Posts Tagged ‘Harry Reid’

Rand Paul Shows What A Filibuster Should Look Like

Monday, March 11th, 2013

Last week, Rand Paul caught the imagination of people who pay attention to politics and in the process did himself some good on the Senate floor. Paul staged a 12 hour filibuster to protest the Obama Administration’s vacillation when asked whether drones could be used to attack American citizens in the United States.

I’m not overly concerned that drones are going to be dropped on my local coffee shop, but I did think that it was offensive that Obama’s team bobbed and weaved when asked about it. As Charles Pierce put it:

The question of whether or not the president can drop a couple of hellfires on an apartment block in Cincinnati, or a farmhouse outside Salinas, or a fucking brownstone in Brooklyn is a yes-or-no question. And, if your answer is “yes,” you need to explain yourself at considerable length.

But it wasn’t so much the issue as it was somebody finally having their Howard Beale moment on the national stage. Ironically, in addition to providing a badly needed shot in the arm to a demoralized Republican party, it also highlighted how broken the system is by showing what a filibuster used to look like, as well as what it should be. Paul’s 12 hour Mr. Smith Goes To Washington style soliloquy was a throwback to the days when people actually used to filibuster, not just declare their intent to filibuster and watch the other side fold.

This contrast wasn’t lost on liberals. As Gail Collins pointed out, you didn’t have to read your history to see the contrast. It was on display that very day in the US Senate.

Compare Paul’s behavior to that of Mitch McConnell, the minority leader. Earlier in the day, McConnell had staged a filibuster under the usual system: He blocked the nomination of Caitlin Halligan to the D.C. circuit court by filing a piece of paper.

Halligan’s nomination has been moldering for two years now. Her fate is an excellent example of everything people hate about the way Washington works. She’s completely qualified, a former solicitor general for New York State. Nobody questions her character. But she cannot get an up-or-down vote. McConnell’s opposition is partly partisan (the Republicans want to keep majority control of the powerful D.C. circuit) and partly a bow to the National Rifle Association, which has recently gotten into the business of vetting major judicial nominations.

Would any Republican have spent a night fending off hunger, thirst and the need for bathroom breaks to stop Halligan’s nomination? We’ll never know. All McConnell had to do was just say no. Harry Reid, the majority leader, needed 60 votes to proceed. End of story. End of Halligan.

Since Obama was elected, the Republicans have basically changed the rules of engagement that the Senate lived by, now making even the most basic questions subject to a 60 vote majority. To see how dramatic this change has been, take a look at this chart.

One of the most tepid filibuster reform proposals in the US Senate this year was to actually force people to do what Paul did last week if they want to stop majority rule. Amazingly and inexplicably, Harry Reid made caving on this principle as one of his first actions in this new term.

This is just outrageous. Even if you support the filibuster, shouldn’t it be a requirement that you actually filibuster, not just declare your intention to?

Senate to Vote on Ryan Plan

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

Here’s Steve Benen on the Harry Reid’s plan to put the Ryan plan to a vote in the Senate.

Brilliant.

As Jonathan Alter said, if the Democrats can’t hang Ryan’s plan to abolish Medicare around the neck of the Republican party, then they should go into a new business.

Barely anyone is paying attention to the intricacies of the budget debate, and Ryan plan has no chance to pass in the Senate, but the closer it gets to passage, the more people are going to start to pay attention. The Democrats should agree not filibuster this plan, so that it actually gets to the floor and we can have a full debate about whether the Senate wants to ratify the plan the House passed and send the bill to abolish Medicare to the President for his first veto.

Bevan muses about whether conservative Democrats would support it and whether moderate Republicans would. He puts the over/under at five but I’d be surprised if we didn’t see mass defections from Republicans on this bill.

As Rachel Maddow pointed out last week, as one of his first acts in office, Dean Heller, the newly appointed Senator from Nevada will become the only person to vote for the Ryan Plan in both the House and the Senate…Unless he decides to vote against killing Medicare after he voted for it.

What a way to start a re-election campaign in a swing state with a large population of seniors. 

 This should be fun.

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Passes

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

Finally!

President Obama:

No longer will our nation be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans forced to leave the military, despite years of exemplary performance, because they happen to be gay….and no longer will many thousands more be asked to live a lie in order to serve the country they love.

  ”The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

Poor Harry Reid

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

How would you like to have to work with these assholes?

Latino Voters Key Part of Western Democratic Firewall

Monday, November 8th, 2010

On election night last week, NBC’s Brian Williams interviewed Jose Diaz Ballart, the Telemundo anchor, who said that if Harry Reid was elected, he better learn to say “muchas gracias,” because Latino’s turned out to vote for him at levels that matched or exceeded those of the 2008 presidential election.

This pattern was repeated in a number of other high profile races in the West. While the dynamics in each case vary, Latino’s played key roles in Democratic victories in Colorado, Nevada and California, and in the process highlighted what should be a concerning trend for Republicans.

In Nevada, Sharron Angle went out of her way to make not so subtle racial appeals in her closing arguments. This, combined with a strong get out the vote effort by Harry Reid’s campaign helped propel Reid to an upset. In Colorado, Latinos combined with women to help Michael Bennet buck the trend and win a close race against Tea Party candidate Ken Buck. Meanwhile in California,  the allegations made by Meg Whitman’s maid and the way in which she handled them combined with another strong get out the vote effort focusing on Latinos helped not only Jerry Brown, but also Barbara Boxer. Over 1 in 5 voters in California were Latino in this election cycle and they broke overwhelmingly for Democrats.

Gil Cedillo points out that George Bush and Karl Rove saw the importance of Latino voters in building a successful Republican party in the long term, but that many Republican politicians have been focused on short-term political gain that can come from scapegoating Latinos, especially in the Republican primaries. While this may be a successful strategy in some parts of the country, it will become less and less so as time goes on.

Republicans may want to consider the fate of the Republican party in California, who never recovered from Pete Wilson’s attempt to deny illegal immigrant children access to school in 1994. Pete Wilson won that election, but he was the last non-action hero Republican to win a major statewide office in the state.

We can only hope that the Republicans are dumb enough to follow his lead nationwide.

Revisiting the Democrats’ Record

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Here’s Rachel Maddow on the accomplishments of the Democrats in the past two years.

It may be cold comfort at this point, but Americans will be seeing the benefits of the legislation of the past two years for a long time.

Maddow points out how Nancy Pelosi and Congressional Democrats decided to use the political capital that they built up over the two election cycles. Equal pay for women,  a children’s health care expansion, ending subsidies to corporate banks for college loans, a major national service program expansion, the largest investments in energy and education in the country’s history, health care for 30 million more Americans, regulation (however tepid) of the banks to mitigate the possibility of another financial crisis, significant increases in assistance for veterans… I’m sure I missed something.

There will be significant debate about this for years. Would it have been better to go for incremental change and try to hold on to power for another election cycle? Maybe. Was it not the effort and the goals, but the specific deals that were cut that decreased the popularity of the legislation?  Yes, I think so.

But one thing is certain: you can criticise Nancy Pelosi for a lot of things, but it’s hard to say that she’s been ineffective as a Speaker of the House when it comes to getting things done. In two years, the conservatives’ unholy triumvirate of Obama, Pelosi and Reid accomplished more than most teams accomplish in two presidential terms.

Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that they got all of this done despite the fact that the Republican party as a whole decided that they would rather see the three of them fail than to resolve the issues that have been plaguing us as a country for years.

Overt Racial Appeals at Close of Nevada Senate Race

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

The ugliest Senate Race is ending on an overtly racial note.

Sharron Angle’s final barrage of ads feature not so subtle images of Latinos crossing the border to invade America and wearing gang colors contrasted with clean white people who are suffering for lack of services and cowering in fear from the violence perpetrated by these immigrants. The message is clear: Harry Reid’s is with the brown people. I’m with the white people.

This comes on the heels of another ad from the Southwest (that has since been pulled) which encouraged Latinos not to vote because the Democrats didn’t deliver on immigration reform.

Besides being cynical and awful, it’s a questionable strategy, since the result may be that Latino’s turn out in even higher numbers to cast votes against Angle. Rachel Maddow was in Nevada last week and interviewed Harry Reid, who also stressed these issues, encouraging Latinos to turn out and vote against Angle.

Angle has been surging in recent weeks, but with such close margins, turnout will once again be key, and both sides seem to be playing to the base.

Milazz 2010 Senate Primer

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

With nine days to go, it looks like the Republicans are poised to take the House. The math in the Senate looks like more of a long shot.

The current Senate makeup is 59-41, counting Joe Lieberman and Bernie Sanders, so Republicans would have to net 10 seats to get to 51, since a 50-50 tie would be broken by Joe Biden.  Below I look at the races where Republicans have to prevail in order to take control.

Probable Republican Pickups

Arkansas, North Dakota and Indiana have long been considered Republican pickups, with the Republican candidates leading in opinion polls for months. These races are basically over at this point and can safely be considered Republican pickups.

Lean Republican

Wisconsin

In one of the more puzzling results of the year, Russ Feingold has trailed badly behind plastics manufacturer (I can’t help but think of The Graduate) and Tea Party candidate, Ron Johnson. A few months ago, I characterized this as a Democratic Firewall seat, based on Feingold’s history of bucking party and common wisdom as well as Wisconsin’s traditional voting patterns.  Wisconsin has been true blue for a while now and has a history of electing fiery populist Democrats (dating back to ”Fightin” Bob LaFolette during the Progressive Era). In recent polling Feingold has trailed by up to 8 points, with Johnson polling over 50% in some polls. This is very bad news for Feingold at this late hour, and the race would have qualified as a Probable Republican Pickup just a week ago. However, just last week week two polls came out showing Feingold closing the gap, so I err on the side of caution and include this as a Lean Republican seat.

Pennsylvania 

In another race where biography would seem to indicate a different result, former Congressman and Admiral Joe Sestak has consistently trailed former Congressman and free market libertarian derivatives trader Pat Toomey for almost the entire year. But in what seems to be a national trend of poll tightening in Senate Races,  Sestak has pulled even with Toomey or is showing a small lead. Having pulled even, Sestak hopes the Pennsylvania Democratic machine can carry him over the finish line. 

Colorado

Tea Party favorite Ken Buck has generally led appointed Senator Michael Bennett by 2-5 points since the primaries. This race has tightened in recent weeks as Bennett has surged slightly and Ken Buck has stepped on his message a few times. A new Denver Post poll out today has the race a dead heat, but Buck should still be considered a slight favorite here.

Tossups 

Nevada

The nastiest, most high profile race in the country has to be in Nevada, where the Least Charismatic Man in America continues to be locked in a tight race against the Crazy Cat Lady from your Old Neighborhood. The fact that Harry Reid hasn’t been able to put the Tea Party Fringe Candidate Sharron Angle out of her misery is a testament to how much Nevadans hate their sitting senator. This is probably the most polled race in the country and it seems like they alternate leads in every other poll. Angle’s up by a couple of points now, but all indications are that this race will go down to the wire.

In Illinois, the voters face another Faustian bargain as Mark Kirk, a former Republican Congressman who is most famous for lying about his military record during the Gulf War takes on Alexi Giannoulias, who is most famous for his family’s shady savings and loan which went belly up early this year. On Meet the Press, Kirk defended his exaggerations about his military experience while Giannoulias put himself in the running for the most cringeworthy political statements in history when he basically admitted that he knew he was loaning money to mobsters when he worked at his father’s bank 4 years ago. This race is another that is too close to call, with Kirk mostly maintaining a one to two point lead over Giannoulias for the past few months, but Giannoulias showing some signs of life in the past few weeks. Another race where turnout will be key.

West Virginia

The addition of West Virginia as a possible Republican pickup has kept the Republicans in the game. Here, popular governor Mike Manchin is taking on another perennial Republican loser, John Raese, in a Special Election for the seat of held by the late Robert Byrd. In another example of how ignorance sells in this country, Raese has made a point of pointing out that he can’t pronounce non Anglo names, recently calling Energy Secretary  Dr. Steven Chu, Dr. Chow Mein (Stay classy John Raese!).

 This seat was initially assumed a safe Democratic seat because of the popularity of Manchin, but in recent weeks, Raese surged into a lead over Manchin with a clever campaign which acknowledges Manchin’s popularity as Governor, but agues that he would become a rubber stamp for Obama and Pelosi if he were to go to Washington.  The polling in this race has been all over the map, with polls within days of each other exibiting violent swings.

Democratic Firewall Seats

If the Republicans were to sweep all of the above races, they would still need to take one more seat to get to 51. The two most obvious seats are the generally reliable blue states of Washington and California, where two Democratic women from the 1992 “Year of the Woman” class are facing tough challenges.

Washington

In Washington, Senator Patti Murray faces Dino Rossi, another perennial Republican challenger who narrowly lost a race for Governor in 2004 and then lost by a more substantial margin in 2008. This race has bounced around a bit, but Murray has held a small lead for the past few weeks. At this point, Nate Silver ranks this race as an 85% chance of a Murray win.

California

Liberal stalwart Barbara Boxer, another Year of the Woman Alumnus, has yet to put away former Hewlet Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, but she has led her in the polls by margins from 1% to 8% since early September. Although Boxer’s inability to poll about 50% has been cited as a bad sign for her, a Republican pickup here, while possible, seems unlikely.

Lean Republican Hold

While Democrats are on defense in almost all of the swing seats, there is still faint hope that they could take one Republican seat. Democratic hopes are pinned on Kentucky, where son of the Tea Party icon Ron Paul, Rand Paul, is taking on Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway. Even in reliably red Kentucky, Paul has struggled due to the original intent constitutionalism and the radical free market ideology that he stands for. While this race has been closer than expected, Paul now leads by close to 5% and Conway’s attacks on Paul’s college associations and pranks look increasingly desperate. It looks like the Democrats will have to rely on defense to get them through this one.

Bottom line for the Republicans? They need to lock up the three seats they are favored in (Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Colorado), run the table in the tossup elections of Nevada, Illinois and West Virginia, and take either California or Washington while holding on to their lead in Kentucky.

Stay frosty folks. The next week and a half will be interesting.

Harry Reid: Obama is Like the Chilean Miners

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

I know I’m only supposed to say good things about the guy I want to win, but this is too good to pass up.

Hell of a choice for those Nevadans.

More on Reid-Angle Debate

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

Debate Analysis from Chris Matthews, Jon Ralston and Chuck Todd on Hardball.

Same opinion from both Todd and Ralston: not so much that Sharron Angle did a good job, just that Harry Reid was his usual boring self, refusing to defend himself aggressively or to make the (easy) case that Angle is way out of the mainstream.

Frustrating.