Monday, April 30, 2012


In an opinion piece in The Washington Post, formerly considered a liberal rag and now editorially conservative, two men have stated the obvious. It's titled "Let's Just Say It: The Republicans Are The Problem," and one of its authors, Norman Ornstein, is a well-known conservative, who works for the well-known conservative think tank, American Enterprise Institute. The other is Thomas E. Mann, who works for the more liberal Brookings Institution.

You can access the first couple of pages through the above link, but to read the whole piece, you need to sign up for free access. Suffice it to say, it's everything I've ever said here, with the advantage of being in a widely-read outlet. It will NOT, of course, make any damn difference at all, despite the fact that it'll no doubt be widely read and commented upon. Because, as I've said and as the article acknowledges (and which is as obvious as a saddle on a dinosaur), the current Republican Party has no interest in meaningful discussion, nor in actual facts.

We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.
The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.
When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.

What happened? Of course, there were larger forces at work beyond the realignment of the South... But the real move to the bedrock right starts with two names: Newt Gingrich and Grover Norquist.


Today, thanks to the GOP, compromise has gone out the window in Washington. ... Republicans in the Senate have abused the confirmation process to block any and every nominee to posts such as the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, solely to keep laws that were legitimately enacted from being implemented.


Republicans often dismiss nonpartisan analyses of the nature of problems and the impact of policies when those assessments don’t fit their ideology...
...This attitude filters down far deeper than the party leadership. Rank-and-file GOP voters endorse the strategy that the party’s elites have adopted, eschewing compromise to solve problems and insisting on principle, even if it leads to gridlock. Democratic voters, by contrast, along with self-identified independents, are more likely to favor deal-making over deadlock.
No doubt, Democrats were not exactly warm and fuzzy toward George W. Bush during his presidency. But recall that they worked hand in glove with the Republican president on the No Child Left Behind Act, provided crucial votes in the Senate for his tax cuts, joined with Republicans for all the steps taken after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and supplied the key votes for the Bush administration’s financial bailout at the height of the economic crisis in 2008. The difference is striking.
If our democracy is to regain its health and vitality, the culture and ideological center of the Republican Party must change. In the short run, without a massive (and unlikely) across-the-board rejection of the GOP at the polls, that will not happen. If anything, Washington’s ideological divide will probably grow after the 2012 elections.


... If the political dynamics of Washington are unlikely to change anytime soon, at least we should change the way that reality is portrayed to the public.
Our advice to the press: Don’t seek professional safety through the even-handed, unfiltered presentation of opposing views. Which politician is telling the truth? Who is taking hostages, at what risks and to what ends?
Also, stop lending legitimacy to Senate filibusters by treating a 60-vote hurdle as routine...
Look ahead to the likely consequences of voters’ choices in the November elections. How would the candidates govern? What could they accomplish? What differences can people expect from a unified Republican or Democratic government, or one divided between the parties?

In just a few pages, the authors have hit on virtually every theme of my writings here: Republican intransigence, abuse of Senate rules, ignoring of facts; the laziness of the press; the skewed perception of what's really going on; the inherent dangers if it goes on much longer. Sadly, they seem also to share my pessimism that voters, already irreversibly brainwashed (my words), will wake to the reality and the danger and vote the motherfuckers out of office (also my words, one of which is getting more and more literally true, politico-economically speaking). From both sides of the political spectrum, they've seen and reported on the obvious: neither party is blameless, but the Rs have gone totally off the rails (a tired expression they use in the article), because of which we're headed toward disaster.

Democracy is built and depends upon two central platforms: a well-informed electorate (and legislative bodies!) and compromise. Of late, as undeniable as that the age of the earth is billions of years and that homosexuality is not a choice, one party has firmly and absolutely rejected both. We can't survive this way. The authors, conservative and liberal, see it, and have recounted it convincingly. Sadly, though, reading comments at the end of the piece, appearing as they do in a now right-wing rag (editorially speaking), makes it clear as unpolluted water that their words are already falling on deaf ears, dismissed reflexively (comments over at free republic are, as expected, even worse). Because if today's Republicans were capable of processing such information, the article would never have needed writing, and we wouldn't be on the brink of extinction.


Frank Drackman said...

Sid, Newspapers???
OK, I know your Vic-trola sounds better than CD, Telegrams are better than e-mails for informing the families of the 1,217 Servicemen who have died since President Al Green assumed the throne, and TV News was better when you only had Walter Cronkite for 22 minutes (and if you missed it, too bad)
Balls, the DemoKKKrats have none.
Except for that Pelosi Broad, I like her.
Thats why No RepubicKKKlowns voted for the "Affordable" Health Care law, which is "Affordable" in the way my daughters private schools were "Affordable". i.e. they cost less than a divorce.
And why there's more troops in Iraq/Afghanistan than when "W" took over, and why taxes haven't gone up, except on smoking tanners...
But Newspapers, why not something more relevant, like MC Hammer...


Sid Schwab said...

Well, Frankie, it's sorta obvious that the article is online. Computer stuff; that's why there's what we call a hot link to it. That's where I read it; and you can, too.

But that's not the reason I bring it up. New policy, Frank: if you can't come up with something relevant to the point of the post, and if you can't refrain from saying the same old stuff over and over, it's likely your comments won't make it to cyberspace.

Much as I appreciate having at least one comment on most of my posts, it's starting to seem, based on emails I get, that your shtick is actually preventing others from joining in. Imagine that!!

So try using your estimable wit in the service of the subject. Who knows? It might even counter the effects of the gas. Thinking is good for the brain, so they say. Try it. Foreign as it is to right wingers, you might even like it.

Frank Drackman said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sid Schwab said...

The point, Frank, isn't about expunging dissent: it's that your stuff is just babbling. In fact, the problem around here is that when people argue with me, whether in your off-point nonsensical way, or by attempting actually to engage, after a time they give up when they find pushback and pointing out why they're factually wrong too much to handle.

I love engaging the argument when it's a serious conversation. It's happened here, rarely, and when it does, I'd say I respond respectfully and enthusiastically. Sadly, although your style is just "la la la I can't hear you," even when people address what I actually said, it seems to be hard to refute it with facts.

It's a microcosm, in other words, of the current D and R divide.

Anonymous said...

Actually Sid,

I see benefit from allowing him to babble - let him babble - to show the world what underlies the gaseous brain farts produced by so-called conservatives.

Frank is a microcosm of all that is awful with Right Wing Screamers, so I examine Frank's excretions as a physician might view the grisly, but necessary, autopsy of a diseased brain.

He is the epitome, the poster child, of all the points you have made on this blog regarding fanatic faux patriots, scizocristics and outright Nazis that are dragging us, and the world in general, down.

And now, even the members of the American Enterprise Institute and The Washington post are forced to look at the monster they created.

Where would medicine be today if practitioners recoiled from dissections that revealed the nature of the disease?

If it is true that the smell drives serious posters away, that is regrettable, because, in Aesop's tale of The Eagle and the Arrow, the eagle itself provides the feather that fletched the arrow that finally killed the eagle.

As with the Moral of Aesops Fable: they give us the means for their own destruction.

Awful as they are, we need to look at these people.

If we refuse to look at the disease, how can we defeat it?


Sid Schwab said...

Fair enough, Eugene. It's a dilemma. I've mostly felt what you express, but I've heard from more than one reader that it's a major turnoff, and a reason neither to read nor to comment.

On the other hand, I suppose his comments that are just the usual babble, and not personal attacks at other commenters, some of which I've deleted in advance, do serve the purpose you mention. And, as you'd agree, there are those quite happy to engage him.

I don't mean to kibosh Frank altogether, as he's been a long-time reader and is, at the very least, occasionally pretty witty. But, even without the input I've received, I find repetitiveness sort of repetitive.

Anonymous said...

I agree that Frank is often distracting, offensive and only occasionally (sort-of) funny.

Your efforts to enlighten and elucidate should not be impeded, nor others put off from discussion by his rude repartee. But--both probably occur as a result of his blather. As a visitor here, I vote that he show a minimum of courtesy for what is discussed on YOUR blog space and if he cannot, then delete his missives.

Since I am fairly new to the blog-o-sphere I don't know all the rules; but it seems reasonable to expect that intolerant,impolite people are as unattractive on the internet as in "real life".

Anonymous said...

Dr. S,
I'm going to try to stay on topic today by bringing up a "thoughtful" conservative.

I just finished reading The New American Economy by Bruce Bartlett, who I was introduced to through your salivating, foot stomping, yet occasionally informative mark on the intrawebs.

The book was a great read and clarified the utility of various economic schools of thought based on the specific situation.

Interestingly, he recommends a VAT (basically a consumption tax) as a way of securing revenue for the welfare state, which he correctly states "isn't going away."

On top of that, today I also read a letter from Jefferson to Madison that favors a progressive consumption tax.

I think it's time both sides start working together to find a way to raise the revenues to meet our future obligations without destroying entrepreneurship or the incentive to work.


Sid Schwab said...

You and me both, PT.

My foot-stomping is only because it's become impossible; and, as is made clear in this post, the fault lies elsewhere. I wouldn't be writing this stuff it if weren't true; same as the article in question. In their case, people are actually reading and talking about it. Over here, it's just me pissing into the wind, wishing it could make a few people stop and think.

AlisonH said...

Thank you for linking to that article at my hometown paper. Link by link, the word needs to get out there.

When my grandfather was in the Senate, starting in the early 1950s and going on for four terms, one moved one's family to DC upon election and one attended social engagements with one's peers there. My grandmother wrote in her autobiography her surprise at being expected to call on the household of each more senior Senator's home and to greet their wives (always wives then) with white gloves, a hat, and presenting one's personal calling card.

I remember going to Senate family parties as a kid. And the point of my saying all this is, you didn't demonize someone whose family you knew, who was your personal friend off the floor. You might skewer their policies, but the famous "collegiality of the Senate" was a very real thing.

These people need to go out to dinner together. Just sayin'. Maybe we could host them a barbecue or something--better than roasting each other.

Cory said...

What a pleasure to read today. Sanity and rationality abound. I particularly enjoyed PT's thoughtful comment, and am inclined to give more time and credence to future comments. My coffee is not so bitter this morning, neither is my favorite blog.

Sid Schwab said...

P.T.: you might be interested in the latest from your new hero (and mine), in which he says, among other things:

"The reason that unemployment is high clearly has nothing to do with taxes. Consequently, there is no reason to think that reducing taxes further will do anything to raise employment by reducing the tax wedge.

Additional evidence on this point comes from a new study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on taxes paid by average workers in its 34 member countries... (there's a chart included in his article)...

...The latest Republican tax cut proposal, to reduce taxes for all businesses with fewer than 500 employees, no matter how profitable or big in other respects, would be in effect for only one year.

This is a key reason that the Republicans’ own committee report (see Page 20) said the legislation would have a negligible effect on employment.

There is simply no evidence that cutting taxes at the present time will do anything to raise employment."

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