Like many pragmatic progressives who blog, I used to spend most of my time online at Daily Kos. Many of us quit writing there at about the same time. I know that for me the final straw was getting attacked - even by those I generally agreed with - for poking some questions at what had become conventional wisdom there.
Ever since Barack Obama's rise in national politics, Daily Kos has had mixed reactions to him. But there are times it has gotten ugly. Lately its the worst I've seen it. Since the day it was announced that President Obama would include chained CPI in his budget, the place has become a case study in what Julian Sanchez calls epistemic closure
. Sanchez used the term to talk about modern-day conservatives. But listen to his description and then we'll see how it applies at Daily Kos these days.
Reality is defined by a multimedia array of interconnected and cross promoting conservative blogs, radio programs, magazines, and of course, Fox News. Whatever conflicts with that reality can be dismissed out of hand because it comes from the liberal media, and is therefore ipso facto not to be trusted...Internal criticism is then especially problematic, because it threatens the hermetic seal. It’s not just that any particular criticism might have to be taken seriously coming from a fellow conservative. Rather, it’s that anything that breaks down the tacit equivalence between “critic of conservatives and “wicked liberal smear artist” undermines the effectiveness of the entire information filter.
If disagreement is not in itself evidence of malign intent or moral degeneracy, people start feeling an obligation to engage it sincerely...And there is nothing more potentially fatal to the momentum of an insurgency fueled by anger than a conversation.
One of my routines is to read the news summary posted every morning on Daily Kos titled Abbreviated Pundit Roundup
(just as I check out the roundup at Real Clear politics
). This morning's edition was telling
. It covered the first full day of punditry since President Obama released his budget. The roundup included 5 commentaries on that topic - all focused on critiquing the inclusion of chained CPI. They were from Dean Baker
, Robert Reich
, Andrew Fieldhouse
, Stephen Henderson
and Derek Thompson.
The choices were interesting in that there certainly wasn't a vacuum of commentary from progressives on the rest of the budget. For example, how about linking to:
Melissa Lazarín and Sasha Post at the Center for American Progress
on President Obama's Budget Makes Historic Investments in Young Children
Erika Eichelberger at Mother Jones
on Obama Wants Mitt Romney's Favorite Tax Break to Die
Annie Lowrey at the New York Times on A Budget Focus on Inequality
Matthew Yglesias at Slate
on The Class War Has Begun: Obama is waging it against the rich. The Republicans are waging it against the poor.
And another one by Derek Thompson at the Atlantic
titled The Obama Budget: Tax the Rich, Spare the Poor, Remember the Young
That kind of analysis has gotten zero attention on the front page at Daily Kos over the last few days. And the community diaries haven't been much better. Its a steady stream of hair-on-fire about chained CPI.
To demonstrate what this means to people who spend most of their time there, one of the diaries that was part of their anti-grand bargain blogathon today was titled Chained CPI cuts Head Start, CHIPS, WIC, SNAP.
Not much in the diary is true in light of the protections the Obama administration is insisting on.
But when it was pointed out that almost all of the programs identified had been exempted from the effects of chained CPI, the authors first response was to suggest that the Obama administration had back-tracked.
WH is walking back C-CPI. Now saying it wont effect all these programs.
Then, when it was pointed out that they had been excluded all along, this was the reaction:
These protections create another quandary, if C-CPI is not applied to Fed Poverty guidelines, where does that put Seniors on SS, do they fall below the Poverty guidelines in ever increasing numbers?
Where does that put retired seniors?
When it was pointed out that the President's budget also included benefit enhancements for Social Security recipients to protect those most vulnerable to poverty, we got this:
Right. But why the mish mash? Its like a 2nd year LA wrote this up, the WH got push back prior to budget release and frankly this looks like a walk back from blanket adoption .
So we're back to square one. You can almost hear the grinding of a mind in search of an escape from the cognitive dissonance.
And finally there was this from another commenter:
What part of the whole touching and cutting any part of the social security contract and arguing over the semantic minutiae orwellian language within the proposal that has absolutely no majority public support, is absolute political suicide, does not contribute to the deficit, is bad public policy , and does absolutely nothing to address the more immediate and pressing issues of our day do you not understand.
The mere fact you are even explaining and defending the detailed douchebaggery within the chained superlative enhanced CPI or whatever the Luntz/PetePetersen focus grouped language of the day emanating from the WH these days is ridiculous.
Since there had not been one iota of an attempt to defend chained CPI in the comments (the entire discussion was about correcting inaccurate information) this is the classic "My mind is made up - don't confuse me with facts!"
That is what epistemic closure does to you. It is the opposite of curiosity. It is the opposite of an open mind. It is the opposite of empathy. And it should be something that ANY liberal would do everything in their power to avoid.
My question would be...in promoting this kind of thing, how is Markos Moulitsas any different from Roger Ailes?