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Choose your own House race!

Cave of time.jpg

As a kid -- ok, even now -- we were obsessed with the "choose your own adventure" books. Should I pick up the keys? Take the rocky path or the one by the ocean? Head for home? Oh, the choices!

So, as we got to thinking about the best way to cover the dozens (and dozens) of competitive House races in the country this fall -- aside from the Friday Line, of course -- the idea of borrowing the choose your own adventure model seemed to make sense.

Our plan: Once every few weeks, we'll nominate five House races. You vote on the race to which we should dedicate an entire Fix post. Make sense? Ok! (Sidenote: If a race is nominated but not picked, it is still eligible for future votes.)

This week we are focused on the mountain west -- an area where Democrats made significant gains in 2006 and 2008 but where the flight of independents from the party threatens to turn those seats back to Republicans this fall.

Let's take a quick look at our nominees (in alphabetical order). You can vote after the jump!

Arizona's 8th: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D) won this competitive southeastern Arizona easily in an open seat race in 2006 when Republicans nominated a too-conservative state representative to oppose her. Republicans didn't even field a candidate against her in 2008 The Republican nominee took just 43 percent despite the fact that Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) carried the seat by six points. Republicans believe former state Sen. Jonathan Paton is the candidate they have been waiting four years for.

Colorado's 4th: Rep. Betsy Markey (D) crushed then Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R) by 12 points, a win more about Musgrave's wrong-headed focus on national rather than local politics than about the underlying demographics in this Fort Collins-area seat. Republicans like state Rep. Cory Gardner's profile but he must survive a crowded primary first.

Idaho's 1st: Rep. Walt Minnick (D) stunned the political world when he ousted incumbent Bill Sali (R) in this conservative-minded district in 2008. Republicans believe the win was a fluke due in large part to Sali's incompetence and like their chances of making Minnick a one-termer with either state Rep. Raul Labrador (!) or Iraq war veteran Vaughn Ward.

Nevada's 3rd: After losing a bid for governor in 2006, Rep. Dina Titus (D) bounced back to win this suburban Clark County (Las Vegas) two years later thanks to a major assist from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.). With Reid occupied on his own re-election race this cycle and Republicans touting the candidacy of former state Sen. Joe Heck, Titus' path to re-election is complicated.

New Mexico's 2nd: Former Rep. Steve Pearce (R) is one of a handful of former Republican Members of Congress trying to reclaim his old seat this fall. And, he may have the best chance of the lot. Pearce held the 2nd district from 2002 to 2008 when he embarked on an ill-fated Senate bid; Teague, using his significant personal wealth, stepped in to the void to win even as McCain was carrying the district.

By Chris Cillizza  |  February 24, 2010; 11:26 AM ET
Categories:  House  
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Next: Senior Palin aide Meghan Stapleton resigns, re-shapes inner circle


I'd vote for Minnick. Anyone who can knock off a Republican in Idaho must be interesting.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | February 24, 2010 8:34 PM | Report abuse

Breaking: John McCain learns to use a mouse. Beginning plans to discover the keyboard. Voters outraged at this latest betrayal.

Posted by: Noacoler | February 24, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

hmm. second thoughts...

During his gubernatorial campaign, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA) repeatedly criticized the Recovery Act, saying that although it was “massive,” he didn’t think it would “have a stimulus effect.” .”

However, now that he’s in office and facing real budget challenges, he’s singing a different tune. On Monday, McDonnell proudly “announced that Virginia will receive a total of $24 million in federal funding to advance health information technology” — money made possible by the stimulus, which McDonnell conveniently failed to mention. McDonnell’s spokesman insisted that the previous governor, Democrat Tim Kaine, applied for the funds, but that didn’t stop McDonnell from touting them.

Yesterday, McDonnell went even further and asked for more stimulus dollars:

– McDonnell said he would “support Congress extending the federal stimulus bill to help states cover rising health care costs, a potential infusion of funds that Virginia lawmakers hope will help close a more than $4 billion budget shortfall.” He added that because Medicaid costs have “just grown so fast, until we have some federal health care reform that really addresses cost, if the federal government is willing to help us for a short period of time, that would be fine.”

Apparently, McDonnell has concluded that the stimulus is now able “to help the economy.”

Posted by: drindl | February 24, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

What kind of backwards losers get their news from television? Only conservatives who can't figure out how to use a computer. No wonder Fox is doing so well, telling old bigots that they still matter.

Posted by: Noacoler | February 24, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Springfield - To become solvent, the state must enact the largest tax-increase package in Illinois history, whack another $2 billion from already starved government programs and wrest major financial concessions from the state's unionized work force, a nonpartisan government watchdog contends. In a new analysis of Illinois' ''horrific'' finances, the Civic Federation lays out the painful choices awaiting Gov. Quinn and the Legislature as they stare down an epic $12.8 billion budget deficit that has choked the flow of state cash to public universities and schools, transit systems and social-service agencies to the point of economic collapse.

What he left behind, he will deliver for us all.

Posted by: drivl | February 24, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

The twin swindles of passing off global warming as a crisis and Barack Obama as a president may prove lethal to the decrepit dinosaur euphemistically known as the "mainstream" media. Eventually, the public was bound to get tired of being lied to by condescending left-wing apparatchiks. The latest lurch toward oblivion:

ABC News staffers got a memorandum Tuesday that promises to leave no part of the organization untouched, and will lead to massive personnel reductions by the end of 2010.
Although the memo from ABC News President David Westin specified no numbers, it was believed the goal for cutbacks is as high as one-quarter of the ABC News staff, which currently totals about 1,400.
"We will likely have substantially fewer people on staff at ABC News," Westin said in his memo.
He said personnel reductions would begin with voluntary buyouts to be offered employees in the days ahead. If the target number isn't reached, layoffs will likely follow.
"We anticipate that between now and the end of the year, ABC News will undergo a fundamental transformation that will ultimately affect every corner of the enterprise," Westin said.
Anything But Credible News will have company as it wades into the tar pits:

The drastic moves and cutbacks, which were not unexpected, echo those two years ago at NBC News, which also saved money by closing facilities in New Jersey and bringing CNBC and MSNBC staff to work at the company's Rockefeller Center headquarters.
CBS News is currently going through a round of layoffs.
But on the brighter side for the MSM, an estimated 11 moonbats tuned in to watch Keith Olbermann denounce America last night.

Posted by: drivl | February 24, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

I used to live in the Colorado 4th and have worked the last two campaigns. I think that Betsy has positioned herself pretty well. She voted against healthcare. I am not sure her vote for cap & trade will be all that bad because they have a windmill factory in the district. The population growth of the urban college towns has helped the demographics move Democratic.

Posted by: bradcpa | February 24, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Well if I'm so stupid why am I picking up my own tab while you're a ward of the state? Guess i'd need to be an economist to figure out deep mysteries like that.

Posted by: Noacoler | February 24, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

A Rhode Island school district has voted to fire all the teachers at an underperforming school. The Central Falls School Committee voted Tuesday evening to fire every educator at Central Falls High School at the end of the school year. It's the only school in the tiny, impoverished city north of Providence. Only about half its students graduate, and only 7 percent of 11th-graders were proficient in math in 2009.

Brilliant. If only we could use this method over at the white house.

Posted by: drivl | February 24, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

"while the Socialist ones are mostly doing just fine? "

you have got to be the stupidest person in the world. Call Olby.

Greece, spain, Italy and others are about to drag the world economy further into the free lunch toilet.

Facts never disturb the pre-disturbed.

Posted by: drivl | February 24, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

It was the securitization of mortgages, the bundling of them into unknown/risky investments made by institutional investors, that drove the crash, not individual mortgage holders.

The subprime market for first homes was a tiny piece of it -- it was the entire real estate market, including huge new homes used as investments that fed the bubble.

And it was deregulation that allowed this to happen.

Posted by: drindl | February 24, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Yeah those lousy greedy homeowners who had the unmitigated temerity to believe what their Wall Street mortgage lenders were telling them.

Nobody without a Ph.D. In phrenology er I mean economicalism has any business buying a house.


Posted by: Noacoler | February 24, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

It happens because capitalism is now in "the hands of people whose only concern is their fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders or to their own pockets." Yes, greed was legalized in America, with Wall Street running everything."

Posted by: drindl

What about the greedy pursuit of mortages that one could not afford but that the non-greedy government said to give out or we will prosecute you for redlining? What about the greedy pursuit of votes by lib politicans offering a free lunch and the greedy lib voters crying more...more...more? Greed goes well beyond Wall St.

Posted by: leapin | February 24, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

If free markets are so like fantastic an' stuff why is it that the free market economies are all in the zhitter while the Socialist ones are mostly doing just fine? Why isn't Canada in the dumps too?

Oh, of course. We need to deregulate even more. The marketplace magic genie is grumpy because there are sti distortions. Gotcha.


Posted by: Noacoler | February 24, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Noa, here is an example of what you cited...going on in the Idaho situation I cited...

“We should not be engaging in a race to the bottom when it comes to our budget projections,” said Allred. “My hope is that the Legislature’s budget writers don’t follow Gov. Otter’s reckless lead. We don't need to be mortgaging our kids’ future by cutting education."

Apparently Republicans don't even get the need fer'n edgumicashun. Back to Appalachia! should be the rallying cry of the if-you elect-me-to-your-government-I-promise-to-destroy-your-government Republicans.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 24, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Leapin, it may be fair to roughly analogize TARP and ARRA to a finger in the dike. The destruction was averted, but there will not be healing until the tide rolls out. The government cannot actually become the private economy
any more than the Dutch boy could control the tide. But it can put its finger in the dike when the whole edifice looks about to crumble.

Here is the most pessimistic and gloomy read of the week:

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 24, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

After the September 2008 American financial panic, European diplomats and intellectuals lectured Americans on the evils of unfettered capitalism and the superiority of their statist model. The strong euro and steady expansion of the E.U. had convinced many that their soft socialism was the only way of the future.

But European prosperity was, in fact, heavily subsidized by decades of free protection by the U.S. military. Meanwhile, aristocratic bureaucrats in Brussels were increasingly not accountable to their skeptical continental constituents — and seemed terrified of popular referenda from member states on the E.U. constitution.

And now? Several E.U. nations like Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal face financial implosions — brought on by unsustainable government spending, out-of-control pensions and endemic tax cheating. The euro is falling fast. Bondholders of European debt are jittery. Now, northwestern countries like Germany and France — despite their own budget problems — may have to bailout Greece.

Yet, in 2009, the American binge of massive spending and borrowing, expansion of government, and new proposed taxes followed the model of the supposedly superior European system. But for all the massive new debt, unemployment here remains high and the economy still sluggish.

Posted by: leapin | February 24, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse
O.K., the beast is starving. Now what? That’s the question confronting Republicans. But they’re refusing to answer, or even to engage in any serious discussion about what to do.

For readers who don’t know what I’m talking about: ever since Reagan, the G.O.P. has been run by people who want a much smaller government. In the famous words of the activist Grover Norquist, conservatives want to get the government “down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”

But there has always been a political problem with this agenda. Voters may say that they oppose big government, but the programs that actually dominate federal spending — Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — are very popular. So how can the public be persuaded to accept large spending cuts?

The conservative answer, which evolved in the late 1970s, would be dubbed “starving the beast” during the Reagan years. The idea — propounded by many members of the conservative intelligentsia, from Alan Greenspan to Irving Kristol — was basically that sympathetic politicians should engage in a game of bait and switch. Rather than proposing unpopular spending cuts, Republicans would push through popular tax cuts, with the deliberate intention of worsening the government’s fiscal position. Spending cuts could then be sold as a necessity rather than a choice, the only way to eliminate an unsustainable budget deficit.

At this point, then, Republicans insist that the deficit must be eliminated, but they’re not willing either to raise taxes or to support cuts in any major government programs. And they’re not willing to participate in serious bipartisan discussions, either, because that might force them to explain their plan — and there isn’t any plan, except to regain power.

But there is a kind of logic to the current Republican position: in effect, the party is doubling down on starve-the-beast. Depriving the government of revenue, it turns out, wasn’t enough to push politicians into dismantling the welfare state. So now the de facto strategy is to oppose any responsible action until we are in the midst of a fiscal catastrophe. You read it here first.

Posted by: Noacoler | February 24, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

marketwatch on the coming collapse of capitalim:

"Capitalism is the legalization of this greed. Greed has been with human beings forever. We have a number of things in our species that you would call the dark side, and greed is one of them. If you don't put certain structures in place or restrictions on those parts of our being that come from that dark place, then it gets out of control."

Greed's OK, within limits. Yes, the soul can thrive around greed, if there are structures and restrictions to keep it from going out of control. But capitalism does the opposite of that. It not only doesn't really put any structure or restrictions on it. It encourages it, it rewards" greed, creating bigger, more frequent bubble/bust cycles.

It happens because capitalism is now in "the hands of people whose only concern is their fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders or to their own pockets." Yes, greed was legalized in America, with Wall Street running everything."

Posted by: drindl | February 24, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

shrink, I'm curious what you mean too.. you know where to find me if you want.

Posted by: drindl | February 24, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Shrink, I got your email. I'll look at it when I get a chance. I have to give a talk in an hour and a half, so I should start making my powerpoint now.

Posted by: DDAWD | February 24, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

A long time ago (last year), after the Eastern Oregon icon, Republican Senator Gordon Smith was ousted, I wondered here if perhaps Idaho could turn at least purple. People pointed to the home of the Aryan Nation etc. and said h-no.

But I still wonder if the (conservative Mormon) Democrat, Keith Allred might not beat the ultra wing-nut incumbent (Otter) and take Minnick along for the ride.

CC, do you plan any work on the Mountain West Governor's races?

Posted by: shrink2 | February 24, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Shrink, I applaud you for coming to this blog to find patients and admire your abilites to find the people that need your help most and engaging them.

but have you considered that most liberals derive their means from government handouts and that you probably won't get paid. Of course, as a liberal yourself, that is probably OK. nice to see you found one of the stooges willing to consider professional help.

anything you could do about Ped and dribbl? I fear BJ is past assistance at this point.

Posted by: drivl | February 24, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse, it doesn't need to be gmail, right?

Posted by: DDAWD | February 24, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

DDAWD, in re your ? just before 37th went off (siempre para me, el punto de partida), I'll tell you what I think about DSM V if you like, post a gmail address or something and we can talk the politics of psychiatry without interrupting those who enjoy insulting each other.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 24, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: drindl

dribbl displays her command of the English language and a depth of understanding and analysis coincident with her acumen and intelligence.

without the frantic cut and pastes from her favorite hate sites, she is an empty headed loon.

but that is clear for all to see.

Posted by: drivl | February 24, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

it's the hypocrisy...

On Monday, the Senate voted for cloture on the Democratic jobs bill, 62-30. Today, they passed the bill itself in a vote of 70-28.

That means eight senators who voted against cloture (or were absent, which in a cloture vote is the same as a no vote) vote for the bill itself. All of them are Republicans.

The switchers who voted no on cloture but yes today:

Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Thad Cochran (R-MS)
James Inhofe (R-OK)
George LeMieux (R-FL)
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Roger Wicker (R-MS)

And those who were absent Monday but voted yes today:

Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Richard Burr (R-NC)

Posted by: drindl | February 24, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

WellPoint’s hikes created a political opportunity for reform, but California policy holders aren’t the only ones experiencing drastic rate increases. A new survey from the Center for American Progress Action Fund has found that “double-digit hikes have been implemented or are pending in at least 11 other states among the 14 where WellPoint’s Blue Cross Blue Shield companies are active: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Maine, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Virginia, and Wisconsin.” Below is a sample:

– California: Average rates are expected to increase 25 percent in 2010, with increases as high as 39 percent for some policyholders.

– Colorado: Average rates are expected to increase 19.9 percent in 2010, with increases of up to 24.5 percent for some policyholders.

– Indiana: Rates are expected to increase 21 percent in 2010.

– Maine: Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield requested a 23 percent increase for 2010 after five straight years of double-digit increases for individual policyholders. Anthem is suing the Maine Insurance Commissioner for rejecting its request last year for an 18.5 percent rate hike and allowing a 10.9 percent increase.

Posted by: drindl | February 24, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

hehe, everyone knows "Starve the beast" was bullsh*t. And this isn't in hindsight either. It was Reagan himself who said that deficits don't matter politically.

Posted by: DDAWD | February 24, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

In Kentucky, GOP establishment candidate and secretary of state Trey Grayson is running against insurgent challenger Rand Paul, the son of Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), in a contentious GOP Senate primary. With the margin between the two closing, and some polls even showing Paul leading Grayson, the secretary of state issued a desperate attack ad this week, taking aim at Paul for a speech he made in 2008. Grayson’s complaint? Paul acknowledged to the assembled crowd that coal “is a very dirty form of energy,” and thus, “one of the least favorable types of energy.” Watch it:

Of course, Paul is right. According to the American Lung Association, nearly 24,000 Americans die every year from illnesses directly related to pollution from coal-fired plants, and coal is the largest source of human-generated mercury pollution. By challenging the myth of “clean coal,” Paul joins Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who last year admitted that coal “is a dirty business.”

Update" The Paul campaign responded by released a video of Grayson referring to "coal power plants...being phased out."

Posted by: drindl | February 24, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Sorry drivl/moonbat/zouk, if you don't like my posts you have the option of going somewhere else -- or getting a job!

7. Uniting the Paulites and the Tea Parties is a view about the the role of government, expressed in the familiar cliches: low taxes, creeping socialism, lay off. And, I would argue, a geo-racial-ethnic anxiety about the emerging majority-minority nation and its attendent economic effects. When the immigration debate flares up, watch out.

8. Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty have no chance whatsover to share the sensibility of the Tea Partiers and the Paulites, certainly not in their current incarnations. They don't speak the language; and because the movement is not about particular issues, their resumes don't particularly matter. Romney and Pawlenty have a much better chance with that portion of the GOP base which does not identify with the Tea Party movement -- which is, by definition, more establishmentarian and hierarchical. The Tea Partiers, at least, have a vehicle for advancing a candidate; Libertarians (the Paulites) really don't, because they are...libertarians and don't like to be all collective-y.

9. Romney could not be positioned more poorly to harness the Tea Partiers, the Paulites, and the social conservatives right now: protestant evangelicals still think he's a Mormon of the suspect kind (unlike, say, John Huntsman Jr., who comes off as a real guy); he is a national security hawk at a time when there is a growing "get us out of there" movement within the base of the GOP; he is unlikely to embrace libertarianism (gambling, marijuana, civil unions) that would transform his political image and attract some of the Paulites; his immigration positioning is solid enough, but his association with the GOP establishment -- he's seen as the establishment candidate -- will make anything he says suspect. A deft candidate, which Romney can be, can find a way to articulate a muscular vision for national security (pro "enhanced interrogation," anti-Gitmo closing) but simultaneously argue that American strength ought not be projected, lest it be diluted.

10. Tim Pawlenty is a credentialed candidate during a period where credentials matter not. It remains to be seen whether the Republican establishment has enough control over its primaries as Democrats had over theirs in 2004.

Now that we've cleaned the slate....where do we begin?

Posted by: drindl | February 24, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

If there was a single characteristic that defined the Obama campaign followers in 2008, it was an adolescent fawning the likes this country has never seen. There were the creepy fainting women in teenybopper crush mode wherever Obama went. There were the so-called intelligentsia speaking of a man who, to them, seemed more like a god, a savior, an uber-competent of downright immortal stature, purely obsequious observations based on Obama’s postage-stamp-sized resume, his fondness for arugula and GQ looks.

And, who can forget the woman at an Obama rally who prattled on about how when he was elected she wouldn’t have to worry about putting gas in her car or paying her mortgage. It’s not hard to see that a great many individuals actually believed all that nonsense the media peddled about Obama as a larger-than-life, different kind of politician, who could make the seas recede and sick people well again. It was the kind of story only idealistic adolescents and mentally deranged people could believe. (cue the deranged dribbl and Ped)

The law is still the law; nothing there changed. The repo man can still take your house and your car and your furniture if you don’t pay as you said you would. Did the seas recede? Well, the deceived people are finding out that “climate change” was a lie, too — contrived by greedy politicians, fraudulent scientists and, once again, media elites. Did everyone get their jobs back? Not even close. More lost their jobs. Did the world start loving America? Not even close there, either. The world is more volatile and enemies are more empowered. The threats just keep coming no matter how many bows and suck-up speeches Barack Obama gives.

Posted by: drivl | February 24, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Mark Aabinder on the fracturing of the American right:

"How difficult is it to construct a typology of the conservative movement today?

How does Ron Paul relate to Sarah Palin? Palin to the Tea Partiers? The Tea Partiers to Paul? The Tea Parties to themselves? Do the Tea Partiers overlap with the Republican base? Are they entirely contained within it? What mental schemas link Tea Partiers with each other and divide them from the Republican Party establishment? How do they prioritize national security? Will they be able to organize so as to magnify their apparent power?

First, a few things to clear up.

1. The Tea Partiers are a movement within the Republican Party; it is increasing the energy density inside the GOP; very few Tea Partiers are true independents. It remains to be determined how many of them are not registered to vote, or how many of them are unreliable Republican voters.

2. There are different Tea Party movements; some parts seem more influenced by different issue sets than others; it is mostly a shared sensibility; a few common strands run between them: outrage and anger at Washington, and a diffuse but palpable sense that the Elites and the Obama administration are changing the way American works -- and looks and acts -- for the worse.

3. The Republican primary base is different than the Ron Paul revolutionaries, many of whom are not registered Republican. They'll be more influential in open primaries than closed primaries.

4. Ron Paul is really the only libertarian with street cred. (Gary Johnson, the former New Mexico governor? He gets the issues but doesn't speak the language well.)

5. The Tea Partiers and Ron Paul's libertarians overlap to some degree, but they differ strongly on national security, and the Tea Partiers are, generally, more ready to identify as Republicans than Paulites are. They're also older.

6. Sarah Palin seems like a natural candidate for the Tea Party crowd; from a very un-elite state, anti-technocrat; anti-shades of gray; she's taken on the elites and lost, and has a cross to bear; their embrace of her, for the most part, reveals how orthodox the TP movement actually is. Problem for Palin: if she's seen as part of the establishment, she won't play as well with the Tea Partiers. She really will have to run as an outsider and forcibly reject, for example, the Weekly Standard types who are rooting for her.'

Posted by: drindl | February 24, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

thanks, corinthian, i am encouraged, and it is you who is an idiot. i like to return the favor.

Bruce Bartlett, formerly of the Reagan Administration:

The idea of using budget deficits as cover to cut spending that couldn’t otherwise be cut—a concept known as starving the beast—seems to be resurfacing (see here and here). This is a view I once held back in the 1970s. Just cut taxes, I thought, and pressure to balance the budget will manifest itself in the form of spending cuts that will reduce the size of government and increase growth, which would further reduce the size of government as a share of GDP.

The problem is that this idea presupposed that there was significant support in Congress to reduce the deficit. Unfortunately, there has been no serious concern about the deficit in either party since the end of the Clinton administration. While both parties share some blame in this regard, there’s no question that more of it belongs to Republicans. They cut taxes willy nilly during the George W. Bush years, massively expanded entitlement spending by enacting the Medicare drug benefit without paying for a penny of it, started two wars without paying for them either, and approved all pork barrel projects proposed by any Republican no matter how worthless.

In the process, Republicans also destroyed whatever political support there was for a balanced budget—along with their own credibility on the deficit. Consequently, the whole premise of starve-the-beast theory has gone straight down the toilet. Yet, to my amazement, Republicans and Republican lackeys continue to talk about cutting taxes with no corresponding spending cuts as if it is the height of fiscal responsibility. (See this silly Larry Kudlow column and Diane Rogers’ evisceration of it here.) When pressed, they fall back on starving the beast even though there is not one iota of evidence giving it operational meaning since at least 1996, when Ross Perot last ran for president. It has become, in fact, nothing but a license for Republican fiscal irresponsibility.

Posted by: drindl | February 24, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

It's funny how the media almost always use the word "unexpectedly" whenever they report this country's state of affairs under the Obama administration. The now-familiar caption tends to run like this: Applications for job insurance claims rose "unexpectedly" on the month of such-and-such. Or: Stocks dropped "unexpectedly" amidst news of unemployment increase. As if people still think that the rise in unemployment, the lack of consumer confidence, the erratic market plunges, and virtually every other problem we are facing as a country have nothing to do with the novel socioeconomic policies that President Obama has adopted, and even if they do, then the people are stunned at the unanticipated consequences the latter have yielded.

The truth is that there's nothing unexpected about the continued deterioration of the U.S. economy, the decline of our global standing as a country, and the impending defeat and demoralization of our armed forces fighting overseas, to name a few, as long as Obama and a democratic majority in Congress remain in power.

Thus one should expect the recession to get worse, the war in Afghanistan to remain a drawn-out conflict that will eventually end in utter failure, and Congress to lead us further into debt and continue to push for more pork-laden stimulus packages to (as a high-ranking member of the Obama administration recently put it) spend our way out of this recession. And above all, we can also expect Obama to continue to blame the previous administration for his unceasing blunders.

For now the media should stop acting like they're married to John Edwards and quit playing games about how surprised they all are at what Obama is doing, and what is happening to the country as a consequence.

Posted by: drivl | February 24, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

drvl is the American Unthinker.


Posted by: drindl | February 24, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Bernanke has two options, neither of them good. He can do what he promised and stop QE. Or he can renege on his promise. Either alternative has radically negative consequences for the country,

Without QE, the government will be unable to honor its obligations. Non-payment of Social Security or Medicare or federal payroll or welfare checks or retirement checks, or military payroll, etc., etc., would show up almost immediately. That would jeopardize foreign (and domestic) purchases of additional federal debt, exacerbating the problem.

Bernanke's second option enables the government to continue operating irresponsibly until market forces eventually stop the profligate behavior. Market discipline would likely be imposed in the form of a collapse of the dollar or raging inflation (or both).

Under either scenario, the Obama presidency is destroyed. Obama probably prefers the second option, because it might extend the period before sovereign bankruptcy. However, it might not extend it very much. Foreign bankers have chastised our behavior regularly. If the Fed is perceived as "The Great Enabler" rather than as protector of the currency, a run on the dollar and the dumping of Treasuries could result.

From Bernanke's standpoint, it is not clear which option he might prefer, or if he even has a choice, given Congress' involvement. If he behaves like a central banker and pulls the biggest punch bowl in history away, it would force the government to address its problems before they became more serious.

History will not look kindly on this period regardless of Bernanke's decision. Bernanke never had a chance for a favorable legacy. If he plays his role as a central banker, history may be less unkind, stating, "He did what he had to do." If he chooses to continue QE, it likely will judge him as "The Great Enabler," rating him even less favorably than they did his predecessor.

Obama loses either way. He inherited a difficult situation, but then, via foolish policies, he turned it into a terminal one. At this point, Jimmy Carter may be the happiest person in the country. His lead position in the Pantheon of Shame is in jeopardy thanks to Obama.

For the country, times equivalent to the Great Depression are likely ahead. My guess is that Bernanke chooses (or is forced into) continuing QE. Courage is a rare and dangerous commodity in Washington. Hard decisions occur only in crisis.

When the country is perceived and treated by the world community as the wastrel it has become, then remedial action will take place. Hopefully, something is still salvageable.

Posted by: drivl | February 24, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

the wages of liberalism:

U.S. home sales fall to lowest annual rate on record

yesterday we discovered that consumer confidecne was at 27 year lows. Unemployment at record miasma.

Just how much failure can a nation tolerate?

Posted by: drivl | February 24, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Here is the Obama saga on Iraq: 2003: a mistaken war; 2004: “not much of a difference between my position on Iraq and George Bush’s position at this stage”; 2005–07: voted each year to fund the war; 2007: all troops out by March 2008; 2008: the surge is not working; 2009: the status-of-forces agreement signed by Bush is adhered to; 2010: Iraq (according to Vice President Biden) might be the administration’s greatest achievement — though it was, of course, not worth the cost. Factor in Bush’s popularity rating at any one time, the relative ongoing level of violence in Iraq, and the proximity of Obama to an election, and one might predict his often-changing position on the war.

So what exactly is Iraq now? Is it a brilliant effort by the U.S. military that removed Saddam, defeated an insurrection, helped to wipe out thousands of al-Qaeda terrorists, and birthed a viable consensual government? Or is it still “Bush’s war,” which somehow morphed into Obama’s “greatest achievement” by some mysterious and yet unspoken process?

Bottom line: This administration, partly because of past declarations, partly because of its own innate confusion, cannot quite celebrate the success in Iraq and so settles on the confused notion that we nobly removed Saddam and fostered consensual government although we should never have tried to do either.

Similar surreal examples could be found in matters of health care, global warming, partisan politics, and immigration. It seems reductionist to suggest that Obama came into office with little clue how to govern or to galvanize the country, but with one real assumption: He would simply advertise himself as not George Bush, and almost anything he subsequently did would be declared inspired by the enthralled media.

Keep that notion in mind, and the confusion over the last year makes a sort of sense.

Victor Davis Hanson

Posted by: drivl | February 24, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Remember that bill that some were pillorying Scott Brown for voting for cloture?

Well, that was just a procedural vote. What happened with the up and down vote?

It got 70 votes. Meaning that some Republicans must have voted to filibuster, but voted yes on the actual bill.

Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Thad Cochran (R-MO), James Inhofe (R-OK), George LeMieux (R-FL), Lisa Murkowski (R-AL) and Roger Wicker (R-MS).

Any doubt remaining that the filibuster is all about preventing Democratic accomplishment and not about principled opposition?

That's exactly what's going on with the health care bill. If Republicans truly thought it was political kryptonite, they would let it go to an up-or-down vote and let the Dems hand themselves. But they know that passage of the bill will be a major boon for the Dems, so they will fight tooth and nail to prevent passage.

Posted by: DDAWD | February 24, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

I keep losing the subject of the thread because:

the stooges, dribbl and Ped, just post the same mindless tripe on every single post on every single thread on every day, every hour, every minute.

how about you two get your own little idiot blog together and anyone who wants their mind emptied can visit. I mean besides Kos and huff.

Posted by: drivl | February 24, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

At the risk of encouraging drindl by addressing him: You idiot. There are more democrats in congress than republicans, and more democrats in competitive races than republicans. The only bias here is the math.

Back on topic: My vote's for Markey. She's been a pretty stand-up representitive. I mean, just today she's introduced a bill to repeal the anti-trust exemption for insurance companies. I'm interested to see the electoral effects of not hunkering down and creeping towards the middle.

Posted by: thecorinthian | February 24, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Today Benanke says the Fed will keep printed money flowing for a long time.
No evidence of inflation and a stable, even stronger dollar allows this to happen. Republicans will need to moderate their message to stay relevant. All this BS about tyranny only burns hot when the economy is on the skids, especially in the afterglow of the Bush/Cheney imperial reign.

No, the Republican Rising! has not peaked.
But it will fizzle (into factional fighting) when the economy rebounds, as measured by consumer confidence and rising home values. Republicans are making a mistake, betting against the country's economy. They may be trading on anger to win midterm seats for a disaster in 2016.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 24, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Even conservatives like Kathleen Parker know most TPers are loons...

'Not that the tea partiers are weird, not all of them, anyway. But some are at risk of flying off into the blood-red zone of wing-nuttery. One of the sessions at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) questioned whether Abraham Lincoln was "friend or foe."

Posted by: drindl | February 24, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

What a surprise that the Fix favors the Rs over the Ds in every race. Like in pretty much every story.

Posted by: drindl | February 24, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Not sure I'd call CO-4 "Colorado Springs area." It's pretty big --- containing such northern and northeastern Colorado cities/towns as Ft. Collins, Ft. Morgan, Loveland, Greeley and Longmont. The only city of any size in the district that's close to the Springs is Lamar (population < 10k) and that's some 160 miles away.

There's no doubt CO-4 is conservative... but it's got nothing to do with proximity to Colorado Springs. CO-5, btw, is the Springs' district... and it's never gone blue

Posted by: RobInDenver | February 24, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

One data point is not a trend, you know.

As we get closer to November the Republicans are going to have to come up with something more substantive than "Obama is a Socialist.". Some realistic ideas. If you think they can do that, if you think they have anything to offer but snark and market faith, you're kidding yourself.

Posted by: Noacoler | February 24, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

New Quinnipiac poll: Republican Portman leads in Ohio and Tea Party scores higher than democrats.

Republican resurgence has peaked???

Posted by: doof | February 24, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

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