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May 18, 2005

Comments

After reviewing the process that the filibuster would get killed in the case of judicial nominees it doesn't seem to me that there is any significant barrier to killing the filibuster in the general case.

I hate to sound like a catastrophist but this seems like it could be the end of constatutional democracy in America to me.

The tricky question, Hilzoy, is what does one think of the Republican proposed action in the context of Senator Byrd's previous revisions of filibuster rules? Is there something inherently heinous in the Republican plan that wasn't there in the Byrd revisions? If there is -- and I'm perfectly open to argument on this -- I'm unfamiliar with it. But it would seem necessary to establish that point to be able to successfully make the point that the present Republican attempt is unique and so precedent-breaking in its methodology. (A secondary issue would be a careful examination of how universally precedent should always triumph when examining and judging the virtues and vices of Senate precedent; it's unclear that "it's a long-held precedent" implicitly or irrefutably leads to the conclusion "and it would be entirely wrong to change.")

Is there something inherently heinous in the Republican plan that wasn't there in the Byrd revisions?

Wasn't the process completely different? I'm not completely up to speed on the Byrd revisions but I don't recall him trying to get the filibuster declared unconstitutional or, more generally, trying to revoke the rules under which the Senate operated by sheer force of chutzpah.

I'm not aware of the details of Byrd's revisions (link?) but I would say categorically that changes to the senate rules outside of the established procedures are bad for America... regardless of which side of the aisle they come from.

More than you need to know about why the Byrd stuff is not germane.

... though note that dizziment is to be had in the comment section.

The Senate is on the verge of meltdown over the nuclear option, an unprecedented step that would shatter 200 years of precedent over rules changes and open up a Pandora’s box of problems in the years ahead.

Sounds like we are all about to be crushed under the jackboot of the fascist octopus.

jackboot of the fascist octopus.

Wow, that's four pairs of 'em!

I've only got two pairs of jackboots: the everyday ones, and the dress ones, which are owlhide and inset with diamonds mined by enslaved native Africans.

Each one with a differently shaped heel, to add to fun.

Moevon is running ads on tv in PA to call Arlen Specter and save the filibuster.

SAVE THE FILIBUSTER is, despite my feelings in this matter, not a bumper sticker you'll see on any of my fleet of Hummers.

Thanks for this post. Unfortunately, I have heard zero mention of any of this in the media's discussion of the nuclear option so far, and I seriously doubt I'll hear much more in the coming weeks. It's not a soundbite, so it's assumed (perhaps correctly) to be too incomprehensible for the audience.

I'd love to trade the filibuster for a supermajority (60 or 67) on judicial nominations.

I've heard that people who buy hummers are comepensating for something. Maybe they should do a study to find out if that's true ...

I've heard that people who buy hummers are comepensating for something

given the price tag, i'd say they're trying desperately to get rid of burdensome income.

In actuality, I drive a Honda Accord, which I purchased less than a year ago to replace my aging Nissan Sentra. You might say I'm compensating for something; I've been considering the Mini Cooper.

You don't need to be compensating for anything to consider a Mini -- those things are fun.

Not to drag this thread off toward things automotive, but -- hey, von, what did you end up buying, anyway?

this isn't about Constitutionality or precedent, this is about getting Good Conservative Judges appointed to undo the horrible crimes foisted on the American people by FDR and his followers. once that's taken care of, they can get back to caring about things like precedent.

really.

What it comes down to is:

Are there six or more decent Republican Senators who are not in thrall to the religious right, and are willing to ignore all the smoke being blown about non-existent Constitutional requirements and vote against Frist.

(A secondary issue would be a careful examination of how universally precedent should always triumph when examining and judging the virtues and vices of Senate precedent; it's unclear that "it's a long-held precedent" implicitly or irrefutably leads to the conclusion "and it would be entirely wrong to change.")

Agree completely, but then Jeffersonian Democrats are supposed to agree with this.

It's the conservative side that's supposed to be circumspect about uprooting tradition.

Heh.

jackboot of the fascist octopus. "Wow, that's four pairs of 'em!"

I'd like to hope that everyone here has read the famous source of that line.

Thanks for the link to the arguments in your 03:45 AM, rilkefan, but I don't see most of them as definitive proof of the radical distinction the poster intends them as; YMMV, of course. (I also found the article as deeply annoying in format, in providing difficulty in determining who was being quoted where, and from what source, as I typically find the nigh-impenetrable format at DK, but that's tangential.)

"Moevon is running ads on tv...." Hey, they used to post here, didn't they? Albeit separately.

;-)

Myself, if it isn't clear, I hope the move to eliminate judicial filibusters fails, as I think it's a bad idea; however, if it succeeds, I look forward to the time when Republicans will wish they'd been more careful what they wished for.

I also think that while, obviously, most people making anti-filibuster arguments in this endeavor have been honestly reproducing what they believe is correct history, that many are misinformed, and yet others are outright, well, lying, with all the nonsensical false statements about how utterly unprecedented the Democratic use of the filibuster over judicial nominees is, and what a dreadful perversion of justice and fairness it is compared to the past behavior of the Grand Old Party. The entire demand that the Constitution requires an "up or down!" vote is crap, and whether it's phrased as an outright statement, or a strong implication, the notion that the Democrats are being horribly unfaired compared to past Republican behavior on judicial nominees would be hilarious if it weren't so desperately false.

So that's where I stand on that. However, this doesn't, in my view, mean that if the Republicans succeed, we're on the verge of Chancellor Palpatine becoming Emperor, the Republic will fall, and the changing of Senate precedent indicates it will. Neither does it mean that the present attempt to change the rules is as unprecedented, and so sheerly evil that only vile Republicans would ever do such a thing, as has been said at times; there's been a relatively small amount of Democratic handwaving and exaggerating here, as well, and I can't overlook it, although I won't over-state it, either.

That's all: I have spoken, you may carry on about your business now. (If anyone sees a column of stormtroopers headed for the Senate, though, do please post.)

"Are there six or more decent Republican Senators who are not in thrall to the religious right"

Do not assume you know all that is going on here. The fact that the White House wanted the Bolton nomination to come up first (see Steve Clemons to your left on the blogroll) leads me to believe judges aren't their top priority.

Once the filibuster is gone, it will be much easier to pass Social Security "reform" or declare war, should Bush get the urge.

Since Bush has been campaigning in Michigan lately, I wonder on the possibilities of Congress declaring itself the final arbiter of Constitutionality, declaring the current amendment process null & void, and making such changes as needed to allow Bush a third or indefinite term.

"Since Bush has been campaigning in Michigan lately, I wonder on the possibilities of Congress declaring itself the final arbiter of Constitutionality, declaring the current amendment process null & void, and making such changes as needed to allow Bush a third or indefinite term."

We could make a bet on this, but if you won, things would be bad enough that you probably wouldn't enjoy collecting (and might not be around long after winning).

SAVE THE FILIBUSTER is, despite my feelings in this matter, not a bumper sticker you'll see on any of my fleet of Hummers.

When you jackboot your octopus, make sure to put a filibuster on their Hummer.

...there's a sentence that's probably never been typed before in the history of the world. I feel so special!

well, here we go. Enter the Frist or Frist in Flight?

Whenever I feel gloomy, I remind myself not, like Julie Andrews, of my favorite things, but of things so bizarre that you really have to love a world in which they could possibly occur. And one of the ones I sometimes use is the original fascist octopus statement, which (if anyone doesn't feel like reading through the entire Orwell essay, which they should), is, drum roll please:

"The fascist octopus has sung its swan song."

Ya gotta love it.

Yay C-SPAN! I can feel myself falling asleep already. Schumer's up right now.

(if anyone doesn't feel like reading through the entire Orwell essay, which they should)

I make sure to read it every couple of months. It's the only way I can maintain any semblance of coherency in my political writings.

And, via TPM, Frist undercut his own argument this morning, not that it will make any difference.

"SEN. SCHUMER: "Isn’t it correct that on March 8, 2000, my colleague [Sen. Frist] voted to uphold the filibuster of Judge Richard Paez?"

Here was Frist’s response:

"The president, the um, in response, uh, the Paez nomination - we’ll come back and discuss this further. … Actually I’d like to, and it really brings to what I believe - a point - and it really brings to, oddly, a point, what is the issue. The issue is we have leadership-led partisan filibusters that have, um, obstructed, not one nominee, but two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, in a routine way."

So, Frist is arguing that one filibuster is OK. His problem is that several Bush nominees have been filibustered. This position completely undercuts Frist’s argument that judicial filibusters are unconstitutional. (Which is, in turn, the justification for the nuclear option.) If judicial filibusters are unconstitutional there is no freebee. But Frist digs his hole even deeper:

"The issue is not cloture votes per se, it’s the partisan, leadership-led use of cloture votes to kill - to defeat - to assassinate these nominees. That’s the difference. Cloture has been used in the past on this floor to postpone, to get more info, to ask further questions."

When Frist voted to filibuster Paez’s nomination it had been pending for four years. It’s hard to believe he couldn’t get all the info he needed or ask all the questions he had during that time. Make no mistake about it: Bill Frist was trying to kill the Paez nomination. A press release issued the following day by former Sen. Bob Smith, who organized the filibuster effort, read “Smith Leads Effort to Block Activist Judges.” " (I added some quotation marks, since the original uses blockquote to set off quotes, and I don't know wheterh blockquotes can be nested, or if so how to do it.)

Watching the Senate. Schumer saying this move will "remove the last vestige of comity or bipartisanship in the Senate."

I wish.

Gary:I lack the grandiose parts of paranoia, and the ideas of reference. Nobody is coming after me. I do think that by the time paranoia becomes empirically justifiable, it is usually too late to take defensive measure.

It was a thought experiment, trying to remember Bork's arguments about Congressional Supremacy. And imagining the worst scenario. And you are the one, I think, who would be surprised at how easily a coup would go.

I tend to reread Politics And The English Language at least once every couple of years, so none of it, not just the memorable hits on mixed metaphor, fades too far in my mind. It's also a primary reason I hit so hard on the need for people to write clearly; it's not a luxury; it's not "the thought that counts," because the written thought can't be well expressed save in precise words and careful punctuation; sloppy writing is sloppy thinking, and typically vice versa. (No, I'm not remotely perfect in this; none of us are; but neither is this something that should be great effort, as opposed to learned habit.)

But all of the Collected Letters And Essays of Orwell are wonderful, too.

"I don't know wheterh blockquotes can be nested..."

Yes.

"...or if so how to do it...."

Just repeat 'em.

Bob says: "I do think that by the time paranoia becomes empirically justifiable, it is usually too late to take defensive measure."

Yes. Note I didn't say you were crazy, wacko, paranoid, or irrefutably (at this time) wrong.

This is interesting: I reread 'Politic and the English Language' at least once a year, when I'm preparing for my annual dramatic reading of the part where he imagines some fusty academic trying to justify Stalin to my intro class, before their first paper. Usually more often.

Do you all know this guy? If not, you must -- MUST!!! -- read some of him. Possibly a good place to start is here, where he comments on this rather amazing bit of prose:

"Project WEY--Washington Environmental Yard (1972) is a manifestation of the intercommunal, process-oriented, interage, interdisciplinary type of change vehicle toward an environmental ethic from the school-village level to a pan-perspective. The urban focus of the project as the medium has been inestimably vital since it is generally speaking the message. Situated near the central downtown area of the city of Berkeley and a mere block from civic center, Washington Elementary School courts the thousands of daily onlookers/passersby (20,000 autos!) traveling on a busy boulevard with easy access to the physical transformation and social interactions (at a distance to close-up)--a virtual open space laboratory. It has served evocatively as a catalyst for values confrontation, even through a soft mode of visual/physical data exchange system. Since 1971, the dramatic changes have represented a process tool for the development of environmental/educational value encounters on-site/off-site, indoors/outdoors and numerous other bipolar entities and dyads. The clients represent a mirror of the macro-world just as the children and parents of the school reflect more than thirty different ethnic groups--as one of numerous dimensions of diversity."

And says, among other things: "If it were only a little bit less illiterate, it would seem to have been written by someone who had read deeply in Luther and even Nietzsche and had decided to sin boldly and to hell with Sklavenmoral." -- But that's before he really gets going on his vivisection, which is priceless. (And, now that I think of it, probably the model, in terms of tone, for my musings about my students' sentences.)

He is also quite good on the larger implications of bad writing.

sloppy writing is sloppy thinking, and typically vice versa.

Interestingly, the same is true of mathematics: sloppy writing is often the result of sloppy thinking... and, invariably, sloppy writing can often produce sloppy thinking. I'd assume the same is true of other disciplines as well, irrespective of the language (natural v. artificial) used.

I'd like to hope that everyone here has read the famous source of that line.

Is there some emoticon that indicates that you are taking something to a meta level? The comment was interesting because it seems (I think) that ajay was complaining about the florid prose of someone _quoted_ by hilzoy. Does that mean that he disagrees with hilzoy or is he just pointing out the florid language? Orwell was very careful to point out that this was a problem in all political discourse, so when ajay deploys it here against one particular side, is it clarifying the choices or making light of the fact that some think the 'nuclear option'(which, as several have noted, seems to be a phrase created by the Republicans and foisted on Democrats) is a bad idea? In this case, going to the original source of the quotation seems to obscure what was meant more than it clarifies it.

LJ: I hadn't quoted Orwell in this post; I think Ajay was just riffing.

Never,

ever,
ever,
ever,
EVER nest blockquotes. And
if
you
do
, please un-nest them properly. Thangyou.

"Do you all know this guy?"

I can't speak for anyone else, but in the "I'm well familiar with his writing," I've known him for a number of years (not in the "we've had personal contact" sense).

Norman Ornstein has a new post on the nuclear option, further demolishing the Republican arguments about the uniqueness of the current use of the filibuster.

Just watched the first couple of speakers in the Senate debate, and it was... well... appalling. Schumer had dorky visual aids, true, but he and Feinstein had actual facts at their disposal. Jeff Sessions, aka Ranty McRantenstein, was factually incorrect on almost everything historical and wasn't much better when dealing with modern-day stuff. I eventually had to turn it off; there's only so much non-work-related (work-unrelated?) BS I can stand at a time.

Negotiations

Current news from someone who participated in a conference call with Schumer at lunchtime. It appears attempts at a compromise are still in play.

I do not approve. I realize the purpose is to retain the filibuster for upcoming Supreme Court nominations. But 1) Democrats should be intimidated into surrender on such a matter of principle; b) I believe it is tactically and strategically correct to move the Senate into a state of maximum rancor, and c) they are utter fools if they believe Republican Senators will keep their word in a SCOTUS fight.

Mr. McManus--
"1) Democrats should be intimidated into surrender on such a matter of principle"

did you want a "not" in there?

"did you want a "not" in there?"

Consider it done;thank you.

"Another blogger asked Sen. Schumer what the Democrats' response would be if they lost the nuclear option. Would they bring Senate business to a halt? Schumer said of course not, they would just use the Senate rules to attempt to wrest control of the agenda from the Republicans and push their own agenda instead." via Jeralyn Merritt

They sure talk purty. What I suspect this means is that Democrats start talking torture or healthcare on the Senate Floor, Frist comes by and asks:

"Can we vote on John Bolton?"
"Sorry, we are talking about health care."
"We really need a UN Ambassador."
"Got 60 votes?"
...
"Will the Senator from Texas yield?"
"I will gladly yield to further discuss John Bolton."
"Thank you. Now back to health care."

folks like senator schumer need to be voted out of office. how can the folks of the big apple think he is representing them and main stream AMERICA.

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