More selective editing from the Progressives

One of the things I landed on, hard, in my post about the great Rush Limbaugh smear was the fact that Media Matters, in order to smear Rush, did some very selective editing so as to destroy entirely the context in which his “phony soldier” comment arose. It seems that another “respected” member of the MSM has been caught engaging in the same tactics — although there is a caveat about this, because it’s unclear whether the source material is itself a fake.

Anyway, here’s the story. In connection with the Scott Thomas Beauchamp affair (that’s the one where TNR’s roving Iraq correspondent told some patently fake stories and TNR is sticking to them), Glenn Greenwald (of sock puppet fame), claims to have received an unsolicited letter from Col. Steven A. Boylan, the Public Affairs Officer and personal spokesman for Gen. David G. Petraeus. Greenwald reprints the letter with lots of ellipses, ends by throwing in his own opinion about the redacted letter:

Everyone can decide for themselves if that sounds more like an apolitical, professional military officer or an overwrought right-wing blogger throwing around all sorts of angry, politically charged invective. Whatever else is true, it is rather odd that this was the sort of rhetoric Col. Boylan chose to invoke in service of his apparent goal of proving that there is nothing politicized about the U.S. military in Iraq.

What’s interesting is all the stuff behind the periodic ellipses in Greenwald’s repost of the alleged letter. The Dread Pundit Bluto received, from Greenwald himself, a copy of the entire email that Boylan purportedly sent (and Boylan has not confirmed whether he did, in fact, send the email). Bluto reprints the entire email, bolding all the bits Greenwald left out — bits that give context to what Boylan allegedly said. Here’s are just the first few paragraphs of the entire letter, with the parts that Greenwald redacted highlighted in bold:

Glenn,

I had hoped to post this in response to your article, but apparently it is closed already.

I am not sending this as anyone’s spokesperson, just a straight military Public Affairs Officer, with about 27 months overall time in Iraq who is concerned with accuracy, context and characterization of information and has worked with media of all types since joining the career field in 1991. The issues of accuracy, context, and proper characterization is something that perhaps you could do a little research and would assume you are aware of as a trained lawyer.

I do enjoy reading your diatribes as they provide comic relief here in Iraq. The amount of pure fiction is incredible. Since a great deal of this post is just opinion and everyone is entitled to their opinions, I will not address those even though they are shall we say — based on few if any facts. That does surprise me with your training as a lawyer, but we will leave those jokes to another day.

You do have one fact in your post — then Brigadier General Bergner did work at the National Security Council on matters concerning Iraq. Not surprising as he had returned from a year plus deployment to Iraq as the Multi-National Division – North Assistant Division Commander. It would seem reasonable that someone with Iraq experience would work issues at the NSC that was familiar with and had experience in Iraq. All else after that portion in your post about Major General Bergner is just your wishful thinking to support your flawed theory.

So, right off the bat, we learn why Greenwald received the unsolicited letter, we learn that Boylan is not writing in his professional capacity, and we learn that he has just a few factual quibbles with Greenwald’s view of events. You should definitely head over to Bluto’s place to see the rest, and to get a sense of just how much Greenwald changed the meaning of the original text with his selective redactions.

As I noted in my Rush post, the tactic that Greenwald and Media Matters use is the “reporting” equivalent of those movie advertisements that say “Johnny Critic of ABS news said ‘It’s amazing….’” And then, of course, when you track down the whole Johnny Critic review, you discover he actually said “It’s amazing that anybody would pay money to see this piece of garbage.”

I’ve said it before and before, and I’ll say it again and again: if you read anything in the MSM, double and triple check the facts supporting the reporter’s or pundit’s conclusions. They often do not play fair.

UPDATE: I seem to have gotten linked at Salon, and I’ve had a few people take issue with the fact that Greenwald included a link to the original letter at another website. I don’t care.

The bone I’m picking is with the fact that he created a straw man against which to argue when he selectively edited the original letter and used that selectively edited text as his target. Once Greenwald did that, he created a strong disincentive for readers to trot over to the link and read the whole thing. His readers trust that Greenwald, in his redaction, nevertheless preserved the original text’s meaning — which he did not.

So my beef is with a stylistic approach to argument, not with the argument itself. There are three reasons that lead people to edit their opponent’s statements to suit their own argument, rather than arguing against what their opponent said in the first place: carelessness (my most common sin), intellectual puniness (and I won’t accuse Greenwald of that), or an agenda (which Greenwald openly displays and which Media Matters displayed when it went after Rush).

So, Greenwald had an agenda, and he pursued it. That’s fine, but he used a smarmy lawyer’s tactic to do it, and that’s not fine. He deserves to be called on that tactic.

UPDATE II: Check out Best of the Web, and scroll down for the discussion on 101 Ways to Abuse a Quote, which is another example of the point I’m making. Incidentally, it gives a name to the use of ellipses that I describe above: dowdification.

UPDATE III: Lorie Byrd has chimed in with her always interesting take on the ellipses issue:

The Greenwald post linked above is a good example of how those on the left have argued the issues surrounding the war in Iraq by omitting relevant facts. The media has done the same in much of their reporting. The way Greenwald omitted the section citing the errors Boylan noted from his post trying to paint the email as bizarre is the same way those on the left have debated the war in Iraq. They often link to a report, but then will cherry pick certain portions, while ignoring any favorable ones. In some cases, positive reports are not mentioned at all, but are omitted entirely. It is no wonder so many Americans still believe there has been no progress made in Iraq.

As with me, her beef isn’t with the underlying factual argument, it’s with the way Greenwald selectively editing his opponent’s writing to create a factual straw man he could then attack.

UPDATE IV:  I had the misfortune to get linked at a site called Balloon Juice, which has a large readership, so I can anticipate a big dose of snarky, ill-informed comments coming in.  Just FYI, after Balloon Juice castigated me for being unfamiliar with the purpose behind ellipses, I wrote this response (and yes, my response is snarky too, but I’m tired of being challenged for things I didn’t write or accused of being ill-informed about things I know quite well):

Sweetheart, I know all about using ellipses when writing to reduce the amount of text or tighten an argument. As a lawyer, I use it all the time to remove extraneous, or irrelevant material. I actually get that bit.

My problem was, and continues to be, that Greenwald removed substantive material to create a straw man against which he could argue. That’s a stylistic approach that interests me irrespective of the merits of Greenwald’s factual assertions (something I quite carefully and explicitly did not touch upon). I simply found dishonest the way in which Greenwald castigated Boylan’s writing after having edited it down to something that it did not start out to be.

So, if anyone is doing the la-la-la, hide the facts approach to writing, you’d better check in with Mr. Greenwald. All I did was point out the elephant in his intellectual living room. I didn’t put it there.

The Watcher’s results are in, and they are good

I have to say that, this week, when I was casting my votes for the Watcher’s Council, I had a really hard time.  The caliber of articles that the council members submitted this week — both their own and someone else’s — was incredibly high.  I kept going back and forth between articles, practically parsing sentences in an effort to rank the top two in each category (Council and non-Council).  For that reason, I am incredibly honored that, with the votes counted, my post called “The MSM’s Rush Limbaugh Horror Story,” ranked first.  First is always nice, of course, but first in such an august field is something that really gets my day jump started.

(Let me say here that I know that two Weasel members couldn’t vote at all, and one only voted a little, so there was some serious vote discounting going on under the Council rules.  Nevertheless, since I’m not a math person, and don’t fully understand the complexities behind the vote count, I’m going to bask in my victory however it comes my way.)

To make things even nicer for me, the non-council submission that I nominated won too, as it should have.  That was Michael Yon’s Resistance is Futile, a truly important post about the difference between America’s Iraq coverage and the situation on the ground in Iraq — and the way in which the former has the potential to destroy everything good that’s happening regarding the latter.   (As you can see, my Weasel theme for the week was media manipulation and malfeasance, something that clearly struck a chord with other Council members.)

The second place (and third and fourth and fifth, etc) winners in each category were equally good, I thought.  On the Council side there was a tie for second.  One of the second place positions went to Big Lizard, with whose writing I’m becoming ever more enamored, for An Inconvenient Demographic Truth.  In this post, he took apart Obama’s idiotic cry of racism when it came to a DoJ official’s statistically accurate statement that, because minorities tend to die younger, systemic inequities that affect the elderly actually have less of an effect on minority elderly — because there are fewer of them.  It was a garbled and inelegant statement, but as Dafydd explains, it does not reflect racism but, in fact, its opposite, which is an almost overly strong sensibility about the situation of minorities.

The other second place went to Soccer Dad for Walking Back the Cat x 2, a lucid and fascinating analysis of the Israeli strike into Syria.  The title comes from the fact that intelligence analysts can check for internal dissension in another country by examining what was said in that country before an event and comparing it to revealed facts.  Often, this type of analysis exposes who is disaffected, who is out of the loop, who is close to power, etc.  Soccer Dad used this type of before and after comparison to expose a lot of interesting information about the Israel incursion.

On the non-council side, there was also a tie for second place.  One second place went to Daled Amos for The Niggers of Palestine, a really strong entry that shows the fallacy of equating Palestinians to African-Americans during the slave era — a fallacy that Condi Rice, herself a victim of Jim Crow segregation, seems prone to make.  The other second place went to The Pakistan Policy Blog for The Massacre at Karsaz Bridge: Analysis of the Bhutto Blast (Part 2), the title of which is self-explanatory.
The above are the top six winners, but let me say again that this was an unusually strong week of submissions.  If you’re at all looking for something to read, this is definitely the place to start.

The MSM’s Rush Limbaugh horror story

Both the MSM and Democratic Senators are trying to co-opt the Rush Limbaugh letter story for Democratic ends. It’s worthwhile taking a step back, to the beginning of the entire affair, to understand just how egregiously they are undermining truth to create a new, Progressive reality for the American people. (I guess this is another example of what’s meant by the “reality based community.”)

It all began on the Rush Limbaugh show, on September 26. In the first call of the morning, Rush engaged with a caller who identified himself as a Republican, but insisted that the Democrats had the right idea with their demand that the US immediately withdraw from Iraq. The very next caller, a self-identified US serviceman, agreed with Rush that an untimely retreat from Iraq would be disastrous. It was in the context of this pro-military phone call that the “phony soldier” reference came up:

CALLER: Hi, Rush. Thanks for taking my call.

RUSH: You bet.

CALLER: I have a retort to Mike in Chicago, because I am serving in the American military, in the Army. I’ve been serving for 14 years, very proudly.

RUSH: Thank you, sir.

CALLER: I’m one of the few that joined the Army to serve my country, I’m proud to say, not for the money or anything like that. What I would like to retort to is that, what these people don’t understand, is if we pull out of Iraq right now, which is not possible because of all the stuff that’s over there, it would take us at least a year to pull everything back out of Iraq, then Iraq itself would collapse and we’d have to go right back over there within a year or so.

RUSH: There’s a lot more than that that they don’t understand. The next guy that calls here I’m going to ask them, “What is the imperative of pulling out? What’s in it for the United States to pull out?” I don’t think they have an answer for that other than, “When’s he going to bring the troops home? Keep the troops safe,” whatever.

CALLER: Yeah.

RUSH: It’s not possible intellectually to follow these people.

CALLER: No, it’s not. And what’s really funny is they never talk to real soldiers. They pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and spout to the media.

RUSH: The phony soldiers.

CALLER: Phony soldiers. If you talk to any real soldier and they’re proud to serve, they want to be over in Iraq, they understand their sacrifice and they’re willing to sacrifice for the country.

RUSH: They joined to be in Iraq.

CALLER: A lot of people.

RUSH: You know where you’re going these days, the last four years, if you sign up. The odds are you’re going there or Afghanistan, or somewhere.

The topic didn’t end there, though. After a very short interplay regarding WMDs, Rush then returned to his “phony soldier” comment by explicitly defining what he meant by the term:

Here is a Morning Update that we did recently, talking about fake soldiers. This is a story of who the left props up as heroes. They have their celebrities and one of them was Army Ranger Jesse Macbeth. Now, he was a “corporal.” I say in quotes. Twenty-three years old. What made Jesse Macbeth a hero to the anti-war crowd wasn’t his Purple Heart; it wasn’t his being affiliated with post-traumatic stress disorder from tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. No. What made Jesse Macbeth, Army Ranger, a hero to the left was his courage, in their view, off the battlefield, without regard to consequences. He told the world the abuses he had witnessed in Iraq, American soldiers killing unarmed civilians, hundreds of men, women, even children. In one gruesome account, translated into Arabic and spread widely across the Internet, Army Ranger Jesse Macbeth describes the horrors this way: “We would burn their bodies. We would hang their bodies from the rafters in the mosque.”

Now, recently, Jesse Macbeth, poster boy for the anti-war left, had his day in court. And you know what? He was sentenced to five months in jail and three years probation for falsifying a Department of Veterans Affairs claim and his Army discharge record. He was in the Army. Jesse Macbeth was in the Army, folks, briefly. Forty-four days before he washed out of boot camp. Jesse Macbeth isn’t an Army Ranger, never was. He isn’t a corporal, never was. He never won the Purple Heart, and he was never in combat to witness the horrors he claimed to have seen. You probably haven’t even heard about this. And, if you have, you haven’t heard much about it. This doesn’t fit the narrative and the template in the Drive-By Media and the Democrat Party as to who is a genuine war hero. Don’t look for any retractions, by the way. Not from the anti-war left, the anti-military Drive-By Media, or the Arabic websites that spread Jesse Macbeth’s lies about our troops, because the truth for the left is fiction that serves their purpose. They have to lie about such atrocities because they can’t find any that fit the template of the way they see the US military. In other words, for the American anti-war left, the greatest inconvenience they face is the truth.

In other words, both at the time he used the phrase “phony soldiers” and within seconds of having used that phrase, Rush made it patently clear that he was talking about people who are genuine phonies: either they were never in the military at all, or they’ve lied about their service, either for pecuniary or political gain. (There’s also a class of soldier that seems to have enlisted, not to serve, but to achieve a secondary goal, such as jump-starting a fiction writing career or positioning himself to more strongly make a political protest.)

As to those people, he was saying that many of them push themselves forward, or are propped up by anti-War activists, as examples of soldiers who are opposed to the War. To the extent that they either are not soldiers at all, or they have lied about their records, or they have lied about what’s going on in Iraq, they are phonies and, in Rush’s view (as in mine), their “absolute moral authority” (just to quote M. Dowd) should be discounted.

To put it another way, Rush both said and implied that, when it comes to anti-War talk, the speaker’s identity and honesty have to be taken into account to determine the validity of his opinion. He did not say the opposite, which would be that the nature of the opinion should be used to disparage or invalidate the speaker.

Rush’s comment about the skepticism that should be accorded statements by phony soldiers — fakers who were never soldiers at all or who lie about their careers — would have vanished into the ether had it not been for the fact that the Democrats and Progressives, both in Congress and on the street, were smarting from the fallout created by MoveOn.org’s crass “General Betray-us” ad. If you’re an ordinary person, if you or someone associated with you, makes a gross error such as that ad, you apologize. However, if you’re a political narcissist, in which case an apology is not part of your mental landscape, you go on the attack. And that’s precisely what the Progressive crowd did.

The vehicle used for the attack was the Soros-connected, Hillary-founded Media Matters. As an interesting aside, Media Matters denies Hillary’s involvement in its founding. It’s unclear whether Hillary or Media Matters is lying. I’m not sure divining the truth actually matters, though. The nature of their statements — hers, trying to curry an association with Media Matters, and Media Matter’s, trying to keep some distance to avoid charges of partisanship — gives you as much information as the truth itself would.

By taking Rush’s comments out of context, Media Matters put Rush on the front page of all sorts of MSM vehicles (TV and print), with the claim that Rush was calling all American troops phonies. You’ve read the transcript, above, and you know about the genuinely phony soldiers who have shown up in this war (as they have in every war, although they haven’t normally been embraced by one of the major political parties). Keeping that in mind, read now what Media Matters wrote:

During the September 26 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh called service members who advocate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq “phony soldiers.”

As I noted above in the bold-print text, Media Matters is completely inverting what Rush said. He never said that soldiers who advocate withdrawal from Iraq are phonies. He said that the anti-War crowd is relying on a lot of real phonies to front for them as they call for unilateral withdrawal. Again: Rush both said and implied that, when it comes to anti-War talk, the speaker’s identity and honesty have to be taken into account to determine the validity of his opinion. He did not say the opposite, which would be that the nature of the opinion should be used to disparage or invalidate the speaker.

In the same post, Media Matters included much of the transcript from Rush’s show, but conveniently left out the bit in which he went on to explain precisely what he meant by phony soldiers. Media Matters created the political equivalent of a bad movie review. You know, those reviews that have much redacted quotations, such as “It blew my mind….” with the deleted material, in fact, stating that “It blew my mind what a rotten movie this was.” That kind of thing.

Democrats in Congress got very excited, something that has bewildered me. Their subsequent conduct indicated that they were oblivious to the fact that everyone knows Rush is a staunch support of American troops — anti-War, pro-War, service person, you name it, they all know that Rush supports the troops and the war effort. (Distinguishing himself, in this regard, from Democrats who have routinely denigrated both the troops and the war effort. Some good quotations are here, although that post leaves out some of the juiciest bits from such lovelies as Jack Murtha.)

Convinced that they had a “gotcha” moment, in which Rush had exposed his true colors as a rabid anti-military fanatic, 41 Democratic Senators, including Democratic Presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, tried to get him fired from his job. Under Harry Reid’s leadership, they signed off on a letter to Clear Channel Communications, Inc., in which they stated in relevant part as follows:

‘Although Americans of goodwill debate the merits of this war, we can all agree that those who serve with such great courage deserve our deepest respect and gratitude. That is why Rush Limbaugh’s recent characterization of troops who oppose the war as “phony soldiers” is such an outrage.

‘Our troops are fighting and dying to bring to others the freedoms that many take for granted. It is unconscionable that Mr. Limbaugh would criticize them for exercising the fundamentally American right to free speech. Mr. Limbaugh has made outrageous remarks before, but this affront to our soldiers is beyond the pale.

***

We call on you to publicly repudiate these comments that call into question their service and sacrifice and to ask Mr. Limbaugh to apologize for his comments.’

Some might wish to characterize this as simply a group of 41 people exercising their right to free speech, something that should not be curtailed just because they’re Senators. However, the letter represents something much more significant than that. Keep in mind that Clear Channel Communications takes to the airwaves courtesy of a license issued by the FCC. The FCC is an agency that Congress created and that is “directly responsible to Congress.” In other words, the same people that currently control the agency that grants to Clear Channel the license to broadcast wrote a letter to Clear Channel with an implicit threat that it must act against its wayward employee business partner or else. It’s not direct government censorship, but it has the ugly smell of indirect government censorship.

To its great credit, Clear Channel politely gave these 41 United States Senators the finger. Rush, brilliantly, went one step further. He put the letter up for auction, with a promise that 100% of the proceeds would go to the Marine Corp – Law Enforcement Foundation. The auction web page describes the foundation as follows: “Scholarship assistance to children of Marines and Federal law enforcement personnel whose parent dies on duty.” (There’s also a link that takes you to a page where you can find an address for the MC-LEF’s own web page. ) In addition to promising to turn all auction proceeds over to the MC-LEF, Rush made one other promise: he’d match the winning bid with his own donation to the MC-LEF. He then challenged the 41 signing Senators, many of whom (including Hillary and Reid) are millionaires, to do the same.

The MSM and the Democrats assiduously ignored the story until something happened: the letter sold to philanthropist (and Rush fan) Betty Brown Casey for $2,100,100.00. And that’s where things got interesting. The first sign that history was being rewritten in light of Rush’s fantastic publicity triumph (and nose-thumbing) was when Harry Reid issued a statement implying that it was thanks to him and his cronies that large sums of money were going to charity:

This week, Rush Limbaugh put the original copy of that letter up for auction on e-bay. Mr. President, we didn’t have time, or we could have gotten every senator to sign that letter. But he put the letter up for auction on e-bay and I think very, very constructively, left the proceeds of that it go to the Marine Corps law enforcements foundation. That provides scholarship assistance to marines and federal law enforcement personnel whose parents fall in the line of duty. What could be a more worthwhile cause? I think it’s really good that this money on e-bay is going to be raised for this purpose. …

Never did we think that this letter would bring money of this nature.

In other words, as history is being rewritten, Harry and his cronies wrote a threatening letter to a licensed communications company, not for purposes of censorship and political gain, but as a publicity stunt. (Significantly, neither Harry nor his compatriots are so enamored of the good that they did that they, personally, are donating any money, of course.)

A reader at Captain’s Quarters put his finger on the fact that the auction and Reid’s response put in a nutshell the whole difference between Progressives and Conservatives:

The conservative thinks of a free-market way of raising private funds to aid a worthwhile causes and backs his commitment with his own money.

The liberal asks other people to donate funds, doesn’t donate any of his own money, and tries to take credit for the generosity of others.

I wish I’d been smart enough to say that.

Aside from serving as a paradigm about Progressives and Republicans, this whole thing revealed, once again, the MSM’s difficulty in confronting perfidious behavior on the Democratic/Progressive side, or applauding laudable behavior on the Republican/Conservative side. Immediately after the MSM finally picked up the story, the Confederate Yankee noticed something interesting about the coverage: as did Reid, it spins it as a Democratic-inspired charitable donation. The paper of record (that would be the New York Times, which is clearly intent upon creating a version of the record) went even further, getting everything wrong in the very first sentence:

After Rush Limbaugh referred to Iraq war veterans critical of the war as “phony soldiers,” he received a letter of complaint signed by 41 Democratic senators.

As you know, because I demonstrated above using original sources, Rush did not refer to those Iraq veterans who are critical of the war as “phony soldiers.” Instead, he referred to phony soldiers as phony soldiers, with the warning that their criticisms of the war should be viewed in light of their base phoniness. As you also know, Rush did not receive a letter of complaint from 41 Democratic Senators. His boss partner, a company that holds a federal broadcasting licensing issued by an agency answerable to those 41 Senators received a letter demanding that it chastise him (a letter that implicitly hinted “or you’ll lose your license”).

So, to recap. Rush issued a warning against taking too seriously the anti-War comments emanating from honest to God phony soldiers (if you’ll pardon the oxymoron). A Soros-affiliated, Hillary-founded, anti-Conservative group twisted that language to accuse Rush of saying that all soldiers who oppose the war are phonies. Democratic Senators smarting from the backlash of people offended by a repugnant political ad wrote a manifestly threatening letter to Rush’s employer business partner. Rush put the letter up for auction, with the proceeds to go to charity, and with a promise to make a matching donation to that charity. He also invited the millionaires club in the Senate to join in. The letter sold for over $2 million, at which point the Senators did not join in, but they did try to take credit for the donation, a position the MSM echoed. The MSM also resolutely tried to perpetuate the original canard against Rush.

In other words, it’s business as usual in the Progressive fantasy land where Democratic politics and liberal media meet. It would be an amusing fairy tale were it not for the fact that myriad Americans who are not tuned-in know about the fable only through the liberal gate keeping media and naively believe that this fantasy is, in fact, political reality. So this isn’t a fairy-tale at all, it’s something of a horror story.

UPDATE: For more New York Times mendacity, check out this post at Sweetness & Light, demonstrating how the New York Times messed with history to clean up Hillary’s Chinatown problem. (H/t American Thinker.)

UPDATE II: Just today, yet another truly phony soldier, this time a story about a rather loony guy intent on self-aggrandizement. I wouldn’t buy a used car from the man, nor would I believe him to have moral authority when it came to opining about the War.

UPDATE III: Two comments came in that correct my misunderstanding about Rush’s relationship to Clear Channel. They’re important comments (and amusing), so they deserve to be up here, in the post. First, from mamapajamas:

And one thing that really made me laugh about this was that Rush is NOT an “employee” of Clear Channel, and CC could not have “punished” him in any way even if they’d wanted to. They’d have had endless lawsuits.

Rush outright OWNS the EIB Network. I can recall during the stem cell research thing with the Michael J Fox ad Rush responding to demands that he be fired with the comment that he was considering firing himself and rehiring himself at a higher salary. He is responsible to no one but himself.

The relationship between EIB and Clear Channel is more like computer hardware (the Clear Channel radio stations) and software (the EIB Network). They are equal PARTNERS. The computer doesn’t work without the software, the software doesn’t work without a computer. They’re two different components with equal power bound together by contracts.

And Clear Channel is making tons of money from the Rush show. They weren’t about to kill the goose that laid the golden egg! LOL!

And then, in response, from JJ:

Yes, Mama makes a good point that I was going to make: Clear Channel is in fact not Rush’s “boss” in any sense of the word. They are partners, and they are in fact somewhat unequal partners: Rush owns 100% of his product., and essentially self-syndicates.

All this proves is that Harry Reid is genuinely as stupid as he looks, and most of the democrats in the senate seem to have self-selected as being not much better.

I have no idea who votes for these people…

The Harry Reid/Rush Limbaugh letter

Just FYI, bidding has closed at $2,100,100.00. Now we’ll wait and see if it was a real bidder, or of someone was trying to scam the system (a point a commenter made in my last eBay auction post). If real, it’s wonderful.

UPDATE: It’s real! “The winner of the auction was philanthropist Betty Casey.” And Harry Reid is already trying to make political capital of this.

UPDATE II: I’m noticing a surge of traffic as people try to figure out who Betty Casey is. Since you’re at my blog, here’s what I know: Casey is in her late 70s (just shy of 80 years old). She is the widow of Eugene B. Casey, who was a major real estate developer in his native Washington. She isn’t known for matters political, instead being connected with the arts and other more generic philanthropic enterprises. She has donated fairly generously to Barack Obama, but she mostly seems to donate to Republican causes and candidates. Here’s a mini-bio about the reclusive heiress, from a larger story about a lawsuit against her in connection with donations to a medical institution:

Casey grew up poor, but married well. By the time her husband of 31 years, famously tight-fisted Maryland speculator and developer Eugene B. Casey, died in 1986, he had accumulated a fortune estimated at more than $200 million. While he was so cheap that he would turn off the Coke machine when he left his office at night to save electricity, she has become one of Washington’s most generous philanthropists. Among her projects: spending millions on the Washington Opera and $50 million to plant trees.

In a website with information about both Betty and Eugene Casey, you can get more of a sense about the source of her wealth.

She is a 1947 grad of Washington College, and continues to treat the college with great generosity.

She really, really, really loves opera. Also, as an homage to her husband, a D.C. native who loved the City dearly, Casey has contributed large sums of money to City beautification. She’s also been a generous sponsor to the Salvation Army.

She’s also been involved in endless litigation with the town of Rockville, Maryland about a piece property that has an 80 year old house on it. I haven’t delved into the case (that would take too long), but it’s clear that Rockville doesn’t want her to get her hands on the property.

She is, unsurprisingly, a well-groomed, pleasant looking lady, at least if one goes by this 2004 photograph. (Here’s another picture, from 2003.)

And to those of you coming here on the Betty Casey trail, feel free to look around this blog. You might like what you see.

UPDATE IIIMark Steyn nicely skewers Reid’s attempt to ride Rush’s coattails, while issuing a challenge (one I’m sure will be unanswered) to the Millionaires Club that makes up most of the letter’s signatories:

Harry Reid’s Rush-and-I-don’t-agree-on-much-but letter makes a small man look even more shriveled. Rush is matching the highest bid for the Reid/Kennedy/Dodd/etc letter, so right now he’ll be writing a personal check for somewhere north of two million bucks. He has invited the Senate smearers also to match the highest bid. Like so many commissars from the people’s party, Harry Reid is a wealthy man. So are Ted Kennedy and most of the other 41 Democratic Senators who signed the letter. If they won’t match it individually, why can’t they pony up 50 grand per?

Well, yes, I know, Senator Reid is the guy who tips his doorman at the Ritz-Carlton with campaign contributions…

Hat tip:  Wizbang

Update on Harry Reid’s letter to Rush

Just thought you’d like to know that, with a little more than 20 hours left on the bidding, the current high bid on the letter that Reid (along with 41 Democratic Senators) wrote in an effort to censor Rush Limbaugh is $511,100.00, with all proceeds to go to a fund that benefits Marine families. I’ll look forward to seeing the final bid.

UPDATE: And an update to the update here. At a little more than 18 hours to go, the bidding is at $851,100.00. This is exciting!

Spending money on a piece of history

Kim Priestap gives the heads-up that Rush is auctioning off the original letter in which Senators tried to censor him for the faux phony soldier scandal, with the proceeds to go to a Marine charity (Rush is a board member). More than that, Rush is challenging each Senator who signed the letter to match the final price for which the letter is auctioned. If you have some money lying around, want to give to a good cause, and want to own a piece of history, you need to go here and bid. The Auction ends on October 19, so you should head on over if you want to bid or just check out the progress. (It’s up to $25,100 as I write this.)

UPDATEEven the Late Show seems to be siding with Rush, albeit obliquely.

Is the Rush thing going to be another Democratic fiasco?

I’ve kept quiet about the phony “Phony Soldier” attack against Rush because others are exposing the Dem’s idiocy much better than I could and, up until about five minutes, I didn’t feel I had anything even marginally original to add.  What occurred to me five minutes ago, however, was the old saw about “know your audience,” and I thought that I’d pass this one on.

The Democrats understand that Rush fans know that this is all a scurrilous and false attack against Rush.  I don’t doubt that members of the military also know that this is a scurrilous and false attack against Rush, because they can’t be ignorant of the fact that Rush, not Harkin or Reid, or any other Democrat, has been their faithful friend.  So it isn’t going to play before that audience.

The Democrats also know that their base loathes Rush and thinks he’s Satan incarnate.  They hate him because he’s a conservative, and the conservatives are fascist war mongers.  The base, then, is going to know that this whole “scandal” is a fake, but they’re not going to care.  They just like seeing the attack.  But you don’t gain any additional political traction by peddling obvious lies to your base.

So the intended target must be the people who don’t care one way or another about Rush (non-fanatic Democrats, casual Republicans, and Independents).  But not caring about Rush is not the same as not knowing about Rush. Everybody in America, unless they’ve spent the last years under rocks, knows of Rush, and knows that he’s the King of the Conservatives.  And if they know that much, they also have figured out that, subject to a few RINO exceptions, the Conservatives are the party that pretty much unreservedly supports the military — as opposed to the Democrats, who are traditionally very anti-military.  So it seems likely that this audience, hearing about this “controversy,” might be the one group that thinks “something’s not right here.”  And if the members of his audience care even a little about this curious inversion of normalcy, they’ll investigate and discover that the Democratic Congress is lying through its teeth.  And really, that’s not good for the Democrats.

So tell me again, what audience are the Democrats playing to?

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