Patterico's Pontifications

3/30/2011

WAPO: The Supreme Court is Not Filled With (Conservative) Political Hacks

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 6:40 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

I missed this yesterday as I was dealing with a sick car, but the WAPO had an excellent Editorial Board Opinion on whether the Supreme Court is filled with politicians in judicial robes.  They were discussing the then-impending oral arguments in the Walmart class action case, writing:

It’s easy in cases such as this one to try to caricature justices as political players in search of a desired result. Easy, but wrong, as a recent spate of decisions show[].

Within the past few weeks, the Supreme Court, with conservative justices in agreement, rendered decisions that caused corporate America to groan. In one case, the justices sided with an employee who claimed his employer retaliated against him after he made a complaint. In another, they unanimously gave a green light to investors who sued a drugmaker accused of withholding information about serious side effects linked to one of its products. And the court, in a decision written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., an appointee of George W. Bush, rebuffed AT&T’s argument that it was entitled to “personal privacy” in order to shield certain information from public view. The chief justice, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, wrote that the court hoped “AT&T would not take it personally.”…

Justices are not devoid of points of view, and their “judicial philosophies” help steer them to certain results. There will be cases in which the justices appear to split along ideological lines, and the Wal-Mart case may very well be one of them. Debate and disagreement over the merits of a decision are understandable; not so painting justices as mere political hacks camouflaged in judicial robes.

And really it’s a pretty good opinion, and I recommend reading the whole thing and possibly even the links in it.  But it’s funny that their defense against charges that the Supreme Court is politically biased consists solely of defending conservatives against the charge of always siding with big business.  Yes, early in the editorial, in a part I don’t quote, they wave a hand at the concern of liberal activism but nothing in the meat of their argument seems to be aimed at dispelling that concern.  There are no citations of specific cases where liberals broke the liberal mold.

Mind you, these cases do exist.  The “liberals” on the court do not reflexively rule on the “liberal” side in every matter as defined narrowly in the case in front of them (more on that in a moment).  So why no discussion of those cases?  Perhaps the WAPO just doesn’t believe that the charge against liberals is serious enough to merit a defense.  Which is a dubious belief (if that is their reason), but that doesn’t mean they don’t believe it.

Now you see me accuse justices now and then of activism.  But let me flesh that out a little bit.  Even the activists do not simply think, “what do the liberals/conservatives want this time?  Okay, let’s give them that.”  That is because what the left or  right wants at any given moment is very often unprincipled.  This is largely the product of coalition politics, where often utterly contradictory political movements are grouped together under the banner of “left” or “Democratic” or “right” or “Republican.”  For instance, there is a deep contradiction between the left’s support for the privacy doctrine in relation to abortion, and their support for Obamacare, which is captured well in this photoshop:

A case in point was Rumsfeld v. FAIR.  In that case, a number of universities were refusing to allow military recruiters on campus in protest of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.  However, federal law stated that Department of Defense money was conditional upon such access—i.e. no access, no DOD money.  That policy was referred to as the Solomon amendment.  But FAIR, which represented the universities, wanted to have its cake and eat it, too, by excluding military recruiters and still getting DOD money.  The argument they put forth was this.  This was a “boycott” and thus a form of speech, and thus the Solomon Amendment placed an unconstitutional condition, supposedly, on the receipt of those funds.

Liberals lawyers I knew at the time predicted victory for FAIR, but I recognized that what they were asking the court to do was deeply unprincipled.  After all, these same liberal commentators believed that Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which held that educational institutions that received federal funds could not discriminate based on race, gender and a few other traits, was constitutional.  By what principle could you say it is unconstitutional to take away federal money from universities that excluded military recruiters, but at the same time say it is constitutional for the federal government to take away funds from universities that excluded black people?  So I predicted at the time that even the liberals on the court would have a hard time siding with FAIR, and history bore me out.  The decision was unanimous and indeed they specifically cited a decision upholding Title IX as precedent:

Congress’ power to regulate military recruiting under the Solomon Amendment is arguably greater because universities are free to decline the federal funds. In Grove City College v. Bell, … we rejected a private college’s claim that conditioning federal funds on its compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 violated the First Amendment. We thought this argument “warrant[ed] only brief consideration” because “Congress is free to attach reasonable and unambiguous conditions to federal financial assistance that educational institutions are not obligated to accept.”… We concluded that no First Amendment violation had occurred— without reviewing the substance of the First Amendment claims—because Grove City could decline the Government’s funds.

So to the extent that a justice is an activist (which, contrary to what one nitwit thinks, is commonly defined as refusing to follow the law, including the constitution and has nothing to do with honoring precedent), it’s not about blowing around in the wind according to whatever the liberals or conservatives want this week.  To the extent that they are activists, they are taking the long view.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

3/29/2011

Should the ATF Have Prevented the Sale of the Gun that Killed ICE Agent Jaime Zapata?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:16 pm

A letter released by Charles Grassley yesterday (.pdf) shows that the gun that killed ICE Agent Jaime Zapata should never have been sold. The government has carefully crafted its story to imply that it became interested in the purchaser and his crime partners only after that gun was bought. Thus, they could not have stopped the purchase. Sen. Grassley’s letter makes it clear that is not true. I strongly suspected this after reading court documents last week, but it’s nice to see official confirmation.

I think the clearest way to present this information is in a timeline, which I have cobbled together from various sources, including Grassley’s letter, a DoJ press release, and documents in the Osorio criminal case, including the indictment and an affidavit:

  • July 29, 2010 – ATF agents observe a cache of weapons being loaded into a suspect vehicle, but do not maintain surveillance on that vehicle. [Grassley March 28 letter.]
  • Between July 10, 2010, and Nov. 4, 2010 – Kelvin Leon Morrison purchases 24 firearms from federally licensed firearms dealers. [DoJ Press Release, March 1, 2011.]
  • Between July 10 and August 13, 2010 – Ranferi Osorio, Otilio Osorio, and Morrison (and others) buy nine 7.62×39 caliber firearms and two .223 caliber firearms from a Texas dealer called The Gun Zone. [Osorio indictment.] (A criminal complaint against Morrison (.pdf) provides details on how he worked in concert with the Osorios to traffick firearms to Mexico.
  • Aug. 7, 2010 — Law enforcement officers seize the Romarm, model WASR, 7.62 caliber rifle that Morrison had purchased on July 30, along with 22 other AK-style firearms, en route to Eagle Pass, Texas. The firearms are seized from the very suspect vehicle that ATF agents had witnessed being loaded with weapons on July 29. Two of the other firearms were purchased by Ranferi Osorio. The rifle is seized in LaPryor, Texas, near the U.S./Mexico border. [DoJ Press Release, March 1, 2011; letter from Charles Grassley dated March 28, 2011.]
  • August 9, 2010 – Ranferi Osorio, Otilio Osorio, and Kelvin Morrison buy two 7.62×39 caliber firearms from B&S Guns. [Osorio indictment.]
  • August 14, 2010 – Ranferi Osorio, Otilio Osorio, and Kelvin Morrison buy two 7.62×39 caliber firearms from Southwest Ammunition Supply. [Osorio indictment.]
  • September 2, 2010 – Ranferi Osorio, Otilio Osorio, and Kelvin Morrison buy six 7.62×39 caliber firearms from CYA LLC. [Osorio indictment.]
  • October 10, 2010 – Otilio Osorio purchases a Romarm Draco 7.62 caliber pistol in Joshua, Texas, in the Fort Worth/Dallas Metroplex. (Affidavit in Osorio case.) (Remember this purchase, as this weapon is later associated with the death of a federal agent.) The seller later tells the that Osorio passed a background check and that the sale raised no red flags.
  • November 5, 2010 – ATF agents from Laredo, Texas request an unknown federal official or officials, apparently in Dallas, to provide a confidential informant to assist in a DEA/ATF investigation of sales of weapons to the Zetas cartel. [Osorio affidavit.]
  • November 9, 2010 – The CI meets with Ranferi and Otilio Osorio, who give the CI a shipment of 40 firearms with obliterated serial numbers. They discuss with the CI the fact that the firearms are to be trafficked to Mexico. The Osorios are surveilled, stopped, identified, and apparently let go. The weapons received by the CI are seized by federal agents and examined. [Osorio affidavit.] Whether they are kept in evidence or allowed to travel across the border is not clear. Nor is it clear whether the pistol purchased by Otilio Osorio on October 10, 2010 was among these firearms.
  • February 15, 2011 – ICE agent Jaime Zapata is killed in Mexico. Mexican officials seize three firearms used in the murder. One of them has an obliterated serial number, but the serial number is restored, and it is found to the be the pistol purchased by Otilio Osorio on October 10, 2010. [Osorio affidavit.]

Grassley says in his letter:

The DOJ’s press release gives the impression that law enforcement officials were unaware of Osorio’s activities in October 2010 when he allegedly purchased the weapon that was later used to kill Agent Zapata.

The press release leads the reader to believe that law enforcement had no reason to suspect Osorio was a straw purchaser until sometime between October 10 and early November, when he was the subject of the undercover operation.

Grassley then goes on to list many of the facts set forth in the above timeline, which show that the feds were (or should have been) onto the Osorios and Morrison well before November 2010. Grassley concludes: “All of these facts were apparently known to federal authorities contemporaneously, and yet none of them are included in the Justice Department’s craftily-worded press release.”

Indeed. Something smells rotten.

Many questions remain. Why were agents observing a cache of weapons being loaded into the suspect vehicle as early as July 29, 2010? Why were there no arrests immediately after the seizure of guns on August 7, 2010, including guns bought by Morrison and Ranferi Osorio? Why were the Osorios and Morrison allowed to buy weapons for weeks and months after the feds, on August 7, 2010, seized guns that had been purchased by Ranferi Osorio and Morrison? Given all the information already known about Ranferi Osorio and Kelvin Morrison, why did the sale of the pistol to Otilio Osorio in October 2010 move forward without an alert being triggered? What caused Laredo ATF to be interested in investigating the Osorios and Morrison in early November 2010? How long had Laredo ATF been investigating the Osorios and Morrison and why? Why was the Dallas operation initiated by Laredo, and does that investigation relate to the earlier observations, surveillance, and seizure(s) near the border? Was the gun used to kill Zapata part of the shipment that was delivered to the CI in November 2010? Was that gun allowed to “walk” into Mexico? Regardless of whether that gun was among those delivered to the CI, were those guns seized and taken into evidence, or allowed to “walk” — and is there a connection between what happened to those guns and the fact that the Osorios were not arrested that day? Why are there redactions on the affidavit filed in the Osorio case, and in the attachments to Grassley’s letter? Are those redactions legitimate or designed to hide the involvement of people from DoJ?

Questions abound. Answers are few. Grassley and Issa will have to keep demanding answers.

Original Pigford Claimant Calls It One Of “Biggest Conspiracies Against The U.S. Treasury Ever”

Filed under: General — Stranahan @ 6:00 am

[Guest Post by Lee Stranahan]

Quick Note to Patterico readers – I’ve been working with Andrew Breitbart for several months on the Pigford story. The Pigford ‘black farmers’ settlement has cost over 2.5 billion dollars so far. A lawsuit initially meant to help black farmers who had been discriminated against by the USDA, it ended up as a giveaway to thousands who fraudulently claimed to have ‘attempted to farm.’ It’s not something I’m planning to be blogging about regularly here but we’re kicking off a new series about it and I wanted to give you a taste of it. If you want more, we’ve done a huge amount of reporting on it over at BigGovernment.com )

It’s back to business on our investigation of the Pigford story – the ongoing fraud that needs your help and attention to make it stop. The mainstream – with a few exceptions like John Stossel – are ignoring the story of the one of the biggest frauds in U.S. history because it doesn’t fit their narrative. The good guys are the real farmers who faced discrimination at the hands of the USDA and the people, mostly conservative at this point, trying to bring their story to light. The bad guys are the trial lawyers, politicians, race hustlers and those inside the USDA who profit by lying to the public about how the Pigford settlement is a ‘victory’ for black farmers.

In this video, we introduce you to Lucious Abrams, a Georgia farmer who was one of the seven original claimants. Abrams has spent years working for justice only to be betrayed by people like the Congressional Black Caucus.  Now Lucious is speaking out and speaking truth the power structure that doesn’t speak for him.

When a group like Color of Change wants to silence investigation into Pigford, it’s farmers like Lucious Abrams they are silencing.

When liberals on sites like DailyKos try to bully Rep. Steve King and Rep. Michele Bachmann with charges of racism, it’s really farmers like Lucious Abrams they are bullying.

When supposed advocates for black farmers like John Boyd ignore the plight of real black farmers and keep the Pigford fraud going, it’s farmers like Lucious Abrams they ignore.

– Lee Stranahan

Project Gunrunner: How Did the ATF Get Gun Dealers to Agree to Sell Guns to Criminals?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:05 am

We are going to be staying on top of the Project Gunrunner controversy here — as I am convinced that we have not heard the last of it.

Towards that end, a listener passes along this interesting interview with David Codrea and Mike Vanderboegh — the two bloggers who really broke the story before CBS took it national. Codrea has published a journalist’s guide to the controversy in two parts, here and here. I recommend you bookmark those links and return to them. Another link to bookmark that is mentioned in the interview: http://cleanupatf.org, the original source of much of what has been revealed about the gunwalking program.

One of the most fascinating aspects of all of this is: how did the ATF get gun shop owners — a relatively conservative crowd — to go along with this? Interviewer Jim Bohannan asks his guests: did any of these owners think: sure, there is a sting, but I’m the patsy. In response, speaking of one gun shop in particular, one of the bloggers says:

They did everything that they could to discourage these sales. They called the ATF and they were told to go through with it. But you have to understand that gun dealers, licensed gun dealers who hold federal firearms licenses, are all under the thumb of the ATF regulatory scheme. And they are almost all pathologically conditioned to do what the ATF asks them to do or else. You know, the ATF even has an internal term for what happens to people who get out of line. It’s called an “economic Waco.” They don’t kill you, but they leave you absolutely without economic resources or the ability to make your way in life, because you are absolutely at the mercy of their regulatory decisions.

The bloggers go on to explain how some of these regulatory threats might occur: federal regulators have been known, they say, to start regulatory proceedings against gun dealers because a “yes or no” box on a federal form was filled out with a “Y” or “N” instead of a “yes” or “no.”

I want you to read the above passage again, and I want you to burn it in your brain. Because I have this strange feeling that there are more revelations coming down the pike — and that some of them will relate to what you just read (and hopefully heard). We may find out that the ATF was . . . rather heavy-handed in suggesting what might happen to dealers who didn’t go along with the program.

Wouldn’t that be ironic — threatening regulatory problems if you don’t sell guns to criminals??

P.S. Let’s also remember the question I asked here on March 4 concerning the murder of ICE Agent Jaime Zapata: “Was this murder also the result of guns that the Obama administration deliberately allowed into Mexico?”

I still suspect a cover-up on that. We will see.

3/28/2011

Arianna Huffington & Roy Sekoff (Finally) Say Breitbart Isn’t Racist

Filed under: General — Stranahan @ 7:13 pm

[Guest post by Lee Stranahan]

The Daily Caller is burying the lede in their new article with the juicy headline HuffPo To Breitbart: You Lie!

This comes towards the end.

“I want to make it as clear as possible that neither I nor Arianna believe that Andrew Breitbart is a racist,” Sekoff said in his email to TheDC. “If we did believe that, we never would have allowed him to blog on HuffPost — let alone featured him on our front page. The decision about not featuring him on the front page in the future had nothing to do with race, but was based on the nature of his attack on Van Jones, as we’ve always made clear.”

For what it’s worth, Roy Sekoff wrote me this afternoon to say he was misquoted. Here’s his email in its entirety.

Lee — Don’t believe everything you read. I NEVER denied speaking to you. I NEVER denied telling you that I don’t believe Andrew is a racist. I’ve always said that I don’t in any way believe that he is. What I denied – and deny — was ever saying that I wouldn’t publicly defend Andrew because I was  worried about how our readers would react.  That was the quote that was presented to me by the Daily Caller (as you can see below), and that is what I said was "an untruth.” I resent being called a liar, especially when that charge is based on incorrect and incomplete information. 

I’m not going to get into a back and forth accusationfest – I remember what I remember and I repeated it to others. I’m glad that Roy isn’t denying the whole conversation, but remain puzzled as to why he’s denying that he was worried about how Huffington Post readers would react. But let’s take him at his word for a moment and see how it plays out…

For months now, Andrew Breitbart has been attacked over and over on The Huffington Post as a racist, a race-baiter, a defender of racists and on and on and on. Now we know that both Roy and Arianna personally knew these charges weren’t true but didn’t say anything about it. So – why? Roy says he wasn’t worried about reader reaction. If that’s true, then wow – it makes their personal betrayal WORSE, not better. Roy is saying that he knew it wasn’t true, and that he wasn’t worried what the readers would say — and still he published what he knew were lies, and didn’t say a peep.

What held him back? What stopped Arianna? And when Color of Change launched this latest attack on Breitbart, complete with charges of racism, why didn’t they say anything then, either?

If it wasn’t concern about reader reaction, what possible excuse remains? Ideological bias? A complete and total lack of journalistic responsibility? No sense of fairness? I’m all ears – what’s the explanation?

– Lee Stranahan

Open Thread: Obama About to Address Nation (Update: Transcript and My Thoughts)

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 4:31 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here. Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

Not much going on here, but an open thread to discuss whatever Obama is about to say.

Update: It’s over and it was less than inspiring. There is no attempt to explain why he could wait for the U.N. but not Congress. There is no attempt to explain why this is different than bombing Iran (which he said Bush couldn’t do, without Congess’ consent). And on one hand he tells us that we should be proud to have led the international community (except we didn’t), but don’t worry we won’t be leading it much longer.

And by the way, isn’t that worse if we aren’t leading it? I mean notice he didn’t say that the other nations will be taking over the actual, you know, fighting. Just the leading. So presumably over 90% of the bombs being dropped will be dropped by us, but at the command of a foreign power. How on Earth is that a good thing, or better that we are in control?

Anyway, you can read the prepared remarks here.

Update (II): And more contradictions.  At one point he says:

“I made it clear that Gaddafi had lost the confidence of his people and the legitimacy to lead, and I said that he needed to step down from power.”

Which implies at some time Gaddafi was legitimate.  But he also says this:

“Because wherever people long to be free, they will find a friend in the United States.”

Seriously, huh?

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

They’re Barely Even Trying Anymore…

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 12:14 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

Yes, this is another post on Libya.  As followers of this blog know, I first drew the conclusion that it was an illegal war here, and have since talked about it here, here and here. Let me be clear where I stand. I believe he was required to get Congressional approval first. And I believe Congress should have given it to him. But since they haven’t, and there is no attack or even imminent threat to the US or its troops, he can’t justify making war on Libya.

And it seems that the issue is not going away yet, and to their credit, ABC News Grilled Defense Secretary Robert Gates on the subject yesterday:

On “This Week,” ABC News’ Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper asked Gates, “Do you think Libya posed an actual or imminent threat to the United States?”

“No, no,” Gates said in a joint appearance with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “It was not — it was not a vital national interest to the United States, but it was an interest and it was an interest for all of the reasons Secretary Clinton talked about.  The engagement of the Arabs, the engagement of the Europeans, the general humanitarian question that was at stake,” he said.

Gates explained that there was more at stake, however. “There was another piece of this though, that certainly was a consideration.  You’ve had revolutions on both the East and the West of Libya,” he said, emphasizing the potential wave of refugees from Libya could have destabilized Tunisia and Egypt.

“So you had a potentially significantly destabilizing event taking place in Libya that put at risk potentially the revolutions in both Tunisia and Egypt,” the Secretary said.  “And that was another consideration I think we took into account.”

Now, first, I will put aside my annoyance at this administration recognizing that uncontrolled immigration is a problem—for other countries.

But look, all of those are reasonable arguments to make, to Congress.  But none of that is even remotely covered under the War Powers Act or the President’s inherent powers as commander in chief.

Also the National Review held a “symposium” on the subject, apparently soliciting different views on the legality of the war here.  They are deliberately choosing a variety of voices and thus they are all over the map.  I wouldn’t focus too much on the credentials of the persons saying it, so much as the quality of their argument when evaluating their stances.  On the other hand, if you want to evaluate their potential impact, who they are matters, and one person who matters much more for who he is than what he says is Bruce Ackerman.  Ackerman is considered one of the leading constitutional authorities on the left and has been called in by Democrats to discuss constitutional matters in the past—for instance, he advised them on Bush v. Gore.

As for the quality of his argument, it’s not so much he said anything wrong, it’s just that coming from him, I can’t take it seriously.  Full disclosure, this is another one of my professors and I know the guy well enough that…  I wouldn’t say he doesn’t care about the Constitution so much as that his concept of what the Constitution is, is unrecognizable to most people.  He believes the Constitution can be amended without an amendment by this complicated and amorphous process he calls the “Constitutional moment.”  Oh, and the Constitutional moments that he believes to have existed always just happen to favor liberal causes—such as claiming that by passing and retaining the New Deal, they amended the Constitution in some unspecified way.  On the other hand, when Professor Michael McConnell skewered his ideas by pointing out that you could just as easily argue that the institution of Jim Crow was a “Constitutional moment” amending the Constitution by effectively repealing the 14th and 15th amendments (if not the 13th as well), Ackerman didn’t have a very good answer to that argument even as he rejected it.  Oh, and my favorite part is that supposedly “we the people” were amending the Constitution in the 1930’s in relationship to the New Deal (and he never made it clear whether it just made the New Deal Constitutional, or mandatory), but even as we amended it, we had no idea we were amending it.

And let me pause, before going on and say, no, I am not misrepresenting his views.  I have explained this to about ten people and they all thought, “that can’t be what he really thinks.  That’s crazy!”  Yes, it is crazy, and yes, it is what he thinks.

So I can’t take him very seriously in claiming that this violated the Constitution, because he believes in some wacky version of the Constitution that most us don’t believe exists.  But there are many liberals who have taken him seriously in the past and might in the future.

By the way, also today we have another person to add to the list of people who claimed that the Constitution demanded that the President seek congressional approval before attacking another country (unless we have been attacked or an attack was imminent)… Hillary Clinton:

(Via Outside the Beltway.)  To his credit, in the same interview with Gates, ABC’s Jake Tapper threw a small clip from that speech in Hillary’s face, and she really didn’t have a very good answer to that, but I really wanted you to watch the whole speech because in context it sounds even worse, than Tapper’s snippet. I mean she is mentioning that there is a 2001 War Powers Resolution against al Qaeda, which might have arguably been stretched to that situation.  And Iran appeared to be supplying if not training or directing many of the insurgents killing our soldiers, which comes much closer to meeting the requirements of the War Powers Act.  Really, seriously, she makes the case for attacking Iran much more compelling than attacking Libya.

You can also watch the full Tapper/Gates/Hilldog interview, here:

Hilldog’s part comes at about 13:00, give or take a lot.

Meanwhile all of this has resulted in Obama finally deciding he needed to address the nation.  Of course he won’t back off his decision not to have an oval office address, so instead he will do this:

US President Barack Obama prepared Monday to give a prime-time address to the nation aimed at winning the support of a war-weary American public for the military intervention in Libya.

After inheriting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning president finds himself embroiled in yet another conflict, this time one of his own choosing and one that many at home are not convinced by.

In his address at 7:30 pm (2330 GMT) from the National Defense University in Washington, Obama must win over a largely skeptical public preoccupied by domestic economic concerns and unclear what the Libya endgame is.

Obama, who has been criticized since military action began nine days ago for not getting his message across, will also give interviews on Tuesday with the anchors of three US television networks, the White House said.

Lawmakers, including many from Obama’s own Democratic Party, are angry Congress was not consulted before troops were deployed and have raised concerns the Libya mission is ill-defined and the exit strategy unclear.

(emphasis added.)  We’ll see if he manages to convince people.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

The Huffington Post / AOL Amateur Hour

Filed under: General — Stranahan @ 5:28 am

[Guest post by Lee Stranahan]

Here’s the $315,000,000 question – is Arianna Huffington’s decision making process imploding only a few weeks after AOL bought the Huffington Post?

The Daily Caller is out with a big piece today on the Huffington Post and Andrew Breitbart that quotes me extensively. I’m going to expand on a piece I did today on my own blog at LeeStranahan.com but if you aren’t familiar with the Huffington Post / Andrew Breitbart story I’d point you to this round up as well these pieces that explain my connection to the story and Andrew Breitbart.

Roy Sekoff’s Untruth

In today’s Daily Caller article, I talk about something I mentioned here last week – that in a phone conversation a few months ago, HuffPost editor Roy Sekoff had told me that neither he or Arianna Huffington thought Andrew Breitbart was a racist but that they didn’t come to his defense during the countless attacked he’s endured – including many on the Huffington Post — because it would put them in a bad position with their liberal friends.

The DC says…

Stranahan said he asked Sekoff about Breitbart before he started working for the conservative publisher since in the left-wing circles Breitbart is viewed as “Satan.”

Roy was as clear as can be. ‘Of course, no, of course he’s not racist’ he said ‘I know that,’” Stranahan said in a phone interview. “He said, ‘we know that.’ There was no case of Roy going, well, ‘I don’t, of course, think he is racist, but Arianna does.’ Arianna knows he’s not racist because he’s not racist. Anyone who knows him personally knows he’s not.”

Sekoff denies that conversation, and told TheDC he never said any of that to Stranahan. “If you publish that, you will be publishing an untruth,” Sekoff said in an email to TheDC. “I never said that to Lee – or anyone else. Period.” (Emphasis added)

Roy Sekoff is lying. Period.

The truth leaves tracks. Roy and I had that conversation and I mentioned it to a few other people privately at the time. One of them was liberal Mediaite reporter (and Breitbart critic) Tommy Christopher. Here’s a statement I got from Tommy when I heard that Roy was flat-out denying that the conversation took place.

Lee Stranahan and I have had many off-the-record conversations regarding Lee’s involvement with Andrew Breitbart, many of them centered on that relationship’s effect on Lee’s status with the online left. During one such conversation several months ago, in December or January, I remember Lee telling me basically what he told The Daily Caller about Roy Sekoff and Arianna Huffington, that they knew that Breitbart was no racist. It stands out to me because his mention of Sekoff reminded me of how he and Huffington treated Mayhill Fowler, which we also discussed.

That shows I’ve been telling the same story for months; long before Breitbart wrote a thing for HuffPost. Why would I make up that story and tell people about it?

But more importantly – if I’m lying about Roy telling me that he doesn’t believe Breitbart is a racist, then why would Roy issue a statement saying that Breitbart isn’t a racist?

Sekoff and HuffPo spokesman Mario Ruiz would neither confirm nor deny to TheDC that Huffington removed language from last week’s statement defending Breitbart against charges of racism. But, through Ruiz, Sekoff told TheDC he does not think Breitbart is a racist.

Roy absolutely does not think Andrew Breitbart is a racist, as he made clear to me during discussions this week about whether to continue front paging Breitbart,” Ruiz said in an email to TheDC. (Emphasis added)

Careful, Mario – Roy might deny saying that any day now.

And Why I Think He’s Lying

One positive thing you can say about Roy’s character; it’s obvious he’s a very bad liar. These are rookie mistakes. In fact, I think the think the thing that should be most alarming to the shareholders of AOL is just how unprofessional this whole episode has been.

Why would Roy Sekoff lie in such a confusing way? Why say the conservation with me never happened where he said Breitbart wasn’t a racist – and then release a statement saying that Breitbart isn’t a racist? And why is that statement released through a spokesman? Why not just say it himself?

Thinking about all this, I end up with one likely scenario; Roy doesn’t want Arianna to know that he told me what she thinks. He’s falling on the sword to protect Arianna.

You’ll note that nowhere have we seen HER opinion of Breitbart and the accusations made  about him. That’s because those accusations of racism and race-baiting come from her friends; people like Van Jones.

Does Arianna think Breitbart is racist? She won’t go on record and don’t just take my word that Roy told me she doesn’t but look at her actions. She knows him personally. They not only worked together but he knows her children and so on. They worked together after she did her suddenly switch to the left  She met with Breitbart a couple of months ago. He blogged at HuffPost a week ago. She knows. Of course she knows.

So why not go on the record and simply say, “I know Breitbart and I don’t agree with him on policy but he’s not a racist”?

Because she CAN’T. She’s not allowed to do that because she knows the left would eat her alive. They don’t just need conservatives to be wrong; they need them to be discredited completely. They need them to be crazy and racist and evil because those are three groups of people you just don’t listen to, period. Crazy, racist and evil are three immediate disqualifiers from public discourse.

So what we’re seeing is full Arianna protection mode – and why’s that? Because of personal loyalty and AOL. Arianna isn’t the top dog any more. She answers to people now and that’s a new role for her. And so far, it’s a massive fail – she’s lost readers and credibility.

PS Fight Back

One last point – if this bothers you, fight back. Since working with Breitbart, I’ve gotten to see front row how the liberal media and liberal groups work to distort the truth and smear conservatives. I still believe in many liberal policy positions but I hate this kind of tactics. It’s weak.

But – those tactics are effective. So I have urged Andrew to do something that I’m told is unusual; fight petition with petition. A company like AOL gets nervous when they get a few thousand emails on a subject. This isn’t a boycott or any crazy chain letter – it’s a proven way to get the attention of the press and of companies If you oppose the sort of bullying tactics that Color of Change used against Breitbart, please take 7 seconds and fill out the form. And urge others to sign, too.

– Lee Stranahan

3/27/2011

New Guest Blogger: Lee Stranahan

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:53 pm

I am thrilled to announce that Lee Stranahan, who blogs at LeeStranahan.com, has agreed to guest blog here at patterico.com.

I am excited about this for several reasons.

First, Lee has recently established himself as a credible voice criticizing media bias and dishonesty among the left. I have linked his work here several times in the last few days, on subjects ranging from how the media ignored death threats against Republican legislators in Wisconsin, to how a dishonest meme spreads among the left, to his decision to quit the Huffington Post due to their mistreatment of Andrew Breitbart.

At every point, Lee has demonstrated his integrity by writing the truth even when it means taking on his ideological brethren. He self-describes as a “pro-choice, pro-single payer, anti-war, pro-gay rights independent liberal with years of work in print and film backing those positions.” But if he catches his side lying, he’ll say so. He has proven it, time and time again.

I can offer no greater testimony than this. Some months ago, Lee asked me for an introduction to Andrew Breitbart. I not only brought them together, but I told Andrew that this particular lefty was someone honest whom he could trust. They ended up talking for hours about Pigford, and now Lee is working for Andrew to expose the fraud and corruption underlying that case. Lee has come to see that the leftist caricature of Andrew Breitbart is a false one . . . and I think that may have opened his eyes to how some on the left operate.

Eventually, I hope to try to foster something almost unheard of in the blogosphere: a full and open debate between honest people from both the left and right. While he has clearly awakened to the way that leftist outlets can conspire to distort the truth and spread false stories, he is still a dyed-in-the-wool lefty, as far as I can tell. And yet . . . an honest one. For years I have been looking for someone like this — someone who disagrees with me on fundamental issues, but with whom I can have a dialogue that is respectful of the issues and the personalities. I’d like for Lee and the commenters here to be a part of that dialogue.

But that’s for the future. For now, Lee is focused like a laser on media bias.

Lee tells me that the Daily Caller is going to be running a piece tomorrow (Monday) about the Huffington Post’s banishment of Andrew Breitbart. As relevant background, when he announced he would no longer blog at HuffPo, Lee wrote:

One very loathsome aspect of this story is something that Huffington Post editor Roy Sekoff told me in a long phone call about Andrew Breitbart several months ago. Roy knows and worked with Andrew and when the issue of Andrew Breitbart being a racist came up, Roy told me “No, of course Andrew isn’t a racist.”

Roy went on to say that while both he and Arianna Huffington knew that the charges of racism being hurled at Andrew weren’t true based on their years of personal dealings with him that they were in a ‘bad position’ to say anything about it.

From what Lee tells me, Sekoff is denying that quote. The Daily Caller will run the story today, including Sekoff’s denial — and some evidence from Lee supporting his claim.

But Lee has more evidence in support of his claim. And he will be detailing it on Monday — here, at patterico.com.

So stay tuned. It should be an interesting day, and an interesting partnership.

And please, welcome Lee Stranahan to the site.

P.S. Aaron Worthing will, of course, remain the regular, daily guest blogger. Lee’s schedule is not fully decided, but he has indicated he may want to post a couple of times a week, perhaps on Mondays and Thursdays. Maybe you guys can help me convince him to post more often. It will help if you give him a warm welcome.

Lurkers are invited to de-lurk to express their opinions. I know you’re there. I see you right now!

P.P.S. The Daily Caller piece is already up here, Sunday night. Stranahan is quoted extensively. It is well done and worth a read.

Stay tuned for Stranahan’s elaboration!

Beldar Is Back

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:15 am

He has been posting intermittently for a while, but seems to be back with a vengeance with the eruption of this whole kinetic deal in Libya we’ve got going. Here is a taste, from yesterday: In six weeks, Obama fails miserably at what Bush père did so very well in one. My favorite part, I think, is in an update:

Oh, yes, I definitely saw this coming:

President Barack Obama told congressional leaders there are no plans to use the U.S. military to assassinate Libyan strongman Muammar Qadhafi — despite the administration’s policy of seeking regime change in the North African country — according to sources familiar with a Friday White House Situation Room briefing.

“There was a discussion of how we have other ways of regime change,” Maryland Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee told POLITICO. “It’s not our role to do anything at this point from a kinetic point of view. It is our goal for regime change, but we’re not going to do it from a kinetic point of view.”

So yeah, add that to Adm. Gortney’s “guarantee” that Kadafi is “not on the target list” and I think you’ve pretty much got the picture here. We’re going to keep all of our options right out on the table, including holding our breath until we turn blue and we get really dizzy. Except the one option which would really work, right away. That one we’ve ruled out repeatedly.

Kadafi’s possibly the safest person in Libya, at least for tonight. He’s got Obama’s word on it. Even if Obama could just push the button and Kadafi would magically, instantly, disappear without a hair being harmed on any other LIbyan’s head, Obama wouldn’t do it.

Yeah, we’re going over there in large part because he is killing his citizens, so let’s fight a war (did I say that out loud?) and kill the little people . . . but for goodness’ sakes, let’s not kill him! (By the way, John Bolton, as you might guess, disagrees.)

As Beldar indicates, he most definitely did see this coming. Just go to his main page and keep scrolling.

P.S. You know who has no problem with targeted killings? Qadhafi!

« Previous PageNext Page »

Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.2982 secs.