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November 22, 2013

Comments

The Republicans in Congress brought this on themselves but will, of course, take no responsibility. Reid did what he had to do and it was a long time coming.

"saying Democrats would be sorry for doing so."

I haven't heard them threaten to do anything that I wasn't sure they were going to do anyway. Which is not to say you're wrong, but rather to say that they're not clever at menacing.

For the two or three people who are wondering, I'll put the open thread up first thing tomorrow morning so as not to step on this thread.

letting anyone filibuster with just the "threat" of filibustering is why this went bad. they should make "whomever" filibuster in the old, stand up and speak till you drop form of a filibuster. that is worthy of respect, no matter the lunatics involved. lol.

needless to say, the Republicans won't ever assume responsibility as long as the Democrats let them get away with it. lol and Reid is a sorry excuse for a leader. this two faces of one party does get old.

Republicans are making threats, are they? What are they going to do, put extremists like Janice Rogers Brown on the bench?

Been there, done that.

i'm fairly convinced that this was what the GOP wanted to happen. they just didn't want to be the ones to do it. yes, they're complaining about it, but they complain about everything - so that's not proof of anything.

so, i hope this inspires the mid-term-shy Dems to get off their asses and vote next year. there are 21 currently-Dem Senate seats up (vs 14 GOP), and the stakes in the Senate just got a lot higher.

No downside. I think it's funny that they're threatening that "bad things will happen." That's the Republican plan: to blow up stuff. The American people are getting wise to it.

Whether this gun kicks as hard as it shoots remains to be seen. Partisans on either side will praise or decry, in line with their interests, and when the tables turn, will hue the party line again, inflating the fine distinctions which justified their past position and explain away the current inconsistency.

There is very little that can't be justified by political expediency these days. Which is not a good thing.

"Partisans on either side will praise or decry, in line with their interests, and when the tables turn, will hue the party line again, inflating the fine distinctions which justified their past position and explain away the current inconsistency. "

Some of us are not reporters, and are therefore allowed to remember things before the current news cycle.

We remember the agreement to no filibuster judicial nominees reached during the Dubya administration (under GOP threat of removing the filibuster). We know that the GOP broked it the minute it was in their short-term interest.

We remember John McCain bragging about his part in negotiating the agreement, and notice that he's taken no responsibility for breaking it.

Since this is being referred to as the "nuclear option," it shouldn't be hard to remember the relatively recent circumstances under which that phrase was coined, if I'm following you here, Barry. Or have we always been at war with Eastasia?

it shouldn't be hard to remember the relatively recent circumstances under which that phrase was coined

was that before or after it was called the "constitutional option" ?

at some point, we're all going to have to accept that politicians opportunistic complaints about their opponents' use of procedural rules is really nothing but hot air. it's like accusing a basketball player of hypocrisy if he smiles when the opposing team gets dinged by a ref who made a bad call. "but he was so mad when the ref made that bad call on his team!"

Filibustering is not intended to be a business as usual tool. The GOP used it as one, to block all of Obama's legislation and appointments. They acted in bad faith.

They agreed to a deal with Reid to stop filibustering everything insight, and reneged on the deal. They agreed to the deal in bad faith, knowing they had no intention of honoring it.

If the GOP is now threatening to do away with the filibuster entirely once they have the WH again, well... they would have anyway, since they have already shown themselves to be bad faith actors in every detail.

The GOP can't be trusted. There's very little more to say than that.

A world in which the filibuster exists as a rare option for the minority to strenuously object to a judge/law/etc is better than a world without one. But a world with a 60-vote requirement for every piece of legislation or nomination is worse than either.

I think that, while abolishing the filibuster would be perfectly constitutional, it's bad policy. Anything that raises the stakes in elections in a democracy makes our politics get uglier, and yesterday American politics just took a tremendous blow from the ugly stick. The consequences of that will be phenomenal, and they will reach far beyond Obama getting to stack the DC circuit just before it hears challenges to his re-writing the ACA by executive fiat.

I also think that, while abolishing the filibuster would be constitutional, even those in favor of it ought to have a moment's awe over the Senate voting that 51/100ths = 2/3rds. Because that's essentially what they did yesterday: They didn't get rid of the rule permitting filibusters, they just decided, as a point of order, that it meant precisely what it didn't say. They went full Humpty on us, without even the pretense of honestly interpreting the words of the rule.

The rule is still in effect, it still says you can filibuster a nomination, they have simply ruled that the language permitting the filibusters actually means they're not permitted. Breathtaking.

the Senate makes its own rules. period.

if that takes your breath away, may i suggest seeing a pulmonologist ?

Ezra Klein makes very good couple of points: Firing any of the appointees in charge would just trigger a disastrous confirmation process that would lead the agency rudderless and chaotic for months -- and possibly for the rest of Obama's term.

The confirmation process had become so difficult -- and, because of that, the vetting process so intense -- that top prospects routinely turn down presidential entreaties.

I would have preferred the GOP to pull the trigger on that. But that did not take place due to the Dem spinelessness. Now it was simply the choice to either wait for the senate to change hands with tons of vacancies to be filled or to pull the trigger and at least doing the filling before. Anyone claiming that the GOP would not instantly fill the three empty slots on the DC circuit court without any regard for any input by the opposition is simply a liar (or believes in flying pigs not labelled A-10). Yes, of course the Dems are hypocrites too, it comes with the territory; but I will take Edvard Beneš over Klement Gottwald any day.

The Senate does, of course, make its own rules. (Though "period" is a bit of an exageration, there are areas where they're constitutionally constrained.)

But make a rule, or amend a rule, is precisely what they didn't do yesterday. The rule still says the same thing it did Wednesday, that judicial nominations can be filibustered. They've just voted that "Can" means "Cannot".

It really is hard to exagerate how crazy the action yesterday was. Voting that "Up" means "Down" wouldn't have made less sense.

Obama getting to stack the DC circuit

Insufficiently hyperbolic description of the Presidential exercise of his powers under the Constitution. Try instead "Obama Gay Murdering The DC Freadom Puppy".

Let's not forget, the GOP originated the threat of the nuclear option in 2005 and the Dems backed down (bc some naive folks thought they were preserving the filibuster in some form). That the GOP didn't back down this time (or, agreed to back down and then refused to do so) is what finally ended the filibuster, but it was certainly mortally wounded by Bill Frist. Really, it was killed, but the GOP was happy to wiggle the corpse up until yesterday and pretend it was alive.
It was the GOP who said that the filibuster exists at the whim of the majority.

"It really is hard to exagerate how crazy the action yesterday was. Voting that "Up" means "Down" wouldn't have made less sense."

Right up there with construing "Advise and Consent" to mean "We will block all judges to this court until we control the White House again". Except the former is a Senate rule and the latter is part of the Constitution they swore to uphold.

I have to agree with Carleton, the world would be a better place with a filibuster which was (safe), legal and rare. And for as long as its use was restricted to when nominees were particular egregious (or, in the case of judges, partisan), it was not a problem.

It became a problem when one group decided that they would filibuster even nominees who they agreed were just fine as individuals and for the post. Which is exactly what the Republicans did for 3 nominees to the DC District Court. They said, flat out and explicitly, that there was no problem with the actual nominees. Anyone who abuses a tool to that extent has no complaints when the tool gets taken away.

I live in hope that we will reach the point where it can be reinstated. We have, after all, been thru these periods of intense partisanship before. When, eventually, sanity returned, (political) life got back to normal. And so it may be here as well.

I live in hope that we will reach the point where it can be reinstated.

I, for one, cannot disagree more. The filibuster is an odious instrument that, historically, has been used almost exclusively to block progressive legislation and civil rights. It is a reactionary tool in a system that, by design, has many other chokepoints.

Just like the temper tantrum government shutdown and the threat to renege on our debt,

oops....

to finish: the GOP really blew it.

Link: http://prospect.org/article/harry-reids-triumph

Perhaps we could compromise: Obama fills all the long empty slots in the D.C. circuit, and all those nominees promise to recuse themselves from any case where one of Obama's executive orders is concerned?

Nah, getting a pro-Obama majority to decide all those coming cases in his favor was the point of the exerices.

Well, why not ask any judge then to recuse him/herself from any case involving any person involved in his/her nomination? Unfortunately the courts would have to get really packed then or one would never get a quorum at least on the higher courts.
Also, why are there so many vacancies to fill? Could it be that the president got obstructed and delayed in filling them for years and years? Some posts in agencies have been vacant since Obama took office because the GOP decided that they would not allow anyone to take the position.

I'll second bobbyp's points about the fillibuster. I think most people recognize that the fillibuster is not useful: outside the US senate, one never sees organizations that give 40% of voters a veto. This is true for national governments as well as tiny boards for local volunteer groups. People from all over the world and from all walks of life have all voted with their feet by refusing to adopt the fillibuster rule more generally.

If the fillibuster is so awesome, why don't corporate boards across the country adopt it? Why don't other governments adopt it? Why don't state legislatures adopt it?

IMO the GOP mistake was they only got to do one of the two things:
1)Effectively kill the filibuster when in the majority by threatening the nuclear option, leaving the existence of the filibuster to the whim of the majority
2)Use the filibuster as a de facto 60 vote threshold for all votes when in the minority

Pick one or the other, and there are enough Manchin-like Dems to keep things tamped down. Trying to do both was a bridge too far and GOPers lost lost, and are now left to complaining that Obama is packing the court by appointing judges.

Perhaps we could compromise

Perhaps after putting all their bets on obstruction of admittedly-qualified nominees, the GOP now gets a second try at a compromise? I dont think the Constitution has a "Do-Over clause".
There was a time for compromise *before* the GOP refused to budge and rolled the dice. Not after threatening to use the nuke to get their judges confirmed and then refusing to confirm admittedly-qualified judges and daring the Dems to use the weapon Bill Frist built.

Nah, getting a pro-Obama majority to decide all those coming cases in his favor was the point of the exerices.

If by "exercises" you mean the 2012 US Presidential Election, then yes (in part). If you mean that Obama is sneakily bending the rules by appointing judges, then I wonder if you consider any exercise of power by an elected Democrat to be a legitimate one- perhaps this is another Kirkpatrickian "no moral equivalence" moment.

getting a pro-Obama majority to decide all those coming cases in his favor was the point of the exerices.

democracy sucks, doesn't it?

Yeah, that's my point: With this change, democracy now sucks more. Who wins elections now matters more. It is now less safe to ignore politics.

Mark Twain's famous statement that, "No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session." has just become less a joke, and more a horrible truth.

We should all mourn that. Nothing happened yesterday to celebrate about, the US just became a more dangerous place to live.

Just a tiny morsel I just picked up from the Rachel Maddow show. Currently (as of Nov. 1) there are 390 federal judges chosen by Republican presidents, 390 by Democratic presidents and 93 vacancies.

We should all mourn that. Nothing happened yesterday to celebrate about, the US just became a more dangerous place to live.

Again, Bill Frist committed the crime back in '05. There are a few people who might have objected on principle both *then* and *now*, when the body finally hit the ground.
Are you one of them?

And the whole crying-for-democracy thing is entirely unbelievable. You're crying because your side went for double-or-nothing and came home with nothing. You're crying because the GOP bluffed and got called.
Not a word of censure for the GOPers who first deployed this weapon and used the threat of it to get 75% of what they wanted? Not a word of censure for the GOPers who admittedly refused to confirm well-qualified judges and provoked this particular crisis?

Who wins elections now matters more.

Dont see that this follows at all. The 50th/51st vote in the Senate matters more. The 40th/60th vote matters less.
Perhaps you've forgotten the Massachusetts special election in '10 and why it was important (hint: the number 60 is involved), and how it wouldn't have been as important in a filibuster-less world.
Overall, the power of Washington hasn't changed one iota.

Like Carlton says, Brett's pearl-clutching about "elections now matter more" is simple innumeracy.

But I have to ask: what virtue does Brett see in elections that matter LESS?

Elections can only matter "less" when there's widespread consensus about policy, and all we're deciding is which candidate we'd rather have a beer with. Last time the American electorate voted on THAT basis, it learned a hard lesson.

--TP

I think most people recognize that the filibuster is not useful: outside the US senate, one never sees organizations that give 40% of voters a veto.

Nitpick from someone who is glad to see the filibuster die: "to enact any bill that includes a tax increase[,] Delaware, Mississippi, and Oregon require a three-fifths vote of each house". (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)

What wj said. Every word of it!

Pete Gaughan, as did California until recently. Spending on the other hand did not require it. This combination was one of the most important reasons for California's huge financial problems.
But usually requirements for supermajorities are explicitly written down in the statutes and limited to a few fundamental things. In the Constitution it's only about treaties, amendments to the constitution itself and removing people from office/impeachment (senators, POTUS, judges).

I wonder, could the expelling rule be used for a coup? If one party could reach 67 senate votes, could it simply expel all senators from the other party and rule as a rump parliament?

I wonder, could the expelling rule be used for a coup? If one party could reach 67 senate votes, could it simply expel all senators from the other party and rule as a rump parliament?

With 67 votes, why would it need to?


the hatred and intolerance of the Right for Obama has been one of the most virulent and comical farces i have seen since Bush left office. and watching Obama suck up to the Republican, lest he be called an "Angry Black Man", has been sad and demonstrative of Obama's special role as an easy target. i can't stand Obama, being a Republican in all but name. Pushing TPP for one and dumping Single Payer, for another. so to watch the Republicans go through the antics they do, well, it provides such drama and circuses that amuse me to no end.

and to watch the lies the Republicans get away with year after year just proves what a sorry bunch of thieves the Democrats are compared to the united cabal that is Republicans. it is just so sad, and funny, at times, to watch the dirt the Republicans dish out at the Democrats and Obama. so stupidly sad. the Base who vote for Republicans sure have a mean streak i understand, being from the South, hint, hint, wink, wink, and am glad i don't have.

at least the Tea Party makes no bones about hating Obama cause he's Black. that is refresheningly honest, however perverted and racist it may be.

to read tht something like half of all the Filibusters in the history of the Senate were used on Obama. lol. Gosh what a record!, that says it all. but Facts are not a Rightwing tool, having such a liberal basis to them.

The Democrats are active and willing stooges in the Rape of the Middle Class, the "chosen" fall guy. Democrats are a posse of actors playing out their role as supposed incompetent idiots in this comedy of errors used by Republicans to get over/scam the Middle Class.

the Republicans have succeeded in stopping Obama, (and announced this to all who cared to listen after Obama's inauguration(McConnell, in particular)), in just about every which way until Reid decided, at least with the Judicial appointments, that this aspect of the Game was up. and why just judicial appts? Obama is getting his just deserts by playing his part as Wall's St.'s point man. play with fire and you wind up getting burned sometimes. all for money, too. Obama will do well once he's no longer President. Sucking up has it price.

Despise Obama, as a Republican, and amazed at how the Republicans use him for cannon fodder. absolutely astounding to watch what Republicans do and say about Obama and then get away with everything. absolutely astounding. With Bush, we knew Bush didn't get it, so it was wasted effort. Gosh, how these Republican hate Obama or at least put on a show protesting so.

it's kind of nice to see Obamacare blow up in the Democrats faces after Obama killing Single Payer.

Actually, changing the equal representation of states in the Senate is the one and only thing the Constitution expressly forbids doing by amendment. Whether that prohibition could itself be amended is an interesting puzzle.

I think there's not a lot of question that it could be, theoretically speaking, in as much as there's no constitutional bar against that. The practical obstacle is, of course, that at least some of the smallest states would have to be brought on board. And why would they agree? It would be rather obvious that repealing that bar was the same as repealing the equality it protects.

Most likely, the equal representation in the Senate would be sacrificed as part of a wholesale revision of the Constitution, where they thought they were getting something in return.

Really, I wonder how much longer before the constitutional convention? I expect to see the states demand one in the next decade, but will Congress permit it to happen?

here's my favorite flippity flop:

Then:


Now, this is Point 2. There's a so-called "nuclear" option, which I don't like that term. Call it the Constitutional Option. It would end the use of the filibuster for judicial nominations. The Democrats are warning that if the Republicans change the filibuster rule on them, then all hell will break loose. I can't think of anything worse than what they've done and will continue to do, which is prevent the president from appointing judges in federal court, so let them break out their new version of hell. What more can they do on this? And let them try it. They don't have the political standing in the country to do this. They don't have the love and devotion of a majority of the American people, so if they're going to claim all hell will break lose, let's see what their hell is. But don't call this the nuclear option. Call it the constitutional option.
...
If the Senate, which has the constitutional right to make its own rules, decides that it wants to require a super-majority vote to pass certain bills such as tax bills -- and they can do that. They can write those rules all day long -- such a rule would not infringe on presidential power. But to do so when it affects a presidential power, which takes us into a separation of powers issue, like the appointment of judges, that is unconstitutional, in my layman's view.


Now:


let's take 10 people in a room and they're a group. And the room is made up of six men and four women. OK? The group has a rule that the men cannot rape the women. The group also has a rule that says any rule that will be changed must require six votes, of the 10, to change the rule. Every now and then, some lunatic in the group proposes to change the rule to allow women to be raped. But they never were able to get six votes for it. There were always the four women voting against it and they always found two guys.Well, the guy that kept proposing that women be raped finally got tired of it, and he was in the majority and he was one that [said], 'You know what? We're going to change the rule. Now all we need is five."

what was once the Constitutional option is now rape.

heckofa standard bearer you got there, GOP.

and you wonder why you have a problem with women voters.

I just responded, citing the "Constitutional Option," to a friend on facebook who posted some stupid article about Biden complaining back in 2005 about Republican threats to end the filibuster then, as though Democrats were the only ones being hypocritical about it.

I should probably just copy and paste the comment Posted by: cleek | November 22, 2013 at 11:20 AM in similar situations from now on and save myself some time.

Well, there is a slight difference, in that Limbaugh supported changing the rules, whereas Reid simply arranged to pretend they meant exactly what they still don't say.

Kind of the difference between amending the Constitution, and arranging for the Supreme court to say it suddenly means the opposite of what it says. They both work, in a sense, but they have significantly different degrees of legitimacy.

But, living Constitution, living Senate Rules, I guess it's in character.

Oh, and yeah, Limbaugh is a joke, isn't he? On that we agree.

whereas Reid simply arranged to pretend they meant exactly what they still don't say.

there's a parliamentarian in the Senate who could clear this up, if any of the GOP Senators thought it was enough of an issue to bring up. apparently they don't think it is. maybe that should be your first clue that there's nothing to it.

Limbaugh is a joke, isn't he?

he sure is. and he's your party's standard-bearer. you ought to work on that.

Kind of the difference between amending the Constitution, and arranging for the Supreme court to say it suddenly means the opposite of what it says.

It is telling in this regard that you have never posted anything arguing against the Lochner decision, nor a paean to Oliver W. Holmes' famous dissent.

Reid simply arranged to pretend they meant exactly what they still don't say.

Anybody out there who can transcribe this into straightforward declarative English?

"there's a parliamentarian in the Senate who could clear this up,"

He did, the parliamentarian ruled against Reid, then Reid had the Senate vote 51-49 to over-rule him.

"Anybody out there who can transcribe this into straightforward declarative English?"

The Senate rules have not been changed. The Senate rules still, explicitly, permit filibusters of judicial nominations. The vote Reid arranged for was simply a vote to override the Parliamentarian, and interpret the passage permitting the filibusters as though it prohibited them, even though the words still permit them.

It was not really different from the Senate voting that "Yes" would be read as meaning "No", but leaving the word "Yes" in the rules for anyone to read.

getting a pro-Obama majority to decide all those coming cases in his favor was the point of the exerices.

Oh come on Brett! Appointing judges to vacancies is part of his job. You may not like who the President (this or any other) decides to nominate. But you can't object to his doing so when there is a vacancy. Failure to do so would be cause for faulting the man, but not doing so.

And, be it noted, it isn't anything to do with these particular nominees. Even the Republicans in the Senate who were filibustering them admitted, in so many words, that there was nothing wrong with thsse individuals as candidates for the position. Nothing!

He did, the parliamentarian ruled against Reid, then Reid had the Senate vote 51-49 to over-rule him.

wait.. are you talking about the maneuver that is the nuclear option? that's what you're all mad about?

the hatred and intolerance of the Right for Obama has been one of the most virulent and comical farces i have seen since Bush left office.

Well that's taking the broad view.

"wait.. are you talking about the maneuver that is the nuclear option? that's what you're all mad about?"

What did you THINK I was mad about?

This is "A" maneuver that's the nuclear option, not "the"; When Republicans threatened the option, they were threatening to actually change the rule.

If Democrats had actually changed the rule, I'd have thought it a bad idea, and been annoyed, but as keeps getting thrown into my face, elections matter.

But they didn't, they just decided to keep the rule they had, and LIE ABOUT WHAT IT MEANT. They went full Humpty, dived down the post-modern rabbit hole, "Meanings? We don't need words to have no stinking meanings!".

Language is what separates us from the beasts. It's what allows us to settle our differences without violence. To stand language on it's head for a momentary convenience?

Yeah, I get mad over that.

yes, yes. in addition to destroying the wonderful comity and smooth legislative peristalsis of the Senate, Harry Reid broke the language. he's a monster beast.

again: if there is some kind of rule violation here, the parliamentarian can be consulted and her conclusion can be broadcast. has that happened? if not, you might consider that to be a sign that there's no there there.

Yes, damn it, that is exactly what happened. I assume you're waiting for CNN to report it, before you believe it?

WaPo:

Once that happened, Reid went nuclear. He raised a point of order calling for a majority vote to move forward. The Senate parliamentarian ruled Reid's motion out of order. Reid then appealed the ruling, and 52 Democrats supported him. That vote, in effect, altered the Senate rules: A simple majority is now sufficient to cut off filibusters on nominations.

You don't get to complain about the Senate not following its own rules when it follows its rules IOT do so, Brett. According to standing rules, parliamentarian appeals are not supermajority votes, so a 52-vote majority is a legitimate and sufficient vote to reverse the point of order.

I assume you're waiting for CNN to report it, before you believe it?

If only there was some way for the parliamentarian to communicate directly with people around the world, some kind of transport for hypertext, a protocol if you will, by which people could transmit text and video. Then we might have a chance of knowing what the parliamentarian thinks.

Oh well, I guess we must shoulder on in our ignorance. You more than the rest of us of course.

*the parliamentarian's point of order

It does seem as though, since the rules provide for an appeal of the parliamentatian's ruling, it isn't the rinal word on what is and is not allowed. According to the Senate's rules. It may be daft to not accept the ruling of an expert, but I'm struggling to think of a politician (not limited to them, of course) who gracefully did so when the expert opinion disagreed, on any topic, with his ignorant one. Even if he had appointed the expert to make such expert opinions.

It's also worth pointing out that the parliamentarian's office is explicitly advisory:

As a staff official, neither parliamentarian is empowered to make decisions that are binding on the House or Senate. The parliamentarians and their deputies/assistants only offer advice that the presiding Representative or Senator may accept or reject; individual Members may appeal rulings.

Also, United States v. Ballin is commonly held to mean that Congress can establish/change their rules by a simple majority vote - which makes said rules then requiring a supermajority vote to do so, um, interesting...

I expect to see the states demand one in the next decade, but will Congress permit it to happen?

I expect you are mistaken, because the voters in the states are the same ones voting for Congress. If the people really want one they'll get one. I doubt that they do or will soon though.

Well, there is a slight difference, in that Limbaugh supported changing the rules, whereas Reid simply arranged to pretend they meant exactly what they still don't say.

They both involve the bare majority overriding the parlimentarian's (straightforward and reasonable) interpretation of the rules and imposing a new interpretation by that bare majority. Both are power plays, using a majority vote to make the rules say something other than what they actually say. And you've decided that *one* way of saying the rules mean other than what they mean is fine, and the other way is beastial.
I must say, I am unsurprised to hear you find some wisp of a shadow of an emination of a penumbra as to how the 2005 nuclear option was just Congress behaving as it should but the 2013 nuclear option is some demonic travesty of the Constitution. Saddened, but unsurprised. You should try just saying "I think Frist was right in 2005 because he's on my side, and Reid is wrong in 2013 because he's not on my side", since this is plainly your process for arriving at conclusions. Backfilling with pseudologic is not convincing.

Bill Frist killed the filibuster in 2005, and the hard right applauded. You mad at someone for destroying America, putting us all at risk, starting a market run on hyperbole? Get mad at the 2005 GOP.

Anybody out there who can transcribe this into straightforward declarative English?

You can't get there from here...

What did you THINK I was mad about?

It's pretty obvious that you are upset that Obama gets to nominate, and the Senate Democratic Party majority gets to approve, appointments to the executive and judicial branch over GOP attempts to thwart the majority using arcane procedural methods.

You further assert the fact that Harry Reid trumped this obstructionism using even more arcane parliamentary legerdemain is what really upset you.

This is reasonably taken with a grain of salt by anybody familiar with your body of work.

You further assert the fact that Harry Reid trumped this obstructionism using even more arcane parliamentary legerdemain is what really upset you.

It's even better than that: it's that Reid used a majority to overrule the commonsense reading of a Senate rule, whereas the patriotic thing Bill Frist suggested in 2005 was using a majority to overrule the commonsense reading of a *different* Senate rule.
Reid used the *wrong* more arcane parliamentary legerdemain. Otherwise, Brett has to admit that the GOP started this.

Like the GOP started a fight by punching the Dems, and the Dems punched back. And Brett is saying- well, the GOP punched with the *right* fist, and that's just sporting and all in good fun. But the Dems punched back with the *left* fist, and that's clearly beyond the pale. Had we swung with the right fist, the complaint would be jab versus uppercut, or some other goddamn silly arbitrary after-the-fact line.

"wait.. are you talking about the maneuver that is the nuclear option? that's what you're all mad about?"

Hang on, you mean it *didn't* involve stuffing McConnell head-first into the core of a nuclear reactor?

Man, what a let down.

I don't think Ive seen anyone mention it, but I think that this outcome was made inevitable by the intolerance of the TPers for their own party's moderates.
The crisis of 2005 was resolved by peeling off moderate Dems from the filibuster with the simultaneous carrot of letting some judges go unconfirmed and the stick of the nuclear option.
But the Dems of the Gang Of 14 didn't face the risk of primary challengers due to ideological purity (well, Lieberman did, but not bc of the filibuster deal). If anything, burnishing 'moderate' cred was useful for folks like Pryor and Nelson.

There are 3 GOPers from the Gang Of 14 still in the Senate, and several other moderates who might (under pre-2010 circumstances) have leaned over the fence to make such a deal... but such a deal would be toxic as hell to their reputation with the far right.
And so, once again, the refusal of the TP to tolerate any sort of bargaining leads to a loss for the GOP as a whole. Im not sure how many lessons Ted Cruz is going to have to teach in "How To Pick A Fight And Then Lose It" before the rank-and-file catch on.

Weirdly, I didnt even hear rumors of serious deal negotiations before this thing went down. Which suggests to me that the usual suspect GOP moderates didn't even want a trial balloon floating around.

Oh, and yeah, Limbaugh is a joke, isn't he?

No doubt. But he's your joke. The fact is that Limbaugh is hugely influential among conservatives. Do you disagree?

Here's a question. Suppose some Republican Senator or Representative says what you just said, that Limbaugh is a joke. How would that go over? What would happen next?

Of course Limbaugh is a joke. He's a pompous windbag, in precisely the same way Don Rickles was an insulting jerk. Which is to say, it's his professional persona. I'd say too many of his audience, and far fewer of his detractors, understand this.

Now we've got your guy, who's also a joke, whose professional persona is "cool and competent administrator", but who isn't actually either, for president. But that joke is on you, not me, and I think you'll be a long time before you can laugh about it.

Yes, Limbaugh is influential, and I find that irritating. What I find irritating about it is that the reason he's influential isn't that he's a pompous blowhard, (Or anyway, plays one on the air.) but rather that he's the only person visible who can get away with expressing a lot of widely popular views. Basically because he wasn't taken seriously during his rise, and now is too big to silence.

Limbaugh is hugely influential, despite being a species of comedian, because our public discourse isn't quite so free as we like to imagine.

I honestly don't know what that defense of Limbaugh is meant to accomplish. What are you trying to convince us of?

Whether the move was justified or not, what's been running through my mind is whether the Dems' timing may be way off. Again, whether justified or not, a move like this invites retailiation in due course, and usually not 'in kind' but rather 'in excess'. So, retaliation is in the cards and the Repubs have their justification. Partisans won't agree--the fine details, you see--but they don't matter on something like this. Turnabout will be seen as fair play so the day of reckoning is coming, it's just a matter of when.

Against this background, can the Dems get enough done under the weight of ACA failures dominating the news and a Repub house to make this worthwhile in the long run?

If all the Dems get done is the DC Circuit court and some other appointments, will it have been worth it?

I'm betting not.

Sorry, just to be clear:

You say Limbaugh is a joke, he's doing a persona, etc. I assume this is meant to convey that us liberals are making a mistake if we think he sincerely means the horrendous things he says.

But then you also say he is influential and is the "only person visible who can get away with exressing a lot of widely popular views."

This is sort of bewildering. If he's hugely influential, why does it matter if he's sincere--shouldn't we take him seriously (in the sense that we consider him an important symptom of the Republican party) since he evidently has influence? And if his views are so popular, why is he the only one who can get away with saying them?

I think that what's concisely the matter with Limbaugh is that at best he is a cynical profiteer who makes his living stoking racism and misogyny in the Republican party, and he has been very effective at doing that. Whether you consider those views popular is really beside the point.

"If all the Dems get done is the DC Circuit court and some other appointments, will it have been worth it?

I'm betting not."

In what sense are you betting that it won't have been "worth it"? What is your predicted downside to eliminating the filibuster?

he's the only person visible who can get away with expressing a lot of widely popular views.

This is probably the single most disturbing thing anyone could say about the American body politic.

Which is to say, Americans.

And I don't think you need to distinguish between Limbaugh playing an obnoxious ass on the radio, and being one in real life. I don't think he's wearing a mask.

I basically agree that Limbaugh is popular because he says stuff a lot of people think but don't want to say. I can't begin to tell you how f***ed up that is.

Not that they don't want to say it, but that they think it. In numbers sufficient to give Limbaugh a very large audience, and make him a wealthy man.

None of this - precisely none - has anything to do with a lack of freedom in our political discourse.

What it has to do with is basic decency. An attribute by which Limbaugh is utterly unencumbered.

The man is a sick, sad human being.

If you're walking around thinking the things that Limbaugh says, and find yourself unwilling to utter them in public, you should consider that a sign of mental health and human decency, however vestigial.

If that is you, you do not need to have your public discourse liberated. You need psychotherapy, and maybe a course of lithium.

I think you're mistaking "basic decency" and "agreeing with Russell". But that's a mistake many people make, which is why it's important that it be possible to express things outside the bounds of basic decency, and disturbing when you have to be Rush Limbaugh to get away with saying things a huge number of people think.

Again, whether justified or not, a move like this invites retailiation in due course, and usually not 'in kind' but rather 'in excess'. So, retaliation is in the cards and the Repubs have their justification. Partisans won't agree--the fine details, you see--but they don't matter on something like this. Turnabout will be seen as fair play so the day of reckoning is coming, it's just a matter of when.

There is no way in heck that Republicans are going to do anything worse than they already do, all the time. They were filibustering every court appointee for no reason, other than to nullify the President's power under the Constitution. What else do they do? Obstruct, destroy, attempt to extort - for what? For their mantra about deficit reduction (which is an extremely dubious program, and which they only support when they're not looting the country by drumming up wars that will send huge portions of the treasury to Haliburton and other private companies).

Not sure what they can threaten that will be worse than what they already do on a regular basis. And what they're doing is obviously growing less popular by the day. They're losing more and more elections except when they're gerrymandered into office. Since this doesn't happen in the Senate, they'll just keep losing seats. Even, maybe, Texas.

saying things a huge number of people think.

so...

abolishing the filibuster on low-level judicial nominees is rape.

women vote Democratic because ""You are discriminated against, you’re treated unfairly, you get taken advantage of, you don’t get any relationships. Nobody loves you. You end up having babies that you can’t support. The dreaded fathers are never around; they walk out on you. They don’t pay their child support; we [Dems] will. They don’t pay your prenatal, your postnatal; we will. "

and

"Hu Jintao was just going, "Ching cha. Ching chang cho chow. Cha Chow. Ching Cho. Chi ba ba ba. Kwo kwa kwa kee. Cha ga ga. Ching chee chay. Ching zha bo ba. Chang cha. Chang cho chi che. Cha dee. Ooooh chee bada ba. Jee jee cho ba." Nobody was translating, but that's the closest I can get."

and

"T]he nags ... the national association of gals, that's our pet name for the NOW gang ... the nags are a bunch of whores to liberalism."

"Wanton little waifs and serfs dependent on the state." (about school lunch programs)

about torturing Iraqis:
"I'm talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release? You ever heard of need to blow some steam off?"

this is what a "huge number of people think"?

this is the "basic decency" you're on about?

In what sense are you betting that it won't have been "worth it"? What is your predicted downside to eliminating the filibuster?

I think this makes even less sense in the light of 2005; the GOP was sure to resurrect this gambit if they hold the Senate and the WH again in the near future.
So if the Dems had the gall to utilize the same threat that the GOP utilized 8 years ago (and were IMO sure to use again, after all what would be stopping them?), and *that* is apparently enough for the GOP to up the ante, that just seems like another way of saying that Dem goals are illegitimate but GOP goals are legitimate.

I think you're mistaking "basic decency" and "agreeing with Russell".

Yeah, being here for a while it's clear that russell's big problem is his rigid intolerance. That's not *your* problem, definitely russell's problem.
Also, Im entirely on board with Julian's confusion: what does it matter if your mindreading of Limbaugh suggests he's cynical- if he's saying things that 'everyone' is thinking, how is he a joke? Seems like you've opened the door to simultaneously supporting and dismissing what he says in the same breath. Like you want to agree with it but know it's unsupportable.

Limbaugh is hugely influential, despite being a species of comedian, because our public discourse isn't quite so free as we like to imagine.

There are plenty of right-wing columnists even more loathesome than Limbaugh (and some have also been popular, so surmounted these barriers to free discourse). I don't see the barriers that you describe- care to state them in more detail, or are they more useful by remaining vague and formless?

I think you're mistaking "basic decency" and "agreeing with Russell".

No, I'm not.

which is why it's important that it be possible to express things outside the bounds of basic decency

It's already possible to express things outside the bounds of basic decency. There is no law against it, people do it every day, they just don't have Limbaugh's talent for monetizing it.

You have no need to worry.

I think the confusion on your part is that you mistake expressing a contrarian opinion, and being a nasty rude flaming asshole.

If all the Dems get done is the DC Circuit court and some other appointments, will it have been worth it?

The GOP showed in 2005 they were willing to blow up the filibuster to get extreme ideologues on the bench. They consistently blocked Obama's picks. The Democrats were essentially in a 'no-lose' situation, and they took the rational step to complete the dismantling of a retrograde procedure that essentially favored the conservative cause.

This is a big loss for the GOP.

As far as the fillibuster goes, the Senate can do whatever it wants to regarding its procedural rules. Unless I'm mistaken, there is nothing about "fillibusters" in the Constitution.

The (R)'s wanted the same rule change when it was to their advantage to have it. The (D)'s made a deal to avoid that rule change, and honored it. The (R)'s did not honor it, and so now the rule has been changed.

When the (R)'s regain a majority, they will use the change to their own advantage.

That may result in very strong conservative SCOTUS appointments. I can't see how that would be different from what we've seen every other time the (R)'s have held the majority in recent years.

Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and on a bad day Roberts. These are the non-extreme conservative candidates?

Dark mutterings about "days of retaliation" seem like weak beer to me. That gun has already been fired, repeatedly.

I'm sure there will be times in the future when it will suck for folks like me that there's no filibuster. That's a shame. In the meantime, there's a backlog of executive and judicial appointments to process, and huge backlog of legislation to move forward.

Too bad it came to this, but it came to this.

Of course, there is still plenty of procedural BS in the Senate, including the ability of a single Senator to place a "hold" on nominees, or refusing to return a blue slip on a judicial nomination from a particular state. Perhaps this has/will change because of the filibuster change, but I've not heard of any changes.

smooth legislative peristalsis

Needs to be bronzed.

Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and on a bad day Roberts. These are the non-extreme conservative candidates?

Well, Russell, apparently there are some people out there who feel that they are non-extreme conservatives. Consider, if you will, what that means that the extreme candidates they are threatening are likely to be like. And what kind of people would even consider suggesting such people for the bench -- any bench, let alone the Supreme Court. ;-)

Consider, if you will, what that means that the extreme candidates they are threatening are likely to be like.

Who needs a fillibuster? I have a pitchfork.

Pitchfork?!?!? Real men use guns!

Pitchfork?!?!? Real men use guns!

I kick it old school.

I am personally more of an axe person.
Also better to combine with the torch since the pitchfork is a two-handed tool.
Also pitchforks tend to be bent a little by design and are thus less well adapted for throwing (unlike the axe).

If you straighten a pitchfork you have a trident. Or possibly a quadrident.

But tridents have to be combined with nets not torches. And one needs a hammer to straighten the pitchfork which again comes only with a sickle.

Hartmut,

Despite what the label says, you can remove the tag "do not remove under penalty of law" from pillows and mattresses. The same holds for sickles and hammers. None of my hammers have sickles any more, and I find they actually work better without them.

Still miss 'em once and a while.....especially after a few beers and a rousing chorus of the "Internationale".

Of course they can be separated but still one has to find a place to stick the sickle to while using the hammer, and one should not leave sickles lying around (esp. with children in the vicinity).
Btw, just a few daysa ago I retexted that song (while being sober but in a playful mood). It became a call for a zombie rebellion against those uperclass vampires that corner all the virgins.

Hartmut, the solution to the torch "problem" with pitchforks is right there in the name: flaming balls of pitch impaled on a tine or two.

Also, any axe worth brandishing is gonna take two hands to brandish properly, so it'll be just as encumbering, only w/o the handy tines.

NV, you have been poisoned by the crap from fantasy movies. A proper battle axe* is a single handed weapon (as is a nice hatchet as Carry A. Nation could tell you who expertly wielded one in combination with a six-shooter).

*not the relative

Actually, I was thinking of a utilitarian axe of the sort you'd use to fell a tree. Moreso broad axe than battle axe. We are talking about angry mobs, after all; you wanna have dual-use work implements, not dedicated weapons. Although fine, I'll concede that more hatchety axes aren't without their place in a mob.

A modern mob would go for baseball bats and blowtorches anyway. Pitchforks are a rarity outside rural areas (and modern mobs are urban).
No Mollies, we* are Americans and cocktails are for those effete French (btw the very word effete sounds French). The jury is open on throwing filibusters.

*not that that would include me. Btw, over here there were penalties to pay for showing up with wood axes instead of battle axes (and again, no female relative counts as substitute)

i prefer the post-maul - it's good for splittin and for smashin.

the trick is to get your enemy to set his head on the stump just right, and hold there while you wind up...

A well-coordinated billiards-ball mob would be pretty formidable, no?

Now, the targets could always reuse them to return fire, but who the heck didn't like a good game of dodgeball in gym class? I mean, if it was fun with a lightweight, inflatable rubber ball, I have to think it would be way funner with something hard and dense that could do some real damage - so much more adrenaline ... and blood!

Oh, and happy Thanksgiving, BTW...

ok, this is escalating rapidly. time for a new plan.

i'm gonna leave the pitchfork at home and go full metal jacket wavy-gravy-style with an arsenal of cream pies, seltzer bottles, water balloons, and super-soakers.

nothing like a good laugh to bring things back into perspective.

hope everybody has a great thanksgiving. hope everyone has lots to be thankful for, i know that i do.

see you all on the flipside.

"Historical" moments are better discussed with the benefit of looking backwards.

I believe the Obama presidency is full of those moments. Those that only history can adequately judge. This is another, one I suspect will be fraught with unintended consequences.

That makes two this week, the Iran abomination is the other, of course.

The depth of his desire for a credible legacy is picking up the pace of his folly.

Just stopped in to say Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Happy foreboding thanksgiving to you too, bud.

Marty: "That makes two this week, the Iran abomination is the other, of course."

I don't think that you know what that word actually means.

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