I'm puzzled here, guys. Maybe you can help me out.

The right is crowing about Mitt Romney's post-debate bump in the polls. But I thought polls were all bullshit and they're not to be trusted. Please clarify.

Late last week everyone decided that the Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment number is fabricated. For the past four years Republicans have been repeating it like they have Tourette's. Any light you can shed on this discrepancy will be appreciated.

Of course there's nothing to explain here except that intellectually dishonest hypocrites are doing more of the same. Conservatives are great at this. Hollywood is a cesspit of moral depravity and celebrities are all airheads, but they practically soil themselves with excitement when some star endorses a Republican or talks about running. Experts and academics in the ivory tower are never to be trusted, but hey did you see this new Exxon-funded study from Dr. Shameless at Texas A&M that totally disproves global warming? He's a scientist, so it has to be true. Government is bloated and expensive and must be drowned in a bathtub, except for the military, farm subsidies, the prison system, massive and politically expedient handout programs for seniors, and more.

Of the many forms of lying that make up the bulk of our public discourse, I find this type the most intolerable. I am used to people telling partial truths, massaging statistics, spinning, taking anecdotal evidence out of context, and all of the other tricks necessary to make things like trickle-down economics and Intelligent Design sound plausible. It comes with the territory for those of us who choose to follow politics. But there is nothing lazier, more damaging, or less intellectually honest than a constantly variable weight that gives different values to the same information at different points in time. In the case of the poll data and unemployment statistics this phenomenon is stretched to the limit – when the data do not confirm your preconceived idea of the world around you, they must be fabricated. Yep. Anything that contradicts your belief system is made up.

Virtually any news item can be discredited this way (having come from the Librul Media, of course). The entire economy can be selectively re-imagined from cherry picked data. The reverse scientific method – start with the conclusion, throw out all the contradictory evidence, and declare the issue resolved by whatever remains – is the foundation of their worldview. There's no point in trying to debate them; they believe all of their own conclusions as articles of faith, and nothing is capable, by definition, of undermining them.

Such people are, in an intellectual if not literal sense, brain dead. They're not processing any new information except to sift it through the filter of their beliefs and reject anything that doesn't fit. Yet at the same time, and at a more basic level, they seem incapable of believing anything. Do the polls matter, or are they made up? Does the unemployment rate measure the health of the economy, or is it politically manipulated? Are the troops being removed from the Middle East too soon, or not soon enough? If the answer to any of these questions is "It depends on who's winning / who's in power", congratulations. You're what's wrong with America. This is why we can't have nice things, like a half decent debate about our problems and how we might go about solving them.


  • Yup, it's less honest than lying. With lying you know what the truth is and you don't want people to know about it so you fabricate stuff. With this kind of bullshitting you cut out the first step of lying (knowing what the truth is) and just grab anything you can without caring which bits are true and which are lies.

  • Usually this doesn't bother me so much. Most of the adults I know believe whatever they hear so long as it is in line with what they already have learned or experienced. Isn't that what most of life is? Trusting experts to inform us? Our job is to figure out whom to trust.

    What sends me to near-aneurysm levels of agitation is thinking about kids who never learned why objective journalism is essential to a healthy society, have no idea how government works or what its purpose is, or how to work out the difference between Fact and Opinion (and which to rely upon when voting.)

    Most of today's college graduates were playing kickball at recess when Bush II was appointed President. Consider the quality of discourse since then, and despair.

  • Religious fanaticism. Pure and simple. That is the explanation. Those of us with any experience in the wonderful world of Catholic doctrine know that God is always right, so that when He appears to be wrong, He is merely testing us. Or being mysterious. Or reminding us of His capacity for judgment of sins we are not even aware of. Once you swallow the belief in a perfect divinity who can do no wrong, and who does everything, you've pretty much got an explanation for, well, everything.

    It's basically the same approach as the Fundies who believe that dinosaur bones are real, but that they're either A. God's way of testing our faith in His word, since we *know* the Earth is thousands, rather than millions of years old, *or* that they prove that the science that dates them is wrong, and man and dinosaur must have co-existed.

    When facts get in the way of Articles of Absolute Faith, the facts *must* be wrong. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot never made a single mistake, ever. Everything always went according to plan, except when it didn't because of (always) traitors in their midst.

    The popular voices of the right (and, let's be fair, the left, too–they've been forced by spinelessness to ride in the back of the school bus, but they've been plenty guilty of this in the past) are simple-minded men and women of absolute faith. I repeat, with emphasis: *absolute* faith. As in, "not susceptible to reason, shame, reflection, pause, or diversion."

    Like God, Tax Cuts are *always* good. *Always*. If the numbers say otherwise, the numbers are wrong–or else, the numbers are irrelevant, in the face of the greater (indeed, the greatest) good: Tax Cuts.

    Local government is *always* better than federal authority. *Always*. And if people get lynched (or vigilante-shot, of late) because local government doesn't stop such things from happening, then such things are a "zero" in the equation that proves that Local Government is *always* better.

    And so on. These people aren't hypocrites. That would be perversely enjoyable–it'd be funny, really–black comedy, yes, but funny at how thoroughly these people have sold their souls.

    But no. They're not lying. They're expressing honest articles of absolute faith. See, you can call out a liar. You can't call out a fanatic–they literally cannot perceive any reality but their own. It's why people who thought that they could out-argue the National Socialists wound up on the pointy end of history's stick. Ditto for those who thought they could reason with Lenin. That's not how fanaticism works.

    I am becoming quietly concerned that this course we're on will lead to organized violence–that those who cannot win elections, even by fraud, will decide that direct, physical intervention will be the only way to secure the success of their ideals. If that happens, please can we please all agree *not* to "take the high road"? There is no "high road" with such people…

    (Probably too grim, this outlook. But the more I read about the death throes of the Weimar Republic, the more I end up saying, "Oh, yeah, I remember when that happened to us last month!" Thank God the far right cannot find a candidate with a scrap of charisma–we're all safe so long as people continue to think of folks like Michelle Bachmann as "the face/voice of the party.")

  • Middle Seaman says:

    The belief system you are using isn't even similar to the belief system the conservatives you mention use. In your, and my, system evolution was proven scientifically many times over. In their belief system science is not an arbiter of facts and truth. Instead, they take their cue from religious leaders in the South. Clearly, evolution doesn't hold in some churches. For the same reason, we see daily evidence and have scientific proof of global warming. Their leaders lead industry that may have to adapt to global warming. Rich people are the real gods of our conservatives. Hence, there is no global warming.

    They aren't lying; they just use a different system.

  • "…when the data do not confirm your preconceived idea of the world around you, they must be fabricated. Yep. Anything that contradicts your belief system is made up."

    Wingnuts, for a long time, have explained away their inconsistent approach to the media by saying, when they get favorable coverage, "the truth is so bad for the libs that *even the liberal media can't cover it up."


    "… Romney is now so far ahead in the race that even the liberal pollsters can't hide it no matter how they manipulate the data."

    "… the economy is so terrible that even the Chicago Thugz at BLM can't hide it."

    And so on.

    They simply refuse to go along with reality. Period.

  • Government is bloated and expensive and must be drowned in a bathtub, except for the military, farm subsidies, the prison system, massive and politically expedient handout programs for seniors, and more.

    My grandfather served three years in the Navy. Part of that was during World War II. They sent him to the Pacific.

    He also had twenty years with the state highway patrol. I met his partner at his funeral.

    On top of that he was a dairy farmer, which was a losing proposition in his day and even more so today. He didn't care. He once said that if he had a million dollars he'd farm until it was all gone.

    And he was a lifelong Democrat. My father (Mr. Republican Voter himself) has a funny story about just before his second open-heart surgery, when he made a little speech about how proud he was of all his children and grandchildren, except for his oldest son (my dad). He said that no matter what he did and what he said, Dad still votes Republican! And it was so embarrassing for him.

    (One of the nurses said, well gosh, we thought he must be in jail or on drugs or something!)

  • c u n d gulag says:

    Conservative POV:
    Which weighs more, a 100 pound of feathers?
    Or, a 100 pounds of lead?

    Whichever we can convince the MSM weighs more.

    We know which one costs more!
    500 Million bucks spent on Big Bird is wasteful – 500 BILLION bucks spent on our military and its contractors, are American patriotism and exceptionalism at their finest!!!

  • You would think that after the "faith-based administration" we had from 2000-2008 we'd know better.

    Remember how W used to "go with his gut"? Yep, that worked out really well.

  • @Jack: an acquaintance of mine insisted for months that Ron Paul was winning in the Republican race for presidential nominee, but the "lame-stream media" was terrified to cover it. Then Romney got the nod, and after a bunch of conspiracy-theory nonsense, it got very, very quiet from that crazy corner. People that far gone truly don't see reality.

  • @major kong

    I documented this before – that's almost an exact quote from Gorbachev about Communism – which is truly rich since the evolutionary tenet of natural selection (political Darwinism) is prominent in Communism..

    It didn't survive because it couldn't cut it for whatever reason. Gorby said that it wasn't given a real chance and the right people weren't in charge.

    Sound familiar? I think it's called True Believer Syndrome….an equal opportunity affliction.

    While we are stuck in our Left/Right pissin' contests the elites laugh and roll on.


  • In other words, Confirmation bias.

    It would be interesting to see a psychological study testing confirmation bias in the elderly. Especially, old white male confirmation bias. I don't know of any study that exists, but it sure as hell would be entertaining to see Fox News try to discredit it, the irony would be tantalizing.

  • @bb

    I've mentioned before that today's "movement conservatives" bear a striking resemblance to the Communists (except for economics of course).

    Use of propaganda.
    Rewriting of history.
    Strict adherence to doctrine.
    Quick to denounce any who stray from the "true path".
    Fetishization of the military.

    I could go on, but you get the idea.

  • Another obvious example of this behavior is the 'winger fondness for calling Obama a Socialist. I realized how far gone a friend of mine was when he said exactly that.
    "What do you mean, a Socialist?" I asked.
    "Obamacare!" he crowed. "Government makin' us do stuff!"
    "Obamacare does all kinds of favors for the private sector and corporations. It's government intervention, but it's hardly socialism." I said.
    "Government handouts!" he cried.
    "You mean, like, the bank bailouts? Enormous, unprecedented amounts of taxpayer dollars to giant corporate entities? That's more 'corruption' than it is 'socialism', really…"
    "He's a Socialist! Obamacare! Welfare! ACORN!"

    I'm not really friends with this guy anymore. I don't mind that he doesn't like Obama; I don't care for our president very much myself. But I don't know how to relate to someone who has given up thinking and replaced it with repeating mantras.

  • Their entire world view, top to bottom, is nothing but inconsistent cherry picking. Hell, for half a century the whole states' rights, laboratories of democracy argument has been as fundamental to conservative thinking as you can get. But let Oregon dabble in assisted suicide or California decriminalize pot and the and suddenly the feds need to step in.

    I mean, you're talking about people who had no problem being against Roe v Wade on states's rights grounds and simultaneously supporting US Senators interfering in a simple family law case during that damn Terry Schiavo circus.

  • "It didn't survive because it couldn't cut it for whatever reason. Gorby said that it wasn't given a real chance and the right people weren't in charge. "

    If he did say that he was right; he was in charge.

    "Use of propaganda."

    Right, because anti-Communists and liberal democracies never used propaganda.

    "Rewriting of history."

    Happy Columbus day everyone! We won the Second World War!

    "Strict adherence to doctrine."

    Countries must have a system resembling ours to be called "democratic." Or a system like that of Europe. Or any country we like. The free market is the solution!

    "Quick to denounce any who stray from the "true path".

    How often do we hear mainstream discussion about pulling out of Afghanistan entirely, about Bradley Manning, etc.? The existence of Kautskyism(yes, this still exists today), Trotskyism, Leninism, Maoism, "Hoxhaism", Marcyite Trotskyism, etc. shows that while there is certainly sectarianism(and that's without mentioning left communists and anarchists of various sorts), we are not talking about a rigid dogma here. By the 1970's there were at least three major competing schools of Marxist-Leninist thought in the world.

    "Fetishization of the military."

    Originally Lenin did not want to have a standing army. It was seen as a necessary evil due to the White Guards and the later threats from Japan and Germany. Other socialist regimes often relied on armed militias, such as Cuba and Albania.


    Right, that's why the USSR once employed one quarter of the world's scientists(Socialism Betrayed, Roger Keeran). Oh by the way, who needs that stupid book-learnin'? IT'S FOOTBALL SEASON! WE'RE GONNA GO ALL THE WAY THIS YEAR!! HOO-RAH!!! BEFORE SUNDAY COMES LET'S HAVE A CALL OF DUTY MARATHON!!!

    Seriously, this is the kind of propaganda that amounts to a shot in the foot. If we look at superficial details we can make anything look like anything else, which is precisely what a certain slug named Jonah Goldberg did in his brilliant book Liberal Fascism. We should discourage this technique, not repeat it.

  • I get the whole "Obama is a Communist" line from family members from time to time. I really don't know what to say anymore because I feel like as soon as I start talking their eyes glaze over and they're at a total loss. It's as if they're thinking, "WHAT IN THE WORLD is he TALKING ABOUT? HE'S NOT ON THE RADIO OR FOX NEWS? HOW DOES HE KNOW?" And then they make me feel like a dick because I'm insisting that words have meanings and that you can't just label things however you want. I'm the asshole for actually reading nearly every important work by Marx, Engels, Lenin, etc. and knowing what Communism and socialism mean. I'm an idiot because I didn't let an ex-DJ explain it to me.

  • "The right is crowing about Mitt Romney's post-debate bump in the polls. But I thought polls were all bullshit and they're not to be trusted. Please clarify."

    Romney's bump was so huge that it was even able to overcame the polls' Democratic sampling bias. However, they're still inaccurate; whatever they report, you have to give Romney an extra 10 points. Thus, his 5-point lead is really a 15-point lead.

    "Late last week everyone decided that the Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment number is fabricated. For the past four years Republicans have been repeating it like they have Tourette's. Any light you can shed on this discrepancy will be appreciated."

    That was before Obama and his Chicago cronies manipulated the data to save face after the debate. Duh.

    As for the "Exxon-funded study from Dr. Shameless at Texas A&M that totally disproves global warming," Dr. Shameless is outside the academic establishment. He hasn't let himself be brainwashed by such liberal shibboleths as the scientific method, peer review or logic. And clearly, his conclusions are correct. Therefore, he can be trusted, whereas lamestream scientists can't.

    Glad I could clear that up for you ;-)

  • 'winger fondness for calling Obama a Socialist.

    There is a recent study which showed that people (even right wingers) would pick living in a socialist society over a capitalist society, when given the choice. Can't remember the source of the study, unfortunately, but they basically gave people an outline of a government run much like Sweden and one run like the U.S. and asked which system they would prefer to live in. The majority picked the Swedish system. People who parrot Fox News don't even know what socialism really is.

  • @mothra

    I saw that study too. If I remember correctly, the catch was that the majority picked the Swedish system only when it was portrayed as being hypothetical—the fact that it described Sweden not being mentioned (because if it were mentioned, the respondents would know that they were being asked to judge EUROPEAN SOCIALISM!!!!1!, which, as every Real American™ knows, is ipso facto evil).

  • mel in oregon says:

    well, just had to wash out my son's mouth with soap for mentioning martin luther king & barack obama in the same sentence. next, if i were in the same room as you, i'd have to do the same with you for mentioning war spending, prison spending, farm subsidies & "handout programs for seniors". really? the average elderly person paid on this for half a century, when they hit 65, they get paid back, but in inflated dollars. if we expected a real debate, the format would be changed to really hard-assed questions, like what gives obama the right to kill american citizens without a trial, or explain please, mr romney to the american public your belief that the book of mormon supercedes the bible. & don't let these characters lie their way out of the questions. ask romney about evolution, global warming & abortion. make his dumb ass give concrete answers, not the evasive bullshit he always gets away with. ask obama what in the hell change has happened under his administration that has helped people that have had their homes foreclosed, students owing over a trillion dollars, & credit card holders paying usurious interest rates with over a trillion dollars of debt. lastly ask obama why he is so gutless, & cowtows so much to wallstreet. don't hold your breath.

  • @arslan

    "If he did say that he was right; he was in charge."

    He did say it. The link is in my post somewhere in the archives here. It was real mainstream – not obscure. And, of course, I get your dig at ol' Mike.

    But for me, it was pure irony that the proponent of a political philosophy that professes its inevitability and a staunch believer in 'political natural selection' would whine about his system not surviving because somebody was unfair to it or the right people didn't run it.


  • Hey, you can make the case that the Communists were for "small government" too – Marx wrote that once they got past the "Dictatorship of the Proletariat" phase they would enter this wonderful era where government wasn't needed anymore.

    Sounds a lot like the Libertarians – and neither one of them had a real clue as to how this would actually be achieved.

  • @arslan – So the Khmer Rouge were pro-intellectual? They used to shoot people who wore glasses.

    And Lenin may not have wanted a standing army, but then neither did George Washington. Post WWII the Soviets loved them some military parades.

  • @Dryden: I share your concern about the Right taking up arms because of their parallel narrative – as I said last week.

    Now thanks to Husted it looks like another election is about to be stolen by Scalia and Thomas.

  • Drove into southern Virginia this weekend from DC for a wedding at a B&B. The more impoverished the country side became the larger the signs for Mit and Stick. In fact, in some areas, I'm pretty sure 6 months of the township budget was devoted to sign manufacture. I stopped off at a local watering hole to test the air. Five guys in a booth. All five had german helmet mullets. None were ironic. This is only 40 miles outside of DC. I was truly shocked and I've seen quite a bit in my travels from Kabul to Flagstaff.

    That is all.

  • BTW, my big prediction for 2013, if Obama wins, is the largest domestic terror event in this nation's history. Four more years of black and there aint going back. You can be sure that a good five thousand folks in this here Union will have gone of their leash if he wins.

  • Thanks, Ed, you've summed up everything that's wrong with political discourse today. These days, all conservatives have to do when confronted with "facts" is to deny deny deny. Remember Watergate? People made a big deal out of that when I was a kid; nowadays nobody would give a shit. Business as usual!

  • The Khmer Rouge departed from Marxism to embrace a bizarre sort of Khmer nationalism/agrarian utopianism some time before they took over the country. When is not well known, as many things about the history of that organization were pretty murky(it wasn't clear who 'Pol Pot' was until several years after 1975).

    And yes, Marxist socialism can be compared to libertarianism in a way, since the aim of Communism is the elimination of the state.

  • polls? i thought the swing states were the only thing that mattered. if Obama wins enough of them,polls be damned. lol.

    and Obama agrees with Rmoney that Social Security needs 'fixing". lol. so not much of difference there. and i need to watch the Debates to hear this?? Yipes!

    but it is fun watching all the Republicans lose it when Obama is ahead and then watch the Republican gloating like squealing pigs when the polls say Rmoney is ahead. the joys of Fascism/(Corporate Government/Mussolini Anyone!) are hard to beat, except you and i and the rest of the working people are being "stuck" with the bill for all the "conning" Rmoney and Obama are going to "give" us after the election.

    i expect the Whites to start WW 3 after Obama resumes taking us down the "socialist" Wall St. way. Assuming swing states go Obama's way.
    Rmoney, well, he does what he does, aka "Harvesting" America for Bain Inc., presidency or not.

    America, and the American Dream. you have to be asleep to believe in such a "Dream." Bread and circuses really do work!!!

  • @Arslan: "The Khmer Rouge departed from Marxism"

    Ah, just like Mao's little fun-time Cultural Revolution also departed from Marxism. I see. It's not really Marxism if it's anti-intellectual. Actually, I think you're sort of right – anti-intellectualism is the hallmark of the frightened human, not of any particular ideology. It does tend to go with the more extreme Utopian ideologies (ie all of them) that stray farther and farther from the path of reality as they get more and more desperate about why things keep going wrong. All these simple-minded and ridiculous one-size-fits-all ideologies are asinine. We're humans, dammit – we have an extraordinary ability to adjust to circumstances and modify our cultures to work under any sort of conditions. Why this crazy urge to try to fit our lives to the Procrustean bed of some whack-job's poorly-thought-out fever-dream? I mean, capitalism as a political ideology? You have to be as vicious and lunatic as old Lenin to think that can work. Mix-and-match; use the right tool for the job. It's not rocket science. Damn, but people are stupid.

  • Since this topic will apparently be going for at least another day, here is a web site which is a thing of beauty.

    Mitt Romney agrees with everyone. Across the full political spectrum, on a variety of issues. And there's video to prove it.

  • @JohnR – Spot on! It's not all or nothing. It's mix and match. Pragmatic solutions that fit the problem are way better than only having an arsenal of square-pegged dogma to solve all the round-holed problems that need fixing. Especially when there are plenty of people people saying, "Wait, I have some round pegs here. Can we try them?" But then the reply comes back "But we can't use that, because they aren't square. And if they aren't square then the're socialist."

  • "Ah, just like Mao's little fun-time Cultural Revolution also departed from Marxism. I see. It's not really Marxism if it's anti-intellectual. Actually, I think you're sort of right – anti-intellectualism is the hallmark of the frightened human, not of any particular ideology. "

    No, the Khmer Rouge departed from Marxism because when they finally revealed their constitution they made no reference to the ideology, and because their policies were regressive, not progressive. This is not a matter of intellectualism but rather social development as a whole. Marx's theory was a critique of capitalism which posited that capitalism brings into certain conditions which make the creation of a new society possible. I don't have time to get into all the details now but the main factor was the creation of the proletariat or working class. This is why all countries which had a nominally(i.e. where it was claimed to be thus) Marxist socialist revolution engaged in rapid and wide scale industrialization to various degrees.

    The KR did the opposite. They had a bizarre, reactionary nationalist ideology which idolized the peasant commune. They also persecuted the remaining Marxists in their party around the time they took power. So yes, they diverged from Marxist theory not because Marxist theory is a utopian dogma but rather because they quite explicitly rejected the theory and did something which is basically the opposite of what every other Marxist revolution did.

    I'm not going to open the can of worms about Trotskyism, revisionism, Titoism, Maoism, Third Worldism, etc. When I say the KR rejected Marxism, they straight out rejected it.

    Anyway, I just happened to run across this article today and though it's the first time I've ever seen anything from this author, I think he does a good job of defending Marxist theory from a modern perspective(without even mentioning Marx that much). Have a look at it; it's a good introduction.

  • @ warmbowski

    That must be it. I didn't know Dan Ariely was one of the people behind it. He's a cool guy… Anyway, thanks!

  • Short version: Say you've got a politician who claims he's a strict Keynesian when it comes to economics. Upon getting elected, he privatizes virtually all government assets and deregulates like Friedman. We would say he clearly did the opposite of Keynesian theory. This wouldn't mean that Keynesianism is some kind of religious, utopian dogma.

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