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November 06, 2006

Here's How Nuts It's Getting Out There

I'm receiving robocalls. From Virginia. A state in which I haven't lived for five years. It's times like these that I wish every single political apparatchik in the land would spontaneously combust. Because I would be there. With marshmallows.

Also, at the moment I'm drinking maple syrup. Because that's the sort of day it is.

Posted by john at November 6, 2006 09:29 AM

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Janiece | November 6, 2006 09:43 AM

Man, do I empathize. Once I got a Robo-Call from some "pro-life" group:

Me: "Hello...HELLO?"

Robo: "We're from the morally superior Pro-Life Team and would like to talk to you about the evils of abortion. If you are pro-life, press 1. If you wish to burn in hell, press 2."


Robo: "Thank you for supporting our pro-life platform. We, too, think abortion is akin to murdering full-fledged, contributing members of society..."


I think this is what they meant when they said "Statistics, Damn Statistics, and Lies."

Janiece | November 6, 2006 09:44 AM

Sorry about that - my carrots "disappeared" my entries "2" and "click." Bummer!

Jon Hansen | November 6, 2006 09:52 AM

I stopped noticing robocalls when we turned off the ringers on the phone, and turned down the answering machine. Makes things ever so much more peaceful.

Bearpaw | November 6, 2006 09:57 AM


You think that's nuts. Repub leaders are so desperate to turn this around and avoid long-overdue investigations that in NH and elsewhere, they're making multiple morning robocalls that intentionally sound as if they're from Dems. I mean, you know, that's on top of all their usual shenanigans.

I don't have any illusions that all Dems are squeeky clean, but ye gods, next to the current gen of Repub leaders, Dem behavior looks like a fabric softener ad.

Lis Carey | November 6, 2006 10:17 AM

Bearpaw, it's not only in NH they're pulling that stunt; they're doing it all over the country, in a lot of close races. It's just that, in NH, the state AG has objected to the fact that they're including in the robocalls numbers that are on the Do Not Call list, and NH law says you can't make robocalls to those numbers.

Nance | November 6, 2006 10:24 AM

That trumps me. I got a call for a race in Indiana, where I haven't lived for two years. But it wasn't a robo -- it was a live person, reading from a script, and sounding like those old FedEx commercials. I kept yelling, "CHECK THE DAMN AREA CODE! I LIVE IN MICHIGAN!"

No luck.

It was from the National Republican Congressional Committee, I believe.

Dean | November 6, 2006 10:32 AM

at the moment I'm drinking maple syrup.

Much better than the koolaid some people down there are quaffing by the bathtub-load.

Adam Rakunas | November 6, 2006 10:40 AM

Try this: I've been getting robocalls from Wyoming urging me to support a local candidate for city council (and I live in California).

Hey, New Hampshirites: any advice on how we can get a law like yours to ban political robocalls?

Joe Hass | November 6, 2006 10:42 AM

John: Josh Marshall is following this closely over at his site. You may want to check it out and drop him a line on this.

In a nutshell, the NRCC is robocalling in tight races, but they're doing it in a way that makes it sound as though it's being done by the Democratic party. Only at the very end do you hear that it's from the Republicans. The problem is that extremely few people listen to the end; most think it's the Democratic party that's calling them again and again, and they're getting upset at them.

John H | November 6, 2006 10:43 AM

Yeah, somehow the Kool-Aid isn't working so well these days...

Tripp | November 6, 2006 10:43 AM

If you are not going to vote in Virginia then the robocall (designed to suppress voter turnout) must have worked!

Kurt | November 6, 2006 11:01 AM

Yes in @#$ dammed Deed!!!

Just one of the many perils of being a registered voter.......they get your number and then you get bombarded with these "Robo Calls"

Does anyone sell a device to filter this stuff off your phone?????

Janiece | November 6, 2006 11:06 AM

Joe and John,

Methinks I smell a Rove in the tactic described above...

Dave | November 6, 2006 11:25 AM

Having been through all the "Do Not Call" stuff and privacy management whatsis, it turned out that the only workable way I found to avoid phone spam was to disconnect your land-line and go pure cellular. The legal penalties for spamming cell phones are harsh, and the spammers are good about avoiding them. You're left with the "is this damn thing charged?" hassles, but I've found it a small price to pay.

CoolBlue | November 6, 2006 11:36 AM

Is it Vermont Maple syrup?

Chris S. | November 6, 2006 11:39 AM

Maple syrup, eh? What brand?

Steve Buchheit | November 6, 2006 11:50 AM

I hope it's at least REAL maple syrup. You know they make maple sugar candy to help with that craving. :)

Nathan | November 6, 2006 11:59 AM

So far this morning, I've hung up on David Dinkins, Al Sharpton, Robert DeNiro, Hillary Clinton and someone who didn't identify themselves, but I strongly suspect it was CarrotTop.

I already knew I'd be voting for Jeanine Piro for Attorney General in spite of her train wreck of a personal life and the fact that she may or may not be the target of a federal probe (did she try to have her husband's boat bugged to catch him cheating on her?).

Yesterday, an investigation of Alan Hevasi,(state comptroller) concluded that there's enough evidence to support removing him from office (using state employees to chauffeur his sick wife around to the tune of $170,000), but I still have to vote for him since there doesn't seem to be any evidence that his opponent can count.

Dr. Phil | November 6, 2006 12:05 PM

Drinking maple syrup -- see this is what happens when you handle bacon encrusted cats. Because bacon and maple syrup go together like... uh... like pancakes and maple syrup. Yeah, like that.

Note: Do Not Put Maple Syrup On The Cat! (with or without bacon)

Dr. Phil

(Dept. of Irony: Scalzi is drinking Coke Zero to avoid the sugar and yet is drinking maple syrup today...)

John Scalzi | November 6, 2006 12:10 PM

Steve Buchheit:

"I hope it's at least REAL maple syrup."

From Canada, even! Nonpartisan syrup!


"So far this morning, I've hung up on David Dinkins, Al Sharpton, Robert DeNiro, Hillary Clinton and someone who didn't identify themselves, but I strongly suspect it was CarrotTop."

I think this is my favorite quote of the day.

Anonymous | November 6, 2006 12:15 PM

Lis Carey,

Yeah, I know. The fine folks at TPMmuckraker have a list of 20 different House races where this crap has been happening.

At least some of it (including NH) is of questionable legality, but hey, that's what the current gen of Repub leaders have come to.

Used to be, they'd stoop to stuff that was ethically-questionable, but almost always clearly legal. Then it was stuff that was usually ethically reprehensible, but generally legal via clever use of loopholes. Now it's "Fuck the law. If we win, who's going to call us on it?"

There's been all this worshipful admiration by pundits of Repubs' supposedly awesome GOTV (Get Out The Vote) effort, but I wonder how the results compare to their Suppress The Vote efforts. What does it say about a part leadership when their best shot at maintaining power is doing their best to keep people from voting? When they're much more competent at that than actually leading the country?

Annalee Flower Horne | November 6, 2006 12:32 PM

Kit over at the Free Speech Zone has Info on how to report those calls to the FCC.

Steve Buchheit | November 6, 2006 12:41 PM

Nathan, you hung up on CarrotTop?! I mean he's so, uh, well, yeah I kinda see your point in that.

Chang, at the control of women | November 6, 2006 01:25 PM


If you dig drinking maple syrup, then you'd probably ig Shady Maple Farms Maple Butter. Totally organic - to go with your Coke Zero - and totally tasty. Addictive. If you can't find some in your area, I may be able to hook a brother up.

For a price.

Djscman | November 6, 2006 02:00 PM


Isn't that house you own and rent out in Virginia? Those canvassers must surely reason that landowning men of property must live and vote close to their local churches and country clubs. Especially in Virginia, where it wasn't so long ago that if you didn't keep a close eye on your property, it would wander off. And that would be worth 3/5ths of a vote per head!

Anonymous | November 6, 2006 02:02 PM

Thanks to you guys I love our civil servant run elections all the more.

WizarDru | November 6, 2006 02:20 PM

Scalzi: "From Canada, even! Nonpartisan syrup!"

Why do you hate America?

When you buy Maple Syrup from Canucks, the terrorist WIN, John. Don't you GET IT?

gerrymander | November 6, 2006 02:28 PM

There's a maple syrup liqueur now, called Sortilege. Blended with whisky, it's more goodness from our friendly neighbor to the north, for when it really is that kind of day.

(No, I haven't tried it. Yes, I want to.)

iain | November 6, 2006 02:29 PM

There's nothing like a good Quebec Maple Syrup Whiskey & a nice poutine.

Sure, you deduct a few years off of your life, but they're the last few years which are often quite embarassing anyway...

Nathan | November 6, 2006 03:09 PM


After all the entertainment you've provided, I can't tell you how pleased I am to have amused you.

Only one more day of hearing "Linda Stender's a double dipping pension spender".

will | November 6, 2006 03:18 PM

i can understand, we have 6 or 7 messages a day when we get home from these things.

PixelFish | November 6, 2006 03:50 PM

I see Dr. Phil has already addressed the issue of maple syrup and bacon. (Mmmmmm, tasty. This reminds me of my holy grail of weird ice cream flavours: maple bacon! I've yet to try it although in the past two months I have had bourbon ice cream, garlic ice cream, and avocado ice cream.)

I got a few of those robocalls myself--at least, they follow the pattern. My cell phone number is pretty darn new, so I'm QUITE annoyed to say the least. At least now I know where to lay the blame.

Chad Orzel | November 6, 2006 04:26 PM

"I hope it's at least REAL maple syrup."

From Canada, even! Nonpartisan syrup!

I won't believe it without a picture.
I think the site needs a JPEG of you quaffing maple syrup.

Jenny Rae Rappaport | November 6, 2006 04:55 PM

If you'd rather put some of the maple syrup to a better use, you can make some excellent roasted parsnips with it. Cut up about two pounds of parsnips into little straw-shapes, put in a roasting dish, coat with 1/2 c. veggie oil and 1/3 c. maple syrup. Mix well, make sure that the parsnips are mostly in one layer in the roasting dish, and then bake at 400 degrees F for about 35 minutes or until they're golden-brown and dripping with sweetness. Seriously good stuff. =)

Tom | November 6, 2006 05:08 PM

Since a thread that started on telemarketing has degraded to the love of all things maple I feel that it's only proper to pimp my (extended) family's farm in vermont that produces syrup and other neato stuff


On a side note, I live in a state (Rhode Island)with a Senate race that is a knock down, drag out, fight to the death and I have yet to receive a single one of these calls --

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little | November 6, 2006 05:09 PM

I'm off, on my bicycle, to deliver my absentee ballot in person (heh!) to the county clerk elections division. I found myself voting a straight democratic ticket with the exception of the office of County Coroner, for which post I have other criteria than party line. Which meant I ended up voting for the unaffiliated candidate than the democratic incumbent, because the incumbent has apparently been dumb and shirky of late, and the challenger has actually got useful skills and attributes on her character sheet. Which meant I didn't do EVERYTHING my party wanted me to, but oh well.

Now all i have to worry about is continuing to hang up on robo calls and running the damn polling place tomorrow.

Someone's gonna owe me a beer by the end of the night. I have a feeling it's gonna be the republican poll watcher, however.

infoaddict | November 6, 2006 06:00 PM

OK, so I get the voluntary voting thing, pretty much (I'm from Down Under where voting is compulsory and we're all pretty used to it).

But why, for the love of Hades, is voting held on a TUESDAY?? Which isn't made a public holiday?

Geez, at least Australian elections are held on Saturdays, which means that the local schools and town halls get to hold their fetes and sausage sizzles and other associated fundraisers at the same time ... you do your thing, do the shopping, then head to friends and have a party to toast the end of the world/beginning of the new world (depending on perspective and who wins). Even if voting were voluntary, people would turn out in hordes to catch up and gossip and party. I reckon.

Tuesday? That's a school night. Even if voting were compulsory and held on a school night, you'll get a lot of people who just couldn't get out for the day, calculate how much they earn in a day, and hang the whole voting experience anyway.

Mind you, Aussies being Aussies, we'd all take the day off and have BBQs _anyway_. And even our morally-deficient PM would approve of that because, dammit, it's The Australian Way.

So that's what you poor seppos need to votw for next. Having your voting days held on a day that's actually useful for voting ON!

(Serious note: yes, there are definite pros and cons for the whole compulsory vs. voluntary voting thing, and I can argue both sides depending on POV. But not giving everyone the opportunity to vote, by holding it on a day that's just that little bit less likely to have people working on it, is just WRONG. IMHO. And I used to have an American boyfriend, and he got to see our voting day first-hand, and so we had long debates on the whole system).(So there).)

Cross777 | November 6, 2006 06:11 PM

I'm received, just today 7!! calls. I live in N.J. and have received 2 calls from Joe Piscopo who is endorsing Tom Kean, a call from former Gov.Kean endorsing his son, a spanish language call, which I can't understand for Bob Menendez and 2 calls for the local council, one for each party.

Carol Elaine | November 6, 2006 06:15 PM

This is so heartening to read right before I start phone banking for one state candidate and one federal candidate (go Debra Bowen and David Roth!) *sigh* But I swear, all of the numbers I have are in California. Hell, for David, they're even in his congressional district!

As for the maple syrup, as long as it's not diet, it's good.

Scott Mactavish | November 6, 2006 06:27 PM


Here ya go, mate:


Nathan | November 6, 2006 06:57 PM


Addressing the whole compulsory vs. voluntary thing.

We may SAY we think everyone should vote, but I for one don't REALLY want all those morons having a say. Hehehe.

Jon | November 6, 2006 07:04 PM

When I get a call like that leaving a message for some candidate, I find a contact number on their web page and call them, angrily demanding that they stop disturbing my dying grandmother or some such lie, and then tell them that they just lost my vote. If more people would call them back and complain, it might actually do some good. There must be some reason, I didn't get any calls this year.

G. Jules | November 6, 2006 07:42 PM

Responding to someone way upthread: I have gotten robocalls on my cell phone. Unfortunately they were of the hang-up variety, as many as five calls a day, and we couldn't trace back the number to any one company. According to the person at my office who deals with the phone company, my service provider said there was no way of stopping the calls short of reporting them to the police as harassment.

So, y'know. The spammers don't hit my cell as often as my landline, but they don't leave it alone, either.

Eddie | November 6, 2006 07:50 PM

At least with robocalls you can hang up immediately when you realize the voice is a recording.

Down here in Texas the Republican Gov. incumbent Rick (Goodhair) Perry is leading by double digits in a fourway race that includes a second Repub running as an independent, a Democrat, and writer/humorist/songster Kinky Friedman running as,well,Kinky.

Yesterday the papers quoted Perry as saying he believes all those who are not "saved" Christians will burn in a fiery pit in the next world. Really.

I think Perry probably gained Texas votes with yesterdays gaffe. I'm depressed.

Kristy | November 6, 2006 09:53 PM


that's the point, though. They're making calls that *sound* like they're from a certain (D) candidate, but they're not from that (D) candidate. And then they call multiple times to get you pissed off at that (D) candidate and thus not likely to vote for said (D) candidate.


infoaddict | November 7, 2006 12:48 AM

Danskie, Scott McT. (As for Australians, the first Tuesday in November is Melbourne Cup Day - it's a horse race. Which would actually make it a suitable day for running votes as well, as long as polling booths were at all major betting agencies and horseracing tracks)(but I digress).

Tradition is a marvellous thing. Who has the guts to stand up and say "Tradition is a marvellous thing, but it doesn't address how we are now; let's fix it?".

Not elected leaders, I can tell you. (This is where I don't start discussion the tradition of using water as if one were in Europe, rather than the driest continent on the planet. Am I not restrained?).


I didn't even win the office sweep on the Cup. Not even the wooden spoon. Ah well.

Matt McIrvin | November 7, 2006 09:35 AM

Regarding the retention of that tradition, there are also powerful interests in the US that do *not* want to make it easy for everyone to vote. This isn't any sort of shadowy conspiracy; they'll come right out and say it--if you make it harder to vote, they say, the people who do vote will be better-motivated, better-informed and just plain smarter, resulting in better governance. In practice what this really amounts to is disenfranchising the poor, undereducated and overworked, but I don't think they regard that as a problem.

This is usually a right-wing position, but increasingly I'm seeing it on the left as well: affluent liberals who blame Republican ascendancy on the low IQ of the voting public and grumble about how democracy is a sucker's game and intelligence tests ought to be required. These people need to take a look at *which* party tries hardest to limit the franchise; it ain't theirs.

Matt McIrvin | November 7, 2006 09:48 AM

At least with robocalls you can hang up immediately when you realize the voice is a recording.

Not necessarily. The latest generation of robocalling machines will often ring back immediately if you hang up at the beginning, as many as seven or eight times in a row. It is an appalling form of mechanized harassment.

You might argue that such behavior would just antagonize the listener--but that's the whole point: the call restarts at the beginning, and, as Kristy said, the first part of the call is designed to mislead the listener about who the call is coming from. If you actually do hang up seven times in a row, you'll think the call came from the Democrat's campaign and not the RNCC.

Matt McIrvin | November 7, 2006 09:49 AM

..NRCC. I always get that wrong.

Steve Buchheit | November 8, 2006 08:53 AM

ahh, blessed silence on the phone last night.

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