Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Comments Worth Commenting Upon

by Kyle Michaelis
There's plenty of stuff to write about this week, but a pair of comments posted by readers has forced me to reflect (yet again) on my purposes for the New Nebraska Network and its approach to Nebraska politics.

For starters, I was very appreciative of the following anonymous response to coverage of the highly-charged political dynamic between Pete Ricketts and his sister Laura as regards equal rights for gay citizens and whether or not the U.S. Constitution should be used as a means to discriminate against them.

Anonymous writes:
I too had hoped that [Laura] would help to usher in a public discussion on this charged issue. Perhaps those of us who hope for people like Laura to stand up should reconsider her circumstances. Should she make her personal relationships with her family public so that the media could pick them apart? Should she use her brother’s campaign efforts to advance her cause? What would it really accomplish—genuine dialogue or more polarization? Should Pete lose, is there a risk of being blamed for her brother’s loss?

I believe that if Laura would reply to the media’s appeals to contribute to the debate, she would find herself alienated from her family, used, devoured and discarded by the media....ruin[ing] any opportunity to influence her brother’s apparent polar views on gay civil rights....

Before we judge Laura for not taking this supposed disagreement with her brother to the media, we should keep in mind the high price she would pay, and respect the integrity that she displays by walking her own path in her fight for civil rights.

While the above does not criticize NNN's own handling of this situation, I take very seriously the concerns it raises about Laura Ricketts being exploited by the media. Hers is not an enviable position, and I'll be the first to admit how difficult it is to measure her right to privacy against the public good. As a partisan site that no less strives for fairness, it's been hard to accurately gauge my own motivations in focusing on this issue, hoping that I'm not partaking in the same manipulation of the GLBT community and their struggle for equality for which I've accused Pete Ricketts on the campaign trail.

Whereas bringing attention to the fact that Ricketts has a lesbian sister could hurt his campaign with certain voters - particularly since she's an activist lesbian at the forefront of the GLBT community's legal efforts to achieve equal rights and recognition of same-sex relationships both in Nebraska and across the nation - it's not easy to divorce the principle demanding the story's reporting from its potential political consequences, which may unitentionally turn some people's bias to the advantage of incumbent Sen. Ben Nelson.

Since I support Nelson's reelection effort, I can't help worrying that each time I write about this subject it might - on some level - be an act of exploitation. Pete Ricketts has treated his sister as a political liability. His sister's silence - so contrary to her works and her lifestyle in Illinois - is all but an acknowledement that she thinks of herself in the same terms.

Although I can't vouch for the whole media, I can make personal assurances that my own discussion of this situation has been rooted in its undeniable relevance to the progress of Nebraska and the thinking of its people, not the short-term impact on any candidate in the November election. I have not sought to use or devour. Readers may take my word in this matter for what they will.

Meanwhile, another comment responding to a post last week puts into perspective the very fears I've just expressed of what this site is or may become if one is not eternally vigilant in guarding its supposed purpose.

Bama_barron writes:
i have been reading your blog for sometime now so i am going to take this opportunity to make a couple comments. first, why the hell are you so nice to the crooks of the republicon party ... would they be nice to you ... moderation in the face of republicon nastiness wont feed the bulldog ... hit back hard. ... i think during the election process if would be better to worry less about policy then electoral concerns ... you seem to focus alot on policy ... enjoy this time of the political cycle ... beat up on the republicons with anything that is handy even if you have to invent it. ...

as a resident of a blue state ... i feel your pain ... but dont forget pain can be optional ... create some of your own.

I don't mean to put myself or this site on a pedestal, somehow above the approach called for by our new friend bama_barron. However, I must be upfront with the fact that I have no intention or desire to engage in the approach for which he advocates. Such a site would probably be more useful in building a progressive online community. It would certainly be less boring. But, I am not the person to run it and have no aspirations to be so. In fact, the very idea that I might be beating up on Republicans "with anything that is handy" (for example, Pete Ricketts' sister) is so unsettling and in such violation of the principles to which I claim to adhere that I would rather give up this entire venture and perhaps even my political involvement in general than go any further down that road.

I am not a good "blogger." I accepted that fact long ago. If Nebraska had a better progressive alternative, I would gladly give this up and devote myself to other pursuits. Until such a voice emerges, though....or, at least until I or my readers can no longer tolerate this site's self-important delusions of noble intent...I'll just keep doing what I do.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you support Sen. Nelson as you say you do, maybe you should heed the senators words. "It never bothers me if it (the intrusion) is about me, but it bothers me
if it is about another family member," Nelson said. "I'm fair game, but
they aren't." (OWH 10/6/96)

Blogger Kyle Michaelis said...

If I thought Ms. Ricketts were being "targeted" for her sexual orientation and dragged out of obscurity, you'd be absolutely correct. However, she is a leader in the struggle for GLBT equality. To deny her existence and her opinions when she is front and center in this national debate would be the true insult.

That said, assuming Ms. Ricketts is not planning on sharing her feelings in this matter, I have no intention of harping on my disappointment and the lost opportunity for Nebraska's voters.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If we are going to bring up family issues that deal with struggles in America maybe we should discuss Sen. Nelson's first wife. A report in the Lincoln Journal Star on Sept. 5th lists suicide as the number one injury death among individuals between the ages of 25 and 64. Suicide may not be as hot a topic as homosexual marriage, but it is a real problem facing Nebraska. Sen. Nelson's first wife died at the age of 34 as a result of two self-inflicted gunshot wounds (Omaha World Herald, Oct. 6, 1996). If you are going to attack Pete Ricketts for not working to solve a problem that hits close to home shouldn't you do the same with Ben Nelson.

Anonymous to Anonymous said...

That's so out of line that I can't believe you would go there. To even suggest that exploiting a private family tragedy is ok under any circumstances, let alone a political campaign, is disgusting. You should be ashamed of yourself for even bringing it up.

Blogger Kyle Michaelis said...

Wow, there's "the dirt on Nelson's family" that Daily Bulldog promised to dig up. Congratulations Nebraska Republicans, you've reached a new low.

Laura Ricketts is a politically active community leader able to speak for herself, whether she chooses to or not. This anonymous poster has reached back decades, dredging up the most painful experience a family can go through. If that's the Republican idea of "what's good for the goose, is good for the gander" - when the Nelson campaign has not said a damn thing about Pete Ricketts or his sister - then I am truly horrified and saddened that my reporting and that of the Omaha World-Herald could have invited such a depraved response.

Anonymous nepolwatcher said...

Kyle - this goes right in line with the natinal GOP. Anybody read this in the Washington Post:

In a Pivotal Year, GOP Plans to Get Personal
Millions to Go to Digging Up Dirt on Democrats


I guess Pete's already become the lapdog Ben said he would be in Washington.

Anonymous you are disgusting.

Blogger Daily Bulldog said...

You people are absolutely, positively hyprocritical.

Mike Moore's "version" of 09/11 is OK, but ABC's is not because it makes Bill "I did not have an affair with that woman" Clinton look bad.

Richard Armitage's outing of Plame is OK, but Rove's alledged outing isn't.

I have personally lost more than one friend to suicide, and I know for certain this effects a large swath of the population.

The guy from "America's Most Wanted" has a son who was murdered, so his crusade to bring lost children and murderers to light is a negative turned into a positive. What about the woman who started MADD?

These are people with character, survivors who make the world a better place because of their own anguish.

What does Nelson do?

Dig dirt on people's taxes and sexual orientation, "business dealings", which by the way Nelson's business dealings are worse than PR's, which is old news but will hit the airwaves soon I am sure.

Bottom line is you people, like Kylie and the rest of you worthless mounds, are just blind, angry partisans.

Time to realize the truth, folks. Deal with it.

Anonymous not that anonymous said...

Daily Bulldog,

from all your posts here and from this post, i can only assume you are just a mean person. a family tragedy is private and you are symptomatic of the poison in today's republican party. you should be ashamed of yourself too.

Blogger Daily Bulldog said...

Yes, suicides are tragic, dumbass, but I have not heard Nelson's loss raised as an issue in a campaign and strongly doubt it ever will.

However, I illustrated the point of how others have turned losses into gains for the greater good, whereas Nelson has not.

I don't think a family tragedy should be made a campaign issue, as I also think, and have posted several times, that a sibling's sexual orientation shouldn't either.

Get it?

Or is the Ricketts family so dislikable as wealthy folks that you can't stand it? Or do you feel so self-righteous that you have to carry the flag for the gay community that you don't care who you drag into the mud??

Now anyone running against Ted Kennedy could raise the issue of how he got drunk and murdered someone with his car, and the fact that his son almost did, too, but since they are Dems we should turn a blind eye until a Bush does it, right??

Anonymous Anonymous said...


What about the conveniently forgotten GOP dustup over the CBS biopic on Reagan? there was great outrage then from the GOP - stunning silence on ABC's movie.

You are repulsive.

And the next time you say Ben Nelson dug up the Ricketts family dirt how about proving it you liar.

And Ricketts made Ameritrade an issue - he just doesn't tell the whole story. Ricketts took others personal tragedies (losing a job) and profited off it.

- OK your turn to insult us again ...

Blogger Daily Bulldog said...


It's obvious you hide your identity because of your stupidity. I'd rather be repulsive than wrong.

A biopic on Reagan versus a series on the events leading up to the worst terrorists strike in U.S. history...that is quite a comparasion.

Anonymous Anonymous said...


How convenient - a double standard for Republicans. When it comes to debunking Republican folklore - networks backoff. When it comes to making stuff up about Democrats - the GOP turns the other cheek.

Please regale us in your splendid intelligence and pray tell: what differences does subject matter make? If one network is attacked for the need for truth about Reagan, why is it not OK to attack another one for truth about Clinton?

Come on Daily Bulldog (which by the way is a psuedonym, isn't it? or did your mamma give you that stupid name?) - insult us again - its been so long...

Blogger Daily Bulldog said...


Yes, you're right....subject matter is irreleveant. Before Bill Clinton goes to meet with Yasir Arafat, his is jamming a cigar in the crotch of a fat, 21-year-old mentally unstable intern.

But that doesn't matter...in 2000, as homocide bomber after homocide bomber slaugthers Israelis, it is more important for Clinton to figure out how to save his legacy after lying on national television and disgracing the office of the President and his *family*.

Not sure what you are trying to accomplish with mentioning my mother and name, but you did accomplish showing off how much of a blind partisan you are.


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