Saturday, October 3, 2009

My bizarre right-wing stalker, Jim Durbin

It's no surprise that writing material that takes on the local tea party movement is going to attract some odd responses. I've gotten used to the bizarre comments and emails that come in as a result of my analysis of the tea partiers and in particular of their exaggerated and blatantly false claims. But one dude, local blogger Jim Durbin, has been strange above all the rest. I originally was planning on ignoring him, but since he just can't seem to quit pestering me, I've decided that it's probably a good idea to systematically document all of his bizarre behavior. It starts out pretty mild, so skip the first couple of paragraphs if you want to see the really weird stuff.

In what seems like eons ago, I wrote a post deconstructing the right-wing claim that a particular video showed that "SEIU thugs" had been sent to a Carnahan event to beat up protesters. In the comments of my post, Jim Durbin showed up and started arguing that the videos were all after-the-fact (contrary to what the right-wing bloggers originally claimed) and that the truth would really be revealed once the police reports came out that next week, just I wait and see (BTW, the reports have still not yet been released). Though he and I disagreed, the conversations were civilized. Durbin made a number of mistakes in trying to understand what I was saying, but at least he wasn't resorting to childish name-calling or bizarre attempts at intimidation.

That all changed after I answered a challenge that Durbin had put forward about the incident. He had written a blog post claiming that we could determine whether Elston McCowan (one of the central SEIU members involved in the scuffle) or David Brown (the "lawyer" representing Kenneth Gladney in the incident) was lying by looking at the button board Gladney was using. McCowan had claimed that the board had pictures of Obama smoking dope; Brown told Durbin that it didn't. So Jim Durbin's hypothesis was that if we could find a picture of the button board, we could determine who was lying. I found a picture of the board, and demonstrated that David Brown was misleading Durbin. Rather than simply admitting that his challenge had been met (though it initially seemed like he was going to), Durbin snapped and started acting in the bizarre ways that are the subject of this post.

Durbin's first freak-out came when I posted a diary about what happened in the aftermath of the incident at McCaskill's Hillsboro town hall where a teabagger grabbed a Rosa Parks sign out of the hands of Maxine Johnson. I posted video from outside of the event of other teabaggers immediately assuming that the entire incident was Johnson's fault, and I stated that they were blaming the victim. Durbin invented a story that I somehow claimed that one of the teabaggers in the video had told Johnson's friend to "shut up," but it's clear from my post that I said nothing of the sort. I merely pointed out that they were blaming Johnson without knowing the details of what happened and that they completely ignored the fact a man illegally ripped a sign out of her hand.

But far be it from Jim Durbin to pay attention to the actual language I used rather than his own invented delusion. His bitterness over the Gladney incident had apparently put him in a rage, and he began a bizarre Twitter tirade where he first called me an "Idiot"
then called me "dishonest,"
and then proclaimed that he had decided to drop, "all pretense of civility," with me.
When I asked him to back up his claim that I was "dishonest," he ignored me. All of this simply because I had posted a video showing the behavior I observed with my own eyes.
Durbin continued this strange name-calling into the future, and apparently even began doing some online research on me. After I participated in a "Billionaires for Wealthcare" counter-rally outside of Claire McCaskill's office, Durbin called our group "a sad bunch" for expressing our right to protest,
and mysteriously referred to me as "their wannabe puppet king."
But even more strange is the fact that he apparently took it upon himself to research me and then posted on his Twitter account that I am a "Washu philosophy assistant professor," (which is actually not true, but I can see how a misinformed person would reach that conclusion)
Name-calling is obviously not an admirable trait, but it's hardly a new phenomenon in political discussions. But the truly bizarre behavior from Durbin is what came next. Durbin, who relishes making personal attacks on people, whether it's me, or Peter Glickert (who filmed the Maxine Johnson incident), or Glenn Burleigh of ACORN, started making bizarre threats about releasing people's home addresses. Here is a message he sent to someone I know:
*24thstate <>*to be clear - if pictures of kids, homes, jobs or personal details are exposed on a site related to you, we will return the favor en masse.
What's odd about this is that no one was releasing any of those things. Considering that no one is doing any of these things, and there was no reason to think that anyone would start doing so, it's hard to interpret the above claim as anything other than a passive-aggressive threat from Durbin. This interpretation is further bolstered by the fact that Durbin repeated this bizarre threat again at a later event. He approached myself and another person at a rally, and again strangely referred to "releasing" people's home addresses (he refers to the St. Louis PushBack Blog in his comments, which I'm pretty sure also does not release anyone's "personal information."):

Why would Durbin, who continuously digs up personal information about people, make these bizarre suggestions to me despite the fact that I've never done anything like what he is suggesting? Why does he feel it's important for people to know that he would be willing to release pictures of "kids, homes, and jobs?" I originally thought it might be because he's worried about the possibility of his angry personal attacks interfering with his businesses Social Media Headhunter and Brandstorming, but that can't be right since he's quite upfront and even proud of the fact that he's involved in both his right-wing attack blog and these businesses:
Given that Durbin is obviously quite comfortable with his business clients knowing about his extreme right-wing views, I had no idea what his strange threats were all about. However, I wasn't paying much attention to it, since I really was not that interested in engaging with him in the first place. I thought that if I just ignored his weird threats, he would eventually leave me alone.

But I underestimated both Durbin's obsessiveness and his hatred of me. His next move was even more strange. He and his sidekick Darin Morley of Reboot Congress actually spent their own money to buy the domain name "St. Louis Activist Hub." They then directed their new site to the St. Louis Tea Party Website and put in a bunch of links to the new site in an apparent attempt to "google bomb" the search results to this new site. Check out the totally weird posts on Reboot Congress
and on Jim Durbin's site:
This actually means next to nothing to me since search engines don't really account for any of the traffic to my site (not that anyone would become a wingnut anyway from accidently clicking on the wrong site), but it's striking that Durbin and Morley are willing to spend their own money for no other purpose than to try to make me angry. This, along with Durbin's weird threats mentioned above, crosses over the line of a typical blogosphere pie-fight into Durbin being someone who is disturbingly fixated on trying to harass another person. If that's not enough, check out Durbin's wacky email to me after his post:

Durbin states, apparently for no reason, that "this is a game to you," and signals that his intent is to make sure that no one believes anything I write ever again. Even more crazily, he suggests that I personally will be responsible if the public option fails. Apparently this is the case because my questioning the Gladney story awoke the sleeping tiger of Jim Durbin, who did some investigative reporting and came to the amazing conclusion that, wait for it, an SEIU employee works for SEIU!!! Durbin apparently literally believed that this revelation was enough to kill the public option. So not only do I have a bizarre stalker, but he's a guy with delusions of self-grandeur as well. Great.

Even so, I was still willing to ignore all of this, since as I said the domain name doesn't really affect me. But I got online a couple days ago and found that, lo and behold, Jim Durbin just can't seem to quit me. He wrote, in response to a Riverfront Times article that showed that David Brown is indeed the huckster I claimed he was, that I am "not to bright" and that he's "disgusted" by my behavior.
He then further claims that the RFT article somehow disproves "my story," because it shows that Gladney and Brown were just out to make a buck and not Tea Party operatives paid to start a fight:
Again, Durbin's analysis shows only that he is delusional. In all of my posts, I never once claimed to know what happened at the incident. All I ever claimed was that the video was not consistent with what the winguts were saying about the video. Keep in mind that the official right-wing story is literally that President Obama, Katherine Sebelius, Russ Carnahan, and/or SEIU sent "thugs" to a tea party to beat up people who disagree with them. The official right-wing story is that the minister Elston McCowan along with three other people were all beating Kenneth Gladney as he was on the ground. My analysis was only intended to show that the video did not appear to be consistent with that story. At no point whatsoever did I claim to know how the fight started, or the entirety of what happened. I certainly never claimed that Gladney or Brown was hired to start a fight. Durbin apparently is not able to differentiate between me saying that the right-wing story is false and someone saying that a different story is true. The strongest claim I made throughout the analysis is the following:
"Here I analyze the video that is the tea baggers' primary evidence, and argue that it seems perfectly consistent with SEIU's story, and rather inconsistent with Gladney's story."
But of course evidence "being consistent" with a story doesn't entail that story is true. The fact that David Brown was selling buttons at the event is consistent both with the right-wingers' story and with SEIU's story, but obviously doesn't entail that both are true. My point was that the video did not contradict the claim that Gladney assaulted McCowan; but that is not the same thing as saying that Gladney did assault McCowan. On the other hand, the video did look like it's inconsistent with the claim that several people were standing around Gladney and beating him.

So at no point did I actually present a "story" claiming to know what happened at the event; I merely pointed out that the story being spun by right-wing extremists like Gateway Pundit did not fit the video. For anyone really dedicated, you can read my posts here, here, here, and here to verify this. Or you can simply read the paragraph I used to introduce my analysis:
First, let me point out that I was out of town that week, and so couldn't be at the event. So I am not claiming to know what happened. In fact, I feel very similar to how I felt before the Iraq War: I didn't know that Saddam Hussein did not possess WMDs; I just knew that no one had provided me with any good evidence that he did. Likewise, right now I have yet to be provided with any good evidence that Gladney was the victim rather than the instigator (or co-instigator) of last Thursday's events. If someone has further evidence that is relevant, I'd be very interested to see it.
Not exactly declaring that I know exactly what happened, am I? Yet Durbin invented in his mind that I am somehow spinning an elaborate tale of what happened that night, and he declares that I'm a "liar" based on his own delusions.

Finally, Durbin can't even resist taking a shot at me while exploring other conspiracy theories. In a post where he joins Bill Hennessy and Dana Loesch in literally believing that Obama sent an "operative" to St. Louis to start a riot, Durbin throws in a weird cheap shot that, "Heck, even Adam Shriver says they only had 500 people at the event" while referring to OFA's rally:
Of course, what I actually said was, "there were well over 500 pro-reform people there (my best guess was 800 to 1000)" so Durbin is blatantly lying yet again.

So, to sum up, Jim Durbin is a guy who:
1. Turns to name-calling even though I never stooped to the level of calling him names,
2. Is delusional to the point of believing that he single-handily killed health care reform by reporting that an SEIU employee works for SEIU,
3. Is also delusional in that he on multiple occasions accuses me of lying over things that he invented and that I never actually said,
4. Worked with Darin Morley to buy a web domain for the sole purpose of trying to make me angry, and
5. Repeatedly makes threats about "releasing names and addresses."

I honestly would be quite happy to never have to write about Jim Durbin again. But if he's going to continue making passive-aggressive threats and pestering me, then I feel an obligation to document his weird behavior.


  1. It seems our side expected a simmering angst to erupt and be channeled. Remember when Candidate Obama was denounced for his remarks at a California fund raiser?

    .......he spoke to a group of his wealthier Golden State backers at a San Francisco fund-raiser last Sunday; Barack Obama took a shot at explaining the yawning cultural gap that separates a Turkeyfoot from a Marin County. "You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them," Obama said. "And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

    The same people that lambasted him for disparaging Joe Six-Pack harness those anxieties.
    Amazingly, of all places, the Post Dispatch recently had a germane article, ‘Missouri Families Left Behind By a Fast-Changing Economy’ (
    Our neighbors have been floundering for quite a while.

    As you observed on Show Me Progress, the PD rarely serves its readers with useful content. With limited information, they’re ripe for recruitment by Tea Baggers and other vested interests for distracting and agitating. It’s the oldest trick in the book. What would happen if, instead of expecting the Jim Durbins to act rationally, people were encouraged to step back and take a long, hard look at their lives and leaders they’ve trusted but who failed to serve them?


  2. Wow, Adam, I didn't think that this guy was going to stick around so long. This Jim Durban character is clearly committed to making you, and leftists in general, look bad. He also does not seem to be of sound mind (relative to the general unsoundness of extreme conservative rhetoric). It's smart of you to keep an eye on him. Please keep us updated.

  3. The dude's a total fuckin' wingnut, what do you expect?

  4. Wait, Adam... does this mean you're not my puppet-master?

  5. I am amazed that he has not moved on. I am wondering if this might be the same person who posted horrid things about me that hurt my family.
    Alas, I am proud to be an Obama "thug". My thuggish behavior includes calling people to exhort them to notify their representatives about health care, not to mention taking those pictures that prove they were lying about the Obama Dope pictures.
    Adam, best wishes to you. Yes, I think it is wise to document what he does, in case he goes off the deep end.

  6. It pays to be vigilant against these crazed and often violent right-wing extremists who seem to have no qualms about using the many weapons they feel the need to possess in their desperate state of never-ending fear. This story gave me pause this morning, as it appears to be as full of holes as most of the Tea Party's rants...

  7. The only good thing I can say about Mr.Durbin and the rest of the flat-earthers is it's better the devil we know. We'll know where to look if anything violent happens to our fellow activists in St.Louis. This guy is a snake, but at least we know what rock to look under.
    Dennis Gilbert