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Paul Krugman, Around the Bend

We’re not the first to this party, but, hey, it’s never too late to pile on Paul Krugman. Rightwing Nuthouse says that Krugman’s latest column in the New York Times is evidence that he has “gone stark, raving mad.” I won’t go that far; let’s just say that Krugman has abandoned any claim to be taken seriously.
Krugman’s latest column is a hysterical tirade against conservative Republicans. But you knew that; I’ll have to be more specific. Krugman is worried that conservative Christians are about to start assassinating liberals. No, really, I’m not kidding:

[N]obody wants to talk about the threat posed by those whose beliefs include contempt for democracy itself. [Hold that thought: we'll be talking about contempt for democracy later--Ed.]
We can see this failing clearly in other countries. In the Netherlands, for example, a culture of tolerance led the nation to ignore the growing influence of Islamic extremists until they turned murderous.
But it’s also true of the United States, where dangerous extremists belong to the majority religion and the majority ethnic group, and wield great political influence.

Did you think I was making up the part about assassinations? Nope:

America isn’t yet [!] a place where liberal politicians, and even conservatives who aren’t sufficiently hard-line, fear assassination. But unless moderates take a stand against the growing power of domestic extremists, it can happen here.

That’s quite an indictment: conservative Christians (that would be the “majority religion,” right?) are “dangerous extremists,” who, if left unchecked, are likely to start assassinating liberal and centrist politicians. What evidence does Krugman offer for his startling claim?
Krugman’s first argument is his best; one of the Schindler family’s spokesmen is acquainted with a guy who murdered an abortionist, and Judge Greer has bodyguards. But, sadly, it isn’t unusual for judges involved in controversial cases to have bodyguards on a temporary basis; the U.S. Marshals’ Service reports 39 protective details for judges and prosecutors in 2004, and that’s just the federal system. And, as far as violence by political extremists is concerned, ecoterrorists have carried out at least as many violent attacks as anti-abortion fanatics. But, in Krugman’s twisted world, that’s different.
From there, Krugman’s arguments get worse. As an example of the frightening lawlessness of the “religious right,” he offers:

[T]here has been little national exposure for a Miami Herald report that Jeb Bush sent state law enforcement agents to seize Terri Schiavo from the hospice – a plan called off when local police said they would enforce the judge’s order that she remain there.

Krugman calls this an instance of the willingness of conservatives “to violate the spirit of the law, if not yet [!] the letter, to cater to the religious right.” But the news reports Krugman refers to emphasize the determination of Governor Bush and his state agencies to abide by the law:

Bush spokeswoman Alia Faraj denied Friday that Bush ever intended to act without judicial approval. “There was no plan,” she said. “We were working through the legal process. We were hopeful that the new information would raise enough doubt to give her another opportunity.”
FDLE spokesman Tom Berlinger said Friday: “At the request of the governor’s office, we had a special agent supervisor and a couple of agents on standby for some time Thursday and for some time Wednesday, along with folks from DCF and a doctor.
“Had a legal window of opportunity come, where they would have been allowed to proceed to the hospice and rehydrate Ms. Schiavo, they were ready and prepared to do that. Unfortunately, that legal window never came.”
Faraj said Bush “did everything he could within the law, and we were faced with defeats in the judicial process even though we felt we had compelling new information about Terri’s medical condition.”

It’s certainly easy to see how such violent lawlessness will lead to political assassination.
Krugman’s arguments keep sliding downhill, as he cites–bizarrely–yesterday’s Washington Post article about pharmacists who are declining to fill prescriptions for drugs–e.g., the “morning after” pill–that are inconsistent with their religious beliefs, as support for the idea that liberals will start getting assassinated any moment now.
Finally, Krugman gets to the real point:

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.

Remember Krugman’s claim that his opponents manifest “contempt for democracy”? Democracy means, if it means anything, majority rule. The conservatives whom Krugman accuses of “extremism” believe that the Constitution means what it says: the Senate is to “advise and consent” to Presidential appointments, not refuse to take a position. Krugman’s view is that a minority of 40 Senators must be able to block any federal appointment, including the appointment of federal judges. And anyone who supports majority rule, and the Constitutional right of the President to appoint judges, is an “extremist.” Not only that, an extremist whose views are tending toward systematic assassination of liberal and moderate politicians. Beyond that, of course, the whole liberal project as it relates to the judiciary is intended to frustrate democracy. The filibuster is an anti-democratic means of perpetuating an anti-democratic system of rule by judicial fiat.
One could simply rest the case here, and conclude that Paul Krugman is a nut. Or, one could point out that the last three national politicians who have actually been shot at were George Wallace, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan.
Does Krugman think that these attempted political assassinations were the natural result of “extremism” on the left? Does he think that the recently reported plot to murder President Bush was the result, at least in part, of the hysterical attacks on the President by Krugman and his fellow lefitists? On these points, he is silent. If Krugman is concerned about efforts to murder conservative politicians, he is keeping it to himself.

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