Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bad Reporting or Biased Reporting? Dishonest Donald Douglas Tries to Conflate the Two for Partisan Advantage

In reply to: Repsac3, Hate-Addled Internet Predator, Screams 'Liar' at Virtually Entire World on Politicization of Colorado Shooting

First off, the title. Dishonest Donald Douglas at his most hyperbolic. While I understand that HE apparently believes that anyone who dares contradict him does so out of hate, and that by using such words as "harassing" or "predator," he can scare away those with whom he disagrees with threats to reputation (and threats of legal action, when he deems it necessary), the fact is, he just can't stand to have anyone express a view different than his own, and attacks damned near everyone who does in these vitriolic, bilous terms.

Second, this isn't about politicization. While I'm not sure it's the first word I would use, I'm not arguing that Brian Ross didn't wade into politics and stir up partisans by going to air with his shoddy, shitty reporting. I'm saying that there is no evidence--no history on Brian Ross' part, and nothing in what he said in this instance, either--that suggests he did so because he was biased against conservatives, Republicans, or the tea party. He didn't say what he did because he hates the right. He said it because, as so often happens during breaking events, the urge to be first, and to fill airtime and column space overtakes the urge to be right. He did a Google search, saw something that might be relevant, maybe, and talked about it live on the air without bothering to check it out.

Those who're whining that he did this because he instinctively hates the tea party, or that there is some mainstream media conspiratorial attack on conservatives, are selling that meme to play themselves up as victims and give their base an(other) enemy to rally against. It's Machiavelli. It's 1984. It's giving the people a scapegoat. And, though it works, it's often dishonest bullshit.

On to the meat of the post:

For all of hate-blogger Walter James Casper III's embarrassing, over-the-top bleating, he's in fact never shown that Brain Ross's premature speculation wasn't political.
Again, the argument up to now hasn't been that the reporting wasn't political--and I find it quite interesting that Dr. Douglas is attempting to shift that goalpost. The argument has been, was Brian Ross' premature speculation the result of media bias, either on his part, or on the part of ABC.

That said, what Dr. Douglas alleges is true. Not only haven't I proven that negative, I haven't even tried. The burden of proof is on the ones making the accusation, not the ones saying there is no evidence the accusation is worth the hot air and electrons it's made with. And Donald Douglas has in fact never shown that Brain Ross's premature speculation was political partisan, or the result of media bias.
In fact, that Ross sought to tie suspect James Holmes to the tea party was nothing but political, because his statement couldn't be farther from a routine mistake of fact. Ross "investigated" the suspect's name, found out there was a "James Holmes" in Colorado who belonged to tea party groups, and then went on the air with it. He didn't wrongly report the suspect's age or occupation, or some other descriptive non-political fact.
So far, we're on the same page (especially seeing as how much easier it is to "prove" this fact that neither of us was arguing against--that what Brian Ross "reported" was political--rather than the "fact" that was actually in contention, which was whether or not Brian Ross did so because he is biased against the tea party.)
He instinctively went with the same well-worn blood libel smear against the allegedly "violent" tea party movement. He was comfortable smearing the tea party for mass murder because that's what network elites do. Simple as that.
Simple as that, and no evidence necessary, obviously... It's true because Donald Douglas and others of his ilk say it is, and anyone who disagrees with them is a hate-addled internet predator.

Glad we cleared that up.
And of course it was entirely wrong and Ross has been universally condemned for "politicizing" the reporting. Not "misreporting" the story, "politicizing" it in the most disgusting way imaginable.
Actually, if you go back to the Reliable Sources video Dr. Douglas posted in support of his previous diatribe, the terms they use are "mistake," "get things wrong," "sensationalism and rushing from judgment" (I suspect that using "from judgement," rather than "to judgement" was intentional), and "getting thing right first before, you know, getting things, just getting things out there." AND... they never used the terms "politicize" or "bias."

A quick digression regarding this accusation about "politicizing tragedy." EVERY tragedy is political. There are laws passed by legislatures that regulate whatever happened, no matter what the situation is. First responders and relief efforts paid by tax dollars are put into motion, and there are laws, statutes and regulations regarding them, as well. Tragedies are "politicized" the second they happen, by virtue of their happening in a place governed by the rule of law, where government officials vote on who gets how much money, and for what purpose.

What the folks urging others to avoid "politicizing the tragedy" are really saying is, "I like the way this issue is politicized right now, thanks... Please don't discuss anything that might threaten the political status quo." ...which is, of course, politicizing the issue, only in the way they prefer it to be politicized.

Whether we pass stricter gun laws so that it's more difficult for madmen to get the guns, ammunition, and protective gear they use to commit these shootings, repeal gun laws so that innocent citizens can more easily defend themselves against madmen, or don't change anything regarding federal or state gun laws, that action (or decision to take no action) is absolutely political.

Brian Ross was entirely wrong. His shoddy reporting has been universally condemned, because it was really bad reporting. Speculating out loud on air before carefully checking to see whether your thoughts are factual or relevant to the situation is extremely shitty reporting. It happens entirely too often, and it's wrong every time...even when the speculation does end up panning out once it has been checked, as in the case of that guy with the muslim sounding name who shot up that army base. (And follow the link to see a list of some of the faulty, speculative reporting that came out in the heat of reporting that tragedy.)
Regina Thomson, President of the Colorado Tea Party Patriots, repudiated Ross's smear as "shameless and reprehensible."
She is correct. It WAS shameless and reprehensible...but more because it was shitty reporting than because it was a smear, which again, implies it was intentional, a "fact" nowhere in evidence.
This happens every time there's some kind of horrible massacre, for example last year in Tucson. Left-wing journalists, pundits, and bloggers jumped to exploit the bloodshed to destroy conservatives.
I'll agree with that... Every time there is any kind of tragedy, (or for that matter, any slip of the tongue, any 20 year old incident, or any piece of news at all) there are partisans who try to use it to attack the folks they don't agree with and to further their own partisan agenda. In the case of Tucson, there was both the same unsubstantiated speculation masquerading as news, some of which was about political motives for the shooting of a Democratic officeholder--but as in the case of Brian Ross, WASN'T the result of political bias (just that need to say it first and/or fill up airtime and column inches) and partisan political operatives (pundits and bloggers, more than journalists) making accusations designed to hurt the other that case, conservatives. But what Donald fails to mention, perhaps in an effort to paint everyone he hates (everyone he disagrees with) with that one big ol' brush, is that there were also Left of center journalists, pundits, and bloggers who spoke out against such attacks, and many more who did neither; no partisan attacks, and no condemnation of those who did attack, either. Partisan conservatives such as Dr. Douglas--acting far more like the people they're condemning than they'd ever admit--would have folks believe that if ANY liberal does something immoral, illegal, or eeeeevil, ALL liberals are responsible for that behavior.

For the record, here's the first of many comments I (a supposedly hateful, heartless ultra-partisan leftist) made in the wake of the Gabby Giffords shooting:
"The political rhetoric of Sarah Palin's scope sights and "blueboy's" post at Daily Kos are both sadly over the top.

Are either of 'em responsible for this particular violence (or any violence, at all)? Almost certainly not. The coarsening of the culture, including violent or hateful political rhetoric like these examples are surely not good for any society, and yes, nutbags like this guy can perhaps be influenced by them. (To be clear, I'm not saying that there's any evidence that this guy WAS, only that it's possible that nutbags, including this guy, CAN BE.) But even without being a direct or indirect factor in violent acts, such rhetoric does divide us and set the stage for more (more quantity, and more over the top nasty) rhetoric. And that's just sad.

From what we know at present anyway, anyone trying to tie this guy or this massacre to any political party or point of view is talking out of their ass. Nuts are just nuts. (And I don't think that anyone can watch/read his three YouTube "manifestos" and not come away thinking that this guy was fully in control of his faculties.) Blaming "the left" because he listed "The Communist Manifesto" as one of his favorite books (or blaming "the right" because he had a thing about gold-backed currency) is like blaming English teachers because he seemed to be obsessed with grammar. (Perhaps even moreso... He actually discussed grammar in his videos.)

The guy's nuts, so whether he says he did it because he's opposed to one political party or point of view or another, or because the butter dish on his breakfast table told him to, one would have to be a pretty desperate partisan to take the guy seriously and believe that he represents or proves anything about any political point of view.

That's not to say that there haven't been folks who've killed in the name of some sociopolitical cause or another, left and right, but this ain't one of 'em. (And really, ANYONE who kills in the name of a sociopolitical cause is pretty much on the fringe of American society, and not representative of or "proof of the inherent eeeeevil of") Republicans, Democrats, liberals or conservatives, and anyone who says different is again, pretty desperate to promote their own way of thinkin' and/or discredit everyone else's.)"
Yes, there were liberals who said some really stupid and disgusting things after Gabby Giffords was shot. Other liberals called them out for doing so. Blaming every liberal for what any liberal says is hacktacular partisan attackery...and obviously, stupidly wrong, besides.
"And that Repsac3 is now so blindingly enraged..."
" be called out on his dishonesty--- when even far-left "Wonkette" called Ross's smear a reprehensible move --- is just, well, pathetic."
Jim Newell at Wonkette neither called Brian Ross' asstastic reporting "a smear," or said it was "reprehensible." And more importantly, nowhere in the post does Newell attribute what Ross did to bias against Republicans, conservatives, or the tea party, either. (Newell says it's "pure laziness," and not "bother[ing to] try to confirm anything." And Newell calls it "an egregious, early error that will color the impressions of people no matter how frequently or aggressively it’s retracted.")

Donald is apparently trying to conflate the idea that was Brian Ross did was awful, dishonest reporting--which is absolutely true--and that Brian Ross is a leftist partisan who intentionally tried to smear the tea party by falsely tying them to this killer--which is pretty obviously bullshit and, ironically, is only being said by rightwing partisans intentionally trying to smear the left by falsely tying them to Brian's bad reporting. The "universal condemnation" Dr. Douglas keeps referring to is condemnation of Brian Ross' terrible reporting. Most of the condemnation says nothing about media bias or partisanship on the part of Brian Ross or ABC. That condemnation is almost exclusively being ginned up and echoed by a few rightwing partisans, including Donald Douglas.
"As I've reported throughout, the condemnation has been virtually universal, left and right, attacking Ross's initial report as disgustingly political."
Pay careful attention to the individuals and blogs Dr. Douglas cites, as proof of this "universal condemnation" of Ross' "disgustingly political" report.
Here's IBD's editorial from Friday, for example...
And this is the same basic point that Michelle [Malkin] made in her post on Friday...
See Jennifer Stefano, the Pennsylvania State Director of AFP, at Fox News
And here's John Kass, at far-left Chicago Tribune...
"Universal condemnation, left and right" from Investor's Business Daily, Michelle Malkin, a rightwing activist named Jennifer Stefano, on FoxNews (my personal favorite), and John Kass, who, for all of Donald's suggestion to the contrary, doesn't seem to have all that many liberal views, is considered by at least one fan to be Chicago's conservative media rock star @John_Kass speaks:) (and says himself that he's a conservative), and pretty regularly attacks the media as being biased against conservatives...just like he (and all of the conservatives Donald listed here) did this time. That's Donald's idea of "universal condemnation."
We all make mistakes. But this one smacks of political bias. And when you add political bias to the rush of breaking news, as seems to have happened here, things get stinky.
Donald still hasn't offered any evidence of political bias. What he's doing, is speculating without nailing down anything in the way of facts...a lot like Brian Ross did...except that in Donald's case, there is some evidence that his motive is partisan, in the form of, well, his whole blog.
"It could have been an honest mistake, perhaps. It might have come across as a mistake if Stephanopoulos had interjected and said, "No, Brian, we don't have enough evidence to make that connection to the tea party." Instead, the former aide to Bill Clinton thanked Ross for his reporting."
Did Dr. Douglas forget the video he so recently posted in support of his meme, where veteran reporters discussed how an anchor in the middle of a show, especially, has to trust that a veteran investigative reporter did his job, and cannot spend time second guessing what correspondents report.
"It's no wonder that virtually the entire political establishment reacted the way it did. ABC News was out there on a limb, as James Taranto reported at the Wall Street Journal..."
James Taranto at the Wall Street Journal... More of that "universal condemnation, left and right" no doubt (Anyone think Taranto's a liberal?)

The entire political establishment reacted to awful, lazy, fact-free reporting--not biased reporting. Trying to conflate the two is a bullshit move, and folks see right through it.
"...and for someone to come along and then essentially call all these people "liars" is simply beneath contempt. But that's Walter James Casper for you. He's been working the Internet for years, attempting to undermine and destroy conservatives."
A whole lot of my "work" is here... I disagree with conservatives, and I discuss exactly where and why, citing what they actually say whenever possible. (This post is an example, but feel free to check out anything else I've written, and judge me as you will.) I don't destroy anyone. I can see why Donald Douglas might not like that, but his hyperbolic attacks on me, personally, are pretty far over the top.
Walter James Casper is now back to stalking this blog and sending me unsolicited tweets.
"Stalking" = reading his blog.

"unsolicited tweets"? Yeah, apparently this really is a thing. Like this commenter, I always though it was just good netiquette (Twitterquette?) to @ whoever one is talking to or about on twitter, but obviously not everyone feels that way... which of course, has to make one wonder what these are, and what federal law enforcement agency or branch of military service I should be reporting them to... y'know, like Donald threatened to do over unwanted comments on his moderated blog. (Obviously, I shall refrain from using @AmPowerBlog in any/all unsolicited tweets in future. Lord knows who Dr. Douglas will try to report me to, otherwise...)
"He's even kicked back up the old "American Nihilist" hate-site after I reported it to the Irvine Police Department previously."
In light of the Brett Kimberlin lawfare intimidation scandal, I started questioning whether giving bullies what they want is a good thing. Maybe I will kickstart this blog back to a regular thing or maybe I won't, but I refuse to let Dr. Douglas make that decision for me.
"The left tries to shut folks down with stalking and intimidation, but you have to shine a light on the hate and defeat them."
Irony Alert (Who's reporting who to the police, elected representatives, lawyers, ...?)
"He never went away after being reported to the police, despite announcing that I'd "won the Internet." He just shifted gears a bit, and is now back in the hunt for his next political kill."
"His ranting is self-refuting..."

UPDATE 1: Dr. Douglas adds Dennis Prager at National Review Online to his list of "universal condemnation, left and right" (who all seem to be conservative, for some reason) alleging bias on the part of Brian Ross and ABC.

UPDATE 2: Still more of that "universal condemnation, left and right," this time including Noel Sheppard at (conservative), Peter Wehner at Commentary Magazine (conservative), Jonah Goldberg also from National Review Online (conservative), and, in a first, an actual non-conservative--Jon Stewart--alleging possible media bias on the part of Brian Ross. And none of them offer any proof in the form of previous reportage, cocktail party comments, or any other verbiage in support of Brian Ross being biased against conservatives, republicans, or the tea party. Jon Stewart, like Donald Douglas and everyone on his list of almost "universally" conservative opinioneers, is welcome to their opinions (all one of them)...but the facts just don't support the allegation of media bias.

Kudos to Dr Douglas for his persistence, though... He does keep trying...

PREVIOUSLY: "Dishonest Donald Douglas Lies About Media Bias (and me, of course)" and "American Nihilist: In Reply: More on Unsubstantiated Speculation Masquerading as News"

BACKGROUND: "Criminalizing the Internet - The Ongoing Saga"

American Power: Repsac3, Hate-Addled Internet Predator, Screams 'Liar' at Virtually Entire World on Politicization of Colorado Shooting

American Power: California Penal Code Section 646.9 on Criminal Harassment and Cyberstalking: Statement of Warning to Hate-Blogger Walter James Casper III

Reliable Sources video


In Reply: Using tragedy as partisan political attack

ABC News Should Fire Brian Ross, And Other Notes On Being Terrible

ABC News' Colorado Shooting Apology Is Not Good Enough -

Michelle Malkin � Blame Righty impulse blows up in media faces…again

The Pennsylvania Leadership Conference - BIO: Jennifer Stefano

Media must stop falsely accusing the Tea Party every time tragedy strikes | Fox News News Forum - Thread

Ray's 2.0: More insanity: Twitter's blocking tweets as "unsolicited mentions"

What'd I Say?: In Reply: "I never thought that person did it because of their political leanings, I think they did it because they were cowardly bullies." (Popehat, Team Kimberlin, Donald Douglas)

American Power: Of Course Brian Ross Blamed the Tea Party

Explaining Brian Ross’s Mistake - Dennis Prager - National Review Online

American Power: More Universal Condemnation of ABC News' Brian Ross

Jon Stewart Slams Brian Ross: 'What Story Does a Guy Have to Blow to Get in Trouble at ABC?' |

Jon Stewart Destroys ABC’s Brian Ross � Commentary Magazine

Brian Ross’s Brain Cramp - Jonah Goldberg - National Review Online

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

More on Unsubstantiated Speculation Masquerading as News

In reply to 'Reliable Sources' Covers Media Response to Colorado Shooting

As I said in my rebuttal to Donald Douglas' earlier attack post, the man is just lying. Rather than cover the same ground, I'll refer back to that previous rebuttal whenever Donald offers the same specious attack...but there are a few fresh lies in this second attack post that deserve reply.
"As noted, Repsac3 is infected with incredibly deep hatred and bigotry, and this prevents him from even acknowledging progressive error, not to mention left-wing evil."
As noted, Donald Douglas appears to be making things up as he goes along. While he alleges all this hatred and bigotry, he fails to offer any examples of it. Similarly, I have no idea what "progressive error" Dr. Douglas is on about...(Perhaps he believes Brian Ross is a progressive, in keeping with his "everyone who disagrees with me is my enemy" black vs white thinkin'?) While I don't believe Brian Ross should be fired for his shoddy reporting, I have in no way defended him or suggested his conduct was acceptable... ...which is obviously why, though Donald accuses me of doing so, he fails to actually show any evidence of my doing so. Donald is making it up.
"At the clip, Howard Kurtz briefly mentions that Breitbart's website claimed that the suspect was a Democrat, and then corrected the post. That's premature as well, and I think folks should report the facts about what is happening on the ground before trying to tear apart your enemies. Of course, that is not something the progressives like Walter James Casper believe, so there's literally no reason to expect him to call out folks on his side rather than defend them."
Again, Donald Kent Douglas is lying. I discussed (or "called out") several cases where bloggers and other media outlets released speculative, unvetted information, and I judged them all by the exact same standards, saying that all but one of them were not the result of partisan bias, and explaining why I believed the remaining one might have been. I didn't defend anyone who engaged in this kind of behavior. My posts also say for themselves what I believe about how reporters ought to behave--especially during these fast-moving stories--so it's no surprise that Dr. Douglas "neglected" to quote or link to any of what I actually posted on the subject. It's so much easier to lie when you fail to show the facts...

I said... cannot start pushing back against stupid correlation/causation arguments soon enough. (especially ones built on speculative factors to start with–there is ZERO evidence that the shooter was either a Tea Party member or registered to vote as a Democrat–and that's apart from the fact that even if either were true, there is nothing indicating the shootings were political, anyway.)

The established media and bloggers would do well to keep their every speculation and thought that randomly enters their head to themselves, at least until they've confirmed that they are reporting facts that are, y'know, factual. After that, I guess there's no greater or less harm in reporting a shooter's political affiliations than in reporting his/her eye color or shoe size…though for my money, relevant facts are worth far more than irrelevant ones. While all facts are facts, some facts are obviously worth more to a given story than others.
I also said...
Brian Ross's problem wasn't a hatred of the Tea party types, but unsubstantiated speculation masquerading as news. (Same goes for the asshole(s) at the Breitbart sites speculating that the shooter may've been registered to vote as a though one's voter registration is somehow relevant. And no, their childish pleas that "they--that is, Brian Ross--did it first" in no way absolves them. If it's wrong to speculate, it's wrong to speculate, no matter who's "side" your speculation helps or hurts.)
One set of standards, for friend and foe alike...

Let's go to the videotape:

Now first off--and contrary to Dr. Douglas' not so carefully crafted meme--no one in that video attributes ABC's terrible, speculative "reporting" about "Jim, the tea party guy" to political bias on the part of Brian Ross or anyone else at ABC.

Bob Cusack says it was "a pretty bad mistake" and likely the result of "doing a lot of research" while in the situation.

Ana Marie Cox says "people get things wrong. News organizations get things wrong, you know, in the sort of craziness right after an event like this." She goes on to say "ABC probably should put everything in context. Put everything sort of in the area, what they say, any news organization should be careful to say that we don't really know very much. And when you don't know, you say you don't know. You don't go with information that you think might be true.

You know probably better than any of us sitting here, the pressure that people have to break news. That pressure has just become so overwhelming that people will go with false news."

Howard Kurtz brings up the stations who blew the Supreme Court decision on Obamacare, going to air before knowing the facts.

Contrary to Dr. Douglas' meme, no one on the show attributes Brian Ross' bad reporting to political partisanship or bias. Rather, they attribute it to unsubstantiated speculation and the media's rushes to judgement and poor vetting in their attempts to "publish" first and to fill airtime when they don't actually have established, vetted facts with which to do so... ...which is pretty much exactly what I said in my posts, as well...

American Power: 'Reliable Sources' Covers Media Response to Colorado Shooting

In Reply: Dishonest Donald Douglas Lies About Media Bias (and me, of course)

American Power: When Even Sick Left-Wing Sites Like 'Wonkette' Want Brian Ross Fired, Despicable Hate-Blogger Repsac3 Attacks Michelle Malkin as 'Whiney Wingnut Victim'

In Reply: Media and bloggers would do well to keep from reporting every thought that enters their heads as "news," and consider focusing more on reporting relevant facts, rather than any/all facts

In Reply: Whiny Wingnut Victimization and Unsubstantiated Speculation Masquerading as "News" - Transcripts

Monday, July 23, 2012

In Reply: Dishonest Donald Douglas Lies About Media Bias (and me, of course)

In reply to Dishonest Donald Douglas's American Power post "When Even Sick Left-Wing Sites Like 'Wonkette' Want Brian Ross Fired, Despicable Hate-Blogger Repsac3 Attacks Michelle Malkin as 'Whiney Wingnut Victim'"
"But despite the universal condemnation of the left's attempts to politicize the Aurora massacre, Walter James Casper III decided to take to Twitter to --- wait for it! --- slam conservative Michelle Malkin as a "whiney wingnut victim"
While I disagree that there has been anything in the way of "universal condemnation" of anyone's attempts to "politicize" this story--much of the condemnation, including mine, and including the condemnation Donald Douglas finds in the Reliable Sources video he uses in a later post concerns the blog/print/tv media's rushes to judgement and poor vetting in their attempts to "publish" first and to fill airtime when they don't actually have established, vetted facts with which to do so--I do think that those who prattle on about media bias whenever someone makes an error or engages in piss-poor reporting like Brian Ross did--but seemingly only when it goes against their own political points of view--are whiners. (I don't hold Media Research Center--or any of their affiliated "echo chambers"--or Media Matters for America to this standard, though. Their whole purpose is to expose what they believe to be media attacks against their own political point of view or in favor of someone else's. While some of what these sites post is the same kind of whiny crap I reference above, some of it is legitimate.)

There is damned near ZERO evidence that ABC or Brian Ross are biased against Republicans, conservatives, or the tea party. Ross searched the guy's name, probably in conjunction with the "state," if not "city and state," and blurted out what he found without bothering to follow up or check it out in any way. Had he found a "James" or "Jim" "Holmes" from "Aurora, CO" who... ...wrote letters of support to The Nation Magazine, arrested for protesting against (or in favor of) the war in Iraq or income disparity, or ...was a member of the Aurora Symphony Orchestra, there is little doubt he'd've blurted out THAT dubious, unvetted "information," instead.

For all the partisan whinging and whining, what Brian Ross did was no different than what CNN and FoxNews did when reporting on the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Heath Care law. He spoke without knowing the facts. He found something that would allow him to keep talking on-air, and put it out there without bothering to make sure the information he found was accurate or relevant. Brian Ross is far from the only person to Google variations of the name and "Aurora, CO," and he isn't the only one to irresponsibly air "facts" and speculation regarding those search results without bothering to check them out first. (See: Joel B. Pollak, at, who speculated that the killer was a registered Democrat; and John Hawkins at Right Wing News, who posted a link to the Facebook page of a random James Holmes from Aurora, CO.) It's irresponsible, and shitty reporting...but it's rarely partisan. (Of the three examples, the Britbart one seems the most partisan. From the context anyway, it sure looks like they intentionally searched for a "liberal" or "democrat" from "Aurora, CO" named "James Holmes" or "Jim Holmes," to rebut Brian Williams shitty effect, engaging in their own shitty (and possibly intentionally biased) reporting. YMMV...)

After quoting conservative opinioneer (and whiner) James Taranto saying "Ross and ABC were out on this limb alone. Either other journalists learned their lesson from Tucson, or it didn't occur to them to look for a political motive this time (it was a more plausible hypothesis in a shooting that targeted a politician)", Donald says:
"And actually, Ross and ABC weren't out on a limb alone. Walter James Casper III jumped out on that limb too..."
As usual, there is no quote of or cite to my alleging or speculating about tea party involvement in the crime. I never said any such thing. Donald Douglas is simply lying, again, in an effort to attack. Perhaps he was angry that I called him out (See "REPOST," below) about his lie alleging that Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog searched for a connection between the tea party and the shooter-- (In fact, Steve was one of many who GoogleBinged the name and the location, and discounted as "not the guy" every possible link he found and discussed, in a post entitled "I DON'T BELIEVE THE AURORA MASSACRE WAS POLITICAL." --or maybe he just cannot resist lashing out at me personally for whatever slights he imagines I committed against him, but either way, the facts do not fit the specious allegations he's of course, he leaves them out of his attack. No surprise.

American Power: When Even Sick Left-Wing Sites Like 'Wonkette' Want Brian Ross Fired, Despicable Hate-Blogger Repsac3 Attacks Michelle Malkin as 'Whiney Wingnut Victim'
In Reply: Media and bloggers would do well to keep from reporting every thought that enters their heads as "news," and consider focusing more on reporting relevant facts, rather than any/all facts
In Reply: Whiny Wingnut Victimization and Unsubstantiated Speculation Masquerading as "News"
Covering the Colorado massacre - YouTube
American Power: 'Reliable Sources' Covers Media Response to Colorado Shooting
Exclusive: Contra ABC News, Dark Knight Aurora, CO Shooting Suspect James Holmes Could Be Registered Democrat - UPDATE: Not Registered?
Is This James Holmes’ Facebook Page? | Right Wing News

(I even saw one ass blaming Steve (the "No More Mister Nice Blog" blogger)for his quote of the Breitbart piece above and blaming Steve, not the Breitbart author or Brian Ross, for the speculation about Tea Party involvement. Even after the facts were pointed out to him, the same blogger repeats the lie a second time. UPDATE: Same blogger goes for the threepeat of that same lie. Steve M. searched the guy's name--just like Brian Ross, and just like John Hawkins at Right Wing News. Steve did not restrict his search to Tea Party members, nor did he report that the shooter was a tea party member--though he did quote a Breitbart blog post, which in turn quoted the Brian Ross piece, when THEY discussed the Tea Party angle. Donald Douglas is lying--and at this point, there is no doubt that he is aware of it, which calls his credibility--if not his sanity--into question.)
The Dishonest Donald Douglas Steve M. posts, and related material:
#1) "And Steve at No More Mr. Nice Guy was out of the gate looking for a tea party perp..."

Twitterer @kathykattenburg tries to steer Dr. Douglas toward honesty: "@AmPowerBlog And I think u should read Steve's piece again because he does not "search for a tea party perp." That is a complete misreading."

Needless to say, the facts had no effect:

#2) "Recall that Steve M. also searched James Holmes' name to find tea party ties, only to find out he was too young to be the "James Holmes" he'd found at the boards."

#3) "The decent, human thing to do would to be to gather facts, and especially not go looking around the Internet to see "what party is this insane person in?", or what tea party organization, as did No More Mr. Nice Blog did. That is, the decent, human thing would not be going all gonzo trying to score partisan points to destroy your enemies." (Talk about irony...)

And the title of the blog post about which Dishonest Don complains?:

Yeah... really.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Of Mommies (Commies?!?) and Mean Girls

So there was this contest, held by a popular site for moms and mommy bloggers. (Photo in case the page changes, now that the contest is over. Click the photo(s) to embiggen.):

The contest was open for three weeks. Folks would nominate themselves or their friends, and the general public would vote on their favorite political mommy blogs or, it seems, political blogs written by women who are mommies (though you'd scarcely know it by their posts). While the contest blurb did not make it clear, it was possible to vote for more than just your favorite blog; in fact, you could vote for as many blogs as you wanted, once every 24 hours.

Going into the final week, a liberal blog called Monologues of Dissent was at the top of the list. This did not make the conservative bloggers very happy.

So, this happened:

and this happened:

and this:

and this:

(The one above, along with the "Lonely Conservative" post at the top of the list, were subsequently deleted. I'll get to the likely reason why, shortly.):

and then there were these:

And that by no means concludes the list. This thing shot through this particular segment of the Con blogosphere like wildfire, and posts like these abounded.

On and on it went... Dismissive, partisan derision, like calling the liberals "Commie Mommies" became the theme. (Yes, one of the liberal bloggers in the contest did call herself a Commie Mommy Blogger at least one time (and though I can't prove it, common sense says she did so in response to the crazy "red scare" commentary of Right Wingnuttia). Whatever her reason though, one thing is clear to anyone who bothers to look; Right there in the SAME POST, she also said...:

...proving once again that satire is lost on quite a few conservatives.)

And, while the conservative mean girls and their like-minded, lunkheaded boyfriends were ginning up support for the popular clique and trashing the competition, so they could become the homecoming queens of the internet, or whatever, what were the liberal moms doing?


Political Mamas � The Mamafesto:

A few weeks ago I got an email saying I was nominated for a “Top 25 Political Mom Bloggers” award. After deciding it wasn’t actually spam, I admit I got a little giddy. I’m none too savvy as far as these blogging awards go, and to be honest, I’m not even sure what it really all means (a pretty little .gif to attach to my site? meh. More traffic = more folks reading about gender, feminism, reproductive rights, etc? Yes please!).

And, I’m pretty sure there isn’t even an actual prize.

So why has it turned so ugly?

I’ll be honest to say that I’m more than flattered that somebody thought to nominate me for top political blogger. I also think it’s pretty rad that there are enough moms out there interested and invested in politics to even have such a category. That in and of itself speaks volumes to me, and energizes the little activist in me. Regardless of where these women stand, they’re still engaged enough to want to discuss the political climate in our country today.

But somehow, it’s become less about the actual politics and issues and more about “sticking it to the other side.” When I saw some blogs rapidly spike through the polling list, I became curious and visited some of them. Instead of just asking for votes, there were posts that demeaned and ridiculed other bloggers whose views didn’t mesh with their own. Attack the politics, sure. But the bloggers? Why stoop to that level. Over an internet poll?

I just don’t get it.

I’ll debate the issues all you want, but when you start slinging out insults like “commie mommies?” What’s the point? What happened to winning on your own platform? Why do we need to malign others to build ourselves up? Seems like a hollow victory in the end to me.

Turning this into a popularity contest just adds more weight to the whole Mommy Wars game, and frankly I don’t want to play if those are the rules. I’m not going to badmouth anyone, or try to instill fear that the end of the world is near if the other side comes out victorious (again, we’re talking about a random internet voting poll. This ain’t the Hunger Games folks).

Yet, here I am, humbly asking for you to click this link and shoot a vote my way. You don’t need to sign up for anything, and actually – you can even vote for more than one blogger at a time!

For instance, you could also vote for Blue Milk, Mamapundit, MomsRising, PunditMom, The Radical Housewife, Hello Ladies, Femamom, The Feminist Breeder , Viva La Feminista and any others on the main site that tickle your political fancy.

Please – share this post and encourage your friends to vote as well. You can vote once every 24 hours. If anything, think of this as practice for the real, actually important impending national election.

and this:

Confessions of a Commie Mommy | One Flew Over the Playpen:

I started this blog for two reasons: 1) I was afraid being a stay-at-home mom was making a certain part of my brain mushy and 2) I was realizing that life as a mom “outside the Beltway” was like a slap in the face – there were so many things I thought I understood before, but clearly had no idea. Literally, my water broke, O popped out, and in an instant I went from insider to outsider, and started getting the education that came with it. I thought it would be fun to capture my thoughts and share them with my friends.

But what I hadn’t completely figured out was that leaving DC and becoming a mom in the ‘burbs of Illinois, where everything I knew and almost everyone I cared about was hundreds of miles away, had made me feel incredibly alone and sometimes really sad. I am so lucky to be able to stay home with O, but it’s been hard for me to redefine myself. Being a mom is amazing, but it’s also monotonous and isolating. It’s easy to feel like the whole world is passing you by.

This blog made me feel like I was a little bit “in the know” again. And people were sending me notes saying they liked a post or suggesting new ideas. I email with people I haven’t spoken to in ages. I even email with total strangers. It got me off my butt to start volunteering and getting involved with local issues. It was just what I needed.

I also realized there’s this whole community of moms who write about policy and politics. They are so much savvier than I am. And can clearly write faster in a baby nap than I can. I started thinking, wow, these people are taking the whole “the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand the rules the world” thing and trying to change the way people think. About women, about our kids, about life. Rockin’. I want to do that.

So when some nice person nominated my blog for this Circle of Moms competition, I 1) didn’t want to be in last place (duh) and 2) thought, well, it’s not like I’m getting paid, at least I might get some positive feedback other than O not throwing the food I made him all over the floor. I also learned about some other awesome blogs. I even voted for two of the super conservative blogs because I thought they were well written. That was the point of the competition, right?

I’m such a dope. Somewhere between Capitol Hill and Mommyland, I got all mushy, moms-are-the-best, we-all-just-want-right-by-our-kids and totally forgot what a bunch of assholes are out there with blogs. Yeah, I know, I’m the real asshole. Here I was writing a blog from my own perspective, and despite being a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat, trying to be occasionally really critical of the Administration when I thought they deserved it. I try to write as well as I can in the 45 minutes I have allotted. And then I was naive enough to think this competition wasn’t just about who could be the craziest person dangling by their pinkie finger from the edge of the political spectrum.

Last night I got on the Circle of Moms site to see that a bunch of the conservative blogs had put out a call to “stop the Commie Mommies.” At first I laughed about it with Tedd. Ha, ha, there go those crazies. And then, I got indignant. This is why people – especially people in power – think blogs are ridiculous hobbies by people with nothing better to do than spout drivel and propaganda to readers who already drank the Kool-aid. Some of these blogs are definitely not trying to make our kids’ lives better. They’re spewing hate on an Internet that already has enough crap on it.

Circle of Moms is a really great resource for parents and it’s clearly not their fault their nice competition got hijacked. If you are a mom in need of info, they have awesome stuff. And I bet I sound like a sore loser. I am honestly nowhere near as cool as the vast majority of political mom blogs and don’t expect to be. But this list – as least what it has become – isn’t what I’m about and I’m kind of sorry for asking everyone to spend so much time voting for me. Yes, at the beginning I had a longing to beat certain sites. But I realized now I’m just playing into the BS.

I’m sure in real life these people are probably decent and hopefully wouldn’t call me a Commie Mommy to my face. (Who am I kidding? – I’ve seen enough of their protests to know better.) And there are extremes on both sides that are equally as intolerant. But I only have a small amount of time in my day to try to do some good after the other 99% of me I pour into O. I’m going to focus on that.

Sigh. Motherhood is isolating enough. The world is hateful enough. And I already spend my day surrounded by poop. Enough already.

Peace, love & happy babies,


Even if I weren't in sympathy with their liberal thinkin', I know which group I'd want to support, just based on the differences in the way they approached both the contest and the other blogs and bloggers competing.

And that's not my only beef with the contest.

I'm not a mother.

I'm not even a parent.

I haven't paid much attention to mommybloggers, except for Quinn Cummings at The QC Report (because I thought she was great as a child actress in the late 70's, but especially because her blog and book (Notes from the Underwire: Adventures from My Awkward and Lovely Life) are among the funniest things I've ever read), and my post about Shellie Ross, a young mother who lost a son in a tragic accident, and was pretty mercilessly attacked on some social media sites for how she responded to her son's death (What'd I Say?: Shellie Ross, Twitter, and The 'Right' Way to Grieve).

But reading through some of the blogs in this contest, I discovered that mommy bloggers who discuss politics bring a new dimension to the topics we politically-minded folks think about and discuss. While I do not want to slight female bloggers who discuss politics and are also mothers by any means, there's something different, refreshing, and special about mothers who discuss politics and society while looking through the lens of their children's present and future.

So, to my way of thinkin', anyway, it's too bad that this mom site chose to highlight political bloggers who are moms (even one's who seldom if ever discuss their children, parenting, or how politics and society affects either) rather than mommy bloggers who discuss politics, which as I said, brings a whole new dimension to the topics they discuss. And I'm not just saying that because, at least the way the contestants shook out this year, most of the conservative bloggers are political bloggers who happen to be moms, and most of the liberal bloggers are mommy bloggers who happen to discuss politics, or that of the top 25, 15 are conservative bloggers, but not mommy bloggers, and 4 are mommy bloggers who are liberal. (The rest of the 25: actual conservative mommy bloggers, and one liberal blogger who happens to be a mom.)

While they can certainly run their contest any way they wish, here's what I would do, next year...

Mommy bloggers only (or two categories: Mommy bloggers who discuss politics, and political bloggers who happen to have kids.)

Vote for one blog, one time. (Perhaps with an option to change your vote, from one blog to another, until the contest is over.)
NO voting once a day, and NO voting for as many blogs in a day as you want, both of which lead to the "poll freeping" that occurred this year. (While it wasn't against the rules to have folks who share one's politics, but likely never read word one of most of the blogs they voted for, vote en mass for every conservative blog on the list, it defeats the purpose. It wasn't the best blogs who won. It was the blogs who could muster up the most political support. It was the mean girls who attacked their fellow contestants. And it turned what could've been a pretty good contest for mothers and politically-minded folks everywhere into a joke.

As one person put it in a blog comment I saw (A post titled: "Lets Take Over Circle of Moms Political Blogger Contest!":

"Progressive bloggers: oh, cool, a fun little contest that will bring some new readers to my blog, thanks for the nomination. Oh, yeah, readers, go ahead and vote for me if you think of it.
Conservative bloggers: BATTLE OF GOOD VERSUS EVIL. TO THE DEATH. Vote for me every single day to control the minds of the public! Dig up grandma and get her vote! THIS MEANS WAR!
What is it about having fun that is so difficult for you people?"

Comment by MWS — April 2, 2012 @ 3:09 pm
Oh, almost forgot...
The reason some of the mean girls edited or deleted their attack posts?

The rules of the contest:
(From the Top25 Faqs - Circle of Moms):

And from the Blog with Integrity site:

It's all "hit, hit, harder, HARDER" until the bullies realize they may get thrown out of the game for their unsportsmanlike (mean girl) conduct...

I added a "Political MommyBlogger" blogroll to the site. I urge you to check a few of 'em out for a fresh perspective on politics, and on parenting...

And for the record, if the contest were run according to the rules I outlined, and I could only cast one vote for one blog, it would be for The Mamafesto. A class act all around, and passionate about her family and the world they (we) all live in... If you're only willing or able to click one of the links in the "mommy blogger" list, I recommend you make it hers...

Added link:
Commie Mommies, Yay! -

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Fucking Disgusting Political Bigotry: "Registered Dem Killed Trayvon"

Registered Dem Killed Trayvon | Washington Free Beacon

Yeah, I knew there were folks that would stoop this low, but find myself really surprised at some of 'em...

� Inconvenient narratives in the Martin case - Legal Insurrection (William never explains why it's "inconvenient" to anyone's narrative for Zimmerman to be a registered Democrat, or why it is the slightest bit significant, either to the crime or to anyone talking about it. He seems to be simultaneously decrying political bigotry while engaging in it.)

Narrative Interrupted: George Zimmerman a Registered Democrat | Jammie Wearing Fools (Same here. That Zimmerman is a Democrat means... well, something, but this asshole doesn't say what, either. Something about the media, I think [these folks seem confused by the fact that the media accurately reported that the Sanford police listed Zimmerman's race as white, initially, and think it's some lib'rul plot.])

Weasel Zippers: Narrative Fail: George Zimmerman A Registered Democrat, Self-Identified Hispanic… (The blog name tells you all you need to know... Nothin' new here, either. THAT he is is magically significant, but only the fellow weasels can hear the dog whistle and understand why...)

The PJ Tatler � George Zimmerman, Registered Democrat (This asshole takes a stab, at least: "the medialeft’s narrative of white racist Republican cracker killed angelic black youth in cold blood" Citations of said "medialeft" narrative sadly, sorely lacking... George was called a white "cracker" by the Sanford police. I know of no one (until now, anyway) who ever discussed his political affiliation, not even as a part of his overall background. Even the racist bit hasn't gotten much play, other than as an overall attitude, perhaps... Zimmerman might've bought into the stereotype that says young black males in hoodies are more threatening than young white males in hoodies, and was more suspicious of him based on that, but it's pretty unlikely that he went out hunting' "coons," no matter what he may've said on that tape. And very few media outlets or Justice for Trayvon supporters are reporting that he did.)

No doubt there will be others jumping on this bandwagon of shame... These political bigots tend to run in packs...

Oh, the Irony: George Zimmerman Is A Democrat | Right Wing News (Another guy who at least tries to pretend this isn't just sweeping generalization in a pathetic attempt to attack folks in the party with which he most disagrees. "[I]f you listen to Democrats, they’re acting as if Zimmerman is a horrible racist who killed Trayvon Martin for being black." Facts pretty much not in evidence, Hawkins. I'm not saying there aren't a few individual Democrats who've said Zimmerman is a horrible racist, etc, but they no more represent Democrats than the bigoted commenters at fox talking about the "knee grows or beaners wearing hoodies" and "n i 6 6 e r babble" represent the Right Wing. There are assholes all across the political spectrum, as Hawkins' post adequately proves.)

American Power: "I wonder if Soledad will mention that George Zimmerman's a registered Democrat? Probably not. That's likely an inconvenient truth for the left's race-hatred narrative." (Yeah, no surprise from this mofo*) ((*No worries... "Mofo" is just a term of endearment this guy uses to talk about all those f%ck&n' black democrats he hates. "It's not Raaaaacist, it's Hilaaaaarious"))

Free clue, assholes: The political affiliation of the victim or the assailant is not relevant to the discussion of a crime unless the killing is political, or has something to do with someone's (the killers, the victim's) political or social beliefs. Saying a person who allegedly commits a crime is a _______. [a certain ethnicity, a certain religion, from a certain political party, ...) says ABSOLUTELY NOTHING (and is disgustingly bigoted besides) unless you can tie that demographic label or what it represents to some aspect of the crime.

Trayvon Martin: My Hypothesis As To What Happened

First, a few observations:

The fact that something is legal to do in no way suggests it's the smart thing to do.

Yes, it's legal to ignore the advice of a police dispatcher with training and experience talking to civilians who find themselves in volatile, adrenaline-charged situations, and follow (& perhaps question/confront) an unknown person you believe may be intoxicated and "up to no good," who for all you know may also be armed, all by yourself, and when you have a pretty good idea that the police are already on their way--but I suspect that there aren't more than a handful of law enforcement professionals who would ever recommend it. (Even trained police officers wait for backup, whenever possible.)
I sincerely wish the dispatcher had struck a different tone on that point, perhaps telling Mr Zimmerman in a positive way what the police department wanted and expected from him. (Not "We don't need you to do that." or even "Don't do that." but "Please meet the responding officers at your current location.")

Zimmerman was not a uniformed guard. He was a resident and a volunteer neighborhood watcher. He wasn't "on patrol," he was on his way out to (or back from) the store when he saw the suspicious-looking late teen in the dark hoodie. He did not have any special police or security powers, legally or otherwise. So, while he was legally within his rights to follow, question, or confront hooded strangers in his neighborhood, those strangers (hooded or otherwise) were under no obligation to take kindly to his doing so. And BECAUSE Zimmerman had nothing to denote or identify him as a neighborhood watch volunteer, said hooded strangers who notice a guy following them could easily view HIM as an individual "behaving strangely, and up to no good," as well.

I suspect that neither of them was "up to no good." The whole thing was a matter of two more or less decent people grossly misreading each other, and at least one of them (if not both) making foolish choices based on what they believed about the other. The following is what I think happened. Obviously I'm doing a whole lot of speculating, but I'm pretty sure everything here is consistent with the reported facts and witness statements. (and where the witness statements themselves are inconsistent with each other, I picked, again based on my own speculations.) I am not presenting anything here that goes beyond what's been reported up to now as FACT. As more information comes out, what I believe happened may change. Or I may become more confident in what I believe. As of right now, though, this is what I think occurred...

Zimmerman thought Trayvon was behaving strangely and might be in the neighborhood to commit some crime. He wasn't a bigot out to get a black guy (though I do question how much the fact that the hooded stranger was a black guy played into his profile); he was just a guy who saw something he thought was unusual and reported it. I don't think he followed Trayvon maliciously, either. He just wanted to be able to tell the responding officers exactly where the guy was, and (or) prevent whatever crime the guy intend to commit by being there as a witness. (Most likely, it's the former more'n the latter. I don't think Zimmerman intended for the stranger to know he was being followed, or that he had ANY intention to talk to him, let alone get into anything physical with him.)

Trayvon meanwhile was just a kid coming back from buying a drink at the local 7/11, talking to his girlfriend on the phone, and trying to get out of the rain. At one point (perhaps because the rain got heavier, or maybe because he just wanted a minute's break from it), Trayvon ducked under an awning at the clubhouse. (That's likely a piece of the "strange behavior" Zimmerman witnessed.) At some point though, he notices some heavyset stranger in an SUV watching him, and when he continues down the road, following him in his vehicle. Trayvon walks a little faster. The stranger in the SUV speeds up to keep pace. Trayvon moves off the road onto a walkway. The stranger parks and follows on foot, obviously targeting Trayvon, and likely (in Trayvon's mind, anyway) intending to rob or accost him. Trayvon runs (though apparently not very far). He thinks he lost the guy.

The stranger... (continues following?) (turns to go back to his car?) Either way, Trayvon realizes he hasn't lost the stranger following him, after all. They're close enough to talk--(and at some point between now and the first bit of physicality, become close enough to lay hands on one another.)

One stranger (likely Trayvon) calls out to the other, questioning his motives. The other stranger responds, questioning the first one's motives. Both are posturing, sure they are in the right, and that the other is the creep...

Then one of 'em (and I have no clue which, or why) does lay hands on the other. Maybe it was Trayvon, instinctually realizing that flight didn't succeed, and it was time to stand his ground and fight, rather than lead this creep back to his younger step-brother. Maybe it was Zimmerman, not wanting another to get away, like they always do. Maybe one made some furtive movement the other took as a threat, and pounced in defense. (Obviously, THIS is the whole ball of wax, legally.)

As many point out, every move that each one of them made prior to the initial physical contact was legal--though as many also note, not altogether smart.

If Zimmerman did anything to physically detain Trayvon, or did something to defend himself against whatever he thought Trayvon was about to do, he becomes the aggressor, and Trayvon is justified in trying to incapacitate and escape the guy he thinks is trying to kidnap him.

If Trayvon hit Zimmerman first--even if he thought he was defending himself against whatever he thought was about to happen--he becomes the aggressor, and Zimmerman can rightly claim self-defense.

(I have to say, I suspect that of the two scenarios, Trayvon hitting Zimmerman first, in an effort to avoid imminently getting robbed, kidnapped, or raped seems more plausible to me... ...and that makes me very sad to imagine this kid scared, fighting for his life--and ultimately losing it--over the bad judgement of Zimmerman, and there will be no justice for his family, besides...)

Whoever laid hands on who first, Trayvon got the upper hand. At this point (at least according to my scenario) both men believe they are defending themselves, and fighting for their lives. Once we're here, and regardless of how we got here, I take no issue with how aggressively either man fought. The goal was to stop the other guy from fighting, and live through it yourself. In the end, that is what happened... ...for one of them, anyway...

While Zimmerman may (or may not; I'm not a lawyer) be in the clear legally according to the laws of FL, there is no doubt in my mind that he is far more culpable morally than Trayvon Martin. As I've said before, this whole thing took about five minutes. Trayvon spent most of that time avoiding the "dangerous stranger" he encountered, while Zimmerman spent most of that same time moving closer to the "dangerous stranger" he saw.

A whole lot of what Zimmerman did, while all legal, served to amp up and inflame the situation.
(Please don't tell me that everything George Zimmerman did was legal. I know. It was all legal. But at least some of it was profoundly stupid, too.)
He went against the advice of an experienced law enforcement representative.
He went against the guidelines of pretty much every neighborhood watch program.
He went against the common sense of many gun owners. (You don't go out looking for trouble or willingly walk toward it, gun in hand (actually or proverbially), unless you are defending a life.)

Up to the point where Trayvon Martin took that first swing--IF he actually was the one who took that first swing--he did nothing illegal.
He did nothing to amp up the situation.
He tried to avoid the trouble he thought was coming for him.
And he didn't do anything I could identify as stupid, either.

Again, this is just speculation, based on the reports currently available. If you don't agree with me, fine... But simply saying it's just speculation is nothing more than stating the obvious. Instead, tell me why you think I'm mistaken, and correct my mistake(s) with your own fact-based speculation.

I believe the smartest course for Zimmerman was to wait to meet the responding officers. But if he really could not bring himself to do that, I think (with all the brilliance of that 20/20 hindsight, obviously) that everyone would've been better off if Zimmerman had been more assertive (and/or a little more devious). Instead of skulking behind Trayvon in his car and then on foot, he should've gone straight up to him and either:
1) identified himself as a guy from the neighborhood watch, said that he recognized most of the people who lived in the complex and explained that he thought Trayvon looked lost, and offered to direct him to where he was going... or
2) taken off his watch and gone up to Trayvon and asked him for the time (or perhaps said that HE was lost, and asked Trayvon for directions, or something similar).
I mean, I understand that Zimmerman probably had no idea how much he was freakin' the kid out, but he was almost certainly freakin' the kid out, the way he chose to handle his surveillance...

Anyway, that's my educated guess as to what may've happened, and I'm stickin' with it until some fact blows a hole straight through it (at which point I'll rewrite it, based on the new fact(s) available.)

UPDATE: Hey, lookie here!! Someone else (Julian Sanchez) wrote this post before I did, and came to very similar conclusions: Tragic Scenarios

Monday, March 26, 2012

Trayvon Martin: Timeline (according to media reports) and Questions

I've been reading a whole lot about this story over the past few days (and commenting a bit, where moved) but I'm still left with questions. Foremost, I think an accurate clock-based timeline, particularly in regard to the phone calls everyone made or were a party to during the events, would go a long way toward figuring out a good bit of what happened.

Here's what I've been able to find, so far (If anyone has seen other reports that include timestamps for the events that night--either ones that confirm these, or ones that contradict them--please let me know so I can add them to this post.):

During the All-Star Game, February 26th - Trayvon Martin leaves his father's girlfriend's house during the All-Star Game on February 26th, to go to 7/11. - (Trayvon Martin shooting timeline leaves many unanswered questions)

After he left the store - "[Trayvon Martin] was on the phone with his girlfriend back home in Miami after he left the store. Martin told the girl he'd taken shelter from the rain briefly at an apartment building in the gated community before continuing his walk to where he was staying with his father nearby." - (Trayvon Martin's final phone call: 'He said this man was watching him')

The last call was at 7:12 p.m. (I'm guessing that's a start time, and "just after he left the store," as above.) - "Martin, who was in town from Miami to visit his father in Sanford, called his 16-year-old girlfriend in Miami several times on Feb. 26, including just before the shooting, Crump said. ...

The teenager told the girl on his way back from the store he'd taken shelter the rain briefly at an apartment building in his father's gated community, Crump said. Martin then told the girl he was being followed and would try to lose the person, Crump said.

"She says: 'Run.' He says, 'I'm not going to run, I'm just going to walk fast,'" Crump said, quoting the girl.

After Martin encountered Zimmerman, the girl thought she heard a scuffle "because his voice changes like something interrupted his speech," Crump said. The phone call ended before the girl heard gunshots.

The last call was at 7:12 p.m. Police arrived at 7:17 p.m. to find Martin lying face down on the ground."
- (Fla. Teen on Phone with Girlfriend Before Shooting)

7:11 PM - (was "Shortly before 7:15 PM"?, pre update.) (I'm guessing closer to 7:10 pm - See below) ***UPDATE*** (with thanks to "Hoofbite" in comments) The Sanford police reports that Zimmerman's call was received at 7:09 PM, he was connected to a dispatcher at 7:11 PM, and that he spoke to the dispacher until 7:13 PM, at least /UPDATE - ""Shortly before 7:15 PM, George Zimmerman spots Trayvon standing outside the development's clubhouse near the community mailboxes, where the teen had ducked under an awning to get out of the rain. Zimmerman calls police on a non-emergency number from his SUV, saying he sees a suspicious person.
When Trayvon leaves the clubhouse, Zimmerman pursues him in his car."
- (Trayvon Martin shooting timeline leaves many unanswered questions)

??? (but during Zimmerman's 4 minute phone call with police dispatcher (at this YouTube video, 1:26-5:31) - "Trayvon goes off the road to walk between two rows of town homes, down the lane from his destination, Zimmerman gets out of his car and pursues him on foot. He tells the dispatcher "oh shit, he's running." the dispatcher asks if he is pursuing the subject. When Zimmerman says he is, the dispatcher says, 'we don't need you to do that.'" - (Trayvon Martin shooting timeline leaves many unanswered questions)

??? - "It was then that Martin told the girl he was being followed, according to Crump. She said Martin told her someone was following him and that he was going to try to lose him. He thought he had lost Zimmerman but hadn't.
"He says, 'Oh he's right behind me, he's right behind me again,'" Crump says the girl told him. "She says: 'Run.' He says, 'I'm not going to run I'm just going to walk fast.' She hears Trayvon say, 'Why are you following me?' Other voice says, 'What are you doing around here?'"
She told Crump they both repeated themselves and then she thinks she heard Zimmerman push Martin "because his voice changes like something interrupted his speech." She heard an altercation and then the phone call was cut off.
Within moments, according to Crump's timeline, Martin was shot. She didn't hear the gunfire."
- (Trayvon Martin's final phone call: 'He said this man was watching him')

"They don't get far. Just around the back lane, Trayvon is confronted by the stranger in a red jacket and jeans - he's not dressed like a police officer.
Trayvon's girlfriend is still on the phone. She says she hears someone confront Trayvon, and ask him what he was doing there. The phone drops.

At that time, the first 911 call is placed to police by an alarmed neighbor, who reports hearing a fight going on in their backyard. It was followed in rapid succession by five more calls to the emergency number. One caller says she hears someone screaming for help, and then gunshots.

7:17 p.m. - At 7:17 p.m., the first officer, Officer Smith, arrives at the gated complex, responding to Zimmerman's 911 call. In his report, he says that as he arrives, dispatchers notified him of the 911 calls reporting shots fired in the area."
- (Trayvon Martin shooting timeline leaves many unanswered questions)

As far as I can find, the time codes for the 911 calls have not been released. (This info is crucial, especially since one of them can pinpoint the exact moment the gun went off.)
Similarly, the info saying exactly what time the call between Trayvon Martin and his girlfriend terminated--pinpointing exactly when the physical altercation began--(available on his missing(?) cellphone, his girlfriend's phone, and his cell carrier) also has not been released.

Even so, this timeline indicates only three or four minutes elapsed between Zimmerman's call to the dispatcher "shortly before 7:15 PM" and the first officer's arrival "at 7:17 p.m.," AFTER the following on foot, the verbal and physical confrontation between Martin and Zimmerman, and the fatal shot.
(Something HAS to be wrong with this info, however, since Zimmerman's call with the police dispatcher lasted four minutes, five seconds all by itself, according to this YouTube video. It's likely that George Zimmerman's call to the police was initiated several minutes earlier, perhaps closer to 7:10 pm, if not earlier, and ENDED shortly before 7:15 pm.

The call between Trayvon Martin and the girl in Miami--and especially her "ear-witness" testimony, saying that it sounded like Trayvon was pushed or hit--calls into question Zimmerman's allegation that he had his back to Trayvon Martin and was walking back to his truck when Trayvon "attacked" him from behind. (Admittedly, both Zimmerman's and Trayvon's girlfriend's statements may well be biased, given who they are.) And, not to get too conspiratorial, but it's kinda odd that Trayvon's cell phone and earpiece were not recovered at the crime scene, and are not in police or Martin family custody.

I also wonder about the physical evidence.
What do they know about where Trayvon and Zimmerman were when the latter fired the fatal shot?
Was Zimmerman laying on his back with Trayvon over him, perhaps punching him, or were both men standing, facing each other?
Based on where on his body he was shot and how he fell (face down), along with any blood, gun residue or other evidence on Zimmerman, what does that suggest?

What produced the cut on the back of Zimmerman's head, and are there scrapes or bruises on Trayvon's hands or feet (or anywhere else) that correspond with Zimmerman's injuries, indicating where either/each man was when the injuries took place?

***ANSWER***, at least according to the Sanford police, citing George Zimmerman's version of events. (Police were unable to obtain a statement from the only other witness to these initial events, Trayvon Martin. I suspect that his side of the story would likely differ from Mr. Zimmerman's, however, were he available to tell it.):
"Zimmerman told them he lost sight of Trayvon and was walking back to his SUV when Trayvon approached him from the left rear, and they exchanged words.

Trayvon asked Zimmerman if he had a problem. Zimmerman said no and reached for his cell phone, he told police. Trayvon then said, "Well, you do now" or something similar and punched Zimmerman in the nose, according to the account he gave police.

Zimmerman fell to the ground and Trayvon got on top of him and began slamming his head into the sidewalk, he told police."
- (Trayvon Martin: George Zimmerman's account to police of the Trayvon Martin shooting. - Orlando Sentinel)

Where were the iced tea can and the package of Skittles found?
Did Trayvon hit Zimmerman with either item?
Were they dropped several feet away, indicating that a) the struggle started here, or b) this is where Trayvon dropped them before running up on Zimmerman?

Did Zimmerman have any other tools with him (for instance, the flashlight that several of the 911 callers reported seeing after the shot, unclear whether it belonged to one of the "fighters" or a responding officer)?

I'll add answers, more questions, and otherwise update and correct this post as more info becomes available (or the mood strikes me.)

Timeline articles:

Fla. Teen on Phone with Girlfriend Before Shooting

Trayvon Martin's final phone call: 'He said this man was watching him'

Trayvon Martin shooting timeline leaves many unanswered questions (Be sure to read page two, which discusses what the police did--and didn't--find on the scene that night.)

Trayvon Martin, The 911 Calls - High Quality 911 Audio - Including George Zimmerman - YouTube (Zimmerman's call: 1:26-5:31)