VANDEHEI (4/18/05): Almost every congressional Democrat opposes the plan, in part because it would also cost the government at least $2 trillion to transition from the current, pay-as-you-go system to one featuring private accounts.As weve noted time and again, even the White House has agreed that transition would actually cost more than VandeHei says today. (In February, Dick Cheney acknowledged that the transition would cost $800 billion in the first ten years, then trillions more after that. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/2/05). Indeed, how much might the transition cost? Lets go ahead and print it again—Paul Krugmans three-month-old post on this seminal matter:
KRUGMAN (1/11/05): Advocates of privatization almost always pretend that all we have to do is borrow a bit of money up front, and then the system will become self-sustaining. The [White House] memo talks of borrowing $1 trillion to $2 trillion ''to cover transition costs.'' Similar numbers have been widely reported in the news media.Perfect, isnt it? According to Krugman, VandeHei types the number Bush shills use when they want to pretend about transition costs. But so what! Todays Post offers the number again, even though Cheney himself has said that the costs will be higher. Similar numbers have been widely reported in the media, Krugman said—three months before todays Post.
But that's just the borrowing over the next decade. Privatization would cost an additional $3 trillion in its second decade, $5 trillion in the decade after that and another $5 trillion in the decade after that. By the time privatization started to save money, if it ever did, the federal government would have run up around $15 trillion in extra debt.
These numbers are based on a Congressional Budget Office analysis of Plan2, which was devised by a special presidential commission in 2001 and is widely expected to be the basis for President Bush's plan.
How much would transition cost? This is hardly a tangential matter. Polling shows that support for Bushs plan drops fast when voters are told about these costs. Is Krugmans CBO number right? Would transition really cost $15 trillion? We dont have the slightest idea. Three months after Krugmans post, the VandeHeis are still presenting numbers that everyone seems to know are wrong. Meanwhile, has any big news org sorted this out? This is a very basic matter—and we have seen no one examine it.
Facts mean nothing to this crew—to this crew that slouches toward future disaster. As it turns out, facts arent stubborn at all; theyre an artefact of a lost age. The very concept barely exists in todays dinner-party press culture.
THINGS FALL APART (PART 1): Lets state the obvious: Its hard to find a bigger crackpot than pseudo-conservative crackpot Ann Coulter. But dont tell that to Times John Cloud, the latest scripted, overpaid boy assigned to make Coulter seem sensible. Just how big a fool is Coulter? Its not as if major mountains of evidence arent staring Cloud right in the face. In his 5800-word profile of Coulter in the current Time, for example, he does find time to include this small clue:
CLOUD (4/25/05): To be sure, Coulter's historical efforts can be highly amateurish. Her writings on the Civil War—she calls Confederate soldiers "a romantic army of legend"—could only be penned by a (Northern) dilettante. And although she has admiringly cited the work of cold war historian Ronald Radosh, he says she misinterpreted that period in Treason. "There were Soviet spies in postwar America," he says. "But McCarthy was really a nutcase ...She's like the McCarthy-era journalists in a way. She's just repeating what they said, that the only patriotic Americans are on the right." Radosh, a fellow at the conservative Hudson Institute, a Washington think tank, also says Coulter has exaggerated his own troubles as a conservative in academia. "She called me a victim of the left and the academy. That's partially true, but I've had plenty of jobs in academia." Coulter responded that Radosh had complained to reporters in the past about being blacklisted. She also called him "a chickens___."Classic Coulter! She doesnt have the slightest idea what shes talking about—and then, of course, she calls Radosh names for daring to mention this fact. But store-bought Cloud just cant seem to see it. He fails to say what he surely must know—that an army of historians, libs and cons, savaged Coulters historical rantings in Treason. And by the way—did Coulter misinterpret the cold war period in that book? Uh-oh! Thats what the bulk of the book was about! But Cloud is too polite to say so. Yes, the store-bought fellow is deep in the bag, trying to avoid the merely obvious. For example, try to believe that the timid Timesman actually typed this prime cant:
CLOUD: Coulter has a reputation for carelessness with facts, and if you Google the words "Ann Coulter lies," you will drown in results. But I didn't find many outright Coulter errors.He knew about Coulters bad reputation—but he couldnt find outright errors! But then, store-bought fellows like Cloud can be like that. How hard is it to find Coulters errors? Back in 2002, we spent weeks describing the endless errors that virtually define Coulters second book, Slander. Indeed, we only stopped listing them out of sheer boredom; its hard to find a page in that book which doesnt contain such groaning mistakes, if you bother to look up the sources she lists in her clownish footnotes. (Footnotes for which the New York Times praised her in a review.) And surely, Cloud is aware of our work; he explains how hard he hunted for Coulters mistakes, and the One Big Error he does discuss was first described right here in THE HOWLER (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/23/02). But well get to all that in tomorrows post. For today, well simply take a moment to marvel at the blindness of todays store-bought man.
Cloud just couldnt find many errors when he went through Coulters work! Its odd to think that he had such a problem. On yesterdays Imus, for example, Jonathan Alter was able to think of a big one, working off the top of his head:
ALTER (4/18/05): The problem is that—I mean, shes bad for America. Just take, for instance, saying that twenty percent of the American public—which is what liberals make up these days, maybe a little bit less, but its still a reasonably large percentage—that all these people are traitors. And thats what she says, thats not an exaggeration. And she goes on televison and says it over and over and over again. Now does that help us understand where this country needs to go or how we need to get out of our problems, that kind of just insane name-calling?Twenty percent of your neighbors are traitors! Somehow, Alter managed to recall this mistake, the very mistake which came to our minds when we reviewed Carneys profile of Coulter last week (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/15/05). To tell the truth, its an easy mistake to remember, because its such a big, whopping screamer. Indeed, Alter used an appropriate word to describe it: he called it insane. Indeed, this is the error which virtually defines the crackpot nature of Coulters work. But go ahead—search Clouds profile. Time let him type almost 6000 words—and he somehow forgot to include it! Does Coulter really say—over and over—that twenty percent of your neighbors are traitors? Yes she does—but search Clouds work. The store-bought fellow typed 6000 words, lamenting his failure to find her mistakes. And somehow, despite all his dogged research, he somehow didnt stumble on this one! Somehow, he didnt recall Coulters trademark mistake—the ludicrous, blatantly crackpot claim which makes her work seem almost insane. Somehow, Alter recalled this mistake. But though Cloud wracked his brain, he forgot it.
Yes, store-boughts have been typing at Time for two weeks, trying to make Coulter seem mainstream, seem pleasing. The reason? Times owners want pseudo-conservative talk-show rubes to go out and buy their mag, and theyre paying their store-boughts big, major cash, which persuades them to go with that flow. Indeed, Carney and Cloud are paid excellent scratch—money they never could earn on their merits—and so theyre willing to type what theyre told; they know theyre being paid, not for insight, but for their abject compliance. (Why else do they feel they can type what theyre told? Because theyll never see their names mentioned by good little liberals on the web.) And now we see, in Clouds long profile, the shape of things to come for our country as a store-bought, dinner-party press elite bows to reactionary power. Coulter is plainly our craziest writer—a woman who openly seems to be ill—but they are working as hard as they can to make her seem reasonable, misunderstood, cheerful. Well examine Clouds scripts for the rest of the week, and well try to share a few mordant laughs. But dont worry—his scripts will be quite familiar. And store-boughts like Cloud know them well.
But make no mistake. When they put the craziest on their covers, they turn a rough beast loose on our culture. How disturbed is your press corps elite? In the campaign which changed our politics, they worked for two years to make Gore seem crazy; now they work to make Coulter seem sane. Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;/Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, the bard wrote. We dont know what he was talking about. But his words make us think of the tough-talking beast who is now being pimped to our culture.
More tomorrow on the clownish ways the store-boughts are working to mainstream Ann Coulter. And by the way—the names of these store-boughts are Carney and Cloud. Youll pretty much have to come here to read them. Polite little fellows on your brave liberal web all know that they mustnt name colleagues.