New at NewsReal – Eric Alterman Continues to Push Lie That Won’t Die: "Bush Stole Florida"

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

In Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America, leftist Stanford University professor Richard Rorty says something that reveals a great deal—perhaps more than Rorty intended—about the psyche of the Left:

I do not think that there is a nonmythological, nonideological way of telling a country’s story […]Stories about what a nation has been and should try to be are not attempts at accurate representation, but rather attempts to forge a moral identity. The argument between Left and Right about which episodes in our history we Americans should pride ourselves on will never be a contest between a true and a false account of our country’s history and its identity. It is better described as an argument about which hopes to allow ourselves and which to forgo.

If leftists operate under the assumption that nobody’s version of history is, or can be, objectively true anyway, then it follows that no amount of evidence or counter-argument will persuade them to abandon factually-unsustainable positions. Accordingly, leftists cling to many falsehoods that, no matter how many times they’re killed, just won’t die: the rich aren’t paying their fare share (wrong), human life doesn’t begin at fertilization (wrong), Saddam Hussein had no WMDs or ties to terrorism (wrong and wrong), the Founders didn’t care about slavery (wrong), the Red Scare was much ado about nothing (wrong), women still face pay discrimination in the workplace (wrong), the science is settled on global warming (wrong).

The latest example comes from left-wing media apologist Eric Alterman, who on the Daily Beast decides to revisit the 2000 presidential election, in which, according to leftist mythology, the Supreme Court helped George W. Bush steal the White House from Al Gore. Naturally, Alterman can’t resist opening with a dig at Dubya for being the worst president ever. But “even if Bush had been a great president,” he insists, “Bush v. Gore would have been a disgraceful decision”:

To prevent a careful recount of the vote, the self-professed conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court ignored the decision of lower federal courts, which four times had rejected similar stay requests from the Bush campaign. As a result, the majority could not cite any real, germane Florida statutory law to support its contention that the counting must be ended immediately. Instead, the court chose to overturn a state court’s election laws as interpreted by that state’s supreme court on the basis of a legal theory that the justices simply made up on the spot: that different counting standards violate the equal protection and due process provisions of the U.S. Constitution.

First, some background: Bush won Florida’s initial vote, albeit narrowly enough to trigger a full machine recount. This recount was conducted. Bush won again. Gore requested a manual recount in four heavily-Democrat counties, as he was legally entitled to do. However, as Mark Levin explains in Men in Black, under the law that would only lead to a full recount in those counties if a partial manual recount—“1 percent of the county’s total votes in at least three precincts”—indicated a vote tabulation error, which it didn’t. Therefore, Levin argues, “there was no statutory authority for the four counties to conduct full manual recounts of all the votes.” But two of the counties went ahead anyway. Thus, the recounts Bush’s lawyers sought to stop and Alterman’s esteemed lower courts sought to continue, weren’t legally authorized.  Further, state law placed a clear deadline, 5PM on November 14, by which recounts had to stop and results had to be turned in. In following the deadline, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris was only doing her job and letting the process take its course. It was the Florida Supreme Court, not the federal one, which “chose to overturn a state court’s election laws” by ruling not only against Harris and for Gore’s recounts, but by also ordering additional recounts—without bothering to provide either a deadline or standards of procedure.

Read the rest at NewsRealBlog.

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Why Do People Believe Irrational, Simplistic Things?

And why are they so insistent upon holding on to those things in the face of clear evidence to the contrary?

It’s actually not as surprising as it might seem at first. I think conspiracy theorists and fringe types are often motivated by the same thing: humans are naturally tempted to seek simple answers to complex questions. We want to solve our problems in as few steps as possible, and it can be hard to acknowledge that life just doesn’t work that way. It’s comforting to

Birthers hate Barack Obama so much that they succumb to fantasies about a way to remove him from office that’s supposedly easier and can be achieved earlier than defeating him electorally in 2012.

The same goes for those who insist that George W. Bush stole Florida in 2000.

9/11 Truthers can’t bring themselves to imagine that a series of events ultimately rooted in government incompetence and human error could have allowed a handful of people from what they see as a drastically inferior part of the world to carry out such a horror on their own.

Isolationists seek a quick and easy fix to international dangers like Islamic radicalism. If we don’t have a presence over there, they won’t want to bother us here. (Iraq & Afghanistan are separate issues: to these guys, the wrath of the entire Middle East can hinge upon the presence of but a single US military base on foreign soil.)

The more dogmatic libertarians simplistically assert that society will be near-perfect as long as we let the government do virtually nothing, because they see government as the source of all social illness. While they’ve got a strong case that the private sector will generally be more effective than public, they hurt both by overselling the former and underselling the latter.

And progressives seek to legislate social ills like racism and poverty out of existence. They can’t admit that information is too dispersed, and that human behavior isn’t malleable enough, to make centralized government solutions work, or that there are always behavioral and psychological factors at play that public policy can’t always alleviate – and in fact, can often make worse.

These tendencies are annoying, frustrating, and counterproductive, but they’re also natural. Humanity will never be fully rid of them, so their mere existence is hardly worth freaking out over. The real issue is whether or not the mainstream indulges or embraces the fringe – and one side has a much better record in that regard than the other.