Saturday, July 19, 2008

The hilarious ineptitude of Nathan Bech's spin machine

About a month ago, I wrote a post about Nathan Bech. He's the Republican looking to do battle with John Olver in the fall. He has honesty issues.

About a week after my post, I started getting comments on it from an apologist for Mr. Bech by the pseudonym of BSM.

Generally when a newly created account starts parroting some candidate's platform a week after the post is made, I start to wonder if perhaps the commenter is somehow affiliated with the campaign and just found me through a Google Alert. So, after a bit of back-and-forth, I ended a followup comment with this:
ps Are you part of Bech's internet team? Like the guy who made his Wikipedia page? Just curious.
Perhaps I should explain that Wikipedia part. That was a case of somebody registering an account, making Bech's page (and nothing else), and then disappearing. Another possible indicator of a campaign operative, natch.

Anyway, my question seemed to largely (though not totally) shut up Mr. BSM, and all I got out of him was this:
BSM said...

Unicow -- the man, the myth, the moonbat economist. He can't understand supply and demand but he sure can sling an insult.

Code Pink is calling.
Lovely. I asked again:
[Y]ou didn't answer my ps. Are you part of Bech's team or not? I'm seriously curious, because it's obvious he has one and it looks like you just registered this account to respond to this post. And if my asking about it makes you disappear then I'm just going to assume you are.
...and got the witty retort:
BSM said...

Did you create this blog just to post your thoughts?

I think you are part of the Unicow internet team! All one of you.
Oh snap!

That was the last I heard from the enigmatic "BSM." He never exactly denied being employed by Bech, nor did he admit to it. Alas, we may never know the truth!

That's the backstory. Now we get to the fun stuff.

Bech's campaign recently sent out an email mentioning this Boston Phoenix article in which the writer awarded them the "Crappy Spin of the Day Award" for a totally absurd reinterpretation of something Olver said (as I've mentioned, Bech has honesty problems).

This alone is pretty hilarious, because they actually linked to the article talking about their dishonesty, though they did try to spin it again in the email:

Oh my. That's an even worse spin than the one they got the award for! They gave everyone an easy way to go see just how dishonest Bech is and then backed it up with a totally lame "it's good we got this becuz libruls r bad!" claim. And at the same time, it comes off as desperate for attention! Well done, sirs!

Also, in what way is his "opponent" fighting back? It was an article (technically a blog post) in the Phoenix. Olver had nothing to do with it. Even Reilly wasn't "fighting back," he was making fun of how pathetic Bech's press release was. Is Bech just going to redefine words to suit his purposes? It looks that way.

Thanks to Mr. Bech's email, I went and read the Phoenix article. Thanks Nathan! I wouldn't have noticed that otherwise.

Nor would I have noticed the comments on it. Particularly the two by a "Brian S. Murphy."

Hmm... why does that seem so familiar? The apologetics for Bech, the sense of intellectual superiority that can only come from having studied economics at the prestigious "Western New England College," the ineffecutual sarcasm, the tendency to ignore the issue at hand? The initials?

Could it be my friend BSM? [Update: Probably not. See bottom of post.]

Honestly, there's no way to know for sure. It could be Buffy St. Marie. Or the Bloated Spaghetti Monster. It's a mystery!

But here's something we do know. Nathan Bech's FEC filings are online. They're pretty hilarious in themselves, since they show that of $70,410.95 in itemized receipts for campaign donations, $58,860.95 (that's 83.5%) came from Bech making loans to himself. This is clearly a grassroots campaign!

But who cares about itemized receipts? Far more interesting is the list of disbursements.

Who's that we see halfway down the page next to a payment to "Staff"?

Surprise! It's someone by the name of Brian Murphy!

Of course, it's certainly possible that these are different Brian Murphys, right? And BSM could be anyone. But I don't think it's being overly presumptuous to assume that all these Brian Murphys with a great love for the otherwise-not-very-popular Nathan Bech are most likely the same person. [Update: Or maybe it was. Well, two out of three isn't too bad!]

It's perfectly fine if Mr. Murphy wants to comment on blogs and defend his overlord. That's his right.

However, by not disclosing that he works for Nathan Bech he's being inherently dishonest in his postings. There's a reason that respected journalists (and even pain-in-the-ass bloggers) talk about "full disclosure." It appears another commenter on the Phoenix article is probably also affiliated with Bech (though I didn't spot him in the FEC filings), but he at least links to the Bech website in his name. That's semi-disclosure, anyway.

See, if you don't disclose these things up front then people just assume you're just a normal guy with an opinion, not an interested party. Which means you won't get the kind of scrutiny you'd get if people knew you're actually part of the campaign staff. It's basically a more subtle form of sockpuppetry.

And the ducking of a direct question (assuming BSM and Brian S. Murphy are the same person) only makes matters worse. It was an easy opportunity to tell the truth, and the only response was an attempt to change the subject by lamely attacking me. One can only assume that if they're the same person, then BSM certainly didn't want people to know that he's on Bech's staff.

You know Bech's honesty problems? They apparently extend to his staff as well.

Try not to be too shocked.


Update 7/20/08:

This morning I received an interesting email from Mr. Murphy. He informs me that he has not posted here, which I will take him at his word on. He also says he didn't make the Wikipedia page, which I hadn't meant to imply was him anyway, but there you have it. Brian S. Murphy is apparently not BSM.

What makes that interesting is that he claims that he does know who "BSM" is and who made the Wikipedia page (different people). We're going to discuss this when I can get in touch with him, so prepare for intrigue!

Also, I'm apparently Bech's "harshest critic, bar none." Which is sort of neat. I think that just means I'm unusually harsh, but the recognition is nice!

There was more to the email, which maybe I'll talk about later. I will say that Mr. Murphy came across reasonably well in his email and not as the sort of person who'd say "Code Pink is calling." (Though it's hard to know from one email.)

Finally, while the BSM/Brian Murphy connection may not exist, I do stand by the bulk of this post regarding the importance of full disclosure (it just applies to the Phoenix blog instead of mine now). I also still think that the Bech campaign continues to put out incredibly dishonest press releases, and that the spin machine is missing a few cogs. But maybe Mr. Murphy will wow me with something later. Stay tuned!