...

Bulldog still doesn't get it. Her sexual orientation is a fact about her that is as public as her profession. You are the only one here who believes that it is something that she should be ashamed of.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What am I missing here? I thought Kyle "outed" Pete's sister for being a {L}swyer. Written in a snarky kind of way, but nothing to flagellate one's self about. I thought it was funny, but then I am told I have a sense of humor.

Kyle, is it time for a Flame rating to be installed? Bulldog is really a troll under a bridge.

Blogger Daily Bulldog said...


You are as slow as you are irrelevant.

Her sexual orientation is as public as her profession? Um, any attorney should have sexual preference listed on his or her business card and Yellow Pages listing? That makes sense.

Yeah, and let's make public a person's social security number, date of birth, and other, what you said was so stupid that you made Kylie look like she has half a brain.

You should change your name to Lloyd or Harry.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don or is it Donna? When has being gutless been the equivalent of being girlish? When your mother puts on a "girlish" dress do you call her gutless?

You can look up all kinds of great stuff on the internet...did you know Laura gave $250 to John Kerry in 2004 as well as the DNC? If you don't want stuff to be brought up in public don't splash it all over the internet.

I'm guessing Laura's response to Bulldog's comments about her being "outed" would sound something like this..."I'm already out you idiot!" Again all you have to do is check the internet to see that she is open and "out" and seems pretty proud of who she is.

Way to go NDP for not covering your own butts and doing some basic homework before you put out that ad!

Blogger Daily Bulldog said...

But that is just it, dumbass...I don't, nor do other normal people, check the Internet for candidates's sibling's sexual preferences. I don't care, and niether to most people.

Why is this so difficult for you to understand?

No, girl does not equal gutless, because there are many females I know that would kick your sorry ass, shoot you, and chew Skoal and spit the juice in your face without getting sick.

If you're so bold, why are you hiding behind an "anon"??


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