« Anyone Got An Answer? | Main | Brunch, Anyone? Open Thread »

January 25, 2007

Comments

I'm not sure I buy one part of this argument.

Even if the rift is mroe hierarchical than it is ideological, I'm not sure that the committee chairs would really club her with Iraq, no matter what self-interest they might have in undermining her. It's not that I think because the issue morally transcends the human preference for payback, but i just don't think that, if the chairs conducted a palace revolt, that would be a politically appealing instrument of rebellion.

Swing and a Miss ...Michael Tomasky of Tapped says Pelosi is not handling the personalities well. Pelosi contributed Dingell's primary opponent, for one thing. Dingell could win this fight.

I am still open on this particular case. It could be as most say, that Dingell is simply serving his contributors and constituents; but it is also possible that Dingell believe he is in the best position to make a deal on CAFE standards and doesn't want his authority undercut.

I am not a big fan of increased CAFE standards, and would prefer Detroit's efforts were put into hybrids and hydrogen.

Hydrogen is just another storage technology, bob. I'd agree with what you said a bit more readily if we were talking development of storage technologies in general.

I think Pelosi's doing just fine, with minor nitpicks, and am perfectly willing to sit back and see how she handles these things.

I think Pelosi's doing just fine, with minor nitpicks, and am perfectly willing to sit back and see how she handles these things.

with this, i will not argue. on the contrary, i will, in fact, agree with it, 100%.

the Commerce Chair, John Dingell, represents Detroit (and thus the auto industry) and will never lift a finger to combat global warming for as long as he chairs the committee.

Here I thought it was only us evil conservatives who were GW skeptics. And this guy is classified as a liberal (on social issues anyway). Actually I didn’t know much about him so I read his biography this morning. Impressive.

"Many of them are former chairs who held power in an age where Democrats could come together with fact-based Republicans that had some respect for policy. That age has passed."

Hard to get motivated to even bother with this...

But I would propose those fact-based Republicans would pop their heads up once in awhile if the Democrats weren't intent on being so dishonest about this President.

Don't think they are dishonest?

Need I quote how many of them thought Hussein had WMD only to latter accuse the President of going to war under false pretenses?

I could go on an and on about how deceptive the Democrats have been, but why bother. No facts here. It's a sad day when you can't listen to what a Democrat actually says and assume they mean what they say. I guess we were all for that before we were against it.

Even now it seems Pelosi and Reid had a deal worked out the whole time. Tell the American people what they want to hear, but then stall the legislation in the Senate.

It will be interesting to see if the newly elected conservative Democrats let them get away with it. They seem to be putting up a good fight.

Here I thought it was only us evil conservatives who were GW skeptics.

In Dingell's case, there's a quote that might apply to him, something about "it's hard to get a man to understand something if his livelihood depends upon him not understanding it."

on kovarsky's iraq point, my fear is that whatever pelosi presents will get attacked as "too liberal/defeat-a-crat/etc." the gop will say this anyway, but i could see the Chairs joining in too (or planting rank-and-file allies in the stories) echoing this criticism.

their goal is to wound her, to create stories in the Post about how she's lost control, dragging the party, etc. Iraq is a good vehicle for those narratives. and if those narratives get out, they could drain her of capital.

and while i would hope that iraq transcends these things, i'm sort of pessimist about human nature on these sorts of things

Publius, I would hope that Iraq plus shared interest in advancing the goals of the Democratic Party would transcend these things, but I second your pessimism.

xbril, you are correct. There are no facts to support your declaration of the Democrat's deceptivity. So, why bother?

For those who thought Iraq had WMDs, they were basing that information on what intelligence they were provisded by this adminstration, which was cherry-picked to support the administration's case. They were not presented with all the intelligence that the administration had.

I do not excuse those that voted for the authorization to use force. However, their later statements still have validity.

They can do whatever else they like to placate Dingle and certainly should not gratuitously alienate him but we *cannot* have this guy in charge of global warming policy, and CAFE standards are absolutely crucial to that. He is a Democrat. He can vote the way he likes for his District but this is a national party, not Detroit's. I don't care how stalwart he is or how much seniority is. This is a crucial issue. They are not running a social club; they are governing the country.

To address your institutional point, it is probably better government to have power more centralized than Balkanized amongst committees. The committee system is useful and efficient in that it delegates the work to specialists so that hopefully the work product reflects the insight of specialists before it gets to the full body.

But too much power at the committee level allows small entrenched minorities way too much power. It's even worse with an entrenched seniority system. The Party is unable to implement policy without pleasing the many little fuedal barons out there. For example, why should Dingell as a committee chair be able to derail legislation supported by a strong majority of his party? There is no logic to it.

It is true that if power was centralized around someone you do not like (i.e., Harmon), you would be unhappy. But that would be so because the majority in the party supported Harmon. Not a bad result for democracy, and the solution is work to regain the majority.

xbril:

Need I quote how many of them thought Hussein had WMD only to latter accuse the President of going to war under false pretenses?

This is such a fallacy.

Many people were suspicious that Hussein had WMD after he kicked out inspectors in 1998. That suspicion does not equal what the Bush Administration claimed as justification for war, which was certainty that he had it, and which effort also included a nuclear program.

Suspicion justified threatening force to re-institute the inspection program, which was restarted and was in the process of verifying that the Bush hype was just that. The response by Bush was to order the inspectors out and start a war anyway since he allegeldy knew that Hussein had WMD. Bush now routinely lies about how Saddam would not allow the inspectors into Iraq.

Without question the administration lied about the WMD case in order to stampede the country into war. Grossly exaggerating as well as concealing exculpatory evidence constitutes lying. The best analogy is to a bad cop who plants evidence on a scum bag that he believes in guilty in order to insure "guilt" -- except the scum bag is actually innocent. The fact that the cop believed the guy guilty does not excuse his deceit. The fact that the guy was a scum bag also does not justify deceit.
_____________

Everyone now refers to the 2002 vote on the Iraq AUMF as a vote for war, but its important to remember why that is so. First, Bush made it clear at the time that it was not a vote for war. Allegedly it was something needed to insure Iraqi cooperation in getting rid of WMD and cooperation with inspections. War was supposedly a last resort.

We now all know that this was another Bush lie -- that is why we all recognize that the vote was really a vote for war. At the time, some who voted against the resolution made that exact point -- and were derided by the Bush administration for taking that position. Kerry's speech in support of his vote made the point that he was taking the president at his word -- that this was not an automatic vote for war, but instead to give the preseident leeway to threaten force in order to avoid war.

The 2002 vote was a "war vote" only because Bush was lying at the time about his professed desire to avoid war if at all possible.

"it's hard to get a man to understand something if his livelihood depends upon him not understanding it."

Are we talking about liberals in Congress and corporations? ;)

"it's hard to get a man to understand something if his livelihood depends upon him not understanding it."

Are we talking about liberals in Congress and corporations? ;)

Nah, we're talking about political pundits in general...

"Many people were suspicious that Hussein had WMD after he kicked out inspectors in 1998. That suspicion does not equal what the Bush Administration claimed as justification for war, which was certainty that he had it, and which effort also included a nuclear program."

I always find this so odd. In a normal world, lots of bombing of the capitol city counts as war. Clinton went to war in 1998 over the inspections issue, and he lost because the inspections did not resume until Bush threatened an actual invasion beyond bombing.

It's a sad day when you can't listen to what a Democrat actually says and assume they mean what they say.

    If we don't have a clear vision of the military, if we don't stop extending our troops all around the world and nation building missions, then we're going to have a serious problem coming down the road, and I'm going to prevent that.

    -- Not a Democrat, 10/3/2000

...and he lost because the inspections did not resume until Bush threatened an actual invasion beyond bombing....

and then the inspections resumed. and they found... what did they find ?

Sebastian:

"That suspicion does not equal what the Bush Administration claimed as justification for war..."

I always find this so odd. In a normal world, lots of bombing of the capitol city counts as war.

You are literally correct, but I hope you would acknowledge that it is a distinction without much difference. My remark would be literally correct if it was "what the Bush administration claimed as justification for invasion and occupation." Or to be silly, there is war, and then there is WAR.

Oh sure, but it an interesting something or other about international relations. If Israel bombed Tehran for weeks, that would be war. If Iran bombed Saudi Arabia for two weeks in a row it would be war. When the US does it, it is war, but for some reason it doesn't count. We have gotten to a weird situation where US bombing somehow doesn't count as war, which strikes me as odd because I suspect it leads to an overuse of US bombing.

But I would propose those fact-based Republicans would pop their heads up once in awhile if the Democrats weren't intent on being so dishonest about this President.

Yes, xbril, the ultra-sensitive reality-based members of the congressional GOP and their rhetorical line have obviously been steered by the thuggish Democratic minority all these years. I hope *your* livelihood depends on believing stuff like this...

I'm with publius on this. We are way past the 'poilitics of consensus' (thanks in large part to the aforementioned bowed and trembling delicate flowers of the GOP), and there's less reason than ever to have utterly overweening Chairs, unaccountable at all to their own party. Surely there is a happy medium between the almost absolute discipline we saw in the last few congresses and the overly-powerful Chairs we saw in the 60s.

"We have gotten to a weird situation where US bombing somehow doesn't count as war"

Takes two to have a war. In so many situations the US has air supremacy and little fear of counterattack or real losses.
I have a hard time calling Reagan's bombing of Libya and the rest up to Somalis "wars".
Don't know what I would call them.

The objectives are very limited also.

"it is probably better government to have power more centralized than Balkanized amongst committees."

As far as the institutional point goes, 230 majority congresspersons are entitled and quite capable of organizing themselves, and I don't think I hve either the right or the expertise to tell them how it should be done.

We have gotten to a weird situation where US bombing somehow doesn't count as war,

or when Israel shells Lebanon?

(not intended to by a threadjack, just to point out it is not a US thing)

We have gotten to a weird situation where US bombing somehow doesn't count as war, which strikes me as odd because I suspect it leads to an overuse of US bombing.

I rush to express profound agreement with Sebastian on this point.

To me, it's war, and it should be regarded as such by everyone. Our recent (and perhaps ongoing) bombing of Somalia, which killed more than a hundred people, none of which were the purported 'targets', is war. This attack was neither debated nor authorized by our Congress, as far as I know, and I regard it as just one more illegal act of war undertaken by this regime.

The 2002 vote was a "war vote" only because Bush was lying at the time

Some of us were paying enough attention back then to realize that it was perfectly obvious that Bush really wanted to attack Iraq. Anyone who voted to authorize him to go to war either (1) actually favored war, (2) displayed poor judgment by believing Bush, or (3) displayed cowardice by not standing up to Bush, and is now lying about it and claiming to have been fooled by Bush.

I think (3) is true of most Democratic politicians.

Good post, Publius. I'm not a huge fan of term limits, and there is such a thing as real expertise that senior committee members build up, but your point about the changes between now and the pre-1994 era is very well taken.

I'm reasonably happy with the balance that's being struck now. Over time, I think big structural reforms in campaign financing would make me less wary of long-term committee chairs, and it's quite possible to imagine too much power ending up in the hands of a Speaker.

I also like this post, though I have next to nothing to say about it. The next to nothing:

(a) Being able to do something about global warming is in itself a sufficient reason to bypass the committee structure, imho.

(b) Back in 1992, I remember thinking: oh no, the Democrats in Congress haven't figured out that they aren't opposed to the President any more, and that this requires changes in the way they act. (Iirc, it was Senators scuttling the BTU tax that made me think this. Not that Clinton handled that so well either, but some of the more senior Senators seemed to have decided that the President needed to be taken down a peg, on general principle.)

I really hope they have become somewhat more attuned to their actual situation than they were then.

As far as the institutional point goes, 230 majority congresspersons are entitled and quite capable of organizing themselves, and I don't think I hve either the right or the expertise to tell them how it should be done.

Sure they are more capable, but you have no opinion? Over the years, the committee system seems to have broken up the legislative body into many little sub-legislatures in which the peculiar dynamics of a committee had more to do with what got passed. But if that is how the majority wants it, so be it. For all I know, there were already half a dozen tricks for getting stuff out of committees anyway, so maybe no change is necessary. I can recall over the years reading about legislation bottled up in a committee that was favored by a majority outside of the committee -- it always seemed like an abusive form of filibuster.

dmbeaster: legislation bottled up in a committee that was favored by a majority outside of the committee -- it always seemed like an abusive form of filibuster.

It is. A recent example was my own R hack Congressman, Bob Goodlatte, who as chair of the Agriculture Committee wouldn't bring to a vote the anti-horse-slaughter bill co-sponsored by a near-majority of House members period and a majority even on the Ag committee. When it finally was pried loose, last fall, it passed overwhelmingly.

Goodlatte would not have become the Ag chair without the Republicans' having ditched seniority rules. We'll never know if the Rs would have followed through with their announced intention to term limit all chairs including Goodlatte, because it'll be a long time before Republicans are a majority in the House.

There was huge pressure inside the district on Goodlatte, including by many very Republican horsey types. It was a real eye-opener to them how the views of the Poultry Processors Assn and the National Beef Cattlemen's Assn and others carried far more weight with him than those of his constituents. (Those two and allied ag lobbies were reflexively against the horse-slaughter ban on "thin end of the wedge" principles). They poured money into his campaigns after he became chair -- money he didn't need because he was unopposed for the last three or four election cycles. He's given it away to other R candidates and has sat on much of it, daydreaming of a Senate run.

Goodlatte wasn't exactly an independent voice or a man of deep thoughts or convictions to begin with, but his reliable rubber-stamp response to House R leadership was also influenced by his owing the lucrative chairmanship to them.

And, Bob McM, I'm with dmb -- what's this about not having the right to tell House Dems how we think the caucus should organize itself?

The heck with that bit of highly un-McManus-like diffidence. They work for us, and they're my party. I have a right to voice my opinions on the subject directly to the leadership, much less here on a blog.

I don't like to call out spelling errors, but it's in the title and no one has mentioned it ... but surely Publius meant 'Yon Chairs'?

"The heck with that bit of highly un-McManus-like diffidence."

Yeah, it is out of character, but I feel the same way about the Senate.

I don't have enough information or direct interest. That Pelosi gave money to Dingell's opponent, for instance. Dingell represnts auto companies, does Pelosi represent alt-energy concerns? I have heard she has a strong interest in directing money to ethanol producing Northern Middle States like the Dakotas. Why? Is she pushing CAFE standards in order to help the ethanol industry? Is that a good thing?

Too complicated; too much I don't know and happens behind closed doors; they have to work with each other, I don't. A real acceptance that each individual Congressman or Senator should serve his particular constituents at sometimes the expense of others.

A desire to not watch sausage being made. A respect for political markets; an instinctive anti-authoritarianism and general cynicism that says I will not take Pelosi's side because she is Pelosi.

umm s/b "merely because" for "because"

There is more, like a defense of the seniority system, but I have said too much.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad