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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Getting back to polarization: As I previously mentioned, to the extent governing isn’t working well today I very much agree with Sean Theriault that “partisan warfare is the problem” (see also Ed Kilgore). The trouble with Washington isn’t that the parties are each internally cohesive or that Democrats are too liberal or Republicans too conservative. The problem resides in a Republican Party that too often treats hostility to compromise as an end in itself, and that has come to value destroying opponents more than enacting its public policy preferences. (Theriault properly uses Republican senator Ted Cruz of Texas as an example of this mindset.)

So how did Republicans get that way? It basically comes down to two names: Newt and Rush.

Newt Gingrich was an unusually destructive and irresponsible politician. Yet he was so successful at claiming credit for the unexpected 1994 Republican landslide that his tactics — basically blowing up the House of Representatives under the guise of saving it — became a model for future Republicans. (All winning electoral tactics are copied, regardless of whether they were responsible for victory.) Theriault has traced how The Gingrich Senators learned how to disrupt institutions when they were in Newt’s House and brought those dubious skills to the Senate, with predictably destructive consequences.

As it happened, Newt had little to do with the 1994 outcome, and his subsequent efforts, including shutting down the government in a budget battle and impeaching President Bill Clinton, were pretty much disasters. Even so, you can trace a direct line from the party’s current political culture back to Newt. Like Richard Nixon and Joe McCarthy, two other unsavory influences, Newt was never noted for consistent, hardcore conservative views. His specialty was tactics and strategy, not ideology.

The other contemporary influence is Rush Limbaugh, whose major contribution is not so much a particular style of rhetoric, whatever one thinks of it, but the development of the extremely lucrative conservative marketplace.* That market creates perverse incentives for Republicans. For one, conservative consumers are generally more eager to listen to conservative talk shows and spend on books and the like when Democrats are in power. As a result, talk-show hosts, authors and others in the Republican-aligned news media have an incentive for their party to lose. For another, there’s so much money sloshing around that politicians, campaign operatives, governing professionals and other party actors have a viable — and often more lucrative — career path when they lose elections.

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  • terry b

    A party that is so often referred to as the Nazi party as well as being called the American Taliban is bound to have a lot of problems with women and minorities. The original Nazi’s had their war on jews and the current version has a war on women, Those lacking of intelligence will say that these things are nonsense but the majority of people know that they are/were real. How any party can continue to allow itself to be viewed so derogatory by so many people can continue to survive, is beyond me. Lets hope that we will have our first female president in 2017. Such a victory may convince our version of the Nazi party to start acting like they actually prefer democracy over fascism as a way to govern. At this time, doubtful, but sometime the GOP will have to start moving more to the middle if they want to ever return to the great party they once were.

    • commserver

      Are you suggesting Hillary?

      • Jim Myers

        Or, Elizabeth? Or, both on the ticket together?

      • terry b

        Who else? Elizabeth Warren is a good 2nd chance but she does not have the name recognition or the political capital that Hillary does. Obama got close to 60% of female voters. Clinton would surpass that.

    • mikem42

      Having a female president for the first time could be a good thing, but I thought the same about the first black president. It didn’t bring us closer as a country, but the opposite. With the misogynistic views of the right, and downright hatred of H. Clinton, it could just produce more years of venomous relations between the parties, and thus, the country. Gingrich has always been my pick as the leader of the downfall of governance. He has no ethics, scruples or core beliefs. Limbaugh is an idiot, plain and simple, and makes a good living by playing one on radio. He convinces his followers to vote against their own best interests over and over, yet he enriches himself at their expense. We need to do better.

      • neeceoooo

        That speaks volumes for the mentality of the American people

      • terry b

        Very articulate. However, she is the best that there is to prevent the rise of America’s version of the Nazi party. Should she win it would be likely that the senate and house will become democratic. Unlikely, but far better than those who seem to idealize Hitler’s policy’s be allowed to govern from any part of this once great country. I have despised the Nazi’s my entire life and that is one thing that will never change.

        • mikem42

          Well, I am all for Democrat’s control of both houses, or at least to maintain control of one at a minimum. I will of course vote for Hilary if she is the candidate, and I think she is a strong one. She and Bill are really close to Wall Street, and that worries me. NAFTA still doesn’t thrill me. I really dislike the right wing Republicans, and don’t know much about “Nazi’s” that you speak of, but I share your sentiments.

          • terry b

            As my Jewish friends have informed many why the current GOP is referred to as Nazi’s they have the following reasons. Only truly ignorant people would not believe that the original Nazi’s had a war on the Jews. In America the evidence is overwhelming of the war on women. Add the total disdain for minorities and gay people and you have the same party in different centuries in different countries. Actually, the GOP is basically a fascist party which seems to be similar to the Nazi party. All women and Jews that overhear me in this kind of discussion know that when they hear the word Nazi they know who I truly mean. The fact that 75% of Germany’s people referred to Romney as Hitler Lite should give people a lot to think about as to what has happened to a once great party.

          • mikem42

            Thanks for the explanation, and I see where you are coming from. I personally am not comfortable in conflating these present day right wing politicians and pundits with my understanding of Nazis. They didn’t so much have a war on Jews, as they just annihilated them in ghastly ways out of hatred. It was on a scale unheard of at the time. I’m not sure that genocide in many African countries hasn’t come close in scale, but I’ll just stick to more mundane descriptions of our right wing political opponents.

          • terry b

            How about right wing lunatics? Or just plain nutcases? Both seem very appropriate to describe the super majority of the current GOP membership.

          • mikem42

            Ha! I can live with either or both of these.

          • terry b

            So mental health issues don’t seem to bother you? Have a nice life among the mentally ill that seem to permeate the republican party.

          • mikem42

            not sure you understood me. I was referring to your two descriptions of “right wing lunatics or nutcases”. there’s nothing in my dna that would allow me to be in the republican party.

  • Jerry Brooks

    Their war on women will cost them come November.

    • neeceoooo

      And I really hope you are right. I know many women who still think that Sarah Palin is a God sent.

      • mikem42

        I don’t think God gets involved in politics; however, if He did, I don’t believe He would caucus with Mama Grizzly.

        • neeceoooo

          You and I both know that is correct by try to tell the christian GOP that.

      • terry b

        Any fan of Sarah Palin is as truly stupid as she is. Dumb people have a way of attracting people who lack intelligence and apparently there are a lot of them infesting our country.

  • Jambi

    Gingrich, Limbaugh, and FOX NEWS …The “Mouth-piece” for Bull!?#!!!

    • neeceoooo

      I agree, Fox news, should be on that list as well as Trump, Ann Coulter and others that can not keep their mouth shut.

  • JDavidS

    Limbaugh is little more than a fat, misogynistic pig. But, say what you want about ole Newt the nut… I would like to see him run for the RepubliCON nomination again. Last time around he served up comedic gold. Witness his “We will colonize the moon” comment. Pure comedy gold…Run Newt Run… America needs to laugh!

    • idamag

      I loved Newt’s campaign.

    • Sand_Cat

      The only problem is, some day he might WIN.

  • daniel bostdorf

    I agree with Bernstein when he concludes that: “it’s mostly a combination of historical accident and contingency (it’s
    easy to imagine an alternate history in which a more institutionally
    minded Representative Trent Lott becomes Speaker of the House in 1995
    and Newt Gingrich remains an obscure back-bencher). That has produced a
    group of Republicans who have serious problems functioning as a
    governing party, even when their leaders are as well suited to their
    tasks as House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch

    But he is forgeting the third players in this: Koch brothers. This is an issue that should be titled :
    “Newt, Rush and Koch ate triple towers of dysfunction.

    It is important to be reminded that it is no secret that money is the root of all political evil though out history. Koch brothers and its master propagandist Karl Rove (and entire extreme right wing media led by Limbaugh) have taken this to a dangerous level of fascism.

    Koch brother have long ties to extreme fascistic conservative groups for 3 decades….For example, a little-known group called Freedom Partners with strong connections to the brothers came forward in September 2013 as the primary money source of nearly a 1/4 billion dollars given to a wide variety of right wing fanatic conservative political groups in 2012.

    Kochs back Americans for Prosperity,. Most notably this group launched a campaign against a Republican lawmaker who expressed openness to expanding Medicaid in his state under the Affordable Care Act.

    Here is a link to the national debate about the Koch Brothers that is a must read:

    This is a triple tower prolem, not twin…

    • idamag

      Watch the documentary, “Koch Brothers Exposed.” They are giving huge sums of money to colleges with strings attached. They are buying up media all over the country.

    • mikem42

      Good and informative post. And of course, the Koch brothers father was an original Birch Society member, and they were certifiably insane where it came to fairness, democracy and the American way.

    • terry b

      Wow! You are good as well as correct in your entire post. Just though you should know (like you don’t already). Have a great week and keep up this good stuff.

  • howa4x

    Newt actually created a 25 word list to use in elections against democrats. These words were inflammatory and accusatory and immediately put opponents on the defensive. When he was speaker he was defrocked by his own house for committing deeds unworthy and quasi criminal. He had few supporters because he made everything about himself and took all the credit. His shutdown was the republican debacle. Sound familiar? Cruz is his reincarnation. Newt after that preformed the role of the Joker, not taken seriously but good for some quotes. He had 3 wives and the first was let go during sickness.
    Rush is a demagogue who owns the mic. He finds it easy to criticize but hard to formulate coherent policy. He too uses the destructive insult, and because none can challenge him on the show he gets away with it. He has had 4 wives and no children so he is not the one to talk morality and was convicted buying Oxy. BTW he had an illegal Latino house cleaner.
    Neither of these two ever had anything to do with policy making. This is why the current Republicans can dish out the demonization but can’t come up with alternatives. They can repeal Obama/Romney care but can’t find and alternative policy that the public would embrace. This is why Cruz throws around charges and pushed republicans over the cliff and now denies his involvement
    This is the legacy of both men. Unleashing the forces of darkness but never constructing anything the public would actually like and why the tealiban is now reviled by the general public.

  • DezJimmar

    I consider Fox News the biggest terrorist group operating in America today. They employ verbal bombs to blow up s**t everyday. Their tactics result in fear and hysteria and dysfunction. Isn’t that the goal of America’s enemies?

    • daniel bostdorf

      yep—and it is organized Koch brothers/Karl Rove propaganda disseminated at Fox Faux News and other sycophant mouths…This “playbook” by Rove and others is nothing new. Fascists need to create imaginary enemies. They play off the 6th grade education and racism of their fanatic followers who are conveniently in a depression era economy created by Bush and Wall Street/big bank greed.

      Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

      The 1930’s had the Brown Shirts.
The 1950’s had Joseph McCarthy.
The 1980’s had Ronald Reagan.
The late 1990’s & early 2000’s had both George Bushes JR…

      Today we have The GOP/Teaparty/Libertarian and the “red shirts.”

The American Right invented it’s imaginary Obama to try and get us to buy into their fascism.

      • idamag

        And Foxy Newy said, to Chicken Little, Turkey Lurky, and Goosie Loosie, “Follow me and I shall take you to see the king. When Chicken Little felt a bump on the head and asked what it was, Charlsie Larlsie and David Lavid whispered “The sky is falling.” Then they hurried to Foxy Newsie and said, “They’re on the way.

  • ExRadioGuy15

    There’s no doubt that the Republican Party are Fascists, which leads to a new acronym I’ve developed to help explain how the party went from being the Party of Abe, Teddy and Ike to the Party of Nixon, Reagan and Bush 43: FOT—that stands for Fascism, Oligarchy and Theocracy. Fascists use a propaganda campaign to be successful in establishing the other acronym I’ve recently developed: FICD—which stands for fear, ignorance and cognitive dissonance.
    As well all know, there are three stripes of GOPers these days: Progressives/ Moderates, “Cons” (Conservatives) and “Teahadists” (Tea Party Militia members)… Despite what most people think, the “Progs”/”Mods” actually make up the majority of the voters of the party, somewhere around 65%. You expect the Cons and Teahadists to suffer from FICD. But, the Progs and Mods, who should know better, also suffer from it and keep voting against their own best interests and for the Cons and Teahadists. What’s even worse is the fact that over 90% of the elected Republicans in office across this country are Cons or Teahadists. If the Progs and Mods ever get over their FICD and realize that the Cons and Teahadists are all about FOT, the Republican Party will die a deserved and messy death. Or, at the very least, they can chase out the Cons and Teahadists by voting for today’s true version of GOP Progressives and Moderates of yesteryear, that group of people called “Democrats”.
    If you don’t believe that last sentence is true, take a look at the Republican Party platform of 1956—it looks suspiciously like the Democratic Party platform of 2012. Meanwhile, the Libertarian Party platform of 1980 closely resembles the 2012 GOP platform…do you own research, people—you’ll see that it’s true.

    • daniel bostdorf

      Ok—where do Newt and Rush fit in? The “twin towers of dysfunction? What does their collective dysfunctional thinking relate to party platforms of 1956 that look like democratic ones? And Libertarians of 1980 to 2012 platform?

      The article has nothing to do with this…

      FOT does not seem disfunctional. It is organized and deliberate. FIDC is about the American people’s complacency.

      Would Newt and Rush in their dysfunctional relationship agree with your anachronisms? NO…

      So—the article’s main point is about polarization:

      “The trouble with Washington isn’t that the parties are each internally
      cohesive or that Democrats are too liberal or Republicans too
      conservative. The problem resides in a Republican Party that too often
      treats hostility to compromise as an end in itself, and that has come to
      value destroying opponents more than enacting its public policy

      So—the article’s other main point is :

      “There’s nothing unique to conservative thought about the situation. As
      far as I can tell, it’s mostly a combination of historical accident and
      contingency (it’s easy to imagine an alternate history in which a more
      institutionally minded Representative Trent Lott becomes Speaker of the House in 1995 and Newt Gingrich remains an obscure back-bencher). That has produced a group of Republicans who have serious problems functioning as a governing party, even when their leaders are as well suited to their tasks as House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.”

      So—do you think that Newt and Rush are twin towers of destruction and the GOP has serious prolems functioning as a governing party?

      Do you have an opinion based on this article, not your anachronisms?

      • ExRadioGuy15

        Ok, Daniel…have you read the definitive article about Fascism, written by Laurence Britt for the Spring 2003 edition of Free Inquiry magazine, called “Fascism anyone? The fourteen defining characteristics of Fascism”?
        If you have and have grey matter between your ears, you’d have realized that the GOP are Fascists….big-time Fascists.
        How Pig Newton Swingrich and Rushie Righttard fit in is simple: PNS, as a former GOP politician and now Fascist GOP talking head, supported the fact that the GOP are Fascists through his actions as Speaker of the House from 1995-1999. These days, as a media member, he joins with Rushie as part of the GOP’s Fascist propaganda campaign. So, yes: the two of them are definitely “poster boys” for Republican Fascism….only your FICD (Fear, ignorance and cognitive dissonance) disallows you from seeing these sad facts. Your FICD also, apparently, leads you to deny the GOP’s FOT (Fascism, Oligarcy, Theocracy) philosophies.
        Sadly, Daniel, you missed the point of the article altogether by claiming that I missed the point of the article. It’s a shame that you’re not intelligent enough to realize, as I wrote above, that PNS and Rushie are poster boys for the Fascist GOP, therefore, it’s completely correct to call them the “Twin Towers of Dysfunction”. The acronyms are completely correct about the Republican Party and their voters: Fascism, Oligarchy, Theocracy. Fear, ignorance & Cognitive Dissonance.
        BTW, Daniel: do you realize that the white male Con power structure of the party consider everyone in the party UNLIKE them (women, minorities, Moderates, Progressives, “Libertarians” etc.) to be “Useful Idiots”? Yes….that fact was confirmed by none other than “Turdblossom” (Karl Rove) himself one night in an appearance on Fox “News”. Fox “News” is the TV propaganda arm of the GOP. So, Daniel, unless you’re a white male Con, how does it feel that your political party considers you a “Useful Idiot”? I’m a Non-Affiliated voter and haven’t been a member of a political party in two dozen years. There’s no way I’d be a part of a political party that considers me a “Useful Idiot”…why would you, Daniel? ssmdh

  • daniel bostdorf

    Distilling the article’s premise: Do you think that Newt and Rush are twin towers of destruction and the GOP has serious problems functioning as a governing party?

    Distracting off topic posters need not answer…

  • Payton Manning

    The notion that equality somehow depends upon the unequal treatment of unique individuals is one of the main intellectual frauds perpetrated by the quacks and charlatans who preach from collectivism’s altar.