On climate change, the GOP is lost in never-never land

by John Quiggin on April 19, 2011

No surprise there, we all knew that. The surprise is to read that headline over a piece by Fred Hiatt (last seen defending George Will’s right to his own facts) in the Washington Post. And the article is actually better than the headline.

Hiatt slams the Repubs not only on climate change and birtherism but on the illogical arithmetic (his words) in the Ryan plan, which all the “serious” pundits were swooning over only a few days ago.

And while he gives a nod to the false equivalence that is virtually mandatory in such pieces, saying “Democrats aren’t honest in these areas, either”, his examples point to Obama understating the need for higher taxes to extend beyond the very rich, and for more serious and costly action on climate change, and he concludes “To say that Republican irresponsibility makes it more difficult for Democrats to speak honestly is not an excuse. But it is a partial explanation”

And, at the end, he calls out the favored candidate of “serious” Republicans (At least, those who aren’t still still clinging to the hope that Romney will somehow become electable), Tim Pawlenty, in terms that would be strong even from one of WaPo’s house liberals, saying

Does Pawlenty believe what he says now? I’ve spoken with the former Minnesota governor. I know he is a smart man. As recently as 2008 he was supporting congressional action to limit greenhouse gas emissions. I do not believe that he believes those 998 scientists are wrong.

Which leads to another question: Should we feel better if a possible future president is not ignorant about the preeminent environmental danger facing our planet, but only calculating or cowardly?

To paraphrase Pawlenty, I don’t know the answer to that one.

I really don’t know what to make of this. Is it
(a) A temporary aberration, with normal service to be resumed shortly
(b) Hiatt breaking out of the Village for some personal reason
(c) The Post management realising that its rightwards trajectory was ultimately bound to be disastrous
(d) An indication that the rapid exposure of the Ryan plan as a fraud, coming on top of increasingly blatant delusionism on climate, and flirtations with birtherism, has crystallised a shift in the Wisdom of the Village, one that finally recognises the fact that the Repubs operate in a parallel universe, where reality is irrelevant.

I’m sure there is some more cynical explanation, probably correct, but until someone points it out, I’m going to hope for (d). A fact-based media-consensus, replacing “opinions on shape of earth differ” would, I think be disastrous for the Repubs. The base would still get their worldview from Fox, of course, but conservative independents would be exposed to the fact that the party they naturally prefer is too crazy to be trusted with political power.

And while I’m at it, I’d like my pony to be a palomino.

{ 50 comments }

1

DWong 04.19.11 at 3:27 am

I wouldn’t read too much into one Hiatt piece.
Re: Palwenty and the Republicans–I think it’s near incontrovertible that the bad economy/high unemployment has made climate change recede as an issue in the US.
People are worried about their jobs, have unemployed relatives, etc.
My 2 cents.

2

e julius drivingstorm 04.19.11 at 3:50 am

The answer is:

(e) the vanguard of a full-on WaPo effort to reestablish some credibility leading up to when it endorses the looney-toon Republican nominee for president in 2012.

3

Antti Nannimus 04.19.11 at 4:52 am

Hi,

His close personal friend, Republican AZ Senator John McCain, didn’t even find MN Governor Tim “Tea-Paw” Pawlenty sufficiently credible by comparison to AK Governor Sarah Palin to make Tea-Paw his 2008 vice-presidential running mate. And from Minnesota, we can’t even see Russia. What does that say about poor Tea-Paw as a serious presidential candidate?

Have a nice day,
Antti

4

Lee A. Arnold 04.19.11 at 5:15 am

John, I think the real answer is closest to (d). But it is not simply that the Ryan Plan is a fraud because the the numbers don’t add up, and it doesn’t reduce the short-term deficits any faster than any other plan, and it shifts more money to the wealthiest people. That is all intellectual stuff. It is far beyond that. It has set off a moral and emotional mechanism which is much more profound. By pushing the Republicans to put up or shut up — to name their cuts — then everyone is suddenly compelled to imagine a world in which the elderly cannot depend upon Medicare and life is made more risky and complicated and unfair. This is a moral and emotional imagination, and it always trumps intellect, every time. It is important to understand that the libertarian/conservative free-market outlook which has dominated in the West is essentially moral and emotional — not intellectual, whatever its pretensions — but the left has been trying to battle it with intellectual argument, which is always useless and vain in that setting. However, forcing an act (such as passing the Ryan Plan) that in turn compels people to change their moral imaginations? Then things start cooking, and it has barely begun. Among many other outcomes, you will read pundits, most of whom essentially make their intellects follow their emotions, become suddenly free to start a whole new set of intellectual responses.

5

D BROWN 04.19.11 at 5:30 am

The size of the lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed, because the vast masses of a nation are in the depths of their hearts more easily deceived than they are consciously and intentionally bad.

The primitive simplicity of their minds renders them more easy victims of a big lie than a small one, because they themselves often tell little lies but would be ashamed to tell big ones.
Such a form of lying would never enter their heads. They would never credit others with the possibility of such great impudence as the complete reversal of facts. Even explanations would long leave them in doubt and hesitation, and any trifling reason would dispose them to accept a thing as true.
Something therefore always remains and sticks from the most imprudent of lies, a fact which all bodies and individuals concerned in the art of lying in this world know only too well, and therefore they stop at nothing to achieve this end.
~ Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf

6

D BROWN 04.19.11 at 5:33 am

This is not the frist time the Neo-Cons have put us in this mess. But it is the worse. The Dems fixed it fast last time. BILL TAXED THE TOP 1% and it worked great! Bill’s years of prosperity started with a war over taxes. When President Clinton was enacting his first federal budget in 1993, he found his “fiscally conservative” Republican predecessor had left a $290-billion deficit. He
responded by imposing substantial tax increases on the top 1 percent of
taxpayers and omitting the “middle-class tax cut” he had promised in his
campaign. That measure passed by the vote of Al Gore in the Senate.
Like now the Republican right threw a screaming tantrum, falsely
describing the tax increase as the “largest in history” (that was Reagan’s)and warning that it would result in a severe recession or worse. Conservative politicians and pundits unanimously
predicted that higher taxes would mean fewer jobs and larger deficits.
They were wrong. Within a few years after the ’93
tax hike, we were enjoying full employment, shrinking poverty, rising
household incomes at all levels, greater home ownership—and the prospect
of a gigantic federal surplus. But Bush fixed all of that. Clinton left almost no deficit, and most of that was the payments on Reagan’s borrowing. By the time Bush-2 was gone we were making payments on 1.7 trillion dollars. Almost all most to rich foreigners. But the Republicans loved it, it paid for tax cut to the rich.

7

piglet 04.19.11 at 5:34 am

This may be totally unrelated but I observe that in today’s newspaper alone, there are reports about
– 90+ tornadoes devastating the South from Oklahoma to North Carolina
– wildfires threatening the capital of Texas
– the Southeast again suffering from catastrophic drought conditions
– Republican star Governor Christie of New Jersey coming out as a Climate Change-denier.

8

Billikin 04.19.11 at 5:49 am

Hiatt: ““To say that Republican irresponsibility makes it more difficult for Democrats to speak honestly is not an excuse. But it is a partial explanation”

I do not understand that at all. If the Republicans are irresponsible, how does that fact make it difficult for Democrats to speak honestly? I would have thought that, if anything, it would make it easy, since they can point out the irresponsibility of the Republicans. ???

9

Robert 04.19.11 at 7:21 am

Off-topic: The April 25 issue of the U.S. magazine The Nation has a combined review of Zombie Economics and of Gérard Duménil and Dominique Lévy’s The Crisis of Neoliberalism.

10

Stephen Lathrop 04.19.11 at 9:06 am

Hiatt: “To say that Republican irresponsibility makes it more difficult for Democrats to speak honestly is not an excuse. But it is a partial explanation”

Billikin: “I do not understand that at all. If the Republicans are irresponsible, how does that fact make it difficult for Democrats to speak honestly? I would have thought that, if anything, it would make it easy, since they can point out the irresponsibility of the Republicans. ???”

Billikin, your comment makes sense, but misses a key point. Democrats prefer to shun the topic of economic analysis altogether, which leaves them helpless when Republicans start making it up. At least since Bill Clinton, the Democratic political theme has been to build a political coalition by joining specific constituencies, such as the urban poor, feminists, gays, blacks, pro-immigrant blocs—plus whatever white liberals stand willing to subordinate economic issues to the “progressive” goal of advancing those groups. Doing that has enabled the Democratic party to compete with Republicans to become the party of corporate service. Corporate backers don’t mind diversity, but won’t stand for economic progressivism.

With the growth of corporate political access, the old economic progressivism became fiercely contentious. Responding, the Democratic Party idea has been to replace one vision of social amelioration with another—to swap the old progressivism of economic amelioration via unions for a new and less contentious progressivism of economic amelioration via diversity.

Corporations embraced the new progressivism. Unlike economic progressivism, corporations can control amelioration by diversity hiring, and can market it as corporate virtue. Corporations far prefer that to its economic predecessor. Corporations think union contracts cut into profits, and tie managers’ hands. Diversity hiring comes almost free—just a matter of replacing one group of employees with another—and leaves managers more in control. As a bonus, the new employees may be grateful, docile and pro-corporate, where the previous ones tended to be defensive, skeptical or embattled.

Democrats decided to go with the flow, and have been paying the price. The identity coalition they now court with corporate dollars and policies is not quite large enough to let Democrats take political advantage of Republican economic folly. In the Democratic Party imagination, the new coalition is always on the verge of growing dominant. But Democrats are in a pickle of their own design. They are scared all the time because their coalition isn’t yet quite big enough. And they worry that going back to their former politics would cut them off from corporate benefactors, while exacerbating rifts between the blue collar workers they previously represented and the diversity coalition they now court assiduously.

Democrats need to re-embrace economic progressivism, and figure out a way to weld the interests of blue collar workers to those of the rest of their current coalition. Probably that would mean downplaying current Democratic Party diversity themes, and somewhat alienating parts of their current base, while confronting directly the toxic subject of blue collar racism. It’s a tall order. But until Democrats do that, Republicans, drunk or sober, will be driving the bus on the economy. And Democrats will continue trying as hard as they can to say as little as possible on the subject.

11

Oliver 04.19.11 at 9:16 am

First, a prediction is not a fact, however it is arrived at.

Secondly, it is hard to sell the voters that you consider the fix worse than the problem, because it would be understood as not caring.
The Republican position is realistically seen as taking the chances. Should global warming turn out to be real, they are willing to let it happen. It would be more honest to say so, but honesty doesn’t pay beyond a certain point in politics.

12

skippy 04.19.11 at 11:03 am

nothing annoys me more than the whole false equivalence shtick. the economist is the worse in the world for it. “well the repugs may kill and eat small children buuut the dems dont do enough to stop them so they are both to blame”

13

John Quiggin 04.19.11 at 11:27 am

“First, a prediction is not a fact, however it is arrived at.”

This point would seem to apply to any purposive action whatsoever, since all such actions are presumably based on predictions about their outcomes. For example, if I decide to eat breakfast, I have presumably predicted, based on past experience, that it will taste good, assuage my hunger and so on.

14

Marc 04.19.11 at 12:23 pm

@8: If one party is demagoging an issue it makes it much harder for the other party to be responsible. A classic example is crime. The constituency for prisoner clemency is small, and the one for harsh punishment is large. As a result, the number of pardons in the US issued by presidents and governors has shriveled in recent years – because the other party can be counted on using any such release as a political issue.

15

chris 04.19.11 at 1:20 pm

And they worry that going back to their former politics would cut them off from corporate benefactors, while exacerbating rifts between the blue collar workers they previously represented and the diversity coalition they now court assiduously.

This sort of thing would be much more convincing if minorities weren’t overrepresented among blue-collar workers. The idea that blue-collar workers are all white men who don’t care about this identity politics stuff is about 50 years out of date. The working class ARE the diversity coalition — that’s the result of putting lots of privileged people into higher-paying white-collar jobs.

Unless you live in a 98% white state or something, I bet that the next time you go to McDonalds and look behind the counter, or look at the checkout clerks at the grocery store, or behind the wheel of the city bus (many of whose passengers are those same burger flippers and checkout clerks), you will not see a lot of white faces. (You might, however, see a substantial number of women — but those are only “diversity” voters, not real working-class ones, right?)

16

reason 04.19.11 at 1:26 pm

Oliver
“Secondly, it is hard to sell the voters that you consider the fix worse than the problem, because it would be understood as not caring.”

Particular if your base is in or has aspirations to move to Florida.

17

Sev 04.19.11 at 1:53 pm

“I’m sure there is some more cynical explanation, probably correct, but until someone points it out”

The Donald. They fear the Trumpster will put them in the dumpster, so there is a concerted campaign against the crazy. It’s useful stuff, but the dose is the poison.

18

marcel 04.19.11 at 4:00 pm

This is to Belle (Waring) and John (Holbo): Have you been able yet to save enough away for your kids’ college funds based on the commissions that Belle collects every time a blogger uses the pony trope, or do you have to turn it all over to Bill Watterson?

19

ejh 04.19.11 at 4:16 pm

if I decide to eat breakfast, I have presumably predicted, based on past experience, that it will taste good, assuage my hunger and so on.

I can see the second bit, but can we really presume that a decision to eat means that you expect what you will be eating to taste good?

20

Stephen Lathrop 04.19.11 at 6:15 pm

Chris: “The working class ARE the diversity coalition—that’s the result of putting lots of privileged people into higher-paying white-collar jobs.”

So your view is that former blue collar whites moved up the ladder to higher-paying white-collar jobs? I thought they mainly got laid off, and then got hectored by politicians of both parties for not having more skills, and then got dropped from the work force statistics when they gave up in despair.

Your response adopts the Democratic partisan position (ameliorate by preferentially employing diversity coalition members), but does nothing to account for why Democrats no longer challenge Republicans on economic fundamentals. You seem to be confirming my point, while pretending unemployed blue collar whites don’t exist.

I’m not trying to make the case that those whites are any more important than anyone else. But Democrats seem intent on making them disappear. In the process, Democrats are making the best issues they can use to beat Republicans disappear as well.

I also assert that Democrats are selling out to corporatists the economic interests of most of the minority members of their coalition—the very blue collar minority members you point to. Only unions or government intervention can improve their hellish jobs, and Democrats won’t back either on principle—they do that only if they can see some kind of race or immigration angle to it—which gives them a chance of corporate backing.

Obama wouldn’t even go to Wisconsin, or even talk about it.

21

Uncle Kvetch 04.19.11 at 6:53 pm

Your response adopts the Democratic partisan position (ameliorate by preferentially employing diversity coalition members), but does nothing to account for why Democrats no longer challenge Republicans on economic fundamentals.

Because they no longer disagree with Republicans on economic fundamentals. Whatever differences there are between the parties on economics are differences of degree, not of kind. No big mystery there.

Now, why you choose to blame this situation on affirmative action and coalition-building and the great bugaboo of “diversity,” rather than on the simple fact that money=speech and both parties are bought and paid for by monied interests, remains a mystery, at least to me.

22

chris 04.19.11 at 7:00 pm

So your view is that former blue collar whites moved up the ladder to higher-paying white-collar jobs?

Some did, but mostly, their children did. People from middle-class backgrounds don’t expect to wind up pushing brooms, and usually, they don’t.

I’m not trying to make the case that those whites are any more important than anyone else.

Of course not — only that their agenda is more important than anyone else’s agenda. That’s not the same thing at all! What matters to white men matters to everyone, but what matters to women is just a women’s issue that belongs on the back burner, and you should question the motives of anyone who gets those priorities the wrong way around. Ditto blacks, Hispanics, gays, etc.

Maybe you’re not *trying* to make that case, but it is, in fact, the case you are actually making. You might want to think about why.

23

chris 04.19.11 at 7:11 pm

Now, why you choose to blame this situation on affirmative action and coalition-building and the great bugaboo of “diversity,” rather than on the simple fact that money=speech and both parties are bought and paid for by monied interests, remains a mystery, at least to me.

Well, I think coalition-building has a lot to do with it. You can’t win an election with only fervent union supporters — there aren’t enough of them anymore, even if they don’t get distracted by the fact that your candidate looks goofy in a tank or windsurfs or the other guy is a movie star who promised them lower taxes or whatever. (Here’s a hint about how those working class white men stopped being the center of the Democratic Party — lots of them stopped being *in* the Democratic Party when they became Reagan Democrats. By the time some, but not all, came back, the party had already changed to accommodate the people who had stuck with it, i.e. the rest of the coalition, and they didn’t want to go back to the back of the bus after that.)

I think the ability of political advertising to convince people to vote for nine kinds of insane bullshit is a fundamental threat to democracy–you may not be able to fool all the people all the time, but you really only need to fool 51% for a few weeks around Election Day–but I’m not sure that Churchill isn’t still right about the alternatives being worse. And as long as money has that power, no political party can survive without access to it.

24

mcd 04.19.11 at 7:53 pm

I vote for temporary aberration.

Besides, global warming is complex. (the current trope for sounding deep without saying anything at all).

25

Oliver 04.19.11 at 7:56 pm

“This point would seem to apply to any purposive action whatsoever, since all such actions are presumably based on predictions about their outcomes.”

To that degree, yes. But nevertheless you can take an action against a present state of affairs or an anticipated future state of affairs.
If you want to stay in the metaphor, you can go shopping for breakfast because you are hungry now, or you can go shopping for tomorrow’s breakfast today, because you assume that you’ll be hungry tomorrow.

26

mpowell 04.19.11 at 8:55 pm


I think the ability of political advertising to convince people to vote for nine kinds of insane bullshit is a fundamental threat to democracy—you may not be able to fool all the people all the time, but you really only need to fool 51% for a few weeks around Election Day—but I’m not sure that Churchill isn’t still right about the alternatives being worse. And as long as money has that power, no political party can survive without access to it.

But this is the point that Uncle Kvetch is making. At some point the wealthy elites in this country realized that the best way to get what they wanted was just to start buying elections, buying the media and buying candidates. And they made sure that they had the judicial backing that they needed. This is not an intrinsic aspect of democratic capitalism. It is possible to run a society very similar to our own but with substantially less political influence for the wealthy. Over the long haul, campaign finance reform would have a substantial impact. I think this is a much bigger deal today than what the Democratic coalition looks like.

There is a sense in which you might be right on the coalition angle though, but then we’re not talking about affirmative action. We’re talking about the Civil Rights Act. LBJ opened the door for the southern strategy and the Republican party did not pass up the opportunity. Maintaining that blue collar coalition you’re talking about would have required southern whites and it would have meant decades more of Jim Crow. Can’t say I have too many regrets.

27

Alex 04.19.11 at 9:10 pm

The answer is here: Should we feel better if a possible future president is not ignorant about the preeminent environmental danger facing our planet, but only calculating or cowardly? To paraphrase Pawlenty, I don’t know the answer to that one.

Well, in that case he’s as complicit as ever. The only possible answer is “Jesus Christ, no”. Someone who knows the consequences of their actions but does them anyway takes on greater moral opprobrium than someone who is only ignorant. The cop-out demonstrates that he’s as much a moral cretin as always, and also that he’s as politically effective as always. “ooh, I don’t know that answer to that one” – the force and effect of a lightly poached egg.

Also, Chris @ 23: This could be productively named the “lump of freedom fallacy”, couldn’t it?

28

Phil 04.19.11 at 9:39 pm

If the Republicans are irresponsible, how does that fact make it difficult for Democrats to speak honestly? I would have thought that, if anything, it would make it easy, since they can point out the irresponsibility of the Republicans.

This makes sense as it stands. The element you’re missing out is that TPers speak irresponsibly – that is, they scaremonger, distort and mislead – and are believed. (Partly by their own tame media, admittedly.) Their success in setting the terms of the debate makes it difficult for Democrats to “speak honestly” in the sense of following their own agenda, and pretty near impossible to “speak honestly” in the sense of admitting that any criticism from the Right is ever valid. They poison debate twice over, in other words. If the WaPo is waking up to the sheer intellectual toxicity of the TP and the Right’s longer-term need to have people around who (a) can do sums and (b) care about making true statements, then I’ll be very pleasantly amazed.

29

Henri Vieuxtemps 04.19.11 at 11:12 pm

@26 This is not an intrinsic aspect of democratic capitalism. It is possible to run a society very similar to our own but with substantially less political influence for the wealthy.

May I ask why you think that it’s not an intrinsic aspect? And what exactly does it mean “to run a society”; isn’t it just a matter of an equilibrium of various forces in it?

30

Tony Lynch 04.19.11 at 11:21 pm

First, a prediction is not a fact, however it is arrived at.

Isn’t it a fact that if, tomorrow, at one standard gravity, I set to boil water, it will boil at 100 Celsius?

Of course it is.

One can it seems – science does all the time – properly predict facts. (And a good thing too, if we want, say, the bridge to stay up)

31

Ted Lemon 04.19.11 at 11:54 pm

It seems to me that while it’s true that the TPers do poison the debate with disinformation, this is not in and of itself evidence that responding honestly is the wrong approach. It’s certainly true that responding honestly will draw further disinformative frame-stretching. It remains to be proven that this is sustainable in the face of relentless honesty: as far as I can tell, no-one has ever tried it.

If in fact we want to have a constructive public debate, the debate has to happen between people who are debating honestly. If someone is not debating honestly, you can’t force them to do otherwise, but if you don’t debate honestly either, then there aren’t any participants in the debate who are doing it, and hence it’s not accurate to say that the other side is the one poisoning the debate. Only when one’s own conscience is clear is this criticism valid.

BTW, I don’t mean to say that nobody is trying to be honest in this debate. What I do mean is that politicians by and large are not trying to be honest. It’s not enough for the likes of Krugman and Reich to do it.

32

John Quiggin 04.20.11 at 12:35 am

“If you want to stay in the metaphor, you can go shopping for breakfast because you are hungry now, or you can go shopping for tomorrow’s breakfast today, because you assume that you’ll be hungry tomorrow.”

Your analogy is perfect, Oliver. As it implies, the Republican policy line is to eat everything in the larder today, because we know we’re hungry, but not to bother shopping for tomorrow, because the science isn’t settled.

33

Antti Nannimus 04.20.11 at 1:25 am

Hi,

One can it seems – science does all the time – properly predict facts. (And a good thing too, if we want, say, the bridge to stay up)

Very droll, Tony. I assume you are referring to the the evening rush hour in Minnesota, on August 1, 2007, when the I-35 freeway bridge suddenly collapsed, killing 13 people and injuring 145. That happened, of course, under the gubernatorial administration of Tim “Tea-Paw” Pawlenty, after he had appointed his incompetent Lieutenant-Governor Carol Molnau, soon to be ejected by the MN Legislature, as the MN Department of Transportation Commissioner.

Thanks for pointing out this delicious irony. Gravity–It’s The Law!

Have a nice day,
Antti

34

someguy 04.20.11 at 2:38 am

The current most popular progressive position regarding long term structural deficits is we are in recession we need to increase deficit spending and it is pointless to even talk about a problem that is so far off. Trust us we will fix it when we get there. See Atrios or MY.

The Ryan plan has all sorts of problems but as an actual plan to deal with the problem it is an excellent starting point. Since it as an actual plan with some actual ideas, agree or disagree with the ideas, some of which if implemented would actually help reduce that structural deficit, it is infinitely better than don’t worry trust us we will do something about health care costs at some point and that will solve everything.

Sure some of the ideas are wrong we will need to broadly increase taxes not make more cuts for the top 1% and maybe we shouldn’t be worrying about long term deficits right now, but again a plan with some actual ideas, that would reduce the long term structural deficit, is an infinitely better starting point for reducing long term deficits than let’s not even talk about it.

35

Omega Centauri 04.20.11 at 3:08 am

(4) Yes. The terrible truth is that 99% of humans think with their amygdalas, and only engage the logic circuits in order to justify their gut feeling. The R’s have mercilessly and skillfully exploited this fact for decades.

(8) The obviously crazy lies of the right, do cause the D’s to seriously pull their punches. The D’s feel (with some justification), the the Overton window -especially as percieved by the punditocracy has been moved so that a truthful stand will be percieved as batshit-crazy-left. So they hedge their bets, and try to triangulate.

(various) Dems don’t challenge R’s on economics, because they know the R’s have the amygdala mindshare. They just know you can’t win a political argument when you have to pit logical analysis, versus the voters gut. So they let the morality play narrative stand unchallenged.

(31)” It’s certainly true that responding honestly will draw further disinformative frame-stretching. It remains to be proven that this is sustainable in the face of relentless honesty: as far as I can tell, no-one has ever tried it.”
I only wish. My reading of the last couple of decades is that the coalition of R politicians, and conservative thinktanks, plus corporate media has been pursuing just such a strategy with great success for decades. We still haven’t seen a wakeup call loud enough to bring the voters out of their stupor. I’m beginning to think nothing can do that.

36

Omega Centauri 04.20.11 at 3:09 am

Darn those auto strikeouts. I should learn to nevr ever use a hyphen.

37

glenn 04.20.11 at 12:16 pm

Antti – you can’t see Russia from Minnesota, but you can see Canada!

I think the Republicans have just backed themselves into a corner; they cannot admit the truth – as Science is proving – and save face at the same time. And to them, saving face is ALOT more important than actually owning up to being wrong/admitting willful ignorancy.

38

chris 04.20.11 at 1:30 pm

This is not an intrinsic aspect of democratic capitalism. It is possible to run a society very similar to our own but with substantially less political influence for the wealthy.

Citation needed.

39

Ben S 04.20.11 at 5:57 pm

Republicans put politics and winning elections and legislation over the truth, this country, or the long-term prosperity of Americans.

40

Tony Lynch 04.21.11 at 12:00 am

Well Antti, I wasn’t referring to that bridge collapse. I was simply making the point that there is no mileage for climate skepticism based on the claim that “predictions are not facts”.

I probably didn’t make the point in the best way, which is that science is not simply a summary of past experiences/events &c, but is essentially dispositional. It allows us to do more than sumarise the past, it enables us to make warranted predictions (and retrodictions too). (This is what makes it interesting and valuable.)

Instead I pointed to the emptiness of “fact” as it it used to make the “predictions are not facts” claim.

After it – “It is a fact that this is my prediction…”; “I predict that the facts will be these…”; “I predicted this fact…” &.

Have a nice day too.

41

Barry 04.21.11 at 1:55 pm

Antti: “The Ryan plan has all sorts of problems but as an actual plan to deal with the problem it is an excellent starting point.”

Since this is a lie, I’ll forgo dealing with the rest of your comment.

42

Antti Nannimus 04.21.11 at 3:03 pm

Hi Barry,

The quote you attribute to me is not mine. In fact, I believe the Ryan plan is completely a non-starter for any purpose. I would be grateful if you would check your source for this attributed quote.

Have a nice day,
Antti

43

someguy 04.21.11 at 4:48 pm

Ben S,

Attempting to change Medicare into a voucherized program and holding the voucher increase to the rate of inflation is pretty brave.

I expect that Democrats will cry the Rethugs want to kill grandma and crush the idea.

But the attempt really won’t qualify as politically expedient.

If a proposal is popular and you disagree with it. you call it cynical political expediency.

But when it is unpopular you point out that it is the product of an insane ideology. That is what this situation calls for.

44

someguy 04.21.11 at 4:50 pm

Barry,

I know you cannot tell the difference but that was an at least semi-informed opinion not a factual claim. So, it really doesn’t qualify as a lie.

45

Barry 04.21.11 at 6:00 pm

someguy 04.21.11 at 4:50 pm

” Barry,

I know you cannot tell the difference but that was an at least semi-informed opinion not a factual claim. So, it really doesn’t qualify as a lie.”

Oh, don’t play that S&P game – ‘it was all just our opinion’. The Ryan plan was BS, and even aside from the ridiculous politics, it still required magic numbers to make it work.

46

Barry 04.21.11 at 6:00 pm

Sorry, Antti.

47

chris 04.21.11 at 6:01 pm

@Barry: The *plan* was full of lies. The *statement that the plan would make a good starting point* is a value judgment and, as such, has no truth value.

I happen to disagree with it, but that doesn’t make it false in any meaningful sense.

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Robert Waldmann 04.23.11 at 11:59 pm

I’m afraid you have fallen for Ballance squared. The full doctrine of the Post uner the Hiatt regency is not “opinions on shape of planet differ. Both sides have a point” but “opinions on shape of planet differ. Opinions on whether both sides have a point differ. Both opinions on the second question are equally legitimate.” An unsigned editorial has correctly explained that Mitch McConnell is the perfect illustration of everything which was wrong with Washington in 2010 (ah good times when obstructionism was the worst think Washington had to offer).

I think you are assuming that Hiatt has a world view and at least a trace of integrity. The fact that he notes today that Republicans aren’t reality based does not give us any information about whether he will assume tomorrow that they are just as reality based as the Democrats. An anomaly

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Robert Waldmann 04.24.11 at 12:01 am

sorry
an aberration requires a norm, a standard, something with which a column can be inconsistent. Hiatt reconciles all contradictions by embodying them.

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Robert Waldmann 04.24.11 at 2:48 am

OK now I have another explanation (e is taken I will call this explanation palomino)

palomino) Hiatt is sending a message to Republicans. He is quite irritated that they didn’t tell him that the Ryan plan is not serious. They presented it (not just to the public but also to him) as a a policy proposal and not as an effort to set out a bargaining position as far right as possible. Therefore the Washington Post editorial said it was a good place to start (and for balance that taxes should be higher than proposed by Ryan.

So Hiatt has egg alll over his face. His message is that they had a deal — Republicans can make absurd arguments and proposals and the Washington Post editorial board won’t call them out, or endorse their nonsense. The safe word is “palomino.” It means ” give us a pass on this one.”

But nooo they didn’t warn him, so now he will punish them.

This fits Brad DeLong’s explanation of how he came to hate the Washington Post

“So what was [Washington Post reporter Clay] Chandler doing? The assessment of the Treasury public relations staff was that Chandler thought that he had not been getting enough private advance leaks from the Treasury, and was sending us a message: “Nice little Treasury Department you have there. Wouldn’t it be a shame if anything happened to it? I’m the Washington Post’s chief economics correspondent. I deserve more private leaks. Or I can hurt you: I’ll become D’Amato’s partisan mouthpiece.””

http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2006/01/what_is_wrong_w.html

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