Conservatives Opposing Conservative Extremism

Considering how extreme and out of touch with reality portions of the conservative movement have become, it is always good to see conservatives who oppose these trends. There were two such examples today from Jon Henke and Bruce Bartlett.

Jon Henke quotes from The Boston Herald:

[T]he Web site says that the government is considering Nazi-like concentration camps for dissidents. Jerome Corsi, the author of “The Obama Nation,” an anti-Obama book, says that a proposal in Congress “appears designed to create the type of detention center that those concerned about use of the military in domestic affairs fear could be used as concentration camps for political dissidents, such as occurred in Nazi Germany.”

The article goes on to explain what was really proposed:

In truth, Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., has proposed a bill that would order the Homeland Security Department to prepare national emergency centers — to provide temporary housing and medical facilities in national emergencies such as hurricanes. The bill also would allow the centers to be used to train first responders, and for “other appropriate needs, as determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security.”

Henke responds by saying conservatives should disassociate themselves from WorldNetDaily:

In the 1960’s, William F. Buckley denounced the John Birch Society leadership for being “so far removed from common sense” and later said “We cannot allow the emblem of irresponsibility to attach to the conservative banner.”

The Birthers are the Birchers of our time, and WorldNetDaily is their pamphlet.  The Right has mostly ignored these embarrassing people and organizations, but some people and organizations inexplicably choose to support WND through advertising and email list rental or other collaboration.  For instance, I have been told that F.I.R.E (The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) – an otherwise respectable group that does important work – uses the WND email list.  They should stop.

No respectable organization should support the kind of fringe idiocy that WND peddles.  Those who do are not respectable.

I think it’s time to find out what conservative/libertarian organizations support WND through advertising, list rental or other commercial collaboration (email me if you know of any), and boycott any of those organizations that will not renounce any further support for WorldNetDaily.

Sounds like a good idea but it isn’t so simple to separate the kooks from the conservative establishment. Steve Benen points out one problem:

There is, however, a small catch. Henke argues that those who advertise on WorldNetDaily shouldn’t be considered “respectable,” and deserve to be boycotted. That’s an entirely defensible position, but the Republican National Committee is one of the entities that does business with WorldNetDaily. Indeed, they partnered on a mailing as recently as last week.

Many conservatives have already drifted away from the conservative movement and the Republican Party, such as former Reagan adviser Bruce Bartlett. Today he responded to a question as to why he has become so anti-Republican:

I think the party got seriously on the wrong track during the George W. Bush years, as I explained in my Impostor book. In my opinion, it no longer bears any resemblance to the party of Ronald Reagan. I still consider myself to be a Reaganite. But I don’t see any others anywhere in the GOP these days, which is why I consider myself to be an independent. Mindless partisanship has replaced principled conservatism. What passes for principle in the party these days is “what can we do to screw the Democrats today.” How else can you explain things like that insane op-ed Michael Steele had in the Washington Post on Monday?

I am not alone. When I talk to old timers from the Reagan years, many express the same concerns I have. But they all work for Republican-oriented think tanks like AEI and Hoover and don’t wish to be fired like I was from NCPA . Or they just don’t want to be bothered or lose friends. As a free agent I am able to say what they can’t or won’t say publicly.

I think the Republican Party is in the same boat the Democrats were in in the early eighties — dominated by extremists unable to see how badly their party was alienating moderates and independents. The party’s adults formed the Democratic Leadership Council to push the party back to the center and it was very successful. But there is no group like that for Republicans. That has left lunatics like Glenn Beck as the party’s de facto leaders. As long as that remains the case, I want nothing to do with the GOP.

I will know that the party is on the path to recovery when someone in a position of influence reaches out to former Republicans like me. We are the most likely group among independents to vote Republican. But I see no effort to do so. All I see is pandering to the party’s crazies like the birthers . In the short run that may be enough to pick up a few congressional seats next year, but I see no way a Republican can retake the White House for the foreseeable future. Both CBO and OMB are predicting better than 4% real growth in 2011 and 2012. If those numbers are even remotely correct Obama will have it in the bag. Also, Republicans have to find a way to win some minority votes because it is not viable as a whites-only party in presidential elections. That’s why I wrote my Wrong on Race book, which no one read.

Update: Besides writing the right wing nonsense quoted above, Jerome Corsi was a co-author of Unfit for Command which spread the false claims of the Swift Boat Liars against John Kerry during the 2004 election. Just as honorable conservatives should denounce the current insane writings of Corsi, honorable conservatives should have denounced his 2004 attacks on a war hero.

Of course few did. As much as some conservatives would like to dissociate themselves from this type of thought, this type of baseless attack now forms the heart of the conservative movement. Take away their hatred, paranoia,  and shared delusions and there is not much left of the current conservative movement. People like Henke and Bartlett have an uphill battle if they want to return the conservative movement to being a reality-based philosophy.

Carrie Prejean Seeking Legal Action Against Miss California USA Pageant

Big Hollywood reports that Carrie Prejean, who was stripped of her crown as Miss California USA, is seeking legal action:

Carrie Prejean’s attorney, Charles S. LiMandri announced today that the former Miss California USA is filing a complaint in the Superior Court of California against Miss California USA officials Keith Lewis and Shanna Moakler, and publicist Roger Neal.  The complaint cites damages to Miss Prejean including libel, public disclosure of private facts, religious discrimination, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Miss Prejean was fired from her role as Miss California USA in June of this year, following several months of controversy over her answer at the Miss USA pageant regarding same-sex marriage. Lewis claimed Miss Prejean’s termination was due to a violation of contract.  Miss Prejean’s complaint will refute that allegation, and demonstrate that both the chronology and factual evidence clearly show she lived up to all her contractual obligations, but was fired, harassed and publicly attacked solely due to her religious beliefs.

Charles S. LiMandri, attorney for Miss Prejean, released the following statement regarding the complaint:

“Over the past two months we have worked hard to provide overwhelming evidence that Carrie Prejean did not violate her contract with Miss California USA and did not deserve to have her title revoked by Keith Lewis.  We will make the case that her title was taken from her solely because of her support of traditional marriage. Keith Lewis has refused to clear her good name or even to admit any wrongdoing.  Therefore, Carrie Prejean is left with no alternative but to take her case to court where she expects to be fully vindicated.”

Looking back at the incident it appears that the pageant had no problem with her statement on gay marriage and Donald Trump defended her right to the title at the time. She was not stripped of the crown until later when complaints were made that she was failing to make appearances she was contractually obligated to attend.

Update: TMZ has this response from a representative of pageant official Shanna Moakler:

A rep for Moakler tells TMZ: “Ms. Moakler has not yet been served with Carrie Prejean’s lawsuit. However, on Ms. Moakler’s behalf, I can say unequivocally that Ms. Prejean’s lawsuit is without merit. More importantly, as everyone who watched or read her public statements is well aware, Ms. Prejean’s unfortunate and bigoted statements are responsible for any public humiliation or damages to her reputation that she has claimed to have suffered. Ms. Moakler strenuously denies that she did anything wrong and looks forward to proving that in a court of law.”

Donald Trump is not named in the suit.

Decriminalization of Drugs in Portugal

The Economist reports that decriminalization of drugs in Portugal has had benefits and no harmful side effects:

IN 2001 newspapers around the world carried graphic reports of addicts injecting heroin in the grimy streets of a Lisbon slum. The place was dubbed Europe’s “most shameful neighbourhood” and its “worst drugs ghetto”. The Times helpfully managed to find a young British backpacker sprawled comatose on a corner. This lurid coverage was prompted by a government decision to decriminalise the personal use and possession of all drugs, including heroin and cocaine. The police were told not to arrest anyone found taking any kind of drug.

This “ultraliberal legislation”, said the foreign media, had set alarm bells ringing across Europe. The Portuguese were said to be fearful that holiday resorts would become dumping-grounds for drug tourists. Some conservative politicians denounced the decriminalisation as “pure lunacy”. Plane-loads of foreign students would head for the Algarve to smoke marijuana, predicted Paulo Portas, leader of the People’s Party. Portugal, he said, was offering “sun, beaches and any drug you like.”

Yet after all the furore, the drug law was largely forgotten by the international and Portuguese press—until earlier this year, when the Cato Institute, a libertarian American think-tank, published a study of the new policy by a lawyer, Glenn Greenwald.* In contrast to the dire consequences that critics predicted, he concluded that “none of the nightmare scenarios” initially painted, “from rampant increases in drug usage among the young to the transformation of Lisbon into a haven for ‘drug tourists’, has occurred.”

Mr Greenwald claims that the data show that “decriminalisation has had no adverse effect on drug usage rates in Portugal”, which “in numerous categories are now among the lowest in the European Union”. This came after some rises in the 1990s, before decriminalisation. The figures reveal little evidence of drug tourism: 95% of those cited for drug misdemeanours since 2001 have been Portuguese. The level of drug trafficking, measured by numbers convicted, has also declined. And the incidence of other drug-related problems, including sexually transmitted diseases and deaths from drug overdoses, has “decreased dramatically”.

SciFi Weekend: Hot Vampire Sex; SciFi on 30 Rock and Other Shows; Dr. Who Interview; Summer Glau on Dollhouse

The second season of True Blood is approaching its finale. Help is needed to defeat Maryann and they turn to the Vampire Queen of Louisiana. Reportedly this means more hot vampire sex–in this case between Queen Sophie and Sookie’s cousin, Hadley Hale (Lindsey Haun). Ausiello has additional spoilers about the season finale.

True Blood has been a success due to excellent writing, interesting characters, a compelling plot, and a lot of nude scenes with Anna Paquin. She discussed this in an interview with Nylon:

Anna Paquin, on her Nude Scenes:
“I don’t think a naked body is particularly shocking or interesting… It’s not the culture I was raised in.  I was not brought up in the United States.  I don’t share the [attitude] that you can have graphic violence, but – God forbid – you see someone’s nipples.”

On Going Blonde for Sookie:
“I don’t look like a Barbie doll, and probably never will.  People are incredibly literal in how they view you.  You have dark hair and pale skin?  You must be brooding.  The second you dye your hair blonde and get a spray tan, people treat you as if you’re a bit stupider and happier.  Suddenly, it’s like you’re hot and sexy.”

On TV Acting:
“It never occurred to me that one form of acting was better than another.  I think if you approach your career like that you’re limiting yourself to a very boring path.  For me, it’s about the material.”

Epilogue:  Stephen Moyer, on Vampire Sex:
“The thing about vampirism is that it taps into a female point of view – you have an old-fashioned gentleman with manners who is a fucking killer… it’s an interesting duality, because in our present society it would be an odd thing for a woman to say, ‘I want my man to be physical with me.’ How, as a modern man, can you fucking work that?  It’s one thing to be polite and gentle… But when do you know it’s OK to crawl out of the mud and rape her [as Bill does in one scene]?… It’s difficult stuff for a bloke, but a vampire gets away with it…. I think that’s the attraction of the show – it’s looking back at a romantic time when men were men, but they were still charming.”

Liz Lemon doesn’t do any nude scenes on 30 Rock, but she has frequently brought science fiction into the show. Io9 has put together a clip with the scifi scenes from the show. The post also includes scifi clips from other television shows including Veronica Mars, The Big Bang Theory, The Office and How I Met Your Mother.

IO9 Has also put out their list of The Top 100 Science Fiction/Fantasy Shows of All Time. The original Star Trek tops the list. Doctor Who is runner up.

BoingBoing interviewed David Tennant and Russel T. Davies following the filming of their last episode of Doctor Who together–video above.

Stills are being released from the second season of Dollhouse, with an example above. As expected, now that Summer Glau is available, she will have a recurring role in the show, along with a couple of actors from Battlestar Galactica. From the press release:

Summer Glau (“Firefly,” “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles”) reunites with Joss Whedon when the actress joins the cast of DOLLHOUSE this fall in a recurring role as BENNETT, a Dollhouse employee who shares a past with ECHO (Eliza Dushku). The second season of DOLLHOUSE premieres Friday, Sept. 25 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.

Additional guest stars appearing throughout the upcoming second season include Alexis Denisof (“Angel”), Jamie Bamber (“Battlestar Galactica”), Michael Hogan (“Battlestar Galactica”) and Keith Carradine (“Dexter”). DANIEL PERRIN (Denisof) is a U.S. senator leading a witch hunt to track down the underground organization. Mysterious, charismatic businessman MARTIN KLAR (Bamber) is Echo’s new husband. BRADLEY KARRENS (Hogan) comes to the Dollhouse hoping to stop a psychotic family member’s killing spree, while MATTHEW HARDING (Carradine), a nemesis of Dollhouse leader ADELLE DEWITT (Olivia Williams), stirs up trouble. Additionally, DR. CLAIRE SAUNDERS/WHISKEY (Amy Acker) and MADELINE/NOVEMBER (Miracle Laurie) return this season in multiple-episode arcs.

Conservative Hysteria and Ted Kennedy’s Legacy

It never ceases to amaze me how conservatives can get so worked up about nonsense while ignoring real problems (ranging from a president who lied the country into a war to the state of our health care system). Perhaps keeping their readers occupied with outrage over invented issues helps to keep them from considering the real issues. The latest is a bizarre outrage over Democrats, and now members of Kennedy’s family, calling on people to carry on with one of Kennedy’s greatest goals in life. It would seem to be a rather obvious way in which to honor Kennedy’s legacy.

Once they get over this they can get back to complaining about the type of mustard Obama uses, claiming Obama is a Muslim and not an American citizen, or warning about fluoride in the water.

The Media and Misinformation on Health Care Reform

Earlier today Steve Benen noted that the Republicans faced what would seem an impossible task in defending the status quo in health care, concluding:

They’ve pulled it off, so far, by telling almost comically-ridiculous lies, and managing to get scared, gullible people to believe them. It’s no small feat. Indeed, it’s almost impressive. Conservatives have managed to create a debate out of nothing but partisanship, paranoia, and greed.

A little later, even if this wasn’t his intent, he provided one answer as to how they are pulling this off by quoting the ombudsman from The Washington Post:

The Post publishes health-care reform stories almost every day as it tracks the twists and turns of the epic debate. So it’s surprising to hear from so many readers who ask: Why hasn’t The Post explained what this is all about?

“Your paper’s coverage continues in the ‘horse race’ mode,” complained Bill Byrd of Falls Church. “Who’s up, who’s down . . . political spin, personal political attacks…

However, readers say that too many other stories have been about process or politics. That’s coverage The Post must own, of course. Washington is filled with policy wonks and decision-makers.

But readers seem to be saying: What about the rest of us? Over the past month, dozens have called or e-mailed to urge more explanatory journalism.

Many have said that Post stories routinely assume a foundation of knowledge that they simply don’t have. Some said that they don’t understand basic terms like “public option” or “single payer.” They want primers, not prognostications. And they’re craving stories on what it means for ordinary folks and their families.

In my examination of roughly 80 A-section stories on health-care reform since July 1, all but about a dozen focused on political maneuvering or protests. The Pew Foundation’s Project for Excellence in Journalism had a similar finding. Its recent month-long review of Post front pages found 72 percent of health-care stories were about politics, process or protests.

“The politics has been covered, but all of this is flying totally over the heads of people,” said Trudy Lieberman, a contributing editor to Columbia Journalism Review, who has been tracking coverage by The Post and other news organizations. “They have not known from Day One what this was about.”

When people do not understand the basic terminology used in discussing health care reform, and are unclear as to what is in the actual legislation, it makes it far easier for right wingers to spread their distortions. Instead of reading about the details of the legislation in the newspapers, they are hearing lies from a crazy lady writing on Facebook in Alaska and other right wingers.

Matthew Yglesias added:

This is, of course, the media’s characteristic flaw. The bulk of reporters and editors at major political media institutions have almost no understanding of substantive public policy issues. And they conjoin to their ignorance a kind of contempt for people who do understand them. Consequently, people who are interested in such matters tend to be driven out of the institutions in questions. Instead, you get a self-replicating cadre of self-congratulatory and shallow people who enjoy doing this kind of coverage while sneering at people who care about substance.

The bias toward process stories is not ideological in its intent, but it’s strongly ideological in its impact. Creating public confusion and ignorance while obscuring what’s really happening tends to favor elites versus people of modest means, it favors the status quo over change, it favors insiders over outsiders, and it favors narrow interests over the public interest.

This isn’t to say that there is no coverage of the facts of health care reform in the media. It is there if you look for it, and the actual legislation can be read on line. Unfortunately the facts are getting drowned out by the right wing noise machine. Perhaps if a larger percentage of news stories dealt with the facts of health care reform as opposed to process stories, often spending much of the time reporting without comment on the false claims of the right, newspaper readers would  be better informed as to the actual facts.

Latest Fact Checks on Conservative Lies About Health Care Reform

Conservatives have responded to the health care debate by putting out an endless stream of distortions, keeping the fact checkers quite busy. I’ve already linked to several and a couple new reports are out. has reviewed twenty-six lies in a e-mail being circulated about the House health care reform bill. They also found that the Health Care Bill of Rights for Seniors from the Republican Party includes many false and misleading claims. They had previously responded to conservative scare tactics about Medicare here.

It sort of makes one think that they don’t have any real arguments if they are forced to rely on so many distortions in all their attacks.

Barack Obama’s Eulogy For Ted Kennedy

Video of Barack Obama’s eulogy for Ted Kennedy above. Transcript is below the fold.


Debunking Health Care Myths

McSweeny’s debunks more health care myths. For example:


The Democratic health care reform proposal will not let you choose your own doctor.


You will have a wider-than-ever range of doctors to choose from! In order to accommodate 45 million new patients, the plan expands the definition of “doctor” from “medically licensed professional” to now also include:

• Morning radio DJs who have adopted the moniker

• Televised bullies (Phil, Laura)

• PhDs in any field, and “All But Dissertation” PhD candidates. Trust us, you will have no problem getting an appointment to see these master procrastinators.

• Soda creators (Pepper, Brown*)

– – – –


Obamacare™ will ration life-saving medicine away from the elderly and disabled via “Death Panels.”


While nothing can replicate the current mercy-driven system of rationing via “Private Insurer Form Letter,” the new proposal certainly does not consign end-of-life decisions to panels of faceless bureaucrats. Rather, they are taken up by exciting, glamorous “Celebrity Death Panels”™ (C-List minimum).

– – – –


People in Britain are deeply unhappy with their socialized medicine system, which ours will become.


People in Britain are deeply unhappy with everything. It is their only source of happiness.

– – – –


Universal health care will transform the United States into another Cuba/Canada/France/Venezuela/The Democratic Republic of the Congo.


A common misconception! It will, in fact, transform us into a Jamaica/Costa Rica/Amsterdam/Chad.

– – – –


If you do it standing up, you’ll have a boy.


The BHO-HMO offers full coverage for pre-, neo- and post-natal care, without regard to procreative positioning.

The myths discussed here aren’t really that much more absurd than those coming from the Republicans.

Sarah Palin One Year Later

It has now been a year since John McCain destroyed any chance of winning by picking a running mate who turned out to be totally ignorant of the issues and incapable of handling any government position beyond Mayor of Wasilla. Big Hollywood, the right wing blog which was established to counter what they see as left wing influence on culture, has a particularly absurd article from John Ziegler on Sarah Palin. I could go through it and point out all the ridiculous statements made but there is no need as Mudflats has done an excellent job of debunking it.

I’ll just point out one section. Perhaps the most absurd claim made by Ziegler was in comparing Palin to Obama:

That to the media if you are a young, good looking, charismatic,  non-white male without a long resume and  are a conservative running for Vice-President, you are an embarrassment to the country. But if you are a young, good-looking, charismatic, non-white male without a long resume and are a socialist running for President, you are the Second Coming.

Beyond the absurdity of calling Obama a socialist, Ziegler misses the tremendous differences between Obama and Palin. Mudflats mentions just a few:

Ah, now I see.  Their resumes are the same length.  The fact that one line says “Constitutional Law Professor” and the other says “Mayor of Wasilla” doesn’t matter.  President of the Harvard Law Review vs. Sportscaster?  They each take up one line, so let’s not quibble.  And actually if you add up Sarah Palin’s college career, it’s five lines on a resume because she went to five different schools.  Obama only went to two, so HA!  She’s more edjicated.