Sunday, July 23, 2006

Insanity: How Little Centrists Get Ahead and Destroy America

Once upon a time there were three losers. They formed the Purr Posse and they did a lot of damage. The general consensus for some is that the country is in the state it is because of attacks from the right and a right wing echo chamber. It's not that easy, it's not that simple. For this feature, we look to the recent past.

Our focus? A little wanna be who has risen about as high as he ever will (sob for him -- he's not aware enough to cry for himself) named Ben Fritz teamed up with two fellow losers -- Brendan Nye and Bryan Keefer -- and, wanting to be 'somebodies,' they appeared to catch on to the game quick -- the easiest way to be fawned over by the mainstream media is to present yourself as 'left' and then attack the left. The one trick tricks mastered that play perfectly.

Here's Fritzie, on October 11th, 2001, laying down the party line that no one must ask questions:

Another favored tactic of Scheer's, and one that can be seen in his false tropes as well, is to bash President Bush and other Republicans whenever possible. There is nothing wrong, of course, with criticizing political opponents. What is troublesome, however, is that Scheer often does so not with reasoned criticism, but irrational broadsides and unsupported allegations.

Scheer's crime? Noting that $43 million in aid, whatever channel it goes through and whatever is it's supposedly doing, to Afghanistan was supporting the Taliban. Probing his inner asshole, Fritzie played dumb. Fritzie played cop of the discourse. Most of all Fritzie played taste patrol. Maybe Fritzie gets how low is he is on the totem pole (breaking three week old party gossip doesn't make you Liz Smith) which is why he recently wrote:

Incompetence aside, this President has indeed been misleading, deceiving, and dissembling to (or, to put it more bluntly, "lying to") America on most major issues since he took office. Most egregiously, of course, in the case of the Iraq War. That was the argument of [plug for his really bad book] and I think the evidence has only continued to pile up since publication. [And, we'd add, weak sales.]

Broadside much? Maybe like fellow poser Joe Klein, Fritzie just learned that the discourse goes on without him, with no use for him and decided that he had to hop on board? We have nothing against broadsides. Our favorite may be his title to a post where he poses the question of how immature Republican leaders in Congress can be -- a post he entitles "DumbAssRepublicansSayWhat"? Well isn't Miss Manners the queen of tasteful discourse?

The reality is that the Bully Boy administration was establishing links with the Afghanistan government (Taliban) and it takes a special kind of hit man/lackey to defend it immediately after 9-11. (It took a special kind of useful fool to defend the action in June of 2001.) But what was more important to 'success' in those now hazy days for many was propping up the Bully Boy and deciding which questions and issues could be raised and which couldn't.

Don't just blame the right wing echo chamber, a lot of voices from outside the right shut down dissent, shouted down questions and ensured that some issues would be judged 'unacceptable.' Bully Boy's march to power was aided by useful idots and fools. Spinsanity presented three.

Brendan Nyhan specialized in attacks on Michael Moore. But of all Ny-Ny's work, what may cause the largest howls today is his coming to the aid and defense of rightwingers while refuting the US Commision on Civil Rights findings (re: Florida 2000 election) in June of 2002:

Braceras [Weekly Standard column] and Leo [Townhall column] are essentially correct. The Commission's report points out a number of serious problems that had the effect of preventing eligible voters from not voting successfully, particularly African Americans, but it actually found no evidence of intent to disenfranchise voters. Yet the report's rhetoric sometimes suggests otherwise.

Critical thought wasn't key to their "analysis" (and no the nonsense doesn't hold up today). Ny-Ny wanted to attack Robert Scheer as well. So he basically 'borrowed' observations from a right wing website (LeftWatch) and added his own commentary including this statement on how Scheer 'distorted' reality re: the aid to Afghanistan:

Remember, Afghanistan is under UN sanctions imposed at the request of the US under President Clinton that are supported by Bush. Sheer is just being blatantly deceptive.

Ny-Ny might try read-reading because even his shouted out to LeftWatch managed to quote Scheer's column (the one Ny-Ny found so offensive and called Scheer 'blatantly deciptive' for) including this statement:

Sadly, the Bush administration is cozying up to the Taliban regime at a time when the United Nations, at U.S. insistence, imposes sanctions on Afghanistan because the Kabul government will not turn over Bin Laden.

Readers of Scheer's column didn't need Ny-Ny to tell them to "Remember, Afghanistan is under UN sanctions imposed at the request of the US . . ." because, despite Ny-Ny's 'blatantly deceptive' efforts, Scheer stated flat out that Afghanistan was under UN sacntions. "Remember"? Try read-reading, Ny-Ny.

(We're reminded of Suzie at the then CJR Daily who trashed the then Jodi Wilgoren and a Washington Post reporter for not including a detail in their reports on John Kerry and then later did a 'correction' to note that reading further she saw that Post writer did include the detail. Suzie never got around to finishing the Wilgoren article apparently because Wilgoren included the detail in her article as well. Did someone say CJR? Oh, we get ahead of ourselves!)

The Purr Posse had a third member and we can't fail to mention him. Repeatedly attacking Michael Moore was so much fun for Ny-Ny, that Bryan Keefer had to break himself off a piece and get a few things off his sunken chest. Keefer Madness, in one instance, trashed Moore, Maureen Dowd and Paul Kurgman in one smelly, sticky wad. Keefer Madness was shocked (or maybe posing) and offended (ditto) that Dowd would write a column where an unnamed friend would declare that "our worst paranoid nightmares are coming true" and "our enemies from the 60's have crept back into power." Ny-Ny rushes in, this is June 26, 2002 to dub this "cutting-edge anti-Bush jargon, tying together liberal attacks on Bully Boy's domestic anti-terrorism policies and allegedly corrupt ties to oil companies with the suggestion that Bully Boy may have 'a secret government plan to suspend the Constitution'".

Here's what Dowd wrote:

She recalled all the old leftist tracts in the Nixon years about a secret government plan to suspend the Constitution and declare a national security emergency and round up people without charges, and that the oil companies and banks would plunge us into nuclear war.

Dowd actually didn't say that Bully Boy had a secret plan, Keefer Madness needs to read more carefully. But did Bully Boy have a plan? Poor Keefer Madness, within a year, Bill Moyers would report on Patriot Act II (July 2003):

There's an important story developing tonight at the Justice Department. The non-partisan Center for Public Integrity obtained a closely-guarded document that shows plans for a sweeping expansion of the government's police powers.
Until now, few people outside of the department, not even members of key congressional committees have seen this draft legislation. It could lead to increased surveillance and greater secrecy - all in the name of the war on terror. It raises questions about how we balance liberty and security - the rights of individuals versus the rule of law.
Bill Moyers talks to Chuck Lewis about the significance of the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003 and how it would affect civil liberties.

From a discussion on the written Patriot Act II that had been leaked to the press:

MOYERS: Chuck Lewis, whom you just saw in that piece is with me now. He is the Executive Director of the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity, the organization responsible for obtaining that document. Chuck Lewis, thank you for joining us.
LEWIS: Thank you.
MOYERS: The Patriot Act was passed six weeks after 9/11. We know now that it greatly changed the balance between liberty and security in this nation's framework. What do you think -- what's the significance of this new document, called the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003?
LEWIS: I think the significance is it just deepens and broadens, further extends the first Patriot Act. That act in 2001, they had six weeks, which was not a lot of time to throw something together. Now there's been 18 months of all kinds of things that have happened and court decisions that have tried to roll back some of the Patriot Act.
And other concerns, law enforcement, people have, and so they've had time to sift and sort what they want. And it's arguably might be a more thorough rendering of all the things law enforcement and intelligence agencies would like to have in a perfect world. It's sort of how I look at it, and I think it's a very tough document when it comes to secrecy and surveillance.
I understand the concerns about fear of terrorism. And it certainly…
MOYERS: We all have those…
LEWIS: We all have those and there are things in the legislation that make sense, and that are reasonable, I think for any American. But there are other things that really take some of the Patriot Act civil liberties issues that folks were concerned about and go even further. And I think it's gonna be very controversial. Some of these sections are gonna be debated for weeks and months.
MOYERS: So many of these powers latent in this draft legislation were powers that were taken away from the intelligence community some years ago because they were abused.
LEWIS: That's right.
MOYERS: Do you see any protection in here against potential abuse?
LEWIS: I don't think there's very much -- there's a lot more authority and power for government. There's less oversight and information about what government is doing. That's the headline and that's the theme. And the safeguards seem to be pretty minimal to me.
MOYERS: I just go through here, you know? "Will give the Attorney General the unchecked power to deport any foreigner?"
LEWIS: Right.
MOYERS: Including lawful permanent resident aliens. It would give the government the power to keep certain arrests secret until an indictment is found never in our history have we permitted secret arrests. It would give the government power to bypass courts and grand juries in order to conduct surveillance without a judge's permission. I mean these do really further upend the balance between liberty on the one hand and security on the other.
LEWIS: Well, they do. They reduce judicial oversight with the secret intelligence courts instead of saying the court may do this now it's the court will do this. They can have ex parte conversations where they go into the judge without anyone else around. In terms of information about detainees, not only can they detain anyone they'd like to detain, there is no public information about it.
Journalists cannot find out the names of -- we detained over a thousand people after September 11th because we thought they might all be terrorists. Not one of them was really found with any criminal charges to be a terrorist. And we don't know the names of almost all those people, still. And so it does appear that everything that folks might be concerned about
with the Patriot Act, this is times five or times ten is what I look at it. I see it very serious.

Read that transcript, read Dowd, read what Keefer Madness accuses Dowd of and realize who's right and who's wrong. In his triple-trash, Keefer Madness saves a scoop for Paul Krugman whom he trashes for daring to write that White House flacks inflated Bully Boy's knowledge. The later iPod story alone would demonstrate how accurate Krugman was.

See this is how Insanity worked, how all the centrists lined their nests and achieved what passes for fame. So-called worked the same way. Whether it's splitting hairs on aid to the Taliban or refusing to read the writing on the wall, the Insanity crowd made themselves useless to the nation but aided the Bully Boy in his actions. A fresh apple is on the ground next to a tree. A left voice writes that, in their opinion, the apple probably fell from the tree. The Insanity crowd goes into attack mode: "You can't prove that! You can't prove that!" Logic and reason, critical analysis, all fly out the window as the Purr Posse demonstrates how "reasoned" and "fair" they are by trashing the left and purring for the Bully Boy.

It passes for debate. The right stakes out a position (such as LeftWatch's claim that Scheer is a liar) and the Purr Posse saddles up their ponies to ride in so they can back the right up. Strangely, while pouring on the vitriol for the style in which Dowd, Krugman, Scheer and others choose to write, they don't have a word to say about LeftWatch but, if they did, they wouldn't being playing the game.

That's the 'game' that nearly destroyed the country. We have a real problem with the squishy center that wants to come along and tell the left how to talk -- after letting the right pass for decades. Insanity would note that they went after Ann Coulter. Yes, those brave little boys did do that. They did that while linking to the likes of Town Hall, the National Review, the Weekly Standard, LeftWatch and assorted others making statements that, if they came from the left, would have had the Purr Posse bearing their claws. So LeftWatch can build on and cite (with approval) the work of David Horowitz, and the Purr Posse gives shout outs and links but otherwise goes silent (maybe they were coughing up a fur ball?) in their rush to rip apart Scheer. The name's to be made in attacking the left, whether your right or center.

Like Joe Klein, they now want to play it different. They want act like they weren't part of the problem. They were. They ridiculed people who raised issues, they trashed those who drew fair conclusions and they did all from the 'left.' It wasn't just the right.

Their work doesn't hold up (neither does Klein's) and the country has awakened to some realities that they pooh-pahhed and dismissed. They were wrong then, they're wrong now. Giving their shout outs to the National Review, the Weekly Standard and assorted others, they demonstrated to the mainstream media that they understood the carefully drawn lines that allows the extreme right to chat with Larry King and the center to be given the "from the left" spot.

Call them the Scat Patrol, with all that implies, because their work stinks and they swallowed a lot. Is it a crime to be, at best, stupid? No. But it is shameful to scream for tone arguments, to trash people for their own opinions (factually based) and then want to smear your own feces around while claiming you are "countering rhetoric with reason." They never did any such thing. They provided cover for an administration that, our opinion, will be one of the most reviled in history text books. They provided cover and they did hit jobs on those who wouldn't pledge their love to the Bully Boy or, at least, speak in the tones and manner they approve of.

So one loser ended up Variety (office joke), one loser ended up at CJR (website) and one, who looks like he's destined to play the part of Jack in a film version of Dawson's Creek, ended up . . . floating in the toilet (and issuing ridiculous statements about what "political scientists" do and don't do, graduate student doesn't make him an expert anymore than his previous 'knowledge' made him right on other issues).

They feathered their nests and built mini-names for themselves while, thanks to the likes of them, America ended up uninformed and thinking shout outs to the right and attacking the left for opinions was 'balance.' It's an old con job. It started long before Fox 'News' ever began broadcasting and it's taken a large cottage industry to prop up the scam for this long.
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