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March 25, 2011


BTW--I was comparing dropping irrelevant outdated information at a time intending to affect a national election with using FOIA to access emails of a public employee.

Yeah. I still don't see the moral comparison- on the one hand, a politician who basically volunteers to put his public life on display has a piece of publicly-available info (aka "public record") that he hoped would remain unknown revealed at an inconvenient moment. On the other hand, we have a private individual who offered up some political opinions having his emails searched for any tidbits that might discredit him or merely punish him pour encourager les autres.
That we have an election process that probes personal matters is bad enough; having a political process where merely commenting or having a political opinion opens one up to "oppo research" is another IMO.

You think those are similar, I don't. But Im not sure that any more analysis would change anyone's mind on that point.

However, I don't recall you being upset when Scott Walker got scammed in a similar way. So, again, I think you're making my point.

Unless I missed something, Scott Walker is still the governor of Wisconsin, no? So who, exactly, was harmed there?

O'Keefe and NPR. I think scamming people is slimy and I don't care for it. However, I don't recall you being upset when Scott Walker got scammed in a similar way. So, again, I think you're making my point.

They got scammed in similar way, you are right, but implications and facts presented are tottaly different.
NPR's sale agent is not voice of the NPR, and he never talks on the radio, while Walker scam was Walker's voice and thoughts. NPR video was falsely presented as it was NPR's voice and more importantly, their message. It 's like presenting a FoxNews janitor's point of view as Fox's.
Also, Walker's phone talk was not edited in any way, while Sherod's video was edited to misrepresent opposite of what she was trying to convey. Also Acorn videos were heavily edited in order to misrepresent multiple facts presented by O'Keffe.

I've been thikig about the former Marty's assertio that there is nothing wrong with an ivestigation as a respose to a publically stated opinion that one disagrees with.

I thik that it is a very dagerous thig to chage the basic rules of civil discourse. I believe that most of us assume that if oe disagrees with an opinio the proper coures is to addreess the content of the opinion, to disagree with the ideas by assertig differet ideas. That's good manners. It's also the atural respose if oe has a good sound basis for disagreemet.

Oe the other hand if the ew ormal is to respod to disagreemet by lauchig a ivestigatio of the other perso i order to fid some way to attack that perso persoally...not only is it bad maners, but it is also a de facto admissio that oe is ot able to respod with reasoed argumet.

So I believe it is very dagerous ad distructive to democracy to redefie the basic terms of political discoiurse so that ivestigatios become the acceptable way to express disagreement.

Also, Walker's phone talk was not edited in any way, while Sherod's video was edited to misrepresent opposite of what she was trying to convey.

We have a winner.

But I think it's not a bad idea to have conservatives who actually have something to write about, and the time and willingness to post.
I'm working on that. And suggestions, as always, welcome. Please. From anyone and everyone.

Preferably of people who would actually be interested, rather than fantasies, though.

O'Keefe and NPR. I think scamming people is slimy and I don't care for it. However, I don't recall you being upset when Scott Walker got scammed in a similar way.

Yes, it was just horrible how that scammer took the audio from Scot Walker, hacked it to bits and reconstructed it to mean something completely opposite from what Walker said, added all kinds of deceptive voice-overs, and then released the final product with great fanfare to partisan media.

Oh wait, he didn't. That was O'Keefe that did that. The guy that scammed Walker just released the entire unedited conversation. My bad.

I'm working on that.
And I've just had a tentative acceptance of a guest post invite from a more conservative/libertarian voice.

Someone not entirely unknown to regular readers of comments of ObWi.

Details to be arranged, but expect something in the not distant future.

More suggestions solicited.


Well, I guess the answer from me was: So what are they really doing to him? They asked for his emails, does he have something to hide?

His emails are public record, liberals go fishing in open records requests all the time, so what.

More important, WHAT ARE THEY GOING TO DO TO HIM? Take away his birthday? Turn him into a liberal martyr?

I couldn't figure out from your post how they were going to create any harm to him.

I'd like you to please send me an archive of all of your emails from the last 12 months.

Also, how large a hard drive or drives do you have?

Can you zip down your entire hard drive(s)to, oh, under 20 gigs? I'll give you a URL to upload it to, if you have bandwidth, but let's start with the past 12 months of all your emails.

You have no problem with that, right? You express opinions in public, what's anyone going to do to you?

Do you have something to hide?

No? Then I look forward to your forwarding your entire archive of email to me.

Could you get it to me by Friday? I'll see about posting it all (not here on ObWi; I'll just open a free Blogger account and stick it all up there) when I get a chance.

You wouldn't have any problem, right? Any objection? If so, please describe what objection you might have, if you'd be so kind?



Heck, it made McCain pick Palin.

I believe it shaped the reactionary nature of the Republican Party for at least another two election cycles.

I'm confused. You're asserting that the Democratic Party, or people in it "made" McCain pick Palin?

I must be misunderstanding you. Please clarify?

And what "shaped the reactionary nature of the Republican Party for at least another two election cycles"? People in the Democratic Party? John McCain's pick of Sarah Palin? Did someone mind-control John McCain?

Have supporters of the Republican Party, activists in the Republican Party, elected officials and leaders of the Republican Party, and their elected officials in government no free will or agency?

Again, surely I'm misunderstanding you; please forgive me for asking you to clarify what it is you're asserting. Thanks!


... agree that the personal intimidation of Cronon is reprehensible, and that it's par for the course for Republicans, who routinely stop at nothing in their attempts to personally intimidate people. This has long been a political technique of theirs (Nixon's dirty tricks, the Bill Clinton witch hunt, Karl Rove's raison d'etre [....]
I started out by mentioning Joseph McCarthy, so let me remind all specifically of the Tydings Committee.

The China hands:

During the hearings, McCarthy moved on from his original unnamed Lee list cases and used the hearings to make charges against nine specific people: Dorothy Kenyon, Esther Brunauer, Haldore Hanson, Gustavo Duran, Owen Lattimore, Harlow Shapley, Frederick Schuman, John S. Service, and Philip Jessup. Some of them no longer worked for the State Department, or never had; all had previously been the subject of charges of varying worth and validity. Owen Lattimore became a particular focus of McCarthy's, who at one point described him as a "top Russian spy." Throughout the hearings, McCarthy employed colorful rhetoric, but produced no substantial evidence, to support his accusations.

Let's talk about HUAC and the Hollywood blacklist (Note: Joseph McCarthy was not in the House, and the House Un-American Activities Committee was a separate entity.)

Let's go back to Nixon's campaign against Jerry Voorhis in 1946.

Let's discuss Roy Cohn.

This is not new.


CCDG and Marty both must have missed one of the favorite pastimes of conservative bloggers during the Bush years, which was investigating and "outing" pseudonymous liberal bloggers, then trying to get them fired.
There was this guy who went by the hand of "Publius" at a blog called "Obsidian Wings" and The New York Times reported on it as did many places.
Writing this weekend on the Bench Memos blog published by the National Review Online, Whelan revealed he had been “reliably informed” that the blogger Publius was actually South Texas law professor John Blevins. In a later post, Whelan, a former Justice Department official, explained that he decided to identify Blevins because he thinks law professors should be held to a higher standard and bloggers who engage in "smears and misrepresentations" should not be allowed to hide under the cover of a pseudonym.

The outing has spurred “a widespread Internet debate about netiquette, the ethics of outing and anonymous blogging,” the Washington Times blog, Inside Blogotics, reports. The New York Times blog, the Opinionator, also had an earlier account of the controversy.

Blevins responded to Whelan in a post at his blog, Obsidian Wings, explaining that he wrote under a pseudonym for both private and professional reasons. On the professional side, he said he doesn’t want conservative students to feel uncomfortable in his classroom, and he has heard that blogging can cause problems for profs seeking tenure.

That was a bit under two years ago.

Anyone remember that? Funny that John isn't at this blog any more.

How about one Hilzoy, aka Professor Hilary Bok.

Funny, she's not posting here any more, either.

Now, I'm in no way saying that there's a cause and effect here.

Nor am I suggesting everyone now reading ObWi should have been reading it two years ago or more recently or less.

I'm pointing out that this phenomenon is hardly an unknown fact or experience around here.

One thing no one can do to me is "out" me.

It's also one reason I've never used other than my real name. I knew when I was an adolescent and studied certain history that it doesn't work. And had other reasons.

But it's still a way to attack people who have good reasons for not not wanting to post under the name they may be otherwise known as, and it's a way to attack academics.

Perhaps in some cases it's justified. Why a professor's emails should be publically investigated because of an expressed opinion that isn't libelous or in violation of the law, or without some other hitherto unmentioned reason, or why anyone's emails should be publically investigated because of an expressed opinion without some very good reason, I don't think I've seen mentioned on this thread.

But I could easily have missed a good explanation. Does anyone have a pointer or could someone remind me of their comment explaining this? Or offer a pointer to a writer elsewhere with such an explanation?

If so, thanks!

Gary Farber: "This is not new."

Yes, of course, you're right. I was commenting carelessly, not forgetting about the portions of your post regarding McCarthy, but putting those times firmly in the past. Just like (as regards a different comment thread) the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. Wrong of anyone to get into a habit of thinking that the past is ever past.

How about one Hilzoy, aka Professor Hilary Bok.

From hilzoy's farewell front page post, explaining her reasons for leaving blogging behind:

That said, it seems to me that the madness is over.

Would that it were so.

[...]So is the concern with "fishing expedition" investigations into someone you disagree with. Politico (and Slarti, I am really trying to understand how to insert a link) at this address [...]
: Media Matters' war against Fox.

This is a "dead link." It's the URL most folks know how to cut and paste. It's not clickble: http://werbach.com/barebones/barebones.html

This is the active link version:

Barebones Guide To HTML and Tags.

How To Link:


Link tags.


< >


< A HREF="URL" > TEXT < /A >


left angle bracket A HREF ="URL"right angle bracket
left angle bracket TEXT /A right angle bracket


Substitute pointy bracket for rectangular bracket

Special characters = Special Characters, including pointy brackets.

< <
> >

I would like to get the Typepad widget to allow everyone to click and link, as well as bold and underline added as soon as we can. Real Soon Now, I hope.

It's been a project of mine since 2005 to make that happen, but it's not, unfortunately, under my control.

If anyone has the desire to see that happen more quickly, letting Eric Martin know your desire next time you see him comment, or you can otherwise communicate with him, might be helpful, though I certainly don't speak for him, or anyone else associated with this blog about this, and neither do I wish to harass Eric about this.

I'm only saying I'm not sure Eric is aware that anyone might have such a desire or see it as a priority, and only he and one other person have the password that enables making changes to the template, including simple changes that would take a minute, or five minutes, or however long, for some others to make such changes.

My own feeling is that it would be very useful to commenters, and I've said so innumerable times since 2005, in public, on this blog, and since the first time an imminent new template move was announced several years ago, and then on all the subsequent occasions it was announced by Hilzoy and Publius, whose skills, like Eric's, lay in fine writing and thinking, but not in HTML or other software matters. Obviously all of us have limited time to devote to such matters, but I do think it would be very very useful to all for commenters to be able to link.

And personally, it would save me constantly having to explain how to do it manually, or otherwise do people the favor of doing it for them each and every time.

Sapient, it's a rare instance that can't be distinguished in some form or fashion. There is relevant dirt and irrelevant dirt. A timed disclosure of irrelevant dirt is of the same ilk as what is being complained about here. It's all dirty pool. All of it. Parsing details to excuse one side while damning the other simply gives both sides the fig leaf of justification for the inevitable next round.

Which part of what Media Matters is doing, as cited in your linked story, is irrelevant?

Here's an interesting documentary, by the way. Outfoxed.


For those who prefer text on how Fox News deliberately slants news, some links.


Wonkie: keyboards you can buy for under $12. Or you can go to your local Craigslist, and get them for free under the stuff being given away for free.

You can find plenty at Amazon or anywhere that sells computer hardware for under $10.

If there's anything else I can do to help, please ask. Give me your snail address, and I'll send you a keyboard.

You also shouldn't need an actual key to push down and make an "n," although you may have problems with your fingers that prevent this, or some other problem with your keyboard that interfere, that you haven't mention. Or you could just stick a piece of plastic tape over the missing plastic piece. Or a piece of cotton. There are any number of solutions that might help you quite easily type and make an "n."

(You can also cut and paste, but that's tedious, and I gather that making a macro is out of your technical range. Similarly, you can also use your OS to map any letter to any other key on your board, etc., but I know you're not someone who is comfortable at dealing with computers, so I'm not trying to push you to do anything you're uncomfortable with; I'd simply like to see you back to using 26 letters ASAP, for all our sake's. :-))

Thank you for the suggestions, Gary, but, sadly the keyboard is attached to my laptop! I have tried typing without the letter in place but that doesn't work. I glued the letter back in place but I have to really hammer on it to get it to register. I will probably resort to cut ad paste. I am curious about your reference to OS mappig. Do you mean that I could get a little used letter to function like an "N" instead of what the letter acutally is? That's an intriguing thought. In ay case will not inflict N-free typing on everyone! Good night!

wonkie- I had this prob once with a laptop keyboard, couldn't get it to type periods (which given my habit of run-on sentences isn't as much of a handicap as it would be for most people); I just went through most of my day with a period on the clipboard, ready to paste, and ctrl-v got pretty natural to me.
otoh, autohotkey is a pretty easy prog if you're on windows- it can be set to run at startup and uses a really simple text file to tell it what to do (eg "NumpadDiv::Send n" would replace the number pad's division key with n, or "{RShift}::Send n" to use the right shift key). Course some of that can get awkward when you find you need the key that you've borrowed...

It's pretty handy for those who spend a lot of their day on the computer- Ive got little macros that sign emails or other common stuff like that.

My favorite was Michelle Malkin, in her cute little cheerleader outfit, going through somebody's garbage to go after some kid who was in favor of health care reform.

"I don't recall you being upset when Scott Walker got scammed in a similar way."

Yes, scamming some low level ACORN workers and then heavily editing the tapes is EXACTLY THE SAME as fooling a powerful politician.

But pardon me for not going down Tut-Tut Lane with you. Enjoy your trip.

Doubling down on the thuggery: (This is cut and pasted from TPM who got it from Rachel maddow)

"A free enterprise think tank in Michigan -- backed by some of the biggest names in national conservative donor circles -- has made a broad public records request to at least three in-state universities with departments that specialize in the study of labor relations, seeking all their emails regarding the union battle in Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) and MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, TPM has learned.

According to professors subject to the request, filed under Michigan's version of the Freedom Of Information Act, the request is extremely rare in academic circles. An employee at the think tank requesting the emails tells TPM they're part of an investigation into what labor studies professors at state schools in Michigan are saying about the situation in Madison, Wisc., the epicenter of the clashes between unions and Republican-run state governments across the Midwest"

However the real danger of this is that Marty's definition of the new normal in discourse will take hold and no one will even expect public disagreements on pollitical issues to be decided by discussion of ideas. They will just use the Republica model and expect pulbic discussions of ideas to consist of Republicans saying what they have to say and bullying anyone who disagrees.

Why are so many Republican politicians and their enablers redefining normal public discourse in such a way as to release themselves from any responsiblity for having to defend their ideas with reasoned argument?

The message is clear. If you are a professor, at least one at a public university, any political opinions you may have must be kept private, or you will be subject to harrassment.

This is good for America, of course, since everybody knows that professors don't know anything (or know the wrong things). They should shut up.

at least one at a public university

make that at least three public universities.

the ghost of McCarthy's got nothing on today's GOP.

Thak you, Cartleton! My husband is going to try o0ut the autofixkey solution you suggested.

Which part of what Media Matters is doing, as cited in your linked story, is irrelevant?

We'll have to wait and see. The announced intent is to "sabotage" Fox News by going after senior and mid level people. David Brock leads MM. He is a snake, always has been, always will be. I expect him to not only meet but exceed my expectations.

"He is a snake, always has been, always will be."

That is not helpful. If he's still a snake, can you please point to some examples which should make us distrust him? This is not even an adequate ad hominem, lacking the "ad" portion of an attack. Pre MM Brock committed many snakey actions by his own later admission. Post MM, I would like to read specifics.

I think the principle here should be "probable cause." Investigations are legitimate if there is probable cause of illegal behavior or violations of professional codes of conduct or behavior that is clearly against the public interest and appropriately belongs as part of political discussion. Investigations are a bully tactic if they are fishing expeditions. And, of course, the investigation should be conducted legally.

I realize that my little rule is ambigous but it does, for me at least, give a guideline. There is no indication that Professor Conin did anything against the codes of his job. There is no indication that the other professors at other uiversities did aything either. Pure bully tactics. Anti-democratic behavior. Not the sort of behavior that people who believe in free speech or civil political discourse would rationalize or justify.

Hacking into Sarah Palin's emails is in the same no-no catagory since her endless displays of narcissism and willful ignorance do not give, to my knowledge anyway, probable cause to think she is engaged in any activity that is illegal. She hasn't got a profession to violate the codes of.

FAUX has been caught lying so many times it isn't necessary to do any sabotaging of its staff. All one has to do is watch the show and compare the content to reality. FAUX is for people who want to be lied to.

Since FAUX lies all the time there's lots of probable cause that the lies are deliberate, cynical, and planned. Perhaps that's a violation of their licensing? If so , that doesn't justify "sabotage" (whatever that means) but it might justify a investigation into how they decide what lies to tell. A legal ivestigation.

I think one thing that's overlooked is what was the original goal of the FOIA.

Government transparency. Sunlight on the decisions of people in power.

How does that apply to a university professor? Even in a state-funded school?

Whether or not FOIA currently applies to his email is immaterial, lay aside the ethics of it -- let's get back to basics.

The whole point of the FOIA, does it really apply to a professor's email account? Should it apply?

Honestly, I think not. A professor at a state-supported school isn't an elected figure. He's not a government bueracrat. He makes no laws, enforces no regulations -- he has no more or less power than a private school professor.

I don't think the "it's my tax dollars!" bit applies either. Students going to private schools cost you tax dollars -- from charitable deductions, to Pell grants, to student loans. Plan to rifle through their emails? You probably cost ME tax-dollars in a similar fashion! Can I use the FOIA to access your tax returns?

FOIA's goals aren't actually served by this. Which says that the FOIA might need a bit of tweaking, if it can be used for purposes outside the "spirit" of the FOIA.

or, we could just rename it to the Facilitation Of Intimidation Act

How about firing Bill Sammon?

So we have ACORN destroyed because of a trumped-up video, Shirley Sherrod got fired over a bogus right-wing video edited report, and NPR is paying a heavy price for the latest hidden video trick. So why is Bill Sammon, D.C. Bureau chief of Fox News, still working there?
Because it's OK If You're An Outright Right-Wing Propaganda Operation.

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