The Economy, the Deep State, and Conservative Denial of Reality

  • How conservatives have won their war against social media in order to keep spreading disinformation;
  • A reality check on what the “Deep State” actually consists of;
  • Two more takes on why so many people don’t realize how good the American economy is;
  • Notes from the fringe: Republican politicians taking credit for infrastructure bills they voted against; how MAGA fans fail the most basic civics; Fox & Friends praying on TV and promoting a prayer app; and the “evangelicalese” used by Project 2025.


To the reality-based observer, the “conservative views” that conservatives claim are being suppressed are disinformation, i.e. lies.

Front page of NYT two days ago.

NY Times, 17 Mar 2024: How Trump’s Allies Are Winning the War Over Disinformation, subtitled “Their claims of censorship have successfully stymied the effort to filter election lies online.”

Mr. Trump and his allies embarked instead on a counteroffensive, a coordinated effort to block what they viewed as a dangerous effort to censor conservatives.

They have unquestionably prevailed.

Waged in the courts, in Congress and in the seething precincts of the internet, that effort has eviscerated attempts to shield elections from disinformation in the social media era. It tapped into — and then, critics say, twisted — the fierce debate over free speech and the government’s role in policing content.

Projects that were once bipartisan, including one started by the Trump administration, have been recast as deep-state conspiracies to rig elections. Facing legal and political blowback, the Biden administration has largely abandoned moves that might be construed as stifling political speech.

The bias against conservatives is merely a bias against disinformation. But, free speech! If they had evidence for any of their claims, they would produce it. They don’t. So they just assert.

This is, of course, completely consistent with the view of evolving ethics and conservative refusal to acknowledge any kind of change.


What is the Deep State? Trump has no clue. Or maybe a clue, but he lies about it to his uneducated clueless base. Conservatives who are suspicious of elites. Including the educated.

NY Times, Video Opinion by Adam Westbrook and Lindsay Crouse, 19 Mar 2024: It Turns Out the ‘Deep State’ Is Actually Kind of Awesome

It’s a 6-minute video highlighting examples of members of the Deep State:

  1. A NASA mission manager in Alabama, who figured out how to knock an asteroid off its course (which could potentially save the Earth from catastrophe);
  2. A DC administrator at EPA, who’s helping to remove lead from water;
  3. A woman at Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division in Chicago:, working to get kids out of working in slaughterhouses.

“Trump’s teaching is to expect the worst of people in government, when the truth is, they’re actually some of our best.”

If the Deep State disappeared, American society would collapse. The simple-minded MAGA folk do not understand this.

My own examples of the Deep State are all those in the “reality-based community” which the simple-minded right think are depriving them of the freedom, but which are actually needed to maintain our complex society. As in the passages from Jonathan Rauch’s The Constitution of Knowledge, which I scanned in this post.


One more time about the economy. Is this just partisan denial of reality by conservatives?

Slate, Zachary D. Carter, 19 Mar 2024: The U.S. Economy’s Rebound Since COVID Is Kind of Incredible. Why Doesn’t Anyone Seem to Realize This?, subtitled “There is a distinctly political tenor to Biden’s trouble on the issue that defies material conditions.”

This is a fairly long, detailed piece, concerning inflation, economic growth, inequality, unemployment rates, and so on. Ironically, it points out, Biden changed many of Obama’s policies (6th paragraph). Including *not* spending enough, as some critics said, in Obama’s 2009 stimulus package. I wasn’t aware of these points. Anyway, Biden’s strategy worked, by bringing unemployment and inflation down without causing a recession, or mass layoffs. Nevertheless, doomsayers dominate the media, including of course Fox News. I’ll quote the final four paragraphs.

Many economic disputes are vague enough to allow for essentially endless ideological stalemate over statistics, but in this case, a straightforward real-world test was available. Summers and Furman were arguing that layoffs were the only way to bring inflation down. If inflation fell without a flood of layoffs, then the rest of their diagnosis would have to fall with it.

In the American economy, policymakers typically induce job losses through the Federal Reserve. When the Fed raises interest rates, it’s trying to tamp down inflation by creating job losses: Higher rates mean higher business costs, and businesses lay people off in order to remain profitable. This was the Fed’s strategy when it began hiking rates in spring 2022.

The layoffs, however, refused to materialize. When inflation peaked at 9.1 percent in June 2022, the unemployment rate stood at 3.6 percent. Today, using the same metrics, inflation is just 3.2 percent, and unemployment is at just 3.9 percent. For 12 of the previous 19 months, the jobless rate has held steady at or below its June 2022 level, while inflation has been running below 4 percent since June 2023. Economists are still debating why the Fed’s higher rates didn’t translate into job losses, but the important point is that millions of people were not, in fact, fired. Moreover, millions of people did not need to be fired in order to fix inflation. As Mike Konczal concluded in a report for the Roosevelt Institute in September 2023, the vast majority of inflation during the Biden years was driven by pandemic-related supply problems. Whatever was going wrong in 2022, it wasn’t because you were too rich.

There is some evidence that the economic commentariat is coming to its senses as the 2024 election approaches. Some of the same centrists who ripped Biden’s stimulus package in 2021 are now applauding his recovery. The anti-Biden left has largely abandoned the economic playing field, finding cleaner grounds for criticism on other subjects. Contrary to the narrative abuse directed at Biden over the past few years, the economic numbers across his presidency tell a simple, optimistic story about the art of government in the democratic world. The American economy is strong today for the same reason that the labor market has been strong throughout Biden’s presidency: the U.S. government spent a ton of money to support workers and their families. Biden has not only established a blueprint for successful crisis management, but he has achieved something on the economy that pessimists across the ideological spectrum have been declaring impossible for much of the 21st century: He learned from the government’s prior mistakes and found a way to govern better.


Paul Krugman brings this subject up repeatedly; at first glance today’s column looks like a rerun. Except for reminding people of the answer to a question Ronald Reagan used to ask.

NY Times, Opinion, Paul Krugman, 18 Mar 2024: Why Are Americans Still Down on the Economy?

Are you better off today than you were four years ago? Honestly, I didn’t think Republicans were going to try replaying Ronald Reagan’s famous line, since so much of the G.O.P.’s 2024 strategy depends on a sort of collective amnesia about the last year of Donald Trump’s presidency. Is it really a good idea to remind voters what the spring of 2020 was like?

For it was a terrible time: It was a time of fear, with Covid deaths skyrocketing. It was a time of isolation, with normal social interactions disrupted. It was a time of surging violent crime, perhaps brought on by that social disruption. It was a time of huge job losses, with the unemployment rate hitting 14.8 percent that April. And do you remember the great toilet paper shortage?

Also, when Reagan delivered that line in 1980, things were pretty bad, with 7.5 percent unemployment and 12.6 percent inflation, and the 1979 gas lines were still fresh in memory. Today, unemployment is below 4 percent and inflation is around 3 percent (and probably, despite some noisy recent statistics, still heading down).


Notes from the fringe…


Conservatives are not strong on honesty

AlterNet, Alex Henderson, 19 Mar 2024: ‘Typical Republican hypocrisy’: Lauren Boebert ripped for celebrating bill she voted against

Joe.My.God, 19 Mar 2024: MTG Takes Credit For Airport Project She Voted Against


Boing Boing, Carla Sinclair, 19 Mar 2024: MAGA folks fail basic test, revealing they don’t even know what “America” is (video)

Lots of such videos on Facebook, too.


This is just creepy.

Friendly Atheist, Hemant Mehta, 19 Mar 2024: FOX & Friends promotes Catholic app Hallow with on-air (paid) prayer segment, subtitled “And then the hosts, fully inspired by God, continued to spread more lies”


More about Project 2025, a Christian Nationalist agenda. Its language echos Orwell’s doublespeak.

Salon, Andra Watkins, 19 Mar 2024: Decoding Project 2025’s Christian Nationalist language, subtitled “Evangelicalese allows Trump’s MAGA supporters to hide their extreme positions in plain sight”

This recalls my discussion about how conservatives deny reality and live in a kind of Biblical theme-park reality.

Christian Nationalists are taught to be “in the world but not of it.” This means they are called to live alongside the world’s non-Christians, but they are called to remain separate and apart from secular behavior and influence. One way they attempt to remain apart is with language. They speak in a language I call Evangelicalese. I grew up in the world of Christian Nationalism. Evangelicalese was my second language.

Several examples of what they mean by their bland-sounding policy proposals. For example: banning pornography means locking up anyone who engages in it in any way, including those whom conservatives conflate with pornography, such as homosexuals (Mike Johnson), transgenderism (Tom Woods), or those who display certain  art (David).

They will, of course, never succeed.

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