The Big Lobotomy: How Republicans Made Congress Stupid
A quick refresher: In 1995, after winning a majority in the House for the first time in forty years, one of the first things the new Republican House leadership did was gut Congress’s workforce. They cut the “professional staff” (the lawyers, economists, and investigators who work for committees rather than individual members) by a third. They reduced the “legislative support staff” (the auditors, analysts, and subject-matter experts at the Government Accountability Office [GAO], the Congressional Research Service [CRS], and so on) by a third, too, and killed off the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) entirely. And they fundamentally dismantled the old committee structure, centralizing power in the House speaker’s office and discouraging members and their staff from performing their own policy research. (The Republicans who took over the Senate in 1995 were less draconian, cutting committee staff by about 16 percent and leaving the committee system largely in place.) Today, the GAO and the CRS, which serve both House and Senate, are each operating at about 80 percent of their 1979 capacity. While Senate committee staffs have rebounded somewhat under Democratic control, every single House standing committee had fewer staffers in 2009 than in 1994. Since 2011, with a Tea Party-radicalized GOP back in control of the House, Congress has cut its budget by a whopping 20 percent, a far higher ratio than any other federal agency, leading, predictably, to staff layoffs, hiring and salary freezes, and drooping morale.
posted by the man of twists and turns
on Jun 27, 2014 -
The Color Of His Presidency
A few weeks ago, the liberal comedian Bill Maher and conservative strategist and pundit Bill Kristol had a brief spat on Maher’s HBO show, putatively over what instigated the tea party but ultimately over the psychic wound that has divided red America and blue America in the Obama years. The rise of the tea party, explained Maher in a let’s-get-real moment, closing his eyes for a second the way one does when saying something everybody knows but nobody wants to say, “was about a black president.” Both Maher and Kristol carry themselves with a weary cynicism that allows them to jovially spar with ideological rivals, but all of a sudden they both grew earnest and angry. Kristol interjected, shouting, “That’s bullshit! That is total bullshit!” After momentarily sputtering, Kristol recovered his calm, but his rare indignation remained, and there was no trace of the smirk he usually wears to distance himself slightly from his talking points. He almost pleaded to Maher, “Even you don’t believe that!”
“I totally believe that,” Maher responded, which is no doubt true, because every Obama supporter believes deep down, or sometimes right on the surface, that the furious opposition marshaled against the first black president is a reaction to his race. Likewise, every Obama opponent believes with equal fervor that this is not only false but a smear concocted willfully to silence them. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns
on Apr 15, 2014 -
According to Adorno, in psychoanalysis only the exaggerations are true.
If you wished to characterize the Democrats and the Republicans in terms of true exaggerations, you might say that the Republicans have become the Party of Psychosis while the Democrats have become the Party of Neurosis. The Republicans are psychotic because they have lost contact with reality, and orient their behavior not toward realities but toward fantasies. The Democrats are neurotic because they are aim-inhibited, as an old-fashioned shrink might say: their anxieties, hang-ups, and insecurities mean that they can’t attain satisfaction, since in a basic way they won’t even allow themselves to know what they want.
posted by j03
on Sep 12, 2012 -
"Isarithmic maps are essentially topographic or contour maps, wherein a third variable is represented in two dimensions by color, or by contour lines, indicating gradations. I had never seen such a map depicting political data — certainly not election returns, and thus sought to create them
posted by nomadicink
on Nov 22, 2010 -
Jack Conway, a candidate
for United States Senate, is catching flak from Democrats and Tea-Partiers alike, for airing an attack ad
against his opponent, Rand Paul
that brings up some bizarre dirt
published in GQ a few months back. At a debate between the two candidates Sunday, Paul refused to shake Conway's hand at the end. Today, the National Republican Senatorial Committee released a response
to the Aqua Buddha
ad. [more inside]
posted by krysalist
on Oct 20, 2010 -
The FBI has released their extensive files on US Senator Edward M. Kennedy to the public,
covering their relationship with him between 1961 and 1985. The seven files, totaling more than 2,200 pages of documents reveal
(among other things,) the perhaps unsurprising news that the late Senator received "scores"
of death threats
from radical groups, including the Ku Klux Klan, “Minutemen” organizations, and the National Socialist White People’s Party. The release was initiated by a Freedom of Information Act Request from Judicial Watch
on May 3, 2010, (Complaint pdf
) but the FBI gave the Senator's family the "rare opportunity" to raise objections before releasing the file
posted by zarq
on Jun 14, 2010 -
Tom Davis Gives Up
(SLNYT). “Tell them about the important work we’re doing while Rome burns,” he said.
A candid accounting of American politics from a member of the GOP disillusioned with both sides of the aisle and an overview of how he became that way.
posted by schroedinger
on Oct 4, 2008 -
My Right Wing Dad
is a new-ish and rather informal blog that aims to provide "a chance for folks to examine the unrestrained rhetoric that is quietly passed from in-box to in-box in America," by hosting a collection of the emails that form an often untraceable and unacknowledged part of public discourse in the U.S., especially on the Right. Tagged by category (for example: God
, and World War II
), the amateur archive presents a range of colorful opinion, not all of it strikingly accurate, and some of it offensive. In efforts to understand liberal and conservative habits of communication
, it may be worth considering the role of forwarded email in the electoral process, and the reasons that the forwarding of email is popular among some people
, and whether this behavior tends to correlate with particular political opinions. The emails hosted on MyRightWingDad may in any case be enlightening, unless you're already on the forward list of someone in the know.
posted by washburn
on Aug 15, 2007 -
Hillary Clinton as Lisa Simpson!?
Not sure if I put my finger on it, but that's my impression reading some excerpts from letters Hillary Clinton wrote to a high school friend whilst in college. I've been entertaining Barack Obama as Lincoln -- an impression
he's actively cultivated
(so, another Simpsons tie-in
:) -- and I welcome uncanned glimpses
into candidates' formative years to get a better idea of their 'character' (as if they're running on character and 'bio') so it was great to read her reminisce on her childhood: "I'd play out in the patch of sunlight that broke the density of the elms in front of our house and pretend there were heavenly movie cameras
watching my every move."
posted by kliuless
on Jul 29, 2007 -
opines on how the Foley story coverage hurts not only gays
but Democrats; on how women have a stake In Conoleeeza Rice
's success; talk radio in general; and how the Democrats have to play the religion card well to win, not only now, but in 2008.
posted by nj_subgenius
on Oct 27, 2006 -
Ned Lamont responds to accusations of hacking the Lieberman website.
In response to a reported issue
with the Lieberman campaign websites
, Ned Lamont claims to have nothing to do with it. In Lamont's blog you'll notice, however, that someone has divulged the real reason behind the websites not being available: "Perhaps Joe should contact Diana Fassbender, fassbenderw (at) yahoo (dot) com, the billing contact for joe2006.com at “Friends of Joe Lieberman.” She can ask their host, www.theplanet.com, how to reconcile the account and restore service. It’s 1-800-377-6103—we’re here to help. It looks like a simple case of non-payment. Pretty sloppy by the Lieberman folks."
posted by thanotopsis
on Aug 8, 2006 -
The Purple Party
Why can’t we have a serious, innovative, truth-telling, pragmatic party without any of the baggage of the Democrats and Republicans?
Where to draw the line is mostly a matter of common sense. Public reminders to honor one’s parents and love one’s neighbor, and not to lie, steal, or commit adultery or murder? Fine. Genesis taught as science in public schools, and government cosmologists forced by their PR handlers to give a shout-out to creationism? No way. Kids who want to wear crucifixes or yarmulkes or head scarves to those same schools? Sure, why not? And so on.
posted by frogan
on Apr 19, 2006 -
Angry and Furious at the Collaborationist Democrats
I [Martin Garbus] don't understand. An hour after I saw the Times "scoop" on the Bush illegal wiretapping plan, I wrote that it was clearly illegal and unconstitutional.
But as it now turns out, dozens of politicians, as well as the New York Times knew about the surveillance plan and did nothing.
Representative Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House, and Senator Jay Rockefeller, the Democratic senator from West Virginia, a man known for some sensitivity to civil liberties infringements, and a substantial number of congressmen, plus the New York Times, all knew of Bush's illegal spying.
posted by Postroad
on Jan 9, 2006 -
Do liberals and conservatives have mutually exclusive career aspirations for their children?
(reg req'd). Some, including the White House, think so. "Our party, in the way it is constituted, we think of medicine, we think of law, we think of business. We don't think, gee, I hope my son grows up to be a great playwright or painter or poet." -- White House deputy director of public liason Tim Goeglein. Are conservative parents pushing their ideological bias against the liberal-dominated arts world onto their kids, or are they simply being realistic? "Of course, you would have to be insane to hope your child grows up to be a playwright or poet. Given the odds, you would have to be quite cavalier about your children's future." -- author and conservative parent Mark Helprin
posted by schoolgirl report
on Aug 12, 2005 -