Tag Archives: extremist

TN Commentary on GOP’s Lean to the Extreme

The apparent suicide of a mentally-troubled Florida man distraught over the re-election of President Obama is cited by Lenard Pitts in a column critical of right-wing commentators.
Sometimes, they act — the Hannitys, the O’Reillys, the Trumps, the Limbaughs, the whole conservative political infotainment complex — as if this were all a game, as if their nonstop litany of half truths, untruths and fear mongering, their echo chamber of studied outrage, practiced panic, intellectual incoherence and unadulterated equine feculence, had no human consequences. Sometimes, they behave as if it were morally permissible — indeed, morally required — to say whatever asinine, indefensible, coarse or outrageous thing comes to mind in the name of defeating or diminishing the dreaded left. And never mind that vulnerable people might hear this and shape their beliefs accordingly.
Did the conservative political infotainment complex kill Henry Hamilton? No.
But were they the water in which he swam, a Greek chorus echoing and magnifying the outsized panic that troubled his unwell mind? It seems quite likely.
One hopes, without any real expectation, that Hamilton’s death will give pause to the flame throwers on the right. One hopes, without any real expectation, that somebody will feel a twinge of conscience. Or shame.
But that will not happen.


Frank Cagle, who is pretty darn conservative in many matters, says in a column that elections show the Republican party needs to distance itself from the “crackpot caucus.”
The Republican brand has come to be associated with bigotry and hate speech. It is the tone and the rhetoric that turns off people who might otherwise agree more with conservative principles than liberal ones.
In the 1950s, the John Birch Society began to make inroads into the Republican Party. Their extremist views and paranoia about government plots threatened to marginalize the party. William F. Buckley, editor of The National Review, and other conservative opinion leaders worked to throw these people out of the party.
What can Republican leaders today do to change the perception of minority groups and demographic changes?
They can start by condemning people who claim, all evidence to the contrary, that Obama is not an American citizen. They can call out conservative talk-radio hosts for hateful tirades and name-calling. They can condemn Limbaugh when he does things like refer to a young woman testifying before Congress as a slut.
They can also call out a handful of state legislators who make national news with stupid bills.
It’s time to start taking responsibility. Call down and excise the Crackpot Caucus.

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House District 33: Ragan vs. Hackworth

The state’s Republican leaders have rallied behind fellow Republican Rep. John Ragan in his rematch clash with former Rep. Jim Hackworth while Democrats portray Ragan as an extremist, reports Bob Fowler.
Ragan has won endorsements from U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, Gov. Bill Haslam, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and Speaker of the House Beth Harwell.
Haslam in one news release is quoted as saying: “John has a true servant’s heart.”
The state Democratic Party has joined the fray, sending out scathing news releases and paid political ads slamming Ragan’s voting record and lambasting him as an extreme right-wing politician.
Republicans portray Hackworth’s record during four terms in the House as having a “long history of supporting tax increases, runaway spending, and a larger, more intrusive government.”
Ragan, 63, is a retired Air Force fighter pilot and is now a business consultant. He lists as one of his top issues is lowering the state’s jobless rate “by creating a business climate that encourages hiring.”
Ragan also says he wants to cut taxes and reduce state spending while increasing government efficiency.
He also calls for “more accurate and reliable education measurement capability and system accountability.”
Hackworth, 61, a fifth-generation Anderson County resident, is a retired senior facility engineer from Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Is the Tennessee GOP’s Personality Changing?

An insightful (I think) Frank Cagle column poses this question in its headline, “Will most Republicans go along with extreme positions to avoid the ‘moderate’ tag?” An excerpt:
If the sparse polling data available is correct, Mitt Romney is not likely to get as large a margin in solidly Republican Tennessee as John McCain did in 2008. Perhaps voters are not as excited about Romney, or perhaps they aren’t quite as rabidly anti-Barack Obama as the first time around.
After all, a black man was elected president and the world didn’t end. (Though from looking at some of my e-mail, there are those people who think it did.)
But has the personality of the Republican Party changed?
Here in traditionally Republican East Tennessee we tend to be more fiscally conservative and less intense on social issues. Middle Tennessee has become the hotbed of radical on-the-march anti-immigration, anti-abortion conservatism and it is an area more in tune with the perception of what the national party has become.
…The problems of the national Republican Party with minorities and women have largely been created by a minority of Republicans in state legislatures. There are religious conservatives who bring legislation primarily designed to make abortions harder to obtain. These bills make it harder for women’s clinics that provide abortions to exist. (A lack of hospital privileges closed a clinic in Knoxville.)
But clinics also provide other health services for women, many of them poor. Will such legislation turn off many women, and many young people, who will view the Republican Party as harsh and anti-women? It makes the face of the party white male state legislators who want to subjugate women.
I sometimes wonder if Tennessee is as conservative as its politics suggest. It may be that the ultra-conservative positions, that may give the national Republicans grief, play well in our state.
Or is it that the extreme branch of the state Republican Party has more passion and more ability to whip up the base than the mainstream Republicans? We have reached a point where even being considered “mainstream” or, God help you, “moderate” can be a mortal blow to a Republican politician.
In the next session of the Legislature we are likely to see a good bit of more extreme legislation than we have seen before. The question will be whether the traditional Republicans will have the courage to vote against “vaginal probes” or whether they go along to get along to avoid being labeled as not being conservative enough.