Thursday, March 1, 2012

Read Stuff, You Should

Happy Birthday to Jack Davenport, 39. I liked Coupling quite a bit.

And now, the good stuff:

1. What Krugman said. Also, what DeLong said. Look, either (for example) there are or aren't people in the Netherlands with anti-euthanasia wristbands because old people in that nation are getting bumped off against their will all the time. And it either is or isn't true that one party invests quite a bit of their rhetoric, and who knows how much of their policy preferences, in fantasies like that. If the latter is true, you really do have to call them on it to be neutral. Once again: in my view, there's nothing inherent to conservative thought or to the GOP that they'll go off the deep end, but it's pretty clear where they are right now. There really is something seriously out-of-whack with today's GOP, and the first people in line who should care and try to do something about it should be conservatives.

2. Stan Collender makes the non-Keynesian case for why the federal government should be borrowing more, now.

3. Paul Waldman has a fun prediction of future Republican mischief. Sounds plausible!

4. Good reminder from Mark Mellman of the importance of question wording.

5. Immigration thoughts from Matt Yglesias. To give my own policy preferences for a change...I'm very wary of work permits; I'd rather just let more people in to stay. As far as the maximum number the US could comfortably absorb -- I sort of suspect that an open door policy would self-regulate, in that if people were coming faster than the US could handle, the word would get out and the flow would slow. These are not, to be sure, popular views.

6. Suzy Khimm updates the housing market.

7. And Lynn Vavreck on Santorum's appeal and it's dangers.


  1. there's nothing inherent to conservative thought or to the GOP that they'll go off the deep end, but it's pretty clear where they are right now.

    It depends how you define "conservative thought." If you define it as a long, exemplary intellectual tradition stretching back to Buckley and Kirk and beyond, then there's no reason it has to go nuts or take refuge in demonstrable falsehoods. If, on the other hand, you define it as the set of policy ideas underlying the views of most people who call themselves conservative today, it's in deep trouble (intellectually, if not electorally). The trouble really began in the 1980s, when the movement embraced both religious fundamentalism and economic quackery. Today, global warming denial and the supply-side myth aren't aberrations but among the movement's central dogmas. Conservatives who make even modest pushback against these ideas become immediate pariahs in the movement, as we've seen with Jim Manzi and Bruce Bartlett. The rise of irrationalism among today's GOP has been a gradual process, but it was an outgrowth of what's been going on since at least the Reagan Revolution. Santorum and Romney are no Ronald Reagan, but in an important sense he did start us down that path.

  2. And a key part of the story is the way in which the other political party has developed. Rather than developing into an unashamedly social democratic party (of a variety more associated with ideological evolution in Europe), the Democrats continue to push hardest for policy based on moderate-to-conservative liberalism. That then leaves no room for a relatively moderate Republican to stake out a position that both maintains partisan differentiation (and thus a justification for wanting one's own party and coalition of supporters to be in power as opposed to the other) and supports reasonable policies. Once one turns reasonable -- such as say with David Frum -- it's very hard to any longer justify backing the GOP, except lingering tribalism and that you culturally prefer the social groups it represents, which can never exactly be stated forthrightly.

  3. I think the real issue is that there is a conflation of terms here, because a vaguely liberal MSM and a very liberal academia have been the gatekeepers of discourse, and have done so in a very bad way.

    Republicans get called "crazy" when they say reasonable (but arguable) things, like we should get rid of affirmative action, deport illegal immigrants, or that the individual mandate is unconstitutional. We even have an example in this thread where Kylopod talks about the "supply-side myth."

    As a result, two things happen:

    1. Republicans conclude that there's no point talking to Democrats, because "You'll call me racist whatever my sign says." This has led to the rise of partisan media, and an echo chamber where they do not hear the best Democratic arguments (and vice versa). As a result, both sides think they have won the intellectual argument and the other side are fools or frauds.

    2. If you're going to be called crazy regardless of what you say, you may as well talk REALLY crazy. And the MSM or academia calling someone crazy has little consequence in Republican circles because they have lost all credibility in that way. So there is a rush to be more and more outlandish because it gets publicity, and because there is a lack of effective gatekeepers on the right, as the right media is still in its infancy.

    The right does need more effective gatekeepers. That will happen over time. But equally, the current state of the GOP is not particularly far out of whack. Given the attitude around here to anything even vaguely right of centre, there is more than a hint of concern trolling about your attitude.

    1. Well, this unfortunately illustrates the kind of split that has been developing in American politics (and to a greater extent than we care to admit, America in general) over the last generation or so. I guess if you really feel that the current GOP isn't very far out of whack, then you are right that progressives simply have nothing to say to you. There isn't any point. To an increasing extent, Democrats overall have nothing to say to you.

      That is altogether too bad, and doesn't herald good things for the future. No, I don't think there is going to be blood and violence and civil war and riots and death. But there might be an end to the republic as we have known it.

      That doesn't mean America won't exist or that there will even be much formal change -- after all, the republic as we know it is always changing, always fading away, and another one is always appearing. But we have reached a point where the political cultures and institutions that have defined political life in America for a long time appear doomed as much by changes in actor orientations as by inability to deal with the real problems the country faces. We now have major groups in the political life of the nation that simply have nothing to say to each other. I don't think it will end in fire (to quote Babylon 5) but it seems that it will inevitably end in tears for at least one side, and probably for both sides and the entire country.

      That's a pity. But it would seem there is nothing for it.

    2. Anon #2:
      But, that's just it. You say "given the attitude around here to anything vaguely right of centre," playing the victim card. But, and maybe us left-of-center types are simply blinded on this, what are we supposed to think of the modern right?

      I just cut a bunch of right-slamming from this comment. But I want to engage your comment, so I'll proceed with this. Your comment implies that left and right are equally nuts. One of the problems a lot of folks have is with this sense that both sides (whether parties or ideologies) are the same--or equally to blame or whatever-- for the differences between them. I reject the notion that there's any rule that says that both sides have to be equally to blame. I don't see why that has to be; it's perfectly plausible that one side could be deviating further from some "middle" than the other.

      Now, if the forces you identify are working as you say, then it seems perfectly possible that Dems would think it's the Reps and Reps would think its the Dems. But, we also have to recognize that it's also perfectly possible that when Kylopod says "the supply side myth" (or whatever attack one side might lob at the other along these lines of "you lie or are just plain wrong"), that such an attack might be both attack and true. Supply side economics COULD be a myth. Climate change COULD be a myth.

      Are we then saying it's impossible for anyone caught up in this situation (ie, a D or an R, a progressive or a conservative) to be able to accurately separate truth from fiction? If we are, then I would think democracy is just a terrible idea. If we aren't, then we could say that there are issues that separate the sides that are normative and unresolvable (prayer in schools, for example) and issues that are empirical, and some proof should be able to shed light.

      I'm having trouble finishing this thought without it somehow degrading into "global warming denialism, supply side economics, gay threat, blah, blah, blah," so I'll leave off here. Rather than pick a fight, I'll just say that what evidence I've seen points strongly in my side's favor. I'd like to think that is not selective memory or reception/acceptance, or any other bias, of course. But, I think it's a very real problem when folks on one side are, to the other side, simply insane. Not reasonably opposed to them. Not in favor of other priorities. But actually crazy.

    3. Firstly, I'm not trying to play the victim card. I was merely noting that this blog has a definite partisan skew (which is fine). If a conservative blogger laments the state of the Democrats, I would also take that with a pinch of salt.

      Secondly, I was not attempting to imply that left and right are equally nuts. My point was more that Republicans think you are just as detached from reality as you think they are. You are quite right that there is a "fact-of-the-matter," at least on some issues, but the problem is that it's really hard to establish these things. For example, what would it mean for supply-side economics to be a myth? How would you set about convincing someone who disagreed with you? The problem is not that people cannot separate truth from fiction, but that these are complicated tangles of empirical and normative claims which all rest on each other. Of course you think the evidence points in your side's favour, but I promise you your opponents think it points in their favour, in part because evidence itself is always interpreted based on some theory, and in part because no-one has all the evidence. You are kidding yourself if you think your beliefs are unbiased, because we all are, unavoidably so.

      Moreover, I don't believe that you really mean that your opponents are insane or crazy. How does this mental illness manifest itself outside their politics? What you really mean is that their political positions are so far from yours that you consider them incomprehensible - in Anastasios's terms "nothing to say to each other." Well, OK. But that cuts both ways.

      Again, this is not to say that both sides are equally wrong. Obviously, I think the conservative position is broadly correct - but, like you, I am biased. Rather, the point is that democracy only works if you work to narrow the inferential distances between groups, i.e. to speak in a common language and shared discourse. For many years, the (broadly liberal) media attempted to shut conservative voices out of public discourse, and hence marginalise conservatism. This has served to turn the inferential distance into a chasm, which is only growing wider thanks to partisan media and the internet. And of course it grows wider still every time you refer to your opponents as "crazy."

    4. Anon: Thanks for taking up my response, and keeping it civil (as I meant my response to be).

      The problem I'm having, though, is that I really and truly do see one side as simply ignoring facts. While I recognize that I could see that as part of an in-group/out-group reaction, or because I consume information from biased sources, or whatever, where I'm struggling is with what to do with those whose disagreement I cannot fathom as coming from any place other than gainsaying (or corruption, but I just ignore that part on both sides for the purposes of this discussion). As you say, their political positions are, to me, incomprehensible. Well, how do we separate out "wrong" from "incomprehensible?"

      What is a person to do in such a circumstance? On the one hand, I could recognize that my media filters and whatever are biased, and expose myself to broader influences. I could do independent research. But, let's say I've done that. And I come to a conclusion that no reasonable reading of readily available facts can support the opponents' point of view. I mean, if we take steps to verify that our perceived facts are indeed facts, and we're left at the conclusion that they are, what are we to make of our opponents? I accept the idea that my beliefs may be biased, but I also believe that there are questions with a knowable true answer to them (even knowable by a biased person). Because, if there isn't a knowable truth, then there's no sense in caring about politics.

      Now, of course, we don't engage in this process. We take all kinds of shortcuts. So, there's a lot of name calling (and the internet only makes it worse) and tribalism and filtering going on. But, I'm still left at the problem of what to do with positions that seem, to me, to simply be in denial of reality. Calling them "an honest difference of opinion" seems really disingenuous.

      For me, the most concrete example is global warming. As a liberal Democrat, I could understand (but disagree with) the conservative/Republican position were it global warming is real, but it's too late to do anything or rising sea levels are going to hurt people who aren't us or we don't know if the weather effects will be bad or good in the US or the costs of responding outweigh the benefits. But the position that "it's not manmade" is, to my eyes, just simply preposterous. Again, I could be biased. But, I've got a little scientific knowledge (less now than I used to), and the theory seemed sound. The data I've seen could have been faked, but I don't know why they would have been. And I have no reason to doubt all the scientists and published articles. So, I'm left with, what to me at least, seems like a fact and what seems to be a party that doesn't differ with mine on reactions to the fact but on whether there are facts.

      I think part of the rub comes down to frustration born out of the response to one of your questions: "how would you set about convincing someone who disagrees with you?" And, perhaps part of the problem lies in the first use of the pronoun you. (Not YOUR problem, but the problem in general) The left and right have tried to convince the other using the logic that makes sense to them. (I'm constantly amazed at the number of conservative comments on news stories about gay marriage that boil down to "gays are sinners in the eyes of the Lord!", wondering if they actually think they've convinced their opponents of anything. "Oh! I didn't know that!") And, for a true believer, they can't fathom another logic. For example, I simply cannot understand my opponents on climate change; I just don't get it. And social conservatives seem to not understand why couching their arguments in religion don't get anywhere with me.

      But, if that's the case, then is there any hope for democracy, or any society?

    5. I'll go along with Anon in that calling people crazy isn't going to promote dialog or cooperation, but it's also true that efforts at dialog and cooperation have been pretty unavailing in recent years. I find it difficult to sympathize with Paul Ryan when he complains that no Democrat is willing to consider his budget plan even as a basis for discussion when pretty much all Democratic proposals have been demonized as socialist government takeovers of this or that. (Remember, Obamacare was first introduced by Republicans as the free-market alternative to Bill and Hillary Clinton's socialist government takeover of healthcare.) Besides, his budget plan didn't cut the deficit; it cut Medicare and then canceled out the potential financial benefit of that by cutting taxes. The Republicans repeatedly stated that the CBO said the plan would cut government spending to 12% of GDP (or whatever the precise number was), when in fact the CBO said that the plan claimed government spending would fall to that level without ever explaining how or why that would happen. Things like that aren't going to garner respect even from neutral observers who bother to look at the facts (and what the CBO actually said is a fact that really isn't subject to interpetation), let alone from partisans on the other side. Last summer, the Republicans insisted that a rise in the debt ceiling had to be accompanied by a plan to lower the deficit. Okay, I can see the value of that. I think it would be a mistake to go into austerity prematurely, but there could be value to mapping out how deficit reduction should be done. Boehner showed himself willing to negotiate an agreement with Obama, but the House GOP caucus rejected it and insisted on . . . well, frankly, I just don't understand what they expected to happen. Perhaps that's because of the partisan divide that you mention--which is real, to be sure--but their position caused the downgrading of US debt and nearly pushed us into default. A few, Michele Bachmann prominent among them, spoke as if they favored default. I think it would be pretty difficult to find any economist, Democrat or Republican, who would approve of their behavior. It may be unfair and counterproductive to call them crazy, but after something like that, it should have been predictable.

    6. @Matt Jarvis:

      But the thing is that AGW is not so much a fact as an interpretation of a fact. A fact is something like "today the temperature is 45 degrees Fahrenheit." You can test that with a thermometer. If you add "It would have been 44 degrees Fahrenheit if human beings hadn't burned so much fossil fuels over the past 100 years," that cannot be tested. It relies on modelling assumptions, and extrapolation, in a very complex system. Now, I am not a climate scientist, so I am not in a position to judge that work. I assume that it is carried on in good faith, and I presume that AGW is probably "real." But if someone wants to take a higher degree of scepticism, particularly in light of the past record, that's fine by me.

      But let's call AGW a semi-fact. How many similar semi-facts do liberals deny or ignore? A couple of examples:

      1. The US tax system is more progressive than almost any European country.
      2. There is overwhelming consensus among economists that price floors and ceilings are harmful.
      3. The liberalisation of the 1960s led to a massive breakdown in family life and standards of morality.

      I'm not saying conservatives are perfect. I am saying that the idiots on the other side are terrifying, but the idiots on your own side are no big deal.

      I think this post is very on point on all issues:

      As for the "hope for democracy" - well, of course there is hope. You are quite right that if politics becomes too tribal, democracy doesn't work. But America has not turned into Lebanon or Rwanda yet! We needn't exaggerate.

    7. Anon,

      Interesting points. I agree, as I have said, that we aren't to Lebanon or Rwanda, and won't get there, I hope. We will, however, get to a very bad place. Sigh. I just don't see any way out of this that doesn't involve a lot of anger and hatred and a lot of people passing from the scene (by which I don't mean a war or violence, but rather that our current problems won't go away until a lot of people die and take their opinions with them). I don't relish that ... waiting for people to die in order to solve problems isn't pleasant, and I am not advocating celebrating their death much less hurrying them along. But, frankly, it's probably the way this is all going to work itself out.

      As for the three points you bring up with regard to liberal blindness:

      1) I'm not an expert in those matters, but I guess most liberals that are would respond with a slew of facts and figures to refute the assertion. If you want to call this a liberal version of AGW denial, I don't agree but I see where you are coming from;

      2) Only a very small number of people on the extreme left would disagree, and those people have little power in the Democratic party;

      3) Once again, there is broad agreement about the sociological facts, albeit most Democrats would ascribe this more to socio-economic changes rather than government policy or liberal beliefs. After all, this phenomenon is now spreading most rapidly among the white working class, which has little in common culturally or politically with the black urban class of the 1960s (among whom this phenomenon was first noted -- by Democrats like Daniel Patrick Moynihan, among others) but much in common with them in terms of social exclusion and economic desperation. In any case, once again the base phenomenon of family decay and social disruption is one that nearly all Democrats readily acknowledge, far from denying.

    8. "2) Only a very small number of people on the extreme left would disagree, and those people have little power in the Democratic party;"

      So, mainstream Democrats don't favour price ceilings on rent (rent control) and price floors on wages (minimum wages)? Are you quite sure?

      3) There is a difference between "social disruption" which is a woolly phrase that can mean anything, and a breakdown in the standards of morality. Democrats sometimes claim that this breakdown was a good thing, and sometimes pretend that things were always like this. But people's attitudes to sex before marriage, abortion, divorce, etc, have changed profoundly over the past 50 years. As a result, we have more sex before marriage, abortion, divorce, etc. Yet you will never find a Democrat willing to criticise these changes or stand up for traditional morality. Say what you like about Rick Santorum (and he goes way too far for my tastes) but at least he is trying to tackle these issues. Yet he too is described as "crazy" for wanting to undo the damage.

    9. I'm not an economist, but: I'm fairly sure that mainstream economists are split on the merits and effects of minimum wages. So I'd strongly disagree that it's a similar case to, say, the climate stuff. On rent control, I think Anon is correct that mainstream economists are generally against rent control...but no, mainstream Democrats AFAIK don't particular support rent control.

      Oh -- on taxation. It's a very complicated thing to assess relative levels of progressive taxation. However, there was a recent study published about it which found that Europe was generally more progressive -- and it was quickly picked up and cited by the political science blogs (IIRC first the Monkey Cage, and then I cited it), and then on to the liberal blogs (I'm pretty sure that Ezra Klein did an item, don't recall if others did). So a couple of is that I don't think the evidence on this is anywhere near a consensus as far as what the actual facts are; and, the reaction to that paper does not seem consistent with your claim. (BTW: does Obama, for example, say that Europe is more progressive? I hear liberals talking more about now vs. the past than about US vs. Europe, but I could very well be wrong about that).

    10. Anon,

      "Traditional morality?" Here is where, as Matt Jarvis has pointed out above, we enter areas that are normative rather than practical and unresolvable rather than political. If you feel like progressives stop listening when you use phrases like that -- you are right. As for Democrats, however, many have and continue to invoke traditional moral stances. Where the difference likely comes in is that you seem to be invoking an integrated world infused with these values, a world that no longer exists and to which you wish to return. Democrats in general, it is true, don't think like that. Many believe this world never existed, as you say. Others believe the trade-offs that have been made are worth it. Almost all believe "returning" to a world dominated by such values is impossible at best and a dangerous distraction at worst. So I think although progressives will not listen to discussions of traditional morality many Democrats will listen with sympathy. If, however, you press for a "return" to such values as a key component of answering present problems, then you are quite right that many moderate Democrats and many Independents as well will see you as sadly, and perhaps dangerously, out of touch with reality.

  4. There have been some awesome threads here lately; this is certainly one. The arguments here are very impressive; imho they all miss a huge elephant in the room, but then, so does everyone else. First, I wish to note that I read DeLong's argument and then several dozen comments.

    Brad DeLong is a really smart dude. He's got lots of really smart commenters who throw out pithily hilarious observations, many I didn't foresee. The first couple are wonderful. The next several are...hmmm. Eventually I find my sympathy turning to malice, for, while I vainly regard myself smarter than the average bear, such conversations can be intellectually threatening (as can, for that matter, conversations here).

    Its really a great shame that more folks in our generation haven't read Dale Carnegie's classic "How to Win Friends and Influence People", thinking I suppose it is sort of quaint and dated. When you consider that Carnegie was a small-time self-help guy in NYC when he wrote it, and from that platform it would come to be the 3rd-most read book in history (behind only the Bible and the Sears Catalog), he must have been on to something. If you read the book, you know what it is: you win friends by treating others with the respect they (likely erroneously) believe they deserve.

    So DeLong tells us that the Right was intolerably idiotic when he was in DC. I think DeLong is smart, he's probably correct. How can those folks endure their idiocy? Cue Carnegie: they think they're smart. AGW-deniers, old testament literalists, the rest of the intellectual clown show on the right, surely they know? Again - they think they're smart. Read Carnegie's book, if you haven't. The dittoheads? Ditto, they think they're smart.

    At the risk of being inflammatory but mustering a faint defense for the intellectual dregs in the Republican tent: truth is, the academic intellectual left isn't really helping matters, seen from a Carnegie perspective. So the pristine pedigreed Matt Jarvis or Jonathan Bernstein or Brad DeLong gnashes their teeth and screams at the illiterate ambulatory hamburgers on the American right, "Why oh why are you people so dumb?"

    Once more, over to you, Dale Carnegie: don't think that's really gonna get you anywhere.

    But which side is truly willing to meet the other in the middle, especially respecting the other's (seemingly) irrational Dale Carnegie-esque desire to seem smart?

    That's why we're screwed.

    1. Just to overclarify: suppose I were in conflict with one such as Professor DeLong, Bernstein or Jarvis, in the course of which they declared me an idiot. Assume further - as I suppose virtually all of us would - that their CVs give them the right to be considered pretty smart. In this frame, a smart guy would have declared me an idiot, which is pretty much tantamount to: I'm an idiot.

      However, arguably the most influential non-merchanidising/non-theological book in history is framed on the notion that: no one thinks they're an idiot

      And the rest is history, or, if you prefer, the daily Rush Limbaugh radio show, noon to 3 PM EST.

    2. CSH, That's a useful corrective to a particular failing of some liberal elites (but not so much Democratic politicians, I would argue) who can be needlessly rude or impolitic or 'shrill.' (And I've only known Carnegie's book secondhand; you've moved me to check it out directly!)

      But I think we can also agree that these highly educated, let's-say aggressively rational and self-satisfied group of people are a small minority of supporters and associates of the Democratic Party and perhaps even of the public sphere in general.

      At the least, I'd argue that the analogous failing on the right is much more inflammatory and pervasive (including crucially seeping into the rhetoric and views of sitting major politicians). Some liberal elite might act pretentiously and disrespectfully call people stupid/idiotic or irrational (alternatively, toward right-of-center elites, they'll charge them with bad motives: selfishness, greed, unethical conduct, etc.). That makes the liberal a careless and self-sabotaging jerk.

      But too many on the right of center find myriad ways to deem others un-American or evil, to deeply condemn their opponents in terms uncomfortably close to charges of treason or in moral terms rising to the theological/metaphysical. Cultural disagreement and even resentment is completely fair game for politics, but it's truly staggering how quickly the GOP-sphere moves so quickly to total condemnation.

      So I agree with you to some extent (though I think it's telling that you have to point to bloggers/academics -- not real powerbrokers). But in the context of the whole sphere of political discourse, these perhaps typical flaws of the liberal-elite disposition are not the striking thing about the contemporary situation.

    3. PF, thanks for the thoughtful reply, I think I agree with much of what you say, though I'd add a couple of thoughts:

      First, the liberal blogger/academic is important, to the extent that the powerbroker is tuned in to what they are saying. I don't know if anyone on Team Obama reads this blog, but we're certain they're tuned into what Sullivan is writing, so at a minimum as a second-order effect, what's said here is at least moderately influential. Whatever the actual level of engagement, its certainly greater than what was found in the Bush 43 Administration or would have been found in a McCain Administration, no?

      Second, I apologize if I gave the impression that the liberal intellectual elite was a jerk for calling his/her opponents stupid. I don't personally blame them for that...let's face it, a lot of folks on the retrograde right are really really stupid!!!
      It may be somewhat impolitic to call those folks stupid, but I certainly sympathize, if I were in their shoes I'm sure I'd do much the same.

      Finally, I find it interesting that you point to the culture wars, since I think that's an important aspect of this system. If a knuckle-dragging dittohead and Brad DeLong disagree on climate policy, the dittohead will consider himself smart (cause everyone does), though its awfully difficult to reconcile that your adversary, Professor DeLong, is stupid in this case.

      Next best thing, in that situation, is saying that such a liberal adversary is un-American. Not dumb, but obviously not on our side! From there, its not a far leap to assume that in some sort of mad-sciency way someone like DeLong is using his considerable intellect to foment a globalist conspiracy at the expense of the good old fashioned USA that the dittohead loves! Its not as good as thinking your opponent dumb, but its probably the next best thing.

  5. Hmmm...trying to figure out how to respond to several very good comments w/out turning into a post-length response. I wish I had more time.

    But: Anon 8:45: I really strongly disagree on this. I don't think you'll find me calling people "crazy" for opposing affirmative action, immigration, or ACA. I call people "crazy" who talk about oldsters in the Netherlands walking around with wristbands to keep themselves safe from marauding Kevorkians, when no such thing is happening. Or who adopt any number of other things that are basically similar. And as a (trying to be) responsible observer and analysis -- *not* as a partisan -- it's part of my job to assess whether or not there's equivalency. As I've said several times now, it's my sense that there is a rough equivalency in terms of generating junk like that, but there just aren't any Santorum or Palin or Bachmann counterparts amplifying the liberal versions of the Netherlands thing.

    I mean...I heard (ordinary) people on the left speculating that Cheney would launch a coup rather than let the Democrats take office, and other junk like that. But you just don't hear stuff like that out of Democratic politicians. You don't hear Democratic pols running against W. because he has czars. Or uses a teleprompter.

  6. My theory is that current GOP politicians propgandize "crazy" positions and talking points not because they are conservative but because the are heirs to the Southern political tradition. The current paranoia advocacy of the GOP is very much like the demagougery that came out of Southern politicians when they were defending slavery before the Civil War or Jim Crow during the Civil Rights era. The problem is not with the conservative poltiical tradition, its with the Southern political tradition.

    1. It's also simply proven to be good negotiation strategy. Some people on the right believe everything they say, but a not inconsiderable portion driving the rhetoric in the media know that it's a good way to shift the center of gravity of the politically possible.


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