Some lessons can't be taught. They have to be lived to be understood.
Rachel Maddow Calls Out Frank Vandersloot
The unflappable Rachel Maddow doubles down on her exposure of Frank Vandersloot, his conservative politics, his hostility to homosexual causes, and his litigious confrontational methods utilized in Idaho. She addresses concerns those methods may have for the nation due to Vandersloot's close ties to the Mitt Romney campaign. She also observes the close relationship between Frank Vandersloot and Senator James Risch. She further interviews Peter Zuckerman, the award winning Post Register reporter about the personal and professional consequences he suffered as a result of Vandersloot outing him. Vandersloot declined Maddow's open invitation to speak about this on the record.*
This comes on the heels of this report from Mother Jones on Romney's fundraising ties to multi-level marketing (MLM) organizations like Vandersloot owned Melaleuca largely based in Utah and Idaho. For those who aren't familiar with MLM:
Utahns have a joke about multilevel-marketing companies: MLM really stands for "Mormons Losing Money." The notion of selling to one's friends and neighbors is so intertwined with the culture that the final season of HBO's Big Love featured an MLM subplot. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Utah has the highest concentration of such companies in the country.
There's a reason why MLMs, many of which peddle natural health products like Nu Skin's dietary supplements, have thrived there. Mormon scripture encourages the use of herbs as God's medicine, and the faith has a strong tradition of turning to alternative medicine. Its founder, Joseph Smith, reportedly shunned traditional doctors, believing a physician had killed his brother. The tight-knit Latter-day Saints community, and the trusting nature of its adherents, have made Utah a lucrative terrain for multilevel marketers. Mormons, who typically spend two years serving as missionaries, are also natural recruits for companies that need salespeople with a high tolerance for rejection. And finally, MLM firms often pitch themselves to women as a way to stay home with their kids while still earning substantial incomes.
Yet for all the empowerment rhetoric, companies like Melaleuca and Nu Skin appear to subsist in large part on the hopes and fears of Americans losing their grip on financial security. Industry watchdog Robert L. FitzPatrick says Nu Skin's business model "sets the average person upon his neighbor to get at his assets, savings, and investments." Their structure—vast numbers of foot soldiers feeding a tiny layer of top earners—may not offend Romney, who has dismissed questions about income inequality as a matter of "envy." But a close association with companies that seem to prey on consumers might not play well for a candidate who has battled allegations that the private equity firm he cofounded, Bain Capital, engaged in vulture capitalism. (Romney's campaign did not respond to requests for comment.)
Read it all, it's enlightening. Methinks this issue will not go away in the lead up to the national election.
UPDATE 5/5 6:00 p.m.:
Jody May-Chang makes some pretty potent observations, demonstrates why the issue isn't fully evaluated and is NOT going away.
VanderSloot’s criticism about Maddow’s coverage was about the outing of Peter Zuckerman. “Ultimately, the specific thing they wanted to criticize about our coverage is they say when they published the ad about that young reporter at that Idaho newspaper and on at length about him being gay, they say it was not outing him as we described it,” said Maddow.
The funny thing about that ad, shortly after Maddow’s Feb 21 segment aired, the ad that outed Zuckerman mysteriously disappeared from VanderSloot’s Melaleuca Post-Register ad archive located on communitypagenews.com. Here is the before and the after index. Pay particular attention to the date range between 5/1/2005 – 6/12/2005 when comparing indices.
If VanderSloot is so confident that his ad did not out Zuckerman why scrub it from his website?
Nice work, Jody! Keep biting into that ankle. Like all political egos, the bigger they are, the harder they fall. And that ego seems to have plenty to hide.