Saturday, September 26, 2009

'You'd be surprised what some of these morons write on the Internet'

Actually, I'm not surprised at all, but I'm grateful the guy who answered the phone was willing to talk when he got a call from me past 10 p.m. on a Saturday. My brief report for The American Spectator:
"Yes, we are concerned about what people are saying on the blogs," a Kentucky law enforcement official said Saturday night, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The murder of Bill Sparkman in Clay County, Ky., has caused bloggers to engage in widespread speculation about the motive for the killing. Sparkman was employed part-time conducting a Census Bureau survey. . . .
The Kentucky State Police are coordinating the investigation of Sparkman's death. Trooper First Class Don Trosfer, based in the agency's London, Ky., Post 11 is the official spokesman for the investigation, but was unavailable for comment late Saturday.
Another law-enforcement source, not authorized to speak about the case, said state and local officials are working closely with the FBI on the investigation. Internet gossip is a source of concern, he said.
"You'd be surprised what some of these morons write on the Internet . . . that they wouldn't say to somebody's face," the official said in a brief telephone interview. . . .
Read the whole story. Two phone calls and a little research was all it took to get that story. Oh, by the way: Bill Sparkman worked for a decade as a reporter in his native Florida. He deserves some decent journalism, and not baseless rumor-mongering.

UPDATE 1:50 a.m.: Well, folks, it looks like I'm going to be Kentucky-bound to cover this story in person -- another one of those double-dog-dare-ya adventures in shoe-leather reporting.

Thanks to TB in North Carolina, BD in Maryland, AL in Rhode Island, a big thanks to JS in Virginia, and a huge thanks to Nathan in Missouri, the Shoe Leather Reporting Fund quickly collected enough to get me to Kentucky and back.

Additional contributions are welcome, to enable me to extend this trip. Just got off the phone with the lady at the desk of a hotel near I-75, about 20 miles from Manchester, Ky. A single room is about $95 per night, tax included. If you figure 2 packs of smokes/day at $5 each, five cups coffee/day at $2 each, continental breakfast comes with the room, so two meals/day at $5 each -- the basic daily expenses come to $125. Of course, I've got regular bills to pay, but I'll worry about that later.

Just think about Andrew Sullivan sitting there in Pathum, Thailand -- I'm not kidding -- lecturing Michelle Malkin (!) on conservatism:
By the way, there is nothing conservative about Southern populism.
OK, Sully, enjoy your Thai holiday, while I get my 2004 KIA ready for a 500-mile road trip to Clay County, Kentucky (Monday's forecast for Manchester, Ky.: High 70F, low 47F, cloudy, 20% chance of rain) and let me show you how it's done. You just go on back to speculating about Sarah Palin's uterus and leave Kentucky to me.

C'mon, dear brothers, can I get an "amen"?

CORRECTION: I don't think Sully's actually in Thailand. His "View From Your Window" feature seems to be about readers e-mailing him photos of the view from thir windows, rather than his own global photographic travelogue.

My mistake and I'm happy to correct it. Harvard-educated, obstretric-obsessive, AIDS-infected, dope-smoking British immigrants don't have a monopoly on jumping to incorrect conclusions, you know.

BTW, some people have a crazy hunch this Kentucky thing might involve teenagers and the horrorcore rap scene. Maybe they're wrong about that, too . . .


  1. As Andrew Sullivan demonstrated to the nutroots: why investigate when you can endlessly and effortlessly speculate? It only takes a couple of bong hits really. Without the talent to write or probe deeply or analyze facts based on logic, most lefty bloggers simply resort to bad fiction. You wouldn't expect good fiction from a group that celebrates Oliver Stone and Sean Penn, now would you?

  2. I can not beleive a once respectable magazine has thrown their good name down the toilet by still employing fabulist and Palin uterus expert just foe webisite traffic numbers.

  3. I'm in for 2 1/2 cups of coffee to keep a real journalist from falling asleep at the wheel and losing the story.

    When he references "Southern populism," I assume that Sullivan is actually referring to Peckerwood Populism, which is no longer limited in scope to the Old South.

    Sullivan's certainly wrong about one thing: Peckerwood Populism has a LOT to do with conservatism. It is an attempt to marry libertarianism to "states rights" conservatism (a marriage in which I hope libertarians will reject on the grounds given in 2 Corinthians 6:14).

    Which is neither here nor there, because we don't have the real poop on the Sparkman story yet, because nobody's climbed in his Kia to go get it yet. Good on you for being the guy to do that.

  4. Hope to see you on a "live report" from Kentucky with a little common sense journalism. Show 'em how it's done!

  5. Oh, this is great: Doing the mainstream shoeleather reporting that Lefty bloggers just won't do!


  6. Spending $50 a day on gas, cigarettes, and coffee while avoiding paying work?

    No wonder your wife isn't talking to you.

  7. Tom Knapp wrote: Which is neither here nor there, because we don't have the real poop on the Sparkman story yet, because nobody's climbed in his Kia to go get it yet. Good on you for being the guy to do that.

    Thanks, Tom. As for "Peckerwood Populism," or Sully's own prejudices against "Southern populism," I think there is some confusion between politics and policy, style and substance.

    I believe in a constitutionally limited government for the same reasons Madison and Jefferson -- those two nasty old "Southern populists" -- expressed in the Virginia and Kentucky resolutions. If government rests on the consent of the governed, then it behooves us to ask exactly what the governed have consented to. When they discarded the Articles of Confederation, ratified the Constitution, and thus agreed to "form a more perfect Union," what were the limits they sought to impose on the common government the American people thereby formed?

    To answer that question, we must look not only at the arguments in favor of ratification -- compiled in the Federalist Papers -- but also look to the arguments against ratification. The proponents of ratification had to overcome the arguments of the anti-federalists, including both George Mason and Patrick Henry, who warned that the government created by the Constitution was insufficiently limited, and might result in a too-powerful centralized government that threated American liberty. "Oh, no, that could never happen," said the Federalists.

    Well, flash forward to 2009, and if some DEA agent is reading this, I want to assure my friends at the DEA that Tom Knapp of Missouri would never use illegal drugs. Furthermore, I am confident that Tom Knapp of Missouri is quite scrupulous in reporting every cent of his income to the IRS. And I would further assure any lurking readers at the FBI that Tom Knapp of Missouri would never download any porn unless he was 100% certain that the participants in the production of aforesaid porn were all consenting adults. Sure, all that P2P file-sharing activity Tom does may look a little suspicious, but Tom's just pursuing his long-time quest to compile the world's most comprehensive collection of Engelbert Humperdink digital recordings.

    Obviously, Tom, it would be sheer lunacy to suggest, as did Mason and Henry, that the system of government adopted at Philadelphia in 1787 might eventually go off the rails, resulting in a centralized Leviathan state that recklessly spends the citizenry into paupery while abrogating their ancient liberties. Just ask one of Obama's czars about this -- they'll tell you Patrick Henry was full of crap, and who can argue with a czar?

    Again, Tom, thanks for the cup of coffee, and don't worry about flushing your doobage down the toilet, trying to hide your unreported cash or scrubbing your hard drive -- I'm sure the feds don't bother reading the stuff that morons write on the Internet, aren't you?

    Relax. There is nothing to fear. Big Brother loves you, man. Pay no attention to the two guys in that unmarked sedan parked down the block. If you hear helicopters overhead, don't sweat it. You've got me to vouch for your good character. Take two Soma and call me in the morning.

  8. I can't find your trackback link, or I'd do that instead of just pimping my blog.

    Looking forward to the results of your investigation.


  9. Stay in neighboring Pulaski County. Lake Cumberland is a treasure. However, remember that the area is "dry" so you might want to bring your own supplies.

    Great people in that part of Kentucky. Miss them dearly.

  10. Barney Frank put me out of work, but I am in for a pack of smokes. Shoe leather ftw!

  11. Clay County coroner has confirmed that "FED" was written across the chest of Bill Sparkman.

  12. I'm on it Stacy, I'll point to this effort in today's Sunday Reach Around at the Left Coast Rebel and will send you a little dinero as well. Good luck with the trip........

  13. Stacy,

    Thanks for the sermon on limited government, but you're trying to teach grandpa to suck eggs.

    I'm not quite as old as you, but by the time you arrived at the Times I'd long since read both the Federalist Papers and what I could track down of the Anti-Federalist arguments (this was pre-Internet), and certainly considered the Anti-Federalist side more compelling and the Articles of Confederation superior to the Constitution with one exception (the Articles clearly banned secession; the Constitution clearly accommodated it), positions which I hold to to this very day.

    To describe Madison as a "populist" is, if not to torture the language, at least to poke at it with pins. Jefferson's writings contained seeds of two kinds of populism -- a libertarian populism on one hand; on the other, a (then "southern," now national and named by me "Peckerwood") populism that hawked up the "states' rights" vomit to which, like dogs, its adherents keep returning.

    I don't worry too much about being dragged away over doobage, Danegeld or smut -- not because I trust the feds, but because if they decide they want me on any of those things, they'll get me whether I'm actually guilty or not.

    As a side note, on two of the three, I'm most manifestly not guilty in the usual course of things. I don't care for marijuana -- yeah, I know that's hard to believe seeing as how I worked for Kubby, but it's true -- and only smoke it in public in front of cops at protests to partake in solidarity; and my porn tastes don't run even to the "barely legal" stuff, let alone the technically illegal. As for the third topic, guilty, but apparently I'm such small fry that they're not interested in pursuing though I doth not flee.


  14. Sam Gatlin is on the move!

    Can't contribute any bucks Stacy [Mrs. B's been out of work for nearly 6 months and the roof's leaking], but if there's anything I can do, any grunt work via the ether, let me know.

  15. Overruled by Mrs. B on the donation.

  16. Boy, this is real journalism. You call up a local officials and get the following quotes:

    "Yes we are concerned about what people are saying on the blogs" and "You'd be surprised what some of these morons write on the Internet . . . that they wouldn't say to somebody's face," the latter being an observation anyone could say about any story on the Internet.

    The best part is:

    "Two phone calls and a little research was all it took to get that story."

    Really? All you had to do to get two short quotes that have zero insight into the investigation was call a couple law enforcement officers on the phone? And all you had to do to find out Sparkman used to work as a journalist was do a google search and crib from another story? Amazing. What a "story."