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April 28, 2009 9:36 AM   Subscribe

The last time any party had a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate was 1977-1979. With Arlen Specter's announcement that he is switching parties and Al Franken's recent court victory all but guaranteeing his victory in Minnesota, the Democrats will have a filibuster-proof 60 seats in the Senate. Eight years ago, Jim Jeffords switched parties to change control of the Senate from a 50-50 tie (resolved by VP Cheney in favor of the GOP) to Democratic control.

While this might be a cause of celebration for Democrats, this recent history of switching should point out the fragility of the coalition. The one Senator to switch away from the Democrats, Joe "Joementum" Lieberman still caucuses with the party. Suddenly every Democratic Senator has the ability to hold out with the credible threat that they will leave and destroy the super majority.
posted by allen.spaulding (227 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
And now the GOP will be sending every lawyer, attack dog, and gutter snipe available to MN to block Franken for as long as possible. This is going to get beyond ugly.
posted by Ber at 9:38 AM on April 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


Just for the record, I posted some of this in another (since deleted) thread and was given the go ahead from on high to repost it here. And if you don't like that, I'm going to move my usenrame over to boingboing and destroy any chance you have at nominating Jessamyn for the Supreme Library.
posted by allen.spaulding at 9:39 AM on April 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


Former ill treatment of A. Specter is haunting the Republican Party.
posted by Kattullus at 9:39 AM on April 28, 2009 [10 favorites]


Filibust-proof just means that now the Democrats can battle it out among themselves, because now each Senator has all the power. Not really an improvement.
posted by smackfu at 9:39 AM on April 28, 2009


Damn Specter switched! Amazing.
posted by Mister_A at 9:39 AM on April 28, 2009


Hell yesssssss!!!!!
posted by Ironmouth at 9:40 AM on April 28, 2009


It's definitely a fragile super-majority especially with Ben Nelson in the party but even a weak super majority means that there will be less kowtowing to the Republicans who will inevitably vote against a bill in the end.

It will definitely be interesting to see if he switches back in favor of EFCA or if he remains in the opposition on passage.
posted by vuron at 9:40 AM on April 28, 2009


Every Democratic Senator already had that power, though there wasn't an "official" supermajority. It's not like cloture votes have to be all one party, you know.

If Specter actually plans on voting for things like EFCA (which he previously voted against), health care reform and clean energy (from PA?), this is good news. If he's not going to change any votes and just wants to be in the general election in...2010?...then screw him.
posted by DU at 9:40 AM on April 28, 2009 [11 favorites]


Sen. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin (R-TX) switching parties to caucus with the Democrats in a shocking turn only days before Brutal Muscle 5 -- The Rebloodening.

"If you're excited about a filibuster-proof majority, as well as the mudhole I'm going to stomp in some Republican asses, then give me a hell yeah," requested Senator Austin before catching two thrown beer cans and drinking them simultaneously to the approval of the seated House.

(REPOSTED FROM DELETED THREAD)
posted by Damn That Television at 9:42 AM on April 28, 2009 [28 favorites]


Alright... now that I've sated my punning urges let me mention that the front page of Talking Points Memo has a good round up of Specter news.
posted by Kattullus at 9:42 AM on April 28, 2009


My change in party affiliation does not mean that I will be a party-line voter any more for the Democrats that I have been for the Republicans. Unlike Senator Jeffords’ switch which changed party control, I will not be an automatic 60th vote for cloture. For example, my position on Employees Free Choice (Card Check) will not change. (source)

This seems like a fairly opportunistic and self-serving attempt to fend off a primary challenge from the right and to get backing from an ascendent Democratic Party without actually doing anything to merit its support.
posted by enn at 9:42 AM on April 28, 2009 [27 favorites]


DU has it right. The other angle for this post, beyond the switching element, is the fact that Specter's vote on the stimulus empowered Pat Toomey's campaign against him in the primary. I was in PA for the 2004 primary and Toomey nearly took Specter down then, running from the far right. He's a scary guy and this move pretty much guarantees Toomey the primary. So now PA will chose between far-right and center-right for its Senate seat.
posted by allen.spaulding at 9:42 AM on April 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


With Arlen Specter's announcement that he is switching parties

So he's not going to be a Democrat any more?

j/k
posted by dersins at 9:43 AM on April 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


Franken won't be seated for a while yet though. The MN Supreme Court will hear Coleman's appeal in June.
posted by COBRA! at 9:43 AM on April 28, 2009


So yeah...screw you, Specter. Primary him in 2010.
posted by DU at 9:44 AM on April 28, 2009


Looks like we have Biden to thank for persuading Specter, at least partially.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:44 AM on April 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


From what I've read, Specter's EFCA vote was merely laying the groundwork for a successful primary run against a Republican challenger. But after seeing Pat Toomey's polling numbers for a primary matchup (he was beating Specter by a crazy number like 54-25), Specter figured "ahh screw it, I'll just go be a Democrat." So yeah I think he'll switch on EFCA now.

Now Specter has to keep his fingers crossed and hope that Chris Matthews doesn't reconsider running as a dem ... nothing more intimidating for a incumbent than a lazy tee-vee type.
posted by Happydaz at 9:45 AM on April 28, 2009


Re: Franken--they can send every dog they got. It won't help. We're at the appellate stage now. They cannot change the record below. Time has run out for them.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:46 AM on April 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Statement from Specter here.
posted by iminurmefi at 9:46 AM on April 28, 2009


This just in: Joe Lieberman to become even more of an insufferable douche.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:46 AM on April 28, 2009 [44 favorites]


i wonder what the national party could be promising coleman for all of this. it seems like political hari-kiri to keep pushing this appeal, last poll has 2/3 of minnesotans thinking he should quit. i never had much of an opinion on him since i moved back, now i think he's an asshole.
posted by andywolf at 9:47 AM on April 28, 2009


Here's the statement from Specter.
posted by Liver at 9:47 AM on April 28, 2009


It's good news just because it allows for the possibility of a filibuster proof vote, and anything that pisses off/scares the people who fucked up this country so thoroughly for the last 8 years is a good thing.
posted by theora55 at 9:47 AM on April 28, 2009


enn: "This seems like a fairly opportunistic and self-serving attempt to fend off a primary challenge from the right and to get backing from an ascendent Democratic Party without actually doing anything to merit its support."

So instead of a primary challenge from the right, he's going to have a real-election challenge from the right. This doesn't eliminate the challenge, and actually it makes it stronger now Pat Toomey's going to get a lot more Republican donations (instead of splitting them), and will have a lot more time to accumulate mind share.
posted by Plutor at 9:47 AM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


So now PA will chose between far-right and center-right for its Senate seat.

That was already their choice. Now their choice will be extreme-far-right vs far-right.
posted by DU at 9:48 AM on April 28, 2009


Flagged as using "Joementum" twice within 50 words.
posted by clearly at 9:49 AM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Does it really even matter? It's not as if the Democrats have even made the Republicans go to the trouble of filibustering. They just threaten to and Harry Reid backs down like the spineless turdlet he's always been.

Besides, Reid has no control over his party. While the Republicans stand as a united front against the forces of Not-Good-But-Not-Quite-As-Bad, flipping a Democrat into voting with Republicans only takes a stern look or a $5 McDonald's gift certificate.

Even assuming that the Democrats somehow take control of the Senate, they're not going to do anything worthwhile. Are they all of a sudden going to vote on universal healthcare that doesn't just dump hundreds of billions into the insurance companies? Are they going to stop funding the "Endless Fighter Jets and Big Fuck-Off Bombs Renewal Act"? The difference between the parties is the difference between terminal cancer and getting shot in the face. One just takes longer to kill you.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:50 AM on April 28, 2009 [54 favorites]


Re: Franken--they can send every dog they got. It won't help. We're at the appellate stage now. They cannot change the record below. Time has run out for them.

I think Coleman and his gang have known for awhile now that they can't win. Their goal isn't to get Coleman seated. It's to keep Franken from taking his rightful place in the Senate for as long as possible. So far they've been very successful. Assholes!
posted by marsha56 at 9:51 AM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I really wish this switch would be interpreted by Republican party chiefs for what it is: a signal that the GOP has drifted so far away from being an effective political party, and that it needs to realign itself away from its fringe elements. It would be nice if this switch started a domino effect - leading other Republicans in all offices, tired of the conservative social movement, to either switch or become independents.

But instead, Republicans will likely see this as a welcome move from a known RINO, and will encourage others (Snowe?) to follow suit, in order to weed out the liberal element from their party. The people running the GOP are more than happy to cut off their trunks to spite their face.
posted by jabberjaw at 9:51 AM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


This doesn't eliminate the challenge, and actually it makes it stronger now Pat Toomey's going to get a lot more Republican donations (instead of splitting them), and will have a lot more time to accumulate mind share.

I'm not sure this is true. It's similar to Lieberman winning as an Independent. Specter knows he will get a solid chunk of Democratic voters in the general, which he wouldn't get in the primary. It might be enough to fend off Toomey.
posted by allen.spaulding at 9:52 AM on April 28, 2009


The major negative I see with this is that anytime the Congress fails to pass something people want now, it's clearly going to be the fault of the Democrats, at least in the eyes of the media and likely the public. So any policy failures will almost certainly lead to increased votes for the opposition party.

So Republicans will continue to obstruct and force cloture votes, many of which the Dems will fail to win, and will constantly be spinning the failures as the Dems fault. While 2010 and 2012 still look exceedingly favorable to Democratic candidates I wonder if the Repubs can force enough gridlock to tar the Democrats as inept in the eyes of the voters.
posted by vuron at 9:52 AM on April 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


So yeah I think he'll switch on EFCA now.

Doesn't look likely. He specifically addressed this in his statement:

My change in party affiliation does not mean that I will be a party-line voter any more for the Democrats that I have been for the Republicans. Unlike Senator Jeffords' switch which changed party control, I will not be an automatic 60th vote for cloture. For example, my position on Employees Free Choice (Card Check) will not change.
posted by Vectorcon Systems at 9:52 AM on April 28, 2009


Interesting take by Jonathan Cohn in The New Republic's The Plank:
Still, this is a big deal. And the reason, I would argue, can be found in the statement Specter just released:

"Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans."

Specter is one of the better-known senators in America. If you follow politics even casually, you've seen or heard him on the news before. So it's going to register with you that a major Republican senator has decided his party has become too extreme for him. And if you're a Republican, you might wonder if it's become too extreme for you, as well.
Actually, since I'm mentioning them, The Plank's Michael Crowley broke the story.
posted by Kattullus at 9:52 AM on April 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


People have been saying this since at least 2000, and they are still wrong.
posted by Mister_A at 9:53 AM on April 28, 2009


Optimus Chyme: "Does it really even matter? It's not as if the Democrats have even made the Republicans go to the trouble of filibustering. They just threaten to and Harry Reid backs down like the spineless turdlet he's always been."

There was a record number of filibusters in the 110th Congress, no matter how negatively you feel about compromising.
posted by Plutor at 9:54 AM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


So instead of a primary challenge from the right, he's going to have a real-election challenge from the right. This doesn't eliminate the challenge, and actually it makes it stronger now Pat Toomey's going to get a lot more Republican donations (instead of splitting them), and will have a lot more time to accumulate mind share.

Pat Toomey always stood a much better chance in the primary than in the general, I think. The ideal outcome for me would have been Toomey taking the primary and then losing to a real Democrat — a real Democrat beating Specter in the primary, though, seems like kind of a longer shot. But I don't know Pennsylvania politics, I could be way off.
posted by enn at 9:54 AM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


The GOP needs to swallow that jagged little pill, and learn. This a great move by Specter.
posted by Flex1970 at 9:55 AM on April 28, 2009


Specter will trounce Toomey in the general. There's no viable dem primary opponent, and it is unlikely that one will emerge in the next year. And Toomey just can't win. 60-40 or better for Specter, who will get a lot of (R) votes.
posted by Mister_A at 9:56 AM on April 28, 2009


I assume that this means that Sibellius and any other cabinet appointees are clean sailing though. I would also assume that Obama basically will get a free pass on whoever he wants for Supreme Court Justice slots which will be exceedingly nice. Instead of going with a stealth liberal he can go whole hog and choose a major liberal to counterbalance the likes of Scalia and Thomas.
posted by vuron at 9:56 AM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Instead of going with a stealth liberal he can go whole hog and choose a major liberal to counterbalance replace the likes of Scalia and Thomas.

What? A man can dream, can't he?
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:58 AM on April 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


So yeah...screw you, Specter. Primary him in 2010.

I would imagine that prior to making the final decision he secured from the Democratic leadership a promise of support. I know VP Biden and Gov. Rendell among others lobbied him earlier in the year. Senator Specter knows that to remain a Republican would almost certainly result in an embarrassing primary loss, so it stands to reason that he would not choose to suffer the same fate as a Democrat, and therefore that he enjoys the full backing of Dem. leadership.
posted by kurtroehl at 9:59 AM on April 28, 2009


Scalia is an angry little dude and will live to be 112. Bastard.
posted by Mister_A at 10:00 AM on April 28, 2009


Look at the big picture and the political tides for a moment ...

You have the hystericons attacking moderate Republicans as RINOs. The party being reduced down to its base as the moderates are fleeing, and the base assessing the problem as being that they just aren't extreme enough. As a result, Specter won't win a primary among the remaining base.

The GOP has basically driven him out of the party. And meanwhile across the aisle, you have a President making a point to be bipartisan.

Dear GOP, what did you think would happen if you started telling your moderate senators that they weren't really Republicans?
posted by cotterpin at 10:00 AM on April 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


Unlike Senator Jeffords' switch which changed party control, I will not be an automatic 60th vote for cloture. For example, my position on Employees Free Choice (Card Check) will not change.

I'd like to believe this is bullshit, as the only way he'd get union support would be to vote for EFCA. He's angling for the "you have no choice now" vote now that he's a Democrat, but this could still be a tough race for him, with Republicans (and the Club For Growth) pouring a lot of resources into it.

But realistically, yeah, Specter could Lieberman his way through the rest of his career now and be re-elected. There's just too many Democrats in Pennsylvania to change it otherwise.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:01 AM on April 28, 2009


We can definitely dream but I'm more concerned with replacing Stevens and Ginsburg with palatable justices than shifting the balance. Realistically Bush did a good job of packing the bench with relative young bodies and it will be quite some time before we can shift the court back towards the left significantly.

The appeals courts are another story though, I fully expect Obama to make a lot of progress in rebalancing some of the circuits.
posted by vuron at 10:03 AM on April 28, 2009


I would also assume that Obama basically will get a free pass on whoever he wants for Supreme Court Justice slots which will be exceedingly nice.

You do realize that once the Democrats have substantial majorities in every branch of government you will have no one left to blame right? Checks and balances flying out the window is not a good thing.
posted by clearly at 10:05 AM on April 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


He is 78 and has cancer?
posted by pracowity at 10:07 AM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


The cynics who note that he's doing this purely as a re-election maneuver say that like it's a bad thing. Specter's always been an eminently reasonable person, and he's seeing the writing on the wall regarding where the GOP is headed both in his country (his position on the Stimulus Bill) and his state (Toomey).

Good for him. Maybe some of the more moderate/centrist members of the GOP will see what's happening and move to take back control of their party.
posted by mkultra at 10:08 AM on April 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


"This seems like a fairly opportunistic and self-serving attempt to fend off a primary challenge from the right and to get backing from an ascendent Democratic Party without actually doing anything to merit its support."

Hardly. First, I'm certain that there were a whole lot of discussions about seniority and the like when he came over. This includes getting his support ahead of time on things. Right now, Specter owes the Dems everything. Plus he won't have to watch his back when it comes to voting leftward anymore. Pat Toomey can't hurt him now. In fact, he will now have the opportunity to turn leftward.

So Republicans will continue to obstruct and force cloture votes, many of which the Dems will fail to win, and will constantly be spinning the failures as the Dems fault. While 2010 and 2012 still look exceedingly favorable to Democratic candidates I wonder if the Repubs can force enough gridlock to tar the Democrats as inept in the eyes of the voters.

I do not understand the continual need for left leaning people in this country to see defeat in every victory. We could win every seat in congress and somebody would be saying that it was all part of Karl Rove's plan to secretly whip our asses.

Guess what. We are winning. We are kicking their ass. We are dominating them. Now is the time to force our agenda and obtain the fruits of our hard work. Nothing will get the Dems voted out of office faster than acting like cowards and doing nothing now that we have the power. People are counting on us making this victory worth it. Let's think about what we are going to do to the other guy for once instead of what they are going to do to us.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:08 AM on April 28, 2009 [37 favorites]


The cry babies:

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Reacting to Sen. Arlen Specter's decision to leave the GOP, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said the Pennsylvania senator left to avoid electoral defeat.

"Some in the Republican Party are happy about this. I am not," he said in a statement.

"Let's be honest-Senator Specter didn't leave the GOP based on principles of any kind. He left to further his personal political interests because he knew that he was going to lose a Republican primary due to his left-wing voting record.

"Republicans look forward to beating Sen. Specter in 2010, assuming the Democrats don't do it first."
posted by Flex1970 at 10:09 AM on April 28, 2009


"I love the smell of a filibuster-proof majority in the morning, I smells like ... Universal Health Care!"
posted by jim in austin at 10:09 AM on April 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


Talking Points Memo has their analysis up. Key passages:
Pennsylvania is a closed-primary state, and the ranks of registered Republicans, the folks eligible to vote in the GOP primary, shrunk last year. In 2008, between 150,000 and 200,000 registered GOPers switched to the Democratic Party in order to vote in the contentious primary between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

[…]

Those people tended to be moderate voters -- Specter's people -- and without them he cannot win a primary. But with them staying as Democrats, he could actually start with a leg-up as a Democrat, just in case any liberal challenger might try to take him on in the Dem primary.

And the other side of this coin is that the folks who remain as registered Republicans are now proportionally conservative than the state GOP was before.

[…]

And finally, it's important to remember another aspect of Pennsylvania politics: If he had run in the Republican primary and lost, he would not have been able to pull a Joe Lieberman and run as an independent. They have a "Sore-Loser Law" that forbids that very maneuver.
posted by Kattullus at 10:09 AM on April 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


Specter will trounce Toomey in the general. There's no viable dem primary opponent, and it is unlikely that one will emerge in the next year. And Toomey just can't win. 60-40 or better for Specter, who will get a lot of (R) votes.

I think it's a good bargain for the Democrats. They get his seat now and most likely in the 2010 general election, and then they have some time to prepare a candidate to replace Specter and to solidify their party gains from this election. (I've heard Patrick Murphy's name floated as a candidate, but he's too young and too green, even though he's very popular.

Dear GOP, what did you think would happen if you started telling your moderate senators that they weren't really Republicans?

Olympia Snowe's comments from the Politico piece speak to that exactly, "But Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) a fellow moderate, didn't seem suprised. On the national level, she says, "you haven't certainly heard warm encouraging words of how they [Republicans] view moderates. Either you are with us or against us."
posted by gladly at 10:09 AM on April 28, 2009


There was a record number of filibusters in the 110th Congress, no matter how negatively you feel about compromising.

Those weren't actually filibusters in the sense of "someone took the floor and kept talking until the issue was tabled". They were just threatened filibusters. Reid could make the Republicans who are threatening to filibuster actually speak, read from the phone book, piss in a bottle, etc., but he chooses not to, caving to mere threats of filibuster.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:10 AM on April 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


[edit]

"I love the smell of a filibuster-proof majority in the morning. It smells like ... Universal Health Care!"
posted by jim in austin at 10:10 AM on April 28, 2009


I don't think that Specter would have suffered a primary loss to Toomey if he'd run as a Republican. Specter is someone who's used to being the underdog in most elections in which he's run, ever since he lost his first race against patronage king Jim Tate in the 1967 Philly mayoral election. I imagine he read the tea leaves, though, and decided that making a splash by doing a Jeffords would make bigger news than slogging away and suffering the thousand cuts that a primary battle would have cost him. I'm no admirer of Specter's voting record, but you have to have grudging admiration for the political skills of someone who's basically one of the few left standing from that Class of 1980 that got swept into the Senate on Reagan's coattails. (The others are Dodd and Grassley.)
posted by blucevalo at 10:11 AM on April 28, 2009


You do realize that once the Democrats have substantial majorities in every branch of government you will have no one left to blame right? Checks and balances flying out the window is not a good thing.

Yeah, I remember four years ago how the big worry Republicans had was how Bush was overextending himself.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:12 AM on April 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


Whoops, Dodd didn't get swept in on Reagan's coattails. My mistake.
posted by blucevalo at 10:12 AM on April 28, 2009


Kattullus: "Talking Points Memo has their analysis up..."

This comment was too good not to share...

Keep purifying your party, Republicans. Pretty soon it will be small enough to drown in a bathtub.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:14 AM on April 28, 2009 [15 favorites]


You do realize that once the Democrats have substantial majorities in every branch of government you will have no one left to blame right?

I'd far rather be in a position of blaming the Democrats, myself.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:18 AM on April 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


So who will die of apoplexy on-air first? Rush or Beck?
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:18 AM on April 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


WTF????? Spector's switching? Wow.

A couple of decades ago, back when I owned a copy of CQ's Almanac of Politics, I looked at Spector's ADA and ACU ratings. They always described a sine-wave, going conservative the year of (or before) an election, and then back to the middle on now election yeras.

But I really wondered what he was going to do about Toomey this cycle, given that most of the moderate Republicans who would vote for Arlen in the closed PA primary had switched registration to Democrat the last two cycles (and given that in PA you can't pull a Lieberman and run as an independent if you ran in the primary). Would he lose to Toomey in the Primary, or win so bloodied that the Dems won in the General, or would he just retire?

But wow, he switched?
posted by orthogonality at 10:19 AM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


You do realize that once the Democrats have substantial majorities in every branch of government you will have no one left to blame right?

That's why the good lord gave us Harry Reid.
posted by enn at 10:20 AM on April 28, 2009 [7 favorites]


I'm torn. On the one hand, woohoo! On the other hand, looks like I just lost a bet.
posted by lunit at 10:22 AM on April 28, 2009


"So instead of a primary challenge from the right, he's going to have a real-election challenge from the right. This doesn't eliminate the challenge, and actually it makes it stronger now Pat Toomey's going to get a lot more Republican donations (instead of splitting them), and will have a lot more time to accumulate mind share."

Not at all. Because Pennsylvania is closed primary, Spec couldn't count on the cross-over voting he needed to fend off Toomey—too many of his constituents wanted to vote on Obama vs. Clinton. But with Dems having a significant party ID advantage, the game would have played out with Specter likely losing to Toomey in the primary while Toomey flamed out in the general against "generic Democrat." Because there's no switching, like Connecticut, Spec couldn't just rerun as an independent. Ergo, if Spec likes his gummint cheese, he had to switch to the party of winners what wins in Penn. He'll eat Toomey in the general, if he makes it past "generic democrat" in the primaries (which he should).
posted by klangklangston at 10:23 AM on April 28, 2009


It does help the Dems in another way. By increasing the amount of power they have on paper, the donors who give to the more powerful party will give more to the Dems to make sure they have a say in legislation.
posted by drezdn at 10:24 AM on April 28, 2009


You know, you can curse the rats for abandoning a sinking ship, but, at some point, you have to address the fact that the ship is sinking.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:25 AM on April 28, 2009 [25 favorites]


I am sad that the same stooge voting will now be accompanied by a D-PA in all media.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 10:26 AM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


That was already their choice. Now their choice will be extreme-far-right vs far-right.

Apparently Metafilter posters aren't particularly immune to some of the inherent problems of absolute vs relative placement on a political spectrum. Not to mention problems with placement on a political spectrum in general, and the assumption that somewhere on the "right" side of a political spectrum is obviously a bad place to be.

Does it really even matter? It's not as if the Democrats have even made the Republicans go to the trouble of filibustering. They just threaten to...The difference between the parties is the difference between terminal cancer and getting shot in the face.

It's hard to respect this opinion when there hasn't really been a chance in recent memory to find out. I understand a certain degree of cynicism, and am not impressed with the new Democratic leadership as a whole as I hoped I'd be by now, but a rush to judgment doesn't seem insightful and certainly can't help build the kind of political support that will actually lead to functional health care policy and more measured approaches to defense and security.
posted by weston at 10:27 AM on April 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


and the assumption that somewhere on the "right" side of a political spectrum is obviously a bad place to be.

It's not so much an assumption as a conclusion reached after much study, debate, and observation.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:30 AM on April 28, 2009 [7 favorites]


A very interesting article on DailyKos suggests Senate Dems should send a Memo to GOP: Seat Al Franken and give him his committee assignments now, or we'll block a new organizing resolution that would let you reassign Specter's previously Republican committee seats to one of your own.
posted by orthogonality at 10:31 AM on April 28, 2009 [7 favorites]


I didn't want to micromanage my own thread, so I was hoping someone else would make this point. It's been an hour, so I'm just going to say it.

HE SHOT A WOMAN IN THE FACE. NO WONDER THE GOP WANTED TO TRADE HIM.

The Democrats made a terrible deal and just you watch, that third round draft pick and the player-to-be-named-later might turn out to be superstars. This is the worst deal since Boston traded Jeff Bagwell for Paul Tsongas.
posted by allen.spaulding at 10:32 AM on April 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


Astro Zombie: "You know, you can curse the rats for abandoning a sinking ship, but, at some point, you have to address the fact that the ship is sinking."

From the sad-faced crew at RedState...

The GOP reaction will be very important, if they react as though it’s a big blow,then the party looks weak,If they react relieved to shed the “mushy” members then we may just show we are serious about returning to the party of Reagan. either way we are still going to have an up hill battle in 2010.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:32 AM on April 28, 2009


Pennsylvania is a closed-primary state, and the ranks of registered Republicans, the folks eligible to vote in the GOP primary, shrunk last year. In 2008, between 150,000 and 200,000 registered GOPers switched to the Democratic Party in order to vote in the contentious primary between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

This is one of the happy, unintended consequences of the excruciatingly long primary fight between Obama and Clinton. Pennsylvania's Democratic presidential primary has historically been scheduled in March or April, usually after a de facto nominee has been selected. By contrast, in 2008, Pennsylvania had a competitive Democratic presidential primary for the first time since 1976. I registered dozens of party-switchers there myself. Although Obama lost Pennsylvania's primary, his strategy to remain competitive in that primary hinged on re-registering lots of Republicans and independents as Democrats.
posted by jonp72 at 10:36 AM on April 28, 2009


and the assumption that somewhere on the "right" side of a political spectrum is obviously a bad place to be.

Lie with dogs wake up with fleas.

I've taken a cafeteria approach in assembling my Weltanschauung but I would never coalition with social conservatives -- largely racist bigots, homophobes, male chauvinists, and idiot religious fundamentalists -- nor devil-take-the-hindmost minarchists, nor the more-rubble-less-trouble neocons.

That doesn't leave a whole lot left in today's Republican coalition that's opposing the Democrats. Sen. Snowe, that's about it.

Democrats do little to float my boat but anywhere else in the world Obama would be a center-right head of government. Here, because we are a nation of idiots, many people on the right consider him the incarnation of Mao, or Stalin, depending on which way the wind is flowing through their crackpated heads.
posted by mrt at 10:36 AM on April 28, 2009 [14 favorites]


Suddenly every Democratic Senator has the ability to hold out with the credible threat that they will leave and destroy the super majority.

I don't know if that threat is all that credible. Dems would still have 59 votes, and can pass legislation using reconciliation, etc.
posted by delmoi at 10:37 AM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Having just heard Specter at a company-sponsored event last week, I can tell you that, this big news aside, he ain't about to switch on EFCA. There's been a metric fuckton of lobbying money spent by a number of large PA-based corporations to ensure that doesn't happen.

Effectively, they've threatened to throw jobs overseas if EFCA were to pass, and Specter can't afford to have that used against him. It would be one seriously effective attack in the Toomey arsensal -- remember that PA is a rust-belt Democratic state whose once-robust industry sector is almost dead. Blaming Specter for the additional loss of thousands of jobs to near- and off-shore locations would be catastrophic, especially among his constituents in the middle of the state.
posted by shiu mai baby at 10:38 AM on April 28, 2009


Party affiliation is a big deal typically a legislator has a couple issues that they actually care about and vote with the party on the rest. The most conservative democrat is more liberal than the most liberal republican. If Specter follows the pattern which I expect him too, expect him to be significantly more liberal than he was previously. Probably more liberal similar to Webb or Tester. Whether this is a good deal for dems depends on what you think the chances of the seat going to a significantly more liberal Democrat in 2010. I think you would probably get in order a more liberal dem, then specter as a republican, then a worse republican. I think at the margin the chances of getting a more liberal dem aren't worth the chances of getting any republican. That's just me. The fact that we'll get about a year of the ability to abstractly block a filibuster is gravy.
posted by I Foody at 10:40 AM on April 28, 2009


allen.spaulding: HE SHOT A WOMAN IN THE FACE.

That's nothing, man, he came up with the magic bullet theory.

What? Who did Specter shoot in the face?
posted by Kattullus at 10:41 AM on April 28, 2009


I believe that THWACKTHWACKTHWACK I'm hearing is my neocon mom's feet slapping against the floor as she has a seizure while watching Fox News.
posted by The Straightener at 10:42 AM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


And he invented the wall of sound.
posted by snofoam at 10:43 AM on April 28, 2009 [20 favorites]


Keep purifying your party, Republicans. Pretty soon it will be small enough to drown in a bathtub.

I actually wonder if the republican party is predominantly over. People always say stuff like that, but that the U.S. has switched out one of it's two dominant parties in the past. Of course, that happened before the Civil War. But it's possible we could see another party come up to the left or right of the democrats. If it's to the left, that would be a great thing, IMO.
posted by delmoi at 10:43 AM on April 28, 2009


Jeez what a bunch of idjits at RedState, Joe. The "party of Reagan" had enormous cross-over appeal to Democrats, and never attempted to brand people on the coasts as traitors or not "real Americans". The public face of the party of Reagan was all about prosperity and hope and happiness, not the awfulness of the new Republican party. It was a false hope, but they were savvy enough back then to realize that you had to at least seem inclusive, forward-looking, and tolerant on some level to be successful nationally.
posted by Mister_A at 10:45 AM on April 28, 2009 [7 favorites]


Guess what. We are winning. We are kicking their ass. We are dominating them. Now is the time to force our agenda and obtain the fruits of our hard work.

Indeed. Now let's see it. Stop torture. Start universal, single-payer health care. Slash the DoD's budget by 50% or more. Triple education spending. Cut off the oil and go 100% solar/wind/geothermal. Or any one of those things.

Nothing will get the Dems voted out of office faster than acting like cowards and doing nothing now that we have the power.

100 days and counting.
posted by DU at 10:46 AM on April 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


It's not so much an assumption as a conclusion reached after much study, debate, and observation.

No doubt backed up with exactly as much real effort as you put into that comment.
posted by weston at 10:47 AM on April 28, 2009


Specter and the Democratic Party have been cohabitating for years. This is simply the electoral version of going down to the courthouse and "making it legal" for tax purposes.

Spector was going to get creamed in the primaries. He's not changing his votes or stances on any issues of significance.
posted by DWRoelands at 10:48 AM on April 28, 2009


Meanwhile, Obama continues warrant-less wiretaps, refuses to prosecute the crimes of George Bush, and continues the unprecedented expansion of executive power.

Yeah, that certainly sounds like someone I would want to have more power and supporters.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:48 AM on April 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


No doubt backed up with exactly as much real effort as you put into that comment.

Somebody's wearing their sandpaper panties today!
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:50 AM on April 28, 2009


No doubt backed up with exactly as much real effort as you put into that comment.

It strikes me that fleshing out that comment with examples would have been somewhat off topic, as well as expanding the comment to the size of the Babylonian Talmud.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:50 AM on April 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


Democrats do little to float my boat but anywhere else in the world Obama would be a center-right head of government.

Not a bad place to be, assuming he can govern that way.

Here, because we are a nation of idiots, many people on the right consider him the incarnation of Mao, or Stalin, depending on which way the wind is flowing through their crackpated heads.

I completely agree that these kinds of opinions are ridiculous. What I don't want to see is the same kind of political flattening take hold elsewhere, particularly here on the blue.
posted by weston at 10:51 AM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Those weren't actually filibusters in the sense of "someone took the floor and kept talking until the issue was tabled". They were just threatened filibusters. Reid could make the Republicans who are threatening to filibuster actually speak, read from the phone book, piss in a bottle, etc., but he chooses not to, caving to mere threats of filibuster.

The "piss in a bottle" thing is only required if only one senator is doing the filibustering. Also, they don't even need to talk, simply object when someone requests a vote and demand a cloture vote first.

So for example, say two senators want to block a particular bill, the could take turns simply standing in the senate, and whenever a motion to vote on a bill came up, they could demand a cloture vote. On the other hand, if they were actually only two of them, the other senators would make enough for a quorum. But if there are 40 senators, then each one only needs to stand in the senate for a few minutes a day.

The "reading from a phone book" thing is just a myth. Mike Gravel did something like that, but he was actually reading the pentagon papers into the congressional record.

And anyway, they can't even threaten to filibuster now.
posted by delmoi at 10:51 AM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Effectively, they've threatened to throw jobs overseas if EFCA were to pass, and Specter can't afford to have that used against him.

That's what's gotten us into our present sinking ship. It's a bluff, every sentient person knows it's a bluff. If there was any time to call them on it, it's now. If corporations made good on that threat in this economy, the blowback (properly flamed, of course) would be monumental.

Also, didn't Specter's reversal to being anti-EFCA again, touch this whole thing off?
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:51 AM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Somebody's wearing their sandpaper panties today!

Ah, snark over substance.
posted by weston at 10:53 AM on April 28, 2009


Specter is just another right-wing rat bailing from the sinking ship that is the GOP. Americans have a short memory but I will always remember his support for DOMA and the nomination of Justice Thomas. Further, he has more or less made it clear he has no plans to change his voting record. Fuck that guy.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:54 AM on April 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


As Nate Silver put it, this is more bad for Republicans than good for democrats.

An op-ed in the NY Times today entitled (laff) "Cheney For President" has an interesting take on the circular firing squad the republicans have going on at the moment. His basic point is that McCain securing the nomination is what allows those on the far right to continue to push the absurd idea that the Republicans are losing because they "aren't Conservative enough." It hasn't been tested via referendum, at least not explicitly so.

Perhaps when Specter trounces Toomey (and oh boy, will he) in the general election they'll let go of this derangement and try the back-handed "big tent conservatism" again. But I doubt it. Some people in the "base" are just too angry. it seems increasingly difficult for a moderate republican to win a primary, and a far right one to win most general elections.

I fully welcome this lunatic fringe marching themselves into oblivion, appealing further and further to the right. Now we just need the godamn Democrats to ram through some policy while the Rs are down and scattered. If it works, and people see they now have their interests represented through healthcare and whatnot, we'll have shifted the whole landscape to the left, much as Reagan did way back when. and then maybe, just maybe, we'll have an actual viable leftist party.

MANDATORY GAY MARRIAGES FOR ALL MUAHAHAHA
posted by ScotchRox at 10:54 AM on April 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


And anyway, they can't even threaten to filibuster now.

This is what I don't get. They can threaten to filibuster exactly as much today as they could yesterday. Filibustering has nothing to do with party identification. According to Specter's statement, he would join the Republicans in voting no on EFCA cloture, right? Unless Specter's arm is twisted by Dems to change his vote on things, nothing has changed except Specter's personal chances of electoral victory in 2010.

And when was the last time you saw Dems twist any arms?
posted by DU at 10:58 AM on April 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


Indeed. Now let's see it. Stop torture. Start universal, single-payer health care. Slash the DoD's budget by 50% or more. Triple education spending. Cut off the oil and go 100% solar/wind/geothermal. Or any one of those things.

Nothing will get the Dems voted out of office faster than acting like cowards and doing nothing now that we have the power.

100 days and counting.
posted by DU at 1:46 PM on April 28 [+] [!]


Meanwhile, Obama continues warrant-less wiretaps, refuses to prosecute the crimes of George Bush, and continues the unprecedented expansion of executive power.

Yeah, that certainly sounds like someone I would want to have more power and supporters.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:48 PM on April 28 [+] [!]


Christamighty, y'all some hard fuckers to please. In 100 days, we've had him overturning the conscience rule, signing orders to shut down Guatanamo, passing the Lilly Ledbetter Act, overturning the Global Gag Rule, making massive progress on healthcare, initiating the first real movements towards sustainable energy that we've ever seen, and probably a handful of other things I've forgotten.

In three months this administration has arguably done more good than W did in eight goddamn years. Keep up the pressure on the wiretaps, by all means, but jesus, get some perspective while you're at it.
posted by shiu mai baby at 10:58 AM on April 28, 2009 [73 favorites]


Here, because we are a nation of idiots, many people on the right consider him the incarnation of Mao, or Stalin, depending on which way the wind is flowing through their crackpated heads.

Here, because we are a nation of idiots, many people on the left consider him the incarnation of Bush, or Cheney, depending on which way the wind is flowing through their crackpated heads.

Makes me think he may be doing something right, no?
posted by dersins at 11:01 AM on April 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


And he invented the wall of sound.
posted by snofoam at 12:43 PM on April 28 [+] [!]


Yeah, I'm not happy about the shooting in the face thing, but I'm glad to have the guy responsible for The Wrecking Crew and Wall of Sound on my side.
posted by kingbenny at 11:02 AM on April 28, 2009


Americans have a short memory but I will always remember his support for DOMA and the nomination of Justice Thomas.

What's ironic is that there are a lot of Republican dead-enders in Pennsylvania who still call Specter "Benedict Arlen," because he voted against Robert Bork for the Supreme Court. I grew up in Pennsylvania, and I'm pretty sure there are some hard right anti-abortionists in PA who are cursing themselves about how Roe v. Wade would have been overturned by now if it wasn't for Benedict Arlen.
posted by jonp72 at 11:03 AM on April 28, 2009


The Arlen Specter/Phil Spector shooting a woman in the face joke has been explained to me now. Mind you, shooting a woman in the face wouldn't be the craziest thing a sitting senator has done, though admittedly it would be up there.
posted by Kattullus at 11:04 AM on April 28, 2009


"That's nothing, man, he came up with the magic bullet theory."

Mentioned that to someone who said he was splitting because he was pretty much a liberal in disguise. Asshat was older than me too. Gramps had no sense of history apparently (yeah, ok, Bork, yeah, yeah).
But the GOP is playing out their version of The Crucible internally ("I have given you my soul; leave me my name").
Guy spends 26 years working for the party but f'em if he looks crosswise at the wrong bill or judge or won't suck the right dicks.
Apparently one can't even have integrity if it goes against the party line.
Perhaps the Stalinist party purges are closer - without, y'know the Black Mariahs, although before '36 they were fairly harmless).
He wants to get elected....yeah? So?

Any reasonable individual would have - at the very least - questioned Bush's wiretapping program and its possible 4th amendment violations.
And yet, now that Obama has the ball, it's all black helicopters and paranoia about 'big government' again.
Where TF were these people when Bushco was openly tapping phone calls?
I'd argue that the GOP is well over, even if it's still a viable party. It doesn't seem to be about anything but being GOP. I caught that vibe a long time ago over foreign policy matters. People telling me that I'm wrong about something, that they're entitled to their opinion, blah de blah, meanwhile, I still have mud on my boots where the shit was going down. And *I'm* wrong?

At some point objective reality has to supersede ANY ideology. I am, ideologically, very pro-life, but the reality of enforcing such a principle through law is far more damaging. I know it. I've seen it. There's proof. So you bend to reality. You have to. Otherwise you're like O'Brien in 1984 believing 2+2 =5 because it's what's wanted politically. That way lies madness. Or at best introspection unto oblivion. Because eventually reality will break you if you ignore it.
So, really, only a matter of time for the GOP (given they maintain course).
posted by Smedleyman at 11:04 AM on April 28, 2009 [8 favorites]


In 100 days, we've had him overturning the conscience rule, signing orders to shut down Guatanamo, passing the Lilly Ledbetter Act, overturning the Global Gag Rule, making massive progress on healthcare, initiating the first real movements towards sustainable energy that we've ever seen, and probably a handful of other things I've forgotten.

I'm not saying these aren't good things. The context I was quoting was talking about major, transformational change now that we have OMGFILIBUSTERPROOF. "Progress on" healthcare that is invisible at the kitchen table and "movements towards" sustainable energy that doesn't remove a single molecule of CO2 are not transformational.
posted by DU at 11:06 AM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


From Stone's JFK:

So now a single bullet remains. A single bullet now has to account for the remaining seven wounds in Kennedy and Connelly. But rather than admit to a conspiracy or investigate further, the Warren Commission chose to endorse the theory put forth by an ambitious junior counselor, Arlen Specter, one of the grossest lies ever forced on the American people. We've come to know it as the "Magic Bullet Theory."

Which brings us to our current understanding. A single senator, switching parties, will bring us health care reform, greenhouse gas checks, a happy and dancing Supreme Court with more hummable tunes, and honest government.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:08 AM on April 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


"In three months this administration has arguably done more good than W did in eight goddamn years. Keep up the pressure on the wiretaps, by all means, but jesus, get some perspective while you're at it."

The thing about repeatedly hitting yourself in the head with a hammer is that it feels great when you stop.
posted by klangklangston at 11:08 AM on April 28, 2009 [12 favorites]


ScotchRox: "I fully welcome this lunatic fringe marching themselves into oblivion, appealing further and further to the right."

And if the economy doesn't improve? What happens after 4 years of humiliations for the once-swaggering empire?

In march the brownshirts.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:09 AM on April 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


Specter has a long article on rolling back presidential power in the New York Review of Books. It was posted a few days ago.
posted by russilwvong at 11:11 AM on April 28, 2009


"Percent of Americans calling themselves 'Republican' plummets" to 21%.
"The Post poll numbers show the challenge for Republicans in stark terms.

The number of people who see themselves as GOPers is on the decline even as those who remain within the party grow more and more conservative.

That means that the loyal base of the party has an even larger voice in terms of the direction it heads even as more and more empirical evidence piles up that the elevation of voices like former vice president Dick Cheney does little to win over wavering Republicans or recruit Independents back to the GOP cause.*
posted by ericb at 11:11 AM on April 28, 2009


Dems would still have 59 votes, and can pass legislation using reconciliation, etc.

yea, i think the maine senators put them over the threshold...
posted by kliuless at 11:11 AM on April 28, 2009


Wow, just wow. Just how bad has the GOP screwed itself when Specter switches? A country without a healthy political opposition does not have a healthy political system. The GOP seems determined to make that come to pass.
posted by Bovine Love at 11:12 AM on April 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Here's the thing, folks. It's not really that the Democrats are timid. One of the major effects of the GOP's hard shift to the right has been the Democrats' cheerfully accepting their center-right castoffs. The Democratic Party has no ideology right now; they're simply the party of being Not The GOP. This is a party that includes both Arlen Spector and Bernie Sanders. So it's not a matter of the Democrats not having the strength or courage or balls or whatever to push through their agenda; right now, the Democrats don't have an agenda beyond further marginalizing the Republican Party.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:12 AM on April 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


A single senator, switching parties, will bring us health care reform, greenhouse gas checks, a happy and dancing Supreme Court with more hummable tunes, and honest government.

In an alternate Universe somewhere, a bizarro, goatee-clad Oliver Stone has already made this film.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:12 AM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I believe that THWACKTHWACKTHWACK I'm hearing is my neocon mom's feet slapping against the floor as she has a seizure while watching Fox News.

That's the helicopter, piloted by Specter, coming to take her guns. If she doesn't have any guns, they'll plant them, register her as an offender, then take them back.

How is Fox handling this, anyway? Are they able to get complete sentences in, or are they hyperventilating? Will someone hand them a paper bag?
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:14 AM on April 28, 2009


In march the brownshirts.

They are already marching. FOX News is helping them by broadcasting their "tea parties" for free.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:14 AM on April 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is a party that includes both Arlen Spector and Bernie Sanders.

Pardon me while I fantasize about a future where we have announcements that people are leaving the Democratic party to join the Green/Socialist/Whatever party.
posted by DU at 11:16 AM on April 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Do you want Obama to start personally injecting carbon for sequestering purposes? I think everyone expected a center/center-left government and that's what we got. Not to shocking.

And though I disagree with many of Obama's "concessions," I also respect the incredible balancing act that he is accomplishing. I have more faith in Obama than I would have in an army of Kuciniches
posted by rosswald at 11:18 AM on April 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


"Progress on" healthcare that is invisible at the kitchen table and "movements towards" sustainable energy that doesn't remove a single molecule of CO2 are not transformational.

Let me repeat myself: 100 days. You are talking about massive, fundamental shifts in how this country operates, and you can't get this QEII of a nation to turn on a dime. It takes a lot of time, a ton of finesse, a zillion horse-trades, and unshakable perseverance tempered by a saintly amount of patience. We are going to get there, and I, for one, am delighted to have an administration that is steadily putting all the pieces into place that need to be in place before things like universal healthcare and sustainable energy can become real. There is no magic wand that you can wave to make this happen overnight. Or, you know, in 100 days.
posted by shiu mai baby at 11:18 AM on April 28, 2009 [13 favorites]


Having just heard Specter at a company-sponsored event last week, I can tell you that, this big news aside, he ain't about to switch on EFCA. There's been a metric fuckton of lobbying money spent by a number of large PA-based corporations to ensure that doesn't happen.

He's already switched once. PA is a heavily unionized state and EFCA is actually pretty popular there. The fact that a bunch of business would claim to move jobs overseas wouldn't really be all that meaningful, and Toomy won't have any chance at all to win in the general anyway. His biggest challenge now will be in winning the democratic primary, which will be even more union dominant.
posted by delmoi at 11:18 AM on April 28, 2009


This is a party that includes both Arlen Spector and Bernie Sanders.

Bernie Sanders caucuses with the democrats, but he was elected as an independent socialist.
posted by delmoi at 11:20 AM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know who else had a filibuster-proof majority?
posted by ob at 11:23 AM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ghostbusters 2?
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:24 AM on April 28, 2009 [6 favorites]


What we are seeing is a division between the two big parties between those who tend to vote liberal and the opposite. there remian some Dems who are borderline Republicans, however. What is good about this is that at last the people might get to elect those who stand for one set of beliefas and not the opposite, and votes will show us what our people want. Conservatives are denoucning Spector, but then they are the ones who mouth off about standing for principles etc and Spector switched for self-interest and that would make Adam Smith proud.
posted by Postroad at 11:24 AM on April 28, 2009


I do not understand the continual need for left leaning people in this country to see defeat in every victory.

Historical precedent since 1980. The GOP had a much thinner Seanate majority through half of the Bush years, and didn't have one at all the other half.

And yet, amazingly enough, Bush's legislation sailed right through.

The Democrats, with a 58-41 seat majority, can't get anything of substance through without major bloodletting, and half the nominiations are held up. If the GOP could get it done 54-46, and the Dems can't at 58-41, why should I celebrate 59-40, or even 60-40?

You want celebration? Actually pass legislation and get it signed. Actually get nominees confirmed. Numbers mean nothing. When they actually tell the GOP to shut up and vote the bill through, then I believe this means something.

Right now, this is Just Another Republican in Democratic Clothing. We already have one Joe Lieberman, what good does another do?
posted by eriko at 11:24 AM on April 28, 2009 [6 favorites]


In spite of my opinion, I do hope you're right, delmoi. Aside from the more obvious reasons, it would make me endlessly happy to know that said corporations threw away that money with ultimately zero return.
posted by shiu mai baby at 11:24 AM on April 28, 2009


"an army of Kuciniches"

Wasn't that in Lord of the Rings?
posted by orthogonality at 11:27 AM on April 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Let me repeat myself: 100 days. You are talking about massive, fundamental shifts in how this country operates, and you can't get this QEII of a nation to turn on a dime. It takes a lot of time, a ton of finesse, a zillion horse-trades, and unshakable perseverance tempered by a saintly amount of patience. We are going to get there, and I, for one, am delighted to have an administration that is steadily putting all the pieces into place that need to be in place before things like universal healthcare and sustainable energy can become real. There is no magic wand that you can wave to make this happen overnight. Or, you know, in 100 days."

The reason why we hold modern presidents to a 100 day standard is because FDR got the New Deal through in the first 100 days.
posted by klangklangston at 11:37 AM on April 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


Historical precedent since 1980. The GOP had a much thinner Seanate majority through half of the Bush years, and didn't have one at all the other half.

And yet, amazingly enough, Bush's legislation sailed right through.


Which legislation? His tax reform bill? His reforms to Social Security? I know, you must be talking about his immigration reform bill!
posted by mr_roboto at 11:37 AM on April 28, 2009


By the way, Arlen Specter's switch to the Democrats makes him the last Jewish Senator in the GOP. (The only other Jewish Republican Senator in the previous session of Congress was Norm Coleman.) If this means that the GOP digs in its heels as the vehicle of identity politics for white, Southern, Christian males, then the GOP may be in for a long period in the wilderness.
posted by jonp72 at 11:40 AM on April 28, 2009


In spite of my opinion, I do hope you're right, delmoi. Aside from the more obvious reasons, it would make me endlessly happy to know that said corporations threw away that money with ultimately zero return.

I didn't say he would switch for sure, but he might do something like vote for cloture, and not for the actual bill (which would let it pass). I don't think he has a principled stand on the issue, but he may want those campaign dollars to keep rolling in.
posted by delmoi at 11:42 AM on April 28, 2009


The reason why we hold modern presidents to a 100 day standard is because FDR got the New Deal through in the first 100 days.

Right, and FDR inherited an enconomy with a 25% unemployment rate, and Hoovervilles set up in freaking Central Park. That, plus the fact that the Republicans of the day didn't have the self-defeating "with us or a'gin us" attitude that they do now, meant that he wasn't facing nearly the uphill battle that Obama has. FDR pushed through a ton of new bills that laid the groundwork for the New Deal, and faced exactly zero opposition. Obama has had nothing even close to that luxury.
posted by shiu mai baby at 11:42 AM on April 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


jonp72: "By the way, Arlen Specter's switch to the Democrats makes him the last Jewish Senator in the GOP."

Surely we should count Lieberman.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:45 AM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm watching him live now. I thought he looked sluggish, but then come the questions about the GOP, and their future, and he gets really animated for someone his age. This guys good, he's totally ripping on the Republicans. I love this stuff!
posted by Flex1970 at 11:45 AM on April 28, 2009


And if the economy doesn't improve? What happens after 4 years of humiliations for the once-swaggering empire?

In march the brownshirts.


Well, that fear is always there for me, personally. Here's some more ammo for it, if you needed it. (apologies for gawker link, first I could find).

Still, I don't think we're there or even close to it, yet. If the republicans keep purging their party, it'll soon be small enough to drown in a bathtub.
posted by ScotchRox at 11:47 AM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I now formally forgive him for his shameful treatment of Anita Hill.
posted by caddis at 11:51 AM on April 28, 2009


Ghostbusters 2?
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:24 AM on April 28


Thank you
posted by ob at 11:52 AM on April 28, 2009


Wonkette wades through the hilarity at Free Republic so you don't have to.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:54 AM on April 28, 2009


Arlen Specter to join the Wu-Tang Clan

"My life had got no better, same damn 'Lo sweater. Times is rough and tough like leather," said the senior senator of his 29-year membership with the GOP. "I figured out I went the wrong route. So I got with a sick tight clique and went all out."
posted by Skot at 11:57 AM on April 28, 2009 [13 favorites]


That was already their choice. Now their choice will be extreme-far-right vs far-right.

You could call Specter "far-right" vs some complete ideological spectrum, but I don't think he's far-right for actual Americans. He's not that different than many of the conservative Democratic Senators who just got elected over Republicans in generally conservative states. I'm not even sure he's the most conservative Democrat.
posted by wildcrdj at 12:01 PM on April 28, 2009


(er, I meant "actual spectrum of American politics". Obama was about as far to the left as many Democrats can stand, and on a "full" spectrum of politics he would be a centrist (compared to a raging socialist, for example)).
posted by wildcrdj at 12:02 PM on April 28, 2009


From Skot's link:

"It's hard to argue with 29 years of Senate experience," said the ghost of Ol' Dirty Bastard. "In this economy, even a multi-platinum, grammy-nominated super group needs as much help as possible."

Brilliant.
posted by shiu mai baby at 12:05 PM on April 28, 2009


wildcrdj: "Obama was about as far to the left as many Democrats can stand, and on a "full" spectrum of politics he would be a centrist (compared to a raging socialist, for example))."

mrt was exactly correct. Obama would be seen as a center-rightist in any normal country.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:06 PM on April 28, 2009


It's time we realize that politics is not shaped like a line, with people clumping up towards the right, or the left, or the middle, but is instead shaped like a timecube, with people clumped up toward tomorrow, or the past, or several alternate pasts, including one in which the current future would have included personal jet packs and the whole world dressed in go-go boots.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:07 PM on April 28, 2009 [14 favorites]


Pope Guilty: It's not so much an assumption as a conclusion reached after much study, debate, and observation.

Weston: No doubt backed up with exactly as much real effort as you put into that comment.

Pope Guilty: Somebody's wearing their sandpaper panties today!

Weston: Ah, snark over substance.


See also: Cognitive Dissonance
posted by jefeweiss at 12:11 PM on April 28, 2009


What sucks is Specter's opposed to Dawn Johnsen's appointment to Office of Legal Counsel. But, he will owe Obama a couple of favors after he campaigns for him for the 2010 Senate race. So, like Lieberman, I bet he'll vote left on big issues more so than he's done in the past(for a few years, at least). And, if Obama's approval rating is still above 60 in a few years.
posted by Flex1970 at 12:14 PM on April 28, 2009


Arlen Specter shot a woman in the face?
posted by xmutex at 12:25 PM on April 28, 2009


mr_roboto: Which legislation? His tax reform bill? His reforms to Social Security? I know, you must be talking about his immigration reform bill!

FISA, maybe? Continued unlimited war funding?
posted by Caduceus at 12:27 PM on April 28, 2009


Arlen Specter is so mean he once shot a woman in the face just for snoring too loud.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:33 PM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I bet a lot of people don't know Arlen Specter was once Ira Einhorn's attorney.
posted by mattdidthat at 12:36 PM on April 28, 2009


Devils Rancher: "So who will die of apoplexy on-air first? Rush or Beck?"

Amusingly, Beck's take was essentially identical with that of the site he likes to refer to as Daily Kooks - i.e. rat leaving sinking ship.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:38 PM on April 28, 2009


Arlen Specter is so mean he once shot a woman in the face just for snoring too loud.

Was this before or after he shot a man in Reno just to watch him die?
posted by shiu mai baby at 12:39 PM on April 28, 2009


Good cop/bad cop.

Bunch of bullshit.
posted by metagnathous at 12:50 PM on April 28, 2009


Was this before or after he shot a man in Reno just to watch him die?

Before he shot that man in Reno, but after he walked into a saloon on a street of mud and saw at the table, dealin' stud, that dirty , mangy dog that named him "Arlen".
posted by stavrogin at 12:50 PM on April 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


In three months this administration has arguably done more good than W did in eight goddamn years. Keep up the pressure on the wiretaps, by all means, but jesus, get some perspective while you're at it.

Amen brother. Or sister.

As for DU's laundry list, I don't think Obama agrees with your agenda. Maybe you should have voted for Nader.

What really surprises me is that the same people demanding the maximalist left agenda are the people who think that Rove has got us by the balls now that we run everything.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:53 PM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


“Pardon me while I fantasize about a future where we have announcements that people are leaving the Democratic party to join the Green/Socialist/Whatever party.”
Er… I’ve been Green for a while now. Doing pretty well in Illinois. And I’m a conservative. I dunno where the “liberals” are at.

"’an army of Kuciniches’
‘Wasn't that in Lord of the Rings?’”

One does not simply ‘Locke’ into Mord…wow, check out his wife, yo! Ahhh! *hail of arrows*
posted by Smedleyman at 1:02 PM on April 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think it is fine, exact that he shot a woman in the face.
posted by found missing at 1:13 PM on April 28, 2009


The Arlen Specter/Phil Spector shooting a woman in the face joke has been explained to me now

Don't feel bad. I first took it for an Adlai Stevenson reference.
posted by Zed at 1:14 PM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


My mother says what she loves about the Democratic Party is its disorganization. That's what democracy is, a town meeting with lots of people elbowing their way to the speaker's platform. The Democrats will have to make some sort of consensus out of their hundred opinions. In its disorder, democracy is the great buffer to fascism.
We will have a two party system in America: Democrats and the Democrats who don't agree with the other Democrats. The Republicans will solidify their 20% until it becomes an intestinal concretion.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:16 PM on April 28, 2009 [8 favorites]


I think it is fine, exact that he shot a woman in the face.

Beaten twice to the punch and mis-delivered! Now that's how you do comedy folks!
posted by eyeballkid at 1:32 PM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm going to lose my license.
posted by found missing at 1:39 PM on April 28, 2009


Anyway, if you heard the inflection in my voice that I heard in my head while I was mistyping it, you'd realize that I was just trying to parrot the stupid joke I read above.
posted by found missing at 1:40 PM on April 28, 2009


In his own words. He's funny.
posted by Flex1970 at 1:53 PM on April 28, 2009


In three months this administration has arguably done more good than W did in eight goddamn years.

DNC television ad on some of Obama's achievements in his first 100 days.
posted by ericb at 1:54 PM on April 28, 2009


Colour Glen Greenwald unimpressed.

However, he does not that "Today is the best day to watch Fox News since the election -- mass grieving flavored by impotent bitterness," which actually makes me wish I could.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:56 PM on April 28, 2009


Not this is all that relevant to the latter-day adventures of Senator Magic Bullet, but mattdidthat's lawyer-to-Ira-Einhorn link leads to an interview, not with Specter, or Einhorn, but some obscure journalist-spook type that's actually rather entertaining.
posted by darth_tedious at 2:30 PM on April 28, 2009


Not this is

Not THAT this is, etc.
posted by darth_tedious at 2:30 PM on April 28, 2009


I'm of the opinion that contention is essential for well balanced legislation and reduced corruption; and gridlock makes for a healthier pace of public policy changes.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:47 PM on April 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


Oh man darth_tedious.. I thought your correction was a correction to The Card Cheats 'he does not that' which made your correction 'Not THAT this is, etc.' totally absurd and hilarious.
posted by xorry at 3:08 PM on April 28, 2009


The GOP needs to swallow that jagged little pill, and learn.
Yeah, good luck with that. I believe that it's an official part of the Republican Party Platform that, and I quote, "Learnificatin' is the Tool of Satan".
posted by Flunkie at 3:10 PM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Those prattling on about Reid and the filibuster (vs the threat of same): please remove head from ass.

I hate the man as much as you do but a filibuster is not one hero/villain standing in front of the Senate chamber talking all day. The Senate is a deeply problematic legislative body and a poor representation of the will of the American people - indeed, of America's partisan breakdown - and the filibuster is just one more still-standing form its stupidity takes.

Oh look, it's gonna rain in Boston! Thank god. 90 degrees in April just messes up my mindbrain.
posted by waxbanks at 3:12 PM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


gridlock makes for a healthier pace of public policy changes.

If we manage not to avert serious climate change and half the major cities in the US succumb to rising sea levels, I'm going to quote you, your reduced corruption, and your healthy pace of policy change.
posted by Caduceus at 3:16 PM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


The reason why we hold modern presidents to a 100 day standard is because FDR got the New Deal through in the first 100 days.

So, the equivalency is any president that doesn't match up to the Most Amazing Thing Ever Done by a President in the History of America is somehow a minor failure at best?

People sure do love round numbers. What would we be talking about right now if we'd evolved with 8 fingers & toes, or twelve?
posted by Devils Rancher at 3:17 PM on April 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


>Oh man darth_tedious.. I thought your correction

Huh. Another day, perhaps. Statistically, if MeFi lasts forever, well, All this has happened before, and all this will happen again.
posted by darth_tedious at 3:24 PM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


What would we be talking about right now if we'd evolved with 8 fingers & toes, or twelve?

Count in base eight or twelve?
posted by kaibutsu at 3:32 PM on April 28, 2009


Mitch McConnell, leader of a Republican minority that is now even smaller, suggested Tuesday that Sen. Arlen Specter's defection endangered not just the party, but the entire country.

They really are out of ideas, aren't they.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:46 PM on April 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Before it was 100 days, George Washington used to be the standard.

Historian Gil Troy in Leading From the Center: "Washington was a muscular moderate, far shrewder than many acknowledged. Emotionally disciplined, philosophically faithful to an enlightened, democratic 'empire' of reason, Washington passionately advocated political moderation. Acknowledging his own shortcomings as a human being, he tolerated and welcomed others' views. He realized that others might reasonably reach different conclusions about important issues. Washington's idea of democratic politics was to seek common ground and blaze a centrist trail."

Hmmm....

Of course, Washington was no John Jay who after taking the office of President of the United States after Henry Laurens, served for less than a year but he helped Franklin and Jefferson complete peace negotiatins in Paris, negotiated commercial treaties with Russia and Morocco, dealt with Britain and Spain over the western boundaries of the U.S., adopted a joint arbitration process to settle disputes between the U.S. and Britain after the war, and established the "Jay Treaty," so screw Washington, that hemp smoking hippie.
(Of course, John Jay was no Nathaniel Gorham)
posted by Smedleyman at 3:46 PM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


My mother says what she loves about the Democratic Party is its disorganization. That's what democracy is, a town meeting with lots of people elbowing their way to the speaker's platform. The Democrats will have to make some sort of consensus out of their hundred opinions. In its disorder, democracy is the great

Bleh. I would rather see a a real left-wing party come up that could turn blue states competitive and prevent any party from having a real ability to completely drive the agenda. I'm not sure they would be able to field presidential candidates the (Wouldn't want to act as a spoiler) but it would be good for congressional and senate races.
posted by delmoi at 4:25 PM on April 28, 2009


If we manage not to avert serious climate change and half the major cities in the US succumb to rising sea levels, I'm going to quote you, your reduced corruption, and your healthy pace of policy change.


You think a filibuster proof majority will make the Democrats suddenly do the right thing on climate change? Obama has already stated that it makes no sense to ratify the Kyoto protocol.

I agree that reducing greenhouse emissions should be tackled on an emergency basis, but the International nature of the problem is going to require bipartisan support for solutions even with a filibuster proof majority. We're going to need to ratify Kyoto, or something like it, and more to the point implement a multilateral tariff scheme to force China to do the same. We need complete buy in on this, and I'm pretty sure we're going to have to go to some kind of geoengineering solution because there is so little time to undo the Neocon propaganda regarding global warming. Not that that's going to help with the ocean acidification.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:27 PM on April 28, 2009


FWIW, there is nothing new about switching parties, Hell Specter himself use to be a Democrat way back. The Reagan era saw a bunch of Ds turning into Rs.

For my money the measure of Speacter will be if he votes against/for Cloture. I think the Dems have enough regular votes to pass most of what they want to pass, as long as it gets to the floor, so if it gets to the floor Specter can vote anyway he wants, just don't block it is all I care about right now. 2010 is going to see the Dem majority jump to about 63-64. With any luck that'll marginalize Lieberman... Hell, I'd actually be happy with a 62 majority if Reid gets defeated and replaced as Majority Leader.
posted by edgeways at 4:31 PM on April 28, 2009


Those prattling on about Reid and the filibuster (vs the threat of same): please remove head from ass.

I hate the man as much as you do but a filibuster is not one hero/villain standing in front of the Senate chamber talking all day. The Senate is a deeply problematic legislative body and a poor representation of the will of the American people - indeed, of America's partisan breakdown - and the filibuster is just one more still-standing form its stupidity takes.

Oh look, it's gonna rain in Boston! Thank god. 90 degrees in April just messes up my mindbrain.
posted by waxbanks at 3:12 PM on April 28


oh no it would be inconvenient for the democrats

they might actually have to show up for work like the rest of us
posted by Optimus Chyme at 4:33 PM on April 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


The GOP reaction will be very important, if they react as though it’s a big blow,then the party looks weak,If they react relieved to shed the “mushy” members then we may just show we are serious about returning to the party of Reagan. either way we are still going to have an up hill battle in 2010.

What I love most of all about Republicans dreaming of "returning" to the party of Reagan is the fact that Ronald Reagan created the modern Republican party. In other words, they still are the party of Reagan - all the principles are the same, really. They seem to think they've strayed off their One True Path, by softening up or whatever, and that if only they would return to their roots, they'd be popular again. The reality is, they're the same party they've always been; it's the rest of the country that's changed.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:38 PM on April 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


You think a filibuster proof majority will make the Democrats suddenly do the right thing on climate change?

Not particularly, but previous gridlock sure as shit didn't do anything but enable global warming deniers to push us probably past the brink of fixing a serious, possibly civilization threatening problem.

Generally, I'd agree with the premise that conflict helps to create good policy, but when one party is, like all human organizations, wrong about some things, and one party is insane, radicalized, and fucking backwards and wrong about everything, you are, in fact, better off with the party that's only wrong some of the time being completely in charge.
posted by Caduceus at 4:45 PM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


@Optimus Chyme

You need to learn how a filibuster works. If there is an absence of a quorum then no business can be conducted on the senate floor. Basically this meant that all the republicans had to do to stop legislation was to note an absence of a quorum and this could be done by a single legislator.

They DO NOT need to talk for hours on end to prevent legislation from being passed. They just do that to look good.
posted by Allan Gordon at 4:48 PM on April 28, 2009


I look forward to hearing my senator's sputtering, indignant, self-righteous response to this.

That'd be Senator Richard Shelby, long-time Democrat, who switched to the GOP in the 80s when the South turned Reagan Republican red.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:50 PM on April 28, 2009


You need to learn how a filibuster works. If there is an absence of a quorum then no business can be conducted on the senate floor. Basically this meant that all the republicans had to do to stop legislation was to note an absence of a quorum and this could be done by a single legislator.

They DO NOT need to talk for hours on end to prevent legislation from being passed. They just do that to look good.


Actually, back in the day, someone would have to hold the floor to make it work. However, over time, the parties just acknowledged its existence and focused on the cloture vote to end it. The talking stopped. Eventually, in the 1970's the rules were changed. In exchange for reducing the number of votes required for cloture from 66 to 60, it was agreed that there would be no need to talk at all.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:55 PM on April 28, 2009


BitterOldPunk: "I look forward to hearing my senator's sputtering, indignant, self-righteous response to this.

That'd be Senator Richard Shelby, long-time Democrat, who switched to the GOP in the 80s when the South turned Reagan Republican red.
"

Sessions should be fine with it, though. As I recall, he's too busy hugging senior citizens, dining on grits, and leisurely drawling talking points at the Banana Docks Cafe to work up a good Southern rage about anything.
posted by Rhaomi at 5:03 PM on April 28, 2009


You need to learn how a filibuster works. If there is an absence of a quorum then no business can be conducted on the senate floor. Basically this meant that all the republicans had to do to stop legislation was to note an absence of a quorum and this could be done by a single legislator.

They DO NOT need to talk for hours on end to prevent legislation from being passed. They just do that to look good.
posted by Allan Gordon at 4:48 PM on April 28


Okay, they note absence of quorum, take a roll call, and there are sixty D's and the one lone R. That's a fucking quorum. If the one R wants to keep calling for a quorum, fucking make them do it, and demonstrate on C-SPAN2 that the lone R is a fucking liar. I'm a little rusty on my RRoO, but I'm pretty sure that one Senator of the minority party can't outmaneuver sixty Senators of the majority party.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:22 PM on April 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


You know, you can curse the rats for abandoning a sinking ship, but, at some point, you have to address the fact that the ship is sinking.

The ship appears to be sinking into an ocean of quaffable kool-aid, so I doubt it.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:25 PM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I, for one, welcome our new centerist overlords. Most of yinz don't get a vote in the PA primary, but those of us in the Commonwealth probably already had an opinion of Mr. Specter. I admit I had a hard time forgiving him for the Anita Hill thing. But after the previous constitutionally-challenged administration, I grew a whole new respect for Arlen. He drew a line. He defended the constitution even when it meant he was pissing off Republicans. Taking a stand against the opposition is easy, taking a stand against your own isn't. Not only did his enemies hate him, so did his friends, but he was right and I'm very glad he repeated drew the line in the Judiciary Committee. Welcome, Senator Spector, but I probably would have voted for you what ever ticket you ran on. I don't agree with you some times, but you're a man of principle and you have served the constitution well.
posted by Toekneesan at 6:40 PM on April 28, 2009


The ship appears to be sinking into an ocean of quaffable kool-aid, so I doubt it.

Can you elaborate?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:47 PM on April 28, 2009


This is good news for John McCain.
posted by bardic at 7:29 PM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


The USA does not have centrist overlords. Both the mainstream US political parties are right-wing parties, when compared to parties in other first-world nations.

The US is an odd duck in so many ways: it's use of imperial measurements, its incarceration rate, its Gini index, its lack of socialized healthcare, its religiousity, etcetera. In many ways, it's decades behind the rest of the first world.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:36 PM on April 28, 2009


I suppose this whole is he liberal/conservative depends on what matters to you. For me, I think how Specter voted to overturn habeas corpus. So that's how moderate he is ---conservative by the standards of 1305. All I see is, in 2010, there will be two republicans running for senator in Pennsylvania, and one of them will win.

And this filibuster bullshit. Remember how when the republicans had the majority, they were going to invoke the "nuclear option". Because the democrats were too obstructionist. And so, the dems and the repubs came up with a nice deal: the republicans wouldn't go nuclear, and in return, the democrats wouldn't filibuster. Nice to see that now that the shoe's on the other foot, the democrats refuse to force the republicans to even filibuster, let alone going nuclear. The reason's simple. While their bases are very different, the democratic politicians and republican politicians agree on a LOT. So allowing something to be destroyed by the threat of filibuster is very convenient for conservative democrats. They can effectively allow republican legislation to pass, and go to their constituents and say, "damn those dastardly republicans and their filibusters!"

Also... ahem
Dear mainstream democrats,
When an election is imminant, you howl in rage at people who would throw their vote away voting for a third party, when we all have to come together to fight the republicans. Then when a democrat gets elected, and, say, "closes" Guantanamo by moving operations to Bagram, or claims "sovereign immunity" when torture victims sue the government, you taunt us with "if you're so crazy left-wing, why didn't you vote for the greens?" As though now that (you imagine) we voted for your candidate, we give up the right to criticise him when he does the same shit the last guy did. Or we have to somehow concede that while he's actively fighting for crazy totalitarian policies, he's only had 100 days. Fine, only 100 days. Don't care. He's fighting for crazy totalitarian policies. Policies that he himself decried, and vowed to fight. Yes, he's much better than Bush. Bush is a war criminal, he belongs in prison.
posted by Humanzee at 7:39 PM on April 28, 2009 [6 favorites]


Wait a minute ... gridlock is BAD?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:00 PM on April 28, 2009


Can you elaborate?

From my time lurking on freerepublic.com, it seems that the right wing base, who refer to moderates as RINOs (Republican in Name Only) feel that once they expel all the moderates they will somehow become so pure and shiny that the American populace will flock in droves to vote Republican again, and that the only thing keeping them from voting Republican already is some kind of Democratic party bread and circuses vote buying. Marching in lockstep and staying on message seems to be the order of the day. I'm not saying the left doesn't do this as well to some extent, but when you add the siege mentality generated by losing the last election it gets a little crazy.

I get the sense that a lot of progressives will watch Fox or read the WSJ, while much of the Republican base won't even click on a link that takes them to nytimes.com.
posted by BrotherCaine at 8:19 PM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hells yes! Welcome aboard, Arlen. Thanks for leaning so hard on AG Gonzalez awhile back.

Damn, though. Now I gotta pick a new favorite Republican.
posted by EatTheWeak at 8:21 PM on April 28, 2009


Single-payer health care time? Not just yet...Well, maybe...I hope.
posted by Flex1970 at 8:22 PM on April 28, 2009


Now I gotta pick a new favorite Republican.
Um... I suggest... ummmmmmmm... that's a tough one.

Oh! Abraham Lincoln.

If you want a more recent one, I'm afraid I probably won't be able to help you.
posted by Flunkie at 8:34 PM on April 28, 2009


Maybe start with one of the Republicans for choice:

Susan Collins of Maine
Lisa Murkowski of Alaska
Olympia Snowe of Maine

As a side note, I wonder if the Democrats will be able to finally get DC voting rights to further solidify their power.
posted by BrotherCaine at 8:54 PM on April 28, 2009


Abraham Lincoln was a Republican in name only.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:55 PM on April 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


LOLEMANCIPATORZ!
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:01 PM on April 28, 2009


I once heard Chris Matthews say: 'the child is the father/mother of the man/woman.' This maxim will stick with me forever. I've been following this all day, and was really cool with Specter crossing over to the DP until Chris had another one of his moments. First, he explained how the GOP is in this position because of two 'Faustian' deals made long ago. And second, he painted a completely different picture of Specter than many may see in the next few days. This is some real shit right here.
posted by Flex1970 at 9:25 PM on April 28, 2009


"I really wish this switch would be interpreted by Republican party chiefs for what it is: a signal that the GOP has drifted so far away from being an effective political party, and that it needs to realign itself away from its fringe elements."

The thing is, most Republican leaders are essentially aristocrats, primarily white, who essentially control local -- primarily rural, Southern, or Midwest -- political fiefdoms. They're very connected to the big money interests in their region who support them, but those "fringe elements" you refer to are their base.

Indeed, I think that the GOP does a great job of aligning itself with its base, both in words and, increasingly, in policies.

It's just that their base is xenophobic, somewhat racist, and incredibly insulting and hostile to those they see as being different, both at home and abroad.

The reasonable people have changed over time, reflect their society, and believe in a separation of church and state. As such, they aren't fixated on abortion, immigration, or gay marriage... all issues that the Republican base are inflexible about.

I frankly don't see how the Republican Party can move further left, without losing their base to a 3rd party religious candidate... and I don't see how they can win back their old base otherwise. That's why they're focusing so much on astroturfing the teabaggers... they can't win on their issues, so they need to create a "grassroots" movement that serves their ends, while hopefully getting people to overlook all the baggage that would come with it.

Unfortunately for them, eight years of Bush has led to a prolonged case of outrage exhaustion. As such, criticism from the right -- or the press -- seems incredibly petty and self-serving in the midst of the current crisis.

As such, their best chance to win in the future is if Obama fails... which explains why their party is going to such extremes to keep their people voting 'no' all the time. They want to create the conditions that lead to failure... which pretty much explains their policies regarding Social Security over the past eight years. They wanted to create a crisis that would drive a solution.
posted by markkraft at 9:29 PM on April 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


While we're talking about what Obama has or hasn't accomplished in his first 100 days, in case no-one's noticed, the stock market's stopped free-falling and has been stable with the DJIA around the 8000 mark, trending upward from a floor of around 6500, and the big financial institutions have stopped toppling. Just a FYI.

"Averting a global economic collapse" was probably a little higher on his "to-do" list once he took office, altho he did come through with the puppy thing.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:09 PM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


the stock market's stopped free-falling and has been stable with the DJIA around the 8000 mark

Fundamentals are still shitty and if you ask anybody watching things they'd say this could very well be a corrective retrace before the next leg down. This past week certainly has looked like a topping pattern, and the WSJ leaking that BAC's gonna need more capital is rightfully spooking things.

FWIW I think 5 years from now we'll be closer to 1666 than 666 on the S&P but I can't totally discount the Japan or Great Depression deflationary cases. The recent recovery was largely fueled by the 10-year giving us sub-3% interest rate, AKA free money, but if the 10-year goes to back 5% or more it's going to put some very great systemic stresses in place.

We're in Terra Incognita here.
posted by mrt at 10:38 PM on April 28, 2009


Am I the only one who laughed the fuck out loud at the post title?

Christ, I'm picturing a dumpy white senator-type guy trying to sing 2 Live Crew, and trying very hard not to actually roll on the floor laughing.
posted by tehloki at 10:53 PM on April 28, 2009


Christ, I'm picturing a dumpy white senator-type guy trying to sing 2 Live Crew, and trying very hard not to actually roll on the floor laughing.

You obviously don't know Frank Lautenberg.
posted by allen.spaulding at 11:52 PM on April 28, 2009


First, he explained how the GOP is in this position because of two 'Faustian' deals made long ago.

Quite literally a Faustian deal.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:53 AM on April 29, 2009 [5 favorites]


The thing is, most Republican leaders are essentially aristocrats, primarily white, who essentially control local political fiefdoms.

Who wants to tell him about the Kennedys?
posted by rodgerd at 1:28 AM on April 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


FWIW I think 5 years from now we'll be closer to 1666 than 666 on the S&P...

So we'll be closer to the Great Fire of London than the Antichrist?

Were those just the most evil two numbers you could think of, or what?
posted by rokusan at 1:28 AM on April 29, 2009


"Who wants to tell him about the Kennedys?"

Oh, trust me... I know about Democratic aristocrats too. And the situation is similar. What's different, is who they cater to, and how they do it.

The Republicans attracts their base with conservative, xenophobic values, and on the hope by rural and suburban residents that less regulated, less taxed policies for business will create jobs, which they are oftentimes sorely in need of.

The Democrats attract their base through the promise that they'll help the working class out, while providing open, inclusive values and policies that provide for greater representation by numerous societal groups.

The big difference is, the suburbs are increasingly becoming cities in and of themselves, and are adopting the same needs and values of larger cities... and the good jobs are moving away from the traditional industrial supply chain, towards a more information and creativity-based economy, while most of the so-so jobs are in retail, with much of that being job growth in the suburbs.

The thing is, people in retail aren't that easy a target for Republicans. They tend to be more suburban than rural, are somewhat more influenced by the urban cultural environment, and they usually have a couple options on the low-end of the jobs marketplace.

What drove much of the Republican's success over the past 60 years -- the growth of suburbia and economic growth in the south, sunbelt and midwest -- is rapidly becoming a liability, as these areas become more urban and more diverse in their own right, competing for information and creativity-based jobs and workers, which usually requires -- or helps to create -- a more tolerant, open society.

Right now, the Democratic Party is where the growth is... suburban, minority, and younger voters. They are also where the economic growth is.

So, what, realistically, can the Republicans hope to do about it? It's going to be a LONG winter for them.

"The future of both parties is in the suburbs." - Rahm Emanuel

Obama Win Propelled by Votes in Fast-Growing Suburbs
posted by markkraft at 7:17 AM on April 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


666, 1666

Scare the bejeezus out of the population by a fake-ass pandemic (WHO reports 7 confirmed dead) and a crazy low-flying aircraft. Then remove the threats and hey-presto, the market soars. And look, that's exactly what has happened!
posted by five fresh fish at 7:37 AM on April 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


"My mother says what she loves about the Democratic Party is its disorganization. That's what democracy is, a town meeting with lots of people elbowing their way to the speaker's platform. The Democrats will have to make some sort of consensus out of their hundred opinions. In its disorder, democracy is the great buffer to fascism."

That used to be a pretty good description of the Republican Party. It was originally formed as a sort of ragtag coalition of many different groups. Things will eventually change, and the Dems will be more disciplined with their message and the Republicans will try to reclaim the "Big Tent" coalition.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:20 AM on April 29, 2009


The really sad part of this is not that the Republicans have moved so far to the right that they have driven Sen. Spector out, but that the Dems have moved so far to the right that Sen. Spector feels comfortable there.
posted by QIbHom at 9:19 AM on April 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


One other thing--the success or failure of individual cloture votes isn't what makes this a big deal. It is the overall effect of the fact that if party discipline holds, the dems can do what they want. This changes the negotiating positions of the parties and puts the Republicans in a much worse position in negotiations for bills that never will actually face a cloture battle.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:24 AM on April 29, 2009


...their party is going to such extremes to keep their people voting 'no' all the time...

100 Days of Opposition [video| 03:48].
posted by ericb at 9:25 AM on April 29, 2009


Obama's 100 Days Of Progress.
posted by ericb at 9:27 AM on April 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


The really sad part of this is not that the Republicans have moved so far to the right that they have driven Sen. Spector out, but that the Dems have moved so far to the right that Sen. Spector feels comfortable there.
That seems incorrect to me.

I'm certainly not saying that the Democrats are as far left as I personally would like, but the fact is that Specter has a lifetime rating of 45% from both the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Conservative Union.

He's always been on the boundary, and likely would have "felt comfortable" in either party, until recent years, during which the Republican Party has decisively and strongly moved from ordinary villainy to cartoonish super villainy.

Any purported movement of the Democratic Party's center seems trivial in comparison to how absurd the Republicans have become in recent years.
posted by Flunkie at 10:08 AM on April 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


"I am not a member of any organized party — I am a Democrat." -- Will Rogers
posted by kirkaracha at 10:22 AM on April 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


In what world is a 45% rating from the ACLU a good thing? That's an F, dammit.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:14 AM on April 29, 2009


If it helps, he apparently fails at conservativism, too.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:16 AM on April 29, 2009


Give me a break, Pope Guilty. I no more said that a 45% rating from the ACLU is a "good thing" than I said that the same rating from the ACU is.

My point, as I thought I made clear, was that he has always been -- clearly been -- between what the ACLU and the ACU would optimally want.
posted by Flunkie at 11:57 AM on April 29, 2009


That's what democracy is, a town meeting with lots of people elbowing their way to the speaker's platform.

Lots of people elbowing their way to the speaker's platform.
posted by Anything at 5:19 PM on April 29, 2009


Flunkie, I grew up in the Union wing of the Democratic Party, with Democratic Socialists and others who are now long gone, forced out by the DNC race to the middle (rather, race to the right, since they use the Limbaugh definition of "centre"). Obama would have been an Eisenhower Republican, except for his race.

Since WWI, and the illegal deportations of left wing leaders, this country's middle has been slowly sliding to the right. The last 20 years or so, that really accelerated.
posted by QIbHom at 6:20 AM on April 30, 2009


Then you also grew up with a Democratic Party that included Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms. And, actually, Arlen Specter*.

Again, I'm not saying the Democratic Party is as far left as I would like. But your insistence that Specter is only comfortable in it now because it has moved to the right, and that this is a more important factor than his uncomfortableness in the Republican Party due to its drastic move to the right, strikes me as at odds with reality.

*: not meant to imply that Specter is a viciously hateful racist scumbag.
posted by Flunkie at 7:44 AM on April 30, 2009


Yes, it did contain Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms. Like the Repubs, the Dems have narrowed down, too.

Specter is staying in office by switching parties. I don't think anyone is in denial about that. But, he left the Dems a long time ago over their policies, and only could come back because the Dems have moved to the right.

Do you really think that the Dems are the party of Jimmy Carter still? Or the party of Johnson?
posted by QIbHom at 7:50 AM on April 30, 2009


Since WWI, and the illegal deportations of left wing leaders, this country's middle has been slowly sliding to the right.

The degree to which America is to the right of the rest of the Western world really only hit me when I realized that it basically used to be illegal to be a leftist.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:06 AM on April 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Do you really think that the Dems are the party of Jimmy Carter still?
Do you really think I said or implied that?

I'm taking issue with your claim that Specter only feels comfortable there because of their move to the right, and furthermore with your implication that this is more important to his switch than the Republicans' move to the right.

I'm not taking issue with your disappointment that the Democrats are not as far left as you would like. In fact, multiple times, I've said that I agree with that. I'm also not taking issue with your claim that they've moved to the right in recent years.

Arlen Specter was a Democrat during the timeframe that you said Obama would have been an "Eisenhower Republican". The idea that he is only now comfortable with them, and that he would not have been comfortable with them previously, is absurd, regardless of whether the Democrats are or have been as far left as you or I would like.
posted by Flunkie at 8:17 AM on April 30, 2009


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