Saturday, November 22, 2008

Senate Rule Twenty Two and the Filibuster

Senate Rule Twenty Two is the rule that allows a minority to filibuster legislation or a nomination supported by the majority of the Senate.
"Is it the sense of the Senate that the debate shall be brought to a close?" And if that question shall be decided in the affirmative by three-fifths of the Senators duly chosen and sworn -- except on a measure or motion to amend the Senate rules, in which case the necessary affirmative vote shall be two-thirds of the Senators present and voting -- then said measure, motion, or other matter pending before the Senate, or the unfinished business, shall be the unfinished business to the exclusion of all other business until disposed of.

Whatever happened to the Jimmy Stewart-style filibuster?

Here is a news story titled Whatever happened to the Jimmy Stewart-style filibuster by Aaron Erlich
Since the 1960s the "two-track" system devised by Mansfield has prevailed, preventing old-fashioned filibusters. As John W. Dean, President Richard Nixon's former White House counsel, has written: "On the one hand, the two-track system strengthened the ability of the majority to withstand a filibuster by enabling it to conduct other business. On the other hand, it made it easier for the filibustering minority, which did not have to constantly hold the floor."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Short History of the Senate Filibuster

Here is Gold and Gupta with a short history of the Senate filibuster rule
Senator Thomas J. Walsh (D-MT) first advocated using the constitutional option in 1917. Like Byrd, Walsh reasoned that a newly commenced Senate may disregard the rules established by a prior Senate, including the rules governing filibusters, and adopt new rules in their stead. During this process, Walsh explained, the Senate would revert to the powers set forth in the U.S. Constitution and rely upon traditional parliamentary procedures, which contain procedural mechanisms to control filibusters. Like Byrd’s opponents, Walsh’s opponents gave way once they realized that Walsh potentially had enough votes to carry out his plan, resulting in the Senate adopting its first formal rule limiting debate. Similarly, in 1959, after over a dozen civil rights bills had been defeated by filibusters, and in 1975, after nearly two decades of ruleschange attempts were thwarted, the minority gave way and agreed to amend the Senate cloture rule once it became apparent that a majority of the Senate was prepared to carry out the constitutional option. On all four occasions--1917, 1959, 1975, and 1979--the rules changes may never have been adopted but for the prospect that theconstitutional option would be exercised.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Governor Mark Sanford Shines on Capitol Hill

Governor Mark Sanford might or might not be the Republican presidential nominee in 2012. It's too early to tell. It's not known whether he will seek that nomination. But in his testimony to the US House of Representatives, he has demonstrated why so many conservatives of the "non-compassionate" variety, think that Mark Sanford would make a great President. Here he is:

Saturday, November 1, 2008

McCain v Obama polling part 8 – Final Week

The current week being surveyed is October 27th through October 31st.

Gallup Tracking* - 10/28 thru 10/30 - 2116/2459 LV - McCain 43 - Obama 51
Hotline/FD Tracking - 10/28 thru 10/30 - 870 LV - McCain 41 - Obama 48
Rasmussen Tracking - 10/28 thru 10/30 - 3000 LV - McCain 47 - Obama 51
Reuters/C-Span/Zogby - 10/29 thru 10/31 - 1201 LV - McCain 44 - Obama 49
Marist Poll – 10/29 – 543 LV – McCain 43 – Obama 50
GWU/Battleground - 10/27 thru 10/30 - 800 LV – McCain 45 - Obama 49
ABC News/Wash Post - 10/27 thru 10/30 - 1580 LV – McCain 44- Obama 53
FOX News - 10/28 thru 10/29 - 924 LV – McCain 44 – Obama 47

* Average of Gallup's two voter screens for likely voters.

Current average - McCain 43.88 - Obama 49.75 - Net + 5.88 Obama
Week 7 average - McCain 43.00 - Obama 51.00 - Net + 8.00 Obama
Week 6 average - McCain 44.25 - Obama 49.25 - Net + 5.00 Obama
Week 5 average - McCain 41.86 - Obama 49.43 - Net + 7.57 Obama
Week 4 average - McCain 43.50 - Obama 49.50 - Net + 6.00 Obama
Week 3 average - McCain 42.80 - Obama 48.20 - Net + 5.40 Obama
Week 2 average - McCain 45.33 - Obama 47.33 - Net + 2.00 Obama
Week 1 average - McCain 46.50 - Obama 45.25 – Net + 1.25 McCain

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Here the people rule

Bill Kristol wrote an interesting New York Times column for the October 20, 2008 edition of that paper. It is titled Here the people rule. It focuses on McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as his Vice Presidential running mate, but also makes a larger point about elites, the public and representative democracy. Here it is in its entirety.
Here the People Rule

By William Kristol

According to the silver-penned Peggy Noonan, writing in The Wall Street Journal over the weekend, “In the end the Palin candidacy is a symptom and expression of a new vulgarization in American politics.”

Leave aside Noonan’s negative judgment on Sarah Palin’s candidacy, a judgment I don’t share. Are we really seeing “a new vulgarization in American politics”? As opposed to the good old non-vulgar days?

Politics in a democracy are always “vulgar” — since democracy is rule by the “vulgus,” the common people, the crowd. Many conservatives have never been entirely comfortable with this rather important characteristic of democracy. Conservatives’ hearts have always beaten a little faster when they read Horace’s famous line: “Odi profanum vulgus et arceo.” “I hate the ignorant crowd and I keep them at a distance.”

But is the ignorant crowd really our problem today? Are populism and anti-intellectualism rampant in the land? Does the common man too thoroughly dominate our national life? I don’t think so.

Last week, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press released its latest national survey, taken from Oct. 9 to 12. Americans are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the country and of course concerned about the economy. But, as Pew summarized, “there is little indication that the nation’s financial crisis has triggered public panic or despair.”

In fact, “There is a broad public consensus regarding the causes of the current problems with financial institutions and markets: 79 percent say people taking on too much debt has contributed a lot to the crisis, while 72 percent say the same about banks making risky loans.”

This seems sensible. Indeed, as Sept. 11 did not result in a much-feared (by intellectuals) wave of popular Islamophobia or xenophobia, so the market crash has resulted in remarkably little popular hysteria or scapegoating.

And considering what has happened, the vulgar public on Main Street has been surprisingly forgiving of those well-educated types on Wall Street — the ones who devised and marketed the sophisticated financial instruments that have brought the financial system to the brink of collapse.

Most of the recent mistakes of American public policy, and most of the contemporary delusions of American public life, haven’t come from an ignorant and excitable public. They’ve been produced by highly educated and sophisticated elites.

Needless to say, the public’s not always right, and public opinion’s not always responsible. But as publics go, the American public has a pretty good track record.

In the 1930s, the American people didn’t fall — unlike so many of their supposed intellectual betters — for either fascism or Communism. Since World War II, the American people have resisted the temptations of isolationism and protectionism, and have turned their backs on a history of bigotry.

Now, the Pew poll I cited earlier also showed Barack Obama holding a 50 percent to 40 percent lead over John McCain in the race for the White House. You might think this data point poses a challenge to my encomium to the good sense of the American people.

It does. But it’s hard to blame the public for preferring Obama at this stage — given the understandable desire to kick the Republicans out of the White House, and given the failure of the McCain campaign to make its case effectively. And some number of the public may change their minds in the final two weeks of the campaign, and may decide McCain-Palin offers a better kind of change — perhaps enough to give McCain-Palin a victory.

The media elites really hate that idea. Not just because so many of them prefer Obama. But because they like telling us what’s going to happen. They’re always annoyed when the people cross them up. Pundits spent all spring telling Hillary Clinton to give up in her contest against Obama — and the public kept on ignoring them and keeping her hopes alive.

Why do elites like to proclaim premature closure — not just in elections, but also in wars and in social struggles? Because it makes them the imperial arbiters, or at least the perspicacious announcers, of what history is going to bring. This puts the elite prognosticators ahead of the curve, ahead of the simple-minded people who might entertain the delusion that they still have a choice.

But as Gerald Ford said after assuming the presidency on Aug. 9, 1974, ”Here the people rule.”

One of those people is Joe Wurzelbacher, a k a Joe the Plumber. He’s the latest ordinary American to do a star turn in our vulgar democratic circus. He seems like a sensible man to me.

And to Peggy Noonan, who wrote that Joe “in an extended cable interview Thursday made a better case for the Republican ticket than the Republican ticket has made.” At least McCain and Palin have had the good sense to embrace him. I join them in taking my stand with Joe the Plumber — in defiance of Horace the Poet.

Friday, October 24, 2008

McCain v Obama polling part 7

The current week being surveyed is October 20th through October 24th.

Gallup Tracking* - 10/21 thru 10/23 - 2406/2365 LV - McCain 44 - Obama 50
Hotline/FD Tracking - 10/21 thru 10/23 - 766 LV - McCain 43 - Obama 50
Rasmussen Tracking - 10/21 thru 10/23 - 3000 LV - McCain 45 - Obama 52
Reuters/C-Span/Zogby - 10/21 thru 10/23 - 1203 LV - McCain 41 - Obama 51

* Average of Gallup's two voter screens for likely voters.

Current average - McCain 43.00 - Obama 51.00 - Net + 8.00 Obama
Week 6 average - McCain 44.25 - Obama 49.25 - Net + 5.00 Obama
Week 5 average - McCain 41.86 - Obama 49.43 - Net + 7.57 Obama
Week 4 average - McCain 43.50 - Obama 49.50 - Net + 6.00 Obama
Week 3 average - McCain 42.80 - Obama 48.20 - Net + 5.40 Obama
Week 2 average - McCain 45.33 - Obama 47.33 - Net + 2.00 Obama
Week 1 average - McCain 46.50 - Obama 45.25 – Net + 1.25 McCain