Thursday, November 21, 2013


You know the news, I'm sure:
The Senate voted on Thursday to eliminate the use of the filibuster against most presidential nominees, a move that will break the Republican blockade of President Obama's picks to cabinet posts and the federal judiciary....

Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, denounced Democrats for trying to "break the rules to change the rules" ...

"You think this is in the best interest of the United States Senate and the American people?" Mr. McConnell asked, sounding incredulous. "I say to my friends on the other side of the aisle, you’ll regret this. And you may regret it a lot sooner than you think."
Yeah, yeah, yeah -- so we might have a Republican president and Senate in 2017 (I agree that that's possible), and if so, Democrats will have taken a big arrow out of their own quiver.

But especially with regard to judges, the pool from which Republican presidents draw appointees is so extreme already that Democratic filibusters have been only a minor impediment to the GOP's efforts to drag the courts to the right. Appointees regarded as well within the pale by the Establishment are pretty damn far to the right. So what do Democrats risk losing? What's the worst-case scenario? We get Judge Ann Coulter rather than Judge Janice Rogers Brown?

If I see any downside to this, it's that the mainstream press will declare that this establishment of majority rule as a Senate principle for appointees is equivalent to another attempted shutdown or moment of default brinkmanship next January and February -- the press will act as if the two \ are equally childish and lamentable. And the public may just stupidly nod and agree.

But mainstream journalists always find something Democrats are doing that allegedly cancels out any genuinely extreme thing Republicans are doing -- if it wasn't this, it would be some Democrat's offhand comment, or maybe Obama not arranging a golf date with John Boehner.

And as for Mitch McConnell's direst threat -- to end the filibuster on everything in response to this -- I'm not worried. It's been suggested that he'd do it if Republicans win the Senate in 2014. Really? With Obama still president, just so Republicans can vote to repeal Obamacare and pass a lot of other bills the president will simply veto? And would McConnell really change the rules this way with a 2016 election coming up that's likely to have heavy Democratic turnout and a good possibility of the Senate flipping back to the Democrats? Doubt it.

So thank you, Harry Reid and colleagues, for dropping this nuclear bomb.


AND: If we're talking about McConnell eliminating the filibuster altogether in 2017 as payback if he has a majority and a Republican president and House, why do we think he'd need the pretext of this partial elimination of the filibuster by Democrats? Isn't it likely that he would have eliminated the filibuster no matter what?

The template for the modern GOP is what happened in Wisconsin after the 2010 elections: a blitzkrieg of punitive, revanchist legislation using every parliamentary tool at the new GOP majority's disposal. In the U.S. Senate, that would have included the gutting of the filibuster. It's always been likely if they get total control. This doesn't make it any more likely.


Victor said...


Stand back!
Stand back, or you’ll be deafened by the waling and shrieking!

And don’t look, or if you do, wear protective goggles, becauser their tit’s will be in a hurricane-like uproar- and there might be flying debris!!

Get the “Jaws-of-life,” to pry the knickers that will be knotted-up far past their colon’s!!!

And put on Kevlar helmet’s, because the Republicans heads will explode!!!!!

And, don’t listen, because ALL you’ll hear until Election Day 2014, is how the Republicans ARE THE REAL VICTIMS!!!

Completely innocent babe’s in the Washington woods!

Victims of that Kenyan SocialiFasciCommuMusliHeathen Usurper’s TYRANNY!


Which they desperately want to return to.


Unknown said...

Glad Harry finally got enough votes. He's been unfairly maligned because of cowardly red-state Dems. And like you say, what difference does it make anyway? Now Obama gets to shape the courts in the way he deserves to. He'll appoint moderates, they'll appoint extremists. SOS. And what, exactly, is Levin's problem? I respect his legislative legacy, but he's retiring anyway. And the Republicans that he once was able to have bi-partisan agreement with is long-gone.

Danp said...

When David Vitter said it is "scary and dictatorial!", all I could think of is, "just like Steve M. But no, that was hateful and totalitarian."

: smintheus :: said...

Going back to the 60s, each of the last three times the GOP has been in the minority in the Senate it has approximately doubled the rate of filibuster use. Then when Dems went into the minority, they more or less maintained the rate they inherited from Republicans.

So the Republican strategy for two generations has been to keep upping the ante, and for Dems it was to stand pat. The Dems have finally upped the ante making it harder for Republicans to up the ante in the future. And the GOP's brilliant idea is now to eliminate the ante? That'll teach 'em.

Glennis said...

By the next time the Republicans take the Senate, McConnell will be in his dotage or taking a dirt bath.

Victor said...

Also too - to WI, add NC.

Philo Vaihinger said...

"And as for Mitch McConnell's direst threat -- to end the filibuster on everything in response to this -- I'm not worried."

I wish to fuck they would, once and for all.

Let's at least try to make the senate less a fucking anachronistic atrocity against democracy, for Christ's sake!

If we can't abolish it or replace it with an upper house that equally represents people instead of arbitrary acreage, anyway.

Jesus fucking Christ, America is full of endless bullshit about democracy and popular sovereignty right up until the many threaten the few.

And then suddenly we're all much too fucking aristocratic and special to let the sweaty mob have its way.

Democrats, we are the many, the rich are the few.

Figure it out, for Chrissake!

The same anti-majoritarian devices that on rare occasions protect us from them mostly empower them and do us harm.

Or maybe you think we should have stuck with the King and his fucking Lords Temporal and Spiritual?

Serfdom was really not so bad, eh?

Fucking idiots.

Shipping / Receiving said...

Harry Reid at this point really ought to just say "Okay fine, you win. And I tell you what, I'll save you the trouble! Let's just end the filibuster for those Supreme Court nominations right now. Anything other threats you'd like me to take care of for you while I'm at it"?