You Ignorant Bastards

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    Feb 15, 2010 3:36 PM GMT
    Everything is your fault.
    And now you've pissed off Newsweek.
    Nice going.

    http://www.newsweek.com/id/233158


    Down With the People
    Who's to blame for the political mess? You.
    By Jacob Weisberg | NEWSWEEK
    Published Feb 5, 2010
    From the magazine issue dated Feb 15, 2010

    In trying to explain our political paralysis, analysts cite President Obama's tactical missteps, the obstinacy of congressional Republicans, rising partisanship in Washington, and the Senate filibuster, which has devolved into a super-majority threshold for important legislation. These are large factors to be sure, but that list neglects what may be the biggest culprit of all: the childishness, ignorance, and growing incoherence of the public at large.

    Anybody who says you can't have it both ways hasn't been spending much time reading opinion polls lately. One year ago, 59 percent of the American public liked the economic stimulus plan, according to Gallup. A few months later, with the economy still deeply mired in recession, a majority of the same size said Obama was spending too much money on it. There's nothing wrong with changing your mind, of course, but polls reflect something more troubling: a country that simultaneously demands and rejects action on unemployment, deficits, health care, and other problems.

    At the root of this contradiction is our national-characterological ambivalence about government. We want Washington and the states to fix our problems. At the same time, we want government to shrink, spend less, and reduce our taxes. We dislike government in the abstract: 67 percent of people favor balancing the budget even when the country is in a recession or a war, according to CNN. But we love government in the particular: even larger majorities oppose the kind of spending cuts that would reduce projected deficits, let alone eliminate them. Nearly half the public wants to cancel Obama's stimulus spending, and a strong majority doesn't want another round of it. But 80-plus percent of people want to extend unemployment benefits and put more money into building roads. Another term for that is stimulus spending.

    Some say that the public is in an angry, populist, tea-partying mood. But a lot more people are watching American Idol than Glenn Beck, and our collective illogic is mostly passive rather than militant. The better explanation is that the public lives in Candyland, where government can tackle the big problems and get out of the way at the same time. In this respect, the whole country is becoming more and more like California, where the state's bonds have dropped to an A- rating (the same level as Libya's) thanks to a referendum system that allows the people to be even more irresponsible than their elected representatives. We like the idea of sacrifices and hard choices in theory. When was the last time we made one?

    The politicians thriving at the moment are those best able to call for the impossible with a straight face. Take Scott Brown, the newly elected senator from Massachusetts. Brown wants government to take in less revenue, has signed a no-new-taxes pledge, and called for an across-the-board tax cut on families and businesses. But Brown doesn't want government to spend less money: he opposes spending cuts of any significance. He says we can lower huge deficits (which his policies would increase) simply by cutting government waste. No sensible person who has spent five minutes looking at the budget thinks that's remotely possible. The charitable interpretation is that Brown embodies the naive optimism of Ronald Reagan. A better explanation is that he is consciously pandering to the public's illusions along with the rest of his Republican colleagues.

    I don't mean to suggest that honesty vs. dishonesty is what divides the two parties. Increasingly, the crucial distinction is between the minority of serious politicians on either side who are prepared to speak frankly about our choices and the majority who indulge the public's delusions. I would put President Obama and his economic team in the first category, along with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Republicans are more indulgent of the public's unrealism in general, but Democrats have spent years fostering their own kinds of denial. Where Republicans encourage myths about taxes, spending, and climate change, Democrats tend to stoke our fantasies about the sustainability of entitlement spending and the cost of social programs.

    Our inability to address long-term challenges makes a strong case that the United States now faces an era of historical decline. To change this story-line, we need to stop blaming the rascals we elect to office, and look instead to ourselves.





  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 15, 2010 3:50 PM GMT
    I tend to agree with this article.
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    Feb 15, 2010 3:53 PM GMT
    Yeah. I agree with it as well. With one caveat: The corporate media does everything in its power to ensure that Americans remains confused and ignorant about anything of import.

    You can literally watch one of the cable news channels for 24 hours and never once learn anything of substance. Instead it's the same three stories over and over again with various talking heads brought on to yell at each other. icon_rolleyes.gif
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    Feb 15, 2010 4:04 PM GMT
    i thought it was all about being inglorious basterds icon_lol.gif
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    Feb 15, 2010 4:20 PM GMT
    "The charitable interpretation is that Brown embodies the naive optimism of Ronald Reagan. A better explanation is that he is consciously pandering to the public's illusions along with the rest of his Republican colleagues."

    ^
    This
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    Feb 15, 2010 6:16 PM GMT
    icon_lol.gif
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    Feb 15, 2010 6:20 PM GMT
    Honestly, I would rather more people watch American Idol then Glenn Beck... that man is insufferable, intolerant, and kind of a jerk off... like I want him to shove his ideology down the throats of the illiterate... NO THANKS!!
  • calibro

    Posts: 8888

    Feb 15, 2010 6:24 PM GMT
    Where's the like button when you need it...
  • dantoujours

    Posts: 378

    Feb 15, 2010 6:49 PM GMT
    You can blame the deficit on the former Republican administrations starting with Reagan. It didn't help that Bush II led this country into two unfunded wars as well as passed Medicare Part D without funding to support it. Medicare Part D is going to blow up in a decade or two.

    Everyone becomes a Keynesian during recessions. The Great Depression of the 1930s was exacerbated because the government cut spending during that recession which then turned into a Depression. It only ended when the government spent enormous money on infrastructure and retooling the economy for WWII. So this time every western government (and the Chinese) had to inject money into our economies in order to keep the same catastrophe from happening again.

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    Feb 15, 2010 7:02 PM GMT
    southbeach - the Obama administration hasn't been spending because of a desire to "grow government and increase government spending". That's just right-wing spin bs, like all the rest of your posts.
    The president has been spending to stimulate the economy and lift it out of the recession he inherited - that was caused by 6 1/2 years of failed Republican economic policies.
    Now that he's lifted the economy out of recession and the economy has started growing again, plans are being made to move forward on deficit reduction policies next year, when the threat of a double-dip recession has passed.
    If that doesn't happen, then you can criticize. But, the spending that's been done in the last year was unavoidable, given the massiveness of the economic disaster he inherited from Bush.
    The worst recession since the Great Depression, which even a year later, 65% of Americans blame on Bush, and only 11% blame on Obama (aka rabid Republicans, like you).