PSYCHOSIS IN A POLITICAL MASK
(This is the third, and, hopefully, last part in a series on Andrew Breitbart. It was originally intended to be the length of a single post, an analysis of his memoir, Righteous Indignation, before metastasizing into something larger and messier. This is part one. This is part two. As part of a look at the press that existed now, I ended up giving over a post to one of Breitbart’s devotees in BuzzFeed’s Benny Johnson: Gorgeous Animus, and because of the overlap of some of Breitbart’s followers and Anonymous, I ended up with the byway, “The Invisible World: Bradley Manning, Adrian Lamo, Chet Uber, Timothy Douglas Webster
I write extensively of the Breitbart-Kimberlin feud; as a guide to this fight, I found no better guide than the site Osborne Ink, run by Matt Osborne. I did not choose Osborne’s site as a lodestar because of kindred ideology; I found his site most helpful because of all the participants, extras, and rubberneckers in this stupid fight, he struck me as the sanest.
As said, this piece keeps metastasizing, and even at its great length, this post remains incomplete. A remaining part so intertwined with what took place with the on-line feuds described, and involving the overlap between Breitbart’s followers and Anonymous, will be edited in later this week: “Mayhem And Hawhaw / Angels And Insects / I Am The Mob”.)
Part two of this series ended with the Anthony Weiner scandal, and though this series is devoted to one specific man, that man was rightly given almost no mention in discussing the scandal – rightly, because he played only a tangential role. The Anthony Weiner scandal looks as if it were an act of political obsession, a deliberate putsch whose motive was, I believe, petty vengeance, and at the end of part two I put forth who I thought was behind it. Though Breitbart played a part in promoting the scandal, his role was not crucial – the most vital part was that played by a press that is broken and in decay, having the wherewithal to cover such a scandal, and for that matter, happily exaggerate and fan the flames of such a controversy, for quick and easy content, without the resources for extended research into who was behind it and why it took place.
Those who read this series may think that it is an attack on what might be called the institutional, traditional, or print-based press, when it is nothing of the kind – it is instead an attempt to stress the importance of such a press, the function it performs, and the lack of anything equivalent in investigative resources in the abeyance of such an institution, which may be privately held, and very much a set of private companies, but which performs an extraordinary public service. That it devolves into something that is more and more opinion based, more and more built around quick, simple content based on the now, is not a sign of its inherent weakness but a malignant symptom of a weakening bulwark that is badly needed. The best timeline of the Anthony Weiner scandal may well be Greg Beato’s Weinerology at his soundbitten website, a resource that was created freely and on the initiative of one individual, but the best piece of reporting on the phantom identities involved in the scandal is Jennifer Preston’s “Fake Identities Were Used on Twitter in Effort to Get Information on Weiner”, and it is Preston’s work that may well not have been possible outside of an institution with the resources of the New York Times. Once Preston’s investigation ends, the professional inquiry into one of the strangest aspects of this affair ceases1.
This episode was a fitting end to Breitbart’s career, because his work directed revolutionary energies without the possibility of revolution, and this was a sex scandal without any sex. This scandal, and his role in it, as with so many other events in his life, was misrepresented and misunderstood. He had been in utter disgrace before the scandal broke because he’d doctored a speech to make it look as if Shirley Sherrod had made some racially inflammatory comments2, and the Anthony Weiner scandal had landed in his lap without much work on his part. The figure who’d passed off the photos to him, the pseudonymous Dan Wolfe, remained pseudonymous, then vanished. Breitbart tries, in Indignation, to give himself greater importance in every episode than he actually had. He works a low level job in Hollywood, but he says he was a supervising producer on a movie. He did low level work on the Huffington Post, but he claims to have co-created it and to have done so as a double agent, a liberal bastion created for the purpose of exposing the radical qualities of liberal thought. Now, he was given his greatest and most visible triumph and he knew that it was not his own, either, but the product of an invisible power. His paranoid mind weaved together the idea of a Democratic Media Complex with which he was in incessant struggle against, that manipulated all things in American political life, and yet here he was the pawn of a greater power again, perhaps a rival power to this Complex (Breitbart had no way of knowing), but still only a meagre pawn. This was his greatest victory so far, but it was not his own, and what he kept promising would top this, a videotape of Barack Obama embracing a black professor3, he knew was a wet firecracker. This was his greatest triumph, but it was not his own, he might never equal it, and he didn’t.
That this was a sex scandal without actual sex did not prevent it from being scandal material for the press. Sex itself was unnecessary, and a possible inconvenience for discussion of a sex scandal, just as some aspects of sex are happily left out, as inconveniencing details, in pornography. It was a scandal where the women were interviewed, where fun was made, and the details were dissected, for which a purpose was somehow found. The problem, according to David Weigel, was that Weiner’s sexual forays on the internet were so pathetic – yet if this is enough for an indictment, then the best part of the earth is damned4. The serial lying was not the problem, Jack Shafer insisted – serial lying was something politicians did when they were caught in such a situation. Only politicians?, a reader thought. That Weiner lied copiously, then apologized copiously, was a sign of a sociopath, alleged Shafer – though it seemed to this reader that this was the usual cycle for a man caught in such dalliances. Not that that was a problem, Shafer was adult enough, he assured us, to know that. Well, who knew? The reason the congressman resigned, according to Elspeth Reeve, was that he looked like an idiot – and yet somehow Louis Gohmert has retained his seat5.
The most interesting post facto justification was “Anthony Weiner’s Cardinal Sin: Rank Hypocrisy, Not Creepy Sexting”, a rebuke to the congressman’s entry into the mayoral race, by an old nemesis, Stuart Stevens6. The problem, according to Stevens, was not the scandal but an incident of race baiting during an election from twenty years ago, an incident for which the congressman apologized afterwards, and for which the congressman apologized again, now. I am grateful for Stevens’ watchfulness over these moral transgressions, though I find this one a little strange. It was Stuart Stevens, after all, who had no problem praising the work of the man who’d produced that classic piece of race baiting, the presidential attack ad that featured Willie Horton7. It was Stevens who worked with Karl Rove in the 2000 presidential election, where a really nasty piece of race baiting was used during the South Carolina primary, where it was alleged that John McCain’s adopted Pakistani daughter was actually the illegitimate offspring from a liaison between the senator and a black prostitute. This attack was widely believed to have come from the campaign mastermind Karl Rove, a man for whom Stevens has only the highest of praise8. It was Stevens who wrote a novel, Scorched Earth which featured a character that bore an uncanny resemblance to the segregationist governors George Wallace and Ross Barnett. Barnett is best known for his involvement in a riot that took place during attempts to desegregate Ole Miss, and for hugging the assassin of Medgar Evers. In Stevens’ novel, this man is a secret hero, a man who is secretly in on attempts to desegregate the university, and who is also, easily, the most sympathetic character in the book9. Anthony Weiner has apologized for his past – I wonder if Stuart Stevens will ever apologize or explain any of these things – or if he has any sense at all of having done wrong in any of them.
Though perhaps this is the improper way to look at these things, to look at this essay as anything like a moral essay, and not a simple tactical gambit. What happened twenty years ago is a cudgel to be used against an opponent, and nothing else, without any other moral significance or connection. It is the same with Stevens now constant stressing that Mitt Romney lost the election because they didn’t have sufficient funds, because Barack Obama opted out of public financing, effectively destroying the system of public financing. Again, this is strange: Stevens devotes great space in his book on the 2000 presidential campaign, The Big Enchilada, to the reasons why George W. Bush opted out of public financing during the presidential primary – for the very same reasons why Obama opted out in 2008 and 2012. In 2000, the Bush team feared the deep pockets of their far richer opponent, Steve Forbes, and in both ’08 and ’12, Obama’s team were rightly fearful of the deep pockets of the combined donors behind the republican candidates, not to mention the very deep pockets of their billionaire opponent in 201210. The reference to creepy sexting on Weiner’s part must be acknowledged without rebuke, because Stevens observes us from a moral aerie we can only aspire to. He is, after all, the author of a memoir where he, a happily married man, traveled around Europe, while in the company of a former model named Rachel Kelly, and their relations remained entirely chaste, with no mention of sex or even sexual tension throughout the book11. Since part of the book takes place in France, I will allow myself to lapse into french, and say that if I were re-made into a man with Stevens’ handsome looks, in the company for a month with some model with whom I had great chemistry, one of your Chantal Delevignes or Chanel Imans, forced to remain entirely chaste, I do think my dick would explode. However, the reason for this is perhaps simple: I clearly lack the moral fiber of this political consultant.
There was simple opportunism which allowed this scandal to take place, that the lying and then the apologies exposed some political pathology, as Shafer alleged, rather than exposing something we could well find in our own lives. I quote now from a photographer of erotica, and had the press shared anything of the like opinion, there would be no coverage of the scandal, because there would be the belief that this was entirely a private matter, of no political consequence whatsoever:
I’m a father of four kids – and I was a pretty widely respected, published erotic photographer. There’s no contradiction there, especially if you know where babies come from. I don’t think sex is a bad thing, and I think society is way too hung on it. That’s why I have never, ever published my work under anything other than my name. My erotica has been posted for over eight years, too. About half my fan mail came from women, which is something of an accomplishment.
I do not choose this quote entirely arbitrarily; it’s from Lee Stranahan12, a writer who would go on to work for Andrew Breitbart, who currently writes for Breitbart.com13, and who was part of the Breitbart team that covered the Weiner scandal. From “Lies Upon Lies: How Anthony Weiner Went Down”, Breitbart’s own account of the unfolding of the scandal, we have Stranahan as part of the group trying to figure out who Dan Wolfe was:
But Weiner very nearly got away with it. Without further evidence except his own self-destructive interviews, the story could not move forward. For the next few days, the media began asking about PatriotUSA76 and the sources of the original story. Even though Weiner was clearly in implosion mode, the mystery of what really happened on Friday night, May 27, was still a hot topic in the blogosphere, and even in my own camp. While Lee Stranahan, Patterico (Patrick Frey), and LibertyChick (Mandy Nagy) tried to figure out who PatriotUSA76 was, I was more focused on a much bigger fish: Megan Broussard, the woman in Texas whose friend tipped us eight days before the congressman’s now-infamous tweet.
Stranahan’s quote is taken from an on-line exchange when he was trying to sell internet domains he owned. These domains included, among others, StonedGirls.com, DirtyFilthySex.com, and JustBDSM.com14. Someone might be able to try to square his attitude during the Weiner scandal with his past life, but there was no need – it was entirely consistent with the approach he would show now at Breitbart.com. He would accuse Anonymous (specifically a self-declared branch of the group, KYAnonymous) of terrorizing the town of Steubenville during the infamous rape case, by making unfounded accusations about town residents, and inserting themselves into the case entirely for the purpose of their own self-aggrandizement15. He would condemn members of 4chan for outing the name of the rape victim16. He would, however, do similar things himself. “Two photos of Sunil Tripathi need to become viral tonight. Here’s one. Share them everywhere.”, he would post Friday morning of the Boston bombing, tweeting out the pictures of the missing man who would briefly considered a suspect, and be found dead days later17. During the Steubenville trial, Stranahan (@Stranahan) would tweet of the sexual assault, “Did the girl say it was brutal? No. Anonymous did.”, to which twitter user @EveVawter would reply, “I think it’s safe to say that all nonconsensual sex is brutal.” @Stranahan: “No, it isn’t.” @EveVawter: “So you are saying there is nonconsensual sex that isn’t brutal?” @Stranahan: “what does brutal even mean?”18 During a pre-trial hearing of George Zimmerman, a woman would allege that Zimmerman had molested her while they were children. Many media organizations would keep the woman’s name veiled out of deference to her privacy and because she played such a tertiary role in the case, but Stranahan did not. “The mainstream media will likely keep referring to ‘Witness 9? for a few days but her real name is already out there and I’ve made the decision not to pretend it isn’t.” He would allege in the same post that a conservative christian website had not only revealed the woman’s name, but had also published her personal information. Where KYAnonymous was burdened with the onus of their own actions, in this case the blame for the revelation of this private information lay not with Stranahan or the christian conservative website, but with others19:
Information wants to be free. The info is out there and if blame for that needs to be placed for the people lives that are about to be turned upside down and examined, let’s at least blame the right people. No, don’t blame the late Andrew Breitbart, obviously. Don’t even blame The Conservative Treehouse; if they weren’t first with the rapid research, someone else would have been. Don’t blame the prosecutors for releasing the info about Witness 9, even though it’s pretty clear they did it for no other reason than to taint the jury pool.
Place the blame where it should be placed.
The entire Trayvon Martin / George Zimmerman story was amped up into a national story on purpose by President Obama with the help of his surrogate Al Sharpton in order to help win the 2012 election.
The discussion of racism as it applies to [woman’s name redacted]’s statements to the police is only relevant because attorney Crump, Rev. Sharpton and ultimately President Obama created a false narrative that the Martin shooting is metaphor for a racist America where black teens live in constant fear of being gunned down by white people; a narrative that is completely, factually false.
Stranahan was formerly a liberal, a man who once blogged at DailyKos and the Huffington Post20, who now worked, according to his bio, to expose the institutional left21. When Breitbart died, he and the remaining band would pledge to fight on, the group collapsing like a dark star because of the same malevolent traits that had built it. And the aftermath of the ridiculous Anthony Weiner scandal would haunt them like radioactive dust.
ANARCHY ONLINE / THE AFTERLIVES / FEUD STATE
It is a misunderstanding to think of Breitbart and his followers as a political group, in the sense that they have specific political aims that they wish to achieve. They had political effects, managing to shut down a service, ACORN, used to register marginalized voters, and to force a politician to resign, but their raison d’etre was not any political goal. They were something like a smaller scale, less streetwise mafia or criminal gang in the occasional employ of a big city boss – they hated their enemies and they could help out their political bosses through fear and intimidation, but the reward was the result of the fear and intimidation itself, not any political outcome arising from it. That much activity in the political sphere results from this primal feeling, and the importance of channeling this same feeling, is often misunderstood and underestimated. Conor Friedersdorf would counsel the Breitbart crew following their leader’s death, “Breitbart.com Struggles With the Contradictions of Its Namesake”, giving them directives on how to more effectively achieve political aims through muckraking journalism22, as if Breitbart and his followers wanted to do any of this.
Friedersdorf is an industrious writer and a strange contrast to Breitbart – he writes as if he lacked a spleen. He thinks only in terms of political objectives, with race baiting or pillaging of someone like Shirley Sherrod as an inefficiency, when it is the specific intent of the project. In the parlance of our times, the era of the engineer: not a bug, but a feature. He lacks the simple canniness that Sarah Palin has warehouses full, where her resentment over being too slow to get certain jokes, or to know the simplest facts of geography and history, can stand in for the resentment of others for so many things, that her ignorance and her accompanying resentment about this ignorance mocked, does not diminish her appeal but makes it more intense23 – and her gift at channeling this resentment is a more useful one for a politician than knowledge of some historical facts. I often think of Friedersdorf as a little red riding hood who has never met a wolf, or a child in a school play in the part of an angel, hoisted high in the rafters and wearing foil wings, giving gentle directives to the mortal characters on stage, instructing them on their impious flaws. Though just as the mild mannered country vicar might have bookshelves full of grisly murder mysteries, this churchman has his own twist – he’s an enthusiastic fan of the work of Ayn Rand, which is the root of the occult and unpious text, The Satanic Bible24. Reading his short essays on politics is a little like reading a catholic priest write reviews about pornography, every one complaining about their lack of celebration of transcendent love and the virtue of marriage – this priest doesn’t quite get the point of the project. So, Friedersdorf is a strange contrast, but not entirely an incongruous member of the political analyst class, who overemphasize the rational motives of political actors, when the actions of many political actors are not for any rational, productive reason, but are for reasons that are very pragmatic, very sound, in satisfying the irrational impulses of an electorate, but are often unproductive and inconsistent. One is never sure if this overemphasis is genuine myopia or willful blindness – Friedersdorf writes that a hypothetical follower of Breitbart “could cite Breitbart’s life as evidence that race-baiting is especially immoral, or that it is an effective tactic for attacking the left to avenge similar attacks on conservatives. The contradiction in Breitbart’s behavior means neither claim is entirely right or wrong.”25 That hedge about neither claim being entirely right or wrong does not suggest an ambivalence the situation requires, but a shirk from the poisonous whorls that have driven many conservative victories.
Because Andrew Breitbart’s sensibility was poisonous: it was that of the lunatic conspiracist, in a struggle with an all-powerful Democratic Media Complex, which had the power to shift the way the very world was perceived, where his opponent was more evil, more brutal than Al-Qaeda. This attitude would devolve into nasty, sectarian paranoia among his followers, unrooted in any specific political goals, as they retreated their attacks to the pettiest of opponents, and towards each other.
Bretibart’s followers were a real island of misfit toys. They included the aforementioned former liberal and former pornographer Lee Stranahan, a journalist and film-maker who wrote for Breitbart.com, as well as his own blog. There was Patrick Frey, a Los Angeles County deputy district attorney who helped Breitbart with legal work during the ACORN scandal26, wrote for Breitbart.com and his own blog, Patterico’s Pontifications. Dana Loesch, a sunny brunette with a passing resemblance to Sandra Bullock, who had landed an on-air gig on CNN when the network made an attempt to appeal to the Tea Party audience27. There was James O’Keefe, the film-maker who first gave Breitbart his big break in publicity, whose latest video ambushes had fizzled and, after one of these attempts, was on three year probation for entering federal property on false pretenses28. There was Joel Pollak, a former liberal who became critical of majority rule after a few years in South Africa, and was now one of the top people at Breitbart.com29. The other top man was Ben Shapiro, whose two greatest achievements were starting at UCLA when he was only sixteen, and still being a virgin at twenty one30.
There was the most interesting of all of them, Brandon Darby, a columnist at Breitbart.com (a listing of his work there), who had been involved with the relief organization Common Ground while in the abandoned wasteland that was New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina, a liberal activist until he had his Damascene conversion. Breitbart had the delusional fantasy that he was a double agent while working on the Huffington Post; Darby became an actual double agent, an FBI informant in two prominent cases31. Riad Hamad, from Lebanon, then living in Austin, Texas, was a teacher with several degrees and an activist, who headed the charity the Palestine Children’s Welfare Fund (PCWF). When Darby met Hamad about the possibility of a new charity that would send medics into war zones, Darby alleged that Hamid proposed that booby trapped motorcycles and ambulances be deployed under the cover of a medical mission to kill Israelis. Darby would also allege that Hamid put forth a plan to divert PCWF funds to Hezbollah and Hamas. Darby would go to the FBI about these allegations, and on February 28th, 2008, they would confiscate forty boxes of records from the charity, as part of an investigation into “wire fraud, bank fraud, and money laundering”. No charges would be brought. On April 14th, 2008, Hamad’s family would report him missing, and two days later his body was found in nearby Lady Bird Lake. His mouth was duct taped, his legs were bound with duct tape and his arms were duct taped in front of him; though the police department would say that the bindings on his hands and legs, the place of the tape pointed to Hamad having done this to himself, that various acquaintances said that he had been experiencing suicidal thoughts, the mysterious circumstances leading up to his death would result in the growth of various conspiracy theories. Alex Jones would devote some time to the case, and offer his usual imaginative outlook on the events32.
Darby would then join a group of activists who would protest the Republican convention in St. Paul’s, Minnesota. The protesters brought home-made shields to protect themselves against the police; Darby tipped off the FBI, who would confiscate the shields. Afterwards, two activists, David McKay and Brandon Crowder, would then make molotov cocktails to have something, anything at the protest. The other protesters in the group were entirely against this, and thought bringing the molotovs to a protest was ridiculous, stupid, and dangerous. The molotovs were left behind and not used during the protest. Darby would ask McKay what he was going to do with them – McKay either jokingly or seriously, depending on whose version of events is taken, told Darby that they would meet later to throw them at cop cars. According to Darby he then did his best to dissuade McKay from doing this. They were supposed to meet at 2AM, but McKay didn’t bother to show up. Darby called several times, but McKay didn’t bother responding. But it didn’t matter: at 4AM, the police showed up at McKay’s, McKay and Crowder were indicted for possession of unlicensed firearms, the molotovs, Crowder got two years, and McKay got four. It was after this that Darby came out as an FBI informant. “Congratulations on your brilliant career of whoring your soul. I’m kind of envious. Does it pay well to be a whore?” read one email to Darby. Breitbart called him an american hero33.
The first thing to go wrong, the first sign that the Anthony Weiner scandal was a poisoned chalice, was the SWATting of Mike Stack. Stack was the man on whom the focus fell over the tweeting of the Weiner photo when the actual tweeter, the mysterious Dan Wolfe, retreated from the public eye. A previous DUI, an assault charge, that he was a moderator at a porn forum, along with other personal information, including his home address, all became public. On the night of June 23, 2011, a call was made to 911, the caller saying that he was Mike Stack and he had just shot and killed his wife. A SWAT team was sent to the house, culminating in a SWAT team member pointing a rifle inches away from the head of a man lying asleep in Mike Stack’s bed. This sleeping man was Mike Stack, and he denied having made any such call. He was not married and there was no one else in the house. He did not own a gun, and had never owned a gun, though he now slept with a baseball bat under his bed out of fear after his personal information and house address had been published on the web34.
From the police report on the incident:
Stack said that he doesn’t have a gun and that he had never owned a gun. Stack stated that he was being set over the internet and believed that patrol responded to his house as prank. Stack said that he has a twitter account where his twitter ID name is Twitter.com/goatsred. He said that he is constantly “blogging” comments and opinions of political views that take place in the country. He said that approximately 6 weeks ago, he tweeted to a comment made by a male, whose tweet id was PatriotUSA76. That person indicated that his name was Dan Wolfe. Stack did not know if Wolfe was using his real name. Stack said he and Wolfe started “tweeting” around the first week in May 2011.
Stack stated that he believed Wolfe was the original person who discovered that former congressman Anthony Weiner was involved in a sex scandal and obtained the information before the news went public. [REDACTED] The news of Anthony Weiners. Stack said that after the information went public to the news media, [REDACTED] was the original person who obtained the information about Weiners. Stack said that shortly after Wolfe made the comments about [REDACTED], he (Wolfe) could no longer be located on line and the twitter name that Wolfe used as PatriotUSA76 was no longer a recognized ID from Twitter.
Stack said that he has no idea as to why [REDACTED] about Anthony Weiner’s sex scandal. Stack said that ever since the news went public he observed his personal information, i.e. his former D.W.I. arrest, a picture of his arrest for a previous domestic violence incident that was later dropped, a picture of his current residence, a picture of his current vehicle, and his financial history was posted all over the internet, via the web site smokingun and twitter. He said ever since the postings indicated him as the person who discovered the sex scandal of Anthony Weiner, he has been harassed on-line and through his cell phone. Stack said that ever since the news he has had to sleep with a baseball bat next to his bed in fear that someone may try to retaliate against him because of the rumors of him breaking the news of the sex scandal dealing with former congressman Anthony Weiner.
It looked like this was a SWATting, a tactic that had started out in the hacker community, where an emergency was reported at the address of your nemesis, causing a heavily armed SWAT team to descend on the house expecting a murder in progress and finding only frightened and unaware residents. The call is made through various methods so that the source cannot not be traced35.
A recording of the 911 call that brought the SWAT team to Mike Stack’s house:
Stack would start a blog trying to investigate who was behind the SWATting and the phantom accounts of the Anthony Weiner scandal. The mysterious account that he’d interacted with, that had retweeted the infamous photo that incited the scandal, the account that had then mysteriously vanished, was @patriotUSA76 / Dan Wolfe. Stack’s blog was called “Crying Wolfe”, and its logo was a hand casting a wolf shape shadow on a wall.
It was the first SWATting, but it wouldn’t be the last. It would be followed by a SWATting on the night of July 1st against Patrick Frey. The attorney would be taken out of his house in handcuffs and at gunpoint. It appeared part of a series – Stack had been SWATted, Frey had been SWATted, and so had Erick Erickson, in May. Each time, a caller with a similar nasal voice had claimed that he had just shot his wife. No national press had covered Stack’s SWATting, but Frey and Erickson were sufficiently prominent that theirs were given greater attention. “This Is Insane: The Intimidation Game Against Conservative Bloggers” by Conor Friedersdorf would write of the incident as part of a persecution campaign, and CNN, where Erickson was a contributor, would devote a segment to the incidents36.
The following is a recording of the call to 911 that triggered the Frey SWATting:
A year later, on May 28, 2012, Frey would be a guest on Stranahan’s live podcast, where he would discuss the details of the SWATting, including the whys on the difficulty of tracking down whoever made the original 911 call37.
But I can tell you that, typically, if you look at SWATting cases, cause this is not completely new phenomenon, this has happened dozens of times at least, in places all over the country, historically, what happens is that someone typically places a call using a computer, like a Skype type service? And then they mask the origin by spoofing the phone number, and then if you can trace it down to his voiceover IP, Skype type service, and trace it to an IP, it’s typically hackers who are clever enough to have used VPN services, which are basically proxies that mask your IP. And if they pick the right VPN service, it’s a service that doesn’t keep logs. So, you know, your investigators go and they issue a subpoena for the company and the company says, “Sorry, we don’t have any logs.”
Frey believed there was a possibility that a man he’d been on the phone with at the time of the SWATting, Ron Brynaert, a journalist who’d been heavily involved in looking into the phantom identities of the Anthony Weiner scandal, was somehow involved in the SWATting itself.
It was in the middle of discussing this possibility with Stranahan and another conservative blogger, the pseudonymous Big Fur Hat, that someone called into the podcast.
He’s snuggled up to you and tried to become-
Well, the way he got me on the phone the night that I was SWATted, was, he claimed that he had important information that I needed to know about. I’ll give you that.
That’s what I’m suggesting, is that he’s tried to form alliances and you see he’s attacking Joe Brooks [another conservative blogger] tonight, who he tried to snuggle up with. Not…I mean that metaphorically, I’m not trying to gross anyone out with the image of Joe Brooks and Ron Brynaert snuggling up. But a, I’m just saying he’s tried to ingratiate himself to people…hey Pat, we have a Skype caller on the line, and I’m always fascinated when I see all these ones. Here’s an untraceable call. Hey there, who’s on the line?
It’s me. Hey Pat, you remember me, buddy? It’s me that SWATted you, buddy. How bout I punk you one more time for old time’s sake, huh? Heh heh heh. You still there, buddy?
Yeah, we’re here. Now why are you saying you’re the person…give us some proof that you’re the person who SWATted Pat. (long pause) And they’ve gone.
BIG FUR HAT
Wow. I feel like I’ve been part of some sort of history here. What was that?
No. Not really.
BIG FUR HAT
I’m gonna bow out, guys. I’m gonna…in case you got another caller or something. And you can discuss, I’ll be listening. [STRANAHAN: Alright.] You can disconnect me. Thank you for having me, gentlemen.
Thank you, Big Fur Hat. [BFH: Thank you] I just like saying that. Thanks for calling in.
BIG FUR HAT
Do you have to cut me off so I can still listen, or do I just hang up?
Yeah yeah yeah, no, I’ll cut you off. So, that was strange, huh? Just made some news, I think.
That was pretty spooky, yup.
Ten minutes later, there was another call, during a discussion between Frey, Stranahan, conservative bloggers and Breitbart.com contributors, Yid With a Lid (Jeff Dunetz) and Mandy Nagy.
I first heard about Brett Kimberlin from Andrew Breitbart. He called me up, I still remember kinda pacing in front of my house, listening to him talk about how they were coming out with this story about this convicted bomber and, uh, what we found interesting about it to begin with, frankly, was that Brad Friedman was this blogger who’d been blogging about ACORN and about James O’Keefe, and the point that he kept making, all the time, was that, uh, this was a guy who was just uh, dishonest, O’Keefe, and he was constantly lying and doing that, and was such a bad person, and I’m trying to remember if the whole New Orleans thing-
-with O’Keefe had already happened.
Wait, Pat. Pat. We have a Skype caller back. I just want to jump on that.
YID WITH A LID
I’m gonna get off guys and listen.
Hi Skype caller.
(pause) Heeey Pat. Buddy. What is this, Lee? Alright. You idiots make me laugh. It’s all so funny. I mean, Michelle, with her cousin still missing, for what…her cousin offed herself38? That’s so funny, I still laugh about that. Hey Pat. How’d it feel when you got SWATted that night? I was watching from outside, buddy. And it was kinda funny, watching your ass go out in handcuffs.
Your voice sounds kinda funny.
Your voice sound funny. You’re talking a little too fast.
Oh. I’m sorry. And I’m speaking too fast for you, buddy?
Try it slow. Do the whole “I shot your-” Do what you said in the call. Repeat what you said in the call.
I don’t know what you’re talking about, buddy. I thought you invited me to talk some serious things here.
You sound like Sean Penn as Spiccoli. That’s what you sound like. But if you could slow it down a little bit. What did you sound like on the call?
I don’t know, buddy.
Well, tell us why you did it. If you’re the guy, tell us why you did it.
And they hung up.
(These podcast excerpts on youtube.)
That November, “SWATting, a Deadly Political Game” [link: https://web.archive.org/web/20180202143025/http://www.laweekly.com/news/swatting-a-deadly-political-game-2612022 ] by Simone Wilson, would give coverage to this incident and previous SWATtings, as well as attempts by Frey to get the Dallas FBI, experts in the area, involved in his case. Various celebrities would be SWATted that year, including Russell Brand, Miley Cyrus, Ashton Kutcher, and Justin Bieber39. In March 2013, Brian Krebs, a cybersecurity expert, would be SWATted after he reported on a russian site that was a repository of stolen social security numbers and credit reports. The 911 call was made via instant messages, using a service designed for the hearing impaired. The SWATting took place after a heavy denial of service attack on Krebs’ site. At the time of this last attack, a security company which protects web sites, including Krebs’, from such denial of service attacks received a letter from the FBI stating that Krebs’ cite hosted illegal content and should be shut down immediately. The letter was a hoax; the agency had sent no such letter40. At the end of April 2013, the authorities were called to Congressman Mike Rogers’ house in Howell, Michigan, after he had gave support to the CISPA bill and called its opponents a bunch of basement dwelling teenagers. It was not, technically a SWATting, as no SWAT team was called, just the regular police41. At the end of 2012, five days before Christmas, a twelve year old boy confessed to the SWATtings of Bieber and Kutcher42. No one has yet been identified by the authorities for the other incidents, including those involving Frey, Erickson, and Stack.
However, during the podcast with Stranahan, Frey named the man he thought was behind it all: Brett Kimberlin. This Brett Kimberlin, and a dailykos blogger named Neal Rauhauser, would be the names repeated again and again in conservative circles as the prime movers of this, only one part of their larger campaign of harassment against conservative activists. Though it was considered an axiomatic fact that the two men were behind the SWATtings, no evidence was ever shown to support this belief. Kimberlin was a former drug dealer who’d also set off bombs to distract an investigation into his dealing; one of the bomb victims had lost his leg and afterwards killed himself in despair. Kimberlin would serve time in jail, and gain prominence after he told reporter James Singer that he’d sold cocaine to Dan Quayle. Singer would question this claim, and thoroughly document Kimberlin’s life in the excellent Citizen K: The Deeply Weird American Journey of Brett Kimberlin . After getting out of jail, Kimberlin would try for a career in music and become heavily involved in attempts to document fraud involving Diebold machines in the 2004 election43. Seth Allen, whose attitude was progressive and occasionally paranoid, who wrote for the blog Dave From Queens and oversaw a forum devoted to chemtrail conspiracies (All Aircraft Are Not Involved – Chemtrails Are Not Kooky!), would share the details of Kimberlin’s past with Andrew Breitbart’s group. Their focus was on Kimberlin’s association with a progressive lawyer named Brad Friedman, which was not just an association, but an example of the infinite interweaving of liberals with radical terrorists, one more sign that the American left were more brutal than Al-Qaeda44. The conservative group the National Bloggers Club would declare May 25, 2012, “Everybody Blog About Brett Kimberlin Day”, with everyone devoting that day to writing about the crimes of this one man. “The goal of “Blog About Brett Kimberlin Day,” as far as I can see it, is to make Kimberlin famous again” David Weigel wrote, as if Breitbart’s followers were anything like a political activist group attempting to achieve specific political goals, and not something closer to a mob whose eyes settled on easy and nearby targets45.
Kimberlin’s supposed associate, Neal Rauhauser, was a network architect and liberal activist who had allegedly taunted Stack over his role in the Weiner scandal46, and had been one of the major players in one of the dumber moments in social networking. This was Twittergate, and never before have so many people been so upset by something that was stupid, pointless, and offensive, but also involved beans wearing wizard hats. Twittergate began when a group of twitter users called the Beandogs, who ragged on any number of people just for laughs, went after Greg W. Howard. The fight started when Howard successfully got twitter to take down a troll account, which provoked the Beandogs into outing the fact that Howard’s financial planning business was a wreck and that he was behind on his child support payments. They would tweet such jibes as “Who knew that @gregwhoward has sexy fuckable children???”, that one courtesy of “Obamagician”. Howard then formed a rival gang on twitter, called the Wrecking Crew, which outed personal information of the Beanbags. At that point, the Beandogs joined up with Neal Rauhauser, who may have controlled a large number of sock puppet twitter accounts, and the harassment continued. “I’m going to light up with a $100 bill that some gay ass taxpayer worked to earn.”, wrote “Burt Banana”. “@pschlenker annoyed me so much I bought an abortion in his name.”, wrote “Guerilla Logic”, before contributing $400 in the name of pro-life couple Paul and Barbara Schlenker to the National Network of Abortion Funds. Guerilla Logic, again: “Fuck ass shit piss cunt dick cock tits motherfucker…Is that better you old anal-leaking fucking hag? Go read the bible @grammy620”. When Rauhauser joined, it no longer became the trolling of a bunch of obnoxious baiters, but a political conspiracy of progressive democrats, trying to provoke the Tea Party into acting their image of racist morons. Glenn Beck’s site, The Blaze, asked “Did Democrats Hire A ‘Twitter-Thug’ To Smear The Tea Party?” A video was made documenting the scandal, featuring a man in a Confederate wrestling mask, a monocled bean with a top hat, and topless Sarah Palin on a crucifix, all accompanied by the music of Daft Punk. This short movie felt less like a scathing exposé, and more like a false flag operation directed by Tim and Eric47.
Brett Kimberlin and Neal Rauhauser, who may never have known each other, became interlocked associates, the prime enemies of some in the Breitbart circle, with even the Kenyan socialist usurper in the White House fading from view. Anyone who worked against a Breitbart associate must be an associate in some way of Kimberlin and Rauhauser. A website whose content editor went unnamed, Breitbart Unmasked was set up listing the misdeeds of anyone in the Breitbart group. A rival website, Kimberlin Unmasked, went up afterwards, documenting the foul crimes of Kimberlin, Rauhauser, and anyone it thought part of the Kimberlin-Rauhauser axis.
One of the first to fall under suspicion, paradoxically, was Mike Stack. The accusation came out in part through attempts by Lee Stranahan to sort out all the enemies and phantom identities involved in the Weiner scandal. Like many of those who pored relentlessly over the details of that scandal, Stranahan became obsessed with who was behind the various sock puppet accounts on twitter – Nikki Reid, her family, as well as the ghost at the center, Dan Wolfe48. Patrick Frey published messages from @JohnReid9, the father, and Stranahan took issue with it. Stranahan occasionally guest blogged at Frey’s site, Patterico, and on July 2, 2011, Frey closed his account after the argument.
A part of Frey’s response provides some sense of the depth of the labyrinth49:
Lee Stranahan may be completely right about his theory that a woman with the initials “JG” is behind everything that has happened. He really may. But I have been reading his posts, and listening to his radio show with the yowling cat, and I know he has been saying and implying things about me that are simply not accurate. I have tried to remain silent about this, but I am listening to his radio show from last night and hearing how he misrepresents my position on all of this, and I can remain silent no longer.
The two would eventually reconcile.
The accusation against Stack also had its roots in the conflict with another of Stranahan’s enemies, Brooks Bayne. Bayne was a rival Breitbart acolyte, who, according to Stranahan, expected to lead the Breitbart movement after the great man’s death50. Bayne had the notable distinction of bipartisan loathing, “The Entire Internet Hates Brooks Bayne’s guts” by “TBogg” (Tom Boggioni51) capturing this feeling well. Bayne’s own site was The Trenches whose content tended towards the inflammatory, such as “27 Asians Attack 3 Whites…Or Why Americans Need Weapons With More Than 10 Round Magazines”, “Gay Mafia Intimidates Christian Bakery Owner And Her Family Over Wedding Cake”, “Did FDR And His Cronies Steer America Into World War II? The Evidence Suggests That’s The Case”, “May Day DC 2013 Protesters Assault Cops And Attack Peaceful White Culturists” about May Day protesters and members of a White Student Union52; one of the last sentences of “The Summer of 1976: From the Ashes of White Detroit, Black-Ruled Detroit Blossomed” is “Detroit has been sucking the blood of the American taxpayer just to stay alive since blacks took over in 1974.” He would taunt Stranahan mercilessly, setting up Lee Stranahan Watch, a site devoted to the humiliation of Stranahan, documenting his every mis-step, and hosting the evidence of Stranahan’s past involvement in pornography53.
A detailed chart would be made by Stranahan listing who Bayne was attacking and who was associated with the attack, and he listed Stack’s name as among those associated with Bayne’s attacks. Stack would reply with a letter, threatening to sue Stranahan for associating him with Kimberlin and Rauhauser. Stranahan denied he did any such thing, and pointed to the lawsuit as a triumphant vindication: “Mike Stack Threatens To Sue Me, Thereby Proving My Chart Right” 54. Stranahan would also end up in a fight with the previously mentioned christian accountant and Twittergate victim, Greg W. Howard, after Howard promoted the idea that the killing spree of James Holmes was part of a liberal conspiracy55.
In an unusual move, Stranahan would commission a shirt for sale listing the names of his enemies: “Brett & Neal & Mike & Brooks & Greg.” Whether Stranahan was a well-known and beloved enough public figure that people would want to buy such a shirt was one question. The other was why someone in sympathy with Stranahan would want to buy a shirt listing his enemies’ names, which might give the mistaken notion that you were actually a fan of those enemies, as it would be assumed that you were a fan of the Ramones, rather than utterly hating the band, if you wore a shirt with their name on it. Though it was more likely that people would never have heard of the people on the shirt, and would get the mistaken idea that you were a big fan of that band with the song in Death Proof56.
The reason for the intensity of these disputes was explained by Stranahan when he wrote of the fight between himself and Howard. There was the belief on Howard’s part that their enemies were evil, that this was a war, and this justified any tactic. This is a surprise to Stranahan when it should not be; it is simply Breitbart’s mindset, of a Manichean conflict, where your opponent is more brutal, more evil than Al-Qaeda, brought to bear on conservative rivals.
From “Twittergate Reality Check Part 4: Dangerous Paranoia”, where Stranahan deals with accusations by Bayne, Howard, as well as another Twittergate victim who is referred to sometimes as Michelle and sometimes by her twitter handle @ZAPEM57, that he, Brandon Darby, and fellow Breitbart writer Mandy Nagy (@LibertyChick) are informing on conservatives for the FBI:
Honestly, I have no idea how crazy they are. They seem pretty crazy. Let’s recap : Brooks has told people that Brandon, Mandy and I were planted by the FBI to spy on conservatives like Brooks. Greg, Brooks and Michelle have all contacted my employer to try and get me fired. They are obsessed.
If you think this is some Twitter battle, understand that they do not. They see this as a literal war against literal traitors and they see me, Brandon, Mandy, Patterico, Malkin, Erickson, Breitbart and many many others as part of that treason. That’s not metaphor for them They mean it.
This next part is frightening in its clear implications – Greg, who claims to be a Christian, rejects any notion of Christian ethics applying to this situation because it’s ‘war’. In Greg’s mind people disagreeing on Twitter is WAR. He and Brooks and their small group of Twitter-gaters believes that. And it’s the kind of war that allows the suspension of ethics.
Again – they literally believe Brandon, Mandy and I are FBI plants.
Therefore, anything they do – any tactic – is okay because in their minds, it’s just self defense. They are defending themselves against a greater threat and they are the ‘real conservatives’ – and apparently, they are the arbiters of who those real conservatives are.
So, maybe to you reading this it’s a Twitter fight. To them, it’s not. And to the people being targeted here, it’s definitely not.
It was part of this attitude where your enemies must have been behind any action, and where any casual association must be someone in league with your enemies, that a clip of the SWAT call to Patrick Frey was put along with a clip of the journalist Ron Brynaert, implying that Brynaert was the man behind the SWAT calls to Stack, Frey, and Erickson. Brynaert was an eccentric journalist who had been looking into the mysteries surrounding the Weiner scandal, and at some point he was placed in the Kimberlin-Rauhauser axis. He was on Stranahan’s chart and he was listed in Kimberlin Unmasked.
A progressive blogger, Matt Osborne (his blog: Osborne Ink) would put together his own compilation of the clips of the Stack call, the Frey call, and the prank caller onto Stranahan’s podcast along with clips of Brandon Darby, implying that it was Darby who had made the SWAT calls: “Could SWAT-gate Be Another Right Wing Prank?”. Osborne was soon added to the Kimberlin-Rauhauser axis and listed on Kimberlin Unmasked.
To my ears, Brynaert sounds nothing like the SWAT caller. Rauhauser does not sound anything like the SWAT caller either. For those who wish to hear either man speak at length, Brynaert was a guest on the podcast “Disorderly Conduct” on April 29th, 2013, while Rauhauser called into the same program on November 20, 2012. As for the other comparison, the voice of Darby and the Stack SWAT caller sound so similar that I get mixed up between them – this does not mean that Darby is Stack’s SWAT caller. I hear less resemblance between Darby and the caller to the Stranahan podcast, and there is one fact that goes unmentioned in the youtube clip that makes it difficult for me to believe the podcast caller and Darby are the same: Darby was Stranahan’s podcast co-host58, and I cannot imagine Stranahan being unable to recognize the voice of his co-host, even if it were disguised.
Amidst these internecine struggles, other Breitbart followers had their own issues. In January, 2012, Dana Loesch would applaud on her radio show those U.S. soldiers who had pissed on Taliban corpses, saying she would not only happily join in, but reward them one million cool points59. Her husband would accuse CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien of being an anti-semite60. At some point after this, Loesch stopped appearing on CNN, though the network denied she had been blackballed61. After the death of Andrew Breitbart, she would sue Breitbart.com to get out of her contract, which she claimed had placed her into indentured servitude limbo. The contract required her to continue working at the site, yet the company itself prevented her from accessing the site itself, thereby keeping her bound to Breitbart.com while preventing her from writing for Breitbart.com. Loesch would allege in a lawsuit that the site’s workplace environment had become increasingly hostile and that her relationship to the site had gone tragically awry62.
Those were the allegations of Dana Loesch, and then there were the allegations of Nadia Naffe. In 2010, James O’Keefe had just had his huge, and perhaps only, success with a video depicting employees of ACORN, an advocacy group for the poor and disenfranchised, offering advice on how to launder money and manage O’Keefe’s underage hookers. The videos were deceptively edited, and O’Keefe would end up owing six figures from successful lawsuits by the employees, but at the time it didn’t matter – there was no in-depth look at how the videos had been edited because the press gave no damns about the people ACORN helped, so the organization shut down and O’Keefe, a man with a face like jagged flint and the squinty eyes of Lee Harvey Oswald, got famous63. With his newfound prominence, he set up an organization devoted to documenting liberal corruption, Project Veritas. Their first sting target would be Congresswoman Maxine Waters, whose husband sat on the board of OneUnited, a bank with a history of mismanagement which had received $12 million in TARP funds. You had to wonder at the choice of target – was this because of the $12 million in TARP funds, which were a fraction compared to what was given to larger banks that had engaged in corrupt practices in mortgage securities, or was it because Waters, whatever her flaws, did fight for poor people and did fight for the causes of the Congressional Black Caucus? 64 O’Keefe hired Naffe, a woman of African, Malaysian, and Native descent who’d sued the GOP over racial discrimination (they settled) for the operation. Naffe posed as a constituent of Waters’ South Central district, got in to see her, and explained that her problem was issues with her bank – OneUnited. A hidden camera caught Waters’ expression souring, and this was enough for O’Keefe to get money for his next project65.
John Fund, a contributor to Fox News and the Wall Street Journal editorial page, was worried about voter fraud. He was sure the Massachusetts Service Employees International Union (SEIU), a fraternity of janitors, health-care workers, and other mostly low wage earners, would try to steal the 2010 special election for Ted Kennedy’s seat. The SEIU, according to Fund, would charter special buses to bring minorities in from Rhode Island and New Hampshire for easy democratic votes. “If you’re black or brown,” wrote Fund, “they’ll rope you in and take you to the polls66. Billionaire Foster Freiss and his son, Steve, wanted to investigate this, and were looking for black/latina conservatives who could go undercover and record being picked up by one of these buses. Naffe would be their black/latina conservative, and though she followed and questioned various SEIU members in her guise of an inquisitive black/latina voter, no one knew anything of any secret bus operation. Though O’Keefe was involved in the operation, he wasn’t on the ground in Massachusetts, as he was busy in New Orleans getting arrested for gaining entry to Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu’s office under false pretenses67. He followed up this achievement with an invite to CNN reporter Abby Boudreau for an interview, whereby he hoped he could lure the reporter to a docked boat filled with sex toys. O’Keefe’s plan was to film himself trying to seduce Boudreau, but the reporter got advance warning from a nervous O’Keefe associate, and Boudreau backed out of the meeting, gave a detailed account of the plan for the sting – listing the fuzzy handcuffs, dildos, blindfold, that were to be used as props – and managed to destroy whatever was left of O’Keefe’s reputation. Andrew Breitbart, who considered the liberal press more brutal, more evil than Al-Qaeda, this time sided with the terrorists: “I believe James owes them a candid and public explanation.” Breitbart, blushed: “From what I’ve read about this script, though not executed, it is patently gross and offensive.”68
In September 2011, Naffe was brought in on an operation that might return O’Keefe to glory. The operation was To Catch A Journalist, a project to show the world that liberal communications professors were racist partisans who hated the Tea Party. Naffe would pose as a student, infiltrate NYU (an elitist institution, said O’Keefe) and meet with professor Charles Seife (a racist, said O’Keefe), who she would record saying some unsavory something. Naffe managed to find Seife and the meeting went swimmingly: he dropped a previous appointment to give her a tour of the campus and arranged to set her up with an African American mentor69. O’Keefe and Naffe would need another appointment to get this guy. Two weeks later, O’Keefe picked up Naffe and drove her to where she would stay the night, his family’s barn, or: Project Veritas HQ. The barn was filled with high quality computers and surveillance equipment, paid for by donors like Foster Friess. There was one incongruous detail in this production studio: lit candles everywhere. According to Naffe, she settled down to drink one of the beers they’d bought on the way over, and started feeling woozy, as if she’d been drugged. She tried to escape the barn, but ended up crawling around on the floor, nauseous, finally smashing a glass jar that held a candle to make clear to O’Keefe that she was serious about wanting to leave, now. She would be driven back to the train station that night70. Naffe’s part in Operation To Catch A Journalist was over, but it didn’t matter; based on its reception, maybe it should have been called Operation Dismissive Laughter71.
She would share what had happened that night with O’Keefe’s mentor, Andrew Breitbart. According to Naffe, he would tell her that O’Keefe lacked sense and that he had no control over his protégé’s behavior. When Naffe had returned home from the barn, allegedly she had found her panties missing. When she told Breitbart about this, she claims he made a joke about it: “Nadia, he stole my panties too.” The accusations would be a part of the last weeks of Breitbart’s life. On February 24, 2012, David Shuster would mis-state that O’Keefe was facing rape allegations – Naffe’s harassment complaint against O’Keefe had been dismissed in December, and she was threatening a civil suit against O’Keefe for false imprisonment72. Breitbart would reply in his usual calm, collected manner: “There is no ‘rape plot’, you slanderous, libelous wannabe Media Matters smear junkie”. Five days later, he would have a conference call and an email exchange with Vested Protection Systems, a New Jersey security company, about dealing with various adversaries, including Neal Rauhauser and Nadia Naffe: [REDACTED, see footnote]73 Later that night, Breitbart would mockingly re-tweet from a restaurant bar a jibe predicting his downfall: “Follow @nadianaffe to find out about her story of assault. This is going to take down @JamesOKeefeIII and possibly @AndrewBreitbart.” The message would be his last to the twitterverse. A while later, a few blocks from the bar, he would fall to the concrete and die74.
The next month, Patrick Frey would go after Naffe and her claims with a hammer and tongs. He would tweet: “Do they have taxicabs in New Jersey? Is the “barn” in a taxicab-free zone?”; “I’d be very interested to see how far you’d have to walk from the “barn” to meet a taxicab. Miles? Yards? Feet? Inches?”; “@ElectMarcoRubio Hahahahahaha! Even you are calling it the “rape barn”! I Love it. Yes: I ask: WHY NOT CALL A FREAKING CAB?!?!”; “@ElectMarcoRubio It’s hardly false imprisonment if the “rape barn” is feet from the street and you could easily catch a cab. Am I right?”75
Frey would look up her deposition from her lawsuit against the GOP, then he and his blog commenters would discuss in-depth the medical history revealed in the testimony76.
Comments by Frey:
Interesting points in comments about the medications she was taking, and how those medications don’t mix well with alcohol. One of the medications, Seroquil, is commonly prescribed for schizophrenia, mania, or bipolar disorder – all afflictions that may well not be temporary. If she was still taking the medications in late 2011, it could explain why she allegedly had such a strong reaction to alcohol.
She was taking Seroquel, as indicated in the third deposition. It is used to treat schizophrenia, mania, and bipolar disorder. The attorney says in that deposition that “she survives with that medication,” and it’s a reasonable question to ask whether she still takes the drug. Taking it with alcohol is not recommended and can increase Seroquel’s side effects, which can include drowsiness, agitation, dizziness, fatigue, weakness, lethargy, irritability, nausea, and shakiness.
Apparently the Prozac and Ambien was what she was taking on the first day of the deposition, but then she became distraught after the first day, and her psychiatrist then prescribed more serious medicine, including the ones described in my previous comment.
A commenter at his blog, SarahW:
Holy heck. Well, that kind of illness would explain her jumbled interpretations of language that would not confuse others, and her mental insertion of serious threats into generally benign remarks/situations.
If her condition has worsened, perhaps it might explain why her own friends do not quite recognize her at the moment. It might even account for some of her peculiar difficulties with spelling and syntax (far less present in her earlier tweet history and blogging.)
Of course just plain old malice and stupidity might account for it. Though in my own case I usually just blame mypopia/presbyopia [sic] and floaters.
Why is that after reading this I get the feeling Nancy Pelosi is going to call another meeting and we are going to have to listen to Nadia giving Congressional Testimony telling us how America needs to provide all young Republican Women, Seroquel, Prozac, and Ambien free of charge.
and free taxi-fare if drunk, company or school computers , legal advice, rape-barn kits, twitter accounts. . . wait . . . i think all/ or most of that was/is available to her.
Damn! And it would have been a big comeback hit for Whitney, too:
The bitch, the bitch, the bitch … the bitch is whack!
I’m wondering if Patrick’s pondered follow up will relate to Seroquel’s use as a “date rape” drug?
I’m also wondering what proportion of cunning and malice is in theer [sic] with the crazy. Could she have meant to set up o’keefe, or did she just go ’round the bend?
“She discusses bouts of depression (explains it as a cause for leaving employment), and she discusses anxiety in parts 2 and 3 above.”
Sarahw – I wasn’t trying to be critical. I haven’t made it through 2&3 yet. I see the anti-depressants, anti-anxiety, and sleep meds combo commonly in this area, not necessarily an indicator of serious serious probs.
OT – In an example of great thinking, some women like to drop the booze for the pills cuz the pills don’t have calories. Preserve girlish figures by getting hooked on benzos!
Naffe would threaten to report Frey to the State Bar and the county attorney’s office for writing posts critical of her and her case77. She would file suit against Frey over invasion of privacy and defamation. Naffe’s complaint would be dismissed with prejudice on April 19, 2013. She would allege that Frey was acting in the capacity of a state attorney when he wrote his blog or dismissed her claims on twitter; the judge, George Wu, would note that Naffe had “not cited any case which comes close to suggesting that what Frey allegedly did here would amount to such state action.”78 Naffe would allege that she suffered financial damages, lost work, and incurred medical bills because of health problems suffered because of what Frey said about her case, but she could provide no evidence of any of this79. Were you to take a Manichean perspective, you would be forced to choose between Naffe and Frey, but you needn’t. You could find Naffe’s lawsuit a ridiculous waste of everybody’s time, and also find something repellent in the dissection by Frey and his commenters of a possible sexual assault. Chris Faraone would write the definitive account of the Nadia Naffe saga, in addition to detailing many of the players in the Kimberlin-Breitbart war, with “The Trials of Nadia Naffe”, and I have happily relied on much of Faraone’s work for this post. Faraone’s piece was sympathetic in its portrayal of Naffe, so Faraone was added to the list of collaborators at the Kimberlin Unmasked website80.
If the dismissal of the Naffe case might be considered a sort of terminus for the rivalries between the Kimberlin and Breitbart clans, another crescendo could be found in the month before Breitbart died, in the court hearing over Seth Allen’s contempt complaint against Brett Kimberlin. Seth Allen, the radical left blogger who also ran a chemtrails conspiracy forum, was the one who had supposedly related the bombshell of Kimberlin’s past to the Breitbart tribe. During his time in jail, Kimberlin had acquired a detailed knowledge of the legal system, and he was able to put it to effective use against adversaries. Kimberlin sued Allen for defamation, as well as a protective order and an injunction against Allen, who he claimed was stalking him81. Allen in an email to Andrew Breitbart, Mandy Nagy, and Patrick Frey, would suggest that he murder Kimberlin. At the defamation hearing, Allen would be arrested by police over the threat, but would be let go without being charged. Kimberlin was, however, granted an injunction against Allen, which restricted Allen from writing anything about Kimberlin. Allen ignored this injunction, which led to Kimberlin filing the contempt charge, which led to a hearing on January 9th, 201282.
A lawyer who went by the pseudonym “Aaron Worthing”, who guest blogged occasionally at Patrick Frey’s Patterico site, and who also ran the controversial blog Everybody Draw Mohammad, in which people celebrated free speech by drawing images of the prophet, offered to help Seth Allen in his legal disputes with Kimberlin. Worthing didn’t disclose his name to the court, instead working anonymously. Kimberlin would get the court to disclose Worthing’s real name: Aaron Walker. After the hearing, Kimberlin would record an image of Walker with his iPad, and Walker would react by grabbing the iPad from him, and giving it to a courthouse deputy. Kimberlin would claim grievous injury: “He took my iPad away from me, hit me in the eye, sent me to the emergency room,” Kimberlin would tell Alex Pareene. Kimberlin filed a peace order, which would prevent Walker from threatening, harassing, or contacting him. Walker would charge Kimberlin with perjury over claims of injury when he grabbed his iPad83.
Walker would write to his employers at PHRI (the Population Health Research Institute), a health care staffing firm, about what was taking place84:
I write to you today to let you know that I believe I am about to be the subject of a campaign of harassment. Indeed the persons behind this might have already made an attempt to contact one or more of you. I regret that any of this has happened, but as I think you will see by the end of this I did nothing to deserve this.
The ringleader of this group is Brett Kimberlin. Mr. Kimberlin is a convicted terrorist known as the Speedway Bomber.
He is also associated with Neal Rauhauser, and Ron Brynaert. Both men have served as a pipeline for information that Mr. Kimberlin wants to put out into the public, including court documents and they have both served to gather information and to harass people for him.
So why are they interested in me? Because I helped a man that they hated.
You see, despite his checkered past, Mr. Kimberlin has been accepted back into polite society. He is a minor political mover and has been known even to meet with congressmen to discuss policy. He founded a organization called Velvet Revolution and is deeply involved in the Occupy Wallstreet protest movement.
But a man named Seth Allen learned of his past and made it his personal crusade to make sure the whole world knew who Brett Kimberlin really was. And for that, Kimberlin sued him, for defamation, in Maryland. Bear in mind, as far as I can tell Seth never defamed him – he simply told the truth about him. In the middle of this I learned of Seth’s difficulty and provided just a little legal help. I am not a Maryland lawyer, so there wasn’t much I could do for him, but I gave him some very general tips and discussed how he might find a Maryland lawyer, pro bono. I felt a Christian duty to help this man in need, and I fear I am about to pay for that act of kindness.
I did all of this under an alias, Aaron Worthing. I took what I considered to be reasonable steps to keep this from affecting me in real life, but these men went on a crusade after me.
Brett Kimberlin contacted me threatening to subpoena information from Google to determine my real name (he had a pair of private gmail addresses connected to me) and eventually carried through on that threat.
Over the Christmas holiday, I had to prepare to file a motion to defeat this. Despite being very sick with the flu, I had to force myself to obtain local counsel pro bono and then file a response designed to prevent him from obtaining my true identity.
But this morning I have learned that he has obtained my true identity. I am uncertain how he has done so. He apparently filed a motion with the court mooting his subpoenas because he had my true identity. I am attaching a copy of it, because if you just look at it you will realize the man is a stalker. All he had to do was to tell the court that he had my true identity – he didn’t even have to name me. Instead he not only put out my name in this document, but also where I went to high school, the fact I dropped out of high school, the fact I had to sue the LSAC (the company that runs the Law School Admission Test), my home address, and my current job.
[More darkly,] one night last summer someone called the police and falsely claimed that Mr. Frey had murdered his wife at around one in the morning. The caller asserted that he was in the house and Mr. Frey was armed and dangerous. The police came out en masse and treated him, pretty much as if they thought he killed his wife. They came with their guns pointed toward him and it was a situation where one wrong move might have gotten an innocent man shot.
So knowing their patterns, I fully expect these men to call one or all of you to complain about me. I have virtually no doubt this will occur, which is why I am writing to you today, so you know the character of these men. They will spin a series of lies and half-truths about me.
One of Mr. Kimberlin’s many convictions in the past is for perjury and I have caught him red-handed committing perjury again. I am frankly going to try to get him incarcerated for this conduct. I want him off the streets.
I regret that this is even necessary, but I hope that when all your questions are answered you will realize that I did nothing wrong to get into this unfortunate position. I provided a little bit of help to a man who was in a lot of trouble and this is my punishment for my good deed. I feel that all of this is equivalent to riding a subway and making the mistake of making eye contact with the wrong person. And I hope you will be understanding and sensitive to this situation.
On January 16, 2012, Walker would be terminated as a result of his various blogs and his lack of productivity in the office. An email sent out upon his dismissal85 by counsel for his employer, PHRI:
Thank you for agreeing to have the laptop and other company property picked up by a courier today. I will have someone from Laser Courier out there later this afternoon. As for your property, we will take all of the property identified in your email out of your office and delivered to your address by courier no later than Wednesday. To that end, we have confirmed that you were not reimbursed for any expenses related to legal publications, other than the health care publications, so all of those books will be included in the package that we deliver to your home. We note, however, that the fact that you might need any of your personal reference materials, which you have kept in PHRI’s office, to draft a complaint in private litigation is not the responsibility of PHRI. Also, unless you have a deadline for filing your complaint this week, which is almost certainly not true, then you will be able to make use of those materials in plenty of time to draft your complaint.
It is unfortunate that you still do not grasp the gravity of what you have done, and the risk that you have created for your co-workers at PHRI. If the situation is serious enough for you to alert no less than two local police departments, then it is serious enough for PHRI to protect its employees and prohibit you from returning to its offices. If you have any ability to empathize with the concerns of PHRI’s personnel, you would not even attempt to return, even after hours. Apparently, you chose to start a blog for the express purpose of showing disrespect to the adherents of a major religion, which could be calculated to incite violent reprisals on the part of the most extreme elements of a major religion, which could be calculated to incite violent reprisals on the part of the most extreme elements of that religion. You also wrote disparagingly, even if accurately, about at least one person that you have described as a “terrorist.” Perhaps that is the reason that you did so under a pseudonym – and understandably so given the threats leveled against others who published material that is considered offensive to such people. Now that your identity has been revealed, however, anyone with whom you associate can be considered a potential target. Thus, PHRI has a duty to act in ways that keep you from further exposing its employees to such risks. Finally, you write that whatever you fear you have created is “beyond all rationality.” If that is true, then why did you call the police, and why do you possess firearms? You cleverly denied possessing “handguns” in your email, but you did not deny possessing firearms of any kind. Whatever second amendment rights you exercise, it can be assumed that self-protection under the current circumstances is one of the primary reasons that you do so.
As for the reasons for your termination, while PHRI would have been justified in terminating you for your grossly irresponsible actions related to your blogging, especially on company time (many of your posts bear time stamps during normal working hours) the actual reason for your termination is the incredibly irresponsible way that you performed legal services for PHRI (or failed to) over the past four years, both as an outside attorney and, since July of 2011, as an employee of PHRI. As I mentioned to you on Friday, the state of your office is almost beyond description. Most of the legal documents in your office are piled haphazardly in no less than five legal sized paper boxes, without regard to any kind of organization, filing, chronology, etc. The few files that were actually stored in your file cabinet are not filed alphabetically or by subject matter. Even those appear to be incomplete and provide no basis for determining what actions were taken or remain to be taken to conclude the matter. It is also obvious that most of the work that you did in that office, as revealed by the stacks of documents on top of your desk, relate to personal business, including your various blog activities. In fact, it is difficult to determine what you were working on for PHRI over the last few weeks, if anything.
If you are willing to agree to the terms set forth in general above, I will draft an agreement for your review. We would like to get it done by Wednesday, along with the return of your property. If you are not willing to enter into such an agreement, please let me know immediately.
p.s. To respond to your personal question to me, no, I was not afraid of you when I met you in the lobby of my building (although I did not know that you possess firearms at that time). But I met you in the lobby to avoid the appearance of you having any association with the company that provides me with office space. You chose to poke at a group that is known for violent reprisals, apparently in the name of asserting first amendment rights (even though the U.S. Government is not involved in suppressing cartoons about Mohammed). And you were fearful enough of your adversaries to alert the police in two counties. So it would be unreasonable for you to condemn common sense efforts to protect those who have nothing to do with your activities as “beyond all rationality.” In hindsight, do you still consider you “Everyone draw Mohammad” blog to be rational? If so, I would not consider you to be a credible appraiser of rationality.
A later email would demand that Walker make explicit that he no longer had any association with PHRI86:
Apparently your chickens are beginning to come home to roost. We have been informed that PHRI will be a target of protests and formal diplomatic actions if the groups behind those actions are not informed immediately that you are no longer employed by PHRI. Under the circumstances, we believe that you have a duty to prevent any involvement of PHRI in the situation that you have created. To that end, we demand that you immediately and continuously post prominent notices in every publication to which you contribute, including blogs, online magazine, newspapers, etc. that your employment with PHRI was terminated effective January 13, 2012. If you fail to do so, you will be liable for any damage incurred by PHRI and/or its personnel arising out of your activities and publications. Please copy me on all announcements that you publish in accordance with this demand.
A later email reply from Walker:
This is the last time I am going to let you interrupt my evening with my wife.
If you want me to share your concern or your sense of urgency, or if you want me to convince anyone else to share it, you have to provide me with information. If you would like me to promise as a condition of sharing that information, that I will not publicize what you tell me, I am amenable to that. I will want to share the information with law enforcement if that becomes necessary, but I will not publicize it. But you are asking me to do a favor for a company that has treated me and my wife very shabbily based on blind faith and I am not prepared to do that.
Also please inform Eileen [one of the employers at PHRI] that she is not to contact my mother-in-law any more. If she has concerns for our safety, she can communicate them to us – through you, I suppose.
I apologize for interrupting your evening with your wife. I was not aware that sending email to your account could be so disruptive.
As to the issues at hand, you have not addressed our demand that you publish an announcement concerning the termination of your employment. We can only take from your refusal to respond that you will refuse to do so. As you are well aware, that refusal to confirm your dissociation with your former colleagues will tend to put them in harm’s way. If the publication of your name, address, and place of employment in court filing constitutes an overt threat on your life, as you have asserted in writing, your refusal to announce that your employment at PHRi has ended is no less threatening to the people who still work at your former place of employment. So we ask you one more time to locate your conscience, put the well-being of others ahead of your curious concept of your self-interest and let your enemies, real and/or imagined, know that you do not work at PHRI any longer. Your former colleagues and those that care about them may have good reason in the future to thank you for it.
This, I think, is an appropriate terminal point for the Kimberlin-Breitbart feud, though it took place a month before Breitbart died, in that it captures the squalor at the heart of it. I quote extensively from the letters between Walker and the counsel for Walker’s employer because they capture the perspective of those bystanders outside the fever dream. Those inside are part of a heroic Manichean struggle, while from without a bystander sees only collective lunacy.
When you read the deposition given by Seth Allen during one of the court hearings in his legal battle with Brett Kimberlin, you are given a picture of frail human detail, details entirely absent from hard, exclusively political conceptions of an individual, someone who is either left or right, for or against me, but details of people that have almost entirely disappeared in the news. The underemployed, the unemployed, the struggling, are ever present, and yet they are vanished away from most political discussions, and this vanishing allows for the cruelest, most devastating policies to take effect. I do not quote from this deposition out of any attempt at sadism or attempt to humiliate Allen, but to give some sense not just of Allen as a man, and not simply a player in a feud, but also to give some sense of what might be called the invisible life of the United States87:
THE COURT: What kind of disability are you talking about? Do you have, is somebody a guardian, a legal guardian of your person as opposed to —
MR. ALLEN: That —
THE COURT: — your property
MR. ALLEN: That, yes. They, the person on that, on that cover letter, he has control of my funds. There is, and I have contact with a social worker who, who also has, covers, does the people with the disability trust. And, I mean, I, I’m kind of, I’m not, I’m not, I’m at a loss for words, but I’m, I’m not, I’m going to have, it’s called an adjuster. And they’re going to, I guess, I, they, I’m going to meet with, with him or her four times a year. And I’m going to try to find a better place to live, get some counseling, things like that.
THE COURT: Are you living on your own now?
MR. ALLEN: Yes, I am.
THE COURT: Okay.
MR. ALLEN: I, I asked, I guess, it’s hearsay. I, I’m not sure, but it, it appears that no one, no one can get a disability trust unless they’re disabled.
THE COURT: Okay. Are you —
MR. ALLEN: I —
THE COURT: — living in an apartment, home? What’s, what is your home setting?
MR. ALLEN: I have an apartment. I mean, I mean, I’m functioning. I don’t have a job. I haven’t, my resume is kind of full of cheese, Swiss cheese. And I’ve been blogging the last years. I was a high school teacher and I finally went into the job, and, but then the World Trade Center, right after that happened, they let me go and they never explained why. And it’s a Massachusetts law that they don’t have to explain within, like a month, when they let a new teacher go. And the year before, I had been the house substitute teacher and I just had no explanation. And it, it kind of, my teach, it was very difficult to get a high school social studies job. It is just the toughest, most competitive discipline. I worked at, at a mortgage company for a bit. My mom got diagnosed with cancer in 2001, and that’s where I picked up Internet skills, searching. And I know I’m kind of rambling, but, I don’t know. I think I need, I think I never got bereavement counseling, because my mom held on for about six weeks. She had ovarian cancer, but she didn’t die from that. She actually died from starvation. So actually, and I was visiting her a lot. So I should have — I’m not sure. I’m not an expert. I can’t diagnose myself. But, but I’m under the impression that someone in Massachusetts cannot have a disability trust unless they are disabled.
THE COURT: Do you see a psychiatrist or mental health care provider on a regular basis?
MR. ALLEN: No. I’ve been kind of wallowing, and that’s why I apologize for never taking this more seriously.
THE COURT: Okay. Do you have a lease where you live?
MR. ALLEN: Yes, I do. The, the trust covers it. They’re trying to make the, the money last so, for, for as many years as possible.
THE COURT: Did you sign that lease or did the trustee sign the lease?
MR. ALLEN: I, I don’t remember. They, they do pay it, they directly pay that, my electricity. They pay all my bills. They give me a $200 a month allowance, and I’m collecting food stamps. I mean, I’d like to get a job. I’d like to be a, I’d like to be functioning better.
A reader might think this is a thorough, exhaustive, or even too exhaustive (in all senses) detailing of these petty fights, when it is only a fraction of the battlefield, where a battle took place, is taking place, now. Reading about these feuds, trying to make sense of what happened and the reason for someone’s upset, makes one feel as if one were in the midst of the worst of worlds, high school with all the drama and none of the hot sex. Alex Pareene captures it well in his valuable piece, “Brett Kimberlin versus right-wing bloggers”: “This is how deeply vexing it is to try to write about any of this: It just keeps getting stupider.” You read one angry subplot which connects with some past grievance, and has to do with some mysterious figure or fight known to everyone involved but that you’ve never heard of. It feels like a Baby Geniuses sequel that’s also a nine hour adaptation of The Mahabharata.
These feuds continue on, even now. This past February, Bill Schmalfeldt, a liberal blogger and military veteran who suffers from Parkinson’s, was charged with harassment by Aaron Walker, Patrick Frey, and a third plaintiff, conservative blogger William John Joseph Hoge. The application for a peace order was filed in Westminster, Maryland. On February 28th, the order was denied. Hoge would suggest they should have a “Everybody Blog About the Howard County MD State’s Attorney Day”88.
In the year since Breitbart’s death, his news site would try to break several scandals, and all of them were ignored if not outright laughed at. There was the revelatory video of Barack Obama hugging a Harvard Law professor. “The Obama college tape – wasn’t that a major letdown?”, asked the usually overexcitable Glenn Beck, “This thing came out and it was like, ‘The. Last. Story. Andrew. Breitbart. Did: Very. Important. Video.’ And you’re like…’Not so much.'” There was the breaking news that Paul Krugman had filed for bankruptcy, sourced from an Onion-esque parody site. Ben Shapiro tried to destroy Chuck Hagel’s nomination as Secretary of Defense by accusing Hagel of taking money from the group Friends of Hamas – a group that does not exist, the story a throwaway joke by another reporter which Shapiro heard about, took very seriously, and attributed to unnamed “Senate sources”; there was an irony in this last one, since Breitbart appears to have plagiarized what he writes about the Frankfurt school in his memoir Righteous Indignation from an essay in an old publication by the ardently anti-Israel Lyndon LaRouche89.
James O’Keefe was supposed to be the vanguard of a new young conservative movement; he’s now six figures in debt from various ACORN related lawsuits and his conferences on citizen journalism bring out the angry sixty year olds whose major ideological battle is that they have ice on their driveway90. Greg Gutfeld, another of Breitbart’s proud discoveries, was supposed to draw youth to the GOP. Major stops on this forty-nine year old’s promotional tour for his book, The Joy of Hate, were the Reagan Library and the Villages, a conservative retirement community91.
The only victory the Breitbart tribe could point to with triumph was The New York Times doing a major investigation into the Pigford v. Glickman case, on which Breitbart.com had done several stories, and which they accused the mainstream media of ignoring. May 1st, 2013, was declared “Everybody Blog About Pigford Day”. It was a case that involved settlements given to farmers who had faced discrimination based on race and gender over the awarding of farm loans, and whether some who claimed discrimination had even been farmers, as the settlements were often given out without paperwork proof that the farmers had applied for loans. I think questions raised about some of the problems in Breitbart.com’s reporting can be raised with the Times story as well, but this is incidental to what anyone can notice of Breitbart’s causes, which is that they so often focus on the marginal and least well off of society as their targets, that what might have been spoken of in another time as “ethnic peoples” are always the villains92. Their successes were closing ACORN, an advocacy group for the poor, making Van Jones lose his job, making Shirley Sherrod lose her job, forcing a jewish congressman to resign, and an investigation into fradulent settlements for black farmers. Nothing about bank fraud, the worsening condition of the middle class, neglect of veterans, or the gaming of the political system by a few very wealthy players. Their targets almost always had a racial edge to them, a resentful sense that someone out there was getting special favors or favored treatment while you were falling further behind – no journalism was undertaken with the specific attempt to keep people, even the very people who were the intended audience for this race baiting, middle class white people, from falling further behind.
This was explicit and obvious in the life of someone like Lee Stranahan, a reporter for Breitbart.com who had serious problems with his teeth and could not afford the dentistry to fix them. He would make the following post to his site, “Announcing: The Dental Fund”:
I have a really awful mouth.
If you’ve never met me in real life, I’m being serious here. If you have, you know. Huge dental problems. Tons of missing teeth. I started to have work done a few years ago but I lost my dental insurance halfway through the process so they did the extractions and not much else, leaving me with a mouth full of nothing but shame.
There are lots of things that are borderline acceptable in American society but missing teeth ain’t one of ’em. You can be bald and look cool. You can be fat and presentable. Missing teeth make you a hillbilly or a hockey player or a hillbilly hockey player.
Fixing my teeth hasn’t been a financial priority because other stuff always seemed to be more important than me looking socially acceptable. Feeding and clothing my children, for example. However, I’m at a point where I feel like my inability to smile openly is holding me back – so I’m starting a specific dental fund; money that’s going to finishing extractions and getting dentures or something.
There are two ways you can help…
1) Just give money out of the goodness of your heart. I don’t expect anyone to do this, really. No hard feelings if I don’t raise a dime this way.
2) The REAL thing you can do is hire me or buy something from me. You name the price and you just donate it straight to the dental fund using the PayPal button below. Again – you name the price because it’s a donation.
It was also there in the life of Wayne Mann. Breitbart would name two people for why he was first drawn to political writing on the internet. Mann is the one that is almost never mentioned:
The Clinton alt group was my favorite, and it really exemplified what the early Internet was all about.
There were two regulars who were really vocal on the alt.Clinton group. One was some guy named Wayne Mann, who hailed from a place called Arroyo Grande. I signed up for his e-mail list. Every day, he would send out these massive e-mail files of articles that compiled all the data that was available about Clinton, whether related to Whitewater or Casa Grande or any of the other myriad scandals cropping up around Bill and Hillary at the time.
The other regular, the well-known name that would have such an influence on Breitbart, was Matt Drudge. Mann would be almost entirely forgotten, and his life will not be looked into here, except for this excerpt from his mailing list, The Political Digest, that was still going in 2004, where he asks his subscribers for help to pay for his medical bills. From TPD Vol 10-L040315 (Tue, 16 Mar 2004 15:27:55 -0800):
Folks, here’s where we are. I am going to try to restart the e-mail version of TPDL. However, let me be very frank about the entire situation. Over the last couple years the subscriber base which had been fairly stable at slightly over 1000 subscribers had gradually gone down to slightly less than 500. MOST of the loses have been because the address becoming unusable, not because of people unsubscribing, although there were a very few of those. I am wondering whether there are enough subscribers to continue the e-mail version? — Or if the subscriber base can be increased greatly in a short time. If the current subscribers will help increase the subscriber base, I would appreciate it. Also many of you may know some of the subscribers that their address went bad because of moving or whatever, and if you would remind them, they may wish to re-subscribe?
As most know in the last couple years after having an abdominal aneurysm burst and having my Aorta and both Iliac arteries replaced, I had the large riding lawn mower flip over backwards and pinned me down after breaking five vertebras, then it flipped again, pinned me down and caught fire, melted the three gallon talk of gas, I had just filled and burned me from the waist down, requiring almost a month in the Burn Center. (I still have one wound about the size of a half a dollar, right where I set, that won’t heal.) — Next I had an freak accident with a ladder, falling and braking four ribs and collapsing a Lung. However, that might have been lucky, since in doing the Cat Scan for that they found I had Cancer in one Lung, which they removed half of that Lung. The problem with that is, about 20 years ago, I developed a Heart problem that reduced the blood pumped to the Lungs by about 50%. The combination of the two, reduces the ability to breathe by over 60%, so now I use Oxygen at night as well as other medications.
The point is I have ran up enormous medical bills that Medicare only pays part, leaving me with far more than I can pay, even in payment, since my only income is Social Security. As you will recall I used to charge for TPD, but stopped and used to get some donations frequently. However, that has virtually stopped completely. Which brings me to a question. what would everyone opinion be about charging for the e-mail version, say $49.00 per year? — Or do you have a better idea. I would be interested in as many opinions as I can solicit from you. I just don’t know what to do, and would very much appreciate your help.
He was still very much a hard-right conservative at this time. One newsletter item carries the editorial note that the “Black Caucus are Socialists at a minimum”. One piece brings up the possibility that islamic terrorists were behind the Oklahoma City bombing. Many of the items are by Joseph Farrah from World Net Daily. What relief, if any, arrived for Mann is unknown. The link for background and free subscription information on the mailing list has the following note:
Note of 2005-Jun-11: as far as I can tell, Wayne Mann has been completely incapacitated or deceased since April 25th 2005. In the year preceding that, Wayne’s medical problems had worsened, and TPDL [The Political Digest Lite, Mann’s newsletter] had become sporadic.
The note is presumably by David Pouzzner, who hosts the mailing list along with the contents of his on-line book, The Architecture of Modern Political Power: The New Feudalism. Though the book is about the powerlessness of the American citizen before the octopus of power, it is a right-wing text. Whatever the truth of what took place, it is not difficult to believe an older man in the United States being unable to pay his medical bills after an accident, then incapicitated or dead for want of treatment.
For all the aggressive energy directed at so many targets, all for the enjoyment of an angry white middle class, it gave no material benefit to Lee Stranahan, Wayne Mann, or anyone else in this group. Others lost, others were humiliated, and yet even the winners in these fights kept losing. They were perhaps looking to have a heroic life in diminished circumstances that conferred nothing heroic or noble. You turned to Blood Feud by Lisa Alther, a very good account of the senseless fight between the Hatfields and McCoys, to find some answers that would also be answers now. This feud may have taken place after the civil war, but the intensity of the fight could not be rooted in the war. It was a violent senseless fight, but only one of many feuds of the time. Alther struggles to find some answer for what took place, in the history, the culture, even the genetics of those who fought so viciously and purposelessly. There is one part of her analysis that struck me as relevant to this fight now, though I don’t consider it or present it as anything like a final answer. It has to do with the rapid change in the cultural life of the families in the region, as they slowly ceased to be able to claim the surrounding land as their own, but instead had to cease to act as if this land was everyone’s as large companies began buying it up for development:
But beneath all this seemingly incomprehensible violence lay anxiety. Their culture of freedom and autonomy was becoming extinct-and they knew it. When you have no land of your own, you have no domain over which you are sole ruler. You are no longer the master of your own fate. The world as they knew it was crashing to an end.
Outsiders were building a railroad up the valley. If the young men were to have a role in the emerging economy of large-scale lumbering and coal mining, they had to change their entire way of life, morphing into wage laborers who went to work at a certain time every day, all year round, always performing the same tedious and often dangerous tasks. Such a life was unthinkable for young men accustomed to relaxing when they wanted and to working at a variety of jobs, according to the weather, the season, and their own whims.
Feuding gave them a chance to do something heroic. They could ride out in gangs and right what their leaders told them were wrongs. They could showcase their courage and their skills with weapons and horses. They became a generation of hillbullies-and they were proud of it.
You are told that Tao Lin’s Taipei is a striking depiction of the way we live now93, and yet it seems entirely the inverse of what took place here, is taking place now. The tone of Lin’s book suggest a protagonist who has already died, and finds himself in a purgatory that is exactly like the life he was passing through, only he and those around him have had some essential anima removed. The book ends with the explicit possibility that the protagonist has died, and yet his ongoing life remains ongoing – he is so enervated that we have no clue whether this is life or death. Much has been made of the book’s autobiographical quality, and the writer’s languid style has given rise to a “Tao Lin is autistic” meme, so if I had any meme generating powers, I suppose this would be the start of the meme, “Tao Lin is dead”. The book’s most memorable passage, for me, is when the protagonist has a sudden revelation that virtual computer life has become autonomous, and humanity exists now only to be transformed into the abstract life of this new realm, the dead material for a phosphor screen mausoleum94. It is a striking passage, but one that I think is clearly false, felt to be false the moment your mind leaves the book, false the moment you read anything by those raging at each other in the Breitbart-Kimberlin feud. Taipei wasn’t how we lived now, this was how we lived now: helpless anger at whatever man or woman made a suitable victim, anger as our lives spun out of control, an angry energy that perhaps could not make a better life, but could at least fight back at what felt like an overwhelming force, felt by almost everyone now, that treated you like someone already dead. This anger declared simply: no, I am alive.
David Weigel, who shows up at various points of this four part epic, would write about the on-going shenanigans of this clump of misfits, in “The Weirdest Story About a Conservative Obsession, a Convicted Bomber, and Taylor Swift You Have Ever Read” for The Daily Beast. The opening: “Considering that he was being sued, and considering that this court date was the culmination of two and a half years of legal warfare, Aaron Walker seemed to be enjoying himself.” One of the last lines belongs to Robert Stacy McCain, one more member of what might be called the Breitbart collective: “It’s going to be endless lawsuits for the rest of their lives. And that’s what it ends up being. I sue them. They sue me. They come into court. I sue them. They come into court. That’s the way it is.”
(This very lengthy post was intended to be the last part of the series, but no, there will be a fourth. It was published July 3rd in slightly rough draft form, and will receive a few edits on the 4th – the essential ideas and details will not change. The details on Wayne Mann were added on July 18th, 2013. On April 12, 2015, this post underwent a copy edit.)
PSYCHOSIS IN A POLITICAL MASK
1 It was Preston’s investigation that would turn up the striking fact that two teenage girls who followed Anthony Weiner did not exist, and that a copy of a fake driver’s license and letters supposedly written by the girls were manufactured in order to convince some reporters, briefly, that they existed.
At least three months before the revelation that former Representative Anthony D. Weiner was sending lewd messages and photos to women online, a small group of self-described conservatives was monitoring his exchanges with women on Twitter. Now there is evidence that one or more people created two false identities on Twitter in order to collect information to use against him.
A Twitter user employing a fake name posed as a 16-year-old California high school girl in May and tried to get Mr. Weiner to be her prom date, according to people with knowledge of the communications and a review of documents. The person behind another Twitter account created under a fake name claimed to be her classmate and offered to provide the group with incriminating evidence about Mr. Weiner.
One Twitter user the group observed seeking to interact with Mr. Weiner was called “Nikki Reid.” She started an online campaign to get Mr. Weiner to be her prom date at Hollywood High School in May, using the account @starchild111. Within days after Mr. Weiner started following her, a Twitter user, also using a fake name, Marianela Alicea, and pretending to be Nikki Reid’s classmate, contacted a member of the #bornfreecrew and said she had information about Mr. Weiner, but never provided any.
But there is no evidence that either girl exists. There is no Nikki Reid or Marianela Alicea enrolled at Hollywood High School. In response to requests from a reporter from the blog Mediaite, a woman claiming to be Nikki Reid’s mother provided documentation to substantiate her identity and her daughter’s identity. But records show the street address the woman provided does not list anyone named Reid as an occupant. State officials in California have confirmed that the driver’s license this woman provided to Mediaite was false, as well.
The @starchild111 Twitter account, which was deleted two weeks ago, was created in September. There were very few posts on the account until March, when the fictional Nikki Reid began posting comments about admiring Mr. Weiner, including:
“Tweeps my progressive idol @RepWeiner is following me. Today is the best day ever!”
“Today also marks day one of my campaign to get @RepWeiner to be my prom date.”
“Will you be my prom date @RepWeiner.”
“Everyone please please follow @RepWeiner and tell him to be my prom date.”
Then, in what seems to be an elaborate ruse, the Twitter user claiming to be Nikki Reid and then a woman claiming to be her mother contacted Tommy Christopher, a correspondent for Mediaite, the media blog. After first communicating online, Mr. Christopher said, the woman dismissed claims of incriminating evidence against Mr. Weiner and accused members of the #bornfreecrew of harassing her daughter and her daughter’s friend. The woman also made a statement, which offered a forceful defense of Mr. Weiner.
She repeated this by phone to Mr. Christopher, who insisted the woman provide documentation confirming her identity. The woman faxed over a copy of a California driver’s license with her name, Patricia Reid, at a Los Angeles address, as well as school identification for the girls. But it turns out that the driver’s license and the school identification were fake, according to California state officials and school district officials.
2 One of the better dismissals of the Sherrod case is “Breitbart lied about Shirley Sherrod. Now he’s lying about the NAACP.” by William Saletan.
4 From “Weiner press conference: The New York congressmen apologizes for his Twitter scandal.” by David Weigel:
Weiner’s disclosure went further than anything he’d been accused of so far. Even so, he insisted that this was a sex scandal with no sex. There’s no reason to disbelieve him, apart from the fact that he spent 10 days lying. The picture of Weiner that emerged this week was of a publicity hound who was more concerned with celebrity and status than with actual sex.
“I’ve engaged in several inappropriate communications with women I have met online,” Weiner said. “I’ve exchanged messages and photos of an explicit nature with these women over the past few years. For the most part, these communications took place before my marriage.”
The details of Weiner’s online life, as they trickle out, are absolutely pathetic. Based purely on what he’s admitted, and what ABC News has confirmed, Weiner spent some real time flirting with female fans, taking photos of his body, and passing them on. We know that Clinton talked on the phone while receiving blow jobs at least three times. Weiner isn’t accused of any behavior that interesting, but now everyone who’s dealt with him can ruminate: What the hell was he doing as we talked, or after we talked? It’s pure humiliation.
5 From “Anthony Weiner’s press conference substitutes copious apologies for copious lies.” by Jack Shafer:
Weiner owes me no apology for his serial lies because I understand that that’s what politicians do when they’re cornered by their fibs or unseemly behavior. I’m not even sore with him for scapegoating the press over a problem of his own making. That, too, goes with the territory. Nor am I outraged that he went onto national television to attempt to cover up his lies, telling Rachel Maddow that he wasn’t “trying to be evasive” and he just didn’t “know” whether the tweeted drawers photo was of him. For me, when the mass of lies equals the mass of apologies, the whole package congeals into some new sociopathic form for which there is yet no name. (Weinerite, perhaps?) That he was caught lying about his personal life, and not about public policy, doesn’t really matter to me. By demonstrating that he’s as good a liar as he is an apologizer, Weiner tells us everything we need to know about him.
From “Andrew Breitbart’s Unfinished Quest for a Punk Rock Republican” by Elspeth Reeve:
It’s sort of fitting that his biggest accomplishment — at least by his terms — was taking down Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner not for some government scandal, but for sexting. Weiner didn’t resign for breaking laws or even his marriage vows, but simply for looking like an idiot. He had, at least for one Congressman in New York, reversed the hardfast cultural dynamic that the Frankfurt School had deviously orchestrated.
6 I’ve written a number of posts on this consultant; a good introduction might be “He Hates You: A Profile Of Stuart Stevens, Mitt Romney’s Media Assassin”.
7 From “Anthony Weiner’s Cardinal Sin: Rank Hypocrisy, Not Creepy Sexting” by Stuart Stevens:
He narrowly won his first race, for a seat on the New York City Council, after anonymously sending voters race-baiting fliers. That’s never a pretty sight, but considering he did it immediately after the Crown Heights riots, it puts him in the same slime bucket where anti-Semitic tax cheat Al Sharpton wallows.
The race baiting that Weiner was involved in was described by Steve Kornacki in “The dirty trick that launched Anthony Weiner’s career”:
It was at this point that Weiner’s campaign decided to blanket the district with leaflets attacking his opponents. But these were no ordinary campaign attacks: They played the race card, and at a very sensitive time. They were also anonymous.
Just weeks earlier, the Crown Heights riot – a deadly, days-long affair that brought to the surface long-standing tension between the area’s black and Jewish populations – had played out a few miles away from the 48th District. The episode had gripped all of New York and had been national news. It was just days after order had been restored that Weiner’s campaign distributed its anonymous leaflets, which linked Cohen – whose voters he was targeting in particular – to Jesse Jackson and David Dinkins, who was then New York’s mayor. It is hard to imagine two more-hated political figures in the 48th District at that moment. Jackson just a few years earlier had called New York “Hymie town,” and it was an article of faith among white voters in Weiner’s part of Brooklyn that Dinkins had protected the black rioters in Crown Heights – and thus endangered the white population – by refusing to order a harsh police crackdown. (Two years later, Dinkins would lose to Rudy Giuliani by an 80-20 percent margin in the 48th District.) The leaflets urged voters to “just say no” to the “Jackson-Dinkins agenda” that Cohen supposedly represented. At City Hall, Dinkins held up the flier and branded it “hateful.”
It’s impossible to say what precise effect this all had on the election, but it clearly didn’t hurt Weiner. In a surprise result, he finished in first place – 125 votes ahead of Garson, and 195 ahead of Cohen. Only after the ballots were counted did he admit that he’d been behind the leaflets, claiming that “We didn’t want the source to be confused with the message.” This prompted an editorial rebuke from the New York Times, which noted that “Mr. Weiner’s hit-and-run tactics tarnish his come-from-behind campaign.”
Weiner’s apology for this is brought up in “Anthony Weiner Apology Letter To Adele Cohen From 1991 Race Revealed” by Paige Lavender:
Long before former Rep. Anthony Weiner ran for Congress, he launched a campaign that made him the then-youngest New York City Council member in history at age 27.
But his big 1991 city council win didn’t come smoothly. Weiner’s upset victory came days after he sent out a race-baiting flier depicting rival Adele Cohen as being a puppet of Jesse Jackson and David Dinkins.
The quote from Stevens about the Willie Horton ad is from an interview with Jules Witcover, from a site, The Buying of the President, that is currently down, and may never be up again. Below are the screenshots from the page of Stevens’ interview.
The segment dealing with the Willie Horton ad:
How do you feel about both the independent-expenditure committees and 527s, in terms of losing control of your own campaign?
I hate it.
Talk a little about that.
Like the Swift Boats. I remember when the whole Swift Boat thing, everybody in the [George W.] Bush world was furious, and sort of stunned. People don’t believe this, but it’s true.
So it’s not enough to be able to say, “Hey, that wasn’t ours, and we had nothing to do with it – we didn’t talk to anybody.” You are getting nailed with it anyway? Is that the problem?
Oh, yeah. People do nail you with it. And most of the time they screw it up, in the sense that they don’t do what you want to do. And I remember in the Swift Boat thing, I had been working on this ad, just kind of noodling on my own, where it was very straightforward. “John Kerry came back from Vietnam and he said this.” And then I had just a clip of it. It said, “What do you think?” That was it. And then the Swift Boat people came in.
But it didn’t go after the element of his service in Vietnam?
No. And they entered the argument on the medals issue, which I always felt was the worst way to argue that. Like should he have gotten two medals instead of three? It’s just insane. And so I felt that by entering the argument at that point, they had discredited the argument. And the one thing you could say about someone like Karl [Rove], Karl likes to control things. Not in a bad way, but in a “we don’t like stuff just to happen.” And all of us, I think, were like, “What?” I certainly didn’t know anything. I don’t think anybody knew anything about it. It’s just kind of you wake up one morning, and it’s like, “What?” I remember the phone ringing, one of the 6 a.m. phone calls, you know whatever it’s going to be it’s not going to be good. It’s like, “Have you seen this?” And so, I mean, people say the Swift Boat thing hurt Kerry. Maybe. Maybe the way they handled it hurt him. But I thought the “Ashley” ad that was done mainly in Ohio by the 527s, you see that where Bush is embracing this girl whose mother had died in 9/11. He did the Willie Horton ads, Larry [McCarthy]; he did it. I thought it was a very good ad, fabulous ad.
9 I discuss this in-depth on my post on this novel, “Scorched Earth by Mitt Romney’s Chief Strategist Stuart Stevens”, under the section “Ross Barnett And George Wallace”.
10 That Barack Obama’s decision to opt out of public financing in 2008 and 2012 both led to the Romney defeat and destroyed the system of public financing for federal elections is made in many places by Stevens.
From “Stuart Stevens, Romney Adviser, Says 2012 Was Not A Fair Fight” by Jeb Ward:
Stevens, however, had a ready list of reasons why the 2012 result was out of his — as well as Romney’s and the campaign’s — control.
He talked at length about President Barack Obama’s money advantage: “Obama raised $1.2 billion. So you think about it, the next incumbent president will raise, what, $2 billion?” Stevens said. He argued the next incumbent candidate will “face a challenger … who will probably come out of the [primary] process broke.”
“We’ve abolished the four-year term,” he concluded.
But like Obama destroying the public financing system for elections, once you let the genie out of that bottle, good luck in getting it back inside.
From The Center Holds: Obama and his Enemies by Jonathan Alter:
Stuart Stevens wasn’t buying it. While he took public responsibility for what went wrong (“Blame me for everything,” he said repeatedly), he never regretted his basic strategy. He called the decision in early summer on whether to defend and humanize Romney or to stick with the economic theme “a kind of Sophie’s choice.” He recalled that when focus groups were shown warm and fuzzy ads about Romney, their reaction was, “That’s nice, but I’m not looking for a friend. What’s he going to do as president?” Stevens would have liked to stress both themes but said that after the bruising primaries, the Romney campaign had only $4.2 million in the bank on May 1, not enough to repel the Obama onslaught. He argued persuasively that Obama had not taken enough grief for opting out of public financing of his fall campaigns in both 2008 and 2012, breaking a limitation on money in politics that had been observed through the previous eight presidential elections. “When public financing was passed [in 1974], it was said that without it, no incumbent president would ever be beaten,” Stevens concluded. “There was a lot of truth to that.”
Stevens is explicit that he wanted the Bush campaign to opt out of public financing for the 2000 presidential primary. From The Big Enchilada. The scans of the book from which these sections are taken follow the excerpts:
Nobody knew how much the Bush campaign could raise. But the campaign faced a key decision – whether or not to reject public financing for the primary. The law went like this: Under a complicated formula, the feds would match individual primary contributions up to $250, provided a campaign agreed to limit their spending to an overall figure of #37 million.
There was one other catch. The FEC – the Federal Election Commission – required that if you took public financing, you had to limit the amount you spent in each state based on a convoluted scheme that no one really understood, including the FEC. This was a monumental headache and, if enforced, potentially fatal. The danger was that if somebody else had a ton of money and rejected public financing, it freed them up to spend as much as they wanted in a given state and left you vulnerable. In our case, that somebody was Steve Forbes.
In 1996, as media consultant to Bob Dole in the primary, I’d been forced to watch Steve Forbes pummel us with millions of dollars of television we couldn’t answer. Forbes, who chose his parents well, was spending his inheritance at a furious rate. And having rejected public financing, he had the ability to spend unlimited amounts of money in any state. Forbes transformed himself from a quirky editorial writer with a goofy smile and a rich dad into some kind of political death star, slaughtering all in his path. At one time in Iowa, he had ads attacking Dole, Lamar Alexander and Phil Gramm, who was already dead (Forbes was the only guy who didn’t realize it). Forbes could have established himself as an interesting intellectual gadfly raising the level of debate, much as he had tried to do as an editorial writer. Instead, for reasons only his shrink could answer, he decided that for once in his life, he would be the toughest kid in the schoolyard.
Eventually, he flamed out, but in 1999 he was back. And once again he had rejected public financing, setting the stage for him to spend his seemingly unlimited family fortune whenever and however he desired. The word was that Forbes actually thought he could win this time, a testament to the powers of human self-delusion.
Then there was the small matter of money, in part because of the fact that we were ahead in every poll, the campaign was raising unbelievable amounts of money – $33 million for the first reporting period. The number was so big, reporters literally gasped when Don Evans, the campaign finance chairman, announced the total. The campaign had decided – thank God – not to take public money. This freed us up to do battle with what we figured would be a forty-million-plus assault from Forbes.
11 This strange travel memoir, including the relationship between Stevens and former model Rachel “Rat” Kelly, is discussed in the post “Feeding Frenzy, A Book By Stuart Stevens, Chief Strategist For Mitt Romney”.
13 Stranahan gives his account of how he started working for Breitbart in the post “Sell Out: How I Started Working With Breitbart”. This is a list of his work at the site. Recent pieces include “Greenwald Defenders Distract from Real Story: There Is No NSA Scandal”, “Timeline: Snowden’s Collaboration with Left-Wing Reporters”, “Fast Food Workers Strike for $15/Hour Wages” (“The entitlement culture has hit the local fast food joint, as strikes and protests are popping up all over the country”), “CNN Launches Dishonest Attack On Clarence Thomas–To Protect Voter Fraud”, “Black Conservatives Speak out on Illegal Immigration”, “Pre Memorial Day, Obama Made Political, Manipulative Speech To Military”, “Rep. Steve King: ‘I Have No Moral Obligation’ To Help Illegal Aliens Stay In USA” (“In an exclusive interview with Breitbart News, straight talking Rep. Steve King (R-IA) makes a seldom heard argument that cuts to the heart of the immigration problem.”), etc.
15 The best piece on KYAnonymous and Steubenville is “‘Weaponize the Media’: An Anonymous Rapper’s War on Steubenville” [archive link] by Adrian Chen. Lee Stranahan makes an appearance in “Weaponize”, and though I think there could have been fuller mention of his strange idea that non-consensual sex can be anything but brutal, and his outing of the identity of a tangential sex abuse victim in the George Zimmerman trial, I make the perhaps unnecessarily full disclosure that I submitted this story to the valuable site Longform.
From “Guilty Verdict in Steubenville Rape Case that Saw Anonymous Terrorize a Town” by Lee Stranahan:
Breitbart News spoke exclusively to Frank Bruzzese, an assistant prosecutor for Jefferson County, Ohio who assisted in the early stage of the investigation. Bruzzese says that when Anonymous became involved in the story in they created an vigilante atmosphere that had dire consequences for both the case and the people of Steubenville.
“The internet lynch mob did damage to their own stated goal of helping the victim by putting her in an international spotlight that only served to humiliate her. Anonymous claimed to want justice but their threats had the opposite effect; by calling for the scalps of eyewitnesses and other completely innocent people, the result was a hampered prosecution where people were afraid to testify and where the judge was forced to grant three witnesses immunity.”
Anonymous promoted a pack of rumors that spread like wildfire on the internet, involving complex conspiracies involving what they termed ‘a brutal gang rape’ in Steubenville. Bruzzese says “For months now, I’ve watched the internet lynch mob spin a tale from nothing. They sold the media a story where an girl was drugged, carried from party to party in the trunk of a car, photographed by dozens of party goers as she was raped at series of parties, urinated on and finally dumped on the front lawn of her parent’s house. The trial showed that none of that was true.”
The actual story, disturbing enough on its own was far less salacious than the Anonymous embellishments. Why did a sexual assault that involved three drunken sixteen-year old in a small Ohio town became major news? The narrative that the media pushed is a mixture of an easy to explain premise: Friday Night Lights with rapists meets cultural Marxism, taking cues from academic radical feminism and just good old Red blooded hatred of the United States. Steubenville became a way to belittle middle-American values like ‘football culture’ and to promote the idea that America, distinct from the rest of the world, foments ‘rape culture.’
16 From “Anonymous Sensationalizes Steubenville Rape Case” by Lee Stranahan:
Now, Breitbart Bews [sic] has confirmed that users of another Anonymous-related Internet board, 4Chan.com, have released the full name of the alleged accuser, along with photos of her, and have argued that she “deserved it.”
18 Screenshots, via “Breitbart Unmasked: The Most Blatant, Baldfaced Liar I’ve Ever Known”, by “LiberalGrouch”.
19 From “Trayvon, George, Witness 9 & Other Obama Political Casualties” by Stranahan.
20 Stranahan’s list of articles at the Huffington Post is here. He would often write for Huffington from a conservative, pro-Breitbart perspective. Some articles include “The Odd Timing of Shirley Sherrod’s Lawsuit Against Andrew Breitbart “, “The Congressional Black Caucus vs. Black Farmers”, “The Media’s Failure to Report on Pigford Hurts Black Farmers”, etc. His list at Daily Kos is here. His time at Kos may have ended controversially, as he says he was banned by the site for making too mentions of the John Edwards scandal. This got him some mainstream notice, with a mention by Mickey Kaus when he was still at Slate, “MSM Rebels on Edwards”: “The Daily Kos has banned longtime blogger Lee Stranahan for writing calm, clear-headed posts assessing the evidence in the John Edwards scandal”.
I’m a writer, teacher, filmmaker, photographer, tech geek. My wife Lauren and I have lot of kids that we unschool. I worked on the left and wrote for The Huffington Post until I met Andrew Breitbart and my life changed. I worked with Andrew exposing Pigford, Occupy Wall Street and the institutional left. After his loss, I’m trying to carry on his legacy and change the culture. I write about news and politics for Breitbart News.
Shortly after Breitbart’s untimely and unfortunate death, I wrote something that still holds up. It would have been great, I wrote, if Breitbart’s sites had aimed for higher-quality journalism. Wrote libertarian press critic Jack Shafer in his obituary, “I liked the idea of Andrew Breitbart better than I liked any of his work at Big Government, Big Hollywood, Big Journalism, Big Peace, Breitbart or Breitbart.tv.” And no wonder. What are the best 10 pieces published in the history of those sites? You’ll find more quality work in a single issue of City Journal than the sum total of everything Breitbart wrote, commissioned, and published in his whole career. That magazine laid the intellectual foundation for a renaissance of conservative ideas, policy successes, and cultural transformation in New York City — as hostile a territory as there ever has been for the right.
[Nick Carney, a Wasilla City council colleague of Palin’s] had a wry sense of humor. He was fond of joking that he’d graduated from Wasilla High School in the “top 20 percent”–by which he meant he was valedictorian of his five-person class. Sometimes Palin was the only colleague who didn’t get his jokes. “I don’t think he had too much patience for her lack of understanding,” says John Stein, then the town’s mayor. In internal discussions, Carney would be relentlessly logical while Palin was vague and intuitive. “Nick had a way of being direct and to the point, something that Sarah was uncomfortable with,” recalls Chase. Which is to say, when it came to garbage removal, what Palin seemed to have chafed against was less the substance of Carney’s position than what she felt was his elitist, Ivy League bearing. And, over the next few years, she found ways to get him back.
These days, Palin is engaged in this same fight against elites, though on a considerably larger stage. “I’m not one of those who maybe came from a background of, you know, kids who perhaps graduate college and their parents give them a passport and give them a backpack and say go off and travel the world,” she recently told Katie Couric. “No, I’ve worked all my life.” That hardly makes her the first politician to run on class resentments–nearly every conservative from George W. Bush to Mitt Romney has sought a bond with voters by attacking the over-educated and entitled. But more often than not these conservatives are elites themselves; hence the spectacle of Yale legacies and Harvard millionaires (and most of the Fox News executive suite) railing against wine-swilling sophisticates.
Palin, by contrast, may be the first conservative politician since Nixon to experience resentment so authentically. For her, it’s not so much a political tool as a motivating principle. A trip through Palin’s past reveals that almost every step of her career can be understood as a reaction to elitist condescension–much of it in her own mind.
24 This is not the first post where I’ve had critical things to say about Friedersdorf; “Conor Friedersdorf: An Almost Irrelevant Man” was written in the wake of the Newtown shooting, and it is me at my angriest and least sympathetic.
“Is Ayn Rand a Better Philosopher or Novelist?”, an exchange between Friedersdorf and Garance Franke-Ruta.
The post “The Satanic Bible and Ayn Rand” covers the connection between these two.
Along with many conservatives, Breitbart frequently complained that the mainstream media and academia are race-obsessed, and that leftists behave abominably when they accuse their political opponents of being racist, one of the most discrediting charges in American life. Yet the Drudge Report, where Breitbart got his start, frequently exploits America’s racial anxieties in its content, and Breitbart himself famously accused the NAACP of racism based on a misleadingly edited video of Shirley Sherrod speaking to a gathering of its members about her experience with white farmers (to whom she initially felt antagonism, but eventually chose to help).
The Breitbart.com staffer of today could cite Breitbart’s life as evidence that race-baiting is especially immoral, or that it is an effective tactic for attacking the left to avenge similar attacks on conservatives. The contradiction in Breitbart’s behavior means neither claim is entirely right or wrong.
26 From Indignation:
While the crux of a story can be weaponized and launched on one of my websites, there are often peripheral angles that can be developed elsewhere with a separate but related media life of their own. For instance, the acorn story was unbelievably complex. A key component of exposing the scandal was a detailed analysis of ACORN’s structure and its past scandals. I knew legal minds were needed to weigh in on these aspects. Patrick Frey, who runs the indispensable Patterico website, created a parallel line of attack, not just against ACORN, but against its myriad defenders, who lied and misdirected to try to kill the story.
CNN is adding three new people to its “Best Political Team on Television,” in advance of the 2012 elections season.
Cornell Belcher (pictured right), Dana Loesch and Will Cain will join the network as political contributors, and will appear on the network’s primetime and dayside programming, as well as on other platforms.
28 From “James O’Keefe’s plans derailed by infighting, lack of funding” by Ken Vogel:
After pulling off the brazen hidden camera sting credited with bringing down the liberal organizing group ACORN, James O’Keefe dreamt up an even bolder plan: to build a permanent undercover video operation that would expose institutions of the American left.
But things have not gone according to plan.
The mounting turmoil comes as O’Keefe’s recent efforts – including an apparently ongoing media bias exposé called “To Catch a Journalist” and an effort to highlight the hypocrisy of Occupy Wall Street protesters – have mostly fallen flat.
From “First They Came for James O’Keefe” by Caitlin Dickson:
Fresh off of three years probation for entering federal property under false pretenses (the office of Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu), O’Keefe can’t help but be a little excited that a member of the so-called mainstream media is on his side of the firing squad.
29 From “Inside the Collapsing Media Empire of Deceased GOP Sleaze-Peddler Andrew Breitbart” by Mark Ames and Max Blumenthal:
In every way Joel Pollak of the 1990s was a different creature, conforming to the politics and mood of the Clinton era: Photographs of Pollak as an undergrad show him proudly sporting an expansive “Jewfro” – he looks much happier and almost likeable, if not human, in his Jewfro. Pollak was a Democrat student activist in his undergrad years. Another photograph shows young Joel Pollak, with his Jewfro cropped, smiling as he screams in unison with other pro-Clinton activists protesting against the Clinton impeachment hearings.
Before falling under the sway of Tony Leon’s [a South African politician] race-baiting neocon politics, Pollak was a Clinton Democrat. When he left South Africa in 2006, Pollak says, he had become an opponent of the concept of majority rule – which in the context of South Africa means opposing black rule.
30 From “Inside the Collapsing Media Empire of Deceased GOP Sleaze-Peddler Andrew Breitbart” by Mark Ames and Max Blumenthal:
Ben Shapiro – known variously as “Virgin Ben,” “Tali-Ben,” or simply “Genocide Ben” – has constructed for himself a biography that makes him look like some sort of prodigy wunderkind. One thing Ben wants to stress is that he was 16 years old when he started college at UCLA.
“I’m twenty-one years old, a heterosexual red-blooded American male, a graduate of University of California at Los Angeles, a student at Harvard Law School, a nationally syndicated columnist, a bestselling author…and a virgin. And I’m proud of it.” -Ben Shapiro, “Porn Generation”
31 This very strange moment in Breitbart’s memoir is described in “Andrew Breitbart: Psychosis in a Political Mask Part Two” and “Noxious Irritation: Andrew Breitbart’s True Hollywood Horror Story” by Mark Howard.
32 The strange case of Riad Hamad has remained obscure. Brandon Darby’s point of view is given in his essay for Breitbart.com, “Thoughts from a Former Leftist Revolutionary: A Day at the National Holocaust Museum and Memorial”, published January 12, 2012:
At one point in my past I helped a group named the Palestinian Children’s Welfare Fund raise money and find individuals to travel to the Palestinian territories to be human shields against the “evil” Israeli Defense Forces. The group’s then-leader, Riad Hamad, even slated me to go there on multiple occasions. Thankfully, I never went.
My perspectives began to change over the years, and I began backing away from the groups I had been close to. That backing away was even more prevalent with Palestinian/anti-Israeli groups. At one point, Hamad had approached me and shared that he had been able to skim off money that he intended sneak to Palestinian comrades in Israel. I asked him why he needed to sneak anything when he was able to send funds legally. He responded with a detailed analysis of all the ways suicide bombers could get through checkpoints and achieve their goals. I declined and he told me that I had fallen back into my white privilege, but would come back to the revolution soon.
I was torn. I no longer saw Israel as the clear aggressor as my sources of knowledge broadened. Even in the worst days of my revolutionary fervor, the killing of civilians would not have been okay with me. I couldn’t sleep. and I debated within myself if I should go to the FBI. Anything involving the FBI was taboo in the world I had been so devoted to for so many years.
Then two things happened that made my mind up for me. Another activist who knew Hamad came to see me and told me that he had been approached about setting up a fake business to help Hamad funnel money for Palestinians. That told me clearly that Hamad was going about his plans with or without me. I called Hamad and asked him to meet me for coffee. He agreed and we met. I told him that it wasn’t okay for him to ask someone else to do what he had asked of me, especially considering he hadn’t told the other activist why he was doing it and what the possible consequences would be. Hamad responded by saying it would be good for white people to get caught in the war on terror and that people would limit what the government could do if the war on terror had whites in Guantanamo instead of just Arabs.
I ended up meeting with the FBI. They were kind and gracious. Hamad and the Palestinian Children’s Welfare Fund were raided. I heard from Hamad one last time. He called me and said it was “just a matter of time.” I asked what he meant. He told me of the raids and said they had taken all of his documents, and that I would know soon. He said he had to go and he did.
His body was found in Austin, TX in Lady Bird Lake a few days later. He apparently chose not to face the consequences of his actions. There’s a lot more to it all and in how it all went down, but I spent the next two years working undercover with the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in the International Terrorism Division. I did so because I owed it to our country and our allies. It cost me a bit, but I was and am proud to have done what I could to pay back those I might never know how much I’ve wronged.
From the few accounts of the Riad Hamad case, the best is “The Uneasy Death of Riad Hamad” by Michael King:
According to Austin Police Department Sgt. Joe Chacon, the death of Austin schoolteacher and peace activist Riad Hamad remains under investigation. Chacon says homicide investigators are “open to all possibilities” but that the initial investigation reflects that Hamad appears to have committed suicide. Hamad had been reported missing by his family on Monday night, April 14, and (partly by means of a cell-phone GPS search authorized by his wife) his car was found Tuesday afternoon in a parking lot off South Lakeshore Boulevard, on the south side of Lady Bird Lake. A land and water search turned up nothing more, but a little after 2pm on Wednesday, passersby on the hike-and-bike trail on the opposite (north) side of the lake, just east of the I-35 bridge, spotted a body floating near the shore. Hamad’s eyes were covered in duct tape, his legs and his hands also bound – fueling Internet-amplified rumors that he had been murdered. According to a report that day by KXAN-TV news, “Park-goers who saw the body said the death did not look accidental. They said the man’s face was wrapped with duct tape, and his arms appeared to be tied in front of his body.”
On Thursday, April 17, APD [Austin Police Department] released a statement saying, “The bindings of his hands and legs and placement of the tape were consistent with Hamad having done this to himself.” Chacon told the Chronicle that additional evidence – including a security videotape of the parking area where Hamad’s car was found and statements from persons who knew him that “he had been experiencing suicidal thoughts” – also support a finding of suicide but that police are waiting for completion of the entire investigation, including the full autopsy and toxicology report, which will take several weeks. “For all intents and purposes, as far as we know right now,” Chacon said this week, “this was a suicide.”
Hamad, who was originally from Lebanon but had lived in Austin for more than 30 years, taught business education and keyboarding at Small Middle School, was a graduate student at UT (already with several degrees), and was very active in Austin-based charity work aimed at easing living conditions in the occupied territories of Palestine – most specifically via the Palestine Children’s Welfare Fund, through which he sold Palestinian crafts to raise funds for destitute Palestinian families. He was also very outspoken about international politics, objecting strongly to Israeli and U.S. policy in the Middle East. Partly as a consequence, he had been investigated by federal authorities, who asked questions of some of his neighbors, and in February, the FBI and Internal Revenue Service raided his South Austin home and seized 40 boxes of materials related to his charity work, reportedly pursuant to an investigation of alleged “wire fraud, bank fraud, and money laundering.” Although no charges had been brought, the raid greatly disrupted Hamad’s charity work.
Because of this background and the circumstances of his death, there was immediate but unsubstantiated Internet speculation that Hamad had been assassinated, perhaps by U.S. or Israeli authorities. Imam Dremali also rejected outright the tentative APD finding of suicide. “I don’t believe it,” he told me. “Islam expressly forbids it, and this man had two wonderful children and everything to live for.” Beyond this general suspicion, Dremali declined to speculate who might have murdered Hamad. (In an April 22 radio interview with Austin conspiracy-monger Alex Jones, Dremali declined to join in Jones’ ghoulish fantasies of Hamad’s possible torture, beating, gunshot or stab wounds, and instead confined himself only to describing the visible condition of Hamad’s body.)
Other accounts include “Teacher’s death stuns Clint Small campus” by Ann Fowler, from the Oak Hill Gazette and re-posted at the Texas Civil Rights Review blog, a very critical perspective by Daniel Pipes, “A Palestinian in Texas”, and a more sympathetic one from Greg Moses, “Salamat, Riad Hamad”. A case where a suicide had the possibility of homicide is William Sparkman Jr.’s and this case is related in Rich Shapiro’s “The Hanging”.
Michael May In August 2008, on the eve of the Republican National Convention, Brandon traveled to Minneapolis with David, Brad and a few others in a van dragging a trailer full of homemade shields and other protest equipment. Brandon tipped off the FBI. And as soon as the group parked the U-Haul, the cops raided it and took the shields and everyone else’s stuff. David and Brad were angry about the shields. And they didn’t want to show up at the protest empty-handed. So David McKay says they made eight molotov cocktails in about 15 minutes with supplies they bought from a Minneapolis Walmart.
Michael May What follows is a depressing series of events, no matter whom you believe. David and Brad never used the molotov cocktails. They left them stuffed in bags in a basement while they went out to protest. But Brandon, on behalf of the FBI, asked David what he planned to do with the molotov cocktails.
David now says he didn’t want to lose face with Brandon, so he made up a plan. He suggested that he and Brandon use the molotovs that night on a parking lot filled with cop cars next to a checkpoint. If David wasn’t serious about doing it, as he testified, he made a terrible mistake by telling an FBI informer that’s what he was planning.
Michael May David and Brandon agreed to meet at 2:00 AM. But when the time rolled around, David blew it off. And then he stopped responding to Brandon’s calls. At 4:30 AM, David was awoken by a police officer pointing a rifle at him. He was asleep next to a girl he’d met in Saint Paul. It was around an hour before he was going to the airport to fly back to Austin.
Michael May Since then, both Brad and David have pled guilty to the possession of unregistered firearms, which is what the law calls molotov cocktails.
Brandon Darby Here’s a good one. You’re a whore.
Michael May A few months later, Brandon is sitting at his desk reading emails.
Brandon Darby Brandon, was curious how much money the FBI compensated you for being a sewer rat. Why didn’t you advise and guide your friends towards nonviolence? Why not? Because you must be a brainless, heartless FBI whore. Congratulations on your brilliant career of whoring your soul. I’m kind of envious. Does it pay well to be a whore?
Ira Glass Michael May in Austin Texas. Brad Crowder was sentenced to two years in prison for making and possessing molotov cocktails at the Republican National Convention. David McKay was just sentenced this week. Four years.
From Andrew Breitbart at CPAC 2011, 5:55-6:55:
Recently, I went down with an american hero by the name of Brandon Darby…Brandon Darby was a hardcore left-wing activist who called the FBI and informed on two guys who worked for the radical activist group Common Cause, or Common Ground, and they were planning on bombing the Republican National Convention. Yes, we’re the violent ones in the protest. And the left, including Wade Rathkey…formerly of ACORN…called Brandon Darby a snitch…for saving American lives. I reached out to Brandon Darby and I said, I don’t care what your politics are, you’re an American hero, and I am forever indebted for what you’ve done for this country. And we’ve become great friends, and I flew him out to Los Angeles, and I said, “Do you want to go to a rally with me? They’re really fun.”
Common Ground was the group Darby began with, and Common Ground was not the group that McKay and Crowder were part of, which protested the 2008 Republican Convention.
Other insightful pieces on Brandon Darby and the 2008 convention are “The Informant” by Diana Welch and “How a Radical Leftist Became the FBI’s BFF” by Jack Harkinson. A piece from the time of the St. Paul’s arrests is “GOP convention protesters seek to exclude evidence from upcoming trial” by David Hammers.
34 A transcript of the police report of the SWAT raid on Mike Stack’s home, transcribed from an upload of a copy of the report uploaded by Mike Stack, at slideshow.net via the post “Questioning Proven “SWATTING’s” While Using Rauhauser Tactics To Blame Others “:
SCC requested that the west car contact them. When I called in, SCC advised that Hunderton County communications received a 911 call indicating that Stack, [REDACTED], dialed 911 indicating that he just killed his wife. SCC did not have any other information and advised that they were still obtaining the information that was reported to them by Hunterdon county communications. I contacted [REDACTED] [REDACTED] via phone and advised him of my conversation that I had with SCC. Sgt. [REDACTED] requested that all patrol officers meet up with him at the skillman post office to discuss a course of action at the residence.
Upon my arrival to the post office, I met up with Sgt. [REDACTED] and called into SCC for an update. They informed me that this alleged incident took place with the use of a firearm. SCC also advised that Readington TWP police were also responding to an address in their jurisdiction for the same incident, 30 Mallard CT in the three bridges section of Readington TWP.
Officers [REDACTED] and [REDACTED] arrived at the post office. Sgt. [REDACTED] gave assignments out to all of us. Officer [REDACTED] was to shut down [REDACTED] just north of the residence and then take cover on the north side of the residence. Officer [REDACTED] shut down rte [REDACTED] I was to shut down [REDACTED] just east of Stacks residence and cover the rear portion of the residence. Stacks residence is located on the corner [REDACTED]. While patrol was responding to the residence. SCC advised patrol that Readington TWP did not locate Stack or a victim at the Mallard CT home that they responded too. Sgt. [REDACTED] requested that Montgomery TWP EMS squad be placed on stand by in the event that they were needed.
All patrol officers took positions and Sgt. [REDACTED] positioned his car on [REDACTED] in front of the residence where he (sgt [REDACTED]) and offficer [REDACTED] took cover. Sgt. gave orders to Stack using the P.A. system of the patrol car for Stack to exit the residence. Stack complied to the orders and was placed into handcuffs. Officer remained with Stack while Sgt. [REDACTED] and officer [REDACTED] cleared the residence. No one else was inside of the residence and there were no signs that a shooting took place. Sgt. [REDACTED] informed SCC of our findings and requested that they (SCC) update Readington TWP of our results.
Patrols opened up the roadways. Sgt. Gill and I then conducted the investigation. Sgt. Gill informed Stack of the call Hunterdon County communications received. Stack said that he doesn’t have a gun and that he had never owned a gun. Stack stated that he was being set over the internet and believed that patrol responded to his house as prank. Stack said that he has a twitter account where his twitter ID name is Twitter.com/goatdred. He said that he is constantly “blogging” comments and opinions of political views that take place in the country. He said that approximately 6 weeks ago, he tweeted to a comment made by a male, whose tweet id was PatriotUSA76. That person indicated that his name was Dan Wolfe. Stack did not know if Wolfe was using his real name. Stack said he and Wolfe started “tweeting” around the first week in May 2011.
Stack stated that he believed Wolfe was the original person who discovered that former congressman Anthony Weiner was involved in a sex scandal and obtained the information before the news went public. [REDACTED] The news of Anthony Weiners. Stack said that after the information went public to the news media, [REDACTED] was the original person who obtained the information about Weiners. Stack said that shortly after Wolfe made the comments about [REDACTED], he (Wolfe) could no longer be located on line and the twitter name that Wolfe used as PatriotUSA76 was no longer a recognized ID from Twitter.
Stack said that he has no idea as to why [REDACTED] about Anthony Weiner’s sex scandal. Stack said that ever since the news went public he observed his personal information, i.e. his former D.W.I. arrest, a picture of his arrest for a previous domestic violence incident that was later dropped, a picture of his current residence, a picture of his current vehicle, and his financial history was posted all over the internet, via the web site smokingun and twitter. He said ever since the postings indicated him as the person who discovered the sex scandal of Anthony Weiner, he has been harassed on-line and through his cell phone. Stack said that ever since the news he has had to sleep with a baseball bat next to his bed in fear that someone may try to retaliate against him because of the rumors of him breaking the news of the sex scandal dealing with former congressman Anthony Weiner.
Stack said that he downloaded information to a USB flash drive documenting all of the accusations and e-mails that were sent to him from representatives of smoking gun. When I asked to see the e-mails and some of the articles he was speaking of, Stack stated that his flash drive was at his friend’s house, [REDACTED] Stack said that he would deliver a copy of the flash drive to headquarters within the next 24 hours.
During the entire encounter, Stack was cooperative. When asked about possible suspects, Stack believed that a daily kos magazine writer by the name [REDACTED] (SP) may be responsible for publishing his (Stacks) personal information over the [REDATCED] web-site. Stack said that [REDACTED] is a reporter for the [REDACTED] site and would also tweet about the comments that he (Stack) would make.
Upon my arrival to police headquarters, I followed up with Readington TWP police regarding this incident. I made contact with officer Chris Dewire. Officer Dewire said that his agency responded to Malard CT in their jurisdiction, for a man who had shot his wife in the head. He said they investigated this matter and believed it to be made up. Dewire said that he listened to the original call and described the caller as being a male with an accent, possibly being british. Officer Dewire said that his agency believed that the call originated from an AT&T international line. He said by using an international line the call either originated in another country or that the caller used a broadband connection from this country that made the call appear as if it originated from another country. Officer Dewire said that his agency is still investigating the matter and would contact this agency with any further details.
SCC provided copies of some of the articles posted on the smoking gun website, as well as, a copy of the domestic violence report from Readington TWP dated 07/13/2004. See attached copies.
“John Defanno” was actually a 15-year-old boy named Matthew Weigman – a fat, lonely blind kid who lived with his mom in a working-class neighborhood of East Boston. In person, Weigman was a shy and awkward teenager with a shaved head who spent his days holed up in his room, often talking for up to 20 hours a day on free telephone chat lines. On the phone, he became “Lil’ Hacker,” the most skilled member of a small band of telephone pranksters known as “phreaks.” To punish Danielle, who had pissed him off on a chat line, Weigman had phoned 911 and posed as a psycho, rigging his caller ID to make it look like the emergency call was coming from inside Danielle’s home. It’s a trick known as “swatting” – mobilizing SWAT teams to exact revenge on your enemies – and phreakers like Weigman have used it to trigger some 200 false raids in dozens of cities nationwide.
36 From “Ashton Kutcher, Miley Cyrus & Others Terrorized in Dangerous ‘Swatting’ Prank” by Maria Elena Fernandez:
Deputy District Attorney Patrick Frey, who blogs about his conservative political views, believes he was targeted last summer because of posts he wrote about a convicted bomber. A week after Frey received an email threat, a man who spoofed his telephone called 911 pretending to be him and claiming to have just killed his wife. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office dispatched a SWAT team to Frey’s Lomita home just south of Los Angeles—which is exactly what the caller had intended. By the end of the incident, Frey was in handcuffs in a patrol car and his wife was dragged out of bed by deputies while their children slept.
The same thing had happened eight days earlier to New Jersey blogger, Mike Stack. Someone posing as Stack called three different police departments to say he had just shot his wife. Two of the addresses were old, but one was current, and Stack, like Frey, was led out of his house at gunpoint.
“It’s a very dangerous situation, and I think it’s a miracle that nobody’s been killed yet,” Frey told The Daily Beast in an interview Thursday. “I had police officers pointing guns at me; my cellphone was in my hand. If they had thought I was armed and dangerous, I was one finger-pull of the trigger of losing my life that night. It was very scary. It seemed like it was designed to cause us the potential for being shot and killed.”
On Friday, CNN’s Don Lemon spoke with conservative blogger Erick Erickson about “swatting,” or making it appear as if another, targeted person is making fraudulent 911 calls. And, as Lemon warned viewers, the results could be fatal.
38 This is a reference to Malkin’s cousin, Marizela Perez, who disappeared on March 5, 2011, and remains missing.
“Where is Marizela Perez? Families frustrated when loved ones vanish” by Christine Clarridge:
Perhaps Marizela Perez is hiding out somewhere, gathering the courage to tell her parents she dropped out of chemistry, switched her major to art and got a tattoo.
At least that’s what her parents hope. The alternatives, say Jasmin and Edgar Perez, are too horrible to accept.
Marizela, an 18-year-old University of Washington freshman, was seen leaving a Safeway store on
Brooklyn Avenue Northeast on March 5. She has not been seen since.
Police and her relatives say there was no evidence of an abduction, no note left by Marizela, no indication of what may have happened to the only child, whom her father called “the center of our family.”
39 “OVER IT: Celebrity Swatting Needs To Stop” by Erin Clements and “Celebrity Swatting: A-List Stars Now Fashionable Targets In Hoax 911 Calls” by Anthony McCartney.
Things began to get interesting early Thursday afternoon, when a technician from Prolexic, a company which protects Web sites (including KrebsOnSecurity.com) from denial-of-service attacks, forwarded a strange letter they’d received earlier in the day that appeared to have been sent from the FBI. The letter, a copy of which is reprinted in its entirety here, falsely stated that my site was hosting illegal content, profiting from cybercriminal activity, and that it should be shut down. Prolexic considered it a hoax, but forwarded it anyway. I similarly had no doubt it was a fake, and a short phone call to the FBI confirmed that fact.
Around the same time, my site came under a series of denial-of-service attacks, briefly knocking it offline. While Prolexic technicians worked to filter the attack traffic, I got busy tidying up the house (since we were expecting company for dinner). I heard the phone ring up in the office while I was downstairs vacuuming the living room and made a mental note to check my voicemail later. Vacuuming the rug near the front door, I noticed that some clear plastic tape I’d used to secure an extension cord for some outdoor lights was still straddling the threshold of the front door.
When I opened the door to peel the rest of the tape off, I heard someone yell, “Don’t move! Put your hands in the air.” Glancing up from my squat, I saw a Fairfax County Police officer leaning over the trunk of a squad car, both arms extended and pointing a handgun at me. As I very slowly turned my head to the left, I observed about a half-dozen other squad cars, lights flashing, and more officers pointing firearms in my direction, including a shotgun and a semi-automatic rifle. I was instructed to face the house, back down my front steps and walk backwards into the adjoining parking area, after which point I was handcuffed and walked up to the top of the street.
Brian Krebs’ piece on the cyber-market that may have triggered the SWATting is: “Credit Reports Sold for Cheap in the Underweb”.
41 From “Mike Rogers: CISPA Cybersecurity Bill Opponents Are Teens In Their Basements” by Sabrina Siddiqui:
“People on the Internet — if you’re, you know, a 14-year-old tweeter in your basement … I took my nephew, I had to work with him a lot on this bill because he didn’t understand the mechanics of it,” he continued. “I hear that a lot. Once you understand the threat and you understand the mechanics of how it works and you understand that people are not monitoring your content of your emails, most people go, ‘got it.'”
Rogers released a statement Sunday —
“Last night police investigated a threat to our home in Howell. I appreciate the quick and professional response of the Howell Police Department and the Livingston County Sheriff. While this turned out to be an unfortunate prank, it is a reminder of the the real threats faced by our law enforcement community every day.”
Despite contrary reports, a SWAT team was never called to the scene.
The person behind the swatting incidents at Justin Bieber’s and Ashton Kutcher’s homes is a 12-year-old boy. TMZ reports that the boy who was arrested for pranking 911 authorities into thinking there was an emergency at Bieber’s and Kutcher’s residences comes from an “incredibly dysfunctional” family and that the child “sits at his computer day and night, communicating with other hackers.”
The Los Angeles County district attorney has not officially charged him with the crime. “It’s currently still under investigation; our detectives are in contact with the LAPD detectives in regard to their arrest,” Beverly Hills Police Lt. Lincoln Hoshino said Tuesday.
Bieber and Kutcher weren’t the only famous people who were victims of swatting incidents this year, of course. Miley Cyrus, Charlie Sheen and Simon Cowell were all targeted in 2012 for similar prank calls.
From “Brett Kimberlin versus right-wing bloggers” by Alex Pareene, on the lack of evidence supporting any connection between Kimberlin and Kimberlin “associates”, such as Rauhauser, with the SWATtings:
The SWAT-ing accusations seem particularly irresponsible, as their connection to Kimberlin is incredibly flimsy. The first victim, Mike Stack, had not, as far as I can tell, written about Kimberlin at all. When Patterico was SWAT-ed, it had been months since he’d written about Kimberlin. Kimblerin claims he’d never heard of Erick Erickson and had no clue where he lived.
But most importantly, even if you don’t believe a single word Kimberlin says, no one has ever presented any evidence, at all, that Kimberlin is behind the “SWAT-ing” — at this point, they mainly insinuate it really hard. Or they claim that one of his allies is responsible. Or something. (Erick Erickson said he suspected it was a member of Kimberlin’s “fan club.”) Patterico accused two Kimberlin “associates” of being responsible, though he doesn’t even have evidence that they’re “associates.”
44 Seth Allen’s site, “Dave from Queens” is named in tribute to another activist, Dave Weintraub who died in his late thirties from a heart attack. He is memorialized by representative Mark Cohen in two dailyKos posts, “Dave Exemplifies Passions Nurtured In Queens” and “More Thoughts On Political Passion In Memory Of Dave From Queens”. Weintraub’s most visible moment was probably when he questioned whether ESPN sweetened audience sounds to drown out boos at sports events where former president George H. W. Bush was a guest: “Does ESPN Cheer Republicans?” by Carl Bialik:
There are more insidious things about ESPN than “boo-yah” and an unhealthy obsession with Terrell Owens, according to David Weintraub, a 35-year-old blogger on Daily Kos. A part-time teacher and part-time law student, Weintraub became an instigator of controversy last week with a post about ESPN’s broadcast of a Monday Night Football game between the Falcons and Saints-the first NFL game played in New Orleans’s Superdome since Katrina. Weintraub’s charge: ESPN piped in fake cheers for former President George H.W. Bush as he took the field for the pregame coin toss, even as the crowd booed him heartily.
From “The Trials of Nadia Naffe” by Chris Faraone:
In August 2011, Kimberlin had expanded his counter-attack by filing suit for defamation against an obscure blogger from Massachusetts
named Seth Allen, who claimed to have fed the Speedway “bombshell” to Nagy a year earlier.
From “Progressives Embrace Convicted Terrorist” by Liberty Chick / Mandy Nagy. I would recommend reading this, especially on the links between Friedman and Kimberlin, with some skepticism.
The story behind Velvet Revolution begins with musician-activist turned immigrants’ rights defender turned voting rights activist, Brett Kimberlin, who also runs the “Justice Through Music Project (JTMP).” According to journalist Brad Friedman of the Brad Blog, he and Kimberlin co-founded Velvet Revolution together, a detail Friedman has specifically noted in a number of posts such as this one from 5/31/2007.
Once dubbed “The Wizard of Odd” by Time Magazine, you may recognize the name Brett Kimberlin for much more than Justice Through Music or Velvet Revolution, especially if you’re from Indiana. That’s because in 1981, Kimberlin, then the owner of vegetarian restaurant Good Earth, was finally convicted of a week-long bombing spree in Indianapolis, IN in which eight separate bombs caused extensive property damage, destroyed a police cruiser, and severely maimed a man, which eventually led to the man’s suicide. Kimberlin’s story has so often been overlooked or understated by the national media, which unfortunately all but failed to follow up on what were later proven by the same journalist who first reported on his story to be mistruths. But locals to IN know exactly what happened and have never forgotten it since. It’s time the public got the full story.
Infamously known as “The Speedway Bomber,” Brett Kimberlin exploded his eighth and final bomb on September 6, 1978, which nearly blew off the right leg of his victim, Carl DeLong, and seriously injured the man’s left leg and right hand, causing his leg to be amputated. DeLong committed suicide two years later, unable to cope with the pain and devastation of his injuries. The victim’s wife Sandra later won a civil judgment against Kimberlin for $1.6 million.
While police continued to strengthen their case against him for the bombings, Kimberlin got arrested on drug charges in 1979 in Texas after a plane delivery of 10,000 pounds of Colombian marijuana went awry. He and several others had been building a makeshift landing strip in the middle of the desert and rented a small airplane to collect their cargo, which had been abandoned by its scheduled pilot due to bad weather. When caught during the drug arrest, police confiscated an arsenal of weapons that included a TASAR (brand new technology at that time), pistols with silencers, AR15 rifles, poison tipped bullets, and makeshift security guard uniforms.
Eventually, in three separate trials, Kimberlin was convicted of the bombings and sentenced to a fifty-year term of imprisonment for manufacturing and possessing a destructive device, and malicious damage by explosives with personal injury. He received a concurrent twelve-year sentence for impersonating a federal officer, illegal use of a Department of Defense insignia, and illegal use of the Presidential Seal, and a five-year term for receipt of explosives by a convicted felon. He was also given a four-year sentence by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas on an earlier, unrelated conviction for conspiracy to distribute marijuana. Kimberlin’s sentences were aggregated by the Bureau of Prisons and treated by the Commission as a single aggregate sentence of 51 years, six months, and nineteen days.
A contemporary newspaper account of the case, reached via the above piece by Nagy, is “Kimberlin case a maze of murder, deceit” (PDF) by Joseph Gelarden.
Brett Kimberlin remains a lightning rod for right-wing activists. In February 2012, conservatives announced a startup alliance backed by Foster Friess, the billionaire whose son helped finance Naffe’s search for SEIU buses in Boston. Named the National Bloggers Club, the new nonprofit was described by one Texas columnist as a counterweight to left-wing blog battalions. As its first order of business, the National Bloggers Club declared May 25, 2012, to be “Everyone Blog About Brett Kimberlin Day.” The campaign was a rousing success. Michelle Malkin warned: “Kimberlin is a radical, violent, lying, dangerous felon. This is literally a matter of life and death.” Glenn Beck dedicated most of his radio show to the controversy, welcoming both Frey and Aaron Walker (see “Beyond Description”) to introduce “the Soros-funded domestic terrorist Brett Kimberlin.”
Lee Stranahan would announce “Friday, May 25th Is “Everybody Blog About Brett Kimberlin Day”” and would post “Welcome To Everybody Blog About Brett Kimberlin Day!” on the 25th.
From “Opening Act: Blog About Brett Kimberlin Day” by David Weigel:
Today, the right side of the blogosphere is trying out a fascinating crowd-source experiment. For months, a few conservative writers — most of them using pen names — have been in a pitched battle with a convicted felon-turned-activist named Brett Kimberlin. By any reasonable definition, Kimberlin is a public figure. After he claimed to have sold marijuana to Dan Quayle, New Yorker writer Mark Singer investigated him and made him the subject of a book. When Kimberlin resurfaced in the world of “black box voting” activism, conservative bloggers started to ask questions about him. Skip to May 2012. Blogger Patterico says he was the victim of a hoax that brought armed police officers to his home. The blogger “Aaron Worthing,” identity exposed by a frivolous lawsuit, is counter-suing.
The goal of “Blog About Brett Kimberlin Day,” as far as I can see it, is to make Kimblerlin [sic] famous again. Certainly, it’s enough to spook some people.
Cisco hardware — in Cisco’s ideal world — is always acquired from a Cisco partner. Partners range from a small shop that is merely officially authorized to sell common parts all the way to a Gold Certified Partner with at least eight Cisco Certified Internetwork Experts, other staff members who are climbing the Cisco certification ladder and a sales volume commitment to Cisco that they must meet.
But reality is a good deal different from what Cisco would like to see. Cisco holds a huge share of the routing and switching market, and its products retain value for many years in the thriving telecommunications aftermarket business. Handling refurbished Cisco equipment has been fun and profitable for many years, but counterfeiters are an increasing problem.
As a network architect, I see it all the time. Yesterday evening, for example, during some troubleshooting with a customer, we determined that the company’s 2004-vintage Cisco 2650 router just wasn’t up to doing all the work we were throwing at it, so the decision was made to replace the unit with a new Cisco 2821.
Rauhauser would also write for Spero News, such as the piece “Criminals and identity assumption on the Internet”.
The following is from a full transcript of when Stack guested on Dana Loesch’s radio program. The full transcript is at “Andrew Breitbart: Psychosis in a Political Mask Part Two”. This is the relevant segment where Stack speaks of past harassment by Rauhauser:
I mean…Mediaite…[LOESCH: Yeah.] turned me into a…I was harassing young girls, [LOESCH: Oh god.] you know, young women. I was harassing them…the girls turned around and said the stuff they told me were lies. DailyKos, of course, I mean you should see…basically they said, even if this person, me, is found innocent, f him anyway. He deserves it. They printed…Neal Raushauser [Neal Rauhauser], whatever his name is…had a nice screenshot of the “package” aka he was going to send to the FBI about me. He had the FBI information. But yesterday he closed up his twitter. After someone else, finally, had some information they posted…they said, “oh, why don’t you do this or do that, stop harassing Mike Stack”, put up a note, anyone want to check out Neal’s twitter page, he’s taking some time away from twitter with this Weinergate. And if anybody wants to know, they can tweet me, and I can tell you why. [LOESCH: Wow.] I wonder if Neal has some stuff for the FBI and he’s going underground.
47 The only mainstream piece on Twittergate is “Twittergate: How Internet Jerks Pranked the Tea Party” [archive link] by Adrian Chen.
The Twittergate movie is this:
I include one comment to the Chen story, by user nalgape, which I enjoyed:
A specter is haunting America. That specter is a small army of beandogs. Their subversive activities sustained by the misappropriated tax dollars of hard working Americans, they prey on confused, middle-age conservatives who somehow found their way onto social networking websites like twitter.
I am one of these beandogs. I write this as I sit in a luxury apartment in northern California, the heart of backwardness and progressivism in America. The apartment, the drugs, my small library of Communist works, all paid for by stupid American taxpayers. When I’m not busy reading Marx, Engels or Mao, I donate tax dollars to pro-choice organizations and progressive causes.
Useful idiots like Greg W. Howard cannot stop our cause, for two reasons. Firstly, we are highly organized, and backed by powerful men like George Soros and Neal Rauhauser. Secondly, many of the people who oppose us, like Greg Howard, are bankrupt, emotionally unbalanced Christian financial planners who can’t even keep up with their child support payments, much less fight a revolution.
By the time these self-proclaimed “top conservatives on twitter” grasp the true nature of our plot, it will already be far too late.
In reality, we are not the adorable Mameshibas our avatars suggest. We are Illuminati-backed Reptilian aliens, secretly taking over America by gentrifying urban areas with government subsidies. Some of the more insightful conservatives have begun to comprehend the depth of our social media and real estate based takeover, which is as inefficient and convoluted as it is unstoppable. The question I would pose to our would-be adversaries is this: How far down the rabbit hole do you want to go?
48 These mysterious accounts are discussed in “Andrew Breitbart: Psychosis in a Political Mask Part Two”, under the “The Anthony Weiner Scandal, or: The Phantom Menace / Teenage FBI” heading.
49 The quoted section is from “Patterico’s Pontifications ” On Not Making Assumptions; UPDATE: Stranahan Account Disabled at Patterico.com” by Patrick Frey. It was a reaction to Stranahan’s post, “#Weinergate: Why Publish Lies From “John Reid”?”. Stranahan in turn posted a reaction to his account being disabled, “My Statement On Being Banned From Patterico”, though he wasn’t banned, he simply couldn’t post as a blogger.
50 “The @BrooksBayne Meltdown Explained In Three Tweets” by Stranahan.
A lot of people have asked me to explain what happened with self-proclaimed relevant person @BrooksBayne to cause the massive public meltdown that you can read about here and here or just by watching live on Twitter for a week or so, assuming Brooks hasn’t blocked you already. He’s been attacking EVERYONE but much of his wrath has been aimed at people who write for Breitbart.com.
The motivation is pretty clear – Brooks wanted to run Breitbart.com.
I know this sounds absurd because – why? It’s not like Breitbart knew Brooks well or trusted him. It seems very strange to think that Brooks had an ego large enough to presume such a thing.
But presume he did.
53 leestranahanwatch.com features such posts as “Porn Unworkers Of The World Unite: Lee Stranahan Begins His Life Of Begging / Unworking” and “Lee Stranahan Wants People To Know That His Porn Image Gallery “Contains 30% More Pussy!””.
Earlier today, I went on Twitter and I posted a chart I’d put together showing who Brooks Bayne has been attacking, who has been associated with those attacks, the tactics that have been used and what reasons were given for the attacks.
Now Mike Stack is threatening to sue me. I’m going to respond to his threat with the one weapon I have; free speech.
Mike just sent me the following letter. Mr. Stack also CCd a person who Stack claims is his own attorney, Ned Cohn of Cohn, Bracaglia, and Gropper, PC. The letter reads in full:
You are defaming me and making it appear as though I agree with or am acting in concert with Brett Kimberlin and Neal Rauhauser by putting me in your little graph next to them. Regardless of the outcome, I have pressed charges against Neal and been face to face with Brett in court. I am not on their side and each time you write that to get back at me for disagreeing with your methods and actions, you are sending the message that I agree with them.
Tomorrow, the first two of my tormentors get their bad news. You’ll probably laugh at this, and I hope you do, but I intend to seek legal recourse against all those who have smeared me and by inferring that I am endorsing their tactics, you are accusing me of working with them.
My lawyer is cc’d above and he has been filled in on the whole Neal-Weinergate-Swatting-Montgomery PD saga.
Here’s the chart. I’m planning to do a newer one but this is the one that Mr. Stack is referring to.
I view this threat as another example of Lawfare. I assert that I have a First Amendment right to make a chart that attempts to explain this whole mess. Stack has, in my opinion, been clearly ‘associated with’ the attacks by Brooks Bayne.
I have seen Mr. Stack change in the course of the year or so I’ve known him from someone actively working with the Breitbart team on aspects of the Weinergate story to someone who befriended people like Ron Brynaert, Michelle / @ZAPEM and then went on to attack Breitbart, his company and its employees. I don’t know what happened to Mr. Stack, but the change has been jarring.
Now, he’s planning to sue me and others? Puzzling.
55 From “Greg W. Howard: Aurora Shooting Conspiracy Theorist” by Stranahan. The tweets that Stranahan cites for his criticism of Howard appear to have disappeared in the post.
56 “Hold Tight” by Dave, Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick, and Tich:
Shirt design via Lee Stranahan Watch, “St. Stranahan’s Bad Day”. The names on the shirt are Brett (Kimberlin) & Neal (Rauhauser) & Mike (Stack) & Brooks (Bayne) & Greg (Howard).
57 Michelle / @ZAPEM shows up over and over again, another figure of mystery. She contacted Breitbart the day he died about dealing with various figures such as Nadia Naffe and Neal Rauhauser.
Lee Stranahan writes about her in the post, “Who Is @ZAPEM & Why Is She Talking About My Employer?”:
This has all gotten so weird that I feel like I should go on the record about it. If you aren’t following the Kimberlin / Weinergate story, some of it won’t make sense but here goes.
There’s a person named Michelle with the Twitter handle @ZAPEM and she’s something of a mystery. She is associated with the Twitter-Gaters that I discuss in this post but I haven’t paid too much attention to her until recently, really.
Michelle / @ZAPEM was in contact with Andrew Breitbart the week he passed away. Andrew told both me and Brandon Darby that she has contacted him and said that she had been trying to get him information for months by going through Mandy Nagy aka Liberty Chick but that Mandy hadn’t been passing along that information so Michelle / @ZAPEM decided to reach out to Andrew herself. I have no reason to believe that this story is true. Andrew expressed concerns about @ZAPEM to a number of people, myself included.
@ZAPEM would also be involved in the idiotic Twittergate scandal. From the short conservative documentary produced about this episode:
The identity of @ZAPEM was also an obsession of Rauhauser. From the site of Robert Stacey McCain, an occasional ally of the Breitbart group, there is “‘Scrubbed’ Writings Show Kimberlin Associate Neal Rauhauser’s Obsessions”
FROM AN UNDISCLOSED LOCATION
Earlier this year, Neal Rauhauser “scrubbed” from the Internet several of his online writings in an apparent attempt to conceal evidence that he has been cyberstalking and harassing his enemies, including the late Andrew Breitbart, Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe and the group of Tea Party activists who exposed Rauhauser’s role in the 2010 “TwitterGate” scandal.
Cached versions of Rauhauser’s deleted posts were preserved by some of the conservatives he targeted, and show Rauhauser’s fetish for secrecy and his obsession with his various enemies. For example, on March 14, Rauhauser published a post on his blog (nealrauhauser.wordpress.com) entitled “Playing Detective,” in which he described his attempt to find the real identity of a Tea Party activist who uses the Twitter handle @ZapEm. She produced on online video documenting evidence that Rauhauser organized the “beandogs” who harassed conservative Twitter users in 2010.
McCain had supposedly gone into exile due to a threat from Kimberlin – a tangent described in “Brett Kimberlin versus right-wing bloggers” by Alex Pareene:
Then, charming neo-Confederate blogger Robert Stacy McCain wrote that … well, he just publicly announced that he feared for his and his family’s safety due to vague “security concerns” (he claims Kimberlin somehow contacted his wife at her unnamed workplace). So, for going on a month now, he’s been publishing (extensively) from an “undisclosed location” (while fundraising for himself).
Kimberlin does, in a way, accept responsibility for McCain’s flight, but he says Robert Stacy McCain is blogging from an “undisclosed location” not because he fears for his family’s safety, but because he was living on a compound owned by his church, which was alarmed to learn of his extremist beliefs and writings.
McCain is also a man of somewhat infamous racial views, as described in “He’s Back: Robert Stacy McCain and the Washington Times” by Heidi Beirich:
Robert Stacy McCain, a former key Washington Times editor who has suggested that “perfectly rational people” react with “altogether natural revulsion” to interracial marriage, apparently has returned as a free-lancer to the newspaper he left in January 2008.
What follows is one of the rescued Rauhauser posts on @ZAPEM, from McCain’s site:
March 14, 2012
I have a bit of quite time the next few weeks as some other stuff gets sorted out, so I am free to set aside my poor Google intelligence collection skills and actually do some genuine detective work.
First, for background, we’re talking about An Inconvenient Kook, a woman I’ve tentatively identified as Michelle Lessick aka ZAPEM. All I had to start was:
- The Twitter username @ZAPEM (now @Repository1) and a now defunct WordPress blog
- Records of various streams of tweets and writings, which are a fairly distinct personality showing delusions of persecution
- An email from Patrick Read aka @SwiftRead naming her as Michelle
- A tip that her last name was Reilly, perhaps Nagy-Riley, which I believe to be incorrect
- A tip that her name might be Lessick
- Assertions that she was a police dispatcher and her husband a police officer
- Many indications she lived in northern New Jersey
I did quite a lot of digging with Google and finally did locate the connection to the name Lessick, which can be seen in the link containing her name. I chased various permutations of this name and the Jascawow alias using a variety of search tools and came up empty.
Someone with some paid services I don’t have gave me the name of a couple in New Jersey with the last name of Lessick, Republicans in their mid fifties. For various subtle reasons I was fairly sure the wife was not the woman I was seeking, but I thought that perhaps Michelle was a daughter in her late twenties to early thirties who had developed schizophrenia, or another relative in the area who is on disability and not visible to typical search methods. I spent a few minutes on the phone with her last night and I’m sure that she is not the one, nor does she seem to be covering for someone she knows.
I wrote a nice note to the Morristown Tea Party leadership, hoping that they may have had their fill of her antics. My source for much of the information I do have is someone on the right who feels her conduct is weird, dangerous, and embarrassing to the rest of them. Maybe I’ll get lucky and find someone local who holds similar views of her.
I went through the Morristown Democrats I could find online, sending email and making calls. I signed up for Topix and posted a request there looking for an activist in the area who can help me make connections. Then I called the chief of police in Morristown and we spent a few minutes on the phone. They don’t have their own dispatchers and he gave me the number to call at the county dispatch center.
Due to Donald Payne’s death I’ve felt it was inappropriate to bother the folks on Capitol Hill, but I will probably go down and make a few inquiries next week.I’ve got fifteen more days to do such things until Aaron Walker’s assault trial. Maybe I will get a break on this, maybe I am going to have to grind through a civil suit, we’ll just have to wait and see how it goes.
59 From “CNN’s Dana Loesch Cheers Soldiers Who Urinated On Corpses” by Charles Johnson:
CNN “political analyst” Dana Loesch, on the other hand, apparently doesn’t care if these actions were directly working against the mission of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan; instead, she cheered for it in order to fuel the unhinged Muslim hatred that has become a staple of modern day right-wing media. On her show, she gave the marines in question “one million cool points” and said that she would “drop trou” and “do it too.” She ended by saying: “Do I have a problem with that as a citizen of the United States? No, I don’t.”
Here’s something you don’t see every day: the husband of a CNN contributor (Chris Loesch, Dana Loesch’s spouse) calling the host of a CNN show (Soledad O’Brien) “anti-Semitic.”
Loesch’s three-month absence from CNN follows what a CNN executive described as her effective but unannounced suspension earlier this year. The suspension came after Loesch responded to news that U.S. Marines had allegedly urinated on the dead bodies of Taliban forces by saying of the incident, “I’d drop trou and do it too.”
The Breitbart.com contributor has a long history of inflammatory comments, both preceding and following her February 2011 hiring by CNN. At the time, the network announced her hiring as part of their effort to “gear up for the election season with the addition of political contributors from across the ideological spectrum,” and said she would “appear across the network’s prime time programs, as well as other dayparts and platforms.”
CNN has not responded to repeated requests from Media Matters regarding Loesch’s absence from their airwaves and whether or not she remains employed by the network.
This case concerns a poorly managed but well meaning relationship gone tragically awry, resulting in the attempt by one vindictive party to sabotage the reputation and career of another. That relationship is between Breitbart.com, LLC, the owner and operator of the conservative news and opinion aggregator at Breitbart.com, and Dana Loesch, a St. Louis writer, speaker, and commentator whose profile has risen nationwide.
His big score came in the fall of 2009 – O’Keefe’s decisive blow against ACORN, which at the time was among the nation’s leading advocates for poor and disadvantaged people. ACORN had also been historically integral in getting out the minority vote; after the rise of Obama, this made them the object of widespread conservative consternation.
For this jaunt O’Keefe teamed up with a new actress, Hannah Giles, who would later introduce him to Naffe in Tampa. Clad scantily in skin-tight tube tops and miniskirts, Giles played a prostitute while O’Keefe tailed her with a hidden camera into ACORN offices in Washington, Baltimore, and other major cities. O’Keefe played her pimp. To their delight, they captured footage of what could appear to be ACORN employees offering advice on how the pair could launder money and manage the underage hookers they claimed to be trafficking from El Salvador.
The videos O’Keefe released were later found to be heavily – and deceptively – edited. One target of O’Keefe’s video sting would even win a settlement from Giles in a civil suit. But the ramifications were still devastating. Several ACORN employees were fired as a direct result. Fundraising slowed to a virtual halt. Already under scrutiny, the group was dealt a death blow in September 2009, when Congress severed all federal subsidies. That led to walking papers for three-quarters of their national staff. ACORN went bankrupt a year later.
Business boomed for O’Keefe in the wake of his ACORN stunt. He was suddenly in high demand on the Obama-bashing lecture circuit. All this came in addition to the funding he received from patrons: Even before Breitbart’s media conglomerate retained rights to the ACORN clips, O’Keefe had already been underwritten by Peter Thiel, an early Facebook investor and California hedge-fund manager who’d bankrolled O’Keefe to the tune of $30,000 earlier that year. Giles, his sidekick, was also a hot ticket, being feted at fundraisers like the one in Ybor City where she met Naffe.
From “Wonket Sexclusive: Totally Blameless Crime-Stopper James O’Keefe To Pay $100,000 To ACORN Criminal” by Matthew Phelan and Liz Farkas:
James O’Keefe—the blonde bombshell who set the conservative world of hidden-camera YouTube movies ablaze—has just agreed to a $100,000 settlement to calm down the unjustly fired (and weirdly litigious about it) ACORN employee Juan Carlos Vera. According to a copy of the deal, obtained late last night by your wonkettes and viewable after the jump, O’Keefe has also agreed to ink an 11-word non-apology apology, that sources close to reality are calling “insincere” and “suuuuuuuch bullshit.”
According to the final 5-page agreement, signed by O’Keefe and his legal counsel Mike Madigan this past Tuesday, the boy detective now publicly “regrets any pain suffered by Mr. Vera or his family.” O’Keefe and his counsel have also consented to fork over the $100,000 within 30 business days of the settlement agreement’s being signed.
By the start of 2010, conservative multi-millionaires and media provocateurs were bombarding O’Keefe with proposals to rattle various liberal cages. He established Project Veritas – a 501(c)(3) nonprofit through which O’Keefe could raise funding to investigate and expose corruption, dishonesty, self-dealing, waste, fraud, and other misconduct in both public and private institutions. One idea that piqued O’Keefe’s interest involved California congresswoman Maxine Waters.
At the time, the House Ethics Committee was attempting to determine whether Waters had improperly steered millions of dollars to a bank in which her husband had a financial interest. In 2008, Waters had facilitated a meeting between treasury officials and the Boston-based OneUnited, where Waters’s husband was a board member and stockholder. The Washington Post described the bank as having a “history of mismanagement.” Yet OneUnited had gone on to receive more than $12 million from the federal Troubled Assets Relief Program. O’Keefe saw a ripe opportunity to disgrace Waters, an outspoken member of the Congressional Black Caucus with a reputation as an advocate for poor people.
Born in 1978 to parents of African, Malaysian, and Native American heritage, Naffe is a fourth-generation Floridian, raised in the Pensacola Beach area, mostly in the surrounding white suburbs. Growing up she listened to rock and R&B, attended parochial school, and enjoyed an ordinary adolescence. Naffe says her mother, a hospital administrator, and stepfather, a deacon and retired police captain, raised her with watchful eyes and kept her on the path to college.
The two-story commercial building where Waters has her district office is far from luxurious, but despite the cloudy windows and sun-dried shrubbery, it is one of the neighborhood’s brighter attractions. Up and down the busy thoroughfare are rows of blighted apartments protected by iron bars, with scattered liquor stores and churches offering salvation.
Naffe says she talked her way behind the bulletproof receptionist’s window by posing as “Nadia Jones,” a first-time home buyer who couldn’t get a loan despite being a model candidate, and now wanted to air her grievance to the congresswoman. Once inside, Naffe gave Waters a harrowing surprise – she noted that her problem was with OneUnited. “I literally saw her face just turn,” she remembers.
The idea for the next Project Veritas mission originated with John Fund, a Fox News contributor and author of the 2008 book Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy. In January 2010, Fund emailed the Republican National Lawyers Association and other hard-right affiliates about an incriminating tip he received about the Massachusetts Service Employees International Union (SEIU) – Greater Boston’s brotherhood of janitors, health-care workers, and other mostly low wage earners. Fund’s “normally reliable” source, he wrote in an email that has since been made public, claimed the SEIU planned to help Democrats steal the special Senate election between Scott Brown and Martha Coakley. According to Fund, the union would accomplish this by chartering buses in the liberal and minority-rich neighborhoods of Roxbury, Mattapan, Roslindale, and Jamaica Plain. “If you’re black or brown,” he wrote, “they’ll rope you in and take you to the polls. Registration can be worked out.”
To plug conservative causes, Freiss has a whole foundation that’s run by his son Steve, who relished the prospect of causing “image problems for SEIU.” With their support in place, O’Keefe jumped on board, and he brought Naffe along with him. Not only did she have her star turn in the Waters series to recommend her, but she also matched the request from Freiss for “black/Latina conservatives [who] could be wired for video, and get picked up on one of these busses.” Less than a week later, Naffe flew into Logan airport. Her first task was to snoop on an election-eve rally for Coakley at a Dorchester union hall.
O’Keefe didn’t join Naffe in Boston. Instead, he and other Project Veritas chaps were in New Orleans “causing trouble.” As everyone would soon find out, O’Keefe was casing the district office of Louisiana senator Mary Landrieu. Her offense: the congresswoman was accused of ignoring constituents who called to complain about Obamacare. After crashing in the Big Easy for a week, contriving schemes to shame the NOLA Democrat, on January 26 O’Keefe was arrested in Landrieu’s field office – along with two sidekicks disguised as telephone workers – and charged with entering federal property under false pretenses. Such felonies are punishable by up to a decade in prison and a $250,000 fine.
In Massachusetts, Naffe also struck out. On the day of the special election, she says she shadowed SEIU workers and volunteers, asking every organizer she met if they knew of any buses. But after hours of spelunking – following organizers from door to door to door – Naffe found no evidence of pay-for-vote schemes or caravans transporting repeat voters between polls. Nor were there suspicious busloads of Democrats arriving from Rhode Island and New Hampshire.
Trying to reverse his luck, next O’Keefe turned his firepower on CNN. More specifically, he went after Abbie Boudreau, a CNN reporter who was researching a feature about Project Veritas and other gonzo conservative enterprises. O’Keefe agreed to an interview with Boudreau on August 17, 2010, to be conducted at a private home on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. But when Boudreau arrived at the meeting place, she was intercepted by a female Project Veritas assistant named Izzy Santa. Trembling, Santa warned Boudreau of what her boss O’Keefe had in store. It wasn’t an interview.
As Boudreau would later tell hundreds of thousands of viewers, Santa was alerting her to O’Keefe’s “palace of pleasure” plot, in which,
(as documents obtained by CNN show) he’d hoped to lure the reporter onto a docked boat stocked with champagne, strawberries . . .and sex toys. A list of props included: “lube,” “dildos,” “Viagra,” “fuzzy handcuffs,” “blindfold,” and “ceiling mirror.” A cigarette-smoking O’Keefe was to be “wearing gold chains,” and would “have a more sleazy persona than normal, with slicked back hair and exposing his chest.” The resulting video of him seducing Boudreau, he fancied, would embarrass CNN. Instead, the reporter balked on the meeting, and O’Keefe’s plan came to light. The backlash against Project Veritas was ugly – even from some conservative allies.
The most painful rebuke came from O’Keefe’s mentor, Andrew Brietbart himself – the man who made O’Keefe a household name now pilloried him publicly and demanded an apology. As Breitbart told CNN:
“I proudly stood behind James O’Keefe on his groundbreaking ACORN investigation. . . . However, in my dealings with Ms. Boudreau, she and her producer, Scott Zamost, conducted themselves professionally, and I believe James owes them a candid and public explanation. . . . From what I’ve read about this script, though not executed, it is patently gross and offensive. It’s not his detractors to whom he also owes this public airing. It’s to his legion of supporters.”
On the strength of their conversation in New Hampshire, Naffe agreed to take the Amtrak into Penn Station on September 21. As they cruised through Manhattan in O’Keefe’s classic Triumph convertible, they hashed out the final details of their latest pursuit, “To Catch A Journalist,” in which they’d set out to expose liberal communications professors as racist partisans who hate the Tea Party. The duo headed downtown, and parked by New York University’s Carter Journalism Institute. Like a DEA agent readying a narc for a drug buy, O’Keefe wired Naffe as they rehearsed her cover story.
Posing as a prospective student named Ashley, Naffe placed O’Keefe’s iPhone – set to record audio – in her bust, and headed into the journalism building. Her task: to find Carter professor and award-winning science writer Charles Seife, and to catch him saying something unsavory that could be used to nail NYU. Seife couldn’t be cracked though; the more Naffe tried to egg him on, she says he only became friendlier, and even dropped a previous appointment to give her a full tour.
“James was telling me that he’s a racist, and that [NYU] is an elitist institution,” says Naffe. “But Seife wasn’t anything close to a racist – the guy couldn’t have been nicer. He didn’t just tell me about the program – he walked me around the whole J-school and tried to set me up with an African-American mentor. He spent a whole hour with me and showed me all of their equipment. He even introduced me to an assistant to follow up with.”
Naffe also pledged to return in less than two weeks and complete the NYU mission in person. But as she would later allege, on Naffe’s second visit, there was no nice hotel room, as there had been on the first run. O’Keefe picked up Naffe at the Amtrak station in Newark, and began to drive around suburban New Jersey. Along the way, she says they stopped for dinner at Chipotle, and then again for a six-pack of beer. The whole time, they discussed ways to screw NYU the next morning.
After a long cruise through wooded Westwood, O’Keefe pulled up to Naffe’s accommodations for the night: a two-story barn on the property of an upscale suburban home. Naffe says details of their destination were not made clear on the ride, but it didn’t take long once they arrived for her to realize that she was inside Project Veritas headquarters.
O’Keefe sat in his editing cockpit and began to play the NYU recordings. Strangely, Naffe says, there were also candles lit around the room. She sipped a beer, and asked again about O’Keefe’s grudge against Seife. She also asked when he planned to leave so she could have privacy. After the long train ride, she was eager to shower and get to bed early. But Naffe says O’Keefe made several excuses for why he needed to stay – to watch a football game, to use his “stuff.” Then she turned her attention to a phone call with another guy, and the conversation flipped completely. O’Keefe stormed out, and peeled off. That’s when Naffe says that she began feeling woozy, as if she’d been drugged.
According to Naffe, O’Keefe only returned when she threatened to call the police and trash his equipment. Utterly confused, she remembers crawling around on the floor, nauseous, and calling Breitbart for help. When he didn’t answer, she says she phoned O’Keefe’s assistant, and smashed a glass jar holding a candle against the wall to prove that she meant business. Only then, she says, did O’Keefe return, this time with a middle-aged man whose presence sent her into a panic. Naffe says the last thing she remembers is getting helped into the back seat of the nameless associate’s Chevy Malibu, and drifting in and out of consciousness before arriving at Penn Station for a late train back to Massachusetts.
71 From “James O’Keefe’s plans derailed by infighting, lack of funding” by Ken Vogel:
The mounting turmoil comes as O’Keefe’s recent efforts – including an apparently ongoing media bias exposé called “To Catch a Journalist” and an effort to highlight the hypocrisy of Occupy Wall Street protesters – have mostly fallen flat.
One professor featured in the series, Columbia Journalism School’s Sree Sreenivasan, last week laughed off O’Keefe’s questions about a Star-Ledger reporter secretly filmed disparaging Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and another who sent Project Veritas a profane email after being spotlighted in a previous installment in the series.
Upon returning to Boston, Naffe noticed some things missing from her luggage – namely a pair of panties and her wireless computer mouse. She emailed O’Keefe’s assistant, demanding that her items be returned, but was told that no undergarments could be found. After a week, someone at Project Veritas finally sent her the mouse – only she says that it had been taken apart and crudely reassembled, as if they’d inspected the device for bugs. Naffe says it all came as a saddening surprise, though there’d been prior indications that O’Keefe wanted more than just a work relationship.
Less than two weeks after the barn incident, the rumor of her missing undies leaked to DC political writer Ken Vogel, who was soliciting details for a looming Politico piece. That’s when Naffe says she decided to play defense.
Word of Vogel’s interest in the story travelled fast. Two weeks after her scrape with O’Keefe at the barn, Naffe says Breitbart rang and asked her to avoid the reporter. Rather than humoring Breitbart, Naffe says that she asked why he’d ignored her calls from the barn. According to her account, Breitbart claimed to have no control over his protege’s behavior, and said that O’Keefe lacked “common sense.” Instead of supporting her, Naffe says he turned it into a joke. “Nadia,” she says Breitbart quipped, “he stole my panties too.”
On December 21, 2011, a criminal court in New Jersey dismissed Naffe’s harassment complaint against O’Keefe. A judge at the hearing ruled that there was insufficient cause to proceed in that venue, as there was no proof that the alleged crime originated in the Westwood jurisdiction. But Naffe was also threatening a civil suit for false imprisonment, and she says O’Keefe backed off in the months that followed.
That tentative détente imploded on February 24, when the Emmy-winning correspondent David Shuster, reporting for Breitbart nemesis Keith Olbermann’s Current TV broadcast, inaccurately claimed that O’Keefe was facing rape allegations – evidently referring to the Naffe case.
On February 25, Shuster doubled down by tweeting about an O’Keefe “rape plot,” adding that Breitbart’s silence on said plot made Breitbart a “hypocrite.” The right-wing blogosphere went berserk. “There is no ‘rape plot’, you slanderous, libelous wannabe Media Matters smear junkie,” Breitbart replied to Shuster on Twitter. O’Keefe followed up by suing Shuster and Current TV for defamation.
The split between Naffe and Breitbart was permanent. On February 29, leaked emails show, Breitbart held a teleconference call with a New Jersey investigative firm called Vested Protection Systems to discuss conducting recon on his enemies. He spoke to a consultant named Michelle who followed up with an email noting the targets they’d talked about and drafting potential methods to deal with them. Suggestions included: infiltrating the faceless collective Anonymous “to cause a rift between the left and the hackers”; further eviscerating Kimberlin’s reputation; ratting out Twitter rivals to Stephen Blair, a Boston Police Special Investigation Detective with whom Michelle claimed to have a professional relationship; and making a “fool” out of Nadia Naffe.
Originally, this post included text from an email that was supposedly part of an exchange between Vested Protection Systems and Andrew Breitbart. This email corresponds in all details to the above mentioned email of the Chris Faraone piece.
On Semptember 8th, 2013, I received the following email, subject line, “[DMCA #1636809]: DMCA Takedown Notice”. It is quoted below, leaving out the cited email that has been redacted, as well as company information:
We have received the following DMCA Takedown Notice (http://chillingeffects.org/dmca512/faq.cgi#QID130) for material published on your WordPress.com site:
— BEGIN NOTICE —
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Location of copyrighted work (where your original material is located): It’s a private email written on our company computer that was hacked out of the email account of the deceased Andrew Breitbart. The contents have even been revised and attrituted falsely to my company.
Please describe the copyrighted work so that it may be easily identified: In the first part, a direct private email they stole and put up on this website, naming my company, defaming my company, with a story that’s completely ridiculous.
Copyright holder you represent (if other than yourself): VESTED PROTECTION SYSTEMS, LLC
Please describe the copyrighted work so that it may be easily identified: In the first part, a direct private email they stole and put up on this website, naming my company, defaming my company, with a story that’s completely ridiculous.
[what follows then are the portions of the now redacted email excerpt]
The email then goes on to cite the actual email that originally appeared in this footnote. I have removed the email, but kept the excerpt from Chris Faraone’s piece, and the details from the email which appear in that excerpt. All sourcing in the original text now comes from The Boston Phoenix piece.
In the second part, again quoting a copyrighted email which was stolen and attributes the contents to me personally, alleging I had a conversation with Andrew Breitbart about a topic that never happened. I would also like the name of the person(s) who owns this blog as we’re now looking to institute suit against these people for maliciously interfering in my business.
Location (URL) of the unauthorized material on a WordPress.com site (NOT simply the primary URL of the site – example.wordpress.com; you must provide the full and exact permalink of the post, page, or image where the content appears, one per line) : https://italkyoubored.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/andrew-breitbart-psychosis-in-a-political-mask-part-three/
I print the remainder of the letter:
— END NOTICE —
As per the DMCA’s requirements, we have disabled public access to the material. Republishing this material without permission of its copyright holder or the submission of a valid DMCA counter-notice – or continuing to publish material that results in DMCA Takedown Notices – will result in a permanent suspension of your WordPress.com site and account. Publishing such material is a direct violation of the WordPress.com Terms of Service (http://wordpress.com/tos/), which you agreed to upon registration.
Repeated receipt of DMCA takedown notices for your WordPress.com site will also lead to its suspension. If you believe that this notice was received in error, it is important that you formally challenge this notice to ensure that your WordPress.com site remains operational.
If you wish to formally challenge this notice, we have provided a form that you may use to construct a properly-formatted counter-notice. You may find this form here:
Digital Millenium Copyright Act – Counter Notice
Trust & Safety Engineer
WordPress.com | Automattic Inc.
I will, as they say, be reviewing my options.
Later on that evening, Breitbart stopped for a nightcap at the Brentwood. A quaint haunt with a 10-page drink list, the restaurant is close to his multi-million-dollar home in Westwood. Breitbart hugged the wood-grain bar, sipped red wine, and fiddled on his BlackBerry. After a terse but friendly political exchange with a stranger drinking next to him, Breitbart settled up and left. He made it just a few blocks before collapsing on the concrete. Paramedics rushed him to the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead of natural causes. Breitbart’s final bark was a tongue-in-cheek retweet of a message from an Anonymous operative: “Follow @nadianaffe to find out about her story of assault. This is going to take down @JamesOKeefeIII and possibly @AndrewBreitbart.”
75 These tweets were an exhibit in the civil suit filed by Naffe against Frey, “Case 2:12-cv-08443-GW-MRW Document 20-3 Filed 11/19/12” via “Updated: Sex, Lies and Wiretaps: James O’Keefe’s Slimy Underworld” by “Karoli”.
76 These site comments were presented as evidence in the suit, “Case 2:12-cv-08443-GW-MRW Document 20-2 Filed 11/19/12” They are from the Patterico site post, “Documents from Nadia Naffe’s Race Discrimination Case Against the RNC: The Computer That Was Never Returned”.
Frey’s threats against Ms. Naffe must be viewed within this context. Patterico has a long running history and visible web presence as the work product of a Deputy District Attorney. Frey simultaneously disclaims his position as a Deputy District Attorney to avoid liability and invokes it to seek credibility and issue threats of criminal investigation. Against this backdrop, Defendant Frey issued statements to Ms. Naffe, which a reasonable person could infer were threats to investigate and prosecute or to influence others prosecutors (including federal prosecutors) to do so. Frey only uttered such threats to Ms. Naffe after she informed Frey that she would report him to the District Attorney’s Office and the State Bar.
Quite simply, nothing Plaintiff has alleged plausibly suggests that Frey acted, or purported or pretended to act, in the performance of his official duties.
The Court was on the verge of dismissing Plaintiffs Section 1983 claim against Frey without leave to amend in connection with the original Complaint. Nevertheless, it gave Plaintiff a chance to bolster her state action allegations. As set forth above, she failed to do so sufficiently. The Court would now dismiss that claim with prejudice.
First, in terms of harm to her credit, Plaintiff cites no examples of any actual damages, i.e. any purchases or commercial activity not conducted by her that she has been forced to cover.
Second, while Plaintiff unquestionably asserts that she has suffered various ailments since Frey began “attacking” her on the Internet, her assertions are, at this point in time, fairly vague and not supported by any corroborating evidence or reference to any medical treatment she has undergone or medical bills she has incurred because of her conditions. Third, Plaintiffs complaints about “death threats” forcing her to twice move that are attributable to Frey’s “unstable fans and followers” are, again, relatively vague; moreover, the Court might question why Frey (and/or the County) should be chargeable for such conduct. Finally, although Plaintiff asserts it is difficult for her to find employment (because of Frey’s “attacks” on her credibility and honesty), she also admits that she is a full time student. She does not identify any particular employment she claims to have lost.
Kimberlin had learned his way around case law as a jailhouse barrister, and he knew how to counter-attack foes through the court
In August 2011, Kimberlin had expanded his counter-attack by filing suit for defamation against an obscure blogger from Massachusetts
named Seth Allen, who claimed to have fed the Speedway “bombshell” to Nagy a year earlier. Kimberlin also sought a protective order
and an injunction against Allen, who he alleged was stalking him.
Kimberlin’s concern was bolstered when, on August 23, in an email to Breitbart, Nagy, and Frey, Allen suggested that he “murder” Kimberlin. “Maybe that will finally get me some justice,” wrote Allen. “This life sucks anyway.” Nagy contacted the police. Weeks later, at a hearing for Kimberlin’s defamation case against him, Allen was arrested at the Montgomery County courthouse in Maryland. Ultimately authorities did not charge Allen. But on November 16, Kimberlin was granted an injunction to prevent Allen from further smearing. Allen ignored the injunction, and on November 21 – the same day that Naffe officially accused O’Keefe of criminal harassment in New Jersey – Kimberlin filed a motion against Allen for contempt.
So, after the hearing, Walker and Kimberlin had a confrontation outside the court. They argued, and, according to Walker (his account is in the massive post linked above), Kimberlin raised his iPad and Walker snatched it away from him. Then he gave it to a deputy. Kimberlin soon filed criminal charges against Walker, alleging assault, claiming to have been rather badly beaten up. “He took my iPad away from me, hit me in the eye, sent me to the emergency room,” Kimberlin told me. Criminal charges were filed, then dropped by the state. Walker claims Kimberlin forged or falsified his hospital records.
From “‘Beyond description’: Aaron Worthing unmasked” by Chris Faraone:
Seth Allen, the Massachusetts blogger who threatened to murder Brett Kimberlin and got legal aid from “Aaron Worthing.”
Of everyone who answered the rallying cries of Frey and Breitbart, one of the loudest was a character who wrote under the pseudonym Aaron Worthing. A contributor to Frey’s blog – plus a publisher of his own sites, like the anti-Muslim hate-fest Everyone Draw Mohammed – Worthing offered legal advice to Seth Allen, the Bay State blogger who had threatened to “murder” Brett Kimberlin. A lawyer in neighboring Virginia, Worthing also attempted to defend Allen in his contempt case against Kimberlin. Worthing didn’t give his legal name, instead telling the court that he wished to represent Allen anonymously. That’s when Kimberlin hit back with a motion to disclose the identity of “Aaron Worthing.”
On January 9, 2012, Worthing showed up at the Maryland contempt hearing for Allen. By then, Kimberlin had leveraged the Virginia attorney’s butting into the case to reveal Worthing’s real identity: Aaron Walker. This incensed Walker. When Kimberlin attempted to capture video of him, Walker snatched the plaintiff’s iPad, initiating a minor scuffle that the fringe blogosphere would interpret as Pearl Harbor.
In the dust-up, Walker lost his job as an attorney for a health-care staffing firm. His wife, who worked for the same Virginia company, was also terminated.
88 From Hoge’s website, Hogewash!, “Everyone Blog About the Howard County State’s Attorney Day”:
The State’s Attorney dropped both Stranahan’s and Walker’s charges against Schmalfeldt. That was done without providing the notice of the change of hearing date to either complainant. They only found out when Hogewash! alerted them, and this blog only found out because of a tip from a commenter. This doesn’t seem to be within the spirit of Maryland’s victims’ rights procedures.
On Monday, 8 April, 2013, I suggest that those bloggers who have contacted the Howard County State’s Attorney post the answers they have received along with any comments they feel would be appropriate-8 April should be Everyone Blog About the Howard County State’s Attorney Day.
89 From “Inside the Collapsing Media Empire of Deceased GOP Sleaze-Peddler Andrew Breitbart” by Mark Ames and Max Blumenthal:
By now, it has become clear that in the months before his death, Breitbart had constructed a journalistic Doomsday Machine and programmed it for an apocalyptic episode of self-destruction. Perhaps it was convenient that Breitbart’s heart exploded when it did; as a martyr, he did not have to witness the implosion of his media empire or bear the responsibility he deserved for its rapid demise.
In the year after Breitbart’s death, his heirs and associates produced a string of grotesque episodes that have embarrassed even their own impossible-to-shame allies on the right, including:
- Spreading the lie that Chuck Hagel took money from a non-existent group called “Friends of Hamas.” What began as a New York Daily News reporter’s burlesque joke-hypothetical question to a Senate staffer was recycled by Breitbart.com editor-at-large Ben Shapiro [see below] and reported as fact from “Senate sources.” From Breitbart, the reporter’s joke traveled onto the Senate floor and nearly sank Hagel’s confirmation as Obama’s new Defense Secretary. Even after the story was completely debunked and disavowed even by fellow right-wingers, Breitbart.com remains the only media outlet in the world that continues to stick by its debunked story;
- In mid-March, Breitbart published a straight news story claiming that Paul Krugman had filed for bankruptcy. The story was sourced from an online news parody site, The Daily Currant ;
- Also in March, Breitbart’s most famous protege, video smear-artist and convicted criminal James O’Keefe, was forced  to pay a six-figure settlement to one of the victims of his heavily-edited ACORN videos, which was deceptively re-edited to give the impression that ACORN employees were willing to participate in sex trafficking. ACORN was once a powerful community activist organization working in mostly poor minority communities. O’Keefe’s video, which was heavily promoted by Breitbart, helped destroy ACORN and ruin the careers of many of its employees. Other lawsuits against Breitbart associates continue, including one filed by Shirley Sherrod, an African-American employee of the Department of Agriculture who was fired after Breitbart pushed a heavily-edited video manipulated to make Sherrod appear as if she was anti-white.
- O’Keefe’s work has been underwritten by everyone from billionaire libertarian Peter Thiel  to the billionaire Koch brothers  and the billionaire Foster Friess ;
- At the most recent CPAC conference in 2013, Breitbart.com’s sponsored panel bashing Muslims was considered too hateful and extremist by CPAC’s organizers and banned from the official CPAC agenda – despite the fact that Breitbart News Network is a major sponsor of CPAC.
The agents of truth are massing. They wear pleated slacks and wire-frame glasses, button-downs and blazers, sensible shoes. They congregate over muffins and oatmeal in a beigeish room on the twelfth floor of a Hilton in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey. There are two people of color, but otherwise the agents appear blissfully Anglo-Saxon; some wear tea-party pins. The average age looks to be roughly 63, though that figure would be a few digits higher were it not for the eventual arrival of 28-year-old keynote speaker James O’Keefe, most famous for secretly filming a video that seems to show workers from the liberal community group acorn advising him on how to conceal income from an imaginary brothel
An older woman in a flowered turtleneck shirt raises her hand.
“My husband and I are fighting with our local township,” she says, her voice brimming with indignation. “What they came and did was end the curb so all the road’s storm water runs down our driveway, and in the winter it makes our driveway one solid sheet of ice. And thank you for the YouTube. We have photographs of the icy driveway, and we’ll be working on publishing.”
The right is delusional if it thinks it can replicate the success of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert with Gutfeldian rightwing “irreverence.” One of the reasons people are drawn to the Comedy Central shows aside from the jokes is they don’t trust other news sources, and Fox News especially. Whatever tweaks Gutfeld may make to his formula in the future, he seems constitutionally (and institutionally) incapable of the basic fact checking, let alone the kind of serious research that goes into the best bits on the Daily Show.
Leaving aside the content of his politics and the question of whether he’s actually funny, this explains why Gutfeld will forever struggle with the demo, and will remain just another target for more popular comedic pundits.
At least Gutfeld’s publisher understands this. Crown put together a book tour that takes Gutfeld mostly through the deep red states of Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. The only California stop is at the Reagan library. The biggest signing in Florida will take place at the Villages, an ultraconservative retirement community north of Orlando where the elderly members get around on golf carts.
92 The Times investigation was: “U.S. Opens Spigot After Farmers Claim Discrimination” by Sharon LaFraniere. A skeptical piece during the Breitbart investigation was “Pigford: A Tragedy and a Non-Troversy” by Mark Thompson.
I list three of Thompson’s points over the fact that the difference in number of claimants and number of farmers indicates fraud:
Third, the settlement quite appropriately covers not only actual farmers but also people who sought to acquire or start a farm and applied for a loan from the USDA. These persons would never appear in statistics of “black farmers” since, by definition, they needed the loans to become farmers.
Fourth, until 2002, no statistical distinction was made between “black farmers” and “black-owned farms,” which is important in light of the fact that any farmer would have been eligible to apply for one of these loans. We do know that when this distinction started to be made, in 2002, there were at least 50% more “black farmers” than “black-0wned farms.” Assuming these statistics would have been similar in 1982, then the number of “black farmers” in 1983 would have been at least 50,000.
Fifth, these claims ignore the possibility of farms changing ownership during that 15 year period, thus creating multiple possible claimants.
From “Farmers Claim Discrimination”:
The true dimensions of the problem are impossible to gauge. The Agriculture Department insists that the names and addresses of claimants are protected under privacy provisions. But department data released in response to a Freedom of Information request by The Times are telling. The data cover 15,601 African-Americans who filed successful claims and were paid before 2009.
In 16 ZIP codes in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and North Carolina, the number of successful claimants exceeded the total number of farms operated by people of any race in 1997, the year the lawsuit was filed. Those applicants received nearly $100 million.
In Maple Hill, a struggling town in southeastern North Carolina, the number of people paid was nearly four times the total number of farms. More than one in nine African-American adults there received checks. In Little Rock, Ark., a confidential list of payments shows, 10 members of one extended family collected a total of $500,000, and dozens of other successful claimants shared addresses, phone numbers or close family connections.
Thirty percent of all payments, totaling $290 million, went to predominantly urban counties – a phenomenon that supporters of the settlement say reflects black farmers’ migration during the 15 years covered by the lawsuit. Only 11 percent, or $107 million, went to what the Agriculture Department classifies as “completely rural” counties.
The questions that Thompson raises – that the number of farms the year the suit was filed does not reflect the number of those applying to farm fifteen years beforehand – remain unacknowledged and unanswered in this investigative piece. “The number of successful claimants exceeded the total number of farms operated by people of any race in 1997” is supposed to be an example of the fraud. This is not to suggest that Thompson is right, and LaFraniere is wrong. Andrew Breitbart may have believed in a Manichean world, but I do not, and I don’t think the writer of “Farmers Claim Discrimination” is pushing a hidden agenda. My demand is a simpler one – why are questions about the rather shoddy work of Breitbart’s investigations still extant in the professional attempt by the Times? That these questions are answered does not mean that they are answered to one side’s favor or another, it is simply a desire for a clearer sense of what took place.
From one of this generation’s most talked about and enigmatic writers comes a deeply personal, powerful, and moving novel about family, relationships, accelerating drug use, and the lingering possibility of death.
Taipei by Tao Lin is an ode–or lament–to the way we live now. Following Paul from New York, where he comically navigates Manhattan’s art and literary scenes, to Taipei, Taiwan, where he confronts his family’s roots, we see one relationship fail, while another is born on the internet and blooms into an unexpected wedding in Las Vegas. Along the way-whether on all night drives up the East Coast, shoplifting excursions in the South, book readings on the West Coast, or ill advised grocery runs in Ohio-movies are made with laptop cameras, massive amounts of drugs are ingested, and two young lovers come to learn what it means to share themselves completely. The result is a suspenseful meditation on memory, love, and what it means to be alive, young, and on the fringe in America, or anywhere else for that matter.
During our interview, I fielded some questions from /lit/ and asked Lin to respond.
“Ask him how he has overcome his autism.”
I really like the autism meme. It’s really funny.
From Taipei by Tao Lin:
At some point, Paul vaguely realized, technology had begun for him to mostly only indicate the inevitability and vicinity of nothingness. Instead of postponing death by releasing nanobots into the bloodstream to fix things faster than they deteriorated, implanting little computers into people’s brains, or other methods Paul had probably read about on Wikipedia, until it became the distant, shrinking, nearly nonexistent somethingness that was currently life-and life, for immortal humans, became the predominate distraction that was currently death-technology seemed more likely to permanently eliminate life by uncontrollably fulfilling its only function: to indiscriminately convert matter, animate or inanimate, into computerized matter, for the sole purpose, it seemed, of increased functioning, until the universe was one computer. Technology, an abstraction, undetectable in concrete reality, was accomplishing its concrete task, Paul dimly intuited while idly petting Erin’s hair, by way of an increasingly committed and multiplying workforce of humans, who receive, over hundreds of generations, a certain kind of advancement (from feet to bicycles to cars, faces to bulletin boards to the internet) in exchange for converting a sufficient amount of matter into computerized matter for computers to be able to build themselves.