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11/8/2012
Can the GOP Win Without the Crazies?

Birthers, truthers, paranoids, conspiracists — the whole angry, resentful, frightened mob of right wingers who make up a good portion of the Republican base scares the wholly living hell out of most of the rest of us. They exist on a different plane of reality — uncomfortable with deep thinking, irrational when their delusions are challenged, and unable to climb out of the echo chamber in which they find comfort and support with other like minded crazies.

Worse than who and what they are, the establishment Republicans and even other rational conservatives tolerate them, dismiss them as inconsequential, or actively encourage them in hopes of using their energy, activism, and money to win office.

I categorize the crazies, recognizing there is overlap in and redundancy in my taxonomy:

1. The Birthers. Still alive and kicking and insisting that either a) Obama wasn’t born here; or b) he is an illegitimate president because he’s not a “natural born citizen.” They’ve only got 4 more years to prove their case.

2. Conspiracists. Runs the gamut from the birther issue mentioned above to the idea that hundreds of reputable scientists are colluding to cook the books on global warming. Several prominent congressmen - Michele Bachmann among them — have joined this group by wondering if Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s close aide, isn’t a Muslim Brotherhood plant.

3. Anti-Science crackpots. Enter the evangelical right who dismisses evolution, the Big Bang Theory, as well as other right wingers who worry about vaccinations and are convinced a woman can’t get pregnant from rape because her body automatically shuts down to prevent it.

4. Anti-intellectual. Dismissing out of hand any criticism from anyone who they believe isn’t a conservative. They are suspicious of anyone who went to an Ivy League school or who thinks for a living, and they reflexively reject nuance and logic because if you don’t feel it in your gut, you’re probably a squishy moderate.

5. Paranoids. Pure Hofstadter. Read.

6. Cry “Communist!” and let slip the dogs of war! Is there anything loopier about the crazies than their belief that the US is turning into a Marxist dictatorship? Sheesh.

It is an open question how large this segment of “conservatives” might be. Being in a better position than most to hazard an intelligent guess, I would put the percentage at more than 25% but less than 35%. I don’t believe any polls on the matter for the simple reason that the way questions about birtherism or socialism are formulated sweeps up many on the right who have questions about such things, but don’t give them much credence.

So, how much did fear and loathing of the GOP crazies by ordinary voters contribute to the party’s debacle on Tuesday?

On Wednesday, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray said the decisive Senate victories for her party had “proved to Republicans that extremists are dooming their party to disaster.”

“If Republicans want to follow the Tea Party off a political cliff, that’s their prerogative,” Murray said on a conference call with reporters. “But we will not let them take America off a cliff.”

Sorry, but it’s far more complicated than that. The self identified “Tea Party” has many faces, many factions — some of whom are rational libertarians, thoughtful federalists, or plain old Main Street Republicans.

But there is no doubt that the energy, the dynamism, and the soul of the Tea Party movement can be found in the angry, contorted faces of its members screaming about “Communism” and “Socialism” at rallies across the land. They are a fraternity of, for the most part, middle aged, Middle Class angry white males who believe they see the country they grew up in slipping away. Their vision of what America was like — a vision that obscures or ignores the more unseemly aspects of American society in decades past — lives on in Ronald Reagan’s “shining city on a hill” (a phrase The Gipper stole from Puritan leader John Winthrop). It’s a precious, if completely fanciful vision of an America that never was, but is embraced because it validates the sincere patriotic feelings felt by most ordinary Americans. They fear change because it is unsettling to have America’s perfection challenged in such a stark and obvious way.

America is changing — has always changed — and this has always unnerved some of us. It’s too easy to explain it away by saying that racism is the motivating factor in their hate. By limiting one’s explanation to the loss of white privilege, you lose sight of the traditionalist nature of their opposition to President Obama and his leftist allies.

Ed Kilgore:

As we have seen throughout history, cultural despair can lead to quiescence—to the withdrawal from politics and the building of counter-cultural institutions—or to hyper-activism—to the building of self-consiously counter-revolutionary political movements that exhibit contempt for democracy and treat opponents as enemies on an almost existential level. Maybe the kind of stuff I quoted above just reflects an emotional hangover from an election conservatives convinced themselves they were going to win. But it’s hardly new; much of the Tea Party Movement and its “constitutional conservative” ideology has involved a strange sort of anti-Americanism cloaked in super-patriotism. It wouldn’t be surprising if the same people reacted to the re-election of Barack Obama by taking their hostility to America as it is to another level.

For better or worse, the Tea Party has become the Tao of the GOP. Trying to remove them would sap most of the energy and activism from the party, which is why you don’t see too many establishment or mainstream Republicans trying to marginalize them.

But despite Kilgore’s use of scare quotes for “constitutional conservative” — as if this isn’t a valid philosophical construct or something to be feared or belittled — there is actually a purpose to the Tea Party’s obsession with the Constitution. The Kilgore’s of the world definitely don’t want to debate this, but the notion of “limited” government is at the heart of the Tea Party critique of the American government. Many of them have almost a biblical belief in the sanctity of the Constitution, that it must be taken literally, word for word like the Bible, and if something like national health care doesn’t appear in it, it is by definition “unconstitutional.” Others have a childlike understanding of the meaning of federalism, or the commerce clause, that makes them suspicious of anything that augments those concepts.

But despite all this, they are the only Americans willing to debate the limits of power granted to the federal government by our founding document. In this respect, the left, who prefer to keep their options open when it comes to defining limits on federal power, finds it convenient to tar tea partiers as racists, or authoritarians, or, as Kilgore does, anti-American. Some may be all of those, but to dismiss the argument they are making with scare quotes and name calling fails to recognize the value in what, in their own misguided way, they are trying to accomplish. I would venture to say that not since the ratification debates of 1787-88 has the Constitution been so seriously studied and debated. It’s a debate that needs to happen if there is any hope of maintaining a healthy balance between individual freedom and the needs of society to progress.

But the Tea Party does not represent the totality of the GOP crazies problem. Radical Christians who want to deny basic rights to gays, and even to women, are a far larger quandary. They vote. And no candidate for the presidency who runs on the Republican ticket can avoid toeing the line on their issues. If Mitt Romney had stood up to them by maintaining his position on gay marriage, abortion and other social issues, it is very likely he would not have been nominated. It’s at least partly the reason that governors like Mitch Daniels and Chris Christie refused to enter the GOP field in 2012. Catering to the concerns of people who believe the earth was created 6,000 years ago proves to be too much for some.

It would be a dream solution for the evangelicals, the tea party, and the other crazies to form their own party, as Herman Cain suggested:

Herman Cain, the former presidential candidate who still has a robust following via his popular talk radio program and speaking tours, today suggested the most clear step to open civil war: secession. Appearing on Bryan Fischer’s radio program this afternoon, Cain called for a large faction of Republican Party leaders to desert the party and form a third, more conservative party.

“I never thought that I would say this, and this is the first time publicly that I’ve said it: We need a third party to save this country. Not Ron Paul and the Ron Paulites. No. We need a legitimate third party to challenge the current system that we have, because I don’t believe that the Republican Party … has the ability to rebrand itself,” Cain said.

Rush Limbaugh agrees:

Rush Limabugh, two months ago, echoed the sentiment. ”If Obama wins, let me tell you what it’s the end of: the Republican Party. There’s gonna be a third party that’s gonna be oriented toward conservatism,” he said.

Well, some people’s idea of “conservatism” anyway.

Of course, a third party of anti-abortion and anti-gay activists, evangelical Christians, radical anti-government Objectivists, and paranoid loons would never win a national election. But then, neither would the GOP. This wouldn’t exactly be a split between ideologues and pragmatists, but it would clearly define the divisions in the conservative movement and Republican party in such a way that one or both parties might attract enough Democrats who may be tiring of the relentless liberalism currently in vogue on the left and would seek a different brand of populism or moderate politics.

But for the present, the crazies and the GOP establishment need each other. And unless the pragmatists realize just how much of a drag the crazies are on their political fortunes, the GOP is likely to continue losing mainstream voters who look in askance on a party that tolerates such nuttiness.

By: Rick Moran at 1:59 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

4/28/2011
Birthers Appear Unimpressed with Obama Birth Certificate

My latest PJ Media column looks at the stubborn stupidity that is the Birther movement in the wake of the release of Obama’s birth certificate:

A sample:

For the true-blue, dyed-in-the-wool, never-say-never birthers, the only thing that will apparently convince them of the provenance of Obama’s birth is a document that tells them exactly what they believe — that the president wasn’t born here and is therefore ineligible to hold office. Any evidence to the contrary is dismissed as fake or forged, or is simply ignored as not worthy of their attention.

To wit: When confronted with irrefutable proof that you have been wrong all along, concentrate on minutiae that, at least in your own mind, can keep the theory alive. Here’s a comment from Roger L. Simon’s “Teachable Moment” post on the Tatler:

A color copy, and everyone uses black ink to sign their name? 90% of pens in the world are blue.

This is an obvious forgery.

It is sad and pathetic, yes. After having gone through several hundred comments on sites ranging from Hot Air to Newsbusters, the only conclusion I can draw is the astonishing fact that not one single birther admits to error. I would hope that there are some birthers who have seen the light and are too embarrassed or depressed to comment about it. But those that took the trouble either searched valiantly for the kind of detail our friend above found, or speculated about ways the certificate of live birth could have been forged:

Witness Protection forges documents all the time. Whose [sic] to day [sic] this is not one? Same for CIA. BUT – the big question is why hide it?

The answer to that question was given by White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer:

Earlier Wednesday, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said the debate has been “really bad for the Republican Party.”

The so-called “birther” debate is “good politics” but “bad for the country,” said Pfeiffer.

With 75% of the country believing that President Obama was either definitely or probably born in America, and 45% of Republicans believing the opposite, the White House didn’t have to lift a finger to “prove” anything. The GOP was doing a bang-up job of making themselves look like paranoid nutcases without any help. The old political adage that states “Never get in the way of your opponent when they are self-destructing” applied here.

I urge everyone to read Richard Hofstadter’s old essay “The Paranoid Style in American Politics” to understand the mindset at work among the Birthers. I think most objective observers today would admit that Hofstadter allowed his partisanship to intrude far too often in his observations (later in life, he abandoned the new left and embraced conservatism as a philosophy). But much of what he writes can be applied to either the right or left fringe, which makes many of his points ring true.

When so much of one’s intellectual and emotional capital is invested in paranoid beliefs, it becomes impossible to admit error because one isn’t just admitting they are wrong about a single issue, they are admitting that their worldview is incorrect. The entire notion of  how they experience reality is challenged. Therefore, it becomes imperative to protect their beliefs, even if every piece of  objective evidence says otherwise.

With Donald Trump now leading the GOP field, it’s a good bet that other paranoid fantasies will be resurrected. I can’t believe some of the people who are cheering this irresponsible lout on. He’s more arrogant than Obama. He’s more of a narcissist, less experienced in government, and less patient and prudent. He’s got an ego the size of Mount Everest and would likely betray Republicans as often as he would hammer the Democrats.

If Trump wins the nomination even after making some of the most outrageous statements ever uttered by a serious candidate for president - that we should take Libya’s oil, for instance - then the Birthers will look downright rational next to a Republican party that had truly lost its collective mind.

By: Rick Moran at 10:55 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

4/26/2011
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO KEEP DEBUNKING THE BIRTHERS

I suppose I shouldn’t care about the birther issue so much. After all, I am not a Republican anymore. If the party wants to blow itself up, it shouldn’t concern me.

But most of those making this idiotic argument dare to call themselves “conservative.” They are not. They are far right wackos who live in a paranoid world where truth, and logic, and reason are banned by law. These are people who are proud of their ignorance, despise achievement, denigrate intelligence, eschew excellence, and wallow in mediocrity. Their heroes are political lightweights — bomb throwers who glory in their very averageness. It excites the mouth breathers that Sarah Palin is no smarter than they are. They swoon at Bachmann’s nonsensical political attacks and paranoid fears about policies of which she is deliberately ignorant.

The Bachmann’s, the Palin’s, the West’s, the Caine’s - these are all politicians who are proud of their inability to elevate political dialogue and rise above the petty resentments of their constituencies in order to inspire, not hate. They are leading legions of people astray and I despise them for it.

Using what used to be conservatism’s good name in order to push these jaw dropping theories about Obama’s origins brings the fringe to the mainstream. The internet amplifies and broadcasts this claptrap, placing it in the feedback loop that is conservative online media, and since most conservatives refuse to expose themselves to alternate ideas and worldviews - automatically dismissing information not based on its relevance or logic, but rather based solely on its source - birther nonsense gains traction. What belongs in the closet is brought into the light because the birthers have no sense of proportion, no idea how to weigh and judge authoritative proof for their paranoid theories. In fact, the more authoritative the evidence, the less it is believed. All alternative sources are suspect as being part of the conspiracy or hopelessly biased in favor of the president.

Communicating among themselves, citing each other’s “evidence” as proof for their theories, relying on evidentiary standards that wouldn’t pass muster in a Kangaroo Court, and descending into an ever more involved and twisted exercise in dot connecting, birthers are immune to any appeals to logic or reason.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a birther bill last week that was a poorly disguised religious test and, as even some conservative legal scholars have pointed out, exceeds the authority of the state in that it adds requirements not found in the Constitution. Here, she points out the obvious:

“It’s just something I believe is leading our country down a path of destruction and it just is not serving any good purpose,” Brewer said, calling it a distraction from the much more pressing issue of the economy.

“I think we really just need to move on,” Brewer continued. “Everybody’s had two years to prove, if they wanted to, that he was not born in Hawaii. They haven’t come up with any of that kind of proof.”

The vast majority of the country is not crazy. This quest to uncover evidence that doesn’t exist - a quest supported to varying degrees by 45% of Republicans - will finish the Republican party as a serious political force for god knows how long. This doesn’t seem to bother the Chairman of the RNC Reince Priebus:

“It doesn’t worry me,” Priebus said at a Tuesday breakfast with reporters sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. “But the reality is that I’m chairman of the RNC … In regard to this birther issue, I’ve got better things to worry about.”

Sorry Mr. Chairman, you’re dead wrong. When nearly half your flock embraces a theory on par with believing the earth is flat, it’s time to get concerned. Very concerned.

And the weak kneed, lily livererd GOP politicians who are fully aware of the insanity of the birther movement aren’t talking, or are even going so far as issuing mealy-mouthed statements like the Chairman above - we’ve got better things to do than concentrate on this “non-issue.”

Earth to GOP pols: Half your fricking constituency doesn’t think this is a “non-issue” and are worried about it. Maybe a strong, unequivocal statement, calling the birthers what they are - certifiable kooks - might knock the chocks from underneath their bandwagon. I realize you can’t criticize Trump for using the birthers to further his political ambitions because you all have been doing the same thing for years. But maybe you can stop the Mickey Mouse, condemn the nutcases for being outside the bounds of sanity, and then get on with beating the Democrats.

I realize this will fall on deaf ears with most of the birthers. For it is not evidence they want, it is a revelation - a religious event where God reveals the truth and hits them over the head with it. Since such an occurrence is unlikely, I expect the birthers to continue to make fools of themselves.

I wouldn’t mind so much except they are claiming the mantle of conservatism while doing so. And to my mind, that is perhaps their greatest sin and their most spectacular flight from reality of all.

By: Rick Moran at 11:54 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

4/15/2011
TRUMP: MAKING IT RESPECTABLE TO BE A RIGHT WING NUT

You might think it ironic that a website that calls itself “Right Wing Nuthouse” would be accusing Donald Trump and his Birther crusade of enabling, well…right wing nuts.

You would be right. It is ironic, although that shouldn’t detract from my excellent article up at PJ Media this morning.

A sample:

There’s no more hiding for Republicans. The wolf is no longer at the door. He has actually been invited in for tea and crumpets and is now sitting primly in the parlor chatting amiably while he plots mayhem and destruction for the party that once stood for prudence and probity.

Now it is in danger of standing for paranoid kookiness. As responsible adults in the party wring their hands in worry and frustration, a smiling Donald Trump unleashes the crazies, bringing them into the light and showering them with respectability dust. The Hofstadter Brigade of birthers, conspiracists, racists, and born again Birchers — people who give right wing wackos a bad name — have been given permission by at least one adult to go roll around in the mud and mess themselves without having to clean up before dinner. Giving this crew their heads by joining them in their fantasies is either the most irresponsible move ever made by a serious candidate for president, or a brilliant stroke of self-promotion that will pay big dividends for Trump when all the excitement about his candidacy dies down.

I suspect the latter. Trump, for all his bluster, can’t seriously believe that the certification of live birth issued by the Obama campaign in 2008 and confirmed as authentic by the state of Hawaii is a forgery, or was planted by Communists, or was altered in some way. There is not one scintilla of evidence for any of those possibilities — at least, evidence that would be accepted by someone with more than two brain cells working.

If altered or a forgery, then a conspiracy of gigantic proportions involving many members of the government of Hawaii has been hidden from all of us, except those few who have been vouchsafed the ability to see what isn’t there. Members of the conspiracy that has aided Obama would include former Republican Governor of Hawaii Linda Lingle and former Republican Lt. Governor James Aiona. Why they would want to hide the origins of Obama’s birth can only be guessed at. Maybe they’re closet commies or something.

The fact that 41% of Republicans around the country believe this twaddle makes me want to go hide under a rock and not come out until sanity returns to the GOP. What a remarkable testament to stupidity and paranoia in politics.

Not that any birthers are lurking out there (and even if they were they wouldn’t listen), but in order to question Obama’s origins, you have to completely ignore the authenticated certificate of live birth. There’s just no way around it - unless you believe that a monstrous conspiracy involving the state of Hawaii is at work. So birthers get even more convoluted in their fantasies only by dismissing the COLB as a forgery - after the state of Hawaii authenticated it.The only place to go after that is that the COLB was “planted” by someone - a contention for which there is zero evidence and has a zero possibility of being true in the first place.

Does anyone not see the disconnect here? Richard Hofstadter explained that the reason these paranoids continue to believe nonsense can be found in their sourcing. Ask a birther to prove a contention - say, there is no embossed seal on the COLB - and they will come back with “evidence…supplied by another birther! No independent, unbiased authority. No corroborated evidence. In fact, those sources debunk the mytht of no embossed seal. Just simple minded churning of rumor, innuendo, fantasy, and outright lies all between the same group of nut cases who got their original “theories” from each other in the first place!

This is what I mean when I bemoan the fact that 40% of the GOP believing this crap disqualifies the party from leadership. Rejecting, indeed becoming hostile, to reason, logic, and the truth that is right in front of their noses should cause the American people to reject any representative of such a party - especially for president.

And Trump has made it all possible. The crazies were pretty well marginalized until Trump came along and gave them respectability. Now they have a new lease on life and are crawling out of the woodwork, happy to have a celebrity who is taken seriously in some quarters on their side of the issue.

Trump gets mad when someone says he has no chance of winning. Alright, you can’t win, Donald. As long as you continue to play with the fringe, you will be rejected by the majority of Republicans - and Americans - who find your dalliance with the paranoid right a disqualifying factor in their judgment as to whether or not you should be president.

Thank God for that.

By: Rick Moran at 7:21 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

4/12/2011
THE RICK MORAN SHOW: TRUMP: MAKING IT RESPECTABLE TO BE A RIGHT WING NUT

You won’t want to miss tonight’s Rick Moran Show, one of the most popular conservative political talk shows on Blog Talk Radio.

Tonight, I welcome the “Rick Moran Show All-Stars:” Vodkapundit Stephen Green, Rich Baehr of the American Thinker, and Jazz Shaw of Hot Air. We’ll discuss “The Donald” phenomenon as well as the political issues surrounding the debt ceiling/budget deficit debate.

The show will air from 7:00 - 8:00 PM Central time. You can access the live stream here. A podcast will be available for streaming or download shortly after the end of the broadcast.

Click on the stream below and join in on what one wag called a “Wayne’s World for adults.”

Also, if you’d like to call in and put your two cents in, you can dial (718) 664-9764.

Listen to The Rick Moran Show on internet talk radio

By: Rick Moran at 2:40 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

2/17/2011
ROVE AND I ARE RIGHT: INNOCULATE CONSERVATISM AGAINST THE BIRTHERS

The recent poll showing that an astonishing 51% of GOP primary voters believe that Obama is a “foreigner” has proved what I wrote more than a year and a half ago; the Birthers are poison and threaten the party and conservative movement.

Me in July, 2009:

The question then becomes do we try and isolate, chastise, and ultimately drive out the paranoid purveyors of utterly fantastical notions of Obama’s origins while they are still a small enough group that a concerted effort could succeed? Or do we wait and see how big they get before acting, thus risking a backlash against the right from the voter?

To prevent many diseases from harming our health, we inoculate ourselves so that an illness will not develop. I propose something similar in dealing with the Birthers. For my part, anyone who leaves a comment on this site, on any post, that advances any birther “theory” will be banned from accessing my writings.

Some might think this a bad idea in that I will forgo “debate” or perhaps not allow a Birther to be convinced otherwise. That’s nonsense. My experience with Birthers has been that they don’t want to hear any contrary evidence, that they have closed their mind so completely to the truth that arguing with a brick wall would be easy by comparison.

Besides, for most Birthers, it’s not about discovering the truth. It is about delegitimizing the president. For months they demanded to see the president’s birth certificate. When the state of Hawaii released a “Certificate of Live Birth,” we heard from the Birthers that it wasn’t good enough, or it was a fake. “All we want is to see the president’s birth certificate,” they innocently ask. And they take the president’s reluctance to do so - indeed, his fight in the courts to prevent the release of it - as “evidence” that there is something amiss.

[...]

I am open to any and all ideas on how to marginalize these kooks before conservatism itself becomes a victim of the Birthers unbalanced lunacy. We can no longer turn the other way when confronted with Birther blather. Since they won’t listen to reason , shame and humiliation would seem to me to be the best way to closet them with the other nutcases of American politics

Karl Rove yesterday:

ROVE: Republicans had better be clear about this.

We had a problem in the 1950’s with the John Birch Society, and it took Bill Buckley standing up as a strong conservative and taking them on.

Within our party, we’ve got to be very careful about allowing these people who are the birthers and the 9/11-deniers to get too high a profile and say too much without setting the record straight.

BILL O’REILLY: What percentage of Republican voters — 5%, 10%?

ROVE: I don’t know, but whatever it is, it ought to be less, because we need the leaders of our party to say “Look, stop falling into the trap of the White House and focus on the real issues.”

O’REILLY: You know this stat that was put out — that 51% of Republicans…

ROVE: … look, this is a lousy poll.

O’REILLY: I know it is, but it’s going to be picked up — it already has been by the mainstream media.

ROVE: Absolutely.

O’REILLY: To demonize the rest of the Republican party.

ROVE: Sure, it fits into the White House theme-line.

O’REILLY: But isn’t that smart of the White House to do that?

ROVE: Oh, absolutely.

Look, these guys may be lousy at governing, Bill, but they’re damn good at politics.

O’REILLY: So it’s a smart strategy….

ROVE: … sure it is, because if we are where we are, which is we have a group of people out there who keep repeating this, and we’ve yet to get into a place where candidates are being asked about this in debates — look, don’t you think in the Fox debate or one of these debates that’s gonna be televised, candidates are going to be asked about this?

If they’d step forward and say “Look, we’ve got better things to talk about, then to fall into this trap that the White House has laid for us”, this issue will start to go away.

Rove wants the “leaders” of the party to take a stand and marginalize these kooks. Fat chance. John Boehner - incredibly - said the other day that it wasn’t his job to tell the American people what to think.

That’s real leadership, eh?

Birtherism, the loony idea that Obama is deliberately trying to destroy the country, Cloward-Piven nonsense, Saul Alinsky’s ludicrous gameplan — what all of these have in common is paranoia. Part of the reason is just plain ignorance — a lack of applying logic to a supposition and coming to a rational conclusion. Opposing Obama is not irrational; seeing evil in the results of his policies is. It is a leap of illogic to posit that Obama’s policies are having a monstrously bad effect on the economy, ergo, this automatically means that he has it in for America. I’ll never understand that kind of thinking, tinged as it is with an hysterical view of one’s political opponent. Isn’t it bad enough that the president is an incompetent boob? Why invent motivations that are so off kilter that one wonders how those who hold these views function in society?

A sizable segment - easily more than a third - of conservatives and Republicans are bat guano crazy. A similar percentage who are nutso on the left subscribe to idiotic conspiracies involving the Koch Brothers or the Chamber of Commerce, or some other right wing target. We are at the exact moment in American history when we can least afford to have a third of the electorate held in thrall to fantasy. We need hard headed realism, not mushy headed conspiracy theories.

What happens if things fall apart? With millions divorced from objective reality, I leave it to your imagination.

.

By: Rick Moran at 3:53 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

4/5/2010
THE TEA PARTY NARRATIVE JUST JUMPED THE SHARK

This article originally appears on the Moderate Voice.

And it was all going so well for Democrats and liberals in the media.

Display a picture or vid clip of angry, contorted faces of the tea partiers, add the race card, accuse the “core” of the movement of being birthers, and generally play to the idea that this vast, grassroots movement is a small, insignificant bunch of sour grape Republicans who hate Obama.

Well, it worked for a while. But something funny happened on the way to smearing millions of ordinary Americans worried about the future; surveys of tea partiers show them to be almost as mainstream as a McDonald’s french fry:

The national breakdown of the Tea Party composition is 57 percent Republican, 28 percent Independent and 13 percent Democratic, according to three national polls by the Winston Group, a Republican-leaning firm that conducted the surveys on behalf of an education advocacy group. Two-thirds of the group call themselves conservative, 26 are moderate and 8 percent say they are liberal.

The Winston Group conducted three national telephone surveys of 1,000 registered voters between December and February. Of those polled, 17 percent – more than 500 people — said they were “part of the Tea Party movement.” …

Yeah, yeah OK. Let’s trash the results because the Winston Group is “Republican leaning.”

I suppose Gallup is in the GOP’s pocket too?

Tea Party supporters skew right politically; but demographically, they are generally representative of the public at large. That’s the finding of a USA Today/Gallup poll conducted March 26-28, in which 28% of U.S. adults call themselves supporters of the Tea Party movement.

Tea Party supporters are decidedly Republican and conservative in their leanings. Also, compared with average Americans, supporters are slightly more likely to be male and less likely to be lower-income.

In several other respects, however — their age, educational background, employment status, and race — Tea Partiers are quite representative of the public at large. (Emphasis mine)

Gallup actually gives better numbers for party affiliation than the GOP leaning Winston Group; 48% Republican and 43% independent with 8% self identified Democrats. And did Gallup really measure 32% of all Democrats in America supporting the tea partiers?

Ooops. There goes the narrative - mostly. With 28% of all Americans supporting the Tea Partiers and 26% opposed, you are bound to get a few kooks and crazies. You know the type; the one in ten thousand who hold up a sign comparing Obama to a witch doctor who somehow is portrayed as representative of protestors.

But I find it interesting that a group that is representative of the racial makeup of the US would be…racist. Can’t use the excuse that voters aren’t aware of the charges of racism made so casually, so nauseatingly by opponents. They’d have to be oblivious to the avalanche of media reports and opinion pieces that make the racist charge so cavalierly.

Beyond that, it is also not surprising that the majority would be conservative Republicans, although one might refer to most tea partiers as “nominal Republicans” in that I doubt whether there are more than a handful of GOP politicians that tea partiers are happy with.

I have been very critical of those in the tea party movement who seek to use anger and fear as a wedge to gain support for their cause. It is still my belief that reason wins a lot more converts than screaming, and fear mongering is self defeating - as seen by the failure to stop Obamacare. That vocal minority has done more damage to the tea party movement than most are willing to admit.

But the left is going to have to start coming to terms with this group based on reality, not their own, politically motivated smears. It is possible to argue against their positions without referring to them as racist, although I admit it’s a challenge to defend deficits of more than a trillion dollars as far as the eye can see. It is also possible to critique their arguments without trying to marginalize them as kooks. “Birtherism” has been so discredited that only a fringe now tries to keep the idea alive that Obama isn’t a natural born citizen. At any rate, is is a deliberate smear to posit the notion that the “core” of the tea party movement are birthers, as the president suggested in his Today Show interview.

Is the conservatism of the tea party movement farther right, in general, than the mainstream? We have little relevant data to make any kind of intelligent determination but my sense is that there is a distinct hard right flavor that, as Gallup might indicate, places the tea partiers on the edge of mainstream politics; not fringe by any means but some distance from the “center-right” that makes up the bulk of American voters. I would peg them as more ideological than much of the mainstream which skews their views in many respects. The fact that only 28% of all adults support them while 46% either have no opinion or don’t know shows there are a lot of adults in America who are suspicious of the tea party movement, as most Americans tend to be of excessively ideological people.

But even with those caveats, you cannot escape the notion that the narrative created by tea party opponents to smear them has been dealt a serious blow by these surveys. I’m sure on April 15th, when the tea partiers gather en masse once again, that we will get the same kind of coverage in the media that we have gotten previously; ignoring the tens of thousands of peaceful, reasonable, passionate demonstrators and highlight the kooks. At least, judging from the results of the surveys, the American people appear to be looking beyond that narrative and are focusing on the message of the movement; that we are spending too much and burdening future generations with obligations they will not be able to meet.

By: Rick Moran at 9:03 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

3/10/2010
8 EXAGGERATIONS AND MYTHS PUSHED BY CONSERVATIVES ABOUT OBAMA

It is difficult to be on the outside looking in when it comes to the exercise of power. For 8 years, it caused hysterical derangement on a very large slice of the left who tried to promote the idea that George Bush was a fascist, or a theocrat intent on establishing an authoritarian “regime” - the word most often used even by “respectable” liberals. America does not have “regimes” - not now, not then, not ever. But you can’t tell that to liberals who, for 8 long, tiresome years, bored us to death with their paranoid fantasies about George Bush. The draft, the Haliburton nonsense, the “lies” about WMD, the “lapdog press,” the “stolen” elections - all this and more, told and retold on the web, and even sometimes in respectable publications (not to mention the halls of Congress); paranoid delusions that only grew wilder and more sensationally idiotic as time went on.

Nor can you convince many conservatives today that entire segments of their overall critique of President Obama are hysterically exaggerated fantasies, nonsensical assumptions and “truths” that bear no resemblance to the facts. The left today has their own delusions; about conservatives, Republicans, and the motives of both. But it is conservatives who, by pushing these ridiculous fallacies about the president, are swallowing the barrel and pulling the trigger on their chances to rally the country behind them and take back the government.

I have been virtually told that I don’t hate Barack Obama enough; that if I don’t parrot these birdbrained “facts” about the president, I am actually a supporter of his or, at best, a simpleminded dupe who just can’t see what kind of evil man he is.

Worse, by highlighting these imbecilic talking points, or going after cotton candy conservatives and others on the right who are shooting conservatism in the foot with their derangement, I am a traitor. Better to lie and march to the beat of the same drum in order to defeat the forces of darkness who besmirch our republic with their loathsome plans.

Sorry. I don’t do lockstep. Nor am I enamored with illogical, unreasonable, and patently false arguments about Obama that serve only to prove that there are many on the right who have lost themselves in overhyped agitation - a delirium tremens that no amount of Chivas can help.

What really flips my gibbet is that this guy Obama is such an easy target for rational, penetrating criticism. He’s a clown sitting above a dunk tank just waiting for an accurate missile to send him to a well deserved soaking. Instead, so many on the right are missing so wildly they end up smacking themselves in the nose with their own throws.

There is an objective reality in which most Americans live. It’s a place where people are human, not cartoon cut-outs of evil. It’s a place where there is a connection between actions and rhetoric. And it is a place where facts are facts, not exaggerated, paranoid flakes of fancy seen through a broken mirror of ideology and fear.

Here then are 8 popular myths and exaggerations about Barack Obama that are routinely pushed by the right. Having been a comment moderator for three conservative sites, I know them by heart and can attest that at the very least, a large number of conservatives believe this nonsense.

1. Obama is sympathetic to Moooooslims and favors them at the expense of America

This has variations from Obama is a closet Muslim, to Obama wants to establish Sharia law, to Obama is actually a terrorist. One or all of these jumbo baloney sandwiches passes for wisdom among many on the right, including a prominent blogger who is worried that the 2 million Muslims in America are sneaking up on the rest of the 299 million of us and wish to make us all into dhimmis.

2. Obama is a socialist/Marxist.

I put this one to rest right before the election here.

Obama is a liberal. He’s a far left, garden variety, 100%, fully inspected La-La Land lefty. Are his policies “socialist?” Sure. I guess. Some of his policies ape programs initiated by socialist governments. National health insurance for one.

But the same could be said for Social Security, Medicare, and a host of Great Society programs still with us today. The social democracies of Europe that so enamor the left are not “socialist” countries - not by a long shot. The means of production are still in the hands of private citizens, even though those governments - and soon, our own - make it difficult for private enterprise to succeed. It makes no sense to call what Obama is doing “socialist” if you wish to adhere to the strictest definition of the word. And if you’re not going to stick with how a word is defined and make up your own definition, why bother with the English language at all?

It is quite simply an exaggeration to say that the president is a socialist.

3. Obama hates America.

Glad that so many of my friends on the right have been given the gift of insight into someone’s heart.

In truth, the president loves America as most liberals love it; in an abstract, intellectualized manner. It would perhaps be more accurate to say the president loves what America could be, rather than what she is now. I happen to believe you can love both Americas but many on the right are steadfast in their belief that America can do no wrong, while probably the same number on the left believe she can do no right. It is a different kind of love, but a love nonetheless, and to posit that the president of the United States hates his own country is, on its face, absurd.

4. Obama wasn’t born here/not a natural born citizen/is hiding the origins of his birth/is the spawn of the devil/is the antichrist.

Debunked too many times, in too many places to waste any time here except to say that about 30% of conservatives have “questions” about Obama’s origins.

A winning issue for 2010.

5. Obama is deliberately trying to destroy America.

This is a favorite of Rush Limbaugh. The “reasoning” goes, Obama wants to destroy America so that everybody becomes dependent on the federal government for their very lives. This will create a permanent Democratic majority because everyone knows that people who are dependent on government vote for Democrats.

I can’t argue against the notion that the president’s policies have the potential to harm America greatly. I have argued such in the past. If that happened, I am sure the president would be as disappointed as the rest of us. No doubt, he would blame it on Bush.

But there is no politician who would ever deliberately destroy the country that just elected him. Where’s the advantage? I daresay that voters would give a good goddamn about dependency and throw the majority party who ruined their lives out into the street.

This is so absurd on its face and yet so prevalent a notion on the right, is it any wonder I question the sanity of conservatives sometimes?

And then there’s a related myth…

6. Obama is deliberately preventing a recovery.

This is a variation on #5 but the “reasoning” is a little different. Obama needs a “crisis” to pass his agenda.

He’s had a crisis, his agenda lies in tatters, and he is proven so incompetent he can’t even take advantage of the worst economic crisis in 80 years to push through a Congress his party owns lock, stock, and barrel anything except an $800 billion stim bill he didn’t write and had little to do with passing.

7. Obama wants to kill your grandma.

We have Sarah Palin to thank for this one. It is the one myth in the health care debate that refuses all applications of reason and logic, and is persistently advanced despite all evidence to the contrary.

The slippery slope argument is even bogus. It is impossible to connect the dots from A to Z, as I explained here. But Saracudda says it’s true so it must be.

8. Obama goes around the world “apologizing” for America’s sins

If you’re not grown up, or well read enough, or have been asleep for the last 50 years, you know that there are several things that America should be apologizing for. But here, we have a gross exaggeration of what the president was doing by highlighting our shortcomings (I don’t believe the words “apology” or “We’re sorry” ever crossed his lips.)

The president acknowledged errors - at least, errors from his perspective - that America committed not only during the Bush administration, but prior to that as well. He also acknowledged them because his audience perceived our actions to be in error - whether we think them right or wrong.

But almost in the same breath, Obama castigated his audiences from London to Cairo for their reflexive, knee jerk anti-Americanism. Tony Blair and John Howard actually said it much better than he did. But our professorial president used a common rhetorician’s gimmick of forcing the audience to listen to him by agreeing with their perceptions about America and then hammering them for their own shortcomings.

It was an effective technique and certainly won him a lot of friends overseas among the common folk. But it is inaccurate to say that he “apologized” for our past. In fact, he frequently went out of his way to say that he had no apologies for our ideals or principles. It appears to me that many on the right heard what they wanted to hear and closed their mind to the rest. Hence, this myth - as widespread as it is - doesn’t stand up to the facts.

The unhinged nature of some of the criticism directed at the president reflects badly on the entire right. When you consider that Obama is a duck in a shooting gallery that a pie eyed prostitute could hit with her eyes closed, it is a mystery why so many seek to misrepresent and exaggerate what this president has done and what he stands for.

Keep your eye on the target and allow logic and reason to guide your criticisms. Leave behind the paranoia, the fear mongering, and the hysteria. That’s the losers argument. Let objective reality animate your commentary and people will actually start to listen rather than turn you off quicker than a Tim Robbins movie.

By: Rick Moran at 11:50 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (2)

2/3/2010
GOING ALL HOFSTADTER ON ME
CATEGORY: Birthers, Politics

The problem with being associated with a party made up of very large numbers of kooks, loons, paranoids, nitwits, and ignorant twits is that after a while, you begin to question your own sanity, your own grasp on reality. You begin to wonder if there isn’t, in fact, something wrong with you rather than the other way around.

Indeed, if a majority are nutzo and you aren’t, who’s to say what’s reasonable, or rational? Sounds like a Rod Serling script. If he didn’t write it, maybe I should give it a shot.

A new poll of more than 2,000 self-identified Republican voters illustrates the incredible paranoia enveloping the party and the intense pressure drawing lawmakers further and further away from political moderation.

The numbers speak for themselves — a large portion of GOP voters think that President Obama is racist, socialist or a non-US citizen — though, when considering them, it is important to note that a disproportionate percentage of respondents are from GOP strongholds in the South (42 percent) as opposed to the Northeast (11 percent). Also note that this is a poll of self-identified Republicans, which means that independent Tea Party types are not included.

Stein is being fair by excluding the tea party movement from this madness, although my guess would be that many if not a majority are at least nominal Republicans like myself. We just don’t know if they are more or less wacky than their erstwhile compatriots in the GOP.

At times, it’s like being in an inside out nightmare, where otherwise perfectly sane, rational people look at you as if you’re from another planet if you don’t agree that the president is deliberately trying to destroy the country, or wants the terrorists to win.

I want to believe it when many on the right tell me that the paranoid fringe is just that - a small subset of believers who are over-represented on the internet. This may even be true in some sections of the country like the northeast. But even if you believe that Research 2000, a reputable polling company, would collude with the Daily Kos in cooking the books on Republican attitudes toward the president, you can’t escape the uncomfortable feeling if you visit as many websites, and read as many comment threads as I do that it is a false hope to think this kind of deranged thinking is limited to a small number of outriders on the right:

# 39 percent of Republicans believe Obama should be impeached, 29 percent are not sure, 32 percent said he should not be voted out of office.

# 36 percent of Republicans believe Obama was not born in the United States, 22 percent are not sure, 42 percent think he is a natural citizen.

# 31 percent of Republicans believe Obama is a “Racist who hates White people” — the description once adopted by Fox News’s Glenn Beck. 33 percent were not sure, and 36 percent said he was not a racist.

# 63 percent of Republicans think Obama is a socialist, 16 percent are not sure, 21 percent say he is not

# 24 percent of Republicans believe Obama wants “the terrorists to win,” 33 percent aren’t sure, 43 percent said he did not want the terrorist to win.

# 21 percent of Republicans believe ACORN stole the 2008 election, 55 percent are not sure, 24 percent said the community organizing group did not steal the election.

# 23 percent of Republicans believe that their state should secede from the United States, 19 percent aren’t sure, 58 percent said no.

# 53 percent of Republicans said they believe Sarah Palin is more qualified to be president than Obama.

Majorities - sometimes vast majorities - of Republicans believe, or are not sure (too embarrassed to say so, knowing how ridiculous it makes them look?), that Obama wasn’t born here, that he’s a racist, that think he’s a socialist, that believe he wants the terrorists to win, that believe ACORN stole the 2008 election, and think that Sarah Palin is more qualified than Obama to be president.

One bring spot; Only 42% of Republicans believe, or aren’t sure, if their state should secede from the union. That’s a relief, although think of all the flag making companies who would experience a boom if we dropped a few states and had to order millions of new star spangled banners.

Republicans and conservatives will be angry at me for highlighting this poll. Methinks they are misdirecting their rage. Perhaps they should try being angry at themselves and their fellow lobotomized inmates for eschewing reality and allowing their worst impulses to take over their thought processes, sending them headlong into the dark without lamp or lantern where they lose themselves in their own paranoid imaginings.

To make things even more depressing, they will come here and defend their beliefs. Not so many birthers anymore (after all, they only want to see Obama’s real birth certificate). But they will write volumes about how Obama really is a racist, or a socialist, or how his policies are designed to destroy the country, or saddest of all, how his sympathies lie with the enemy in our War on Terror.

Hofstadter found this recurring theme of self justification for paranoid beliefs back in 1964:

A final characteristic of the paranoid style is related to the quality of its pedantry. One of the impressive things about paranoid literature is the contrast between its fantasied conclusions and the almost touching concern with factuality it invariably shows. It produces heroic strivings for evidence to prove that the unbelievable is the only thing that can be believed. Of course, there are highbrow, lowbrow, and middlebrow paranoids, as there are likely to be in any political tendency. But respectable paranoid literature not only starts from certain moral commitments that can indeed be justified but also carefully and all but obsessively accumulates :evidence.” The difference between this “evidence” and that commonly employed by others is that it seems less a means of entering into normal political controversy than a means of warding off the profane intrusion of the secular political world. The paranoid seems to have little expectation of actually convincing a hostile world, but he can accumulate evidence in order to protect his cherished convictions from it.

Anyone who has spent 5 minutes reading a birther screed recognizes this instantly. The same can be said for many who write about Obama’s socialism (fascism), or his secret Muslim sympathies. They will lay out their irrational case as rationally as you please, using “evidence” of questionable provenance (usually some other fellow conspirator’s writings). The point is not so much to convince you they are right, but to reinforce their own beliefs, their own worldview. So armed, they will try to enter into discussion with those a little less beholden to their paranoid universe and either meet with laughter or a less than charitable dismissal of their cockeyed beliefs. Rather then deterring them, it reinforces their belief that they have a corner on wisdom; that only they can see through the smooth talking, seemingly normal enemy and peg him for the true villain he is.

Before I leave this subject, might I suggest that Kos and Research 2000 conduct a similar poll of self described Democrats asking questions about Bush; Did he perpetrate 9/11? Was he seeking dictatorial powers? Did he take us to war for oil? Did he want black people to die after Katrina? Or how about questions about the GOP: Are a majority of Republicans racists? Homophobes? Are they warmongers?

I could think of half dozen more questions that I have absolutely no doubt would reveal a large - perhaps as large as the percentage of Republicans who believe loony stuff - who would answer “yes” or “not sure” to those questions. And that presents us with a problem, doesn’t it? If a majority of both parties aren’t grounded in reality, how can we expect the people they elect to be any better at grasping the truth about the opposition? If a majority of both sides are paranoid about the other, there really is very little hope that we can ever come together to get anything vital done.

And that should cause the rational among us to fear the future.

By: Rick Moran at 12:08 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (48)

12/1/2009
CHARLES JOHNSON’S WORLD

If you haven’t seen it yet, you should go over to Little Green Footballs and read this J’accuse post by Charles Johnson where he briefly lists some of the reasons why he has now, officially “parted ways” with the right.

Irony abounds for me in this situation. The fact is, Johnson and I are in lockstep agreement when it comes to many of our criticisms of the right. We both despise the cotton candy conservatism of Beck, Limbaugh, and Coulter et. al. that is occasionally tinged with sniffs of bigotry. We both bemoan the paranoid conspiracies - birthers, and other theories about Obama - that have risen up to inject some of their sickness into mainstream conservatism.

We both see an anti-science, anti-intellectual undercurrent in some of the critiques of liberalism employed by the base, including an inexplicable denial of Darwinism, and a “the science is settled” argument toward global climate change (the science is wrong and the whole thing is a conspiracy). And we both agree that the anarcho-conservatism expressed by many on the right is unrealistic and dangerously wrong.

Therefore, having established my bona fides, I can say flat out that Charles Johnson, in his wildly exaggerated, hyperbolic, injudicious, ad hominem, unreasonable, and illogical attacks on the right, has abandoned any claim to prudent analysis and temperate understanding, and has instead, joined the ranks of those on the right and left who don’t deserve to be taken seriously by anyone with half a brain.

To wit: (”Why I Parted Ways with the Right:)

1. Support for fascists, both in America (see: Pat Buchanan, Robert Stacy McCain, etc.) and in Europe (see: Vlaams Belang, BNP, SIOE, Pat Buchanan, etc.)

Johnson’s use of the epithet “fascist” shows that he is ignorant of the history, the philosophy (such as it was), and the tenets of that odious ideology. He is as ignorant as the brain dead lefties who employed the smear against Bush and the moronic righties who use it to describe Obama.

Using the term immediately identifies one as an excessively ideological partisan. He condemns the entire right for the wayward beliefs of a few. There is hardly a mainstream conservative blog that has not skewered Buchanan at one time or another for his stupidity and bigotry. And the tenuous connections Johnson has sought to draw to the genuine article in Europe - neo-Fascists - is laughable. Six degrees of separation does not “connect” American conservatives to those putrid personalities and parties in Europe except in the overactive, fevered, and unbalanced imagination of Johnson.

2. Support for bigotry, hatred, and white supremacism (see: Pat Buchanan, Ann Coulter, Robert Stacy McCain, Lew Rockwell, etc.)

If you are going to accuse someone of “hatred” or “white supremacism,” I suggest you take proving those charges very seriously. Johnson doesn’t and never has. In the case of McCain, he has quoted extensively from some of McCain’s postings around the internet through the years. The problem is that many of those entries that he so proudly features were not left by McCain, and many of the quotes he uses to crucify RSM are not even his.

McCain is quirky. He can be insufferable. His constant self promotion can be wearing. But I have met and come to know this man and I can state categorically that there isn’t a racist bone in his body and anyone who says otherwise doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Not recognizing that McCain was targeted by professional smear merchants only shows Johnson’s unreasoning hatred of McCain to be the product of rank emotionalism and not rational analysis.

(McCain can, and has, defended himself. I don’t agree with some of his published writings, but I have an idea of how his mind works. It is an expansive, sometimes brilliant instrument that plays with concepts and ideas as a child plays with blocks. Seizing upon out of context ramblings by McCain is a cottage industry for some of his detractors and unfortunately, RSM is also afflicted with a naivete about how some of what he writes is perceived. He actually believes his honesty and perspicacity should be rewarded. Pity it isn’t.)

3. Support for throwing women back into the Dark Ages, and general religious fanaticism (see: Operation Rescue, anti-abortion groups, James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Tony Perkins, the entire religious right, etc.)

The numbers of conservatives who Johnson is talking about could hold a convention in a Marriott conference room. The mainstream right may be devout, but I hardly think the exaggerated term “fanaticism” applies to all but a very small percentage. And the charge that the religious right supports “throwing women back into the Dark Ages” does not deserve acknowledgment except that it reveals Johnson’s overweening, ideological partisanship. No rational critic would make such a charge. An irrational mountebank would.

4. Support for anti-science bad craziness (see: creationism, climate change denialism, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, James Inhofe, etc.)

Ooooh - “anti-science bad craziness?” Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the very deep thoughts of Charles Johnson.

5. Support for homophobic bigotry (see: Sarah Palin, Dobson, the entire religious right, etc.)

Is there really “support” for “homophobic bigotry” among mainstream conservatives? There is support for DOMA. There is support for an anti-gay marriage amendment. There is opposition to including gays as victims in current hate crime legislation. As I have laid out, while there is a conservative case to be made for gay marriage, there is a secular conservative case to be made against it. There are also perfectly legitimate legal arguments to be made against any hate crime statute.

At issue is whether a pressure lobby can dictate the parameters of what constitutes “bigotry.” The GLBT lobby constantly injects politics into this question, screaming “Bigot!” at anyone who fails to support their agenda. I happen to support equal rights for gays but denounce their politicization of gay marriage and their attempts to circumvent the will of the people by calling on the courts to adjudicate what is, at bottom, a political question.

Are there homophobes and bigots on the right? Yes there are. But Johnson, as he does constantly throughout his Zola-esque rant, inflates their numbers to justify his own, narrow, rigid, ideological reasons for abandoning his former allies.

6. Support for anti-government lunacy (see: tea parties, militias, Fox News, Glenn Beck, etc.)

Here, I have to agree with Johnson that there is a very large plurality of conservatives who not only distrust government, but despise it as well, and would like nothing better than to roll back both the New Deal and the Great Society to achieve “limited” national government.

(I do not include committed Federalists in this group who are much more serious minded in their approach to government and recognize many of its modern responsibilities.)

This anarcho-conservatism, where some kind of 19th century government is envisioned as the optimal solution to our problems, is a throwback to pre-Buckley days. It is unthinking, illogical, and oblivious to how the world has changed since the heyday of Robert Taft. Ultimately, it is a fearful kind of conservatism that can’t recognize or deal with change and seeks the safety of an idealized past.

But Johnson falls off the rails by lumping the “tea partyers” in with the anti-government zealots. Certainly, some in the Tea Party movement fit the description. But having observed several of their events, I was surprised at the restraint showed by most marchers, their very ordinariness giving weight to their protests. As an echo of the anti-war movement, I would say there are many telling parallels as far as the average American who felt strongly enough to commit to a cause.

7. Support for conspiracy theories and hate speech (see: Alex Jones, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Birthers, creationists, climate deniers, etc.)

Yes, in addition to the Birthers, there’s the “Obama is a Moooslim” crap, and “Obama wants to impoverish us all so that we become dependent on government” stupidity. But again, prove to me that this kind of thinking represents a majority of conservatives who are spouting this nonsense and I will gladly join in the cussing.

8. A right-wing blogosphere that is almost universally dominated by raging hate speech (see: Hot Air, Free Republic, Ace of Spades, etc.)

“Almost universally?” Heh - that’s something a freshman in high school might use in an essay. It’s either “universal” or not. Sorry Charles, back to English composition 101 for you.

As for the rest - not even worth commenting on. Simple sophistry.

9. Anti-Islamic bigotry that goes far beyond simply criticizing radical Islam, into support for fascism, violence, and genocide (see: Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, etc.)

This is something of which Johnson knows a lot about. I stopped visiting his site 4 years ago because of the nauseating, anti-Muslim bigotry spewing forth in his comments - cataloged many times by those on the left who are currently making him out to be some kind of honest conservative. And Johnson was their greatest enabler, if not inventing, then popularizing the denigrating mongram R.O.P. (Religion of Peace) to describe Islam.

How many pictures of Palestinian kids dressed in fatigues and armed with toy guns did Johnson publish, usually with the caption “ROP Child Abuse?” How many 7th century practices of Islam did Johnson mock on his website? How many times did he make fun of women dressed in the chador?

All of this enabled his legions of “Lizardoids,” many of whom felt no compunction in airing their out and out bigotry of Muslims. For Johnson to use this as a reason for “parting ways” with the right is the height of hypocrisy.

10. Hatred for President Obama that goes far beyond simply criticizing his policies, into racism, hate speech, and bizarre conspiracy theories (see: witch doctor pictures, tea parties, Birthers, Michelle Malkin, Fox News, World Net Daily, Newsmax, and every other right wing source)

How can you take anyone seriously who uses the phrase “every other right wing source” to describe “hatred” of President Obama among all conservatives? Kind of a broad brush you’re using there Charles. Would the Volohk Conspiracy be a hate site? The Belmont Club? Outside the Beltway? Betsy’s Page? Q & O? I could keep going down my favorites page and add a couple of dozen of the larger blogs who offer reasoned analysis, and, if not always respectful, certainly rational critiques of the Obama administration.

And I certainly hope you don’t cast you lot with liberals. The fact that the leftysphere mirrors the right in the number of blogs who express virulent, unreasoning hatred of their political opponents would put you in the awkward position of going from the frying pan into the fire.

As a final thought, I would ask how adult is it to throw a tantrum in public in order to bask in the approbation of your former opponents? I have no reason to question Johnson’s sincerity, just his emotional maturity. Why make an announcement at all except to garner attention like some two year old who throws himself on the floor when he doesn’t get ice cream for dessert? Why not allow your opinions to shine through during the normal course of your writing rather than playing the drama queen and inflicting your exaggerated, insipid ill-reasoned diatribe on the rest of us?

Only Johnson can answer that. And since it is evident that he has neither the temperament, or intellect to engage in any kind of introspective analysis that would reveal his reasons to his own conscience, we’ll probably never know.

By: Rick Moran at 10:45 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (37)