Rants & Ratings

Melanie Morgan: Liberals call me a whore, but worse, they sabotage my Amazon score. Something's in the H2O at Oakland City Hall; and B-town feud makes politics fun again.

For someone who just accused a mother of a dead Iraq war vet of being addicted to pornographic Internet chat rooms, KSFO talk-show host Melanie Morgan is sounding pretty thin-skinned. Her new book, American Mourning, which trashes antiwar mom Cindy Sheehan, hit the shelves recently, and last week, Morgan sent a message to e-mail subscribers of her right-wing organization, Move America Forward, whimpering that the antiwar lobby was viciously attacking her for exposing Sheehan.

“They are calling me every name possible; in profanity-laced insults they’ve said I am a prostitute,” the conservative radio hostess complained in her letter. “They’ve called me anorexic. They’ve called me a ‘bitch’ so many times I’ve lost count. They’ve called my coauthor Catherine Moy a ‘disgusting fat pig’ who should have a tarp thrown over her face. Actually that was one of the nicer things they’ve said about her.”

But the biggest insult, Morgan wrote, was that her enemies were dragging down her Amazon customer-review rating: “What’s most serious is that these people — who have NOT read our book American Mourning — are now trying to drag down the book’s rating at Amazon.com by posting reviews with 1-star, calling Catherine and I even more names.”

Indeed, when Feeder checked last Thursday night, eleven people (out of about eighty) had submitted one-star reviews, although who knows if they were part of the “antiwar lobby.” One reviewer called the book “a hit piece on Sheehan” and another described it as so mean-spirited it “makes Ann Coulter seem almost classy.”

For those who haven’t read the tome, it says Sheehan had an extramarital affair with libertarian blogger Lew Rockwell, and quoted a former in-law saying Sheehan “had become addicted to online chat rooms of a pornographic nature. She had many men communicating with her. She eventually had physical rendezvous as well.”

In her e-mail, Morgan urged those “who have picked up a copy of the book” to combat the negative reviews by submitting their own glowing reviews: “Please stand by my side and help me make sure that those who dishonor our troops are not allowed to drown out this important story.”

Lo and behold, by the next morning the book had received a dozen or so five-star reviews, to solidify its average customer review at four and a half stars.

Shifting Alliances

What’s up with the bizarro world of Oakland politics these days? You’ve got Council Prez Ignacio De La Fuente and his archenemy Desley Brooks agreeing on things. Meanwhile, De La Fuente is bickering with his erstwhile ally, Councilwoman Jane Brunner.

Last week Brooks and De La Fuente both opposed Brunner’s proposal for an “inclusionary zoning” ordinance, each expressing concerns about low-rent housing getting dumped in their districts. Less than a week earlier, De La Fuente and Brooks had held a joint press conference announcing a plan to facilitate condo conversions.

In an interview after last week’s council meeting, Brunner groused that De La Fuente would “rather help people who he’s not friends with” — i.e., Brooks — “than people who he is friends with.”

In fact, Brunner says, De La Fuente had assured her less than a week earlier that he’d support the inclusionary proposal. Then, on the night before the vote, he left her a phone message asking her to call him back. She knew it was a bad sign. “I didn’t have to call him back to know that I’d lost his vote,” Brunner says.

De La Fuente acknowledges that he changed his mind over the weekend. As he tells it, the more he thought about the affordable-housing proposal, the more he realized how flawed it was. He noted that unlike a version he backed in June — before he lost his bid for mayor to Ron Dellums — this version didn’t have the backing of developers, so the community was divided.

So did Nacho bow to pressure from his developer buddies or did he really just go with his gut? De La Fuente says he didn’t get any pressure. And he makes an interesting point: Politically, the smart thing to do would have been to go along with Brunner and the ordinance’s cosponsor, Jean Quan. Now the two are less likely to back him for another stint as council president, a powerhouse position he created, when his term ends in December. “When I really thought about it,” De La Fuente says, “I realized it wasn’t the right thing to do.”

As for his recent meeting of the minds with Brooks, De La Fuente cautions against reading too much into it. He says that they just happened to agree on these two issues. “It’s not like we’re friends or anything.”

Dirty Tricks & Dirty Talk

Who says Berkeley politics aren’t fun anymore? Oh, right — I did. But maybe I was wrong. Feeder has been thoroughly enjoying the recent sniping between City Councilman Kriss Worthington and his challenger George Beier.

Worthington informs Feeder that one of his foot soldiers tailed a man who was going door-to-door around the South Campus council district, removing Worthington fliers and replacing them with Beier literature. The Worthington spy then followed the bagger to Beier’s campaign office. Afterward, the man told the councilman’s spy that Beier had paid him $10 an hour for his work. “It was obviously a concerted effort to pick up every piece we had put out,” Worthington says.

Beier adamantly denies that he paid anyone to trash Worthington’s propaganda. He concedes that one overzealous campaign worker did take two of Worthington’s pieces, but that was it. Beier says he’s told his volunteers and staff not to pick up anyone else’s literature, and that if they do, he’ll make them return it: “You won’t see any dirty tricks from me,” he says.

Meanwhile, a Beier volunteer making phone calls on his behalf complained about a very nasty response from a Worthington backer. After the volunteer gave the vote-for-George spiel, the person on the other end reportedly snarled, “I wouldn’t piss in his mouth if he was lying parched in the desert,” and hung up. Turns out the urine-miser was none other than Worthington’s roommate.

Worthington checked with his roomie, who said she was, ahem, pissed because the Beier campaign kept calling her even though she’d told them she was backing Kriss. “She wanted to send them a message to leave her alone for the rest of the election,” Worthington explains.

Message delivered.


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