Saturday, July 20, 2013

There's a leak in the boiler room

"Who were the ones we kept in charge? Killers, thieves and lawyers!!"

This is so brilliant. You can hate Tom Waits, but you have to love Cookie Monster.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Defamation or Free Speech?

Here's the story so far. Rod Dreher started, another blog, back in May to discuss local politics in West Feliciana, LA. There was a big controversy about something called the Home Rule Charter (HRC). Some people started discussing aspects of it on a Topix forum post. Topix is a very successful and popular forum for discussing local current news events, debating politics, making announcements, etc.

Rod became upset regarding reports of alleged bullying and he posted his reaction here. In this post he presents two conflicting opinions about the Topix forum post.

There's been some talk, in public meetings and on Facebook, that some people are afraid to speak out about the Home Rule Charter issue because they feel intimidated, and have been "bullied."

I don't want to say that it's never happened, only that it hasn't happened to me. If "bullying" means some anonymous jackass said slanderous things on Topix, then sorry, I don't count that. Those people are cowards, and should be completely discounted.

This is the first opinion, that anonymous Topix forum cowardly jackasses don't count. He doubles down on this opinion later:

But if people are only worried that some idiot on Topix is going to say mean things about them, sorry, but I can't take that seriously. I'm told they trash me all the time on that site. Big deal.

Then he makes this pronouncement:

By the way, you may not know this, but a Texas couple won $14 million last year in a defamation lawsuit against anonymous posters on Topix who libeled them. A Texas judge compelled Topix to release their IPs, which led the plaintiffs directly to those who had libeled them.

I am eager to talk to a lawyer who would be willing to file a libel suit on contingency against these anonymous Topix commentators, the identities of which Topix can be compelled to reveal (or at least their IPs). Sooner or later, the West Feliciana people who have been libeled anonymously on Topix are going to be able to find out the identities of those who have defamed them. And when they do, they are going to own those people, and their nice houses. If you know what I mean.

Do we have a lawyer in town who would be willing to sue Topix to compel them to release the IPs of our local slander trolls? Get in touch with me -- I'd love to be party to that lawsuit. I bet some others would too.

Now we originally laughed at this post, and it's still pretty funny on its own. It seemed like a serious overreaction, probably a Rod-got-up-on-wrong-side-of-bed kind of thing or Rod-ate-too-much-and-drank-to-much-last-night kind of thing. Here's why. The link about the Texas couple explains the nature of the actions of the defendants in the defamation suit.

Mark and Rhonda Lesher of Clarksville, Texas, filed a suit against anonymous commenters who accused them of being sexual deviants, molesters, and drug dealers on Topix, once self-described as "the country's largest local forum site."

"This vindicates us. This is vindication for all the scurrilous, vile, defamatory statements that caused us to be indicted, to be tried, that caused us to move out of town and my wife to lose her business," Mark Lesher said, the Texarkana Gazette reported. "You can't post anonymous lies on the Internet without suffering the consequences."

Furthermore, and this is what really blew me away:

Since reports of the rape allegations began to surface in 2008, more than 25,000 comments, on about 70 threads related to the trial, were posted on Topix message boards for anyone with a search engine to see.

I started this in 2007 and have posted — along with Pikkumatti and Kathleen — a total of 2,180 posts on this blog. Twenty-five thousand is a big number. I can't imagine going into the confessional and saying "Father, I bore false witness against my neighbor 25 thousand times since my last confession." There's no way the derogatory comments about Dreher amounted to anything close to this. There's no big payout here, chumps; keep playing the Louisiana Lottery.

As far as I could see after reading all the comments on the aforementioned Topix site, there is nothing accusing Rod Dreher or Ellen Kennon or Becky Hilliard or any of their friends in this whole political argument of felonious behavior, of raping and molesting people, of dealing drugs, grand theft, racketeering, eating at chain restaurants, shopping at Wal-mart — nothing like that. The strongest accusations I saw pretty much stated that Dreher didn't know what he was talking about and that he was stirring up racial tensions. That's just criticism, not libel or defamation. I seriously couldn't believe that he made the comparison of criticisms against him to people who had lost their business over false accusations of serious criminality. What makes it even harder to buy is that Dreher doesn't disclose the details of the supposed defamation; he doesn't even provide a hint. Was it a comment — possibly deleted — about dealing drugs or child molestation? Or was it something of the Justin Bieber eats poop variety? We don't know; he doesn't say.

"I'm told they trash me all the time on that site. Big deal." That attitude seems to change by the end of the post, and it most certainly changed a week later on July 16 when he put up a post about defamation charges filed by himself and Ellen Kennon titled Defamation.

Ellen Kennon and I met with detectives from the Sheriff's office this afternoon to discuss the possibility of pressing criminal defamation charges against anonymous Topix commenters. Filing charges would be the first step in unmasking them and holding them accountable for the defamatory things they've said in public under the cloak of anonymity.

In my case, there are lots of items trashing me, but given my job, I have the status of a "public person" in terms of libel law. People can say things about me that they couldn't get away saying about someone who was a "private person" in the eyes of the law. Still, I identified two or three specific posts involving me that, in my view, constitute criminal defamation, especially insofar as they make reputation-damaging assertions that are provably false, as well as malicious, and that hurt my professional and personal reputation. See the Louisiana statute below.

It is possible that the investigation will not find that there are sufficient grounds to determining criminal defamation (which is a misdemeanor), and either the DA will choose not to press charges, or the judge will not find sufficient grounds to subpoena Topix's records -- in which case our only recourse will be in civil court. We'll see where this goes. I can report, though, that there is a criminal investigation underway. I know there are lots of people in this parish who have been slandered on Topix, but who felt that they couldn't do anything about it. Well, maybe you can, if the anonymous trolls cross certain legal lines. Like I said, we'll see.

Rod Dreher has lamented his status as a "public person" before. But he has benefited from being a public person, so I don't see why he shouldn't suffer the slings and arrows of his outrageous fortune. My aunt died really young and my dad didn't even get a lousy t-shirt out of the tragedy, let alone a $1 million book advance. I'm not entirely sure his statement "People can say things about me that they couldn't get away saying about someone who was a 'private person'" is true. Over the years I've pointed out what I believe are inaccuracies, inconsistencies and absurdities in Dreher's viewpoints, especially in his anti-Catholic knee-jerks. None of this amounts to libel or any kind of defamation, and I don't see why it would if I accused my next door neighbor of the same thing. My neighbor does not publish a blog or do any writing so it would probably be considered bad form to criticize opinions he expressed to me in private ("I can't believe my neighbor, Jim ______, thinks Chevys are better than Fords; what planet is he from?"), but the idea that I couldn't get away with saying it because he is a "private person" is simply not true.

So when he speaks of the "lots of items trashing me", do any of these rise to the level of libelous or defamatory? I didn't see any on that post. And he admits that it's likely that there will not be "sufficient grounds to determining criminal defamation". So the announcement that there's a criminal investigation underway has one primary purpose as I see it: to put a chilling effect on free speech. Does this work? I think it might in some cases. People start to worry, thinking "Uh-oh, did I tick him off with my remarks? Will he make trouble for me? Will they release my IP address in the court case?" This is probably because they don't know what constitutes libel nor how difficult it is to prove.

But there is an off chance that people might be dragged into court over this matter. Maybe Angela Corey will be disbarred in Florida and become the DA of Baton Rouge, I don't know. That is why I have started the First Amendment Defense Fund (FADF). It's basically a PayPal account. This fund has the specific purpose of defending people who comment on Topix and are named in this frivolous lawsuit filed by Rod Dreher and Ellen Kennon. Hopefully we won't need to pay anything out, so if that's the case after 6 months or so I'll return all the contributions. I started out by contributing $25 to the fund.

I don't think I have anything more to say about this right now, except that I think Rod's anger mainly stems from the fact that he cannot delete comments on Topix like he can on his own blog. Here's one last comment on the HRC thread from commenter Billfr:

The biggest winners, though, will be all those other local SF-WFP residents who will be filing criminal complaints with the sheriff against the people they think wronged them here on Topix and launching criminal investigations through the sheriff's office too. Not only will they be able to smack around people they might have disliked for some time and even sue them for some money, with all the national stories being spun out of this, I wouldn't be surprised if a few other locals also got their 15 minutes of media fame, just like that Zimmerman witness Rachel Jeantel. I think that guy Pauli in Cleveland is already blogging about this, I don't doubt others have already picked it up too at least in BR [Baton Rouge], and Rod himself would be foolish not to tip off his colleagues everywhere he has them. There's no such thing as bad publicity, at least not for Rod.

Lol. Well, again, criticism does not equal defamation, and any smart person knows this.


My blood type is AB Positive which is really rare. Every thing else about me is standard issue. But this means my plasma can be used by anyone even though my reds can only be used by the other 3% of the population with AB+ juice.

Coincidentally, my wife also has AB+ blood. If you have AB+ you can use anyone else's juice. So I don't think it's why she married me. I'm still trying to figure that one out.

I looked this up because I'm donating next week. I thought the lady was making up the universal plasma thing so I looked it up and found out she was right. You learn something new every week, as they say.

"This is the Motor City. And this is what we do."

How can we forget yet another inspiring Super Bowl ad about Detroit:

". . . add hard work, and conviction, and a know-how that runs deep in every last one of us . . .  That's who we are.  That's our story.  No, it's probably not the one you've been reading in the papers...."

I'll say.  From today's Wall Street Journal, we have, as summarized by Joel Pollak at Breitbart, a little different explanation of what Detroit is today:

"I was planning on retiring in October, but now I'm not sure. I have a lot of questions," said Herbert Jenkins, 50, who has spent the last quarter century working for the city and repairing its potholes. It's such a sad day for Detroit."

Emphasis added by me.  

UPDATE:  To kathleen's point below, here is Steven Crowder's most recent take on Detroit: 

Charles Barkley on the Zimmerman Verdict

Charles Barkley really speaks his mind courageously here, especially going after the media. I agree with him almost entirely, except that, well, the "hidden agenda" isn't really hidden that much.

Detroit is bankrupt

Well it's about time.

According to the bankruptcy filing, Detroit now has more than $18 billion in unfunded liabilities. The city’s population has dwindled from 1.85 million in 1950 to under 700,000 today, and its tax revenues have shrunk accordingly even as the average tax burden has risen to the highest level of any town in the state. A deficit estimated at $237 million in June was too much for the once-mighty industrial town to handle.

Orr’s goals, laid out in a report issued in June, were simply to keep the lights on and the fire department operating. Currently, according to the report, 40 percent of the Detroit’s streetlights don’t work, and there are 78,000 abandoned and blighted houses in the city, posing a massive fire risk. A recent New York Times feature corroborated Orr’s account of life in Detroit, reporting that most city residents no longer rely on even basic services like police or the fire department.

Yeah. It's halftime in America, and time to bring out the bulldozers to clean the field.

Unplug the jukebox and do us all a favour

Shut up

That's advice you can take to the bank. I mainly mean shut up about your business plans until the time is ripe. Juror B37 has canned her plans for writing the book about the Zimmerman trial after being dropped by her agent. This is due to pressure applied by anger and threats of boycott being expressed on Twitter. Had they just waited a few months and then just written the book instead of making a big deal about it they may have scored. There will be plenty of shiny objects to distract the Trayvon fan-girls in the weeks and months to come. New TV shows, back to school shopping, etc. Just my opinion, but informed by experience.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Lighten Up, Race-baiters

It's worth sitting through the stupid ads, trust me. Then turn the volume up on the bottom bar.

Awesome. Love the bus scene.


The other day I said that the George Zimmerman trial had become a yawn fest. That was an error in judgement on my part. Maybe I had forgotten for an instant that we are in the age of Obama when crises must not be let go to waste. Whether a particular "crisis" has been manufactured, as this one has, is beside the point.

Now I am following the Zimmerman verdict's aftermath much more attentively. There is a lot of interesting material being churned out and it's almost all supportive of the verdict and the right way of seeing the events. Trying to turn Rachel Jeantel into Anita Hill would be downright funny if she were attractive or intelligent — or even if she possessed the proverbial nice personality — just one of the above would make Rachel Jeantel jokes at least mildly acceptable. But I'll stop there.

Far more interesting is the fact that black people benefit disproportionately from stand your ground laws, the new "boogieman" of Eric Holder & Co.

African Americans benefit from Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law at a rate far out of proportion to their presence in the state’s population, despite an assertion by Attorney General Eric Holder that repealing “Stand Your Ground” would help African Americans.

Black Floridians have made about a third of the state’s total “Stand Your Ground” claims in homicide cases, a rate nearly double the black percentage of Florida’s population. The majority of those claims have been successful, a success rate that exceeds that for Florida whites.

Nonetheless, prominent African Americans including Holder and “Ebony and Ivory” singer Stevie Wonder, who has vowed not to perform in the Sunshine State until the law is revoked, have made “Stand Your Ground” a central part of the Trayvon Martin controversy.

So we get to sit back and watch the left demonize yet another thing like they do with school choice, gun rights and pro-growth business policies which help law-abiding blacks. Of course Ann Coulter wrote a book about this so she contributed an article about a parallel story about an undercover cop named Lee Van Houten who was forced to shoot a black mugger back in 1985. This was in the "dark days" before the internet when false media narratives and hype could not be as easily exposed as such.

The case most like George Zimmerman’s is the Edmund Perry case. In 1985, Perry, a black teenager from Harlem who had just graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy, mugged a guy who turned out to be an undercover cop. He got shot and a few hours later was dead.

Instead of waiting for the facts, the media rushed out with a story about Officer Lee Van Houten being a trigger-happy, racist cop. When that turned out to be false, the New York Times looked at its shoes. It was the kind of story the elites wanted to be true. It should be true. We had such high hopes for that one. Damn!

The initial news accounts stressed not only that Perry was a graduate of Exeter on his way to Stanford, but that he was unarmed. (In all white-on-black shootings, the media expect the white to have RoboCop-like superpowers to detect any weapons on the perp as well as his resume.)

The real must read so-far is yesterday's NR piece called Angela Corey's Checkered Past. The title might be a little inaccurate, unless it's a checkerboard with all dark squares.

Corey knows about personal vendettas. They seem to be her specialty. When Ron Littlepage, a journalist for the Florida Times-Union, wrote a column criticizing her handling of the Christian Fernandez case — in which Corey chose to prosecute a twelve-year-old boy for first-degree murder, who wound up locked in solitary confinement in an adult jail prior to his court date — she “fired off a two-page, single-spaced letter on official state-attorney letterhead hinting at lawsuits for libel.”

Ooooh! Libel suits for criticism! Always so charming.

And that was moderate. When Corey was appointed to handle the Zimmerman case, Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte, a former president of both the American Bar Association and Florida State University, criticized the decision: “I cannot imagine a worse choice for a prosecutor to serve in the Sanford case. There is nothing in Angela Corey’s background that suits her for the task, and she cannot command the respect of people who care about justice.” Corey responded by making a public-records request of the university for all e-mails, text messages, and phone messages in which D’Alemberte had mentioned Fernandez. Like Littlepage, D’Alemberte had earlier criticized Corey’s handling of the Fernandez case.

More of the same. But there's more than bullying that she's guilty of.

But what these instances point to is something much more alarming than Corey’s less-than-warm relations with her peers.

In June 2012, Alan Dershowitz, a well-known defense attorney who has been a professor at Harvard Law School for nearly half a century, criticized Corey for her affidavit in the Zimmerman case. Making use of a quirk of Florida law that gives prosecutors, for any case except first-degree murder, the option of filing an affidavit with the judge instead of going to a grand jury, Corey filed an affidavit that, according to Dershowitz, “willfully and deliberately omitted” crucial exculpatory evidence: namely, that Trayvon Martin was beating George Zimmerman bloody at the time of the fatal gunshot. So Corey avoided a grand jury, where her case likely would not have held water, and then withheld evidence in her affidavit to the judge. “It was a perjurious affidavit,” Dershowitz tells me, and that comes with serious consequences: “Submitting a false affidavit is grounds for disbarment.”

Shortly after Dershowitz’s criticisms, Harvard Law School’s dean’s office received a phone call. When the dean refused to pick up, Angela Corey spent a half hour demanding of an office-of-communications employee that Dershowitz be fired. According to Dershowitz, Corey threatened to sue Harvard, to try to get him disbarred, and also to sue him for slander and libel. Corey also told the communications employee that she had assigned a state investigator — an employee of the State of Florida, that is — to investigate Dershowitz. “That’s an abuse of office right there,” Dershowitz says.

This is corruption mixed with pure Alinsky tactics. And here's the really bad news, although I hope National Review is wrong about this.

But will Corey ever be disciplined for prosecutorial abuses? It’s unlikely. State attorneys cannot be brought before the bar while they remain in office. Complaints can be filed against Corey, but they will be deferred until she is no longer state attorney. The governor can remove her from office, but otherwise her position — and her license — are safe.

She is a thug worthy of the Age of Obama. We can only hope that the continued overreaching continues to backfire and at least some bad people end up going down for it. And that not too many innocent people get hurt along the way.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Jason Riley on Race, Politics & Zimmerman

Strong words from a sensible black man. Jason Riley is obviously not afraid of the NBPP. Excerpt:

Did the perception of black criminality play a role in Martin's death? We may never know for certain, but we do know that those negative perceptions of young black men are rooted in hard data on who commits crimes. We also know that young black men will not change how they are perceived until they change how they behave.

The homicide rate claiming black victims today is seven times that of whites, and the George Zimmermans of the world are not the reason. Some 90% of black murder victims are killed by other blacks.

So let's have our discussions, even if the only one that really needs to occur is within the black community. Civil-rights leaders today choose to keep the focus on white racism instead of personal responsibility, but their predecessors knew better.

Then he quotes someone famous who agreed. Play "who said this?" your lefty friends and watch their teeth grind.

"Do you know that Negroes are 10 percent of the population of St. Louis and are responsible for 58% of its crimes? We've got to face that. And we've got to do something about our moral standards," Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. told a congregation in 1961. "We know that there are many things wrong in the white world, but there are many things wrong in the black world, too. We can't keep on blaming the white man. There are things we must do for ourselves."

Drag (inter) net

Let's make the coffee again

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Don't celebrate too early


Reminds me of this.

Winnahs an' Loosahs

At this point, discussing the George Zimmerman trial is a yawn fest. But I'm linking to this article by "Ralph" @ Truth about Guns because it is a great piece of writing, humorous too. Unless you're a Trayvon fan-girl. The obvious loosahs are the members of the proprietorial team. First Ralph owns Angela Corey:

The cherry on top was her petulant performance after the verdict as she figuratively stamped her little feet like a spoiled brat and reasserted Zimmerman’s guilt. It reminded me of the way Obama reacted to the defeat of his “common sense” gun confiscation laws. They were two serio-comic performances full of sound and fury signifying nothing.

I’d like to believe that Corey’s career is all done, but let’s keep the slithery Eliot Spitzer in mind before we toss any dirt on Corey’s political aspirations. Whatever Corey’s future may bring, one thing is certain — when Don West told the jury, “there are no monsters here,” he was flat out wrong.

Next he tackles Bernie de la Rionda.

To give the devils their due, the prosecution had no murder case to work with although they certainly did their best to fake one. De la Rionda and his team of tub-thumpers spent weeks trying to sell the jury a bill of goods, And when that flopped because the prosecution’s own witnesses turned against them, Bern Baby Bern offered the jury a new theory that contradicted the first.

This case was the perfect example of the prosecution overreaching and stepping on its own dick in the process. After being lied to for weeks, the jury reacted appropriately.

Don West gets the trophy. He's now Don West "as seen on TV".

West was also a well-known local attorney with several high profile cases under his belt before he agreed to second-chair his long-time colleague. After his opening episode of legal Tourette’s, the combative West settled down nicely. He was strong on cross, took no crap from witnesses, stood up to the judge and opposing counsel, and showed real passion. If O’Mara was the master of sangfroid, it was West who brought so much heat that he was still burning after the acquittal. His daughter was right: “dad killed it.”

Monday, July 15, 2013

Be a part of it all, man

Great pop band. So sad two of these guys offed themselves.

I want to be a statistic

I love great rock music whether it was made by punks, hippies, idiots or geniuses. But the words almost always crack me up.

Here's an excerpt from the Wikipedia page for the Descendent's lead singer, Milo Aukerman:

[Milo] Aukerman holds a doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and works as a plant researcher at DuPont in Delaware.[3] The Descendents are still active on occasion, turning up in 2010, replacing Devo to headline the FunFunFunFest in Austin, TX on November 7 and playing Australia in December.

Aukerman has been married since 1996 and is the father of two children.

So what are the odds that this guy has a home in the suburbs? Most rockers either die young or end up squares. Like me. I love being a square; it's awesome. Or maybe it's just that I'm awesome... unclear.

Quick Refresher Course on Crunchy Conservatism

I'm planning to post something soon about the libel flair-up which we've been discussing over here, but I've been too busy to do so, so I'm throwing this out there for now. Not apologizing—see number three here.

I came across this review in New Criterion while googling the phrase "platonic ideal of chickenness". It's seven years old, but I don't remember reading this review when the book Crunchy Conservatives first came out. I might have read it, but either way, I think it's good to read it again and note that Dreher's ideas, his tone and his manner haven't changed very much even though, from what I know, he doesn't use the adjective crunchy that much anymore unless he is referring to his earlier book. WSJ's Joseph Rago, the author, read the book and came to the same conclusions that we did. Here are some excerpts, but the entire thing doesn't take long to read.

The major thinkers, to be sure, may be reinterpreted to meet the conditions of contemporary life. New discoveries must be made. But Dreher’s findings are slight. The novel thing about a “Birkenstocked Burkean,” it seems to me, is not the Burke but the Birkenstocks. Dreher is preoccupied by lifestyle signifiers—the way people dress, the homes they live in, and, particularly, the food they eat. For reasons I can’t comprehend, he has a voracious obsession with the “right” kind of organic food. At one point, he tells a story about a really delicious free-range chicken he ate with his family: “It was … almost the Platonic ideal of chickenness.” Eating is for Dreher a fundamentally political act. “There are many mansions in the American conservative house,” he writes, “and some of them are old and funky and smell like a pot of organic mustard greens cooking down on the stove.” This gives you a taste of his ersatz cracker-barrel folksiness.

Style over substance—check. The phrase which jumped out at me was "Dreher’s findings are slight." This was something we were always noting back in the Contra-Crunchy days. Whenever Dreher said something we agreed with it seemed like others had said it already and usually better and less obnoxiously.

One thing he marginally adds in this is the notion that under our current political alignment, not all conservative ideas belong usufruct to the Republican Party, and indeed the GOP often does things that are not conservative. He further reminds us that not all ideas emanating from the left are bad ones, particularly in regards to the stewardship of the environment. True enough. The traits crunchy cons mainly borrow from the left, however, are sanctimony, condescension, and impermeable self-regard.

Sanctimony, condescension, and impermeable self-regard—check, check, check. Nothing to add to this observation. Crunchy snobbery deserves no more than this bulls-eye waiting room diagnosis.

This is most evident, and most insulting, when Dreher draws distinctions between crunchy cons and regular cons. If you’re not wearing the Birkenstocks, so to speak, you’re not getting Burke. Only those who have been inducted into the mystery cult of crunchy conservatism are leading rich, fulfilling lives. Dreher’s mainstream conservatives are “really” spiritually arid and “really” desire only filthy lucre. “[M]ost people who call themselves conservative today,” he summarizes with by-God certainty, “aren’t really conservative in a deep sense.”

These are severe charges. Regrettably, Dreher is not analytic but impressionistic in his writing. He relies heavily on interviews, which lend to his arraignment an air of sociology, but little evidence or argument. You could say that the crunchy cons believe they’ve cornered the market on virtue—but then, they don’t believe in markets.

Here the money clause is "little evidence or argument". Dreher was incensed at the time because Jonah Goldberg basically denied the existence of crunchy conservatism as a political reality, and challenged him to give evidence of its existence. But proving a theory is beneath the Believer who has unshakeable faith in the object of his Belief. Or maybe what seems like faith is merely disguised delusion based on "impermeable self-regard".

Sunday, July 14, 2013

"We gon' have to kill some crackers"

From the Blaze. So would Obama's son look like this guy? Just asking.

Zimmerman might have been a cop wannabe, but this dude seems like a Chris Rock wannabe to me. He throws some high-larious jokes into his little sermon.