Matt Yglesias ain't bad, but he ain't Josh Marshall either. I personally would prefer that Guest Bloggers be abolished everywhere. Frankly, I think it's a silly idea. If you're going to leave and turn the keys over to another blogger, why not just make the final entry a link to the other blogger's webpage. I mean, it made sense when Josh gave it to Harry Shearer, as Shearer doesn't have his own blog. But Yglesias certainly does and we can read this same stuff over there.
And more importantly, if the lack of Guest Bloggers means that our top bloggers can't go on vacation. So be it. President Bush doesn't take a vacation (beyond his permanent vacation), and neither should we. And honestly, for all the times that we head over to Mr. Marshall's marvelous website, don't you think he owes it to us to never leave? I mean really. I never agreed to a vacation schedule for him. And I doubt that you did either. We'll just have to have a talk with him when he gets back.
But I'm not here just to rag on guest bloggers, but to give a little laugh at Matt Yglesias. He's a smart guy, and he's often got some good nuggets of wisdom we should all crunch through. But all the same, he can be pretty silly sometimes.
In this case, I'm referring to this in his TPM comments about the imbecile Joe Klein:
"It's also never been clear to me why the High Lords of Punditry think it's unacceptably "demagogic" to point out that the Republican Party wants to gut middle class retirement security."
What's not clear about this? This seems pretty obvious to me. Joe Klein and his elitist ilk don't like something, so they invent silly rationalizations to justify their selfish and idiotic point of view that they picked up from their fellow chatterers. Joe doesn't believe that crap any more than he believes its opposite. It's meaningless drivel which can be used against anyone.
And in this specific case, Joe Klein and the Chatterers want private accounts because they see Social Security as a wasteful drain of their income. Joe doesn't need Social Security. You can bet your bottom dollar that he and all his closest friends have very healthy nest-eggs that any reader of this blog would gladly trade with their own nest-egg, sight unseen. You know you would. He's had a 401k, Roth IRA, and whatever else building up throughout the booming 90's, waiting for his retiring days. And even if he didn't, he still plans to have his own money. I don't know if Joe's a millionaire, but he's certainly better off than any of us.
And so what does Social Security mean to him? It's a drain on his retirement plan. These aren't the exact numbers, but poor Joe has about $5580 taken from his check every year. And if you include the employer portion of his contributions, it's over $11,000, every year. Over fifteen years, that's almost $170,000. And for what? Does Joe need this safety net? No. He sees his 401k statements every quarter, along with the stocks and bonds that he surely has (I wouldn't doubt that he's a daytrader, too); and he's got to be upset at losing that $11k to its meager earnings every year.
And even if he does believe any other arguments, if he believed that he might need Social Security someday, you can be sure that his other arguments will fall by the wayside. Because it's such an overriding issue. Even if he doesn't actively think that he wants to kill Social Security for his own selfish reasons; if he believed he might need it, he'd be singing a completely different tune. Everything would appear differently to him. Not that that's my reason for wanting it, but I'm not a selfish boob like Joe Klein.
And so they dislike Social Security. It's a social insurance program that Joe and his friends don't need. So of course they want private accounts. They want that $11k making as much money as the rest of their portfolio. Eventually, they'd like to pull their money out of it completely; but they'll take what they can get.
And I don't necessarily blame him. Selfishness is still selfishness, but $11,000 is a healthy chunk of change to lose for no reason. But Social Security, as a retirement insurance program, requires the Joe Kleins to contribute, so he's stuck with it. Unless Joe Klein wants to feed and house the elderly, he should just keep his damn mouth shut. But he doesn't, and he's a selfish idiot, so he wants to kill Social Security.
But can he say that? Of course not. That would be disastrous for him. Even his elitist media friends would have to drop him were he to publicly give his true reason for supporting Bush's proposals. Even the outright conservatives can't openly say that, so what's a closet con like Klein supposed he do?
He accuses Democrats of demagoguery. And why not? It's an easy position to take. It can't be disproven and, as such, it can be applied to any politician. That's why these people like the unprovable claims so much. It's a sure bet, along with complaining about decency, special interest groups, and government waste and corruption. If you've got nothing else to say, you can always rant about rampant indecency becoming the norm and special interest groups as dividing our nation. You just can't go wrong with those, and people have been using them for years. Partisan demagogery is another of those perennial favorites.
And so that's why he says it. Not because it's true, but because it's an easy charge to make and is sounds much better than Klein's real reason. And I can assure you that this is the primary reason that the media is supporting Bush's Social Security plan. Because they hate Social Security, the same way that a healthy person might hate a mandatory health insurance policy stealing from their check each week. Except even healthy people get sick, but Klein is unlikely to ever need Social Security. So it's just a drain on him.
Show Me The Motives
And this is very important. I've said it before and I'll say it again: we need to get to the heart of why these people are doing these things. Don't address Joe Klein's absurd point, except to point out its absurdity. But don't treat it like its honest. It's not. He's just looking for a respectable argument to hang his hat on, because he can't admit to his real one. Don't puzzle over why they're saying it; you already know why. So say it.
And remember, this is exactly what Joe Klein is doing to us. He's not presenting a real argument against our claims. He's trying to undercut our motives and insist that we're not dealing honestly. He's insisting that our arguments are invalid, so why should we treat his argument as if it's in any way valid? Why shouldn't we undercut his motives? Especially as our motives are good, and it's likely that his motives are not. And our arguments are solid and his are retreads of unprovable rhetoric. So why are we playing fairly with this cheater?
And to tie this back into young Matt, he really needs to see through this bullshit a little more. These people toss out piles and piles of bullshit, and we waste our time trying to shovel it back, rather than taking the fight to the bullshitters themselves. And that's a serious mistake that they don't make. I don't mind debating arguments on their merits, I'll win every time. But you can't debate bullshit on its merits, because it has none.
So if someone is giving you a bullshit argument, call them on it. Don't treat them as sincere, because they're not. And if they don't know that they're bullshitting, they need to be told. Some people do it as second nature, and don't even give a thought to it. But this is what they do to us, and we're not bullshitting. Learn to play the game how it's played, and not on how they want us to play it. Otherwise, we'll keep getting buried in bullshit all the time. And I don't know about you, but I hate being buried in bullshit. I really do.