Managed Ignorance


Jason Kuznicki

Jason Kuznicki is a research fellow at the Cato Institute and contributor of Cato Unbound. He's on twitter as JasonKuznicki. His interests include political theory and history.

Related Post Roulette

179 Responses

  1. Avatar Aaron says:

    I think the essential problem comes down to this: conservatism, as a governing philosophy and to the extent that it can be said to be at all coherent, is primarily an ideological theory: taxes should always be lower and government should always be smaller. The least government is the best government (except for the military!) ad infinitum. Progressivism/liberalism is a more technocratic governing philosophy. Do tax cuts help make life better for a larger number of people? Than let’s do that. How about regulation? Et cetera, et cetera.

    The upshot of these two philosophies is that progressives get wrapped up in complicated arguments about process and regulation, while conservatives are able to stand by the sides and shout “Keep your government hands out of my Medicare!” Ignorance is only going to benefit one of these worldviews.Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:


      I can’t say I agree with you here. In particular, conservatives do want the federal government to grow — at least, that’s how they act when they are in power, and not just when it’s a question of military spending. The last administration increased federal spending on education, health care, and loads of miscellaneous discretionary spending. Republicans can’t be called the party of smaller government at all. Lower taxes, yes, but not smaller government, and this in the long term is irresponsible, even if no one is paying attention.

      I think liberals, too, could easily profit from ignorance, they just don’t seem to do it so readily. I’d welcome being proven wrong on this, incidentally, but it’s not my impression that they’re doing it as much.

      But Democrats certainly do want the government to grow and to run more things, as they likewise have demonstrated in power (Wall Street, the auto industry, more and more of health care, to name a few).

      As a decided outsider to both parties, I think I have relatively solid reasons why, in many areas, government should spend and do less. Certainly these reasons are more solid than the initial story of the Sherrod affair, though I realize it’s a low, low bar.Report

      • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

        @Jason Kuznicki,

        Jason, could you help me? I noticed that everyone of the examples you listed were conservative things. Please list one that liberals are horribly misguided on because as a liberal I could be believing that thing.

        I try to believe as few false things as possible and if you have something I’d like to hear it.Report

        • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:


          I agree with you that they seem to be rarer and of less consequence on the left. But how about this one…

          “I can see Russia from my house.”

          Surely there are better reasons to oppose Sarah Palin than something she never in fact said.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            @Jason Kuznicki, “Robert Bork’s America” is another one of more or less the same caliber.Report

            • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:


              Can you elaborate? (Excuse my youthful ignorance I had to google the phrase)

              From my googling the phrase refers to potential outcomes of Bork getting a place on the supreme court.

              It appears to consist of 6 parts.
              1) Bork is very anti-choice, anti-womens rights, anti-gay rights.
              This would lead to women dying of back alley abortions. Given slouching towards gomorrah I’m going to give Edward Kennedy full points for this one.
              2) Blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters.
              I can’t score this one I don’t know enough about bork. I don’t know what his opinions on key civil rights legislation, or key decisions like Brown v Board.

              3) rogue police could break down citizen’s doors in midnight raids.

              Er, apparently they didn’t need Bork for this one, they can shoot the dog in front of the kid too.
              4) Schoolchildren would not be taught evolution.
              I don’t have a lot of information but it is plausible that bork was that kind of nut and the supreme court has been essential in preserving quality science education. so Kennedy gets a half-point here.
              5) Writers and artists could be censored at the whims of the government.
              I don’t know it all depends on Bork’s opinion on indecency.
              6) The doors of the federal court will be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens.
              Does anyone know what Kennedy meant here because I can’t quiet figure it out?

              So Kennedy was right about at least one point, most of the others I simply could not score.

              If you have the time feel free to educate me.Report

            • Avatar gregiank says:

              @Jaybird, are you saying that Bork’s vision of the constitution were not strongly at odds with what many people and many liberals think? You might like him, i don’t know, but his views were seriously troubling to a lot of us. that wasn’t a smear.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              @Jason/Gregiank, erm, how would Planned Parenthood v. Casey have turned out had Bork sided with Thomas/Scalia instead of Kennedy siding with O’Connor and Souter? Correct me if I’m wrong but Roe would still have been upheld.

              Or, for that matter, has “The State of Tennessee vs. Scopes” revisited the Supreme Court recently?

              As for the others… well, let’s say that I said that in David Souter’s America, corporations would steal houses from the poor and that the federal government would deny life-extending treatments to cancer patients.

              On one level, this is absolutely true.

              On another, the purpose of a Justice is to interpret the law and to interpret whether a law is constitutional or not.

              It has nothing to do with “well, is this law really swell” or “is this law really awful”.

              If you start ignoring the framework of The Law’s relationship to The Constitution, you start opening the door to government infringements of liberty that, surely, we as a society agree are necessary for the health/safety of The Children.

              I mean, either Bork is qualified or he is not.

              If you want to start worrying about whether he’d be judicially active in the wrong direction, you’re officially giving the game away.

              (For the record, I’m glad the guy didn’t get on the SCotUS. “Inkblot”, my ass. But the MF’er was qualified and ought to have been nominated.)Report

          • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

            @Jason Kuznicki,

            Your right that alot of lefties think she said that instead of Tina Fey. Still Actual Sarah did claim foriegn policy expertise based o her proximity to russia and being the first line of defense when ‘Putin rears his head’.

            Which was a crazy statement in itself.

            Do you have another? I ask because I am having trouble thinking of one that I might believe. This terrifies me as I know that isn’t because there isn’t one.Report

            • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:


              My sense is that dishonesty from the left tends to be a lot more wonkish, and the managed ignorance is buried a lot deeper.

              Consider the claims that (a) Obamacare will reduce the deficit and (b) that the stimulus would create jobs, and it really, really did. It’s just that the economy was, um, worse than we thought. Not that our models calling for government spending were flawed. That could never be.Report

            • Avatar Sam M says:


              The whole impetus for the Sherrod thing seemed to be that Dems were claiming a bunch of Tea Partiers we shouting the n-word at some congressmen. Did that ever really happen?

              But I do agree with Jason that the left is more wonkish in its claims. Did Bush EVER propose a bill that would have “privatized social security?” I don’t think so.Report

            • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:


              I don’t know if I ever believed that the ACA would reduce the deficit. I heard the report but I didn’t care then and I don’t care now. I am more concerned that people actually get the healthcare they need without going bankrupt.

              It doesn’t seem dishonest when nearly every leftie blogger was screaming at the time that the stimulus needed to be bigger. Seriously look at Krugman he said it wasn’t enough before the dang thing even passed.

              So we now have a data point of not enough jobs created. We can explain it in several ways. 1) Stimulus had no effect. 2) Stimulus hurt the jobs situation 3) Stimulus had insufficient effect.

              Given that we are in a situation where demand is still lacking and many said that the stimulus was too small it doesn’t appear dishonest to conclude that option three is the best choice. Which number should we believe?Report

            • Avatar Sam M says:


              I would only add this one:

              That there will be NOT death panels deciding your grandma’s fate.

              I am surprised people are still talking about this. Of course there will be death panels. They currenty exist within insurance companies. They are also known as “people who decide which claims to cover.” Unless you are suggesting that the “public option” which appears to be more likley all the time will simply pay out any claim that is made, regardless of cost or effectiveness, it will be someone’s job to decide when to say no.

              Maybe you don’t want to call it a death panel. Or maybe you will argue that this death panel will be better than the one we already have. But someone will make that decision no matter what.

              When it’s the HMO making that call, people hate the HMO. (See: All discussion about healthcare in the mid 1990s.) When it’s a bureaucrat making that call, people will hate the bureaucrat.

              Unless someone can show that the healthcare reform that we got completely eliminates the need to ever deny any claims.Report

            • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:


              Saying that you personally don’t believe a given bit of trickery doesn’t shield the left from employing managed ignorance. Saying that you don’t personally find it important, still less so.

              And picking the truth out of three alternatives, each highly uncertain, on the basis of your preferred politics is… astonishingly frank, but I can’t really call it honest.Report

            • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

              It is more that I have learned not to trust the people advocating options 1 and 2 with the most basic of facts.

              It could be my ignorance, 1 or 2 could be correct. I am happy to look at an argument to demonstrate either.

              I haven’t read the best arguments for those positions but I have read Krugman. I don’t think I entirely followed his points but if we don’t know which of the three it is then why call people dishonest for trying to make the case for one of the three.Report

            • Avatar Simon K says:

              @Sam M, On Death Panels, I’m almost with David Brooks, who basically said its a shame there are no death panels in the bill because they’d be a good idea.

              “Death Panel” really is an inspired piece of propaganda terminology. It implies some secret committee sitting in judgement over each individual case. In practise of course what would really happen is that there’d be guidelines on what treatment could be provided or reimbursed based on cost effectiveness- this happens in countries with more transparently public healthcare systems and surreptitiously in the US.Report

          • Avatar Aaron says:

            @Jason Kuznicki, a joke about Sarah Palin and a twenty plus year old Supreme Court nomination fight are pretty small potatoes.Report

          • Avatar gregiank says:

            @Jason Kuznicki, she something pretty close to that. and did anybody really go from being fine with her to opposing just based on that statement, i doubt it.Report

            • Avatar Aaron says:

              @gregiank, Jason, I think you’re kind of shifting the goal posts of your argument here — I thought we were talking about politicians manipulating the limited time/effort that people put in to following politics to create false assumptions? I would say that your examples of the ACA and the stimulus are, at best, debatable, and not an example of cynically used falsehoods to manipulate an ignorant audience. If you’re trying to move minds on something like the economy, wonkish arguments about CBO scores is not the most effective way to go about it. Since most of the major score agencies decided that the ACA act will reduce the deficit, and that the stimulus did help create jobs, if anything arguing the opposite would be an example of your claim!Report

            • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:


              What if they reached their conclusions through transparent trickery, which they did? And what if people decide “I’ve got limited time and energy to spend on this question”?

              That seems to be precisely what’s happened. It’s a great deal more sophisticated, more wonkish as I said. But the knowledge of rational ignorance and the willingness to manipulate it seem both to be the same.Report

          • Avatar barb says:

            @Jason Kuznicki Ah, but take a look at the difference. “I can see Russia from my house” is a lot closer to what Palin said (she knows about foreign policy because Alaska is so close to Russia, you can see it from some points in the state).

            Yes, it is an exaggeration, but it isn’t entirely the opposite of what Palin was saying.

            I find it interesting that you didn’t have any examples for the post and are asking for liberal examples and this is what we’ve come up with so far.

            There is greater truth to the “I can see Russia from my house” than there is to any of the number of things you listed on the conservative side.

            The poster who mentions liberals as being technocratic is onto it. Moving forward, there is no template or tradition to follow. Decisions are therefore made using more empiricism and reason than those who would defer to the way things have always been done. Some appeal to science and research some appeal to the Bible or Atlas Shrugged.Report

        • Avatar MadRocketScientist says:

          @ThatPirateGuy, How about “Libertarians are closeted Republicans”Report

          • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:


            That hits a lot of targets on the left. If you are talking about the left as a whole then I’d say you have a direct hit there.

            If you are talking about the left that posts on this site then you are much less accurate.Report

            • Avatar MadRocketScientist says:

              @ThatPirateGuy, OH, it’s the generalized left. I know that people who actually think about politics understand that there is a profound difference, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had folks on the left call me a Republican after I told them I lean libertarian.Report

            • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

              No need to tell me as I am imagining a large number that I suspect is too small.Report

      • Avatar Aaron says:

        @Jason Kuznicki, Here’s the thing — we’re talking about how these movements interact with the general, not-well-informed public. It’s fine to say, “Well, Daniel Larison is a conservative and he’s against the wars” — or Frum, or Friedersdorf, or Douthat or whichever intellectual conservative who has absolutely zero impact on the movement, but these views are, at best, marginal in the conservative movement, or completely derided. The popular conservative movement is anti-government and anti-tax. They are not anti-deficit, and they aren’t anti-Medicare (although they are anti-Medicaid). You mention that government grew during conservative governance, as it did under liberal governance. But what kind of growth? Under conservatives, we see a growth of the military, of the debt, and of assistance to (white) seniors. We see reductions in services to the poor, to children and minorities. I agree wholeheartedly that there is a terminal intellectual dissonance at the heart of modern conservatism. When people like Andrew Sullivan and David Frum go off on airy variations on the theme “what is real conservatism,” they’re meditating on the best of what it could be, not what it is and where it’s going. Sullivan can go on and on about his “conservatism of doubt” all he wants, but the fact remains that the self-identified conservatives in power

        You say, “Republicans can’t be called the party of smaller government at all. Lower taxes, yes, but not smaller government, and this in the long term is irresponsible, even if no one is paying attention.” Of course they can’t be – it’s self evident that their interest in smaller government is nonsense. But that’s not what people believe. If we’re talking about how Republicans manipulate people through managed ignorance (which is a great phrase, by the way) the image that they have presented to the public (small government, lower taxes) is part and parcel of that.

        You also say: “I think liberals, too, could easily profit from ignorance, they just don’t seem to do it so readily.” I don’t believe that liberals are morally superior to conservatives, so there must be a reason why liberals are less likely to use ignorance as a political weapon. I would posit that it’s because progressivism actual values fact-based governance. If liberal-aligned politicians felt that an ignorant public was useful for their reelection, they would use that. But it doesn’t make sense by virtue of the fact that they are liberal-aligned in the first place.

        The famous libertarian $100 bill on the sidewalk is a good example of the dichotomy. Liberals take it to heart: the poor are still poor, the market hasn’t managed to correct this, so government should do something. If the market was going to solve the problem of endemic, generational poverty, it would have. So, Johnson creates the Great Society and tries to address it. Reagan comes in and says, “Well, there are still poor people, let’s have some tax cuts and less government.” It doesn’t matter whether or not the programs were working, or whether they could have been improved – and it certainly doesn’t matter that Reagan increased taxes and the government, because when people – our managedly ignorant masses – think of Reagan, they think of less taxes and less government. “Government isn’t the solution, it’s the problem.”

        Finally, you say that liberals want to government to grow, and I would agree with you that, by and large, that’s true. But they don’t want it to grow as a matter of principle – they want it to grow because, by growing, it can help people. If shrinking it would help people, than I believe that’s what they would advocate – look at the welfare reform and budget deals of the ‘90s. Can you cite an example of a major Democratic politician, on the national level, saying something as ignorant and as wrong as McConnell and Boehner’s support of imaginary Laffer Curve economics of the last month or so? That was then repeated endlessly and as widely accepted on the left as the right’s anti-tax dogma?Report

        • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:


          Can you cite an example of a major Democratic politician, on the national level, saying something as ignorant and as wrong as McConnell and Boehner’s support of imaginary Laffer Curve economics of the last month or so? That was then repeated endlessly and as widely accepted on the left as the right’s anti-tax dogma?

          The Laffer Curve is not imaginary, though I do personally doubt the government stands much more to gain out of it, at least with the structural realities being what they are right now.

          I’d add that it’s not the job of economic policy to maximize government revenue. Consider that you’re not a cash machine for politicians, and you should never vote for anyone who treats you that way. One would think Republicans of all people should know this, but it seems that they don’t.

          In any case, this isn’t to my mind quite what I’m getting at in the original post, although the pervasive view that the Republicans stand for smaller government certainly is.Report

        • Avatar Sam M says:


          “If shrinking it would help people, than I believe that’s what they would advocate”

          Which is exactly why the Democrats in power have moved to eliminate ag subsidies and the drug war?

          I guess a few of them might be intellectually oppposed to doing these things, but as far as I can tell, huge swaths of the liberal elite agree with me on the merits of these issues. Yet they do not act. It’s almost as if they fear the political ramifications.Report

      • Avatar Bob Cheeks says:

        @Jason Kuznicki, The fact that you consider the Bush Administration “conservative” may be the best example of ‘ignorance’ in the entire piece, including comments.Report

  2. Avatar Joe Carter says:


    While I appreciate your larger point, you seem to be engaging in a bit of willful ignorance of your own. For example, you say, “Same-sex marriage is going to force churches to do things they don’t believe in.”

    That is already happening and is likely to continue even more in the future. Many legal scholars will even admit that not only will religious liberties be curtailed to accommodate homosexual “right” but that such “anti-discrimination” measures are a good thing.

    See, for instance, this article which was written over four years ago: Nothing substantive has changed since then.Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

      @Joe Carter,

      If churches want to take state money, they have to play by state rules. If they don’t want to play by state rules, they are free to decline the money.

      No one is forcing anything there.Report

      • Avatar Joe Carter says:

        @Jason Kuznicki,

        This seems to conflict with your original claim. I’m not sure what you mean since few churches take state money (hopefully you aren’t referring to tax-exempt status). But even those churches that do not take state money will not be exempt from such regulations.Report

        • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

          @Joe Carter,

          I see no evidence in the above article to contradict what I claimed. If you want to get state contracts, and hence state money, you play by state rules. If not, no one is forcing you to get state contracts. You make your bed, and you lie in it. Your choice.Report

    • @Joe Carter, Joe – the trouble here is that it’s not same-sex marriage that’s causing the problem for churches, but instead it’s anti-discrimination laws. In the absence of anti-discrimination laws, there is no possible conflict between SSM and freedom of religion. At most, SSM simply expands the scope of long-extant conflicts between anti-discrimination laws and SSM, as I wrote last year:

    • Avatar Travis says:

      @Joe Carter, so you think a church should be able to take tax dollars (some of which are paid by gay and lesbian citizens) to pay for its operations while refusing to provide those tax-subsidized services to gay and lesbian citizens for no reason other than “our book sez so?”Report

    • Avatar Lyle says:

      @Joe Carter, But if you take a tax exemption you are taking state money. (Its just disguised). On same sex marriage its real simple, marriage is here by abolished for all. Any two adults desiring to enter a civil union may go to the courthouse and register the fact of the civil partnership which has all of the rights and responsibilities of the former married state. The churches have nothing whatsoever to do with the civil union. They may engage in whatever rites they wish to set up whatever relationships they wish to endorse.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        @Lyle, But if you take a tax exemption you are taking state money

        Only if you believe that the money belongs to the state in the first place.

        If you believe that the state does not own the money first, that changes the dynamic significantly.Report

        • Avatar E.C. Gach says:

          @Jaybird, It doesn’t require one to believe that the money belongs to the government a priori, only that, since the tax is a law, and all abide by it, any exemption is equivalent to a rebate/money handout.

          But again, the real issue was discrimination and service contracts. So why are you continuing on the exemptions?Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            @E.C. Gach, would it qualify as a First Amendment issue?

            Would the whole “here’s a (to use your word) ‘handout’ and, so long as you keep the following viewpoints, you can keep getting it” qualify as a violation of the church’s First Amendment rights?Report

            • Avatar E.C. Gach says:

              @Jaybird, well the whole system of non-profit status, and the many classifications, are all awarded depending on “viewpoints,” if you allow “viewpoints” to include political views.

              But I’m not sure, are you talking about First Amendment rights with regard to exemption status or to receiving service contracts?Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              @E.C. Gach , my solution involves getting rid of taxation of individuals entirely and setting up a system where only organizations are taxed.

              You want limited liability? Congrats, you’re now taxable.

              But that tends to get called “nuts”, so I’m stuck with wondering whether you would have agreed with LBJ’s right to threaten revoking the tax exempt status of African-American churches who spoke against segregation from the pulpit.

              Personally, I think that such a threat is bullshit and that the government’s act of danging carrots/sticks amounts to a violation of First Amendment rights.

              But I’m sort of nutty when it comes to the First Amendment.

              I’m sure that folks who are much more reasonable about liberty might explain how churches ought to lose their tax exemption for speaking certain things from the pulpit… at which point what LBJ did was merely excessive use of power rather than wrongful.Report

            • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:


              I just don’t they should have it period. They can pay taxes like everyone else and as a bonus we don’t have to worry about the irs selectively targeting some churches for talking about politics as all of them would be free to do so.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              @ThatPirateGuy, Churches in the US predate taxation of Churches in the US.

              Indeed, many churches have been such things as folks going over to Haggard’s house and having a Bible Study in the basement… then they want to rent a bigger place, then a bigger one, then have ministries to the poor/hungry…

              The idea of “free speech” only being allowed after the piper is paid?

              I find that creepy.Report

          • Avatar Lyle says:

            @E.C. Gach, The way to look at is the law says a tax is imposed on property of x%. Then the law says except for some kinds of property and some owners. So its a tax subsidy to churches if you believe the general is the case and then the exception. So the exception is really giving someone something.Report

  3. Avatar Koz says:

    “Out in real America, I strongly suspect that there’s a class of people that never got the whole story about Shirley Sherrod. They heard that she was a racist against white people and that she works for Obama. That’s all they know, and that’s all they will know.”

    Why would you guess that? Noah Millman thinks (and I agree with him) that this story only got traction after the Administration fired her.Report

  4. Avatar Koz says:

    Au contraire mon ami, it’s crucial to your thesis that there’s this mass of gullible ignorant people ready to consume the latest load of garbage. Whether that’s true or not, your example doesn’t support it.

    Like you mentioned in your response to Aaron, the Laffer Curve is quite real and empirically validated in fact. It is true that an overeager person might claim that tax cuts pay for themselves, which is not true in general and does not follow from the Laffer Curve and is likely an unsupportable exaggeration of it. Well, what exactly did Boehner or McConnell say? If they said that tax cuts pay for themselves we should call them out for that but I think they were probably more careful and we shouldn’t assume that they are ignorant unless there’s real case for that.

    Every example in your original post was similarly dubious, to the point where I’m wondering who the ignorant one is supposed to be.Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:


      So we did find WMD in Iraq?Report

        • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:


          Ah, yes, one leftover shell that someone happened to have scavenged from the last war.

          Fully worth it. Worth every penny of the hundreds of billions spent.

          You and I both know that this is hardly what’s meant by “finding WMD.” For starters, the acronym is usually understood to mean weapons of mass destruction.Report

          • Avatar Koz says:

            “You and I both know that this is hardly what’s meant by “finding WMD.””

            I don’t know that at all (it is what you asked after all).

            What I do know is that you have really sloppy standards for imputing ignorance to other people.Report

            • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:


              Tell me, does “WMD” stand for weapon of mass destruction? Because that doesn’t even hold up grammatically, you know.Report

            • Avatar Koz says:

              Geez, you should learn the capability of being embarrassed, so you can walk back when you write something stupid (in fact, IIRC that was your complaint against Breitbart yesterday).


              Even if your plural/singular argument held water it would still be stupid because taboo on WMD use doesn’t depend using them more than once, if in fact it’s a plural in the first place which isn’t exactly clear because both the singular and the plural would have the same acronym.

              Please tell me you’re not really going to continue down this road.Report

            • @Koz, You do realize that those two stories you linked refer to precisely the same incident, right?Report

            • @Koz, Even one “Weapon of Mass Destruction,” in order to be such, must be capable of causing “mass destruction.” A 20 year old, improperly marked, and improperly stored shell that has been degraded to the point of being useless cannot possibly be a “weapon of mass destruction.” You may as well say that Belgium has a WMD program because there are unexploded WWI mustard gas shells lying around buried here and there.

              It seems worth pointing out that Jason’s definition of “Managed ignorance” is “To make a space for the ignorant, and to ensure that those kept in managed ignorance get just enough news, and never more than they need to remain exactly where they are.

              (My emphasis).

              Holding this story up as proof that Iraq had an ongoing WMD program as we alleged to the world seems to be exactly what Jason is referring to: just enough information to reinforce existing prejudices, and no more.Report

            • Avatar Koz says:

              “Even one “Weapon of Mass Destruction,” in order to be such, must be capable of causing “mass destruction.” A 20 year old, improperly marked, and improperly stored shell that has been degraded to the point of being useless cannot possibly be a “weapon of mass destruction.””

              As a side note this isn’t necessarily true. The “good” thing about WMD is that very often they don’t work and even when they do work might be substantially less lethal than “conventional” weapons depending on circumstances (but even so they’re still WMD).Report

          • Avatar Koz says:

            “Holding this story up as proof that Iraq had an ongoing WMD program…

            No no. I’m holding this story up as demonstration that we did find WMD in Iraq contrary to Jason’s question earlier.

            The WMD argument on this thread is the weakest thing that I’ve ever read from Jason and I’m quite a bit surprised that he really wants to stand behind it.

            The bigger picture is this: Jason has been pushed back on every example he used in the original post (except torture, and the story would be the same there).

            This business of managed ignorance may be true sometimes, but his assertion of it can’t have very much credibility when the examples he uses for it are in fact the expression of his own ignorance projected onto other people whose knowledge is more nuanced that he gives us credit for.Report

            • Avatar Bob Cheeks says:

              @Koz, Right On, Koz!
              To embrace the current regime, to embrace the statist principles of the commie-Dems is to proudly exist not only in ignorance but to live a life profoundly evil.
              To be a commie-dem is to sever the bond between Reason and existence in openness to the Ground; it is the willful closure of existence and opens the door to any number of psychopathologies, many of which are clearly illustrated in this thread.Report

        • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

          @Koz, Also:

          On the brink of war, and in front of the whole world, the United States government
          asserted that Saddam Hussein had reconstituted his nuclear weapons
          program, had biological weapons and mobile biological weapon production
          facilities, and had stockpiled and was producing chemical weapons. All of
          this was based on the assessments of the U.S. Intelligence Community. And
          not one bit of it could be confirmed when the war was over.

          Hard to square with the persistent belief, even to the present day, that such things were true.Report

          • Avatar Bo says:

            not one bit of it could be confirmed when the war was over.

            Interesting use of past tense there, commissioner.Report

            • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:


              I didn’t think I needed to repeat the other part, but I will: People still believed it, even after it had been disproven. They continue to believe it now, as this thread amply demonstrates. As Mark Thompson says elsewhere, “You may as well say that Belgium has a WMD program because there are unexploded WWI mustard gas shells lying around buried here and there.”

              Yep. “We found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq” is plainly, simply false. We found one shell, which qualifies at best as a weapon of mass destruction. And a rather pathetic one at that, since it doesn’t appear that even its former owners knew what they had, and since it was not even able to cause “mass” destruction — unless by “mass destruction” you mean “made a couple of soldiers temporarily sick.”Report

            • Avatar Bo says:

              You’re preaching to the choir here, Jason. I just thought it was funny to see a report that was over 5 years old referring to the Iraq War in the past tense.Report

    • Avatar Aaron says:

      @Koz, I would just like to point out that I’m not arguing that the Laffer Curve doesn’t exist, I just think it’s effects are a lot more marginal than are popularly represented. And I wouldn’t say that Boehner and McConnell are ignorant, just mendacious.Report

      • Avatar Koz says:

        In that case it would depend on what exactly Boehner and McConnell represented. I can’t say for sure one way or the other, because I’m not familiar with this incident.Report

  5. Avatar Bob says:

    Your thoughts are an excellent riff on “epistemic closure,” and “managed ignorance” deserves a place in the political lexicon. (Balloon Juice should add it as a tag.).This aspect of today’s Republican Party, movement conservationism, Real America or whatever name it travels under can’t be pointed out enough.


  6. Avatar Andy Smith says:

    “Climategate destroyed global warming science forever.”

    It certainly didn’t destroy the science, the question is how much (that nuance again) it destroyed people’s faith in science. As a scientist who takes global warming studies very seriously, I’m troubled by overstated claims on both sides. Consider this passage from Paul Krugman yesterday (I couldn’t find a more appropriate place to post it than here, so bear with me if it doesn’t quite fit the simple ignorance theme here):

    You’ve probably heard about the accusations leveled against climate researchers — allegations of fabricated data, the supposedly damning e-mail messages of “Climategate,” and so on. What you may not have heard, because it has received much less publicity, is that every one of these supposed scandals was eventually unmasked as a fraud concocted by opponents of climate action, then bought into by many in the news media. You don’t believe such things can happen? Think Shirley Sherrod.

    I have no idea what Krugman is referring to, unless he just means that there was some attempt to exonerate the accused parties. But many of the charges were demonstrated to be real; the most optimistic assessment (from the point of view of global warming supporters) was that the playing loose with the data, attempts to suppress certain publications, etc., did not have a major impact on the conclusions supporting global warming. That is a very different thing from saying that it was all fraud on the part of global warming skeptics.Report

    • Avatar MadRocketScientist says:

      @Andy Smith, Re: Krugman:

      I have to say, rarely have I seen a such a sad display of a respected & accoladed economics scholar falling to the siren call of political punditry. I am reminded of the cliche plot of the nerdy kid suddenly finding popularity and running with it beyond all sense & reason.

      I’ve seen men of math & science who’ve managed the limelight with dignity & humility (Sagan, Hawking, etc.), but Krugman rants like only he knows the “Truth”, and everyone else is an idiot, and here’s why. Like he’s preaching the Keynesian religion.Report

    • Avatar TTT says:

      @Andy Smith,
      There were no “attempts to suppress certain publications”. There was angry venting about the unprofessional and corrupt practices of ONE publication, a specific journal that in 2003 published a there’s-no-global-warming article that was full of terrible data flaws and then refused to allow any follow-up critiques. This behavior was so out-of-bounds in academia that fully half the journal’s editorial staff RESIGNED. Of course a climate scientist is going to bitch about that in 2003!

      This is a perfect example of how the “Climategate” accusations are nothing but goalpost-shifting and thoughtcrime. Nobody actually DID anything. You’ve got nothing but some angry private emails about “I hate my critics and wish they would shut up,” and in one case, “I wish I could punch my critics in the nose.” For writing that email, should someone be arrested for assault? Remember, thoughtcrime does not entail death, thoughtcrime IS death.Report

  7. Avatar Sam M says:

    Would the claim that all those glaciers are going to be gone by, like, tomorrow, qualify as a preoposterous claim, easily debunked, that made liberals more ignorant on purpose?Report

    • Avatar Travis says:

      @Sam M, I’m not sure anyone believed that glaciers would be gone “tomorrow.” That globally, glaciers are shrinking at a dramatic rate is essentially indisputable, however.Report

      • Avatar Sam M says:


        “The UN’s climate science body has admitted that a claim made in its 2007 report – that Himalayan glaciers could melt away by 2035 – was unfounded.”

        The Guardian, January 2010Report

        • Avatar gregiank says:

          @Sam M, and yet glaciers are still shrinking around the world. picking out one misstatement to avoid dealing with a major issue seems to be what Jason was originally talking about.Report

        • Avatar E.C. Gach says:

          @Sam M, So not to “dramatic rate” as well? Does the glaciers not being completely gone in 25 years mean they aren’t still shrinking at an alarming rate, given their levels in the recent past?Report

          • Avatar Sam M says:

            @E.C. Gach,

            If you want to know why the scientists involved in this situation made factually preposterous claims that were easily proven incorrect, you will have to ask them. I have no idea.

            I am not a global warming denialist, if that matters. But a commenter above asked if there were any examples of “liberals” putting out preposterous claims. This appears to be an instance of that happening. Does it falsify global warming? No. Nobody said it did.

            If there is a single wing of the “liberal” establishment that is prone to this kind of fear mongering, however, I would say it’s the environmental movement.

            Hey, you might disagree. But someone asked for an example.

            Just to be clear, the glaciers won’t be gone by 2035. Would it still be bad if thhey disappear 100 years after that? Sure! So again, I am not sure why they flogged that stat. But they did.Report

  8. Avatar gregiank says:

    @jaybird “(For the record, I’m glad the guy didn’t get on the SCotUS. “Inkblot”, my ass. But the MF’er was qualified and ought to have been nominated.)”

    Well thanks for proving my point. He had views that were a real problem for a lot of people. Being qualified doesn’t mean he gets to be on the court.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      @gregiank, how’s about that Sonia Maria Sotomayor?Report

      • Avatar gregiank says:

        @Jaybird, what about her? being qualified doesn’t mean you should get to be a supreme. Is there no view so abhorrent that would mean someone couldn’t be a supreme? The lesson must presidents and justices have unfortunately taken is to avoid expressing views or , in some case, having much of a paper trail.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          @gregiank, Is there no view so abhorrent that would mean someone couldn’t be a supreme?

          A view without legal justification, precedent, or constituency.

          Or would you prefer to give the game away?Report

          • Avatar gregiank says:

            @Jaybird, “A view without legal justification, precedent, or constituency.”

            Well that really narrows things down.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              @gregiank, could you give an example of a view that would be so abhorrent that it wouldn’t ever belong in a public official?

              Like “constitutional protections ought to be extended to gestating fetuses who have achieved viability”? Is that view so obviously vile and evil that decent folk ought shun someone who thinks such a thing?

              “Owners of private businesses have the right to refuse service to anyone”?

              “The Commerce Clause shouldn’t apply to non-monetary exchanges of goods/services”?

              “The Second Amendment protects the rights of a private citizen to own a rifle capable of three-round bursts”?

              “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”?Report

  9. Avatar E.C. Gach says:

    I think Aaron made this point:

    “If shrinking it would help people, than I believe that’s what they would advocate.”

    I think there is something to the “fact”/”principle” dichotomy is a good one, or at least an interesting prism through which to look at some of these issues.

    I think Liberals, on the whole, do have a higher regard for the “facts” then Conservatives, on average. And by “facts” I mean academic knowledge, empirical evidence, scientific studies, mathematical models, etc. And of course, all of this “factual” knowledge/information has its own flaws, and I’m not referring to it as “fact” to somehow elevate it above principle, just to help differentiate it.

    American Conservatives, at least the current popular mood of many of them, on the whole, being skeptical of “progress” and the technocrats/policy wonks/scientists in general (and I do mean a healthy skepticism), seem to be prone to distrusting the “facts” (almost to the point that some french philosophers and cultural theorists are, ironically enough).

    While Liberals are skeptical of the “principles” of Conservatives, I think especially due to troubling mood of cultural/moral relativism that set in over the last few decades, Conservatives are skeptical of the unprincipled allegiance of Liberals to their models and wonkish policy analysis.

    So to get back to Aaron’s quote, if Liberals saw a change in the empirical/scientific evidence, they would change policy course. Similarly, Conservatives, would NOT change course, whether on issues of government size or taxes, because their stance is one on “principle.” So what if policy A is better for helping the poor, that doesn’t change anything for Connie the Conservative, who is opposed to any social net policy on principle, not it’s efficacy.

    And I don’t say that to denigrate Conservatives at all, so hopefully no one takes it that way. Liberals, I think it could be argued, have a similar extremism in their reverence of empirical evidence. The principles of Progressive Liberals always seem to lag far behind their science and models.

    Obviously I’m blowing up these two tendencies on either side to try to illustrate a point, one that may or may not be helpful/accurate. On the whole, both Liberals and Conservatives negotiate between principles and facts, between pragmatic realism and moral idealism. But I do think it’s safe to say that both groups lean more towards one than the other, and that that helps explain the difference in how these two ideological groups operate and participate in discourse.Report

  10. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Oh, another “liberal” thing that may qualify:

    “Obama is better on raiding medicinal marijuana joints than Bush.”Report

    • Avatar E.C. Gach says:

      @Jaybird, continuing on tax exemption, if your arguing that the diverse and convoluted classification system for how non-profit corporations are coercive, and as a result, go against the First Amendment, I think I could agree.

      There should be much more consistent rules across the board.

      That said, the issue above of exemption/service contracts being used to coerce/destroy churches just doesn’t seem to sit right. Like saying, your hurting me by taking away a reward. Churches already have special status (along with some other non-profits: education, charitable, etc.) so taking away a special status hardly seems a targeted dismantling of the institution.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        @E.C. Gach, the special status is a holdover from when the state didn’t have the ability to intrude.

        Now it has the ability to intrude.

        The fact that it retains the previous status strikes me as normal… rather than “special”.

        “Pay your money and retain free speech” ain’t what it’s pretending to be.Report

        • Avatar E.C. Gach says:

          @Jaybird, it becomes special when the rules change.

          New taxation rules were implemented. The approach may have been incremental, but at some point you look at it not as a problem of hey churches never use to be taxed, to hey, why are institutions that are very similar to churches taxed differently. Can I form my own church in my basement and start getting tax exemptions? At some point you have to admit that all of the “special” rules (i.e. different non-profit classifications) automatically yield “special” status to those institutions that they favor, even while other institutions with little fundamental difference are held to different standards/subject to different rules.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            @E.C. Gach, Can I form my own church in my basement and start getting tax exemptions?

            IANAA, but I believe you can.

            Haggard did.Report

            • Avatar E.C. Gach says:

              @Jaybird, and that to me is the craziness of it. So going back to your original point (I think), tax them or don’t, but do it consistently.

              And to the point about gay marriage destroying the churches. If tax status is so arbitrarily determined, it’s hard to see it as a malicious intent to destroy churches so much as a completely convoluted tax system manipulated by specific interest groups rather than the aggregate of voters.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              @E.C. Gach, this is why peaceful assembly, and free speech, and the whole something something religion thing part of the First Amendment is so weird.

              At what point are you suppressing speech and/or peaceful assembly?Report

  11. Avatar gregiank says:

    @jaybird- How about if i don’t dig the 9th is just an inkblot or his apparent belief that there isn’t any sort of right to privacy. Are those okay reasons to not want him?Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      @gregiank, it’s one thing to not want a particular justice.

      It’s quite another to abuse the system in order to prevent the justice from making it to the SCotUS. “In Kagan’s America, the government has the right to compel you to eat 3 servings of vegetables a day.”Report

      • Avatar gregiank says:

        @Jaybird, huh? In what way was the system abused? Bork was treated harshly. But his views were considered a serious problem by lots of people. Why is wrong to consider his views? That doesn’t mean there should be particular litmus tests but it seems reasonable to not want a guy who doesn’t dig the whole privacy thang.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          @gregiank, Sure. It’s perfectly reasonable to vilify people in the press?


          Read Teddy’s speech again. How easily could you write such a speech about Kagan?

          In Kagan’s America the cops are kicking down your door because the Executive has called you a “domestic terrorist” and that’s all they need for you to be locked up indefinitely?

          Did you know, in Kagan’s America, it’s okay for the government to ban books?

          Did you know, in Kagan’s America, it’s okay for Maine to refuse to recognize a same-sex marriage recognized by Massachusetts?

          Call your senator and block this fascist! Today!

          How difficult would that be?

          I see it as one hell of a dirty trick and that it gives the game of the Supreme Court away once and for all.Report

  12. Avatar Mike Farmer says:


    You must be having an off day, or the modern liberalism here at LOOG has infected your judgement. I hate tit for tat arguments, especially when “conservatives” and “liberals” are for the most part statists dressed in two sets of clothing managing ignorance for two sections of society, but I could write from now until the sun rises on the Atlantic ocean tomorrow morning listing examples of managed ignorance among modern iberals.Report

  13. Avatar gregiank says:

    @Mike Farmer, I think there is a disticntion to be made between beliefs we can argue and disagree about and false media stories that peopel believe to be true. We can each honorabley disagree out the role of the state. Each of us would have not only facts but ideals which back up our policy preferences. But what Jason and Mark noted were beliefs that are pushed by conserviives media orgs that have no factual basis. I have no doubt in a year and 10 years a few people will still raise sherrod as an example of how blacks are keeping the white man down based only on the original story with no thought or knowledge about the rest of the story.Report

    • Avatar 62across says:

      @gregiank, one of the objectives of the “managed ignorance” Jason is commenting on is the erosion of the very idea of a “factual basis” for what one believes. Everything is open to interpretation.

      There is some hope that with time will come some objectivity (history will judge, as it were), but since so much of this thread has gone to what happened during a SCOTUS confirmation process 23 years ago, there may be little comfort to be found there either.Report

    • @gregiank, One minor quibble from me, although I can’t speak for Jason on this. It’s not that there’s “no factual basis” for the stories; it’s that the “factual basis” for the stories is exceedingly limited and completely devoid of context but presented as if it were in fact a comprehensive description of all the relevant facts. It may be factually accurate to say that a WMD was found in Iraq after we invaded, but to state this as a meaningful fact in support of our casus belli, without any context or additionally relevant facts, is to simply attempt to reinforce ignorance in your audience.Report

      • Avatar gregiank says:

        @Mark Thompson, I’ll buy that.Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

        @Mark Thompson,

        If it’s factually accurate to say that we found WMD (not we found a “weapon” of mass destruction, but weapons, as is implied by the lack of article), then it’s also factually accurate to say that because I have a cold today, I’m conducting a germ warfare program. It’s really that much of a distortion.

        I’m not backing down one inch about this. Seriously, one quasi-dud of a leftover shell was the best they could do? Even I thought they’d do better than that, and I never supported the war in the first place.Report

        • @Jason Kuznicki, Would it help if I said that I meant to imply that it’s factually accurate in the same way that quoting “I’m not backing down one inch about this” as “I’m . . . backing down . . . about this” is factually accurate?Report

        • Avatar Koz says:

          “If it’s factually accurate to say that we found WMD (not we found a “weapon” of mass destruction, but weapons, as is implied by the lack of article)…”

          IIRC this is the worst argument in the whole history of LOOG. It would be a horrible argument even if it’s true, but it’s false on its own terms anyway. One sarin shell and one mustard gas shell combine to plural WMD which seems to have escaped Jason’s notice.

          Jason, please step back from the edge on this (not just the WMD, but the whole post).Report

          • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:


            As I’ve noted elsewhere on this thread, the mustard gas was no longer chemically active, so it doesn’t count. At best you have a single shell on your side, which is a complete joke.

            And the sheer fact that you keep bringing it up only proves my larger point, which is that dishonest conservatives who ought to know better (that’s you) will say things that are designed to trick people who don’t have time to know better (that’s “we found WMD”), and these people will go on to imagine things that were wholly, completely untrue, including the nonsense about mobile weapons labs and a revitalized nuclear program, which are blatantly false. You’re not among the ignorant ones here, so don’t flatter yourself. No, you’re their bandleader. Congrats, my friend.Report

            • Avatar Koz says:

              “……dishonest conservatives who ought to know better (that’s you) will say things that are designed to trick people who don’t have time to know better (that’s “we found WMD”), and these people will go on to imagine things that were wholly, completely untrue,…..”

              Ah yes, the great unnamed “people”. Let’s stipulate that these people exist just as you say, ie gullible sorts waiting engage their imaginations toward all number of fanciful things just as soon as I unleash my sophistry upon them. Well, are such people the likely audience of this site; do they often participate in the discussions here?

              If not, let’s set aside this “people” dodge. Why not consider the more likely case, which is that most or all what I’ve written on this thread has been to you and about your train of thought?Report

      • Avatar Koz says:

        “it’s that the “factual basis” for the stories is exceedingly limited and completely devoid of context but presented as if it were in fact a comprehensive description of all the relevant facts.”

        Mark, you’re misrepresenting the context of my comments (and I can’t see who else you might be talking about besides me). That wouldn’t necessarily be that big a deal except that my line of argument in this thread has been pretty clear and the only way your argument works is to add “context” that isn’t there.

        I didn’t write anything about casus belli or ongoing WMD program. What I did do is correct Jason who asserted that we didn’t find WMD in Iraq when in fact we did. This is in the context of Jason’s larger argument bemoaning the ignorance of other parties. I point out that to some extent the ignorant ones aren’t them, it’s him.

        The original post asserted as facts 1. factoids which aren’t facts and 2. highly contentious arguments which aren’t facts. Then these supposed “facts” were deployed in the service of banal conventional wisdom, and anyone with a contrary point of view was labeled ignorant. Managed ignorance is as good a description for that as any.Report

        • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:


          No, we didn’t find WMD in Iraq, unless you mean to expand that acronym to say “We found weapon of mass destruction,” in the singular, which has sort of a cave-man sound to it.

          In such case I’d be forced to correct your grammar and laugh at you… some more. Would you like me to do that?Report

          • @Jason Kuznicki, “We found unusable, long-since deteriorated weapon of mass destruction.”


            • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

              @Mark Thompson,

              True enough. And behind that single shell hides a whole hell of a lot. Harping on the claim that “we found WMD” is at best ignorant and at worst deceptive — because the assumed meaning of these words will be nothing at all like the reality of a single defective shell. (Really, folks? You can’t do better than that, when Saddam used the stuff on his own people? Seriously?)

              Speaking of which, Washington, DC appears to have a worse chemical weapons problem than Iraq.Report

            • Avatar Koz says:

              “We found unusable, long-since deteriorated weapon of mass destruction.””

              Right, IOW we found WMD in Iraq.Report

            • Avatar Koz says:

              “Harping on the claim that “we found WMD” is at best ignorant and at worst deceptive — because the assumed meaning of these words will be nothing at all like the reality of a single defective shell.”

              Bullshit. In particular, you don’t have to guess about the assumed meaning of these words for other parties when I’m helpfully illuminating the exact meaning of these words for you clearly in this very thread.Report

            • @Koz, In order to be a WMD, something has to be capable of causing mass destruction. This is, frankly, a tautology.Report

            • Avatar Koz says:

              “In order to be a WMD, something has to be capable of causing mass destruction. This is, frankly, a tautology.”

              Response below should be here.Report

          • Avatar Koz says:

            “No, we didn’t find WMD in Iraq, unless you mean to expand that acronym to say “We found weapon of mass destruction,” in the singular, which has sort of a cave-man sound to it.”

            Really? See here:


          • Avatar Koz says:

            Ok, mustard gas and sarin are chemical poison gases which have always been considered WMD as long as that term has been in common use (see the Wikipedia link below), and are in fact capable of mass destruction, though of course that acronym is used mostly as a term of art rather than literally.

            A particular shell may be inert, because WMD deteriorate and need more or less constant maintenance, just like I mentioned before. It’s still WMD.

            And, the consequences of having found WMD, as it applies to this thread, are also clear and have nothing to do with casus belli or ongoing programs, like I also mentioned before.Report

            • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:


              I’ll take under advisory your decision that articles aren’t important in the English language. Also, remind me not to eat at your place — because when I ask for bread, you’ll probably give me moldy bread, and then say, “well, it’s bread, isn’t it?”Report

            • @Koz,
              “A particular shell may be inert, because WMD deteriorate and need more or less constant maintenance, just like I mentioned before. It’s still WMD.”

              This is a tremendous leap in logic. I am well aware of the history of sarin gas and mustard gas as being considered WMDs historically. A shell that is deteriorated to the point of non-functionality because of the failure of the shell’s owner to treat it as a WMD (ie, because the owner ended its WMD program) just isn’t a WMD. As I said before, you may as well say that Belgium has WMDs because of some unexploded shells buried on the outskirts of Ypres.

              “And, the consequences of having found WMD, as it applies to this thread, are also clear and have nothing to do with casus belli or ongoing programs, like I also mentioned before.”

              What consequences are you referring to here?

              Frankly, I have heard this argument that we found WMDs many times before. In each instance, the context of the argument has been in response to a claim by a war opponent that the war was not justified because there were no WMDs in Iraq. Responding to this by saying “but there were WMDs,” while thinking of one or two decades-old, long-deteriorated shells….well, it’s a bit misleading and disingenuous, no? It also has everything in the world to do with casus belli, since that’s the context in which the point was brought up.Report

            • Avatar Koz says:

              “A shell that is deteriorated to the point of non-functionality because of the failure of the shell’s owner to treat it as a WMD (ie, because the owner ended its WMD program) just isn’t a WMD.”

              That’s a fair point. A WMD munition rendered useless because the command authority specifically decides to decommission it is no longer WMD. Otoh, a WMD muntion rendered useless because of sloppy accounting and/or poor maintenance is not only WMD, it’s the default state of WMD just about everywhere in the world except for the publically admitted nuclear powers, Israel and maybe India/Pakistan. Frankly I have no idea how that mustard gas shell got where it did, either case seems plausible to me.

              “What consequences are you referring to here? “

              Quoting my prior comment,

              ” What I did do is correct Jason who asserted that we didn’t find WMD in Iraq when in fact we did. This is in the context of Jason’s larger argument bemoaning the ignorance of other parties. I point out that to some extent the ignorant ones aren’t them, it’s him.

              The original post asserted as facts 1. factoids which aren’t facts and 2. highly contentious arguments which aren’t facts. Then these supposed “facts” were deployed in the service of banal conventional wisdom, and anyone with a contrary point of view was labeled ignorant. Managed ignorance is as good a description for that as any”

              Finally, you also wrote,

              “Frankly, I have heard this argument that we found WMDs many times before. “

              Ok. As it happens I haven’t heard that argument before unless I was the one making it, and yesterday might have been the third or so time that’s happened since the start of the Iraq war. And in this case the casus belli is only secondarily relevant, at best.

              In a different, hypothetical conversation about Iraq, you are certainly correct to think it would be misleading and disingenuous to say we found one sarin shell, therefore it immediately follows that the Iraq War was was a good idea and in particular the Bush Administration’s advocacy of it was correct on most or all points. (That case might be legitimately arguable but it requires more than that.)

              Again, I’ve never heard that because in my experience I’m the only one who’s brought up this general subject and I’ve never argued that. Certainly I think it’s fair to say that conventional wisdom holds that, post-invasion there was no WMD in Iraq.Report

    • Avatar Mike Farmer says:

      I don’t think so. I believe most people, including conservatives, saw the whole video and realized the cut version was unfair to her larger point — a point she damaged, though, by stating Republicans are upset we have a black president – that narrative is managed ignorance. All the conservatives I’ve read and heard on tv and radio agree that the video was unfair. The administration and the NAACP overreacted, as did some cable news shows and the MSM, but after the clarification people made comments based on the context. I believe Sherrod will forgotten, unless there are more videos like her husband’s video — she won’t even be a footnote, although I think she’s a very nice lady who’s simply very partisan.Report

    • Avatar Mike Farmer says:

      As a matter of fact, stating that “conservatives” have igored the context with Sherrod and will be talking about blacks harming whites years from now is a form of managing ignorance, predicting the management of ignorance by conservatives with no evidence, no facts.

      The narrative created by liberals regarding conservatives is told over and over as if it’s the gospel, yet conservatives of all stripes don’t fit the narrative. I’m not an apologist for conseratives — I just try to be objective — actually, I just wrote a series of posts makng the point that right and left statim is conservative in nature — a reaction which started in the late 19th century against classical liberalism and has tried to protect the status quo of the State ever since. In other words, modern liberalism is just as conservative in nature as the conservativism, just twisted with a socialist bent.Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

        @Mike Farmer,

        Have you read Rush Limbaugh’s recent comments on the affair? It’s apparently about the Tea Party, and how the mean, nasty NAACP have been so rude to them. Still. And that’s about all you get from him.Report

        • Avatar Mike Farmer says:

          @Jason Kuznicki,
          Well, for one thing, the NAACP is a screwed up, hypocritical organization, and another is that Limbaugh doesn’t represent all conservatives — he’s simply one man with an opinion. It’s obvious that Limbaugh is standing firm on what he thinks is a double standard in the media, so he beats the drum to prevent the spins on the stories, but his job, as he perceives it, is to be the defender — this doesn’t have much to with the total understanding of conservatives across the nation — we get too focused on Limbaugh and Levin and Hannity, when he has a narrow interest in tweaking and bashing liberals — he makes a lot of money doing that, and it looks like fun.

          Just like liberals have denied that Olbermann and Ed whatshisname represent liberals when they say something stupid, or smear millions of people — or, if they don’t deny them, they dismiss their importance in the liberal scheme of things.Report

          • Avatar Mike Farmer says:

            @Mike Farmer,


            I just think the liberal narrative in the media is convincing many smart thinkers that the conservatives are much worse than the poor, sometimes misunderstood liberals who naturally make mistakes when they are so passionate about saving America from the rightwing extremists — it’s laughable — both political parties are knee-deep in lies and deceptions, but the “liberals” and “conservatives” across the country are, for the most part, trying to make sense of it all. I think, eventually, there will be an alliance in the private sector, outside the political class, which transcends some of these differences and moves on, leaving the political class to kill one another, figuratively.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        @Mike Farmer, by no means do all conservatives or liberals or libertarians all believe the same thing. Just chill on the umbrage, we can all have our share of that and it gets no where. You no more enjoy the caricatures of conservatives then i enjoyed being called a traitor for not believing we should invade Iraq. What i said was , along the lines of Jason’s post, was that some of these stories get out and some people hold onto them without evidence. WMD in Iraq is a good example where people still try to defend that we found anything worth invading over or even what the admin claimed they had. But i still every now and then i there the “welfare queens driving cadilacs” trope from people on the right. Reagan said it, therefore its true, even though people investigated and found no truth to the story. Moreover the Reagan admin, when asked, couldn’t prove it. So the exact claim was false but persists.Report

  14. Avatar gregiank says:

    @jaybird- . Sorry i used the word beliefs. so what? you don’t think he should have been a supreme and neither do i. thanks for the trip to the argument clinic.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      @gregiank, no, I’m *GLAD* he wasn’t a Justice.

      I think he should have become one.Report

      • Avatar gregiank says:

        @Jaybird, When i applied for my current job i had to first fill out an online form saying i had all the basic qualifications for the job. After that was approved then i got an interview. I’m thinking getting to be a supreme should be just a wee bit more then filling out the form showing you have all the basic requirements.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          @gregiank, absolfuckinglutely!!!

          Like, “does the Constitution mean what it says?” kinda questions and if the answer comes “well, you have to understand, it’s a living document…” then that should be an absolute way to keep people *OFF* the court.

          Or did you mean that they had to agree with many if not most of your non-Constitutional ideals when you said that?Report

          • Avatar greginak says:

            @Jaybird, wow you mean like there are different ways to understand and interpret the constitution…..golly gee willy wonkers….i mean i’m sure my way is wrong and all…..Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              @greginak, “different ways to understand and interpret the constitution”


              How about if one, as solicitor general, argued before the Supreme Court that a law banning a particular book would be okay. Would your interpretation of the first amendment allow for that?

              Is there a position that a person might have be so odious that it would get you to say “that person shouldn’t be a justice”?Report

  15. Avatar E.C. Gach says:

    To Jaybird’s point, at what point refers to doing what? I’m just confused about what your question is aimed at.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      @E.C. Gach, when you start having the law hold up carrots and/or sticks.

      At what point is that infringing on the rights of folks?Report

      • Avatar E.C. Gach says:

        @Jaybird, On a case by case basis for the most part.

        At this level of regress we’ve already demolished any kind of ideal, pure, none infringed upon right.

        I don’t know, it seems very complicated.

        “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

        If there is no affordable way for impoverished person A to get to somewhere to petition their government, is that an infringement?

        I’ve always understood the First Amendment in terms of a negative right. The right not to have your peaceful assembly broken up vs. the positive right to have your peaceful assembly in the first place.

        If public spaces aren’t handicap accessible, has a handicapped person’s right to assemble been infringed upon? Or did they never have a right to assemble in the first place, just a right not to be told they can’t assemble after having done it?

        But I’d be curious for how you see/sort out this dilemma, if you even think there is one.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          @E.C. Gach, I see it as a negative right, primarily.

          To make an extreme example, I don’t see how my unwillingness to have sex with you infringes on your right to have sex with consenting adults in the privacy of your home.Report

          • Avatar E.C. Gach says:

            @Jaybird, I agree. But then how would a tax on churches infringe anymore than charging those who wish to petition their government postage? And on the matter of the tax exemption for churches, would you argue that civic/political organizations should be given the same tax status as churches?

            I understand negative rights, but have a hard time maintaining there is any real difference.

            You have the right to be free from harm vs. you have the right to be safe.

            Do you see a difference in the respective implications of those two things?Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              @E.C. Gach, because, at the end of the day, a church is little more than a handful of folks peacefully assembling.

              Let’s say that you find out that there are private churches popping up in towns. People meeting in basements.

              Would you use government agents to kick down doors to make sure that these people have paid the proper authorities?

              What if you kick down the door and you find out that, whoops, it’s not a church, it’s a fantasy baseball meeting?

              This is different from “but it costs money to send a letter”.Report

            • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

              Do you mean income taxes? Property taxes?

              My answer is this: Treat the church group the same way they would treat Elvis paraphernalia collector clubs, or Atlus Shrugged reading groups. Don’t give them special exemptions because they have acceptable beliefs(ie religion). Treat them the same as everyone else. No special rights for churches.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              @ThatPirateGuy, yay, let’s start taxing book clubs now.

              It’s not like they didn’t drive on roads to get to the guy’s house, right?

              Out of curiosity, how much do you think I owe for the book club the gents are currently doing?

              Would online book clubs be more or less taxable?

              (Interstate Commerce, General Welfare, etc.)Report

            • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:


              Book clubs are taxed now. For example my book club cannot take tax deductible donations and then buy the Percy Jackson book series for the members sales tax free.

              If I called my book club a church and filed for the status with the government I could do that.

              Now I ask for some help. Can you tell me which law grants the church their tax free status. What year was it written? I am having difficulty with my googling.Report

            • Avatar Bob says:

              ThatPriateGuy, maybe this will help. Tax code seems to date from 1954.


          • Avatar Bob says:

            1954 sounded familiar. From the Wiki article on The Pledge of Allegiance, “The phrase ‘under God’ was incorporated into the Pledge of Allegiance June 14, 1954, by a Joint Resolution of Congress amending §7 of the Flag Code enacted in 1942.[11]”Report

  16. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    You know, what I really expect from news sources is to report what people are saying and then say, ‘this thing that this guy said is crap, and here’s why’. But, for some reason, they seem to think that this would be taking a side (against crap), so they just repeat what people said and let you figure it out for yourself. Maybe they can’t tell themselves, but the Economist seems to still be able to report news and explain what’s going on, even if that means saying, “what this guy said was crap and here’s why”.Report

    • Avatar Simon K says:

      @Rufus F., The Economist is still basically written like a quality British newspaper even though most of its readers are in the US. The British press has never had any problem with calling things crap …Report

  17. Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    Hain’t we got all the fools in town on our side? And ain’t that a big enough majority in any town?

    – Mark Twain


  18. Avatar E.C. Gach says:

    The tax wouldn’t require any doors being kicked in. Because it would be the normal state of things, as it is now. You can’t have a tax exemption without the government knowing, obviously.

    If the private Churches are popping up, they are definitely already paying taxes, unless they are exempt, in which case they aren’t so secret. I’m not the most familiar with the tax code, but I’m pretty sure if I formed a fantasy football organization, I wouldn’t be getting slapped with any extra taxes.

    So rather than kick doors down, things would remain normalReport

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      @E.C. Gach, we’d be able to maintain our current acceptable level of doors being kicked in?

      As a fan of a right to privacy, this conversation is doing a spectacular job of creeping me out.Report

      • Avatar E.C.Gach says:

        I’m still confused as to where all this door kicking came from. Are you talking about people who don’t pay their taxes currently (e.g. property, income, payroll).

        If people operate a “secret church” in their basement, why would that be a problem? I don’t see them getting their door kicked in if they pay their property tax like everyone else.

        Could you help me understand what it is exactly you are saying is happening, will happen, and/or shouldn’t happen?Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          @E.C.Gach, one of the things that LBJ threatened black churches in Texas with was removal of the tax exempt status (this would have ruined many churches, by the way).

          The response of “well, let’s just tax all of the churches” strikes me as… well, it strikes me as alien. I can’t comprehend how any given gathering of people ought be enough of the government’s business that they are entitled to a piece of it.

          It’s foreign to me.Report

          • Avatar E.C. Gach says:

            @Jaybird, the group of people gathering isn’t being taxed, it’s all of the corporate activities the church is involved in by virtue of being a non-profit corporation.

            You keep acting as if the next step is the government hunting down people sitting by camp fires with s’mores so they can tax them for gathering.Report

        • Avatar E.C. Gach says:

          @E.C.Gach, you keep acting as if this is a new/added tax.

          If the club meets at someone’s house, then whoever’s house it is is probably going to be paying taxes.

          Pirateguy’s point is that why should a church get a tax exemption and not other people. If I pray to zeus in my house, why should I have to pay property taxes?

          Now we can argue about getting rid of the property tax, but as it stands, it’s the status quo, and I don’t see removing a churches tax exemption as infringement because they have to pay like every other PAC if they want to make political speech.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            @E.C. Gach, so can we then start yanking the non-profit status of Engineers Without Borders, or Peace One Day, or Save The Manatee if they happen to petition the government to restrict access to poorly designed boats carrying unregistered firearms through parts of Florida marshland?Report

  19. Avatar E.C. Gach says:

    clearly they lose their 501 (c) 3 status, and move to 501 (c) 4. Or if they want to be political entities they can start a PAC alongside their church or charity.Report

  20. Avatar E.C. Gach says:

    and you may disagree with that, but I don’t see how you can do so on the grounds that it limits speech.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      @E.C. Gach, is their standing in the eyes of the government due to the content of their speech and/or whether they use their speech to petition the government for redress of grievances?

      If the answer is “yes”, I don’t see how you can say that such is *NOT* a violation of their First Amendment Rights.

      But, if you disagree with that, be sure to check out:

      You must be delighted to know that you now have grounds to force that PAC in Nonprofit clothing to pay up and stop stealing from us all.Report

  21. Avatar E.C. Gach says:

    so my contributions to political advocacy groups should be deductible?Report

  22. Avatar E.C. Gach says:

    So what is your position again, leave things as is? Pirateguy thinks tax exemption for chuches should be done away with period. Are you saying that in fact, tax exemptions should be extended to all groups?

    Because the true infringement is that I, my friend, am discriminated against for not advocating political views in religious language from the pulpit. But if you are arguing that Church tax exemptions should be extended to all corporations/organizations, then that would alleviate that problem, and I think we would have no disagreement any longer.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      @E.C. Gach, Are you saying that in fact, tax exemptions should be extended to all groups?

      Yes. Unless they are LLCs. Then tax them. Actually, get rid of all taxes except for corporations and establish a VAT.

      Income and property taxes invade privacy to a degree I find absolutely appalling.Report

      • Avatar E.C. Gach says:

        @Jaybird, sounds good.

        Though, to be a contrarian, what becomes a breach of privacy? After all, we are all social animals, and if you agree that it is in our nature to be part of and form the polity, isn’t contributions to the community coffer based on property or income part of the great social contract?Report