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October 31, 2006

Comments

"Now, with nothing but a very long fence and the gutting of our Constitution to show for their last Congressional session..."

Now, now, be fair.

I don't think they have actually built that fence yet.

I think if I was pro-life, I could see myself supporting the tactics of the Republican leadership. I wouldn't be proud of my support, but I could see myself doing it. After all, this must seem like a once-in-a-lifetime chance to abortion opponents: in the next two years, Bush might get to appoint the judge that reverses Roe, but to do that he'll need a Senate that's controlled by his party. So if I thought a fetus was a person and that abortion was murder, I'd be willing to swallow a lot to keep Allen and co. in power. Just a thought.

I consider myself pro-life, though I'm not sure what public policy regarding abortion, if any, I'd support (besides, of course, increasing quantity and quality of education [none of this abstinence-only BS] and access to birth control -- how do goverment-subsidized condoms sound?) and I most certainly don't support the tactics of the current Republican leadership. Then again, I'm pretty much a bleeding heart in every other way.

Even before my conversion to the evil lib side, I always knew that there was little to no chance of Roe being overturned, and the results if it did could be disastrous. It makes no sense to be a one-issue voter on this issue, any more than it bears any connection to reality to vote only for people who oppose gay marriage, thinking "One Man, One Woman" will get written into the constitution. Most of the issues that get the Republican base fired up are issues that can't be solved the way they'd like them to be. Then again, I'm sure Republican leadership is 100% aware of this fact.

I consider myself pro life, in the literal sense rather than the political movement sense, so of course I'm pro women having access to safe, legal abortion, since otherwise women die.

If one is against abortion, rather than being pro-life, it would make no sense at all to support a political party whose policies tend to increase rather than decrease abortions.

If, however, one is fervently opposed to women having the right to make decisions about our own bodies, fervently opposed to equal civil rights for LGBT people, and fervently white-supremacist (or any combination of the three) it makes perfect sense to support the Republican Party, and there's no contradiction at all: support for these three policies meshes perfectly with lack of concern for how people below whatever income level is under your radar will survive, and lack of concern for six hundred thousand foreigners killed in Iraq.

It's really not a "single issue" vote, if you're pro-life in the sense of the political movement: it's a multiplicity of issues and prejudices, misogyny, homophobia, racism, and of course class-based/income-related issues (since the wealthier you are, the less likely prejudicial legislation will affect you).

It IS the rank and file. No politician
does anything, says anything, or thinks anything that their constituents do not demand of them. Do not look at the storyteller. Look at the audience.

Frank: No politician does anything, says anything, or thinks anything that their constituents do not demand of them.

This is neither true of the good or of the bad, you know. And especially not in the US, where it's damned hard to get incumbents out of office. ;-)

None of this is directed at you.

I would never think otherwise, any more than I would expect you to take it personally if I went off on Kerry or Hillary, or mentioned that I think Bill Maher is an utter idiot.

Did something in particular prompt this post? Just curious…


No politician does anything, says anything, or thinks anything that their constituents do not demand of them.

Not so. If you look around, you will find plenty of extremely angry Republicans. The GOP’s biggest danger in one week is that enough of us are angry enough with the party to just sit this one out. There are a large number of Republicans who feel that the party needs to be taught a lesson, and getting spanked next week might be the best thing to happen.

I will vote, because it is a privilege I will always exercise. But I will be holding my nose as I do so.

Apocalyptic teleology of ex-President Democratic Jimmy Carter presents greater threat to the secular WASP Protestant United States than al Qaeda or Osama Ben Laden.

well, yeah. of course. duh.

GWB: "However they put it, the Democrat approach in Iraq comes down to this: The terrorists win and America loses,"

Hear hear, Mr. President, hear hear. For too long we have let these traitors run loose in our midst, sowing defeat and discord, confusion and contempt, sapping our will to victory. I therefore demand the immediate arrest and imprisonment of the Democratic Party leadership, as well as the rank-and-file. Registered Democrats should, to the extent possible, also be rounded up and thrown in jail, including those in the military. Furthermore, I demand that martial law be declared with a sundown to sunup curfew to ensure those registered Republicans who seem to have gone off the reservation cannot conspire in darkness to give the terrorist victory. Finally, I demand that next Tuesday's elections be suspended indefinitely until the Democratic Party and the conspiring RINOs have been, in a word, neutralized.

Help us George W. Bush, you're our only hope.

I'd just like to thank Kalki Gaur for that refreshing dose of insanity (not to mention verbosity). We don't get enough of that here at ObWi.

The Guar bot is making the rounds - hit Kevin Drum earlier in the night, I know.

none of this is directed at you

Well, of course not: this is hilzoy, after all: at least when she articulates a political position or critique, we know it's going to be A) well-written and articulate; and B) not personal.

However, not all commentators come up to the hilzovical standard: Here's a charming little lovenote that IS "directed at you": (via Josh Marshall)

Friends, neighbors, and countrymen of the Left: I hate your lying guts

Just another hateful screed of the sort I have seen on various blogs for years now: what struck me as notable about it was that the author (who is suffering a massive case of projection, in my armchair analysis) was a former White House speechwriter. Nice to know there ARE people out there who WILL make it personal, and who will happy to put words in the President's mouth for it. Sad.

I think it's really, really important to try not to make it any harder than it has to be for us to get over this. And that means: trying to treat one another with the kind of decency and concern and generosity that citizens ought to show one another as a matter of course. This doesn't mean not advocating our positions passionately, but it does mean not doing anything that needlessly contributes to the general level of hatred.

Somebody watched BSG's latest. Or it could be one of those times when two or more things are in phase, also known as coincidence.

I don't take any of it personally anymore, regardless, except those occasional cries to have me dumped out the nearest airlock; those are hard to ignore.

I've never been a fan of The Fence, though. As a first measure, it skips merrily by things that ought to have been done and still ought to be done; politically, though, it's just about perfect: you don't actually have to arrest anyone (notionally, anyway). If Bush played his cards right, he could manipulate Mexico into building a fence along their southern border, but I doubt that's going to happen in the next couple of years.

I think early voting is still available; my choices are:

1) Whoever's opposing Ric Keller, primarily to oust the incumbent. Although I've got to say that somehow Charlie Stuart has managed to keep his family business out of the picture, which is sheer genius.

2) Bill Nelson, because although I'm of a mind to oust the incumbent, his opponent is just Not Right In The Head. My father-in-law met Bill when he was in high school (they're roughly the same age) and he finds Nelson insufferable now as he was then. I don't care. If there was a viable third party, I'd go that way.

3) Charlie Crist for governor. Jim Davis just isn't the guy for the job, although he's a sight better than his primary opponent was. Crist isn't exactly stellar, either, so it's hold my nose and pull the lever on this one.

4) Coin flip for AG. Both candidates are pathetic.

5) Alex Sink for state CFO. Mike Thomas has this one right.

I'm inclined to vote for the 60% majority requirement for (state) Constitutional amendments, although I'm open to the possibility that this won't slow down the flow of silly amendments. My only reservation here is this is one of those things that will be harder to undo then it was to do.

That is all. If I have time this afternoon, I'm going to go beat the election-day rush.

I'm also inclined

OCSteve: I will vote, because it is a privilege I will always exercise. But I will be holding my nose as I do so.

In places where all votes - including spoiled ballots - are counted, one can effectively vote against all candidates by deliberately spoiling your ballot. (I consider it a monstrous attack on democracy that the UK no longer announces the number of spoiled ballots cast in an election, though electoral officials of course count them: I think that there should be a rule that if there are more spoiled ballots than actual votes for any one candidate, the election is declared a non-event and has to be run again, with none of the candidates who stood for the previous election allowed to stand again.)

Your comment (as was presumably intentional) leaves it unclear whether you will be holding your nose because you're voting for the Democratic candidate, or holding your nose because you're voting for torture, tearing up the Constitution, imperial executive powers, and an end to democracy in the US. ;-)

Hmmm...I guess I don't know where that last sentence was going. Downhill, possibly.

GWAR-bot?

By the way, OCSteve, I'm delighted to find we do at least have one thing in common: I also regard voting as a privilege that every citizen should exercise. (My great-aunt was one of the first women to vote on equal terms with men in the UK, and although she knew perfectly well my political sympathies were about as far from hers as you could get and still both be mainstream, she was always emphatic that I should vote, never mind who I voted for.)

Guar-bot?

Your comment (as was presumably intentional) leaves it unclear whether you will be holding your nose because you're voting for the Democratic candidate, or holding your nose because you're voting for torture, tearing up the Constitution, imperial executive powers, and an end to democracy in the US. ;-)

A couple of weeks ago in local elections I voted D across the board. The fact that there were no Republicans running does have something to do with that :)

For state delegate I will be voting D (local guy, my old mayor).

For Maryland's First District, I haven’t yet decided. I don’t like Gilchrest’s votes for that monstrous Medicare Prescription Drug Bill, and against some military benefits. OTOH Corwin would be fresh blood in DC and that is very tempting. Leaning D.

For Senate, I will be voting for the guy who was just endorsed by prominent PG county Democrats. No holding my nose, I like him.

The holding my nose part is due to what you would likely consider aiding and abetting “an end to democracy in the US” by voting for a Republican Senator. I like Steel but I am skeptical about helping the GOP retain the Senate.

In the end I am likely to assist the Democrats in taking back the House, while leaving the Republicans in control of the Senate.

The bot is gone. Take that, bot.

What prompted this was a number of stories yesterday, crying out for sarcastic treatment, and me thinking: I've written an awful lot of that lately. Also, reading the speechwriter's screed and thinking: there's the real problem, right there.

Er, Steele that is.

What prompted this was a number of stories yesterday, crying out for sarcastic treatment, and me thinking: I've written an awful lot of that lately.

Well, I covered the sarcasm angle up at 7:22am.

Sincerely,

Ugh
Registered Republican
Not a RINO
Desparately Trying to Stay Out of Jail

About what made me write this: something that didn't prompt it, but is often there in the back of my mind, is this: I think it's easy, in political struggles of various kinds, to be very short-term, often in ways that are disastrous for he long-term health and governability of one's country/people/whatever. This struck me a lot in Israel, where right next door in Lebanon, the PLO had had control of refugee camps for quite a while, and had used that time not to e.g. educate kids, but to train them with RPGs etc. And I remember thinking: what is supposed to happen to these kids if the Palestinians ever get a state? Are they supposed to suddenly forget about being able to boss people around and intimidate them with great big weapons? I think not.

It has always seemed to me that the political movements I admire most -- for instance, Gandhi's, and the civil rights movement -- operated in such a way as to combine political effectiveness with an attempt to make their people better, not worse, at being full citizens -- who didn't sacrifice long-term governability for short-term gains. (I should say: by 'governability' I don't mean 'the ability to be led' or any such paternalistic thing; I mean the ability to accept decisions made by a majority, even when you don't like them, and things like that, which are part of democratic self-governance.)

And I always thought: this sort of choice doesn't just crop up in huge dramatic struggles like the Indian struggle for independence. It's present all the time, though in much less dramatic form. And thus it's always worth bearing in mind.

What moved it from 'being borne in mind' to 'being written about' was, as I said, the thought: gee, I've spent an awful lot of time cataloging the follies of Republicans lately; I should say this. Plus my own temptations to yield to rancor.

OCSteve, I apologize for making you feel you should outline how you're voting/who you're voting for. My comment was sarcastic (the smiley was intended to convey that) and did not require or deserve a serious and measured response.

OCSteve, I apologize for making you feel you should outline how you're voting/who you're voting for. My comment was sarcastic (the smiley was intended to convey that) and did not require or deserve a serious and measured response.

No apology required. Obviously I did not have to respond if I did not want to. I could have ignored it or replied NOYB.

It surprises me when people of one political stripe or another won’t actually discuss who they plan to vote for.

Anyway, maybe it is useful for folks here to know that I don’t just blindly pull the big R lever. Maybe not :)

Slarti: GWAR is so '90s, man. Have some Hurra Torpedo. (Fair warning: this is one of the funniest videos I have ever seen, but not everyone is up to a rendition of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" on instruments like stove doors and washer lids being banged around.)

More seriously: Hilzoy, great reasoning, and a great post to go wtih it. I am really struggling very hard these days not to succumb either to rage or despair, and everything that gives me a good reminder of why I'm keeping up the struggle helps a lot.

I think the truth lies somewhere between hilzoy's "it's all the fault of a few bad apples at the very top" and Frank Wilhoit's "it's the electorate, stupid".

Maybe exactly halfway between, maybe a little closer to Frank. If anything, I think the Bush Administration is a moderating influence on its more fanatical boosters, some of whom have may have turned against it because it isn't fanatical enough.

And it's not like the Bush Administration's very worst blunders didn't have the enthusiastic support of many self-described moderates at first. Bush is just channeling our country's worst impulses, but those impulses are never buried very deeply.

As for rancor, there hasn't been enough anger aimed in the right direction in American politics. Not nearly enough.

But I am willing to accept that you might not win elections spouting the kind of thing I'm writing here. Only Republicans seem to be able to win with anger, in part because only liberal anger gets labelled as shrill.

my district is pretty safely D already. i'm pretty sure my vote isn't going to make a difference - but maybe i can help push some judges over the top, if i can remember which i'm supposed to vote for (since they aren't affiliated with a party).

Or put another way, there's something endearing, but ridiculous about hilzoy agonizing over the possibility that she is too rancorous. Maybe she has to do that to keep from scaring away Republicans who might be offended by harsh criticism of people like Limbaugh, but after literally decades of Republican shrieking, that seems a trifle oversensitive. But yeah, no doubt you have to take the delicate sensibilities of Republican voters into account.

Hilzoy, I appreciate the distinction between the Republican Party and Republicans, even though not everyone does. A case could very well be made, and possibly agreed to by OCSteve, that the Republican Party has been hijacked by a radical elemnet (not necessarily right wingers) who have distorted and corrupted the basic philosophy of what used to be the Party.

I think most Repblicans still hold with the old philosophies and would like to see tht become more in play.

Unfortunately, like many Democrats, they will vote based on party, and much of this is due to the demonization of the "enemy".

In many ways this started with the Democrats approach to Goldwater (the famous mushroom cloud ad) and then was accelerated by the Republicans, partially under Nixon but more prominantly under Reagan.

As pointed out upthread, there are 2 basic types of negative ads. The first attacks an opponents stands (sometimes exaggerating those stands and sometimes outright lying about those stands). Examples abound in the Chicago area, articularly in the Bean-McSweeney and the Duckworth-Roskam races.

To her credit, Duckworth has not come out with a negative ad although the DCCC has. Roskam, however, has paid for ads that come right out and lie about Duckworth's position on things. And it is very hard to overcome a lie.

The second type are the character assassination ads, such as the anti-Ford ads and others you mention. These really do nothing to promote the political discourse and, not surprisingly are dominated by the Republicans. I am not saying no Democrats use them, because I am sure examples can be found.

However, just like the amount of corruption in Congress, although not all Democrats are pure, the ratio is heavily weighted towards the Republican side.

I think OCSteve understands that the only way for the rank and file Republicans to regain control of their party is for a major defeat of those currently in power, followed by a mutiny in the ranks. That would require some honest introspection, which may or may not be forthcoming.

Hilzoy, I'm sorry but this (the criminals and thugs that run the Republican party) has everything in the world to do with those that still vote Republican. For crying out loud these are close races that might be won by Republican thugs: Allen, Talent, Mean Jean, Pombo, Sali, Kleeb's opponent, Fawcett's opponent, Tauner's opponent, Kuhl, Musgrove, Bachmann, Duckworth's opponent. These are races where the thugs are expected to win: Tancred, Hasket, Reynolds. Those are just the races I can think of off the top of my head. Given thhe choice between a reasonable, accomplished responsible Democrat and a mean, stupid, corrupt religious fanatic or thug, the Republican voters are overwhelmingly voting for the latter. It does reflect on the values and patriotism of people who make such irresponisble choices. Note I'm not talking about differeces in policy preferences here. There's no point. The Republicans aren't running on policies; they can't afford to. The common theme in every race that I mentioned is the the Republican is running on character assasination and smears and the Democrat is running on ordinary mainstream policies. The Republican voters are choosing the dirty campaigner who dares not mention the issues over the Democrat who expresses mainstream policies. That, too, reflects on the character and citizenship of those Republican voters.
Also, the Republican party has not been hijacked by a small gang of thugs. It's politicians at the national level are almost universally thugs. It's a BIG gang. And it isn't the first time. The Republican party has been thhe party of robber barons, white collar crimminals and thugs since the Gilded Age, through thhe Red Scare of the twenties, through Tea Pot Dome and thhe Johnson County War, through the horror and dismay at FDR's reforms, through thhe Red Scare of the fifites, through Watergate and the Iran/Contra scandal, through Atwater's leadership, up to now. Nothinng about the current party is new or different except the component of religious extremism.
I know that the politie fiction, for the sake of polite conversation, is supposed to be maintained that Republicans and Democrats have different perspectives on issues which can be discussed civilly. Well not in this election. The Republicans can't with any degree of intellctual honesty defend their politicians' behavior on any issue. Nor can they with any degree of intellectual honesty argue that any of the Democrats running in the close races will be worse. That however isn't stopping Republican voters for voting for them. Tribalism is triumphing over good citizenship inn the hearst of too many Republican voters and that makes them squarley responisble for the thuggery of their party.

The funniest thing about Lt. Gov. Steele is his ad where he says that Cardin won't change the lobbying culture in Washington, but he will. By voting for Mitch McConnell for majority leader, I presume?

In a Senate with a 1 or 2 seat Republican majority, Steele will vote against the leadership exactly none of the time.

I wish those Black Democrats in PG would spend a minute thinking about how they'd like to see a news story from Memphis, featuring some prominent white Democrats, saying that they've decided to support Corker because the Democratic party has too many Black candidates. They are responding to the lose by Mfume by supporting the guy who disagrees with him on most issues, rather than the guy who agrees with him.

Of course, Rep. Cardin ought to spend the next 4 days in PG, and bring our Lt. Gov. nominee along with him.

Hilzoy,
While I understand and appreciate the distinction you are drawing, I have to disagree with the 'blanket amnesty' to all rank and file conservatives. Limbaugh has 10 to 20 million listeners a week, and I don't remember seeing any of them repudiate his slanders. Coulter sells hundreds of thousands of books to people who know full well what they are buying. 30-something percent still support GWB today, knowing that every single thing he's done has been done poorly. Those individuals are also culpable.

I actually have some sympathy for the paleo-cons who thought the Repubs were going to bring them balanced budgets, reduced national debt, smaller federal government, fewer overseas military adventures, less intrusive federal government domestically, and a foreign policy that was less 'grandiose' than Clinton's was (in their view). Those really WERE let down. But if they 'hold their noses' and still vote GOP, then they've made their choice.

And I'd hope to hear Rep. Cardin reminding voters that Steele's voting record, should he get to the US Senate, will be indistinguishable from Trent Lott's. Because it will, and any winks and nods intended to convey the contrary are simply misdirection.

it's a note I should probably append to many of my comments.

When I inveigh against "Republicans", what I have in mind is the leadership. Not the next door neighbor I grew up with, not the widow of the cop we used to live next to, not my first boss (and second, come to think of it, and fourth as well--yeesh). Not, chances are, you who are reading this (you ain't Alberto G., are you?)

In a democracy, the citizens as a whole bear a corporate responsibility for their government. In a party system, party members bear some sort of corporate responsibility for the actions of their party.

But it's hard to make the case on an individual basis that this person, merely in virtue of registering for/voting for this party, is responsible for its worst excesses.

Ignorance exculpates. I object to some of the provisions of the Patriot Act exactly because they make it possible for an innocent citizen's unwitting actions to incriminate them, if those actions constitute some sort of aid or support for a terrorist organization. The granny who thinks she is helping starving orphans.

Some supporters of the Republican Party seem to me to be roughly in this position: they simply have no idea what is being done in their name, with their votes, with their support.

And of course I have sometimes registered as a Democrat in the past. I don't feel much allegiance to it--I'm not sure many Democrats do, which is part of what I like about it--but I have given it my support over the years. And the party bosses in my party have a few acts to their name that I would not want to be held responsible for.

I'm not trying to be even-handed here, god forbid: even at its Tip O'Neill worst, the Democratic leadership was never the swamp of thuggish, corrupt, power-mad criminality that the Rove/Bush/DeLay combine has brought to D.C.

My point is simply that party members cannot be held responsible for all of the things that party leaders do, even though it is true at the same time that responsibility in some formal sense is diffused over the corporate body of members.

Connected to this--I have to travel overseas now and then. And I always thank my lucky stars that the people I talk with, who launch into tirades against the atrocities committed by our national leaders do not seem to understand this facet of democracy: that in some sense, I am responsible for it all, too. Either because they assume that Americans are powerless subjects as they are, or because they are too polite, they never blame me personally for the appalling blunders that my country makes.

I'd like to extend the same courtesy to people who, for whatever reason, find themselves affiliated with the Republican Party.

To be clear: I do not think that the Republican party is in no way, shape or form a reflection on the people who vote for it. Obviously, given a very different base, it would be a very different party.

What I meant to say was just that my criticisms are aimed at the people they mention, not everyone. Any criticisms I might have of the Republican electorate would be different, since I don't think that the flaws of the leadership are the same as the flaws of the electorate.

I think there are people who cheer Rush Limbaugh on, and I don't care for them. I think there are also people who vote Republican because some parts of Limbaugh-ism have gotten to be part of the atmosphere they breathe, and so they think something like: well, these guys are corrupt, etc., but at least they aren't liberals (where what this imaginary person thinks liberals are like owes a lot to the assumptions taken for granted in his or her environment, and these owe a lot to the caricature of liberals that's out there.)

I mean: if I got all my information about liberals from talk radio, I'd hate us too. It's easier for me to discount it, what with actually being a liberal, and therefore being able to check the accuracy of that caricature without leaving my living room, but if I lived in a very conservative environment, I might well think: well, Rush is over the top and needlessly vicious, but that doesn't mean I feel easy about voting for weak-kneed whiners who think that there is no such thing as morality and that all of us are victims who need to be taken care of by the government and that America is absolutely the worst country on earth and should be destroyed from within.

Maybe this hypothetical person is more judicious, and rejects part of the caricature, but doesn't see how much of it is caricature, in sort of the same way that, when one of my colleagues tried to slander me, there were people whose instinctive reaction was: well, sure he's over the top, but where there's smoke there's fire... -- and didn't stop to think: either hilzoy is a dishonorable person or X is just making stuff up. There is no alternative. (In that case, there wasn't.) -- There are lots of people who do not stop to think thoughts like that, and let smear campaigns taint the people they're directed against to some extent, without thinking.

I imagine there are a lot of people who find it hard to imagine voting for liberals for some such reason. I think they are wrong, and that this reflects a flaw in them -- allowing other people's honor to be impugned in one's own mind without checking first, and also being inadequately informed. But it's a pretty common flaw, and entirely different from the criticisms I'd direct at the leadership of the Republican party.

I think it's always important to bear in mind that people who read blogs -- decent blogs, at least -- are, in virtue of that fact, a lot better informed about politics than most other people. The GOP leadership is engaged in a pretty systematic campaign to smear Democrats, and if a person doesn't follow these things closely enough to catch not just the fact of Arcuri's PHONE SEX CALL!!! but also the fact that it was one minute long, followed by a call to the same number with a different area code, and thus that his explanation that it was a wrong number (dialed by one of his aides in any case, an aide who confirms the story) -- if someone isn't following it that closely, they will be misled. That's what the people who make these ads are counting on.

Not being informed enough about politics is, again, quite different from the faults of those who want to play on that lack of information. (One of the things that bugs me about people who make these sorts of ads is that they are, essentially, doing their part to make it impossible to know what's going on without being a political junky. They are, essentially, raising the level of informed-ness needed to be a responsible citizen. It's like a tax on all of our time and energy, imho.)

Shorter me: sure, the electorate has faults (on both sides), but they are not always the same faults I criticize, so my criticisms of Limbaugh should be read as criticisms of him specifically.

Oops: in that last comment, after "thus that his explanation that it was a wrong number (dialed by one of his aides in any case, an aide who confirms the story)", add "was probably true".

One of the things that bugs me about people who make these sorts of ads is that they are, essentially, doing their part to make it impossible to know what's going on without being a political junky.

i'd say that's an intentional side-effect.

The GOP leadership is engaged in a pretty systematic campaign to smear Democrats

Robert Bork

Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, children could not be taught about evolution.

John Roberts

Our review of even the limited available parts of his record has raised serious concerns about his role in the early 1980’s in seeking to weaken voting rights, roll back women’s rights, and impede our progress toward a more equal nation.


Sam Alito

And when I look at that record in light of his 1985 job application to the Reagan Justice Department, it is even more troubling. That document lays out an ideological agenda that highlights his pride in belonging to an alumni group at Princeton that opposed the admission of women and proposed to curb the admission of racial minorities. It proclaims his legal opinion that the Constitution does not protect the right of women to make their own reproductive decisions. It expresses outright hostility to the basic principle of one person, one vote, affirmed by the Supreme Court as essential to ensuring that all Americans have a voice in their government.

Clarence Thomas...
Hmm, no Kennedy quote handy here, but I do remember Justice Thomas being accused generally of being a philanderer, just not by Senator Kennedy for some reason.

Fact is, Republicans have been called racists and mysoginists and thugs for years and years now. It's a standard M.O.

Happy Halloween, and if you want to dress up as a real monster, go as a Republican Supreme Court nominee.

I think OCSteve understands that the only way for the rank and file Republicans to regain control of their party is for a major defeat of those currently in power, followed by a mutiny in the ranks.

That’s fairly accurate. Most of the Republicans I know feel this way to a certain extent. Mostly we’re sick and tired of the corruption, the pandering to the extremists, and spending money like a drunken sailor on shore leave. There is a real feeling that this bunch simply does not deserve to win. We haven’t all reached John Cole’s level – but I don’t think there will be that many tears shed if we get thrashed next week.

Frankly – what good is a majority when you manage to do exactly nothing that the people who put you in office expected you to do?

What I want more than anything is term limits and a viable third party. Oh yeah, and a pony…

"Our review of even the limited available parts of his record has raised serious concerns about his role in the early 1980’s in seeking to weaken voting rights, roll back women’s rights, and impede our progress toward a more equal nation."

Can you believe the vicious, rabid, red-meat rhetoric on display in this post?

Isn't it appalling how it advances claims that are unsubstantiated by anything except a review of the limited parts of his record available?

Yes, this is clearly on a par with spreading rumors that your political opponents are child-molestors, claiming that they are phone-sex perverts, claiming that multiple amputee war-veterans are really cowards, and the rest of the Rove playbook.

Man. Always good to be reminded why even-handedness is irrelevant to the current political context.

Republicans can't with any degree of intellctual honesty defend their politicians' behavior on any issue.

I always envy this degree of certainty. I'm not sure if it because I have slowly moved away from the Republicans over my adult life, or just a character flaw, but having determined that I was wrong previously, I find it difficult to turn around and announce certainty in other areas.

yeah, I thought lily was being a bit absolute myself.

I'd rephrase to
"with any *measurable* degree of intellectual honesty, to within the accuracy of the instrument"
and
"behavior on *99.4%* of the issues that they have put in play this season".

Because, I agree that we should avoid pronouncements of certainty. It's important to make allowances for the human frailty to which we are all vulnerable.

In my comments, which sometimes blast over the top, if I call Limbaugh a bunch of awful names, please know that Limbaugh is not "every Republican". And certainly not any of the front-page posters or commenters here. Or, at least, I try to judge one individual at a time (Erick the Red), rather than generalizing.

Sometimes I fail.

Limbaugh knows precisely what he is doing. He can take personal responsibility for it, but won't. Plus, he is a public figure.

That said, I disagree with Hilzoy's characterization that Limbaugh was "making fun" of Fox. Don Rickles "makes fun". Aristotle and Johnny Carson must have explained somewhere the difference between Rickles and Limbaugh.

I think something much worse is going on here, whether Limbaugh's (and other talk-radio/blogging blowhards) targets are Parkinson's sufferers, gays, lesbians, feminists, Arabs, Iraqi torture victims, liberals, Democrats, poor blacks, etc.

I think there is a revulsion he feels in his gut toward all of these groups. And I believe it is a fundamental, poisonous revulsion something along the lines of the revulsion that the young Adolph Hitler carried with him as he walked through the streets of Austria observing the "Other", a pure hate.

Ayn Rand describes a similar revulsion, in "The Virtues of Selfishness" I believe, toward the indigent over whom she might have to step in the gutter.

That Limbaugh is permitted to spew this revulsion and encourage it among the population across the land without challenge in a locked broadcast studio, without the benefit of a guest with differing opinions, hearing only his own voice through the headphones, is ...... what?

It is the venue of a coward. And a bully. And he should be called out on it every waking hour of the rest of his miserable, pathetic life, which I hope is long and its every medical need attended by a vibrant, well-funded Medicare paid for by numerous taxes on his and my income.

But the rest of us get to have drinks afterwards. And we can discuss why it doesn't make me feel at all comforted that rank-and-file Republicans are voting against their leadership because the leadership didn't give the country a good ENOUGH rogering since 1994. Give me back my Beast! ;)

P.S. And that goes for all of you, especially DaveC.!! ;)

Your willingness to compromise leaves me speechless.

That was for Kid Bitzer, btw.

I knew you couldn't have meant me! ;)

if you want to dress up as a real monster, go as a Republican Supreme Court nominee.

Oh my goodness, this is a wonderful idea. There don't seem to be any Supreme Court Justice Halloween masks on the market, so I'd have to wing it. Hmm.

Thanks for this hilzoy. The Republican leadership has made me soooo angry (I... hated... them... so... much... it... it... the... it... the... flames... flames... flames... on the side of my face...) that I'm actually hoping for a Democratic Party win in the House. (I'm not willing to give up the Senate until another 2 years of judges get appointed, but if we got a one vote majority either way I wouldn't be angry).

Split government often leads to deadlock. I'm not convinced of the positive value of the general Democratic Party plan such as it is. I am convinced of the negative value of the general Republican Party plan such as it is. So deadlock looks great.

Fact is, Republicans have been called racists and mysoginists and thugs for years and years now. It's a standard M.O.

And if you bother to read their national platform, or the Texas Republican Platform you'll observe that it's an accurate description.

I see and understand what you're saying, hilzoy, but I think that -- vis-a-vis your prior post on trust and accountability -- you're letting rank-and-file Republicans off a little easy.

This "group of corrupt and venal thugs" would have been powerless to do any of the things they've done had the rank-and-file not dutifully shuffled to the polls to elect them, either because they genuinely supported their goals -- goals which, let's face it, have not exactly been hidden from view given who the movers and shakers in the GOP have been since, oh, 1980 or so -- or because they let themselves be led by the same "OMFG homos and communists terrorists" stupidity they've been led by for years.

In 2000, maybe -- maybe -- they could still have genuinely claimed ignorance about the party's aims. Even after eight years of well-funded attempts to derail the Clinton White House, and all that that entailed. But in 2004? No way. Somebody is responsible for putting these people in office. It isn't you, and it isn't me, and we both know who it actually is.

And they must be held accountable. Why should the people who pulled the R lever for the past six years be off the hook? There are really three choices:

1. They absolutely supported every goal and every action of the Bush White House from 2000 - 2004.
2. They supported some small subset of goals and actions such that they stuff they didn't support was not sufficient to turn them off.
3. They were, in a phrase that the GOP itself likes to toss around so frequently, useful idiots, led to pull the trigger on nonsensical "values" issues or out of a hyped up sense of fear.

How they're held accountable is a matter of opinion, but that they must be made accountable is not a matter up for debate. I think repeated public castigation and mockery is a very good start.

I realize that "Nobody could have known that . . . " is now the preferred meme of the Bush administration, but I don't think the people who put them in office should be permitted to get away with it.

BullseyeRooster has a funny take on this... what if commercials for everyday products used the same tactics that political ads did?

Rush Limbaugh doesn't exist as a media personality without an audience. That audience is overwhelmingly Republican. And where does a Dick Cheney or a Denny Hastert go to explain the latest GOP scandal to the base?

The GOP electorate has had nearly a dozen years to assess the results of GOP leadership in Congress. To say the GOP voter had no idea what Republicans would or wouldn't do in office is absurd.

I'm sorry, I just can't buy into the idea the GOP Party is divorced from the GOP Voter.

Hilzoy, Ken Silverstein has an article about Obama in the new Harper's that you'd be interested in reading (not online). KS discusses some of the pushback from Obama on his blog.

How they're held accountable is a matter of opinion

Phil, you're welcome to come on over and try to toss me out the airlock, if that's what you have in mind. Otherwise, wake me up when you think you're done with the castigation.

As I see it, the Republican party has been hijacked by a group of corrupt and venal thugs. They have abused the trust of their supporters, and gone a fair way towards wrecking their party. * * *
But this is all the political leadership of the Republican Party. It has nothing to do with ordinary rank and file Republicans, most of whom are, I assume, decent people with conservative opinions.

Nice sentiment, but the distinction unfortunately breaks down. Large segments of the followers support the leadership despite rampant evidence of venality.

Yes -- saying ugly things about the leadership is not accusing the rank and file of having those faults. But at some point, continuing to support venal leadership requires some level of accountability by the rank and file.

We live in highly partisan times not because some faction of Republicans have highjacked the party, but because they represent a majority view of Republicans. Even the discontent will still "hold their noses" and vote for them. There is no significant movement in the Republican party to push back against the leadership.

The rancor is not so much the manipulative byproduct of venal leadership -- it is how they got into power because it appeals to their base. They openly refer to the situation as a culture war, and many of those decent conservative folks embrace that warlike attitude. And people who continue to support them, even though they do not themselves hold such rancouress feelings, nonetheless have made the decision to go along with it.

I would posit that to a significant degree, Democratic Party losses in recent years have been due to a failure to fight such fire with some equal measure of passion. Unfortunately, there is no polite pleasant way to fight back against such poison.

When someone is just full of crap, you have to say so. In a polite way, of course.

Noted that Slarti doesn't think that any of his past votes for Republicans at the national level actually put them in office and empowered them to do anything. Moving on.

In fact, conservative readers and commenters here are getting off the hook even more easily, because they were probably in a better position to understand that the 24/7 caricature hilzoy describes was baloney, and they behaved as if it were true anyway. And then expect people not to have noticed.

Sebastian is a perfect example of my #2, above- he knows he can expect more if the same in a 2006-08 Republican Senate, but will take the gamble in hopes of getting one more anti-abortion justice on the Supreme Court.

Noted that Slarti doesn't think that any of his past votes for Republicans at the national level actually put them in office and empowered them to do anything.

Actually, the odds are pretty good he's right. Given the number of ballots cast, it's unlikely Slart's was the deciding one.

you're welcome to come on over and try to toss me out the airlock, if that's what you have in mind. Otherwise, wake me up when you think you're done with the castigation.

Funny how suggesting that you should be accountable for votes cast for venal leadership constitutes "castigation." Probably explains why you keep voting for them.

From my point of view, we have both already been thrown out of the airlock by Republican leadership, and something needs to be done about it. Wish you would pay attention to that.

"A lot of people make jokes about spacing somebody, about shoving somebody out an airlock. I don't think it's funny."

Dr. Stephen Franklin, Babylon 5

If you're going to shove someone out of an airlock, don't you have to be in there with them?

I was too absolute. I was about half way through revising and proofreading when I noticed the time, jumped into my clothes, and shot out the door. So this revision: the Republicans I am blaming (and I am not revising that) are the ones that are going out to vote for jingoists, criminals and fanatics in this particular election. Also,I can't think of an idea about which the Republican party has a reasonable stance, but that doesn't mean such an idea doesn't exist. Lastly, there are places and races where some very interesting things are happening: Fawcett's GOTV organization is headed by a Republican Air Force officer, the Kleeb campaign is holding bi-partisan fundraisers and getting significant Republican support, and Sali has many vocal Republican opponents. I hope the Democrats in Congress will behave in such a way as to reward the voters of either party that voted for them. I hope a Democratic House will address the issues Nancy Pelosi has raised, especially paygo and lobbying reform. I am more than a little worried that there are enough bad Democrats (like Cuellar, Wynn, Hoyer) that her efforts will be stalled or watered down, which would be a betrayal not only of people like me but also people who voted Democratic this election hoping for more responsible government.

Actually, the odds are pretty good he's right. Given the number of ballots cast, it's unlikely Slart's was the deciding one.

How do you mean? Even if you think of the ballots being counted as they are cast (which isn't a meaningful way to describe how elections work, in my opinion) you would have to consider every vote up to the deciding vote as contributing to the win. For the odds to be better that your vote is an excess vote than a needed vote, the margin would have to be greater than 33% (assuming a two-way race and discounting abstentions). The "deciding vote" is only so because of chance. Barring a 1-vote margin, were it discounted, another vote would be the "deciding vote". However, were all the votes counted prior to that vote discounted, the results of the election would, in most cases, be changed.

And I think it's conceptually wrong to think of an individual vote as either necessary or superfluous in the first place. Rather it makes more sense to me to consider the fraction of your vote that contributed to a win as proportionate to the ratio of the losing tally to the total combined vote.

Hilzoy, one Republican-at-heart to another, I think you're quite right about both the leadership of the party and the mental state of the nation.

Of course, a plea of insanity, however temporary, doesn't bring the murder victim back from the dead.

I, too, want comity. But I also want those who have committed crimes held to strict account. I've been a law 'n' order type my whole life and I'm too old to change.

"Sebastian is a perfect example of my #2, above- he knows he can expect more if the same in a 2006-08 Republican Senate, but will take the gamble in hopes of getting one more anti-abortion justice on the Supreme Court."

Kind of. My loathing of what passes as liberal jurisprudence comes from long before 2000 and is much deeper than the Supreme Court (it may be dramatically colored by the fact that I live under the grip of the ridiculous 9th Circuit as well). I wouldn't mind another Supreme Court Justice, but I'm really hoping for a good 15-20 Circuit Judges.

If you want to, you can chalk it up to another evil of Roe v. Wade and 'jurisprudence' under similar theories that I feel strongly enough to still hope for a Republican Senate despite my extreme dissatisfaction with them overall. In reality my vote won't change a thing in that calculus--I'm in California where the Senators are going to be Democrats and I'm voting for a Democrat in the House race.

Some supporters of the Republican Party seem to me to be roughly in this position: they simply have no idea what is being done in their name, with their votes, with their support.

I think this is true to. The GOP has done a great job shilding their supporters from reality. Between talk radio and Fox News the GOP can, as Bush would say, "Catapult the propaganda" essentially loft their lies in a uncritical environment.

With Rush Hannity et al you have to realize that this is sometimes the only political news in rural areas. Also the demonization of liberals and other critical voices is now completely done via impeachment (in the legal sense) rather than substantive argument.

When was the last time you heard a substantive response to O'Neill, Clarke, or any of the mirad others who persent their case against BushCo? Instead - and I think we can all chant in chorus now - the GOP propaganda machine sends out the word - they are promoting a book, disgruntled former employee, they donated to a democrat, their part of liberal acedemia. Thus they never have to enagage the arguments and their supporters can put to nasty bad facts to one side knowing that the persopn has been discretited, and thus his arguments have no merit.

Of course there are events that cannot be easily explained away - like Katrina - and when the scales fall people begin to look askance at everything that comes afterward. I call this 'the John Cole effect' For him it was the Schiavo debacle. During that time I wrote him a little email saying: You may think that this was just a one off deal and the GOP will return to normal now but no you're through the looking glass and it's just beginning a year some now you're going to be even more pissed. And sure enough a year and half later he is in good high dudgeon.

Nice sentiment, but the distinction unfortunately breaks down. Large segments of the followers support the leadership despite rampant evidence of venality.

I would contend that I have seen as much and sometimes more ire heaped on the Republican leadership on rightwing sites as I have on leftwing sites. There is a large swath of conservative voters who are furious at the leadership. I don’t find much support for them anywhere. Frist has been pilloried for his inability to get judges through. McCain gets more heat from the right regarding McCain-Feingold than Feingold does. In straw polls for 08 McCain doesn’t cut it. Who is the favorite? Giuliani – hardly a hardcore conservative. Specter is lambasted on a regular basis. The first calls for Hasert to step down (that I saw) came from the right. Their pandering to the religious right, their inability to get anything done even while holding the majority, and the corruption and scandals make many of us mad enough to turn them out.

Many Republicans are so furious at the leadership they are sitting out this election, actively conceding the House and possibly the Senate, even if they are not voting D. I have a friend who has never skipped an election in his life. He is staying home Tuesday. He won’t vote D, but he can’t bring himself to vote R this time around.

So there is a significant faction that wants very much to clean house. The irony though, is that we’re mad at them for eschewing conservative values. So if we are successful, you are only going to dislike us more!

Dammit. This should've posted last night but was apparently nabbed by my recent infestation of Internet Connectivity Gremlins. Reconstructed, it ran roughly thus:

I think it's really, really important to try not to make it any harder than it has to be for us to get over this. And that means: trying to treat one another with the kind of decency and concern and generosity that citizens ought to show one another as a matter of course.

To reiterate what I've said a number of times, what is equally, if not more, important is to dismantle the corrupt political machine and to destroy the perceived legitimacy of the ideology it serves, much as was done with McCarthyism subsequent to McCarthy's fall. [Modern recidivism notwithstanding.] I certainly agree that one should, all other things being equal, be decent, kind and generous to one's fellow citizens -- but I also believe that these manners should be subordinate to the larger goal of making sure that this kind of madness never happens again.

Noted that Slarti doesn't think that any of his past votes for Republicans at the national level actually put them in office and empowered them to do anything. Moving on.

Noted that Phil's mindreading power isn't much better than mine. I've got no problem at all taking responsibility for my vote. To paraphrase another Phil, I own it.

If you're going to shove someone out of an airlock, don't you have to be in there with them?

Lots of ways around this. First, and least useful: you could suicide to make sure the other guy dies, too. Second: you knock him out, stuff him in the lock, and cycle. Third: wear a suit, drag the guy in, and cycle.

Dr. Stephen Franklin, Babylon 5

Or, more recently: BSG.

So there is a significant faction that wants very much to clean house.

With respect, I disagree. There's a significant faction that wants to purge the party of what it perceives as ideological impurities (viz. Frist on judges and innumerable other "he's not a True ScotsConservative" trope), yes; I don't see a significant call within the rank-and-file to clean the party up, by which I would include: removing corrupt party officials; ostracizing those who demonize (often to the point of eliminationism) the party's political opponents; returning to science/fact-based policies; and the other things which one would usually consider to be hallmarks of a "clean", rather than a "purged", party.

Lex, and everyone: I am fine with holding some people to account: the Republican leadership, for instance, and their hangers-on (Limbaugh et al, Goldberg et al, Norquist et al, et al.)

I am also fine with saying that people's voting choices reflect on them. Of course they do.

Personally, I also believe that citizenship entails responsibilities, and that one of these is to be informed. This is, of course, easy for me to say: I'm good at research, know the basics (e.g., I don't have to start learning economics right this instant, from scratch); I basically got handed being informed on a silver platter, and have needed only to maintain it. Be that as it may, however, citizenship has obligations, and a lot of people don't meet them.

There are two problems with using this as a reason for widespread blame, though. The first is that not everyone believes this. And this is a bipartisan problem: Democrats have been reluctant to talk about civic responsibility, I suspect because they think that if they do, someone will immediately start using this as another 2x4 with which to beat the poor and disenfranchised about the head.

Regardless, the fact that most people do not think that civic responsibility entails being pretty seriously informed means that holding people to that standard is more complicated than it would be otherwise -- in ways that have something to do with the complexities attending passing judgment on antebellum slaveholders. You want to say that what they did was wrong, but also leave some room for the thought: it's a lot easier for me to see now than it was for them; they (well for some values of 'they' -- slaveholders living in times and places in which the morality of slaveholding was not seriously contested) would have to figure out how to extricate themselves from a whole mass of beliefs that everyone around them accepted, and conclude that large chunks of that mass were just wrong, all alone.

Or, shorter version: slaveholding is a different thing when everyone around you takes it for granted that it's OK than it would be now; and if I, living in present-day Baltimore, set out to acquire some slaves of my very own, it would indicate something very different about my character than it would have had I set out to do the same thing in South Carolina in 1760. (Moral standards don't vary; it's just that me now and me then are not doing the same thing.)

And likewise here, though in a less extreme version. It's a different matter to fail to recognize, all by yourself, that you have a set of responsibilities than it is to recognize them and fail to meet them. So the fact that most people differ from me about civic responsibility matters.

But the second problem is just that it's really hard to meet our responsibilities as citizens. We need to know a lot, and, as I said above, every misleading ad, and every person who presents him- or herself as an expert and then lies, makes it that much harder. (That's why I deeply, deeply hate political ads that flat-out lie: they are aiding and abetting this process, and they are completely undemocratic.)

Blogs help a lot, I think: we are collectively better at getting relevant details, recalling germane comparisons, putting things in context, etc., than any of us is alone. But not everyone reads blogs.

So are we all going to advocate exacting some sort of vengeance on, say, some accountant who is working long hours, trying to make time for her family, trying to keep the family finances together and support her husband who might or might not get laid off any day, trying in all the ways we all do to hold a life together, and as a result doesn't know much more about the candidates than she gets from the odd snippet of news and talk radio? Personally, I'd rather spare my anger, which is considerable, for the people who have made it incredibly difficult for people like her to know what's going on.

I include among these legitimate targets of my anger people who write for blogs or newspapers, since I think that in writing for public consumption, you assume a responsibility to shed light and help out, not to spread confusion and darken counsel. But I have a lot of sympathy for ordinary people who can't figure out what's going on, and I don't have the slightest desire to pile on them.

second to last para: 'save', not 'spare', my anger.

I believe that moderate/sane Republicans that "sit this one out" hoping it will "teach their party for a lesson" are in for quite a shock. First, the circular logic employed by the "red-meat" base, any loss will be taken as a sign that the part simply wasn't "conservative enough".

And due to Rove's successful "frothing up" of this large constuency, and their willingness to vote early, those far right-wingers will ensure that the during the next set of primaries an even farther-to-the-right set of candidates moves on to the general elections.

Ideological certainty based on religious faith has a self-sustaining quality to it, despite any practical short-term (this world) losses.

And, unfortunately, sitting out just implies you can be ignored (since if you're not voting with us you're voting against us) to people who aren't as calculating as Rove.

I don't know if there is a solution, other than voting for Democrats until such time when you've prevented the radicals in your party from hijacking your agenda. Any votes for Republicans in the mean time mean further support for everything you're supposedly against.

Hey, Bruce, re: Hurra Torpedo. I live in Norway. My wife's brother is good friends with one of the "percussionists" and the other one is Norway's resident disgusto-comedian, Christopher Schau. Schau is the leader of the band The C*mshots, which was made famous last year for performing at the Qvart festival while having two people having actual intercourse on stage.

I've seen that Hurra Torpedo video dozens of times on TV here. It is a true Norwegian classic.

This post positively screams for a taking it outside thread with the subject of "are republicans evil or merely mislead?" with a "dubious dichotomy?" classification;)

I was reminded of the book "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds" when hilzoy mentioned the McCarthy era. I suspect much of it applies today.

"are republicans evil or merely mislead?"

Well, as long as no one's begging the question...

Hilzoy, I can see not being angry with that hypothetical accountant, but I suspect that a great many Republican voters do have the time to listen to the kind of news they trust. There's a problem in ethics for you, I suppose, but I think people are at least partially responsible if they refuse to read or listen to sources of information that they've already decided can't be trusted. (That would apply to me as well, in some alternate universe where Fox News is fair and balanced and I refuse to listen to it, as I do here.) A friend of mine has an entire family like that--nothing that he cites from the NYT has any influence on them, because it appeared in the NYT. These are educated, affluent people, like a great many Republican voters.

OSCSteve, . The problem the Republicans party has is that Republican can't win in most places if they run on conservative ideas. Most Americans like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Most Americans want help of some sort for the problem of high health insurance premiums. Most Americans don't think that running the economy to serve rich people has any kind of trickledown benefit for everyone else. Most Americans want strong environmental laws. Most Americans want government interventions in the economy if the intervention is of benefit to their local area. Most Americans want federal government help for things that seem unsolvable at the state or local level. As a matter of fact, most Americans want government help for things they can't accomplish on their own like financing a college education. And so on.
The conservative philosophy is simply out of touch with what most Americans, including most Republicans, want. No one can get elected by openly, directly, and clearly stating conservative philosophy and honestly expressing how that philosophy could be transformed into policy. How many farm state Republicans are against crop subsidies? How many Republicans are running for office on a reform Social Security plank? How many REpublicans are telling their constituents that the tax cuts for the rich will increase the state and local taxes or force the loss of state and local services which the Republicans doesn't think are the responsibility of government? That's why the pattern for Republicans has been, for decades, to talk about free enterprise and individual responsibility in a blah, blah, blah theoritical way while supporting whatever government social programs were popular in their own districts and while getting votes through fear or scapegoating or essentially false issues like the manufactured term limits ploy of a while back.
In other words I don't think returning the party to true conservatives will help clean up the party, because if the true conservatives go around discussing true conservative ideas and how those ideas could be put into effect, they won't get elected in most places. If the Republicans want to be a party with support outside of a few thinktanks they have to have a constituency. And that leads them right back to the people they have traditionally served: those with lots of money. And it also leads them right back to the problem of how to get the votes of those without money which means going right back to various forms of pandering to people's worst instincts.
In other words the failings of the Republican party are features, not bugs. The ideal conservative priciples will never be taken seriously by more than a very few Republican politicians because they can't get elelcted on that basis.

"The problem the Republicans party has is that Republican can't win in most places if they run on conservative ideas. Most Americans like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid."

I know this is turning into a thread about everything, and this won't help, but oh well. A huge problem with American politics is that lots of people (more than 50%) want lots of social programs AND lots of people (well over 50%) want noticeably lower taxes. Unfortunately the number of people who realize and vote as if increased programs means increased expenditures and increased taxes seems to be less than 50%.

You see this in the long-running debate about the Bush tax cuts. The cuts caused a deep deficit when not accompanied by similar spending cuts. Cutting taxes is only one side of the equation. Republicans who talk about the tax cuts as a good thing are pandering to the 50%+ people who want lower taxes.

On the Democratic Party side you hear condemnation of the tax cuts as if reversing them would allow spending on new and exciting social benefits. That isn't true. Reversing them doesn't even get us back to even on the old and boring social benefits. New and exciting social benefits will tend to require large tax hikes on top of the reversal of the tax cuts. This rhetorical strategy panders to the 50+% of people who want new benefits without paying for them.

The party out power tends to use "fiscal responsibility" rhetoric to try to damage the pandering capability of the other party (When out of power, Democrats attack tax cutting on the basis of fiscal responsibility while Republicans when out of power attack new spending on the basis of fiscal responsibility.)

Very, very few US politicians escape this basic mold.

I promised to be nice and positive on this blog for a while, until the Democrats lose, or a while longer if they win something.

That leaves me with so very very little to say.

Ezra Klein remarks on how quiet it seems this week. There is an exhaustion, a recuperation...a rest in the eye of the hurricane. Ideas and themes lose salience at campaign's end, all that is left is blood, toil, sweat...and tears. I think hope is gone, fear disappears, it just becomes the body pushing itself out of momentum. This is for all the envelope-stuffers and phone-bank workers.

Where did I read this? Who knows.

"Most people try to do what's right. That's the damn tragedy of the race."

Andrew: Actually, the odds are pretty good he's right. Given the number of ballots cast, it's unlikely Slart's was the deciding one.

If you're going to approach it like that, it's likely that no particular ballot was "the deciding one." So if we subtract all the votes that were not "the deciding one," it turns out that nobody is responsible for this clown show. Yay! Math has saved us all!

Slarti: I know you have resigned your commission dumped your Republican registration -- and I have defended you on that basis in the past -- so it's pretty likely that you were not in the group of people I was positing deserve castigation and mockery. (They know who they are, I'm sure -- even now they're lining themselves up to pull a turnaround worthy of Bill Cosby's kids when he gave them the chocolate cake they demanded for breakfast.) So there's that.

On the other hand, when you throw a rock at a pack of dogs, the one that barks is the one who got hit, so whatever.

The party out power tends to use "fiscal responsibility" rhetoric to try to damage the pandering capability of the other party (When out of power, Democrats attack tax cutting on the basis of fiscal responsibility while Republicans when out of power attack new spending on the basis of fiscal responsibility.)

Very, very few US politicians escape this basic mold.

There's some truth here. However, who's been registering the deficits and who's been registering the surpluses?

Just trying to lighten the mood a bit, Phil.

Andrew: the peas are wonderful - and so fresh!
;-)

Well I probably didn't write clearly to be understood. I think it is characteristic for Republicans to sell tax cuts to their voters without ever discussing realistically the effects the cuts will have and I think this has been going on for at least since Nixon. Back in the day the line usually went that we could afford tax cuts if we got the bums off welfare. meanwhile gazillionns were spent on every pork barrel plan that had a lobbyist. The reality was that Republicans were opposed to social spending for other people but not for themselves. Now Republicans talk about the importance of tax cuts as if the cuts had the magic ability to create a vibrant booming economy--there isn't any open conversation about deliberately creating a crisis that would force the end of farms subsidies and so on. Eitherr way the tax cuts arre presented dishonestly. Democrats today and during the Clinton administration were not guilty of proposing expensive new programs with no way to pay for them. The expensive poverty programs which are the origin of the meme about Democrats wasting money could have been paid for if Congress had been willing to raise taxes during the Viet Nam war.

The problem the Republicans party has is that Republican can't win in most places if they run on conservative ideas.

As I said:
So if we are successful, you are only going to dislike us more!

Of course, you know, I can take this entire comment, replace ‘conservative’ with ‘liberal’, and your policies with mine, and it comes out the same. I do not disagree. Everyone has to move to the center to actually get elected. If Hillary runs on her true stripes in 08 she is toast. She will appear to be more rightwing than McCain by this time next year. Bet me :)

You see this in the long-running debate about the Bush tax cuts.

Err, checked the economy lately? Which debate is that?

A good thread folks. Thanks Hil.

OK – one more…

Now Republicans talk about the importance of tax cuts as if the cuts had the magic ability to create a vibrant booming economy

Tax cuts = more revenue. It has been true forever. It was true during RR’s time, and it is true, right now, today. Krugman may disagree. Look around…

Tax cuts = more revenue

OK, this is true for some values of X, but it is not universal. Otherwise, we could simply cut taxes to zero and be rolling in cash. (I'll grant you that the private sector would probably get quite a bump from cutting all tax rates to zero, but we've got enough problems with deficit spending now without cutting all taxes.) I think that there's probably a near-optimum level of taxes, but to suggest that cutting taxes will always raise revenues doesn't pass the smell test.

OCSteve: the original Laffer curve, iirc, went like this: if tax rates are zero, then (as Andrew said) revenues are zero. If tax rates are 100%, then (again) tax rates are zero, since all economic activity grinds to a halt. Presently, tax rates are somewhere between 0 and 100%, and revenues are not zero.

What made the GOP (a couple of decades ago) latch onto this was that it showed that there were -- there had to be -- some tax rates such that cutting taxes would make revenue increase -- say, the step from 100% to 99% of taxable whatever. By the same token, though, there has to be some tax rates such that raising taxes will cause tax revenues to increase.

The trick, of course, is figuring out where we are on the curve. Most economists I've read think that at anything like our present rates, tax cuts lower revenues, compared to what they would have been without the tax cuts.

(This is probably obvious, but just in case: if you look at the figures, you'll see revenues going up. There are two things that make this happen, tax cuts or no tax cuts: inflation, and the growth of the economy. What matters is whether the economy grows (a) more than it would have without the tax cuts, and (if so) (b) by enough to compensate for the fact that having cut tax rates, you're collecting a smaller percentage of each dollar.)

Didn't Laffer also say that it was wrong? I was trying to find it on Google, but this came up.

A good economic thread would be a nice relief from what this week holds. I thought I would never say this, but now I get all nostaligic for people arguing over economics.

"A good economic thread would be a nice relief from what this week holds. I thought I would never say this, but now I get all nostaligic for people arguing over economics"

*Points, does Invasion-of-the-Body-Snatchers-style scream*

Well, the other point about "tax cuts = more revenue" is why would conservatives want government to have more revenue?

Seems like conservatives would want taxes raised to intolerable levels, thus shutting off government's revenue, close the resulting unfunded government, and THEN get rid of taxes.

Where is that napkin on which I write down all of my major theories? Damn, she threw it away again!!

Hell, JakeB, to let you know how low I've sunk, I'd be happy to have those wine importation posts that was over on Volokh a while ago. It got so bad, it had lawyers saying 'For the love of God, stop'.

I don’t just blindly pull the big R lever.

I can't decide whether I find that reassuring or reprehensible. ;-) Also, sorry to disappear the other day after asking for cites. I did eventually follow the links later and (naturally) have more to say, but I didn't really feel like pursuing it at that point.

Third: wear a suit, drag the guy in, and cycle.

Just make sure you're tied down to something when you do...

tax cuts = more revenue

Martin Gardner did (years ago) a debunking of the Laffer curve in Scientific American. (I thought I had seen copies online but I couldn't find one just now, so no cites :) IIRC it was something along the lines that the actual shape of the curve is stochastic anyway. So not only can you never know where you are on the curve, you can't even know what the curve looks like for your particular set of economic circumstances.

Amusingly, or sadly, or both, this">http://www.huppi.com/kangaroo/L-taxcollections.htm&e=14905&ei=qvJHRZmCMa74aPuS8JEH&usg=__DKLCwLblxTXvvbsEDSA_AD6_-mQ=">this page from Steve Kangas ranks high in google.

Gardner's Laffer curve was a scribble that almost filled the entire 2-D space, iirc. But yeah, the point was it depended on so many conditions it was a useless tool for prediction (or anything else).

Tax cuts = more revenue. It has been true forever.

Um. From 1935-1963, the top US marginal income tax rate rose from 63% to 91%(!). Over that same time period, receipts from Federal individual income taxes rose from $520 million annually to more than $48 billion. Just for the record.

The trick, of course, is figuring out where we are on the curve.

Slarti's unprovable conjecture: it doesn't matter where we are on the curve, because we don't know if there's one clear maximum or several roughly equal local maxima, or even if the curve stays the same size and shape as the economy changes.

I have never, ever seen so much as a guess of what the Laffer curve looks like. Any minute, though, Brad DeLong may happen by and give us an artist's rendition.

Over that same time period, receipts from Federal individual income taxes rose from $520 million annually to more than $48 billion. Just for the record.

Now, Phil, surely there may have been one or two other variables that are worthy of consideration in that period? Like population, per-capita GDP and suchlike?

With no snark, at all, intended toward hilzoy, who I consider, sincerely, to be the soul of comity:

When Democrats hold some of the levers of power again, "civility" and "bipartisanship" will be the new black. "Let's come together" will be the byword. It will be "a time for healing".

"Mistakes were made".

I can hear it now, can't you?

Thanks -

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