Sunday, November 28, 2004

It's been a long day's night

I'm sure my regular readers have been wondering where I was. For the holiday season, I decided to just not care about very much for a few days and just relax. I didn't watch PBS or CNN or C-SPAN. I didn't read the paper, I barely read any of my emails. I didn't even watch football games live. I just slept and watched movies for three straight days... and it was fantastic. I really needed a kind of vacation away. Working six days a week every week, with few exceptions, for all of the football season was just insane. And I think it really affected my work, both here at the blog and at the paper. Hopefully I'm recharged enough to really get after it now. So I'm back in the game and checking out my usual sites. I've found that our biggest concerns are that the fillibuster rules may be changing in the Senate and that congressmen don't actually read bills before voting, and neither do their staffers anymore.

The nuclear option would be a last resort if other measures fail, said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who will likely play a central role in the debate as a member of the Judiciary Committee and chairman of the Constitution subcommittee. Cornyn argues that judicial filibusters unconstitutionally require a 60-vote supermajority to approve nominees, not the simple majority mandated in the Constitution.
Why is it alwawys someone from my state? And why are they always so stupid? I really think it is a cry for help from red states to increase federal money for public education. Fillibusters unconstitutional? I'm sure that's exactly what the 1st Congress thought when they instituted these rules. Actually, I'm not sure when the fillibuster was first used, though I recollect something about Parliament from 8th Grade Social Studies. The point is, these are long standing rules in the Congress and Republicans can't take the fact that anyone would question them. I think they're sore that "Dear Leader" didn't get 100% of the vote. I mean, Saddam Hussein only got 98.9%, what do these people want? Calling it the "nuclear option" is a great start. This "constitutional option" shit shouldn't fly. I don't see what's constitutional about silencing the 48% of America that didn't vote for their guy. If they go through with this, there will be some consequences. We had the same sort of thing happen here in Texas during special session on redistricting, and almost all of the House Democrats walked out and took a plane to Oklahoma to blow a quorum. Then a second special session got the Senate Democrats in New Mexico. So we did redistricting in a third special session. Quite frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if something similar happened here, though I don't think that Reid would lead his people to that. The Seante Democrats don't really have the cajones to pull something like that off, especially since they would have to leave the country to a place without extradition or something. We could spend the whole 109th Congress trying to get our legislators back in our own country. That won't happen because too many people have to jockey for the '08 primaries, and they have re-election in 2006. Just not feasible. But something will happen. One of the other cherished rules is that congressmen be given at least three days to read a proposed bill before a vote is taken. Now, members of congress rarely read legislation on their own. That's what staffers are for they read it and brief the congressman. And you need several days to get through the large omnibus bills that are literally 10 volume multi-thousand page, 50-pound behemoths. Bills that cover appropriations for a whole fiscal year and spend hundreds of billions of dollars come out of conference with tons of extra pork and strange riders with only hours for staffers to read and brief congressmen on before the vote is taken to pass it and send it to the president. That sort of scandalous behavior is typical in this congress under the Republicans. I'm with Josh Marshall when he says we need Democrats to be the party of actual reform. Too many times we've dedicated ourselves to superficial reforms to make ourselves more electable. I would much we commit to long-term change in our party and the way we approach things, which I think will pay off electorally in the long run anyway.

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