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September 06, 2011

Comments

I'm not informed about Japanese politics, but the Lofgren essay is a finger pointing to a naked king. The GOP "descent into madness" is the current analogue to a time in the Twenties when the KKK took over a large segment of US politics via the Democrats. The outcome is not yet clear but my instinct is that the boil will have to come to a bigger head before it can be lanced. And even then healing will be measured in years, not months. And it might take a generation.

Meantime, a looming global economic disaster remains unresolved and the characters on stage are barely able to remember their lines, much less keep from tripping over the furniture. It's worse than sad. It's tragic.

I had to copy and paste that article into Word. Was the 30-character column width really necessary? Asked rhetorically, of course.

The Republican Party has to destroy itself as a national force. Then the Democrats can split (again) and we might get an actual left party out of it. (If the right branch of the Democrats call themselves "the Republican Party," fine, but the name may be too tainted by then.)

The hopeful fact is that the Republicans' worst, most bigoted elements skew old; the Tea Party may have some young members but it is decidedly not a youth movement. That limits how violent it can get, and also means it'll burn itself out demographically even if nothing else gets better. But that process will take a couple of decades.

There's also a contingent of sort of middle-class quasi-libertarian types about my age, early forties, who we'll be stuck with for a long time. But they may change their tune about rugged individualism as they age into the too-old-to-get-hired-and-too-young-to-retire gap. And they're not really into racial/cultural super-conservatism.

It's a slow process, though, and our politics are going to be really dysfunctional in the meantime.

The 2010 elections were crucial, and redistricting is going to make it even harder than it was before to make these people go away. But we have to make them go away, not hope that they just die off. Maybe it's too late, but we really need to fight, not watch the country go die like a sickening snuff film.

Clearly, a lot of us here will go to the polls and do our duty in that way. But it might take more than that. I hope we figure out what that "more" is really soon.

It's tempting to look at Matt McIrvin's comment (the first paragraph) and talk about what the country will look like after the Republican Party destroys itself. It's a lot more pleasant to skip the part about the fascist years. I'm afraid they're not going to destroy themselves though, not in my lifetime or maybe the next generation's. As russell says, they have the money. Once fascists have power, they don't go away without a fight.

Maybe it's time to take those sons of bitches out.

I guess my comment above could be seen as not helping with this, but I'm seeing a *lot* of vivid death imagery in recent political blog comments over the past few days.

I'm not sure it's so helpful: there are well-known psychological results to the effect that concentrating on death makes people's political impulses more authoritarian and tribalistic.

What I was trying to do, couched in more positive terms, is point out that the young today are actually pretty damn progressive. I'm not talking about some eternal verity here; this *wasn't the case* when I was a teenager. The Eighties conservative movement had a lot of youth support. Those kids are all fogies my age now.

Now the problem in the short- to medium-term is that the young don't vote a lot. They especially don't vote in midterm elections, which is a large part of what happened in 2010. But you can sometimes get them to turn out a bit in presidential elections, which is a large part of what happened in 2008.

I see the *movement* to elect Obama as a very hopeful thing beyond the personal characteristics of Barack Obama. Those people are still out there, and they will only get more powerful as they get older. Part of what has to happen is to use that fact to move the frame of acceptable discourse.

...So, for instance, a lot of what I've been doing lately is looking for instances in which American self-described liberal Democrats are thinking about economics in ways that basically fall into right-wing categories--calling for austerity and spending cuts, for instance--and trying to move their intuitions a little.

I think a large part of the weakness of modern progressivism is that right-wingers basically own the whole acceptable mainstream frame of conversation about money, taxes and spending, etc., so that Paul Krugman sounds like a radical when he talks about things that used to be common knowledge. This isn't a new thing; it's been going on since the 1980s. It isn't going to change because people supported some candidate or other; we have to change thinking from the bottom up. And it's sensible to start with the people who are already sympathetic.

I'm not trying to foment civil war. I hope that you're right about the mobilization of young people to the polls in 2012. What I'm worried about it that there's not sufficient enthusiasm to get them there. That's our first fight. But just like any gun battle, it requires strategy, discipline and participation.

"Maybe it's time to take those sons of bitches out." Of power? Yes.

What I'm worried about it that there's not sufficient enthusiasm to get them there. That's our first fight. But just like any gun battle, it requires strategy, discipline and participation.

Of course there's little enthusiasm. As Matt points out, younger citizens are broadly progressive. The Democratic Party... isn't. It's all well and good to talk about having the discipline to hold your nose and vote for a center-right technocrat because he's the lesser of two evils, but that's no way to generate enthusiasm. Telling people they have literally no choice but to compromise their principles just to participate generates resignation and a sense of marginalized insignificance rather than enthusiasm and a sense of meaningful participation...

Ultimately, it is yet proof positive that democracy indeed is the hardest form of governance because in its optimum form it requires the most out of ordinary people.
Unfortunately, the ordinary people of the United States have proven themselves to be the most put-upon and callow.

What needs to happen, in addition to what I have adduced before here and in the creaky windmills of my own mind, is that Americans need to re-connect the solid social progress that has been most conspicuously made in terms of the mainstreaming of gays to a sense of economic progress; there is something seriously un-wired between the head and the ass when we can accept gay marriage, but somehow look the other way with a CEO making 500-odd-times what an entry-level worker makes. There was a time when we were all for worker rights and a decent salary that could keep us in at least a regular change of underwear and Pabst Blue Ribbon, yet balked at the idea of gays having the right to be, well, gay. Now, we've gone the other way.

So if the bottom-up is the only meaningful direction, then we have to start with the fact that we permitted this state of affairs in the first place. Geert Hofstede had the last word: the top gets its strength from the bottom. The cultural mandarins, the religious quacks, and the political sadists never have the platforms they have if it were not for those the bottom permit them to have.

I do not advocate violence, but I'm still waiting for the day when a corporate boardroom gets raided mid-meeting by a band of people sufficiently pissed-off enough to treat them with the utter contempt they richly deserve.

This was, to me, spot on:

American religious fundamentalist seem to prefer the Old Testament to the New (particularly that portion of the New Testament known as the Sermon on the Mount)

Jesus as the Golden Calf, an idol with no message.

"The Democratic Party... isn't [progressive]. It's all well and good to talk about having the discipline to hold your nose and vote for a center-right technocrat because he's the lesser of two evils, but that's no way to generate enthusiasm."

I'm not sure why people like you, envy, don't understand that the President is not governing by himself. He is not a center-right technocrat. He's dealing with an obstructionist Congress - you know, that branch of Government that passes laws. He is strategically trying to move things forward despite a fascist, obstructionist movement in Congress (which is joined by a handful of blue dog Democrats who hold their seats only because they talk the talk and walk some of the walk of the right). The right is very effective, not only at affecting the conversation, but at obstructing the legislative process. What Obama was able to accomplish in the first two years of his term was a minor miracle.

Does this make me a front-pager? I'll be looking for my ObWi check in the mail.

The long view taken, above, by John Ballard, Matt McIrvin and sapient -- while attractive -- assumes that we come out the other side of this relatively intact.

It's pretty clear that the national GOP is willing to burn the whole fncking thing down if they don't get more austerity [read: tax breaks for billionaires, etc.]. Like grind it to a halt. Better to rule in Hell and so forth.

I really want to assume that somewhere (one imagines a smoky room filled with immaculately dressed old men with watch fobs] the Real Conservatives Who Hold All of the Power are actually pulling the strings and acting in good faith, if not the general interest. This assumption plays out when, say, a Palin, or, more recently, a Bachmann, has a nice flash-in-the-pan moment before fading into Teh Crazy. (One hopes this will also be the case with Perry; as a recently ex-Texan, I can tell you this guy is a) stupid, b) nuts, c) corrupt^n, and d) dangerous.)

But now I'm just not sure. As I mentioned on the other thread: this article wasn't surprising (except that the prose is pretty good); it just brought my fring-y-ist thoughts about the margins of how ill-intentioned the national party is in my most paranoid moments (or so I thought) closer to the mainstream.

Lofgren includes a quote from John Judis on the obvious "American precedent for today's Republican Party." But I'm surprised that he didn't even mention that not only is my party (or, more accurately, the party of the same name that I have been part of for decades) pursuing the same approach as Calhoun's antebellum Southern Democrats, it is being driven today by essentially the same folks.

Not, obviously, the same individuals. But individuals from the same tradition and culture. The same horror at the "other" (moderately broadened to include not just blacks but other non-white immigrants). The same old-time religion. The same recruitment of poor whites to fight (so far electorally) in defense of the privileges of the aristocrats. "The South shall rise again!" Indeed.

I see the *movement* to elect Obama as a very hopeful thing beyond the personal characteristics of Barack Obama.

Yeah, I don't really. That's not to suggest that it means nothing at all, but I don't think hope is warranted; there's a reason the word 'movement' needed to be modified in some way (although I don't know what the '*'s mean). My view is that it wasn't a political movement at all: true political movements - like, for instance, the anti-liberal oblivion-craving reactionary movement which calls itself the Grand Old Party - aren't characterized by its members voting and then completely forgetting about their politics for the next four years. If Obama For America was a *movement*, the political landscape in the US would look a lot different than it does at the moment.

As mentioned upthread, Lofgrin's article has nothing surprising or new in it, AFAIC, but it would be nice if it helped some critical mass of people start to get over the weird idea that because something is extreme or unpleasant, it can't be true (e.g. that the current GOP is insurrectionist and dangerous). Even Brian Lamb might notice in a few decades.

bob_is_boring: "The long view taken, above, by John Ballard, Matt McIrvin and sapient -- while attractive -- assumes that we come out the other side of this relatively intact."

I'm not assuming that at all. I think we will not come out of this intact unless we get good electoral results in 2012, and that will only be a first step. Barring that, I do think there will be blood. Either it's going to be the blood of most of the country who has been trampled upon without a fight, or it's going to be violent conflict. People are not going to deal well with having a reasonably comfortable standard of living purposely and permanently snatched out of their reach. There are already many people in that position, and more being added by the day. The problem is, the left isn't the group that has the guns, so I'm afraid when it comes to that, the left isn't going to be calling the shots. Or determining where they're aimed.

this article wasn't surprising (except that the prose is pretty good)

Now see, I see maybe not the opposite, but a lot of red flags that make me discount the article. The title, frex (cult?). Where it was "published" (Truthout?). The "both are bad but let me just talk about one" aspect of the article. Calling people crazy. And how does a guy that has worked for the past 28 years in Washington have any idea what the base actually thinks is beyond me.

This reads so much like normal Kos fodder that I can't understand why anyone on the left thinks it is some sort of revelation just because the guy claims to have been a "cult" member.

And remind me, why would I give any credence to a staffer who's apparent area of expertise is budgets wax eloquent on religion (just to take one example)? Especially when the purpose of that foray is to compare Republicans to Gadarene swine? And that metaphor really doesn't make much sense to me anyway.

In short, ho hum. Next.

bc: And how does a guy that has worked for the past 28 years in Washington have any idea what the base actually thinks is beyond me.

Enlighten us, then.

Wow. That saved me some writing. An ultraconservative friend asked me to email him what I had against the right, and now all I have to do is type in a link. (Bonus points for the author pointing out what stinks about the Democrats, while still acknowledging that the Republicans are worse.)

Enlighten us, then.

I'm not saying I know. I know what I think and I'd better leave it at that lest Gary pounce. And I'm saying a career budget staffer is not likely to know either.

And I'm saying a career budget staffer is not likely to know either

Why not? I mean, someone who has been working on The Hill for 28 years surely knows something about what "the base" thinks/wants, no?

Nevermind, don't answer that, instead, are there any portions of the Lofgren piece describing the views of the GOP base that you find particularly unfounded?

" lest Gary pounce."

I wish he would. Gary hasn't been around lately, AFAIK.

Tne 'Gadarene swine' are a term/image used by preachers on the Right regularly enough to become a code word. So I do not see its use in this context as inappropriate.

Maybe it's time to take those sons of bitches out.

Full quote, which is to say, not as cited on Fox News:

Everybody here’s got to vote. If we go back and keep the eye on the prize, let’s take these son of a bitches out and give America back to America where we belong!

Note the first sentence.

I can't understand why anyone on the left thinks it is some sort of revelation

I doubt anyone does.

Ugh: Sure, it's possible that he knows more. But knowledge of every day life seems to be inversely proportionate to time spent in Washington. IHHO, of course.

As for the other question:

1) Default in the debt is irrelevant as the Second Coming is nigh/playing hard ball on the debt ceiling was an act of economic terrorism;
2) "Racial minorities. Immigrants. Muslims. Gays. Intellectuals. Basically, anyone who doesn't look, think, or talk like the GOP base."

I could go on and on. Not representative at all, I think. I mean, come on, when you make comparisons to or reference the Salem witch trials, the Supreme Soviet, possessed swine, battle of the Old Testament, the Koch brothers, birtherism, Paul Krugman, Gov. Walker, Big Pharma (tm), Ayn Rand etc. in ONE ARTICLE with precious little mention of insider budget experiences (which I would actually find rather interesting) don't expect me to be impressed or even interested. Social Security = "earned benefits . . ."


Full quote, which is to say, not as cited on Fox News

I wouldn't know what's on Fox News, russell.

Does this make me a front-pager? I'll be looking for my ObWi check in the mail.

You'll be getting exactly half of my weekly check. In fact, you probably have already received it!

All the warm fuzzies and good karma that you get for helping out here as well as my gratitude is, strictly speaking, off the books.

I'm sure that's so slarti.

I'm also sure that Fox's editing of Hoffa's comments, leading to folks inferring an actual threat of violence, was not inadvertent.

You can open carry an assault rifle to a Congressperson's "town hall" meeting, but god help you if you try to get people to vote.

The question of knowing what the 'base' thinks is an interesting and problematic one, I think. It is relatively easy to doubt anyone's opinion of the base on the grounds that they are not a part of it and a lot of blog fights descend into demanding that people provide bona fides for their perception.

But the article, at least in my reading, while making some observations about the base, is less about the base and more about the Republican party, which I do not think are equivalent. In fact, Here's what the piece seems to build up to:

As for what they really believe, the Republican Party of 2011 believes in three principal tenets I have laid out below. The rest of their platform one may safely dismiss as window dressing:

1. The GOP cares solely and exclusively about its rich contributors.
2. They worship at the altar of Mars.
3. Give me that old time religion.

I clipped out the prose after each of these points, but none of them is an observation about the base, they are all observations about the Republicans that he presumably worked with and interacted with on the Hill. As a congressional staffer, I think that Lofgren should have some insight into what the Republican party is, so I think you dismiss his observations at your peril.

I doubt anyone does.

That's because you have common sense. Google Lofgren's name and it's all over the "left" web.

So I do not see its use in this context as inappropriate.

Hartmut, you're right. I personally have never heard it used in a political context, but a quick search shows that George Will used "Gadarene rush" in a column in 2010. Shows what I know.

"Gadarene" is one of George Will's favorite words.

god help you if you try to get people to vote.

Now come on; there's no evidence for that. What happened to ACORN was a total accident.

knowledge of every day life seems to be inversely proportionate to time spent in Washington

Er...why would you say that? When I was hanging out in DC and socializing a bit with congressional staffers, I got the impression that they were underpaid working in a high cost of living metro area and had awful job security. They seemed like similarly educated professionals anywhere else; they had families, were balancing household budgets, complaining about the commute, etc.

So why do you think these people as a class are ignorant of everyday life? Do you think the government gives them free servants?

bc, given the content, it is hardly surprising that the "left" web would pick up on it, while the "right" web would ignore it. Which may say something about their respective prejudices. But not necessarily anything about Lofgren's biases, if any.

Maybe it's time to take those sons of bitches out.

"Don't retreat: reload!"

"And you know, I'm hoping that we're not getting to Second Amendment remedies."

Hey, anybody seen my Liberal Hunting License anywhere? I think I left it next to my Purple Heart Band-Aid at the last Tea Party rally.

Thanks stickler. There's so much of this outrageous crap that one can't keep it all in mind. I had forgotten about the gleeful and mass mocking of Kerry's Purple Heart at the GOP convention. Jesus, what a proud moment.

it is hardly surprising that the "left" web would pick up on it, while the "right" web would ignore it. Which may say something about their respective prejudices. But not necessarily anything about Lofgren's biases, if any.

Exactly so. And Lofgren's biases, whatever they might be, also don't determine whether what he is saying is *accurate* or not. Furthermore, the accusation that he doesn't know what 'everyday life' is like for the Base of the GOP is both immaterial (because vague - the matter at hand is what their political life is like), unprovable (which is convenient), and very likely false anyway.

If you had told me 35 years ago that the GOP would be the party of situational ethics, truth-is-subjective, anti-rational Postmodernism, I would have thought you were on some powerful drugs. Oh well.

Oh well.

I think the guy is spelled Orwell, just like Ah-nold. ;-)

---

I am not calling for violence but I would be willing to commit it against certain* RW figures, should they by chance stroll by me while I have the appropriate tools at hand. Admittedly that's unlikely to the extreme. Dubya does not make the list and is about the only one coming to within a 1000 miles of me (Rummy might have, not fully sure).

*not strictly linked to actual criminality but to how strongly I personally loathe them. Currently Eric Cantor tops the list.

Currently Eric Cantor tops the list.

I'm neither calling for violence, nor am I willing or interested in committing it against anyone. There's enough of that going around, IMO.

If I could visit some fate or other on a guy like Cantor, I'd have him spend a couple of years trying to raise his kids on a minimum wage income. Or no income.

IMVHO these guys don't need a beating. That would only confirm their sense of being among the embattled righteous few.

They need to live with some direct experience of the consequences of their words and actions.

They could look at it as an opportunity to show us all how to quit complaining and rise to the challenge of life without the government teat. Leading by example, as it were.

Think of it as something like an "It's A Wonderful Life" remake. Eric Cantor wakes up to find that he's just been laid off from his job as a Wal-Mart greeter, which was where he landed after being laid off from his teaching job, only to find that one of his kids has an acute chronic illness that requires $100 a day in meds.

Oh yeah, and the bank is taking his house.

Show us how it's done, Eric.

1. The GOP cares solely and exclusively about its rich contributors.
2. They worship at the altar of Mars.
3. Give me that old time religion.

Looking at it from the outside, the conservative agenda looks much simpler than this. To me, anyway.

Here is a quote from Allen Raymond. Raymond was hired by the New Hampshire Republicans to jam a Democratic GOTV phone bank when Jeanne Shaheen was running against Sununu for NH governor. He was busted, and spent three months in jail for it.

He was invited to post over at Talking Points Memo as a host of their 'Table For One' thing. Here is an excerpt from his comments there, discussing what he saw his role to be as a professional Republican operative:

As a Republican campaign operative at the Republican National Committee it was drilled into me that election law attorneys serve the purpose identifying the bright line of the law so it could be taunted but not crossed. Anybody who has a problem with that or doesn't get it doesn't understand America. America is about self interest, within the rule of law.

Bolds mine.

"Self-interest within the rule of law" sounds like a not-so-bad thing. It's certainly a crisp and easy to understand formulation.

And what could be wrong with it? Everybody does what they want, nobody breaks the law. All good.

What "self-interest within the rule of law" excludes is any sense of common purpose, or any sense of mutual obligation or responsibility. Any sense of being involved in or committed to any concern broader than your own, personal interests.

Individual people *may choose* to involve themselves in interests broader than their own personal concerns, but there is no institution that can demand it of them.

Certainly no public institution.

And the proper purpose of government and public institutions generally is nothing more or less than creating a context where each of us can pursue our own personal self-interest, with the minimum possible interference or constraint from anyone else.

That is what the Republican agenda appears to be, to me.

I'm also sure that Fox's editing of Hoffa's comments, leading to folks inferring an actual threat of violence, was not inadvertent.

Perhaps not. But there was no shortage of people who claimed that Sarah Palin advocated violence against Gabrielle Giffords, no? Probably lots of people still do.

Editing. Context-stripping.

But I wasn't underscoring the "take [them] out" part of it so much as the "sons of bitches" part. "No labels" is convenient so long as it's the other guys doing the name-calling.

We can have an elevated discourse or sons of bitches, but I don't think those two mix very well.

My point of view in the matter, anyway. I don't expect to get a lot of agreement on this point.

election law attorneys serve the purpose identifying the bright line of the law so it could be taunted but not crossed.

To me this is the key phrase. What does it mean to 'taunt' the law? Odd phrase. It's not the same thing as civil disobedience, which implies a respect for law, i.e. breaking the law and suffering the consequences to make your point. Seems to me that the modern GOP uses the letter of the law against the spirit of the law. The idea is to break down customs and institutions (and eventually simply change the law to make the bad thing you want to do fully legal). There's an endless list of things which are technically legal but generally haven't been done because they're a.) stupid, b.) insane, 3.) pointlessly destructive (It's not illegal to poke yourself in the eye, for instance). Debt ceiling gambit is a perfect example, but hardly the only one. It's loophole-ism to the nth degree. It's pure power lust, and the meta-legal things which make the American system work - customs, trust - are swept away. In today's Washington DC, this is called 'smart'. I can think of other words for it.

We can have an elevated discourse or sons of bitches, but I don't think those two mix very well.

That's because it's difficult to have an elevated discourse with sons of bitches. Obama continues to try.

The idea is to break down customs and institutions

Good point, jonnybutter. Certainly some customs and institutions need to be broken down occasionally (slavery, Jim Crow). But customs and institutions such as people's efforts to get out the vote? The concept of one person, one vote? Hmmm.

I strongly doubt that the author of the linked article is actually a former Republican staffer. He sounds like a liberal mouthpiece. Not to say that I disagree with anything he says. I just think the piece reads like progressive porn (the other side KNOWS it's screwed up and crazy, they just can't admit it!).

Slarti, you are making a logical error. You are treating the states of these things as binary (either they're doing it or not).

There is also relative frequency and virulence to consider.

So make your case on that basis, since the one you're using is irrelevant (because both sides DO do it, but we need to go further to say anything useful).

I strongly doubt that the author of the linked article is actually a former Republican staffer.

Troll alert. You don't fake 30 years working in congress. He is well known.

it's difficult to have an elevated discourse with sons of bitches. Obama continues to try.

Not 'difficult'. Impossible. It's worse than foolish to try. Obama 'continues to try' for political reasons - it's what oblivious 'independents' think they want.


Certainly some customs and institutions need to be broken down occasionally (slavery, Jim Crow)

I'm talking about the customs and institutions of government, like: don't block every single nominee of the Executive Br.; don't use the filibuster for every single bill; don't hold the economy hostage to default...stuff like that.


I'm talking about the customs and institutions of government, like: don't block every single nominee of the Executive Br.; don't use the filibuster for every single bill; don't hold the economy hostage to default...stuff like that.

This got me thinking about the endless campaign. I hear it used to be that there was a time for campaigning and a time for governing, such that the two parties agreed after the election to get things done, even if they didn't necessarily agree on what those things would be. If that's true, when did that change, or over what time period did our politics devolve into what they now are? I'd guess it started getting much of its steam during the Clinton era, right next to the internet and the expansion of cable news.

hsh, yes.

As a congressional staffer, I think that Lofgren should have some insight into what the Republican party is, so I think you dismiss his observations at your peril.

So, if another congressional staffer writes the opposite, do we dismiss that at our peril as well? I sense a logical flaw here.

Julian called that piece "progressive porn." Well said.

Nothing new there, nothing particularly insightful, just a rehash of the progressive lament that the country just doesn't get how awesome progressives are and how awful Republican/conservatives are.

Hoffa's speech should be an embarrassment to the left, but it's defended.

Surely, there is a slice of the Republican apparatus that has its head buried in big business' lap, but the left does the same for organized labor and does so proudly and publicly. Yet, the fervor doesn't catch on outside the left's base. It doesn't seem to occur to anyone here that people really do get most of what progressives are selling and there really isn't a market.

That's because it's difficult to have an elevated discourse with sons of bitches. Obama continues to try.

That's an approach that's virtually guaranteed to fail in any endeavor to elevate the discourse. If that was ever an actual goal, that is, which I am not at all sure is the case.

I watched this again the other night, and it resonated, somehow. It's probably just me that sees something funny there; don't ask me why.

so I think you dismiss his observations at your peril

Maybe so. It's just the tenor of the whole article that says to me there is not much there. It reads like Rachel Maddow wrote it. In fact, he links to other liberals to make a lot of his points. Julian's progressive porn label is close.

So why do you think these people as a class are ignorant of everyday life? Do you think the government gives them free servants?

No, they're just in Washington. Myopia. He's hanging around with POLITICIANS every day, for heaven's sake. Tends to warp the brain. And nothing turns the brain faster from reality than daily doses of federal budget talk. It's been proven.

America is about self interest, within the rule of law.

If you ask me, it's more of 'as far as one can get away with it'.
I get the impression that the Hobbesian view that people obey the law only because (or as far as) it has fangs is extremly common in the US. And to me it also seems stronger with religious people. It's the belief in the 'Gotcha' God often combined with the claim that non-believers cannot be virtuous because they lack the fear of divine retribution (and why would anyone be virtuous voluntarily?).

So, if another congressional staffer writes the opposite, do we dismiss that at our peril as well? I sense a logical flaw here.

If you dismiss it out of hand simply because the writer *spent too much time in DC*, yes. If you find specific reasons to think it is wrong, that's just normal critical reading. No one is claiming that you can't find fault with the piece, just that a generalization about *being in DC for too long* isn't valid criticism.

So, if another congressional staffer writes the opposite, do we dismiss that at our peril as well? I sense a logical flaw here.

So, McKinney, you believe that what someone says should be treated independent of reality. That someones speech should be not checked against the facts. IS that how lawyers work? Uh sh.t, they have fingerprints!!!
Do you really believe in GOPs self righteous: We create new reality. That must be good for the country, if its good for you, isn't it?
Shortly after i came to this country i realized that capitalism is better then communism because it helps individuals instead of collective. That came from many programs i enjoyed to get on my own feet. One by one individual: many individuals hence country is better off then if individual have always to sacrifice for collective. Later on i found out that is socialism part not capitalism part that helps individuals on the bottom. and the bottom is much more numerous and cheaper to help then middle.
So it must be true if an individual is better off in every case, then the country is better off.
But do you ever consider that in some cases when an individual is better off, let's say a CEO gets huge bonuses, that many get hurt. Hence the country is worse off.Give it enough time for many CEOs to get exorbitant bonuses and it hurts almost everyone and you get present income inequality and poor consumers which can not spend enough, without more debt, to keep economy going. You get this present unemployment. But you create your own reality so you can treat what someone says independent of the real world. And CEOs deserve what they get for their work only.
Pure marketing mentality.

Russel
Lofgren and Allen Raymond are both correct, just on different levels. Lofgren describes what you get from leadership mentality that Raymond described. And what Raymond describes comes from idea that i described in last comment, idea that the country is better off if an individual is better off. It is a perversion of that idea because it doesn't consider how many are worse off for one to get better off.
So you get 1. The GOP cares solely and exclusively about its rich contributors.
Individualism is only good
2. They worship at the altar of Mars. They have to prove that the country is better off with individuals better off at any costs: they are patriots defending the country.
3. Give me that old time religion. And you have to be a believer in order not to check it against reality.

jonnybutter, yes, of course.

Surely, there is a slice of the Republican apparatus that has its head buried in big business' lap.

A slice? What slice doesn't? Can you name names?

but the left does the same for organized labor and does so proudly and publicly.

And that's a bad thing because, they too, without exception, should be standing up for big business?

Somebody has to stand up for people who work.

Somebody has to stand up for people who work.

Who doesn't work? Aside from the ever-disappointing number of unemployed, I mean?

Pure capitalism (individualism) is as bad for the country as pure communism (collectivism). They are opposite extremes of an ideology, they both require believing independent of reality, they both give the same end results.
Both are dependent on central planing, whether 5 year plan to help weakest industry or tax cuts/ credits to help weakest segments of industries. How about socialism that helps weakest segments of population and controls both extremes?

It's just the tenor of the whole article that says to me there is not much there. It reads like Rachel Maddow wrote it. In fact, he links to other liberals to make a lot of his points. Julian's progressive porn label is close.

Actually CT, yes, this is precisely how lawyers work quite often: Logical validity and substantive argument aren't important (see the above quote) except as regards the other side's arguments. And if there is no logical problem on the other side, they make one up ('What if a staffer wrote the opposite?'). With all due respect, it's pure crap. The point is to 'win', not have the better argument, better plan, serve justice, etc. That what may be appropriate in a legal case isn't so in a regular political argument is just kind of ignored.

sorry, this is the comment from critical tinkerer I was responding to:

So, McKinney, you believe that what someone says should be treated independent of reality. That someones speech should be not checked against the facts. IS that how lawyers work? Uh sh.t, they have fingerprints!!!

Who doesn't work?

We Americans are all working-class people, janitors and Warren Buffet included, all to the same degree, all with the same resources and influence and power (except for the unemployed, natch).

Who doesn't work? Aside from the ever-disappointing number of unemployed, I mean?

Well, corporations don't work, although we know that they are people too. The people who work for them work though, and sometimes labor unions need to negotiate their individual needs that don't coincide with the needs of the corporation.

McTx: Nothing new there, nothing particularly insightful, just a rehash of the progressive lament that the country just doesn't get how awesome progressives are and how awful Republican/conservatives are.

And the awesomeness of Republican/conservatives these days is...?

although we know that they are people too

Only when it's convenient for the sake of our argument to know that. Otherwise, we don't know any such thing.

For that matter: show of hands, who thinks coporations are people?.

We Americans are all working-class people, janitors and Warren Buffet included, all to the same degree, all with the same resources and influence and power

Of course, I didn't say anything at all like this.

Just attempting to capture some explication of "people who work", which is I admit somewhat narrower in scope than "people who breathe".

Of course, I didn't say anything at all like this.

Since we're going all literal, I didn't say you did. ;)

johnybutter
Thanks, i am aware of that. I am also aware that majority of congress are lawyers by profession, some 80% or more, as i can recall. Can't find the article with that information.
Such lawyers Congress will have such mentality i recon.

I am trying to break the circle that lj was desperate about in his post

Unfortunately, I don't see anyway out of it, the cycle is a downward spiral. What do y'all think?

I am working on educating republicans to stop destroying this country, to conserve the conditions and ideas that created middle class. FDR ideas. Conservatives should conserve, right? Not progressively dismantle the conditions of prospering times, prospering for everyone. Reagan started progressively dismantling FDR ideas present for 50 years before.
Talk about history and FDR ideas with every republican, ideas that every progressive takes for granted. Do not let the bullsh!t goes trough without confronting it, whether said by your friend, family, coworker or your boss. No matter the cost, alternative is fascism and destruction of this country. Point to the paradox of their policy, point to the paradox of their ideas and ridicule it. Use the harshest words applicable. The best to use is religious wording since most of them are religious. Say openly that they are professing against Jesus's ideas and words. Prove that they are hurting themselves in the end. Passionately but without extreme emotions.
That's what i do to break the path toward the civil war.
Do not let the bulsh!t trough.
That's what i do besides voting.

I think russell (way back at 7:03 AM) has a useful idea (fantasy) of what the GOP leadership, and likely all GOP politicians, need in order to get a grip on reality. (And something analogous would do Democratic politicians a world of good also.) But it isn't going to happen easily.

That said, and without for a minute advocating it, I can still predict that absent some significant change of behavior the kind of violence that Hartmut and others mention metaphorically will eventually come down on a lot of politicians. With the GOP probably getting first (but not only) attention.

It's unfortunate, to put it mildly. But I increasingly fear that it is unavoidable. Nothing short of that kind of vigorous smack up side the head with a 2x4 is likely to get their attention.

wj, the same has been said about high-level clerics that teach doctrines leading to the misery of many millions. Esp. priests working in the 3rd world have stated that they would love to force the archbishops and Roman cardinals to live a month or year under the conditions they help to create, e.g. by fighting contraceptives, esp. condoms (explicitly even for married couples with one partner HIV positive, even if the wife is sterile* an no pregnancy is prevented). And compared to some influential RW protestants the Vatican is a bastion of pure commiedom on social issues.

*a hypothetical case explicitly mentioned in a Vatican decision: a woman without an uterus may still not use a condom to prevent infection by husband since God could make her pregnant by miracle. Condoms are miracle-proof it seems.

I finally read the Lofgren piece. I read it looking for a specific piece of information: what made the author a Republican in the first place? You can't be an "apostate" unless you were a believer first.

I did not find an explicit answer. Lofgren does say, in footnote 2: "I am not a supporter of Obama and object to a number of his foreign and domestic policies." Perhaps he will write a follow-up sometime, enumerating the Obama policies he objects to. (If and when he does, I offer a small bet that bc, McTx, et al will NOT be as dismissive of either the article or of Lofgren himself. But I digress.) That Lofgren is sincere about not being a "supporter of Obama" seems plausible from the first paragraph of his June 26 LA Times Op-Ed but I for one would still like to know WHY he thinks (or at least, says) that "President Obama's fiscal policies are a mess." Is it because they are contrary to whatever policy preferences made Lofgren a Republican in the first place?

Lofgren does say, in the "Gadarene swine" paragraph:

And, in truth, I left as an act of rational self-interest. Having gutted private-sector pensions and health benefits as a result of their embrace of outsourcing, union busting and "shareholder value," the GOP now thinks it is only fair that public-sector workers give up their pensions and benefits, too. Hence the intensification of the GOP's decades-long campaign of scorn against government workers. Under the circumstances, it is simply safer to be a current retiree rather than a prospective one.
Frank admission of self-interest as a partial motive for leaving seems entirely Republican in spirit. But quietly leaving is different from public apostasy. (I doubt anybody would know of, let alone comment on, the mere retirement of a congressional staffer.) And it doesn't explicitly answer my original question, except perhaps indirectly: maybe there was a time when Lofgren thought that Republican policies served his own interests better than Democratic ones. I would love to know when that was the case.

If Lofgren has been a congressional staffer for thirty years, his career must have started in the first years of the Reagan administration. Maybe he already thought of himself as a Republican back then, maybe he didn't. What puzzles me is this: what GOP policy preferences have changed in the last 30 years?

Oh, sure: the GOP has steadily become more ... aggressive ... in its pursuit of power, but "power" is merely a means to certain ends. Some of us recognized, even 30 years ago, what the GOP's ends have always been: untax capital, abolish the Great Society, undo the New Deal, and reverse certain consequences of the Civil War. Some of us favor such ends, some of us don't. Some of us, I suppose, favor the ends but have taken 30 years to grow disgusted with the means. I would like to know whether Lofgren is in that last camp, or whether it took him 30 years to figure out just what the GOP's ends actually are.

--TP

Julian says "I strongly doubt that the author of the linked article is actually a former Republican staffer."

This is provable one way or the other. My research led me to Michael S. Lofgren who worked for John Kasich, a Republican Congressman from Ohio from 1983-1994 and then spent the succeeding 16 years working on the House then Senate Budget committees.

You can argue that this is a different Lofgren or you can argue that someone is impersonating Lofgren. You can argue that Lofgren was really not a "Repbulican" but I don't see how you can say this wasn't written by a former Republican staffer.


I also have to disagree with Mr. McKinney who stated "Nothing new there, nothing particularly insightful, just a rehash of the progressive lament that the country just doesn't get how awesome progressives are and how awful Republican/conservatives are"

Nowhere in the article did I see any hint that progressives are awesome. This is why this piece resonated with me. I am a man without representation. Voting for Democrats to fight off the onslaught of Republicans is like taking a butter knife to a machine gun fight.

Democrats are worthless, spineless and plain stupid. Unfortunately they are all I get to vote for in my desire to protect me from Republicans.

Lofgren's piece may not have been "insightful" nor "new" but it perfectly encapsulated and articulated what I see. In that it has great value.

Liberal porn? Perhaps. But he sees the world as I do and it's damned frightening.

BTW Tony asks some great questions of Mr. Lofgren that I too would like the answers to.

I think it's fairly unlikely that the author of the piece is not the Mike Lofgren who worked for Kasich, and then for the budget committees.

At a minimum, if it were not, the actual Lofgren would likely have spoken up publicly by now.

I can think of lots of reasons why someone who was a Reagan-era Republican would be less than happy with the GOP today.

I *know* lots of people who were Reagan-era Republicans who are less than happy with the GOP today.

When I say "lots", I mean most of the Reagan-era Republicans I know.

So, the basic narrative here seems completely plausible to me.

Russell, if the "basic narrative" you mean is the "I did not leave the GOP; the GOP left me" narrative, then I have no doubt that many people sincerely narrate their own political evolution like that.

My perplexity still stands, though: where exactly do "Reagan-era Republicans" differ with teabag-era Republicans?

That's an honest question, not a rhetorical one. I am not a Republican of any sort, so I don't pretend to know the answer. What I CAN say is that I would find certain answers ... illustrative. If some Reagan-era Republican says "Look, I basically agree with the stated goals of the Tea Party, but I think the teabaggers are pursuing those goals too forcefully", I think that would illustrate something. But it would illustrate something different if that Reagan-era Republican were to say "Today is not 30 years ago. I still think Reagan-era Republicanism made sense in 1981, but it doesn't now. I have figured that out, and the teabaggers have not."

--TP

I find it interesting, in this era of unquestioned belief, incoherent exhortations, flat-out sophistry and plain old horseshit, that there are those on the right ready to question the authenticity of the Lofgren piece, claim it as ghost-written, or poo-poo it as a reprise of what Markos Moulitsas serves up regularly.

It may very well be that a career on Capital Hill disconnects you with "the base." But what did the second George Bush ever know of "the base"? What, with a largely coasted-through Yale degree and repeated shelter from failure? Duh. "The base" is a canard, a banality along the lines of "the masses" or "der Volk" ("die Volk"? I'd like Hartmut to set me straight on that).

"The base" would be more accurately described along the lines of Lenin's useful idiots - a conglomeration of lick-spittles, parroters, live ventriloquists' dummies, and in our special cocktail, lots of jesuschristers, flat-earthers, killjoys, and native son-wannabes.

The real vectors of the GOP's ideological underpinnings doesn't come from "the base." It comes from people who hate government yet want careers in it, for the purpose of dismantling it. All what's happened is that after 30 years or so of this poison, worked assiduously by a generation of politician-government haters, the formula's reached a level of toxicity that whatever moderates are left in the Republican ranks can't control its release.

If in fact Lofgren is who he says he is, the really astonishing thing about it is that it's been said by an insider who's now lapsed, because it wouldn't be anything new if it were pinched off of Kos. One thing's for certain - it sure as hell wouldn't have been realized by anyone in "the base." QED?

das/ein Volk Nom.Sg.
des/eines Volk(e)s Gen.Sg
dem/einem Volk Dat.Sg
das/ein Volk Acc.Sg
oh Volk Voc.Sg

die Völker Nom.Pl.
der Völker Gen.Pl
den Völkern Dat.Pl
die Völker Acc.Pl
oh Völker Voc.Pl

no indefinite article in the plural form.
Bevölkerung is the common term used for citizenry, although it includes non-citizens and excludes absent citizens (i.e. the strict meaning is residents = Einwohner)
The verb 'völkern' only exists with prefixes like be- and ent- (bevölkern = inhabit, populate; entvölkern = depopulate).
Never ever use the adjective 'völkisch' (except in historical context) which originally meant 'populist' but has been totally usurped by the Nazis. Be careful with using Volks- as a prefix for almost all combinations are historically tainted by either the Nazis or the Communists. Volkswagen is safe though. Beware of anything labeled Volksmusik (or worse volkstümlich) for it is not folk or traditional (music/songs) but an imitation created* to suck out and liquify the brains of its victims.

*main ingredients: saccharine (or frosting: Zuckerguß) and lard (Schmalz)

Thank you Hartmut. To start with - I don't speak German, but I was thinking at that moment of Nazi-era posters and excerpts from Hitler's speeches in all the parts in translation, referencing things like "we are a single people united in brotherhood" and all that - things also served up liberally by Rosenberg, Ernest Newman, etc., and regurgitated by Oswald Mosley across the Channel.

All it is was that I seem to remember seeing "die/der Volk" in a translated excerpt once.

My apologies for my ignorance. When my Japanese and other Asian students complain of the comparatively far simpler English article system, I can say that, well, it's still a lot simpler than the German - though that's not a knock against your language, as the article system comes naturally to you.

Another piece of ignorance on my part - so Schmalz is lard. I didn't know, as it liberally comes up in the States, anglicized into adjectival form, to describe something ham-fisted, overdone, etc. (a schmaltz-y piece of music, a schmaltz-y movie, and so forth - I can only think that it got imported by way of Yiddish, mainly in vaudeville and burlesque routines).

where exactly do "Reagan-era Republicans" differ with teabag-era Republicans?

First, I will point out that I'm also not a Republican of any kind. I'm therefore speaking for other people, so add salt as required.

When the Reagan-era no-longer-Republicans I know discuss this, the following reasons come up consistently:

1. The religion thing. Which is to say, the embedding of conservative evangelical religiosity in the public sphere.
2. The unique and, to them, incomprehensible incompetence of George W Bush. I know a number of folks who voted for him in '00 and either did not vote in '04 or voted for Kerry. Mostly, did not vote.
3. The tendency among current-day Republicans toward irresponsible, destructive theatrical gestures. For example, the threat of not extending the federal credit limit.
4. The embrace of anti-intellectualism and historical ignorance.

That's what I hear. And I hear it a lot, from lots of people.

I like "federal credit limit" instead of "federal debt ceiling." It's kind of the opposite of calling the estate tax the death tax. We may have found our liberal Karl Rove in russell.

To riff on what russell wrote in a more serious manner, I'd say disenchanted former Republicans agree with the general direction the tea party wants to go in without agreeing with how far they want to go in that direction.

On top of that, I'd say it's like a phenomenon I've experienced on this very blog - agreeing with the position someone is taking but finding the style and/or validity of his or her arguments undesirable.

Without naming names, there was a regular here whom I almost always agreed with on the substance, but couldn't sign on to "what [insert handle] said" because of the nature of [insert handle]'s rhetoric.

And, less commonly here, but more commonly on other blogs and life in general, I've agreed with someone's conclusions based on my own premises and logic while finding the other's premises and logic to be lacking in truth and soundness, respectively.

So I'd sum it up this way, listing reasons for disenchantment with the current GOP:

1. They're taking it too damned far.
2. They're just plain ugly about it.
3. They're using bad arguments - not based on reality and poorly reasoned.

We may have found our liberal Karl Rove in russell.

I appreciate the point you're making, but I want to be clearly on record as saying that I do not wish to be, and will not be, any form of Karl Rove, in this or any other lifetime.

It's just not a hat I care to wear.

As LJ's original thoughts on any connections between the Kan wind-up and the American scene have still not been addressed (understandably, since he and I are the only ones here, as far as we know, who live in Japan), I'll advance a few thoughts of my own.

For what it's worth, the symbiotic relations between the Japanese press and the government have long been far more entwined than in the States. A basic primer as best as I have ever understood it: The most obvious example is the Yomiuri Shimbun's long, cozy relationship with the Liberal Democratic Party, and perhaps only somewhat less so, with the Keizai Shimbun, the Japanese equivalent of the WSJ. Less obvious to those overseas are the kisha clubs, the news-official interface between the press and the government that essentially, in exchange for relatively extensive access to the PM's office and the cabinet, manages the news; what gets reported, and what doesn't, is largely the doing of the kisha clubs. More subtle, but visible, is what I see as the management of quasi-official leaks by way of the kishas (would like to hear LJ's take on that).

Now that that's out of the way: my stab at the connection LJ is guessing at is that the Fox News-GOP connection has become something of a more toxic, more vitriolic version of this kind of interface. The kisha club-gov connect is far more button-down, far less noxious, but perhaps as ideological as the Fox-GOP nexus. The difference is the sense of moment Fox ramps up; this is America, America is the shining city on the hill that is being tarnished, and of course, full of pseudo-history and inflated destiny, must have the amps cranked up to 11. Mainstream Japanese culture is far too sophisticated for that (though the far-right is alive and well here - some links if I get time in a separate missive, if LJ doesn't beat me to it, about the Japanese equivalent of the tea-baggers)

The PM's office in Japan is about the most thankless in the whole realm of Japanese governance, and largely ineffective by design (the examples of Tanaka, Nakasone and latterly, Koizumi notwithstanding). Having said that, the Kan government's response to "3/11" - the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, appended by the Fukushima crisis - parallels in some ways with what Obama has been facing: an obstructionist opposition (the LDP), an overweening corporate bloc indignant at having to accept responsibility for any of it (Tepco and the other, octopus-like regional energy combines), a lethargic public that complains well privately but doesn't vote enough; and a press too full of information but unwilling to stick its neck out unless it's from the right.

In the face of this whole political-corporate tsunami, Kan got fed up and called uncle. But rather like Obama, he actually accomplished quite a great deal in the worst crisis the country has faced since World War II.

Perhaps, then, what's happening in the States is only a metastasized version of a phenomenon that has gone on for quite some time here at a far more moderate temperature setting. With far more cash, far more "corporatization," far greater vulgarity, some stupendous, exaggerated self-importance and self-indulgence, and topped off with an encouragement of far more open extremism in the U.S., it's inevitable that what you'll get is the political equivalent of a Funkadelic show, totally over-the-top and unapologetic.

Maybe the connection, if there really is any then, is in the parallel and overlap with the manipulation of information and entrenched political/corporate oppositions, who have found how to end-run around their own governments.

I would like to know if a similar interface is occurring in the UK, or any of the other leading countries.

Actually the whole problem with the debt-ceiling debate was that people thought of it as being a credit limit, but it wasn't a credit limit. Credit limits are set by creditors. It was more like a point below your credit limit beyond which you arbitrarily decide never to pay your bill.

Tony asks, "what GOP policy preferences have changed in the last 30 years?"

Unlike russell, I am a Republican and have been for 4 decades. So here's where I see the changes. (Changes, I would add, which would make any politician with Reagan's record, but without his name attached, get denounced for apostacy.) And I'll limit myself to Reagan's actions, since at the time Ragan was on the right of the party as a whole.

1) no tax increases trumps any concern about deficit reduction. When cutting taxes failed to produce the predicted increase in revenue, Reagan increased taxes to keep the defic from increasing so fast.

2) no consorting with the enemy. Reagan was famously friends with lots of Democrats in Congress, including Tip O'Neil (the Democratic Speaker of the House). They disagreed about a lot of policy issues, but still were friends. Don't try that now.

3) public piety is an absolute must. Reagan rarely went to church, either before or while President. (Indeed, there was even some uncertainty as to which sect of Christian he was!) Do that now, and your chances of getting nominated by the party are nil.

4) ideological purity trumps every other consideration -- AKA no compromise allowed. Ragan was pragmatic (see item 1 above and item 5 below) -- getting things done came first. There is, for example, no way he would have refused the offer of a massive reduction in the size of government merely because it had some (small) tax increases included.

5) policy on immigration must be as draconian as possible; anything resembling "amnesty" is right out. Reagan signed an Immigration Act which provided amnesty to over 3 million illegal immigrants. Even suggest that now, and you're toast as a Republican politician.

I could go on, but you get the picture. (In fairness to Reagan, I think a similar case could be made that no Republican President in the last 60 years would be acceptable to today's Republican Party. "The party left me" indeed.)

wj,

Do you still count yourself as a Republican?


In my more moderate days I was concerned about issues and policy and considered voting for candidates who seemed reasonable, to hold the public good as paramount, and were smart and capable. Now I wouldn't consider voting for anyone with an "R" next to their name at any level of government, because I don't think smart, sane, reasonable people with the welfare [sic] of the country in mind could associate themselves with the GOP, no matter what they say.

And: why or why not? Your point 4) sort of sums up how I used to view things; although Bill Buckley's views were anathema to me, I thought he was smart, reasonable, and willing to admit when he was defeated in debate. Respect for the process and will of the people and all that, like Reagan raising taxes to get the business of the country done.

I guess the thrust of my question (rather than about you or your views in particular) is: what does a reasonable/intelligent conservative do? Hold their nose and vote for the crazy god-botherers hellbent on destroying the middle class? Stay home? Vote for conservative Dems?

I think this article and the author are both a little suspect (not that I'm significantly in disagreement with many of the points made).

But why would those who comment here represent this as more credible than say, David Mamet and the views offered in his recent book, except that what's offered fits the mindset better?

Matt McIrvin: Credit limits are set by creditors. It was more like a point below your credit limit beyond which you arbitrarily decide never to pay your bill.

Very true. The only trouble is, it won't fit on a bumper sticker.

wj: ...Reagan increased taxes to keep the defic from increasing so fast.

Also very true. And it reminds me of a Newsweek column from 1984:

America the Undertaxed, by George F. Will
-----------------------------------------
"Ah, July: the fields are white with daisies. In January, I promised that not "until the fields are white with daisies" would I again mention that we are, as a nation, undertaxed. I now return to that topic because the inescapable need to raise taxes raises this question: can Ronald Reagan really want to be re-elected? If he faces facts --if he reads the numbers in the Wall Street Journal -- he knows that in 1985 the President must hurry to restore the government's revenue base. Reagan cannot be a Reaganite after 1984 ..."
It's possible that George Will would nowadays deny he ever wrote that column, but I probably still have that copy of Newsweek in an old box somewhere.

Notice that Will implicitly defines "Reaganite" in the above paragraph. The Reagan who "must hurry to restore the government's revenue base" was evidently NOT the Reagan whose name "Reaganites" revere, in George Will's view.

Thirty years is a longer time than we sometimes acknowledge. It's long enough to grow a whole new generation of voters. New voters can join an old party; if enough of them do so, they can redefine the party's character -- to the point that it starts to disgust the original partisans. But is that a plausible description of how the Grand Old Party changed in the last three decades?

--TP

But why would those who comment here represent this as more credible than say, David Mamet and the views offered in his recent book, except that what's offered fits the mindset better?

Because Mamet is an idiot with no knowledge or experience in policy or government, and because he repeatedly made huge errors in fact and logic in his writings.

I mean, I read political scientists on the internet already; what possible benefit could I gain from reading the incoherent scrawlings of a playright whose political comments are more naive than a sixth-grade civics text book? My point is that when it comes to policy and government, Mamet says really dumb things.

To be fair, the author of the truthout piece said at least one dumb thing. His point about language and the naming of the stimulus bill strikes me as beyond stupid. No one on this planet cares one whit about what cutesy little names Congress gives its bills. They're just irrelevant to normal people. What matters is outcomes. The fact that the stimulus was too small for the economic crisis we were facing matters a hell of a lot more than the name that Congress tacked on to the legislation. And people who hate Obama and thought the stimulus was bad policy would not have changed their minds if only the legislation had a different name. That's just absurd.

So that was dumb. But it was one obviously stupid claim in a sea of at least plausible claims, written by someone with firsthand experience working as a Republican staffer. Mamet brings many many more obviously stupid claims with a lot fewer at-least-plausible claims and no first hand experience doing anything relevant.

'What matters is outcomes.'

In the United States, what matters is how we get there. The outcomes are worthless if the means are totalitarian.

In the United States, what matters is how we get there. The outcomes are worthless if the means are totalitarian.

Care to expand on this?

totalitarian?

'Care to expand on this?'

Sure. Totalitarian is one way an outcome is tainted. Fact is, most outcomes Progressives seek require new legislation and constitutionality is rarely considered, promised outcomes rarely reached, and promised costs usually exceeded. And when programs fail, the promise is always that it will work if we put more money in. 'Obamacare' was passed by a mere majority vote and most politically astute observers know that major legislative programs need a bipartisan consensus to ever be warmly received.

Somewhere back in these comments someone alluded to the fact that it seems we are at war, and I think we are. In that context, positions like that taken by the tea party element on the 'debt ceiling' issue should not surprise, no matter how drastic the outcome. The stakes are high.

bob, well I'm still registered as a Republican. Perhaps just a quixotic attempt to move the party back to sanity.

I feel perfectly comfortable voting for a sane and sensible candidate with an R next to his name. More, I think it a definite Good Thing. because the only way to get rid of the whackos is to build up a cadre of sensible elected Republicans.

It may, as I realize, be a futile effort. But failing another viable alternative, I think that we need to get back to having two parties which can be trusted in government. If that means atempting the impossible . . . well so be it.

New voters can join an old party; if enough of them do so, they can redefine the party's character -- to the point that it starts to disgust the original partisans. But is that a plausible description of how the Grand Old Party changed in the last three decades?

Tony, what happened to the GOP has two threads. First, Nixon (with an assist from LBJ) brought the Southern Democrats in. Second, Roe v. Wade forced thru something that, left alone, would have occurred over the course of the next 5-10 years anyway. And in doing so, motivated a bunch of religiously-motivated individuals to get deeply involved in politics. They were sufficiently dedicated that they were willing to put in the long hours in the political trenches, which resulted in their gaining positions of power within the party locally and at the state level.

The combination resulted in a party which steadily changed from a center-right one to what would, any time before 1990, have been regarded as a right-wing fringe party. And the trend has continued, to the point that I can get incredulous comments whenever I reveal my party registration -- even from people who already know I'm a conservative.

I suppose it is a hopeful sign that the Democrats are willing to nominate center-right candidates (Obama comes to mind), now that it's hard to find them among the Republicans. But I don't have to like it, and I don't.

"Sure. Totalitarian is one way an outcome is tainted. Fact is, most outcomes Progressives seek require new legislation and constitutionality is rarely considered, promised outcomes rarely reached, and promised costs usually exceeded. And when programs fail, the promise is always that it will work if we put more money in. '

I'm confused. American progressives are totalitarian based on this evidence?

Thank you, sekaijin, for getting at what I was trying to say precisely right and I'd underline the similarities between Kan and Obama in regard to accomplishing a lot in the face of incredible obstruction. The added fillup is that the DPJ (the current party in power) has just chosen a virtual unknown as the new Prime Minister because the infighting in the party who apparently wowed everyone with a spectacular speech but who seems to be a lot more centrist/conservative on several points.

One thing that makes the discourse in the US so much worse is that imho the population cannot accept the US at any position other than #1, which seems to necessitate a constant spending to keep up appearances as well as a toxic reaction whenever threatened.

GOB, I'm kind of impressed at what a bizarre tangent you've taken based on (what I thought was) a pretty banal notion. What I was trying to say was that voters care about the effects of government action, not the cute little names Congress attaches to it. Do you disagree with that?

Totalitarian is one way an outcome is tainted.

You're really defining totalitarianism down here. Wikipedia defines it like this:

Totalitarianism (or totalitarian rule) is a political system where the state recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible.[1] Totalitarian regimes stay in political power through an all-encompassing propaganda disseminated through the state-controlled mass media, a single party that is often marked by personality cultism, control over the economy, regulation and restriction of speech, mass surveillance, and widespread use of terror.

I don't think it is reasonable to describe the process by which the ACA was passed as totalitarian. That's just...completely wrong.

And in doing so, motivated a bunch of religiously-motivated individuals to get deeply involved in politics. They were sufficiently dedicated that they were willing to put in the long hours in the political trenches, which resulted in their gaining positions of power within the party locally and at the state level.

Do you have any evidence to support this claim? There seems to be a fair bit of evidence showing that the Christian Right's origins as a political force were largely drawn from rage over desegregation and that abortion simply didn't interest them for years after Roe v. Wade:

Indeed, it was race--not abortion or the attendant suite of so-called "values" issues--that propelled Falwell and his evangelical allies into political activism.

Falwell's jeremiad continued: "The true Negro does not want integration.... He realizes his potential is far better among his own race." Falwell went on to announce that integration "will destroy our race eventually. In one northern city," he warned, "a pastor friend of mine tells me that a couple of opposite race live next door to his church as man and wife."

By 1973, when the Supreme Court ruled on Roe, the antiabortion movement was almost exclusively Catholic. While various Catholic cardinals condemned the Court's ruling, W.A. Criswell, the fundamentalist former president of America's largest Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, casually endorsed it. (Falwell, an independent Baptist for forty years, joined the SBC in 1996.)...A year before Roe, the SBC had resolved to press for legislation allowing for abortion in limited cases.

For Falwell and his allies, the true impetus for political action came when the Supreme Court ruled in Green v. Connally to revoke the tax-exempt status of racially discriminatory private schools in 1971...."I was trying to get those people interested in those issues [abortion] and I utterly failed," Weyrich recalled in an interview in the early 1990s. "What changed their mind was Jimmy Carter's intervention against the Christian schools, trying to deny them tax-exempt status on the basis of so-called de facto segregation."


Second, Roe v. Wade forced thru something that, left alone, would have occurred over the course of the next 5-10 years anyway.

This analysis is inconsistent with history. Scott Lemiux, a political scientist who has studied this question extensively, explains:">http://lefarkins.blogspot.com/2005/01/countermobilization-and-courts.html">explains:

One often hears a similar story about abortion that Newman tells about secularism: states were inexorably legalizing abortion, the Supreme Court jumped in and hurried the process, and as a result created a huge backlash to policy changes that would have happened anyway. This is what a I believed when I started my dissertation; but it is incorrect in every particular. Legislative liberalization of abortion before Roe generated a very powerful backlash.

It is crucial to understand this: by the time of Roe, liberalization of abortion laws by legislatures and initiative was dead in its tracks. Only one state liberalized its laws in the two+ years before Roe, and none did in 1972. After the first wave of liberalization, pro-life groups were extremely well-mobilized. In addition to their success in the legislatures, there are other reasons to doubt the countermobilization hypothesis. Public opinion on abortion did not change after Roe. More articles were written about abortion in the National Review in the 3 years before Roe than in the three years afterward. Pro-lifers were connected to the New Right well before Roe. There is more than I can provide here. We can never be 100% certain about counterfactuals, but of all of the things we would expect to find if courts were uniquely likely to produce a backlash, none of them are true.

GOB: 'Obamacare' was passed by a mere majority vote and most politically astute observers know that major legislative programs need a bipartisan consensus to ever be warmly received.

Totalitarians are funny people. Pretty much by definition, totalitarians are always a minority in their own society.

Nobody talks about the "totalitarian" impulse to require everybody to wear clothes, because pretty much everybody considers clothing to be "common sense", not a "totalitarian" edict. (I have often said that a principled libertarian would be somebody who is as outraged by laws which forbid him to walk down the street naked, as about laws which forbid him to walk down the street armed. I have never met a principled libertarian.)

Policies which are so uncontroversial -- so bipartisan -- that not even run-of-the-mill libertarians object to them, are not the sort of policies that require "totalitarian" backing. No: "totalitarians" worthy of the name have to back policies that do NOT have majority support.

If a "consensus" is in favor of X, the totalitarian has nothing much to gain by championing X. If a "mere" majority is opposed to X, the totalitarian who opposes X has nothing much to do, either. To find gainful employment in the marketplace of ideas, the totalitarian has to be against policies which "mere" majorities support.

I do not mean to call GOB a "totalitarian". I am only pointing out that an actual totalitarian would be just as likely as GOB to describe a majority as "mere" -- when the majority supports something he opposes.

--TP

'Obamacare' was passed by a mere majority vote and most politically astute observers know that major legislative programs need a bipartisan consensus to ever be warmly received.

'Mere majority vote' is the way legislation is passed.

I think you need to revisit your understanding of the word 'totalitarian'.

As for 'bipartisan consensus', anything presented by, or supported by, either Barack Obama or by the D's in either house of Congress will be voted against, as a solid block, by the R's in both houses.

I suppose Obama and/or the D's could ask the R's to write the legislation and then present it as their own as a way of gaining R support, but in many cases that's virtually what they've done anyway, and still garnered zero support.

There will be no bipartisan consensus for at least the next 10 years, probably for another generation.

That is the reality of current-day US governance. Trying for bipartisan support is a non-starter. There will be none.

Also, for the record, Mike Lofgren's career and political affiliation are a matter of public record. Not a matter of the opinion of anybody here.

As the man said, you can look it up.

This is making my head hurt. I don't even know how to discuss stuff like this, it's like arguing about whether water is wet.

Nothing personal GOB, I just don't know where to go with stuff like this.

And like you said, the stakes are high.

First, Nixon (with an assist from LBJ) brought the Southern Democrats in.

The 'assist' from LBJ was signing civil rights legislation.

I guess you could somehow therefore blame Johnson for the realignment of the traditional racist vote from D to R, but that seems somehow wrong-headed to me.

'the traditional racist vote '

And this makes my head hurt.

And in doing so, motivated a bunch of religiously-motivated individuals to get deeply involved in politics. They were sufficiently dedicated that they were willing to put in the long hours in the political trenches, which resulted in their gaining positions of power within the party locally and at the state level.

I did not live in this country at the time when the political shift happened, but as far as i know these forces GOB described were existent since the beginning of the country with more or less effectiveness depending on the world political movements (awareness). The shift was enabled by liberal "relativism" thinking supported by wide accepted economic knowledge from both parties where there was practically not much off a difference in what either party proposed but how a candidate looked and spoke was of more importance. As far as i know liberals were claiming that everything is relative in this world, even that crime is not caused by the person but by environment that created such person able to kill and rob. Everything was relative even what republicans are saying, even what racists are saying. Over time more and more bullsh!t was not attacked and ridiculed. So Reagan's bullsh!t about unions, government and Cadillac driving welfare queen was transformative for the whole country.

Poor GOB. It must be rough when simple history gives one a headache.

--TP

"I see where the shoe pinches. It will pinch more yet."

It seems Patrick Buchanan takes offense at the notion that the southern strategy was based on racism. Tut, tut.

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