Monday, May 02, 2005

The Alternate Universe of Conservatives

Note: JABBS today introduces a new feature: The Alternate Universe of Conservatives.

The goal is to highlight times when conservative pundits and politicians propose an "alternate universe" of facts. While we in the reality-based universe accept one set of facts -- Al Gore never claimed he "invented the Internet," Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction nor significant ties to Al Qaeda, Terry Schiavo was in a persistent vegetative state, the president's Social Security privatization plan does not lead to solvency, etc. -- conservative pundits and politicians try to promote a second set of facts to further their agenda.


From the May 1 edition of NBC's Meet the Press:

TIM RUSSERT: Let me turn to federal judges. Court of Appeals: Bill Clinton nominated 51 people to the Court of Appeals. Thirty-five were confirmed. Sixteen were blocked by the Republicans by not giving hearings or not allowed out of committee. George Bush nominated 52. Thirty-five were confirmed because the Democrats threatened filibuster. They don't run the committees, so they can't block it in committee. What's the difference?

SEN. GEORGE ALLEN (R-VA): I think you'll find on the Circuit Court judges that President Bush has the lowest percentage of Circuit Court judges ...

RUSSERT: I just gave you the numbers. Clinton nominated 51; 35 were confirmed. Bush nominated 52; 35 were confirmed. Those are the numbers.

ALLEN: Well, I have different numbers than that. The reality is that some of President Clinton's nominees were blocked in committee. They did not--and a lot of them were also brought up at the very end of his term.

RUSSERT: These are Court of Appeals. This is what we're ...

ALLEN: Right. And they were brought up at the end. Here's where we are today. I wasn't part of what was going on back then.


Blogger Don Quixote said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:44 AM  
Blogger BLOVIATOR said...

Why didn't timmy russert finish his reporter job and ask what the numbers were that Sen Allen had that were different?

8:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bloviator I couldn't agree with you more. I heard the Meet The Press interview on the car radio the other night and I was beating my head against the dashboard when Russert didn't press him to produce these imaginary numbers!
A real what might have been an acclaimed opportunity to prove his worth as a journalist was thrown away. The country suffers for it while the Republicans score another one.

10:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's see here. This is not about percentages, or numbers, though conveniently changing it to that discussion manages to steer the conversation away from the actual crux of the debate. Clinton's appointments were defeated in committee, which as I understand it, is how the process works. Get approved by the committee, and move to the floor for a vote. In the instant case, the judges were approved by the committee, sent to the floor, and then filibustered, thus blocking a vote on the floor. Since this has never been done in the history of the Senate for a nominee that would have been confirmed by the Senate, it is a remarkable action. Where in the Constitution does it say that any type of super majority is required to advise and consent? Where in the Constitution does it even mention filibusters? Why are the Democrats unwilling to allow the process to proceed?

11:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally, I think the Republicans are really missing the boat on this issue. Rather than cower in fear about a threatened filibuster, they should call the vote, and force the Dems to actually stand on the floor of the Senate and truly filibuster the nominee. Make them talk for as long as humanly possible. Make them do what they are threatening to do, and let the whole world see who they really are.

Actually, this is yet another way that the Dems prove that despite their mantra of "count every vote", they are really more concerned with supporting an institution or processes, that do not require votes, ie. the judiciary, filibusters. If they wanted to count every vote, they would have no problem with the democratic process. However, they wish to force their will through the courts, through filibusters, etc ... since they cannot win at the ballot box.

8:03 PM  
Blogger Kate Marie said...

Thank you, Anonymous 2, for answering Russert's question --there IS a difference, and it's the "liberal" alternate universe of facts that doesn't recognize one.

JABBS -- when you say Iraq had no WMD's do you mean they had no WMD's at the time of the invasion, or that they never had any WMD's? If you mean the latter, I'm sure the corpses of Halabja wished they had lived in THAT particular alternate universe.

5:57 AM  
Anonymous joe said...

I think, given the facts, it's obvious JABBS was referring to there being no WMDs (and no link to Al Qaeda) in 2001, when the administration gave those as the main reasons to go to war.

10:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

200 years of Senate rules allow for the filibuster. The Republicans have used it before, which is why several of them are against the "nuclear option."

Why is it ok when the Republicans do something, but horrible when the Democrats do it?

10:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

200 years of Senate rules may allow for it, but the Constitution is fairly specific when it speaks to super majorities being required, and the advise and consent clause is not referenced as a super majority.

In the 200+ years of the Senate, the filibuster has been used one time for a judge, on a bipartisan basis, for a judge that did not have majority support.

It would be wrong of Republicans to do this as well, so your point is not well taken.

12:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding the question of Iraq and WMD -- please realize that polls have found that a majority of Bush voters in 2004 thought that a) the U.S. found WMD and b) that the 9/11 commission proved a substantial tie between Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden (and that Saddam was thus behind 9/11).

I think that's the data David is referencing with regard to Iraq and "alternate" facts.

3:06 PM  
Blogger Kate Marie said...

Could you give me documentation for polls indicating a majority of people thought that WMD's had been found (as opposed to polls indicating a majority of people thought that Iraq had WMD's)? In the latter instance -- the belief that Iraq HAD WMD's -- isn't the "alternate universe" scenario one that was shared with most of western Europe's intelligence agencies?

I just think it -- how should I put this -- lacks nuance to try to puncture an "alternate universe" of facts by mischaracterizing the dimensions of that alternate universe and constructing a rather distorted alternate universe of your own. For instance, I saw a post here about the distortion of facts in the Terri Schiave case that included a typical distortion of its own; that is, it seemed to suggest that many courts and judges had made "findings of fact" in the Schiavo case; that's not true. Only one judge (Greer) has made findings of fact in the case. Appellate courts and judges accept findings of fact (without reinterpreting or reassessing them) unless they rule that a judge has abused his discretion -- which is rarely done. Thus, it's a distortion to say that lots of courts have reached the same conclusion that Greer did, since they were assessing something entirely different (whether Schiavo received due process, etc.)

4:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The overwhelming consenus among doctors who had treated or had been appointed by the court to analyze Terri Schiavo concluded she was in a persistent vegetative state with no chance of recovery. Those findings came in 1998, and were affirmed again several times between 1998 and 2005.

The "alternate universe" was the trumpeting of Dr. William Hammesfahr, by Joe Scarborough, Michael Savage, Sean Hannity and others, even though Hammesfahr, in court testimony, was unable to provide medical proof to back-up his suggestion that Schiavo was not in a persistent vegetative state. He was found by the court to be an "incredible" witness for that reason.

Then there were the two nurses who made the rounds among the conservative pundits. They, too, were found incredible -- their allegations could not be substantiated, the court found. Furthermore, it's come to light that Hannity, for one, coached the nurses on how to respond to questions from Alan Colmes on the Fox News show. That only adds to the nurses' credibility question.

4:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) -- a joint program of the Center on Policy Attitudes (COPA) and the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM), School of Public Affairs ( Pres_Election_04/html/new_10_21_04.html)

Bush Supporters Misperceive World Public as Not Opposed to Iraq War,
Favoring Bush Reelection

Even after the final report of Charles Duelfer to Congress saying that Iraq did not have a significant WMD program, 72% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq had actual WMD (47%) or a major program for developing them (25%). Fifty-six percent assume that most experts believe Iraq had actual WMD and 57% also assume, incorrectly, that Duelfer concluded Iraq had at least a major WMD program. Kerry supporters hold opposite beliefs on all these points.

Similarly, 75% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda, and 63% believe that clear evidence of this support has been found. Sixty percent of Bush supporters assume that this is also the conclusion of most experts, and 55% assume, incorrectly, that this was the conclusion of the 9/11 Commission. Here again, large majorities of Kerry supporters have exactly opposite perceptions.

These are some of the findings of a new study of the differing perceptions of Bush and Kerry supporters, conducted by the Program on International Policy Attitudes and Knowledge Networks, based on polls conducted in September and October.

The polls were conducted October 12-18 and September 3-7 and 8-12 with samples of 968, 798 and 959 respondents, respectively. Margins of error were 3.2 to 4% in the first and third surveys and 3.5% on September 3-7. The poll was fielded by Knowledge Networks using its nationwide panel, which is randomly selected from the entire adult population and subsequently provided internet access. For more information about this methodology, go to

4:57 PM  
Blogger Kate Marie said...

So you don't have evidence that a majority of people thought that WMD's had actually been found. That's what I asked for.

As for Terri Schiavo, I'm not arguing about the PVS diagnosis, but about the characterization of the findings being "reaffirmed" -- are you suggesting that the facts were reaffirmed under de novo review? I don't think so. If you can give me evidence that one judge other than Greer made "findings of fact" (and I'm using a legal term with a specific meaning), I'd like to see it.

This is just silly, though. SOME factions on both sides distort facts; some factions on both sides report fairly. Every time I heard a "liberal" commentator say that Schiavo was on "life support," I was in the alternate universe of liberal "facts." To claim that conservatives create such distorted alternate universes and liberals don't is rather simplistic, wouldn't you say? Have you ever looked at any of the "facts" that are constantly distorted by mainstream media regarding guns? If you're going to posit "liberals" as members of some Eelect who know and speak the only the unadorned truth and "conservatives" as those who have been seduced by the dark side, it seems to me you're going to lose the argument.

5:30 PM  
Anonymous joe said...

Let's face facts, this site has a specific purpose. It says it is fighting conservative spin.

There are other sites, no doubt, that claim to fight liberal spin.

If you don't agree with the premise of an article, so be it. But you have to admit that the conservatives threw Hammesfahr out there every time they could, even though he had been discredited. And you have to admit that the poll info posted above does suggest conservatives and liberals have much different views about Iraq, WMD and ties to Al Qaeda.

6:09 PM  
Blogger Kate Marie said...

This site can do whatever it likes. The tenor of this post, however, seems to suggest that conservatives routinely invoke an alternate universe of facts while liberals hew strictly to the truth. That's just . . . well, stupid.

9:37 PM  
Anonymous joe said...

Or, as the site says, it's "partisan." At least with this site, there's an effort to attribute information, and to use a semblance of logic.

It has a point of view. You call it stupid, but a lot of people think it's perfectly reasonable to point out flaws in conservative logic, flip-flops by the Bush administration, and lazy journalists repeating misleading conservative spin.

JABBS is on to something, because most of the posts seem to get a reaction from both liberals and conservatives. That's one of the things I like most about the site -- the wide spread of ideas in the comments sections.

12:29 AM  
Blogger Kate Marie said...

"It has a point of view. You call it stupid, but a lot of people think it's perfectly reasonable to point out flaws in conservative logic, flip-flops by the Bush administration, and lazy journalists repeating misleading conservative spin."

-- Of course, it's perfectly reasonable to point out flaws in logic. What isn't perfectly reasonable is to ascribe flaws in SOME conservatives' logic to conservative logic in general, or to imply, as this post seems to, that only conservatives use flawed logic or distorted facts, especially since some of the assertions made in support of this notion appear to use faulty logic and distorted facts, too.

Even then, of course, this site can do whatever it wants to do. I've merely availed myself of the open comments here to point out some contradictions.

2:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Simple way to read this blog : If Bush speaks, it is a lie. If some random conservative says something, apply that to all conservatives, and proceed to bash them. Ignore all instances where people of the "correct" ideological stripe have done or said similar things. Repeat.

3:14 PM  

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