Political Animal


September 04, 2011 11:15 AM Mike Lofgren leaves ‘the cult’

By Steve Benen

Before this morning, I’d never heard of Mike Lofgren. But James Fallows explained that Lofgren recently retired from a lengthy career as an esteemed Capitol Hill staffer. Fallows characterized him as a respected, knowledgeable figure.

And with this in mind, it was rather striking to read the lengthy piece Lofgren wrote for Truth Out, published yesterday with this headline: “Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult.”

To be sure, this Republican aide is not at all a fan of Democrats. But he also believes “nothing … quite matches the modern GOP.”

To those millions of Americans who have finally begun paying attention to politics and watched with exasperation the tragicomedy of the debt ceiling extension, it may have come as a shock that the Republican Party is so full of lunatics…. The Congressional directory now reads like a casebook of lunacy. […]

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.

Let’s just note, again, that this isn’t the assessment of some wild-eyed lefty. The author is a long-time Republican aide, respected by those who’ve worked with him, who’s worked for nearly three decades with GOP policymakers.

And he’s convinced Republicans have succumbed to madness.

Also note Lofgren’s take on the contemporary Senate.

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. […]

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…. Undermining Americans’ belief in their own institutions of self-government remains a prime GOP electoral strategy [emphasis added]

Have I mentioned that Lofgren is a veteran Republican staffer who knows exactly what GOP policymakers are thinking because he’s worked with them closely every day for 28 years?

There is one great overwhelming dilemma that dominates American politics in this early part of the 21st century. It is not the extent to which President Obama has failed to meet the expectations of the progressive base, though this matters. It is not the lazy, negligent, and incompetent establishment media, though this matters, too. The issue that should dominate the landscape is the radicalization of the modern Republican Party and the effects of having one of two major political parties descend into madness.

For much of the American mainstream, there’s very likely an assumption that voters can choose between a center-left party and a center-right party, because this assumption was generally accurate for several generations. It’s past time for the mainstream to realize this is simply no longer true. Those who have any doubts should apparently talk to Mike Lofgren.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • TCinLA on September 04, 2011 11:28 AM:

    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.

    Indeed a spot-on analysis. Go Google "Weimar Republic final years" and look at what happened 1931-33, after the Nazis became the second-largest party in the Reichstag. They worked tirelessly to make everything in the legislative process not work, then went out in 1932 and 1933 and campaigned against the "ineffective" Reichstag and told the voters they could fix things if they were given the power. Sound familiar??

    As to the Judis analysis of no party being so radical since the Antebellum Southern Democrats, this also fits the larger analysis: go Google "Alexander Stevens' Cornerstone speech" and see how much of it (particularly the economics) reads like the modern Republican party.

    Nice to see people are finally figuring out who The Enemy is in America. Hopefully it's not too late, but I worry it is.

  • ManOutOfTime on September 04, 2011 11:28 AM:

    In other words, like the shock troops of any totalitarian regime, the GOP is a bunch of assholes. If the Hagels and Huntsmans of this world love their country, they will continue to stand up for the return if moderation and rationalism to their party - or leave it as Lofgren and so many "independent" voters have done. Personally, I think electoral decimation is the only hope to restoring the GOP as a loyal opposition. And Huntsman is a sell-out for whatever reasons drive whatever it is he wants to do. Which leaves Democrats as the center-right party in this country - two senators and eight representatives do not a left make - I don't think 2012 will be the bloodbath Repugs deserve and need. Maybe 2014 if the stars align.

  • zandru on September 04, 2011 11:33 AM:

    Undermining Democracy

    This is it, isn't it? From day 1, when Sainted Ronnie declared that "government is the enemy", people should have understood that the Republicans had become the enemy of democracy itself.

    You shouldn't elect folks like that.

    Most people still don't understand, and today's Democratic (sort of) Party isn't into education. They prefer polls of the ignorant, who have been "informed" primarily by rightwing-oriented media, to whom they can then pander unconvincingly.

    Americans who understand need to start making the effort to educate the vast majority who don't. That's us. Talk to your relatives and co-workers. When they repeat wingnut lies, explain how they're incorrect. Forward Steve Benen's analyses to the entire mailing list of like-minded right wingers that was on your crazy uncle's last anti-Obama blast.

    Like I keep saying, "the American People" is not somebody else. And politics is not a spectator sport.

    Frankly, it's life.

    Captcha sez: "ATurkeI WAR" - well, it's some kinda war...

  • Dean on September 04, 2011 11:34 AM:

    It's not a cult, it is fascism. And this is mid-evil Europe with a political party bent of reconstructing both the history of our country and the definitions of what is an 'American.' What I find chilling is to the degree the Republican party wants to harm the average citizen - be it lack of jobs, lack of health care and lack of respect to those that tirelessly work and find themselves falling further behind. A fascist class war.

    This is no longer about real issues, it is about misconceptions being hoisted in front of the American people by slanted media and politicians alike. Telling us lies to our face instead of the truth. Telling us their shit don't stink.

  • dalloway on September 04, 2011 11:36 AM:

    They are not "mad." This is a cold, calculated strategy to assume permanent power and destroy our democracy. The minute the Tea Party controls the government, voting rights will be severely curtailed, all social programs will be eliminated, taxes on the wealthy will be abolished and any government spending that doesn't go to corporate welfare will be diverted to the military to maintain a perpetual state of war around the globe. Think it can't happen here? Think again. They're already well on their way to achieving their objective. And, as we all know, the only thing necessary for evil to prevail is that good people do nothing.

  • stormskies on September 04, 2011 11:37 AM:

    And beyond Germany in the 1930's, Hitler, one only has to look at our own history during that exact same time. And that history has in fact been expunged from our own history books, and that is the history of when the existing oligarchy and the corporations they owned attempted an actual political coup of FDR. And this was spearheaded, among others, by, guess who ? The father of George Bush, and the grandfather of the other George Bush. And they almost succeeded. When asked how they thought they could pull this off their answer was: "we own the media'. Of course this means they would have used the media to create the propaganda necessary to make American 'believe' that this was the right thing to do. And what they wanted to do was to was exactly what Mussolini and Hitler were in fact doing. We need to look no further than our own shores, our own history.

  • walt on September 04, 2011 11:40 AM:

    Make no mistake: the Republicans have succeeded for one reason alone: the Kulturkampf that they've been waging for over 40 years now. It's fundamentally racism, xenophobia, anti-cosmopolitanism, and ad hoc bigotry exercised to confuse low-information voters.

    It doesn't matter if you're a libertarian or an evangelical Christian: this project speaks to you because of the absolutist nature of your own beliefs. That these beliefs might also be in stark opposition to each other is in itself amazing. That they find common ground in one party is testimony to the power of belief. Republicans believe first, last, fervently, and completely. The details are less important than the process itself.

    When Nixon initiated the Southern Strategy, there was still a deep and bipartisan consensus about the need for government. Slowly, the consensus unraveled as the crazies took over the Republican Party. As has been often noted, Ronald Reagan would be considered a RINO in today's GOP. Now, the infection has metastasized and completely taken over its host. The Republican Party is fatally ill with zealotry.

    I've mentioned this before in this forum but for a nation to have two political parties, one of which is insane, constitutes a grave national crisis. We can be lulled into thinking that crisis is next year. No, that crisis is now. Next year decides whether we survive it or not.

  • hornblower on September 04, 2011 11:59 AM:

    Unfortunately, the so-called Progressive base is making things easy by forgetting that our country was built on pragmatism not ideology. By bitching that Pres. Obama is not fulfilling all their expectations they make it easier for the right-wing cult to come to power.

  • Brenna on September 04, 2011 12:00 PM:

    I read this article last night. What stood out to me were these lines:

    ..."I left because I was appalled at the headlong rush of Republicans, like Gadarene swine, to embrace policies that are deeply damaging to this country's future; and contemptuous of the feckless, craven incompetence of Democrats in their half-hearted attempts to stop them..."

    Since the debt ceiling debacle, I've come to realize the American people are effectively on their own. Obama, for whatever reasons, won't fight these republican fanatics. In fact, he goes along with them, empowering them further.

    There's also the realization that right now there is no strong democratic challengers waiting in the wings. It's like some collective hypnosis has taken over the democratic party. Where is Howard Dean, Al Gore, Russ Feingold? The only effective voice I hear is Bernie Sanders and is way too far left to have a chance.

    I definitely think things are going to get a lot worse before they get better. Too many people on the right hate Obama to a vicious degree I can't even wrap my head around. If, God forbid, Perry is elected, and the people on the right start seeing their social security and medicare cut, and see unemployment reach new depths while safety nets are gutted, then the stark realization of who they've put in power might finally dawn on them. Maybe 2016, the country can start realigning itself after we've hopefully rid ourselves of these treacherous, greedy, malignant beasts.

    It's definitely horrifying to watch. Like Steve always says, "Maybe someone should do something about it." Or better yet, maybe we should all wake up. Fat chance.

  • Amy Fried on September 04, 2011 12:03 PM:

    This strategy has roots in Gingrich's plan which led to the Republican takeover of the House and Senate and the 104th Congress. I wrote about it in a chapter co-authored with Doug Harris in a book called "What is it about Government that Americans Dislike" edited by Hibbing and Theiss-Morse (2001, Cambridge University Press). Our point was that rising public anger and distrust was an outgrowth of a concerted strategy to produce political, institutional, electoral, and policy goals.

  • sick -n-effin-tired on September 04, 2011 12:07 PM:

    what stormskies said.
    You need look nor further than the 6 Mega corporations in this country that own virtually every media outlet in this country with the exception of a few outlets like this one. ref : http://www.freepress.net/ownership/chart/main
    You want them to worry about "the debt" instead of jobs? Leave it to us we will manipulate and misinform in handy 2 minute segments on the nightly nooze.
    In Goebbels wildest dreams he could not have imagined a industrial military compliant media as we have.
    I heard them starting up with the meme that cuts in military spending will "threaten our safety". Whaaat! we cant be safe spending more than the rest of the world combined ?
    To My friends here, go and look at the current issue of Defense Technology International put out by Aviation week and grasp the scope of the worldwide arms race.
    It is a toy store for governments and military spenders. Be sure and read the editors letter on page 4 and look at the ads . The mind , she boggles.

  • hells littlest angel on September 04, 2011 12:12 PM:

    Some really good comments here.

    I'd like to say, pre-emptively, that I'm about sick of the invocation of "Godwin's law" when the contemporary Republican party is compared to the early Nazi party. The comparison is sickeningly apt. I expect that if the Republicans ever do truly seize power, one of the first things they'll do is pass a law prohibiting comparing them to the Nazis.

  • walt on September 04, 2011 12:13 PM:

    Hornblower, Obama is better than any Republican, but his weakness as our champion has damaged the economic recovery and his re-election prospects. It's not the progressive base that asked Obama to blur every distinction with right-wing zealots. It's Obama himself.

    I'll do everything I can to support Obama next year, as profoundly disappointed as I am with his weak leadership. But make no mistake: we're in this mess not because we're crybabies or political extremists. It's because Obama has decided to compromise with and capitulate to right-wing extremists. In a better world, Democrats would have a deeper bench and a better-organized progressive faction. The world we do have means Obama, warts and all, will be our man. Do us a favor and remember the team is more important than the captain.

  • zeitgeist on September 04, 2011 12:13 PM:

    There is one great overwhelming dilemma that dominates American politics in this early part of the 21st century. It is not the extent to which President Obama has failed to meet the expectations of the progressive base, though this matters. It is not the lazy, negligent, and incompetent establishment media, though this matters, too.

    you left one out: the mystery of why the "other," allegedly sane party, the Democrats, have not shouted this turn of events from every mountaintop, have done little to publicize, much less try and stop, this descent into madness.

  • stormskies on September 04, 2011 12:14 PM:

    My fear too is that if Perry or one of the other crazies is elected, and, at the same time, the Repiglicans also regain the Senate that by the time 2016 rolls around they would have so severely limited who can vote that it will more or less guarantee Karl Roves wet dream: a permanent Repiglican = corporate majority. And the new laws that they would pass restricting the voting laws would of course be sanctioned by the U.S. "Supreme = Corporate" Court. At that point, if all this comes true, we will then be in a full blown fascist state that creates a form of neo-fuedilism in which the vast majority of us are nothing but slaves to this fascism American style. This was in fact the intent of those who attempted the political coup against FDR.

  • liam foote on September 04, 2011 12:17 PM:

    The GOP has been candid about their strategy for quite some time.

    Gov. Deval Patrick (D-MA) quotes Grover Norquist as saying, ‘We will make it so that a Democrat cannot govern as a Democrat.‘ See “How Grover Norquist hypnotized the GOP“ (Washington Post, June 30, 2011}

  • Marcelle on September 04, 2011 12:34 PM:

    One thing to add on the Germany comparison: Today's radical right is different on the surface, thus seductive to many: In Germany, it was a similar time of great economic strain (though worse), increased societal diversity, and vulnerability to increasing international interdependence (today's globalization). But what's different on the surface: The German right rallied around nationalism, tinged with post-Protestant moral purism. The American right has a different/new(thus powerful) seductive nature: It claims to be "conservative Christian" in a way that apes our Puritan roots. This is a very attractive seeming cure for the fear of poor and middle class white people who are loosing ground in this economically and socially/politically scarey world. Appealing directly to "Christian values", "God" and the like in a way that makes the right wing look compassionate, safe, and non-political.

  • kevo on September 04, 2011 12:35 PM:

    Thank you Mike Lofgren for giving us that very much needed "No Shit Sherlock!" moment.

    Now, will his cogent observations be the "talk of the town?"

    Perhaps not! -Kevo

  • Davis X. Machina on September 04, 2011 12:54 PM:

    ...Hornblower, Obama is better than any Republican, but his weakness as our champion

    Our weakness is that we need a champion. Self-government is hard work and it's not readily out-sourced.

    The last time a major American political party was dedicated to rule-or-ruin was in 1858-1860....

  • Anonymous on September 04, 2011 12:59 PM:

    "you left one out: the mystery of why the "other," allegedly sane party, the Democrats, have not shouted this turn of events from every mountaintop, have done little to publicize, much less try and stop, this descent into madness. "

    They are all scared shitless too. The problem for Dems in Congress. If they go out in a limb, then Obama might cave. Then not only do they not get the legislation passed, Republicans can run ads saying they voted for it.

  • dweb on September 04, 2011 12:59 PM:

    Yeah....but as long as we can reach out and find common ground and consensus with them, everything will be fine....right?

    Here...have another bowl of ozone.

  • stormskies on September 04, 2011 1:01 PM:

    Marcelle on September 04, 2011 12:34 PM

    "Appealing directly to "Christian values", "God" and the like in a way that makes the right wing look compassionate, safe, and non-political."


    That's what they do alright. Of course the underlying issue/ problem in this is that Jesus actually taught that is was all of our moral obligation to help the poor, the downtrodden, and the persecuted ..

    Of course the purposefully, willfully, ignore this and invent their form of what they want to call Christianity that has no resemblance to what Jesus actually taught ..

    What they are doing of course is what Hitler did by way of focusing on the 'purity' of the Aryan race .. then making the downtrodden, the persecuted as in Jews, Gypsies, and the 'undesirables', the 'scapegoats' for their own problems ...

    Sound familiar ? It's the same playbook of course ....

  • Mark on September 04, 2011 1:10 PM:

    After reading Mr Lofgren's analysis, I think I'll be getting those passports.

  • square1 on September 04, 2011 1:11 PM:

    What drives informed liberals into fits of apoplexy is that It would have been decidedly easy for Democrats to have stopped the GOP cold in the past 2.5 years. Movement Republicans were soundly rejected in 2008. The idea that Americans supported even fringier politicians like Bachmann, et al. is insane.

    All the Democrats had to do was focus with laser-like precision on the economy. That's it. If the Democrats had passed a $1.5T stimulus (and maybe prosecuted a few bankers), none of us would be talking about any of this right now. Unemployment would be below 7% and likely below 6%, the Democrats probably wouldn't have lost the House, and Americans would be measuring Mount Rushmore for a fifth presidential head.

    At this point, many Americans have lost faith in the ability of Obama to lead. But have we all forgotten how damn popular he was back in early 2009. Counter-factuals are impossible to prove, but I find it nearly impossible to believe that if Obama had thrown his full weight behind a stimulus that was twice as large that he couldn't have gotten it done.

    Imagine the President barnstorming into the states of Snowe, Collins, and Specter. Imagine him saying:

    "My political opponents are blocking this, not because they think it will fail, but because they think it will succeed. I am here today to ask you for your help. We need to convince Senator ______ to not join the forces of cynicism and partisanship. Instead, we need to invite Senator ______ to join us in stimulating the economy, creating good jobs, and investing in America's future. Can we do it?"

    Audience: "Yes, we can!"

    That's what we didn't get. And you know what? If Obama had done that and it still didn't work, and Snowe, Collins, and Specter went ahead and filibustered a larger bill anyway, and the GOP was forced to take ownership of obstructing the economic recovery then at least nobody would blame Obama for not trying and the Dems would likely have made gains in Congress in 2010.

  • Sam on September 04, 2011 1:13 PM:

    That was one of the best articles I have seen written. It's truly sad that it apparently will take the abject catastrophe that another GOP takeover of government will cause before people will finally realize what is going on. If they haven't already been banned from voting by then. I can't believe that odds are around 50-50 right now that the party that literally destroyed the global economy and obstructed any efforts to resuscitate it, will be given back the reins of power within 4 years. It's mind-boggling.

  • FriscoSF on September 04, 2011 1:45 PM:

    Unfortunately, the so-called Progressive base is making things easy by forgetting that our country was built on pragmatism not ideology. By bitching that Pres. Obama is not fulfilling all their expectations they make it easier for the right-wing cult to come to power.

    On January 2009 Barack Obama was inaugurated. He had a mandate. He had an almost 2/3rds majority in the Senate. He had a Strong majority in the House, along with a strong Speaker. Obama had a discredited President Bush.

    And he accomplished NOTHING !!

    With a much stronger Republican Congress, WHAT will Obama accomplish ?
    Obama is INCOMPETENT

    Find a Different candidate
    WHY isn't there a Democratic challenger to Obama ?

  • Skip on September 04, 2011 1:45 PM:

    "Our weakness is that we need a champion. Self-government is hard work and it's not readily out-sourced" @ 12:54

    Well, thank you for not saying it was impossible...

    Can you name the champion for the Egypt protests, the Libyan protests, the Syrian protests? Student protests, Slut Walks, the marches on Washington for our troops, for jobs, and of course for the Tea Baggers.

    The thing is, respectfully, is that we have social media, FB, tweets, all that. We have connectivity across the nation, fast connectivity. That whole six degrees away from Kevin's Bacon (or something like that). We don't need a big name to lead a charge, we just need to let people know that if they feel as we do, they can push change all on their own. I'm sick of feeling isolated in my ban of Fox News...lol.

    MONEY, MONEY, MONEY!!! That is the way to hit media in the profit margin. Start by canceling your TV subscription. Or is that change even too challenging?

    TALK, TALK, TALK!!! That is the way to get the message out that Dems need to gather, in spite of their minute ideological discrepancies, with one another and Independents if it's a good enough cause, as saving a nation against loons might be, and rally everyone through social media.

    Steve is great but he, like Jon Stewart, are screaming in a hurricane of hateful voices. We need to scream with them, champion or no champion.

    I love this nation, as you do. If Paul Revere was alive today, he'd be riding without waiting for a champion to tell him to get on his horse.

    I adore the commenters here, the intelligence, the clear eyes, we can do something more than just wish Obama would do something. Yes, it might be hard, but no one said it was impossible.

    V/r to all.

  • Davis X. Machina on September 04, 2011 1:59 PM:

    Well, thank you for not saying it was impossible...

    It isn't impossible -- but it is very, very difficult, and people shy away from anything very, very difficult.

    Waiting to get led, is, on the other hand, very, very easy, and that is what the American Left, such as it is, is doing -- the odd exception like Wisconsin noted -- as it has been waiting for most of my adult (I'm an Eisenhower baby).

    Obama said "We are the change we've been waiting for", and we said, "No, sorry, you are..." and went back to sleep, or to carp.

  • PTate in MN on September 04, 2011 2:01 PM:

    So even Republicans are coming out and admitting that the GOP has a deliberate policy to "Undermining Americans' belief in their own institutions of self-government." I hope the media start to wake up to the possibility that the "takeover of the US government by evil GOP geniuses" story is as big a seller as the 70s "watergate" one.

    zandru's advice above is worth repeating: "Americans who understand need to start making the effort to educate the vast majority who don't. That's us. Talk to your relatives and co-workers. When they repeat wingnut lies, explain how they're incorrect. Forward Steve Benen's analyses to the entire mailing list of like-minded right wingers that was on your crazy uncle's last anti-Obama blast."

    So, zandru, I want to do this, but frankly I need coaching on how to make the conversation useful. For example, when I come face to face with the low-information voter, say, my sister-in-law, I have trouble staying calm. She thinks of herself as a Democrat, but she repeats conservative memes ("We can't afford it") with this impermeable certitude that sends me--eventually--into sputtering outrage compounded with astonishment. I don't even know where to start deconstructing her delusions (and with my 92-year old father-in-law, I don't even feel motivated to try.) I end up being written off as "that radical hippie," the wild-eyed ideologue who disrupts the family dinners of nice, reasonable "centrists" like her. She feels more "right" than ever, and my mother-in-law is upset. So that doesn't turn out so well. My sole consolation is that at least I didn't throw the tatertot hotdish at her.

  • Monzie on September 04, 2011 2:02 PM:

    "It Can't Happen Here," has.

  • D on September 04, 2011 2:06 PM:

    He had an almost 2/3rds majority in the Senate. That would be a few short of 67, like 65, or 64... but that's a quibble.

    The real problem?

    There are three parties in the Senate. Three parties, but only two labels.

    There are Republicans, who are Republicans. About 40.
    There are Democrats, who are Republicans. About 25, maybe 20.
    And finally, there are Democrats who are Democrats. About 35, maybe 40. Find a hard whip count on the public option.(1)

    Coalition government is hard to do, and ugly to watch.

    (1) In my youth there were Republicans who are Democrats, but as a species, they're extinct.

  • neil b on September 04, 2011 2:08 PM:

    A great confessional by Lofgren. I suggest posting to your FB Wall etc. sharing by email, etc., as others have. I wonder, when will the saner elements of the moneyed establishment realize this isn't good for even their interests, and push back (or to what extent, already?) Also, most of this was all laid out by Kevin Phillips - another ex-Republican revealer - in the excellent "American Theocracy" (2005.) Phillips also noted, then before the irony was apparent, of the disdain of the "conservative" coalition for worrying about deficits.

  • John on September 04, 2011 2:26 PM:

    I can't believe that odds are around 50-50 right now that the party that literally destroyed the global economy and obstructed any efforts to resuscitate it, will be given back the reins of power within 4 years. It's mind-boggling.

    It's understandable if you consider that huge swaths of the population are effectively brainwashed by the corporate media; I know we all keep harping on this but it really is the crux of the problem. Most people get their "news" from TV; either from Fox or its sister wanna-be CNN; they may not agree with or actively watch outright clowns like O'Reilly or Hannity, but by getting large chunks of their "information" filtered through the lens of these networks (taxes are bad, "liberal" is an epithet, Village-generated nonsense, etc.), it becomes easier to understand, though no less exasperating. That is how these people are able to get away with what they're doing. If we had a functioning media, Mr. Lofgren's article would be front and center on the New York Times and would generate a lengthy 60 Minutes segment and be chatted about on the network gabfests. Instead its relegated to an excellent but, to most people, totally obscure website.

    Our real only hope at this point is that, with Obama willing to cave at even the slightest, most inconsequential shove, the GOP finally goes so far with an action or policy so outrageously cruel and extreme it punches through the media firewall and shocks people into the voting booth to throw these people out. (And, in a sane world, into prison where many of them belong, but one step at a time.)

  • burro on September 04, 2011 2:36 PM:

    "Have I mentioned that Lofgren is a veteran Republican staffer who knows exactly what GOP policymakers are thinking because he’s worked with them closely every day for 28 years?" - Mr. B

    And per Mr. Fallows: "...mainly on budget matters, mainly in the defense-and-security realm, and mainly for Republican legislators." And what slimier world could Mr. Lofgren inhabit than that of Republican legislative budget makers in the defense and security realm? I can smell the evil from my front porch.

    The last 30 years have been definitive in the creation of what we are currently dealing with regarding the destructive nihilism of the horrible r's. I suspect that Mr. Lofgren was well paid during his time as an r staffer, and I'll bet he did the best he could to earn his money.

    Nothing Mr. Lofgren is saying is a surprise to anybody who's been paying attention. r's are great at this after the fact conversion crap. He helped create the disaster. He'll live well for the rest of his days, and now he's supposed to get some kind of big deal respect for his "ballsy" accusations/revelations, (revelatory to someone), that the r's are a bunch of f'ed up theo-corporate cultists?

    Eat shit and go to hell Mr. Lofgren. You deserve no absolution, or particular credit, for your barking at the horse after it's left the barn and disappeared long ago over the horizon. You helped poison the well asshole; your name is on the deed.

    Captcha was easy. It wasn't a problem. It never is.

  • jjm on September 04, 2011 2:39 PM:

    I am very sick of the HuffPost generated "OBAMA CAVES" meme. Everyone should read the interesting analysis by Jonathan Chait in the NYT magazine today that details the impatience of the left with what Obama has been doing as president under the actual circumstances he has had to face with respect to his two Congresses. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/04/magazine/what-the-left-doesnt-understand-about-obama.html?ref=todayspaper

    We can criticize and yell about specific decisions (like the ozone one). But as Ezra Klein pointed out recently, Obama managed to get more done in that first year and three quarters that he had with a Democratic congress than most presidents have ever accomplished in a full 8 year term.

    Do we need a list???

    Today we have Dick Cheney saying that we'd have a better country if Hillary had been elected.

    Now why is that? Is he saying that she wouldn't have helped allow democracy to get a real toehold in the oil producing nations?

    That she would have been happy with all neocon policies? That she would have killed bin Laden earlier and faster?

    that she wouldn't have the many terrorist attacks flourish that Obama has (minus zero is hard to imagine, isn't it?)

    That she would have been able to create jobs that he and his cronies oppose creating?

    Please consider....the opposition that loves picturing Obama as weak, and recently in the comedian's speech before a Palin talk, as a 4 year old throwing tantrums.

    If you wanted President Superfly, you didn't get the black man to do your Mau-Mauing of the GOP for you.


  • hornblower on September 04, 2011 2:59 PM:

    Memory is a sometime thing. Mr Obama's democratic majority was encumbered by Nelson et.al. Anyway when Obama was running my daughter warned me against looking for a savior. She was right. The presidency is a political office. We don't do leaders on white horses. With the landscape littered with extremists a moderate naturally looks weak.
    When the story of Pres. Obama is written it will about his effect on world affairs not domestic issues. I never give political advice but following events on a minute by minute basis distorts.

  • rrk1 on September 04, 2011 3:08 PM:

    The strategists behind this fascist takeover we are in the middle of are not insane. Grover Norquist, the Koch brothers, fossil fuel industry, the other shady and slimy billionaires funding the candidates, who are insane, know precisely what they are doing. The playbook, as has been pointed out, is the same as the Nazis used in Germany: totally discredit the government, paralyze it with obstructionism, and then run against its institutions on the promise of fixing it all. The lunatics in Congress, and the field of Rethug presidential candidates aren't responsible for the strategy, they are merely carrying it out. The uninformed, misinformed, disinformed public simply don't know what's going on.

    Neither should we expect the corporate controlled media to 'wake up'. That's simply not going to happen. Aside from Fox Fascist News, where a daily theme is dictated from the top, the rest of the media have been reorganized into entertainment and profit centers where ratings drive the programming in an effort to get more people to watch the commercials, which is the real point of the programming to start with. No one reads newspapers very much, and the punditocracy is more career oriented than truth centered. In the guise of balance even the most ridiculous nonsense is given credence. No judgments, no discrimination between fact, fiction, and fantasy, merely a stenographic recitation of every stupidity uttered by the likes of Perry, Palin and Bachmann. Even the leftish blogs broadcast the nonsense instead of ignoring it or giving it the Jon Stewart treatment.

    Waiting for someone else to do it for us is a nonstarter, but it's the American way to solve a problem: look for the magic bullet. That's not going to happen either. We're going to have to mix it up in the trenches with hopefully no gunfire. The first to realize is that Obama is not our guy. He's demonstrated that, and voting him in for another four years only means the bad guys win a little more slowly. Many of my friends lament dissention among the Democrats, and say we have to be united. Should we be united behind a guy who believes that any policy outcome is better than none even if it does great harm to our people and the country? Should we stand behind a guy who steadfastly refuses to throw himself into any political battle? Obama is daring us not to vote him knowing that we'll be scared to death of a what Perry, a Romney, or a Bachmann would do. Let's take that dare and find someone else.

    I realize there is so much corporate money polluting the electoral system now that it is virtually impossible for a candidate on Obama's left to gain much traction in a traditional campaign. Social media, and a determination on our part to counter the really powerful forces arrayed against us might just have an effect, and we have to work at it. It has worked in other places. Tell all your relatives and friends, Obama supporters or not, to send him letters telling him not to run again. That should be easy for anyone to do. The best thing that could happen is if Obama voluntarily withdrew and forced the Democrats to come up with someone else. His war chest could be donated to the new candidate, and we might just have a chance to head off the neo-Nazis.

  • John B. on September 04, 2011 3:08 PM:

    SB probably accidentally forgot to mention James Fallows leads his piece with a video I, for one, hope will go viral: "Dr. Joe Mason for President."

    Everyone should send the video or a link to the White House.

  • Sean Scallon on September 04, 2011 3:09 PM:

    A nice article, but utterly irrelevant. Kevin Phillips already preceded him by five years. One can agree with much of what the author wrote but once again shows that those within or who have left the GOP establishment have as much influence in the modern GOP as say, Nancy Pelosi does. Those in the establishment who remain (Karl Rove, Mitch McConnell) are basically trying to chase the monster they created like Dr. Frankenstein. That's why Rick Perry is their favorite candidate, because they fear either Huntsman or Romney are too much like Lofgren to arouse much enthusiasm within the "base" while Perry can bring them in and control them again (good luck with that).

    Some of my favorite passages were these:
    "There were only 44 million Republican voters in the 2010 mid-term elections, but they effectively canceled the political results of the election of President Obama by 69 million voters."

    And whose fault is it for not showing up and voting? Or providing a reason to do so? As a Cook County precinct chairman will tell you - politics doesn't stop. There's always another election. And it should be pointed out the Dems benefited from lower GOP turnouts in 2006 and '08. Bitching about the other fellow's tactics and strategy is the lament of the loser.

    Here's another good one:
    "But how did the whole toxic stew of GOP beliefs - economic royalism, militarism and culture wars cum fundamentalism - come completely to displace an erstwhile civilized Eisenhower Republicanism?"

    For those waxing nostalgic about Ike it should be pointed out the Eisenwhower Republican Party was still a minority party. It was successful largely as a personality cult which drew Democrats and independents because of the prestige of the man at the center of it. And when he left the stage, or when wasn't on the ballot, the GOP lost. They lost control of Congress in 1954, they didn't get it back despite Eisenhower's landslide in 1956 and by the time he left office in 1961, the party was a hollow shell, a shambles (any Democrat other than Kennedy might have whomped Richard Nixon.) Is it any wonder then that the Goldwaterities took control and then the Reaganites and then the religious Right then the Tea Party, filled with members who are largely ex-Democrats (culturally speaking) because, as Lofgren said "they ceded the field." And you can thank Roe vs. Wade (in which the Religious Right would not exist without), NAFTA and the repeal of Glass-Steagall, both of which Bill Clinton happily signed. If Eisenhower Republicanism was a reflections of the political framework of the New Deal, then Clinton Democracy was the exact same thing under the framework of the Reagan Revolution. And what do you know? The GOP, while not the majority party, has certainly evened or tilted the field in its favor.

    It bothers me to no end that people who were embedded in the party all that time and saw all this taking place only now say they were wrong long after they were spent forces. Again I say why should any Republican base voter take serious those who got the country into unwinnable wars and spendthrift public policies? That's like asking them to vote for George Bush II again. Like it or not, the Tea Partiers had success even if incoherent success in 2010, so telling them the present course they are on leads to a dead end they will not listen to if the diver is someone who drove them into a ditch. Most Republicans have their hearts in the right populist place but their heads are once again going to be manipulated and mislead. But par for the course according to Lofgren. It's been happening all the time he's been a Capitol Hill staffer.

    The only effective opposition to the current Republican Party is certainly not coming from the Democrats, it's coming from Ron Paul. And before you throw Rand in my face, I would remind you that Ron Paul is not calling for cuts in Medicare or Social Security. He's going to make them solvent by putting the money back into the spent by our foreign policy (all he's in favor of is letting more persons opt out). It's Ron Paul who wants to repeal the Patriot Act which President Obama kept as law. It's Paul who wants to close Gitmo. It's Paul who is the only candidate who wants to end the so-called "War on Drugs". It's Paul who will take away the fear and hate which binds up so many Republicans base voters. It's Paul who will end the cozy relationship between government and business. That's why the Kochs hate him. That's why Rush Limbaugh says "he'll destroy the party." Yes he will, the party which Lofgren objects to. But it's the Paulians who understand the current Republican Party's political viability cannot last 20 years into the future as the party old, scared white people still putting the government into debt with its militarism and entitlement support (which is Social Security privatization never got off the ground even in a GOP controlled Congress). Instead of scoring such an effort, perhaps supporting it during the primary and caucus might a better political option than just blind support for Obama.

  • PTate in MN on September 04, 2011 3:09 PM:

    jjm: "Today we have Dick Cheney saying that we'd have a better country if Hillary had been elected..."

    Of course, in that alternate reality, if Hillary had been elected, the conservative movement would have responded just the same. They would have launched a virulent anti-Hillary campaign with the goal of making her a one-term president and continued their strategy of undermining American's confidence in their institutions of self-government. The Senate and Congress would be just as stuck--we might not even have health care, given past experience--and Dick Cheney would be on TV pontificating that we'd have a better country if Obama had been elected.

    No, this is just the Supreme Wing-nut messing with our minds.

  • Neil B on September 04, 2011 3:14 PM:

    @ John: "If we had a functioning media, Mr. Lofgren's article would be front and center on the New York Times and would generate a lengthy 60 Minutes segment and be chatted about on the network gabfests. Instead its relegated to an excellent but, to most people, totally obscure website."
    Sure, but Lofgren can make some effort to be more widely heard and I hope he tries (note discussion in Atlantic), but still the main responsibility to get his message out is *ours*, and it's doable as some have noted.

    BTW Craptcha is sometimes a liar, I checked carefull and am sure I typed in the right combo which was not that bad this time - do they do it just to hold up things a bit, so a robo might give up anyway if it turned out right?

  • Skip on September 04, 2011 3:24 PM:

    "it apparently will take the abject catastrophe that another GOP takeover of government will cause before people will finally realize what is going on." Sam @ 1:13

    But we won't. Remember how much "behind the scenes" crap Cheney pulled with a Republican Congress? Once Bush was elected, the VP and his cronies got busy and We, the People were not invited. We weren't privy to whatever went on in WA because the media was controlled and the GOP message was controlled.

  • c4Logic on September 04, 2011 3:30 PM:

    It's exhibit A for the prosecution. Eyewitness testimony from an unimpeachable witness. This is what I have been on about for years. Sane Americans must realize Republicans for what they are, a Cancer on the Body Politic. They are unhinged megalomaniacs. When will 50% of the country realize they have been utterly brainwashed?

  • c4Logic on September 04, 2011 3:31 PM:

    It's exhibit A for the prosecution. Eyewitness testimony from an unimpeachable witness. This is what I have been on about for years. Sane Americans must realize Republicans for what they are, a Cancer on the Body Politic. They are unhinged megalomaniacs. When will 50% of the country realize they have been utterly brainwashed?

  • neil b' on September 04, 2011 3:32 PM:

    Following up on Skip, we *cannot* and must not let Repubs grab more power for awhile and hope the people finally turn on them later - because the 'thugs will suppress voting so harshly that can't happen. If they get any more power, ordinary channels will not be effective ...
    BTW, more in like vein at https://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/09/02-0 : "
    Atlas Mugged: The Ayn Rand Six Step
    by John Atcheson"

  • burro on September 04, 2011 3:34 PM:

    This is all too much about Obama. Without a congress that's as effective for progressive causes, as it has been for theo-corporate crusades, it won't matter who is president.

    It's harder to elect hundreds of like minded humans, than it is to elect one fairly, sort of, hopefully, like minded human. But congress is the intersection. With blue dog jerks and shills like Conrad, Nelson and Leiberputz and hollow shells like Reid, very little that is really positive is going to happen.

    Obama isn't hiding any cards. What we see is what we've got. Other parts of the structure have to be fortified and rebuilt. And the basic function of voting must be protected and enhanced.

  • N.Wells on September 04, 2011 3:43 PM:

    it may have come as a shock that the Republican Party is so full of lunatics. The Congressional directory now reads like a casebook of lunacy.

    Well, thank goodness he was there to enable all of that. (/snark)

    This trend has been obvious for years, but it hasn't been stoppable. It is necessary to keep eyes focussed on who the enemy is, and it isn't Obama, who has had his hands both full and tied since his inauguration. When he was elected he emphasized that our work (his supporters' work) was just beginning and that we needed to push for what we want. Instead, we've largely preferred to carp from the sidelines, and to emphasize disappointment with what we didn't get rather than satisfaction with progress and renewed motivation to push for even more. It's easier to buy into republican criticisms and easy anger and disappointment rather than to keep fighting the R's and keep pushing for more and better democrats and more and better progressive policies. We don't have the courts, we don't have the media, we are losing the electoral infrastructure, we haven't had workable progressive majorities in the Senate or Congress, and after years of successful rabble rousing by the right, we don't have the trust of angry voters.

    Change rarely happens overnight, and isn't going to when 1/3 of Dems are fairly conservative: it has taken the R's 45 years of steady pushing and building to reverse the degree of structural dominance that the dems had in the mid sixties. This happens very slowly through incremental advances, through a lot of hard and unexciting slogging. About half of that was the republicans learning to behave monolithically rather than go haring off in different directions all the time.

    Such uniformity is a near-impossibility for Dems. R's constitute the single largest minority (selfish, comfortable, entitled or fearful, conservative white folk who distrust anything unlike them), and as long as they have a working union of moneyed interests and social/religious conservatives, Democrats can only win against them by building a coalition of everyone else. Our coalitions are inherently unstable (gays and labor have to be solidly behind progress for hispanics and the poor, and vice versa in all directions and combinations and all the time). That is, to say the least, difficult, but it helps that progressives tend to have a corner on empathy.

    The main silver lining here is that the republican coalition of business folk and religious conservatives is not a natural one, and the teabaggers have just about brought things to the point that all but the most fervent anti-tax business people have to be reconsidering their dedication to an insane and incompetent Republican neofascism. Both halves seem to be fine with fascism, but are a little less so if the other half of their party gets to be in charge.

    People who say "We might as well elect a republican" or "well, I'll end up holding my nose and voting for Obama" are failing to understand the process. In fact, added to the ranks of those who don't understand the process are those of us who have argued that even if Dems are having problems gaining and holding power politically, we can at least take comfort in having won the overall war (i.e. Social Security, Medicare, voting rights, civil rights, the EPA, etc. are here to stay), as we are on the way to losing those too.

    The route to a progressive future is to start by once more pulling together majorities in the House and Senate, which will necessarily include the likes of McCaskill, Lieberman, Nelson, Baucus, et al. That gets us away from having to listen to republicans set the agenda. You get what successes you can (which will be disappointing and half-assed), and you take comfort and renewal from whatever bits of good those successes contain, and you use that success and celebration as a springboard to get more and better dems, and democratic judges, a dem-leaning media, and so forth, thereby making the DINO contingent irrelevant. For all the disappointments with Obama, how about focussing on the complete and amazing and astonishing lack of scandal in the Obama administration and the impressive renewal of professionalism in FEMA and other agencies - that alone ought to earn him a lot of gratitude and a second term. Add to this, we finally got a sensible single-payer student loan system, we have a good end to Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and we've made a start on national health care, the largest instance of progress in four decades.

  • Kevin (not the famous one) on September 04, 2011 3:50 PM:

    I just wanted to interject how much the historical aspect everybody brings to the table helps so much. Great forum.

    My sole consolation is that at least I didn't throw the tatertot hotdish at her. PTate in MN - 14:01 This reads a lot like All In The Family.

    I've forgotten how I miss tatertot casserole. Consider: having a like minded friend over and banter about methods to solve the problems facing the nation. You'll find this relaxing and forcing somebody other than yourself to have a coronary. You can invite me and I'd like to get seconds before the dish gets thrown.

    Craptcha: I'm pretty sure some of those characters are Chinese. Seems fitting but I thought I'd see Spanish first. "ridedH subverting" FYI, ridedH equates to GOP

  • Skip on September 04, 2011 4:11 PM:

    Liberals have been the scapegoats and the fall guys for the Republicans for too long, so much so even Christian radio, ie: Dobson and his disciples, felt confident enough to get on the liberal hate bandwagon. Liberals will get the blame from the right no matter what we do or what we don't do.

    2008 was supposed to bring change, now we're pinning our hopes on 2012, and one poster above said maybe 2016. There are 4 years in between every presidential election where we are supposed to just watch and hope?

    Obama is just one man. Leftists and Independents of a certain percentage are a legion of millions. We have the power of our money, and the power of instantaneous technology.

    I wish talking to conservatives and leading them into a change of mind or heart was likely. I say here, in AL, it isn't. We need to focus on us and our power, not waiting around for our conservative brothers and sisters to wake up...for far too many Republicans their income, their world view, and their religion in whatever order, depend on them NOT waking up.

    We need to stand up for ourselves now. We don't have to turn cruel or E-VIL to do it, just forceful that our place in this nation is just as sacrosanct as any Republican's place is.

    Boycott media, boycott the advertisers on the Limbaugh show. Cancel TV. Do what the Rebuplicans tell us to do, if we don't like it, don't listen.

    In the four years between elections, We the People can be doing something. It'll hurt. And we'll be blamed for everything that the right punishes America for our peaceful actions, but we need to stand up for freedom. Our freedom. Because any zealot Republican President/Commander-in-Chief will be in charge of a military deeply infused with heroic Christian sentiments, according to bumper stickers.

    And liberals are the scapegoats and fall-guys...

    WTF, captcha: zionPri Colonel?

  • zandru on September 04, 2011 4:16 PM:

    PTate in MN asks a very good question - how to communicate with right wingnuts and low-info voters.

    Try not to waste too much time with the near-hopeless cases at first: tea-baggers and the like. Relatives can be particularly hard to deal with. Instead, keep an eye out for people who are merely misinformed.

    Know your "material" and sound authoritative. Remain respectful and listen to them - then tell them where their assumptions and facts are wrong. Be sure to mention that "the media" has been downsized so much lately that it's hard to find good reporting. The undercurrent is that they've been lied to, but it isn't their fault.

    Often, the best you can do is plant seeds of doubt and make them interested in getting better information in the future. Sometimes, you will tap a person who has actually doubted the media's right wing line, but is just repeating it because that's all they hear, so it must be true.

    Then you've hit the jackpot - another kindred spirit. I have actually subverted town hall-style focus groups this way. It helps to be familiar with the 1040 long form and corporate tax returns. Very few Americans are.

    Work to win people over, starting with the low-hanging fruit. Enough of us and we can change things!

    I'm also with burro about knights on white horses. We're not electing Superman. In a democratic system, we have to keep our eyes on our government all the time. This is another reason to try to get back to the 40 hour work week and a living wage...

    "AI-based sectter" Well, we could all use a little "AI", the real thing being in such short supply...

  • Cha on September 04, 2011 4:17 PM:

    Thank you for your brilliant comment, jjim.

    Here's that "list" that you questioned if we needed..

    It's from ThePeople'sView and is a comprehensive compilation with reference links and categorized of the 111 accomplishments of President Obama's first two years in office.


  • skeptonomist on September 04, 2011 4:25 PM:

    We can't imagine something like Medicare being passed now because Republicans were basically irrelevant in 1965 when it was passed. Johnson had smashed Goldwater in the election of 1964 and the D/R ratio in the Senate was 68/32 and 295/142 in the House. Actually, if you ignore the quality of the bill (we won't really know how good/bad it is until 2014), the passing of the HCA act in 2010 was an accomplishment considering the much smaller majorities. Republicans had stymied health care advances several other times in the past.
    Republicans are especially crazy now, but they have almost always opposed progressive legislation. Don't expect Obama to get results like Roosevelt or Johnson when he doesn't have their majorities.

  • Rick B on September 04, 2011 4:37 PM:

    Anyone who has gotten this far without reading the original article from Truthout needs to go look at what Lofgren says about the Democrats, too.

    "Historical circumstances produced the raw material: the deindustrialization and financialization of America since about 1970 has spawned an increasingly downscale white middle class - without job security (or even without jobs), with pensions and health benefits evaporating and with their principal asset deflating in the collapse of the housing bubble. Their fears are not imaginary; their standard of living is shrinking."

    "What do the Democrats offer these people? Essentially nothing. Democratic Leadership Council-style "centrist" Democrats were among the biggest promoters of disastrous trade deals in the 1990s that outsourced jobs abroad: NAFTA, World Trade Organization, permanent most-favored-nation status for China. At the same time, the identity politics/lifestyle wing of the Democratic Party was seen as a too illegal immigrant-friendly by downscaled and outsourced whites.[3]"

    Lofgren has nailed it. what we have in America is one insane party facing a clueless disorganized - I hesitate to even use the term group - mob.

    Lofgren's article is the finest description of American politics that I have seen yet written anywhere.

  • Not Anonymous on September 04, 2011 4:46 PM:

    Yes, the Tea Party is fascist. Besides the the GOD DAMN obvious propaganda being shoved down our throats by the likes of MSM (with FOX news being at the top of the pile of shit) go to this website and read a little bit:


    Now you know where the Tea Party is getting a lot of their talking points.

    If this country puts any more of these fascist assholes into office, THERE WILL BE BLOOD

  • SW on September 04, 2011 5:04 PM:

    This is why the president has behaved like a naive fool. We elected someone to do battle with the cult and he has tried to reason with them. Because he has the hubris to believe that he is this transformational political figure that can bring both sides of the ideological spectrum together. You cannot do this when the transparent strategy of the other side is to cause failure. The fundamental failure of government is part of their ideological world view. We thought we were electing a warrior to do battle with this disease and instead we got a co-conspirator. This is where the profound disillusionment with Mr. Obama comes from.

  • Rick B on September 04, 2011 6:05 PM:

    @Brenna - Obama had to cave to the Republican debt ceiling demands. It's predictable by game theory. Two sane opponents each have limitations on their actions and they can negotiate within those limitations. But when one party is ready to destroy everything on both sides then game theory requires that the sane side go to the edge and then cave when convinced the other side really will destroy everything including themselves. Longren's article clearly establishes that was the Republican party Obama faced, if you had any doubt. (I have no doubt. I live in Texas.)

    Obama's apparent weakness comes from the way he rationally negotiates only for clearly achievable goals rather than go for the fences. I think that is how he started out and he won with the stimulus bill. Since then there have been few sane Republicans to deal with, and now none. But at the same time, who does Obama depend on to get his back if he attempts the unlikely efforts?

    He and his team do not think they can depend on the progressives (I think that is true) and there are too damned many DLC'ers. I don't think the Obama team had to get to this point, but they did not realize they had to build a team to support them. (I was really disheartened when he was sworn in and immediately downgraded his social networking.)

    I'll agree that the Republicans in general hate Obama and consider him an illegitimate "President." Longren is right, though, that they similarly considered Clinton illegitimate and would have hated Hillary just as much as they do Obama.

    I really hope this article is a wake up call. Anyone who wants to live in a democracy after 2012 is going to have to fight for it, and I think for some it will be real violence. That will happen when the Republicans, who currently feel they are winning, begin to doubt they will win. They are insane, they are authoritarians and they have no limits on what they will do to regain power.

    You're right. It's horrifying to watch. War always is and I have spent half my life studying war. We need to learn from the Arab Spring because they are at the point now that we are going to be at very soon.

    The Republicans have already chosen their side and they are preparing for war. I don't think they consider real combat likely, but their leadership won't hesitate if it is required.

    We are again in the situation that the US was in the 1850's, and the 1860 election is facing us in 2012. Those who oppose what the conservatives stand for better be ready to choose their side and they had better do it damned soon.

    I'd really like to know where Obama is headed as the storm winds build, but I don't think he can expose his hand yet. We won't know about him until he lays down his cards.

  • Taobhan on September 04, 2011 6:10 PM:

    Ha, the GOP is desperate! It recognizes the nation's demographic trend - its base is shrinking as the non-white population grows larger. And its frightened base won't let the party increase its appeal to non-whites. The party leadership knows it has to hamstring the democratic process now or slip into oblivion within another generation or two.

  • JK on September 04, 2011 6:33 PM:

    This is all well and good, but like it matters. The liberals and progressives are too busy whining like fucking children that Obama didnt gift wrap their giant gay liberal magic pony every single day and deliver it to their doorstep. They are too fucking stupid to realize they are doing all the wingnuts heavy lifting for them.

    Thanks asshole liberals and progressives. Your concern is duly noted. Fucking idiots.

  • Jack G on September 04, 2011 6:49 PM:

    Re: Walt "for a nation to have two political parties, one of which is insane, constitutes a grave national crisis. We can be lulled into thinking that crisis is next year. No, that crisis is now."

    As have many others, I have felt a great deal of disappointment with the Obama administration. I'm one of the late 50's, never to retire, probably will lose my house, etc. under-employed.

    But I have suspected all along that Obama entered the White House with a view similar to what Walt said. He seems to self-identify with Lincoln, rather than FDR.

    That's why I am still an Obama fan, although it would be heartening to see him speak the truth about the fascist Tea Party and its corporate backers.

  • berlins on September 04, 2011 7:24 PM:

    Democrat's should recognize this strategy because they invented it.

  • sapient on September 04, 2011 7:28 PM:

    Rick B, you've said what I've long been trying to say, but much better. Absolutely, it is time to choose sides. And my side needs to come together and start fighting. No, not fighting each other, fighting the OTHER side.

  • Steve on September 04, 2011 8:30 PM:

    Godwin's law.

  • Patango on September 04, 2011 9:16 PM:

    walt on September 04, 2011 12:13 PM:

    "" Hornblower, It's not the progressive base that asked Obama to blur every distinction with right-wing zealots. It's Obama himself.

    The world we do have means Obama, warts and all, will be our man. Do us a favor and remember the team is more important than the captain. ""

    Hear here , Pres Obama ran on a strong dem platform , which is exactly what is needed right now in the face of what Mike Lofgren describes , and proclaims as a solution to the right wing GOP hate of america , and this is from a life long GOP'er for god sakes!!!! ...

    So when you read what the gent has to say , and then see how obama insist we have to meet these T nazis half way , it is easy to see why people are appalled , his OVER ALL policies are not geared towards rebuilding the middle class , it is gear towards getting re elected , abysmally , and not upsetting the T nazis / kkk to much ...

    And Obama is acting nothing like Lincoln either , Abe did not allow the south to extend slavery westward , he drew the line and did not waver , while obama would have met 150% of their demands ......

  • Larry Reilly on September 04, 2011 9:30 PM:

    @Rick B

    Obama did not win on the stimulus bill. He lost in the White House before it got to Congress. His advisers there, probably led by Rahm and Larry Summers, pushed him to get an achievable victory and aim low dollar-wise. (Then there was the fact that he had so many revolving-door Wall Street bankers in his administration that the stimulus ended up top-down with ultimately very little trickle down.) Economists who should know (Krugman, for one) were crying out at the time that they were baking half a loaf and that we'd end up with......well, with what we've got now.....a mostly eaten half a loaf.

  • labman57 on September 04, 2011 9:45 PM:

    When the Senate minority leader repeatedly proclaims -- ever since 2009 (before denying same in an act of revisionist face-saving) -- that the "number one priority of the Republican Party shall be to make sure Obama is a one-term President", regardless of the damage done to the welfare and security of the vast majority of Americans, it is clear that this is a political party that has completely embraced Machiavellian tactics and an off-the-map extreme right wing political agenda as their new normal.

  • jjm on September 04, 2011 9:57 PM:

    To Rick B: You might also recall that the congressional Democrats wanted only a $500 billion dollar stimulus. You might also recall that the economic data on which the plans were based were completely off base and the severity of the downturn, which has only just now been revealed, was twice as bad as the entire economic team and all economists believed at the time.

    Yes, going with Clinton's economic team could have been a mistake, but after all, Clinton was touted as having great economic planners and he built up a surplus. yadayadayada.

    Cristina Romer was bright and careful. She went to Wall Street with Obama's mantra that Americans had to start investing in making and inventing things again. She was hissed into silence, literally.

    So now he knows.

    Some commentator on this website a few days ago gave a very good profile of Obama's demeanor, in which he never plays the radical ... but let's see where it goes from here, rather than presuming to know the outcome of what he will be proposing before hand. After good close examination of Obama's 'rope a dope' tactics, the contributor wrote, "It will be interesting to see how Obama and his team the next inning, with mounting calls for a more aggressive response to the GOP bstructionism. He probably needs to up the rhetoric to appear more candid and to keep the more liberal Dems on the reservation. But based on past behavior, I expect he will do this in a measured way so as not to lose the reasonableness weapon he has deployed successfully in prior

    I say let's see.

  • The Fool on September 04, 2011 10:29 PM:

    Steve said, "There is one great overwhelming dilemma that dominates American politics in this early part of the 21st century. It is not the extent to which President Obama has failed to meet the expectations of the progressive base"

    Oh no, but it is. One of things progressives like me expectyed to see was a president who stood up and spoke truth to power. Instead of foolishly playing postpartisan kissy face, Obama should have been out there hanging this shit around the Republicans' necks. No one should have ANY doubt why the economy sucks or who the Republicans are. But he didn't and they do.

    As bad as Obama's sins of comission are, his sins of omission may actually be worse.

    I'm sorry. The guy is a total fucking disaster.

  • Conservative1 on September 04, 2011 11:11 PM:

    Agree. The Republican Party's collective descent into anti-intellectual (even anti-rational) reactionary extremism is a story the establishment media are afraid to address head-on. It's been building since Reagan, although it started earlier. It's turned "conservatism" into a cover for social darwinists and Ayn Randite nut jobs. There is a conservative tradition of substance and value in this country, but there's no sign of it in today's Republican Party.

  • Drew P on September 04, 2011 11:21 PM:

    This article should consume the left blogosphere, so it can be FORCED into the media mainstream. Call Mr. Loftgren the contemporary DEEPTHROAT, and maybe that reference would be titillating enough so that the mainstream media will start paying attention. We all need to make this a BIG DEAL.

  • Patango on September 04, 2011 11:43 PM:

    To jim

    "" He probably needs to up the rhetoric to appear more candid and to keep the more liberal Dems on the reservation. But based on past behavior, I expect he will do this in a measured way so as not to lose the reasonableness weapon he has deployed successfully in prior
    battles. ""

    I do not see were that has already worked ? LOL , But I'm all ears...

    America does not need someone to APPEAR to UP THE RHETORIC , in fact we need no rhetoric at all , what we need is someone to stand up for what they said they believed in , and spent a year telling americans that the democratic platform is what they believed in ...Then got a record number of voters as a result ...

    But at this point it would seem he does not believe in it at all , so I would not expect anything different from him now .....He is not going to do a 180 on how he has chosen to govern , I mean cave , at this point ..

    He gave a speech here in Iowa about standing up to the GOP and creating jobs , I felt better and thought YES!!!!! 30 seconds later I remembered what kind of fight he brings to the table , and there you have it .....

  • M on September 05, 2011 12:15 AM:

    The Fool,

    Can't you see that it is the strategy of the Republicans to thoroughly sabotage the President and then get progressives like you to denigrate him. Why do you think the Republicans shrug it off when polls indicate that the vast majority of Americans oppose what they are doing? Because they are counting on baiting Democrats into destroying each other, that's why. They are counting on the self-destruction of Democrats trumping the unpopularity of Republican policies and behaviors. And they have discovered that the more outrageously they behave the more likely they are to succeed in baiting Democrats into destroying each other!

  • Registeredguest on September 05, 2011 12:25 AM:

    Hello Steve,

    You must have seen this article before I sent you a link to get it into your column today.

    It's excellent but I'd like to remind you of a comment I sent you some months ago and that is that the Democrats aren't making the case against the Republican Party.

    It's a shame it's left up to a GOPer to do it. It's effective that an insider spills the beans but to get it out to mainstream America will need a big bullhorn.

    Oh, by the way the captcha for this comment is undecipherable. I imagined it will take a another shot before I succeed.

  • Varecia on September 05, 2011 1:50 AM:

    Not that we haven't pretty much figured all of this out already:
    "...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. […]"

    Sounds like a methodical, bloodless coup. These are NOT 'patriots.' They really need to be behind bars.

  • yellowdog on September 05, 2011 5:02 AM:

    @square1 on September 04, 2011 1:11 PM:

    Pretty simple advice...

    I don't know about the stimulus, but Obama went to Maine in April 2010 right after passage of health care and essentially rubbed the noses of both Snowe and Collins (and Brown of MA) in its passage - making very clear to an enthusiastic crowd of Yes-We-Can chanters that he had put forward something they could have supported but chose not to. He praised Maine House Democrats Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud, who voted for it. He then brought out a lot of ordinary people who stood to benefit from the new policy. He called out Boehner by name for calling the bill armageddon. He called out GOP nonsense, saying "Nobody had pulled the plug on Granny." Then, he dared the GOP to run against his bill and try to repeal it.

    And, you know what? That's just what they did. In 2010 a Tea Partier was elected Governor of Maine, though Pingree and Michaud survived challenges. Snowe's approval ratings in the GOP are about 30% and she is being challenged by a Tea Partier because she voted for the debt deal and she -considered- voting for health care.

    Obama's presence in the state energized the Tea Partiers more than the progressives apparently. Maybe somebody from Maine can explain it. However, Obama was right there, putting pressure on the other guys and underlining a big legislative victory that the GOP tried to block. He did this a lot before the 2010 elections... He called, his voters did not answer.

  • bob h on September 05, 2011 7:19 AM:

    Republicans also operate in this way because they know there is little chance of retaliation when the shoes are on the other foot. When Democrats are in a position to hamstring a Republican President, they will decline to do so, because they have better developed senses of responsibility.

  • The Fool on September 05, 2011 8:58 AM:


    I see it but so what? Yes, they it is possible they may benefit somewhat in the short term. But all the election forecasting models tell us Obama's a goner anyway. And even if he did manage to somehow eke out a victory, he will get nothing done and will set it up so the next president is a 2-term Republican.

    Let's accept the loss of a useless Obama, get a Perry or a Bachman, and make them a 1-termer. That way we cut out 12 years worth of weak Obama and 8 years of the next George W. Bush and instead get just 4 years of disastrous wingnut, setting up the potential for a truly progressive savior, instead.

    I can't let a small benefit to the Republicans deter me from doing everything I can to get Democrats to change course off the disastrous course we've been on all my life. I'm over 50 years old and for the last 30 years, ever since I became an adult, its been the same weak shit over and over. I'm done with it. Winning elections your way doesn't mean much if all you get is Republican lite. And these days its not even Republican Lite -- its more like Republican Medium and, I'm sorry, but that is unacceptable to me.

    We've done it the weak Democrat way all my life and it got us where we are today. It doesn't work. Being weak Republican mirror images of the strategy you suggest is clearly not how the Republicans have managed to dominate the last 30 years. And they have done that despite the fact that they are objectively insane liars pushing for policies that are harmful to the vast majority. People like you need to learn something from that.

  • Solomon Kleinsmith on September 05, 2011 11:35 AM:

    Problem is, the dems use this as an excuse to not get any better themselves. More so, that hard liberal base that you say isn't a fan of Obama is pushing for the dems to go just as left wing as the GOP is right wing.

    We need a party that actually listens to the American people.

  • Eleanor Holt on September 05, 2011 12:33 PM:

    Thanks for your spotlight on what everyone knows but about which nobody is talking. Instead we blame the President for whatever he does. Consequently the destructive force seems to have come from nowhere, and is not discussed. It is so new to consciousness, so brazen at this point that people seem paralyzed: politicians, journalists, media, citizens- all. It appears we think it is not real. For a peek at the future keep your eyes on the newly minted Republicans lawmakers around the country implementing the ALEC plan to a tee.

  • MNRD on September 05, 2011 2:17 PM:

    The Fool,

    What on earth do you think 4 years with a disastrous wingnut would mean AT THIS TIME? 8 years of a bad Republican Presidency led in 2008 to the GREATEST FINANCIAL CRISIS SINCE THE GREAT DEPRESSION. Don't you realize that AT THIS POINT 4 years of a disastrous wingnut would cause a great depression with 20% unemployment? Or do you think that after 4 years of a great depression some magical "progressive savior" could come along and snap his fingers and pull us out of that depression just like that? Don't you realize how long it took for the Great President Franklin Roosevelt to pull this country out of a depression? What on earth makes you so sure that America could EVER truly recover its place in the world from the damage that would result from 4 years AT THIS TIME of a disastrous wingnut?

  • The Fool on September 05, 2011 3:02 PM:


    Well, I sure hope it doesn't turn out as bad as you speculate it might, but here's the deal, bro: whether we like it or not, we're getting a Republican president in 2012. Obama's approval is too low and the economy is too bad for Obama to win. He should have thought of that when he lowballed the stimulus.

  • Paul on September 05, 2011 3:28 PM:

    It's rather ironic that so many of you supposedly tolerant (or at least, tolerance-preaching) leftists and progressives, are so very quick to make broad, sweeping generalizations about a large and diverse group of people who you have chosen to dislike.

    The tea party is not the problem. People are worried about the growing size and cost of government, and the lack of checks, balances, or the ability of the citizens to control it.

    The problem is perpetuated by both parties, currently, and there doesn't appear to be much willingness on either side to develop or implement sensible, pragmatic solutions, with each other or otherwise. That's what people are upset about with government.

  • MNRD on September 05, 2011 3:32 PM:

    The Fool,

    You forget that the debt ceiling crisis was an INTERNATIONAL crisis that did irreparable harm to the INTERNATIONAL reputation of the Republican Party. In the fall of 2012 there will be overwhelming signs of the INTERNATIONAL financial panic that would result from a GOP electoral victory. The American people will reelect President Obama in order to avoid the great depression that would otherwise occur in America in 2013 as a direct consequence of frantic INTERNATIONAL divestment from America.

  • neil b on September 05, 2011 3:42 PM:

    The truly foolish Fool shat forth:
    "Let's accept the loss of a useless Obama, get a Perry or a Bachman, and make them a 1-termer. That way we cut out 12 years worth of weak Obama and 8 years of the next George W. Bush and instead get just 4 years of disastrous wingnut, setting up the potential for a truly progressive savior, instead."
    Oh, how incredibly foolish. No, if a Repub wins the Presidency he or she will enable massive destruction of Americans' ability to vote for any Democrat, and you idiot's crack pipe dream of a later rebellion will never happen by the ballot box - maybe the bullet box instead, Fool.

  • The Fool on September 05, 2011 3:45 PM:


    Dude, voters don't know jack shit about international finance and they care even less.

  • neil b on September 05, 2011 3:46 PM:

    BTW, Lofgren should go on Rachel Maddow. Will he? Let's try to help ...

  • neil b' on September 05, 2011 3:49 PM:

    (Fool, my apologies if you just mean you don't think O will get elected and are hoping for the best from an inevitable situation, I had you for one of those "stay at home to teach them a lesson" assholes, which I hope you aren't. But even so, can we try to believe we make the future happen?)

  • MNRD on September 05, 2011 3:50 PM:


    The problem is that the Tea Party is an insular highly tribal faction that is imposing its rigid ideology onto a highly intertwined GLOBAL economy. It is a fact that there is a great deal of INTERNATIONAL investment in America, and that if a massive amount of that INTERNATIONAL investment were suddenly removed it would cause a stock market crash. That is the problem with terrorizing the REST OF THE WORLD with a debt-ceiling crisis hostage-taking maneuver. If the REST OF THE WORLD subsequently believes that your faction will prevail and cause a stock market crash, they will divest from America in a frenzy. And then the stock market will crash, and you will wind up with a great depression in America.

  • MNRD on September 05, 2011 4:05 PM:

    The voters will know plenty in the fall of 2012. As election day gets closer and closer, a larger and larger percentage of international investors will begin to divest from America in response to polls showing Republican electoral strength. Thus, the stock market will drop sharply in response to polls showing Republican electoral strength, and the stock market will rise sharply in response to polls showing Democratic electoral strength.

  • Rick B on September 05, 2011 4:37 PM:

    @Larry Reilly - Obama apparently feels that he needs to attempt achievable goals rather than shoot the moon and get nothing. It's my opinion that he has gotten a lot more through Congress by doing that than he would have otherwise. Whether that is a set of tactical decions that works well towards 2012 may be questioned by political wonks, but frankly that election will be decided not by wonks but by the so-called independent voters who won't have a clue there is an elecion coming until sometime in August anyway.

    I agreed with Krugman at the time, but I have read that Summers really thought that if the stimulus wasn't big enough they could go back and ask for more. I don't think the political hacks in the White House figured out how intractible the Republicans would be until towards the end of health care. [And thank god that they got the crap that is ACA instead of losing again like Clinton did. The old system had been as improved as it could ever get. ACA will be improved.]

    @jjm - you might also remember the conservaDems sitting down and cutting some $300 billion or so out of the final stimulus bill before they would vote for it. Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman and someone else really shit all over America there. On top of that, the stiumuls was based on the lies that the Bush White House handed everyone about the economy. Things were a lot worse than anyone realized, and Bush/Cheny wanted to avoid the blame.

    Keep in mind, Obama prepared and staffed to pass healthcare. The Wall Street collapse and resulting economic disaster came out of nowhere. Mistakes were made in the White House, but what else is new? They were pulling stuff out of their rears for a long time. And it was politicians making decisions. They didn't know which economists to trust. {I'm not sure they have figured that out completely yet.)

    You know, FDR never played the radical either, but as the elections neared he got competitive.

  • Hugh on September 05, 2011 9:55 PM:

    I do not know Mike Lofgren personally. According to Legistorm (http://www.legistorm.com/person/Michael_S_Lofgren/7777.html) he was a very well paid senior staff member who probably has no respect for anyone who is not in his league. Based on the tone of his article, he was never a conservative.

    Maybe he was an Establishment Republican who hates the conservatives. Maybe he was a Democrat who got a job working for the Republicans (it is very possible for someone who supports one party to end up working as a congressional staffer assigned to the other party).

    I do not believe an insider who left the Republican "cult." He was a senior civil service careerist who just retired with a very good pension who is now looking to use his history working as a congressional staffer for the Republicans as a way to make a new career as a writer condemning the GOP.

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  • Not Toeing the Line on September 07, 2011 5:00 AM:

    There are two movies that seem eerily prescient of the path our country and word are taking. One movie is grim and the other is "gallows humor" grim.

    Take your pick but the future in 30 years may well resemble the world of Soylent Green or Idiocracy.

    It does seem ironic that no less a conservative bastion than Charlton Heston would be the ill-fated hero figure in a movie about a future dominated by corporate greed and self-interest where the ultimate debasement of human life occurs on a daily basis, and senior citizens are no longer a burden on society as they are converted into a healthy snack.

    And you have to admire the Wikipedia synopsis of Idiocracy - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idiocracy

    "They discover that the world has degenerated into a dystopia where advertising, commercialism, and cultural anti-intellectualism run rampant and dysgenic pressure has resulted in a uniformly stupid human society devoid of intellectual curiosity, social responsibility and coherent notions of justice and human rights. Rather, this future society emphasizes anti-intellectualism, popularity, sexual attraction, and hedonism."

    Anyone want to help jumpstart the Coffee Party?

  • Dave Nalle on September 08, 2011 2:25 AM:

    As someone from the political right and active politically in the Republican Party it's almost surreal to read the comments on this article. The portrait they paint of the Republican Party as seen through the eyes of the political left is very different from the reality of the party as seen from within - and seen from a clearer perspective than Lofgren's evident tunnelvision.

    The Republican Party is nowhere near as unified or homogeneous and most here seem to assume. It is a very diverse party with powerful internal struggles and factions which barely manage to work together. In particular the perception of the tea parties and the forces of "conservative" resurgence we have seen in the last 3 years are being critically misunderstood.

    The newly politically engaged elements in the party are not part of the Bush-Gingrich-Rove-Cheney-Boehner party establishment and they do not support them. The party insiders and movement conservatives like the Neocons are as much an enemy of grassroots Republicans as the leading Democrats and President Obama.

    Although establishment forces are trying to corrupt and coopt it, the Tea Party is not a movement in support of old Republican strategies and isn't interested in increasing party power. It wants to overthrow the GOP leadership and reclaim the party and the government for a populist conservatism which would likely be easier for Democrats to work with than the current power-politics elite which runs the Party.

    The same corrupt powerbrokers against whom Lofgren is reacting are among the main enemies of young Republican activists and disgruntled older Tea Partiers who feel that their own party has deeply betrayed them. This is not an overnight development. It took a long time to come to a head. It goes back to a deep dissatisfaction with the failures and bad intentions of the Bush administration which behaved in what is perceived as a very un-Republican way - arrogant and unresponsive and irresponsible.

    Just as the GOP isn't unified, neither is the Tea Party. It's a diverse movement which has a lot of internal problems. Perhaps a third of the members are indeed "crazies" as the political left and many on the right would define them. They're obsessed with high intensity but largely irrelevant issues, conspiracies and fantasies. Another third are long-time party members who just think the party has gone off the rails and are angry about the economy and the job situation and the failures of party leadership. The other third are the libertarian Republicans who are often younger and new to political activism, very volatile and extremely hostile to the party establishment.

    These groups don't agree on much, but they do agree that the party needs to be reformed, that the leadership has failed the members, and that fiscal reform should be the absolute first priority of the party if they can get any kind of control. Yes, they want to take control of the government away from Obama and the Democrats, but they certainly don't want to give that power to the GOP establishment who they see as indistinguishable from the Democrats.

    Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of the media, for all their laziness and incompetence, is to convince the political left that the Tea Party is a raving, bigoted mob bent on their destruction. That's far from the truth. Polls show that the Tea Party movement has a substantial component of Democrats (about 15%) and an even larger component of moderate independents. Yet the media coined the term "teabaggers" and directed the ire of the left at a group which could be their natural allies against the Neocons and the political establishment.

    It's a classic example of divide and conquer. Before the unhappy progresives and the angry Tea Partiers could find common ground against the elite class which rules both parties, they turned them against each other, making sure that they could never make common cause against their real enemies at the top of both parties. This protected the big government bureaucracy, monopolistic unions, corporate welfare recipients and military industrial complex which finance and own the political establishments in both parties and which should be the natural enemy of grassroots voters in both parties.

    The comments here show how badly the left has been duped, as you lash out at the Tea Party as if it is a tool of the establishment, just the way the media and your own exploitative leaders want you to.

    Dave Nalle
    Republican Liberty Caucus

  • Phoenix Woman on September 08, 2011 1:03 PM:

    Heh! Lofgren's comments have indeed cut the authoritarian modern GOP madmen to the quick -- it's taken them the better part of a week to send someone forth to respond to it, and it's not even a real response.

    I dare you, Dave Nalle, to respond to Lofgren's comments on how the GOP manipulates and feeds racism for electoral gain (and lower taxes for its true and only real constitutents, the rich).

    I. Dare. You.

    Oh, and don't try to claim that the Southern Strategy died when Nixon hopped onto Air Force One for the last time in August of 1974: Michael Steele gave the game away on that particular con, which is why he's no longer RNC Chair even though he presided over the 2010 GOP electoral romp.

    C'mon, if you think you're so brave. I. Dare. You.

  • Egypt Steve on September 08, 2011 2:29 PM:

    All fine and good. But the Democrats could blow up the filibuster tomorrow. The problem is that the Democratic leadership is comprised of old men who, able legislative tacticians though they are, simply fail to grasp the modern strategic realities of American political life. Or if they do grasp it, they lack the courage to take the necessary steps. Constitutional option now!

  • Peter S. Chamberlain on September 15, 2011 2:21 AM:

    Reviewing this piece and several relevant comments under it, and this and other sites, from the perspective of anyone not wedded to the extreme left, and who has been around American politics for the past fifty years or so, one notes certain salient things.

    First, just about every major election, at which either party has sought to implement major change on its own side as well as in the country, results in one or more activists, like Lohgren this time around, coming to a personal “This is where I get off!” moment. There is nothing new, or liberal or conservative, about this phenomenon. What it really reflects is the utter and complete corruption and depravity not only of the Republican party--the capacity of which to organize any such treasonous conspiracy those here, never having been, and likely never having known, a conservative or a Republican, wildly overestimate, have wildly overestimated, verging on the “9/11 Truthers,” but of the whole system including the liberal and pseudo-liberal so-called “progressive” Democrats, the Socialists, etc. Let’s face it, Obama and the liberal Democrats, like McCain and the Republicans, lied through their teeth, and got caught lying, about caring about the working poor, the middle class, the unemployed, or the disabled, for example. They have all destroyed any possible actual or alleged claims to have a clue, or to give a Continental hoot, about the realities of the lives of most people, and, at the same time, proved their utterly abysmal ignorance of either of macro or micro economics including the private sector and job creation. The liberal Washington Post just gave Obama a ringing four-Pinnochios rating for just one of his whoppers, that is, called him a liar, and provided the evidence to prove it.

    How can anyone expect a President when, in the middle of the worst economic downturn and crisis since what will eventually be called the First Great Depression, just the part of his income he reported and paid taxes on in one year ran $4.6 million, 11 ½ times his salary as President of the United States and possibly a record for that multiple, and that doesn’t include the free campaign trips and other generous untaxed legal fringe benefits, or whatever he, like most other politicians, gets that he doesn’t report.

    Of course, as you noted, there is “rising public anger and distrust [. . . that is] an outgrowth of a concerted strategy to produce political, institutional, electoral, and policy goals.” That’s precisely what the Republicans have been trying to tell you. They have a healthy suspicion of radical change about which they are told it is necessary to pass a massive bill, written in secret, before they can find out what is in it, procured in secret using the “Louisiana Purchase,” the “Cornhusker kickback,” and other such abuses of process, that both centralizes huge chunks more of their personal health care and pays off the insurance companies and some other big businesses in the process, and of an utter contempt by those involved for the Constitution, and the original and true understanding of the Constitution, displayed in the process.

    Ironically, it is precisely the left’s “rising public anger and distrust . . that is] an outgrowth of “. . . the left’s” concerted strategy to produce political, institutional, electoral, and policy goals,” which the majority of the people don’t want, for which you blame the actual or alleged vast right-wing conspiracy. Interestingly, your doting commenters cite a similar allegedly dangerous and powerful conspiracy, destructive of democracy, by George H. W. Bush’s rich father and the Republicans, and the allegedly right-wing media, that opposed FDR’s “New Deal.”
    They forgot to mention the equally effective right-wing conspiracy to elect Goldwater, whose people had something to say about the liberal media, not to mention Bob Dole and John McCain, or the similarly effective one to elect George McGovern, who wasn’t anywhere near as hard a leftist as Barack H. Obama. Elections are supposed to be based on a “concerted strategy.” What they’re not supposed to be based upon is misuse of the machinery of government and “four Pinnochios” whopper lies by Presidential candidates including incumbent Presidents seeking re-election. During most of the history of the U. S., it was agreed that the Framers and the people had wisely made sweeping social change difficult. The question is whether Obama and his gang are more like Nixon and his or Rick Perry and his.

    I’m not in agreement with some of the legislative goals of the Republicans, either. I found myself publicly aligned with Senators Ted Kennedy and Barack Obama, and against a lot of liberal Democrats including Joe Biden as well as most Republican Senators, when the Democrats provided the margin of victory for the credit card companies’ version of a bankruptcy “reform” bill in preference to Congress’ own Reform Commission’s better bill. There is a legitimate debate over some tax policy--but not over the fact, agreed upon publicly by Eisenhower and his very conservative Commissioner of Internal Revenue, Reagan, Carter, Clinton, and others, that the Internal Revenue Code and Regulations, with their thousands of pages of special favors and gigs, is, in Clinton’s phrase, “a scandal, and that neither party has done much of anything about this when they were in control.

  • Umbragetaker on September 15, 2011 10:22 AM:

    @square1....You are so right on! and others of us who wish the Democrat congress and Obama has used the first 2 years much more wisely rather than trying to be friends with the enemy. Now what? would Hillary have had bigger cojones? Might she still? The American public are pretty easy to fool and seem to have bought back into the Republican insanity that did not work for 8 years with Bush and sure as hell won't work with Caveman Perry or the Nihilist other "t" partiers and anti-intellect science deniers.

  • PARIS GIRL on October 30, 2011 5:35 PM:




  • Owengenoveva on January 18, 2012 4:37 AM: