Who Are You Going To Trust – The NR or Your Lying Eyes?

Conor Friedorsdorf, the guy who can’t be bothered to even get names right, is handing out instructions to “liberal bloggers” on how to talk about the Pigford case. This is a long-ago settled case of USDA discrimination against black farmers, one of whom was Shirley Sherrod. Even though the “discredited” Andrew Breitbart is obsessed with it, and Conor thinks he can’t be trusted, Conor instructs “liberal bloggers” to “acquire access” to a new subscription-only National Review piece which “reads like a solid piece” by a writer whose work he has “enjoyed”.

Conor, of course, can’t be bothered to fact-check that “solid” piece, but let’s take one of the facts Conor cites:

– According to Foster’s piece, a 1997 census study found a total of 18,500 black farmers nationwide.

– Yet there are nearly 100,000 claimants in the Pigford case.

He concludes “that gap between the number of claiments and the total number of black farmers in America is what struck me. If accurate it suggests widespread fraud.”

Unfortunately for Conor, the only thing this suggests is that he is too lazy to pull up the Wikipedia entry for Pigford v Glickman and check the first external link [pdf]. It’s a report by the Congressional Research service, issued two months ago, the first paragraph of which says:

The deadline for submitting a claim as a class member was September 12, 2000. As of November 2010, 15,642 (69%) of the 22,721 eligible class members had final adjudications approved.

It’s lazy journalism like this that keeps the Andrew Breitbarts of the world busy churning out bullshit, and all the tsk-tsking that Conor Friedersdorf doles out about Breitbart’s honesty is pointless if he won’t do the minimal legwork required to debunk his lies.






84 replies
  1. 1

    I blame gastritis.

    Seriously, who besides gibbertarian hacks and racist douchebags is still going on about Pigford?

  2. 2
    Lit3Bolt says:

    Duh. If Conor actually did research instead of spouting off glib Burkean assertions and assumptions, he wouldn’t qualify for wingnut welfare.

    Conor instinctively knows it’s his conservative duty to run intellectual cover for the Breitbarts of the world.

  3. 3
    c u n d gulag says:

    But fact checking is hard work!

    Out of all the things in this country that are disfunctional, I think our press takes the cake. They’re what allows all of the BS disfunction to continue.

  4. 4
    sixers says:

    He writes such lofty things! He’s the Peter King(SI writer) of political discussion.

  5. 5
    kay says:

    The class in Pickford is as follows:

    “Those black farmers who filed a discrimination claim with the USDA from 1983 to 1997”.

    That’s the group. I don’t know what the 1997 census has to do with anything.

  6. 6
    Alex S. says:

    Some of Sully’s borgs are not that bad, I enjoyed what Zoe Pollock had to say. But Conor Friedersdorf is just terrible. I am happy to hear that Sully is about to return. And something else, in a former post Sully expressed regret at having missed the egyptian revolution. Isn’t it weird to call yourself a Tory conservative and get excited about revolutions? It’s like his instincts are right but his mind always interferes.

  7. 7
    AB says:

    I actually emailed him when he posted the “Dennis Prager=thoughtful” article with a couple links to Dennis Prager’s Greatest Hits, and got a response along the lines of “Good grief. I’ve heard Prager occasionally when someone else has him on; I guess there was stuff I missed!”

    I don’t get the impression that he’s intentionally deceptive, I just think he’s underinformed and doesn’t bother to do anything about that before he posts.

  8. 8
    kerFuFFler says:

    Glad to hear there is nothing to the story—–though I suspected as much. Thanks for doing the legwork!

  9. 9
    Napoleon says:

    Even if Conor and the NR’s numbers were right to me that still does not necessarily “suggest widespread fraud”. Wasn’t the whole Pigford thing that the Feds basically let whites participate in a program that helped farmers but made it difficult for black farmers to participate? Seems to me that this suggest that some number of black farmers will get run out of business because they have to compete with others who now have an advantage they do not have in the marketplace, namely easy access to cheaper capital. So even if the number of black farmers are X today I would expect at some point in the past before the Feds put their thumb on the scale in favor of whites that it would have been X + Y.

  10. 10
    mai naem says:

    My guess is that its $100K a farmer but they managed to say its 100K farmers. I remember listening to the radio years before 9/11 and they were talking about Donald Trump saying that he could remodel WTC buildings for fifty billion which was cheaper than somebody else had said and I remember thinking to myself Bill Gates is worth fifty billion, how could the WTC cost fifty Billion to just remodel. I am guessing it was fifty Million not fifty Billion.

  11. 11
    Chyron HR says:

    But that gap between the number of the color of the claiments and the total number of black farmers in America is what struck me. If accurate it suggests widespread fraud.

    Damned young bucks!

  12. 12
    Guster says:

    This is a cheap shot, mistermix. Please address the real issue: in 2002, an EFA study showed that 94% of Americans who shared demographic characteristics with claimants in the Pigford case were members of or sympathetic to the Democrat Party.

    Pigford + Demonrats = Stealing White People’s Money.

  13. 13
    Guster says:

    @kay: Sure you do: both statement have a ‘1997’ in them. According to the conservative theory of Numbers Always Prove My Point, that’s a slam dunk.

  14. 14
    Comrade Javamanphil says:

    Gastritis broke his calculator too! If you work for the Atlantic, beware gastritis!

  15. 15
    Comrade Javamanphil says:

    @AB: So, did he offer a correction or update?

  16. 16
    Napoleon says:

    @Guster:

    Shorter Guster, even assuming his facts are right “Its OK for the Federal Government to discriminate against people as long as they demographically are likely to be Democrats”.

    What a scumbag.

  17. 17
    lllphd says:

    @kay:
    that’s when the case was filed

  18. 18
    Anya says:

    I really think Conor Friedorsdorf means well. He’s shown instances of courage, where he called out his wingnut allies on important issues. However, sometimes he just falls victim to his gilbertarian instinct that always mistrusts government.

  19. 19
    lllphd says:

    @Alex S.:

    as we’ve all noted before, and i’ve opined, sully is so beyond conflicted, he’s almost a clinical case. but, i have to admit i kinda like him for wearing those conflicts on his sleeve, but even more for occasionally actually recognizing one or two and recovering some wisdom.

    conor, on the other hand, may have single-handedly trashed sully’s good name. i’ve been writing directly to andrew on conor’s more egregious posts – this one near the top of that list – and hope it got through. but sully was very ill, and i doubt he was able to do more than be grateful the site was not silent for all this time.

  20. 20
    Jay says:

    Both you and Conor are wrong on the internet (but Conor’s much wronger).

    According to the Congressional Research Service report that you cite, there are about 50,000 Pigford claimants, half of Conor’s number and twice yours. There are two separate Pigford suits, Pigford I and Pigford II. Pigford I settles the first class action, filed in 1997, which required claimants to file their claims by 1999. Pigford II is the settlement of a second class action, filed in 2008, consisting of claimants who filed their claims after the Pigford I deadline.

    The passage that you quote about “15,642 (69%) of the 22,721 eligible class members” refers to Pigford I. Pigford II contains an additional 25,000 or more claims.

    However, the CRS report contains a concise, separately headlined section addressing the very issue that causes Conor such concern: the alleged discrepancy between the agricultural census count of black farmers and the number of Pigford I and II claimants. Had Conor bothered to read the CSR report rather than the National Review, he would have learned that the discrepancy is likely due to the restrictions on how the agricultural census counts farmers.

    According to the report, the agricultural census does not count individual farmers, but rather “farm operators,” and prior to 2002 (the period covered by the Pigford suits), it only counted “principal farm operators,” apparently one per farm. That means that there are a number of different types of people eligible under Pigford who would not be counted under the agricultural census. According to the report these include:

    1) African-American farmers who own their farm jointly with others and so may not be the “principal farm operator.”

    2) African-American farmers who lease or rent their farm land; and

    3) African-American farmers who attempted to farm, but were prevented by USDA discrimination.

    Finally, the CSR report notes that there are fraud-prevention measures in place in both the existing Pigford I settlement and the soon-to-begin Pigford II settlement, and that these have already resulted in a significant number of claims being denied on the merits:

    For example, nearly
    7,000 Track A claims in Pigford (31%) were denied relief, presumably because such claims
    lacked merit or had other defects. Thus, the number of claims filed cannot be viewed as an
    accurate representation of the number of awards that have been or will be made under the two
    settlements.

  21. 21
    Danny says:

    Everyone knows you don’t have to check facts when you’re asserting that poor minorities are ripping off the government*. It’s one of those first principles conservatives are always blabbering on about.

    *See also: Welfare Queens

  22. 22
    GVG says:

    I don’t believe that number of black farmers either. Its far to low unless they are defining farmer by some dollar amount of profit. A lot of the farmers I encounter these days, have several businesses to make a go of it so I’m not clear on how they would be defined in profession. In a country of over 300 million, 18,000 black farmers is just not likely. I’ve no idea where to look for the true numbers though. I’ve never had reason before to wonder how many black farmers there were. Maybe the census?

  23. 23
    kay says:

    @lllphd:

    that’s when the case was filed

    I still don’t understand. “Evidence of widespread fraud” is that 100 k people thought they were eligible for inclusion in a class action, but were not?

    I would think the obvious thing to do would be to compare the (initial) Pickford claimants with another class action. Is it unusual to have 100k initial claimants where 70K are then excluded as not members of the class?

    “Fraud” is a strong accusation, and it wouldn’t apply to the people who were certified as members of the class.

    They’re relying on those who were not certified to discredit those who were. That doesn’t make any sense.

  24. 24
    wonkie says:

    “Underinformed and doesn’t do much about it” is a pretty good description of yur avcerage Republican voter. Why does a chronically underinformedperson get to a be pundit?

    BTW has anyone sent this critique of Conro’s latest exercise in lack of information to Conor? I treied by I’d have to register and all that crap and I’m too lazy.

  25. 25
    Elvis Elvisberg says:

    Even if all this were true, which it’s obviously not, why in the fuck would liberal bloggers have to write about it? It’s one obscure case. Does it reveal, in a conservative’s mind, the fundamental desire of all black people to steal money from the government, so it ought to be front and center?

    And how incompetent do these people think the court is, that it’d just allow anyone named “Antoine” to join the lawsuit?

    Stupid issue, stupid argumentation. Write about farming subsidies, you assholes, if you want to take down welfare queens. Write about how the US Senate is a catastrophically wasteful Affirmative Action government program for America’s least productive Whites.

  26. 26
    campionrules says:

    I’m pretty sure that the 100k applicant number is derived from adding the 70k claims filed after the deadline – and were not allowed to proceed. I believe there was a recent decision to reconsider these cases. More wingnut math – but that’s how they get to 100k.

  27. 27
    mod says:

    c u n d at #3

    Please change your handle it you cannot consistently key it right.

    I am tired of editing that “T” to a “D” and am starting to believe you use this handle to offend.

    Please choose another commenting name so that you don’t, accidentally or intentiionally, continue to demean women.

  28. 28
    Marc says:

    @Napoleon: Exactly. Friedersdorf forgets that the pool of potential claimants is going to be much larger than the number of black farmers who were active in 1997. Some people would have left farming precisely because they couldn’t get the grants, and the number of black farmers from 1983 to 1997 would be substantially larger than those who were currently active in 1997 in any case.

    Not quite as much of a howler as trusting Andrew Breitbart, but close.

  29. 29
    erlking says:

    Anything an off-white or darker person gets is always, always, always, always unearned. Any achievement is because of favoritism and/or the need to “buy votes.” Any redress of grievance is “reparations.” This is standard dogma.

    It’s hard out there for a Caucasian.

  30. 30
    Dan says:

    Even if the 100K number were right, and that it was evidence of fraud, it’s indicative that the writer (and in fact many of the commenters here) immediately make the leap to assume that would be fraud by Black non-farmers. It seems just as likely that fraudulent claims could come from white farmers, or non-farmers.

  31. 31
    nitpicker says:

    Actually, I think you’re reading these numbers wrong, Mistermix, but the link does explain the problem of using census data to suggest fraud.

    Questions have been raised about the number of black farmers who were or are eligible for a settlement under Pigford or Pigford II. Determining the number of African American farm operators who farmed during the period of January 1, 1981, and December 31, 1996, is difficult because of the way in which the Census of Agriculture defined farm operator. Prior to the 2002 Census of Agriculture, only principal farm operators were counted. In the 1982 Census of Agriculture, there were 33,250 African American-operated farms; in 1987, 22,954; in 1992, 18,816; and in 1997, 18,451. Essentially, the number of African American farms was treated as synonymous with the number of African American operators.These statistics, however, failed to recognize that many farms are operated by more than one farm operator. In 2002, the Census of Agriculture collected data for a maximum of three principal operators per farm. The 2002 Census enumerated 29,090 African American farm operators. This statistical change more accurately captured the actual number of operators, that is, those who are actually engaged in farming. For example, a single farm may be operated by four or more operators, each of whom could have conceivably made loan applications to USDA agencies. In addition, a farm operator might operate rented or leased land owned by a principal operator. In such a case, that operator renting or leasing farmland would not have been counted as the operator of that farm. Under the term of the consent decree, however, such a farmer could be an eligible claimant because he or she farmed or tried to farm during the requisite time period. The varying Census definitions of farm, farm operator, and farm owner help explain why the number of initial claimants in the Pigford case approximately 94,000) was higher than the number of farms/farm operators enumerated by the Census of Agriculture between 1982 and 1997 and why the estimated number of potential Pigford II claimants may be greater than the number of farms/farm operators enumerated in those or subsequent Census counts.In addition, it is important to note that there may be other reasons for discrepancies between the number of farmers reflected in farm Census data and the number of claimants under Pigford or Pigford II. For example, individuals who attempted to farm but who were denied loans or other farm assistance would not be counted as farmers but may have been or may be eligible to file a claim under the terms of the two settlement agreements. Likewise, the estate of a deceased individual who farmed or attempted to farm during the eligibility period may be entitled to relief under either settlement, but such persons would not be counted as farm operators. Finally, due to fraud or mistake, some individuals who are not eligible may have filed or may file claims under Pigford or Pigford II, but such claims would not be entitled to an award. For example, nearly 7,000 Track A claims in Pigford (31%) were denied relief, presumably because such claims lacked merit or had other defects. Thus, the number of claims filed cannot be viewed as an accurate representation of the number of awards that have been or will be made under the two settlements.

  32. 32
    rikryah says:

    erkling pretty much said what I was going to say.

    why bother yourself with fact-checking in today’s world?

    facts are so ‘ inconvenient’.

  33. 33
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @erlking:

    All of those things are “unearned” not because of a lack of any effort, but for the sole reason that they don’t have white skin.

    By definition, they can earn NOTHING. It’s not possible for them to earn anything at all, their skin color prevents it.

    This is wingtard cant.

  34. 34
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Elvis Elvisberg:

    Write about how the US Senate is a catastrophically wasteful Affirmative Action government program for America’s least productive Whites.

    Whites cannot be unproductive under any circumstances. Paris Hilton is, by virtue of her skin color, infinitely more productive than James Brown or Michael Jackson ever were.

    I hope we’ve clarified matters here.

  35. 35
    Redleg says:

    He would have done better fact checking if it had been about white farmers. Because it was about black farmers, he expected some kind of chicanery and didn’t bother to find out if it were true.

  36. 36
    kay says:

    You have to be a willfully blind moron to not see what Breitbart is doing here, and why conservatives are focusing on Pickford.

    Because it fits the frame of “reparations” and Obama is a black person.

    They have been waiting for some issue they could twist into “reparations” since the moment he was elected, and now they found one.

    It’s disgusting that this is being promoted and given legitimacy on The Atlantic.

  37. 37
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @kay:

    They’re relying on those who were not certified to discredit those who were. That doesn’t make any sense.

    There you go, using facts and logic again.

    You won’t get far in the wingnutosphere with those crippling handicaps.

  38. 38
    kay says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Odd that conservatives have decided to focus on this case at this time, isn’t it? They discovered a sudden passion for evaluating damage claims on January 20, 2009.

    I await the half-assed smear-job “investigation” into September 11th claimants, or Gulf oil spill claimants, or any of the other groups who request compensation.

  39. 39
    JFitz says:

    Have any of ya’ll been paying attention to Conor’s thread about bottle service? The guy is just really high on himself, for some reason.

  40. 40
    Rock says:

    So it has to be intentional right? I mean, the choices are that Conor is willfully race-baiting or is too lazy and dumb to see that his one sentence assessment of the number of claimants does not imply widespread fraud.

    Forget about anything else, even if there were only 19K black farmers in 1997 it should be obvious that over the 15 year period in question there may have quite a few more. 15 damn years you moron.

    Also, too, the claimants weren’t just handed money, the Feds went through the claims are decided how was actually eligible and who wasn’t. It’s not fraud unless the claimants knowingly misrepresented facts AND profited from it.

    Anyway, given that Conor’s numbers are probably just wrong in the first and his eagerness to use the word “fraud” I can’t see why anyone would waste time reading someone who is either a propagandist or an idiot.

    If we are looking for fraud, how looking at the AIG/Goldman bailout? How do the dollar amounts of Pigford compare to that? Or to the money that KBR simply “lost” in Iraq and Afghanistan? That was $12 billion so why the hell are we talking about a settlement that was both one fourth of that figure and also not lacking the certitude that fraud occurred?

  41. 41
    Ivan Ivanovich Renko says:

    Why in the name of Allah the Beneficent do you keep trying to give these fuckers the benefit of the doubt??

    “Lazy journalism” my fat black ass. This is just another example of a “conservative” (libertarian? a fucking conservative who thinks he could still be a MOTU) finding yet another way to imply that blacks cannot be deserving, cannot be productive, cannot be capable, and if a black person has something it must have been stolen.

    FUCK these guys, man, seriously.

  42. 42
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Rock:

    Or to the money that KBR simply “lost” in Iraq and Afghanistan?

    The money went to the white friends of Dick Cheney. Ipso facto, it cannot be fraud. It went to white people.

    Case dismissed!

  43. 43
    JohnR says:

    According to an article published on a well-regarded blog (mine), written by an author I both trust and respect (me), Mr. Friedersdurff has had 119,012 of his 127,697 essays checked since he began publishing on the Internet in 1973. Of those, 71,232 were thoroughly fact-checked by Andrew Breitbart and all 1,190,120 were math-checked by Megan McArdle.

  44. 44
    eemom says:

    fwiw, Sherrod has finally sued Breitfart’s lying ass for defamation (just like I said she SHOULD and WOULD if he didn’t fork over a big fat settlement, which apparently he didn’t.)

    Don’t have time to find the link but it’s out there, at Salon among other places.

  45. 45
    Steve M. says:

    Most of us who blog have little or no insider access and have to squeeze in our blogging around other work we do to actually make money. Why should anyone trust our blogs rather than the work of professionals who follow politics for a living?

    Answer: because we instinctively look at what right-wingers say and we immediately think, “I know this is a bullshit — it’s just of matter of figuring out in what way it’s bullshit. Hmmm — I bet that aspect of it is bullshit.” And we’re off to the races — we go to Mr. Google and it turns out our instincts were absolutely correct, all while Mr. Mainstream Journalist is dutifully typing, “But Republicans argue that…”

  46. 46
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @JohnR:

    “97% of all statistics are made up kent, 73% of people know that.” – Homer J. Simpson

  47. 47

    No one could have predicted a conservative would be too lazy to do a quick fact check when when the facts before them already confirm what they think they know.

  48. 48
    mistermix says:

    @nitpicker: What can possibly be incorrect about saying that the real number is 15,642, as verified by the CRS, when the NR claimed 100,000? They just go it wrong and your dense paragraph is a giant red herring.

  49. 49
    gex says:

    @Steve M.: There’s usually a tell too. Some sort of conservative ideological tic that you can spot so you know where to fact check. Usually it is anywhere around when they talk about black people.

  50. 50
    Erik Vanderhoff says:

    @Napoleon:

    Dude, fix your snark-o-meter.

  51. 51
    Xenos says:

    @eemom: According to OTB, Sherrod had Breitbart served at CPAC. Pretty sweet. Nice of the scumbag to go to DC for her convenience.

  52. 52

    He’s the conservative counter to the neo-liberal Yglesias. Both are cursed with a special sort of glibness that can only be procured in the Ivy League.

  53. 53
    sven says:

    Conor Friedersdorf has written himself into a corner with this post. In the second to last paragraph he makes an assertion so important that he has even placed it in italics.

    Had the federal government discriminated for years against black farmers, however, then paid them off efficiently and without fraud, the vast majority of people in the conservative movement – and most of America along with them – would’ve ignored the whole Pigford matter entirely.

    Very few conservatives are racists so the only explanation for their outrage must be the existence of widespread fraud.

    But if the widespread fraud is a myth, then what does this say about the conservative movement?

  54. 54
    kay says:

    @campionrules:

    I believe there was a recent decision to reconsider these cases.

    But why was there a recent decision to reconsider?

    The claimants say there were “notice” issues. That’s a big problem, if true. If they didn’t know, they can hardly make a claim.

    Pigford is too complicated to address like this. They’re simply plucking out nearly random words and phrases and facts.

    I could do this with any complex action. I could glance over the materials and conclude “fraud!” Anyone could.

    If he’s too stupid to know that, he shouldn’t be filling in for Andrew Sullivan.

  55. 55
    DougJ® says:

    @Dan:

    That’s a good point too.

  56. 56
    Silver says:

    @Ivan Ivanovich Renko: Amen. And fuck Sullivan too. He’s the one who brought the talented and lovely young Conor to us. Why he gets a pass for coming back is beyond me.

    If there was any justice in the world, Sullivan would have been fired as soon as he got ill, and tossed out into the unemployment line with no health insurance. That’s the world he wants for other people, after all.

    Also, if you’re a white person in the United States, and you think that black people in the United States have it better than you, you’re doing it wrong. There’s a reason Hayley Barbor sounds like a guy who married his sister and fucks his cousin and is still successful in politics-you ever notice that Barack Obama doesn’t exactly sound like a member of NWA circa 1988? Ever wonder why that is? God, I fucking hate white people.

  57. 57
    Silver says:

    @T.R. Donoghue:

    Conor, to his credit, can put up a 20 word post without 5 typos.

  58. 58
    lllphd says:

    @kay:

    if i understand the confusion correctly (if possible), the article conor links to claims there were 100k applications. however, if you visit the site mrmix links to, you’ll find the us dept of ag report, and NOWHERE in there is there any mention of 100k applicants.

    don’t know where this notion came from, can’t find it by googling – except from the NR writer’s piece.

    another fox moment, it appears; somebody’s just making stuff up.

    but read jay @ 20 for a very clear explanation with details; excellent and spot on.

    again, since 1997 was the first filing date, it can’t apply to anything that happens after that (tho there was a second, pigford 2, filing).

    and, just a nit to pick here, but it is pigford, not pickford.

  59. 59
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Silver: Grammatically correct and well-spelled BS is still BS.

  60. 60
    lllphd says:

    @Jay:

    thanks for this synopsis; just superb.

    i’d also add to potential reasons for the numbers discrepancy: attrition. given the farmers who were looking for loans and did not get them, there had to have been some who lost their farms for that reason.

  61. 61
    Silver says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Damning with faint praise, my friend.

    Yglesias is a professional writer. He writes a bunch of short blog posts each day, and he apparently can’t be bothered to read them for basic typos.

    That’s stuff you should fail high school English class for-Yglesias graduated from Harvard and is professional writer.

    I guess when you’re busy worrying about how to scrape up the extra few cents the barber has to charge because of the regulatory regime he works under, running a spell check is least of your worries.

  62. 62
    Silver says:

    @Silver:

    Goddamn it.

    Should be “Yglesias graduated from Harvard and is a professional writer.”

  63. 63
    lllphd says:

    what are we to make of this latest conor post??

    http://andrewsullivan.theatlan.....ement.html

  64. 64
    Svensker says:

    @kay:

    That doesn’t make any sense.

    Pretty much sums the whole thing up.

  65. 65
    rickstersherpa says:

    Ta-Nehisi Coates does a subtle take down that perhaps Conor and National Review are perhaps missing the major point.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/nat.....ng/71204/#

    And as the Congressional Research article makes clear 1) the census numbers for Black farmers is highly likely to be a low ball figure and 2) the court settlements have a procedure in place to weed out fraudalent claims and finally 3) the CRS article very briefly and eloquently at the beginning makes clear what a massive corporate and rich white people welfare the farm subsidy program has been since the Reagan Administration.

  66. 66
    Sebastian Dangerfield says:

    Good ghod! Not only does Friedersdorf fail to think for a second about how many African-american farmers may have cycled in and out of the industry in 15 years — particularly given that “everyone agrees that” during that period Ag was systematically discriminating against black farmers — his own rundown of the salient background facts acknowledges that the class includes aspiring farmers–i.e., African-Americans who wanted to be farmers and sought Ag’s help in order to do so, and who were, as a class, discriminated against. So we have a census figure supposedly representing the number of self-identified African-Americans farmers on one day of one year, with a value for “farmer” that is certainly far different from the class definition, plus an exaggerated number for the number of claimants, and from that young Conor deduces fraud. He devotes some 1,100 words to this stupidity and then uses it to pimp a paywall-protected NR article to “liberals” so that we may all learn to talk properly about the subject. What a douchenozzle (or, to adopt Conor’s wonderful spelling, doushenozzle).

  67. 67
    El Cid says:

    You gotta be on some serious fucking drugs to think I’m going to listen to conservatives — even the “reasonable” ones — on the Pigford case.

    African American farmers (National Black Farmers Association) held protests in 1996 at the White House, after organizers held public meetings and discussions. Having helped with local events highlighting the cause and the lawsuit, I don’t remember seeing any conservative politicians and writers weighing in on this, but I may have forgotten.

    It wasn’t a new issue in the political arena, either.

    After [Lyndon] Johnson became a congressman in 1937, he kept on making special efforts to help blacks. When he learned that black farmers in his district were not getting the same small loans given to white farmers for seed and equipment, he raised “unshirted hell” with the Farm Security Administration, and applications from blacks began to be approved. Milo Perkins, a top official in the FSA, recalled that Johnson “was the first man in Congress from the South ever to go to bat for the Negro farmer.”

    Government commissions, black scholars, and scholarly journals were publishing studies about federal loan patterns fucking over black farmers for decades.

    Besides the difficulties of securing loans, purchasing land from whites, and maintaining a competitive edge with small holdings, the United States Civil Rights Commission concluded in its 1982 report on The Decline of Black Farming in America [large PDF here], blacks have not received the same tax benefits, government price and income supports as larger white farmers. Moreover, the heirs of black landholders are more likely to fall prey to unscrupulous practices of whites who through various means, both legal and illegal, gain control of black owned land after the death of the owner.

    That’s Ronald Reagan’s US CRC.

    You have to be a complete ignoramus to not know that African American farmers in the South had been fucked over every way imaginable from the moment they could own their own farms.

    The few remaining black farmers around by 1982- finally sue the federal agency directly responsible for having fucked them over, and of course right wingers flip out because too many of those damn welfare cheats are trying to suck off the big gubmit teat due to white guilt and liberal media lying.

    In 1980, in response to a complaint filed against a particular Farmers Home Administration office in North Carolina, the USDA’s own Office of Equal Opportunity concluded that there were

    discrepancies in the real estate appraisal of farm land owned by blacks… inordinate waiting periods between application and loan approval for blacks… absence of deferred loan payment schedules for blacks… requirements that blacks agree to voluntary liquidation as a condition to obtaining loans… and disparities in the number and amounts of loans made to blacks…

    And of course outreach and information programs to let black farmers know of the aid available was nonexistent while it was performed (albeit weakly for small farmers) for whites. With decisions about loans and aid made by local offices, and few black employees, you might imagine that these Southern program administrators might not exactly work with zeal toward helping black farmers.

    Court cases and complaints had been filed in the decade before the time period covered by Pigford (1982). Black farmers had held protests and sit-ins. So on and so forth.

    The point of all this being that this ridiculously obvious discrimination against black farmers had been known of by representative organizations, politicians, scholars, and courts as a public issue since, say, LBJ’s actions in 1937, and much more publicly since the 1960s.

    Legal cases are legal cases, but I’ll be damned if I will worry that a few too many of the few remaining black farmers might get part of a settlement for having been fucked over long before.

    However, I may be wrong because if we can make sure to use bogus and/or ignorant arguments to make sure some of those probably covered by the class action settlement don’t get it, it will help shrink the deficit which is the most important thing ever.

  68. 68
    Joel says:

    @Silver: Yglesias is infectious.

  69. 69
    Moonbatman says:

    Wiki is sometimes wrong when Wingnuts try to change the Narrative by editing it.
    Lawrence O’Donnell Takes Apart NRA Gun Lobbyist Wayne LaPierre

    It was the moment that Loughner had to reload that he became stoppable and he was stopped by a 61 year old woman who wrestled another high capacity magazine out of his hand as he tried to reload,

    Wiki 2011 Tucson shooting wingnut lies

    After the gunman ran out of ammunition in the first magazine, he stopped to reload, but dropped the loaded magazine from his pocket to the sidewalk, from where bystander Patricia Maisch grabbed it

    Peace out. The power is yours.

  70. 70
    Barbara says:

    Jay’s response seems definitive, but there is one more category that Jay forgot about: farmers who stopped farming between 1983 and 1997. I represented one of those farmers in Pigford I — a significant percentage of farmers of all races, but especially African-American farmers who tended to have smaller operations, stopped farming in the 80s and 90s. It wouldn’t surprise me if twice as many black farmers were operating in 1983 as in 1997.

    So my farmer would not have shown up in the 1997 Census as a farmer, but there he was in the land records more than a decade before as having loans related to his farm operations.

  71. 71
    kay says:

    @lllphd:

    if i understand the confusion correctly (if possible), the article conor links to claims there were 100k applications. however, if you visit the site mrmix links to, you’ll find the us dept of ag report, and NOWHERE in there is there any mention of 100k applicants.

    I just don’t think it’s at all “confusing”. I think they’re deliberately making it confusing.

    There were 100k people who were or were not black farmers, depending on how the phrase is defined. Of that 100k, 20-some thousand were certified as a “class”.

    Using the 100k number to “prove” fraud is baloney. It’s nonsense.

    They did the same thing with the black panther voter case. They took careful legal language and terms of art and pretended it was some moment to moment narrative that “proved” something or other.

    That isn’t how it’s done properly. They’re never going to get it right like that.

  72. 72
    Vertov says:

    You’re all missing a big point. You have a conservative blogger AGREEING with you. He AGREES that there’s a troubling racial angle to Breitbart’s “reporting” and the right-wing “news” industry in general, and that their focus saying something deeply troubling and creepy about the Tea Party.

    That “something” needs to be brought up repeatedly, and often, to people (i.e., friends, family, anyone who is a potential voter or campaign donor) who might be sitting on the fence about the Tea Party. It was a CONSERVATIVE who pointed it out.

    Instead mistermix uses it to bring up the “a writer from Balloon Juice” issue, which, while annoying, is basically a personal matter. Most of the commentators chine in to agree with him, using phrases from the Balloon Juice Glossary so we can all engage in a feel-good pile-up of a Designated Enemy.

    Sure, point out the guy’s flaws, but if we’re interested in building up a coalition of like-minded people to face down issues like, say, racism in the conservative movement, we’ll need to give up on the emotionally satisfying bullshit you see in the comments to this post.

  73. 73
    kay says:

    @lllphd:

    Just off the top of my head,if they want to do it right they have to work really hard. Here’s what they have to show me:

    1. how many claimants qualify for inclusion in the class in a like class action? (there are lots of class actions, comparisons are readily available)

    2. what were the “notice” issues that triggered the new review? Are they a. valid and b. related to the initial claims (discrimination)?

    3. What is a “farmer”? Here, that word has a definition.

    This is a big accusation, Mr. Conor made. It demands big proof. If he’s going to go throwing around “fraud” he’s going to have to put about a hundred hours in, and get someone competent to help him sift through ten years of records.

    They’re not trying to throw light. They’re trying to throw smoke. They’re smearing these people.

  74. 74
    Gretchen says:

    My favorite part of his post: “there’s got to be a better way of getting at the truth than wathching Andrew Breitbart and Media Matters snipe back and forth at each other”, as if the two are equivalent. After all, one leans right, and one leans left, with that well known liberal bias facts have. This is just after he said he’d trust NR over Big Government, and the NYT over the National Enquirer, so apparently in his mind, Media Matters and the National Enquirer are equivalent.

  75. 75
    Chris says:

    Props for spelling his last name one way once and another way the other time. After all, under current media rules, it’d be choosing sides to use one spelling over another.

  76. 76
    Zach says:

    @kay: “What is a “farmer”? Here, that word has a definition.”

    Four or five seconds of Googling will pull up a report from the Congressional Research Service quite clearly explaining the apparent discrepancy between the number of claimants and the number of black farmers. Specifically, (1) multiple farmers operate one farm; cited census results didn’t account for this, (2) one merely had to try to obtain a loan to farm (and not necessarily have a farm) to claim damages, and (3) history didn’t start in 1997.

    I wonder why Conor doesn’t comment on why the National Review decided to publish a piece clearing Rep. Steve King’s good name after he said Obama only supported funding Pigman to get black votes (“he’s very, very urban”)?

  77. 77
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    @Gretchen: Well of course. Conor basically aruges like that potential conservative psychologist. He’s certain that if he put in the research, it would back his already formed conclusions. In which case research is just a waste of time. At best we’ll get an acknowledgment that the numbers are bad but that “the point still stands” or something like that.

    Shorter CF: any penny spent on citizens that aren’t in the form of tax cuts for rich white guys is a terrible waste of taxpayer money.

  78. 78
    kay says:

    @Zach:

    It’s just been so clear from the beginning that the reason they seized on Pigman is to promote the idea that Obama is giving out “reparations” to black people.

    Why do I think that? Because conservatives keep saying it.

    They did the same exact thing with the black panther case. The AG and the President are black people, so they started with the assumption that the case was handled differently.

    It’s ridiculous and insulting. They look only at cases and issues that are “about” black people. Why is that? If they’re such rigorous government anti-fraudsters, why don’t they look at anything else?

  79. 79
    kay says:

    @Zach:

    Obama was forced to specifically deny claims that he intended to pursue reparations for slavery.

    Now you tell me. Why was this candidate asked that question?

    Do you recall that question coming up, ever, in the course of a campaign?

    Here’s the Newsmax headline:

    Obama Giving Black Farmers $1.25B in Reparations

    Who started that meme?

    Either Conor is an idiot, or he thinks I am.

  80. 80
    AB says:

    @Comrade Javamanphil: Not to the best of my knowledge, though I certainly could have missed it.

  81. 81
    kay says:

    @Zach:

    He also had to address it in his Senate campaign.

    I’m glad to see conservatives are still promoting the false idea that Obama intends to pursue slavery reparations, 7 years after they floated the idea.

    Because that’s what they should be worrying about. Their paranoid suspicions about black people.

  82. 82
    A Midnight Marauder At Balloon-Juice says:

    @AB:

    I don’t get the impression that he’s intentionally deceptive, I just think he’s underinformed and doesn’t bother to do anything about that before he posts.

    The faint praise. It is damning.

  83. 83
    les says:

    @kay:

    Conor has demonstrated many times over that he’s an idiot; and, like most of his ilk, he just hopes that you/we are too. Certainly there are enough to give him a profitable audience.

  84. 84

    […] of claimants and the number of black farmers in 1997 “suggests widespread fraud.”  As mistermix correctly points out, some very rudimentary fact-checking provides the answers to a lot of these […]

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