Patterico's Pontifications

2/29/2012

The Atlantic, in Reporting on Libel of James O’Keefe, Libels James O’Keefe

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:37 pm

Sheesh. How hard is this?

Conservative video provocateur James O’Keefe filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against Keith Olbermann, his Countdown guest host David Shuster, and their employer Current TV, for saying he’d been convicted of a felony and accused of rape. It must be infinitely frustrating to Shuster, who actually made the error, that he was close — O’Keefe has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor “with the intent to commit a felony,” and accused of harassment. But that’s not what Shuster said.*

O’Keefe most certainly did not plead to a misdemeanor “with the intent to commit a felony.” On the contrary, as I have explained many times (most recently here), the U.S. Attorney conceded that there was no evidence that O’Keefe intended to tamper with the phone system or commit any felony. This is from a document signed by the U.S. Attorney:

O'Keefe Government Admission 1

You’d think, when reporting on a libel suit where the defendant mischaracterized the plaintiff’s criminal record, you wouldn’t want to mischaracterize the plaintiff’s criminal record.

Wouldn’t you?

Were I The Atlantic, I would issue a very prompt and gracious apology and retraction. O’Keefe doesn’t really seem to be in the mood to be defamed without consequence these days.

UPDATE: A correction has been issued. H/t Dustin via email.

So You Want to Go to Law School

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:31 pm

Easily the funniest XtraNormal video since that other one which was also pretty good:

I think it’s a lot funnier if you’re a lawyer, but also maybe pretty funny if you just hate them. Hopefully, between the two categories, that describes a lot of you!

“If you say it’s a living, breathing document, I may kill myself.”

James O’Keefe Sues Keith Olbermann, David Shuster, and Current TV

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:25 pm

Always trust content from Patterico.

Details here.

I will have further details regarding the precise allegations for you this evening.

David Brooks calls GOP grassroots Nazis or something

Filed under: General — Karl @ 10:49 am

[Posted by Karl]

At least, that’s the allusion Brooks makes to conclude his latest screed against “grass-roots protesters in the Tea Party and elsewhere”:

First they went after the Rockefeller Republicans, but I was not a Rockefeller Republican. Then they went after the compassionate conservatives, but I was not a compassionate conservative. Then they went after the mainstream conservatives, and there was no one left to speak for me.

Mr. Brooks,  you are no pastor Martin Niemöller.  You are not winning; you are Godwinning.

Indeed, the lesser claims in the column are equally suspect, if less offensive in tone:

All across the nation, there are mainstream Republicans lamenting how the party has grown more and more insular, more and more rigid. This year, they have an excellent chance to defeat President Obama, yet the wingers have trashed the party’s reputation by swinging from one embarrassing and unelectable option to the next: Bachmann, Trump, Cain, Perry, Gingrich, Santorum.

Outside the echo chamber between the ears of David Brooks, Americans see the ideology of the GOP candidates — including Bachmann and Santorum — as closer to theirs than Barack Obama’s ideology.  Even among so-called independents, only Bachmann scored as more extreme than Obama, who holds the record for the most polarizing first, second and third years in office since Gallup started measuring polarization.  A majority of Americans (and independents) say Barack Obama’s political views are “too liberal,” a greater percentage than believe either of his main Republican challengers — Rick Santorum (38%) or Mitt Romney (33%) — is “too conservative.”  The share of Republicans who see Romney or Santorum as too conservative is significantly smaller.  A majority of Americans (and independents) disagree with Obama on the issues most important to them, while only a plurality disagrees with either Romney or Santorum (the overwhelming majority of Republicans agree with either GOP candidate). Currently, the (essentially meaningless) head-to-head polls have Obama ahead of Romney (who Brooks seems to find electable) by 5%, and ahead of Santorum (embarrassing and unelectable) by… 5.9%.  In short, most people see little difference between Romney and Santorum and see either as less extreme than Obama.

However, for Brooks, the problem is more than ideological:

In the 1960s and ’70s, the fight was between conservatives and moderates. Conservatives trounced the moderates and have driven them from the party. These days the fight is between the protesters and the professionals. The grass-roots protesters in the Tea Party and elsewhere have certain policy ideas, but they are not that different from the Republicans in the “establishment.”

The big difference is that the protesters don’t believe in governance. They have zero tolerance for the compromises needed to get legislation passed. They don’t believe in trimming and coalition building. For them, politics is more about earning respect and making a statement than it is about enacting legislation. It’s grievance politics, identity politics.

As an antidote to this hysterical overgeneralization, I’ll turn over the rebuttal to rabid wingnutter Peggy Noonan:

For conservatives on the ground, it has often felt as if Democrats (and moderate Republicans) were always saying, “We should spend a trillion dollars,” and the Republican Party would respond, “No, too costly. How about $700 billion?” Conservatives on the ground are thinking, “How about nothing? How about we don’t spend more money but finally start cutting.”

***

The second thing is the clock. Here is a great virtue of the tea party: They know what time it is. It’s getting late. If we don’t get the size and cost of government in line now, we won’t be able to. We’re teetering on the brink of some vast, dark new world—states and cities on the brink of bankruptcy, the federal government too. The issue isn’t “big spending” anymore. It’s ruinous spending that they fear will end America as we know it, as they promised it to their children.

Brooks is willing to write about “the nation’s ruinous debt problem,” but when Obama demanded his way or the highway during the debt ceiling fight, Brooks chose to blame “the movement” instead, falsely claiming that Republicans were “merely” being asked to close loopholes and eliminate tax expenditures.  In reality, Obama’s proposals have received almost zero Congressional support, including from his own party.  In developed countries, successful fiscal consolidations have relied overwhelmingly on spending cuts, while the so-called “balanced” approach has failed.  Indeed, the International Monetary Fund would suggest spending cuts and tax cuts as a “Plan B” for overextended countries.  In Brooksworld, those who believe in smaller government and solutions that have worked elsewhere are unrealistic, totalitarian troglodytes, while the dude who supports the most statist president in generations is the martyred mainstream conservative.  That’s some double-plus good punditizing.  David Brooks, clinging bitterly to Barack Obama’s creased trouser leg and his Reinhold Niebuhr, is not voice of mainstream conservatism.  He is the poster boy for Big Media’s Biggest Failure, howling on behalf of the so-called professionals in total denial of their role in America’s current and future miseries.

–Karl

Obama Lies About Romney Being a Liar

Filed under: 2012 Election,Obama — Patterico @ 7:07 am

The president on the campaign trail delivering a non-campaign address:

In a boisterous, excited tone, President Obama continued, criticizing Republicans who said “the workers made out like bandits in all of this; that saving the American auto industry was just about paying back unions. Really? I mean, even by the standards of this town, that’s a load of you-know-what.”

Typical of Obama, his saying Romney’s claim is a “load of you-know-what” is not only crude and unpresidential — it’s also false.

I’m not a fan of citing Big Media “fact checkers,” who typically serve as leftist partisans clothed as neutral arbiters. But when they actually say something disparaging about another leftist like Obama, it’s reliable, because it’s what the lawyers call a “declaration against interest.” If a doting parent admits his child might have a slight problem with tardiness, you can bet the kid is late all the time. And if the Washington Post Fact Checker says Obama’s bailouts were favorable to the unions, well, you can take that to the bank:

In terms of the “sweetheart deal” for the UAW, it’s fairly clear that the president gave precedence to the union and its blue collar members, who fared better than they would have been under Chapter 11. Meanwhile, scores of employees from the white-collar ranks are angry about cuts they had to accept. We won’t judge whether Obama’s stance was appropriate, but we can say that he came down on the side of the Democrat-friendly UAW.

Naturally, the column, which likes to award “Pinocchios” mostly to statements by Republicans, is still biased against Romney and for Obama. It doesn’t analyze the accuracy of Obama’s assertion that he didn’t favor the unions in the bailout, which is clear bunk. Mustn’t give “Pinocchios” to Obama! It instead awards a “Pinocchio” to Romney for saying that Solyndra money was crony capitalism, claiming that Romney “doesn’t have definitive proof of Obama’s intentions, even if the evidence suggests continued grounds for suspicion.”

See what I mean? When a “fact checker” column is that desperate to spin for Obama, yet still admits that the bailouts favored the unions, then the bailouts damn well favored the unions. Not even a “fact checker” spinmeister can spin that one.

So, Mr. Obama, you are the one who is full of “you-know-what”: your usual pile of cynical pandering falsehoods.

2/28/2012

David Shuster Apologizes for Calling James O’Keefe a “Convicted Felon” — And Blocks Patterico on Twitter

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:03 pm

I tried to grab the tweet where he apologizes, and found I’d been blocked:

Not sure whether this is enough to save his hide legally. Time will tell.

Thanks to Auntie Fraud.

UPDATE: I am having this strong premonition that Shuster’s half-assed “apology” is not going to save him from a lawsuit. Given his total distortion of the facts regarding O’Keefe, it shouldn’t. Again, time will tell.

“Racial Justice” Law Could Mean Reduced Sentence for Killer Who Killed Because of Race

Filed under: Crime,Race — Patterico @ 10:54 pm

Welcome to a country where a law called the “Racial Justice Act” is employed to potentially reduce the punishment of someone who killed a man because of his color:

For nearly three weeks, convicted murderer Marcus Reymond Robinson has listened quietly inside a county courtroom here to intricate testimony about statistics — dry statistics that could get him off death row.

Robinson, a black man convicted of killing a white teenager in 1991, is the first inmate to test North Carolina’s Racial Justice Act, the nation’s only law that allows death row prisoners to reduce their sentences to life without parole by proving racial bias in jury selection or sentencing.

The alleged racial bias being discussed, mind you, is not racial bias from Robinson’s trial. It all has to do with other trials. We have to find out if the system is racist, you see, so we can mitigate the punishment of this racist murderer — even if his own trial was fair. Don’t you get it?

The issue of race has dominated Robinson’s hearing before a Superior Court judge here. Prosecutors have pointed out that Robinson said “he was going to get him a whitey” before he killed 17-year-old Erik Tornblom with a shotgun blast to the face and robbed him of $27. An accomplice is serving a life sentence.

So how will this racial bias be proved? By statistics!

Robinson’s case, and possibly those to follow, hinges on a voluminous study of peremptory challenges by prosecutors in 173 death penalty cases in North Carolina between 1990 and 2010.

The courts look at whether prosecutors struck more blacks than whites from death penalty juries. The story does not say whether the courts will be allowed to examine whether there are racially neutral reasons for the strikes.

Let’s say there are six whites and six blacks on your panel. Four of the whites and two of the blacks say they can treat everyone equally, while two of the whites and four of the blacks say they can’t apply the death penalty and that they don’t trust police. You, as the prosecutor, strike the latter six from your panel.

You have just struck twice as many blacks as whites. You racist. And yet, you were doing your job: excusing biased jurors for race-neutral reasons.

So now, under this law, we take the statistics from your case and go study them in a completely different case that has nothing to do with yours. This is all necessary, we are told, in the name of “racial justice.” Meanwhile, what of the white boy who was killed for being white?

The use of statistics from unrelated trials, permitted under the act, has enraged opponents of the law, among them Tornblom’s parents. The couple has attended the trial, quietly fuming as they listened to testimony.

“This whole study is a sham,” Tornblom’s stepmother, Patricia Tornblom, said in a courtroom interview during a break in testimony. “What does all this stuff from other cases have to do with this case?”

Her stepson, not Robinson, was the victim of racism, she said, nodding toward the defendant. Robinson, 38, a broad-faced man with short dreadlocks, sat at the defense table nearby, dressed in a sport shirt and khaki pants.

“He chose a white boy to kill — and he killed him,” Tornblom said.

Ah, racial justice. George Orwell would be so proud!

Michigan. Arizona. Whoop.

Filed under: 2012 Election — Karl @ 4:00 pm

[Posted by Karl]

Polls close in both states at 9 pm ET tonightEd Morrissey predicts  a 20-point win in Arizona for Romney, and a close two-point win for Santorum in Michigan.  My fundraiser/consultant pal Nathan Wurtzel (who may still favor Gingrich) predicts Romney by 21 in Arizona, and Romney by a two-point margin in Michigan.  Nate Silver has Romney by 16.1 points in Arizona, and Romney by less than a point in Michigan.  May be a long night in MI, although Ed thinks technology will triumph and deliver timely results.

But what does it all mean?  Imho, it all means that the media narrative trumps reality.  Sure, if Mitt loses MI, it’s an embarrassment… if you buy it as his “home state.”  And Matt Dowd will soil himself.  On the other hand, maybe Mitt won MI in 2008 because GOP voters viewed him as the more conservative alternative to McCain… in which case, tonight will merely continue the pattern of a conservative base preferring the conservative alternative to the now-seen-as-more-moderate choice.  We will hear media chatter about what MI says about either candidate’s chances in Ohio.  While momentum is a factor in primaries, due in large part to the media, McCain crushed Huckabee in Ohio in 2008, while Romney had already dropped out.  The media’s master narrative of any campaign in The Horserace, so it is not shocking they want one.  The RNC wanted a longer campaign (a la Obama vs Clinton in 2008) and changed the rules to produce one.  Mission Accomplished (even if the RNC may be having second thoughts about getting what they wished for).  Neither of these schmoes is likely to win MI in a general election.

Nevertheless, I presume everyone else has an opinion. Discuss.

–Karl

UPDATE BY PATTERICO: From what I can tell, Romney is having a very good night.

The Naffe/O’Keefe Incident for Short Attention Span Readers

Filed under: General,Nadia Naffe — Patterico @ 7:41 am

Let’s sum up how Olbermann and Shuster defamed James O’Keefe.

They called him a convicted felon when he’s not.

Olbermann said O’Keefe was on parole when he wasn’t.

Olbermann and Shuster portray the incident as a “rape allegation” (Current site) or an “alleged sex assault plan” (Shuster Twitter) when Naffe never even alleged that what happened that night was harassment, or that she was touched or threatened in any way.

Olbermann and Shuster portray the incident as O’Keefe possibly drugging Naffe and trying to keep her overnight at a barn where he was present, only to drive her away when she threatened to call the police. In fact, Naffe alleged that O’Keefe had threatened not to return to a makeshift office furnished with a bed, bathroom, and kitchen, until Naffe, feeling sick from what she believed was alcohol, threatened to destroy his computers and call the police — whereupon O’Keefe returned with another man and tried to persuade her to stay.

Olbermann said Naffe had discovered items “stolen” from her suitcase when she had said only that, after feeling sick from alcohol, she later found items “missing” from her suitcase (which she could have left behind herself).

Shuster said Nadia Naffe claimed she was paid money “to be silent” when she said only that she had been offered money (which could have been to cover travel expenses).

Shuster claimed a judge had “urged” Naffe to pursue O’Keefe in civil court when he merely had noted that as an alternative option after telling her that he did not find probable cause that O’Keefe’s actions in the barn constituted harassment.

Are you starting to see why Shuster and Olbermann are headed for a big fat lawsuit?

EXCLUSIVE: Transcript of Nadia Naffe’s Testimony Against James O’Keefe

Filed under: General,Nadia Naffe — Patterico @ 12:16 am

I don’t believe this transcript has been released anywhere else. The linked transcript is from a probable cause hearing* in a New Jersey criminal court, in which Nadia Neffe alleged “harassment” by James O’Keefe.

What I find interesting (if not surprising) is how badly these allegations have been blown out of proportion by Keith Olbermann and David Shuster. Even if you accept the allegations as true — and keep in mind that they are only allegations, and that O’Keefe almost certainly disputes them — they do not even come close to establishing a “rape allegation” as alleged on the Current web site, or an “alleged sex assault plan” as claimed by Shuster on his Twitter feed last night.

Instead, we learn from the transcript that the increasingly infamous incident at the “barn” (a makeshift office with a furnished bed, bathroom, and kitchen) was not even the subject of Naffe’s harassment complaint. Instead, she complained essentially that O’Keefe said disparaging things about her after the fact. We learn as we read the transcript that Olbermann and Shuster completely distorted the allegations testified to by Ms. Naffe, twisting the allegations into a virtual rape — when Ms. Naffe did not claim at the time to have been touched, threatened, drugged, or harassed in any way that night.

Let’s first look at how Olbermann and Shuster characterized what happened — and then look at Naffe’s actual allegations:

On December 22, Keith Olbermann characterized the incident this way:

After refusing to be involved with O’Keefe’s upcoming hidden-camera sting about Occupy Wall Street called — or part of his “To Catch A Journalist” series, Naffe asked to be brought to the nearest train station. O’Keefe refused, instead urging her to stay overnight in a barn on his parent’s property. That’s when she threatened to call the police.

She recounted in testimony that, at one point during the night, “I found it hard to move and control my muscles,” saying, “It was his intent to persuade me to spend the night in the barn.”

Finally relenting to her requests, O’Keefe and a friend piled her into the car, where she passed out, before eventually arriving at Pennsylvania Station to board a train to Boston. Naffe says she later discovered that a wireless mouse and underpants had been stolen from her luggage.

Naffe turned down an offer of money from O’Keefe, she says, several days later.

Which is when, she says, he began a consistently brutal campaign of emotional harassment.

Shuster portrays the incident similarly, claiming to see “great irony” in Breitbart’s criticism of rapes at Occupy sites while saying nothing about Naffe’s allegations — implying that Naffe had claimed to have been raped. Like Olbermann, Shuster implies that O’Keefe held Naffe at a barn on his parents’ property while O’Keefe was present; possibly drugged her; and refused to drive her back until she threatened to call police.

But when you read the actual transcript, it turns out that the allegations are quite different from the portrayal by Olbermann and Shuster. According to the transcript, we learn that after O’Keefe had left, Naffe decided she wanted to leave, and insisted that O’Keefe return to the barn. She claimed to be feeling sick, which she suspected was from the alcohol she had drunk: “I thought the alcohol had made me sick.” Apparently not suspecting O’Keefe of having done anything wrong, she tried to get him to come back to the barn. He initially refused:

But he refused to come back to the barn. He said that all he cared about was his project. He insisted that I spend the night there and that we take the matter up in the morning. He wanted to go shoot videos the next day.

Here is a screenshot from the transcript:

Maybe not the most gentlemanly behavior, if the allegations are true — but not the behavior of a sex fiend.

Finally, Naffe got O’Keefe’s attention when she threatened to destroy O’Keefe’s computers (as well as call the police):

[A]s the evening went on, there were phone calls and texts and things like that. At which point, I finally threatened James that I was going to call the police and even destroy his Macs, his computers, if he did not come back to the barn and get me back to the train station. It was at that point that he agreed to come back to the barn.

Here is another screenshot from the transcript:

Why O’Keefe would drug a woman and drive away leaving her alone, Shuster and Olbermann never explain — because they imply O’Keefe was there with her all along, trying to rape her.

As you can see from the above screenshot, Naffe testified that O’Keefe eventually arrived with another man, and unsuccessfully tried to persuade her to stay. Olbermann and Shuster make the effort to persuade her to stay sound like an overture for sex, which she never said it was, and which would have been unlikely with another man present. She refused, and passed out in the car — perhaps because she had had too much to drink.

When she awoke, she noticed items missing from her suitcase — not “stolen from her luggage” as Olbermann claims, but simply “missing” . . . perhaps because she had had too much to drink:

I, I went back home. I, I returned home to Boston. At which point I realized that there were items missing from my luggage; my wireless mouse, my, my USB connector and my scarf and my panties. I didn’t have any of those items.

In court, Naffe repeatedly told the judge that she was not claiming that what happened at the barn was harassment — much less a “rape allegation” or an “alleged sex assault plan.” The court repeatedly said that he could not find anything in her certification that sounded like harassment, and she confirmed that she had not been threatened or touched:

COURT: In reviewing your certification, it’s clear that there was nothing that set forth there [sic] regarding any striking, shoving, touching or any other threat to do so; is that correct?

NAFFE: That’s correct.

COURT: . . . I didn’t discern any course of alarming conduct in this statement. . . . I’m just trying to determine — it appeared to me from your statement that you voluntarily met with Mr. O’Keefe and voluntarily came to Westwood. At some point it appears that there was a dispute between you and Mr. O’Keefe, and Mr. O’Keefe left the area where you had been, and then you were calling him and texting him to come back and take you to some form of transportation.

NAFFE: That’s correct, sir.

COURT: That in and of itself doesn’t show me that there was any harassment. So I need to know if there was anything — see, your statement doesn’t, doesn’t make out a case for harassment.

Here is another screenshot from the transcript, setting forth the judge’s view that Naffe’s allegations of the events at the barn did not describe harassing behavior:

At page 15 Naffe says that it was on a different day, October 23rd, that “the harassments started.” The court clarifies that nothing that happened when she was at the barn is part of her complaint for harassment. At page 16:

COURT: Is it your allegation that the incident of harassment happened after you left Westwood and went back to Boston?

NAFFE: Yes, sir.

. . . .

COURT: . . . The harassment happened after you left Westwood [the location of the barn/office]?

NAFFE: That is correct, sir. . . .

Shuster twists quite a few other facts. He says that after that night, O’Keefe offered Naffe money “to stay silent.” The transcript shows this to be an utter fabrication by Shuster, as Naffe explicitly said she didn’t know what the money was for:

On October 23rd James contacted me and offered to pay me money, I’m not exactly sure what for, but he offered to pay me some money.

If money was offered, could it have been reimbursement for travel expenses? Nothing in her testimony contradicts that possibility. Yet Shuster, with no basis in fact, describes her as calling it hush money.

Shuster claims that the judge dismissed the complaint on a jurisdictional ruling, saying there was insufficient evidence that the “harassment” occurred in O’Keefe’s town. Not quite, Davey. Virtually everything that happened the night that Shuster wants to portray as an attempted rape happened within the court’s jurisdiction. That is beyond dispute. But the court didn’t see what happened that night as harassment, and Naffe agreed with the court. It was only when O’Keefe allegedly said several mean things about Naffe later — the things that Naffe said had constituted the only harassment — that the judge said she had failed to establish that those mean things were said within the court’s jurisdiction. Naffe had not been present when O’Keefe had allegedly said these things. She had returned to Boston, and heard about them second-hand.

Shuster then claims that the judge “urged” Naffe to pursue her claims in civil court. Not hardly. He simply noted that the claims could be pursued there if she wished:

. . . I don’t find that there is a course of alarming conduct or repeatedly committed acts directed to you. You made a case that sounded perhaps that would have tones of slander, but those are civil matters and not quasi criminal matters and not cognizable in this court. . . . So I am making a ruling that I am not finding probable cause for the issuance of the harassment complaint.

In what world is that a judge “urging” the complainant to pursue civil relief? In David Shuster’s dream world. That’s where.

Nowhere else.

Shuster’s accuracy deficiencies run so deep, he even claims that O’Keefe and Naffe were planning to target Occupy Wall Street, while the transcript shows the plot was part of O’Keefe’s “To Catch a Journalist” series, having nothing to do with OWS. Hey, whatever makes a better story, right, Dave? And to hell with the facts.

If these allegations are true — and they are merely allegations, I repeat yet again — then the behavior described is boorish, at a minimum. That does not give Shuster and Olbermann license to totally distort the allegations and portray them as something they are not.

When you add this to Shuster’s and Olbermann’s false characterization of O’Keefe as a convicted felon, and their refusal to retract that blatantly false claim, you can see why they appear headed for some big, big legal trouble in civil court.

And you know what?

It couldn’t happen to a nicer pair of guys.

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