A couple of Ohio commenters -- Ninepatch and besseta -- have noted that when they contacted Sen. Sherrod Brown to express their opinion about whether or not Joe Lieberman should keep his gavel as Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, they received the following response:
Thank you for contacting me regarding Senator Joe Lieberman’s role as chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs.
While Senate Ethics rules prevent me from commenting on the content of your letter, Senate committee assignments, including chairmanships, are typically determined at the beginning of each Congress. I do not expect any changes to committee assignments until the beginning of the next Congress in January of 2009.
Thank you again for contacting me.
I'm here to tell you, Sherrod Brown is snowing you if he's sending you this response.
This is a half-truth at best, and it's a prime example of how Senators use people's confusion over procedure to tell them something bamboozling and slip out the door while you're scratching your head over it. The old "Senatorial Steak Sauce" act, where they feed you bullshit with A-1 on top and tell you it's a porterhouse steak. Because after all, what do you put steak sauce on? Steak, right? (Well, I don't. Because I like to taste the steak. But this is supposed to be about bullshit, anyway.)
Brown doesn't want to answer. Fine. But what he does here is seize on the tangentially-related fact that in January, the Senate will adopt organizing resolutions on the Senate floor that will formalize who will chair each committee, and who will be the ranking minority Senators.
Those content of those resolutions, however, is going to be determined by the outcome of organizing meetings of the Senate Democratic Caucus and the Senate Republican Conference. The Democrats will meet and make their determinations -- including the very thing Ninepatch and besseta were actually asking about -- next week. Not January. Next week.
It's a half truth at the very best. Yes, there won't be any actual, formal changes in committee leadership until January. But the one and only chance Brown will have to influence what goes into the resolutions that cement any changes into place will come next week.
So he freaked out and told you to wait until it was too late.
What a load of shit. He ought to be ashamed of himself. I thought things were supposed to get better and more transparent with him after his callous and shameful vote on the Military Commissions Act, which he cast in a panic over his upcoming election.
I understood the "necessity" of that vote. But this answer is pointless and cowardly.
Now seems as appropriate a time as any, by the way, to announce that we're going to be launching a spinoff Daily Kos community in the near future, dedicated to watching the politics and other happenings in Congress. Details will follow shortly, but you should expect more of this sort of examination as a regular feature. We've worked too hard to try to elect "more and better" Democrats not to watch them carefully, try to understand procedure, and prevent ourselves from being duped by half-truths like this one.
I hope you'll all make a habit of visiting, and that the widespread adoption of that habit will prevent nonsense like this from cropping up too often in the future.