A Chat Over The Wall With Ladd Ehlinger

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Ladd Ehlinger is a libertarian-conservative filmmaker responsible for some of the most controversial — and viral — campaign ads and videos of 2010. He was less active in 2012, and that may in part be because of his open opposition to National Bloggers Club President Ali Akbar. Ehlinger approached me last Friday to offer an interview by instant message. A barely-edited transcript of that exchange follows.

me: So how long have you known Ali Akbar?

Ladd: Ask me instead when I’ve ever met Ali Akbar.

me: When have you ever met Ali Akbar?

Ladd: Nevah! One time he walked past me and someone else he decided to piss on at CCRAP 2012. A party. Sat on couch, looked around, left. Awkward!

me: But you say you are familiar with his…behaviors?

Ladd: It alllll started back on the Rick Barber for congress campaign. {insert harp music and swirling video effects} I got hired to make some ads, I made them. Then all of a sudden I’m getting these weird rumors going around about Rick and his family. I’m like, what the hell? And then about me. And I’m like, what the hell? From the info I got, Akbar had been fired from Barber’s campaign a few weeks beforehand, so everyone on the team was fair game for crazed rumors, like the stuff he was trying to peddle against Libertarian Republican.

me: Did you ever confirm it was Akbar doing this? Or confront him?

Ladd: Oh yeah. No apologies. So apparently his MO is to trash people, I’m not the only one. I’m just one of the few who doesn’t care about being loud about it.

me: Did you ever find out why he was fired from Barber’s campaign?

Ladd: Yeah, his website apparently sucked. Like pretty much all of them. Uber guru don’t do html, also not too hot at getting good video done.

me: Do you have any theories as to how Akbar manages to keep getting work in conservative politics?

Ladd: LOL it’s not a secret chemical. First ingredient: don’t tell anyone you’ve got a felony. Second ingredient: if employer finds out, minimize it. Third ingredient: if client is still pissed, threaten to start trashing him. Fourth ingredient: Party! And there you go. There’s nothing magical about it.

me: There’s something very “Club Kids” about Akbar. When you confronted him, did he go full drama queen?

Ladd: LOL – eh, you know, I walked away from the phone thinking all was good, but then he was back at it again. That was it for me. Course I did yell a lot. I don’t have much patience for subterfuge. I keep thinking of snarky stuff to say but I may not have had enough coffee to make them really funny

me: So has he popped up on your radar since then?

Ladd: Oh yeah I got stuck with V&V supposedly doing “social media support” for some videos I did. Told client not to use him, didn’t listen. What a fiasco and more of the same shit. Submariner time!

me: “Fiasco” is one of my favorite words in English. Can you elaborate?

Ladd: Did some good videos, they were supposed to push them online for client, I was not impressed. They did more work on a stupid 30 page “after action report” blaming everyone else for the failure than they did online pushing the videos. Flaccid effort.

me: How about Akbar’s partners, like Bill Murphy? Have you ever dealt with any of them?

Ladd: No, I don’t think so. It was all email. Hey guys, can ya tweet about the videos you’re being PAID TO PROMOTE? Hey guys, can you embed the video you WERE PAID TO PROMOTE?

me: As a lone blogger who makes mashups and does all his own promotion, I find that astounding.

Ladd: Meh, can’t do that, we gotta continue pissin match. And not letting anyone know we’ve gots da felonies. Yeah, I completely disagree with most of your philosophies and frame of references, but you don’t slack. Watched your website over the years since the Zsa Zsa thing, constant improvement. Oh, been meaning to ask, how’s Babs? LOL Loved her in Funny Girl. (Clarification: I recently updated my Twitter bio to note the idiocy of Kimberlin maniacs who claim I am working for Barbra Streisand. Ehlinger is riffing on that here) 

me: LOL I aim to be named the evil overlord of the sinister progressive conspiraceez any day now. So when the National Bloggers Club story heated up last Summer, I recall you standing up for indie bloggers on your side of the aisle. Can you talk about that?

Ladd: Sure, what do you want to know?

me: What in particular made you stand up and speak out? Was it Akbar trashing earnest bloggers?

Ladd: Well, yes, I didn’t think he should’ve been involved. Before I even knew about the criminal record. Tried to warn everyone, then somebody on “your” side figured out how to use teh Googlez. Caps locks would not do my ranting justice at that point. Now I’m just kinda tsking.

me: Sry, phone call – 5 min

Ladd: No worries. Hmm, hope the U.S. isn’t nuked during our interview.

me: True fact: most N. Korean Scuds leak badly when fueled. Half of them will never reach their target zones.

Ladd: I believe it. It’s the other half that’s a tad worrisome.

me: True.

Ladd: You know what’s funny about this whole thing is, everyone has gotten so paranoid some of the weird conclusions drawn are just as weird as, say, those between US and Soviets back in the day. Pretty soon you guys will be funding psychic research and “my” side will be working on remote viewing.

me: We already have psychic research, it’s called Huffington Post “Wellness”

Ladd: Ha! I can just see it now, Ali putting on a helmet and trying to imagine where a donor who hasn’t ponied up yet is.

me: So back to the interview. What’s your take on Akbar and Stranahan and Walker and all this Brett Kimberlin hysteria they promote?

Ladd: Wellllll you and I may have different frames on that.

me: Let me rephrase

Ladd: Frankly I think there are issues in regards to free speech. For both sides. Also a lot of weird.

me: I’m fine with “my side” taking lumps for having Brett Kimberlin among us — that’s fair — but do you agree the people I just named have gone a little far with it?

Ladd: Hmm. I think when people get scared enough, they feel cornered and fight back. It’s a human reaction. Especially when the other side is “walled off” and you can only guess about what’s happening. Plus I think there’s some folks who, for the popcorn, enjoy piddling around and stoking it. I haven’t really been paying very close attention the past few months, but that’s kinda my meta view on it. That’s partly why I decided to talk w/you.

me: The criminal charges against Bill Schmalfeldt were a bridge too far, IMO.

Ladd: Bill can be funny, but sometimes it gets obsessive. That obsession, I think, gets misinterpreted.

me: He has a lot of pit bull in him – when Bill gets his teeth in your hindquarters, nothing in the world will make him stop until a new squirrel runs by.

Ladd: It’s a wall thing. Look at it from the other side of the wall.

me: Please speak to that other side for a minute if you don’t mind

Ladd: Here’s a guy who’s doing nothing but Stranahan Walker Ali 24/7. Why? Does anyone care? I mean seriously, these are huge targets that.must.be.destroyed? So the only conclusion that makes sense is, there must be more to it. Or well the only conclusion you can make on the other side of the wall. And then when you toss in neo-nazis, Kimberlin, etc., it’s just downright creepy. Which I suppose are some of the concerns on “your” side.

me: Do you know how I got into this story?

Ladd: Not entirely certain, no, but I sense your irritation w/it when I read your blog.

me: It’s not a secret. I was hot on the heels of this guy

Ladd: Oh! Right! Of course. Brooks Neo-Nazi Bayne and the Shoq Shag!

me: LOL Dread Pirate Shoq

Ladd: It’s the jooos it’s the jooos! I mean ffs Shoq just looks to me like a social media operative for democrats, what’s the BFD? Is it really surprising that the Stop Rush campaign was started by someone? How’s it supposed to happen? Abiogenesis? Ooooh! Democrats hire social media operatives. Ooooooh! Like Republicans don’t? Hell even the damn Libertarian party shells out a few bucks for someone to tweet. I hear he’s paid in gold. Also – he HAS A BEARD

me: HAHAHA That’s the crazy thing: “Randy” had targeted actual private citizens doing their 1st Amendment thing. Some of them were actually hurt. Anyway, point is that I wasn’t aware of Kimberlin or NBC or Akbar or any of that stuff until then

Ladd: I gotchya. Look I think any moron can tell that both sides are trying to get attention.

me: Of course

Ladd: Hell, for all I know this is a brilliant PR move for Kimberlin. Anyone ever considered that?

me: He couldn’t buy better publicity, that’s true

Ladd: Freak out a bunch of conservative bloggers! It’s better than Dan Quayle. Better than Dan Quayle and a strip club!

me: So I’m curious to know what your reaction was to finding yourself quoted at Crooks & Liars

Ladd: Oh I haven’t seen this give me a minute

me: Guess I’ll have your reaction in real time then

Ladd: Ah, she got some stuff wrong though. The paragraph below that is a bit off.

me: Do tell

Ladd: That’s what happens when you work behind the other side of the wall and assume no one will shout across it. Yeah, that was the gig I tried to warn everybody about. The one I mentioned earlier.

me: Oddly enough, that post brought an unprecedented number of conservative commenters who’d been quoted in the piece

Ladd: Only time I worked on same project with the creep. Seems that’s a pattern for many folks: work with him once despite reservations, get burned, never do it again. Ever.

me: That brings me to my next question. Have you ever met/talked to Dan Backer?

Ladd: Yep.

me: What’s your impression of him?

Ladd: That’s kinda open-ended LOL. Let’s just say I don’t think I’m speaking out of turn when I say, our experiences sorta match.

me: Yours and his?

Ladd: Yeah, but I don’t want to say anymore and stick words in his mouth.

me: Understandable. Can you describe that project a bit?

Ladd: Sure, what do you want to know?

me: How did you wind up doing it?

Ladd: Wow that’s a long story. Hmm. How did I? I guess it goes back to my first real viral videos. The Dale Peterson thing. There was a donor in Ala who liked my work, wanted me to do some stuff, Ali got in there first though and was always pushing against using me. But I guess they eventually got fed up w videos that sucked and didn’t go anywhere, figured they’d give me a go.

me: Interesting – was the donor Shaun McCutcheon by any chance?

Ladd: Yes, good guy. It’s there in the reports, so it’s not some big secret

me: I didn’t expect it would be. I would love to drive down to Hoover and interview him on camera, get him to fully express his campaign finance POV

Ladd: The thing that’s funny on your side of the wall is thinking there’s some big evil kabal conspiracy. In reality there’s just people who believe in certain things and not in others. Our side does the same thing of course so it’s not like it’s endemic only to you. People get lied to, and I believe omissions – like having a felony – are lies.

me: We tend to fill the blank spaces on our mental maps with demons and monsters. Like those old illuminated maps

Ladd: Yep! Sure, you may disagree with Dan or Shaun on whether people should have fewer restrictions on how they spend their money in politics. Doesn’t mean they’re running around plotting the demise of the free world. Heck I disagree with them about certain things, I’m more of a get the govt out of the bedroom and the wallet kinda guy.

me: Watch me disagree with Glenn Greenwald on drones.

Ladd: Doesn’t mean I can’t be civil. Drones don’t bother me so much as the issue of whether the executive branch thinks they can pop off people w/out due process. Rand kinda doesn’t get his point across very well by tying it to those “DHS gonna killz ya” crowd

me: Oh, but for five minutes he’s Mr. Civil Rights. So how did you wind up doing the Peterson video, Les Phillips, Barber? How did you wind up with so many fans in Alabama?

Ladd: LOL I have fans in Alabama? I don’t think I have fans anywhere. But to answer your question I did a radio show on a lark, interviewed both Les and Dale for the show. Les Phillips asked me to do a video for him. And then Dale after that.

me: When did Dale Jackson decide not to like you?

Ladd: Ah probably when I started doing parodies of him.

me: How did you notice him?

Ladd: Oh! I was doing my first movie Flatland. Which involved me sitting at a computer 3D animating all day for months on end. Had to listen to something. So then I came up with my movie Hive Mind, which I guess was kinda born from my research on talk radio during Flatland. So I thought, hey, Hive Mind is a conservative(ish) movie, and they’re all about wanting to change the culture, right? So I asked him to help do some publicity for me. Gave him some money. Didn’t get much back PR wise.

me: I first became aware of Hive Mind in a sidebar ad on his blog

Ladd: Was pretty dissapointed in the conservative world’s reaction to the movie, which was to ignore, not even watch it. I didn’t have a celebrity in it I guess, which was a mistake. Hell that’s how I got into a fight with Breitbart.

me: Oh PLEASE tell me about your quarrel with Breitbart (grabs popcorn)

Ladd: Well it’s mostly my fault. But I didn’t start it. I tweeted something to him like “Hey, why not help out a conservative filmmaker! Take a look…” And with a link. This was after I sent tons of emails to various chattel-emails published. Y’know, press releases sent. And I had tweeted this to him after he’d just tweeted something about Charlie Sheen’s latest goof, I don’t know, maybe he’d locked a prostitute or something in a closet. Can’t remember. So his response was, “It’s not enough to be conservative, you have to be polite.” My response was something like, “So basically you’re saying your site on Hollywood is just about sniffing Michael Moore’s jockstrap for a living.” And boy did it go downhill from there.

me: TROLOLOLOL

Ladd: Before you knew it I was getting calls from other conservative filmmakers who felt the same way.

me: About Breitbart?

Ladd: Dude! All everyone ever does is bitch about the other side, and our films are dying over here!

me: That has got to be angry-making

Ladd: I think people expected Big Hollywood to not just bitch about “Hollywood” (whatever the hell THAT is), but to also help those trying to present an alternative. So yeah, there was disgruntlement, but it wasn’t entirely fair.

me: Victoria Jackson is not the best culture critic, is she?

Ladd: You mean the SNL girl?

me: Yeah, she blogged at Big Hollywood for a while

Ladd: Oh I didn’t know that.

me: “You can’t touch freedom but you can feel it!” Actual quote, I am not making this up

Ladd: Anyway, I say not entirely fair because it would be like a liberal attacking you for not writing up a post about their latest and greatest movie.

me: Right, but if I had a site dedicated to exposing conservative influence in Hollywood you’d think I would want to offer an alternative

Ladd: True. They’ve sorta moved in that direction these days, a bit. Problem is there really aren’t any conservative filmmakers. Most of them are really more libertarian.

me: Why is that, do you suppose?

Ladd: I think because most male and female filmmakers have no problem with scantily clad women. The more the merrier

me: Logical

Ladd: Which I guess is a snarky way of saying, you don’t want the damned government telling you what you can make a movie, video, etc about. Plus theaters make most of their money on the big gulps, so there’s that.

me: Right, the spectacle kind of overwhelms the art these days. So tell me about your approach to visual storytelling. For instance, are you the reason Dale Peterson was waving his Winchester around?

Ladd: Oh of course, I wanted him to wave around the gun John Wayne used. That was all about hitting that archetype. Funniest comment I ever read on the video was, I think, on Gawker. Single word. “Dad?”

me: LOL You know I mashed up that video, right?

Ladd: No shit? I had no idea. I saw the Funny or Die thing. “I put a slug in your head!” Where is it? Oh awesome checking it now. LOL “Obama will eat your children”

me: The funny thing is, your ad had an incredible online response – millions of views. Mine had a few thousand, but I still get fan mail from people who saw that video at Left In Alabama

Ladd: Yeah it’s too bad Ali got his claws into him and got him to do all those crap videos for Republican Governor’s Association.

me: Who, Peterson?

Ladd: At least I think that’s what happened, not sure. I was working for folks in California at the time, was kinda outta the loop. Never quite “got” the Tim James ads. Who’s the band?

me: Static-X

Ladd: Not bad, where are they from?

me: LA, I believe

Ladd: Dude’s got great “Eraserhead” hair

me: Irony: Artur Davis managed to piss off a majority of Alabama Democrats, couldn’t even muster a majority of AA votes, got butthurt and now he’s a Republican

Ladd: Haven’t really kept up with him much. My concern would be that the R’s will let him drop. In other words… The R’s have a tendency to say, “Go ahead and fall backwards, we’ll catch you.” and then you close your eyes expecting someone to catch you and BAM. Back of your head eats dirt.

me: So was it Peterson that Akbar got to do videos for the Republican Governors?

Ladd: Not entirely sure. Might be “wall” supposition on my part. Whoever did them, it was like someone pissing in my coffee.

me: But Peterson did videos?

Ladd: Total crap. Sure he was in some afterwards.

me: OK

Ladd: Some loser did them, tried to “ape” my style.

me: Instant karma

Ladd: Well, you know, my trolls of course say I’m “disgraced” GOP filmmaker, but I never worked for GOP.

me: We’re nearly at the two hour mark. are you still good?

Ladd: Sure, I’m just animating.

me: So tell me about Hive Mind. I saw it described as Rush Limbaugh alone in a world of naked people. What was your creative vision there?

Ladd: To pit pure collectivism against conservativism

me: Pure anything is a dangerous proposition in politics

Ladd: Yes, sort of a “reductio ad absurdum” film. The Hive Mind zombies are one giant brain created by iPhone technology gone bad. For the good of the environment, they kill off all the men in the Hive because men use more calories than women. They then go around destroying all technology, because that’s bad for mother Earth. Meanwhile conservative talk show host Doug Trench, aka The Trench Mouth, has been holed up in a bunker for twenty years.

me: “I Am Legend” LOL

Ladd: Turns on his radio transmitter after twenty years, to do one last show, one last fling. But really it’s to commit suicide because the Hive will track him down on his signal. So the movie’s his last show.

me: I haven’t seen it, but from what you’ve described I imagine it kind of bookends “The Age of Stupid”

Ladd: In a way – I was also thinking of “Childhood’s End” by Arthur C. Clarke

me: You have made me want to see this movie

Ladd: LOL I guess you don’t want to sniff Michael Moore’s jockstrap for a living. “I am outrageously outraged at the latest outrage from Michael Moore!”

me: Nah – he’s a fine propagandist, I’ve enjoyed his work, but I don’t consider him anything more than that

Ladd: “I will hereby write an outraged post and spread my outrage at Michael Moore to the four corners of the planet, for I am outraged and also need web hits!” Yeah, and really propaganda is pretty damned boring when you get down to it. I would never make a documentary. Come here, choir! Let me preach to you!

me: Right, art is far more powerful as propaganda – and I use the term in its neutral sense here

Ladd: Well you know there’s a difference I think, it’s a fine one. For instance the ads I did are propaganda. They’re commercials. Period. Same as any other.

me: Of course, and I don’t say they’re propaganda to bust them down

Ladd: I gotchya. And art isn’t about pushing a point of view. An artist can have a POV, but it’s not about that so much. I get disappointed in filmmakers who try to “push it” – to coin a phrase from your mashup – in their art. I mean seriously, who gives a shit if Shakespeare was a royalist or not?

me: What I mean is that “Gone With The Wind” has misinformed several generations of Americans about the Civil War/Reconstruction South

Ladd: Oh I see what you mean.

me: It’s had greater power than any propaganda movie

Ladd: Yeah — not my favorite film though. I’m more of a Hitchcock – Welles – Peckinpah – Scott kinda guy

me: Now you’re talking

Ladd: Truffaut. Thought Gone With the Wind was pure tripe. Scott for instance slips a bit into propaganda in his lesser movies.

me: Or a TV show like “24” can convince millions of Americans that torture “works” – if that was true, it would be used in every American police station. You get my point

Ladd: Oh yes. Never really watched 24, seemed very repetitive to me.

me: So when you say “pure collectivism,” what does that mean?

Ladd: Well isn’t that what a hive mind is?

me: Go on

Ladd: One thought, one mind, all for the common good. Collectivism in the Randian sense.

me: Are you a Rand devotee?

Ladd: Meh.

me: Atlas Sucked.

Ladd: She had her moments but she was not a good writer. I do believe that man does not exist to serve the state. Yeah the movie was atrocious too. You’d think if you’re going to do a movie on John Galt you’d get, y’know, a JOHN GALT director. Howard f’ing Roarke. I’m watching and thinking, jesus, this guy doesn’t even know how to block actors in an office set. I mean, this if f’cking awkward. There’s a desk and two people talking. This is not even chess here.

me: I spotted that, and when I can see that with a High School drama class education you are a bad director

Ladd: By the end when Dagny screams “NOOO” it was like watching Bender from Futurama

me: My favorite moment: the train going through vaginaesque bridge supports

Ladd: Here, stand there and say “Noooo.” But don’t show any emotions. Because Dagny. Because you are objectivist! Yeah WTF on the train shots? Look at all the pretty trees! Trees! Because as we all know, Rand was about trees.

me: So what’s your current project?

Ladd: I’m working on a couple of things. Have my eye on Von Braun since my old stomping grounds venerated the creep so bad.

me: Huntsville AL?

Ladd: Yeah, used to live there. It’s a great area. The whole “Von Braun” thing is very interesting, since he kinda built that area. Ever been to The Ledges? Architecture is like Eva and Adolf’s love shack. They shoulda called it the Eagle’s Nest.

me: It was more Goebels than Gropius

Ladd: BWAHAHAHAHA Poor Gropius, Frank Lloyd Wright despised him. Here’s a guy who was stacking bodies up like cordwood outside Mittlewerks to build his V2. Total Faust character. Total.

me: So you’re going to let air out of his bubble? I always expected that would happen one day

Ladd: Yeah I’ve been doing serious research on him, the book “Nazi Rocketeers” is very illuminating. So here’s a guy trying to use Hitler to get to space. Slaughtering people left and right. Ends up on the Disney Show! Wooo!

me: So is this a full-length script? I’m very interested in your premise

Ladd: Yeah I’m considering a feature on him. No sense in doing shorts, they don’t make money. All they’re good for is youTube dollars.

me: Please let me know if this happens

Ladd: Sure! Oh and I forgot, is there anything else you want to ask on all the nontroversies? Kinda got sidetracked.

me: Well, is there anything else you’d like to tell me about Ali Akbar?

Ladd: I think the thing people don’t get is that sociopaths are very good at wrapping people into their worldview.

me: BINGO. Do go on

Ladd: I think we are dealing with multiple people on both sides with this condition. Sociopaths tend to use the tactic called “gaslighting.”

me: I’m aware of the term

Ladd: So for instance a criminal record is minimized. Or not spoken of until a person is already in the gaslight fog. And I’m seeing some of that on your side too, not just mine. Note I used air quotes around sides.

me: Probing question: in your opinion, how much of the Kimberlin mania is driven by Akbar’s sociopathy? My question applies to the group around him

Ladd: Hmmm, that’s a good question. Not much actually. How do I put this.

me: I think what I’m getting at is, you said sociopaths are good at wrapping others into their world – how does that manifest with Akbar?

Ladd: People are legitimately afraid of the guy. I don’t think there’s much gaslighting necessary for that. I think it manifests in people being gaslit into thinking, oh he’s an okay guy, hey, you can’t talk out about him, he’s got all these connections! In other words — people don’t want to speak out publicly against Ali being in politics because of the gaslighting. When in fact the support may be wide, but very very shallow.

me: “We have to stand by him because he’s on our side”?

Ladd: Yes that too, of course. But if you get past that gaslighting element, you have to deal with the other elements.

me: Can you elaborate? On those other elements?

Ladd: Sure, you have to worry about your CCRAP Bwog Bash ID being wevoked. Being blacklisted.

me: Aha

Ladd: Being shunned by your peers. Boo hoo. People will talk about me behind my back! Wahhhh!

me: I think I understand why we’re getting along here. I don’t like the taste of ass no matter which cheek I’m asked to taste, left or right

Ladd: Yeah, I don’t bow down to anyone. So there’s a lotta that gaslighting going on. I got into politics because I believed in the supremacy of the individual over the collective, and I still do. Why would I throw that out the window? For a CCRAP party? To get more work? To gladhand a politician or get a picture of myself with one? Pthth. Fuck that.

me: Interesting how collectivism can exist within conservative/libertarian politics

Ladd: Groupthink is everywhere, it’s a part of human nature, but doesn’t mean we have to succumb to it. Which is partly why I bashed Twitter so hard in Hive Mind. Group think medium. So what’s your conclusion on all of this?

me: I think Twitter is the closest mankind has come to a hivemind

Ladd: Oh yes.

me: And I think that your gaslighting theme does help explain the Kremlinology of Akbar etc

Ladd: Yes – but note it also explains yours.

me: Oh, trust me, I am well aware of it. Ask me sometime about what happened when I wrote about Jane Hamsher

Ladd: This ridiculous “everybody Akbar ever worked with is eeevil eeevil” is just as silly. Blame a gaslight victim for being gaslit? Believe you me, if I’d known then what I know NOW? What it does is have the opposite effect. Bees run back to hive and huddle!

me: Like Hamsherites attacking me for a week when I asked “what did Jane do with all that PAC money?”

Ladd: I mean seriously what politician in their right mind sits around thinking, gee, you know who I should get to put my website up, set up my donation pages? That dude convicted of credit card theft!

me: I’d ask them to set aside loyalty & use their brains, they would denounce & block me in response

Ladd: Oh I believe it! How dare you ask a question. That’s your hive, dude!

me: Don’t I know it (rolls eyes)

Ladd: So I don’t know Bostic from Adam, but I would throw down $500 on a bet that he had no idea Akbar was a credit card thief. That’s like the safest bet I could possibly make.

me: That’s another thing, Breitbart didn’t vet any of his people – that seems to be epidemic on “your side”

Ladd: Otherwise the guy is so stupid he needs someone to put his pants on him in the morning. Well look there’s vetting and then there’s vetting.

me: It happens on my side, but look at how we’re vetting Unite Blue these days

Ladd: If all of a sudden all these people are saying Dude X is the best thing since sliced bread, and you trust those people, you go with it.

me: True

Ladd: Especially in a campaign – things are hectic, time is burning, you gotta GET THAT WEBSITE UP. First time candidates are especially naive.

me: In this case, a volunteer staffer has fallen on his sword over the Akbar hire

Ladd: Could be falling on sword, could be true. I don’t know. Inclined to believe they had no idea, since no one came up to me and said, uhm, hey, that guy who’s spreading all that shit on your client? Yeah, he’s a convicted felon. Gaslighting! Someone who’s repentant, they make it the first thing out of their mouths. Doesn’t happen here because NO POLITICIAN hires a convicted felon. Period. No one.

me: So what’s your opinion of Robert Stacy McCain? He seems to be tight with Akbar these days

Ladd: Stacy’s very upfront about what he does and how he does it. I have no beef with someone who’s been gaslit. He’s a tip jar guy, he rattles it, and makes no bones about that.

me: I wanted to ask you about one other topic from left field.

Ladd: Sure.

me: Have you ever heard of Tom Ryan @TomRyanBlog?

Ladd: Isn’t he the guy who did the asian chick prank on intel people or something?

me: Yes

Ladd: What about him? He’s wrapped up in this crap too somehow?

me: You interviewed Dan Wolfe @patriotusa1776 a while back during Wienergate – I ran across that post recently

Ladd: Yes.

me: Did your gut tell you that anything was wrong with that interview?

Ladd: Oh hell yes. The motivation on maintaining anonymity was horseshit. I didn’t buy that for a damned second. Very bad lie. If you’re asking if I think I know who Dan Wolfe was, I have my suspicions, but they don’t really go towards Asian chick dude.

me: Interesting. Who do you think it was?

Ladd: In this it’s all about motivation. First, I think all those goons who are still pushing the “Weiner was hacked” meme are paid to do so. That’s so obvious it’s just silly. If you can spend $100k in polling data to see if you have any shot at NY Mayor, you can buy goons to talk about how “Weiner Wuz Hack by Andy!” crap all day.

me: Here’s the thing: it can be true that Wiener sent dick pics and it can also be true that he was hacked. Hardly anyone actually pushes the denialist line anymore. If I had the ability to hack the accounts of a target and see what was in there before publicizing his dick pics, I would do it

Ladd: Well if Weiner says he wasn’t I’ll take his word. The dude is stupid, but he’s not dumb.

me: Point, but my point here is that they aren’t mutually exclusive truths

Ladd: Also, if he was hacked, then the FBI would’ve been all over it. Congressman hacked? That’s a big deal. So here’s what I think it was motivation wise.

me: Yes

Ladd: It was, basically, a @Shoq op. Except on the other side. In other words, it didn’t start out as some conspiracy to hack the Weiner pricktures. It was a freakin’ social-media political campaign operation

me: Thank you. We are actually not worlds apart here

Ladd: You hire a few kids to tweet about what a creep Weiner was. You get those kids to make friends. You form groups like BornFreeCrew. You do hashtags. You do things like notice if he’s following some young hot chicks. You @ tweet the chicks, you stir things up. Happens all the time! Hell your guys do it and are, in fact, better at it these days.

me: LOL I’m not going to argue with that. And I’m not saying that with pride

Ladd: So they were trying to get him to hit on some fake chicks (Betty and Veronica) when they got impatient and wanted to see something really happen. Then out of the blue, Weiner gives them the sword – so to speak. The only reason they did the interview w/me and VerumSerum and those other folks was because Weiner looked for a while as if he wasn’t going to resign. Then he resigned and you know what they did? Turned off the lights and got gigs on other campaigns.

me: That’s the most curious thing – they spent some time “investigating” those sockpuppet people at Patterico

Ladd: All these goons running around trying to find Dan Wolfe, going after Stack, blah blah, it’s so freaking stupid.

me: It was almost like the puppet show was continued solely in order to distract from the fact that an op had just taken place It is stupid, and I suspect it was deliberately stupid

Ladd: Yeah, I’m pretty the “chase” part of the story is engineered for $$. Pretty sure

me: Blog hits and $$$

Ladd: No. $100k in polling data to see if Weiner can be mayor.

me: I see what you mean

Ladd: $k here and $k there to see if he can be resurrected. If you’ve got Lex Luthor out there ready to pounce on you with pricktures, better go out and find him and get rid of him. The rest is just human nature. Seriously, do the math. Who doesn’t want Weiner to run for Mayor or New York? That’s quite a few people, but who really really really doesn’t want that.

me: Thing is, I’ve seen the same techniques used again – badly – by some of the same people who were in the sockpuppet chase

Ladd: How do you mean?

me: The sockpuppet harassment of Bill Schmalfeldt recently. The smearing of @Shoq. “Randy” with his Hootsuite, Stranahan grabbing the spotlight again

Ladd: Oh! I don’t think those are much related actually.

me: So you’ll understand that my interest in Wienergate is really about studying those other events. They aren’t related, but I see some of the same players with the same strategies

Ladd: Well same strategies don’t always = same players

me: Of course not. But Wiener was a successful op, therefore it will have imitators

Ladd: Hell there are some people on “my” side that think Dan Wolfe was run by Leon Panetta! How does that work?

me: That’s hysterical!

Ladd: Yes yes because Leon knew that Tony was in the study with his candlestick hanging out!

me: LOL

Ladd: No man it was a NY local politics operation. Not to quote DeNiro but “I heard tings, I heard tings”

me: Well we’re right at 3.5 hours, I have to go pick up a rabbit from the vet shortly. Can we do this again soon?

Ladd: Sure man, let me know when you post. I’ll be here workin on animations

me: Thanks for the interview, it has been fun and illuminating

Ladd: Sure! Don’t be afraid to shout over the wall

me: You will hear me

Ladd: Cool, later!

Answering a follow-up question by email yesterday, Ehlinger said that Akbar’s name has gained the wrong kind of currency in Republican circles:

There are quite a few people who have been stepping away, and several people who have already “stood up” in one form or fashion. Just because something didn’t happen on Twitter, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Ali likes screwing people over, which ultimately just increases the ranks of the Anti-Ali crowd.

His M.O. is ultimately self-defeating.

I do not expect there to be some dramatic “have you no shame, Senator?” moment where suddenly everyone leaps back and those who were opposed to Ali get a standing ovation, like the end of Star Wars. No. It will most likely just be a dwindling of friends and clients until he moves on to new territory. Like running a Euro-disco, which I think he is uniquely qualified for.

But there is no “end game” here. Unless, of course, he goes to jail for fraud, misappropriation of funds, that kind of thing. I think there’s plenty of fertile territory there for someone to investigate.

But there’s another side-note to consider. If the actual aim of “your side” was to expose Ali, they’re doing a very poor job of it. All they’re really doing is making it harder for people to speak out, for fear that they will be branded as part of “Team BK.”

I rather suspect some are purposely slowing down the natural process of people figuring out Ali’s game. As I recall, there were some Democrats who wished that Newt Gingrich had not resigned from Congress, so they could have a polarizing figure to attack Republicans with.

Many of these crocodile tears from your side of the wall over Ali are just that, IMO.

Socialize this!