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Old 04-29-2012, 12:19 AM   #1
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let's be honest: it's the Republicans who ruin everything

fairly major op-ed in the Washington Post:

Quote:
Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem.

By Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein, Published: April 27

Rep. Allen West, a Florida Republican, was recently captured on video asserting that there are “78 to 81” Democrats in Congress who are members of the Communist Party. Of course, it’s not unusual for some renegade lawmaker from either side of the aisle to say something outrageous. What made West’s comment — right out of the McCarthyite playbook of the 1950s — so striking was the almost complete lack of condemnation from Republican congressional leaders or other major party figures, including the remaining presidential candidates.

It’s not that the GOP leadership agrees with West; it is that such extreme remarks and views are now taken for granted.

We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.

The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.

When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.

“Both sides do it” or “There is plenty of blame to go around” are the traditional refuges for an American news media intent on proving its lack of bias, while political scientists prefer generality and neutrality when discussing partisan polarization. Many self-styled bipartisan groups, in their search for common ground, propose solutions that move both sides to the center, a strategy that is simply untenable when one side is so far out of reach.


It is clear that the center of gravity in the Republican Party has shifted sharply to the right. Its once-legendary moderate and center-right legislators in the House and the Senate — think Bob Michel, Mickey Edwards, John Danforth, Chuck Hagel — are virtually extinct.

The post-McGovern Democratic Party, by contrast, while losing the bulk of its conservative Dixiecrat contingent in the decades after the civil rights revolution, has retained a more diverse base. Since the Clinton presidency, it has hewed to the center-left on issues from welfare reform to fiscal policy. While the Democrats may have moved from their 40-yard line to their 25, the Republicans have gone from their 40 to somewhere behind their goal post.

What happened? Of course, there were larger forces at work beyond the realignment of the South. They included the mobilization of social conservatives after the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, the anti-tax movement launched in 1978 by California’s Proposition 13, the rise of conservative talk radio after a congressional pay raise in 1989, and the emergence of Fox News and right-wing blogs. But the real move to the bedrock right starts with two names: Newt Gingrich and Grover Norquist.


you can read the rest here.

Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem. - The Washington Post

some highlights:

Quote:
From the day he entered Congress in 1979, Gingrich had a strategy to create a Republican majority in the House: convincing voters that the institution was so corrupt that anyone would be better than the incumbents, especially those in the Democratic majority. It took him 16 years, but by bringing ethics charges against Democratic leaders; provoking them into overreactions that enraged Republicans and united them to vote against Democratic initiatives; exploiting scandals to create even more public disgust with politicians; and then recruiting GOP candidates around the country to run against Washington, Democrats and Congress, Gingrich accomplished his goal.

Quote:
Norquist, meanwhile, founded Americans for Tax Reform in 1985 and rolled out his Taxpayer Protection Pledge the following year. The pledge, which binds its signers to never support a tax increase (that includes closing tax loopholes), had been signed as of last year by 238 of the 242 House Republicans and 41 of the 47 GOP senators, according to ATR. The Norquist tax pledge has led to other pledges, on issues such as climate change, that create additional litmus tests that box in moderates and make cross-party coalitions nearly impossible. For Republicans concerned about a primary challenge from the right, the failure to sign such pledges is simply too risky.

Today, thanks to the GOP, compromise has gone out the window in Washington. In the first two years of the Obama administration, nearly every presidential initiative met with vehement, rancorous and unanimous Republican opposition in the House and the Senate, followed by efforts to delegitimize the results and repeal the policies. The filibuster, once relegated to a handful of major national issues in a given Congress, became a routine weapon of obstruction, applied even to widely supported bills or presidential nominations. And Republicans in the Senate have abused the confirmation process to block any and every nominee to posts such as the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, solely to keep laws that were legitimately enacted from being implemented.
Quote:
We understand the values of mainstream journalists, including the effort to report both sides of a story. But a balanced treatment of an unbalanced phenomenon distorts reality. If the political dynamics of Washington are unlikely to change anytime soon, at least we should change the way that reality is portrayed to the public.

Our advice to the press: Don’t seek professional safety through the even-handed, unfiltered presentation of opposing views. Which politician is telling the truth? Who is taking hostages, at what risks and to what ends?

Also, stop lending legitimacy to Senate filibusters by treating a 60-vote hurdle as routine. The framers certainly didn’t intend it to be. Report individual senators’ abusive use of holds and identify every time the minority party uses a filibuster to kill a bill or nomination with majority support.

Look ahead to the likely consequences of voters’ choices in the November elections. How would the candidates govern? What could they accomplish? What differences can people expect from a unified Republican or Democratic government, or one divided between the parties?

i'm glad someone had the gumption to step away from pretenses of "balance" and actually commit an act of journalism.

and lest you scream about the WaPo being a bunch of communists, consider this:


Quote:
Thomas E. Mann is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and Norman J. Ornstein is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. This essay is adapted from their book “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism,” which will be available Tuesday.
hardly bastions of pinko thought, Brookings and AEI.
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Old 04-29-2012, 04:30 AM   #2
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I'll be honest, I don't really like taking political sides because I think there are idiots from both sides of the spectrum. Both parties are at fault for a lot of different things. My main problem with the hardcore republicans is that most of them do not believe health care is a human right. You know your priorities are warped when you care more about buying weapons of mass destruction than you do about insuring health and wellness for your community. I understand the other side of the story because I grew up surrounded by role models and people who thought that way. I used to think that way myself.

Now, I'm still gung-ho about the right to carry arms, personal property, and the like. But extremism is never healthy--for either side--and it hurts everyone involved.
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Old 04-29-2012, 05:43 AM   #3
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I don't think I'd be so annoyed with conservatives if they just dropped the goddamn "traditional" and "family" and "values" and all that garbage. It's 2012. Gay marriage will not result in God, if indeed there is such a thing, smiting us all. Immigrants are not causing the downfall of our society. If women wish to have an abortion, for whatever reason, that should be up to the discretion of the woman who is pregnant, not a male politician thousands of kilometres away. I get really, really annoyed when gay marriage is seen as a "leftist agenda" or whatever. It's not. If two people are gay - completely natural, my 13-year-old sister who is failing school could tell you that - and they want to get married, then there isn't a single legitimate reason why they shouldn't be able to. It's a basic human right. There's no agenda or ulterior motive. It will happen, so stop losing yourself voters by remaining against it. And re climate change - why the fuck do so many people form their views based on biased journalists, or how much it's rained in the past week? Why do scientists, whose job it is to study these things, who have much more knowledge and expertise than anyone else?

Maybe this will be unpopular, but the one that annoys me most is gay marriage. I don't think there should be a debate. I think if you think gay people shouldn't get married then you are just wrong. You may call it an opinion, but it's the wrong opinion.

I know I'm making wild generalisations there, but from the conservatives that I hear of these are themes that come up. Also talking about not just the US but Australia too (I live in Melbourne).
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Old 04-29-2012, 09:12 AM   #4
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The way they go about things, they will continue to haemorrhage voters in the younger generations.

They may have a right to an opinion on gay marriage but in no way does that equal a right to respect for their deeply illogical and quite frankly immoral views.

It's hard to take them seriously or even listen to them when they espouse so much that it just seems nuts. The extremity of their rhetoric does them no favours.
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Old 04-29-2012, 12:59 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by LJT View Post
They may have a right to an opinion on gay marriage but in no way does that equal a right to respect for their deeply illogical and quite frankly immoral views.
Republicans have a lot of beliefs that are uneducated and ill-informed. Gay marriage is just one of them, and while it's an important issue, there are bigger fish to fry. Refusal to accept the fact that many large corporations actually don't pay taxes and get through loopholes (apparently this is just a myth propagated by the liberal media to make life hard for the rich), refusal to accept that quality and affordable health care should be a basic human right, refusal to accept that a corporation should be held accountable for actions that hurt millions, etc.
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Old 04-29-2012, 01:07 PM   #6
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The article didn't focus on policy. It focused more on the mecahnics of Washington. And I thought that was a real strength of the piece.
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Old 04-29-2012, 01:54 PM   #7
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When I say news media are all right-wing, this is sort of what I'm talking about. That and the fact that they are all businesses.
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Old 04-29-2012, 02:06 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Irvine511 View Post
The article didn't focus on policy. It focused more on the mecahnics of Washington. And I thought that was a real strength of the piece.
The mechanics of Washington was flawed before the Republicans got a hold of it, though I do agree with the article. I think the major problem with congress is that many of them are old, ignorant men/women who know very little about the serious policies they are voting on. They may be older and more "wise" but they are shockingly uninformed about the issues. The argument that we can fix this by exchanging ignorance for ignorance (a la republicans) is even more preposterous.
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Old 04-29-2012, 02:29 PM   #9
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The article didn't focus on policy. It focused more on the mecahnics of Washington. And I thought that was a real strength of the piece.
The mechanics of government are quite flawed on this side of the pond as well, an unelected upper house in the House of Lords, successive governments and seemingly police in bed with the Murdochs, it's highly dispiriting.

To be honest I don't know how the USA has remained United when both sides of the political spectrum believe very different things about what being American means.
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Old 04-29-2012, 02:38 PM   #10
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The article didn't focus on policy. It focused more on the mecahnics of Washington. And I thought that was a real strength of the piece.
The bottom line is, and has been for as long as I've been alive, that Republicans play dirtier and win more often. And everybody else sits around bitches about how they don't play fair. And the end result is, they keep winning the policy debates, often when Democrats are in control. To sum, (sadly) it only matters if you win or lose, not how you play the game. This is a lesson more Democrats and liberals could stand to eventually learn. This isn't cynical, it's just reality.
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Old 04-29-2012, 03:44 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by cobl04 View Post
I don't think I'd be so annoyed with conservatives if they just dropped the goddamn "traditional" and "family" and "values" and all that garbage. It's 2012. Gay marriage will not result in God, if indeed there is such a thing, smiting us all. Immigrants are not causing the downfall of our society. If women wish to have an abortion, for whatever reason, that should be up to the discretion of the woman who is pregnant, not a male politician thousands of kilometres away. I get really, really annoyed when gay marriage is seen as a "leftist agenda" or whatever. It's not. If two people are gay - completely natural, my 13-year-old sister who is failing school could tell you that - and they want to get married, then there isn't a single legitimate reason why they shouldn't be able to. It's a basic human right. There's no agenda or ulterior motive. It will happen, so stop losing yourself voters by remaining against it. And re climate change - why the fuck do so many people form their views based on biased journalists, or how much it's rained in the past week? Why do scientists, whose job it is to study these things, who have much more knowledge and expertise than anyone else?

Maybe this will be unpopular, but the one that annoys me most is gay marriage. I don't think there should be a debate. I think if you think gay people shouldn't get married then you are just wrong. You may call it an opinion, but it's the wrong opinion.

I know I'm making wild generalisations there, but from the conservatives that I hear of these are themes that come up. Also talking about not just the US but Australia too (I live in Melbourne).
Good Post! If only the GOP would get with the times...as you said...its 2012 afterall. Honestly if they would try and get out of their bubble the GOP might attract younger voters and a more diverse crowd than the typical base. I'm certainly not a republican, or a democrat for that matter, but looking at this from where im at it must suck for someone who is a fiscal conservative and happens to also be gay or lesbian. That bothers me as well, i live in a conservative state and know plenty of GLBT folks, not all of whom are liberal democrats. I guess thats why Independents still decide elections.
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Old 04-29-2012, 03:53 PM   #12
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The Republicans DO play dirty, definitely. Wasn't it them who did the smear campaign involving McCain and an "illegitimate child" or something like that? That's pretty low, and pretty damn cold. That's always been my biggest problem with the GOP in recent years-they're just mean. The Republicans had to be embarrassed, shamed, by Jon Stewart, of all people, into supporting the legislation that would allow 9/11 first responders to get health benefits. The Republicans. The same party that used 9/11 to every single political advantage imaginable over the last 10 years when it would help them win (which I also found beyond disturbing and offensive). They just couldn't muster up any interest or support for 9/11 first responders in the end. That sickened me. That should've made anyone, regardless of political affiliation, look at them and go, "What the FUCK is wrong with you?" and any politician who opposed that legislation should've been voted out post-haste.

I want the Democrats and liberals to get tougher in their message, absolutely. But at the same time, I don't want them to stoop to that horrific of levels. I would like to think the strength of their message alone would be enough to get people on their side. But unfortunately, if they want to win, they may HAVE to start going to that "play dirty" well, and it may help them win votes and elections, but ultimately I personally don't think anyone will truly "win" in that scenario at that point. I'll find it pretty disgusting, actually.

Quote:
In the first two years of the Obama administration, nearly every presidential initiative met with vehement, rancorous and unanimous Republican opposition in the House and the Senate, followed by efforts to delegitimize the results and repeal the policies.
Yep. In the opposition's eyes it's all some evil socialist Nazi communist government takeover and Obama wants to be our king and we must all bow to him or something like that. There's no respect for the president. He's not even the most powerful figure anymore. The corporations and lobbyists are, and the politicians care more about them and respect them more than they do the person who runs the country. So it's no wonder things aren't moving along more swiftly.

And yet somehow so many voters might know this in theory-they get that corporate lobbying interests are bad and hurt our country in the long run, they rant about it all the time-but they still don't care and seem to vote for a party that screws everyone over time and time again. And why? Because of the sorts of things cobl talked about in his post (which was excellent, by the way ). Just say "family values" and "God" and that somehow gets you votes for reasons I'll never understand ('cause we all know supporters of "family values" candidates haven't gotten burned by said people a zillion times before, right? No scandals or hypocrisies on those issues whatsoever, thus illustrating those people's belief systems and attitudes are total shams).
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Old 04-29-2012, 06:34 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by LJT View Post
The mechanics of government are quite flawed on this side of the pond as well, an unelected upper house in the House of Lords, successive governments and seemingly police in bed with the Murdochs, it's highly dispiriting.

i've always been mystified by the House of Lords. what do they do? why are they there? seriously. i do keep an eye on UK politics, just a bit, and don't feel informed enough to express a real opinion, but i can't figure out this House of Lords thing



Quote:
To be honest I don't know how the USA has remained United when both sides of the political spectrum believe very different things about what being American means.

i think that's why you have such overt displays of patriotism in the US -- we actually need this to keep us unified as a country. i know it can come off as obnoxious, but there's a need for it. i likely have much more in common with you than i do with someone from, say, Western Texas or the Idaho panhandle, despite the fact that these are my countrymen.
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Old 04-29-2012, 06:38 PM   #14
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The bottom line is, and has been for as long as I've been alive, that Republicans play dirtier and win more often. And everybody else sits around bitches about how they don't play fair. And the end result is, they keep winning the policy debates, often when Democrats are in control. To sum, (sadly) it only matters if you win or lose, not how you play the game. This is a lesson more Democrats and liberals could stand to eventually learn. This isn't cynical, it's just reality.

but is it even playing dirty when you have people willing to stand up -- as is the case with Rep. Allen West -- and say something that's completely, totally, and utterly untrue? there is no member of Congress that's a member of the Communist Party. there just isn't. it's a lie. but it's not treated as such. that's not playing dirty, that's living in an alternate reality.

this reminds me of Sen. Kyle's "not intended to be a factual statement" about Planned Parenthood. he stood there and lied ... well, he didn't even, like, LIE in the traditional sense, he just made shit up... and admitted it with the "not intended to be a factual statement."

there's a surrealism about the GOP right now that simply isn't there with the Democrats. the Dems are liars, cheats, corrupt, inept, incompetent, etc. but it's the divorce from reality, the total inconsequence of facts, that's unique to the GOP. it's crazy.
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Old 04-29-2012, 09:33 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by ladyfreckles View Post
Republicans have a lot of beliefs that are uneducated and ill-informed. Gay marriage is just one of them, and while it's an important issue, there are bigger fish to fry.
I'd argue that there are few bigger fish to fry than civil rights and equality
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