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  Boomers' reputation on the Internet
Posted by: sbarrera - 10-11-2019, 07:11 AM - Forum: Baby Boomers - Replies (23)

From my blog. Boomers are associated with the fading past and with reactionary politics. Not necessarily fairly.

Boomers Invented the Internet, but…

As we all know, it was a Baby Boomer who invented the Internet. Al Gore, to be precise. Ha ha, I jest. But in all seriousness, it actually was a Boomer who invented the World Wide Web. Well, an Englishman the same age as the American Boomer generation. That was when the Internet skyrocketed into public awareness and use (it had been around for decades already in academia and government) and the Boomer generation was still relatively young, and was involved in the grunt work of technology research and development.

Now it's younger generations who are on the leading edge of technology development and the Boomer pioneers are for the most part resting on their laurels. Steve Jobs has been deified and Bill Gates is busy spending his billions on humanitarian projects. Meanwhile, the Millennial generation has taken over Internet culture and formed a hivemind that is whimsical and heartwarming (doggy memes, anyone?), and also unforgiving in its enforcement of social norms (fear the hashtag). Generation X has been ghosted, and Boomers? - well, their cultural reputation on the Internet has not survived in very good shape.

For proof of this last assertion, all you have to do is get on Facebook and join "a group where we all pretend to be boomers." It's easy to do, trust me - I applied and got accepted right away. Here you will encounter the Millennial stereotype of what a Baby Boomer is - basically an old white Christian who supports President Trump, is hopelessly out of touch with modern values and, on top of that, embarrassingly clueless about how the Internet works. Boomers are always posting "MAGA" and "God bless America," misinterpreting what they see younger people doing online, and going to church and to potlucks.

As for posting memes, well Boomers probably shouldn't even try. Their memes are dated in style, atrocious in design, and express antiquated values. They should just stick to GIFs of the minions from Despicable Me, inexplicably a Boomer obsession. The idea of a Boomer meme is something you will also find on the subreddit TheRightCantMeme, where a lame meme by the political right is implicitly associated with the Boomer generation.

This stereotyping, of course, is unfair to the legions of Boomers who are on the political left. Not to mention those who are very savvy to the ways of the Internet. Perhaps these Boomers are not on Facebook so much; my guess is they are on Twitter instead. But this association, by a younger generation, between the Baby Boomers and the reactionary politics of Trump supporters (who are not all Baby Boomers, is my point) clearly marks the Boomer outlook as a fading thing of the past. The Internet - and thank you for it, Mr. Gore - belongs to a new generation.

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  Civic = Greece, Prophetic = Israel?
Posted by: Bill the Piper - 10-09-2019, 05:49 AM - Forum: Theory Related Political Discussions - Replies (7)

Do  the archetypes have anything to do with our civilization's double source?

The civic values are rationality, masculinity and togetherness or "cooperative freedom", which looks a lot like Ancient Greek values, or to be more precise Aristotelian values, since this is the philosophy which exerted greatest influence on the modern West through Thomistic Catholicism. The word "civic" is derived from "citizen" and citizenship was the focus of Aristotelian ethics. Its main point was to raise brave citizens ready to die for the free polis, the way GIs died for democracy during WW2 and Republicans during the American Revolution. 

Then the prophetic archetype is about personal righteousness and spirituality, which is just what the Bible preached. All 2Ts, including the Boomers' one, featured a renewed interest in Christianity. The Puritans made it clear they want to build a new Israel and reject the culture and political system of Europe because it was too Roman. Criticism of Western civilization was also a part of later 2Ts including Romanticism. Hippies weren't fond of Christianity, but they still respected Jesus as a prophet of peace. For millennials Jesus is not really relevant.

Both sources were in fact one-sided and lacked the other dimension. Greeko-Roman society after death of its early prophetic currents like Pythagoreanism was so civic-minded that it had to import its spirituality from Syria, Egypt, eventually from Israel. Israel as a prophetic nation was a spiritual superpower, but technologically and politically it was feckless. We don't know any ancient Israelite inventors, and of course they never were a major political player.

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  Wholesomememes on reddit and Twitter
Posted by: sbarrera - 09-30-2019, 07:05 AM - Forum: The Millennial Generation - No Replies

(reposting from my blog: http://stevebarrera.com/subreddit-of-the...somememes/)

In this social era one of the roles of young adult Millennials is to clean up the culture after a long period of decadence and degradation called the Unraveling (I'm talking "turnings" theory here). I submit that an excellent example of this phenomenon is the subreddit wholesomememes. Here you will find only happy and affirming thoughts, positivity and love. It's the Internet's biggest safe space.

I also submit that the subreddit acts as a forging ground of an emerging values consensus for the new order of the ages. If it fits into this subreddit, its acceptable values. That means that inclusivity is in, and religious moralism is out. All the weird culture that our society has generated over the past decades is in - as long as it serves to boost the esteem of others and bring us all together.

They have it on Twitter, too, if you like that.
I'm wondering what this forum thinks about the idea that anything that is fit for the wholesomememes subreddit is an accetable value in the next saeculum's value consensus (if that's even a thing).

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  Did Boomer Individualism Help or Hurt America
Posted by: beechnut79 - 09-29-2019, 03:41 PM - Forum: General Discussion - Replies (4)

For discussion purposes only I am enclosing a roughly four-minute video on the subject. And while there is not a lot you can elaborate on in four minutes we can branch the discussion out and elaborate on the pros and cons here.  Once I posted a question as to whether the Millennials will be as successful as Boomers were in using their sheer force of numbers to set social, political and economic trends within the society. That poster who responded didn't seem to think so, but they do seem to be off to a very good start although I am sure the jury will be out for quite a while on this one. I do believe that they have pretty much dethroned the Boomers culturally although not yet politically.


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  To impeach, or not to impeach
Posted by: pbrower2a - 09-29-2019, 02:12 PM - Forum: General Political Discussion - Replies (125)

It is easy to misunderstand and misinterpret history even with the tool of generational theory. Some of us thought that September 11, 2001 was the start of a Crisis and expected to see rationing, exhortations to buy war bonds, calls to reduce consumer spending, mass enlistments even of prominent people in the Armed Services, and large numbers of people trying to do public duty in war plants. Things did not so work; we instead got a speculative boom that, like others, turned investments into garbage.  We did not have anything like a Crisis era until Americans had cause to fear an economic meltdown as severe as the one that started the Great Depression.  Speculative booms going bust are the financial panics (1857, 1929, 2008) that portend calamity. Four years after the Panic of 1857 the USA was in the Civil War. Within three years of the Great Market Crash of 1929, Germany would go from a benign-but-shaky Weimar Republic to one of the most brutal and aggressive tyrannies ever known. 

So something was different in 2008. Americans were scared of things spiraling into consummate danger with a combination of political chaos in an era of atomic weapons seemingly everywhere. So the chief of the Federal Reserve, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission told the President and Congress what was going to happen, and everybody seemed to go along. Americans elected Barack Obama in a near-landslide, and by the spring of 2009 the hemorrhage of securities prices was over/ The recovery had begun

Obama did everything well in stewardship of the economy -- well enough to allow the sorts of people who lost enough that they could not afford to buy the political process to buy the political process. By 2010 the right-wing economic interests had the funds with which to fund an onslaught upon anything not fully in line with pure plutocracy. Obama's party lost the House of Representatives in 2010. He got re-elected in 2012 despite the vehement efforts of the Right, but the Right won the Senate in 2014 and got the Presidency in 2016 with a political neophyte with despotic tendencies. Meanwhile the Right got control of many state legislatures, a telling marker of which was that Michigan became a Right-to-Work (or as I am tempted to call it, "Duty to Starve") state, demonstrating the increasing power of Big Business over all else in America.

OK. Trump is certifiably awful as President. He is the most immoral person to have ever held the office. He does not understand the Constitutional limits upon the Presidency. Oblivious to the normal methods of getting one's pet legislation enacted and appointments confirmed, he turns to the use of brute partisanship.

In 2018 he loses the House of Representatives, and it can hold him accountable for gross misconduct. 

Here we are.

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  EPA to Unveil Plan to Take Away California’s Authority on Car Emissions
Posted by: taramarie - 09-17-2019, 04:37 PM - Forum: General Political Discussion - Replies (2)

EPA to Unveil Plan to Take Away California’s Authority on Car Emissions

The Trump administration will announce it is rescinding California’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles on Wednesday, according to people familiar with the matter, a move sure to set off a legal battle with the most populous state.

The Environmental Protection Agency intends to announce it will revoke the so-called waiver underpinning California’s power to set vehicle greenhouse gas standards separately from the Trump administration’s broader rule to ease federal vehicle-efficiency standards, which is expected in the weeks ahead, the people said. The people asked to not be identified discussing plans prior to announcement.

Among those invited to the agency’s headquarters for the announcement are free-market groups that have championed the Trump administration’s rollback of automobile fuel economy and emissions standards adopted during the Obama administration. Plans for the announcement are still being developed and could change, one of the people said.

The move is almost certain to spark a lengthy legal battle over California’s regulatory powers that could throw the critical standards into uncertainty for years.

“California will continue its advance toward a cleaner future. We’re prepared to defend the standards that make that promise a reality,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement.
The procedural move would allow the attacks on California to proceed while the Trump administration continues to finalize federal fuel economy and emissions regulations for new autos after the 2020 model year. The plan also leaves intact California’s power to regulate smog-forming pollutants from autos and other sources.
The measures need approval from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget for review before they can take effect.
The EPA didn’t respond to a request for comment but the agency’s administrator, Andrew Wheeler, told the National Automobile Dealers Association, “We will be moving forward with one national standard very soon.”
“We will be taking joint action with the Department of Transportation to bring clarity to the proper -- and improper -- scope and use of the Clean Air Act preemption waiver,” he said in prepared remarks delivered Tuesday.
Dan Becker, director of the Center for Auto Safety’s Safe Climate Campaign, said the move is an attack on states’ authority to set their own air pollution standards that he called a centerpiece of the Clean Air Act.
“It is hypocritical for the administration to encourage states to block some of their people from going to the polls, but then forbid states from protecting their people from auto pollution,” Becker said in a statement.

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  Andrew Yang for President
Posted by: Bill the Piper - 09-10-2019, 06:38 AM - Forum: Theory Related Political Discussions - Replies (11)


There never was an American politician whose views were as similar to mine. Humanity First is the most beautiful election slogan I ever heard.

I like the UBI idea or "freedom dividend" in general, but alcoholics and drug addicts should be exempt from receiving it. Same for people with a history of violent crime or support for terrorist groups, and diagnosed psychopaths.

I also like it that he has some neocon-like views on foreign policy:

Yang called Iran a "destabilizing force in the region". He has backed a more aggressive policy toward Russia: "Russia is our biggest geopolitical threat, because they've been hacking our democracy successfully

He also wants to create "a department focused on regulating the addictive nature of media" - another good point.

Do you think he would be a 4T or 1T leader?

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  Weak U.S. Congress in this 4T
Posted by: sbarrera - 09-08-2019, 10:03 AM - Forum: Theory Related Political Discussions - Replies (3)

This article is a year old, but I only just recently encountered it. I thought it was a provocative commentary about the state of the U.S. government. It discusses partisanship in Congress and it’s effect on the functioning of government. As we all know, the shift in increasing partisanship to the point of paralyzing the institution is generally traced to the Gingrich revolution in the early 90s and the rise of the Boomer generation in government.
What I particularly wonder is – is the pattern the same in other 4Ts? Were the Congresses of the Great Power Saeculum 4T and the Civil War Saeculum 4T also basically powerless? Is it not until the 1T that the institution becomes energized and can legislate again?
 Reproduced in its entirety for educational purposes

Congress Is Weak Because Its Members Want It to Be Weak
There’s a constitutional crisis, but it’s not the one you think

  • JUN, 2018 

If you follow politics in America today, you probably spend most of your time gawking at the president. It is hard to avoid attributing every dysfunction of the moment to Donald Trump’s peculiar mix of reckless talk and often feckless action. But judged on a scale of institutional breakdown, the presidency—even this presidency—is not our biggest problem. No, the failures of the Congress both run deeper and are harder to explain. They begin with a simple inability to get much accomplished. Republicans have controlled both Houses of Congress since 2014 and since 2017 have had a president willing to sign more or less anything they send him, but they have mostly been spinning their wheels in frustration.

They pat themselves on the back for cutting the corporate tax rate, a reform that has had bipartisan support for most of this century yet barely happened. And they praise themselves for confirming judges, an act that requires only a simple Senate majority now. But that’s about the sum of it.

They are less inclined now to talk about health-care reform, which was the foremost plank of every Republican platform since 2010 but fell apart last year and seems to have been abandoned. Presidential priorities such as immigration and infrastructure are going nowhere. The same can be said of longstanding Republican priorities such as entitlement reform.

The budget process has never been so hobbled. Not only did we come close to an unprecedented government shutdown during single-party control of Congress and the presidency, but this year has also marked the first time in the four-plus decades since the modern budget process was created that neither chamber has even considered a budget resolution.
And the trouble didn’t start in just the past few years. Presidential hyperactivity in recent decades has masked a rising tide of dysfunction—giving us policy action to observe and debate while obscuring the disorder that was overtaking our core constitutional infrastructure. It kept us from facing what should be an unavoidable fact: Congress is broken.

So whether you measure it by legislation, public approval, member satisfaction, even just committee work or each house’s ability to live by its own rules and procedures, the institution looks awfully dysfunctional. And the primary reason for that dysfunction may be the worst news of all: Congress is weak because its members want it to be. And that means the structure of our system, the insights of its framers, and the incentives that shape our politics don’t offer obvious solutions.

The Constitution gives the Congress powers but not responsibilities. The president is required to execute the laws and tasked with responding to changing world events on the country’s behalf. The courts have to consider cases and controversies put before them and apply the laws accordingly. But while the general scope and reach of the Congress’s authorities are laid out in Article I, the institution is not really told what it must do within that scope. That’s because the assumption was that Congress would naturally seek to control things and run as far and as hard in pursuit of power as the Constitution allowed, so that only boundaries were needed.

James Madison believed the legislative branch of government would exhibit an unquenchable ambition. As he wrote in Federalist 48, it would always be “extending the sphere of its activity, and drawing all power into its impetuous vortex.” In Federalist 51, Madison offers this as the reason for the bicameral legislature: “In republican government, the legislative authority necessarily predominates. The remedy for this inconveniency is to divide the legislature into different branches.”
The legislative branch would be so dominant because the intense ambition of its members couldn’t really be contained. Those members would speak most directly for the public, and their jobs could not be bounded by the laws as the job of a judge and a president can be. They would have the power to make the laws, after all, and so would be the moving force in our regime, striving incessantly to act.

Today’s Congress simply defies that expectation. It suffers from a malady the framers never quite imagined when they thought about politics: a shortage of ambition. Members are certainly eager to retain their offices, but they seem oddly indifferent to using those offices.

For example: About half a year from an election that could plausibly end their unified control of Congress for a while, congressional Republicans appear to have decided to spend this time doing essentially nothing. Even if bipartisan agreement is too hard to achieve, they have the opportunity, using the budget-reconciliation process, to take on serious legislative work with bare majorities. And they have a president eager to sign practically anything. But they are choosing to send him little of consequence.

It is precisely the president’s relative passivity that helps us see Congress’s ambition shortage. As an institutional matter, and in terms of his uses of his formal powers, Donald Trump is almost certainly the weakest president we have seen since before the New Deal. He is intensely interested in playing the leading role in the drama of our national politics, but he views that role in terms of media and cultural theater. He has barely lifted a finger to advance any legislative agenda of his own. He has used his executive authorities less aggressively than any modern president (and has used them mostly to reverse the aggressive hyperactivity of his predecessor). He has populated his administration with many officials rightly inclined to restrain the presidency. And he has proven largely incompetent to propel the engine of the federal bureaucracy in any particular direction on most issues.

Every White House, moreover, mirrors the personality of the chief executive. So the Trump White House has been a hothouse of frenetic, undisciplined, and unproductive chaos—self-obsessed, media-obsessed, but ultimately uninterested in the substantive work of the presidency. At least in domestic affairs, we are getting a flavor of what our system of government might look like without a president.

And what we’re learning from this strange experience is that the role of presidential overreach in undermining our system has probably been overstated, while the role of congressional underreach has been underappreciated. Congress has not looked upon Trump’s weakness as an opportunity and has not stepped in to fill the vacuum. The little that has gotten done (tax reform in particular) has certainly looked more like the agenda of congressional Republicans than of the president. But very little has gotten done. And members of Congress spend much of their time waiting to see what the president will say next.
This turn of events might cast the state and modern history of our constitutional system in a rather different light from the one in which conservatives have been inclined to see it over the last few decades. It suggests that the two trends that have most worried conservatives about the system—the trends toward excessive executive power and excessive judicial activism—are both rooted in congressional dereliction.
This also helps make better sense of the history of the administrative state, which has been distorted some in the popular conservative telling. The villain of this story is Woodrow Wilson, so that the tale has been about presidential excess from the start. But the historical evidence leaves little doubt that Congress created the administrative state, and indeed that it did so with little presidential guidance or involvement more or less until the New Deal. The original “independent” regulators were formed as commissions and given a peculiar middle spot between the branches of our government in part precisely so that they would not simply add to the president’s arsenal of authorities—and would remain answerable to Congress to a meaningful degree.

This began to change with the New Deal, but very much with Congress’s complicity. And by the last few decades, a pattern of congressional neglect has clearly emerged that has been misattributed (at least in part) to presidential and judicial excess. That pattern has dominated the work of our constitutional system in this century. Broad delegations of power in statutes have let presidents wield what are properly legislative authorities, and intentionally vague legislation has empowered judges to fill gaps that legislators should never have left open. Members of Congress are happy to complain about the other branches, but they are not inclined to use the enormous power at their disposal to restrain those competing institutions and reassert their own. We have seen this in health care, education, energy and banking regulation, and across the full scope of domestic affairs. And Congress’s abandonment of its role in foreign policy has been, if anything, even more comprehensive.

That presidents and judges would have rushed to capitalize on these opportunities is no surprise. They are ambitious, as the framers knew they would be. Why Congress would willfully create such opportunities for them is the question to be answered.
So how could there be a shortage of legislative ambition? What did James Madison miss?

He didn’t get the psychology of politicians wrong. People who run for Congress are still very ambitious and driven. But their ambition is now channeled away from the institution of Congress and redirected along two related paths.

The first is partisan. As polarization has increased, members of Congress have grown more inclined to understand their political and policy ambitions in partisan terms and therefore to see themselves as belonging to a team that extends beyond Congress. That means when they are in the president’s party, they generally work to advance the president’s priorities—because they usually share those priorities, and because they expect success for the president to redound to their own political benefit.
This obviously slackens the institutional tensions that are supposed to keep our constitutional system in balance. That’s how we could find congressional Democrats earlier in this decade calling on President Obama to assert the authority to rewrite immigration laws on his own, seemingly unconcerned about the usurpation of legislative prerogatives. It’s how we find Republicans asking President Trump to use his regulatory power to do things they could do with legislative power—to protect religious liberty or enable oil drilling along the coasts.

It is worth noticing in this regard, and when it comes to the decline of Congress more generally, that the problems have been thoroughly bipartisan. There is a popular genre of political science and commentary devoted to blaming Congress’s problems on the behavior of Republicans since the Gingrich era of the 1990s. They are derided as somehow simultaneously dogmatic and nihilistic, and blamed for turning the institution into a partisan combat zone. In this telling, it was the end of a blissful half-century of Democratic dominance that started all the trouble.

A more plausible diagnosis, offered by political scientist Frances Lee of the University of Maryland, is the simple fact that control of Congress is now in question in just about every election. This has turned up the partisan heat. The minority party at any given moment imagines it could take over next time and get everything it wants, and so it feels little pressure to cooperate with the majority just to get half a loaf or less. And the majority knows that its hold on power is endangered and so avoids bipartisan initiatives in favor of forcing the minority to take hard votes on wedge issues.

Both parties behave this way, in and out of power. And they also emulate each other’s behavior toward the president when control of the White House switches—as we have seen with the Democrats’ budget antics in the Trump era, which have been nearly identical to Republican shutdown politics in the Obama years. And both Republican and Democratic members have deferred and delegated to the president when their party has held the White House.

To some extent, this is because members are happy to pass off to the president and to judges the responsibility to make hard choices. But they do this not only when it comes to unpopular measures they don’t want tied to them. As a White House staffer in the Bush Administration, I frequently encountered member requests for executive actions in properly legislative domains that had broad popular support, or at least broad Republican support. Members were perfectly happy to claim credit for getting the president to act rather than acting themselves.

Members from the party out of power in the White House will sometimes suddenly discover a deep concern for congressional prerogatives, of course. But these discoveries rarely reach beyond the bounds of partisan convenience and have tended not to involve enacting durable institutional restraints on presidential power. Presidential overreach is convenient for Congress, because members don’t view the institution as the most important channel for their own ambition.

But members do not simply subsume their own ambition beneath that of their party. Ambitious people have pride and want prominence. That, too, remains as true today as in Madison’s time. But it points to the second, and even more pernicious, kind of redirection of ambition that is the distinct disorder of the Congress in this century, and that results in a more complicated kind of dereliction of congressional responsibility.

Simply put, many members of Congress have come to see themselves as players in a larger political ecosystem the point of which is not legislating or governing but rather engaging in a kind of performative outrage for a partisan audience. Their incentives are rooted in that understanding of our politics and so are not about legislating. They remain intensely ambitious, but their ambition is for a prominent role in the theater of our national politics. And they view the institution of Congress as a particularly effective platform for themselves—a way to raise their profile, to become celebrities in the world of cable news or talk radio, whether locally or nationally, to build a bigger social-media following, and in essence to become stars.

They can best use this platform not by engaging in the mundane work of legislating but by taking part in dramatic spectacles and by fueling the outrage that is now the engine of our politics. Even for its own members, Congress seems to be most valuable as an object for commentary and a prop in a livid morality tale about corruption.

Matt Gaetz, a freshman Republican congressman from Florida, has made a name for himself as an aggressive and quotable partisan combatant on cable television. When a reporter from Buzzfeed asked him in February whether he was concerned that he was gaining notoriety rather than prominence by doing this, his answer was: “What’s the difference? People have to know who you are and what you’re doing if your opinions are going to matter.”

It is easy to imagine President Trump himself offering the same answer. And indeed, the rise of performative politics in Congress mirrors the performative approach to the presidency embodied by Trump—though it was also very much in evidence in his predecessor’s behavior. In both the elected branches, we find people inside a key institution yearning for the role of the outsider, and therefore essentially acting on the institution rather than in it. Something of the same pattern is evident in the courts today. And we can see it outside of government, too, in the professions, in the universities, in the media, and throughout the culture. Many of our key institutions are coming to be treated by their occupants as platforms for a kind of moralistic performance art.

Congress, like any serious institution, can only function by socializing its members to work together. But when those members see the institution as a stage for their individual performances, they do not become socialized and are left in a kind of anti-social form, each trying to shine. They often cannot wait to rush off the floor of the House or Senate, find a camera, and tell a waiting viewing public just how badly broken Washington is. This makes accommodation very hard to come by, and it makes legislating difficult and rare. It has everything to do with why so little gets done in Congress now and why every budget process ends with the threat of a shutdown.

This is exacerbated further by the related loss of protected spaces for deliberation in Congress. Every institution needs an inner life—a sanctum where its work is really done. Congress has progressively lost that inner life, as its deliberative spaces have become performative spaces, everything has become televised, and there is less and less room and time for talking in private. By now, the Speaker’s Office around midnight as a government shutdown approaches is almost the only private space left, and that is therefore where much important legislation gets made—so that various reforms intended to democratize the Congress and make it more accountable have resulted in a less democratic and accountable institution.

This has happened in the name of transparency. And transparency is a good thing. Without it, institutions that serve a public purpose can easily become debased and unaccountable. But every good thing is a matter of degree, and we have treated transparency as a good thing with no costs, when in fact it can have some enormous costs, and these must be accounted for. In this case, the cost is a Congress that increasingly has the appearance of a show, and that does less and less real bargaining, accommodating, and legislating.

Combine that with related reforms also intended to curtail corruption—most notably the elimination of earmarks in legislation—and it becomes easier to see why the intense ambition of legislators finds itself directed to things other than legislating, and so in turn why Congress seems so dysfunctional.

None of this points to any easy answers. In fact, although pretty much everyone who watches Congress (including its members) would now agree that institutional reforms are needed, there is not much agreement about just what such reforms should aim to achieve.

Congress isn’t working, but what is it failing to do? Is its purpose—like that of a European parliament—to enable the majority party to enact its agenda while it holds power? Or is its purpose—as envisioned by the framers of our Constitution—to compel accommodation among competing factions in a diverse and often divided country?

Reformers with the former goal in mind tend to see the partisan dereliction of congressional responsibility as a potentially promising development. They aim to make Congress more pliable, to remove obstacles to pure majoritarianism, and to empower party leaders and more efficient procedures. Those who seek the latter propose reforms that would instead empower Congress over the executive, empower members and especially committees over leaders, and encourage substantive policy conflict in Congress as a way to ultimately force compromise. They seek not ways to make the most of dereliction, but ways to reinvest the ambition of members in the work of their institution.

The experience of this century should teach us to prefer the second course. A weak Congress invites aggression from the other branches, and a Congress whose members direct their ambitions outside the institutional framework of our system sends that system dangerously out of balance—exacerbating partisan polarization and public frustration. Only an assertive and functional Congress—a Madisonian Congress—can help our politics find the practical accommodations essential to both addressing public problems and lowering the temperature of our overheated public life.

The insight that the problem with Congress is that members’ ambitions are now misdirected can help reformers think creatively and practically about what Congress needs. The budget process, which is at the center of Congress’s troubles, clearly needs to be reformed with this insight in mind—perhaps by eliminating the distinction between authorizing and appropriating legislation and breaking up the big spending bills into many smaller pieces that would have Congress always legislating but in focused and discrete ways that offer members concrete reasons to be engaged.

A transformation of oversight is also plainly in order. It is particularly important now to give Congress more of a role in federal regulation, maybe requiring its assent for major rules (as the so-called REINS Act would do), requiring it to legislate a formal regulatory budget for the executive branch just as it now imposes a budget on spending, and (as Kevin Kosar and Philip Wallach have proposed) providing it with a specialized agency to oversee regulation on the model of the Congressional Budget Office.

There is no easy answer to the incentive for performative over legislative politics, of course. But congressional reformers should consider whether transparency has gone too far, and whether limits might be placed on the televising of all floor and committee action. A much more robust role for committee work in setting the schedule for congressional activity and in drafting and revising legislation would also give members a more legitimate forum for prominence and therefore more of a chance to invest themselves in legislative work.

None of this would solve the overarching problem. But institutional reforms can be a matter of degree, and Congress could stand to improve its functioning incrementally. Such improvements should always keep in mind Madison’s exhortation in Federalist 51 that “the interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place.”
The real trouble, however, is that any reforms along these lines would first require members to want them. If the problem with Congress is a shortage of properly constitutional will, this is all the more of a problem when it comes to institutional reforms of the Congress.

Congress is weak and dysfunctional because that suits its members. It could renew itself only if its members wanted such renewal. The health of our constitutional system rests on the premise that the officials who populate it will be ambitious on behalf of the institutions they occupy. A shortage of constitutional ambition is the real trouble with Congress—and not only with Congress.

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  Millennial indie rockers
Posted by: sbarrera - 09-08-2019, 09:56 AM - Forum: Entertainment and Media - No Replies

I recently have been enjoying the indie rock band Vampire Weekend. The two founders are early wave Millennials. Thought I would start a thread for indie rock from this generation and start with this particular band.

To me, the songs of Vampire Weekend are all Millennial anthems. They perfectly capture the zeitgeist of their generation – anxious, questioning, dissatisfied with adult life after being raised with high expectations.

The chorus from their latest hit says it all, I think. When I hear it, I hear the Millennial generation’s disappointment in the corruption of the institutions run by their elders, and their longing to make the world a better place. The official music video follows.

And the stone walls of Harmony Hall bear witness
Anybody with a worried mind could never forgive the sight
Of wicked snakes inside a place you thought was dignified
I don’t wanna live like this, but I don’t wanna die

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  When did the current 4T begin?
Posted by: Bill the Piper - 09-06-2019, 05:35 AM - Forum: Turnings - Replies (11)

There are two main possibilities, either 9/11 or the Great Recession. I support the Great Recession camp, though there were 4T like traits in the 2006-8 pop culture like the rise of social media (MySpace). The 2001-5 period was pure 3T and the general theme of this Crisis has nothing to do with al-Qaeda and the war on terror.

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