I really don’t intend this to be a post about Republican crazy but we’re going to start out with that subject. Let’s hope this post morphs into something else by the time I’m done.
Apparently it took a female Republican to come up with the most vicious way to punish women who had the audacity to get themselves raped.
Wednesday, state representative Cathrynn Brown of New Mexico introduced a bill whose sheer audacity makes Todd Akins look as harmless as an ill-informed teenager groping his way through puberty.
The proposed legislation, House Bill 206, would make it illegal for a woman to have an abortion after being raped because the fetus is evidence of the crime. A women who does choose to have an abortion would be charged with the third-degree felony of “tampering with evidence,” which carries up to a three year prison sentence in New Mexico.
As the bill states:
“Tampering with evidence shall include procuring or facilitating an abortion, or compelling or coercing another to obtain an abortion, of a fetus that is the result of criminal sexual penetration or incest with the intent to destroy evidence of the crime.
In other words, Brown just said to rape victims: give birth to this baby or you’ll go to jail.
Crazy Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal says the “GOP is a populist party’ and is the party of the middle class. Whoa, something in that exorcism must be causing him to have some kind of flash back. Here’s Tiger Beat on the Potomac:
“We must quit ‘big,’” he said. “We are not the party of big business, big banks, big Wall Street bailouts, big corporate loopholes or big anything. We must not be the party that simply protects the well off so they can keep their toys … We are the party whose ideas will help the middle class, and help more folks join the middle class.”
He called repeatedly for a reorienting of the party’s focus from the Beltway to state capitols.
“We believe in planting the seeds of growth in the fertile soil of your economy, where you live, where you work, invest, and dream, not in the barren concrete of Washington,” he said. “If it’s worth doing, block grant it to the states. If it’s something you don’t trust the states to do, then maybe Washington shouldn’t do it at all. We believe solving problems closer to home should always be our first, not last, option.”
Well, he did explain one of the ways he’s made everything worse down here along with that call out to states being able to do what ever they want which sounds remarkably like returning reinstating Jim Crow and expanding Jane Crow.
The Louisiana governor suggested “re-thinking nearly every social program in Washington” in a speech to members of the Republican National Committee gathered here.
“If any rational human being were to create our government anew, today, from a blank piece of paper – we would have about one fourth of the buildings we have in Washington and about half of the government workers,” he said, according to a copy of the speech obtained in advance by POLITICO. “We would replace most of its bureaucracy with a handful of good websites.”
I’ve been caught in one of his website hells as well as the result of his passion for getting rid of every service that a government more efficiently provides. Things have been replaced by endless phone trees and decidedly unhelpful websites. It ain’t pretty or compassionate. It’s more like being thrown into Somalia.
So, here’s a good time to talk about some interesting facts about Dung Beetles. This is from the National Geographic which should send out a crew to figure out if there’s any sign of intelligent life in Republican held state houses through out the country. Dung Beetles evidently have a keener sense of the right way to go than Republicans as they navigate via the Milky Way.
“This is a complicated navigational feat—it’s quite impressive for an animal that size,” said study co-author Eric Warrant, a biologist at the University of Lund in Sweden.
Speaking of moving balls of dung around, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has wimped out on Filibuster reform.Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have come to a deal on filibuster reform. The deal is this: The filibuster will not be reformed. But the way the Senate moves to consider new legislation and most nominees will be. Here’s an explanation from Beltway Bob errrr Ezra Klein.
What will be reformed is how the Senate moves to consider new legislation, the process by which all nominees — except Cabinet-level appointments and Supreme Court nominations — are considered, and the number of times the filibuster can be used against a conference report. You can read the full text of the compromise, which was sent out to Senate offices this morning, here (pdf).
But even those reforms don’t go as far as they might. Take the changes to the motion to proceed, by which the Senate moves to consider a new bill. Reid seemed genuinely outraged over the way the process has bogged down in recent years.
“What the Republicans have done is turn the motion to proceed on its head,” he argued. “It was originally set up to allow somebody to take a look at a piece of legislation. What the Republicans have done is they simply don’t allow me to get on the bill. I want to go to it on a Monday, they make me file cloture, that takes till Tuesday. Then it takes two days for the cloture vote to ‘ripen,’ so now it’s Thursday, and even if I get 60 votes, they still have 30 hours to twiddle their thumbs, pick their nose, do whatever they want. So, I’m not on the bill by the weekend, and in reality, that means next Monday or Tuesday.”
But the deal Reid struck with McConnell doesn’t end the filibuster against the motion to proceed. Rather, it creates two new pathways for moving to a new bill. In one, the majority leader can, with the agreement of the minority leader and seven senators from each party, sidestep the filibuster when moving to a new bill. In the other, the majority leader can short-circuit the filibuster against moving to a new bill so long as he allows the minority party to offer two germane amendments. Note that in all cases, the minority can still filibuster the bill itself.
Mary Jo White has been appointed to head the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) by President Barack Obama.
Currently the head of litigation at Debevoise & Plimpton, a private law firm, Ms White will add a female voice to Mr Obama’s second-term team, which is so far dominated by men. More importantly, the former federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York has experience policing Wall Street, which fell under her jurisdiction. Mr Obama has slammed bankers for their role in the financial crisis and ensuing recession. The choice of Ms White seems to signal his resolve in getting tough with the banks.The appointment is not without controversy. Ms White has benefited from the revolving door between public service and private practice. In the aftermath of the crisis, financial firms sought the assistance of former regulators with strong ties to the government. In a scathing article on Bloomberg‘s website, Jonathan Weil notes that Ms White participated in the defence of many people and institutions at the heart of the financial collapse. In October 2008 she was cited in a critical report by the SEC’s inspector general for receiving “relevant information” that was not publicly available. Some will ask whether she is truly a poacher turned gamekeeper or simply setting herself up for another lucrative turn through the revolving door.Mr Obama, for one, is convinced he is getting the “tough-as-nails prosecutor”. By putting Ms White at the SEC, he has suggested that the agency’s priority is enforcement. But a bigger challenge may come from the sprawling Dodd-Frank legislation, and its many gaps and contradictions. Much of the next chairman’s time should be devoted to rethinking how America’s capital markets are structured, and deciding how that vision will be translated into the numerous rules the SEC is required to write under Dodd-Frank’s sloppy mandates. Ms White, in other words, has a big job ahead of her.
Well, today’s post sorta took an interesting turn didn’t it? It went from crazy Republicans to wimpy Democrats with one little mention of the only smart and honest shit pusher in between. Well, at least the pictures are fun to look at.
What’s on your blogging and reading list today?
You have to wonder what kind of political insanity rules our world these days when Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell makes history for filibustering himself. I’m look for a word that’s a cross between immolation, masturbation, and the ultimate act of being an ass but I can’t come up with one. How can you self-abuse and fuck an entire country at the same time?
A move to embarrass Democrats backfired on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Thursday as the Kentucky Republican proposed a vote on raising the nation’s debt ceiling — then filibustered it when the Democrats tried to take him up on the offer.
On Thursday morning McConnell had made a motion for the vote on legislation that would let the president extend the country’s borrowing limit on his own. Congress would then have the option to disapprove such hikes, in a fashion similar to one that McConnell first suggested during last year’s standoff over the debt ceiling.
The minority leader apparently did not think Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) would take him up on his offer, which would have allowed McConnell to portray President Barack Obama’s desire for such authority as something even Democrats opposed.
Reid objected at first, but told McConnell he thought it might be a good idea. After Senate staff reviewed the proposal, Reid came back to the floor and proposed a straight up-or-down vote on the idea.
McConnell was forced to say no.
“What we’re talking about here is a perpetual debt ceiling grant, in effect, to the president, ” McConnell said. “Matters of this level of controversy always require 60 votes.”
Sixty votes are required to end a filibuster during debate on a bill and hold a vote.
Democrats immediately seized on McConnell’s reversal, noting it was the sort of obstruction that they think warrants changes to the rules on filibusters.
“What we have here is a case of the Republicans here in the Senate once again not taking yes for an answer,” Reid said. “This morning the Republican leader asked consent to have a vote on his proposal. Just now I told everyone we’re willing to have that vote, an up-or-down vote, and now the Republican leader objects to his own idea, so I guess we have a filibuser of his own bill.”
Democrats piled on.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters that McConnell thought he’d thrown Democrats for a loop. “It was a little too clever by half,” Schumer said, adding that it “would have been a great moment.”
It’s truly an amazing feat and it was all captured on CSPAN. Mitch McConnell has a much higher estimation of his political and strategy skills than he appears to be able to deliver on the floor of the senate.
It’s really difficult to understand the mind set of Republican politicians today. It appears that country is the last thing on their priority list.
One of the most frustrating things that’s happened in the last few years has been the overuse and misuse of the filibuster. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid--see the morning post–has decided that one of his top priorities will be to pass legislation to tighten rules on the use of the filibuster in the legislative chamber. The overuse of the lazy Senator’s filibuster has stymied nearly every attempt to get Democratic legislation through the Senate.
Bloomberg has an excellent article on the changes that will be proposed and what impact this could have on an Obama second term. The bill is called “The Mr Smith” bill. It’s be reintroduced by Sen. Frank (D-NJ). The bill would require those who want to filibuster a nomination or a bill to appear on the floor and actually speak. This means that Republican senators can’t just scream filibuster and the go home to dinner and cocktails. The bill was first introduced in 2011.
“The filibuster is being abused to create gridlock and prevent the Senate from doing the people’s business. Instead of being a deliberative body, the Senate has become a deadlocked body,” Lautenberg said in a press release Wednesday. “The ‘Mr. Smith Bill’ would help break the obstruction in Washington, bring transparency to lawmaking and hold senators accountable for their actions. This bill will stop senators from launching a filibuster and then skipping off to dinner, leaving our work in a stalemate.”
The bill — co-sponsored by Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York — also would require that the Senate move for an immediate vote once debate ends and those conducting the filibuster give up the floor.
“Right now, senators are allowed to filibuster and force the Senate to use up a week or more on a single nomination or bill, even if there is no debate occurring on the floor,” Lautenberg’s office said. “Under the Lautenberg proposal, that time could be reduced significantly.”
Typically, a Senate rule change requires a super majority of 67 yes votes, something that will be difficult for Democrats, with their narrow 53-seat majority, to achieve. However, on the first legislative day of a new Congress, a simple majority of senators, just 51 votes, can approve new rules.
According to Lautenberg’s office, 91 cloture votes were taken in the 111th Congress — almost “four times the 24 cloture votes taken 20 years ago and almost double the 54 cloture votes required in the 109th Congress (2005-2006), when Republicans were last in the majority.”
This is the first item that would reform the procedure that became infamous in the Jimmy Stewart movie. It has moved from being a true expression of frustration with a piece of legislation or a process to a systematic way to gridlock. It has increased the polarization that characterizes Congress these days. It isn’t used to either protect the rights of the minority or to force debate. It’s used for pure political gain. The Bloomberg article states that “there were more filibusters between 2009 and 2010 than there were in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s combined”. This will give you an idea of what’s become of a symbol of democracy. It’s became a way for Mitch McConnell to hold back progress including help for the unemployed, veterans, victims of domestic abuse, and judicial appointments. Newly elected Senators appear to be on board for reform.
Chris Murphy, the incoming Democratic senator from Connecticut, couldn’t have been clearer: “The filibuster is in dire need of reform,” he told Talking Points Memo. “Whether or not it needs to go away, we need to reform the way the filibuster is used, so it is not used in the order of everyday policy, but is only used in exceptional circumstances.”
Angus King, the independent senator-elect from Maine, said, “My principal issue is the functioning of the Senate.” He backs a proposal advanced by the reform group No Labels that would end the filibuster on motions to debate, restricting filibusters to votes on actual legislation. The group also wants to require filibustering senators to physically hold the Senate floor and talk, rather than simply instigate a filibuster from the comfort of their offices.
And it’s not just the new guys. In an election-night interview on MSNBC, Senator Dick Durbin ofIllinois, the Democrats’ second-in-command, emphasized the importance of filibuster reform. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is a committed guardian of institutional prerogatives who put the kibosh on filibuster reform in the previous Congress. But even he has given up protecting the practice. “We can’t go on like this anymore,” he told MSNBC’s Ed Schultz. “I don’t want to get rid of the filibuster, but I have to tell you, I want to change the rules and make the filibuster meaningful.”
That doesn’t go nearly far enough. The problem with the filibuster isn’t that senators don’t have to stand and talk, or that they can filibuster the motion to debate as well as the vote itself. It’s that the Senate has become, with no discussion or debate, an effective 60-vote institution. If you don’t change that, you haven’t solved the problem.
Common Cause actually sued the US Senate this year to end the filibuster.
Enter Common Cause. It argues that a minority in the Senate has used the filibuster to hold up all manner of legislation, including (most importantly, for this suit), the DISCLOSE Act (to tighten electioneering disclosure requirements in the wake of Citizens United) and the DREAM Act (to create a path to U.S. citizenship for certain aliens). It argues that the 60-vote requirement in Senate Rule XXII violates the default parliamentary majority-takes-all rule, the careful balance of powers in the legislative branch and between the three branches, and the power of the Senate itself to changes its own rules (because along with Rule V (which continues the Senate rules from Senate to Senate) Rule XXII seems to require that 3/5 of Senators vote to change Rule XXII). In particular, Common Cause argues that the filibuster violates the Quorum Clause, the Presentment Clause, the power of the VP to break a Senate tie, the Advice and Consent Clause, and the equal representation of the states in the Senate–all of which in different ways assume majority rule. It also argues that the filibuster is in tension with the eight constitutional exceptions to majority rule.
Again, the Bloomberg article says it best and btw, it’s written by Ezra Klein.
Party polarization has turned the filibuster into a noxious obstacle. Filibusters are no longer used to allow minorities to be heard. They’re used to make the majority fail. In the process, they undermine democratic accountability, because voters are left to judge the rule of a majority party based on the undesirable outcomes created by a filibustering minority.
Ideally, a bipartisan majority of senators would end the filibuster — either immediately or with a delayed trigger six years after a deal is struck — so neither party would know which is poised to benefit. But doing away with the filibuster in the next Congress has some appeal, too. Democrats control the Senate and Republicans control the House; there will be no instant power grab leading to one-party dominance.
So, go Harry. If they’re going to cause gridlock, then at least make them stand on the Senate floor until they drop. The American people deserve explanations instead of secretive political maneuvers.
I’m going to start off with some economics news for a change. This one is from The Economist. It’s a thread that lists the answers to a question asked of a group of economists: What do you expect to be the most significant economic developments in 2011?
I liked Mark Thoma’s contribution so here’s a bite.
I EXPECT one of the most significant developments of 2011 to be one I’d rather not see: deficit reduction.
Recovery from recessions brought about by financial panics is notoriously slow, and I don’t expect this recovery to be an exception to that general rule, though I’d be happy to be wrong about this.
Thus, rather than cutting the deficit, we need to take steps to increase the speed of the recovery or, at the very least, avoid doing things that will slow it down.
If Congress had credibility, there would be no need to worry about the trade-off between helping the economy escape the recession and reducing the deficit. Congress could do what is needed to help the economy now, and promise—credibly with specific plans—to reduce the deficit once the economy has recovered. That would give us the best of both worlds.
But, unfortunately, that’s not the Congress we have, credibility is not its strong suit, and legislators seem determined to demonstrate their intent with actions now rather than a commitment to take this up when the economy is stronger. This will place additional drag on an already slow recovery, and perhaps even send the economy back into recession.
So let’s hope we can at least realise the promise of gridlock and maintain the status quo until the economy is on better footing.
Yup, but that’s not what I expect given there’s hints that the State of the Union address will contain a presidential embrace of the cat food commission report and social security reductions. Let’s hope that’s just a bad rumor.
There’s an interesting analysis about Mitch McConnell up on Politico that I’m not sure about. It seems to imply that his ability to keep his Senate cronies in line may be fading. Will the NO Coalition fall apart? The analysis provides some examples from the lame duck session and then hints to one or two newcomers that could be thorns in McConnell’s side. One is Rand Paul who rides in on a tea party nag with some really wacky libertarian saddle baggage.
But the two lame-duck votes suggest that the GOP’s six-seat pick-up in November may, paradoxically, complicate matters for the man who had come to embody Republican resistance in the age of the Obama. And while nobody in the White House thinks McConnell has lost his grip, they see an opportunity to increase their leverage as McConnell finds himself squeezed between an incoming class of emboldened conservatives with a tea party tinge – and the eight to twelve Republicans who showed their independence on “don’t ask, don’t tell” and START.
After two years of nonstop Democratic infighting, the White House is clearly enjoying the possibility of a GOP family feud — and are closely watching how the old-school McConnell meshes with new-breed Republicans like Utah’s Mike Lee, a strict constitutionalist who won’t vote for anything James Madison would have rejected, and tea party idol Rand Paul, a fellow Kentuckian whose election McConnell initially opposed.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs on Wednesday suggested that McConnell “miscalculated” in the lame-duck by failing to “put aside partisan political interests” on START.
I admit to finding the Republican outrage on Ronald Reagan’s START Treaty a bit staged. Plus, the entire nightmare of having a group of Senators grandstand against dying 9-11 responders was unbelievable. Shep Smith of Fox even protested deep into the Republican belly so there had to be some indigestion there. Guess we’ll see when the Senate newbies hit town.
Another issue floating around the senate dream machine is finding some way to deal with filibuster reform. WaPo’s The Plum Line added this bit to the conversation.
There’s ongoing news for filibuster reform. Harry Reid is in active discussions with his caucus about moving forward with reform in the new year, and is currently devising a plan to do just that, a senior Senate Democratic leadership aide tells me.
At a caucus meeting this week attended only by Senators and no staff, Reid and fellow Dems devoted a significant chunk of time to a discussion about specific ideas on how to proceed, the aide says.
Word of Reid’s machinations comes after the National Journal reported yesterday that all the returning Democratic Senators have indicated support for efforts at reform, and are urging Reid to press forward at the start of the new year.
Though Reid has said in the past that he’s generally supportive of reform, it has been unclear whether he would support active measures to make it happen. But the senior Dem leadership aide says Reid is already working on specific steps forward.
Evidently there is a staff shuffle coming up at the White House shortly. This isn’t a surprise since there have been some recent departures–Summers, Rahm, Romer–and already announced departures like Axelrod.
A reshaping of the economic team, beginning by naming a new director of the National Economic Council, is among the most urgent priorities of the new year. Gene Sperling, a counselor to the Treasury secretary who held the position in the Clinton administration, is among the final contenders to succeed Lawrence H. Summers in the job, along with Roger C. Altman, a Wall Street investment banker who also served in the Clinton administration.
When Republicans assume control of the House on Jan. 5, ending four years of a full Democratic majority in Congress, the president’s approach to policy and politics is poised to change on several fronts.
The White House is hiring more lawyers to handle oversight investigations from the new Congress, even as the president sets up a re-election headquarters in Chicago and considers ways to streamline operations inside the West Wing.
“You’re not going to see wholesale changes, but there will be significant changes. I think that’s desirable,” said David Axelrod, a senior adviser who is leaving the White House next month. “This is a bubble. It’s been an intense couple of years, and there’s an advantage to bringing in folks who have a fresh set of senses — smell, touch and feel — about what’s going on out there.”
Investment bankers, old Clinton people … doesn’t sound like much of a change to me.
I had linked down thread the other day to a hospital in Arizona that has been punished for saving a woman’s life by giving her an abortion. The Bishop in question also excommunicated the Nun in charge. Nicholas Kristoff wrote an impassioned op-ed at the time.
Sister Margaret was a senior administrator of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix. A 27-year-old mother of four arrived late last year, in her third month of pregnancy. According to local news reports and accounts from the hospital and some of its staff members, the mother suffered from a serious complication called pulmonary hypertension. That created a high probability that the strain of continuing pregnancy would kill her.
“In this tragic case, the treatment necessary to save the mother’s life required the termination of an 11-week pregnancy,” the hospital said in a statement. “This decision was made after consultation with the patient, her family, her physicians, and in consultation with the Ethics Committee.”
Sister Margaret was a member of that committee. She declined to discuss the episode with me, but the bishop of Phoenix, Thomas Olmsted, ruled that Sister Margaret was “automatically excommunicated” because she assented to an abortion.
“The mother’s life cannot be preferred over the child’s,” the bishop’s communication office elaborated in a statement.
The abortion procedure occurred awhile ago but the incident has led to a recent ACLU request to the Federal Government for help. The Hospital was just stripped of its Catholic status.
The American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday asked federal health officials to ensure that Catholic hospitals provide emergency reproductive care to pregnant women, saying the refusal by religiously affiliated hospitals to provide abortion and other services was becoming an increasing problem.
In a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the ACLU cited the case of St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, which was stripped of its Catholic status Tuesday because doctors performed an abortion on a woman who had developed a life-threatening complication.
“We continue to applaud St. Joseph’s for doing what is right by standing up for women’s health and complying with federal law,” five ACLU attorneys wrote in a letter to Donald Berwick, the CMS administrator, and his deputy, Marilyn Tavenner.
“But this confrontation never should have happened in the first place, because no hospital – religious or otherwise – should be prohibited from saving women’s lives and from following federal law.”
I can only tell you that my last pregnancy was very high risk and there was no chance I was going to go to term. There was also no chance I would be able to delivery vaginally. I actually had a friend who had lost a baby under the same circumstances not too long before that. They could not rush her from North Platte to Omaha fast enough to save her pregnancy. I developed complication after complication at the onset. I can tell you that my insurance company at the time–Mutual of Omaha–basically wanted to force me to a Catholic hospital. I sent my husband to the people in charge of those decisions to flash his AVP ID and tell them to let me go to the Methodist one with its neonic and neonate on board and delivery rooms up the hall from the entrance to Children’s Hospital. Fortunately, we got the job done, we got the exception from Mutual of Omaha, and I carried youngest daughter far enough to term so that she was born very alive and healthy. I continued to have health problems; including the discovery of inoperable cancer throughout my reproductive organs.
Under no circumstances would I ever recommend to any woman with a functional uterus that they consider themselves safe at some religious hospitals unless the Federal Government steps in and enforces the law. St Joseph’s has basically disassociated from the church and continues its history of excellent care, but I wonder how many small town hospitals could afford to do the same. This situation bears watching and we may have to make some calls and write some letters as it develops.
As we enter the final week of 2010, I just want to say how much I appreciate the community of intelligent and insightful people that frequent Sky Dancing every day. Two months ago, I would’ve never envisioned this place being any thing more than my file cabinet. Today, we are a thriving community with a wonderful group of up and down page writers and sages. It has been a very rough year for me and having a place like this to relax with kindred spirits means so much to me. I look forward to reading what every one says every day. We’re growing leaps and bounds and are part of a bigger conversation as well. We’re trying to tackle and discuss tough issues in a place where strong opinions are cherished and met with civil discussion. I think you’ll be excited by some of the topics that are on deck and will be published soon. Grayslady will have her first official post up shortly. She’s been here behind the scenes for a bit but we get to read her on the front page and not just at her own wonderful blog. She and Sima have partnered on a topic that is an extremely important issue and I can’t want to get my eyes the results! I know it’s important and fortunately they’re experts who can explain the why to me! Of course, Bostonboomer and Wonk are busy with things and Zaladonis and mablue2 are here to delight us with their special blends of humor and opinions. (I frankly think Zaladonis has a book in him.) Oh, and did you know that we owe the morning news format to mablue2? Minx is busily working on something big too. She just told me about a file she downloaded to study and it’s huge! You’ll want to make a visit to check it out!
It’s always been about the community to me. Thank you for that greatest gifts any one could ever ask for!!! That would be your friendship, your time, and your tales! You’re my father and mother Christmases!! Whatever you celebrate–if you celebrate–this season, please have a good and safe one!!!
As we say around my household, FELIZ NAUGHTY DOGS!!! Merry Cat Mess!!!!! (It’s a long story and I’ve approached mablue2′s word count wall.)