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Revenge of the Reality Based Community

Discussion in 'North American Politics' started by Sunstone, Dec 13, 2012.

  1. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
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    #1 Sunstone, Dec 13, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2012
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  2. Willamena

    Willamena Just be there, doing that
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    The guy has a healthy sense of irony, and (I bet) a fantastic sense of humour at parties.
     
  3. Copernicus

    Copernicus Godless Hierophant

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    It was a very interesting article. Fairly long, so most folks probably won't read it. I had mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, Bartlett starts out describing how the GOP moved away from moderate conservatism, leaving him and other like-minded conservatives estranged from the party. The GOP shrank itself down, driven primarily by the Tea Party. It ostracized moderates like him, driving them away from sanity. But the Republican Party is not dead. Gerrymandering by Republican-dominated state legislatures virtually guarantees a Republican lock on the House for the foreseeable future. And we could easily get a Republican president in the next presidential election cycle. As people age, they tend to become more conservative, so the demographics are not hopeless for conservatives.

    However, I don't think of Bartlett as having stood in place while the Republican Party went off on a tangent. The article describes his own shift to the left--especially his embrace of Keynesian economics. In reality, conservative economists have tended to be Keynesians, albeit their instrument of choice has been monetarism--the use of the Fed to regulate the money supply as a means of keeping inflation moderate and employment high. Democrats have leaned in the direction of using fiscal policy--government expansion and contraction to achieve the same effect. Both strategies rely on Keynesian insights into the nature of economies. Republicans have always routinely supported lifting the debt ceiling--until the Obama presidency, that is.

    But Bartlett really became a Democrat with his embrace of Paul Krugman's economics. Krugman is a well-known liberal firebrand, who argues that driving up the deficit is necessary to bring the economy back to an even keel. Not even Obama supports Krugman's liberal "heresies." At this point in time, Krugman is arguing that we are in a "liquidity trap." That is, nothing the Fed can do can shake the economy out of the doldrums. An effective zero prime interest rate won't work, because people deeply believe that the government will ultimately step in to kill inflation. Krugman believes that the public must genuinely fear inflation before it is motivated to get off its duff and start spending money again. I'm not sure that Bartlett buys into that, but his praise of Krugman effectively destroyed all ties with his erstwhile Republican friends, as he himself admitted.
     
    #3 Copernicus, Dec 13, 2012
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  4. Willamena

    Willamena Just be there, doing that
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    Trouble is, they become conservative. Real conservative, not neo-con.
     
  5. Copernicus

    Copernicus Godless Hierophant

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    I agree. I think that most Americans are most comfortable with conservative presidents. First of all, there is the whole "daddy state" metaphor, which tends to trump the "mommy state" of liberals. Given a choice between two fairly equal candidates for President, Americans will prefer the "daddy" candidate. Obama is essentially a moderate Republican who could never make it as a major candidate in the Republican Party. He is stuck with Democrats, and he keeps misunderstanding what the Democratic base is all about. He buys into the moderate Republican political agenda.
     
  6. Daemon Sophic

    Daemon Sophic Avatar in flux

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    I believe it was Stephanie Miller, who, when speaking of conservatives who start to touch reality and look at facts for the first time in their careers.
    "Awwww.. Aren't they so cute, stumbling forward into the light; yawning and rubbing their eyes. Wakey! Wakey!" :rolleyes:

    The first half of the article, discussing the last 12 years of neocon treason was simplistic 'No Duh!' stuff for anyone with more than 2 working neurons between their ears.
    But I was glad to see that he went further in the second half, and realized the history of his erroneous thoughts over the last 40 years. Particularly,

    After careful research along these lines, I came to the annoying conclusion that Keynes had been 100 percent right in the 1930s. Previously, I had thought the opposite. But facts were facts and there was no denying my conclusion. It didn’t affect the argument in my book, which was only about the rise and fall of ideas. The fact that Keynesian ideas were correct as well as popular simply made my thesis stronger.

    I finished the book just as the economy was collapsing in the fall of 2008. This created another intellectual crisis for me. Having just finished a careful study of the 1930s, it was immediately obvious to me that the economy was suffering from the very same problem, a lack of aggregate demand. We needed Keynesian policies again, which completely ruined my nice rise-and-fall thesis. Keynesian ideas had arisen from the intellectual grave.

    The book needed to be rethought and rewritten from scratch in light of new developments. Unfortunately, my publisher insisted on publishing it on schedule. I tried to repair the damage as best I could, but in the end the book was a mishmash of competing ideas with no clear narrative. It sold poorly.

    On the plus side, I think I had a very clear understanding of the economic crisis from day one. I even wrote another op-ed for the New York Times in December 2008 advocating a Keynesian cure that holds up very well in light of history. Annoyingly, however, I found myself joined at the hip to Paul Krugman, whose analysis 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¬ís problems than Paul Krugman. The blind hatred for him on the right simply pushed me further away from my old allies and comrades.​


    :clap: That's one.
    Now, if we can just hope for say....20 million other fools to start thinking :sarcastic then we can rest assured that our country will prosper in the next 1000 years. :yes:
     
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  7. Mr Spinkles

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    Wow. That article really tells you a lot about how this country (mal)functions. It's fascinating to contrast how think tanks, newspapers, and TV news programs operate in our society, according to this account, compared to how they would operate in a society with a free flow of ideas. Our millionaire donors don't like you criticizing so-and-so .... you're fired. Hey, journalists: you are not to talk about this book. "Public intellectuals" in this country are nothing of the sort, they are just paid party/corporate agents and propagandists. They are managers of the state religion, like ancient priests employed by the court (if you'll forgive the exaggeration). Unfortunately, I don't think this problem is limited to the Right.
     
    #7 Mr Spinkles, Dec 13, 2012
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  8. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
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    Not entirely limited to the Right. But I think at this point in history, the Right has taken it further than either moderates or the Left. Give it another twenty years though. Then it might be the Left who takes it further than the Right. These things change.

    "Every great cause begins as a movement, turns into a business, and then degenerates into a racket." -- Eric Hoffer.
     
  9. Mr Spinkles

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    Why do you think groups become insular, Sunstone?

    I think that epistemic closure is more likely to occur in top-down institutions, such as the so-called think-tanks and newspapers described in the article. These institutions are, essentially, propaganda factories. If you engage in your own intellectual quest for the truth and arrive at the wrong conclusions, it makes the millionaire donor from Dallas angry, and you get fired. And Rupert Murdoch orders his minions not to give your ideas any publicity. So it would be advantageous not to follow the facts too freely, lest this endanger your intellectual purity and, hence, your job.

    Contrast this to institutions in academia. For all its faults, academia is not a top-down institution. The American Physical Society is democratically run. Advancement and recognition and even tenure decisions are decided by groups of colleagues, not a single millionaire in Dallas. Indeed, look at Religious Forums, it's essentially bottom-up.

    It seems that the exceptional thing about the epistemic closure among conservative think-tanks, this time, is it went too far. It's supposed to happen. But this time it actually became self-destructive. And indeed, that is the aspect that Bartlett emphasizes in his article: not that Republicans were wrong or harmed the country, but that they lost elections.
     
  10. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Ignorant Atheist Capitalist Engineer Libertarian
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    I question the claim that academic institutions are any less controlling of thought than think tanks. Sure, the latter starts off with a more specified agenda,
    but academia is fraught with controlling cultures, & even they are beholden to source funding (eg, state government, private donors). I think of my alma
    mater, & see narrow perspectives wher social & political influences intrude. It looks every bit as limiting as one would find in think tanks like The Cato
    Institute or People For The American Way. The real vale of think tanks is in external rather than internal diversity.

    It would be short sighted to think that the problem is with rightish think tanks. The same phenomenon must also haunt leftish ones. Why do we
    discuss only shortcomings of those who lean right? Because it's lefties doing the analysis, & they believe they have the truth, ie, the correct views.
     
    #10 Revoltingest, Dec 14, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2012
  11. Apex

    Apex Somewhere Around Nothing

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    There is actually a pretty good documentary on this kind of thing:
    [youtube]u-zz1HwxIjg[/youtube]

    You can view the whole thing on youtube.
     
  12. LuisDantas

    LuisDantas Aura of atheification
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    How do you think that should be corrected? By the right choosing to analyse things more, or by some other means?
     
  13. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Ignorant Atheist Capitalist Engineer Libertarian
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    I don't think correction is possible.
    We will all be guided by our perspectives & agendas.
    To get info for diverse sources is useful though.
     
  14. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
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    This sort of equivalency argument is popular, false, and misleading. There may be similar problems on both the Left and the Right, but at this point in time, the Right is far more intellectually insular than the Left. That may change in the future, but it's the case for now. Read The Republican Brain by Chris Mooney. You should educate yourself before you make such equivalency arguments.
     
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  15. iolo

    iolo Member

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    I liked the man - people of principle are (now) very rare in politics. His original views were way below undergraduate, but he at least sticks to some sort of sense. I think the difficulty is that most conservatives are simply used as cannon-fodder by the extremely rich, who regard them, really, with contempt. I think that is what is the trouble with conservatism - a natural hanging-on to what you remember as good is exploited by the totally uncaring.
     
    #15 iolo, Dec 14, 2012
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  16. Mr Spinkles

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    Emphasis added. I acknowledged that academia in practice has plenty of faults. The degree to which truly free intellectual inquiry and expression takes place certainly depends on the academic institution in question, and is debatable. But you are going way too far here, equating two things which are clearly not equivalent. Academic institutions are definitely less controlling of thought than think tanks; both in practice, and crucially, in principle. You have to subscribe to a narrow ideology to work for a think tank even in principle. By design.

    Just look at the article. A guy has an opinion--bang, the think tank fires him. It's not even controversial or scandalous, it doesn't do anything to harm the think tank's reputation. After all, that's what think tanks do--promote a particular ideology. This is totally opposite academia in principle. And thankfully, it's also very different from what happens in academia in practice, too.

    Absolutely. I completely agree. The more academic institutions are organized like think tanks, with top-down funding and control, the more they will function like think tanks instead of being the bottom-up sources of new ideas and free intellectual inquiry that they claim to be.
    I completely agree and that was indeed my point.
     
    #16 Mr Spinkles, Dec 14, 2012
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  17. Mr Spinkles

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    I agree with this, too.
     
  18. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Ignorant Atheist Capitalist Engineer Libertarian
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    You fall prey to the popular false false equivalency argument. It is quite common for people of a particular persuasion (either left or right...or other)
    to believe that they have "The Truth" & that their way is "The Way". And of course when one has The Truth, those who would disagree are obviously
    wrong, out of touch with reality, & sometimes just plain evil. A world of such black & white issues is devoid of nuance, similarities & shades of gray.
    To bring up common traits shared by all humans is to breach this chasm between the good folk (us) & the backsliding evildoers (them), & cannot be
    tolerated. The cry of "False equivalency!" is wielded to smite those who threaten to dislodge the planks from the eyes of the righteous.

    The very insular traits you see on the right, I also see on the left. Their universities, media, news outlets, think tanks etc will march in lock step just
    as do right wing outfits. You will believe that you are correct, & that I'm wrong, but until the day arrives when we have a reliable intellectual insularity
    meter quantify the differences, alls we gots is our opinions.
     
  19. Mr Spinkles

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    *Gasp!* An administrator was too busy to talk to him at that time? What are they hiding? Fascists!

    I enjoy a good whack at academics as much as the next intellectually insecure person. But why do I get the feeling that this film is going to be more concerned about bashing liberalism than about genuine free expression? Why do I get the feeling that Brigham Young or Liberty University won't be listed front-and-center as the most glaring examples of universities which indoctrinate students and are opposed to intellectual freedom?
     
  20. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Ignorant Atheist Capitalist Engineer Libertarian
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    We will have to agree to disagree. The university setting appears every bit as stifling as think tanks to me. But even more appropriate,
    I'll wager your left pinky that leftish think tanks are exactly as controlling as rightish think tanks. My evidence? Tis just human nature to
    behave that way when a group with a shared agenda fights the good fight against disbelievers. Let's look at MSNBC & Fox News....what
    are the differences? There is only one, ie, that they're political opposites. Other than that, they both brilliantly exhibit the many faults
    of human nature & thought.
     
    #20 Revoltingest, Dec 14, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2012
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