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The House GOP’s Nihilistic Anarchism

Capitol Building Dusk

Writing in the wake of the Fiscal Cliff deal and the amateurish attempt to challenge John Boehner for Speaker, National Review’s John Podhoretz rails against the conservatives on Capitol Hill who seem to have taken the Republican Party down a very bizarre path:

The problem is that conservatives seem to think there were other choices, other ways, other possibilities — when all those choices, ways and possibilities had been exhausted.

And so many of them are literally embracing chaos. Though they oppose raising taxes, by voting against the tax bill on Tuesday night they effectively voted to raise taxes on 98 percent of Americans.

(…)

Then came talk that Boehner should be fired as speaker of the House when the time came to vote in the new speaker yesterday afternoon. Yet none of the insurgents was brave enough to stand against him; instead, a bunch of them cast nonsense votes for someone else or refused to vote at all.

In so doing, they came close to handing Boehner a humiliating and entirely destructive defeat — forcing a second ballot and leaving their own party leader critically injured. They seemed to crave disorder.

This is how people who are more comfortable on the margins than in the middle of things behave. This is cannibalism, not political combat. This is unreason, not reason. This is temper, not temperament.

This is anarchism, not conservatism.

I suppose the only question I would have for Podhoretz about this insight, which I tend to agree with, is where they heck he’s been all this time. It’s been evident for at least the last two years that there’s a not insubstantial portion of the Congressional GOP, mostly in the House but increasingly becoming a powerful force in the Senate GOP Caucus, for whom the idea of governing means only getting what they want. The idea of compromise and legislative bargaining, a part of American politics from the beginning of Republic, is not only anathema to them, it doesn’t even seem to exist. During the recently concluded Fiscal Cliff negotiations, this was epitomized by the people who asserted that the GOP should not consent to any deal that didn’t extend the Bush Tax Cuts for all taxpayers. The fact that it was blindingly obvious that such a bill would never make it through the Senate or past the President, thus resulting in taxes going up for everyone, didn’t seem to occur to these people or, if it did, it didn’t seem to matter to them.

This is the danger of the all-or-nothing philosophy when it comes to legislative politics. When running for office, it’s typical for politicians on both sides of the aisle to talk about high minded ideals and strict adherence to principles. This is what gets the base enthusiastic about the campaign and brings in the votes, and it’s been part of American political campaigns from the beginning. However, it’s also been part of American political history from the beginning that legislating is, by definition, the art of compromise. As I noted in the wake of the Fiscal Cliff deal, which I’ll admit was imperfect but was likely the best deal that could be gotten under the bizarre circumstances we live in, expecting perfection in legislation is a foolish proposition. Even in those limited eras in American history when one political party has held all the levers of government, it has always been the case that political horse trading of one kind or another was necessary to get legislation passed. When you’re in an era where the political party that you support only controls one-half of one branch of the Federal Government, the idea that you can hold the nation hostage and get everything you want is not only stupid, it’s completely irresponsible.

This isn’t to say that every Republican in Congress is like this. The Atlantic’s Molly Ball has an interesting interview up with now-former Ohio Congressman Steve LaTourette, who makes these comments about the current state of the Republican Caucus in the body he used to be a member of:

Q: The impression, particularly among Democrats, is that the Republican majority in the House is a bunch of crazies determined to do everything in their power to stand in the way of functional government. Is that wrong?

Former Rep. Steve LaTourette: It’s wrong because the whole conference isn’t crazy. The majority are trying to get the right thing done. But if you do the math and you need 218 out of 233 [to pass a bill], you don’t need many people to leave the reservation to have a nonfunctioning majority. It’s reasonable to say that within the group are some extremists.

(…)

Q: The impression, particularly among Democrats, is that the Republican majority in the House is a bunch of crazies determined to do everything in their power to stand in the way of functional government. Is that wrong?

Former Rep. Steve LaTourette: It’s wrong because the whole conference isn’t crazy. The majority are trying to get the right thing done. But if you do the math and you need 218 out of 233 [to pass a bill], you don’t need many people to leave the reservation to have a nonfunctioning majority. It’s reasonable to say that within the group are some extremists.

I have no doubt that LaTourette is largely correct here. The vast majority of the Republican members of the House aren’t really part of the “let it burn” caucus. However, thanks in no small part to the fact that people like LaTourette have been leaving Congress in drovers over the past two years, the power of that caucus has been growing ever more extensively. In addition, the growing power of third-party advocacy groups such as the Club For Growth, which just yesterday said that it would hold a “yes” vote on Hurricane Sandy relief against any Congressman who voted that way, has significantly changed the motivations of Members of Congress. Rather than being most concerned about winning a General Election against a Democratic opponent, many of them are now more concerned about avoiding a challenge from the right in a Republican Primary. Thus, even those Members of Congress who might be willing to support reasonable legislation find themselves conflicted.  This has all become most apparent in the last week with the Fiscal Cliff near-debacle and the idiotic, incompetent, and yet righteously indignant effort to oust John Boehner as Speaker of the House.

At this point, it seems rather apparent that a different philosophy has come into vogue in the entity that continues to call itself the Republican Party. Instead of being a philosophy of limited government and fiscal responsibility, it is a philosophy where there are only two alternatives. Either the nation moves in the direction that those who advocate it want it to, or it burns. There’s no room for compromise, no room for debate other than on the terms already set. This is not the philosophy of a party that wants to govern, and it’s not the philosophy of a party that is going to last for an extended period of time in its present form. It is, in the end, a philosophy of anarchism in which one really doesn’t care what happens. For a party that claims to care about morality, it is amorality at its most extreme.

Related Posts:

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Blue Shark says:

    …Our elected officials all swear an oath to protect America against enemies both foreign and DOMESTIC.

    …Today’s republican party is skating along a line that many already feel they have crossed into the realm of domestic enemies. Another word for which is treason.

    …This is a problem.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 37 Thumb down 14

  2. Travis Mason-Bushman says:

    It’s not as if this is a new phenomenon at all. We’ve just reached the logical concluding point of the GOP.

    Take health care, for example. Those on the left would like to see a single-payer health care system – or at least a public option. Obama compromised in his efforts to reform health care by passing Obamacare – which is basically a minor refashioning of a Republican proposal! Obamacare is certainly not any progressive’s ideal legislation. It’s a subsidy program for private insurance companies.

    The modern version of the Republican Party committed itself entirely to the view that we should just repeal Obamacare in its entirety – that no health care reform was preferable to what was enacted. When asked for an alternative proposal to address the problem of health care costs, free riders and the uninsured, none was ever given. The result was an entirely nonsensical “repeal and replace” slogan that never deigned to advance an actual replacement legislative agenda. The only answer was “no.”

    So even though, as many on the right have pointed out ad nauseam, Obamacare is not the most popular of legislation, its namesake won his re-election campaign convincingly. The American people may not love Obamacare, but they do appear to respect and appreciate the fact that Obama tried to do something about health care reform while his opponents babble on about tort reform and death panels.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 56 Thumb down 3

  3. PJ says:

    Q: The impression, particularly among Democrats, is that the Republican majority in the House is a bunch of crazies determined to do everything in their power to stand in the way of functional government. Is that wrong?

    Former Rep. Steve LaTourette: It’s wrong because the whole conference isn’t crazy. The majority are trying to get the right thing done. But if you do the math and you need 218 out of 233 [to pass a bill], you don’t need many people to leave the reservation to have a nonfunctioning majority. It’s reasonable to say that within the group are some extremists.

    (…)

    Q: The impression, particularly among Democrats, is that the Republican majority in the House is a bunch of crazies determined to do everything in their power to stand in the way of functional government. Is that wrong?

    Former Rep. Steve LaTourette: It’s wrong because the whole conference isn’t crazy. The majority are trying to get the right thing done. But if you do the math and you need 218 out of 233 [to pass a bill], you don’t need many people to leave the reservation to have a nonfunctioning majority. It’s reasonable to say that within the group are some extremists.

    Former Rep. Steve LaTourette really is suffering from Tourette’s…

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 3

  4. Argon says:

    I suppose the only question I would have for Podhoretz about this insight, which I tend to agree with, is where they heck he’s been all this time.

    Podhoretz is perfectly happy with bomb throwing, as long as he doesn’t get hit with the blowback. What he doesn’t like is the thought of losing the ability to continue throwing bombs. Hence he’s willing to make short-term concessions to keep the bomb throwers in power.

    He likes his useful idiots as long as they don’t get out of hand.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 2

  5. john personna says:

    I guess the new “We’ve always been at war with Eastasia” is “OTB has always been for pragmatism and negotiation with Democrats.”

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 1

  6. john personna says:

    @Travis Mason-Bushman:

    It was actually a pretty amazing election cycle. Romney started running on repeal, and Obama finished with affirmation of the program.

    Affirmation won.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  7. Spartacus says:

    Doug wrote:

    I suppose the only question I would have for Podhoretz about this insight, which I tend to agree with, is where they heck he’s been all this time.

    This is awfully rich coming from a person who lives in a swing state and voted for a third party candidate who had absolutely no chance of winning. By refusing to vote in a way that would hinder the party that is causing the most harm to the country, Doug was being just as infantile and harmful as are the GOP crazies.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 5

  8. @Spartacus:

    If Johnson had not been on the ballot in Virginia, I would have left the Presidential part of my ballot blank.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 33

  9. john personna says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Would you ritually wash your hands as well?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 36 Thumb down 1

  10. Spartacus says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    If Johnson had not been on the ballot in Virginia, I would have left the Presidential part of my ballot blank.

    You’re ignoring the reality that in the absence of a viable third party, all voting decisions including the decision not to vote, are a zero-sum game between Rs and Ds. A vote not cast for the Democratic candidate means that the Republican candidate needs one less vote to win.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 3

  11. Ernieyeball says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I would have left the Presidential part of my ballot blank.

    On November 6, 2012 this option was available to all electors. However there are some Americans that advocate that Citizens be forced to vote or be punished in some manner. Not marking your ballot would be an obvious violation of this edict.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  12. cd6 says:

    Anarchists? More like patriots

    Voting NO (or even better: HELL NO) on a bunch of RECKLESS DEMOCRAT SPENDING is the right thing to do.

    Contrast that with the Democrat party, which invented Obamacare – a willful and deliberate attack on the Constitution and the American way of life

    The DEMOCRAT party is represented in Congress by communist Nancy Pelosi. The GOP has noted constitutional scholars like Michelle Bachmann and that dude who wasn’t paying his alimony.

    Which side is to blame for the chaos in Washington? I think it’s totally obvious

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 18 Thumb down 27

  13. al-Ameda says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    If Johnson had not been on the ballot in Virginia, I would have left the Presidential part of my ballot blank.

    This reminds me that in all my years of voting I have only twice – declined to vote for a major party presidential candidate: in 1976 and in 1980 I did not vote for Jimmy Carter (or Jerry Ford or Ronald Reagan), respectively.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  14. John Burke says:

    Doug — you’re right. The hard right is expanding its influence within the GOP and the House GOP caucus through primaries and threats of primaries driven by the combined power of widespread “tea party” related grassroots organization helped along by scores of influential bloggers and news sites, loads of money unleashed through super PACs, and the ongoing influence of talk radio hosts and cable news (not just Fox but folks like Beck).

    But here’s the thing you leave out: the right is pretty much just catching up with the left, which has in recent decades siezed control of the Democratic Party — my party. For all his flaws (and hostility toward him from the right), Bill Clinton ran and governed as the centrist he was as governor of a southern state, chairman of the now-defunct NDC, and close buddy with Zell Miller. But it wasn’t just WJC who brought us serious deficit reduction, welfare reform, etc. 15-20 years ago. I looked back at the roll of Democratic Senators in the Congress that convened in 1993 and counted 22 that I regard as moderates, with even a few who could justifiably be called moderate conservatives (like David Boren). Even the most famous and influential of the liberal bloc included guys like Pat Moynihan who had worked for Nixon and was no barn burner (although certainly there were some lefties too). It was pressure from moderates in his own party that enabled Clinton to significantly neutralize the left on some issues.

    In today’s Senate, the Democratic Party has shifted markedly left. There are a still a few southern moderates — Pryor, Landrieu come to mind, along with Manchin. After that, you have a few who posture in a moderate direction like Tester but nearly always support the party line and certainly do not stage fights with the President, as Boren and others did. With Evan Bayh and Joe Lieberman having retired, you’d really have to stretch the definition of moderate to find one outside the south. My count is six or seven vs. 22 in 1993. And the liberals today lean a good deal more left than Mohnihan.

    Much the same comparison can be made with respect to the House and of course, the contrast between Obama and Clinton is striking.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 39

  15. michael reynolds says:

    Where’s Podhoretz been? Where’s most of the punditocracy been?

    This is not new. A blind man could see four years ago that the GOP had gone over the edge. It wasn’t hard. And all of the commentary since then that has centered on “Why didn’t Obama work out a better deal on X or Y or Z?” has been utterly clueless.

    We don’t have a two party system in Congress. We have the Democrats, and then we have crazy people.

    You can’t get to an understanding of politics by looking at policy. You have to spend some time looking at the characters in the play. You have to understand human beings and pay attention to all the things unsaid as well as said, all the things implied. Political analysis is useless or worse than useless when analysts don’t understand that it is always, always, always about people and emotion and only secondarily about policy or god help us, logic.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 1

  16. michael reynolds says:

    @John Burke:

    I have no idea what the hell you could possibly be talking about. Democrats have shifted to the left? Where? National security? Social Security? Medicare? Drug policy?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 50 Thumb down 2

  17. Mikey says:

    @Ernieyeball: Even in countries that have compulsory voting, the fact of a secret ballot means they can’t penalize voters who leave part of the ballot unmarked, or write in silly candidates. All voters are required to do is show up at their assigned polling place. They could write in “Donald Duck” for every contest if they wanted to.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  18. An Interested Party says:

    But here’s the thing you leave out: the right is pretty much just catching up with the left, which has in recent decades siezed control of the Democratic Party — my party.

    Except, of course, that the left of the Democratic Party isn’t nihilistic and anarchistic like the right of the Republican Party…

    …the contrast between Obama and Clinton is striking.

    How’s that? What are all these very liberal things that the President has done? How is he so much further to the left than Bill Clinton?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 37 Thumb down 1

  19. Rafer Janders says:

    Say what you will about nihilism, at least it’s an ethos.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  20. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @John Burke: …the contrast between Obama and Clinton is striking.

    You’re absolutely correct. Clinton was a centrist Democrat and Obama is an Eisenhower Republican. The differences are astounding.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 41 Thumb down 0

  21. wr says:

    @John Burke: “There are a still a few southern moderates — Pryor, Landrieu come to mind, along with Manchin”

    Love the new definition of “moderate” — one whore to the Waltons, one whore to Big Oil, one whore to Big Coal.

    Apparently anyone who actually gives about about any non-billionaire constituent is one of them flaming lefties.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 1

  22. wr says:

    @wr: That would be “gives a damn,” of course.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  23. John Burke says:

    @michael reynolds: Absolutely, all of those and a great many more. Social welfare policies across the board. Environmental regulation. Business regulation generally. Trade policy. And federal spending, in particular. Since obviously, you are one of those who would like to push the party even further left, you wouldn’t notice or care, but it’s true.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 32

  24. Herb says:

    @Rafer Janders: They’re nihilists, Donnie!

    As for this:

    Instead of being a philosophy of limited government and fiscal responsibility, it is a philosophy where there are only two alternatives. Either the nation moves in the direction that those who advocate it want it to, or it burns.

    To quote another, more sinister film: Absolutely goddamn right.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  25. Ernieyeball says:

    @Mikey: So Citizens are forced to show up at the polling place. Then they are “free” to leave the entire ballot blank if they choose. So what does this accomplish? I thought the idea was to force people to cast a vote. Not just waste fuel traveling to and from the polls to submit a blank ballot.
    I am curious about the punishment for those who refuse to be compelled to waste time and resources to travel to and from the voting booth for no reason other than to fulfill the whims of the control freaks who support such coercion.
    Will there be fines? If someone refuses to pay the fine then what? Jail?
    What about Americans whose religion forbids then to participate in such worldly affairs?
    Should the Jehovah’s Witnesses have to choose between jail or obeying the laws of the secular state? Will they be forced to journey to the polls when everyone knows their ballots will be blank?
    This entire idea of passing what will have to be Federal Laws to strong arm American Citizens to vote in all elections, national, state and local, primaries and general elections is not only foolish but contrary to the foundation of a FREE society.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  26. Mikey says:

    @Ernieyeball:

    So what does this accomplish? I thought the idea was to force people to cast a vote. Not just waste fuel traveling to and from the polls to submit a blank ballot.

    You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him vote, I guess.

    I am curious about the punishment for those who refuse to be compelled to waste time and resources to travel to and from the voting booth for no reason other than to fulfill the whims of the control freaks who support such coercion.

    Depends on the country. Australia imposes a $20 fine if you don’t have a good reason for not showing up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  27. michael reynolds says:

    @John Burke:

    At the point where you somehow make the leap that I’m for pushing the party further left — on the strength of no data whatsoever — you lose a bit of cred.

    You don’t have any answers. A laundry list of categories is not an answer. How are Democrats further left? On what specific policies? And compared to what starting point?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 38 Thumb down 1

  28. Ernieyeball says:

    @Mikey: I don’t much care what other governments do to punish non voters. I am only interested in what Americans think their fellows should suffer when they refuse to be forced to the polls.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  29. Mikey says:

    @Ernieyeball: I’ve no idea. I favor keeping voting entirely voluntary, although I’d like to move Election Day to Saturday or Sunday.

    I’ve only ever heard the idea of compulsory voting in America floated in the most general terms, and not very often.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  30. Ernieyeball says:

    @Mikey: Thumbs Up!

    What irks me about the idea is that proponents never want to talk about enforcement. They seem to think Citizens will comply and won’t it be great for voter turnout and democracy!
    I always ask supporters if they are going to be the ones to check and see if I vote or if they want the Federal Election Police to do it. The looks I get are interesting. Most of them had not even thought about it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  31. Argon says:

    @michael reynolds:

    How are Democrats further left? On what specific policies?

    The best I can think of is gay marriage. Gun control and environmental regulation have generally taken the back seat with the dems. And even with gay marriage, it’s not so much that they became more liberal, it’s that the country as a whole became more accepting first.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 1

  32. michael reynolds says:

    @Argon:
    That’s all I could come up with, too.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  33. Xenos says:

    The term for the recalcitrant rump Republicans should be the fire-eaters. For they show the same degree of respect for the government and people as the fire-eaters of yore.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  34. Trouble is, radical socialist Barack Obama has jerked this country’s political ‘norm’ so far to the left that any ‘compromise in the middle’ with the GOP’s middlin’ talents ends up being something Fidel Castro would have little problem with.

    ONLY a strong, principled, conservative counterweight -meaning people who like to FIGHT and are dedicated to re-instituting Reaganite fiscal policy in this country- will ever have a prayer of pulling us back from the fiscal brink, defeating the statists, and returning America to anything resembling normalcy.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 48

  35. cam says:

    @cd6: The scary thing is that it took me until you mentioned the “dude who wasn’t paying his alimony” to figure out that you were being sarcastic! I read Hot Air regularly and this comment would fit right in there, capitals and all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  36. Xenos says:

    @Reaganite Republican:

    Trouble is, radical socialist Barack Obama has jerked this country’s political ‘norm’ so far to the left that any ‘compromise in the middle’ with the GOP’s middlin’ talents ends up being something Fidel Castro would have little problem with.

    Here is the problem. You have no idea what you are talking about. None. You are so divorced from reality that no sane person in your regular life will even talk to youabout it to straighten you out.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 33 Thumb down 0

  37. Scott O says:

    @cd6: If you want to do it right delusions and random capitalization aren’t enough. You’ve got to have a web site that screams out the crazy too like @Reaganite Republican: .

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  38. @Reaganite Republican:

    I haven’t read a comment this ill-informed in many a moon. Practically everything you said is wrong.

    First, I grew up with Reagan and loved him (still do in many ways). He was not the person you are describing. In broad strokes, what he did is cut taxes in a big way, which threw us into historically large, for the time, deficits; he held social spending essentially steady over the decade, though he did increase taxes for SS immensely, thereby saving the program; and, he increased spending on the military in a big way. Your hagiography doesn’t match the real man at all.

    A final thing: Obama is not a radical of any kind, nor a socialist of any kind. If you really believe that, you’re stupid. There isn’t a nice way to put it.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 34 Thumb down 1

  39. John Drinkwater says:

    The title of this article is an insult to nihilists and anarchists, who would never associate themselves with the Republican Party, nor any party. Whoever writes this garbage should consult history or at least Wikipedia on what these terms mean before they throw them about haphazardly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  40. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Spartacus:

    This is awfully rich coming from a person who lives in a swing state and voted for a third party candidate who had absolutely no chance of winning. By refusing to vote in a way that would hinder the party that is causing the most harm to the country, Doug was being just as infantile and harmful as are the GOP crazies.

    Disagree with Doug all you want about his preferred policies. I do. Doug votes his conscience. You would have him do otherwise? That is even more infantile than you think Doug is being.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2

  41. JoshB says:

    @Scott O:

    I have to admit that I was severely disappointed in his site. I clicked through to expect some poo-flinging insanity and all I saw was run-of-the-mill nonsense. Perhaps I’ve come to expect too much from wingnuts? I think I’m chasing a high that I’ll never get. Even Jim Hoft / Gateway Pundit bores me these days.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  42. RolloMartins says:

    @Robert Prather: Yeah, lot’s to love there. Supported (actively, with arms and money) genocide in Central America, dealt arms to terrorist Iran, lied to Congress along with VP Bush. A man of weak character who should have been impeached and tried as a war criminal. Now he routinely polls above Lincoln — the times they are a’changing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  43. Tyrell says:

    Who will stop Obama and the Democrat party from further dismantling the Constitution, usurping states’ rights, and taking away more individual liberties ? This did not start with Obama, but has certainly accelerated, especially with Reid and Pelosi around.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 20

  44. Rafer Janders says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Doug votes his conscience. You would have him do otherwise?

    Yes, I would. In a participatory democracy, I would have him vote for the candidate he thinks would be the best AND most effective leader of the country.

    We are not electing our feelings. We are electing fallible, flawed men and women to carry out very complicated policies for the benefit of the country. Doug seems to think that the franchise is just another avenue for his self-expression. I happen to think it’s a practical responsibility I have to my fellow citizens.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  45. Woody says:

    Fine article, Mr M.

    And please continue to vote for your preferred candidate. The only major change in voting I favor would be to end the archaic First Tuesday after First Monday Election Day and replace it with a Friday/Saturday voting system (no adverts after 12AM PST Friday morning). Failing that, make it on Saturday only. Forcing citizens to fit this in after work is idiocy (especially in northern climates).

    As to the extremist backbenchers dominating the GOP, well, America has a long history of electing nutball Representatives (and more than a few Senators). The difference is that the kooks of the past did not have a television and radio empire that profits from the promotion of paranoia and fear.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  46. Mikey says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    We are not electing our feelings.

    Maybe not in some alternate universe in which people are as logical as Star Trek’s Vulcans, but here on Planet Earth we do little else.

    A cursory study of last year’s raft of political ads will reveal few, if any, appeals to intellect.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  47. Andre Kenji says:

    Sorry, but If I voted in America(Even if I voted in Ohio or Virginia) I would probably leave the Presidential part of the ballot.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  48. al-Ameda says:

    @Tyrell:

    Who will stop Obama and the Democrat party from further dismantling the Constitution,

    A Black Helicopter has been dispatched, please greet it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  49. Rafer Janders says:

    @Mikey:

    Maybe not in some alternate universe in which people are as logical as Star Trek’s Vulcans, but here on Planet Earth we do little else.

    Really? President Obama is not a flesh and blood person with policy preferences and actions, but is rather a feeling?

    People use emotion to make political choices, sure. But they should keep in mind that those choices have real world consequences.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  50. Mikey says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    President Obama is not a flesh and blood person with policy preferences and actions, but is rather a feeling?

    He’s both.

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  51. superdestroyer says:

    I think Doug is forgetting that is the Democrats introduce 20 bills to increase entitlements and pass pork to their core blocks and only gets one passed, the Democrats did not have 19 loses, the Democrats only had the win.

    The only way for fiscal conservatives to succeed is they have to win every time. Every time fiscal conservatives split the difference, they lose.

    The real problem with the Republicans is that they refuse to have a consistent philosophy for governance and they refuse to think about the long term. The Democrats do not have to be consistent because what holds the Democratic Party toegether is the trillion of dollars that the federal government spreads around.

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  52. Fred Dancer says:

    Yet another”status quo über alles” thread from the king of status quo….

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  53. Why is this post attracting a disproportionate amount of crazies?

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  54. John Cole says:

    Is John Burke really Florack?

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  55. bobtuse says:

    @cd6: This is not the forum for you.

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  56. swbarnes2 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Doug votes his conscience.

    Doug votes for people who would have opposed the Civil Rights Act, and Doug votes for people who supported medically unnecessary vaginal probes for women seeking abortions. And those are just the horrors I can think off off the top of my head. That’s what his conscience tells him is right, apparently.

    All those posts where Doug claims that advances in gay marriage are a good thing? Doug’s “conscience” disagrees, because he keeps voting for politicians like McDonnell and other Republicans who follow the Republican platform staunchly opposing gay marriage.

    So sure, Doug may vote his conscience. Though one might expect that a guy who posts on a political blog several times a week is voting based on policies, like the charming ones I mentioned above. But he really ought to get out of the dishonest habit of cheering every advance towards fairness and common human decency, because he is after all, voting for the guys who work against that.

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  57. Mikey says:

    @swbarnes2:

    All those posts where Doug claims that advances in gay marriage are a good thing? Doug’s “conscience” disagrees, because he keeps voting for politicians like McDonnell and other Republicans who follow the Republican platform staunchly opposing gay marriage.

    Doug voted for Gary Johnson, who, unlike both Obama and Romney, supports full marriage equality. (Please do not come back with Obama’s weak and weasel-worded nonsense about “leaving it up to the states.” We have full reciprocity for opposite-sex marriages, the only real answer is full reciprocity for same-sex marriages, which he apparently opposes.)

    A vote for McDonnell in Virginia made no difference on this issue, as Creigh Deeds also opposes same-sex marriage.

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  58. Console says:

    @Mikey:

    Weasel worded my ass. Obama is against DOMA and has always been against DOMA, which is what really matters as far as his government position is concerned

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  59. swbarnes2 says:

    @Mikey:

    Doug voted for Gary Johnson, who, unlike both Obama and Romney, supports full marriage equality. (Please do not come back with Obama’s weak and weasel-worded nonsense about “leaving it up to the states.” We have full reciprocity for opposite-sex marriages, the only real answer is full reciprocity for same-sex marriages, which he apparently opposes.)

    Doug also voted for Bob McDonnell, who opposes them, and any other Republican he voted for would almost certainly be in line with the Republican Party platform. And I think you are a bit out of data on Obama’s stance. Obama now supports them. He’s calling for the repeal of DOMA. And was Gary Johnson supporting federal marriage equality as he was running for the Republican primary? Or did he only change his stance once it as clear he was losing there?

    At least Democrats have the option of ceding to pressure to enact laws favorable to gay people, because it’s not an axiom of their platform that gay people don’t deserve equality.

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  60. Mikey says:

    @Console: “At a certain point, I’ve just concluded that for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”

    That doesn’t inspire, that’s just weasel-worded feel-good fluff. He sounds like someone who is trying to please everyone and asserting a position he doesn’t firmly hold.

    But, he said it, so I admit I have to concede the point. But it still doesn’t reach Gary Johnson’s level of commitment.

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  61. Mikey says:

    @swbarnes2:

    And I think you are a bit out of data on Obama’s stance. Obama now supports them. He’s calling for the repeal of DOMA.

    You are correct, I was wrong. See my response to Console.

    I still consider Obama very squishy on this, though. His statement seemed like a lot of talking-around from someone trying to please everyone.

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  62. @RolloMartins:

    Supported (actively, with arms and money) genocide in Central America,

    Quit being hysterical. He did support anti-communist forces and armed them, but it was the Cold War and ultimately we won.

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  63. wr says:

    @Robert Prather: “Quit being hysterical. He did support anti-communist forces and armed them, but it was the Cold War and ultimately we won. ”

    And you know who that really meant a lot to? All those Central American peasants who were murdered, whose daughters and wives were raped and brutalized and then murdered, the Catholic priests who were murdered, by those who fought on the side of “freedom.”

    Don’t get hysterical over a few thousand murders sponsored by the United States of America? Because it was in the name of fighting commies — even if that meant propping up the most brutal and evil dictators on the planet as they savagely murdrered their own citizens?

    Don’t get hysterical because under Reagan we trained the murderers to murder and torture more effectivelsy?

    Don’t get hysterical because all the victims were brown and poor and we won so really who gives a fvck?

    Screw you. Under Ronald Reagan the USA trained, armed and supported men who raped and murdered in the name of “freedom.” And to mention that is, to you, “getting hysterical.”

    What the hell is wrong with you? “Don’t get hysterical”? How dare you.

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  64. @wr: the hysterical thing referred to your accusation of genocide. Sorry I didn’t make that clearer.

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  65. @wr: actually, looking at it again, I was clear. Loki at the part I block quoted. It wasn’t genocide and I stand by my comment.

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  66. @wr: “Loki” = look

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  67. @wr: I stand by my statement that calling what went on in Central America dueing the Cold War as “genocide” is wrong and hysterical. Considering that we have seen what real genocides lokk like (the Holocaust, Rwanda and elsewhere) it strikes me as a rather offensive use of the term.

    However, since I respect you and your opinions, I want you to understand what I really meant.

    As to the stuff that went on in Central America, I don’t approve of it, but it isn’t some sort of unique evil. In addition to that, as a part of the Cold War, we had the Vietnam War, where more than 60,000 American men were killed and who knows how many Vietnamese were killed. There was also the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviets and many other things that were atrocious.

    The reason I don’t get whipped in to a frenzy about those is because I view them as an artifact of their times, much as I view Central America.

    Likewise, I view WW1 in the same way. When I think of that war, which we shouldn’t have been involved in in the first place, I think of trench warfare, mustard gas and wars of attrition. These things were horrific and lead to changes in the laws of war afterwards. I don’t get whipped into a frenzy about these because I view them as an artifact of their times.

    I take a similar view on WW2. At least in this war, we were on the side of the angels. There was an actual genocide perpetrated by the Nazis against the Jews and we played a big role in stopping that. Even so, there was also the Dresden bombing, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I don’t worry about these things because they were an artifact of their times and were probably necessary. And, we won.

    I hope that clarifies things for you.

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  68. Rob in CT says:

    The myth of Reagan is a lot more likeable than the reality of Reagan.

    Though he did good work with Gorby.

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  69. MBunge says:

    “But if you do the math and you need 218 out of 233 [to pass a bill], you don’t need many people to leave the reservation to have a nonfunctioning majority.”

    People are glossing over the most important point. LaTourette has highlighted the problem and it really isn’t that the GOP is crazy or that more Congressman are crazy. It’s that the Republican leadership in the House is committed to completely shutting Democrats out of the legislative process. It is the supposedly reasonable people like LaTourette who empower the crazies by insisting that the House won’t pass anything unless it can pass on Republican votes alone.

    Mike

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  70. Rob in CT says:

    Yeah, you don’t need 218/233. You need 218/435.

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  71. @MBunge:

    It’s that the Republican leadership in the House is committed to completely shutting Democrats out of the legislative process. It is the supposedly reasonable people like LaTourette who empower the crazies by insisting that the House won’t pass anything unless it can pass on Republican votes alone.

    This is, I think, the intent of the Hastert rule, where nothing goes to the floor without a majority of the Republican caucus supporting it. Of course, it’s become rather extreme of late.

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  72. wr says:

    @Robert Prather: I didn’t use the word genocide — that was the other guy. Sorry I got so bent out of shape, but there’s little that dismays me more than our glib forgetting of the huge evils St. Ronnie visited on that part of the world. We glorify his love of “freedom” and ignore his support for truly evil dictators.

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  73. wr says:

    @wr: And although I have a great deal of respect for you and almost everything that you write here, I have a hard time classifying something as “a part of its time” when it happened within my adult lifetime. WWI, absolutely. WW2, okay. But many of the architects of Reagan’s foreign policy are not only still alive, but were active in formulating the policies of the last Republican president. I don’t think the statute of limitations should expire so quickly.

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  74. @wr:

    Sorry I got so bent out of shape, but there’s little that dismays me more than our glib forgetting of the huge evils St. Ronnie visited on that part of the world. We glorify his love of “freedom” and ignore his support for truly evil dictators.

    It’s OK, I felt truly bad that you felt that way. The comment was perfunctory and poorly worded, and for that I apologize.

    I guess the reason I look at the Central America stuff as “a part of its time” is that I grew up in the Cold War and it ended when I was 22. That was one of the happiest days of my life and it feels like it was its own era. Perhaps I am wrong to feel that way, but it’s how I currently feel. We shouldn’t repeat it and we should learn from it, though.

    I’m glad we cleared this up and I look forward to agreeing with you in the future. Remember, I’m a persuadable person, especially by evidence.

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  75. swbarnes2 says:

    @Robert Prather:

    The comment was perfunctory

    Well yes, you were talking about poor brown people, so I guess you think it was wrong to expect you to think about their experience for more than 2 minutes.

    That was one of the happiest days of my life and it feels like it was its own era. Perhaps I am wrong to feel that way, but it’s how I currently feel.

    And you are a white guy, so of course the lives and deaths of poor brown people are meaningless compared to your precious feelings. Conservatives always think that their feelings are more important than facts, or policies, or the lives of people who aren’t straight white prosperous white guys.

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  76. @swbarnes2: That’s an interesting reading of my comment.

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  77. Mikey says:

    @Robert Prather: Interesting readings often happen when someone automatically assumes things about you based on the color of your skin.

    There’s a word for that, isn’t there? For automatically assuming things about someone based on the color of their skin?

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  78. swbarnes2 says:

    @Mikey:

    When someone makes historical judgments about the immorality of killing innocent men, women and children based on how happy they felt at the time, there’s no way to read anything nice about the speaker from that. When someone talks about their feelings as being the primary way to judge an event, as being more important and more relevant then thousands of senseless deaths, there’s no nice way to read that.

    It’s self-centered and monstrous. If a black guy was saying that his feelings about the Newtown shooting were more important than the fates of those 20 people, it would be just as revolting. But black people generally don’t talk like that, because the culture in America tells everyone their feelings are less important than those of straight, prosperous white guys, so it’s only people who share most of those characteristics who routinely act as if their feelings were the most important thing ever.

    For instance, Romney makes a racist joke about birtherism. James Joyner was careful not to judge that act by the effect that overt racism has on non-white people. No, that’s not allowed. He insists that the only valid way to judge that racist remark is by figuring out Romney’s feelings. And if James believes in his heart that Romney in his heart isn’t racist, it’s wrong to complain about the ratcheting up of racist rhetoric. This is just how conservatives are. But its a framing that has to be fought against.

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  79. Mikey says:

    @swbarnes2: You know, that is a very good explanation, which increased my understanding of where you’re coming from on this.

    My inference of prejudice from your comments to Robert was unjustified. I apologize.

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  80. She says:

    Ernie, as an Australian I can tell you that if you voting is against your religious beliefs the AEC just lets it go – there is no fine. As far as the attendance goes I missed my first ever vote since I turned eighteen in the last state election due to illness and my excuse was accepted without penalty. Actually, voting day is great! There are sausage sizzles, plant, crafts and other stalls to raise money for charities such as the Red Cross, CWA (that’s the Country Women’s Association), Surf Lifesavers etcetera. I’ve only ever heard of one person going to gaol – mainly because he demanded his day in court and then proceeded to insult the magistrate.@Ernieyeball:

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