PITIFUL HELPESS KNOW-NOTHINGS: Who gives a fig about Fidler!


Epilogue—Why we’re so pitifully clueless: At the start of the last GOP debate, Gilbert Fidler of Gilbert, Arizona asked a perfectly sensible question.

The honor was granted by CNN’s John King, who plays a journalist on TV. Here’s what occurred at the start of that final debate, which King pretended to moderate:
KING (2/22/12): Gentlemen, it's good to see you again. Let's get right started on the important issues with a question from our audience. Sir, please tell us who you are and state your question.

FIDLER: My name is Gilbert Fidler from Gilbert, Arizona. And I'd like to ask this question to all the candidates if I could:

Since the first time in 65 years our national debt exceeds our gross national product, what are you going to do to bring down the debt?
That was a perfectly sensible question. The good sense ended right there.

According to several major studies, the three major candidates have all proposed budget plans which would massively swell our annual deficits and with them our national debt. Despite these proposals, they carp and complain about that rising debt.

But how strange! In the four prior GOP debates, no questions were asked about this remarkable state of affairs! No questions, as in none!

Now, Gilbert Fidler asked a good question—and John King hid under the bed.

In the lengthy segment which ensued, the candidates pretended to stage a discussion of Fidler’s perfectly sensible question. In fact, they did nothing of the kind—and King didn’t make the slightest attempt to bring them back to that question.

Did Fidler understand the way he and his question were toyed with that evening? We have no idea. But this is completely standard behavior as the press corps pretends to conduct a national discourse.

More reprehensible is the reaction from some of our “liberal” preserves.

We’ll take a guess: Fidler isn’t a budget expert. (We aren’t budget experts either.) He isn’t an economics professor. Neither are we over here.

Fidler isn’t a budget expert. On the other hand, he has heard a lot of talk about our ballooning national debt. We’ll guess that he is sincerely concerned, as well he might be.

Another guess: He probably doesn’t know that people like King and Santorum and Romney are not sincere or concerned.

Just a guess: He may not know that his sensible question was used to stage a Potemkin discussion. More reprehensible was the reaction from some of our “liberal” preserves.

We’ll guess that Fidler is a perfectly decent person with a sincere concern—a sincere concern he may have formed from following pseudo-conservative sources. But you may not know that such people exist if you read our “liberal” blogs. Four days after Fidler posed his question, a self-assured liberal rube at a leading blog presented this view of the world:
ATKINS (2/26/12): Most of time I think of conservative leaders as evil geniuses more than abject fools. Their voting base are generally oppressed rubes, delusional ideologues, racists or vicious sociopaths, but the leadership is generally very smart and cagey.
We know, we know! He used the word “generally!” And in a moment of excessive kindness, young Atkins might be willing to classify Fidler as one of the “oppressed rubes.”

Adding to the general hilarity, Atkins’ patron offered this post on the very same day—a post in which she helped us learn to admire those of us in our own tribe.

“Educated liberals are different [from educated conservatives] and tend to be open to new information and more flexible of mind,” she wrote, basing her statement on the planet’s most limited data. “The simple rule is this,” she self-admiringly continued. “If you want to persuade liberals of something, bring out the charts and spreadsheets. If you want to persuade conservatives of something, make them identify emotionally with what you want them to believe.”

In fairness, we’ll agree with that one key word: “simple.”

For decades, a certain process has defined our pseudo-national discourse. Pseudo-conservative corporate shills have flooded the nation with disinformation. To the extent that we liberals have managed to notice, we have mainly tended to name-call the folk who believe this unrefuted garbage.

We haven’t done a very good job refuting these mountains of disinformation; for the most part, we haven’t tried. It never even enters our heads to establish forums in which we attempt to speak to people like Fidler.

Darlings! Speak with those people? It just isn’t done!

John King played the corporate fool in last Wednesday’s final debate. And sure enough! Out in the wider world, an irate and bumptious young fellow name-called people like Fidler!

Question: Have you seen a single liberal comment on King’s performance at that final debate? Have you seen a single liberal comment on a remarkable fact—the fact that no one asked these damn-fool candidates a single question about their budget proposals in the previous four debates?

In fact, your career liberal leaders will never name-call the millionaire "journalist" King. Darlings! In the world of journalistic careers, it simply isn’t done! And uh-oh! The rest of us liberals tend to play ditto-head to our “leaders” just the way Rush’s crowd does!

The people than whom we’re much smarter!

Fidler seemed to be the one sane person at that final GOP debate. David Atkins quickly rose to put such folk in their place. Meanwhile, Digby helped us see how much smarter we liberals are. Go ahead! Laugh out loud!

The process has worked this way for decades. Are you happy with how things turned out?


  1. you bemoan bigoted remarks aimed at the gop candidatesMarch 3, 2012 at 12:54 PM

    you bemoan bigoted remarks aimed at the gop candidates and I would agree in principle, in a vacuum. but you give me the impression youre unaware of the larger social and political context of politics in america today and historically.

    even before the republican party added the south, they were a nativistic lot... going back to the 1800's. their very organizing principle, at the grass roots level, their group elan vital, is ad hominem-istic. their rhetoric is an ever changing jumble aimed at minimizing the 'non-realamericans' influence on the governance and culture of *their* country. and they are not shy about broadcasting their attitudes to the multitudes although they have learned to use code words, the big one being liberal for non-realamerican.

    i submit that hating those who wish to hurt you is appropriate. how does one get up for this kind of vicious fight without it? you may be more true christian than me and disagree.

    but a felt hatred does not have to be an expressed one, especially in counter productive ways which leaves one open to charges of the very thing one is fighting against. its important but very tricky to effectively politic against bigotry without using bigotry ones self. hatred does not have to be bigotry if it is just a self defense mechanism which would naturally expire if and when the other side relents.

    1. If one wants to accuse today's Republicans of being nativistic, we could debate that. But, going back to the 1800's, the record is clear. The Demcrats supported slavery and the Republicans opposed it. Even in the first 40 years of the 20th century, it was Democrats who supported Jim Crow.

      I say that not to fault today' Democrats, who have obviously reversed their historical position, but merely to correct the record.

    2. you bemoan bigoted remarks aimed at the gop candidatesMarch 4, 2012 at 12:47 PM

      by nativist i meant, "The policy of protecting the interests of native inhabitants against those of immigrants."


      there was much more immigration to the north where there were more jobs as well the social infrastructure of the larger cities to draw them, as compared to the south. the republicans of the 1800s reflected the more established populations desire to minimize job competition. also anti-catholic bias was a factor and especially anti-irish-catholic bias who were thought of as a separate race by the people of english and germanic ancestry in particular who both had 'real american' pedigree owing to the english being the founders of the country and the germanic peoples at that time and still today were thought to be closely connected to the english ethnically. ironically the latest gene based research shows that the english are largely of the same progenitor population as the irish and that the english have less than 10% genes which are of germanic origins.

      “Saxons, Vikings and Celts: the Genetic Roots of Britain and Ireland” by Bryan Sykes who did much of the gene based research or “Origins of the British” by Stephen Oppenheimer.

    3. you bemoan bigoted remarks aimed at the gop candidatesMarch 4, 2012 at 12:49 PM

      as far as slaves, the southern moneyed interests were not nativistic towards them. On the contrary they brought them over.

  2. you bemoan bigoted remarks aimed at the gop candidatesMarch 3, 2012 at 6:58 PM

    whoops...above comment was meant for the next posted column, "Mormon joke watch: Are we perhaps a small tiny bit like the folk we revile?"


    i agree with the howler in the basic sense of this post that the people who have full time jobs finding out the truth and then telling everybody about it should start doing that. they have eight hours a day to do it and im sure many experts would take their calls and emails so they dont have go out on a limb by themselves calling bs. on the other hand, do their editors and the editors bosses and the bosses of those bosses, the moneyed interests (including their advertisers) want them to do that?

  3. I understand the frustration that has leads liberals to respond in kind, but you make an important point. When the GOP exploits the most base instincts of a large group of people, Atkins sees "evil genius." We've ignored the same group since the New Deal and now dismissnthem as "oppressed rubes, bitters and white trash." Benevolent genius? It's no wonder grifters like Palin resonate with these folks. They at least pretend to care.

  4. Yes, Fidler raised what is IMHO the most important issue for the 2012 election. Unfortunately, our federal budgetary problem is so severe that virtually nobody is offering a sane policy. Bob condemns the Republicans' proposed tax cuts. Fair enough. But, he ignores Democrats' proposed spending increases, such as

    -- High-speed rail: a boondoggle that will eventually cost tax-payers hundreds of billions of dollars to build, and then (if it's actually ever completed) will require substantial governmental support to ongoing operating expenses.

    -- Obamacare: As currently structured, this program encourages employers to cancel their health insurance. The fine for not offering health insurance is cheaper than the cost of the health insurance. That means many tens of millions of employees will be covered the government, causing Obamacare to run big deficits. I don't think the deficits will be as huge as Medicare's, but they could be in that ballpark.

    -- Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid: By not proposing cuts in these programs, Obama is, in effect, supporting the enormous, ongoing cost increases. In fact, Obama is moving backwards on fiscal solvency. He recently spearheaded a cut in SS assessments, making these bankrupt programs even more bankrupt.

    -- Federal pay and pensions: Not only are employees paid better by the federal government than by private organizations, federal employees receive defined benefit pension plans that escalate with inflation. No private organization offers this kind of inflation-adjusted pension. And, most private organizations have replaced defined benefit plans with defined contribution plans. If inflation picks up, as seems to be happening, there will be a huge difference in the cost of the federal plan vs. a defined contribution plan. By not proposing this sort of change, Obama is effectively supporting the ongoing, rising cost of federal pensions. In fairness to Mr. Obama, he's hardly alone. Few if any politicians of either party are supporting this switch in pension plans, although such a move would be obvious to any private organization.)

    P.S. Obama's proposed tax increases aren't remotely enough to cover these increased costs.

  5. I'm a Republican but I simply can't be bothered to care about the "budget" given two factors:

    1) The people who will pay this bill are not my children, their cousins, or even the same race. The "American" people who will be on the hook for this bill will be an entirely different people from the historical American population.
    2) It's pretty much inevitable that the United States Dollar will be inflated away at the last possible moment in order to essentially nullify this debt. Yes, that will turn is into an African/Latin style third world banana republic but that's what happens when you have an African/Latin third world population.

    The mistake made by budget hawks and prognosticators is thinking that America's problems are caused by numbers on a spreadsheet. The spreadsheets are a symptom, not a cause. The cause is the people. Third world people make a third world country. Goodbye America, it was nice while it lasted.

    1. you bemoan bigoted remarks aimed at the gop candidatesMarch 5, 2012 at 11:16 AM

      "1) The people who will pay this bill are not my children, their cousins, or even the same race. The "American" people who will be on the hook for this bill will be an entirely different people from the historical American population."

      >>> How would things work out that way exactly? could you elaborate? r u talking personally only or r u suggesting a great calamity of some sort? could you elaborate?

  6. @David in Cal
    We were actually discussing the deterioration of liberal dialogue among ourselves I suppose your post could be instructive. The willingness of conservatives to abandon good faith arguments in favor of controlling the message is a huge factor in that deterioration. The Federal employee gravy train myth is a prime example. The numbers for both sides are readily available if your interested. The numbers can be read to work for the right until you get to their alternatives and history of civil service. But the message of hard working Americans supporting their underworked, over paid counterparts works. It's meant to stoke resentment and emotional responses that equal votes. Votes interests. When we attempt to engage these folks and are repeatedly met with ad hominum attacks, we sometimes forget ourselves and call them oppressed rubes. The characterization may be partly accurate, but it's unkind and ultimately unhelpful.

  7. Anonymous Mar 4, 2012 12:38 PM -- Yes, the US can inflate the dollar away in order to essentially nullify the national debt. However, hyperinflation will have several bad consequences:

    -- Destroy people's savings
    -- Discourage formaation and expansion of American business
    -- Make imported goods, such as oil, less affordable
    -- Drive most of us into high income tax brackets
    -- Incease the degree to which federal employees outearn the rest of us, since the inflation-adjusted pension will have much greater value.

  8. The comment by Anonymous Mar 4, 2012 12:38 PM finally gives us an example of something that can reasonably be tagged with the "R" bomb. He even states overtly that race underlies his sentiment. The statement, "Third world people make a third world country," is particularly instructive, and nicely provides an admittedly Republican context to the nativism discussion above.

    The fact you openly state you can't bother to care about white, European-descended Americans running up what you see as unsustainable debt with no solution other than a crippling inflationary monetary policy because people not of your race will be stuck with it is the most stark and unabashed racism I've encountered in some time.

    Thanks, Anonymous, for illustrating your comfort with the white men's burden of ruining something good and leaving the mess to be handled by people who aren't like them.

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