Patterico's Pontifications

3/6/2008

Rick Ellensburg Taken Apart by Protein Wisdom Blogger

Filed under: 2008 Election,General — Patterico @ 6:38 am



Rick Ellensburg:

Having paid only casual attention to it in the past, I spent several hours yesterday morning reading every “Rezko” article I could find in an attempt to understand as much as possible about the allegations. The point isn’t that there is no credible evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of Obama, although that’s unquestionably true. It’s far beyond that. There aren’t even any theoretical allegations or suggestions as to what he might have done wrong at all.

It’s not news that Ellensburg and his various sock-puppets are making untrue assertions. But it’s worth noting when someone takes apart such assertions as thoroughly as Karl at Protein Wisdom does here.

40 Responses to “Rick Ellensburg Taken Apart by Protein Wisdom Blogger”

  1. Yah, no sale on the protein wisdom article.
    While a voter should certainly take note an keep alert if a presidential candidate was associated with someone under indictment, until there is actual evidence that the candidate knew the person was doing wrong, or suspected it (which is the important point coming from the PW post). It just isn’t too important until that evidence shows up. I noticed the blogger used a lot of butt covering qualifiers in their post. Words such as “MAY have” and “Possibility” when referring to evidence of anything. Which, of course, means that they have nothing.

    I suppose insubstantial allegations will help a little in the rough and tumble elections game of “smear”, but unless some real evidence comes in, Obama’s problem is probably still going to be what he hasn’t done or had the time to do in his very short tenure in the senate, not what he may or may not have done in association with a shady businessman.

    EdWood (c2268a)

  2. Ed – Nice try. Why not comb through all of Greenwald’s post alleging impropriety by republicans, FISA, Attorney Firings, Abrahamof, etc., etc., where there is no actual evidence of misconduct except in Glenn’s mind and see if he make an outraged demand that “the people must know the truth!”

    I suspect that you will not be surprised to find a not so tiny double standard if you go through the exercise.

    Have a good day.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  3. No double standard at all DR. I agree with you completely.

    The “smear” game is old and never going to stop and the “spin” game will be there as its counterbalance… even if a Prez Obama somehow manages to bring us all to a world of sweetness and light.

    It’s just fun to weigh in and call people on it.

    EdWood (c2268a)

  4. Whatever Greenwald’s errors with regard to other people, I have to agree with him that there is no actual evidence of any wrongdoing on Obama’s part yet.

    Reading all of these articles, a pattern quickly develops:

    First, an article states a sentence with a question mark:

    “Did Obama help an Iraqi felon get a visa?”

    Then another article quotes the prior article, so the question mark gets dropped, and the “question” becomes a story:

    “Observers question whether Obama helped Iraqi felon get a visa.”

    Then, pretty soon, the pundits start discussing it, and reporting how it’s being disputed:

    “Democrats want to ignore questions about Obama’s role in getting Iraqi felon a visa.”

    And so far, that’s it. There’s no answers, just questions, and huge amounts of discussion about the questions, and discussion about the discussion itself.

    Greenwald is right that the whole thing eventually becomes a guilt-by-association assumption on the part of people who hope that Obama has a tainted record.

    And he’s reminding democrats that, as of yet, there is only questions and hope — no actual evidence of Obama’s wrongdoing.

    If you disagree, please show me a story or column or blog post on Obama’s Rezco connections that doesn’t eventually lead back to a story based on a question mark. I haven’t found one.

    Phil (6d9f2f)

  5. Once again, the hypocrisy of the many Gleens is manifest. Its hilarious to see Ellerswald complain about others using his favorite tactic.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  6. I notice that Phil uses a favorite Gleen rhetorical device, that of redefining the discussion to a more convenient topic and pretending that everyone all along was on that topic – then boldly proclaiming how he’s devastated them all.

    The strawman fallacy writ large and frothy.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  7. I notice that Phil uses a favorite Gleen rhetorical device, that of redefining the discussion to a more convenient topic and pretending that everyone all along was on that topic – then boldly proclaiming how he’s devastated them all.

    Yes, you’re right, I did boldly proclaim I devastated “them all” whoever they all might be. Oh wait, no I didn’t – I just commented on one element of Greenwald’s post, and asked if anyone knew more than what I’d already said.

    Who’s setting up a straw man?

    Phil (6d9f2f)

  8. You are, Phil. The Greenwald claim being discussed is his claim that “There aren’t even any theoretical allegations or suggestions as to what he might have done wrong at all.”

    Not the one that is more convenient for you or him, i.e., your strawman.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  9. Actually, between you and me, we’ve managed to make 50 percent of this discussion about the issue I raised. But whatever . . . you can roll around with little straw-man claim that I’m straw-manning the discussion all you like. Have fun!

    Phil (6d9f2f)

  10. The thrust of Karl’s post was on Greenwald’s(s) laughably transparent double standard, and on his willingness to perform a complete 180 on what should be looked into more closely based solely on political affiliation of the subject under scrutiny. Greenwald claims the press even asking questions is a violation of ethics unless they already have the proof to convict Obama. This was not, of course, Greenwald’s contention during the NSA “scandal,” or the telecom “scandal,” or any number of other instances where he decried, in long, purple-prose passages, “the public’s right to find the truth!”

    Really. It’s staggering in its brazen hypocrisy.

    I call it the AUDACITY OF HOPE!

    Jeff G (f422dc)

  11. Actually I think I might prefer it if they found a few skeletons in Obama’s closet – at least there would be a closet to look in. The man’s done squat. There is no record to examine. No wonder it’s mostly clean.

    Empty suit with a lot of melodious neck wind.

    quasimodo (edc74e)

  12. Opening statements at the Rezko trial were supposed to start at about 10:30 this morning. Due to a lot of reasons, details of Rezko’s “pay to play” racket have not yet been made public. That will change as the trial proceeds.

    nk (7b0075)

  13. I beg to disagree. The Obama home purchase in Chicago would land you or me in jail for tax fraud.
    I think he is running for president just to avoid being thrown in jail until his term as president is over.

    KobeClan (49560d)

  14. ” I noticed the blogger used a lot of butt covering qualifiers in their post. Words such as “MAY have” and “Possibility” when referring to evidence of anything. ”

    I see. So, you’re saying that we have only “theoretical allegations or suggestions as to what [Obama] might have done wrong at all.” Thanks for agreeing with me and disagreeing with Ellensburg that these “theoretical allegations or suggestions” do exist after all.

    Phil also agrees with me and disagrees with Greenwald when Phil says: “There’s no answers, just questions, and huge amounts of discussion about the questions, and discussion about the discussion itself.” Indeed. Huge amounts of questions — i.e. “theoretical allegations or suggestions as to what [Obama] might have done wrong at all.”

    Thanks for agreeing with me, Phil and Ed. You are correct that Greenwald is wrong.

    Patterico (46d549)

  15. “Who’s setting up a straw man?”

    That would be Phil.

    Patterico (46d549)

  16. Could someone explain how Phil’s initial post was a Straw Man?

    Leviticus (35fbde)

  17. Leviticus, Phil’s comment pretends that the strength / existance of evidence is the topic. It is not a pure strawman in that he does not explicitly assert that that is what is being claimed, but it is clearly implicit.

    Robin Roberts (26be8b)

  18. I still don’t see how Phil’s post is anything but a rebuttal.

    The point of Karl’s post seems to be that Greenwald is overlooking the distinction between illegal and wrong.
    Phil’s point seems to be that typical coverage of the whole affair equates the two (consciously or unconsciously), at some unfair cost to Obama.

    That doesn’t seem like a straw man to me.

    Okay. It’s someone else’s turn to show how Phil’s post is a straw man.

    Either that or we can start looking at Republican politicians through Karl’s little looking glass…

    Leviticus (35fbde)

  19. Patterico, I do agree with you that the comment that that “these ‘theoretical allegations or suggestions’ do exist after all.”

    So great, big deal, Patterico — you caught a blogger exagerating. I agree with you. Never said I didn’t. You’re a regular Columbo.

    Yes, Greenwald overreached. I guess I don’t think the discovery that a political blogger has overreached/exaggerated is particularly earth-shattering or interesting.

    In fact, in this same thread, I am now accused of creating a straw man just for speaking up about something else in the referenced post.

    Gee, that’s not an overreaction/exageration. Nope, because if it was, it would be a really exciting discovery, worth talking about to the exclusion of everything else!

    Phil (6d9f2f)

  20. Leviticus # 18 Yep.

    EdWood (c2268a)

  21. Phil,

    Indeed, it is not news that Greenwald made a false statement. I still enjoy pointing it out when he does, and adding it to the ever-growing collection of Things Glenn Greenwald Has Said That Aren’t True.

    Leviticus,

    Now that Phil has admitted that he agrees with the actual point made in my actual post, I don’t feel the need to argue that it isn’t a rebuttal. He admits it.

    Patterico (018918)

  22. So to follow the logic of SPQR and Patterico, I wasn’t rebutting Patterico’s original post, and therefor I was making a “straw man” argument.

    Or perhaps I’m making a “straw man” argument now . . . I really don’t know.

    It may just be a technical difficulty. In order to post this, I have to press the “submit comment” button. I can’t find the “submit rebuttal” button anywhere.

    Phil (6d9f2f)

  23. And he’s reminding democrats that, as of yet, there is only questions and hope — no actual evidence of Obama’s wrongdoing.

    No, he’s suggesting that ethical hypocrisy, disregard of the poor and what Obama himself calls a “boneheaded” judgment isn’t “wrongdoing.” The poor people who got stuck in Rezko’s slums would probably beg to differ… if the press ever bothers to ask them.

    Karl (f07e38)

  24. You want evidence?

    Obama denied having ANYTHING to do with Rezko and his businesses. Same as he denied ANYTHING to do with assuaging the Canadians on NAFTA.

    Turns out that he wrote a letter asking for approvals of a housing project that Rezko was backing. When confronted with this, Obama’s rep said it is right and proper for a politician to support housing improvements for his constituents. Guess what? The project was not in his district!

    Now we have a two-fer. One, he DID involve himself in at least this Rezko venture. Two, his explanation was false.

    A political candidate invites the strictest scrutiny when consecutive explanations are, at best, mistaken. The burden of proof now lies with the candidate. You wanna whine that proving a negative is impossible? Try being credible from the outset when things come up. Try answering 36 questions instead of insisting that eight is the maximum one can handle. Oh, invite the local reporters who have all the details to have first crack.

    Ed (8166cd)

  25. “Now that Phil has admitted that he agrees with the actual point made in my actual post, I don’t feel the need to argue that it isn’t a rebuttal. He admits it.”

    – Patterico

    Oh, okay. Phil’s post wasn’t a rebuttal of your post, it was a rebuttal of Karl’s post (to which, coincidently, you seem to ascribe considerable value)… because the “actual point” you made in your “actual post” was that Karl wrote a critique of Glenn Greenwald.

    Good point. He did indeed write a critique. You win. Silly Philly.

    Sorry. I’m being a little bitchy. It’s irritating when people throw around terms like “straw man” without having any apparent justification for them.

    Leviticus (68eff1)

  26. Phil:

    Let’s be quite specific here:

    1. Barack Obama entered into a sleazy land deal with Antoin Rezko, whereby Obama ended up with a property $300,000 below the asking price. This was in 2005, when Obama was already a United States senator.

    2. On the same day, Rezko’s wife Rita bought the other part of the same property for the full asking price.

    3. Obama subsequently paid $60,000 over the assessed value for a strip of Rita Rezko’s land, reducing Obama’s profit to $240,000 and giving Rezko a profit.

    4. A company owned by Rezko’s former business attorney then bought the Rita Rezko land for a big profit ($54,500 — after one year of ownership), thus increasing the profit the Rezko’s got out of the deal. The company put the property up at a $1.5 million asking price, but I don’t believe anybody has offered on it.

    5. Net upshot: The Obamas profit by $240,000; the Rezkos profit by $114,500; the only one who might lose money is Rezko’s former business attorney’s company (is Rezko an investor in that?) And the deal was set up a man whose business is influence, to benefit a sitting United States senator.

    I think it quite reasonable to believe that Barack Obama was not completely ignorant of Tony Rezko’s prior legal problems, given Obama’s long relationship with Rezko and that the investigations had already been widely reported within Illinois. In particular, Rezko was already under investigation (and has now been indicted) for influence peddling and extortion of businesses seeking contracts from Illinois state boards.

    At the very least, this is a massive gift to a sitting senator from an influence peddler. That is prima facie “wrongdoing.”

    If Obama was in any way involved with the prior discussions that set up this land deal, that can be conspiracy to commit tax fraud and conspiracy to commit bribery, which are both felonies, and conspiracy to violate campaign-finance laws (I don’t know whether that is a felony or a misdemeanor).

    (In case you’re interested, I use words like “can be” because neither Barack Obama nor Tony Rezko has been convicted in a court of law, and I don’t want to get sued. If that offends you, so be it.)

    In any event, clearly Obama stands accused by a great many people, on the basis of fairly good evidence, of engaging in pretty substantial “wrongdoing.” I don’t know why you can’t at least admit that, even if you want to argue (based on what?) that he’s not guilty of that accusation.

    Dafydd

    Dafydd ab Hugh (db2ea4)

  27. “Oh, okay. Phil’s post wasn’t a rebuttal of your post, it was a rebuttal of Karl’s post (to which, coincidently, you seem to ascribe considerable value)… because the “actual point” you made in your “actual post” was that Karl wrote a critique of Glenn Greenwald.
    Good point. He did indeed write a critique. You win. Silly Philly.
    Sorry. I’m being a little bitchy. It’s irritating when people throw around terms like “straw man” without having any apparent justification for them.”

    Leviticus, place aside the snark and tell me what I would say my actual point was.

    Patterico (4ad7e4)

  28. Your point was probably that Glenn Greenwald’s assertion that Obama is as pure as the driven snow is most likely bullshit (as articulated in the link to Karl at Protein Wisdom)… which is fine, and I think I agree with you.

    What I’m whining about is the fact that you guys have such a preconcieved notion of Phil that you declare his argument a “straw man” when it really isn’t.

    Leviticus (68eff1)

  29. My point was that Greenwald was at a minimum wrong to assert that “[t]here arent even any theoretical allegations or suggestions as to what [Obama] might have done wrong at all.” Nonsense.

    I felt that Phil constructed a strawman by seeming to concentrate on Greenwald’s slightly more defensible assertion about the *evidence*, without even acknowledging (at least initially) that Greenwald’s above-quoted claim is B.S.

    Phil has now acknowledged that Greenwald was wrong to state that. But I think bypassing the weaker claim to defend the less weak claim is strawman-like.

    Patterico (6000e0)

  30. Ed, #24…
    I am shocked to find out that a politician has lied to the public.
    I am going outside now to watch the porcine AF flyover, and make reservations for the End-of-the-World events.
    And, Greenwald: Why does anyone bother with that putz?

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  31. Patterico:

    Phil has now acknowledged that Greenwald was wrong to state that. But I think bypassing the weaker claim to defend the less weak claim is strawman-like.

    No. Actually, Sachi and I are compiling a post listing all the shifty evasions, absurd arguments, and logical lacunae used by lefties to squelch honest debate. I have no idea whether Phil is a lefty, but he certainly just used one of our favorites: Argument by Tendentious Refocusing.

    That occurs when you make several points… points 1 and 2, both strong, and point 3, which is a little weak. The respondent launches an all-out attack on point 3, while completely ignoring 1 and 2. Then he sits back with a smug, “there — I’ve run rings around you logically!” (Reverse the polarities if respondent is on defense, rather than offense.)

    Not a strawman argument (different mechanism which requires respondent to create a new, fatally flawed argument 2.5 which you never made, then refute that one instead); Argument by Tendentious Refocusing.

    Dafydd

    Dafydd ab Hugh (db2ea4)

  32. Dafydd,

    Blogging is getting so complicated. Next thing you know we’ll all need licenses.

    DRJ (a431ca)

  33. Another Drew – if u agree that Obama is lying about his association with Rezko, who is in the docket for fraud and other nefarious deeds (all allegedly, of course), kindly explain to me why it is not worthy of public discourse to attempt to ascertain the involvement of the man who would be president? Further explain why it is OK with you that a sitting Illinois Senator would consort with a “Rezko” given the known suspicions regarding a “Rezko?”

    Thank you, Another Drew, for agreeing there is more to the story than Obama currently asserts.

    Ed (8166cd)

  34. Ahem. A “strawman” is when you misstate your opponent’s position so as to make it ridiculous. Then you explain why your opponent’s position is ridiculous based on the strawman that you have constructed just to knock down.

    Phil’s first post was not a strawman argument. In fact, if it were factually correct then it would be a legitimate and very strong response to the original post.

    I’ll withhold judgment on whether Phil’s claims are factually correct, but it isn’t right to accuse him of underhanded rhetorical tactics in this instance.

    Doc Rampage (01f543)

  35. Phil’s #4 pretty much sums up the point of the Greenwald article. The Protein Wisdom article doesn’t deny the point made by Greenwald but latches onto one of the ideas in G’s article to sidestep it entirely.

    Instead of taking on Greenwald’s MSM meme, ie. sloppy journalists provide and echo chamber for unsubstantiated allegation to be turned into fake, evidence-free scandals, the PW article finds a phrase that it can use to accuse Gwld of intellectual dishonesty -Obama didn’t do illegal things but he did WRONG things…that there ARE suspicions of!!!!

    So altho I suppose the PW article is “right”, there ARE suspicions of course, it didn’t really provide any real “smackdown” on the Greenwald article coz it didn’t address it’s main point, just quibbled (not unfairly) about the wording.

    EdWood (5d3b20)

  36. #31 Dafydd:

    I’ll buy that definition. It’s still dishonest argumentation, but your precise definition of it is more accurate.

    Patterico (4bda0b)

  37. Ed Wood – Why don’t you restate what you see as the point of Greenwald’s post so that we all can make sure we understand your perspective on this.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  38. Well DR, coz then, instead of responding to the main idea in my post someone like you would latch on the the fact that I didn’t mention the Greenwald post and sidestep arguing my point by harping on that… in the Protein Wisdom article’s style.

    Because you are so clever tho (and don’t care what I said etc etc yah yah) you figured out a different way sidestep the point.

    EdWood (c2268a)

  39. it didn’t really provide any real “smackdown” on the Greenwald article coz it didn’t address it’s main point,

    Busted Ed

    daleyrocks (906622)

  40. “But I think bypassing the weaker claim to defend the less weak claim is strawman-like.”

    – Patterico

    I don’t think Phil was “bypassing” the weaker claim; if he’s anything like me, he was ignoring it (as all utterly ridiculous arguments should be ignored), and focusing his attention on the reasonable claim.

    To demand that he defend such a ludicrous claim seems a more dishonest tactic than his ignoring it in the first place.
    To demand that he acknowledge that claim, and so taint himself by mere association with such stupidity, seems little better.

    Leviticus (35fbde)


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