Sunday, February 28, 2010

And Rush's Head Exploded

Booman: That's Right, The Liberals Are Smarter
Liberals are smarter according to a recent study:

The study found that young adults who said they were "very conservative" had an average adolescent IQ of 95, whereas those who said they were "very liberal" averaged 106.

The scientists attempt to explain this in evolutionary terms, essentially saying that caring about total strangers is counter-evotutionary and only contemplated by people smart enough to think outside the box.

Krugman: You’re So Vain

Jonathan Chait and Robert Waldmann, in slightly different ways, highlight a crucial dynamic in American political debate: the extent to which public figures are punished for actually knowing what they’re talking about.

It goes like this: Person A says “Black is white” — perhaps out of ignorance, although more often out of a deliberate effort to obfuscate. Person B says, “No, black isn’t white — here are the facts.”

And Person B is considered to have lost the exchange — you see, he came across as arrogant and condescending.

I had, I have to admit, hoped that the nation’s experience with George W. Bush — who got within hanging-chad distance of the White House precisely because Al Gore was punished for actually knowing stuff — would have cured our discourse of this malady. But no. Why not?

Chait professes himself puzzled by the right’s intellectual insecurity. Me, not so much. Here’s how I see it: in our current political culture, the background noise is overwhelmingly one of conservative platitudes. People who have strong feelings about politics but are intellectually incurious tend to pick up those platitudes, and repeat them in the belief that this makes them sound smart. (Ezra Klein once described Dick Armey thus: “He’s like a stupid person’s idea of what a thoughtful person sounds like.”)

Inevitably, then, such people react with rage when they’re shown up on their facts or basic logic — it’s an attack on their sense of self-worth.

The truly sad thing, though, is the way much news reporting goes along with the condescension meme. That’s Waldmann’s point. You really, really might have expected that the Bush experience would give reporters pause — that they might at least ask themselves, “Isn’t it my job to ask whether a politician is right, as opposed to how he comes across?”

But NOOOO! [/Belushi]

  • from the comments:
    February 28th, 2010
    7:35 am
    It starts in grade school - the smart kid afraid to raise his hand and answer for fear of being taunted by the slower kids. The US despises intellectuals. I live in Europe now - and here you are expected to raise your hand and answer questions. Here, it's the slow students who are taunted. Americans have to first learn to respect education, and that will have to start in gradeschool. Then maybe the one with the facts will win the debate.

Ezra Klein (2007): The Class of 1994

Along with Gingrich, Dick Armey is often lauded as one of those honest, thoughtful, crackling-with-ideas type conservatives who bumrushed Washington in the early-90s and whose intellectual energy we should all sort of miss. Well, Armey is doing some guest-blogging over at Time, and it turns out he's as disappointingly hackish as ever. It's also a bit funny, full of gems like, "In all of these endeavors I have been guided by my highest political value: freedom. This is a good place for me to start. While tyrannies work only for those at the top, the American tradition demonstrates that all people are better off when their political and economic freedoms are protected. Government can only expand its scope of power and authority at the expense of the citizen [blah blah blah]." Reading this, you get a better sense for where the cult of Armey comes from: He's like a stupid person's idea of what a thoughtful person sounds like.

Think Progress: Sen. Alexander: Using Reconciliation To Pass Health Care Reform Would ‘End The Senate’

Today, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) appeared on ABC’s This Week to discuss last week’s bipartisan health care reform summit. During the summit, Alexander urged the President and Congressional Democrats to “renounce” the idea of using budget reconciliation to pass health care reform. Alexender went even further today, saying that the use of reconciliation would be “the end of the Senate“:

The reconciliation procedure is a little-used legislative procedure — 19 times, it’s been used. It’s for the purpose of taxing, spending, and reducing deficits. But the difference here is, that there’s never been anything of this size and magnitude and complexity run through the Senate in this way. There are a lot of technical problems with it, which we could discuss. It would turn the Senate, it would really be the end of the Senate as a protector of minority rights, the place where you have to get consensus, instead of just a partisan majority.

Watch it:

If using reconciliation were really “the end of the Senate,” the Senate would have died a long time ago, and Lamar Alexander would have been complicit in its death.

Reconciliation has been used to pass at least 19 bills, including major pieces of health care reform legislation like the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Medicare Advantage Program. Fourteen of the times reconciliation was employed it was used to advance Republican interests.

Furthermore, Alexander himself has personally voted for reconciliation at least four times, as Igor Volsky pointed out:

– 2003 Bush Tax Cuts: The Congressional Budget office, Bush’s tax cuts for the rich increased budget deficits by $60 billion in 2003 and by $340 billion by 2008. The bill had a cost of about a trillion dollars. [Alexander voted yes.]

– 2005 Deficit Reduction Act of 2005: The bill cut approximately $4.8 billion over five years and $26.1 billion over the next ten years from Medicaid spending. [Alexander voted yes.]

– 2005 Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005: The bill extended tax cuts on capital gains and dividends and the alternative minimum tax. [Alexander voted yes.]

– 2007 College Cost Reduction and Access Act: The bill forgave all remaining student loan debt after 10 years of public service. [Alexander voted yes]

In the end, Alexander’s mere presence on television this morning seems to indicate that using reconciliation does not, in fact, end the Senate.

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