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$40bn and you get the Senate back unharmed
February 5, 2010 3:19 PM   Subscribe

[A] seminal moment in the evolution of Republican obstructionism. [A] seminal moment in the history of Congress.
Senate Held Hostage. America Held Hostage.
Richard Shelby Shuts the Government Down.

Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) has announced a "blanket hold" on 70+ scheduled executive nominations, effectively bringing the Senate to a screeching halt by defying the Senate's staid and gentlemanly tradition of unanimous consent. [T]he practical effect of a hold [...] is that the Senate may have to spend weeks on end dealing with this one bill and its amendments. [A] congressional expert [...] said he knew of no previous use of a blanket hold.

Shelby's office confirms that the holds are in retaliation for the slow progress of $40,000,000,000 in federal pork to his state. Or maybe it's because President Obama and Rahm Emanuel are stacking the appropriations deck against Alabama. The White House responds, but Republican leadership has no comment.

Has Shelby overplayed his hand; could this blow up in his face?

Just a few years ago, Shelby supported changing Senate Rules to require only a simple majority for nominees, which would eliminate the "hold" altogether.
posted by jckll (282 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Christ, what an asshole.
posted by papercake at 3:21 PM on February 5, 2010 [55 favorites]


Why should a Senator act like a statesman when all the objective forces are urging him to act like an unusually pretentious ward heeler?

Blame the game, not the player.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:23 PM on February 5, 2010 [8 favorites]


last shred, lost
posted by whimsicalnymph at 3:24 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


you forgot the batshitinsane tag.
posted by Lutoslawski at 3:24 PM on February 5, 2010 [6 favorites]


Republican leadership has no comment

If conservatives are against government waste, they'll hold Shelby to account for his actions. If conservatives are two-faced liars, they won't. Guess we'll find out which, if Obama has to bring in temporary appointees.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:26 PM on February 5, 2010 [6 favorites]


Way to do exactly the wrong thing. Congrats, republicans.
posted by odinsdream at 3:26 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


How timely to just be reading this:
Today it is at a record low. Just 45 percent of Americans have "trust and confidence" in Congress; just 25 percent approve of how Congress is handling its job. A higher percentage of Americans likely supported the British Crown at the time of the Revolution than support our Congress today.
It's a clip from a very long article by Lawrence Lessig on "how to get our democracy back" from a corrupt and corporate-finance-focused Congress.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:26 PM on February 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


According to Wikipedia, he's running opposed in his next election, so, sadly, all I can say about this:

Has Shelby overplayed his hand; could this blow up in his face?

is That's what she said.
posted by sallybrown at 3:27 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hurray! The Republican party has a new message of self reliance and fiscal responsibility for everyone in blue states.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:27 PM on February 5, 2010 [6 favorites]


He's running *unopposed*, sorry
posted by sallybrown at 3:29 PM on February 5, 2010


Wow. Ya know, this kinda makes every kid who ever took their ball and went home look like an underachiever.
posted by Pragmatica at 3:29 PM on February 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


"He also wants the Obama administration to greenlight a $45 million Shelby earmark for builing (sic) an explosive testing center in Alabama."

If I get to pick the location: Aye.
posted by vapidave at 3:29 PM on February 5, 2010 [15 favorites]


This seems like objectively valid grounds for killing the filibuster. The ability to shut down government isn't a toy, and it shouldn't be wielded by greedy children.
posted by mullingitover at 3:30 PM on February 5, 2010 [25 favorites]


More fun details, on Shelby from Wikipedia:
In 1986, Shelby won the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat held by Republican Jeremiah Denton, the first Republican elected to the Senate from Alabama since Reconstruction. He won a very close race as the Democrats regained control of the Senate. He was easily re-elected in 1992 even as Bill Clinton lost Alabama's electoral votes.

Shelby publicly feuded with Bill Clinton during the first half of Clinton's first term (1993-1994). At a meeting with Vice President Al Gore, he turned to 19 Alabama TV cameras and denounced the Clinton program as "high on taxes, low on spending cuts".

On November 9, 1994, Shelby switched his party affiliation to Republican, one day after the Republicans won control of both houses in the midterm elections, giving the Republicans a 53-47 majority in the Senate. He won his first full term as a Republican in 1998 by a large margin, and faced no significant opposition in 2004.
In looking for a citing of that quote, I found this note from Democratic Underground:
"I didn't like that," responded Clinton a few days later.

And he did something about it.

He took a $375 million program - and 90-plus jobs - from the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., and moved it to Johnson Space Center in Houston.

For good measure, when the University of Alabama's national champion football team came to the White House in March 1993, the White House gave Sen. Howell Heflin of Alabama 15 tickets for him to give to friends. It gave Shelby one ticket.
Perhaps Shelby is holding a grudge.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:31 PM on February 5, 2010 [8 favorites]


He's running *unopposed*, sorry

Don't we have some left-leaning comedians to spare in Alabama?
posted by Pragmatica at 3:32 PM on February 5, 2010


This is something they need to go after him for. Holds up the entire government for two earmarks? Please, keep doing this, asshole. This proves the point Obama's been making for the last few weeks to a T
posted by Ironmouth at 3:34 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Don't we have some left-leaning comedians to spare in Alabama?

The filing deadline was January 1. Perhaps that's why he only unleashed his dastardly plan now?
posted by sallybrown at 3:35 PM on February 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Why is this "legal but not done?" Why is filibustering and gerrymandering the same (but actualy done... by republicans)?? What the fuck, people? What kind of country are we supposed to be living in and what kind of country do we live in??

Man, I'm tired of this shit.
posted by cmoj at 3:37 PM on February 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Don't we have some left-leaning comedians to spare in Alabama?

The filing deadline was January 1. Perhaps that's why he only unleashed his dastardly plan now?


Hell, an organized write-in campaign might do well against him. Maybe the local folk like him for his efforts to get more jobs in-state, but it's a dick move.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:38 PM on February 5, 2010


Richard Shelby (R-Airbus)
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 3:38 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


In an ideal world the Democrats would pass a bill moving the $40 billion contract to another red state with a Republican Senate delegation. The Republicans can keep their defense pork, but these kinds of shenanigans should be punished.
posted by jedicus at 3:40 PM on February 5, 2010 [13 favorites]


I think the only thing that can be done is to call his bluff and have congress slow to a halt for a few weeks (but when was it ever fast, right?) which will draw a lot of attention to the issue. He'll be under a microscope the whole time too, maybe if he has any dignity left he'll drop the amendment (hardy har har, dignity).
posted by hellojed at 3:41 PM on February 5, 2010


Goddammit. I keep trying to tell people that Alabama (my home state) isn't awful, and then people like Shelby go and pull this shit.

This is why Alabamians can't have nice things.
posted by ocherdraco at 3:43 PM on February 5, 2010 [11 favorites]


Man, I'm tired of this shit.

Logged out I got this >
http://img.skitch.com/20100205-cs1dd4rbxics4fejau4pf14w5b.jpg
posted by Ramo at 3:44 PM on February 5, 2010 [6 favorites]


I can't fucking take these Republican assholes any longer. GAAAAAAARRRRRGGGGG
posted by Admiral Haddock at 3:45 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


jedicus: "In an ideal world the Democrats would pass a bill moving the $40 billion contract to another red state with a Republican Senate delegation. The Republicans can keep their defense pork, but these kinds of shenanigans should be punished."

What? No. The only reason he's able to do this is because the entire republican party is in lockstep obstructionism mode. They need to be punished severely. The only thing they understand or respect right now is brute force.
posted by mullingitover at 3:45 PM on February 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


Hey man, at least you guys have an elected Senate.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:51 PM on February 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


A theory I have yet to truly flesh out, is that all this already happened on The West Wing.
posted by timsteil at 3:53 PM on February 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


But guys! This is exactly what the founding fathers created the filibuster for, right? [INSERT ENTIRETY OF ONE THOUSAND AND ONE HAMBURGER RECIPES HERE]
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:54 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why can't the Democrats call his bluff? According this definition of a hold Shelby would have to actually filibuster in order to make his hold have any effect. Why not make him stand up there and read the phone book? Isn't filibustering a physically difficult process that can be overcome if the other side has some resolve?
posted by aburd at 3:55 PM on February 5, 2010 [29 favorites]


"... and so, class, when the Republican minority attempted to filibuster a censure vote for Senator Shelby, the Democratic Senators moved to do away with the filibuster entirely, precipitating the Congressional Crisis of 2010, which was the opening salvo of the second civil war."

"Mr. Johnson?"

"Yes, Timmy?"

"What's a Republican again?"
posted by Pragmatica at 3:55 PM on February 5, 2010 [8 favorites]


I'm surprised some people seem to take this as indicative of evidence of something primarily partisan, rather than as evidence of something primarily systematic. For instance, consider how little real banking reform is emerging from the Senate Banking Committee (that Shelby co-chairs with Dodd). Follow the money and one finds how influence is wielded, and tacit status quo expectations amount to kickbacks; any system as saturated in pork and corporate lobbying as ours is is by definition corrupt. It's a feature, not a bug.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 3:55 PM on February 5, 2010 [7 favorites]


Dangle the $40 billion like a carot. First republican to cross sides gets it, the rest get the stick.
posted by borkencode at 3:57 PM on February 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


Hey man, at least you guys have an elected Senate.

It's true that we only have a few appointed senators right now, but they represent over a quarter of the US population, so I'm not sure we're much better off.
posted by enn at 4:02 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


What? No. The only reason he's able to do this is because the entire republican party is in lockstep obstructionism mode. They need to be punished severely. The only thing they understand or respect right now is brute force.

If the Democrats try to move the $40 billion to a state bluer than Alabama, the Republicans would, in 'lockstep obstructionism mode,' easily prevent it. By promising the pork to another state with a Republican Senate delegation, those Senators at least can probably be persuaded to help pass the bill (and maybe even censure Shelby).
posted by jedicus at 4:04 PM on February 5, 2010


The fact that a Senator can win by default due to running unopposed, in a country where a governing body of 100 presides over a population of >300 million, is the most damning indictment of American democracy I've yet seen.

The Democratic Party couldn't even be bothered to conjure up a candidate for A FUCKING SENATE SEAT!! The system has failed. Because these parties have failed us.
posted by mek at 4:04 PM on February 5, 2010 [21 favorites]


I'm always shocked at how few assholes it really takes to hold up the entire democratic process - then you have to figure in the fact that so many people in congress seem to be assholes...

I think the Tea Party people have the right idea. No, I'm not advocating any of their loony, reality-averse ideology (and they have a huge, disorienting, sloppy mess of it), but the general idea that we need to move away from this dead-end two party system, start voting out the assholes (assholes of all stripes), and hopefully replace them with people worth a damn. At this point in American history, I think only a reemergence of viable third party candidates is going to stop the prevalence of unsubstantive Hollywood Access-style campaigning, cash-guzzling cronyism, and crybaby "I'm going to take my ball and bat and go home" legislating.
posted by Consonants Without Vowels at 4:05 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Utterly obscene. It's time for the Obama administration to fix bayonets and start treating the GOP like enemies. The president extended his hand to them, and it was an admirable gesture gesture on his part; the Republicans answered with clenched fists. Hopefully this will convince him there's literally zero reason to think they can be dealt with like rational adults.

If I were the president, I'd have Harry Reid declare a twenty-four hour break and use recess appointments to put every single motherfucking nominee where I wanted them. Maybe use the opportunity to bring in some people I was worried I wouldn't be able to get through Congress, too. Fuck 'em.
posted by EarBucket at 4:05 PM on February 5, 2010 [13 favorites]


So he's a member of a party who says government sucks horribly—and he's going to prove himself right!

Totally in the national interest.
posted by theredpen at 4:06 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


aburd, no one has to stand up and read the phone book anymore. They did away with that aspect of the filibuster in the 1970s.
posted by gerryblog at 4:06 PM on February 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


Isn't filibustering a physically difficult process...
It used to be. The constitution provides for unlimited debate, barring a cloture vote.
This used to mean debate, but now a senator can merely declare a filibuster.
I'm in favor of making them work for it.
posted by MtDewd at 4:07 PM on February 5, 2010 [9 favorites]


aburd: I'm completely with you, and I've been saying for months: force the Republicans to actually have to do the filibuster. Stop cowtowing to the threat, make them HAVE to actually do every obstructionist thing they threaten to do. And then put it on the news, every night. Let the nation see how obstructionist they are being. The only reason to buckle under a threat is if you feel that having that threat come true will somehow damage you, and I can't see how making a bunch of 60+ year old men follow through on their threat of non-stop filibuster can lead to anything but good. At SOME point they will want to go to the bathroom, or to break for a holiday, or want to go home to campaign, and at that instant, they will vote to move forward with the process rather than continue to obstruct, and then the Dems get to have their way.

It's not like Congress has been accomplishing all that much which will suddenly not get done if there is a filibuster.
posted by hippybear at 4:07 PM on February 5, 2010 [7 favorites]


hippybear, I hear you, but what you want is not possible under the current rules.
posted by gerryblog at 4:09 PM on February 5, 2010


HEY OBAMA,

MEET ME IN
THE PARK
OUTSIDE THE
SENATE WITH 40
BILLION DOLLARS
WORTH OF PORK.

posted by EarBucket at 4:10 PM on February 5, 2010 [13 favorites]


American democracy is very clearly, completely broken. Sorry folks.
posted by fuq at 4:16 PM on February 5, 2010


defying the Senate's staid and gentlemanly tradition of unanimous consent.

I.e. the problem is not Shelby, it's Reid. As usual.
posted by DU at 4:17 PM on February 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


I.e. the problem is not Shelby, it's Reid. As usual.

Losing Reid's seat to a Republican will be a net win for Senate Dems if it gets us somebody else as majority (knock on wood) leader.
posted by enn at 4:19 PM on February 5, 2010


At this point in American history, I think only a reemergence of viable third party candidates is going to stop the prevalence of unsubstantive Hollywood Access-style campaigning, cash-guzzling cronyism, and crybaby "I'm going to take my ball and bat and go home" legislating.

Unfortunately, that's pretty unlikely.

In the meantime, I've got some popcorn going.
posted by invitapriore at 4:20 PM on February 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Jedicus: "If the Democrats try to move the $40 billion to a state bluer than Alabama, the Republicans would, in 'lockstep obstructionism mode,' easily prevent it."

Obstructionism requires some kind of power, and right now with their minority the republicans have two obstruction tactics. 1) Filibuster. 2) Scream and cry, then hold their breath until they turn blue. So we take 1) away from them. If The democrats had done this, republicans would've been screaming to kill the filibuster, and you know what? They would've been right to do it. This is naked corruption played out in front of the country, and if they don't make a stand now then I'm not sure why I should vote for this party again. They clearly don't care to make responsible use of the power they've been entrusted with.
posted by mullingitover at 4:26 PM on February 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Naked corruption:

The unusual “blanket hold” placed on Obama administration nominees by Senator Richard Shelby, represents an effort to support a firm that has contributed more than $100,000 to the Alabama Republican over the course of his long political career, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis.

Shelby reportedly initiated the blanket hold in an attempt to back a $35 billion tanker contract for Northrop Grumman and EADS; the plane would be built in his state.

The contract had been initially awarded to the companies in 2008, but was canceled after rival Boeing protested and the Government Accountability Office upheld the protest — forcing the Defense Department to rebid the contract. Shelby has been outspoken in support of granting the contract to Northrop Grumman and EADS. Shelby and Northrop Grumman have both objected to the Defense Department’s new rebidding process.

While by all accounts a Northrop Grumman contract would create significant numbers of jobs in his home state, Shelby’s initiative is also a move to secure funding for a company that has long funded him. The fourth-term Senator has received at least $108,233 in PAC contributions to his political campaigns and leadership PAC from Northrop Grumman’s corporate PACs. This includes contributions, dating back to his first Senate election in 1986, from the company’s political action committee and from the PACs of companies that are now part of Northrop Grumman.

According to the Center analysis, this level of support ranks Northrop Grumman as the seventh most generous institutional supporter over the course of Shelby’s political career.

posted by EarBucket at 4:31 PM on February 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


Isn't filibustering a physically difficult process...
It used to be. The constitution provides for unlimited debate, barring a cloture vote.
The Constitution does no such thing.

Neither "filibuster", "unlimited debate", nor "cloture" are mentioned in the Constitution. None of these things have their origins in the Constitution, except indirectly, in that the Constitution says that each house of Congress is allowed to determine its own rules of proceedings.

And each house has determined such rules; all this crap that Shelby specifically and the Republicans in general are abusing are such self-imposed rules, not anything directly from the Constitution.
posted by Flunkie at 4:31 PM on February 5, 2010 [6 favorites]


The filibuster wasn't "abolished in the 70s", as I have mentioned before the last real filibuster was in 1992 by Al D'Amato. The Ds and Rs just came to a gentleman's agreement wherein the declaration of the intent to filibuster is acknowledged as enough to require cloture to overcome, so they didn't have to work at it anymore. It was in everyone's interest to avoid filibusters, because everyone could filibuster everything because nobody ever had a supermajority. Of course, this had the effect of making obstructionism even easier, rather than reducing it; the number of filibusters skyrocketed.

These gentlemen are all terrified of the prospect of being required to stay up late. This PDF explains in detail the nature of filibusters and cloture (and as an added bonus, holds!) and exactly why and how this is the domain of the Senate Majority Leader and is therefore all Reid's goddamn fault.
posted by mek at 4:32 PM on February 5, 2010 [20 favorites]


It's like they've crossed Republicans with 4chan and they're DoS'ing the government.
posted by GuyZero at 4:33 PM on February 5, 2010 [11 favorites]


It's like they've crossed Republicans with 4chan

That would explain Mark Foley.
posted by EarBucket at 4:36 PM on February 5, 2010 [12 favorites]


invitapriore: Unfortunately, that's pretty unlikely.

Hey, I'm not completely opposed to a two party system. I'm just opposed to the two parties we have now.
posted by Consonants Without Vowels at 4:37 PM on February 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


You actually can defeat all these holds by passing only one bill, one cuts most federal money flowing into Alabama, aside from say NASA, military, and non-discretionary spending, and say just for one year. If no Republicans agree, you've nailed them for pork barrel politics. If one agrees, Shelby must back down, and his political career is surely toast.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:37 PM on February 5, 2010


2) Scream and cry, then hold their breath until they turn blue.

We only need one of them to turn blue, then the blues will have a filibuster-proof majority to throw away again.
posted by qvantamon at 4:38 PM on February 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


"I didn't like that," responded Clinton a few days later.

And he did something about it.

He took a $375 million program - and 90-plus jobs - from the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., and moved it to Johnson Space Center in Houston.

For good measure, when the University of Alabama's national champion football team came to the White House in March 1993, the White House gave Sen. Howell Heflin of Alabama 15 tickets for him to give to friends. It gave Shelby one ticket.


That's funny because when I read this news I decided how I'd react to it were I in Obama's shoes, which would be:

1) Approve the contracts for the air-to-air tankers and explosive testing plants. Place them in Michigan.

2) To fund these plants, deduct the same amount from federal highway funds and other programs in Alabama.

3) Follow up with an executive order, by which potholes are officially renamed "Shelbyholes."

I thought this sort of thing would make me a terrible president, and I'm sure it does, but it's nice to see recent precedent for presidents responding in kind.
posted by furiousthought at 4:39 PM on February 5, 2010 [29 favorites]


Using these numbers, I roughly estimate* that $40b will buy all the pork produced by USA for over 30 years.

* by which I mean I refuse to stand by this calculation
posted by vanar sena at 4:44 PM on February 5, 2010


Go, Senator Shelby. When it comes to "speaking truth to power," few single voices have ever spoken louder. Gotta love ya, you magnificent iconclast. Here's hoping you prevail, because in the face of a trainwreck, the best thing to do, sometimes, is to derail the damn train.
posted by paulsc at 4:45 PM on February 5, 2010


"If somebody gets in your face and calls you a cocksucker, I want you to be nice. Ask him to walk. Be nice. If he won't walk, walk him. But be nice. If you can't walk him, one of the others will help you, and you'll both be nice. I want you to remember that it's a job. It's nothing personal. I want you to be nice until it's time to not be nice."

-Patrick Swayze

"Hey Kids, what time is it?"

-Howdy Doody
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:48 PM on February 5, 2010 [7 favorites]


He took a $375 million program - and 90-plus jobs - from the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., and moved it to Johnson Space Center in Houston.

I'm imagining the letter from Clinton now:

Dear 90-plus employees who lost their jobs,

Senator Shelby is a jerk. Therefore, you are fired. Why, you ask, are you punished for Sen. Shelby being a jerk? It's sort of like when the bad guy in a movie shoots a hostage. Except I'm the good guy, Sen. Shelby's the bad guy, and I'm shooting the hostages because, well, I'm not sure why I'm shooting the hostages, but them's the breaks.

Ever yours,

WJC
posted by The World Famous at 4:53 PM on February 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


because in the face of a trainwreck, the best thing to do, sometimes, is to derail the damn train.

Except instead of a trainwreck, its in the face of them not having the specific kind of coffee you drink in the dining car of the train. And instead of derailing it, he's making it go past all of the stations without stopping.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:03 PM on February 5, 2010 [7 favorites]


Well, it's usually Mississippi that gives me the occasional excuse to not be totally ashamed of living in Louisiana. Nice to see another state stepping up to the plate.
posted by localroger at 5:08 PM on February 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Go, Senator Shelby. When it comes to "speaking truth to power," few single voices have ever spoken louder.

Yeah, I don't think anyone in the Senate has "spoken truth to power" like that since Strom Thurmond in '57.
posted by EarBucket at 5:08 PM on February 5, 2010 [10 favorites]


.
posted by HuronBob at 5:12 PM on February 5, 2010


Go, Senator Shelby. When it comes to "speaking truth to power," few single voices have ever spoken louder. Gotta love ya, you magnificent iconclast. Here's hoping you prevail, because in the face of a trainwreck, the best thing to do, sometimes, is to derail the damn train.

Is this HAMBURGER?
posted by JHarris at 5:12 PM on February 5, 2010


What few dems understand is that republicans are fighting a literal war for dominance. It's not about governing or "taking care of America" it's about control of assloads of tax dollars and where to direct it.

If the last 8 years hasn't convinced any democrats that repubs have no interest in functioning government, let alone the last 12 months, nothing ever will.

this is about the divine right of republicans to rule, and their perception of democrats as usurpers.

If the dems had ANY balls, and they don't as they have proven time and again, Alabama would not get ANY federal dollars. FOR DECADES.

The repubs and dems are playing 2 different games, only the dems think it's "all politics" when in reality it's WAR.
posted by Max Power at 5:12 PM on February 5, 2010 [9 favorites]


"I'm shooting the hostages"

he didn't "shoot" them, he moved them from Alabama to Houston... not exactly a bad thing!
posted by HuronBob at 5:13 PM on February 5, 2010


he didn't "shoot" them, he moved them from Alabama to Houston... not exactly a bad thing!

Sorry, I missed the part where it said he had all of the employees relocated. Where was that part?
posted by The World Famous at 5:17 PM on February 5, 2010


That part that says it's hard to find good rocket scientists these days.
posted by stavrogin at 5:19 PM on February 5, 2010


Felis Cattus, is your taxonomic nomenclature,
an endothermic quadruped carnivorous by nature?
Your visual, olfactory and auditory senses
contribute to your hunting skills, and natural defenses.

I find myself intrigued by your subvocal oscillations,
a singular development of cat communications
that obviates your basic hedonistic predilection
for a rhythmic stroking of your fur, to demonstrate affection.

A tail is quite essential for your acrobatic talents;
you would not be so agile if you lacked its counterbalance.
And when not being utilized to aide in locomotion,
it often serves to illustrate the state of your emotion.

O Spot, the complex levels of behaviour you display
connote a fairly well-developed cognitive array.
And though you are not sentient, Spot, and do not comprehend,
I nonetheless consider you a true and valued friend.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:23 PM on February 5, 2010 [9 favorites]


Sorry, I missed the part where it said he had all of the employees relocated. Where was that part?

In a free market, labor needs to be flexible and move when circumstances change.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:23 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sorry, I missed the part where it said he had all of the employees relocated. Where was that part?

That part that says it's hard to find good rocket scientists these days.
posted by stavrogin at 5:19 PM on February 5 [+] [!]


In a free market, labor needs to be flexible and move when circumstances change.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:23 PM on February 5 [+] [!]


I see that both U and Mption are asses.
posted by The World Famous at 5:28 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just pray we can get by on the few laws we already have until they get the Senate started up again.
posted by planet at 5:30 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Saying that this "shuts down the senate" is hyperbole. They can still operate, they just can't vote on the nominations. It's still problematic, since obviously those positions need to be filled but let's not be hysterical.
posted by delmoi at 5:30 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is a great excuse for the senate leadership to annihilate the whole process and streamline confirmation so that Obama can fill the judicial backlog. They won't, because they suck, but they could.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 5:33 PM on February 5, 2010


Let it be clear, in case it isn't: holds and filibusters are conventions and if the Democratic party wished to do so, they could just steamroller over either of them in numerous ways.

The fact that no one has to do anything to announce a filibuster is simply an agreement between the two parties - the Constitution is clear that there needs to be actual debate. Even if the Republicans did muster the energy to perform a real filibuster, there are countless procedural mechanisms proposed by reputable scholars that would allow the Democratic majority to bring about a vote without cloture.

The fact is that as the majority, the Democrats control the rules. Underneath all of this is a small police force and an enforcement system and the Democrats tell this police force what to do. If the Democrats decide that, legally and procedurally, they get to shut the Republicans up and force a vote, then there is nothing that can be done - the Speaker of the House can literally have the Republicans arrested if they do not follow the procedure. The Republicans can challenge this new procedural mechanism in court later (and if so there are tons of other such loopholes) and the worst that can happen is that they will later get to do their obstructionist techniques again, they don't have to "put back" any of the votes that happened during that time.

These rules were clearly originally intended for either party to be able to slow down the business of government, not to bring it to an indefinite halt. The fact is that neither party wants to actually change anything, and therefore these rules are very convenient.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:36 PM on February 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm really not sure that I'm correctly following all the analogies, but let me try anyway:

Sometimes, when the cat barrels past the station to derail the coffee because there's no sugar or cream on the tracks, the best thing to do is to take one of these seventy nominations, open debate on it, let's say Assistant Deputy Undersecretary of Insignificance, and let that debate continue for months and months and months, however long the Republicans want, the whole time having every elected Democrat and every Democratic surrogate appearing 24/7 in every media outlet in existence flooding the press with a nonstop barrage of "Republicans want a $40 billion pork earmark, and they're stopping the entire United States government from doing anything at all until they get their $40 billion pork earmark, and they don't care that we're fighting two wars, or that we're losing jobs, or that we're in the worst fiscal crisis since who knows when, or anything else; all they care about is their $40 billion pork earmark. $40 billion pork earmark. $40 billion pork earmark. $40 billion pork earmark."
posted by Flunkie at 5:41 PM on February 5, 2010 [7 favorites]


Wait, with 25 percent of Obama's term over with, they're still confirming appointees?
posted by madajb at 5:43 PM on February 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Constitution is clear that there needs to be actual debate
What do you mean by that? Quote the Constitution being clear on this, please. Because I don't think there's anything saying anything like that. The Senate could make a rule requiring that there is never debate, if it wanted to.
posted by Flunkie at 5:46 PM on February 5, 2010


That's just politics, baby.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:47 PM on February 5, 2010


I can't wait to read Harry Reid's tersely worded letter about this.
posted by birdherder at 5:49 PM on February 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


The kossification of metafilter saddens me.
posted by Slap Factory at 6:05 PM on February 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


If the dems had ANY balls, and they don't as they have proven time and again, Alabama would not get ANY federal dollars. FOR DECADES./em>

As long as I don't have to pay any federal taxes, I'm all for that.

Oh yeah, I'm not really all for that. I like having an education and roadways. It's a perk for being part of the Union.

posted by robtf3 at 6:07 PM on February 5, 2010


I would sincerely like an explanation from Republicans as to why they do so well in states that rank 45th to 50th in most everything. Is this their ideal? Low taxes with high high school dropout rates? (Insert almost any other measurement here)
I know what the Democrats response to this is from really cynical to just mostly cynical. But are the Republicans holding up these poorly run states as ideals? Are they still blaming their problems on the days when Dixiecrats ran them (who were ideological equals to many current Republicans anyhow).
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:09 PM on February 5, 2010


But are the Republicans holding up these poorly run states as ideals?

I'm not "Republicans," so I'm probably not the person you're looking for to answer your question. But the Republicans' success in winning elections in poorly-run states is, in my estimation, similar to the Democrats' success in winning elections in poorly-run urban areas. Nobody's holding up the poorly-run whatever as an ideal. Democrats don't hold up Detroit as an ideal, and Republicans don't hold up Alabama as an ideal. Both parties do well when they campaign to people who, inexplicably, think that voting for one party or the other has something to do with their personal identity rather than with what the party actually does when in office.
posted by The World Famous at 6:19 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


If the dems had ANY balls, and they don't as they have proven time and again, Alabama would not get ANY federal dollars. FOR DECADES.

Yes, because the way to get back at a schmuck is to royally screw the 4.5 million people the schmuck has mis-served for decades.
posted by sallybrown at 6:20 PM on February 5, 2010


[A few comments removed. Please don't post piles of random crap into threads, regardless of how clever said random crapping is in context.]
posted by cortex at 6:21 PM on February 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


defying the Senate's staid and gentlemanly tradition

These gentlemen are all terrified of the prospect of being required to stay up late.


Quick, someone tell Kay Hagen, Barbara Boxer and Olympia Snowe to be more gentlemanly!

If the Democrats decide that, legally and procedurally, they get to shut the Republicans up and force a vote, then there is nothing that can be done - the Speaker of the House can literally have the Republicans arrested if they do not follow the procedure. The Republicans can challenge this new procedural mechanism in court later (and if so there are tons of other such loopholes) and the worst that can happen is that they will later get to do their obstructionist techniques again, they don't have to "put back" any of the votes that happened during that time.

I think the worst thing that could happen would be for them to regain a majority and shut the Democrats up in the same way. I think that's the biggest reason curtailing the Democrats from just seizing the reins. Though I think with this unprecedented majority, they have a reasonable argument to strong-arm a little.
posted by Red Loop at 6:26 PM on February 5, 2010


I see the sky is falling again. Good times.
posted by a3matrix at 6:28 PM on February 5, 2010


I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict that Obama's time in office will ironically not be marked by bipartisan cooperation.
posted by swift at 6:37 PM on February 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


mek, my understanding is that it's not a "gentleman's agreement" but that the rules were changed so that they don't have to talk. The D'Amato thing isn't a good reference because he wanted to stay up all night talking. No one made him.
posted by gerryblog at 6:37 PM on February 5, 2010


Yes, because the way to get back at a schmuck is to royally screw the 4.5 million people the schmuck has mis-served for decades.

They voted for him, and he and his ilk have been royally screwing 300 million of US for decades, turnabout is fair play.

I think Sherman was onto something too, for that matter.
posted by Max Power at 6:42 PM on February 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


Is this HAMBURGER?
posted by JHarris at 8:12 PM on February 5 [+] [!]

Not on my part.

But, if you're any student of the Senate, you've got to hand this week to Senator Shelby, on points, who, faced with the attitude of the young (former) Constitutional law professor (and previous partial term Senator from Illinois), at the little Republican gathering last week, where he was shown deference according to his (current) elected office, made it clear that politics, in Washington, is no "game."

Barack Obama, in his comments last week, and since, on the cusp of political failures with his "health care" iniatitive, and the rest of his first executive term, attempted an end run around an important American institution, the Senate, in a naked, smarmy grab for public approval.

Senator Shelby is just reminding him of some political lessons not covered in Obama's Constitutional law specialization.

Shelby = 1.
"Professor" Prez = 0.
posted by paulsc at 6:47 PM on February 5, 2010


Barack Obama, in his comments last week, and since, on the cusp of political failures with his "health care" iniatitive, and the rest of his first executive term, attempted an end run around an important American institution, the Senate, in a naked, smarmy grab for public approval.

Your ignorance of the workings and recent history of the American government make it somewhere between baffling and hilarious that you feel entitled to comment on them.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:58 PM on February 5, 2010 [34 favorites]


Senator Shelby is just reminding him of some political lessons not covered in Obama's Constitutional law specialization.


Oh, that's what he's doing? Now I get it.
posted by Red Loop at 7:03 PM on February 5, 2010


It's not an indictment of the GOP that Republicans pull stunts like these and get away with it, but of the people who vote or choose not to vote. Our system stumbles because we tolerate and accept as the status quo such a state of mismanagement and juvenile self-centered struggles over power and money. There may be millions who are angry, but not since the 1930s has that anger even come close to threatening the world as it's currently accepted. It would do well for American democracy to allow a great amount of figurative political blood feed that tree of liberty. Until then, we limp along.
posted by Atreides at 7:05 PM on February 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


faced with the attitude of the young (former) Constitutional law professor (and previous partial term Senator from Illinois), at the little Republican gathering last week

Just say "uppity", you'll feel better.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 7:08 PM on February 5, 2010 [48 favorites]


But, if you're any student of the Senate, you've got to hand this week to Senator Shelby

yes, but we're trying to clarify what YOU think.

made it clear that politics, in Washington, is no "game."

what kind of "quotes" are "you" using, "here?"

Barack Obama, in his comments last week, and since, on the cusp of political failures with his "health care" iniatitive, and the rest of his first executive term, attempted an end run around an important American institution, the Senate, in a naked, smarmy grab for public approval.

Do you even know what you're talking about?
posted by shmegegge at 7:09 PM on February 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


Senator Shelby is just reminding him of some political lessons not covered in Obama's Constitutional law specialization.

Much anger in him ...

But it's good to know exactly what we're dealing with here. Thanks for demonstrating that this has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with a simple wish to destroy the President.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:12 PM on February 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's not an indictment of the GOP that Republicans pull stunts like these and get away with it, but of the people who vote or choose not to vote.
That it is an indictment of those who vote (for Republicans) and those who choose not to vote does not imply that it is not an indictment of the GOP.
posted by Flunkie at 7:14 PM on February 5, 2010


Stephen Harper: amateur.
posted by klanawa at 7:22 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


If the dems had ANY balls, and they don't as they have proven time and again, Alabama would not get ANY federal dollars. FOR DECADES.

There comes a point when you've got to stop giving people the benefit of the doubt. No one is this consistently inept. The majority of Senate Democrats are getting exactly what they want: Republican obstructionism to run against and nothing done to upset the pleasant understandings into which they've entered with those who fund them.
posted by enn at 7:22 PM on February 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


"Do you even know what you're talking about?"
posted by shmegegge at 10:09 PM on February 5

I think I do, but it could be that I've just read too many Presidential biographies.

There is a point in any political struggle between a President and the Congress, where the President must, for the sake of the balance of the greater Republic, relinquish the bully pulpit, even if he believes in his cause, on the greater respect of avoiding imbalancing the Federal government. The work of the Congress is to give the President, and all other Americans, a fair hearing, and a balance of their concerns, and to call quarter, when they are not willing to do so.

Quarter is being called.

Statesmanship is the ability to respect that.
posted by paulsc at 7:23 PM on February 5, 2010


The time has come: 70+ recess appointments.
posted by archibald barisol at 7:23 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but they're not doing that.
posted by defenestration at 7:24 PM on February 5, 2010


Barack Obama, in his comments last week, and since, on the cusp of political failures with his "health care" iniatitive, and the rest of his first executive term, attempted an end run around an important American institution, the Senate, in a naked, smarmy grab for public approval.

Yeah, I mean, who cares what the public thinks about anything, right?
posted by mpbx at 7:31 PM on February 5, 2010


Are some of these nominations for security-related positions, like TSA and such? I couldn't tell from the links.
Just wondering, given that it would make the hold even more brain-blasting hypocritical.
posted by angrycat at 7:34 PM on February 5, 2010


I think I do

I think you don't. Not that any of this really matters much, but it's gratifying to see you concede that even you aren't sure if you know what you're talking about.

Statesmanship is the ability to respect that.

No, statesmanship might be the ability to accomplish that, but it has nothing to do with any ability to respect or disrespect anything. You're just babbling now. I don't think you even know what you're writing.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:34 PM on February 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


paulsc: You're really amazingly out of touch.
posted by odinsdream at 7:35 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Recess appointments don't get paid.

The kossification of metafilter saddens me.

Because obviously metafilter was a bastion of conservatism during the bush years.

Also the "make them talk" contingent annoys the hell out of me. You don't need to "talk" to filibuster if you have 41+ people involved. You just have to demand a quorum check whenever anyone calls a vote. You only need one person to even be there at time, other then that the other 40 guys don't even need to be in the building.

Also think about it, if you have 41 people, how hard would it be to keep talking, forever, in shifts?
posted by delmoi at 7:37 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also the "make them talk" contingent annoys the hell out of me. You don't need to "talk" to filibuster if you have 41+ people involved. You just have to demand a quorum check whenever anyone calls a vote. You only need one person to even be there at time, other then that the other 40 guys don't even need to be in the building.

Also think about it, if you have 41 people, how hard would it be to keep talking, forever, in shifts?
The point is not to physically wear out their vocal cords. The point is to shine a spotlight on the situation so bright that not even the American electorate could ignore it?

So they can keep demanding quorum calls over and over? While keeping one Republican Senator present in the building? So what? Let that go on for months and months. It would make them look even more absurd than if they really did read the phone book.
posted by Flunkie at 7:42 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


"... Thanks for demonstrating that this has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with a simple wish to destroy the President."
posted by octobersurprise at 10:12 PM on February 5 [+] [!]

I do not wish Barack Obama destroyed, or his Presidency to be failure. I did not vote for the man, but upon his election, he became President of the United States of America, as much in my reckoning, as in anybody else's. His success in that office is as much mine to hope for, as it is anybody else's. And I do, and have, hoped for his success as President, as much as I have ever hoped, and always hope, that a man elected President of the United States, after any stressful political campaign, will rise, above himself, and above narrow political bounds, to lead a great country, through an always uncertian future.

I've voted in every Presidential election since Jimmy Carter was elected, and on every post-Presidential election day, I've hit my knees and prayed, sincerely, for the well being and wisdom of our new President. That includes Mr. Obama.

I hope, still, he succeeds, on behalf of all of us.

But in my mind, that means, at the very least, that he must first, be willing listen to all of us, and be willing to stand down, when his own voice, unmultiplied by the Bully Pulpit, is not carrying the day.
posted by paulsc at 7:43 PM on February 5, 2010


where the President must, for the sake of the balance of the greater Republic, relinquish the bully pulpit, even if he believes in his cause, on the greater respect of avoiding imbalancing the Federal government.

Not what the Framer's had in mind and not how the system is designed. He'll relinquish the pulpit when it fails to advance his policy interests, through misuse or by competition from other actors ("Does the President imagine he was elected King?"). It's up to the other branches, through the exercise of the ambitions of each, to enforce the "balance."

Why did the Framers settle on a contraption such as that? Because they agreed nobody can be trusted to "relinquish" political advantage for the good of the Republic, but everybody can be trusted to act in the service of his or her ambition.
posted by notyou at 7:44 PM on February 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Dammit. I hate the misused apostrophe in "Framer's". Corrected the second occurrence, but not the first.
posted by notyou at 7:46 PM on February 5, 2010


paulsc, I'm genuinely not sure that I'm understanding the specifics of what you're talking about, because you seem somewhat inchoate, and you're speaking without much specificity at all.

I seem to gather, though, that you're of the opinion that Senator Shelby has unilaterally refused to allow the Senate to do its Constitutionally prescribed duty, i.e. to vote to confirm or reject nominees of the President, because Obama attempted an end run around the Senate by meeting with House Republicans (at the request of those House Republicans) and by answering questions that those House Republicans posed to him. Is that accurate?
posted by Flunkie at 7:49 PM on February 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


But in my mind, that means, at the very least, that he must first, be willing listen to all of us, and be willing to stand down, when his own voice, unmultiplied by the Bully Pulpit, is not carrying the day.

And by "all of us," you must mean Richard Shelby, who without a doubt speaks with the truest distillation of the voice of the american electorate.
posted by Hello, Revelers! I am Captain Lavender! at 7:51 PM on February 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


"paulsc knows as much about government as he does about comma usage."
posted by mpbx at 10:47 PM on February 5 [+] [!]

I'm thankful that U.S. government is not, therefore, the main milieu of grammarians and linguistic prescriptivists.
posted by paulsc at 7:53 PM on February 5, 2010


Paulsc, I hope, and shall continue to hope, that you will refrain from your bathos and honestly say, as I would have said and will hope that you someday will also share in saying, that there is no indication that Obama has actually made any "end runs", nor will he in the future, God willing. The president and congress generally have to work together to get anything done, but there are no hard-and-fast rules on capitulation for either side.
posted by Red Loop at 7:54 PM on February 5, 2010


But in my mind, that means, at the very least, that he must first, be willing listen to all of us, and be willing to stand down, when his own voice, unmultiplied by the Bully Pulpit, is not carrying the day.

Wtf does that mean? how is 59 - 41 not "carrying the day"?
posted by delmoi at 7:54 PM on February 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


But in my mind, that means, at the very least, that he must first, be willing listen to all of us, and be willing to stand down

What does this even mean? I'm guessing that it means that your under the mis-impression that we have some kind of a parliamentary system in the us, that you haven't the balls to say what you really want, or that you're drunk. Could you be a little clearer?
posted by octobersurprise at 7:55 PM on February 5, 2010


...
posted by mullingitover at 7:56 PM on February 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yes, surely this hold on appointments has everything to do with putting the president in check and not holding said appointments hostage for pet projects in his own state, as already discussed.
posted by rollbiz at 7:56 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


OK I think the pedantic wikipedia link to linguistic prescription means that paulsc is just fucking with us.
posted by Hello, Revelers! I am Captain Lavender! at 7:59 PM on February 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


"Wtf does that mean? how is 59 - 41 not "carrying the day"?"
posted by delmoi at 10:54 PM on February 5 [+] [!]

That's trivially facile, delmoi, but fails to address the reality that the House would, according to its Speaker, fail to pass the Senate version of health reform. Obama's insistence on pushing "forward" on this issue is simply a failure to reckon with the fact the issue, as he's allowed it to be framed in the national politics, is fracturing his own party.
posted by paulsc at 8:01 PM on February 5, 2010


Ok, you've got me curious - what exactly are you talking about Obama making an "end-run" around congress? Specifics, please.
posted by odinsdream at 8:02 PM on February 5, 2010


Oh, defense contractors are involved. How surprising.
(yeah, that’s not the half of it)
EarBucket (et.al) is right, it’s just naked corruption. Nothing Byzantine to it at all.

“Senator Shelby is also deeply concerned that the administration will not release the funds already appropriated to the F.B.I. to build the Terrorist Explosives Devices Analytical Center.”

And I thought TEDAC was already built. In Quantico. Years ago. Hnh.
Ok, new facility.
Look, I’m all for explosive forensics, but how much f’ing money does Redstone need? There’s overhead on top of the overhead which requires more overhead for the overhead you’re trucking in. Also we need stuff for their kids.
Their budget went from $18 million to 20, to $48 million two years ago to $87 million last year on top of the $550+ million in construction, $400+ some million of which is ONGOING base realignment construction. That’s cutting?
Goddamn, is there any money for talent and training anymore?

Anyone aware people are being put out of their fucking houses while they’re spending money like water on building projects? If my life wasn’t a John Woo film right now I’d strangle somebody.
Again – engineers give me a big hard on when they’re helping rundown IED components and making it safer for guys in the field.
But there’s less than 200 full time f’ing people in the outfit (or were) and it’s a coordinating and intelligence operation.
Know who else does that? Coordinates? Interpol. Know what their budget was a few years ago?
About $65 million dollars.

Give me a fucking break with this ‘he said’ ‘she said’ it’s the GOP’s fault, it’s the Dems fault, oh my balls are so much bigger than yours bullshit.
This is obviously just porky crap and they’re squeezing YOUR BALLS (ovaries are somewhat spherically shaped as well, so it’s gender inclusive) to make someone else jump.

Want to really protect people? Telepresence.
That would be nice. Little robot and a camera with a mechanical and electrical engineer and some experts back in the states who know everything about everything there is to know about whatever given style of whatever given gizmo strapped to whatever given explosive giving field bomb squad guys who are rotated in and out and very very very stressed the fuck out some backup in real time – yeah, that’d be better than kicking each other in the nuts and keeping some people from doing their job to build bigger buildings and more crap in whoever’s backyard.
But no, Obama’s a schmuck because he either wants the terrorists to win or he didn’t do enough before he was born to stop all this and needs to be schooled while foreign policy is contested by greedy halfwits greasing mother courage’s cart so more people can die in the future for some other bullshit war that protects no one and dumps more goddamn public money into chickenhawks’ wallets.

Christ, the world literally has to end for some people to get it. It’s not a really really big deal in and of itself, no, with this rule and that blanket blah blah. But Rome didn’t fall in a day.

Fuck it. I’m just going to blame Kurt Vonnegut from now on.
He wrote a lot of books, but he didn’t change everything in the world did he?

Hey, Kurt, fuck you. And double because you’re staying dead. Another $30 million this year for TEDAC to bring it to $116 million, because some people don’t get out of bed for less than $100 million. And there’s Vonnegut sitting in his grave not doing a damn thing about it. Just his legacy of wonderful books.
Man, I love Kurt Vonnegut.
…I’m going to go piss on his grave.
Great, great man.
The bastard.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:03 PM on February 5, 2010 [15 favorites]


All of my fantasies about having superpowers lately seem to conclude with me forcing the houses of congress to behave like decent human beings.
posted by clockzero at 8:05 PM on February 5, 2010 [6 favorites]


"But in my mind, that means, at the very least, that he must first, be willing listen to all of us, and be willing to stand down"

What does this even mean? I'm guessing that it means that your under the mis-impression that we have some kind of a parliamentary system in the us, that you haven't the balls to say what you really want, or that you're drunk. Could you be a little clearer?"

posted by octobersurprise at 10:55 PM on February 5 [+] [!]

Um, maybe, it means that when the Speaker of the House, of your own party, tells the public that she can't pass legislation your Senate supermajority passed, that you quit representing that legislation as being in America's interests.
posted by paulsc at 8:08 PM on February 5, 2010


paulsc says:

The Republicans obstructing Obama's every move = TOTALLY OK

Obama continuining to, y'know, try and do stuff in spite of said obstruction = TOTALLY NOT OK
posted by defenestration at 8:08 PM on February 5, 2010 [8 favorites]


Holy cats! Obama had a successful media day last week!

QUICKLY!

CUT OFF THE FEED!

BLOCK HIS APPOINTMENTS!

The nation is safe once again.
posted by Joey Michaels at 8:17 PM on February 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


Richard Shelby (R-Airbus)

Shelby's defense of Airbus actually seems to be one area where he's in the right.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 8:18 PM on February 5, 2010


In 1991, while working as a newspaper reporter in a tiny Alabama town, I shared a car with Senator Shelby, who was in town for a ribbon-cutting celebrating the opening of a new bridge.

That creepy old dude in the Phantasm movies? Shelby. I kept expecting a metallic sphere to spring out of his black overcoat and drill a hole in my skull.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:19 PM on February 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


tells the public that she can't pass legislation your Senate supermajority passed, that you quit representing that legislation as being in America's interests.

Surely, you don't think that the House is the sole and only judge of America's interest? No, you're too smart for that. You must mean something else.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:21 PM on February 5, 2010


Don't feed the troll.
posted by Kwine at 8:27 PM on February 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


"The Republicans obstructing Obama's every move = TOTALLY OK ..."

posted by defenestration at 11:08 PM on February 5 [1 favorite +] [!]

Sotomayor is on the Supreme Court, isn't she?

Nothing "obstructionist" about that, is there?

But she might never have made it to the Supreme Court except for the efforts of Republican Senate Leader Trent Lott (Republican), in 1998, to get her appointed by the Senate to the Federal bench, in the first place:
"...Her nomination had been pending for over a year when Majority Leader Trent Lott scheduled the vote.[97] With complete Democratic support, and support from 25 Republican senators including Judiciary chair Orrin Hatch,[97] Sotomayor was confirmed on October 2, 1998, by a 67–29 vote.[102] She received her commission on October 7.[5] The confirmation experience left Sotomayor somewhat angry; she said shortly afterwards that during the hearings Republicans had assumed her political beliefs based on her being a Latina: "That series of questions, I think, were symbolic of a set of expectations that some people had [that] I must be liberal. It is stereotyping, and stereotyping is perhaps the most insidious of all problems in our society today."[21]"
But in the end, despite her beliefs that Republicans didn't "like" her, a Republican Senate Leader pushed her appointment vote, and 25 Republican Senators thought she'd be a good judge.

And she's gone on, from there.
posted by paulsc at 8:27 PM on February 5, 2010


paulsc, in case you're not just fucking with those who are opposing your stated views, I have a question. Let's say, for the sake of argument, 51% of Americans oppose HCR. Can you allow for the fact that at least two percent of those opposing arriving at their views based on the falsehoods distributed re: HCR, e.g., death panels? And in such case, wouldn't it then be best for Obama to press on for HCR?
I mean, you've seen the numbers of the uninsured, right? And you're aware of what the costs of health care are going to do to our economy long-term, right? I guess what I'm wondering is, why isn't obvious to you that HCR is the right and necessary thing to do? And then, why isn't it imperative for Obama to press HCR forward, regardless of what Pelosi says?

On preview: Why are you applying the dynamics of the senate in 1998 to today?
posted by angrycat at 8:31 PM on February 5, 2010


The plane took off.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:34 PM on February 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


"Surely, you don't think that the House is the sole and only judge of America's interest? No, you're too smart for that. You must mean something else."
posted by octobersurprise at 11:21 PM on February 5 [+] [!]

I hope for a President, not so egoistic as to assume his vision is the only correct vision for America, who is willing to stand down from his initial beliefs, when the majority of the most representative Federal body in our government (by design) is telling him they have problems so grave as to prevent successful passage of his #1 legislative priority.

Because a President more obtuse than that invites disrepect for our Republic, and its methods.
posted by paulsc at 8:38 PM on February 5, 2010


I hope for a President, not so egoistic as to assume his vision is the only correct vision for America

At the present time, Senator Shelby is the only one so egotistic as to assume his vision is the only correct vision for America. I find that very sad and I'm sure that you'll join me in disapproving of his attempt to blackmail the federal government.

a President more obtuse than that invites disrepect for our Republic, and its methods.

Wow. You must've hated Bush.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:49 PM on February 5, 2010 [16 favorites]


"... I guess what I'm wondering is, why isn't obvious to you that HCR is the right and necessary thing to do? And then, why isn't it imperative for Obama to press HCR forward, regardless of what Pelosi says?

On preview: Why are you applying the dynamics of the senate in 1998 to today?"

posted by angrycat at 11:31 PM on February 5 [+] [!]

You know, I've never, personally, had a dog in the HCR fight, if I believed Obama's promise that I could keep the health care and health insurance I already have. And I, personally, granted him (and his party) that (that his promise would be kept, finally, on any HCR that made it through Congress) on his Inaugural Day.

To do any less would have been to wish him ill, from the git go. And I've said above, and really believe, that no American truly wins, when the President of the U.S. fails...

But, what the House passed, is not what the Senate passed. And in neither version would I, in the next 5 years, get to keep what I've already got.

It's just that simple.

Obama promised I could keep what I've got. Nothing his party passed, in either chamber, rock solid guarantees that. Much that was passed ensures that 5 years on, what I have, won't exist.

What more do I, as voter cued only by narrow personal interests, need to know?

But I've tried to get around that.

Sausage is a helluva business. Nobody gets it right in the first package.

This first package stinks to high heaven.

Doesn't mean a smart guy can't learn from his mistakes, get control of his party, listen to all of America, and come back and do something spectacular. But that would seem, to me, to require that he, first of all, quit trying to push this bad legislation forward. Simple honesty, and political decency, if he's really interested in bi-partisan governance, demands, at least, that.

Here's hoping.

And as for the 1998 thing, I just wanted to point out that Republicans do have some foresight, and the political courage, sometimes, to advance the careers of those whose immediate interests, don't seem theirs.
posted by paulsc at 8:57 PM on February 5, 2010


... Wow. You must've hated Bush.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:49 PM on February 5 [2 favorites +] [!]

No, I hoped for his success, too. But he never had a situation where a House Speaker told the American public that she couldn't pass legislation his Senate leadership had passed.

So, not the same degree of difficulty, citizenshipwise, I think.

Grin.
posted by paulsc at 9:04 PM on February 5, 2010


in the face of a trainwreck, the best thing to do, sometimes, is to derail the damn train

I hope, still, he succeeds, on behalf of all of us.


Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.
posted by minkll at 9:07 PM on February 5, 2010


what if every senator did this?

this IS NOT a partisan issue - this is a guy utterly abusing his traditional powers as a senator

censure the son of a bitch and and change the rules - or kiss a functional government goodbye
posted by pyramid termite at 9:14 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will."
posted by minkll at 12:07 AM on February 6 [+] [!]

Not so much as optimism in respect of political courage, and further optimism, perhaps unfounded, on hope for America, and political fairness.
posted by paulsc at 9:14 PM on February 5, 2010


The House and the Senate passing different flavors of the same bill is commonplace, paulsc, and that's what happened with health care reform. Generally speaking, after they have each passed a bill which the other hasn't and won't pass, they then negotiate for a compromise bill that they are both willing to agree to, and that compromise bill is what gets passed to the president's desk.

In this particular case, the election of a single Senator allowed Republicans to ensure that no compromise bill is possible. To frame this as "the House can't pass the Senate's bill, therefore the American people disagree with the President's agenda" is absurd on its face. Part of me hopes that you already know this, because it's not pleasant imagining that you honestly don't understand this obvious fact. At the same time, another part of me hopes that you honestly don't understand this obvious fact, because it's also not pleasant imagining that you're intentionally being disingenuous.
posted by Flunkie at 9:15 PM on February 5, 2010 [6 favorites]


"... censure the son of a bitch and and change the rules - or kiss a functional government goodbye"
posted by pyramid termite at 12:14 AM on February 6 [+] [!]

So, you're willing the next politco who amasses 50% +1 of the electoral vote, gets, unchallenged, unexamined, (his/her) way?

And the next? And, then, the next?
posted by paulsc at 9:17 PM on February 5, 2010


Obama promised I could keep what I've got. Nothing his party passed, in either chamber, rock solid guarantees that. Much that was passed ensures that 5 years on, what I have, won't exist.[citation needed]
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 9:20 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


And in any case, I don't understand why "the House can't pass the Senate's health care reform bill" implies "it's a good thing that a single Senator is unilaterally stopping the Senate from doing its Constitutionally prescribed duty to vote to confirm or deny the President's nominees".
posted by Flunkie at 9:22 PM on February 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


"So, you're willing the next politco who amasses 50% +1 of the electoral vote, gets, unchallenged, unexamined, (his/her) way?"

I think no one said anything like that. No one said "50% + 1" - no one said, "unchallenged" - no one said "unexamined". You're simply inventing a complete strawman.

What you're saying is that one party doesn't have a 60% supermajority in the Senate, then it should cease to do anything at all. Is this an accurate summation? If so, how do you justify this? If not, exactly what you do mean?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:24 PM on February 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


"I hope for a President, not so egoistic as to assume his vision is the only correct vision for America, who is willing to stand down from his initial beliefs, when the majority of the most representative Federal body in our government (by design) is telling him they have problems so grave as to prevent successful passage of his #1 legislative priority."

A minority of representatives are holding up the legislation. Americans want real reform in the health care industry. Unsurprisingly, the health care industry doesn' particularly want this. Republicans and those in the pocket of the health insurance industries also don't want reform. Frankly, I am very happy that Obama has chosen to stand with the people and not the special interests on this issue.

The only glib, willful obtuseness on this subject is your own.
posted by HighTechUnderpants at 9:24 PM on February 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


40 million Americans without health insurance, but the only way to measure the worth of this bill is whether nothing changes for paulsc. Good grief. It almost gives me renewed hope that he's so rattled.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 9:28 PM on February 5, 2010 [9 favorites]


paulsc, since the alleged change in your future health care is the basis of your position, what do you understand that change to be, specifically?
posted by angrycat at 9:36 PM on February 5, 2010


I hope for a President, not so egoistic as to assume his vision is the only correct vision for America

There has never been nor will there ever be such a creature.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:39 PM on February 5, 2010


"... Much that was passed ensures that 5 years on, what I have, won't exist.[citation needed]"
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 12:20 AM on February 6 [+] [!]

Obama made the promise verbally, so I feel justified in asking you to cite its explicit instantiation in either the House or Senate version of HCR. For myself, based on the House version of the bill, Section 134, among others, pretty much screws my future, and is a direct refutation of Obama's "promise."
"SEC. 134. APPLICATION TO QUALIFIED HEALTH BENEFITS PLANS NOT OFFERED THROUGH THE HEALTH INSURANCE EXCHANGE.
The requirements of the previous provisions of this subtitle shall apply to qualified health benefits plans that are not being offered through the Health Insurance Exchange only to the extent specified by the Commissioner."
Who in hell is the "Commissioner?" Who will he/she be in 2018? in 2020? in 2022? etc?
posted by paulsc at 9:40 PM on February 5, 2010


And here we see yet another example of how one man with a strong will can completely dominate the conversation of a body of people.

Folks, just give PaulSC his naval base and his anthrax-detecting mongoose training facility and he'll stop obstructing this conversation and y'all can get back to focusing on the link.
posted by Joey Michaels at 9:44 PM on February 5, 2010 [10 favorites]


"... Americans want real reform in the health care industry. ..."

posted by HighTechUnderpants at 12:24 AM on February 6 \

Not according to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, as of about 3 days ago:
"... "Don't even ask us to consider passing the Senate bill until the other legislation has passed both houses so that we're sure that it has happened, and that we know that what we would be voting for would be as effected by a reconciliation bill or whatever parliamentary initiative they have at their disposable," Pelosi said on a conference call this afternoon. ..."

posted by paulsc at 9:47 PM on February 5, 2010


The House and the Senate passing different flavors of the same bill is commonplace, paulsc, and that's what happened with health care reform. Generally speaking, after they have each passed a bill which the other hasn't and won't pass, they then negotiate for a compromise bill that they are both willing to agree to, and that compromise bill is what gets passed to the president's desk.

In this particular case, the election of a single Senator allowed Republicans to ensure that no compromise bill is possible. To frame this as "the House can't pass the Senate's bill, therefore the American people disagree with the President's agenda" is absurd on its face. Part of me hopes that you already know this, because it's not pleasant imagining that you honestly don't understand this obvious fact. At the same time, another part of me hopes that you honestly don't understand this obvious fact, because it's also not pleasant imagining that you're intentionally being disingenuous.
posted by gerryblog at 9:50 PM on February 5, 2010


Or, what Flunkie said.
posted by gerryblog at 9:51 PM on February 5, 2010


"... What you're saying is that one party doesn't have a 60% supermajority in the Senate, then it should cease to do anything at all. Is this an accurate summation? If so, how do you justify this? If not, exactly what you do mean?"
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:24 AM on February 6 [+] [!]

It is not only not an "accurate summation," it's a complete perversion of my position.

I'd like Obama to be successful, as an American President, by advancing the state of our union in areas where the body politic believes action is warranted. The body politic has heard about HCR for more than 9 months, and thinks what is being proposed by the House and Senate is political and economic hogwash.

People who still believe HCR is warranted are welcome to start over with better proposals, but the current proposals should be dismissed, so that the country can move on. We have a system that insures and pays for about 250 million Americans' health needs, apparently satisfactorily.

Holding the future threat of "revisiting" HCR under some future manipulation of House or Senate rules, over any given instantiation of House or Senate membership, is simply disingenuous insofar as reaching a national decision, via normal Constitutional means.

Moreover, it is a moral abdication of "political leadership" on the part of the President of the United States.

If you didn't like Bush's victory in the Supreme Court over Gore, you should be the first on the political ramparts, decrying further "action" on the current versions of HCR. Major changes in our social structure, you believe, shouldn't hinge on small difference in our politics. And whatever you might think of the merits of HCR, you can't, reasonably, cite it's overwhelming approval by the American body politic.

Accordingly, HCR should fail, on lack of overwhelming, visible public support.
posted by paulsc at 10:08 PM on February 5, 2010


Accordingly, HCR should fail, on lack of overwhelming, visible public support.

People support all the major components, when you poll them individually.

Moreover, it is a moral abdication of "political leadership" on the part of the President of the United States.

Political leadership doesn't mean "doing whatever is popular"
posted by delmoi at 10:19 PM on February 5, 2010 [7 favorites]


Trolling, trolling, o'er the sea so blue...
posted by five fresh fish at 10:24 PM on February 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


The body politic has heard about HCR for more than 9 months, and thinks what is being proposed by the House and Senate is political and economic hogwash.

You and the rest of your Teabagger buddies are not "the body politic".
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:25 PM on February 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'd like Obama to be successful, as an American President, by advancing the state of our union in areas where the body politic believes action is warranted. The body politic has heard about HCR for more than 9 months, and thinks what is being proposed by the House and Senate is political and economic hogwash.


You keep promoting your sincerity, so I'll take you as legit, and ask you, A) What indicators of public opinion are you citing to, specifically, and B) What on earth is economic hogwash?

And I ask you again: Do you acknowledge that HCR was misrepresented by those opposing it? And if so, doesn't your deference to a particular poll of the public give you pause, knowing that the poll was influenced by misrepresentations?

I'm biased, as A) My politics are entirely to the left on the issue and B) HCR would affect me positively, in terms of myself and people I know.

I haven't really heard you responding to the moral issues at stake here.
posted by angrycat at 10:26 PM on February 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


paulsc.

I'm confused. If your plan does not qualify as part of the Health Exchange, the consumer protections that are provided in this subtitle will only be conferred via a Commissioner. Are you arguing that you don't want consumer protections? Are you saying you'd rather not have a Commissioner provide you with increased transparency (Sec. 133) or a standardized grievance mechanism (Sec. 132)?

Do you also want lead in your gasoline because the government changed the way your car is fueled?
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 10:27 PM on February 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


"SEC. 134. APPLICATION TO QUALIFIED HEALTH BENEFITS PLANS NOT OFFERED THROUGH THE HEALTH INSURANCE EXCHANGE.
The requirements of the previous provisions of this subtitle shall apply to qualified health benefits plans that are not being offered through the Health Insurance Exchange only to the extent specified by the Commissioner."
So, you can't read, or what? I think you seem to think that that makes insurance products not sold on the exchange illegal, but in fact it only determines whether "TITLE I - Section D -- Additional consumer protections" applies to plans not offered through the exchange.

Here it is in context

The plain english meaning of that section is clear even outside of context.
posted by delmoi at 10:28 PM on February 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'm pretty blase on the whole politics thing right now, as it seems we have jellyfish on one side of every debate and complete and total shitheads on the other, but I would like to make one simple, non-partisan request. Paulsc, for the love of God, please, please learn what a comma is for. You sound like 1960s style William Shatner. It's driving me crazy. When in doubt, just do not use a comma. Just, please, just don't, just please stop killing punctuation.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:33 PM on February 5, 2010 [6 favorites]


"... People support all the major components, when you poll them individually. ..."
osted by delmoi at 1:19 AM on February 6 [1 favorite +] [!]

So, it's only when presented with all the major components, together, 2000 pages at a time, that the American people can't say to their House Representatives, unambiguously, "Pass the Senate version." ????

'Cause my experience with the American electorate, as a former poll watcher, campaigner, and city official, is that, on personal interest matters, they're never shy to speak.

And I can't think of any more personal interest matter than health care/health insurance.

Pardon me if I remain skeptical of your premise.
posted by paulsc at 10:33 PM on February 5, 2010


,
posted by ericost at 10:37 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


"... Do you acknowledge that HCR was misrepresented by those opposing it? ..."
posted by angrycat at 1:26 AM on February 6 [+] [!]

Do you acknowledge that HCR was misrepresented by those endorsing it?

How can any politician, bureaucrat, or public interest figure come to a simple Yes/No recommendation on a bill so complicated, so technical, as HCR? Much less seperate House and Senate versions?

I've spent about 300 hours in the last 3 months just reading markup of the various proposals, and I can tell you, that between the first language, and the current bills, maybe 20% of what was being talked about in October of 2009 as a possible common House/Senate compromise is still there.* That's a big, big red flag in a republic.

Not nearly enough people know what any particular "compromise" might mean, for the there to be a "measurable" public consensus.

*Purely an unscientific, personal estimate.
posted by paulsc at 10:44 PM on February 5, 2010


So, it's only when presented with all the major...

I think this is pretty relevant:
"This isn't a surprising dynamic. It happen to ClintonCare in the 1990s. It happened to immigration reform. It happens to lots of major pieces of legislation. The bills themselves become controversial and confusing. Opponents lie about them and supporters don't explain them clearly. Soon enough, the public begins to back away from them slowly, unsure if anything this confusing can possibly solve the problem. But that doesn't mean the underlying ideas become unpopular, or people stop wanting action on the problem.
...
The longer that the story is about process and smears about specific lines of text, the lower the poll numbers will drop." (via)
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 10:45 PM on February 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


paulsc, I know you're fighting a pitched battle here, but I think it's fair to point out that Trent Lott's efforts on behalf of Sotomayor were only necessary because her nomination was being stalled by an anonymous hold from a Republican senator and this was beginning to reflect poorly on the sitting GOP senator from New York.

I found that information in the paragraph immediately preceding the one you quoted. It was clearly a politically-calculated motivation, and I do not understand how you could come to the conclusion that Lott pushed the vote because he thought she'd "be a good judge."
posted by JohnFredra at 10:51 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


"...The plain english meaning of that section is clear even outside of context."
posted by delmoi at 1:28 AM on February 6 [1 favorite +] [!]

Yeah, it is, delmoi:

" only to the extent specified by the Commissioner."

And I ask, not rhetorically, again:

Who is "the Commissioner" in 2014? 2016? 2018? 2020? etc.

And further, where is Obama's ironclad promise, in no uncertian terms, that if I like what I've already got, vis a vis health insurance/health care, that I can keep it, exactly, unchanged, in either all of the Senate version language, or all of the House version?

I'm really waiting on your response.

It would get my vote, and public support, if you can find it. If you can't, it seems only fair that you'd admit it, publicly.
posted by paulsc at 10:54 PM on February 5, 2010


Actually -- you never suggested that Lott thought she'd be a good judge -- only that other Republican senators did; I apologize for mischaracterizing your statement. But I stand by my assertion that his actions were politically motivated and not due to any sense of bipartisanship.
posted by JohnFredra at 10:54 PM on February 5, 2010


hang on hang on hang on.

can we get back to how the fuck saying "i won't pass your appointees if you don't give me my pork barrel defense contract money" is speaking truth to power?

here's a guide, for those of you keeping track at home:

Speaking Truth To Power

Not Speaking Truth To Power

Speaking Truth To Power

Not Speaking Truth To Power

Speaking Truth To Power

Not Speaking Truth To Power

Speaking Truth To Power

See If You Can Guess Which
posted by shmegegge at 11:01 PM on February 5, 2010 [13 favorites]


Jesus.
posted by maxwelton at 11:06 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


"... It was clearly a politically-calculated motivation, and I do not understand how you could come to the conclusion that Lott pushed the vote because he thought she'd "be a good judge."
posted by JohnFredra at 1:51 AM on February 6 [+] [!]

I don't know, can't know, what Lott thought of Sotomayer. I doubt he ever thought she'd be a judicial conservative, or respect him, or the confirmation process, for its political components. And yet, he pushed forward her nomination, perhaps for partisn political reasons, but perhaps, as I contend, in acknowledgement of fairness of process, when his party was in the majority. His actions, in chairmanship of his majority, argue, perhaps, for my interpetation.

And yet, as much as she later protested her initial trip through confirmation, she suffered herself to be presented, again, through that process, for the Supreme Court, and is sitting there. And right or wrong, wouldn't be, if Lott had buried her earlier nomination, or, perhaps, had 2009 Repubs made enough of a stink, on partisan grounds.

Some measure of bi-partisan action existed then, in 1998, that Obama failed to inspire in 2008, or 2009. Not every historical lesson has an immediate present parallel, but when it comes to judicial appointments, both parties know that today's vote presages tommorrow's nominees. I think fair minded folk have got to see Sotomayor's Supreme court confirmation as a reasonable outreach on the part of Republicans, given her public statements about her dislike of their questions in 1998, for her Federal appointment of that era.

"... Actually -- you never suggested that Lott thought she'd be a good judge -- only that other Republican senators did; I apologize for mischaracterizing your statement. ...

Acknowledged, and thank you for your clarification.
posted by paulsc at 11:13 PM on February 5, 2010


paulsc,

Sec. 202. Exchange-Eligible Individuals and Employers.
(a) Access to coverage.—
In accordance with this section, all individuals are eligible to obtain coverage through enrollment in an Exchange-participating health benefits plan offered through the Health Insurance Exchange unless such individuals are enrolled in another qualified health benefits plan or other acceptable coverage.


You do not have access to the Health Exchange if you are otherwise covered. The Health Exchange Commission won't have authority unless you plan is part of the exchange.
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 11:14 PM on February 5, 2010


your plan, sorry.
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 11:15 PM on February 5, 2010


This all started when they let NFL coaches freeze the kicker with a timeout.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:16 PM on February 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


Dadgummit...this is in response to this: where is Obama's ironclad promise?
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 11:17 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


"You do not have access to the Health Exchange if you are otherwise covered. The Health Exchange Commission won't have authority unless you plan is part of the exchange."
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 2:14 AM on February 6 [+] [!]

I suppose you are trying to respond to my request that someone post Obama's "ironclad promise" that I can keep what I have now, in terms of health care/health insurance.

This, I'm afraid, isn't even close.

Thanks, sincerely, for trying.
posted by paulsc at 11:19 PM on February 5, 2010


So, you're willing the next politco who amasses 50% +1 of the electoral vote, gets, unchallenged, unexamined, (his/her) way?

please - how much did richard shelby get? - this has nothing to do with defying the majority will - it has everything to do with someone pimping the pork barrel for his special interests

if you can't see the utter corruption involved in this, too bad

what if every senator was to do this?
posted by pyramid termite at 11:21 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Uh...please explain why you don't believe the legislative language you use to cite your own concern.
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 11:22 PM on February 5, 2010


"... what if every senator was to do this?"
posted by pyramid termite at 2:21 AM on February 6 [+] [!]

I suppose representative government would grind to a halt, or fail entirely. As it might if a President failed to act responsibly in the face of the expressed will of the American public. But, I'm just spit-ballin' here...

Do you think that might be Senator Shelby's point, in putting on so many holds, at once?
posted by paulsc at 11:25 PM on February 5, 2010


"Who is "the Commissioner" in 2014? 2016? 2018? 2020? etc."

[...]

"And further, where is Obama's ironclad promise, in no uncertian terms, that if I like what I've already got, vis a vis health insurance/health care, that I can keep it, exactly, unchanged, in either all of the Senate version language, or all of the House version?"

posted by paulsc at 12:54 AM on February 6

What exactly will your current insurance plan offer you in 2014? 2016? 2018? 2020?

Where is your ironclad guarantee that you'll have what you have now from the wonderful private insurance conglomerates? Care to show us where in your contract it specifies "We won't change your plan, or deductibles, or premiums, ever. And like, we really mean it too"

I'm sure you know the only guarantees in life, for you to suggest that you need more smacks of insanity, with a dash of delusion. Especially since you have none now.
posted by Sportbilly at 11:32 PM on February 5, 2010 [12 favorites]


"Uh...please explain why you don't believe the legislative language you use to cite your own concern."
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 2:22 AM on February 6 [+] [!]

Well, who will be "the Commisioner" in 2012? in 2014? in 2016? in 2018? in 2020? in 2022? in 2024? in 2026? and on, in 2 year increments, as a political appointee, for the rest of my life? Please cite legislative guarantees, in either the current House or Senate versions of HCR bills, that the viewpoints, politics, and policies of said "Commissioner(s)," throughout my projected lifetime, can never impact my current health care/health insurance arrangements, of which, you know, um, know nothing?

Please be specifc, as to named individuals.
posted by paulsc at 11:33 PM on February 5, 2010


"... Where is your ironclad guarantee that you'll have what you have now from the wonderful private insurance conglomerates? Care to show us where in your contract it specifies "We won't change your plan, or deductibles, or premiums, ever. And like, we really mean it too"

I'm sure you know the only guarantees in life, for you to suggest that you need more smacks of insanity, with a dash of delusion. Especially since you have none now."

posted by Sportbilly at 2:32 AM on February 6 [+] [!]

But, of course, I haven't gone on national TV, repeatedly, with assertions suggesting that HCR is the only way to get affordable health insurance/health care for all, into the future. So, it's not incumbent on me to make your arguement, or to refute it.

You're still lacking a single citation, to make Obama's "promise" in any sense "true," and, you're failing to speak factually to even the single objection I've raised.
posted by paulsc at 11:38 PM on February 5, 2010


I have addressed this here...if your plan does not qualify as part of the Health Exchange, the consumer protections that are provided in this subtitle will only be conferred via a Commissioner.

The [consumer protection] requirements of the previous provisions of this subtitle shall apply to qualified health benefits plans that are not being offered [i.e. non-qualifying plans, perhaps like yours. I don't know] through the Health Insurance Exchange only to the extent specified by the Commissioner. You are referencing the extension to non-qualifying plans of a couple of clearly delineated (see Sec 131-3) protections. Which of these protections do you object to such that you would fear that getting them would be noticeably deleterious to your plan?

Seriously, your citation deals with potentially receiving greater plan transparency, standard grievance procedures, and fair marketing practices.
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 11:41 PM on February 5, 2010


"You're still lacking a single citation, to make Obama's "promise" in any sense "true," and, you're failing to speak factually to even the single objection I've raised."
posted by paulsc at 1:38 AM on February 6

See, there's where we disagree. I think your one point of contention is completely facetious. Sure he promised you you'd get a guarantee, if you weren't dumb enough to assume that *anything* is guaranteed in life except the two well known examples, you wouldn't be making this argument in the first place.

And since I don't think you're dumb, I think you're just using this as an excuse to object to something you don't like for some other reason, as yet unspecified.
posted by Sportbilly at 11:47 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


This all started when they let NFL coaches freeze the kicker with a timeout.

This seriously should be a penalty.

THIS ONLY WORKS AGAINST NATE KEADING IN A PLAYOFF GAME, YOU JACKASSES!

What the hell are the rest of you people talking about?
posted by dirigibleman at 11:56 PM on February 5, 2010


"... if your plan does not qualify as part of the Health Exchange, the consumer protections that are provided in this subtitle will only be conferred via a Commissioner. ..."
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 2:41 AM on February 6 [+] [!]

Heh.

You've kind of granted my point, in its entirety, in order to have anything to post, Hypnotic Chick.

If, as Obama promised, many times, I can keep my current health care/health insurance arrangements, exactly as they are, how can the sudden creation of new Federal bureaucracy, with some "Commissioner," not affect market rates and conditions for what I have now?

ONLY BY EXPRESS LEGISLATIVE GUARANTEE.

Show me my terms and price "guarantees," for my current policies/benefits/standards of care, in either the House or Senater versions of HCR, for 2012, 2014, 2016, 2018, 2020, 2022, 2024, 2026, 2028, 2030, 2032, 2034, 2036... Name your Commissioners, in each of those benefit years.

I'm ready to believe in Change We Can Believe.
posted by paulsc at 11:57 PM on February 5, 2010


You believe that when he said "you can keep your current insurance", he meant "the federal government will guarantee that your insurance company must keep your current policy exactly as it is, including the price that they charge you, for the rest of time"?

Seriously?
posted by Flunkie at 12:02 AM on February 6, 2010 [13 favorites]


I think fair minded folk have got to see Sotomayor's Supreme court confirmation as a reasonable outreach on the part of Republicans, given her public statements about her dislike of their questions in 1998, for her Federal appointment of that era.

I think we each figure that we register as fair-minded folk. Based on that article that you quoted, I still can not find any reason to believe that her confirmation was due to any sort of outreach on the part of Republicans. It was clearly a means to stem the erosion of support for the Republican senator from NY. Her statement of dissatisfaction with the process doesn't enter into it.

I think it disingenuous to suggest that the current behavior of the Republican party is in any way due to a lack of 'inspiration' from the President. Theirs is a waiting game, predicated upon the idea that a nation dissatisfied with continuing economic hardships will vote them back into power. They have no platform upon which to run if the President and the Democratic congress are able to affect any measure of meaningful improvement in people's lives.
posted by JohnFredra at 12:16 AM on February 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


What the fuck does some Republican senator holding up federal appointments so he can prostitute himself out to corporate campaign donors have to do with HCR? Do you honestly think Shelby is doing this to force Obama to drop the health care issue? Seriously?
posted by PenDevil at 12:17 AM on February 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


"You believe that when he said "you can keep your current insurance", he meant "the federal government will guarantee that your insurance company must keep your current policy exactly as it is, including the price that they charge you, for the rest of time"?

Seriously?

posted by Flunkie at 3:02 AM on February 6 [+] [!]

Why wouldn't I? Those are his literal, public promise words, as of October 15, 2008.

But you know, as of about July, 2009, even Obama didn't believe it. So if you want to make the point that the President of the United States is a HCR weasel, and that nothing he says with respect to health care reform is ironclad, have at it.
posted by paulsc at 12:27 AM on February 6, 2010


Apparently this has turned into the Paulsc filibuster thread.
How can any politician, bureaucrat, or public interest figure come to a simple Yes/No recommendation on a bill so complicated, so technical, as HCR? Much less seperate (sic) House and Senate versions?
Really this argument could apply to almost all federal legislation. And that's avoiding the more extreme examples like the Patriot Act where the vote was rushed specifically to prevent sufficient review, yet alone debate, about its content.

By contrast most of the various health care reform proposals have been floating around for almost a full year now. That's by far more time and attention than most bills normally receive, so if that's not enough time for politicians, etc. to make informed decisions, then you're arguing some abstract ideal that doesn't really apply to the real world way legislation is normally handled in this country.
Not nearly enough people know what any particular "compromise" might mean, for the there to be a "measurable" public consensus.
I'm not sure quite sure I follow the meaning or relevance of that statement, but we can measure how specific HCR proposals impact voter support/opposition to HCR in general (e.g. see pages 8 and beyond of the recent Kaiser poll - link to .pdf here.

Nate Silver breaks down the Kaiser study to show that support for HCR increases rather dramatically once people learn what is in the bill.
posted by Davenhill at 12:28 AM on February 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


PenDevil, paulsc's a longtime right-wing crank who usually just drops a turd in threads and scuttles off. He's managed 26 comments tonight; his previous 26 stretch back to last September. I'm not sure why he's decided that this thread is the one to spend all night smugging it up in. Looks like he got a burr up his butt to bitch about Obama and do that special thing right-wingers do where they pretend that their own personal damage and opinions are those of the nation, and this was the FPP that had "Obama" in it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:32 AM on February 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


"Apparently this has turned into the Paulsc filibuster thread. ..."
posted by Davenhill at 3:28 AM on February 6 [+] [!]

You maybe right, Davenhill.

Suppose I withdraw from the thread, and no one posts further until someone posts language from the Senate or House version of HCR that guarantees my current health insurance/health care arrangements, such as they are, in perpetuity?

Because I can shut up, if y'all can.
posted by paulsc at 12:34 AM on February 6, 2010


paulsc, Obama was saying that HCR wasn't going to require anyone to change their insurance if they like their current arrangement. You know that's what he was saying. And suppose that he actually *did* promise your coverage forever into perpetuity -- are you suggesting that you could rally behind that? This has become tedious.
posted by JohnFredra at 12:36 AM on February 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Why wouldn't I?
Why you wouldn't, I can't tell you. Good night.
posted by Flunkie at 12:40 AM on February 6, 2010


pauls: Does your current health insurance provider guarantee your current health insurance/health care arrangements, such as they are, in perpetuity?
posted by PenDevil at 12:44 AM on February 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


In fact does any program, anywhere in the world, offer that?
posted by PenDevil at 12:45 AM on February 6, 2010


The United Kingdom?
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:49 AM on February 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't even think programs in socialised countries will guarantee that the exact same coverage and healthcare procedures are guaranteed forever. It's not economically feasible.
posted by PenDevil at 12:52 AM on February 6, 2010


Ugh... socialised countries = countries with socialised health care.
posted by PenDevil at 12:52 AM on February 6, 2010


Sir,
I fail to see why one particular representative=the will of the people (more so than the otherwise verifiable and measurable will of the people on the issues at question.)
If this one man really were some expression of "everybody" opposing the ideas that are being spoken of towards reform, to help more Americans out... shouldn't it be "all" the republicans? Or is this one man just allowed to be on a totally different scale of patriotism?
posted by infinite intimation at 12:53 AM on February 6, 2010


Suppose I withdraw from the thread, and no one posts further until someone posts language from the Senate or House version of HCR that guarantees my current health insurance/health care arrangements, such as they are, in perpetuity?
Why? I realize you're holding this out as a sticking point, but I'm having trouble seeing this as anything other than a disingenuous attempt to make perfect the enemy of good. It is, very bluntly, an absurdist position.

Neither your employer nor your insurance company guarantees your health care coverage won't change from year to year, yet alone guarantees that it will stay exactly like it is today for all time. And really, you can't even be sure your insurance company won't ever deny you coverage on some technicality should you ever become gravely ill.

Arguing that Obama's statement (that people would be able to keep their existing coverage) requires that your health care coverage will never change -- or else he was lying -- is just silly. Good enough to derail the conversation -- which I suspect may be the entire purpose here, just like "death panels" and other distrations -- but silly nonetheless.

It's especially silly because the one thing you can almost certainly guarantee is that, without health care reform, your insurance policy rates will continue to go up in the future.
posted by Davenhill at 12:55 AM on February 6, 2010 [12 favorites]


longest derail of fail ever.
posted by clarenceism at 1:01 AM on February 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Not sure offhand how the Beveridge Plan integrates with parliamentary system in U.K... However in Canada the Right to the five Pilars of Health Care in Canada are entrenched in the constitution act, or documents of inception for the nation... I would say that so long as the nation stands generally as it is today, it would be pretty impossible to change or steal back.

#1 Public administration
#2 Comprehensiveness
#3 Universality
#4 Portability
#5 Accessibility
These are the rights of Canadians.
posted by infinite intimation at 1:02 AM on February 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


infinite intimation: But can you guarantee your taxes will never ever increase to pay for that? Or that a procedure that is covered today will continue to be covered forever and ever until the head death of the universe?
posted by PenDevil at 1:14 AM on February 6, 2010


heat death that is...
posted by PenDevil at 1:18 AM on February 6, 2010


This is hilarious. paulc is arguing that Obama didn't keep his promise that people could keep their current insurance plans because there's a possibility that the insurance company that you have now could discontinue the specific plan you have now in 15 years due to a buyout from another company. Is that right?

I think he also promised that you can keep your current doctor. Does that mean that if your doctor retires, that he broke his promise? This seems to me like a deliberately absurd analysis of his speech.
posted by demiurge at 1:29 AM on February 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


"... And suppose that he actually *did* promise your coverage forever into perpetuity -- are you suggesting that you could rally behind that? This has become tedious."
posted by JohnFredra at 3:36 AM on February 6 [+] [!]

Sure. Let's say, without me admitting or denying the facts of the issue, that my current plan, is a "super-Cadillac" plan, riding on top of a fully funded, tax-advantaged HCSA. I've locked in benefits you can't imagine, and negotiated premiums, in the 5 figure range per annum plus inflation expectations, through about 2030.

If I ever need a new liver, I'll get a good one, under my current contract. I've got health care advance directives, living wills, interlocking hospital/hospice agreements, living trusts, and teams of lawyers trained at Duke and Vanderbilt on 3 deep call.

Obamacare, as I understand it, wants to make sure I don't benefit, more than others, from such massive investment and foresight. Obamacare, as other portray it, wants to make sure no health insurance company in America can offer such a policy, much less offer it affordably. Obamacare wants to tax union members, such as auto and steel workers, for "Cadillac" plan health benefits already negotiated, in future years.

I guess I understand that you'd hate me for raising any questions regarding Obamacare. But, what's your beef with UAW workers? Or the Communications Workers of America? Or Longshoremen?

I do know that the continuing Federal debate on health insurance/health care is screwing up local state markets for such coverage. I understand that state markets for health care insurance can't function until whatever Federal programs are going to be adopted, are actually in place, if ever they will be.

In the meantime, thanks to Obama's HCR, nobody has a decent view of the future of health care insurance, or of health care costs.
posted by paulsc at 1:29 AM on February 6, 2010


"can you guarantee your taxes will never ever...
Yes, I can. My taxes go to the good Uncle.
Alas all I get is mail from the selective servicethanks for the thought though... Just thinkin' of you an' just making sure my address is up to date. In case you need me to go kill people. (keep us robot bombing more countries. it's our right to free them. for our protection. eh. what? Is it completely impossible that we are giving more people around the world the idea that we are the bad guys. Or at least not the unequivocal 'good' guys... There is so little nuance allowed in the discussion of politics today.)

But since we are thinking of cool scenarios that could let me want to let someone help me to get better protection, in case one of the genes that helps me get sick later are found by some insurance company, or from the predatory practices of the members of the health care industry, the insurance industry, providing some level of care beyond spit and ignorance, to those millions of people who are so much easier to forget than slogans... ooo wait, red tape between me and care... yeah I take that over how the Mixed model of health care providing that occurs in the US, in its thirty layers of corporation between me and Care... with the MANDATE of giving out as little care (or as cheap of care) as possible.

Can you give me a guarantee that we aren't going to end in a big rip, what's the point of health care if if we could just dissipate from reality at any moment and apparently 'theoretically, the scale factor of the universe becomes infinite at a finite time in the future.'

If you can promise me that that will never happen, then I will let you help me get coverage at a reasonable rate. Same as in town, or it's no deal.

In the end I guess it is just up to us all to care more for ourselves, and those we meet... What else can we do.
"obamacare" what? Like those flash ads that show a picture of our President, with the "doctor" hat on? Yeah, those are pretty ubiquitous(ly annoying). I would like to know who pays for them, I think they also make the "palin 2012?" ads... and they are all over sites, pretty much regardless of the content of the site, such an annoying 'bewildering talking point' ad.
posted by infinite intimation at 2:00 AM on February 6, 2010


Sure. Let's say, without me admitting or denying the facts of the issue, that my current plan, is a "super-Cadillac" plan, riding on top of a fully funded, tax-advantaged HCSA. I've locked in benefits you can't imagine, and negotiated premiums, in the 5 figure range per annum plus inflation expectations, through about 2030.

If I ever need a new liver, I'll get a good one, under my current contract. I've got health care advance directives, living wills, interlocking hospital/hospice agreements, living trusts, and teams of lawyers trained at Duke and Vanderbilt on 3 deep call.
That's some mighty fine absurdism, right there. Well done.

You know, you could have just told everyone 30 posts ago that you were just pulling their legs and weren't meant to be taken seriously.
Obamacare, as I understand it, wants to make sure I don't benefit, more than others, from such massive investment and foresight. Obamacare, as other portray it, wants to make sure no health insurance company in America can offer such a policy, much less offer it affordably.
Right, because that has affordability written all over it.

But you've won me over. It would be a crying shame if Obama's plan covered 50 million Americans who currently do not have insurance, eliminated the source of over half of all bankruptcies in this country, and reduced the cost of health care for the nation going forward if it is also resulted in a modest tax increase for the 12 Americans with health care plans like you described.

That's the modern GOP for you: the absurdist hypothetical needs of a few millionaires outweighs the real and desperate needs of hundreds of millions of working class Americans.

Good luck with that camel and needle.
posted by Davenhill at 2:01 AM on February 6, 2010 [24 favorites]


"In the meantime, thanks to Obama's HCR, nobody has a decent view of the future of health care insurance, or of health care costs."

Here's one: cost are going up. But you don't have to worry because you've negotiated an affordable rate with your provider for 20 years.
posted by PenDevil at 2:06 AM on February 6, 2010


Not sure offhand how the Beveridge Plan integrates with parliamentary system in U.K... However in Canada the Right to the five Pilars of Health Care in Canada are entrenched in the constitution act, or documents of inception for the nation... I would say that so long as the nation stands generally as it is today, it would be pretty impossible to change or steal back.

#1 Public administration
#2 Comprehensiveness
#3 Universality
#4 Portability
#5 Accessibility
These are the rights of Canadians.


Don't get me wrong, I love putting Canada on a pedestal as much as the next canuck, but there is definitely no right to health care enshrined in the constitution act 1982 (and certainly not in any of the earlier ones).
There could be an argument that they are required under s.7, the right not to be deprived of security of the person save in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice. That's how the Morgentaler case was decided, which struck down the requirements of hospital boards' approving abortions, and how Chaoulli, which struck down Quebec's ban on private insurance, was decided [in both situations, the threat both physical and psychological of delays threatened said security.

There could even be an argument under s.15, the equality guarantees, saying that wealth is an "analogous ground" to the protected classes listed and that denying health care would have the effect of discrimination on those grounds.

But I doubt either argument would work. All the cases are predicated on the health care acts [and admittedly the public belief in them as a fundamental right]. Pardon my asking, but where in the world are you getting your information?

These are the rights of Canadians.

Sorry for the derail, don't want people getting false info about health care.
posted by Lemurrhea at 4:06 AM on February 6, 2010


paulsc is simply trolling, people.

PLEASE stop feeding the troll.

PLEASE. Look, you know should know how this works. The troll will type a few words that make sense in the course of the thread, then mix in a few crazy things that they know will piss people off. Your reaction is all they care about.

They don't have belief in their words. Belief indicates caring. Trolls don't actually care about the topics of discussion. This would be like paulsc going to a MADD forum and talking about how much he likes to drink, and how it's his constitutional right to drink, goddammit. He's just trying to elicit a response. He doesn't care what he's saying, doesn't have the brain power to understand the ramifications, doesn't care about trying to have a conversation. He's simply woken up this morning and decided to have himself a little laugh at all the caring people's expense.

Stop feeding him.

Or, as paulsc would say: stop, feeding, him.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:20 AM on February 6, 2010 [13 favorites]


You may not agree with him, but paulsc absolutely means this.
posted by Wolof at 4:24 AM on February 6, 2010


Here's the thing: the Senate is a terrible, anti-democratic, outfit. No good comes from its existence, specifically because it's an anti-democratic outfit. Voters in Wyoming are 69 times more represented in the Senate than voters in California. Right now 40% of the Senators represent less than 20% of the nation.

Even getting rid of the filibuster won't fix that, though getting rid of the filibuster would be a darn good first step.

For those who say "but if we get rid of the filibuster, the next time the Republicans have a majority we couldn't stop them", I say this: 1) so what, that's how representative democracy works if they have more representatives they get their way. 2) The filibuster doesn't do much good for Democrats anyway, because Democrats don't vote as a bloc, because close to 50% of so-called "Democratic" Senators actually defect and vote for Republican legislation, never mind vote for cloture, the filibuster is pretty much an exclusively Republican tool. So scrap it.

But more important we need to change or get rid of the Senate.

We can't make it more democratic, we can't have equal representation in the Senate, because the Constitution explicitly states that the low population states would have to unanimously agree to surrender their anti-democratic advantage. That obviously isn't going to happen.

I propose, therefore, a Constitutional amendment to change the Senate into a purely ornamental body. Let Wyoming keep it's 69 times greater representation, the Senate won't be empowered to do anything. An amendment declaring that the powers of the Senate are limited to debating which state bird is best, and that it has no other powers seems like a good idea at this point.

We don't need a House of Lords screwing things up, we can't actually get rid of the blasted thing, but we can neuter it.
posted by sotonohito at 5:06 AM on February 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Some measure of bi-partisan action existed then, in 1998, that Obama failed to inspire in 2008, or 2009.

Did you just blame Obama for this current fucking massive outrage being committed against the democratic process and the near-complete standstill of government?

Spoiler: Look again. It's the Republicans. They are willing to do anything, ANYTHING, to prove that government sucks, unless that government is in the form of "earmarks." Lie, cheat, and steal included.
posted by theredpen at 5:38 AM on February 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Do you think that might be Senator Shelby's point, in putting on so many holds, at once?

i don't know, as i don't believe he's said so

i've said it before, and i'll say it now - the majority of our elected officials must be given the right to govern as that's what we elected them for

otherwise, as you've already admitted, we won't have an effective government

perhaps that's what you're after here
posted by pyramid termite at 5:50 AM on February 6, 2010


if I like what I've already got, vis a vis health insurance

Gotta ask - can you show where INSURANCE is actual healthcare? I keep asking about why people think insurance is health care, but no one explains it.

And, what does Insurance or even health care has to do with getting pork to your district?
posted by rough ashlar at 6:02 AM on February 6, 2010


4 U youngsters.

George Orwell, "Politics and the English Language," 1946
posted by rough ashlar at 6:42 AM on February 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Civil Disobedient has it right. Reading this thread makes me want to take like eight showers in a row.

Everyone who is thinking about responding to paulsc about the multivariable complications involved in health care reform and Senate procedures, please go read this thread, and try to keep in mind how impossible it was to get him to understand that he has a basic factual misunderstanding of the physics of flight. Even if we rather graciously assume that he's completely serious about all of the positions he's espoused in this thread, engaging him is like eating a cinder block.
posted by Kwine at 7:25 AM on February 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


You people are arguing with a wall. A wall with some sort of nebulous and vague super health care, an incredible love for Trent Lott, and the ability to connect Health Care Reform to the completely unrelated issue of an asshole and his pork.
posted by graventy at 7:32 AM on February 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I propose, therefore, a Constitutional amendment to change the Senate into a purely ornamental body.

You might have trouble getting 67 Senators to vote for that.
posted by EarBucket at 7:39 AM on February 6, 2010


Not surprising that as of this moment the story does not appear on FOX News.
posted by caddis at 7:49 AM on February 6, 2010


We can't make it more democratic, we can't have equal representation in the Senate, because the Constitution explicitly states that the low population states would have to unanimously agree to surrender their anti-democratic advantage. That obviously isn't going to happen.


Ah...tyranny by the states with the highest populations. Well, wait, we can trust California and Texas to make the decisions with our welfare in mind, can't we?
posted by Atreides at 8:07 AM on February 6, 2010


absalom, thanks for condensing down what I was intending to say.
posted by Atreides at 8:13 AM on February 6, 2010


Not surprising that as of this moment the story does not appear on FOX News.

Wow! I can't believe they just don't mention it . . . not even just with major spin? JC.
posted by theredpen at 8:36 AM on February 6, 2010


But in my mind, that means, at the very least, that he must first, be willing listen to all of us, and be willing to stand down, when his own voice, unmultiplied by the Bully Pulpit, is not carrying the day.

Obama: "Hey guys, I need to appoint some people to important offices so things can get done."

Shelby: "I will stop you until my district gets forty billion dollars. My district is more important than the other 434 combined, as well as the country as a whole functioning entity."

Nitwit: "BRAVO Shelby.Your speaking truth to power. Now lets see how Obongo gets the money for ACORN death camps....??"
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:41 AM on February 6, 2010 [13 favorites]


Atreides Tyranny? What, exactly, are you talking about? Individual liberty is protected from the tyranny of the majority by the Constitution. Equal representation won't change that at all.

Are you seriously proposing that the evil City Slickers will pass punitive legislation to hurt the Good And True Americans of the Heartland?

What is so horrible about the idea of one person one vote and equal representation?

What makes a person in Wyoming so special, so good, so virtuous, that they deserve 69 times the representation in government that a person in California? Why would it be so horrible to say "everyone deserves equal representation, regardless of where they happen to live"?
posted by sotonohito at 9:03 AM on February 6, 2010


Optimus Chyme: "A district is a state and a state is a district. Where's my coffee? LOOKS LIKE I MADE AN 'OBONER.'"
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:06 AM on February 6, 2010


Ah...tyranny by the states with the highest populations.

ah, 59 senators who want health care reform = tyranny

1 senator who holds up appointments so he can suck 40 billion out of the government = freedom and democracy

what a crock
posted by pyramid termite at 9:20 AM on February 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


This thread became filled with teh dumb. Ridiculous dumb, at that. Three cheers for paulsc! Hip hip hooray! Hip hip hooray! Hip hip… ah, fuckit.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:30 AM on February 6, 2010


*shuts down homeless shelter*
*gives sweetheart deal for parcel to college buddy to develop into high-priced condos in exchange for campaign contributions*
*speaks truth to power*
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:06 AM on February 6, 2010


Okay, sorry, that's too much - in all fairness, telling the hard-working and well-meaning admins on a popular and widely-beloved community weblog "fuck you" personally and repeatedly really is speaking truth to power. It's like that speech in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington where Jimmy Stewart tells everybody "fuck you."
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:08 AM on February 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


What makes a person in Wyoming so special, so good, so virtuous, that they deserve 69 times the representation in government that a person in California?

Those states with the power will never cede it and it is within their power to keep it so it isn't worth wasting your breath, even though you are right.
posted by caddis at 10:11 AM on February 6, 2010


What is so horrible about the idea of one person one vote and equal representation?

There's nothing horrible. This is exactly what happens in the House. However, our nation is not composed of one giant block of people. It's a union of fifty equal individual political units, whose inhabitants elect individuals to represent them on a national scale. Each of these representatives want what's best for their state, and would act accordingly. This whole thread is specifically oriented to this selfish behavior as seen by the wonderful senator from Alabama. If the representatives from the largest states could control the Federal process, it would happen at the expense of the smaller states. The Senate is designed in part to acknowledge the fact that all states are equal, regardless of their size.

In addition, the entire system of amendments, bicameral house, staggered elections, is designed to slow change. Our founders did not want to have a system in which radical or swift change could happen because it's not necessarily always a good thing.

In this present example, this isn't about the Senate per se, but about rules created by the Senate and an idiot Senator who prefers grandstanding over efficient government. Both of these could be and preferably should be temporary problems.


ah, 59 senators who want health care reform = tyranny - pyramid termite

Who the heck said that?

1 senator who holds up appointments so he can suck 40 billion out of the government = freedom and democracy

Or that?

I guess if defending the existence of the bicameral system makes me an apologetic for an Alabama idiot, you're right on the money. Otherwise, it's disingenuous to make such leaps of logic.
posted by Atreides at 10:11 AM on February 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


And now we're at that special part of every MeFi thread about politics where it becomes apparent that a lot of college-educated Americans slept through Political Science 101.
posted by The World Famous at 10:50 AM on February 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I am getting rather sick of a party—one that claims a monopoly on loving America—repeatedly getting elected on that basis while destroying America from the inside.

The Republicans, in case it wasn't clear.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 10:51 AM on February 6, 2010


And now we're at that special part of every MeFi thread about politics where it becomes apparent that a lot of college-educated Americans slept through Political Science 101.

Disagreeing with the wisdom of the Constitution is not ignorance of basic PoliSci.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:00 AM on February 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


PLEASE. Look, you know should know how this works. The troll will type a few words that make sense in the course of the thread, then mix in a few crazy things that they know will piss people off. Your reaction is all they care about.

Has nobody else noticed the phenomenon of the Friday Night Wingnut on the comment sections of various political weblogs? It happens with most places that have active comments: reliably, the biggest, dumbest arguments happen on Friday and Saturday night, because some guy with nothing else to do decides to go get into an internet argument over the weekend. It's such a pattern.

But then I guess you have to be sitting around on Friday nights to notice.

Hey kitty! Who's a kitty? Aw, kitty!
posted by furiousthought at 11:11 AM on February 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh hey you guise, sorry I missed the trolling but I was having a far more productive discussion with my cat. I was trying to tell Battlecat how bad of a job Obama was doing and how he wasn't listening to the people, blah blah, but she just cited this chart and I was like, damn.
posted by mullingitover at 11:44 AM on February 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Atreides You seem to think that I'm both unaware of the federal system, and supportive of it. I'm neither. I'm of the opinion that federalism is a failed experiment, and demonstrated as such by the simple fact that in order to survive in the modern world the USA has de facto abandoned any pretense that it is some sort of super-UN acting as a coalition of 50 sovereign nations. We are one nation, not fifty, the states are basically postal districts, and I think that's the way it should be. "State's rights" has never been effectively used for anything but the promotion of bigotry and the oppression of minorities. I want to see the states stripped of all pretense of sovereignty and reduced to the mere administrative and postal districts they should have been in the first place.

The only problem is that since this all happened unofficially we're burdened with remnant insanity from the very bad idea of federalism, such as the preposterous notion that a Senator represents his postal district rather than the people who voted for him.

I neither propose nor endorse the idea that certain postal districts should be granted more power than others. I do propose and endorse the idea that power ought to reside in the people, not their postal districts, and as such it is very wrong indeed to over represent the people from one postal district, and that postal districts should be stripped of all power.

I also recognize that the Senate, especially , was established to slow things down. That's a reflection of the aristocratic distrust our founders had for democracy, then a system that was almost entirely unproven, experimental, and at odds with everything that had been tried before. But this isn't 1780, we know that democracy does indeed work, and we can and should abandon the remnant bits of aristocratic distrust in democracy that remain.

Ideally we'd simply amend the Constitution to eliminate the Senate entirely, move to a unicameral system, and officially remove all powers from the states and grant those powers to the federal. If that won't work I'd settle for changing things so that the Senate has no actual power and is purely symbolic, let Wyoming have its over representation in a body that wields no power whatsoever.

As it stands, with the lower population (that is, more conservative) states over represented, and the majority of the nation effectively disenfranchised, adding the requirement that all legislation require a 60% supermajority of an already far too conservative and anti-democratic body is purely insane.

Everything else I want may be nothing but a pipe dream, but if we can't end the filibuster I genuinely do think our nation is over. Hell, the Democrats officially had that 60% supermajority and somehow they still couldn't get all of Obama's appointees authorized before his presidency was one quarter finished. The Senate, as it stands, is so horribly broken that we must either change it, or give up on America altogether.
posted by sotonohito at 11:58 AM on February 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I was trying to tell Battlecat how bad of a job Obama was doing and how he wasn't listening to the people, blah blah, but she just cited this chart and I was like, damn.

I'm not sure how impressive that is, because I'm ignorant of the whole picture: as the jobs lost rate has slowed, has the jobs found rate increased? Is unemployment down, including the people who aren't counted in the unemployment numbers because they've given up looking for work? I mean, has the hemorrhage stopped because somebody has bound the wound, or because there's not enough blood left to keep a good high pressure gush going?
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 12:35 PM on February 6, 2010


Hey kitty! Who's a kitty? Aw, kitty!

YOU'RE A KITTY!
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:48 PM on February 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Lentrohamsanin: "I'm not sure how impressive that is, because I'm ignorant of the whole picture"

The whole picture looks something like this, but the jobs lost give you an idea of the leading unemployment indicator. It's mostly showing 'jobs lost,' but when it goes into the black it's net 'jobs found.'

"I mean, has the hemorrhage stopped because somebody has bound the wound, or because there's not enough blood left to keep a good high pressure gush going?"

Yes.
posted by mullingitover at 1:15 PM on February 6, 2010


It's like that speech in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington where Jimmy Stewart tells everybody "fuck you."

Is this the Director's Cut? Where do I get my hands on this?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:36 PM on February 6, 2010


Lemurrhea, I see what you are saying, but via the Canada Health Act 1984 and subsequent additions, these provisions (and their attending definitions) are included in the elemental federal governmental powers, duties, roles, and responsibilities which are enshrined in the Constitution... This took the power over health care out of the provinces, where Statute laws could have knocked down the provisions of Single Payer Medicine (not to further derail, but is this really less on topic than some things, I don't think I was misinforming regarding Health Care)
Those five principles are both simple, and valuable.


Overall, any proposal for reforming the Canada Health Act will inevitably have to consider factors that are constitutional (distribution of powers), political (feasibility and voter approval), and economic (cost effectiveness).

In 1977, this formula of shared costs was replaced by a method of block funding based on cash transfers and tax point transfers as part of Established Programs Financing (EPF). Both federal Acts on hospital services and medical care and the requirements attached to them were retained. However, the implicit mechanism for deducting federal contributions was eliminated with the EPF, because federal funding was no longer linked to provincial government expenditures; this resulted in a proliferation of direct patient charges. For example, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia levied user charges; and extra-billing was authorized in most provinces. The federal government saw this situation as posing a threat to the principle of free and universal access to health services throughout the country. It was therefore anxious to reassert its commitment to the principle of universal health care insurance; and it relied heavily on the criterion of economic equity to justify its intervention. A document issued by Health and Welfare Canada in 1983 stated:

The Government of Canada believes that a civilized and wealthy nation, such as ours, should not make the sick bear the financial burden of health care. Everyone benefits from the security and peace of mind that come with having pre-paid insurance. The misfortune of illness which at some time touches each one of us is burden enough: the costs of care should be borne by society as a whole. That is why the Government of Canada wishes to re-affirm in a new Canada Health Act our commitment to the essential principle of universal health insurance.

This document paved the way for the Canada Health Act, which, as stated earlier, was passed on 1 April 1984. The Act combined and updated the two federal Acts of 1957 and 1966. The national principles were reaffirmed in the Act, but extra restrictions were specifically added to deter any form of direct patient charges and to provide citizens of all provinces with access to health care regardless of ability to pay.

On 1 April 1996, the Canada Health Act was linked to the Canada Health and Social Transfer (CHST), which merged EPF transfers with Canada Assistance Plan (CAP) transfers. The method of calculation adopted for the CHST was similar to that used for the EPF, and included both cash transfers and tax point transfers. The provinces had to meet all the requirements of the Act in order to be eligible for the full CHST cash transfer. Since 1 April 2004, the Canada Health Act is linked to the Canada Health Transfer (CHT). The CHT resembles its predecessor; it is made up of both cash and tax point transfers, and its cash component is subject to the requirements of the Canada Health Act. In contrast to the CHST, however, the CHT is expressly dedicated to health care.

D. The Requirements Stipulated in the Act

The Canada Health Act sets out nine requirements that provincial governments must meet through their public health care insurance plan in order to qualify for the full federal cash contribution under the CHT. These nine requirements include five criteria, two specific provisions and two conditions. The five criteria, which are often referred to as the
“national principles,” are public administration, comprehensiveness, universality, portability, and accessibility; they apply to insured health services. The two specific provisions relate to user charges and extra-billing for insured health services. The two conditions pertain to the provision of provincial information and provincial recognition of federal contributions; they apply to both insured health services and extended health care services.

posted by infinite intimation at 1:57 PM on February 6, 2010


"I guess this is just another lost cause, Mr. Paine. All you people don't know about lost causes. Mr. Paine does. He said once they were the only causes worth fighting for, and he fought for them once, for the only reason that any man ever fights for them. Because of just one plain, simple rule, "Fuck you"..."
posted by cog_nate at 1:57 PM on February 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sotonohito, you essentially want to overthrow the state and national political system that has existed for more than two hundred years. I won't try and debate this issue, other than to state that I believe we are still a country of many states. While there are many things that Americans in California have in common with Americans in Nebraska, there are some things they don't. As plainly obvious on Metafilter, there can be highly contrasting points of view on different subjects and these points of view can sometimes be correlated to the region in which people live in. So long as we have the Senate, it dissipates the power of one group of people forcing their will on another. Sometimes it's for good, sometimes it's not. Part of our democratic philosophy in the US is that the majority should not be allowed so easily to dominate the minority.

It seems the heart of your grief is less with the system, but the incompetence that is the Democratic Party. I'm a Democrat, and I find it utterly dumbfounding the level to which the party cannot achieve specific goals. Yes, part of it is due to Democrats being elected from more conservative states, but the Republicans rarely had problems getting more liberal members to vote the party line. It's less the over representation and more the Senate Democrats. This problem is less present in the House only because years of gerrymandering has resulted in essential "safe" districts for both parties with fewer conservative or liberal districts being contested and sending correlating representatives to the House.
posted by Atreides at 2:40 PM on February 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Atreides: "So long as we have the Senate, it dissipates the power of one group of people forcing their will on another."

That's one way of putting it, another way would be to say that it means that it takes a much smaller number of corrupt individuals to totally block any kind of progress or justice.
posted by mullingitover at 3:12 PM on February 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Atreides wrote So long as we have the Senate, it dissipates the power of one group of people forcing their will on another.

No, so long as we have the Senate it enables the most reactionary and conservative elements of society to have an artificial expansion of their power that they shouldn't, and to hold back our nation from achieving what it can, and to prevent it from living up to its own mythology.

While there are many things that Americans in California have in common with Americans in Nebraska, there are some things they don't. As plainly obvious on Metafilter, there can be highly contrasting points of view on different subjects and these points of view can sometimes be correlated to the region in which people live in.

Yeah? So? Sounds like every other place on the planet, and somehow they manage without artificially giving extra power to low population areas so the reactionary/conservative people there can screw over the rest of the country.

You think the people living in Alsace are identical to the people in Paris?

Or the people from Hokkaido are identical to the people of Kyushu?

Yet, somehow, they manage to have a nation without giving artificially high representation to the people from low population areas.

Again: people from Wyoming do not deserve and should not have 69 times more power in Washington than people in California. Any system which says "the people in this area should have more power than the people in this other area" is horribly messed up and should be changed immediately.

It seems the heart of your grief is less with the system, but the incompetence that is the Democratic Party.

Not really. Yes, it'd be easier to take the inherent unfair and anti-democratic nature of the Senate if the Democrats could get their act together. But it wouldn't change the fact that the Senate is a very bad idea, and an idea that artificially empowers conservatives.

If we had equal representation the Republican party and conservatism in general would be forgotten in a few years. You seem to think that's bad, that the idea that the majority of people in our nation should be able to reform our laws and make our nation more just is somehow wrong. I don't understand that attitude.

More to the point, it's simply and plainly wrong to say "people here are given more say in government than people over here". The fact that I'm on the losing side of that proposition makes it sting, but it'd be just as wrong if I were on the winning side.
posted by sotonohito at 3:36 PM on February 6, 2010


Or the people from Hokkaido are identical to the people of Kyushu?

Yet, somehow, they manage to have a nation without giving artificially high representation to the people from low population areas.


Actually, this has been a problem in Japan since the 1970s:
In the early 1980s, as many as five times the votes were needed to elect a representative from an urban district compared with those needed for a rural district. Similar disparities existed in the prefectural constituencies of the House of Councillors. The Supreme Court had ruled on several occasions that the imbalance violated the constitutional principle of one person-one vote. The Supreme Court mandated the addition of eight representatives to urban districts and the removal of seven from rural districts in 1986. Several lower house districts' boundaries were redrawn. Yet the disparity is still as much as three urban votes to one rural vote.
posted by armage at 4:10 PM on February 6, 2010


I love the folks saying this is all about Republicans. The Dems have had a super majority and gotten nothing changed. It's not dems or repubs....it's all of them.

The only thing sadder than what this guy is doing is the fact that some people here think the other side has anyone but their own interests at heart.
posted by toekneebullard at 4:52 PM on February 6, 2010


That's one way of putting it, another way would be to say that it means that it takes a much smaller number of corrupt individuals to totally block any kind of progress or justice. -mullingitover

Likewise, it'd allow a smaller number of non-corrupt individuals from allowing greater corruption or injustice. The rules of the Senate which dictate required votes for X or Y are that, rules of the Senate. They can be removed or altered. Essentially, the Senate can be a simple majority vote on nearly everything if it desired, preventing any type of minority blocking of progress in Senate proceedings.

No, so long as we have the Senate it enables the most reactionary and conservative elements of society to have an artificial expansion of their power that they shouldn't, and to hold back our nation from achieving what it can, and to prevent it from living up to its own mythology.-Sotonohito

It's delaying, not holding back. There's a difference. The Senate will reflect the sustained will of the people to achieve something so long as that will is carried on over a four year period (2/3 of Senate will have been up for vote by then). The more Americans want something done the more likely it will happen. You're falling into a trap using terms like reactionary and conservative, which can easily be replaced with revolutionary and liberal. You imply in your last paragraph that such labels shouldn't matter, but you do focus on them.

Yeah? So? Sounds like every other place on the planet, and somehow they manage without artificially giving extra power to low population areas so the reactionary/conservative people there can screw over the rest of the country.

Are there historical precedents in Japan and France for their provinces to be treated as equal partners? Are these nations composed of what were independent self-governing political unities who agreed to come together to form one nation? The European Union is a better example, and it's struggling with the process of giving smaller countries equal footing with the countries with larger populations. They haven't yet found a satisfactory solution, but it's the same problem which was presented to the Founders. The solution they devised has worked relatively well ever since.

If we had equal representation the Republican party and conservatism in general would be forgotten in a few years. You seem to think that's bad, that the idea that the majority of people in our nation should be able to reform our laws and make our nation more just is somehow wrong. I don't understand that attitude.

Can I borrow your crystal ball? There's no way to speculate that abolishing the Senate will magically result in the equal vanquishing from history of the GOP and conservatism. Again and again, you keep on focusing on the Republicans and conservatism. It seems to underlie your resentment more than you acknowledge, willingly or not. View the system from an apolitical stance, where it can help or hinder either side of the political spectrum. It simply insures that one, smaller states don't get screwed over easily by the larger states, and two, change doesn't happen quickly. It should not be overnight, because as easily as good change can happen, so can bad change.

I want our nation to have the ability to reform our laws and become more just, and it does have that ability; just not at the pace you advocate.
posted by Atreides at 5:13 PM on February 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


atreides, there's not any political, social or economic logic behind the dotted lines that create our states - it was pretty much done in the 19th century by people who gave little thought to whether those lines described any real differences, and certainly had no conception of what they would mean for the 21st century

our system of government is becoming antiquated and unable to respond to the realities it must deal with

unfortunately, i don't see an easy, constitutional way to fix that - but if it goes on long enough and becomes serious enough, people will have to find another way

i'd be surprised if it was still the same in a 100 years
posted by pyramid termite at 7:49 PM on February 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I saw a cool map the other day that showed the results of a USA divided into equal-population states. And to be frank, it lolled a helluva lot more sensible.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:15 PM on February 6, 2010


Looked, even.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:15 PM on February 6, 2010


If it's the same one I saw, it makes the same goddamn mistake that most such attempts- and the current lines- make, which is putting a line somewhere in the Chicago-Gary region.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:00 PM on February 6, 2010


wrote The Senate will reflect the sustained will of the people to achieve something so long as that will is carried on over a four year period (2/3 of Senate will have been up for vote by then). The more Americans want something done the more likely it will happen.

Well, no, actually. Because of the way the Senate is structured, that simply isn't true.

Because, since the small population states have the same representation as the large population states, and the people in small population states tend to be conservative in general, it is perfectly possible for the people in the low population states, which are more numerous than the large population states, to thwart the will of the majority of Americans.

As long as a small category of Americans have disproportionate power it is possible for them to prevent entirely, not merely delay, progress. Which is why giving people more power than their numbers merit is a bad idea.

All that stuff about the states being "equal partners" is nonsensical. Maybe back in 1770 that was the case, maybe back then people thought of themselves as "Virginians" or "New Yorkers", rather than "Americans", but that isn't the situation today. We are a single nation, we're just a single nation that happens to give too damn much power to people from low population states.

But, if the sacred principle of "equal partners" is so damn important, fine, let's merge a bunch of the low population states so they've got the same population for their Senators as everyone else. Who needs two Dakotas? Or both Wyoming and Kansas? Once we've merged enough postal districts that their population approaches those of the disenfranchised states they can have all the "equal partnership" they want.

History is nice, but this is just plain crazy. We aren't a super-EU made up of fifty sovereign nations, not in reality. We're a single nation with fifty districts and some history that gives some of those districts too damn much power. Pretending that somehow today is the same as 1770, that somehow the US is a super UN made of fifty sovereign nations, is just plain not an accurate reflection of reality.
posted by sotonohito at 4:27 AM on February 7, 2010


The Senate will reflect the sustained will of the people to achieve something so long as that will is carried on over a four year period

This statement is false on its face. Given that senators representing about 11% of the population can force a filibuster, less than two-thirds of eligible voters actually vote, and it only takes half of the vote to win an election (and sometimes just a plurality), we're talking about a group the size of Pennsylvania's population being able to hijack legislation supported by 295 million other Americans.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 4:39 AM on February 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hit post too soon, sorry.

I realize that, due to the insane structure of the Senate,the reality that no one is ever going to willingly surrender power they don't deserve, and the fact that the Constitution can only be changed by a supermajority of states not people, nothing I wrote up there will ever happen.

Which, I think is one reason why America may well be ending.

But the very least that can be done is ending the farce of the filibuster. Allowing a minority of a minority to derail the majority is so insanely stupid I can't believe that the filibuster lasted this long.

We may not get true equal representation, not least because even people who theoretically believe in justice and equality are apparently devoted to the monumentally stupid and awful system we currently have, but at least getting rid of the filibuster is in the realm of possibility.

Though, I'll be honest, I don't see it happening either. Here and elsewhere I've heard nominally liberal people suggest that the filibuster is a good thing, that it may help liberal causes later [1], etc.

Frankly, I'm growing increasingly convinced that my nation is doomed.

[1] Yeah, right. The Democrats, not being a party with anything even faintly resembling party discipline, never really filibuster anything of importance.
posted by sotonohito at 4:39 AM on February 7, 2010


Because, since the small population states have the same representation as the large population states, and the people in small population states tend to be conservative in general

This tendency, while real, is milder than you might think. Using population data from 2003 (I has it), Republicans currently control 41% of the Senate while representing 36% of the population. Not nothing, but not a drastic difference. Small states like Delaware and RI and Vermont, and big states like Texas and half of Florida, help even out that score.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:26 AM on February 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


End of the weekend and FOX News still hasn't covered this story, at least on their website. Fair and balanced, or dogmatic GOP machine? They like to say that the news part is neutral, and only the talk shows are right falling. The facts belie this lie, but then everyone knows that facts have a left leaning bias.
posted by caddis at 10:26 PM on February 7, 2010


FOX is still trying to figure out if their angle is "THIS IS BULLSHIT OKAY" or "YEAH THAT'S WHAT WE BELIEVE YOU LIBERAL FASCIST ELITISTS!"
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:48 PM on February 7, 2010


I can't even choke down the bile long enough to think of anything to say about this.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:55 AM on February 8, 2010


"Why All Americans Should Thank Sen. Shelby" (from NPR)
posted by saulgoodman at 10:42 AM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Looks like Shelby blinked and lifted most of the holds. "Mr. Shelby still has holds on three nominees whose jobs would be related to the tanker project. They are Terry A. Yonkers, nominated for assistant secretary of the Air Force; Frank Kendall III, for principal deputy under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics; and Erin C. Conaton, for under secretary of the Air Force."
posted by jedicus at 9:53 PM on February 8, 2010


"Looks like Shelby blinked and lifted most of the holds." ...
posted by jedicus at 12:53 AM on February 9 [+] [!]

I wouldn't say Shelby "blinked," any more than I'd say "Obama won," just because the NYT reported the majority of Shelby's appointment holds lifted, for the time being. As even the NYT reported in the article you linked:
"... In a statement, Mr. Shelby’s spokesman, Jonathan Graffeo, disputed that characterization. The holds, he said, were “to get the White House’s attention on two issues that are critical to our national security,” a refueling tanker that would add jobs in Mobile and an F.B.I. antiterrorism center to be built in Alabama. ..."
Any Senator, including Shelby, can put new holds on Adminstration appointees, tomorrow, with or without public comment, in response to how he/she feels the White House understands the importance of certian issues to the American public.

Perhaps the elected occupant of the White House now understands that point of Senate procedure, and Shelby has reason to believe he does.

Standing far outside snowbound Washington on a Monday night, how are we poor simple citizens to know all?

But here is hoping, in a late White Christmas, all Washington, D.C.'s residents develop a level of inter-personal good will, and an understanding of the national interests, not lately, in 2009, seen.
posted by paulsc at 1:23 AM on February 9, 2010


I'm also waiting, 274 comments into this thread, for anyone to post the instantiation of Obama's "promise" that I can keep the health insurance/health care arrangements I now have, regardless of HCR, in either the House or Senate bills, as passed, language.

I don't think it's there, folks. And in reading a lot of markup language to date, I don't think it ever was.
posted by paulsc at 1:30 AM on February 9, 2010


Are you sure you aren't waiting underneath the bridge for the three billy goats gruff to cross, so you can eat them?
posted by Kwine at 5:38 AM on February 9, 2010


I'm still waiting for paulsc to explain what happens when an airplane tries to take off while on a conveyor belt going the other way.
posted by shmegegge at 7:58 AM on February 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Poor Paul. No one takes him seriously. Dude must feel so unloved!
posted by five fresh fish at 9:17 AM on February 9, 2010


I'm still waiting for paulsc to explain what happens when an airplane tries to take off while on a conveyor belt going the other way.
posted by shmegegge at 7:58 AM on February 9


Still hilarious. "Fucking BarcaLounger pilots, with their physics models, and their demonstrations, and their nationally-televised proofs. I won't believe it until I see it with my own eyes, and even then I will never ever ever ever talk about it again."
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:42 AM on February 9, 2010


Shelby Lifts most holds

Now that he has gotten Obama's attention, Graffeo said, "Sen. Shelby has decided to release his holds on all but a few nominees directly related to the Air Force tanker acquisition."

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Friday, "If you needed one example of what's wrong with this town, it might be that one senator can hold up 70 qualified individuals to make government better because he didn't get his earmarks."

Graffeo denied that Shelby's demands revolved around earmarks. Regarding the Air Force tankers, the spokesman said Shelby "is seeking to ensure an open, fair and transparent competition that delivers the best equipment to our men and women in uniform."

Graffeo said the explosives center would help the FBI deal with a 20-year backlog in "forensic evidence that could help us identify and hunt down terrorists."

"Sen. Shelby is fully justified in his concern that the Obama administration is seeking to rescind funds already appropriated for this vital national security purpose," Graffeo said.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said last week that Shelby's move was holding up about 70 appointments, including a critical top Defense Department position overseeing deployments to the war in Afghanistan.

A senior member of the Appropriations Committee, Shelby has built his career on steering spending earmarks to Alabama.

Shelby can't single-handedly defeat Obama's nominations. But by forcing time-consuming votes on each one, he can delay them indefinitely.

posted by Comrade_robot at 1:21 PM on February 9, 2010


I'm also waiting, 274 comments into this thread, for anyone to post the instantiation of Obama's "promise" that I can keep the health insurance/health care arrangements I now have, regardless of HCR, in either the House or Senate bills, as passed, language.

Perhaps you would like to respond to my on-topic question I posed to you:

"Ok, you've got me curious - what exactly are you talking about Obama making an "end-run" around congress? Specifics, please."
posted by odinsdream at 1:55 PM on February 9, 2010


Obama ‘wins showdown’ with Republicans as the Senate confirms 27 of his high-level nominees.
posted by homunculus at 1:08 PM on February 12, 2010


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