Matheson

The Saga of Jim Matheson

Written by Randal Serr on . Posted in Politics

Anybody who attended the Utah Democratic Party’s caucuses this week is well aware of the anger that currently exists towards Jim Matheson, Democratic representative for Utah’s 2nd congressional district. He is the only Democrat representing Utah in Washington D.C., which is precisely why he has evoked this anger.

The primary reason for the fury is that many Democrats feel betrayed by Matheson, arguing that he ignores his base and votes like a Republican on many key issues. Most recently, he voted no on President Obama’s monumental health care reform bill. It was a close vote and represented, for many, a core principle the Democratic Party has been working to accomplish for decades. Needless to say, it was a controversial vote being that the bill passed by a slim margin of 219 to 212.

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Why Democrats Should Use Reconciliation

Written by Randal Serr on . Posted in Politics

At the health care summit last week, nearly every Republican senator and congressman made clear their disapproval of using a process known as reconciliation to pass health care reform. Reconciliation is a process that is used for budgetary reasons in order to circumvent a filibuster and achieve a straight up-or-down vote. It helps needed budgetary bills move through Congress in a timelier manner. It has become somewhat of a hot-button issue due to the possible repercussions. Democrats fear using reconciliation would divide the House and the Senate or, in other words, Republicans would continue to vote no on every last thing Obama proposes. So really, there would be no repercussions.

The health care bill does, in fact, account for a large portion of the economy and would have a significant impact on the budget. Republicans actually back me up on this. By the Republicans persistent efforts, they have declared over and over again that health care accounts for a large part of the economy. At the health care summit last week, Lamar Alexander defiantly said that health care makes up roughly 17 percent of the economy and that we should not change it all at once. With that line of thought, reconciliation actually should be used in this case, right?

POLITICS: Incredulous Republican Fear of Debate

Written by Randal Serr on . Posted in Politics

There have been plenty of complaints about the health care debate not being transparent enough, and that President Obama and the Democrats have not included the Republicans enough in piecing together legislation for a health care bill.

There have been accusations that the president has not kept his word. For example, Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz tried calling the president out in a question at the Republican retreat a couple weeks ago.

“When you stood up before the American people multiple times and said you would broadcast the health care debates on C-SPAN, you didn’t,” Chaffetz said. “And I was disappointed, and I think a lot of Americans were disappointed.”

Fair enough. Although the majority of the congressional hearings and committee meetings dealing with health care were, in fact, televised on C-SPAN. I guess the question for critics of this sort is how do you logistically make sure that every meeting is televised? Should every single hearing be televised? What about unofficial talks before actual meetings? Conversations? Opinions? I am as big a supporter of transparency as anyone, but it undeniably gets a little messy.

But now, perhaps in response to the criticism, the White House has invited congressional leaders of both parties to a summit to discuss health care with the hope of moving forward and making health care reform a reality. And yes, it will be televised in its entirety.

Unbelievably, almost immediately Republicans criticized the gesture. The talking points were heard far and wide, migrating from Fox News and the EIB Network directly into Republican leaders’ mouths. “It’s a trap,” they said, typically followed by “I don’ t know what to expect.” There are also fears the president is trying to “intimidate” the Republicans and Americans into a “government takeover of health care.”

From what we know about the debate, it is hardly a trap. By the time it takes place, Republicans will have had nearly three weeks to prepare. The Democrats’ updated bill will be posted online before the gathering, challenging the Republicans to put forward legislation of their own. Both parties were allowed to choose additional participants and staff members specializing in health care policy. In other words, if Republicans are caught by surprise or feel trapped, it will be their own fault.

Republicans are acting like they’re new to debate — or politics, for that matter. A televised debate with more than enough time for preparation is not a trap. Republicans complain about the health care process going too fast, but cannot get enough time to prepare for a debate on a policy we have steadily been talking about for over a year now? Isn’t that the point of debate, to present your proposals and see who has better ideas? Doing an interview with Stephen Colbert is more of a trap than the White House summit will be. (Chaffetz has done an interview with Colbert, by the way.)

Having a couple weeks to get ready for a televised, transparent debate on the people’s health care policy is not a trap. Public policy debate is not a trap. It’s part of open democracy.

Randal Serr is a liberal political columnist for Rhombus.

POLITICS: Taking Some of the Politics Out of Politics

Written by Randal Serr on . Posted in Politics

Obama SOTU

Randal Serr

Randal Serr

President Obama gave his State of the Union address last week — a speech that has been called both inspiring and tough, as well as rhetorical and lacking content. I thought the speech was good and I heard a lot of what I wanted to hear. What I thought was more impressive, however, was when the President took questions from House Republicans at a retreat in Baltimore two days later.

The State of the Union has received and continues to receive a lot of analysis and criticism. The question and answer session deserves a lot more attention than it is getting. Watching the retreat was an educational experience. It was much more candid and stimulating than the State of the Union. Both Republican representatives and the president were addressing concerns they had with each other and talking about them.

You could sense the tension discussing certain issues, but they were addressed respectfully and forcefully. Not only that, but the whole thing was transparent since it was broadcast live on C-SPAN. That is how politics should be, rather than the over-the-top accusations and boxing each other in we are used to hearing from talking heads like Beck and Olbermann.

Understandably, we like to listen to those that we agree with politically. People are not going to stop watching and listening to their side’s political talk shows and that’s just the way it is. But you cannot tell me Fox News is the only station that “tells you how it really is” any more than I can tell you MSNBC is purely objective and unbiased.

We tend to get so obsessed with ideology that we let it turn into demagoguery. In other words, we end up making arguments that are completely unsubstantiated or backed up by any facts just because that is what is being ingrained in us every day. If we insist on watching these people, we need to acknowledge that some of what we are watching and listening to only serves to make us into unblinking ideologues.

I do not mean to undermine the importance of the president’s State of the Union address. It is an important event that Americans should be more concerned about than the season premiere of Lost. At the same time, the session most people missed or do not even know about was both intellectually challenging and healthy. What I am saying is these sort of meetings need to happen more frequently, because they open the door for honest discussion and debate.

Randal Serr is a liberal political columnist for Rhombus.

POLITICS: Our Boy Brown Won Boston Town!

Written by Jess Jones on . Posted in Politics

Scott Brown

Call everyone! Teddy gave his seat up to a Republican! It’s sad to see there will actually have to be discussion again on the senate floor about issues like health care. I wonder how such a thing could happen. After all, the Democratic nominee, Martha Coakley, was ahead by large margins only a few weeks ago. Now she’s going back home with nothing but a “better-luck-next-time” and the reputation of being the first Democratic nominee to lose a senate seat for Massachusetts in the past three decades.

Now you might blame bad campaigning or whatever else, but in the end, is there a hidden message in this little turn of events? I don’t think it’ll be quite as challenging for the Senate to understand the hint, but hopefully they’ll get it: We don’t like the changes that are happening. The White House claims that the misdoings of their agenda has been merely “bad communication” to the American people. You’re right, Obama, because we would have never voted for you if we knew you were going to try and fundamentally alter American society within a year’s time.

Obama and his crony gang that is running both the Senate and House are sitting in office as the embodiment of an attitude of entitlement and welfare that has developed in America. I’m all for helping others out, but the attitude that government should provide all is nothing more than a virus that will corrode the bedrock of our founding. So perhaps the guilty party includes you and me. Thankfully, we seem to be waking up slowly and realizing we want change, but not at the price Obama is quoting us.

Whatever implications this has on party reactions and preparations for the 2010 election year is still hard to say. Democrats may take measures to reach out more to the people and work to address the job crisis in their states instead of pushing solely on the health care issue. Or perhaps they’ll just remain out of touch with their constituencies long enough for a changing of the guard. Who knows? For now, it’s just nice to see that in even the heartiest camps of liberal delusion, common sense still holds sway. Welcome to Washington, Senator Brown!

Jess Jones is a conservative political columnist for Rhombus. We welcome him back from his eight-year vacation.

POLITICS: Still Hope and Change

Written by Randal Serr on . Posted in Politics

Barack Obama Change

Barack Obama ran his successful 2008 presidential campaign based largely on the catchphrases “hope” and “change.” For every person that clung to these words and took them to heart, there was somebody else that would mock them, brushing them off as nothing more than campaign tools to win over the mindless. As cliché as it has become, these slogans continue to be the brunt of jokes in the world of politicos and cable talk shows. But a recent Pew Research Center poll shows that “hope” and “change” may be more than just empty phrases used by the first black president.

The results of the poll show that African-Americans are surprisingly optimistic about progress in the country, even in a time when the unemployment rate for blacks is 15.6 percent, much higher than the total U.S. unemployment rate of 9.7 percent. Yet the Pew poll makes clear that African-Americans are significantly more upbeat than they were just two years ago. In a poll of nearly 3,000 people, when blacks were asked if they are better off than they were five years ago, 39 percent said yes in November of 2009 as opposed to just 20 percent in 2008. When asked if the future will be better for blacks, 53 percent responded yes while just 44 percent responded yes two years earlier.

About 76 percent of blacks also feel that blacks and whites get along either “very well” or “pretty well” compared to 69% in 2007. The poll also shows that a majority of blacks, roughly 53 percent, now believe blacks who fail to get ahead have their own actions to blame rather than discrimination, compared to about 34 percent who said so in 1994. Whether or not that is substantively true, the election of Barack Obama is credited for this large uptick in positive attitudes.

Attitudes of whites are notable as well. While 55 percent say the election has made no difference in improving race relations, 32 percent actually say President Obama’s election has improved race relations. One out of  three is a pretty substantial portion of the Caucasian population.

These results do not tell the whole story of course. Aside from the unemployment rate, there is more to consider when examining the current situation. Unfortunately, according to statistics, the standard-of-living gap between blacks and whites hasn’t narrowed. Likewise, African-Americans have suffered the consequences of the recession in the areas of health and education as well.

There is still much to improve by way of standard-of-living for African-American communities across our country. Discrimination still exists and much remains to be done before the United States can truly say racism is no longer an issue. President Obama’s election has, in fact, given (and continues to give) a sense of hope to a lot of people. Attitudes are changing — and that is a big step in the right direction.

Randal Serr is a liberal political columnist for Rhombus.

POLITICS: Is the Public Option Really Dead?

Written by Randal Serr on . Posted in Politics

Randal Serr

Randal Serr

Howard Dean, former chairman of the Democratic Party, has bluntly stated that no health care bill is better than the health care bill proposed by the Senate. His reasoning is that the Senate bill is complicated, therefore, making it a target for Republicans.

Dean’s opinion is that the House and Senate should scrap the bill and start over so that they can simplify the bill and get the reform they set out to achieve in the first place, specifically either a public option or expanding Medicare. While I absolutely agree with Dean that the bill needs a public option or something similar to it to put the insurance industry in serious check, I disagree with him that we should just kill the bill and start over. I disagree for a few reasons.

Democrats are not going to have such a large majority forever. The 2010 elections are coming sooner than we think and Democrats are bound to lose at least a few seats. It has taken them nearly a year to get this far and trying it all over again would put any form of health care reform at risk. The public is getting more anxious all the time and the more the debate goes on, the more the public gets tired of it. According to Gallup polls, support is slumping for health care reform the longer it goes on. Support was above 50% in September and it has now waned to the high 40’s. The lag in support could be due to the tiring debate or lack of a public option, but either way the overall support has dropped.

While the health care bill lacks what I and many others would prefer, a public option, it still has plenty to offer. No more getting denied health care because of a pre-existing condition. That change is long overdue, especially because some insurance companies have listed things like domestic violence as an uninsurable pre-existing condition. Patients will also be protected from being dropped by insurance companies. People with incomes of up to 400 percent of the poverty level would be eligible for subsidies to help them buy insurance, while families with an income of less than 133 percent of the poverty level would be covered under Medicaid (insuring an additional 14 million people). Small businesses will receive tax breaks to help them ensure their employees. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects about $1 trillion in savings over 20 years if the bill passes. Any of these measures by themselves are worthy of passage, just as was expanding health care for children through SCHIP earlier this year. In sum, they form a very strong bill.

It is important to remember that there is still a lot up in the air about what the final bill will look like. Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) have been very vocal about continuing to fight for more competition, specifically the public option. Conyers said the following:

“My message to the these Senators is this: Just as it took compromise to pass your bill last night, so now will it require additional compromise to successfully reconcile your legislation with the House.”

Fiengold added:

“I will be urging members of the House and Senate who draft the final bill to make sure this essential provision [the public option] is included.”

However, Feingold also said that if the public option does not make it into the final bill, it still offers “meaningful reform.” There are plenty of legislators that are sure to do all they can to get some form of a public option in the final bill. Yet, even if a government-run option does not come out of the bill, it is still a great step forward — with room for even more progress in the future. As Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) said, “It’s something we can build on. Social Security passage was [originally] just widows and orphans.” What happened with the expansion of Social Security could very well happen with health care in the future.

There are still questions about how the House and Senate bills will merge, but even if the public option does not make the final bill, it is still a great bill. Supporters of health care reform, especially Democrats, should not let one missing provision overshadow how much this bill will accomplish and the doors it will open for people.

Randal Serr is a liberal political columnist for Rhombus. He is currently pursuing a graduate degree in public policy at the University of Utah.

POLITICS: Dousing Flaming Mormons

Written by Jon Ogden on . Posted in Politics

Last Sunday, the Deseret News published an opinion piece on Mormon liberalism written by Eric Samuelson, a professor of theater and arts at BYU.

It was an articulate and thoughtful piece, but the initial premise — “I’m a liberal because I’m a Christian” — troubled me. It seems to imply that Republicans aren’t genuine Christians. It’s nearly as arrogant as the flaming online retorts to Dr. Samuelson’s article that the devil is behind the entire liberal agenda. The devil! What boldness!

Such grandiose claims about the motives of a political opponent, liberal or conservative, seem to me to be a major roadblock, if not the major roadblock, to many Mormon political discussions. What I mean is that a debate that starts with “I’m the true Christian!” and is refuted by “No, I’m the true Christian!” is sure to go nowhere quickly. Such claims hack at genuine political debate, since they’re saying (in essence), “God’s with me, kid.”

That’s not to say that we should pack up our wit, play in the sunshine, and “just get along.” Such Teletubby tenderness fouls up democracy, a form of government that thrives only if citizens argue intelligently against each other.

But since it can take years to comprehend our own motives, let alone the motives of a stranger, genuine political debate always requires that we give opponents the benefit of the doubt. That is, genuine political debate requires us to assume that our opponents — including even presidents and TV pundits — have noble motives. It also requires us to assume that our own motives — as much as we want them to be pure — may be off-kilter. In other words, political argument can only gain traction once we assume that our opponents may have something to teach us, that they too might be genuinely good, even if they vote to tax the rich or privatize health care.

At the very least, granting opponents the benefit of the doubt can help us avoid the embarrassment of flaming. I’ll leave you with a shining yet sadly typical response from a reader about Dr. Samuelson’s argument on health care:

“We can afford to fix health care”?  Are you stupid?  We are IN DEBT!  Why does no one ever acknowledge this?  How can you go from suggesting this, to later acknowledging that “large deficits and a huge national debt are obviously unsustainable”?  STUPID!

To Dr. Samuelson’s credit, even though his self-righteous premise about true Christians has the flavor of a flamer, he steers clear of this futile, angry tone — and he’s all the smarter for avoiding it.

This is Jon Ogden’s first contribution to Rhombus.

POLITICS: Obama's Not-So-Radical Agenda

Written by Daniel Anderson on . Posted in Politics

Obama's domestic agenda is more about common sense than Fox News would have you believe.

Obama's domestic agenda is more about common sense than Fox News would have you believe.

It seems fitting last year’s monumental presidential election gave way to such monumentally heated debates regarding the direction of our country. No president has inherited an economy in such disarray since Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1932 and, while President Barack Obama won the election solidly, supposedly with a mandate for change from the American people, he now faces a partisan wall of substantial force keeping him from making good on the promises that got him to the White House. Washington has begun to increasingly resemble not so much government of the people, by the people, for the people as it does government of the monied interest groups, by the monied interest groups, and for the monied interest groups.

Meanwhile, the fledgling Republicans, being about as cooperative as a child forced to eat their vegetables, found new life as they opportunistically began the cries of “socialist,” “communist,” “terrorist,” “school child indoctrinator,” “foreign-born fraud,” etc. After all, this is politics. But what many conservatives (and especially the loud ones) fail to understand is that much of what the Obama administration seeks to do isn’t exactly radical. In fact, their agenda often follows proven historical patterns. Consider the top three domestic economic issues currently on the table:

Health care reform. As Republicans decry the administration’s attempts to reform our nation’s health insurance market, it is helpful to know this is a top policy priority for good reason. America’s health care system (which was created unintentionally as firms tried to sidestep wage restrictions in the 1930s) is unsustainable in every sense of the word. It consumes almost 20 percent of our Gross Domestic Product, with monthly premiums growing five times faster than wages.

Think of it on a micro scale – a husband and father who goes completely bankrupt paying for his chemotherapy treatments (even though he has insurance!) probably doesn’t have spare cash lying around to invest in the economy. Make no mistake: Without serious reform, health care is the next bubble to burst. Trying to fix the economy without handling health care is the definition of futility in action.

Unemployment. Yikes, yikes, and yikes. Unemployment continues to hover around 10 percent. This is beyond bad for the economy, leaving the output gap (how much the country should be producing versus how much it is actually producing) wider and wider by the month. And with the recent crisis finally stabilizing, the last thing businesses want to do is roll the dice by hiring more employees, which isn’t helping matters. A fresh injection of cash into the economy might be just the thing to help push them over the edge and create some new jobs.

Before you start gasping that more stimulus would ruin the country and increase debt, take a minute to think back to the Great Depression. Government fiscal policy did much to mitigate the effects of that crisis to some degree, but it wasn’t until America entered World War II that things turned around for good. Essentially, financing the war became an enormous government expenditure – or a colossal stimulus package. How big? Well, during the war the United States’ debt-to-GDP ratio reached a staggering 100 percent (right now it’s about sixty percent), and to my knowledge we were able to eventually balance the budget without any bouts of hyperinflation. So, when placed in that historical context, conservatives who argue that “the war got us out of the depression, not the government” might unwittingly be arguing for a second round of stimulus.

Financial Reform. After reckless speculating ruined America in the 1930s, the government regulated Wall Street to prevent future crises. Fifty years later, it became en vogue to deregulate the financial sector, and such policies continued through George W. Bush’s presidency. This was such a bad idea. Once the leash was off Wall Street, the reckless (and arguably immoral) behavior took over, leading to bubbles bursting all over the place, and culminating with the real estate bubble vaporizing the housing market and landing us where we are now.

Despite the current crisis before our eyes, conservatives continue to scream about the need for the government to keep their hands off Wall Street. Don’t believe that hype – the Obama administration’s quest to regulate big banks is not a step into socialism so much as it is a return to the way things were pre-1980. Ronald Reagan’s ideology that government is pure evil has had such marvelous staying power that we often forget the way things were before he took office. In the case of Wall Street, the trade off is clear: If we don’t want the government stilting up banks with bailout money, then we can’t let them get so large that their failure causes mass economic chaos reminiscent of the Great Depression – which is where we would have been without the Bush bailout and the Obama stimulus.

Despite these arguments, my guess is the name-calling and labeling will continue as Republicans seek to gain back the ground they lost in 2006 and 2008. However, evidence suggests the current administration is working to make sure there’s one label they can’t be identified with, the worst political and economic label imaginable – “the next Herbert Hoover,” the poster boy for foolishly waiting to see if the markets correct themselves. No matter what Fox News tells you, this isn’t about creeping socialism or some radical agenda; It’s about common sense.

Daniel Anderson is Rhombus’ resident armchair economist. He is not a radical socialist.

POLITICS: Republican Retrospective ‘09

Written by Jim Dalrymple on . Posted in Politics

A word from the GOP...

A word from the GOP...

In the wake of the 2008 elections, this year has seen the explosion of an angry, faux-populist conservative movement that, according to Fox News, is taking the country by storm. If the big question last year was what the Republican Party would do next, this year seems to have given us our answer: get really pissed off. Yet while characters like Glenn Beck and Michelle Bachmann have become media fixtures, we haven’t quite seen conservatives cobble together a specific plan to counter the Democrats. The incessant rallies and tea parties have been radical in style and tone, but intellectually vacuous too.

In that light, the big (conservative) political question at the end of 2009 is how the Republican Party will reinvent itself and provide a distinctive legislative alternative that goes beyond making outlandish claims about global warming, idiotically questioning President Obama’s citizenship, or just not being a Democrat.

There are a lot of different theories about what will happen next. Some believe the almost-righteous fury witnessed at all the recent rallies will continue, and even spill out beyond the party’s extreme fringes. Sarah Palin, a darling of hyper-conservative Republicans, recently seemed to be encouraging this particular outcome when she endorsed Doug Hoffman of the Conservative Party over Republican Dede Scozzafava, in the New York 23rd congressional district special election.

Yet Hoffman lost to Democrat Bill Owens and Palin’s endorsement may have merely turned Hoffman into a spoiler who split the conservative vote. The episode is illuminative not only for Palin’s “marvericking” it up by ignoring her party, but also because it illustrates the difficulties of actually getting a hard-line, “tea party” conservative elected. Sure, there are some regions that endorse these people, but on a larger scale they just aren’t that appealing — even to Republicans. On a national scale, things are even grimmer for the far right and, as this Slate article points out, it’s unlikely that a real tea partier could move beyond the small-time.

So if the tea parties alone won’t save the Republicans, what will? In his recent Newsweek article, David Frum proposes just the opposite: a return to neoconservatism. Admittedly, in light of what has happened to the Republican Party in the last year, a return to the “glory” days of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz suddenly sounds almost appealing. Even if neoconservative ideas led to disaster again and again, at least they were ideas.

That said, it’s baffling to see some seriously advocating neoconservatism again. (Personally, I was still shocked and nearly vomiting all over myself from the first go-around.) In an attempt to make neoconservatism more appealing, Frum says the pseudo-ideology has been “blamed” for Iraq and Katrina, as if it wasn’t really at fault. And it’s true — there is no secret, evil neocon handbook that tells adherents to screw people over and over again. In fairness though, the neocon faithful were at the helm for those (and a sorry number of other) debacles.

More broadly, however, I think it’s a mistake to assume neoconservatism represents something less alienating and counterproductive than tea partiers. Generally speaking, neocons do have a respect for science, intellectual acuity and political savvy, all things the far right has sadly either marginalized or (somehow) disregarded. Nevertheless, neoconservatism is an ideology of unilateralism — unless you’re the one in power, it comes off as arrogant and bullying. At least in its most recent incarnations, neoconservatism hardly values consensus-building.

In this sense, tea parties and neconservatism are two of a kind — the former screams for what it wants domestically, while the latter pushes its will on the world stage. However, both end up isolating their believers with an “us versus them” mentality. I heard once that Leo Strauss, perhaps the most influential political scholar of the neoconservative movement, reportedly liked the old Gunsmoke TV show because the good guys wore white hats and the bad guys wore black hats. Everyone was either good or bad, and their allegiances were abundantly clear. Whether that anecdote is true or not, it’s a good illustration of both the tea party and neocon approach to politics — you’re either with us or against us, and if you’re against us, we’re going to utterly destroy you because we think you’re evil. Sadly, even long-serving and fairly respectable politicians are exhibiting this thickheaded refusal to compromise, as Orrin Hatch did when he called the health care debate a “holy war” in this Los Angeles Times article.

As a non-Republican myself, I can’t help but think the current state of conservative politics is setting the Democrats up for long-term wins, even if those wins are less dramatic than last year’s. Yes, some Republicans will still come out victorious, but there will also be more spoilers and third party candidates. Funds that normally went toward supporting a single candidate will be dispersed more broadly, leaving Democrats with more money and greater unity.

I also can’t help but wonder how rank-and-file Republicans, most of whom are neither tea partiers nor neocons, feel about these developments. Neoconservatism is, at its best, a type of amoral egoism — it’s deeply rooted in intellectual investigation, but relies heavily on dangerous generalizations and has shown very little consideration for traditional conservative values like small government. On the other hand, the radical right epitomized by the tea party movement is all rage but no plan; its answer to debate is, apparently, a gun. Neither option really seems to represent the decorous, measured, tonally moderate party that used to exist.

Ultimately, 2009 has been a year in which conservatives (and Republicans) have demonstrated a great will to evolve, but still haven’t quite found their way. Though the political right was co-opted by insidious big spending ideologues during the last decade, the only alternative we’ve seen so far are loud-mouthed demagogues. As 2010 begins and more elections loom on the horizon, we’ll hopefully begin to see some Republicans who are neither neocons nor morons. When that finally happens, the Republican comeback will have begun in earnest.

Jim Dalrymple is a regular correspondent for Rhombus, frequently reporting on popular culture and politics.