Look: I am eager to learn stuff I don't know--which requires actively courting and posting smart disagreement.

But as you will understand, I don't like to post things that mischaracterize and are aimed to mislead.

-- Brad Delong

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Facts About Facts

There are things that are ambiguous, things that are uncertain, and things that are open to various kinds of interpretations.

Then, there are cold hard facts:

The law of gravity.

In the long run, we are all dead.

Newton's laws of motion.

David Brooks is an utter buffoon.

Here is his latest Op-Ed piece.

Here is well-placed, pointed ridicule of that piece by Jonathan  Chait.

Here is Ezra Klein calling him out on his errors and/or lies.

To recap, Brooks argued that reconciliation is being used more frequently, and that past reconciliation bills, like Bush's tax cuts and prescription drug benefit, were significantly bipartisan. Reconciliation is, in fact, being used less frequently, past reconciliation bills like the tax cuts were not significantly bipartisan by any stretch of the imagination, and the prescription drug benefit did not go through reconciliation. Brooks isn't wrong in the sense that "I disagree with him." He's wrong in the sense that the column requires a correction.

Can it be that liars, fools and tools - exclusively right wingers and their fellow-travelers - have gotten away with misleading non-information, misrepresentation, chicanery and outright lies for so long that they think they can simply make stuff up that is easily refuted by a little fact-checking, and still get away with it?

The alternatives are that Brooks is either too lazy to make the effort required to get it right, or too stupid and/or ignorant to present an opinion worthy of consideration.

No matter which of these is correct, he should be collecting unemployment.  That's a fact!

H/T to Delong, who is nowhere near harsh enough.


Enchanted Oak said...

It has become a human failing to pronounce opinions without bothering to review all the facts. Government is rife with this. So is the media. So are my friends. It is so much simpler to draw conclusions based on one item than to study all the items and then form a possible conclusion. Doing the easy thing allows us to compartmentalize the world and other people, and it reduces uncertainty, which many apparently find uncomfortable.
Just my opinion, based on an unscientific review of some evidence I can't produce and some assumptions I have made.

Jazzbumpa said...


Not only do you speak haiku, you have a keen sense of irony.

Spouting unsupported opinions has always been a human failing. The specific problem is, people like Brooks have a professional obligation to at least get the basic facts right. Then they can construct whatever opinion pleases them.

What I've seen over the last decade, at least, is that those on the left speak the truth, and on the right they lie and distort.

Liars always lie for the same reason: the truth does not fit their agenda.


Suzan said...

When you're right, you're right.

And you are entirely right, my dear.



David Brooks is an utter buffoon.