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Obama says no-go to Pro Forma sessions
January 5, 2012 2:01 PM   Subscribe

Presidential appointments that require Senate confirmation can be made without confirmation by the President when the chamber is in recess: a so-called recess appointment, wherein the appointee is allowed to serve until the end of the next congressional session. During the Bush II administration, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid began holding pro forma sessions every three days—a local Senator gavels the session in and immediately back out—to ensure that the Senate never went into recess and as a result, Bush stopped confirming recess appointments. When the Obama administration took over, the Republicans began holding the same pro forma sessions to prevent Obama from appointing any positions in recess. This week, Obama made four appointments, including Richard Cordray to the newly created role of director of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, despite the fact that the Senate is not in technical recess.

From the NYT Blog:
Under a “formalist” view, the Senate is in session whenever it says it is in session – even if the chamber is empty most of the time and all the senators are in their home states. If that view is correct, then Mr. Obama’s appointments on Wednesday were constitutionally invalid.

Under a “functional” view, the Senate is in recess if its members are unavailable to perform the tasks the Constitution assigns to them – like deciding whether to consent to the appointment of a presidential nominee.

The administration’s legal team has adopted the second view – thereby freeing Mr. Obama to make the recess appointments. But several legal questions were raised by the move.
And from the White House's own blog, their explanation:
Here are the facts: The Constitution gives the President the authority to make temporary recess appointments to fill vacant positions when the Senate is in recess, a power all recent Presidents have exercised. The Senate has effectively been in recess for weeks, and is expected to remain in recess for weeks. In an overt attempt to prevent the President from exercising his authority during this period, Republican Senators insisted on using a gimmick called “pro forma” sessions, which are sessions during which no Senate business is conducted and instead one or two Senators simply gavel in and out of session in a matter of seconds. But gimmicks do not override the President’s constitutional authority to make appointments to keep the government running. Legal experts agree. In fact, the lawyers who advised President Bush on recess appointments wrote that the Senate cannot use sham “pro forma” sessions to prevent the President from exercising a constitutional power.
The Atlantic weighs in. Fox News mentions that the US Chamber of Commerce may sue, as they are against the CFPB in its entirety. This essentially signals an end of pro forma sessions meant explicitly to block the President's Constitutional right to appoint individuals during a recess, if it's upheld.
posted by disillusioned (113 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
The stupid fucking games the two parties are playing right now are the political equivalent of that backseat classic, "Why are you hitting yourself? Why are you hitting yourself? Stop hitting yourself!"
posted by mudpuppie at 2:03 PM on January 5, 2012 [14 favorites]


The Constitution touched me first! Stop touching me!
posted by the Magna Carta at 2:08 PM on January 5, 2012 [22 favorites]


ITT:

People who normally complain about Obama being too timid, now complain about obama running roughshod over the constitution.

People who have been complaining about Obama running roughshod over the constitution now praising Obama for growing a spine.
posted by empath at 2:08 PM on January 5, 2012 [9 favorites]


This is a win-win.

The more they rail on about how they want to get rid of the consumer financial protection bureau by denying it a leader, the better. Obama out to bust gridlock, Congress trying to increase it.

If he loses he wins. If he wins, he wins. Its not n-dimensional chess it is plain ol' politics.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:09 PM on January 5, 2012 [18 favorites]


mudpuppie: you've got some false equivalence going on there
posted by aspo at 2:09 PM on January 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


the US Chamber of Commerce may sue, as they are against the CFPB in its entirety

How would just being against the CFPB give them standing to sue? The CFPB's existence is law of the land, a case based on being harmed by executive action to, well, execute the law seems like a pretty tenuous one.
posted by weston at 2:09 PM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fox News mentions that the US Chamber of Commerce may sue, as they are against the CFPB in its entirety

Which one, Fox News or the Chamber of Commerce?

I was curious what the CFPB would actually do that merits this hubbub, and the Atlantic piece goes into this in a little detail. If this agency ends up having any regulatory teeth, then this is a good challenge to take on.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:10 PM on January 5, 2012


The Chamber will not sue. Have no standing ...one of the outfits that will come under the scrutiny of the new Dept and its head will sue to argue the decision invalidates what has been done.
The courts will then have to decide if a dept that oversees things for the good of the public is illegal and we ought not have such scrutiny. Obama will be seen as our defender against greedy commercial outfits.
posted by Postroad at 2:15 PM on January 5, 2012


the US Chamber of Commerce may sue, as they are against the CFPB in its entirety

How would just being against the CFPB give them standing to sue? The CFPB's existence is law of the land, a case based on being harmed by executive action to, well, execute the law seems like a pretty tenuous one.


Agreed. There is no "taxpayer standing." The reason they are trotting out the Chamber is that there's only one party that can sue, GOP senators.

whose gonna step up boys? Explain to the nice folks why Wall Street needs to be able to avoid moves to protect you.

This would be the dumbest move since Romney released his "lower taxes on the rich, raise them on the poor" plan.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:15 PM on January 5, 2012


I think the fact that a Democratic congress used pro forma sessions to prevent Bush's recess appointments is kind of a red herring - Bush could have decided to try and make those appointments during the pro forma session just as Obama has done.

The question is not whether He Hit Me First. The question is whether or not it's legal.
posted by muddgirl at 2:15 PM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


People who normally complain about Obama being too timid, now complain about obama running roughshod over the constitution.

And Empath deliberately mischaracterizes people who don't like Obama.

I'm one who often criticizes Obama for being too timid, and I think this is exactly the correct thing to do. This bullshit of freezing up the government to damage the other party needs to stop.
posted by Malor at 2:24 PM on January 5, 2012 [15 favorites]


People who normally complain about Obama being too timid, now complain about obama running roughshod over the constitution.

Nope. I still think he's too timid. This particular move does not excuse his other shorcomings.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 2:25 PM on January 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Constitution touched me first! Stop touching me!
posted by the Magna Carta at 5:08 PM on January 5


You are older, Magna Carta, and should know better.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:26 PM on January 5, 2012 [80 favorites]


Magna Carta is only a day old
posted by edgeways at 2:27 PM on January 5, 2012


People who normally complain about Obama being too timid, now complain about obama running roughshod over the constitution.

I'm waiting for the big pile to hit with all of the Federal Reserve board members, judges, etc.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 2:27 PM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


First, recess appointments are Constitutionally mandated.

Second, pro-forma sessions are NOT Constitutionally mandated. They are an end-run around the spirit of our legislative process.

The president is in the right here.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 2:28 PM on January 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


Bush could have decided to try and make those appointments during the pro forma session just as Obama has done.

Obama's a piker in this arena.

From Mother Jones magazine:

According to reports from the Congressional Research Service, during their time in office President Ronald Reagan made 240 recess appointments, President George H. W. Bush made 77 recess appointments, President Bill Clinton made 140 recess appointments, and George W. Bush made 171. Obama's first term has seen a paltry 28. In this context, Obama's move seems less like a power grab and more like the proverbial 98-pound weakling taking a second to wipe the sand out of his eyes.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 2:32 PM on January 5, 2012 [17 favorites]


Just end the filibuster already. We didn't even have it till 1806. It's not some fundamental check, and it leads to this ridiculousness the Republicans are pulling.
posted by Sangermaine at 2:32 PM on January 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


Benny Andajetz - how many of those appointments were made during full congressional recess (ie, the House and the Senate agree to a recess as mandated by the constitution), and how many during pro forma sessions?
posted by muddgirl at 2:35 PM on January 5, 2012


And Empath deliberately mischaracterizes people who don't like Obama.

I'm one who often criticizes Obama for being too timid, and I think this is exactly the correct thing to do. This bullshit of freezing up the government to damage the other party needs to stop.



----

Look, the guy said that torture was against the law and the Constitution, and that he'd fix the problem if he was President.

So we elected him, and his "solution" was to make torture legal.

The man is not fit for office. We were fools to elect him. He is George W. Bush in almost every sense.
posted by Malor at 12:20 PM on November 23, 2011 [25 favorites +] [!]

-------

As I said, in the second part, which you failed to post: People who have been complaining about Obama running roughshod over the constitution now praising Obama for growing a spine.
posted by empath at 2:36 PM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not some fundamental check, and it leads to this ridiculousness the Republicans are pulling.

The filibuster was the only thing that held back the worst Bush-era excesses and stopped a ton of conservative judicial appointments.
posted by empath at 2:38 PM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is definitely the right move. It's obviously a bit hypocritical but hypocrisy is the name of the game in the two party system. Play it to win.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:38 PM on January 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ugh, on review I am confusing recess with adjournment.
posted by muddgirl at 2:38 PM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I guess that only Scalia, Roberts, Alito, Thomas and Kennedy can settle this matter
posted by moorooka at 2:41 PM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


The US Chamber of Commerce is a dinosaur, and there are very strong indications that it may be corrupt..

I have been involved with a local Chamber of Commerce, as a businessperson, and it was as close to a bad joke as anything I have ever seen, or experienced. Who cares what the Chamber says!

This is a good move by Obama.
posted by Vibrissae at 2:42 PM on January 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


On NPR this morning, a disembodied voice was speculating that Obama's recess appointments would antagonize Congressional Republicans and provoke them to lock the wheels of government in retaliation.

So after I cleaned hot coffee off the walls of the kitchen, I concluded that NPR now grows its commentators in vats and replaces them the instant they begin to develop a sense of irony.
posted by R. Schlock at 2:56 PM on January 5, 2012 [22 favorites]


People who have been complaining about Obama running roughshod over the constitution now praising Obama for growing a spine.

Reality is more complex than bumper sticker slogans /meta-irony
posted by crayz at 3:01 PM on January 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Benny Andajetz - how many of those appointments were made during full congressional recess (ie, the House and the Senate agree to a recess as mandated by the constitution), and how many during pro forma sessions?

This is a first, I believe.

There was talk last week that Obama would make his appointment during the brief (maybe less than 30 seconds) break between ending one pro forma session and gaveling in a new one. Apparently, he just decided to not recognize the pro forma session and made the appointment anyway.

Personally, I think that the argument that pro forma sessions unconstitutionally interfere with the executive performing an executive function is a good one.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 3:05 PM on January 5, 2012


On NPR this morning, a disembodied voice was speculating that Obama's recess appointments would antagonize Congressional Republicans and provoke them to lock the wheels of government in retaliation.

The Republicans replaced the wheels of congress with square ones about a year ago now. I don't think they can be unlocked.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:11 PM on January 5, 2012


Coverage on this story from PBS News Hour, 1/4/12

tl;dr : the congress will probably not sue the White House, but wait for non-bank financial companies, like payday loan companies who will be conceivably hurt by the appointment, to bring suit against the government. These non-bank financial companies are currently not federally regulated, but will be under the jurisdiction of the Consumer Finance Protection Agency now that it has a director.
posted by crunchland at 3:14 PM on January 5, 2012


ITT:

People who normally complain about Obama being too timid, now complain about obama running roughshod over the constitution.

People who have been complaining about Obama running roughshod over the constitution now praising Obama for growing a spine.
Seriously? there are only two comments before yours, both of them jokes. Secondly it's entirely possible to both run roughshod over the constitution while at the same time being too timid against the republicans. The KSM trial is a perfict example. Obama denied someone a trial because republicans complained, thus being both timid and ignoring the constitution.

Who knows if this is 'constitutional' or not. Senate filibusters aren't 'constitutional' either but they do them anyway.

Anyway, this is an interesting choice by Obama. It's completly ridiculous that the republicans can effecitvely shut down parts of the government they don't like, simply by refusing to hold confirmations. The democrats should have taken the 'nuclear option' when they had the chance.
The US Chamber of Commerce is a dinosaur, and there are very strong indications that it may be corrupt..
The U.S Chamber of commerice is a (privately owned) lobbying shop. Calling them 'corrupt' would be like calling a porn star a slut. Corruption is their job.
but wait for non-bank financial companies, like payday loan companies who will be conceivably hurt by the appointment, to bring suit against the government. These non-bank financial companies are currently not federally regulated, but will be under the jurisdiction of the Consumer Finance Protection Agency now that it has a director.
Yeah, but sue them for what? Obama is implementing a law that congress passed, which the repubicans are trying to prevent the implementation of by abusing senate rules that aren't even in the constitution.

The irony is: Would congress have to vote to sue? If so, could that vote then be filibustered? If so, how hilarious is that?
posted by delmoi at 3:24 PM on January 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


This would be an interesting one to see hit the Supreme Court. If only because I think they have original jurisdiction in a matter like this(?)

It's an interesting case, because if this holds, it would mean that presidents could make appointments in the middle of the night if he so chose. On the other hand, holding pro forma sessions just to pretend they are in session is anathema to the spirit of the law.

I think we are seeing what the next amendment to the constitution will be about. Something like "The following shall be added to article 2 section 2: "In the case of such appointments, if, following a nomination by the President, 30 days shall pass before the Senate renders its Advice and Consent, the Appointment shall become valid."

With maybe an add-on of amending Art 1 Sec 5 to "Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other Place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting. A quorum of each house shall be required to meet these requirements."
posted by gjc at 3:28 PM on January 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


The irony is: Would congress have to vote to sue? If so, could that vote then be filibustered? If so, how hilarious is that?

Any individual senator may sue.

But it won't be Scott Brown! who says he supports the move! LOL
posted by Ironmouth at 3:30 PM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


These non-bank financial companies are currently not federally regulated, but will be under the jurisdiction of the Consumer Finance Protection Agency now that it has a director.

That is going to be one kick-ass lawsuit. "Despite the Congressional mandate to create a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, we object to its exercise of authority because the President defied the will of Congress in appointing its head." I don't see how Congressional intransigence creates a basis for anyone subject to the CFPB's regulation to claim harm. I mean, Congress could sue the President for trampling on its authority, but absent actual legislation to dissolve the CFPB, how could a private entity use Congressional procedural moves to block the operation of the CFPB as a basis to challenge its fundamental legitimacy?
posted by R. Schlock at 3:30 PM on January 5, 2012


In the long run, at the end of the day, in the kitchens of Middle America and the halls of every building that is not CNN or Fox News or the Washington Post headquarters, no one gives a shit that Obama made sort-of-recess appointments. Absolutely no one. People who are into politics have this incredibly distorted mindset that the majority of the universe cares about politics as much as they do. They don't. At all.

This is, of course, why right-wingers are apoplectic about it--because they know that no one cares about this. The end result of what happened is a lot of people who aren't billionaires will have a better chance of not being fucked. It's sort of hard to complain about that because of technicalities. Romney can whine about it for a talking point, but at the end of it, he's whining that Obama put someone in charge of departments that stop rich people from screwing poor people over. Good luck with that buddy.

What else exactly are Republicans going to argue? that Obama took away their right to vote on his nominees? Oh wait, that was Republicans who did that. And no one cared. Now they can't and no one still cares. Go do your jobs now, assholes.

At the end of the day, Republicans spent years using stupid loopholes to fuck up the country to get blame put on the Democratic president for it, and yesterday the Democratic president used stupid loopholes to stop them from doing it. He won at Fuck You yesterday, and since pissing people they don't like off is the most important thing in the universe to Republicans, closely followed by making rich people keep all their money, and this dealt a blow to both, they're furious.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 3:31 PM on January 5, 2012 [39 favorites]


A quorum of each house shall be required to meet these requirements."

This.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 3:32 PM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


POTUS
OBAMA
TENET
OPERA
ROTAS
posted by Anything at 3:33 PM on January 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


how could a private entity use Congressional procedural moves to block the operation of the CFPB as a basis to challenge its fundamental legitimacy? -- "My own guess is that probably it will be some regulated entity like a payday lender who will eventually go to court and say, Richard Cordray is not legitimately in office, and so I shouldn't be bound by his regulations." David Hawkings, Editor, CQ Roll Call's Daily Briefing, appearing on PBS News Hour, 1/4/12
posted by crunchland at 3:40 PM on January 5, 2012


Just to make a note of it: The US Chamber of Commerce is the biggest (I think - might just be one of the biggest) lobbying spender in Washington, and is an organization with a very heavy Republican bias. factcheck.org on the chamber of commerce.
posted by rmd1023 at 3:40 PM on January 5, 2012


These non-bank financial companies are currently not federally regulated, but will be under the jurisdiction of the Consumer Finance Protection Agency now that it has a director.

You know, I don't know. They already have jurisdiction over them, no? I bet the Jx hinge is on the issuance of a regulation.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:42 PM on January 5, 2012


Right. But Cordray isn't the CFPB and the regulations aren't based on his personal authority any more than, say, our foreign policy is based on Clinton's. She's an agent of the administration.
posted by R. Schlock at 3:43 PM on January 5, 2012


I just want to hear them actually say "But the Democrats did it first!", and have someone respond with "so for the record, you're saying that a thing is right if the Democrats did it? Good to know, can we rely on you to conform to that standard in future?"
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:45 PM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Secondly it's entirely possible to both run roughshod over the constitution while at the same time being too timid against the republicans.

Exactly. This seems to be analogous to calling people hypocrites because they want the police to stop shooting unarmed black men, but they also expect the police to investigate and pursue suspects in sexual assault cases.
posted by muddgirl at 3:49 PM on January 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


The way the law to create the Consumer Finance Protection Agency was written, as long as it didn't have a permanent director, it could only enforce existing regulations on the largest banks, but it had no control over non-bank financial companies -- that's payday lenders, student lenders, debt collectors. Until a permanent director was appointed, those businesses didn't have anything to worry about. Which was the whole reason why the Republicans weren't in any hurry to approve any of the President's appointments for a director. They were trying to hamstring the agency for as long as they could.
posted by crunchland at 3:50 PM on January 5, 2012


It's analogous to being a troll. I flagged it as a derail and moved on.
posted by Brak at 3:51 PM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't think it's at all obvious that members of Congress will have standing to sue the President for this. In Raines v. Byrd, the Supreme Court held that members of the House and Senate did not have standing to bring a constitutional challenge against the Line Item Veto Act because they did not allege that they had suffered any harm as individuals, and the institutional harm they alleged was shared by other members of Congress. Raines is not directly on point to the current situation, but I think it's more helpful to the no-standing argument than to the other side. The courts may also be tempted to avoid having to deal with a lawsuit brought by members of Congress by invoking the political question doctrine.

Others in this thread who say that this will ultimately be challenged by someone subject to a CFPB regulation are probably right. The argument will be something like: the CFPB's authority to make this regulation is predicated, by statute, on its having a director. Because Cordray was not validly appointed, the CFPB did not have a director when it purported to make this regulation, and the regulation is therefore invalid. It is a violation of my constitutional due process rights for the government to enforce an invalid regulation against me.

I don't think SCOTUS would have original jurisdiction in any lawsuit being discussed here since none involve foreign ambassadors or include a state as a party.
posted by burden at 4:08 PM on January 5, 2012


ITT:

People who normally complain about Obama being too timid, now complain about obama running roughshod over the constitution.

People who have been complaining about Obama running roughshod over the constitution now praising Obama for growing a spine.


For the record, this kind of thing sucks and we would like it not to happen. If you're to the point where you've already decided what's going to happen in a thread before it actually happens, that's more a sign that you should take a break from that kind of thread than anything.
posted by cortex at 4:10 PM on January 5, 2012 [10 favorites]


Here's a relevant AskMe relating to pocket veto - some interesting links there
posted by exogenous at 4:13 PM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


During the Bush II administration, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid began holding pro forma sessions every three days

This is unclear, and makes it sound like Reid started the practice. The wikipedia page for recess appointments, the NYT and Atlantic are also unclear. Can someone clarify if the practice of "pro forma" sessions to avoid recess appointments predates Reid's use of it during the last year of the Bush II presidency? I'm curious about McConnell's claim that it's a "long-standing" practice, but wonder how often it's been used in the past.
posted by mediareport at 4:14 PM on January 5, 2012


Metafilter: I flagged it as a derail and moved on.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 4:42 PM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am of the hurrah, Obama is doing something camp. Too bad he signed the NDAA, otherwise i might believe he cared.

If this consumer protection agency does anything useful, he may even win me back. They should come out of the gate running.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 4:47 PM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


We can thank the Occupy Movement for providing the petri dish in which Obama has started to grow a spine.

Over the course of his Administration, I've often thought of the story of how some activists (I don't recall off the top of my head what they were lobbying for or if the story is apocryphal) went to see FDR to state their case for reforms. After they were done, FDR apparently said to them, something to the effect of, "I agree with you completely, now go out there and make me do it."

The point is that we should realize that these are politicians, and especially with liberal reforms, a political environment has to be created to get polticians to enact certain results. Too often, I think, some people think all they have to do is vote, and good things will happen because of some Savior. Not so. The same mistake was made with Clinton.

All they are are politicians. Reformers on the ground must do the heavy lifting, and liberal politicians will follow.
posted by JKevinKing at 4:48 PM on January 5, 2012 [17 favorites]


> The point is that we should realize that these are politicians, and especially with liberal reforms, a political environment has to be created to get polticians to enact certain results.

This comes up each and every time we discuss this.

Let's not be abstract - let's be specific. Do you have any idea how aggressively progressive groups tried to push their agenda when Mr. Obama was elected? Do you have any idea how rudely they were rejected, time and again?

Can you please tell us what we were supposed to do to get the big guy's attention? The whole mechanism that was set up during the election and we were promised we'd get to keep was dismantled. The "ask the Whitehouse" site was a miserable failure.

Mr. Obama has never had time for the progressives. He only listened to the Wall Street people from the start... he's never evinced the slightest interest in "progressives" after 2008 and before this most recent election campaign.

You tell us what we should have done - what "heavy lifting" we should have performed that we didn't. Really, I'm interested to know why you believe that the progressive movement failed so completely to get any response from the Obama administration.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:19 PM on January 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


"You tell us what we should have done - what "heavy lifting" we should have performed that we didn't. Really, I'm interested to know why you believe that the progressive movement failed so completely to get any response from the Obama administration."

That's pretty easy to articulate, actually. You need mass, media-friendly action combined with local political victories and aggressive lobbying at the agency level.

Agency level advocacy has been pretty successful under Obama, though obviously not perfect. Local political pushes have been less so; Dems lost congress because they weren't able to match Tea Party enthusiasm (which was pretty flukey), but without legislative clout, Obama's hobbled (checks and balances, yo), and without a public movement that stays loud and draws attention, there's no countervailing force against the astroturfed narratives of Koch brothers et al.

So, what would have been more successful is something like the Occupy movement earlier on, as well as a realization from folks mobilized to vote for Obama that their votes are just as important — often moreso — in local races, where the day-to-day exercise of politics really impacts people's lives.

That, combined with a realistic set of expectations, would have ended up with more progressive victories, though frankly there are more than a few Obama critics who were never going to get their birthday wishes.
posted by klangklangston at 5:36 PM on January 5, 2012 [10 favorites]


There are times for a brief moment when I kind of wish there was a dictator around who could say, "Forget the law, you're going down."

Consumers really, really do need protection.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:40 PM on January 5, 2012


You tell us what we should have done - what "heavy lifting" we should have performed that we didn't.

Turn out for Martha Coakley in 2009, or convince moderates to do so. This alone would probably have delivered a noticeably more liberal health care law.

Turn out for Democrats in 2010, or convince moderates to do so.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:54 PM on January 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


Can you please tell us what we were supposed to do to get the big guy's attention?

Vote reliably and consistently and give him money. How else do you get a politician's money?

Alternatively, there's been a very successful grass roots movement lately that got a ton of attention from politicians from their party by showing up and voting in primary elections. They didn't even have to give that much money!

Unfortunately the left's memory is about 15 minutes long and the Occupy movement is already fading rapidly so I have sadly low hopes that they will follow this example.
posted by Aizkolari at 6:17 PM on January 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Any individual senator may sue.

I think this is almost certainly incorrect. They will not be able to show any personal and particular harm caused them by this action. The only people who will have standing to sue will be whoever is subject to regulatory action by the agency. I'm sure we will see such a suit, and I'm sure that Obama's action will be endorsed by the courts. The pro forma sessions are a transparent end-run around an explicit constitutionally mandated presidential power. No court in the country is going to enter into a political dispute between the executive and the legislature on those grounds.
posted by yoink at 6:34 PM on January 5, 2012


If this consumer protection agency does anything useful, he may even win me back. They should come out of the gate running.

Unless you live in a safely partisan state, this is cutting off your nose to spite your face. A protest vote for an invalid candidate or staying at home will only result in something worse.

You tell us what we should have done - what "heavy lifting" we should have performed that we didn't. Really, I'm interested to know why you believe that the progressive movement failed so completely to get any response from the Obama administration.

In addition to the previous mention of mobilizing the vote in 2009, 2010, and 2011 (to which I would have added making a push in Virginia's off-year elections), the ACA debate could have used more progressive lobbying of people like Nelson and Lieberman and Stupak (or Collins and Snowe) instead of wrongly accusing the president of killing the public option, which no doubt played into the Tea Party's hands. Same goes for not giving a pass to either Obama or otherwise acceptable folks like Schumer for going weak-kneed when it came to both Dodd-Frank (and other financial reform) and terror trials. Or for, despite the political climate, complaining about not defending DOMA to be the weakest effort possible when that's obviously not true. And giving the president props on stuff like the recent mercury rulings (which could be a huger win than originally thought for stemming environmental issues) would have been nice. Not bitching at the president (and again ignoring Nelson, Lieberman et al) about the size of the stimulus when they knew it was as good as they could get would have been nice, too. Or how about helping push back on RyanCare when it was announced and letting the GOP get away with the MediScare myth?

Just saying...
posted by zombieflanders at 6:40 PM on January 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Dems lost congress because they weren't able to match Tea Party enthusiasm

The really sad thing is that that's not even really true. Dems lost congress because of apathy on the left rather than enthusiasm on the right; turn out for the Republicans wasn't strikingly high, but turn out for the Dems was notably low. Imagine how strikingly different the political debate would have been since 2010 without a Republican majority in the House! No debt-ceiling nonsense, almost certain passage of an infrastructure bill, an end to the Bush tax cuts for the rich, no difficulties in extending unemployment benefits, probable repeal of DOMA etc. etc. etc. Of course, places like metafilter would still be full of people talking about their being "no difference between the Republicans and the Democrats" so that wouldn't have changed...
posted by yoink at 6:40 PM on January 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


It seems as if the consensus is that working with a political party to get their candidate elected is worth nothing - nothing at all. They don't have to give us anything back at all, we just have to keep supporting them regardless of whether they support us, and if anything goes wrong subsequently, why, it's our fault for not supporting them hard enough.

Oh, and the "wrongly accusing the president of killing the public option" link goes nowhere. I'd be interested to read it, considering that Mr. Obama was so against the public option that he had doctors and nurses arrested rather than even allow the public option to be discussed.

I have to say that the more I read these threads, the happier I am that I'm leaving the United States fairly soon, and can leave this country of corruption, violence and complacent failure behind forever.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 6:52 PM on January 5, 2012 [3 favorites]




It seems as if the consensus is that working with a political party to get their candidate elected is worth nothing - nothing at all. They don't have to give us anything back at all, we just have to keep supporting them regardless of whether they support us, and if anything goes wrong subsequently, why, it's our fault for not supporting them hard enough.

Did you work in support of all levels of your government? Did you involve yourself in the discussions? I've made the point elsewhere that you can't just assume the president will listen to you if there's 535 others that you won't even bother with. You get people at the top to listen to you by working from the bottom up, not starting at the top and giving up.

Oh, and the "wrongly accusing the president of killing the public option" link goes nowhere. I'd be interested to read it

Here's the corrected link.

considering that Mr. Obama was so against the public option that he had doctors and nurses arrested rather than even allow the public option to be discussed.

Unless I'm missing something, your grossly mischaracterizing or misrepresenting the content of your linked article. It's a discussion of how Max Baucus (one of the most conservative Democratic Senators) had the Capitol Police involved.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:03 PM on January 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


And by the way, when you ask for people to provide evidence, and they do so, changing your argument and saying "fine I don't need you anyway" doesn't help your position.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:04 PM on January 5, 2012


You tell us what we should have done - what "heavy lifting" we should have performed that we didn't.

Show up to vote in 2010. Not helping anyone when you don't do that.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:15 PM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


While progressives have been crybabying about marijuana legalization and gay marriage amendments, the conservatives learned long ago that the key to success is winning the hearts and minds of the next generation by trying to win all the school board elections. As a result, right wing loonies in Texas get to dictate what history books teach kids all across the nation.
posted by crunchland at 7:19 PM on January 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


...I concluded that NPR now grows its commentators in vats and replaces them the instant they begin to develop a sense of irony.

This just in: Scott Simon Career Not In Jeopardy !

Mara Liasson's -- Double Ditto !
posted by y2karl at 7:24 PM on January 5, 2012


The overlooked story: These appointments were necessary in order for the National Labor Relations Board to even continue functioning. If the appointments had not been made, the NLRB would not have had a quorum on January 1st. This means that unions and union organizers would lose many legal avenues to defend themselves.

If the goal of Senate Republicans was to shut down the NLRB by preventing quorum, a recess appointment was probably the only way of making this happen.

It's part of a pattern of habitual obstructionism. Last month, Republicans blocked the permanent appointment of an ambassador to El Salvador. Why? Because a Cuban defector once said she dated a Cuban spy.

But the ambassador to El Salvador had already been appointed to a year-long term during the last congressional recess, and thus presumably was subject to a background check because of the recess appointment.

Moreover, this isn't the first time she would have been cleared: The FBI also cleared her after a Clinton-era appointment in 1999. The "spy" she was accused of dating was an intelligence source for the FBI.

I don't really have a way to bring the El Salvador thing back around to the NLRB or CFPB appointments. I guess I just feel like this perpetual obstructionism is getting a little silly.
posted by compartment at 7:26 PM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]




Any individual senator may sue.

I think this is almost certainly incorrect. They will not be able to show any personal and particular harm caused them by this action. The only people who will have standing to sue will be whoever is subject to regulatory action by the agency.


I was about to retract that point, but I wanted to double check it. Turns out I'm right for reasons I never considered. In Raines v. ByrdColeman v. Miller, 307 U.S. 433 (1939) (State senators sued to reverse vote on constitutional amendment when Lt. Gov voted to break tie in vote on amendment)
http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/96-1671.ZO.html

Here, the GOP could argue that they could filibuster or vote down the appointment. I think they'd have to have enough plaintiffs as a group to demonstrate that they have enough votes to do the action they want--stopping the appointment.

My basis was my involvement in suits by Advisory Neighborhood Commission members here in DC. The ANCs are denied standing statutorily, but individual members have been allowed as parties when enforcing their rights as members.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:48 PM on January 5, 2012


Stay classy, John Yoo.

Apparently he's found that his expansive view of the powers of the Presidency applies only to the GOP. Pathetic.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:50 PM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]




Ok, that post was a mess-gotta preview--here's the quote from Raines:

"[W]e find no departure from principle in recognizing in the instant case that at least the twenty senators whose votes, if their contention were sustained, would have been sufficient to defeat the resolution ratifying the proposed constitutional amendment, have an interest in the controversy which, treated by the state court as a basis for entertaining and deciding the federal questions, is sufficient to give the Court jurisdiction to review that decision." Id., at 446 (emphasis added).

It is obvious, then, that our holding in Coleman stands (at most, see n. 8, infra) for the proposition that legislators whose votes would have been sufficient to defeat (or enact) a specific legislative act have standing to sue if that legislative action goes into effect (or does not go into effect), on the ground that their votes have been completely nullified. [n.6]
posted by Ironmouth at 7:55 PM on January 5, 2012


Well compartment, you hint at why Obama's strategy is, in the circumstances, pretty elegant. These aren't normal recess appointments. These are specifically intended to allow for 2 agencies to discharge their duties as passed in law. If they weren't made, those 2 agencies would be either inoperable or largely neutered. So it's not a case of "get our man in the job" but "keep these govt agencies running", a distinction I bet the Obama team are banking will play nicely alongside criticism of republicans wanting to declaw financial reform in the run-up to the election.
posted by peacay at 7:57 PM on January 5, 2012


Perhaps the most dramatic disintegration of Democratic support was among independents, who gave Democrats a resounding 18-point victory in 2006, but four years later backed GOPers by a similar 19-point margin.

Ah, the myth of the "independent" voter:
[T]here are, in fact, swing voters, but that they are far fewer than they're made out to be. The defining work on this subject is Bruce Keith et. al.'s "The Myth of the Independent Voter," published in 1992, which broke down independent voters into three categories: independents who lean Democratic, independents who lean Republican, and pure independents. The "leaners" voted for Republican and Democratic candidates with about the same frequency that self-identified Republicans and Democrats did. Only pure independents were unpredictable, and amounted to just under 10 percent of the electorate. These were the true swing voters, but there were not that many of them.

The book's findings have held up since its publication. In the 2008 election, "pure independents" made up only 7 percent of the electorate, and leaners still voted overwhelmingly for the candidates of the party they identified as leaning toward. This behavior holds up even between elections, in things like presidential approval polls. George Washington University's John Sides analyzed ABC/Washington Post presidential approval polls from 2009 and broke them down based on whether respondents were pure independents, leaners or partisans
posted by zombieflanders at 7:59 PM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Indeed, only one segment of the Democratic coalition appears meaningfully underrepresented in 2010 compared to 2006 — union households.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:02 PM on January 5, 2012


Show up to vote in 2010. Not helping anyone when you don't do that.

Perhaps the most dramatic disintegration of Democratic support was among independents, who gave Democrats a resounding 18-point victory in 2006, but four years later backed GOPers by a similar 19-point margin.


Hmmmm. . . .
"Data for liberals

2006 - 85.7 million voters x 20% liberal = 17.1 million liberals voted
2008 - 132.6 million voters x 22% liberal = 29.1 million liberals voted
2010 - 90.7 million voters x 20% liberal = 18.1 million liberals voted
Net change from 2006 to 2010: +1 million liberals
Net change from 2008 to 2010: -11 million liberals

Net change for turnout of liberal voters from 2008 to 2010: -37.8% of the 2008 total  (-11 million / 29.1 million)"

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/03/10/954909/-Turnout:-a-little-data
posted by Ironmouth at 8:03 PM on January 5, 2012


Oops you compared a presidential election to a midterm.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:05 PM on January 5, 2012


Oops you compared a presidential election to a midterm.

I'm pretty sure that's what we're discussing.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:07 PM on January 5, 2012


It's getting really difficult to discuss anything around here at all lately.

Defining the appropriate point of comparison is critical. Some mislead by juxtaposing 2010 with 2008. Midterm turnouts are always different in kind from presidential-year turnouts, and while one could pray 2010 would somehow be different, expecting the 2008 electorate to be replicated in 2010 was silly.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:09 PM on January 5, 2012


Hey Lupus,

I understand and respct your frustration, and I have an idea about what your talking about with regard to the White House's deaings with liberals. And I've shared some of your frusration with his Presidency, albeit probably not as intensly as you seem to.

I don't pretend to have all the answers, but I suppose amongst the concrete things I was thinking of was what the Occupy Movement has been doing, what the various civil rights movements have done and are doing, what the unions used to do: organize with like-minded people and engage in whatever actions one is willing and able to do and are necessary to change the hearts and minds of the "People" to affect just change, up to and including non-violent civil disobedience.

Personally, I try to do my part although due to certain responsibilities I can't go "all-in" like, say, my sister has. She has been arrested at Occupy protests. I can't do that, but I gave her and some friend my camping gear and bought her a couple tents. I try to talk with conservatives and implant seeds of doubt in their worldview. I give money to planned parenthood, Lamba Legal, to the extent that I can. My clients at work are large, institutional banks, and I try to the extent that I can consistent with my professional obligations to steer them in the right direction. We all do what we can with what we're given.

But let's not fool ourselves, agitating for justice is a long, hard slog. As just one example of very, very many, how long has it taken for homosexuals to get even close to equal treatment, and there's much more to do. Forcing society along the path of social justice requires hard, long work and constant maintenance.

I think that for a long time liberals and the Left generally got lazy -- on economic issues and war issues especially -- during the late '70's through Clinton's presidency. I remember growing up during this time how the Right would argue and beat everyone over the head with their BS and prominant liberals would not deign to answer them and justify their liberalism, especially so with regard to the unions. Basically, to use a sports analogy, we thought all we had to do was show up and our rigjteousness would carry the day. This was foolhearty, and the Left atrophied. (Obviously, this is highly simplified, but I don't have time to go into the details -- besides, I think the general point stands.). It has started to come back starting with the Iraq protests and the Occupy Movement, but it will take a long time to rebuild the lost political capital. Remember, the reforms of the New Deal were laid upon the foundations of a generation of agitation. Civil rights for race, gender, sexuality and rest have taken even longer.

Next time, we need to remember to continuously invest in the political infrastructure that holds politicians, especially liberals ones, accountable to our ideals.

In any case, with regard to Obama, and Clinton, I believe such polticians are capable of great good, but only when pushed with enough polltical force. I prefer them not because I think they can deliver yhe goods on their own but because I believe they are receptive to being pushed, unlike the despicable Right wing radicals who dominate the GOP and some of whom inhabit the Democratic label. I feel I just need to work to help create the right circumstances such that they'll act.

Perhaps you disagree that Obama is receptive to being pushed, and based on his history you have a good argument. I don't think it has been as black and white as all that, and I think hat some recent events, such as the subject of this post, give us some reason to hope.

But if we're to bring our society back from the morass of this Corporate Plutocracy, we have a lot of work to do!
posted by JKevinKing at 8:10 PM on January 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


Also, I would urge everyone to sign Bernie Sanders' petition for a Constitutional Amendment reversing Citizen's United, affirming that corporations are institutions subject to regulation by the government, and affirming that governments have the right to regulate the financing of elections:

A Petition to Support the Saving American Democracy Amendment

This would go a long way towards making our political system more healthy.

And I apologize for the spelling errors in my last post and that it seemed a bit rushed. I tapped it out of my blackberry!
posted by JKevinKing at 8:26 PM on January 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's getting really difficult to discuss anything around here at all lately.

Defining the appropriate point of comparison is critical. Some mislead by juxtaposing 2010 with 2008. Midterm turnouts are always different in kind from presidential-year turnouts, and while one could pray 2010 would somehow be different, expecting the 2008 electorate to be replicated in 2010 was silly.


Not when the GOP turns out in presidential numbers.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:29 PM on January 5, 2012


Ugh ... tapped it out on my Blackberry!!! "I have an idea about what your talking about" how embarrassing! I need to go to bed.
posted by JKevinKing at 8:32 PM on January 5, 2012


"The really sad thing is that that's not even really true. Dems lost congress because of apathy on the left rather than enthusiasm on the right; turn out for the Republicans wasn't strikingly high, but turn out for the Dems was notably low."

That's not actually true — Maybe ROU Xenophobe can give us better numbers, but Dem voter turnout was only slightly lower in 2010 than in 2006; GOP turnout was way up.

And not only was that GOP turnout up, it was notably much more conservative than in 2008 or 2006 (though ironically less conservative than the actual GOP candidates).

The best progressive analysis does point out drops in minority and youth turnout, but, for example, the youth drop was from 13 percent to 12 percent of the electorate. Much more important were the economy and structural issues (a significant plurality of Dem seats were in lean GOP districts).
posted by klangklangston at 8:33 PM on January 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Not when the GOP turns out in presidential numbers.

That's nice but they didn't in 2010, they dropped as well. And moderates cratered by more than either group. I know hippy punching is your bread and butter but the data doesn't support it here.

When you swing from +18 to -19 among independents over four years you are going to lose.

Let me post a revealing stat for you:

41% of Americans self-ID as Conservative, 36% ID as Moderate, 22% ID as liberal.

Without moderates and independents the hippies will never make up the difference.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:39 PM on January 5, 2012


The problem is that Congress votes on phone calls and letters, not protests. The fucking Right has 'em in church basements writing letter after letter, and they hire firms to call them to encourage them to call people.

Our people don't wanna go unless there's some emotional payoff. They don't do grunt work in terms of affecting legislation. When they do it, it works like a charm. Take the ACA. Right before final passage, there was a huge push. And it passed.

More importantly, it seems like some of our people couldn't be bothered with the nuts and bolts--how you build legislative coalitions--what trade-offs you can get. Take DADT. It was traded for the 2-year extension on the tax cuts, along with payroll tax cut and another extension of unemployment benefits. That's how things get done.

We live in a democracy. And our side, being interested in positive enaction of legislation, rather than just holding back the floodgates, has to do more trading.

Look at Bush's 2 signature domestic bills, NCLB and the Senior Drug benefit. NCLB was a huge battle in the GOP and the drug benefit required Tom Delay to hold a vote open for 15 minutes past when the rules said it was over and a guy got bribed.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:40 PM on January 5, 2012


Let me post a revealing stat for you:

41% of Americans self-ID as Conservative, 36% ID as Moderate, 22% ID as liberal.

Without moderates and independents the hippies will never make up the difference.


Are you saying that in order to win, the President must compromise? That he can't just attempt to ram a super-liberal agenda through without also meeting people halfway?

I know hippy punching is your bread and butter but the data doesn't support it here.

Let's keep to the facts and not try to stifle a good debate.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:45 PM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Are you saying that in order to win, the President must compromise? That he can't just attempt to ram a super-liberal agenda through without also meeting people halfway?

Is that what he was doing? If so, the moderates it was designed to appeal to abandoned him by the tens of millions (by your standard that ignores the apples to oranges nature of the comparison) from 2008 to 2010.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:49 PM on January 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ironmouth,

The problem is that Congress votes on phone calls and letters, not protests. The fucking Right has 'em in church basements writing letter after letter, and they hire firms to call them to encourage them to call people.

This is quite true (except that a lot of them also vote on money and based on the conventional wisdom of Washington). This what the liberals lost when the unions were defanged and the Democrats at least partially turned their back on them in order to fund their campaigns. From the New Deal until the '80's the Democrats had a massive organizational advantage over the Republicans. Once that changed, the Republicans gained control of Washington.

We have to remember that, as Otto von Bismark said, politics is the art of the possible and there are two things you don't want to see being made, politics and laws. Politics will be dirty, and compromises will be necessary from the politicians.

It is the job of the Left not to gain power, but to make it possible for liberal politicians to affect positive change.
posted by JKevinKing at 8:59 PM on January 5, 2012


Stay classy, John Yoo.

Apparently he's found that his expansive view of the powers of the Presidency applies only to the GOP.


More precisely he's found that his expansive view of the powers of the Presidency extends only as far as the crushing of testicles of children but not so far as the cavalier appointment of middling bureaucrats.
posted by JackFlash at 9:02 PM on January 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Turns out I'm right for reasons I never considered.

Love it when that happens! But I'm not sure that Coleman convincingly establishes that a GOP senator (or group of same) would have standing. As the Raines court noted in footnote 8, Coleman may not be applicable at all in a suit brought by federal legislators, because such a suit would raise separation of powers issues not present in Coleman.

In addition, I don't think the GOP senators would be able to convincingly argue that the President's action has the effect of nullifying their votes in the future, since Cordray's tenure is not permanent in the way that a constitutional amendment is. Future Congresses will be able to repeal any regulation that the agency institutes under Cordray, so I don't see the binding effect that was present in Coleman.

It seems to me that this is really a case about the "abstract dilution of institutional legislative power," which the Raines court found was insufficient to confer standing. Specifically: the power of the Senate to prevent recess appointments by holding pro forma sessions. I can't see how that's a right that any one senator, or even group of senators, can use to demonstrate that they have an interest sufficient to confer standing here.

And actually, now that I think about it, the Majority Leader controls the scheduling of Senate sessions. The only reason they're having pro forma sessions at all in this case is that the majority leader made some kind of deal with the minority. I don't think the Court is eager to hold that informal deals like that confer an interest sufficient to support standing.
posted by burden at 10:30 PM on January 5, 2012


Turn out for Martha Coakley in 2009, or convince moderates to do so. This alone would probably have delivered a noticeably more liberal health care law.

Turn out for Democrats in 2010, or convince moderates to do so.
Martha Coakley was an absolutly wretched candidate, and now it's likely the seat will go to Elizabeth Warren. Which is by far a superior outcome. Let's not forget this woman was the AG of Massachusetts while they were prosecuting people for filming the police. She was also involved with keeping innocent people in jail
When Martha Coakley became district attorney of Middlesex County in 1999, the Amiraults were still in the news. But by this time hardly anyone believed they were guilty of the horrendous crimes they were alleged to have committed. In fact there was no evidence that anyone had abused any children in the Fells Acres Day Care.
But what did Martha Coakley do when the Parole Board voted unanimously (5-0) to pardon Gerald Amirault? She did everything in her power to see that he stayed in prison, including sending an assistant DA to oppose his release at the hearing. Coakley also went on talk shows to spout her views about his guilt.
Had I been in MA, there is no way I would have voted for her. I would probably have voted for Scott Brown on the general principle that keeping innocent people in jail isn't something that should be rewarded with a senate seat.

This is the problem with the whole "Support the democrats 100% no matter what they do or who they nominate" attitude. It's asking people to support candidates they disagree with just because they have a D by their names, and regardless of what policies they support. Scott Brown will get two years in the senate, and now he'll be replaced by a progressive hero, 100 times better then Coakely. Her not getting elected is by far a better outcome in the end.

If the democrats expect liberal support, they are going to have to enact liberal policies and nominate liberal politicians.
Show up to vote in 2010. Not helping anyone when you don't do that.
FFS: Who in this thread do you think didn't vote in 2010?

The other thing that's odd about centrists/Dem fanboys: What exactly do you think your accomplishing by arguing with people that they're not supporting people they hate hard enough? Do you seriously think you are going to change people's minds about things that way?

The argument seems to be: You're not actively working to help get the people I want to see elected elected, and therefore I'm angry about it and arguing with you. If you worked harder to help get the people I want to see elected elected, I would be happier!

But there's no explanation of why we should care. What value is there in voting for and supporting people who we don't agree with?
Let me post a revealing stat for you:

41% of Americans self-ID as Conservative, 36% ID as Moderate, 22% ID as liberal.

Without moderates and independents the hippies will never make up the difference.
Hahaha.
posted by delmoi at 8:36 AM on January 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


In addition, I don't think the GOP senators would be able to convincingly argue that the President's action has the effect of nullifying their votes in the future, since Cordray's tenure is not permanent in the way that a constitutional amendment is. Future Congresses will be able to repeal any regulation that the agency institutes under Cordray, so I don't see the binding effect that was present in Coleman.

All your points are excellent. I know if I were them and I wanted a fight on this, I'd file with enough senators that if they all were to vote a certain way, they could defeat his nomination, either directly or through senate rules as currently written. The court could go either way on this.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:51 AM on January 6, 2012


The argument seems to be: You're not actively working to help get the people I want to see elected elected, and therefore I'm angry about it and arguing with you. If you worked harder to help get the people I want to see elected elected, I would be happier!

The argument is that if you truly believe in the things you say you do, you would not vote in ways that defeat your beliefs.

We're saying you're shooting yourself in the foot. Its not like Mitt or Ron Paul is gonna deliver the tax increases you and I both want and that any vote for anyone other than the President and the Democrats is likely to defeat your policy agenda.

In other words, you guys wish that the party that is most likely to bring your agenda forward was more liberal and more strident and attacking than it is. That's fine. But voting against that party when there is no alternative that will be elected is just plain stupid.

And it counts, see Bush v. Gore.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:55 AM on January 6, 2012


...in which liberals practically all voted for Gore and moderates gave the election to Bush.

If you actually cared as much about winning votes to prevent Romney being elected as you claim you would spend your time trying to convince moderate Democrats to vote with you, not take every opportunity to pin the losses on the hippies.

In 2010, there were -23.8 million moderates in the electorate, moderates who gave the election to Obama in 2008. Go punch them.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:01 AM on January 6, 2012


[Few comments removed. As we've said many times in the past, keep personal attacks out of these threads. If you can not do this, we will keep you out of these threads. Thanks, please help MeFi stay less awful than it could be. Everyone else, maybe not turn these threads into the same five people arguing with each other? MeTa is available as a remedy.]
posted by jessamyn at 12:25 PM on January 6, 2012




Martha Coakley was an absolutly wretched candidate, and now it's likely the seat will go to Elizabeth Warren. Which is by far a superior outcome.

True, but if Coakley had won, wouldn't Elizabeth Warren have been appointed director of the CFPB over a year ago?
posted by TwoWordReview at 3:04 PM on January 6, 2012


She could have been anyway, since the Pro forma sessions don't actually mean anything.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:24 PM on January 6, 2012






True, but if Coakley had won, wouldn't Elizabeth Warren have been appointed director of the CFPB over a year ago?
No, she might have gotten this recess last week instead of Richard Cordray -- Cordray replaced Warren as soon as she Obama withdrew her nomination so she could run for senate.

And anyway, having her as a senator, not beholden to anyone is better then having her as head of the CFPB, IMO.
posted by delmoi at 9:31 AM on January 7, 2012


"If you actually cared as much about winning votes to prevent Romney being elected as you claim you would spend your time trying to convince moderate Democrats to vote with you, not take every opportunity to pin the losses on the hippies."

The fuck are you even on about? The only place where Ironmouth has pinned any blame at all was on people who didn't vote in 2010 or wouldn't vote in 2012. That's not at all in conflict with working to convince moderate Democrats — something you don't ever seem to have any interest in, only bitching about how everyone's punching some straw man hippy.
posted by klangklangston at 9:36 PM on January 7, 2012


The fuck are you even on about? The only place where Ironmouth has pinned any blame at all was on people who didn't vote in 2010 or wouldn't vote in 2012. That's not at all in conflict with working to convince moderate Democrats — something you don't ever seem to have any interest in, only bitching about how everyone's punching some straw man hippy.

You tell us what we should have done - what "heavy lifting" we should have performed that we didn't.

The we in the post was referring to progressive groups, what must they do?

Show up to vote in 2010. Not helping anyone when you don't do that.

After which we discussed the relevance of this suggestion considering progressives did in fact already show up in 2010, and more specifically I think we know politically engaged Mefites aren't in need of being told they have to vote.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:02 PM on January 7, 2012


"The we in the post was referring to progressive groups, what must they do?

Show up to vote in 2010. Not helping anyone when you don't do that.

After which we discussed the relevance of this suggestion considering progressives did in fact already show up in 2010, and more specifically I think we know politically engaged Mefites aren't in need of being told they have to vote.
"

Really? Pretty regularly the cry comes up that because Obama has violated some shibboleth or another, MeFite X isn't going to vote for him. This criticism, especially on MetaFilter, comes from people who consider themselves to the left of Obama, and Ironmouth's repeated point is that this is unlikely to lead to more progressive positions from Obama.

And you know what? I know you get that point, but because you've decided that Ironmouth is your bet noire, you have to come out swinging again at him, and decided to ignore a larger conversational context that includes Delmoi bitching about "Dem fanboys" and complaining somehow that centrists are the problem — when, if you're being consistent, centrists are the solution to getting moderates to vote.

One more thing to add: The comparison to 2008 is apt in that if progressives as a whole want more progressive policies, they have to vote more in midterms, period. There's always a more conservative demographic in midterms in part because young voters and liberals fail to turn out to vote relative to presidential years. So yeah, "show up to vote" is important. Pretending that just because MeFites are engaged that it isn't something that's broadly needed is silly, because MeFites have about as much control over election turnout as they do any number of other tactics — which is to say, not very much at all.

I mean, what's your position here? That progressives should win by working to persuade moderates? How? By taking more moderate positions? By being less openly progressive?

Dems lost in 2010 because of the economy, because voters hated incumbents, and because the Tea Party jolted conservative enthusiasm. Progressives had little to do with that directly versus 2006, but they didn't vote in enough numbers to give liberals in the executive or legislative branches enough support to stave off losses from independents (which are most highly correlated with economic indicators, to the extent that independents are independent at all). But the very fact that they didn't play a huge roll in the defeats means that there's little incentive to listen to them, and more incentive to play the triangulation game that has lefties here apoplectic on a regular basis. If you want that to change, you need to have more liberals just as much as you need to shift the mainstream discussion leftward; the two are impossible without each other.

But this is all pretty goddamn far afield from the subject of the post, isn't it?
posted by klangklangston at 11:21 PM on January 7, 2012


The fuck are you even on about? The only place where Ironmouth has pinned any blame at all was on people who didn't vote in 2010 or wouldn't vote in 2012.
First of all, that's not true. He reached all the way back 12 years to bitch about Nader voters:
In other words, you guys wish that the party that is most likely to bring your agenda forward was more liberal and more strident and attacking than it is. That's fine. But voting against that party when there is no alternative that will be elected is just plain stupid.

And it counts, see Bush v. Gore.
And second of all who, exactly, in this thread is voting against democrats? He certainly seems to have accused people of doing it here
Show up to vote in 2010. Not helping anyone when you don't do that.
Which poster in this thread didn't vote in 2010?

Maybe he meant liberals should have campaigned harder and worked to get out the vote, but if so it's kind of an obnoxious attitude: The solution to democrats not respecting their base is for the base to work even harder for the democrats who obviously don't give shit about them.

The whole attitude is treating anyone left-leaning as property of the democratic party, and somehow betraying... something if they don't act like it.

If he's saying they literally didn't vote, that's nonsense. The people who don't always vote are people who are much less politically tuned in. They're not reading threads about recess appointments on metafilter. They might vote if they're particularly inspired, but mostly they don't pay attention to politics and don't vote unless a campaign really gets to them.
posted by delmoi at 11:24 PM on January 7, 2012


Really? Pretty regularly the cry comes up that because Obama has violated some shibboleth or another, MeFite X isn't going to vote for him. This criticism, especially on MetaFilter, comes from people who consider themselves to the left of Obama, and Ironmouth's repeated point is that this is unlikely to lead to more progressive positions from Obama.
Yeah it's true that you see people say "if Obama does X I won't vote for him," Lately it's signing NDAA. But what does that have to do with the 2010 congressional elections?
when, if you're being consistent, centrists are the solution to getting moderates to vote.
I don't think that's actually true. The assumption is that there is only one 'dimension' that people evaluate politicians on, how 'left' or 'right' they are and that voters will vote for whoever is closest to them on that axis. I don't think there's any reason to think that's true.

The other problem is that "moderate" or "bipartisan" legislation is mostly just pro-corporate bullshit. If you look at the healthcare debate, the "moderate" position was to be against the public Option, but polling wise the public option was more popular then the rest of the bill. It had nothing to do with being 'liberal' or 'conservative', it was about whether or not the money that people paid would be funneled through private insurance companies who would be allowed to skim up to 15% for 'administrative' expenses (like CEO salaries and profits for shareholders).

Another example is SOPA, which has 'bipartisan' support, but do you think people who ID as 'moderates' out there support it? Seems pretty unlikely. The Patriot act had massive bi-partisan support (99 out of 100 senators voted for it). So did the vote for the Iraq war. That's one of the reasons people don't like so called 'moderate' politicians. Their "moderation" has nothing to do with appealing to the median voter, but instead seems concerned mostly about the average corporate lobbyist or PAC dollar.
Pretending that just because MeFites are engaged that it isn't something that's broadly needed is silly, because MeFites have about as much control over election turnout as they do any number of other tactics — which is to say, not very much at all.
No matter who you're talking too, condescending insults are not going to inspire people to rally to your cause.
Dems lost in 2010 because of the economy, because voters hated incumbents, and because the Tea Party jolted conservative enthusiasm.
Maybe if the democrats hadn't done such a shitty job with the economy when they were in charge, there wouldn't have been such a strong anti-incumbent attitude? Of course, the republicans didn't do any better when they won the house, so they'll probably get wiped out again in 2012.

What we're really seeing is the fact that many people in the U.S, in particular a lot of the swing voters or people who don't always show up to the polls basically feel like they have no one to vote for at all. They can choose between republicans or democrats, but either way they're screwed. That's probably one of the reasons people don't always vote. They don't feel like they really have anyone to vote fore.
posted by delmoi at 11:41 PM on January 7, 2012


Delmoi pretty much gets to the heart of the matter. There is confusion about centrist legislation and policies designed to attract moderate voters. These aren't the same thing. That is one of the central points that gets kind of shuffled away sometimes.

Public Option is the obvious example. Dead meat in congress (disputed, but we don't need to rehash that too), but had broad popular support. The goal of gaining votes and passing legislation is often in direct conflict.

Since you have decided to charge in here f-bombs a' blazing to fill in for Ironmouth and hash out ongoing debates from other threads, I'll point out that when I talk about these issues in terms of appealing to voters or persuading voters, it is often that Ironmouth will define suggesting a politician takes such actions as:

The complaints really come down to style and emotion. You did not emotionally fight for what I wanted enough, even if you could not do it.

...but that isn't the point at all. The liberals will always be there. From 2006 to 2010 they increased their midterm presence while the moderates dropped out.

Why did the moderates drop out?

Dems lost in 2010 because of the economy, because voters hated incumbents, and because the Tea Party jolted conservative enthusiasm.


For those reasons. It wasn't because of Nader, it wasn't because of the youth vote, it wasn't because progressives were not emotionally fuffilled. Nobody gave the moderates enough reason to show up. Who jolted them?

they didn't vote in enough numbers to give liberals in the executive or legislative branches enough support to stave off losses from independents (which are most highly correlated with economic indicators, to the extent that independents are independent at all).

And since we are rehasing the thread again, we can take a look back:

41% of Americans self-ID as Conservative, 36% ID as Moderate, 22% ID as liberal.

It's not that they didn't show up, more of them showed up than in a recent wave midterm for their party. It's that literally all of them could show up and you are nowhere without winning the moderates and getting them motivated. Considering how much lifting that 22% is already doing, without very much media or corporate support, you might as well be asking Atlas how much more he could carry.

the triangulation game that has lefties here apoplectic on a regular basis.

So you see, what we need to triangulate on is economic success, if that is the key indicator for moderates as you believe. Now, we believe in liberal economic policy, correct?

So, when we tell you to implement that or any other liberal policy it isn't out of ideology, it's because they work and when stuff works people vote for you. If you can't pass the stuff that works, you should at least make damn sure people know where you stand on it.

So how would I answer the question, "what "heavy lifting" we should have performed that we didn't?" the answer is that there is none. They did it all. Do it again next time and hope the country is better persuaded to go along with you. A progressive will have very little luck persuading a moderate on ideological grounds, they either don't have one or are unpersuadable cranks such as myself.

Think about why Obama won in 2008, what it was that made him so appealing to moderates and made them come out to vote for him. Now, it was a well planned campaign that certainly bent on a lot of positions like gay marriage, but I guarantee you that if you poll 1,000 of them they won't answer, "Because he plans to properly triangulate his legislative agenda."

You can see the voters swinging wildly back and forth between the parties in congress because they don't like the results. Right now, those results have Obama's signature on them. He is going to coast back into office thanks to an extremely weak opposing field but probably lose even more ground in Congress. The results he signs his name on are going to get worse and worse. The moderates will drive all of this, and inside a lot of heads far away from Metafilter folks will be asking themselves, "What heavy lifting do WE need to do that we didn't?"

Anyone who wants their votes should be worried that they will simply bounce back and forth if you don't answer for them. It's much harder to answer, blaming Nader and punching hippies is so much easier.

I suspect my answer is different from yours, but I can assure you that moderates are the real question here and the answer has nothing to do with liberals not increasing their enthusiasm at a great enough pace.

Triangulate away inside Congress, but outside but if you want to win moderates, you have to have positive results from your policies and instead of pointing out what can't be done you should sound like this guy:

"If we do not change our politics -- if we do not fundamentally change the way Washington works -- then the problems we've been talking about for the last generation will be the same ones that haunt us for generations to come."

"But let me be clear -- this isn't just about ending the failed policies of the Bush years; it's about ending the failed system in Washington that produces those policies. For far too long, through both Democratic and Republican administrations, Washington has allowed Wall Street to use lobbyists and campaign contributions to rig the system and get its way, no matter what it costs ordinary Americans."

"We are up against the belief that it's all right for lobbyists to dominate our government--that they are just part of the system in Washington. But we know that the undue influence of lobbyists is part of the problem, and this election is our chance to say that we're not going to let them stand in our way anymore. Unless we're willing to challenge the broken system in Washington, and stop letting lobbyists use their clout to get their way, nothing else is going to change."

"If we're not willing to take up that fight, then real change--change that will make a lasting difference in the lives of ordinary Americans--will keep getting blocked by the defenders of the status quo."

posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:19 AM on January 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


The argument seems to be: You're not actively working to help get the people I want to see elected elected, and therefore I'm angry about it and arguing with you. If you worked harder to help get the people I want to see elected elected, I would be happier!

I've spent several days now dealing with how concisely brilliant this is. Or maybe brilliantly concise. Whatever.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:57 AM on January 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Roll Call: The fight over an extension of the payroll tax cut was the last major legislative battle of 2011 — and now it’s a fight Republicans in particular are loath to repeat in the opening weeks of 2012. [...]
And the political opportunity afforded to Democrats is not one they’ve been shy in trying to exploit.

“I don’t know what the Republicans are afraid of. Where are they? They’re telling us that they were in late in December so they can’t be here in January? What is this, one month on, one month off?” Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Friday after House Democrats were blocked from opening the floor to discussion of the payroll tax cut.

We were told with great vehemence [Thursday] that the Congress was in session,” the California Democrat continued, alluding to attacks launched against President Barack Obama’s controversial recess appointments. “That’s why we went to the floor ... to call upon the conferees to get to work.”

posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:56 PM on January 9, 2012




Republicans have plans to condemn the not-recess appointments just as soon as they return from recess.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:54 PM on January 11, 2012


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