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July 13, 2010

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Seriously, haven't we dealt with this nonsense already?

The Myth Of The Filibuster

As both Reid's memo and Dove explain, only one Republican would need to monitor the Senate floor. If the majority party tried to move to a vote, he could simply say, "I suggest the absence of a quorum." Story continues below

The presiding officer would then be required to call the roll. When that finished, the Senator could again notice the absence of a quorum and start the process all over. At no point would the obstructing Republican be required to defend his position, read from the phone book or any of the other things people associate with the Hollywood version of a filibuster.

"You cannot force senators to talk during a filibuster," says Dove. "Delay in the Senate is not difficult and, frankly, the only way to end it is through cloture.",

There was lots of talk about this during what passed for HCR debate. Billions of pixels were wasted on why and how it should and could, or shouldn't and couldn't, happen.

I'm with Sebastian (a very rare thing). Make 'em talk. One wonders how long the old-fashioned filibusters would have lasted if there had been C-SPAN!

No, that isn't how it works. Once you have confirmed a quorum, you can't request it again unless there has been intervening business. Also my understanding is that asking for a quorum call is yielding the floor, and you only get two times to speak.

But yes, you have to maintain a quorum for the two or three days it will take if Republicans are serious about a real filibuster (which of course they wouldn't be on unemployment). So, stop being lazy Democratic Senators...

Also, Chuchundra, even if you were right, make them do that. Make a youtube of Senator so and so calling for a quorum 75 times rather than allowing a vote on unemployment benefits with a tag line saying "This is how Republicans think they can fix the country's economic problems. If you don't think that calling for a list of names every 5 minutes is as productive as protecting people's unemployment, vote for 'X' for Senate".

Chuchundra, thanks for that link. Very interesting read.

if the Dems were to "make them talk" on this, the GOP would do the talking and the Dems would break. and then when the next bill came up, they'd threaten to do it again. and the Dems would cave. and we'd be right back to where we are now.

if the Dems were serious about governing, they'd get rid of the filibuster completely. 50 votes is a good enough threshold for legislation. right now, the Senate is broken. anti-Democratic and dysfunctional.

"if the Dems were serious about governing, they'd get rid of the filibuster completely. 50 votes is a good enough threshold for legislation. right now, the Senate is broken. anti-Democratic and dysfunctional."

Except 51% of Americans(and trending up) would prefer a Republican Congress to keep a check on Obama's spending policies, so 18 months of complaining about how undemocratic the filibuster is suddenly seems as partisan as when Republicans used to complain about it.

Marty, everyone knows that the Republicans have a 41 vote majority in the Senate already.

Except 51% of Americans(and trending up) would prefer a Republican Congress to keep a check on Obama's spending policies

51%US: "Give me a check on Obama's spending policies or give me death!"

Republican41: "How about we give you both?"

First make it mandatory for filibustering senators to wear full filibuster attire and to change their names for the debate to 'captain'+[name]+'beard'.

Except 51% of Americans(and trending up) would prefer a Republican Congress to keep a check on Obama's spending policies

and that's 100% irrelevant.

the makeup of the current Senate was decided in 2008. you'll get a chance to change it in November.

so 18 months of complaining about how undemocratic the filibuster is suddenly seems as partisan as when Republicans used to complain about it.

all things being equal, you'd have a point. all things are not equal - as you probably know.


2009-2010 75 cloture motions filed
2007-2008 139 cloture motions filed
2005-2006 68 cloture motions filed
2003-2004 62 cloture motions filed

guess what changed between 2006 and 2007.

which is to say: the GOP has abused the practice to a point where the Senate no longer functions as intended. it is broken, by the GOP's hand, and you should know this.

Except 51% of Americans(and trending up) would prefer a Republican Congress to keep a check on Obama's spending policies

do you have a cite for this? because...

A possibly better strategy for the Dems would be to simply ignore delaying tactics by the Republicans and invite the Republicans to simply take it up with the parliamentarian if they don't like it, and fire the parliamentarian if he starts interfering with the Democrats or siding too often with the Republicans. This won't work in all cases, but certain things like canceling hearings because they occur after 2pm or denying unanimous consent for every single thing can simply be ignored by the committee chairs with an invitation to Republicans to find someone else to appeal to if they don't like that their tantrums aren't being obeyed.

The problem is that Senators care more about their personal relationships with other senators than the workings of government. I get the impression that the senators like to stay in each other's good graces rather than ending up taking personal offense to their tantrums.

"Except 51% of Americans would prefer ........"

Sorry.

The government has been deliberately broken by the Republican Beast and therefore the 51% (regardless of what they "prefer") no longer have civilized, democratic institutions with which to carry out their popular will.

All civilized bets are off.


The usual report regarding Senate business these days is "Republicans have threatened to filibuster..." Think about that a minute -- someone (presumably the Republican Party leadership in the Senate, but it doesn't actually matter who) has made a threat.

What is the recommended response to a threat (i.e. to extortion) in any context, not just in the Senate? Well, it definitely isn't to give in to the threat -- because all that does is encourage repeated threats, as we have seen in the Senate lately. No, the recommended response is to refuse to give the extortionist what he wants.

So Sebastian has pretty much nailed it: make them deliver on their threat. After all, what are the alternatives:
1) make them actually filibuster, until all of those willing to actually make the effort have exhausted themselves. Nothing gets done for a while (perhaps even weeks), but in the end you get a vote and move on.
2) give up every time there is a threat, and nothing gets done at all.

So, get things done very slowly, or not at all. Which do the Democrats really prefer? If "not at all" is their preference, then they deserve whatever the voters do to them.

Except 51% of Americans would prefer

Marty, it's one poll, and the results contradict themselves.

A possibly better strategy for the Dems would be to simply ignore delaying tactics by the Republicans and invite the Republicans to simply take it up with the parliamentarian if they don't like it, and fire the parliamentarian if he starts interfering with the Democrats or siding too often with the Republicans

Or, they could simply round them up and put them in a dungeon somewhere. That would work, too.

/sarcasm.

I'm not sure how forcing the democrats to be locked in the senate chambers freezing the actions of government will be bad for republicans. A handful of republicans need to be in the chambers, while all the democrats will have to be. Since freezing the government is exactly what the republicans want, the democrats would be doing exactly what the republicans want. What power does the filibuster have over the republicans?

A real filibuster can't last indefinitely because a Senator only gets two chances to speak. The idea that this shuts down the Senate indefinitely depends on the idea that every single Senator in the Republican delegation is willing to go up and 'debate' against unemployment benefits for hours on end.

But in reality I would be shocked if the number is as great as 10 and wouldn't be surprised if the number were actually zero. You can get the entire caucus to vote against cloture because it is easy, practically invisible, and if called on it you can tell your constituents that the matter just hadn't been debated 'enough' yet. But pulling off a real filibuster with no cloture vote proposed by the other side requires that you have people dedicated to actually, publicly, do it. And if Democrats chose their battle wisely, only a very few Republicans would do it, those that did would look awful, and they could be used to tar the other Republicans on the issue at hand AND on cloture votes for the future.

It requires that you keep a quorum available. A quorum is 51 Senators. The Democrats have access to 59. Go out to eat in shifts. Nap with earplugs. Take a few days and break the filibuster.

I'm not sure how forcing the democrats to be locked in the senate chambers freezing the actions of government will be bad for republicans.

I'm not sure what the function of legislators outside of the chambers of legislature could be. Also: Congress and government aren't synonymous. Not even close.

Still, there's a point to be made that when two conservatives (Sebastian and I, for instance) agree upon a course of action for Democrats, that course of action must immediately be suspect. I don't blame anyone for reflexively opposing. I'm just wondering what the response would have been if it had been Eric, for instance, recommending this course of action. Which in turn makes me want to ask. Eric? What say you?

I'm just wondering what the response would have been if it had been Eric, for instance, recommending this course of action.

This: WTF's up with Eric today? ;)

But you need access to all 59 for the case when one republican hints that he's ready for break the filibuster. Moreover, keeping even 50 senators in the chamber round the clock is relatively rough. And promising to give the republicans an opportunity to speak continuously certainly wouldn't upset them. In addition, you free up all the republicans other than the few needed onhand to keep the filibuster going to go out and speak on news shows or campaign. Most to all of the democrats are stuck in the senate chamber.

And once you break a filibuster on one issue, you haven't broken it on anything else. So you might be able to push a single issue through, but that doesn't address the massive backlog of issues holding back legislation in the senate.

I also find it crazy to think that republicans wouldn't take the chance to vote against popular issues, because that's a rather accurate description of everything they've been doing. They are vocally opposing UI benefits currently, for example. Doing so on C-Span doesn't seem like it would hurt them any more than doing so on meet the press or the other sunday shows.

People seem to think this is a bad idea, Sebastian. I'm not hearing any better ones that don't make heavy use of wishful thinking, though.

I think it's a good idea, Slarti. Unfortunately, you're pitching it to a party that is incapable of making hay out of hay.

O.K.

I'll do one more civilized bet and endorse Sebastian's and Slart's suggested course of action for the Democrats.

But I'd like 30 days to get my encampments in place along the Potomac.

I'm aware that this will give Sarah Death Palin, Dickless Armey, and Error Errorson 30 days time to ready Tea Party and Redstate encampments on the other side of the river.

Start the clock.


"But you need access to all 59 for the case when one republican hints that he's ready for break the filibuster."

No you don't. The last person willing to speak, speaks. The filibuster ends. You note a quorum. You take the vote.

The cloture vote is only to close debate when someone who has not already spoken twice wishes to speak.

"And promising to give the republicans an opportunity to speak continuously certainly wouldn't upset them."

You aren't promising anything. You are attempting to make a vote, which is only interrupted by other legislators trying to debate.

"And once you break a filibuster on one issue, you haven't broken it on anything else."

So you say. But once you've forced it down you've shown that filibustering can't just be a threat. It has to be a practice of being willing to go the mat. You *assume* that 49 Republicans are willing to go to the mat every time for everything. But the only reason you assume that is because Democrats haven't tested that resolve in decades.

"I also find it crazy to think that republicans wouldn't take the chance to vote against popular issues, because that's a rather accurate description of everything they've been doing. "

Filibustering and voting are not the same thing. The whole reason we are in this mess is that we are letting people effectively filibuster with an easy an near-anonymous vote. The problem is that you are analyzing filibustering as if it were voting. It isn't.

With 40 Republicans, I'm going to assume that you get a quarter of them to actively oppose any given issue. With 2 times to speak, that's 20 speaking opportunities. Assuming they each take 8 hour speaking shifts, a bit extreme maybe, that's still an entire week to pass a single issue. What's the disincentive for the Republicans not to do the exact same thing again next week? Even among the filibustering members, they still get to sleep at home. They get to go on TV. They might have to do something embarrassing like wear a diaper.

Finding a reason to say they are against any bill is easy. Just make something up. Claim the bill funds forced communist training camps or something. Bills are too complex to ever be squeaky clean, and even if it were, lies are easy.

Now, what's the disincentive from the Democrats side? Well, even with the somewhat loose extra few members, most of the party still has to stay. Its going to be taxing on the membership. I don't see how this hurts the Republicans or backs them down from voting for a filibuster in the future. It could even backfire by setting an even higher standard for what must now be done to pass legislation if it shows how easy this is for the minority party.

So what again is the cost for the minority party?

I agree with Sebastian. The idea that it's an inconceivable hardship for 51 Senators to sit in the chamber for a few grueling days - even a few grueling days per bill if the Republicans didn't back down after the first one - is beyond lame. It is insulting. Senators are paid $175,000 for the privilege of serving the people of their state in Congress. They achieve that position voluntarily and by soliciting the votes of their state citizens by promising to serve their interests.

I think I could round up 51 random Americans who would be willing to put in some hard all-nighters for a few days or a week to get some progressive legislation passed. I'd do it. That our elected representatives won't is a pretty good demonstration that they think of themselves as an elected aristocracy and not servants of the people.

I have read the Reid memo and as far as I can tell it is so much self-serving horseshit. Certainly the failure to even try is pretty pathetic. None of the legislation you were sent to Washington to pass is worth even trying to beat a Republican filibuster? Thanks for taking our concerns seriously, guys.

Reid self serving? Tell me it ain't so, Joe!

Although I watch enough C-Span it would be good entertainment for a few days.

Certainly the failure to even try is pretty pathetic.

[Roy Batty]THAT'S THE SPIRIT![/Roy Batty]

My suggestion has always been to adopt a revision to the cloture rule such that a cloture motion will pass on majority vote, provided 39 or fewer senators vote 'no'. That would reverse the burden to the minority by requiring all 40 'no' votes to be on hand and on record, instead of requiring 60 'yes' votes.

"It is an emergency measure, with a theoretically legitimate use to keep an under-debated topic under consideration for debate."

Look, the truth is that the filibuster was a way of giving power to a minority of racist senators to prevent the passage of civil rights legislation. For generations, that's all it was used for. The unspoken deal was that the southern Senators could use it to preserve Jim Crow but not for anything else. That was the only way to keep them in the Democratic Party and voting with the Democrats on other issues. It had nothing to do with emergencies or matters of individual conscience.

Now that the arrangement for the permanent oppression of black people has been abandoned and the southern Senators have all moved over to the Republican side, there's no "legitimate" use for the filibuster.

So what again is the cost for the minority party?

Four words:

C.
Span.
You.
Tube.

The GOBP has been getting away with this snit precisely because there haven't been any consequences, because only we politics junkies even know what's going on.

We are (more's the pity) a distinctly small subset of the electorate.

Experience more than sufficiently teaches that men govern nothing with more difficulty than their
tongues. Do you think so?

A tongue in the ear is worth two in the mouth.

And yet the bitten tongue doth rage against the biting.

Experience governs its tongue too well, for it seems mute and I cannot hear, it having chosen silence as its teaching.

Experience more than sufficiently teaches that men govern nothing with more difficulty than their tongues.

Spoken like a guy who never owned a cat.

Or a mule.

So what again is the cost for the minority party?

What efgoldman said.

I bet not many Senators are eager to speak for 8 hours straight, two times, with the cameras rolling.

They are going to be tired. They are going to say lots of stupid and irrelevant and just plain blatantly false things. They are going to be incredibly repetitive.

The Democrats, if they have any political sense at all, will have a gold mine of video for attack ads - "Look at what Foghorn said," etc. Journalists will have a gold mine of questions - "Woud you tell us which section of the bill calls for re-education camps?"

No. It won't be attractive at all.

Okay, I'm sold. Pick something important that's being blocked and give it a try. Why the hell not? Even if the Republicans (threaten to) filibuster again and the Dems just cave, it's one victory as opposed to none.

But republicans say dumb things all the time. Do you not remember all the crazy stuff said about the health care bill? How about the bashing of the unemployed going on by republicans right now? Sure, it'll run on C-Span, maybe the daily show will pick up something really funny, etc. But how is that different from now? Just because the republicans are filibustering doesn't mean that the public will care. C-Span ratings won't skyrocket.

And you think the press will suddenly get a backbone? Really? That's rather unrealistic.

You don't need the press to get a backbone, you need the Democrats to get a backbone. They can run commercials with fun footage from the filibuster.

The fear, I suspect, is that the Republicans might NOT say something stupid. They might say something the public would agree with, and the drama of a filibuster might result in it actually being covered. The Democratic strategy is to ram things through without too much exposure of the details of what's being rammed through, and a filibuster might seriously interfere with that strategy.

And, of course, Senators view being required to actually show up for work as an outrage, not to be born. Stuff like that is for House members...

That's why you pick something clear. The unemployment benefit thing is an excellent example. The arguments against it are weak. Almost every economist agrees with extending the benefits. Almost every economist agrees that it is much more important than deficits.

Thats the policy argument.

The political argument is that opposing it tends to make Republicans look heartless, and pushing on the issue is likely to gain voters that are actually in play rather than lose them. It is difficult to imagine that you would lose any net voters who were in play.

The fear, I suspect, is that the Republicans might NOT say something stupid.

I defy anyone to talk for sixteen hours, in two eight hour sessions with only a short time between them, and not say something stupid.

Further, I agree with malraux that the Republicans say stupid things all the time, as well as things that just aren't true. They say them when they are refreshed and have plenty of time to prepare and only have to talk for few minutes. Anyone who is afraid they are going to turn into Steinbrenner level geniuses (just kidding, dr ngo) needs to get out of politics and go cower in a corner somewhere.

I also agree with Sebastian:

You don't need the press to get a backbone, you need the Democrats to get a backbone. They can run commercials with fun footage from the filibuster.

"The Democratic strategy is to ram things through without too much exposure of the details of what's being rammed through, and a filibuster might seriously interfere with that strategy."

Man, remember how there was no debate about the health care bill, or the stimulus, and how the Republicans were dedicated to exposing the death panels and government jackbooted bureaucrats involved in those, but were completely locked out of any venue to express their concerns other than standing up and talking for hours on the floor of the Senate? And how the Republicans and the few, oppressed conservative media outlets were the only places where people could find the details of these bills?

But right now republicans are speaking out against unemployment benefits. The last time it came down to an actual vote, the republicans voted against the benefits. They don't get attacked by the press currently for the lies or the heartlessness. Why would a filibuster make things different?

Moreover, IIRC, the most recent unemployment extension had a bunch of extra stuff in the bill as to get some of the democrats on board. All it takes is one out of context hypothetical in that to give the GOP a drum to beat. I just don't see how this ends up being a downside for the GOP.

"But right now republicans are speaking out against unemployment benefits. The last time it came down to an actual vote, the republicans voted against the benefits. They don't get attacked by the press currently for the lies or the heartlessness. Why would a filibuster make things different?"

Because a vote is just a vote. Filibustering requires that you talk for hours.

Ok, assuming you consider speaking for a long period of time to be really really strenuous, how do you evaluate being forced to stick around in a single room for days at a time listening to lots of people speak? All the democrats will have to go through that, whereas only one republican at a time has to do the talk forever thing. The costs of speaking are going to be mostly borne by the democrats with no real downside to the republicans. Heck, the republicans probably come out ahead just because they lock their opposition out of active fundraising and staff meetings, while the republicans get to keep going.

The better solution is just to abolish the filibuster at the start of the next congress. I don't believe it serves any useful purpose. Certainly the possible good it does is far outweighed by the bad it has done.

You don't actually have to listen to them.

Each senator may speak twice per day, so 51 senators need to remain in the senate until 41 senators have each spoken twice. I think claims that senators would be unwilling to participate in the filibuster by speaking for some period of time are complete over-optimistic fantasy. Perhaps some senators would only be willing to talk for an hour or two each time, but I suspect most would be willing to talk for 4 hours at least, and some would be willing to talk for 8 hours. They don't even have to talk on subject if they don't want to, they can just get up their and talk about their grand kids or about how things were better in America when they were growing up, and why do the Democrats want to tear down America. Or the can read prepared statements rehearsed with their staffers before hand (and you don't get to the senate without being able to read a prepared speech). Let's say 20 talk for 2 hours twice, 10 talk for 4 hours twice, and 10 talk for 8 hours twice. That would be 320 hours (15 DAYS) of Republican senators talking uninterrupted, most of them only having to stay on the senate floor for 4 hours on a given day, and only 1 Republican senator being required to be on the floor at a time. Meanwhile, the Democratic senators need to spend a little more than 20 hours a day on the floor of the senate, for fifteen days.

And that fifteen day monologue by the Republicans on why extending unemployment benefits will bring about the end of the world gets to be the filibuster on the vote to begin debate on extending unemployment benefits. Once the Republicans run out of their two speeches each, the vote can no longer be prevented, and a vote is held to begin debate on extending unemployment benefits. This is a new subject, so each senator gets to speak twice, which takes another fifteen days. And an employment extension finally passes.

Meanwhile, the Republican senators, who don't need to be in the senate for 90% of the time, are free to raise money off of their impressive showing, are free to go on television and make the case for what they are doing to the public, are free to go on television and explain away whatever gaffs their colleagues make in their senate speeches, while the Democrats are all either maintaining quorum or getting their 4 hours of allotted time when they don't have to be on the senate floor.

At the end of this, with the Democrats physically exhausted and cash poor, why would it be the Republicans who would look at that and decide that it wasn't worth doing again?

When the cadre of filibusterers was only 10 people who were really committed and 24 who were willing to let them tie up the floor, you could break a filibuster, but the Republicans march in lockstep, and it is the Democrats who couldn't be sure of holding their numbers together. Are Ben Nelson and Lieberman and Landrieu and Lincoln really going to put in their 20 hours on the floor every day for a month? I seriously doubt it. That leaves 55 Dems at most who will do the job, so they need to spend more like 22 hours a day on the floor for a month.

malraux is right. Abolish the filibuster at the start of the next senate. Blaming the Democrats for not fulfilling your unrealistic fantasies about how to overcome a committed opposition is just silly.

The main (legitimate) use of the filibuster these days is stopping exremist candidates esp. for SCOTUS. There are worse things than Bork lurking in the dark, ready to attack when the judicial filibuster falls. As I have said repeatedly in the past: Change the 'consent' rule for judges/justices first. My proposals:
1) candidates that get more than 50% but less than 60%(or better 2/3) are only temporary
2) temporary justices cannot set or overturn precedent
3) mandatory retirement age combined with strict anti-cash-in rules.
Personally I would prefer a strict rotation scheme with one justice (the longest serving, if no other vacancy opens) being replaced every year. I'd also increase the number of justices to 12 with the possibility to decide 'minor' cases with one group of six (anything touching precedent only by full panel).

"Man, remember how there was no debate about the health care bill, or the stimulus"

Man, remember how we had to pass the bill to find out what was in it? Remember how transparency was one of the first promises Obama violated?

"temporary justices cannot set or overturn precedent"

Hartmut, the problem with that is that justices frequently overturn precedent without admitting that's what they're doing. See, for instance, how the Beach Renourishment case overturned a century of Florida land law, with the justices in the case insisting that the law had always been what they changed it to. If they can tell you the interstate commerce clause reaches what grows in your garden, claiming they're not really overturning precedent is no challenge at all.

The essential problem with judicial appointments is that, since the Court became a way of winning political fights, not just a referee in the fight, the two parties' conception of what constitutes not merely a good, but a minimally acceptable, justice, has become disjoint. To some extent this can be papered over for the lower courts, where they're constrained by higher court precedent, but it comes to the fore at the Supreme court.

There is no basis for compromise anymore.

'Reform', (I think the word should be abolished in favor of the neutral 'change'.) can result in one party prevailing over the other, but it won't eliminate this fundamental conflict. And if it results in Democrats prevailing when they have the majority, it will result in Republicans prevailing when THEY have the majority.

And in both cases it will be nothing but an extension of the political battle.

I fear I have to mostly agree.
Btw, I prefer our system where precedent has no binding force at all. It* tends to have the same pernicious tendencies as 'tradition' in the RCC. The connection to the original law/intent/etc. can get pretty shaky over time to put it mildly.

*binding precedent

Man, remember how we had to pass the bill to find out what was in it?

the text of the bill(s) were available for everyone to read.

Remember how transparency was one of the first promises Obama violated?

Obama didn't write the bill, Congress did.

"Man, remember how we had to pass the bill to find out what was in it? Remember how transparency was one of the first promises Obama violated?"

You mean the text of the bills, that was available to the public, press, and senators? While the Republicans spent six months grandstanding about "death panels" and negotiating in bad faith by pretending they might vote for a bill nearly identical to the one they proposed back in the Clinton administration, if only this little thing were changed, and then saying "whoops, nevermind, I won't!" when the change was made, and then pretending that things were going much too quickly, after the bill had been under debate for months and months? Why, if it weren't for those brave, patriotic Republican Senators, citizens might have the choice to replace their health insurance bureaucrat who gets a bonus by denying their claims with an option for a government bureaucrat with death panels!

If you want to criticize the health care bill, there's plenty of ways to do it, but claiming it was rammed down our throats without debate is definitely not one of them.

Hartmut, the problem with that is that justices frequently overturn precedent without admitting that's what they're doing.

Like they just did in McDonald v. Chicago, which I am not the only person (probably) who noticed you decided not to use as an example, instead using a decision that nobody gives a crap about.

You mean the text of the bills, that was available to the public, press, and senators?

i'm kindof excited to see his response!

i'm not up to date with my wingnut talking points, so i suspect this is a new RepubliFact, with a laughingly absurd argument behind it.

maybe we can spend two days unraveling it!

I'm pretty sure Brett was talking about ARRA, not the health care bill. The full conference report on ARRA wasn't available until the evening before the final votes were scheduled, due to somee last-minute confusion about what had been agreed to in the conference committee.

that would be disappointing.

Yes, I know arguing with Brett will go nowhere. His main purpose is just to repeat talking points.

But even if he was talking about ARRA, a) one bill does not a "the Democratic strategy" make and b) Both parts of Congress had passed broadly similar bills, so the final text of the conference report doesn't mean the bill was "secret".

Considering Charles S | July 16, 2010 at 05:15 AM, it could be difficult to impossible to break the filibuster short of cloture. I do recall Sebastian, I'm pretty sure (without testing my google fu), once writing that there was a 3-day limit on the filibuster, but that doesn't appear to be the case after some (very) cursory research.

My question is, at least to Sebastian, did you formulate the position expressed in your post based on the assumption that the filibuster was time-limited to 3 days (or something other than whatever limits there are on each speaker's allotted time)?

All the commentary about Democrats being unable to respond because they are tied up in the Senate chambers seems wrong.

There are Democrats from the House who could go on TV and talk about what was going on, right?

There is even a Democrat in the White House who could do it...

But, that aside, what about having to maintain at least 51 senators in the chamber for 15 days, possibly?

There is even a Democrat in the White House who could do it

i dunno. i've been told repeatedly that having the president speak about matters which are out of his direct control is a waste of time and would make him sound like an "angry black man". so, no. Obama can't do it.

Lots of things are possible. This idea that every single Republican Senator will want to very publicly embarrass themselves over a carefully chosen issue like unemployment benefits seems completely unfounded. Right now they can hide facelessly behind an arcane procedural vote. So it is politically easy to go along with the caucus. Everything Reid has done has made Republican choices virtually costless.

Make them cost.

Is it *possible* that every single Republican will do it. Yes. Is it *realistic* to assume so if Democrats actually make it cost? Not at all. Politicians hate paying the costs for their votes. If Republicans have to publicly obstruct instead of facelessly obstruct, you have a completely different dynamic, and the monolithic bloc structure of the Republican caucus can't be assumed.

The thing that irks me the most is that Democrats won't even try. Rather than face the stupid procedural games with actual political cost, they want to respond with counter-procedural games.

From a political perspective, does anyone here believe that net votes in play that would even vaguely consider voting Democratic would be turned off of Democrats by Republican filibustering? It is really hard to believe.

Make them cost.

IMVHO this is absolutely 100% right on.

If all it takes to make the Republicans put up or shut up is for all of the Democratic members of the Senate to sit in a room for a couple of days listening to random blather, I'd call it a no-brainer.

Do it.

Make them stand up and talk until they can't hold their freaking p*ss any longer.

Make it cost them something.

people have been calling Reid to "make them do it" since 2006.

maybe it's time to give up on that dream.

That would be fine if there was some strong indication that Reid had some other effective response in mind.

Is there any such indication? So far as I can tell his response is: let them filibuster everything until my caucus loses seats at the midterm.

That doesn't strike me as effective.

i can't name many people who have ever called Reid or the Dems "effective".

"weak", "undisciplined", "spineless", "cowed", "out of touch", "insulated", sure. but "effective" ? no.

i've been told repeatedly that having the president speak about matters which are out of his direct control is a waste of time and would make him sound like an "angry black man". so, no. Obama can't do it.

OTOH folks who think that way weren't voting for or with Obama to begin with. So, not sure what your point is.

OTOH folks who think that way weren't voting for or with Obama to begin with.

nope. they were all lefties.

So are you suggesting that this would be more effective, but Democrats won't do it because they don't want to be more effective?

maybe it's time to give up on that dream

So, we're full-circle back to bellyaching as your best tactic.

Maybe it's time to give up on that dream, eh?

maybe it's time to give up on that dream.

Believe me when I tell you that I have no expectation that the Democrats will ever force Republicans to actually stand and deliver.

My comment above is simply to agree with Seb's basic point.

It's quite possible for the Democrats to force a real fillibuster, and it would be very useful if they did so.

But you are quite right, it ain't gonna happen.

So are you suggesting that this would be more effective, but Democrats won't do it because they don't want to be more effective?

i have not even the slightest clue as to what goes on in Harry Reid's head. but it's clear that forcing a real filibuster is not on his agenda. nor is being a forceful ruthless advocate for his party.

that's obvious, right?

So, we're full-circle back to bellyaching as your best tactic.

my tactic? WTF do i have to do with the way the Senate works ?

I guess I'm not resigned to what is currently in Reid's head. I think it was pretty clear that dealing with DADT wasn't high on Democrats' priority list, but when the HRC started having people refuse to show up to Democratic fundraisers over it, there was more movement.

What I don't understand is why it isn't high on Democrats' list. They pretty much can't do anything at this point. Unless they want to be unable to do anything (which I suppose is possible, but if true means you shouldn't waste time supporting them) why isn't this a big deal for them?

Because the Democrats in office don't want Fox News to say mean things about them.

Which Fox News will do anyway, which makes the whole charade so pointless.

why isn't this a big deal for them?

man, i wish i knew the answer. the fecklessness of Senate Dems is frustrating and baffling to everyone.

Again, this will cost the democrats much much more than it costs the republicans. Right now, republicans are more than willing to say publicly how horrible it would be to extend unemployment. Right now, republicans will vote no on extending unemployment; not the "arcane" cloture vote, but the actual vote on on unemployment extension. How does forcing them to filibuster make things worse for them? At most, it means they have to do exactly what they have been willing to do before, just more of it. How does a youtube video of a senator reading the phone book hurt them? I'm not seeing the republican pain.

At the same time, the democrats have to force strong control over their caucus, because the worst thing to have happen would be for the republicans to succeed. But remove the blue dogs and those who wouldn't stand for such personal inconvenience and you've made life really rather rough for all the democrats. No fundraising, no campaign planning meetings, no meeting with donors, etc. Stuff that's actually kinda important right now, with a tough election coming up.

Again, the best solution to this problem is to trash the filibuster. Even if it does allow a few extremist judges onto the bench, that's balanced by the damage that a 60 vote majority causes.

Changing the rules of the filibuster is all very well, but pop over to Redstate and read the latest fever-dream diary by one Gary Bentley entitled: "Revolution or Civil War: The Choice Is Ours".

These people are planning on killing all of us.

Read the comments, too. Interesting .... gigantic militias overthrowing the government and aided and abetted by defecting elements in the military.

All of this on a political website with self-proclaimed vast influence in the Republican Party and indeed, side-by-side with guest posts by Republicans serving (we need some new words) in Congress.

I notice Moe Lane hasn't weighed in yet in the comments with the usual calming influence of an accessory to murder. I guess he considers the diary a reflection of the wide diversity of opinion over there.

I don't know, perhaps after serving as training goat to Erick Erickson's lonely shepherd, Moe will have the courage to actually join the rebellion and help murder Barack Obama and me.

But, you guys go ahead and tinker with the filibuster because none of this other stuff is going to happen.

It's just talk.

Right?

Right?

No pun intended.

it is just talk.

but it's the kind of talk that deserves a visit from the FBI. which is what would happen if the author's last name was "Mohammad".

Yeah, but IOKIYNAM

http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2010/05/iokiynam.html

@cleek: see also "If the Tea Party were black."

These people are planning on killing all of us.

Here's what really pisses me off about threatening p*ssant bullsh*t like Gary Bentley's essay on Redstate.

They appear to be under the impression that the rest of us are just going to sit around and provide him and his buddies with target practice.

I don't have a gun, but I have a couple of framing hammers, some axes, couple of sledges, a pitchfork, and a mattock. I got some 2x4's down in the basement, too, and a baseball bat out in the garage.

Gary Bentley and/or his fellow-traveler will get precisely one shot at me. If he misses, he will be disassembled.

Or I'll run him over with my car. Or beat him to a pulp with my logging chain.

And if I need to get a gun, I'll get a gun. My old man's shotgun is probably floating around somewhere. You don't even need good aim with a shotgun.

So bring it if you need to Gary, but you better get your practice time in at the range.

They can plan whatever they want, but "killing all of us" is exactly what is not going to happen.

I don't mean to be belligerent, but enough of this "water the tree of liberty" crap already. It's time to water the tree of "get over yourself and quit being a loudmouth d*ckhead".

They can plan whatever they want, but "killing all of us" is exactly what is not going to happen.

Seconded.

In recent years I have practiced firing fully automatic versions of the M16, AK-47, Uzi and even a belt-fed SAW M249, not to mention a police sniper rifle, a twelve gauge shotgun (slug and buck), various pistols including a Glock, Desert Eagle, etc.

And I'm not the type to go down without a fight.

But honestly, the little doggies are all bark, no bite.

They appear to be under the impression that the rest of us are just going to sit around and provide him and his buddies with target practice.

Sometimes, and sometimes it's "we know those SEIU and ACORN thugs are out there planning to kill us if we retake Congress, so let's saddle up and do it to them before they do it to us." I don't know which is more insane.

The former.

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

I've always thought this was a curiously passive voiced piece of expression. Like maybe the patriots and tyrants were going to accidentally open a vein (a pruning shear accident) over the tree while Jefferson was otherwise engaged in shagging Sally Hemmings to a Ted Nugent soundtrack in the study at Monticello.

"Now, Ms Hemmings, this portable writing desk I invented opens up into a four-poster bed with wet bar and musical accompaniment ... like so ... excuse me .. was that a musket shot I heard or are the children playing with the guillotine again?"

I suspect for Gary Bentley it means that he's ascared of late-middle-aged females in hairnets doing cafeteria work, who happen to pay dues to the SEIU and might want to spit into his chipped beef because he's a bad tipper.

I find it curious that most or all gun purveyors and gun ranges do not ask for my voter registration card when my silhouette strolls in holding a silhouette of a latte to buy a couple of high-powered weapons and some rounds and to practice getting the first shot in.

You would have thought Bentley and his fellow goat fellators would have stopped selling me the rope that is going to hang them, the putzes.

Masturbatory fantasies much along the same lines as communist revolutionaries plotting the overthrow of the capitalist system.

Course, the Romanovs didn't find it a fantasy.

Anyway I agree about the oddness of the idea that the sissy liberals wouldn't fight back. Rather reminiscent of the belief in the Confederacy that one Southerner could whip any ten Northerners. I don't own any guns (I try to keep the dangerous objects in our household down to powertools and sharp knives cause I'm sort of a klutz) but I know some seriously heavily armed liberals. I mean, equip a small army with the stuff in their basement "heavily".

Not to mention that in an insurrection against the US government you would be fighting US soldiers who, um, have guns. And tanks. And jet planes. And that most of the heavy industry in the US is, er, in the cities of blue states.

Whatever, the actual risk of civil war is low on my list of worries. People have a lot more to lose than they did 150 years ago.

I shot a .22 when I was 12. Can I play? Oh, and I've got a hat.

Jacob:

"Not to mention .... "

Well, Bentley and his circle jerk commentariat think they have that covered. The armed forces would defect to the revolutionaries' side (Oath Keepers, etc).

Further, the blue cities are surrounded by red patriots and will be cordoned off with no exit. Eventually Starbucks would run out of coffee and muffins and the heavily armed murderous liberals ruining the country would surrender for lack of argula, to be executed later by a bunch of fat guys in their bathrobes, I suppose, after the requisite raping and pillaging.

But, yes, this is probably just a masturbatory fantasy on their part, wherein the tree liberty is subjected to a good dry rogering by the eternally vigilant and flaccid tough guys who talk cracker funny.

I am struck though by the number of violent threats made by people who have a good chance of winning high office.

"Stuff that's actually kinda important right now, with a tough election coming up."

As opposed to actually doing anything important in the Senate, as if that were their job or something.

Why do we want them to win elections again? Isn't it something like "to govern"?

It's Optimates (GOP) contra Populares (Dems) just with lower rhetorical skills (and Cato this time is an institute not a congresscritter). Just waiting for Caesar or his (even more) evil twin.
I think a lot of Dems don't give a semisolid digestive final product about the masses beyond their reelection (for GOPsters this is in the job description of course).

"As opposed to actually doing anything important in the Senate, as if that were their job or something.

Why do we want them to win elections again? Isn't it something like "to govern"?"

Look, you can hope for magical unicorns all you want, but there's no way you can expect senators to do things that greatly interfere with their re-election.

If you want the senate to govern, the answer is to abolish the filibuster. The fact that you think the filibuster is worth keeping around means that you don't have any interest in the senate governing.

Wow, there is some serious quality crazy going on at that "Revolution or Civil War" diary Thullen called out. Like, scary fringe crazy.

I think my favorite comment came in the midst of a huge threadjack by some nutter named "GJ Merits" who started going on about nullification and was getting smacked around even by the more extreme resident whackjobs. One of the responses contained this gem (emphasis mine):

The next “nullification” came with the civil war. And to keep this long post as short as possible, I will only say we all know how that turned out and how much it cost this country, But what is most important about the civil war, is we lost. And many a good man died for that nullification attempt.

We lost. Think about that for a moment. "We lost" the Civil War.

"We."

Let that really sink in.

Some of them don't even bother to hide the fact that a century and a half after the Civil War they still consider themselves on the other side.

Yeah, and Moe Lane ("I just can't do this anymore" pussy crap when he quit Obsidian Wings) hasn't shown his face yet in the thread.

This from a guy whose umbrage was so easily triggered at Tacitus and here, the poor sensitive piece of sh*t.

I suspect he's reading that murderous post and thread to his poor kid, maybe using phonics .... can you say "butcher liberals and their negro foreign president".

The Confederate Republican Party is the party of Death.

They will butcher more human beings in this country than al Qaeda, through policy and the civil war for which they are salivating.

Then again, maybe Erick Erickson's abused goat just masturbated again and he'll require another 20 minutes to threaten liberals with murder.

They, of course, want us to start it. They wank at the thought of it.

I've always been taught to get the first punch in when it is certain there will be a fight.

Sebastian: I think it was pretty clear that dealing with DADT wasn't high on Democrats' priority list, but when the HRC started having people refuse to show up to Democratic fundraisers over it, there was more movement.

I think it's pretty clear that the conservatives in the US have set it up so that if the federal or state governments try to treat you like a human being with equal rights, Sebastian, they get attacked for being anti-Christian or pro-gay or whatever. And as you identify as a conservative, I'd say convincing your own side to treat you like a human being is something you need to work on, before you start attacking the people who would like to treat you like a human being if your side would let them.

But it's way safer to attack people who think of you as human than people who think of you as disposable, so I can see why you never, ever take the risk of criticising the Christian right. Leave that to GLBT people who are braver than you, and take the safe, unhazardous course.

I don't have much time for HRC, but I have even less time for right-wing gays who criticize Democrats for "moving too slowly" but never criticize Republicans for being bigoted.

Wait a minute, this is the filibuster thread! I should be filibustering Sebastian, not flaming him.

Sorry.

.....eight hours later....

(I can, in fact, stand up and talk for eight hours. I'm sure many senators can do the same. Even if they are Republicans. And the media would pretend they were making sense, because they always do pretend that.)

"If you want the senate to govern, the answer is to abolish the filibuster. The fact that you think the filibuster is worth keeping around means that you don't have any interest in the senate governing."

I'm not sure why so many people believe that the Democratic Senate refuse to deal with the filibuster in a way that is likely to win votes are going to deal with the filibuster in a way that isn't likely to win votes.

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