Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Teh Stoopid: Salting the Earth

 Aravosis: Following GOP Rep. Foxx's lead, media conservatives compare health care reform to terrorism
From Media Matters:
On November 2, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) said on the House floor regarding health care legislation before the House: "I believe we have more to fear from the potential of that bill passing than we do from any terrorist right now in any country." Following Foxx's statement, Fox News' Glenn Beck compared health care reform to 9-11, and talk radio host Neal Boortz and the Fox Nation promoted Foxx's attack.
I've read conservative blogger Rick Moran periodically over the years, and while he's very conservative, I tend to think he's someone I could at least have a reasonable conversation with. His blog is called "Right Wing Nuthouse" -- which doesn't exactly scream "sensible moderation" -- but Moran's content isn't as unhinged as the name might suggest.
A post he had yesterday on "anti-reason conservatives" was especially interesting. Moran sees his fellow conservatives throwing a fit about the Republican Party, and desperately trying to drag it sharply to the far-right, and he seems to think they're making a terrible mistake.
What is it that possesses certain conservatives to fool themselves so spectacularly into believing that they can create a majority out of a minority?
That kind of alchemy hasn't been seen since Nostradamus tried to turn lead into gold. In the case of far right conservatives who think that they can turn their meager numbers into a ruling majority all by themselves, the disconnect from reality would normally call for an intervention -- except they reject anything from anybody who doesn't agree with them 100%. [...]
The recent Gallup poll showing that 40% of Americans see themselves as "conservative" was leapt upon by these morons as "proof" that their brand of anarcho-conservatism dominates the political landscape. Would that it were true. The fact that there are a dozen different definitions of "conservative" depending on where you live doesn't seem to penetrate. And the pogrom they wish to carry out against "moderates" who agree with them on 90% of the issues they hold dear but fail their ever more spastic "litmus tests" guarantees Democratic dominance for the foreseeable future.
To clarify, Moran doesn't seem to be arguing for a more moderate GOP. Rather, I get the sense that he's simply opposed to the coordinated purge of anyone who isn't entirely right-wing on everything from the Republican ranks.
Moran was especially troubled by an item that claimed the Republican Party "has been hijacked" by moderates, who have driven conservatives in the party "underground."
It's worth noting, of course, that many far-right observers apparently live in an alternate reality. As for Moran, he described the writer as evidence of "Anti-Reason Conservatives -- those who reject reality in favor of persecution complexes, wildly exaggerated hyperbole, and a frightening need for vengeance against their imagined 'enemies' -- despite the fact that those imagined foes agree with them on virtually everything they think they stand for."
For his trouble, Moran was, predictably, criticized by other conservative bloggers.
It'll be interesting to see just how common Moran's perspective is, or isn't, in conservative circles in the coming months. Those criticizing him imagine a scenario in which Republicans return to electoral dominance by making the party smaller, more right-wing, and more rigid and uncompromising. The True Believers will thrive, the argument goes, just as soon as the heretics are driven away.
I don't imagine Moran is alone in thinking the activist base is making a terrible mistake, but are there other conservative voices willing to take the heat and say so publicly?
John Cole: We’re All Moderates Now
I’m really loving this special election in NY. I’m sorry that those people are going to be represented by a Bachmann style wingnut, but hey- they voted for him, so they can just deal with it.
But what I find really amusing is that they are taking a win for the Republican in that district as a sign of a conservative resurgence, emboldening them to take their tea party on the road to savage other apostates and those insufficiently loyal to the ideology, when that district hasn’t elected anything BUT Republicans since the Civil War. Again, nothing but Republicans for 70 straight elections, and they are taking the 71st (or whatever it actually is) as a “sign.”
When you think about it, that is funnier than the birthers.
And what makes it extra special is that they will probably succeed in a few safe Republican districts, and primary out a couple of people and replace them with Glen Beck following religious nuts like Hoffman. I wonder if the short-sighted fools at Reason are proud of the monsters they helped create when they were pimping the teabaggers the last six months. I bet Hoffman has really enlightened views on marijuana, pornography, the justice system, and individuals rights. Well done, glibertarians!
I've long worried that some conservative, Blue Dog Democrats may want to see their party lose, as a way to strengthen their agenda and position on the Hill. One such Blue Dog reinforced those fears last night.
Centrist Blue Dog Democrats might see their position strengthened if Democrats suffer broader losses Tuesday, one Blue Dog member suggested.
Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.) argued that an election night rebuke for Democratic candidates across the nation could lead some in the party to rethink their plans on healthcare reform and other issues.
"It looks as though the anger that has been boiling up the last couple of months is going to lead to a pretty high turnout from Republicans and from people who are concerned about increased spending," Altmire said Monday evening during an appearance on Fox Business Network.
"And I do think that if the results show Republicans have a pretty good night, that probably is going to lead some Democrats to think that, going into next year, we need to take a second look at the way that we've done a lot of bills we've addressed up to this point," the Pennsylvania congressman added.
Altmire wasn't specific about "the way that we've done a lot of bills," which is a shame because I'd love to know what kind of changes he'd like to see to Democratic lawmaking.
The stimulus bill was made smaller as part of a compromise. The scaled-back health care bill is the result of a series of compromises. The climate bill has been subjected to a variety of compromises. Just about everything Democratic policymakers have done this year has been restrained.
Altmire wants his fellow Democrats to "take a second look" if Republican candidates do well in a few off-year races tonight. But what should they "take a second look" at, exactly? How to govern in a more Republican-friendly way? Is that why Altmire thinks the electorate gave Democrats huge majorities?
DougJ: What is a teabagger that thou art mindful of him? 
I have to admit that the teabagger candidate in NY-23 is polling better than I expected he would. Though, in retrospect, it makes a reasonable amount of sense: the teabag movement appeals largely to the old and the district is old. But I’m wondering if there’s even more to it. It’s my sense that the basic tenets of teabaggerism are:

  • Low taxes!
  • Small government!
  • Get off my lawn!
Conspicuously absent are
  • Jesus!
  • Fight the new Hitler!
In particular, the Dick Armey outfit FreedomWorks seems to be about promoting freedom (I guess from taxes and regulations) here as opposed to freedom (to be a quasi-western American puppet state) abroad. And they don’t seem to talk about Jesus much. Obviously, all kinds of crazy people showed up at the 9/12 festivities, mean of them Hitler-obsessed and heavy into Jesus. But some of that is just that, to paraphrase James Carville, if you drag a Fox News crew through a retirement home, there’s no telling what you’ll find.
I think that a Jesus-reduced, Hitler-reduced conservative message might work reasonably well in some parts of the country, including the rural northeast. It’s probably too anti-union to really work in New York State at large and too anti-immigrant to really work nationally, but if teabagging is traditional wingerism with more Rand and less religion, more Galt and less GWOT, it may end up less fringey that I originally thought.
In New York's 23rd, it was the Republican Party vs. the Republican Party's base. The party wanted a moderate candidate with a history of serving the community; the base wanted a right-wing newbie who didn't actually live in the district. The base won; the GOP candidate was forced out of the race; and the far-right Beck acolyte is poised to do very well today.
So, any chance the Tea Party crowd will feel satiated, content in knowing they proved their point? Fat chance.
In what could be a nightmare scenario for Republican Party officials, conservative activists are gearing up to challenge leading GOP candidates in more than a dozen key House and Senate races in 2010.
Conservatives and tea party activists had already set their sights on some of the GOP's top Senate recruits -- a list that includes Gov. Charlie Crist in Florida, former Rep. Rob Simmons in Connecticut and Rep. Mark Kirk in Illinois, among others.
But their success in Tuesday's upstate New York special election, where grass-roots efforts pushed GOP nominee Dede Scozzafava to drop out of the race and helped Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman surge into the lead on the eve of Election Day, has generated more money and enthusiasm than organizers ever imagined.
Activists predict a wave that could roll from California to Kentucky to New Hampshire and that could leave even some GOP incumbents -- Utah Sen. Bob Bennett is one -- facing unexpectedly fierce challenges from their right flank.
"I would say it's the tip of the spear," said Dick Armey, the former GOP House majority leader who now serves as chairman of FreedomWorks, an organization that has been closely aligned with the tea party movement. "We are the biggest source of energy in American politics today."
"What you're going to see," said Armey, "is moderates and conservatives across the country in primaries."
And there's not much party leaders can do about it.
After spectacular failures in 2006 and 2008, Republican officials resisted calls to move the party towards the middle, but they nevertheless recruited candidates intended to have fairly broad appeal. Now they're finding an enraged, uncompromising, right-wing base that will settle for nothing short of everything. If that means losing elections and driving moderates from the ranks, so be it.
For more moderate candidates, that means moving sharply to the right. For targeted GOP incumbents, it means less compromising, less constructive lawmaking, and more fealty to right-wing demands.
It's not enough to run a scorched-earth campaign against the governing majority -- Republican officials are now expected to salt the earth, too.

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