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The Wonk Gap or 'why did they think this was a good idea'

 
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Sam



Joined: 09 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 16, 2013 11:13 pm    Post subject: The Wonk Gap or 'why did they think this was a good idea' Reply with quote

This is an article from May of 2012. It's called the Wonk Gap. It's worth reading in full. In short, it talks about how one of the primary differences between the right wing and the left wing is that the left wing has wonks and the right wing has hacks. The left wing comes out with a disadvantage based on their 'hack deficit,' in the sense that their researchers and statisticians and policy analysts and think tanks and legal scholars are, in a pattern fashion, disinclined from giving their own side's representatives, or even the president, a pass because he's/they're on Their Side. Right-wing politicians in similar situations would not receive criticism from their own side. A right-wing president would not deal with the same issue of 'internal dissent,' — they would present a united front and go out of their way to non-objectively reframe poll data, assessment of system or popular support, legal, historical, or other matters in order to provide a unified bastion of vindicating "data" for the team.

When they do that, and the left-wing is instead prone to self-criticism, it makes it so that the left wing cannot compete when it comes to the matter of creating narratives and propaganda. The right-wing can invent it at-will, but the left-wing is stuck with internal factual correction.

Cooper says "when it comes to catchy slogans premised on their ideological assumptions (“job creators,” etc), lockstep message discipline, and mind-numbing repetition, liberals just can’t compete" — even when they are proud of self-criticism.

This gives the right wing great power when it comes to creating and selling a narrative to the masses. They have a huge benefit in a democracy like ours, because they can (and did) use power gained under this control of media and political narrative to baldly restructure the system in their favor and lock down as much unrepresentative power as possible.

But it has come with long-term peril. When they set themselves up in this cult of lockstep ideological support, they blinkered themselves. They've created and nurtured a system that gives them hopelessly misinforming junk information and that actively feeds them nonsense created by True Believers — which becomes the basis upon which they make "informed" decisions regarding policy and political strategy.

It's why Romney, with the "benefit" of his whole side's entire information gathering system, all the "specialists" and "wonks" and literally all they could mobilize for the benefit of this attempt on the most important political post in America, went in on election night expecting to win.

And it's why the tea party just slammed the entire GOP's nuts in a car door and forced an almost unprecedented loss of face, popularity, and agenda-making power. The shutdown has been an unmitigated and complete disaster for conservatives, and they have suffered for nothing:

Quote:
Some day a Republican will occupy the White House again, and will thank Mr. Obama for saving the presidency from being turned into a perpetual hostage to Congressional extremists ... The Tea Partyists, it observed, “picked a goal they couldn’t achieve in trying to defund ObamaCare from one House of Congress, and then they picked a means they couldn’t sustain politically by pursuing a long government shutdown and threatening to blow through the debt limit.”


Quote:
So what did Republicans get for shutting down the government for 17 days? Their poll numbers tanked. Their gubernatorial candidate in Virginia appears headed for defeat in next month's election. The business community is rethinking its support. Veterans and the elderly are ticked off. And any leverage they ever had to push their goals of reducing the size of government and chipping away at health-care reform is gone.


The very idea that these ideologues would go into this requires knowing the extent of their delusion in these affairs. When a Tea Party member says (and many did) something to the extent of 'this law that got passed by both chambers of congress and was signed into law by the president and cleared the supreme court is UNCONSTITUTIONAL and does not represent the WILL OF THE PEOPLE' — they believe this. And their think tanks are filling them with junk data and junk legal and sociopolitical interpretations which make this reality for them. They go into this really seriously expecting that this is something that will make them heroes in the public eye, that they will be celebrated for shitcanning the whole government in order to stop obamacare.

Enter Krugman, revisiting the Wonk Gap today:

Quote:
On Saturday, Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming delivered the weekly Republican address. He ignored Syria, presumably because his party is deeply conflicted on the issue. (For the record, so am I.) Instead, he demanded repeal of the Affordable Care Act. “The health care law,” he declared, “has proven to be unpopular, unworkable and unaffordable,” and he predicted “sticker shock” in the months ahead.

So, another week, another denunciation of Obamacare. Who cares? But Mr. Barrasso’s remarks were actually interesting, although not in the way he intended. You see, all the recent news on health costs has been good. So Mr. Barrasso is predicting sticker shock precisely when serious fears of such a shock are fading fast. Why would he do that?

Well, one likely answer is that he hasn’t heard any of the good news. Think about it: Who would tell him?

My guess, in other words, was that Mr. Barrasso was inadvertently illustrating the widening “wonk gap” — the G.O.P.’s near-complete lack of expertise on anything substantive. Health care is the most prominent example, but the dumbing down extends across the spectrum, from budget issues to national security to poll analysis. Remember, Mitt Romney and much of his party went into Election Day expecting victory.

About health reform: Mr. Barrasso was wrong about everything, even the “unpopular” bit, as I’ll explain in a minute. Mainly, however, he was completely missing the story on affordability.

For the truth is that the good news on costs just keeps coming in. There has been a striking slowdown in overall health costs since the Affordable Care Act was enacted, with many experts giving the law at least partial credit. And we now have a good idea what insurance premiums will be once the law goes fully into effect; a comprehensive survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that on average premiums will be significantly lower than those predicted by the Congressional Budget Office when the law was passed.

But do Republican politicians know any of this? Not if they’re listening to conservative “experts,” who have been offering a steady stream of misinformation. All those claims about sticker shock, for example, come from obviously misleading comparisons. For example, supposed experts compare average insurance rates under the new system, which will cover everyone, with the rates currently paid by a handful of young, healthy people for bare-bones insurance. And they conveniently ignore the subsidies many Americans will receive.

At the same time, in an echo of the Romney camp’s polling fantasies, other conservative “experts” are creating false impressions about public opinion. Just after Kaiser released a poll showing a strong majority — 57 percent — opposed to the idea of defunding health reform, the Heritage Foundation put out a poster claiming that 57 percent of Americans want reform defunded. Did the experts at Heritage simply read the numbers upside down? No, they claimed, they were referring to some other poll. Whatever really happened, the practical effect was to delude the right-wing faithful.

And the point is that episodes like this have become the rule, not the exception, on the right. How many Republicans know, for example, that government employment has declined, not risen, under President Obama? Certainly Senator Rand Paul was incredulous when I pointed this out to him on TV last fall. On the contrary, he insisted, “the size of growth of government is enormous under President Obama” — which was completely untrue but was presumably what his sources had told him, knowing that it was what he wanted to hear.

For that, surely, is what the wonk gap is all about. Political conservatism and serious policy analysis can coexist, and there was a time when they did. Back in the 1980s, after all, health experts at Heritage made a good-faith effort to devise a plan for universal health coverage — and what they came up with was the system now known as Obamacare.

But that was then. Modern conservatism has become a sort of cult, very much given to conspiracy theorizing when confronted with inconvenient facts. Liberal policies were supposed to cause hyperinflation, so low measured inflation must reflect statistical fraud; the threat of climate change implies the need for public action, so global warming must be a gigantic scientific hoax. Oh, and Mitt Romney would have won if only he had been a real conservative.

It’s all kind of funny, in a way. Unfortunately, however, this runaway cult controls the House, which gives it immense destructive power — the power, for example, to wreak havoc on the economy by refusing to raise the debt ceiling. And it’s disturbing to realize that this power rests in the hands of men who, thanks to the wonk gap, quite literally have no idea what they’re doing.


We've always known that Winter is an excellent time to invade Russia, sir.
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mouse



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 17, 2013 12:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

talking about republicans being in a bubble used to be kind of funny - until they covered their bubble with steel plate and reduced all communications to a feed from fox news.

and there is this horrific feed-back loop. the republicans say what their constituents want to hear, and their constituents chant it back to them and voila! the congressman is serving the Real Voice of the American People! and it's reported on fox, and we have boehner getting led around by the nose by people who in actual fact represent only about 18% of the american people.

and the rest of us are left wondering what, if anything, will break through, and the answer keeps coming back - "not much". just look at all the people who started saying "a default really wouldn't be that bad" - if they weren't saying the whole threat of a default is just a hoax. and they believe it! or if they don't, they are still selling it hard enough that their constituents believe it. one thinks, well, maybe if they actually _experienced_ the results of a deficit - but the price tag on that is way too high. and they would still blame it on the democrats, and continue to back the same people who caused the problem.

i did learn a new word today: "berrinche".
Quote:
The word many Mexicans now use to describe Washington reflects a familiar mix of outrage and exasperation: berrinche. Technically defined as a tantrum, berrinches are also spoiled little rich kids, blind to their privilege and the effects of their misbehavior.


and they are totally right. we are at the mercy of spoiled rich brats, who don't even see that the rest of us even exist, let alone care about us.

ok, i seem to have lost the thread. end rant.
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Darqcyde



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 17, 2013 4:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

An excerpt from a hypothetical not-so-futuristic holiday special:

"Mommy?
Yes dear?
Doesn't Santa live at the North Pole?
He does.
So is he under the water?
No dear, didn't you watch that movie with us?
Yeah, but the teacher told us about all these Walruses in Alaska who don't have anymore ice.
Um . . .
Also, we couldn't find ANY ice on Google earth when we were at Susie's house the other day.
Um . . . Well, Virginia . . .
So where did the ice go?
Well, you see, with climate change . . .
But Daddy says according to Fox News there is no such thing.
Well . . ."


First Big Bird, then Santa, what's next?
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Heretical Rants



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 17, 2013 7:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Darqcyde wrote:


First Big Bird, then Santa, what's next?




"But of course Mr. Sparkle isn't real! I can't believe anyone would actually think you could get things that clean!"
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Darqcyde



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 17, 2013 5:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Speaking of GOP'ers talking out their collective asses: http://news.yahoo.com/tea-party-claiming-victory-government-shutdown-070200483.html
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CTrees



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 17, 2013 8:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Darqcyde wrote:
Speaking of GOP'ers talking out their collective asses: http://news.yahoo.com/tea-party-claiming-victory-government-shutdown-070200483.html



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 17, 2013 9:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm gonna repost this because, well,
fritterdonut wrote:

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