From the March 1 edition of CNN's American Morning:
A February 17 Politico article delved into conservatives' growing problems with the "extremist elements" of their movement and their attempts to capture the "energy" of the tea party movement and simultaneously eschew the bigotry and half-baked conspiracism that so often pop up among tea party acolytes. And, as the article points out, they're struggling to strike that balance -- the 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference "nixed a panel on Obama's citizenship," but nonetheless welcomed birthers into the fold. They also allowed the super-crazy John Birch Society to cosponsor the event.
But what struck me as interesting was that the article quotes RedState.com editor Erick Erickson on the need to purge "crazy" elements from the movement, noting that the right-wing blogger banned birthers and 9-11 truthers from his website:
The attempt "to clean up our own house," as Erick Erickson, founder of the influential conservative blog RedState, puts it, is necessary "because traditional press outlets have decided to spotlight these fringe elements that get attracted to the movement, and focus on them as if they're a large part of this tea party movement. And I don't think they are."
Erickson has advised new tea party organizers on how to avoid affiliations with extremists and this month banned birthers - conservatives who believe that Obama was not born in the United States and is, therefore, ineligible to be president - from his blog. (He has long blacklisted truthers, those who believe that the U.S. government was complicit in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks - a conspiracy theory with devotees across the political spectrum.)
"At some point, you have to use the word 'crazy,'" said Erickson.
That more than anything should indicate how deeply the conservative movement has been infected by its fringe -- Erick Erickson is now calling for "crazy" people to be shunned.
That's the same Erick Erickson who called retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter a "goat f--king child molester," who called two sitting U.S. senators "healthcare suicide bombers," who praised protesters for "tell[ing] Nancy Pelosi and the Congress to send Obama to a death panel" (before furiously backtracking), and attacked President Obama's Nobel Prize as "an affirmative action quota."
And while Erickson might ban birthers and truthers from his website, he has no problem opening it up to people who compare health care reform to the attack on Pearl Harbor, who bid recently deceased politicians "Good. F
There are two reasons why Erick Erickson is writing the list of banned extremists rather than having his name written on it. First, as noted above, the conservative movement has actively embraced and courted some of its fringier elements, thus making someone like Erickson seem more mainstream by comparison. Second, Erickson has received some thoroughly undeserved credibility from CNN, which frequently and inexplicably turns to him for false, hyper-partisan political commentary.
But such is the state of the modern conservative movement, in which the guy holding the guest list also wonders when it's time for people to "march down to their state legislator's house, pull him outside, and beat him to a bloody pulp."
From the February 28 edition of The Drudge Report:
In an article this morning on the state of health care reform, Anne Kornblut of the Washington Post noted that Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele referred to Thursday's health care summit as "a death panel for Obama-care," and helpfully offered a bit of context on what, exactly, a "death panel" is:
Death panels became part of the debate last summer, after prominent Republicans, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, claimed the government would set them up to decide who could live or die.
Seems to me that if you're going to go to the trouble of explaining why Steele used the phrase "death panel," you should also point out that there is no such thing as a "death panel" and that nothing of the sort has ever been proposed. It was invented out of whole cloth by Palin, and it was such an egregious fracture of the truth that PolitiFact deemed it the "Lie of the Year." The paper's own media critic even highlighted "death panels" as "a point where the media should say a politician is wrong," and the Post has reported in the past that "[t]here are no such 'death panels' mentioned in any of the House bills."
So why can't the Post now call this wildly false claim "false"?
Speaking at the NAACP Image Awards on February 26, former White House green jobs adviser Van Jones said to Fox News host Glenn Beck: "I see you, and I love you, brother. I love you, and you cannot do anything about it" (h/t ThinkProgress):
Beck responded to Jones via Twitter, writing: "I love you too,Glad [sic] to all live in one country.Will [sic] it be the founders [sic] country or the one you pushed when with storm?"
From the February 24 edition of United Stations Radio Networks' The Lou Dobbs Show:
DOBBS: And I'm going to say this, because I -- one of the things I don't think happens often enough in our society, in part because it doesn't happen so often that we have public figures who stand up, who put their, you know -- set their feet squarely forward and say, "This is nonsense. We have to be fact-based, we have to be rational, and this nonsense has to end." James Inhofe has been such a man over the past six, seven years. He sometimes stood absolutely alone and was demonized, vilified, ridiculed by the national media. He stands now in 2010 as a man utterly vindicated, and for whom I think everybody needs to, you know, extend a round of applause. Senator Inhofe, thank you very much for being with us today.
INHOFE: Thank you so much.
DOBBS: You got it. You take care. Now, you know, it's funny. The national media doesn't like to give credit where credit is due, because of the politics they can't -- the bias. But, I mean, really, this man at many junctures was absolutely singular, he was absolutely alone in resisting a wave of popular faddism, which was climate change and global warming. So I sincerely mean that. He deserves a great deal of both applause and respect for what he has done.
From a February 27 post by Frank Gaffney on BigGovernment.com:
In a post here Wednesday, under the headline "Can This Possibly Be True?," I called attention to a "new" logo being used by the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency (MDA) on the grounds that it bore a disconcerting resemblance to an amalgamation of the Obama campaign's logo and the symbols of Islam, the crescent and a single star. It turns out the answer is "no," it isn't true that the MDA's logo is exactly new or, apparently, that it reflects an Obama-directed redesign.
We have since learned that the logo has been used at the MDA website since at least October 2009. Matters are made more confusing by the fact that the agency continues to use its older shield-like logo for online and other purposes. The contract for a complete rebranding for MDA was let in 2007, during the Bush administration, although much of the work appears to have been done in 2008 in follow-on contracts during the presidential campaign in which the Obama logo was much in evidence.
It has also been observed that - rather than embracing the symbolic crescent and star, they could be interpreted as the targets of the intercepting swoosh in the MDA's latest logo. If so, the 2009 design would presumably be offensive to Islamists, rather than evidence of submission to them.
For these reasons, I am content to have the question posed in the last post be answered in the negative, and I regret any confusion caused by my suggesting otherwise.
From The New York Times' February 26 Beliefs column headlined "Defender of Waterboarding Hears From Critics":
There's nothing unusual about partisans of the Bush administration defending waterboarding as a useful form of "enhanced interrogation." Others will go even further, calling the technique "torture," but saying it may be a necessary evil. What is a bit unusual is the case being made by Marc A. Thiessen, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush.
In "Courting Disaster: How the C.I.A. Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama Is Inviting the Next Attack," Mr. Thiessen, a practicing Roman Catholic, says that waterboarding suspected terrorists was not only useful and desirable, but permitted by the teachings of the Catholic Church.
This does not square, to put it mildly, with the common understanding of Catholic teaching. In the past month, Catholic bloggers and writers from across the political spectrum have united to attack his views, and to defend their own: that waterboarding is torture, and that Roman Catholics are not supposed to do it.
The belief that waterboarding is morally or physically violent seems to unite all the writers who have criticized Mr. Thiessen, a group that includes the conservative blogger Conor Friedersdorf; Mark Shea, who edits the Web portal Catholic Exchange; and Joe Carter, who blogs for First Things, a magazine popular with conservative Catholics.
From the February 27 edition of Fox News' Bulls & Bears:
Ha! Not even the tech press escapes County Fair's all-seeing eye.
And actually, if you study your media misinformation, it was a tech outlet, Wired News, that first put the Al-Gore-invented-the-Internet meme into play. So it's kind of fitting that Gore again is at the center of this bout of bad journalism.
Here's the dreadful CNET headline, which has ricocheted around the right-wing blogosphere as a way to mock Gore. The bloggers used the item to show that even at liberal Apple, Gore was coming under fire for his supposedly bogus climate change push:
Al Gore a lightning rod at Apple shareholder meeting
Here's the only real proof of the lightning rod angle [emphasis added]:
At the first opportunity for audience participation just several minutes into the proceeding, a longtime and well-known Apple shareholder--some would say gadfly--who introduced himself as Shelton Ehrlich, stood at the microphone and urged against Gore's re-election to the board. Gore "has become a laughingstock. The glaciers have not melted," Ehrlich said, referring to Gore's views on global warming. "If his advice he gives to Apple is as faulty as his views on the environment then he doesn't need to be re-elected."
Another shareholder immediately got up to defend Gore and endorse his presence as an Apple director.
So, a single climate change denier took advantage of an open mic at a shareholder meeting to insult Gore, and CNET typed it up as news; as Gore being a "lightening rod."
Seems pretty weak.
UPDATED: From non-CNET news sources, you can learn that Ehrlich's attack on Gore was, in the man's own words, "politically motivated." You can also learn that he lashed out at Obama, calling him a socialist, and that Ehrlich rambled on about a criminal conspiracy Gore was involved in.
CNET left that part out, though.