May 16 2013

Are We Really the Reality Based Community? We Don’t Act Like It.

(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

This is not directed at the reality based The Stars Hollow Gazette community.

And by “we” I don’t mean me or I, because I make a good effort to at least try. I’m talking about blogs like Daily Kos. I had always assumed, because of the many insightful writers on the site and on the front page that was the case. However, we are starting to see some of what we see with corporate control of all airwaves in how site moderation is run.

For instance, whether on Fox News, CNN or MSNBC there is always a fake debate when it comes to climate change which is undeniably happening since we have hit 400 ppm of CO2 in our atmosphere for the first time in 3 million years. When this spectacle that pretends to be a live debate on TV happens, there are always two guys picked by the network to come on TV to debate the issue; one a NASA scientist like say James Hansen and one fringe dwelling Koch funded climate changed denier to debate as if there is something to debate as if both sides have an equal argument to make. WRONG. The science is in.

I always thought we in the progressive blogosphere prided ourselves on not accepting that dynamic, but now I am starting to wonder. On the issues I go to great lengths to cover when it comes to the economy, there are certain undeniable facts that have to be acknowledged whether you are a Post Keynesian MMT proponent like me or not. I mean, if we are any different than debates on red state or the corporate owned media, that is. I have to wonder about that now, because it now appears from what went on in my last diary in the comment section that a moderator here stepped in and made an effort to portray the troll like behavior and continual denial of established facts in every diary of mine as “just an honest disagreement.”

It was inferred that I was “out of line” for accurately describing a commentator while using a term that accurately describes his brand of troll like behavior. That’s not out of line. When people act like trolls in every diary of mine I can only ignore it for so long before calling it out directly. We can’t just ignore this kind of behavior forever in this community. I mean, not if we still consider ourselves part the reality based community. Do we?

I consider many people here to be part of the reality based community, but unfortunately, they are not moderating the site. You can’t pretend diarists who directly source their arguments are equal to commentators who exhibit troll like behavior and with no sources of their own. You also can’t get mad at diarists who work hard to source their work that react to this trolling of every diary by describing those who incessantly troll their diaries as exactly what they are based on their behavior.

Candid diarists eventually have to call out overall trollish behavior precisely because it is based on those exhibiting it which always involves a lack of sources and site etiquette. Otherwise, you are committing the same sin I mention above conflating established scientific consensus and empirical data versus outright climate change denial and propaganda funded by the oil lobby. It shouldn’t become a desperate unanswered cry for help to ask that if moderators arbitrarily decide to get involved, that they should then actually take time to assess the situation and respond to inquires.

This is not just about me. It happens to other diarists like bobswern and Jesselyn Radack whose work is highly sourced and relevant unlike some of the trollish comments they receive that derail the important issues in their work as well. One would think if we really care about creating a reality based community that we demand moderation is consistent. There are many rules on this site undefined and only enforced arbitrarily and unevenly. It reminds me of Dodd Frank. I have not really had as many problems in the past as I do now, but as of now, I have to speak up about this because it is clearly evident. Enough is enough. We are either a serious blog with standards or we are not.

That doesn’t mean everyone has to agree with my POV on economics, but it does mean they have to source their rebuttals when attempting to deny the data I laid out. I laid out the solid facts in my last diary and over and over again in the comment section. It was a rather embarrassing display for this site having to see people refuse to read sourced graphs and data from the Congressional Budget Office and the White House’s own Office of Management and Budget showing the austerity that will be happening this year and every year until the start of 2023.

Denying the Data Today Won’t Make President Obama’s Austerity Go Away

The same facts were put forth by economist Jared Bernstein who used to work for VP Joe Biden and is now a senior fellow at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. As a Post Keynesian MMT proponent, I don’t have the same outlook on economics, to say the least, as the CBPP on a number of things, especially on public debt and deficits. However, there’s no reason to doubt the data in this paper from Richard Kogan; it is clearly well sourced from the CBO and the President’s own Office of Management and Budget analyzing the Budget Control Act of 2011 signed into law by the President.


This proves without a shadow of a doubt that anyone who shows up in every thread and types that “cuts only happen in the future” must not be very intellectually curious. After all, as most can see with thier own eyes, the 70% of recommended cuts from Bowles Simpson going into effect this year, the year 2013, occurring every single year until the start of fiscal year 2023 accumulating up to 1.5 trillion in real cuts. These are the indisputable facts.

What was even more embarrassing than that was the attempt to portray this austerity as textbook Keynesianism while continually claiming that these cuts are “only for the future” where they somehow someway see a booming economy on the way thus peddling the delusion that President Obama is somehow Lord Keynes. This is a dangerous kind of anti-intellectualism that can be found on the right and those that moderate this site should be aware of this. They shouldn’t coddle it as if it’s worthy of being debated. It’s not.

I debunked this myth with academic research. I shouldn’t have to keep talking about it just because some moderators don’t want to call out troll behavior, but instead get involved to object to people who do the heavy lifting and source their work for every point that react to this behavior. It should be understood that for those that actually do the research will get angry eventually when dealing with the same fervent anti-intellectual arguments we have seen lately.

This is, of course, on top of other rumors spread about me like how “all I do is cut and paste” because I read academic papers, link to them, and show relevant portions of them to support my arguments. Sourcing matters like it does for research papers using MLA format in college. It makes you wonder just how uneducated people are that use terms derisively like “cut and paste” to attack sourced arguments. We’ve seen these kinds of anti intellectual arguments before in 2004 from the Bush administration when they were looking to squash dissent of the Iraq war on TV and online. Is that what we want to allow here at Daily Kos? I hope not.

And it really shouldn’t be a surprise that anyone continually subjecting to this kind of behavior get tired of it and calls the person perpetuating this kind of behavior out for what they actually are while using that behavior as a basis. This kind of troll like behavior, of course, is also not following what was suggested by Markos about not showing up in a diary and ignoring substance while reminding a diarist that they still don’t like them.  It’s not going to look good that some of the moderators at Daily Kos continually allow this, get arbitrarily involved, call out the wrong person, or treat the poster trolling the diary with no substance of their own as someone arguing in good faith.

The diarist who posts substance to back up his or her points is arguing in good faith. There is no equivalence of those that do to those that don’t. Period. There has to be substance cited to back up a POV. Substance like the fact that the Senators involved in writing The Budget Control Act of 2011 acknowledge the facts I laid out.

The Senate Budget Committee confirms exactly what I laid out regarding the 2011 Budget Control Act.

(Prepared by Majority Staff, Senate Budget Committee)


The Budget Control Act achieved all of the essential elements of a traditional budget – setting discretionary caps, providing enforcement mechanisms, and creating a process for addressing entitlement spending and revenues.

In many ways, the Budget Control Act was even more extensive than a traditional budget:

  • It has the force of law, unlike a budget resolution that is not signed by the President.
  • It set discretionary caps for 10 years, instead of the one year normally set in a budget resolution.

This wasn’t a normal budget for one fiscal year as some continually tried to claim with no substance. This was a super austerity budget with the exact cuts I cited in that chart from my last diary that happen every year for 10 years staring now which includes the White House’s sequester they put out there to be added to this austerity. It gets annoying when the kind of troll like behavior that derails a diary while denying these confirmed sourced facts is allowed.

It basically subverts the discourse for bloggers everywhere. It confuses people who genuinely want to learn and robs them of knowledge to allow this. They probably want to know why we are in a jobs crisis and why they are suffering from the sequester along with the austerity implemented from Bowles Simpson in the Budget Control Act for ten years.

When moderators coddle people proud of ignoring facts and cheering politicians it hurts working people even more. After all, people need to know that even the White House friendly Center for American Progress confirms what I laid out as well while showing there has been even more austerity than that 1.5 trillion counting up to $2.4 trillion of deficit reduction including the stop gap austerity budgets that came before the super austerity budget that was the Budget Control Act of 2011.

The Deficit Reduction We Have Achieved So Far

Since the start of fiscal year 2011, President Barack Obama has signed into law approximately $2.4 trillion of deficit reduction for the years 2013 through 2022. Nearly three-quarters of that deficit reduction is in the form of spending cuts, while the remaining one-quarter comes from revenue increases. (see Figure 1) As a result of that deficit reduction, the projected rise in debt levels from today through 2022 has decreased by nearly 10 full percentage points of gross domestic product. In fact, under today’s policies, debt levels in 2022-as a share of GDP-will be only slightly higher than they are expected to be by the end of next year.


The last temporary appropriations bill passed in December 2010 ran out on March 4, 2011. The new Congress then enacted several more temporary bills, and finally, on April 15, 2011, passed a full appropriations bill for the remainder of the 2011 fiscal year. This second half of the appropriations process also cut a substantial amount of spending. Each new appropriations bill passed by the new Congress cut funding even more than the first set had. The result was another approximately $180 billion in spending reductions over the 10-year period. Altogether, the fiscal year 2011 appropriations process reduced future discretionary spending by $585 billion, or about 4.3 percent.

Over the subsequent several months, Congress engaged in a protracted debate over the looming debt limit. The result of that debate was a bill titled the Budget Control Act. The act-also known as the debt-limit deal-reduced spending again. It did so mainly by setting caps on the overall amount of discretionary resources that Congress could allocate each year for the next decade. These caps were set even lower than the just-enacted, inflation-adjusted 2011 levels. So after already cutting spending several times to the tune of more than $500 billion, the Budget Control Act cut spending again-this time by approximately $860 billion. Together, the fiscal year 2011 appropriations process and the Budget Control Act are responsible for nearly $1.5 trillion in discretionary spending cuts. This is a whopping 10.6 percent reduction from inflation-adjusted 2010 spending levels.

Do we really want to coddle the proud anti intellectual denial of 10 year cumulative austerity which is a proven reality now? Not if we are still a reality based community. You see on the figure 2 chart where it says cumulative?

cumulative [ˈkjuːmjʊlətɪv]


1. growing in quantity, strength, or effect by successive additions or gradual steps cumulative pollution

2. gained by or resulting from a gradual building up cumulative benefits

Some may have differences of opinion on this data, but unless there is a citation that accompanies those opinions to base them off of, it’s just more anti-intellectual fervor. There should be a limit as to how many comments we are going to allow from commentators who deny facts and use no sources in diaries full of them. Especially those adding insult to injury to I or anyone else who knows basic economic theory by invoking the name of famous economist John Maynard Keynes improperly on this site to support this administration’s austerity or to deny it is even happening which is the same thing.

That looks rather embarrassing to econ blogs, let me tell you. It makes matters worse to see some moderators treating it as a worthy argument. I implore them not to do so for the good of the site. Nuance is important for understanding these matters, and I provided a lot of it in this diary on this subject. Yet if we allow anyone to start derailing diaries while proudly ignoring the substance in them while derisively calling them “cut and paste” without any sources of their own to back their misinformation up, it does not lead to a conducive learning environment. That’s what a reality based community is supposed to be all about.

For instance, If you read my diary linked to on the subject you will find that as a Post Keynesian MMT proponent I disagree with the 1936 Keynes about balancing the budget during even a boom and instead agree with the 1930 Keynes who advocated Chartalism (also explained in the diary) but because I know what traditional Keynes meant even in 1936, I know that invoking him to pretend austerity in a jobs crisis isn’t happening as it is right now proven up above, because some are fixated on their love of a politician. It’s embarrassing.

President Obama’s Austerity Does Not Make Him a Keynesian

Since we have since abandoned the gold standard in 1972 when the Bretton Woods international financial system fell, we can and need to create dollars and run the deficits needed to close the output gap. We can do this without the same worries as having to mine gold for bank reserves to store at the fed and to be shipped abroad to pay trade deficits. We have to implore people to face reality and that absolute reality is that Obama is not waiting until after the slump to cut spending so even on basic Keynesian grounds, the comparison fails. This is on top of some of the most austere budgets(or stop gaps in replacement of one) since Eisenhower. I imagine the people making these weird comparisons don’t know much about history, aggregate demand, or what a hole we are still in.

Who Is The Smallest Government Spender Since Eisenhower? Would You Believe It’s Barack Obama?

This is not a good thing. These are the forgotten facts that some are refusing to pay attention to and despite some peoples’ hurt feelings in wanting to believe it, it’s actually not good for the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression still ongoing. Thanks to my last diary, most know where I am coming from when I speak of sectoral balances, national accounting, and how there is no real responsible deficit reduction in this economy without full employment. It will only suck income out of the private sector that is hemorrhaging demand still from the bust of the housing bubble and overall leakages from our trade deficit.

Coddling anyone who denies this or respecting their argument in any way also makes it look like this site supports proud anti intellectual ignorance. Despite the intentions of whatever moderator’s actions, this is what it looks like. Especially when they lazily ignore all inquiries as to why they selectively took action.  Whether they mean to or not, if they ignore the behavior of those that deny the undeniable facts they are responsible for lowering the discourse of this site.

Not the diarists who have to deal with it and don’t respond in kind and accurately call trolling trolling. Denying facts and derailing are examples of trolling, and that is a fact. After all, look at the White House also bragging about exactly what I, the Senate Budget Committee, the Center for American Progress, the Congressional Budget Office, and White House’s Office of Management and Budget laid out.

The White House openly brags about these facts I continually laid out on their website.

In 2011, President Obama signed a bipartisan compromise that cut nearly $1 trillion in spending over the next decade, reducing discretionary spending to its lowest level as a share of the economy since Dwight D. Eisenhower was president while protecting job-creating investments like education and research. Learn more

The key words are “over the next decade” so that’s three for three for me. Zero for the anti intellectual crowd trolling and denying these facts. And don’t just take my opinion on this. CEPR Economist Dean Baker knows there has been a commitment to austerity by this administration and Congress, and he represents the reality based community. He wrote a paper on the Housing bubble in 2002 and knows austerity when he sees it.

Economist and NYT columnist Paul Krugman knows this as well and provides a chart showing the depth of this austerity. He shows that while our fiscal contraction is smaller than in Europe, it’s not by that much. His work here also represents the reality based community. Keep in mind the excuse about this chart including cuts in state and local government ignores that they have gotten less money from the Federal Government and had to cut back.

Obama knew that they were having to cut back and stood by idly when he could have attempted to stem those losses by directing more money to state and local. The federal workforce has been cut and fed wages have been frozen and cut going to my sourced points. The U.K experiencing much worse austerity by definition does not mean the President is a Keynesian. Austerity lite is not Keynesian anymore than crushing austerity in the U.K and Eurozone is.

This was also explained to those proud of ignoring facts and data while refusing to read the chart in my diaries. For instance though the U.K has double dipped over the last five years and almost triple dipped this quarter, our 4th quarter 2012 growth was just .1% higher(.4%) than theirs is now(.3%) because we cut 15% of federal spending across the board in Q4 2012. We may not have double dipped on revision but we came close to doing it one quarter. Only someone who is proud of not know anything would claim that’s “waiting until the boom,”

It isn’t. It’s austerity by definition. It’s in the data I laid out. It’s not Keynesian and certainly not Post Keynesian MMT which is where we need to move to. Anyone who denies this and trolls a diary deserves only recipes and to be called out for who they are and what they are doing. Otherwise we can’t claim to be a reality based community. I would like us to consistently hold some standards.

Those that offer sources offer something of value when they write for this website. They don’t deserve to be equated and conflated with those that don’t or judged for the reaction to the constant barrage of insults spread about them on this site by those that offer nothing of value because they proudly deny facts. This, of course, goes to the bigger issue that there are many undefined rules that don’t seem to apply equally to everyone on this site.  As I have laid out, it’s not going to help this site to arbitrarily enforce the rules for some, but not others while ignoring the continual troll like behavior that prompts an understandable and accurate reaction every once in awhile.

I would say its a double standard, but there doesn’t seem to be any standards at all as far as moderation is concerned anymore. All terms are arbitrary as are all actions without consistency with too many loose rules undefined. When they are undefined we have to think why certain actions are taken and others let be. We have to think about this ourselves because nothing is ever confirmed or enforced for justification.

So are we really the reality based community still when we allow this to go on unanswered and unaccounted for? The only answers we have are in the non answers to these inquires. That’s unfortunately pretty clear until someone up top answers them.