A Listicle of Liberal Doom


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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67 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Don’t forget the War on Drugs!Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

      This is an interesting read.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

        Especially in contrast to this.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

          As a FYIGM Libertarian, I’ve mostly been paying attention to Radley Balko.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

            You should read more.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

            Balko: More Coloradans voted for pot than for Obama. No matter.We can’t have something as silly as “the will of the people” undermining the might and authority of the federal government.

            Isn’t libertarianism supposed to be a bullwark against the will of the people?

            Really, you should read more.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

              Yeah, Libertarians *HATE* the idea of people liking stuff.

              Hey… *I* hate the idea of people liking stuff but not intensely or anything… Maybe I should switch parties. Which party do you belong to, assuming, of course, that you hate the will of the people to the point where you’re willing to kill them?Report

            • Avatar Elias Isquith in reply to Stillwater says:

              Balko is extremely skilled at emoting outrage and unfathomable moral superiority. He often breaks good stories, too, but you’ve got to cut through all the soap-boxing to see ’em.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Elias Isquith says:


                I think the innocent people he’s helped probably give some amount of depth, despite the fact that he doesn’t share your views on the redistribution of the property of other people.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Jaybird says:

                ‘Better that 10 guilty men go to jail than 1 unionized government worker takes a pay freeze’Report

              • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Elias Isquith says:

                Honestly, with the sort of stories he covers, I’d much rather hear outrage expressed than a sort of cool equanimity.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Rufus F. says:

                I agree with Rufus, even if he does hate me with the power of a million sons.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Elias Isquith says:

                I’ve been thinking about this (well, fever dreaming about it) and I wonder if it isn’t the result of a weird argument similar to Kuznicki’s about charity.

                Balko could be helping *SOOOOO* many people with his journalism. He could be arguing for health care, he could be arguing for “social insurance” (is that particular phrasing a signal that means testing isn’t far behind? “You don’t get a check from Allstate if you don’t crash your car, do you?”), he could be arguing for unions, he could be arguing for so very many Federal Government policies…

                And, instead, he turns his focus on helping *ONE* guy in Mississippi. He attacks *ONE* crooked medical examiner.

                He is the most inefficient journalist ever.

                Is that an accurate summation of what’s going on here or is the fever dream lingering into daylight?Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Jaybird says:

                And The Old Man and the Sea could have been about all fishermen, all whales. Would have at least had some happy endings, ehh?

                /literary communism.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to zic says:

                Or at least about a fisherman that wasn’t a fishing Yankee fan.Report

              • Avatar ThatPirateGuy in reply to Jaybird says:

                I would rather the world have more Radley Balko’s than Ed Sullivan’s, Bill O’reilly’s, and Hannity’s.

                The drug war and other instances of misbehaving law enforcement and criminal justice need focused attention.

                He can hate my economics policies all he wants after that and I’ll still claim him as doing ‘gods’ work.Report

  2. Avatar Shazbot5 says:

    I strongly suspect that the deal on Medicare spending will involve some kind of trigger that kicks the can down the road. I mean, obviously nobody really wants to cut benefits for current seniors, so the cuts will involve future seniors, one way or the other. But I think Obama can say to the Republicans that he recognizes that if Medicare continues to cost more and more, ot will need to be cut. So, he can accept a trigger mechanism that will cut the benefits of future retirees, perhaps by extending the age of entry or other means as well, if and only if Medicare spending goes above X percentage of GDP. The trigger will be different from the R’s preferred plan of changing Medicare now such that future seniors will (trigger or no) have to wait to be 67 to be covered.

    A trigger like that allows Republicans to claim victory that they capped spending and were serious about cutting entitlements (to save the entitlements, as they put it, paradoxically).

    And it allows Obama to claim victory, too. He can say to the right of the party who agree that damage to entitlements must be done that he is serious about the budget and getting healthcare costs under control. But he he can tell the left of the party that future Congresses (including Republicans who need the votes of the elderly) are likely to not allow then current (now future) seniors to have their benefits cut, if it can be prevented at all. (This is absolutely true, IMO.)

    He can also then argue that medicare is only expensive because we pay too much for healthcare in general and that in order to avoid cuts to medicare and future seniors, we need to strengthen the cost cutting measures in the ACA. This is also, true IMO. The only solution to the long-term problem of medicare costs is to make medicine less expensive, which won’t be done just by cutting medicare, and would be worsened by putting more people on the more expensive, less efficient system of private insurance.Report

  3. Avatar Morat20 says:

    Raising the eligibility age just seems…dumb. It can’t possibly save much money (the ‘younger’ years of Medicare are the cheapest), for one.

    Secondly, given what people will pay out of pocket for insurance and the difference in rates between private insurance and Medicare, I can see it easily costing the public MORE to insurance these people than is technically saved.

    The only people saving money on this would be everyone who dies before being old enough to get Medicare.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Morat20 says:

      Rather than up the minimum age, we shold have a cut-off. Sorry, bro, you can’t retire at 65 and live to 95. Then again, I’m on record as planning to cash in my chips by 75.Report

    • Avatar Dan Miller in reply to Morat20 says:

      This is correct–raising the eligibility age is basically the worst way to cut Medicare benefits (here are numbers).Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Morat20 says:

      Raising the age to collect Medicare is particularly unfair (liberal baseline measurement, isn’t it?) to those who actually do physical labor.

      Fisherman, farmers, loggers, mill wrights, mechanics, housekeepers, waiters, cooks; the list goes on and on. They use their bodies, and use them hard. Asking them to work longer, to do more wear and tear?

      Better, I suspect, to develop a means-tested formula the creates a curve for cost sharing. But the same goes for social security, I think.

      And the conversation more crucial to have is the death panels talk; what’s really reasonable to do to extend lives in those last few months? I suspect many people do not realize how barbaric some of our practices are, now. And as a society, I find we’re really ill equipped for those conversations.Report

    • Avatar Just Me in reply to Morat20 says:

      Maybe we should have people’s kids take care of them instead. Didn’t I read somewhere that the birth rate was down in the U.S. Might make it an incentive to have more kids. Plus, maybe then parents would take more of an interest in how their kids turn out…..the more money the kids make the better retirement mom and pop will have.Report

    • Avatar Scott in reply to Morat20 says:


      “The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that if the Medicare eligibility age was increased from 65 to 67, the federal government would save $124.8 billion between 2014 and 2021.”


      I guess that isn’t that much or you just don’t have any idea what you are talking about.Report

      • Avatar ThatPirateGuy in reply to Scott says:

        17 billion a year is rather small. Compare it to the money we spent on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Scott says:

        It would save 17 billion a year out of a budget of over a trillion dollars, and by “savings” I mean “The 65-67 year old set would pay twice as much or more out of pocket”.

        So it doesn’t save money so much as it levies a very, very large tax on the 65-67 set which is then called “savings”.

        I realize this may be difficult for you to understand, but the cheapest people covered by Medicare are the YOUNGEST people. Which means that cutting out the 65-67 set is cutting out the cheapest people Medicare insures, which saves the government very little money.

        Those people then have to actually get insurance on their own, which costs them a LOT more than it does Medicare. In the end, you’ve replaced a cheap method of providing health care with a far more expensive one, and somehow this is a ‘savings’.Report

  4. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    A couple of random thoughts…

    Expect businesses that offer a health insurance benefit to scream. Essentially all such plans currently require employees to sign up for Medicare the instant they turn 65, and Medicare becomes the primary insurer. If the eligibility age is raised, those high-cost employees will continue to get primary coverage from the company instead. All other things being equal, this would drive premiums for the employer higher as some employees who might otherwise retire hang on for another year or two to maintain access to group coverage.

    All things are no longer equal. Beginning in 2014, and assuming the eligibility age has been raised to 67, a 65-year-old without employer coverage will be eligible to buy guaranteed-issue community-rated insurance on her state’s exchange, with premiums capped (IIRC) at a single-digit percentage of household income. How that compares to the individual’s Medicare share will depend on a variety of things. What the employer has to pay if they don’t offer an insurance plan compared to the cost of premiums with more older workers on the payroll will also depend. I would anticipate an acceleration of the trend of employers discontinuing a health insurance benefit.

    It’s a complicated situation. Which is why I oppose any changes to Medicare that are being decided over the course of a few days without an opportunity for the experts to put some numbers on the possibilities. Yeah, we probably need to make changes in Medicare. But let’s take some time to work through the consequences before we decide on what those changes should be.Report

  5. Avatar zic says:

    That photo. Tears ready to break out, “MOM, Barry’s touching me again.”Report

  6. Avatar Kolohe says:

    Strangely missing from either Molly Ball’s or Timothy Noah’s lists is any mention of foreign policy at all; for instance, the possibility of approx 10K troops in Afghanistan after 2014 and more illegal wars a la Libya – both agenda items wholly within President Obama’s grasp.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kolohe says:

      I believe the argument is “there’s an election coming up in 2014, it’s not like the Republicans can be trusted to be any better, don’t give aid and comfort to the other side”.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Kolohe says:

      Her list is supposed to be a comprehensive (?) list of things Democrats ought to feel great disappointment about. I take it the purpose of the article is to show that both sides feel bad about the recent election – and maybe both sides ought to feel equally bad. I don’t know about that for sure, but that’s the vibe I got.

      But I think you’re wrong to assume Democrats will (or even ought to) feel bad about the continuation of certain aspects of our foreign policy. I think most democrats are very pleased with the draw down in Iraq, and very pleased there aren’t more ground troops in Afghanistan even as we continue to fight the WoT. In other words, a continuation of current policy without substantial change isn’t something Democrats will feel bad about. And drone strikes, “kill lists”, etc. aren’t really on the radar.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Stillwater says:

        I thought Ms. Ball’s list was about Progressives and ‘the left riding high’? I grant you that Democrats like the warfare state well enough. (and I stand corrected, Mr. Noah’s list is about cheering *Obama’s Agenda*, and the unitary & powerful executive, not necessarily a Progressive or Liberal (or humanitarian) agenda).Report

  7. Avatar scott says:

    So, when people’s health is endangered or some even die because the eligibility age for Medicare is increased, that isn’t a major betrayal? I remember when Democrats actually thought protecting Medicare and Social Security was an existential issue that defined them as Democrats. I guess those days are over.Report

    • Avatar Murali in reply to scott says:

      Medicare is a bloated program that needs to be wound down and reformed if it is to be sustainable in the long term. It irks me when conservatives who ae supposed to be for reducing entitlements try to demagogue it for political purposes when democrats actually try do what conservatives say must be done. But that is expected. Politicians are wont to do stuff like that. That is the nature of the beast. When conservatives who have no need to demagogue it repeat the same message it makes me wonder whether they are stupid or evil.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Murali says:

        Yet Medicare is cheaper per-person than private insurance. And the ACA was chock full of things designed to drop costs, including the costs of Medicare.

        I’m not sure what sort of ‘reform’ you have in mind for Medicare — any comparison of it’s costs and cost growths compared to private insurance, and Medicare comes off looking darn rosy.

        Except for the Prescription Drug bit — and you don’t need to ‘wind down’ a program to give it the authority to bargain for group discounts.Report

  8. Avatar James Hanley says:

    outlines, the president can still do a whole lot of good (or mitigate the bad) on climate change with some of his Executive powers

    Will it create a firestorm if I say that the cavalier assumption that presidents ought to act in the absence of legislative agreement bothers me?Report

    • 99% of things written about national politics fall into this trap. I really wish I were a guest on Sunday Talk shows just so every time it was my turn to speak, I could sit there and reprimand everyone for failing to understand the proper/actual role of Congress/President.Report

  9. Avatar bradp says:

    It is not a question of whether Elizabeth Warren will become a progressive savior, but a question of when.Report

  10. Avatar Damon says:

    One thing you can count on: politicians kicking the can down the road and the maintenance of the status quo, much to the detriment of the country’s future. Nothing with get solved. Any the debt is still rising. Cuts in the amount of planned increases are not cuts. The amounts to be cut via the cliff per year are negligible. Smoke and mirrors.

    The only way you’re going to get anywhere near substantial cuts are cuts in entitlements, and yes, that means SS and Medicare. Not going to happen.Report

  11. Avatar Don Schuldes says:

    Amazing how this could have been from today and it is still fully relevant. The “facts” liberals think they own. So relevant still!Report