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This Week in Schadenfreude: You Know I'm No Good

There was a story yesterday about how the Democracy Alliance, which is a group of movers and shakers who support the Democratic Party, is working behind the scenes to get the word out that the group No Labels is basically an avatar for Trump 2024. There might be some people involved in No Labels who really believe in a third way, but the fat-cat donors who are paying the bills, like Clarence Thomas' billionaire "friend," Harlan Crow, are trying to transform useful votes for Joe Biden into wasted votes for [INSERT NAME OF PENDING NO LABELS CANDIDATE].

In response to this, one of the officers of No Labels, Ryan Clancy, spoke to Politico to do some whining: "It's hard to find a more striking example of Washington hypocrisy than a group calling itself 'Democracy Alliance' mobilizing to stop No Labels from getting on voting ballots in 2024," he complained. "Most Americans have this quaint idea that democracy means the people decide who they can vote for. Democracy Alliance apparently has a different definition, where a few people meeting in D.C. get to manage Americans' electoral choices for them."

We have never heard of Mr. Clancy, but we suspect he's clever enough to know that what he's peddling is a steaming pile of garbage. It is entirely appropriate, in a healthy democracy, for partisans of various stripes to move and counter-move in the months (and, these days, years) before an election, in hopes of boosting their own candidates' hopes and weakening those of their opponents. Indeed, No Labels itself has spent plenty of time talking about how the two major parties are hopelessly corrupt, plutocratic, etc. That's no different from one of the major parties talking about how No Labels is a de facto organ of Trump 2024. In short, we propose that Ryan Clancy and former Senator Bob Corker get together for an intimate little pity party and leave the rest of us out of it.

And that brings us to the actual point of this item. Politicking, both in front of and behind the scenes? Great! Manufacturing lies in order to smear one's opponents? Not so great! That, in our view, is where a line is crossed from "healthy for a democracy" to "sleazy." If the Democratic Alliance had been manufacturing "evidence" that No Labels is a secret Chinese front, or that three of its officers are convicted sex offenders, or that Ryan Clancy is actually a Nigerian citizen and cannot legally work for an American political organization, then Clancy's complaints might have merit.

The organization that crossed this line so many times as to obliterate it is Project Veritas. If the fellow who founded that organization, James O'Keefe, was honest, he would have called it Project Mendacias.* But O'Keefe is not honest, and so the purpose of Project "Veritas" was always to slur Democrats in sleazy ways. They tried to sabotage the phones of then-Senator Mary Landrieu (LA). They tried to trick Democrats in Colorado into endorsing voter fraud on camera. They clumsily infiltrated The Washington Post and tried to secretly record staffers saying incriminating things on tape. They hired women to go on dates with FBI agents in hopes of getting recordings of the agents badmouthing Donald Trump. They recorded and edited videos that made it appear as if members of activist group ACORN endorsed tax evasion and child prostitution.

Several months back, O'Keefe suffered his personal downfall, and was ejected from the organization for misappropriation of funds and for creating a hostile workplace environment. And, as of yesterday, Project Veritas itself entered its death spiral. All activities have been suspended, and nearly all employees were told their services are no longer required. From a staff of several hundred, there are now just 11 people still collecting paychecks.

Those 11 shouldn't buy a new car or take on a mortgage, because they will likely be in the unemployment line themselves very soon. The problem for the organization is a total lack of funds, and they are not likely to improve their cash flow if they are not doing anything. After all, activists of all stripes expect a return on investment when they donate money. And for right-wing donors these days, they are better off with an organization where the wings haven't fallen off. Like, say, No Labels. (Z)

* - For the purposes of this sentence, written for English-speaking readers, this form of mendacium works best. We have confirmed with a colleague who speaks Latin fluently that, even if it's not optimal, it is not an offense against Latin grammar punishable by death.

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