Archive for August 6th, 2009

August 6, 2009

Known Traffic Menace Terrorizes D.C.

Now I’m on my way to Capitol Hill — texting this post via cell phone while weaving wildly through traffic — and I notice I’m linked by The Sarah Palin Blog:

“Gryphen” is upset that “minions” of “the Palin team” exposed him. So it was okay for him to fabricate a story about the Palins and create a rumor cancer that spread on the Internet. But, it is not okay for someone to expose him.
Gryphen, you do see the difference right? What you did is called – “lying.” What Dan Riehl did is called – “good reporting.” The difference being – now stay with me on this Gryphen – something called – “the truth.”

Hey, where’s the nuance in that? Please note once more that this post is clearly marked “humor,” so I’m probably just joking if I tell you I just had to jump the curb and drive half a block down the sidewalk — stupid tourist bus! — so I’m not late for my next appointment.

Well, that’s all for now. I might need to drive with both hands for the next maneuver. Be sure to check in at Riehl World View for more good-spirited humor.

August 6, 2009

What Stogie Said

“The most important thing about this Griffin affair is that it FINALLY fires a needed shot across the bow of the gaggle of Alaskan PDS bloggers who are obsessed with the personal destruction of Sarah Palin. Those bloggers include Jesse Griffin, Jeanne Devon, Linda Kellen Biegel and Shannyn Moore — obnoxious liars, all.”
Stogie at Saberpoint

BTW, some idiot tried to leave a comment about me getting clocked doing 85 mph in a 65 mph zone, alleging that this proved I was the real menace to society. Rejected.

Fast driver? Guilty, your honor. Safe driver? Completely. It’s that hillbilly moonshiner NASCAR gene. Like that bumper sticker I saw on a pickup truck once: “I’m not speeding. I’m qualifying.”

Of course, if that trooper had been parked somewhere else at some other time, he might have clocked me at 110 mph. (N.B.: “If” denotes a hypothetical, and “might” merely suggests a possibility, and since this is clearly marked “humor,” I’m probably just joking.)

Meanwhile, my bulldog friend Dan Riehl notices that a certain fellow has some curious research interests . . . NTTAWWT. IYKWIMAITYD.

BTW, I’m blogging from the campus of George Washington University, where the Young America’s Foundation is holding its 31st Annual National Conservative Leadership Conference. Just dropped in to say hi to Jason Mattera, who blogged about the massive fail by Campus Progress disrupters.

Meanwhile, the Left is accusing the Right of organizing dissent at congressional town-hall meetings. The great thing about being a Democrat is that no one can accuse you of not having standards. Two of them, in fact!

Me? I’m a one-man angry mob.

August 6, 2009

Libertarian Skinny-Dipping in Daytona: Hayekian Facts vs. ‘Journalism Ethics’

To the commenter who accused me of committing a “travesty of journalistic ethics”:

  • Your comment was rejected. If you want to run me down, do it on your own blog. Flame wars are good for traffic, but you do not have permission to use my bandwidth to malign me.
  • Ethics, shmethics. Truth may not be a journalist’s only duty, but it’s massively more important than whatever’s second most important. If I accurately report the facts, I’ve done my job — and just getting the facts right is hard enough.
I learned this as a sports writer. Simple question: If I’m covering a high-school baseball game, does accepting free food from the booster moms at the concession stand constitute a breach of “journalistic ethics”?

If so, then I kissed ethics good-bye in 1986. But I always got the final score right and you could probably count on one hand the times I committed the true “travesty” in small-town journalism: Misspelling a kid’s name. (Hey, when a kid’s mom calls you up to cuss you out, you remember a thing like that.)

Get the facts right, and how many free hot dogs you eat is your own business. Nobody cares about your opinion of the Calhoun High starting backfield — if this year is like most years, they’re a tad on the slow side — but you’ve got to accurately report the total rushing yardage. (Which, if this year is like most years, won’t be much.)

Because most journalists are Democrats, the political journalist who is not a Democrat tends to be viewed with disdain by the rest of the profession. I’m fine with that. But my political opinions — “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted For Bob Barr!” — are not a license for other people to give me lectures on “ethics.”

You Can Quote Me On That
“Ethics, schmethics,” as I told Bob Barr while we walked to the Fish On Fire seafood restaurant from the crappy fleabag hotel (“International Conference Center,” my foot) where the Libertarian Party held its March 2007 national conference of state party chairs.

Certainly, I was no less ethical than Dave Weigel, my co-panelist in the “How to Deal With Media” discussion, which was the purpose (or pretext, if you prefer) of our expense-paid junket to Orlando.

Our publications (Dave was then at Reason magazine) got exclusive coverage without having to pay for our travel, which is a pretty cool deal. Of course, under such an arrangement, you’re not going to do a rip-the-lid-off exposé — “Fear and Loathing in Orlando: A Savage and Decadent Saga of Libertarian Depravity” — but neither are you required to do a total puff piece.

In a universe of facts, not every fact can be reported, and what happens in Orlando stays in Orlando. That’s what I tried to explain to Bob Barr, afterI excused myself from dinner with the LP brain trust, went back to my hotel and returned with a stack of towels.

“You were serious?” said the former member of the House Judiciary Committee.

“Serious as a heart attack, Bob,” I answered, reiterating the plan I’d been discussing with the LP brain trust. “Look, it’s almost 10 o’clock now and it’s about an hour drive to Daytona Beach. We could stop by a fireworks store along the way, head to the beach, go skinny-dipping in the ocean, shoot off about $200 worth of fireworks — have some real fun!”

Did I mention that it was March? Spring break in Daytona, skinny-dipping in the Atlantic with the first member of Congress to bring charges of “high crimes and misdemeanors” against Bill Clinton — and that was before Lewinsky — man, what a story!

However, as I promised Bob, the Daytona expedition would remain strictly off-the-record. If the first three rules of journalism are “Accuracy, accuracy and accuracy,” then the fourth rule is: A good reporter never burns his sources.

So I can’t tell you whether or not the Libertarian Party brain trust took me up on that Daytona road-trip suggestion. (Don’t worry, Mrs. Barr. Bob was accompanied by a professional journalist the entire time. And I’ve got family values.)

However, I remind you of an important corollary to the Fourth Rule of Journalism: A good source never burns a reporter. When I call Bob Barr on his personal cell phone, he takes the call. IYKWIMAITYD.

Hayekian Journalism
This is the kind of keen journalistic insight necessary to advance from being a $4.50-an-hour staff writer for a 6,000-circulation weekly to become a top Hayekian public intellectual.

In a universe of facts, not every fact is sufficiently important to merit inclusion in a 700-word news story. Political news consumers in March 2007 were interested in the Libertarian Party’s prospects for . . . well, anything, really. When the Libertarians have nerds like George Phillies, stoners like Steve Kubby and fanatical purists like Mary Ruwart seeking the presidential nomination, and when the party’s 2008 convention requires six ballots to decide Barr is the better candidate, you can’t be blamed for wondering if they’re really serious about politics.

However remote the chance that the LP could influence the outcome of the 2008 election, serious political news consumers were interested in that stuff. Certainly, those readers had no interest in the trivial matter of whether, shortly after 11:30 p.m. on the evening of Saturday, March 17, 2007, Bob Barr and the Libertarian brain trust were cavorting nude with a half-dozen Purdue University coeds in the Atlantic surf of Daytona Beach.

That’s the kind of sleazy, sensational tabloid stuff that no serious political journalist would be interested in reporting. For less than $10,000.

Neither Confirm Nor Deny, Bob
Hey, I write for money — that’s what it means to be a professional, as opposed to an amateur clown like Dennis “Bozo” Zaki, who actually lied about being a CNN stringer. In the Hayekian universe of facts, a reporter must exercise judgment about which facts are important enough to include in a news story, but I wouldn’t knowingly publish a lie for any sum you could name.

Speculation about the sex lives of Republicans seems to be a full-time career for some people, but until there’s actual proof — a court document, an arrest report, a flight to Argentina — such gossip is no more newsworthy than baseless innuendo about whether Barr and the LP brain trust took me up on that Daytona road-trip plan.

If some “source” ever tells you over beers that, shortly before dawn on Sunday, March 18, 2007, Bob Barr was passed out nude in the back seat of a rented Chevy SUV, while the other members of the LP brain trust were so hopelessly hammered that they’d taken the desperate measure of agreeing to let me drive back to Orlando — well, in a circumstance like that, you’d be obligated to let Bob have a chance to give you an official denial before you’d even dream of reporting such potentially defamatory gossip.

(“No comment,” Bob. Neither confirm nor deny. This will be the most priceless “no comment” in the history of political journalism. And a good source never burns a reporter.)

Likewise with Todd and Sarah Palin. As far as I’m concerned, their love life is not news. But it gets mighty cold in Wasilla sometimes, and there’s a Phantom Fireworks Superstore a block south of Silver Beach Avenue in Daytona, so if the Palins ever want to get some advice from a savvy media professional . . .

Well, should anybody feel the urge to hit the tip jar, don’t fight the feeling. I’m a professional. I write for money. Photography? That’s just a hobby. IYKWIMAITYD.

August 6, 2009

Nice Career You’ve Got There,Lefty Blogger . . .

Advice to amateur Bozos: Next time you get the urge to start making stuff up, don’t mess with Dan Riehl.

August 6, 2009

THE GRYPHEN FILES: Of Moonbats and ‘Minions’

“Yes I stand by every single word of it. Believe me if it had been wholly inaccurate you would NEVER have witnessed such a response by the Palin team and their minions.”
— “Gryphen,” a/k/a Jesse Griffin, Aug. 5, 2009

“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”
Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1927-2003)

One of the basic problems of liberalism is that it requires a false optimism about human nature. If you believe all human problems can be solved by goodwill (and, of course, a few billion dollars of taxpayer money) you are self-evidently a fool, and I’m too old to waste time arguing with fools.

The Vision of the Anointed, as Thomas Sowell has famously called the fundamental delusion of liberalism, necessarily leads to other errors, until eventually the True Believer finds himself imprisoned by a set of false assumptions which he cannot question, lest his entire worldview fall apart. Once a reasonably intelligent person begins in earnest to critically examine the truth-claims of liberalism, he will eventually become an ex-liberal.

Habits of thought, however, can be as difficult to break as a heroin addiction, and someone who gets into the habit of thinking that every Democrat is a saint and every Republican is evil will have a hard time reconciling these beliefs with the facts.

As John Adams said, facts are stubborn things, and the fact is that Jesse Griffin’s victimhood schtick looks like the predictable reaction of a narcissistic phony caught in a lie. Griffin is counting on his fellow liberals to subscribe to a syllogism:

  • All liberals are good people;
  • Griffin is a liberal; ergo
  • Griffin is a good person.

If you think like that, you’re a chump. And if you think that everyone with a nice smile is a good person, you are also a chump. Ted Bundy had a nice smile. (As does Sarah Palin, for that matter.)

Griffin wants to make this all about Palin, and invite his fellow Palin-haters to believe that Palin is the ultimate source of Griffin’s woes.

Very convenient for Griffin, you see, as it seems that every dingbat in Anchorage with access to the Internet is spending all their time spreading malicious nonsense about Sarah Palin. So, by playing this Victim-of-Palin card, Griffin invites the swarm of blogospheric myrmidons to testify what a swell guy he is.

Whatever. I’ve spent five days working with Dan Riehl on this story, and it’s time for me to move on. By the time any members of the Anchorage PDS Moonbat Brigade read this, I’ll be on a train to D.C. to get back to the stories I was working on when Griffin ruined my weekend by claiming to know — for a fact — that Todd and Sarah Palin were getting divorced. As I wrote in my article earlier this morning:

Griffin’s story was immediately promoted by Dennis Zaki’s “Alaska Report” site, which claimed that “multiple sources” had confirmed the report. Jeanne Devon, an Anchorage Democratic activist who had previously blogged anonymously, also promoted Griffin’s “exclusive” at the Huffington Post.
As a result of this promotion, by Saturday afternoon Zaki’s headline, “Todd and Sarah Palin to divorce,” was the lead item at the popular Memeorandum political news site, even though it had already been officially denied by Palin spokeswoman Meg Stapleton.

That’s where the story stood a little after 4:30 p.m. ET Saturday when, taking a break from an article I was writing for the American Spectator, I decided to check Memeorandum and came to the erroneous conclusion that I’d been scooped by some nobody blogger in Anchorage.

This resulted in a phone call, and by 5:08 p.m., I had an authorized “completely false.” By 5:38 p.m., I had a direct quote from Sarah Palin. And I then spent a little time conclusively demonstrating that Dennis Zaki is a clueless Bozo who wouldn’t last a week covering the Floyd County Commission for the Rome (Ga.) News-Tribune. (The city editor is Mike Colombo; Bozos need not apply.)

This is what happens when stupid amateurs play “investigative reporter,” you see? And then Sunday afternoon, some anonymous Internet dude sent me an e-mail with the identity of “Gryphen.” I called Dan Riehl, who was CC’d on the e-mail, asked him what he thought, poked around a bit on the Google, and decided I’d better post it before Dan did, if I wanted the scoop.

Then I spent perhaps the sweatiest four hours of my professional career waiting for Dan to nail down the ID. If Griffin thinks he’s suffered hell this week, imagine if my anonymous e-mailer had ID’d the wrong “Gryphen.” Some poor schmuck who doesn’t even have a blog finds a lynch mob in his front yard — no, that would not do. Thank God, Dan nailed it.

Everything that I’ve done since then has been motivated by two factors:

  1. My love of a being in on a big story; and
  2. My personal opinion, as a father of six children, that I would be extremely angry if I found out somebody like Jesse Griffin was a teaching assistant in my kid’s kindergarten class.

One of my sources, somebody who was never quoted or even mentioned in our reporting, is a Ph.D. expert in such matters.

“How in the blazes did they hire this guy?” said my source, after being filled in (names excluded) on the background, including the quotes from “Gryphen” when he was still anonymous.

Maybe it’s all perfectly innocent. Maybe Griffin’s the sweetest guy in the world. But as my source put it, any school principal who hires a middle-aged divorced man as “an assistant teacher in a room full of five year old children” needs to have their head examined.

Simply as a statistical proposition, it’s a nightmare of unnecessary risk. My own daughter is majoring in early elementary education, and it’s not like there is any shortage of potential kindergarten teachers.

Well, I’ll let Dan Riehl fight it out from here. But I still have questions because — thanks to Dan’s ace research skills — I know what the Anchorage school district was paying Griffin, and it sure isn’t enough to make the payments on a $330,000 house.

Griffin keeps talking about having some other job that’s his main source of income, but if he’s actually being paid — by the National Enquirer, maybe? — to do journalism, he needs to be fired from that, too.

Maybe he’s not a pervert, but he sure as hell is not a reporter. Now you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a train to catch. And don’t forget to hit the tip jar — good minions don’t come cheap.

LOOK FOR UPDATES AT RIEHL WORLD VIEW.

August 6, 2009

EXIT, LYING: SCHOOL’S OUT FORANTI-PALIN BLOGGER GRIFFIN

ANCHORAGE KINDERGARTEN AIDE
RESIGNS FOLLOWING DISCLOSURE

Jesse Griffin, the Alaska blogger who Saturday claimed in an “exclusive” report that Todd and Sarah Palin were divorcing, will no longer work as an Anchorage kindergarten teaching assistant, school officials confirmed Wednesday.

Griffin’s resignation followed revelations that the 49-year-old Griffin had posted (under the alias “Gryphen”) sexually explicit advocacy of pornography and masturbation on his “Immoral Minority” blog. (See “Give Jesse Enough Rope” WARNING: GRAPHIC LANGUAGE.)

Because Griffin’s MySpace profile page featured a link to “Immoral Minority,” that material — as well as other vulgar content, including descriptions of former Gov. Palin as “a nasty b*tch” who wore “f*** me pumps” — could have been accessed by anyone searching online for “Jesse Griffin” in Anchorage. (See “Jesse Griffin: Disturbing Revelations,” by Dan Riehl.)

Investigative blogger Dan Riehl on Wednesday spoke by phone with Anchorage school district officials who seemed to have been previously unaware of the graphic content on Griffin’s “Immoral Minority” site. (See “Jesse Griffin: Latest Developments,” by Dan Riehl. )

Riehl was interviewed Wednesday evening about the Griffin case on Eddie Burke’s popular Anchorage KBYR radio program. Burke said on the program that school officials told him that Griffin had submitted his resignation and that the district had “no record of any inappropriate actions” by Griffin while he was employed at Trailside Elementary School in Anchorage.

“Sarah is finished with Todd and has decided to end their marriage,” Griffin wrote at “Immoral Minority” Saturday morning, saying that “one of [his] best sources” had told him the Palins were divorcing. Griffin’s story was immediately promoted by Dennis Zaki’s “Alaska Report” site, which claimed that “multiple sources” had confirmed the report.

Jeanne Devon, an Anchorage Democratic activist who had previously blogged anonymously, also promoted Griffin’s “exclusive” at the Huffington Post. As a result of this promotion, by Saturday afternoon Zaki’s headline, “Todd and Sarah Palin to divorce,” was the lead item at the popular Memeorandum political news site, even though it had already been officially denied by Palin spokeswoman Meg Stapleton.

Griffin wrote on his blog Wednesday, “I stand by every single word” of the original report, which accused Sarah Palin of attempting “to hide a broken relationship” with husband Todd.

Griffin blamed “the Palin team and their minions” for discovery of his “Gryphen” online alias, which he says resulted in death threats and harassment. During his KBYR interview, Riehl disparaged Griffin’s credibility.

“Right now, the best I can tell, [Griffin] has ‘bogus’ written so much all over him it should be his middle name,” Riehl said, adding that he had discovered “one lie after another” from Griffin.

Griffin wrote Wednesday at “Immoral Minority” that he had a “long career working with children in gymnasiums, camps, and various schools.”

After revelations that Griffin had used his “Immoral Minority” site to advocate “self pleasure” and express his preference for amateur pornography, Griffin told his blog readers Wednesday: “I think what is truly frightening is how ready some people are to believe that just because you are a male who works with kids you must be a pervert. . . . The truth is that I have never even been accused of anything inappropriate with a child in my classroom, camp, or home. It has simply never happened.”

Further updates are expected at RIEHL WORLD VIEW.

August 6, 2009

Baldilocks:

It’s been six months of Groundhog Day with a twist: everyday we wake up to some new piece of jaw-dropping news regarding the short-term tactics and/or long term strategies of this Administration

August 6, 2009

Dr. Barbara Oakley revisited: does this tinfoil hat make my head look fat?

by Smitty

Stacy, as an actual journalist, responded to Dr. Barbara Oakley’s survey of journalistic motives here. As neither a journalist nor a psychologist, and an amateur student of history at best, allow me to opine on some of the drivers that have tipped journalism in the Democrat, or Progressive, direction.

Dr. Oakley’s article begins in Soviet Russia, and is justifiably critical of academia:

Most journalists take a number of psychology, sociology, political science, and humanities courses during their early years in college. Unfortunately, these courses have long served as ideological training programs—ignoring biological sources of self-serving, corrupt, and criminal behavior for a number of reasons, including lack of scientific training; postmodern, antiscience bias; and well-intentioned, facts-be-damned desire to have their students view the world from an egalitarian perspective. Instead, these disciplines ram home the idea that troubled behavior can be fixed through expensive socialist programs that, coincidentally, provide employment opportunities for graduates of the social sciences.

For those interested in connecting the dots, you can read about the Cold War interactions of the Soviets and the US, on a political level in Blacklisted by History. Hint: it was a full-on ideological war, which those sycophants of the Soviets did everything they could to disguise. While she mentions the cretin, she appears unfamiliar with Roger Simon’s expose on Walter Duranty.

Eric S. Raymond makes the discussion of Soviet ideological war waged against the US quite explicit in Gramscian Damage:

Americans have never really understood ideological warfare. Our gut-level assumption is that everybody in the world really wants the same comfortable material success we have. We use “extremist” as a negative epithet. Even the few fanatics and revolutionary idealists we have, whatever their political flavor, expect everybody else to behave like a bourgeois.

We don’t expect ideas to matter — or, when they do, we expect them to matter only because people have been flipped into a vulnerable mode by repression or poverty. Thus all our divagation about the “root causes” of Islamic terrorism, as if the terrorists’ very clear and very ideological account of their own theory and motivations is somehow not to be believed.

Further on:

In a previous post on Suicidalism, I identified some of the most important of the Soviet Union’s memetic weapons. Here is that list again:

  • There is no truth, only competing agendas.
  • All Western (and especially American) claims to moral superiority over Communism/Fascism/Islam are vitiated by the West’s history of racism and colonialism.
  • There are no objective standards by which we may judge one culture to be better than another. Anyone who claims that there are such standards is an evil oppressor.
  • The prosperity of the West is built on ruthless exploitation of the Third World; therefore Westerners actually deserve to be impoverished and miserable.
  • Crime is the fault of society, not the individual criminal. Poor criminals are entitled to what they take. Submitting to criminal predation is more virtuous than resisting it.
  • The poor are victims. Criminals are victims. And only victims are virtuous. Therefore only the poor and criminals are virtuous. (Rich people can borrow some virtue by identifying with poor people and criminals.)
  • For a virtuous person, violence and war are never justified. It is always better to be a victim than to fight, or even to defend oneself. But ‘oppressed’ people are allowed to use violence anyway; they are merely reflecting the evil of their oppressors.
  • When confronted with terror, the only moral course for a Westerner is to apologize for past sins, understand the terrorist’s point of view, and make concessions.

Ask Lt. Gen. Pacepa about the related effort to discredit the POTUS. The point is that the Cold War was, indeed, a war. If that point eludes you, refer to ESR: “Americans have never really understood ideological warfare”.

Thus, in addition to the growing native affinity for Progressive thought, as explored by Goldberg, there was significant external effort to destabilize the country, possibly roping in current members of Congress.

Of course academia was a target of all this, and the decay produced results explored by Alan Bloom, and wonderfully rendered as a talk at Heritage by Evan Sayet.

Coming full circle to Dr. Oakley’s piece, I think she bears witness to some horrible intellectual damage that has been done to the country’s academic system. However, addressing the scope and historical roots of the problem with any degree of honesty would trigger a hemorrhage. It just will not happen. A community is just a little lest honest than the worst cretin within. It’s tempting to call the current crop of journalists a bunch of Sophists, except that the ancient Sophists probably knew more and thought more effectively.

However, let’s not go wasting our hate on these weenies. A proper capitalistic answer, like PJTV to the networks, is to locate and support conservative universities. Learn facts. Understand reasoned arguments. Make liberal heads ‘splode. Let’s finish on the hyper-cynical note of Don Henley on Dirty Laundry: