Revenge of the Reality-Based Community

southerntrump“I beheld the wretch — the miserable monster whom I had created.”
Dr. Frankenstein

Early in the second Bush Administration, even before the 9/11 attacks, reporters began to describe a strange pattern of delusion among aides and advisors. Any expression of doubt or dissent was punished. Loyalty was valued far beyond talent or effectiveness. Inconvenient facts were brushed aside with reference to hollow talking points. It seemed that a commitment to ideological purity had replaced any concern for results.

Wrestling with the bedlam of modern Republican politics, commentators are asking what went wrong. Who led the Republican Party into this fever swamp of fear and delusion? Was it the Tea Party? Should we blame Sarah Palin? Did the media create Donald Trump? This is not a recent phenomenon. Fantasy agendas that are tearing the party apart in this election cycle were already in full-flower fifteen years ago, guiding the Bush Administration from one bizarre catastrophe to the next.

Getting to the core of this problem requires us to examine dark compromises forged over generations and concealed in determined denial. Only by rethinking the terms of the party’s late-20th century resurgence can we build an organization capable of governing. Changing course will require a redefinition of a Republican identity, a process that the party might not survive.

When Karl Rove in 2002 mocked the impotence of the “reality-based community,” he was describing a new, fully mature Republican strategy. As insane as it sounds, there was a powerful logic at work in Rove’s philosophy. Any understanding of the party’s present trouble must square with this quote:

Rove derided those who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality. That’s not the way the world really works anymore. We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

The icing on this rhetorical cupcake was Rove’s refusal to even acknowledge what he’d said, followed by a sustained attack on the journalist who reported it. Reality, if it challenges ideological purity, is treason. Reality, in that way of thinking, is a mere construct that belongs to the winners. Those who concern themselves with accuracy, who allow themselves to be constrained by empirical measures, are history’s losers. They are destined to be forgotten, obscured in the shadow of The Great Men.

Anyone familiar with Republican figures from the 70’s or 80’s would be shocked by this kind of talk, so where did it come from? How did a party of pragmatic, almost frustratingly prudent men and women descend into calculated delusion?

It started with a compromise designed to reconcile the Party of Lincoln with the fiercest defenders of Jim Crow. It started with a decision to reorient the Republican Party on religious grounds.

Republicans in the last third of the 20th century faced an opportunity paired with a problem. Since Truman’s decision in 1948 to desegregate the military, Democrats had gradually been alienating Southern racial conservatives. By the seventies, high-level defections of Democrats in the South had begun, but there was still no Republican grassroots infrastructure in the South to support them.

Southern states have never in their history supported a two-party system. Unless Republicans could find a way to flip the entire Southern political infrastructure, the handful of Republican Congressmen and Senators in the South would continue to function as independents.

A party built on commerce, trade, and professional interests, a party of enthusiastic capitalists could stir no emotional energy in the conservative South. An attempt to recruit white Southerners with open racial bigotry was impossible. Whatever latent racism the GOP held was no more pronounced that what existed on the Democratic side. It was neither welcomed nor cultivated. More importantly, by that time explicit white supremacy had become politically toxic. An emotionally compelling appeal to the fears of racial conservatives would have to be delivered by proxy, veiled behind parallel rhetoric.

Nixon tried to use crime as a rhetorical proxy for racial fear with some minor success. Others experimented with fiscal policy or anti-feminist demagoguery with little effect. For all the talk of a “Southern Strategy,” no effort conceived by Republican insiders to flip the South ever made any headway. Republicans had too little understanding of the culture to make gains. Only an invasion by fleeing Dixiecrats could change the map.

Our breakthrough happened when religious fundamentalists in the South organized their resistance to the Carter Administration’s campaign to desegregate private religious schools. Televangelist Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority was the first successful effort to recruit Southern racial conservatives to the Republican Party. Behind a cloak of religion, they could finally activate white nationalists without talking about race.

The GOP already contained a small but vocal bloc of voters motivated by religious issues. Republicans tolerated them with patient derision, confident that their occasionally loony activism could be dismissed with a bit of harmless pandering. Efforts by TV preachers to move their viewers into the Republican Party changed the balance of power inside the GOP. Now a Republican candidate could say a few nice things about prayer and God and utter the word ‘Jesus’ and suddenly whole new regions of the country were open to recruitment. Republicans all over the country who resisted religious appeals were now on the defensive.

Appeals to religious fundamentalism offered a tailor-made smokescreen, a rhetorical shield behind which the battle over white supremacy could continue to be waged. Religion, after all, is culture. What whites all over the country feared most in the demise of Southern segregation was the end of their cultural supremacy. This was and is far more than a sentimental attachment, far more than mere bigotry. White cultural and political dominance was the key to well-being for many, especially at lower income tiers.

Ending school prayers to Jesus meant an end to something far more politically significant than faith. When “Happy Holidays” replaces “Merry Christmas” there is more at stake than religion. A monolithic public culture built around a dominant white racial identity was disappearing. Along with it a whole collection of quiet preferences that gave whites unique access to jobs, education, housing and political influence were eroding away.

When millions of Southern whites frightened by desegregation pivoted into the Party of Lincoln, something had to give. This marriage between Southern racial conservatives and America’s party of commerce and trade could only be sustained through a collective commitment to delusion.

Older Republicans from the party’s traditional commercial wing pretended that nothing about the party had changed. They convinced themselves that they had simply prevailed in a long ideological struggle that brought millions of new adherents suddenly into the party. One by one, they were eventually overwhelmed by the forces they unleashed and refused to acknowledge.

Meanwhile, racial conservatives pretended that their “culture war” was about communism, or socialism, or strangely enough even a love of capitalism (which they mostly despised). And above it all sat the most bizarrely delusional fantasy of all – the insistence that none of this had ever happened.

To this day, Republicans will uniformly insist that the flight of the Dixiecrats never occurred. Never mind that cavalcade of characters from Strom Thurmond to Phil Gramm to Rick Perry and crazy Judge Roy Moore. The great migration of southern racial conservatives from the Democrats to the Republicans is, to their insistence, a mere myth.

Leveraging religious fundamentalism as a political force created consequences beyond mere rhetoric. Central to this worldview was a denial of Enlightenment ideas about the foundational value of science and data. Coupled with the wider decline of social capital institutions that once filtered the crazy from our political system, this uncoupling of ideology from empirical results unleashed a monster. A smokescreen of religious fundamentalism allowed Republicans to recruit racial conservatives in the South, but expansion came at a cost. With facts discredited, no force could contain the wave of crazy that broke across the party of prudent, intellectual conservatism.

By the second Bush Administration, the Republican Party was an entire political infrastructure premised on fantasies. Those who carefully indulged and protected those fantasies were rewarded. Figures who foolishly pointed out the fantasies were derided, punished, and pressed into political exile.

A political agenda built on delusions created the same quality of outcomes one would expect from drunk driving. However, political consequences are slow to manifest. The connection between policies and outcomes can be obscured by marketing.

Nevertheless, in time tax cuts produced massive deficits. Ever looser gun regulations produced thousands of needless deaths. Pointless wars produced global instability on a massive scale and a terrible tide of death and debt. Bigoted rhetoric drove non-whites and urban voters out of the party. Refusal to acknowledge climate change fed accelerating climate change. Blind financial deregulation produced unprecedented economic collapse. Cuts to the social safety net led to ballooning poverty. Tax cuts for the rich made the rich richer. Meanwhile public institutions shriveled and public faith in government collapsed.

Put another way, we experienced all of the obvious consequences from our new policy priorities. Meanwhile Republicans worked harder and harder to protect the delusions that held the party together. Failure inspired an aggressive backlash against doubters. Disasters led to repeated doubling down on policies that produced them. Locked in a cycle of delusion necessary to preserve the party’s power, Republicans resolved to respond to the last crisis with even more committed dissociation.

Instead of a reckoning or reconsideration, failure spawned ever more vociferous insistence on ideological purity. Fanatical purges of ‘establishment’ figures who dared to suggest restraint came in tighter and tighter cycles.

One of the party’s reviled dissidents, Bruce Bartlett, summarized this mindset more than a decade ago in comments about George W. Bush:

“This is why George W. Bush is so clear-eyed about Al Qaeda and the Islamic fundamentalist enemy…They can’t be persuaded, that they’re extremists, driven by a dark vision. He understands them, because he’s just like them. . . .

“Absolute faith like that overwhelms a need for analysis. The whole thing about faith is to believe things for which there is no empirical evidence. But you can’t run the world on faith.”

Facts are always elusive in politics, but they remain unalterable and non-negotiable. They may be misrepresented, distorted, or suppressed, but they never go away. Lies are fast and facts are slow, but what we borrow in the space between deception and reckoning will always be repaid with terrible interest.

The Republican Party chose to embrace an entire platform of fiction to protect an unstable coalition too brittle to bend and too dear to abandon. Simply put, our modern Republican alignment comes from our effort to recruit white supremacists. Our dissociation from the world of empirical reality rises from the ideology we adopted to obscure that compromise.

Race may not be the most important issue in American life, but it is the keystone of Republican politics. Reagan once said “There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers.” Republicans face a simple answer that is also brutally difficult. Reckon with the ghosts of our 20th century racial compromise and we can perhaps build a more sustainable future. Continue to ignore that tumor and the cancer will spread.

This is the revenge of the reality based community in a nutshell. We will either be what we were created to be – the Party of Lincoln – or we will soon cease to exist. We will pay our debt to reality, or we will be left helpless in the hands of the monster we created.

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 Neo-Confederate, Politics of Crazy, Republican Party, Uncategorized
282 comments on “Revenge of the Reality-Based Community
  1. […] politics was a loan we took out on our future. The interest payments are now bankrupting us. By rejecting of any empirical understanding of reality we destroyed critical firewalls against extremism. Even before Trump, consistent signaling of […]

  2. […] party that derives nearly all of its support from the former slave states, where old tyme religion masks a drive to restore white supremacy, cannot credibly retain its claim to an abolitionist legacy. There is no universe in which The […]

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  4. 1mime says:

    I have an important correction to one of my posts. I stated GA Gov Nathan Deal was accused of involvement in a sex scandal; I was incorrect, AL Gov Robert Bentley is the state leader who has been accused of involvement in a sex scandal. I apologize for my sloppiness and inaccuracy.

  5. Rob Ambrose says:

    So, all the usual caveats apply until this is confirmed, but this might be juicy:

    Ol Lyin’ Ted might just be Ol Cheatin’ Ted too. Its weird though, how its always the loudest proselytisers who themselves have the most skeletons in the closet.

    I’m shocked – SHOCKED – to find hypocrisy in this (GOP) establishment.

    • Griffin says:

      Eh it’s the National Enquirer I think I’m going to wait a bit before believing this one. It wouldn’t be the first time a fundie political leader had affairs but this doesn’t seem like the sort of unforced risk someone like Cruz would take.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        The NE is underrated as an investigative journalism vehicle in my opinion.

        Sure it’s got a lot of junk like any supermarket tabloid.

        They’ve also broken some major stories, especially involving celebrities, like Tiger Woods affair, John Edwards affair, Rush Limbaugh drug addiction, Jesse Jackson’s love child etc.

        Of course it could be bullshit, but the fact that it’s in the Enquirer is not something I’d hold against it.

        The NE, more then most papers, understands libel laws pretty well. I’d be surprised if they went to print with it unless it had good support.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        If it’s true that Katrina Pierson is one of them, this is a crazy juicy story lol

    • Creigh says:

      So what. It doesn’t affect his ability to effectively turn the country into a Christian version of the Caliphate.

  6. 1mime says:

    Just when you think it can’t get any worse – here’s what is quietly going on in House chambers on fetal tissue research… If they can’t defeat PP through the front door, they’ll come in through the real….hiding under the cover of a campaign to do their dirty deeds.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      Why Mime I’m shocked at your cynicism. I’m totally sure this law is just to protect the health of the workers involved. 😉

  7. johngalt says:

    Last night’s ‘The Daily Show’ with Lindsay Graham, who is a very funny guy and good at gallows humor. He defended his endorsement of Ted Cruz by saying that he was his 15th choice (of the 17 original candidates).

    • 1mime says:

      Speaking of television, just heard on Bloomberg that Wheel of Fortune raked in the most political dough this last campaign ad cycle….turns out this long-standing popular program has a huge, faithful older audience (mostly female) and, they, uh, vote. Yep, targeting one’s audience is important in case anyone has forgotten Duck Dynasty. I am trying to (-;

    • 1mime says:

      That was really fun, JG. The LG we never knew!

    • unarmedandunafraid says:

      Lindsay Graham is funny. I think he has a future with Comedy Central if he wants to quit his day job.

      • 1mime says:

        Nah, he’s gonna be real busy helping his nemesis Cruz get elected….But, after that delightful experience, he may be ready to crack a joke or too!

  8. Rob Ambrose says:

    Whaaaaaat? Freedom of religion is a multi way street and not JUST for Christianity? Does Constitional law expert Ted Cruz know this?


    • flypusher says:

      Proselytize on your own dime, not the taxpayers’.

    • 1mime says:

      You have to admit, this was a pretty effective way to deal with the issue of Bibles in the schools. What’s good for the goose and all that stuff…..Smart. Beating them at their own game.

    • God bless the Satanists. Seriously. They are doing great work, in a lot of places around the country.

      • 1mime says:

        Hiya, Sara! Been missing your voice on this forum. Hope your work is going well….from where I sit, you have a job for life.

      • Sara Robinson says:

        Good to be back. We got home last week from a 47-day, 15-state, 7100- mile road trip, which is why I haven’t had much of an online presence anywhere at all. It was really wonderful, and we’re already planning the next one. Hitting the road may be what we do for the next while in our lives.

        Life at NARAL is going well, too. We’re hopeful about Whole Women’s Health; optimistic about Garland’s nomination; and are trying to maintain a respectful decorum about Scalia’s passing, which in my case mostly takes the form of trying not to swill the champagne in public. (Weirdly, our trip took us right past the ranch where he died about five days before the event.)

        Being back here is a good warm-up to getting back to blogging. Y’all feel safe, and at the same time, you stretch me.

      • 1mime says:

        My husband and I did a 30-day “wild west trip” from Texas to California fifteen years ago, looping north, then west up to northern California before heading south down the coast. We headed east via incredible nature preserve areas along a more southerly route – the kinds with no gas stations (-: (The kind of breathtakingly beautiful, pristine natural areas that Cruz has proposed taking from the federal government and divvying up to the states!)….It was an unforgettable experience. I found out why the RV crowd (we were in a car) is so dedicated to their lifestyle. After a lifetime of work, kids, responsibility, it’s pretty nice to just drive and leisurely enjoy a slice of life. Don’t wait too long for your next trip! Makes all this “noise” around us disappear for a while.

      • Sara Robinson says:

        So you know what I’m talking about here. It was a much-needed total reset on life, a chance to just be present with ourselves and the world. I’m still a bit stunned at how much my stress level has gone down, apparently permanently.

        Our swing went Seattle > Boise > Salt Lake > Moab > Sedona > Tucson (for the gem show!) > El Paso > Marfa > San Antonio > Austin > Fort Sill, OK > Amarillo > Santa Fe > Taos > Denver > Laramie > Jackson Hole > Bozeman > Seattle. Also all in a car.

        There were two brief flights to the East Coast amid all of this, one to deliver our son to college and the other for a NARAL board meeting.

        We had an RV when the kids were small, and are well-acquainted with both the advantages and drawbacks. We came home determined to find a small Class B van conversion RV to do the next trip in. Still prefer hotels to parks, but it would be nice to have the carrying capacity for our stuff (packing for a trip that spanned the East Coast’s Snowmageddon on one end and 90-degree days in San Antonio on the other was a real bear) and the added flexibility of a galley and bed. So the shopping for this has commenced.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        They really are doing the Lord’s work.

      • Sara Robinson says:

        Uh, yeah…I wasn’t gonna go there.

    • Ryan Ashfyre says:

      Damn you, Satanists! Now look at what you’ve done! This is about religious FREEDOM! Since when in the hell does anything about religion have things following to their own logical conclusions!?

  9. rightonrush says:

    Question for Chris: Are you going to the GOP Convention in Cleveland?

  10. Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

    For all those against and in favor of the rash of voter ID laws, here is why folks on my side don’t tend to trust the folks on the other side.

    Many pro-voter ID law people will point out that in some states, minority voting rates actually went up after the laws were put in place. Do you know why that happened? In those states, they did massive reach out and education programs that ultimately got more people’s attention and motivated them to vote.

    Want to guess how much of that is being done in places like Texas?

    Well, now we have a more concrete example. Our friends in Wisconsin, in order to combat voter fraud, and not in any way to suppress voter turnout, passed voter ID laws. The upcoming primary is the first voting under the new laws.

    As part of the law, the government is required to do education and outreach. The primary is coming up in two weeks, and they have not even appropriated the money to start those programs.

    Additionally, Scott Walker and his friends in Wisconsin “modernized” voter registration in a way that would thrill me. If you have a government ID and an internet connection, you can now register online. That is great.

    That program also eliminated the special deputies that went out to the communities and set up neighborhood voter registration. Not so great.

    So, we implement voter ID laws, but don’t educate the public about it, then we set up an easy system to register to vote if you already have an ID and can afford (or can get to) an internet connection, but took away the people who go out into poor neighborhoods to register people.

    I’m not philosophically opposed to voter ID laws if done correctly. I have no faith (and there is no evidence) that the GOP controlled states are interested in doing them correctly.

    • 1mime says:

      Another tactic is to close polling locations to make it more difficult for the “undesirables” to vote as they have the greatest transportation difficulty getting to the polls. This happened in AZ for the primary and people stood in line forever or left. There are lots of ugly tricks that the folks on the right are employing to empower their base and make it difficult for those who may vote a different way. This is about as base as a party can get – using the right to vote as a bludgeon for working class people. Think about it: if you are a senior and vote Republican, you get (expensive, very expensive) push cards in the mail which all you have to do is check off and sign, send it to your friendly registrar and a mail-in ballot will be sent to your kiosk. You don’t ever have to stand in line, heck, they even check off all the “correct” candidates for you, so you don’t even have to think…..if they ever did….

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      Agreed Homer. I do believe though that any party that has to rely on increasingly obvious shady measures to try to finangle just a few more voters is doomed to failure.

      At some point, the GOP is going to run out of fingers to plug the holes in the dam.

      That said, I fully agree with not passively waiting for this to happen and actively fighting these laws. For me, its just more proof of the inherent unsustainability of the GOP business model.

  11. Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

    Second part of my application to become Trump’s speech writer:

    Ladies and Gentlemen….thank you all for coming today. It is beautiful. You are great, and we are going to make America great again. Arizona was beautiful. We won big. Huge, in a very important state with very important problems. Immigration, the economy, jobs…these are things important in Arizona, and the people of Arizona overwhelmingly voted for me. Beautiful.

    People are getting worried about us. You see Lying Ted Cruz out there with his Washington insider buddies. Jeb Bush just endorsed Ted Cruz. The ultimate insider, Jeb Bush, endorsed Ted. Most people are happy with getting endorsements, but I’m not sure this one actually helps Ted. I bet he is hoping the low energy doesn’t rub off. That is just beautiful.

    Ted Cruz has worked inside the government his whole career. The man is in his 40s, looks older, but he’s in his 40s, and he has been drawing a government paycheck his whole life. I think he worked a couple of years for a Washington DC law firm doing government. Yeah, that is a real outsider.

    Ted Cruz is a Washington insider. He likes to say he’s an outsider, but he’s only an outsider because no one likes him.

    Lindsey Graham hates Ted Cruz. Says Cruz could be shot on the Senate floor and his follow Senators would not convict whoever shot him. Now, Lindsey is endorsing Ted Cruz. Do you want to know why he’s endorsing Ted Cruz? Because Ted Cruz is a Washington insider politician and that is exactly what Lindsey Graham is, and exactly what Jeb Bush is.

    You know who is Ted Cruz’s economic adviser? Phil Gramm? Do you remember Phil? I contributed to Gramm way back in the 80s and 90s. He was a bought and sold Washington insider then, and he still is. He is in the pockets of big business, and that is who Cruz is aligning with. Think about Enron, think about the recession. This is Ted Cruz.

    You know, Cruz’s people tried to make a little fun of my wife last week because she is a gorgeous woman, and she is absolutely beautiful. You know, Ted’s wife is beautiful too. She’s also Goldman Sachs.

    There ya go. Insider politician Ted Cruz running around trying to pretend he’s something he’s not. Do you think Lindsey Graham, Phill Gramm, Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, and Ted Cruz care about you? They care about keeping power. They don’t care about your jobs. They don’t even care about the border if they think they can make an extra buck or two.

    Ted Cruz was in my neighborhood in New York last week. You know, Ted complains about New York values and all that, but last week, he was there, on his knees meeting with all these Wall Street people begging for money. Look, I like Wall Street. I like making money. These Wall Street guys are sharks, and I know them. They think Cruz is a joke. They’ll meet with him, and they’ll even give him money because they know that they can own him. Heck, they already own him.

    You know, I call Ted Cruz, Lyin’ Ted Cruz. Maybe that is not nice, but you know, sometimes the truth hurts. What he did to Dr. Ben Carson in Iowa was horrible. It was bad. He did that just to win a caucus. He lied about an honorable man just to get a little bit of power.

    They are trying to take the power away from you. You hear people talking about Cruz and Kasich teaming up trying to stop me. You see Cruz, Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, Lindsey Graham and all those Washington insiders trying to stop me.

    They aren’t trying to stop me. They are trying to stop you. They are trying to take the power out of your hands so they can keep it. They want to play their Washington games to mess with the voting, mess with the convention, and deny your votes, so that they can put a Washington insider on the ballot. Horrible.

    We, you and me, are not going to let that happen. This is going to be beautiful. I know how they play their games, and you all are going to win this. America is tired of losing. You all are winners. I’m a winner. We are not going to let these losers in Washington stop us.

    I have exactly zero love for Trump, but he certainly does have the Washington crowd aligning against him in ways that might be a little less than savory. I don’t exactly blame them for doing it. He is a disaster, but if he keeps winning but doesn’t get enough to win the nomination outright, he would have the ability to burn the place down if they took the nomination away from him.

    • goplifer says:

      Uses complete sentences this stay at homer guy, a total give away. low energy people, sad. phony stuff that guy with his speech.

      Think Yoda. Then imagine that Yoda is on meth. And then imagine that Yoda is also really stupid. Then you will be ready to channel Trump.

    • Creigh says:

      Lifer’s right, your narrative is way too linear and contiguous. You’ve got whole paragraphs there! 3 seconds on one topic, that’s the max.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        I’m trying to make improvements in Trump!!!

        Can you imagine actually being Trump’s speech writers? I assume he has some.

        They would craft wonderful speeches only to have them destroyed because Trump got distracted by something shiny while giving the speech.

        There probably is lots of drinking involved for his speech writers.

        With that said, folks were making fun of Trump after some people analyzed the grade levels of the speeches by various candidates. Trump was the lowest at middle-school level and Sanders was the highest at 11th grade or so.

        Given the level of most newspapers and most local newscasts, I’m not so sure I would be mocking Trump here. There is a talent to reaching the level of your audience, and Uncle Bernie can prattle on all day, but if he is not connecting with people, and if people are feeling like he is talking down to them, he is not going to get those votes.

      • 1mime says:

        Homer! Trying to improve upon Trump is, well, about as helpful as cloth diapers for your 3 little ones. It.ain’t.happenin. They’d all smell about the same though…..”ripe”.

      • flypusher says:

        Actually, Trump hiring Homer and taking his advice would be a very smart move for Trump!

        Please don’t get seduced by the dark side Homer!

      • 1mime says:

        Aw, Fly, I like Homer way too much to offer his talents to Drumpf!

  12. Griffin says:

    Found a great article from this month by Paul Krugman on the topic of modern free trade. Worth a read for anyone interested in globalization. He argues that it’s generally “good”, but not as good as people keep making it out to be, which is why we’re having a protectionist backlash.

    And another:

    • 1mime says:

      I read an interesting article (?) about how the unions in the Scandinavian countries are in favor of free trade because they understand that exports make more jobs. This is a complex issue and deserves study. Thanks for link, Griffin.

    • Creigh says:

      No question, free trade is good for some people. As with most things, the benefits are unevenly distributed.

      What I’d be interested in knowing is how it affects other countries. How does NAFTA affect poverty and income distribution in Mexico, for example. Having a stable, prosperous neighbor to our south is clearly in our interest, and there’s some indications that is happening.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      Nice article Griffin, and one that intuitively feels right to me.

      I feel globalization is generally a net positive, but there are some pretty big negatives (from the American perspective) that haven’t really been addressed in any meaningful way. Perhaps NAFTA could have added a tiny tarrif to ALL goods (say 1% or even 0.5%) coming into America from Mexico and Canada, for example, and the money be used for tuition grants or to build vocational colleges in the areas most hit, like the rust belt.

  13. tuttabellamia says:

    What I find interesting is why we focus on the things there is disagreement about and not on the things people agree on. As a result, one would think that there are only 5 topics in the entire world worth talking about at any given time — climate change, income inequality, illegal immigration, race relations, and Donald Trump, for example.

    It’s easy to get caught up in the “reality” created by a narrow set of topics, or always seeing them through the same lens, as Right versus Left. The media creates that reality, and it’s just perpetuated by our conversations and discussions, which become repetitive and habitual.

    I do like the idea of creating a separate “reality,” in which we become more proactive and choose our own topics to discuss and to surround ourselves with, to live and breathe a different air, one of our own choosing. There’s got to be more to life than the usual 5 topics that dominate our existence.

    • 1mime says:

      The reason so few topics dominate the conversation is that we have been in crisis management for seven years. The list is actually larger than you might believe – add defense, national security, health care, infrastructure, tax reform tp name a few more. The problem is that if you can’t get traction on basic issues, how can one possibly address others proactively?

      An example from today’s WaPo: The Republicans have drawn a line in the sand that they will NOT pass any budget that would require Democratic votes for passage. Thus far, their FY2017 budget is dead in the water as the Freedom Caucus (the ultra, ultra group – appx 40 members of Congress, of mostly TP origin – absolutely refuses to support the budget bill as agreed between former Speaker Boehner and the White House. Where will Ryan find the votes to overcome their rigid blockade within GOP ranks? He can’t. Thus, stalemate…all proactive budget discussion – dead. Thus, we may find ourselves racing to the finish line once more, throwing America’s financial operation into chaos which not only impacts domestic programs, it also impacts America’s foreign commitments and roils the world’s economic balance. And, we haven’t even begun to consider raising the debt ceiling…..How can anyone talk about anything else when you have critical stalemates such as this?

      Or, consider the fact that this Republican majority in their total animus towards the IRS, has MANDATED that the IRS use private tax collectors to collect debt rather than allow them the staffing necessary to work the process within the department. The GOP has made it their business to thwart normal government function whenever possible.

      This is why it’s so hard to talk about all the “things” we’d like to discuss. The rigidity, politically malignant operandi of the Republican Party has totally consumed rational discourse. People like us are important for one purpose only – our votes, and, as many GOP voters are finding out, not “all” voters have equal status.

      So, this is how the Republicans govern. Get used to it or change it.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I think the main reason the few topics I mentioned dominate the conversation is that they are easy to understand and to discuss, and in some cases sensationalist. It’s important that the general population learn to understand and discuss “boring” topics such as the additional ones you mention, things like tax reform and infrastructure.

      • 1mime says:

        Tutta, the reality is that even such “boring” (but critically important) topics such as tax reform and infrastructure have been so thoroughly politicized that even these necessary basic functions have become toxic. The Republican Party has made a mockery of governance and frankly, it is pretty amazing that our country is even functioning. If you think for one minute that this isn’t purposeful, well, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell ya. The GOP will not allow any semblance of function in order to render Pres. Obama ineffective in the eyes of the voters, and to control the agenda. This is not happens chance; it is deliberate obstruction. It’s hard for ordinary people who care about our country to understand the devious inner workings of minds of people who would sabotage our country for personal gain. But, that is reality and it is also fact. Until the Republican Party becomes rational, the only way to counter it is at the polls, and Democrats have not responsibly turned out in previous elections and that has allowed Republicans to gain majorities in both houses of Congress and it may well give them the Presidency and the SCOTUS in 2017. This is serious.

    • unarmedandunafraid says:

      Tut – Here you go. an article that has nothing to do with politics, Trump, Cruz or the presidential race.

      Just cute, cuddly animals.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Thank you. What an interesting study! Baboons who are unarmed and unafraid. I’m especially fascinated by how destruction can lead to a fresh start. My favorite line: “Diplomacy is contagious.”

      • 1mime says:

        Great story – Turns out the stabilizing group within the baboon community are the gals….might be some lessons there for elective office (-: I’ve always felt women are more disposed to reaching agreement than men. Now we have proof….if we could only get the males to leave….I’ll start a list of my favs….Already have 42 on it – the Freedom Caucus members plus Turtles and Cruz. How’s that for a promising start? We can just drop off the males at the garbage dump …

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Mime, dump the guys at the dump? What happened to our talent for stabilizing and reaching agreement??

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        So it looks like we can have a kinder, gentler society. We just have to feed the bullies at the top meat infected with bovine tuberculosis.

        That is my take away.

      • Sara Robinson says:

        What’s interesting about this article is what it didn’t say — which is that the way the females rewarded peaceable males is by having sex with them. Nice guys got laid, a lot. Bullies got kicked to the curb. It didn’t take long before all the guys got with the program, since this particular baboon culture is rather Bonobo-like in using sex for all kinds of social communication — starting with “hello.”

        Tubercular meat helped, too; but rampant baboon promiscuity was the main lever of behavior change here.

      • 1mime says:

        That was an important point, Sara….They tell me it mostly works in real life, too. Funny thing, there hasn’t been a “peep” about the most recent “I didn’t have sex with that person” person….GA Republican Governor Nathan Deal. Watched the expose last night on Maddow but not a word elsewhere. I guess his wife of 50 years decided that getting even was better than getting mad. Problem for Deal is that he made such a big deal about his family values throughout his public life, then tried to shove this little issue under the rug which clearly didn’t work…Unfortunately for him, those pesky audio tapes appeared…..kinda’ looks bad….What is it about politicians and their sex lives? The ones we know about, that is (-:

      • Sara Robinson says:

        There are a lot of people who are drawn to politics because they’re addicted to seduction and conquest. It’s a common political personality type, on all sides of the aisle, which is why so many of them run into trouble with this.

        The difference on the right is that they can’t lay off selling the “family values” angle, which layers that thick, stinking crust of hypocrisy over the top of their more personal sins. Yeah, there are plenty of Dem men who have poor boundaries when it comes to women (not just Clinton and the Kennedys and LBJ, either: Joe Biden is known to be very handsy, for example); but at least these guys didn’t try to get elected by ostentatiously promoting their own fake sexual virtue like Republicans do.

        And that’s what fucks them up. I don’t care who you sleep with, or even what non-standard arrangements you may have with your spouse. I do care if you’re trying to pass laws that are aimed at forcing your sexual morality code (which you don’t even actually follow yourself!) on gay people, or women, or the poor. At that point, I figure you’re asking to be outed, and hope you choke on what’s coming to you.

      • 1mime says:

        Personally, I think the state of GA should can Nathan and appoint his wife guv. She’s the one with cajones.

      • 1mime says:

        I’ve been following the Republican lock-step activity on transgender laws. I’m guessing ALEC drafted a common set of legislation and they’re passing it around like they do their abortion laws. For all its problems, the Democrats at least make a stab at thinking independently – even if the results are not always stellar. You have to give them that. Of course, these scurrilous antics this not only rile up their base but it diverts valuable time and attention from worthy adversaries important work on their own agenda. This is no accident.

  14. tuttabellamia says:

    I was wondering about the origin of the phrase “Revenge of the Reality-Based Community.” From searching Google, I see there was an article by Bruce Bartlett with that title from 2012.

    Coincidentally, I’ve been listening to THE AGE OF AMERICAN UNREASON by Susan Jacoby on audio this past week, and this very morning I heard that very phrase from her book, which was published in 2008.

  15. flypusher says:

    Is Ryan having a change of heart?

    It’s a very nice speech. He’s SAYING all the right things. But I want to see him and other GOPers start DOING those things. Then perhaps I could even vote for some GOPers in the future.

  16. Griffin says:

    Jonathan Chait has some words about Paul Ryan and how he’s moving away from Ayn Rand and back to Jack Kemp. Chait is critical though because of Ryan’s lack of empirical evidence to back his talking points.

    • Ryan Ashfyre says:

      I’m just glad that Ryan has it within himself to come out in this political environment and admit that he was genuinely wrong about something.

      • 1mime says:

        When Ryan admits how wrong his budget for 2017 is for all the “poor” people he states he cares so much for, then, I’ll be impressed. He’s gotta walk the walk, Ryan. Remember, he’s the “face” of the GOPe right now. They need someone to look pious and earnest so that their base will stop gagging.

  17. Rob Ambrose says:

    Well this is …..interesting.

    Does this represent the beginning of a long term policy change? Ryan IS the SotH, after all. Hes one of the top leaders of the party.

    Or does it represent him about to run for President?

    • Ryan Ashfyre says:

      Rhetorically, it’s a comforting step in the right direction to hear him talking like that, but I’m hesitant to believe Ryan would be foolish enough to bow to pressure and run for president. He has to know he wouldn’t have a ghost of a chance, what with how Trump’s supporters would react to it. Sounds to me just like a whole lot of wishful thinking on the establishment’s part.

      Give it a few years and he could be a pretty prominent voice in a new Republican Party. Try for it now and he could go the way of Marco Rubio; throwing away an aspiring political career by shooting too high too fast.

      • 1mime says:

        Another point: In his speech he criticized Trump for his “identity politics” for singling out Muslims, but said Nothing about Cruz’ comments that were equally vile. When you have such glaring partisan criticism that conveniently ignores the establishment candidate’s attacks, how can you believe he is being legitimate about anything he says. Read it closely and you’ll see that I am correct here.

    • 1mime says:

      Or possibly part of the GOP spin to appear “kinder, gentler, and more understanding” of those conservative working class voters who are supporting Trump?

      Rob, you have stated before that the millennials with whom you associate will vote Dem, regardless if HRC is the nominee and they “were” Sanders supporters. I keep hearing commentary to the contrary in reader comments to blog posts, interviews of Dem pundits, etc. Is your circle different, IYO, than the “average” millennial sphere? Bernie obviously is campaigning to win – good for him – but is he poisoning the well with his followers?

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        If I might be a bit presumptuous, it’s one thing to say that on a blog of a forum post. It’s another to be close to Election Day and feel like Donald Trump is one step away from the White House. Anger and fear are great motivators. Just ask a Republican.

      • Pseudoperson Randomian says:

        “but is he poisoning the well with his followers?”

        No he isn’t, but is there a (possibly irrational) hate towards Hillary Clinton in Sanders’ circles? Yes, there is. One of the the things I frequently hear in Sanders circles is how he isn’t going after Clinton hard enough. There are oh-so-many things that Sanders won’t touch, some even drawn from right wing websites, that many Sanders supporters will cite without hesitation for why they dislike Clinton.

        The line between real criticisms and unsubstantiated accusations barely exists, and is rather a continuum.

        For example, the most recent flare up is the Arizona primary. Many people on the Sanders’ side are convinced that there was fraud – and that it somehow has to do with the Clinton camp. And, no, it’s not just about the long lines and decreased number of polling stations that’s been widely reported. Nope people are convinced that a large game changing number of people, some of whom have been democrats for years and some who’ve switched affiliation only a few months ago were suddenly, on the day of the election, that they were unaffiliated and either couldn’t vote or were given a provisional ballot. Now, all the evidence there is for this are quite a few anecdotes. How widespread was this? I have no idea – it could just be a few people, or it could be quite widespread, judging by some of the overall numbers (claim is that the same day voter turnout fell by large numbers) that are being thrown around in Sanders as justification for shady going-ons. Now, apparently some voters in other closed states that haven’t voted are reporting the same thing and people are throwing wild accusations around.

        The point is – the line between what’s real and verifiable, and what is a baseless accusation is pretty blurry in Sanders’ circles. I am a skeptic myself, but, honestly, it’s not just about what’s real but how things are perceived. There’s been enough dirty play – some of which is real, and some which is probably false (but is taken as true because of the real dirty plays) – that nearly anything riles up the base, and it doesn’t have to come from Sanders. It’s a self sustaining thing in social media. Things aren’t that easily forgotten.

        This is dangerous, from any perspective. These are people who will stay home/write in Sanders/vote green come election day and are losing all trust in the system. These are people, many of whom were independents and many first time voters, who became Dems because of Sanders and will now leave with hate and distrust towards the DNC and Clinton. Hell, I’ve even heard a few people say they’ll vote clinton in November to keep Trump out, but are giving up on the DNC after that. The idea of loyalty to a party is something I’ve never seen a Sanders supporter talk about, except in response to a Clinton supporter talking about it. Sanders could plead with his supporters to vote Clinton and many still wouldn’t.

        Perceptions are important, and so much of perception management seems rooted in the 20th century and isn’t translating well into the 21st century. The DNC and Clinton might still be able to scare enough people about Trump into voting for her to assure victory – but that doesn’t change the fact they’re still hated.

      • Creigh says:

        The email from the Sanders campaign noted that in Phoenix there were hundreds of people waiting to vote at 11:30pm, because the number of polling places had been greatly reduced (I think it was 4 for Phoenix). This was blamed on the overturning of the Voting Rights Act and was characterized as voter supression, the word fraud was not used. Maybe it was neither. Maybe it was simple incompetence. In any case, it seems like a pretty legitimate thing to complain about.

      • 1mime says:

        No, it was voter suppression. A much smaller county in the state (second most populous but half the size of Maricopa) had more polling sites. In this county, it was deliberate. Sheriff Arpaio is a known quantity with his harsh bigotry towards Hispanics.

      • I have a lot of sandernistas in my social circles, and I can tell you that the vast majority of those speaking the loudest about “never voting for Hillary” voted for Jill Stein (or just didn’t vote) in 2012.

        Thus, I tend to ignore them. We elected Barack Obama without them, and we’ll elect Hillary Clinton without them as well.

      • 1mime says:

        The tragedy of the changes in voting requirements is that the people who are actually responsible for making these changes are not being held accountable by Sanders supporters. That’s mostly because they may not understand the process and history of voter registration manipulation by the GOP. Last minute rules changes are not accidental. They skirt deadlines and meet minimal reporting requirements and the result is people show up to vote and they don’t understand why they can’t. As for the “provisional” ballots they are “allowed” to enter? Forget that. Most of these are thrown out.

        The GOP is losing its White male base to time and it is playing dirty to finesse the process one election at a time. It goes without saying, that we should encourage people to vote, not make it harder. But, that means the outcome is not controlled, and we can’t have that, can we?

      • Titanium Dragon says:

        The problem is you’re looking at loud idiots on the Internet. Polls have found about 80% of Democratic primary voters would be content with Hillary as the Democratic nominee, which is unusually HIGH (normally you see more like 70% – for reference, for the Republicans this year, its about 50% for Trump/Cruz/Rubio (haven’t seen Kasich numbers)).

  18. “Any expression of doubt or dissent was punished. Loyalty was valued far beyond talent or effectiveness. Inconvenient facts were brushed aside with reference to hollow talking points.”

    Gee, guess we’ve never seen anything like that in the Obama administration. Or the Clinton State Department. 😉

    • Ryan Ashfyre says:

      I know, right? This is politics, after all. It takes a real cynical sunuva whatchamacallit to think that it would be anything less than completely civil and proper. 🙂

    • 1mime says:

      Name one sitting Democratic member of Congress – either side – who has been primaried for speaking against President Obama or Dem policies they objected to. Just one. Then, think about what happens to Republicans in office who “dare” not go along with the party line.

      And, that’s just one example, Tracy.

      • lomamonster says:

        And that even includes Wieners!

      • Actually, 1mime, it’ll be real interesting to see how the DNC treats (former?) golden boy Terry McAuliffe in Virginia. Let’s see… from rescinding *all* Virginia interstate CHL reciprocity to constitutional carry in three short months. First the dictatorial cancellation of reciprocity, then the abject “show your belly” rollover on reciprocity, immediately followed by an utterly humiliating veto override on constitutional carry. Will the DNC ride to the rescue in McAuliffe’s 2017 reelection campaign, or will Bloomberg and Wasserman Schultz cast him into the outer darkness? I can’t wait to see! 😉

      • WX Wall says:

        In all fairness to Tracy, there’s at least one: Joe lieberman (although it wasn’t during Obama’s time). He went from being the Dem’s VP candidate in 2012 to being primaried in his re-election campaign and forced to run as an independent.

        Also, Arlen Specter, after he became a Democrat, was primaried by Joe Sestak (who is running again now), allowing Pat Toomey to win a seat that most likely would have stayed with Specter.

        In truth, I supported the primary campaign against Lieberman, because I do think he was a lousy Senator, so maybe I’m one of the Dem crazies 🙂

      • 1mime says:

        Thanks, good feedback. It’s still obvious that we are comparing apples and oranges in sheer number and control. But, I’ll watch the McAuliffe race. Don’t remember much about Lieberman. Still I’m unconvinced that this is anything but aberrant in the Dem Party whereas in the GOP, it’s every vote.

  19. According to the most likely outcome of this non-sense is HRC as POTUS by a factor of 3.5 times as likely as the second most likely outcome. Reaffirmation of the current neo-liberal economic and military strategy with corporate power front and center. A lot of noise but I don’t predict much change coming our way. Now lets see… who might want that?

    • 1mime says:

      The beauty of the Sanders campaign is that it has forced HRC to the left, from which she will not be able to disavow. If nominated and elected, Clinton will be a different president than she would have been absent a strong Sanders counterforce. If he beats her, there will be a whole new dynamic at work. I’m voting Democrat regardless who the nominee is, despite current polls (for whatever they’re worth this far out) that show one or the other as more likely to win against whichever GOP candidate emerges…which, you have to admit, is fluid.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        Clinton’s delegate lead is too strong; there’s no way Sanders could hope to overtake her now. He would have to win virtually every single state from here on out and by HUGE margins at that. That’s just not going to happen.

        That aside, call me a skeptic when it comes to this idea that Sanders has pulled Clinton all that much further to the left. Let’s remember that right from the beginning, the two had virtually the same end goals in mind; it’s just that Sanders had a much more government centered approach and, essentially, a do-it-all-at-once mindset. Clinton is more pragmatic and incremental in her vision.

        If anyone disagrees, I’d be very interested to hear in how the two are all that different. Breaking up the big banks, one might argue? The underlying goal behind that is to keep the financial sector in check and from destroying the economy. And while blaming the banks (certainly no innocent in all this, no doubt about that) makes for a convenient scapegoat in some respects, the reality, IMO, is much more complex and requires a more thorough approach.

      • 1mime says:

        I am a H supporter and I am telling you she is a weak candidate at this juncture. In one speech of hers to a group of Dems who were not particularly in her corner, she acknowledged that and said “Welcome”. IOW, hold your nose and vote for me. I’m the best of the lot.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        Better to hold your nose and vote for competence rather than to indulge in fear and agitation and vote for cognitive dissonance.

      • Hillary and Bernie aren’t all that different in goals. They voted the same way 93% of the time that they were in the Senate together.

        Where they differ is tactics. Hillary will tackle a subject abd be satisfied with getting 10% of what she wanted, which is smart. Do that 10 times, and you’re at 100%. Bernie tends to go for broke, and considers getting “only” 75% of what he wants to be a defeat, so he’s willing to walk away instead of compromise.

        Establishment Republicans, thus, have more to fear from a Hillary administration than a Bernie one (which won’t happen now). Guess that’s why Karl Rove and his friends spent so muc money propping Bernie up early on.

      • 1mime says:

        There is merit to both approaches. On issues of principle, I agree with going for broke. Who knows, if you stand your ground, the other bloke may blink. Otherwise and generally, I have found that in governance, concensus is not capituation, it is sharing and moving all parties towards a more common goal. What we have now is a wall of obdurate obstruction for the sake of obstruction on points which are too important to play games with.

      • Creigh says:

        I would guess that most senators voted with their party 93% of the time. You can’t read a whole lot into that. I can’t believe anyone would think the only difference between Clinton and Sanders is tactics. Sanders is serious about his idea of revolution. Clinton has too much invested in the status quo for anything like that.

        I won’t be surprised if it turns out that Sanders has accomplished more in 6 months of campaigning than Clinton has in two terms.

      • 1mime says:

        Sanders has run an awesome campaign. Speaking of cryogenics, that man’s DNA needs to be preserved!

  20. flypusher says:

    Speaking of political liars, Mr. Pitts makes a great point about the lazy ones who are just mailing it in:

    I agree, it’s so totally disrespectful when the liars don’t even try to craft a quality lie. And yes, I feel the same way about Bill Clinton’s “I did not have sex with that woman” lie.

    • 1mime says:

      You know, maybe Cruz had a point when he called Turtles a Liar. It wasn’t very smart of him to use the Senate floor to pontificate, but, it may have been the most truthful statement he has made since becoming a Senator.

  21. El says:

    Charlie Pierce penned the funniest line of the campaign so far:

    The Republican Party has turned into the Donner Party.

  22. 1mime says:

    Our feckless warrior, Ted Cruz, called a press conference yesterday to excoriate Pres. Obama for his dereliction of duty. Last time I checked, O was POTUS, not POB. Good managers and good leaders have competent people within their organizations who manage problems in their absence. O understands that ISIL wins when the world reacts hysterically to the horror they sow. There are other “would-be” presidents who haven’t figured this out and deserve the criticism for grandstanding. Cruz with the red phone?

    In a scathing, direct rebuttal of Cruz’ diatribe directed at President Obama and others for their “failure” to properly deal with the tragedy in Brussels, NYPD Chief Bratton issued this response:

    “The statements he made today is why he’s not going to become president of this country,” Bratton said. “We don’t need a president that doesn’t respect the values that form the foundation of this country,” he said. “As the mayor mentioned, I have over 900 very dedicated officers in this department, many of whom do double duty, and they serve as active duty members of the U.S. Military in combat, something the senator has never seen,” he said, referring to Cruz’s lack of experience in the U.S. Armed Forces.

    “So before he starts denigrating any population, he should take a close look at who he’s denigrating,” Bratton said, adding that “I take great offense” at his characterization of Muslims.

    “The senator basically is really out of line with his comments,” Bratton said.

    Posturing cum laude.

  23. tuttabellamia says:

    A better title for this blog entry might have been REALITY’S REVENGE.

    I think reality can also be subject to different interpretations depending on what we focus on, to the exclusion of others, and the words we use can also be used to define reality according to our own needs and desires.

    Maybe we should also look at the concept of TRUTH. This could really turn into a philosophical discussion.

    • 1mime says:

      “Reality can be subject to different interpretations”….Certainly, but would you agree that fact is not? Take global warming as an example of “reality vs fact”. It’s obvious that people view this phenomena through different “realities”, but that doesn’t deny the “facts” of what is happening. It simply represents intellectual denial of discrete information as the world’s oceans rise, temperatures rise, and air quality changes. There are “facts” but people ignore them all the time. Problem here is that we inhabit the same planet and one man’s denial becomes his neighbor’s problem if constructive solutions could be agreed upon that would avert what’s happening to us. Reality is how each of us “sees” life; fact is what “is”. Disagree we do but the only thing that changes is the reality we elect.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        What I take issue with is the focus and importance that is placed on certain ideas to the exclusion of others, not about whether something is true or false in and of itself, but how certain ideas and catchphrases become trendy within the media. We went from the ozone layer, to acid rain, and now to global warming.

        Also: Scores of people die in Africa daily, but the media focuses almost exclusively on a handful of people who die in Europe. Both sets of death are equal parts reality, but you wouldn’t think so from how the media presents it, and it’s easy to ignore the reality of people dying in Africa.

        Also, the term “income inequality” is currently all the rage. I mean no disrespect, but I feel that term is misleading. The problem is POVERTY, which is very real, not whether some people have more wealth than others.

      • 1mime says:

        Agree, Tutta. Poverty isn’t real unless you are there. Sort of like having cancer. There are cures and treatments, but they don’t work for everyone. Those who make it out are blessed; those who don’t live a pretty horrible existence until they succumb. Poverty is tragic for those who live within it and invisible to those who deny it exists.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I would love it if one of our resident scientists would explain the whole ozone layer, acid rain, global warming thing. Are all three related? Have the problems of the ozone layer and acid rain been solved? Is that why we don’t hear those terms anymore? Or were they never as big a problem to begin with?

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Mime, I also think that some aspects and definitions of reality are relative. For example, the term “poverty” means different things in different countries, and the poverty level in the US, for example, is defined by government agencies and could even change over time. Maybe we should call these forms of reality “expert opinions.”

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Granted, I don’t think anyone denies that people are dying in Africa, but when people don’t talk or think about it, when it’s ignored or forgotten, it’s like taking away some of its reality. Relevance = reality.

        We could even focus inordinately on something that doesn’t even exist, on the idea of it, and simply focusing on it somehow makes it real.

      • johngalt says:

        Tutt, I am not a climate scientist, but those three things you mentioned are not related, other than in the general sense that they were all caused by humans treating their environment as a giant garbage dump thinking that its capacity to absorb our waste was infinite.

        Acid rain was caused by emissions of sulfur dioxides (and nitrogen oxides to a lesser extent), largely from coal-burning power plants. In the atmosphere, these combined with water vapor to generate sulfuric acid and the accumulation of this was acidifying lakes and rivers, mostly in the northeast (where the population is densest), to the point that fish were dying. We were told that the solution was costly and going to kill our economy. It wasn’t. We mandated scrubbers on power plant smokestacks and lower sulfur coal and this has mostly been resolved.

        Ozone in the upper atmosphere filters out some of the UV light from the sun and so is beneficial to us (it’s not so good at ground level). It reacts with and is destroyed by some compounds (chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs) used in refrigeration systems. We were told that the solution was costly and we’d have to give up our air conditioners. It wasn’t. We banned CFCs and let the chemists come up with alternatives, which they have.

        We are told that solutions to global warming are costly and will kill our economy and way of life. Which is true, if you ignore the centuries-long record of innovation and problem-solving of humans.

      • 1mime says:

        Great explanation for a non-climate scientist! To your last point, “global warming solutions….and innovation/problem solving capability to resolve them”….The problem with the creative genius of man is time. At this juncture, it is my understanding that the scales have already “tipped” and that reversal may only be possible using yet undeveloped techniques…The science of reversal may be far easier than the politics of reversal. We have some really dumb people out there who actively choose not to believe what is going on around them. This human component is the really hard part.

    • lomamonster says:

      tuttabellamia – The issues that you have raised and explored somewhat above could be adequately addressed if you just get an Amazon Echo and ask Alexa those same questions. Therein lies the truth!

  24. Titanium Dragon says:

    “Ever looser gun regulations produced thousands of needless deaths.”

    This is simply wrong. There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that gun regulations have any impact on death rates.

    The reality is that gun deaths are extremely rare, and homicides by gun are rarer still. If you actually chart gun ownership vs homicide rate by state, you find zero correlation. The group in the US with the highest homicide rate – blacks – has the lowest gun ownership rate.

    Just because people say something doesn’t make it true. Gun politics are mostly bullshit.

    There’s no evidence that guns make people more or less safe. States like Oregon, Vermont, and New Hampshire are crawling with guns and have very low homicide rates.

    “Pointless wars produced global instability on a massive scale and a terrible tide of death and debt.”

    There’s very little evidence to suggest that the US’s wars in the Middle East are responsible for “global instability”. They are responsible for local instability, but the sad fact of the matter is that the Arab Spring – which lead to the present mess in Syria – is unconnected to US foreign policy. Frankly, the Afghan war was happening anyway – Afghanistan’s civil war started in the 1970s and is STILL ongoing. It never ended. The US, in intervening in Afghanistan, merely flipped who was winning – and frankly, that probably did more to stabilize Afghanistan than destabilize it, seeing as the Taliban were a bunch of whackadoodles.

    The Iraq war was a mess, but frankly, it is hard to blame the present instability there on the US – that’s really local factors at work there. Frankly, for all we know, Iraq might have been even worse off without the Iraq War, with the Kurds having been suppressed by Saddam and then the government collapsing anyway Syria-style during the Arab Spring. We don’t really have any way of knowing a factual counterhistory there, because we don’t know what would have happened if we hadn’t invaded Iraq. It was, and remains, a stupid war, but much as I like to say it was a stupid war, I think that people are being very unrealistic about it.

    The reality is that people in the Middle East do have individual agency; they aren’t just puppets. In fact, that’s the entire problem with the Middle East; if they were puppets, they wouldn’t be murdering each other so much.

    “Cuts to the social safety net led to ballooning poverty.”

    Poverty is actually down, not up. True povery has actually continued to decline even under the stupid, mostly because a lot of the most essential programs continued to do their job. The American poverty rate measured as being sub-60% of the median income is deeply misleading, both because they use the pre-program income and because as median wages rise, it causes poverty rates to “rise” even though people aren’t becoming any poorer – the American poor are actually better off than most poor people in Europe. Indeed, the sort of poverty you see in the gypsy camps in Europe is mostly alien to the US, existing only in the border shanty-towns full of illegal immigrants.

    Using inequality as a measure of poverty is incorrect, but many people do so in order to lie to people to promote their non-reality based agendas.

    I do agree with the general thrust of this piece, but I have to ask the obvious question of “How many of these people are even left?”

    The reason why the Republicans even did this was because the Democratic coalition was overwhelming them; FDR had made them into a permanent minority party.

    Who exactly do the Republicans peel away from the Democrats?

    • flypusher says:

      “The Iraq war was a mess, but frankly, it is hard to blame the present instability there on the US – that’s really local factors at work there. Frankly, for all we know, Iraq might have been even worse off without the Iraq War, with the Kurds having been suppressed by Saddam and then the government collapsing anyway Syria-style during the Arab Spring. We don’t really have any way of knowing a factual counterhistory there, because we don’t know what would have happened if we hadn’t invaded Iraq. It was, and remains, a stupid war, but much as I like to say it was a stupid war, I think that people are being very unrealistic about it.”

      You are really, really reaching on this one. We are living in this historical timeline, not any of the alternatives you allude to. We broke it, and we did indeed buy it. There are any number of stupid decisions by BushCo that one can directly link to current troubles. As I must leave for work now, I’ll offer this one: lots of the people running ISIS’ military operations are former Iraqi military personnel who were denied any legit employment by the de-Baathification policies so stupidly adopted by the Bush administration. Creating a group of armed, unemployable people, who could have foreseen the problems that would cause???????!?!?!?!?!?!

      • flypusher says:

        Iraq FUBAR #2, listening to the likes of Rummy and Darth Cheney rather than General Powell, i.e., invading on the cheap with too few troops, assuming that we would be “greeted as liberators”, and Iraqi oil would pay for it, etc. Even we armchair generals know that holding territory is far harder than taking it. Failure to properly secure Baghdad and other parts of Iraq planted a good number of insurgency/ISIS seeds. Powell had the right philosophy-if you’re going to go in, have a clear goal, and use overwhelming force. That had a chance of working. It wouldn’t have made the premises for invading any less faulty, but we might have avoided the current mess.

      • flypusher says:

        Iraq FUBAR #3, Nouri al-Maliki, who was supposed to govern a united Iraq, but was so unfairly sectarian that he gave lots of Sunnis motive to turn to radical groups. The Bush administration helped get him elected and did nothing to reign in his misdeeds. To be fair the Obama administration didn’t put much pressure on him to govern better once he was their problem.

      • Titanium Dragon says:

        I totally agree that Bush and company made a number of idiotic decisions in Iraq.

        That’s not necessarily relevant, though. Blaming Bush for what is going on in Iraq right now is problematic; it is true that he failed to create a stable government in Iraq, but is that ultimately his fault, or the fault of the people of Iraq, who, you know, are actually involved in it directly?

        Blaming Bush for what is happening in Iraq is, I think, misguided. I think blaming Bush for doing something idiotic is fair. I think blaming Bush for the Iraqis murdering each other is not, because they’re not murdering each other because of Bush, but because of their own internal goals and drives.

        To act otherwise is to treat them as subhuman, beings without independent goals and agency. Indeed, you’re making the same sort of mistake that Bush did. The people there aren’t like you. They don’t think like you and don’t hold the same values as you do.

        Not everyone is the same.

        The political divisions in Iraq existed prior to the US invasion. We have no way of knowing how things would have gone down in Iraq during the Arab Spring in the absence of the American invasion; it is entirely plausible that Iraq would be in the same state as Syria is.

        Moreover, while some Ba’athists are indeed allied with ISIS, they don’t constitute the bulk of its power. They’re subordinate to the Islamists, which is obvious just looking at what happens there.

        The fact of the matter is that Iraq was already a mess even prior to the US invasion. It is even more of a mess now as the factions which Saddam had been suppressing are now in open warfare with each other.

        The Iraqi government told the US to take a hike, and then promptly failed on its own. Is it really fair to blame the US for withdrawing from Iraq when the Iraqis didn’t want us there anymore?

        We are, after all, allied with the Iraqi government. Undermining their authority by staying wouldn’t be very friendly of us.

      • flypusher says:

        “Blaming Bush for what is happening in Iraq is, I think, misguided. I think blaming Bush for doing something idiotic is fair. I think blaming Bush for the Iraqis murdering each other is not, because they’re not murdering each other because of Bush, but because of their own internal goals and drives.”

        At what rate were Iraqis killing each other before the USA interfered? I am in no way signing any praises of the former regime, but what is happening now is worse. As bad as that scumbag Hussein was, women in Iraq, as a whole, actually had things much better than in places like Saudi Arabia, Iran, etc., and certainly far better than any now in ISIS territory. Bush the Elder declined to do more than liberate Kuwaut for a very good reason, he knew something like this could happen, that Saddam Hussein could be replaced by something even worse. As for all the sectarian violence, we had a clear example of what was likely to happen, from the breakup of Yugoslavia. That was a similar situation of ethnic/religious groups that didn’t get along, forced together inside borders drawn for the convenience of others, held together unwillingly by the iron fist of a dictator who heavily favored one faction. Remove the dictator and botch the aftermath, and the whole thing unravels, horrifically. If we where going to do that to Iraq and not have chaos, we should have prepared to stay there for at least a generation to keep order and train the children not to hate. But BushCo thought it would be easy, tried to do it on the cheap, and yes, things are worse and much of it is their fault.

        Those out of work Sunni officers also contributed to the rise of the Sunni inserguncy and al Qaeda in Iraq. I really have a hard time imaging how Iraq would have ended up worse without American intervention, and I have a pretty good imagination. This kind of mess is what you get from half-assed meddling. Either go all in or stay out. Either one of those options would have been better than what we see now.

    • goplifer says:

      The only evidence that exists, actual scientific evidence drawn from research, indicates conclusively that our culture of pervasive, unaccountable, ubiquitous gun ownership accounts for the fact that we have about 30 times the level of gun deaths as other similar countries.

      Just so happens that the research coincides with the blindlingly obvious intuitive conclusion: “Hey, maybe if every idiot in the country didn’t own six assault rifles, fewer people would die in accidents and murders.” Hmmm, maybe we should do some research on that hypothesis? Yup, turns out that’s true.

      But it conflicts with my ideological leanings, so I’ll disregard it.

      • Titanium Dragon says:

        There’s no relationship whatsoever between gun ownership and homicide rates in the US on state-by-state basis. This is immediately obvious if you graph the data:

        Note the extremely low R-squared value. There’s no relationship between these variables.

        If you don’t believe my graph, feel free to construct one of your own from homicide rates by state and gun ownership rates by state. It isn’t hard to do; it should only take a few minutes.

        This is hardly surprising in reality. States like Oregon, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Wyoming all have lots of guns and not very much homicide; on the other hand, Hawaii has very few guns and not very much homicide.

        Of course, you should be immediately suspicious of hearing that guns = gun violence when you know that blacks own fewer guns than whites, but have a vastly, vastly higher homicide rate (50% of homicides in the US are committed by blacks, despite the fact that they make up only 13% of the population and less than half as many black households possess guns as white households).

        The 50% figure comes from FBI homicide statistics and the CDC, incidentally. Search for Table 43 on Google, and you’ll find the FBI tables from various years.

        Note: I didn’t include Washington DC in my graph, as it isn’t a state, but it actually gives the (false) appearance that more guns = lower homicide rate. Be aware that if you throw in Washington DC, you’ll get a much more sharply slanted line.

        The purpose of using “gun deaths” instead of the homicide rate is deliberate deception. Far more people die of suicide than homicide in the US every year, and guns are a popular way for people to kill themselves.

        There IS a relationship between suicide and gun ownership in the US, which is why they created the bogus “gun deaths” category – because suicides are more common than homicides by a wide margin (more than 2.5x more common at this point), they can swamp the homicide data with the suicide data, while pretending like they’re talking about gun violence. It is an INTENTIONAL bit of misdirection meant to trick people into believing something that isn’t true.

        It is a Big Lie – they’re intentionally combining two statistics with no relationship with each other. Indeed, when I graphed homicide rate vs suicide rate by state, the R-squared value was 0.0245, indicating no relationship. This suggests that putting the two into “gun deaths” is wrong – indeed, the only reason you’d do it was to trick people.

        However, saying “We need to stop people from owning guns so people stop shooting themselves” isn’t really something that is going to put butts in seats. So, they falsely conflate the two and talk about “gun violence”, when in fact they’re not.

        So, do guns cause suicide?

        Probably not.

        But how can this be, when there’s a correlation between gun ownership and suicide?

        The problem is that the US doesn’t actually have an unusually high suicide rate, coming in at about 12.1 per 100k in 2012 (rating about 50th globally). Countries like Japan, which have far fewer guns than the US, boast far higher suicide rates, as do many European countries, including places as diverse as France, Iceland, and Poland.

        Americans may choose to commit suicide by gun unusually often, but there’s no real evidence to suggest that guns *cause* suicide; if it were so, we’d expect the US to have an unusually high suicide rate, but we don’t, instead having a fairly middling suicide rate. Rather, the evidence suggests that people commit suicide by gun because guns are handy. But even in countries without guns, like Japan, people commit suicide far more than they do in the US, suggesting that guns are not a major driver of suicide.

        So what is the cause of the link between guns and suicide?

        It likely has to demographics of gun ownership. Rural areas have about double the suicide rates of urban areas, and more rural states have higher gun ownership than more urban states. The problem is that it appears that the driving factor is not gun ownership but being in a rural area – Canada, too, sees much higher rural suicide rates.

        This isn’t terribly surprising if you think about it; rural people have a lot of suicide risk factors. Being isolated and lacking easy access to mental health services, combined with poverty, lack of opportunity, and higher rates of depression, all leads towards higher suicide rates – as we’d expect them to.

        Thus, what we’re actually seeing is being rural driving both gun ownership and suicide rates, in much the same way that the number of nesting storks in an area predicts how many births will happen outside of hospitals – it isn’t that storks bring babies, it is that storks are more likely to live in rural areas, and rural areas are more likely to have more babies born outside of hospitals.

      • Titanium Dragon says:

        Whoops, broke my link to my graph.

      • Titanium Dragon says:

        And for good measure, graph of homicide rate vs suicide rate:

    • 1mime says:

      Here we go with reality vs facts again. I don’t know your background, Titanium, but from where I sit, the facts about poverty and guns and middle east chaos and cuts to the social safety net are pretty clear. How many people have to live in “poverty” (even as compared with gypsies….who, btw, live in countries where they have health care) to make it a real problem – for them? Defining poverty is a lot easier than living in it. I’ve never had that experience but it exists, I have seen it and know people who live it. The latest census data reports:

      “The nation’s official poverty rate in 2014 was 14.8 percent, which means there were 46.7 million people in poverty. Neither the poverty rate nor the number of people in poverty were statistically different from 2013 estimates. This marks the fourth consecutive year in which the number of people in poverty was not statistically different from the previous year’s estimate.”

      The good news is that poverty levels are “stable”….that’s “good” only if you aren’t one of the 46,7 M experiencing it, I guess – especially those who also lack access to health care. 90% of America’s citizens have health coverage today…that means that there are still 33 million without. Again, we’re moving in the right direction, but if you’re one of the 33 M without, that’s a problem.

      Guns. Can’t have too many of them, can we. Can’t use more caution about who gets them, can we. Ease of access doesn’t correlate with gun violence, does it. More laws won’t/can’t help. Guess we’re gonna have to disagree on this point.

      Middle East chaos. Fly answered that so precisely that all I’m going to do is agree with her, except to note that the US has a penchant for getting involved in foreign affairs preemptively which I believe is wrong. There are many examples of inappropriate US involvement in other countries politics. We should focus our limited human and financial resources here – as the highest priority.

      Cuts to social safety net. Noted your observation that it has helped many people through some tough times. Not sure of your age but one thing is certain. If you get old, you will appreciate living in a nation that cares about its elderly. That concern can take many forms, but the ideological commitment translates into policy and programs that are important to millions of people. It should not be abused and it has to be a priority of the majority otherwise there will simply not be sufficient resources to provide it. There is only so much money to go around and if this election hasn’t done anything more than provide a forum for working class people, it has achieved that. That’s the easy part. The hard part is responsibly dealing with it.

      • lomamonster says:

        Actually, the New Poverty is the compelling commandment to purchase firearms at extraordinary prices, ammunition at even more awesome cost, and then storage vaults if you have a family to protect from itself. A person could have bought a car by then, but no…. Just look at those guns you couldn’t afford nor use!

      • Titanium Dragon says:

        To be fair, some of the people who are uninsured in the US are illegal immigrants, who are ineligible for obvious reasons. A lot of the others are in places where they didn’t expand medicaid.

        Secondly, the “official poverty rate” is based on the 60% of median income threshold, but is applied *prior to* many forms of government assistance. While direct cash transfers, like Social Security, are included in people’s income, programs like public housing/government paid rent, SNAP (AKA Food Stamps), and many other forms of subsidies to the poor are *not* counted.

        So, while 14.8% of people are “poor”, 14.8% of Americans do not in fact live in poverty.

        This doesn’t mean that these people aren’t poor, but there’s a difference, I think, between being poor and living in poverty. Government welfare programs exist for the purpose of preventing poor people from living in poverty, and they’re actually pretty successful at it.

        Moreover, there’s the additional problem that, as noted, “poor” in the US is actually wealthier than a lot of people who aren’t considered to be poor in other countries. This is, again, because of the way that poverty is figured – 60% of median income. The problem is that the US has the second highest median income in the world after Switzerland, but we only rate about 20th in terms of living costs. The result is that poor people in the US are actually wealthier than poor people in many other areas, both in absolute money and in effect after taking cost of living into account. The American poor are better off than the poor in almost every European country, with very few exceptions (Sweden’s bottom 10% is marginally above the US’s bottom 10% in terms of absolute income, but they’re actually marginally worse off due to the higher cost of living there).

        That said, this is not all roses for the US; poverty in places like California and New York are higher than the 60% of median income figure would indicate, for instance, because they’re more expensive places to live in (though it also makes the South less poor by comparison for the same reason). Both states do have relatively advanced welfare apparatuses, but still, it is something to keep in mind.

        As far as guns go: see my response to GOPLifer above.

  25. Truthdig to the rescue. I was just complaining about the lack of introspection on the part of democrats and along comes this…

    Not to say the GOP isn’t waaaay more crazy (they are) but just nice to see someone on the left being critical of their own party. Thank you Bill Moyers and Michael Winship.

    • Titanium Dragon says:

      I disagree that they’re really the biggest problem in the Democratic party.

      I’d say the Democrats’ biggest problem are the equivalent of the Far Right – the SJWs and their ilk. The people who have zero respect for the government or authority, and who believe that whenever they’re wrong, reality is conspiring against them.

      The idea that the Democrats universally embrace reality is wrong. Liberals mostly do, but the left-wing authoritarian types don’t like reality any more than the Republicans. They’re just less obvious. But they’re entirely capable of idiotic moral panics. Fortunately, they’re mostly small-scale at this point, but you’ve seen a number of problems on college campuses from people like this in the last few years.

      The protesters who went out to shut down Donald Trump’s rallies are very similar to Trump’s own supporters in their character.

      • goplifer says:

        Yup. And there are very few people in the Democratic Party aware of what’s festering on their left. Far right groups may engage in a certain degree of science denial, but it is almost exclusively among less educated voters. There’s an entirely different breed of science denial on the left and it has an entire intellectual/academic structure behind it.

        Turns out, science is a tool of the oppressive patriarchy. Occasionally you will also discover that science is an instrument of imperialist oppression of dark-skinned peoples. Seriously. This is some wild, weird shit.

      • 1mime says:

        Here’s the problem with any significant focus on the far left right now. You have the very real conservative wingnuts who just keep hogging the forum. You want less government? They want no government if it’s not to their liking. When local government makes a courageous and correct stand (IMHO) which is then denounced and over-ruled by State government, how can anyone look any further than what’s happening in GOP circles?

      • Crogged says:

        Amazing what science can be if you refuse the accepted definition.

      • Yep. Couldn’t agree more. Nothing worse than being stuck between a Social Justice Warrior and Climate Change Denier. Reason has left the building.

      • As a member of “the left”, I have to say that there ARE vplenty of us fighting the science deniers on the left… the anti-vaxxers, the homeopaths, the “weed cures everything” crowd, etc. We’re the “walk your talk” crowd, who point out that it’s beyond hypocritical for us to deride those who believe in an international conspiracy of climate scientists then indulge in a just-as-ludicrous conspiracy of researchers to “hide the truth” about the “dangers” of vaccines.

        In many ways, we can thank the current GOP for our zeal in cleaning our own house. We see how many cranks have gotten power in “conservative” politics (I put “conservative” in quotes because very little of it is actually conservative), and we resolve to not let that happen in our sphere.

        Early on in the history of Daily Kos, the admins of the site decided that they would NOT let it become a den of tinfoil-hat crap, so they instituted an instant ban for ANY 9/11 “truther” stuff. Diaries, comments, whatever… say that 9/11 was an “inside” job, be banned from the site for life.It was harsh, but needed. And every time we venture over to Breitbart, we’re happy we did it, too.

      • Griffin says:

        Yeah but for now the anti-science left-wing crazies have all their influence in a handful of social studies departments and virtually no influence elsewhere, and have no widespread audience. Most don’t even identify as Democrats or liberals because they view them as compromisers, so are almost totally alienated from the political process.

        By contrast the far-right has much of the House of Representatives, influence in arguably the largest propaganda machine in modern US history (e.g. FOX news, AM radio, too many websites to name), well-funded think tanks, and control of one of the two major political parties in the USA. They’re the much more pressing issue right now.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        Why is it presumed that
        ” the anti-vaxxers, the homeopaths, the “weed cures everything” crowd, ”
        lean left?
        Because they hang with tolerant lefties? You know, people who tolerate their views?

      • 1mime says:

        Count this Democrat as one who will tolerate a lot of different views except when these people (of whichever party, affiliation, crowd) start trying to put their weird views into policies and laws, and, then we tangle. They can do whatever they want within their families unless they’re sending their kids to school with my kids. That’s not ok. Where has common sense gone?

      • Bobo: those are just the science deniers *I* see in my leftist circles. I know that they’re everywhere (Chris Christie’s pander to them while in England shows this), but the lefty nitwits tend to fall into those circles. I have yet to see a liberal deny the science of climate change, or the effectiveness of contraception. Those are right-wing things.

    • 1mime says:

      Bill Moyers has done a great job of serious reporting and critical journalism. Not familiar with Winship but will look for his work. Agree about both Wasserman-Schultz and Emanuel. Had O started his tenure with a more pragmatic, centered chief of staff than Emanuel, I believe he would have been much more successful from the get-go. He didn’t, and the rest is history. W-S time has passed. We need new thinking at the top of the DNC – I have always like Howard Dean but would like some younger people to be groomed. Democrats are becoming an old party and being “old” myself, I can appreciate the need for new ideas and challenges to existing norms. The world is changing and all of its institutions will have to change or lose effectiveness and relevance.

  26. flypusher says:

    Speaking of the choices the GOP offers us, Trump and Cruz are such class acts:

    Have we topped 1800 for bad election manners yet?

  27. WX Wall says:

    This is a fantastic post! My only concern is that I doubt the current Republican leaders will listen to it. Call me cynical, but I would argue that parties don’t change because they weigh the evidence of what’s good for the nation and change positions as needed for the common good. They change positions when they lose elections. And they change not based on what’s best for the country, but based on what will win them the next election.

    For all the damage the Republicans have sustained, as you yourself have pointed out, Lifer, aside from the Presidency, the Republican party has seen *massive* electoral gains in the past 8 years. In the Senate, House, Governorships, state assemblies, local elections, etc. the Republicans have seen huge victories. Even the 2012 Presidential election, with a demoralized base and a tone-deaf campaigner against a popular, charismatic incumbent, the Republicans came within 4% of victory.

    The politics of crazy have allowed the Republicans to go from a minority party (sometimes bordering on a *minor* party) to the dominant majority party. That is something the rational, reasonable policies of Eisenhower or Rockefeller never did. Although you’re right that the Republicans are now facing collapse from those very policies, I doubt they’ll change until they hit that wall they’re speeding toward. No political party ever does.

    2016 will be a Republican disaster only in the Presidential race. It’s still not certain they will even lose the Senate nevermind the House or state races. IOW, even with Donald Trump as their leader, the descent into craziness will result in far more electoral success than Republicans have enjoyed in decades. If the Republicans didn’t get the message in 2008 when they lost the Presidency and were reduced to 40% in the Senate, House, and a minority in the state houses, I doubt they’re going to learn any lesson in 2016. They will need to lose many more elections, for many more years, before anyone will have an incentive to reform the party…

    • 1mime says:

      Indeed, Wx Wall, if their base continues to return them to office, why would they want to change? As ugly as the process may be, it’s working for them, and until it stops, they have no incentive to do anything better.

  28. lomamonster says:

    I am becoming convinced that the real money is in the manufacture of answering machines and/or associated software. These endless political campaigns engender severe limits upon one’s quiet times and personal space requirements. It makes me want to volunteer for a Mars expedition. I just got an invitation “to just pick up my phone at 7:00 EST to participate in a live Democratic phone event not endorsed by any candidates” tomorrow night. How desperate is that???

    I’m sewing a NASA patch on as we speak!

    • 1mime says:

      Caller ID, Caller ID, Caller ID to the rescue (-: If you don’t recognize the number or it doesn’t have a name other than “anonymous”, you can bet your socks it’s a survey, poll, or a wrong number. In any case, if the ringing bothers you, pick up the phone and put it down. Done. It’s damned irritating and intrusive. I feel your pain! Got any more of those NASA patches?

    • tuttabellamia says:

      I like when the caller ID says, “Political Call.” I answer those in appreciation of their honesty.

    • Sara Robinson says:

      You must live in a state that matters. Having spent most of my adult life in either CA or WA when I wasn’t flat-out abroad, I’m always stunned to go to places with primaries that actually count. I don’t see political ads on TV until the last couple of weeks before the general election — and neither does anybody else in some very large states that, due to the quirks in the system, have virtually no say in the process.

      And I may get a campaign phone call once every three or four years.

      Don’t move to Mars. California will give you all the peace you seek. 36 million voters, not one of whom will cast a vote that counts for spit in selecting a candidate.

      • I live in Ohio. In October 2012, I think that 3 out of every 4 ads on the tele were political ads, mostly from the Obama or Romney campaigns. I used political mailers to start my campfires for a solid month. We actually had to plan our trips so we wouldn’t run into a highway closure because of a motorcade.

        Seriously, it sucks.

  29. Rob Ambrose says:

    Man, in really disappointed in CNN this entire campaign, refusing to ask follow up questions or hold idiotic statements up for scrutiny.

    Wolf Bkitzer just asked Trump, verbatim, “So, would a President Trump have tortured the recently arrested suspect immediately?”

    and Trump goes “All I can say Wolf is that he would’ve talked if I were president”

    Absolutely disgusting. Trump is dropping all pretenses and just being his full blown dictatorship self.

    • 1mime says:

      Blitzer is a wuss. I was sooo disappointed that he interviewed Cruz, who, if you watched, refused to answer any of the serious questions and simply used the interview for PR. As someone here said, it’s too bad we can’t import some of the BBC reporters to interview our presidential candidates. Those people dig, and they refuse to be put off with “non answers”.
      Of course, I don’t think there is anyone on CNN who is up for either a Trump or Cruz interview. They lack, well, intestinal fortitude, among other things.

  30. objv says:

    Hillary Clinton has devoted her life to public service. Her vast experience will make her a competent, well informed, and compassionate president providing a steady hand on the rudder while steering our country in the right (actually left) direction.

    Hillary Clinton is a compulsive liar whose sole purpose has been to enrich herself, deceive and cover up indiscretions. It is a mistake to trust anything she says. Someone once stated that she is a sad, old teabag that has been seeping too long in its own corruption. It’s time for her to be thrown out.

    Donald Trump is a highly successful businessman who has made billions with his shrewd deals. Out of concern for this country, he left his lucrative career to run for president. Only he has the expertise to break the political stalemate and deal with foreign governments which have taken advantage of us.

    Donald Trump is an arrogant, racist, sexist buffoon. He has destroyed businesses while enriching himself. He hypocritically employed foreign workers when he could have hired Americans. His preposterous hairstyle, alone, is enough to disqualify him from the presidency.

    Reality? Depends on who you talk to.

    • 1mime says:

      Objv, Karl Rove would have loved you.

    • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

      I think you are mixing reality with opinion.

      It is reality that Hillary has a long history of public service, it is opinion that she will provide a compassionate hand to government. It is reality that Trump hired foreign workers when he could have hired Americans and that he has taken advantage of bankruptcy laws to protect himself. It would be an opinion that he is arrogant (but I think he likely would confirm that).

      It is reality that evolution happened and is happening, it is the opinion of some people on the Texas School Board Administration that it did not and does not happen.

      • objv says:

        That’s your opinion. 🙂 It’s not as easy as that, Homer. If you read Lifer’s blog (Hi Chris), you will find almost all of it IS opinion. Much of what you usually write is also opinion. However, your opinions and the facts that you choose to prioritize form your reality.

      • 1mime says:

        Really, Ob? Lifer writes from opinions and not fact? That’s a legitimate observation if you are talking about someone like me; however, Lifer is extremely well researched and supports his thesis, whatever it is. When he does offer his opinion, he’s pretty straight about that, as well. It comes down to who you believe consistently tells you the truth. Opinions are valuable to help us understand one another. Fact is valuable to tell when opinions are bullshit.

      • objv says:

        Mime, it is a fact that Hillary is a liar. You’re OK with that?

      • 1mime says:

        No I am not ok with lies – even the ones I’ve stated. But, it happens and life goes on. Keep digging, Ob, you might just find a lie or two for your boy Ted. Trump, of course, has never, told a lie in his life…..but if he did, it would be yuuuuuuge.

      • objv says:

        Of course, everyone has lied at one time or another. However, Hillary consistently lies. In my reality, telling family members that their loved ones died due to a video while knowing full well that the attack was caused by terrorism makes her a bad choice to communicate truthfully with the American people.

        You may choose to place less importance on this and put more importance on her other qualifications.

      • 1mime says:

        I do, and I will.

      • objv says:

        Have any of you read anything written by Daniel Kahneman? His findings on how the human mind works are fascinating. We all have a tendency to prefer some facts over others. Thus, I see Hillary as a liar and Trump as a successful businessman. Note that Homer emphasized some facts as well. Lifer’s emphasis is on Republican racism. I don’t have the same background and upbringing, so to me attributing so much to racism elicits a big “Huh?”


        “The focusing effect (or focusing illusion) is a cognitive bias that occurs when people place too much importance on one aspect of an event, causing an error in accurately predicting the utility of a future outcome.”

      • flypusher says:

        ….iit is a fact that Hillary is a liar. You’re OK with that?”

        When compared to the even worse liars who are Trump and Cruz, then yes, yes I am, because accepting reality means you don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the better choice.

        All politicians lie. Not all lies are equally egregious.

      • 1mime says:

        Let’s take your last sentence a step further, “All politicians lie.”

        In reality, “all of us” lie. All of us. As you stated, Fly, it’s a matter of degree of importance. Mostly, we are really good at lying to ourselves. That’s the biggest lie of all.

      • johngalt says:

        Seriously, objv? You’re still prattling on Benghazi? That’s really kind of sad.

        “How can you tell if a politician is lying? His (her) lips are moving.” This is a joke so old that its provenance is unknown. All politicians lie. They do it frequently. It is beyond partisan to heap so much scorn on to one of them while giving so many others apparently a free pass. I get it, you don’t like Hillary. Come up with real reasons rather than lazy pablum about her lying.

      • objv says:

        Hillary, Why should I dislike thee? Let me count the ways.

        Why should we care if Hillary lies since all politicians lie? Well, yes, politicians lie, but that does not mean that they should get away with lying. In the Clintons’ case, there have been decades of lies and scandals and attempts to enrich themselves through political favors.

        JG, the lies to the parents of the victims were only among the latest examples in the Clintons’ legacy of twisting and changing the truth. You should not wonder why I am against Hillary getting away with it, you should wonder why you are fine with it.

        If one of your students were caught cheating and plagiarizing, you might give him or her a pass the first time. Would you continue to do so?

      • Crogged says:

        Objv, I hope you realize that at the time of the event no government official would have told ‘the truth’ regarding the events around Benghazi for reasons specific to dealing with terrorism. They may even ‘lie’ (it was a video that caused it!) in order to not show your hand to the enemy and to further an investigation. It was a tragedy, it wasn’t any one in America who pulled a trigger.

      • johngalt says:

        This is nonsense. You are hyperventilating about the “parents of victims”. The Obama administration had some confused responses to the Benghazi attacks. This confusion lasted about 72 hours. This is fairly commendable given responses to the Beirut barracks attacks, Black Hawk Down, Tehran, and a variety of other cases in which American military and diplomatic personnel were put in harm’s way. In fact, I think you grossly demean the memory of these brave individuals (and their parents) by suggesting that they did not understand the risks involved.

        Contrast this now to the parents of 4,000+ American servicemen and women sent into harms way based on faulty intelligence, faulty strategic planning, and a complete and utter ignorance of Middle Eastern history, by a previous administration. Are you willing to express any fraction of the repulsion you have for Hillary towards the incompetence that killed 1000 times more Americans than died in Libya?

        I do not employ any politicians, so my expectations for my students are much higher than I expect from the narcissists that run for office. My students rarely disappoint me much. My elected leaders rarely impress me. In the latter I am forced with great frequency to choose the least awful option. Tell me, objv – what is your least awful option in this election?

      • flypusher says:

        “Why should we care if Hillary lies since all politicians lie? Well, yes, politicians lie, but that does not mean that they should get away with lying. In the Clintons’ case, there have been decades of lies and scandals and attempts to enrich themselves through political favors.”

        As you are not showing the same degree of outrage towards the lies of Trump and Cruz, excuse us if we conclude that it’s something other than dishonesty fueling your dislike of HRC. You don’t like her stands on the issues, therefore her mangling of the truth is more egregious to you. If you want to pontificate about honesty, why don’t you practice what you preach?

      • objv says:

        First of all, Clinton did not call it a terrorist attack until September 21st. Math is not my best subject, but even I can figure out that there are more than 72 hours in 10 days.

        According to her released emails, Clinton knew it was a terrorist attack the same night the four Americans were killed.

        Talking points were developed to promote the narrative that a YouTube video was responsible when all evidence pointed to a planned attack. The person who made the video was imprisoned and the parents of the victims were lied to.

        Do you really believe that the talking points were promoted to further the investigation or is it more logical to think that the State Department and administration were trying to deflect responsibility for a terrorist attack that would make them look bad before a major election?

      • objv says:

        JG, it’s sad when more honesty is expected of a college student than the President of the United States.

        As you know, the mind has its biases, makes mental shortcuts and responds to primitive and hormonal influences even in the most intelligent people. I do not count myself among the most intelligent or logical. However, since you asked, I’ll describe how I am making my pick for president.

        Bernie over Hillary. Hillary has been part of the political class far too long. She is the Frankenstein here. At least, Bernie still has some integrity left. True, he is more liberal than Hillary, but most of his socialistic goals would be negated by congress.

        Trump trumps Bernie. Trump is arrogant and egotistical. I dislike him more than of any of the other candidates, but he would make better decisions on the economy. Having lived overseas, I know that other countries disrespect and take advantage of us. The risk is that Trump could be a spectacular disaster.

        Cruz over Trump. At this point, Cruz would be my top pick. Religious liberty is important to me. For all his faults, Cruz is the best conservative choice. He is smart and not afraid of unpopularity. He would be disliked by many people, but his beliefs most closely match mine, so he would be my first choice.

      • flypusher says:

        “Cruz over Trump. At this point, Cruz would be my top pick. Religious liberty is important to me. ”

        You meant the champion of religious liberty who would have police put people under some police surveillance solely because they happen to practice a certain religion?

      • Crogged says:

        Fly replace the word “liberty” with “dominance” and you have the truth of most defenders of ‘religious dominance’………………

      • objv says:

        fly, I believe that profiling based on religion and ethnicity is already happening even under the Obama administration When I was still living in Houston, a man identifying himself as from some kind of intelligence agency knocked on my door and asked questions about a Pakistani neighbor. I was completely baffled as to why he would be so concerned about an older man with an American wife and children who seemed to be completely assimilated.

        While I believe that individuals should be given a certain degree of privacy, terrorism has changed expectations as to what should and should not be allowed.

      • flypusher says:

        “fly, I believe that profiling based on religion and ethnicity is already happening even under the Obama administration ”

        You’re deflecting objv. Cruz is talking about extra surveillance on people because of their religion. Not because of any actual EVIDENCE they are plotting anything. That is not what a true champion of religious liberty would do. But to speak the obvious, this is just another case of Christian hypocrites saying “liberty for ME, but not for thee.”

        As for your neighbor, IF the reason they were asking questions was SOLELY because he was from Pakistan, and they had no other evidence, that was wrong.

      • Crogged says:

        I’m concerned with global warming but if I lived in Antarctica I wouldn’t wait on it. We already do many things about terrorism in this country, nothing we write here or in ‘private’ communications escapes the eyes of our Big Brother (and many other private organizations) and the current Republican party seems determined to create, then stoke, this fear of imminent invasion. OMG, Obama was at a baseball game etc. Chill out, everybody dies, better to die free than safe.

      • objv says:

        fly, I don’t remember reading anything about Cruz wanting extra surveillance solely because of religion. Do you happen to have a link for that. I wasn’t able to find anything when I goggled it.

      • objv says:

        Crogged, I’d prefer to be free AND alive, but that’s just me. Yes, everything we’re writing is probably looked over and analyzed by big brother. It bothers me. I won’t lie, but being trusting hasn’t worked out for the Belgians and French lately.

      • flypusher says:

        “fly, I don’t remember reading anything about Cruz wanting extra surveillance solely because of religion. Do you happen to have a link for that. I wasn’t able to find anything when I goggled it.”

        Are you freaking kidding me? You can’t find a story that is currently all over the news right now? Your champion of religious freedom said “We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.” How on earth is that anything other that targeting people based on religion? Are you going to try to spin that otherwise? If so, you should change your screen name to something more realistic.

        If your Google-fu is really that weak, cut and paste that quote. Took me all of 5 seconds with just 3 words to find plenty.

      • objv says:

        fly, by way of explanation, I haven’t been paying attention to the news for the past few days. I’ve been spending time with my daughter in Durango.

        I copied the quote and found the links. Thanks.

        It would be wrong to target any group based only on religion and Cruz should never have said what he did.

        For Cruz’s explanation see:

        “Cruz has defended himself, saying on NBC’s Today show: “What I’m talking about is focusing law enforcement and national security resources on areas, on locations where there is a higher incidence of radical Islamic terrorism.”

      • flypusher says:

        Cruz is doing his typical make an outrageous statement then back pedal schtick. Exactly which Muslim neighborhood are such hotbeds of radicalism that they need patrolling? If Cruz doesn’t actually know the important differences between American and European Muslim communities, he’s too ignorant to be a good president. If he does know, then he’s stirring up fear via lying by omission, and that is despicable.

    • goplifer says:

      I found that confusing.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      With regards to Trump, had he simply have put his inheritance into a passive S&P index fund, he would have roughly $10 billion in cash (more then he has now).

      Literally anybody with a brokerage account could have made more money then Trump has. Hes not some business genius or anything of the sort.

    • 1mime says:

      You want reality? Read this about the reality of trying to run our country with one hand behind your back. This is reality when politics is used as a weapon, despite the nation’s business and security being at risk. This is today’s reality as imposed by conservatives, and it is hurting our country.

    • Griffin says:

      A religious fundamentalist arguing in favor of postmodern relativism? We’ve done it Ladies and Gentlemen, we’ve gone full Horseshoe Theory. We’ve now seen everything politics has to offer.

  31. Griffin says:

    This might be your best post yet. Perfect summary of the recent history and current state of the GOP, honestly perhaps the best summary I’ve ever read on the subject.

    I think the Party can stay together if they somehow avoid total collapse until they lose in 2020 when they nominated a “true conservative” (Ted Cruz) and still lost. It’s at that point they’d have to either acknowledge their ideas are no longer popular and they have to change or keep going as is and functionally cease to exist as a national party. Also:

    “Figures who foolishly pointed out the fantasies were derided, punished, and pressed into political exile.”

    Did you just call yourself foolish? 🙂

  32. flypusher says:

    ‘Rove derided those who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality. That’s not the way the world really works anymore. We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.” ‘

    Which so beautifully explains his actions on election might back in 2012. Did you just not act hard enough to get that alternative reality you wanted, Karl??

    (I confess, I will never get tired of laughing about that OH vote argument.)

    • Titanium Dragon says:

      That meltdown on live TV was amazing.

    • Sara Robinson says:

      Are we sure it was Rove? The original reporter didn’t name names, and for years I assumed it was probably Mark McKinnon. Has someone finally outed the speaker as Rove, or did Chris just assume that?

  33. lomamonster says:

    Considering Glen Beck’s forlorn comment on Drudgereport today, I am convinced that the Feringi dumped him on this planet in their desperation to rid themselves of him.

      • lomamonster says:

        The comment that people who support Trump are not listening to their god.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        That’s pretty terrifying. When Beck says Cruz could be “the white horse” this is what he means:

        “In 1902, Mormon Elder John Roberts wrote in his journal that the prophet Joseph Smith had said, “You must continue to petition Congress all the time, but they will treat you like strangers and aliens and they will not give you your rights, but will govern you with strangers and commissioners. You will see the Constitution of the United States almost destroyed. It will hang like a thread as fine as a silk fiber.”

        “It will be preserved and saved by the efforts of the White Horse,” wrote Roberts, who went on to predict that “a terrible revolution will take place in the land of America” in which “the most terrible scenes of bloodshed, murder and rape that have ever been imagined or looked upon will take place.”

        That last part is pretty scary. Keep in mind, this terrible time that will show violence the likes of which we have never seen is a GOOD thing for these nuts. Its something to strive towards, and to vote for someone who will bring this about.

        Of course, from Cruz’s side, him and the other “real” Christians aren’t worried about fulfilling the prophecies of some heretical Christian sect. He has his own end times prophecies to fulfill, and they take place in Israel.

        What a morally bankrupt group of shitty ppl.

      • 1mime says:

        It’s not Teddy’s fault, his papa has been regaling him as the “anointed one” for decades. What’s a guy to believe if he can’t trust papa?

      • 1mime says:

        Yep, talk about making a prophecy happen!

    • Crogged says:

      I gave up conservative media for Lent.

      • Sara Robinson says:

        I gave up Facebook. And I’m seriously considering never going back. It’s hard to overstate how much peace of mind I’ve reclaimed as a result.

    • flypusher says:

      “..the Feringi dumped him on this planet..”

      I guess “buy gold!!” doesn’t work with “buy gold-pressed latinum!!”

  34. Bobo Amerigo says:

    FWIW, you are impressing the hell out of me.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      The far Right conservatives and Tea Party types I communicate with don’t agree with Lifer but they do respect him, mainly because he is respectful himself and is open to hearing opposing viewpoints. Respect and openness go a long way, and that’s something that’s sorely missing from political discourse these days.

      • 1mime says:

        Where do those TP and far right folks differ from Lifer on the situation with the GOP?

      • tuttabellamia says:

        They differ mainly in the different interpretations mentioned by Lifer, whether it be about climate change or about the general state of the Republican Party. Both sides want to take the party back, but Lifer says it’s gone too far to the Right, and my Tea Party “associates” say it’s too far to the Left.

        The one thing they have in common is their hatred of Trump, but again, for opposite reasons. He’s either too far Right or too far Left, depending on who you talk to.

        And Lifer himself is seen as a closet Democrat, but at least he is civil, and that counts for a lot and keeps ears open.

      • 1mime says:

        Tutta, if these conservative friends don’t agree with Lifer, they are part of the problem that he’s talking about! To quote a friend of mine I linked with Lifer’s current post and the RN Patterson piece: “There is little or no chance of the Republican body politic acknowledging or acting on any of this. The Establishment has no motive (except survival) but they won’t admit any responsibility. The rest of the Republicans are either so extreme, so misinformed, or so deluded that they think the Party is on the right track.

        This is a train wreck, and dissolution of the GOP as it currently exists is inevitable. It may happen in June, or November, or in the next 4 years. Actually, only the organization remains now. The two or more versions of the GOP ideology are wed only in practice, not principle.
        This is not good for our country, but things will work out messily, as in the past. We’ll just have to see if the sane ones walk away, or support Trump or Cruz.”

        Her thoughts fit my reaction to your comment that I didn’t want to change a word.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        One thing about Trump that they do agree on is that he’s vulgar and divisive.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I understand that Lifer is referring to people like the ones I have mentioned. My point is that there is always a place for open, civil discourse among people who disagree.

      • 1mime says:

        You are such a person, Tutta.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Mime, I think we the people are usually okay for the most part, on a one-on-one, face-to-face basis. It’s the politicians and the media who are divisive.

      • 1mime says:

        No, we the people and we the family are not ok at conversation. How many times in this blog have commentators remarked upon the difficulty of having family gatherings without a political tempest…one on one or not? The tone of our discourse has narrowed circles of friends and family as people increasingly find it difficult to relate without political rhetoric shutting down conversation. I wish this were not so, but wishing it weren’t so, doesn’t change a thing.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Mime: Sorry, I wasn’t referring to political discourse in that particular post. We the people are usually okay as long as we leave politics out of the conversation. I was referring to things like racial tension and other issues which are exacerbated by the media and politicians’ rhetoric. As you have pointed out in past posts, once we have direct contact with individuals, deal with them one-on-one, face-to-face, we are more likely to accept them in our lives and in society at large.

      • 1mime says:

        Tutta, you are a kind, generous person, but, I am going to state my “opinion” again: if civil discourse depends upon “never” engaging in any sensitive topic, like “politics, or race, or womens’ rights, or student debt, or, or…) we won’t talk to anyone except those who we know share enough similarity of views to feel safe in broaching these subjects. Now, there are definitely people who I know have strong views which are different than my own and I try to avoid engaging in conversation that I know will be divisive. However, there are times when it is simply impossible to walk away from horribly inaccurate, bigoted and wrong and ugly statements. That’s much harder, and sometimes I cannot keep silent. I try for the sake of the innocents in the room to keep my mouth shut, but I resent being the one having to stay quiet in deference to keeping the peace.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Mime, I admire you and I like your style, and you should continue to speak your mind as often as you can.

      • 1mime says:

        Thanks, Tutta. It’s good to know my “platitudes” have not totally lost their appeal (-;

        Be sure to let us know when the “big day” is so we can all wish you a fine one!

    • Bobo Amerigo says:

      I would ask, though, that you remove ‘mere’ from this phrase:

      created consequences beyond mere rhetoric

      There’s nothing ‘mere’ about rhetoric, as you’ve sort of double proved, with the citations you’ve used here and the force of your own rhetoric.

  35. To my fellow democrats who read Lifer… We better get moving. Lifer is doing his part to bring the GOP (or whatever replaces it) back to sanity. Until we find our voice of reason, who is willing to critique Dems with as much honesty as Lifer does Pubs, we will be behind in the new politics of sanity. There is as much crazy on our side. Sitting around smugly watching the GOP implode won’t fix it. We need a voice who can call us out on our BS and make us a better party. Anybody got a link?

    • 1mime says:

      Jeff, I concur with you about the need for honest criticism of Democrats. But, honestly, it’s hard to shift one’s focus to changing Dems when you are being blown away by the current disaster of the Republican Party. I read regularly only one “liberal” blog, and it is “The Weekly Sift”. ( I hope others will suggest theirs. I tend to read longer pieces that are found in journals such as The Atlantic, and special opinion pieces in Politico, newspapers, (mostly the WaPo and NYT). I gave up on the WSJ when it was sold (out). I’d love to expand and balance my reading and would appreciate valid, thoughtful criticism of the liberal point of view, which by today’s definition, I fit. In previous decades, I would have been considered a moderate Republican or Blue Dog Democrat. Today, I reside resolutely in the Democratic camp unless or until they self-destruct or the Republican Party resurrects into a rational alternative.

      • n1cholas says:

        If you want great political analysis, try

        And make sure you read the comments. Some really, really great comments in there. is where I go when I need political prose, poetrified. DG has a way with words.

        And, of course, I come here when I want to read absolutely excellent conservative Republican analysis of politics, without the batshit crazy delusions you find in most mainstream Republican political commentary.

      • 1mime says:

        Thanks for the links, N1cholas. I loved a line from Driftglass’ comment about David Brooks:

        “Being a Beltway journalist must it must be exhausting these days, what with so much news to avoid mentioning and so many scary things not to talk about.”

      • Sara Robinson says:

        I’d pitch my blog here, if I’d written anything there in the past two months.

        There’s an opening for a blogger who can critique the Left the way he critiques the right. And I’d be good a that, not least because I’m coming through my own crisis of faith with my own side. So far, I must admit, I haven’t found the courage; I’m afraid of losing what few friends I have left.

        (Saying that out loud actually kinda helps. If I lose friends because I call out lefty silliness, what kind of friends were they in the first place?)

        I’ve known Doug Muder of the Sift for many years, and Driftglass honored me by resurrecting an old piece of mine in the last couple of weeks.

      • 1mime says:

        I’m encouraged by more business and other venues speaking up in opposition to the extremism happening in state legislatures. Maybe these business execs will offer to tutor our members of Congress.

    • 1mime says:

      Oh, one last point, Jeff – “we better get moving”? GOTV is a crucial start. Thus far, the Democratic primary turnout has been abysmal, just as it was in 2010/12. As a nation, we cannot afford to neglect this basic, important responsibility. I am tired of having to accept the government of other people’s choices simply because Democrats can’t get their butts to the polls. I know about voter suppression, and I know it’s harder for working class people to make time to vote, but this time it’s critical. Vote and help others vote.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Mime, I think primary turnout being low us just a function of stability on the left. Most ppl ARENT primary voters, especially when they are more or less OK with both candidates.

        All the salon articles about “Bernie Bros” never voting for Hillary notwithstanding, my experience with ppl in my peer group is that regardless of whether they support Bernie or HRC, they also like and will support the other.

      • 1mime says:

        That’s not what I’ve been reading in comments to the articles my son is forwarding.. Of course, I guess there are die-hard advocates on both sides who rant, but did you know there is an actual PAC that has formed (Bernie or bust or something of the sort) which publicly urges Bernie supporters to not vote if Sanders isn’t the nominee?

      • Thank you 1mime and n1cholas for the excellent links to thoughtful liberal bloggers. I will definitely put Pericles and on my daily reading list. That said… not exactly what I’m looking for. Where’s the left voice willing to call us on the way we use unions to oppress minorities. Whose bitching about the Dems embrace of militarism and empire (how big a piece of the budget is military, both secret and above board, and these budgets are supported by both sides). I mean, some of this stuff is so obvious it writes itself. Homeland Insecurity is just as out of control under Dem management as Pub. The military seems to answer to no one. Is it just me or does this smack of Inverted Totalitarianism (see Wolin, Sheldon). Bullshit Bullshit Bullshit. And yes mime, I agree the Pubs are more of an ongoing train wreck but my point is our train just hasn’t hit the curve yet.

    • lomamonster says:

      Just review the President’s address to Cubans today and you will feel much better…

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      Agree, but let’s not pretend that the crazy is even remotely similar on both sides.

      The difference between them is that the crazy, loony, wrong headed policies on the democratic side remain firmly on the fringe. On the GOP side, they make up mainstream canon.

      • 1mime says:

        EXactly my point earlier, Rob. It’s hard to even focus on addressing problems on the Dem side when the Republicans are sucking up all the oxygen in the room. The need there is immense and that is where the focus needs to be right now. Democratic reform is needed but can wait. Republican reform is absolutely needed and it can’t wait. That is the difference.

    • 1mime says:

      Drip, drip, Jeff. Here’s a valid criticism of Pres. Obama from a respected journalist who leans left and does not wear rose-tinted glasses. I refer to Thomas Friedman, of the NYT, who calls O to task for his reluctance to engage (appropriately) in foreign crises. See if this is the kind of criticism you are looking for. Freidman, BTW, is extremely well informed about the Middle East and highly respected by both sides of the aisle.

    • g2-013e76e07c3b922357ad22ae2a3fd785 says:

      Here’s your link:

  36. 1mime says:

    It is absolutely blows my mind to watch people with whom you grew up – friends, family, neighbors – become the prototypes for Lifer’s post. These are frequently smart, educated people – how did our similar beginning in life diverge onto such different ideological paths? Frankly, it’s easier to understand those who base their actions upon religious beliefs than the rest. The pendulum has shifted so far right that those who are needed to make the necessary correction and changes are hopelessly mired in their own unreality. They abrogate any personal responsibility and place their faith in people like Ted Cruz, Tea Parties, and others in the radical right spectrum to manage this new alternate world they have chosen. Trump supporters at least have a rational basis for their allegiance.

    Most frightening is the political possibility that one of these two Republican candidates – Trump or Cruz – could be elected President of the United States. With their election, all hope for a responsible shift to rational leadership will be denied for another four-eight years. Count me with Homer in my concern that this outcome is not possible and then imagine the horror of the reality if it does. Events such as the bombings in Brussels today should be a clarion for gut checks all across our globe that responsible leaders are not just necessary, they are crucial. It starts in America with the 2016 election. Which direction will America choose?

  37. Rob Ambrose says:

    Ugh. I don’t want to reduce the Brussels attack to how it relates to the election, its a tragedy in its own right.

    But this is exactly the kind of thing that could get a Trump elected.

    Thank goodness Hill is winning, I think he hawkness, a liability in the primary, it may limit the damage a terrorist attack in October could do.

    I love Bernie but I don’t think his dovishness would play well in the face of irrational fear caused by a major terrorist attack.

  38. Stephen says:

    Good essay. When I was a young man a man in late middle age told me about working for rich folks who were spoiled and use to having their way, even to demanding things impossible that ran counter to the laws of nature. Hubris will kill you eventually. The worst thing that a leader can do is surround himself or herself with yes men and woman.

    “a love of capitalism (which they mostly despised)” I agree pretty much with Adam Smith’s view of capitalism. But the plutocrats of today’s GOP really want to reestablish Feudalism. Even that guy in the picture standing in front of the Confederacy Battle flag realizes that is not in his best interest although he probably could not articulate opposition in a intellectual way. So policies to move us that way have been couched in propaganda of religion and ideology. Yes I know you said this but you are not the only son of the South who sees through the B.S.

    Many traditional Republicans have become independents and then Democrats. Charley Crist is a recent example. I really do not think the GOP will reform as long the current path is working. Status Quo has enormous inertia. But changing demographics is relentless and the young are abandoning the old bigoted ways. Within ten years I think the party will collapse and either start the painful reformation or the Democratic party will have a wing of the old tradition GOP.

  39. I_T says:

    Another scientist here. By the end of his life, my small-businessman father, one of the old style pocket book Republicans, refused to vote Rep. I would never have thought he’d pull the lever for the Dem but as he put it, once it went crazy fundamentalist, the Republican party left him no choice.

    • Stephen says:

      I made my living in a technical field. Using science and math. And many problems we had to do basic research to solve them. I see things like you do. But my former boss did not. And my uncle who was a rocket scientist did not. Schooling and scientific training is no bulwark against crazy. You can still delude yourself.

      • vikinghou says:

        True. I suppose there is ignorance resulting from a lack of education, and also willful ignorance. Willful ignorance can be the result of religious views or situations when one’s employment and career depends upon a denial of reality.

      • flypusher says:

        When you look at educated people who deny evolution, you find a lot of engineer types. That mindset (in my experience) really values order, and Nature gets very chaotic at times (or at least chaotic to is because the limitations of our senses).

  40. Creigh says:


    “Lies are fast and facts are slow, but what we borrow in the space between deception and reckoning will always be repaid with terrible interest.”

  41. flypusher says:

    I make my living in science, which requires dealing in reality. Therefore, the GOP as it currently stands has nothing to offer me. Your reminiscing on W reminds me of the beginning of the end of any honest political discussions with my parents. A few days after the election of 2000, I called them and of course the conversation turned to the ongoing drama. When I said that there was absolutely nothing that I liked about Bush, I shocked my father into speechlessness. When he found his voice again, he was asking “Don’t you care about national security?” Given all the history and bad decisions that followed, that question has become quite ironic. The first step in establishing security is to be able to acknowledge reality. I’ve diplomatically refrained from any “I told so”‘s for the sake of peace within the family, and gone with a don’t-ask-don’t-tell approach, i.e., no unsolicited political opinions to the conservative branch of the family. So this blog is political therapy.

    • vikinghou says:

      I am a scientist too and I have the same problems with many of my relatives as you do. Dealing in reality requires an ability to think critically about what one observes. I am more and more convinced that the decline in public education has not occurred by accident. An ignorant population is a more malleable one. And states that have taken the biggest hits in terms of education support are generally the red ones. I can think of no better example than the current Texas Board of Education, especially the loon Mary Lou Bruner who may become a member.

      • flypusher says:

        “Dealing in reality requires an ability to think critically about what one observes.”

        So true, especially if the reality is going against what you WANT to observe/have happen. This is the one of the big twin blind spots of the climate change deniers. Reality goes against what they want, so they fight against it. But their second big mistake is assuming that those of us who acknowledge the problem WANT it to be so because we’re just chomping at the bit to control people’s lives. Bullshit. If reality was the way I wanted, there’d be no negative consequences of our modern lifestyle. But the universe doesn’t cater to my wishes, or your wishes, or anyone else’s wishes.

      • Sara Robinson says:

        The cause-and-effect relationship is hard to tease out. The South, in particular, has never been fond of universal public education as a policy, for reasons I outlined here.
        Their aristocracy has always known that it’s easier to exploit the stupid, and has taken extreme pains for centuries to ensure that there were a lot of them.

        Ignorance is the crankshaft of the engine that drives Southernomics; and plenty has been written about this by all sorts of interesting people. And that long-cultivated social value also explains why they’re so economically backward, as well as politically and religiously conservative. As Chris notes: once you’ve made the conscious choice to abandon reason, you’ve opened yourself up to reality having its very brutal way with you.

  42. flypusher says:

    I’ll repost this here, as it fits this topic:

    This will sound very familiar:

    But I don’t agree with his advice at the end, at least not yet. I’d rather see those honorable GOPers stay in the party and speak truth to batshit crazy from that position. I want them to have the guts to say “I’m a Republican, but I can’t in good conscience vote for Trump/Cruz, because they would lead this country in the wrong direction. Therefore I will be voting Dem/3rd party for President, but voting for the good GOP candidates down-ballot.” Chris has, and I respect that.

    Party loyalty should never demand that you march over a cliff.

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