Grand Old Party Needs a Brand New Song



BlaiseP is the pseudonym of a peripatetic software contractor whose worldly goods can fit into an elderly Isuzu Rodeo. Bitter and recondite, he favors the long view of life, the chords of Steely Dan and Umphrey's McGee, the writings of William Vollman and Thomas Pynchon, the taste of red ale and his own gumbo. Having escaped after serving seven years of a lifetime sentence to confinement in hotel rooms, he currently resides in the wilds of Eau Claire County and contemplates the intersection of mixed SRID geometries in PostGIS.

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136 Responses

  1. Avatar Michelle says:

    All good suggestions, Blaise. It might also help if the Republicans came up with something they want to conserve (other than white male privilege). I don’t think the GOP is conservative in any meaningful way. The policies they support–imperialism abroad and rampant corporatism at home–undermine the very family values and conservative communities they pretend to support. Ron Paul and son attract younger voters because, while their economics might be appalling, their anti-imperialism is refreshing.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP says:

      I repeat myself in saying the Ron and Rand Paul crowd are rather like Calvin Coolidge’s summary of the sermon on sin he heard, saying of the pastor: “He was against it.”

      Ron and Rand Paul are against Big Gummint. Well, aren’t we all? Rand Paul betrayed the shallowness of his vision for Less Government in his budget proposal. He’s tone deaf. This is not the man anyone wants singing in front of a live audience.

      The GOP establishment sure does like its wars, doesn’t it?Report

      • Avatar Barry says:

        “Ron and Rand Paul are against Big Gummint. ”

        Where ‘Big Gummint’ means any government action which helps those the speaker wants to be hurt, or hurts those the speaker wants to helped. Helping those whom the speaking wants helped, or hurting those whom the speaking wants hurt is never ‘Big Gummint’, no matter how many trillions of $$$ are spent.Report

  2. Avatar Barry says:

    Something that isn’t pointed out strongly enough (IMHO) is that the current strategy is working juuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuust fine. The GOP controls a large numbers of state governments, and by ‘control’ I mean ‘control’. They’re trashing the living crap out of a large number of states, punishing those they don’t like restructuring the legal system and looting like crazy, in *at least* Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Louisiana, Alabama and Florida, that I know of. With redistricting and voter suppression, they can use government money and power to keep themselves in money and power for probably a decade or so. This looks pretty good if you’re a 50-something person in the GOP who’s anywhere near the decision-making group; you could make it to retirement and pocket a nice chunk of cash on the way.

    At the national level, the GOP controls the House (and with redistricting, can lose the popular vote by a fair margin, and still control it), and in the Senate, they can fillibuster the living crap out of the vast majority of stuff. This includes blocking many executive branch agencies from functioning well, and very likely making sure that the Obama administration will have limited impact on the judiciary, compared to the Bush II administration.

    In 2016, they have an excellent chance of wining the Presidency, since that’s the way the system works (it’s really hard to pull down a third term; the last two guys were Bush I and a wartime/New Deal/Great Depression president during the largest war in history).

    Over, under and throughout all of this runs the fact that the GOP is better for the elites than the Democratic Party. No matter how neoliberallly compliant the Democrats are, the GOP promises a looting orgy whenever they’re in power. And, of course, when the next GOP president takes office, we’ll see a bunch of Senators sit down and shut up like the well-bribed swine that they are, and ‘deficits don’t matter’ again – I genuinely worry that the GOP is on to a very powerful pattern, of seriously destructive looting followed by making the Democrats clean up their messes.

    Now, if you’re a young Republican, this is a problem, because it’s likely that by the time you’re forty, and hitting what should be the high times of your career, the GOP will be demographically defunct, but for anybody older, it’s a seriously workable strategy.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP says:

      Look at the GOP demographics. If the GOP can get the Geriatric Gentry to the polls, they’ll hold on for maybe one more electoral cycle. The military, the GOP’s core constituency, is losing faith in the GOP. The church kids, gone. Non-Cuban Hispanics hate the GOP so bad their teeth ache. Blacks, a surprisingly conservative constituency, won’t touch the GOP.

      The GOP and the Shakers — neither seem capable nor desirous of reproducing their own kind.Report

      • Avatar Barry says:

        Yes, but that ‘one more electoral cycle’ at the national level could easily include taking the presidency in 2016 (with all that that implies), and possibly the Senate. I would not be surprised to see them hold the House, Senate and Presdiency for a few year – and given the Blue Dogs and the rest of the bribed swine, I expect them to lick the boots of the next GOP president, just like they did the last one, meaning that two years of that will result in more things being done (all bad) than the first two years of the Obama administration.

        And at the state level, they can hold at least as long. IIRC, the vote for the Michigan House went 59-41 Democratic/GOP – but this meant that the GOP held a majority, due to redistricting. One of the things which impressed me strongly over the past two years is just how destructive and nihilistic the Tea Party-energized GOP is. They are not interested in reforming the system; they want to break it, destroy it and loot it; they want to do it now, and have no shame or conscience about it.

        Kissinger once wrote in a dissertation about powers who want a bigger share of the existing system, and those who want to destroy the system (IIRC Napoleon and Hitler were examples of the latter; Prussia in the 1800’s was an example of the former). That’s what the Tea Party-GOP reminds me of.Report

        • Avatar Barry says:

          Note that “I would not be surprised to see them hold the House, Senate and Presdiency for a few year(s)” also assumes that there are no surprises in the next several years which favor the GOP. If 9/11 hadn’t happened, it’s possible that Bush would have been a one-term president, and it’s certain that they could have accomplished far less destruction.Report

        • Avatar Morat20 says:

          Quite true — but an advantage like gerrymandering can be a two-edged sword. It can keep you in office when your policies aren’t popular, but on the other side it can shield you from how unpopular your policies are.

          Rather than losing a few edge elections and adjusting your policies to a changing electorate, you might — say — double down on things (safe in your secure district) and then get tossed en masse as discontent and changing demographics catch up.

          The youth thing here is pretty telling (historically, the sub-30 crowd has never been THIS partisan. Not even close) — the GOP has spent the last decade more or less alienating people who are gonna vote for the next 50 years (and once they’ve voted for a party for two or three cycles, it takes a LOT to bump them to another), while their own primary demographic is flat out dying of old age.

          And they’re more or less unaware and uncaring because the real players are often safe in heavily gerrymandered districts or deep-red states — they’re safe until the boomers finish exiting the scene.Report

          • Avatar Patrick says:


            You game the rules, pretty soon you don’t know how to play the game any more.Report

          • Avatar ktward says:

            I second Patrick’s This.

            The youth thing here is pretty telling (historically, the sub-30 crowd has never been THIS partisan. Not even close) — the GOP has spent the last decade more or less alienating people who are gonna vote for the next 50 years

            As a parent of a couple of millennial critters, one of whom very much has what I would call deeply conservative sensibilities and the other, well, not so much (she inherited an extra large heaping helping of her mom’s DNA, poor girl), neither one of them have ANY use for today’s GOP.

            Myself, I’m one of those weird trailing-end Boomers . ’61.
            I mean, officially I’m a Boomer. But I’m not sure I’ve ever felt like one. In fact, I can’t remember a time in my entire life, no matter what life-stage I was in, where I didn’t feel out of step in some way with folks who were, supposedly, my generational contemporaries.Report

            • Avatar Barry says:

              “Myself, I’m one of those weird trailing-end Boomers . ’61.
              I mean, officially I’m a Boomer. But I’m not sure I’ve ever felt like one. In fact, I can’t remember a time in my entire life, no matter what life-stage I was in, where I didn’t feel out of step in some way with folks who were, supposedly, my generational contemporaries.”

              The ‘Generations’ stuff is soooooooo bad (and half the time I see people discuss it on the internet, they aren’t even getting dates and history correct; it’s almost to the point where we’ll see somebody criticizing Boomers for hypocritically opposing the War of 1812 but supporting WWIII).Report

            • Avatar NewDealer says:

              “Myself, I’m one of those weird trailing-end Boomers . ’61.
              I mean, officially I’m a Boomer. But I’m not sure I’ve ever felt like one.”

              This is how I feel about being officially part of Gen X. Though I feel more kinship with people born between 68-72 (aka prime Gen X) than people born in 1988 or 89. I was born in 80.Report

          • Avatar Barry says:

            “Quite true — but an advantage like gerrymandering can be a two-edged sword. It can keep you in office when your policies aren’t popular, but on the other side it can shield you from how unpopular your policies are.”

            Another way to say that is that gerrymandering means that you can do far more destruction before losing power. And frankly, they probably won’t lose power for long – look at 2008-10. The GOP had worked very, very hard to trash the country and their brand, but was back in at least blocking position within 24 months.Report

          • Avatar Barry says:

            “And they’re more or less unaware and uncaring because the real players are often safe in heavily gerrymandered districts or deep-red states — they’re safe until the boomers finish exiting the scene.”

            My guess is that it’s when the Silents exit the scene.

            (this is what I meant by the statement that I feel that most ‘Generations’ stuff on the internet is simply wrong).

            From memory; I can’t find the links I need to break things down well enough:
            right now people over 65 are (slightly) majority Republican. After that it’ll go down somewhat, and then up with Gen X, where the youth vote was strongly Reagan back in the day.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        I’m with Barry on this one. I agree with your core points that a lot of young people are very soured and turned off by the GOP. However, I grew up in super-blue lands. The Young Republicans I know generally did it as an act of rebellion like the woman I know whose parents are super-Berkeley hippies. Or some kids from high school with Great Society liberal parents.

        That being said, I suspect that a lot of young people have Republican sympathies but don’t show it and I think we are still largely a 50/50 nation. There are still plenty of relatively young people in the Republican Party like Paul Ryan. There are a lot of people who spent their formative years in Reagan’s America and are still awash in Gipper-love.

        I don’t know anything about the military and church kids, not my crowd. But I do agree with you on the rest.Report

        • Avatar Morat20 says:

          Offhand, when you are ignoring polling and speculating about secret groups, you are in dangerous territory.

          You can suspect all you want — poll after poll says you’re wrong. Decades of political science say that partisan affiliation is sticky as all get out after a string of votes — vote in three Presidential elections for the same party, no matter WHAT you call yourself, you are effectively a die-hard partisan of that party — it takes the a sea change to shift you back into being able to vote for either side.

          Now, maybe you’re right. But honestly, year after year, on topic after topic, I hear “Well, the polls may say X, but I think Y (which is not X and is often the opposite of X) is true”.

          And so far? Y has never, ever been true.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 says:

            That wasn’t meant as a slam to you — just pointing out that that line of reasoning is both common and generally wrong, and thus it’s a pretty dangerous assumption to carry around no matter whether you’re talking politics or baseball, Democrats or Republicans.

            (The D’s fell for it rather famously in 2004).Report

          • Avatar NewDealer says:

            I generally think BP is right about how people my age (20s and 30-somethings) feel about the GOP and I think we will be pretty liberal as we get older. But what about the Boomers. Was there just a split among them? My parents were civil-rights supporting and Vietnam war opposing Boomers who stayed Democratic. Yet there still seem to be plenty of conservative and GOP loving Boomers including some former lefties/hippies.

            Now this sort of stuff can happen in any generation with large enough numbers though but perhaps my parents grew up in a boomer cohort that was generally liberal because their parents were NewDealers from NYC’s Jewish neighborhoods. Maybe Boomers who grew up in other areas were more likely to become Republican and missed the fun parts of the 1960s.

            Though what I find weird is that according to the polls, my generation (very late Gen X, I’m 32) was supposed to be a bit more Romney friendly, at least among White late Gen-Xers. Who are these people? I know one person my age who voted for Romney. The rest of my crowd from HS, College, and Grad School are very Democratic. Why is late Gen X supposed to be a little more Republican leaning? That is something I don’t see much of except in polling.Report

            • Avatar Morat20 says:

              That’s kinda the big thing about this poll — historically, despite all the “Them young’ins is liberal” and “Everyone’s liberal until they’re 30” — there really hasn’t been a big age gap between parties. Nor have people’s partisan tendencies or idealogies really shifted over time. (The Southern Democrats who became Republicans in the 70s didn’t change what they believed — the GOP and the Democratic party did).

              Up until the 2008 election (I’d say it was probably 2005 to 2006ish where it really happened, but Presidential elections make firmer data points and that’s what was used), the D/R split among the young wasn’t that big.

              This is pretty unprecedented in modern elections. And everything political science and history tells us about how people’s views change say it’s a huge, huge, GIANT, problem for the GOP. Not now, but soon.

              Now it’s what, 13 points? And been that way through two Presidential elections? That’s a nightmare. There’s a growing and unbridgeable gulf between what the GOP stands for and where the sub-30 crowd wants this country to go, and the sub-30 crowd is highly unlikely to change it’s mind.Report

              • Avatar Barry says:

                I believe that the original GOP report said that it was a single digit under-30 gap for Bush in 2000, +13 for Kerrey and then over 20 for Obama, twice.

                A very strong trend, and one which survived the inevitable disappointment of the ‘Hope and Change’ ideal hitting the real world of trying to do things.Report

              • Avatar NewDealer says:

                All good points but I am still in the minority for being a “white guy*” at 32 who voted for Gore, Kerry, Obama, and Obama. I have never voted for a Republican and probably never will.

                *Unless you include my religion which means I am perfectly in tune with the overwhelming majority of American Jews who voted Democratic. Also I am among my cohort in that people with college and advanced degrees are more likely to vote Democratic. Insert contentious debate about Judaism and political ideology here.Report

        • Avatar BlaiseP says:

          Here’s my theory about why we become Liberals or Conservatives or Libertarians or what have you — our political opinions are shaped by the abuses we’ve seen. Conservatives are shaped by perceived government overreach into our lives. Liberals are shaped by watching government cuddle up to religious and corporate interests. Libertarians are shaped by both sorts of abuses: they understand the tradeoff between Security and Freedom and would like considerably less government and considerably more personal liberty.

          As such, anyone who takes a position on any one side is likely to attract the slings and arrows of the other two, as if we condone the excesses within our own camp. We’re kinda stupid about this in the USA: we don’t observe the differences between the various sorts of conservatism. A fiscal conservative could be a social liberal and vice versa, or any permutation along those gauges. Moreover, we’re not capable of distinguishing the actions of the political parties from their messages: it’s clear enough Obama relishes using the powers ceded to his predecessor.

          Party affiliation should be more akin to allegiance to a sporting team, the dichotomy between our dream team and the ragged reality of the players who constitute each side. As a voter, think of yourself as a owner. If the team’s losing, maybe it’s time to get rid of the coach or the offensive coordinator or find a better receiver — but let the players play the game, please. There are too many punters on the sidelines, calling the plays. That’s where the GOP’s at just now. Rush Limbaugh does not own Team GOP. Why is he calling the plays?Report

          • Avatar Barry says:

            “We’re kinda stupid about this in the USA: we don’t observe the differences between the various sorts of conservatism. A fiscal conservative could be a social liberal and vice versa, or any permutation along those gauges. Moreover, we’re not capable of distinguishing the actions of the political parties from their messages: it’s clear enough Obama relishes using the powers ceded to his predecessor.”

            IMHO, the number of fiscal conservatives who are social liberals is on the order of the number of people in the USA who are libertarians.

            “There are too many punters on the sidelines, calling the plays. That’s where the GOP’s at just now. Rush Limbaugh does not own Team GOP. Why is he calling the plays?”

            Because he’s been enormously useful; in your metaphor he’d be the radio station owner and personality who drives strong ticket sales. And if he urges people to boycott a game, no tickets get sold. In short, because he can call (some) plays, and make it stick.Report

        • Avatar ktward says:

          I suspect that a lot of young people have Republican sympathies but don’t show it and I think we are still largely a 50/50 nation.

          What exactly do you mean by “Republican sympathies”?

          Sympathies for pre-GWB Republican policies? Possibly. Worthy of discussion.
          But sympathies for post-GWB, current Republican policies? Nah.Report

          • Avatar NewDealer says:

            I’m just trying to be aware that I live and have always lived in very Democratic leaning cocoons. So my reality of everyone being very liberal in my cohort is not reflective of the broader nation as a whole.

            Basically I am trying not to fall into the Pauline Kael trapReport

          • Avatar NewDealer says:

            And I meant more economic conservatism than social-conservatism.

            So pre-GWB, yes. Not post-GWBReport

            • Avatar Morat20 says:

              Those guys all became Democrats. I mean, really, the modern Democratic party is basically the GOP of the 80s.

              Except gay friendlier, basically.Report

        • Avatar Barry says:

          “That being said, I suspect that a lot of young people have Republican sympathies but don’t show it and I think we are still largely a 50/50 nation. There are still plenty of relatively young people in the Republican Party like Paul Ryan. There are a lot of people who spent their formative years in Reagan’s America and are still awash in Gipper-love.”

          Note that as people have said, the youth partisan gap is at record levels, and from history that will stick for decades, if not for a lifetime. The long-term problem for the GOP is that we are not a 50-50 nation, but that they are in a better situation to exploit minority status (note that they’d have lost the House if voting were fair, and that the Senate is a bastion of acerage over people).Report

          • Avatar Barry says:

            Adding on – Pauly Ryan is in his mid-forties; he’s only young in comparison to the DC politician crowd. And so far it looks like he’s peaked. In addition, his budgets are basically ‘f*ck everybody but the rich, and triple f*ck anybody young who’s not rich’. If you’re looking at his budget without subconscious buttons like ‘Socialism! Commie! Russia!’, I don’t see a good reception, and neither do people under 30.Report

          • Avatar NewDealer says:

            I am willing to concede and hope I am wrong in my predictions and that the GOP goes the way of the DoDo and we get a new wave of liberalism.Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP says:

            I’m trying to come to terms with how this age gap emerged between Dems and GOPers. I’m a Liberal and I’ve said some nasty things about pretty much every other political viewpoint — but strictly on a recreational basis. This nation needs a conservative viewpoint.

            Liberalism is not the answer. It is the question — or more properly, the Liberals are those terrible children who reflexively demand to know “Why” in the face of the obvious. It’s a useful enough viewpoint, Liberalism, and it is necessary — but it’s not complete.

            Obviousness is often an intellectual dead-end, backed only by bad axioms. But sometimes, the obvious is entirely reasonable: bills must be paid, the government ought not do what the markets can manage better, given half a chance, folks will attempt to game the system. Liberals have a distinct bias toward government solutions because they see problems the market hasn’t solved. That natural bias is not illogical. It’s incomplete. It requires synthesis, justification, replacing a bad axiom with a better one.

            Paul Ryan’s budgets are mostly crazy talk but there’s a nugget o’ truth in them, one Liberals have yet to properly address. We cannot spend our way to prosperity. There’s a difference between central banks intervening in a liquidity crisis and a government recklessly issuing debt instruments.

            Today’s GOP is thinking short-term. It’s engaged in petty, vicious, inconsequential little quarrels. If the GOP is losing relevance and becoming a new elitist Tory Party, as were their Whig forebears, a new party will arise, as did the Republican Party itself, to pick up the intellectual and political slack. The very last thing a Liberal should ever want is to have all his wishes granted.Report

            • Avatar greginak says:

              I completely agree with most of this. As a liberal, we also need a conservative movement to slow down some change and to temper the push for progress. We would do well with a stronger libertarian movement instead of just the clownish Paul’s. Heck it would be great if we had a Green or Social Dem movement to offer another voice. One of the worst things about our politics is we have such a narrow range of voices and acceptable ideas among the inside the beltway folks. We need multiple voices and movements to try to soften the worst impulses of all sides.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                We have a conservative party. They’re also Democrats. Which is frankly where the youth probably went.

                The Democratic tent is particularly wide right now — they’ve always had experience dealing with a big tent, and the left-side is fairly marginalized — the “radicals” of the left aren’t even allowed in the tent, much less to contribute to the conversation.

                Instead the Democratic party is generally run by centrist or even conservative Democrats, with the more progressive elements pushing on the edges.

                The ACA has a case in point — Democratic proposals ranged from the 1994 GOP plan (which was more or less adopted) to Medicare for all and Single Payer. Nationalization wasn’t even considered.

                In the end, without a single Republican vote — the GOP plan of 20 years ago was put into place.

                If the young voters want a conservative party, they’ve got one. Even the left wing of the Democratic party isn’t exactly out there, especially not against the backdrop of the rest of the First World.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                I question the Democratic Party’s allegiance to the basic principles of conservatism by anyone’s definition. From what I’ve seen, the Democrats never once attempted to run this ACA game by the numbers. Obama and the Democrats allowed ACA to turn into an enormous payday for the insurance firms and Big Healthco.

                Democrats remain committed to their default position: got a problem? Government can solve it. Well no it bloody well can’t. They’re hip deep in hypocrisy and doubletalk. They’ve proven mighty enemies of the public trust, betraying it at every turn. Look at AG Holder, that two-bit weasel, attacking the First Amendment — and he’s protected by Valerie Jarrett, the real power behind Obama’s throne, whose name never seems to come up often enough when these abuses emerge.

                The Democrats are not conservatives. If they were, they’d be taking the conservative message to heart: government ought to respect our Constitutional rights. That they have not done.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Democrats remain committed to their default position: got a problem? Government can solve it.

                rs. Obama and the Democrats allowed ACA to turn into an enormous payday for the insurance firms and Big Healthco.

                *scratches head*Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                What’s so hard about this? ACA is a tax.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                I’m sick of the Libertarians. They’re a vast collection of NOT gates. Whatever you’re for, they’re against. May God preserve us from those simpletons. The signature of every bad political movement is that it believes in the essential goodness of man and it always leads them to some conclusion wherein government shall fade away, or at least know its proper place, that is to say — far from the daily lives of the citizens. We saw it with the Communists and all their idealist predecessors.

                The last thing American politics needs at this point is a bunch of precious idealists ranting about the Evils of Government. Between the Conservatives, who instinctively understand the wrong-headed excesses of Do Gooderism and the Liberals, who question the reasonableness of the underlying assertions behind the Status Quo, we shall manage nicely without these Libertarian babblers.

                Which isn’t to say Libertarians are all idiots, nor were the Marxists or the various idealistic -isms in their turn. It’s just that so many of them are. What America needs is a better balance between pragmatists and idealists.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

                Whatever you’re for, they’re against

                That’s what happens if you’re for things others think (rightly or wrongly) are bad ideas. But there are plenty of things libertarians are for: an end to foreign interventions, an end to the war on drugs, the elimination of the Fed, an end to corporate welfare, a return to the gold standard, deregulation, for personal charity, for local community involvement, for free trade, for free emigration, etc. Not that these are all necessarily good ideas, and not that I’m suggesting you ought to agree with them, but libertarians are for them.

                The problem I think you’re encountering is that every time you see a need for government policy libertarians are against that (and maybe stupidly against it sometimes). But that’s not because they’re against everything, they’re just against government doing much of anything. In my mind, at least, that’s an important distinction.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Is the gold standard a major libertarian issue?Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                It’s always so simple with you guys. The answer is always No. Problems with pirates and terrorists? Not a problem. People addicted to drugs, causing no end of petty crime and giving others diseases? End the war on drugs with nothing to replace it. Trying to run the world on the basis of a single commodity is just too dumb to even debate, the Gold Standard is nonsense. Deregulation — what’s to be deregulated? Never seems to occur to you simpletons that regulation is written in blood and the planet got a full demonstration of your deregulatory nostrums in 2008.

                Consequences, consequences. Never a problem for you Libertarians.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

                Well, I tried to engage in a reasoned discussion, but I guess it’s not to be.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                I can’t speak to the other issues you mention, because generally I disagree with libertarians on them, but on ending the drug war, I’ve never heard anyone, not one person, suggest that we end the drug war and not have something “to replace it.” Almost everyone I’ve heard call for the end of the drug war has argued for treatment regimes to replace it.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Where’s the reasoning in your debate, James? It is, as I have said, all NOT gates.

                At least the Conservatives understand consequences. They might go overboard, trying to defend their positions on the basis of antique thinking about this-‘n-that. With them, I can reason. They understand axiomatic truth and how slippery such reasoning becomes over time.

                Not those Lazy Libertarians, though. Your axioms are unassailable. They’re not even axioms, they’re dogma, theology — and woe betide anyone who dares to question them or you lot will get all huffy and say I’m not engaging in Reasoned Debate. Reasoning is predicated on information: the more the better. And in the real world, where the closer you look at anything, the more complex it becomes, Liberals and Conservatives have been at this for centuries, attempting to come to terms with the world as it is and the world as it might be.

                I used to have a boss, great guy. Peter. When we’d go to these design meetings and the execs would say the word “just” as in “well, if we just did this…” — Peter would look at them, grin and raise his hands to heaven, proclaiming sarcastically “Everything is easy!”

                And that’s exactly where we’re at with you Libertarians. Everything is easy. Mankind is good, mankind would do the right thing if only those Nasty Old Gummints would let the Free Market do its thing. We tried it your way. Didn’t work out so good. Time for you lot to stop treating your axioms as dogmatic truth and start eating your own dog food about Objective Truth, which might lead to some Reasoned Discussion. I do not anticipate such developments any time soon.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

                And that’s exactly where we’re at with you Libertarians. Everything is easy. Mankind is good

                Wrong on both counts. Libertarians say things aren’t easy, that’s why faith in top-dwn government policies is unwise. And they say mankind isn’t all good, that’s why you don’t want to trust anyone with the force of government.

                So, no, you still are wrong on the basics of libertarianism, and I’ll leave it at that.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I’ve never heard anyone, not one person, suggest that we end the drug war and not have something “to replace it.”

                Ooooh! Oooh! ME!!!!! Let’s just end the drug war!Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Faith in top-down government policies is one thing. Imposition of consistent rules across a given domain is quite another. This has nothing to do with Faith and everything to do with Doubt.

                Conservatives doubt every new idea is a good one. That’s a worthy doubt, one which should be constantly applied: a new idea must justify itself. Liberals doubt old assumptions remain valid forever to that end, they annoy the bejesus out of Conservatives, demanding better explanations than “that’s the way we’ve always done things.”

                You don’t trust anyone with the power of government. Good. Conservatives don’t trust government, either. They correctly fear the Tyranny of the Do-Gooders. Liberals don’t trust government, they understand the Tyranny of the Despot. What makes you think the Libertarians have some unique insight into government which hasn’t already been tried a hundred times before? You and the damned Marxists, I’m telling you, whether or not you want to admit it, you both believe government ought to dry up and blow away — and both of you are impervious to argument. It’s theology.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Let’s just end the drug war!

                Yeah. Then comes the Drug Peace, one where we deal rationally with all these addicts. Unless you think folks can simultaneously manage a crack addiction and a full-time career, there will need to be some rules for the Drug Peace.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                If people are allowed to drink Whiskey, they’ll get in even more fistfights! Sure, Prohibition has its excesses, but they’re better than drunken fistfights!

                Yeah. Don’t mend it. End it.

                Give it a couple of years and then, after a decade or so, we can see whether we need to throw some more money at subsidizing coffee for narcanon meetings.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Jaybird! Stop! You’re making too much sense! Heaven forbid we come to some reasonable conclusions about what people do with freedom.Report

              • Avatar LWA says:

                Sorry, this made me smile-
                “But there are plenty of things libertarians are for: an end to …, an end to …, the elimination of the …, an end to …, a return to …”

                OK, so thats a list of things that they are against.

                Got that.

                But not to worry- they are “for personal charity, for local community involvement, for free trade, for free emigration, etc. ”

                All of which are defined as the absence of affirmative actions, or obligatory engagements.

                So it is defined entirely in the negative.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

                Every for implies an against, and every against implies a for. Why are you for certain government programs? Because you’re against the continued existence of some problem. Why are you for the idea of moral duties to help others? Because you’re against what you believe are the consequences of the alternative.

                Folks who aren’t determined to find any excuse to attack what they disagree with won’t find that hard to understand.Report

              • Avatar LWA says:

                You don’t think libertarianism is primarily agnostic as to outcomes?

                Consider, that nearly all political philosophies assert a vision of a society marked by freedom, but also happiness, loyalty to tribe, general prosperity, and flourishing of the human spirit. Exhibit A would be the Preamble.

                They aren’t agnostic- they have a specific goal and outcome in mind.

                Are you proposing something like that?
                Are you saying, for instance, that voluntary engagements would result in general happiness and flourishing of the human spirit?

                Or are you saying that we should prefer voluntary engagements, regardless of what sort of outcome develops?Report

            • Avatar Snarky McSnarkSnark says:

              I think the current Republican party is a reactionary party, in the most literal sense of that word. The United States has gone through more social / cultural change in the last forty years or so than probably the two hundred years preceding it. Social roles and constructs were dissolved. The economic arrangements we, ahem, older Americans were born into are ancient history, replaced by doubt and ambiguity.

              I think it’s natural for humans to accept the circumstances they grew up with as being the “norm” for the world: that’s part of the marvelous plasticity of human nature. It makes us very, very adaptive, able to survive on a desert plain, a savanna, arctic climes, and big cities. It also helps ensure cultural continuity that it is part of our nature to gravitate towards the social and cultural models we learned when we were very young.

              But the pace of change we look at today is historically unprecedented. For those that are currently part of the reactionary right (primarily those born from the 40s to the mid-60s), the world has changed. A lot. In the 40s and 50s, the role of women was well-established, virtually everyone spoke the same language, had family ties that went back to Western Europe, had well-defined relationships to negroes, homosexuals and foreigners (who all had the good grace to try to minimize their differences with the cultural mainstream).

              We all have different tolerances for change, and those on the low side of the bell curve became the current Republican party. I’m not sure there’s much that can be done about that, as the conservatism is probably part of their genetic nature.

              But the ways in which conservatism (or liberalism, or any other human inclination) manifests is pretty plastic, as well. Nationalism can go in the direction of pride, or of conquest. And the conservative movement is currently being led by some pretty cynical and unprincipled people: more interested in power than the health and quality of the culture.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Interesting. To respond effectively would require an entire post, oh Toothy One.

                I’m gonna Go Tom Friedman on this one, a lazy punt if you will. Intel has this new chip out now called Haswell and I’m starting to come to terms with it. I always start at the bottom with new technology.

                Anyway, Intel has this strategy called Tick and Tock. Tock is a change to the architecture. Tick shrinks the previous Tock. They’re separate problems: if you check that link, you’ll see how this works over time.

                Democracies make Tock architecture changes by adding new laws. If they’re smart, they go through a Tick phase, working on those laws, reducing their footprint. But a Tick phase is as tough as a Tock. Haswell includes tons of concessions to reality: Iris graphics technology is one such concession.

                Intel could have put Iris into production a while back. They waited until Haswell to make this move: the last Tock, Sandy Bridge was a big one and wasn’t without problems.

                Here comes the Friedman Moustache Wiggle and Simplistic Pontification upon which this comment was built: prepare yourself….

                Progress comes with risks. Not all solutions work out in the long term, mostly because they weren’t integrated properly into the larger picture. If the GOP has become a collection of unpleasant reactionaries, that’s because their politicians don’t understand how to best scare Democratic Liberals. If they were only more scientific, the GOP would say, “Are you sure about this? Given any thought to the consequences of what you’re asking for in this instance?” — which would cause the Democrats to run back to their advisers and demand some answers.Report

    • Avatar zic says:

      With redistricting and voter suppression, they can use government money and power to keep themselves in money and power for probably a decade or so. This looks pretty good if you’re a 50-something person in the GOP who’s anywhere near the decision-making group; you could make it to retirement and pocket a nice chunk of cash on the way.

      I agree with this.

      And BlaiseP, awesome post; I like the song metaphor. But even if they find that song, I suspect it will be a one-hit wonder, on the political charts for a decade, never hitting the top of the charts.

      But a political premise built on getting mine and screw the grandkids does seem a bit lacking.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        Some songs have staying power. The Labour Party sang Jerusalem in Parliament upon the occasion of their win in 1945. And it’s been a staple of rugby union and cricket forever. Here’s a version of it. Guaranteed to annoy half of the UK and thrill the other half. BBC wouldn’t allow it to be played, so strong are feeling on this subject.Report

        • Avatar zic says:

          Did you knowThe Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa? Heard an interview with his daughter, in which she says the locals simply play down/ignore his leftist leanings in their attempt to embrace the economic benefits of so honoring the most famous native son; something about him sympathizing with the communist party, but not actually being an active member.

          I wonder how the composer of This Land Is Your Land would feel about that.

          Here’s the interview.Report

          • Avatar zic says:

            Moderation in all things, including the comment in moderation.

            Can someone liberate it for me?Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP says:

            Woody’s guitar had a sticker: “This machine kills fascists.”

            They were strange times. Woody Guthrie’s cultivated Working Stiff image belied the reality of his life: he was forever the pawn of the next guy to pay him and give him shelter. Everyone saw what they wanted to in Woody Guthrie. Truth is, for those of us who listened to him a lot, Woody Guthrie was condemned for the friends who’d made him famous. He’s still something of a mystery.Report

            • Avatar Chris says:

              This is an unnecessarily cynical view of Guthrie.

              Plus, he gave us this.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                It’s my view and my post and therefore Entirely Necessary. Woody Guthrie was exactly what I’ve said he was, an earnest man who wrote powerful songs for people who projected their visions upon him in ways which surprised even him at the time. His calamitous association with the Communists was none of Woody’s doing: the Communists wanted a Common Man and Woody would play for anyone willing to listen.

                They were strange times and Woody Guthrie was not a Common Man, though that’s the role he played.Report

            • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

              “Woody’s guitar had a sticker: “This machine kills fascists.””

              But even he admitted that you had to swing it really, really hard.Report

        • Avatar NewDealer says:

          I prefer the Bill Bragg version.

          I still like Happy Days Are Here Again and Everyone is Voting for Jack even though I was born decades after the FDR and Kennedy administrations.

          Other songs I like are Solidarity Forever and the Red Flag. They are bracingReport

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      I agree with this. The demographics for the GOP are disastorous in the long term but are very good in the short and medium term probably. The GOP’s constiuents turn out to vote more regularly than the Democratic Party’s constiuents. When you combine this with the voting restrictions and gerry-mandering put into place, the GOP can control several state governments and the House for years. The nature of the American political system, as you noted, makes getting the Senate and Presidency achievable sooner rather than latter. The GOP doesn’t need to change to regain power, it just needs to wait. When the GOP does regain power, the results are probably going to be disastorous but thats only a temporary set back in our system.Report

    • Avatar Michelle says:

      They’re trashing the living crap out of a large number of states, punishing those they don’t like restructuring the legal system and looting like crazy, in *at least* Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Louisiana, Alabama and Florida, that I know of. With redistricting and voter suppression, they can use government money and power to keep themselves in money and power for probably a decade or so.

      As a resident of North Carolina, I can attest to this fact. The 2010 election really did a job on the state, gaining control of both the state senate and assembly. Then came the gerrymandering. In 2010, Democrats held 7 0f 13 Congressional seats; now they hold 5 of 13. Plus, we got a Republican governor. Oh goody.

      There’s a huge battle looming on changing the state tax code. Republicans want to eliminate the state income tax (or, at the very least flatten it). They want to make up the revenue loss through increasing the sales tax and including among those things taxed food and services. What civilized state taxes food sales. Certainly none I’ve ever lived in. The result will be considerable tax cuts for people in the upper income brackets while taxes on the lower-income echelons will increase.

      Of course, the state is also trying to pass a voter ID law, which has generated quite a number of protests in the capital of Raleigh. Part of the plan is to tax parents whose kids register to vote where they go to college. Not sure how they propose to make that work.

      And finally, the Republicans are going after abortion rights and women’s health care. Aside from the usual set of restrictions, one Republican bill proposes including in the state’s sex education a requirement that middle-school children be informed that abortion increases the risks for early-term pregnancy, although the science supporting this assertion is unclear at best.

      Gaah. I thought I was moving to North Carolina, not freakin’ Mississippi.Report

  3. Avatar David Ryan says:

    Is that actually a picture of the burning WTC towers on that bill board?Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP says:

      Indeed it is.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        If you trace out the history of Terrah! against the US you’ll find that every event either occurred during a Democratic Presidential term or was the direct result of decision-making made while a Dem was POTUS. Therefore (I mean, do I really need to fill in all those logical argumenty thingies?), Dem Potus’s cause terrorism.Report

    • Avatar Barry says:

      There’s a frightening strength in being able to boast of one’s failures.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        Well, we all know conservatism cannot fail, so there’s that. Really, the only failure of conservatism is letting the other isms have a say in things. Or even exist.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Clinton was president during Ruby Ridge and 9/11 and TARP was Obama’s idea.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer says:

      They are a classy and somber bunch!Report

  4. Avatar jaded says:

    The very things that the GOP needs to attract the young voter (more fiscally conservative, not focusing on social conservatism and religious conservatism) will never happen as long as the Tea Party Dominionists have control of the party. They’ve already threatened to go third party if the GOP changes that part of their platform.Report

    • Avatar Barry says:

      “…more fiscally conservative, not focusing on social conservatism and religious conservatism…”

      Why would even genuine ‘fiscal conservatism’ appeal to young people? They already have that. And please note that ‘fiscal conservatism’ in practice by the right means ‘older people get all sorts of goodies; you get f*cked’.Report

      • Avatar jaded says:

        Maybe you have a different definition of “fiscal conservatism” than I do. I think that there should be financial responsibility and unless they’re medical bills, lawyer bills or some other kind of bills that are necessities, people and/or businesses shouldn’t live above their means. Consumers shouldn’t have to pay when businesses are irresponsible (Wall Street). I believe that taxes are necessary and you get what you pay for. If you don’t want to pay taxes then fine. But you shouldn’t be able to get any government services. I also think that the idea of Obamacare is conservative because paying an affordable amount for health insurance that can’t reject you for pre-existing conditions is more responsible and costs less in the long run than going to the emergency room, being charged outrageous amounts for services because of no insurance then defaulting and leaving it for the insured people to pay for. And I’m a pragmatic liberal.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer says:

      Except that a lot of polls show that younger Americans have a more optimistic view in the ability of government to solve social problems and are firmer believers in the safety net.

      This is largely because we graduated into the economy that the GOP has wrought and that is an economy where the GOP has trampled upon the social contract and desecrated everything.Report

  5. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    Like I outlined above, I think that in the short and medium term the GOP doesn’t really need to change. They just need to wait and let the American political system bring them back into power. The GOP has quite a lot of power thanks to our system even though they do not control the Presidency and the Senate. Abuse of Senate procedure and control of the House lets them gum up the work of government.

    It took well over a decade of loosing elections for the Labour Party to get the message that they need to change in order to win. The UK’s political system is more likely to cause a political party to change their ideology and reform themselves becasue the minority party is completely without power at the national level. The American system gives minority parties much more power, especially if they are willing to engage in loophole and rule abuse, lowering the incentive to change. They just need to wait.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP says:

      I’m not sure these comparisons work. Labour in the UK lost elections because it could never form enough of an internal coalition to unite the far left and the moderates. Labour simply didn’t evolve as fast as the Tories. But when the Tories lost their good name as fiscal conservatives, they were heaved out.

      Labour Party have always been internally divided. They’re still divided. But they’re a parliamentary system, where minorities can get their positions through in exchange for support on other issues important to majorities. We see this most clearly in nations such as Israel and India: parliaments do a far better job of representing factions than our small-r republican system.

      The American republican system isn’t coping very well. Some issues can’t wait.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        I agree, the Madisonian system works best when both parties cover a fairly wide ideological spectrum. When the parties get more ideological, the Madisonian system falls apart. When the Democratic and Republican Parties both had conservative, liberal, and moderate factions, our system worked very well. From about Grover Cleveland to very recently, all Presidents could rely on at least some support from the other party. There were Republicans that did support the New Deal. And yes, some issues can’t wait. It took us fifty to hundred years, depending on how you count, to get even something resembling a national healthcare system to pass. Thats too long and it passed is barely adequate.

        IMO, separating the legislative and executive branches is really stupid. You should either have a Parliamentary system with a Ceremonial Monarch or President or French style Semi-Presidential system. There needs to be some relation between the majority in the legislature and control of the executive though for a system to work.Report

  6. Avatar Morat20 says:

    I think that particular bit about the “stronger position with upcoming leaders” is…probably premature speculation. The media’s been buzzing about those names because the GOP doesn’t hold the Presidency, and so the media’s going looking for the ‘standard bearer’ the ‘up and comer’, the one face to put to the GOP (since they have one for the Democrats — the President).

    I’m not surprised those names are well known. They’re often in the news. But that doesn’t mean a whole lot. Especially with the caveat after (that when they think of the voice of the party, they think of Limbaugh).

    I think saying they’re in a ‘stronger position’ because they’ve got name recognition on six people — 4 of whom, minimum, have a snowball’s chance of making it through a Presidential primary and less than that of a general election (much less have any voice in party policy, long term) is…premature.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP says:

      No sooner does one of these characters appear than Rush and Billo must put on their Inquisitor’s Robes to see if he’s doctrinally sound. And there they go, like Henry IV to Canossa, to see if Pope Rush will lift the excommunication he’s placed upon them.

      Forget all these Up and Comers. They’re all going to stand in the snow and wait to kiss Pope Rush’s ring.Report

  7. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    Excellent post, BP, and (I think) good suggestions the GOP would be wise to follow.

    FWIW, as I read this I kept thinking, “damn, I wish I’d written this!,” which you should take as a compliment.Report

  8. Avatar dexter says:

    As for republican stars I think Jindal’s light is a snuffed candle. Last poll I saw for our governor had him at 39%. His voucher program has been declared unconstitutional, his tax proposal was laughed out of the house, he spends most of his time out of state raising money and giving talks, there is a sinkhole that is causing much grief for those living nearby and the governor did not bother to go and say sorry for months, plus the scandal rumors are growing.
    Purely anecdotal, but there are several thirty something nephews, nieces and children running around and a couple of them are firmly in the “tax is theft camp”. While I have never heard one of them say something negative about homosexuals or minorities, I have heard that say bad things about people who do.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP says:

      I just returned from a stint in Metairie Louisiana, working in NOLA. Louisiana is rank with bigotry. Jindal was supposed to be a nice, compliant pro-biz kinda guy, a tool for the Baton Rouge booboisie and good ol’ boys. Didn’t quite work out that way. Louisiana and Illinois have this in common: a Red State with one big Blue City. NOLA might as well be in another country for all that. NOLA is far and away the worst-run city I’ve ever seen in the USA, though Houston runs a close second and Atlanta is no prize pig on that count.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        What’s wrong with Houston?Report

        • Avatar BlaiseP says:

          Where to start? At the time I knew it well, which was about seven years ago, there was one little corner of it which wasn’t an absolute shithole, the tail end of Westheimer where it peters out to two lanes. I was working up by IAH, as dismal a tract of real estate as can be imagined. Stayed up by Rankin and 45: each morning’s commute down N Sam Houston was an act of sodomy. But ever and anon, I had to go to Pecan Grove in the morning. My scotch consumption tripled in that town.

          Has that town ever heard of the concept of zoning? Or parks? What is this abomination called the Houston U turn, in the middle of the street, where the driver must attempt to pull in, leaving the ass end of his car hanging out into the leftmost lane of traffic, to get to the other side of the street?

          Well, there was Galveston. I liked Galveston. I went down there every chance I got. May God save Galveston. But the rest of that benighted burg can be smitten with fire and brimstone for all I care. My hatred for Houston is immense, boundless, completely unreasonable and permanent.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 says:

            (1) It’s gotten better. 🙂 For one, we stopped electing so many super-business friendly Republicans who hate mass transit, urban renewal, and urban planning.

            We’re still pretty much non-zoned, but between the (slowly) developing mass transit (still really, really, crappy but given Tom Delay personally delayed it by something like 20 years and also kicked Metro in the nuts as often as he could, well, it’s amazing we have anything), the the inner loop slowly revitalizing, it’s gotten better.

            Traffic is still a mess, but…the city is sprawled and there was absolutely no zoning and planning as it grew. Fixing that is a generational project. At least they’re trying now.

            And yes, the Astros do suck. 🙂

            Still, I’m actually willing to go inside the loop now and I’ve been surprised at some of the changes. Pity about the climate.

            But none of that is really corruption type stuff, like NOLA fights. It’s just, well, about 50 years of sprawl and lack of planning. And then 20 years of calling urban planning socialistic liberal nonsense. And then finally electing some sane people who realize there’s really an actual limit on the number of lanes you can expand freeways, because eventually downtown itself would be just freeway.Report

            • Avatar Chris says:

              I have to admit that I hate Houston, and avoid it like the plague, but this is not a result of how it’s run.

              I love Atlanta, though, and New Orleans also holds a special place in my heart as well, though I think what’s happened to it after Katrina is a tragedy that compounded a tragedy within a tragedy. I have several friends who are Katrina evacuees who never returned. I frequently hear some version of this: “I love New Orleans. I miss New Orleans. I am New Orleans. I will never move back to New Orleans.”Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                I’ve only been to Houston once, but it is probably my least favorite American city that I can recall.

                The Vietnamese food was good, though.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Oh yeah, there’s some really good places for that. Pity everything is like 45 minutes from everything else. 🙁

                And they’re thinking another 15 years on getting even the basic mass transit finished. (We’ve got a light rail downtown, but the spokes out to the suburbs and surrounding towns won’t be complete for ages. Even the inner loop setup isn’t complete).Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                I went to Houston thinking I’d eat good BBQ. I ended up getting some fantastic Vietnamese and Indian food, which was nice since I can’t get those close to home anymore.

                I also had a good New Orleans style meal at a local-church-turned-lunch-hall. I forget the name, but it was pretty good.

                Otherwise… that place sucked.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Houston is not where you go for Texas BBQ. Central Texas is where you go for Texas BBQ. Houston is where you go for mosquitos and to get completely lost even with GPS.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Well, I know that *now*.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                There’s good BBQ. You just have to look for it. Unless it’s Rodeo time. 🙂Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                I make no pretense of knowing Houston BBQ well, but Hungry Farmer’s up on Airline was pretty good. Most of what I got in Houston was of the dry rub school, which varies considerably. The only inedible barbeque in the USA is in North Carolina, called Eastern Style, where terrible things involving vinegar are inflicted on otherwise innocent swine.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                I suppose this isn’t a good place to note that I love Carolina BBQ. Where I’m from, Middle Tennessee, the BBQ (and in NC and that part of Tennessee, “BBQ” means pulled pork) is a fusion of Memphis-style and NC style.

                Ninety percent of the arguments I get into with Texans are about whether Texas or Tennessee BBQ are better. I also rank St Louis over Texas, which is sacrilege here.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                New Orleans is a vile place. The French Quarter is an adult Disneyland, only without the security. Metairie was okay as these things go but I would hear the most disturbingly bigoted nonsense along the breakfast counter and the local bar. Couldn’t believe I was hearing the word “Nigger” in broad daylight in Anno Domini 2013. Often in the same sentence with “Barack Obama.”

                I went to Louisiana years ago and the Cajun culture welcomed me in as one of their own. None of it is to be found anywhere near New Orleans. You’d have to cross the Horace Wilkinson Bridge in Baton Rouge and head a long ways west on I-10 before you found any of it, though. And that’s disappearing fast.

                The best Vietnamese in Louisiana is out Chef Menteur Road, Dong Phuong, in New Orleans East.

                Atlanta is a mess. Some of it has been cleaned up, down near Inman Park is nice. The Highlands has some commendable architecture. Buckhead is an overpriced dump. But the parts I know well, Norcross, Sandy Springs, Marietta, East Point — horrible. What was deluxe becomes debris.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                New Orleans is a vile place, but I don’t think the French Quarter has anything to do with it (I have absolutely no problem with vice). The problem is the poverty and lack of opportunity in the wards on the east side of the city, and the utter neglect of those wards by the city, county, and state. The resulting violence and other crime makes me angry and sad to a degree that few things can.

                I met a guy from New Orleans just this past Saturday, on the bus. He was young, just out of the army (he told me that he couldn’t complain about the height, as I was, because it wasn’t as bad as Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman… or New Orleans). He said he and his mother wanted to go back, but whereas before Katrina they might know one or two people who were the victims of violent crime every year, now it seems like everyone he knows back there has some sort of run in with violence.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                I do think the French Quarter has plenty to do with it. I worked two blocks west of Canal Street, at Gravier and St. Charles. New Orleans is hugely dependent on the tourist trade and tolerates all sorts of crap to keep them coming in from everywhere in their pursuit of Wretched Excess. I have no problem with vice, either, insofar as everything from Canal to Esplanade doesn’t turn into a vomit slip-n-slide every time some tourist convention comes to town. That gets old. Fast.Report

            • Avatar Barry says:

              “But none of that is really corruption type stuff, like NOLA fights. ”

              Please note that DeLay was convicted on charges of ………… corruption.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Bad as Tom DeLay was, and he was horrible, his modus vivendi was pretty tame by Lousiana standards.

                New Orleans has raised corruption to an art form and Baton Rouge gave rise to the greatest master of that art in American history, Huey P. Long. It doesn’t help that Louisiana’s government gives its governors such vast powers of patronage. But as with Illinois, Louisiana governors often serve two terms: one in office and the the other in prison.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Oh yeah, but he was corrupt in Washington. I’m talking local corruption. (Rod Paige and HISD — usual test score games — was about our biggest story, and he was Bush’s Secretary of Education. Yay).

                Tom Delay, though, single-handedly killed mass transit in Houston for 20 years. He habitually and personally blocked funds for it, encouraged or backed lawsuits, and basically screwed Houston on mass-transit over and over and over. It wasn’t just enough to block any and all federal funds (he did. It was okay for Dallas, but not Houston) but the man was part of, supportive, or behind I think like half-a-dozen lawsuits.

                For a mass transit system that had nothing to do with his district. At all.Report

            • Avatar Michelle says:

              Houston is a huge wart on the butt of Texas. The place is one big giant freeway and ugly as sin. My hatred for Houston is second only to my hatred for Los Angeles, which has a better climate but is essentially a horridly expensive shit hole.Report

        • Avatar Chris says:

          The traffic. The sprawl. The Astros. The Astros.

          That said, Houston seems like an exceptionally well run city for its size, particularly since the lack of planned growth makes it clear that no one had any idea it would get this big (though I understand they’ve taken a more proactive approach to growth recently).

          Atlanta is a more difficult case, because its immediate suburbs are a mess, even if the city itself is functioning pretty well.Report

          • Avatar Cletus says:

            I visited Houston once and my cousin tried to take me to a restaurant called “taste of texas” once. Food was ok, service was horrible.

            When I found out who the racist clown was that owned it, I felt the need to excuse myself to the purging room.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      Jindal is ineligible to be president for most of the same reasons as Obama.Report

      • Avatar dexter says:

        It’s okay with the baggers and the fundies to have more melanin than the average euro American if you are a far right winger, willing to let schools teach the age of earth controversy and help with exorcisms.Report

        • Avatar BlaiseP says:

          I’ve gotten Extra Tired of the term Bagger and I come of good Fundie stock. The Tea Parties, as I’ve said elsewhere, are an unreasonable response to an uncaring government. As for the Fundies, they are who they are, warts and all. They’re doing very well maintaining their way of life, holding themselves together in the face of considerable societal opposition. They don’t need your approval.

          Tell you how Louisiana is organised. North of I-10, it’s mostly Protestant. South of I-10, it’s mostly Catholic. Bobby Jindal converted to Catholicism as a boy and did yeoman’s work on health care back in the day. He’s well respected by people of faith, on both sides of I-10. He sides with them on everything, including lots of dumb things. He’s become one of the faithful and they accepted him as such — at first.

          But now Jindal’s in a cleft stick of his own making. He’s constantly fighting with his own government over budgets and taxes. A prophet hath no honour in his own country: Louisiana liked Jindal well enough while his cut-the-fat nostrums were only theories. But let those delightful hypotheticals become actual cuts — well, that’s something else entirely.

          Poor Louisiana, you wretched state. Your wounds are all self-inflicted.Report

          • Avatar dexter says:

            Didn’t mean to hurt anybody feelings. In my opinion the Tea Party does yeoman’s work for the cheetahs. As for the Fundys, I was reared in a Southern Baptist household and have a vague idea of what they are like. My grandmother had a sixty year perfect attendance record at church, spoke in tongues and had more visions than a Navaho on peyote. She also asked me one time, when they were trying to integrate her church why the African Americans didn’t go to their church and worship their god. But you are right about them holding together and I would not begrudge them a thing if they didn’t spend so much time trying to tell me and my lesbian daughter how to run our lives.Report

        • Avatar Barry says:

          “…average euro American if you …”

          Them’s fightin’ words – we ain’t not ‘Euro’ anything. We’re Jesus-Americans, as lilly white and English-speaking as Our Saviour.Report

  9. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    If the GOP wanted to be relevant again and still be conservative than they could do worse than looking back to the GOP during the 1920s. The GOP in the 1920s were largely shed of their liberal faction and were thoroughly corporate and pro-capitalist. At the same time, they weren’t necessarily anti-government. They wished to use government to help business who would make America prosperous.

    On social policy, the GOP needs to shed their culture war issues. They don’t need to embrace libertinism but I’d argue that rather than being against same-sex marriage, they should support it as a tool of social stability. You can argue that same-sex marriage creates stable households for homosexuals and should be encouraged for doing it, turn same-sex couples into family units. Encourage them to adopt, etc. Basically, see it as a way to make them into bouregeoisie. A conservative but not hideous social policy would advocate for stability and social calm.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP says:

      We had the GOP of the 1920s all through the later Clinton years and the Bush43 administration. Both sets of lunaticks deregulated the markets and damned near destroyed capitalism in the process. The GOP isn’t pro-business so much as it is a herd of syphilitic prostitutes, taking on all comers provided they have the cash.Report

      • Avatar Barry says:

        “The GOP isn’t pro-business so much as it is a herd of syphilitic prostitutes, taking on all comers provided they have the cash.”

        Harsh but just. And that’s a permanent advantage they’ll have over the Democrats, IMHO. However business-friendly the Democrats are, the GOP will be far more freaky and willing to do *anything*.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq says:

          Why isn’t Spitzer a Republican than?Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP says:

            Maybe you ought to read the basis article:

            In our focus group of young aspiring entrepreneurs who voted for Obama, respondents noted that Republicans were the more “pro-business” party. Yet when asked why they voted Democratic despite their desire to start a business themselves, the responses were clear: “I don’t think [the Republicans] would make it easier for small businesses.” “A corporation, maybe, absolutely. A small business?” “The Republican Party would make it really easy to start a business and have a successful business if you already have that capital in your bank account, because you’re not losing that money. But we’re all sitting on our own various debts and our student loans, and the Republican Party isn’t helping us with any of that.”

            The GOP is a great friend of established businesses, to the extent they can make political contributions. The upcoming generation? Not so much.

            The Republican Party likes to talk to young voters as if they are all future entrepreneurs, and not without good reason: significant numbers, including a majority of black and Hispanic young people, hope to start a business one day. Policies that lower taxes and regulations on small business are quite popular. Yet our focus on taxation and business issues has left many young voters thinking they will only reap the benefits of Republican policies if they become wealthy or rise to the top of a big business. We’ve become the party that will pat you on your back when you make it, but won’t offer a hand to help you get there. This has to change in order to have a shot with young voters.

            Is that an unfair assessment? As Fox is always telling us, “we report, you decide”. A return to the policies of the 1920s is suicide politics for the GOP.Report

  10. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    “Yet across all six groups, when the topic turned to future leaders of the parties, the GOP was clearly in a stronger position. Asked to name up-and- coming Republican stars, these young Obama voters could point to a number of examples. Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, Bobby Jindal, and Rand Paul were all mentioned…. When those same respondents were asked to name Republican leaders, they focused heavily on media personalities and commentators: Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck.”

    I’ve been thinking about this bit, and it occurred to me: The ability for young people to identify these “up & comers” may not actually be a particularly great sign.

    It occurs to me that the ones listed aren’t people that are well known because of their actual accomplishments. (Though some do indeed have some.)

    Rather, they’re pols who are famous because at one time or another over the past four years, Limbaugh/Beck/Etc. collectively (and usually quite inexplicably) declared them The Next Big Thing.Report

    • Avatar Barry says:

      Or rather, on the other side you have – The President of the USA. He’ll overshadow people. I imagine that a similar focus group conducted in ’05 would have the same situation, reversed.Report

  11. Avatar DRS says:

    It’s like Pat Boone released a rap album.Report

  12. Avatar greginak says:

    Then there is this:

    Got a long way to go baby.

    PS i’ll just leave aside the wrong headed notion that somehow education in the US has gotten worse or is terrible.Report

    • Avatar Barry says:

      And it comes from the governor of a state which caused Arkansas to coin the saying, ‘Thank God for Mississippi!’.Report

  13. Avatar North says:

    An elegantly written post as usual BlaiseP and of course I’m buried and have little time to comment. But at least you have some nice conversation in the threads. Congrats all round.Report

  14. Avatar Barry says:

    Speaking of f-ing up the states:,0,6316601,full.story

    Florida colleges can no longer require remedial classes.Report

  15. Avatar Michelle says:

    We come on the ship they call the Mayflower
    We come on the ship that sailed the moon
    We come in the age’s most uncertain hour
    and sing an Republican tune

    My apologies to Paul Simon.Report

  16. Avatar Allen says:

    All in all a good post. I’ve been a registered republican my whole life, but these days I really can’t make out exactly what the GOP stands for.

    Entitlements are out of control, Medicare Part D.
    Don’t tread on me, the Patriot Act.
    Fiscal sanity, repeal Glass/Steagall.

    It’s not that they don’t have a message, it’s that the reality is far different.Report