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Is Our Democrats Learning, Part the Infinity

[ 94 ] April 10, 2017 |

charlie football

It’s a real wonder that the Democrats never actually kick the football.

Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) said Monday that, if Democrats regain control of the Senate and the White House, they will reverse Republicans’ change to the filibuster rules for Supreme Court nominees.

On Thursday, the Senate voted on party lines to change those rules so that votes to confirm high court nominees could proceed without what previously was the 60 votes necessary to end debate on the nominations.

In 2013, Democrats voted for the same rule change, but only for lower court and executive branch nominees.

“When the Democrats return to the majority and capture the presidency, which we will, that day is going to arrive, we will restore the 60-vote margin,” Markey told MSNBC’s Katy Tur. “We will ensure that, for the Supreme Court, there is that special margin that any candidate has to reach because that is essential to ensuring that our country has a confidence in those people that are nominated, rather than just someone who just passes a litmus test.”

Great idea! 60 votes for a Democratic nominee and 51 for a Republican is a sure ticket for success!!

The investment of liberals in process places them at a severe disadvantage in dealing with an extremist party like the modern Republicans.

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  • liberal

    What can account for this kind of criminal stupidity?

    • Liberalism, to be blunt.

      In other words, liberals really want to believe the government works and believe in the processes by which the government works. This is a very good thing you are dealing with an opposing party who has this same belief. If you don’t, it’s completely hopeless.

      • mojrim

        The opposition needs to be a political party not, as the GOP has become, a revolutionary movement.

        • How do you think that is going to work out for you?

        • djw

          A responsible political party may have to hand torches and oily rags to arsonists once in a while, but they sure as hell don’t go out of their way to do so.

        • vic rattlehead

          If the only solution you have is to unilaterally disarm and kowtow, then whatever norm you want to preserve isn’t worth it.

          • los

            Restore the 60 vote cloture rule after confirming a 25 year old equivalent of Elizabeth Warren.

            /too obvious?

      • Gregor Sansa

        I am deeply invested in designing political processes that work. And I’m not that dumb.

        So I think the answer is: liberalism, plus stupidity. It’s just that the latter is never the limiting reagent.

        • Dilan Esper

          Yeah.

          Look, there are norms liberals really should uphold even if we have to do it unilaterally. (For instance, Democrats shouldn’t conduct a 4 year campaign of completely baseless witch hunt investigations of Trump administration officials just because Republicans do this when a Democrat is President.)

          But those have to do with moral issues. It’s immoral to adopt Joe McCarthy’s tactics just because we don’t agree with conservatives in the executive branch. So we don’t do it. But there’s nothing immoral about a 51 vote threshold for SCOTUS nominations. It just broke a norm and replaced it with a new one.

          • gyrfalcon

            (For instance, Democrats shouldn’t conduct a 4 year campaign of completely baseless witch hunt investigations of Trump administration officials just because Republicans do this when a Democrat is President.)

            I could only wish that the Democratic party was reduced to investigations on the grounds of baseless witch hunts anytime before January 2021.

          • Morse Code for J

            If Democrats are so lucky as to retake either the House or the Senate in the next term, I feel confident that there will be enough plainly guilty Trump administration officials that we don’t need to waste our time trumping up charges against others whose guilt is less obvious.

          • twbb

            The main problem is the Democrats are terrible at trying to get the benefits of upholding norms. If they’re going to go that route then they have to capitalize on it constantly differentiate themselves in public between the Dems and the GOP.

            The avatar of Democrat campaign strategy seems to be a 27-year-old white upper-middle-class liberal arts major smugly assuring us that next election the voters will remember all the bad things the Republicans have done.

            Democrats need a 24/7 constant communication strategy; they in essence have to constantly narrate what’s going on.

            • pseudalicious

              Yes. Like, to be honest, Democrats — and liberalism in general — needs a propaganda effort. “Enjoy the weekend? Thank liberals.” “Glad your kid isn’t breathing in poisonous fumes every day? Thank a liberal.” Etc.

      • DiTurno

        Nah. Markey’s just saying that. He’s smart enough to know the GOP would never approve any Dem.

        • efgoldman

          Markey’s just saying that.

          I’d yell at him, but I don’t live in MA anymore. He first ran for senate after we moved.
          Maybe Liz Warren will beat some sense into him.

        • bw

          Even if this is just cynical posturing (trying to seem like the adults in the room), it’s stupid and bad politics. The number of voters who will hear Markey say this and think “yay, a bipartisan-inclined adult who’s going to bring back the good old days of Senate collegiality and compromise” is trivial. People who aren’t Broderite ninnies don’t care, like Washington’s VSP do, about preserving processes and informal norms and polite fictions (i.e., that the GOP is not a radical Christianist neo-Confederate party but a genteel center-right group of RockefellerBurkeans. What real people care about is product, not process.

          • WigFlipper

            Nobody cares about process either way. Only lanyard-wearing beltway dorks think this is a good thing, but only blog reading lefties like us think it’s a bad thing. The vast majority of voters will never hear this story, and only a small set of those who do won’t have it move the needle.

            • bw

              It’s true that most won’t ever hear about the story – which is why it’s dumb for Markey to be saying this. It’s bad if he believes it and genuinely wants to put it into practice, and it’s merely pointless if he doesn’t believe it but is only putting on a show for the dorks who do.

          • Ahuitzotl

            No, there’s one constituency that prizes bipartisanship and is full of Broderite ninnies, the media.

      • Rusty SpikeFist

        Has there ever been a political party with such contempt for its own voters as the post-1990 Democrats?

        • Judas Peckerwood

          Has there ever been a political party with such contempt for its own voters as the post-1990 Democrats?

          No, and I’ve worked in the belly of that particular beast for the past 25 years, so I’ve had an up-close view of just how fucked up things are.

        • los

          Rusty SpikeFist says:

          Has there ever been a political party with such contempt for its own voters as…

          Yes. Republicans – though they treat 99.x% of voters with brutal abuse. GOP contempt is just a canned cherry on the top.

      • Murc

        In other words, liberals really want to believe the government works and believe in the processes by which the government works. This is a very good thing you are dealing with an opposing party who has this same belief. If you don’t, it’s completely hopeless.

        This is a rather baffling statement from someone who has been strongly committed in all of his writings on the labor movement to using the government to achieve good results, which rather depends on a belief that either the government does work or can be made to work and that one should be engaged in the processes which make that happen.

        • daves09

          I was going to say don’t be needlessly obtuse but your record indicates you need to be obtuse, otherwise you might get it.
          Of course now we get to debate what “it” is.

        • liberalrob

          Government cannot be made to work if nearly half the people in the country elect representatives who make it their life’s goal to prevent it from working. It especially cannot be made to work if those representatives of those people manage to gain control of all three branches of our government.

          I only disagree with one part of Loomis’ analysis, on a narrow basis. Modern Republicans do in fact believe in a process by which government works, as long as that process always yields their preferred results. If the process ever results in adverse outcomes from their point of view, then that process is deemed illegitimate and they will “reform” it until it once again yields their preferred outcomes. In other words, they are rabidly hyperpartisan to the point of actually burning down the village in order to “save” it.

          • Murc

            What you describe are political and social impediments to government actually working, for a very narrow definition of working, and have nothing at all to do with it being “hopeless” to believe that the government either can or should work.

    • rfm

      An overabundance of good faith.

    • Marlowe

      There are only three possibilities:

      1. Markey is lying but thinks this BS sounds good to the mainstream media.

      2. Markey is a political idiot.

      3. Markey has been playing the long game for decades and is actually a Republican mole.

      Of course, I am hoping for number one, but given the sad performance of Dems for decades, the smart money is on number 2.

      BTW, abolition of the filibuster (for legislation too) is fine by me. Just as a matter of objective values, the filibuster is a deeply undemocratic tool and, despite all the faux piety we heard last week, it is not rooted in the Constitution and, at least in spirit, violates the intentions of the Framers, who knew how to provide for a super majority when they wanted one. I grew up politically in the ’60s when the filibuster (still pretty much in its original Mr. Smith form) was almost exclusively a tool of the southern Democratic segregationists who used it to oppose civil rights legislation. The word had the vilest connotations and filibuster reform was always on the liberal agenda and was partially achieved in the ’70s when the votes required for cloture was reduced from 2/3 to 3/5.

      In the short term, it may hurt the Democrats somewhat (though not as much as you might think–raise your hand if you think Schumer and the Democratic caucus have the balls, stomach, or staying power of McConnell and friends). The filibuster as it has evolved since the ’80s into (as the media infuriatingly often put it) the “sixty-vote threshold required in the Senate,” has almost exclusively been a Reputhuglican tool to block Democrats Good riddance to bad rubbish.

      • Downpuppy

        Markey is from Malden, and is not a moran.
        He’ll be fine with blowing up the filibuster if the Republicans stall a mainstream nominee for no good reason.

        • liberalrob

          There’s no reason the Dems can’t reinstitute the filibuster and later blow it up again if necessary. Once the established norms and customary rules fall by the wayside, all’s fair.

          • twbb

            Of course there is. It looks much, much worse to install then remove the filibuster than it does to let it stay removed.

    • twbb

      “Forget all the other day times, this time I’m SURE the voters will reward us for being bipartisan.”

  • humanoid.panda

    Believe it or not, but back in 2013 republicans were vowing they will restore the filibuster. No one believed them back then, and no should believe Merkley now. But sure, we are all innocent bunnies about tinge rolled by the republican steamroller.

    • xq

      Yeah, there’s no way Dems will restore the filibuster. Dems probably would have eliminated it themselves if Clinton won with a small senate majority. This is meaningless.

      • Phil Perspective

        Dems probably would have eliminated it themselves if Clinton won with a small senate majority.

        Eliminated it for what? Supreme Court justices? The whole damn thing?

        • xq

          Supreme Court justices. Not much point in getting rid of legislative filibuster without the House.

    • solidcitizen

      I think your point is that Markey (not Merkley, he doesn’t say stupid shit like this) is only saying that the Dems will restore the filibuster, but he knows damn well they won’t.

      Why? Why would he lie about this? He’s playing the big pro-filibuster constituency out there? He’s peeling off those marginal votes that go for Trump and the GOP, but just might come to the Dems if we pledge to are the party of decorum?

      There is exactly zero upside to being pro-filibuster, so why be pro-filibuster?

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        working the refs, maybe?

        • JustRuss

          Yep, polishing his bipartisan-cred. Not a terrible plan, some of the media are probably dumb enough to fall for it, but it works better if you have a “-R” after your name.

          • los

            JustRuss says:

            polishing his bipartisan-cred

            Yes. Allow this Apr 2017 promise to be “forgotten” by Nov 2018 (or 2020).
            Then in 2019 (or 2021, respectively), SCOTUS cloture will be too boringly specific an issue for MSM to hell-raise about Democratic “amnesia”.

        • solidcitizen

          The same refs who just teed us up for forcing the Republicans to end the filibuster?

          • Colin Day

            The same refs who gushed over firing missiles at a Syrian air base?

            • daves09

              Cillizza over on CNN will gush how Markey is the adult in the room and his example will shame, yes shame, McConnell and his minions into being better people.
              And speaking of that, of all the fucking people in the world how did fucking CNN pick fucking Chris Cillizza to be fucking editor at large?

        • postpartisandepression

          Sorry there are no refs- they have been firmly in the pocket of the GOP for decades now. Or didn’t you watch them make a big deal about EMAIILZZZZ and then jump on the bandwagon when Comey played with Weiners computer?

        • postpartisandepression

          This Markey comment are the kind of things that make me despair of democrats.

          (For instance, Democrats shouldn’t conduct a 4 year campaign of completely baseless witch hunt investigations of Trump administration officials just because Republicans do this when a Democrat is President.)

          And the above is the reason dems need a Fox News of our own. We have the advantage that we don’t even have to lie of make things up – we just have to make sure the media can’t move on when there is something the public really needs to focus on.

      • ColBatGuano

        There is exactly zero upside to being pro-filibuster, so why be pro-filibuster?

        The D.C. press corps enjoys pumping up “reasonable moderates” like this. No one is going to remember this quote in four years.

        • efgoldman

          No one is going to remember this quote in four years.

          No-one is going to remember it in four days. Maybe in four hours.

          • los

            four hours

            I was going to agree that that was what I was thinking too, but then I realized…

      • You don’t think there’s any value at all in rhetorically offering a “return to normalcy” after the confusion, chaos, and extremism of the Trump years? Saying nice things about institutional norms is free.

        • benjoya

          Saying nice things about institutional norms is free.

          yes, i would like to give sp the nutshell award for this.

        • twbb

          It makes him sound weak.

      • chrisM

        I dunno, ask Bob Corker (“I think you’re likely to see Republicans change the rules back to the way they were before the nuclear option”) or Mitch McConnell -who promised to restore the filibuster on all nominees before the 2014 election- [1] why they decided to claim they would restore the filibuster when their words were meaningless, and then didn’t actually do it when they had the opportunity.

        If it seemed like a good idea to *Mitch McConnell* to promise to restore the filibuster, maybe Markey might be on the right track?

        [1]: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/10/mcconnell-to-restore-bipartisanship-to-senate.html

      • witlesschum

        It did get him on the TV. Perhaps it was more about boosting Markey to the sort of people who pick guest slots on TV.

  • jim, some guy in iowa

    I wonder if Markey asked around before he said that. He might not be speaking for enough votes to actually make that happen

    • The Lorax

      There’s no way they get 50 votes to restore the filibuster.

      • ap77

        I’m not so sure about that. Every single GOP senator would vote for it.

      • djw

        Yeah, I don’t know enough about Merkey to handicap it but there’s really only two options here: Trolling or delusional.

        • Brett

          I’m going with delusional. There are a lot of deep-blue Democratic Senators who are really, really committed to Senate norms and procedures. Leahy held up any weakening of the filibuster for years, IIRC.

          • djw

            Possible. But on the other hand, he’s a career congressperson who has been in the senate five minutes. It’s not uncommon for house members to have a tendency to roll their eyes at the upper chamber’s pretensions.

  • ap77

    Sigh.

    You know . . . where do we get these people? Like even the good ones can’t help but punch themselves in the face sometimes?

    • Brett

      There’s a pretty strong desire among the more centrist leadership of the Democratic Party to seem like the reasonable “adults in the room” people who respect tradition and norms of bipartisanship, good governance, etc, etc. Same thing motivated the whole “make Donald Trump seem unfit to govern” strategy in the 2016 presidential race, and it seems to be what they’re aiming for in the present.

      It’s also why we have so many goddamn policy wonks.

      • NewishLawyer

        This isn’t just the leadership but it could also be a good amount of the Democratic base who want to be the adults in the room. IIRC during the Obama years, there was a poll that showed Democrats wanted politicians to reach out and find compromise and the GOP base wanted politicians who stuck to their guns, The Freedumb Caucus basically.

        I think the Democratic base is getting more partisanship and desiring of fighters especially younger liberals but there are still a whole lot of Democrats out there who believe in being the adults in the room and reaching out and making compromise and getting 50 percent of what you want.

        • los

          reaching out and making compromise and getting 50 percent of what you want.

          reaching out with 40 percent of what you want, and making compromise and getting -27 percent of what you want.

        • Phil Perspective

          I think, for the most part, the past year has disabused most Democrats of their feeling re: your first paragraph.

    • NewishLawyer

      A lot of the elected Democratic politicians are also older on average than your Republicans interestingly.

      You have a lot of boomers or older than boomer politicians who remember the golden and probably ahistorical era of Bipartisan consensus and think we can return to it.

      Lots of GOPers are old (especially their base) but the politicians seem to be generally young guys who were in their teens during Reagan’s first two terms and drunk all the Kool-Aid.

      So the Democratic Party has young partisan voters and old polls (plus a system that seems to love seniority and working your way to the top) and the GOP has old voters with relatively young politicians.

      • los

        era of Bipartisan consensus

        the 1980s.. and early 1990s maybe.
        Kaput in the mid-90s Gingrich “takeover”.

  • Morse Code for J

    If there were some way for Democrats to make rule changes to the Senate’s rules of order subject to a 60-vote threshold, so as to protect against changes made by a bare majority, fine.

    Markey’s been in Congress as long as I’ve been alive (I’m 40). I know he remembers better times for how the body operated, maybe particularly the Senate, and I can’t blame him for nostalgia. I want him nowhere near a leadership position that he might actually carry this shit out.

    The legislative filibuster will stand as long as both the majority and minority find it useful. Everything else is done by a majority. Your only protection against extremist justices is to hold the White House and the Senate at the appropriate moments. Good luck, America.

    • Stag Party Palin

      Yeah. I am amazed that it only took a majority to kill a super-majority rule. This is worse than a sausage factory.

      • los

        as minimum of bare majority to “enact” a super-majority rule is similarly awkward.

  • Gwen

    When I first saw this story (over on CNN.com) my reaction was “Christ, what an a**hole!”

  • jim, some guy in iowa

    I suppose there’s no cure for worrying about being sold out by the “party elites” but there’s something kind of self defeating about taking pronouncements like this at face value and then when a D pol says something you want to hear responding with “but they don’t really mean it” (not that this is what’s exactly going on here)

  • I can’t see the base standing for this if they tried it. They’d get flattened.

    • los

      I can’t see the base standing for this if they [Senate Democrats] tried it. They’d get flattened.

      which is why this romancing should be meant only for MSM consumption, and ignored after early 2018.

      • los

        meant only for courting the MSM…

  • MotivatedSeller

    Ed Markey is a callow politician who “earned” his seat by rubbing Democratic elbows long enough for the guy ahead of him to die. He is no friend progressive policies. Google “Ed Markey present” for more.

  • Ed Markey is a freshman junior senator. He’s exactly the right person to send out to say high-minded gibberish, because nothing he says is going to bind Democratic leadership in the future. Save the Lucy analogies for when they actually are in a position to do something and leadership is endorsing it.

  • Bruce Vail

    I hate to tell this to all my friends up in Mass., but Markey is dismissed by many in DC as a clown. If he says he wants to restore the filibuster, he is speaking for Ed Markey and no one else.

  • Y’all elect me president, and I promise to beat Ed Markey severely until he agrees to shut up. And then to beat him some more for being such a stupid taintgoblin.

    • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

      I get to run first. I have a simple platform. If elected, I’ll abolish pennies and resign. Most people I tell this to say they’ll vote for me.

      • witlesschum

        Make Larry Lessig your VP and sold!

  • jpgray

    Is this really that hard to understand? See McCain, John, section “Hey, I’m not like those unprincipled assholes!”, subsection “Talk.” I’d tell you to skip past subsection “Walk,” but it’s pretty thin….

    Isn’t this just a sacrifice on the Broder altar?

  • LosGatosCA

    I think that he’s being unfairly maligned.

    He just forgot to say that when the next Democratic president appoints Comey to the Supreme Court, it will be much more bipartisan if he needs 60 votes to get confirmed.

    Once you understand that it all makes perfect sense.

    • los

      it all makes perfect sense

      Why not 99% cloture when trying to confirm Alex Jones?

      Why not 14%[1] cloture when trying to confirm THE SOROS.
      (custom rule for each nominee)

      ____________
      1. “Let’s Do This!”

  • AMK

    The problem with the “he knows better but this is messaging” theory is that there is literally nobody who votes on the basis of sentimentality for Senate procedural rules. The overwhelming majority of the people we need to show up in 18′ and 20′ think “filibustering” is sexual slang.

    • xq

      That it’s ineffective as messaging doesn’t mean it’s not messaging.

  • PunditusMaximus

    It’s almost as though some of the more extreme criticism of Establishment Democrats is utterly accurate.

  • Murc

    The investment of liberals in process places them at a severe disadvantage in dealing with an extremist party like the modern Republicans.

    Hogwash. This has nothing to do with a commitment to process, which is important no matter how bad the Republicans become because it is the only antidote to their arson. It’s simply a garden-variety example of a politician being committed to bad policy.

  • diogenes

    It wouldn’t be the first time Democrats brought a position paper to a knife fight.

    • los

      Hey. That’s a vicious (paper) cut, there.

    • twbb

      “It is time for decisive action! I have here a polite but firm letter to Mr. McConnell’s underlings, who with some cajoling, will pass it along to him, or at least give him the gist of it.”

  • Hondo

    I contend that the war is over and we lost. This is just another example.

    • LosGatosCA

      The war is never over. And that’s a lesson that’s really hard for Democrats to internalize.Even if Clinton had won, the war would continue.

      The Republicans believe two things :

      – they are in an existential battle for their money
      – they are in an existential battle for their identity (race and religion)

      And Democrats need to understand that if your opponent thinks s/he is in an existential battle, then you are,too. Whether you like it or not. You don’t have to use the same tactics but you can’t ever relax, or think – hey these guys wouldn’t fritter away a generational opportunity to secure ghe country’s finances Ike Greenspan did in return for Clinton reappointing him. Or, he’s seems like one of the “good” Republicans let’s make him the head of the FBI, he’d never be a de facto collaborator with the Russians and use the credibility of the office to torpedo a presidential election. Or, we’re the good guys, we’ll honor the blue slips even though the Republicans didn’t when they were in charge of the Senate.

      It goes on and on and on.

      Republica

      • los

        The war is never over.

        Yes.
        The (“)war(“) has never been over.
        There are always oligrachs, theocrats, war-profiteers, nihilists, etc.

        It goes on and on and on.

  • wphurley

    Senatah Mah-tee needs to sit down with New England’s god of Victory, Bill Belicheck, so that he can learn, definitively, that you never, ever spot your opponent to a 9-point lead.