Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 8, 2008

AN ADVANCE LOOK AT THE REPUBLICAN OPPOSITION.... It's only been a couple of days since Barack Obama was declared the president-elect, but it's hard not to notice that congressional Republicans are already striking a confrontational pose. Take these ridiculous comments from Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl (R).

Jon Kyl, the second-ranking Republican in the U.S. Senate, warned president-elect Barack Obama that he would filibuster U.S. Supreme Court appointments if those nominees were too liberal.

Kyl, Arizona's junior senator, expects Obama to appoint judges in the mold of U.S Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter and Stephen Breyer. Those justices take a liberal view on cases related to social, law and order and business issues, Kyl said.

"He believes in justices that have empathy," said Kyl, speaking at a Federalist Society meeting in Phoenix. The attorneys group promotes conservative legal principles.

Kyl said if Obama goes with empathetic judges who do not base their decisions on the rule of law and legal precedents but instead the factors in each case, he would try to block those picks via filibuster.

Think about that. The second highest ranking Republican in the Senate, just a few days after the election, is already talking about blocking Supreme Court nominations that haven't been named, in response to Supreme Court vacancies that don't exist.

I'd add, by the way, that Kyl was one of the conservative Republicans who, in 2005, supported the "nuclear option," which would have declared that filibustering a judicial nominee was against congressional rules. That, of course, was when Bush nominees were in jeopardy.

At the risk of stepping on Atrios' toes, Jon Kyl is a pretty serious wanker.

Steve Benen 8:03 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (54)

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Comments

IOKIYAR

Posted by: Lew Scannon on November 8, 2008 at 8:06 AM | PERMALINK

Buckle up. The "dead enders, wankers, and far right knuckle-heads are going to do their damnedest to hudda badda (shit in the way) Obama's progressive agenda. Let them. Each time Obama should just say :"Remember the last two elections? There's another just around the corner. Wanna still be competitive? Play ball fellas"

Posted by: Stevio on November 8, 2008 at 8:11 AM | PERMALINK

Kyl lays it on the line: he believes empathy is a bad thing.

Posted by: mim on November 8, 2008 at 8:13 AM | PERMALINK

Well, we just can't have judges with empathy, can we? They might ignor the "legal" justification of torture, vote supression, or the inherent right of government to spy on its citizens.

Posted by: Danp on November 8, 2008 at 8:14 AM | PERMALINK

And the vaunted "Gang of Fourteen", where will they be?

But of course, that too was only for conservative judges. If there wasn't film of the nominee being the one to actually light the cross, then they would be approved.

The big question for the 110th Congress, is whether Harry Reid will grow a spine and stand up to the Republicans. If not, Obama won't get a single judicial or executive nomination past the Republican filibusters.

Hillary for Majority Leader!

Posted by: SteveT on November 8, 2008 at 8:18 AM | PERMALINK

"He believes in justices that have empathy,"

Unlike Republicans, who believe empathy is a sign of weakness to be avoided at all costs. Which explains everything worth knowing about Republicans, they're more sociopath than civilized human being.

Posted by: Shalimar on November 8, 2008 at 8:33 AM | PERMALINK

No empathy for zygotes too? Or selective empathy passes the litmus test?

Plenty of red out there to keep a big chunk of the map red. Rhetoric aside, there really is a red and a blue America and there are plenty of interests out here determined to keep it that way.

Posted by: lou on November 8, 2008 at 8:34 AM | PERMALINK

So 13 single topic posts on the front page and 8 are about republicans. This must be a republican-loving site.

Posted by: SJRSO on November 8, 2008 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

Senator Reid and President Obama should have Senate Bill #1 as the

Republicans are Hypocrites Bill

I am not sure how many Republicans are left who were in favor of the Nuclear Option. To McCain's credit, he was part of the Gang of 14.

I think the Democrats should require 75% of the remaining Republican Senators to go down to the well of the Senate and repeat the following:

"I am a partisan hypocrit. I never believed the Nuclear Option was the right way for the Senate to operate and I don't believe it now. I only supported it in the past when I was in the majority because I was more interested in partisan political gain rather than what was best for the country.

I was wrong and I am sorry."

If 75% of the Republicans did not give that speech on the Senate Floor then the Democrats should pass the Nuclear Option.

If the Republicans actually do the right thing then Obama should agree not to have any life time appointments who get less than 60 votes.

Posted by: neil wilson on November 8, 2008 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK

With Democrats heading for probably 58 or 59 seats in the Senate, Kyl just sounds like a fool. But that's the "conservative movement" for you: ignore science, ignore common sense, ignore mathematics. It's pretty clear that Obama's nominees will sail through easily, with a big Democratic majority plus a handful of sane Republicans like Snowe, Collins, Specter.

Big legislation is another matter, but filibustering nominees is a non-starter.

Posted by: Richard Cownie on November 8, 2008 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK

This is the just the beginning of their shameless, screaming-banashee hypocrisy. Basically EVERYTHING they have done over the years now they have to say is wrong, wrong, wrong when Obama or the Dem-controlled congress does it. All they have left are temper tantrums and attempts at obstruction. Although for the first time in a long time (maybe ever?) I have confidence that an Obama-led party won't let them get away with it.

Posted by: zoe kentucky on November 8, 2008 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

What do you mean when you say Kyl is "a serious wanker"?

I only know the slang meaning but I don't think you mean it that way. Or do you intend that meaning in a metaphorical way - as someone who loves the sound of himself more than working with others?

Posted by: tomb on November 8, 2008 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

Conservatives are irrelevant. Act accordingly.

Posted by: Harry Hopkins on November 8, 2008 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

I think that somewhere in the left blogosphere someone should write a bot that automatically generates this type of posting -- one that takes a current GOP criticism of Obama and matches it to same GOPer taking the completely opposite position in regards to GWB -- points out the hypocrisy and either ends with IOKIYAAR or Wanker.

This would be an infrastructure investment that would free up our precious national blogger snark resources to pursue other stories. I would support federal funding for such a project in the upcoming stimulus bill.

Posted by: tom in ma on November 8, 2008 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

The second Obama accepts the oath of office, the republicans will support everything they used to oppose, and oppose everything they used to support.

It's the republican MO. Why let logic and principle get in the way?

Posted by: bdop4 on November 8, 2008 at 9:20 AM | PERMALINK

Kyl, simply, rues the days he could have filibustered against Thomas, Scalia, and Renquist. No bigger ruling from the bench and activism, than the three of them reaching a decision on ruling for Bush, then having their law clerks frantically search for any rule of law and argument to support their decision.

They may as well have, collectively, said - "Guilty, now may we conduct voir dire"

Posted by: berttheclock on November 8, 2008 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

If Democrats have 56-58 senators, there are several moderate Republicans willing to join with the Democrats on just about any issue. The identities of those Republicans will shift from issue to issue but there most of the time will be enough to break the magic 60 barrier. Kyl is just about to discover what irrelevance is all about.

The real Republican power in the Senate will be in the hands of 6 or 7 moderate senators. Conservatives are screwed.

Posted by: Ron Byers on November 8, 2008 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

Make him filibuster, the Dems have to actually call the repubs out instead of trying to get filibuster proof majorities before putting anything on the floor.

make these clowns do the deed. See how long the repubs can maintain a united front after they actually have to do the leg work.

Posted by: dontcallmefrancis on November 8, 2008 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

As a Democrat who enthusiastically voted for Barack Obama I believe it would be a huge mistake to misread the election results as a mandate to take the country liberal. The United States clearly is a moderate, middle of the road country in terms of its politics and if the new administration pushes too far to the left there will be a backlash which will cause the Democrats to lose big time in the next Congressional elections.

This election was a vote against Bush/Cheney, the Iraq War, torture, the response to Hurricane Katrina, and Sarah Palin. If John McCain had ran a better campaign and chosen a qualified running mate the results would have been much, much closer, and that is not a mandate to take the country liberal.

When a liberal State like California that votes 70% for Obama also votes to overturn gay marriage this should give the left wing pause as to how far they can push the country. What Americans want from Obama is the economy restored, the healthcare system restructured to benefit everyone fairly, the environment a priority, etc. The American people are middle of the road on social issues and misreading the election will cost the Democrats dearly next time.

Posted by: Mark Jeffery Koch on November 8, 2008 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

Well, when the Senate is convened, there is a negociation about organization, and an organizing resolution is passed. At that time, the law should be laid down. We will get our judges, and we will brook no filibusters. We get to fill those slots, and we will hopefully fill them with liberals.

Posted by: POed Lib on November 8, 2008 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

"As a Democrat who enthusiastically voted for Barack Obama I believe it would be a huge mistake to misread the election results as a mandate to take the country liberal. The United States clearly is a moderate, middle of the road country in terms of its politics and if the new administration pushes too far to the left there will be a backlash which will cause the Democrats to lose big time in the next Congressional elections."

I have heard little about taking the country "liberal." The main questions is "Center-left" or "center-right." The answer is "center-left". That isn't liberal, but it does mean "work like hell for health care reform."

Remember that, when Bush won 5-4, everyone said "He has no mandate." Well, he didn't have a mandate, but he MADE HIS OWN MANDATE by his approach to policy.

We need to do that. I do NOT want to think about 2010. If we run the country ALWAYS thinking about the next election, why even do politics? We need to govern like we want to, and fuck the 2010 election.

Posted by: POed Lib on November 8, 2008 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

This election was a vote against Bush/Cheney, the Iraq War, torture, the response to Hurricane Katrina, and Sarah Palin. - Mark Jeffery Koch

You don't think it had anything to do with laissez faire capitalism, Wall Street greed, supply side economics, or political corruption, disingenuous campaigning and Republican wedge issues? I think it was a strong repudiation of the whole conservative worldview, even if Obama's policies and speeches didn't simplify it tthat much.

Posted by: Danp on November 8, 2008 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

Since the Dems have probably failed to reach 60 in the Senate, the most powerful Repub left in Washington is Arlen Spector. He, plus Collins, Snowe, and whatever moderate repubs are left could be persuaded to vote for liberal justices as long as they're not too obnoxious. But who are the other moderates? The original Gang of Forteen repubs were McCain, Graham (doubt either will be moderate) DeWine, Chafee (defeated) Warner (retiring) plus Snowe and Collins. (source-wikipedia) I was surprised Spector wasn't among them, given the fact that he was Bush's main opponet in the Senate on many issues from 2005-2007. Anybody here have insight on Spector and other moderate repubs? Without 60 of their own, the Dems can't stiff the moderates.

Posted by: Tim H on November 8, 2008 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

I was surprised Spector wasn't among them, given the fact that he was Bush's main opponet in the Senate on many issues from 2005-2007. - Tim H

The problem is that Specter seldom voted the way he talked. He, Collins, Snowe and a few others like Voinivich (sp?), Gordon Smith and even Warner seldom lived up to their words, except when their vote made no difference. The strategy, I would suggest, was to convince people that the Republican party really is a big tent. It is not, however. The party leaders have too much control.

Posted by: Danp on November 8, 2008 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

"come sentators, congressmen, please heed the call.
don't stand in the doorway, don't block up the halls
for he who gets hurt will be he who has stalled.
the battle outside is raging.
it will soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
for the times they are a changin'"
word! from bob dylan

Posted by: cat riley on November 8, 2008 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

I thought filibustering judges was really really bad.

As a matter of fact, I remember some people saying that filibustering judges was.... Satanic.

Posted by: TCG on November 8, 2008 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

So obviously Republicans are not bound by the rules he proposes for Democrats. Nice sense of honor and fair play!

A primary reason to have 60 Senators with a sense of dignaty.

Posted by: captain dan on November 8, 2008 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

The problem is that Specter seldom voted the way he talked.

Exactly. Pair Specter's rhetoric with his history of votes and note the pattern: promote the image of moderate Republicanism and idea-inclusiveness, squeeze major media props out of it, then vote with Bush.

I'm guessing that we'll get the most cooperation this time around from moderatish senators who are up for reelection in 2010 in distinctly purple states and don't want to have to run campaigns defending their constant obstructionism. Collins, for example, just got herself another six years; in my opinion, she can't be counted on.

Posted by: shortstop on November 8, 2008 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

Why is this even surprising? The Republicans have shown no sign during the election that they were willing to turn over a new leaf and engage in bipartisan cooperation. They like the scorched earth approach because 1) they have had some success with it and 2) they have attracted to their ranks folks who revel in such tactics.

Obama is going to have his hands full. I presume he had this in mind when he picked Rahm as COS.

Posted by: Dr Lemming on November 8, 2008 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

This must be a republican-loving site.

You can count! Can you read?

No love lost here.

The lame-duck Congressional session as well as the next Congress will be an interesting contrast & compare exercise for the traditional so-called "liberal" media - already there's been the "center-right country" mantra that's devoid of reality. Can the gasbags and wise old pundits consciously avoid memories of the last 8 years, as well as their own writings and musings that regaled us ignorant voters with stories of the Gang of 14 and the nuclear option?

Danp also notes an important point - talk is cheap, whiskey costs money. The vote records are indelible. I remember being pleasantly surprised by Senator Voinovich's comments in committee regarding John Bolton, and the near-lethal shitstorm that followed. Voinovich of course voted in favor of Bolton after publicly questioning his credentials, wherein I marked my calendar for 2010.

Posted by: GuyFromOhio on November 8, 2008 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

Ugh, now looking at the Class III list, and it's not particularly encouraging. Lots of deep red states, and several of the purpling and bluish ones have icons like Grassley and Specter. Well, not time to worry yet, Scout. I am not going to be an Eeyore this great week of all weeks.

Posted by: shortstop on November 8, 2008 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

Republicans: remember the "nuclear option"?

Posted by: Saint Zak on November 8, 2008 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

I think that somewhere in the left blogosphere someone should write a bot that automatically generates this type of posting ...

Followed by:

The American people are middle of the road on social issues and misreading the election will cost the Democrats dearly next time.

Now THERE is your 'bot. And it's already working splendidly - rarely do new software products work so quickly and bug-free. Effective? Meh.

FWIW, Senator John Kyl is a wanker, and I mean that figuratively, literally and again, with feeling.

Posted by: GuyFromOhio on November 8, 2008 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

For context, during the Supreme Court's Hamdan Case, Sen. Kyl (along with Lindsey Graham) openly and brazenly tried to lie to the Supreme Court. John Dean explains his malfeasance:
http://writ.news.findlaw.com/dean/20060705.html
For Kyl to whine to anyone in this country about "rule of law" is laughable.

Posted by: flounder on November 8, 2008 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

Alas, there are no Republicans of good will left in this world! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on November 8, 2008 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

Not that I disagree with most of the comments above, but, even given the sexist assumption that Justice Ginsburg must be written off as "empathetic" on gender grounds, does anyone think of Justice Breyer as first and foremost "empathetic????"

Neither of those two, nor Souter nor Stephens, ever had clost to the empathy for the poor or oppressed that Roberts and Alito have for the self-pitying rich.

Posted by: Gene O'Grady on November 8, 2008 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

Up or Down Vote!! Up or Down Vote!! Who's President now?....errrrr......nevermind

Posted by: Tiparillo on November 8, 2008 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

Is this still the Republican party? They seem to be morphing into something different, especially over the last eight years. They need a new name. How about "The F&*K Ups"? And a new slogan. How about "America may be a Democracy, but it's our job to f&*k that up!"

Posted by: Glen on November 8, 2008 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

A month BEFORE the election, Lindsey Graham declared that he should be re-elected because "If John McCain is president, I will be one of the people representing him, and if Barack Obama is elected, I will fight him tooth and nail."

http://www.unbossed.com/index.php?itemid=2346

Posted by: smintheus on November 8, 2008 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

The Dems should invoke the nuclear option on the first judicial appointment the Republicans attempt to filibuster. Since the Republicans will not hesitate to hold it over our heads when they get back into power, may as well get some benefit from it.

Posted by: divF on November 8, 2008 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

Anybody who understands politics shouldn't be surpised by this. The last two election cycles have pretty much cleaned most of the moderate Republicans out of Congress, so those that are left are going to be much more right-wing and confrontational.

You've got maybe 5-6 moderate Republican senators left (Snowe, Collins, Gregg, Specter, Lugar, Hagel), and probably only 20-30 moderates left in the House.

Posted by: mfw13 on November 8, 2008 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

As I read the comments I am still amazed by all the "hate" you left leaning people have. So many of your opinions are void of any facts; it's just a get even/get ahead emotional mentality. Whatever the numbers are in the House/Senate 56 million people in the country voted for Senator McCain. While President-Elect Obama clearly won this election; to declare it a mandate may be a little premature.
We look forward to debating the issues that President-Elect Obama will be trying to impose once he takes office. Our opposition to his ideas should not be mininterpreted as mean spirited, its our constitutional right.
However, I'm afraid in today's world of 24 hour news; any opposition will be looked upon negatively, and exploited for the news media's benefit.

Posted by: Bill on November 8, 2008 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

What the republicans don't understand is that we are in charge now. We will appoint judges at all levels that believe in the living constitution. It will mean what we says it means from now on.

Posted by: JW on November 8, 2008 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

mfw13:

Hagel is retiring ....

Posted by: fahrender on November 8, 2008 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

the American people will follow good leaders who show that they are moving in a positive direction. they have to be good politicians and have an intelligent, altruistic agenda. if Obama, Reid and Pelosi show that they can be brave and resolute the Republicans will be neutered. if not, it will be an agonizing mess.
Jon Kyl can eat dust and go bark at the moon.

Posted by: fahrender on November 8, 2008 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Shouldn't the nuclear option be back on the table? Not to actually use, of course, but as a scary bluff to keep idiots like Kyl in line.

Posted by: MarkC on November 8, 2008 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

Fillibuster my ass! Nuke dem sons-of-bitches and let God sort em out.

Posted by: Winkandanod on November 8, 2008 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK
already there's been the "center-right country" mantra that's devoid of reality.

That's not true. The "center-right country" mantra is entirely accurate, the problem with it is that it presumes something that is not accurate: that the Republican Party is a center-right party. In fact, the Democratic Party is a center-right party and the Republican Party is a far right party: the US is a center-right country, which is why the Republicans, as a far right party competing against a center-right party, always have to lie and smear to win elections, and even that hasn't been all that successful in the last two cycles.

Posted by: cmdicely on November 8, 2008 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

Someone needs to go back into the archives and pull up all the quotes these guys used to talk about obstructionist Democrats and any desire to change Senate procedures to do away with the filibuster. I want them thrown up in their face every damn day.

Posted by: ET on November 8, 2008 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

The United States clearly is a moderate, middle of the road country in terms of its politics [...] -- Mark Jeffrey Koch, @ 9:42

And nominating judges like Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Roberts, rather than replicating Ginsburg and Stevens and Breyer is what will keep us firmly in that middle. Right? Right? Because Scalia is middle of the road and Ginsburg is nothing but a raving commie. Right?

To Bill, @14:05

Sorry, old buddy; should have thought about that before. After the past 8 yrs of your misrule, you've *earned* every ounce of hate that can be heaped on you and then some. 'tis a pity that Obama actually means it, when he says he's gonna try and work with you; me, I'd leave you to rot, unburied.

Posted by: exlibra on November 8, 2008 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

As I read the comments I am still amazed by all the "hate" you left leaning people have. So many of your opinions are void of any facts; it's just a get even/get ahead emotional mentality. Whatever the numbers are in the House/Senate 56 million people in the country voted for Senator McCain. While President-Elect Obama clearly won this election; to declare it a mandate may be a little premature.

Bill -
It's a good thing you put "hate" in "quotation marks", since you clearly have no idea what you're talking about.

But I can see your point re: "mandate": an Electoral College tally of 364-174 (at most, for McCain) is a razor-thin margin, along with 53%/46%. And eight million more votes is almost too close to call - in China, that is. In the US? Not so much. Perhaps you'd feel more comfortable in the PRC?

But, frankly, after all Bush/Cheney and the rest of your ilk have done to fuck up this country during the last eight years, a cruder person than I might tell you to pound sand, or get bent, or bite me, or go screw yourself, or "quit whining, you sorry excuse for an adult", or any number of other more vivid expressions.

In short: you assholes lost in a BIG way. If the Dems in Congress were to treat you dickheads the way you've treated anyone to the left of Sean "I Have No Clue and I Must Scream" Hannity, you'd all end up - for crimes against humanity - in Gitmo so fast your fucking heads would spin. Although THAT would be a sight that would give a bunch of us a good chuckle, the Dems care a shitload more about this country than you jerkoffs, so you'll still be able to troll to your heart's content. Of course, y'all won't get any smarter, so that's a problem, but we can deal with it.

Gee, I guess you don't even have to be cruder than I am, to talk to you schmucks in the way you deserve. Live and learn.

Posted by: SFAW on November 8, 2008 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

Speaker Pelosi needs to defund every earmark, project and piece of legislation sponsored by Republicans for the next two years. Give them nothing to take home and make them easier to pick off.

Posted by: montag on November 8, 2008 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

"The strategy, I would suggest, was to convince people that the Republican party really is a big tent. It is not, however. The party leaders have too much control."

That *was* true. But one strange feature of the USA's political institutions is that there is no "leader of the opposition": when one party holds the House, Senate, and White House, the opposition party has no clear leader. And that usually means that they have great difficulty maintaining any kind of party discipline, especially in defying the wishes of the President.

Posted by: Richard Cownie on November 8, 2008 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

Senate Democrats should play by the rules - nominate sound legal minds that they see fit to serve for any open judicial position, and let the Republicans play their roles to question and then vote yes or no on the nominations.

At the first attempt of a Republican filibuster, Senate Dems should invoke the Republican-founded option to have the Senate President to rule on a motion that would bar filibusters on judicial nominees.

At that point, to forestall any future Republican meddling in the affairs of grownups, the Congress should announce its intent to - by majority vote - allocate enough new Supreme Court Justices to restore a balance to the Court that would reflect the balance of the citizenry.

We have eleven US Circuits... why not at least eleven Justices??


Posted by: 2009_can_be_1937 on November 8, 2008 at 8:06 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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