The "Great One" Has a Problem

For me, one of the biggest casualties of this election season is the respect I once held for Mark Levin. Before, I saw him as the smart, fiercely-principled (if a little temperamental) conservative responsible for one of the most valuable books on my shelves, Men in Black. But as the GOP primary battle has worn out its welcome, so has Levin. Through a series of radio outbursts, mistreated callers, and snide Facebook comments in which he exaggerates Mitt Romney’s flaws, understates the competitors’ flaws, and viciously attacks anyone who shows the slightest sympathy for him, Levin has shown himself to be dishonest, obnoxious, and afflicted with a serious anger management problem.
Last night, while looking around to see if anyone else on the Right had noticed this, I came across two very interesting Weekly Standard posts from 2010. In the first one, John McCormack reveals how Levin attacked his reporting on Christine O’Donnell’s gender discrimination lawsuit against the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, and after a few emails asking for elaboration, Levin simply replied, “Lol. I think you’re an ass. You can quote me.” In the second one, Stephen Hayes responds to Levin’s false claim that he or the Standard was in the tank for Mike Castle, and Levin’s petty whining that Hayes didn’t mention that Levin endorsed Rubio early. Read them both in full; they’re quite illuminating.
The Great One? More like the Fake One. This is not somebody conservatives should be indulging or looking up to.
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ALERT: RedState Alters Diarists’ Posts? UPDATE: Fixed UPDATE 2: Second Offense

UPDATE (4/12/12): This morning, I emailed Erick Erickson about this. I just heard back from him. He says he doesn’t know how it happened, but it seems to be traceable back to someone with the same IP address. Most importantly, the post has been changed to its original form. Thanks to Erick for a quick response & resolution.

UPDATE 2 (4/22/12): A second post, another illicitly-added link to Erickson’s Perry-boosting. Hmmmm:

GOProud’s stated support for marriage federalism is highly misleading.

ORIGINAL POST: While working on another article, I looked up this post on drug legalization I posted on July 28, 2011, in my now-defunct RedState diary, and noticed something odd in this sentence:

The far-left ex-president is in rare agreement with National Review, which on June 27 called the bill “an excellent first step” toward ending a war that has “curtailed personal freedom.”

The “National Review” hyperlink goes to a post by Erick Erickson, where passes along Ben Domenech’s complaint that NR was biased toward Mitt Romney and had lost sight of conservative principles.

I didn’t put it there.

That post is dated December 15, 2011. I had been banned on November 27.

Apparently somebody at RedState went back and snuck the link in. Was it a petty attempt to get back at me by putting something I disagreed with in my own writing? Or have they been doing this on a wider scale, spreading their material wherever they can without the diarists’ knowledge or consent?

I have no idea, but it’s certainly disturbing to see that RedState is no longer content with misleading writing and purging critics, and seems to have crossed the ethical line into manipulating the writing of others. Has anyone else – other bloggers, Eagle Publishing, anyone – picked up on what’s been going on at RedState?

How to Get Banned From RedState Without Breaking the Rules

Since July, I’ve maintained a diary on RedState.com. Unfortunately, that ended on Sunday, November 27, when moderator Neil Stevens banned me, blocking me from posting to, commenting on, and even viewing the site in my default browser. Here’s the transcript of the offending exchange:

buckedup: Let’s face it. There is no more perfect person currently alive in the world than Governor Perry.

Moe Lane: Posting here is a privilege, buckedup…not a right. Kindly grow up, which includes not pretending that you don’t know precisely what I’m talking about.

Calvin Freiburger: Clarification, Please. Which of RedState’s posting rules was Buckedup’s comment in violation of? http://www.redstate.com/posting-rules/

Moe Lane: Take it to the Contact Us link, Calvin Freiburger…if you have a problem or question about our moderation policy. And let me save time, because I’m traveling: my next (and likely continuing) response to your response to that will be “Take it to the Contact Us link if you have a problem or question about our moderation policy.” Because we’re not having a conversation.

Calvin Freiburger: The unwillingess of RedState personnel to answer very simple questions about their own conduct, and to do so publicly for the benefit of their audience, is deeply disturbing.

NightTwister: Funny, I didn’t see unwillingness. You were instructed to take it to the Contact Us link. The fact that they aren’t interested in this particular case to do it publicly is their prerogative. I mean, it is their private property, something conservatives hold dear.

Calvin Freiburger: Deferring all questions & criticism to the Contact Us link is a cop-out. There is no reason simple explanations for disconcerting conduct cannot be given publicly, especially when the concern in question — the vagueness of the criteria by which violations are being judged — is in the interest of the entire audience. Don’t RedState’s readers have a fair expectation that the site’s moderators will hold themselves to the site’s own stated rules? I completely agree that Erickson, Lane, etc. can run the website however they choose. And we have the right to judge them accordingly.

NightTwister: So you’re the judge of “fair” here? You really don’t get the private property thing, do you? I’m not surprised.

Calvin Freiburger: No more so or less so than everybody else. And “the private property thing” is a complete non sequitur to this conversation.

NightTwister: Should be “less so” in your case and mine. This isn’t a public site. This website is privately owned. That means the owners can make and enforce the rules however they like, and they are the final determiners of what is “fair”.

You may not like that, but nobody is forcing you to come here. As for your non sequitur, you prove my point. You don’t understand private property.

Calvin Freiburger: I’ve already acknowledged their right to run RS however they want. Someone’s right to use private property in a certain way doesn’t mean someone can’t or shouldn’t be criticized from behaving badly with their private property. If Streiff, Moe Lane, and company want to falsely accuse people of rule violations, that’s their right. But it’s also my right to notice whether or not doing so reflects badly on RedState and Eagle Publishing.

NightTwister: It’s not a “right” but it would appear for now that they are going to allow you to continue in your quest to right all the wrongs on the interwebz at RedState.

Bill S: Door’s to the right. Moe’s instructions were unambiguous. You obviously lack comprehension skills.

Calvin Freiburger: Do the powers-that-be at Eagle Publishing know this is what you consider an acceptable way to treat their publication’s readers? And before you once again violate your own site’s Posting Rules with another attack on my “comprehension skills” (“2. Namecalling and personal attacks directed at other users is not allowed.”), I’ll just point out that I already have emailed the Contact Us link. Bill S, I have never treated you, or anyone on this website, with dishonestly or unprovoked hostility. I don’t understand what grounds you have for considering me an enemy, other than the fact that I’ve expressed concern over the behavior of certain individuals, have objections to Rick Perry, and think some Romney supporters are being treated unfairly.

Neil Stevens: G’bye. You’ve repeatedly been warned to follow directions. You clearly can’t. I’ve had it.

Bill S: Have a nice life. Neil did me the favor of booting you so I didn’t have to bother with it. My observation about your comprehension skills was a pretty black and white one, given your repeated refusal to follow instructions. Either you didn’t comprehend or you just decided to act like a jackass. In either case, your banning was justified.

My interest in grilling the moderators was sparked after I observed a pattern of sleazy conduct by RedState’s moderators, primarily in the form of harassment against those who defend Mitt Romney or criticize Rick Perry (see below). I’ll be the first to admit I knew I was playing a dangerous game by openly calling the mods out on such behavior. But Stevens’ stated rationale for banning me—that I disobeyed repeated warnings to follow directions—is a lie.

First, RedState’s own Posting Rules say nothing that could possibly be construed as requiring commenters to stop discussing subjects simply because a moderator expresses a desire not to talk about it himself. If a website explicitly says, these are the rules you have to follow, users have a fair expectation that those are the rules they’ll be judged by, not by arbitrary whims. It’s meaningless to even have formal rules if RedState’s actual practice is to fabricate reasons for banning people on the spot.

Second, I was not “repeatedly warned” about my behavior. Not once did Stevens warn me in any way. The only “warning” Moe Lane suggested to me was that my replies to him would be a waste of time because he would answer them all the same way. At no point did he even imply that continuing to discuss my concerns publicly was itself a bannable offense. Bill S’s reply to me did not contain any such warning, either; he merely leveled a personal insult at me—that I “obviously lack comprehension skills”—for not silencing myself. Despite Bill’s decision to violate RedState’s stated Posting Rule against “personal attacks directed at other users,” I took great pains to not respond in kind while defending myself, expressing my offense at his behavior in a firm yet respectful manner that was not profane or vulgar, did not name-call, and did not personally attack. (The only other possible interpretation, that “NightTwister’s” jabs constituted some sort of binding warnings, would be too stupid to take seriously. He’s not a moderator, and I was responding fairly to his insults.)

Third, and most significantly, the comment Stevens banned me for couldn’t have violated any instruction to stop questioning Moe Lane, for the simple fact that it was not responding to Moe Lane. It was specifically responding to Bill’s unprovoked attack on me, and did not restate the question I posed to Lane. In fact, the only reference that comment made to my exchange with Lane was a perfectly innocent clarification that I followed Lane’s instruction to use the Contact page!

Simply put, Neil Stevens—whose signature, ironically, contains a call to “Read the RedState Posting Rules”—banned me not for breaking any of the rules, but for defending myself against his colleague’s rule-breaking.

I emailed RedState—both their general contact and Erick Erickson’s personal email—three times, explaining what had happened in perfectly respectful terms. Nobody responded. I also left a comment at Stevens’ own blog, which he refused to publish or address. I gave RedState ample opportunity to settle this civilly; they rejected that opportunity (and we know that Erickson reads his email), leaving me with no choice but to publicly call out the dishonesty, immaturity, and unprofessionalism of those running what is supposed to be an honorable, serious publication.

Here’s a sampling of the aforementioned unseemly conduct from site moderators:

  • “Streiff” admitted that he doesn’t follow RedState’s Posting Rules in banning Romney supporters, but that he’ll ban them “for disagreeing, for threadjacking, for asshattery, for having red hair, for whatever.” He has also endorsed the idea of banning all Romney supporters from the website.
  • “Streiff” responded to my last diary with a comment full of personal insults—“pretty stupid,” “salted with idiocy,” “Calvin Furburger’s lack of knowledge,” “When your world began only 22 years ago”—that didn’t even accurately critique anything I wrote. That article, by the way, got 84 comments, virtually all of them critical of me, including many overt personal attacks. Among my critics were three moderators—“Streiff,” Moe Lane, and Bill S—none of whom lifted a finger about any of the pro-Perry rule-breaking.
  • Responding to allegations that RedState discriminates against Romney supporters, Erick Erickson told Politico that those who were banned had smeared others as anti-Mormon bigots, which one of the banned commenters, pro-Romney blogger Phil Larsen, denies. I asked the moderators to direct us to the quote in which Larsen did what Erickson claimed. They couldn’t. Such a quote doesn’t appear in the thread where “Streiff” banned Larsen. What does appear, though, is “Streiff” calling Phil & his brother Ryan “buttboy,” as well as saying they, along with commenter “jackdaniels11,” have a “homoerotic attachment to Romney.”
  • Bill S said outright that Romney “groupies” “are not welcome” at RedState.
  • Neil Stevens childishly mocked a commenter who suggested RedState has an excessive anti-Romney bias, equating support for Romney with homosexual feelings—“Mitt Romney’s married. You shouldn’t lust after him like that”; “Don’t use that word [sucks]. It’ll just get him hot and bothered”; and “Coming out as a Romney fan is a traumatic thing.”
  • Stevens threatened to ban a commenter for promoting the anti-incumbent organization Get Out Of Our House. When another commenter asked, “It seems like a pretty boring site. Why the hard-core reaction?” Stevens responded: “Complaints to the contact page. Don’t like it? Tough.” When the commenter called Stevens out on being “mean,” he blew up: “Can you read? I said complaints to the contact page. If you continue to threadjack I will ban you. Don’t like that? Take it to the contact page. Or you can go make your own website and whine about how mean I was to you. I don’t care. Just don’t comment about it in this thread anymore.”
  • On top of all the pro-Perry misconduct and rule-breaking practiced and tolerated by RedState personnel, “Streiff” has incredibly claimed that the misbehavior of Romney fans—“nasty little jerks”—has been so overwhelming as to turn him against Romney. It’s almost as if he’s daring someone to notice his hypocrisy. Well, “Streiff,” I’m happy to oblige.

I did a little searching after my banning, and found that lots of people have had similar experiences. Granted, some of them are probably just vengeful leftists, but most? All?

Under Erick Erickson’s leadership, RedState has become dominated by a handful of unethical, unprofessional thugs, more interested in enforcing “correct” opinion and playing Internet jackboot than in doing their ostensible jobs. Hopefully, sooner or later someone at Eagle Publishing will realize that one of their publications is being run into the ground, and restore some self-respect to RedState. The last thing the Right needs is its own equivalent of the Daily Kos.

The Blog Post That Should End Two Careers (Updated)

No, not this one. This one. [WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT AT LINK.] My NewsRealBlog colleagues David Swindle and Jenn Public have compiled an absolutely stunning, sickening array of evidence exposing the pedophile tendencies and sympathies of former NRB contributor – and current FrumForum contributor – Alex Knepper. Knepper, you may recall, got canned from NRB and retaliated with a persecution story that didn’t hold water. At this point, it goes without saying that this should be the final nail in Knepper’s career, and if the reaction of Breitbart and NewsBusters is any indication, it may very well be.

But ultimately, Knepper’s a punk of limited significance. More importantly, this post should be the final proof that David Frum has hit rock-bottom, that he doesn’t care about the degeneracy of those who prove useful to him, and is therefore as unprincipled as they come and deserves to be ejected from the few remaining corners of the conservative movement in which he somehow isn’t seen as a disgrace. Frum apologists and lapdogs like John Guardiano – at least, the ones who still claim to have scruples – can no longer ignore the evidence of Frum’s indecency. Those who refuse to abandon this sinking moral ship deserve to go down with it.

UPDATE: Predictably, the pro-dishonesty Guardiano has chosen the sinking ship. That he accuses David Swindle – a socially-liberal blogger with a clear record of supporting not only gay rights, but also (some) gay political causes – of homophobia should be all the proof we need that Guardiano simply does not believe in holding himself to any meaningful standards of honesty and ethics.

"Atheist Ethicist" Should Rethink Blog’s Title

Atheist blogger Alonzo Fyfe is up in arms over a controversy in Illinois. It seems that, while debating a proposed public donation to Pilgrim Baptist Church in Chicago, Democrat Rep. Monique Davis went nuclear on area atheist activist Rob Sherman:

I don’t know what you have against God, but some of us don’t have much against him. We look forward to him and his blessings. And it’s really a tragedy—it’s tragic—when a person who is engaged in anything related to God, they want to fight. They want to fight prayer in school. I’m trying to understand the philosophy that you want to spread in the state of Illinois. This is the Land of Lincoln. This is the Land of Lincoln, where people believe in God, where people believe in protecting their children […] What you have to spew and spread is extremely dangerous, it’s dangerous…It’s dangerous to the progression of this state. And it’s dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists! Now you will go to court to fight kids to have the opportunity to be quiet for a minute. But damn if you’ll go to [court] to fight for them to keep guns out of their hands. I am fed up! Get out of that seat! […] You have no right to be here! We believe in something. You believe in destroying! You believe in destroying what this state was built upon.

Anybody who’s ever listened to Christopher Hitchens for about five minutes knows there’s at least a strain of atheism that is so “enraged in anything related to God, they want to fight.” I agree that atheist attempts to purge even the most innocuous signs of America’s religious heritage from the public sphere are attempts to destroy America’s foundation, and I suspect most atheists trying to rewrite history know better. Is disbelief in God dangerous? In activist form, absolutely. I’d even say the accusation that Sherman “believe[s] in destroying” is accurate, since
this is his idea of a good cause. However, it is stupid to suggest an atheist has “no right” to be part of the debate and decision-making process.

On
his website, Sherman reports that Davis called him to apologize:

Rep. Davis said that she had been upset, earlier in the day, to learn that a twenty-second and twenty-third Chicago Public School student this school year had been shot to death that morning. She said that it was wrong for her to take out her anger, frustrations and emotions on me, and that she apologized to me. I told her that her explanation was reasonable and that I forgave her.

End of story? Not for Fyfe: evidently the apology is
even worse than the initial comments:

She hears about a school shooting, and she immediate takes it out on the first atheist she comes into contact with. She says, “You believe in destroying” and “It is dangerous for children to even know that your philosophy exists.” Obviously, she is a victim of the prejudice that says that atheists and evolutionists have been responsible for every act of school violence since Columbine. This was no apology. This was actually nothing more than Davis admitting her bigotry, and slapping Sherman and all atheists again with the accusation that atheism was responsible for this student’s death.

What is this guy smoking? The original context of her explanation is crystal-clear: horrible news of yet another injustice against a child filled her with pent-up anger looking for an outlet, and she blew up in the face of a passionate disagreement, which just happened to be with an atheist. Presumably, had the docket been different that day, any number of different straws could have broken the camel’s back.

There is not a shred of substance behind this attempt to play victim. But then, it’s not as if Alonzo Fyfe really gives a damn about demagoguery—about scientists (and those backing them) actively working to disprove the Left’s global warming propaganda, he
says:

I consider those who funded and supported this campaign to be among the most evil people that this planet has hatched, easily comparing to those Nazis who not only knew about the Holocaust but actually participated in it. These people are willing to put hundreds of millions to billions of people at risk, and inflict tends of trillions of dollars, all for the sake of personal profit.
Peddling false claims about other people doing precisely the sort of thing the peddler is guilty of isn’t quite my idea of an “ethicist.”
UPDATE: Apparently I’m a bigot because I don’t think challenging the secular crusade is akin to making atheists second-class citizens. Heh.

The Latest on Rudy

Laura Ingraham gets this week’s “Pundit with Principles” award for (not following Hannity’s lead and) actually grilling Giuliani on abortion.

I’m currently
debating the Mayor’s support for premeditated child homicide at Bloggers4Rudy.

If Rudy “hates” abortion, he’s got some ‘splainin’ to do:
Remarks to NARAL’s “Champions of Choice” Luncheon, and his spin as to why he donated to Planned Parenthood doesn’t hold water. (hat tip: EFM)

Bill Donohue
asks a great question: “If helping pregnant women make choices is the supreme issue for Rudy Giuliani, then he should be able to document all the checks he’s written to support Crisis Pregnancy Centers—not just Planned Parenthood. If he can’t, it is logical to conclude that the only real choice he thinks is worthy of his money is the one which results in the death of innocent human beings. And that would make him a fraud.” (hat tip: K-Lo)

“But he significantly increased adoptions in the Big Apple, right?”
Not so fast.

Oh and by the way, Rudy’s problems aren’t all abortion-related: meet
Bernie Kerik, the elephant in the room (no pun intended).