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.
On October 13, 1972, the Technology Assessment Act was put into law as a bipartisan effort to promote scientific understanding for Congress members. The act created the nonpartisan Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), which released over 750 studies in its 24 years of operation. The OTA was defunded in 1995, part of Newt Gingrich's efforts to "dismantle Congressional institutions that employed people with the knowledge, training and experience to know a harebrained idea when they saw it." (Bruce Bartlett, NYT Economix blog). It was seen by some as "Reagan's Revenge" (Google books preview) for OTA's critical reports (Gbp) in 1985 (PDF) and 1988 (PDF) of the potential for Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI, aka "Star Wars"). Chris Mooney looked back on OTA in Requiem for an office (PDF), and both the Federation of American Scientists and Princeton University have OTA report archives online. [more inside]
The conventional wisdom about the origins of the Affordable Care Act is that it is a reformulated plan from the Clinton era, one that right-wingers like Newt Gingrich and the Heritage Foundation created. How true is it? [more inside]
one of these guys has a convincing rap voice and the other has a convincing 'no mom i don't wanna take out the garbage' voice
Political Rap Videos, curated by SomethingAwful. (NSFW language)
Depressed/frightened/disheartened about the GOP primary race? Here's Bad Lip Reading doing Rick Santorum and the rest of the GOP roster: Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Perry. [more inside]
Is Newt Gingrich’s plan for a moon mine science fiction? The technology may be in place, but is there any reason to go?
Last week, three founders of private equity fund The Carlyle Group shared a year's pay of $413M. They didn't do the private equity industry any favours as there has already been additional interest from the government for greater taxation of this elite subcategory of the 1%. [more inside]
When Mitt Romney Came to Town (subtitle: The King of Bain) a 30 minute attack documentary whose "overriding sensibility is not Swift Boat — it's Frontline, replete with a calming voice of God narration and meticulous sourcing to SEC filings, court documents, and the Boston Globe" (Rolling Stone) provides an interesting moment in the future of political messaging and funding. [more inside]
Shockingly, Newt Gingrich does not own newtgingrich.com. Instead, a group of pranksters called American Bridge 21st Century have used the domain to redirect visitors to various sites and stories that cast him in a negative light. For maximum entertainment, copy and paste the URL into your address bar. Lather, rinse, repeat. [more inside]
Robert Paul Wolff is most famous as the author of In Defense of Anarchism and as the "only person on the face of the earth who has read, cover to cover, Immanuel Kant's Inaugural Dissertation, Karl Marx's doctoral dissertation, and Newt Gingrich's doctoral dissertation." His memoir has also drawn considerable interest. But as a part of his blogging he has habitually offered "micro-tutorials" to encourage his readers to re-acquaint themselves with the classics of what might be called the Heroic Age in the study of society -- the writings of Marx, Freud, Weber, Ricardo, Mannheim, and others. His newest micro-tutorial, on Durkheim's Suicide, begins today.
Scott Walker, Michele Bachmann, Robin Vos, Karl Rove, Joe Moore, Ron Paul, Scott Serota, Newt Gingrich, Rahm Emanuel, Eric Cantor, and, today, Barack Obama
Texas Governor and GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry is booked on all the major morning shows tomorrow, and with good reason. After two months of gaffes, impolitic stands, and bizarre speeches that quickly waned his once-strong odds of winning the Republican nomination, Perry went into Wednesday's CNBC debate sorely needing a win... only to deliver a tortuous, cringingly forgetful attempt [video] to recall just which three cabinet departments he'd vowed to abolish, a stunning failure political scientist Larry Sabato deemed "the most devastating moment of any modern primary debate" in his memory. While Perry's slow-motion flameout has boosted the fortunes of dark horse candidate Herman Cain, the unlikely challenger is facing troubles of his own in a volley of sexual harassment claims -- an oddly ineffective scandal Cain is doing his best to (somewhat dubiously) disavow. If Cain collapses, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich may reap the benefits, but his moribund campaign has issues of its own. Pawlenty, Bachmann, Perry, Christie, Cain, Gingrich... the base is loathe to rally round him, but after so many failed, flawed, or forfeited challenges, can anyone topple Mitt Romney?
Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign is floundering despite his brag that "I have six times as many Twitter followers as all the other candidates combined." Maybe because 80% of them are fake. Or maybe they're not. [more inside]
Yesterday, Newt Gingrich announced that he's going to "explore the possibility" of running for president in 2012 with an exploratory site that uses an awkward stock photo. Then Web incompetence led to an inevitable consequence. (previously)
Newt Gingrich: The Indispensable Republican. In the twelve years since he resigned in defeat and disgrace, he has been carefully plotting his return to power. As 2012 approaches, he has raised as much money as all of his potential rivals combined and sits atop the polls for the Republican presidential nomination. But just who is Newton Leroy Gingrich, really? (SLEsquire)
"Bring An End To This False Prophet Obama"
Jon Voight speaks at Annual GOP Fund-Raiser [more inside]
Jon Voight speaks at Annual GOP Fund-Raiser [more inside]
It's been a rough first two years for new William and Mary president Gene Nichol. First, he reluctantly let go of a beloved logo. Then, he removed a cross from a chapel in America's oldest academic building. Some students and alumni revolted. One threatened to sue, others withheld donations. Nichol backtracked slightly, but to no avail. Outsiders weighed in. Dinesh D'Souza (previously on MeFi) came to campus to debate. Some students support Nichol and are tired of outside attacks. Maybe it wasn't the best timing for W&M to host the Sex Workers Art Show: conservatives are pissed.
World War III...maybe IV? Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich says America is in World War III and President Bush should say so. He has plans for North Korea and Iran...and a newsletter, too. Related: 1, 2, 3, 4.
Read what Newt does. Or not. Newt Gingrich offers his book reviews on Amazon. Who knows, maybe he is saving up his associates fees for a barbecue grill.