There’s an important story in The Atlantic written for anyone who loves this country, or who plans on living in it for the next 20 years or so.

It’s written by Michael Lofgren, a respected Congressional staffer who worked for Republican legislators on defense and budget issues for nearly 30 years before retiring this summer. 

Lofgren explains what is REALLY going on. Unfortunately, it doesn’t explain what we can do to stop the craziness, except vote. In large numbers. In every election.  

Below is an excerpt. Click on the link for the rest. This story is long but well worth the time.

Goodbye to All That: 
Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult
September 2011by: Mike Lofgren, Truthout | News Analysis 

Barbara Stanwyck: "We're both rotten!"

Fred MacMurray: "Yeah - only you're a little more rotten." -"Double Indemnity" (1944)

Those lines of dialogue from a classic film noir sum up the state of the two political parties in contemporary America. Both parties are rotten - how could they not be, given the complete infestation of the political system by corporate money on a scale that now requires a presidential candidate to raise upwards of a billion dollars to be competitive in the general election? Both parties are captives to corporate loot. The main reason the Democrats' health care bill will be a budget buster once it fully phases in is the Democrats' rank capitulation to corporate interests - no single-payer system, in order to mollify the insurers; and no negotiation of drug prices, a craven surrender to Big Pharma.

But both parties are not rotten in quite the same way. The Democrats have their share of machine politicians, careerists, corporate bagmen, egomaniacs and kooks. Nothing, however, quite matches the modern GOP.

To those millions of Americans who have finally begun paying attention to politics and watched with exasperation the tragicomedy of the debt ceiling extension, it may have come as a shock that the Republican Party is so full of lunatics. To be sure, the party, like any political party on earth, has always had its share of crackpots, like Robert K. Dornan or William E. Dannemeyer. But the crackpot outliers of two decades ago have become the vital center today: Steve King, Michele Bachman (now a leading presidential candidate as well), Paul Broun, Patrick McHenry, Virginia Foxx, Louie Gohmert, Allen West. The Congressional directory now reads like a casebook of lunacy.

It was this cast of characters and the pernicious ideas they represent that impelled me to end a nearly 30-year career as a professional staff member on Capitol Hill. A couple of months ago, I retired; but I could see as early as last November that the Republican Party would use the debt limit vote, an otherwise routine legislative procedure that has been used 87 times since the end of World War II, in order to concoct an entirely artificial fiscal crisis. Then, they would use that fiscal crisis to get what they wanted, by literally holding the US and global economies as hostages.

Here's an excellent follow up to 24 Tweets, from The New Yorker:

Let your voice be heard. Contact Congress today.

The sleepy little district on the east side of the Hudson River, north of New York City, was lucky enough to get some federal funding to fix infrastructure that probably had been broken since the time of Rip Van Winkle. Then, what did they go and do? They elected a Tea Party candidate who promised to banish earmarks.

Guess they thought earmarks were expensive gifts to other people, you know, like those city folk who seem to have so much to begin with. Kind of like "Government, get your hands off my Medicare."
From The New York Times
February 4, 2011

District Liked Its Earmarks, Then Elected Someone Who Didn’t
By Raymond Hernandez

In the villages, towns and cities of the 19th Congressional District north of New York City, the signs of federal largess are all over: money for a library in South Salem, road improvements in Peekskill, renovations on an aging old bridge in Dover and a communications network for the Police Department in Tuxedo.

The projects have drawn strong support from community activists, business leaders and local politicians of both major parties. But the stream of federal money that has long financed such purchases, in this Hudson Valley district and elsewhere in the nation, is about to dry up.

And some residents of the district may be surprised to learn who one of the main instigators is: Nan Hayworth, the district’s new representative, who was swept into office last fall along with other  Tea Party-backed candidates bent on changing Washington’s way of doing business.

Congress, prodded by outspoken newcomers like Ms. Hayworth, this week essentially imposed a temporary ban on earmarks, money for projects that individual lawmakers slip into major Congressional budget bills to cater to local demands. 

For the complete story, go to:

In anticipation of tomorrow's State of the Union message, fellow blogger Citizen K looks back at the right wing's snarling critique of President Obama's attempt last week to heal the nation's wounds after the Tucson shootings.  

For at least two days after Obama's non-political speech, the ugliness that surrounded us receded ever-so-slightly. Some naive souls may even have thought it could continue. But no, as long as a black man is in the White House, opposition will remain vicious, even at the expense of our national security and well being. I don't expect anything less after tomorrow's nationwide event.

I could go on and on, but nobody nail's it like Citizen K. If you're still laughing at or secretly wishing to emulate the antics of Joe and Josephine Sixpack, America's gun-loving, anti-elitist heroes of right-wing extremists and GOP hopefuls, I urge you to click below to read Rush to Judgment:

You heard it here first -- the campaign begins! Whatever.