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What is The Problem? The GOP is The Problem.

Original post made by Tom Cushing, Danville, on May 9, 2012

The first thing you need to know about Norm Ornstein and Thomas Mann is where they work – at the American Enterprise Institute and the Brookings Institution, respectively. Those policy think tanks are among the oldest and best-respected of their breed; Brookings has been described across the political spectrum, but is probably best called center-left. The AEI is distinctly right-of-center – enough so that they booted thoughtful conservative pundit David Frum after an apostate column critical of the GOP.

The second thing to understand is that these guys have been navigating the shifting currents of the Potomac for more than 40 years each; their expertise is beyond serious debate, their credentials are impeccable, their reputations firmly established.
Which is why it's extremely important to take note of their recent book "It's Even Worse Than It Looks." In it, they lay blame for the current policy morass in Washington directly, unequivocally at the feet of one political party: the Republicans. In a blistering indictment, they write:

"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 side moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country's challenges." Wow – you just don't see that decisive kind of language every day, especially in the sober stylings of scholars.

Indeed, it had become fashionable in this era of urgent information overload, to assume that "both sides do it" – the familiar "you're one, too" defense of the schoolyard aggressor. Thus when Dems complained about Republican recalcitrance on ObromneyCare (originally a GOP idea) or the utterly meaningless and deeply self-destructive debt ceiling debate, the first response has always been "it's just politics as usual." Except it's not.

Our fragmented media have fallen into the trap of letting the reader decide – assuming that both sides have some merit, and often giving equal time to preposterous positions, unhinged to reality. While there's something to be said for balance, when that approach is uncritically applied it gives equal weight to, say, scientific consensus on one side, and the Department of MSU on the other (that's "Making Stuff Up"). The 5th Estate can't abdicate analysis – it must recall the admonition of every J-School prof: "If your subject says he has a mother, check-out the claim." Paraphrasing these authors: you can't have a balanced treatment of an unbalanced situation without distorting reality.

Recognizing this failure to fact-check, partisans have felt a new freedom to prevaricate: thus, we have the GOP nominee's claim of actual credit for resurrecting the automobile industry, a contention directly contradicted by his published writings at the time. As above, facts apparently don't matter.

The Republican Party's processes have been devoted not to governing, but to the obstruction thereof, on policy and on nominations – as to the newly formed Consumer Financial Protection Agency, a demonstrably needed, duly enacted initiative that could not implement its mission without its initial senior staff. When a senior Senate leader (McConnell) describes the number one policy mission of his organization as "ensuring that Obama (best defined on the political spectrum as a centrist, in my view) is a one-term President," you know his train has left the track. The Constitution that every legislator swears to uphold requires more, and the American People deserve better.

As with other eras in which an extreme element captures the flag, their tenure is usually short-lived. GOP Representative Allen West's recent, ridiculous assertion that there are some 75-80 card-carrying Commies among his Democrat opponents hearkens-back to the McCarthy Era of the 1950s. Joe McCarthy's influence was temporary – but real people got hurt, they're being hurt now. It's also instructive that there was no groundswell of GOP condemnation of West's slander. Nor did the slow-afoot nominee rise to correct a supporter's charge that Mr. Obama should be charged with treason (as the honorable Mr. McCain did, forcefully and immediately, in 2008).

There may be early signs that this GOP is overplaying its hand by purging its endangered moderate elements: witness 6- term moderate Senator Lugar's parting warning today, after losing the Indiana primary:

"If Mr. Mourdock is elected Senator, I want him to be a good Senator. But that will require him to revise his stated goals of bringing more partisanship to Washington. He and I share many positions, but his embrace of an unrelenting partisan mindset is irreconcilable with my philosophy of governance and my experience of what brings results…In effect, what he has promised in this campaign is reflexive votes for a rejectionist orthodoxy and rigid opposition to the proposals of the other party…

"This is not conducive to problem-solving and governance. And he will find that unless he modifies his approach, he will achieve little as a legislator. Worse, he will help delay solutions that are totally beyond the capacity of partisan majorities to achieve [prominently including the federal deficit]." It remains to be seen whether this GOP purge will "O'Donnell" the state party as its Delawareans did in 2010, but one can hope. It is pretty clear that Mr. Lugar deserved better.

Election season is upon us. 2012 will be different because of the increasingly strident partisanship –at-all-costs described by Messrs. Ornstein, Mann and now Lugar. It will be abetted by Super-Pac practices that will make us yearn for the relative truthiness of the SwiftBoaters. There are also early indications that Mr. Obama will drop the gloves and articulate a sharply contrasting, inclusive vision for the country – one that will capture the Great Middle Ground. Through it all, it will be crucial for citizen voters – and most especially those who consider themselves "moderate Republicans" to recall the wisdom in the Ornstein-Mann warnings about the games being played, the intentions of the players and the consequences of their actions.

Comments (31)

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Posted by HT
a resident of Danville
on May 10, 2012 at 8:22 am

To suggest that all the problems in our country are due to one political party, the Republicans, shows your bias and lack of intelligent critical analysis.

I grew up in Indiana, and am very familiar with the Hoosier state political landscape and ideology. Senator Lugar was voted out of office for several reasons, including the fact that he forgot during his 30 years in Washington about whom he was elected to serve: The people of Indiana. He lost touch with the citizens of the state, he lived in Virginia,only came back to Indiana for election reasons, and actually tried to illegally write off hotel expenses when visiting the state he allegedly lived in. He was more concerned with hobnobing with foreign diplomats, the Washington elite, and the liberal press, than listening to the concerns of his constitutents. Increasing taxes, law suit abuses, illegal immigration, and anti-business legislation were concerns to his constitutents, but not to him, so he was elected out of office. That is how our country is supppose to work, you serve your constitutents, or they find someone else who will. That is not a "problem", that is a solution.

If you want to talk about "problems", and "blame", the Democrats must be included in that conversation. Follow the John Edwards trial, listen to the facts about people like John Edwards. He was an ambualance chasing lawyer who actually did more hurt than good, in creating many counties in the south where no doctor would deliver babies due to fears of lawsuit abuses and run away verdicts. This so-called populist, "man of the people", spent $400 on haircuts, cheated on his wife, lied under oath, all for his own selfish ego. President Obama's health care laws, of course, have no teeth to stop frivilous medical malpractice lawsuits, which really drives up insurance premiums, because the Democrats are so closely aligned and in debt to the Trial Lawyers Association.

To suggest that one political party is to blame for all of our problems, shows either a lack of intelligence, dishonesty, or perhaps both.


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Posted by Tom Cushing
a resident of Alamo
on May 10, 2012 at 9:24 am

Perhaps before you pass summary judgment on these two scholars, who have invested their life's work in the insightful analysis of Washington politics, you might do them the courtesy of Actually Reading their book. The evidence they cite is overwhelming. You might also revisit Mr. Lugar's words of advice for his victor.

And can you explain to me what the unelected John Edwards' hair has to do with any of this? No one is claiming that Republicans are bad people, or Dems the opposite. The authors claim, and I agree, that one Party's processes have fallen victim to their most extreme wing, whose tactics have undermined the governance process to everybody's detriment. That Party is the tea-addled GOP.

I do not expect this to be a popular message -- but I think it needs saying. And if some soul-searching follows, then good.


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Posted by HT
a resident of Danville
on May 10, 2012 at 2:11 pm

As a native Hoosier, I do not need a "Scholar" to tell me why Senator Lugar did not get re-elected in Indiana. A politician who spends too much time in Washington, ignores his constitutents concerns, and becomes out of touch with the realities of life back home, will not get re-elected, whether a Republican, or a Democrat. This is the same exact reason Pete Stark, a local Democrat, will likely be voted out of office by his own party.

Although it is hard to believe, it is very likely that if the National Inquier did not break the John Edwards love child story, he would have been nominated by your party, the Democrats, as their presidential candidate, or at a minimum, the VP. His $400 hair cuts are probative of the problem that the Democrats are causing our country. While claiming to be populist, concerned about the little guy, the 99%, those in power are snob, elitist, who are completely out of touch with mom and pop business owners, who have to deal with the red tape bureaucracy, increasing taxes, and anti-business legislation. The $400 hair cut is a symbol, of an out of touch elitist, who has no clue what most small business people go through, trying to create jobs, and help our country.

The ambulance chasing trial lawyers association pulls the moderate Democrats to the far left extreme, and does more damage, than the so-called extreme tea party faction of the Republican party, who simply want tax reform, and cuts in government waste. We would not need President Obama's socialized medicine plan, if the Democrats in power stood up to their allies in the trial lawyers assocaition, and created real tort reform, and limits to frivilous medical malpractice lawsuits that cause doctors to practice defensive medicine, and drive up the costs of insurance premiums.

Stop listening to "scholars", and go talk to normal, mom and pop business people. If Senator Lugar took this advice, he would still be in office.


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Posted by HT
a resident of Danville
on May 10, 2012 at 2:11 pm

As a native Hoosier, I do not need a "Scholar" to tell me why Senator Lugar did not get re-elected in Indiana. A politician who spends too much time in Washington, ignores his constitutents concerns, and becomes out of touch with the realities of life back home, will not get re-elected, whether a Republican, or a Democrat. This is the same exact reason Pete Stark, a local Democrat, will likely be voted out of office by his own party.

Although it is hard to believe, it is very likely that if the National Inquier did not break the John Edwards love child story, he would have been nominated by your party, the Democrats, as their presidential candidate, or at a minimum, the VP. His $400 hair cuts are probative of the problem that the Democrats are causing our country. While claiming to be populist, concerned about the little guy, the 99%, those in power are snob, elitist, who are completely out of touch with mom and pop business owners, who have to deal with the red tape bureaucracy, increasing taxes, and anti-business legislation. The $400 hair cut is a symbol, of an out of touch elitist, who has no clue what most small business people go through, trying to create jobs, and help our country.

The ambulance chasing trial lawyers association pulls the moderate Democrats to the far left extreme, and does more damage, than the so-called extreme tea party faction of the Republican party, who simply want tax reform, and cuts in government waste. We would not need President Obama's socialized medicine plan, if the Democrats in power stood up to their allies in the trial lawyers assocaition, and created real tort reform, and limits to frivilous medical malpractice lawsuits that cause doctors to practice defensive medicine, and drive up the costs of insurance premiums.

Stop listening to "scholars", and go talk to normal, mom and pop business people. If Senator Lugar took this advice, he would still be in office.


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Posted by Sam
a resident of Danville
on May 10, 2012 at 2:25 pm

HT -

If you really want to know what drives up health insurance premiums, it's now the few frivolous lawsuits. It's a combination of several factors: (1) operational inefficiencies of the highly concentrated insurance industry (Have you ever tried to deal with the mazes that these scoundrels construct to deter people from having legitimate medical expenses paid? It can literally take years to get them to corect their mistakes!); (2) the immense greed of the insurance industry (Have you seen the compensation packages of the "genuises" that run these companies?); (3) underemphasis on preventive care; and (4) failure to include all people in the insurance pool, so that poor people will be encouraged to use routine (and preventive) medical services, instead of the emergency room (which increases the costs for the rest of us).

Fortunately, President Obama's health care reform will begin to address some of these problems.


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Posted by Tom Cushing
a resident of Alamo
on May 10, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Dear HT: do you know what's the most enjoyable thing about writing these columns? It's when folks come into the Comments and fly waaaay off-the-handle, making it bloody obvious that they never read past the headline. It's even more fun when they manage to include an accusation of stupidity and dishonesty. It makes me proud to have carefully crafted the article, when it's appreciated so thoroughly.

Now, I have a dilemma. I can depend for my understanding of a complex and important policy issue on two eminent scholars from mainline institutions, who've written an exhaustively researched and documented book -- or some anonymous guy on the web who reads nothing but claims to have been born in Indiana. You know ... I think I'm gonna have to go with Mann and Ornstein on this one.

Finally, I would also ask you to consider the possible applicability of the following statement, as this may be the first time you've seen it: "ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition."

Does that sound like anybody you know? Think about it while shaving.


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Posted by underdog
a resident of another community
on May 10, 2012 at 3:13 pm

As a registered independent and one who worked for his GOP state senator, I have seen the transformation of this party from an inside and outside perspective. It has become a party of self-loathing and simple loathing. Its sense of pragmatism, fiscal conservatism, and definition linking it to mainstream america has devolved exactly as described by Mr. Cushing above. It is infused with the same special interests that it faulted in its opposition and it is disingenous about its claim to conservative values, while confusing them with the liberal concepts of decentralized small government, individual freedoms,and constitutional rights. It has been hijacked by the radical right and those who believe their moral pejorative trumps good government and the will of the people. It is one very sick elephant and those who thrill at its blind mad charge will not be immune from being trampled by it.


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Posted by HT
a resident of Danville
on May 11, 2012 at 7:31 am

Tom: It must be nice to have all the answers, and not need to ever listen to ideas, information, thoughts, from people with real life experiences not found in some text book.

Put your outdated text down, open your ears, go out and listen to real people, struggling to pay their bills while dealing with increased taxes, and government bureacracies.

I have noticed over the years that often the people we truly can learn the most from, are not those with fancy, inflated scholarly titles, but the unassuming individuals, who quietly work hard, provide for their families, and create jobs.

Good example of inflated "scholar" is DR. Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden. She INSISTS on being called DOCTOR, even though she does not have a medical degree, but instead teaches English at a community college type school. Watching the media interview her and Michelle Obama, and refer to them as "Dr.Biden" and "Mrs. Obama" is infuriating, as "Mrs. Obama" has a juris doctorate(J.D.)and is just as much as a "Doctor" as "Dr. Biden". Truth be told, I am sure that Mrs. Obama has more real life experiences, more to teach us, than the scholar "Dr. Biden".

In summary, for you and your scholarly friends to blame the Republicans for all the problems facing our country, shows you to be "ideologically extreme".


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Posted by Tom Cushing
a resident of Alamo
on May 11, 2012 at 11:46 am

Dear HT:

A few thoughts on your latest comment:

1 – "Put your outdated text down, open your ears, go out and listen to real people, struggling to pay their bills while dealing with increased taxes, and government bureacracies."

Just for the record, the book I used was published last week, and taxes are remarkably low. You could look it up, but you probably won't.

Are you aware that, just this week, the House Republicans put forward a proposal to avoid Pentagon cuts that would (a) kick 2 million real people off of food stamps, (b) reduce the eligibility of another 44 million (count-em) struggling Americans, (c) end a program that allows disabled older people to live at home and out of institutions, and (d) cuts money that helps low-income families buy health insurance? THOSE are the real, struggling Americans whose suffering resonates with me.

2 – " … the people we truly can learn the most from, are not those with fancy, inflated scholarly titles, but the unassuming individuals …

I think that's a false choice, as we can learn from both kinds of people. I think you're using it as an excuse to be uninformed, yet influential. You may have to settle for the fact that your vote counts every bit as much as the vote of anyone else. Is this a great country, or what?

3 – The whole "Biden" paragraph.

Like John Edwards' hair yesterday, this whole paragraph – nearly half your post – comes out of the weeds in deep left field. Even if it happened to be true, which I doubt but who cares, how is it possibly relevant to much of anything? It's just a personal attack on an accomplished woman whose husband is an elected official. It's just a big "so what?" Reading it, I feel like the AFLAC duck. Web Link

4 -- "… blame the Republicans for all the problems facing our country …

So, still haven't read the actual article, eh? It says, big as day: "… they lay blame for the current policy morass in Washington …" on the GOP. That's not all the problems we face as country, far from it. But it's true. You could look it up.


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Posted by spcwt
a resident of Danville
on May 12, 2012 at 5:55 am

You know the GOP's in trouble when a reliable conservative like Orrin Hatch is facing a primary challenge for not being conservative enough. ha ha.

Tom's got a point about Republicans. Look at Romney. Instead of trimming the military's $680 billion / yr. bloated budget, he wants to INCREASE military spending by an additional $2 trillion over the next decade.

And Romney wants to lower taxes by 20%.

What kind of fantasy land does that guy live in?

Meanwhile, back on planet earth, we've got some bills that need to be paid. Notably, we've got to somehow come up with $50 to $70 trillion to make Medicare and Social Security solvent. This is a serious problem, folks.

Democrats share some of the blame about our fiscal solvency. This is an issue which Joint Chiefs Of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen has called, "The greatest threat to our national security." It is THE issue of our times.

When Obama was elected, Democrats controlled Congress and the Presidency. Instead of getting our fiscal house in order, Democrats decided to go on a $1.7 trillion spending spree by enacting Obamacare. They also continued a bloated military budget and other reckless spending.

Few politicians are being truthful on the kinds of sacrifices that will be required of Americans both in terms of increased taxes and spending cuts in order to get our fiscal house in order.

Democrats mislead the public, telling them the rich can pay for it all, that the poor and middle class can get ever more benefits without sacrifice.

The failure of Climate Change legislation also cannot be solely laid at the foot of Republicans either. Key Democrats loaded exemptions into the legislation for the coal industry, delayed serious carbon cuts, and ultimately voted against it. Democrats have also supported expensive Ethanol subsidies and mandates that have the unintended consequence of raising world food prices and exacerbate climate change and pollution. Obama and Democrats have shown no leadership on climate change. Not a single U.S. politician attended the Climate Change summit in Rio de Janeiro this year.

Obama and Democrats continue the pointless war on drugs, incarcerating millions and spending hundreds of billions on this failed effort during the Obama presidency. And what about that pointless war in Afghanistan, the war on terror, TSA, Guantanamo, etc.?

Sorry Tom. I think if you remove your partisan blinders for a moment, you will agree that Democrats share some of the blame for the critical issue of fiscal responsibility and some of our other current problems.


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Posted by Tom Cushing
a resident of Alamo
on May 12, 2012 at 10:41 am

Thanks SP, for bringing a thoughtful comment to the board (I'm never sure which SP is going to show-up, but this was a good-un). I agree that the Romney call for a military so mighty that all will tremble before us is naïve, misdirected, a poor way for the US taxpayers to spend their money -- and downright Old Testament. I tremble when I ponder foreign policy generally in the hands of such an Administration.

Where you and I part company is that I think this country has an employment crisis and a series of budget problems; if I interpret correctly, you'd put the latter in the crisis column, and not give a rat's patoot for the former ("…that the poor and middle class can get ever more benefits without sacrifice."). As I've written early-on in this series, I think the middle class has been remarkably resourceful since the 1970s in vain attempts to try to (even) stay even. We've been sacrificing since those '70s, and if anything, have been too tolerant of policies that funnel abundance upward, without corresponding benefit to our depleted circumstances.

I'm surprised you picked on ObromneyCare instead of the stimulus, and quoting only one side of the ledger does you no credit when the CBO has clearly stated the law is deficit-neutral. Frankly, I don't believe that'll completely come to pass, either, but as a numbers guy, you know better. So, by your silence may I infer that you agree that the stimulus: 1 – worked, and 2 – would have worked better had it been larger?

The point of the article was never that one party has a monopoly on wisdom, or mistakes. Again, as written -- clearly and distinctly – it "…lay[s] blame for the current policy morass in Washington directly, unequivocally at the feet of one political party: the Republicans." Bringing in specific issues of climate change and the inherited war(s) becomes irrelevant when it would not matter what was proposed, the GOP would oppose it if support might mean Obama would get credit for something. I think that's a horribly wrong way to approach governance, and it was expressly what the Republicans did as.a.matter.of.baseline.policy.

You also neglect to mention that Obama has repeatedly tried to address fiscal issues on the revenue side, but has been Grover'd every time. Like you, the GOP only seems to see one side
of the ledger. And when that baseline strategy screams "starve the beast," morass ensues.

I have disagreed with much of what the Administration has done – I think the President has bargained too generously and repeatedly settled for too little. I think he's very late to the party on gay marriage – lots of other things.

At the end of the day, I'm guessing that you and I really differ in what kind of government we'd like to see – and I'm guessing that your own "partisan blinders" lead you way from empathy. Anyway, more on that next week.


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Posted by Linda
a resident of Alamo
on May 14, 2012 at 6:33 am

It always amazes me when the leftist "elites" are completely clueless about anything but their talking points and agenda. This President has done more to destroy our wonderful country than any other leader. We are broke, weakened, divided, laughed at by many leaders of other countries, lost our triple A rating, less safe now than ever before with terrorists coming in from the southern border and legally because of the politically correct increased immigration of people from terrorist countries, half of all college graduates unable to get a job, more unemployed no longer even trying, the real unemployment rate probably in the 20 percent or more range but definitely not 8.1 % (fuzzy government math) and worst of all, a president who is anti Israel and pro Muslim Brotherhood and Black Panthers (terrorist groups by their own admission of wanting to kill people)....the list goes on. So,the liberals/progressives will continue to fool themselves and think they know what is best for us, because after all, you believe we need your help for everything (see Julia chart). You do have one thing right...if you can give enough free stuff to takers, they will vote for you. The problem is, you will run out of other peoples money and then, we are like Cuba.


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Posted by George
a resident of Alamo
on May 14, 2012 at 6:53 am

Tom... it must be hard for you to needing to be "right" all the time. It's obvious that you're more programmed to respond rather than to listen. When did you stop listening... and learning? As I see it, one of the biggest problems our society faces is that of "scholars" who are clueless in real world situations... "scholars" who apply text book principles to real life issues... and "scholars" who fancy themselves as teachers and attempt to drill their own idealogical, narrow minded perspectives into our children.


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Posted by Louise
a resident of Danville
on May 14, 2012 at 8:47 am

I read the article and I must say that what has created the entitlement society we live in is not the fault of the GOP. They've been trying to rein in the spending to no avail. Currently, about 150 million Americans receive some form of government funded(taxpayer)subsidy or entitlement and by my estimate that is about 1/2 of the population. That figure is growing under the current leadership. Where did the 16 Trillion dollar debt come from? Whether you blame Democrats or Republicans it cannot continue at this pace or we will end up like Greece and Spain. Start growing your own food or you will need barrels of money to pay for it. Welcome to the Entitlement society and start putting your hands out cause you will get some too.


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Posted by Exasperated
a resident of Danville
on May 14, 2012 at 9:50 am

Well, Tom, at least you tried.

After the last 3 comments, it is clear why our country is in so much trouble. We just have too many ignorant, extreme people like Linda, George, Louise, and HT who spew unsupported garbage as if it were fact. They want our elected leaders to listen to "real people" instead of "scholars;" however, these "real people" try to disguise bald assertions as facts, then think they have more credibility than those who thoroughly analyze very complex issues and reach conclusions based on facts and analysis.

Your patience in trying to respond to their unsupported, oversimplified, illogical, conclusory statements is admirable. Unfortunately, some of your audience has clearly already made up their minds, and will not be deterred by logic or fact.

Keep fighting the good fight, and let's hope a majority of the voters in November are more sensible.


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Posted by George
a resident of Alamo
on May 14, 2012 at 10:31 am

Exasperated... Can't wait! See you at the polls.


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Posted by Mary
a resident of San Ramon
on May 14, 2012 at 10:55 am

The progressive dems helped get us in the current mess. As business owners, we will NOT hire more people with Obama"care" on the horizon. We will terminate 5 more if it is held up. Lugar was a RINO. Good riddance. Hopefully, the good people of Alameda County will throw nasty Pete Stark out as well. Even the liberal local press has had the intelligence to NOT endorse this weasel.


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Posted by Tom Cushing
a resident of Alamo
on May 14, 2012 at 11:51 am

Whew, the ol' mailbag is getting a little heavy. Given that my choices are to not respond and be accused of retreat to my ivory tower, or to respond and be accused on not listening, I guess I'll take the latter.

Linda, I fear your best course would be to change the channel and swear-off caffeine. There's just no point in proceeding, sorry.

George, I'll try to listen if you'll support your claims with actual examples of what you mean. Everybody wants to believe s/he's a good listener -- myself included. So kindly give me a chance, and as long as your concern relates to neither Mr. Edwards' hair nor Dr. Biden's degree, I'll try to respond thoughtfully.

Louise, thanks for reading it. Your concern about dependence seems genuine, but I wonder if a lot of what those 150 million people have is inter-dependence. Many folks both contribute to the tax base and draw some benefit from it -- and isn't that what a community does to take care of itself? There seems to be a virulent sentiment abroad on this board that the government is somehow the enemy -- to me, it's not. Anyway, more on that in future weeks.

Mary, thanks for sharing.

Exasperated -- I appreciate your support. Cognitive Dissonance is an uncomfortable state to be in -- I try to remember that, at some level, being blamed for putting someone there constitutes progress.


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Posted by Danville Independent
a resident of San Ramon Valley High School
on May 15, 2012 at 8:35 am

Bravo! Bravo! Highly entertaining missives! I always enjoy the deep thinkers vs the Archie Bunkers of the world! Again....Bravo!


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Posted by Tom Cushing
a resident of Alamo
on May 16, 2012 at 11:27 am

All: I believe I just heard that Messrs. Mann and Ornstein will be on Forum tomorrow AM, on KQED, 88.5 FM -- probably the 9 AM segment, but not certain. There's obviously a lot in the book that is not in my post.

George: I'm Still just sitting here, listening. But here's one for you -- when I want to hear about life experience, I'll gladly call on Aunt Edna. But when I need a hip replaced, Aunt Edna, in the pantry, with a butter knife just won't, well, cut it. Perhaps think of Mann and Ornstein as surgeons. They've earned it.


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Posted by Aubrey
a resident of Alamo
on May 16, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Archie Bunker was a Democrat. Google is your friend...


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Posted by Sam
a resident of Danville
on May 16, 2012 at 2:06 pm

Yes, Linda's comments give us a clear example of how determined Republicans can be to ignore facts that don't fit with their point of view (usually parroted from Faux News).

For example, she complains about "terrorists coming in from the southern border." What is she talking about??? Illegal immigration is down, thanks to the poor job prospects in the US and the Obama Administration's stepped up efforts to increase border security (far more than Bushie did). But, those facts don't fit in with the anti-Obama meme broadcast daily on Faux News.


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Posted by San Ramon Oberver
a resident of San Ramon
on May 16, 2012 at 4:42 pm

San Ramon Oberver is a registered user.

Michael Krasny will be interviewing Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein tomorrow morning at 9 am on KQED Forum, 88.5 FM

9am Forum with Michael Krasny
The New Politics of Extremism
Political scientists Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein join us to discuss their new book "It's Even Worse Than it Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism." Ornstein is a political scientist and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and Mann is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

This is a call in show, so if anyone wants to speak to Mann, Ornstein, or Krasny the phone number is 866-733-6786 or Email: forum@kqed.org


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Posted by Axe Me a Question
a resident of Danville
on May 17, 2012 at 8:24 am

Well Tommy Boy, maybe you should have titled your piece differently as opposed to the name you gave. Your story is about the two "scholars," not so much the GOP? You also go into detail about a book no one in this message board has read. Hey, people can only respond to the information that you give. I can't debate the book with you because I have not read it myself; however, I can debate the points YOU bring out because it's all I have to go on. If you're of the persistent mindset that we should all read the book before we pass judgement, then maybe you shouldn't go into so much detail. After all, the title of your article is a tad confrontational to say the least.


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Posted by Tom Cushing
a resident of Alamo
on May 17, 2012 at 8:53 am

If I put the whole article into a headline, then it wouldn't be a headline, would it?

There's also a big intertubes out there, replete with articles about the book. Here's a condensation they wrote for the Washington Post: Web Link , and there are many other articles, including rebuttals, even. You're not so helpless, unless you want to be.

And here's a reminder -- the Forum appearance of Mann and Ornstein at 9 today, KQED 88.5 FM. You could listen, or remain intentionally uninformed.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Axe Me a Question
a resident of Danville
on May 17, 2012 at 9:40 am

Then your headline is misleading, or an attention grabber; I'm not sure which. But what's with the constant sarcasm? Seems to me you're a bit touchy when someone disagrees with you. I never said you were wrong, but there are always two sides to every story. You need to keep that in mind when talking about politics. The Dems and Repubs have both had there share of bad streaks: Bush with Iraq and Kennedy with Vietnam. See?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tom Cushing
a resident of Alamo
on May 17, 2012 at 12:18 pm

Yeah, I could've gone with the headline that Mann & Ornstein used in the Washington Post: "Let's just say it: The Republicans are the problem." Oh, wait.

I'm not sure why I personally become the target, except that it's consistent with the theme of demonizing the opposition (You suck! No, YOU suck!!). Okay, fire away. And if you want to be annoying, use a condescending term like Tommy Boy to address me -- it's a great start to a searching discussion of ideas. You might also attach your real name to your comments (if you're not) -- it makes a difference.

Finally, and again, this article is limited to responsibility for the Policy Morass in Washington. After all, Lincoln freed the slaves.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Axe Me a Question
a resident of Danville
on May 17, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Sir, was all that really necessary?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tom Cushing
a resident of Alamo
on May 17, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Who's Axin'?


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Posted by Anti-extremist
a resident of San Ramon
on Jul 25, 2012 at 1:15 pm

Tom, it seems you like to think of yourself as an all-knowing deep thinker. You say the GOP is the problem, all-inclusive. I'm one of your father's Republicans, and I disagree with radical extremists on the right as much Democrats. Yet with your all-inclusive approach, you would have to be lumped with all Democrats, who as a group, I would oppose.
In your citizens united screed, I saw no mention of the reason and need due to the hands off acceptance of union money, power, and influence in all elections in this 21st century. Councils, Mayors, Supervisors, Assemblymen, Governors, Presidents, bought and paid for by today's all-powerful PUBLIC unions. Corporations are about 50-50, so Democrats still have the majority of power and money. SEIU's Andy Stern has a desk in Obama's West Wing. Nationally, public employee unions have been running ads and controlling elections for decades.
I never heard any outrage on their corruption of our process. Now they are destroying our cities and country. Much of their destruction may never be corrected.


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Posted by Tom Cushing
a resident of Alamo
on Jul 26, 2012 at 11:14 am

Hi Anti: a very similar point was made yesterday about the public employee unions -- I think there's a structural problem with government worker unions that is different from the private sector -- there's no invisible hand to slap anybody who over-reaches at the table (put another way, the taxpayers aren't at the table and it's too easy for the "Management" side to give-in, esp. as to debts, like pensions, that won't come due for years). It's playing itself out now, as I wrote here last year (see The Great American Shake-out).

Where you and I differ is that I do not see it as a problem similar to, or of the same level and scope, as that of the big business lobby (of which I was once a part, so I've seen something of how it looks and thinks, from the inside). It's a problem -- it's working its way through the system, painfully, but I don't think it's a crisis or "destruction [that] may never be corrected."

Anyway, those are my Deep Thoughts and Unassailable Truths on the subject, fwiw.


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