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Jonathan Wiseman’s article about Trent Lott in this morning’s WaPo ignores much of what's wrong with Congress, and demonstrates one of the primary reasons Americans don't know the real problems with Congress.  

n January, as a dormant Senate chamber entered its fourth hour of inaction and a major ethics bill lay tangled in knots, Minority Whip Trent Lott (R-Miss.) took to the Senate floor with a plaintive plea.

"Here we are, the sun has set on Thursday. It is a quarter to 6. The sun officially went down at 5:13. We are like bats," the veteran lawmaker lamented to a near-empty chamber. "Hello, it is a quarter to 6. . . . I have called everybody involved. I have been to offices. I have been stirring around, scurrying around. Is there an agenda here?"

The next 10 months appear to have given him the answer. A major overhaul of the nation's immigration laws went down in flames. Just two of a dozen annual spending bills passed Congress, and one of those was vetoed. Repeated efforts to force a course change in Iraq ended in recrimination and stalemate. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) filed 56 motions to break off filibusters to try to complete legislation, a total that is nearing the record of 61 such "cloture motions" in a two-year Congress.

And on Monday, Lott, one of the Senate's consummate dealmakers, called it quits.

Why, one might wonder, have things changed so much?  

[B]onhomie and cross-party negotiating are losing their currency, even in the backslapping Senate. With the Senate populated by a record number of former House members, the rules of the Old Boys' Club are giving way to the partisan trench warfare and party-line votes that prevail in the House. States once represented by common-ground dealmakers, including John Breaux (D-La.), David L. Boren (D-Okla.), James M. Jeffords (I-Vt.) and Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.), are now electing ideological stalwarts, such as David Vitter (R-La.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) and Jim DeMint (R-S.C.).

The two most respected experts on Congress are Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein, authors of the recent book The Broken Branch: How Congress is Failing America and How to Get it Back On Track.  In a recent talk on Congress with his co-author, Mann declared that "if you look at the 110th Congress in its pre-August legislative achievements relative to the 104th Congress after the 1994 elections, this Congress has produced a bountiful legislative harvest."  It doesn’t appear that back in January there was no agenda.  Instead, the problem is that Lott didn’t like the agenda, did his best to scuttle it, and defied the remaining "dealmakers" in the Senate.

To be fair, Wiseman acknowledges that there are still "dealmakers" in the Senate; he mentions Ted Kennedy, Orrin Hatch and Dianne Feinstein as Senators who will remain past 2008.  He then goes on to describe some of Lott’s deals, like those made with Bill Clinton.  But even there, Lott’s former chief of staff gave Weisman a dog whistle, and Weisman willingly blew on it:

The next year, White House Chief of Staff Erskine B. Bowles and Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin -- both wealthy Wall Street financiers -- sat huddled in Lott's office, as Lott and House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) tried to cut a final deal on a balanced budget agreement that included a cut to the capital gains tax rate.

"There they were, two Democrats who had been very successful in business, squaring off with two Republicans who didn't have two nickels to rub together," Hoppe recalled.
They struck a deal: Cut the capital gains rate and create a major federal program to offer health insurance to children of the working poor.

Sure, the rich Democrats couldn’t cut a deal until the poor, simple Republicans looking out for the little guy thought of their own humble roots and finally agreed to a compromise that gave kids insurance.

But let’s look at that specific example, and the prior and subsequent actions of those two Republicans.  Doesn’t Wiseman remember that it was Gingrich’s grand strategy of obstruction that blocked the Clinton health plan in 1994 and helped him lead the Republican takeover of Congress?  And Gingrich wasn’t able to get much through the Senate in 1995 and early 1996, because then-Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole didn't like working with Gingrich and sat on most things that came over from the House.  Under pressure from his right, and feeling pressured by his Presidential campaign, Dole eventually resigned and Lott took over.  It was then that Lott started ramming through odious legislation like the welfare "reform" bill and getting it on to Clinton’s desk.  Since Gingrich was gravely damaged by the previous year’s governmental shutdown, Lott was able to broker a deal because both Clinton and, by that point, Gingrich were willing to deal.  

But is Lott really still willing to cut deals?  No.  A great example of Lott’s unwillingness to make deals is Wiseman’s grand example, that "new federal program to offer health insurance to children of the working poor" created in 1996.  You know that program; it’s called SCHIP, and in this Congress Lott has worked against Republican dealmakers like Hatch and Charles Grassley by repeatedly voting against the bill, and then repeatedly voting to uphold Bush’s veto of the bill.  

Such obstructionism is running rampant in Congress, according to Mann’s Brookings Institute colleague Sarah Binder:

Majority leaders before Reid faced real constraints as Reid does, the reality of needing 60 votes, Trent Lott, Bill Frist, leading Republicans before Reid, but everything has been ratcheted up just a couple of degrees on the Senate floor with more cloture motions, more amendments for the minority party, Reid at least would say more
obstruction from the minority party, and so long as the majority party has only a slim lead and given the intense competition between the parties particularly in the run-up to the 2008 election, we really should not be surprised at all to see the intensity of combat on the Senate floor over getting those 60 votes.

Why has legislating in the Senate been so difficult?  It’s not because of the committee process; Mann, Ornstein and Binder all observe a great deal more comity and cooperation than prevailed under Republican leadership.  The problems exist mostly on the floor of each chamber after bills clear committee.  In the Senate, according to Ornstein, it’s not that Harry Reid started out unilaterally imposing draconian rule:

Reid has been quite willing to allow Republican amendments and quite willing to negotiate a deal with McConnell to move business along. That has not been enough.

No, it hasn’t been enough, because it’s the Republicans’ deliberate strategy to NOT move business along, to NOT cut deals with the Democrats and to NOT actually pass legislation:

Is this obstructionism? Yes, indeed--according to none other than Lott. The Minority Whip told Roll Call, "The strategy of being obstructionist can work or fail. For [former Senate Minority Leader Tom] Daschle, it failed. For Reid it succeeded, and so far it's working for us." Lott's point was that a minority party can push as far as it wants until the public blames them for the problem, and so far that has not happened.

Maybe Wiseman missed that Roll Call article; after all, it might be expecting too much of the Post’s Congressional Correspondent to, you know, read Roll Call.  

But there’s another problem with what’s happening in the Senate, a problem that Wiseman has repeatedly missed or simply ignored: the obstinate intransigence of George W. Bush and the willingness of most Congressional Republicans, including the leadership, to protect him rather than be responsible legislators.  Here’s Mann:

I think we are about to see a series of symbolic fights waged [that have] everything to do with the motivations at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, but I would suggest primarily at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The first has to do with the appropriations battles. You all will be following them and fighting them. It is a con. The White House and the Congress are about $20 billion apart. This is less than 2 months of budget for the Iraq war. It is probably less than the revised estimate of the additional supplemental funding the White House will request for Iraq and Afghanistan. And there have been no substantive discussions. The White House wants to veto bills. If they were interested in working out an accommodation, they could do so, but the politics impel them to buttress their base by showing their fiscal fealty which is ludicrous given the big government conservatism that has characterized the first 6 years of the Bush Administration.

Ornstein:

I think the fundamental reason for the inability of the parties to work together in this moment of opportunity, which is the profound weakness of the president with approval ratings hovering in the twenties and low-thirties, embattled by an unpopular war, and by a succession of scandals among other things, and of course, Exhibit A in this case is the president's strong desire to have as his centerpiece achievement in domestic affairs this year a comprehensive immigration bill and basically not even being able to get a third of his own Republicans in the Senate to support his bill, barely a quarter. It is the weakness of the president ironically that has stymied Democrats in their ability to move forward with much of the legislative product more than anything else. And unfortunately, the incentives of a president who has to fall back on even an eroded level of support in his own base is far more now to threaten vetoes, to use vetoes, to draw contrasts between his resolute conservative support and that of the Democratic Congress more than anything else.

So in the end, a good question to ask is why has this happened, that the Republicans have been able to gum up the works in the Senate, without the public knowing about it, without the public being able to blame the Republicans for obstructionism?  Is it simply, as Wiseman suggests, that dealmakers have been replaced by partisans?  No.  Look again at his list; other than Bernie Sanders--who in the House actually was known for his dealmaking abilities--all the dealmakers he lists are Democrats replaced by Republicans.  Therein is one of the root problems, Republican obstructionism facilitated by Republicans recently elected to the Senate.    

Ornstein thinks another problem is the way business is conducted in the Senate.  Individual members can place holds, it’s harder to push through legislation against the will of the minority, and the whole process is slow:

What can Reid do? An all-nighter might help a little. But the then-majority Republicans tried the faux-filibuster approach a couple of years ago when they wanted to stop minority Democrats from blocking Bush's judicial nominees, and it went nowhere. The real answer here is probably one Senate Democrats don't want to face: longer hours, fewer recesses and a couple of real filibusters--days and nights and maybe weeks of nonstop, round-the-clock debate, bringing back the cots and bringing the rest of the agenda to a halt to show the implications of the new tactics.

At the moment, I don't see enough battle-hardened veterans in the Senate willing to take on that pain.

Neither do I.  Frankly, the House has been doing their part, but in the Senate, apparently too many Democrats—and I suspect Reid and Durbin are not among them—are too conflict-avoidant, or maybe just too unwilling to do the hard work that will be necessary to pass legislation AND to make it clear to the public that the problems in Congress are mostly the result of Republican obstructionism.  They have not made clear the unwillingness of George W. Bush to compromise in the face of Democratic control and overwhelming public opinion in favor of the Democratic agenda Lott said didn’t exist but which he has obstructed from the start.  

This is deliberate obstructionism which minorities try to use frequently but do not always get away with. In this case they are getting away with it, and part of the reason they are getting away with it is that Democrats have not been very artful at pointing it out as obstructionism, partly it is I think a serious deterioration in the quality of reporting of what is going on in Congress...

I argued a few months ago that we can’t wait for bipartisan solutions, because Bush and the current Republican leadership isn’t interested in solving anything with the Democrats.  Even though they would prefer bipartisanship, much of the public is ready to accept that it may have to be Democrats and Democrats alone who will have to shape the legislative solutions to the problems facing America.  But first the public has to understand what’s happening in the Senate, and that requires the Senate Democrats to dramatically and resolutely confront the Republican obstructionism, because much of the press either doesn’t sufficiently cover Congress, or the quality of Congressional reporting is horrible.  For an example of horrible Congressional reporting, one need look no further than Jonathan Wiseman’s article in today’s Washington Post.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 11:47 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  "Bipartisanship is date rape" (11+ / 0-)

    Grover said it, I believe it, that settles it.

  •  Your headline .. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rebecca, psnyder

    You said a mouthful.  That's the whole enchilada, right there.

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 11:50:05 AM PST

  •  What America needs (14+ / 0-)

    is a sustained and unyielding dose of Liberal partisanship.

    "Bipartisanship" (give the Republicans what they want and don't make waves) has gotten us in this mess.

    Megan Meier, you deserved better than the cruelty that some so-called "adults" showed you. Rest In Peace.

    by LeftHandedMan on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 11:50:28 AM PST

    •  I also think the Joe Klein mess (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rebecca, RichM, TrueBlueMajority, agnostic

      and how the blogs handled it is exactly how the Democratic party will handle conservatism in the coming decades. And the Klein mess and how it was handled by Time Magazine is exactly why we need this to happen from the leadership of the party.

      The dinosaurs are going to die out, and we are going to take their places, and we are fighters.

      Because if this doesn't happen, what just happened will keep on happening for the rest of time.

      Megan Meier, you deserved better than the cruelty that some so-called "adults" showed you. Rest In Peace.

      by LeftHandedMan on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 11:53:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  damned good start. (0+ / 0-)

        but your post seems to suggest a longer period of time for these events to happen than I find acceptable. Time is short, the days are long, and the danger our nation faces is right outside the front door. And these assholes don't wait for warrants or bother to ring the bell.

        In the United States, doing good has come to be, like patriotism, a favorite device of persons with something to sell. - Mencken

        by agnostic on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 12:50:56 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  What Dems need is (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      agnostic

      another Barney Frank in the senate :-), to help Jim Webb out a bit. Smarts and Balls, always a winning combination.  

      •  but which is which? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Alice AN

        Frank = Smart with balls.
        Webb = Balls with smart.

        either/or both is a great presence in our party.

        In the United States, doing good has come to be, like patriotism, a favorite device of persons with something to sell. - Mencken

        by agnostic on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 12:58:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Here! Here! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          agnostic

          My Favorite congressman and Senator -

          Amazing how Jim Webb has only been in the senate for a year and yet I can't remember the senate without him, as in however did they function. Granted he's a gun toting Reaganite, but I'll take him over anyone else - anytime, any day.  

          I guess Barney does have some cohones too -  but it's  his intellect and wit that never fail to amaze me, wrapped in a package with his humor as the bow.

          •  both are a credit to their current profession. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Alice AN

            I am, in one sense, lucky.
            I have Obama and Durbin, two guys I highly respect and admire.

            But we also gave the whirled Hastert, Lipinski (alleged-D) and several other morons who are truly disgusting. But what can you expect from a party that imported Alan Keyes for the last senate race?

            In the United States, doing good has come to be, like patriotism, a favorite device of persons with something to sell. - Mencken

            by agnostic on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 01:31:50 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  If Congressional Dems want to lose the majority- (8+ / 0-)

    ...then they should just keep on doing what they're doing; it's the perfect recipe to get tossed back out.

  •  We All Repeatedly (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rebecca, bablhous, lgmcp

    tell Senate Dems (Congressional ones too) what they have got to do to get the truth out, but they don't.

    What is one to make of this?

    We go back to the three choices we seem to have

    1. Fear
    1. Incompetence
    1. Complicity

    I don't know what the hell is wrong but when they ignore such clear and probal advice, what are we to do but hold them in contempt?

    You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. -Aldous Huxley

    by Dave925 on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 11:52:55 AM PST

    •  Complicity has my vote. nt (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RichM, Dave925

      Follow the money. Qui bono?

      by bablhous on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 12:21:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Bullshit (4+ / 0-)

        I fucking hate these stupid conspiracy theories.  The Democrats are conspiring with the Republicans to stall much of their legislative agenda in the Senate.  That's just stupid.  

        The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

        by Dana Houle on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 12:25:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not all of them (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RichM, bablhous, armadillo

          There are 25 good 'uns as close as I can figure.

          But when you see Harry Reid bumbling about losing track of his votes what is one to think?

          You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. -Aldous Huxley

          by Dave925 on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 12:30:15 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  "losing track of his votes"!?!?!? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Dave925, bablhous

            THATS THE PROBLEM!

            nothing gets proposed unless there's "the votes" for it.

            Meanwhile as Reid triees to 'get the votes' the issue goes unreported until it either dies from not having 'the votes' or gets vetoed.

            SCREW having the votes, just let them vote, and grind them to a pulp when they vote the wrong way, stop being afraid of the outcome.

          •  Like I Said (0+ / 0-)

            That belief is stupid.

            The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

            by Dana Houle on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 12:39:49 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I was wondering how long it would take (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Dave925, bablhous
              before you got nasty.
              •  I Get "Nasty" At Conspiracy Theories (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                dotcommodity

                To suggest the Democrats in Congress are secretly conspiring with the Republicans to scuttle everything they say they actually want to do is not worth discussion on a serious site.  Maybe that crap prevails at Democratic Underground, but this isn't Democratic Underground.  

                The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

                by Dana Houle on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 12:43:37 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Not a conspiracy, clearly (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Dave925

                  But a failure of will nonetheless.  The Dems aren't conspiring to scuttle their agenda, but they aren't fighting hard enough for it, and the end result is failure whether the Dem leadership wants that or not (and I'm still willing to assume they don't).

                  It's risk avoidance, fear of being thought unruly by the taste arbiters, a lack of a real feel for where the country is from being in the Beltway too long and, in some cases, fealty to big contributors and industries.

                  "Do not forget that every people deserves the regime it is willing to endure." ---The White Rose, 1942

                  by Mimikatz on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 12:53:08 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Sure, Not the Same Things (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Dave925, dotcommodity

                    As for the failure of will, it's in the headline.  I think there's plenty of will with most of the Democrats, but they're allowing themselves to be held hostage to some Democrats in the Senate.

                    I think it's a potentially very positive development that Pelosi has said that no longer will the House pass legislation shaped to get through the Senate. I think her caucus pressured to quit accommidating the Senate because it's tired of passing half-measures, and even then not getting them through the Senate.  This might put some extra pressure on the Senate Dems by making it clear that the problem is not in the House.  

                    The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

                    by Dana Houle on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 01:07:55 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  It seems many here are ignoring the facts (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Dave925

                      It may not be a formal conspiracy, but Democrats like DiFi and Hoyer are helping the wrong side too often.

                      I think it goes beyond the "let's keep them on the hot seat until after the elections" theory.  I think Democrats such as DiFi, Hoyer, et al are a cancer in the Party, furthering an authoritarian, corporatist agenda that alines more often with Republicans than progressive Democrats.

                      DiFi was finally called on it with the censure attempt in CA.  Otherwise, they've had a free ride up til now.

                      Who here has analyzed the Senate, tabulated the voting records, taken names?

                      Bush Administration: Proving the saying, "You can fool most of the people some of the time, and 30% 24% all the time."

                      by Helpless on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 06:16:39 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                •  Why didn't you say something like that above (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Dave925
                  instead of your "stupid" statement, which added nothing but bile to the discussion?
          •  25 Good Ones (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Dave925

            This is one of my favorite reasons Dave, We have Dem leaders, but real Democrats are a minority in the senate.  DINOs, DLCers, New Democrats, Blue Dogs all are preventing anything from getting done.

            I've compiled aother dozen possible reasons here.

            Bush Administration: Proving the saying, "You can fool most of the people some of the time, and 30% 24% all the time."

            by Helpless on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 06:01:10 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Thank God you called bullshit. n/t (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dotcommodity
        •  thanks for pointing this out: (0+ / 0-)

          a minority party can push as far as it wants until the public blames them for the problem, and so far that has not happened

          because I am infuriated to constantly read here of all places how wimpy our guys are.

          Even concern trolls kossacks here are blaming the Democrats who "supposedly control congress...so...why are they so ineffectual....?hmmm?", who vote the right way, can't force Rethugs to vote as we would want, and have to work with those creeps every day. It is a horrible thing to read here now.

          Anyone listening to the hearings can see what they are up against, and if anyone should be telling the truth agbout what is going on, that is OUR responsibility, because the MSM sure won't.

          Right on diary!

    •  The problem is that the Senatorial (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dave925

      incumbency is such a potent defense against any sort of accountability because, though a few may drop from time to time, most know they are bulletproof with a lifelong tenure if they want it.

  •  While we're speaking of Lott (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rebecca, WSComn

    Anybody hear who would be in line for his leadership role?

    Be careful what you shoot at, most things in here don't react well to bullets-Sean Connery .... Captain Marko Ramius -Hunt For Red October

    by JML9999 on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 11:56:34 AM PST

  •  Another great diary. Why the Dems (9+ / 0-)

    aren't out front everyday shining a disinfecting light on this blatant "obstructionism" is beyond me.  As a cynic I'd say the "middle" in American politics all work for the same monied interests and nothing that rocks that boat ever gets passed.  The dreamer says we just don't have the numbers and we should use the GOP's tactics against them rhetorically at every opportunity.  Sadly Dems don't have any currency with the "trad media."

    Another big turnover of seats in the Dems favor might help but who knows.  We'll see.

    "An entire credulous nation believed in Santa Claus, but Santa Claus was really the gasman." Gunter Grass

    by rrheard on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 11:56:52 AM PST

    •  The cynic (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rebecca, RichM, bablhous, Helpless, rrheard

      is right.

      The big money that runs DC has only one ideology:  Profit.  It doesn't give a shit about anything, or anyone, else.  It doesn't care about R's or D's.  It just wants to get paid, and corrupt, rigged legislation has a ROI that would give Warren Buffet wet dreams.

    •  here's my shot at a partial answer (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      zett, rrheard, JG in MD

      A lot of reporters in DC are cynical about partisan tactics, to the point where they just assume without reflection that both parties practice essentially the same tactics. In that view, nearly all complaints about tactics are cynical attempts to turn reporters into pawns of one side or the other.

      Therefore reporters avoid writing about tactics.

      And thus, maybe, Democrats have concluded from long experience that they just won't be able to get reporters to give serious attention even to the most extreme tactics like the Republican abuses of Senate procedure?

      Not justifying the failure of Democrats to make GOP obstructionism the issue. Just trying to explain why there doesn't appear to be much of an attempt to put the issue forward.

  •  Our democratic process is based on a bicameral (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rebecca, bablhous, lgmcp, snazzzybird

    legislature.  This creates debate, slows down the process and helps to defeat circumvention of that process.  Argument is good and necessary, but for the last 12 years we've just been given 'O'Reilly's' from the majority:  Shut Up!  The debate and the argument hasn't been there.  We have not been included in the conversation and look where it's gotten us:  war, death, greed, oil, greed, death, war.
    Follow the $$$$.
    So I agree with LeftHandedMan:  Partisanship over Bi-partisanship.  We need to be in power for a while.  Hell, the whole world needs us to be in power.
    I also agree with Phoenix Woman.  Date rape.

    "When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the Flag carrying a cross"...Sinclair Lewis

    by WSComn on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 11:57:22 AM PST

    •  Bicamearlness isn't about debate (0+ / 0-)

      It has to do with the fact that our government was designed such that OUR House of Representatives is the seat of power.  It is the House that directly represents the people and it is the House that controls the purse.  There can be no war that is not funded by the House. And the Senate can suck eggs.  How's that for some debate and dialog.  The "Commander in Chief" cannot do any commanding without funds and that is EXACTLY why this rig is put together the way that it is.  The seat of power (the control) vested in the House is not some sort of accidental side effect or unintended consequence of the Constitution.  It is the actual heart and soul of this country; a nation ruled by our representatives elected every two years from groups of thirty thousand people.  Why have we given our liberty away?

      I could go door to door and shake enough hands to get elected in a district of 30K people. I don't need no stinkin campaign funds :)  You wouldn't like me, but you can probably find someone you do like and trust to do this job.

      It's really your country

      "I know no safe depository for the ultimate power of society but the people themselves" -- Jefferson

      by TheTrucker on Thu Dec 06, 2007 at 06:36:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Punctuation check (8+ / 0-)

    Please change "It's" to "Its" for all us English Majors out there.  Possessive pronouns don't have apostrophes.

  •  Lott the victim...poor bastard. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rebecca, kywddavid, jre2k8, bablhous, lgmcp

    Fuck him.

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

    by darthstar on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 12:02:09 PM PST

  •  Great Post. Good Points. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rebecca, TrueBlueMajority, lgmcp

    Too bad the MSM won't report this issue fairly.

  •  As long as they continue to be (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rebecca, bablhous

    corporate America's bitches, they'll continue to be held in contempt.

    You were elected to represent US, you dimwitted assholes!

  •  question on the Congress' work ethic (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lgmcp, WSComn, JG in MD

    Many members during the last Congress were said to be getting by with 3 day work weeks. Has the House and Senate leadership managed to put a stop to that for the most part, does anybody know?

    DH, do you think part of the reason Reid is so confrontation-averse is that he has several Democrats out on the presidential trail so often? Or is it a matter of personal style (his or Durbin's)? Or something else?

    •  As I Said, I DON'T Think Reid is Conflict-Avodant (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      smintheus, scott5js, WSComn, JG in MD

      But as Senate Leader, he rules by coalitions and consensus in his caucus, and if a big part of his caucus is conflict-avoidant, it's hard for him to lead them in to battle.  Part of it probably is the presidential campaign schedule, but I think there are several Senators who aren't running for President who haven't caught on that they only way they're going to break through against the Repubs is through hard-nosed, resolute confrontation.  

      As for the schedule, all of Congress was on a schedule of only three days per week in DC.  Now the House is definitely on a 5 day per week in DC schedule, but Senate not as much.  Again, I think Reid's job structurally is harder in that regard, but I think he's also hurt by not being able to bring around his caucus to be harder, tougher, more confrontational.

      The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

      by Dana Houle on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 12:11:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Reaid is supposed to be the Leader. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rebecca

        When will he start to 'lead' instead of 'follow' his caucus?

        Follow the money. Qui bono?

        by bablhous on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 12:25:39 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  When Will You Explain What Means... (0+ / 0-)

          ...he has to make Democratic Senators do something they don't want to do?

          The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

          by Dana Houle on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 12:28:58 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  ?? He's supposed to be a politician. a persuader. (0+ / 0-)

            What do any politicians have to make anyone follow them other than their people skills, their intellects, their powers of logic and argument, their visions of the future?

            I know positions, power and petitions are shuffled back and forth as currency. I have no problems with that. Those are the tools of the trade. Reid has these tools -- including the future options available with a super-majority. He certainly hasn't forgotten how to use them.

            If we're talking outright bribery,...if that's the only way anything will be done, we're already toast. There is no hope. Because that will have to continue even if we're in a BIG majority. And the price will continue to go up.

            Once you've bribed someone to do their job, that's the only way it will be done. And that sort of stuff goes viral really quickly.

            That's not what a politician does, it's what a crook does.

            If Reid is doing what he is doing because his caucus wants it, he's not leading them.

            He's just in front.

            Follow the money. Qui bono?

            by bablhous on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 07:00:45 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Weak links (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rebecca, DHinMI, JG in MD

        DiFi, Tom Carper, Max Baucus, Mary Landrieu, Ben Nelson and of course, the weakest link of all "independent Democrat" Joe Lieberman.  There's about five Republicans who will at least occassionally deal but that is not enough to get to 60 even if Harry reid gets all 51 "Democrats" or sortas in line.

        The 60 rule has never, ever been used as frequently or painlessly as it is now and the blame needs to go not just to the Republicans but specifically to McConnell and Lott and a few of the hardest heads.  Most Republicans are far more scared of the Club For Growth and the Bush White House than of the opinion of the fast majority of their constituents.  Chuck Hagel dared to show independence in just one area, Iraq, and he got pushed out.  Warner lacked the ability to even get a primary vote to choose his successor.  They are hard core, intransigent and, yes, they are going to be sent packing. (Ironically the remaining moderates will be sent home at an even greqater rate).

      •  my mistake (0+ / 0-)

        I missed the word "not" in the sentence...

        I suspect Reid and Durbin are not among them

        If the problem is in part of his caucus, then, is it more a philosophical, an historical, or a personal confrontation-avoidance? If it's historical or philosophical, then it may be possible to change the attitude by citing evidence. But personal preferences might be a lot harder to change.

      •  He's not outing the obstructionists (0+ / 0-)

        I think they are in his own party.
        I think Reid is on their side.
        That, or he's a bigger wimp than most think.

        Bush Administration: Proving the saying, "You can fool most of the people some of the time, and 30% 24% all the time."

        by Helpless on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 06:29:40 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I'm sorry (0+ / 0-)

      But to use the words

      Congress

      Work

      Ethic

      together, in the same sentence, in any combination...

      Well...it just doesn't do it for me.  I can't wrap my mind around how those 3 words, when combined together can actually work out to something legitimate.

      I don't know...It's been a long day.  Maybe that's it.

      BTW...Cheers!

      "When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the Flag carrying a cross"...Sinclair Lewis

      by WSComn on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 12:25:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great post, but... (0+ / 0-)

    ...you might want to change the "it's" to "its" in the headline.

  •  The Money Quote (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rebecca, RickMassimo

    States once represented by common-ground dealmakers, including John Breaux (D-La.), David L. Boren (D-Okla.), James M. Jeffords (I-Vt.) and Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.), are now electing ideological stalwarts, such as David Vitter (R-La.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) and Jim DeMint (R-S.C.).

    So the argument is that replacing 3 DINOS with 3 partisan Republicans and one disgruntled former Republican with a Democratic Socialist is the nub of the problem?

    Poor Trent Lott, if he hadn't been able to count on so many votes, he would have made so many more good deals.....

    Clearly, there's a solution to this problem at hand.

  •  this issue is making me crazy (6+ / 0-)

    republicans are assuming my anger with Democratic leadership means that I wish they were back in control, and that is NOT the case, but there is no way to indicate that in the polls.

    Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.
    IMPEACH CHENEY FIRST.

    by TrueBlueMajority on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 12:15:04 PM PST

  •  And let's not forget that KKKarl Rove is hitting (6+ / 0-)

    the talk show circuit, LIEING about which branch of government took us to war in Iraq.  He is currently announcing as fact the total outright LIE that the CONGRESS rushed the country into war in Iraq during an election cycle and the ADMINISTRATION WAS AGAINST THAT because it was too political!!!

    Bwahahahahahahaha!!!!

    KKKarl Rove is HILARIOUS!  Either that or he thinks all Americans are a stupid as the idiots who always vote Rethuglican.

    Go f' yourself, KKKarl, you miserable excuse for a human being.  Only complete IDIOTS believe anything that comes out of that disgusting mouth of yours.

  •  Gordon Gekko Had It Right... (0+ / 0-)

    on how to deal with the obstructionist, Bush-enabling Republicans in Congress when he said...

    "I want every orifice in his fucking body bleeding red."

    .

    "Every good Christian should line up and kick Jerry Falwell's ass." ------Barry Goldwater

    by chicagorich on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 12:24:12 PM PST

  •  question is, are the Dems (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    scott5js, dotcommodity

    smart enough to "own the frame" on this one?

    Bill Maher put it best when he said that the Congress approval-rating is so low because the Dem margin in both chambers is so small.  They NEED MORE DEMOCRATS in Congress to get things done.

    We need more Dems to get things done.

    Sounds like a good party slogan for 2008.


    "You cannot leave the rapist with the victim to serve as the therapist" - Iraqi journalist

    by AlyoshaKaramazov on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 12:24:57 PM PST

  •  Use the "There's More...." link!! (0+ / 0-)

    I know this is important but this post is unforgivably long for a front page.

    There's something attractive about invincible ignorance... for the first 5 seconds.

    by MNPundit on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 12:27:14 PM PST

  •  Makes a great case for total obstructionism (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bablhous, JG in MD

    by the DEMOCRATS!!

    They ought to stop the world for the egregious suffering foisted upon the people
    by way of every single thing that the Bush Administration has done.

    Force Bush's hand...make him explain why everything that he has touched has been screwed up, cronied over, every single department, every branch of government.

    The only way to fight this fire is to light it up!

    I am all for a complete government shutdown until they can kick Cheney to the curb in whatever back room deals they care to make.  The lobbyists have paid them ALL up to the gills. I want a total shutdown of everything that BushCo has criminalized. Absolutely Everything, exc SS & Medicare

    Just put a 24-hour watch on every move that Cheney makes, put him under house arrest until Jan 09 so we don't get "attacked" again. What a creep.

    H.Res.333!!! GO for broke!!!

    First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. -Mohandas Gandhi

    by ezdidit on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 12:27:36 PM PST

  •  Role confusion (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    scott5js, JG in MD

    Our elected officials don't think their role is to change public opinion.  They think their job is only to legislate responsibly.  So they follow the "serious" people's advice and end up making the wrong decisions again and again.  

    They don't follow Democratic principles let alone democratic ones.  They disdain their base because the "serious" people have told them we are too extreme for "moderate" or "center" voters.  So they keep moving further to the right.  Both the Democratic and the Republican officials respect the republican base and both of them disdain the Democratic one.  

    They keep telling us what they can't do.  It's about time they focus on what they can do.  How about making good on one of their promises from 2006?  That they would control the agenda now.  The fact that they are allowing the R's to get their own legislation, amendments and resolutions out rather than the Democratic version is shameful.  

    ...that cannot be a wise contrivance which in its operation may commit the government of a nation to the wisdom of an idiot. Thomas Paine Rights of Man

    by Rebecca on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 12:32:29 PM PST

  •  The Dems need to issue an apology. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DHinMI, agnostic

    I'm talking about a media campaign in advance of the 2008 elections:  An apology to the American people.

    "We know that the country is desperate for a change. We feel your frustration with partisan politics, your anger at the ongoing cost of a war for which it may take generations to recover, and your disgust with the corruption that's been rampant in the nation's capitol for the last seven years.

    "We understand that when you cast your votes in 2006 to elect Democratic majorities in Congress, you were demanding change.  And that is why we are here to apologize to you, today.  Because we've failed.

    "Our values are your values.  Our priorities are your priorities.  But we have simply been unable to find a way to work with our colleagues on the other side of the aisle.  Again and again, the Republicans in Congress and the White House have blocked all our attempts to set a timetable for removing our troops from Iraq, for providing health insurance to the neediest of our nation's children, for addressing our energy and climate crisis.  And we just don't have enough Democratic representatives to break through the barriers to progress it appears they are committed to lay before us.

    We're not here to make excuses.  We're here to make change.  And a promise.  Our promise to you is that we will never waver, we will never quit, we will never tire to fight for your values and your priorities.  But we need your help.  Please stand with us on November 4th.

    www.climatechangers.org... it's a matter of degrees.

    by princemyshkin on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 12:32:33 PM PST

    •  That's not quite true... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      agnostic

      Democrats are complicit in the Iraq game. Just ask them: One wants a "residual" force to quell any vestiges of violence, and the other front-runner wants to withdraw "responsibly."

      I am all for Congress coming at the entire situation versus Bush from the left only, and as far left as possible.

      This means no recesses at all in the Senate. That means herd the cats in the House and shut down any debate at all from the right wingnuts.

      We have all heard enough form these asswipes on both sides of the aisle.

      It's time to shut down the government until they can get Cheney on an ankle bracelet or in solitary confinement---no visitors. The US isn't safe until we do. The man's been the worst traitor to his country.

      Close down the DoJ until Mukasey does his job.  Torture?? Outrageous! Driftnet wire- & web-taps? FISA & 4th Amendment breach!!

      Stop the whole apparatus. Don't pay Bush until he resigns or leaves office!!! NION!!!

      First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. -Mohandas Gandhi

      by ezdidit on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 12:42:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  More Republican Obstructionism (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dotcommodity

      From now on this should be repeated time and time again.

      I know you gripe on Democratic Weakness--but that is really a minor part--the real problem is Republican Obstructionism.

      Another theme that needs to be repeated all over again--is Republicans are dangerous.  Their policies are dangerous to US and to middle class.

      DANGEROUS and OBSTRUCTIONISM.

      Fully fund an 18 month withdrawal to be crafted by committee of military, foreign diplomacy experts and Sunni-Shiite reconciliation leaders, etc

      by timber on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 07:38:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Ramming (0+ / 0-)

    It was then that Lott started ramming through odious legislation like the welfare "reform" bill and getting it on to Clinton’s desk.

    I don't know how much "ramming" it took, considering that welfare reform was a part of Clinton's own plan and was supported by the DLC.

    HR 3734 passed with 78 votes in the Senate, including Biden, Breaux, Feingold, Harkin, Kerry, Levin, Lieberman, Reid, and Wyden among 25 or so Democrats who voted for it.

    Votes against were:

    Akaka, Bingaman, Boxer, Bradley, Bumpers, Daschle, Dodd, Feinstein, Glenn, Inouye, Kennedy, Kerrey, Lautenberg, Leahy, Moseley-Braun, Moynihan, Murray, Pell, Sarbanes, Simon, Wellstone

    Pryor didn't vote. All of the dissenters were Democrats.

    Democrats in the House split 98-98 (with 2 NV). They were joined by 2 Republicans and Bernie Sanders. Another 230 Republicans voted for the bill.

    And people wonder why some of us get confused about which party Clinton belongs to,

    I think there will be a staggering loss of human life out of all proportion to the stakes involved... Sen. George McGovern, March 1965

    by darrelplant on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 12:33:02 PM PST

    •  NOT That Version (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RonK Seattle, scott5js

      The Clinton version was far less draconian than what passed, and was very heavy on retraining and all kinds of things that bill neglected.  

      As for the yes votes, it was mostly fear.  

      Some get confused for reasons other than what they think.

      The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

      by Dana Houle on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 12:37:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not WHAT Version? (0+ / 0-)

        I linked to the bill that passed, which was assented to by virtually all of the Republicans and half the Democrats in the House, and all of the Republicans and half the Democrats in the Senate, and signed into law by Bill Clinton. Even Ron Wyden and Russ Feingold voted for version that passed.

        Where was the "we need 60 votes in the Senate to get anything through" back then? Oh, wait, the Republicans had 60 votes, because a majority of the Democrats in the Senate agreed with them.

        It's amazing how close that vote looks to the AUMF vote. Like there's a revolving cast of senators who are let off the leash to vote against the Republicans every once in a while to establish their Democratic bona fides, then scurry back to the dark.

        I think there will be a staggering loss of human life out of all proportion to the stakes involved... Sen. George McGovern, March 1965

        by darrelplant on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 01:28:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The Version That Passed the Repub Senate... (0+ / 0-)

          ..was dramatically different than the version Clinton proposed.  Hell, as much as I detest them, even the DLC's version wasn't odious, certainly not as odious as some of their trade policies.  But what the Repubs passed was almost exclusively punitive.  

          It's deceptive if not even dishonest to suggest that the Republican version signed by Clinton was something he wanted as opposed to something he determined he had to accept.

          Interestingly, btw, Rubin was one of the people who urged Clinton to veto the Republican version.  

          The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

          by Dana Houle on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 01:48:57 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Veto (0+ / 0-)

            But he didn't veto it, did he? In fact, the "punitive" welfare reform bill that did pass -- and which Clinton signed -- had more support among Democrats than the Iraq AUMF did.

            Who could have expected a Republican Congress to write a more punitive version of a welfare bill? You'd have to be a Rhodes Scholar or something to see that coming, right?

            I doubt George Bush wanted to get bogged down in Iraq for years, either; he was probably expecting to be rolled through Syria and Iran by now.

            The fact is, Bill and his buddies opened the door to the Republican version of the bill with their attempt to put a Democratic spin on Ronald Reagans's welfare policies. Reagan and Bush 41 spent 12 years telling everyone how the welfare queens were stealing America blind; Clinton and the DLC made sure they got in there to pander to white Reagan Democrats by promising to "end welfare as we know it", not by making sure there were family-wage jobs and day-care opportunities for people on welfare but by giving them cursory training and forcing them off the welfare rolls. Compassionate conservative Democrats. They weren't going to complain about the welfare queens, they were going to do something about them, even if they were mostly a figment of Reagan's John Birch Society-addled brain.

            I feel your pain, but Clinton's welfare policies sucked. His leadership on welfare reform sucked. And the fact that so many Democrats voted for the program that passed shows that there was, indeed strong Democratic support for the bill that Clinton signed into law.

            I think there will be a staggering loss of human life out of all proportion to the stakes involved... Sen. George McGovern, March 1965

            by darrelplant on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 02:44:44 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  We "Hate Congress" because . . . (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ezdidit

    they don't do jack-shit . . . unless you call passing themselves a $4,400.00 dollar raise and taking the month of August off an accomplishment.

    I want fucking impeachment . . . and I want it NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!

    "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex" Dwight D. Eisenhower

    by bobdevo on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 12:34:49 PM PST

    •  Thanks for Reading the Post (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dotcommodity, Memory Corrupted

      The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

      by Dana Houle on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 12:38:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sorry . . . I DID read the post . . . (0+ / 0-)

        and was trying to emphasize that by failing to go to the mat on FISA, MCA, Iraq funding, etc., the Democrats not only failed to get any thing done . . . they also failed to take advantage of situations where they could have made clear where blame lay.

        And by that failure, they became enablers of Republican  obstructionism.

        "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex" Dwight D. Eisenhower

        by bobdevo on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 12:52:13 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Hmmm (0+ / 0-)

          the Democrats not only failed to get any thing done

          Apparently you missed something:

          The two most respected experts on Congress are Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein, authors of the recent book The Broken Branch: How Congress is Failing America and How to Get it Back On Track.  In a recent talk on Congress with his co-author, Mann declared that "if you look at the 110th Congress in its pre-August legislative achievements relative to the 104th Congress after the 1994 elections, this Congress has produced a bountiful legislative harvest."  It doesn’t appear that back in January there was no agenda.

          The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

          by Dana Houle on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 01:02:00 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Didn't miss it . . . just found it inarticulate. (0+ / 0-)

            Who gives a shit about "legislative achievement" when it is the oversight and enforcement failings that most grievously damage the Republic.

            I don't care if they don't pass a single bill into law . . . if they pursue investigative and impeachment proceedings.  

            We already got enough laws.  We need some fucking enforcement.

            "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex" Dwight D. Eisenhower

            by bobdevo on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 01:17:46 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Time to give Bush what he wants (0+ / 0-)

    Eventually you just have to go with who holds the veto pen.

  •  The problem is the party system. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dotcommodity

    Over the years, the people have not approved of Congress no matter which party was in power.  Parties were not mentioned in the original Constitution, so they have grown up outside of it and thereby the wisdom of the Framers was not brought to bear on their genesis.  But the Framers did warn us about political parties.

    James Madison said in Federalist 10:

    "By a faction [party], I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community."

    "The inference to which we are brought is, that the causes of faction [party] cannot be removed, and that relief is only to be sought in the means of controlling its effects."  

    Unfortunately the Framers tried to deal with the "effects" of party nastiness by the system of checks and balances that now are dust.  If only they had found a way to eliminate parties and elections.

    And George Washington said in his Farewell Address:

    "... they [political parties] are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people..."

    "The alternate domination of one faction [party] over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty."

    Mr. Washington was right on all points.  Over the course of more than two centuries the party system has hijacked our government, because, as Mr. Washington said, parties will enable "cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men" to "subvert the power of the people."  

    The party system must be replaced.  And it needn't take two centuries to do so.  We have the technologies available to change the way we choose our representatives.  But, as in most things, the system is easy to change, while attitudes are not.  Working within the present system will not change things for the better.  Here and there, and from time to time, we will have a period that is better than the rest, but we will never reach the heights we are capable of, so long as we live under a government of the people, by the party, for the powerful.

    If you don't have an earth-shaking idea, get one, you'll love building a better world.

    by hestal on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 12:38:48 PM PST

    •  Political parties were extant (0+ / 0-)

      in early Revolutionary days. The fact the Constitution is silent on them is interesting.

      •  The Constitution is silent because the Framers (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dotcommodity

        had to get a document into the hands of the states for ratification.  During the Philadelphia Convention several compromises were made to hold the delegates together.  To prescribe a method of electing representatives would have wrecked everything.  So the Framers made some general requirements that the representatives must satisfy, but the method of their election, their internal operation, and the way they would run Congress was all left to the future.  Almost of the maddening rules that we object to in Congress today are there because parties want to protect their turf.  That is why the minority can obstruct, because each party finally realized that it can't always be in the majority and it did not want to appear irrelevant.  

        If you don't have an earth-shaking idea, get one, you'll love building a better world.

        by hestal on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 12:48:18 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  The parties will behave (0+ / 0-)

      Once we get back to the way it is really supposed to be, you will find that political parties are good things and that we need more of them.  The Constitution tells us that each group of thirty thousand people can have a vote on pending legislation.  AT present it is debatable as to whether we should have 800, 1600, 2000, or more VOTING members of the House of Representatives. Our structures shape our minds.

      "I know no safe depository for the ultimate power of society but the people themselves" -- Jefferson

      by TheTrucker on Thu Dec 06, 2007 at 07:09:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  What do you want passed? (0+ / 0-)

    Isn't it mainly a matter of opposing what Republicans want government doing? Like criminalizing abortion? Like warrantless surveillance? Like pro-government Supreme Court justices? Like a prolonged occupation of Iraq?

  •  Interesting phrasing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bten
    [quote]    The next year, White House Chief of Staff Erskine B. Bowles and Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin -- both wealthy Wall Street financiers -- sat huddled in Lott's office, as Lott and House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) tried to cut a final deal on a balanced budget agreement that included a cut to the capital gains tax rate.

        "There they were, two Democrats who had been very successful in business, squaring off with two Republicans who didn't have two nickels to rub together," Hoppe recalled.
        They struck a deal: Cut the capital gains rate and create a major federal program to offer health insurance to children of the working poor.
    [/quote]

    Reading that without party expectations, doesn't it sound like the successful, wealthy financiers should be in favor of the capital gains cut, while the two "who didn't have two nickels to rub together" were holding out for insurance for children of the working poor. It doesn't actually say that, but the juxtaposition of wealthy/tax cuts and "didn't have two nickels to rub together" with "working poor", spins it in that direction.

    I did something of a double take when I first read it.

  •  Excellent post. Good to see the emphasis (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DHinMI

    on the Senate and on the reporting.  As you said, the House is basically doing its part.

  •  the senate has permanently devolved into (0+ / 0-)

    a yin/yang unstable situation.

    The Yang - an aggressive, deceitful, protectionist (of their white house) and abusive group that prides itself on taking orders and marching in lockstep. They also have the great ability (or staff) that can pluck out a sound byte, framing what should be a reasonable issue into something completely different, as Sir M. Python might say. They prefer daylight, if only to see the object of their theft and greed more readily.

    It was not always like that. I agree that the promotion of so many GOPer congresscritters from their kindergarden to the Big House is one of the reasons. But there is more, much more. Just as the GOPers were becoming more abrasive and demanding, a different shift took place across the aisle. Today's dems?

    the Yin - a passive, feminine, negative, darkness-preferring, downward-seeking group that thinks that if someone raises their voice, they personally will be blamed for it. A group that prides itself for promising to do nothing in the face of deliberate Article One criminal acts, and that hesitates walking outside during daylight hours, lest they be scared by their own shadows.

    Comity? No longer a way of life, but "Not on your life".
    The standard GOP Senatwhore  understands that it takes two to tango.  The GOPer also knows that minute the Dems stand up to dance, they will be willing to compromise, even beg for a chewed up bone while the GOPer steals his steak and lobster lobbying meal.

    Part of this is due to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Part is due to the bald, unmasked aggression of the GOP. But a large part of it is due to absolute, total leadership failure on the D side. If we can't see it, then our blinders are no longer helping us in a race, but hindering us from seeing reality's  landscape.

    In the United States, doing good has come to be, like patriotism, a favorite device of persons with something to sell. - Mencken

    by agnostic on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 12:48:42 PM PST

  •  America's long term memory isn't. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    agnostic, dotcommodity

    These guys aren't stupid.  Well, at least the leaders aren't.  My take is that patience is the name of the game.  Legislative successes could get credited to the wingers, people will remember that "hey, the R's got stuff done in the minority" and those D successes will be tainted by the extreme compromises required to get bills through w.  Why risk the deep advantages in public opinion for weak or no progress?  Wait another year, expose the hypocrisy and failures as the doings of the wingnutter repuglicans, and get the white house as well as 60.

    Get all the fools on your side and you can be elected to anything. --- Frank Dane

    by Memory Corrupted on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 12:50:30 PM PST

  •  can't evaluate dems w/out talk radio factor (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dotcommodity, JG in MD

    coordinated uncontested repetition to 50-70 MIL people does the trickle-up groundwork in creating conventional wisdom in american politics. GOP obstructionism in bent-over subservience to the white house becomes dem failure or lack of ideas or general criticism of all govt- (throw em all out, don't vote, they're all the same, let market forces do it)

    until we get some new kind of Fairness Doctrine or until progressives begin monitoring GOP talk radio and picketing and boycotting their local talk stations when they lie and distort, there is little chance of Dem pols being able to blame GOP obstructionism or getting a veto-proof majority.

  •  Could we someday see... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bten

    ...a military coup in the U.S.A.?

    "I used to be Snow White, but I drifted."

    by pere on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 01:23:01 PM PST

    •  Not a Bad Idea (0+ / 0-)

      The unco-opted generals and admirals are royally sick of it all, and I bet they're talking to the JAG. I try to hope some illegal orders will be flouted (not flaunted).

      The gods are in the balcony and I can smell the popcorn.

      by JG in MD on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 01:26:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  what of the Colorado Springs fiasco, Boyton, and (0+ / 0-)

        many other bible-beaters who have been promoted over 7 yrs, replacing, even kicking out true patriots?

        Religion and our current military are now joined at the hip, at least in some areas and at some levels. not exactly  a confidence builder.

        In the United States, doing good has come to be, like patriotism, a favorite device of persons with something to sell. - Mencken

        by agnostic on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 01:34:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Seven Days In May (0+ / 0-)

      Totally possible

  •  Here's what seems to be the key (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    certainot

    At least from my perspective, the whole thing turns around this sentence:

    States once represented by common-ground dealmakers, including John Breaux (D-La.), David L. Boren (D-Okla.), James M. Jeffords (I-Vt.) and Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.), are now electing ideological stalwarts, such as David Vitter (R-La.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) and Jim DeMint (R-S.C.).

    Aside from the Independents cited, probably to keep this from looking at a cursory level from looking like a hatchet piece, all the 'common-ground dealmakers' cited are Democrats. All the 'ideological stalwarts' are Republicans.

    The take-away from this seems to follow fairly basically: Democrats, even conservative ones like Breaux, are more likely to try to govern with consensus. Republicans, on the other hand, have absolutely no interest in negotiating or in seeing any viewpoint outside their own ivory towers.

    Especially when visions harden into dogmatic ideologies, they become inhuman, cruel and dangerous. - Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

    by wingedelf on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 01:45:11 PM PST

    •  Errr, self edit. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DHinMI

      Read
      "Aside from the Independents cited, probably to keep this from looking at a cursory level from looking like a hatchet piece, all the 'common-ground dealmakers' cited are Democrats."
      as
      Aside from the Independents cited, probably to keep this from looking at a cursory level like a hatchet piece, all the 'common-ground dealmakers' cited are Democrats.

      Especially when visions harden into dogmatic ideologies, they become inhuman, cruel and dangerous. - Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

      by wingedelf on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 02:09:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Very Important. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DHinMI

    So much of practical American government has rested on unwritten rules of accommodation. In effect these unspoken ways of getting along and getting on were the necessary understructure of the system.  So people like  Rove, Blackwell and Gingrich found out you could disregard them.  So one can.  And so I can brand these men as outlaws,  they have worked hard at killing the Republic. They will continue. They hate democracy.  

  •  The I Hate Congress Narrative is Bunk (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brooke In Seattle, dotcommodity

    Sure the national approval rating for Congress is awful, but ask people if they would vote again for THEIR OWN REPRESENTATIVE and I guarrantee it, you will get a far different approval picture.

    As for the chief executive, sorry Mr. Bush, your numbers count.

    George W. Bush is just like Forrest Gump. Except that Forrest Gump is honest and cares about other people.

    by easong on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 02:39:27 PM PST

  •  Why aren't our two newly elected (0+ / 0-)

    Senators speaking up? That is why they were financially supported by Act Blue. Where are Tester and Webb?

    "This is not our America and we need to take it back." John Edwards.

    by mcmom on Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 02:57:29 PM PST

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