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 -
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 -
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 -
Congressman dies of rare disease
Congressman Bob Matsui, who was recently elected to a 14th term in Congress, has died due to a rare stem cell disease. Matsui, who was one of the leading opponents of President Bush's plan to eliminate Social Security, was the ranking Democrat on the Congressional subcommittee on Social Security.
posted by expriest
on Jan 2, 2005 -
"You know, Luke Skywalker was able to kill the Death Star with his beleaguered band of warriors, but I'm not sure that that's the model we should shoot for -- shoot the thing down the middle of the tube and hope it blows up the Death Star. We need to build our own answer to the Death Star.'' The beginning of the end for the Democratic Party, at least in name?
(And what will take its place? Is the Republic turning into the Empire?)
posted by Tlogmer
on Jul 26, 2004 -
Is the American left regrowing its backbone?
Kurtz: For hard-core libs who are angry about impeachment, Florida, the war, the budget deficit, the tax cuts, the "bring 'em on!" president, the Texas redistricting and the California recall, Dean and Franken, in different ways, provide a welcome sense of relief. Finally, someone out there who feels their pain! Politics as group therapy, maybe.
posted by skallas
on Sep 4, 2003 -
Get to know that name because you will likely be hearing it often in the coming months. The Governor of Vermont is currently the only Democratic presidential contender who has officially declared his candidacy. He is gaining press nationally and internationally as a potential breath of fresh air on the American political landscape. An interesting mix of liberal populism and traditional conservative fiscal responsibility, he is known to rub colleges from both sides of the ideological spectrum the wrong way. Regardless of your opinion on his politics, do you think this man have a shot? Do the proverbial square pegs in the Democratic and GOP round holes ever stand a chance? Will the Bush and Gore juggernauts forever push differing ideas into the realm of third parties or is there room for descent from within?
posted by EmoChild
on Aug 27, 2002 -