Sunday, August 21, 2011

McCain and Graham keeping it classy

Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham released a joint statement on the fall of Gaddafi,
The end of the Qadaffi regime in Libya is a victory for the Libyan people and for the broader cause of freedom in the Middle East and throughout the world. This achievement was made possible first and foremost by the struggle and sacrifice of countless Libyans, whose courage and perseverance we applaud. We also commend our British, French, and other allies, as well as our Arab partners, especially Qatar and the UAE, for their leadership in this conflict. Americans can be proud of the role our country has played in helping to defeat Qaddafi, but we regret that this success was so long in coming due to the failure of the United States to employ the full weight of our airpower.

Friday, August 19, 2011

It's a sickening feeling

Kevin Drum perfectly captures the feeling,
Watching the world slide slowly back into recession without a fight, even though we know perfectly well how to prevent it, is just depressing beyond words. Our descendents will view the grasping politicians and cowardly bankers responsible for this about as uncomprehendingly as we now view the world leaders who cavalierly allowed World War I to unfold even though they could have stopped it at any time.
The GOP is a party of fools and opportunist, like Romney who certainly knows better but is so obscenely ambitious that he would watch the world fall into a global depression if that is the price for him to be president.

And as Ezra Klein says so clearly writes, this is macroeconomics 101
What should hap pen next is not that hard: Con gress should pass leg is la tion great ly increas ing sup port for the econ o my now and reduc ing the deficit by about $4 tril lion over the next 10 years ($3 tril lion once you include the dis cre tionary cuts in the debt deal). It's not rock et sci ence, and it shouldn't be par ti san. Ask ex-Reagan advis er Mar tin Feld stein, or ex-Bush Trea sury Sec re tary Henry Paul son -- or read Jack ie Calmes ask ing them -- and you'll hear the same thing. This is just stan dard eco nom ic the o ry. But Repub li cans in Wash ing ton are not going to apply it.
And don't read this as a pardon for Obama. His multiple failures of leadership have led directly to our coming under the thumb of these fools and idiots.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

David Frum takes stock in the post-Palin GOP

David Frum has written Sarah Palin's political obituary, "Over the past three years, Palin has systematically laid waste to the basis for a presidential campaign. By her own words and actions, she has discredited herself and alienated her one-time supporters."

But before the GOP gives Palin the final kiss-off to political obscurity, Frum wants the GOP to "make an assessment and accounting" of what allowed them to have embarrassingly embraced such a dim-wit.

Frum lays out 3 lessons to be learned from the Palin debacle.

1. "More respect for brains as a qualification for the presidency"
Within days of the announcement of Palin as GOP running mate, it became obvious to everybody that she could not pronounce two coherent consecutive sentences on any aspect of national policy, foreign or domestic. A lot of effort went into arguing that this ignorance did not matter, or even that it represented a weird kind of plus factor.

Three years later, we no longer hear such excuses for Palin. But it remains true even now that Republicans do not take intelligence or expertise very seriously as qualifications for the presidency. Mitt Romney's smarts do him surprisingly little good; Rick Perry's non-smarts do him disturbingly little harm; and Michele Bachmann's out-beyond-the-Orion-belt substitutions for familiarity with life here on Earth only intensify the admiration of her fan base.

2. "Quit treating consumption patterns as substitutes for character"
....the choice of cowboy boots over loafers, enjoyment of hunting rather than bicycling, a preference for ketchup over mustard — these tell us precisely nothing about a candidate's character.

Yet it was precisely these kinds of irrelevant lifestyle choices that persuaded so many conservatives that Sarah Palin would be a fitting leader. She drops her "g"s! Her husband owns a fishing boat! She shoots moose! (Not really on that last point, but that's the story we were told at the time.)

3. "Involve more women as party decision-makers"
In the single month of October 2008, Sarah Palin's favorabilities among independent women dropped by more than 20 points. Within a year of Palin's appearance on the national scene, a plurality of female Republicans dismissed her as "unqualified" for the presidency....

In 2008, John McCain had a choice of three female Republican senators, two female Republican governors, and an array of Republican female CEOs, including Meg Whitman, who would gain the Republican nomination for governor of California in 2010....But there was one clear advantage that Palin did possess over her more traditionally plausible rivals: her looks....

What Ziegler said out loud, millions of American women discerned for themselves: Here was a woman candidate chosen by men who do not respect women. No surprise what happened next.

The first two points seem pretty obvious. I've wondered out-loud for years to Republican friends why the GOP is so often drawn to real dopes -- un-serious, incurious anti-intellectuals whose most obvious trait seems to be vanity. The answer, by the way, probably has something to do with the GOP best and brightest being too busy make real fortunes in business and needing someone in office dumb enough to be easily flattered into raping the environment and transferring as much government funds to the aforementioned business people as possible before the public sours on him and casts him off into obscurity. But I digress,...

But this last point is perhaps the most important. Republicans as a group are very hostile to women. Look at how they treated then first lady Hillary Clinton? It was a vindictiveness and hatefulness that was just obscene. And of all the Democratic foes for the GOP to point to these last 5 years, the most hateful and vitriolic treatment has been reserved for Nancy Pelosi. The choice of Sarah Palin was very telling of the GOP view of women.

Republican extremism ctd.


Matt Eckel at Foreign Policy Watch attempts to make the empirical case that the GOP is demonstrably more extreme.

Matt concludes
There used to be Rockerfeller Republicans. There used to be Republicans who had grudgingly made their peace with the pillars of the American welfare state. There used to be Republicans who, on the most crucial domestic issue axis (the economy, and government’s regulatory and redistributive role therein) could be trusted to act with a modicum of responsibility. I don’t see those around anymore. I do see a political environment where people like Michelle Bachmann and Rick Perry dominate the conversation in a way Pat Robertson never managed to do. That really does represent a further shift toward the “extreme.” It’s not just something political consultants have made up.

Perry's [small] World View

The Daily Beast's David Sessions reads Rick Perry's latest book (Perry's written two books) so you don't have to.

In reading the review it seems that Perry is pretty much what you imagined him to be; an ultra-Southern extremest anti-intellectual. "Perry tends to portray policy expertise as sham and pretension, mocking political arguments, legal reasoning and historical analysis that attempt to articulate context or nuance."

But as contemptuous and wasteful as Perry finds the Federal Government, like so many conservatives with masculinity issues, he has no problem with unchecked wasteful spending if it is for war,
War seems to be a love like no other for Perry—the one arena where he’s happy for the federal government to break all his rules. After bemoaning in chapter after chapter the federal government’s inherent, hopeless corruption and waste, he asserts that the U.S. seriously underspends on national defense and that the Pentagon’s sprawling bureaucracy is both indispensable and infallible. He even argues strenuously against cutting funding for the F-22, a fighter jet the outgoing defense secretary, Robert Gates, called a Cold War relic and a source of massive waste.
The F-22 is fantastically expensive, flown zero flights in Iraq, Afghanistan or Libya (because there is no mission for it in those wars), and can't fly at all in the rain (literally) but it is built in Texas, so that is really all anyone needs to know.

I stand by my earlier comment that Perry will never be more popular than the day he announced his presidential bid. Even Republicans have had their fill of dim-witted Texas cowboys who are all hat and no cattle.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Rick Perry's Reverse Class Warfare

Scott Galupo is blunt, in a way that more opinion writers should be,
Today I'm wondering where the Reagan Republicans are. The sweeping 1986 tax overhaul that Reagan signed into law broadened the tax base, closed loopholes, and lowered individual income tax rates. It also established the Earned Income Tax Credit program, or EITC, which eliminated millions of the working poor from the rolls altogether. Expanded by President Clinton in 1993, the antipoverty program has been a smashing bipartisan success.....

Now it's become commonplace among the right to question whether such programs are "fair."The idea that the middle class—or whoever Rick Perry means by "We"—is suffering because the lower classes aren't paying taxes; the idea that the rich would create more jobs if their share of national wealth was even more heavily concentrated; the idea that, if everyone had "skin in the game," the economy would somehow improve, even as the beneficiaries of programs like the EITC are bearing the brunt of the Great Recession—all this is, to put it bluntly, a load of crap.

It's a stupid, nonempirical, and corrosive mindset.
It's also not in the spirit of Christianity and Christ's message by people who use their Christianity as a sword to sit in judgement of all those with whom they disagree.

Has Southern white extremism taken over the GOP?

On more than one occasion I've mentioned Chris Caldwell's 1998 Atlantic essay, The Southern Captivity of the GOP. Chris is a senior editor at the Weekly Standard, so it's hard to charge liberal bias.

In 1995 Michael Lind (a Texan) wrote an article for The New Republic that called the 94 take over of the House as a Southern Coup. Lind tried to put the extreme politics of the Gingrich Congress in an historical perspective.

Lind has updated his 1995 article with a new article in Salon entitled, The Tea Party, the debt ceiling, and white Southern extremism. Lind makes the case that the so called Tea Party is just the latest incarnation of Southern minority extremism holding the country hostage to get what they want.
From the earliest years of the American republic, white Southern conservatives when they have lost elections and found themselves in the political minority have sought to extort concession from national majorities by paralyzing or threatening to destroy the United States....

The Republican Party's attempted government shutdown of 1995 marked the new domination of the Republican Party by Southerners like Newt Gingrich, Dick Armey and Tom DeLay. The impeachment of their fellow Southerner Bill Clinton was an attempted coup d'├ętat by the Southern white minority in the United States, which, as in 1860, was frustrated because its candidate lost the presidential election.

The debt ceiling crisis is the latest case in which the radical right in the South has held America hostage until its demands are met. Presidents Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln refused to appease the Southern fanatics. Unfortunately, President Obama and the Democrats in Congress chose not to follow their example and instead gave in. In doing so, they have encouraged the neo-Confederate minority in Congress to find yet another opportunity in the near future to extort concessions from America's majority by sabotaging America's government.
While you might not buy into all of Lind's thesis (I do), it's hard to argue that with the Gingrich Congress in 1994, that Southern extremist politics took over the GOP. Clearly, this is not the party of Goldwater, Nixon, or George H.W.

(HT The Dish)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

This is becoming fascinating

Watching the heavy hitters in the Conservative media pummel Rick Perry.

The latest is this headline from the WSJ Washington Wire:
Perry Points to 'Idiotic' U.S. Rule That Doesn't Exist
For a small-government conservative on the presidential campaign stump like Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a new federal regulation forcing farmers to get commercial drivers licenses would make a perfect example of Barack Obama’s Washington run amok.

Unfortunately, there is no such regulation....

The GOP dilemma in one paragraph

John Batchelor at The Daily Beast perfectly sums up the problem with the current GOP field,
So far, the GOP is not constructing a candidate who can prosper in the states in which the 2012 election will turn. And the two major candidates, Romney and Perry, fail to deliver outside their own narrow, predictable records. Romney’s governorship in deeply blue Massachusetts is a waste and provides no momentum in the heartland, especially given his role in leveraged buyouts that helped transfer America’s manufacturing jobs to Asia. Perry’s governorship in red Texas is equally a waste, as the GOP hardly needs a hog-calling country parson lite from West Texas to carry the Old South. How does Perry go North with the shopworn baggage of Johnny Reb superiority and an unapologetic evangelical paternalism?
I wish I could write so well.

Karl Rove is afraid of a Perry campaign

Two things seem pretty obvious. 1, Karl Rove does not care for Rick Perry, and 2, Rove fears a Perry campaign.

From TPM,
"You don't accuse the chairman of the federal reserve of being a traitor to his country. Of being guilty of treason," Karl Rove told Fox News Tuesday. "And, suggesting that we treat him pretty ugly in Texas. You know, that is not, again a presidential statement."
In case you missed it, in response to a question before a crowd in Iowa yesterday, Perry said that for The Fed Chairman to initiate a third round of quantitative easing (increasing the cash supply by the Fed purchasing T Bill) would be "almost treasonous" and appeared to threaten the health and safty of the chairman should he visit Texas after having done so.

Perhaps the funniest thing about Rove's comments, is the fact that he was the first to criticize Perry on Fox News for his outrageous remarks and his doing so is actually controversial.

Monday, August 15, 2011

"Perhaps someone still off the field will step in and run"

In an interesting editorial today, Murdoch's WSJ writes off Bachmann, Perry and Romney and pleads for a yet unknown figure to enter the race.

Murdoch's WSJ on Bachmann,
...winning a straw poll of activists is a long way from persuading voters she has the experience and judgment to sit in the Oval Office. (Libertarian Ron Paul, who has no chance to win the nomination, finished a close second.) Mrs. Bachmann has a record of errant statements (see Battle of Lexington and Concord, history of) that are forgiven by Fox Nation but won't be if she makes them as a GOP standard-bearer.

More substantively, her attempt to position herself at all times as the anti-establishment outsider has made her seem on occasion less principled than opportunistic. She quickly distanced herself from Paul Ryan's Medicare reform when it came under liberal fire, even as she purports to be the scourge of uncontrolled spending. Her recent opposition to the debt-ceiling deal on grounds that GOP leaders should have insisted on first passing a balanced budget amendment, while holding only the House, was a political fantasy.
Murdoch's WSJ doesn't like Perry any better,
The questions about Mr. Perry concern how well his Lone Star swagger will sell in the suburbs of Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, where the election is likely to be decided. He can sound more Texas than Jerry Jones, George W. Bush and Sam Houston combined, and his muscular religiosity also may not play well at a time when the economy has eclipsed culture as the main voter concern.
And if you thought Murdoch's paper would come out for Romney, guess again,
The emergence of Mr. Perry and Mrs. Bachmann is nonetheless more evidence that GOP voters continue to have doubts about their candidates. Mitt Romney is a weak front-runner who has money and campaign experience and looks Presidential. But he gives little evidence that he has convictions beyond faith in his own technocratic expertise. Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman is likewise running on his resume more than a philosophy of government. We would have thought that John McCain proved you can't beat Mr. Obama on biography.
So who does Murdoch's mouthpiece like? They haven't meet him or her yet,
Republicans and independents are desperate to find a candidate who can appeal across the party's disparate factions and offer a vision of how to constrain a runaway government and revive America's once-great private economy. If the current field isn't up to that, perhaps someone still off the field will step in and run. Now would be the time.
So does this mean the establishment GOP -- i.e. the guys with all the money -- will try and starve off Perry and Bachmann?

I don't think Romney needs their money. Romney's LDS base will keep him flush as long has he's running.

Perry and Bachmann are under attack

....from their own party!

From 'The Hill GOP12',
First, the Wall Street Journal was spooked about the Michele Bachmann/Rick Perry surge, and just now, Karl Rove issued a similar warning.
"You don't want these candidates moving so Right in the Republican primary that it becomes impossible for them to win the general election, because it will become a self-defeating message in the primary.

People want to win. They don't want somebody who goes so far to the extremes of either party that they lack a chance to carry a victory off in November."
Earlier today, the WSJ wrote an op-ed that seemed to suggest that neither Michele Bachmann nor Rick Perry were particularly electable.


Friday, August 12, 2011

S&P Senior Director Lays Downgrade at Feet of Republicans.

Politico quotes an S&P Senior Director involved in the downgrade decision.
A Standard & Poor’s director said for the first time Thursday that one reason the United States lost its triple-A credit rating was that several lawmakers expressed skepticism about the serious consequences of a credit default — a position put forth by some Republicans.

Without specifically mentioning Republicans, S&P senior director Joydeep Mukherji said the stability and effectiveness of American political institutions were undermined by the fact that “people in the political arena were even talking about a potential default,” Mukherji said.

“That a country even has such voices, albeit a minority, is something notable,” he added. “This kind of rhetoric is not common amongst AAA sovereigns.”
The United States remains the world's largest economy by a significant margin. As a practical matter, isn't it hard for the S&P to justify a downgrade of US debt while France, for instance, remains AAA? Or better still, the Isle of Man and Guernsey? The only reasonable explanation is as listed above, but even so, surely some of this downgrade has to be about S&P seeking some PR. Remember, S&P (along with Moodys) was giving AAA ratings ti all the toxic mortgage backed securities .

Here is the S&P list of Sovereign bond ratings.

(H/T to TPM)


Mitt Romney and the Luckiest People in the World

Yesterday, Mitt Romney informed a feisty crowd in Iowa that Corporations are people too.

This video was prepared to illustrate Romney's point for all you skeptics out there,




This is the first time in a very long time that I feel good about something the Democratic opposition has done.

Michele Bachmann's 'submission' to her husband

Byron York, of all people, went there in last night's GOP debate,
YORK: In 2006, when you were running for Congress, you described a moment in your life when your husband said you should study for a degree in tax law. You said you hated the idea, and then you explained: “But the Lord said, be submissive. Wives, you are to be submissive to your husband.” As president, would you be submissive to your husband?

BACHMANN: What submission means to us, if that’s what your question is, it means respect. I respect my husband, he’s a wonderful, godly man and a great father. And he respects me as his wife. That’s how we operate our marriage. We respect each other, we love each other.
I think this is one of those 'only Nixon could go to China' moments.

And WaPo's Jennifer Rubin is right: it is a fair question about an accurate quote and Bachmann hit a home run with her answer.

Politico's Mike Allen has exclusive excerpt


From Gov Rick Perry's POTUS announcement*speech,
The change we seek will never emanate out of Washington. It will come from the windswept prairies of middle America; the farms and factories across this great land; the hearts and minds of God-fearing Americans -- who will not accept a future that is less than our past, who will not be consigned a fate of LESS freedom in exchange for MORE government. We do not have to accept our current circumstances. We will change them. We’re Americans. That's what we do. WE roll up our sleeves, WE get to work, WE make things better.
Good prose.

My 2 cents, Perry is more of a threat to Romney than Obama (and then there is this). Perry sings the Evangelical song very well, and those people don't even think Romney is Christian.

As bad as things are, I can't see the country turning again to a dim witted Texas Cowboy who calls for national days of fasting and prayer to solve our problems.

But I'm wrong all the time.

* This link will expire today. There is no permanent link to Mike Allen's Political Play Book.

Friday, August 05, 2011

If you love this land of the free,

Bring em' home, bring em' home....
To welcome our darling girls and boys
Bring 'em home, bring 'em home

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Biden: 'I'm In Charge, Not Panetta'

Josh Green has a scoop.

On Monday he was speaking with Rep Barney Frank who had just come from a caucus meeting where every one was pretty much freaking out about the debt ceiling deal. Frank spoke to VP Biden and OMB Director Jack Lew.

As Frank tells the story to Josh,
...today, Biden was at the caucus, and I said I was upset about Afghanistan and Iraq. So Jack Lew says, "Well, we're winding them down." I said, "What do you mean, you're winding them down? I read Panetta saying that he's begging the Iraqis to ask us to stay." At which point Biden asserted himself and said -- there's clearly been a dispute between them within the administration -- "Wait a minute, I'm in charge of that negotiation, not Panetta, and we have given the Iraqis a deadline to ask us, and it is tomorrow, and they can't possibly meet it because of all these things they would have to do. So we are definitely pulling out of Iraq at the end of the year." That was very good news for me. That's a big deal. I said, "Yeah, but what if they ask you for an extension?" He said, "We are getting out. Tomorrow, it's over."
I'm sure you all hope, as I do, that this is in fact the truth.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Obama's permanent damage to the Presidency and the Country

Playing off of Kara Brandeisky's article explaining how Clinton refused to negotiate the debt ceiling with Gingrich in 1995, Matt Yglesias explains how Barack Obama may have done lasting damage to the Presidency and the Country.

It's not that Clinton ultimately did not make policy concessions, he simply refused to link any concessions to the debt ceiling increase.

As Matt observes,
This had important implications going forward. Implications like—future Presidents were not expected to make concessions linked to the debt ceiling. My initial guess was that President Obama could and should pursue the same strategy, and leave ugly confrontations with Congress to the annual appropriations process where they belong.

Instead we have Keith Hennessy not only excited about the terms of the debt ceiling deal but gushing that “it also establishes a pattern for when the debt limit expires in 2013.”

This seems to me like a disaster for the country. Teaching the lesson that intransigence on the specific question of the debt ceiling brings about policy concessions seems to me to signal to all members of congress that they ought to spend the winter of 2012-2013 positioning themselves as intransigent on the debt ceiling. Now that “resolving the debt ceiling with a last minute compromise after months of threatened default” has become normalized as a way of doing business, it seems to me that we’re certain to face a situation sooner or later where the country winds up unable to pay its bills. This is going to be a lingering threat to good governance in the United States.
Matt is exactly correct. Obama has lead us into a disaster. What a disappointment.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Obama got pawned

No matter how you slice it, Obama got pawned in a very embarrassing way. And it started last December.

This is Tom Tomorrow's cartoon from last month (which Josh Green described at the time as prescient) that captures perfectly exactly how a naive POTUS got played in a way that really defies explanation.

Click on the image to enlarge

Paul Krugman reminded us this morning, that many people, including Marc Ambinder (the below questioner last December) saw this coming when Obama cut the December budget deal trading away the only leverage he had.
Q Mr. President, thank you. How do these negotiations affect negotiations or talks with Republicans about raising the debt limit? Because it would seem that they have a significant amount of leverage over the White House now, going in. Was there ever any attempt by the White House to include raising the debt limit as a part of this package?

THE PRESIDENT: When you say it would seem they’ll have a significant amount of leverage over the White House, what do you mean?

Q Just in the sense that they’ll say essentially we’re not going to raise the — we’re not going to agree to it unless the White House is able to or willing to agree to significant spending cuts across the board that probably go deeper and further than what you’re willing to do. I mean, what leverage would you have –

THE PRESIDENT: Look, here’s my expectation — and I’ll take John Boehner at his word — that nobody, Democrat or Republican, is willing to see the full faith and credit of the United States government collapse, that that would not be a good thing to happen. And so I think that there will be significant discussions about the debt limit vote. That’s something that nobody ever likes to vote on. But once John Boehner is sworn in as Speaker, then he’s going to have responsibilities to govern. You can’t just stand on the sidelines and be a bomb thrower.

And so my expectation is, is that we will have tough negotiations around the budget, but that ultimately we can arrive at a position that is keeping the government open, keeping Social Security check going out, keeping veterans services being provided, but at the same time is e-prudent when it comes to taxpayer dollars.
Like I said, P-A-W-N-E-D

There is nothing more fatal to a presidency than the appearance of weakness.

The Democratic and Republican Base

and why Dems are constantly 'triangulating'.

Matt Yglesias puts up some solid polling data on how Americans self-identify as conservative, liberal, etc. Based upon this data, Matt concludes,
People who think of themselves as “conservative” are in a very real sense the “base” of the Republican Party. A politician who positions himself as to the right of Susan Collins but the left of Jim Jordan is doing what most self-identified Republicans want. But “very liberal” Democrats are a marginal block of people, and the median self-identified Democrat also self-identifies as a moderate. Liberals just aren’t the “base” of the Democratic Party in the same way that conservatives are the base of the GOP. Balanced news coverage is all well and good, but commitment to balance sometimes distracts people from the fact that the parties are very asymmetrical in their structure and composition.
I think this explains why Democrats are able to triangulate, but not why the do so.

The explanation of why Democrats are willing to triangulate is simple pragmatism. Democratic leaders actually care about good public policy and want to use government policy to effect changes that they believe are in the best interest of the groups they serve.

Republicans on the other hand really don't care at all about public policy and think 'good government policy' or 'good government' are oxymorons. To over-simplify only a little, with the exception of defense spending and tax reductions, Republicans don't care if any bill ever passes out of Congress and generally believe the fewer, the better. Maybe put another way, with the exception of transferring money from government to corporate America -- and in particular the military industrial complex-- or tax reductions, Republicans don't care about policy. And when they do get behind policy we end up with Medicare Part D which is nothing more than a transfer of money from the treasury to Big Pharma.

Given this environment, if Dems don't triangulate nothing positive will ever get done.

Our problem is not the 87 Freshmen in Congress

I, and pretty much everyone who reads this, want to be rid of the 87 GOP freshman representatives because they are standing in the way of responding sensibly and effectively to the economic crisis of our lifetimes.

We dismiss them as know-nothing Tea Partiers but we are stuck with them until at least 2012 and it's likely that for most of them, many more years.

What I came away with after Boehner's follies last week was that these folks are very serious and need to be taken seriously.

First, the Freshmen sincerely believe that they have a mandate to rein in Federal spending that is seriously out of control. Most Americans, my self included, certainly think Federal spending has gotten seriously out of control.

Second, they believe the best way to rein in out of control spending is for a Constitutional amendment to forbid future deficit spending. Those of us who have had the benefit of a decent college level class or two in macroeconomics can see the problem with such an amendment, but we deny at our own peril the appeal this has to ordinary Americans fond of saying things like, "I can't spend more than I make, so why should the government?"

And most importantly, these Freshmen are sincere. They really want to bring down Federal spending in a large way. Of course the are misguided on where the spending actually is, much less where it should be cut, and they are equally misguided on revenues. Nevertheless, they deserve our respect for the sincerity of their beliefs.

But our real problem is not these 87 new congressmen. Jared Bernstein today identified our real problem,
If your conclusion is that Democrats got rolled because the President is a lousy negotiator, I disagree. Not on his negotiating skills…as someone said in comments, I wouldn’t want him in the auto showroom with me when I’m bargaining for a better price. I disagree that better negotiating skills would have made a big difference. The problem goes much deeper.

....If too many Americans don’t believe in or understand what government does to help them, to offset recessions, to protect their security in retirement and in hard times, to maintain the infrastructure, to provide educational opportunities and health care decent enough to offset the disadvantages so many are born with…if those functions are unknown, underfunded, and/or carried out poorly, why should they care about how much this deal or the next one cuts?

Those of us who do care about the above will not defeat those who strive to get rid of it all by becoming better tacticians. We will only find success when a majority of Americans agrees with us that government is something worth fighting for.
The Freshman do not understand the important roll government plays in the modern economy of a first world country and neither do many Americans. This is where our elected officials, chief among them being President Obama come in. They must educate the public on the important roll many of our spending programs play in the lives we all enjoy. And this has been my biggest disappointment with Obama to date. His failure to use the bully pulpit to educate, weather it's health care reform (how many times did we hear him say 'we can't afford to do nothing'? Zero by my count).

One example is Medicare. Medicare will not go away because it is the only way elderly Americans can obtain health care. There will never be a private market to insure the elderly because it would be a lousy way to make money. So we all must work together to bend the cost curve down on Medicare before it consumes us.

A second example is the military. Empire is bankrupting our country.

So when do we have this adult conversation?