Lunatic Fringes That Aren’t So Fringe

Megan McArdle asserts that there are lunatic fringes on both sides of the aisle and her commenters go on to demonstrate the validity of that assertion.

I would take some exception, though, to her contention that “Ohio voting machine conspiracists” were “not anything like the mainstream of the Democratic party.”  I call your attention the Rolling Stone cover story “Was the 2004 Election Stolen?” by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. OT – James, you missed 09:09:09 09/09/09.

  2. mpw280 says:

    The problem is that the “press” only picks up on the rights lunatic fringe, not the lefts lunatic fringe. If you look at LGF lately all Charles has written about is the right nuts not anything about the appointment of a commie, cop killer sympathizer, truther to be a czar. The msm refused to even cover Van’s discretions yet they print anything they can dig up on a nirther. Funny how that works isn’t it? mpw

  3. ggr says:

    The problem is that the “press” only picks up on the rights lunatic fringe, not the lefts lunatic fringe.

    Most people know if anything too much about both truthers and birthers -and the JFK conspiracies, the ‘fake’ moonlanding conspiracies, and for that matter even the flat earth society.

    Democrats think the public only hears about left wing nuts, republicans think the public only hears about right wing nuts. Both agree that the public are sheep with almost zero intelligence who believe the last thing they read.

    And a good portion of the public – most of those who never bother to vote as well as many who hold their nose and vote for what they hope is the best of a very bad lot – think that both right wingers and left wingers are arrogant, patronizing, hypocritical idiots.

  4. Alex Knapp says:

    rpw,

    commie, cop killer sympathizer, truther to be a czar

    Do you have any evidence that Van Jones considers himself a communist? I have seen several people claim that he is a “self-admitted” Communist, but I have not seen the “admission” in question.

    Additionally, there is a substantial amount of evidence to the fact that Jones is not a “truther.”

    As for “sympathizing” with a cop killer, Jones believes that Mumia is innocent of the crime of which he is accused, so he can’t really be said to sympathize with the crime, can he? Now, it so happens that I think that the evidence suggests that Mumia is guilty of the crime he is accused of. However, I am not so convinced of this that I believe that a fellow citizen with a different opinion on the matter should not be allowed to hold public office.

  5. TangoMan says:

    Do you have any evidence that Van Jones considers himself a communist? I have seen several people claim that he is a “self-admitted” Communist, but I have not seen the “admission” in question.

    Google is your friend. Here you go.

    Here is the original source:

    Jones had planned to move to Washington, DC, and had already landed a job and an apartment there. But in jail, he said, “I met all these young radical people of color — I mean really radical, communists and anarchists. And it was, like, ‘This is what I need to be a part of.'” Although he already had a plane ticket, he decided to stay in San Francisco. “I spent the next ten years of my life working with a lot of those people I met in jail, trying to be a revolutionary.” In the months that followed, he let go of any lingering thoughts that he might fit in with the status quo. “I was a rowdy nationalist on April 28th, and then the verdicts came down on April 29th,” he said. “By August, I was a communist.”

    In 1994, the young activists formed a socialist collective, Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement, or STORM, which held study groups on the theories of Marx and Lenin and dreamed of a multiracial socialist utopia.

    Nothing like embracing an ideology responsible for the deaths of 100 million people. Even Obama’s mentor dreamed of sending 25 million Americans to the gulag. No big deal.

  6. TangoMan says:

    As for “sympathizing” with a cop killer, Jones believes that Mumia is innocent of the crime of which he is accused, so he can’t really be said to sympathize with the crime, can he?

    What kind of logic is this? Are all of those folks who believe the holocaust didn’t happen not kooks because they believe with sincerity that no crime was committed?

    The courts have ruled that Mumia killed cops. He’s a cop killer. After a verdict is reached the onus of proving innocence falls on the convict. In other words, he’s a convicted cop killer until he proves his innocence. Believing him to be innocent doesn’t negate his status as a cop killer. Jones, therefore, is sympathetic to a convicted cop killer.

  7. Steve Plunk says:

    Alex, What evidence can counter Van Jones signing a “truther” letter? Yale Law and couldn’t understand what it said?

    It the entire package that made Van Jones what he was. It’s indefensible that he was appointed to the position he held.

  8. Dave Schuler says:

    Now, it so happens that I think that the evidence suggests that Mumia is guilty of the crime he is accused of

    Alex, I think that’s a poor choice of words. Mumia wasn’t just accused. He was convicted beyond reasonable doubt.

    Now, let’s consider the words “beyond reasonable doubt” for a moment. Under the circumstances, remaining doubt as to Mumia’s guilt is, by definition, not reasonable.

    If you’re saying that Van Jones is unreasonable in believing in Mumia’s innocence, fair enough

    The question then becomes whether you think that the president should have unreasonable advisers?

  9. Alex Knapp says:

    TM,

    Thanks for the link. Anything more recent than Jones claiming he’s a Communist? Say within this decade? Or are we reaching back to the mid-90s? At any rate, re:

    Nothing like embracing an ideology responsible for the deaths of 100 million people.

    Just because you’re Catholic doesn’t mean you would have supported the Inquisition. Communism isn’t the same as Bolshevism or Maoism, necessarily.

    The courts have ruled that Mumia killed cops. He’s a cop killer. After a verdict is reached the onus of proving innocence falls on the convict. In other words, he’s a convicted cop killer until he proves his innocence. Believing him to be innocent doesn’t negate his status as a cop killer. Jones, therefore, is sympathetic to a convicted cop killer.

    Are you implying that the diktat of the state is the final work on the moral guilt of someone accused of a crime?

    Dave,

    Alex, I think that’s a poor choice of words. Mumia wasn’t just accused. He was convicted beyond reasonable doubt.

    Now, let’s consider the words “beyond reasonable doubt” for a moment. Under the circumstances, remaining doubt as to Mumia’s guilt is, by definition, not reasonable.

    If you’re saying that Van Jones is unreasonable in believing in Mumia’s innocence, fair enough

    There’s a difference between legal reasonability and actual reasonability. I think that the evidence is consistent with the idea that Mumia is guilty of murder. The fact that Jones doesn’t, though, doesn’t make him per se unreasonable. Believing someone’s claim of innocence is different than being a “cop killer sympathizer”, which implies that Jones agrees that Mumia was right in killing an officer.

    Steve,

    What evidence can counter Van Jones signing a “truther” letter? Yale Law and couldn’t understand what it said?

    See Charles Johnson on this here and here.

    The circulators of this petition apparently lied about what was going to be published, and apart from this document, there is no cooroborating evidence that Jones is a truther.

  10. sam says:

    Not to fear, Republicans, the GOP in Florida is purging itself of those it considers crazies:

    Republican Party of Florida Purges Outspoken Members

    Wait a minute, those aren’t crazies, they’re libertarians.

  11. odograph says:

    I think I’ve mentioned that I stopped going to Megan’s site because the followers were too weird.

    Sampling bias?

  12. odograph says:

    BTW, the problem with voting machines is that it’s another one with a kernel of fact or two that you can poll around:

    COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A major voting machine maker has notified its customers in 34 states that a programming error discovered during testing may cause votes to be dropped when they are uploaded to a computer server from the machines’ vote-holding memory cards.

  13. TangoMan says:

    Just because you’re Catholic doesn’t mean you would have supported the Inquisition. Communism isn’t the same as Bolshevism or Maoism, necessarily.

    So, you’d be completely understanding of a Nazi being an adviser to the President so long as he was not personally involved in any genocides. Right? The odiousness of belief is immaterial, it’s just the actions based on the beliefs that are worthy of condemnation. Right?

    Are you implying that the diktat of the state is the final work on the moral guilt of someone accused of a crime?

    No, Dave has made the point better than I have. Further, while the courts are an arm of the State, they are not synonymous with the State. The courts are seen, in this country as least, as more impartial and as neutral arbiters of fact, rather than as the enforcement arm of the Executive, which is why we so often see the judgments of the courts working against the interests of the Executive.

    What you’re doing is setting up an impossible threshold, in that you allow for nothing to be known with either certainty or high probability. Everything is thus open to question. Under this scheme of thought the genocide deniers, to take a far out example, can’t be ruled illegitimate because we’d have to accept the word of the historians and Jewish victims that a holocaust did happen. Every criticism that you could apply to the interests of the State working against Mumia can also be argued in the latter case.

    there is no cooroborating evidence that Jones is a truther.

    Except for that niggling inconvenient fact of having organized a Truther March in San Francisco. You know, actually taking the initiative to organize fellow truthers to march in public in support of truther issues.

    Alex, you claim that you’re not a leftist but you seem to buy into every prima facia talking point they put out. 1.) Communism ain’t so bad; 2.) His Communist beliefs are a whole 5 years in his past; 3.) What’s so wrong with having sympathy for a cop killer; 4.) The truthers lied about Van Jones; 5.) He had no other involvement with truthers; 6.) There is no overlap at all between communist beliefs and environmentalist beliefs.

    Instead of accepting their rationalizations at face value why don’t you investigate them. Instead of excusing a walking waste of skin why don’t you condemn him for his evil beliefs? Pick your fights. Just because Van Jones is a non-conservative doesn’t mean that you must automatically defend him, no matter how evil his view of the world.

  14. TangoMan says:

    Alex, this is called “moving the goalposts”:

    Do you have any evidence that Van Jones considers himself a communist?

    Evidence provided.

    Oops, he really considers himself a communist. Now how can I minimize that? I know:

    Anything more recent than Jones claiming he’s a Communist? Say within this decade?

    Aren’t you ashamed to engage in this tactic in public?

  15. sam says:

    Hey, help me out here guys. Does this count as lunatic or just plain batshit dumb-crazy?

    GOP Lawmaker’s Graphic Sex-Bragging Caught On Tape

  16. G.A.Phillips says:

    Hey, help me out here guys. Does this count as lunatic or just plain batshit dumb-crazy?

    I go with batshit dumb*** crazy and fat Olbermann look alike.:)

  17. Alex Knapp says:

    TM,

    So, you’d be completely understanding of a Nazi being an adviser to the President so long as he was not personally involved in any genocides. Right? The odiousness of belief is immaterial, it’s just the actions based on the beliefs that are worthy of condemnation. Right?

    Not quite, because part and parcel of the National Socialist Worker’s Party of Germany’s platform was ethnic cleansing of Jewish populations.

    Communism is a different beast entirely, and there are strains of communism that are utterly peaceful. (Anarchist varieties, in particular.) To say that ALL communists are somehow in agreement with Bolshevism is to completely misunderstand the ideologies completely.

    Additionally, from the article you provided, his self-admitted Communism was in 1994. I was just curious to see if he still was.

    That said, I would prefer that Communists not occupy positions of power.

    No, Dave has made the point better than I have. Further, while the courts are an arm of the State, they are not synonymous with the State. The courts are seen, in this country as least, as more impartial and as neutral arbiters of fact, rather than as the enforcement arm of the Executive, which is why we so often see the judgments of the courts working against the interests of the Executive.

    There is a clear difference between legal guilt and actual guilt. People are frequently convicted of crimes that they did not commit. Just because the state says someone is guilty does not mean that they are guilty. I agree that it’s certainly a strong prima facie case, but the idea that believing that a particular person who has been convicted of a crime is innocent of that crime is certainly not cause to exclude them from holding public office.

    xcept for that niggling inconvenient fact of having organized a Truther March in San Francisco. You know, actually taking the initiative to organize fellow truthers to march in public in support of truther issues.

    I was not aware of that fact. Thank you for the clarification. That alone is sufficient cause for me not to care that he left office.

    Accordingly, I’ll ignore the rest of your insults because the issue is now moot.

  18. MM says:

    The problem is that the “press” only picks up on the rights lunatic fringe, not the lefts lunatic fringe. If you look at LGF lately all Charles has written about is the right nuts not anything about the appointment of a commie, cop killer sympathizer, truther to be a czar. The msm refused to even cover Van’s discretions yet they print anything they can dig up on a nirther. Funny how that works isn’t it?

    I know right? Nobody has heard anything about this Van Jones character or truthers ever outside a right leanining blog. Why, I’d be surprised if the anti-vaccination loonballs on the left were even semi-famous outside a few science blogs. What exactly is a “Jenny McCarthy” or a “Jim Carrey” anyway? How about an “Oprah?” Ted Kennedy was in the news recently, but did you know he had a nephew? It’s true! That nephew is named Robert F Kennedy Jr, and he spouts pseudoscience garbage all over the place.

    Not that anyone has ever heard about *him*! Stupid MSM

  19. ggr says:

    There is a clear difference between legal guilt and actual guilt. People are frequently convicted of crimes that they did not commit. Just because the state says someone is guilty does not mean that they are guilty. I agree that it’s certainly a strong prima facie case, but the idea that believing that a particular person who has been convicted of a crime is innocent of that crime is certainly not cause to exclude them from holding public office.

    That’s well said. Its interesting how people who don’t believe in government omniscience in general (and rightly so) suddenly believe it when it involves the court system, which is always just an arm of the government.

  20. TangoMan says:

    Not quite, because part and parcel of the National Socialist Worker’s Party of Germany’s platform was ethnic cleansing of Jewish populations.

    Communism is built on the notion of a classless society. Class must be eradicated and the only way to do that is through coercion. This is why communism is so efficient at wracking up body counts. Secondly, the Jewish question isn’t built into the fabric of Nazism, the Jews were a stand-in for “the Other,” those not German, which means that Nazism could exist in an alternative world where Jews didn’t exist, it would, like Communism, target another group to be scapegoats.

    Communism is a different beast entirely, and there are strains of communism that are utterly peaceful.

    Similarly, there are peaceful strains of Nazism. So long as Commmunists and Nazis just talk and hold no power, they can’t implement the violence that is inherent in their philosophies.