A Flea in the Fur of the Beast

“Death, fire, and burglary make all men equals.” —Dickens

Someone Needs A Credulity Vaccine

by evanmcmurry

Well fiddly-dee, one of the primary mainstream media voices of skepticism on #BENGHAZI also wrote a series on how vaccines cause autism:

Some of Attkisson’s most controversial reporting hasn’t been about politics at all. She has been widely criticized within medical-research circles for a series starting in 2002 about research linking childhood vaccinations to the rise in autism. The stories have been denounced in some circles as “fear-mongering.” Attkisson is, typically, unbowed: “I stand behind it,” she says. “It’s some of the best work I’ve ever done. My only regret is that we haven’t done more.”

Ah, the objective vocabulary of journalism, in which “some circles” means “science.”

As Pierce puts it, Attkisson sounds less like a partisan hack than a sucker.

The Phenomenology of #BENGHAZI

by evanmcmurry

Pareene has good thoughts on why #BENGHAZI—the rabid conservative conglomeration of theories surrounding a series of events last September, not the city or attack it refers to—has reached the level it has, and why it won’t go much further. I’ll add two thoughts:

1. The GOP has figured out a way to deny the foreign policy bona fides Obama earned—swiped, in the Republican reading—by killing Osama bin Laden. The irrefutability of that accomplishment made 2012 very difficult for Republicans, as they just could not plausibly argue that Obama was making the world more dangerous/leaving us vulnerable to terrorism/etc. when he’d gotten the architect of 9/11 after Bush hadn’t. The right tried all manner of misdirection—accusing Obama of hogging the SEAL’s spotlight, for instance—but nothing worked. At the end of the day, Biden could, and did, say, “GE GM is alive and bin Laden is dead,” and the GOP could do nothing but stammer.

Not anymore. The GOP has convinced itself that Obama has four dead American diplomats’ blood on his hands, deaths he callously caused and cavalierly covered up. Obama is now the vain, America-hating evil mastermind the right has always known him to be. Expect any mention of the death of bin Laden to be followed by the wailing of “Benghazi” by any right winger in spitting distance. It neutralizes, at least to the FOX News audience, the killing of bin Laden, something the right has been trying to do since about two hours after the announcement of his death.

2. Nothing in any of this actually implicates Hillary Clinton in any wrongdoing, but there were clearly some failures of communication and security surrounding the consulate in Benghazi, and she’s within their radius. If Clinton runs in 2016, expect a Daily Caller or Breitbart Jr. scribe at every campaign stop asking some arcane question about some obscure #BENGHAZI detail, and expect her answers to be parsed to death in the rightwing blogosphere. Anything Clinton says on the trail that doesn’t match 100% with what she said now—or anybody’s interpretation of what she said now—will be evidence of a coverup.

Clinton is incredibly popular right now. The aura of #BENGHAZI is the first tool that right has found to chip away at the popularity. Unfortunately for the rest of us, this means that if Clinton runs, this is hardly the last we’ve heard of #BENGHAZI.

Is Our Conservative Think Tanks Learning, Massive Racism Edition

by evanmcmurry

So the coauthor of that Heritage Foundation study claiming that immigration reform will cost taxpayers $6.3 trillion—a number that’s about $7.8 trillion too high, according to conservative estimates—turns out to be a giant racist. Whodathunk?

Here’s his thinking, via Jennifer Rubin*:

The average IQ of immigrants in the United States is substantially lower than that of the white native population, and the difference is likely to persist over several generations. The consequences are a lack of socioeconomic assimilation among low-IQ immigrant groups, more underclass behavior, less social trust, and an increase in the proportion of unskilled workers in the American labor market.

This isn’t irrelevant. The Heritage study gets its massively inflated figure in part by assuming immigrants will be on the welfare rolls their entire lives. Assuming they’re genetically inferior is a necessary precondition for that assumption.

You’ll recall in Heritage President Jim DeMint’s USA Today op-ed lambasting former BFF Marco Rubio over immigration that DeMint relied on a 2007 Heritage study by Robert Rector claiming reform will cost around $2.5 trillion, but promised breathlessly that new numbers were on their way. In other words, DeMint could tell his current figure wasn’t doing the trick, and he was casting about for someone who would give immigration a bigger price tag. Beggars can’t be choosers, I guess, though Heritage is now in full retreat mode.

* This blog gives Jennifer Rubin a lot of shit, but she’s been ruthless with the Heritage Foundation over this. Good on her.

Austerity slows GDP growth, employment recovery

by pdxblake

In the NY Times (ht Jared Bernstein).  Offered without comment.

Benghazi Blueballs

by evanmcmurry

Whistle-blower: Botched talking points hurt FBI probe of Benghazi attack” was the best FoxNews.com could gin up over the House’s Benghazipalooza. And Fox is the New York Yankees of this thing. Are we done now?