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claymisher
04-28-2009, 12:50 PM
I'm sure you've heard the news already. This is pretty exciting stuff. I like John Cole's take:

And on a serious note, I think this is how party switching should be done. At the end of the term and then run on the ticket with your new party, not right after an election. Additionally, the weirdest thing about being a Democrat is I don’t feel any different than I did when I was a Republican, other than that I no longer have to make excuses for crazy and stupid people.


http://www.balloon-juice.com/?p=20528

Starwatcher162536
04-28-2009, 01:25 PM
Looks like Specter will probably face off against Pat Toomey in the next general election. I can see why Specter wanted to change parties, he would not be able to win against Toomey in the Republican primaries, but will stomp him in a general election.

This is a good case for illustrating the weakness of having primaries. People that will do good in a primary are often to extreme to appeal to independents.

For a good look at Toomey's voting record that gives a little bit of context:
http://www.ontheissues.org/PA/Pat_Toomey.htm

claymisher
04-28-2009, 01:37 PM
Snowe and Collins might as well make the switch now too. They're not any more conservative than Specter is, and I'm sure they'd feel more productive and have an easier time of it being in the majority.

graz
04-28-2009, 03:38 PM
Olympia Snowe says: (http://www.alternet.org/wire/12/snowegophasabandonedprinciplesspecterswitchdevasta ting)

So far, she said, she’s staying put. "I believe in the traditional tenets of the Republican Party: strong national defense, fiscal responsibility, individual opportunity. I haven’t abandoned those principles that have been the essence of the Republican Party. I think the Republican Party has abandoned those principles.

TwinSwords
04-28-2009, 05:20 PM
Except for POSSIBLY the short term advantage of having an extra Democrat in the Senate*, I think this is bad news for the Democrats.

Now, instead of having an excellent chance of having a new Democratic Senator from PA in 2010 -- a real Democrat -- we are facing the probability of getting a lifelong conservative Republican.

How is that supposed to help the causes we believe in?


*How much of a short-term advantage it will be is unclear. Are we going to give Specter chairmanship of a committee or two? A conservative Republican? Again, I'm not clear how that helps the Democratic agenda.

AemJeff
04-28-2009, 05:29 PM
Except for POSSIBLY the short term advantage of having an extra Democrat in the Senate*, I think this is bad news for the Democrats.

Now, instead of having an excellent chance of having a new Democratic Senator from PA in 2010 -- a real Democrat -- we are facing the probability of getting a lifelong conservative Republican.

How is that supposed to help the causes we believe in?


*How much of a short-term advantage it will be is unclear. Are we going to give Specter chairmanship of a committee or two? A conservative Republican? Again, I'm not clear how that helps the Democratic agenda.

Specter is actually a former Democratic Philadelphia DA who became a Republican for exactly the same reason he's now becoming a Democrat - expediency. He's also well north of seventy years old and is a cancer survivor. PA is trending blue - the followup to Specter will, assuming current trends, be a Democrat. What he's done is make Toomey irrelevant. I've never voted for the SOB before - I almost certainly will in the next election. (He'll sail through the Democratic primary.)

claymisher
04-28-2009, 05:36 PM
Except for POSSIBLY the short term advantage of having an extra Democrat in the Senate*, I think this is bad news for the Democrats.

Now, instead of having an excellent chance of having a new Democratic Senator from PA in 2010 -- a real Democrat -- we are facing the probability of getting a lifelong conservative Republican.

How is that supposed to help the causes we believe in?


*How much of a short-term advantage it will be is unclear. Are we going to give Specter chairmanship of a committee or two? A conservative Republican? Again, I'm not clear how that helps the Democratic agenda.

At least Specter will be on his best behavior until the primary comes.

TwinSwords
04-28-2009, 06:01 PM
Specter is actually a former Democratic Philadelphia DA

Ah, very interesting. Thanks for the correction.


...who became a Republican for exactly the same reason he's now becoming a Democrat - expediency.
Exactly. His switch back to the Democratic Party is reflects his awareness of his twin dilemmas: His difficulty winning a primary in a party increasingly composed of wingnuts, and his difficulty winning the general election in a state increasingly composed of Democrats.

Basically, he's pulling a Lieberman-like move to avoid defeat.



I've never voted for the SOB before - I almost certainly will in the next election. (He'll sail through the Democratic primary.)

That's the weirdest thing about this: people who've always voted against him will now be voting for him, and vice versa. Same guy, same beliefs, but a brand new constituency. (Of course, I'm sure there are a lot of people who voted for him as a Republican and will vote for him against as a Democrat.)

This does illustrate another point, however: As the Republican Party shifts to the right, it is dragging the Democratic Party along with it. In some ways, this can be counted as a good thing. But personally, I would prefer a real Democrat to Specter.

TwinSwords
04-28-2009, 06:03 PM
At least Specter will be on his best behavior until the primary comes.

Yeah, probably. The advantage is entirely short term, I believe. But even then I have my doubts, if it means giving him control over an important committee.

The moronic media keeps reporting that this will give the Democrats the votes they need to break filibusters -- as if it works that way.

bjkeefe
04-28-2009, 06:16 PM
I'm sure you've heard the news already. This is pretty exciting stuff. I like John Cole's take:

http://www.balloon-juice.com/?p=20528

I hadn't, being AFK for a while, so thanks for posting this. A great thing to come back to.

I loved how John flipped Grover Norquist's line around.

uncle ebeneezer
04-28-2009, 06:39 PM
Well, I think you can always look at it from the viewpoint of who is going to stand in the way of progressive legislation. Although the reality is more complicated, I think there is something to be said for the viewpoint that by joining the Democratic Party, he will be less likely to stand in the way of progressive stuff that he might not fully endorse.

bjkeefe
04-28-2009, 06:51 PM
The moronic media keeps reporting that this will give the Democrats the votes they need to break filibusters -- as if it works that way.

And from earlier:

Basically, he's pulling a Lieberman-like move to avoid defeat.

That's the weirdest thing about this: people who've always voted against him will now be voting for him, and vice versa. Same guy, same beliefs, ...

This does illustrate another point, however: As the Republican Party shifts to the right, it is dragging the Democratic Party along with it.

I'm surprised at your cynicism and lack of enthusiasm, Twin. While I don't think your reaction is without merit, let me offer the positive (spin) take, based only on reading that John Cole post and my memory of Specter.

It is possible he's going Holy Joe to deal with Toomey's challenge. It's also possible to see this as a smart political calculation rather than a move of desperation (the way Lieberman's was); i.e., why have a bruising and expensive battle if you don't have to? On a related note, while it would be nice to think that a liberal Democrat could beat him in the general, I am with Jeff in thinking Specter wins there no matter what capital letter comes after his name.

As to the filibuster issue: I agree that it's not a slam dunk. However, it's very likely that it means, at least on some pieces of legislation, a vote that the Dems don't have to work to get anymore, which means another measurable amount of watering down that they don't have to do.

As to the "same guy, same beliefs" idea, my sense of Specter is that he has on any number of occasions given a clear sign that he has voted the party line against his conscience. Specific examples don't come to mind right now, and I'll do some Googling if you insist, but I'm sure about this instinct. I expect that Specter will make us happy with his voting from here on out, more often than note.

And on a related note, and to address your Dems-moving-to-the-right concern, I'll say this: It is my sense that, since 2006, the core of the Democratic Party has been developing more confidence in pushing on issues that lefties care about and that they are more willing to stick to their guns in battles over these. Not perfectly, by any stretch, but better. In particular, they seem to be happy to rally around Obama when he makes a "this much and no further" statement on something like health-care legislation. (I am speaking here of his insistence that the reconciliation process (http://bjkeefe.blogspot.com/2009/04/storm-warning.html) be included in the road map to getting a bill passed.)

I also believe that rather than the core of the Democratic Party moving to the right, what we're seeing here is the GOP on a crazy plunge off a far-right cliff, with some more moderate Republicans and conservatives looking for shelter under the edge of the Democratic big tent. This is a good way to implement the theme of unifying the country that Obama ran on -- rather than trying to get every last person to go along (and have to compromise too much), you write off, say, the unyielding 20% (http://bjkeefe.blogspot.com/2009/04/convergence.html), and concentrate on working with the rest.

To invoke another cliché, this could be seen as another case not of a man leaving a party, but a party leaving him. Presumably, you did not view Zell Miller's stunt in 2004 as an indication that the GOP was moving leftward.

So, yeah. This isn't an unalloyed come-to-Jesus move on Specter's part, and in an ideal world, we'd think about a more solidly liberal Democrat replacing him in 2010. But in the spirit of politics as the art of the possible, I find a lot to be happy about in today's news.

Final thought: in saying "come-to-Jesus," I just had a dark thought flit through my mind. I saw Specter come close to making this switch when he was first diagnosed with cancer. I wonder if he has the sense that he is in the home stretch of his life, and is less concerned about reelection than he is about setting some things right in the (short) time he has remaining. I hasten to say that I am not basing this on any news that I've heard along these lines, but I thought I'd throw it out there, maybe just to have someone else shoot it down.

bjkeefe
04-28-2009, 07:11 PM
But even then I have my doubts, if it means giving him control over an important committee.

FWIW, from the WaPo (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/28/AR2009042801523.html) (page 2):

Specter will receive his seniority among Democrats as if he had been elected as a Democrat in 1980, when he rode into office on the coattails of Ronald Reagan's conservative revolution. That effectively means Specter will become chairman of a key subcommittee on the Appropriations Committee, probably the one overseeing the departments of Labor and Health and Human Services. Specter also acknowledged that becoming full appropriations committee chairman -- something that could take another six to 10 years -- "is something I'd like to attain."

bjkeefe
04-28-2009, 07:15 PM
Olympia Snowe says: (http://www.alternet.org/wire/12/snowegophasabandonedprinciplesspecterswitchdevasta ting)

More from Snowe and Collins, from page 2 of a WaPo (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/28/AR2009042801523_2.html) article:

Other moderate Republicans acknowledged they, too, have been approached about changing parties. Sen. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, the Maine Republicans who along with Specter provided the three pivotal votes for Obama's $787 billion stimulus legislation, both said today they have been approached. Neither would comment about how recent the overtures were, although Collins said she has been asked roughly four times during her 12 years in the Senate to consider becoming a Democrat.

"It's something I would never do," she said.

Snowe called Specter's decision "devastating news" for Republicans, particularly Northeastern Republicans who have almost vanished in the Senate during the past decade. "Many Republicans feel alienated and disaffected from the party," Snowe said. "It just helps nourish a culture of exclusion and alienation."

TwinSwords
04-28-2009, 08:35 PM
I think there is something to be said for the viewpoint that by joining the Democratic Party, he will be less likely to stand in the way of progressive stuff that he might not fully endorse.

This is possible, and it's the short-term benefit to the Democrats I was saying is the only upside to Specter's party switch. But Specter has already indicated he's going to vote with the reactionary extremist party on card check, and "Obama's pick to head the Office of Legal Counsel, Dawn Johnsen (http://thinkprogress.org/2009/04/28/specter-opposes-johnsen/)."

Specter is going to be one more of exactly the kind of Democrat we don't need. I'll grant that he'll be nominally better as a Democrat than as a Republican, but that benefit expires in January, 2011, which is when we otherwise would have replaced him with a genuine Democrat.

claymisher
04-28-2009, 09:00 PM
This is possible, and it's the short-term benefit to the Democrats I was saying is the only upside to Specter's party switch. But Specter has already indicated he's going to vote with the reactionary extremist party on card check, and "Obama's pick to head the Office of Legal Counsel, Dawn Johnsen (http://thinkprogress.org/2009/04/28/specter-opposes-johnsen/)."

Specter is going to be one more of exactly the kind of Democrat we don't need. I'll grant that he'll be nominally better as a Democrat than as a Republican, but that benefit expires in January, 2011, which is when we otherwise would have replaced him with a genuine Democrat.

He's the 60th vote. He can vote against everything as long has he doesn't vote for a filibuster. Expect a lot of bullshit kabuki, but not any obstruction. He's gonna have a primary in a year. :)

TwinSwords
04-28-2009, 10:37 PM
I'm surprised at your cynicism
You don't think Specter's motives were mainly selfish?

It is possible he's going Holy Joe to deal with Toomey's challenge.

Indeed — at least if you believe his own explanation for his switch.

Josh Marshall (http://tpmtv.talkingpointsmemo.com/?id=2441027):
Whatever else you can say about Specter today, this press conference is pretty entertaining and refreshingly candid. He just said he saw his internal poll numbers on Friday, jumped on Tuesday.

It's also possible to see this as a smart political calculation rather than a move of desperation (the way Lieberman's was)
Those aren't mutually exclusive. An act taken out of desperation can also be a smart political calculation. Lieberman's move was more desperate, as you suggest, but the motivation was the same: political survival. And both men found the same solution: dispose of their traditional constituencies in search of a plurality of votes differently composed.

it would be nice to think that a liberal Democrat could beat him in the general, I am with Jeff in thinking Specter wins there no matter what capital letter comes after his name.
This is exactly why Specter jumped to the Democratic Party: He can win in the general, but would never make it to the general running as a Republican.

Eric Kleefeld (http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/04/why-specter-did-it----and-had-to-do-it.php):
Remember that Specter only won his 2004 primary against conservative challenger Toomey by a 51%-49% margin -- and that was with the full backing of the Bush White House. So if we just made that demographic adjustment, Pat Toomey would have probably won the 2004 primary with all other issues being the same. And the stimulus is the final nail. The stimulus vote, and the lack of a powerful Republican establishment these days, made a defeat in the primary seemingly inevitable.

A Rasmussen poll from just a few days ago put Toomey ahead by a 51%-30% margin. Specter was viewed unfavorably by 55% of the GOP electorate, compared to only 42% favorable. The pollster's analysis also pointed out that 79% of them had a favorable view of the Tea Parties -- not exactly a receptive audience for a pro-stimulus Senator. This was the first poll since Toomey officially got in, but other polls before that also showed Specter way below 50%, with a high undecided number, and the only question was whether Toomey could pick enough support to pull ahead.

And finally, it's important to remember another aspect of Pennsylvania politics: If he had run in the Republican primary and lost, he would not have been able to pull a Joe Lieberman and run as an independent. They have a "Sore-Loser Law" that forbids that very maneuver. So his choices other than retirement were to run as a Republican and probably lose the primary, run as an independent and face some serious structural disadvantages, or to take a chance on going over to the Democrats. And given those sets of probabilities, switching to the Dems became the obvious choice.

As to the filibuster issue: I agree that it's not a slam dunk.
Yes, it's absolutely not. Check out this irresponsible reporting by Chris Cillizza (http://voices.washingtonpost.com/thefix/senate/specter-to-switch-parties.html):

Specter's decision would give Democrats a 60 seat filibuster proof majority in the Senate assuming Democrat Al Franken is eventually sworn in

Cillizza must truly be a stupid man to claim the Democrats will have a "filibuster proof majority." How can a political illiterate like him get a job writing for the Washington Post?

Reality (http://www.eschatonblog.com/2009/04/crap.html):

Crap

I hope this works out better than I expect, but 60 nominal Ds doesn't equal 60 votes. Specter's still free to be a dick in the Senate...

However, it's very likely that it means, at least on some pieces of legislation, a vote that the Dems don't have to work to get anymore, which means another measurable amount of watering down that they don't have to do.
I suspect this is probably going to be true on at least a few votes. This is the short-term benefit for the Democrats. And it comes at an important time: the first two years of the Obama administration, when we need as many Democratic votes as we can get.

But we have given up the chance to put a real Democrat in that seat:

Atrios (http://www.eschatonblog.com/2009/04/promises.html):
Promises

Shuster just said that Dems promised not to field primary candidate against Specter.[...]

Craptacular.

Specter's going to have to cast a lot of votes for our side for this to be a good trade.

As to the "same guy, same beliefs" idea, my sense of Specter is that he has on any number of occasions given a clear sign that he has voted the party line against his conscience.
No, you're right. He's not a wingnut. He voted against impeachment (both counts), which is a key metric. He's said to have a good record on labor issues. He's not a global warming denier. It's not like if John Cornyn joined the party.

But your point is fair, and it raises a 2nd benefit to Specter's switch: it helps reinforce the growing understanding that the Republican Party as currently incarnated is too extreme. His switch may help other Republicans (voters and politicians) come to the same decision. And he might help some conservative extremists come to terms with the reality that their party is dead until they expand their appeal to moderates.

to address your Dems-moving-to-the-right concern, I'll say this: [...] the Democratic Party has been developing more confidence in pushing on issues that lefties care about and that they are more willing to stick to their guns in battles over these. [...] In particular, they seem to be happy to rally around Obama when he makes a "this much and no further" statement on something like health-care legislation.
I think this is true. At any given time, there are multiple currents in American politics -- some contradictory. Take PA, since we're already talking about it: One current has the state as a whole moving left. Another current has the Republican portion of PA's electorate moving to the right. Those are competing but simultaneously occurring political currents.

You're right that Obama's election has, in important ways, improved the chances for implementing a progressive agenda. But Specter's addition to the Democratic Party inherently makes it more conservative than it would be without him. Competing yet simultaneous political currents.

A political party is the sum of its parts, and if you build a Democratic Party out of Arlen Specters and Ben Nelsons, you're going to have a fundamentally different kind of Democratic Party than one built out of Tom Harkins and Russ Feingolds. A party led by Barack Obama is going to be more liberal. A party constituted to include Specter is going to be more conservative. Obama was a win for the liberal cause. Specter is a net setback.

what we're seeing here is the GOP on a crazy plunge off a far-right cliff, with some more moderate Republicans and conservatives looking for shelter under the edge of the Democratic big tent. This is a good way to implement the theme of unifying the country that Obama ran on -- rather than trying to get every last person to go along (and have to compromise too much), you write off, say, the unyielding 20%, and concentrate on working with the rest.
Sure. You're right. This is why I was in favor of keeping Lieberman in the Democratic caucus when many were calling for him to be booted out.

If a Lieberman or a Ben Nelson are the best we can do in their states, we should take them. But as soon as we can do better, we should do better. We should ditch both men at the earliest opportunity. If no opportunity arises, we should keep them.

We don't want to make the mistake of Republicans, insisting on ideological purity as an alternative to actual political power. But where it's possible to elect real Democrats, we should do it. We didn't have to settle for a conservative Republican from PA. We should have held out for something better. We basically blew a chance when we didn't need to. The Democrats already have a major problem with a moderate caucus. Specter will just make it worse.

Presumably, you did not view Zell Miller's stunt in 2004 as an indication that the GOP was moving leftward.
No, of course not. As far as I can tell, Zell Miller doesn't have a leftward bone in his body. But if Lieberman had become a Republican, he would have made their party more liberal. For all of our problems with Lieberman, he's a solid liberal on most issues. (Which is why the Republican Party would have shattered into a million pieces if McCain had selected him for VP. Thus Palin, ROFL.)

and in an ideal world, we'd think about a more solidly liberal Democrat replacing him in 2010. But in the spirit of politics as the art of the possible, I find a lot to be happy about in today's news.
Okay, here's what we can be happy about:

(1) Some chance he'll vote with the Democrats more often.

(2) A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, i.e., there's a small chance that a Pennsylvania would have elected Toomey in 2010.

(3) Specter's switch reinforces the growing public consensus that the Republican Party is too extreme, and the Democratic Party is the place for rational, sane, reality-based moderates and Independents, which could further increase Democratic ranks.

TwinSwords
04-28-2009, 10:44 PM
He's the 60th vote. He can vote against everything as long has he doesn't vote for a filibuster. Expect a lot of bullshit kabuki, but not any obstruction.

Sure: there's a short-term advantage to having Specter in the caucus now, in that he might not obstruct the Democrats on some issues, though as far as I know, we have no guarantees. Still, Specter may make a concession here or there that could mean a hell of a lot to the country. For example, if he doesn't obstruct a national health care program. There's a pretty big difference between an America with national health care and an American without it, a difference that can be measured in lives (or corpses, if the Republicans prevail).


He's gonna have a primary in a year. :)
I hope so, but it has been reported that the Democrats agreed to guarantee him the unchallenged nomination in 2010. So their Republican is now our Republican. :)

claymisher
04-28-2009, 11:25 PM
I hope so, but it has been reported that the Democrats agreed to guarantee him the unchallenged nomination in 2010. So their Republican is now our Republican. :)

Sure, they can guarantee an unchallenged nomination, but they can't stop anyone from running against him. Unless Specter's an idiot he's got to know that. And he because he knows that he's going to be on his best behavior. The only thing that keeps him from getting re-elected is a challenge from the left. Don't forget that Obama won PA in a landslide, and he's a black guy with a funny name.

This is all win for the good guys. Hell, even keeping Lieberman, as awful as that seemed just a few months ago, is looking really really good. If you wanna get all superstructural about this, the driving factor is that Pennsylvania and the country are changing for the better.

The bad news is we've got to get rid of the filibuster while we can. The Democrats are lucky to have seats in AK, ND, MT, AK, SD, NE. That's not going to last for too long.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a8/111th_US_Congress_Senate.PNG

TwinSwords
04-28-2009, 11:27 PM
(3) Specter's switch reinforces the growing public consensus that the Republican Party is too extreme, and the Democratic Party is the place for rational, sane, reality-based moderates and Independents, which could further increase Democratic ranks.

David Gergen compellingly makes the same point, tonight on CNN (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYZSX0erUls).

Starwatcher162536
04-29-2009, 12:06 AM
[...]

The bad news is we've got to get rid of the filibuster while we can. The Democrats are lucky to have seats in AK, ND, MT, AK, SD, NE. That's not going to last for too long.


This reminds me of when Liberals were pushing to have some respected scientist to be able to define what should and should not be considered science (It would preempt local school boards). Sure, it sounds good in that situation, but I shudder to think what people like Palin would do with that new found power when they are in office.

I think it is prudent to take the long view on this, and not get rid of the filibuster. I am a firm believer that both parties create disasters when they are not forced to work and compromise with the other.

TwinSwords
04-29-2009, 12:14 AM
Sure, they can guarantee an unchallenged nomination, but they can't stop anyone from running against him.
They cannot guarantee Specter will face no challenges, but the leadership of the Democratic Party in the state can exercise enormous if not determinative influence. The PA Democratic leadership was instrumental (http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2009/04/biden-casey-ren.html) in Specter's switch, and will have near veto power over any primary challenge in 2010.


Unless Specter's an idiot he's got to know that. And he because he knows that he's going to be on his best behavior. The only thing that keeps him from getting re-elected is a challenge from the left.
Well put. And true. Per my initial post, Specter's switch provides the Democrats with a possible short-term benefit. You've described that possible short term benefit very well.


This is all win for the good guys.
This is some win, but it's not all win. You don't get to all win by trading a Democrat (who we could have gotten in 2010) for a Republican. If Specter was our only choice, like Lieberman or Nelson, it would be a no-brainer: we'd want to take him. But we had better choices.

I don't know what your political orientation is. Maybe you're a kind of moderate person. If that's the case, I understand where you're coming from. Many of us, however, are unapologetically liberal, and would like to see liberal legislation enacted, and feel that currently the leading obstacle to that is blue dog Democrats. I share the desire for "more and better Democrats." With Specter's switch, we get one more Democrat than we would have otherwise, for 1.5 years. By the beginning of 2011, that benefit will expire, as we would have had one more Democrat by then anyway. That leaves the question of "better." And there can be little doubt that the "Democrat to be named later" we could have gotten would have been better than Specter suddenly dressed in blue.


Hell, even keeping Lieberman, as awful as that seemed just a few months ago, is looking really really good.
I'm glad if people are coming around on this, but I have always been of the opinion (http://bjkeefe.blogspot.com/2008/05/line-of-day-2008-05-13.html) that we need to live with the fact that we need Lieberman in our caucus.

I think the bad judgement many showed regarding Lieberman (wanting him kicked out of the caucus) and are showing now regarding Specter (celebrating his sudden inclusion) stems from the same problematic priorities: trading schadenfreude for actual political power. It would have been soooo satisfying for so many on the left to boot Lieberman they were willing to do it despite the cost to themselves. And likewise, many (like John Cole) are so overjoyed with the suffering Specter's switch is causing Republicans that they are insensitive to the possibility that we will actually be worse off (in the long run) as a consequence.


If you wanna get all superstructural about this, the driving factor is that Pennsylvania and the country are changing for the better.
True, but I don't see how this makes Specter's switch good for us. If anything, it reinforces the point that we no longer need to have as many Specters in the Senate. When the country changes for the better, that means we dump Republicans and trade them in for Democrats.


The bad news is we've got to get rid of the filibuster while we can.
It would be great, if we could manage it. A couple of months ago I assumed that media-augmented hissy fits from Republicans would preclude it as a possibility. But I have to admit: Republican hissy fits seem less potent than ever before. If ever there was a time to bring about real change, on this and other issues, this is it. And that's the best argument for accepting Specter into the party: it's one more ally at a critical time. By 2011, the political climate may have changed completely and our best chance to pass meaningful legislation passed.

bjkeefe
04-29-2009, 12:15 AM
Thanks for your detailed and thoughtful response. I am glad that toward the end of your post, you listed a number of places where we more or less agree. I will just address some of the points you raised in dispute.

You don't think Specter's motives were mainly selfish?

[...]

Indeed — at least if you believe his own explanation for his switch.

I do think so, especially now that I have found out that he expressly stated that he did not think he could win a primary challenge. You have mostly changed my mind on this point. Still, I would at least like to think that Specter had ideological motivations as well -- distaste with the current drift of the core of the GOP, in particular -- and that his change of party is not wholly a ploy to get reelected. I think that now that he has made this move, he will vote more often how I would like him to vote. In other words, I'll take the benefits and not look too closely at the motives, in the same way that, say, I would welcome an evangelical Christian into the environmental fold if his or her primary concern was preserving God's green Earth.

Those aren't mutually exclusive. An act taken out of desperation can also be a smart political calculation. Lieberman's move was more desperate, as you suggest, but the motivation was the same: political survival. And both men found the same solution: dispose of their traditional constituencies in search of a plurality of votes differently composed.

Among the differences between the two men, I'd point out this: Specter had the decency and honor to lay his cards on the table and make the switch ahead of time. Lieberman tried to win in one way; when that failed, he privileged himself to a second turn at bat.

Also, Lieberman spent much of the time after winning reelection doing and saying things that were in direct opposition to the Democratic Party, up to and including a full-time effort to get John McCain elected. We can only wait and see what Specter does from here on out, but I'd say Holy Joe has an established collection of black marks that puts him way ahead (or behind) on that score, at this point.

Yes, it's absolutely not. Check out this irresponsible reporting by Chris Cillizza (http://voices.washingtonpost.com/thefix/senate/specter-to-switch-parties.html):

[...]

Cillizza must truly be a stupid man to claim the Democrats will have a "filibuster proof majority." How can a political illiterate like him get a job writing for the Washington Post?

Cillizza often writes at an irritatingly superficial level, no doubt about it. On the other hand, I don't think he's stupid. I think he sees his audience as the sort of person who wants to feel informed about politics without really being deeply interested in all the subtleties, so I can't completely fault him, looked at in that light. It's a job, and a man's gotta eat.

To a first approximation, he's right about the number 60. Of course it is more complicated than that, but not everyone wants to know that. What some people just want to know are the answers to the questions, "Why is everyone making so much noise? Why should I care about Arlen Specter switching sides?"

But we have given up the chance to put a real Democrat in that seat:

I don't know enough about PA to say. You might be right. In the other hand, look at the guy who unseated Santorum, Bob Casey, Jr. Not what I would call a model "real Democrat." Maybe it's true that since 2006, PA has moved appreciably further to the left. Or maybe it's true that this really isn't so, and that Obama's appeal over McCain exaggerated the appearance.

In the end, there's nothing to be done about Specter's own personal interests as regards 2010, although who knows? We might see another Ned Lamont-style insurgency. Meantime, we might get a lot more accomplished in the eighteen months between now and then.

You're right that Obama's election has, in important ways, improved the chances for implementing a progressive agenda. But Specter's addition to the Democratic Party inherently makes it more conservative than it would be without him. Competing yet simultaneous political currents.

Again, for the short term, I'm happier that Specter switched than I would be had he not. Especially since not switching might have meant he'd take every opportunity to appeal to the GOP extremists to try to improve his chances of winning in their primary.

As for the long term, well, yeah -- I agree that it makes the Democratic caucus in the Senate marginally more conservative, especially if Specter gets reelected. But on the other hand, this is a price we're going to have to pay for awhile as the GOP sheds its few remaining moderates. It'd be nice to tell everyone not already in the party, "Too bad, you're too late," but I'd rather look at this as part of the process of building more national unity on major problems like health care and global warming. Not to mention further strengthening the bulwark against the real GOP wingnuts.

So ...

[...] Specter is a net setback.

I don't agree with this. Certainly not for the next 18 months, and maybe not after that.

TwinSwords
04-29-2009, 12:21 AM
This reminds me of when Liberals were pushing to have some respected scientist to be able to define what should and should not be considered science (It would preempt local school boards). Sure, it sounds good in that situation, but I shudder to think what people like Palin would do with that new found power when they are in office.

I think it is prudent to take the long view on this, and not get rid of the filibuster. I am a firm believer that both parties create disasters when they are not forced to work and compromise with the other.

I don't know. We seemed to do pretty well during the intial 220 years of American history before the fillibuster was turned into an instrument of abuse and obstruction during the last 15 years. It has never in American history been a norm to demand 60 votes on every bill, and the Democrats are foolish if they put up with this new standard.

bjkeefe
04-29-2009, 12:26 AM
Originally Posted by TwinSwords
(3) Specter's switch reinforces the growing public consensus that the Republican Party is too extreme, and the Democratic Party is the place for rational, sane, reality-based moderates and Independents, which could further increase Democratic ranks.David Gergen compellingly makes the same point, tonight on CNN (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYZSX0erUls).

Ah, I love when the CW starts embracing our DFH views. Getting the Villagers to say things like this is a big win.

On a meta-note, how the hell did you find a video on YouTube that even as I visit it, only has 43 views? ARE YOU PART OF JOURNOLIST?

Starwatcher162536
04-29-2009, 12:28 AM
I don't know. We seemed to do pretty well during the intial 220 years of American history before the fillibuster was turned into an instrument of abuse and obstruction during the last 15 years. It has never in American history been a norm to demand 60 votes on every bill, and the Democrats are foolish if they put up with this new standard.

New standard or not, I am not crazy about the idea of a Republican controlled government in the future that is not held back by the filibuster.

bjkeefe
04-29-2009, 12:35 AM
New standard or not, I am not crazy about the idea of a Republican controlled government in the future that is not held back by the filibuster.

That's not unreasonable, but I am going to side with the "do away with the filibuster" camp. Or, at least, call for some sort of change in how it's deployed. Maybe requiring it to be done the way it used to be -- someone actually has to get up there and speak non-stop -- would be a start. If nothing else, it lets the casual voter know more easily who is obstructing the majority from moving forward.

Another possibility is to change the magic number, say, to 55.

Exact solutions aside, where we are right now, where 41% have de facto veto power, can't be allowed to persist. There are too many problems that need real legislation passed to deal with them.

I also think that the GOP as they are currently acting cannot come close to winning a majority of the Senate. In order for them to win, they will need to make significant changes in their platform, priorities, and attitude. They will have to once and for all make clear that they are not in thrall to the religious extremist viewpoint and that they are not most concerned with how the know-nothings think of them. Therefore, I think your dark vision of Republicans (as they currently present) in charge isn't a realistic concern.

TwinSwords
04-29-2009, 12:37 AM
New standard or not, I am not crazy about the idea of a Republican controlled government in the future that is not held back by the filibuster.

The Democrats were never able to bring the fillibuster to bear against the Republicans in any meaningful way, anyway, simply because of the way the party is constituted (i.e., a large Blue Dog faction). It has been the Republicans who have been so effective at using it to block Democratic action.

We just won the presidency by an historically large margin. We control both houses of Congress by very large margins. It would be political malpractice for Democrats to let a radical fringe of conservative extremists trump the will of the Ameircan people.

TwinSwords
04-29-2009, 01:02 AM
Ah, I love when the CW starts embracing our DFH views. Getting the Villagers to say things like this is a big win.

On a meta-note, how the hell did you find a video on YouTube that even as I visit it, only has 43 views? ARE YOU PART OF JOURNOLIST?

LOL.

I happen to have a subscription to that channel that posted that particular video.

TwinSwords
04-29-2009, 01:11 AM
Lincoln Chafee Feels the GOP is Not Going to Remain a Viable National Party (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEeHfW9g5dA)

bjkeefe
04-29-2009, 01:32 AM
Lincoln Chafee Feels the GOP is Not Going to Remain a Viable National Party (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEeHfW9g5dA)

Thanks for that.

Nice to see my old homeboy getting some face time, but cheese and rice ... have you ever seen someone less able to smile and look natural?

It's as though he just got out of his very his first media training class and overreacted to "Lesson 1: Try not to frown on camera."

claymisher
04-29-2009, 02:12 AM
Elections have consequences! I demand accountability! The filibuster and conference committees and whatnot let our representatives off the hook. Let the Democrats run wild (within the bounds of the Constitution, of course) and if the public doesn't like it, they can vote them out.

claymisher
04-29-2009, 02:34 AM
I don't know what your political orientation is. Maybe you're a kind of moderate person. If that's the case, I understand where you're coming from. Many of us, however, are unapologetically liberal, and would like to see liberal legislation enacted, and feel that currently the leading obstacle to that is blue dog Democrats. I share the desire for "more and better Democrats." With Specter's switch, we get one more Democrat than we would have otherwise, for 1.5 years. By the beginning of 2011, that benefit will expire, as we would have had one more Democrat by then anyway. That leaves the question of "better." And there can be little doubt that the "Democrat to be named later" we could have gotten would have been better than Specter suddenly dressed in blue.

Nope. Flaming liberal! I supported about eleven different (I just checked) "more and better Democrats," all through ActBlue, mostly through Kos's page. I have automatic monthly contributions set up for ActBlue too, because I'm a programmer, and I know that you gotta keep your programmers actively maintaining your software or it withers away.

The way I look at it is, you get a good chance to pass health care and energy/climate, you take it. Soon enough it'll become the new status quo, and when the Republicans come back they won't be in a position to roll it back because the country will have moved to a better equilibrium. Also, judges. Getting to 60 will sure speed up confirmations. I realize that a Democratic Senator could join with all 40 Republicans and filibuster, but you gotta imagine that'd be beyond the pale.

When you look at the Democrats in the Senate there's a lot to dislike, it's true, and another centrist like Specter isn't going to be writing a lot of great legislation. I've been trying to figure out who the median Senator is but I haven't been able to find a good source for current rankings.

JonIrenicus
04-29-2009, 02:35 AM
For some reason this really does not bother me. Crazy ideas still have a buffer with centrist democrats, though not as much of one. It may be a bigger problem from Obama as the excuse not to yield to base pressures has been lessened because some magical 60 has been hit... in "theory"

claymisher
04-29-2009, 02:56 AM
Lincoln Chafee Feels the GOP is Not Going to Remain a Viable National Party (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEeHfW9g5dA)

Just for kicks let's game this out. How do the Republicans fade away? I imagine a new party would start up in the northeast, led by successful local politicians running against Democrats in safe seats. They could go old school and call it the Federalist Party (although Whig Party would be more fun!). Maybe they get a little success, and Republicans on the west coast jump ship. I think the south stays Republican to the end. It'd be like Britain, where the Liberal Democrats only win in the southwest.

It's hard to imagine the first person to make that move. I can't think of any northeastern politicians that bold. Specter, Snowe, Collins, and Lieberman could have got together and done it.

bjkeefe
04-29-2009, 05:41 AM
Nice to see my old homeboy getting some face time, but cheese and rice ... have you ever seen someone less able to smile and look natural?

Lincoln Chafee: better in print (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/28/AR2009042802261.html?hpid=opinionsbox1):

In 1964, at the Republican National Convention, at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, I was an 11-year-old watching the full-throated booing of Gov. Nelson Rockefeller by the Goldwater delegates. It was memorable in its fervency. No matter that Goldwater would carry only six states later that year in a historic Democratic landslide; the message was one of ideological purity. Now, 45 years later, we are watching the same celebration of ideological purity at the cost of winning elections.

After the '06 Senate losses -- of myself in Rhode Island, Mike DeWine in Ohio, Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania, Conrad Burns in Montana, George Allen in Virginia and Jim Talent in Missouri -- put the Republicans in the minority, there was no introspection or strategy change to stop the hemorrhaging. Indeed, in '08, it was another debacle: Sununu in New Hampshire, Smith in Oregon, Dole in North Carolina, Stevens in Alaska, Coleman in Minnesota.

After the election, it was reported that some Republicans were happy to be free of the "wobbly-kneed Republicans." Happy in their 41-seat minority! I assume that Sen. Specter told the right-wing fundraising juggernaut, "If you fund my primary opponent, I'll switch parties." The likely response? "Don't let the door hit you on the way out."

That attitude signals the demise of the Republican Party as a viable national party. The ramifications of the collapse are especially acute in states such as Rhode Island, where presently there is no alternative to the Democratic Party. Everybody here agrees that that is not good for a healthy democracy.

bjkeefe
04-29-2009, 05:45 AM
Just for kicks let's game this out. How do the Republicans fade away? I imagine a new party would start up in the northeast, led by successful local politicians running against Democrats in safe seats. They could go old school and call it the Federalist Party (although Whig Party would be more fun!). Maybe they get a little success, and Republicans on the west coast jump ship. I think the south stays Republican to the end. It'd be like Britain, where the Liberal Democrats only win in the southwest.

It's hard to imagine the first person to make that move. I can't think of any northeastern politicians that bold. Specter, Snowe, Collins, and Lieberman could have got together and done it.

I don't see that happening as long as Obama is popular. The only way I could see a plausible new party forming would be if things just went horrendous all over the place, say, in 2011, and some really charismatic new figure popped up. I don't think any of the moderate Republicans we are familiar with can do it. More to the point, I don't think they will. It'll take something sudden to provide the impetus, and it will only catch fire with someone the media will go crazy over.

bjkeefe
04-29-2009, 05:50 AM
Also interesting, on the same page (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/28/AR2009042802261.html?hpid=opinionsbox1) as the Chafee words:

ED ROGERS

White House staffer to Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush; chairman of BGR Group

Notice to Republicans: Arlen Specter changing parties is good for the Democrats and President Obama and bad for us. If you think otherwise, put down the Ann Coulter book and go get some fresh air. There's always a delusional element within the GOP that thinks if we lose badly enough the Democrats will gain so much power they will implement all their crazy plans, the people will revolt and purest Republicans will then be swept back into power.

bjkeefe
04-29-2009, 06:15 AM
I'm surprised at your cynicism and lack of enthusiasm, Twin.

But Thers (http://whiskeyfire.typepad.com/whiskey_fire/2009/04/the-flying-party-is-here.html) is way ahead of you.

bjkeefe
04-29-2009, 06:29 AM
I'm sure you've heard the news already. This is pretty exciting stuff.

Roger Ailes (http://rogerailes.blogspot.com/2009/04/if-i-told-democratic-party-once-i-told.html) (the honest one) says:

If I told the Democratic Party once, I told them a thousand times, "You let people like Mickey Kaus pretend to be a Democrat and this kind of stuff will happen."

Bobby G
04-29-2009, 02:28 PM
I actually don't understand Ailes's comment. Is he saying that when someone as centrist as Kaus can be a Democrat, then someone like Specter will feel comfortable becoming a Democrat as well? If so, then shouldn't Dems want people like Kaus considering themselves to be Democrats? And if _that_'s the takeaway, then I find it odd that you, BJ, would be touting that. After all, don't you think Kaus is a stealth Republican?

What have I missed?

bjkeefe
04-29-2009, 09:15 PM
I actually don't understand Ailes's comment. Is he saying that when someone as centrist as Kaus can be a Democrat, then someone like Specter will feel comfortable becoming a Democrat as well? If so, then shouldn't Dems want people like Kaus considering themselves to be Democrats? And if _that_'s the takeaway, then I find it odd that you, BJ, would be touting that. After all, don't you think Kaus is a stealth Republican?

What have I missed?

I think RA is making a joke that is motivated by his dubiousness about conservatives Democrats. Many on the left view the so-called Blue Dog Democrats with disdain, viewing them as at least as much of a hindrance as the GOP to advancing the liberal agenda.

My own feeling about the BDDs is less strident. Of course I would like fewer Ben Nelsons and more Russ Feingolds. On the other hand, I also recognize that not everyone in the country who views the current GOP with distaste is on the same page on all issues.

I believe, as a matter of political strategy, the Dems should welcome outcasts from the urge to purge that's now so rampant on the right. I strongly resonated with the "one America" tone that Obama ran on. I think welcoming a guy like Specter into the fold is an example of walking the walk instead of just talking the "Big Tent" talk. I am convinced that we've got to have as much support in Congress as possible for implementing solutions to the major problems this country faces. It is my sense that if a member of Congress has a (D) after his or her name, it's measurably easier to get that member to go along on a vote; e.g., there is less of a worry that the same member as a moderate Republican will be looking for ways to burnish his or her conservative cred when considering the next primary.

Basically, I just passed along RA's line because I thought it was funny. As far as my own view of Kaus goes, I will continue to rag on him for his habit of criticizing only the party to which he so tiresomely insists he belongs, in large part because I have a different set of standards for judging politicians and pundits. One key difference is that politicians can be much more easily judged on their actions, so I care less about their rhetoric or motivations. Pundits, by contrast, can only be judged by their words. It matters not a whit if someone like Kaus (or Althouse, to name another) trumpets how he or she voted; what matters in this case is what they say.

TwinSwords
05-03-2009, 02:24 PM
Later in the interview, "I did not (laughter) say that I'm a loyal Democrat!"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUpWq5yRtoc

nikkibong
05-06-2009, 06:04 PM
And, now, presented with my best rendition of Nelson Muntz (http://simpsons.wikia.com/wiki/Nelson_Muntz)' "HA-HA":

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0509/22180.html

AemJeff
05-06-2009, 06:12 PM
And, now, presented with my best rendition of Nelson Muntz (http://simpsons.wikia.com/wiki/Nelson_Muntz)' "HA-HA":

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0509/22180.html

Yup, politics ain't beanball. Specter expected the caucus to be grateful, and badly overplayed his hand with a characteristic display of arrogance. Where's he going to go, back to the Republicans? Maybe Rendell (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ed_Rendell) will run for the seat.

nikkibong
05-06-2009, 07:38 PM
Sestek seems pretty cool though . . . any thoughts, as a Keystone Stater?

AemJeff
05-06-2009, 08:08 PM
Sestek seems pretty cool though . . . any thoughts, as a Keystone Stater?

Actually, I don't recall hearing the name. Do you have any good links?

TwinSwords
05-06-2009, 08:32 PM
Actually, I don't recall hearing the name. Do you have any good links?

There have been a number of good posts on TPM (http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&rlz=1T4GGIT_enUS315US315&q=specter+sestak+site%3Atalkingpointsmemo.com) during the past week.

I'm not very familiar with where he stands, but many are concerned he's even more conservative than Specter. Don't know if that's actually true, though.

TwinSwords
05-06-2009, 08:34 PM
I have to admit, Specter has done nothing to make me doubt my hostility towards his self-interested effort to weaken and dilute the Democratic Party in the US Senate.

This is as good a summary as we're liable to find in <500 words:

Since declaring himself a Democrat last Tuesday, Specter has defied Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the White House on virtually everything that’s come down the pike: the budget, mortgage reform, the Al Franken-Norm Coleman race, even President Barack Obama’s appointment of Dawn Johnsen to head the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.

All while quibbling over whether he said he’d be a “loyal Democrat” — and insisting that he had an “entitlement” to transfer his Senate seniority from one side of the aisle to the other.

I guess if I was a Republican I might not mind having a Republican join my party.

claymisher
05-06-2009, 08:37 PM
Yeah, what the hell?! If Specter's not an egomaniacal asshole he's doing a hell of a job pretending to be one.

cognitive madisonian
05-06-2009, 08:41 PM
Yup, politics ain't beanball. Specter expected the caucus to be grateful, and badly overplayed his hand with a characteristic display of arrogance. Where's he going to go, back to the Republicans? Maybe Rendell (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ed_Rendell) will run for the seat.

Rendell won't, since he's too connected with the One. Joe Sestak may challenge Specter, and would stand a good chance of winning. Specter is a self-obsessed, self-important egomaniac and the Senate will be far better off when he leaves it. Provided Tom Ridge runs, the seat will return to the GOP in 2010.

As for 60, it's a dreaded number for either party, because it represents tyranny of the majority.

TwinSwords
05-06-2009, 08:41 PM
NYT Magazine interview (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/10/magazine/10wwln-q4-t.html?_r=2&ref=politics) with Sen. Specter; says he wants Norm Coleman to win:

Q: With your departure from the Republican Party, there are no more Jewish Republicans in the Senate. Do you care about that?

Specter: I sure do. There's still time for the Minnesota courts to do justice and declare Norm Coleman the winner.

Q: Which seems about as likely at this point as Jerry Seinfeld's joining the Senate.

Specter: Well, it was about as likely as my becoming a Democrat.

That's a big tent.

cognitive madisonian
05-06-2009, 08:42 PM
NYT Magazine interview (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/10/magazine/10wwln-q4-t.html?_r=2&ref=politics) with Sen. Specter; says he wants Norm Coleman to win:



That's a big tent.

About the only thing I'll be agreeing with Specter on for some time :p

claymisher
05-06-2009, 11:15 PM
As for 60, it's a dreaded number for either party, because it represents tyranny of the majority.

You don't know the difference between "tyranny of the majority" and democracy. The Democratic coalition is diverse in many important ways: racially, economically, geographically. It's clobbered the Republicans in 2006 and 2008. The people have spoken. Now the governing party has to be accountable.

For too long parties have been hiding behind gridlock. When the Republicans were in power they didn't do shit on abortion, spending, etc. Now that the Democrats are in they gotta fight for health care, climate change, etc or they'll suck too. If you want responsive politics the parties have to stand for something so people know what they're really voting for. So they gotta put up or shut up.

kezboard
05-07-2009, 02:03 AM
That reminds me of this (http://www.nbc.com/Saturday_Night_Live/video/clips/presidential-debate/704121/) SNL sketch from last year:
"I have always been a disloyal, untrustworthy renegade who has abandoned his party whenever it most needed me...the fact is, you simply can't trust John McCain, that's why the American people should elect me."

cognitive madisonian
05-07-2009, 09:24 AM
You don't know the difference between "tyranny of the majority" and democracy. The Democratic coalition is diverse in many important ways: racially, economically, geographically. It's clobbered the Republicans in 2006 and 2008. The people have spoken. Now the governing party has to be accountable.

If the party is so diverse then why do virtually all the members follow the far left, vitriolically partisan house speaker? Sure, there have been grumblings of discomfort on the part of the blue dogs, but this hasn't materialized. Rather, moderate to conservative Democrats have basically been led by the nose as the Democrat house leadership pushes our country far to the left.

But I must ask if you're familiar with the concept of tyranny of the majority--have you read Madison and/or Tocqueville? It is vitally important for the country's health that the minority party maintains a presence in politics; if the minority party has no sway then we are effectively a one-party state and a one-party state is not a genuine democracy.

Btw it doesn't help, either, that the Democrats are gaining the Minnesota seat through outright criminality, the Alaskan seat through an unethical prosecution, etc.

For too long parties have been hiding behind gridlock. When the Republicans were in power they didn't do shit on abortion, spending, etc. Now that the Democrats are in they gotta fight for health care, climate change, etc or they'll suck too. If you want responsive politics the parties have to stand for something so people know what they're really voting for. So they gotta put up or shut up.

Republicans did little on abortion because there was not enough public support for it. Take the proposed Federal amendment on marriage, supported by a minority of citizens. Do you really think it's best for the country for the ruling party to pursue the narrow policies of its base? This is what the Democrats have been doing.

The Democrats gained seats on 06 by harping on GOP corruption. They proceeded to establish the most corrupt rule in recent memory. Jack Murtha, Jesse Jackson Jr., Charlie Rangel, etc. are blatantly corrupt and in senior leadership positions; this isn't even getting in to the less important blatantly corrupt members such as Maxine Waters. This is the party that couldn't bring itself to oust William Jefferson and instead restored committee appointments to Cold Cash.

pampl
05-07-2009, 09:31 AM
But I must ask if you're familiar with the concept of tyranny of the majority--have you read Madison and/or Tocqueville? It is vitally important for the country's health that the minority party maintains a presence in politics; if the minority party has no sway then we are effectively a one-party state and a one-party state is not a genuine democracy.

If you think the ability to filibuster is a necessary part of a democratic state then there are almost no democracies, nor is there anything particularly valuable or admirable about democracy over "one party states". The tyranny of the majority has to do with the absence of minority rights, which doesn't include the 'right' to indefinitely delay any and all legislation

AemJeff
05-07-2009, 09:43 AM
If the party is so diverse then why do virtually all the members follow the far left, vitriolically partisan house speaker? Sure, there have been grumblings of discomfort on the part of the blue dogs, but this hasn't materialized. Rather, moderate to conservative Democrats have basically been led by the nose as the Democrat house leadership pushes our country far to the left.

But I must ask if you're familiar with the concept of tyranny of the majority--have you read Madison and/or Tocqueville? It is vitally important for the country's health that the minority party maintains a presence in politics; if the minority party has no sway then we are effectively a one-party state and a one-party state is not a genuine democracy.

Btw it doesn't help, either, that the Democrats are gaining the Minnesota seat through outright criminality, the Alaskan seat through an unethical prosecution, etc.


Republicans did little on abortion because there was not enough public support for it. Take the proposed Federal amendment on marriage, supported by a minority of citizens. Do you really think it's best for the country for the ruling party to pursue the narrow policies of its base? This is what the Democrats have been doing.

The Democrats gained seats on 06 by harping on GOP corruption. They proceeded to establish the most corrupt rule in recent memory. Jack Murtha, Jesse Jackson Jr., Charlie Rangel, etc. are blatantly corrupt and in senior leadership positions; this isn't even getting in to the less important blatantly corrupt members such as Maxine Waters. This is the party that couldn't bring itself to oust William Jefferson and instead restored committee appointments to Cold Cash.

Cog, turn off your AM radio; it's clogging your synapses. "Vitriolically partisan house speaker?" "Outright criminality" in Minnesota? "Unethical prosecution" in Alaska? You think if you keep incanting these absurdities they'll just magically be true when you wake up tomorrow?

And pampl is exactly right. You haven't a clue what the phrase "tyranny of the majority" actually was intended to represent. Even with the additional ritual incantation of the names "Madison" and "Tocqueville," neither of whom do you show any evidence of having actually read, you completely miss the mark.

And your special pleadings for Republicans, simultaneous with the frothing over Democrats, undermines even the ghost of a point you might have been able to make, had your intent been to make such an attempt, instead of the silly, poorly thought out partisan hit you actually managed.

cognitive madisonian
05-07-2009, 09:45 AM
If you think the ability to filibuster is a necessary part of a democratic state then there are almost no democracies, nor is there anything particularly valuable or admirable about democracy over "one party states". The tyranny of the majority has to do with the absence of minority rights, which doesn't include the 'right' to indefinitely delay any and all legislation

Other forms of government have other means of protecting the minority. And, the ability to protest bad, far-out legislation is a vital part of what makes America such a strong Democracy. The Democrats have no predisposition toward protecting Minority rights, and will likely pursue terrible legislation (Card Check, for instance) supported by a very small percentage of the country. Moroever, the netroots movement is essentially undemocratic, and has the goal of eliminating its opposition and ruling unopposed.

For great examples of ToM, check out the releasing of the names of AIG executives. Check out the illegal attempt at strongarming Chrysler lenders into accepting the government's scheme.

claymisher
05-07-2009, 10:44 AM
Moroever, the netroots movement is essentially undemocratic, and has the goal of eliminating its opposition and ruling unopposed.

That is batshit insane.

cognitive madisonian
05-07-2009, 10:53 AM
That is batshit insane.

Not really. It's abundantly clear from the rhetoric alone. There are no political debates to be had. Rather, for the netroots, there is a side that is morally degenerate and needs defeated by any means. The other side are just hateful people and their opinions constitute hate speech. They should be banished from the airwaves and marginalized.

I'm curious to know of bjkeefe or aemjeff, our two most high profile examples of the netroots mentality, know any conservatives, because my guess is they do not. They represent the self segregation of political groups that further endangers Democracy.

TwinSwords
05-07-2009, 12:08 PM
Not really. It's abundantly clear from the rhetoric alone. There are no political debates to be had. Rather, for the netroots, there is a side that is morally degenerate and needs defeated by any means. The other side are just hateful people and their opinions constitute hate speech. They should be banished from the airwaves and marginalized.

I'm curious to know of bjkeefe or aemjeff, our two most high profile examples of the netroots mentality, know any conservatives, because my guess is they do not. They represent the self segregation of political groups that further endangers Democracy.

It's really kind of funny how weepy conservatives have become. You wear your distress right on your sleeves. Try to keep a stiff upper lip. The world's not ending. You may even regain political power at some point in the future.

And for the record, all the talk about conservatism being dead or the Republican Party being in danger of withering away or being replaced by a new party is entirely premature. In a two party system, the single biggest driver for a political party is not ideology, but the imperative of reaching a plurality (usually a majority) of votes. It may take a while for Republicans to make the changes necessary to attract pluralities of voters*, but they will do so eventually -- and it could happen fast. There's no guarantee they won't make gains in 2010 or retake the White House in 2012.


*In his recent diavlog with Dan Drezner, David Frum claims that it normally takes 3-4 cycles for a party to make the changes necessary to start winning again. We'll see if he's right. In the current case, it all depends on how long the extremist/lunatic wing of the party can hold on.

cognitive madisonian
05-07-2009, 12:15 PM
It's really kind of funny how weepy conservatives have become. You wear your distress right on your sleeves. Try to keep a stiff upper lip. The world's not ending. You may even regain political power at some point in the future.

Irony.

And for the record, all the talk about conservatism being dead or the Republican Party being in danger of withering away or being replaced by a new party is entirely premature. In a two party system, the single biggest driver for a political party is not ideology, but the imperative of reaching a plurality (usually a majority) of votes. It may take a while for Republicans to make the changes necessary to attract pluralities of voters*, but they will do so eventually -- and it could happen fast. There's no guarantee they won't make gains in 2010 or retake the White House in 2012.


*In his recent diavlog with Dan Drezner, David Frum claims that it normally takes 3-4 cycles for a party to make the changes necessary to start winning again. We'll see if he's right. In the current case, it all depends on how long the extremist/lunatic wing of the party can hold on.

The GOP will gain gubernatorial seats in '10, probably between 4 and 8 of them, and there's a good chance they'll gain House and Senate seats, too. Not enough to retake the majority, unfortunately, but there will be gains. The danger is in doing what the left did in the wake of Reagan's win (moving further toward their ideological base), or going back further, Nixon's win, but this is unlikely because Obama is no Reagan (though he does in some ways remind me of Nixon).

AemJeff
05-07-2009, 03:39 PM
There have been a number of good posts on TPM (http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&rlz=1T4GGIT_enUS315US315&q=specter+sestak+site%3Atalkingpointsmemo.com) during the past week.

I'm not very familiar with where he stands, but many are concerned he's even more conservative than Specter. Don't know if that's actually true, though.

Thanks for that Twin. BTW, the Dems really are feckless (http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gVxZU8Co2GhDJbwy1R6zN6sHO-CAD981GQSG0). Sheesh.

cognitive madisonian
05-07-2009, 03:53 PM
Cog, turn off your AM radio; it's clogging your synapses. "Vitriolically partisan house speaker?" "Outright criminality" in Minnesota? "Unethical prosecution" in Alaska? You think if you keep incanting these absurdities they'll just magically be true when you wake up tomorrow?

And pampl is exactly right. You haven't a clue what the phrase "tyranny of the majority" actually was intended to represent. Even with the additional ritual incantation of the names "Madison" and "Tocqueville," neither of whom do you show any evidence of having actually read, you completely miss the mark.

And your special pleadings for Republicans, simultaneous with the frothing over Democrats, undermines even the ghost of a point you might have been able to make, had your intent been to make such an attempt, instead of the silly, poorly thought out partisan hit you actually managed.

As usual your reply is little more than veiled or not so veiled ad hominems. But the absurdity of your arguments is crystallized in your apparent ignorance of the fact that the case against Ted Stevens was dropped due to massive prosecutorial misconduct. I guess that doesn't matter so long as it's a Republican getting abused.

I'll again ask, do you know any conservatives? You consistently assume the worst in those who disagree with you and promulgate a philosophy of utter intellectual intolerance, tell-tale signs of a lack of socialization beyond a narrow social segment.

AemJeff
05-07-2009, 04:15 PM
As usual your reply is little more than veiled or not so veiled ad hominems. But the absurdity of your arguments is crystallized in your apparent ignorance of the fact that the case against Ted Stevens was dropped due to massive prosecutorial misconduct. I guess that doesn't matter so long as it's a Republican getting abused.

I'll again ask, do you know any conservatives? You consistently assume the worst in those who disagree with you and promulgate a philosophy of utter intellectual intolerance, tell-tale signs of a lack of socialization beyond a narrow social segment.

Cog, I assume the worst in people who demonstrate no apparent reasoning skills. Case in point - Ted Stevens was convicted on 10/27/08. Do you recall who was in charge of the Justice Department then, by any chance? The case was voided by the current Attorney General. If you Google it, you might find out which party he belongs to.

Source (http://www.adn.com/news/politics/fbi/stevens/story/743906.html).

The decision by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder comes after a new prosecution team discovered a previously undocumented interview on April 15, 2008, with the star witness in the case that sharply contradicted the most dramatic testimony in the four-week trial. The information had never been turned over to the defense, the Justice Department said in its motion.
That might have been a mistake, it might have been a deliberate act. Who can tell? It occurred at the federal level under a Republican Administration in a state with a Republican Governor and was voided by the Democratic successor of the then Republican AG. "Unethical prosecution?" You assume too much and attribute motive to the wrong parties and generally muddle the story to try to make a point that doesn't exist.

Do I know any conservatives? Yeah. Like 'em, too. I don't give a crap about affiliation.

btw "ad hominem" is not a noun.

cognitive madisonian
05-07-2009, 05:17 PM
Cog, I assume the worst in people who demonstrate no apparent reasoning skills. Case in point - Ted Stevens was convicted on 10/27/08. Do you recall who was in charge of the Justice Department then, by any chance? The case was voided by the current Attorney General. If you Google it, you might find out which party he belongs to.

The prosecutorial misconduct was politically inspired. This much has been established. It cost Stevens an election that he otherwise would have certainly would.


That might have been a mistake, it might have been a deliberate act. Who can tell? It occurred at the federal level under a Republican Administration in a state with a Republican Governor and was voided by the Democratic successor of the then Republican AG. "Unethical prosecution?" You assume too much and attribute motive to the wrong parties and generally muddle the story to try to make a point that doesn't exist.

So either they were conveniently incredibly stupid or they were malevolent and interested in a political prosecution. Hmmm...wonder which one it is.


Do I know any conservatives? Yeah. Like 'em, too. I don't give a crap about affiliation.

Do you share your obnoxious opinions with them?

nikkibong
05-28-2009, 11:47 AM
http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/05/exclusive-sestak-intends-to-run-for-senate.php?ref=fpa

Good news!

claymisher
06-30-2009, 05:00 PM
Franken!

bjkeefe
06-30-2009, 06:31 PM
Franken!

Heh. I forgot all about this thread. I went O/T and noted it elsewhere (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?p=118369#post118369) and elsewhere (http://bjkeefe.blogspot.com/2009/06/more-franken.html).

But, hurray, again!

TwinSwords
09-02-2009, 07:51 PM
Republican hissy fits seem less potent than ever before.

LOL. So much for that theory.

Whatfur
09-02-2009, 10:04 PM
LOL. So much for that theory.

There is a reason that this administration and its congress have been so inept and impotent...not enough of these! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yt66eWnjoTo).

BH country club members... your country needs YOU and you have what it takes!!

AemJeff
09-25-2009, 09:17 PM
Kirk is Sworn... (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=113231184&ft=1&f=1014)

TwinSwords
09-26-2009, 12:44 AM
Kirk is Sworn... (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=113231184&ft=1&f=1014)

Yeehaw! Go, Democrats!

claymisher
10-13-2009, 02:11 PM
61 in the cards?

Sens: Snowe's healthcare vote puts her top Commerce perch at risk
(http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/62727-sens-snowe-risks-perch)

bjkeefe
10-13-2009, 02:51 PM
61 in the cards?

Sens: Snowe's healthcare vote puts her top Commerce perch at risk
(http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/62727-sens-snowe-risks-perch)

Hmmm. I wonder how KBH's departure from the Senate makes things overall add up, too.

[Added] News flash on the NYT's home page indicates that she just now voted as promised. Sharpen the steely knives, Republicans!

[Added2] Live-blog (http://prescriptions.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/13/live-blogging-the-finance-panel-vote-on-health-care-bill/) confirms.

claymisher
10-13-2009, 03:55 PM
Hmmm. I wonder how KBH's departure from the Senate makes things overall add up, too.

[Added] News flash on the NYT's home page indicates that she just now voted as promised. Sharpen the steely knives, Republicans!

[Added2] Live-blog (http://prescriptions.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/13/live-blogging-the-finance-panel-vote-on-health-care-bill/) confirms.

I'm giving full credit to Obama for organizing for health care in Maine.

I can't wait to see what the payback is for Snowe. Nothing? If they're all talk then maybe we'll see more defections from Republican party loyalty. If they push her out then it's 61 D's.

I think this bipartisan thing is making sense to me now. :)

bjkeefe
10-13-2009, 11:02 PM
I can't wait to see what the payback is for Snowe.

It's already beginning. At least according to (http://wonkette.com/411607/redstate-about-to-blow-olympia-snowes-mind) the Grand High Exalted Mystic Ruler of the RedState Trike Force.

Eat rock salt, bitchez! Wolverines!

(And don't worry about who gets a cut when you click that "ORDER YOUR BAG HERE" link. Purely for your conveeeeeeenience that the GHEMRotRSTF has a storefront on Amazon.)

TwinSwords
10-13-2009, 11:08 PM
These wingnuts may yet save the Democrats come 2010.

TwinSwords
12-04-2009, 02:15 PM
I was pretty skeptical about Sen. Specter's switch to the Democratic Party. But he's turning out to be pretty decent -- and better than many other members of the caucus.

— Specter calls out Lieberman, Collins: Read The Fine Print On The Public Option (http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/12/specter-to-lieberman-collins-reread-the-fine-print-on-the-public-option.php?ref=fpa)

bjkeefe
12-04-2009, 02:24 PM
I was pretty skeptical about Sen. Specter's switch to the Democratic Party. But he's turning out to be pretty decent -- and better than many other members of the caucus.

— Specter calls out Lieberman, Collins: Read The Fine Print On The Public Option (http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/12/specter-to-lieberman-collins-reread-the-fine-print-on-the-public-option.php?ref=fpa)

Heh. Nice.

They must have changed the headline since you last c&p'ed. It now says:

Specter To Lieberman, Collins: Reread The Fine Print On The Public Option

I think the "reread" bit is part of that same decorum that makes Senators call each other "my friend."

graz
12-04-2009, 02:33 PM
I think the "reread" bit is part of that same decorum that makes Senators call each other "my friend."

With Franken being an exception to the clubbiness: How dare you? (http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/12/senate-gopers-its-al-frankens-fault-were-being-attacked-for-votes-against-anti-rape-amendment.php)

Let me show you how. (http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1209/30088.html)
Aides point out that despite attacks on Republicans by liberal commentators like Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann and on blogs such as Daily Kos, Franken never appeared on any of the shows or on the blogs to make a partisan argument about the matter, saying that the senator turned down entreaties to do so. Also, they point to the 10 Republicans who voted for the amendment as proof that it wasn’t a partisan measure.

bjkeefe
12-04-2009, 03:14 PM
With Franken being an exception to the clubbiness: How dare you? (http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/12/senate-gopers-its-al-frankens-fault-were-being-attacked-for-votes-against-anti-rape-amendment.php)

Let me show you how. (http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1209/30088.html)

Good lord. Shorter whiny Republicans in the Senate: How dare Al Franken play this bill for partisan gain (even though he's not). Now let us play this bill for partisan gain, because we do, in fact, support rape, as long as it's done by American military contractors.

claymisher
12-04-2009, 03:21 PM
Good lord. Shorter whiny Republicans in the Senate:

I don't why it takes a former comedian to come up with this stuff. I figured out divide and conquer tactics when I was a kid. There ought to be plenty of bills brought to the floor that Republicans are afraid to vote for AND afraid to vote against. This seems like politics 101.

graz
12-05-2009, 09:57 AM
I don't why it takes a former comedian to come up with this stuff. I figured out divide and conquer tactics when I was a kid. There ought to be plenty of bills brought to the floor that Republicans are afraid to vote for AND afraid to vote against. This seems like politics 101.

Another twist on the politics 101 theme:
http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/

claymisher
12-05-2009, 12:39 PM
Another twist on the politics 101 theme:
http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/

Thanks Graz.

They ought to have a wedge issue come up to vote every week.

bjkeefe
12-19-2009, 10:59 PM
From the NYT (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/20/health/policy/20health.html) (emph. added):

Democrats Clinch Deal for Deciding Vote on Health Bill

Senate Democrats said Saturday that they had clinched an agreement on a far-reaching overhaul of the nation’s health care system and forged ahead with efforts to approve the legislation by Christmas over Republican opposition.

As the Senate convened in a blizzard, Democratic leaders hailed a breakthrough that came when Senator Ben Nelson, Democrat of Nebraska, agreed to back the bill after 13 hours of negotiations on Friday, making him the pivotal 60th vote ...

See also: an op-ed, "Why the Senate Should Vote Yes on Health Care (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/20/opinion/20biden.html)," by your favorite Vice President.

claymisher
12-20-2009, 02:09 AM
From the NYT (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/20/health/policy/20health.html) (emph. added):

See also: an op-ed, "Why the Senate Should Vote Yes on Health Care (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/20/opinion/20biden.html)," by your favorite Vice President.

Have you been following John Cole and the Balloon Juice gang? I'm with them 100%. But I think this guy puts it best:

And here's the thing: yes, the Dems did accept some Republican amendments, and yes, we had the fun of the Gang of Six during the summer, and yes, there are lots of Republicans who are dedicated to opposing anything that Democrats propose. But make no mistake about it: this bill is designed to get exactly 60 votes. It's designed to be the most liberal bill that 60 Senators can vote for. And Pelosi is doing the same in the House, which is why there are so many close votes on that side.

So, while it is true that Republicans are following a rejectionist strategy, it's also true that Democrats are placing a priority on getting the most liberal bill possible, not the most possible votes. And the downside of that is that it's going to mean that one or two Senators are always going to be in a position to derail things.


http://plainblogaboutpolitics.blogspot.com/2009/12/hey-liberals-hes-statesman.html

bjkeefe
12-20-2009, 07:56 AM
Have you been following John Cole and the Balloon Juice gang? I'm with them 100%. But I think this guy puts it best:



http://plainblogaboutpolitics.blogspot.com/2009/12/hey-liberals-hes-statesman.html

Interesting perspective. Thanks. I suppose if I could believe members of Congress could be that calculating about designing anything, it would be in that regard.

No, I haven't looked at Balloon Juice in a few weeks. I'm a little burned out on politics at the moment, I guess.

[Added] BTW, I don't think your link connects to your quote. Did you mean to give the URL for this post (http://plainblogaboutpolitics.blogspot.com/2009/12/why-it-rests-on-one-vote.html) instead?

Ocean
12-20-2009, 09:38 AM
...But make no mistake about it: this bill is designed to get exactly 60 votes. It's designed to be the most liberal bill that 60 Senators can vote for. And Pelosi is doing the same in the House, which is why there are so many close votes on that side...

That's an interesting perspective. And it's certainly one that brings some consolation for the shortcomings.

Ocean
12-24-2009, 04:29 PM
The Senate bill passed this morning 60-39. At least we have some progress.