Free As a Bird

A number of recent blogposts show how astoundingly easy it is to start a fake narrative and keep it going. A lie can keep ripping through explanations easier than a high velocity bullet through a paper wall. For example, journalist Mark Singer wrote about a book about how he was conned into slandering Dan Quayle by a guy called Brett Kimberlin.

This book relates a journalist's worst nightmare: of getting deeply involved in a "big story" based on information from a single source who turns out to be a world-class liar. During the 1992 Presidential campaign Singer wrote a story for the New Yorker about the allegations by Brett Kimberlin, a former marijuana dealer then in prison for a series of bombings, that he had once sold marijuana to Vice President Dan Quayle.  (The cartoonist Garry Trudeau was another journalist who pushed this story hard.) After signing a book contract to expand the story, Singer invested more and more time,and became frustrated by holes, inconsistencies and dead ends in Kimberlin's tale. ...

After Garry Trudeau in "Doonesbury," the New Yorker's Mark Singer was possibly the most prominent journalist to sympathetically report allegations that convict Brett Kimberlin had sold marijuana to Dan Quayle when the Vice-President was a law student. ... Now free, the former dope smuggler helps ship commodities to Ukraine; but when Kimberlin (with Singer in tow) had a chance to meet Quayle at a book signing, he refused to confront him. Quayle, it now seems, deserves apologies. 50,000 first printing.

Dan Quayle's reputation is restored, right? Probably not. If he's remembered at all it will be as the only man who ever lived that was more stupid than George W. Bush. But Kimberlin kept going. Today he is suing everyone, but most especially bloggers, though he will sue anyone at a pinch. Patterico's Pontifications notes the incredible extent of Kimberlin's legal action.

Convicted bomber Brett Kimberlin has filed over 100 lawsuits, including a lawsuit for insufficiently provocative porn and a lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Prisons for not allowing him to have an electric guitar in prison. Blogger Aaron Walker recently revealed how Kimberlin made false statements as part of an effort to have Walker prosecuted for an assault Walker says never happened. Charges against Walker were dropped after a video was located showing that Kimberlin’s account was false in important respects.

How does he get away with it? By getting away with it. The only recorded instance in which Bill Ayers expressed admiration for America was when he realized that he could escape punishment more easily than he thought. “Guilty as sin, free as a bird, it’s a great country”.

Blogger Robert Stacy McCain may have accidentally found stumbled onto part of the reason for impunity. McCain is in hiding after becoming the latest target of Kimberlin. McCain had discovered that Kimberlin is associated with Democratic Party operatives and wrote about it.

FROM AN UNDISCLOSED LOCATION. Convicted terrorist Brett Kimberlin on Monday continued his effort to silence those who write about his criminal past by contacting my wife’s employer, claiming that I was “harassing” him. The resulting security concern required immediate relocation if I was to be able to continue writing about the case of Kimberlin, a violent felon, perjurer and admitted tax cheat who is employed as the director of a 501(c)3 non-profit that has collected $1.8 million in contributions since 2005 ...

Kimberlin is a known associate of Neal Rauhauser, a Democrat campaign consultant who has described himself as a computer “hacker.” Kimberlin, director of the tax-exempt Justice Through Music Project, is also involved in another tax-exempt group, Velvet Revolution, which has gained national attention by demanding criminal prosecution of high-profile figures including Republican strategist Karl Rove, U.S. Chamber of Commerce president Tom Donohue, and the late Internet news entrepreneur Andrew Breitbart. Kimberlin’s name also surfaced last year in connection with the so-called “Anonymous” international hacker conspiracy.

Kimberlin probably realized what every person of a certain character long ago found out: that the best way to stay in circulation is to make yourself useful to powerful people. In that way, while they may eventually ditch you, you'll have a longer run than otherwise.

William "Boss" Tweed of Tammany Hall knew how to associate with men of enterprise and daring. His motto was "as long as I count the votes, what are you going to do about it?" Admittedly he had a point. But you need people to help you control the narrative. That's where the Occupy Boys, the Anti-Racist Action Groups and lawyers are for. As long as you have them working the magic you are probably going to keep counting the votes.

Which is why story leads like "Democrats are dreading a Wisconsin wipeout" by Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post are so startling. The question is not: 'how do they get away with it' but why do tried and tested methods start failing suddenly? How come it stops working? The answer in the case of Boss Tweed is instructive: he began to fall when he ran New York into the ground.

Tweed's shenanigans "provoked an international crisis of confidence in New York City's finances, and, in particular, in its ability to repay its debts. European investors were heavily positioned in the city's bonds and were already nervous about its management – only the reputations of the underwriters were preventing a run on the city's securities. New York's financial and business community knew that if the city's credit was to collapse, it could potentially bring down every bank in the city with it."

When Tweed started to become bad for everyone's business he found his friends dwindling in number. He crossed an invisible but definite frontier. Kimberlin can probably keep going until he reaches a point, maybe on the 201st or 402nd lawsuit, when he becomes more trouble than he is worth; then the influential backers will find it more beneficial to sell him out to win public acclaim than to keep backing his plays.

Why do people like Tweed or their lesser copies never notice that they've gone too far? One reason is that they constantly believe that they haven't gone far enough. Ezra Klein, surveying the Occupy Wall Street actions in late 2011, believed they were at a "tipping point". They were they faltering because they were not pure enough.

Right now, the protests are at a tipping point. ... What these Democrats and liberal-activist groups are looking for is something similar to what conservatives found in the tea party: an opportunity to recharge and rebrand. Governance exhausts a movement. The compromises sap it of its purity; the institutional ties rob it of its authenticity; and in times when the American people are unhappy, the consequences undermine its agenda ...

an enormous amount of the energy there is going into sustaining the community at Zucotti Park, which now has to manage food, sanitation, a newspaper (The Occupied Wall Street Journal), marches, a library, a decision-making process, a lost-and-found, and more.

America didn't need another ordinary political group, one tied down by mundane concerns like picking up the trash and earning a living. And maybe Occupy would provide the pure bracing air of unalloyed militancy to see how far down that road you can go. Klein would watch and if they failed, well too bad.

That is the sad fate of men and movements 'of character'. As long as they keep winning, there will be people to support them -- from a distance. Once they falter out comes the hand washbasin. Robert Stacy McCain will come home when Kimberlin comes to the end of his rampage.

And then nobody will know him. Nobody ever does.


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