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Did anyone really expect anything different from obstruction-obsessed Republicans? The party of no showed its true colors again by blocking (for now) President Obama's cabinet nominee. Zachary Roth at MSNBC:
Chuck Hagel, President Obama’s choice for Defense Secretary, is at risk of not being confirmed, thanks to a potential Republican filibuster—just weeks after Senate Democrats backed down in their bid to make such filibusters far harder. That’s got progressive activists who pushed for reform telling Harry Reid and co.: ‘We told you so.”
John Avlon at The Daily Beast:
Since the election, Republican talking points have reflected the fact that they need to reach out beyond their base: to be positive rather than negative; appear more reasonable, less obstructionist.

But how you act speaks more loudly than what you say, and Senate Republicans have doubled down on obstructionism with their shameful filibuster of secretary of defense nominee Chuck Hagel. Add to this fresh insult the hold Sen. Rand Paul put on Obama’s nominee to be CIA director, John Brennan, and it looks like Republicans are backing a cynical political strategy that could compromise national security while proliferating hyper-partisanship even further in the future.

Let’s put this in perspective—Republicans decided to filibuster a Republican secretary of defense nominee, someone Mitch McConnell once called one of the most respected foreign-policy voices in the senate, someone John McCain said would make an excellent secretary of state. The Senate, of course, is entrusted with the ability to advise and consent—but filibustering a cabinet nominee is virtually unprecedented, because it violates the time-honored principle that presidents should be able to pick their cabinet. In the process, Republicans are creating a dangerous precedent that could impact presidents of both parties for decades to come. If this is the new normal for national security appointees, I’m sure the next Supreme Court nomination will be a model of reason and civility.

Let's jump below the fold for more analysis from pundits on the news of the day.

At The Washington Post, Greg Sargent calls on Senator Harry Reid to revive the filibuster reform debate:

I don’t know how this is going to play out, but if Hagel does go down, it’s hard to imagine anything happening that makes as eloquent a case for Reid and Democrats revisiting filibuster reform than this affair will have done. Remember, the watered down filibuster reform deal Reid agreed to was at least partly premised on the idea that both sides were at least somewhat committed to ending some of the abuses that rendered the Senate dysfunctional during Obama’s first term. We now see that Republicans are making a mockery of that arrangement. This goes well beyond Hagel; as always, it goes to the question of whether we are going to have a functional Senate.
Memo to Harry Reid: Time to revive the threat of filibuster reform. Make it absolutely clear that this won’t be tolerated.
Steve Kornacki at Salon highlights that Republican obstruction here is one for the record books:
From an institutionalist’s standpoint, what’s happening now with the Hagel nomination is very troubling. Simply put, we’re in uncharted territory. Look at it this way: Hagel is on course to be the first Pentagon nominee and only the third Cabinet nominee ever to face a 60-vote requirement for confirmation. But even that understates it, because the other two – C. William Verity and Dirk Kempthorne – weren’t up against serious filibusters.
Switching gears, in The New York Times, Paul Krugman takes on Marco Rubio and the "zombies":
Mr. Rubio is a rising star, to such an extent that Time magazine put him on its cover, calling him “The Republican Savior.” What we learned Tuesday, however, was that zombie economic ideas have eaten his brain.

In case you’re wondering, a zombie idea is a proposition that has been thoroughly refuted by analysis and evidence, and should be dead — but won’t stay dead because it serves a political purpose, appeals to prejudices, or both. The classic zombie idea in U.S. political discourse is the notion that tax cuts for the wealthy pay for themselves, but there are many more. And, as I said, when it comes to economics it appears that Mr. Rubio’s mind is zombie-infested.

Senator Elizabeth Warren showed that her campaign was full of truth-in-advertising and she faced down Wall Street in a banking committee hearing this week. Ben Protess at The New York Times:
Elizabeth Warren’s distaste for Wall Street defined her tenure as a regulator and her subsequent campaign for the Senate.

So it was no surprise when her inaugural appearance as a Senate Banking Committee member featured a scathing critique of financial risk-taking.

Video from Ryan Grim over The Huffington Post here.

On the climate change front, George Zornick brings us the latest policy details:

Senators Bernie Sanders and Barbara Boxer announced comprehensive climate change legislation Thursday morning at a news conference on Capitol Hill that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050. It’s an ambitious bill that doesn’t settle for half-measures, but rather lays out an actual solution to the climate crisis. “This is a gold-standard bill,” Boxer said. “Every once in a while we have them.”
The GOP is sure to try every tactic to defeat such bills. That's all the more reason to enact real filibuster reform.

Finally, Matt Simonette at ChicagoPride details yesterday's historic vote in the Illinois Senate on gay marriage:

The Illinois State Senate today granted a Valentine wish to gay and lesbian constituents seeking legal marriage recognition—the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act passed in the chamber by a vote of 34-21.


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