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The New York Times on Wyoming's pro-ignorance legislation... Frank Bruni waves a hanky over all those still flustered by Michael Sam's televised kiss... Ross Douthat admits that the evil the Tea Party has done may live after them... Scott Martelle on Memorial Day... but first...

Phillip Howard on why gridlock seems ever gridlockier

It’s time to stop taking Washington seriously. How likely is it that Congress will deal with unsustainable deficits, climate change, decrepit infrastructure, unaffordable health care, muddled immigration policy, obsolete laws, unmanageable civil service, rigged electoral districts . . . ? The list of failures of our democratic government is getting long. Responsible reform seems hopeless.

But hopelessness, it turns out, has its own political arc. Most change comes not incrementally, but in large gulps after long periods of inertia, according to political scientists Frank Baumgartner and Bryan Jones. It may look like nothing will ever change, but the pressures keep building until, all at once, like the “stick-slip” phenomenon of earthquakes, the ground gives way and a new order evolves.

Revolutions occur this way. In the United States, most major changes in social policy have occurred in tectonic shifts after pressures built up for decades, such as in the 1960s (civil rights), in the progressive era (regulation) or during the Civil War (ending slavery). The New Deal (social safety nets) differed only in that pressures of the Great Depression were more immediate. ...

What’s the new philosophy of how democracy should work? A laundry list of specific reforms is unlikely to galvanize a public movement. All the reform periods in U.S. history had a clear goal with a moral high ground, such as ending laissez faire or segregation. The major overhaul needed today also requires a clear goal that citizens can understand and get behind.

What’s gone wrong with modern democracy? Polarized politics is one villain. The rise of political extremism is apparent.

But why is it happening?

I think we have it backward. Polarization is mainly a symptom, not the cause, of paralysis. Democracy has become powerless. Politicians who are impotent have no way to compete except by pointing fingers.

The main culprit, ironically, is law. Generations of lawmakers and regulators have written so much law, in such detail, that officials are barred from acting sensibly. Like sediment in the harbor, law has piled up until it is almost impossible — indeed, illegal — for officials to make choices needed for government to get where it needs to go.

But the size of the law itself can also be seen is just another symptom of polarization. Canada's Health Act, establishing a full national system of healthcare, is much (much) smaller than the Affordable Care Act. The same is true of similar bills in many countries. Why is that? Because most countries trust to the experts to define the details of how a bill is applied. In the US, rife with idiocy like talk of "death panels" and deliberate efforts to terrify people about what may be "hiding" in a bill, there's a tendency to try and cover every possibility in the initial legislation, leaving nothing to the interpretations of bureaucrats we've been taught to hate. The result is massive, inflexible legislation much of which contains many more contradictions and issues than would be generated by simpler bills.

But whatever order of events you blame, there's little doubt about the outcome.

Recently the White House issued a five-year report on the $800 billion stimulus plan from 2009. Part of the original goal, as President Obama announced then, was to “rebuild America’s infrastructure.” So how much of that huge stimulus went to this worthwhile goal? Buried in the fine print of the report is this fact — barely 3 percent went to transportation infrastructure.

Why? The president of the United States lacks the power to approve the rebuilding of decrepit bridges and roads. In the New Deal, by contrast, Harry Hopkins had employed 2.6 million people two months after he was named head of the new Civilian Works Administration.

When you have one of two major parties devoted to the idea that government can't be allowed to operate effectively, it's hard to blame anything beyond the people who vote for them. Still, this is your read-it-all-then-think-up-a-solution assignment for the morning.

Then come in and see what else is up in punditry...

Scott Martelle suggests were's paying honor to the wrong thing.

What a society chooses to memorialize says a lot about what it values, which is worth contemplating this weekend as the nation recognizes the sacrifices of military men and women who died in service to their country.

The history of Memorial Day is important. America's first widespread celebration of the occasion — it was called Decoration Day — came three years after the end of the Civil War, when former Union Gen. John Logan sought to broaden earlier local efforts into a national campaign to decorate the graves of the war dead.

There were a lot of graves to decorate. At least 620,000 (mostly) men in uniform died of wounds and disease during the four-year Civil War. That accounts for nearly half of the nation's military deaths from all wars combined, a sacrifice of American blood that demanded acknowledgment, and reflection.

It was a horrendous war, claiming about 2.5% of the population, a rate that if extrapolated to current times would amount to more than 6 million war dead.

... we are conflicted. We yearn for peace while honoring the sacrifices made in war and memorializing those who risked or sacrificed their lives while serving their countries.

Martelle's final question: what if we had a day to celebrate peace?

The New York Times joins the chorus of those calling for an end to locking up more people than live in many countries.

For more than a decade, researchers across multiple disciplines have been issuing reports on the widespread societal and economic damage caused by America’s now-40-year experiment in locking up vast numbers of its citizens. If there is any remaining disagreement about the destructiveness of this experiment, it mirrors the so-called debate over climate change.

In both cases, overwhelming evidence shows a crisis that threatens society as a whole. In both cases, those who study the problem have called for immediate correction.

Several recent reports provide some of the most comprehensive and compelling proof yet that the United States “has gone past the point where the numbers of people in prison can be justified by social benefits,” and that mass incarceration itself is “a source of injustice.”

We've tipped the point of using punishment as a detriment to crime, and long since sailed right into the level where our "justice system" is actually the source of much crime.

Frank Bruni on the kiss heard round the sports world.

A kiss is nothing. On the sidewalks, in the park, I see one every few minutes, a real kiss, lip to lip. It barely registers. It’s as unremarkable as a car horn in traffic, as an umbrella in rain.

And yet a kiss is everything. A kiss can stop the world.

The football player Michael Sam recently demonstrated as much. So did my experience last Sunday, in a Broadway theater, of all places.


Maybe marriage isn't the dividing line between equality and inequality, between getting full, reflexive acceptance from the world and getting a piecemeal, willed respect. Maybe that border is traced with kisses...

Actually, I think the border is drawn between the people who smile when they see these kisses, and those who gasp.

Ross Douthat reads a Tea-bituary.

The Tea Party is finished: smashed, at last, by the power and dollars of the Republican establishment, whose candidates — including Mitch McConnell, the most establishment Republican of all — easily turned back right-wing primary challengers last week.

No, the Tea Party has won: There simply isn't that much difference between an establishment Republican and a Tea Party Republican anymore, and if grass-roots challengers are losing more races it's because they've succeeded in yanking the party far enough to the right that there isn't any space for them to fill.

These are the two narratives that swirled around the G.O.P. after last Tuesday’s primaries, and both contain a measure of truth. But there’s a third way to look at the State of the Tea Party, circa 2014, which is that the movement’s political legacy still has a big To Be Determined sticker on it. ...

Thus Paul Ryan’s green-eyeshaded Medicare blueprints and Herman Cain’s fanciful 9-9-9 plan were both “Tea Party” phenomena. Likewise Glenn Beck’s conspiracy-scrawled blackboards and his teary, apolitical Washington Mall consciousness-raising. Likewise Ron Paul’s and Rick Santorum’s presidential campaigns, in which two ideologically dissimilar Republican politicians both claimed a “Tea Party” mantle.

Saying Glenn Beck's Washington performance was "apolitical" may be more nuts than anything to come from the Tea Party. It's still a question as to whether the Tea Party won. Here's something that's not in doubt: the Republican Party lost.

Daniel Schulman says forget the Tea Party, the GOP has a savior. Make that two saviors.

Recently, no less a Republican Party icon than Karl Rove canonized Charles and David Koch: “Bless them for all they do,” he wrote in Time magazine.

Rove’s blessing is the clearest sign yet that the brothers have been granted admission to the inner sanctum of Republican power. Yet for many years the Kochs were enemies of the GOP, whose political primacy they challenged through the libertarian movement. Writing in 1978 in a magazine he owned called Libertarian Review, Charles Koch called the GOP “the party of ‘business’ in the wors[t] sense” and blasted Republicans for advancing a doomed strategy that “has failed so miserably.”

... the Koch brothers, thanks to their sprawling political and fundraising network, are the toast of the GOP, while Democrats have taken up the cause of demonizing them, even placing them at the center of their midterm election strategy. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) recently suggested that Senate Republicans should “wear Koch insignias to denote their sponsorship.” The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, meanwhile, has rolled out a Web site proclaiming that the “GOP is addicted to Koch.” ... For a party undergoing an identity crisis, a Koch-style makeover may not be such a bad thing.

See, only the radical Kochs can save the GOP from the crazies of the Tea Party... which was created by the radical Kochs. So, praise Koch.

The New York Times editorial board winces over new pro-ignorance laws in Wyoming.

The year has already produced three alarming reports involving climate change. ...

Despite all this, many leading politicians continue to dispute the science and resist any effort to regulate and reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas. Among the prominent deniers are two Floridians — Senator Marco Rubio and Gov. Rick Scott — whose state is greatly at risk from even modest and relatively short-term increases in sea levels.

Some of this is to be expected in a political season, when politicians will do almost anything to prey on the public’s fear of job losses. What is truly depressing is the news that Wyoming’s State Legislature has become the first in the nation to reject the new national science standards for schools, standards that include instruction on the human contribution to climate change.

Hey, give Wyoming some credit! There's a good chance that it's not just climate change denialism. It's also evolution denialism.

Science Daily presents a Top Ten List you don't have to stay up late to read.

An appealing carnivorous mammal, a 12-meter-tall tree that has been hiding in plain sight and a sea anemone that lives under an Antarctic glacier are among the species identified by the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry's (ESF) International Institute for Species Exploration (IISE) as the top 10 species discovered last year.

An international committee of taxonomists and related experts selected the top 10 from among the approximately 18,000 new species named during the previous year and released the list May 22 to coincide with the birthday, May 23, of Carolus Linnaeus, an 18th century Swedish botanist who is considered the father of modern taxonomy.

The list includes ... a miniscule skeleton shrimp from Santa Catalina Island in California, ... a clean room microbe that could be a hazard during space travel ... a teensy fringed fairyfly named Tinkerbell ... a gecko that fades into the background in its native Australia ... Crawling slowly into the final spot on the alphabetical list is Zospeum tholussum, a tiny, translucent Croatian snail from one of earth's deepest cave systems.

18,000 new species sounds like quite a haul, until you realize that there were likely a similar number of species that disappeared last year, many of them before we had ever identified them.
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Comment Preferences

  •  The problem with the Times editorial (55+ / 0-)

    on Wyoming is that it blames the state legislature rather than the real culprit -- a Republican Party that, solely for ideological reasons, is anti-science, anti-truth, anti-reality.  It is long since past time that the GOP elephant mascot be replaced by a symbol which truly represents the party -- the ostrich.

    Rush — the quivering rage heap who is apparently desperately trying to extinguish any remaining molecule of humanity that might still reside in the Chernobyl-esque Superfund cleanup site that was his soul. -- Jon Stewart

    by Its the Supreme Court Stupid on Sun May 25, 2014 at 04:17:41 AM PDT

  •  Sorry, you can't blame the lack of a CPA on Repubs (12+ / 0-)

    The Democrats in 2009 were more interested in saving banks than creating a government workforce to rebuild infrastructure.

    Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations. - George Orwell

    by Wayward Son on Sun May 25, 2014 at 04:20:17 AM PDT

    •  Exactly.. if the banks and their investors (8+ / 0-)

      had been held accountable for the disaster they brought upon us, we would have been out of this slump in a year or two.

      The whole idea of investment capitalism is that risky behavior brings with it the chance of failure.

      The banks and investment houses should have been dissolved and sold off for pennies on the dollar - which is exactly what they were worth.  Mortgages should have been adjusted downward to reflect the home values.

      And we would be done.  But this administration did everything it could to make the banks whole and to make sure not one executive loss dollar one.  And Geithner, the architect, is out selling books touting what a wonderful job they did.

      •  Allowing what had become (8+ / 0-)

        40% of our economy to collapse would have been unproductive and created an actual depression, rather than the deep recession we found ourselves in.
        To think we could have crawled out of that in one or two years, especially allowing for the idiotic Republican majority in the House, is simply being ignorant of the facts.

        Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

        by skohayes on Sun May 25, 2014 at 06:04:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Dems were the majority (7+ / 0-)

          until 2011..

          The point is, the banks should have taken some kind of hit.

          At the very least, they should have been forced into reorganization.  And also, at the very least, the CEO's and  heads of the departments that allowed this shit should have been bankrupted personally and charged criminally.

          And, the banks should have been forced to split the investment and commercial divisions.

          None of this was done.  None.

          •  Then you should address that (0+ / 0-)

            with the obstructionist Republican senators who watered down Dodd-Frank to the point that it's almost worthless.

            Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

            by skohayes on Sun May 25, 2014 at 08:08:26 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Democrat majority. House. Senate. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Wayward Son

              Are you being purposely dense?  The Dems held the House and the Senate with a nearly filibuster-proof majority.

              Oh but wait.. The GOP made me do it!!

              Good God.  The apologists for that Congress will never face reality.

              •  Nearly filibuster proof (0+ / 0-)

                is NOT filibuster proof, is it?
                 We had 60 Senators for a total of 6 weeks in the Obama's first 2 years.
                Try again.

                Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

                by skohayes on Sun May 25, 2014 at 03:41:21 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  New Senate, new rules. (0+ / 0-)

                  The Democrats chose to keep the filibuster, and our country paid the price.  But it was worth it, right?

                  Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations. - George Orwell

                  by Wayward Son on Sun May 25, 2014 at 05:32:32 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Completely separate argument (0+ / 0-)

                    than whether Dems had a filibuster proof majority the first two years of Obama's presidency.

                    Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

                    by skohayes on Mon May 26, 2014 at 03:23:41 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  They had a filibuster proof majority.. 51. (0+ / 0-)

                      New Senate, new rules.

                      Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations. - George Orwell

                      by Wayward Son on Mon May 26, 2014 at 04:08:31 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  51 is not a filibuster proof majority (0+ / 0-)

                        51 is a simple majority.

                        Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

                        by skohayes on Mon May 26, 2014 at 07:18:04 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Tell me you're just pretending not to understand. (0+ / 0-)

                          I'll explain if I have to, but I just have to believe you're trying to avoid losing the argument by delaying tactics.

                          Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations. - George Orwell

                          by Wayward Son on Mon May 26, 2014 at 03:34:08 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  I'll pretend you're just being obtuse (0+ / 0-)
                            The filibuster is a powerful parliamentary device in the United States Senate, which was strengthened in 1975[48] and in the past decade has come to mean that most major legislation (apart from budgets) requires a 60% vote to bring a bill or nomination to the floor for a vote. In recent years, the majority has preferred to avoid filibusters by moving to other business when a filibuster is threatened and attempts to achieve cloture have failed.
                            On November 21, 2013, the Senate voted, in a 52 to 48 vote, to require only a majority vote to end a filibuster of certain executive and judicial nominees, not including Supreme Court nominees, rather than the 3/5 of votes previously required. A 3/5 supermajority is still required to end filibusters unrelated to those nominees.

                            Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

                            by skohayes on Mon May 26, 2014 at 04:20:36 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  How many votes would it have taken in 2009.. (0+ / 0-)

                   change the rules on filibusters?  (Hint:  the answer is indicated by your second wikipedia blockquote).

                            If it takes X votes to stop requiring 60 votes to pass legislation, then it only takes X votes to pass legislation.  

                            If that's a new concept to anyone, this is a sad day for the educational system that taught them.

                            Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations. - George Orwell

                            by Wayward Son on Thu May 29, 2014 at 07:59:04 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

    •  Really? Were we in the same country in 2008? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ybruti, flavor411, essjay, Ohkwai

      In 2008 as the financiers were bankrupting and the Bush secretary of the treasury shored up banks by having the solvent eat the insolvent AND giving them as much money as they would take, all before January 22, 2009 when President Obama was inaugurated. Subsequent money was eaten up like restoring an old house when you find rot in the foundation after you already put more money into it than the value of the house. Me? I would have let the financial institutions slide to the bottom, put a TARP over the people and built from the bottom up by making sure that the people wouldn't go under. Unfortunately, politicians don't ask real people who live in the bottom half how life really works.
      The problem is the rich people are in charge, not because they are smart but because they inherited wealth.
      (We need to reinstate estate taxes starting at a million $$, taking half and taking 90% at a billion. That would fix inequality, debt reduction  and fund education.)
      Ever notice that the financial poop hit the fan when estate taxes were stopped?

      •  Half the bailout was under Obama (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        and nearly all of dealing with the regulatory changes were under the Obama admin.

      •  No, Obama should have nationalized those banks (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        GreatLakeSailor, essjay, tb mare, gmats

        And ripped the financial investment part out, recapitalized the commercial side, and put the Masters of the Universe ether under investigation or underneath other specialists to bail out home mortgages as much as possible. Recapitalize those commercial banks and sell them off within a couple of months, a fairly routine course for failed banks. Even if it meant suggesting that those golden boys on Wall St. use their substantial personal fortunes to assist in the effort in exchange for some immunity. That would have limited crazy hedge fund adventures for at least a generation if the penalties were that high.

        And if he'd only been a realist Obama would have known that no bipartisan effort with the GOP was going to help.

    •  The wasted (0+ / 0-)

      opportunities of the first two years of the administration and the disgusting place the Senate will make for a good ballad

    •  The anemic stimulus was Obama's first failure in (0+ / 0-)

      that 1/3 went to tax breaks to appease the Repubs. Unfortunately, assuming he didn't agree with the Repubs about spending, he didn't learn from it.

      The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell

      by accumbens on Sun May 25, 2014 at 07:44:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This turns out not to be the case (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jeff Simpson

      I'm trying to be polite, but it isn't working. Your statement is total nonsense.

      It is true that President Obama prenegotiated with himself and did not ask Republicans for all that he wanted, but it was Republican intransigence that forced tax cuts and scuttled infrastructure spending in the bill, and prevented even the discussion of any further stimulus since.

      Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

      by Mokurai on Sun May 25, 2014 at 10:38:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Democrats were negotiating with themselves.. (0+ / 0-)

        ..for two years.  You can blame it on Lieberman and the blue dogs, if you wish, but blaming it on Republicans just indicates a willful inability to remember the political situation after the 2008 elections.

        Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations. - George Orwell

        by Wayward Son on Sun May 25, 2014 at 05:30:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Science trumps myth of unregulated free market (16+ / 0-)

    teaching us what is real and what we can do about it. The science of anthropogenic climate change is based on measuring observable phenomena then forming hypothesis's and theories. The myth of the unregluated free market saving our planet from floods and extinctions and worse is based on the belief that pursuing profit will always lead to the best outcome for biological systems. Free marketers are basically promising us that if we buy a lot of snake oil it really will cure the heart break of psoriasis.

    In the June 5 issue of Rolling Stone Bill McKibben of suggests a massive demonstration in NYC this September to coincide with a United Nations meeting of the world's leaders on climate change. These leaders have been pathetic in their lack of courage on this issue. The last big series of demonstrations in NYC was Occupy which helped focus people on income inequality, poverty, corporatism and the lack of leadership by our leaders.

    God willing and the river don't rise I will be there and hope you will be as well.


    •  That simplistic belief in "free market" solving (13+ / 0-)

      all was reflected in my previous sig line. Here is my note made on return from that ticket about fifteen years ago:

      Thought jotted down in Porto on back of bus ticket as I thought of how well these cities are integrated in transport and so many other respects for public life--even though Portugal is the "poor man" of Western Europe:
      Expecting pure free enterprise to serve a population is like expecting a garden to feed a family by simply throwing out bags of seed onto the ground. Too many of the good things will be stamped out by vigorous weeds.
      That was back when paper was used instead of smart chip cards and such that I now see over that way. I was thinking of public transportation and other changes that had changed that country from what I knew under an antiquated dictatorship to one that in certain areas of infrastructure making our on nation's capital look second world.

      For example, I'd seen entire 18th century streets and even parks lifted out, excavated to 20 feet or more with bridges for pedestrians and islands for trees and statues as multicolored conduits were installed; conduits from several inches in diameter for fiber high speed communications to person walkable sized for sewer and water. Maintainability had been planned. Replacement could be made in the conduits through accesses to street level, unlike the recent digging of the grass between sidewalk and street in front of my house twice in one year by rival cable/communications providers.

      Nah, you have to plan and tend a garden or farm—else we are those early hunter gatherers finding we can collect and throw out some seeds and maybe get a few edibles at the dawn of agriculture. That is what the free market fanatics, ideologues of the right are making.

      As a note, recent trips to that area show our infrastructure increasing the relative gap. If they blew money over the last decade it at least went into something lasting and not wars of choice.

      The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

      by pelagicray on Sun May 25, 2014 at 05:07:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  nice comment.... (9+ / 0-)

        folks here in WV are reluctant to link climate change to anything because it might devastate a way of life that leads to shorter lives, poor health a, loss of clean water and poverty.  Planning ahead, folks told them the easy coal would run out in 20 years and now that the plan is coming true, they act like no one but "Obama's EPA" had anything to do with it.

        You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

        by murrayewv on Sun May 25, 2014 at 05:50:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  like the tag line. and your observations. n/t (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rl en france, pelagicray
        •  It was my original here. Changed during the Bush (4+ / 0-)

          post 9/11 madness when another of my old "notes to self" computer saves from the approach to a new year, December 2002, was:

          Isn't it strange that with flag waving, "crying eagle" patriotism rampant and people talking so much about preserving freedom for a legitimate effort to curtail terrorism that we see such a mad rush in our legislatures and executive departments to dismiss long held civil liberties as being irrelevant after September? Have our citizens become so soft, so self interested in "safety" they are willing to act contrary to all our cherished principles; making them nothing more than a national myth?

          The only reason the world is more dangerous today than on September 10 is that self satisfied and unaware people got a terrible shock. It always could happen here. They were just asleep. Many were more interested in "reality shows" than reality and far to lazy to pay attention to news of it.

          The threat is as of cancer. The threat is there, it never sleeps, you are not immune, you take precautions -- but life continues without sacrificing essential character. Much of the rest of the industrial world has learned to live with the threat without obsession and without sacrificing core national character.

          "They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." (Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759, motto.)

          The coalescing of the rabid free marketers with the rabid faux freedom jackasses of the immediate post 9/11 days was to this old Cold War type the triumph of pure foolishness to the possible destruction of all progress as a nation.

          Flashback! I remember one of the triggers to that note. Someone in the general neighborhood spent several months of the late summer and fall racing through the streets in a pickup with two of those little flag holders over the cab windows and a big flag anchored in the bed. Jackass did 40 in 20 zones, honked his horn and otherwise displayed his "patriotism" as the most flamboyant member of the flag mania bunch. Saw one a few years ago with two stubs of filthy flags, worn to frayed edges down into the blue field. Had his yellow license plates, the one with the snake. Yeah, fucking "patriots" my ass.

          The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

          by pelagicray on Sun May 25, 2014 at 06:24:08 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  we have become Rome (25+ / 0-)

    A dysfunctional Republic where office goes to the highest bidder, where the interests of the aristocracy reign supreme and where "elections" are a farce at best, where militarism is the only glue holding us together and the military is the only viable economic option for many people, where the costs of military domination cripple the ability of society to deal with its internal stresses, where stark economic inequality permeates the entire society.

    All we lack now is our Sulla, followed by our Caesars.


    In the end, reality always wins.

    by Lenny Flank on Sun May 25, 2014 at 04:40:10 AM PDT

    •  Don't have to go nearly that far back. Just to (8+ / 0-)

      the mid 18th century in the "mother country" where politics under the king looked all too familiar as I observed yesterday.

      The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

      by pelagicray on Sun May 25, 2014 at 04:50:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  So true. (18+ / 0-)

      I was just looking at chart, that to me is the very definition of big time, batshit crazy, paranoid, narcissistic, psychopathic mental illness.

      But, Rome works, too:

      •  As a percentage of GDP, we spend about what Russia (9+ / 0-)

        spends. And they dont project nearly as much military power abroad as we do. We could cut our expenditure in half and still we'd be the greatest military power by this measure. But it does mean we will have to close a lot of bases and worry much less about projecting power around the world.

        Which im quite happy to do even if the rest of the world goes to hell. We need to mind our own business.

        •  The U.S. has spent the decades since WWII (4+ / 0-)

          fostering worldwide dependence on the U.S. for protection of the needs of big business - keeping the sea lanes open for commercial transportation, particularly for oil, and disempowering or eliminating foreign governments that threaten capitalism.

          Giving up even part of the ability to facilitate global commerce through military might has never been part of future planning in this country, and that's not likely to change considering we have now positioned ourselves to be the only country capable of such control.  Also, the rest of the world is more than willing to let us exert such control so they don't have to address global problems by pledging their own blood and treasure more than minimally.

          "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing" - Edmund Burke

          by SueDe on Sun May 25, 2014 at 06:35:13 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  when the Brits lost their position of world (5+ / 0-)

          dominance in the 1940's, it was at least partly voluntary--they realized that the costs of maintaining empire were far outweighing the benefits, and they stepped aside more or less gracefully and handed the keys to us. (And are now better off for it.)

          Today, we too are facing our decline and collapse as the dominant world power, but alas I fear that, unlike Britain, we will not go quietly.  We'll need to be dragged offstage, kicking and screaming and biting and taking half of the audience out along with us. But in the end, we can no more prevail than the British did. It may be China, it may be India, it may even be Indonesia, but the 21st century will be Asia's, just as the 19th century was Europe's and the 20th century was North America's.

          Our time in the sun is over.

          In the end, reality always wins.

          by Lenny Flank on Sun May 25, 2014 at 06:53:43 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The international corps need their client state (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Lenny Flank, GreatLakeSailor

            The Brits were able to abdicate because we were there to pick up the role.

            Wouldn't it be ironic if the next all-powerful lacky of corporate interests turned out to be "Red" China?

            •  no, they no longer do (0+ / 0-)

              Corporations have now grown beyond "nations". They no longer have any national borders or national interests, they are far larger, richer and more powerful than national governments, and they no longer need any national government to protect them. Indeed they already have an international body--the WTO--which they built themselves to protect them, and which already has veto power over any national government, even ours.

              The very notion of the economic "nation-state" is now an outdated and anachronistic relic of a bygone era. There is no such thing any more as an economic "nation". And the political sphere will inevitably come to reflect that as well.

              It's not the 1950's anymore.  It's not even the 1990's any more.

              In the end, reality always wins.

              by Lenny Flank on Sun May 25, 2014 at 07:29:32 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  as for China . . . . (0+ / 0-)

              China can, itself, be best described as a corporation with an army. It has its own Board of Directors (the Communist Party), and its own CEO (the head of state). In structure, outlook and actions, China is virtually indistinguishable from any other global corporation.

              And ironically the opposite is also true--since the People's Liberation Army itself is the owner of many companies and enterprises in China, it can also be viewed as an army with a corporation.

              In the end, reality always wins.

              by Lenny Flank on Sun May 25, 2014 at 07:34:22 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Military spending is not for protecting GDP (0+ / 0-)

          It's for protecting people or territory (nominally -- it also protects the military establishment). On those bases, Russia spends much less than we do and so projects much less extra-territorially. Except in Ukraine.

          If you don't know where you're going, any road will do.

          by exregis on Sun May 25, 2014 at 07:14:10 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Next it'll be 'Under Penalty of Death'..... (0+ / 0-)
  •  I think American democracy is working fine. (8+ / 0-)

    The reason there is gridlock is beause the American people are quite naturally divided. The poitics of our time is a pure reflection of the people themselves. The people are opposed to each other so it only makes sense that the politicians are.

    More or less, the politicians are doing their jobs, reflecting the divided views of the people and finding ways to keep the nation functional at minimum. It is a myth, for example, that you could sit me down Cliven Bundy and we'd be able to reach a compromise. As far as im concerned, he is a criminal at minimum and more accurately is fomenting insurrection and rebellion. Theres no negotiation between him and me. Luckily the politicians will do the ugly job of managing this sort of thing without making a mess.

    All we need is for one party to become dominant a the result of reaching the breaking point, and find the political unity to impose its authority without consensus and deal with any resistance outside the law harshly. That day of reckoning wil come I am certain. And will come when the age old issue that has dogged America since the founding is dealt with once and for all: the issue of race.

    •  There's a lot of agreement on significant (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      maryabein, timj, rl en france, skohayes, salmo

      issues . . . eg., the American "people" are not divided on minimum wage . . . but still there is a total inability to enact change.  Gridlock is real and it is a reflection of the fact that neither party represents the people.  

      They represent other interests and respond to other interests.

      (And presumably, unless you are wearing a hoodie and they think you look suspicious, you probably won’t get shot dead by mistake.) -- Heather Digby Parton, in an aside.

      by Rikon Snow on Sun May 25, 2014 at 05:07:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I feel confident that the two-party kabuki (3+ / 0-)

      …the polarity of which serves Our Overlords in such an excellent manner, will continue indefinitely. But I do agree about race. The US Constitution was written in the interests of slave-owners. That's why it is so easy for corporations to take over the American plantation.

      •  Yep. But the day will come, if history is a guide. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pluto, rl en france, salmo

        It probably won't be pretty, but nothing lasts forever.

      •  I fully expect the Republicans to implode (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lenny Flank, Calamity Jean

        in the manner of the Federalists, as shown on your graph, leaving the Democrats in charge, as Jefferson's Democratic-Republicans came to be in the one-party Era of Good Feelings. There will follow a split between Progressive and Corporate Democrats, but in the meantime, with the racists, bigots, misogynists, Mammonites and so on out of the way, we should be able to enact many measures that the public already favors, and discuss further possibilities.

        Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

        by Mokurai on Sun May 25, 2014 at 11:00:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  that would leave the 3rd-way Dems as the (0+ / 0-)

          new pro-business party . . . and the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party to form a new liberal party. The only thing holding the Dem party together is that the goppers are even more incompetent.

          Unless the Libertarian party takes over from the imploded Repugs, and we once again have two pro-business parties.

          I am of course adamantly opposed to a single-party state, even if it's my party. Either the goppers MUST be returned to sanity somehow, or they MUST be replaced by another sane party.

          Democracy itself depends on it.

          In the end, reality always wins.

          by Lenny Flank on Sun May 25, 2014 at 11:39:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  John Wayne's 'Green Berets' was on the teevee (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Friend of the court, singe, Hoghead99

    yesterday.....It still sucks.

  •  Political parties make us designed for gridlock. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xanjabu, salmo, SueDe

    If we were to start from scratch all over again, I don't think we'd have the system we have now.  I think we'd have a parliamentary system a lot closer to what Canada has.  The way our government is set up with powers separated as they are, this sort of gridlock was bound to happen.  When you have two parties splitting power and one of them not wanting to be involved with doing anything, everything shuts down.  At least in a parliamentary system, there would always be one group that was in charge, either an outright majority or a coalition of some sort.

    There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not? -Robert F. Kennedy

    by JSCram3254 on Sun May 25, 2014 at 05:23:58 AM PDT

    •  Gridlock is a feature, not a bug (0+ / 0-)

      The Balance of Powers is meant as an impediment to every sort of political rascal. It means that we do not do most things until a significant majority agrees on them, and we do not go round and round like a teetotum every time one side gets to a bare majority. Unlike many states that went Red in 2010.

      Our system could, of course, be significantly improved by increasing democracy and reducing the political power of money, but not by throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

      Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

      by Mokurai on Sun May 25, 2014 at 11:08:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •   "Martelle's final question: what if we had a day (9+ / 0-)

    to celebrate peace?"

    If I remember my history correctly, November 11, "Armistice Day" was exactly that: a celebration of the end of the (First World or Great) war.  In the US, it's since been changed to "Veteran's Day, or a day to celebrate the combatants.  

    •  The two minutes of silence (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marykk, Ednahilda

      The two minutes of silence at 11 am on "Veteran's Day" is a sort of vestigial organ that might possibly serve to remind us of the Armistice that was signed at 11 am.

      But as you say, even that is co-opted to be a moment of silent respect for the war dead, serving more to glorify war than to reflect on its cost. Perhaps, when "Veteran's Day" rolls around again, we could be silent for one of those two minutes out of grieving respect for the death in America of the idea that peace is something worth striving for.

    •  11/11:11 (0+ / 0-)

      In 1918, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day in the eleventh month, the world rejoiced and celebrated.
      After four years of bitter war, an armistice was signed.
      The "war to end all wars" was over.

  •  The ONE Villian (7+ / 0-)

    The ONE single villain causing gridlock described by Philip Howard is that wealthy and corporate interests are allowed to buy the laws and the law-makers that they choose.

    Our elections (and subsequent policies enacted by the government) are now decided by money, not by the votes of the people.

    The one needed reform to correct this problem is to make ALL elections entirely publicly funded.  No politician running for public office should be allowed to receive a gift of private money.

    Once freed from the necessity of pandering to wealthy and corporate interests in order to gain or stay in office, our law-makers will then be able to decide on policy (climate change, health care, energy policy, spending, etc) based on what the politician thinks is most favored by the greatest number of voters (and therefore most likely to get them re-elected).

    "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

    by Hugh Jim Bissell on Sun May 25, 2014 at 05:55:54 AM PDT

    •  While I agree about the money the fact is that an (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      skohayes, ybruti

      alert and aware citizenry cannot easily be "bought." The fact that money can play such a role is a direct result of "citizens" too lazy to vote and too distracted by amusements to pay attention and not fall for the sweet songs monied sound bites buy.

      For anyone not paying attention to the issues and not voting in every election at every level for every office and issue—go look in a mirror to find the real culprit. Say your vote won't count? It might at least counter one of the bought fools falling for the worst crap.

      I've lived too long and seen too many hopes crushed by backsliding as a result of this kind of crap that I've zero tolerance for the "sit this one outters" and "nobody excites me" crowd that shows up even here.

      The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

      by pelagicray on Sun May 25, 2014 at 06:40:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Climate Change or Health Care (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        deha, pelagicray, biloxiblues

        Given that our law-makers write and decide on laws based entirely on what is wanted by the wealthy minority and not what is wanted by the majority of voters, it is easy to see why voters stay away from the polls.

        Think about the issue of climate change, health care, or gun laws.  Notice that regardless of what the public thinks about these issues, the laws get written in accordance to what the wealthy minority pays the congress to enact.

        Were all private financial gifts to law-makers outlawed, and elections entirely funded by tax-payer dollars, law-makers - those that want to stay in office - would start paying very close attention to the wishes/opinions of the majority of voters.

        The fact that voters stay away from voting is a direct result of a system of government that allows wealthy and corporate interests to buy the laws and very law-makers those wealthy interests want - regardless of what voters want.  Small wonder that voters stop voting.  

        "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

        by Hugh Jim Bissell on Sun May 25, 2014 at 07:29:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Nothing changes until we get corporate money (4+ / 0-)

          out of our elections. Nothing.

          Something like the Fairness Doctrine is necessary, too. As pelagicray points out, engaged and informed voters are less easy to bamboozle, and we have a media industry apparently devoted to making sure that ignorance and misinformation abound. Here in Oklahoma, the levels are simply astonishing. A break up of the big media conglomerates would be one of the best things that could happen to this country.

          But it must start with getting corporate money out of the political process.

          A little blue dot in a vast sea of red.

          by deha on Sun May 25, 2014 at 07:40:58 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  but therein lies the Catch-22 . . . (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            deha, biloxiblues

            How do we change the system so it's not dominated by money, when we can't even be a part of the system without bowing to the money . . . ?

            In the end, reality always wins.

            by Lenny Flank on Sun May 25, 2014 at 08:07:05 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yup. It's quite disheartening. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Lenny Flank, biloxiblues

              For my part, I try to subtly and sometimes not so subtly educate those around me as to the importance of voting. My current focus is on my granddaughters and their friends, who are either just now old enough to vote or about to be. Their often unprompted remarks to me about the state of our nation show they're paying at least a little bit of attention and don't like what they see. They can be mobilized. They must be.

              We may not have the national megaphone, but person to person can work. It will take a while, but it can work.


              A little blue dot in a vast sea of red.

              by deha on Sun May 25, 2014 at 08:45:30 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Obama showed us how (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Lenny Flank

              We organize over the Web and change the focus from big corporate political donations to small donations from large numbers of actual people. Then we knock on doors for GOTV.

              Many Democratic politicians have yet to learn these lessons. Adapt or perish. Some do get it, and are teaching others.

              Republican politicians, on the other hand, have lost control of their own campaigns to outside SuperPAC money and Tea Party ideology.

              Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

              by Mokurai on Sun May 25, 2014 at 11:15:47 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  All presently true, but the reason those lawmakers (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          are able to do that bidding of big money is a direct result of citizens refusing to do their civic duty to at the least clean house. We once had, and could have again, representatives that would force laws limiting that cash and carry government. That would force an amendment, if necessary impeach and remove SCOTUS clowns, if that so called "majority" that doesn't want a bought and corrupt government, that wants address of climate change, that wants health care got off its ass in every election down to local councils and actually cleaned house and nurtured good people.

          On that last, you will never get those much dreamed for "best candidates" when anyone paying attention to the prospects knows damned well a fickle public will forget to show up to keep them doing good and a well financed, if totally false, campaign against them will drum up a "majority" of clueless sheep to vote them out. If I recall a Congressman from Florida that made quite an impression as "good" got exactly that treatment. I would be sad and mad, but not surprised at all if Elizabeth Warren doesn't become a victim. Only a glutton for punishment would run in most places with that kind of future. Yet we keep asking for "better candidates" and then abandoning them to go shopping or some such!

          When you boil it down we do get the government we as citizens deserve—even if it is corrupt because enough of us don't do the basics of keeping political house.

          The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

          by pelagicray on Sun May 25, 2014 at 07:59:31 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Or is it the Gerry-Mandering? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Is it the fault of the voters for not voting, or is it the Gerry-mandering.

            We often wonder why voters elect law-makers who appear so obviously looney - the politicians who say evolution is "lies from the pit of hell", or who say scientists only make up stories about climate change.

            Many of these politicians come from heavily gerrymandered districts.  Essentially the district itself is drawn in such a way that it would be impossible to elect a different candidate even if EVERY voter in the district came out on election day.

            "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

            by Hugh Jim Bissell on Sun May 25, 2014 at 09:26:33 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Certainly a factor. Then again, we probably would (0+ / 0-)

              not be as badly gerrymandered out of the House now if the turnout of Obama voters had been as strong the next election. Certainly that is true here in Virginia where I can show the drop off.

              Oh yeah, lots of excuses. Top candidate wasn't "exciting" or "disappointed in Obama" and all sorts of others, but the bottom line is that people did not do their civic duty and abdicated to a more dedicated bunch with hard core ideology to get out there and fight.

              Over the decades I've concluded civics and civic duty are not deeply ingrained, people are fickle and will not treat voting strategically with realization it requires long term dedication to nurture the good and root out the bad over many election cycles. Instant gratification. OBAMA WON! CHANGE! Then disappointment, abandonment and the guy some had visualized as a miracle just became a guy now struggling to get anything done against bitter, even vicious and hateful, opposition in one house of Congress.

              Our voters are too often like a sports team that wins the first half and then wanders off the field to lose the long game. I've got no cure. Neither do I have much patience or kind feelings for those that leave me among the abandoned as I watch a hoped for gain dissolve in failure to carry through. At my age I've seen too many battles won, but wars lost in the fight for a progressive nation.

              The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

              by pelagicray on Sun May 25, 2014 at 10:13:47 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  The Anti-Science Left...or...Redstate Kool-Aid.... (0+ / 0-)
    •  Oh, for crap's sake (3+ / 0-)
      It is the left that does not believe life begins at conception.
      It's not science that defines life that way, either.

      And from the FIRST comment:

      For all we know there is still a question the earth is flat or not as we think it is today.
      TNG wtf photo trekwtf_thumb.jpg

      Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

      by skohayes on Sun May 25, 2014 at 06:40:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  "Life begins at conception" is simply false. (5+ / 0-)

        The egg and the sperm were very much alive before conception. In fact life began some 4 billion YA, and has existed unbroken ever since. True, some very interesting biochemistry takes place after conception, but the notion that conception is somehow special is a strictly religious belief.  

        Primo pro nummata vini [First of all it is to the wine-merchant] (-7.25, -6.21)

        by Tim DeLaney on Sun May 25, 2014 at 09:45:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  "Life begins at conception" is a Dog Whistle (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          skohayes, Calamity Jean, Tim DeLaney

          for the religious belief that the soul is magically placed or created in the fertilized ovum at the moment of penetration by a sperm, apparently even before the two genomes are fused in the nucleus and begin to operate together to start cell division. But in some religions there is no such thing as a soul, in others ensoulment occurs at a different time (quickening or birth, usually), and science has seen nothing even vaguely resembling evidence for such a hypothesis.

          The people putting forth this claim never believed anything remotely like it until it became a convenient political excuse for denying women access not only to abortion services, but to the full range of reproductive health care services, particularly contraception, which would greatly reduce the number of abortions.

          Just as Creation Science and then Intelligent Design did not exist until they became convenient political excuses for rolling back a different Supreme Court decision, the 1968 decision outlawing Creationism in science classes as an establishment of religion.

          Just as "Human rights come only from God" and cannot be given by a government under a Constitution is a Dog Whistle for misogyny and bigotry, for opposing women's rights and LGBT rights, which they then label Human Wrongs because they are just so clever, haha, get it?

          Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

          by Mokurai on Sun May 25, 2014 at 11:49:00 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  well, the "left" isn't anti-science, but certainly (0+ / 0-)

      parts of it are. Even here, we have our crackpot contingent of anti-vaxxers, and a far-too-large number of the arguments made by fringers within the anti-GMO and anti-Nuke movements are, quite frankly, scientific nonsense.

      The difference is that the rightwinger anti-sciencers get to set public policy, while ours mostly just get laughed at.

      In the end, reality always wins.

      by Lenny Flank on Sun May 25, 2014 at 06:59:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  House is about to pass (5+ / 0-)

    yet another anti-abortion bill, and they want the IRS to determine if a woman can deduct medical expenses from an abortion only if it's related to rape or incest:

    That’s why some provisions of the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” don’t make a whole lot of sense. H.R. 7, which is sponsored by Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.), would change the tax code so that individuals may only deduct medical expenses related to abortion in cases of rape, incest or endangerment of life.
    That provision seems pretty innocuous until you stop and ask: Who’s supposed to decide when a medical expense is related to a pregnancy caused by rape or incest?
    Supporters of H.R. 7 — the bill has 164 co-sponsors, including 11 women and four Democrats — would give that authority to the Internal Revenue Service. Yes, that’s right. The same organization that has been vilified for targeting certain organizations with “tea party” or “patriot” in their names to help determine whether they qualify for tax-exempt status will be able to target individuals to make sure that they’re not improperly claiming deductions for an abortion that wasn’t due to rape, incest or to save the mother’s life.
    Should the Internal Revenue Service have the authority to ask a woman to prove that she’s been raped?

    Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

    by skohayes on Sun May 25, 2014 at 06:14:40 AM PDT

  •  Leaving it up to the bureaucrats (5+ / 0-)
    In the US, rife with idiocy like talk of "death panels" and deliberate efforts to terrify people about what may be "hiding" in a bill, there's a tendency to try and cover every possibility in the initial legislation, leaving nothing to the interpretations of bureaucrats we've been taught to hate.
    A major problem the U.S. has, which has proved problematical over the decades, is that our regulators and bureaucrats can't be trusted.  During the G.W. Bush administration, regulatory agencies - and therefore regulators -  suffered from "regulatory capture."  Particularly environmental agencies and financial regulators were captured by administrative appointees bent on making their agencies as ineffectual as possible.

    Decades earlier, regulations written by the IRS for organizations' tax exempt status [501(c)(3) and later 501(c)(4) organizations] were promulgated in a way to completely redefine the law congress had passed.  And of course campaign finance laws have been circumvented or ignored by bureaucrats from the day they were instituted.

    Laws today must be written in such detail because there is such interference by administration appointees to contort laws as passed into regulations that fit particular political agendas.  And we're pretty well stuck with this reality until "regulatory capture" has been eliminated from influence by successive political administrations.

    As agencies are currently administered, the public certainly can not be blamed for being wary of bureaucratic and regulatory interpretation of the law and oversight and enforcement of the laws.

    "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing" - Edmund Burke

    by SueDe on Sun May 25, 2014 at 06:17:39 AM PDT

  •  I strongly disagree with Phillip Howard (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ybruti, Mark Sumner

    There absolutely is a unifying principle, a moral message uniting us in this day, and Republicans are well aware of it.  That's why they've done such a rapid and extraordinary pivot to fight against it.

    This is described in full in one of the most important articles that Naomi Klein has ever written:

    Just as climate denialism has become a core identity issue on the right, utterly entwined with defending current systems of power and wealth, the scientific reality of climate change must, for progressives, occupy a central place in a coherent narrative about the perils of unrestrained greed and the need for real alternatives.

    Building such a transformative movement may not be as hard as it first appears. Indeed, if you ask the Heartlanders, climate change makes some kind of left-wing revolution virtually inevitable, which is precisely why they are so determined to deny its reality. Perhaps we should listen to their theories more closely—they might just understand something the left still doesn’t get.

  •  200,000 flags were placed at (4+ / 0-)

    Arlington National Cemetery yesterday:
    Memorial Day 2014 photo ArlingtonatMemorialDay_zps503145da.jpg

    I was just there the week before last when my dad's ashes were interred there. It is an awe-inspiring and very sad place (young men dying for old men's wars).
    My republican mom said "We should make every politician spend a day walking through this cemetery before they are allowed to vote on going to war."

    Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

    by skohayes on Sun May 25, 2014 at 06:20:44 AM PDT

  •  TP is far from finished; astroturf persists so (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    long as there is money for its maintenance.

    OTOH I have found a RW paradise in Mumbai, where the state, federal and local governments appear to provide no support for its disabled indigent.  This is how we would have it in the US should Cruz, Paul, and other wingers have their way:

    Who would not want to live in Wingertopia?  

  •  Revolution is the problem (0+ / 0-)

    For some people, the tendency to build up pressure toward revolution is the problem. There's an argument that slow but consistent change is more comfortable than punctuated equilibrium. Under a periodic revolution scheme, some people are lucky to live through stable times... then some are unlucky to have to adapt to disruption.

    And the revolution we are heading toward is looking to kill off half the country.

    The problem is the generational character of the voting public. Too many of them have adopted the peasant mentality: that they are not political actors, that they should aspire to live in ignorance of the larger world, and leave power to others.

    •  If we were talking about the French Revolution (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I would agree that those living through it were in many ways unfortunate. However, I consider myself fortunate to have been able to take part in the anti-war, anti-nuke, pro-civil-rights, pro-science, and other movements, some resulting in practical revolution, some ongoing, and some both.

      The biggest of them is ending global poverty and all of the other ills that go with poverty, including powerlessness, oppression, government corruption, terrorism, and most wars. The idea that we can end poverty has begun to be discussed seriously enough to start provoking corporate and ideological economic denialists, but has yet to gain real political traction.

      Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

      by Mokurai on Sun May 25, 2014 at 12:00:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Howard's article has some severe issues: (4+ / 0-)
    Most reform groups have lost moral authority by acting like special interests, concerned only about their cause and not the broader good. Instead of coming together to promote a new order, environmentalists, budget hawks and other reformers end up competing for airtime.
    Lumping austerians - whose immoral purpose is to protect the rich, with environmentalists, who have an actual good they're fighting for? Eeehhhhhh, not so much.
    law has piled up until it is almost impossible — indeed, illegal — for officials to make choices needed for government to get where it needs to go.
    This is frankly not true. Take the NSA as one example. There's nothing in the laws or regulations that requires their abominable behavior. Or the militarization of the police, again no law or regulation mandates this. I could go on ... .

    Now, he does get one think right .. sort of:

    Reviews for highway projects took an average of two years in the 1970s; by 2011, they were up to eight years. The 1956 law authorizing the interstate highway system was 29 pages. The law remaking the welfare system in 1996 was 251 pages. In this new century, statutes run a thousand pages or longer. The Volcker Rule to regulate proprietary trading — just one part of the massive Dodd-Frank law — is more than 950 pages.
    But he misses why this happened: Asshole Republicans. The Reagan administration decided to ignore the spirit of legislation, pursing and exploiting every loophole they could find. (Which, by the way, fits their dogma of making government more like business - exploit and abuse everything possible.) This abusive behavior was met in the only way possible - by writing laws to be as tight and binding as possible.

    "What could BPossibly go wrong??" -RLMiller "God is just pretend." - eru

    by nosleep4u on Sun May 25, 2014 at 06:59:23 AM PDT

    •  someone once pointed out to me that the (3+ / 0-)

      description of requirements for a "chocolate chip cookie" in the Defense Department's request for proposals is several paragraphs long. Bureaucracy run amok! Stifling regulations! Big Government! Argh argh argh!!!

      I had to explain to him that it's the fault of his own corporate friends that this is necessary--if there is no spelled-out definition of exactly what a "chocolate chip cookie" is, then some dickhead company will come along with a lump of dough with one chip in it, declare it to be a "chocolate chip cookie", submit the low bid (because everyone else is making REAL chocolate chip cookies), and declare that he should get the contract.

      Hence, the necessity to spell out in excruciating and unavoidable detail just what the fuck a "chocolate chip cookie" is.

      If people didn't try to game the system, there'd be no need for rules to prevent it.

      In the end, reality always wins.

      by Lenny Flank on Sun May 25, 2014 at 07:10:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I was disgusted at the televised Michael Sam (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    moment of intimacy. Not the kiss. I hate cake smushing. I hate it at weddings. I hate it at two-year old birthday parties. I hate at the NFL draft.

    It shows no respect for America's bakers and it shows no respect for the people unwilling to waste that food resource. Think of the starving children in Africa and Westchester.

    If you don't know where you're going, any road will do.

    by exregis on Sun May 25, 2014 at 07:21:07 AM PDT

  •  And lest we forget on the stimulis front .... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    aznavy, Calamity Jean

    1/3 of the 2008 stimulus plan went for ineffectual tax cuts in Obama's pathetic attempt to mollify Republicans who, subsequently, gave him the finger anyway.  There was a case to be made to the American people for loads of infrastructure spending in that stimulus (as well as a bigger stimulus), but Obama chose not to make it because he was still in kumbaya mode (or, perhaps, he saw it like the Repubs did as a budget buster).  Unfortunately, he stayed there for his first term if not longer.

    The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell

    by accumbens on Sun May 25, 2014 at 07:35:26 AM PDT

  •  The wealthy have taken over (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    aznavy, biloxiblues, Calamity Jean

    It's little wonder that nothing gets done.  The wealthy don't care much about public infrastructure.  They have jets and helicopters that fly over the public infrastructure mess.  They don't care about crumbling schools, affordable health care as they can afford the best that private business can provide.  WE have inertia not because of laws that are cumbersome but because a tiny percent of our population have ceased power.  We have stopped functioning as a society with common interests.

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Riane Eisler

    by noofsh on Sun May 25, 2014 at 07:47:31 AM PDT

  •  that and federalism. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark Sumner

    most major bills are written as a Federal section
    and then a State implementation (Model) bill.

    As such, the bill is by definition twice as large.

  •  Reform in next crash? (0+ / 0-)

    The bad news is that major legislation which might curb the growth of banking and finance and restrain plutocracy is not going to happen until the next major economic crash.  Big money has too much influence to allow any significant reform.

    The good news is that it may not be too long before the next crash, since finance is still basically free to run wild.  There may be less tolerance for bailouts next time, and possibly some real reform will occur.  Of course it may take a real depression before there is any real change in politics.

  •  I am sorry but I don't see Dems beating a drum for (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    a works project. To me its the obvious platform for the midterms, "Vote for us and give us control of the house back and we will do x"

    We can blame the Repubs till the end of time, but if the Dems aren't pushing for it, then its their fault.

    Its even got appeal to the right:

    "Right now America has 100Ks of people getting unemployment check and we want to put those people to work to repair our crumbling bridges and aging dams. Everyone would rather have them work for 2x dollars instead of getting 1x dollars for nothing. Including the people who would be employed"

    The 'make them work for their money' angle draws the right while the jobs and national improvement should appeal to all.

    Its such a no brainer my only conclusion is they don't want one.

    Join the DeRevolution: We are not trying to take the country, we are trying to take the country back. Get the money out of politics with public financed campaigns so 'Of the People, By the People and For the People' rings true again.

    by fToRrEeEsSt on Sun May 25, 2014 at 09:23:22 AM PDT

  •  Philliip Howard has only got a small part of it (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark Sumner, Ohkwai

    right - at least based on his brief article.  He dismisses "polarization" too easily.  The GOP has taken not just its ideologies but primarily its tactics to  new extremes.  They are not a governing party.  They are an insurgency based on exploitation of racist fears and whipped into a frenzy by a corporate media machine that no longer cares about facts.  The GOP counts on ignorance to survive.

    There is a lot that is dysfunctional in government and some of that is due to cumbersome layers of law.  But society today is much more complex than it was in the eras Howard likes to compare to (like FDRs).  All this complexity does indeed make it harder to pass good laws, yet somehow ACA got through despite ridiculous opposition from the GOP.

    But Mann and Ornstein had it right about 2 years ago, Let's Just Say it:  The Republicans are the Problem:

    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.

    On popular reforms that the majority of Americans want: raising the minimum wage, immigration reform, healthcare reform, etc - --

    It is one party in particular that has stood resolute as a block against the will of the  people and against progress.  And this has all been done for one reason only - a cynical calculation that they cannot allow anything good be accomplished during the term of a Dem president - especially a black man.

    No, it's the f***ing Republicans.  Howard is willfully missing the full picture.

    I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

    by Satya1 on Sun May 25, 2014 at 10:27:11 AM PDT

  •  Stimulus v Recovery (0+ / 0-)
    Recently the White House issued a five-year report on the $800 billion stimulus plan from 2009. Part of the original goal, as President Obama announced then, was to “rebuild America’s infrastructure.” So how much of that huge stimulus went to this worthwhile goal? Buried in the fine print of the report is this fact — barely 3 percent went to transportation infrastructure.

    Why? The president of the United States lacks the power to approve the rebuilding of decrepit bridges and roads.

    This is inaccurate. The epic scope of the catastrophic economy inherited by President Obama became clear only when adjusted numbers came in in December and January 2009. The White House and Congressional Democrats then focused on economic stimulus (immediate impact and relief) as opposed to recovery (longer term policy). That's why tax cuts and extended unemployment benefits comprise 2/3's of the bill.

    The remainder of the bill finances so-called shovel-ready projects, which by their nature do not have an immediate effect (permits have to be obtained, RFPs sent out, bids submitted and evaluated, etc).

    Essentially, policy makers realized that they had an emergency on their hands and that they would likely have only one shot as a large appropriation. Thus, they emphasized putting money directly in pockets as soon as possible.

    See The New New Deal (Michael Grunwald).

    "There is no room for injustice anywhere in the American mansion." Lyndon Johnson

    by pkgoode on Sun May 25, 2014 at 10:29:30 AM PDT

  •  Re: Phillip Howard's article, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark Sumner, Calamity Jean

    I think the reason for not getting anything done is very simple. Republicans do not want President Obama to get credit for accomplishing anything good for this country. Rush put it out there the day after the 2008 election, he wanted "Obama to fail".  That's it. Nothing else explains why republicans consistently vote against things that they supported under Bush. They would rather let bridges collapse than create  jobs by rebuilding infrastructure. So what if people die? So what if people lose their homes? So what if kids go to school hungry and their parents are unemployed?
    So what?? NOTHING matters to them more than taking over Congress, the Supreme Court and the White House. They are keeping their eye on the prize and everything else is an insignificant distraction.

    What happens when they win it all and the Koch brothers no longer need them? I guess then, when it is too late, they will truly learn the meaning of serfdom up close and personal. They should be careful what they wish for.

  •  Tying the hands of the bureaucrats (0+ / 0-)

    Philip Howard's take on gridlock appears to be an update of his 1995 book The Death of Common Sense.

    The thesis of that book is that government rules and regulations are written out in minute detail in a deliberate effort to limit the discretion of government officials to show favoritism.

    But in making these heroic efforts to be fair, we perversely create a system that is so complicated that mere mortals can't navigate it. This leads to the rise of a class of experts, consultants, and high priests who learn the ropes and then sell their expertise to the highest bidders.

    So in trying to create a fair system, we have done the opposite.

    What is valued is practiced. What is not valued is not practiced. -- Plato

    by RobLewis on Mon May 26, 2014 at 07:24:20 AM PDT

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