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Not So Much With The Nuclear

So the headline today is that the senate “invoked the nuclear option” and made a rules change that would limit the endless filibustering.

Not so fast. Using the term “nuclear” makes it sound ginormous, when it’s really not. To be clear, what the senate did today was to ensure that a majority vote on executive branch and non-Supreme Court judicial nominations. That’s it. They eliminated the “super majority” nonsense only on executive branch nominees. Nothing else. The minority in the senate can still filibuster everything else. So we’re still stuck in super majority hell for any other bill.

Why such a limited “nuclear” strike, when they could have effectively eviscerated the filibuster? The standard argument is that democrats understand that they will one day be in the minority, and are therefore not interested in neutering minority rights. Nonsense. The senate changed the rules today. They can change the rules tomorrow, and every day after that. And if democrats in the senate don’t think that republicans won’t go ahead and eviscerate the rights of the minority if they ever take over, they haven’t been paying attention to GOP tactics. Republicans went “nuclear” when they launched an unprecedented number of filibusters on the duly elected majority. I’m not buying the “looking ahead at future ramifications” horseshit argument.

No, I think that democrats limited the radius of the nuclear strike because they want the cover that having recalcitrant republicans give them. The blue dogs and the corporatists like being able to avoid taking votes on many of the issues that republicans filibuster. Not voting on those issues allows them to keep both their “blue dog” and their “democrat” cred. This enables certain democrats (like Dianne Feinstein, for example) to not cast votes that may jeopardize their seats. I mention Dianne Feinstein specifically, because I really believe she would be in trouble in California if she had to let her blue dog freak flag fly. Most of the blue dog senators would probably be safe because they legitimately represent states whose views are blue doggedy. But the corporatists would be in trouble.

This “nuclear” vote wasn’t about making government run much more smoothly. It was limited for a reason. I suspect that Harry Reid was worried about protecting “democratic” seats. I think he’s mostly wrong. I think that if a corporatist democrat gets ousted for being too corporatist, they’re more likely going to be replaced by a more democraty candidate, than they are by a republican. Limiting the “simple majority” to executive branch nominees isn’t going to have much impact on elections, since most people don’t pay much attention to judicial nominees.

While it may seem like Harry Reid took a giant step forward to restore democracy, it’s really just a tiny little baby step. Don’t everyone get too excited over this.

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Your Work Is Not Done Part I

Now that the distraction of the election is over, it’s time to get to work. I know that you thought that you were done after you voted, but you’re not. Don’t worry conservatives, this series of posts won’t all be about pushing a liberal agenda so bear with me through this post. I promise they won’t all annoy you.

So liberals, I’m speaking to you right now. There’s something you need to do immediately, and repeatedly over the course of the next eight weeks, in order to get congress moving along again. Basically nothing changed last night, in terms of the balance of power. Congress is still held by a GOP majority, the senate is still democratically controlled (albeit by a slightly larger margin), and democrats still have the white house. This means that the do nothing gridlock that we’ve been treated to for the past four years may continue.

I say may, because we can put pressure on Harry Reid to stop it. We need to send Harry Reid a torrent of letters and faxes demanding that he change the filibuster rules. The majority leader can change senate rules with a simple majority at the beginning  of each session. A new session begins when the new senators are sworn in, in January. We need to send letters and faxes to Harry Reid immediately and frequently. Additionally, you need to send one letter or fax to your democratic senator asking them to vote for a rule change. I want you to send letters and faxes as opposed to emails because they’re more impactful. They create a physical presence and a physical mass. It’s harder to gauge the volume of emails than it is to look at a stack of physical paper and get a sense of the volume.

This will take maybe fifteen minutes of your time, so it’s not a huge undertaking. You spent more time voting, even if everything went smoothly. Not it’s time to make that vote mean something. We need to stop the minority from hijacking the government at every turn. Ignore the bullshit about how changing the rules will eventually hurt “your team” when they’re in the minority. The majority leader, any majority leader can always change the rules at the start of a new session. I promise you that republicans will change the rules if they ever regain control.

This rule change will empower the president you voted for to move his agenda forward. And if he doesn’t, you will all know that he, and not congress is the problem. I’m tired of hearing this crap about how powerless Obama is, in order to defend him. I’ve never believed that he’s as powerless as some people maintain. Regardless, let’s find out. If we discover that he’s the problem, we can focus our pressure on him. Here is the contact information for Harry Reid’s Washington office; 

          522 Hart Senate Office Building 

          Washington, DC 20510

          Fax: 202-224-7327

Click on this link to get the mailing and fax information for your senator.

You have to do this in order to make last night’s vote count! Please, I’m begging you! Don’t make me get bitchier!

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Pro Lemming?

I have been seeing a lot of talk in left wing media suggesting that we should band together to go after every democrat that ever votes with republicans on anything. Really?

Isn’t the problem with the republican party that they vote in lockstep? Can you be angry at them for doing so while demanding that democrats do the same? Do you not see the hypocrisy here?

I have several issues with this stance beyond the obvious hypocrisy.

Let’s start with the inexplicable blind faith that you would have to have in the democratic party for this ideology to work for you. You would have to believe that democrats are a sage and wise group that never make mistakes in judgment. You would also have to believe, despite all evidence to the contrary, that democratic representatives are always working to represent your best interest. If you really believe those things, I suggest that you take a hard look at how NAFTA has affected America’s financial interests in the world. Nobody is right all the time, and anyone that believes otherwise is a lemming.

Our founding fathers were quite brilliant when they wrote the constitution. Article one enumerates the powers of congress, which means that they intended for a body of representatives to have more of the power. Article two enumerates the powers of the president. They clearly intended to create a government in which a chorus of opinions come together so that they are forced to form a consensus. When was the last time you wrote out a to-do list and put the most important thing second on that list? They weren’t interested in having one voice rule. They fled from a king, and were obviously determined to prevent that from happening here.

I like the idea of having 535 people with different points of view debating issues and fighting for their position. I inherently believe that the best chance we have of getting a good result is to have a system where the best argument rises to the top. It would be fantastic if these opinions weren’t corporate owned, but that’s a topic for a whole other post. If I had it my way, John Cornyn and Russ Feingold would be in a boxing ring shouting at each other until they reach a compromise on every issue. I believe that the right answer is usually in the middle.

Please liberals, don’t fall into the pro lemming position that you despise. Promoting a sophomoric group think mentality is not the answer here, it’s the problem.

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