Paranoia and the Parties

Yesterday I discussed an article which notes that Democrats are heavily influenced by moderates and even conservatives while the Republican Party is dominated by the extremes. This has been a common observation made by many political observers. George Packer recently expressed similar views, noting the paranoia often seen from the right. Packer was criticized by Jonah Goldberg who cited what might be comparable degrees of paranoia from some on the left.  Packer responded, pointing out the fact that those on the far left are outside the mainstream of the Democratic Party while the more paranoid views from the right are seen in mainstream conservative and Republican belief:P

There’s plenty of criticism of Klein, Moore, Nicholson Baker, and other paranoid stylists of the left in my book on Iraq, “The Assassins’ Gate.” I didn’t mention them in discussing Hofstadter and the current reaction to Obama for this reason: Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck have far more power in the Republican Party (it sometimes seems to include veto power) than Klein, Lee, and Moore have in the Democratic Party. The views of right-wing commentators in the grip of the paranoid style (Obama is a stealth radical, the Democrats are imposing socialism) are much closer to mainstream conservative and Republican belief than the views of their counterparts on the left (the levees in New Orleans were blown up by the government, the White House had something to do with 9/11) are to mainstream liberal and Democratic belief. The reasons are complex, but I would list these: the evangelical and occasionally messianic fervor that animates a part of the Republican base; the atmosphere of siege and the self-identification of conservatives as insurgents even when they monopolized political power; the influence of ideology over movement conservatives, and their deep hostility to compromise; the fact that modern conservatism has been a movement, which modern liberalism has not.

Non Marijuana Smokers For Legalization of Marijuana

Daniel Larison (via Andrew Sullivan) thinks that many proponents of marijuana are being counterproductive:

…it seems to me that legalization arguments will never gain much traction if advocates for it are constantly having to mention how they are not like the drug’s stereotypical users or regard the drug’s use as some grievous personal failing. Instead of coming across as a stronger argument, the standard “I’m in favor of legalization, and I’m the farthest thing in the world from a pot smoker!” argument ends up making the argument for legalization less compelling. This is because this kind of argument unintentionally reproduces the stigma against the drug and effectively endorses one of the key claims that supporters of criminalization make. While it is true that there are a great many practical and principled reasons why Americans of all stripes should oppose continued criminalization, for legalization to take hold as something more than a marginal issue that has the sympathies of more than relatively marginal political forces there would need to be a much larger constituency that regards criminalization as an intolerable imposition on one of their preferences.

A problem with this argument is that there really are plenty of us who do not smoke marijuana but who support legalization. This is largely for libertarian reasons of allowing others to make their own choices, even if different from the choices I have made. Nobody argues that all of us who support legalization of gay marriage must be gay. Similarly there is no reason that supporters of legalization of marijuana must be marijuana users.

There are also pragmatic reasons for opposing the drug war such as the increased violence it leads to and increased law enforcement costs. These are also reasons which those of us who don’t use marijuana could see as appealing reasons to support legalization.

I do concede that Larison does have a point. I’ve never felt compelled to preface a post supporting legalization of marijuana with the fact that I do not smoke marijuana (only mentioning it here as it is relevant to the discussion). Showing a need to stress this could be taken as stigmatization.

Sarah Palin Adviser’s Connections to Scientology

What is it about Sarah Palin that we keep finding stories associating her with such unusual groups? Previously I  noted how Sarah Palin said her run for governor of Alaska was aided by Pastor Muthee, who has experience in fighting demons. Palin was being far too modest. As a widely posted video demonstrated, Sarah Palin was also blessed to be free from witchcraft. It’s  been noted that Sarah Palin has had a Bircher publication on her desk. She’s also been associated with an Alaska separatist party through her husband.

Gawker has yet another strange association as they found that John Coale, who is advising Palin on a possible 2012 run, is a Scientologist. Coale had once tried to establish a Scientology Pac which would both solicit contributions from Scientologists and push the goals of Scientology.

These associations are certainly not the major reasons why I would oppose Sarah Palin for president, but the stories about her remain too irresistible to resist noting.

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