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There Is No “Middle” In Congress Anymore

Capitol Dome

Chris Cillizza has taken a look at votes in the House of Representatives and the Senate going all the way back to 1982, and it confirms what we already knew, namely that there is no such thing as a “middle ground” in the Congress of the United States anymore.

For example, here’s the chart showing votes in the House:

Cillizza House Chart

As he explains in the post, Cillizza utilizes the Annual Vote Ratings compiled by National Journal and the chart is meant to show the distance between the most liberal and conservative members of the House. In 1982,there were a total of 344 members of the House that fell within the boundaries of “ideological overlap,” which constitutes a fair approximation of the “middle” of the ideological balance in the House of Representatives. In 2013, there were only four, representing a loss of 70% over the course of 31 years. Cillizza proposes that he most likely explanation for this drastic drop in the membership of the bipartisan middle lies in redistricting, and this seems like a fairly plausible explanation. One can see one example of that in the differences between 2012 and 2013, because it was in 2013 that the first Congress elected pursuant to the redistricting done after the 2010 census took office.

What’s interesting is the fact that we can see basically the same thing happening in the Senate:

Cillizza Senate Chart

 

In the course of just over 30 years, we’ve seen the Senate go from a body where “the middle” constituted the majority to one where there is no middle at all. Since the Senate is not subject to the effects of redistricting this suggests that the the disappearance of the political middle is due to more than just the impact of redistricting in the House of Representatives.

Cillizza doesn’t offer any theories of his own in the post for what might explain this phenomenon, but it isn’t too difficult to figure them out.

One factor, of course, is the fact that our political culture has changed significantly since 1982. Back then, the Cold War was still a reality and the nation was more or less united when it came to issues of foreign policy. Additionally, for better or worse by the late 1970s the nation had reached something of an ideological consensus on issues regarding the role of government. Back then, the conservative wing of the Republican Party was a decided minority and it was a Republican President who had been known as a staunch conservative when he first came to Washington, Richard Nixon, who gave the nation such “liberal” ideas such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Water Act, and vigorous enforcement of school desegregation polices first started twenty years earlier under another Republican President. Ronald Reagan had been elected in 1980, of course, but it was far from apparent at that point just how much his Presidency would transform the Republican Party and the nation. The largest among those changes, of course, was the rise of the conservative wing of the GOP and the steady decline of the Rockefeller wing of the party. The rightward drift of the GOP alone is no doubt at least partly responsible for the fact that there isn’t nearly as much agreement in Congress as there used to be.

Accompanying the rise of the conservative wing of the GOP, of course, has been the rise of alternative sources of information and opinion that simply didn’t exist three decades ago. Talk radio, cable news networks, and the Internet have all contributed to the ability of people to only consult news and opinion sources that reinforce their own beliefs, and this leads them to support candidates that tend to appeal to ideological extremes rather than the consensus held by a political middle. Finally, the fact that there is seemingly no break in the partisan political battles likely also helps encourage ide0logical extremism.

The interesting thing about all of this, of course, is that while the political middle is dead in Congress, it is alive and well in America as a whole. We see this reflected every four years in Presidential contests, where candidates can only win by appealing to that broad swath of voters in the middle because concentrating on ideological extremes is a recipe for failure, Indeed, although Republicans will be loathe to admit it, it’s rather obvious that Barack Obama won in 2008 and 2012 because he was much more appealing to those middle of the road voters than either of his Republican opponents. Given the size of the nation and the manner in which we elect Presidents, it seems unlikely that we’ll ever see anything like an “end of the middle” in Presidential politics. However, it’s hard to see when we might see a return to the middle in the Legislative Branch, and as long as that’s the case it’s hard to see Washington being able to accomplish much of anything.

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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. Moosebreath says:

    Missing from this explanation is the other side of it — the decimation of the Southern Democrats, especially in the House. By and large, as the Southern Democrats from the 1970’s retired, they were replaced by Republicans, except in majority-minority districts in the House. This removed many of the most conservative Democrats, shrinking the “middle” as defined here just as much as the vanishing of Rockefeller Republicans.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  2. gVOR08 says:

    DW-NOMINATE provides a much better methodology, but reaches the same conclusions.
    Both parties have moved away from the middle. Democrats because of the loss of the southern Democrats, Republicans because the only way they can win is Nixon’s Southern Strategy, which has created a positive feedback loop between voters, pols, and the Conservative Entertainment Complex; getting closer to the wingularity with each new election cycle.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  3. Ron Beasley says:

    The Democratic Party is the party of empathy and the Republicans are the party of sociopaths. The Democratic party is still the party FDR while the Republican party has become the party of Ayn Rand.,

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 22 Thumb down 10

  4. Just Me says:

    Republican does not equal sociopath.
    Democrat does not equal monopoly on empathy.

    This polarized thinking is probably part of the problem.

    Congress sees the opposition party as the enemy and legislation as an ideological war. My guess is the internet (where there are liberal echo chambers just as damaging to our legislative process as the conservative one).

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 9 Thumb down 21

  5. Ron Beasley says:

    @Just Me: I think you are wrong. Paul Ryan’s budgets could all have been written by the ultimate sociopath Ayn Rand..

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 6

  6. Tillman says:

    @Just Me: While you have a point about liberal echo chambers existing, the right has been building multiple echo chambers outside the Internet for decades. Radio and TV echo chambers were established long before MSNBC and Daily Kos.

    And, as Ron implicitly points out, right-leaning legislators are a bit more beholden to their echo chamber-infected constituencies than their left-leaning counterparts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  7. Eric Florack says:

    @Ron Beasley: Oh, pulleeessseee… spare me. Paul Ryans budgets didnt go far enough, and you label yourself a radical leftist, trying to name Ryan, as you did Bush, ‘Adolph’.

    Doug… Actually, what you see in Congress is a distortion of whats going on ‘outside the beltway’ as it were. The mythical center never did exist. Never.

    Its as I said a week or two ago…. The vast majority of americans come down to the right of anything either party has puked up since Reagan. Which in turn is why most americans no longer vote, feeling there is nobody to vote FOR, and why the polling data the last two go rounds was so skewed.

    Those that still do vote come down in the area of the radical left, which explains both congress and Obama. Though I note with satisfaction some disenchantment there.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 40

  8. gVOR08 says:

    @Just Me: Umh, yeah,, they pretty much do.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  9. C. Clavin says:

    This is so simple minded…I can’t believe this post is meant as anything but pure facetiousness.

    The rightward drift of the GOP alone is no doubt at least partly responsible for the fact that there isn’t nearly as much agreement in Congress as there used to be.

    How about solely? Republicans have become so radically ideological that there is no possible way to find middle ground. Once you have identified the opposition as the devil…you inevitably figure out that it’s politically impossible to make a deal with the devil.

    Democrat: Let’s get together and pass a Republican Drafted Reform to Health Care. A Republican Govenor passed it in MA and it’s working.
    Republican: No way…that’s socialism. And besides…Death Panels.

    Republican: Let’s get together and pass Immigration Reform.
    Democrat: OK!!! Let’s do it.
    Republican: No way I’m voting for a bill I drafted and sponsored.

    Republican: Let’s get together and pass an environmental bill called cap and trade…emissions trading.
    Democrat: OK!!! Let’s do it.
    Republican: No way I’m voting for a bill that started as a Republican concept.

    Republican: You’re slashing Medicare!!!
    Democrat: Well, not really…that’s a mis-representation…and anyway, it’s in your budget too.
    Republican: But that’s different.

    Republican: This President is a Socialist.
    Democrat; Government is smaller per capita than it’s been since the 80’s. And even when Obama had the chance he didn’t nationalize the car industry of the banking industry.
    Republican: And a Muslim.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 34 Thumb down 4

  10. C. Clavin says:

    But Florack agrees…so you have that going for you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  11. C. Clavin says:
  12. Moderate Mom says:

    @Ron Beasley: Both extremes are bad, as your post so aptly shows. While I disagree vehemently with much of what the extreme right wing says and does, I also feel the same way about the extreme left. However, I have not and will not ever call anyone on either side a sociopath. It’s not only rude, it derails the ability to reach any kind of common ground. I’m sick of our political wars, because they prevent any good being done for the middle, which vastly outnumbers either the extreme right or the extreme left.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 10

  13. mantis says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Which in turn is why most americans no longer vote, feeling there is nobody to vote FOR, and why the polling data the last two go rounds was so skewed.

    Bithead is still unskewing the polls! Hilarious!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3

  14. matt bernius says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Its as I said a week or two ago…. The vast majority of americans come down to the right of anything either party has puked up since Reagan. Which in turn is why most americans no longer vote, feeling there is nobody to vote FOR, and why the polling data the last two go rounds was so skewed.

    And I bet you will continue to say this without a single lick of proof to back up your statement.

    BTW, as I have said before, if this was the case it also means that the majority of Americans are apparently all terrible citizen as they don’t care enough to get their act together to make government work (i.e. stand up and elect candidates that represent what they believe).

    For all of your complaints about Republicans, the last I checked they still have primaries.

    If your assertion is right then it’s also true the vast majority of Americans, those non-voting conservatives, are the largest herd of whiny “sheeple” (to use a pet phrase of yours) ever.

    Apparently all those conserva-sheeple seem to do is just complain about how they’re victims and passively shuffle into the future. Not quite sure why you want to associate with such a bunch of losers.

    (I’d also love to understand how a total abdication of civic responsibility because you don’t like your options is a “conservative value” either)

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 0

  15. David M says:

    @Just Me:

    Republican does not equal sociopath.

    Not always, but often enough. Case in point: Medicaid Expansion and Obamacare outreach. The standard GOP position on those issues is simply evil.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2

  16. James Pearce says:

    @Just Me:

    Republican does not equal sociopath.
    Democrat does not equal monopoly on empathy.

    You’re right.

    I would make the same point with different language. When they err….

    Republicans err on the side of maximum dickage. Invade Iraq, cut welfare. No, you can’t get married or contraception in your healthplan. I’m religious!

    Democrats err on the side of empathetic naivete. “He’s not a criminal; he’s just misunderstood.” “Racist and sexism are awful; That’s why I don’t watch movies with white male leads.”

    That’s not to say that anyone has a monopoly on one thing. Just to say there’s a strain of mean-spiritedness on the right and a strain of dopey air-headedness on the left.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 17 Thumb down 3

  17. C. Clavin says:

    @Eric Florack:

    why the polling data the last two go rounds was so skewed.

    Actually the polling was spot-on. You just didn’t like the truth…so in typical Bithead fashion…you made $hit up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  18. stonetools says:

    To be honest, I can’t see anyone who would vote for the Ryan budget as anything but sociopathic. And how about the Republican governors who voted against Medicaid expansion, damning their poor and working class constiutents to going without access to health care for no good reason? Here is the story of a woman who died because theb Governor of Florida rejected expanded Medicaid:

    Next time you see someone like Americans for Prosperity’s Jennifer Stefano shouting about the ridiculously generous benefits for Medicaid under Obamacare, you might want to picture Charlene Dill in your head. Charlene Dill was a 32-year-old woman who had three kids, was separated from her husband, and, with a combination of part-time jobs, was barely scraping by. She got booted off Medicaid because her princely $9000 a year was too much income — she couldn’t afford a divorce yet, so the program took her estranged husband’s income into account. And that was a problem, because Charlene Dill had a heart condition that could be managed with medication, which she couldn’t afford without Medicaid. And so on March 21, Charlene Dill died of heart failure while demonstrating a vacuum cleaner at a home in Kissimmee, Florida. She would have been covered by Medicaid if Florida had agreed to expand the program under the Affordable Care Act, but Florida’s legislature has so far blocked it, because Obamacare is bad, and handouts make people lazy.

    Go read the full story by Wonket friend Billy Manes at Orlando Weekly. We need to be angry about this. Dare we say it, we need to be emotional about this. People who fall into the gap between Medicaid and the level of income subsidized by the ACA are dying because they cannot get medical care. These aren’t people who are inconvenienced because they had to switch plans. These are people who are left out of the system altogether through the deliberate choice of governors and legislatures who want to score a point against Barack Obama.

    .
    Read more at http://wonkette.com/546123/yes-red-states-not-expanding-medicaid-is-actually-killing-people-but-you-knew-that#d2xmGj6LxJodcGmZ.99

    Far as I’m concerned, Rick Scott allowed that woman to die when he could have prevented it .by deciding to accept Medicaid expansion. Allowing people to die for political advantage or because of idealogical purity is to me the definition of sociopathy. Don’t like being called a sociopath? Don’t act like one, or support those who act sociopathic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3

  19. al-Ameda says:

    @Moderate Mom:

    While I disagree vehemently with much of what the extreme right wing says and does, I also feel the same way about the extreme left.

    One important difference is that the extreme right is a very relevant political force, while the extreme left is nearly irrelevant (politically.) There is no extreme left equivalent in the Democratic Party to the extreme right with their tea party politicians in the Republican Party.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 2

  20. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Pearce:

    Republicans err on the side of maximum dickage. Invade Iraq, cut welfare. No, you can’t get married or contraception in your healthplan. I’m religious! Democrats err on the side of empathetic naivete. “He’s not a criminal; he’s just misunderstood.” “Racist and sexism are awful; That’s why I don’t watch movies with white male leads.”

    Your examples of Republican positions are actual real-world policies that are actually held and espoused, loudly, by the party leadership, including their candidates for president, and that their representatives and voters vote for.

    Your examples of Democratic positions are not actually held or believed or espoused by the party leadership or representatives, and are not real-world policies that the Democrats try to bring about through legislation.

    So once again, examples of real-world, current day Republican evil are contrasted against made-up fantasies of what a 1970s Democrat was painted as supposedly believing to prove that both sides do it….

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 1

  21. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Pearce:

    Democrats err on the side of empathetic naivete.

    I’d argue that Democrats err on the side of empathetic practical realism, while Republicans err on the side of cruel fantasy. It’s Democrats, remember, who bring down the deficit, balance the budget, grow the economy and reform healthcare and who actually calculate the real-world costs of policies, while it’s Republicans who blow up the budget and crash the economy through naive childish fantasies of Randian power.

    In other words, who’s more of a realist who grapples with pragmatic solutions to actual problems: George W. Bush or Barack Obama?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3

  22. Tillman says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    I’d argue that Democrats err on the side of empathetic practical realism, while Republicans err on the side of cruel fantasy.

    Pardon me if that reads like a lopsided caricature of our politics. “Empathetic practical realism?” You typed that with a straight face?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 6

  23. grumpy realist says:

    I’d wish for a Chinese Sputnik except that the John Birchers on the right would probably say “so what? We don’t need any of that scientifiy mathy stuff, period. Just pray to God and He’ll protect us.”

    We really are the stupidest species out there that has ever discovered fire.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  24. Rafer Janders says:

    @Tillman:

    Absolutely. Obamacare, for example, is a prime example: empathetic, in that it provides health care to all, and practical and realistic, in that it bends the cost curve down and reforms the system so that it’s more efficient than what we had before (and is far more empathetic and practical than anything the GOP has ever proposed).

    The Democrats aren’t perfect by a long shot, but when you compare the two, the Democratic policies are usually both better for everyone and more realistically grounded in a practical cost-benefit analysis.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  25. gVOR08 says:

    @Moderate Mom:

    …I also feel the same way about the extreme left.

    People keep saying this; but I honestly have no idea what you’re talking about. There are bloggers, commenters, demonstrators, radio talkers, and academics who may be extreme left. What sitting or recent representative, senator, or president do you feel represents an extreme left? Who’s the both-sides-do-it equivalent of a Louis Gohmert, Jim DeMint, Michele Bachmann, or Paul Ryan? And what have they done to make you feel they’re extreme left?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 1

  26. Matt Bernius says:

    @Moderate Mom:

    While I disagree vehemently with much of what the extreme right wing says and does, I also feel the same way about the extreme left.

    The problem with these sorts of formulations is that terms like “extreme” are meaningless without also defining personal scale.

    Is the Extreme Left Kucinich or Obama?
    Is the Extreme Right Ryan or the average Right Wing Talk radio host?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  27. C. Clavin says:

    Maybe this is why the center looks so far, far, far away to Republicans…Fat Rush on the Colbert hire:

    “…CBS has just declared war on the Heartland of America…No longer is comedy going to be a covert assault on traditional American values. Now it’s just wide out in the open…What this hire means is a redefinition of what is “funny” and a redefinition of what is comedy…It’s the media planting a flag here. I think it’s maybe the media’s last stand, but it’s a declaration. There’s no unity in this hire. They’ve hired a partisan, so-called comedian to run a comedy show…”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  28. anjin-san says:

    @ Eric Florack

    Seriously, put the crack pipe down and walk away…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3

  29. anjin-san says:

    I have not and will not ever call anyone on either side a sociopath.

    Well, listen to Paul Ryan talk about taking food out of the mouths of poor children. They go to his Facebook page and look at all the pictures of him taking his kids on ski trips and other fun stuff.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  30. Eric Florack says:

    @mantis: and? You have a better explanation that doesn’t come from Democrat party HQ?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

  31. Eric Florack says:

    @anjin-san: When you can stop being generous with other peoples money and instead first give up all YOU own in the name of “fairness” maybe you’ll have a leg to stand on. Maybe.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 12

  32. gVOR08 says:

    @anjin-san: I can’t get past Ryan passing out Atlas Shrugged to his staff, apparently regarding himself as John Galt personified; while living his entire adult life on the government teat. There’s just something not right about that boy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  33. anjin-san says:

    @ Eric Florack

    When you can stop being generous with other peoples money

    I put my money on the line every year. I just paid my taxes, which are higher than those paid by roughly 90% of the people in the country.

    When am I going to stop having to carry your water?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  34. C. Clavin says:

    @Eric Florack:

    When you can stop being generous with other peoples money

    Well…we are currently less generous than Reagan…so what exactly do you want? How low do taxes have to be before we see the wonderful benefits you predict?
    Seriously…give us a number.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  35. Tyrell says:

    @Moosebreath: The southern Democrats are alive and thriving at the local levels. In our area no Republican has been elected since the “Reconstruction” disaster.
    At the national level there certainly is no middle, centrist, moderate, pragmatic leadership. I remember great statesmen of the past: Humphrey, Johnson, Dirksen, Connaly, Hatfield, O’Neill, Russell, Fulbright, Nunn, and Long. These worked together and got things done. Those were days of statesmanship. Now it is adversarial and self serving.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  36. mantis says:

    @Eric Florack:

    You have a better explanation that doesn’t come from Democrat party HQ?

    Most people, when the polls match the outcome, are not surprised. Delusional wingnuts such as yourself see conspiracy. I do not have an explanation for why the polls were skewed, because they weren’t.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  37. danimal says:

    I am tired of the assumption that polarization is here to stay. Today’s polarization is a conscious choice of the GOP leadership to oppose Obama and deny him political success almost from the eve of his inauguration. I hate it, but I’m not sure it wasn’t the right play from a Machiavellian perspective. In 2017, a different president will be elected, and the political leaders of the GOP and the Dems will react/counteract according to the political terrain of 2017 and where they want to position the parties for the future. We may have the two parties smoking the peace pipe and agreeing on major initiatives or we may see elevated tensions leading to debt ceiling disasters and months-long government shutdowns. Anybody who tells you they know is lying. The trend continues until it doesn’t.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  38. anjin-san says:

    @ Florack

    instead first give up all YOU own in the name of “fairness”

    Please show where I have called for “fairness”

    I will stand by.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  39. C. Clavin says:

    @Tyrell:

    At the national level there certainly is no middle, centrist, moderate, pragmatic leadership.

    So a Democratic President getting Republican Health Care Reform passed is not centrist or moderate? WTF?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  40. Moosebreath says:

    @Tyrell:

    “The southern Democrats are alive and thriving at the local levels.”

    Since this was a post on the membership of Congress, that may not be the most relevant observation.

    “At the national level there certainly is no middle, centrist, moderate, pragmatic leadership.”

    It may be a chicken-and-egg problem. Is the lack of an ideological middle due to a change in leadership, or is the change in leadership due to a lack of members in the ideological middle? I would suggest that the lack of members in the middle came first, as more moderate leaders like Jim Wright, Dick Gephardt, George Mitchell, Bob Michel, Alan Simpson and Bob Dole are in power well after this effect starts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  41. Pinky says:

    The trend in the House is due to redistricting, and there’s an identical trend in the Senate with a different and unclear explanation? Huh? That doesn’t pass the smell test. You can’t post two identical graphs and say that the one thing that applies to Group A and not Group B is the cause of the pattern in Group A. At least you can’t say it without making a really strong case about what caused the same pattern in Group B.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  42. wr says:

    @Eric Florack: ” The vast majority of americans come down to the right of anything either party has puked up since Reagan. Which in turn is why most americans no longer vote, feeling there is nobody to vote FOR, and why the polling data the last two go rounds was so skewed.”

    What a perfectly reality-proof bit of reasoning: America wants hard-right politicians, and I can prove this by pointing out that people don’t vote, which means they’re pining for Brownshirts.

    It’s completely without grounding or logic, of course, but it can never be refuted. Well done, Erick. You have managed to get your entire head into that small orifice.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  43. wr says:

    @Moderate Mom: “I also feel the same way about the extreme left”

    So just who, in your mind, is both on the “extreme left” and in a position of power in the country? Harry Reid? Obama? Joe Manchin?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  44. James Pearce says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Your examples of Democratic positions are not actually held or believed or espoused by the party leadership or representatives, and are not real-world policies that the Democrats try to bring about through legislation.

    Be a little fair, man. I’m a liberal. Of course, I think the Republicans are loonier than the Democrats.

    But lefties can be just as loony, and often are.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  45. EddieInCA says:

    For the sake of argument and to help those (Moderate Mom, I’m looking at you) who say “Both sides do it”, let’s play a little game. All are invited.

    It’s a simple game. I’ll toss out a name of a prominent hard right figure, and you tell me who the equal person on the left is. You can use each lefty only once.

    Rush Limbaugh =
    Sean Hannity =
    Glenn Beck =
    Michelle Bachman =
    Michelle Malkin =
    Ann Coulter =
    Rick Santorum =
    Jim DeMint =
    William Kristol =
    Rich Lowry =
    Louie Ghomert =
    Darryl Issa =
    Bill O’Reilly =
    Ted Cruz =
    Wayne LaPierre =
    Matt Drudge =
    Roger Ailes =
    Rupert Murdoch =
    Sarah Palin =
    Erick Erickson =
    Grover Norquist =
    Mark Levin =

    Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  46. Pinky says:

    @EddieInCA: I was going to do a whole response to this, and I’ll try to if I get the time, but I was trying to remember Rachel Maddow’s name and I couldn’t think of it. So I typed “MSNBC” into Google and clicked on it. Do it right now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  47. superdestroyer says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    There is nothing empathetic in spending borrowed money to backstop the bad decisions of too many people. Demanding that the taxies on others be increased (tax the rich) and spendng borrowed money (See Paul Krugman) with the promise that you will chnage your habits in the future is just as sociopathic as anything the Republicans have proposed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  48. anjin-san says:

    @ Pinky

    MSNBC

    Do you know any Democrats that take MSNBC seriously? I don’t.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  49. anjin-san says:

    The bad decisions of too many people

    Ah, you mean like a child making the bad decision to be born to poor parents?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  50. James Pearce says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

    The comparison is not so clean. Things are different now, but there was a reason that lefties stopped creating superstars.

    They kept getting assassinated….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  51. DrDaveT says:

    @Eric Florack:

    The mythical center never did exist. Never.

    Your inane opinions are your own, but outright lies can be countered with facts.

    Long before Cillizza looked at this, xkcd did the ultimate detailed version. I have the full-size poster on my wall at work.

    Study this and learn something.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  52. DrDaveT says:

    @superdestroyer:

    There is nothing empathetic in spending borrowed money to backstop the bad decisions of too many people.

    I assume you’re talking about OCO defense spending here…?

    This is the thing that weirds me about Republicans — their need to believe that the poor deserve to be poor. That somehow their poor choice of parents, upbringing, native country, mother tongue, skin color, and/or mental health merits the punishment they have received.

    Just out of curiosity, what fraction of welfare recipients do you believe squandered a perfectly good start through “bad decisions”, and what fraction have pretty much just played the hand they were dealt?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  53. anjin-san says:

    @ superdestroyer

    I was pretty much born on second base, my dad a successful, well connected attorney, both parents highly intelligent and educated. Grew up in a high wealth area, comfortable around money and success, and well aware of the comforts they can bring you. This one fact has made my life easier in so many ways.

    Was that a good decision on my part? Am I wrong to want to see people who did not get such a good start in life handed to them on a platter have a shot at the American dream, or failing that, a better standard of living than abject third world misery?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  54. C. Clavin says:

    @superdestroyer:
    So we should stop subsidizing Walmart…who doesn’t pay people enough to live on without food-stamps? Or MacDonalds?
    And when are you going to give up your housing and health care subsidies?
    Yeah…that’s what I thought.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  55. Tyrell says:

    Go back and look at the administrations of Eisenhower and Truman. Look at leaders like Humphrey, Russell Long, William Fulbright, Sam Rayburn, Mark Hatfield, Daniel Moynihan, and the incomparable Everett Dirksen. Who today can compare ? These were models of leadership and getting things done. Future candidates need to read their biographies and books.
    I would like to hear some of your favorite leaders.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  56. Tillman says:

    @Tyrell: They didn’t have to deal with a 24/7 news cycle or crazy activists.

    They look great now, certainly, but they didn’t have a metaphorical gigantic eye constantly watching them like we have now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  57. James Pearce says:

    @Tillman:

    They didn’t have to deal with a 24/7 news cycle or crazy activists.

    So true. You can’t really be a leader when you’re too busy being led by the news cycle and the almighty campaign dollar.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  58. anjin-san says:

    So we should stop subsidizing Walmart…who doesn’t pay people enough to live on without food-stamps?

    Yea, when did we turn our back on the notion that honest, hard-working people who play by the rules should have a shot at a decent life, not indentured servitude to the company store?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  59. Eric Florack says:

    @matt bernius: make government work?
    Hell on that basis, our founder were terrible citizens who knew government didnt work without strict limits.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  60. anjin-san says:

    @ Tyrell

    It’s not a stretch to put Clinton in that league. How quickly Republicans have forgotten what a strong hand he passed off to his successor, and how it was squandered.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  61. Eric Florack says:

    @anjin-san: If walmart wages are so bad, why are there people standing in long lines to GET said jobs?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  62. Pinky says:

    @EddieInCA:
    Here’s a first pass.

    Rush Limbaugh = Jon Stewart
    Sean Hannity = NPR
    Glenn Beck = Chris Matthews
    Michelle Bachman = Sheila Jackson Lee
    Michelle Malkin = Cenk Uygur
    Ann Coulter = Rachel Maddow
    Rick Santorum = Howard Dean
    Jim DeMint = Jimmy Carter
    William Kristol = Paul Krugman
    Rich Lowry = James Carville
    Louie Ghomert = Alan Grayson
    Darryl Issa = Debbie Wasserman-Schultz
    Bill O’Reilly = Michael Moore
    Ted Cruz = Harry Reid
    Wayne LaPierre = Bill Moyers
    Matt Drudge = David Brock
    Roger Ailes = Sumner Redstone
    Rupert Murdoch = Bill Clinton
    Sarah Palin = Al Gore
    Erick Erickson = Slate
    Grover Norquist = Ben Jealous
    Mark Levin = Jonathan Chait

    All comparisons approximate (except for the first one, which is spot-on perfect). Any improvements welcome.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 5

  63. anjin-san says:

    @ Florack

    If walmart wages are so bad, why are there people standing in long lines to GET said jobs?

    Because 35 years of an America dominated by conservative politics have left honest, hard working people in a position where they have to fight for the crumbs, with no real shot at getting ahead no matter how hard they work, while the real wealth of the country continues to flow to the top at a rate not seen since before the depression. Because most people would rather work at any job than not work.

    Still waiting for you to show where I have mentioned “fairness”, but I am not holding my breath.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  64. anjin-san says:

    @ Pinky

    Rush Limbaugh = Jon Stewart

    Democrats like Stewart, we think he is smart, funny and clever. He is helping Democrats to win in the younger voter demographic. Beyond that, to compare him to Limbaugh, a man so powerful that leading Republicans in DC, very powerful men themselves, routinely go crawling to him for forgiveness when he is pissed at them, is borderline delusional.

    Sean Hannity = NPR

    So one guy equal an entire organization? You have an interesting notion of what “=” means.

    William Kristol = Paul Krugman

    Please show us when Kristol has been right about anything. Krugman, on the other hand, has been right about a great number of things.

    Have you suffered a blow to the head recently?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  65. anjin-san says:

    Sarah Palin = Al Gore

    Al Gore. Helped get the internet to where it is today (he is in the Internet Hall of Fame, ask Vin Cerf). Two term VP of the US. Made hundreds of millions in business.

    Sarah Palin. None to successful reality TV star. C list celebrity. Could not handle an interview with softball artist Katie Couric.

    As I said above, I don’t think “=” means what you think it means.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  66. James Pearce says:

    @Pinky: Maddow’s a Hannity, not quite an O’Reilly, but she’s definitely not a Coulter. Michael Moore is a Michelle Malkin. No one on the right’s list meets the stature of Bill Clinton. The man is worshiped as a living god.

    This is a good one: Ted Cruz = Harry Reid (in the sense that they’re both assholes. Reid’s been around much much longer, though, and his influence can be measured in decades. Cruz…who knows? He might be back.)

    And so is this: Darryl Issa = Debbie Wasserman-Schultz

    I appreciate that you put a lot of thought into that, so there’s my two cents.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  67. KansasMom says:

    Pinky, I know who everyone in both your columns is because I’m a political junkie. But I can guarantee you no more than one person out of 100 knows who Cenk Uyger is. Al Gore=Sarah Palin? A successful multi-term senator and two-term VP who lost the presidency by one vote versus one of the dumbest people we’ve ever had the misfortune to have heard of? And you should really go read the Chait piece on the racial tensions of the Obama presidency. Chait is the opposite of shrill (I wish he would go all Krugman at times). Mark Levin is a howler monkey. Plus the fact that you have to draw on the entire staff at Slate to equal one raver in Erickson, apparently it takes 30 or so “lamestream” media types to equal one Erick “Son of Erick” Erickson, sort of gives the game away.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  68. Kari Q says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Well…we are currently less generous than Reagan…so what exactly do you want? How low do taxes have to be before we see the wonderful benefits you predict?
    Seriously…give us a number.

    I believe I can answer this question on behalf of conservatives everywhere. They always says that cutting taxes increases revenue, therefore if we lower taxes to zero, revenue should be infinite.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  69. C. Clavin says:

    @Pinky:
    You realize Jon Stewart is a comedian, right?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  70. C. Clavin says:

    @Eric Florack:
    Because Republicans crashed the economy.
    Where were you in ’08? Asleep?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  71. Matt Bernius says:

    @Eric Florack:

    @matt bernius: make government work?
    Hell on that basis, our founder were terrible citizens who knew government didnt work without strict limits.

    Seriously, what does this mean?

    That the realz conservatiz majority that you’re sure exists is planning to overthrow the government? Are you advocating for armed revolution?

    Because otherwise I don’t get the point you’re making. You’re the one that said that the realz conservatiz majority has given up on voting and participating in government. Basically have become sheeple.

    On the other hand, the founding fathers, you know, actually participated in government. They fought. They struggled. But, you know, they actually did things like *vote* and *stand candidates.* The didn’t pick up their toys and go home when the going got rough.

    They didn’t cry victim like… well… you seem to do on a regular basis.

    Again, explain to me how not voting is in any way a “conservative value.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  72. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Pearce:

    But lefties can be just as loony, and often are.

    I often agree with you. But before I can agree with this, I’d like an example of a far left loony policy proposed by a prominent Democratic legislator or by a Democratic White House and supported by the party leadership. I maintain that you can’t actually find me an example in the last, say, 25 years.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  73. Rafer Janders says:

    @Pinky:

    AHAHAHA! HAHAHAHAHA! *wipes away tears of laughter*……

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  74. al-Ameda says:

    @Pinky:

    Rush Limbaugh = Jon Stewart

    (except for the first one, which is spot-on perfect).

    Wow ….
    In what manner does Jon Stewart resemble Rush Limbaugh – in style, in vitriol, in civility – anything? Even in income. How does Jon equate to Rush?

    I don’t see any similarity there at all.
    Now, if you’d said Ed Schultz, I’d let you have that one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  75. Tillman says:

    @Pinky:

    Sean Hannity = NPR

    Oh come on, Pinky. Really?

    Glenn Beck = Chris Matthews
    Michelle Malkin = Cenk Uygur
    Darryl Issa = Debbie Wasserman-Schultz
    Ted Cruz = Harry Reid
    Louie Gohmert = Alan Grayson

    These are actually apt comparisons.

    Ann Coulter = Rachel Maddow

    Oh hell no. Ann Coulter’s proper opposite would probably be Arianna Huffington. Rachel Maddow’s opposite would be, uhh, S.E. Cupp I’d guess. I’d say Megyn Kelly, but she’s not known for anything besides hosting Fox shows.

    Roger Ailes = Sumner Redstone
    Rupert Murdoch = Bill Clinton

    Okay, how does the President of Fox News equal the dude who owns the entirety of Viacom? In fact, how the hell did you not match Rupert Murdoch and Sumner Redstone together? ’cause Murdoch and Clinton are not at all comparable.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  76. Tillman says:

    @C. Clavin: Rush Limbaugh started off more of a comedian than he is now. Stewart can get preachy maybe once a week. If the comparison was just “influential partisan media figure,” I can see it. Then again, Limbaugh’s radio show exercises more heft among politicians than Stewart’s television show.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  77. C. Clavin says:

    @Tillman:
    Still…I’ve never seen anyone apologize to Stewsrt the way Republicans who stray from the party line do to Limbaugh. Comparing the two is a stretch.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  78. anjin-san says:

    Ann Coulter’s proper opposite would probably be Arianna Huffington.

    I can’t remember Huffington engaging in serial hate speech.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  79. anjin-san says:

    Maddow’s a Hannity

    Hmm. Has Maddow dones a weeklong expose on spring break yet?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  80. anjin-san says:

    Rick Santorum = Howard Dean

    When Howard Dean took the helm at the DNC, the GOP held the White House, and both houses of Congress. When he left the DNC, Democrats held the White House, and both houses of Congress.

    Remind me again what Santorum has ever done, aside from living in a different state than the one he was representing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  81. Tillman says:

    @C. Clavin: @anjin-san: It was obvious from the start that none of these were going to be straight comparisons. We’re looking at “plays similar roles in the right and left,” if anything. Coulter and Huffington are closer than Coulter and Maddow by a long shot.

    At least, Coulter is idiosyncratic enough that I’m having a hard time thinking of a better example. Maybe Michael Moore? I tried to keep the genders the same.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  82. EddieInCA says:

    @Pinky:

    I appreciate the effort. But I’m going to have to fisk quite a few of these…

    @EddieInCA:
    Here’s a first pass.

    Rush Limbaugh = Jon Stewart

    Rush is a 25 year veteran as the biggest presence in talk radio. In his heyday, he was drawing 25 million listeners a week. He has the biggest megaphone the GOP owns. He signed several deals which have paid him several hundred million dollars. Stewart, on the other hand, was a so-so comedian, failed actor, and MTV Talk show host who took over a successful show and made it slightly more successful. One, Limbaugh, has the power to have major political figures grovel at his feet when they happen to speak the truth accidentally. The other, Stewart, has the power to humanize major political figures when they appear on his comedy show for “interviews” while hawking their latest books. There is no equivalency here.

    Sean Hannity = NPR

    Yeah… No. There is no way that anything on NPR (National Public Radio, key word being NATIONAL) is as far to the left as most of Hannity’s daily radio show. If you’re using the term NPR as a shortcut to many of the radical campus PUBLIC radio stations, you might have a point. However, they’re not NPR. They’re just public radio stations. Regardless, it’s pretty hard to compare one person to an entire national organization and think you’ve made an apt comparison.

    Glenn Beck = Chris Matthews

    Hmmm… One has a top rated conservative, 3 hours per day, radio show, a top Conservative Website, his own television network. The other has one hour per day on MSNBC in the early evening.

    Michelle Bachman = Sheila Jackson Lee

    Sheila Jackson Lee was never a “front runner” for the GOP Presidential nomination. But that’s just

    a minor quibble.

    Michelle Malkin = Cenk Uygur

    Really? You’re comparing the owner of Hot Air, regular Fox Contributor, creator of Twitchy, to Cenk. Really. Try again.

    Ann Coulter = Rachel Maddow

    I don’t think that you know either of these women too well. One throws bombs. The other actually does her homework.

    Rick Santorum = Howard Dean

    Close enough. I’ll give you this one.

    Jim DeMint = Jimmy Carter

    Yeah… because being the partisian Presdient of the partisian Heritage Foundation is the same as being a former President of the USA that has spent most of his post presidential career building homes for those less needy. Other than that, these two could be twins. Not.

    William Kristol = Paul Krugman

    When in his entire career has Krugman ever had the power over any Dem candidate. Did you forget that William Kristol was a Vice President (Quayle) Chief of Staff? Again. Fail.

    Rich Lowry = James Carville

    Wrong. James Carville = Karl Rove. Rich Lowry = (maybe) Katrina VandenHuevel

    Louie Ghomert = Alan Grayson

    Spot on. You could have also used Maxine Waters.

    Darryl Issa = Debbie Wasserman-Schultz

    Wow. Not even close. When did Debbie Wasserman Schultz hold hearings that were noting but political gamemanship. Try again.

    Bill O’Reilly = Michael Moore

    When was the last time Michael Moore was relevant? The only ones paying attention to Michael Moore are Conservatives. When’s the last time anyone on the left used Michael Moore as a positive example of anything. When was the last time Michael Moore did anything newworthy – other than trashing Democrats?

    Ted Cruz = Harry Reid

    Close enough. Both are assholes.

    Wayne LaPierre = Bill Moyers

    Holy crap! Really? The leader of the NRA, whom every GOP Politician has to pay homage to vs.. Bill Freaking Moyers – who does nice documentaries on how terrible everything in the world is Really?

    Matt Drudge = David Brock

    Fail. Brent Bozell = David Brock. David Brock doesn’t have the influence that Drudge does. Never has. Never will. There is no one on the left equal to Drudge.

    Roger Ailes = Sumner Redstone

    Summer Redstone is a businessman. That’s all he’s ever been. Ailes has been, and always will be a Polictical operative. Summer Redstone supported George W. Bush in 2004. Publicly.

    Rupert Murdoch = Bill Clinton

    No words to say how bad this comparison is.

    Sarah Palin = Al Gore

    Yeah, others have noted the stupidity of this comparison, so I won’t pile on.

    Erick Erickson = Slate

    Who at Slate is equal to Erickson? Who at Slate has said the outrageous things that Erickson has said. One person. Who?

    Grover Norquist = Ben Jealous

    If Ben Jealous had a pledge, any pledge, that Dem candidates had to sign for his support, you might have a point. He doesn’t, so you don’t.

    Mark Levin = Jonathan Chait

    Wow. You obviously think much more of Levin than most people. I’m offended for Chiat, who writes very long, detailed, meticulously researched pieces.

    All comparisons approximate (except for the first one, which is spot-on perfect). Any improvements welcome.
    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  83. gVOR08 says:

    @Pinky: A for effort. And we’ll all have great fun with this. But I think you’d be hard pressed to justify any of these pairings in detail. Limbaugh and Stewart? Audiences are hardly comparable. Limbaugh has no sense of humor. Are there Stewart dittoheads? NPR, generally well regarded as a source of news = Hannity? Beck and Chris Mathews? Really? I’m a hard core liberal and I yield to no one in contempt for Tweety. But he’s just an opportunist. He’s not foaming at the mouth crazy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  84. Moderate Mom says:

    @gVOR08: Then you must not watch Matthews too often. I get so grossed out when the spit comes flying out of his mouth. Which if does alarmingly often. So yeah, he does in fact froth at the mouth. :-)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  85. Eric Florack says:

    Krauthammer the other day says it well…

    Two months ago, a petition bearing more than 110,000 signatures was delivered to The Post, demanding a ban on any article questioning global warming. The petition arrived the day before publication of my column, which consisted of precisely that heresy.

    The column ran as usual. But I was gratified by the show of intolerance because it perfectly illustrated my argument that the left is entering a new phase of ideological agitation — no longer trying to win the debate but stopping debate altogether, banishing from public discourse any and all opposition.

    The proper word for that attitude is totalitarian. It declares certain controversies over and visits serious consequences — from social ostracism to vocational defenestration — upon those who refuse to be silenced.

    Such is the attitude we find in here from the usual suspects. You can see it in the down vote patterns and in the accusations and derision of the loudest of them. And all the while they complain about the GOP drifting right. (Snort)
    Were that it were true.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  86. Does anyone else miss Jenos? I swear, I don’t know if it’s a case of the glass always being greener or what, but he was a lot more tolerable than Eric.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  87. gVOR08 says:

    @Moderate Mom: I find Tweety personally offensive myself, but do you and @Pinky: really think he’s the left wing equivalent of Glenn Beck? That Jon Stewart is equivalent to Rush Limbaugh, NPR to Hannity, Jimmy Carter to DeMint? I might give Pinky O’Reilly and Moore, but Bill Moyers/Wayne Lapierre, Bill Clinton/Murdoch, Gore/Palin, Chait/Levin? Really?

    But thank you. I asked who you think is “far left”. I was looking for “sitting or recent representative, senator, or president”, but Pinky’s list is still interesting. Does give an insight into your thinking and where you think the center is.

    I suspect most of the regulars on these threads have been watching politics for more than a couple of cycles. We have a historical view of a political center. We don’t think it’s midway between Glenn Beck and Bill Moyers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  88. C. Clavin says:

    @Eric Florack:
    Yes…yes…yes…you and Krauthammer have the right to be stupid…no one is denying you that.
    But this is America…and we too have the right to say that you are dumb f’ers.
    And people have the right to petition the Post to stop publishing dumb shit.
    Seriously Eric…fat dumb and stupid is no way to go through life…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  89. Matt Bernius says:

    @Pinky:
    Thanks (and an upvote) for taking the time to fill out that chart. I know you put some thought into it.

    Which is why I have to ask:

    Sean Hannity = NPR

    Seriously?

    I mean, the rest is open to debate and disagreement. But this is so far off the charts incorrect that it honestly makes me sad that you think there is any equivalency here. Can you explain your thought process on this one — because there is absolutely no “approximate” connection between the two of these things other than both are on the radio.

    BTW, Stephanie Miller or Randi Rhodes would have been fair comparisons. Or if you were really gunning for NPR you could have chosen Tavis Smiley and/or Cornell West.

    All that said, the fact that you see any equivalency between Hannity and NPR goes a long way to helping explain why we’re probably never going to agree on anything.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  90. Matt Bernius says:

    @Eric Florack:
    And yet, that bastion of Liberalism, the Washington Post, opted to run the editorial. And continues to employ Krauthammer.

    How does that fit into your simple ideological framework that all Liberals want to suppress dissent and discussion?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  91. rudderpedals says:

    @Timothy Watson:

    Does anyone else miss Jenos?

    Yes, I do too. I hope he’s doing OK.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  92. Matt Bernius says:

    @rudderpedals:
    Seconded.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  93. Tillman says:

    @Tillman: See john, this is when the vote system is useful. Dead heat as of now. (5 vs. 5) This means my comment is contentious. And I would speculate a good deal of both support and opposition is tribal in nature.

    Context, dude. Context!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  94. al-Ameda says:

    @Eric Florack:
    Krauthammer:

    Two months ago, a petition bearing more than 110,000 signatures was delivered to The Post, demanding a ban on any article questioning global warming. The petition arrived the day before publication of my column, which consisted of precisely that heresy.

    So what? People have the right to petition for any purpose whatsoever. It does not mean that the Post or any other organization needs do as the petitioners want.

    The Post has carried Krauthammer’s op-ed pieces for years. Can you imagine an important conservative media outlet routinely running op-ed pieces by a well-known liberal?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  95. C. Clavin says:

    @al-Ameda:
    Freedom of speech means freedom for them to speak…not others.
    It’s very similar to their view on religious freedom…which means the freedom to impose their religion on others.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  96. Eric Florack says:

    @Matt Bernius: If you vote for incompetence, you’ve no room to complain. IF YOU VOTED, YOU SIGNED OFF ON THEM HAVING THE POWER OF GOVERNMENT… THE SINGLE MOST DESTRUCTIVE POWER ON EARTH. . And that is exactly what both parties have given us of late.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 8

  97. Eric Florack says:

    @al-Ameda: @al-Ameda: You apparently missed the point, possibly by intent.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  98. wr says:

    @Eric Florack: Yes, whereas if Eric Florack doesn’t vote, then the government has no authority and no power.

    Good thinking, genius.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  99. Eric Florack says:

    @C. Clavin: The right to be stupid? Well, let’s say you tend to exersize that right fairly frequently. Yet I don’t recall anyone trying to stop you.

    That said, however, there’s a difference between speaking, and trying to prevent someone from speaking, using the power of government, as we have seen from both the Gaystopo, and the global warmers, as two examples.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  100. anjin-san says:

    @ Florack

    THE POWER OF GOVERNMENT… THE SINGLE MOST DESTRUCTIVE POWER ON EARTH.

    What do you think your life expectancy would be if there were anarchy in this country? You do understand, I hope, that the government is pretty much what stands between where we are now (an advanced, stable society) and anarchy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  101. al-Ameda says:

    @Eric Florack:

    You apparently missed the point, possibly by intent.

    Or, possibly not.I’ve been reading his op-eds for many years and I understand Krauthammer. He bemoans what he sees as PC/intolerance on the left and, as usual, sees none on the right.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  102. anjin-san says:

    Gaystopo

    As bithead slips across the line from somewhat delusional ranter to hateful little turd. The guy who claims not to ever listen to Limbaugh parrots Limbaugh.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  103. Tillman says:

    @Eric Florack:

    THE SINGLE MOST DESTRUCTIVE POWER ON EARTH

    Nah, government’s got nothing on volcanic eruptions. Remember Eyjafjallajökull? (Yes, I had to Google it.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  104. Matt Bernius says:

    @Eric Florack:

    @Matt Bernius: If you vote for incompetence, you’ve no room to complain. IF YOU VOTED, YOU SIGNED OFF ON THEM HAVING THE POWER OF GOVERNMENT… THE SINGLE MOST DESTRUCTIVE POWER ON EARTH. . And that is exactly what both parties have given us of late

    So you agree with my point that “the real silent conservative majority” that you drone on about are a bunch of apathetic sheeple who have abdicated all civic responsibility.

    To review:
    They don’t stand up and elect their own candidates who represent them (despite being the majority).
    They don’t vote or participate in politics.
    Even though they believe that this “country”, that they preport to love, is headed to hell in a handbasket, they simply pick up their toys and run away and cry victim and bitch about the Government that they are actively choosing not to participate in.

    Despite all this power they apparently command, they can’t do anything useful to get this country back on the right track.

    What a pathetic bunch of sheeple.

    Seriously, following your logic the majority of Americans are, frankly, the worst citizens ever.

    Again, how are they like the founding father’s they apparently worship? Cause, last I checked, those dudes (and fine revolutionary ladies) got shizit done.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  105. anjin-san says:

    prevent someone from speaking, using the power of government

    Who has been silenced by this liberal/government cabal? Be specific.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  106. DrDaveT says:

    @Tillman:

    Remember Eyjafjallajökull?

    With bliss. I think of it as “Nature’s revenge on newsreaders.”

    (As a destructive force, though, it pales compared to the last 2 big tsunamis.)

    Again, we see that American government works so well that it is invisible to the masses. Forget mandatory national service; what we really need is a mandatory year abroad in a third world country, so that Americans can learn to see government even when it isn’t annoying them.

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  107. Matt Bernius says:

    @Eric Florack:

    That said, however, there’s a difference between speaking, and trying to prevent someone from speaking, using the power of government, as we have seen from both the Gaystopo, and the global warmers, as two examples.

    Man, if only there was a system of government that would allow real majorities to regularly place people into positions of power to help stop the power of government.

    Ok… just spit-balling an idea here:
    We could vote for representatives.
    You know, find people in the community to stand for election.
    We could even do it on a regular basis — say once a year.
    That way, the real majorities could nominate people that they think would best represent their views.
    And the whole community could vote and elect the best person.

    Maybe we could call this “votocracy.”

    Heck, I bet we could found an entire country on this sort of principle.

    Of course it would require the “real majorities” to actually care about the direction of the country enough to participate in the system of government that they continually talk about countless generations giving their lives for.

    Nah, never work. It’s just easier for them to cry victim and bitch about no one taking “personal responsibility” any more.

    If you vote for incompetence, you’ve no room to complain. IF YOU VOTED, YOU SIGNED OFF ON THEM HAVING THE POWER OF GOVERNMENT… THE SINGLE MOST DESTRUCTIVE POWER ON EARTH. . And that is exactly what both parties have given us of late

    And explain to me how apparently giving up is doing anything to change the system. Or respecting all the work the Founding Fathers did to establish a nation based on a new form of participatory democracy?

    Or how by not voting (or managing to get candidates that represent the majority elected in primaries, etc), you somehow get to excuse yourself from helping create the mess that you keep bitching about?

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  108. James Pearce says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    I’d like an example of a far left loony policy proposed by a prominent Democratic legislator or by a Democratic White House and supported by the party leadership.

    Here’s my big one: “Hillary Clinton for President.”

    Occupy Wall Street was pretty dumb too, but the Democrats were wise to stay away from that one.

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  109. Grewgills says:

    @Eric Florack:
    Poor baby. I can send you a binky, my 5 month old just outgrew hers.

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  110. anjin-san says:

    @ DrDaveT

    what we really need is a mandatory year abroad in a third world country

    It seems that every “conservative” has read Starship Troopers (or at least seen the movie), but none of them has read “Coventry”

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  111. Tillman says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Forget mandatory national service; what we really need is a mandatory year abroad in a third world country, so that Americans can learn to see government even when it isn’t annoying them.

    I wouldn’t mind if we made mandatory two year services after high school in either Peace Corp or AmeriCorps. Or, short of mandatory and more politically feasible, focused on graduating seniors in high school and subsidize college costs as payment.

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  112. Tillman says:

    @Tillman: focused on recruiting*

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  113. Eric Florack says:

    @wr: Well, since you bring that up, yes.
    Ponder for example, South Africa, where only something on the order of 7% showed up for an election. Do a bit of research on the matter and you’ll find, I’m quite sure, that there’s very few faster ways of de-legitimzing an abusive government.

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  114. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Pearce:

    Here’s my big one: “Hillary Clinton for President.”

    So, basically, you can’t think of any. That’s about what I thought.

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  115. Matt Bernius says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Ponder for example, South Africa, where only something on the order of 7% showed up for an election. Do a bit of research on the matter…

    Can you provide a bit more context for that “research”

    As I’ve been googling ‘”South Africa” AND Low Voter Turnout’ and not coming up with any epic information. Does this have to do with the end of apartheid for example? Or the complete rebuilding of the government. Do you have a year that this happened?

    Because for something so siginificant, it’s not particularly easy to find.

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  116. Scott O says:

    @Matt Bernius: 7%, 77%, same difference

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  117. Pinky says:

    Yeah, 22 comparisons crunched out in 2.5 hours (with grocery shopping in the middle), and I didn’t have time to flesh them out.

    I assume the original question was about the extremism and the role that each of the people plays in the movement. So let’s look at Stewart and Rush. They both appeal to a hip portion of their movements, that doesn’t maybe take the time to research the news as well as they’d like to (or think they do). They’re both really funny when they’re not being preachy or stale. When they do preach and they get called out on something, they both hide behind “I’m only an entertainer”. Stewart’s whole shtick is “boy, the Republicans and Democrats are both silly, for example, the Republicans”. Limbaugh’s is the mirror image. They both serve as legitimate media critics in an age with below-par media.

    Other comparisons of note:

    Hannity and NPR – about equal reach, about equal ideological predictability.

    Michelle Bachman and Sheila Jackson Lee – equal chances of becoming President

    Michelle Malkin and The Young Turks – equal influence. Seriously.

    Issa and Wasserman-Schultz – I couldn’t think of any Democratic car thieves.

    Palin and Gore – Someone said that one of them is so dumb as to be embarrassing. I’d round that up to two.

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  118. matt bernius says:

    @Pinky:

    Hannity and NPR – about equal reach, about equal ideological predictability.

    But not *ideological symmetry* — or do you think that NPR is as *partisan* as Hannity is? In other words, is NPR as *left* as Hannity is *Republican* (versus conservative/right, as Hannity is, generally speaking, more a Republican shill than a Conservative shill).

    Even setting that aside, do you actually think that Hannity has the same investment in journalistic integrity as NPR. Or challengings his audience’s views? Or depth of analysis (because frankly, Hannity’s on air persona is about as dumb as a bag of rocks — especially if you’ve heard the number of times that Jamie Dupree has to patiently explain to Hannity how Congress works after Hannity get’s his summary wrong).

    Well as I said, that goes a long way to explaining why we will never agree on much. Unfortunately, it also demonstrates why I find your ability to look at things in from an objective perspective suspect at best.

    —-

    All that said, +1 for the car thief/Issa joke.

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  119. matt bernius says:

    @Scott O:

    7%, 77%, same difference

    Maybe Eric has other data.

    Then again, Eric does have a proven track record of relying on his memory, even after we’ve found a lot of counter-evidence that suggests his memory isn’t based in fact.

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  120. Eric Florack says:

    It was 7%, and ultimately, the government was changed.
    There are other examples, as well. Cuba and Batttista, for one.

    and why do you suppose Kim Jung Il holds elections? A facade of legitimacy.
    what would happen if nobody showed up?

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  121. Matt Bernius says:

    @Eric Florack:

    as 7%, and ultimately, the government was changed.

    When? Date, link, anything Eric.

    Cause without that, you are just claiming crap without any proof.

    I’ve googled “South Africa” Vote 7% and came up with almost nothing. BTW, here’s my search so you don’t think I’m BSing you.

    In fact, the only think that search reveals that approaches your story is a single tea party site that quoted a story that claimed there there was a 7% vote that led to the end of Apartheid — http://fubarandgrill.org/node/1172 . And not surprisingly, this is being used to justify not voting in US elections.

    This story provides no actual source for the 7% number. And checking the Wikipedia page and other sources, I find no record of this 7% vote — which if it actually happened would have been pretty significant.

    Again, Eric, it seems like you are citing a history *you want to be true* without ever confirming the facts of the matter. And you wonder why we don’t respect what you write.

    If this is real fact, then you should be able to quickly find a source and shut me up (which I will gladly do).

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  122. Scott O says:

    @Eric Florack:
    I think I’m starting to understand. The path to rid us of tyranny is for the vast majority of people, 90% or more, to sit out the elections. Do I have that right?

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  123. Grewgills says:

    @Matt Bernius:
    That nearly 80% “sat out” the election because they were black or ‘colored’ helped a lot in getting to that 7% turnout. The 2% or so ‘asiatic’ (mostly Chinese and Indian) voters that ‘sat out’ helped too. Mostly it was that brave half of the ~21% or so that made up the white population choosing to stay home that did it. That suddenly turned the tables where international pressure and sanctions had failed.

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  124. Pinky says:

    @matt bernius: Comparisons are comparisons, not identities. If we did a word association game and you said “Hannity” or “NPR”, my response would be “boring”. And they’re boring in the same way: ideologically predictable and no sense of humor. Does NPR challenge the listener? Hardly ever. They may inform the listener about more things than Hannity, but they’re no more challenging than a bowl of macaroni and cheese on a snowy day. Either of them. They’re comfort food, gooey and predictable.

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  125. Eric Florack says:

    @anjin-san: You really think the word hasn’t gone into common use? You don’t get out much, do you?

    @Scott O: The point was in direct response to a question. Calling it “Ineffective” toward the idea of change seems to lack a certain factual perspective since in a number of cases, of which I’ve cited two, and can cite more at need.

    And I would think that the source you found, being a hard leftist site (As well as the large number of re-postings on other left wing sites such as firedoglake) would make you feel somewhat more comfortable. If you don’t trust these as a source, then I submit you need to look harder.

    Now, as to it being a path for us,I’m not encouraging anyone else to follow that path, for two reasons…the primary being it’s hardly needed. It’s a moot issue.The vast majority of Americans already don’t vote. And as to why, I’ve already answered that.

    The number of people not voting is going up year over year. Its to the point now where the vast majority of Americans simply do not vote at all. Polling data tell us that the majority of Americans come down to the right of anything that either party has puked up since Reagan. That situation has become more pronounced over the last 6 years or so. Nobody is representing the majority of America.

    Calling them stupid and or lazy ins’t going to solve that issue. Elections are sales issues like anything else, and the American public isn’t buying what the left (The Dems) and the center-left (GOP) are selling. It’s already in place, and on the ground. It’s reality and needs be dealt with, by giving the voters what they want… and as a bonus, here’s a clue… MOre government is NOT what they want.

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  126. mattbernius says:

    @Grewgills:
    What year did that vote take place? I’d really like to research it more.

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  127. Eric Florack says:

    @Grewgills: Correct, all points. However, that first point only helps if the understanding is in place that voter turnout was far higher in previous elections.

    By the way, I must say that the politics of the writer at fubarandgrill are abysmal at least. But again, the factoid was dropped in response to the idea of non-voting being ‘ineffective”. Whatever one thinks of the ANC, for example, the tactic was hardly ineffective.

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  128. mattbernius says:

    @Eric Florack:

    And I would think that the source you found, being a hard leftist site (As well as the large number of re-postings on other left wing sites such as firedoglake) would make you feel somewhat more comfortable. If you don’t trust these as a source, then I submit you need to look harder.

    Writes the man who typically never cites any source (telling others to “research” the “facts” he cites). BTW, I seem to remember most of your source links going to “hard” rightist sites. You really don’t get the idea of irony at all do you.

    But beyond that, I fully admit that I mischaracterized the site I found on my search as being Tea Party when it was far left. My mistake from a cursory reading. However, if you reread my comment I wasn’t citing them as a *good source*. In fact, I said it was the only reference to what you claimed that I could find and it wasn’t sourced either. Which to me makes it useless.

    Again, if you have some actual details or a link to historic facts on that vote, would really like to read them.

    @Eric Florack:

    Calling them stupid and or lazy ins’t going to solve that issue.

    Actually you’re the one who keeps implying that they are lazy and helpless. Again, WE ARE A PARTICIPATORY DEMOCRACY. BOTH PARTIES HOLD LOCAL PRIMARIES.

    If the “real” majority doesn’t like what they are getting — and they are *truely a united majority as you claim* the solution is directly in front of the: stand candidates and vote them into office.

    That’s supposedly what the Tea Party did in the election of 2010.

    But, again, the majority of americans, as you portray them, are Sheeple.

    The don’t care enough to stand up for office. They don’t care enough to vote the existing people out of office. They supposedly “surround us” but allow themselves to be walked over at every junction, be bullied by a minority of people, and let the country go to hell in a hand basket.

    Again, how is that living up to the image of the sainted foudners?

    Why do you spend so much time justifying inaction rather than rolling up your sleeves and trying to actually do something productive?

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  129. Matt Bernius says:

    BTW, for those interested, here is the best link I can find that details some of what Eric is talking about:
    http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-08-22-the-udf-at-30-an-organisation-that-shook-apartheids-foundation/#.U0rCdFdJ7Kc

    Again, the google search “low voter turnout end of apartheid south africa” turns up very little to back up Eric’s assertion. I ask again, Eric, if this is such a major “fact” please find me a historical citation for it. Because I really do want to read about it to understand its context.

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  130. Eric Florack says:

    @mattbernius:

    Actually you’re the one who keeps implying that they are lazy and helpless. Again, WE ARE A PARTICIPATORY DEMOCRACY. BOTH PARTIES HOLD LOCAL PRIMARIES.

    That assumes the process is a fair one. After years of watching, Ive yet to see any evidence of that.

    If the “real” majority doesn’t like what they are getting — and they are *truely a united majority as you claim* the solution is directly in front of the: stand candidates and vote them into office.

    there’s two problems with that. First, that the party would actually be responsive to it. The plight of Ronald Reagan in the 1976 primary season, vs his two landslides in the general election, should give lie to that idea. The current treatment of tea party people within the GOP should give you another indication of that unfairness .

    The other problem is a bit more complex to describe but let me attempt it this way. When you’re talking about independence minded people, it’s more than difficult to get them all on the same page.

    The best example of this that I can tell you about (At least at the moment… I’m sure I’ll think of a better once I post this).. is the transportation industries response to the fuel prices under Jimmy Carter. In that instance, as with most others of like, you’re talking about people that can agree on lunch much less something more complex. So it was that the trucking shutdown of the early seventies never really took shape in any substantial form. This would also tend to explain the lack of agreement and organization within the Tea party of today.

    But beyond that, I fully admit that I mischaracterized the site I found on my search as being Tea Party when it was far left.

    noted, but don’t feel bad. That happens rather a lot … people take judgments about what I post without ever bothering to do any basic research, and to that point ….and as for your request of further information, I would urge you to continue your search along the same lines. The fact is, your own research is going to prove more valuable to you than anything I might post because anything you find will be unarguable.or at least, unignoreable.. if that’s a word.,

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  131. Matt Bernius says:

    @Eric Florack:

    and as for your request of further information, I would urge you to continue your search along the same lines. The fact is, your own research is going to prove more valuable to you than anything I might post because anything you find will be unarguable.

    That Eric is a load of shit.

    You keep citing a historical fact — a supposed 7% or so total voter turn out in South Africa. We’re not talking about interpretation. We’re talking about a fact.

    It’s a fact that after about an hour of combined searching, I can find absolutely no proof of. Clearly you have actual proof of it because you keep citing it.

    Since you brought it up to bolster your position, the rules of argumentation require you to actually back it up. Saying “research harder” in this context becomes the same as saying “I have absolutely no proof.” That’s not the way any form of research or scientific method works. It’s a coward’s retreat.

    The fact that I have asked repeatedly, and you have repeatedly failed to respond, for even a hint of assistance in finding proof of said vote does not bode well for your argument.

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  132. Matt Bernius says:

    @Eric Florack:

    The plight of Ronald Reagan in the 1976 primary season, vs his two landslides in the general election, should give lie to that idea.

    BTW it’s amazing to me that Mr Reagan actually decided to stand in the primary again. Given his real conservative bonafides, and your logic, he should have been a “real American” and given up on the democratic system in 1976.

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  133. anjin-san says:

    @ Florack

    That assumes the process is a fair one

    Life is SO UNFAIR to conservatives. It’s a crime, really.

    You really think the word hasn’t gone into common use? You don’t get out much, do you?

    If you mean I don’t hang out with assholes, you are correct.

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  134. Eric Florack says:

    @anjin-san: No.
    ALL your money. ALL of it.
    Before you demand dime one of anyone else to satisfy your agenda.

    Come back once you do that. You still won’t have a valid claim on anyone else’s money, but at least you’ll have the courage of your off chanted mantra.

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  135. Eric Florack says:

    @Matt Bernius: had you noted I’m not the only one saying it?
    Again, keep looking.

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  136. Grewgills says:

    @mattbernius: @Eric Florack:
    I was trying to point out the absurdity of the assertion. Only ~21% of the population had the right to vote, so 21% was the maximum possible turn out. That maybe on some elections half the whites stayed home had nothing to do with the legitimacy of the South African elections. That over 3/4 of the population had no franchise was what made every single apartheid election illegitimate. International pressure, sanctions, and the weight of demographics, eventually won out. The 7% nonsense is nonsense.

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  137. anjin-san says:

    The 7% nonsense is nonsense. bithead

    FTFY

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  138. anjin-san says:

    @ Florack

    ALL your money. ALL of it.
    Before you demand dime one of anyone else to satisfy your agenda.

    So what you are saying is that I, an American citizen has to give up 100% of his wealth in order to have a say in setting our national agenda. (Adios, participatory democracy)

    Does that mean that the Koch brothers have to do the same? I am curious, because I don’t see any call for that on your blog.

    It’s a little sad, how far you have wandered from rational thought.

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  139. anjin-san says:

    @ Florack

    You have children, yes? I’m curious – did you send them to private school and pay 100% of their educational expenses, or did you send them to public school, thereby reaching into the pocket of the childless guy who lives down the block from you that does not care one whit about educating your kids? What gives you a valid claim on his money?

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