“The Congressional directory now reads like a casebook of lunacy”

There are a number of reasons to read this entire article–Republican Mike Lofgren’s explanation of why the TeaParty convinced him to leave his congressional staffer position after 30 years: the pithy descriptions of Republican nut-jobs (like the quote I’ve taken for my title, which he uses to describe Steve King, Michele Bachman, Paul Broun, Patrick McHenry, Virginia Foxx, Louie Gohmert, and Allen West), the accurate description of the corporate-purchased impotence of the Democratic party, and the description of how today’s Republican party puts party above the good of the country.

But I was particularly struck by this tie between normative behavior–collegiality and good faith–and the functioning of our democracy.

It should have been evident to clear-eyed observers that the Republican Party is becoming less and less like a traditional political party in a representative democracy and becoming more like an apocalyptic cult, or one of the intensely ideological authoritarian parties of 20th century Europe. This trend has several implications, none of them pleasant.

In his “Manual of Parliamentary Practice,” Thomas Jefferson wrote that it is less important that every rule and custom of a legislature be absolutely justifiable in a theoretical sense, than that they should be generally acknowledged and honored by all parties. These include unwritten rules, customs and courtesies that lubricate the legislative machinery and keep governance a relatively civilized procedure. The US Senate has more complex procedural rules than any other legislative body in the world; many of these rules are contradictory, and on any given day, the Senate parliamentarian may issue a ruling that contradicts earlier rulings on analogous cases.

The only thing that can keep the Senate functioning is collegiality and good faith. During periods of political consensus, for instance, the World War II and early post-war eras, the Senate was a “high functioning” institution: filibusters were rare and the body was legislatively productive. Now, one can no more picture the current Senate producing the original Medicare Act than the old Supreme Soviet having legislated the Bill of Rights.

Far from being a rarity, virtually every bill, every nominee for Senate confirmation and every routine procedural motion is now subject to a Republican filibuster. Under the circumstances, it is no wonder that Washington is gridlocked: legislating has now become war minus the shooting, something one could have observed 80 years ago in the Reichstag of the Weimar Republic. As Hannah Arendt observed, a disciplined minority of totalitarians can use the instruments of democratic government to undermine democracy itself.

Among other things, it describes why I never supported filibuster reform: Not because I like the filibuster or the Senate’s other structurally undemocratic features. But because attempting to tweak the filibuster just ignores the root cause of our problems, that Republicans have given up the norms that keep our democracy working and serve, however imperfectly, to achieve the best outcome for the country.

As Lofgren notes, this nihilistic approach serves an explicit Republican strategy.

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.

But it destroys the country in the process.

Lofgren doesn’t quite say it, but it seems the logical conclusion of this state of affairs (barring a resurgence of Democratic values and spine and a new skepticism on the part of the press) is the collapse of the country, leaving just the corporatists and their Bible thumping puppets behind.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

83 replies
  1. Brian Silver says:

    Unfortunately I have to agree with just about everything Lofgren has to say. I would add, however, the years and years of effort by the economic right to undermine collective bargaining, to lock GOP candidates into “no tax increase” pledges (else they be “primaried”), and to limit the franchise. And they won a big one with the Citizens United case.

    I would add another term here, “tyranny of the majority.” It’s not just, as Hannah Arendt is quoted in this article as saying, that a disciplined totalitarian minority can use democratic institutions to their advantage, but that a disciplined majority can use their majority to take rights away from the minority.

    It’s this tyranny that came clearly to the fore after 2010. The attack on voting rights, which of course the GOP has fought for a long time, came into the open with the “GOP War on Voting” (Ari Berman’s phase). This is an effort to use “majority rule” to take rights away from even a temporary minority — to deny the right to vote.

    The attack on collective bargaining — also far from a new attack — isn’t an effort to address public finance but to weak the ability to mobilize liberal votes.

  2. Doug says:

    logical conclusions: everyone will read this and draw logical conclusions (except the redstate nutjobs who will pretend it’s not there) mine is: if you add up the minorities on both sides that have the problem correctly diagnosed, solutions will be easy – voting out or defunding the wall st/ chamber/dc oligarchs. but if anything both sides are more apart and being played. I’d be curious to see people pushing past the logical conclusion matrix, and ask our ‘leaders’ to get out of the way, and let people do what needs to be done.

  3. sojourner says:

    That is a fascinating piece! It provides a lot of information that I have had a difficult time wrapping my head around…

    I have to wonder, though, as I wondered throughout the Bush years, who is it that gets everyone to walk in lock-step? In other words, who figures out these strategies that make our so-called “representatives” succumb to them? It is like the wizard behind the curtain in the “Wizard of Oz.”

    At some point, I suspect each party/faction/whatever will begin eating themselves and cause their own destruction. The trouble is, they will destroy all of us…

  4. Bill Hicks says:

    Germany didn’t collapse when Hitler came to power. It took a world alliance and violence almost beyond comprehension and quite a bit of good luck (take your pick, Hitler attacks Russia before he mops up the West, Hitler diverts essential forces to Yogoslavia, Hitler chooses to defend Italy’s pathetic war in Africa, Hitler allows Dunkirk to succeed, Japan attacks Pearl Harbor in 1941… the list is endless). Unless the US under Perry christofascism decides to militarily attack too many other countries, or the wrong ones, who’s going to stem the tide. And of course Germany and Japan were “saved” at the cost of turning them to rubble (atomic rubble in the case of Japan) first.

  5. MadDog says:

    When discovered, the log of the Titanic read like the craziest thing you could ever imagine:

    “10:00 PM 14 April 1912 – Most of ship’s crew agitating for steering directly at iceberg.

    10:15 PM 14 April 1912 – Some of ship’s officers try explaining to crew that steering directly at iceberg will cause a collision and sink the Titanic.

    10:30 PM 14 April 1912 – Most of ship’s crew berate ship’s officers and insist the only successful course must be steering directly at iceberg.

    11:00 PM 14 April 1912 – Ship’s Captain pleads with most of ship’s crew to at least allow slower speed while steering directly at iceberg.

    11:15 PM 14 April 1912 – Most of ship’s crew threatens to throw ship’s Captain, officers, and all passengers overboard unless ship’s Captain orders “Full Speed Ahead!”

    11:30 PM 14 April 1912 – Ship’s Captain surrenders to most of ship’s crew and orders “Full Speed Ahead!” while steering directly at iceberg. But ship’s Captain suggests that ship’s officers begin running to lifeboats with hair on fire.

    11:39 PM 14 April 1912 – Most of ship’s crew celebrating. “We got 98% of what we wanted. We’re happy!”

    11:40 PM 14 April 1912 – Price of life preservers goes through roof. Lifeboats unaffordable at any price. Most of ship’s crew nowhere to be found. Rumor has it that most of ship’s crew had rejected swimming lessons as “Socialism!”

  6. P J Evans says:

    @Bill Hicks:
    All they have to do is convince enough people that government doesn’t work, so those people stay home on election days.

    They’re getting laws passed that make it harder for people to vote, and those laws are aimed at minorities and the poor; next, I’m sure, will be laws aimed at taking the vote away from women. When voting is limited to people they approve of, what do you think they’ll be able to do?

  7. Meadows says:

    Don’t underestimate the unholy alliance of AIPAC and the apocalyptic christofascists. To the end-times addled bible thumpers apocalypse is necessary and inevitable in order to clean house for Jesus. Collapse is good!

    Zionists, with their war on Muslims, and their homeland as the center of historical Christianity, make good allies with these nutjobs and their crusades.

    It’ a deal with the devil that many congresscritters are willing to make…. take the AIPAC cash, support the racist rightwing Knesset and when the Middle East implodes only Jesus and the chosen few will be left standing.

  8. Cregan says:

    As Obama and the Democrats get continually “beaten” by toothless hillbillies coming down from the hills, the explanations for such get wilder and wilder.

    One great, unexamined explanation is that the Democrats are “beating” themselves.

    The best example being the baloney about the timing of the speech on jobs. The White House KNEW the contemplated speech conflicted with the already scheduled debate. They knew it would piss off the GOP. But, the couldn’t resist the idea that they could be so clever and make the GOP candidates look small or whatever other advantage they thought they could gain from such a move.

    It blew up in their face. And, as a junior, junior league move, they deserved the ash an powder on their faces.

    Obama and Dems had tremendous public goodwill and even quite a bit from the GOP when they began at the end of 2008.

    But, hubris was much too tempting. they thought they could run rough-shod over the GOP and in REAL, practical terms, left them OUT of anything to do with the stimulus and the health care bill.

    So, they designed bills that they knew the GOP were not going to like, generating the votes against etc.

    But, that also blew up in their faces with a stimulus that flopped and and HCR that ended up pleasing no one, right or left, and is still held in low esteem by the general public.

    Then, it REALLY blew up in their faces in Nov. 2010.

    Oddly, as we all know, they decided to double down on the old strategy. And, the results are plain.

    Yes, they were encouraged by many who thought the solution to Nov. 2010 was more fighting and “standing up.”

    Another view is that some on the other side feel Obama is seriously off the mark with his policies and competence and determined that the driving wheel needed to be taken out of his hand before the car went out of the ditch and over the cliff.

    Rather that feeling they ought to sit by politely and watch the car they are traveling in too go nicely over the cliff, they decided on the above.

    That isn’t to say that THEY have to watch it and not make the same mistake Obama did.

  9. emptywheel says:

    @sojourner: I think it’s too simple to look for one explanation. It’s not JUST the Kochs dumping money in–though they are persistent, and powerful.

    I think you’d have to tell a different, nuanced story for each person in question, balancing self-interest (or narcissism), living in a bubble and therefore susceptible to the status quo, real ideological indoctrination, belated realization that the old way of cooperation doesn’t work. And money, always money.

  10. emptywheel says:

    @Bill Hicks: Oil.
    Climate crisis. Food.

    It was easier for Hitler to manage all those things. I don’t think it would be easy for President Perry to do so.

    And while he’d have better technologies of crowd control than Hitler did, I think he’d have a harder time giving it the gloss of legisimacy that Hitler’s mastery of mass media effected.

  11. SaltinWound says:

    Structurally undemocratic features is right. The fact that New York and California have as many Senators as the Dakotas makes the Senate seem crazy to me, even in the best case.

  12. person1597 says:

    What are republicans without their money-men?

    Clueless, rudderless and obsolete.

    What are democrats who ignore their constituents?

    Duplicitous, dysfunctional, defenstrated.

    Bottom line? More hostages, crash test dummies, and zombies meeting their makers.

    Nobody said democracy was pretty!

    (Given a choice, I still prefer a leader who uses full sentences.)

  13. emptywheel says:

    @Cregan: Really not interested in defending Obama.

    But those policies you say the GOP was bound not to like?

    Often developed by the Heritage foundation (as the health care plan was). There’s really not much O did that wasn’t itself a GOP policy 5 years before. No wonder voters hate those policies.

    Stimulus as perhaps the one exception? Didn’t flop. Was too small, but worked, unlike austerity which is immediately choking our economy.

  14. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Cregan, you are free to claim that the timing of the POTUS speech was a political mess, but that doesn’t mean you are correct. I couldn’t give a hoot what Boehner and his SoundBitey legislata’ fanboys say.

    They’re a pack of deadbeats, because they don’t believe they have to pay their bills {see also: debt ceiling rumpus}.

    Their economic beliefs are from the late 1800s in the era of railroad construction and vast land grabs for timber and mining resources.

    They still blather crap about ‘ownership’, but anyone who saw the paper fortunes of the dot com era should roll their eyeballs when the GOP voices start yakking about ‘ownership’ — in a digital era confronting climate disruptions, a bunch of paper that is very likely fraudulent is not an appealing form of ‘ownership’, not matter what the tax break might be. After fraudclosure and fraud-based economic meltdown news -including securities! – view of ‘ownership’ is problematic. Can you say “Madoff”?!

    The GOP is exhibiting a level of nihilism and ego-driven politics that suggests they simply can’t adapt to larger social and economic shifts. They are marketing nostalgia as policy, and at some point their ineptitude will be exposed.

    It’s the psychology of the GOP that really scares me.
    Their policies are 19th century and they seem to want to live on Gilligan’s Island. So we have a group of nihilists, who all believe they’re more special than the rest of us, who prefer meltdown to cooperation. That’s nuts.

  15. Cregan says:

    @readerOfTeaLeaves:

    I love how the poster’s pendulum swings back and forth between the GOP being a bunch of stupid people, barely able to read and criminal masterminds–depending on what fits the need at that moment.

    As I said., the explanations for toothless hillbillies continually beating the Dems keeps getting more and more wild.

  16. bmaz says:

    @Cregan: RoTL did not say anything about “toothless hillbillies”, what the heck are you pulling with this straw man putting words in her mouth crap? You know what Republicans consistently really are? Dishonest shills for devastating policies benefitting the rich and powerful. You are tracking the path just fine with your bullshit.

  17. JohnLopresti says:

    congratulations to bmaz for @19 elucidativeness.

    My offTopic is a link to a description of how paper balloting began to see some form of government oversight around the epoch of one of Grover Cleveland’s discontinuous presidencies file size 320kb. There are some passages in that offTopic’s file’s description of the history of political parties which are reminiscent of the opsis of teaParty in american argot.

    Apologies to a few readers who have seen that link before. The file is dated fairly recently, in summer 2011.

  18. P J Evans says:

    I read that the WH did, in fact, let Boehner know in advance that they wanted to have a joint session on Wednesday, and that Boehner didn’t object at the time. Which means that the Rs are lying. Again. Or still.

    Also the President does, under the constitution, have the ability to call Congress into joint session if he so wishes, and Congress does not have veto power over that.

  19. rg says:

    @Cregan:Re: “…toothless hillbillies coming down from the hills…”.

    This example of hateful snobbery reminds me of Barbara Bush’s remark upon surveying the plight of refugees packed into a football stadium: “Some of them never had it so good”.

    If you have a quarrel with the views of the toothless, I suggest you confine your remarks to them and spare the incivility, which by the way. was a major point, not only of EW’s post, but of the interesting, linked article

  20. rg says:

    EW Thank you for linking to Lofgren’s article. Not being a professional blogreader, I would have missed this provacative one. I must note,though, that 30 years is a long time to spend in that pool, if the waters are so fetid.

  21. Garrett says:

    Lofgren doesn’t quite say it, but it seems the logical conclusion of this state of affairs (barring a resurgence of Democratic values and spine and a new skepticism on the part of the press) is the collapse of the country,

    The feedback loop and correlation of political polarization, political gridlock, and concentration of wealth says the same thing.

    Here’s some snapshots of the polarization in Congress across time. The ideological scores are from voteview.

    111th House. The parties are very highly divided.
    88th House (1963-64). The parties are less divided. On the horizontal (economic) dimension, Republicans and Democrats overlap quite a bit in the center.
    74th House (1935-35). The parties are less divided still. They intermingle a bit.

    Gridlock and Republican obstruction drive concentration of wealth. Concentration of wealth drives political polarization. Political polarization drives further concentration of wealth. And around we go.

    Republicans will just keep getting worse. Until the whole system crashes entirely. Or until we manage to fix economic policy.

  22. person1597 says:

    OK, here’s some Big Heresy to hasten the apocalypse…

    Living from day to day is very simple. There is no point thinking of bringing about a change in you, or in the world. The world is something that cannot be different.

  23. Cregan says:

    @emptywheel:

    What I said applied to the Democrats and Obama, not just Obama.

    If those policies you mentioned were really exactly what the GOP liked and wanted, why did the Dems totally block them out–including many, such as my Dem rep, making it impossible for GOP constituents to voice any disagreements? I doubt the Heritage Foundation came out with a 2,000 page bill.

    Fact is, it was mostly a bill that NEITHER side of constituents liked.

    The stimulus will be argued about for decades. Whether too little or too much, it certainly created nothing of lasting result. The Krugman School of Economics is ingenious as it cannot be proven wrong in any way. No matter what is spent, if it fails, the old K can just say it wasn’t enough. Ingenious. Trillions in money spent on anti-poverty programs and the poverty rate is still the same. Reason? It needed to be quadrillions, not trillions.

  24. Cregan says:

    @P J Evans:

    Just like a WH aide confirmed that indeed Obama added $400 million in tax hikes at the last minute to the “grand” bargain–and then they pulled that concept to re-state that Boehner had just pulled out, same is true of the Wednesday speech.

    All indications are that they informed a Boehner aide who never said “OK” and then issued their press release. Fact is, they were either stupidly ill-informed and didn’t know about the scheduled debate, or, as I said, thought they were clever by half.

    It was a very junior league, amateur move and it blew up in their face.

    They are beating themselves. They have no to blame.

    Same as in the so called grand bargain deal. They had some agreement on the $800 million revenue increase, then, the gang of six came out with a plan–which had nothing to do with anything really–that had a bit more revenue increase, so the WH, according to their own statements the day it happened, thought, “Well, we should ask for more now since the gang of six had more.” So, they asked for $400 million more that day. The deal blew up again in their face.

    Another amateur move.

    They could have increased the debt limit in December when they had the numbers in Congress. And, on and on. All self inflicted.

    Again, get the story straight; are the GOP stupid bumbling no nothings who can’t even tie their shoes, or diabolical masterminds.

    It’s neither; the Democrats, not all, but led by Obama, have repeatedly shot themselves in the foot. It is a wonder they have a foot left.

  25. Cregan says:

    @bmaz:

    Bmaz you are eloquent. The toothless hillbillies coming down out of the hills is kind of the image progressives try to pin on the GOP–as well as the alternate, as you did, of basically being criminal masterminds.

    As i said, when it is convenient, the GOP is portrayed as stupid people who don’t know anything about anything and are just backwards.

    At other times, when it fits the case, they are diabolical schemers who seem to be outwitting their opponents right and left.

    My point is that neither is true. The Democrats have caused their own misery by their own mistakes. If they had a competent leader, they’d be running circles around the GOP.

    They could have ruled the roost, but they weren’t smart about it, and they are paying the price. And, you, being a part of their base, are paying the price along with them.

  26. bmaz says:

    @Cregan: I did nothing of the sort; you are again putting words I did not speak in my mouth and using them to create your own vignette, one completely disingenuous as to what I said. Here is my operative sentence, and it bears no relation to what you portrayed:

    “Dishonest shills for devastating policies benefitting the rich and powerful.”

  27. Cregan says:

    @rg:

    Your comment is quite odd and I don’t really understand it.

    I referred to the GOP as toothless hillbillies coming down from the hills–the view some Democrats hold of them. Or as another poster said, knuckle dragging neanderthals.

    My point is that the poster and article were part of a line of ever increasingly wild explanations for the spectacle of these supposed stupid people, the GOP, continually “beating” Obama and the Dems.

    My real point was that a much, much more simple explanation exists: The Democrats, as led by Obama have been beating themselves.

    Did you think that I was saying that Democrats are toothless hillbillies?? An interesting thought, but likely not true.

  28. Cregan says:

    @bmaz:

    OK, why don’t you address the main point I made, instead of side issues?

    If the Democrats were being competently led, they’d be running circles around the GOP–not the other way around.

    No need for complicated explanations.

  29. MadDog says:

    @Cregan:

    “…If the Democrats were being competently led, they’d be running circles around the GOP–not the other way around…”

    Gibberish! Pure unadulterated gibberish!

    Just how is it that you believe the Repugs are running circles around anyone?

    Other than by acting (and being) crazier than shithouse rats?

    Are you serious?

    Name one single thing the Repugs have done in the last few years that has been the best for our nation.

    And no, there is no need for complicated explanations.

    Democrats may have indeed been craven cowards, but the Repugs are truly batshit crazy!!!

  30. MadDog says:

    @Cregan: And btw, don’t bother us with your “defend the Democrats” strawman BS.

    Instead, defend your batshit crazy Repugs that Mike Lofgren’s piece so accurately describes.

  31. Cregan says:

    @bmaz:

    Maybe I misunderstood. Are you saying that you DON’T think GOP members are less intelligent than the Democrats?

    I’ve been hearing it for so many years from so many people, here and other places, I just assumed you thought they same thing. Maybe I was wrong.

    People, not you, the article writer referred to in the post(not EW), have difficulty being beaten by people they think are less intelligent than they are, so they need to come up with far fetched and complicated explanations why that is.

    The simple explanation escapes them. But, in this case, as in most, it is the best explanation and the one that will most easily lead to a reversal of their bad fortunes.

    Rather than needing all kinds of constitutional changes or rule changes or masses of people to change–just act competently. That can be done quickly.

    From my perspective, if I was selfish, I’d rather they accept the complicated explanation and try to solve that. It will take lots of time, likely lead no where, and in the mean time, lead to more GOP wins.

    But, as you know, I’m not selfish and so tied to my own way of looking at things.

    Cut the complicated explanations, just get more competent, do it quick, and you won’t need “explanations.”

    And, listen, you KNOW it’s true. If Obama was acting competently he’d be running circles around the GOP.

  32. emptywheel says:

    @Cregan: You’re actually making Lofgren’s argument for him.

    yes, the republicans said they didn’t like this. They didn’t like a policy they pushed in the 1990s. What does that say?

    It says precisely what Lofgren said: they don’t care about actual policy–or the good of the country. They care about increasing teh failure of our own govt.

  33. emptywheel says:

    @Cregan: Note there’s a huge difference between parliamentary competence and intelligence. Mitch McConnell is definately the former. If he is the latter, he doesn’t care to use his intelligence.

  34. MadDog says:

    @emptywheel: I hope Upton Sinclair will forgive my tweak:

    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary politics depends on his not understanding it.”

  35. MadDog says:

    @MadDog: Or perhaps even this alternative tweak:

    “It is difficult to get a man to understand do something when his salary depends on his not understanding doing it.”

  36. P J Evans says:

    @emptywheel:
    The Republicans loved these policies when they were proposed by St Ronny. I figure the difference is the ‘D’ after O’s name and his skin color, since those are the only real changes from their nominal patron.

  37. orionATL says:

    the dem party has needed cleansing of corporate-kissing dems – most particularly in the u.s. senate – for a long time.

    good news:

    23 of 33 senatorial seats up for election in 2012 are held by dems.

    this maybe the chance we dems have been waiting for.

    sleazy dems get defeated;goof-ball republicans get elected.

    then the goof-balls get picked off.

    it’s a long-term matter, regretably, and our nation may be so far behind europe and asia by the time we get rid of the corporate-foot-kissing dems and jesus/grover-foot-kissing repugnants that we cannot recover.

    there’s a short cut though. business leaders could conceivably wake up and begin to act politically on the side on which side their bread is really buttered.

    hint to you $100 million/yr babies,

    it’s called consumer demand and it’s seriously imperilled at the moment.

    just how long do you bonus-babies think you can sit tight on your corporations’ hoards of gold?

  38. orionATL says:

    @MadDog:

    actually, maddog, cregan is entirely correct in his quote.

    if the dems were competently lead, they would indeed be running circles around the repugnants.

    but they are not competently led, not the tee-niniest bit.

    they are led by an inexperienced, amoral fool without an iota of regard for his nation or its future.

  39. MadDog says:

    @orionATL: Sorry my friend, but I don’t subscribe to the view that just because the Democrats are incompetent (and I don’t disagree with that viewpoint), that somehow the Repugs acting and being crazy therefore is the Democrats’ fault.

    These are two separate issues. That they intersect at times is a fact, but one isn’t the cause of the other.

    In addition, from personal experience, competence in a person or persons doesn’t necessarily mean that one can fix, help, stop, cure, etc. crazy folks.

    What I most object to in Cregan’s diatribes is the false causation argument and blame that the crazy Repugs being crazy is the Democrats’ fault.

  40. orionATL says:

    your larger point is well-taken (dems not responsible…).

    my comment was limited to the quote from cregan you cited.

    what cregan actually had in mind i don’t know or care;

    what he wrote that you cited is, taken literally as i did, in fact the case.

    had the president and the party’s congressional leaders in jan 2009 determined to open a new page in america’s history, listed america’s (figurative) assets and debits, called for support for a reinvigoration of america and its core calues,

    then dems would now be the strong
    majority party in every branch but the judiciary.

    that did not happen; the clueless, power-loving, moral coward barrack obama is largely, though not entirely, responsible for that failure and the current weakness of the dem party.

    starting in jan, 2009 the dems began immediately to waste a god-given opportunity and do themselves in by trying, as they are so often want to do, to sneak into power by avoiding conflict.

    2 1/2 yrs later, we are left with a sad “what might have been” and a weak dem party at a time when the nation desparetly needs a strong dem party.

  41. P J Evans says:

    @MadDog:
    Truth. The Rs have been getting farther and farther out for years. Remember when we thought Goldwater was a nutcase? His views are now close to the Democratic center. St Ronny is the right wing of the Ds now. And the entire left wing, all the traditional Ds, is invisible to the party leaders, except as nuisances.

  42. Cregan says:

    @MadDog:

    Listen, no one said whether the acts of the GOP were good or bad. It would be a waste of time to debate such here.

    But, I see a lot of complaining on this and FDL about the GOP getting the best of the Dems on many issues.

    Maybe, the writers were trying to say, “The Dems got everything they wanted, all is great, and I still don’t like how the GOP got the best of them on this issue.” I don’t think that is what they meant.

    The funny thing is why is someone writing an article on reasons why the GOP is getting it way or blocking “everything” Obama wants to do if that he doesn’t think that’s happening.

    Again, the only thing I am saying is that if the Democrats would quit shooting themselves in the foot, it wouldn’t matter what the GOP does or says.

  43. MadDog says:

    @orionATL: I agree that the Democrats’ political skills are atrocious, and Obama’s political skills are in the bottom 10% of those.

    Conflict avoidance is one of the many Democrats’ failings.

    That said, I still stand on the point that even with competence, one could not necessarily, and perhaps cannot, get crazy people like the Repugs to stop doing and saying crazy things.

    For my entire life there has been craziness to the Repug party that defies a rational explanation.

  44. Cregan says:

    @emptywheel:

    Again, Ron Paul is a member of the GOP, but that doesn’t mean the entire party supports what he says. Rommny, the same.

    First, I don’t really think what ACTUALLY got passed in the HCR law was like anything the BULK of the GOP proposed or was in favor of. A few bits here and there maybe, a principle here and there maybe.

    All I can say is I never liked the bill’s proposals before 1990, during the 90’s and after the 90’s. And whatever the principles, they were messed up royally by a ton of extraneous baloney tacked on in the 2000 pages. I never knew anyone else who supported it.

    Me personally, I think you have to go single payer or total competition in every state of every insurance company and cut the ambulance chasers to a reasonable role. Not driving doctors and equipment companies to order tons of unneeded tests and backups, etc.

    I would for sure go with single payer if it was 1. take the entire medical bill in the US for the last year, 2. divide by the population. and, 3. that’s your premium. And, have a central payment org.

    You have to be all in or all out. Of course, the above is simplified and “back of the envelope” put out to make a point–not specify the details of how it would work.

  45. MadDog says:

    @P J Evans: Yeah, accomodating Repug crazies has been a Democratic party platform item for years now.

    As in “If we just throw the dog a bone it won’t bite us.”

  46. Cregan says:

    @orionATL:

    It is very rewarding as a writer to find that your point gets across even in a case someone doesn’t care or know what you had in mind.

    You DID get exactly what I was meaning, and the point I was making is the exactly the one you made in the last 2/3’s of your post.

    That is the only point I was making.

  47. MadDog says:

    @Cregan: Agree on single payer!

    Everybody in the pool (like Social Security) and nobody gets to profit from a purely administrative role like private insurers do today.

    Having once worked at a “non-profit” Blue Cross (admittedly in an IT role), I can assure all that there was a corporate culture and mindset that went basically something like this:

    Our job is not to pay claims. Rather our job is NOT to pay claims.

    With an employee base numbering in the thousands, this Blue Cross (and others I know of second-hand) had a VP to Employee ratio of 1 to 20 or so. And each VP was provided a free company car. So much for the “non-profit” kabuki.

    I won’t even begin to tell you the multiple millions of dollars in IT boondoggles that were the norm.

    I’m not suggesting, nor do I think that you are suggesting, that any purely bureaucratic function is always efficient, but that’s a different matter than the wisdom of a single payer “cost-only” administrative function.

  48. orionATL says:

    @bmaz:

    oh come on bmaz.

    you have a 16 yr old child and you expect us to believe you remember annette funicello?

    who are you – methusela?

  49. MadDog says:

    @Cregan: Well, we’re going to have to agree to fundamentally disagree on this.

    I’m still standing on the point that regardless of Democratic competence or not, we’ve got a real fookin’ problem with the craziness that is the Repug party.

  50. A Conservative Teacher says:

    Who is Mike Logafan and what elected office at the national office does he hold? Has he written major legislation that has been enacted into policy? Did he make important decisions that we can judge with numbers and data over the past several years? Or he is just some local who claims to be a disillusioned GOPer and you idiots suck it up?

  51. MadDog says:

    @A Conservative Teacher: I see your reading comprehension still sucks.

    You might try this: Mike Lofgren
    :

    Mike Lofgren retired on June 17 after 28 years as a Congressional staffer. He served 16 years as a professional staff member on the Republican side of both the House and Senate Budget Committees.

    Or perhaps this from James Fallow:

    “…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…”

  52. A Conservative Teacher says:

    Never mind, I did my own research… Mike Lofgren retired making 140K/year as a staffer for the Senate Budget committee (not ‘on the GOP side’)… he donated $750 to a GOP candidate back in 1992 but that was it… he was never elected to anything for the GOP and never played any role in creating policy for the GOP. He’s a nobody bureaucrat who made a lot of money on taxpayers backs producing phony numbers for both parties. His essay is worth nothing.

  53. MadDog says:

    @A Conservative Teacher: It must play hell with your students if their teacher blindly ignores easily verifiable facts.

    Or do you only reward the students who do such sloppy work as yourself?

    Failure is a Conservative Teacher’s Success? Up is Down? Out is In? Wrong is Right?

  54. Bob Schacht says:

    @sojourner:
    I’m late to the party; didn’t know about the new thread. You wrote,
    “…who is it that gets everyone to walk in lock-step?…”

    I think you’re looking at the wrong end of the problem. The way you “get everyone to walk in lock-step” is to pick off everyone who is NOT in lock step. This has been happening more or less since Rockefeller (Nelson) was run out of the party by the Goldwater people. The “Reagan Doctrine” of not speaking ill of any other Republican has long since fallen aside.

    There are disturbing parallels, as Lofgren notes, with the Reichstag of the Weimar Republic.

    Bob in AZ

  55. Bob Schacht says:

    @Bill Hicks:
    “Unless the US under Perry christofascism decides to militarily attack too many other countries, or the wrong ones, who’s going to stem the tide.”

    Um, he doesn’t have to do that. Its already been done.

    Bob in AZ

  56. Morris Minor says:

    There are various types of rich&powerful. One type that is rather new is the profound power of bankers; they did not loot the German economy in the Weimar Republic. A couple of pots of poisoned money have corrupted the international banking system: old Nazi and Philipino gold (Yamashita’s Gold) and international drug money.

    The gold is cold; the Swiss banks who inherited the Nazi gold have way 60/70 years of malfeasance to disclose, and at least one person has said publicly that drug money kept the banks alive during the recent crash.

    Because the banks have so much more to hide than before, the institutional culture become so accustomed to covering up that it easily transferred over to mortgage lending.

    This created a class of bankers with huge personal fortunes and bankrupt banks to protect. The Gnomes of Zurich never screwed up like this.

  57. Sandy Untermyer says:

    @Bill Hicks: Actually, Hitler was incurably ill by the time the US entered into war against Germany (which was after Germany had declared war on us). In the end, if the US, Russia, and England had done nothing at all, Hitler would have died around the same date.

  58. emptywheel says:

    @Cregan: You may not really THINK it. BUt if so, you’d be wrong. The central premise–setting up a bunch of captive consumers for shitty insurance companies? That’s teh Heritage Foundation idea. The central organizing principle of the “reform.”

  59. emptywheel says:

    @A Conservative Teacher: He was a Professional Staff Member on the Senate Budget Committee since 2005. So that would make him significantly responsible for Bush’s last two budget deals, among other things, particularly the national security side of things.

    You can argue that the national security budget of a president running two forever wars is small potatoes–but that’s more money than the GDP of most countries.

  60. Cregan says:

    @MadDog:

    You see, your point illustrates the most basic problem at the heart of the situation.

    Many people feel that stopping Obama’s actions are in the best interests of the nation.

    You disagree with that.

    That’s fine.

    but, with many others, maybe not you, they go further. Like the old time KGB they equate opposing a political party’s action with insanity. “You oppose us, therefore, you must be insane.”

    The GOP doesn’t just have a view they disagree with; it’s got to be moronic, insane, repugnant, etc. etc.

    And, there is where the debate is. That’s the state of things.

    Now, I say all that knowing that you will come back and say something like, “Yeah, but they really are insane…”

    And, so it goes.

  61. MadDog says:

    @emptywheel: Mike Lofgren had an earlier Op-Ed this past June in the LA Times where he speaks directly to the points you’ve just made:

    <blockquote"Borrowing and spending the GOP way

    The big deficit facing the U.S. is mostly Republican in origin, the Congressional Budget Office says. The Bush tax cuts alone have added $3 trillion in red ink, yet the party wants to double down on its failed policy…”

  62. emptywheel says:

    @Cregan: I think we need to distinguish. Are Bachmann’s views outside not just the norm (both in how she treats democracy and what she claims to consider reasonable), but are the cognitive patterns she exhibits (which may or may not be performed) unbalanced? Yup. As are the others Lofgren lists: Steve King, Paul Broun, Patrick McHenry, Virginia Foxx, Louie Gohmert, and Allen West.

    But have people like Mitch McConnell, who is a legislative genius whatever his actual intelligence, capitalized on the radicalism and insanity of people like Bachmann to achieve very cynical political ends? Yup.

    And do those things, together, represent a huge threat to our country? Yup.

    The Dems are definitely not without blame here. But that doesn’t change the underlying equation of what the GOP are doing.

  63. earlofhuntingdon says:

    @A Conservative Teacher: What’s this? A pedagogical lesson in the use of “attacking the messenger” as a propaganda tool to distract from and indirectly attack the message, without having the facts to support a direct attack?

    Your nomme de blog suggests a background and professional attachment to the facts unsupported by the text of your comment. It rings more like a Labor Day diatribe against government workers specifically and workers generally, one like the old “a good week’s wages for a good day’s work” lament that’s rarely directed at the executive class. Would that today’s CEO’s only made $175K/year for all the “work” they do, about what a lobbyist might shell out in a day, and less than a successful fund raising dinner by either party might bring in.

    I would expect someone with Mr. Lufgren’s educational and professional background to earn as much as you disdain. It’s a pittance compared to the monies lavished on revolving door types, temporarily seconded from their seven-figure salaries in the private sector to ruin the lives of ordinary Americans by “serving” in the government for a short stint. The progeny of Antonin Scalia and Dick Cheney come to mind as glaring examples.

    If you really are a “teacher”, I should think you would have done more homework. If you’re a figment of some neocon’s software, I’d say the s/w needs a bit of tweaking. It’s as easy to spot as the early terminators.

  64. earlofhuntingdon says:

    @emptywheel: A point that bears repeating. Whatever the lamentable capitulation of the Democrats, they are still capitulating to a Republican Party you and Lofgren accurately describe. It yields a twisted figure out of a circus: all bent, muscular right arm; an emaciated left; and two legs so anemic the body can no longer stand.

  65. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Thanks to bmaz and JohnL for gallantry up around #19, #20.

    I don’t think that ‘most people’ believe it is normal or helpful to cut Social Security, let banks continue to loot, or deny jobs programs.

    I am not aware of anyone that I am in contact with who believes that it is acceptable to refuse to honor debts and refuse pay bills, as the GOP-Tea Partiers did in July. Those GOPers acted like a pack of deadbeats.

    That was disgraceful.
    But it revealed that they’ll sink the economy and the nation in order to win elections. They showed themselves to be incapable of compromise.

    And apparently, at least one of their own ex-staffers is completely fed up with their antics and sees the serious danger they pose to economic and political stability. When someone with such insider knowledge and expertise writes a piece like Lofgren’s, everyone should take it very seriously.

    This does not excuse the Dems, but it is important to be clear what they are up against.

  66. earlofhuntingdon says:

    @readerOfTeaLeaves: Many Dems must know what they are up against. They are still capitulating to it, letting the rest of us flounder while they stay in the good graces of Democratic leadership that has lost common interest with those who traditionally vote them into office and into power.

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