Monday Morning Open Thread: Impacts


(“Pickles“, Brian Crane, via GoComics.com)

Keeping Democrats in good order is like herding cats, but the current crop of Repubs hasn’t exactly fallen in line for its putative leaders either. The Washington Post is abuzz that Roland Hedley Robert Draper, author of Dead Certain: the Presidency of G.W. Bush, has a new book coming out:

Time and again last year, House Republican leaders faced a nearly in­trac­table opponent: the very freshman class that propelled them into the majority with the historic 2010 midterm elections. Rebelling from the outset of the 112th Congress and later wreaking internal havoc during talks to increase the Treasury Department’s ability to borrow funds, the freshman class repeatedly created problems for House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), according to a new book.

The freshman resistance caused feuds among Boehner and his lieutenants that led some to fear a mutiny, heightened several showdowns with President Obama and eventually led to fissures among the rookies, pitting those who seldom trusted the leaders against those who reflexively did, according to “Do Not Ask What Good We Do,” an account of the freshman class’s impact by Robert Draper….

“You’ve created a monster,” Rep. Renee L. Ellmers (R-N.C.), a former nurse elected in 2010, warned House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), according to Draper’s book…

The book, which will be released Tuesday, shows just how much energy had to be expended on the 87 freshmen who took their oath in January 2011, many of them holding office for the first time. Accounting for nearly 40 percent of Boehner’s conference, the freshmen exercised their clout early and often, imposing their will on the rest of the House Republicans.

Many freshmen viewed GOP leaders warily from the outset and compelled Boehner’s team to make the rookies the constant focus of its attention.

“I didn’t come to Washington to be part of a team,” Rep. Raúl R. Labrador (R-Idaho) told the book’s author….

During the debt-ceiling fight, some freshmen were ready to push the government into default. Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Tex.), a first-time politician who was a surprise winner of a West Texas district, wrote Boehner to express his fear that the debt ceiling was “very possibly a hostage that we’re unwilling to shoot.”

In an interview Friday, Farenthold said he has some regret that he eventually agreed, under pressure from local businessmen, to support the compromise, because it brought only $2.1 trillion in savings.

“I think we could have survived it,” he said Friday of a federal default…

Also bound to make an impact (h/t commentor PZ), at least upon the delicate sensibilities of its subject, is Michael Sean Winters’ latest TNR review of “The Accommodator“:

ROSS DOUTHAT’S ANALYSIS of religion in America is more sophisticated than the analysis of, say, Rick Santorum—but not by much. There are many ways to be simplistic and coarse. In contending against what he sees as an America afflicted with too many heresies, Douthat’s book, like Santorum’s speeches, is riddled with mistakes of fact and interpretation that would make any learned person blush…

My problem with Douthat’s book is not that his opinions differ from my own. My problem is that he does not seem to have any idea what he is talking about. In the West, there has been no universally accepted authoritative voice on orthodoxy since the Reformation. “What am I to do when many persons allege different interpretations, each one of whom swears to have the Spirit?” asked Erasmus in 1524. But Douthat does not see the larger picture that he aims to explain, and his treatment of his subject is so pitifully mistaken in things large and small that what we are left with is a meandering, self-serving screed…

Apart from being duly grateful that one is neither a member of the House of Representatives or Ross Doubthat, what’s on the agenda for the start of another week?

56 replies
  1. 1
    Schlemizel says:

    Actually I wouldn’t mind being in Congress. Except for the constant money grubbing & dialing for dollars it looks like a great gig.

    I’m going off to a job where I am expected to find problems and bring them to the attention of people who will not fix them under any circumstances. Well, actually I am only allowed to look for certain kinds of problems, I am expressly forbidden to look for other kinds. And when those problems cause issues for my employer? Well they email me & ask why I didn’t find the problem before.

    Why does doughhat still have a job at the liberal NYT? His writing is much more suited for some unimportant wingnut blog or maybe one backed by the Vatican.

  2. 2
    dr. bloor says:

    Douhat’s inevitable doubling-down in response to being pantsed is going to be a thing of perverse beauty. Which I will leave to others, of course.

  3. 3

    Love the cartoon! It inspires me to try to be a helpful nutcase. :-)

    Happy Monday everyone and a smooth start to the week.

  4. 4
    Ben Cisco says:

    A 6AM conference call, hammering out some documentation for my counterparts in Europe and two new employees locally. It’s 40° and clear as a bell here in Charlotte, which made for a very brisk wakeup.

  5. 5
    gene108 says:

    The part of me that really wants to drop out right now and try to live like I could’ve in my early 20’s really wants the Republicans to get their way.

    Let the folks, who vote for them suffer the consequences of their actions and realize living in a neo-Gilded Age isn’t going to be all that pretty.

  6. 6
    WereBear says:

    Evil always sows the seeds of its own destruction.

    It just takes so dang long.

  7. 7
    swordofdoom says:

    @gene108: Two problems with that approach: First, it assumes that the teahadists will eventually realize they’re being hosed. But as long as they’ve got Fox News to tell them that the sky is yellow and the sun blue, they’ll figure they’d misinterpreted their own misery. And second, in order for things to get bad enough for even the teahadists to realize the GOP is terminally full of crap (assuming they can eventually reach that point), means a whole of folks who already know that will have to suffer miserably.

  8. 8
    jeffreyw says:

    What does a flat iron steak have in common with feline sewing assistants? Glad you asked!

  9. 9

    But Douthat does not see the larger picture that he aims to explain, and his treatment of his subject is so pitifully mistaken in things large and small that what we are left with is a meandering, self-serving screed…

    I thought that was pretty much the point of Douthat collecting a paycheck: missing the big picture with fact-free, meandering, self-serving screeds.

  10. 10
    WereBear says:

    We have a Dunning-Kruger wing of legislature:

    “I think we could have survived it,” he said Friday of a federal default…

    Is he being sarcastic, or smug? Either way, getting all haw-haw about not starving in the gutter is the way he rolls.

  11. 11
    Wilson Heath says:

    There was a replay of some Chubby Bobo interview on that book on the NPR yesterday and I had to turn it off for my own sanity. The mendacious/stupid/both multi-choice was really in overdrive. It was even worse than the typical AEI troll guest or a Friday conventional-wisdom spew on the Diane Rehm.

  12. 12
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @jeffreyw:

    Ooh, Homer and Bitsy pix! Great way to start the day. Thanks!

  13. 13
    bob h says:

    There is all this talk of the decline of the Tea Party, but those fuckers in the House are still there.

  14. 14
    gene108 says:

    @swordofdoom:

    There’s a difference between the true faithful, i.e. Teahadists, and those that vote R because of some sort of tribal loyalty and/or other reason.

    The true believer would welcome the neo-Gilded Age as the natural order of things.

    The other 23.1% (at a minimum) of people, who keep the R’s in power, really don’t understand the extent of what it is they are voting for. They really think there’s the invisible hand of the magic no-one-is-going-to-let-the-crazies-run-things, so I’m O.K. voting Republican that will keep things in check.

    This 23.1% of voters really needs to understand what their votes for Republicans will lead to and that’s not going to happen, as long as there’s some invisible magic hand keeping the true believers in check.

    For example, in 2004, when Florida went for Bush, Jr., they also overwhelmingly approved a ballot referendum to raise the state’s minimum wage. The true believer would want to abolish the minimum wage. Republicans are moving towards the position of the true believer, even though a large cross-section of Republican voters approved to raise it, when given a chance.

    These two competing views are only able to co-exist because of the magic-invisible-hand that keeps the true believers in check and this is what allows Republicans to win election after election.

    You aren’t going to see a change within the Republican Party, until you start stomping the true believer driven agenda into the ground for about 4-5 election cycles, i.e. 8-10 years.

    All a single big loss does is drive them further to the right and because there’s a check on the true believers, you end up with them getting back into power after a couple of cycles, so all that happens is one Party keeps lurching further and further to the right taking the rest of the country with them.

    In 1964 the Republicans got crushed. By 1968 they had reversed some of those losses. In 1974, Republicans got crushed. By 1980, they had taken control of the Senate and Presidency. In 1992, Democrats did well and by 1994 Republicans had control of the House.

    In 2006, the Republicans started to take a beating and it only got worse in 2008. There were some rumblings about moderation in early 2009, but Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, et. al. right-wing media kingmakers kept the politicians in check.

    In 2010, we have another Republican reversal of fortune and the most far-right crop of politicians elected in a long, long time.

    I know people, who’ve been frustrated with the business climate and are considering voting for Romney. They are socially liberal and assume the true believers in the Republican Party will be kept in check. I disagree with them about the true believers being kept in check.

    And at some point, people have to realize what the end result of unfettered GOP rule will look like before you can truly defeat the 27% of true believers.

    It’s not a realistic approach to actually beating the GOP because the collateral damage would hurt too many people, but the reason Republicans keep winning is because people can safely tune out the abolish-the-minimum-wage folks, the abolish-Social-Security-and-Medicare folks and until they realize the Republican vision for America will truly be a neo-Gilded Age that will undo so much of the past 100 years of progress for the not-wealthy, it will only make it that much harder to win elections.

  15. 15
    Ash Can says:

    LOL @ that book review. If Douthat has any self-awareness whatsoever, that will leave a mark. Of course, that’s a tall assumption.

  16. 16
    wrb says:

    I’m sitting in a Starbucks on Michigan Avenue just down from the Tribune building have never
    been in Chicago before & have time to kill until 9:30.

    What direction should I walk?

  17. 17
    Ash Can says:

    @bob h: The magical recall fairy isn’t going to make them all just go poof overnight. We have to wait until November to see whether or not there’s really any buyer’s remorse over these cretins, and how extensive that remorse is.

  18. 18
    Baud says:

    @gene108:

    They really think there’s the invisible hand of the magic no-one-is-going-to-let-the-crazies-run-things, so I’m O.K. voting Republican that will keep things in check.

    This is pretty much why I detest the hang wringing that goes on all too often in left-of-center circles about whether it’s worthwhile to support the Democratic Party. It just reinforces the attitude and beliefs you describe.

  19. 19
    Ash Can says:

    @wrb: Walk north for shopping and the old water tower. Walk south over the bridge for the Loop. If you want to head for the museums, including the Art Institute, stay on Michigan Ave. And stick your head in the Cultural Center on the way.

    ETA: I re-read your comment and saw that you just have till 9:30. Museums will have to wait, obviously. You’ll still have a good walk either way, depending on whether you’d prefer window shopping or just Loop sightseeing. (For Loop sightseeing, walking south over the bridge and then turning right on Wacker and walking along the river is nice too.)

  20. 20

    This quote from today’s Word a Day Newsletter (wordsmith.org) seems relevant:

    “Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority. The more uncivilized the man, the surer he is that he knows precisely what is right and what is wrong. All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them. The truly civilized man is always skeptical and tolerant, in this field as in all others. His culture is based on “I am not too sure.”” -H.L. Mencken, writer, editor, and critic (1880-1956)

  21. 21

    @wrb: @wrb:

    What direction should I walk?

    Haven’t been to Chicago in a long time. Actually it probably doesn’t matter which direction you take off in.

    Good luck with what you’ve got going on today.

  22. 22
    EIGRP says:

    Snow is affecting travel here in Rochester, and many things are closed that I would not expect. Oh well, just a fun trip driving kids to school and then bringing them back home.

  23. 23
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @wrb: Start by going south. Cross the river and head toward Grant Park and the Art Institute. But either way on Michigan Ave would be good for a stroll. Or you could head over to the lake.

  24. 24
    Steeplejack says:

    Krugman en fuego this morning.

    [. . .] Mr. Romney wants you to attribute all of the shortfalls in economic policy since 2009 (and some that happened in 2008) to the man in the White House, and forget both the role of Republican-controlled state governments and the fact that Mr. Obama has faced scorched-earth political opposition since his first day in office. Basically, the GOP has blocked the administration’s efforts to the maximum extent possible, then turned around and blamed the administration for not doing enough.

  25. 25
    gene108 says:

    @Steeplejack:

    Lord, Krugman really is shrill.

  26. 26
    priscianusjr says:

    @WereBear:

    Is he being sarcastic, or smug? Either way, getting all haw-haw about not starving in the gutter is the way he rolls.

    These guys don’t do sarcastic and they don’t do smug. They do, however, do stupid.

  27. 27
    Steeplejack says:

    It’s Shakespeare’s birthday! Somebody do something.

  28. 28
    WaterGirl says:

    @Steeplejack: Thanks for the link. The whole thing was great. Sort of amazing to see you in the morning like this. Or maybe you’ve been here in the daytime for awhile?

    I haven’t been here nearly as much since the site “upgrade”. I find the fonts to be awful, it’s really annoying to have to go to each post in order to find the time that it was posted, and it seems like there are fewer interesting posts and fewer and fewer comments on BJ all the time since the update. I would love to see what site traffic looks like before and after the upgrade.

  29. 29
    Ash Can says:

    @WaterGirl: Now that there’s a Recent Comments list again (albeit truncated), comments may pick up, since people can once again see who’s commenting where.

  30. 30
    butler says:

    “I think we could have survived it,” he said Friday of a federal default…

    Idiot. You can technically “survive” a lot of bad stuff: losing your kidneys or having your hands chopped off or having a bullet rip through part of your brain. Doesn’t make for the best quality of life.

  31. 31
    wrb says:

    @Linda Featheringill:

    Linda,

    Thank you.

    It is just a layover to get a rush passport renewal.

    Have to be in Rome tomorrow.

  32. 32
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    “I didn’t come to Washington to be part of a team,” Rep. Raúl R. Labrador (R-Idaho) told the book’s author….

    You know, there’s stupid, then there’s ur-stupid. This guy represents the latter.

    It is my sincere hope that this stupid asshole becomes injured and immobile and is left to slowly die where he sits.

  33. 33
    gogol's wife says:

    @Steeplejack:

    It’s also Shirley Temple’s birthday! And Nabokov’s!

  34. 34
    WaterGirl says:

    @Ash Can: That is good news!

  35. 35
    gogol's wife says:

    @WaterGirl:

    You wrote, “I find the fonts to be awful, it’s really annoying to have to go to each post in order to find the time that it was posted, and it seems like there are fewer interesting posts and fewer and fewer comments on BJ all the time since the update.” There’s also a much higher infestation of trolls. I’m still addicted, but it’s not as much fun.

  36. 36
  37. 37
    Steeplejack says:

    @WaterGirl:

    I’m trying to keep more “normal” hours since leaving the bookstore. I pretty much always used to be up early in the morning, but I either had to go to work or had lots of stuff to do before going to work. Now that I am self-employed semi-unemployed, I have been able to spread things out more over the day and so have more time free in the morning.

    I share your feelings about the site rebuild. It’s not a good reading experience for me. I have been able to make things bearable by using Stylish to cobble together a Balloon Juice “style”: I changed the font to a serif one, increased its size and changed the blockquoting back to a visible color background. It’s not perfect, but it’s a lot more readable than the current default. If you use Firefox (or Chrome, I think), you might look at Stylish and one of the several Balloon Juice styles posted for it. I intend to post mine, but I want to tweak it some more and clean it up. Right now it’s very specific to my computer and might not work well for someone else.

  38. 38
    Steeplejack says:

    @gogol’s wife:

    What?! Wikipedia has Nabokov born on April 22.

    I really like Nabokov, but I find myself going back to the short stories more than the “big” novels. Although Pale Fire had a big impact on me when I first read it.

    Now I want to go find the ancient little paperback with “The Vane Sisters” in it. I think it was called Nabokov’s Quartet or something like that.

  39. 39
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Schlemizel: It’s a sinecure. Think of his job as another form of wingnut welfare, just not in a think tank or foundation.

  40. 40
    PurpleGirl says:

    @jeffreyw: Glad I went over to look at the pictures. The cats are so cute.

  41. 41
    cmorenc says:

    (Winters writes: He (Doubthat) faults liberal Christianity with trying to accommodate itself to modernity in ways that watered down the distinctiveness and the moral rigor of Christianity, especially regarding sexual ethics.

    The most off-putting aspect of all about Doubthat is his obvious wish for the imposition of his own priggishly repressed notions of sexual morality upon all of the rest of us. It’s a fitting part of his overall wish for a more authoritarian society, even while pretending to be for more limited government.

  42. 42
    Mark S. says:

    I like how Ross adopts an attitude of “Judge not lest ye be judged” when it comes to the rich:

    On Judgment Day, the rich may find it especially hard to get through the eye of the needle, but this will not be because they had money but because their use of it will be subjected to an accounting on different ledgers from those scrutinized by the Internal Revenue Service. The rich have reason to tremble. If their wealth has been productive for others, though, the world has reason to be merciful to them even if God’s standards are higher.

    For Ross, religion is really just about sexual repression. All the other shit the Bible says isn’t too important.

  43. 43
    samara morgan says:

    Douthat has gained 40 pounds since i last watched a blogging heads of him.
    hes on his way to being Chris Christie fat.
    i wonder about the correlation between multichin syndrome and lack of grey matter in the ACC– aren’t a disproportionate amount of conservatives whales?
    /cue the BJ moral scold police.

  44. 44
    handsmile says:

    @Steeplejack: (#38)

    Re “The Vane Sisters”: Yes, it’s included in Nabokov’s Quartet, at least in the Pyramid Books paperback edition I’m holding. Of course, it’s to be found in the Vintage The Stories of…, but that’s a cumbersome volume. (Truth be told, for the past 30+ years little time passes when I’m not re-reading something by V.N. At the moment, Speak, Memory.)

    Re the Bard’s Birthday:

    Here’s something: “World Shakespeare Festival: Around the Globe in 37 Plays” with productions in over fifty languages. On the BBC this morning, there was a segment on a production of Troilus and Cressida translated into Maori.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/stag.....heatre-rsc

  45. 45
    Ruckus says:

    @Schlemizel:
    I’m looking for a job like yours. Or like anyone’s at this point.
    That’s what I’m doing till I don’t have to any more.

  46. 46
    Mike in NC says:

    During the debt-ceiling fight, some freshmen were ready to push the government into default.

    So some people are finally catching on that the inmates are running the GOP House asylum? Most of them will have forgotten that come November.

  47. 47
    pragmatism says:

    2 days of work then off to cabo for a week. really need this vacation.

  48. 48
    Steeplejack says:

    @handsmile:

    Glad somebody’s doing something.

    I went down the rabbit hole on Wikipedia looking at dates. The page for today says that Cervantes died on this date, but when I went to his bio page it said April 22. Turns out he was buried on April 23, and for some reason that date is used to honor him. Then much was being made of Shakespeare dying on the same date (April 23, different year), but that’s under the old Julian calendar. Under the modern Gregorian calendar he died on May 3.

    You reminded me that I need to see if Nabokov’s collected stories are available for my Nook. That would be not cumbersome.

  49. 49
    Mnemosyne says:

    @handsmile:

    I remember seeing Kabuki Othello back in the late 1980s when it was going around Chicago. They made what I think people considered to be a fairly considerable change at the end by having Desdemona know ahead of time that Othello was probably going to kill her, and essentially sacrificing herself because her honor had been destroyed.

    It bugged some people, but the change bothered me less than the original, where Desdemona just seems like a frickin’ moron.

  50. 50
    gogol's wife says:

    @Steeplejack:

    If you’re still around, look at Speak, Memory. He acknowledges that there’s some doubt about what date you should say he’s born on, because of the confusion of the Julian and Gregorian calendars in the 19th and 20th centuries, because he was born on the borderline of the two centuries. But he ends up saying he shares a birthday with Shirley Temple. I don’t have time right now to look it up.

  51. 51
    BethanyAnne says:

    @samara morgan: For me, being more overweight is a symptom of other shit going wrong in my life. I saw someone saying that’s the primary thing they got out of “The Biggest Loser”, that the weight was a symptom. I expect it’s true of conservatives as well. Marriane Williamson said something to the effect of “it’s staggering the variety of ways in which we can express self-loathing”.

  52. 52
    EJ says:

    Pretty sure that “Raul R. Labrador” is the real name of the Most Interesting Man in the World.

  53. 53
    Steeplejack says:

    @gogol’s wife:

    All cleared up:

    Confusion over his birth date was generated by some people misunderstanding the relationship between the Julian and Gregorian calendars. At the time of Nabokov’s birth, the offset between the calendars was 12 days. His date of birth in the Julian calendar was 10 April 1899; in the Gregorian, 22 April 1899. The fact that the offset increased from 12 to 13 days for dates occurring after February 1900 was always irrelevant to earlier dates, and hence a 13-day offset should never have been applied to Nabokov’s date of birth. Nevertheless, it was so misapplied by some writers, and 23 April came to be erroneously shown in many places as his birthday. In his memoirs Speak, Memory Nabokov indicates that 22 April was the correct date but that he nevertheless preferred to celebrate his birthday “with diminishing pomp” on 23 April (p. 6). As he happily pointed out on several occasions during interviews, this meant he also shared a birthday with William Shakespeare and Shirley Temple [. . .].

  54. 54
    Barry says:

    @swordofdoom: “Two problems with that approach: First, it assumes that the teahadists will eventually realize they’re being hosed. But as long as they’ve got Fox News to tell them that the sky is yellow and the sun blue, they’ll figure they’d misinterpreted their own misery. And second, in order for things to get bad enough for even the teahadists to realize the GOP is terminally full of crap (assuming they can eventually reach that point), means a whole of folks who already know that will have to suffer miserably.”

    Three problems – (3) by the time that they actually realize that things are FUBA, they’ll still blame the Evul Librulz… for their problems. They’ll go (full) fascist first.

  55. 55
    Barbara says:

    @Ash Can:

    “My problem with Douthat’s book is not that his opinions differ from my own. My problem is that he does not seem to have any idea what he is talking about.”

  56. 56
    Mike G says:

    @cmorenc:

    It’s a fitting part of his overall wish for a more authoritarian society, even while pretending to be for more limited government.

    My experience with Repukes and Libertarians is that they’d be quite happy with a more authoritarian society, so long as the oppression was privatized, and especially if their in-group had privileges over the general population. Being white in aparthied South Africa would be quite agreeable to them.

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