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Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult
September 4, 2011 1:24 PM   Subscribe

Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult
posted by Meatbomb (122 comments total) 57 users marked this as a favorite

 
Saw this article yesterday, and I was appalled by this paragraph:

"A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress's generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner."
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:28 PM on September 4, 2011 [32 favorites]


I read this earlier today. While I enjoyed his Republican-bashing, I thought his attacks on Democrats, particularly the one about them not understanding language, to be particularly good.
posted by Bookhouse at 1:31 PM on September 4, 2011 [13 favorites]


But both parties are not rotten in quite the same way. The Democrats have their share of machine politicians, careerists, corporate bagmen, egomaniacs and kooks. Nothing, however, quite matches the modern GOP.
silly and bs

and really gripping about raising the debt limit? Forget for the moment all the lies spouted by both parties about it, forget the number of americans who wants government to start following a budget, fact is the democrats, including Obama, Biden, and Hillary were all against raising the debt limit when a republican was in the oval office.

The idea that the democrats are somehow .00001% more honest and having the best interest of the country than republicans do is ridiculous.
posted by 2manyusernames at 1:32 PM on September 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


"A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress's generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner."

"Government cannot work, elect me and I'll prove it to you!"
posted by T.D. Strange at 1:36 PM on September 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


2manyusernames: “The idea that the democrats are somehow .00001% more honest and having the best interest of the country than republicans do is ridiculous.”

Yes, let's quibble about .00001, since that's certainly the most important thing.

This is the sort of thing people say when they're bent on defending their party in the face of mounting evidence that both parties are bullshit. "But they're .00001% better! But they're .00001% worse!" Who the hell cares. The Republicans are full of shit, and nothing the full-of-shit Democrats do will change that fact.
posted by koeselitz at 1:41 PM on September 4, 2011 [23 favorites]


"The Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work and then they get elected and prove it." -- P.J. O'Rourke

I guess they figured out how to make that philosophy a positive cycle for them.
posted by demiurge at 1:41 PM on September 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


The idea that the democrats are somehow .00001% more honest and having the best interest of the country than republicans do is ridiculous.
Yeah, it's a lot higher than that.
posted by Flunkie at 1:41 PM on September 4, 2011 [15 favorites]


I have a feeling that Perry is going to be nominee and the GOP doesn't take a single state that wasn't in the confederacy.
posted by empath at 1:42 PM on September 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


fact is the democrats, including Obama, Biden, and Hillary were all against raising the debt limit when a republican was in the oval office.

There's a big difference between voting against a necessary measure you know is going to pass without your support as a symbolic protest and voting against a necessary measure because you think it's unnecessary.
posted by Knappster at 1:43 PM on September 4, 2011 [41 favorites]


fact is the democrats, including Obama, Biden, and Hillary were all against raising the debt limit when a republican was in the oval office.

I'd be curious for some context for that fact. Were they refusing to raise the debt limit as an obstructonist tactic because it makes goverment look ineffective, allowing them to promote themselves in government because their politics are, superficially, anti-government.

It's fine to make parallels, however inexact, but they benefit from context. I don't think they benefit from being held up to support an argument pf absolute equivalency, because they have done things that superficially resemble each other.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:46 PM on September 4, 2011 [18 favorites]


What I found most interesting -- and disturbing -- about this article is that he thinks the party will survive its takeover by the theocratic nut jobs because even though they're insane and the plutocrats aren't, the two groups actually do agree on enough policy to continue to work together.
posted by localroger at 1:47 PM on September 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Who the hell cares. The Republicans are full of shit, and nothing the full-of-shit Democrats do will change that fact.

Wow, dude, you've figured it all out. Oh, check it, it's a Simpsons marathon!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:49 PM on September 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


2manyusernames: "were all against raising the debt limit"

Say that's true. Look also at how they went about being against something. Did they vote and against it? Speak against it? Or lose all sense of community-mindedness and make up horrendous lies intended to frighten their constituents into believing it was the end of the world and anyone who wasn't with them was Satan himself?
posted by theredpen at 1:50 PM on September 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


I have a feeling that Perry is going to be nominee and the GOP doesn't take a single state that wasn't in the confederacy.

Seriously?
I'll take that bet. I can guarantee you that Indiana (non-confederacy state, despite appearances) will go for whatever the GOP nominates. It inexplicably went for Obama in '08, but has veered hard, hard right since then.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:51 PM on September 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have a feeling that Perry is going to be nominee and the GOP doesn't take a single state that wasn't in the confederacy.

Former Boehner Staffer Suggests Rick Perry Would Be Happier With the Confederate Constitution
posted by homunculus at 1:52 PM on September 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's not just that the GOP has bad ideas; both parties have plenty. It's that the GOP has the worst ideas, and the most people passionately committed to them. On the war, the economy, the environment, and the budget, heath care, the GOP has become committed to whack-a-doodle. It's not for lack of opportunities where they could have helped. But at this point, as far as I've been able to tell, the worst idea the Democrats are passionately committed to is conflict avoidance.
posted by wobh at 1:54 PM on September 4, 2011 [16 favorites]


"The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies." - Sen. Barack Obama, Congressional Record, S.2237-8, 2006

"Meet the new boss/Same as the old boss". - The Who, "Won't Get Fooled Again," 1976
posted by codswallop at 1:57 PM on September 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


It doesn't so much matter which party is "more honest" or some other totally unmeasurable quality. Why aren't voters more concerned about policy? I vote for Democratic candidates because they generally support the policies that I do, not because they have a reputation for being more honest.

About the only generalization of non-policy matters that I can see about the differences between Republican and Democratic politicians is that (male) Republican politicians seem to be much more likely to be revealed as closeted gays through extra-marital affairs than Democrats. Democratic politicians seem to have just as many affairs, but usually with someone as the same sex as their spouse.
posted by demiurge at 2:01 PM on September 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


There's a big difference between voting against a necessary measure you know is going to pass without your support as a symbolic protest and voting against a necessary measure because you think it's unnecessary.

The GOP knew the debt ceiling was going to pass.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:09 PM on September 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Listen red states, it isn't your fault but it is clear this isn't working. You are great, but you and I need different things right now,I need a functional health care system and social programs while you need Jesus meth and guns. You deserve someone who wants the same thing you want, and values what you value. It has been great, but we are simply too different.

I wish you all the best,
Blue States

PS You are free to sleep on the couch till you can find a place.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:09 PM on September 4, 2011 [61 favorites]


The GOP knew the debt ceiling was going to pass.
Did they also know the nation's credit rating was going to be downgraded?
posted by Flunkie at 2:10 PM on September 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


Sure they knew about the downgrade. Right now their strategy is to keep the economy at the same level of fucked up or slightly more fucked up as it was in 2010 when they won so resoundingly. And I have no idea how to stop them.
posted by vibrotronica at 2:14 PM on September 4, 2011 [2 favorites]



"The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies." - Sen. Barack Obama, Congressional Record, S.2237-8, 2006


LOL! Protesting two WARS funded by borrowed money, tax cuts for all, and a huge wet kiss to Big Pharma.

And this joker ran for President? LOL oh my sides.

And 2manyusernames you get what you deserve, hope you like polishing apples.
posted by Max Power at 2:16 PM on September 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


OK, so I'm a foreigner, and a reasonably right-wing one at that. But, and I hope you don't take this the wrong way, your right-wingers appear to suck, both in general and also at key right-wing policies:

They don't support free trade. In fact, they're happy to impose illegal restrictions on imports from allies (Canada, the UK) to appease local lobbies, which is injurious to your national interest. And then there's government subsidies for agriculture...

They hate the idea of some kind of national taxpayer-funded healthcare system, even though it would be far cheaper and give you a better level of healthcare, except you already have millions upon millions of Americans who, erm, get free national taxpayer-funded healthcare. In fact, those guys with national taxpayer-funder healthcare appear to hate national taxpayer-funded healthcare even more than the people who pay for their own healthcare.

They don't like intrusive Government unless it's telling people who they can love and how many children they can have or detaining them without trial and torturing them, which seems an odd set of criteria for people who don't like intrusive Government. Because choosing who to marry and deciding on your family and not being tortured seem to be kind of the minimum set of human rights to me. Although, writing this, I realise we only legalised gay partnerships a decade ago, and abortion is still illegal in Northern Ireland, and we were torturing Irishmen only a few decades ago, so maybe I'll give you this one.

Don't get me wrong. I'm no great fan of what I read of your left-wing parties. Lots of producer interests, wrong-headed economic policies. But really, your Republicans do appear to absolutely suck. I'd almost certainly be a Democrat in the USA, and I'm getting pretty right-wing for the UK in my old age. What gives? Did the rot set in with Reagan? Campaign finance? All those damn elections, all the time? Lack of a BBC? The corrupting influence of your unlimited power after World War Two?

Anyway, the EU looks like blowing up, and the Irish and Scots are departing, and we still don't like the French, so can England apply to be a State of the Union? We'll be solidly Democratic, I think, and way bigger than California even if we set up London as some kind of internationalist city-state like Singapore. Think of the electoral votes! What do you say? It might help. I mean, I might suggest that you join the United Kingdom - free national healthcare! - but I think that ship might have sailed in about 1812...
posted by alasdair at 2:16 PM on September 4, 2011 [120 favorites]


Did they also know the nation's credit rating was going to be downgraded?

No, they did not. Ultimately they will do what the business community wants them to do, and that wasn't part of what they wanted.

It's unfortunate that the debt ceiling got turned into a political football, but it didn't start here as Obama's previous opposition shows.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:18 PM on September 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


It seems to me that the point of the article is that the main difference between Democrats and Republicans is this:

Democrats accept the basic institutions and ground rules of American government and politics and are focused on the laws and policies that affect economic and social life.

Republicans care less about specific policies and more about changing the institutions of politics and government in ways that make those institutions serve their ideological (and economic) interests and make it easier for the Republican party to get more power.

Or maybe that's just what I see in the article because its what I believe.

Strange forum to make this case, though. You'd think he could have gotten some decent placement somewhere with broader credibility.
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 2:19 PM on September 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I read this earlier today. While I enjoyed his Republican-bashing, I thought his attacks on Democrats, particularly the one about them not understanding language, to be particularly good.

In 2003 a progressive think tank (The Rockridge Institute) was founded by a Berkeley cognitive-linguist to address this very issue; it folded in 2008 (Mission Accomplished?).
posted by eddydamascene at 2:23 PM on September 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


Well, now I'm depressed.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 2:24 PM on September 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also worth noting that Mike Lofgren was on Committee staff, not a Member or Senator's personal staff, which gives him a somewhat different perspective. It'd be more surprising to hear this kind of attack from personal staff.

And he came over to the Senate in 2005, when Judd Gregg - a moderate even in his own time, but a raving liberal in today's Republican Party - was chair.

None of that discounts the content, just that the personal "conversion" wasn't quite as dramatic as presented.
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 2:31 PM on September 4, 2011


Slouching Towards Bedlam.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:34 PM on September 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


so can England apply to be a State of the Union?

no, not until you learn to speak english
posted by pyramid termite at 2:38 PM on September 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


Did the rot set in with Reagan?

Yes. That was the first election in which I voted, and the beginning of the end for all the bright promises for a future my adolescent self wanted to see happen.

Reagan simply wasn't the President; he was a figurehead, an actor playing the role of the President. Some of us could see that and the fact that many of us couldn't was infuriating to those who could. But however greedy and venal the powers were who had their hand up Reagan's butt, they were ultimately pragmatic and sane. Oh we hated and loathed Reagan but even in our darkest nightmares we couldn't imagine GeeDubya, the figurehead who broke free and became the thing he was pretending to be, to disastrous effect.

With Reagan, the pretense that electoral politics was about anything but personality and sound bites vanished, and with it the impetus for anyone with political aspirations to care about or learn how to actually get anything useful done. What has happened since has been the gradual replacement of pre-Reagan career pols who on both sides of the aisle actually cared about running the country with post-Reagan pols who only care about getting elected in the new milieu, for which a functioning government is actually a disadvantage if you're following the new GOP playbook.
posted by localroger at 2:43 PM on September 4, 2011 [21 favorites]


The best thing to do is to start learning Mandarin Chinese; I bet they will look favorably on those who speak it in the coming decades when they take over.
posted by Renoroc at 2:46 PM on September 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


RandlePatrickMcMurphy: " Republicans care less about specific policies and more about changing the institutions of politics and government in ways that make those institutions serve their ideological (and economic) interests and make it easier for the Republican party to get more power."

To the point where demonizing public schoolteachers and public schools as tools of Big Government and a liberal indoctrination conspiracy out to get children—including badmouthing preschool and saying that kids would be better off on the streets—is not one loon spouting off but a general philosophy of one wing of the party. There are no limits to what they will say to achieve their business-oriented and selfish goals. It's almost like they realize less education = more Republican voters.
posted by theredpen at 2:49 PM on September 4, 2011 [18 favorites]


Spinning and Spinning in the widening Gyre,
The puppet cannot hear the puppeteer;


I was really going to do the whole poem and end it with

Slouching toward Bedlam to be crowned?

...for Sebmojo, but it was getting REALLY depressing.
posted by localroger at 2:53 PM on September 4, 2011


The GOP's poll leaders are currently in ideological lalaland - Paul, Bachman, Perry. Romney is fading fast in the face of a cultural conservative like Perry. The only apparently sane GOP person running is Huntsman, who is polling at 1%, and I believe that he is only taking sane positions because he is so low - if you've got nothing to lose, why not go for the non-psycho GOP segment and hope the rest of the party wake up to his position.
posted by SirOmega at 2:55 PM on September 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I always thought it was Bethlehem.
posted by Max Power at 2:55 PM on September 4, 2011


Max, it was Bethlehem in Yeats' version.
posted by localroger at 2:58 PM on September 4, 2011


It's too bad this article only serves to confirm what we all already knew, and doesn't really provide anything in the ways of keeping them from driving the whole country off of a cliff.

If the goal is to fuck everything up so that they can be in power, does that mean they'll fix the ruins they've created?
posted by crunchland at 3:04 PM on September 4, 2011


Slouching towards Bethlehem to be taken on a tour of all those places where Jesus sold all those loaves and fishes
posted by Flunkie at 3:06 PM on September 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


and doesn't really provide anything in the ways of keeping them from driving the whole country off of a cliff.

He's pretty clear on that. He mentions a couple of other Republican apostates and distinctly separates himself from them, in that he's not trying to save the situation. One gets the impression that he doesn't think it can be saved, and is simply avoiding making it worse himself while maximizing his own chances of a safe landing. The article reads almost like an apologia in this respect.
posted by localroger at 3:08 PM on September 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is more proof that were actually in the dream " The Man Who Has Everything" universe and the world actually ended back in 83
posted by The Whelk at 3:21 PM on September 4, 2011


I always thought it was Bethlehem.
posted by Max Power at 2:55 PM on September 4 [+] [!]


Bedlam is a corruption of Bethlehem, for the London mental hospital of that name.
posted by Sebmojo at 3:25 PM on September 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also worth noting that Mike Lofgren was on Committee staff, not a Member or Senator's personal staff, which gives him a somewhat different perspective. It'd be more surprising to hear this kind of attack from personal staff.

James Fallows on Lofgren: "Lofgren's name is barely known to the general public, but among people who have covered or worked in the national-security field, he is a familiar and highly esteemed figure. He spent 28 years as a Congressional staffer, mainly on budget matters, mainly in the defense-and-security realm, and mainly for Republican legislators."
posted by homunculus at 3:30 PM on September 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Spinning and Spinning in the widening Gyre,
The puppet cannot hear the puppeteer;

I was really going to do the whole poem and end it with

Slouching toward Bedlam to be crowned?

...for Sebmojo, but it was getting REALLY depressing.
posted by localroger at 2:53 PM on September 4 [+] [!]


You can leave 'the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity' unchanged, I think.

On preview - here it is in full. God what a great poem.

THE SECOND COMING

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
posted by Sebmojo at 3:33 PM on September 4, 2011 [12 favorites]


But however greedy and venal the powers were who had their hand up Reagan's butt, they were ultimately pragmatic and sane.

I remember a conversation with my father as the Poll Tax thing was coming to a boil around 1990 in the UK - How could they continue to get away with this stuff, and more madness coming up behind? He replied that oh, well, the grandees of the Tory Party, the Eminences Grises would step in and make sure it didn't go too far. And then there was the Poll Tax riot and by the end of the year Thatcher was out (and her replacement, Major, got rid of the Poll Tax). I don't know that the notion of a back room cabal watching over us was very comforting. But today's back room cabal are the wreckers of twenty years ago, and I don't think they have the ability to see when the government are going to go too far.
posted by Grangousier at 3:34 PM on September 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


One more bit of evidence that the Republicans are out to destroy the country by any means necessary. You can argue their motives or awareness of their actions, but they are actively working to destroy the union. I think this quote just about sums it all up: If there is an earlier American precedent for today's Republican Party, it is the antebellum Southern Democrats of John Calhoun who threatened to nullify, or disregard, federal legislation they objected to and who later led the fight to secede from the union over slavery.
posted by caddis at 3:37 PM on September 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Something something third party, winner-take-all elections etc.
posted by VTX at 3:42 PM on September 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


My understanding of current GOP politicians (not necessarily all those who vote for Republican candidates) is that the most important thing was to get elected, get power, and keep power. Whether their actions were good or bad for the country, or good or bad for their supporters, was secondary to this. It's the only way I can make sense of their actions.

I wish there was some place to go for these people who are leaving the Republican party because of how unhinged it has become. They don't really belong in the Democratic party, but are they supposed to just give up on seeking political representation?
posted by benito.strauss at 3:48 PM on September 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


theredpen: It's almost like they realize less education = more Republican voters.

No almost about it. Hasn't been since the Reagan Administration's "education" "policies."
posted by tzikeh at 3:59 PM on September 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


They've said that -- their top goal was to keep President Obama from being reelected. I wish he'd made it a bit tougher for them.
posted by theredpen at 4:00 PM on September 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


and really gripping about raising the debt limit? Forget for the moment all the lies spouted by both parties about it, forget the number of americans who wants government to start following a budget, fact is the democrats, including Obama, Biden, and Hillary were all against raising the debt limit when a republican was in the oval office.
Woah, woah woah. They may have issued dumbass statements claiming to be opposed to raising the limit, essentially just claiming that the fact it has to be raised was bad. But they never did anything like threaten to filibuster the limit. Peloci didn't hold the debt limit hostage in order to end the war in Iraq or anything like that.
The idea that the democrats are somehow .00001% more honest and having the best interest of the country than republicans do is ridiculous.
So are you saying they are just as bad, or what?

I didn't see the article as being particularly pro-democrat, but rather just anti-republican.
posted by delmoi at 4:08 PM on September 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Forget for the moment all the lies spouted by both parties about it, forget the number of americans who wants government to start following a budget, "

Bullshit. You don't pass the bills that promises the good faith and credit of our country then try to say later on that you don't have to pay those bills because you want the government to 'follow a budget'. That absolutely ridiculous argument is the type of lies and ignorance that is winning the day.
posted by UseyurBrain at 4:08 PM on September 4, 2011 [21 favorites]


And lo, two parties came to the American People and stood before them. The first party said, "Pardon me, my fellow Americans. This party and I legislate in the same house. I had a majority while it was there watching. Four years later, it had a majority. We were alone in the house.

"During the night this party's economic policies failed because because it burdened them with two intractable wars and no way to pay for them, while encouraging outsourcing of middle-class jobs. They then attempted to pin the failed economy on me while I, your servant, was asleep. They then took the country which had been under my leadership and claimed to legitimately rule it. I woke in the morning and saw that these were not my failed policies, but theirs. This was not the country I was ruling, but rather their failures!"

The other party said, "No! The country is mine! The failures are yours!"

And so they argued before the American People.

And the American People called for an argument over raising the debt ceiling. They gave the order, "Tear the country in half, default on the loans, and each of you may have half."

The party whose President was in the White House cried out in pain for the fate of their country, and cried out, "No! Give them anything they want as long as they don't kill the country! Do whatever you need to to raise the debt ceiling."

But the other said, "Go ahead and tear it in two, but I get to have both halves."

Then the American People gave their ruling: "Kill the country and give it to the second party. They understand what 'tough love' is. Also the President is a black guy."
posted by Navelgazer at 4:13 PM on September 4, 2011 [101 favorites]


Anyway, the EU looks like blowing up, and the Irish and Scots are departing, and we still don't like the French, so can England apply to be a State of the Union?

No, sorry, you English would seem too gay and French for 3/4 of the U.S.
posted by NorthernLite at 4:14 PM on September 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


You can leave 'the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity' unchanged, I think.

Yeah, that was about the point where my snark tank ran dry and I started huffing despair.
posted by localroger at 4:19 PM on September 4, 2011


Can England apply to be a State of the Union?


This would cause every nationalist American colonial narrative to explode. However, something might be arranged if it meant that the price of HP sauce would come down a little.
posted by Winnemac at 4:51 PM on September 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I keep mentioning this but people seem to ignore the issue and that is, why doesn't someone actually address the GOP with the logical conclusion of their ideology, have a debate about the merits of Anarchism or at least minarchism.

Romney recently said to a voter "Did someone in the room say that we don't need any government?". I think she did a great job in showing an example of a situation that anarchist/libertarians cannot answer to the satisfaction of the pragmatic utilitarian public especially in light of the "take your hands off my medicare" self trollers and Romney ended up flopping around like a fish.

So in reality, I don't even think the GOPtards believe it - and the quickest way to get them to pull their panties down is to actually have them argue the merits of small to no government - have them paint a picture of what that looks like and what their solutions to large multi-community problems are.
posted by AndrewKemendo at 5:02 PM on September 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Well my dream is for Manhattan to succeed (ok, other boroughs you can come too but let us do all the talking) but a team-up of Engalnd and New York City would be pretty damn amazing. The charm and history of Jolly Old England and the Fuck You Attitude of New York, we would be unstoppable.

May we can just join the British empire. Jewel in the crown and all that.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:03 PM on September 4, 2011


Yes, it's so truthout that political parties "today" are so much worse than they were before.

Political animosity of this very type has always-- ALWAYS-- been the norm. Washington and Jefferson both made famous statements against political parties because of this very thing. Political rhetoric was so heated Hamilton ended up with a bullet because Burr "demanded satisfaction." Even Hamilton's son was killed in a duel over something someone said about his Dad. And there was a time when civility and consensus was so omnipresent and inviolable that we got a Civil War. Well done.

What is different "today" if anything is ever different ever, is that we have a lightspeed media precluding, well, precluding a sober and pondered response, well crafted over months, something of the order of, "Alexander Hamilton, I demand satisfaction."

Well, ok, but what's different isn't the politicians, what's different is us. Politicians have no choice but to respond to the whims and pettiness and desperate need of the people, who are told with every possible haste and spin what evil the other party is up to. We got the politicians we wanted, because we wanted people to yell at. That's what eases our conscience, Grand Inquisitor style, because if it's the [enter other party here] then it's certainly not our own fault.

And if we don't know what's going on in Congress, then lightspeed media will offer a proxy. Don't know what Congressman Weiner _D-NY) did in the 10 years in office? Well, here's a picture of his penis, that's what he did and nothing else at all. Go on and hate.

I used to believe strongly in term limits. Now I wonder if ten year terms aren't the answer. I'm not saying they are, I'm saying the solution to "politics today" has nothing to do with politicians and everything to do with us.
posted by TheLastPsychiatrist at 5:06 PM on September 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


The charm and history of Jolly Old England and the Fuck You Attitude of New York, we would be unstoppable

In The Difference Engine, Manhattan breaks off as a communist collective as a result of the turmoil of a much extended civil war and stalemate. They really, really hate the British.
posted by The Whelk at 5:11 PM on September 4, 2011


Well my dream is for Manhattan to succeed

I think we all want Manhattan to succeed. Godspeed, little island!
posted by Bromius at 5:13 PM on September 4, 2011 [26 favorites]


Well, ok, but what's different isn't the politicians, what's different is us. Politicians have no choice but to respond to the whims and pettiness and desperate need of the people, who are told with every possible haste and spin what evil the other party is up to.

I don't recall the average voter complaining about the deficit or regulations.

In this modern age we are led by the nose by very vested corporate interests.

Like that old Far Side cartoon of cows to the slaughter. NO CUTS!
posted by Max Power at 5:17 PM on September 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


2manyusernames: "fact is the democrats, including Obama, Biden, and Hillary were all against raising the debt limit when a republican was in the oval office."

Analyst Donald Marron had an interesting piece running the historical numbers on this; the truth is that the 2011 debt standoff was not comparable to past votes.

For years, the debt ceiling was a must-pass formality which the minority party used as an opportunity to make a symbolic protest vote. Minority Party votes "no," forcing Majority Party to vote "yes" and be tagged as "irresponsible big spenders." Then-Senator Obama used it to protest the cost of wars and tax cuts, Republicans (in 2009 and 2010) used it to protest the cost of stimulus and healthcare reform. It's as predictable and meaningless as which side of the chamber stands up to applaud the president's red-meat lines at the State of the Union address. As the chart shows, the only moment of bipartisanship occurred during divided government, when neither party could safely boycott the vote without risking default.

The difference in 2011 was that the ones threatening to abstain were a significant fraction of the majority party. This was unprecedented and extremely risky, since it required negotiation between the polarized parties, a process much more chaotic and uncertain than the standard, "The new House GOP majority votes for it, and Democrats get to snark their hypocrisy for a few days." And it's that chaos and uncertainty that contributed to the economic aftershocks of the vote, as stated by S&P.
posted by Rhaomi at 5:18 PM on September 4, 2011 [29 favorites]


Political animosity of this very type has always-- ALWAYS-- been the norm.

You're just plain wrong. I'm old enough to remember when it wasn't this bad. Pointing out the worst periods (the Civil War) and saying it was always that bad is just an invalid argument.

Politicians have no choice but to respond to the whims and pettiness and desperate need of the people,

Wrong again. Obama doesn't do this, for the most part. I know, because I frequently want him to tear a new hole in people I disagree with politically, and he doesn't. Even on issues where he disagrees with them.
posted by benito.strauss at 5:20 PM on September 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


I wonder when the dialogue will begin in earnest that, hey, maybe the US doesn't have to continue as this ginormous 400-million-person, continent-spanning behemoth of people who obviously have extremely divergent ideas of what the country they want to live in looks like.
posted by threeants at 5:22 PM on September 4, 2011 [10 favorites]


Matt Yglesias makes the point that the second half of the 20th century was 'anomalous' in terms of having lots of bi-partisanship. He cites the fact that there white supremacists in both the republicans and democratic parties, and those two groups worked together to maintain white supremacy. This gave the illusion of "bipartisanship"

The other thing was that the media was much, much more controlled by the elites then it is today. You had 3 TV stations that basically controlled public discourse. Whereas now there is far more access to diverse opinions.

That said there has obviously been a huge increase in the republican's willingness to push the limit in terms of their ability to block things from happening using every trick in the book.
posted by delmoi at 6:02 PM on September 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ad hominem: "Listen red states, it isn't your fault but it is clear this isn't working. You are great, but you and I need different things right now,I need a functional health care system and social programs while you need Jesus meth and guns. You deserve someone who wants the same thing you want, and values what you value. It has been great, but we are simply too different. "

threeants: "I wonder when the dialogue will begin in earnest that, hey, maybe the US doesn't have to continue as this ginormous 400-million-person, continent-spanning behemoth of people who obviously have extremely divergent ideas of what the country they want to live in looks like."

The political division in America isn't black-and-white (or red-and-blue). Austin is more liberal than Orange County. Some of the most conservative governors are in New Jersey and Wisconsin. Nearly 45% of South Carolina voted for Obama. As the man himself said in 2004, "We coach little league in the blue states and, yes, we've got some gay friends in the red states." America is mostly purple.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:04 PM on September 4, 2011 [16 favorites]


Today I make a decision: I will no longer give a rat's ass about what anyone claims "republicans" or "democrats" are doing, or "the president" past, present or future. My filter is now set to ignore anything that doesn't start with "during the time period of (date), (specific individuals or group) appeared to be (thing it looks like they were doig) when they (did the thing they did.)" That's my bare minimum. I am hereby retired from ignorant squabbling, even here.

Jaysus, it's all getting so exhausting.
posted by davejay at 6:12 PM on September 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


Did the rot set in with Reagan?

Maybe it set in with Reagan, but it started with Ford pardoning Nixon, establishing a precedent for unpunished illegal acts by Republican presidents. Reagan should have been impeached for Iran-Contra (circumventing the law, dealing with terrorists, and supporting right-wing terrorists in Lain America). George H.W. Bush should've been impeached for being in up to his eyeballs in Iran-Contra and lying about it. George W. Bush should've been impeached for lying us into a 10-year, $3+ billion war. These are all crimes bordering on treason and these fuckers should be in prison as a result. But no. Instead Clinton gets impeached for lying about a blow job in a case that was dismissed.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:04 PM on September 4, 2011 [27 favorites]


Benito.Strauss: No, you're wrong. (See how easy it is?) How old are you? Are you old enough to remember Carter? Nixon? Nixon arguably did something much less bad than Bush has done, and yet Bush got two terms and Nixon got evicted. Do you remember the last time gold was at $2k inflation adjusted, back when CNBC's hyper-partisan nut Lawrence Kudlow wasn't just talking about policy, but actually helping set it? (I'm not blaming him.)

Do you remember the most hated President ever, not by numbers but by degree, Reagan? He was so despised, so assumed to be the Antichrist, that one of the most popular bands of that time, Genesis, made a music video about him being demented and setting off a nuclear war. It starred puppets. Anybody on Top 20 Countdown today doing an Obama video? Partisan homicidal rage has been around since, well, since I've been around, which is long enough.

Yes, I chose the Civil War because it was obvious, but if this is a challenge I can do it all day. How about the Bull Moose Party (no black Republicans, please, they're all corrupt bastards.) They wanted a national health service, among other things, but of course it earned Teddy a bullet in the chest from a guy who just couldn't abide by one of these elitists going for a third term in office. Oh, and President McKinley's ghost is the one who commanded him to shoot Teddy. How's that for politics? (McKinley, of course, died by the bullet of a nut who was crazy, insane, crazy. He thought the rich were exploiting the poor. In the 1800s! I know!)

Interesting that you don't recall this "level" of partisanship. My recollection was that it was inescapable, it saturated culture. You could get a date based on how much you liked/hated Reagan?Milton Friedman/Alex P. Keaton. I don't know your experiences, but I would speculate it has more to do with your not being saturated by media, though for those who wanted to do so they could easily find their fix. Which is my ultimate point about the media: it makes us react too quickly to our representatives, which in turn makes them... evidence that public choice theory is right.

So you believe Obama is not responding to the pettiness and the desperation of the people? Wrong. He is responding, it just isn't to the people who voted him in, which is your (legitimate) complaint. But of course those who voted him in are most assuredly not going to vote for Romney ever, no matter how badly Obama "screws up" so he hardly needs to buy jewelry for for his wife. Save it for the mistress. Money better spent.
posted by TheLastPsychiatrist at 7:05 PM on September 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


delmoi: The other thing was that the media was much, much more controlled by the elites then it is today. You had 3 TV stations that basically controlled public discourse. Whereas now there is far more access to diverse opinions.

I used to think that the internet would lead to a better informed population across a wide range of issues. In reality, most people don't want to hear diverse opinions. They seek out what they agree with and reject the rest.
posted by dr_dank at 7:29 PM on September 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


TheLastPsychiatrist - maybe you're right. For myself, my memory doesn't go back so far. But it goes back far enough to remember when the GOP nominated Dole/Kemp against a sitting President who it seemed that they hated more than they could ever hate anyone, and whose accomplishments were yet to be known or heralded. Now, I was certainly Pro-Clinton at the time, and was just below voting age, but in retrospect... Dole and Kemp are pragmatic, diplomatic, reasoned sages compared to what the GOP is putting forward today. Hell, Kemp is at the forefront of getting DC actual representation.

And yes, George H.W. Bush got us into a war that might have been unnecessary, but his was a limited war, with and exit strategy, which refused to go into Baghdad and for which Bush41 raised taxes even though it meant going back on a widely-repeated campaign promise and losing him re-election. His son took the lesson that the crime was to raise taxes, not to go into needless wars, and in doing so changed the rules of the game.

We can go back further and further into history and in doing so see greater divisiveness and bloodshed. We can point out Genesis songs from the '80s, sure (and we might as well bring up Green Day albums from the '00s.) But it misses the point.

Yes, history repeats itself. To not understand that is folly.

It is equal or greater folly to refuse to understand the importance of the times one lives in, and the differences they contain.

We've got one party talking numbers and the other talking ideology. One researching solutions and the other researching campaign language. One trying to fix things and the other actively trying to destroy them because it is politically advantageous. And the media shift that you mention as the only difference is acting as a reckless catalyst towards a breakdown of the system.

Maybe we've been here before. Maybe we've faced worse. Who cares? This is what we've got to deal with now.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:39 PM on September 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Ad hominem: Listen red states, it isn't your fault but it is clear this isn't working.

Rhaomi: The political division in America isn't black-and-white (or red-and-blue) ... America is mostly purple.

Blue-staters talking about ejecting Jesusland from the union make me twitchy. I'm a liberal who currently lives in a blue state, but I grew up in a state whose name is frequently preceded by "Well, at least we're not..." Yes, my hometown is full of closed-minded assholes, and yes, I left as soon as possible, but I think that when you start talking about revoking people's citizenship based on where they live, you kind of lose the moral high ground in that particular discussion.

Also, I've got to laugh at how the discussions of kicking the red states out always seem to assume that the US is a country essentially composed of sane people (real Americans) with some localized concentrations of malicious hicks. Hicks so malicious, in fact, that they think THEY are the real Americans and the blue staters are not.

Rhaomi is right that there's no way to separate the US into multiple countries along ideological lines without stranding many people in "the wrong one." But even if you could, I'm not sure which half -- if either -- would be the true America. I'm inclined to think it wouldn't be the better half.
posted by zeptoweasel at 7:42 PM on September 4, 2011 [11 favorites]


George W. Bush should've been impeached for lying us into a 10-year, $3+ billion war.

The True Cost of 9/11: Trillions and trillions wasted on wars, a fiscal catastrophe, a weaker America.
posted by homunculus at 7:51 PM on September 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Of course you couldn’t separate the US without some people living in the wrong side, they’d have to move if they wanted. That seems like a pretty minor inconvenience when you’re splitting up a country.

Lately I’ve really been wondering if it wouldn’t be a bad idea. It’s not about which would be the better or true US, it’s just that people are just so far apart and I don’t see how it’s going to work out. The Right is so determined to screw things up, and I’m not going to live in that country.
posted by bongo_x at 7:53 PM on September 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Navelgazer: "Maybe we've been here before. Maybe we've faced worse. Who cares? This is what we've got to deal with now." That sums it up.

My point in taking the other side of this-- that rancor has always existed-- is that that rancor, while apparently terrible, may be the whole thing that makes America work better than Parliamentary systems (as Craig Ferguson would say: I look forward to your letters.)

We can look at this as a dialectic of sorts, back and forth but upwards, spiraling towards something-- let's call it better. You have a Carter, so you get a Reagan, and then you get a Clinton. You have a Bush, so then you get an Obama, so then you get... I will bet every dime I have that whoever the next President is, R or D, he will be the concrete response to abstract ideologies of the two, he will be what pulls America out of this, and when I say bet I mean a literal bet that is being made for me, for all of us, what happens post-Obama may well define America for the rest of America.
posted by TheLastPsychiatrist at 8:02 PM on September 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Honestly, I don't have much objection to the US becoming two or more countries if it could be done peacefully and people were free to settle in whichever one they chose. I would really like to live in an America where the Tea Party's influence couldn't affect me. I just think it's ridiculous to talk about Us kicking Them out, when maybe America's national character is really closer to Them.
posted by zeptoweasel at 8:04 PM on September 4, 2011


no, not until you learn to speak english

he lowercased.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:08 PM on September 4, 2011


lowercasing weirds language.
posted by uosuaq at 8:11 PM on September 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I failed to make an important distinction. As you say, there's always bitter hatred in our political system. What's different now is how high up in government it has been embedded. During the Reagan years Tip O'Neil worked with Reagan. If you want to talk about Nixon, 6 out of 17 Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee approved articles of impeachment against him (gotta love the internet). I don't see any way that could happen now. At the highest levels politicians are playing stupid games.

Politicians used to disagree, and fight, and fight dirty. But I had never doubted that both parties believed the country should be governed. Today I honestly think that the R's are willing to trash the country to re-gain power. Why this is (you say the media), I really don't know.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:38 PM on September 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Benito.Strauss-- we hate it when they disagree so much along party lines, but when they all rally around a common cause-- invading Iraq-- is that better? But we all "know" they did that because the media told them that the people were told to want it.

I will disagree about the willingness to trash the country to regain power. I do not think they are willing to do this, I think they do not believe that the country is trashable, that what they do really has any long term negative consequences. Which is a bit in keeping with my premise: politicians been trashing the country since the second President, and nothing bad has happened yet. Moral hazard, I guess.

(And I'll say it explicitly: I hope you do not take my disagreement personally, I do understand your point and I think it's really down to a disagreement of perspective and severity, not content.)
posted by TheLastPsychiatrist at 9:21 PM on September 4, 2011


TheLastPsychiatrist: I hope you're wrong. I really really hope you're wrong.
posted by Grimgrin at 9:50 PM on September 4, 2011


We can look at this as a dialectic of sorts, back and forth but upwards, spiraling towards something-- let's call it better.

One could call it — without any intentional irony about the state of our country's crumbling public infrastructure — a bridge twisting in the wind.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:07 PM on September 4, 2011


The author seems to struggle with the 'alter of Mars' aspect of republicans, saying it's a 'tough guy' thing but that democrats seem just as guilty. The military budget of the U.S. is about 1T dollars, or ~50% of Federal tax revenues (wikipedia). This is one of the few aspects of the economy which never falters, because a new war can always be created on demand and both parties will jump to support it. This happens with regularity, practically every generation. Also, funding high-tech weapons programs, whether they produce anything useful or not, is the only way to maintain a certain level of expertise at building these kinds of things. But when a powerful military is the only thing left, what have you got?
posted by jabah at 10:16 PM on September 4, 2011


The political division in America isn't black-and-white (or red-and-blue). Austin is more liberal than Orange County. Some of the most conservative governors are in New Jersey and Wisconsin. Nearly 45% of South Carolina voted for Obama. As the man himself said in 2004, "We coach little league in the blue states and, yes, we've got some gay friends in the red states." America is mostly purple.

I don't disagree with anything you've said per se, but I'm not sure it's particularly persuasive-- any population is going to contain diversity. Tiny villages have heated mayoral races. But that doesn't mean the whole world should be a nation because it's impossible to carve out fully homogenous zones (to take the concept to its reductio ad absurdum).
posted by threeants at 10:22 PM on September 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, I'm not necessarily talking about the US splitting "red"/"blue". That seems highly unpragmatic. I'm talking about any sort of official rupture of our union, which, if you think about it, has to occur-- literally-- sooner or later.
posted by threeants at 10:24 PM on September 4, 2011


The gospel according to Krugman reads that this is all caused by southern white males voting republican. The other voting rates among other demographics have stayed more or less constant. They tipped the scale.

So good news everyone! Those people will eventually die. We just need to hold out long enough...
posted by Chekhovian at 11:17 PM on September 4, 2011


I'm talking about any sort of official rupture of our union, which, if you think about it, has to occur--literally--sooner or later.

So which side gets possession of the nuclear weapons? Which side gains control of overseas bases and military units? Are you going to insist of a 50-50 split of SSNBMs? How about if a crew doesn't go along with the division and defects to the other side? Got plans for those contingencies?
posted by happyroach at 11:52 PM on September 4, 2011


I'm not sure where you got the idea that I was a military strategist or that I have an intricate plan laid out for the peaceful disintegration of the US. I'm predicting that at some point the nation will cease to continue in its current form-- you know, like every other nation that ever existed. I'm honestly surprised people are taking issue with this. It's practically axiomatic.
posted by threeants at 12:28 AM on September 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Rhaomi is right that there's no way to separate the US into multiple countries along ideological lines without stranding many people in "the wrong one." But even if you could, I'm not sure which half -- if either -- would be the true America. I'm inclined to think it wouldn't be the better half.

The (bloody and acrimonious) separation of India and Pakistan along sectarian lines may be an example to be wary of.
posted by acb at 1:50 AM on September 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


The Republicans seem hell-bent on creating a permanent underclass in this country. They want that underclass to stay ignorant, to have no voice, to not understand how almost anything works, to not understand that voting might make a small difference in their lives. Upward mobility is mostly a myth, going to college is very difficult for a large section of the population, crimes committed by the poorest are punished with extreme prison sentences in extreme prisons. Etc.

I agree with TheLastPsychiatrist that WE are the ones that have changed. We, as a whole, don't pay attention and don't probe the real impact of all these political arguments. A large group of us can't do the critical thinking to see what is really being planned for us by politicians. It takes a lot of time and energy to follow all of this back and forth arguing.

I'm not saying anything new. Most of us know this. Until we find a way to help and engage work-a-day people and involve them in national affairs, things won't change quickly.

Once people get past the struggle to just pay for today, they can start to see what might hurt them next month or next year. Then their questions get smarter and then a politician needs to be able to answer those questions intelligently and then the political rancor goes away.

This comment is just empty blathering. I can't get the young people in my immediate family to talk about or pay attention to anything beyond football, food, and television shows. If I can get them to second-guess Bernanke the way they second-guess football coaches, I'll let you know my technique.
posted by loosemouth at 3:55 AM on September 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


Red? Blue?

The United States is Purple.
posted by bright cold day at 4:05 AM on September 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here's the thing. The problems which face the United States of America today are very complicated and also incredibly boring. What should be delicate policy decisions made by people who have studied this topic extensively is kind of being sidetracked by people who want 'common sense solutions' to a vastly simplified version of the issue.

Why do I think this is? Well, I'm a scientist, but sometimes I'm also a comedian. And so I know that there are two ways to argue with somebody. The first way is with facts and references, and this is actually incredibly boring to people who aren't into that sort of thing. The second way is to take your opponent's argument, and you stretch it until it's ridiculous, and you can even make it into an attack.

For example, an argument against evolution: "My grandaddy wasn't a monkey!" Is that fair? Is that accurate? No, nobody believes their grandfather was a monkey. But is it catchy? Yeap, you betcha.

And here's the thing: Jokes are entertaining, and they're fun, and the 'energize the base', but they're a very poor platform from which to make policy. And maybe TLP is correct in that we are getting what we demand: we want entertainment, and politicians are giving that to us, at the cost of reasonable, boring policy discussions.

Although, honestly, from his speeches, Obama has always seemed thoughtful to me.
posted by Comrade_robot at 5:25 AM on September 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's interesting how quickly this thread swerved into "a plague on both your houses", given that that is what the article says is a major Republican strategy, i.e. mess everything up on the grounds that people won't bother to blame the real culprits...
posted by lucien_reeve at 6:26 AM on September 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


Forget for the moment all the lies spouted by both parties about it, forget the number of americans who wants government to start following a budget, fact is the democrats, including Obama, Biden, and Hillary were all against raising the debt limit when a republican was in the oval office.

To believe this somehow equates the tactics of the two parties you have to be very ignorant of how politics actually works. It's routine for a few politicians in each party to be given permission to make "symbolic" votes against debt limit increases, while the leadership ensures that the increase passes smoothly. (In fact the entire purpose of the existence of a debt limit has been to permit politicians to make symbolic votes). That's completely different from actually threatening to shut down the government, default on the debt, and tank the economy.

The Democrats controlled the entire Congress under a Republican President from 2006 to 2008. You will recall how often they used this majority control to make a serious threat to shut down the government, e.g. if Bush didn't withdraw from Iraq or raise taxes on the rich.
posted by zipadee at 6:36 AM on September 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm predicting that at some point the nation will cease to continue in its current form-- you know, like every other nation that ever existed. I'm honestly surprised people are taking issue with this. It's practically axiomatic

Hawaii and Alaska will one day splinter off like colonized nations throwing off their overlords. Tex-a-cali might be sold to Mexico or it might just become a new nation. In other words, I believe it will be less ideologically driven and more cultural.

We, as a whole, don't pay attention and don't probe the real impact of all these political arguments. A large group of us can't do the critical thinking to see what is really being planned for us by politicians.

I can't help but think of the turn of the last century when everyone, everyone! read a newspaper. They were sold on the street to the working man who read it and passed it on. People had fewer distractions and real news (as opposed to faux celebrity news) was one of the few forms of entertainment available to the underclass. The truth is now we have far too much cheap entertainment available to distract us from boring politics.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:52 AM on September 5, 2011


you know, like every other nation that ever existed. I'm honestly surprised people are taking issue with this. It's practically axiomatic.

Um, China would beg to differ. True, you could point out that Taiwan is still separate. But China did regain Hong Kong and Macao, and did this after 150 years of interregnum limbo. And Taiwan is now closer to China than it ever was in the last 60 years.
posted by FJT at 7:24 AM on September 5, 2011


So the modern GOP is truly evil and lacks fear. And the modern democratic party is slightly less evil and is engulfed by fear. When one party walks us down the dark road and the other agrees to the path taken, the destination is the same. How anyone could interpret this situation as a reason to vote democratic eludes me. Oh wait, I think I just figured it out. The GOP wants to kill us quickly and efficiently, at minimal costs to their corporate masters. But the democrats want to use money from the corporate masters to make sure we are well fed and have affordable health care before they kick us off the cliff.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 7:56 AM on September 5, 2011


Zamboni: It's the conceptual difference between the journey and the destination. If we're going off the cliff anyway, why not be well fed and have affordable health care along the way? Make the patient comfortable, at least.
posted by GrammarMoses at 8:34 AM on September 5, 2011


Recommended reading: John Gray's Black Mass. Apocalyptic religions are more prevalent than we think; the current Republican Party is just one version of this drama.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:40 AM on September 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Romney at today's Palmetto Freedom Forum on the subject of special interest money in politics:
When corporations are allowed to collect money from their members, and then one person, the chief executive of that corporation, can give that to whichever candidate they want, that's simply a violation of the personal rights of that individual. And that shouldn't be allowed.

And number two, I really have a problem with the idea that one person is able to collect money from all of their members and then give it to a party or an individual who that person may then be the one that decides on matters of legislation regulating that corporation. It's almost like a form of corruption! It's like, okay, I've got all this money, I'm going to elect the person who's gonna give me what I want?

And so, the power of corporations in influencing elections is a real problem, and the place I would address it, and how I'd address it is with legislation saying that individual employees may not have money taken out of their paycheck to go into funds which can then be directed by an individual in a way that might be different than what they would prefer themselves. That should not be allowed.

(Oh, silly me, it appears I bumped the "Find and Replace the Word 'Union' With 'Corporation'" button on my keyboard before pasting that in. My bad!)
posted by Rhaomi at 2:39 PM on September 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


FJT: "The Empire, long divided, must unite; long united, must divide"

I don't think they'd beg to differ at all.
posted by Grimgrin at 2:43 PM on September 5, 2011


And so, the power of corporations in influencing elections is a real problem, and the place I would address it, and how I'd address it is with legislation saying that individual employees may not have money taken out of their paycheck to go into funds which can then be directed by an individual in a way that might be different than what they would prefer themselves. That should not be allowed.

Good plan. I'll just pay them less and spend the money out of the corporate treasury, instead.
posted by empath at 4:02 PM on September 5, 2011


Honestly, I don't have much objection to the US becoming two or more countries...

Maybe you figure you wouldn't have to move, but being constantly at odds with my legislators in a solidly red state, I really don't want to have to relocate to find a sane government. I'd rather have the courage to fight insanity wherever it affects me or my family.
posted by pashdown at 6:34 PM on September 5, 2011


I'd rather have the courage to fight insanity wherever it affects me or my family.

I hear you, I get where you're coming from. Here's the thing. Mrs. VTX and I used to live in a duplex next to some white trash types. They were loud, belligerent, and general trouble makers. We didn't like living there and I wanted to make them get in line or move out. It felt like the right thing to do but, when push came to shove, we just moved. It was easier than fighting the good fight and we liked where we ended up a lot better independently from the neighbor issue.
posted by VTX at 7:02 PM on September 5, 2011


Obama couldn't have conveyed that sentiment better himself.
posted by crunchland at 7:06 PM on September 5, 2011


It felt like the right thing to do but, when push came to shove, we just moved.

I'd imagine moving from your neighbors is a lot different than moving from your country, especially under duress. There are a lot of Croatian refugees in my neighborhood. Next time I see them walking the sidewalks, I'll stop them and ask them how the feel about me taking up arms against the people I have political differences with.

A lot innocents get caught underfoot when countries decide to split-up. No matter how moronic and stupid the extremes of either side get, I'd rather strive for e pluribus unum. If the union fell to civil war over our current squabbles, we might as well piss on Lincoln's grave for him doing anything at all.
posted by pashdown at 7:44 PM on September 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


>Maybe you figure you wouldn't have to move, but being constantly at odds with my legislators in a solidly red state, I really don't want to have to relocate to find a sane government. I'd rather have the courage to fight insanity wherever it affects me or my family.<

That’s the position my brother takes. Me, I’d move in a second and whistle while I packed if I could live in a rational country that took care of it’s people.
posted by bongo_x at 8:38 PM on September 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Great article; disappointing thread.

Kind of like America itself! Zing!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:32 AM on September 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Me, I’d move in a second and whistle while I packed if I could live in a rational country that took care of it’s people. --- I hear Norway is nice. But as for splitting the US down the middle, we tried that, back in the 1860's. Took as many as 700,000 bodies to realize it was a mistake.
posted by crunchland at 4:38 AM on September 6, 2011


Not to continue this derail, but I'm not sure that splitting the US down the middle would solve anything, or be viable or practical.

On the other hand, there always is the option of reorganizing the separation of powers in the government.

Here's how I think it could work:
  1. Re-write the constitution to clarify the 10th Amendment and commerce clause in terms that are as concrete as humanly possible. The constitution is supposed to be a "timeless" document, but clearly that isn't working in this particular case, as the judicial system has been constantly hung up on these issues for as long as they've been codified into law. It's time to be extremely specific.
  2. In doing so, drastically scale back the powers of the Federal government. Limit them to (approximately) foreign/military policy, immigration, establishment and regulation of a currency, and the establishment/maintenance of long-distance transportation corridors that span multiple states. The Judicial branch stays largely intact at the federal level, and the bill of rights does not change.
  3. Also, strip most powers from state governments, and limit them to management of local and parochial affairs. Right now, states seem to have too little control over things that matter, and too much power to needlessly infringe upon the rights of their citizens. Furthermore, there is a severe information deficit/overload when it comes to state-level elections -- right now, voters need to choose a president, two senators, one representative, a governor, and multiple state-level legislators. The further you go down that list, the less nuanced the race becomes. Can you name any of your state senators, or coherently explain a single one of their policy positions?
  4. Create a fourth level of government, between the federal and state level that splits the country into 5 or 6 regions or provinces. Most powers that were stripped from the federal and state governments will be redistributed to these regional governments. Education, regional transportation, environmental regulation, social programs, public health, large-scale urban planning, etc. If a region elects not to regulate one of these things, it has every right to do so. Under this system, voters will have more reason to give more of a damn than they currently do about state elections, and will have a more nuanced and fine-grained control over political issues that might vary from region to region. Also, this discourages the entirety of the US from acting like a monoculture, which may be a good thing. Imagine if the subprime crisis had only hit 2/5 of the US?
  5. Establishing these regions should be done by self-determination. The trickiest part of this would be the likely necessity of carving up several states to send to different regions, which may or may not be an issue, given that state governments have drastically less power now. You'd probably want to split California, New York, and Pennsylvania in half and send each half to a different region. New Jersey would cease to exist, and be split up between the new states of Manhattan and Philadelphia-Delaware. Many others have already devoted far more time to this thought-exercise. There'd be bickering, but I really do think it could work.
  6. For the next 60 years, Washington, DC voters may vote in every regional election. Twice. Payback's a bitch.
Now, is any of this a good idea? I'm not entirely sure. I'm firmly in favor of a strong union, but also think that the current split of federal/state powers is completely insane. Since the question of redistributing power from the states to to the slightly-more-responsible feds seems to be out of the question, maybe this could offer a politically-viable course forward.

The mere question of Arizona being able to regulate immigration should have been struck down by the federal courts the moment it was proposed.

If I want a public education, I need to remain in my own state. This might be fine if you live in California or Virginia, but absolutely sucks if you live in small state like Wyoming, Delaware, or Rhode Island -- not necessarily because the state universities are bad in these states, but because these states are too small to support more than one or two good universities. Choice is good. I live in Washington, DC, which actually means I have no options for attending a publicly-funded postgraduate program that happens to be accredited. However, there are several other world-class programs in Virginia or Maryland that are less than twenty minutes from my house. By bicycle. This conundrum makes no sense, and is going to end up seriously harming the country's ability to remain competitive on an international stage.

This is to say nothing of the even more hypocritical split between Republican/Democratic policies on the state vs. federal level. Ron Paul is the absolute worst offender of this, and he rarely gets called out on it. Although Paul is in favor of a very weak federal government, his (less touted) ideas about state-level governance are outright authoritarian. Many self-proclaimed libertarians are little more than states-rights Republicans.
posted by schmod at 8:44 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


May we can just join the British empire. Jewel in the crown and all that.

I come from a long line of Feinians. My father was in the IRA in the 1940s and continued to support the cause of re-uniting the 6 counties til the day he died. I am painfully aware of the wrongs done against my ancestral people by the British government.

HOWEVER...

It has gotten so bad in this country that, at this point, I'd hoist the Union Jack and heartily support America becoming subject to the rule of the British empire again. Riots and all, England seems to be a much saner country than the US in it's present state. Yes, it's that bad.
posted by echolalia67 at 10:39 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'll take that bet. I can guarantee you that Indiana (non-confederacy state, despite appearances) will go for whatever the GOP nominates. It inexplicably went for Obama in '08, but has veered hard, hard right since then.

Spot on, I'm afraid. (Are you still taking bets...?)
posted by Gelatin at 2:21 PM on September 6, 2011


Tea Party Zombies Must Die.
posted by crunchland at 2:41 PM on September 6, 2011


Another former Congressional staffer: 'People Don't Realize How Fragile Democracy Really Is'
posted by homunculus at 3:39 PM on September 6, 2011


James Fallows: I Wonder If President Obama Really Believes This
posted by homunculus at 3:43 PM on September 6, 2011


Glory Days: Forget women voting, civil rights, workplace protection—conservatives want to bring back the 19th century.
posted by homunculus at 4:39 PM on September 7, 2011


Matt Taibbi: Apocalyptic GOP Is Dragging Us Into a Civil War
posted by homunculus at 5:06 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mike Lofgren on Hardball

Tomasky's article: GOP Defector Spills the Beans
posted by homunculus at 6:16 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Obama Against the Nihilists
posted by homunculus at 8:25 PM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Andrew Sullivan: Republicanism As Religion

Sullivan is Live-Blogging The Tea Party Debate
posted by homunculus at 5:44 PM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


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