Yeah! What he said!

Steve Benen:

“There’s a clear and impermeable line between the progressive mainstream and the left fringe. The line between the Republican Party/conservative movement and the far-right fringe barely exists.”

Steve Benen, reflecting on Charles (Little Green Footballs) Johnson’s decision to walk away from a right wing increasingly infested with lunatics, and James Joyner’s refusal to follow Johnson:

There’s a clear and impermeable line between the progressive mainstream and the left fringe. The line between the Republican Party/conservative movement and the far-right fringe barely exists.

Whereas Dems kept the fringe at arm’s length, Republicans embrace the fringe with both arms. Both sides have nutjobs; only one side thinks their nutjobs are sane.

An example, just from today. When Barack Obama campaigned last year on increasing troop levels in Afghanistan, he got very little support from Republicans; nor had they complained about inadequate troop levels there during the Bush years. When Obama took office, there were fewer than 32,000 troops in Afghanistan. There are now more than 60,000. The President has just announced a decision to take that level to 100,000. And Republicans are complaining that the proposed level isn’t quite as high as the generals in theater asked for. (Worse, the press is reporting those complaints straight, rather than openly mocking them.) That sort of deficiency in basic reality-checking is not characteristic of a party ready to resume power.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

27 thoughts on “Yeah! What he said!”

  1. Charles Johnson is undoubtedly a lunatic, and as far as I can tell has always been. LGF was called a hate site by most on the left just a few years ago, and though that may have been overheated, I've always been embarrassed by LGF's popularity on the right. Which is to say, only one side so easily changes its views about the sanity of the other sides' nutjobs. Also, you're welcome to him and I think he'll fit in well.

    Benen is just talking out his ear. He says "Truthers don't have, and never have had, any meaningful role in progressive politics or the Democratic Party" but that's just not true. at least a quarter of the Democratic party are truthers, according to a recent survey, and that likely understates the level of support that existed 2 and 4 years ago. And Obama never took those folks on. He relied on their energy and their donations to help win election.

    When you say that Obama "got very little support" from Republicans for increasing troop levels in Afghanistan, but during the 2008 campaign you complained that McCain had essentially adopted Obama's position. Have you forgotten your view from last year? Or do the facts not matter?

  2. A while back, someone from Fire Dog Lake went around with a video camera asking Republican Members of Congress if they thought that President Obama was really a native-born US citizen. Only one was willing to say forthrightly that yes, he thought that Obama had been born in the United States, and that the foofaraw about his birth certificate was a distraction from more important things. Everyone else kind of hemmed and hawed and said the matter needed more research.

    If the 9/11 Truthers had the same influence over the Democratic Party as an institution that the Birthers have over the Republican Party, then the majority of Democratic Members of Congress, if asked whether 9/11 was a Bush Administration conspiracy, would refuse to answer with a forthright "no", and a minority would be all over talk shows and town meetings saying that yes, 9/11 was a Bush Administration conspiracy and al-Qaeda had nothing to do with it.

  3. It must have been a media conspiracy that suppressed all evidence of the grim day in 2003 when Bernie Sanders invited thousands of truthers to roam the halls of Capitol Hill with him and demand that republican members of congress justify their allegiance to a president who had ignored clear warnings of terrorist actions on US soil. Oh, wait.

    I'd love to see a link to that supposed poll data, too.

  4. During the campaign, my main objection to Hillary Clinton had nothing to do with her policies or with her personally, but my revulsion at the prospect of a revival of "Clinton Derangement Syndrome" on the right, where every action of the administration was parsed, taken out of context, and twisted in an effort to find something — anything — that could destroy the president and his agenda. (Bill "Depends on What the Definition of Is Is" Clinton often played right into the Republicans' hands, to be sure.) But I desperately wanted to avoid a repeat of that toxic political climate.

    I was right in foreseeing that as a likely result of Hillary Clinton's election in 2008. I was completely naive in failing to see that it would happen to Barack Obama too, with a dash of good ol' fashioned racism thrown in for good measure.


  5. One pleasing aspect of most of the right outside the US is that it draws a cordon sanitaire between itself and its nutjobs. (Austria and Israel are exceptions, with Japan a complex case.) Of course, your standard European conservative resembles a slightly more moralistic and less libertarian version of the center of the Democratic Party.

  6. The right wing in the US has already drawn a boundary between itself and the nutjobs. It's everybody right of the Democratic Party.

  7. Thomas says: "Or do the facts not matter?"

    Do facts (or the actual words written) matter to you?

    How does McCain by himself represent "a lot of support from Republicans."

    Or alternatively, how is McCain adopting Obama's position inconsistent with "very little support?"

    Citing a single Republican does not contradict the meaning of "very little support" nor offer up any evidence to rebut that claim. "Very little" means that some support existed; Kleiman never claims that "no" support existed, which is all your example would rebut.

    Your's is a straw man argument.

  8. David, the Republican party nominated McCain, and he was their standard-bearer during the general election. McCain supported additional troops for Afghanistan, as did the platform he ran on. I'm not sure what more the party could have done to support the proposal. (Should they have voted for Obama because he and McCain in Mark's view shared the same position? I suppose that might count, but one can't tell.) There's nothing anywhere to suggest that there were prominent Republicans against McCain on this point, is there? If there is, please share it with us. But if there isn't, well, you haven't helped Mark, have you?

    Seth, the parallel unfortunately isn't the same, and I don't think suggesting (wrongly) that Obama was born abroad is nearly the same thing as suggesting (wrongly) that Bush was in on the 9/11 attacks. One is a ridiculous and silly conspiracy theory and the other is a rancid attack on the very legitimacy of our federal government. (Can you tell which is which?) Given the prominence of the truther position in Democratic politics, it would seem to me that purely for the sake of good hygiene the Democrats would have attempted to chase the crazies from the party. But as far as I can tell that never happened. Obama never opposed them, and prominent political sites flirted with them. Given a choice between the embarrassing birthers and the disgusting truthers, why wouldn't one choose the merely embarrassing?

    paul, find it at I'm too busy to do your research.

  9. Snarky says:

    (re: Clinton Derangement Syndrome)

    "I was right in foreseeing that as a likely result of Hillary Clinton’s election in 2008. I was completely naive in failing to see that it would happen to Barack Obama too, with a dash of good ol’ fashioned racism thrown in for good measure."

    The guy who runs Media Wh*res Online repeatedly made a point, from 2000 or before. Summing it up: It wasn't Clinton, it wasn't Gore, it wasn't Kerry. It was *any* Democratic candidate, then now and for the forseeable future.

    IMHO, they tried it, it worked, and they'll keep doing it. Conceding a liar's lies just results in more lies.

  10. Thomas says:

    "Charles Johnson is undoubtedly a lunatic, and as far as I can tell has always been. "

    Again, I don't remember the right saying so earlier.

  11. Yeah, remember these are people who think the New York Times represents the radical left.

    My thinking has been thus for a while now: Modern conservatism is about as far to the right as communism is on the left. To communists, all business is bad; To modern conservatives, all government is bad.

    What's fascinating is how we got here. Where did the intellectual right go? Did they sell their soul for populism? Did a sort of fuzzy, emotional relativism get the people to follow – but then turn on the Svengalis in a sort of headless blood lust?

    I'm wondering where the Christian right is in all this? I thought it was kind of ironic when the Stupac amendment ended up showing that the quickest way to outlawing abortion might just be through a single-payer system. I know there are two misaligned sides to the modern conservative coin, with Jesus on one side, and Ayn Rand on the other – a match certainly headed for trouble. But what gives?

    And now with Obama escalating the conflict in Afghanistan, the Democrats have a liberal president who believes in using military force preemptively – at least in as Al Queda doesn't seem to have any active training camps in Afghan territory.

    The Democrats are firmly planted in the center, while the Republicans seem incredibly off-kilter.

  12. To be fair to Thomas, Brendan Nyhan had a poll with a question seeming to show lots of Dems have Truther tendencies (other polls often asked whether W shoulda known, did enough, lied about 9/11, etc).

  13. Still, I suspect all polls that claim lots of people are nutjobs. The important difference is that no important Ds succor Truthers; nearly all major Rs encourage Deathers, & too few confront Birthers.

  14. What are we supposed to confront the Birthers about? They might not have a good case about Obama not being a natural born citizen, but given that pesky clause in the Constitution, they're certainly entitled to demand formal proof of it.

    What troubles me about the Birthers is that we don't require that formal proof up front, that there's no mechanism in place to make sure that candidates for President actually meet the constitutional qualifications for the job, and the courts won't admit Americans have standing to demand that their own Constitution be followed.

    Honestly? I think if there were, McCain couldn't have gotten on the ballot. And that's fine by me.

  15. "given that pesky clause in the Constitution, they’re certainly entitled to demand formal proof of it."

    Not to be technical, but as it happens, the clause does not make it clear what the standard of proof is or with whom the burden of proof lies. So it is not clear that anyone is "entitled" to any form of proof.

    Happily, though, we may safely and dispositively conjecture that the constitution does not impose a burden on presidential candidates to prove their natural-born citizenship beyond the unreasonable doubts of every wanton ignoramus.

  16. Brett,

    What form of proof is better than a birth certificate? Obama has produced his birth certificate, it shows he was born in Honolulu. The last time I checked, Hawaii had been a Territory of the United States since 1898 or so, and a State since 1960.

  17. You know something? When I want to prove I'm old enough for a driver's license, I don't present my birth certificate to the NYT, I present it to the DMV. That's why I said prove it formally.

  18. You're kind of making my point, to the extent I have one: He's got the damned birth certificate, would it kill him to have to wave it in front of a judge, instead of a newspaper reporter? Why is insisting on the former a sign of lunacy? Why NOT be suspicious if somebody who says they've got proof of something gets stubborn about NOT presenting it in a legal setting where they'd be at jeopardy if it were fake?

    The Birthers are irrational, but they're not all THAT irrational, given that context.

  19. He's put it on the intertoobz, and the Secretary of the Department of Health for the State of Hawaii has said, "Yeah, that's it." What more could any reasonable person ask for? There is no statutory mandate to present proof of native birth to anyone. I'm sure that if a judge were interested, his counsel would provide a sealed copy of the thing. But you don't just waltz in front of some randomly chosen judge and say, "Hey, yuronner, here's my birth cert!"

  20. Hey, I did donuts in the parking lot, and put it on youtube; Why should I bother going to the DMV?

  21. Thomas: "There’s nothing anywhere to suggest that there were prominent Republicans against McCain on this point, is there? If there is, please share it with us."

    I don't have to. You chose to contradict Kleiman with a single example. Merely pointing to the absence of disagreement doesn't show support, which is an active condition, not a passive one. Additionally, I see no link to any GOP platform supporting more troops in Afghanistan, much less showing support for Obama himself – Mark stated that Obama received little support for his plan, not that the notion in general had little support. Indeed, the only GOP platform I can find on the web is one from 2008 and a statement that a new one won't be drafted until 2012, which indicates that McCain could not have inserted anything regarding more troops in Afghanistan into the then-current (2008 version) GOP platform. I am, however, quite willing to peruse any 2009 platform you can find posted on the web for contrary information.

  22. "Why is insisting on the former a sign of lunacy?"

    Because if a judge viewed it and gave it a pass, that could only (in the minds of these shale-brained, broken-souled creatures) be a sign that the judge was in on the conspiracy too. Because, as any non-moron can see upon minimal reflection, there is no end to the unreasonable demands for proof that could be registered.

  23. See, that's the problem, that perpetuates conspiracy theories: So often they're regarded with such contempt that even perfectly reasonable requests for proof are dismissed as unreasonable.

    The guy is going to be President of the USA, the constitution of which requires him to be a natural born citizen, and you don't think it reasonable that he formally prove said status, rather than convincing a reporter? That almost trivial exertion is "unreasonable"?

  24. Like Barry Said: "Brett, you’re just making our point – people like you *are* the core of the GOP."

    I won't even dignify your argument with a response. This is exactly the sort of fuzzy relativism I was talking about – pick any of the other inane modern conservative memes about Obama and it's the same. Absolute shit is being given serious consideration.

  25. Especially as Brett has a history here, and on other blogs.

    One of the big mistakes that I think that liberals made during the Clinton administration was dignifying these liars with any credibility. Tell them

    to STFU, and consider them dead to reason and honesty.

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