The Kimberlin Crew Pokes The Bull And Gets The Horns

Law, Politics & Current Events

It's time for a Brett Kimberlin lawfare update. I've added a Brett Kimberlin tag for easy browsing of past related posts. Some of the most significant ones here at Popehat are these: my Blog About Brett Kimberlin Day post about what I found in federal court decisions about Kimberlin, my post about Aaron Walker's arrest and the "peace order" against him forbidding him from blogging about Kimberlin, and my post about what was revealed in the transcript of that hearing.

Today's edition: the biting off of more than is chewable.

In addition to things that Kimberlin himself is doing — like his "peace orders" and false criminal complaint against Aaron Walker — certain people are doing aggressive and censorious things on his behalf. It's not clear whether all those things are being done with his knowledge, but their timing and nature permit that inference. I'll refer to this group as "Team Kimberlin." A victim of one such campaign has now been connected with appropriate legal help — thanks for responses to the Popehat Signal. Another newer victim is Ali A. Akbar of the National Blogger's Club.

The National Blogger's Club created a donation web site for Aaron Walker after Walker and his wife were fired as a result of Team Kimberlin machinations. (More specifically, Team Kimberlin wrote to the employer of Aaron and his wife, and to local police, and suggested they created a danger to others because of Aaron's "Everybody Draw Mohammed" web site. Nixonian ratfucking, in other words.) This effort to help Aaron drew the ire of Team Kimberlin against the National Blogger's Club and its principal, Ali A. Akbar. First Kimberlin supporters wrote stories about Akbar's criminal record, to which he responded in what seems to me to be a forthright manner. Next critics learned that the National Blogger's Club had filed documents listing its address at Akbar's mother's house; Team Kimberlin posted the address and a picture of the house, where Akbar's mother still lives. Akbar and his family, not unreasonably, interpreted this as a threat, coming as it did from forces apparently allied with a convicted bomber.

Moreover, as I mentioned before, a lawyer named Kevin Zeese sent Akbar, the National Blogger's Club, and some alleged backers a letter on behalf of Kimberlin's organization Velvet Revolution threatening a lawsuit and demanding that they preserve documents for use in that lawsuit.

There are three things you should know about that letter. First, it is indifferently written; it could be worse, it could be much better. Second, it continues the Team Kimberlin narrative that writing about him makes the writer liable for alleged death threats by third parties — threats that we have the word of a convicted perjurer have occurred. Third, it may be hot air. Lawyers send "you'd better preserve documents" letters all the time. It doesn't commit you to a lawsuit. It has no immediate legal effect. It's only significant if the writer does sue, and evidence later shows that the recipient destroyed documents after receiving it, which may be probative of the recipient's intent to hide something or obstruct justice. Such letters are often used, usually more effectively than this, to intimidate.

If this letter was calculated to intimidate — if it was designed, like many of Team Kimberlin's actions seem to be, to deter critics from writing — it had the exact opposite effect. Today I learned from my esteemed classmate David French (who was cited, in our law school class, as proof of the existence of the hypothetical Reasonable Man), that The American Center for Law and Justice has agreed to defend Akbar and the National Blogger's Club in any litigation. I don't agree with all of the ACLJ's agenda (though I like most of their free speech and free exercise efforts), but they are consummately experienced and absolutely formidable in court, and their entry into the fray is a crushing blow against the Team Kimberlin campaign of censorship through lawfare and other means. Litigation is never certain, no matter where the right of a case resides, but I suspect they will make short work of the likes of Zeese.

I expect the ACLJ will be too smart to fall for some of the traps that Team Kimberlin is setting here. But others need to be careful. Team Kimberlin wants you and our courts to believe that writing about Kimberlin, vigorously criticizing him, and publicizing his activities amounts to unlawful harassment and actionable threats. That's not true. So: to push their narrative that there's something wrong about discussing Kimberlin's record as a convicted domestic terrorist, perjurer, drug dealer, and impersonator, they've publicized Ali Akbar's criminal record. There's no doubt that their aim in doing so is to retaliate against and chill Akbar's speech and the speech of others. But they are hoping that you will be tricked into asserting broadly that there's something inherently criminal, actionable, or harassing about publicizing someone's criminal record. If you take that bait, it suits their narrative of Kimberlin-as-victim.

The same goes for the publication of Akbar's mother's home address and a picture of her house. Some have argued that publication was civilly actionable or criminal. Though I have not the shadow of a doubt that it was published to terrorize Akbar and his family and put them in reasonable fear of their lives (whether from Kimberlin, a convicted bomber, or from the sort of people who are eager to support convicted bombers in their censorship campaigns), and while I think it was contemptible, I have some doubts that it necessarily amounts to a civil or criminal violation. I condemn it — as I would condemn anyone publicizing the home address of Kimberlin or his sycophants, however evil they are. But what I suspect Team Kimberlin wants you to do is condemn publication of personal details in overly broad terms as criminally and civilly actionable harassment, so they can then turn around and use that to promote the Kimberlin-as-victim narrative that folks have been wronging Kimberlin by documenting his activities.

[I think, by the way, that it would have been fair comment simply to note that the National Blogger's Club is somehow registered at the home of Akbar's mother. It might be a cheap shot, but it would be a fairly typical way of diminishing an organization. Going the extra steps of publicizing the address and posting a picture is what, in this context, makes it seem intended to put Akbar and his mother in fear, and to have that reasonable effect.]

I don't know whether or not Kimberlin is coordinating Team Kimberlin activities, or whether those activities are coordinated at all, as opposed to a bunch of nuts milling about. But if the aim of the nuts, collectively or individually, is to stop public comment on Kimberlin and his activities, then the nuts have failed in a catastrophic, apocalyptic, unhappy-cat-meme-worthy fashion. A senator has started to talk about it, which will lead to more mainstream press attention. Bloggers and lawyers are streaming to the cause. The ACLJ's arrival could be cited in Urban Dictionary under "deus ex machina." In short, the more Team Kimberlin attacks and escalates, the worse it gets for them, the louder their critics get, the more voices are raised, and the more public attention is drawn to the cause. Team Kimberlin's strategy seems to be "I'm going to keep digging until this damn hole gets shallower."

Finally, I know that I'm beating a dead horse, but I wish that critics of Team Kimberlin, and supporters of the censored, would focus on the free speech elements of this case and try a bit more to resist the partisan urge. Part of Team Kimberlin's strategy is to marginalize critics as "wingnuts" and "far-right extremists" who are simply attacking liberals. People who are framing this as "evil leftists oppress conservatives" and "see how the liberals act" and "this is all connected to [liberal group]" are promoting Kimberlin's narrative and making it easier for the mainstream media and for moderates and liberals to ignore it. So, please think about framing and tone and heed the better angels of your nature — said the pot to the kettle.

Last 5 posts by Ken White

67 Comments

56 Comments

  1. SPQR  •  Jun 7, 2012 @5:34 pm

    The Brett Kimberlin gang seems to show no intention to quit doubling down.

  2. Bret  •  Jun 7, 2012 @5:57 pm

    Is there a point at which, something can be inferred from the Left's general uninterest in exposing this case? I share your wish that this was viewed purely as a free speech issue, but its not playing out that way, and I havent seen any movement on the issue over the past week as the case gets more publicity. Portions of the right are framing the issue in partisan terms, but it appears the vast majority of lefty bloggers are content to just ignore the issue entirely.

  3. Christopher Swing  •  Jun 7, 2012 @6:09 pm

    @Bret

    Please tell me we're not going to start a pointless game of "but [the other side] isn't [saying something/saying it by my arbitrary deadline]."

    Because that's a pointless, self-defeating game that only helps Team Kimberlin as well.

  4. different Jess  •  Jun 7, 2012 @6:12 pm

    I have yet to see any evidence for the supposition that Kimberlin et al. seek to evade the notice or consideration of "The Bull", others in the legal profession, or indeed any resident of the planet Earth. It seems more likely that publicity is exactly what they seek. Every time another esteemed litigator signs on to defend their rivals, that's another line of jacket copy. When something untoward does happen to one of these jackasses, as their escalating behavior seems gauged to provoke, whether in court or in the street, they expect someone will buy the book.

    Some of them, at least, are likely to make some money from this scheme. That is, unless they're all foolish enough to join Kimberlin in one of his amateur bomb assembly sessions.

  5. MTC  •  Jun 7, 2012 @6:30 pm

    @Christopher_Swing,

    I'm unclear on whether Kimberlin's abuses of the legal system are novel, or simply better-publicized than similar actions in the past.

    I can hardly fault the lefty bloggers for keeping their hands clean, when they really, truly have no dog in this fight. If Kimberlin's found some crafty new way to abuse the system, then yes, it's right to point that out and spread the word. I'd take a moment here to commend Ken for being pretty much the only commentator I've seen who has consistently viewed and presented the matter in a First Amendment, rather than partisan, framework.

    But I'd contend that the righty bloggers poisoned the discourse w/r/t l'affaire Kimberlin by insisting on framing the whole mess as misdeeds by himself ("darling of the Left") and "his liberal supporters" when, let's nobody kid themselves, basically everyone with two neurons to rub together understands that the guy's just some dumb asshole that nobody would have cared about if he wasn't suing people.

  6. Matthew Cline  •  Jun 7, 2012 @6:31 pm

    Second, it continues the Team Kimberlin narrative that writing about him makes the writer liable for alleged death threats by third parties

    If this legal argument were both taken seriously and taken to its logical conclusion, wouldn't you end up with a British "super-injunction" type situation where no one is allowed to talk about Kimberlin's past?

  7. jb  •  Jun 7, 2012 @6:36 pm

    Bret,
    Short answer: Nobody understands or cares.

    Few on the right, and almost no one on the left, have any real knowledge of or interest in lawfare and other arcane legal antics, which is what this case amounts to. For all that Kimberlin is a convicted bomber, he did his misdeeds long enough ago, and in the service of a now-obscure-enough cause, that no one on the left has heard of or cares about him anymore.

    The left isn't talking about this because Kimberlin isn't one of them, the people he is targeting aren't either, and even a basic summary of the case is complicated and boring except to free-speech advocates and lawyers.

    Read Nate Silver's excellent for an explanation.

  8. Dustin  •  Jun 7, 2012 @7:12 pm

    This is about a censorious thug who happens to smear people on the right most of the time, and at least superficially promotes some liberal ideas. There's nothing about his actual misdeeds that I've ever found from mainstream liberals (or conservatives).

    It's not about which team Kimberlin plays for, or pretends to play for. His behavior simply isn't political. His attempt to gain connections and shield himself is political, but only because that's what's most effective.

    Every liberal and every democrat I've explained this situation to thinks Kimberlin's behavior is terrible.

  9. Dustin  •  Jun 7, 2012 @7:18 pm

    http://twitchy.com/2012/06/07/james-wolcott-forgets-to-put-on-his-big-boy-pants-mocks-brett-kimberlin-targets/

    Unfortunately, some liberals do try to settle their political scores in this matter, either by laughing at swatting victims or laughing at the protests regarding how Aaron was silenced. But in all honesty, I realize Vanity Fair's Wolcott doesn't endorse Kimberlin's lawfare or the judge's behavior. He just thinks it's cute to crack a joke about the general issue.

    It is very disappointing how Wolcott assumes it's just about conservatives, and it's their day of silence. I've like to see lefties go silent for the day too. Show us they take this situation seriously. I don't want this crap to happen to them any more than I wanted it to happen to Aaron.

  10. Pablo  •  Jun 7, 2012 @7:22 pm

    It should be noted that a key starting point in this was Kimberlin's attacks on Seth Allen, a liberal blogger. Aaron Walker found that he'd grabbed the Kimberlin tar baby when he offered assistance to Allen.

    You're absolutely right, Ken. This is not a left/right thing, despite many of the players landing on opposite sides of that divide. This is a Brett Kimberlin thing about how anyone who causes him distress is going to pay for it, through lawfare. The First Amendment frame is an important one, and should be stressed. Another is the ease with which the system can be abused by the likes of a pathological liar and vexatious litigant like Kimberlin.

  11. Zip  •  Jun 7, 2012 @7:23 pm

    MTC:

    The contention in your last paragraph is ludicrous. This whole affair started when a number of righty bloggers took note of the fact that Kimberlin's foundation was receiving lots of money from some pretty notable left-wing funders, including Barbra Streisand and The Tides Foundation.

    So no, Kimberlin is not just some pajama-wearing nobody. He is someone whose activities were judged worthy of significant funding by some heavy hitters the left, who really should know better. Breitbart and the others intended to expose the funders, with Kimberlin merely being the headline bait.

    That was the original story that so enraged Kimberlin and set off the series of events that have brought us to this point.

  12. A Nonny Moose  •  Jun 7, 2012 @7:41 pm

    Go figure, the website http://www.brettkimberlinisacensorialcunt.com is now redirecting to this page.

  13. C. S. P. Schofield  •  Jun 7, 2012 @7:53 pm

    My take on any 'silence' from the 'Left' – if indeed such exists – is that there are a lot of people still working who once fell for Kimberlin's fancy patter and who are understandably (if hardly admirably) hoping the whole thing will go away before the world is again reminded that they were once taken in by a none-too-plausable rascal.

  14. Bryce  •  Jun 7, 2012 @9:07 pm

    WARNING: DIGRESSION!

    I really hate the internet sometimes. I decided to look up Ken's reference to "Nixionian Ratfucking." This was the label on the wiki page about it…

    "This page is about electoral fraud. For fucking rats, see bestiality."

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Ratfucking

  15. Pablo  •  Jun 7, 2012 @10:02 pm

    Stacy McCain fleshes out the Kimberlin/Allen angle a bit more here.

  16. darius404  •  Jun 7, 2012 @10:27 pm

    I can hardly fault the lefty bloggers for keeping their hands clean, when they really, truly have no dog in this fight.

    Wrong. EVERYONE has a "dog" in the fight for free speech.

  17. Repsac3  •  Jun 7, 2012 @10:31 pm

    I'm pleased as punch that this is getting a little mainstream media (and one hopes, law enforcement) investigation and coverage, and I sincerely hope that it leads to more truth, and to public shame and legal jeopardy for those in the wrong, but the disgusting partisanship over the whole thing by so many–including some of the primary players–has put me off my lunch. The partisans have made it far too difficult to show support for much of anyone involved… …except for Ken, who has curbed whatever instinct he may have for partisan rancor in the name of what's right.

    I hope it gets resolved, and that everyone gets exactly what they deserve,whatever that may be… (A blessing or a curse–and in most cases, both.)

  18. Dustin  •  Jun 8, 2012 @7:03 am

    Darius is right.

  19. Donald Douglas  •  Jun 8, 2012 @8:41 am

    I'll believe it's not partisan when the big left wing blogs step up to the plate. We've had at most a couple of progressives call out their brethren, but that's it. This is a progressive attack on conservatives. Call it for what it is.

  20. Jess  •  Jun 8, 2012 @9:45 am

    Douglas – it's what people choose to make of it. The wise will filter out the political distractions and focus on not allowing the situation to set precedents to chill free speech.

  21. Tam  •  Jun 8, 2012 @10:08 am

    "EVERYONE has a "dog" in the fight for free speech."

    Word.

  22. Jess  •  Jun 8, 2012 @11:17 am

    And here is yet another individual who has let their political leanings wreak havoc with their perception of the truth – Legal Schnauzer blog has a post (much of it inaccurate) that is copied 100% on the "not Kimberlin" site. Schnauzer blog post here http://legalschnauzer.blogspot.com/2012/06/liberal-activist-brett-kimberlin.html

    But what can I expect – this dolt also supported Crystal Cox as a poor put upon blogger.

  23. Ken  •  Jun 8, 2012 @11:25 am

    i've noted Legal Schnauzer, Jess. A post about the delta between Legal Schnauzer's outrage about his own story of censorship on the one hand, and his sympathy to Brett Kimberlin on the other, is forthcoming.

  24. Piper  •  Jun 8, 2012 @1:35 pm

    @jb – I read some of the Indianapolis Star articles, etc. and could find no mention of the Speedway Bomber cause there or elsewhere. What was it?

  25. Scott Jacobs  •  Jun 8, 2012 @1:44 pm

    Seriously, Piper?

    The Speedway Bomber was the name the coined for Kimberlin, who set a series of bombs in Speedway, Indiana.

    When we talk about Kimberlin as a convicted domestic terrorist, we ain't just being cute…

  26. Jim S.  •  Jun 8, 2012 @2:39 pm

    This has been mentioned already, but everyone has skin in this game. If a crime were committed against you and the law officials refused to prosecute it, you have every right to write about the crime on the Internet. To put someone in jail for doing that is just despicable and frankly evil. It punishes the victim for daring to try to stop being a victim.

  27. AlphaCentauri  •  Jun 8, 2012 @4:12 pm

    Everyone has a dog in the fight, definitely. But the reason none of the liberals I know of are talking about Kimberlin is that none of them have ever heard of him. I don't know anyone who would support him if they knew about him.

    I'm perfectly willing to believe that some liberal organizations donated to his nonprofit. If someone contacted conservative organizations for donations to have conservative musicians give free concerts to promote voter registration, would you be surprised if they gave funding? Nothing is wrong with supporting music or voting.

    Nobody is going to write a grant and say, "Please give money to an organization founded by a former violent felon who sues people for a hobby." He asked for money to promote voter registration. He's very good at ingratiating himself with famous people and dropping their names to ingratiate himself with even more famous people. I'm sure they all just looked at the people he's been associated with lately and didn't dig into his past.

    It's encouraging that this is getting more publicity. The question is whether news organizations conducting interviews will get comments from Kimberlin victims that argue in favor of free speech, or whether they will get comments similar to some of the posts here, making it a liberal vs. conservative issue. If it's the latter, people are not going to continue listening in order to be insulted for holding political positions that they don't even support. Insulting liberals and claiming they are supporting Kimberlin is the best way discourage their support.

  28. Milhouse  •  Jun 8, 2012 @4:26 pm

    @jb – I read some of the Indianapolis Star articles, etc. and could find no mention of the Speedway Bomber cause there or elsewhere. What was it?

    The police theory is that he was trying to divert attention from a murder investigation in which he was the prime suspect. Julia Scyphers didn't approve of Kimberlin's relationship with her 10-year-old granddaughter, and was raising hell about it until she was shot. The police suspected that Kimberlin had arranged the hit, and were investigating when the bombing campaign started.

    Distraction and diversion are a Kimberlin trademark; while he was in custody over the bombings he tried to arrange for someone on the outside to plant a similar bomb, in order to "prove" that he hadn't done them. And some people have suggested that the SWATting of Mike Stack was just such a diversion.

  29. Kinsey  •  Jun 8, 2012 @5:10 pm

    Piper:

    The Speedway Bombings Part 1

    That's the only free and in-depth story I found because it's not in the archives. If you search the Star's archives (www.indystar.com) you'll find many, many articles but it costs to retrieve them.

  30. Grifter  •  Jun 9, 2012 @9:39 am

    Do we know what ever happened with that murder case that he was so keen on distracting from?

  31. Grifter  •  Jun 9, 2012 @9:47 am

    Oh, also, this is interesting: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/06/09/1098724/-Profiles-in-Activism-Brett-Kimberlin#comments , interesting not just for the post, but also for the comments, which do not support Kimberlin.

  32. Dan Weber  •  Jun 9, 2012 @11:09 am

    I'm not sure if I should find that Kos post funny or not. From a completely over-the-top perspective I can gawk at "From [prison, he] coordinated with other Activists to continue the bombings to prove his innocence."

    If it was meant to draw the attention of liberals to the problem of Kimberlin, bravo.

    If it was meant (as some commenters suspect) as a false-flag attack and/or smear liberals with the stain of Kimberlin, it probably does more harm than good.

    I think it's the latter.

  33. Patrick  •  Jun 9, 2012 @11:12 am

    Grifter, we do not know that Kimberlin was keen on distracting the police from the murder of the grandmother of the pre-teen granddaughter with whom many have suggested Kimberlin was involved. All that we know is that Kimberlin set off many bombs in Speedway, and that distracting the police from her murder might have been a motive according to sources cited on the web, if Kimberlin in fact murdered the woman.

    These distinctions are important.

  34. Bakerina  •  Jun 9, 2012 @12:25 pm

    Jesus. Kimberlin and his minions really are a bunch of junior-league Segrettis, aren't they? Ratfucking, indeed.

    (As for that hamfisted and transparent LOLLIBRULS post on Daily Kos, I'm with the commenters who called it out as a false flag/smear attempt. I think it was the "corporate fascist police" line that convinced me. Seriously, would-be satirists and/or ratfuckers, treat your little witticisms like French women treat their accessories. Put on what you want, and then remove one.)

  35. Grifter  •  Jun 9, 2012 @12:29 pm

    Fair enough, Patrick. Sorry I spoke sloppily; the irony here for me is that I'm usually Captain Pedantry amongst my friends about things like this, so I'm particularly abashed. Let me try again: I was just wondering if anyone knew what ever happened to the murder case which Kimberlin seemed to be keen on distracting from according to the only motive theory I've heard.

    Though I will say, he has never as far as I've found given any motive for the bombings, which seems to lend credence to the hypothesis, but that's beside the point.

    Dan: It was funny, my fiancee was asking "what DailyKos said" about the Kimberlin thing this morning, so I did a quick google, and that thing had been posted 20 mins previous. Synchronicity in action. I wasn't as interested in the post itself (you and those commenters are probably right), as I was in the response…while the liberal side isn't as vocal as the conservative side has been on this whole thing, it seems that Kimberlin's obviously an idiot to them, too. So at least there's that.

  36. Piper  •  Jun 9, 2012 @12:58 pm

    Yeah, I'd seen the star article and others, but never saw any Cause with a capital 'C' associated with them. Dunno if Kimberlin ever said anything tho – I'm too much of a cheapskate :).

  37. Scott Jacobs  •  Jun 9, 2012 @3:19 pm

    For those wondering, The murder of Julia Scyphers was never solved.

    The suspicion – shared by many, but is only opinion – is that is was a friend of Brett's that killed her. This friend died several years later.

    We know it wasn't Brett that killed her, however, since Julia's husband saw the shooter, and said he didn't know the person. He would have known who Brett was.

  38. Milhouse  •  Jun 9, 2012 @10:14 pm

    Do we know what ever happened with that murder case that he was so keen on distracting from?

    It was never solved, because the only witness died, and Kimberlin was already going away for 50 years anyway, so it wasn't a priority to prove he killed Scyphers.

  39. Milhouse  •  Jun 9, 2012 @10:18 pm

    To those claiming that those on the left don't have any special responsibility to disown these criminals, what about his accomplice Neal Rauhauser, whose firm, Progressive PST, has been hired by many Democratic candidates? Surely that puts him firmly within the Democratic Party, and therefore those associated with it are tainted by his association unless they distance themselves from him.

  40. repsac3  •  Jun 10, 2012 @2:58 am

    "…that puts him firmly within the Democratic Party, and therefore those associated with it are tainted by his association…"

    So because he's a Democrat, and …I don't know… Joe Lieberman is a Democrat, Lieberman (or Ed Rendell, or Dennis Kucinich, or Obama) is tainted by Neal, because they're both (all) Democrats. Neal is also white, and a man, and Jewish, I believe… …so folks in those demographic groups are tainted too, I presume…

    Sorry, Milhouse… That kinda guilt by association is pretty much always a non-starter… Someone who commits a crime while simultaneously being Catholic, or Chinese, or a Republican does not actually taint all the people who share those demographics with his crime. Even in cases where folks share the same political or social ideology, and the crime is committed in furtherance of that ideology, that doesn't–or at least, shouldn't–taint every person in that group. Lots of folks are opposed to abortion, but only the ones who bomb clinics and shoot doctors, or who defend the people in the group who do, are tainted by those crimes.

    (That said, I hear Charles Manson was a Beach Boys fan… …and you know what THAT means…)

  41. AlphaCentauri  •  Jun 10, 2012 @7:34 am

    lol, I don't think Charlie was much of a fan after they recorded one of his songs without attribution…

  42. Scott Jacobs  •  Jun 10, 2012 @8:27 am

    It isn't, in my mind, so much they they are Democrats therefore that party should denounce them, it is the fact they they have worked for the Democrats.

    If R's have to denounce stupid shit said by a guy, he D's should probably be required to denounce actual criminal activity.

  43. AlphaCentauri  •  Jun 10, 2012 @11:46 am

    Been doing some thinking …

    Kimberlin is described as a sociopath. I don't know him, but it sounds likely. He has a history of doing shockingly amoral things to try to avoid personal consequences of previous amoral acts, with a tendency for subsequent crimes to be even more shocking. That's exactly what got Manson in trouble, by the way, trying to cover up one crime with a worse crime.

    Kimberlin also seems to have a curious lack of ability to judge what actions will get him caught. He can't perceive things from other people's points of view. Some of his fellow drug dealers back in the day reportedly stopped associating with him because he was so open about building an airstrip to fly in marijuana. He drove around with spare bomb parts in his trunk while trying to get fake DOD identification, despite not looking a bit scruffy to be taken seriously. In prison he repeatedly wrote out incriminating information (like hit lists) on yellow legal paper and gave them to jailhouse snitches. Etc.

    Yet he seems to get into the presence of famous people on a regular basis. His website if full of photos of himself with celebrities. He can't be friends with all those people — it is likely most barely would remember him — but he clearly considers it meaningful to have that kind of picture taken and to display it.

    If you were to meet a sociopath and knew nothing about him — say, if you were both waiting for your cars to get their oil changed at the Jiffy Lube — you'd probably like him. They're very charming with strangers.

    But a sociopath gets anxious anytime he begins to develop emotional attachments to people. He won't have friends. He'll have minions. Relationships have to be manipulative, or else the sociopath will lie or insult or do whatever else it takes to alienate the person he might actually become emotionally dependent on. Anyone who knows a sociopath well and hasn't become alienated has issues of his own. Again, think of the Manson family. They did evil because he told them to, not because it ever would have occurred to them to do anything good or evil without being told to do it by someone else.

    Which brings me to, what goal should you be hoping to achieve re: Brett Kimberlin? Can you convince him to stop acting like an asshole simply by publicising him behavior or fighting him in court? No. Modern psychiatry has no treatment to offer people like that. You can't shame him into acting like a reasonable human being. He wouldn't know how to do it if he wanted to, and he's spent his entire life learning how to get along without developing any sense of responsibility, emotional attachment, or altruism. He doesn't comprehend enough to know he even has these limitations — he thinks everyone else has problems. It's all about him because he honestly can't see anyone else's point of view. He will do whatever he thinks he needs to do to avoid consequences to himself, he will not respect any legal or moral limitations when doing so, and he won't even do a very good job of trying to avoid getting caught. If his actions don't succeed, he won't abandon them, he'll escalate them. He could return to violence.

    So the irony is, no matter how evil his behavior, demonizing him, portraying him as a one-dimensional evil character, makes it worse. He can't see the complexity of human nature, so it has to be spelled out to him:

    Brett Kimberin, when you encourage young people to become involved in the political process, you are doing a good thing. When you encourage wealthy celebrities to give back to the community, you are doing a good thing. You deserve credit for that.

    But if you try to suppress critics, if you try to conceal the bad things you did in the past, if you use lawsuits to try to silence people, if you use other people to take revenge on your behalf against those who annoy you, you are making yourself an object of derision. You can fool people for a while, but in the end, most people are going to see through it, because most people are better at analyzing human relationships than you will ever be.

    The only way you will succeed at gaining the respect you are seeking is to do good for those who respect you and ignore those who don't. Trying to fight back against critics can never succeed. It is just digging yourself into a deeper hole.

  44. repsac3  •  Jun 11, 2012 @2:46 am

    "If R's have to denounce stupid shit said by a guy, he D's should probably be required to denounce actual criminal activity."

    I see where you're coming from… but I'd spend more time questioning the former proposition than pushing a "two wrongs make a right" kinda theory…especially if I was a Republican.

    I mean, sure… anyone who actually worked with or funded Kimberlin, et. al. ought to be asked, and given the opportunity to talk about why they did, and where they stand now, based on the information about the accused that is/isn't available, and of course those who're speaking out for or against ought to be held accountable for what they say, but D's (or R's) in general have no obligation to answer for Kimberlin or for those who're accusing them, either.

    While I believe everyone ought to speak out against what's going on–and what happened to Aaron Walker in particular (because it's the least convoluted, easiest to understand, and most egregious part of the thing (IMHO), if for no other reason)–I don't blame folks for not doing so, whether because they're frightened of retaliation or because they're just focused elsewhere.

    My analogy is to firefighters: Yes, those who intentionally run into burning buildings to save lives are heroes, but I don't believe it follows that everyone who has never run into a burning building deserves to be criticized for not doing so.

    In the same way, the people willing to stand up to Kimberlin–especially those willing to do so after being threatened or worse (like Aaron, or this Paul guy from the (currently) most recent post)–are free speech heroes. But that doesn't mean that folks who have ignored the story, whether intentionally or out of confusion or ignorance, should be slammed as cowards or "in league with the eeeeevil one(s)" for doing so. Not blogging about this story doesn't prove anything…not about anyone individually, and certainly not about any/all demographic group(s) to which they belong.

    Coming from the left, I can say for good and certain that the folks intent on making this about attacking all progressives because Kimberlin claims to be one are causing liberals who would otherwise come out against attacks on free speech, intimidation, and lawfare to hold off, lest they be seen as agreeing that liberals in general have something to answer for, here. It's awful hard to align yourself with people who see you as evil incarnate, just because you disagree with 'em, politically…even when it is the right thing to do.

  45. Jess  •  Jun 11, 2012 @4:28 pm

    Kimberlin is now claiming to have been SWATTed. From the Velvet Revolution site:

    "$10,000 REWARD LEADING TO THE ARREST AND CONVICTION OF THE PERSON OR PERSONS WHO HAVE ENGAGED IN SWATTING POLITICAL ACTIVISTS.
    On at least four occasions over the past year, a person or persons made phone calls to county enforcement agencies, spoofing the victim's phone number, and/or reporting fictitious criminal activity calculated to bring a SWAT team ready to deal with an armed and dangerous resident.
    These four events include:
    • Attempted SWATTing of Michael Stack, Montgomery Township, New Jersey, June 23RD, 2011.
    • Attempted SWATTing of John Patrick Frey, Los Angeles, California, June or July 2011.
    • Attempted SWATTing of Erick Erickson, Macon, Georgia, May 27TH, 2012.
    • Attempted SWATTing of Brett Kimberlin, Bethesda, Maryland, May 31ST, 2012."

    Note the last one the attempted SWATTing of Brett Kimberlin on May 31, 2012. While I’ve not personally verified the accuracy of his post, Lee Stranahan claims to have been in touch with the police department in Bethesda Maryland and to have gotten the following email in response to his request to determine if a SWATTING call did in fact take place against Kimberlin.

    email Lee says he got from the Montgomery county Maryland public information office:

    "Good Morning,
    I searched our 911 call database for the above listed address. There was no call listed for 5/31, nor anything similar to what you described. I then searched each of our 6 districts for the entire day of 5/31 for a murder in progress, murder just occurred or murder occurred earlier call with negative results. I then spoke with our director to determine if this type of incident was brought to his attention recently and it was not. If your research proliferates any further detail that would help us to narrow down the search, please let me know. I can always check another address if you find one, but for the time being, I don’t see anything similar to what you described."

    HHHMMMMMM

  46. AlphaCentauri  •  Jun 11, 2012 @9:02 pm

    Kimberlin wants to fight to maintain his reputation, but he can't understand that he's hurting it himself. He sees everything he's accomplished threatened, but can't see that honesty and humility about his past would make people respect him more, not less. Everything is blowing up in his face now, and he can't see that it's because of his own reactions.

  47. Scott Jacobs  •  Jun 11, 2012 @9:16 pm

    but D's (or R's) in general have no obligation to answer for Kimberlin or for those who're accusing them, either.

    I absolutely agree. Though the on-the-spot, no-prep-time-given reaction of those questioned (the people who direct the funding for the Streisand Foundation, Tides Foundation, They Kerry's, etc) would be FASCINATING.

    I don't blame folks for not doing so, whether because they're frightened of retaliation or because they're just focused elsewhere.

    My analogy is to firefighters: Yes, those who intentionally run into burning buildings to save lives are heroes, but I don't believe it follows that everyone who has never run into a burning building deserves to be criticized for not doing so.

    I disagree. I absolutely blame those who won't speak out. Every single person who has taken as their profession the law, reporting, or anything remotely connected to law enforcement should be screaming about every bit of this (though I agree that the Walker v Kimberlin stuff may be the easiest to understand). Those who refuse to stand up and speak out are worthless, gutless piles of shit.

    Yes, firefighters who run into a burning building are heroes, and I don't blame people who don't refuse to run into said building…

    But if the people refusing are firefighters? Then they are cowards and worthless and should lose their jobs. They signed up for the job, after all – refusing to do that job is scorn-worthy.

    The answer after they have had time to have lawyers vet a RP response, however, would be so typical as to be meaningless.

    But that doesn't mean that folks who have ignored the story, whether intentionally or out of confusion or ignorance, should be slammed as cowards or "in league with the eeeeevil one(s)" for doing so. Not blogging about this story doesn't prove anything…not about anyone individually, and certainly not about any/all demographic group(s) to which they belong.

    Nope. If they have taken as their calling such duties – if their job is to report – then ignoring or refusing to run with this is unforgivable. It is a crime that, in the military, could see you shot during times of war.

    As for the rest, I completely agree.

  48. repsac3  •  Jun 11, 2012 @10:01 pm

    A fair point, that… If it's actually in one's wheelhouse, one probably should talk about the story and it's effect on their profession. (though I'm still not sure I'd go so far as to attack those who don't.)

    I was thinking more of "civilians," though… While I agree that the acts team Kimberlin are pulling and largely getting away with have the potential to affect anyone who blogs about any topic, I don't blame those mommybloggers, 60's soul enthusiasts, residents of nerdfighteria, or even political bloggers who choose not to engage. Attacking bloggers for what they don't choose to talk about–even if some think they should choose differently–never struck me as making much sense, and I'm constantly surprised when i see it happening.

    If it's your job to discuss it, or even just have some personal or professional expertise in the matter, that's one thing. But for the rest of us, the random D's and R's strutting or striding or skulking around the blogosphere or the real world doin' their thing, I can't see holding them morally liable–at least in any serious way–for not blogging or talking about team Kimberlin. And they certainly don't "prove" that any particular partisan political or other demographic group is comprised wholly of pure sinners or pure saints. The confusion about the story is real, both in terms of understanding it yourself and in explaining it to others. The fear of retaliation, too, is very real. That's all I was trying to get across. Those bloggers who willingly put themselves out there on this story and risk reprisal are heroes. But I don't believe that the reverse is also true, as some have suggested. There is no great shame in putting one's family or livelihood first, and not risking them for the sake of a blog post or two. Not every blogger signed up to be a firefighter.

  49. Scott Jacobs  •  Jun 11, 2012 @10:44 pm

    No, political bloggers almost more than anyone else should be in arms over this, because SLAPP suits could easily be used against them.

    They, more than most, should care very very deeply.

  50. repsac3  •  Jun 12, 2012 @2:12 am

    On one hand, Scott, I think we're starting to talk past one another.

    On the other, though, I think we're agreeing a whole lot more than it seems… (I don't disagree with anything in your last comment… Bloggers–and especially political bloggers–should care, and I'm down with trying to persuade as many as possible to care. And I believe you are, as well, and probably in many of the same ways, by which I mean, more honey and less vinegar… Show the facts, appeal to shared interest

  51. repsac3  •  Jun 12, 2012 @2:16 am

    (Damn… Premature submit…)

    Show the facts and appeal to shared interests, rather than browbeat and demean folks into submission… I think we're far more on the same page than it appears…

  52. bret  •  Jun 12, 2012 @1:16 pm

    Well, I asked the original question about when we can draw inferences from the general inaction of those on the Left, and this just adds to my fire. 85 members of congress sign a letter to the DOJ to investigate – and they are ALL Republicans.
    Washington Times link

  53. repsac3  •  Jun 12, 2012 @5:36 pm

    "…and they are ALL Republicans."

    As soon as the congresswoman releases the names of the Dems she asked to sign the letter who refused, I'll be glad to condemn them. Till then, it's a good thing she did…but a partisan stunt, too.

  54. Bret  •  Jun 12, 2012 @6:37 pm

    Or, the Dems could draft their own letter – but I have my doubts as to their interest in doing so.

  55. Joan of Snark  •  Jun 17, 2012 @8:19 am

    Since Kimberlin's NPO's IRS filings are a matter of public record, and there is no evidence he receives income from any other source that would cover the numerous court filing fees, wouldn't someone want to investigate the possible use of non-profit funds for what the IRS terms "personal gain"? If it turns out his friends are bankrolling these frivolous suits, that would come out and certainly be good to know, too.

  56. SPQR  •  Jun 17, 2012 @10:26 am

    Joan, it would be interesting to audit JMTP books indeed, but since the IRS has been focusing on harrassing Tea Party organizations they seem busy.

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