Saturday, July 30, 2011

Carnahan Statement On Debt Ceiling Vote

Statement from Congressman Carnahan on Republicans engineering a preemptive vote on Harry Reid's proposal:
“The Bipartisan Budget Control Act prevents a first-ever default on obligations that have already been incurred and establishes a long-term deficit reduction plan that puts our country on the path to long-term solvency by offering double the long-term budget savings of the Republican plan. And it does so without making cuts to essential programs Missourians depend on such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

“I’ve heard from thousands of Missourians urging me to fight for these priorities, and that’s exactly what I will continue to do. By shooting down the only serious compromise bill left during sensitive negotiations, Republicans are irresponsibly cutting off our only avenue to avoid default and edging us toward the precipice.”

Friday, July 29, 2011

Missouri Record: Breitbart Blogger's Hit Piece On Ed Martin Leads To Criticism of Ann Wagner

I wrote about Dan Riehl's hit piece on Ed Martin posted on Big Goverment and the ensuing fallout last week. According to the Missouri Record, however, that's hardly the end of the story. The Record suggests that Riehl's post attempting to intervene in Missouri politics has actually backfired for Ann Wagner and inspired Ed Martin's "grassroots" supporters:
We suspect that Riehl posted his column on to address Tea Party folks in Missouri and rally them around Wagner—or at least split them from Martin. If that was the case, it appears to have accomplished the exact opposite. Prior to Riehl's piece, there was no criticism of Wagner. Now there is.
The Record also says this:
Now the left-leaning St. Louis Activist Hub has posted a column asserting that the job of criticizing Ann Wagner, "has apparently been outsourced to other tea party members." Any partisan blogger knows well to exacerbate division in the other side, and this is what Activist Hub is attempting to do; except that prior to Reihl's piece, there were no such divisions.
That's not exactly true. Bill Hennessy had previously declared that Ed Martin was the tea party candidate in the race, and promptly had to back down after criticism from Dana Loesch.

Still, it's interesting to see this play out.

Update: Looks like Patrick Tuohey deleted the post, so I changed the link to the Google cache version

Tea Party Cancels "Lame" Rally After Getting Only Three Positive Responses

Wow. The St. Louis Tea Party had previously announced a rally on August 4th that they apparently thought would be big enough to fill Kiener Plaza. Instead, they only got three, that's right, three positive responses:
In early July, we decided to move forwarded with a tongue-in-cheek birthday party for Obama that could also celebrate Calvin Coolidge’s overnight inauguration and USS Nautilus’s first voyage under the North Pole.

Even the people who dreamed up that theme (me included) had a hard time getting all jazzed up about it.

Moreover, we received exactly three positive responses to news of the event. Maybe because no one heard or because everyone thought it was lame.

Despite these headwinds and misgivings, we still planned to hold the event until . . . until someone forgot to secure the insurance and pay for the park.
I happen to know that one of those positive responses was from friend-of-the-Hub flaming liberal Brian Matthews, so I guess that means that the reach of the St. Louis Tea Party now extends to about two conservatives outside of their steering committee.

It's pretty stunning that they could only get three responses, but also amazing that they thought they could book Kiener Plaza, which holds thousands. It's a powerful indication of just how out of touch the St. Louis Tea Party leadership is with local conservatives.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Why I Require An Invite

For basically the past two years, Dana Loesch has been afraid to respond to me as I've challenged her claims on a number of issues, most notably her attempts to destroy individuals' lives like the St. Charles high school teacher who showed a Michael Moore film in a rhetoric class, or the SEIU members at Carnahan's townhall, or the UMSL and UMKC professors teaching a labor studies class. After I debunked her ridiculous initial claims, she started claiming that she "didn't have time to respond to every criticism," and has been afraid to even mention me ever since. Of course, it's perfectly fine for her to mention or respond to whomever she wants, but I find it particularly hilarious when her followers accuse me of being afraid of her because I haven't called in to her radio show.

Though I personally have heard heard Loesch turn down the volume and hang up on callers who are winning arguments against her and realize that debating anything on her radio show would give her a huge advantage of being able to control the content, I would be willing to call in and discuss the issues if she invited me to do so. However, she is afraid to invite me, and her blind followers always claims that I'm "cowardly" or "narcissistic" because I won't call in without an invitation. So this is my explanation why.

First, given that she's afraid to even use my name or Twitter handle, I have no reason to believe she would actually take my call. This is especially true since she won't personally say that I'm invited. But more to the point, I believe in accountability. I have said that I'll call in if she invites me (of course, assuming that it works with my schedule, etc.), so I am therefore accountable. If she invited me, and I never called, that would mean that I was lying. On the other hand, she refuses to personally invite me. So if I called in, got put on hold for two hours, and then was told "too bad," she wouldn't have any accountability anyway. On the other hand, if she invited me but then refused to take my call, I could point out that she was going back against her word (yes yes, her "word" don't laugh).

Furthermore, I made the mistake one time of trusting an angry Republican with my phone number when they promised they would give it to a specific person. For the next two days, I got dozens of angry, threatening phone calls including people who promised to "beat the sh*t" out of me. So I'm not going to let them ID phone number lightly especially when there's absolutely no guarantee that (a) they'd even allow me to speak or (b) they wouldn't send it out to hoards of knuckle-dragging extremists.

Challenge to Andrew Breitbart: Debate Gladney and UMSL While You're In St. Louis

Andrew Breitbart likes to claim that he's willing to engage "anyone," even people who have no particular claim to fame. He also runs around the internet challenging people to "debates" who have better things to do. I probably have better things to do myself than debate a proven charlatan, but I've been especially offended by a couple of his smear campaigns targeting St. Louis institutions and I think he owes us an explanation.

I challenge Andrew Breitbart, while he's in St. Louis for the Smart Girl Summit, to have a debate on his smear campaigns against UMSL and against SEIU. I predict that he will be too gutless to accept, despite the fact that he has no good excuse.

I am as informed as anyone on the left (with the possible exception of some of the people who were smeared) on the details of these cases. I wrote a comprehensive summary as to why the right-wing story claiming that SEIU beat Kenneth Gladney was highly flawed. Naturally, the right-wing cowards were afraid to address these points, claiming that it was "obvious" that Gladney was beaten. Now, even after a jury found after 40 minutes of deliberation that there was no serious evidence that Gladney was beaten, Breitbart and his minions are hilariously running around claiming that Media Matters fixed the case. Yet they have still refused to debate the actual facts.

This is what Media Matters Senior Fellow Eric Boehlert, the man Breitbart is obsessed with, had to say about my coverage:
An additional media note about the sad Gladney chapter: The two-year tale ended up pitting St. Louis blogger Loesch against an upstart local, a liberal blogger named Adam Shriver who runs a site called St. Louis Activist Hub. By the time the not guilty verdict was read yesterday it had become clear to everyone who followed the story that Shriver had absolutely demolished Loesch and her weak Gladney conspiracies.

Right from the outset, Shriver was among the very first bloggers to dissect the Gladney video and raise all kinds of factualdoubts about the tall tale the Tea Party was telling about the “union thugs.” And it was Shriver who stayed on the case since 2009 and who, I think, was largely responsible for helping to reveal, yet again, the kind of serial fabricator that Dana Loesch is. Andrew Breitbart, too.

So in that sense, the Gladney story helped highlight the stark, well-established contrast between the liberal and conservative blogospheres, and how Loesch and Breitbart effortlessly trafficked in lies, while Shriver stuck to the facts and undertook meticulous reporting.
I also took the local lead on reporting on the attempted smear campaign against the University of Missouri St. Louis. I immediately challenged the initial reports and demanded that Breitbart's gang release the full video clips, which they refused to do. I was, I believe, the first person or one of the first people to publish UMKC professor Judy Ancel's statement debunking the lies from Breitbart's sites, and I thoroughly documented the completely dishonest nonsense from Dana Loesch during the ordeal and their meltdown when longer tapes came out. I interviewed two students from the class who rejected the Breitbart version of events. And I posted exclusive video showing members of the tea party (who later posted their story on Breitbart's site) trying to bait students into attacking them. Finally, I worked hard to make sure that our local media covered the story accurately, and they eventually did. I say all of this not to brag or demand credit, but merely to point out that I clearly would be a good person to debate Breibart on this topic. In fact, I'd wager that I know far, far more than him about both of these cases.

So if Breitbart wants to run around the internet chest-thumping and pretending that he's willing to debate anyone, he'd better step up to the plate here. His smear campaigns in St. Louis could easily have destroyed the lives of many innocent victims. If Breitbart has any courage at all, he should be willing to at least offer a justification for his despicable actions.

Finally, I should point out, if I'm wrong and Breitbart does have an ounce of courage, then the debate should be structured in a way where both sides are able to express their views. A mob scene with frequent interruptions would not be adequate.

Tell Breitbart on Twitter or facebook: have a debate when you're in St. Louis!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Professors in NYT Article on O'Keefe Were *Not* Defending His Methods

The New York Times Magazine earlier today published an article on James O'Keefe that in my opinion was worse than a puff piece: it actively defended O'Keefe's methods and relied almost exclusively on quotes that presented O'Keefe's style of dishonest journalism in a positive light without presenting opposing arguments. The article, written by Zev Chafets who is also the author of a highly-flawed book on Rush Limbaugh, tried to establish its objective bona fides by quoting Professor Brooke Kroeger, director of the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University, and Professor Dean Mills, Dean of the Missouri School of Journalism. I thought the quotes used from both of these professors seemed to give O'Keefe a pass for his history of doctoring quotes out-of-context, so I asked them about it over email. Dr. Kroeger made it clear that she was discussing undercover reporting in general, rather than specifically defending the practices of O'Keefe. With her permission, I'm publishing the exchange below.

Here's the original quote from Dr. Kroeger in the article:
“Undercover journalism goes back to at least the 1820s in this country,” says Brooke Kroeger, the director of the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University, who has written a book on the subject, to be published next year. “And the use of hidden cameras to do it came into prominence after World War II.” Muckrakers, of course, are advocates, loved or despised according to the targets they choose. “For years, advocacy groups such as those for a better government have partnered with journalistic organizations,” Kroeger says. “Last year the Humane Society released an undercover video of the inhumane treatment of pigs in Virginia that got picked up by media around the country and won applause from animal lovers. Many of those same people vociferously went after O’Keefe for his exposé of NPR. It’s basically a question of what you care about and what side you are on.”
My email:
Professor Kroeger,

I was very disappointed to see your quote in the recent New York Times Magazine article on James O'Keefe. The quote implied that O'Keefe was using the same undercover techniques as other organizations, and people objected simply because he targeted institutions they cared about. However, the reason most people criticize O'Keefe isn't because he uses undercover video; it's because he deceptively edits the video to change the meaning of people's quotes. This is a huge difference between hiding your true identity to get video and physically doctoring video to change people's words. The later practice can destroy people's lives for things that they didn't even say or do.

I hope if you are writing a book about this subject you take into account the actual critiques of O'Keefe rather than relying on the straw man who criticizes him only because he shoots undercover video.

Thanks for your time,

Adam Shriver
Her response (my emphasis in bold):
Dear Adam Shriver,

Thank you for writing. My comments only were about undercover reporting in general, which, when used selectively, under strict ethical guidelines and controls, has an important place in journalism. The practice also has often been deployed historically in partnerships with advocacy, humanitarian, and better government groups. Sometimes, the work is the direct product of these groups (e.g. the humane society or groups concerned with human trafficking), which subsequently get wider dissemination in the mainstream media.

That's as far as I go and that is all I meant.

Obviously, spurious selective editing is unacceptable journalistically and ethically and would undercut and/or discredit, any project, regardless of its provenance.

But from what I have observed, it also appears true that where there is wide consensus (like against animal cruelty or human trafficking), there's no protest against the undercover project (except perhaps from those engaged in factory farm system or the criminals.) But where there is a political stake and a divided public, there's a loud and immediate protest from those who feel stung -- even before anyone vets the editing and is able to discredit the work.

I hope that's clearer. None of that got into the piece.

Best regards,

Brooke Kroeger
Similarly, Dr. Mills says he was not trying to assess the relative worth of O'Keefe, and in fact does not regard him as a journalist. Here's how Dr. Mills was quoted in the article:
There is no doubt that O’Keefe disseminated only the material that supported his thesis about Acorn, but this kind of selectivity is the norm in advocacy journalism. “I put James O’Keefe in the same category as Michael Moore,” says Dean Mills, dean of the University of Missouri’s school of journalism. “Some ethicists say it is never right for a journalist to deceive for any reason, but there are wrongs in the world that will never be exposed without some kind of subterfuge.”
Here's my email to Dr. Mills:
Professor Mills,

I was very disappointed to see your quote in the recent New York Times Magazine article on James O'Keefe. The quote implied that O'Keefe was using the same undercover techniques as Michael Moore, and suggested that the only criticism of him was his "selectivity." However, the reason most people criticize O'Keefe isn't because he uses undercover video or is "selective"; it's because he deceptively edits the video to literally change the meaning of people's quotes. This is a huge difference between hiding your true identity to get video and physically doctoring video to change people's words. The later practice can destroy people's lives for things that they didn't even say or do.

In fact, earlier this year people (including one of O'Keefe's friends) used techniques almost identical to O'Keefe to try to attack the University of Missouri system by doctoring professors' quotes. O'Keefe and Breitbart represent everything you should be opposed to as someone who respects the institution of journalism.

Thanks for your time,

Adam Shriver
His response (my emphasis in bold):
Excellent point. Thanks for taking the time to write.

I would only say that I was not attempting to assess the relative worth or ethics of Moore and O'Keefe overall. I was speaking only to the narrower point of whether either one is a journalist. I think neither is. I think they are both advocates.

Dean Mills

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tea Party Blog: Ann Wagner is "Insider" Who Hangs Out In D.C. Swamps

Now that Dana Loesch has officially tugged Bill Hennessy's leash to prevent him from criticizing Ann Wagner on behalf of Ed Martin, that job has apparently been outsourced to other tea party members.

Some quotes from 24th State:
Ann Wagner had an event yesterday and one today in the feted[sic] swamp of Washington, D.C.
Say what you will, those are not the trappings of an outsider candidate. Not that Ms. Wagner has presenter her as such. I just prefer outsider candidates.
Pretty mild mannered criticism, but it's interesting that Ed Martin's folks seem to be doing most of the attacking lately.

By the way, I think he probably meant "fetid" swamp.

Update: Forgot to mention that this line of attack just happens to correspond perfectly to one Ed Martin was pushing in his tweets:

Loesch Not Aware that Opinions Are Expressed on Editorial Pages

You just can't get anything past that Dana Loesch. The "media critic" who purportedly runs the site Big Journalism yesterday brilliantly unveiled a New York Times employee expressing his personal opinion!! Here's the tweet in question:

Loesch described this as "Bias in the media" and titled her piece "The Totally Objective New York Times Weighs In On GOP Response." The only problem with her astute observation is that Andrew Rosenthal is not a reporter, but the Editorial Page Editor at the New York Times. You know, the place in the newspaper where opinions are expressed.

I hope nobody tells Loesch that the St. Louis Post-Dispatch also has an editorial page or we'll be in for months worth of brilliant media criticism.

h/t to Eric Boehlert and Simon Maloy.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Congressman Clay Says Deal Must Not Cut Medicare and Social Security Benefits

Congressman Lacy Clay joined 80 house progressive caucus members in signing a letter to Leader Pelosi and President Obama.

The press release:
WASHINGTON, DC- Congressman Wm. Lacy Clay (D) Missouri joined with eighty members of the House Progressive Caucus as signatories to a letter directed to Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, and copied to President Obama, insisting that any compromise package to reduce the deficit and raise the debt ceiling must not harm basic Medicare and Social Security benefits.

“This is a time for shared sacrifice, not devastating cuts to seniors and our most vulnerable citizens. If we’re serious about reducing the deficit and raising the debt ceiling in a responsible way, then we have to cut spending and increase revenue…especially from those wealthy individuals and corporations who have accumulated great wealth while working families and seniors on fixed incomes have suffered great hardships,” said the Congressman. “I am pleased to join with my Progressive Caucus colleagues to send this strong message that any negotiation must protect the vital interests of seniors, children and the disabled. That means that basic Medicare and Social Security benefits must not be bargained away.” Leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Asian Pacific American have also signed the letter which says that middle-class families “have sacrificed enough, and a deal that pushes the American Dream further out of reach, in order to pay for extending tax breaks for the rich and corporations, is simply unacceptable.”

“We are united as Democrats in saying that it’s time to stand up to the Republican hostage-taking. We will not be forced to vote for a “final agreement” that we do not agree to -- and that the American people do not agree to. We stand united with you in insisting that benefit cuts for working families, our seniors, children, and people with disabilities must be off the table, and we stand united with you in fighting for millions of Americans who need Democrats to be firmly on their side,” the letter continues.

Signatories include CPC Co-Chairs Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva and Keith Ellison, along with Reps. Baca, Karen Bass, Bordallo, Brown, Carson, Christiansen, Chu, Yvette Clarke, Hansen Clarke, Clay, Cleaver, Cohen, Conyers, Critz, Cummings, Danny Davis, DeFazio, DeLauro, Deutch, Doggett, Edwards, Farr, Fattah, Filner, Frank, Fudge, Garamendi, Al Green, Gutierrez, Hahn, Hinchey, Hirono, Holmes Norton, Holt, Jesse Jackson Jr., Sheila Jackson Lee, Hank Johnson, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Kaptur, Kildee, Kucinich, Barbara Lee, John Lewis, Lofgren, Lynch, Maloney, Markey, McCollum, McDermott, McGovern, Moore, Nadler, Napolitano, Oliver, Pallone, Payne, Pingree, Rangel, Reyes, Richardson, Richmond, Rothman, Roybal-Allard, Tim Ryan, Sablan, Schakowsky, Serrano, Stark, Sutton, Bennie Thompson, Tierney, Tonko, Towns, Waters, Waxman, Frederica Wilson, Woolsey, and Wu.

The full text of the letter is below.

Dear Leader Pelosi,

We write in strong agreement with your unwavering defense of the Democratic programs that form the bedrock of America’s middle and working classes, and which are overwhelmingly popular.

On July 7, you made very clear that “We are not going to balance the budget on the backs of America’s seniors, women and people with disabilities” and that “we do not support cuts in benefits” for vital safety-net programs. We agree completely.

Especially in these tough economic times, we should not be cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits that millions of our constituents paid into and depend on. Such benefit cuts should be off the table in current debt discussions.

Our Republican colleagues should be embarrassed by their insistence that unless Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits are cut, the nation will default on its debts. Middle-class families have sacrificed enough, and a deal that pushes the American Dream further out of reach, in order to pay for extending tax breaks for the rich and corporations, is simply unacceptable.

We are united as Democrats in saying that it’s time to stand up to the Republican hostage-taking. We will not be forced to vote for a “final agreement” that we do not agree to -- and that the American people do not agree to.

We stand united with you in insisting that benefit cuts for working families, our seniors, children, and people with disabilities must be off the table, and we stand united with you in fighting for millions of Americans who need Democrats to be firmly on their side.

Loesch Publicly Humiliates Steelman Campaign

Dana Loesch attacked the Sarah Steelman campaign over Twitter and Facebook today because they misspelled "athletes:"

Steelman staffer Lucas Case responded by saying he's never seen so much hate "toward fellow conservatives:"

Loesch responded with her typical childish antics:

But as Case pointed out, why didn't Loesch just send an email rather than making a big scene about it?

Naturally, Loesch described this suggestion as "trying to crush dissent even from the right:"

Wait, did she just say "Right?" Oh dear...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Dana Loesch Further Embarrasses Herself

I just got done pointing out that Dana Loesch uses the term "right wing" in exactly the same way she was criticizing during her post comparing liberals to Nazis, which happens to be the way pretty much everyone uses the term. She responded by claiming that her bio was written by "the marketing department," implying, I guess, that she's not responsible for the terminology:

Oh, that darn marketing department! But I wonder where they got the expression "member of the vast right wing conspiracy?" Seems like the kinda thing you wouldn't just pull out of thin air. Could it be that the marketing department used the term to describe Loesch because she uses it regularly on her blog:

Or maybe it's because she regularly tweets the expression.

Either way, it's quite clear that her attempt to pretend that she doesn't use the term is an act of desperation.

Loesch Say Liberals Are "Right-Wing" Just Like the Nazis, But Accidently Smears Herself

I'm not very interested in making broad sweeping generalizations about political ideologies based on the actions of fringe extremists, but a recent post by Dana Loesch is so mind-numbingly dumb, even by her standards, that I feel compelled to respond. Loesch appears to be arguing that the media is making a huge mistake in using the term "right-wing" to apply to both modern U.S. conservatives and to the conservative, immigrant-hating, Islamaphobic, Christian fundamentalist apparently responsible for the recent terrorist attack in Oslo. Loesch claims, amazingly, that the "true meaning" of the term "right-wing" actually corresponds to modern day liberals. For dramatic effect, she posts a photo of a Nazi driving a knife through the Bible.

Loesch's argument rests upon a small passage from Wikipedia. One might think that someone trying to explain the definition of a word might consult dictionaries that, you know, provide definitions for words, but we're not dealing with people who are in any way tethered to reality here. We should just be happy she didn't cite Gateway Pundit. Anyway, the Wikipedia passage states the following:
The terms Right and Left were coined during the French Revolution, referring to seating arrangements in parliament; those who sat on the right supported preserving the institutions of the Ancien Régime (the monarchy, the aristocracy and the established church). Use of the term “Right” became more prominent after the second restoration of the French monarchy in 1815 with the Ultra-royalists.
From this, she somehow infers the following:
Using Norway’s government as an example: Norway is ruled by the Labour Party, a socialist party, and is affiliated with the Party of European Socialists. The Labour Party embraces the Keynesian economic theory and more centralized state control. This, according to the proper definition of the term “right wing,” would classify not only Norway’s socialist Labour Party as “right wing,” but would also classify America’s Democratic Socialists as “right wing.” Nazis, officially the National Socialist Party, would be correctly classified as “right wing.” Ideologies which oppose such heavy-handed government control would be accurately considered “left-wing.”
It's honestly hard to even know where to begin with such a ridiculous argument. First of all, she's not even capable of reading and understanding the full Wikipedia article, and instead relies on cherry-picking quotes. For example, the same article she cites says that "right-wing" is defined in opposition to "socialism or social democracy" and includes the philosophies of, "conservatism, Christian democracy, liberalism, libertarianism, and nationalism." These considerations, of course, point to the exact opposite of the conclusion she draws. But Loesch can't even settle for cherry-picking her quotes: she also selectively ignores parts of the passages that she does quote. Out of all the various characteristics of the original "right," she chooses just one property, "heavy-handed government control," as the only relevant defining feature. The fact that pretty much no one else took that to be the only defining feature seems irrelevant to her. One gets the impression that if she had seen a painting of someone on the "right" from France with long hair, she would have declared that the correct definition of "right-wing" means 'long hairs," and would have been happy to label anyone who disagrees with her as "historically ignorant."

Even if her description of the original term had been correct (it's clearly not), you have to wonder what cave she's been living in to think that the "true meaning" of a term is determined solely by it's original usage. Language and the meaning of words change over time, and claiming that you're using the 1815 definition of a term is a pretty good way to ensure that no one will want to speak with you.

Furthermore, what exactly is the point of Loesch's desperate attempt to rewrite history? The media wasn't calling the apparent shooter "right-wing" because his email address was They called him right wing because his political views lined up with the political views of the far right in the U.S. (and Europe): he's anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, a Christian fundamentalist, etc. So if the term "right wing" was mistakenly applied to him, then it's also mistakenly applied to a lot of conservatives in the U.S., but this doesn't change the fact that the Oslo shooter's views align more with them than with U.S. liberals. So even if Loesch's revisionary history was correct, it would have zero relevance for the discussion of the guy's politics.

But finally, the most hilarious thing in my opinion is that Loesch, in doing her traditional pose-as-an-intellectual-by-carelessly-throwing-together-some-quotes-from-Wikipedia routine, has managed to smear herself. She started her essay with the following;
I loathe when American conservatives define themselves as “right wing” anything, even in jest — just as I loathe when the liberal press uses it as identification for American conservatives — because it is an inaccurate use of the term.
She later says "the media" is "ignorant" and "callous" for using the term. So isn't it just kind of hilarious to find that Loesch describes herself as "right-wing" on her radio show profile:

Yep, a proud "member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy." Which, by her brilliant reasoning standards, means she is One With the Nazis, and the hippies for that matter. Just another day of thoughtful analysis from this CNN employee.

H/t to @BillStreeter who had an interesting Twitter exchange with Loesch on this subject yesterday.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Wagner Says Martin Is Purposefully Misleading the People of the 2nd District

As noted earlier here and at Fired Up Missouri, Ed Martin is up to his usual tricks of claiming that his opponent "skipped" a debate. His Republican primary opponent Ann Wagner is now calling him out on it:

During his race against Carnahan, Martin's tea party supporters believed absolutely anything he said, no matter how implausible it was. It will be interesting to see if that still holds true now that he's using the same tactics against Republican opponents.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Dana Loesch Accuses Ed Martin of "Being Disingenuous"

Yesterday, Ed Martin implied that Ann Wagner backed out of a debate at the last minute:
For almost a month, a candidate forum between Ed Martin and Ambassador Ann Wagner hosted by the St. Charles Young Republicans has been scheduled. Ed was there to answer questions and talk about why he signed the “Cut, Cap, Balance Pledge.” However, Ambassador Wagner was a no show.

Today, however, Dana Loesch suggested that Martin was being "disingenuous":

Hmm, I seem to remember similar stunts back when Martin was opposing Carnahan. What a coincidence!

Questions About Big Government's Hit Piece On Ed Martin

After Dana Loesch criticized St. Louis Tea Party founder Bill Hennessy for attempting to defend Ed Martin against a recent Big Government post, Bill Hennessy predictably apologized to Big Government editor Mike Flynn and Loesch and pretty much everybody else. Interestingly, this is the second time in the past couple months that Hennessy had to retreat with his tail between his legs for advocating on behalf of Ed Martin. In May, after Loesch said she was "aggravated" by Hennessy writing a post saying that Martin was "the tea party candidate," Hennessy had to issue multiple clarifications saying that the post was just his opinion and didn't represent the views of the tea party.

But Hennessy's bowing to authority notwithstanding, I think there are a lot of questions that can be raised about why Big Government was used as a vehicle for a hit piece against Ed Martin. Here are a few:

  • Why would Big Government publish a post about a Republican primary over a year away from the actual election? I am fairly familiar with Big Government and the site is generally not used as a place for arguments about Republican primaries. In fact, a casual glance shows that out of the last 100 posts on Big Government, the hit piece on Martin is the only attempt to get involved in GOP primaries (It's probably even worse than this, but I'm not interested in spending time on it). When Big Government is used as a forum for primary arguments, it would generally be for races with clear "establishment" candidates versus more conservative or tea partyish challangers, but the Martin/Wagner race does not fit that billing.
  • Are Mike Flynn and/or Dan Riehl exchanging favors with Ann Wagner? Why would they avoid their site's usual protocol to get involved in a Congressional primary fight in Missouri? It's worth noting that Riehl advocated for Ann Wagner on Big Government during the race for RNC chairs as well. Editor Flynn also spoke positively about her. Is there some reason they're intervening on her behalf rather than letting Missouri voters make up their own mind?
  • Does Dana Loesch have a reason to root for Wagner? As mentioned above, Loesch has twice attacked Bill Hennessy after Hennessy advocated for Ed Martin. Yet, as far as I know, she never criticized Riehl for sticking his nose in the Missouri primary. In fact, she gave Riehl a #FollowFriday shout-out on Twitter today after Riehl's attacks on Martin. Wagner also used Dana Loesch's show to announce her candidacy. What are Loesch's reasons for apparently taking sides against Martin, whom she supported during the last election? By the way, for the record, Loesch has now supported the establishment candidate over the tea partier in pretty much every local election of consequence since the tea party began.
  • Does Ann Wagner have anything to do with the hit job on Martin? Is sure would be strange for a national blog to randomly attack Wagner's opponent without any provocation. Does Wagner's campaign have something to do with it?

  • Obviously, I'm no fan of Ed Martin. But I do find these recent events a little puzzling.

    Thursday, July 21, 2011

    Wash U's Decision Not to Pay Bristol Palin $20,000 To Speak About Abstinence Looking Better All The Time

    Remember when Washington University was going to pay Bristol Palin $20,000 to speak as an "abstinence expert" but eventually rescinded the offer after justified outrage from the students about spending huge amounts of money on someone who's only expertise was getting pregnant and being famous? And then remember how Dana Loesch and other conservatives freaked out about the fact that the Wash U student body made their own decisions about how they spent their money? Yeah, well it now seems like it was a pretty good call by the student government:
    Sarah Palin is going to be a grandmother again. Eldest child Track Palin married high school sweetheart Britta Hanson two months ago, and now we hear that Britta is pregnant. The picture above of "Britta Pie," which was posted on a Wasilla friend's Facebook wall, confirms the news she's expecting. Britta looks to be several months along—perhaps more than two months?

    ...given the timing of Britta's pregnancy, the happy couple may want to tell Sarah Palin to shut up the next time she champions abstinence-only education or Bristol sermonizes against extramarital sex, lest the conception of another Palin grandchild and the rationale behind another well-publicized Palin marriage fall into question.
    The couple had a small ceremony in May, and is planning on a larger one in the winter.

    Now I don't really care about the Palins' personal lives and don't see any reason to criticize Track or his wife or do anything but wish them the best. However, I do think this is pretty good evidence that paying $20,000 to Bristol for a lecture on the Magic of Abstinence Education would have been a pretty embarrassing ordeal.

    Hennessy Calls Riehl An "Establishment Tool." Riehl and Loesch Respond

    As I mentioned, Dan Riehl wrote a post on Breitbart's Big Government site slamming Ed Martin's shoddy past and questionable viability as a candidate. Ed Martin loyalist Bill Hennessy, founder of the St. Louis Tea Party, responded to this by calling Riehl an "establishment tool:"

    To which Riehl responded with this zinger:

    Meanwhile, Dana Loesch went on the attack against Hennessy's claim that Ed Martin was opposed to the "Missouri GOP establishment:"

    Despite Best Efforts of the Show Me Institute, St. Louis Will Add Thousands of Jobs

    Rex Sinquefield's Show Me Institute has been vigorously pushing against a tax credit bill that would pave the way for an international cargo hub in the St. Louis region expected to generate thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity. In the past week, SMI helped push the narrative that the guy who "literally wrote the book on the Aerotropolis concept" was opposed to building the hub in St. Louis. However, a blog post by Frank DeGraaf at NextSTL effectively demolished this argument:
    In the Nicklaus column [author] Lindsay is quoted as saying: "Chinese carriers will come until the subsidies run out, then they look again at their balance sheets and pull out.” This is not at all how the tax credits will work. The Chinese are not receiving any subsidies. They are willing to come to St. Louis on their own dime. What they want from us is an investment in warehouses to accommodate freight forwarders and logistics companies in order to build the critical mass needed to establish a network around the hub. Freight forwarders don’t like to build their own warehouses. The strategy is to encourage the building of state-of-the-art facilities and give a tax credit on goods exported from Lambert.
    And as the RCGA's Dick Fleming said (as quoted by the St. Louis American):
    But Lindsay admitted to KMOX’s Mark Reardon that he’d never been to St. Louis, and he showed no signs that he had read or understood the proposed Missouri legislation. Nor did he take into account that Lambert has a ‘mega customer’ – China – for their cargo hub...

    Lindsay appeared not to understand that the core incentive does not even get triggered until AFTER the facilities are built, the cargo flows and the jobs are here. That also means that as the incentives produce results, the State would be able to add to them and produce even more benefit.
    So, just for the record, the Show Me Institute is now on the record against Metrolink, against the earnings tax that generates nearly 1/3 of the city's revenue, and against a bill that would help create 12,000 to 15,000 jobs in the St. Louis region. One of their recent publications worried that the proposal would give St. Louis leaders too much "power." In fact, the Show Me Institute has even teamed up with the coffin-carrying, effigy-burning, Hitler referencing St. Louis tea party to push their agendas. With actions like these, it's hard for me to take seriously SMI's claims that they are dispassionate analysts objectively evaluating the data rather than extreme partisans on an ideological crusade.

    Breitbart Blogger Trashes Ed Martin In Favor of GOP Establishment Candidate Ann Wagner

    On Andrew Breitbart's site Big Government, a new post by Dan Riehl is dissing Email Ed Martin and suggesting that Ann Wagner is a better candidate for the Republicans. Riehl kicks it off by citing this quote from Bungaloo Bill slamming Ed Martin:
    He threw his name in the US Senate race. In time, Ed Martin realized he was no match for Sarah Steelman's lackluster campaign. How sad is that! Steelman's last two fundraising quarters has many in the media calling the campaign in real trouble.

    So Martin wandered off into another US House race only to have Ann Wagner join the race too. Once again, we see the lack of enthusiasm for Mr. Martin.
    Riehl then adds many of his own negative observations about Martin:
    In fact, some of what I’ve seen on and from Martin is at least mildly troubling – enough so to raise a red flag, or two....
    Ed Martin bailed on a Senate race when the mountain looked too steep to climb. While I have no desire to question his dedication, or commitment, it simply doesn’t speak well for him going into a potentially challenging raise against an experienced, likely well-funded and slick hand like Carnahan...
    In addition to those concerns, Martin not only dropped his Senate bid, he did it for a House race in a District in which he doesn’t even live. Unfortunately, that makes him look like someone more interested in calculating his way to the easiest path to Washington, not someone ready for a fight no matter the odds, as he might proclaim.
    Visiting his site, I noticed a call by Martin for both he and Wagner to pledge allegiance to Reagan’s so-called 11th Commandment – thou shalt speak no ill of a fellow Republican. Why is that? He doesn’t cite any attack from Wagner, so it comes off as weak, even defensive somehow.
    Riehl then goes on to mention Email Ed's ethical problems when he was Chief of Staff for Matt Blunt, and claims that even Gateway Pundit supports Ann Wagner over Martin!

    Anyway, Riehl's post reads like a list of talking points from the Wagner campaign, so one has to wonder if Reagan's 11th Commandment hasn't already been breached. But if even Breitbart bloggers including Hoft are supporting Wagner, it looks like Ed Martin's nonstop political campaigning might finally be over in 2012.

    Friday, July 15, 2011

    Fact-Checking Loesch's Response to Alex Pareene

    Dana Loesch likes to pretend she's an "expert" on the Gladney story because it happened in St. Louis. She actually knows very little about it, and has from the beginning simply relied on other tea partiers like 24th State and Gateway Pundit to give her talking points on the subject.

    So it's especially hilarious to see her go after Alex Pareene's entertaining post on the Gladney case.

    Loesch's first criticism of Pareene is the following:
    Can Pareene explain to me how the video of the incident begins with Gladney on the ground as SEIU members stand over him? In fact, can any progressive explain this? They act as though a much-smaller Gladney attacked the SEIU members’ feet with his head.
    Actually, here's a clip from 2 seconds into the video showing Gladney standing menacingly above Elston McCowan, one of the SEIU members Loesch accuses of assault, as McCowan is lying on the pavement:

    Now it's true that at the very beginning of the video, both McCowan and Gladney are on the ground. However, it's not true that "SEIU thugs" are standing over Gladney. The people immediately around Gladney (other than McCowan laying on the ground) are John Mirelli and Sandra Himes, both tea partiers. Furthermore, since I was at the trial, and Loesch was not (and hence has no idea what she's even criticizing), I can tell you that the defense witnesses all explained that McCowan and Gladney were scuffling and fell to the ground. On the other hand, absolutely none of the prosecution's witnesses could explain why the video starts with McCowan laying on the ground, even though they were all standing right by him as the video starts. In fact, Gladney had previously told Fox News that McCowan had "laid himself on the ground" and was faking an injury:

    But the problem with Gladney's story was that medical reports from that night and x-rays showed that McCowan had dislocated his shoulder and, in fact, even fractured a bone. On the other hand, Gladney didn't even have any medical records that were worth showing in court (24th State says the big evidence was that he was given "pain pills").

    Loesch then criticized Pareene for saying that Gladney didn't have insurance:
    Pareene here demonstrates a classic example of more zeal than knowledge. He wanted to write something nasty about this case more than he wanted to sound knowledgeable about it. Gladney was insured, in fact, through his wife’s employer. I’m sure Pareene didn’t bother checking Gladney’s medical records with the hospital either to see the extent of Gladney’s injuries, as other bloggers have done, since he couldn’t bother to verify whether or not Gladney was insured.
    Now, it's true that Gladney did turn out to have insurance. But what Loesch fails to mention is that the reason people initially thought Gladney didn't have insurance is because Gladney and tea partiers told reporters Gladney didn't have insurance. Here's St. Louis Tea Party founder Bill Hennessy asking for donations for medical expenses at the tea party's first Gladney rally (the one with Gladney in a wheelchair).

    So yeah, the tea party first claimed Gladney didn't have insurance in order to generate more sympathy for him and raise cash for him, but then turned around and accused reporters of being "liars" when the irony of someone not have insurance was pointed out. As for Loesch's claim that "some bloggers" got medical records from the hospital, she probably shouldn't be talking about that, since she was previously thoroughly embarrassed on the subject.

    Oh, and Loesch also completely misses the fact that her fellow tea partier admitted that the wheelchair was a "bad prop" yesterday.

    After Pareene mocked the fact that conservatives complain about "ambulance-chasing" but seemed OK with Gladney's stunts, Loesch said the following:
    Gladney wore a neck brace to the trial because he just had spinal surgery
    Yeah, except that KMOX told them that Gladney said it was because of the fight:
    Gladney had testified that he underwent recent neck surgery not related to the August 2009 fight. Later, outside the court, Gladney told a reporter he belived his neck problems were the result of “blunt trauma” he suffered in the fight.
    Whoops! Sounds like another failed prop!

    Pareene also laughed at Loesch and Breitbart's allegations of a Grand Conspiracy at work behind the jury's decision:
    Apparently SEIU and Media Matters for America and George Soros and the Tides Foundation and Eric Boehlert and the city of Montclair, N.J., acting on orders from the White House, all used their wizard powers to convince a jury in St. Louis that Kennedy Gladney was not actually assaulted. And that is how the vast left-wing conspiracy works.
    Loesch responded with the following:
    Actually, that wasn’t the point at all, but again, I don’t expect someone who doesn’t know he should verify information before he prints it to possess the reading comprehension required to understand the intent.
    But, actually, that was the point, as Breitbart's tweets made clear:

    Breitbart was insanely suggesting that Eric Boehlert had somehow tampered with the "justice system." Could you get any more idiotic than that? I mean, other than Dana Loesch's blog posts.

    Nearly Two Years Later, Tea Party Finally Admits Gladney Wheelchair Was a Prop

    It's been really funny watching the "editorial board" over at spin out reasons why McCowan and Molens are unquestionably guilty and twelve jurors were somehow duped by the mind control powers of defense attorney Paul D'Agrosa. It took the jury about 50 minutes to reach a "not guilty verdict," but it only took five minutes for 24th State to convince themselves that if they were prosecutors, half of the city of St. Louis would be in jail right now due to the totally awesome cross-examination questions they came up with.

    One admission during 24th State's I-could-totally-be-a-real-lawyer-if-I-put-my-mind-to-it routine caught my eye:

    So basically, after spending two years posting photos of Gladney in a wheelchair (Gateway Pundit is still doing so) and after attacking anyone who questioned the wheelchair as unconscionable, the St. Louis tea party is now admitting that it was a political prop and blaming it on David Brown, Gladney's mysterious boss/spokesperson/lawyer who allegedly called Gladney his "gravy train." The fact that it was a prop surprises absolutely no one, but it is interesting to see them finally admit it.

    Just goes to show once again that the tea party is so convinced that they're right about, well, something, that they're willing to lie about anything. They probably don't even think there was anything wrong with having Gladney come out faking an injury so bad that he needed a wheelchair. After all, in Tea Party World, the ends justify the means in their war against the evil hippies, and that's exactly why no one should take what they say at face value.

    Thursday, July 14, 2011

    Breitbart and Loesch Attempt to Reanimate Zombie Lies About UMSL/UMKC

    Now that their smear campaign against SEIU has embarrassingly fallen apart, Andrew Breitbart and Dana Loesch are attempting to revitalize another failed attempt to smear a St. Louis institution. If you recall, Loesch and Breitbart shamelessly pushed the idea that professors at UMSL and UMKC were "advocating violence" in their labor studies class. After Media Matters and Crooks and Liars exposed the fact that these videos were heavily edited, the student who leaked the videos, Phil, wrote a post at Big Government attempting to change the subject from the dishonest edits to his objections to the course content. Needless to say, downgrading from claiming that professors were "advocating violence" back to the standard right-wing attacks on academic freedom was not very impressive, and the whole thing was a huge blow to the credibility of Loesch, Breitbart, and the student.

    Now Phil is back with new allegations, attempting to spin emails obtained in a freedom of information request into a grand conspiracy. The whole thing might just be an attempt to distract from the embarrassing Gladney verdict, but it can be fairly easily responded to, and I do so here.

    First, Phil claimed that university officials were "conspiring to punish" him. He admitted leaking all 30 hours of video of the course to a number of his "friends" (whom he doesn't name, naturally). The video, including out-of-context clips of other students making comments in class, was later posted on youtube without the permission of any of the other students. This at least appeared to be a violation of the other students' privacy rights, since they had the expectation of being allowed to speak freely in class without their comments being broadcast to the world, as well as the course Acceptable Use Policy and copyright law. People pay tuition money to attend class; you obviously cannot just hand out 30 hours of video of the entire course for free. In other words, Phil sure appeared to violate the rules of UMSL and potentially the law, and the administrators were discussing the appropriate response to him violating the rules. Along those lines, they said such controversial things as:
    Clearly the AUP was violated as was the copyright.
    - UMKC Vice Provost Mary Lou Hines Fritts
    If he has violated the policies,he should be barred from the use of our campus technology in the future.
    - UMSL Provost Glen Cope
    Also, do you know the name of the student who assisted ripping the videos? If he/she is a student registered at UMSL, then we would like to proceed with student conduct actions relative to the rules that have been broken (appropriate usage, etc).
    - UMSL Provost Glen Cope

    The administrators were discussing whether they should punish a student who appeared to have violated university rules. This is what Phil calls "conspiring to punish" him.

    Phil also claims that the school "no longer wanted to talk" to him after he showed up with an attorney because "they discovered they couldn't bully a powerless student." In the absence of any evidence, Phil apparently decides to pretend that he can divine the motives and inner thoughts of university officials, and so completely invents a narrative via his imagination. I can't claim to know why they dropped the investigation either, but this was included in his documents:
    As you are no longer a student at the University of Missouri-Saint Louis, please disregard my latter dated May 5, 2011.
    -UMSL Assistant to the Vice Provost D'Andre Braddix - June 9

    Now it's my understanding that Phil's apparent violations of the rules would not affect his grade in the class, but rather his future privileges. But since he was no longer a student at UMSL (having graduated from Wash U with credits from the UMSL class), the other disciplinary actions against him would have been meaningless. So that's a perfectly good explanation for why they dropped the investigation that doesn't need to rely on any unfounded assumptions about secret, diabolical motivations of university officials.

    Another allegation of Phil was that the university was "relying" on liberal blogs for their information. He also suggested that UMSL Provost Glen Cope didn't watch all of the videos. His evidence for that claim? The following:
    I would not be sure of the veracity of what he says, given the video experience and my viewing of videos from the class. I've reviewed videos from the class, and so have people from UMKC. There is nothing in the content of the class, though quite controversial, that if[sic] inappropriate for a political science/labor studies class. People may object to many things that are taught and discussed in many classes if they had the opportunity to do so, since universities cover controversial subjects. this is truly an academic freedom issue.
    - UMSL Provost Glen Cope

    Breitbart flunky (and failed politician) Joel Pollak managed to squeeze this ridiculous interpretation out of the statement:
    If she had seen all of the videos, Cope would have said so, and would have been certain whether Phil was telling the truth or not.
    Actually, Phil said things in his blog post that were questions of interpretation and also referred to things said out of class, so the claim that "she would be certain" about Phil's testimony is false and lazy analysis.

    Pollak further cites this quote as evidence that the university was getting their information from "liberal blogs:"
    Media Matters did our work for us in showing how it's edited.
    - UMSL Senior Vice Chancellor Ron Gossen

    But this quote was not referring to reviewing the evidence, but rather the presentation of the evidence. Media Matters had done the work of producing a video that showed how the original quotes were taken out of context. The University did not need to rely on Media Matters to see whether the videos were misleadingly edited since anyone with a functioning brain could see that. However, even after knowing that, the videos had to be presented to show the evidence.

    The other "evidence" that the university was "relying" on "liberal blogs" was simply that they had sent out links to posts at Crooks and Liars and Media Matters. But the university had also sent out links to articles at Big Journalism and Big Government, and there was no evidence that any of these blogs influenced how they approached the situation.

    One last note: Phil took issue with one of the emails saying that he has a history of this kind of thing. He claims he doesn't. I don't know if he does or not, but I will say that he participated in the gulag display where James O'Keefe attempted to smear Washington University officials with secretly recorded and edited video.

    But I'll agree that it would be a mistake to assume that Phil took the class for the sole purpose of sabotaging it. However, the real question is whether he broke the rules of the course or the law, and that is precisely what the officials were looking into.

    And, furthermore, all of this is a distraction from the real issue that Breitbart and Loesch deceptively edited video and audio to put inflammatory words in the mouths of the course instructors, and that Phil allowed this dishonest information to fester until it was exposed as a hoax.

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011

    Russ Carnahan Posts Personal Record Fundraising Numbers

    Pretty good numbers, especially for a guy targeted by the GOP during the redistricting process:

    Of course, no one knows what Carnahan will be running for, but he'll have a solid war chest regardless.

    Whoops! Yet Another Failed Tea Party Gladney Conspiracy Theory

    A St. Louis Tea Party blog has another conspiracy theory about the trial. They write the following:
    Setting aside all of the peripheral evidence, the case came down to two witnesses for the prosecution stating they saw McCowan and Molens attack Gladney, versus a witness for the defense who made the claim that Kenneth started the "fight" by slapping the hand of Elston McCowan.

    It was up to the jury to determine which witness testimony was most reliable
    First of all, that's not technically true. It was up to the jury to determine if there was evidence "beyond a reasonable doubt" that the two defendants assaulted Gladney. Even if one witness was "more credible" than another, that wouldn't prove anything beyond a reasonable doubt (BTW, as I've previously noted, the prosecution's witness John Mirelli does not seem very credible).

    Anyway, they identify the witness as the woman with the cane in this video, seen in the screen shot below.

    Their speculation that this is the witness is correct. Hilariously, Gladney had previously claimed that this woman had also assaulted him (Gladney's huge number of inconsistent statements and changing stories about the case are another major consideration in the jury's verdict, of course).

    Anyway, the tea party speculation about the witness is just plain dumb:
    The full video: You can see her just a few seconds in, clearly getting to the scene after it occurred.

    As we verify the identity of this witness that stepped forward two years after the fact, it seems fair to question if she perjured herself, seeing as she arrived after the assault occurred.
    Actually, as anyone familiar with the case knows, the initial incident did not take place at the curb, but rather by the button board nearer to the camera, right where the woman is walking in the screen shot. The video was shown while the witness was testifying, and the lawyers asked her questions about it. There's nothing in her statement that would indicate that she was lying.
    What this does show is that another biased assumption of the tea party turned out to be false. They claimed that there "were no other witnesses." How did they know that? Obviously, they didn't know that. They just assumed it based on limited information, and it then became a piece of Tea Party Gospel. The reason McCowan and Molens were originally arrested was because the police were approached by the tea party and only ended up interviewing three people, all of whom were tea party activists. This is the same night that the police ridiculously arrested Post-Dispatch reporter Jake Wagman, and also arrested Brian Matthews for "resisting arrest," a claim later disproved by video of the event.

    Update: Like moths drawn to the Burning Flame of Teh Stupid, Jim Hoft and Dana Loesch are now promoting this idiotic conspiracy.

    Reminder of How The Tea Party Used Kenneth Gladney As Political Football

    Thought it might be helpful to remind people of all of the unhinged conspiracy theories pushed by right-wing bloggers while they were using Kenneth Gladney as a pawn in their attempts to destroy unions and attack the Democratic Party:
    On August 7, one day after the fight, St. Louis tea party leader Bill Hennessy wrote that "[Congressman] Russ Carnahan’s SEIU thugs severely beat a conservative.”

    Also on the 7th, Michelle Malkin suggested that Health and Human Services Chair Kathleen Sebelius's quote, "Keep doing what you're doing" was meant to encourage violence.

    On Aug. 8, the tea party holds a rally outside of SEIU offices. Hennessy claims President Obama had “sent a signal” to supporters to be violent. The tea party put out chairs for the NAACP and ACLU and implied that they wouldn't support Gladney because he was a conservative.

    August 9: Bill Hennessy says Service Employees International Union President Andy Stern “might as well have kicked Gladney himself.”

    Aug 18: Friends of the tea party, along with Gladney and Brown, had a protest outside of the NAACP office, claiming that they only care about “liberal black people.” Only problem: they hadn’t even filed a complaint with the NAACP. They also shamelessly were protesting while the NAACP offices were closed to honor one of their recently deceased leaders.

    Nov. 10: 97.1 Talk host and St. Louis tea party leader Dana Loesch suggests that White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina was involved

    Nov. 30: A post on Andrew Breitbart's Big Government (a national blog that patronizes the St. Louis Tea Party) claimed that HCAN national field director Margarida Jorge issued instructions that “inevitably led to violence.”

    Dec 1: Also on Big Government, St. Louis Republican political operative John Loudon alleges that there is a conspiracy in the County prosecutors office that is holding up the filing of charges. Loudon writes, “In Pat Reddington’s St. Louis County it appears that “victim” is a status reserved for liberals, and “perpetrator” is a status reserved for conservatives.”

    Also on Dec 1: Dana Loesch falsely accused County Counselor Patricia Reddington of “downgrading” the charge without looking at the medical records. Tea Party blogger Jim Durbin did the same. Neither apologized after it was revealed that Reddington had received a copy of the records from the hospital well before the charges were filed.

    Dec. 2nd: Big Government adds several more people to their grand conspiracy theory: one of their favorites, Buffy Wicks, who was previously the OFA director in Missouri. Then comes the shocking revelation: “Sara Howard worked with Buffy Wicks on the Obama for America Campaign in Missouri and Sarah Howard worked at SEIU in St Louis. The day before the St. Louis town hall she was hired by Rep. Russ Carnahan.” The author of the post Larry O'Conner then goes after St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch: “I think even the most casual observer can look at this and reach the conclusion that Mr. McCulloch brings with him a certain level of partisan bias when executing his duties as Prosecuting Attorney.”

    Dec 23: Kenneth's brother Keith Gladney lost his job. Big Government alleges a massive conspiracy involving the local animal control department and SEIU: “Is it a coincidence that the same Prosecuting Attorney that Keith called out in his statement is also one of the highest ranking officials in the government structure that Keith worked for?”

    Jan 12th: On Big Government, St. Charles Tea Partier Bob McCartny claims: “Keith Gladney’s firing appears to be an example of how Democrats, in the words President Barack Obama’s deputy chief of staff Jim Messina used on the day of the Kenneth Gladney beating, “punch back twice as hard” against those who oppose their socialist ways.”

    Also on the 12th, Jim Durbin of 24th State suggested that Dolores Gunn, head of the St. Louis County Department of Health, was involved in this conspiracy and claimed that “ultimate responsibility lies with [St. Louis County Executive] Charlie Dooley." Amazingly, Durbin actually admitted he was wrong later, before moving on to another conspiracy theory.

    April 16, Andrew Breitbart of Big Government accused former AFL-CIO President John Sweeny of issuing orders for violence.

    So, just to recap, according to the St. Louis Tea Party/Big Government story, this massive government conspiracy created simply to get a few punches in on a random guy selling merchandise at a town hall in St. Louis, Missouri involves:
    the president of SEIU, the president of the AFL-CIO, the President of the United States, Congressman Russ Carnahan, Carnahan’s spokesperson Sara Howard, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, former OFA Missouri Coordinator Buffy Wicks, White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina, Field Director of Health Care for America Now Margarida Jorge, Prosecutor Bob McCullough, St. Louis County Counselor Patricia Reddington, County Executive Charlie Dooley, the NAACP, the ACLU, the head of the St. Louis County Dept. of Health, and even the local animal control department. Now that's quite a conspiracy theory!

    Response to Gateway Pundit's Latest Gladney Conspiracy Theory

    Gateway Pundit is out with a new conspiracy theory about the Kenneth Gladney trial originating from tea partier Harris Himes. Himes, if you recall, was one of the people mentioned in the original highly-flawed police report as a "witness". However, the prosecutor decided not to use Harris Himes because he has a sketchy record as an extreme partisan, something I've previously reported about.

    Himes and Hoft allege some grand conspiracy as being behind the not guilty verdict of the case. But their reasoning is unsurprisingly highly flawed.

    First of all, Himes claims that the jurors ignored the fact that his wife was a witness and he criticizes the prosecution for not including him as a witness. He writes his letter as if both he and his wife saw the initial altercation:
    Following this sham townhall meeting, as Sandra and I walked back to our car, she stopped to look at some buttons and flags, “Don’t Tread on Me,” etc., being sold by a nice, young black man (Kenneth Gladney), when—just as she was walking away—a large, black man in a purple tea shirt (Elston McCowan) confronted Gladney, “What kind of a son of a n_______ are you?” and slapped his hand which held the yellow flags. Then he punched Gladney in the side of his face , knocking him down. Another large, purple-tea-shirt white man (Perry Molens) attacked him from behind, jerking him to the ground. The fight continued across the sidewalk, out into the street—where the video began recording the incident, with Sandra and me and several others trying to break it up. We identified McCowan and Molens to the police, and they arrested them. As it turns out, Sandra and I were only two of three witnesses to the start of the fracas. This becomes important, since the union thugs claim that Gladney started the fight.
    This sounds a lot like what was in the police report, but in fact is a blatant lie. Himes (ironically in a different interview with Hoft) previously admitted that his wife did not see how the fight started:
    Well, actually my wife had stopped to look at the buttons and the flags he was handing out, and just as she turned away, that's when he was attacked by the two SEIU guys..."
    In fact, his wife testified under oath that she didn't see how the fight started. So Himes is clearly misrepresenting reality, and also is ignoring the fact that his wife's testimony was irrelevant to the crucial question of how the fight started.

    Harris Himes also admitted that he was away when the incident started and only turned around after he heard a "noise:"
    And so I looked back because I heard a noise behind. And, it was my wife however, who could corroborate the fact that it was really a hate crime because she heard the black man who claims he's a minister also said "what's a ..... doing here" ... that was essentially what she heard. And I looked back and then I saw this guy slap Gladney...slap his hand away and start striking him but the other big white guy grabbed him and threw him down to the ground. So I came back, and I was trying to get them off Gladney, and my wife was circling to keep any of the others from jumping me. And so then we got them off and broke it up once and then they attacked him again.

    Given that Harris and Sandra Himes did not see how the fight started, we are left with the following situation: other than the defendants, there was one witness for the prosecution who claimed that he saw how the fight started, and one witness for the defense who claimed that she saw how the fight started. Furthermore, Gladney's "medical records" were apparently sketchy enough that the prosecutor decided not to include them in the evidence. So one witness for each side who actually saw the fight start obviously does not create a convincing case on behalf of the prosecution.

    Furthermore, there was additional information that the jury did not have that would have called into question the validity of the prosecution's witness. First, John Mirelli (spelled incorrectly by Hoft and Himes) claimed at the trial that he was not affiliated with the tea party and was "only at the town hall to see how health care reform would affect his employees." First of all, the forum was actually about aging, and would have included absolutely no information about how health care reform would have affected his employees. The claim that it was a town hall on health care reform was the exclusively tea party spin on the event. But more importantly, Mirelli is on video earlier in the day having to be held back from an altercation with an SEIU member. He's also on plenty of other videos from that day getting into arguments with Carnahan supporters. And if that's not enough, consider the fact that Mirelli was seen at the beginning of the video apparently leaning protectively over Elston McCowan while Gladney is in an attacking posture. Wouldn't it be a little strange for Mirelli to be protecting McCowan if McCowan had just gotten done pummelling Gladney? It was only after Molens pulled Gladney backwards that Mirelli started screaming "you guys attacked that poor man!!!" Also, in the trial, Mirelli claimed he was leaning down to help Gladney, which is completely inconsistent with the above photo.

    Himes and Hoft also made a big deal about the fact that this was the first case the prosecutor had ever tried. From being at the trial, I think the prosecutor actually did a pretty good job. However, there was one crucial flaw in his case: there was absolutely no compelling evidence that supported his case (and, despite what the tea party claimed, there never was).

    Himes also claims that it would make no sense for Gladney to attack the two larger gentlemen McCowan and Himes. However, this is not what the defense's argument was. The claim is that McCowan and Gladney were arguing, it escalated, and Gladney eventually threw a punch at McCowan. Molens only got involved in the fight when Gladney was allegedly attacking his friend. So it's just not true that anyone claimed that Gladney "attacked two larger men." Furthermore, Gladney can be heard in the aftermath of the original video saying he's going to "beat the hell" out of McCowan, so it seems clear to me that his temper might allow him to attack people larger than he is. And finally, for the record, short muscular people can actually be pretty tough.

    Finally, Himes claimed that the "news tabloid" Riverfront Times said that the jury was stacked with union members. The RFT did mention this, but it was originally from KMOX reporter Kevin Killeen. In fact, this is what Kileen said:
    More than half of jury pool has union ties -- in case of two union members accused of assaulting conservative. Two have Tea Party ties.
    What this means, if you're keeping track, is that even two jurors with tea party ties reached the not guilty verdict in less than an hour's worth of deliberation. A jury's decision has to be unanimous, and even two tea partiers could see how weak the evidence was for a "union thug assault."

    So, it's not surprising in the slightest that the tea party would resort to conspiracy theories to explain the fact that reality just does not match up with their conspiracy theories. In fact, yesterday Hoft idiotically claimed that "NAACP thugs" were intimidating the Gladney family outside of the courtroom. I was there, and this clearly wasn't true. And if you look at Hoft's picture, you'll notice that the so-called "thugs" weren't actually staring at Gladney's family: they were staring at the crazy tea partier Jim Hoft who was taking photos of them. Furthermore, none of the people in the photo are actually part of the St. Louis NAACP. So, that should give you some idea how Hoft's "mind" works.

    Kudos And Reflections on the Gladney Case

    Eric Boehlert had very kind words today in an excellent summary of the Gladney debacle:
    An additional media note about the sad Gladney chapter: The two-year tale ended up pitting St. Louis blogger Loesch against an upstart local, a liberal blogger named Adam Shriver who runs a site called St. Louis Activist Hub. By the time the not guilty verdict was read yesterday it had become clear to everyone who followed the story that Shriver had absolutely demolished Loesch and her weak Gladney conspiracies.

    Right from the outset, Shriver was among the very first bloggers to dissect the Gladney video and raise all kinds of factualdoubts about the tall tale the Tea Party was telling about the “union thugs.” And it was Shriver who stayed on the case since 2009 and who, I think, was largely responsible for helping to reveal, yet again, the kind of serial fabricator that Dana Loesch is. Andrew Breitbart, too.

    So in that sense, the Gladney story helped highlight the stark, well-established contrast between the liberal and conservative blogospheres, and how Loesch and Breitbart effortlessly trafficked in lies, while Shriver stuck to the facts and undertook meticulous reporting.

    And in the end, his story prevailed.
    I'll add as well that while there was a lot of questioning of the Gladney story on the left, and especially mockery of the fact that Gladney appeared in a wheelchair, Boehlert by far provided the most responsible coverage among national bloggers, digging into the details of the case and asking the right questions, even from the very beginning. He's stayed on this case for two years, and took a lot of abuse for it, so it's definitely as much of a vindication of his careful approach to the story as it is of my local coverage.

    The Riverfront Times should also be commended for, as far as I know, being the only established media outlet in St. Louis to investigate this story and ask serious questions about the validity of Gladney's story. It was the Riverfront Times, in fact, that revealed that David Brown, the man who was originally selling the offensive buttons, who just happened to immediately decide to be Gladney's lawyer and spokesperson that night, had allegedly told another employee that Gladney was his "gravy train.' There were some other media outlets that seemed to buy the tea party story so much that they actually contributed to the pressure campaign against St. Louis County to press charges when, in reality, there was no solid evidence. But the tea party was young then, and still had an ounce of credibility for people who didn't bother to dig in to their statements.

    The Gladney story was actually my first real blogging. Activist Hub at that time was used primarily for posting weekly event listings, but when I saw the crazy narrative being pushed by the Right about this story I had to write a post questioning that narrative. I was immediately challanged by tea party blogger Jim Durbin, someone who admitted lying on this story but was nevertheless probably the only tea party person who was actually familier with the full body of evidence (Lord knows Dana Loesch didn't have a clue what she was talking about). I then proved, using Durbin's challange, that Gladney's attorney was lying, kicking off a new stream of right-wing vitriol against me. That probably is the real origin of my acrimonious relationship with the St. Louis Tea Party, though I can't imagine us liking each other even if this hadn't happened. Durbin was the source of all kinds of lies about me, including idiotic claims like "I attack people's children" that still continue on in the fantasyland of the right wing to this day. They continue on, I should say, without a shred of supporting evidence or even an explanation of what they're talking about. That's how sad and pathetic this group is: when they're desperate enough, they'll make accusations and personal attacks without even telling you what they're accusing you of.

    And ultimately, that's why I agree with Boehlert that this incident was a great illustration of the, "stark, well-established contrast between the liberal and conservative blogospheres." Even to this day, I never once claimed that I knew that McCowan and Molens were innocent, or that Gladney was guilty of starting the fight. Rather, I dug into the evidence, asked questions about how conclusive it was, and challanged people who claimed that they were certain about what happened. In contrast, the tea party from the very beginning of this mess claimed that they knew beyond all shadow of a doubt that Gladney was "assaulted by union thugs," and they were immune to any facts that didn't fit their narrative and immediately personally attacked anyone who even questioned if there really was conclusive evidence. Though I'm happy to rub the right-wingers face in this one, I think the real lesson is that one should keep an open mind to the facts and analytically evaluate the available evidence. That's what jurors are asked to do, and twelve jurors, including two with tea party affiliations, came to the only rational conclusion: there was not any substantial evidence showing how the fight was initiated.

    Update A couple other important kudos: Brian Matthews was someone originally accused of "resisting arrest" at this same incident, and has been repeatedly smeared by the tea party ever since. Ironically, a tea party video intended to attack Brian actually proved that the police account was innacurate, and the charges against him were dropped. Since that time (and probably even before), Brian has been tirelessly advocating on behalf of McCowan and Molens.

    Furthermore, the defense attorney Paul D'Agrosa was really good. There were a lot of things I would have included in the defense (like video of one of the tea party witnesses having to be held back from an altercation earlier) but D'Agrosa apparently had a strategy of keeping it simple and focusing on the lack of evidence, and it worked.