Thursday, March 31, 2005

Krugman Taken Down

Numerous excellent bloggers have spoken their piece regarding this column by Paul Krugman of the New York Times where he says that danger religious extremists (Christians who vote for Republicans) wield great political influence and that liberal politicians live in a climate of fear because a former associate of Randall Terry (a clown pumped up by the media with no political power) killed an abortionist.

From what I've seen they best of the bunch include:

John Mark Reynolds
Kobayashi Maru
Right Wing Nut House

I find it disappointing that at least one liberal Christian blogger thinks this column was great.


  1. Sorry you are disappointed.

    But I find it interesting that neither you nor Dr. Reynolds even mention the fact that Judge Greer has received death threats and now has to have security. He has also been kicked out of his church.

    As for Randall Terry...the guy settled out of court for promoting violence against abortion clinics. Sounds like a swell guy!

    There definitely is an element of extremism in this country - on both sides. At this point, the conservative religious extremists do have more political power than the extremists on the left. Ward Churchill is shrugged off and ridiculed on the left (as he should be), yet Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson can say things like gays, the ACLU, and the abortionists were responsible for the attacks on 9/11 and they essentially get away with it.

    I didn't hear Liberty's Trustees holding any meetings to see whether the college should allow Falwell to remain at the school.

    You are also distorting Krugman's view when you (not Krugman) equate religious extremists with "Christians who vote for Republicans". Krugman never says anything close to that. There is a big difference between religious extremists and Christians.

  2. Dave,
    Do the people that threatened Judge Greer have any political power? Does Randall Terry? Krugman is either stupid (he thinks people like Terry have political power) or he thinks that Christians are extremists.

    Jerry Falwell isn't an professor who lied about basically everything - he helped found the school. If I remember correctly he also apologized for his statement fairly soon after he made it. Has Ward?

    Plus its easy to attack Falwell and Robertson - why not mention Christian organization that actually still have political power?

    You unfortunately can't see Krugman's point of view - he thinks preventing filibusters of conservative judges is the work of extremists. There is a difference between religious extremists and Christians but Krugman doesn't see it. He basically equates the religious right (which I take to mean Christians of conservative leanings) with extremists. That's his whole column.

    "But the big step by extremists will be an attempt to eliminate the filibuster, so that the courts can be packed with judges less committed to upholding the law than Mr. Greer."

    Extremists because they don't want judges like Anthony Kennedy who rely on international law for their rulings? Extremist because they don't want to violate their religious beliefs by dispensing something that might be abortifacient?

  3. Do the people that threatened Judge Greer have any political power? Does Randall Terry? Krugman is either stupid (he thinks people like Terry have political power) or he thinks that Christians are extremists.

    Actually, I think I disagree with you here. I don't know if they as individuals have power, but they as an organized coalition do - that is clear. That is why federal congress got involved.

    If I remember correctly he also apologized for his statement fairly soon after he made it.

    Actually Falwell still says that he stands behind what he said. He "apologized", but then said that they were still responsible for it happening.

    Do you not think that Falwell has any political power? I am honestly not sure...he is clearly still a "spokesman", but I am not sure how much power that he holds.

    By eliminating the filibuster, the "extremists" on the right want to ignore the constitutional framework of this country. Whether you like it or not, the filibuster is built into the system and it is well within the rights of the Democrats to use it.

    He basically equates the religious right (which I take to mean Christians of conservative leanings) with extremists.

    This is where we disagree. I think that the "Religious Right" is different than Christians with conservative leanings. The RR is an organized political machine with significant power, while Christians who lean conservative tend to much less "extreme". For example, when Time Mag released their 25 most influential evangelicals, almost all of them had signficant political power. But I believe that that group is very different than your every day Christian who leans to the right.

    I did not hear anyone complaining when the Republicans tried to use the filibuster for Clinton's nominees, and denied many of them hearings (from here):

    All this changed in 1996. Rather than openly challenge President Clinton's nominees on the floor, Republicans decided to deny them Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. Between 1996 and 2000, 20 of Bill Clinton's appeals-court nominees were denied hearings, including Elena Kagan, now dean of the Harvard Law School, and many other women and minorities. In 1999, Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch refused to hold hearings for almost six months on any of 16 circuit-court and 31 district-court nominations Clinton had sent up. Three appeals-court nominees who did manage to obtain a hearing in Clinton's second term were denied a committee vote, including Allen R. Snyder, a distinguished Washington lawyer, Clinton White House aide, and former Rehnquist law clerk, who drew lavish praise at his hearing -- but never got a committee vote. Some 45 district-court nominees were also denied hearings, and two more were afforded hearings but not a committee vote.

    Even votes that did occur were often delayed for months and even years. In late 1999, New Hampshire Republican Bob Smith blocked a vote on 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Richard Paez for months by putting an anonymous hold on the nomination. When Majority Leader Trent Lott could no longer preserve the hold, Smith and 13 other Republicans tried to mount a filibuster against the vote, but cloture was voted and Paez easily confirmed. It had been over four years since his nomination.

    Why is it any different now? Shouldn't the Democrats have the same abilities that the Republicans had during Clinton?

  4. Dave,
    What organized coalition is physically threatening Judge Greer? Congress didn't get involved because of extremists - they got involved because 1.) Many congressmen and women were disgusted by Terri's treatment 2.) Non-extremist organization were in favor of saving Terri and have political power.

    Falwell is a "spokesperson" in the same light that Rev. Sharpton is a "spokesperson." He definitely says some stupid things but I haven't seen him advocate violence.

    Where in the constitution does it say that you need 60 votes to appoint a judge? If people who don't like democrats obstructing the placement of qualified judges are extremists then more than 50% of the country is extremist including myself.

    Am I an extremist, Dave? Or is Krugman using "extremist" when that word especially when coupled with his rant about extremists assassinations is wholly illogical.

    So the extremists are right-leaning Christians with political power. OK. Is Dobson an extremist? What about Family Research Council? Or National Right to Life? Is that your organized political machine?

    Dems prevent Rep judges from being placed. Republican do the same to the Dems. Dems filibuster Reps judges (something that has never happened before) because they don't have control of the Senate. Are the Republicans "extremist" (a word Krugman linked to violence and assassinations) because they think they can stop the filibustering (something they've never done)?

    The obvious answer is no. It is plainly obvious that Krugman is out there - calling people extremist for wanting to stop filibusters and not wanting to prescribe possible abortifacients is sad and irresponsible.

  5. Democrats don't have the same abilities as the Republican did back then because they don't have control of the Senate. The Republicans were able to block some of Clintons appointees because the had control of the Senate. Democrats don't have control of the Senate so no they shouldn't have the same abilities as a party that has control of the Senate.

    Why isn't it well within the rights of the Republicans in the Senate to get rid of the filibuster for judicial appointments? Since when does advise and consent mean the ability to filibuster?

    Your only principle reason is that you prefer one party over the other.

  6. You are really good at distorting what people say.

    What organized coalition is physically threatening Judge Greer?

    I never said that there was an organized coalition threatening Greer (though we did see Tom Delay threaten "the men responsible" today). But I am saying that those threatening Judge Greer are part of the larger coalition that has political power.

    He definitely says some stupid things but I haven't seen him advocate violence.

    I didn't say that he did. But is an extremist. Extremism does have to equate with violence.

    Where in the constitution does it say that you need 60 votes to appoint a judge?

    I didn't say it did. What I said was that using the fillibuster was constitutional. The Republicans did attempt a fillibuster on a Clinton judge, but it did not work.

    From the same article I quoted above:

    When his tactics on the Paez and Marsha Berzon nominations (Berzon was filibustered along with Paez, more than two years after her nomination) were challenged, Smith responded with an impassioned floor speech in defense of the judicial filibuster: "Don't pontificate on the floor of the Senate and tell me that somehow I am violating the Constitution of the United States of America by blocking a judge or filibustering a judge that I don't think deserves to be on the circuit court ... . That is my responsibility. That is my advice and consent role, and I intend to exercise it."

    Did you read the article? The Republicans clearly supported using the fillibuster then. Now they are against it. And yes, the Dems were against it then, and for it now. Both sides are hyocritical about it. But the fact remains that the fillibuster is constitutional.

    Your only principle reason is that you prefer one party over the other.

    No, my reason is that it is constitutional, and that the same Republicans complaining about it now supported it in the 90's.

  7. Dave,
    I'm not saying you said those things - I'm pointing out that logic Krugman and you are using leads to those kind of statements.

    That's absolutely ridiculous to say that a few nutbags who threaten to physically kill Judge Greer are part of a larger coalition that has political power. Does that mean that some eco-terrorist who happens to be a member of the Sierra Club makes the Sierra Club into a extremist and violent organization?

    Extremism doesn't always have to equate with violence. That's an assertion with nothing to back it up. I could name numerous people who are liberal "extremists" (since that term is being used so loosely by yourself and Krugman- Michael Moore for example -) and then say watch out conservatives the liberal extremists are out to kill you. Its obviously ridiculous and completely illogical. Krugman took just one example of some individual nutjob conservatives threatening judge Greer and then associated that action with numerous political causes that have nothing to do with violence or that should be considered "extremist."

    You and Krugman have yet to show who the extremists who advocate violence are with political power. Or how its "extremist" to want get rid of the filibuster for judicial nominations or "extremist" to not want to prescribe a drug that may cause abortions. Do you still think that Krugman's column is great?

    Dave I read the article - did you?

    With the notable exceptions of the 1968 Fortas nomination and a failed Republican filibuster of H. Lee Sarokin in 1994, neither party filibustered the other's judicial nominations, and virtually all nominees received a hearing unless they were sent up after the presidential nominating conventions.

    The Republicans then denied hearings because they were in power - not a filibuster - later 14 Reps tried a filibuster and it failed.

    How many judges did the Dems successful filibuster in the last 2 years? More than 10? How does wanting to get rid of the filibuster make one an extremist - it might make them (the 14-some of whom aren't around) hypocritical but how does it make them extremists? Especially when Krugman associates that word with violence in his column?

    How is it unconstitutional to use Senate rules to get rid of the filibuster (which isn't even used in the way the framers intended) for judicial nominations?

    Can you please admit that wanting to stop an unprecedented use of the filibuster to stop judicial nominations is not extremist. Can you please admit that not wanting to dispense a drug that could be an abortifacient is not extremist. Can you admit that organizations like Focus on the Family, Family Research Council, and National Right to Life aren't extremist.

    What makes one an extremist? Political power and political goals that you don't like?

  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  9. You and Krugman have yet to show who the extremists who advocate violence are with political power.

    This is what Tom Delay said yesterday in regards to Terri Schiavo: The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior, but not today.

    Sounds to me like he is promoting or encouraging "justice". As I wrote on my blog, this kind fo statement gives a green light to the extremists, which in turn makes Delay accountable.

    I would agree with you that attempting to stop a fillibuster is not the work of an extremist, as long as they do it legally and consitutionally.

    What makes one an extremist? Political power and political goals that you don't like?

    Come say that I make jumps on things that you don't say. What is this?

    I think that I would define extremist really generally - one that is far outside mainstream America. When it becomes scary is when it spreads violence, hatred, racism, etc.

    Do you know the history of the Religious Right? Two of the key people of the early Religious Right were Pat Robertson and Pat Buchanen. They were/are both racist bigoted extremists who believe that whites are superior to minorities:

    Pat Robertson: "When I said during my presidential bid that I would only bring Christians and Jews into the government, I hit a firestorm. `What do you mean?' the media challenged me. `You're not going to bring atheists into the government? How dare you maintain that those who believe in the Judeo Christian values are better qualified to govern America than Hindus and Muslims?' My simple answer is, `Yes, they are.'"

    Pat Robertson: (talking about apartheid South Africa) "I think 'one man, one vote,' just unrestricted democracy, would not be wise. There needs to be some kind of protection for the minority which the white people represent now, a minority, and they need and have a right to demand a protection of their rights.

    Buchanan, urging President Nixon in an April 1969 memo not to visit "the Widow King" on the first anniversary of Martin
    Luther King's assassination, warning that a visit could "outrage many, many people who believe Dr. King was a fraud and a demagogue and perhaps worse.... Others consider him the Devil incarnate. Dr. King is one of the most divisive men in contemporary history."

    Buchanan: that "integration of
    blacks and whites -- but even more so, poor and well-to-do -- is less
    likely to result in accommodation than it is in perpetual friction, as the incapable are placed consciously by government side by side with the

    Randall Terry had direct conversations with Jeb Bush - that isn't political power? These people have more power than you give them credit for.

  10. Hey Dave,
    Though Delay used words that I would presonally try not to use - mainly because they can easily be taken out of context (he's probably referring to political elections or heavenly judgement but it could be taken to mean violence by nutjobs) - I don't see how this gives the greenlight to extremists to perpuate violence (I'm guessing you're referring to violent extremists).

    For example, is Dean somehow accountable if a leftist nutjob kills some Republican because of the "I hate republicans and everything they stand for." (paraphrase) I wouldn't say so - the leftist nutjob is accountable. Dean's remarks would probably be considered over the top by most but I don't think saying something that could be construed one way by a nutjob makes one accountable for the nutjobs actions. If Delay comes out and says "Kill Judge Greer!" that's a different story.

    Pat Robertson and Pat Buchanan have probably made a million statements I disagree with or think are stupid. And maybe they fit in your definition of extremist but they aren't advocating violence. That's what really bugs me about the Krugman column. He says that "dangerous extremists" wield "great political influence." These "extremists" are compared to murderous Muslim extremists in the Netherlands.

    He then goes on to list issues that I don't see as extremist at all - trying to save Terri, trying to stop filibusters of judicial nominations, and conscience laws so pharmacists aren't forced to prescribe a drug that may be abortafacient.

    So this seems to leave us with a couple of options regarding who the "dangerous extremists" who wield great political influence are.

    1.) They're conservative Christians who as a group and thru mainstream political groups have some (I guess you could even say great) political influence

    2.) They're nutjobs who want to kill judge greer and/or bomb abortion clinics who as a group have basically no political power.

    3.) Krugman sees these two groups as one and the same.

    Is there an alternative I'm missing?

    So from reading Krugman's piece - I'm left to wonder if I'm a dangerous extremist (or future dangerous extremist) in his eyes because my faith directs some of my political leanings which he disagrees with or if he believes people threatening to kill judge greer have political power. The first scenario makes Krugman a religious bigot. The second leaves me to wonder if he has the political knowledge to be writing political op-eds.

    I personally doubt that Jeb Bush is going to be greatly influenced by Randall Terry. I don't think a conversation(s) equates with influence. I think some right-leaning Christian organizations have influence but its because they have millions of right-leaning Christian supporters who give them money, vote with them, call politicians when there is an important issue for them, etc.

    I just don't see a Christian organization that is extremist, has great political power/influence and is anywhere near advocating violence.