EFFECTIVE REPRESENTATION

There was only one race on Tuesday with an outcome that legitimately qualified as "shocking." Certainly there was a lot of turnover throughout both the House and Senate but all of it was, if not expected, at least somewhat plausible in the pre-election analysis. All of it except for the defeat of 18-term Congressman Jim Oberstar by a 50 year-old retired Northwest Airlines pilot named, I shit you not, Chip Cravaack. Even the RNC and the pro-GOP media seemed utterly shocked by Congressman-elect Cravaack's victory over one of the more well-established and -respected Democrats in the Midwest.

Political scientists are often accused of elitism for trying to tell voters what is in their own self-interest, but I will run that risk. Removing Oberstar from office is very, very contrary to the self-interest of the people in MN-08. The district is in the far northeast of the state and it is essentially a rural wasteland (former Mesabi Range iron country) excepting the "urban" areas of Duluth and Brainerd. Which is to say, the entire district is a wasteland. More accurately, and to quote a Minnesotan colleague from graduate school, "the entire district is one continuous Federal highway project." This is relevant because of the lack of meaningful alternative economic activity in the district, the primary exports of which are snow and suicide. And it certainly didn't hurt that Rep. Oberstar was the chairman (or ranking minority member when under Republican leadership) of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, better known in Washington as the High Temple of Targeted Economic Development Spending. You know, the slush fund.

Oberstar did a remarkably effective job of funneling highway projects to his district, and in fairness the horrible winters in the area made highway maintenance a more costly proposition than it would be in Texas, for example. Well, the people of MN-08 can kiss most of that money goodbye (although we'll reconsider that in just a moment). Chip Cravaack isn't going to be the chairman of anything, and the odds that he will be remotely influential in Congress between now and 2012 are extremely long. Jim Oberstar's job was to bring money back to his economically moribund district. Chip Cravaack's job is going to be to sit there with his mouth shut and vote how Glenn Beck John Boehner tells him.

But! But! Surely the voters of MN-08 will be thrilled by this development. They want nothing more than to see "pork" and "earmarks" and "government spending" slashed to zero as soon as possible. After all, that's why they voted for Chip Cravaack, right? Let's hope that the Tea Party delivers what they asked for.

One of the following two things will happen, and in my view the most interesting part of the next two years will be seeing how this plays out.

  • 1. The new GOP majority will slash all of the local pork projects along with lots of other government spending, decimating the economies of places like MN-08. Wait. What I mean is, they will grow the economy by cutting business taxes, so that small businesses in MN-08 (you know…road construction companies) can start hiring again! Free enterprise to the rescue! In the complete absence of demand, surely a tax cut will hammer away at unemployment. Sarcasm aside, if they actually cut everything they have promised to cut, rural districts are about to get bent over and unceremoniously fucked.

  • 2. The coalition of incoherent retirees, slack-jawed rubes, and businessmen that elected the Chip Cravaacks of the world will have a remarkable change of heart about government spending when they realize the likely impact on their own district. And Rep. Cravaack will respond the same way every other Congressman in the history of the institution has responded – by declaring the highway funds, ag subsidies, and other Federal dollars to his district "essential spending" while decrying the money funneled to the other 434 districts as "waste" and "pork."

    Option #1 would force voters to live with the consequences of their decisions and the policies they claim to support. As our entire political culture is built on the foundational idea that no one has to live with the consequences of their own actions, that means that Option #1 is about as likely as a Pittsburgh Pirates World Series appearance in 2011. Option #2, of course, means that absolutely nothing will change. The giant freshman class of Republicans – an unsightly parade of the lame, the halt, and the ugly – will very quickly fall in line with the norms of the institution, trying their damnedest to secure their own re-election by redirecting as much of everyone else's tax dollars to his or her district as possible.

    In short, this is going to be hilarious, at least until 2012 when they successfully blame the fact that the deficit continued to grow (thanks to more irresponsible tax cuts without either offsetting spending cuts or the subsequent economic growth that supply-siders constantly promise) on those goddamn liberals.

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  • 38 Responses to “EFFECTIVE REPRESENTATION”

    1. Erin Says:

      The last time a team finished last in the National League in pitching (ERA), batting (BA) and fielding (%) was the 1965 New York Mets.

      Pirates have the 2014 World Series in a tractor beam.

      I have nothing else to add.

      /FMT
      //Fuck My Team, in case you didn't know.

    2. Erin Says:

      Shit. The 2010 Pirates finished last in all of those categories.

    3. J. Dryden Says:

      OK, so, obvious question: why are Republicans inevitably more successful on blaming their failures on other people than Democrats? They'll accomplish nothing in the next two years–correction: they'll see to it that nothing gets accomplished–and in 2012, they'll blame their own failures on Democratic incumbents. And It Will Work.

      2008 proved that they can't do it *all* the time, but God-damn was 2010 a perfect instance of blaming a problem that their policies created on the politicians who inherited that policy. And doing so with rousing success. Is it just Fox News? It can't be *just* Fox News, right? How do they do it???

      No, seriously, I'm asking. How? If you're conservative, allow me to offer a non-partisan version of the question: Why can't Democrats succeed at telling the same self-serving lies as Republicans, since clearly, if they could, they would? I'm genuinely baffled.

    4. PissedinMN08 Says:

      Ed, I'm a longtime reader (4+ years now!) and life-long resident of Minnesota's 8th District.

      You hit the nail right on the head. There is not a single goddamn word in your entire post that was wrong or misleading. MN-08 is, like almost all rural districts, pretty much totally dependent on federal spending. Hell, my hometown's primary employer (by far) is the state & federal government.

      And you wouldn't believe how much our winters fuck up our roads. Every summer there's shittons of road construction just to deal with about 5-10 miles of road that needs to be fixed and next year there's 5-10 more miles and by the end of fixing all of Highway 61, you've got to start all over again.

      So, Oberstar was pretty much the best damn congressman we could've hoped for here (he wasn't corrupt/greedy, he was liberal, a solid supporter of labor and other interests for workers and lower and middle-class people). That Cravaack beat him makes me sick at how stupid my district has turned because of the Teatards and Fox News.

      No one had ever heard of Cravaack, partially because he's only been here since 2003, apparently and I'd written him off, assuming that my district would give me hope that not all of our country is as forgetful and willfully ignorant as its shown itself it can be.

      I was wrong.

      Now, don't get me wrong, I'd known that in a couple of electoral cycles, I'd have a new congressman just because Oberstar is in his mid-70s already, and I doubt he would've pulled a Thurmond and died in office, aged 100. I knew that eventually, a lot of the federal money for projects would get cut due to having a freshman replace a committee chair, but I assumed that it would at least be by a congressman who realized that that money is goddamn necessary for his district to survive.

      So, in short, I'm utterly disappointed and somewhat disgusted by the stupidity and short-sightedness of the voters of my district. But, I thank you for making the best G&T post in a long time to make things (slightly) better.

      /rant

      P.S- I read your NPF post on Alli to my mom and she actually laughed at parts of it. Which is odd considering my mom doesn't usually laugh at shit jokes with tons of swearing, so bravo again, sir.

    5. Nunya Says:

      I have lived in Seattle for about 15 years. We're not a large city but part of a fairly prosperous part of t country that is based on a strip of water known as the puget sound corridor.

      This little sliver of the state represents over 70% of the state's revenue. To the east and west of us represents the counties I will hereafter refer to as dumbfuckistan.

      The rural parts of my fair state have no idea that they are on welfare. Yes, that's right, welfare. These hard-working souls have no idea that these "liberal elites: actually finance the very public works that they need to survive. They constantly vote down state funding to urban transportation projects, bridges that will support more motorists in a day than their highway sees in a year and that actually produces more per pinko soul than their Ford F-350 driving asses will in five.

      The absolutely galling thing is that these ignorant fools want to cut spending at all costs. After all, they do real work for a living. I build roads ferchristsake! What these dullards fail to comprehend is that under their free-market, laissez faire model, not only would they not be able to live in the bucholic communiteis that they do, that they would have no roads, no rail, no power, and no access to the markets that buy their agricultural products and no jobs whatsoever for tose in heavy industry.

      I've called out my rural bretheren on this many times and the absolute denial of the economic realities makes their addled brains nearly explode.

      Listen, you ignorant little fucks… You need the urban areas to support your priveledged asses. Without the tax base from "them liberals" you would live the same way my family did for 400 years in this country… namely, you would be subsistence level dirt farmers.

      The absolute lack of understanding of the free flowing dollars from urban to rural areas staggers the imagination. I appreciate the rural people and their production of the food that I depend on but don't, for a minute, think that you are not living a heavily subsidized life.

    6. Nunya Says:

      @ PissedinMN08 – Well said, sir.

    7. anotherbozo Says:

      So Oberstar is just the new Tom Daschle, right? I remember being aghast at the trade of Daschle, with his seniority and influence, by the South Dakota vox populi, for a powerless freshman senator. For national tickets, I know we've been voting against our own best interests with a vengeance for decades–it's just our way–but then I began noticing the lunacy extends to individual representatives where not merely "cultural values" but real, measurable dollars are at stake.

      Maybe Daschle's ouster was decided by the influx of outside Repuglican smear money, and was a harbinger of the flood of anonymous funding now, post Citizens United.

      Only reason for encouragement is the money-isn't-everything lesson some of the contests. A sad pass if the hope for our democracy lies with the increasing cynicism and sales resistance of the American TV audience.

    8. Shane Says:

      I would love nothing better than to see the newly elected Tea Partiers go in and try to put their collective feet down like some sort of Mr. Smith goes to Washington reenactment. "We don't want your federal stimulus dollars to our state, no sir. You take all of this money back and pay off the deficit so that are grandkids won't have to." I am not sure which would be better, watching their constituents slowly come to the realization of what they have done or watching the Republican party implode in the House.

      However, I have no such hope that they will actually do what they have said they will, alas.

    9. comrade x Says:

      Alas, even Minnesota is slowlly becoming Teatarded. It is the end result of a migration of Mouthbreathers who fled the free market reformed economies of their conservative states to Minnesota. Being about as intelligent as a fungus, of course they never made the connection between Minnesota's high standard of living and the money that was spent on excellent public services and infrastructure. So these rubes got here, bitched about the " high" taxes, and voted for the same kind of people who destroyed Michigan, Indiana, or the rest of the Mid- West. That's how we ended up with Tim Pawlenty, Lord of The Collapsed Bridge and Master of The Pothole, as governor.
      Add that to the fact that the glory days of The Iron Range are long gone, and so are the workers who were so tenacious in fighting to get their rights that the Feds were worried about an outright commie rebellion in the 1930s.

    10. Elder Futhark Says:

      …I think it's time for a little jujitsu and creative civil disobedience.

      For example, if ten million people would be willing to take a nice heaping steaming shit in a Reynolds wrap turkey bag (to cancel the odors, like what pot growers do), box it up, and ship it to Mitch Mcconnell or FoxNews headquarters or some other needy person. That might fun. A little "Thinking of You" note attached would be nice touch as well.

    11. SeaTea Says:

      Even if option #2 comes to pass (and it will… the only sport left at this point is seeing how fast these "fiscally responsible" tea baggers become big-corporation republicans), there still remains the issue that the newly-minted congressman is going to have very limited ability to bring home the pork even after he decides that it's needed to ensure his re-election.

      Those folks are still fucked, as they deserve to be.

    12. zach Says:

      It's a joke. Republicans aren't going to cut any spending. Boehner's already said his first move is to make permanent all the Bush era tax cuts and then roll back the Medicare reimbursement rate cuts that we made, you know, to keep the system solvent.

      Some really great representatives got canned on Tuesday. Oberstar is one of them, but I think Senator Feingold getting beat by a high-school drop out who claims "Atlas Shrugged" as foundational takes the cake this cycle. Essentially Feingold refused soft money ads, and tried to rely on small dollar in state donations, while his opponent self-funded and took advantage of unlimited untraceable corporate spending. It just shows how fucked our Democracy really is.

    13. JT Says:

      Ed's report about Crackhouse (or whatever the hell his name is) reminds me of the Senators Ed & I share here in The Great State of Georgia. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson are totally opposed to "wasteful gubmint spending," except that they're all in favor of throwing endless money at the worthless F-22 boondoggle, since it's built right here in GA.

    14. secretseasons Says:

      I moved to Duluth (MN-08) just over a year ago, from the greater Bay Area of California. In the short- to medium-term, there's probably nothing I can do about where we live — for career reasons we'll probably stay here a while.

      My question is: What can those of us who are rational, progressive, and not-batshit-insane do to survive and thrive in these fucktarded environments and times? I'm honestly asking. I am constantly either angry or depressed (or both).

    15. Erin Says:

      @ secretseasons-

      I have no idea. I'm in Alaska. During the time when the "Ground Zero mosque" was going to eat New York City, I had to endure a bunch of anti-everything comments ("They put those mosques up wherever they conquered," being my favorite). Never having been to Manhattan, I would tell people that there are 5 strip clubs between Ground Zero and where the "mosque" (Community Center would have induced a fist-fight, I think) was planned to be built and didn't- the- Pilgrims- come-to- the- New- World- to- escape- religious- persecution- Happy- Thanksgiving. That usually stopped the bullshit.

      Just calmly lie with authority and baffle them with a universally held truth that they've known all their lives. If those don't work, prepare to be left alone and/or learn how to protect yourself.

    16. mojidoji Says:

      @ secretseasons:

      Stop watching the news and stop feeling sorry for yourself. The people in your district didn't change; your representative did.

    17. displaced Capitalist Says:

      Dryden: The reason is that time and again the Democrats have failed to point out the Republican's failures and instead put their hands between their legs and whine that they're just misunderstood. It's like that hilarious Onion article from the other day: "Democrats: 'If We're Gonna Lose, Let's Go Down Running Away From Every Legislative Accomplishment We've Made'"

      It's sad, but very, very true.

    18. J. Dryden Says:

      @displaced Capitalist: It *is* true, but *why*? I've puzzled it over, and I wonder if it has something to do with the character of those who believe in GOP principles versus those who believe in Dem. principles. Whether there's a sort of personality drawn to one set of beliefs or another. It must be so, surely.

      Once a year, I take part in a fundraising event in D.C., based around the performance of a lengthy sketch I write, and in which members of Congress perform. All of them are good sports about it, and I spend a lot of time backstage socializing with them (often having to explain why certain jokes are funny–no, honest, this will get a laugh, trust me!)

      I've thus had a chance to meet with elected Reps and Dems when they're 'off-the-clock,' and I can say that almost to a man (not being sexist, they're all men, go figure), the Reps are more easy-going, charming, gregarious, and funny. (My polling sample is terribly small, but still.) People whose politics I despise are really really likable in person.

      The Dems, on the other hand, are mostly well-meaning fumblers who can't tell a joke to save their lives, and in this setting, I invariably gravitate to the GOP members, because they're much more fun (and oddly humble). If these people were to lie, I'd be more easily fooled, because they project a smooth brazenness that the Dems, who are shiftier in person, cannot.

      It has me wondering whether the GOP mindset is just inherently appealing to people who have confidence, and the Dem mindset to those who are anxious. It would explain why one group lies well, and the other, less so.

    19. Radical Scientist Says:

      @ J. Dryden:

      The most convincing explanation I've ever heard came from Thomas Frank (in either "The Wreaking Crew" or "What's the Matter With Kansas;" I don't remember which). Basically, he argued that sometime around the Clinton administration, Democrats decided their base–labor/working class voters especially, but also minority voters, women, environmentalists, and so on–will always know which side their bread is buttered on. That so long as the Democrats offer these groups a slightly better deal than the Republicans, their votes are safe. Which conveniently frees up the Democrats to go after all those sweet corporate donations & private donations from the financially well-off. But those donors are the people who actually benefit from Republican fiscal policy* so pursuing them meant becoming more business-friendly, shying away from anything too class-war-y, and so on. But so long as they stay slightly to the left of the Republicans, their base is safe, right?

      Of course, the catch here is that people don't automatically sense what's best for them; if the other guys dicks them over and blame the Dems, people who don't follow politics won't smell the bullshit unless the Dems get very impolite and start yelling about nefarious corporate interests. At this point, I think it's more a reflex than a strategy; if they move to the left, they really would be sunk without their more affluent backers, and I think most mainstream elected Democrats really believe that the path to victory is to win over mythical centrist independents.

      As for the solution, though, I have no idea.

      *Though they could be anywhere on social issues, so the Dems mostly backed out of the culture wars rather than risk it. Or something. Honestly, I'm not sure why so few Democrats even try to get mileage out of social issues, but my guess is that they don't want to deal with the onslaught of wingnut insanity it brings out, especially when it only gets them a small core of enthusiastic supporters plus a lot of 'yeah, I guess I like that.'

    20. JohnR Says:

      "when they successfully blame [it] on those goddamn liberals."

      Which claim invariably becomes widely-accepted as fact when those self-same liberals grovelingly (is that a real word?) accept the blame and beg the voters not to punish them too harshly. I think the common-or-garden Democratic Party Congressional figure in past centuries would have been a flagellant or some other self-punishing headcase. The GOP, by contrast, is full of confident confidence tricksters and True Believers. You can usually tell them apart by the oily nature of the one (your Newt Gingrich comes to mind), and the fixed grimace and glassy eyes of the other (your Michelle Bachmann is a classic example). The rest of the crew just choose who to line up with.
      In the long run, it doesn't really matter how this plays out, I suppose. We're impossible to teach, we humans. Even what you might call cultural selective pressure can't do the job – on less than a geological time scale anyway: cf the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. A pre-Biblical inhabitant would immediately recognize the various factions involved.

    21. mothra Says:

      I don't even live in MN-08 and I am totally bummed at the loss of Oberstar. Oddly enough, even though he was a champion of highways and roads, he was also one of the most relentless supporters of alternative transportation projects and a strong cycling advocate. As the Chair of the House Transportation committee, he saw to it that cycling projects countrywide received funding and support. I SERIOUSLY doubt his Republican replacement will be any sort of alternative transportation supporter. So bummed.

    22. bjl Says:

      @Nunya – Well said.

      I'm disappointed that the state referendum to tax income over $200,000 failed and the referendum to require 2/3 vote to raise taxes passed (aka "let's get as fucked as Cali").

      Looking @ the returns by county, it's crazy. King county (aka the only place in the state where people actually make money) was somewhat close (disappointingly 55% anti-tax) while places like Adams, Franklin and Walla Walla (aka farms and dirt indistinguishable from Idaho) were overwhelmingly anti-tax (like 75 – 80%). http://vote.wa.gov/Elections/WEI/ResultsByCounty.aspx?ElectionID=37&RaceID=103953&CountyCode=%20&JurisdictionTypeID=-2&RaceTypeCode=M&ViewMode=Results

      We really need to split the state right down the middle of the mountains. Let them see how well they'd do without their commie liberal benefactors.

    23. jeneria Says:

      Wisconsin going red is sad. Yes, taxes are miserably high here, but there's a good quality of life. Our new governor is going to stop the high rail train system (the construction of which is funded by the gov't but opening costs would have to be footed by WI residents), stop stem-cell research (UW Madison is a world leader in this field), gut higher education (because it's not accountable enough), and most bizarrely, he will support a repeal of the smoking ban if it comes up in legislation. I teach at a private college that receives no money from the state or the government (so obviously, I don't teach at Marquette) so that bothers me less than the repealing of the smoking ban.

    24. mojidoji Says:

      @ J. Dryden:

      Democrats tend to be bores. They also have the distinction of often going against traditional thinking. Republicans have it easy – just go with the flow. It really says something about their constituents that they can be such complete assholes. I suppose that's the comfort of ideological certainty playing on their egos.

      @ displaced Capitalist:

      Besides the obvious problem with explaining why voting Republican is seriously stupid, the people who are unable to understand what's going on around them are easy pickings for appeals to fear, etc. So, I guess I'm saying that the question is invalid – American politics is not about debate; it is about emotion. Also, sometimes you get just get burned (even if it's nonsensical) and are better off keeping your mouth shut.

      Seriously, did anyone believe this could have turned out any differently without complete economic recovery? So let's get to the real question. Why are people so disinterested in scientific method as a means to acquire knowledge?

    25. bpasinko Says:

      My new theory (if someone didn't make it up already) is that the teatards go all in on capitalism and free markets because it makes them feel like they are intellectual. By voting that way they get a feeling that they understand the ins and outs of the constitution economic theory all while they fuck themselves in the ass without knowing it.

    26. Matt Says:

      @ J. Dryden

      I agree a lot with what Radical Scientist said, esp as it describes the current situation for the Dems. As for *why* they cannot extract themselves from this situation, well, I think it is a confluence of many sociological and psychological factors. These include, among many others, authoritarianism (http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/), group-think, psychological anchoring and self-delusion. I posit that Reps (esp the far-right) tend to be more susceptible to these mechanisms.

      Add to that the fact that the right has meticulously built up a nearly perfect, self-affirming narrative that makes use (intentionally or not) of these concepts. It is a narrative built on the worst humanity has to offer: it validates greed; it lauds hatred of "others"; it prevents you from having to confront the reality that some people are smarter and/or more informed and/or different than you; and you get to star as the noble victim of a vast "liberal" conspiracy. And it's wrapped up nicely with a tidy little faith-based bow. What's not to like?

      This narrative is a black hole for reason and thoughtfulness. One must constantly strive to keep informed and push the boundaries of their mind and perspective in order not to be sucked in. We've all witnessed someone who was once a reasonable, thoughtful person be sucked into this vortex. And once you're in, it takes nearly inhuman tolerance of cognitive dissonance to claw your way back to reality.

      So, to put this more concretely, the Dems have essentially backed themselves into an impossible position. If they want to fight back, it will require arguments and ideas that simply cannot withstand the onslaught of simplistic jingoism.

    27. mojidoji Says:

      "If they want to fight back, it will require arguments and ideas that simply cannot withstand the onslaught of simplistic jingoism."

      Which becomes ever more difficult as the solution to the problem lies ever beyond their decision space.

    28. Monkey Business Says:

      The explanation for why the GOP does better in rewriting their own narrative and hitting the Dems boils down to this: the GOP has no heart, and the Dems have no spine.

      The GOP can lie, cheat, steal, and fuck over everyone without consequence, because they will never apologize for doing so. They will accuse you of being part of some vast liberal conspiracy sent to undermine them, then go about their business. They will do whatever is necessary to get elected, then do whatever it takes to stay in office, which unfortunately isn't much these days. They have no reason or compulsion to be honest or honorable, because they recognize that it just doesn't fucking matter. If you have two men, and one is yelling lies at the top of his lungs, and the other is telling truths in a normal voice, no one will pay attention to the guy telling the truth.

      The Dems are reactionary. They never lead the attack against a GOP candidate because they don't want to be seen as mean. They respond. Not only that, but they've let the GOP completely control how everything they do is framed. Healthcare reform? Communist takeover. Stimulus package? Government waste to welfare queens. Wall Street and GM bailouts? Socialist takeover. Giving women the right to choose? Killing babies. And so on, and so forth.

      If I could sit in a room with the leaders of the Democratic Party and give them one piece of advice, it would be this: your opponents have no shame, and neither should you. Lie, lie, and lie some more. Accuse them of beastiality. Paedophilia. Incest. Genocide. Whatever it takes to keep them off balance and off message. Go after their families. Dig in to their pasts. Secretly record their conversations. Creatively edit their speeches to make them look like fools. Tar and feather them and drag them through the town square, string them up, and let the entire country see them for the charlatans they are.

    29. jazzbumpa Says:

      Monkey B –

      There is no compelling reason to lie. The Dems just need to be more strident in telling the truth.

      Case in point: Harry Reid. That's right, folks — insipid old Harry "Milquetoast" Reid, who was able to retain his seat with something approaching a comfortable majority by going on the offensive and pointing out the god-damned obvious: that Sharon Angle is fucking bay-at-the-moon, bat-shit-in-the-cranium insane.

      There is plenty of truth to be told. Why in the hell won't they tell it?

      Meanwhile, Wow – are we fucked, or what!
      JzB

    30. Monkey Business Says:

      JzB: You can attack someone like Angle by pointing out that she's insane, and it's worth noting that both her and O'Donnell got their asses handed to them. However, against someone like Paul (who's arguably just as insane but more savvy) or Rubio (who's slick and insane) it doesn't work.

      The truth is good. I'd prefer it if Dems could tell the truth and just win on that. But, unfortunately, truth is relative. My truth may be based on facts, figures, and all the solid, empirical evidence in the world, but that's not going to convince someone whose gut feeling is that I'm an idiot or corrupt or somehow otherwise compromised in my judgement. They will assume I am lying to them, and will consequently ignore everything I have to say, regardless of basis in fact.

    31. The Man, The Myth Says:

      Good discussion here. I agree broadly with all of this. Here is something else: what if Dems know how shitty they are? Many of the Democrats in the House and Senate are basically intelligent and have traveled abroad to explore the rest of the world. What if they realize our free market obsession hinders the effectiveness of some government policies? What if they are embarrassed of themselves? This clearly plays into some of the other things you were all saying about how Dems can't tell jokes or are blandish people.

    32. The Man, The Myth Says:

      one more thing… those description of dems pretty much conform to my description of myself for the last two years or so. holy cow i've got a boring life.

    33. evrenseven Says:

      You're forgetting something, Ed, and that's that no one is cutting a dime of spending anywhere. As the economy cycles upward, tax revenues will increase regardless of what happens with the Bush tax cuts and they'll get all the credit for a balanced budget, just like 1994-1996.

      Sure they'll lay off 15 department of forestry botanists and hire 4 less pages to the library of congress and call it cutbacks, but in the end they'll just be there at the right time.

    34. Radical Scientist Says:

      Our two-party system is one big Prisoner's Dilemma–A) both sides could work together and everything would be fine, B) one side can dick the other over to win big for themselves short-term (while slowly dragging down the country) or C) both sides can go for the other's throat. The Republicans have already refused to cooperate; god only knows why the Democrats keep pushing the button for A.

    35. bb in GA Says:

      "…but that's not going to convince someone whose gut feeling is that I'm an idiot or corrupt or somehow otherwise compromised in my judgement. They will assume I am lying to them, and will consequently ignore everything I have to say, regardless of basis in fact." – Mr Monkey Business

      RadSci – As long as your side has people like the despicable Dick Durbin and the Silver State Middleweight Champ Harry Reid and a host of others – What Mr. MB said.

      Now, of course, your side can provide a laundry list of Rs and conservatives that you believe exactly the same thing about.

      I believe we are about to see our President make the Congressional victory irrelevant. He will probably rule by Executive Order for the next two years on the things important to him and dare the Rs to do something about it.

      The economy will improve enough so that he can slide into home in 2012.

      //bb

    36. Robert Bitchin Says:

      Secretseasons, take heart. Pick up Richard Hudelson and Carl Ross's "By the Ore Docks" (http://www.upress.umn.edu/Books/H/hudelson_by.html) and understand that this is just an eyeblink in a hundred-year war.