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Jeff Jockisch

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"The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics."

April 28, 2012 72 comments 1 shares 4 plus ones
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I agree with the sentiment. Can we discuss it politely?

Conservatives, GOP tactics are giving you a bad rap. Newt Gingrich and Grover Norquist are killing you.

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.

cc/ +Alex Grossman

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

How Republicans have made Washington worse.


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J.C. Kendall April 30, 2012

Actually Jeff, I was referring to WIC, Head Start, and others that were again LEFT OUT of the calculation, because they throw the articles assertion out the window.

Jeffrey Raskin April 30, 2012

+Meg Tufano Its a difficult discussion, because there are certain talismanic terms in our political discourse that don't really mean much: "cut taxes" and "welfare" come most quickly to mind.

Of course, the official Federal "welfare" program is called "Temporary Assistance For Needy Families" ("TANF") a program of block granted income support which is part of the "Government Benefits" calculation noted in the Times article. Most people have no idea how TANF actually works. They just think it is a government give-away to "Welfare Queens," a point made repeatedly here. However, it also includes child care, work support and other employment programs.

Anne-Marie Clark April 30, 2012

+Meg Tufano +J.C. Kendall Like the famous elderly lady carrying the protest sign that said, "Don't touch my Medicare to pay for Socialism."

Meg Tufano April 30, 2012

+Jeffrey Raskin This is a discussion I tried having before W was elected: Tennessee is a tax receipt state. Literally, they take in about 40% more in Federal money than they pay out in Federal taxes (there is no State Income Tax, there is a 9% sales tax). I remember arguing (discussing ;')) with a woman whose income was $12,000 a year who was gung ho for Bush because he was "going to lower taxes." Obviously, she did not PAY any taxes! But she was for him anyway. Taught me a lot about how irrational voting is!!!!!

J.C. Kendall April 30, 2012

I realize that, but thinking people do not. Benefits? Unemployment is a benefit, and welfare is not? I can see why you wont address that point, its kinda indefensible. But thanks, I appreciate the debate. You cant leave out the largest chunk of spending and call your solution valid, buddy.

Jeffrey Raskin April 30, 2012

I really don't know what to say about this anymore, so this will be my last response to you, +J.C. Kendall.

The data defines "Government Benefits" as: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Income Support, Veterans Benefits and Unemployment Insurance. It is not "all" spending by the Federal government in any particular state. It is "benefits."

It is not a disputable fact that the states voting for the GOP in the highest proportion are the states that receive the most Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Income Support, Veterans Benefits and Unemployment Insurance. They tend to be the poorer states and they therefore tend to need more government assistance than other states. People like Rand Paul profess to want to cut the benefits upon which many residents of these state have come to rely. We can debate why this is so, and we can debate whether, perhaps, economic issues are not the prime motivating factor in voting. Undoubtedly, certain people absolutely want the Federal government to tell women whether or not they can have abortions, or under what circumstances they can exercise that choice.

But that simply points to a broader issue, here. I don't think the residents of Kentucky would want to see the results of the Rand Paul agenda enacted into law. It would cause a lot of pain. So, they can elect Rand to the Senate in order to "stick it to the man," and then hope that he is wildly unsuccessful in his pursuit of his agenda.

J.C. Kendall April 30, 2012

+Jeffrey Raskin Jeff, a job in the defense industry is not a "government benefit", no matter how they spin it. Its a job. Read it and weep. Kentucky gets MAJOR defense dollars. Calling that a Government benefit, well, I stand by what I said.

Each of the items you mentioned above pale in comparison to basic welfare, and I would ask you, why it was not mentioned, either as Welfare, any other term? You know its there, but why was it left out?

Jeffrey Raskin April 30, 2012

Here is the big correction:

"A chart on Sunday with the continuation of an article about increased federal aid for the middle class contained a map that designated North Carolina as one of the states won by Senator John McCain in the 2008 presidential election. In fact, President Obama won that state. (In the 100 counties with the highest dependence on federal aid, Mr. McCain won two-thirds of them.)."

The point nevertheless is the same.

The maps says that "all" government benefits accounted for 17.6% of personal income in 2009. The individual components includes something called "income support," which is defined as "aid to low income families, food stamps, disability payments and the earned-income tax credit." That sounds like a lot of direct payments to people to support their "income." But who am I to say.

Call the chart "specious." Call it "propaganda." That's fine. It looks though that Kentucky, the state that elects that great libertarian foe of the Federal government, Rand Paul, is among the states that are the most awash in Federal government benefits.

J.C. Kendall April 30, 2012

+Jeffrey Raskin How on earth can you support a chart on government benefits which does not include welfare payments? Also, I love the use of the term "Government Benefits". I stand by my argument. That chart is specious, as is the premise. I see they already have had to issue a correction, so anxious were they to push such propaganda.

Jeffrey Raskin April 30, 2012

+J.C. Kendall Krugman writes opinion pieces. The article to which I referred has an extensive data set behind it. Check out the map. It breaks it down on the county level.

J.C. Kendall April 30, 2012

+Jeffrey Raskin Jeff Krugman has been on that rant for months. His latest take on it is here: . He's gotten nowhere with it, but dont think for a minute that any economic opinion comes out of the NYT without his stamp of approval. He established the premise, and every Times writer is now using it. I maintain, the only thing allowing the premise is defense spending. Were it not for that, CA and MI and NY would skew those numbers on their own back in to the Democrat column. I maintain, Republicans pull the same shenanigans with the numbers, insuring that nothing gets done by either side. Watch the Republicans come in to office in November with their own largess, probably pledging to bring back the Space Program and a bunch of other goodies designed to make people feel good while the Government continues to avoid addressing basic concerns.

Jeffrey Raskin April 30, 2012

+J.C. Kendall None of this came from Krugman. The article to which I referred is here:

Do you disagree with the recent reporting on how cuts in public sector spending are a drag on growth?

Marie Meservy April 30, 2012

+Jeffrey Raskin Hah! So keep nodding off, that's exactly what the whole country is doing. =]

Marie Meservy April 30, 2012

Well, so one side says "cut taxes" and the other says "increase spending." Actually, both sides say "increase spending." Which side is more stupid and more "out of ideas?" That's not as clear as you're suggesting.

Jeffrey Raskin April 30, 2012

Oh, and when the words "socialist" "communist" or "Marxist" are used to describe the U.S., I start to nod off. Tax bills presently are low by historical standards.

J.C. Kendall April 30, 2012

+Jeffrey Raskin Jeff, I dont have time to go into all the ways that the Times spun that info, but I would greatly caution you to take anything that comes from the maw of Krugman with a grain of salt. Krugman loves to include the defense budget into his "government spending" numbers, while leaving out entitlements. The mere fact that most military spending goes to Republican voting states is responsible for that very convenient factoid. Please tell me that you dont think that the mighty Krugman is in now favor of government spending for the jobs that came from programs like Reagan's resurrection of the B-1 bomber? Of course he doesn't. He means more free stuff for people who vote for Democrats. It always amazes me how Krugman calls it government spending only when referring to Defense, but when addressing entitlements, he calls it "stimulus". Give me a break, Jeff, baby...

Jeffrey Raskin April 30, 2012

"Evil" is not a word that is being used here. "Out of ideas" is much more accurate. When you are out of ideas, the one enduring idea that can always be embraced is slashing tax rates for the highest earners. That's pretty much the entirety of the GOP's economic policy these days. Cut taxes and good will follow.

Marie Meservy April 30, 2012

Again, +Jeffrey Raskin, telling a moderate independent how evil the Republicans are, is simply ineffective in discussion. As far as the effects of spending vs. tax cuts, there is plenty of data going both ways. I will back your statement that "The government spending people generally don't like is the spending that benefits someone else," but that's true of both sides. Everyone loves spending that benefits themselves, which is why socialism is so popular amongst the poor. As long as the poor outnumber the rich, this system isn't going anywhere.

You might also be interested to know that the US is already more communist than China:

Jeffrey Raskin April 30, 2012

We have discussed this many times before on this site: the states that are most addicted to Federal spending are the ones that vote Republican in the highest numbers. This is true even on the county level. The New York Times had a thoroughly researched story on this point, complete with a nice interactive map, a couple of months ago. The government spending people generally don't like is the spending that benefits someone else.

But the objective facts on the recent quarter are that cuts in public sector spending are indeed dragging down the economy.

Marie Meservy April 30, 2012

+Meg Tufano I simply don't buy that. We have never yet stopped spending ourselves broke, and we are only getting in more and more debt--both the Republicans and the Democrats are doing all they can to further that spending. And like +J.C. Kendall and +David Petersen have pointed out, it's because the people have come to depend on the government for free stuff. It's great now, especially for the baby boomers, but the younger generation is going to inherit that debt and get none of the benefits. Honestly, I don't see how people can be so entrenched in party politics as to say one side is the problem and the other side is the solution. The two are really not that different in their proposals and actions.

Jeffrey Raskin April 30, 2012

And here is what I was referring to, from Friday's news:

"However, the biggest negative drag on output growth is due to the 3 percent cuts in government spending at the federal, state, and local levels, including cuts in defense spending. These cuts held down the overall growth rate by approximately a half of a percentage point (from 2.7% for the private sector alone to 2.2 percent overall). But there's some hope that the state and local cuts that have been weighing on growth in recent quarters are coming to an end, and if that happens growth could pick up."

That was from the financial reporting press, not the "Liberal Media." It shows, in an objective manner, that old-fashioned public spending -- which even the GOP of the 50s, 60s and 70s was behind -- actually benefits the economy.

It also brings me back to the point of the posted article. What does the contemporary GOP stand for? Other than slashing tax rates on the top earners, and pushing an outdated social agenda, there really is no "there" there. Since Romney is not really a social warrior (although he has been playing one on TV), his entire reason to be has to be to cut taxes on people like him. To do so means to embrace the Ryan budget and the economic contraction it undoubtedly would cause.

Meg Tufano April 30, 2012

+Jeffrey Raskin Amen, Bro. We must get President Obama re-elected. That is the practical solution right in front of us. I wish I understood politics better and what to do next, but it is obvious that President Obama is reading Krugman and others and has good advisors and we are the beneficiaries of his humility on this subject. Why this is not apparent to the general public? Apparently, some PEW study showed that negative news minutes about President Obama are enormous (even on shows that are supposed to be non-political.) I do not understand any of this. I get almost all my news from print, not TV.

Jeffrey Raskin April 30, 2012

+Meg Tufano We are indeed growing. Private sector growth was higher than overall growth last quarter because of cuts in public spending. Job losses in the public sector are a drag on overall employment levels. We need more public spending, not less.

Meg Tufano April 30, 2012

+Jeffrey Raskin You are describing the Republican budget. And you are wrong about our country's growth statistics. From three sources, but the one I can remember right now is Fareed Zakaria's show today (April 29, 2012) that we are growing at 2% for sure, but maybe 3%. Everyone else IN THE WORLD who decided to do the belt-tightening instead of the radical investments is going in a negative direction. +Marie Meservy You are not "getting" it that we, too, spent ourselves broke, but we had better leadership and so we're getting out the frying pan faster. We need President Obama in office because his financial plan (published, anyone can read (!!!!!!!)) is all about investing in infrastructure, education and basic research (innovation). In other words, he "gets" what to do to save the system.

Jeffrey Raskin April 30, 2012

In the U.S., though, we are witnessing a reverse phenomenon:

"On Friday, new government data showed that economic growth slowed in the first three months of the year, in part because government at the local, state and federal level has been spending less money — money that could have fueled economic activity." (

Well, there you go. Cuts in public spending are weighing down the economy. We need another stimulus. One side of the argument, though, will hear none of it, but instead proposes -- and passes -- a faux budget that takes even more public sector money out of the economy while slashing tax rates even further. They are simply going the wrong way.

Marie Meservy April 29, 2012

But +Meg Tufano and +Jeffrey Raskin, it's not the austerity that's the problem, rather it's everything that led up to it. Basic economics: If those governments didn't spend themselves broke in the first place, they wouldn't have to resort to cuts. They never even begin talking about austerity until they're already on the crash course. At that point, tightening the belt lessens the damage that would have been done, but doesn't completely get rid of it. The alternative would be to let the currency be destroyed completely and start over.

Jeffrey Raskin April 29, 2012

Despite the constitution being rooted in compromise -- or maybe even because of it -- divided government simply does not work in practice. While small government ideologues might profess a love for gridlock, the past year-and-a-quarter have been a disaster. A party based on perpetual "No" controls the House and has enough votes in the Senate to filibuster everything. Meanwhile, they engage in transparent political stunts by seeking to raid a women's preventative health care program -- which they call a "slush" fund -- ostensibly to pay for an extension in a student loan interest rate cut they bitterly oppose.

The solution is not inward looking so-called reforms. Term limits are based on the bizarre notion of "stop us before we elect this bum again." In my state -- California -- they have been a joke since the place is perpetually run by a bunch of amateurs. By the same token, the "throw all the bums out" sentiment, also echoed on this thread, might feel good but is not a program.

So, the solution is not to vote for divided government. It leads to paralysis. It gives the party that does not hold the Presidency a constant veto.

As noted by +Meg Tufano, imposing austerity is not the answer. Growth is being inhibited by contracting government spending. Employment losses in recent quarters have been in the public sector. That is keeping overall Jon growth down.

Jeff Jockisch April 29, 2012

Great point about the Courts, +Anne-Marie Clark. And interesting analogy re legislation and klout!

Anne-Marie Clark April 29, 2012

More than the election, some particular court cases to be decided before the next election are going to have a bigger, long lasting impact, in the US and world. Note who is filing, what circuits decide what, who has gained or lost standing, etc. These are affecting legislation being brought, which in turn is affecting what suits are being filed. +Jeff Jockisch, I know you like Klout and its siblings. Think of the court cases as a Klout score for legislation.

I think the "election" is pretty much over and dead news.

David Petersen April 29, 2012

Wanting to move to +Jeff Jockisch 's planet!!!! :-)

Jeff Jockisch April 29, 2012

+J.C. Kendall Agreed, though I am optimistic, perhaps perversely so.

I think all of the economic disruption going on, and all of the productivity gains it enables, might outstrip our government's ability to screw it all up :)

J.C. Kendall April 29, 2012

+Jeff Jockisch I think we do agree, Jeff. I cannot see these elections doing anything for the nation, regardless of who wins. The GOP if they win, will spend their time reversing Obama, and not much on the issues I mentioned.

I'm not optimistic for the future of this country, and I expect a very bad dip in the economy near year end.

Jeff Jockisch April 29, 2012

Some very good reasoning, +David Petersen and +J.C. Kendall and +Meg Tufano and +Anne-Marie Clark and +Marie Meservy and +Chuck Cortes and several more of you further up in the thread.

We all have our predilections even our biases, but I think we agree about many things, including that the process itself, the way government is functioning, is problematic.

Do we all agree that more than just elections are needed to fix the problem? That whoever wins is still going find it impossible to focus on the good of the country?

Loving the considered discussion.

Meg Tufano April 29, 2012

I gotta say that this is one of the best, most mature and least emotionally disabled conversations I have witnessed on this or any other social collective.
--+David Petersen

Welcome to +Jeff Jockisch 's polite politics world!

I agree that there is money influencing everyone everywhere; except the best way to get out of our current mess is to re-elect President Obama, get Democrats into Congress, get more stimulus going (it is working: we are growing at 3%, while the rest of the world is going down, down, down.) If Obama's financial plans could get through Congress, they will increase the chances for our children's future by our investments now in infrastructure, education and basic research. Every country that went the Republican route (draconian belt-tightening) has ended up going down the chute economy-wise. Their future economies now look even more grim than when Mr. Obama took office. Yes, even Germany.

Even our exports are up due to the brilliant "audible" on the car industry! (He didn't make a promise to save it, but he did.)

The ideal is just that and wouldn't it be nice if we could get rid of special interests and money influence peddlars. But we cannot do it in the few months between now and November. You can say the Democrats have done XYZ, but President Obama has delivered on every one of his promises except GITMO (and if he could tell us, I'm sure he'd tell us why). I'm repeating myself: but we must work with the world as we find it. The answer is NOT 42. ;')

David Petersen April 29, 2012

I appreciate the use of the Soapbox, it seemed to inspire me...

I believe I will join you in that beer and drink to your continued health +J.C. Kendall (BTW I couldn't agree with you more!!!)

J.C. Kendall April 29, 2012

+David Petersen +Marie Meservy

David, forgive me, but that was my soapbox, it just go away from me for a bit... My take, is that we as a nation have lost our pragmatism. Sure, we have goals on either side that have merit, ideas for the future that need funding, planning, etc. But, right now, both sides need to stop, take a deep breath and fix what is wrong.

For example, in my opinion, the single worst thing wrong in America is our energy policy. Green energy is a great idea, that simply is not ready. One side wants to force it down our throats, the other side wants to deny research dollars. How about both sides get over it long enough to simply use the energy we have, to bring down prices and spur economic growth? Why cant they share credit?

Then, we have men dying all over the world in wars where we have no plan for victory, and no exit plan. Why? Because whatever we choose, each side is afraid of blame. And why is this? It is because political office has become a ticket to wealth, and power. We no longer have statesmen, we have whores who will say whatever, and be whatever is necessary to win. I personally cannot stand Mitt Romney, though I cannot abide Obama either.

There is one solution I feel will solve our problems in this country, and it is called TERM LIMITS. Politics needs to become a duty to the nation, and not a drag on our futures, so that a few can sell their souls to special interests on either side while doing all they can to prevent the other side from advancing. It is a war of attrition, and we are the battlefield.

I will now take MY soapbox, and go back to my regularly scheduled beer.

David Petersen April 29, 2012

I gotta say that this is one of the best, most mature and least emotionally disabled conversations I have witnessed on this or any other social collective. With very little exception the conversation has been direct, to the point and not insulting or denegrading...

As far as the Republican vs. Democrat and who is the greater evil... I am convinced that Special Interests has poisoned our process along with PAC monies.

I am not better off today than I was 4 years ago (been out of work since August 2011) as is most of the country. I have to deeply feel that our government officials feel that our pain is of little or no consequence and that we feel powerless to do anything about it.

I said it in an earlier post, the people need to purge these insiders... We don't need an Obama to battle the Republicans or a Romney to battle the Democrats, we need a president who will work with congress (and vice versa) and help this country out of this gas pain we are in. In otherwords, we can kiss the next 4 years off, whoever gets in will suffer the same retardation and we need to effect the change over time as each seat in the House and the Senate comes up for election, we need to take each one seriously and vote the man not the party... As a registered (right term?) Independent that is how I vote everytime...

We alos need to put getting rid of Special Interests and PAC money, they are too hard to resist.

Damn that soapbox poped up again...

Meg Tufano April 29, 2012

+Anne-Marie Clark +Chuck Cortes +Marie Meservy I definitely agree that if you start a "compromise" with X by saying X sucks, you are definitely not going to get anywhere. Those compromise days are now over: and they did not start that way at all. We watched President Obama bend himself into a pretzel to get even the remotest compromise with Republicans. "What about ten dollars in cuts for every dollar in raised taxes?" (Which is not a compromise at all, it's a capitulation.) And they STILL would not "compromise." THAT is why we now are in the position of saying X sucks. And it is not equal on both parties: the Republicans have become an embarrassment to themselves . They cannot even get their own best people to run for President! And they are stuck with either an extremist who seems to have gotten stuck in the 50's (Santorum), a hypocrite of such major proportions that he must have an ego the size of the universe (Newt, who was raging against the immorality of Clinton's adultery while committing adultery) and the Zelig creature Romney. They have smart people who would make good Presidents: in my opinion, those savvy people won't run because of the people in Congress of their own party.

Marie Meservy April 29, 2012

+Chuck Cortes I do agree with that assessment, and I referred to "Republicans" and "Democrats" as the voters as well as the government. Because everyone's been trying to use the government to force everyone else to conform to their own lifestyle, what we've gotten is an increasingly powerful government that doesn't really conform to anyone's wishes. At the end of every discussion, I've yet to meet a single American who is happy with the government.

+Anne-Marie Clark What a great statement: Compromise and resolutions are extremely difficult to achieve when a non-X opens with the assertion "The Xs are the problem." I will add that the minority will always feel that the majority are harsh and unyielding, and the current situation is just that--situational. Let's not forget that the Democratic party used to be the entrenched power, not only last election but also back in the day when they would filibuster against granting blacks and women the right to vote.

Anne-Marie Clark April 29, 2012

Compromise (the beneficial meaning) and resolutions are extremely difficult to achieve when a non-X opens with the assertion "The Xs are the problem." This is particularly true when the Xs have serious financial backing. An entity not in charge will (withhold sex... refuse to go to sleep... not be home by curfew...) filibuster and obfuscate or whatever else is within their power, because no one is completely powerless and everyone wants their interests protected and their voice heard. None of this is new. Every nation, on down to the family unit, has operated that way since time began. I can list an obnoxious Dem/liberal statement for every GOP/conservative statement lobbed the other way and vice versa. The same is the case for statements that say Congress or SCOTUS or rich people or lawyers or whatever your hate-flavor are stupid or idiots or evil or conspiring to keep the people enslaved---the them vs me.

Two basic ideas in mediation and other problem solving arenas are to start by sucking it up and letting go of having to assign blame first, and to decide that we all value resolutions more than pinning blame.

Meg Tufano April 29, 2012

Do Not Break Party Ranks

Well, +Jeff Jockisch all I can say is that I am an American first, then a Democrat. The Republican's behavior last summer showed that they are Republicans first, Americans second. This is not a disputable fact. They were willing to let our economy (as in dire straights as it was) suffer more so that they could gain . . .


And this is what I don't understand. What could they gain? I will NEVER understand what they could gain because it is a pure power gain with no content. It's as if I could make you do back flips by just hitting the letter X on my computer. NO MEANING. They were willing to do this because . . . they could?????

Now, I do sort of understand that kind of behavior because it is, frankly, everywhere money abounds. I will make you bend because I can and it makes me feel good, so BEND!

But it is not at all what we are about as a country, not what we are about as individual American citizens. I'm repeating myself, I'm sorry: but we got a better President than we deserved because we elected him and then let him hang in the wind. We did not support anything he did. The Congressional elections two years later proves this. It is almost as if we thought he could lead with a magic wand!!!!!!!!!!!!! ??

When one sees that someone has the brains, instincts and good will to lead you to a better place, and you vote for that person? You need to help him because the WORLD is not going to be in his corner. Why? Because the world enjoys a good fight, a circus, etc. And we, the citizens, did not do much to help our President even have the "normal" American honeymoon.

It is a lot like a wedding (a President and his/her people): there are always vulnerable moments at the beginning. We gave NO quarter. We did nothing to help President Obama and the fact that he fulfilled his promises? WE do not get the glory: it's all on him. He understood his situation. He carried on despite our lack of support. And he has done a simply amazing job. He kept (as so far we are counting) 165 of his promises (

He did not promise to save Detroit. But he did that too.

My bet is that we will discover after President Obama finishes his second term that there is something about GITMO that is not discussable with the public. (Does everyone realize that GITMO is the other side of the island of Cuba?)

In any case, I've seen a lot of Presidents come and go. President Obama has been faithful, smart and helpful to the many instead of the few. It is astonishing to me that so few seem to realize this. I do not know why.

I became a "permanent" Democrat on the day that the Republicans published the Monica Lewinsky Grand Jury testimony (a felony for you or me). It was so unabashedly and––despite my distaste for Mr. Clinton's behavior––so wrong . I will never recover.

Then "The Selection." And that is why I am where I am on the spectrum of politics.

The Republicans had a good ride. But they have no idea of the horrific emotions they are creating with their "Just Say No" philosophy. It is making even people like me (grasshoppers) SO afraid of them! They are not even giving me a way to understand where they're coming from! (I usually work at that.)

Instead, they're saying, "My way, or the highway." And I'm thinking, Man, the highway.


Anyone else out there with this same Whaa????? are you thinkin'????

Jeff Jockisch April 29, 2012

Of course, +J.C. Kendall, I value your input.

We can not grow if we do not listen to each other. As smart humans, I believe we will always have more goals in common than we do apart.

Chuck Cortes April 29, 2012

+Marie Meservy I agree about the half and half but to be honest I believe its more like Republicans and Democrats are 1/4 part or the problem, the other 3/4s, the real problem in this nation, are it's citizens. We have become a nation of needy people who expect the Gov't to solve all of our problems, and not so much our problems as a whole (for the entire nation), but individual problems. People think every time they don't like something the Govt should pass a law against it regardless if 99% of the population is against the law. It begs the question why do we call it the United States when people here see themselves as individuals, as "every man for themselves", as Puerto Rican, Russian, German, African, Mexican, Chinese, Canadian, Cuban, Italian, British, Australian, Irish, Iranian, Iraqi, Egyptian, Jamaican; but hardly anyone calls themselves Americans. The only time people even consider being American is where their rights are being infringed or they are in another country and somehow think being American is like having diplomatic immunity.

Jeff Jockisch April 29, 2012

I'm not quite so despondent about our prospects, +Marie Meservy.

But there are big problems in front us, no matter our political colors, which I take to be your point and very much agree with.

J.C. Kendall April 29, 2012

+Jeff Jockisch I appreciate that acknowledgement, Jeff. Happy hunting.

john edwards April 29, 2012

My observation is that the Republicans in Congress are more disciplined than the Democrats. They tend to present a more united front and do not break party ranks in anywhere near the numbers as Democrats.

Tammie Dunn April 29, 2012

we're not about to fall off the cliff; it was written somewhere the constitution is to lawyers what the bible is to Christians, so the goal has been lost in the struggle. What are we to do to but pick up the pieces and re-group and start again, the human will to survive. Why has it been brought to such a bloody battle?

Marie Meservy April 29, 2012

+Jeff Jockisch Well, the point is not that they are equal, just that they are both evil. How much worse one is than the other is really irrelevant if neither is competent; either way we'll fall off a cliff, whether it's tomorrow or the next day.

Jeff Jockisch April 29, 2012

+Marie Meservy certainly issues on both sides, but i would argue with the equality you suggest. Agree that neither seems to care about the constitution.

Jeff Jockisch April 29, 2012

+David Petersen Im not entirely opposed to your suggestion, but i think we need to get rid of the money, the influence peddling, the unlimited campaign funds if that strategy is to affect any real change.

Jeff Jockisch April 29, 2012

You make good points about certain democratic fails, +J.C. Kendall

I do not have enough evidence to effectively refute your argument, but i think it exists.

David Petersen April 29, 2012

Perhaps it is time to pull the big chain that flushes the contents of both ends of the US Capital into the Patomac. That chain is your vote... The common man has relinquished his power under the weight of sheer apathy and the Washington insiders know it. The only reason Obama gained the office was because the people felt he was the messiah who could stretch his hands ocross the country and affect change... NOT GONNA HAPPEN FOLKS!!! We put some fear into them 2 years ago and have lost the momentum... let's take this country back by causing the change that Obama promised by getting rid of the old guard and inserting fresh blood, it won't be perfect, but its gotta be better!!!!

Soapbox neatly put back in the closet...
Thank you for your time

Marie Meservy April 28, 2012

+Doug Scott The lesser of two evils is still evil. Both parties are extreme. Both won't compromise. Neither has any clue what the constitution is about.

J.C. Kendall April 28, 2012

+Doug Scott Are you aware that Democrats went 20 months without allowing a single GOP initiative to come to the floor for a vote during the Bush term? Whether pass or fail, they would not even allow a vote. What is happening is nothing new. Both sides have determined that if they cannot have all three branches to move their agenda, their best move is to obstruct. To suggest that only one side does it, would be wrong on its face.

Doug Scott April 28, 2012

+Marie Meservy If you say that, you don't get the point of the original article. It used to be that both sides were as bad as each other, but the GOP has gone extreme and won't compromise. The US constitution is based on compromise, so the system of government is threatened to the point of impotence. The article gives precise examples where US governance is under threat.

J.C. Kendall April 28, 2012

+Marie Meservy ***APPLAUSE***

Marie Meservy April 28, 2012

Republicans are half the problem. Democrats are the other half.

Chuck Cortes April 28, 2012

+John Lewis Which is why I believe all these right infringing laws like CISPA, NDAA and others are being passed. Alone they are not all that powerful if people just stood up against them but together and with people ignoring them, they will be like a combined power to create a weapon to try to stop us from fighting back.

J.C. Kendall April 28, 2012

I'm not a Republican, but I would like one of you to tell me where the WP asserts that Allen West's comments were inaccurate? Democrats can call Black Conservative women Monkeys (Rice) and not a word is spoken. The hypocrisy is breathtaking, but we are used to it.

As for the rest, Conservatives have grown used to this kind of drivel coming from the Post. The GOP is a disaster, but much less so than the Democrats. I have no intention of taking that opinion down piece by piece. The question was whether or not I agree with it.

I most certainly do not. This post will change no minds one way or the other, so I only wished to point out that there are indeed other points of view, which can also "remain civil". Lets see if it holds, because I'm not going to argue.

Chris Hoffmann April 28, 2012

I'm not even sure what the goals are, +Jeff Jockisch. The number one goal seems to be stopping any and all progress simply because they can. I also understand the idea of fear of change and 'the other', but at some point, someone needs to stand up and say enough already. And I do not count myself as in line with either party currently, though I do think Obama has done a good job with what he has been dealt. I'm most disgusted with legislation, supported by people on both sides of the aisle, that attempts to control my body and how I take care of it. This may seem off the immediate topic, but I think the idea of projecting personal beliefs into legislation is the major problem with all politicians right now. Believe what you want to believe, but you may not force me to think the same way by enacting laws based on belief.

Doug Scott April 28, 2012

The French "ancien regime" is a good model for this - and that was ended with the bloody French Revolution. I'm just saying...

Tammie Dunn April 28, 2012

How about an e-mail threatening that Mitt Romney has $1B to throw at Obama?

John Lewis April 28, 2012

+Ben Kunz I agree with all you've said, but I'll also add the empire is in decline. The First World is showing it's wear from a huge military budget that's a legacy from WWII. The US outspends China (a far larger country, btw) almost 7 to 1 for its military.

This was the way Rome fell.

In addition the wealthy show no signs of understand the social contract that requires them to hide or control their wealth from those without. There will always be a pyramid of wealth, it cannot be anything but in human society, but the wealthy have only few options when it comes to holding on to their power. One is obfuscation and that worked in the US for a long time.

In France they flaunted their wealth in the face of the poor. The masses stood up and openly revolted. I fear it will happen again in the US soon.

In short, in addition to all the problems you see, there is a class war brewing under the surface that the rich are ignore and will attempt to clamp down with false claims of terrorism. The backlash will be horrific.

Jeff Jockisch April 28, 2012

+Ben Kunz I think that you see the situation as I do. What I have to wonder about is the politicians that stoke that fear for personal gain.

Ben Kunz April 28, 2012

America's bipolar political disorder has a few triggers. We are exiting a horrible recession that caused millions to lose their homes and required a bailout of financial institutions to keep ATMs from locking up, and people felt scared and out of control. Obama is a half-black man from an urban city, and an undercurrent of racism may have given rise to extremist responses (remember McCain's "Who is Barack Obama?" ads); this may explain why I know people in my home state of Vermont who ardently believe Obama is a Muslim who goes to a radical Christian church. I do think the biggest undercurrent is Americans are afraid and don't understan the complexities of government; if you live in a red state with wide horizons, the cities and banks seem very far away, run by evil "others" who may be trying to manipulate you.

I spoke with a woman from England at SXSW in Austin a few years ago, when the healthcare bill was being so hotly debated. She laughed in confusion, saying by European standards, the bill has hardly socialist but a rather conservative extension of benefits that already exist under U.S. Medicare. I saw a photo from AP that year of an elderly woman at a protest rally holding a sign that read, "Don't touch my Medicare to Support Socialism." That sign told me all I need to know about American confusion.

We're afraid, we've been beat up, and we want to blame others. Hostility is a normal reaction. It's easier to hate another side than to realize our own actions, such as paying billions for wars without raising taxes and buying homes we cannot afford, are the cause of our despair.

Jeff Jockisch April 28, 2012

+John Lewis I agree with that, as do the authors as I read it. But the point is that one side, or at least one party, is acting more dysfunctional that the other.

Jeff Jockisch April 28, 2012

It seems to me +Chris Hoffmann and +Chuck Cortes that t the GOP is no longer interested in working toward their goals, but instead have to be all in (as in poker) on every vote. Its very obstructionist with lots of brinkmanship.

Certainly the Democrats have done the same at times, but no one there is making pledges to never ever bend.

Politics doesn't work without bending.

John Lewis April 28, 2012

I believe this problem has bi-partisan support.

Jeff Jockisch April 28, 2012

+Tammie Dunn I like the 'nillionaires' moniker :)

Chuck Cortes April 28, 2012

Couldn't agree more. I was once a Republican voter with Conservative opinions. These days I still have my Conservative opinions, but the Republican party has me wondering how I ever thought they could be the right party to vote for. Not only are they against the people and in favor of corporations, not only are they obsessed with ruling by the bible (I am Catholic BTW), not only are they so crazy that even when Obama agrees with them they still criticize him, they are also the cause of all of our problems with Obama following their lead.

Chris Hoffmann April 28, 2012

I too, politely, concur with your and this article's sentiment +Jeff Jockisch.

Tammie Dunn April 28, 2012

So what are us nillionaires supposed to do?