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Saturday, November 10, 2012

The 'post-fact' Saturday open line

Posted By on Sat, Nov 10, 2012 at 11:35 AM

ARKANSAS WILD: The deer hunters let me down. Still waiting for shots from deer camp. But I grabbed a shot of this fellow in my backyard at 11:45 a.m. today. Thought he was dead, but apparently just snoozing in the sun and slipped into the brush after I opened the door. The Head Cats reverie on Hillcrest wildlife this morning was more fact than humorous fiction.
  • ARKANSAS WILD: The deer hunters let me down. Still waiting for shots from deer camp. But I grabbed a shot of this fellow in my backyard at 11:45 a.m. today. Thought he was dead, but apparently just snoozing in the sun and he slipped into the brush after I opened the door. The Head Cat's riff on Hillcrest wildlife this morning in the D-G was more fact than humorous fiction.

It's open way early because I have things to do. Finishing up:

* NEWS UPDATE: A 65-year old bicyclist was seriously injured when hit by a car on Kavanaugh near Terry's this afternoon. Channel 4 reports.

MACK MCLARTY: A plan for the fiscal cliff.
  • MACK MCLARTY: A plan for the fiscal cliff.
* AN ARKANSAS SOLUTION TO THE 'FISCAL CLIFF': Mack McLarty, the Arkansan political consultant who was chief of staff in the Clinton White House, co-authored an op-ed in the Washington Post today suggesting a bipartisan solution for the impending end of Bush tax cuts and mandated spending cuts. He says President Obama should ask Mitt Romney to craft a bipartisan plan "he can’t really believe that the deficit can be solved with zero new revenue, including from individuals as wealthy as he is...." And he should also bring in McLarty's former boss, Bill Clinton. "He should bring his basic math skills, and his considerable political skills, to the table to help craft a solution to deficit reduction that creates jobs and doesn’t stifle them." McLarty says the president should draw on past work by Simpson-Bowles and others and that his plan should include "entitlement reform" and "revenue generation." Businesses who opposed Obama should get engaged, he says. (Try telling that to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Mack.) "These times demand big ideas," writes McLarty. My added comment: And some contributions from rich people. Until the Republican Party is ready to move in that direction, big action isn't possible.

* ANOTHER LR HOMICIDE: Police found the body of a young woman who'd been fatally shot in the 3800 block of Katherine Street in the John Barrow Addition about 3 a.m. today. Not much else known at last report.

* REALITY-BASED POLITICS: Frank Rich provides a dose in New York magazine. (Heard him on public radio this morning, live in Wisconsin, congratulating that state for rejecting native son Paul "Marathon Man" Ryan, who's yet to face up to the reality of the devastation his budget plans would cause.) The opener:

Mitt Romney is already slithering into the mists of history, or at least La Jolla, gone and soon to be forgotten. A weightless figure unloved and distrusted by even his own supporters, he was always destined, win or lose, to be a transitory front man for a radical-right GOP intent on barreling full-speed down the Randian path laid out by its true 2012 standard-bearer, Paul Ryan. But as was said of another unsuccessful salesman who worked the New England territory, attention must be paid to Mitt as the door slams behind him in the aftermath of Barack Obama’s brilliant victory. Though Romney has no political heirs in his own party or elsewhere, he does leave behind a cultural legacy of sorts. He raised Truthiness to a level of chutzpah beyond Stephen Colbert’s fertile imagination, and on the grandest scale. That a presidential hopeful so cavalierly mendacious could get so close to the White House, winning some 48 percent of the popular vote, is no small accomplishment. The American weakness that Romney both apotheosized and exploited in achieving this feat—our post-fact syndrome where anyone on the public stage can make up anything and usually get away with it—won’t disappear with him. A slicker liar could have won, and still might.

There's so much to work with and Rich piles in a lot:

At the policy level, this is the GOP that denies climate change, that rejects Keynesian economics, and that identifies voter fraud where there is none. At the loony-tunes level, this is the GOP that has given us the birthers, websites purporting that Obama was lying about Osama bin Laden’s death, and not one but two (failed) senatorial candidates who redefined rape in defiance of medical science and simple common sense. It’s the GOP that demands the rewriting of history (and history textbooks), still denying that Barry Goldwater’s opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Richard Nixon’s “southern strategy” transformed the party of Lincoln into a haven for racists. Such is the conservative version of history that when the website Right Wing News surveyed 43 popular conservative bloggers to determine the “worst figures in American history” two years ago, Jimmy Carter, Obama, and FDR led the tally, all well ahead of Benedict Arnold, Timothy McVeigh, and John Wilkes Booth.

And there's much in defense of my hero, Nate Silver:

Some of Silver’s detractors didn’t bother to concoct their own bogus analyses but just tried to defame and bully him. In the waning days of October, Joe Scarborough of MSNBC’s Morning Joe discounted FiveThirtyEight’s finding that Obama had (then) a 73.6 percent probability of victory by ranting that “anybody that thinks that this race is anything but a toss-up right now is such an ideologue they should be kept away from typewriters, computers, laptops, and microphones for the next ten days, because they’re jokes.” Dean Chambers, a conservative blogger who gained popularity on the right by setting up a junk-science Romney-boosting site called UnSkewed Polls, implied that FiveThirtyEight was skewed by Silver’s sexual orientation. Chambers wrote that Silver is “of very small stature, a thin and effeminate man with a soft-sounding voice that sounds almost exactly like the ‘Mr. New Castrati’ voice used by Rush Limbaugh on his program.” (To which Silver responded with a classic Tweet: “Unskewedpolls argument: Nate Silver seems kinda gay + ??? = Romney landslide!”) Scarborough’s and Chambers’s efforts to discredit FiveThirtyEight mirrored their party’s attempts to demonize the nonpartisan organizations that questioned Romney and Ryan’s voodoo economics as well as Jack Welch’s assault on the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You challenge the imaginary numbers of the post-fact GOP at your peril.

I need not remind you that the party of faith, not facts, now holds the Arkansas legislative majority and every one of its U.S. House seats, thanks in part to the same kind of disregard of facts Rich so ably recites. Rich says that party has not given up on faith, despite the national setbacks, apart from making empty nice noises about Latinos.

Most Americans, Rich says, believe they are entitled to their own facts and he concludes, " ... it may be the wholesale denial of reality by the opposition and its fellow travelers that is the biggest obstacle to our country moving forward under a much-empowered Barack Obama in his second term. If truth can’t command a mandate, no one can."

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