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Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a freelance journalist and blogger. He considers Bob Dylan and Walter Sobchak to be the two great Jewish thinkers of our time; he thinks Kafka was half-right when he said there was hope, "but not for us"; and he can be reached through the twitter via @eliasisquith or via email. The opinions he expresses on the blog and throughout the interwebs are exclusively his own.

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61 Responses

  1. Avatar Roger says:

    Over half of Americans believe in UFO’s. Even more believe evolution is a crock. Most adults are notably ignorant of economics — it is greatly counterintuitive. I wouldn’t imagine looking to survey results of Americans to get input on the economic validity of a political plan.

    Politicians of both sides study the cognitive biases of the electorate and then design programs that reward their affiliated interests while playing to these biases — even when the welfare of the general public is harmed.

    We could debate for hours whether the Democrats or Republicans are the worst at crony capitalism. Let’s just skip the debate and say they are both guilty as charged.

    Personally, I think Romney and Obama are both tools for special interests.Report

    • Avatar Steven Donegal says:

      This is probably true but there isn’t 100% overlap of the special interests.  You get to choose your poison.Report

      • Avatar Roger says:

        I choose to abstain!

        Seriously, that is why politics self amplifies the path to folly. The left doesn’t really trust their own leaders — they just trust them more than the enemy. Same thing on the right. In the end, both political parties THRIVE upon the perceived or real horrible nature of the other side.

        A pox on both their houses!Report

        • Avatar karl says:

          Thank you for not voting.

          Why do you have a problem with a political party thriving because its opponents are horrible?Report

          • Avatar Roger says:

            Yo, Karl,

            Zombie hating Vampires on the left, Vampire hating Zombies on the right. They are both monsters.

            I am serious. The political class always has and always will exploit us for their own power. We need to limit their range and influence. Until we do, they will screw things up and blame the other side. Most will believe them, because they fear Zombies/Vampires (choose 1). See Mike’s posts below. This guy sees things that go bump in the right.Report

        • Avatar Kimmi says:

          man, go join Netroots nation or something. we vet our side (no, that doesn’t mean we were around to vet Teddy Kennedy, but we got Franken in, and despite him being a relatively terrible comedian, he’s a pro at being a Senator)Report

    • Avatar James K says:

      Good point, If the Evil League of Evil commissioned me to sabotage the economy (and I couldn’t use the obvious stuff like abolishing private property), I wouldn’t know where to begin.  I don’t think anyone would.

      That’s why I’m sure the Republicans aren’t sabotaging your economy – they don’t have the faintest idea how.Report

      • Avatar NoPublic says:

        Good point, If the Evil League of Evil commissioned me to sabotage the economy (and I couldn’t use the obvious stuff like abolishing private property), I wouldn’t know where to begin.  I don’t think anyone would.

        Many folks think Ronny Ray-Gun externally caused the Soviet economy to collapse but don’t think our own government could do the same thing to our own economy.  Not that I think you’re in that camp, it’s just a convenient place to hang this out there.  I honestly think the Soviets did themselves in, and so could we.Report

        • Avatar James K says:

          I agree with you.  Reagan might have hastened the inevitable (maybe), but the Soviet Union was undone by its own contradictions.

          Communism is definitely one plausible option for destroying an economy, but it took 70 years for the poison to kill the USSR.Report

          • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

            In what way were the Soviet Union’s own contradictions different from the People’s Republic of China’s contradictions?Report

            • Avatar James Hanley says:

              Pat,

              The PRC contradiction was in making a long slow steady move toward a market-oriented economy while still pretending to be communist.  That seems to work better than the contradictions of actually trying to be communist.

              Also, they were far more willing to gun down their own citizens.  Not sure that’s a contradiction, but I’m sure it has, to date, played a role in the state’s longevity.Report

      • Avatar Mike says:

        It doesn’t take much to sabotage the economy.

        #1 – Block off reforms designed to help the economy. This the Republicans do on the state and national levels.

        #2 – Craft more and more regressive taxation schemes. This denudes the lower classes of more than hand-to-mouth living and paycheck-to-paycheck existences, blocking away the savings required to make substantial purchase (such as houses or automobiles) that can employ others. Republicans have been doing this quite well on the state level especially, and every time they “cut taxes” it’s a far bigger gift to the top few at the expense of the middle class.

        #3 – Convince business owners that their business is “in peril” and can’t afford to hire. If you’ve paid ANY attention to the right-wing noise machine in the past year, this has been a constant theme that they have been hammering. Things are “uncertain” (because the Republicans won’t let anything pass but insist there are massive tax changes ‘about to pass’), the economy is “too dire for anyone to hire” (a self-fulfilling prophecy: if you convince people they can’t afford to hire, even with the immense reserves that have been reported, then they won’t hire), and “everything has to wait until the next election is over.”

        The Republicans – or at least the top few coordinating the party message and the noise machine of Rush, Hannity, Beck, Fox, et al – know precisely what they are doing. And they are remarkably coordinated and on-message about doing it.

        The old “but the conspiracy would have to involve too many people and get noticed” lie doesn’t work. The conspiracy DOES involve many people, it DOES get noticed, the brainwashed right-wingers just refuse to believe it because it doesn’t fit their “Rush Limbaugh is God and librulz are Satan” narrative.Report

        • Avatar Roger says:

          I think my comments show I have disdain for both parties, but I disagree with your commentary, Mike.

          1) There really are contrary views of what is wrong with the economy, and one side is arguing that increasing regulation, mandated health care costs on employment and crony-directed stimulus spending are all steps backward. Feel free to argue these points, but don’t just assume they are based upon evil intent.

          2) The federal income tax schemes of the last 20 years have been getting MORE PROGRESSIVE, not less. The bottom 50% (including me) now pay no income taxes. This isn’t depriving people of buying cars. Zero paid last year, zero this year. Yes, state income taxes tend to be high and comparatively regressive — especially in liberal-run states CA, IL, NY. I do pay state taxes, and the left run state just increased them on me this year. Corporate taxes are higher in the US too. Yes, tax reductions fall primarily on those paying taxes, but mathematically who else will get a reduction? What do you want a smaller zero?

          3) The media does flame opinions. This works both ways though. You are aware of media bias in the other direction too, no?

           Report

          • Avatar Kimmi says:

            ZIRP is in effect. The Austrian school which favors monetary stimulus is under the seats and waiting for the plane to crash. I’m not going to say that Captain Keynes is going to swoop out of nowhere and save the plane, but I think he’s more likely to keep the bugger afloat until we can all run off to Canada.

            (In short, when the Austrians are reduced to arguing about “regulatory uncertainty” — sheer old wives tales in a market that can/does only look 3 months ahead, they’re looking more and more bankrupt by the day)Report

          • Avatar Mike says:

            “The federal income tax schemes…”

            To quote Ronald Reagan, “there you go again.” Federal income tax is less than 20% of the federal tax burden. Income taxes comprise far less than that, even, once you include state tax burdens.

            But like all lying conservatives, you focus and harp only on “federal income tax”, ignoring that the mass of taxation is highly regressive and ever more comprised of static “fees” that hurt far more the bottom line of the poor than the ultra-rich.Report

            • Avatar Roger says:

              Mike,

              I am clearly not a conservative, though that doesn’t absolve me from being a lying harpy, I guess.

              Rather than dismiss me with a label, could you actually just respond to the questions? Seriously, something like…” well Roger you raise a good point, but you are missing the fact that….”

              I think I see where you are going on the tax thing. Are you lashing out at Cain’s flat tax stuff? Or am I just missing your point all together? What fee increases are the right pushing?

              Come on… please give the dialectic a chance.Report

  2. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    A majority of Americans believe that foreign aid is a major expenditure of the US budget = “Americans are stupid or racist, or both!”

    A majority of Americans believe that Republicans are responsible for all the problems = “The country is finally waking up to reality!”Report

    • Avatar b-psycho says:

      Yeah, that is a bit rich.  Partisan blocking of what the other party wants doesn’t inherently mean if the economy continues to suck it’s due entirely to that blocking, it only means that if you automatically assume that what’s being blocked would work.  But not equating such blocking to sabotage is political suicide, so it goes on.

      re: foreign aid: Not much effort is made to correct those kind of misconceptions, at least as far as I can tell.  That said, if someone believes that foreign aid is significant but doesn’t say much unless asked about it, I’m inclined to be more lenient than if someone is making it a key part of their political activism.

      BTW: it’s not that I’m in favor of increasing it, I’m actually not & would much prefer the U.S. not meddle in foreign affairs at all, whether with weapons or money. Still, it’s not too much to expect that if someone insists on being involved they know what they’re talking about.Report

      • Avatar Mike says:

        Thus the Tea Tardier catch-22 in action.

        Problem: what is being done is not working.

        Proposed solution from one side is blocked by the Tea Tardiers. Tea Tardiers insist “but it wouldn’t work anyways.”

        Proposed alternate solution from Tea Tardiers has already been tried in other countries. Uniform result: societal suicide. Tea Tardiers insist “but our solution would work in our case” despite all evidence to country.

        End result: nothing happens. “what is being done” continues to be done even though it is known to not work, because Tea Tardiers would rather have something not work than allow the other side the potential to claim credit should their non-suicidal option improve things.Report

  3. Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

    BHO: Approve: 45.1% Disapprove: 50.4%.  The rest is playing with poll wording: if you can’t win the game, change the rules.

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/other/president_obama_job_approval-1044.html

    Nice to see some attempt at facts mixed in with all the purple partisan prose, though, Mr. Isquith. WD.Report

    • Avatar Mike says:

      Disapprove of Tea Tardier/Retardicans like Tom: 71%.

      It’s fun to cherry-pick poll numbers to “prove your point” isn’t it?Report

      • Avatar Mike says:

        Specifically, in this case, consider the following items:

        – NO politician on the national stage in America, at present, has better than a 50% approval rating save for those who are in heavily partisan “safe districts”, and even those only clear 50% by a few points.

        – Nationally, Republicans cannot clear a 25% approval rating. Simply hasn’t happened in the past 3 months.

        – When you say “50% disapprove” of BHO, you are conflating two different groups of people: the freakish right-wing types who believe the current President is a “kenyan muslim negro” and who still subscribe to those Birther insanities, and the far-left types from the Democrat party who believe that either (a) the administration should simply “ram more things through” (and is not doing so) or that the things the administration passed, didn’t go far enough.

        Taken in total, 45% approval at this time is still 20 more points than the other side has. Eat that.Report

        • Avatar Franz Schubert says:

          Didn’t BHO tell Tim Russert he was a Muslim? And one of the most moving experiences he has ever had in his life was the sound of Muslims being called for prayer at sunrise? Perhaps Bob can be stirred from his studies and weigh in on this subject. If I’m not mistaken, Bob put in the winning amount of $$$ to purchase one of BHO’s Birth Certificates. This one, however, has Obama placed tightly in a basket and tossed in the River Nile to begin his journey to Kenya where he was rescued by his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham AND father, Barrack Hussein Obama Sr. Apparently, three Kenyan astrologers directed them to the precise location when the infant was found, floating calmly down the River Nile. By decree of an underground Pharoah, all Hebrew sons were to be drowned which made it imperative that the toddler, BHO, be placed immediately in the River Nile to be rescued by his parents–this was all the fulfillment of a prophecy. And the rest is history. And, GULP, Robert Cheeks was correct!Report

  4. Avatar MFarmer says:

    This appears to be the strategy since the right is gaining momentum —   Obscurantism          against a demonized Republican Party. Obama is a Wall Street, status quo centrist, nothing extreme, just the run-of-mill Clinton type, but Republicans are worse. Don’t worry about what Obama has said, did or would have done had there been no resistance, and don’t worry that Obama has crippled small business — he’s a market guy like anyone else, only not as bad as whatever Republican opponent he’ll have to face, who talks dirty to the Left just to keep them horny (wink,wink, hang in there progressives). So, there’s no reason to make a change in 2012 — if you’re a moderate or independent, you might as well keep this middle of the road smart guy who is not as bad as a Republican would be. All the time winks are going leftward. Then when Obama has a second term, he removes his moderate clothing and the Progressive is at it again.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

      Betcha it works.Report

      • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

        There’s really no alternative but the all-things-to-all-people well again.  It depends on Romney and who is the emptier suit.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      The 11-dimensional chess argument no longer works.

      Obama is what he’s been since 2009.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi says:

      … crippled small business?

      What part of a free market requires a fair and level playing field are we failing to understand now? How much extra does GM pay its employees/gov’t for health care versus Nissan? (here’s a hint: enough that they were full press on the health care act)Report

    • Avatar Kimmi says:

      you assume the progressive libertarians are deluded. in my opinion, they aren’t. they’re just glad to see the civil servants getting back to doing their jobs.Report

  5. Avatar Scott says:

    Of course Barry and his ilk have been blaming Repubs as it is all they have left b/c they won’t accept responsibility and they know that many foolish Americans will believe them.  After all enough folks bought the “Hope and Change”  BS.Report

    • Avatar Mike says:

      Almost the same as how Retardicans like you buy the BS fed to them from the teat of Rush, Hannity, and Fox.

      Step out of the echo chamber for a little while and expose yourself to reality, please.Report

      • Avatar Scott says:

        Mike:

        Which reality is that?  The one where four years after taking office Barry is still blaming Bush? How pathetic is that?  Sorry, it is not an echo chamber but the truth.  Actually, I get most of my news from National Public Radio, the NYT, the WSJ and Drudge.Report

        • Avatar Mike says:

          And next you’re going to offer to sell me some oceanfront Kansas real estate dirt cheap…Report

        • Avatar Kimmi says:

          nu? you should read “the mess that greenspan made” more thoroughly. Why blame the frontman?Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

          Which reality is that?  The one where four years after taking office Barry is still blaming Bush? How pathetic is that?

          If the GOP wins the Presidental election, how long after Romney takes office will you no longer use the phrase, “He’s fixing the mess Barry left behind!”?

          Plant your stake in the ground.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            We’re still trying to deal with the mess Jefferson left when he made the Louisiana Purchase.Report

          • Avatar Scott says:

            Pat:

            Nice job avoiding the point. Sure everyone blames their predecessor but not four years later. At some point the bad economy is Barry’s fault and they have to grow up and take responsibility. If Romney wins and is blaming Barry four years later, I will criticize him as well.Report

            • Avatar joey jo jo shabadoo jr. says:

              At some point it becomes expedient to ignore cause and effect to pimp your narrative.Report

            • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

              Just answer the question, Scott.  That can’t be all that hard, can it?

              I want you on record.  I think that’s an eminently fair request.  If “time since taking office” is a measure by which one can judge a Presidency, I want to know what you consider to be a reasonable measure of “T”.Report

              • Avatar Scot says:

                Pat:

                Do you have reading comprehension issues?  I already said, “If Romney wins and is blaming Barry four years later, I will criticize him as well.”  Why don’t you tell me, when should Barry take responsibility for his handling of the economy, 2, 4, 6, 8 years or never?Report

              • Avatar Scott says:

                Pat:

                Still no response?Report

  6. Avatar joey jo jo shabadoo jr. says:

    who dares to raise broder’s corpse with cries of “both sides do it”?  its a gigantic tell.Report