The American Prime Minister

The Politics of Crazy

The Politics of Crazy

One of Newt Gingrich’s first moves after gaining control of the House in 1994 was to cut off funding for Congressional caucuses or “Legislative Service Organizations” (LSO’s). News reports at the time focused on the impact this would have on Democratic groups like the Congressional Black Caucus and the Womens’ Caucus, but hindsight reveals a different angle. Of far more concern to Gingrich was the Republican Study Group, the powerful sub-partisan institution which had helped hand him the speaker’s gavel. After the revolution, an ally might become a rival.

Two decades later the unintended consequences of that and many other moves by the Gingrich Congress shaped the rise of Rep. Paul Ryan to House Speaker. Last week, America was introduced to its first European-style Prime Minister. For the first time, a major US political party was forced to enter into coalition with a junior partner. Gingrich’s great fear was realized when an offspring of the RSC ousted and replaced a sitting House Speaker.

A passage in The Politics of Crazy describes the devolutionary forces that are weakening our central political institutions. As those forces grow more and more potent, we can expect to see smaller, sub-partisan organizations assert themselves inside each party in a development that mimics European parliamentary politics.

What makes the rise of Paul Ryan unique is the way a sub-partisan group, in this case the Freedom Caucus, acted independently of the political party under which its members are elected. Southern conservatives once exercised a similar kind of power in Democratic Congressional politics, but they generally only acted as a bloc on racial matters. They were identifiable only on geographic terms, did not embrace an independent institution of their own, and only united on a narrow template of issues.

The Freedom Caucus is distinct from other Congressional subgroups in its willingness to openly defy party discipline not only on a single issue, but on a question of party authority. And not merely in a personal conflict between or among members, but in open rivalry between a political party and a named, organized sub-entity with its own funding and membership. Negotiations like this are common in European Parliaments, where leadership questions are settled by agreements among parties. It is hard to find any precedent for this scenario in the US Congress.

There is reason to hope that the rise of Paul Ryan will open the door to a more parliamentary system. AEI scholars Norm Ornstein and and Thomas Mann urged similar adaptions in their book, It’s Even Worse Than It Looks. Though the structure of our political system, with single-member districts and winner-take-all elections blocks the emergence of multiple parties, nothing prevents candidates from aligning themselves under sub-headings. The Tea Party was the first major step in this direction, with members openly challenging and even defeating non-Tea Party candidate of the same political party in primaries. This development might encourage these subgroups to operate more openly all over the spectrum.

Whether this development will make Congress more or less representative of public opinion remains to be seen. It is possible that these new groups, by weakening the two parties, may actually increase the influence of private money and weaken democratic engagement. What makes this evolution difficult is the structure of our Constitution.

Authors of our Constitution were limited in their high-minded ambitions by one frustrating reality. Their project could not hope to survive and take root unless it could preserve, at least for a time, an awkward and untenable alliance. Northern states dedicated to a proto-capitalist merchant economy must somehow exist under a common legal framework with a violently regressive collection of plantation settlements committed to an older form of war capitalism.

Those demands led to the creation of a permanently weak central government, gridlocked by design. As described at some length by Francis Fukuyama in Political Order and Political Decay, it takes far more than popular will to affect policy changes in the US. Our structure created what he calls a state of “courts and parties,” in which veto power is wielded by innumerable official and unofficial actors. This leads to an under-developed executive power, permanently subordinate to interest groups and incapable of carrying out the public will.

Thanks to this compromise the US has always suffered from an ineffective, needlessly expensive political environment, maimed by its creators. A Constitution engineered to make adaptation extremely difficult meant Americans built a modern democracy on the back of a relatively poor, unusually corrupt government compared to its peers that emerged in Europe. Race and slavery shaped our destiny right from the beginning. These origins explain why no one in America displays a more fanatical, quasi-religious reverence toward our Constitution than Southern conservatives.

About 150 years behind our European colleagues, evolutionary demands are finally pushing us toward a more parliamentary arrangement, one that could incorporate a broader range of public sentiment farther up the political hierarchy. Our Constitution makes this very difficult, but the demands of adaptation eventually either break their obstacles, or kill off a species.

Unfortunately, these parliamentary coalitions are, at their birth, taking on some of the darkest traits of our existing system. Those traits can be seen in the strange consequences of Gingrich’s 1994 purge of the LSO’s.

What Gingrich and others hated about the LSO’s was the way they used public money to empower dissident voices inside Congress. Rep. Dick Armey’s statement dismissing the LSO’s foreshadowed an ugly trend to come: “If you want money for your hobby, get it from someplace else.” That’s just what they did

The Republican Study Group bounced back immediately, now with new funding sources outside of Congress. Other LSO’s with less financial appeal did not fare so well. As matters played out, Gingrich’s move failed to stifle dissident voices; it merely introduced them to market forces. In a dynamic described on a larger scale in The Politics of Crazy, capitalization of government meant groups popular with wealthy donors continued to grow and thrive, even more than before. Those that offered little financial appeal were not so successful.

Money is more influential in Congressional caucuses now than it was before Gingrich’s move. Dependent on outside money for their operation, they are also more closely aligned with interests outside Congress and the electoral process. Look closely at the priorities of the Freedom Caucus, our first proto-parliamentary organization and of the Tea Party from which they emerged, and this challenge becomes clear.

You can’t un-ring a bell. For the first time ever a collection of Congressional back-benchers has deposed a Speaker of the House by building a discrete, sub-partisan coalition. The sense of authority that once hung over the Speaker’s office has blown away. We have met our first Prime Minister. There is no way to stop this dynamic from expanding.

As our political parties continue to decline the power and sophistication of these sub-partisan groups will grow. Gingrich’s move twenty years ago to cut off caucus funding means that their growth will be fueled entirely by big-money private donations. Will a more Parliamentary style of government in Congress make the body more representative of popular will, or will it merely introduce new avenues of special interest obstruction? A close look at our first sub-partisan venture suggests a difficult path ahead toward parliamentary democracy in America.

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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Posted in congress, Politics of Crazy
111 comments on “The American Prime Minister
  1. Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

    Mime – I’m going off-topic just especially for you since voter suppression is a topic you are (and we all should be) concerned about.

    http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-democrats-suppress-the-vote/

    Interesting article about how the Democrats attempt to depress voter turnout by scheduling local and state elections in the off-years around Federal elections.

    You may or may not know that Houston is having school board elections today. Most people do not know that, and voting will be shockingly low. According to the article, it is the Democrats that are happy to have low voter turnout in these “off cycle” elections, and they argue that it leads to a more informed voting population that really knows and cares about the issues (which is eerily similar to the arguments that GOP uses when putting hurdles to voting).

    This allows teacher groups/unions and public service groups/unions, who absolutely will show up to vote, to account for a greater slice of the electorate.

    When states or municipalities try to move their off-cycle elections to coincide with Federal election (a move that is favored by an overwhelming majority of the US population), it is the democrats that generally vote against those bills and the GOP that favors them.

    In a small sample analysis, they found that teacher/gov’t employee pay and benefits to be higher in those locations that had “off cycle” elections than those locations that had elections at the same time as Federal elections.

    While I may think that outcome might be a good thing, it certainly does highlight that some less than noble means are being used to get us to the ends we want.

    Never a bad thing to do a little political introspection.

    • Tuttabella says:

      HT, my opinion of you just went up by a thousand points, for being objective.

      I realized this morning that another thing that might result in low turnout is that because early voting allows you to vote anywhere, voters have the misconception that they can vote anywhere on Election Day as well, and then they are surprised when they’re turned away when they go to the wrong place, and then they have to scramble to find the correct location, and then they give up because it’s too inconvenient. Because of early voting, voting on Election Day now becomes “voting at the last minute” and looks almost irresponsible.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        I think I would favor a national “voting holiday” and a move to Saturday voting. There are logistics that would have to be handled, and no process is going to be perfect, but that would seem to be easier than a random Tuesday in November.

        Of course, in my fairy tail world, we have better information and anaysis about candidates from something other than MSNBC, Fox News, and the candidates themselves, but I do not have nearly a big enough magic wand to make that happen.

        The long discussion below shows how almost impossible it is to present information objectively.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        HT, pardon my cynicism, but the word “holiday” is what would resonate with voters.

        Election Day would become another excuse for barbecues and blowout sales.

        As for Saturday voting, I think voters would be too much in weekend mode, but it might be better than Tuesday voting, when most people have to work.

        I like the current system of early voting. You get 2 weeks, and it can be done on a weekday or on the weekend, depending on what fits your schedule, and whenever you are in a serious enough frame of mind to vote.

      • 1mime says:

        Early voting – the problem here is few locations, very limited hours. This makes it very difficult for working class people (and those who commute who leave early, return late) to take advantage of EV. Look at the statistics on who votes early. It’s not working class (labor) people. What should be done is to employ a number of voting options: EV, mail in ballots (for all not just seniors or disabled); longer hours, more days. Even with all these important accommodations, however, there will always be those who don’t vote – maybe we should ask ourselves, why? Why are so many people tuned out of the voting process? Is it because they don’t care? Can’t relate? Don’t think their vote(s) matter?

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I was chatting with a Hispanic cab driver this morning and he asked me if I had voted and I said yes, did you? He said no, that he usually only votes in Presidential elections, that he doesn’t place much importance on local elections. I told him that was his choice but that local elections might be even more important than national ones. Then he said well, ok, MAYBE he would vote today, that he might drop in at a polling place, and I told him that today he could only vote at his precinct location. He still didn’t seem at all enthusiastic about today’s election, so I would wager that he won’t vote today. He usually votes conservative, by the way. Not that that matters.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Mime, I think voter apathy is a much more serious problem than voter suppression or lack of accessibility to voting. You could have month-long 24/7 voting, and people still won’t vote.

        I think the main problem is that they don’t realize the power they hold in their hands.

      • 1mime says:

        Let’s explore your thought, further, Tutta: “They don’t know the power they hold in their hands.”

        Why not? May I suggest that a large percentage of those not voting feel a huge disconnect with the voting process? That they don’t feel their needs will ever be of importance much less addressed? Apathy is a huge problem, Tutta, and I agree that in sheer numbers, it exceeds those who are suppressed from voting. Which begs the question, however…..what needs to be done to encourage and facilitate greater voting turn out? Working people have the most difficulty…..long work hours, child care issues, transportation, literacy, and, very real “voter disconnect” principally based upon having given up on the system.

        Next time you migh ask your cab driver if he knew where his precinct was, that would have been helpful. Things which we take for granted (ballot issues, voting locations, etc) may be absolutely foreign to people whose lives are filled with obligations that are far more relevant to them than voting. Anytime any of us have an opportunity to explain “why” voting matters, that we do so….even if it appears to fall on deaf ears. Unions used to help the working class connect the “why” voting was important to the act. Most seniors receive “push cards” in the mail and applications to vote by mail….and, to their credit, this is chiefly a Republican effort. The rallying cry for the poor and minority vote is usually heralded in a much less sophisticated manner, and reaches a smaller subset of this population.

        I vote because I have always felt my vote mattered. Maybe that is the difference. And, lest I forget, voter suppression in whatever number, is never right. Never.

      • flypusher says:

        “HT, my opinion of you just went up by a thousand points, for being objective.”

        Homer has a virtue just like Chris; the willingness to smack their own if and when the circumstances warrant it. That’s one of the main reasons I keep coming back here.

        Also in total awe of Homer’s mastery of the gentle rebuke. 🙂

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Another reason I hear often: “I don’t know anything about the people running. I don’t want to cast a vote for someone I’ve never heard of.”

        In other words, they don’t want to be uninformed voters.

        We could encourage them to do some research, or in some cases, I have told them about the people running, their views, etc. (if I happen to know myself). I try to be very objective.

        However, there’s only so much we can do before it crosses a line. I don’t want to nag or put pressure on anyone. It’s their choice, and I don’t want to lay a guilt trip on them, either.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I have a coworker who’s a single mother, Hispanic. About 3 weeks ago, we had an objective discussion about the pros and cons of HERO, so I printed out a sample ballot so she could read the actual proposition. She seemed to be opposed to HERO, and I encouraged her to vote according to her conscience. I heard nothing further from her about voting, but today I casually mentioned to her that it was her last chance to vote, and she said “we’ll see.” I left it at that, because I don’t think it’s appropriate for anyone in a senior position to pressure another employee to vote.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Same thing with another cab driver, a White gentleman. He is pro HERO, so angry at hearing arguments against HERO on the radio that he made a wrong turn. I asked if he would vote and he said no, that he didn’t know who anyone was.

        I told him that if he was so in favor of HERO, voting was way more constructive than blowing his top, that being angry accomplished nothing if not accompanied by a vote.

        And I said that if he didn’t know who anyone was, just leave those items blank, and vote for who you DO know. Well, he admitted that when he doesn’t know who anyone is, he always votes for people with Hispanic or Black sounding names.

        Anyway, he DID end up voting.

      • 1mime says:

        Bravo, Tutta! Hopefully, this man will continue to vote. You did good (-;

      • 1mime says:

        Tutta, High school is a great place to teach students about citizenship, in all its ramifications, but middle school is even better. Students at this age are more impressionable and enthusiastic about participating in an exercise in Democracy. Allow me to digress back to an earlier life and a project that achieved exactly what you are describing.

        I was part of a public education advocacy group in the late eighties. There was a gubernatorial election which our steering committee thought could provide an interesting “civics” experiment for middle school history students. We pooled our ideas and came up with a “student’s Gubernatorial forum”. We worked with 6th-8th grade history/social studies/civics teachers who made the debate a unit in their curriculum leading up to the debate. The students learned about the candidates personal qualifications and their platforms. Then they discussed the candidates and held a mock election, which results were kept secret by the teachers until after the real election results were reported. The “final” consisted of questions submitted by the students that would be read at the forum for the candidates. These questions were voted upon by their colleagues and the “best” questions (as deemed by student voting) were read by the student-authors to the individual candidates at the forum. There was a large field of candidates (7 or 8….can’t recall exactly), and to a one, they all said it was the best debate they had ever participated in.

        Lastly, the local television public station recorded the event as did teacher volunteers, and the older students helped edit the video for public airing. It was an outstanding event – a true collaboration between teachers, students, public and candidates. Everyone involved loved doing it and I’ll bet the memory of that experience lives on with all who participated.

        Learning – can be fun, creative, and informative. It can also teach kids why voting is important and what their responsibilities are as citizens.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Mime, a good idea might be to have a class in high school devoted to learning about the voting process — not so much who to vote for — but simply to discuss how to register, the various voting methods available, how early voting works, how to know where to vote on Election Day, what the requirements are.

        I used to think you had to have a voter registration card to vote. I once got to the polls about 6:45pm and realized I didn’t have my card, so I left without voting. I didn’t know that having an ID was enough. I used to think that allowing people to vote with a license or ID instead of a voter card was only done in rare instances, for people who were too forgetful or disorganized to have the proper voter registration card in hand when they showed up at the polls.

      • Tuttabella says:

        Mime, in the early ’80s I participated in a mock United Nations assembly together with other private high school students in the Houston area.

        In one vote I was unsure how to proceed, so I “abstained.” Because of me, the vote ended in a tie and everyone had to revote, and I received a lot of glares from the other students. That’s when it hit me that every vote really counts.

      • 1mime says:

        I’ve always rather relished being the “odd gal out”….on issues that challenged me. Peer pressure is tough, tho, so everyone who wanted to be done with it, were obviously not giving the vote the depth of thought you were.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        One last thing, Mime. Speaking of peer pressure, I hope to God I would have the strength of character to hold my ground were I ever to be the lone holdout on a jury.

      • 1mime says:

        Absolutely you would, Tutta. I have no doubt of that.

    • 1mime says:

      Democrats are hardly pure on a host of issues I find unacceptable. I believe voting should be made as easy as possible for the electorate, employing all options – registration ease, early voting, vote by mail, hours and places of access. I submit that both Democrats and Republicans strategically schedule votes on dates that favor a given outcome (bond issues, HERO vote, etc), but Republicans actively suppress voting – and, target a population that is not friendly to their outcomes. Which is worst? In my view, clearly the latter.

      I also believe that federal elections should either be a declared voting holiday or set on a weekend to encourage voting. Local and state elections should simply be scheduled (by all interested parties) for greatest access and ease of voting.

      Thanks for the link, Homer. I make no apologies for my liberal views but it is important to be both fair and informed. I try to do both but know I need to work harder in this regard.

    • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

      I’m a bit baffled by the opposition to Hero…other than it is somewhat stupid, why would folks sincerely be opposed to an ordinance around making it hard to blatantly discriminate against homosexuals.

  2. Rob Ambrose says:

    OT there’s a pretty interesting Gubernatorial election today in KY. An anti establishment TP candidate won the primary and is close enough in the polls to make it interesting. Be very interesting to see what he does with the ACA if elected, considering Obamacare is more successful in KY then almost anywhere else.

    On one level, I’d hate to see all those people lose health insurance. These are real life consequences that will cause much real life suffering.

    On the bigger picture, sometimes I think the best way to truly defeat much of the GOP orthodoxy is for them to actually win and out their plans into action.

    For example, nothing has more firmly destroyed the credibility of trickle down economics more then Kansas actually implementing it in force. speaking if which, the newest revenues numbers are out and they are horrific.

    Month after month, revenues are down even more then projected just the previous month.

    But hey, at least they lightened the tax burden on doctors, lawyers, and bankers.

    • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

      Kansas’ torture is only meaningful if the people decide that they need to change the politicians.

      If folks vote “freedom from Obamacare”, defunding Planned Parenthood, and working hard to keep Sharia law out of the courthouse in Topeka, then they are just going to continue voting for the folks who are happily “mis-managing” the budget.

      I put “mis-managing” in quotes because for folks who are already wealthy, the budget is being managed just fine for them. I’m not so sure the consequences are all that unintended.

      • 1mime says:

        Ultimately, the people who are most negatively impacted in KS by Brownback’s trickle down economics, will have to step up and vote. If they don’t, then I agree with an earlier comment by Fly, the voters deserve what they get. Hard, but true.

    • 1mime says:

      The Democratic candidate, Conway, has a real shot, as well. It ‘s projected to be a tight race all around. 538 offers an interesting piece on gubernatorial races, including the KY race.

      http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/can-a-democrat-still-win-the-kentucky-governors-race/

  3. Rob Ambrose says:

    And yet another reason why I’ll never go to Florida.

    http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/11/02/opinion/more-stand-your-ground-mischief-in-florida.html

    Summary: a new bill is making its way through the legislature that people using the SYG defense do not have to prove that they in fact felt threatened. Its on the prosecution to DISprove it. Which is of course almost impossible.

    So when police show up and there’s a body and no witnesses, the accused will always go free. About as close to a license to kill as is possible .

    Of course, something tells me it’s far easier to convince a jury of Floridians (those if the elderly, fearful kind) that a white guy is much more naturally “in fear of his life” from an unarmed black fella then the other way around.

    • 1mime says:

      Madness. But, when you read, “Just Mercy”, you’ll realize that they’ve been doing things like this all along. Now they’re attempting to codify what has been practice. Sickening.

    • Sir Magpie De Crow says:

      Speaking of a state like Florida…

      Mississippi.

      Here is exhibit A in why my ancestors relocated/fled that state for the harmony and tranquility of… 1930’s Chicago.

      http://www.cbsnews.com/news/marshall-leonard-confederate-flag-bombs-walmart-police/#article

      “A man known for flying a 4-foot-long Mississippi state flag on his car has been accused of bombing a Walmart because the chain stopped selling the flag, the police chief said Monday.”

      Noteworthy comments made by people thus far regarding the story about the thankfully failed attempt at domestic terrorism (Yeah I said it).

      “What a guy, bombing the only store he patronizes for not selling something he wants…..classic exercise in stupidity.”

      “A redneck bombing a Walmart. Isn’t that kind of like a muslim bombing a mosque?”

  4. Rob Ambrose says:

    Gotta love the clown car. Whining like schoolchildren because they get asked a few tough questions. All of which were factually correct.

    Meanwhile, Hillary at 67 nails an 11 hr grueling inquisition by a hostile partisan group

    • Griffin says:

      We already made bets on when/if Trump’s campaign collapses, maybe we should take bets on how badly the probably insane GOP nominee will lose to Hillary Clinton. I’m leaning towards “largest popular vote defeat since 1972”. So something around 58-42 where the popular vote is concerned.

      • flypusher says:

        We should include the EC total as a tie breaker. Also how long Carl Rove holds on to hope.

      • 1mime says:

        Karl Rove – I’m kind of interested as to what happens to all the money he raised for Jeb. Surely, those who can afford to write $100K checks build in a rebate provision…The other interesting thing is what Rove’s stake is in encouraging Jeb to stay in the race….when so many solid pundits have pronounced the death sentence. Of course the pundits could be premature in their finding, but it is interesting to ponder who has the most to lose by calling it quits….Jeb, or Rove. Could he end up being the odd man out with no other candidate in the wings? Is Rove a one-trick (one family) pony?

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Griff…I would take that bet in a heartbeat.

        The last President to hit 58% of the popular vote was Reagan against Mondale in 1984.

        Hillary’s upside is as low as any “favorite’s” upside could be.

        Hillary is wildly well-known and is generally polarizing. There are big groups of folks who hate Hillary (for any number of stupid) reasons, big groups of folks who don’t trust Hillary (for a few good reasons), and big groups of people who don’t like her politics (for legitimate reasons).

        None of those folks are ever going to vote for Hillary.

        Hillary might pick up a few women who are voting for her because she would be the first female President, but she also will lose some number of folks who would not vote for her because she is a woman (but let’s hope most of those folks wouldn’t vote for a Democrat anyway).

        She might pick up some female voters scared off by an overly right-wing GOP candidate, but women have already been abandoning the GOP, so I’m not sure how much more she picks up. If they weren’t scared off before, what is changing now other than, “oh shit, they are actually serious about this stuff? We thought they were just joking before”.

        She will get a slightly smaller percentage of African American votes than did Obama. This will probably be about 5% less unless there is bit more because she is a woman, but I figure those folks would just stay home rather than voting GOP.

        I’m not sure why Hillary snags a larger percentage of Hispanics than did Obama, and if Cruz or Rubio are on the ticket, they will undoubtedly get a few votes because of their ethnicity. That probably won’t be a large percentage, but it will be some.

        The red states are really, really red, and the blue states are just kinda blue.

        To mime’s point about younger conservatives a post or two ago, as a group, millennials lean liberal, but white millennials are just about evenly split GOP/Democrat and liberal/conservative. Want to guess which group is more likely to show up and vote?

        On her best day in 2016, Hillary won’t crack 53% of the popular vote. I would be happy with 50.1%

      • Griffin says:

        @Homer But you’re not accounting for Hillary’s greatest strength which is that she’s not one of the insane Republican candidates. Whoever the GOP nominee is will scare non-Republicans to the polls to vote for Hillary even if they aren’t her biggest fans. Even people who aren’t fond of Hillary may pull the lever for her if her opponent is Trump/Cruz.

        Basically Clinton would crush them not because Clinton is particularly strong but because the only alternative to her in a general elction, the GOP, is utterly dysfunctional, disorganized, and extreme, leaving her by default as the only “real” candidate

      • flypusher says:

        No doubt Cruz or Trump would fire up the GOP base. But they’d also fire up the Dem base; how much would remain to be seen. Also Cruz sure has burned quite a few bridges in the Senate.

        Even though there is a case to be made that Hilary has better odds of defeating a RWNJ, I’d rather the RWNJ never get the GOP nomination ITFP. The election of 2000 taught me to assume nothing.

      • 1mime says:

        Paul Ryan has been pretty outspoken in criticism of Trump; however, today, on one of his five Sunday am appearances, he was asked directly if he would support Trump if he were the nominee. He said, “yes”, that he would support “whoever” is the Republican nominee in order to Not elect Hillary Clinton. (I’ve heard this same very public statement from Rubio and many others in the GOP….)”If” she does become president, she will face the same obstruction that Obama faced. I think she could handle it better….for one thing, she wouldn’t try to make friends with any of them, and her experience will serve her well (as will having the “first lady, Willamina” in the wings advising her). But, what a pathetic thing to say, knowing full well that she could become the president. There is no effort to hide or sugar coat their views of these members of the Republican Party. I never felt Trump would be the candidate….I thought it would be Bush/Kasich. Guess that goes to show how much I know. It appears now that Cruz/? have a very good chance. With a little over a year til the 2016 election, I guess anything can happen. One thing is certain – this is going to be one ugly election cycle.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Fly – totally agree with this sentiment.

        “The election of 2000 taught me to assume nothing.”

        Griff – I would point out that W (who’s stated positions were not wildly different than Cruz’s) won re-election.

        While many folks here would agree that Cruz is unpleasant (the man is not insane), Gallup had the following numbers a bit earlier in the year:

        Favorable: Clinton 43%; Cruz 25%
        Unfavorable: Clinton 46%; Cruz 34%
        Never Heard of: Clinton 2%; Cruz 29%
        No Opinion: Clinton 9%; Cruz 12%

        Of the 29% who have never heard of Cruz, you could make the argument that this group might be a bit of “low information voters” who might like some of Cruz’s rhetoric. Even if not, you would assume he would pick up at least 12% once that group knows who he is.

        So, you are dealing with a country in which 37% will have a favorable view of Cruz. Let that sink in for a while.

        Another 9% know who he is and have no opinion of him (I can’t imagine that, but OK). Half of that 9% is likely to vote GOP and the other half Democrats. So now, we are at 42% without even trying.

        Then, you have GOP folks who don’t have a favorable opinion of Cruz but dislike Hillary even more. These are going to be older, White, GOP’ers, and of all the groups that love to go out and vote, it is older, White GOP’ers.

        You are much more likely to find an electoral landslide than a popular vote landslide (Hillary might win lots of states by 5% but then lose Texas and the south by 25%).

        I hope your confidence proves to be well founded, but no incumbent running, a weak economy, and the presumptive Democrat nominee has an unfavorable rating in the mid-40s before the general campaign even starts. I’m going to hold off on the confidence for a bit.

      • 1mime says:

        Homer, I’m curious about something. If Hillary is elected, do you think she would face greater opposition than Barack Obama did? Is the vitriol deeper for a Clinton? And, if so, how would that impact her ability to govern?

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Mime – that is a hard one to call.

        I think Hillary is viewed as more pragmatic and probably a better “player” of the political game than is Obama, but it is not as though Obama planted wildly liberal flags in the ground and refused to budge. Obama seemed more than ready (too ready) to compromise.

        As much as I would like to see Hillary banging some hollow heads together and really laying into the GOP, the history of Bill’s “triangulation” and compromising suggests something different. No idea if Hillary will have that same strategy, but she has already staked out some pretty conservative-friendly positions.

        It probably depends more on the GOP than on Hillary’s talent. If they are sufficiently embarrassed in 2016 (losing the Senate too), then the moderate republicans coalesce into a group that is as cohesive as the Tea Party folks, and that group begins working at least a little bit with Democrats (without as much fear of being “primaried” because the election in 2016 was a clear rebuke to arch conservatives).

        I didn’t watch Ryan on the shows this morning, but you have to expect a GOP Speaker of the House to say he would undoubtedly support any GOP candidate over the presumptive Democrat candidate. There is no way he could say anything other than that.

        I voted for Obama, but I thought he didn’t have enough experience for the job. I don’t know what “enough experience” is, but being the junior senator from Illinois probably isn’t it. Hillary will get up to speed a bit faster, but if her opposition is still willing to burn the house down rather than vote for something, then it may not matter how quickly she gets up to speed.

        Assuming she faces the same level of opposition as did Obama, maybe she more quickly sees the writing on the wall and takes more unilateral action more quickly than did Obama.

      • Griffin says:

        Well you’ve talked me into being a bit more scared of Cruz I’ll admit. I still think Clinton will win the electoral vote by a large margin (probably larger than Obama vs Romney) but how much of the popular vote would she probably win by? I’m not so sure anymore, though I still think Cruz will lose the popular vote by a larger margin than Romney did.

        The electorate is more ideologically liberal than it was in 2000 (partly due to Millenials getting a bad impression of the GOP from the Bush years), the demographics have changed in favor of Dems, and while George W. Bush was fairly extreme Ted Cruz is much moreso, to the point of being widely known as “the guy who almost crashed the US economy from the Senate”. GWB at least tried to run a little to the centre during the election but Cruz couldn’t even try anymore.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Griff – my optimism for this statement “The electorate is more ideologically liberal than it was in 2000 (partly due to Millenials getting a bad impression of the GOP from the Bush years),” is not nearly as strong as your.

        Maybe “electorate” is right, but if the word is “voters”, I’m not sure you are right.

        It seems as they there was a set of elections in November 2014. The Democrats lost seats in the Senate and the House. That was a measly 12 months ago.

        I know there are all sorts of explanations for why the news was not as good for the GOP as it seemed (Chris provided a rather bleak analysis of the GOP win), but until we get some election results that actually back up your confidence, I’m going to be much more cautious.

      • goplifer says:

        Even if the nominee is Trump or Cruz, you can’t expect Clinton’s popular vote totals to be north of about 55%. It has nothing to do with her as a candidate, it’s a just a matter of having a “D” after her name.

        The GOP’s hardened demographic appeal may have locked them out of the White House for the foreseeable future, but it has also led to a tribalization of the electorate. It doesn’t matter who the candidates are. There is very little room for swing in the popular vote.

        By the way, anything beyond 55% for Clinton would also mean that the GOP would be starting to break apart. Breach that threshold under these conditions and you have created enough political space for an independent or a 3rd party to make it.

      • 1mime says:

        Those of us who are Democrats here, would feel validated to see an implosion of the hard right faction of the Republican Party – NOT, the party itself. America needs a viable two-party, but one that respects the democratic process, which has not been the case for several years.

        I worry about eight (not 4 JG (-: ) more years of gridlock if Hillary is elected and if the Republican Party – as driven and validated by their base – continues down the same path they’ve been following. I have no doubt that Paul Ryan will be much smoother than Boehner, but I also have no doubt as to his very conservative politics. That he has agreed to the Hastert Rule with the HFC bodes poorly for the foreseeable future. Like it or not, as Homer pointed out, realists cannot nor should not ignore the sweeping wins by the GOP in ’10, ’12, ’14 in Congress and for governor. That may have had less to do with the quality of the GOP candidates than it did with their strategy and their constituency, but the end result was a Republican sweep that was unparalleled in history.

        Democrats have a lot of work to do internally (to develop and elect) new progressive candidates and to get a seat at the table – now. Bad policies need to be repealed or modified. Most importantly, government needs to function. This will require consensus and compromise by the parties, and that will take leadership. Ryan “could” but “will” he be able to move past his own ultra conservative beliefs and the will of those within the GOP hell-bent on getting their way. As noted, Clinton can’t do it by herself, although with Democratic control of the Senate, more could be accomplished, depending upon majority control. At least the Democrats have demonstrated an interest in governing sensibly, so I’ll hope for that. (I have my flak jacket ready for all the arrows…..)

        David Brooks in his NYT op ed, gave glowing praise for Ryan and Rubio, who evidently are his “picks” for a GOP resurgence. While I agree Rubio has potential, I do not believe he is ready for the office of President. His ideas highlighted in Brooks’ piece, may be important in offering a new direction – “if” Republicans are interested, and, if Democrats can’t rally the vote. This is where the rubber meets the road. Millennials may be numerous, they may be social liberals, but it is far from predictable as to whether they will actually vote, especially if Sanders is not the Dem Presidential candidate. Then there is the Democratic base, which is far harder to motivate to vote than the GOP base. That’s fact. That will be crucial in this election.

      • 1mime says:

        I referred earlier to my concern that Paul Ryan agreed to follow the Hastert Rule. The Weekly Sift has an instructive piece about just what this means in the legislative process in the House.

        “….(it) says that the Speaker won’t bring a bill to the floor unless a majority of the Republican caucus supports it. Since there are 247 Republicans in the 435-member House, that means that 124 Republicans — less than 30% of the total House — can block any legislation. If Speaker Boehner had stuck to the Hastert Rule, the United States would be hitting its debt ceiling on Thursday, unleashing chaos in the global economy.”

        Many other interesting thoughts in this blog post: http://weeklysift.com/2015/11/02/losing-to-idiots/

      • vikinghou says:

        Cruz would also be hampered by his residency. I think there is a lot of animus around the country toward Texas politicians in general.

      • johngalt says:

        My biggest concern about a President Clinton is four more years of gridlocked politics. The GOP has been obstructionist and antagonistic towards Obama and they had no real reason (at least not one that anyone will say out loud) to hate him. They’ve hated Hillary for more than 20 years and once tried to impeach her husband for boinking an intern. The animosity towards is part of their being.

      • vikinghou says:

        Well John, I’ll take four more years of gridlock over a GOP presidency any day. I am fixated on the Supreme Court and who the future justices may be.

      • 1mime says:

        Boy, you are absolutely correct about that, Viking! We’ve seen what a conservative majority can achieve on the Supreme Court, however narrow (5/4). Imagine what a court which has demonstrated aggressive legislative activism would be able to do if their majority was increased. That is worth worrying about. Of course, if the Dems don’t re-take the Senate and the Presidency, it will be impossible to get any balancing nominees approved. So, the “size” of the win in the Senate is also critical. Lots is riding on this election in 2016, and you can bet that both parties – especially the GOP – knows it. Expect a full court press…(pardon the pun)

      • Griffin says:

        @Lifer My mind has now been convincingly changed on this although that actually sounds like a worse situation for the Republicans today than the Democrats had it in the 1980’s. Tribalization mean that they will lose by smaller margins but they will lose much more consistantly and have less hope of winning and it will be harder for them to hold Congress because of less ticket splitting.

        For instance the majority of voters in the 1980 and 1984 election voted for both a Republican president and a Democratic Congressman. I’m less sure they will do that if they are more clearly aligned party lines. I think once the GOP is locked out of both the White House and Congress (like the Southern Democrats were after the 1860 election) than they will have to choose whether to change, rebel, and/or to implode, if they make it that far in the first place.

      • objv says:

        JG, there are plenty of reasons for the animus toward Obama.

        1. From the start, Obama blamed everything on Bush and Republicans. There was no attempt to take any responsibility for any of his failed economic measures even into the second term of his presidency.
        2. Ramming healthcare reform through congress without sufficient attempt to allay public concerns.
        3. Failure to enforce immigration laws.
        4. Executive actions on immigration and threats to use executive action to raise taxes.
        5. Appointment of two extremely liberal supreme court justices.
        6. Obama’s views on income redistribution.
        7. Obama’s view of business – the companies “didn’t build it” philosophy.
        7. Household income depressed.
        8. Lessened expectation for finding a good job.
        9. Increased poverty and reliance on government programs.
        10. Obama’s views on gun control.
        11. Obama’s religious intolerance toward those who don’t share his beliefs.
        12. Failure to listen to military generals and experts and the rise of ISIS
        13. Obama’s support of Planned Parenthood.

        How many reasons would you like?

        You may not think these issues are valid, but to conservatives they are polarizing. Hate might be too strong a word, but Obama’s use of demagoguery against those who do not share his worldview has been divisive and decreased the chance that anything meaningful can be accomplished.

      • goplifer says:

        Now go back and comb through that list for items that have some basis in facts. Seriously, it ends up being a very short list. More to the point, you end up with a list of items that aren’t meaningfully different from legitimate complaints about the last three administrations.

      • 1mime says:

        Ob, I’m a glutton for punishment, but since you drafted “your” list, allow me to offer my rebuttal: ( I am sure you will continue to hear from others on this blog who are absolutely amazed. Feel free to weigh in.)

        1. From the start, Obama blamed everything on Bush and Republicans. There was no attempt to take any responsibility for any of his failed economic measures even into the second term of his presidency.
        From the start, everything was Bush and Republicans responsibility and, by defaut, fault. They had served the previous 8 years, and the greatest recession that our country has known, did occur on W’s watch. Exactly “what” failed economic measures of Obama’s are you referring to? Please be specific.

        2. Ramming healthcare reform through congress without sufficient attempt to allay public concerns.
        Yeah, Dems rammed the ACA through Congress….a plan drafted by the Heritage Foundation for the Republicans…45 million Americans were uninsured and the recession surely didn’t help that problem. We have been waiting FOR YEARS for the Republican’s health care plan….where is it?

        3. Failure to enforce immigration laws.
        Oh, yeah. JG answered that one nicely. Hope you read it. You really want to deport children who were brought into America as babies and young children who have known no other country but America? What is your plan to deal with this problem?

        4. Executive actions on immigration and threats to use executive action to raise taxes.
        Wow. Yeah, O is guilty of TRYING to do something in the abosolute void of solutions by Republicans whose solution is, WHAT? EO to raise taxes? Be specific.

        5. Appointment of two extremely liberal supreme court justices.
        OMG. What do you call Scalia? Hey, don’t take my word for it, read: “Today’s court, headed by John Roberts with seven justices appointed by Republican presidents, is generally considered more conservative than the Supreme Court of the 1950s,” http://www.usnews.com/news/national/articles/2008/05/12/ranking-the-politics-of-supreme-court-justices

        6. Obama’s views on income redistribution.
        Oh, income redistribution when it’s going to the middle class and poor is different than when it goes to the top 1%! Come on!! You can’t really mean that you are unaware of the wealthy concentration in the U.,S. You think all these mega-rich people didn’t benefit from tax loopholes, offshore sheltering of income, carried interest tax policy…and on and on?

        7. Obama’s view of business – the companies “didn’t build it” philosophy.
        If you are a literal thinker, companies did build it. If you are a smart business analyst, you acknowledge the infrastructure that Government provided.

        7. Household income depressed.
        And, you are going to blame Obama for this? When the nation was hemorrhaging jobs, people were losing homes hand over fist, and people had NO health insurance?

        8. Lessened expectation for finding a good job.
        That is true, the bottom fell out of the jobs market in late 2008 under W’s tenure, and continued into 2009 when Obama took office. Are you aware that the federal deficit under W rose to 1.4Trillion dollars and under O is now $468 Billion dollars? Who do you think should get credit for this? How hard do you think it was to take the reins in ’09 when America’s economy was in free fall? http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2015/01/26/cbo-report-budget/22353147/, or,
        the WSJ: “The economy has 5.7 million more jobs today than when Mr. Obama took office in January of 2009. That puts his total job creation ahead of presidents John Kennedy, Gerald Ford, and George H.W. Bush, who each served one term or less. It also puts him well ahead of President George W. Bush, whose final year in office also comprised the beginning to the longest and deepest recession since the Great Depression.”
        http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2014/12/05/in-ranking-presidents-by-job-creation-obama-still-lags/
        9. Increased poverty and reliance on government programs.
        Yes, during recessions, there is increased poverty and reliance on government programs.
        10. Obama’s views on gun control.
        Yeah, Obama wants universal background checks. So do the great majority of Americans.
        11. Obama’s religious intolerance toward those who don’t share his beliefs.
        Really? Cite your source. This smacks of hyperbole. Prove it.
        12. Failure to listen to military generals and experts and the rise of ISIS
        Yes, he is probably guilty of being cautious about going to war….would that W would have been a little more cautious. Still, O is definitely a proponent of diplomacy over war. As for the rise of ISIS, historians have attributed the rise of this group to W’s Iraq war. ISIS rose out of Al Queda.

        13. Obama’s support of Planned Parenthood.
        You got me there ! He sure does support PP. So do I.

      • johngalt says:

        objv, what you have listed are a set of reasons why someone who didn’t vote for him would be tired of Obama at this point. Second-term fatigue is pretty common. The right-wing loathed the man from day one. There was no honeymoon for him, no pretense of working with him. The stated goal was to make him a one-termer. In short, the GOP may have had its reasons for the animosity, but they are not the ones you listed.

      • objv says:

        Lifer, you may not agree with these reasons, but they are why many conservatives can’t stand Obama.

        Yes, Bush was disliked and voters thought he did a poor job. The pendulum has swung the other way now. Obama made many promises to unite the country and increase prosperity. What are we left with? Increased division, increased poverty, and decreased hope for many families.

      • Griffin says:

        That list of generic talking points is not to be snorted at, laughed at, or guffawed at even though many non-Republicans who read it would do exactly that. It is a reminder that not only can you not speak to far-right Republicans without coming across as crazy to everyone else but you can not speak to everyone else without coming across as crazy to far-right Republicans. And the inability to reach them could have real world consequences such as if they actually do damage to Planned Parenthood.

      • objv says:

        JG, personally, I do not loathe Obama. He does have some strong positives. He seems to be sincere in his beliefs (misguided though they may be). He has a strong marriage, he is a good father and a great role model in those respects.

        From the start, my own concerns were that his goals were to institute liberal changes that would leave the US weaker. Since then, his actions have confirmed what I thought from the start. From my perspective, it is Obama who has consistently refused to compromise. From his actions on health care to immigration, Obama has not wanted to work with Republicans or acknowledge the concerns of more conservative members of the public.

      • Crogged says:

        George Carlin’s observation regarding traffic somehow seems appropriate when confronted with Republican complaints of Mr. Obama’s conspiratorial amateurism.

        Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?

      • objv says:

        Well, yes, Griffin, I would love to do damage to PP. It would be a positive for women to go somewhere else for well women visits and contraception. Funding clinics with no ties to the abortion industry would be ideal.

        Sure, I agree that conservatives sound crazy to liberals and liberals sound crazy to conservatives. My list sounds crazy to you and I think you’re crazy for not thinking my list makes sense.

        Ha, Crogged! Since not many people drive faster than me, they may indeed be maniacs. 🙂

      • johngalt says:

        Well, Obama was elected as a left-of-center president after 28 years of right-of-center presidents (don’t try to claim Clinton was liberal, he wasn’t), so he tried to implement some of the policies he promised he’d implement. That’s what you do when you win an election.

        As for him not being willing to work with Republicans, you cannot really be serious. There were hundreds of GOP-sponsored amendments in the PPACA, which was basically a re-warmed version of a plan introduced by Republican senators in 1993. The GOP killed immigration reform when Bush tried it and Obama has actually stepped up deportations, yet you are focused on his formalizing what was already being done, which was to deprioritize enforcement for low risk people. And yet you have a significant number of people supporting a candidate who tosses off comments about deporting 11 million people and getting Mexico to pay for a border wall.

        The GOP-led House has done literally nothing constructive for five years. No major legislation, no immigration reform, no tax reform. They have voted more than 50 times to repeal Obamacare and several times taken us to the brink of meltdowns because of their budgetary intransigence. We are supposed to compromise with this? We are supposed to work with this?

      • goplifer says:

        Obama has led Administration significantly to the right of Nixon on every conceivable count. That list of complaints is utter bullshit. I am exhausted dealing with bullshit. Our obsession with our own bullshit fantasy narrative of the world is beginning to have some genuinely damaging consequences. Unfortunately, it seems to be a hardened habit. Not sure how its going to change, even as the damage mounts.

      • 1mime says:

        How can conservatives even believe their own crap? Obama intolerant of other peoples’ religions? Failing to create jobs? I took a shot at debunking this only because it was such utter bullshit that I couldn’t ignore it. Honestly, my time is worth more than the effort I expended in refutation of this GOP laundry list. I will not do so again. I’m thoroughly disgusted.

      • objv says:

        Lifer, Exactly. We have a breakthrough moment. Hallelujah. To you it is “bullshit,” to most conservatives it is fertilizer. As usual, you’re going to have to hold your nose and wade through what you consider to be a horrid, stinky, slimy mess in order to cope with being a Republican. That is not going to change any time soon.

        Most conservatives do not want to reward breaking immigration laws. Religious people are not going to tear up their Bibles or cut out the sections on homosexuality. Conservatives are not going to agree with you on minimum income. They will continue to think abortion is murder and Planned Parenthood is an abomination. They want to keep their guns. They will continue to want a smaller, less intrusive government.

        Do you ever wonder why liberals love your blog? The way you see the world is much the same. So, instead of continuously tweaking your own narrative about the trouble lying with Southern, religious white folks and their racism why not come to the realization that the issues important to many Republicans may vary, but they are not going to change. I’m not going to change my religion, tthor is not going to give up his guns, and Cap (wherever he is) is never going to say abortion is right.

      • goplifer says:

        Bullshit has a pretty specific meaning. It is material that is ‘not quite true, yet difficult to disprove.’ Marketing, for example, is an entire profession organized around the production of bullshit.

        There is nothing inherently dangerous or upsetting about bullshit. What makes bullshit dangerous is when we grow confused about its meaning and purpose, when we begin to believe our own marketing.

        I may choose not change, but the world around me has no intention of accommodating my will. Facts are relentless and unforgiving. I may retreat farther and farther into the mountains for escape, I may narrow my information sources to steadily weed out inconvenient details, but there is no hiding from the changing weather. Facts will always win in the long game.

        The sentiments you express help explain why we’re going to lose the next election, and why so many Republicans will be baffled at our failure. Nature has no mercy on those who fail to adapt. I’m making plans for a longer future.

      • vikinghou says:

        Lifer,

        Your last comment brought back memories of engineering school. One of my professors had a saying that always rings true: “Mother Nature bats last.”

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        Wow, that escalated quickly. Hope you are not offended by me saying, I think I know you. You seem likeable and a decent person. What I don’t know is why our perceptions are so different. I have started to realize that we have differences in our brain that cause these conceptual differences.

        As for our religious differences, I am around 69 years old. I grew up saying a Christian prayer in school. No one asked if I was offended by this. I could have been a Muslim or Buddhist. Or, gasp, an Athiest! Years, of this mistreatment. But, after all, that was the point, wasn’t it? Saying to all, this is a Christian country, so suck it little late comer.

        Haven’t heard much from tthor lately, but whether he is representative of the Gun Owners of America, I don’t know. I do believe that most gun owners want gun safety regulation and they are or will be leading the gun manufacturers and the gun lobby to common sense legislation.

        So, what do you think when you look at charts showing how the economy was going into the crapper at the end of W’s term? Or when you read the Heritage Foundations Report,

        http://thf_media.s3.amazonaws.com/1989/pdf/hl218.pdf

        how was it right when a conservative says it and wrong when a liberal says, yes, you are correct?

      • objv says:

        “Wow, that escalated quickly. Hope you are not offended by me saying, I think I know you. You seem likeable and a decent person. What I don’t know is why our perceptions are so different. I have started to realize that we have differences in our brain that cause these conceptual differences.”

        Unarmed, thanks for the chuckle. I might add that you also seem likeable and a decent person. My husband and I often go camping with a liberal couple. Do we discuss politics? Never. Aside from my friend’s occasional comments about how wonderful Hillary is and my occasional comments about government regulations, we avoid politics like the plague. We know it could ruin our friendship.

        I read a book by Daniel Kahneman awhile back. According to him, our brains are not all that different. The problem is that we are hard-wired to make decisions with our emotions and then try to justify our decisions by relying mainly on the information which supports our views. It does not matter how intelligent a person is. Extremely smart people often make horrible decisions when it comes to investing, love, taking risks … and, yes, politics.

        Take, for example, my claim that conservatives think that Obama is intolerant of religious beliefs unlike his own. Mime wants proof. I think immediately of the Little Sisters of the Poor case which is being heard by the Supreme Court. Would that be a valid example to any of you? I have a feeling that it would not.

        One of the reasons, I have been contributing to this blog, has been the desire to challenge my own beliefs. I don’t know if this has been a good idea since making arguments to support my views has made my beliefs more entrenched than they were before.

      • Griffin says:

        “Do you ever wonder why liberals love your blog? The way you see the world is much the same.”

        Ugh this is silly. Maybe I’m too interested in ideology for my own good but as I said below Lifer is largely a Burkean Conservative with Ordoliberal influences and his prime concern is the benefit of capital. American Liberals on the other hand are social democrats with closer ties to labor. That was how the American political system should be and how it funtioned pretty well for a long time (1930-1990 whereabouts), with one party representing those personally invested in labour such as blue collar workers, farmers, and renters and the other representing those who were more personally invested in capital such as white collar professionals, businessmen, landlords, etc. It’s a great way to balance economic interests but you need both sides to be functional, willing to compromise, and to pose a threat to the other in elections for it to work (the pro-capital side made up for smaller numbers with better funding and organization).

        As a liberal I can tell you what Lifer is proposing and has proposed is not even left of Nixon. In fact his idea for a $15,000 minimum income is probably less liberal than what Nixon and many other Rockefeller Republcians may have been willing to pass back in the day (adjusted for inflation of course). It is a centrist/centre-right Republican point of view that is more closely tied to capital than to labor. The problem with the modern GOP is that its extreme social conservatism leaves it unconcerned with either because it’s rebelling against much of modern society as a whole and everyone looks “liberal” in comparison to them. And now the Democrats don’t have a clear agenda because they represent both labour and the capitalists who are scared off by the GOP, leaving them confused as a party (thus why they can barely do anything while holding both the White House and majorities in both houses).

        Sorry for the rant but I had to get that out of my system.

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        obv – “One of the reasons, I have been contributing to this blog, has been the desire to challenge my own beliefs. I don’t know if this has been a good idea since making arguments to support my views has made my beliefs more entrenched than they were before.”

        I like to hear from the conservative side of this blog, You, Doug, tthor. I have to admit I miss the Captn occasionally. So please continue to contribute.

        I have read recently that there is a difference in our brain function. That is between conservative and liberal. If that is true, does it mean that we are doomed to argue forever over these points? I have someone close to me that is definitely a conservative. He says he does not listen to Fox news. However his community is primarily a gun forum. I can usually tell what his take is on any news item by listening to conservative radio a day before talking to him. When I read tthor it’s as if I’m talking to my guy.

        So what I want is a government filled with technocrats, that compare states, and countries for best practices. Sorta like science.

        I assume I can’t have that if half the country don’t allow me to have it because of their faith.

        I want to change your mind.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        So, Christian Obama has religious intolerance of other Christian’s views.

        There are few things more fun than a group that comprises 75% of the population and exerts tremendous control of social, political, and economic power to continually feel oppressed. Just too much fun.

      • johngalt says:

        “I think immediately of the Little Sisters of the Poor case which is being heard by the Supreme Court.”

        So you are using the Obama’s administration’s attempt to enforce an obscure aspect of employment law as a sign that he is religiously intolerant? The Little Sisters, egged on by far-right think tanks, decided that they had a moral objection to a common medical option and refused to pay for it for their secular employees. What other aspects of employment law do they find objectionable? Paying overtime? Health codes? A lot of religious conservatives have been trying to sell a narrative that gay people want “special rights” to same-sex marriage. Well here is a case in which they are frothing at the mouth to approve special rights for a group.

        Beyond this, though, bringing this nonsense up as evidence that the president is intolerant is the very definition of bullshit. The administration attempted to enforce duly passed legislation evenly across all employers, the right-wing went crazy, an injunction was issued by an Obama-nominated justice, and the case is being heard. THAT IS HOW THE SYSTEM IS SUPPOSED TO WORK. Building this up into something more than this is a sign of the knee-jerk biases. Objv, can you think of even a single thing related to governance that Obama has done that you support? Even one thing?

        (As a side note, you’d have a point about the selective granting of exemptions, to unions for instance, about various ACA issues, but that’s not the point you’re trying to make.)

      • 1mime says:

        Ob bases her point about Obama’s religious intolerance upon the request by the Sisters of the Poor for religious exception. Specifically, the requirement that the Sisters provide insurance access to contraception to their employees in the 30 nursing homes they operate. Here’s the nut of the case:

        “To be eligible, the organization must certify to its insurance company that it opposes coverage for contraceptives. Alternately, it can send a letter to the government saying so and providing the name of its insurance company. The insurers and government take over from there to provide the services.

        But the groups say either of those options serve as a “trigger” that allows the contraceptives to be provided — and makes them complicit in what they consider sin.”

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/at-supreme-court-little-sisters-of-the-poor-has-a-ring-to-it/2015/10/18/ea7078ac-7415-11e5-8d93-0af317ed58c9_story.html

        Makes them complicit in what they consider sin.

        Let that sink in, all ye who are Catholic and have used contraception at some point in your life.

        We’ve been down this road of “choice” many times and what it means for women and couples who are trying to plan families and prevent unwanted or untimely pregnancies. It is an important health tool and choice that should be available to women who want it and need it. I wonder how many “good” Catholics who have used contraception thought they were sinning. Maybe, just maybe, they thought they were being responsible. And, maybe they thought it was no one else’s business or right to deny them that choice.

  5. 1mime says:

    Well, this article is certainly on topic….even if it refers to politics around 1900. Amazing how things repeat themselves, isn’t it? As the article’s targeted party (Steffins) found: “politicians are, as a group, no better or worse than the rest of us. If they stink, something’s rotten with the system that feeds them. ”

    My, my. Pete, repeat. Which brings us to Griffins suggestions for structural change, which those in the early twentieth century found was the most effective way to deal with the problem. “Go around it.”

    A most interesting read.

    Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/what-early-20th-century-muckraker-lincoln-steffens-might-offer-21st-century-voter-180957052/#PwAiuHdcG2zj1EYR.99
    Give the gift of Smithsonian magazine for only $12! http://bit.ly/1cGUiGv
    Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on Twitter

  6. 1mime says:

    OT, but interesting example of digital activism to ferret out discrimination and hate.

    http://thehill.com/policy/cybersecurity/258721-anonymous-threatens-to-unmask-alleged-kkk-members

    • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

      Anonymous is viewed as the good guys when they are attacking people we view an enemies but they are viewed as enemies when they are attacking our friends. Their record is decidedly mixed.

      In this case, it seems as though some of the early reports of KKK-ness have been inaccurate. Nothing good comes from that.

      • 1mime says:

        Good to know, Homer. Not saying I approve, just that it is an interesting new front in fighting for/against ideology. I’m sure there are some KKK members out there but they seem to be keeping their pointy heads down….all those other RW nutjobs deflect attention from the old racist groups.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Anonymous is a somewhat scary group, even when they are on the side of angels.

        Given the typical person’s digital fingerprints and Anonymous’ ability to hack relatively secure locations, it just shows that if someone is dedicated to doing it, he or she can find out just about everything they want to know about any of us.

  7. flypusher says:

    This TPer is certainly happy about shaking up the Speaker position:

    http://theweek.com/articles/585385/speaker-paul-ryan-tea-partys-greatest-triumph

    But I do have to wonder if he’ll still be singing that happy tune the first time Ryan has to strike a deal with the Dems.

    I don’t have an issue with the ends (less power for the Speaker, a more parliamentary style body), but I totally loathe some of the means (playing fiscal chicken when the world ecomony is still trying to shake off the Great Recession).

    • 1mime says:

      Fiscal chicken is a great concern, as is the total disregard if not disdain, for the compromise process that was built into the system. The Hastert Rule, (which essentially specifies that the majority power will bring no legislation forward that will require minority party support) is an abuse of the democratic process and defeats any semblance of bi-partisanship. It needs to go, however, Ryan agreed to this principle (as I recall reading) with the HFC as a condition for their support. I will be watching to see how he is able to function without Democratic support on fiscal issues and other “must pass” legislation.

  8. unarmedandunafraid says:

    Chris – Not sure if you have seen this.

    The Finnish Social Insurance Institution is to begin drawing up plans for a citizens’ basic income model.

    http://yle.fi/uutiset/kela_to_prepare_basic_income_proposal/8422295

  9. Shel Anderson says:

    Your commentaries are always interesting, even to a progressive like me. I wonder if you know the book Hellfire Nation by James Morone. He looks at the way big grassroots issues ranging from pornography (read: women’s reproductive info) to anti-slavery have created major bureaucracies and power in the federal government. As we see today in the border patrol.

  10. Martin says:

    Chris – you have this amazing perspective, commenting on news from two steps behind and opening the door to where the issues really are. I have thought for quite some time that the American democracy is not exactly an export article. An additional element to this story are the tremendous obstacles built into the process of how our constitution can be changed. Or cannot. Unless it came from God, there must be an easier way to adapt it to an ever faster changing world.

  11. BigWilly says:

    Once, in a great long while, which not to be confused with time, because there was a while before time, because there was no time. I might have used your instead of you’re. There’s also the occasional run-on, the splice, the malapropism. It happens. And it sits right there, on the page, immutable, for all the world to see. If the world actually cared.

    Who is Gerry Mander, and why is everyone always talkin at him?

    https://www.bing.com/search?q=harry%20nilsson%20everybody's%20talking&form=EDGENT&qs=AS&cvid=b91be7065a4f4318b4f7d943d448f472&pq=harry%20nilsson%20e&elv=AD0oKtJu*4cPA7N9qBpPS3baYZhslH5HvHeqi7wdFRfT

    Is thinking the condition of existence? Rats genuflect. I find that amazing.

    Anyways, maybe we got a de facto parliament without the system. Our elections come at selected intervals, and no one can call one like the can in parliamentary democracies.

    Like most things it seems that the blessing comes with the curse, it could be the other way around if that suits you. The U.S. political system is designed to conserve power, and reserve it to those who currently have it. While Rome might be burning, now is the time to fiddle and not fight fires, so our government will fiddle (unless it’s there house that’s on fire).

    It’s cool and rainy here in Houston. Hope y’all are having a good day.

  12. Griffin says:

    So in Gingrich’s hard-right quest to make America more “exceptional” he instead sped up the process to where it looks more like Europe? Hilarious. Though this sounds like it will be more like a Semi-presidential system than anything else present in the world right now, which is odd considering they’re more common in third world countries than developed ones.

    However our political insitutions will need major reforms to be more representative if this is the case. Going to full proportional representation is impossible but how viable are the the following proposals?

    -Abolishing the electoral college in favor of the popular vote for presidential elections
    -Independent commitees for redistricting to prevent Gerrymandering
    -Increasing public funding as for LSO’s while introducing more restrictions on private funding
    -Limiting the amount a single person can donate to a candidate

    • 1mime says:

      Add a repeal of Citizens United or serious modification to your list of proposals. Another point that has been frequently raised, is the problem of voter suppression. Short of mandatory voting requirements (not gonna happen, Tutta), there has to be a cessation of voter suppression tactics if the electoral college is eliminated. Frankly, I think we need to require a hard copy paper trail to validate computer results across the board. (Right now, states can do what they want in this regard.)

      Furthermore, just eliminate PACs – altogether – no exceptions for anyone.

      Good list, good thinking, Griffin. Do you live stateside?

      • Griffin says:

        Good idea about Super PAC’s I forgot about those.

        Yes I’m an American who lives in California, though I’m starting to think I’m the only person who comments on this blog who wasn’t born in or has lived in Texas 🙂

      • 1mime says:

        It would be interesting to know where people who participate in GOPlifer were born (that sets so many things in motion) and where they live now (which would reflect how their location impacts their perceptions, if not their political affiliation). Who you are, and where you were when, is part of every individual’s formative intellect and experience. Chris Ladd began in TX as did his blog, as I understand it, and many of the commentators here have been following him for a long time. Like others, I am a fairly new participant but have really found it an interesting, informative opportunity to learn from others.

        I knew you lived in CA but didn’t know if you were from the states as your point of view appears more cosmopolitan. (That’s a compliment (-: ) Glad you’re on board!

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Mime, when a democratic House repeals Citizens United, won’t it be hilarious to hear the right wing whibe about “Legislative Lawlessness”?

      • 1mime says:

        You know, Rob, I don’t really take pleasure in changes like this because, to me, they are so obviously necessary and so wrong-headed, that one just hopes it will happen somehow, soon. I don’t care how, or who gets credit, this SCOTUS ruling unhinged any remaining sanity and balance the democratic process had left. My god but it’s been harmful. So, no, I will be grateful but not celebratory – I guess I’ve become too serious about the state of politics in America. That’s not good but it is honestly where I am at this point in time. For me, politics is an opportunity for caring, capable people to insure democracy lives. What it has become is something quite different, and that makes me sad. Thank goodness for John Oliver and some of you here who make me smile (-: Lots of nice people here, so “thanks all”.

      • texan5142 says:

        1meme, born and raised in Houston next to Acres Homes, have lived just a few blocks from downtown. Tall skinny white boy who worked in what we called the war zone, Jensen drive inside the loop. One side of the track African-American and the other side Hispanic.

        Now I live in St Peter Minnesota, small town around 10 thousand, work in Mankato around 50 thousand. Both college towns, about one and a half hour from Twin cities. Population of Minnesota is close to the city of Houston. Would never move back to Texas, not the same place , religious fundamentalists have ruined Texas.

      • 1mime says:

        Thanks, TX! I am finding life in TX challenging for same reason. I don’t get out socially a bunch given my caregiver role, which probably saves me from myself (-: One day, I hope to find a new place to live where inclusion is practiced not criticized. Until then, we cope, right?

      • johngalt says:

        Mime: there are a lot of Houston ties to the blog, because it was once hosted by the Houston Chronicle (it still occasionally appears there, but Chris migrated the comments here a couple of years ago). Personally, I was raised in the Atlanta area, came to Houston for college and then ended up back here after stints in Raleigh-Durham and Boston.

      • 1mime says:

        Thanks, JG. I always appreciate your thoughtful comments.

    • 1mime says:

      Griffin, Proportional representation is being explored (and utilized) by several states now. If this would help the GOP penetrate the Blue Wall, why wouldn’t they expand this device rather than stick with the one that awards all delegates outright?

  13. Bobo Amerigo says:

    compared its peers that emerged in Europe.

    compared to?

  14. goplifer says:

    Those labels are accurate, but sub-parties cannot exercise much influence in a Presidential election. That’s why Presidents are almost always political moderates (Bush II as a major exception).

    None of the other parliamentary governments feature such a powerful, independently elected President. As Congress drifts closer to a parliamentary model, I have no idea how this might effect Presidential politics. No precedent to look to really.

    Interesting question.

    • 1mime says:

      “As Congress drifts closer to a parliamentary model, I have no idea how this might effect Presidential politics.”

      When one party controls the majority in both houses, the only real power left to the President is limited to the veto. Appointments, legislative changes, budgetary priorities, even diplomacy are all being challenged in new ways. Regardless whether one “likes” President Obama (I do), or George W. Bush, their tenure has been very difficult. Even if some of their pain has been self-inflicted, it’s a high price to pay for eight brief, gaudy years of fame. Honestly, why would anyone willingly inflict that pain on their family or themselves? It would be interesting to survey past presidents and ask that “post President” question. Would you do it again?

  15. Shiro17 says:

    So if I may take this forward a bit, this probably is spilling over into the Presidential race, and is a main reason why there are so many candidates. So, from left to right,

    Sanders = Labour/Socialist
    Clinton = Liberal (Canada)/Christian Democratic Union (Germany)
    Bush/Kasich/Rubio = Conservative
    Trump/Freedom Caucus = Whatever the US equivalent of UKIP is

    Any others I’m missing?

    • 1mime says:

      Cruz. That’s who’s missing, and that is a “big” miss as he may well end up as the GOP nominee. As for how you would classify a “Cruz”, you don’t want me weighing in on that one. I have nothing positive to say about the man.

      • Griffin says:

        Cruz would be radical right/right-wing populist, so like UKIP. Our radical righties are very different from the ones in the rest of Europe (except for Britain), as the ones in Europe tend to endorse a protectionist, quasi-fascist form of government as is the case with the National Front in France, while the far-right in the US and Britain/Canada tend to just mix hardcore social conservatism with laissez-faire economics and the undermining of existing political institutions.

        I’m not sure why this is the case but I think that if you consider that the hard-right is primarily defined by strong identity politics with the traditional ruling class and a love of existing hierchies/traditions than their experience in the US is that “big government” undermines those values because it promotes minority rights and that the best way to combat that is to devolve power to majority groups and end welfare for “those people”, whereas the far-right in Europe believes that “big government” can effectively reinforce those values with more overt authoritarianism (as was their experience with reactionary monarchists and facists).

      • 1mime says:

        Either way, the poor are screwed, but less so under parliamentary governments which seem to at least offer basic socialized benefits. It’s a tough time in America and I don’t know if there will be any winners –

      • Shiro17 says:

        Griffin-

        I would qualify that the hard right in this country hates “federal” government as it is the “federal” government that is undermining what they view to be their traditional structures (by forcing them to play nice with girls and different folk, by forcing them to join the 21st century, by forcing them to live with people from other countries in their towns, etc.). I don’t think they have any issue whatsoever in the power and authority of state and local governments. But, this isn’t rooted in any real love for a system with more devolved power per se, it’s just because that’s where the cattle prods have been coming from.

      • Griffin says:

        Shiro that’s what I meant by “devolving power to majority groups”. By selectively empowering certain states/local areas over the federal government they know they can have their way in certain sections of the country, even if other areas are out of their reach. Groups in Europe however have more of an “all or nothing” strategy, mainly because there’s less devolving of power and a more nationally representative form of government, lis they have more experience with the far-right using the federal governent “succesfully”, so they go for something close to outright fascism.

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