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-   -   Democrats were fools to take the Gang of 14 deal. Surprise! (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?t=7212)

Don Zeko 12-06-2011 02:09 PM

Democrats were fools to take the Gang of 14 deal. Surprise!
 
So fellow filibuster opponent Matt Yglesias has been saying for a while that the Dems should have just let the Republicans kill the filibuster back in 2005, since the judicial filibuster screws over both sides equally, while getting a bunch of right wingers on the Federal bench only helps Republicans. I think that was a pretty strong argument against that deal, but it becomes an incredibly strong argument if it turns out that Dems don't get filibuster-free judicial nominations:

Quote:

As Felicia Sonmez notes, all four remaining "Gang of 14" Republicans voted against cloture, as they did in the case of Goodwin Liu. The deal back then was that the 14 wouldn't support a filibuster except in undefined, or self-defined, "extraordinary circumstances." However, it's been clear that the agreement was a dead letter since about January 20, 2009, although it didn't matter a lot in the 110th Congress, when 60 votes for cloture were relatively easy to come by -- although even then, GOP filibusters slowed down many nominations, even though they only had the power to chew up Senate time and not to ultimately defeat them. And while only two nominations have been defeated by filibuster so far, Republicans continue to insist on 60 votes for every nomination (and therefore are filibustering every single nomination), and have bottled up quite a few others that Harry Reid isn't bringing to the floor because they may not have the votes needed to break the filibuster.

In other words, we're moving more and more rapidly towards a system in which appellate judges cannot be confirmed except in the rare case of a president happening to have a very large party majority in the Senate, something that happens rarely.

TwinSwords 12-06-2011 06:11 PM

Re: Democrats were fools to take the Gang of 14 deal. Surprise!
 
Quote:

In other words, we're moving more and more rapidly towards a system in which appellate judges cannot be confirmed except in the rare case of a president happening to have a very large party majority in the Senate, something that happens rarely.
What do you think, Don? Does this (above) sound true to you? My impression is that "we're moving more and more rapidily towards a system in which Republicans block everything Democrats don't have 60 votes for," but that this will never play out to the same extent in reverse, for a couple of reasons:

-- Democrats just aren't going to do that kind of damage, or arrogantly deny the majority their rightful prerogatives, to anywhere near the extent the Republicans do.

-- Among the Democrats there are always a significant number of conservatives, so that even when Democrats have a nominal majority, there is still a conservative majority; this explains why a Democratic-controlled Congress is still generally a conservative institution, and why you need truly enormous Democratic majorities to do anything that could truly be called liberal.

If a Republican is elected in 2012, I can't imagine Democrats sabotaging his presidency for four years the way the Republicans have sabotaged Obama's presidency -- and the nation -- for the last four.

Basically a deranged minority cult has the country by the throat and Americans need to decide whether they really want to permit it, and how to deal with it if they don't.

Don Zeko 12-06-2011 06:19 PM

Re: Democrats were fools to take the Gang of 14 deal. Surprise!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TwinSwords (Post 233711)
What do you think, Don? Does this (above) sound true to you? My impression is that "we're moving more and more rapidily towards a system in which Republicans block everything Democrats don't have 60 votes for," but that this will never play out to the same extent in reverse, for a couple of reasons:

-- Democrats just aren't going to do that kind of damage, or arrogantly deny the majority their rightful prerogatives, to anywhere near the extent the Republicans do.

-- Among the Democrats there are always a significant number of conservatives, so that even when Democrats have a nominal majority, there is still a conservative majority; this explains why a Democratic-controlled Congress is still generally a conservative institution, and why you need truly enormous Democratic majorities to do anything that could truly be called liberal.

If a Republican is elected in 2012, I can't imagine Democrats sabotaging his presidency for four years the way the Republicans have sabotaged Obama's presidency -- and the nation -- for the last four.

Basically a deranged minority cult has the country by the throat and Americans need to decide whether they really want to permit it, and how to deal with it if they don't.

I'm not sure how much party discipline Dems will have on appointments and filibusters the next time the GOP is in charge. My guess would be less than the Republicans, but more than the Republicans are willing to live with, but I could easily be wrong on that. What I will confidently predict is that, if a conservative supreme court justice leaves the bench for any reason while Obama is still in office, he will not be able to confirm a replacement without abolishing the filibuster.

TwinSwords 12-06-2011 06:23 PM

Re: Democrats were fools to take the Gang of 14 deal. Surprise!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Don Zeko (Post 233714)
I'm not sure how much party discipline Dems will have on appointments and filibusters the next time the GOP is in charge. My guess would be less than the Republicans, but more than the Republicans are willing to live with, but I could easily be wrong on that. What I will confidently predict is that, if a conservative supreme court justice leaves the bench for any reason while Obama is still in office, he will not be able to confirm a replacement without abolishing the filibuster.

I agree with that. I'm surprised he got the first two. I was convinced they would block any Supreme Court picks. If they could just get a 5th Alito/Scalia/Roberts/Thomas type on the Court, they could really start tearing out the floorboards and ripping up the walls.

chiwhisoxx 12-06-2011 09:43 PM

Re: Democrats were fools to take the Gang of 14 deal. Surprise!
 
goodwin liu would have been a terrible judge. republicans prevented him from becoming a judge. i'm having trouble finding my outrage button

Don Zeko 12-06-2011 09:52 PM

Re: Democrats were fools to take the Gang of 14 deal. Surprise!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by chiwhisoxx (Post 233750)
goodwin liu would have been a terrible judge. republicans prevented him from becoming a judge. i'm having trouble finding my outrage button

If it were just Goodwin Liu, that would be one thing. It's not. Republicans are running a blanket filibuster of Obama's judicial nominations. That's both a big deal and fairly direct renege on the Go14 deal.

TwinSwords 12-06-2011 11:05 PM

Re: Democrats were fools to take the Gang of 14 deal. Surprise!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Don Zeko (Post 233752)
If it were just Goodwin Liu, that would be one thing. It's not. Republicans are running a blanket filibuster of Obama's judicial nominations. That's both a big deal and fairly direct renege on the Go14 deal.

Yeah. That's the real point of the thread.

Staunch conservative chiwhi supports Republicans in Congress: Dog bites man.

Wonderment 12-07-2011 04:00 AM

Re: Democrats were fools to take the Gang of 14 deal. Surprise!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Don Zeko (Post 233752)
If it were just Goodwin Liu, that would be one thing. It's not. Republicans are running a blanket filibuster of Obama's judicial nominations. That's both a big deal and fairly direct renege on the Go14 deal.

Major scoundrels:

Quote:

Of the seven Republican senators who were part of the Gang of 14, four John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Olympia J. Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine are still serving. All voted against allowing a vote on Ms. Halligan.

miceelf 12-07-2011 08:41 AM

Re: Democrats were fools to take the Gang of 14 deal. Surprise!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 233779)
Major scoundrels:

Major scoundrels, I hasten to point out, who are widely lauded as "reasonable" and "moderate" and "bipartisan". Feh.

chiwhisoxx 12-07-2011 10:24 AM

Re: Democrats were fools to take the Gang of 14 deal. Surprise!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TwinSwords (Post 233760)
Yeah. That's the real point of the thread.

Staunch conservative chiwhi supports Republicans in Congress: Dog bites man.

I am not within shouting distance of a "staunch conservative".

chiwhisoxx 12-07-2011 10:26 AM

Re: Democrats were fools to take the Gang of 14 deal. Surprise!
 
It's also worth pointing out that a person you mention in your post (Yglesias) has advocated lying in order to advance certain political causes. I think the way he made the argument was stupid and counter-productive, but the idea behind it is an interesting one. It's actually not immediately apparent that it's always wrong to be dishonest to gain certain things in politics. Extremely simplified version of this for Republicans: be honest, get bad judges. Or be dishonest, block bad judges.

Don Zeko 12-07-2011 11:16 AM

Re: Democrats were fools to take the Gang of 14 deal. Surprise!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by chiwhisoxx (Post 233797)
It's also worth pointing out that a person you mention in your post (Yglesias) has advocated lying in order to advance certain political causes. I think the way he made the argument was stupid and counter-productive, but the idea behind it is an interesting one. It's actually not immediately apparent that it's always wrong to be dishonest to gain certain things in politics. Extremely simplified version of this for Republicans: be honest, get bad judges. Or be dishonest, block bad judges.

I don't really care about the honesty/dishonesty side of it. What I do care about is that our current set of political institutions can't function if the opposition party considers allowing the President to make any appointments to the federal bench to be an unacceptable policy outcome. So either the Republicans need to accept that they'll only get to block Goodwin Liu if they can get a majority to vote against him, or we need to change our political institutions.

chiwhisoxx 12-07-2011 12:34 PM

Re: Democrats were fools to take the Gang of 14 deal. Surprise!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Don Zeko (Post 233811)
I don't really care about the honesty/dishonesty side of it. What I do care about is that our current set of political institutions can't function if the opposition party considers allowing the President to make any appointments to the federal bench to be an unacceptable policy outcome. So either the Republicans need to accept that they'll only get to block Goodwin Liu if they can get a majority to vote against him, or we need to change our political institutions.

that's fine. I was talking about the set of decisions you make within the current institutional framework. we've probably already had a filibuster argument in the past, but I do want to re-iterate how annoying the "republicans won't be able to do things when they're in power either, so it's in their interest to get rid of the filibuster!" let's not pretend like removing an institution that would then make it easier for gov't to do things is a non-ideological proposition. I may actually agree with you somewhat on appointments, but I'd have to think about it more, and I also think it matters which appointments we're talking about. so there are an awful lot of vacancies that should be filled, but I think we could come up with some compromise that keeps the filibuster for legislation but makes it harder to use on certain appointments.

TwinSwords 12-07-2011 01:06 PM

Re: Democrats were fools to take the Gang of 14 deal. Surprise!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by chiwhisoxx (Post 233834)
I think we could come up with some compromise that keeps the filibuster for legislation but makes it harder to use on certain appointments.

The "compromise" would be to eliminate the use of the filibuster that is most troublesome for Republicans and keep the use that is most troublesome for Democrats?

Yeah. That sounds like the kind of compromise Democrats would make.

Don Zeko 12-07-2011 01:19 PM

Re: Democrats were fools to take the Gang of 14 deal. Surprise!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by chiwhisoxx (Post 233834)
that's fine. I was talking about the set of decisions you make within the current institutional framework. we've probably already had a filibuster argument in the past, but I do want to re-iterate how annoying the "republicans won't be able to do things when they're in power either, so it's in their interest to get rid of the filibuster!" let's not pretend like removing an institution that would then make it easier for gov't to do things is a non-ideological proposition. I may actually agree with you somewhat on appointments, but I'd have to think about it more, and I also think it matters which appointments we're talking about. so there are an awful lot of vacancies that should be filled, but I think we could come up with some compromise that keeps the filibuster for legislation but makes it harder to use on certain appointments.

I don't really see the point of having this discussion if we can't agree that a blanket filibuster on every presidential appointment and every bill brought by the majority is a serious problem. Also, how is it an annoying argument that the filibuster hurts both sides? You want to repeal Dodd-Frank and the ACA, right? You want to reform the tax code, right? Do you really think you should only get to do these things if you have 60 votes in the Senate? Is this only irritating because it's true, and it makes your objections uncomfortably self-serving?

TwinSwords 12-07-2011 01:20 PM

Re: Democrats were fools to take the Gang of 14 deal. Surprise!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by chiwhisoxx (Post 233796)
I am not within shouting distance of a "staunch conservative".

I'm curious what you'd consider yourself if not staunchly conservative. How about a "staunchly partisan Republican?" You can be depended on to rally to the support of your party on a wide variety of topics; you have a clear partisan loyalty that has a deep emotional element to it. And that party -- the Republicans -- is currently at the outer fringes of conservative extremism, more extremist than it has been since ... when? When Goldwater ran for president?

I don't really get how someone who isn't staunchly conservative can also be such a partisan GOP loyalist. Maybe you're using a more technical definition of conservative than I am and you mean to imply you're more of a libertarian?

chiwhisoxx 12-07-2011 03:55 PM

Re: Democrats were fools to take the Gang of 14 deal. Surprise!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TwinSwords (Post 233838)
I'm curious what you'd consider yourself if not staunchly conservative. How about a "staunchly partisan Republican?" You can be depended on to rally to the support of your party on a wide variety of topics; you have a clear partisan loyalty that has a deep emotional element to it. And that party -- the Republicans -- is currently at the outer fringes of conservative extremism, more extremist than it has been since ... when? When Goldwater ran for president?

I don't really get how someone who isn't staunchly conservative can also be such a partisan GOP loyalist. Maybe you're using a more technical definition of conservative than I am and you mean to imply you're more of a libertarian?

The GOP stool has 3 legs. Fiscal, social and foreign policy. I mostly agree on fiscal, mostly disagree on social, and am pretty ambiguous at the moment on the foreign policy aspect. That does not to me mean "staunch". However, I still prefer the GOP to the Democrats. There is no "deep emotional element" as you imply, and I think that may be projection. I don't agree with your characterization of the GOP, so I don't really have the problems you seem to think I should in terms of reconciling myself to the party. I always find it amusing when I'm accused of being some wild eyed extremist by people who are, by all accounts, REALLY REALLY far to the left, as you are. You may think the American political spectrum sucks, but by that standard, I'm a pretty moderate centrist, and you're the extreme one. This doesn't make me any better than you or vice versa; no location on an ideological spectrum is inherently a vice. But if you're going to use the term extreme pejoratively, be prepared to have it thrown right back at you.

chiwhisoxx 12-07-2011 03:58 PM

Re: Democrats were fools to take the Gang of 14 deal. Surprise!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Don Zeko (Post 233837)
I don't really see the point of having this discussion if we can't agree that a blanket filibuster on every presidential appointment and every bill brought by the majority is a serious problem. Also, how is it an annoying argument that the filibuster hurts both sides? You want to repeal Dodd-Frank and the ACA, right? You want to reform the tax code, right? Do you really think you should only get to do these things if you have 60 votes in the Senate? Is this only irritating because it's true, and it makes your objections uncomfortably self-serving?

No, it's irritating because it's arbitrary, whiny, and an argument most liberals only advance when convenient. Yes, yes MATT YGLESIAS WANTED IT GONE IN 2005 ZOMG. But most people didn't say a peep about it. And you didn't address the ideological point. Perhaps because it's uncomfortable for you to admit that it's a factor here? Also, you realize 51 and 60 are equally arbitrary numbers, right? 51 is a majority obviously, but being a majority does not immediately confer some moral status that transcends all things.

Don Zeko 12-07-2011 06:09 PM

Re: Democrats were fools to take the Gang of 14 deal. Surprise!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by chiwhisoxx (Post 233857)
No, it's irritating because it's arbitrary, whiny, and an argument most liberals only advance when convenient. Yes, yes MATT YGLESIAS WANTED IT GONE IN 2005 ZOMG. But most people didn't say a peep about it.

This would carry a lot more weight if the filibuster situation hadn't gotten much, much worse since then. And since when is it arbitrary and whiny to argue that majority rule is a good thing?

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...o_2008.svg.png

Quote:

Originally Posted by chiwhisoxx (Post 233857)
And you didn't address the ideological point. Perhaps because it's uncomfortable for you to admit that it's a factor here?

If you're going to hinge your argument on the idea that history is an inevitable movement towards steadily more progressive policy that can only be averted through arbitrary political institutions that render congressional majorities incapable of implementing the policies they favor, then you said it, not me. And I feel like I did address this when I mentioned repealing Dodd-Frank and the ACA. Should I add the fact that 41 democratic Senators can decide that none of the Bush Tax Cuts should be extended at all? The filibuster is bad for everyone that doesn't want current policy on every federal issue enshrined in stone forever. And in the case of the federal judiciary and executive branch appointments, it's bad for people that want a functioning legal system and executive branch. If you think that Conservatives don't want these things, that's on you.

Quote:

Originally Posted by chiwhisoxx (Post 233857)
Also, you realize 51 and 60 are equally arbitrary numbers, right? 51 is a majority obviously, but being a majority does not immediately confer some moral status that transcends all things.

Chi, are you seriously arguing that 51 and 60 are equally arbitrary numbers? We call it majority rule for a reason. And your last sentence is a strawman worthy of Sugarkang, btw.

apple 12-07-2011 11:06 PM

Re: Democrats were fools to take the Gang of 14 deal. Surprise!
 
You should be happy that Republicans are stupid enough to legitimize filibustering judicial nominees. Next time an Alito comes around, the Dimwitocrats will be able to save us from him.

TwinSwords 12-08-2011 12:30 AM

Re: Democrats were fools to take the Gang of 14 deal. Surprise!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by apple (Post 233912)
You should be happy that Republicans are stupid enough to legitimize filibustering judicial nominees. Next time an Alito comes around, the Dimwitocrats will be able to save us from him.

But they won't. Democrats don't have the ideological purity of the New Confederacy (i.e., Republicans). Plus, they respect American institutions, how the system is supposed to operate, the prerogatives of the majority and the presidency. (The Founders obviously didn't intend for a radicalized cult of extremists to sabotage democracy as Republicans have done.) Democrats simply won't obstruct appointments and harm the country the way Republicans have.

The key is this: There are always some conservative Democrats in any Democratic caucus. Even when Republicans are in the minority, conservative Democrats will vote with them on many issues, so even when there is a Democratic Congressional majority, there is still a liberal minority. It takes a truly staggering Democratic majority to achieve a liberal majority in Congress.

TwinSwords 12-08-2011 12:43 AM

Re: Democrats were fools to take the Gang of 14 deal. Surprise!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by chiwhisoxx (Post 233856)
I always find it amusing when I'm accused of being some wild eyed extremist

Have I really ever called you an extremist? I chose the word "staunch" as an alternative to extremist, precisely because I don't think of you as being an extremist; you're not off the deep end like badhat or apple or Sulla. But I do think you at least come across in the forum as a committed, devoted, dedicated Republican partisan. Whether this translates into actual "staunch conservative" may be less clear, which is why I asked. Still, you are a partisan supporter of an extremely far right party.


Quote:

Originally Posted by chiwhisoxx (Post 233856)
by people who are, by all accounts, REALLY REALLY far to the left, as you are.

I'll admit that I am "really really far to the left" by some accounts, such as yours, but it's simply inaccurate that I'm "really really far to the left by all accounts." I think all of the non-conservatives in this forum -- at least those who actually know my views -- realize I'm pretty much a mainstream Democrat with some views that are more moderate and some views that are more liberal. If you'd like to make a case for your claim that I'm "really really far to the left," I'd be willing to entertain the discussion.


Quote:

Originally Posted by chiwhisoxx (Post 233856)
You may think the American political spectrum sucks, but by that standard, I'm a pretty moderate centrist, and you're the extreme one. This doesn't make me any better than you or vice versa; no location on an ideological spectrum is inherently a vice. But if you're going to use the term extreme pejoratively, be prepared to have it thrown right back at you.

Just to reiterate: I didn't say you were "extreme" -- at least in this conversation. Maybe I have on previous occasions. In this conversation, I called you "staunch," which is a pretty modest claim.

http://img830.imageshack.us/img830/2970/staunch.png

"Extremist" is definitely a pejorative, but staunch isn't. Some people would find it flattering, in fact. It certainly sounds positive from the definition above.

Don Zeko 12-08-2011 01:15 PM

Re: Democrats were fools to take the Gang of 14 deal. Surprise!
 
More on this subject: House Republicans refusing to officially go on recess in order to prevent Obama from making recess appointments:

Quote:

Barack Obama, in his press briefing after the Senate defeated by filibuster the Richard Cordray nomination today, threatened a recess appointment. My work on this is apparently not done, because Dave Weigel -- who is an excellent reporter -- then tweeted: "What recess does Obama think Congress is going to have, exactly? House ain't gonna play along."

So, time for a quick review of the basics (detailed info here). The problem is that the House is refusing to go into extended recess, using pro forma sessions to prevent a recess longer than three days -- and by the Constitution, the Senate cannot recess for more than three days if the House is in session. However, there are at least three options that the president could use if he wants to move ahead anyway, all of which appear to be legal and Constitutional, although no doubt he'd provoke a controversy if he used any of them. Of course, as I'm going to say over at Greg's place later, the real controversy is the current GOP use of the filibuster...at any rate, here are his options:

Don Zeko 12-11-2011 03:16 PM

Re: Democrats were fools to take the Gang of 14 deal. Surprise!
 
But wait, there's more! Republicans are trying to abolish the Consumer Financial Protection Agency by refusing to confirm anyone to run it. James Fallows calls this the "New Nullification," which isn't a great comparison, but he's right enough on the merits that I don't much care:

Quote:

Before the episode recedes fully from the news, please read this item, by Jonathan Cohn on Thursday evening, about the extraordinary step the Senate Republicans took that day. Cohn says that the Republican minority's success in blocking a vote on Richard Cordray's nomination to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau amounts to "nullification," quoting Thomas Mann of Brookings to the same effect. They are right. [As is David Weigel in Slate.] (Plain Dealer photo of Cordray.)

Nullification is obviously a loaded term. Historical context here: think John C. Calhoun, South Carolina, and struggles over federal/state rights in the years before the Civil War. But it is an appropriately dramatic term for the on-the-fly rewriting of the Constitution that the unified Senate Republicans have been carrying out these past five years.
Oh, and he also catches Lindsay Graham (what is it about South Carolina?) saying this awfully directly:

Quote:

Maybe it's something about being a U.S. Senator from South Carolina. Today on Meet the Press, Sen. Lindsay Graham flat-out declared the Republican intention to nullify the already-passed legislation to establish a Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. According to the transcript, with emphasis added:
So this consumer bureau that they want to pass is under the Federal Reserve. No appropriation oversight, no board. It is something out of the Stalinist era.

The reason Republicans don't want to vote for it is we want a board, not one person, making all the regulatory decisions, and there's no oversight under this person. He gets a check from the Federal Reserve. We want him under the Congress so we can oversee the overseer.
It is embarrassing but apparently necessary to point out that the bureau has already passed, it is the law of the land, and if the Republicans "don't want to vote for it" or "want" it run a different way, their option under the Constitution is to change the legislation or restrict the bureau's funding. Instead they are acting as if the established rules for "how a Bill becomes a Law" do not apply if they do not "want" them to.

This strategy depends absolutely for its success on its not being called what it is: Constitutional radicalism, or nullification. This is an extension of the media normalization of the filibuster, through stories that say a bill has "failed" if it doesn't get 60 votes.


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