Friday, August 19, 2011

More on the New York Times attack on Darrell Issa and egg-sucking dogs, two not-entirely-unrelated subjects. Advice to Lichtblau: Stay out of MS.

It is a fact of common knowledge that when a dog has once acquired the habit of egg-sucking there is no available way by which he may be broken of it, and that there is no calculable limit to his appetite in the indulgence of the habitual propensity. And generally he has a sufficient degree of intelligence that he will commit the offense, and return to it upon every clear opportunity, in such a stealthy way that he can seldom be caught in the act itself. -- Mississippi Supreme Court, Hull v. Scruggs, 2 So.2d 543, 1941.

At 8:45 Eastern this morning I received this press release:

August 19, 2011

Contact: Frederick Hill 202-225-0037


Citing 13 Erroneous Statements, Issa Demands NY Times Retract Error-Ridden Front Page Story

WASHINGTON. D.C. – The office of Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Vista, CA), Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has formally requested that the New York Times issue a front-page retraction for an error-filled article entitled, “Helping His District, and Himself.”

The New York Times has so far issued one correction and is reviewing other errors cited by Rep. Issa’s office and the request for the retraction. It has promised to respond.

Below is the formal request for a retraction sent by Rep. Issa’s office yesterday to editors of The New York Times:

On behalf of Rep. Darrell Issa, please accept this as a formal request for a full front page retraction, including the headline, “Helping His District, and Himself,” that ran in the Monday, August 15 edition of the New York Times. The request for a full front page retraction is based on numerous errors that invalidate the primary assertions made in the story that is a false and sensationalized account Rep. Issa’s efforts to conduct congressional oversight of the Obama Administration and other matters.

This request is being sent after New York Times reporter, Eric Lichtblau, who wrote the story, refused to share the contact information of his editors for a discussion of errors in the story as requested by Rep. Issa’s congressional office.

The central claim in the New York Times story is an allegation of self-dealing on the part of Rep. Darrell Issa, as the story describes, “with at least some of the congressman’s actions helping to make a rich man richer” and “specific actions that appear to have clearly benefited his businesses.”

The New York Times story cites three central examples it believes justifies these allegations:

* A medical complex purchased by Rep. Issa in 2008 that the Times story alleges enjoyed a 60 percent appreciation as it increased in value from $10.3 million to $16.6 million, “at least in part because of the government-sponsored road work” that Rep. Issa supported.

* That he “went easy” on Toyota during 2010 hearings on unintended acceleration due to “his electronics company’s role as a major supplier of alarms to Toyota.”

* An alleged 1900 percent profit Rep. Issa’s charitable foundation made on an investment of “less that $19,000” that was sold seven months later for $357,000 “months before the stock market crashed.”

All central examples, however, are wildly inaccurate, and the truth deserves to be told.

* The medical complex the Times story alleges enjoyed a 60 percent appreciation since it was purchased for $10.3 million and is now valued at $16.6 million is a patently false claim. According to the buyer’s final settlement statement, the property in question was not purchased for $10.3 million as the New York Times reported but for $16.6 million – the exact same figure of its current tax assessment. According to these numbers, the appreciation is not 60 percent but roughly zero. In addition, the government sponsored road work noted in the article has not even begun and Rep. Issa’s requests for the project (which were publicly announced and made on behalf of and at the request of the City of Vista, and the San Diego Association of Governments which is the regional transportation planning authority) all came before the 2009 property purchase.

* The allegation that Rep. Issa “went easy” on Toyota during 2010 hearings because of “his electronics company’s role as a major supplier of alarms to Toyota” is again an example of a factual error in the Times story that lends no support to the story’s central premise. While the Times story tells readers that Rep. Issa’s former company, Directed Electronics, is a “major supplier of alarms to Toyota,” the story offers no evidence, and Directed Electronics is, in fact, not a supplier to Toyota. The New York Times also fails to note that Rep. Issa does not have a personal financial interest in Directed Electronics.

* The “1,900 percent” profit allegation is, again, based on reporting errors by the New York Times. This is assertion is based on an incorrect form obtained by the Times. According to a financial transaction record, the Issa Family Foundation’s initial investment in the AIM Small Company fund was not $19,000 but $500,000. The asset was later sold for $375,000 resulting in a $125,000 loss – not a 1900 percent gain as was reported.

In addition, the lede line of the Times story – an attempt by the New York Times to foreshadow a corporate image of Rep. Issa’s congressional office – contains a factual inaccuracy in introducing intentionally distorted imagery. The story begins, "Here on the third floor of a gleaming office building overlooking a golf course in the rugged foothills north of San Diego, Darrell Issa, the entrepreneur, oversees the hub of a growing financial empire worth hundreds of millions of dollars." As this video shows, however, the office building located at 1800 Thibodo Rd. in Vista does not overlook a golf course.

Because of these errors, and another error the New York Times did correct that grossly exaggerated the value of some holdings held by Rep. Issa, the following lines in the New York Times original story that ran August 15 are incorrect or made on baseless assertions:

* The title, “Helping His District and Himself” implies that Rep. Issa has engaged in self-dealing. The only evidence the story offers for this assertion are factually flawed assertions.

* The lede, “Here on the third floor of a gleaming office building overlooking a golf course in the rugged foothills north of San Diego, Darrell Issa, the entrepreneur, oversees the hub of a growing financial empire worth hundreds of millions of dollars.” The building where Rep. Issa’s office is located does not overlook a golf course as the reporter Eric Lichtblau implies he personally observed.

* “Mr. Issa has … split a holding company into separate multibillion-dollar businesses.” Rep. Issa does not own a single multi-billion business (The Times has issued a correction for this error).

* “As his private wealth and public power have grown, so too has the overlap between his private and business lives, with at least some of the congressman’s government actions helping to make a rich man even richer and raising the potential for conflicts.” The only examples the New York Times raises of Rep. Issa’s public actions benefiting his private holdings are the erroneous examples previously noted.

* “In one case, more than $800,000 in earmarks he arranged will help widen a busy thoroughfare in front of a medical plaza he bought for $10.3 million.” The story erroneously reports the property’s purchase price which was, in fact, $16.6 million. It also fails to mention that at the time he sought funding for his district he did not own this property.

* “At the same time, the value of the medical complex and other properties has soared, at least in part because of the government-sponsored roadwork.” The roadwork in question has not begun and, as noted previously, the New York Times’ assertion that the value of the medical complex has “soared” is based on false information. The Times’ statement also conflicts with the statement of a quoted source in the story, Dean Tilton the local commercial property broker, who describes this as the worst market in twenty years. The Times suggests road projects miles away from those owned by Rep. Issa benefit him. By this logic, wouldn’t the entire area be booming as a result of Rep. Issa’s earmarks?

* “But beyond specific actions that appear to have clearly benefited his businesses, Mr. Issa’s interests are so varied that some of the biggest issues making their way through Congress affect him in some way.” The New York Times fails to provide accurate examples of “specific actions that appear to have clearly benefited his businesses.”

* “After the forced sale of Merrill Lynch in 2008, for instance, he publicly attacked the Treasury Department’s handling of the deal without mentioning that Merrill had handled hundreds of millions of dollars in investments for him and lent him many millions more.” The New York Times fails to note that Rep. Issa’s transactions with Merrill Lynch have been appropriately disclosed in his annual ethics filing.

* “In Mr. Issa’s case, it is sometimes difficult to separate the business of Congress from the business of Darrell Issa.” Again, the New York Times story fails to provide factually accurate examples for this assertion.

* “Then, Mr. Issa brushed aside suggestions that his electronics company’s role as a major supplier of alarms to Toyota made him go easy on the automaker as he led an investigation into the recalls.” Rep. Issa’s former company is not a supplier to Toyota.

* “In one 2008 sale, months before the stock market crashed, his family foundation earned $357,000 on an initial investment of less than $19,000 — a return of nearly 1,900 percent in just seven months, the foundation reported to the Internal Revenue Service.” This assertion is based on an incorrect document. The actual purchase price was not $19,000, but $500,000 and resulted in a $125,000 loss.

* “That suggests the foundation may have acquired the shares from a third-party broker.” This assertion is based on the false 1900 percent claim.

* “Mr. Issa is keenly interested in Goldman’s performance.” This statement lacks a basis in fact as Rep. Issa does not have investments dependent on Goldman Sach’s performance.

I appreciate your attention to these thirteen errors contained in the August 15 story and look forward to hearing your response to our request for a front-page retraction of the story due to the inaccuracies that fully undermine the premise of the article.

You know, maybe Lichtblau ain't a lickspittler, maybe he's just another liberal egg-suckin' dog. Or, more likely, maybe he's both. In any case, he should probably stay out of Mississippi. It's legal to shoot egg-suckin' dogs in that state:

When a dog of that character has for three weeks taken up his abode upon the premises of one not his owner, or else from time to time during the course of such a period and from day to day as well as often during the night, has returned to and entered upon the premises of one not his owner, and has destroyed and continued to destroy all the eggs of the fowls kept by the owner of the premises, what shall the victimized owner of the premises do? Nobody will contend that he shall be obliged to forego the privilege to own and keep fowls and to obtain and have the eggs which they lay; nor will it be contended that he is obliged to build extra high fences, so high as to keep out the trespassing dog, even if fences could be so built. The premises and its privileges belong to the owner thereof, not to the dog.

He must then, as the most that could be required of him, take one or the other, and when necessary all, of the three following courses: (1) He must use reasonable efforts to drive the dog away and in such appropriate manner as will probably cause him to stay away; or (2) he must endeavor to catch the dog and confine him to be dealt with in a manner which we do not enter upon because not here before us; or (3) he must make reasonable efforts to ascertain and notify the owner of the dog, so that the latter may have opportunity to take the necessary precautions by which to stop the depredations. It is undisputed in this record that the owner of the premises resorted in a reasonably diligent manner and for a sufficient length of time to each and all of the three foregoing courses of action, but his reasonable efforts in that pursuit resulted, every one of them, in failure.

What else was there reasonably left but to kill the animal? There was nothing else; and we reject the contention, which seems to be the main ground taken by appellee, that admitting all that has been said, the dog could not lawfully be killed except while in the actual commission of the offense. This is a doctrine which applies in many if not most cases, but is not available under facts such as presented by this record. After such a period of habitual depredations as shown in this case, and having taken the alternative steps aforementioned, the owner of the premises is not required to wait and watch with a gun until he can catch the predatory dog in the very act. Such a dog would be far more watchful than would the watcher himself, and the depredation would not occur again until the watcher had given up his post and had gone about some other task, but it would then recur, and how soon would be a mere matter of opportunity. -- Mississippi Supreme Court, ibid.


Bob said...

That took me back to childhood. I'll break you of sucking eggs was one of my father's favorite sayings, and I've been known to use it myself on occasion.

Bad Cyborg said...

Here are Johnny Cash and the Muppets performing Lichtblaus's theme song.

Kinda catchy, ain't it?

Anonymous said...

the times is a well known scum sucking, lying, commie propaganda rag and they always try to harm good men.only a left wing fool would believe any thing written in the nyt and this calumny about issa is a perfect example. as far as the Toyota run a way's all of those so called run aways were all found to be driver error.the whole thing was an obama administrations attempt to discredit a competitor to government did not work any more than gunrunner will work for the government gun grabbers.

Anonymous said...

Let's not lose sight of the fact that Issa is a politician....and therefore is not to be trusted. IMO, he is involved in Gunwalker b/c it gives him publicity as the slayer of big government dragons and damages the opposing party.

This ^ story doesn't put Issa in a very good light either.

W W Woodward said...

"Egg sucking dog" - I thought that was a west Texas colloquialism.

About not having a cure for the malady. I beg to differ. My Dad, back in the middle 40's had a cure for egg sucking dogs - a .30 M-1 Carbine.

"Lyin' like an egg suckin' dawg" Thanks, Mike for jogging the memory.


John Richardson said...

Lichtblau as a suck-egg biscuit eater? That is just too funny for words.

Anonymous said...

I think it is irresponsible and wrong of you to subtly imply that Lichtblau might be in personal danger in Mississippi. The random violent crime rate in New York is much higher.

Mark Matis said...

For Anonymous at 12:36 PM:
I believe that Mr. Vanderboegh is implying that, while there WOULD be violence, it would not be a crime. THAT is the difference betwixt Mississippi and New Jork.