So bonafide conservatives Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein published a new book out that blames Republicans for Washington’s legislative gridlock, saying that despite conventional media wisdom to the contrary, it’s “asymmetrical polarization.” Surprisingly enough (yeah, I’m being sarcastic), Chris Hayes is the only cable news person to date who’s had them on to talk about the book – this, despite them being past of a regular stable of Sunday TV guests. Wonder why? Via Raw Story:

The book describes the Republican Party as “an insurgent outlier … ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”

The authors of It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism, who have found themselves ostracized by the Sunday morning shows where they had always previously been welcome, appeared Sunday on MSNBC’s Up with Chris Hayes to discuss the book.

Mann explained that the separation of powers provided for by our Constitution deliberately creates a situation in which that Congressional majorities are unable to act without some degree of cooperation with the other party. Now that “one of those political parties has veered off the tracks” and become “aggressively oppositional,” it has many tools available to prevent legislation from being passed or enforced.

Ornstein singled out the filibuster as a large part of the problem, because it is being “used routinely,” even on non-controversial legislation. However, he also pointed to Republicans voting even against their own bills in order to avoid giving President Obama anything that would look like a victory.

“Problem-solving used to be the name of the game,” he continued. “But problem-solving now — partly it’s the era of the permanent campaign — has taken a back sea to short-term victories.”

Mann added that any Republicans who were interested in problem-solving have left the party over the years, while those who remain are “vehemently ideological” and consider themselves to be “engaged in a holy war.”

Axelrod denial

I’m actually kind of relieved to hear this denial (assuming he’s telling the truth). The idea that a political staffer was part of national security meetings was repugnant to me, just as it was when Karl Rove was part of every decision in the Bush White House:

Senior Obama political aide David Axelrod said little today about a past fight with Attorney General Eric Holder, but flatly denied reports that he attended high-level national security meetings.

“I know there were weekly meetings dealing with terrorist threats and planning around it, but I did not attend those meetings,” Axelrod said on CBS’ Face the Nation.

As for a new book’s report of a 2009 confrontation with Holder over the attorney general’s concerns about political interference in legal matters, Axelrod said:

“First of all, let me say, Eric Holder is a great friend of mine. We actually went to the same high school. So we may have gone chest to chest back in the day. But we have a strong relationship. And I’m not going to get into the details of that, other than to say I respect him.”

Axelrod, a former administration aide who now works with Obama’s re-election campaign, also told CBS: “I obviously never tried to interfere in anything that he (Holder) did, never talked to him about a governmental matter or a Justice Department matter in all of the years I was in the White House.”

It’s not just you

If only he wasn’t so corporatist, I wouldn’t feel so bad about this election:

In 2008, more than 550,000 gave more than $200 to Barack Obama, entering their names in the longest list of individual donors ever seen in American politics.

That list was a snapshot of the hope Obama inspired in a cross sections of liberals, young professionals, African-Americans, and Democrats who saw in him a generational and historic moment. But now, as Obama struggles to keep pace with his 2008 fundraising clip, that list offers a cross-section of Democratic disappointment and alienation. According to a BuzzFeed analysis of campaign finance data, 88% of the people who gave $200 or more in 2008 — 537,806 people — have not yet given that sum this year. And this drop-off isn’t simply an artifact of timing. A full 87% of the people who gave $200 — the sum that triggers an itemized report to the Federal Elections Commission — through April of 2008, 182,078 people, had not contributed by the end of last month.

Interviews with dozens of those drop-off donors reveal the stories of Democrats who still plan to pull the lever for the president, but whose support has gone from fervent to lukewarm, or whose economic circumstances have left them without money to spare. The interviews and the data are the substance of an “enthusiasm gap” spurred by the distance between the promise of the campaign and the reality of governing, one that has begun to deepen Democratic gloom about this November’s election.

“Where’s the change I can believe in?” asked Lisa Pike, a 55-year-old from Williamsburg, Va. with a small medical transcription business who gave $658 in 2008. She said she is not planning on contributing this time around. “I wish he was the socialist they accused him of being. I wish we had the tons of change that would justify the right freaking out. I wish him well — I don’t dislike him personally — but I’m disappointed that he’s not the change-agent I had hoped for.”


What David Atkins said. I was doing a radio show last week and I said I had no respect for “independent” voters in general. I said they were usually hopelessly underinformed and if they weren’t too lazy to read, they might see that there is no “middle” anymore.

Paul Krugman is tired of you people

As anyone who’s ever owned a car probably knows, money serves the same function for the economy as oil does for the engine of your car. We all know what happens when you let the car run out of oil (there’s a very good reason why they call that dashboard warning signal an “idiot light”). You know you can add a tiny bit of oil and get the engine working again, but you’re a damned fool if you don’t put in the full amount ASAP.

Those of us who know basic car maintenance can be, yes, a little bit annoyed with people who don’t understand how to take care of their own vehicle.

And that’s what Paul Krugman’s been talking about for four years now. The Bush administration, followed by the Obama administration, didn’t use enough stimulus oil and the engine of the economy has slowed to a crawl. (Hey pal, don’t you see that flashing IDIOT LIGHT?)

When you have a problem with your engine, the solution isn’t to drain the rest of the oil.

For those four years, I’ve watched Krugman try to explain things reasonably, trying not to offend people. He had the liberal’s fatal flaw: “This is just a matter of giving people the right information and obviously, then they’ll want to do the right thing.” I’d sit and watch, thinking, “When is he going to realize they’re trying to destroy the government and he has to stop giving them the benefit of the doubt?”

Seems like he’s finally reached that point. Good!


I remember seeing Janis Ian perform this at the Philly Folk Festival. It was her “comeback” appearance (she couldn’t have been more than 22 or so) and I remember seeing her silhouetted against the sinking sun as she sang. The crowd exploded when she was done; we knew we’d heard something special:

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