Saturday, September 15, 2007

Wing-Nuts: "Peace" and "The Law" is for Suckers

Two talk-radio-driven campaigns this past week – one national, one local – show the continuing power of the right-wing echo-chamber. By all of their surrogates saying the same thing – and saying it loudly – the GOP was able to get its twisted messages wedged into the MSM, whether it was newsworthy or made any sense or not. The result, as usual, was the continued poisoning of the political well; the result of the twisted message without a sufficiently-funded or radio-distributed answer.

The first example was the theatrically hyperventilated "reaction" to a full-page ad bought in the New York Times and that ran on the first day of Bush-apologist David Petraeus’s "report" before Congress. MoveOn had the gall to rhyme "Petraeus" with "Betray Us", and the race to smear the messenger – and, more important, the messenger’s perceived friends – was on. From the halls of Congress to the "golden" microphones owned by inflated egos across the country, there was wailing and gnashing of teeth of this infamous slander against "our general in the middle of a war".

How dare they say he betrayed us?! Are you calling him a traitor? Well, no, MoveOn wasn’t – just saying Petraeus betrayed any trust the general populace may have had in him to come and tell the truth about the continuing disaster in Iraq. Instead, the ad accurately predicted that he would pump the propaganda of his masters in Washington. Other than the rhyming name-calling, the supporting text of the ad is uncontroversial and fully supported by the facts. Knowing not the meaning of irony, the noise came from the same chicken hawks who impugned the good, heroic names of John Kerry, Max Cleland and anyone else when it suited their purposes.

But, never mind what MoveOn was really saying or whether they were right. It wasn’t about them anyway. The whole phony controversy was used to drive the GOP talking-point that the leading Democrats running for president are beholden to the "fringe" of the party. Demands were made for Hillary Clinton and others to condemn the ad with the same heavy breathing employed by the purveyors of the fraud – bait which, to their credit, was not taken by any of the targets of the demands.

One of the fake controversies within the controversy (the best of these sideshows have cleverly false sub-plots) was the lie that the Times had given MoveOn an over-friendly $100,000 discount on the full-pager. Never one to pass up an opportunity to turn death and tragedy (be it 9/11 or Iraq) into political hay, Rudy Giuliani cynically put together an ad attacking Clinton for her excellent "suspension of disbelief" comment to Petraeus and her failure to condemn the red-herring MoveOn ad. He also bravely demanded the same rate for his ad. He got it, of course, on the same terms MoveOn did (you get the discount if you don’t ask that it run on a specific day). And, of course, Rudy’s ad was not so much a defense of Petraeus as it was his first major political broadside at Clinton. Who used Petraeus more – the organization trying to point out the truth to end a disastrous war or the politician who jumped on a bandwagon populated by the usual Bush-enabling yahoos to pump up his venal campaign for president?

There was indeed offensive language used last week surrounding the Petraeus/9-11 circus. House Minority Leader John Boehner used the occasion to opine that the American soldiers dead and soon-to-be was "a small price to pay" for whatever the hell we are doing over there. Not to be outdone, professional blowhard Bill O’Reilly put a number on it and announced that he is happy to provide Petraeus another year and, even if it means (and it does) another 1,000 dead GIs. In terms of offensiveness, this makes MoveOn’s perhaps impolitic name-calling look like a schoolboy’s speaking in class out of turn while his classmates are out tagging the outside of the school with obscene graffiti.

Meanwhile, back at home, the radio and blog wing-nuts were in full lather about a judge in Sheboygan who tossed a jury verdict in a child enticement case because the alleged slug chatting up the poor girl wasn’t trying to get her to a "secluded" place, as required under the law. The judge, who, we presume, after all, did take an oath to uphold the law no matter what the wing-nuts think, took all manner of abuse from big-city out-of-town demagogues Sykes, Belling and various of their third-rate counterparts, who pretended not to know how the obviously liberal judge could do such a thing. True to form, the Journal Sentinel, its weak ear ever to the radio while looking for a clue, ran front-pagers in the Metro section two days in a row (with more to come, no doubt) about the "outraged" citizens and the hot-to-appeal DA.

The dirty little secret is that all of them know why the judge did what he did. Even if they are not lawyers, they know he was faced with a law that required enticement to a secluded place and that the park shelter (a roof with four legs) was not secluded. But they decided to fudge the facts and the law, pretending that the judge had done something outrageous, calling for his defeat in the next election, using the case as a wedge to eliminate the judicial substitution law, etc.

Their loud squawking has nothing to do with what is right and wrong and everything to do with creating distrust of the criminal justice system and generally stirring up the woe-is-me victimhood of those who are vulnerable to this kind of blather. The criminals have all the rights and we have none and blah de blah blah. You’d think, if they want to cast aspersions on the judiciary, they’d just look across the dining room in their country club at their buddy, Annette Zeigler. But, no.

Even their fellow traveler, attorney Rick Esenberg, admits to knowing better and ever-so-gently says so. But they didn’t need to call him to get the legal scoop. They know what is right and pretend not to in order to enrage the townsfolk to head for the courthouse with pitchforks and torches. In the middle is the family of the poor girl, another victim of an over-charging prosecutor and a bunch of agenda-driven wing-nuts who don’t care who gets hurt in the process.


Anonymous said...

No, the list of sites in the law only ends with "or secluded place." Other qualifying sites are listed before that, without "secluded" in front of them.

The shelter arguably is one of those sites listed, a "building" (again, the law does not say a "secluded" building) -- because the law does not define a building as requiring walls. (And the pillars for that shelter are pretty wide, certainly enough to hide behind from many perspectives.)

Bottom line, if the law's authors had meant "secluded" to refer to all of the sites listed, they would have put it first before any of the sites, not only before the last.

Anonymous said...

Mike doesn't like it when the facts get in the way.

Anonymous said...

So let's say that Petraeus testified and said that we should begin an immediate full drawdown of our troops from Iraq. Would you and the wing nuts have labeled him a genius and demanded that the Republicans listen to him since, afterall, he is 4 star general? Would run a full page ad saying "thank you" to him?

Mike Plaisted said...

As I understand the issue before the judge was whether the shelter was a secluded area. I didn't say the building would have to be "secluded". We are getting ahead of the appellate briefs here, but I think the key word may be "into" -- the actor has to try to get a child "to go into" a building or secluded place. Can you go "into" a building without walls? Can you go "into" a secluded area, well, if it's not a secluded area?

In any event, I think it is a fair legal question and the judge certainly had a legal justification for going the way he did. But, to hear all the screeching, it was immediately assumed he was some sort of incompetent liberal criminal-lover, without a basis in fact or law for what he did. That's not true, and the wing-nuts know it.

Oh, and to my friend and blog-stalker Anony 2: I'm not ignoring the facts. Like the judge, I'm trying to apply the facts to the law. I understand why you might not want to try this at home. Brain might hurt.

Mike Plaisted said...

Yes, Anony 2:22, I think if Petraeus was able to resist the pressure from his bosses, stop spinning and tell the truth, he would and should be thanked MoveOn and the rest of us who want an end to the waste of our lives, limbs and treasure. I certainly would use those admitted truths to move the Republicans off of their doomed stand with Bush. I'll use anything, Anony, to end this disaster. And you, I imagiue, will do anything to keep the senseless death-mill grinding.

The result of the Petraeus appearance last week is that Bush has now successfully kicked the can to the next president. This result makes it all the more certain that that next president will be a Democrat, who will come to office with at least a 55-45 margin in the Senate and 30 to 40 more seats in the House. It will be left to us to clean up this mess and we will because we must.

But one thing is also sure: the 1,000 or so brave soldiers who die their Unnecessary Deaths before the next election ain't coming back. You may want to stock up on soap, but I don't think it will help, Anony. That blood is not coming off your hands.

patrick said...

How many Four Star Generals do you have to trash before you do serious damage to American military resolve? Sure, MoveOn are the greatest patriots ever, but will they defend the country? No. I'm thinking about the smart comments on the last entry by Nulldevice. He points out the 800 pound gorilla--Iran. Now we all know that Iran is quietly at war with us already: they supply much of the munitions and the training for insurgents in Iraq. (Actually, I hear MoveOn is going to run another piece commending their statesmanship) Snarkines aside, ther real issue is if the type of attack launched by MoveOn as well as those of our "patriotic" left will have a lasting impact on the military? What faith could they have in their leadership if they were ordered into action by a president Clinton or Obama who might pull them out of a conflict at the first moment things went bad? Afterall, Clinton and the others supported the action in Iraq just that long. We also note that our forces never came close to defeat on the open battlefield, but Iran might be able to do so at some point in the future. What would President Clinton do then? My guess is run.

As far as the child molester and the lefty judge goes, my understanding was that the jury was taken to the scene and listened to jury instructions before rendering their verdict. Yeah, we should take a very hard look at a judge who takes such a singular action. Mike, since you're a lawyer, why now nexus up the percent of cases where a judge throws out the verdict of a jury.

Mike Plaisted said...

Oh, for cryin'out loud, patrick. Generals have been criticized since Washington -- there is nothing sacrosanct about them or their dog-and-pony shows on Capitol Hill. The military is non-political and will certainly follow the direction of Clinton. Obama, or what ever Democrat will surely take over in '09. And it's good to hear you are thinking ahead, buying the same Iran-as-bogeyman crap that got us into Iraq with Hussein.

I've been doing criminal law for many years now, with lots of jury trials. I know how rare it is for a judge to toss a jury verdict. But they can and they should when the state hasn't proved any element of the offense. Seems to me that is the case here. In any event, it's a fair reading of the law, and the judge should not have to endure personal attacks for doing his job.

Anonymous said...

Mike, why do you hate the military so much? Did they kick you out on a section 8 (a la Corp. Klingar)? My guess is that you successfully dodged the draft or else you wouldn't have the vitriol that you do.

Please tell me a situation where our military action is warranted. You seem to be against all forms of intervention, attack, etc.

patrick said...

Mike, As far as revisionist history goes, you're amazing. Look through all the statements of your deomcratic officials--the clintons, pelosi, all of them. Examine the UN record. Note the invasion of Kuwait, the use of poison gas on the Kurds, the mass graves discovered in Iraq in the first months of the war. That's not crap.

Whatever happened to the left I once celebrated--one that wanted to stand up for the terrified masses? How could people feel safe when led by people who feel the Patriot act is a greater danger than terrorists? And if I'm missing something, please tell me what in the democratic congress I can find which strengthens our security. Your party is the party of power, after all.

As for Iran, consider the way they treat those who descent, the beatings of women who fail to cover themselves. the treatment of women in general. Consider the history of hostage taking like the recent incident with the British sailors. Consider their material support for the insurgents in Iraq today (when will the left condenm them, did I miss the marches?) Consider their pursuit of nuclear weapons and their holocaust denyer president. And true, the mullas use sabre rattling as a way of maintaining internal control, but that is no reason for us to ignore them. Finally, note how our cultures are opposed: we love freedom, debate, vicious debate, even; they value slavish conformity to brutal and repressive, patriarchal and fanatic religion. Conflict will come, its the nature of our imperfect history as determined by the location of their gastly failed culture. Maybe you need to read a little more about Iran. I'd recommend Michael Ledeen as found at NRO.Either way, Iran embodies everything we in the west find disgusting and low.

Other Side said...

I suppose, using Patrick's logic that we here in the United States should thank our lucky stars a coaltion of nations didn't find it necessary to invade when we severely beat and mistreated our slaves (and didn't stop mistreating them for another 140+ years after supposedly providing them with their freedom), committed genocide against the native Americans and subjected our children to inhuman working conditions.

Your's is a short-sighted view, Patrick, and fortunately it is not the majority view. There is still hope for this nation. We just have to make through this most recent cycle of hate.

FYI: Michael Leeden hardly provides an objective view being in league with other far-right anachronisms such as Richard Perle, John Bolton, Douglas Feith (a real nutcase) and Dick Cheney.

Rick Esenberg said...


My team tries to avoid the term "fellow travellers." Thanks.