Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Saturday, September 10, 2011 2:24 pm

If you don’t want to read about 9/11 this weekend …


… (and I would not blame you if you don’t), then spend time instead with this piece by Mike Lofgren, a recently retired GOP congressional staffer. His 28 years of service include 16 on the GOP staff of the House and Senate budget committees. In every important respect, what he says comports with what I observed in 25 years of professional Congress-watching, particularly since the rise of the Gingrichites in 1994. Key points (and keep in mind that this is a career GOP operative talking):

  • “To those millions of Americans who have finally begun paying attention to politics and watched with exasperation the tragicomedy of the debt ceiling extension, it may have come as a shock that the Republican Party is so full of lunatics. To be sure, the party, like any political party on earth, has always had its share of crackpots, like Robert K. Dornan or William E. Dannemeyer. But the crackpot outliers of two decades ago have become the vital center today: Steve King, Michele Bachman (now a leading presidential candidate as well), Paul Broun, Patrick McHenry, Virginia Foxx, Louie Gohmert, Allen West. The Congressional directory now reads like a casebook of lunacy.”
  • “This constant drizzle of “there the two parties go again!” stories out of the news bureaus, combined with the hazy confusion of low-information voters, means that the long-term Republican strategy of undermining confidence in our democratic institutions has reaped electoral dividends. The United States has nearly the lowest voter participation among Western democracies; this, again, is a consequence of the decline of trust in government institutions – if government is a racket and both parties are the same, why vote? And if the uninvolved middle declines to vote, it increases the electoral clout of a minority that is constantly being whipped into a lather by three hours daily of Rush Limbaugh or Fox News. There were only 44 million Republican voters in the 2010 mid-term elections, but they effectively canceled the political results of the election of President Obama by 69 million voters.”
  • “Ever since Republicans captured the majority in a number of state legislatures last November, they have systematically attempted to make it more difficult to vote: by onerous voter ID requirements (in Wisconsin, Republicans have legislated photo IDs while simultaneously shutting Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offices in Democratic constituencies while at the same time lengthening the hours of operation of DMV offices in GOP constituencies); by narrowing registration periods; and by residency requirements that may disenfranchise university students. This legislative assault is moving in a diametrically opposed direction to 200 years of American history, when the arrow of progress pointed toward more political participation by more citizens. Republicans are among the most shrill in self-righteously lecturing other countries about the wonders of democracy; exporting democracy (albeit at the barrel of a gun) to the Middle East was a signature policy of the Bush administration. But domestically, they don’t want those people voting.”
  • “Above all, they do not understand language. Their initiatives are posed in impenetrable policy-speak: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The what? – can anyone even remember it? No wonder the pejorative “Obamacare” won out. Contrast that with the Republicans’ Patriot Act. You’re a patriot, aren’t you? Does anyone at the GED level have a clue what a Stimulus Bill is supposed to be? Why didn’t the White House call it the Jobs Bill and keep pounding on that theme?”
  • The GOP cares solely and exclusively about its rich contributors. [Emphasis in original -- Lex] The party has built a whole catechism on the protection and further enrichment of America’s plutocracy. Their caterwauling about deficit and debt is so much eyewash to con the public. Whatever else President Obama has accomplished (and many of his purported accomplishments are highly suspect), his $4-trillion deficit reduction package did perform the useful service of smoking out Republican hypocrisy. The GOP refused, because it could not abide so much as a one-tenth of one percent increase on the tax rates of the Walton family or the Koch brothers, much less a repeal of the carried interest rule that permits billionaire hedge fund managers to pay income tax at a lower effective rate than cops or nurses. Republicans finally settled on a deal that had far less deficit reduction – and even less spending reduction! – than Obama’s offer, because of their iron resolution to protect at all costs our society’s overclass.”
  • “If you think Paul Ryan and his Ayn Rand-worshipping colleagues aren’t after your Social Security and Medicare, I am here to disabuse you of your naiveté.[5] They will move heaven and earth to force through tax cuts that will so starve the government of revenue that they will be “forced” to make “hard choices” – and that doesn’t mean repealing those very same tax cuts, it means cutting the benefits for which you worked.”

Go read the whole thing. The kicker is that this guy retired because he figures that given what the GOP plans to do to the federal retirement system, it was better for him to be a current retiree (and thus grandfathered in) than a future one.

4 Comments »

  1. After watching the inexorable degeneration of the US political system over the past 20 years, ten of them at extremely close range, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s time for a new Constitutional Convention to revise the Founders’ document. Not change it, just revise it to reflect modern realities and the evolution of US society. Among the issues that need to be addressed, in my opinion:
    1. Term limits for legislators, not just the executive
    2. Campaign-contribution limits
    3. A check on the Supreme Court, particularly important given the several clearly wrong and disastrously consequential decisions in recent years
    4. An explicit balanced-budget presumption, unless a case can be made for otherwise
    5. Time limits on campaigning
    6. A clearer understanding of just how paternal the federal government should be, studying issues such as health and retirement benefits, jobs programs, education aids, etc.
    I know it’s a radical proposal, and I’m still a bit fuzzy on the details (who’d sit in the convention, for a starter), But as you can see from my thoughts, the current system is all about excess, financial and rhetorical. Politicians, fueled by an almost unlimited supply of cash, are unable to curb themselves, so it’s time for cooler heads to prevail and set the limits for them. I’ve done a fair amouht of thinking about this over the past year or two, and have much more in-depth ideas about how the changes should manifest themselves, and why they should. I’d look forward to discussing this with anyone who care to examine the idea dispassionately.

    Comment by Blair — Sunday, September 11, 2011 3:14 am @ 3:14 am | Reply

  2. Get outa here. The Koch brothers are great Americans.who have been placed on
    Obama’s enemies list

    “….it is exceedingly important for all Americans to respond with outrage to what the president and his allies ( and those in the blogosphere ) are doing to demonize and stigmatize David and Charles Koch. They have been the targets of the multiyear, carefully orchestrated campaign of vituperation and assault described above—and much more. It has been choreographed from the very top. When the president personally takes leadership, his political surrogates and army of allies in the press and Congress quickly and surely follow the direction and tone he sets.

    The misuse of government power to damage or demean one’s political enemies is abhorrent and the very antithesis of a free society and a government of laws, not men. It is time for the public to ask those engaged in these practices, ‘Have you no sense of decency?’ “

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Thursday, February 2, 2012 1:16 am @ 1:16 am | Reply

  3. Oh, please. Because calling out a couple of secretive billionaires who’ve been bribing federal and state legislators is EXACTLY LIKE persecuting powerless ordinary Americans for their political beliefs.

    Anyone who doubts the existence of eternity need only contemplate conservative notions of victimhood.

    Comment by Lex — Thursday, February 2, 2012 9:47 am @ 9:47 am | Reply

  4. Who is bribing who, Lex ? Secretive (evil ) billionaires? Are you auditioning for the Onion?

    Harry Reid rails against the Koch brothers over 100 times on the Senate floor.

    As I said before, the Koch brothers are great Americans. Here Charles lays it out.

    I’m Fighting to Restore a Free Society

    ” I have devoted most of my life to understanding the principles that enable people to improve their lives. It is those principles—the principles of a free society—that have shaped my life, my family, our company and America itself.

    Unfortunately, the fundamental concepts of dignity, respect, equality before the law and personal freedom are under attack by the nation’s own government. That’s why, if we want to restore a free society and create greater well-being and opportunity for all Americans, we have no choice but to fight for those principles. I have been doing so for more than 50 years, primarily through educational efforts. It was only in the past decade that I realized the need to also engage in the political process

    A truly free society is based on a vision of respect for people and what they value. In a truly free society, any business that disrespects its customers will fail, and deserves to do so. The same should be true of any government that disrespects its citizens. The central belief and fatal conceit of the current administration is that you are incapable of running your own life, but those in power are capable of running it for you. This is the essence of big government and collectivism.

    More than 200 years ago, Thomas Jefferson warned that this could happen. “The natural progress of things,” Jefferson wrote, “is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.” He knew that no government could possibly run citizens’ lives for the better. The more government tries to control, the greater the disaster, as shown by the current health-care debacle. Collectivists (those who stand for government control of the means of production and how people live their lives) promise heaven but deliver hell. For them, the promised end justifies the means.”

    RTWT

    Now a word or two about the Democrat Party’s new Horn of Plenty.

    The Epic hypocrisy Of Tom Steyer

    “Billionaire hedge fund operator and “green” energy magnate Tom Steyer has pledged $100 million in the 2014 election cycle to help Democratic candidates who oppose the Keystone pipeline and who favor “green” energy over fossil fuels. Steyer claims to be a man of principle who has no financial interest in the causes he supports, but acts only for the public good. That is a ridiculous claim: Steyer is the ultimate rent-seeker who depends on government connections to produce subsidies and mandates that make his “green” energy investments profitable. He also is, or was until recently, a major investor in Kinder Morgan, which is building a competitor to the Keystone pipeline. Go here , here , here , here , here and here for more information about how Steyer uses his political donations and consequent connections to enhance his already vast fortune.”

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Friday, April 25, 2014 5:46 am @ 5:46 am | Reply


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