Yesterday evening just after I finished talking to the IRS I noted I had missed a call from Ali Akbar and gave him a ring.
Ali expressed concern about Ladd Ehlinger Post that I had retweeted late last night concerning him and Paul Lemmen.
Some background. I’ve known Ali since the Scott Brown race and he has treated me well, the very first press credential I had, came from Ali. I think Ali is a talented young man who has a future and I have a very high opinion of his mother who I met at the last
Blogcon. Blogbash at CPAC.
We Sicilians tend to remember that kind of thing so when Ali asked me if I would interview him on this matter, although I frankly thing this entire post is ill advised, I agreed.
Before we began I told Ali about my own relationships with the others involved in this conversation. Paul Lemmen & Ladd Ehlinger.
I have regularly linked to Paul Lemmen (although we’ve never met or spoke) I became aware of him through Zilla. Our exchanges have been unexciting but have really been just about posts.
As for Ladd Ehlinger with the exception of Stacy McCain there is nobody I’m closer to on the net. We talk regularly on issues and what is going down. He has been particularly good to me and mine. Ladd has my unequivocal friendship and trust.
Ladd does not have a high opinion of Ali. I have friends such as Sunshine State Sarah who share Ladd’s view while Stacy McCain on the other end likes Ali a lot.
Anyways Ali & I talked for a while and he made the following points concerning this dispute which is now getting some pixels:
1. He stated emphatically he didn’t by request or hint ask anyone to talk to Paul Lemmen about his posts, he said that Lee Stranahan had contacted him on his own
2. He said that he had talked privately to Mr. Lemmen saying the following:
His worries and position on him (Ali) were perfectly understandable
“There is no war between you and I”
“I don’t wish you any ill will”
“You know what you are doing and I think it’s hurtful”
He said the tweets he sent out didn’t question Paul’s initial post, but were concerning his interactions with Rauhauser
He said Mr. Leemen called him a putz but says he (Paul Leemen) will concede that Stranahan didn’t tell him he had to be silent on this matter.
3. As for the possibility of his resigning he said the following:
No NBC (National Bloggers Club) member requested him to withdraw publicly or privately.
He has offered his resignation twice to the nine member Board and both times the Board of the NBC has asked him to stay on.
He told he had told Nice Deb the same thing.
As far as anything else: “My record will stand on it’s own….it’s the left that’s come after me” He said the right on the whole has backed him.
He then invited me to fact check this stuff saying the truth won’t hurt him.
Ironically it was during this conversation that I saw this post at Paul’s site concerning Paul’s withdrawing from this.
After this conversation I told Ali I would be calling Lee Stranahan and Ladd. I advised Ali to simply ignore all of this and carry on. I also asked him if he really wanted this post written. He said yes.
Next I talked to Lee Stranahan on the phone.
I’ve had Lee as a guest on the show and we’ve met in person once or twice. We’ve talked on the phone a few times since Andrew’s death and he has always both friendly and forth coming. He is certainly someone I’d like to know better.
He confirmed that Ali didn’t ask him to call Paul Lemmen, he did that of his own accord and also called Ali. He told both that he wished this dispute to end as it is a distraction. He said any such distraction simply helps Kimberlin & co.
Lee said neither Paul nor Ali were pleased to get this call from Lee.
Lee had no comment on any private conversations he had with Ladd Ehlinger but had this to say concerning the Kimberlin story:
“If someone is to step up and take on Kimberlin & Co honestly and honorably (which means without physical threat) I’m on their side”
It is my impression that Lee considers the Kimberlin story an incredibly important one. I agree, once you start with the precedent of using a combination of the courts & fear to silence speech it’s all over.
I then called Ladd. I had talked to him late the previous evening concerning his post on Paul before I tweeted on it (the tweet in question suggesting at the time that attacking Lemmen was foolish because it lead to Ladd’s post.
We discussed what Ali said and did not dispute anything that Ali said to me.
Since it’s always easier for me to have a direct quote Ladd was kind enough to send me two statements concerning this:
On Paul Lemmen’s decision to step away from the story:
“I think it was absolutely the right thing for Paul to do and I can’t fault his decision in the least. He knew that in the end, his efforts would be detrimental to the overall effort. His argument against Ali Akbar’s involvement in this story, because Akbar has a rap sheet, could reasonably be applied to him. Sometimes the best way you can help is by stepping back and letting other people take up the mantle. It’s a tough and ultimately humble thing to do, to do that, and I respect it.”
On Stranahan wanting everyone and the kitchen sink in on the fight:
“While I certainly understand Lee’s point, this is also a fight over first principles. We should be able to blog about a convicted felon without having a mob of goons circle the wagons around that convicted felon and apply third-world tactics against us. That’s a tough PR fight to wage because it’s complicated sorting who did what. Ideally we fight that fight with our own hands free (at the very least) of handcuffs and felony convictions.”
Ladd also had his own follow up post here
While he did not dispute what Ali said to me he DID dispute something Ali said to Nice Deb on her blog More on that later…
Either during this conversation or during the one with Lee I got an e-mail linking to the long post about Lemmen at I own the world by Ann Barnhardt. As Ann hasn’t hesitated to speak her mind on Radical Islam, speed that could kill her, so she certainly isn’t going to shy away from this.
Before I went to bed I e-mailed Paul concerning Ali’s quotes. I noted since he already had withdrawn from this story if he didn’t want to comment that was fine but I didn’t want to put up this post without his input as he is a big part of it.
The previous draft of this post originally had Paul’s comments. When I e-mailed him to confirm I had him right he agreed I did but after a night sleep asked that I pull it as he doesn’t not want to further distract the focus from the activities of Kimberlin & Co. I have decided to respect that request.
I was ready to leave it there but then there was this quote at Nice Deb’s blog that Ladd disputed:
Then again, his criminal history is minimal, and he claims to have disclosed it to everyone he has ever worked for.
I checked with Deb to confirm the quote (she did) and then checked with several people on it including Dale Peterson and Dan Backer. Dale considered it a “political” quote that is vague enough to be true, Dan said pretty much the same, both suggested I speak directly his partners directly.
What do I think about this? Well here are my conclusions:
In terms of facts:
- Ali clearly did not ask Lee Stranahan to call Paul Lemmen to silence him
- Lee called both Paul & Ali of his own volition because he was concerned.
- No person I’ve talked in the process of writing this post disputed any of Ali’s statements to me.
- Ali’s statement to Deb was not disputed factually by those I talked to.
In terms of my opinions:
- Paul’s concerns about Ali were certainly reasonable and I had no problem with him making them
- Ladd’s PR concerns are very valid in terms of advancing the story
- Lee’s opinion that the more people writing about this story, no matter who they are the better is valid.
- Ann Barnhardt’s concerns about Paul are certainly no less valid than Paul’s & Ladd’s concerning Ali.
- Ali as head of the NBC was in a rock/hard place situation, if he does nothing the question becomes: “Why aren’t you doing anything?”, if he does something his past becomes an issue/distraction. I believe he had to act.
- It is the opinion of both Mr. Peterson & Mr. Backer that Ali’s statement was carefully made, and I think a reasonable person might come to that conclusion.
As far as Paul and Ali:
- Paul has decided to back away , I respect that, if he changes his mind I’m fine with that too.
- If Ali chooses to stay involved I’m fine with it, frankly I think it’s reached the point I think it would become the story if he backed off, however if he chooses to do so I’d respect that too.
- Ali should appoint a “point man” on Kimberlin from the NBC membership. I think this should have been done from the beginning, that way Ali as head of the NBC can be kept in the loop. He is the executive he should not have to be the lead man.
- Unless there is a bombshell waiting to explode he should NOT resign, the MSM can pick up such a story without touching the Kimberlin business.
- Individual bloggers have all the information that’s out there on Ali & Paul, they should make their own decisions on how to approach them both, and I respect whatever decision any of them make.
- I will continue to offer advice and best wishes to Ali & Paul until I see a reason to do otherwise.
Finally I think the best advice would be to move on. I think frankly this entire conversation is counterproductive, we are quibbling over what color to paint the gate instead of defending the stockade. This is nearly 2000 words on an interblog dispute that should have been on something else.
The Bottom line here is we are dealing with people who wish to silence us to advance an agenda and are willing to use tactics that can lead to death to do so.
Everything else is subordinate to that point and if we take our eyes off that ball then we’re foolish.
Uptate: I talked Ali before posting inviting him to comment, as he doesn’t do blog comments I’m including his comments spoken to me as an update
“Though I am an imperfect man, I hope this will put to rest any assertions that I want there to be less voices, not more voices. Brett Kimberlin, Neal Rauhauser et/al should be our focus. Unfortunately Paul’s silence, which I have always been against, and Ladd’s now fact checked claims against me, occasioned some infighting. Let’s all now move together forward, to protect the hundreds of bloggers who have blogged about this issue. To aid Aaron Walker in his coming battles and ensure the safety of the (Robert Stacy) McCain family and all families threatened, because this distraction is old,tried and done“.
Update 2: I met Ali’s mom at blogbash at CPAC 2012 not blogcon sometimes they start to roll together.