Fire In The Hole!

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Well, it appears that the Hatfields are utterly gobsmacked that the McCoys have fired back at them.

In my opinion, the worst thing about all of this “nuclear” showdown is how widely and thoroughly misunderstood the whole business is, which might be due in some small part to the misnomer “nuclear option,” the coinage of which is usually attributed to the ever flamboyant Sen. Trent Lott (R-MISS) and implies something of epic proportion.

The Right Wingosphere is quivering with rage and awash in the tears of despondent patriots decrying “225 years of tradition blown away” and, I suspect, before too long, some ill-regulated militia will be suiting up to defend the Republic from Harry Reid. 

Well, take a breath, folks.  Rumors that the filibuster is dead have been greatly exaggerated—legislation, Supreme Court appointments can still be filibustered til the cows come home or until the Library of Congress runs out of Dr Seuss.

Reid’s Rule, as it has been dubbed, is a narrow rule change that addresses only judicial nominees and cabinet and administration positions.  In other words, appointments that have rarely been challenged in the past.  Appointments, in fact, that Republicans like Mitch McConnell have constantly reminded us should, for the most part, go unchallenged.

Is it possible that even the lowest-info Americans believe that the Senate has been operating flawlessly in some Utopian legislative realm, that has now, suddenly, been sacked by vandals and will never be the same?  Bullpucky.  If you believe that one, I have a compassionate conservative candidate you might be interested in voting for.  It wasn’t so very long ago that the very same Senate hosted a night of performance art, unforgettably rendered by Mr Cruz, Jr., to advance him in his effort to shut down the US government.

This Senate is not your granddaddy’s Senate and hasn’t been for quite some time . . .

As John Dickerson, channeling Sen. Robert Byrd, put it:

. . .  today’s change made what was de facto now de jure.

Republicans, like Sen. Chuck Grassley have hastened to label Obama’s nominations to fill vacancies [aka doing his job] on the DC Circuit as nefarious “court packing” to defend his party’s nefarious obstruction. Which is laughable, given Sen. Grassley’s loud support of George W. Bush during whose term Republican-appointed judges on the federal bench increased by 12% going from 50% to 62%.  When Obama took office, Republican appointees controlled 10 of the 13 federal circuits.

Of course, having friends in high judicial places has been quite a comfort for a shrinking party with rapidly diminishing electoral clout.  Candidates may come and go but a judicial appointment is forever.  And the very best way to hang on to that judicial edge was for Republicans to go all-in on Obama’s appointments.  Unfortunately, for the GOP, that strategy was born of their misguided perception that Obama would be a one-term president. 

Now, Republicans find themselves playing the second half without a coach, or a playbook and, suddenly, every play is a Hail Mary.

All of that pickle that they find themselves in is, of course, attributable to the fact that after 2012 they looked at their options and decided that it would just be too hard and take too long to adjust course and try to appeal to a national electorate again.  They don’t even want those people voting for them.  So, until angry old white guys figure out how to multiply by some form of vegetative propagation, Republicans are looking at a long trudge to the tar pits.

There will be be a great weeping and wailing and, if it were still the 18th century, there might even be duels.  But fans of the Victorian era will have to be satisfied with some histrionic political theater, in the meantime.

So it is that the gentleman from Kentucky, with a glint in his eye and fire in the belly has warned the gentleman from Nevada that there will be HELL.TO.PAY.

Which, if I may paraphrase translates to:  “You, sir, are a cad and a bounder who has broken the rules, and brought a pox on this house and just wait until I get to break some rules!  You’ve never seen a pox the like of which I will use to infect the body politic!”

Reminiscent of high school, I know.

Here’s hoping that when Congress gets back to work [whenever that might be] they will be stuffed with turkey and pie and mellowing out on tryptophan for at least a couple of days.  Maybe Republicans could just hold a post-Thanksgiving Repeal Obamacare vote to get back in the swing of things before they have to tell us that they can’t agree on a budget . . .

Posted by Bette Noir on 11/22/13 at 11:56 AM • Permalink

Categories: PoliticsBqhatevwrElection '14NuttersTeabaggery

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I agree with you that the freakout is overblown. But I think you are underestimating how significant this event is.

What is significant is not the specific rule that Reid introduced but the manner in which he did it. Part of the rules was a rule that said it takes a 2/3 majority to change the rules. Reid changed them with only a majority, thus establishing the precedent that rules can be changed any time the majority has the will to do so.

So, while there are still super-majority rules on the books, they are only as viable as the majority is willing to let them go on living.

The right-wingers are especially livid because this will add non-right-wing judges to the courts after a long period of stacking the judiciary with whackos.

I seem to recall some rule change in the lower house just recently, something that prevented a Congresscritter of any persuasion from doing their congresscritter jobs and being able to bring legislation to the floor.  Was it the “Speaker taking all the balls and going home” rule?  There didn’t seem to be as much of an outcry then…

@Craig HS ah yes, there’s the arbitrary Hastert Rule in the House that just sort of happened . . . Democrats just don’t whine enough

What is significant is not the specific rule that Reid introduced but the manner in which he did it. Part of the rules was a rule that said it takes a 2/3 majority to change the rules. Reid changed them with only a majority, thus establishing the precedent that rules can be changed any time the majority has the will to do so.

@Chris Anderson sorry but not entirely accurate, Harry Reid may have used an arcane procedure to change the Senate’s rules for nominees through a simple majority vote but it was, an available procedure versus a custom.

You can be sure that, if the rule change Reid made was not legitimate, it wouldn’t have happened.  And Republicans are obviously quite aware of the loophole because they threatened to use it themselves a couple of times.

One of the things one wins in a presidential election is the ability to appoint federal judges and the members of your own frickin’ cabinet, something the rethugs decided was no longer true due to excessive melanin content.  Sympathy for their wounded feefee’s?  Sorry; fresh out.

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