This Is Really Weird

Look, I know this isn’t earth-shattering, but it is really weird.  I was reading Dave Weigel at Slate (“The Week That Everybody Hated Vox”), and in the first paragraph, he links to two older stories, one in WaPo about Ezra Klein (and other male bloggers) and another on Ann Friedman’s blog about Shani Hilton (and other female bloggers).  Virtually the same quote appears in each article, one attributed to Klein and the other attributed to Hilton:

“I came here, and I had no professional affiliation. I just had a blog that was mine, but I came out here and was trained as a magazine writer, and that was just a much more formalized way of journalism. You made calls. People answered calls. You took down what was said in a respectable account, and that began to influence my blogging. It became a lot less of an ‘Ezra affair.’”

“I came here, and I had no professional affiliation. I was just a contributor to a group blog, but I came out here and was trained as a magazine writer and editor. You made calls. People answered calls. You took down what was said in a respectable account, and that began to influence my work. But it was never a ‘Shani affair.’”

I just can’t figure out how this came to be and who is plagiarizing whom.


Quote of the Day

“Exactly where Mitt Romney falls on the ideological spectrum – if he falls anywhere on it at all – is a mystery for the ages. He made some post-election comments, intended for an audience of donors and no one else, that suggest contempt for those who utilize government assistance programs, but mainly he was an opportunist. In Massachusetts, he said what moderates and liberals wanted to hear, and as a candidate for the Republican nomination, he said what conservatives wanted to hear. And as a major party presidential nominee, he was left with almost nothing to say. And now he’s going back to CPAC for a completely unnecessary encore. He’s done running for office and he doesn’t need to pander anymore.”

Steve Kornacki, “It’s OK to stop pretending, Mitt,” Salon

Quote of the Day

“What’s more, the right thinks long-term, and if you look at the long-term, the whole ugly ‘fiscal cliff’ standoff was a win-win for conservatives, no matter what their passing defeats in this week’s deal. The more Washington looks dysfunctional, the more it sows dissatisfaction with the very idea of a Federal government. Yes, Democrats and the White House can argue that polls show that the Republicans would be getting most of the blame if Congress couldn’t reach agreement on the ‘fiscal cliff.’ But that’s short-term liberal wishful thinking. Long-term, this intractable dispute has undermined Americans’ faith in government, period, and the voters’ plague-on-all-your-houses view of Washington is overall a resounding ideological win for a party that wants to dismantle government, the GOP.”  Emphasis added.

Frank Rich, New York Magazine

The Best Article in a Decade

Wherever you live on the political spectrum, you absolutely must, must read Bruce Bartlett’s truly amazing article, “Revenge of the Reality-Based Community,” in The American Conservative.

He talks about the censorship that the right, especially Rupert Murdoch, has tried to impose on him and about how this former supply-sider has come to agree with Paul Krugman on how to deal with the Great Recession.

A little background if you don’t know Bartlett.  He worked for Congressman Jack Kemp, for Heritage, in the second-term Reagan White House, at Treasury under Bush 41, for Cato, and wrote for all the top-line conservative publications.

Some excepts:

“My book, ImpostorHow George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy, was published in February 2006.  I had been summarily fired by the think tank I worked for back in October 2005.  Although the book was then only in manuscript, my boss falsely claimed that it was already costing the organization contributions.  He never detailed, nor has anyone, any factual or analytical error in the book.

“Among the interesting reactions to my book is that I was banned from Fox News.  My publicist was told that orders had come down from on high that it was to receive no publicity whatsoever, not even attacks.  Whoever gave that order was smart; attacks from the right would have sold books.  Being ignored was poison for sales.

“I later learned that the order to ignore me extended throughout Rupert Murdoch’s empire.  For example, I stopped being quoted in the Wall Street Journal.  Awhile back a reported who left the Journal confirmed to me that the paper had given her orders not to mention me.  Other dissident conservatives, such as David Frum and Andrew Sullivan, have told me that they are banned from Fox as well.  More epistemic closure.

“Annoyingly, however, I found myself joined at the hip to Paul Krugman, whose analysis [of the economic meltdown] was identical to my own.  I had previously viewed Krugman as an intellectual enemy and attacked him rather colorfully in an old column that he still remembers.

“For the record, no one has been more correct in his analysis and prescriptions for the economy’s problems than Paul Krugman.  The blind hatred for him on the right simply pushed me further away from my old allies and comrades.

“The final line for me to cross in complete alienation from the right was my recognition that Obama is not a leftist.  In fact, he’s barely a liberal — and only because the political spectrum has moved so far to the right that moderate Republicans from the past are now considered hardcore leftists by right-wing standards today.  Viewed in historical context, I see Obama as actually being on the center-right.

“At this point, I lost every last friend I had on the right.  Some have been known to pass me in silence at the supermarket or even to cross the street when they see me coming.  People who were as close to me as brothers and sisters have disowned me.

“So here we are, post-election 2012.  All the stupidity and closed-mindedness that right-wingers have displayed over the last 10 years has come back to haunt them.

The economy continues to conform to textbook Keynesianism.  We still need more aggregate demand, and the Republican idea that tax cuts for the rich will save us becomes more ridiculous by the day.

“At least a few conservatives now recognize that Republicans suffer for epistemic closure.  They were genuinely shocked at Romney’s loss because they ignored every poll not produced by a right-wing pollster such as Rasmussen or approved by right-wing pundits such as the perpetually wrong Dick Morris.  Living in the Fox News cocoon, most Republicans had no clue that they were losing or that their ideas were both stupid and politically unpopular.

“I’ve paid a heavy price, both personal and financial, for my evolution from comfortably within the Republican Party and conservative movement to a less than comfortable position somewhere on the center-left.  Honest to God, I am not a liberal or a Democrat.  But these days, they are the only people who will listen to me.  When Republicans and conservatives once again start asking my opinion, I will know they are on the road to recovery.”  Emphasis added.

I haven’t had Bartlett’s distinguished career, but his story, especially over the past four years, is my story ideologically and philosophically.


Evidence? We Don’t Need No Stinking Evidence.

From “Grand Old Planet,” Paul Krugman, NYT:

“What was [Sen. Marco] Rubio’s complaint about science teaching? That it might undermine children’s faith in what their parents told them to believe. And right there you have the modern G.O.P.’s attitude, not just toward biology, but toward everything: If evidence seems to contradict faith, suppress the evidence.

“The most obvious example other than evolution is man-made climate change. As the evidence for a warming planet becomes ever stronger — and ever scarier — the G.O.P. has buried deeper into denial, into assertions that the whole thing is a hoax concocted by a vast conspiracy of scientists. And this denial has been accompanied by frantic efforts to silence and punish anyone reporting the inconvenient facts.

“But the same phenomenon is visible in many other fields. The most recent demonstration came in the matter of election polls. Coming into the recent election, state-level polling clearly pointed to an Obama victory — yet more or less the whole Republican Party refused to acknowledge this reality. Instead, pundits and politicians alike fiercely denied the numbers and personally attacked anyone pointing out the obvious; the demonizing of The Times’s Nate Silver, in particular, was remarkable to behold.

“What accounts for this pattern of denial? Earlier this year, the science writer Chris Mooney published ‘The Republican Brain,’ which was not, as you might think, a partisan screed. It was, instead, a survey of the now-extensive research linking political views to personality types. As Mr. Mooney showed, modern American conservatism is highly correlated with authoritarian inclinations — and authoritarians are strongly inclined to reject any evidence contradicting their prior beliefs. Today’s Republicans cocoon themselves in an alternate reality defined by Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, and only on rare occasions — like on election night — encounter any hint that what they believe might not be true.

“And, no, it’s not symmetric. Liberals, being human, often give in to wishful thinking — but not in the same systematic, all-encompassing way.”  Emphasis added.

After the election, Charles Krauthammer said the GOP’s problem was a lack of “delicacy” in their communications.  But it’s really an abundance of delusion in their thinking.


SCOTUS Splits Ideologically on Obamacare Fate

Just as yesterday the justices seemed split along ideological line about whether or not the individual mandate (which requires all Americans to buy health insurance) was constitutional, today they seemed split on what would happen to Obamacare if the mandate is removed.

The liberal members appeared to believe that the law itself could survive, while the conservatives seemed to think that killing the mandate would kill Obamacare entirely.

The Obama administration argued that without the mandate the parts of the law covering those with pre-existing conditions and limiting premium costs for especially sick Americans would have to go as well.

Essentially, the Obama administration took the side of the health insurance industry’s lobbyists, who agreed not to fight Obamacare in exchange for the mandate, which gives them millions of new customers, including many young, healthy people.

You’ll recall that during the 2008 campaign, President Obama himself opposed an individual mandate, while Hillary Clinton supported it.

Conflicts Between Rich and Poor

The new Pew Poll finding that 66% of Americans believe there are “strong” or “very strong” conflicts between rich and poor in this country has gotten a lot of attention.  That percentage has risen 19% in just two years.

Some internals in this new poll behind that overall 66% are worth pointing out.

Even a majority of Republicans (55%) feels this way, as does a majority of conservatives (55%).  Among Democrats, this number rises to 73%, and to 79% among liberals.

While only 55% of Americans 65 and older feel this way, the number jumps to 71% among those 18 to 34.  That means that this growing sense of rich/poor conflict is likely to grow rather than fade.