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Republicans set out to break all manners of records when they took over in 1994. Fastest Congress to corrupt? Check. Biggest deficits in American history? Check. Biggest foreign policy disaster ever? Check. Biggest domestic policy disaster ever? Check. Most unpopular president ever? Getting close. Most obstructionist Senate ever? Also closing fast:

Seven months into the current two-year term, the Senate has held 42 "cloture" votes aimed at shutting off extended debate — filibusters, or sometimes only the threat of one — and moving to up-or-down votes on contested legislation. Under Senate rules that protect a minority's right to debate, these votes require a 60-vote supermajority in the 100-member Senate.

Democrats have trouble mustering 60 votes; they've fallen short 22 times so far this year. That's largely why they haven't been able to deliver on their campaign promises.

How many Republicans would root for the "nuclear option" today?

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Mon Jul 23, 2007 at 09:48 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Right the fuck on, Kos...now (9+ / 0-)

    this is why I come here...great info.

    Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.

    by darthstar on Mon Jul 23, 2007 at 09:41:44 AM PDT

  •  This seems easy for me to understand. (7+ / 0-)

    I'm no brain surgeon, either.

    Why can't we get this out to people?  Why can't the media catch on to this and tell people?

    Isn't that their job?

    Sheesh.

    Je suis inondé de déesses

    by Marc in KS on Mon Jul 23, 2007 at 09:44:07 AM PDT

  •  Somehow that doesn't surprise me (5+ / 0-)

    It seems like they have the 60 vote cloture on almost every bill this term.

  •  Biggest mistake of Democrats was (13+ / 0-)

    to give in to avoid the nuclear option.  We got Alito and continued obstruction from the Repubs.  There is nothing that the Repubs ever offer that we want.  

    They will not co-operate until they are thoroughly trounced.

    It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. Charles Darwin

    by pioneer111 on Mon Jul 23, 2007 at 09:45:53 AM PDT

    •  I advocated (3+ / 0-)

      going ahead and saying, go ahead, do the nuclear option, because I knew, sooner or later, we'd get our turn.

      •  No! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        atrexler, Randall Sherman

        Never do that; otherwise, we'd be subject to the tyranny of the majority.

        We need to expose the dirty tricks.  Remember, "Sunshine is the best disinfectant." (Brandeis)

        "People should not be afraid of their government; governments should be afraid of their people." --V

        by MikeTheLiberal on Mon Jul 23, 2007 at 09:57:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Apparently, whatever position we take, whether (4+ / 0-)

          we're in the majority or minority, results in our side being screwed.

          How the hell does that happen?

          "We're all in this together" -- Harry Tuttle, legendary plumber

          by bablhous on Mon Jul 23, 2007 at 10:12:15 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Structural advantages (0+ / 0-)

            The Republicans have several structural advantages over us. Fundamentally, we're a loose coalition of issues-based parties, while they're a tight coalition of authoritarian parties.

            (1) Because we're issue-based, to win we have to actually run the country and enact enormously complex legislation. Universal healthcare is going to be a monstrous piece of legislation, and will take serious congressional sausage-making to enact. So will any actual greenhouse gas controls. Shoring up labor will take an array of related bills. We'll have to work carefully to fix problems without crashing the economy.

            By contrast, the modern Republican party is an authoritarian party. They don't have to run the country to win, they just have to be "in charge." This gives them enormous freedom to just play parliamentary Calvinball, because if they stall everything, they win by default.

            (2) Because our coalition is loose, we tend to work at cross-purposes. Dingell, for example, is essentially a labor candidate, and as such doesn't actually have much issue overlap with environmentalists. We work as a party primarily because Republican control is disastrous for all our issues.

            By contrast, the Republican coalition is generally much tighter. Occasionally the corporate wing will split from the xenophobic and theocratic wings (as on immigration), but it happens much less frequently than it does for us.

            (3) Because we have a slight anti-authoritarian streak, it's hard for us to act in lockstep. This is true of both our liberals and our centrists--it's hard to imagine a John Dingell, a Barbara Lee, or a Diane Feinstein placidly kowtowing to the party line (much as it annoys us when centrists do that, it's ironically a solid demonstration that they aren't Republicans!)

            By contrast, the Republicans have a strong streak of outright authoritarianism. Republican "mavericks" generally cease to be so the moment they're called to actually vote. This makes it very easy for them to sustain filibusters.

            I've no idea what to do about the problem, beyond make it eminently clear to voters that if they want any sane action by the government on any issue, they have to drive the Republicans below 40 seats.

        •  I think (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MikeTheLiberal, pioneer111

          the 60 vote minimum to do ANYTHING is a tyranny of the minority.

          I understand using the filibuster on certain occasions or in certain areas but now its devolved to the point that you need 60 Senators to do ANYTHING of note.

          I think that goes too far.

          •  Exactly (0+ / 0-)

            The Dems need to force the filibuster by the GOP.  This shows how bad they are blocking the government.

            Why is the GOP so afraid to have BUllSHit veto bills??  Oh, right; the Repugs are afraid to take a stand.

            "People should not be afraid of their government; governments should be afraid of their people." --V

            by MikeTheLiberal on Mon Jul 23, 2007 at 11:39:41 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Exactly (6+ / 0-)

      Why the fuck have a fillibuster when only right-wingers ever use it?

      "Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the president to explain to us what the exit strategy is." - George W Bush

      by jfern on Mon Jul 23, 2007 at 09:58:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  not to mention the other losers that he put on (4+ / 0-)

      some of the Federal Benches. Janice Rogers Brown, Priscilla Owen and the worst of the worst William Pryor. Oh the damage one man has done.

      "...and while other presidents have sucked in their own individual ways, Bush is like a Smorgsbord of suck."-Bill Maher on Real Time 5-25-07

      by Chamonix on Mon Jul 23, 2007 at 09:59:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  remember (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eph89, pioneer111

      the nuclear option was only about judges. Anyway, I've got no problem with the fact of a filibuster - the framers intended to allow this.

      It's our and the Dem leaders job to expose it for what it is - killing popular bills.

      "People hate Bush and hate this war. It's that simple, and it's been true for quite some time" - Atrios

      by atrexler on Mon Jul 23, 2007 at 10:04:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Time to play a little hardball (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Alma, MikeTheLiberal

    ...and put the nuclear option in place immediately.  Then sit back and see what a real Democratic agenda looks like.

    Unfortunately, as with the vote to continue funding the war, I fear the Dems will lack the balls to actually do something here.

  •  Hypocrites (0+ / 0-)

    "Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed." General Buck Turgidson

    by muledriver on Mon Jul 23, 2007 at 09:48:42 AM PDT

  •  real filibusters (9+ / 0-)

    This is why we need real filibusters, not just the threat of a filibuster.

    With the current "gentleman's" (cough) agreement on filibusters, the side "filibustering" doesn't actually need to do anything.  They just automatically change a 50-50 vote to 60-40 without any downside.  It's a freebie.

    With real, historic filibusters, the filibustering side needed to actually debate for all the time they claimed they wanted.  After all, a failed cloture debate is really a vote to continue debate.

    Well, if the effing Republicans really want to debate forever, then go ahead and let them debate, 24/7.  They're already tying up the Senate in knots by simple votes.  Making them actually debate isn't going to harm anything and will make them actually filibuster instead of the backroom, chickenshit non-filibuster filibuster.  

    •  I looked this up. (3+ / 0-)

      To change the Senate Rules (including Rule XXII, which provides for cloture votes), you need 67 votes. The last time the cloture rule was changed (to 60 votes) in 1975, the compromise was apparently that cloture votes were indicated automatically, without actually having to do the filibuster. That's why we haven't really seen any since then, and why Reid's all-night debate tactic required Democrats to do most of the work.

      This article is all I could really find about the technical details behind filibusters. If anyone else has more information, I'd really like to see it.
      http://answers.google.com/...

      •  cloture is fine (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bablhous, Randall Sherman

        I'm all for cloture votes.  But what happens if cloture fails?

        Technically, the debate continues.  I didn't see anything in that link which indicated that a failed cloture vote also closes debate (which would be odd.)  

        The new rules allow the Senate to move on to other issues while the filibuster continues.    I didn't see anything in the link requiring the Senate to move on if the cloture fails.

        It seems to me that Reid could allow the filibuster debate to continue.  And if the Republicans want to end it, well, they can vote for cloture.

        •  Do it right at the recess (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ferg, SueDe, Randall Sherman

          Let them spend their recess time talking about why they're protecting the President. Keep them in session until they run out of steam, then call for the up-or-down vote.

          That has the added benefit that the Senate is still in session, which means His Nibs can't create recess appointments.

          Depending on which Senators are involved, I'm not sure which would be worse -- spending August in Calcutta-on-the-Potomac protecting His Nibs, or going home to their constituents to explain why they're not supporting the troops. Maybe one after the other is the best option.

    •  Right. Make them work for every point... (4+ / 0-)

      ...of contention and make them pay hard when they fail to score! That's why we won the majority because the people were tired of their games. Unfortunately this isn't a game. People's lives are at stake here.

      "Our past patriots are spinning in their graves. Did they all die for this tyranny?" Change Course. Change Captains. Change crews. But save the ship!

      by ImpeachKingBushII on Mon Jul 23, 2007 at 10:00:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  yes (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ferg, KJS, bablhous, Carbide Bit

      that would look so great on the nightly news:

      "The republicans in the Senate today talked for 10 hours about why they objected to voting on sending conferees to implement the 9/11 commission recommendations."

      "People hate Bush and hate this war. It's that simple, and it's been true for quite some time" - Atrios

      by atrexler on Mon Jul 23, 2007 at 10:07:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MikeTheLiberal

    gang of 14. Gang being the operative word. Isn't Bush gonna try and push through more of his Judges on Federal Courts. I can' believe he has thought of that distraction to get people off Iraq. Don't more of his courts need Stacking?

    "...and while other presidents have sucked in their own individual ways, Bush is like a Smorgsbord of suck."-Bill Maher on Real Time 5-25-07

    by Chamonix on Mon Jul 23, 2007 at 09:50:24 AM PDT

  •  Diary Pimp (0+ / 0-)

    Just thought I'd pimp someone's diary: Avenging Angel's Up or Down Vote: Death of a GOP Talking Point.  It's an excellent read, and relates directly to this topic.  Enjoy!

    Oh, and read the last paragraph; some people still believe they can force the "up-or-down" vote.  Gotta love the obstructionists!

    "People should not be afraid of their government; governments should be afraid of their people." --V

    by MikeTheLiberal on Mon Jul 23, 2007 at 09:51:54 AM PDT

  •  And now , (5+ / 0-)

    maybe one of our senators would explain to me why they refused to use this tactic to derail bush's toxic supreme court nominees.

    "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful,,,they never stop thinking of ways to harm our country and neither do we" G W Bush

    by irate on Mon Jul 23, 2007 at 09:51:57 AM PDT

  •  How about including (5+ / 0-)

    the number of times Republicans have used another obstructive device - a Senate hold, to prevent a bill from getting to a floor vote?  (Example, S.274, a whistleblower protection bill.)

    Among a people generally corrupt, liberty cannot long exist. - Edmund Burke

    by Deep Harm on Mon Jul 23, 2007 at 09:54:09 AM PDT

  •  Tell it like it is kos! Let's "nuke" 'em... (3+ / 0-)

    ...and demand an up or down vote. The repubs have obstructed and shilled for Bush long enough. Enough is enough.

    "Our past patriots are spinning in their graves. Did they all die for this tyranny?" Change Course. Change Captains. Change crews. But save the ship!

    by ImpeachKingBushII on Mon Jul 23, 2007 at 09:54:17 AM PDT

  •  If you are so inclined, (0+ / 0-)

    feel free to digg this story.

    http://digg.com/...

  •  We're at the moment (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bablhous, Carbide Bit, MikeTheLiberal

    where the political tide turns.  It's time for our leaders to paint the Republicans as obstuctionists on Iraq.  They are, we see it here, and now McClatchy sees it too; this is a significant talking point, and our Democratic Critters better wear it out during the recess.

    "Success is a level of violence where the people feel comfortable about living their daily lives." --George W Bush, May 2, 2007

    by mspicata on Mon Jul 23, 2007 at 09:59:40 AM PDT

  •  this needs to be the center (6+ / 0-)

    of progressive anger; it's their right to do it, but they need to be exposed. If we can help do it, the GOP will pay the price. If we don't, most people will just continue to believe "congress doesn't get anything done."

    "People hate Bush and hate this war. It's that simple, and it's been true for quite some time" - Atrios

    by atrexler on Mon Jul 23, 2007 at 10:00:24 AM PDT

  •  My letter to Face the Nation after yesterday (5+ / 0-)

    Dear Face the Nation,

    This week's show began with these words:

    "This week on Face The Nation an exclusive interview with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, on the battle between President Bush and Congress over Iraq. Have Democrats given up on trying to change the president's strategy? And why won't they consider plans put forth by Republicans who have their own ideas about pressuring the president to draw down our forces there? "

    Paraphrased: What's wrong with the Democrats? Why won't they just do what the Republicans want?

    It continued like this:

    "Then we'll talk with Maine Senator Olympia Snowe. She's one of the Republicans who wants the president to change strategy, but can't get the Democratic leaders to work with her."

    Paraphrased: Well, this needs no paraphrase. It's clear as a bell. The Republicans are reasonable, the Democrats are not.

    Could the bias here be any more blatant and shameless?

    The questions from the host started in the same vein. The first words were:

    "Senator Reid, last week you made a very big show of trying to force a vote to begin bringing the troops home from Iraq."

    So there it is, buying the Republican talking points hook line and sinker. "A very big show." The Democrats were doing "theater", while the woefully misunderstood Republicans were just trying to be reasonable.

    The actual fact was that the Democrats were acting to block a filibuster threatened, and certain to occur, by the Republicans. If you're not willing to present it as fact, which it is, the least you could do is present it as a point of view of the Democrats, rather than only presenting the conservative viewpoint in the way the entire show is framed.

    The bias here, while nothing new, is simply too much. No attempt is made to even disguise it.

    Over and over we've seen these "radical leftist" views borne out as in fact mainstream, as what the country at large is thinking. You then slip into them yourselves, albeit belatedly.

    Please listen to this and please hear it: The country agrees with Harry Reid. Not with the Republicans. Not with you, who think he's some sort of extremist. We don't. We think you and the Republicans are exactly that. If the Republicans want to rally around the President's disastrous failed stubbornly held policies, then this is their choice. No one will suffer from this choice except they themselves, come the next elections.

    I'll say it again: The country is not with the Republicans and not with the President, but with the Democrats like Reid who are trying to end this debacle. Public opinion keeps bearing this out, over and over again. It is you, and the conservative viewpoint you adhere to, that are out of touch.

  •  the nuclear option (0+ / 0-)

    if honestly discussed was only for the judicial nominations.

    SwordsCrossed "To discuss evil in a manner implying neutrality, is to sanction it." AR

    by EnderRS on Mon Jul 23, 2007 at 10:08:07 AM PDT

  •  Yes, but -- (0+ / 0-)

    -- as per usual (and as if they couldn't have seen this coming from many miles away, alas...), the Democratic Leadership (hmmmm) has allowed Capitol Hill Republicans, Hate Radio and Fox to successfully establish the narrative that this is a "do-nothing Congress".  

    Thus the same polls we cheer which show Bush in "the 20s", show that (the Democratically-lead) Congress at or below the same levels.  Of course, Republican Americans are going to hate a Democratic Congress anyway, and we're p.o.'d at Congress for failing to do the (yes) "hard work" that needs to be done to really put the Bush Regime on its heels, but I'd wager that some significant portion of Independents, who might otherwise be disgusted with Republican thuggery on the Hill, are all rolling their eyes and jaundiced against the Democrats and their "do nothing" ways.  In other words, many Independents have bought into the Republican narrative (re:  Congress, not Bush) because Democrats have been all in all feckless at establishing a competing and winning narrative.  

    Wow.  That's a shocker.

    BenGoshi
    ___________________________________________________

    The distinction that goes with mere office runs far ahead of the distinction that goes with actual achievement. H.L. Mencken

    by BenGoshi on Mon Jul 23, 2007 at 10:08:34 AM PDT

  •  Wait...I thought Trent called it... (0+ / 0-)

    ...the "Constitutional Option"... because it's constitutional!

    It is amazing how much can be accomplished when you don't care who gets the credit - Harry Truman
    PoliticalCompass Scale: -2.13, -2.97

    by floundericiousMI on Mon Jul 23, 2007 at 10:10:37 AM PDT

  •  What a great DSCC ad! (0+ / 0-)

    Least you forget - 21 Republican Senators are up for re-election in 2008 that is 64% of the races this year will be against a Republican incumbent.

    Time to start raising money.

    Unleash the potential to make a difference

    by totallynext on Mon Jul 23, 2007 at 10:22:06 AM PDT

  •  Up or Down Vote: Death of a GOP Talking Point (0+ / 0-)

    On Thursday morning, July 19th, the beloved GOP talking point "up or down vote" was officially declared dead. Its demise was little noticed in the aftermath of the Senate Republicans' successful all-night filibuster to block the Reed-Levin bill seeking to begin U.S. troop withdrawals from Iraq. "Up or down vote" was killed by a desperate Republican Party trying to obstruct Democratic accomplishments at any cost in advance of the 2008 elections. And so far, the GOP seems to be getting away with the crime.

    For the details, see:
    "Up or Down Vote: Death of a GOP Talking Point."

    •  I think it will be easy to reframe (0+ / 0-)

      it against them.

      Show each and every mouth piece from the 109th session up or down.... blah and then show the stats of block legislation.

      30 seconds would do it.

      Unleash the potential to make a difference

      by totallynext on Mon Jul 23, 2007 at 10:24:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Where's the Democratic outrage? (0+ / 0-)

    Okay, a lot of us are outraged, but we've been outraged so long it's starting to sound normal. What I mean is, where's the indignant protest that we heard so often whenever the Democrats even hinted they might attempt a filibuster last term? This, the obstructionist, anti-troops, anti-environmental, anti-anything-at-all-getting-done Republican caucus, should be the center of all the Democrats' speeches until they're scared back into their holes. Hell, if we shout it loud enough, even the media might notice and register a mild comment (though they jumped on the bandwagon and shouted along with the Republican Noise Machine early and often last term). I want to hear the same derisive tones coming out of the press that we heard a while back, only directed the other way.

    Cry, the beloved country, these things are not yet at an end. - Alan Paton

    by rcbowman on Mon Jul 23, 2007 at 10:24:50 AM PDT

  •  This is a GREAT graphic (0+ / 0-)

    Each red bar is a "congress" from the 88th to the current 110th.

    Can someone point out which party was in the minority and therefore responsible for the "cloture" votes for that congress?

    "Parlimentary inquiry Mr. Speaker... does whining come out of my time?"

    by Andrew C White on Mon Jul 23, 2007 at 11:00:10 AM PDT

    •  The first 9 bars (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Andrew C White

      representing 1963-1981 were Democratically controlled Senates (and, ostensibly GOP filibusters, although many of the early ones on civil rights were actually Dem filibusters).  

      The next 3 starting with the 27 represent 1981-1987 and were GOP-held Senates.  

      The next 4 starting with the 43 represent 1987-1995 and were Dem-held Senates.

      The next 3 starting with the 48 represent 1995-2001 and were GOP-held Senates.

      The following bar, the second 58, is the bizarre 2001-2003 session, which began with the GOP controlling a 50-50 chamber and ended with the Dems controlling it 51-49 following the Jeffords defection.

      The next 2, the 49 and the 52, were the last two GOP Senates (2003-2007).

      Support those who burn the flag and wrap themselves in the Constitution; not those who wrap themselves in the flag and burn the Constitution. -8.25, -6.51

      by Superribbie on Mon Jul 23, 2007 at 11:30:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Superribbie to the rescue! (0+ / 0-)

        "Parlimentary inquiry Mr. Speaker... does whining come out of my time?"

        by Andrew C White on Mon Jul 23, 2007 at 02:39:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  So... (0+ / 0-)

        .. the first uptick was presumably by Republicans against Democrats during the Nixon/Vietnam/Watergate days.

        ... the second uptick was the 43 that occurred when Senate control returned to Democrats following a brief period of Republican control.

        ... the third uptick was presumably Democrats fighting the Republican abuses in the last years of the Clinton era.

        Which then falls slightly during the last democratic minority when it was the ojnly tool available to democrats to fight the abuses of the Frist/Bush era in the Senate... an era that saw Frist threaten the so-called Nukulur option to remove the last protection the minority had.

        Which brings us to now with Republicans back in the minority and an apparent explosion of obstructionist tactics on their part.

        The numbers don't lie.

        The Republicans are obstructionists bent on having their own way and the growing lack of ability for the Senate to accomplish anything over the last few decades can be traced directly to a growing and more virulent obstructionism on the part of Republicans.

        "Parlimentary inquiry Mr. Speaker... does whining come out of my time?"

        by Andrew C White on Mon Jul 23, 2007 at 02:50:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Are they really using this as an excuse? (0+ / 0-)

    Democrats have trouble mustering 60 votes; they've fallen short 22 times so far this year. That's largely why they haven't been able to deliver on their campaign promises.

    Now it's the Republicans fault they can't fulfill their promise?

    Republicans filibuster = BAD
    Democrats filibustering = Good!

  •  We won a big victory last November..... (0+ / 0-)

    But it came with a price....not enough fire power in the Senate to get anything done.  Looking back on it, as much as we celebrated last November on taking the Senate, the lack of votes to get ANYTHING done has been a royal pain in the ass for the Democrats.  

  •  Spread this graph to media: Easy to understand (0+ / 0-)

    Pass it around to media. GOP is good at controlling debate subjet and public via sound bites.

    Get this graph on evening news, and see who gets called up as "obstructionists."

    Pictures are easy to digest and remember...

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