Thursday, November 18, 2010


From NPR's All Things Considered:

Debt Commission Co-Chairs Won't Bow To Criticism

BLOCK: Let me run by you some criticism from the economist Paul Krugman, writing in The New York Times, who thinks you've got your priorities backward, especially on taxes, that you're stressing lower rates over deficit reduction. He sees this as a major transfer of income upward. He wrote: same old, same old tax cuts for the rich and erosion of the social net. Senator Simpson?

Mr. SIMPSON: Well, I'd love to meet Paul Krugman because I think sometimes he just looks like he's lost his marble. I know he won the Nobel Prize. I respect that. But let me tell you, his ideas are not going to go anywhere in this atmosphere because it's a different time than he wrote before when he was just dinging on George Bush. It was more fun to ding on Bush economically than anybody else and he loved that.

But let me tell you, if he can't realize what we're doing in Social Security where we protect the lowest people in society, the lesser fortunate, grazing the retirement age one year till the year 2050, to 68 because the life expectancy is 76, the demographics of the United States, the fact we can't grow our way out of this with double digit growth for 30 years. What is he speaking of? He's going to lose his relevancy, just as Grover Norquist will lose his.

Listen to the interview and/or read a brief article based on the radio spot

Read the transcript

To be fair, the moderate guy, former Clinton chief of staff Erskine Bowles - it is worth noting that there are no liberals on the commission - goes on to address specifically one of Krugman's criticisms, asserting that closing tax loopholes will actually hit the rich much harder than the middle class. I have no idea if that's actually true or not, but it is a legitimate response. You know, Krugman's got it wrong because he's not fully considering how we're shutting down all these exemptions. Like I said, this may or may not be true. I'd have to actually read the report, and maybe do some research on the federal tax code to know for sure. But Bowles is clearly trying to engage in what academics, college debaters, and lawyers call an argument.

Simpson, in stark contrast to his middle-of-the-road colleague, is just flapping his gums.

Seriously. There is absolutely no relevant content in Simpson's "response" to Krugman's criticisms of the Deficit Commission's preliminary report. And it's not like what Krugman wrote is hard to understand or anything. He's specific and clear. But Simpson essentially punted, opting, instead, for simply trashing his detractor--academics, college debaters, and lawyers call this kind of rhetorical gambit an ad hominem attack; generally this is what a debater resorts to when he's losing, a desperate move for a desperate situation.

I wonder if Simpson even read the column. It sure sounds like he has no idea what NPR's Susan Block is asking him.

But what really gets my blood boiling is that Simpson's remarks are in no way unusual. Politicians almost always talk about economics in this way, vaguely, distractingly, angrily, and without any real substance. It's almost amusing that the press lambastes Sarah Palin for doing the same thing, but her real crime is her ham-handedness about it all: the reality is that what she does clumsily, her political betters do gracefully. So the mainstream news media snickers about her obvious bullshit, and then sit in awe when more establishment-oriented political hacks spew the same bullshit, but far more eloquently.

Fuck man, even NPR, the serious and "liberal" news source, lets these fuckers get away with it. Block does not press Simpson on his obvious evasion in this interview. Score one for Simpson and the right-wing psychos. When the press fails to call these guys on their bullshit, it does nothing less than legitimize their bullshit. That is, when reporters behave as though extraneous commentary is legitimate argumentation, such commentary becomes enshrined as fair and reasonable, resulting in people taking bullshit very seriously.

A debate does not consist solely of one side saying things and then the other side saying things. Usually we call something like that "conversation," but I'm probably being too nice: the kind of debate we encounter in the news is more like four year olds talking at one another, rather than to one another.

You know, like this:

BOY: My mommy's making meat loaf tonight.

GIRL: There's a lizard over there.

BOY: I love meat loaf.

GIRL: Lizards are green.

BOY: Do you like meat loaf?

GIRL: I hate lizards.
How the fuck do our leaders get away with this shit?