Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Update on Ali Akbar and Bloggers Against #BrettKimberlin

I hadn't planned on writing about this again so soon, but then again, I wasn't expecting the aggressive push back against the post.

But before I get into the details, let me stipulate a few important things.

First, it's not my intention to keep spinning out these internecine battles on the right. This is about clarification and truth. It turns out the statement that Paul Lemmen had been advised to STFU generated a good bit of controversy, and while folks kept it cool overall, I thought Ali Akbar came out of the gate like lightning and was getting too hot to handle. Now, to repeat, I'm not judging Ali. This isn't my fight. Again, this isn't my fight. In fact, I've blogged numerous times in his support throughout the last month. But Ali suggested I was posting lies at the blog --- and linking to liars. Moreover, he wasn't just aggressive in trying to contain any fallout, but also came off highly defensive even though unprovoked. Ali doesn't follow me and I didn't tweet the post to him, but he quickly DM'd me and asked that I call him. I couldn't send back a DM so just kept tweeting, to @Ali and @Vermontaigne mostly. Interestingly and unprompted, as seen below, Ali denied he's been "going to each blogger" who's blogged about him. No problem. I wouldn't want to come off looking like Brett Kimberlin either:

Second, I'm interested in the truth. I wouldn't be writing if folks hadn't questioned the veracity of my statements. And I especially wouldn't be writing if folks hadn't questioned my veracity and then mocked me at the same time:

Actually, I did read the Da Tech Guy's post, which is the one Ali's referencing at that tweet. But my information was at odds with the statements there. For the record, I was told that both Ali and Stranahan advised Paul to stand down. So, I'm just out to set the record straight. Please don't impugn my integrity people. And don't bullshit me or lie to me --- or, as Robert Stacy McCain might say, don't piss down my back and tell me it's raining. Damn straight. I take my conservatism seriously. I value honestly and integrity and standing up for what's right. That doesn't seem to be happening among a lot of folks out here, and in fact, it looks like we've got a swarm of weasels trying to piss all over some decent folks just trying to get a place at the table. That's not right and most of all that's why I'm posting this update.

Third, I doubt folks appreciate being pushed around by self-appointed "bosses" of the conservative 'sphere. As I said last night, all of us have a job to do, and that's to provide backup to those who are under fire. For me, that was Aaron Worthing from the get go, and then later Robert after he went underground to continue his reporting without being either served or shot. And let me tell you: I love that guy. Robert's one of the most interesting bloggers going and I'm glad he's my friend. I'd go to hell and back with him at this point, he means that much to me. And I think Robert would be the first to say that's it's a community out here. We carry each other. All this infighting is only making bad blood and is certainly not helping the larger battles. And I've been fighting those battles, so folks can hold off on the pissing matches. I'm talking to you Scott Jacobs! When the California Attorney General investigates you like she has me, you'll know what I'm talking about. It takes guts to stay in the fight when the left puts a target on your back. I know what it's like. So when I read Aaron's initial 28,000 word post I knew the stakes. So let's keep some perspective. I want to beat the left --- I want to pound those f-kers. I want to see these criminals face justice. And for that to happen, folks engaged need to stand up and stop with the lies. "Don't tell me that today, if you know what's good for you you'll get out of may way, 'cause, I'm crazy and I'm hurt..."

And if it's not lies, or allegations of lies, it's at least cross-talk and missed signals, and while that may be the case, I'm still substantiating what I was told for the record. For example, during last night's Twitter exchange Paul commented at the blog:
Thank you Don. I have no words beyond there that will be believable by those who found it necessary to repeat their blacklist of me from March. I get it, okay? "STFU and go away" is the order of the day. They want and need the intel I have gotten but can't be seen putting me in any positive light.

That's okay with me, the fight is not about me but about Brett Kimberlin and his associates. That is what should be remembered instead of the rhetoric about me.
I didn't notice that Paul had commented until I signed off for the night, and by that time I'd promised folks an update. So, I sent Paul an email to get a statement on the record. I asked him if indeed there were crossed signals or mixed messages, and he wrote back:
lemmen 9:53 AM (9 hours ago)

to me

It wasn't mixed at all. Lee Stranahan: "Leave Ali alone, don't pay attention to him, just blog about something else, leave the Ali situation alone." Ali: "Who are you? I hadn't even heard of you two weeks ago." And the attached tweet that is the heart of it.

I also reached out to Zilla, who's been viciously thrown under the bus during the latest iterations of this mess. I asked her what she knew of Paul's statements, and so forth. She wrote back:
I saw with my own eyes in Ali's twitter feed where he attacked Paul and others on Saturday night, and if he hasn't deleted them then they should still be there. He implied that Paul Lemmen was working with Brett Kimberlin, he made nasty remarks about Paul's criminal record (as if he himself doesn't have one) and he implied that Paul's criticism of the NBC (which is legitimate criticism regardless of the source) was motivated by racism.

The National Blogger's club, long before any of this stuff started with BK and the gang, touted itself as an organization to help bloggers to be less marginalized; they gave out press credentials, and appeared on its surface to be a force for good in the dextrosphere, but there was never any discernible way for bloggers to request membership, there was no website or contact information made publicly available and they only had a basically blank facebook "like" page. I repeatedly asked people who said they were members how an interested blogger might apply for membership and they all said that they didn't know. Apparently, nobody knows, so it looks as if the NBC simply hand-selects whoever they deem fit for whatever reason to join their esteemed ranks. I suppose it's their prerogative to do so, but you can't claim to be an organization representing the conservative blogging community at large while at the same time deliberately excluding the majority of bloggers. There are many legitimate questions about the NBC that people should not be afraid to ask, or attacked for asking.
Finally, I contacted Ladd Ehlinger as well, especially with regard to his essay, "Good Luck National Bloggers Club." I told him that Ali had called him a liar on Twitter and asked I for clarification. He wrote back:
Hey Donald,

Super-busy at the moment, which is why I haven't written a follow up post from my last, but I did want to say this, which you can quote me on.

1) I firmly believe that Lee Stranahan did not pressure Lemmen to be silent. Just the opposite. Lee's been quite consistent with the notion that everyone should assist and unite in the effort to go against Kimberlin, and from what I gather from Lee, that includes Lemmen and Akbar both. Lee wants to reduce the infighting, and I believe whatever calls he made to Lemmen came from this motivation.

2) Unless there's something I don't know, I don't think that Ann Barnhardt wrote her piece (nor do I believe that Big Fur Hat posted it) in order to deflect attention away from Akbar's past crimes. The timing was based merely on Lemmen's high-profile involvement in the Kimberlin story. Both Ann and BFH have had a long history with Lemmen, and I believe they were motivated purely by that. They wanted to warn everyone about Lemmen's history as a con-man, which they honestly believe continues to this day. Lemmen disputes their characterizations of his recent behavior, but I think even he would agree that he still has a long road to walk before some will even consider looking at the details.

3) Like Ann and BFH, I have a history of observing the machinations of Akbar. If he were truly honorable and "all about the cause," he would've stepped down from the NBC when his crimes were revealed by the bad guys, and handed the reigns of it and its legal defense fund over to someone else by now, rather than dragging this out, and doing things like trolling for Lemmen's attorney via Twitter. A lot of good people are being asked to play the role of Madeline Albright in a game of "not a single time" or "the rap sheet isn't really as bad as it looks." I understand that Akbar claims he submitted his resignation twice to the board of the NBC and twice he was refused. Is it really that hard to step down? Really?

I would like to know why the following questions have never been directly answered:

1) How much money was raised by NBC in its Kimberlin effort?
2) How much money has been spent by the NBC from the legal defense fund, and on what? I'm told that money has been dispersed to victims, and that's a good thing - depending upon the whole entirety (i.e., how much has been raised, how much spent on overhead, etc.)
3) How does the NBC determine who is a Team Kimberlin victim, and who is not?
4) By what criteria does NBC decide who gets to be an NBC member, and who doesn't? Are such decisions made on the whims of a convicted felon who paints himself as a top blogger (who doesn't seem to blog), or is there a more up-front process? You know - a voting process. With by-laws. I know there are no fees to join. Other than that, how?
5) Why has there never been a website for NBC? Is it a serious organization or was it a throwaway thought, a branch-off publicity effort for Akbar's for-profit company?
6) Is it true that NBC shared its private email list of bloggers with Akbar's political clients?
7) Is it true that Akbar charged his political clients for introducing them to high-profile bloggers at events like CPAC? If yes, did any of that money make its way to the bloggers themselves?

I know a lot of people think this is an unnecessary distraction from the Kimberlin story.

I agree.

So there you go. That's the record. People can sift through themselves. I wasn't posting lies last night, despite the allegations. And while there may still be some concerns about cross-talk and mixed messages, at least people can get this information straight from the principals involved.

And to close this out, see Paul's post, "A Simple Request."