"If we dismiss criticism of government misbehavior because of partisan motivations, we'll never entertain significant criticism of the government"

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A small corner of the Internet is exploding with rage over a breathtakingly stupid CNN column by sportswriter L.Z. Granderson (noted earlier this week by Reason's own Brian Doherty). In that column, titled "Don't be nosy about Fast and Furious," Granderson writes

[S]ometimes the federal government deems it necessary to get its hands a little dirty in the hopes of achieving something we generally accept as good for the country.

Much in the same way, Project Wide Receiver and Project Road Runner—the earlier versions of Fast and Furious under President Bush—were executed with the hope that they will do more good than harm. Hardly anyone in the public knows the finer points of these programs.

Were they legal?

Hell no.

Were they effective?

Who knows?

Were they done as a way to keep America safe?

Yes.

And maybe it's better for us not to be so nosy, not to know everything because, to paraphrase the famous line from the movie "A Few Good Men," many of us won't be able to handle the truth.

While Brian did a great job taking Granderson to task, some other voices have weighed in since then, and they are all equally spot on. 

Ken at Popehat

Right now scandals over both Fast and Furious and the government response to it are being spun in many places as a cynical partisan obsession. I have not the shadow of the doubt that many of the loudest critics of the government have partisan motives. But if we dismiss criticism of government misbehavior because of partisan motivations, we'll never entertain significant criticism of the government. We'll always have partisanship. We can't let it be an excuse to abandon our obligations as citizens to monitor and criticize the government.

Gawker's Mobutu Sese Seko (a pseudonym, obvs): 

Granderson tells us that, "We still don't have access to all of the messy facts surrounding the Iran-Contra scandal that erupted during the Reagan administration." This is somehow an argument for less disclosure instead of a cry of disgust that president George H.W. Bush was able to kill further investigations by pardoning men who were probably his co-conspirators. Worse, his argument segues into generation-old fawning over Oliver North.

See, Eric Holder is a lot like Oliver North, and Oliver North "was a fall guy. Not for president Reagan but for all of us." It's a persuasive reading of the Iran-Contra affair, so long as you are totally unaware of anything else about it. North admitted to lying to congress and destroying evidence, and talking heads rewarded him with discussions about whether he was the soul of honor and an embodiment of the loyal nobility of America. Ollie just saluted so crisply, and he had a code—like Omar, from The Wire, except white. Also, if Omar robbed drug dealers and gave the money to central Americans who rape nuns.

and Salon's Glenn Greenwald

This is the glaring paradox at the heart of the establishment media class. They parade around as adversarial watchdogs whose prime role is to foster transparency and shine a light on what is done in secret. But there is literally no group more slavishly devoted to the virtues of government secrecy than they. LZ Granderson's demand that we keep our nosy noses out of what the Government does (like Richard Cohen's similar demand that we keep the lights off) is notable only because it's a more explicit and honest expression of this ethos than they usually admit to.

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  1. You know, it’s hard not to admire Greenwald’s rock-solid consistency. Some of his principles are whack, but no one dare suggests that he abandons them for Team Blue’s benefit.

    1. Yep. I have a shit-ton of respect for Greenwald, his TEAM BLUE membership notwithstanding.

      He’s always been a steady source of criticism of the administration on civil liberties. The rest of the media have repeatedly shown themselves to be little more than sycophantic toadies.

    2. Agreed. Greenwald is one of my favorite columnists around. His evisceration of the MSM and it’s power-worshipping tendencies is great. A few weeks back he took down a 60 Minutes “Special” on Leon Panetta that dropped any semblance of real reporting

  2. Most if not all of the people who were out to get Nixon were obsessive partisans of the worst sort. Does that mean Watergate was much ado about nothing? Hardly. That is the point of having partisans is to relentlessly attack and reveal weaknesses and misdeeds of the other side.

    1. Most political commenters today care WAY more about the “he said-she saids” and “horse races” or politics than about actual policy. Anything to score points, even if you lose your soul.

      For them, it’s just reality TV. No reason to be consistent, logical, or principled

      1. “OF politics” i meant

  3. Wow. When your column is so bad Gawker gets to rightfully call you out, you have hit rock bottom.

    1. I doubt that he’s hit rock bottom. He hasn’t licked all the shit of the big O’s boots yet.

  4. Justice Department goes Rogue:

    http://www.foxnews.com/politic…..t-furious/

    1. They’re goin’ to da mattresses.

    2. To be fair, Bush’s DOJ did the same thing under the same circumstances. While I’m sure the Republicans relish the chance to wail and moan about the corruption of the administration, no one actually thought the DOJ would take another course of action.

  5. Funny how “breathtakingly stupid” and “CNN” fit so well together.

    1. COURT STRIKES DOWN MANDATE

      I’ll make a mental note of that fuck-up when the next important decision is announced.

  6. [S]ometimes the federal government deems it necessary to get its hands a little dirty in the hopes of achieving something we generally accept as good for the country.

    In other words, the ends justify the means.

    1. And it just gets worse. We have to do something! Doesn’t matter if it’s legal or effective!

    2. Americans can generally accept that some stuff needs to be secret. The intelligence gathering process, big-time time defense stuff like where our nuclear weapons are stored and where they are aimed, and what our planned responses would be to different types of attacks.

      Watergate went bad for Nixon and FF will go bad for Obama – because it doesn’t come close to fitting in any of these categories.

      They would be better off admitting they lied their pants off, release all the documents, and start the damage control and spin now.

  7. Mobutu Sese Seko (a pseudonym, obvs)

    Racist!

    1. Corpsist!

      Died in 1997. Although it would be a testament to his fortitude if he was penning responses from his cold shallow grave!

  8. And maybe it’s better for us not to be so nosy, not to know everything because, to paraphrase the famous line from the movie “A Few Good Men,” many of us won’t be able to handle the truth.

    For some reason, people never seem to remember that the whole “you can’t handle the truth” speech was delivered by the villain as a way of rationalizing why he should literally be permitted to get away with murder. People who take it as a motivational speech missed the entire point of the movie.

    1. The other thing that’s odd is that that line was written by Aaron Sorkin.

    2. Maybe they didn’t miss the point, they just agree with the villain, and are themselves evil.

      1. Or maybe we all miss the point and Nicholson’s character is supposed to be some kind of hero. Shit, it’s Sorkin, who the fuck knows?

        1. It’s a ridiculous movie – ask any Marine. No full-bird Colonel cares about a fucked up Private, much less orders his beating. NCO’s handle it and maybe a Lieutenant – that’s it.

          “You can’t handle the truth” might apply to the planned response to a Cuban attack – not training a shit-bird.

          1. And he didn’t actually care about a fucked up private in the movie. What he did care about was someone reporting ROE violations to the Colonel’s superiors. The whole “training” thing was just a rationalization for retaliating against a whistleblower.

            1. Alright – I had to go look it up. I know it made no sense to this old Marine when I saw it. Something about a Lance Corporal firing a shot toward Cuba for some reason.

              Again, a stupid excuse for a plot. Said LCpl would immediately become a Private – not an incident for a Col. to risk his career.

              Obviously written by somebody who has never set foot in Gitmo or any other military base.

              1. Obviously written by somebody who has never set foot in Gitmo or any other military base.

                You do realize that A Few Good Men is based on an actual case right?

                1. You do realize that A Few Good Men is based on an actual case right?

                  An interesting case. Still unsolved.

        2. “You WANT me on that wall!!!!”

    3. But but but … the line was spoken by Jack!

  9. But there is literally no group more slavishly devoted to the virtues of government secrecy than they

    Greenwald nails it, but how long have we already been saying this? For years and years. And we’ve said more: the media are nothing but statist enablers in all forms.

    1. Someone, I forget who, said on here a couple of years ago “This is not your father’s liberal media” and it really is true. They are not liberal or conservative. They are just pro state and pro authority of any and every kind.

      1. I’ll remember that the next time we get off on a thread about how shitty the mainstream liberal media is.

        I’m as bad about it as anyone else. But you’re right, and FOX and MSNBC are full of it; they all just support authoritarianism.

        1. All things being equal they love to cheer lead the Dems. But they love and enjoy being state run media more than anything.

          What is even more sickening about it is that they do this while smugly telling themselves and the world what fearless watch dogs they are.

          1. It’s that delusion that makes them so especially vile. They really believe it, like teachers have come to believe they are underpaid selfless givers, or the way cops think of themselves as heroic protectors.

            It’s fucking laughable, yet somehow they believe it.

            1. I dunno, it sure seems like a bastard version of false consciousness to me.

              1. I dunno, it sure seems like a bastard version of false consciousness to me.

                Or deluded con men.

            2. Or that time that Eric Cartman believed that he wrote the fishsticks joke.

      2. But what I don’t understand is why the media are such devotees to big government. Does Sally Quinn really peak for all the media in her obsequious romanticism for power and the degenerates who wield it?

        1. I really ‘peak’ for powerful degenerates, Hugh. (dreamily) They’re so much better than us little people.

        2. We see it again and again, Hugh. It can’t be coincidence. I mean, think about Hollywood gossip reporters. They haunt the celebrities, yet they worship them and wish they were one of them. The political reporters are the same thing, and then on top of it all is a steaming pile of partisanship as well.

          Of course they are big government lovers. Them not wanting big, active government is like a Hollywood reporter not wanting there to be celebrities. It just wouldn’t happen.

        3. power as an aphrodisiac.

          true story: I met Sam Donaldson at a company cocktail party in DC once. fresh out of journalism school. totally naive and star struck with the powerful people that were around. i asked him if he was uncomfortable being there, as he covers them, and it might not look good to socialize with them. he looked at me like i was the biggest fool in the world. rightly i guess.

          1. That’s exactly right. They think of themselves as insiders, which is precisely the opposite of how they should view themselves. They serve no legitimate purpose if they don’t stay as far outside of the government as they possibly can.

            The access argument has always been bullshit, but it’s extra bullshitty today, when information is so easy to get.

        4. But what I don’t understand is why the media are such devotees to big government.

          Because without big government they’re just dipshits working a fryer.

      3. That’s not true!

    2. Oh and Epi, Tulpa claimed to have “defeated” you in the SWAT raid thread because you’re apparently his enemy, and you no longer post anything of substance.

      I found his claim laughable because I wasn’t aware that you had ever posted anything of substance.

      1. Tulpa really came on strong with the retard in that thread.

        1. Yeah, I think it was widely agreed that he officially “jumped the shark”.

          1. His morality is just to much for you to understand.

        1. George Washington once placed the hand of an Opponent’s wife in acid.

          Food for thought…

          1. Didn’t know that. Interesting

            1. He also ate his opponents brains and invented cocaine.

              1. My respect grows for him daily!

                1. He’s coming. He’s coming. He’s coming.

          2. George Washington was a pussy. I’ll bet he never killed a single vampire.

        2. That video is awesome. I’ve watched it almost as many times as I’ve watched the amazing Urkobold/Firefly lawyer guy vid.

          The lawyer guy is awesome. If you watch his other movies he speaks of the fucked up buddy-buddy system between defense attourneys and prosecutors. Where the animosity is a show for the rubes and no one is actually expected to defend their client, i.e. go to trial. Big fourth amendment guy, too. If we had more defense attourneys with a hard-on for the constitution the fuckers in the justice system might think twice about fucking people over just for the hell of it.

          Oh and Tulpa, I think that he now posts only to annoy and badger. He claims he’s sparking debate, or something, but he pretty much just trolls now.

        3. Who?

          And this.

          We are going to have years of fun with that.

      2. Dude, you have to share a link.

        1. Ok Found it.

          Yep, DaveW levels of arrogance. 😀

      3. Oh but his comments “always draw a crowd”.

        1. So do Tony’s or White Indian’s.

  10. Maybe Granderson is angling for a job in Obama’s second-term WH?

    1. Give Obama some credit. Sheesh, Granderson is pathetic.

      1. He just keeps calling and calling the Obama Administration, who never returns his call. Take the hint, dude.

      2. So she’s up for Press Secretary then?

  11. I wasn’t unhappy when the Tigers traded Granderson to the Yankees, and this is yet another ex….

    Wha…? Oh…

    Never mind.

    /Emily Littela

  12. I love it when somebody sets Ollie’s pants on fire. I despise the fawning over him when he was nothing more than a goosestepping uniform. As Einstein said,

    He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would suffice.

    1. fawning

      And wasn’t Fawn Hall the name of his bimbo blonde assistant who shredded all the records? So – nice use!

      1. Completely unintentional, yet I shall take full credit anyway.

      2. Strange that she never became a porn star.

        1. She whored herself out in the more traditional fashion.

  13. Turns out the bath-salt-crazed Miami cannibal wasn’t on bath salts after all:

    http://www.miamiherald.com/201…..drugs.html

    1. Just what I suspected. You don’t have to be on drugs to have a psychotic episode. How much media coverage do you think this breaking news will get? I think it goes without saying that it’ll be a hell of alot less than the original bullshit speculation did. The media never reports on anything unless it scares the shit out of stupid people or makes Barack Obama look like jesus.

  14. Shorter Granderson:

    “Shut the fuck up and mind your betters.”

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  16. When one of these wankers says “you can’t handle the truth” what they mean is “if you know this you won’t keep sucking the Dear Leader’s cock”.

  17. And it never will be solved now that Gitmo was closed down over three years ago.

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