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Truthdigger of the Week: Mike Lofgren

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Posted on Sep 9, 2011
Flickr / carolyntiry (CC-BY-SA)

Every week, Truthdig recognizes an individual or group of people who spoke truth to power, blew the whistle or stood up in the face of injustice. You can see past winners here, and make your own nomination for our next awardee here.

On June 17, Mike Lofgren retired after 28 years as a congressional staff member. He worked for 16 of those years with Republicans on the House and Senate budget committees, but until this week, few people knew who he was. He would likely tell you that’s because he’s not a “lunatic” or a “crackpot” like so many Republicans who make up the “vital center” of the GOP today. But we now know who Lofgren is, and he’s our Truthdigger of the Week.

On Saturday, Truthout published a lengthy op-ed by Lofgren that received a surprising amount of attention, “Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult.” While not his first article to blast politicians for their utterly unproductive antics lately, the piece is refreshingly honest, engaging and downright sensible—characteristics that he would agree are difficult to find in today’s Republican politicians.

Lofgren accuses the Republican Party of practicing “political terrorism,” especially during the debt-ceiling crisis.

“Everyone knows that in a hostage situation, the reckless and amoral actor has the negotiating upper hand over the cautious and responsible actor because the latter is actually concerned about the life of the hostage, while the former does not care,” he wrote.

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In nominating Lofgren, Truthdig reader Lucius said the article “is the best, hands down, evisceration of the Republican Party (and their Democratic enablers) yet published.” But Lofgren doesn’t simply “eviscerate” his own GOP. He draws the curtain wide, allowing us to see exactly why it is that the American people need to stay involved in the political process. Lofgren shows us, as Truthdig reader Carmen said, that “this is a big (Herculean) task. Let’s get on with it.”


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By Inherit The Wind, September 12, 2011 at 3:50 am Link to this comment

Mike Lofgren has provided detailed and useful information on what we have been inferring about the GOP.  Now we have concrete facts and data to support that inference:
The GOP is made up of cynical racists, corporatists and empire builders.

Lofgren has provided confirmation. No matter what you think of him, that’s a great service.

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By ardee, September 12, 2011 at 3:12 am Link to this comment

BcdErick, September 12 at 1:14 am

This is the second bit of wackazoid nonsense I have read from you, there will not be a third. A pity you waste that muscle between your ears….

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By OldManCA, September 11, 2011 at 2:59 pm Link to this comment

Thank you for highlighting Lofgren’s recent writing. I had missed it.

It is nice to know that there are Republicans, like Lofgren, who can think and
set out a coherent evaluation of what has gone wrong with the Republican and
(to a lesser extent) the Democratic parties.

While many of his points are not “new” they are well stated.

I find it disturbing that Republican politicians continue to get support from
enough voters when the only interests the Republicans truly serve are those of
the multi-national corporations and the wealthy top 1%. Not enough voters
there to get close to a majority, but if you can con the “Joe-the-plumbers” and
the unthinking evangelicals** and frighten enough of the rest,—then you get a
mid-term election with results favorable to the wealthy minority. 

Thanks again for pointing me to Lofgren’s piece.

(**I am an educated, thinking, evangelical; and a Democrat.)

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By BobZ, September 11, 2011 at 12:23 pm Link to this comment

While most of us have seen first hand the gradual deteroriaton of the
Republican party into an extreme right wing parody of itself, it was gratifying to
see confirmation of our suspicions. Of particular disgust was the revelation that
the House Republican’s deliberately planned the fake crisis of the vote to raise
the debt ceiling. No wonder most of America ranks Congress as a political body
so low. But the Republican’s don’t care. They want us to think that way so we
will just acquiese as they plan the further dismanteling of our governmnent
institutions. Republican’s also showed a callous lack of concern about the
financial ramifications on the world wide economy by threatening to not raise
the debt ceiling. No longer will foreign entities automatically accept the notion
that our country will pay its debts. The Tea Party phenomenom has done
irreparable damage not only to the Republican party to to our democratic
institutions and to millions of Americans. Mike Lofgren has gone a great public
service in exposing a corrupt political party.

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By raja1031, September 10, 2011 at 11:57 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

JeffersonSmith,

I worked in a place I hated for 24 years.  I liked to eat and feed my children too.  Everybody can’t be jesus and die for the collective sins of humanity.  It wouldn’t be good for the future of the species.  Before you blast the guy as a hypocrite you might consider walking a few feet in his shoes.

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By JeffersonSmith, September 10, 2011 at 11:07 pm Link to this comment

Lofgren is a careerist slug. Now he deigns to enlighten us, tells America now, after he’s safely retired and what he says doesn’t have any affect on the Republicans he supposedly now abhors, or the body politic in general. As a “mea culpa,” it lacks a certain timeliness, as an indictment it’s lurid but easily dismissed as the rantings of the disgruntled. This is not an act of courage or illumination, it is too little, too late, like McNamara’s book and apology tour on Vietnam or Greenspan’s testimony to Congress about his “errors in his economic paradigm.” To be told by a Washington insider what was apparent for years to those of us on the outside, now legitimizes our perception, confirms the truth? Incredible….

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By Michael Cavlan RN, September 10, 2011 at 9:52 pm Link to this comment

Oh my God, How did I miss it.

Republicans bad. Republicans evil.

Bad evil Republicans. That is the meme, right? Guess some of us did not get the memo.

Pretty transparent these days. Propaganda exposed is propaganda much less effective.

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By Norwegian Shooter, September 10, 2011 at 2:52 pm Link to this comment

The tribal praise that has been lavished on Lofgren is way over-board. Yeah, he has some good points, but they usually aren’t anything that hasn’t been said before. While a lot of it is bunk. I’ve provided the de- in a series of posts at my blog. http://norwegianshooter.blogspot.com/2011/09/truthdig-truthout-and-truth.html

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By ImpeachTheCriminals, September 10, 2011 at 1:33 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Here’s what I sent to the members of the Kentucky Green Party:

I analyzed Lofgren’s column, gave it a lot of thought, and concluded that if posted with a disclaimer it could help the Green Party become stronger, which is my primary goal.  It could also help educate the public, including Green Party members, about an extremely important issue: how degraded and mystifying the political discourse in this country has become during the last decade or two.  However, if posted without a disclaimer, as Rick posted it, I believe it could be damaging to the Green Party.

I propose that something like this disclaimer be attached to the beginning of Lofgren’s column: “The following lengthy column by Mike Lofgren contains important and accurate information about the Republican Party in this country, but it also promotes a distorted and inaccurate view of the Democratic Party and therefore does not represent the position of the Kentucky Green Party.”

A critical point to remember is [Robert] Higgs’ Law: There are no persistent failed policies.  http://www.lewrockwell.com/higgs/higgs54.html  Higgs [in 2007] explained: “Policies that do not achieve their desired outcomes for the actual powers-that-be are quickly changed. If you want to know why the U.S. policies have been what they have been for the past sixty years, you need only comply with that invaluable rule of inquiry in politics: follow the money.”

The implication for Lofgren’s column is that if the Democrats have gone along with the GOP’s disastrous policies, it is because they wanted to.  They think the policies, which many liberals call “crazy,” are perfectly acceptable.  Other explanations – that the Dems are incompetent, cowardly, fearful, unable to understand the use of framing and language, etc etc – are false.  Obama and the Dems develop, support, and vote for bad policies because those are the policies they and their corporate backers prefer.

Liberals need to realize a supremely important fact: The Democratic Party has become an integral part of the evil, destructive, and death-dealing System we live under and is therefore a big part of the problem, not the solution.  The sooner we all realize that, the less destruction and suffering will occur, and the greater the odds humanity will have of surviving into the next century.  The Democratic Party is as destructive as the Repub Party, and may be worse because it is more skillful at deceiving the American people.  A critical part of its campaign of deception is to portray the Repubs as “insane.”  Well, my answer is that no one who cares about the future of our country is insane – or everyone is.  If the Tea Party is crazy, then so are liberals and Democrats.  If the Tea Party wants to make America better, which is what I believe, then so do liberals and Democrats.

No one is crazy, we all want what is best for our country and the world, we all possess parts of the truth about the extremely complicated situation we are in, and it is dangerous and unhelpful for us to call each other crazy.  It is simply a way of dismissing our opponents’ arguments, which generally have a grain of truth in them.  Please cut the crap and stop pretending that our side is totally rational and good and the other side is nuts and evil.  It isn’t true, and it gets us nowhere.  It is the System that is evil and irrational, not liberals, Greens, Tea Partiers, or socialists [whatever that word might mean today].  Calling each other “insane” doesn’t help us work together to stop and reverse our country’s long, ongoing slide toward mutually assured destruction.

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By Ruth C Uppena, September 10, 2011 at 12:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Like Buddy Roemer R-LA , who is running for President, says, money in politics is the #1 problem in America. We can do it differently—do not ignore the problem!

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By frecklefever, September 10, 2011 at 1:41 am Link to this comment

NON VOTING ISN’T A PROTEST…ITS A TACTIC TO END A ELECTORAL SYSTEM
TURNED CRIMINAL…A MASS MOVEMENT OF NON VOTERS WOULD MAKE A
MINORITY GOVERNMENT ILLEGITIMATE AND ITS PROCLAMATIONS
UNENFORCEABLE…THAT’S ANARCHY SOME WOULD ARGUE..BUT ONE
COULD COUNTER ARGUE THAT THE PRESENT ELECTORAL PROCESS HAS
PRODUCED A GOVERNMENT OF ANARCHISTS THAT REFUSES TO ENFORCE
ANTI TRUST LAWS..WAR POWERS LAWS ETC…THE SYSTEM HAS BEEN GAMED
BY SLICK SOPHISTS..GARBED IN BUSINESS ETHICS THAT EMBRACE ..ON MY
HONOR I WILL DO MY BEST TO HELP MYSELF AND CHEAT THE REST..

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tropicgirl's avatar

By tropicgirl, September 9, 2011 at 5:13 pm Link to this comment

Lofgren, you are an example of what people are sick to death of. A staffer???? Really… you are the Washington machine. You are the ones that intimidate the people that THE PEOPLE sent to tell YOU what to do… But you don’t get that.

What happened? No one paid you off enough?

Government IS the problem. The Founding Fathers and every good president predicted that, and your type of filth.

You are the machine. Kill the machine.

You don’t have to be a republican or a conservative to realize that YOU are a major part of the problem.

28 years of screwing the American people that pay your salary. Good effin riddance. Crawl into your Satan-cave now.

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By ardee, September 9, 2011 at 3:25 pm Link to this comment

These voters’ confusion over who did what allows them to form the conclusion that ‘they are all crooks,’ and that ‘government is no good,’ further leading them to think, ‘a plague on both your houses’ and ‘the parties are like two kids in a school yard.’

An uniformed or ill informed electorate cannot help but make poor choices. The only message getting out with any degree of regularity is coming from the far right. Every republican speaks with the same voice and thus even the most ridiculous of supposed facts remain in the voters mind.

Imagine if there was an actual two party system, I know its a stretch but try anyway. When a member of the GOP stepped up with the latest drivel one might find an opposition party or its leader speaking to the real truths of that particular nonsense, thus a dichotomy would be present and the voter would at least have a choice of what to believe.

Just imagine…..

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By gerard, September 9, 2011 at 2:17 pm Link to this comment

A word to the wise Truthdiggers who advocate not voting as a protest: 

(Quoting Lofgren): “There are tens of millions of low-information voters who hardly know which party controls which branch of government, let alone which party is pursuing a particular legislative tactic. These voters’ confusion over who did what allows them to form the conclusion that ‘they are all crooks,’ and that ‘government is no good,’ further leading them to think, ‘a plague on both your houses’ and ‘the parties are like two kids in a school yard.’ This ill-informed public cynicism, in its turn, further intensifies the long-term decline in public trust in government that has been taking place since the early 1960s - a distrust that has been stoked by Republican rhetoric at every turn (“Government is the problem,” declared Ronald Reagan in 1980).”

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