Saturday, March 5, 2011

Case and Controversy Part II: A comprehensive reply to Jim Benton's Personal attacks (w/ additional commentary)


Prups (Jim Benton's) stunningly vicious personal attack on me for merely sharing my perspective, his omniscient "knowledge" of my motives, and his obviously labored (and misleading) "opposition research" is I'm sure as shocking to other reader's of this blog in the tone of its invective as it is was for me in its attacks on my character. But I'm confused, doesn't he watch T.V.? As a loyal foot soldier in the Democratic party obviously versed in carrying the DSCC's water how could he have missed our good President's calls for "civility" after the Tuscon shootings? Indeed, in the extensive coverage following this tragedy we were all repeatedly informed it was the "vitriolic and divisive" rhetoric of the political right spouted on Fox news and talk radio that caused this national tragedy, (in spite of no evidence for such a theory coming out whatsoever); Rather, Mr. Loughner clearly appeared to be a paranoid schizophrenic who was apolitical or, if we are going from reading lists, a Communist, (see January's “Dubya Dupnik” post on this blog). How could our enlightened leaders in the blamestream media possible get things so wrong? (So much for the argument there exists no liberal bias in the news media!)

In fact, other than the despicable blog attacks on CBS reporter Lara Logan's character blaming HER for getting raped during the “peaceful” Egyptian protests by adherents of that most sensitive religion Islam who were merely caught up in the “excitement” of the celebrations-- I mean, how better to celebrate than to sexually assault someone? And a good time was had by all, all except Ms. Logan of course-- I have NEVER seen such a vitriolic attack on someone for expressing their beliefs in my life!

True, I am fairly new to the blogosphere, (for all I know perhaps such tactics occur all the time to digitally “shout down” those you disagree with), and I am not exactly impartial here, but personally I think the tone (and content) of the personal attacks on me reveal a certain level of immaturity on the part of Mr. Benton that is telling and completely unwarranted, (regardless of the perceived “rightness or wrongness” of my opinions and beliefs).

Consider the sheer number of his slurs and accusations against me.

  1. Calling me a liar for saying I don't have health insurance, (which is not true, I don't).
  2. Saying I still live at home, (therefore must be young and immature, as well as a liar and hypocrite because, according to Mr. Benton, I must still be on my “parent's” health plan and presumably can't possibly speak to this issue from a perspective of experience).
  3. Implying I am some kind of right-wing religious nutjob, (references to a book I cite that allegedly proves I believe “young earth” creationism, which I am not sure was the point of Michael Behe's, a PHD in mollecular biology, work, comes to mind).  For the record, it may come as a shock to Mr. Benton, but I read a variety of materials to see different perspectives and I do NOT necessarily agree with everything in every book I happen to read just because I think it is a valuable contribution to the national debate on important issues, (but why let the facts get in the way of a good character assassination?!) Even if this smear were true, forgive me for thinking my reading preferences and religious beliefs are my own business! And your point is?
  4. That I am some Republican hack who lacks objectivity, (again, untrue, but even if I were, so what? I still have the right to my opinions, no matter how much it angers Mr. Benton who is clearly someone with his own partisan issues, see below).
  5. That I am “pretentious,” (and your screed is what?) and have not contributed to the debate on dorfonlaw, (again, according to other posters on this blog, not true, see below).
  6. That the ACLP is a “one-person affair,” (which it's not, but even if so, so what?)
  7. That the ACLP and/or me personally has intentionally set out to deceive readers of our blog by our name and/or engaged in some sort of infringement upon the much larger legal advocacy group the American Center for Law and Justice, (while certainly flattering, this is once more, untrue, see below).

  8. I won't bother to repeat here every falsehood and attack on my character that Mr. Benton has found necessary in his ad hominem and guilt-by-association smears against me, as I am sure you can read, but you get the picture.

And while my first instinct was to demand this abusive attack's removal from the site as an obvious violation of bloggers terms of service, I then realized that, as the Supreme Court has noted, even falsity and vitriolic invective has a purpose in the "marketplace of ideas," (if nothing more than to more starkly reveal the truth juxtaposed against the lies and malevolent intentions of others, not to mention the utter bankruptcy of their own ideas). Accordingly I have decided to reply and let the Dorf community judge the appropriateness of Mr. Benton's extremely vitriolic and personal attack upon me for merely expressing my opinion on matters of public policy, (albeit in a somewhat "political" fashion, but hey, that's just my style).

First of all, and not to paint all liberals this way, (as I used to be one and some on here have been very decent and fair, see below), such ad-hominem attacks and character assassination as I have now experienced at Mr. Benton's hands is all too often standard operating procedure for hard-core leftist progressives in an attempt to smear and undermine the credibility of those with whom they disagree when they can't win the argument with actual facts and logic. (Of course, this is not the exclusive province of the leftists/progressives, but it is certainly one of their favorite tactics, regardless of the fact that, as another more wise than I once said, "if you must resort to personal attacks and smears to win the argument you've already lost it.”)

I therefore, as above noted, won't exhaustively respond to every one of Mr. Benton's scurrilous and vitriolic attacks. I do however find the extent of his self-professed personal knowledge about me and our fledgling organization astonishing for one such as him so ostensibly concerned with "contributing" to the debate. (He must really be afraid we are making headway with my arguments and ideas to be the target of such tactics, indeed, people don't bother responding to someone who they think isn't relevant to the debate, thanks for the confirmation I am making a difference! :)

For the record, it is not uncommon for many organizations to have similar names, and the American Center for Law and Policy has never held itself out to be any other organization than our own and any suggestion to the contrary is offensive. Indeed, a simple google search for "American Center for law"... yields hundreds of similar sounding organizations, (although I take it as a badge of honor that you would even compare me in the same sentence to such a great organization as Jay Seculow's outfit; from your reference to them can I take it that you approve of their public advocacy legal work then? I would guess NOT!)

While it's true the A.C.L.P.'s editorials do often agree with the conservative (or Republican) view of things we are actually non-partisan and, in fact, stubbornly independent which we prove everyday by our blog posts which Mr. Benton seems to have so much contempt for. (Indeed, this is clear from a mere perusal of our posts here and our blog at, which I assume Mr. Benton has more than done with his “extensive” knowledge he purports to have about us. Such a perusal of our actual posts clearly shows us on the record as supporting filibuster reform, disagreeing with the Westboro Baptist decison just handed down, and focusing on privacy concerns, indeed we have serious reservations about invading others' privacy vis a vis invading the sanctity of their library records and “sneek and peek” warrants as allowed by the Patriot Act, (would that you extended the same respect for others as your undoubted "political" beliefs imply you should; apparently your beliefs don't extend to the reading habits of those you disagree with politically.) Indeed, why else would Mr. Benton attempt to somehow smear me for merely listing a few books in my profile he obviously doesn't approve of that in all honesty have proven far more contributive to public debate than his personal attacks against me have? Indeed, unless Mr. Benton in fact SUPPORTS the privacy invading aspects of the Patriot Act, (which I somehow doubt), I find his using my “reading list” to try and make me look like an extremist more than a bit hypocritical. (While it is true he is undoubtedly not a “government actor” and, true enough, my reading list is publicly posted, you, sir, certainly don't seem to respect one's privacy as would be expected by your professed ideology, which makes YOU the hypocrite, sir, not I!  Indeed, your attempts to somehow exploit this information to slanderously label me as some kind of right wing religious extremist wackjob rather than a complex, thinking, human being with reasons for my beliefs is offensive on so many different levels I can't even begin to describe).

Of course, you're not knowing me from Adam didn't keep you from gazing into your “crystal ball” and doing everything from calling me a liar regarding my assertion I lack health insurance, (you're wrong, I don't have any), and guessing my age, (wrong again! I am waay too old to live at home, but didn't you like the picture of that funny hat vendor at the last live concert I attended? lol ;) In that regard and as an aside, what do you think I am, stupid? This is the internet and angry, unreasonable and intolerantly hyper-partisan people like you are EXACTLY the reason I choose to publish under a pseudonym and reveal very little personally identifying information! (Ahh well, even if you can't make a living as a psychic you can always try applying to work for the DSCC, at least you can then get paid for the smear campaigns you seem to so enjoy!)

Indeed, your implication that I agree with everything contained in every book I have ever read or recommend is as ludicrous as my having to here justify it to you sir, so I will not further do so and dignify such a witch hunt.  Needless to say, I doubt you have even read these books, as your characterizations of Jonah Goldberg's book, as most of them, is completely off, as even your own comments seem to concede; (indeed, how could such a book possibly get published by a 'major publisher' if it's that off base?) And speaking of 'missing the point,' rather than your derisive and inaccurate characterizations, the whole point of Mr. Goldberg's book and conservative concerns generally over the power-consolidating tendencies of big government, (and by extension, the current administration) is that totalitarianism comes in different colors, it is not just a function of those evil Republicans or Tea partiers, (a point obviously lost on Mr. Benton judging from his extreme partisanship on full display in his attack against me and other posts).

 But just to humor him, and in the rare event he really wants to understand how books like Jonah Goldberg's, (as well as the likes of Ann Coulter, David Horowitz, Thomas Sewell, Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh and other thinking conservatives) are best sellers, could the answer be because the mainstream of America is center-right and that their millions of followers actually are open to discussing IDEAS instead of just blaming society and demonizing those who disagree with them? (Ooh, I know, maybe we can round up all the authors Mr. Benton doesn't "approve" of and just burn them along with their books at the stake! That way we can finally deal with the “problem” of dissent and no one will ever learn the truth about the left's brand of totalitarianism that you have so aptly displayed, which is not really a different “brand” of intolerance and totalitarianism at all; indeed, there is really only one brand of such bigotry, (and yes, it is a form of elitist intellectual bigotry every bit as bad as the "racist," "homophobia," and other labels and terms used by leftists like you all the time to shut down honest debate about important societal issues merely because you can't stand that others might come to  conclusions different than yours that contradict your obvious ideology!)

 Don't get me wrong, there IS racism, there IS bigotry, but every time such invective is cast about like so much toilet paper it results in a cheapening of the debate that makes it less likely that people will actually be able to recognize the real thing when it comes along, (doing a huge dis-service to our body politic in the process!)  Just try this:

   Next time you run into someone who says that books by conservatives, or that Fox news (or one of their personalities) is just "right-wing propaganda," ask when was the last time they have actually read or watched ANY of the books or coverage they derogatorily dismiss and to provide actual examples of the "bias" they allege.  Dollars to donuts they won't be able to provide even one!  (Indeed, hard to do that when you never even listen to your political opponents!) 

  Personally, I am thankful I get my information from a variety of sources, including the internet, C-span, Msnbc, and yes, the dreaded Fox News, but I feel sure that today's leftists are not quite so diverse.  (Indeed, as we've seen, they would rather shout down and smear anyone who dares disagree with them!) Then, just for comparative kicks, and to see what REAL bias is, surf on over to the media research center's site by clicking here if your liberty loving heart can handle to see all the double standards in living proof or summon the courage to peruse But frankly, when it comes to hard lefties like Mr. Benton, (who apparently only appreciate the "free speech" of those who agree with them and whose attacks are along the same vein), I won't hold my breath.

 Finally, I have no doubt you would like for me to, as you say, "just go away," (it is always instructive to see the intolerance of the allegedly "tolerant" in action!) In spite of my stern response I actually think it would be sad that you apparently derive pleasure out of trashing someone you don't even know for merely expressing their opinion and engaging in legal/political debate on a blog established for that purpose if your contempt for the First Amendment wasn't so disturbing.  (Indeed, knowing there must be many thousands of others out there that share your same lack of tolerance and low regard for foundational constitutional principles is troubling). Nevertheless, and in any case, by becoming so obviously unhinged at my not just parroting your own "enlightened," (or shall I say "entrenched"?), views, you make abundantly clear who the rabid partisan is here.

Indeed, I may be a lot of things, (very few of which you actually accurately accuse me of), but neither you nor anyone else should be allowed to get away with the kind of visceral personal attack as you have leveled against me for nothing but challenging your own "talking points." (And accidentally too! Indeed, my first comments weren't originally even meant for you but when I went to publish them you beat me to it with your partisan screed.)

Moreover, regardless of your hypocrisy in (incorrectly) asserting that I blindly utilize political talking points, I in fact do enjoy the back and forth of true discourse on the issues and have, in fact, positively contributed to the debate on here according to others, (see below). This is in contrast to your comments' personal attacks against me, the vast majority of which can, most charitably, ONLY be characterized as a hardly-veiled attempt at personal smear and demonization in order to discredit my IDEAS, (the oldest political dirty trick in the book). Frankly, I don't expect fair and astute minds to fall for such ad-hominem fallacies, (which, at least in my study of logic, have always been considered invalid arguments), but I have replied just in case.

 Mr. Benton further suggests I “lose the pretentiousness and propaganda and actually try and contribute to the discussion,” implying I have NOT positively contributed to the debate at Leaving aside his statement's own evident “pretentiousness” and arrogance, judging from other users' comments on this site his assertion is clearly false, (see below).

Indeed, I have had some extended conversations with various individuals on here, including Egarber and Doug who, in spite of disagreeing with me and, I suspect, frankly sharing Mr. Benton's political views on most subjects, have nevertheless not felt it necessary to call me a liar, a propagandist, or attack me personally but instead have pressed their arguments with decency using logic and skills that apparently evade Mr. Benton. The following published comments from the dorfonlaw site, (of which I have conveniently procured screen shots for the record, as I have of all threads), prove this to be the case. Aside from the information in brackets, they are exact quotes.

"@JP - I'd love to get it [censorship of JP posts) to stop as your responses have been interesting and have added to the debate... If Mr. Dorf or Mr. Buchanan could post the original comments or add JP to a safe list it would be helpful." -Doug

"@JP - It does clarify your position and it was a most interesting post to read."

Doug, from the comment thread at post "A shift in Washington's attitude towards home ownership"

Indeed, in comments on the same thread regarding the ongoing mysterious censorship of my comments and subsequently temporary blocking of access to my account and blog, (now completely restored :) none other than Michael Dorf, owner and Administrator of the dorf blog wrote, “Good luck in getting your account restored. Thanks for reading and commenting here,” (mighty strange comments to make to someone who purportedly has contributed nothing of substance to the debate on the important law and policy matters discussed).

Then too, we have the following post from Egarber from “The Enforcement/Defense calculus in DOMA and beyond” thread on dorf law.

“Thanks JP. It's been fun.” - Egarber

Now I may not be near as "enlightened" as you are Jim, but I find such a thing as these posters have replied to me to be awfully strange for someone who doesn't "try and contribute to the discussion" as you sensationally and slanderously claim.

Moreover, your brash assertion that government does “everything more efficiently” is plainly not accurate. Apparently you have never heard about the “efficient” government's five hundred dollar toilet seats or, so it seems, even read Mr. Buchanan's post above, which itself contradicts this claim-- or at least gives credence to the argument of the other side-- to wit:

“For example, calls to have members of Congress file their own taxes, or to have governors register their own cars with their states' DMVs, are based on the belief that there is nothing quite like lived experience to break through a person's apathy about others' plight. Health care is one of those issues for which seeing how the other 95% live might well lead to changes in policymakers' and analysts' attitudes about what is acceptable.” Mr. Neil Buchanan, “Health Care, Incentives, and Complexity,”, March 5, 2011.

Indeed, while Mr. Benton may have lots of experience in the health care system, he apparently has not visited his state DMV office in quite a while.

Similarly, his claim that:

“when a governmental agency makes a mistake, you have an immediate right to review, and can delay its enforcement until there is a fair hearing,” I find extremely specious vis a vis the context of an expanded role for government in health care, (i.e., Obamacare), for the simply fact that who's to make it if it doesn't? Indeed, from my post on this subject at the ACLP's blog,
“If we make government, the current regulator over fair health practices into a health insurance provider or player itself, (as Obamacare ultimately does), who will regulate the regulators?  Right now there are already laws against health insurers denying care wrongly, and if necessary, the people's representatives can pass new ones, as the Democratic process allows...  However, if the government itself is the provider of your health care, if they have the first and final say establishing what care you should receive and the government itself denies your claim, who are you going to turn to then?  Indeed, by making government itself a stakeholder in the outcome, rather than the government merely being an impartial referee which applies the same rules to all, the entire system is rigged from the getgo against you and turned on its head."  From Feb. 4, 2011 ACLP blog post, “So what's really the problem with Obamacare?” (click blue underlined 'link').

I do however apologize for incompletely recognizing the full deficiency of your skill set which apparently includes, (along with your obvious lack of personal manners and sense of decency), your apparent inability to read inferred from your statement "having dealt with governmental, private, and mixed agencies for much of my life in various ways, I have little doubt that the governmental ones are usually more efficient."

Indeed, not only have you apparently missed the GAO's report released earlier this week, click here for news and here for pdf download, showing literally billions of dollars of overlap, waste, and fraud in government programs, your "enlightened" and self-annointed declaration would ostensibly come as a big surprise to Mr. Buchanan, the author of the post you claim to agree with, who, though I perceive is no great fan of free markets himself, has the decency and integrity to at least admit (albeit indirectly) the validity of the argument to the contrary.  Again, at the risk of redundancy I quote, "personal experience can also bring unseen problems into the light... for example calls to have members of Congress file their own taxes, or to have governors register their own cars with their states' DMV', are based on the belief that there is nothing quite like lived experience to break through a person's apathy about others' plight." Neil H. Buchanan,, “Health Care, Incentives, and Complexity," par. 2.

However, that having said, I do THANK YOU for your reference to our website, as it has undoubtedly driven more traffic here! :)

Finally, your openly expressed desire that I would just 'go away,' reveal you for the far more arrogant and pretentious person you accuse me of being. Indeed, I find your contempt for others who exercise their First Amendment rights to dissent from those of your persuasion instructive. Indeed, such intolerance expressed by the "liberal" and supposedly tolerant set is always amusing to see 'in action.'

Moreover, as your slanderous accusation that I spout "outright lies," while not capable of specific response due to the vagueness of your charges, is, like your other attacks and mischaracterizations, simply without merit.

But if you're talking about all links on the aclp's site, I have never claimed to exhaustively research the background of all the authors of all links or citations made on the A.C.L.P's blog, nor could I for lack of time. But if you want to crucify me for having respect for the Tea Party-- no groups of which to date I have actually been personally active in or otherwise affiliated with, though maybe I should consider it as they have obviously struck a nerve with you!-- but which professes to stand for restoring, among other things, accountability and fiscal sanity to our government, go ahead and prepare the tar and feathers now.

In actuality, the A.C.L.P. has a three person board which guides what we do. While I do run the web site and write most (but not all of the blogs, some of which I collaborate with other persons on, particularly with regard to subject), it is completely irrelevant to the matters on which I (and you) originally posted. But why expect logic and decency from someone who it is clear can only cast as many aspersions as they can and hope something sticks in their unholy crusade of sliming others? (Question: Did you lift this out of the Democratic playbook also? It seems strikingly similar to the Dems' attempt to make hay over claims of alleged “foreign contributions” to the Republicans in the mid-term elections which even Democrat pollsters admitted there was absolutely no evidence for and to which the Dems could only reply “well, they haven't proven that they didn't take any foreign money”! Talking points indeed!)

Finally, you accused me of not providing any "factual" examples of those who have come from Canada to America for health care, but again not true. A simple perusal of my posts reveal links. At least one of these links takes you to an article which cites people who have come to America from Canada to get health care, (and more are available if you google, which I presume you know how to do since you can utilize the internet to maliciously attack someone you don't know quite aptly).

All things considered, your attacks against me and the ACLP have no merit whatsoever, and have only revealed you for the bitter, aging hyper-partisan leftist you are, angry at their own situation and looking for someone to be their scapegoat, who frankly represents, in our opinion, a large part of the problem in our country's partisan divide. Harsh? Perhaps a tad, (but no harsher than the things you have said of others you didn't know and had no right to say just to advance your political viewpoint).

So let me give you a little unasked for advice. Perhaps instead of wasting your energy attacking people and organizations who actually have some original ideas to contribute to society you ought to think of some of your own. Not only would it at least come across as more sincere than just parroting Harry Reid's, but that hard-line Democrat party playbook from which you seem to getting most of yours is beginning to wear a little thin. jp

1 comment:

  1. As noted elsewhere, the point made herein and in other posts on this and the Dorf law blog re: the government's denying care if they garner both the power regulating AND providing health care, (dealt with at length in the "What's really the problem with Obamacare?" post on this blog), has recently been amply demonstrated in the Baby Joseph case in the news of late recently, (see separate post "Baby Joseph given reprieve... this blog). jp