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September 29, 2010

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Good for Arnold.

The howling sh*tstorm conjured up by the corrupt anti-American elements infesting this country and its business, financial, media and political culture deserves a howling sh*tstorm in return, but the latter needs to be exponentially larger and much more dangerous to eradicate kill the infestation.

The bully-pulpit doesn't work against the noxious breed of bully filth destroying this country.

400 hundred bullies against every one of theirs might do it.

The bolded parts are good, but these are (IMO) even more amazing:

"This is like Eva Braun writing a kosher cookbook..."

...

"They don't include the cost of the NEXT War over Oil. And believe me, eventually it will come as we become more and more dependent on Oil. I mean, I think that we have had enough wars in the Middle East because of Oil.

Don't you think so?"

Hot damn, Arnold. Tell us what you really think.

Srsly.

Unfortunately this is the same Schwarzenegger whose promise to veto any tax increases guaranteed that, even in the unlikely event that Republicans in the state legislature came to their senses, the state would remain in a fiscal crisis.

Still, "This is like Eva Braun writing a kosher cookbook" is pretty good. And sometimes it takes an apostate to get people's attention.

"Which is part of why it is so maddening that any talk about making the tax code even slightly more progressive (or eliminating hedge fund loopholes and corporate welfare) receives such push back from people that should no better,"
I think you meant to say know instead of no. Spell check does not catch mistakes like that.
Maybe Arnold's body has been taken over by a cyborg. This is not what I expected from him. He must not be worried about being re elected.

Definitely helps that its him, a Republican, saying this. If it was a Dem, it would be dismissed as fringe lunacy.

Thanks chamblee. To fix now.

Bah, he's a well-known RINO. Hasn't he already been ritually cast out? If not, he will be now.

Yeah but Rob, he still gets fawning media coverage. That's important.

And regardless of it all, SOMEONE needs to say this.

As you say, if it was a Dem, it would be dismissed/mocked/whatever. Of course, that presumes that a Dem would have the stones to say it at all. Anyway...

Hurray for the Governator, for shootin' straight.

Eric--

I'm a fairly big fan of pricing in externalities to the cost of petroleum. My reasons have more to do with national security than they do climate change, but I suppose that reducing greenhouse gas emissions wouldn't hurt, all things being equal--which they're not. But it's distressing to see you--and Ahnold--dressing up your argument in class warfare language, rather than arguing this on the merits.

But of course, your argument is pretty much in keeping with the spirit of AB32, which does everything it can to hide the financial burden of its implementation from the voters. Rather than simply implementing a straightforward excise tax on petroleum products, the bill hands off near-plenary regulatory power to the California Air Resources Board and authorizes them to implement a vaguely-defined cap-and-trade system, plus whatever other regulations pop into their heads. The whole scheme is designed to ensure that the voters never find out what the emissions reductions are actually costing them.

That's a mighty fine strategy if you assume that your voters are idiots, or if (gasp!) they might actually disagree with what you've decided the whole thing ought to cost, but to say that the whole approach is dishonest would be an understatement.

So, when you get lots of money flowing into the system to nullify the bill, it's certainly the case that lots of powerful interests whose oxen have been gored are probably behind a good chunk of it. But that really misses the point, doesn't it? It's easy to shout "Evil corporations!" and "Help! Help! I'm being oppressed by the plutocracy!", but I can't help but think that you resort to this sort of argument when you think that you might not get the outcome you want if you treated everybody like grownups.

It's damned depressing.

Damn - too late already to say 'cue the hypocritical Arnold-bashing in 5...4...'

But it's distressing to see you--and Ahnold--dressing up your argument in class warfare language, rather than arguing this on the merits.

Dressing up? Are you denying the amount of oil industry money pouring in? Or are you claiming that this is the only example of monied interests manipulating a political issue?

If no on both counts, this is precisely how our democracy is being warped, and it is about money = power.

But that really misses the point, doesn't it? It's easy to shout "Evil corporations!" and "Help! Help! I'm being oppressed by the plutocracy!", but I can't help but think that you resort to this sort of argument when you think that you might not get the outcome you want if you treated everybody like grownups.

It's damned depressing.

Yeah, well, I disagree with your assertion.

As for the "treated everyone like grownups" - I fail to see how identifying the obvious influence of money on political issues is treating people like children.

I also find it remarkably naive to think that corporations would fight regulations on pollution out of anything other than a concern for well-informed citizenry!

That, actually, is quite depressing.

That said - I'd prefer a straightforward tax too.

Think the oil companies would be ok with that?

It's as though Eric wrote a post on how wonderful and well-considered the CA emissions bill was, rather than on the broader truths in the rhetoric of the governor, which could have been presented just as truthfully regardless of the existence of the emissions bill. Way to miss the point, RadicalModerate, even if you're right about the bill, which you may well be.

I fail to see how identifying the obvious influence of money on political issues is treating people like children.

It's a lousy argument for defeating Prop 23, which isn't about money in politics, it's about energy policy. You can argue "Defeat Prop 23 because you're pissed off that rich and powerful interests don't want you to," or you can argue, "Defeat Prop 23 because you're worried about climate change and what peak oil might do to your children's future." One of these is an honest argument and the other's just lazy demagoguery.

I also find it remarkably naive to think that corporations would fight regulations on pollution out of anything other than a concern for well-informed citizenry!

I never said that, nor do I disagree with you about their motives. But I suggest that you be responsible for your argument and let them worry about theirs, or at the very least refute their arguments rather than simply impugning their motives. I don't think it's going to be a big news flash that corporations are self-interested. If that's all you've got, you're not contributing much to the discourse.

Bravo, Arnold!

I especially liked this:

"...out of the goodness of their black oil hearts...". Priceless.

And RadMod: What Eric said about that tired "class warfare" trope: the issue here that Gov. Schwarzenegger is going on about is the influence of moneyed special interests on State politics; an issue which is certainly not new (certainly not in California) - but which, apparently, has to be addressed anew in every generation: though rarely by elected officials like Der Governator. Unfortunately.

" The whole scheme is designed to ensure that the voters never find out what the emissions reductions are actually costing them."

That may be, but is it really a good idea to rely on estimates of those "costs" emanating from those very industries whose profits might get affected by said regulations?

You can argue "Defeat Prop 23 because you're pissed off that rich and powerful interests don't want you to," or you can argue, "Defeat Prop 23 because you're worried about climate change and what peak oil might do to your children's future."

Or you can argue "The rich and powerful wield too much political influence, and the anti-Prop 23 campaign is an instance of that," which says nothing either way about the merits of Prop 23. Which is what Eric argued. And you're pretending to respond to that argument when what you're really doing is chiding Eric for not having talked about what you want to talk about. Well, hard cheese on you.

HairShirt--

Way to miss the point, RadicalModerate, even if you're right about the bill, which you may well be.

Fair point. Every so often I succumb to an impulse to whine that otherwise intelligent people will stoop to such craven rhetoric, even when there are scads of decent policy arguments. It shows such a profound disrespect for their audience that it kinda gets to me.

Mea friggin' culpa. I'll shut up now.

What Hogan said:

Or you can argue "The rich and powerful wield too much political influence, and the anti-Prop 23 campaign is an instance of that," which says nothing either way about the merits of Prop 23. Which is what Eric argued. And you're pretending to respond to that argument when what you're really doing is chiding Eric for not having talked about what you want to talk about. Well, hard cheese on you.

Also, in response to this:

It's a lousy argument for defeating Prop 23, which isn't about money in politics, it's about energy policy. You can argue "Defeat Prop 23 because you're pissed off that rich and powerful interests don't want you to," or you can argue, "Defeat Prop 23 because you're worried about climate change and what peak oil might do to your children's future." One of these is an honest argument and the other's just lazy demagoguery.

First, I didn't say "defeat Prop 23" period. I was not making an argument on Prop 23. But, rather, about the effects of money on politics, and the oil industry's ability to hide external costs, and the other issues actually addressed in this post.

That said, after sitting through the endless swarm of corporate-funded, directly spoon-fed misinformation on a host of issues, from climate change legislation, to health care reform, it is absurd in the extreme to assume that Americans are, by and large, high information voters capable of weeding through such misinformation to make rational, informed decisions on all issues.

All you have to do is make a good faith argument, and treat the public like adults!

Right.

This dynamic is exacerbated by an establishment media that is, when not coopted, lazy itself (with notable exceptions).

Thus, in many instances, there is little to do other than throw up one's hands and complain about the deluge of corporate misinformation, or the influence of money in politics.

It should create a knee-jerk presumption of self-dealing.

I fail to see how identifying the obvious influence of money on political issues is treating people like children.

Other than identifying the obvious...

Guess that should have had some kind of wry-faced emoticon in it, somewhere.

Wry. Fun-poking. Deal.

All you have to do is make a good faith argument, and treat the public like adults!

Right.

I think that states your position pretty eloquently.

Emoticons: the laugh track of online communication.

It's nice to hear Arnold say this stuff, but it reminds me a little of Eisenhower's warning about the waxing power of the Military Industrial Complex: Ike was a vital cog in its machinery for quite a few years before making that speech. It's nice to say something true in a speech at the end of your career, but nicer to try to do something about problems *before* that.

I think that states your position pretty eloquently.

I don't.

I think it states the reality that big money will swamp rational arguments in many instances, and in such instances, it sometimes becomes necessary to point out to people that they are being bamboozled.

I mean, was "death panels" a good faith rational argument? Or the Harry & Louise barrage from the early 90s?

No you say?

Well, then, surely those arguments/slogans were rejected out of hand by our high information public, right?

No you say again?

Well, would it have been "demagoguery" to point out that the death panel/Harry & Louise drivel was misinformation put out by a health industry that is more concerned about preserving its profit margins than the public good?

You say, yes. I say, no.

It is an extremely important meta discussion to have - and it can be useful on an issue-by-issue basis as well.

The argument that money is irrelevant, and that all that is needed is a good faith argument on the merits, regardless of the financial backing in distributing that message, is naive in the extreme. It belongs in a world that doesn't exist, pure fantasy.

That, TRM, is slightly more eloquent recitation of my position.

Every so often I succumb to an impulse to whine that otherwise intelligent people will stoop to such craven rhetoric, even when there are scads of decent policy arguments. It shows such a profound disrespect for their audience that it kinda gets to me.

This "stooping" that TheRadicalModerate finds distasteful is of course not something that oil companies indulge in. "Craven rhetoric" about jobs does not show "a profound disrespect for their audience" at all. No, it's just one of their "scads of decent policy arguments".

We know that "decent policy arguments" can be very persuasive -- if you spend tons of money to make TV commercials of them. And really, what's wrong with persuading people by spending money? If you persuade them, they are ... well, persuaded. Never mind whether your "argument" is "decent policy" or "craven rhetoric". If enough people see and hear it on TV, some of them will be persuaded by it; if enough of them get persuaded by it, you obviously made a persuasive argument.

So anybody "craven" enough to point out that your argument is about as self-serving as a HeadOn! commercial ("Apply directly to the forehead!") must be a wuss. QED.

--TP

TRM, what about the common sense notion that somebody engaged in a hard sell is probably not being honest?

The harder I get sold something, the more I recoil against it out of paranoia.

It is an extremely important meta discussion to have - and it can be useful on an issue-by-issue basis as well.

Eric, since I've picked a meta-fight with you, let me see if I can give you a decent meta-response.

Politics is ultimately about resolving conflicts between competing interests. (That's a paraphrase of somebody else, but I can't remember whom...) In political discourse it is crucially important to understand where the other party's interest lies. I don't have any trouble with an argument that identifies or clarifies the other party's interest.

But where things go off the rails is when you invalidate the other party's argument based solely on their interests. I believe that's called a circumstantial ad hominem attack, and many forms of it are considered logical fallacies. There are certainly cases where such an attack is justified, but a statement that says for example, "The oil companies' argument that AB32 will eliminate jobs is false because they have an interest in marketing fossil fuels at the lowest cost," is clearly incorrect. It is equally incorrect to attempt to discredit their argument on the grounds that they were able to pay for it.

As you say, there's a lot of money sloshing around out there. I suppose that it's a legitimate argument to make that one side has such a disproportionate advantage in money that the arguments of the other side aren't being heard by the electorate. But using that to invalidate their arguments is simply illogical.

There is, of course, one other eensy tiny problem with this argument when it comes specifically to Prop 23: It doesn't appear to be true. After digging around a little on CalAccess, I found one big "yes" PAC, which to date has received $11.4 million in contributions. However, there are two big "no" PACs, which, together, have received $12.7 million. It's entirely possible that I missed some (I just searched for committees with variations of "23" in their title), but it hardly looks like a blowout, if you'll pardon the expression.

Look, I'm not naive. I know that elections don't always turn on the facts, although I suspect that voters have much better bullshit detectors than either side gives them credit for. The problem is that both liberal and conservative activism has been engaged in a discursive race to the bottom. A big chunk of this is because modern political discourse is narrative-driven instead of issue-driven. It's much easier to argue, "We look out for the little guy, and those guys over there are evil because they're big," or "We think free markets grow the economy faster than any other method, and those guys over there are evil because they're socialists" than it is to actually, you know, make your case.

As I said previously, you caught me in a moment of weakness, and I'm only taking you to task because your post happened to wander before my increasingly grumpy eyes at just the wrong moment. Nevertheless, solving this "meta-problem" is possibly the most important issue before the American public. I don't know how we start to solve it, but threads like this sure couldn't hurt.

As you say, there's a lot of money sloshing around out there. I suppose that it's a legitimate argument to make that one side has such a disproportionate advantage in money that the arguments of the other side aren't being heard by the electorate. But using that to invalidate their arguments is simply illogical.

Not to invalidate. That is not the case. But it can certainly create a presumption against - or at least, create a need to examine the evidence.

Another indicator is when the evidence supporting position X, such as job losses in the present scenario, comes predominately from studies funded by the industry with a stake in the game, and from a prior sympathetic think tanks.

Again, not dispositive in its own right, but it should raise suspicion.

And we're not having this conversation in a vacuum, are we?

In this country, well-funded, motivated lobbies tend to get what they want, often at the expense of the public good.

Is there any plausible "common good" argument for the hedge fund loophole?

On the other side, against common sense tort reform along the lines of what John Edwards was pitching?

Are those arguments prevailing on the merits?

There is, of course, one other eensy tiny problem with this argument when it comes specifically to Prop 23: It doesn't appear to be true. After digging around a little on CalAccess, I found one big "yes" PAC, which to date has received $11.4 million in contributions. However, there are two big "no" PACs, which, together, have received $12.7 million. It's entirely possible that I missed some (I just searched for committees with variations of "23" in their title), but it hardly looks like a blowout, if you'll pardon the expression.

But is that the universe of spending? PACs only?

And this also ignores the simple truth that industry fights for its profits, public good be damned.

They fight against seat belts, against air bags, against safety tests for mines, and oil rigs, and toys, etc.

They put their money behind that. On the other hand, consumer groups try to raise money to counter it, and can, sometimes, raise a decent amount.

But it doesn't change the fact that, regardless of the money differential, the corporate/biz interests put their profits ahead of the public good when the two come in conflict - which is quite frequently.

Look, I'm not naive. I know that elections don't always turn on the facts, although I suspect that voters have much better bullshit detectors than either side gives them credit for.

Not so sure.

Many people still believe Saddam was behind 9/11, that Iraqi WMD were found, that the death panels are real, that Obama is a Muslim, and born in Indonesia, that the dinosaurs walked the Earth with man, etc.

The level of global warming denial is also a thing to behold - but I suppose I shouldn't complain about all the fossil fuel industry money pouring in and funding junk science to kick up dust.

It's wonderful to see a republican politician who realizes that he's raising his children on a dying planet and actually cares. Keep it up Maria - those thumb screws are really working.

Do you folks actually live in California? Have you ever tried to read the entire voter pamphlet? I am a political junkie and even I often skip to the arguments pro and con at the end of each proposition and base my vote on identifying the parties submitting the pro and con arguments. (Usually the best indicator is whom to vote against.)

Who has time for this? Why is this submitted to the general population in the first place? California politics is dysfunctional and part of the reason, in my view, is that the legislature has abdicated its responsibilities to make decisions.

California leads the nation, so the saying goes. Woe is us. The Earth is doomed.

Go Arnold! I hope he is successful as the "Terminator" of Prop 23.

He definitely did not hold back. With Californians divided on this issue, I hope his speech makes a difference.

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