Archive for March 30th, 2009

March 30, 2009

Rule 4 and the Obama Troll Army

Rule 4 of “How to Get a Million Hits on Your Blog” is Make Some Enemies, and targeting vicious anonymous trolls seems to have paid off handsomely. The early a.m. post about Andrew Breitbart’s latest column got linked lots of places, while I slept and then while I did a 5,000-word set-up for a defecatory punchline. (A self-referential self-indulgence I mean to avoid in the future. Honest.)

So I missed the chance to do all the usual linkback updates, and instead will collect them here with some additional commentary. To begin with, Breitbart himself e-mailed to request clarification. Where I had said:

Breitbart and most other conservatives won’t say this in so many words, because it sounds like McCarthyesque conspiracy theory, but it’s nonetheless true: If you want to understand how the American Left operates, you need to spend time studying how the old CPUSA operated.

Breitbart points to this passage in his column:

The right, for the most part, embraces basic Judeo-Christian ideals and would not promote nor defend the propaganda techniques that were perfected in godless communist and socialist regimes. The current political and media environment crafted by supposedly idealistic Mr. Obama resembles Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela more than John F. Kennedy’s America.

Ergo, Breitbart can’t be accused of overlooking the Bolshevik roots of the Left’s tactical arsenal. Meanwhile, the Only Canadian Who Makes Sense, Kathy Shaidle thought the “diamond pattern” seemed awful familiar, and e-mailed to say that this tactic has been applied against her in journalistic mode. She was interviewed by a reporter, who then went out and interviewed three people who hated her, including their derogation as “balance” in the story. “Diamond pattern,” you see.

Obsessed with “pushback” on anything that could possibly reflect negatively on Obama and the Democrats, a Kossack links us and then blathers on about a bunch of irrelevant crap. Screw you, “Avenging Angel,” you despicable troll. Paco calls them “left-wing blog guerrillas,” but they’re actually the microbial virus that festers within the pathological parasites which infest the pus that oozes from the chancroid sore on the Democratic Party rectal sphincter that is the Obama machine.

Jimmie Bise Jr. at Sundries Shack links up a lot of the reaction and says, “if we don’t defend the right to be clearly understood, someone will buy it right out from under us.” Among those linked by Jimmie is Professor Donald Douglas, who likes Breitbart’s take on ” the left’s secular demonology,” and Pundette, who says, “We need to use our smarts, and we need to keep faith with each other.” Jimmie also links Dan Riehl, who offers his own distinctly skeptical dissent:

The Left isn’t the Right’s worst enemy — the Right, more specifically, the sissies and the mostly pedestrian conservative mouthpieces waiting for their next big scoop via the RNC in our midst, are.
The Right-side of the blogosphere is a snoozefest just waiting for Big Brother to pat them on the head, toss ’em a quarter and tuck them in.

Dan’s a great guy and perhaps the best online researcher in the blogosphere. He does not suffer fools gladly and has even less respect for the Official Republican Establishment than I do. Which is saying something.

Jimmie’s linkathon also included Clarice Feldman at American Thinker (from September) pointing to Jim Treacher’s research on the Axelrod Astroturfing disinfo project. Professor William Jacobson observes:

The internet trolling phenomenon is not entirely surprising, since liberals in general view freedom of speech as meaning the freedom to agree with liberals.

Moe Lane notes that leftoid trolls have long been called “Mobies” at Red State, and adds:

Speaking as a site moderator for a popular conservative website, this is not actually hyperbole. I’m not entirely in agreement with how effective the tactic is – the average practitioner is hampered by both a fundamental lack of empathy for his (it’s usually his) targets, and an overestimation of his IQ by an average of about 20 points* – and I’m not sure that it’s quite that formally organized.

Well, Moe, I think that Axelrod has taken the organizational level up a notch in the past nine months. (Ask some of Hillary’s supporters how viciously effective the Obama online effort was against their girl.) Jim at Gateway Pundit says:

Leftist trolls have been vandalizing the conservative blogosphere since conservatives started blogging but actually coordinated their attacks during the last election cycle.

Now, there are some who would say that such talk is “conspiracy theory,” to which claim PoliGazette correctly responds:

It doesn’t have to be a conspiracy to be a real problem. The “harassment factor” in the blogosphere can be a serious problem, faced disproportionately by conservatives and moderates. Liberals and leftists freely make all sorts of outrageous claims with impunity while conservatives and moderates are forced to defend each and every post to a level of detail that can eventually become wearying.

Right. had to deal with a DOS attack today. The Left does crap like this because it ties up manpower and other resources, decreasing the productive efficiency of resistance. They know exactly what they’re doing. It’s just like when I had to spend six months typing in a word-recognition for every post and update here, because the vile Obamanoids had flagged me as a “spam” blog. In the grand scheme of things, a relatively minor hassle, but a hassle nonetheless, requiring extra labor on my part.

Multiply such hassles many times over, and you see why the subhuman “progressive” scum devote so much time to their vandalistic terrorism, both online and offline. Michelle Malkin had to move after the vermin published her home address. A demented moonbat threatened Jeff Goldstein‘s family. Ann Coulter seldom ventures out unless accompanied by security. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

How The Left Built Its Troll Army
Now, granted that the Left has the will, the knowledge and the destructive immorality to do such things, how is it that they also have the time and resources for their online delinquency? Two words: John Podesta.

The former Clinton henchman, seeing the enormous resources poured out by George Soros and (mostly) wasted by, recognized a huge opportunity for his organizational aptitude. He spearheaded a number of efforts, including the development of the oxymoronically named Center for American Progress, which worked to connect the wealthy enemies of liberty with the kind of experienced malefactors who could best put their misanthropic so-called “philanthropy” to the most destructive possible use.

Where CAP did not actually hire the Internet goons, they trained them, and helped sponsor the Web sites that served as the incubators for their “progressive” schemes. Here, Podesta and his comrades showed themselves very clever indeed. Suppose that you are a rich liberal who has some sort of business. So you not only give money to CAP and its related ventures, but you advertise your business on liberal blogs and Web sites. The advertising fees are relatively small (Web ads have always been cheap) and are fully qualified as legitimate business expenses, so that you are in effect getting a tax break for political activism.

One thing I’ve repeatedly tried to point out to my Republican and conservative friends in Washington is how much could be accomplished online with small investments, if they only went about it the right way.

The Peril of Professionalism
Something I’ve discerned over the years is that Republicans have a business-style attitude of professionalism toward politics. The well-paid professional GOP operative disdains as a chump the grassroots volunteer. Who would do politics for free, when one can make a lucrative income at it? (Cf., Ralph Reed.)

Politics is a business to the GOP, and the Dress For Success School of Political Operations dominates the mindset of the party hierarchy. Republicans won’t listen to any advice they don’t pay for, and they always want to hire the clean-cut well-spoken fellow with the spotless resume and the nice suit, the guy who has all the right friends, says all the right things, and shows up on time for the meeting with his PowerPoint presentation ready to go.

What Dan Riehl says about the GOP being its own worst enemy is true in this sense. The Republican Party raised $900 million in the 2008 election cycle — this total does not include state parties, various PACs, or individual candidate campaigns, nor all the sums contributed to conservative 501(c) outfits — and any reasonable person must ask, “What the fuck did they do with all that money?”

Friend, I assure you, there are many political operatives living in McMansions in Virginia horse country that were paid for with the contributions of Republican donors. This is the inevitable consequence of the GOP’s ethic of political professionalism, and nobody really cared so long as the Republicans were ascendant.

Let me ask you to consider something that David Frum (of all people) described recently:

I moved to Washington, D.C., in 1996. And there I began to notice something disturbing. While the congressional victory of 1994 had ceased to produce much in the way of important conservative legislation, it sure was producing a lot of wealth for individual conservatives. They were moving from the staff offices of Congress to lobbying firms and professional associations. Washington . . . began to feel like a giant Tupperware party, where people you had thought of as friends suddenly seemed always to be trying to sell you something. Acquaintances of mine began accepting all-expense-paid trips to the South Pacific from Jack Abramoff.

Oh, yeah. Nothing wrong with trying to make a living, but there are lots of people who made a killing during the dozen years between 1994 and 2006, when being “conservative” ceased to be a political allegiance and became a career description. Disagree with Frum’s politics as vociferously as you want (and I have), but this observation of his about the ways of the Washington GOP establishment is dead on target.
Washington is a town full of ambitious political hustlers. Nothing necessarily wrong with that, as I said; I am a capitalist, proud to boast that I Write For Money. (Which reminds me: Hit the tip jar, you ungrateful bastards.) But over the years when GOP coffers were fat and electoral victories were plentiful, the Republican Party and the conservative movement became accustomed to paying too much for everything.

The rationale for this habit of overpaying was apparently something like this: “Well, after all, Art is a smart guy, and he gets good results. He’s a true-blue Republican. He worked for our buddy Al. Why shouldn’t we pay him what he asks?”

This tendency to pay too much for everything has carried over into the online age, and in recent years the Internet Snake Oil Salesman has become a common plague. Everybody and his brother now claims to have the Magic Panacea Elixir to cure whatever ails the GOP, and yet — in a sort of counter-market irony — what the GOP/conservative Establishment actually pays for such services has gone up, not down, as the number of vendors has proliferated. The supply of pixels-for-cash operations has increased, but the demand is so seemingly insatiable that the price keeps rising, and it seems that none of the people writing checks ever stops to ask if they’re getting what they pay for.

My friend Nathan Tabor is a Republican businessman whose TCVMedia does Web site design and online development, both for commercial and political clients. Nathan has a business model that minimizes his expenses so he can deliver a top-quality product for a rock-bottom price. And yet he has often told me with dismay that many Republican/conservative operations continue to pay premium prices for inferior services, because the guys writing the checks don’t seem to care about cost efficiency.

The attitude among GOP bigwigs seems to be that “you get what you pay for,” so they refuse to believe that if they give a guy a $100,000 contract for Web work, that they’re not getting more than what Nathan could sell them for $30,000 — even if TCV’s work is clearly equal or better in quality (which it is).

So you see the kind of stuff that makes conservatives shake their heads and wonder if there is any hope at all. You see why every day is a struggle against cynical despair. Yet I begin to scent a change in the wind. Times are tough, money’s tight, and some of the clueless check-writers are starting to get the suspicion that they’re being bamboozled by PowerPoint Rangers of the GOP’s Consultant Class.

“It is history that teaches us to hope.”

UPDATE: Welcome Riehl World View readers! My friend Dan isn’t really feelin’ the love for Breitbart, and maybe not for me, either. And I don’t mind, of course: Hits is hits. Love me, hate me, hit me, beat me, bite me, rape me, make me write bad checks and call me “Helen.” It makes no nevermind to a two-time Malkin Award nominee. Just link me, dammit!

March 30, 2009

A Boy Named Stacy

Sometimes I get questions about my name: “Should I call you Robert? Stacy? R.S.? What do you go by?” And I answer facetiously: “You can call me Mr. McCain.” But I also answer to “Hey, Stupid.”

Little Miss Attila tries “R. Stacy McCain,” which was my byline until I moved to Washington. (Attila also says she was “a bit underwhelmed by Animal House,” which makes me want to react like Otter when Mandy Pepperidge tells him it was “not that good.”) Since I so frequently get questions about the name, I will endeavor to explain.

Using my full name as my byline is not an effort to be one of those Pretentious People With Three Names. I go by my middle name, but unfortunately, it got hijacked by girls.

This is not my fault. The well-known tough-guy actor Stacy Keach (b. 1941) is proof positive that “Stacy” used to be a perfectly respectable name for a man. The guy played Mike Hammer, for crying out loud. But shortly after I was born, “Stacy” — along with virtually all other ending in “y” — were taken over by the girls.

Like many other Anglo-American given names (including Sidney, Kelly and Lindsey), “Stacy” was originally a surname, a patronym. Genealogical records reveal no Stacy ancestors in my lineage and, while my mother never said anything one way or another about it, my assumption is that she borrowed the name of our family’s pediatrician, the late Dr. Stacy Burnett of Atlanta. Who was also a man and who, I assume, was named for some of his Stacy family ancestors.

Coincidentally or not, I am the middle of three brothers in my family. My parents never had a girl, though I’m sure they wished they had, and one can forgive my suspicion that I’d have been named “Stacy” either way.

As fate would have it, I was born with hair that grew into golden ringlets, which my mother adored and refused to cut until I was about age 3. This was 1959-62, when most boys wore crew cuts. My father used to tell about going through the grocery store with Baby Stacy riding in the shopping cart, and all the ladies would exclaim, “Oh, what a pretty girl!”

Can you say, “overcompensation,” Dr. Freud? I became a thoroughgoing hellion of a boy — a crazy daredevil of boyish energy. This hellion streak was aggravated by the fact that my older brother Kirby, two-and-a-half years older, was the charming, clever, dark-haired joy of our mother’s heart, so that I strove eagerly to match or outdo his efforts. For example, there is a scar over my left eye that is the result of 6-year-old Stacy’s placing second in a rock-throwing contest with 8-year-old Kirby, whose hand-eye coordination was always far superior.

And of course, Dr. Freud, I was girl-crazy at a precocious age. Kirby was naturally attractive and, in my constant rivalry with him, I suppose I made myself less attractive simply because of my overeagerness to be liked by girls. The first girl I remember having a crush on, in kindergarten, was Priscilla Yates, a chubby brunette with big brown eyes, freckles and the cutest little gap between her front teeth.

Priscilla was followed in sequence by Carol Purdy (first grade, and also brunette), redhead Joanna Richardson and blonde Janet Howton (who shared my unacknowledged fascination in second grade), then back to Carol Purdy for a couple of years. There was also Carol’s friend Rhonda Pilgrim and Ginger Whiteside, both blondes, as was the adorably dimpled Darlene Goza. Darlene was a cheerleader for my youth football team, the Sweetwater Valley Red Raiders, and one memorable night in 1970 became the first girl who willingly let me kiss her on the cheek.

OK, so you get the picture there, Dr. Freud. And then there were the playground taunts: “Stacy? That’s a girl’s name!”

My daddy left home when I was three
And he didn’t leave much to ma and me,
Just this old guitar and an empty bottle of booze.
Now, I don’t blame him cause he run and hid,
But the meanest thing that he ever did
Was before he left, he went and named me “Sue.”
“A Boy Named Sue,” written by Shel Silverstein, recorded by Johnny Cash, 1969

Now, it happens that I was extraordinarily intelligent as a child. If I live long enough to write a memoir, one chapter will be titled, “Confessions of a Former Boy Genius.” Being born in October, I started first grade at age 5 and was nearly always the youngest boy in my grade. Which would not have been such a source of memorable woe, had it not been for the fact that I was also relatively small for my age.

Being the wee lad on the grade-school playground required survival adaptations, especially when you’re the smart-aleck class clown. Ignorant Yankees up here in D.C. think I’m a wild dangerous redneck but, as any of my childhood friends would tell you, a real redneck would whup my ass. And many did, or tried to, anyway.

You see, older brother Kirby has always been a fighter, and he considered whupping my ass to be sort of a proprietary fraternal privilege. If I did something sufficiently stupid (which certainly wasn’t unheard of) as to actually deserve an ass-whupping, I was on my own. But woe unto any bully who thought he was going to pick on Kirby McCain’s little brother without facing the most severe and violent repercussions. So I had that going for me. Plus, I had a fiendishly quick mind.

Never much of a fighter — “Turn the other cheek” made a strong impression on me in Sunday school — I did become adept at wrestling, so that I could usually keep from getting hit more than once in a fight. (Man, I’ve been sucker-punched so often . . .) And I also developed a knack for befriending guys whose tough reputations could help ward off attacks on their smart-aleck little friend. Enter D.W. “David” Brook.

Now, it’s kind of ironic that every week on this blog, I celebrate “David Brooks Fisking Day,” when my best childhood friend has such a similar name. My friend’s name, however, was Brook, not Brooks, even though in middle school our posse of hoodlums was notorious as The Brooks Gang. And his actual first name isn’t “David,” either, but there is no need to go into that here. He is the only one of my friends to call me “Bobby,” and I call him “D.W.,” and if he hadn’t grown up to be such an eminently respectable citizen of his community, man, could I tell you some stories on him. To say nothing of the stories he could tell on me. But I digress.

From ‘R. Stacy’ to ‘Robert Stacy’
An aspiring cartoonist as a lad, who used to make a nickel or a dime selling unflattering caricatures of unpopular teachers, I took to signing myself “R. Stacy McCain,” and maintained that as my byline when I made my debut as a rock-music critic for the Jacksonville (Ala.) State University Chanticleer in 1981. That byline followed me all the way through until, in November 1997, I left the Rome (Ga.) News-Tribune to join the staff of The Washington Times as an assistant national editor.

Working in small-town Georgia newspapers over the years, I’d sometimes have to deal with readers who called up asking to speak to her, this “Stacy McCain” girl who’d written some story they wanted to gripe about. Such misunderstandings had been relatively rare, however, because (a) these were small towns, where most readers eventually had a chance to meet me personally, and (b) from the time I joined the staff of the Cahoun (Ga.) Times in the fall of 1987 until I departed for D.C. a decade later, I had my own column, which was accompanied by a thumbnail mug shot that made it obvious that I was a guy. Or else the ugliest woman in the newspaper business, not excluding even Helen Thomas.

Of course, my secret hope was that my award-winning ability as a columnist would eventually land me a regular spot on the op-ed page of The Washington Times, a hope frustrated by circumstance. My advice to would-be D.C. newspaper columnists: Never go to work doing news for a paper. The high (and transparently phony) wall between “news” and “opinion” in D.C. means that, if you want to be a newspaper columnist in the nation’s capital, your best bet is to get a Ph.D. and hire on at a think tank. “Journalist” and “columnist” are almost mutually exclusive in Washington. To my knowledge, neither George F. Will, nor Charles Krauthammer, to name a couple of examples, ever did a day’s work as a reporter. Again, however, I digress.

Because my photo would never appear in The Washington Times, and because D.C. is not the kind of place where I could hope to meet every reader, it seemed the smart thing to switch from my accustomed “R. Stacy McCain” byline to “Robert Stacy McCain.” Whereupon, relieved of the problem of people calling to speak to “her,” I suddenly became aware of a previously unanticipated problem: Some other guy named McCain.

Crazy Cousin John
When I got to Washington, I would often find myself in a situation familiar to any D.C. journalist: On the phone with a government receptionist who was paid way more than me and who understood her job to be making sure nobody ever spoke to her boss. It was perhaps unethical when, after the government receptionist finally agreed to take a message and asked me how to spell my name, I would reply, “Robert Stacy — S-T-A-C-Y, no ‘e’ — M-C-C-A-I-N,” like the Arizona senator.” (Ethics, schmethics, I always say.)

Now, if the receptionist asked if I were related to the senator, I’d honestly answer, “No.” But usually they didn’t ask, and their bosses usually returned my calls.

However, in February 2000, as the GOP primary battle between George W. Bush and John McCain was heating up, one of my bosses assigned me to do some research on the Arizona senator. During the course of that investigation, I read his book Faith of My Fathers, and discovered that we were in fact distant cousins, descendants of a McCain whose name appears on the 1790 Census of South Carolina. (I learned to do research spooling microfilm in libaries, and geneaology was a keen interest of mine for a while in the early ’90s.) My investigation of John McCain never turned into an actual story because he flamed out in the South Carolina primary and then befouled himself by attacking Christian conservatives in a notorious speech in Virginia, but . . . knowledge is power, eh?

You might say I’m a victim of reverse nepotism, having suffered for the unsavory reputation of my more famous kinsman. John McCain’s vicious backstabbing habits made the family name an epithet among conservatives. It is a fact that, although Rush Limbaugh at times over the years would read my news articles on his radio show, it would always be “there’s this story in The Washington Times.” He never once said my name, obviously because he figured it would confuse his listeners, who had learned to associate “McCain” with all that is treacherous and unworthy. Sigh.

So this explains why when I launched this blog, I called it “The Other McCain” and have habitually referred to the Republican from Arizona as Crazy Cousin John. Under no circumstance would I want to be confused with that son of a bitch or any of his RINO supporters. (Don’t Blame Me, I Voted for Bob Barr! ) Since Crazy Cousin John bears an enormous burden as the incompetent fool who lost the election and inflicted the Obama presidency on America, I congratulate myself for having had the foresight to distance myself from him as best I could.

Having now spent half a day explaining my name, I will tell you that I spent a lot of time thinking of what I should name my own children, and my children all have very classy names: Kennedy, Bob (Jr.), James, Jefferson, Emerson and Reagan.

Each of those names, including their middle names, has a little story behind it. For example, I was a raised a Georgia yellow-dog Democrat, remained so until my mid-30s, and my Ohio-born Republican wife was gracious enough to let me name our first child Kennedy Catherine McCain.

The “Kennedy” was actually less in tribute to the slain president (his funeral, when I was 4, is my first clear memory of seeing something on TV) than it was a quest to find an elegant, distinctive name. Say her full name aloud, and the effect is obvious — the triple alliteration, the rhythmic cadence, and the “president-and-a-queen” factor all work to the same purpose. Furthermore, we were at that time living in Calhoun, Georgia, where my radio DJ buddy Kevin Casey was “K.C. in the Morning,” and it occurred to me that if my daughter ever aspired to a career in Top 40 radio . . .

However, in agreeing to let our first child bear a Democratic name entirely of my own choosing — I thought it up one afternoon while driving to Chatsworth to cover a football game — my longsuffering bride insisted that our next daughter should be named “Reagan.” Four sons and 13 years later, Reagan Elizabeth McCain weighed in at a whopping 11 pounds. Again, the president-and-a-queen motif, the attention to rhythm and, as I’m typing this, Our Little Princess is playing Barbies in the den.

Back during the fall of 2008, Jeremy Lott was assistant online editor at The American Spectator and urged me to write a column about Crazy Cousin John. I started it, but never finished it, because I became so enraged when I recalled the Kennedy-McCain Illegal Alien Shamnesty Bill.

That worthless two-faced son of a bitch named that un-American piece of treasonous villainy after my daughter and it would have been inappropriate during the height of a presidential election campaign for a conservative journalist to vent his spleen upon the Republican candidate over what was, after all, a deeply personal insult. So I held my peace. But I swear to God, if I should ever own a campground, lady visitors to McCain’s Rural Retreat will have the privilege of attending to calls of nature in the Meghan McCain Outhouse. (The men will just use The John.)

So that’s my story. I will add only that, for several years in the late ’60s and early ’70s, my mother worked as a bookkeeper/secretary in the Atlanta offices of RCA Records. Through that job, she had the opportunity to meet many of the big names in music, including Johnny Cash, whose autograph adorned the album that included a song that my parents thought was hilariously funny. In retrospect, I guess they kind of had a point.

He said: “Now you just fought one hell of a fight
And I know you hate me, and you got the right
To kill me now, and I wouldn’t blame you if you do.
But ya ought to thank me, before I die,
For the gravel in your guts and the spit in your eye,
‘Cause I’m the son-of-a-bitch that named you ‘Sue.'”

March 30, 2009

Megan McArdle: Please Re-Think That

By Smitty

Megan McArdle notes that the POTUS speaks, and GM CEO rolls. She concludes:

On the other hand, it can hardly hurt. And the symbolism, both to the taxpayer and the employees, is important. GM can’t be given vast sums without some visible sign of serious change. Let’s hope the new CEO actually brings some, rather than providing window dressing for a continuation of business as usual.

<rant>It can hardly hurt? What? You have the POTUS interfering with nominally private corporations, and you think this can hardly hurt? Repeat after me, lady: precedent, precedent, precedent. This interference should strike fear in every capitalist heart. Oh, wait: you voted for this fellow. Never mind.</rant>

Baldilocks is equally queasy.

March 30, 2009

‘Blah blah blah right-wing Moonie rag blah blah blah . . .’

It’s kind of predictable, really: Whenever there is a lull in the Left’s ongoing onslaught, a moonbat will go after The Washington Times and/or Fox News in an effort to convince himself that Evil Right Wing Corporate Media represents a shady conspiracy of some sort.

The latest example is by some assclown named Mark Karlin, whose starting and ending point is: REV. MOON! Wow, points for originality, Mark. Some person named “Ellen” praises Karlin’s “excellent column” at NewsHounds.

Exactly what prompted this sudden burst of “investigative” moonbattery — SCOOP! REV. MOON OWNS NEWSPAPER! — I’m not quite sure, nor am I sure if they’ll follow up with another startling revelation:



March 30, 2009

HotMES: ‘Use Discovered for Sen. McCain’

By Smitty
Monique is not a member of the Senator McCain fan club. She thinks she may have found a use for him. The Puffington Host has a convenient caption contest going on at the moment. We could, say, hijack that:
“Joe, do you really think I make a good cautionary tale? Should I have listened to Thomas Jefferson:

‘In matters of style, swim with the current; In matters of principle, stand like a rock.’

“Do you think?”

March 30, 2009

Andrew Breitbart Shows Why He’s Becoming One of the Most Important Columnists in America Today

Ace of Spades was the first to call my attention to the pervasiveness of Obama’s Astroturf blog-troll army. They seemed to start showing up in July, and by September they were ubiquitous. They are apparently paid to do this, and they have persisted past Election Day. In January, they were caught trying to plant “hate” memes at Team Sarah in an effort to discredit Palin.

Yeah, well, guess what, trolls? Now Andrew Breitbart’s got you nailed dead to rights:

Read the comment sections of right-leaning blogs, news sites and social forums, and the evidence is there in ugly abundance. Internet hooligans are spewing their talking points to thwart the dissent of the newly-out-of-power.
We must not let that go unanswered.
Uninvited Democratic activists are on a mission to demoralize the enemy – us. . . . Political leftists play for keeps. They are willing to lie, perform deceptive acts in a coordinated fashion and do so in a wicked way – all in the pursuit of victory. Moral relativism is alive and well in the land of Hope and Change and its Web-savvy youth brigade expresses its “idealism” in a most cynical fashion.

There is a reason that sites like Hot Air and Michelle Malkin require registration, and there is a reason that the comments here are moderated. In the unmoderated comments at AmSpecBlog, wise conservative Ruth says:

This is Axelrod’s strategy to demoralize their (Obama’s) opponents . . . It’s called astro-turfing, and they used it against Hillary first. I read about it on Hillary’s supporters’ blogs during the Democrat Primary, (it drove them nuts). They’re paid . . . and their attacks are coordinated. It’s obvious.

As much as I love a good-free-for-all discussion, David Axelrod’s Astroturf troll army isn’t interested in discussion; they’re paid, full-time political propagandists, and they’re not going to use my bandwidth to spread their message. (I let our designated liberal hall monitor Young4Eyes slide, because he’s so clear about his commitments that he doesn’t fool anyone.)

Waaay back in the day — more than a dozen years ago, before there were blogs — I had some interesting experiences with these “false-flag” trolls who claim to be the exact opposite of the leftist scum they are, and who engage in such familiar tricks as:

  • Inciting participants in discussions to try to get them to say things that can then be quoted as evidence of “hate,” etc.
  • Derogating as futile or self-defeating the projects being planned in the discussion; or
  • Fomenting dissent by suggesting that organizers of a volunteer effort are secretly profiting from the project, or that leaders aren’t really committed to the common cause.

Some of you newbies may not realize it, but these troll tricks are merely updated online versions of the tactics the Communist Party used in its decades-long subversion campaign. Breitbart and most other conservatives won’t say this in so many words, because it sounds like McCarthyesque conspiracy theory, but it’s nonetheless true: If you want to understand how the American Left operates, you need to spend time studying how the old CPUSA operated.

Even more so than Marxist ideology itself, Ronald Reagan said, it was the dishonesty of CPUSA tactics, which he encountered as the leader of the Screen Actors Guild in the ’40, that turned him from a “bleeding heart” liberal into a fierce anti-Communist. Honorable causes do not routinely resort to dishonorable tactics, and the despicable ends-justify-the-means behavior of the Reds convinced Reagan that their ends — their supposedly “idealistic” objectives — were anything but honorable.

Ever heard of the “diamond pattern”? CPUSA operatives used this tactic to control meetings (of labor unions, etc.) back in the day. Send four operatives to the meeting, stationing one at the front of the room, one at the rear, and one each on the left and right sides of the midpoint of the room. When one operative stands up to make his point, the other three are like, “Yeah, he’s right!” This creates the appearance of support throughout the room, in order to bring bandwagon psychology into play.

That tactic, and many others out of the old CPUSA playbook (which such Obama mentors as Saul Alinsky and Frank Marshall knew by heart), have been adapted to the Internet by the Left. And, of course, attempting to thwart these tactics — one must ju-jitsu the Left by employing their own tactics against them — requires studying their methodology like a Korean engineer studying the latest Mercedes design.

Few things are more important in warfare than IFF: Identify Friend or Foe. The same is true in political combat. If your antagonist is able to convince you he’s “on your side” when he’s actually on the other side, he will exploit that deception to demoralize and defeat you. These false-flag “conservative” trolls are trying to exploit flaws in IFF systems on the Right. Beware.

Now, as to the point of the title: Andrew Breitbart gets it. The first time I ever met Breitbart, at CPAC two years ago, I spent three hours sitting on the floor of a hotel room just listening to him talk. He’ll tell you himself he’s kind of an ADHD case. He goes off on tangents when he’s talking sometimes until finally he says, “Hey, wait, what were we talking about?” But he’s super-smart, and he has an intuitive understanding of New Media, because he’s been in it since the Drudge Report was an e-mail list on AOL.

There’s a phrase I use, “gestalt logic,” that describes how someone like Breitbart thinks. If you spend a long time intensely studying a subject (e.g., history or math), you begin to discern patterns. And so when a new information or new problem presents itself, you fit that into the patterns you already know, in a way that someone who doesn’t study intensely would never see.

Think of a chess master who thinks three moves ahead, or a professional poker player who can instantly calculate the odds of the next card being the one he needs to fill a flush. Think about the NFL quarterback who reads the opposing defense with a half-second glance and calls an audible to adjust. Think of the veteran NASCAR driver who swerves slightly at 160 mph to avoid a collision. That’s gestalt logic in action.

Now we see Breitbart bringing this gestalt thinking to the linear format of a newspaper column. His column is always fresh and surprising. It’s not the familiar Beltway conventional wisdom or GOP talking points. I’d imagine some other columnists are looking at what Breitbart has been doing in his column and saying to themselves, “Wow. I need to up my game, or this guy’s going to eat my lunch every week.”

Last week, I talked to Breitbart on the phone for a few minutes while I was driving into DC. We talked about the phonies and fakers and ripoff artists who sell themselves as “Internet experts” and don’t have a freaking clue. (The Republican Party raised $900 million in the 2008 cycle, and what do they have to show for it?) Keep an eye on Breitbart. He gets it.