Friday, March 19, 2010

Why Friendly Fire Is A Huge Mistake

Conservative blogger and film critic Debbie Schlussel is someone I've interacted with in the past and whom I link to because, in spite of a personality that could peel paint, she has done and continues to do superb work when it comes to unmasking the creeping jihad in America.

That said, she's the sort of person who seems to delight in picking fights with others on the Right side of the blogosphere in almost a Chuckie Johnson mode, including Yael over at Boker Tov Boulder and Pam Geller over at Atlas Shrugs. TYPING IN CAPITALS and accusing her foe d'jour of G-d knows what unspeakable crime, the thought has crossed my mind more than once that she tries to diminish others with the idea of inflating herself.

Her latest target is FOX personality Sean Hannity, whom she's been hostile towards for years. In a post that got a great deal of attention, she accused Hannity of running a scam to feather his own nest and charging luxury accommodations and travel utilizing the Freedom Alliance Charity, which benefits our wounded warriors and their children.

Needless to say, Lefty sites like Media Matters were giddy happy over this - hey, a Right-wing nut blogger unmasking Sean Hannity!! Whoo Hoo!!

But..was it true? Lessee..

Schlussel's original post ( and no, I'm not going to link to it) stated:

"In fact, less than 20%–and in two recent years, less than 7% and 4%, respectively–of the money raised by Freedom Alliance went to these causes, while millions of dollars went to expenses, including consultants and apparently to ferry the Hannity posse of family and friends in high style. And, despite Hannity’s statements to the contrary on his nationally syndicated radio show, few of the children of fallen soldiers got more than $1,000-$2,000, with apparently none getting more than $6,000, while Freedom Alliance appears to have spent tens of thousands of dollars for private planes. Moreover, despite written assurances to donors that all money raised would go directly to scholarships for kids of the fallen heroes and not to expenses, has begun charging expenses of nearly $500,000 to give out just over $800,000 in scholarships."

FrumForum analyzed this in detail and had this to say:

Freedom Alliance’s press release today stated categorically that they have “never provided planes, hotels, cars, limos, or anything else to Sean [Hannity] … to be clear Sean pays for all his own transportation, hotels, and all related expenses for himself and his family and friends and staff.” We are satisfied that this is true.

It is true that Freedom Alliance spent $60,000 on aviation services in 2006, but there is no evidence that this was for Sean Hannity’s benefit, and it seems unlikely that the money was used to lease a Gulfstream 5. Rates for G5 aircraft average around $8,000 an hour. $60,000 would not buy much at that rate.

We have also been able to confirm that Sean Hannity has no operational control over the organization. Nor is he even a member of the group’s board.

If Schlussel stands behind her statement, then she will have to do better than a quote from a blind source, who is, as she admits, a friend of a friend.

And the Freedom Alliance also stated that not only does Hannity receives nothing from the charity but that Hannity has personally “contributed $100,000 to the Wounded Warriors Foundation, over $200,000 to the Freedom Alliance, and over tens of thousands of dollars to other military charities and individuals.”

Schlussel also stated in her piece that only $1 million of the organization’s $8.8 million in revenue was going to soldiers and scholarships in 2008.

In fact, when you look at the actual numbers from FrumForum's audit of Freedom Alliance's 990 forms and from Charity Navigator, she's only including direct financial grants to individuals from the charity. It doesn't appear to include in kind contributions like groceries, taking soldiers to concerts and sporting events or care packages sent overseas.

Charity Navigator reveals that The Freedom Alliance is hardly the most efficient charity around, but far from the least with an efficiency rating of 35.65, which puts it solidly in the middle ranking for charities.

Freedom Alliance also spends money on non-cash benefits for military families, involving things like taking soldiers to sporting events and sending care packages to troops.

The same thing is true of scholarship funds which gave 167 students an average of $4,803.89 each in tuition. But as Debbie doesn't mention, that's annual. And since we're talking about kids of Iraq and Afghanistan who are younger rather than college age, that's a pretty nice amount towards private school tuition.

Out of $2.1 million for scholarships Freedom Alliance raised in 2008, about $800,000 of that went to scholarships for that year and the remaining $1,238,636 went into the Freedom Alliance's scholarship trust fund, NOT into it's general fund as Schlussel wrote in her piece.

If so, putting a substantial amount in the trust fund would represent proper planning for future needs and a correct allocation of resources - which is exactly how reputable charities play the game.

Is the Freedom Alliance a model charity? Probably not. But is Sean Hannity guilty of corruption and of using it as his personal cash cow? Unless La Schlussel has some actual evidence to the contrary instead of a lot of third hand whispers, no.

For that matter, the very fact that Colonel Ollie North, who founded the Freedom Alliance in 1990 and who now serves as the organization's honorary chairman approved a press release exonerating Hannity says a lot more to me than any half-baked malicious rumors from someone who by her own admission has hated Hannity for years..

As anyone who has met him knows, Colonel North, aside from being the sort of person you'd instinctively want watching your back in a tough spot is a person of innate integrity. The idea that he would countenance a scam of this type is ludicrous.

Schlussel, for her part responded to all this in true Dan Rather fashion, essentially not responding to any of the factual rebuttals to what she had to say but declaring that she had more to post on 'the fraud at Freedom Alliance, in the coming days.'

Oh, and she gratuitously accused RedState's Erick Erickson of being an 'anti-Semite' for having the temerity to post a rebuttal to what essentially is a weak accusation so far.

Erick Erickson? she'll probably call me one!

So, in the end, what's all this about?

I confess to not particularly being a Sean Hannity fan, although I find his on air persona pleasant and enjoy the fact that he gets great guests.But to go crazy like this without providing any specific proof? Why?

If I had concrete information ( as opposed to what Debbie Schlussel has revealed so far) that someone like Sean Hannity was misusing a charity, my first action would be to contact him and get his side of it before I went public. Aside from it being the fair and decent thing to do, it has the positive aspect of denying the Angry Left ammo and a target.

Schlussel ought to realize that we are in a war, and you need to be real careful about firing on your own side just to massage your ego.It is absurdly dangerous and irresponsible, and you only end up shooting yourself in the foot. In one post she's accused Hannity of foul corruption and Erick of being a Jew hater, and those accusations will stick with the Left and be repeated again and again no matter how often they're debunked.

Debbie, who claims to be an observant orthodox Jew may be familiar with what the Torah and the Mishna have to say about the sin of Lashon Hora, an evil tongue.

If she's unable to back up her accusations, I hope in her heart of hearts she takes a little time to reflect on those passages and think about what she's doing.


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louielouie said...

the bulk of my comment will constitute full disclosure.
prior to locating J/P on the internet dial (i like saying that, it makes fun of ed bradley who on election night in 2004 said it first) i was a constant commenter at DS site. i always found her information regarding jihad and the ra......., ra......., ra........, islamofacist culture informative. and in her arguments assertive. however, i always did find her general subject matter comments a little odd for some reason. i did agree with her in her movie reviews.
the last straw for myself came, when, upon the announcement of sarah palin as the running mate for that guy from AZ, DS decided that her first column about sarah would be a broadside attack on the names of sarah's children. DS went on in her essay to state, paraphrasing, that she wasn't sure she could vote for a person who named her children in that fashion. i didn't see what that had to do with her nomination/candidacy, and i knew that some whack job lefty, are there any other kinds, would pick up on her column and that it would go viral. it did, and the kos kids loved it.
general comment,
this is just an guess on my part buy if i remember correctly she used to be a regular commentor on fox. she may have gotten crossways with someone and the hannity thing is the result. i remember when i was still going to her site she did a hit piece on hannity claiming that he had an ex-nazi close friend sitting just off camera watching many of his shows while being aired.

Elise said...

I stopped reading DS when I realized most of her attacks were ad hominum. If I wanted that I would read HufPo or Daily Kos,I read bloggers to learn, not to hear them vent their own angst and insecurities.

I have to tell you the final real straw for me was when she derided the athletes who competed in the Olympics and castigated them for not being poverty stricken. Heaven forbid they should use their talent to make a grand living. I have no use for bitchy 12 year old middle school jealousy crap. Didn't like it when I was in middle school. Not interested in it as an adult either.

Wonder if DS has a be-line to MoDo? They are just opposite sides of the same coin.

B.Poster said...

Now with regard to lefties attacking Mr. Hannity based upon what Ms. Schlussel said the term "glass house" comes to mind. Specifically those who live in them should not throw stones. Granted leftists do not face the same kind of media scrutiny that Conservatives do but with today's media it is very difficult to keep any thing hidden for any length of time.

Anonymous said...

debbie schlussel is completely unhinged, and while she does do some good research, she is increasingly coming off the rails emotionally. maybe all the jihad reporting is getting to her. she viciously attacked me when i emailed her once. a real nut bar.