Limbaugh's On To Us!

I want to get back to the timing of the blowing up, the explosion out there in the Gulf of Mexico of this oil rig.... Now, lest we forget, ladies and gentlemen, the carbon tax bill, cap and trade that was scheduled to be announced on Earth Day. I remember that. And then it was postponed for a couple of days later after Earth Day, and then of course immigration has now moved in front of it. But this bill, the cap-and-trade bill, was strongly criticized by hardcore environmentalist whackos because it supposedly allowed more offshore drilling and nuclear plants, nuclear plant investment. So, since they're sending SWAT teams down there, folks, since they're sending SWAT teams to inspect the other rigs, what better way to head off more oil drilling, nuclear plants, than by blowing up a rig? I'm just noting the timing here.
Yup. He's got us!  There's nothing environmentalists love like causing an oil spill that could be many times as large as the Exxon Valdez.  Right.  Cuz that's good for the environment... in the long run, obviously.  The short run is a series of horrors, granted, but you can't make an omelet without dousing a few million water fowl in sweet crude, eh?

How's that Drilly Spilly Thing Workin Out For Ya?

The worst-case scenario for the broken and leaking well gushing oil into the Gulf of Mexico would be the loss of the wellhead currently restricting the flow to 5,000 barrels -- or 210,000 gallons per day.

If the wellhead is lost, oil could leave the well at a much greater rate, perhaps up to 150,000 barrels -- or more than 6 million gallons per day -- based on government data showing daily production at another deepwater Gulf well.

By comparison, the Exxon Valdez spill was 11 million gallons total. The Gulf spill could end up dumping the equivalent of 4 Exxon Valdez spills per week.
Only Communists think we should get off the CO2 Economy.  Oh, I guess Communists and people who like beaches and wildlife.

Student Loan Reform

Upon request, I've just spent 15 minutes trying to look into competing CBO scores for the Student Loan Reform that was passed in the HCR reconciliation package, following the assertion that after making the scoring process more "fair" the reform actually ended up costing us money.  It turns out, of course, that this once again provides an example of the right wing simply lying to their poor, trusting voters.

Of course, with all of these large bills, there has been an open and gradual revision process, generating CBO scores all along the way.  After all, now that a Democrat is in the White House everyone cares about CBO scores and actually, you know, paying for things.  Go figure.  In this case, the CBO originally scored the reform at saving $62 billion over 10 years.  After some revisions were made to make the score better conform with reality, the figure was revised to $40 billion in savings.  This is where the dishonesty starts.

I wont link to them, but here's the relevant part of the story my friend saw:
Moreover, the debate on savings has overshadowed the fact that the planned reforms still add to the deficit. As the CBO explains,

“Whereas on average over the 2010-2020 period a representative loan issues in the direct loan program has a negative subsidy rate of 9 percent under FCRA (meaning that it reduces the deficit), the same loan has a positive subsidy rate of 12 percent on a fair value basis.”

So while the reform may reduce the deficit compared to the current broken system of a private-public hybrid, that is not the same thing as saying it will actually end up in the black.
How stupid does this author think we are?  Of course the student loan program costs the government money! We're not trying to run a profit on educating our future generations!  The government is not a business!  The question is not whether the entire program will be in the black, the question is whether the reform that just passed made things better or worse.  The answer?  On every front, it made things better - more loans will be given, more Americans will be educated, and the whole thing will end up saving us tens of billions of dollars over the status quo ante.  "The reforms still add to the deficit."  No they don't, you twit.  The Program adds to the deficit.  The Reforms reduce the deficit.

I guess this author might not have been intentionally dishonest.  The "Are they Stupid or Dishonest" question is an evergreen topic.


Datamining Snopes

Mr. Bell runs the numbers:
After eight years in the White House (with Snopes.com around all that time), George W. Bush has been the subject of 47 internet rumors. After less than two years in office, Barack Obama has been the subject of 87, or nearly twice as many.

Even more telling is the relative accuracy of those stories. For Bush, 20 rumors, or 43%, are true. Only 17, or 36%, are false. The remainder are of mixed veracity (4), undetermined (4), or unclassifiable (2).

In contrast, for Obama only 8 of the 87 rumors, or 9%, are true, and a whopping 59, or 68%, are whoppers. There are 17 of mixed veracity and 3 undetermined.
Interesting, eh?  Not surprising, but interesting.

Reagan the Anti-White Racist

Here's how Reagan went about picking Supreme Court nominees:
In the course of our discussion with Reagan the first time we were talking about the candidates . . . we had talked about Scalia. Reagan had asked me whether Scalia was of Italian extraction. I think he used the word 'extraction,' and I said, 'Yes, he's of Italian extraction.' Reagan said, 'That's the man I want to nominate, so I want to meet him.' We brought Scalia in. . . . The president met Scalia, and he offered Scalia the job right on the spot, in about 15 minutes, very little ceremony here. Scalia accepted on the spot. He was delighted. That was it. . . .

I think [Reagan] felt that it would be great to put an Italian American on the Supreme Court. He had all the usual American instincts: 'We don't have an Italian American on the court, so we ought to have one.' He really felt good about doing that. It wasn't principle so much as that kind of emotional commitment.
What an affirmative action loving, anti-white racist.

Epistemic Closure: Bruce Bartlett

There's been a raging debate on the right side of the blogosphere since Health Care Reform passed, started by reformers within the conservative movement, about the intellectual insulation the movement has cultivated. The term being used is Epistemic Closure, which is interesting in itself.  Epistemic refers to Epistomology - the field concerned with understanding how we know things to be true - and Closure is a mathematical and logical concept that's a little harder to explain.  For example, a Sphere is Closed under the operations performable by an ant.  He can crawl any way he likes, for as long as he likes, and he will never leave the Sphere.  In terms of this conservative debate, the analogous problem is that within the Sphere of Orthodox Conservative Thought, there is no series of moves that can lead to an unorthodox conclusion.  Or, put another way, "boy, movement conservatives sure live in their own world, don't they?"  (More examples of this are available by clicking the "Alternative Reality" label at the bottom of the post, or here and here)

Bruce Bartlett, who I'm sure has been a liberal plant since he was in Reagan's Oval Office or Bush's Treasury department, has the following to say on conservative Epistemic Closure:
What it seems to mean in terms of the current discussion is that conservatives live in a cocoon or echo chamber in which they only read conservative magazines like National Review and the Weekly Standard, only listen to conservative talk radio, only watch Fox News and only visit conservative web sites. It's a closed loop in which any opinions or facts that conflict with the conservative worldview are either avoided, ignored or automatically dismissed on the grounds that they must be liberal or come from liberals.

I believe this view of how conservatives think is correct and want to pass along the moment when I first realized it in 2004.

Earlier that year, journalist Ron Suskind had published The Price of Loyalty based on extensive interviews with former George W. Bush Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill. This book made many charges about the insularity of the Bush White House, the president's unwillingness to listen to any opinions that didn't confirm those he already had and others that have been confirmed by subsequent reportage.

I liked Ron's book and wrote a favorable column about it leading him to call me. We hit it off and would chat every once in a while afterwards. Basically, we were both trying to figure out the same things: What makes Bush tick? Where does he get his information? Why is he always so sure of himself? Is he capable of admitting error?

Then one day in mid-October I got a call from a woman at the New York Times Magazine saying she was fact-checking an article by Suskind that mentions me. I didn't think too much about it and confirmed that I had indeed said the things I was quoted as saying. What the fact-checker neglected to tell me is the context in which I was quoted or the extent. I learned this a few days later when the Suskind article went out on the wire.

I had been scheduled to do a radio show in Detroit on Wednesday about something or other and was asked if the subject could be changed. I asked what they wanted to talk about. They told me that they wished to discuss the big article about me in the New York Times Magazine. In fact, they said, the first two words in the article were my name and the first several paragraphs essentially quoted me verbatim.

I didn't see the article itself until Saturday night when the Times posted it online. Here are the first three paragraphs:

Bruce Bartlett, a domestic policy adviser to Ronald Reagan and a treasury official for the first President Bush, told me recently that ''if Bush wins, there will be a civil war in the Republican Party starting on Nov. 3.'' The nature of that conflict, as Bartlett sees it? Essentially, the same as the one raging across much of the world: a battle between modernists and fundamentalists, pragmatists and true believers, reason and religion.

''Just in the past few months,'' Bartlett said, ''I think a light has gone off for people who've spent time up close to Bush: that this instinct he's always talking about is this sort of weird, Messianic idea of what he thinks God has told him to do.'' Bartlett, a 53-year-old columnist and self-described libertarian Republican who has lately been a champion for traditional Republicans concerned about Bush's governance, went on to say: ''This is why George W. Bush is so clear-eyed about Al Qaeda and the Islamic fundamentalist enemy. He believes you have to kill them all. They can't be persuaded, that they're extremists, driven by a dark vision. He understands them, because he's just like them. . . .

''This is why he dispenses with people who confront him with inconvenient facts,'' Bartlett went on to say. ''He truly believes he's on a mission from God. Absolute faith like that overwhelms a need for analysis. The whole thing about faith is to believe things for which there is no empirical evidence.'' Bartlett paused, then said, ''But you can't run the world on faith.''

The reason I bring all this up is because of what happened subsequently, which relates to the question of epistemic closure. A few days after the article appeared I was at some big conservative event in Washington. I assumed that my conservative friends would give me a lot of crap for what I said. But in fact no one said anything to me--and not in that embarrassed/averting-one's-eyes sort of way. They appeared to know nothing about it.

After about half an hour I decided to start asking people what they thought of the article. Every single one gave me the same identical answer: I don't read the New York Times. Moreover, the answers were all delivered in a tone that suggested I was either stupid for asking or that I thought they were stupid for thinking they read the Times.

I suppose this shouldn't have surprised me, but it did. After all, the people I was questioning weren't activists from the heartland, but people who worked on Capitol Hill, at federal agencies, in think tanks and so on. They represented the intelligentsia of the conservative movement. Even if they felt they had no need for the information content of the nation's best newspaper, one would have thought they would at least need to know what their enemies were thinking.

This was the first time I really understood what is now being called epistemic closure. In the years since, it appears to have gotten much worse.
What was the deal with Reagan hiring so many closet liberals?

47% of People Pay No Income Tax

Why is that, exactly? Here are the answers:



Short version: Both parties have instituted policies that have raised the percentage of people that pay no income tax. Generally, these policies are to incentivize work.  Finally, the Stimulus Act has temporarily raised the number from 38%, and those provisions expire this year.  Next year, we'll be back at that more moderate number of 38%.

And always remember that those people who pay no income tax still pay an effective tax rate of 15-20% on money they make. That's lower than the effective rate paid by many millionaires.


Republicans Vs. Reagan

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
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Brilliance, as always.

The Tea Party and Race

The University of Washington just released their "2010 Multi-state Survey on Race and Politics."  They have a large sample size, ask many questions, and correlate with self-identified political orientation.  This part is particularly interesting:
For instance, the Tea Party, the incipient movement that claims to be committed to reigning in what they perceive as big government, appears to be motivated by more than partisanship and ideology. Approximately 45 % whites either strongly or somewhat approve of the movement. Of those, only 35% believe blacks to be hardworking, only 45 % believe blacks are intelligent, and only 41% think that blacks are trustworthy. Perceptions of Latinos aren’t much different. While 50% of white tea party supporters believe Latinos to be hardworking, only 39% think them intelligent, and at 37%, fewer tea party supporters believe Latinos to be trustworthy.
Oh yeah.  They're not all racists.  But any place where you can walk around with these signs and be comfortable, you know a significant proportion of the crowd must be sympathetic at least.


You bring that kind of shit to a left-leaning rally and you wont get a moment of peace.

"Teabag Them Before They Teabag You!!"

The title, of course, is from early in the TeaParty movement before they learned what "Teabagging" someone meant.  Just precious, aren't they?

From the Free Republic, no less.  I'm sure this kid and his anti-Acorn friend to the left were just liberal plants.



Look at the fear on the face of this News Reader:

And then Fox splices in footage of a nuclear explosion as they go to commercial. My God, can you get more clich├ęd?


Job Loss and Creation

Good news, everyone!

Don't you just love the color-coding? Bush months in red, Obama in blue, of course.