Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Nyhan v. Alterman: Celebrity Blogger Deathmatch!

Brendan Nyhan calls out Eric Alterman for writing the following statement:

In the name of fighting "terrorism," the administration has sent 40 percent of the National Guard to Iraq and Afghanistan in order to create more terrorists and let bin Laden get away.

As Nyhan points out, there's no evidence that the Bush administration intended any such thing so Alterman should have written something like the following:

In the name of fighting "terrorism," the administration has sent 40 percent of the National Guard to Iraq and Afghanistan but this has only resulted in creating more terrorists and letting bin Laden get away.

Nonetheless, Alterman lashed back by claiming that "in order to" doesn't really mean "in order to"!

The exchange goes back and forth a few times and is worth reading to get a chuckle out of Alterman's crazy mix of ad hominem attacks ("as a foolish young blogger named Brendan Nyhan idiotically insists") and pompous references to himself (" In the past twenty-three years, I've written six books, hundreds of columns and articles and a few thousand blog items"). To these attributes, one might also add hypocrisy. I Googled Alterman with the phrase "in order to" and got several interesting results, among them this Nation article where Alterman takes Ann Coulter to task because of the outrageous things she has written, if taken literally.

Also, how are we to interpret the following statements by Alterman in light of his new definition of "in order to?

In order to save his candidacy in South Carolina, George Bush all but destroyed his hopes for winning the presidency.

It's an incredible victory for the far Right that they've bullied the media with their attacks for 40 years, calling them liberal when they're not, in order to prevent them from fulfilling their duty to the Constitution of simply calling this man to account.

One hopes that amid the media-bashing that will surely come from the media’s upfront role in this crisis, even the most vocal critics will find time to commend the journalists who risked their lives to stay in dangerous situations in order to give the voiceless a voice, and transmit the horror to a stunned nation.

Is it the Neocons, the party hacks, the old-line Southern pols, whose palms Clinton needs to grease in order to smooth the way for a revitalization of government and redistribution of political power?

From the moment of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, and the Americanization of the war effort, our government was involved in the purposeful deception of the American people in order to prosecute a war it did not even dare declare.

What most of the flowery coverage neglected to mention, however, is that Clinton gutted each of these programs in order to portray himself as a winner.

In other words, they attack what in previous generations had been known as honest journalism, by throwing up the discredited but nevertheless effective accusation of "liberal bias" in order to protect their ideological fellow travelers from scrutiny.

To the horror of its well-wishers across the world, the United States—once the “last, best hope of mankind”- is re-inaugurating the worst president in its history; one who has exploited an attack, the success of which its own incompetence helped enable, in order to execute an extremist agenda that is killing thousands, costing trillions and leaving all of us far more insecure than when it began.

In order to defend this foolish, counterproductive and possibly illegal war, Kann deliberately misleads his audience with the statement:

Mr. "No Spin" alleges that the mainstream media present Soros as if he were "Little Bo Peep" in order to protect the Democrats "because most Americans don't buy into his agenda.

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