Give Them Credit For Consistency….

Apparently, GOP lawmakers don’t have grandchildren.

It’s hard to say it more succinctly and accurately than a recent article in the Guardian:

The parallels between the Republican Party positions on taxes and climate change are striking. Both are morally appalling and reject the available evidence and expert opinion.

According to the article, 96% of economic experts who were asked about the GOP tax plan opined that it would not generate nearly enough economic growth to cover the shortfall in revenue it will cause. This same economic consensus has been reported by a number of other outlets, and the economists surveyed have included conservatives, moderates and liberals. There is 100% consensus that the tax package will grow the national debt.

Those numbers are quite similar to the 97% consensus among climate scientists that humans are driving global warming and the 95% consensus among economists that the US should cut its carbon pollution.

Oh, but what do “experts” know? (I wonder whether our intrepid Congress-critters take their chest pains to faith healers; they certainly substitute faith for knowledge in the policy arena.)

The author of the Guardian article– in an effort to figure out why Republicans passed the tax bill, and why they are unwilling to move environmental legislation–comes to the same conclusion: faith over fact.

The tax cut plan, which by design will increase the US national debt by $1.5tn, is also incompatible with Republican opposition to increased deficits. Just last year the Republican National Committee was warning of “an unsustainable path toward crippling debt.”

Again, the consistency with climate change denial is striking.

These Republican economic contradictions make no sense, but they’re familiar to those of us who follow climate change news. The only consistency in climate denial is in its contradictions – deniers claim global warming isn’t happening, but it’s a natural ocean cycle, and caused by the sun, and galactic cosmic rays, and Jupiter’s orbital cycles, and it’s really just a Chinese hoax, and in any case it’s not bad.

The author attributes the GOP’s faith-based approach to “intellectual rot,” and references an August 2017 Gallup poll, in which just 33% of Republicans expressed confidence in higher education, and the fact that the tax bill penalizes American graduate students. (Of course, it also wages war on public education overall. How it does that is a subject for yet another blog rant…Obviously, this tax bill will provide fodder for blog posts for the foreseeable future…)

Explanations of the intellectual vacuum that characterizes today’s GOP inevitably include  the influence of right-wing media.

A 2012 survey found that Americans who only watch Fox News are less informed than Americans who watch no news at all. At the time, 55% of Americans including 75% of Republicans reported watching Fox News. The network is powerful – a recent study found that Fox News might have enough influence to tip American elections – and on the whole it prioritizes ideological messaging over factual accuracy.

Trump’s attacks on the so-called “fake news” media have further eroded Republicans’ trust of news sources that lack a conservative bias. As David Roberts wrote for Vox:

The US is experiencing a deep epistemic breach, a split not just in what we value or want, but in who we trust, how we come to know things, and what we believe we know — what we believe exists, is true, has happened and is happening … the right has created its own parallel set of institutions, most notably its own media ecosystem … “conservative media is more partisan and more insular than the left.”

All true. All interesting to consider and discuss from a sociological perspective.

But I do have grandchildren, so my question is more urgent: what can rational people do? Voting these Neanderthals out is obvious, but we’ll still have to deal with that “epistemic breach,” if my grandchildren are going to inherit breathable air and a viable economy.


  1. As said in song and poem, love is the answer and the song by Crosby Stills and Nash works both ways:

    You, who are on the road must have a code that you can live by.
    And so become yourself because the past is just a good bye.
    Teach your children well, their father’s hell did slowly go by,
    And feed them on your dreams, the one they pick’s the one you’ll know by.
    Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
    So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.

    And you, of tender years can’t know the fears that your elders grew by,
    And so please help them with your youth, they seek the truth before they can die.
    Teach your parents well, their children’s hell will slowly go by,
    And feed them on your dreams, the one they pick’s the one you’ll know by.
    Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
    So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.

  2. To be clear, the GOP is not a fact based party. They are not doing any of this based on facts about what is good for the US.
    This is ONLY a payback for their donors. NOTHING ELSE.
    They were bought and paid for.
    The donors demanded this. So the donors are getting this.
    WE are not part of the picture.

  3. There is much more that each of us can do besides vote and write letters and make phone calls. We can each live out our principles, our idealistic dreams in our every day lives. We can work on our own attitudes toward others, our own prejudices and intolerance. We can waste not by buying less and recycling more. We can help reduce carbon emissions by travelling less and cutting back on energy consumption. We can demand from ourselves what we demand from the government and others in our lives… respect, fairness, and justice, kindness and charity. We all need to build the world we claim we want. We may never see it, but our grandchildren will surely be closer to it if we try.

  4. Anthony; so many of the lyrics from 1970’s music fits today’s destructive government. My favorite is Simon and Garfunkle’s “…and the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls, and tenement halls…” I see many prophetic (and warning) words in Sheila’s blog and the comments responding to them. Are our words reaching any further than those “subway walls and tenement halls”? Nixon’s destructive administration pales in comparison with today’s deliberate “deconstruction” of our government and democracy “of the people, by the people and for the people” and it is consistent across all state lines and one mentally ill man is consistently causing destruction in other nations with the consistent support of Congress.

    “Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.” Congress is USING the past to move us back to those “good old days” before interest in and knowledge of this government’s spending habits and the self-destructive habits of this “disposable society” began permanently destroying the environment. Ignoring proven science will not make the problems go away; we can find nothing in life more consistent than those facts.

    “…The author attributes the GOP’s faith-based approach to “intellectual rot,” Maybe we need another Scopes trial but on a national level; at that time, much was conjecture, today we have the evidence of evolution and the facts that we humans are quickly becoming an endangered species. The debt level speaks for itself; attempts to repair the environment is costly, linking taxes and climate change but the planned-for “God’s Kingdom” based education will move us back in time with no knowledge of self-protection to be found in Bible verses.

  5. Evidence consists of facts that support some claim about how the world works. When they ignore or deny the relevance of facts, they deny reality. They truly don’t care about their grandchildren.

  6. Well, I see clear evidence that they care about someone’s grandchildren. They are proposing to either eliminate or increase the size of an estate that would be subject to the estate tax.

    I would also like to point out once again that the increase in the deficit is part of their long term plan. Without that big increase they would not be able to propose their next step, which is to take an axe to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

    Whereas most writers think the anti-knowledge agenda is the cause of the tax plan, I see it as a necessary tool for the cynical majorities in the House and Senate. The less the public knows, the more they can get away with.

  7. We delude ourselves to see this as an “epistemic breach”. Climate change denial and tax cuts (with deficits) are deliberate give aways to largely the same interests and people, and these people are not our grandchildren.

  8. Ah, but Sheila, the GOP lawmakers do have grandchildren and have considered how the “greed now” so-called tax bill affects their progeny. The bill provides for virtual extinction of the estate tax so that inherited wealth is passed on unimpeded to heirs and devisees. The bill also adds greatly (via tax cuts and definitions of income) to the troves of the present superrich so that they have more to leave to their successors. Piketty treats this problem at length in his book (my secular bible – Capital in the Twenty-First Century) with an historical look at inherited wealth and patrimonial capitalism.

    The bill now pending in conference (and almost universally decried by responsible economists)
    thus provides for more money for the superrich and a mechanism for passing on such increased troves to their untaxed successors, and with our economic growth in the doldrums and virtually certain to remain there, the money to pay for such reductions in current taxes for those most able to pay has to come from somewhere in our “economic pie,” and the only place it can come from is the rest of us.

    Republicans tell us that economic growth will offset the some 1.5 to 2 trillion dollar addition to our debt. Right! And the moon is made from green cheese! As we all know (not just economists), economic growth depends wholly upon aggregate demand, and with the shrinking wherewithal to the mass of consumers occasioned by Republican giveaways to the superrich (those who cannot consume more since the lawns on their estates are already crowded with Rolls Royces), I view the grossly misnamed “tax cuts and jobs bill” as a spike in the heart of our economy and predict a recession in 2018 or no later than 2019 when the impact of this bill (if finally passed) reduces aggregate demand and results in negative growth which will in turn INCREASE OUR DEBT.
    So how, Sheila rightly suggests, do we end what these myth-making Republicans are leaving us beyond voting them out of office? Answer: We take voters off the Yellow Brick Road and introduce them to reality via a stern science known as arithmetic.

  9. There is no intellectual vacuum amongst Republicans. The crux of these issues is corruption. This tax bill was flaunted by so-called reasonable Republicans like Lindsay Graham who publicly stated that his donors said not call if they don’t pass the giveaway. That should be plain enough.

    These guys are not ideologues, they are corrupt to the bone and actually think so little that it is easy to label them intellectual dwarfs.

  10. Understanding the problem is very simple. They are consistent. 100% so. It’s 100% TRIBALISM with 0% CONSCIENCE. It’s as simple as that . Don’t complicate it. Try to face it, if you can.

  11. Marv comes to our rescue once again. We are clearly on the wrong train and have to depart from it as soon as possible and board another even if we have to build it ourselves. I just wish Pastor Bonhoeffer was here to tell us about the full seriousness of our situation not just now but for the balance of this century and how to deal with it in the most constructive way possible.

    “The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.”

    “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

  12. You mention the Guardian. today the Guardian has an article: Kansas’s ravaged economy a cautionary tale as Trump plans huge tax cuts for rich

    >>> After a failed economic experiment meant to boost economic growth blew a hole in the Kansas budget as big as a prairie sky (a $350m deficit in the current fiscal year and nearly $600m in the next) state jobs and services have been slashed. Next year, the state faces a school shutdown after the supreme court found its educational spending was unconstitutionally low. Some of those schools have already had to shorten the school year in order to save cash. <<<

    Kansas governor Sam Brownback will probably find employment with some Right Wing "Think" Tank after his term is over.

    The selling of this tax plan is critical. The Republicans, even the so-called moderates have kicked up the dirt and dust in effort to blind their electorate. There will be no economic nirvana for the proles.

  13. The largest, and maybe the most devout, organized religious denomination in the US is the republican party: faith, baby.

    Republicanism has the faith, certainly, but it also has the sacraments—anointment into the club, confirmation of membership (ongoing privilege), the Sacrament or Eucharist (the blood of the poor), matrimony (marriage to capitalism and the NRA {polygamy is permitted in this instance}, penance (extreme sorrow and regret for not being richer and more cruel), holy orders (the rigid ranking and privilege of ascending social classes, and extreme unction (anointing the poor and feeble with the comforting assurance that faith in capitalism will make you rich), and, of course, Saint Reagan.

  14. talk about 70s songs,its a fact, it helped end the war in vietnam, made people aware,and gave them joy to protest,. today,and a fact, bush suppressed the music,and the thoughts,which were replaced by words of war. take a good listen today,our former goverment,and our new goverment,(corp america,and wall street) and listen to the howl of the ugly clouds above us. and we see how we are conned by propaganda,,,, like the russians and nazis… no diffrent,goal the same, control the people,just use modern day legislation,to support the very insitutions that are suppressing us. clear channel,rush,fox,alec,koch,manafort,bannon,apple,google,etc,etc,pow! kinda how china does it ….. now pay attention,please…

  15. Watching this nightmare unfold, there are moments when I am relieved that I didn’t have children and won’t have grandchildren obviously. It’s the only form of peace I get from not being able to have those children. Look at this awful mess we are in and look at what is coming! This house of cards is crumbling (and no reference to the show as I’ve never seen it). Considering I’ll be retirement age soon, I figure the whole mess will implode right as I get to that golden age. If it wasn’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.

  16. @Alphons,

    Thank you, for that wonderful version. I have been enthralled with Tula’s powerful voice since she was first recorded on the streets of Tel Aviv by Playing for Change.

  17. Consider Trump/Pence/McConnell/Ryan as metaphorically another era’s Seigfreid and Roy who reduced huge fierce wild predatory cats to sniveling servants. Republican Congress members – do you recognize yourselves?

    Until one day a cat had had enough. In both cases men created the illusion of control until they couldn’t.

    But, like in Medeival times, the King didn’t control the aristocracy, he was a product of it. The administration puppet masters have strings on their limbs too.

    Now America has an aristocracy with an army, not of knights this time, of entertainers living in every purse, pocket and room, snapping their whips at you, at me, at our neighbors, at all Americans, and they expect tricks from us. Other cats give them what they want.

    We can live in ease and comfort with our needs filled with hand me downs from the aristocracy as the tax bill portends, or we can return to our roots. We have the strength outside of the entertainment cage wealth built to contain us, but if we don’t use it now the easy living in the glare of the screens will sap our strength and erase the memory of our days feeding ourselves.

    It doesn’t have to be like this. We, collectively have what the illusionists fear. If one cat did in Seigfreid and Roy think of what all of the cats together could do.

  18. Tom,

    “I just wish Pastor Bonhoeffer was here to tell us about the full seriousness of our situation not just now but for the balance of this century and how to deal with it in the most constructive way possible.”

    You’re right. The answer lies with Bonhoeffer. My long-time companion, Barbara, was a disciple.

    She was a graduate of Union Theological Seminary in New York where Bonhoeffer came to stay when he left Germany in the early 30’s. After Barbara died in 2009, I made it a point to go to to Union, stay on campus, and read everything Bonhoeffer had written.

    Bonhoeffer’s influence is best represented in America by Bill Moyers who is a longtime trustee of the Seminary.

  19. Bless you, Marv Kramer!!! You said it all in a mere 31 words, proving that it really can be said in just 31 words! I scroll past the ones with piles and piles of words. Thanks

  20. We can’t rely on the current congress and political parties to find a way out of this mess. There has to be a leader somewhere who could assemble a team and develop a successful plan that goes beyond getting out the vote, to attack the entrenchment of the special interests currently controlling the legislative agenda and sponsoring OUR elected “representatives” So who is it?

  21. “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,” R.W. Emerson. No one has ever said it better.

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