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Chief political reporter David Postman explores state, regional and national politics.

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June 25, 2008 3:01 PM

Italian group says Dems Rossi attack is "racist"

Posted by David Postman

The Italian Club of Seattle sent a letter to Gov. Chris Gregoire today complaining that a video produced by the state Democratic Party about Republican Dino Rossi is "racist" and "beyond offensive."

The group says the video, which criticizes Rossi's connections to the Building Industry Association of Washington, "aims to link Italian-American gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi to Italian-American criminals through the use of the theme song to The Sopranos .

The letter, from club president Brian DiJulio, mentions that former Democratic Gov. Albert Rosellini is a member. DiJulio says the video is an attempt to "associate Dino Rossi with criminal activity through the use of negative ethnic stereotyping" and is "beyond offensive."

Whether the State Democratic Party thought it clever to link Rossi to Italian-American criminals through the use of a popular mobster TV show is irrelevant; it is distasteful, and it is racist. Governor Gregoire, we believe we have your sympathy when we assert that using someone's ethnic heritage as a negative should not be condoned in this campaign.

DiJulio said in the letter he wants the video pulled from the Democrats' Web site and from YouTube and that Gregoire should ask that Democratic Chairman Dwight Pelz resign.

MORE: Waiting for a response from Gregoire and the Democratic Party. Republican Party Chairman Luke Esser sent out a statement. It said, in part:

“It is outrageous that the Democrats would stoop to this level on Gregoire’s behalf. What’s next? Dino is also part Tlingit, Alaskan Native. Are they going to attack him for that, too? This type of racial stereotyping is unacceptable. Gregoire and the Democrats know they can’t win on the issues so instead they turn to ethnic attacks. It’s shameful and an insult to the voters of our state.”

MORE: Democratic spokesman Kelly Steele responds:

Our video is in no way meant to allege or imply that Republican Dino Rossi or his extremist, right-wing developer allies have ties to the mafia or organized crime. It's a catchy song, which we thought jibed stylistically with our communication about Rossi's designated attack squad -- the BIAW -- who continue to pour millions into false and misleading attack ads against Gov. Gregoire. That being said, we’d like to apologize to Rossi’s friend Mr. DiJulio, his organization, and anyone else we may have inadvertently offended. The video will be replaced shortly with an identical message regarding Rossi and the BIAW’s sleazy attack campaign, using a different song.

As an aside, Rossi doesn’t seem to have a problem with referencing The Sopranos when he’s attacking Gov. Gregoire. Here’s what he said in a speech just yesterday on Mercer Island:

“[Rossi] criticized the state's reliance on the gas tax and ‘sin’ taxes from alcohol and cigarette sales. ‘Sin taxes are so easy to raise,’ he said. ‘But they are already so high they are one of the highest in the nation. If we raised them anymore, Tony Soprano would want to get some of that action.’”

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Posted by Candid

3:58 PM, Jun 25, 2008

Why don't they complain to HBO instead? It's HBO that linked Italian-Americans to the mob, a link that was so popular that Dino should be happy to have it.

Didn't the Clinton's use a Soprano's themed commercial too? Did Dino or the Italian club complain about that?

Posted by Daniel K

4:06 PM, Jun 25, 2008

Well, I'm offended that Rossi's first name links dishonest Republicans with a favorite childhood cartoon character. Rossi gives all Dinos a bad name, and has forever tainted the Flintstones by association.

Posted by JimD

4:06 PM, Jun 25, 2008

The ad is EXCELLENT...except for the tasteless choice of under music - I must agree.

It should be replaced with Theme To Titanic.

Posted by calvin

4:24 PM, Jun 25, 2008

Racist? Italians are another race now?
Poor Italians so downtrodden.
After all the BIAW is so PC anyway.

Posted by Chad (The Left) Shue

4:28 PM, Jun 25, 2008

Having never watched "The Sopranos" I had no idea where the music came from. I'm not fond of it but I doubt most voters will relate REPUBLICAN Dino and his associates at the BIAW to Italian Americans based soley on underlying background noise. As a matter of fact, if I were an Italian American, I might just want to distance myself from REPUBLICAN Dino anyway.

Chad (The Left) Shue

Posted by Daniel K

4:42 PM, Jun 25, 2008

I've never seen the Sopranos and I don't have HBO. For my part I just found the music to be a little energetic and distracting while trying to read the headlines flashing up in the video. For someone who hasn't seen this TV program, nothing in the music sounds like it has anything to do with the mafia or Italians.

Posted by John

4:53 PM, Jun 25, 2008

its politics as usual no change here or there.

Posted by Smitty

5:01 PM, Jun 25, 2008

Please! Racist accusations are strictly reserved for Dems to use against The Right when they don't have an answer for common sense. Please keep up.

Posted by Particle Man

5:26 PM, Jun 25, 2008

I thought Rossi claimed ethnic status as a native american. ............
Oh wait the native american community is supporting Gregoire and the Democratic party.

I mean really though, it's a song.....from a tv show.....a song.
No one is saying Dino is organized, Just corrupt.

Posted by Celia

5:29 PM, Jun 25, 2008

The BIAW does act like the mob - they think they can get away with anything!

Posted by Laura

5:53 PM, Jun 25, 2008

As an Italian-American, all I can say is, "here we go again". Yes, it is offensive to insinuate that Italians are part of the mob. I'm sick of it.

It is ethnic stereotyping. Can we take off our Democrat-Cheerleader hats, be mature, and admit a mistake for a mistake?

Posted by Turbine

6:22 PM, Jun 25, 2008

If Tony Ssoprano wa getting some of the action off of sin taxes, he would be kicking it back to Gregoire. Just like the Tribes the WEA and the SEIU.

Posted by citizensteve

6:33 PM, Jun 25, 2008

I wonder how Rossi's playing the hyphonated American card will go down with the English-Only/xenophobe crowd.

Posted by JimD

8:42 PM, Jun 25, 2008

I have to side with those who think using the Soprano's theme song - which has become a musical cliche for stereotypical Italian mob culture thanks to the series - is tastelessly inappropriate background music in a hit piece on Rossi, an Italian American.
Yes - it's a great song written by Steven Van Zandt, and the Lost Boys version used in the series and the ad is very "catchy".
But give me a wasn't chosen for it's snappy rhythm or high production value.
It was chosen to make Dino Rossi look like Tony Soprano.
Here are song's full lyrics:

You woke up this morning
Got yourself a gun,
Mama always said you’d be
The Chosen One.

She said: You’re one in a million
You’ve got to burn to shine,
But you were born under a bad sign,
With a blue moon in your eyes.

You woke up this morning
All the love has gone,
Your Papa never told you
About right and wrong.

But you’re looking good, baby,
I believe you’re feeling fine,(shame about it),
Born under a bad sign
With a blue moon in your eyes.

You woke up this morning
The world turned upside down,
Thing’s ain’t been the same
Since the Blues walked into town.

But you’re one in a million
You’ve got that shotgun shine.
Born under a bad sign,
With a blue moon in your eyes.

When you woke up this morning
everything you had was gone.
By half past ten your head was going ding-dong.
Ringing like a bell from your
head down to your toes,
like a voice telling you there was
something you should know.
Last night you were flying but
today you’re so low
- ain’t it times like these that
make you wonder if
you’ll ever know the meaning of
things as they appear tothe others;
wives, mothers, fathers, sisters andbrothers.
Don’t you wish you didn’t function,
wish youdidn’t think beyond the next
paycheck and the next little drink?
Well you do so make up your mind to go on,
when you woke up this morning
everything you had was gone.

When you woke up this morning,
When you woke up this morning,
When you woke up this morning,
Mama said you’d be the Chosen One.

When you woke up this morning,
When you woke up this morning,
When you woke up this morning,
You got yourself a gun."

As for the republicans calling "racism", I think that diminishes the more traditionally recognized definitions of racism.
Tony....I mean Dino is an Anglo Saxon Caucasian.
I've never seen a check box for "Italian American" as we do for Native American, Asian, Pacific Islander, African-American, Hispanic, Black....etc.
I guess republicans have a definition of race that splits whites into separate racial groups - news to me.
Never the less, unless the democratic party has substance to back-up it's insinuation that Rossi has ties to organized crime, using this music in this ad is not only wrong, but a blatant insult to honest Americans of Italian heritage.

By the way....does he?

Posted by Methow Ken

9:52 PM, Jun 25, 2008

Pudge said it best over on

''. . . . ask yourself: if Ron Sims were running for office and an ad ran against him playing the Geto Boys' "Damn it Feels Good to Be a Gangsta," would that be acceptable? Of course not. It's racism. This is beyond mere racial insensitivity: it is trying to play off stereotypes of a racial group to create a negative image of someone in that group. That's racism.''

The deliberate blindness of the far-left ''progressives'' to this objective comparison speaks volumes. The attempted deflection by comments along the line of ''well, Italians aren't a separate race'' is WAY beyond lame.

Posted by nwgal

9:53 PM, Jun 25, 2008

Exactly when did "Mafia" become a race? I've not seen that check box on any official forms I've ever filled out. Either there are a lot of government forms that are wrong, or this group is making up an insult....hmmm...which could it be?
Not to mention the odd fact that Rossi's outright Mafia references don't seem to offend this group, but using a catchy song that doesn't even say anything about the Mafia inspires a hurt and angry letter. Sounds like someone's wearing their partisanship on their sleeve.

Posted by East Coast Dem

9:54 PM, Jun 25, 2008

As a longtime Democrat yet new to the state of Washington, I've realized the Democrats here choose when to use their brains and when to turn them off. The ad against Rossi is completely out of line and offensive.

Posted by John Bailo

10:03 PM, Jun 25, 2008

Mob? That's Gregoire runs in the state bureacracy -- she paid off government employees to manufacture votes and keep her in office.

Rossi more like RICO -- let's get the Gregoire racketeers out of office!

Posted by Stars and Stripes

10:07 PM, Jun 25, 2008

This is complete disregard to what is right and acceptable in order to fit the far left progressive political agenda.

Gregoire is going to need to spew much worse trash than that in order to beat Rossi.

Posted by nwgal

10:14 PM, Jun 25, 2008

Methow Ken-
Pointing out that Italians aren't a race, when the original complaint against Dems was, in fact, centered around RACISM, is not a deflection; it was a fact.
Silly Republicans - if they worked half as hard at running the government as they do trying to be the victim, the country wouldn't be in the mess it's in now, after almost 8 years of Republican rule.

Posted by JimD

11:30 PM, Jun 25, 2008

Methow ken,
I think the ad is pretty bad, but it's hardly "racist".
The association with organized Italian-American criminals is not about race.
It's about ethnic heritage and country of origin.
Maybe we need a new word like "heritagism" to describe the offensive nature of this kind of slander.
But it is not based on Rossi's "race" at all.
And co-opting the word racism for something that's clearly not race-related diminishes and dilutes the common definition of racism.
Since when are white Caucasians representative of various races?

I'm beginning to think the republican party's complaint is a two-fer.
A legitimate protest to a rather despicable piece of slander, and an attempt to blur the definition of racism in an effort to diminish the specific definition of racism.
Or maybe it's pay-back for thin claims of racism directed against republicans - "well if you're going to throw racist around when it doesn't apply, we will too."...?

In any event, the ad is not racist. Period.
It is, however, a slanderous piece of crap the state party should yank immediately.

Posted by JimD

12:00 AM, Jun 26, 2008

...I mean, where are the republicans when there's
TRUE racial hatred and slander?
Some of the overtly racists comments about the democratic presumptive nominee for POTUS go un-challenged.
Not legitimate policy points or relative qualifications, but racist sentiment of the worst tradition.
"Oh that's just how some people feel...quit complaining...get over one takes them seriously..."
The GOP and its surrogates are nowhere to be found to challenge that kind of true racism - unless they're manufacturing it which is too often the case.
FOX News' "Obama's Baby Mama" (a ghetto insult for a whore) supered across video of Michelle comes to mind...
But when a white Italian is mocked for his distinction from other whites, they show up in droves screaming "RACIST!" when it has nothing to do with race at all.
Perhaps the only thing worse than the ad itself, is how the republican party falsely claims it's racist.
What an insult to those victimized by true racial injustice based on their RACE.
Rossi looks like he's from the same white Caucasian race as everyone else who's originally came from Europe...

Posted by upchuck

8:44 AM, Jun 26, 2008

hey, yo nice call JimD, high five! wait, "terrorist fist bump"

Posted by John

9:07 AM, Jun 26, 2008

Posting on this blog is like addressing a letter to someone with three people living in the same house. Jimd forgot who he was again!
I thought you wanted a discussion on the times, I was wrong you have your mind made up.

This post was as I said in steps you couldn’t even follow the direction of yes or no answer.

Your assumption this was an open and closed test is simply wrong, I am the storyteller here I thought?

It was a simple Yes or No questions which both you failed miserably.

If you could have follow the steps through this list and waited for the other 3 posts you would have seen the point “ I was making.”

The problem with people like you, whoever you are today is you do not want a discussion of the truth or really debate a issue you skip around the issue to suit your agenda.

BHO is a poster child with no backbone or substance prompt up by, a guilty democrat institution with the help of media.
I was willing to play your game but after this sorry find jimd or upchuck to play with.

The labels I called you all stands with no regrets.

oops sorry wrong post.

Posted by blaze

9:40 AM, Jun 26, 2008

er, what race do Italians belong to? Other than the human race, I mean.

Posted by Fred

9:56 AM, Jun 26, 2008

"It's a catchy song, which we thought jibed stylistically with our communication about Rossi's designated attack squad -- the BIAW -- who continue to pour millions into false and misleading attack ads against Gov. Gregoire" GIVE ME A BREAK! They knew EXACTLY what they were doing! Abd this from the "tolerant" ones!

Posted by Bothsides

12:16 PM, Jun 26, 2008

Yes, and the tolerant one's also say things like....

"no wait, "terrorist fist bump"

I'm sure that would be a "catchy" phrase for someone's loved one that was killed on 9/11, you really show your true colors, which aren't red, white and blue.

I noticed that all the slamming is against the Republican Party, seems to me they didn't raise the complaint, they only commented after. This is just another sleazy campaign ad, and I do acknowledge that both R's and D's use them.

Posted by John

5:35 PM, Jun 26, 2008

To whoever you are today jimd,

"FOX News' "Obama's Baby Mama" (a ghetto insult for a whore) supered across video of Michelle comes to mind..."

If I remember this correctly It was his wife who said "here is my babies daddy"!
Perhaps I missed what whoever mentioned, but I doubt it.

Posted by ItalianAmerican

8:43 PM, Jun 26, 2008

Those of you who don't think there is a racist component to this are being willfully ignorant.

What if an attack ad on a Jewish-American politician played "Pennies From Heaven" as the background song. Or Perhaps an attack ad on German-American that played Nazi marching music with the goosestepping noise of soldiers feet in the background.

Good job governor, I am voting for whoever is the 3rd party candidate for governor.

Posted by upchuck

11:05 PM, Jun 26, 2008

i agree with bothsides apparent sarcasm:

"Yes, and the tolerant one's also say things like....
"no wait, "terrorist fist bump""

but i see that he doesn't realize that i was quoting fox news' characterization of obama's fist bump with his wife at his victory speech

Posted by Jimd

5:44 AM, Jun 27, 2008

Bothsides wrote,
"...Yes, and the tolerant one's also say things like....
"no wait, "terrorist fist bump"
I'm sure that would be a "catchy" phrase for someone's loved one that was killed on 9/11, you really show your true colors, which aren't red, white and blue...."

Upchuck was quoting what a FOX anchor called the "terrorist fist bump" she gave her husband on stage - the same knuckle-touch" she everyone was talking about and she then demonstrated on The View with all the gals a couple days later, when she called it "the new high-five" she picked-up from her young staffers.
And now - in case you live in a cave - everyone's doing it on TV and elsewhere.
You should try it sometime - it's gentler and mor demure than slapping someone hand above your head I suppose.

You complaint about calling it a "terrorist fist bump" is with FOX News, which once again sank to a new low in trying to smear the Obama's with what only can be described as blatant hate mongering.
I'm waiting for them to bring back the "Obama's a secret Muslim" story again.
It you're going to question my patriotism, try getting your facts straight before running off at the keyboard, ok?

Posted by jamesb

9:31 AM, Jun 27, 2008


Get off the cross sir. No one kept you from posting or explaining anything. Both Jimd and I offered you advice as to how to find and demonstrate the evidence to support your claim. How can either of us come up with a counter-argument when you have failed to offer anything to support your claim? How can I answer these mysterious other posts of yours when you have not posted them?
I see Jimd answered your list of yes or no questions and yet you still have not followed up. What is the hang up now John?

PS, your “sorry wrong post” postings on other threads isn’t fooling anyone. Intelligence is measured by the number of times you make the same mistake and you have made that “mistake” numerous times now. You are either doing that intentionally or you just aren’t paying attention.

Posted by John

10:24 AM, Jun 27, 2008

9:59 AM, Jun 27, 2008
“It means stop pretending others are keeping you from making your case. “

I’m not buying that answer I doubt any other God fearing person on this blog will either.
I will not respond to anything you post from here on. There was no need to bring that up you should be ashamed of yourself, but that is asking too much.

Posted by jamesb

10:34 AM, Jun 27, 2008


Again with the excuses. You can’t respond to me because you know you have never made your case.

Posted by John

10:36 AM, Jun 27, 2008

Very sad it has come to this in politics,

The "d's" have no moral values and will do or say anything.
Winning means everything to them even to the extent of selling their souls.

As Italian American this is a hate crime and should be punished as one.

Posted by jamesb

10:53 AM, Jun 27, 2008


I thought you conservatives were against hate crimes legislation. I guess only when such legislation would protect those you hate.

Posted by JimD

2:56 PM, Jun 27, 2008

The ad should be prosecuted as a "hate crime"?
Does John know what a hate crime is?
You'd have better success prosecuting it as public urination.

John - a "hate crime" is a highly defined event with a specific criteria that's ALWAYS tied to a physical assault, or worse.

There's nothing criminal about an opinion - ever.
Any damage to Rossi with words have to be addressed in civil court, not criminal court.
But trust me - there's no case here ;-)

BTW - since when do republicans even support hate crimes legislation?
Strange that they suddenly start talking "hate crime" when it's a rich, white republican who at best, got a political boost from a botched attempt to slander him.

John, do you know the difference between criminal and civil law?
Because it sounds like you don't even know there's a difference.

Wikipedia has some excellent resources on-line if you want to learn about the basics of our legal system.

Posted by John

4:18 PM, Jun 27, 2008

The hate crime act of 1990 someone should read it
before running mouth.

Posted by JimD

7:00 PM, Jun 27, 2008


Each state has it's own hate crimes statutes, as do many counties and individual municipalities.
The feds can prosecute under federal hate crime guidelines if the victim was engaged in a federally protected activiy.
But in ALL situations, without exception, hate crime charges have to be "added" in effect to ANOTHER charge - like assault - the accused would be prosecuted for anyway.
Hate crime charges have the effect of upgrading the existing charge to a more serious offense.
There is no "hate crime" unless the accused commits a violent offense the charges can be added to.
I don't know why you would want to be lighter on violent criminals than we already are.
Most folks think we're too soft on violent criminals.
But rest assured - no one's being charged with a "hate crime" unless it's attached to a VIOLENT offense that would be prosecuted anyway.
Hate crime statues simply make it easier to convict the perp and put him/her away longer.
I have no sympathy for violent felons and everything we can do to throw the book at them works for me.
How about you?

If you're interested in learning what hate cimes are, there are several resources on the web that do an excellent job of that.
this one's a good place to start:

Posted by John

9:31 PM, Jun 27, 2008

To whoever,
Prove it please, Burn a cross on a African Americans front lawn tonight and wait until the police arrive tell them your theory on hate crimes. No need to tell me what happens, I'll see you on Fox at 10pm.

Sorry couldn't read all the way through you post fell asleep about half way through.

Posted by JimD

10:21 PM, Jun 27, 2008

Burning a cross on somebody's yard is a violent, terrorist act, John.
I'm sure I have no idea why you might defend a lesser prosecution than the law allows, if it qualified as a hate crime for example.
But I think someone who burns a cross on someone else's yard deserves the maximum prosecution allowed by law.
Don't you....?

Posted by Italianguy

6:46 PM, Jun 30, 2008

If you are not Italian American, keep your mouth shut. Go worry about your "own" people and stay out of our issues.

Posted by John

7:07 PM, Jun 30, 2008

Posted by Italianguy

6:46 PM, Jun 30, 2008

"If you are not Italian American, keep your mouth shut. Go worry about your "own" people and stay out of our issues."

Could you please rephrase your words I'll wait.........

Posted by John

8:24 PM, Jun 30, 2008

Ok, Upchuck I'll help you.."Hint"

I have said in multiple(1,2,3) posts on this blog I'm Italian.

So what are you trying to say I'm not?

I'll confess, I'm a freedom fighter from South America, now can we be friends?
Now make nice.

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