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March 16, 2005

Comments

When this fails to pass it will be a club to bludgeon R's come 2006.

This bill sounds great, but I'm so distrustful of Congress at this point that I'm worried there is a catch somewhere in the bill, some unintended consequences, etc. Anyone read it?

Jonas -- it's not up yet. But the PAYGO rules were in effect during most of the 90s, and worked well then. The key is requiring 60 votes for entitlement increases/tax cuts that are not paid for.

heet: It will only harm those Republicans who vote against it. It already has bipartisan sponsorship. This will probably end up being a somewhat partisan issue -- I suspect the vast majority of Democratic Senators will vote for it, and most Republicans against -- but it shouldn't be. The GOP controls both houses of Congress. Any cuts that this requires will be the cuts they like, not the cuts I'd like. (Alas, farm subsidies are safe from me.) Plus, those of them who subscribe to the 'starve the beast' theory should be voting for this, though I suspect they won't.

eff the Senate. Just voted 51-49 to drill in ANWR. Gotta figure out who defected.

praktike: Dems voting against the amendment (=for drilling): Akaka (D-HI), Inouye (D-HI), Landrieu (D-LA). Republicans voting for it (= against drilling): Chafee (R-RI), Coleman (R-MN), Collins (R-ME), DeWine (R-OH), McCain (R-AZ), Smith (R-OR), Snowe (R-ME).

Does the Bush admin. or the Repub leadership have a position on this? From the third Bush-Kery debate:

"KERRY: I'll tell you exactly how I can do it: by reinstating what Pres. Bush took away, which is called "pay as you go." During the 1990s, we had pay-as-you-go rules. If you were going to pass something in the Congress, you had to show where you are going to pay for it and how. Pres. Bush is the only president in history to [rescind pay-as-you-go]. I'm going to reverse that. We're going to restore the fiscal discipline we had in the 1990s.

BUSH: I'll tell you what PAYGO means, when you're a senator from Massachusetts, PAYGO means: You pay, and he goes ahead and spends. He's proposed $2.2 trillion of new spending, and yet the so-called tax on the rich raises $800 billion by his account. There is a tax gap. And guess who usually ends up filling the tax gap? The middle class."

I guess we know how serious Bush is about PAYGO.

Here's the catch, Jonas: We probably wouldn't have gotten the 2001 tax cut, the ones, some insist, that rescued the economy from recession and terror and the threat of paying down the debt too quickly, if the old PAYGO rules had been in place. And we probably won't continue to enjoy those cuts after 2010 (or whenever they're set to sunset) if the PAYGO rules are re-enacted.

notyou,

So you can't have tax cuts under PAYGO? Or it is just that tax cuts will be far less likely because Congress might actually have to cut expenses after they lowered taxes? Or do they have to cut expenses before they can lower taxes?

Feingold's amendment just got defeated, 50-50. Every Democrat voted in favor; Republicans voting with the Dems: Chafee, Collins, McCain, Snowe, and Voinovich.

"This bill sounds great, but I'm so distrustful of Congress at this point that I'm worried there is a catch somewhere in the bill, some unintended consequences, etc. Anyone read it?"

Russ Feingold is not the guy you need to distrust; it's the Republican leadership that's appalling.

What's with Akaka & Inouye on ANWR? They're usually solid. Do Alaska and Hawaii vote as a bloc or something?

Anyone of you who votes for any Republican candidate in any house or senate race in 2006 is voting for corruption, one party rule, an energy policy that can only be explained as "they're letting the oil and coal companies write it", fiscal catastrophe, rampant dishonesty, homophobia, and a foreign policy that shows complete contempt for honesty and human rights and indifference to state sponsored torture. You may have good reasons to like your individual Congressman or Senator, in a few cases (really only Dick Lugar's work on nuclear proliferation) it might be enough to override the other crap, but you're voting for all of it.

Jonas: under PAYGO, the tax cuts need to be paid for with budget cuts. The offsetting budget cuts are to be included in the bill that contains the proposed tax cuts.

Pretty simple.

The same rule applies for expenditures -- you wanna spend more, then you either up taxes or make cuts elsewhere.

If for some reason Senators decide some program or tax must become law, the PAYGO rules can be over-ridden with 60 votes.

The end result is that under PAYGO it's more difficult to cut taxes (and to increase spending).

Heritage has an interesting take on PAYGO; they hate it.

I'm glad Katherine said what she did upthread. People are responsible for the policies of the candidates they vote for. Ignorance isn't and excuse, nor is "trust" in an incumbent. And single issues voters are responisble for all of the collateral damage that arises out of their myopia.

Hmm. PAYGO expired in 2002 (after Bush's tax cuts were passed...?). My internal timeline is all screwed up.

According to a Kos reader, Akaka and Inouye:

"made a deal with Frist a while back that for their "yea" votes on arctic drilling, Frist would allow the Hawaiian Recognition Bill (aka the "Akaka Bill") to come to a vote on the Senate."

We need party discipline in the Senate in the worst way. Reid's a smarter, better leader than Frist, but he leads a caucus that's used to doing whatever the hell it wants.

"Anyone of you who votes for any Republican candidate in any house or senate race in 2006 is voting for corruption, one party rule, an energy policy that can only be explained as "they're letting the oil and coal companies write it", fiscal catastrophe, rampant dishonesty, homophobia, and a foreign policy that shows complete contempt for honesty and human rights and indifference to state sponsored torture."

Or they are voting for the individual who they think is the best choice for the office.

Dishonest and offensive comments like that one are making ObiW nearly unreadable. Or laugh out loud funny. I'm still on the fence which one.

"Anyone of you who votes for any Republican candidate in any house or senate race in 2006 is voting for corruption, one party rule, an energy policy that can only be explained as "they're letting the oil and coal companies write it", fiscal catastrophe, rampant dishonesty, homophobia, and a foreign policy that shows complete contempt for honesty and human rights and indifference to state sponsored torture."

Too bad voting for Democrats is even worse on half those issues--corruption, fiscal catastrophe, rampant dishonesty, and horrific foreign policy.

"Or they are voting for the individual who they think is the best choice for the office. "

It's a floor wax and a dessert topping.

It's a floor wax and a dessert topping.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Umm...Sebastian, have you been living a parallel universe for the past four years?

Mac, it seems that Tacitus.org is a bit more to your taste where, even as we speak, they're having a party dancing on Rachel Corrie's grave.

"Too bad voting for Democrats is even worse on half those issues--corruption, fiscal catastrophe, rampant dishonesty, and horrific foreign policy."

Really? Please explain to me exactly how a Democratic Senate or House--there's no possibility of both--will make any single one of those things worse. Is it the PAYGO rules you don't like? Or the support of Markey and Durbin's efforts to outlaw torture? Or the bipartisan appropriations for Iraq? Or the (in my view extremely unfortunate) majority of the Senate democrats voting for the Iraq war? Or the desire to hold hearings about Abu Ghraib instead of only on pressing issues like baseball and Janet Jackson's boobies? Or Harry Reid's efforts to reduce the number of abortions by reducing unwanted pregnancies? Or the opposition to the tax cuts that did as much as possible to turn a surplus into a deficit and as little as possible to stimulate the economy? Or the opposition to the disaster of a Medicare bill that was a blatant giveaway to the drug companies? Or the desire to have the ethics committee function as an ethics committee instead of paying the legal bills of powerful members under investigation? Or the desire not to change social security in a way that results in massive benefits cuts or massive deficit spending? Or the desire not to have bills changed in conference and then voted on before members can read them?

As for dishonesty, the Republican party relies on it so thoroughly that you can't see it anymore.

Chuchundra,

Mac is as welcome here as anyone else. We're multiPOV here.

e

"Sebastian, have you been living a parallel universe for the past four years?"

Have you been living in a parallel universe for the past 20? Did you miss the Carter years? Did you miss the Democratic majorities in both houses during the Reagan years? Did you miss the Clinton years?

If you want to fight instances of corruption or incompetence I'm right there with you. If you want to pretend that Republicans are uniquely corrupt or incompetent I'm going to have to beg to differ.

Or is it the opposition to destroying the employer funded system of health care? Or maybe the possibility that the "let's invade Iran" vote will be close?

In case you're wondering, it's the PAYGO vote that's driven me over the edge, not ANWR. I'm used to the whole "why do we drill? Because it's there" energy policy, but the idea of wrecking the solvency of the federal government on purpose is harder to swallow.

It's not whether the Democrats are virtuous and the Republicans aren't. It's whether you want to let one particularly corrupt, incompetent, dishonest group of people continue to have no limits whatsoever on their power--or whether you prefer the American tradition of checks and balances and honest debate instead of the current situation of corrupt one party rule. We've got a legislature where the overriding value is loyalty to the Party and it's infallible eader, and a conservative media that exists to provide propaganda for said Party and said leader, and science is expected to bend to its will. And when you vote for a Republican in Congress, you vote for all of it.

whether you prefer the American tradition of checks and balances and honest debate instead of the current situation of corrupt one party rule.

You can't have an honest debate with someone who paints with such a broad brush. Can't even have a debate once you've gone that far round the bend.

Jonas: under PAYGO, the tax cuts need to be paid for with budget cuts. The offsetting budget cuts are to be included in the bill that contains the proposed tax cuts.

See, I'd rather PAYGO-type rules let Congress get completely drunk and slash taxes easily; but then be forced, hungover, the next morning to make the cuts - which would probably take months. It's easier to gain a consensus about cutting taxes than it is to figure out what will be cut. Nothing else, to my mind, will reduce government expenditures over the longterm.

Katherine, if you want to get into a shouting match about the deficiencies of the Democratic Party, I'm thrilled to and to be fair I'll won't even use your amped up mischaracterization of positions.

But for the record, I don't mind PAYGO.

Democrats in public office typically have horrifically naive foreign policies which pretend that unenforced treaties actually protect things.

I see cuts in Social Security as a good thing. Rich people shouldn't get 'social insurance' payments.

Abortion reduction methods could have been implemented in Democratic majority years if Democrats actually wanted to--see also homosexuals in the military.

Democratc opposed the Medicare bill only because they wanted to waste even more money.

Even on torture, being a Democrat doesn't reliably tell you what someone's position will be.

The court fillibuster stuff is ridiculous. And Byrd himself presided over fillibuster rule changes passed by mere majorities.

Historically Democrats have been amazingly awful at ethics committee issues. I don't expect you to remember the 1980s scandals, but they definitely exist.

Democrats in government are good at identifying problems, but crappy at fixing them. Their solutions tend to create worse or more permanent problems than they try to fix.

Many Democratic domestic policy principles would tend to dramatically cripple innovation in such vital areas as drug development and new medical technologies.

But arguing about everything at once isn't productive. If your party's policy understanding is perfect, fantastic. But at some point you'll have to convince the rest of us.

or whether you prefer the American tradition of checks and balances and honest debate

Katherine, I'm not sure there is an American tradition of honest debate or not - but I do know there is definitely an American tradition of fiery, zealous and contentious debate.

And it's a tradition you're upholding quite well today ;-)

This is not about Democrats v. Republicans. Here is the situation: the Republican leadership, with extraordinary efficiency, tells its members what to do. They never, ever, ever defect when it will cause the Party to lose a key vote. Every single one of them votes for Gonzales. Zero co-sponsor Markey's bill. Every single one of them votes for the bankruptcy bill.

When they do defect, it is carefully choreographed. Lincoln Chafee is allowed to vote against ANWR and PAYGO, only because those votes will not be decisive. He votes his conscience on that and Lindsey Graham's arm is twisted (on PAYGO--I don't imagine Graham cares about the caribou). When it comes to going on record in favor of massive deficit spending or benefits cuts for social security, Graham can vote like a sane person and Chafee must take it for the team. When it comes to the filibuster, I'm guessing it's all hands on deck. When it comes to any supboena vote in any investigation, no matter how serious--if it could reflect badly on Bush every single Republican will vote against it.

The Republican leadership that controls this process has--if they have any redeeming qualities between the three of them, Hastert, DeLay, and Frist, I don't know of them. You are voting for those three, and for their enabling of Bush's worst tendencies.

It's not about your individual Congressmen. It's about the three guys who call the shots. And it's not about whether Democrats or Republicans are better people, though God knows I prefer our caucus any day of the week. It's about this: Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Did you miss the Clinton years?

Do you actually claim that Democrats are worse on fiscal matters than Republicans, and that comparing Clinton to Bush provides evidence for that claim?

That is beyond ludicrous.

I love checks and balances. And since Republicans aren't the monolithic entity you seem to think, we can provide some checks and balances until your party gets its act together enough to be a useful opposition party--much less a useful check or balance. I don't trust most Democratic officials on foreign policy which I think is the primary issue to be dealt with at this time, so I wouldn't vote for a Democratic president or Senator at this time. With Dean as your new party chair, my worrys are anything but allayed.

Final note. Of these three scenarios:

1. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist

2. Speaker of the House Christopher Shays, Senate Majority Leader Lindsey Graham

3. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

I prefer #2 to #1 by a much, much wider margin than I prefer #3 to #2. It's not a hard question. It's not that there aren't good Republicans. It's that they're doomed to be almost as powerless as the Democrats as long as Hastert and DeLay are rewarded at the polls.

" And since Republicans aren't the monolithic entity you seem to think, we can provide some checks and balances"

Name one example. One.

"It's about this: Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Looks like we should get rid of that really corrupt New Deal crap that got passed by those tautologically defined as corrupt Democrats, right? Beside which, why do you want your party to get corrupted by power?

If you think this is absolute power, you have absolutely no sense of historical or international perspective.

Democrats in public office typically have horrifically naive foreign policies which pretend that unenforced treaties actually protect things.

I'm so entirely fed up with that notion.

Let's note, shall we, that a Democrat was in office when we won WWII, when we won in Kosovo, Haiti, Bosnia, etc., etc.

A Republican was in the White House when we had to withdraw from Korea, from Vietnam, and (I'm finally handing this one back to y'all on a silver platter, since you insist on it) from Iraq before that job was done.

So who's the Party of foreign policy disasters?

" I don't trust most Democratic officials on foreign policy which I think is the primary issue to be dealt with at this time, so I wouldn't vote for a Democratic president or Senator at this time. With Dean as your new party chair, my worrys are anything but allayed. "

Hm, the corruption/dishonesty/fiscal disaster thing faded quickly enough. This is a pathetic excuse. Bush is the President. Howard Dean has approximately as much influence over foreign policy as Terry McAuliffe--which is to say, none. What, exactly, is a Democratic Senate majority going to do to f*ck up foreign policy in a way that is worse than the current torture policy whose continued existence you will help guarantee in November 2006? Are you worried they might ask a few questions before signing on to the glorious invasion of Iran? Allow North Korea to go nuclear and do nothing about the Pakistan nuclear black market--oh wait, it can't be that...

Katherine you could just be wrong on the issues…

Nah… Republicans are corrupt. Yeah, that's the ticket!

Excuse me while I go eat some kittens.

Uhm Edward… Korea and Vietnam aren't cards you want to play. Just say'n.

"Allow North Korea to go nuclear and do nothing about the Pakistan nuclear black market--oh wait, it can't be that..."

I begin to suspect you didn't pay close attention to foreign policy in the Clinton years.

Uhm Edward… Korea and Vietnam aren't cards you want to play. Just say'n.

Yes they are. I know what came before Ike and Dick made the decisions they did, but if the R's were the foreign policy geniusese Sebastian's insisting they are, surely they could have found a way short of retreat to resolve the situations, no?

I mean, if you're gonna suggest the Dem's are so naive they can't be trusted, surely you have to demonstrate where the Republicans were superior. I'll wait.

I'd be interested in hearing Macallan actually, you know, counter some of Katherine's charges rather than attempt to simply gainsay. I'd say, "Curious that he doesn't," but then I'd get some snarky comeback as to how it isn't worth his time to do so, and yet it is somehow worth his time to post unclever rejoinders.

So, Sebastian, what Democratic "foreign policy" positions can you point to which engender such partisan fervor against the party, as a whole, and cause you such a failure of "trust"?
I could make it a REAL challenging question, and ask you to (for the moment) leave Iraq out of it - but never mind.

Macallan, you guys are screwing up very badly a country I love very much, and no amount of trivializing VRWC jokes about eating kittens is going to convince me otherwise. It's a cheap rhetorical trick.

Sebastian, "absolute power corrupts absolutely" is a well known expression that works a bit better rhetorically than "the temptation of corruption generally grows as the restraints on power declines, particularly if one is corrupt to begin with". When I want to make historical analogies to dictatorship or whatever I'll make them. As U.S. history goes, as far as I can tell we're past Nixon, but not yet at Jackson or George III.

I appreciate your post on extraordinary rendition, and then--it seems pathetic I should be grateful for one post, one letter to one Congressman, as you blithely vote for the people responsible for all this again and again and again, and devote most of your energies to defending them. You may oppose it; you

This is the speech Edward Markey made on the floor of the Senate today:

""Throughout United States history, we have been the world's moral and political leader. One of the things that really strengthened our hand at Nuremberg was
that in turn the Germans could not make a case that we had engaged in the kind of human rights violations that the Nazis had engaged in. It made the trials at
Nuremberg a moral statement about the United States and our view of the way in which war should be conducted.

This debate that we are having is intended on ensuring that we restate that commitment. We cannot have Uzbekistan, we cannot have Syria dictating what the standards are for our country. We cannot take prisoners within our control, put them on planes, and have them flown to other countries where whatever standards exist in that country dictate whether or not and what kind of torture will be engaged in.

The statement which we are making today on the floor will be to once again reassert this Congress' complete commitment to the Convention against Torture. I think it is important at this time that we once again make this point because the rest of the world looks to us as the moral leader and it is important for us in act as well as in word to uphold that standard."

God knows we can't have a lunatic like that in power; far better to keep DeLay and Hastert.

Self parody is an art Phil. Bravo.

sorry, floor of the House.

As far as North Korea, we've been over it 100 times, and even if I granted your inaccurate charges about Clinton you are totally and completely unable to defend Bush's policies. And as far as Pakistan, the stakes became clear, and most of the evidence emerged after 9/11. They ignored it and ignore it still.

Macallan, you guys are screwing up very badly a country I love very much

That is merely your opinion. An offensive and immature opinion at that. You're entitled to it, but don't expect any republican to give it any respect or deference.

Thanks for proving my suspicions correct, Mac. You're nothing if not predictable.

"I love checks and balances. And since Republicans aren't the monolithic entity you seem to think, we can provide some checks and balances until your party"

I just want to reiterate: please name some examples of effective checks and balances by the Republicans. I am really genuinely curious about this, more than anything else on the thread or any other question I asked.

Is it the searching and thorough investigations of Abu Ghraib and prison abuse in Guantanamo and rendition? All the subpoenas issued about all the scandals? The irresponsible tax cuts that Congress wouldn't pass? The irresponsible spending cuts Bush vetoed? The rejection of the largest expansion of entitlement spending in recent years? The careful oversight of evidence of corruption by government contractors? The attempts to restrain Bush's assertion of an unlimited power to detain U.S. citizens? Bush stepping in and preventing Congress' contributors from making policy? Congress stepping in and preventing Bush's contributors from making policy? The careful scrutiny of Bush's judicial nominees? The decision not to abandon decades and decades of Senate tradition for financial gain? The ethics committee's careful oversight of Tom DeLay's actions?

I have written only thousands of words on the subject of foreign policy Jay C. Feel free to look at them. But the short version is--Democrats are over-reliant on paper treaties as if they were solutions to the problems allegedly addressed. This would be fine if the response to a broken treaty were not merely further paper treaties ad infinitum. Instead, modern Democrats tend to be of the "This far and no further, wait ok this far and no furth.., ok this far and no...., ok this far and..." style of diplomatic capitulation. They are not WWII-style Democrats or Kennedyesque Democrats. They are Pelosi Democrats.

As for corruption:
Abscam, Traficant, Bustamante, Mavroules, Torricelli, Rostenkowski, Reynolds. HUD before Republicans forced it to reform. Willingness to let inner-city kids wallow in awful education institutions because they have been bought and paid for by the teachers' unions(sorry I shouldn't get caught up in rhetoric like you). Resistance to welfare reform in the 1980s and 1990s helping to maintain the vote-rich underclass rather than help them do better.....

" The decision not to abandon decades and decades of Senate tradition for financial gain? "

Sorry, political, not financial.

Don't you believe that the Supreme Court has offered generally the proper response on the various terrorism cases. Check/Balance.

"The irresponsible spending cuts Bush vetoed?"

And this should be "spending increases."

Shorter Sebastian

I get a kick out of seeing my 'military' tax dollars at work that I don't get when Democrats are in charge!

"Don't you believe that the Supreme Court has offered generally the proper response on the various terrorism cases. Check/Balance."

Yes. Well, almost; they shouldn't have punted Padilla. And Rasul came out the way it did because of the liberal judges. Scalia is great on rights for citizens that existed in 1789, but he thinks non-citizens detained abroad have all the rights of gravel. Whatever the mertis of that as a legal opinion, it's not a check or a balance.

Anyway, we're talking about Congress. There's a lot that courts can't do, because their jurisdiction is limited when it comes to the war on terror.

Congress is about to take away the most likely limit on Bush's ability to appoint judges who share Clarence Thomas, Alberto Gonzales, and John Yoo's inspiring vision of the "unitary executive." Bush is likely to appoint three justices and possible four. Have you read Wilkerson's and Luttig's opinions in Hamdi?

Haven't read Wilkerson.

Ok about the Congress. Social Security reform. Unless I'm reading my tea leaves incorrectly, Bush isn't going to get his preferred reform. Check/balance

"Macallan, you guys are screwing up very badly a country I love very much"

"That is merely your opinion. An offensive and immature opinion at that. You're entitled to it, but don't expect any republican to give it any respect or deference."

Guess I'm with Katherine on the offensive and immature list - higher up or lower down depending on taste.

And I imagine a few Republicans out there both respect her opinion and will as a result of her reporting and eloquence change their minds. Hope springs eternal.

Shorter Sebastian

I get a kick out of seeing my 'military' tax dollars at work that I don't get when Democrats are in charge!

No if you want to take all the nuance out of my view it would be "Democrats don't know the difference between a useful treaty and getting drugged and then robbed."

Sebastian, do you have any particular opinion on the report that Louise Slaughter and co. just released on the degradation of procedure and debate in the House?

In terms of Congress being an effective check and balance, can you name any other major legislative initiative (hell, any other _minor_ legislative initiative) on which Bush has not gotten what he wanted?

This:
1) hasn't actually happened, and I'm not counting on it happening at all.
2) is something that is on account of the unusually unified opposition of the Democrats, which may lead to the defection of, at most, 10% of the GOP caucus..

You said, and I quote:

"And since Republicans aren't the monolithic entity you seem to think, we can provide some checks and balances until your party gets its act together enough to be a useful opposition party--much less a useful check or balance."

This statement would seem to me to require more support than a hypothetical future example of maybe 5 Republicans who may or may not attach themselves to a unified Democratic opposition. If social security phaseout doesn't pass it will probably be because the Democrats filibuster it and Frist decides for political reasons not to end the filibuster of bills just yet.

Sebastian - Bush isn't going to get his preferred reform. Check/balance only because he isn't willing to pay the political price, or I should say he is willing to pay but his party isn't.

Sebastian - No if you want to take all the nuance out of my view Take Americas military out of your 'view' and see how that alters your perspective 'cos that's what the rest of the world has to deal with and that's increasingly how the rest of the world sees the US, a big stick and no carrot! Not even a hint of lubrication.

""Democrats don't know the difference between a useful treaty and getting drugged and then robbed.""

Ah. Are you worried about Democrats passing "paper treaties" that fail to solve the problems that Bush has also utterly failed to solve & made worse with the Iraq War? There's no need to fear! It requires a 2/3 majority and the signature of the President. Or in the case of a Congressional Executive agreement, just a simple majority, but the President has to negotiate it, sign it and submit to Congress. And the President can rip up one of those awful treaties all by himself.

To go off of what Katherine just said: Snow, Collins, Specter and Chafee, != the entire Republican caucus in the Senate, nor does the Main Street Coalition = the entire Republican caucus in the House. I find it amusing that the only Republicans who are aiding the Democrats in checking any WH initiatives at all are those whom a lot of movement Republicans (cf. RedState) consider apostate and RINOs anyway.

And I imagine a few Republicans out there both respect her opinion and will as a result of her reporting and eloquence change their minds. Hope springs eternal.

I do appreciate her reporting.

"Sebastian - Bush isn't going to get his preferred reform. Check/balance only because he isn't willing to pay the political price, or I should say he is willing to pay but his party isn't."

Right. Bush and/or the allegedly monolithic Republicans can't get deeply unpopular bills to pass.

That doesn't sound like absolute power. That sounds a lot like a normal functioning democratic government.

Now there is a problem that the people of the United States want both lower taxes and more government services. Yup, that is a problem. Has either party dealt with that fact well? Typically no. But I don't think the "Would love to increase taxes slightly and have an explosion of new spending" party has that much of a theoretical advantage to the "Likes lowering taxes somewhat and increasing spending quite a bit" party.

The problem I'm beginning to see with my discussion with real-world friends (and in California that means lots of fairly liberal people) on the torture issue is (depressing as it may be) a lot of people really don't seem to care about torture. I'm not happy about that--at all. But there it is.

Mac, I literally don't remember you ever saying, on any issue, that the Democrats were right and Bush/the Congressional leadership were wrong. I'm almost sure it's an oversight on my part, but I do think that if I literally don't remember it happening, it doesn't happen very often. So you're not exactly the target audience here. And people who run every elected branch of the federal government ought to be able stomach being told they're wrong--even shrilly told they're wrong--on a weblog. I don't expect you to agree with me, but I just don't feel real guilty about it.

" Macallan, you guys are screwing up very badly a country I love very much

That is merely your opinion. An offensive and immature opinion at that."

Easy on the frothing. I can't imagine you think loving your country is offensive or immature, so I guess thinking a particular political party in power is screwing up the country is offensive and immature? That strikes me as a bizarre opinion and, at best, a selective one.

Actually, I thought Clinton did a good job on fiscal policy. -- I really don't want to get into a long "whose party is worse" thing, though. I prefer to debate clear points where there's some prospect of beginning to get all the arguments out on the table.

I hate the defeat of PAYGO. We need some sort of fiscal discipline so much. We are saddling ourselves with debt, undermining our future prosperity, and to top it all off we're giving an enormous amount of leverage to, of all people, the PRC. This is awful.

Sorry -- my post was to Sebastian.

Sebastian: correct me if I'm wrong here, but would not PAYGO prevent either party from "increasing taxes slightly" while also having "an explosion of new spending"? Theoretical advantage? Maybe not. Advantage in _practice_? Hell yes.

"Right. Bush and/or the allegedly monolithic Republicans can't get deeply unpopular bills to pass."

They mananged on Medicare by dint of lying, as best I recall.

"The problem I'm beginning to see with my discussion with real-world friends (and in California that means lots of fairly liberal people) on the torture issue is (depressing as it may be) a lot of people really don't seem to care about torture. I'm not happy about that--at all. But there it is."

I think most people care, including some Republicans. It's just that they don't care enough to risk their political future. (See: Lindsey Graham, John McCain.) Or they just don't care enough to say anything about it if it might harm the President politically. (See: Glenn Reynolds.)

Or they care enough to speak up, once or twice, but it's not a high enough priority to actually influence their vote in any way in any federal election--although they know that the architects of the policy take their support as a mandate or at least a sign that "the issue is dying."

The Democrats care, but they've largely given up. You should see the way they linked to hilzoy's post:

"It's extremely unlikely to pass, but I couldn't agree more with Hilzoy that if it's going to die, we at least have an obligation not to let it die a quiet and unmourned death."
"I’m not an idiot. I know that this bill will never pass in this Congress. But I’d like to see at least one Republican co-sponsor for this bill."
etc.

Katherine, I really admire your brave defense of our country. On another thread there is a discussion of how Sartre erred when he was seduced by an ideology. It is easy to look back and condemn from the safety of the present. meanwhile our country is being turned into a one-party oligarchy that worships money and sanctifies selfishness--but the proponents of this ideology can't see how they have been blinded by their simplistic assumptions. Ideologies are seductive precisely because they make it so easy to be always right and to feel morally superior, too. Everthing is easy to understand if one has an ideology. It's a faith-based community, after all!
Twenty years from now we will look back and wonder why the hell we let these people ruin our public lands, run up unpayable debts, piss away our prestige and crediblity, ignore real security issues, neglect our infrastructure, and destroy our civic institutions. The city in Canada I recommend is Whitehorse.

So you're not exactly the target audience here.

Except, if you actually thought about it, I am.

people who run every elected branch of the federal government

…and will likely for sometime at the rate things are going.

I and other republicans are exactly the target audience, because we hold influence. In fact, if things are as direly monolithic as you claim we are the only audience. Preaching to the left choir loft might feel good, but they're powerless to do anything in your construction. Insulting the very people most capable of doing what you want doesn't strike me as wise.

If you make yourself unreadable, that's your choice …but goodness, certainly don't feel any guilt on my account.

Bush and/or the allegedly monolithic Republicans can't get deeply unpopular bills to pass

I suggest you read the newspaper tomorrow morning.

Has either party dealt with that fact well?

One of them has, yes.

Not only readable but respond-able, it seems...fear not: journalism and law teaches you how to turn it down when you have to.

"Katherine, I really admire your brave defense of our country."

On the other hand, this is just silly. It's called "venting." It has its uses. But it probably disrupted a thread about which we agree--on the other hand, if people abstractly agree that something is bad all day long, and then don't do a damn thing about it, ever, it seems like we all get to congratulate ourselves on a our bipartisan comity and not a thing changes.

Shrillness has a place. I just wish I could do this kind of shrill:

The question recurs, what will satisfy them? Simply this: We must not only let them alone, but we must somehow, convince them that we do let them alone. This, we know by experience, is no easy task. We have been so trying to convince them from the very beginning of our organization, but with no success. In all our platforms and speeches we have constantly protested our purpose to let them alone; but this has had no tendency to convince them. Alike unavailing to convince them, is the fact that they have never detected a man of us in any attempt to disturb them.

These natural, and apparently adequate means all failing, what will convince them? This, and this only: cease to call slavery wrong, and join them in calling it right. And this must be done thoroughly - done in acts as well as in words. Silence will not be tolerated - we must place ourselves avowedly with them. Senator Douglas' new sedition law must be enacted and enforced, suppressing all declarations that slavery is wrong, whether made in politics, in presses, in pulpits, or in private. We must arrest and return their fugitive slaves with greedy pleasure. We must pull down our Free State constitutions. The whole atmosphere must be disinfected from all taint of opposition to slavery, before they will cease to believe that all their troubles proceed from us.


Insulting the very people most capable of doing what you want doesn't strike me as wise.

Well, it's not like being diplomatic in her series on extraordinary rendition got Katherine very far. I suppose meekly accepting the current state of affairs (with a side helping of condescension) is one way to go about things though.

Right. Bush and/or the allegedly monolithic Republicans can't get deeply unpopular bills to pass.

Hey, even Saddam couldn't quite break 100% at the polls, and he had some impressive party discipline.

"Sebastian: correct me if I'm wrong here, but would not PAYGO prevent either party from "increasing taxes slightly" while also having "an explosion of new spending"? Theoretical advantage? Maybe not. Advantage in _practice_? Hell yes."

Absolutely. I'm an advocate of PAYGO. As a purely political issue, parties in power don't tend to like it because their preferred (yet unrealistic) basket isn't as easy to get through. Split governments are generally ok with it because it keeps small shifts in attendance from causing swings on a moment to moment basis during the session.

I was happy to join the chorus on the PAYGO issue. Not happy with the general-level Republican bashing.

I and other republicans are exactly the target audience, because we hold influence. In fact, if things are as direly monolithic as you claim we are the only audience

The Republicans were in a similar situation a few decades ago, their approach was not in any way similar to what you suggest the Democrats do. Funny how that always seems to be the case when partisans offer their political opponents advice, isn't it?

Hmm, wonder why it posted e-mail instead of name?

"Well, it's not like being diplomatic in her series on extraordinary rendition got Katherine very far."

Really? I suspect it got her much further than you think, and much much further than a series of Atrios-style posts.

Sebastian - Republicans can't get deeply unpopular bills to pass. not sure which 'bills' you are referring to but if you meant to say Bush can't even get his deeply unpopular ideas about SS to bill stage, unpopular with whom? democrats in congress? what Rebulican would give a flying ****?

It's unpopular with the country, Republican members of congress up for re-election in 'unsafe' districts can sense that, public opposition is destroying GWBs crusade to 'save' SS not opposition by Democrats.

Right. Take it down from the abstraction for a second and look at it in purely practical terms: which party controlled Congress when PAYGO was enacted, and which party has allowed PAYGO to lapse and defeated efforts to reinstate it?

(Or to put it another way: which party would put into place a procedure that would preclude the very tendency that you criticize them for?)

Really? I suspect it got her much further than you think

Maybe I'm wrong. With maybe two exceptions, the positive reaction I saw to those posts came from liberals/leftists/Democrats. We saw how well your post on the matter went over on RedState; at least you managed to avoid the sneering that was directed at Katherine for actually doing some bloody research on the matter.

and much much further than a series of Atrios-style posts.

I wasn't suggesting that Katherine should have started out venting. But given the reception her series on rendition did get, I'm not going to fault her for venting. Nor am I going to look kindly on condescension directed her way.

"It's unpopular with the country, Republican members of congress up for re-election in 'unsafe' districts can sense that, public opposition is destroying GWBs crusade to 'save' SS not opposition by Democrats."

Are you agreeing with my point about democratic government?

I hate the defeat of PAYGO. We need some sort of fiscal discipline so much. We are saddling ourselves with debt, undermining our future prosperity, and to top it all off we're giving an enormous amount of leverage to, of all people, the PRC. This is awful.

It is also 100% intentional Republican policy, which apparently our conservatives here love. That is, after all, the point. Repubs voted for the idiots who have adopted this policy, and defend them when it is blindingly obvious that this is their policy.

The record over the last 25 years is clear -- Republicans have no fiscal discipline primarily because they belive it is OK to wreck the government's fiscal policy. It is excused with "starve the beast" language except that the Republicans are also the beast. Repubs pretend not to be the "big-spender" even though they have 100% control.

Clinton fiscal policy leaves Bush in a second grade classroom reading "My Pet Goat".

Macallan, you guys are screwing up very badly a country I love very much,

I agree with Katherine.

Insane fiscal policies, tax laws which will create a hereditary aristocracy, torture approved at the highest levels of government, a "business can do no wrong" attitude. That's the start.

Add in repeated outright lies, slander of political opponents, gay-bashing, catering to religious idiots, etc.

Sebastian and Macallan and others may find it ridiculous, but I actually fear for the future of the US. I think the current leadership of the Republican Party, up to and including Bush, is loathesome, and I don't see how that's going to change in the near future.

Sebastian - Are you agreeing with my point about democratic government?

Not if you are proposing that a popular uprising is a sufficient check or balance on one party government.

I think I missed the popular uprising. Or do you just mean normal unpopularity?

Fine yes, normal unpopularity it is then, is that a sufficient check or balance against one party government in your book? It seems to be what you are implying, beyond that I guess we could always rely on the Republicans to self-police themselves in the vein of the ethicaly challenged Mr Delay perhaps?

Sebastian and Macallan and others may find it ridiculous, but I actually fear for the future of the US. I think the current leadership of the Republican Party, up to and including Bush, is loathesome, and I don't see how that's going to change in the near future.

It's not going to change. You are. Time and separation from events will give you a healthier perspective. Of course you won't believe me, as many republicans wouldn't believe me when Clinton was "destroying" America. Otherwise you are going to end up like my old uncle who could ruin any family occasion by ranting on and on about how FDR ruined America. I'm old enough to remember when Reagan was simultaneously dim-witted and destroying the world, yet some of the very purveyors of those memes lionized him upon his death. Others cling to the memes and will 'til they die.

The key is requiring 60 votes for entitlement increases/tax cuts that are not paid for.

Include 60 votes for tax increases and I'm all for it.

"Others cling to the memes and will 'til they die."

I used to imagine really vicious inscriptions for my tombstone so I could haunt Republicans for centuries after my death. Like:"Alger Hiss was innocent!" so that every conservative would get furious when they visited their loved ones.

Now I have to figure something imaginative to do with my ashes.

"It's not going to change. You are. Time and separation from events will give you a healthier perspective."

A seer in our midst! Cassandra-like, he will reveal the future, and we will not believe him until the walls of Troy collapse around us.

Now I have to figure something imaginative to do with my ashes.

Request that they be used to fertilize medical marijuana plants?

"Here lies Robert, but only in spirit
His last request, if you'd like to hear it
Was that his body go up in smoke
So that cancer patients could have a toke."

"It's not going to change. You are. Time and separation from events will give you a healthier perspective....Otherwise you are going to end up like my old uncle who could ruin any family occasion by ranting on and on about how FDR ruined America."

This is 10x more arrogant and condescending than saying that "I think your politics are mistaken."

Sebastian, they haven't completely killed checks & balances yet, but you have utterly failed to name a single example of REPUBLICANS providing checks and balances since Democrats were so terrible. You came up with some Supreme Court cases, and the hypothetical future defeat of a social security bill that will have been defeated largely by Democrats if it is actually defeated, which is a pretty big if. Neither of these things supports your statement at all. Nor have you produced a single concrete example of what, exactly, a Democratic Senate is going to do to f*ck up foreign policy that trumps the fiscal wreck we're heading for and the torture issue and DeLay's corruption.

Sebastian: the deficit also affects foreign policy. In 2000 China did not have the power to bring our economy down. Now it does. People discount this because they say it's not in China's economic interest to do so. (Though how long we can count on its being in China's interests to continue to amass stores of our depreciating dollars, I don't know.) But China's interests are not exclusively economic. Consider what would happen if they decided to use the leverage we have given them to pry loose Taiwan.

This is 10x more arrogant and condescending than saying that "I think your politics are mistaken."

I think Mac wasn't being very clear at first, or wasn't bothering to explain himself for whatever reason - at least that's how I understand the implication of Clinton-didn't-ruin-the-country - it just means, "I think you overestimate the effect of politics on events." Or Mac's decided that "this too shall pass" is the right attitude for the landed gentry - anyway, I find this unoffensive - not exactly the case re the previous "immature" formulation.

it just means, "I think you overestimate the effect of politics on events."

I disagree. It came across to me as the equivalent of patting an ignorant child on the head and saying, "It's okay, someday you'll understand."

"and the hypothetical future defeat of a social security bill that will have been defeated largely by Democrats if it is actually defeated, which is a pretty big if. Neither of these things supports your statement at all."

I don't mean to be rude but how exactly do you think checks and balances work between the Congress and the Presidency? The difference between a 51 (D) 49 (R) Senate and a 51 (R) 49 (D) Senate is that in the second on day to day things the Republicans get their way. On certain big issues a couple of them will vote with the Democrats, providing a check on the President. Great. That is Republicans mostly getting their way (President and Congress together) with certain harebrained Presidential schemes not getting pulled off.

I want Republicans to get their way more than Democrats on lots of issues.

So why would I prefer a closely divided Senate with Democrats in charge? I wouldn't. On the day to day issues I want Republicans to win. I'm a Republican. I think a huge percentage of their policies are better than Democrats. Sometimes, if the President steps sufficiently out of line, a few Republicans will defect creating a check. Most of the time they won't, which I like. Why in the world would I prefer a Democratic majority in the Senate? I would tend to prefer a narrow enough Republican majority that when the President acts in such a way as to go against the clear will of the people, a couple of Republicans will vote against his policy and it will fail. Otherwise the Republicans get their way. I like that.

"Why in the world would I prefer a Democratic majority in the Senate?"

I don't think I had better type out my actual answer to this. Please read my 8:21 post, or the f*cking 45 page paper I just sent you.

You're on Dennis Hastert and Tom DeLay's side. You're not on mine. And I should never have been so desperate as to let one post--however well written--convince me otherwise. But that was my own naivete.

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