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”.