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Tilting at Windmills

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July 23, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

FILIBUSTERS....This chart got a lot of links over the weekend, and for good reason. It's pretty eye-popping. The accompanying article says that the trend toward more filibusters "has been evolving for 30 years," but really, that's pretty misleading even if it's technically true. In fact, the number of filibusters has been relatively steady since 1986 — until this year, when Republicans found themselves in the minority for the first time in a decade and decided to throw an unprecedented temper tantrum about it. If they keep things going at their current pace, they'll have conducted 153 filibusters by the end of 2008, compared to the previous record of 58.

It's also worth noting why Republicans are filibustering everything in sight. It's not because it's the only way they have of blocking legislation they dislike. After all, a Republican is president. The real reason is a desperate desire to kill popular legislation quietly (the press doesn't spend much time reporting on routine filibusters) rather than force President Bush to kill popular legislation in full public view (the press does report on presidential vetoes). The problem is that the public tends to be on the side of Democrats when domestic issues actually get some attention, so Republicans benefit by keeping their disagreements as low key as possible. The last thing they need is a bunch of high-profile vetoes that would make it crystal clear exactly what they're fighting against.

Thus, as a friend keeps reminding me, griping about obstructionism per se won't really get us very far. For the most part the public just tunes it out as "politics." It's a point worth making, but it has to be secondary to the main point: making sure the public knows what it is that Republicans are opposing. Unfortunately, I'm not really sure how to do that given the current state of the press in America. More funny YouTube videos?

Kevin Drum 12:57 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (80)

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Force the Republicans to actually carry out the filibuster threat.

If the Republicans really do debate their filibuster for three days straight, the press will have to cover it.

It's only this half-assed filibuster-without-debate that manages to fly under the radar.

Posted by: ferg on July 23, 2007 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

It's also worth noting why Republicans are filibustering everything in sight.

This is a very misleading graph. Whether or not Republicans are filibustering more depends on the PERCENTAGE of bills being filibustered, not just the numerical amount of bills being filibustered. I suspect what's happening is that when Republicans were in charge, less bills were proposed because conservatives believe in small government conservatism and therefore there would be less bills to regulate how we should live our lives and less bills to spend money.
But now that the Democrats are in charge, liberals are proposing much more bills to control our lives and more big government liberal spending (like minimum wage, stem cell, and regulating bank loans to students) so of course there would be more filibusters because many more bills are being proposed in Congress.

Posted by: Al on July 23, 2007 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

As the Republicans gear up for their Gotterdamerung, it's prudent to note that not only did the Democrats exercise the privilege with some restraint, but they did so to resist a Constitution-shredding cabal of criminal royalists and their greedy lackeys in Congress. What the Republicans are resisting is the return to sanity and the rule of law.

Posted by: clem on July 23, 2007 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

The last forced filibuster was a draw at best so I'm not sure how it would work. But it's probably worth another try for some completely unrelated piece of legislation. Instead of bringing in cots--which looks pretty pathetic--do it the right way. No cots, not just a one day thing.

Choose the most popular piece of legislation that the GOP is filibustering and roll with it. No media announcement, just start doing it and keep it going. Days if they have to.

Posted by: gq on July 23, 2007 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum >"...More funny YouTube videos?"

Something funny enough that everyone, no matter their political orientation, can have a good laugh while at the same time being so annoying that even those that hate it can`t forget it

Something that fosters one of those frustrating mind trapping mental loop experiences that endlessly repeats despite all attempts to ignore it; a memory looping virus

"The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter." - Mark Twain

Posted by: daCascadian on July 23, 2007 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

We need more 'stunts' like what Reid pulled earlier. YOu want to filibuster? Then lets REALLY filibuster. Everytime they want to force their arbitrary 60 vote threshhold and expect Dems to just draw back, REid should go, "Alright, you want to filibuster? Filibuster then, because we're going to push this important bill forward. If you want to blockade it, blockade it and show the public what you're standing for'. No more gentleman's agreement that if you don't have 60 votes, you just quietly pull the bill back out of consideration. Make them go through that 'spectacle' each and every time Reps want to block off a bill. Keep highlighting what genuine obstructionism looks like.

Posted by: Kryptik on July 23, 2007 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

it's lost past time to make the fuckers actually do the non-stop talking. WTF is wrong with Reid that he won't make them actually filibuster??

Posted by: cleek on July 23, 2007 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

"Unfortunately, I'm not really sure how to do that given the current state of the press in America. More funny YouTube videos?" Kevin Drum

Kevin, I agree the broadcast media is pretty pathetic. Except for Bill Moyers its all horse race, all flash, and no policy. The Democrats need to go over the top of the networks. The YouTube empowered netroots gives them the tool. How about more serious YouTube videos?

Posted by: corpus juris on July 23, 2007 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

So, Al, what you're saying is when the Republicans were in charge of congress, they didn't work very hard and they didn't try to do very much. Did I get that right?

Posted by: Ralph Kramden on July 23, 2007 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps if the Democrats were more willing to allow floor votes on the various pending judicial nominations, instead of just bottling them up in the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Republicans would be more willing to let legislation move on the floor of the Senate.

Would any of you be in favor of that type of trade?

Posted by: DBL on July 23, 2007 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

Al: "liberals are proposing much more bills to control our lives"

Yes, the cheapskates on your saide of the "isle" (as egbert puts it) only want to spend money to end our lives.

Posted by: Kenji on July 23, 2007 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

You forgot to mention the 14% approval rating of Congress. "Popular legislation "? The Democrats have spent the past six months in one long temper tantrum. If real legislation was being proposed, filibusters would not get the support of moderate Republicans. Reid was complaining in 2005 about how the Republicans were making him filibuster everything. Come on. Your memory can't be that short.

Posted by: Mike K on July 23, 2007 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Holy crap! If I was a McClatchy shareholder I'd be questioning their use of resources. Talev, Yingling, and Treible all spent a lot of shareholder money creating that graphic with data from the Senate Historical Office.

If it was actually worth making a comparison between this senate and previous ones don't you think the new york times or washington post would have been on top of this. When you're all alone on a story like this you have to question whether you made a major f#$k-up in allocating a few thousand dollars in staff time to it.

Posted by: B on July 23, 2007 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Here comes the "make them enforce the filibuster" calls again. Never mind the facts. And by the way, counting cloture votes as always being indicative of a filibuster is also incorrect. But hey. It's better than hearing Kevin try to post on Iraq with a straight face.

Posted by: Pat on July 23, 2007 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

Reid should take the August recess to bolt cots to the floor next to each and every senate desk. Then, he should announce that 1) all filibustered bills will be REQUIRED to undergo 30 hours of debate 2) all filibustered bills will PRECEDE other business and 3) every Senator must be present in the Capital building for all filibusters, under penalty of arrest by the Senate Seargent at Arms.

Posted by: POed Lib on July 23, 2007 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK
….if the Democrats…… the Republicans would be more willing…. DBL at 1:24 PM
Wanna bet? Posted by: Mike on July 23, 2007 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

Pat:

Your ignorance and cluelessness are simply amazing.

The whole point is not what happens on one filibuster. Who the fuck cares about that? The whole point, I HOPE, is to raise the cost of the filibuster strategy, and force the minority out into the open where everyone can see what's happening.

Posted by: POed Lib on July 23, 2007 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately, I'm not really sure how to do that given the current state of the press in America.

Like people say above: more pajama parties.

The 30-hour debate gets attention; it's positive for the Democrats and negative for the Republicans. It encourages individual Republicans up for reelection in bluish districts to defect, showing the Republican hold weakening. It captures on video the batshit crazy things that the batshit crazy wing of the Republicans believe.

I mean, what's not to like?

Posted by: Wapiti on July 23, 2007 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

If real legislation was being proposed, filibusters would not get the support of moderate Republicans.

Nice try, Mike. Among the bills the GOP is obstructing is an ethics bill that already passed 97-2!!! Rescumlicans are wolves in sheep's clothing. You can't bargain with the devil.

Posted by: MeLoseBrain? on July 23, 2007 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

That graph is a simply wonderful example of "defining deviance down." By reducing the cost of the filibuster to the minority, the frequency of the filibuster has increased. When you couple that with the perversion and clueless blind motherfucking moronicity of today's Repukeliscum, you get today's pitiful Senate.

Make the filibusterer pay! In St Louis, a filibusterer may not leave the floor. In one case, an alderman trying to sustain a filibuster had to pee into a bucket. That's what we need here: Get them IN THE SENATE, IN THEIR CHAIRS, until the CLOTURE VOTE IS TAKEN.

Posted by: POed Lib on July 23, 2007 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

I suspect what's happening...

oh, you suspect? Get back to us when you've got more than just your own uneducated guess.

Posted by: haha on July 23, 2007 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

That isn't the original "Al". The original "Al" had better mechanical skills in his writing. This one's bad grammar gives me an ear ache.

(Incidentally, whatever happened to the distinction between "less" and "fewer"? Use "less" when you're referring to something that can't be enumerated. It's not difficult.)

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on July 23, 2007 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

What they need to do is exactly what the Republicans would do in this situation: Threaten to get rid of the filibuster and actually do it. It is undemocratic anyway and throughout history has been used to block progressive legislation, most notably the CRA of 1964. I wish the Dems would have forced the issue a couple years ago and made the Republicans actually get rid of it during the whole Alito debate.

Posted by: Chris on July 23, 2007 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

Mike K

If you really get into the details,you discover that those low congress approval ratings are tied directly to the public's frustration with the Democrats for not moving the Iraq and related issues, including impeachment. The public thought things would change after last November's election. If the Democrats work at it, really work at it, they can either move Republicans to give up or down votes or make pay a very heavy price for being obstructionists.

Kevin is right. The mainstream broadcast media would much rather report about some teenager going to jail for repeated traffic violations. It has no interest in explaining why Republicans have filibustered about 50 bills so far this congress. Trent Lott is right, obstruction is a high risk strategy. So far it is working for the Republicans because they are being helped by the broadcast media. The link I provide above discusses a tool that might help keep the broadcast gatekeepers honest.

Keeping those gatekeepers honest is a worthy discussion. Done right the Democrats can go right over the gatekeepers heads.

Posted by: coprus juris on July 23, 2007 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Because if there's one thing the American people are paying attention to, there PO, it's Senate procedural obstruction. I clearly remember the widespread outrage over the threats to invoke majority cloture under Frist. Oh wait ... nevermind. There wasn't any. You aren't by any chance, Bob Shrum posting under an alias, are you?

Posted by: Pat on July 23, 2007 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

What happened in 1970?

Posted by: B on July 23, 2007 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Here is what I do not get, and would deeply appreciate having explained.
When the Repukes were in power in both Houses, the Dem's couldn't even get to the microphones. They were, IIRC, completely powerless, voiceless, and (this goes without saying) gormless.
Now that the Dem's are in charge, however, the Repukes still control the agenda, and stymie everything -- to the point where, with the connivance of the corporate media, the Dem's are still nearly voiceless, as well as apparently utterly powerless.
So: why is this?
Why does the majority rule when the Republicans are the majority, but the minority can effectively obstruct everything when the Republicans are the minority?
Thank you, and I'll take my answer off the air.

Posted by: smartalek on July 23, 2007 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Make the filibusterer pay! In St Louis, a filibusterer may not leave the floor. In one case, an alderman trying to sustain a filibuster had to pee into a bucket. That's what we need here: Get them IN THE SENATE, IN THEIR CHAIRS, until the CLOTURE VOTE IS TAKEN.

Posted by: POed Lib on July 23, 2007 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

By the way. Someone who compares the rules of the U.S. Senate to their local city council, probably shouldn't be calling anyone else ignorant. But in your defense, I suppose we could change the chamber's rules so that they would be in some way simliar to the rules the people in your little town follow. If you could get 67 votes to invoke cloture on the rules change that is. Dummy.

Posted by: Pat on July 23, 2007 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

DBL - Would any of you be in favor of that type of trade?

Sure...but first we'll need to go back and roll Clinton's judicial appointments that were held up to complete the deal - which would, of course, elimanate the need for some of those pubbie appointments.

Posted by: steve on July 23, 2007 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

What happened in 1970?

Posted by: B on July 23, 2007 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

If you mean why did cloture votes spike in that Congress, the answer is that Robert C. Byrd became the Majority Whip (defeating Teddy Kennedy in a shocker, by the way.) Byrd changed the whole ball game. One of the most procedurally influential Senators of all time.

Posted by: Pat on July 23, 2007 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK
…If real legislation was being proposed, filibusters would not get the support of moderate Republicans…. Mike K at 1:27 PM
Republicans block Medicare Drug Price Bill

Republicans block ethics legislation

"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."
"This year Republicans also have blocked votes on immigration legislation, a no-confidence resolution for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and major legislation dealing with energy, labor rights and prescription drugs."
What is a 'moderate' Republican? They march in lockset until they come up for election, then talk in independent line that reverts immediately thereafter.

….remember the widespread outrage over the threats to invoke majority cloture under Frist…. Pat at 1:50 PM

The 109th Congress had 45 Democrats and 55 Republicans. There was a deal by moderate Democrats, that, in effect, sold the party out and made it impossible to get 41 votes for a filibuster. That 'compromise' enable Republicans to confirm a worthless group of radical judicial nominees.

Posted by: Mike on July 23, 2007 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Reid won't make the Republicans truly filibuster because it would mean letting them talk for house uninterrupted. Now that the Democrats have control, they're terrified that public opinion will turn against them. Giving the Republicans hours of uninterrupted oration is tantamount to giving them free press and a free pulpit to spew their ideas around the country. That's why, in Reid's stunt last week, most of the time was eaten up by speeches by Democrats.

What Reid fails to understand is that many of the Republicans are simply insane, and letting them display that insanity -- aided by sleep deprivation -- would probably work to the Democrats' favor.

Posted by: Remus Shepherd on July 23, 2007 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Either the GOP senators have bullet-proof seats or it's Japan, 1945--they're a kamikaze corps, lining up to sacrifice themselves for the mentally defective figurehead they worship as a god.
Perhaps they've been so beaten into submission by Rove and Cheney that they can't make a move to at least protect themselves before the next election, when they can expect themselves portrayed embracing Carlos II, and facing an electorate so sick of them that even "Look! Queers getting married!" won't have an effect.

Posted by: Steve Paradis on July 23, 2007 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

This is very disheartening and causes my cynicism and skepticism about the future of this country to go off the charts. I really think this country is on it's way to becoming a second-rate nation, if it survives at all.

The Founding Fathers worried a great deal about "factions", which is how they referred to political parties, before there were political parties in the United States. They worried about factions placing their own good ahead of the good of the country and that is what you are seeing very clearly in Kevin's chart. Their fears were warranted, as we now have a situation where an incompetent, corrupt and self-indulgent executive branch is shielded from all accountability by a lickspittle, toady Congress. The GOP apparently would rather see this country go down in flames than hold Bush/Cheney accountable for their misdeeds. Remember that it was Republicans that got Nixon to resign, when they realized it would damage the country to go through an impeachment trial. The current GOP Congress has none of the integrity that the GOP had in 1973. They put political party above all else.

It's all over folks, except for the suffering....

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on July 23, 2007 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

Declare two days per week, filibuster days, and force the Republicans to filibuster day and night on both those days.

Two days per week, until they stop this shit.

Posted by: jerry on July 23, 2007 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

That 'compromise' enable Republicans to confirm a worthless group of radical judicial nominees.

Posted by: Mike on July 23, 2007 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, Mike, the Gang of 14 MOU is exactly the way things are supposed to work in the US Senate. And it is the type of compromise that hopefully will be possible on the big chalenges facing our country if people in both parties ignore angry partisans like so many posting here today.

Posted by: Pat on July 23, 2007 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

Interesting thing if you look at the graph.

If you AVERAGE together the threats of filibusters for each the Democrat controlled congresses and the Republican controlled congresses, you see that the Republican controlled (and by extension - Democrat minorty) congress was more obstructionist, because the minority, in this case the Democrat was more obstructionist ON AVERAGE. If you through out the datapoint for the last Congress, which is probably just an outlier, Democrats become then even more obstructionist relative to the Republicans.

You gotta see the whole forest through the trees, and not just get caught up on one tree.

Posted by: egbert on July 23, 2007 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

If it was actually worth making a comparison between this senate and previous ones don't you think the new york times or washington post would have been on top of this. When you're all alone on a story like this you have to question whether you made a major f#$k-up in allocating a few thousand dollars in staff time to it.

I'm sure that's it. McClatchy/K-R wasn't the only bureau to ask the right questions about Iraq before the clusterfuck was launched or anything.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on July 23, 2007 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

"Holy crap! If I was a McClatchy shareholder I'd be questioning their use of resources. Talev, Yingling, and Treible all spent a lot of shareholder money creating that graphic with data from the Senate Historical Office."

LOL... 30 seconds to retrieve the appropriate file from the Senate online resource. Five minutes in Excel. What was that you were saying about "resources," again?

"If it was actually worth making a comparison between this senate and previous ones don't you think the new york times or washington post would have been on top of this."

My, what an interesting (lack of) point. The data isn't worth reporting on solely because The New York Times and The Washington Post haven't reported on it?! The mind boggles.

"When you're all alone on a story like this you have to question whether you made a major f#$k-up in allocating a few thousand dollars in staff time to it."

Not when the data quite clearly demonstrate that there is a very real (and very overlooked) story there. Um, did you have a point to make?

Posted by: PaulB on July 23, 2007 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

"You forgot to mention the 14% approval rating of Congress."

He didn't forget it; it's entirely irrelevant.

"'Popular legislation'?"

Yes. Next question?

"The Democrats have spent the past six months in one long temper tantrum."

LOL... None of which has prevented them from writing and attempting to pass legislation - legislation that is being blocked by filibustering Republicans.

"If real legislation was being proposed, filibusters would not get the support of moderate Republicans."

LOL... Dear heart, you really should do your homework before you post mindless partisan drivel like this.

"Reid was complaining in 2005 about how the Republicans were making him filibuster everything. Come on. Your memory can't be that short."

So you're perfectly fine with a filibuster rate that's triple the rate of previous Congress's? No red flags there? No problem at all? Even though you are so ill-informed, you don't have the foggiest idea what legislation is on the table and what has been blocked?

Can we get some smarter monkeys, please?

Posted by: PaulB on July 23, 2007 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

"Actually, Mike, the Gang of 14 MOU is exactly the way things are supposed to work in the US Senate"

Actually, Pat, it's neither the way things are "supposed" to work nor is it the way things are not "supposed" to work, mostly because there is no one "right" way to do business in the Senate.

Posted by: PaulB on July 23, 2007 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, my point was I've been waiting a couple months for this graphic. What took them so long and why are the major newspapers still reluctant to use the f-word and/or help us out with an apples to apples comparison?

Posted by: B on July 23, 2007 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

"Perhaps if the Democrats were more willing to allow floor votes on the various pending judicial nominations, instead of just bottling them up in the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Republicans would be more willing to let legislation move on the floor of the Senate. Would any of you be in favor of that type of trade?"

Since judicial nominations are not, in fact, getting "bottled up" in the Judiciary Committee and since nobody is even pretending that there is a connection between judical appointments and the current Republican blockage, no.

Posted by: PaulB on July 23, 2007 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

Because if there's one thing the American people are paying attention to, there PO, it's Senate procedural obstruction. I clearly remember the widespread outrage over the threats to invoke majority cloture under Frist. Oh wait ... nevermind. There wasn't any. You aren't by any chance, Bob Shrum posting under an alias, are you?

I smelled a repukeliscum troll. Say, didn't you forget to blame Clinton? You bozos are so fucking predictable.

Posted by: POed Lib on July 23, 2007 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

My mistake, B. I mistook sarcasm for the standard wingnut fare. My apologies for the error.

In any case, getting this graphic wider play is likely to change the frame of the debate pretty significantly.

Posted by: PaulB on July 23, 2007 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

it is the type of compromise that hopefully will be possible on the big chalenges facing our country if people in both parties ignore angry partisans like so many posting here today.

The only compromise Repukeliscum toads like you recognize is total capitulation. As far as angry, you pathetic brain-dead bush-kissing toady, if you ain't angry you a total idiot.

Posted by: POed Lib on July 23, 2007 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

"Because if there's one thing the American people are paying attention to, there PO, it's Senate procedural obstruction."

Actually, they are, although not in those terms, of course. What's interesting about the Senate Republicans is that they are trying to have it both ways -- blocking everything in site and simultaneously crowing triumphantly that the Democratic Congress is just as "do-nothing" as they were. A few more graphs like this, though, and I suspect that some things will change before the 2008 election.

Posted by: PaulB on July 23, 2007 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

"And it is the type of compromise that hopefully will be possible on the big chalenges facing our country"

So let's see: a "compromise" that worked almost entirely in the Republican Party's favor was the ideal solution? Yeah, right....

Posted by: PaulB on July 23, 2007 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone know where there is a straighforward list of the 42 bills that have been filibustered this term? I was trying to make Kevin's point to a coworker and if I had a list to point to it would be easier. If no one has done so yet, tonight I will make one from the Senate web site.

My coworker makes fun of Pelosi and Reid for not getting anything done and at the same time says how dangerous they are for 'undermining the war'. Guess no one ever said logic was the wingnuts' strong suit. I told him he can't have his obstructionism and eat it too.

Posted by: Dawn on July 23, 2007 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

Actually there PO, I wasn't saying anything at all about Clinton. I voted for him twice and will for his wife as well. I was comparing your ridiculous suggestion of a winning political strategy to Bob Shrum's winning record.

Posted by: Pat on July 23, 2007 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

So let's see: a "compromise" that worked almost entirely in the Republican Party's favor was the ideal solution? Yeah, right....

Scum-sucking toady kissbutt dead-enders like Pat recognize two paths: agree with Bush IMMEDIATELY or agree with Bush in 5 MINUTES. A compromise to brain-dead bozos like Pat is agreement with BUSH in 2.5 MINUTES.

For the rest of us, there are two sorts of people in the US today: really angry Americans or happy fascists. Pat appears to be a happy fascist.

Posted by: POed Lib on July 23, 2007 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

I caught the sarcasm, B - I hope you caught mine right back.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on July 23, 2007 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

Dawn, Pelosi has had no trouble getting bills passed, since the rules in the House are heavily stacked in favor of the majority party. In the Senate, Harry Reid points to just a few of the items being blocked.

Posted by: PaulB on July 23, 2007 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking of bargaining with the devil, what about the King amendment to grant immunity to citizens who report suspicious behavior ? Can't offend those flying imams, can we ? Airline employees have been noticing suspicious behavior including attempts to drill holes between foreward lavatories and cockpits. Of course, this is all a bumper sticker. Nothing to see here. Just move along.

By the way, what happened to Phil E Buster ? I guess the DNC decided he doesn't fit the present debate.

Posted by: Mike K on July 23, 2007 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

LOL.... So let's see... Mike K. writes a foolish post full of nothing but partisan drivel and gets, appropriately, slammed for it. So how does he respond? By writing a foolish post full of nothing but partisan drivel! Like I said, can we get some smarter monkeys, please?

Posted by: PaulB on July 23, 2007 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

Mike K. writes a foolish post

Mike K is a repukeliscum. He can't help writing foolish posts. Today's repukeliscum are really lame, and have lost the ability to reason clearly. That's because they are too busy checking with James Dobson on the right answer.

Posted by: POed Lib on July 23, 2007 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

Paul B. - Thanks for the link. That is a good start.

I would have thought that if it was easy as some have said for McClatchy to come up with the numbers for their graphic, they could just as easily have pulled the text into a table and linked to it on their web site. That would have completed the story better than their vague words about the bills that were obstructed. I'll file that under 'when I run a news organization'.

Posted by: Dawn on July 23, 2007 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK
.... the Gang of 14 MOU is exactly the way things are supposed to work…. Pat at 2:28 PM
There is a difference between compromise and capitulation and that is that in compromise, differences are split and both sides are somewhat satisfied. The Gang of 14 split nothing, capitulated and enabled confirmation of radical nutjubjubs.
…I voted for him twice and will for his wife as well…. Pat at 3:42 PM
Since Shrum's record is for writing concession speeches, you sound more like a Liebercrat than a serious individual. Posted by: Mike on July 23, 2007 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

So let's see... Mike K. writes a foolish post full of nothing but partisan drivel and gets, appropriately, slammed for it. So how does he respond? By writing a foolish post full of nothing but partisan drivel!

With a link to Michelle Malkin into the bargain, I might add. Mike K seems hell-bent on confirming his status as a barking wingnut, doesn't he?

Posted by: Gregory on July 23, 2007 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

[it is Democratic. "Democrat" is a noun]

Posted by: Mike K on July 23, 2007 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Irony alert: Mike K wriotes: You folks just aren't educable, and tops it off with You aren't interested in discussing facts.

Posted by: Gregory on July 23, 2007 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

I see Mike K and DBL (Dubya's Butt Licker) are both present and accounted for with their usual canards, obsfucations, and lies.

The numbers should be normalized in some fashion for who controls the veto power at the time of the filibuster.

There is really little reason for the GOP to filibuster much of anything, since Bush merely need veto it and the GOP has sufficient numbers to block any override straight up.

Thus, they are clearly doing it for the reasons at least one GOPer has admitted: to simply ensure that the Democratic Congress passes nothing substantial - to falsely, as is their usual SOP, make it look like a do-nothing Congress because of the Democrats, when it is really the GOP that is standing in the way - while keeping Bush at least partially standing upright by ensuring he doesn't have to veto many bills.

Once the GOP hits about 60 filibusters, a new record, and startes approaching 70, it will be harder for them to maintain the illusion.

Good news is that should come just about in time for the 2007 elections - woooooo hooooo.

Gonna love those campaign ads showing the number of times each of the vulnerable GOP senators filibustered legislation of benefit to their citizens just to keep the Democrats from passing anything.

Posted by: anonymous on July 23, 2007 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

"I would have thought that if it was easy as some have said for McClatchy to come up with the numbers for their graphic, they could just as easily have pulled the text into a table and linked to it on their web site."

Not necessarily. If I recall correctly, the table that lists those numbers lists only the numbers, not the specific bills affected.

Posted by: PaulB on July 23, 2007 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

"Irony alert: Mike K writes: You folks just aren't educable, and tops it off with You aren't interested in discussing facts."

LOL... In a post that got deleted for trolling, no less. And I'm supposed to take comments like that seriously? From an idiot who has basically admitted that he has no idea what legislation is being blocked nor why it is being blocked, and stubbornly refused to deal with the actual topic of the thread -- the unprecedented extent of the obstruction. I think maybe he needs a new dictionary -- he doesn't understand the definitions of the words he's using.

Posted by: PaulB on July 23, 2007 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

"There is really little reason for the GOP to filibuster much of anything, since Bush merely need veto it and the GOP has sufficient numbers to block any override straight up."

It's worse than that. They're even blocking legislation that has overwhelming Republican support through such childish tricks as refusing to name candidates to a conference committee so that differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill can be reconciled.

Posted by: PaulB on July 23, 2007 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

Once again, Kevin moves the ball forward as only he can...

Posted by: coffeequeen on July 23, 2007 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

Goodness, the rules of Congress get uncomfortable when the majority changes. I just come over here for entertainment once in a while. This blog was worthwhile about four years ago when it was Calpundit and I still have high regard for Kevin, even if we don't agree. Among the comments, though, the IQ level has sagged badly. Not everybody but there are no debaters anymore. Just whiners and profanity enthusiasts. As if level of discourse was inversely proportional to intelligence. The Democrats used the filibuster. Now the Republicans do it. I have to say that Harry Reid is pretty easy to outwit. I'm not even sure that term applies.

Posted by: Mike K on July 23, 2007 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

"Goodness, the rules of Congress get uncomfortable when the majority changes."

LOL... No, dear heart, only when Republicans pull stunts like calling for cloture votes at triple the normal rate, a fact that you still cannot bring yourself to acknowledge, much less address.

"I just come over here for entertainment once in a while."

Trust me, Mike, you're succeeding in your quest to entertain us.

"Among the comments, though, the IQ level has sagged badly."

ROFL... Oh, the irony... Um, Mike, you have read your own posts on this thread, right?

"Not everybody but there are no debaters anymore."

Yes, Mike, there are, but we actually need something to debate! You have written not one word on this thread that was a) relevant and b) substantive. Until you do, we'll just keep on laughing at you, since that's the only appropriate response.

"The Democrats used the filibuster. Now the Republicans do it."

Yes, Mike, they do, at triple the rate of prior Congresses and to the extent that no legislation is getting passed. Is any of this sinking in yet, Mike?

"I have to say that Harry Reid is pretty easy to outwit.

See you in 2008, Mike.

Oh, by the way, Mike, I've highlighted the topic of this thread. Do feel free to post something that's actually relevant to that topic, won't you?

Posted by: PaulB on July 23, 2007 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

I don't usually waste time with "Al," but this time he has a clever argument that happens to be wrong, as I will demonstrate.

Al wrote, "This is a very misleading graph. Whether or not Republicans are filibustering more depends on the PERCENTAGE of bills being filibustered, not just the numerical amount of bills being filibustered. I suspect what's happening is that when Republicans were in charge, less bills were proposed because conservatives believe in small government conservatism and therefore there would be less bills to regulate how we should live our lives and less bills to spend money. But now that the Democrats are in charge, liberals are proposing much more bills...."

Bill numbers are generally assigned in order of bill introduction. All of the following info was obtained just now from Thomas. McClatch's graph shows that as of July 18, 2007, there were 42 filibusters. And Thomas shows that the highest Senate bill number in the 110th Congress (the current Congress) through July 18, 2007 is S. 1809. Here are the comparable highest S. bill numbers for July 18, 2005, and July 18, 2003, the comparable points in the 109th and 108th Congresses:

Year     S. by 7/18
2007   1809
2005   1420
2003   1431

So, comparing the previous two Congresses, with the Senate under Republican leadership, there were an average of 1425.5 S. bills by July 18 of the first session, and in the current Congress, with the Senate under Democratic leadership, there were 1809 S. bills by July 18. From McClatchy, the average number of filibusters for the entire two years of the previous two Congresses was 50.5, with a projected 153 for full two years of the current Congress.

Doing the arithmetic, based on these data, allowing for the increased number of bills, Senate Republicans are filibustering at a rate 2.39 times higher than Senate Democrats filibustered in the 108th and 109th Congresses.

Want to check my arithmetic?
Filibuster ratio = 153/((49+52)/2) = 3.0297
Bill ratio = 1809/((1420+1431)/2) = 1.269
Filibuster ratio / Bill ratio = 2.39

Sorry, Al. You had an interesting explanation, but it is incorrect.

Another point: some of the Democratic filibusters were of judicial nominees. Republicans in 2007 don't have to filibuster judicial nominees, because those come from the Republican White House. So the true filibuster ratio for endogenous Senate bills would actually be higher than calculated here.

Posted by: Joel Rubinstein on July 23, 2007 at 8:08 PM | PERMALINK

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."

Posted by: Furious on July 23, 2007 at 8:59 PM | PERMALINK

I still don't understand why these clowns are blocking everything that moves instead of letting some of it go to Bush to veto. Bush is gone the end of next year anyway. 21 Republican senators on the other hand (vs. 12 Democrats) have to stand for reelection.

If I was running against any of them, I think I'd make up a big stack of paper with the titles of popular legislation printed in large letters on each sheet. Then I'd get myself a red ink pad, a great big rubber stamp with the word "FILIBUSTERED" on it and some creepy sounding music and go to work making some negative ads.

Posted by: CalD on July 23, 2007 at 9:02 PM | PERMALINK

I'm against either party using the filibuster too often. But I have a question - is that number of 153 filibusters by the end of term normed, either for time when Congress is not in session or for periods of normally high legislative action?

If it is, it is really noteworthy.

Posted by: trashhauler on July 23, 2007 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK

"Is that number of 153 filibusters by the end of term normed?"

McClatchy projects 153 "if the current pace continues." What do they mean by that?

January 3, 2007 to January 3, 2009 is 731 days.
January 3, 2007 to July 18, 2007 is 195 days.

Just projecting 42 filibusters for 195 days forward for 731 days yields 157 days in proportion. In other words, to the nearest integer, 42/195 = 157/731.

157 is close to the projected 153, so McClatchy may have modified the projection based on weekdays, or they may have adjusted for vacations, or they may even have used the historical ratio of the number of filibusters for the full term divided by the number of filibusters by July 18 of the first year, but I doubt they did that. I think it was a straight proportion of days.

Posted by: Joel Rubinstein on July 24, 2007 at 12:27 AM | PERMALINK

If only the Dems had had the guts to force the GOP to use the nucular option a few years ago, and get rid of filibusters, we wouldn't be here today.

Posted by: craigie on July 24, 2007 at 12:47 AM | PERMALINK

The first commentator gets it, and I'm sure there are more remarks above that get it. THESE AREN'T FILIBUSTERS. MAKE THE REPUBLICANS FILIBUSTER. FORCE THEM TO YAK ON FOR HOURS ON END, DAY AFTER DAY, ALL YEAR LONG. Let's see how the pigs enjoy that.

Posted by: Anon on July 24, 2007 at 1:01 AM | PERMALINK

You forgot to mention the 14% approval rating of Congress. "Popular legislation "? The Democrats have spent the past six months in one long temper tantrum. If real legislation was being proposed, filibusters would not get the support of moderate Republicans. Reid was complaining in 2005 about how the Republicans were making him filibuster everything. Come on. Your memory can't be that short.
Posted by: Mike K on July 23, 2007 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Mike, that is pure horseshit.
More than that it is a big lie in service of the radical cabal that runs the GOP.
I don't know why you would find it ethical to post such misleading lies in piublic but it is shameful.
1 - the 14% rating comes from liberals being pissed that Congress didn't keep confronting Bush on the military budget.
2 - The legislation is very popular, that is why the republicans are terrified of having Bush veto it in public.
3 - Reid used the procedures of the Senate to block the appointment of the most reactionary, illogical and unqualified judicial nominees that this reactionary administration keeps thowing up at Congress to make them block it and add another talking point to their quiver. Seems like you are willing to play along.

The US has 20% of the electorate who are irresponsible radicals, they are blind christopaths or market extemists and they will vote republican until every last inch of America is destoyed. They are the CHUD of the nation and must be marginalised for their to be any way forward.

In these times, you can be a good american or you can be a republican. Make your choice.

Posted by: Northern Observer on July 24, 2007 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK
You mean you guys don't really believe that? Rhymes With Right at 8:39 AM
I believe that it is a great shame that the desires of the American people are being thwarted and their children's lives are being sacrificed to serve the ego of a war mongering president who has long since lost their confidence.
….. if there were such a vote on every piece of legislation, there would be no time for debate at all. Rhymes With Right at 8:46 AM
Gee, all those guys would be too busy voting and reading the legislation. That is an especially silly argument. It's remains hypocritical because Republicans denounced filibusters and wanted to use the 'nuclear option' to remove them, only to use them to support their loser president and his loser agenda to the bitter end. Posted by: Mike on July 24, 2007 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

"You mean you guys don't really believe that?"

Oh, we do, which is why you can't find anyone claiming otherwise. We just want these stunts to be widely publicized and the truth told about this "do-nothing" Senate.

Posted by: PaulB on July 24, 2007 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

Anonymous Liberal has a good take on the Republican's rationale which explains all the talking points that were repeated in this thread.
Why all the filibusters?
...The reason that isn't happening is because the Republican party is pursuing an even more cynical strategy. The GOP caucus, led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, is determined to block any and all significant legislation from even making it to the president's desk. McConnell's goal is to deny the Democrats any legislative achievements whatsoever, to make them look incompetent and unwilling to deliver on their campaign promises. Here's a recent McConnell quote:

The surveys indicate that the broad public is disapproving of them [the Democratic Congress] as well, and there are a reasonable number of Independent-type voters who are not particularly ideologically driven, who just want to see us do things – you know, accomplish things. Those people aren’t happy too, so they’re losing both ways. They’re not only not satisfying the hard left, but they’re disappointing the independents who took a chance on them last November.”

McConnell clearly thinks that if he can keep the Democratically-led Congress from accomplishing anything, that the people who "took a chance" on the Democrats in the last election will get fed up and return to the GOP. That's why he brings up Congress's historically low approval ratings every chance he gets.
McConnell is intentionally blocking popular legislation so he can then turn around and accuse the Democrats of not accomplishing anything. He's intentionally driving down Congressional approval ratings and then pointing to those ratings as evidence that the Democrats don't deserve to be in control. To quote a line from The Outlaw Josie Wales: "Senator: Don't piss down my back and tell me it's raining."
The reason McConnell thinks he can get away this is because the press has so far done a terrible job of explaining to the public why legislation isn't getting through the Senate. As Josh Marshall has been tirelessly documenting, the word "filibuster" has all but disappeared from the vocabularies of most reporters. Most stories simply report that a bill failed to make it through the Senate or that the Democrats weren't able to muster enough votes. When the news is reported in this way, the fact that a GOP minority is blocking the legislation is obscured; the blame for the failure to get things done is attributed to Congress as a whole, not to the Republican minority in the Senate....

Posted by: Mike on July 24, 2007 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

Why do we have this absurd thing called a filibuster anyhow? Back when the Repuglies were threatening to use the “nuclear option” I said, fine, let them trash that dumb old tradition and the next time the Dems get power they will be so much better off.

I mean, the Senate is already so undemocratic, with western cows having more votes than big city humans. The filibuster pushes the place off the believability charts.

Posted by: James of DC on July 25, 2007 at 1:48 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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