Graffiti politti

11 03 2015

No, the letter from 47 Republican Senators (and since co-signed by Rick Perry and Bobby Jindal) isn’t treasonous, but it is both factually incorrect and, I would argue, not the most effective way for senators to influence foreign policy.

In other words, it is both legitimate and stupid.

This justification, however, is, tsah, I don’t even know what the correct epithet would be:

Republican aides were taken aback by what they thought was a lighthearted attempt to signal to Iran and the public that Congress should have a role in the ongoing nuclear discussions. Two GOP aides separately described their letter as a “cheeky” reminder of the congressional branch’s prerogatives.

“The administration has no sense of humor when it comes to how weakly they have been handling these negotiations,” said a top GOP Senate aide.

“Cheeky”? What is this, Biff and Tad pranking the dean?

And this pretty much sums up my beliefs about the latest Clinton scandale.

~~~

h/t for comic, Jonathan Bernstein





It was sad, so sad

21 11 2013

Don’t do it, Harry! Don’t do it! You’ll regret it! Why, we might turn around and cram the courts full of Scalias and Thomases and. . .

Wait, what’s that you say? That that’s what we did, anyway? Weelllll, we’ll just. . .

BOOM!

~~~

Dave Weigel has some really nice observations at Slate, noting in particular that

They didn’t demand the change because they’re ignorant about the 2014 polls. If they lose that election, they’ll have given themselves a year to confirm judges and executive nominees. If they lose the presidency in 2016, they’ll have empowered a Republican to put judicial robes on whichever Federalist Society member he wants. But they expected Republicans to break the filibuster anyway. “I know that if there is a Republican president and a Republican majority,” Sen. Merkley said this month, “they will force up-and-down votes, because they demonstrated their commitment to that principle in 2005.”

Merkley’s opponents never really reckoned with his logic. Progressives did not consider filibuster reform a “risk.” They saw a way to kick over an impediment to majority rule, before Republicans took power and kicked it over themselves. They’re trading something that might have brought “consensus” for something that empowers the party that wins elections. And they’re fine with that.

Just so.

And now we see what happens next.





I would not run from the bomb

21 11 2013

Nuke ’em, Harry! Nuke ’em!

I’m referring to the change in Senate rules in which presidential nominees and sub-Supreme Court federal court nominees could be confirmed with a majority vote, i.e., could no longer be filibustered, but it sounds so much more fun to say “NUUUUUKE THEMMMM!”

Even Jonathan Bernstein, who is generally a fan of (kinda) the filibuster, agrees that the Republicans aggressive use of the filibuster has gone out of whack. His tolerance of the filibuster is based in his wariness of majoritarianism, and his belief in the necessity of keeping the minority in the game.

These are important considerations, and I appreciate Bernstein’s tempered historical approach to Senate history. Given that power shifts from Democrats to Republicans and back again with some regularity, not treating the losing party as, well, losers, makes sense: they need to keep a hand in governance.

If that losing party holds no interest in governance, however, and refuses to take any responsibility for the actions of the US government as a whole, then, Bernstein concedes, nuking the minority’s ability to stifle action makes more sense than deferring to it.

I come at this from a different direction, from the necessity of accountability rather than deference. Even when the Republicans were in control of the Senate I supported filibuster reform: if the electorate voted for Republicans, then they (we) ought to deal with the consequences of those elections. If we don’t like those consequences, we should vote differently.

There are problems with this position, of course: this is a policy-first approach, and most people don’t care about policy. As such, my whole notion of weakening or removing the brakes on majority action  might not lead to any greater accountability: if you don’t connect policy to party, then passage of a hated/loved policy won’t necessarily lead to lessened/greater attachment to party.

Still, it’s possible that among the reasons for weak linkage between policy and party attachment (esp. in terms of voting) is that Congressmembers have been able to shrug off responsibility for policy (in)action amidst the thicket of Senate rules. Maybe if we Americans could no longer count on a minority to stifle the majority we would actually have to come to terms with the consequences of our votes.

Maybe not. Maybe Bernstein’s caution is correct. But maybe the best way to figure this out is to  NUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUKE the Senate filibuster rule.





That’s show biz, big boy

4 06 2013

One of the most powerful people in the US, and thus, the world, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell:

“There’s a culture of intimidation throughout the executive branch of the federal government,” McConnell told reporters in response to a question about nominations and listed a number of agencies. “There’s also a culture of intimidation here in the Senate.”

And of what does this intimidation consist? Prosecution? Confinement? Threats of torture enhanced interrogation?

McConnell accused Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) of planning to break a promise he made in January about not messing with Senate filibuster rules. Reid has been hinting for weeks that he may be ready for a filibuster fight this summer if Republicans don’t ease off their blocking of Obama’s nominees.  . . .

“I asked him again this morning whether he intends to keep his word to the Senate and the American people,” McConnell said. “We don’t intend to be intimidated by him with a constant threat to break the rules in order to change the rules. If that’s what’s going to happen, we want to know it now, not some other time. Now.”

Oh no! He might maybe possibly be thinking of. . . CHANGING THE RULES! Oh, the humanity! However can such a fragile flower be expected to work in such a threatening environment?!

Candy ass.





On and on, on and on, on and on

7 03 2013

For all the problems with his mention of Lochner and his unconcern about the use of lethal and surveillance techs on non-US-citizens and  his multitude of other shitty positions. . .

Rand Paul, after ending his filibuster.           Charles Dharapak/AP

. . . Senator Rand Paul did a solid in filibustering since-confirmed CIA chief John Brennan on the issue of presidential authority over the use of drones against American citizens.

And fie on those Democrats who didn’t support him. President Obama has been dreadful on drones, and there is not a little justification for those who claim that many Dems* who screamed about power grabs by President Bush are rather aggressively silent when it’s their guy doing the grabbing.

I’m not surprised by this silence, mind you, but goddamn Democrats, do you have to be so disappointingly and opportunistically predictable?

(*It is not fair to go after leftists and liberals in general, as this is among a number of issues about which various libs, commies, and other malcontents have excoriated Obama and the Dems.)

I’m sympathetic to (my old grad school colleague) Sarah Binder’s concern that “In an age of intense policy and political differences between the parties, no corner of Senate business is immune to filibusters.” And she notes that Paul’s talking filibuster overshadowed the threat-filibuster of the nomination of Caitlin Halligan to the DC Court of Appeals, which meant her nomination was blocked.

I was among those who, back when the Democrats were in the minority in the Senate, believed that the filibuster ought to be reformed; that the old asses of the Democratic leadership knocked back any chance of real reform at the beginning of this session is an ongoing irritation. I believe in effective and accountable government, and the way the filibuster has been all-too-often deployed hinders responsible government.

Still, if ever the filibuster were to be justified, this is it. Given the expansion of presidential power in the ever-expanding national security state—with the acquiescence of the majority of the members of Congress—Senator Paul’s willingness to take a stand on the matter of a presidential perogative to assassinate citizens ought to be applauded.

And so I do.