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.
The Absolutist: [The New Yorker]
Jeffrey Toobin profiles the current state of Ted Cruz.
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]
Jesse A. Myerson described five economic reforms millenials should be fighting for in Rolling Stone.
Conservatives were generally aghast at the suggestions. Dylan Matthews at Wonkblog wrote a response, "Five conservative reforms millenials should be fighting for".
Liberals disapproved. Both articles argued for I. Employer of Last Resort II. Basic Income III. Land Value Tax IV. Sovereign Wealth Fund V. Public Bank. Ezra Klein discusses the trolling.
The data analysis group that used Facebook and set top TV data to help Barack Obama win the latest election is taking its talents to the private sector.
Pity the Billionaire
(YT): Thomas Frank
discusses how the American right pulled off a massive coup and successfully branded itself the party of rebellion and protest in the wake of the financial crisis.
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.
are declaring a winner in NY-26
as Democratic candidate Kathy Hochul
has a 6% lead (with 91% reporting)
over Republican Jane Corwin (previously)
in Tuesday's special election. [more inside]
"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
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]
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.
Voices of the Delegates: Democrats
: Republicans [via: NYTimes]
" [more inside]
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.
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.
The State of the Union Address
was tonight. C-Span not only has the video, but transcripts of every State of the Union address starting from 1945. Howard Dean responded
Come Home, America: Pat Buchanan's
magazine, The American Conservative, prints a passionate defense of George McGovern
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
You can probably guess who people like Janeane Garofalo
and Ben Stein
have given campaign contributions to. But how about Jennifer Garner
? Reese Witherspoon
? Karl Malone
? The Newsmeat Hall Of Fame
has the answers.
Georgia Republicans Attempt to Derail Democratic Primary
"Overzealous staffers" signed affidavits of identity for candidates in eight Senate seats to pose as primary opponents to more established Democratic candidates. Dirty pool or legitimate tactic?
America the Polarized
NYT's Paul Krugman says that Congress is polarized because Republicans have moved to the right, while Democrats have remained fairly constant. He (and a political scientist) attribute the change to economic polarization, the sharply widening inequality of income and wealth.
how to buy the new republican party
"The tax cuts will make the economy grow. As people do better, they start voting like Republicans--unless they have too much education and vote Democratic"
[this is the recently launched newyorker online]