Friday, April 29, 2011


(NOTE: The clip of the Allred press conference initially posted below was taken down by YouTube due to copyright violations by the user in unrelated videos. It has been replaced by the story as it aired on the weekday TMZ syndicated show.)

The Inglorious Barrister strikes again.

In case you're not a baseball fan and haven't heard the news, here's a quick recap:

  • On Saturday, April 23, 2011, 33-year-old Justin Quinn, father and fan of The 2010 World Champion San Francisco Giants, drove from Fresno to San Francisco with his adorable nine-year-old twin daughters to watch a game between the Atlanta Braves and The World Champion San Francisco Giants (it never gets old!) at AT&T Park.
  • The Quinns arrive early enough to watch the Braves take batting practice and warm-ups, and take their place in the front row of the left field bleachers hoping to catch balls hit over the fence.  As some Braves players go about their preparation on the field, some Giants fans heckle them.
  • In response, Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell -- a retired player and member of the legendary pitching staff of the 1986 World Champion New York Mets -- heckles back, in "homophobic" terms.  In the course of profanely accusing three male hecklers as being a "homo" "threesome," he makes an obscene gesture with a baseball bat and his fingers meant to signify sexual penetration.
  • Mr. Quinn, who is not McDowell's target, objected to obscene words spoken and suggestive gestures being performed in the presence of his children (or anybody's, for that matter).
  • McDowell responds by telling Quinn that children don't have any [bleep]ing business being at the ball park, and wielding a bat menacingly, asked Quinn how much he thought he teeth were worth.
  • Quinn notified AT&T Park security, who aided him in making a complaint about McDowell's abusive behavior.

So far, I'm with Mr. Quinn. He had a perfect right to expect ballplayers and coaches to act professionally and responsibly, even in the face of heckling, and especially in the presence of children.  One never goes to the ballpark expecting that a coach will threaten bodily injury while holding a baseball bat (even if it's just for show). On top of that, it's difficult to believe that McDowell -- who pitched in the Majors for twelve seasons -- could have been reacting that day to something he hadn't been subjected to at Shea Stadium in New York, Fenway Park in Boston (his Mets defeated the Red Sox in the '86 Series), Philadelphia's infamous Veterans Stadium (where football fans once booed Santa Claus and pelted him with snowballs), or the Giants' old stomping ground, Candlestick Park, not a friendly place for Dodgers pitchers. 

But then, for reasons that are at the moment still a mystery, celebrity attorney Gloria Allred pops up out of nowhere into the situation -- with Quinn, his wife (?) and his pre-pubescent girls in tow -- in her natural habitat: Before a bank of microphones with clicking cameras and bright flashes popping.

What happens next would be unbelievable if you had put it in a screenplay.

From TMZ (a site that I hate, but that had the most complete video):

Allred, seated at a table with a baseball bat in front of her and flanked by the Quinn twins as if they were bookends, recounted McDowell's crude sexual remarks.  As the girls sat and looked at her with rapt attention, Allred spoke of how McDowell was at one point "thrusting his hips forward and backward in a sexual manner..." She said that McDowell AND the Atlanta Braves ought to be fined, suspended, and made to apologize to the Quinn family.

Quinn, taking his turn with his prepared statement, then claimed that in addition to being offended and disgusted, he actually felt threatened, saying he didn't know if McDowell was going to attack him with the bat.  He added that he thought about Brian Stow, the Giants fan who is still in an induced coma after nearly being beaten to death in Dodger Stadium's parking lot on March 31.

At this point, I have to call BalderdaSh on Quinn (the kiddies, y'know).  The outfield walls in AT&T Park are eight feet high in center and left field. The 50-year-old McDowell would have to be an Olympic high-jumper if he wanted to be able to reach Quinn unless he leaned over the fence. All Quinn would have to do is back up out of the front row if he felt like his choppers were actually in danger.  I find it difficult to believe that a guy in Quinn's shape truly feared he would be physically harmed by McDowell.

The twin girls then read their own prepared statements ("I hope that you never go to a baseball game where you were in a bad situation like I was," one read).  And finally, to demonstrate exactly what obscene gesture McDowell made, she held the fat end of the bat, papa Quinn formed a circle with his fingers, and she started sliding the bat back and forth.  Back and forth.  Back and forth.

Then Allred started to put the bat down.  But apparently, someone in the pool of photogs didn't get the shot.  She lifted the bat back up, and Quinn prepared his fingers.  Back and forth.  Back and forth.

Right in front of the daughters.

McDowell issued a statement apologizing within minutes of the press conference's end:
"I am deeply sorry that I responded to the heckling fans in San Francisco.  I apologize to everyone for my actions."
The Braves management issued a statement:
“We were made aware of an incident in San Francisco this past Saturday. We are concerned by these allegations and the behavior described by a witness today. This in no way represents the Braves organization and the conduct we expect of our employees. We will withhold further comments until we finish gathering information.”
(I have just gotten the word that McDowell has been "placed on administrative leave" pending an investigation by the Braves. That sounds like a suspension, but isn't really.  We'll eventually find out whether that's good or bad news for him.)

Bud Selig, IMHO the 2nd worst commissioner in Major League Baseball history, issued a statement of his own:
“I was informed today that Roger McDowell, a coach of the Atlanta Braves, is being accused of engaging in highly inappropriate conduct toward fans at a game in San Francisco. Although I do not yet have all the facts regarding this incident, the allegations are very troubling to me. The Atlanta Braves have assured my office that they will immediately investigate the allegations, and report the results of the investigation to me. After I have all the facts, I will make a determination of how to proceed.”
If you know Allred as well as I do, you know that only one shoe has thusfar dropped.  The second one is going to be the one that either shakes loose some cash, shakes up the political world, or both.  Quinn says he's not gay, but hates discrimination, and wants to teach his young girls to stand up against it.  Maybe so, but I tend to think he's not putting himself out there before the globe without thinking that with Allred on board, there's some gold at the end of that rainbow (minus her share).  It certainly seems to me that a good father wouldn't want to subject his young daughters to that terrible, awful, vulgar stuff over and over and over and over and over again.  Not for nothing, anyway.

We'll see.

My reaction below is to the report on the website of KNTV in San Jose,, recounting the report on the controversy broadcast April 28. Apparently, in the original version of the report, Allred was referred to as "infamous." The first person commenting via Facebook wrote: "Where does this writer get off dismissing Gloria Alred as 'infamous?'" This is how I replied.
The article above no longer refers to Allred as "infamous." But I will. She's a high-profile ambulance chaser who doesn't care as much about the law as she does trying to extract large amounts of money out of famous and/or rich people by embarrassing them on a large multimedia stage.

For example: She was able to get $10 million out of Tiger Woods in exchange for the silence of one of his mistresses, skank-to-the-stars Rachel Uchitel. What did Uchitel do to earn that money besides mess with a married celebrity? Nothing. Woods did nothing illegal, just immoral, but so did Uchitel, so what principle was Allred serving besides lining her own pocket? She tried to pull the same trick (pun intended) with a porn star who played a few rounds with Tiger, but he refused.
More recently, in October 2010, Allred represented illegal immigrant Nicky Diaz Santillian, the former housekeeper of billionaire GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman. At stake this time for Allred wasn't money, it was something that money couldn't buy -- free bad publicity for a political opponent. Diaz *admitted* she gave her employment agency falsified legal documents to qualify for work in California. With polls showing Whitman and Democrat retread Jerry Brown in a dead heat, Allred held one of her trademark press conferences. Sounding much like the cleaning woman [in] the "The Red Dot" episode of "Seinfeld," 

Diaz tearfully and dramatically read a prepared statement while sitting beside Allred, moaning about how difficult it was to be an immigrant cleaning house and running errands for the demanding Whitman (not mentioning her otherworldly pay rate of $23/hr).

Diaz said she was stressed out by the work she did for Whitman. How badly stressed? She worked for her for *nine years,* before Whitman got word that Diaz was illegal and fired her. Truth was, there was no way that Whitman and her husband could have known Diaz was illegal, since the reputable agency through which they hired Diaz was the victim of her scam. In addition, when a notice arrived at the Whitman residence suggesting that Diaz's SSN was errant, they left it up to her to resolve, trusting her integrity and believing it was a clerical error.

Whitman ended up losing to Brown largely due to the stunt, which sullied her name among Hispanic voters whose main source of news is Spanish-language media. In the end, Diaz & Allred never sued Whitman for being abusive (and certainly didn't want her to be charged for hiring an illegal), only failure to reimburse Diaz for overtime and mileage. Her somewhat trivial legal complaint was simply a conduit through which Whitman could be portrayed to undecided voters as an evil hypocrite.
Diaz settled in late November for a piddling $5500, with the stipulation the Whitman household admitted no wrongdoing. Only after that was it revealed what everybody who was really paying attention already knew: Diaz, disgruntled after being fired, had been steered to Allred by union allies of the Brown campaign.

One would be naive to believe that the 4-figure settlement was the extent of her compensation.
This raises the question, how did Justin Quinn, a supposedly unassuming father of 9-year-old twin girls from Fresno, get involved with a superstar Southern California celebrity attorney who is, yes, infamous for being a puppeteer to sympathetic victims for mutual financial benefit? He doesn't say, and nobody seems to be asking (nice job, Suzanne Shaw). But he's asking for the weight of the world to come down on Roger McDowell, whose actions were inexcusable and outrageous for a person who was not assumed to be drunk.

 NOTE: He is responding to non-audible questions.

Quinn ideally wants McDowell to resign, and for Major League Baseball and the S.F. District Attorney to get involved. Seems to be a negotiating tactic, IMHO. Key phrase in the NBC11 interview of Quinn via Skype: "I don't know what can bring that moment back for me as a parent."

I'm sure Gloria can think of $omething.

Tell me what you think.  Please add your comment below. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Below is my reaction to a piece written for The Root, a blog dedicated to African-American issues. Naturally, the overwhelming majority of its content (as in everything I've ever read on it) is pro-Democrat and anti-Republican, and really anti-Tea Party.

The dismissal of Andrew Breitbart from the Huffington Post after a campaign by the leftist organization Color of Change (most famous for targeting Glenn Beck for boycott and cancellation after his remark accusing President Obama of not liking white people) has been a hot topic of late. Breitbart was vilified already for his role in the exposure of ACORN and especially for his's thorough investigative reporting about the Pigford Farms settlement, which I wrote about briefly in July 2010. Harsh remarks about former Obamastration "green job czar" and COC co-founder Van Jones got him bounced from HuffPo, despite the fact that other writers were more than welcome there after saying much worse things about conservatives.

In a column entitled "Race-Baiting Is Different From Racism" and subtitled
"When campaigned against conservative provocateur Andrew Breitbart's presence on Huffington Post, it was for what he's done, not what he feels, say leaders of the organization", COC co-founder James Rucker and campaign manager Dani McClain insist that Breitbart got off easy due to too much respect issued to him by other white journalist types. They were upset because HuffPo founder Arianna Huffington and founding editor Roy Sekoff admitted in an interview that they even though they ejected Breitbart from the site, they did NOT believe he is racist.

This is the original draft of my comments on the below-quoted part of the Rucker/McClain piece before I had to divide it into two parts to fit it into The Root's comments section (links added):

This same reluctance (cowardice? postracial delusion?) was evident in some of the coverage of our campaign. David Weigel at Slate conflated our members' efforts against Breitbart with Media Matters' work monitoring Fox News, characterizing both as " … a liberal campaign aimed at getting conservatives off the air, off the Huffington Post front page, off Fox News. It's as blatant as the conservative campaign to dismantle the liberal media."

Well, no. Unless there's a conservative campaign afoot to keep race-baiters who intentionally deceive from appearing as trustworthy, ethical pundits on the Sunday-morning shows and network news, then there's really no comparison. Perhaps Weigel realizes this but fears what an honest assessment of Breitbart's race problem might do to his own bona fides as an objective journalist.

You folks haven't been paying attention, because Weigel has no "bona fides as an objective journalist." He was exposed as a hardcore lefty when his participation in the now-defunct pro-Democrat, anti-Republican JournoList mailing list was leaked to Tucker Carlson's right-leaning Daily Caller website. His supposedly objective column in the Washington Post examining the right wing was belied by his angry, profane rants on JournoList about Glenn Beck, James O'Keefe, Newt Gingrich, and Sarah Palin (partial list). When Rush Limbaugh was hospitalized in December 2009 with chest pains, we know now, Weigel snarked to fellow left-leaning JournoList reporters "I hope he fails." Following those revelations, Weigel was dismissed from the Post, but retained by its parent company, which operates Slate.

When it comes to Weigel's comparison that you find wanting, I say it's perfectly sound. It's true that what he described as "the conservative campaign to dismantle the liberal media" is not narrowly focused on -- to quote you -- "keep[ing] race-baiters who intentionally deceive from appearing as trustworthy, ethical pundits on the Sunday-morning shows and network news." But the default position on those programs is that it is fair to assume Republicans have "a race problem" (quoting you again) unless they make grand gestures of ideological departure from traditional Republican positions (e.g. Jack Kemp). No amount of equitable treatment of non-whites on a personal basis -- even marriage -- can do anything to alter that template unless it is expressed in *political* outreach leftward. Calling out the common presumptions as fraudulent is part of the larger fight against prejudicial treatment of the right-of-center in the mainstream media, and need not be specific to quashing race-baiting. The fact that you have felt it necessary to issue your statement above because Huffington & Sekoff admitted that they did not believe Andrew Breitbart is a racist proves my point. As media figures to the left of Fox News, they ran afoul of an unwritten law, and you fancy yourselves as the enforcers.

Finally, your assertion that somehow Breitbart had "destroy[ed] Sherrod's career" is laughable when one examines the facts of not only Sherrod's resignation under pressure from the Obama Administration, but the circumstances under which she even got the position.

Let's recap: According to Sherrod, she was pressured by an aide to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to announce her resignation in a phone conversation while she was driving on a Georgia freeway. Why right then? Because the USDA wanted to head off a discussion of the controversy on Glenn Beck's TV program that afternoon. (Remember that it was under the heat Beck brought upon your pal Van Jones that he resigned as Green Jobs Czar at midnight on the Sunday of a three-day holiday weekend.) Initially, the NAACP backed the decision to shove Sherrod out, based on the incomplete video of her discussion of how she pulled back assistance to a white farmer. Beck ended up actually sticking up for Sherrod, and criticized Breitbart for commenting on the video before he knew the context of the total speech. The NAACP did an about-face, claiming that it had been "hoodwinked" by Breitbart. Even Bill O'Reilly apologized for jumping to conclusions. The White House issued an apology to Sherrod. Vilsack offered an apology and her job back, but Sherrod refused the offer. Her "career" and her reputation were restored as quickly as they were tarnished, but she chose to walk away rather than return.

How did Sherrod get the job, anyway? The exact circumstances are unknown, but here's what we know: She was named Director for Rural Development for the state of Georgia on July 25, 2009. Mere *days* earlier, New Communities, Inc., a farm trust that Sherrod co-founded with her husband in 1969 (but had ceased operations in the mid-'80s), was given a cash award of $13,000,000.00 in the Pigford Farms settlement. Over $4,000,000.00 of that total amount was specifically termed as "lost wages," and Shirley and her husband Charles each personally received $150,000.00 each for "pain and suffering" (three times the average settlement issued to Pigford plaintiffs). The Sherrods were newly-minted multi-millionaires when she was appointed by Vilsack, who as Ag Secretary is the one who ultimately authorized their payment.

(I won't speculate in print about that last part, because I don't have a lick of evidence backing up what I'm thinking. But think about it.)

It's not only ridiculous to suggest Breitbart "destro[yed] Sherrod's career," it's outrageously disingenuous. The Sherrods were the most richly compensated awardees of the entire Pigford suit out of tens of thousands of filers stretching back to Clinton's second term. She didn't need the job when she got it, and she doesn't need it now. But the bitterness she has expressed after being booted from her USDA position could be predicted by anyone in the audience of that famous videotaped speech, in which she said "Have you heard of anybody in the federal government losing their job? That's all that I need to say, okay?"

Tell me what you think. Comment below, link if you like.