Eviscerating Indictment

September 7, 2011 at 2:05 am (By Randy)

The debt ceiling extension is not the only example of this sort of political terrorism…

…Everyone knows that in a hostage situation, the reckless and amoral actor has the negotiating upper hand over the cautious and responsible actor because the latter is actually concerned about the life of the hostage, while the former does not care.

 

… the Republican Party is becoming less and less like a traditional political party in a representative democracy and becoming more like an apocalyptic cult, or one of the intensely ideological authoritarian parties of 20th century Europe. This trend has several implications, none of them pleasant.

 

By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner…

…This tactic of inducing public distrust of government is not only cynical, it is schizophrenic. For people who profess to revere the Constitution, it is strange that they so caustically denigrate the very federal government that is the material expression of the principles embodied in that document…

…Undermining Americans’ belief in their own institutions of self-government remains a prime GOP electoral strategy.

 

Historical circumstances produced the raw material: the deindustrialization and financialization of America since about 1970 has spawned an increasingly downscale white middle class – without job security (or even without jobs), with pensions and health benefits evaporating and with their principal asset deflating in the collapse of the housing bubble. Their fears are not imaginary; their standard of living is shrinking…

…It was not always thus. It would have been hard to find an uneducated farmer during the depression of the 1890s who did not have a very accurate idea about exactly which economic interests were shafting him. An unemployed worker in a breadline in 1932 would have felt little gratitude to the Rockefellers or the Mellons. But that is not the case in the present economic crisis. After a riot of unbridled greed such as the world has not seen since the conquistadors’ looting expeditions and after an unprecedented broad and rapid transfer of wealth upward by Wall Street and its corporate satellites, where is the popular anger directed, at least as depicted in the media? At “Washington spending” – which has increased primarily to provide unemployment compensation, food stamps and Medicaid to those economically damaged by the previous decade’s corporate saturnalia. Or the popular rage is harmlessly diverted against pseudo-issues: death panels, birtherism, gay marriage, abortion, and so on, none of which stands to dent the corporate bottom line in the slightest.

The author resigned this year, after serving 28 years as a professional GOP staff member, the last 16 on either the House and Senate Budget Committee. Lofgren goes on, providing a scathing review of what he believes current principal tenets of the modern Republican Party.

– Mike Lofgren in Goodbye to All That

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35 Comments

  1. Melinda said,

    If Neo-Cons are people who left the Left with the ascendancy of the New Left, what should we call the people leaving the ‘Pubs?

  2. karen said,

    Left Overs.
    Right Offs.

    When smart people start running for the hills… must be they are thinking their cutting their losses.

    “…It was not always thus. It would have been hard to find an uneducated farmer during the depression of the 1890s who did not have a very accurate idea about exactly which economic interests were shafting him. An unemployed worker in a breadline in 1932 would have felt little gratitude to the Rockefellers or the Mellons. But that is not the case in the present economic crisis.”

    Uh, not to suond too much like the uneducated hick, but– isn’t that the whole point of the Tea Party? Only to be called ~Barbarians at the gates~ or raged against by Hoffa, et al as enemies to be waged war upon?

    Too many voices. No message.

  3. wj said,

    karen, the problem with seeing the Tea Party as people “with an accurate idea about exactly what economic interests are shafting them” is that the apparently have no clue about where government spending actually goes. If they did, they would realize that to cut government size (and therefore, presumably, the taxes that they hate), there would have to be cuts to Social Security and Medicare. BIG cuts. But somehow they honestly believe that, just by cutting the programs that they don’t like, the budget can be balanced. That is, I think, what Lofgren was trying to get at.

    That isn’t to say that the deficit isn’t a problem which (at least in the medium term) needs to be addressed. Nor that Social Security and Medicare, as they currently exist, don’t need to be changed. Just that most of the people demanding changes (from both left and right) don’t appear to have any idea what the real-world results of the “imporvements” they are pushing for would actually be. None.

    I haven’t got a magic solution either. But at least I know that the problems with the economy, and with government, are not going to be solved with simplistic slogans. (And, just for the record, I believe you know that, too.)

  4. mockturtle said,

    I think a good first step would be a neo-federalist policy that would decentralize government back to pre-1960’s status. Far too much power, overlap, waste and self-perpetuating policies have let to an uncontrolled and uncontrollable behemoth. Another sad feature of this phenomenon is that the public, by and large, tends to see ‘government’ only at the federal level and is usually clueless about their state, county and municipal governments where most of the day-to-day functions should be addressed, IMHO.

  5. wj said,

    And the reason that the public is largely clueless about their state and local governments? Because the news that they get is largely national news. At most, they hear about the municipal government of the largest city in the area during “local news.” But their country of local city/town? Rarely or never.

    As an example, I know a fair (if superficial) amount about the San Francisco city government — a city where I have never lived. But I can’t recall ever hearing even a whisper in the media (TV, radio all-news-channel, or newspaper) about what my local town government was doing. Yes, I could take an evening and go play reporter at a town council meeting. But it would still be without the kind of background needed to really understand.

    And I can’t take off from work to go to a county Baord of Supervisors meeting. Which means that I will only hear about what they have been doing if my local supervisor decides to do a mass mailing (probably only in the run-up to an election) or the Board does something so amazingly controversial or stupid that it manages to break into the local news. (And San Francisco’s Board of supervisors sets the bar pretty high for something to be noticeably outre.)

  6. karen said,

    It seems i had this same kind of conversation on Anchoress.
    I wanted to know why it was that ~people don’t seem to look after their own~, anymore. I was told that they never did.

    I brought up ~entitlement~ and how it seems everyone expects help or feels they deserve something, rather than earning and paying for things like food, healthcare, homes… not just in this depressed time, but always…

    I must be way outta touch with the real world. Where i come from, IIRC(to use a Randy-ism:0))- people did take care of things better. Towns had resources set aside for those that couldn’t provide as well for themselves. Of course, there was a greater reliance upon and a much less stigma attached to– the Church.

    I don’t think getting rid of certain programs will eliminate the debt, that’s naive– but, give me a break, WJ. The freaking gov’t needs to go on a diet– it’s so bloated w/redundant, costly bureaucracy-w/lifetime benefits t’boot. It’s sick. It’s criminal. THAT’S what i think when i see “Don’t Tread on Me”. I even saw one in Woodbury and thought how cool it was and refreshing to know it is recognized in this Liberal state(cue spud!!!)– all those Air Force One campaigns and vacations are on who’s $$$??

    Yuck.

  7. mockturtle said,

    Because the news that they get is largely national news.
    Yep. We almost NEVER hear what’s going on in our state legislature. I have to rely on my legislators’ web sites. And it’s not only the television medium to blame. Our newspapers are also neglectful of state issues unless it’s something ‘sexy’, like gay marriage or marijuana laws.

  8. karen said,

    nOT THAT I REALLY WATCH THE NEWS, MUCH- BUT, I DON’T FEEL THAT WAY ABOUT–oooops, caps locked up. I love that when that happens and i don’t pick up on it:0).

    Anyway, what we don’t get in the Chronicle, we get at the store.

  9. karen said,

    Not this Chronicle, mind….
    http://chronicle.com/

  10. wj said,

    Karen, I would agree that the government needs to go on a diet. But having looked at where the government’s money actually goes, it seems like any diet which will actually shrink government significantly will involve cutting spending on one or more of three things:
    – Medicare
    – Social Security
    – defense
    (putting them in order of size)

    Yes, there are a lot of other programs. And yes, many of them are either useless or counterproductive (TSA leaps to mind for some reason). But cutting any of them would amount to little more than taking off your shoes before getting on the scale — sure it makes your measured weight go down, but how much have you really improved?

    Sure, they cost money, and the amounts are big compared to what you or I deal with in our own lives. But compared to the big three, they are tiny. Getting rid of some of them would certainly be a Good Thing. No argument there. I’m just saying that “big government”, the way the Tea Party uses the phrase, is disconnected from what parts of the Federal government are really big.

  11. Icepick said,

    Yes, there are a lot of other programs. And yes, many of them are either useless or counterproductive (TSA leaps to mind for some reason). But cutting any of them would amount to little more than taking off your shoes before getting on the scale — sure it makes your measured weight go down, but how much have you really improved?

    What you describe would be more like taking off one’s shoelaces before getting on the scales.

  12. wj said,

    Hey, you can’t just shut down everything else (and even that would still leave a deficit). For example, I don’t see the Republicans advocating closing down the Border Patrol or the Federal prisons or the DEA. Even though the latter would be a good idea.

  13. Icepick said,

    wj, I’m not disputing your point. I’m just saying that you overstated the impact of closing down some programs. Taking off one’s shoes can make a small but noticable difference to one’s weight. Taking off one’s shoelaces? Not so much. Many of the complaints are about programs (or even groups of programs) that would fall within the margin of error of many government programs.

  14. Icepick said,

    Corrected, I hope.

    wj, I’m not disputing your point. I’m just saying that you overstated the impact of closing down some programs. Taking off one’s shoes can make a small but noticable difference to one’s weight. Taking off one’s shoelaces? Not so much. Many of the complaints are about programs (or even groups of programs) that would fall within the margin of error of many government programs.

  15. wj said,

    Ice, I’d agree with you that there could be a substantial improvement, not least in quality of life, by shutting down some “programs.” And likewise a positive impact on the economy and the business environment by eliminating some things and simplifying others. (Not, mind, the ones which feature so prominently in the Tea Party rhetoric. But they doubtless exist.)

    I guess I should have used the /sarcasm tag on my previous comment. :-(

  16. karen said,

    (shakes head…)

    i guess i just don’t get it. I’m missing something– and i really want to understand. It has to do w/the ~do as i say, not as i do~ attitude of the current Administration. The real lack of connection w/the common folk– all the while using the ~workers~ or the ~black communities~(in all seriousness)as counterweights to the cry for reality from the Tea Party.

    I can see myself claiming to be a Party-er. I’m not all that educated– c’mon, a Tech degree?- i work in manual labour, live in a modest(by all accounts, am i wrong) home and i go to church on Sundays(:0)). Yet, suited, tied pols want more $$$$ to be ~spread around~ to ~even things out~. O’s jobs speech tonight, when there are millions of $$$$ worth of damage that will require extensive cleaning up and fixing in VT after Irene– WTF? Fires, floods, hurricanes– all need $$$$ and manpower. One will go handily w/the other?

  17. Spud said,

    “I THAT’S what i think when i see “Don’t Tread on Me”. I even saw one in Woodbury and thought how cool it was and refreshing to know it is recognized in this Liberal state(cue spud!!!)– all those Air Force One campaigns and vacations are on who’s $$$??”

    None of that would bother you Karen if it was a republican president doing the same thing which they would be, taking vacations. and doing Air Force campaigns

  18. karen said,

    I think you’re wrong about me, spud. Maybe W or Bush1 did overuse Air Force One privileges- IDK, but i’m not impressed w/O’s overuse. It’s like Gore jet-setting around the world in his jet to fight carbon and create footprints. I saw a Penn and Teller video about that. Funny as all hell.

    Not to say i ever was… impressed. Colour me jade when it comes to the big O.

  19. mockturtle said,

    Air Force one is only a symbolic luxury. BFD. The whole country is being fleeced by banks and other corporate institutions, aided and abetted by our bought-and-paid-for representatives. It is far beyond capitalism. Who is making money from the ‘wars’ we are involved in? Who makes money from the national debt?

    Here I am sounding like a simplistic, freaking liberal!

  20. karen said,

    BFD about AF1, i totally agree.

    It’s just a symbol i grabbed onto to portray actions/words and the deceit abounding in gov’t, all in the protection of our rights and w/our best interests at heart. Obviously.

  21. mockturtle said,

    It might be wise for our ‘public servants’ [Hah! If ever there was a mis-applied job description, that has to be it!] to take a look at our constitution from time to time.

  22. Icepick said,

    Actually, Bush 1 scaled down from the full sized jumbo jet version of AF1 to a much smaller corporate jet for a while. After the collapse of the Soviet Union he felt it wasn’t needed. (Plus, as a pilot himself, I am sure he prefered smaller planes to planes that are basically airbourne buses.) Clinton went back to exclusively using the big boys, as I recall.

    Speaking of the sky, you all seem to have missed the best part of the speech last night. Obama was droning on about the need for more infrastructure when he said the following:

    Obama: Pass this jobs bill, and we can put people to work rebuilding America. Everyone here knows that we have badly decaying roads and bridges all over this country. Our highways are clogged with traffic. Our skies are the most congested in the world. [emphasis added]

    My sister and I said in unison, “He’s going to build more sky?”

  23. Icepick said,

    Arguably a funnier part of the speech was the constant refrain to “pass this bill now!” If congress would do so, small businesses would start hiring tomorrow, yada yada yada.

    The only problem is that there isn’t any bill to pass. The White House staff hasn’t written the damned thing, they only wrote a broad outline of what they want. So he is telling Congress to pass a bill that hasn’t been written yet (and we thought Pelosi was nuts for saying we had to pass the ACA before we would know what was in it – sorry Nancy!), and that some future Congress that hasn’t been elected yet will pay for the bill in some manner that someone else will think about latter.

    And most of the bill is stuff we’re already doing, and almost everything has already been tried!

    Even excluding all the BS about not bowing down to special interests, this is the most cynical, and cynically stupid, speech I have ever heard.

  24. Spud said,

    Karen, I could take the Tea Party seriously if they had showed up during the Bush administration. The Tea party acts like we went from the Clinton administration to Obama. No one seems to remembers there was a failed Bush administration before Obama. If the republicans nominate a Tea Partier to run against Obama, they will likely lose.

  25. Icepick said,

    Karen, I could take the Tea Party seriously if they had showed up during the Bush administration. The Tea party acts like we went from the Clinton administration to Obama. No one seems to remembers there was a failed Bush administration before Obama. If the republicans nominate a Tea Partier to run against Obama, they will likely lose.

    Spud, apparently you didn’t go to any of the early Tea party rallies. I went to one of them here in town (Orlando, FL) out of curiousity. I heard a LOT of bitching about Bush & Republicans more generally. More was heard about Obama, but that was because (a) he was actually the President at that point, (b) his stimulus bill had recently been passed and (c) the ramp-up for his healthcare proposals was underway.

    But there were lots & lots of people pissed that Bush had sold them out to the banks, and that Bush & the Republicans had in the previous years been terribly profligate. The Tea Partiers have seen their mission as in part taking back the Republican Party from the apparatchiks, and their “victims” at this point include quite a few Republican scalps as well.

    And if they were upset at the policies of Bush, then it’s only natural that they would be even more upset with the policies of Obama. After all, running up deficits that big is considered unpatirotic. Oh wait, that was Obama talking about Bush running up a $4T debt in eight years, LOL. I guess it’s different if you do it in two-and-a-half years instead!

    PS I’m not a Tea Partier. Their policies are too inchoate for my tastes, and I don’t think they’ve really got a clue as to the true scope of the problem. Furthermore, they’ve been easily duped into deciding that they should be led by career politicians like Michele Bachman, Rick Perry and Marco Rubio, to name three. At this point they’re just another tool of the system. They don’t know that yet, but they’ll find out in the next year or two. We’ll either get an entire group of people dropping out of the process completely when they realize how exactly they’ve been fucked, or we will see true rage erupt into violence on a wide-spread basis. I’m predicting the former, because despite the rhetoric these just aren’t the kind of people that start revolutions.

  26. Icepick said,

    And one other point. Note that most people think that Ron Paul won the ‘debate’ the other night. Yet all I heard about the debate on Thursday was that the field had narrowed to merely two credible candidate – Perry & Romney. How does the field narrow to two of the guys that lost after a debate? Because that’s what the people running the country tell us is true.

  27. mockturtle said,

    While I missed the debate, I will admit to having been an avid Ron Paul supporter in the last election and wrote him in on my ballot. The precinct where I lived at the time overwhelmingly nominated him, as did our county Republican Party. It is true that the Tea Party is half-baked on a lot of important issues but, IMHO, they have a better vision for our future than do the alternatives. My main concerns about RP have been his non-support of the death penalty and his lack of support for Israel. However, upon reading the fine print on our Middle Eastern policies, I’m wondering if we are really helping Israel, anyway, or just feathering our own defense contractor’s nests.

    Remember Ross Perot? Good grief, he was right on every issue, including GATT and NAFTA, when both parties were supporting them! I maintain that, unless we get a third party elected, we shall continue down the same destructive path. We need real change, not Obama ‘change’.

  28. Icepick said,

    MT, it’s not a question of whether I think the Tea Party people more correct than the ruling parties. It’s a question of whether or not they’re right enough to (a) get elected so that they can (b) get enough of the right things done to make a difference.

    As for Ron Paul – whether he supports the death penalty or not is largely an unimportant issue for a President. Lack of support for israel is another thing. But our support for Israel should in any case be predicated on “What’s in it for us?” The same is true for support for any foreign nation.

  29. mockturtle said,

    By that criterion, IP, we would have stayed out of WWII, at least until after Pearl Harbor [we were heavily involved, if not formally, long before]. Do you believe our NATO alliance no longer serves any useful purpose? Should we become isolationist? RP rather favors that approach and it is certain that we can no longer afford to attempt to police the planet. It’s food for thought but it gives me just a touch of indigestion.

  30. Icepick said,

    MT, I can give you a fine criteria for the US being involved in WWII prior to Pearl harbor. Hell, I think the Allies would have saved themselves a heap of trouble by invading Germany no later than 1934 and that it was obvious they should have done so. But they were hamstrung by idiotic concepts of world peace. I don’t have the time or energy to get into all of it, but it would have come down to naked national interest – no high-minded ideals in my foreign policy. Our relationship with Israel should be evaluated in that manner as well. I’ve got opinions on that, but they’re not that well thought out so I’ll pass on discussing them. I’ve also got a rather unusual solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict (one that I don’t believe I’ve ever seen put forward) that I’ll also keep to myself, as it is passing far afield of the topics at hand.

    Speaking of those, I find this “evisceration” anything but – mostly the author is trying to shift the blame from decades of failed policy to a movement that just appeared two and a half years ago. His points are mostly disingenuous, which is a sophisticated way of calling him a lying piece of shit. He’s also trying to pretend he had nothing to do with the extraction of the US economy by the plutocrats and their minions in government. This guy ought to be taken out and shot on general principles, given his involvement. He was way more important than some random Congressman – he was a staffer. Congressmen came and went, but he was there for three decades. All in all a fine example of “hey, look over there!” political debate.

  31. karen said,

    I like that, ice. Makes me feel better. I didn’t like this:
    “… the Republican Party is becoming less and less like a traditional political party in a representative democracy and becoming more like an apocalyptic cult, or one of the intensely ideological authoritarian parties of 20th century Europe. This trend has several implications, none of them pleasant.”

    Of course, i wouldn’t.

  32. wj said,

    Karen, it may be that the Republican Party is, in your opinion, superior to the Democratic Party in the kinds of things that they support. But with regards to Ice’s comment, ask yourself this:

    Picture a politician with a record, or stated positions, identical to any Republican President since WW II. Would he have a ghost of a chance of getting the Presidential nomination in today’s Republican Party? I sure can’t think of a President whose record would allow that, but perhaps you can enlighten me. (Just to take one example, a politician who raised taxes in an attempt to reduct the deficit, compromised with democrats to get things done, and even socialized with Democratic members of Congress. That would be anathema today; that would be Ronald Reagan. Obviously either a RINO or a socialist. Obviously.)

  33. karen said,

    I don’t really know what i am, wj.

    I hate superiority. I admire hard work ethics minus the sleeze. You forget– we have Bernie Sanders, here. To me, that’s sleeze, possibly w/out the slick, but not so much in the passing few yrs.

    I fly by the emotion of my– heart, a lot of the times, when i really don’t know all of the facts and can’t even pick out the label of soup i want in the array of a brightly coloured display. It’s probably wrong even to comment since all i say is pretty much– feeling, not data or history. I’m a gut conservative, not a die-hard republican.

    I just liked how ice pointed out the fact that this guy jumped ship after having contributed to ramming the iceberg– and failing to admit it. It’s never been a left/right thing for me, completely. It’s who is willing to tell the truth– admit the truth. ok, maybe i feel that is a left/right thang.

    “(Just to take one example, a politician who raised taxes in an attempt to reduct the deficit, compromised with democrats to get things done, and even socialized with Democratic members of Congress. That would be anathema today; that would be Ronald Reagan. Obviously either a RINO or a socialist. Obviously.)”

    We are devolving. That’s all i can say to that.

  34. Spud said,

    “and failing to admit it. It’s never been a left/right thing for me, completely. It’s who is willing to tell the truth– admit the truth. ok, maybe i feel that is a left/right thang.”

    Yes, it’s left/right thang. For most far right conservatives such as yourself, not only is liberalism evil, so are liberals.

  35. karen said,

    Not you, spudly.

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