Start with an important essay from political scientist and long-time Congress observer Norm Ornstein: “Worst. Congress. Ever.” It’s good and important, but I don’t think the framing is right. I tend to think it’s the GOP that’s broken, not Congress. The problem isn’t so much ideological polarization along with divided government; it’s a party that promotes policy ignorance and hostility to normal democratic bargaining. But read Ornstein’s article anyway.

More good stuff:

1. Nate Silver on the disappearing moderate Republican governors (and their unpopular conservative replacements).

2. The real problem for liberals? Amanda Marcotte correctly identifies it (hint: it isn’t Barack Obama).

3. David Atkins has excellent advice for activists. Parties matter. I’d add, however, that working for candidates or party-aligned groups is often as good or better than working directly for formal party organizations. But he’s right: Change happens at the party level.

4. Ed Kilgore on Michele Bachmann’s troubles ahead. Also, Tim Murphy on Bachmann and the home schoolers, and a really useful and balanced piece by Sarah Posner on Bachmann’s religion — and why some of the scare stories should be approached with caution. You want something on another candidate? Sorry, not this time.

5. Budget stuff: Actually, spending cuts in previous budget deals have been quite real, reports Tim Fernholz. Adam Ozimek has a compilation of sane conservatives who tell the truth about the debt limit. And Matt Yglesias has an excellent post on the long-term budget picture and health care.

6. Conor Friedersdorf advises Mike Lee.

7. And the chart of the day, courtesy of Kevin Drum.