Forget Blame, Let's Just Disarm the Minority

In these times of arduous health care reformage, you'll never guess what they're discussing over at the private liberal-commentator listserv Journolist (and then writing about, with varying levels of transparency, on their various blogs)? Ending the filibuster!

Previous episodes of blaming the minority here, here, here, and here.

In May 2005, back when the filibuster was still the Democrats' friend, Jacob Sullum explained why the anti-parliamentary parliamentary procedure was "not sacrosanct, but...useful." Sample:

Critics of the Senate filibuster complain that it's undemocratic and obstructive. These are its two most appealing features.

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  • ||

    I hate Ezra Klein and Matt Yglesias SO FUCKING MUCH.

  • Hugh Akston||

    This is a perennial response to progressives not getting their way. When they lose the White House they want to do away with the electoral college. When they can't get a tax passed at the state level, they want to do away with supermajority. when they control the White House and Congress, and they still can't get a bill passed, they want to do away with the filibuster.

    Why do both parties act as though their current majorities are the same thing as permanent majorities?

  • robc||

    Sullum was wrong, the filibuster isnt undemocratic. It just fulfills a need that should be more readily used in democracies -- requiring higher than majority to pass measures.

    Lets take criminal behavior for example. Should it really only take 51% to crinalize an act? For things like murder/rape/burglury etc, you can get at least 90% majorities to support making them illegal. That seems like a reasonable standard to me to take away someone's freedom. If you cant get a 90% vote, it doesnt pass.

    I could see a lower standard for other type laws, like budgets and taxes and etc.

    For taxes, I think lowering a tax rate should require 51% but raising it should require at least 75%.

    Almost anything else should fall into at least the 67% category.

    Declarations of War should go into the 90% category.

    I realize some really bad laws have gotten nearly unanimous support, but thats what the courts are for.

  • Both parties||

    Why do both parties act as though their current majorities are the same thing as permanent majorities?

    If we can only get the right laws passed, we would never be voted out of office.

  • ||

    "Why do both parties act as though their current majorities are the same thing as permanent majorities?"

    Because to be in politics or opinion writing today you have to be a completely self absorbed jackass, that is why. Klein and Yglesias would completely run over the rights of anyone who got in their way if they had the ability. The idea that they don't own a monopoly on the truth or that maybe the other side might have a valid point once in a while never enters their head. I could almost forgive them for that if they were not so convinced that they are so much smarter and wiser than everyone else. Giving Klein and Yglesias major forums is like giving the debating society at some pampered prep school a weekly column in a major newspaper. Every week they get up and earnestly tell all the little people how they are going to save the world and everyone else is wrong.

  • ||

    Robc,

    All members of congress should be required to pay the top income tax rate regardless of income.

  • ||

    "After [White House budget director Peter Orszag's] TV appearances, he went straight to the Senate Finance Committee, where he spent three hours with committee aides brainstorming about how to pay for the trillion-dollar legislation. At one point, they flipped through the tax code, looking for ideas."

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124839406488477649.html

    But remember enlightened young elites like Klein and Yglesias and their ilk are perfectly capable of redesigning and running 15% of the American economy. Just trust them.

  • Xeones||

    Naw, John, all members of Congress (or at least the House) should be chosen randomly from the eligible population, same as juries. And they should receive the same compensation (around here, at least, it's $30/day).

  • ||

    Xeones,

    I actually don't think that is a bad idea. I would only do it with the House. The House is supposed to be the representative body. I would keep the Senate the same.

    I wouldn't worry about paying them. All members of Congress should be paid and their offices funded by the States they represent. If Georgia wants to pay $30 a day and New York $200K a year, that is up to them. If the states want to be represented in Congress, it should be up to them to provide the representatives. But no member of Congress should be able to take one dime from the federal treasury.

  • cmace||

    "Why do both parties act as though their current majorities are the same thing as permanent majorities?"

    They lack the ability to think abstractly. Only humans have this ability.

  • ||

    Rules are for other people, not for The Voice Of The People. Since liberals represent 99% of the population (I had one tell me so) whether those cattle realize it or not and vote accordingly, anything that gets in their way is undemocratic.

    Anything that can be used to stop their opponents is fair game (I've had another liberal tell me we have to balance the 'good' a politician does against their unethical behavior when deciding whether to hold them accountable - guess how 'good' is defined), but doesn't apply to them.

    The Constitution says no to neoconservatives? Then read it literally. It says no to liberals? Its a living document that changes with the times.

  • Xeones||

    Nice refinement, J-Money. I'd go farther with the Senate, though, and repeal the 17th Amendment. Senators would go back to being chosen by state legislators. That way they'd have to stand firmer on states' rights, rousing Federalism from its unquiet coma; and meanwhile, the House would be more truly made of Representatives of the people. All at the expense of Federal power, of course.

    I'm not sure if Senators should have term limits, but Reps would only get more than one term if their number happened to come up again.

    There is no way this could be worse than what we have now.

  • ||

    Johnny Longtorso,

    You sum it up pretty well. Liberals are enticed by the mirage that man can create heaven on earth and that all problems are solvable. If heaven is the end, any means is justified. Taken to extremes, this idea gives you French Revolutionaries and Bolsheviks murdering people for having the wrong political consciousness. Taken to the level of a snot nosed undergraduate philosophizing about the world and you get Klein and Yglesias.

  • ||

    I'd go farther with the Senate, though, and repeal the 17th Amendment.

    At least compromise and have one of a state's two Senators appointed by the legislature if the huddled masses can't stomach having both appointed.

    BTW, does Reason's article comment pages keep using smaller and smaller fonts for anyone else?

  • ||

    Xenos,

    The popular election of Senators was a huge mistake for the reasons you mention. On top of that it turned the Senate into a the worst group of interest whores imaginable. If you are a Rep, you can be a single issue guy. If I represent a rural district, I can say fuck the industrialists. If I represent an ideologically pure district, I can follow that ideology and not worry. Reps can do things besides whore themselves out to competing interests because their districts are so small. Senators can't do that. They have to represent and win an election over an entire state. To do that, they have to whore themselves out to anyone and everyone. The direct election system gives you people like Trent Lott who don't give a shit about anything beyond paying off the right people to stay in office. If they only had to face their legislatures, I don't think that would be as much of a case.

  • Federalist #51||

    But the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others. The provision for defense must in this, as in all other cases, be made commensurate to the danger of attack. Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.

    This policy of supplying, by opposite and rival interests, the defect of better motives, might be traced through the whole system of human affairs, private as well as public. We see it particularly displayed in all the subordinate distributions of power, where the constant aim is to divide and arrange the several offices in such a manner as that each may be a check on the other -- that the private interest of every individual may be a sentinel over the public rights. These inventions of prudence cannot be less requisite in the distribution of the supreme powers of the State.

  • ||

    Who is Alexander Hamilton when compared to a great mind like Klein?

  • ||

    Who is Alexander Hamilton when compared to a great mind like Klein?

    Where is Aaron Burr when you need him? :-)

  • Xeones||

    Where is Aaron Burr when you need him?

    Hey, i found out recently that good ol' Aaron Burr was sort of related to some of my ancestors. Naturally, i have resumed his plans for the secession of Tennessee.

  • robc||

    I dont know my federalist numbers off the top of my head, was #51 a Hamilton or a Madison? I know it wasnt a Jay, way too high a number.

  • robc||

    wikipedia claims 51 is Madison.

  • robc||

    I find it interesting (and not surprising) than John immediately went to Hamilton. :)

  • Hugh Akston||

    Naturally, i have resumed his plans for the secession of Tennessee.

    X, I think I speak for all Americans when I say "thats fine."

  • ||

    I, for one, encourage and applaud the (literal) Balkanization of America; secede away!

  • XMan||

    I had to share a comment I saw on Yglesias's blog -

    "The major bias here is on the part of the media. If Americans had truthful information, our politics would be much more progressive."

    Is it just me, or is this the most deranged statement you've heard this morning??

  • ||

    XMan,

    It is deranged, but it is standard liberal dogma that ignorance is the only thing that keeps people from being just like them.

    Of course, the only thing that keeps people from being libertarians is that they get too much joy out of telling people what to do.

  • ||

    "Is it just me, or is this the most deranged statement you've heard this morning??"


    No it is not just you. But you have remember Yglesias has probably never met or talked to anyone who disagrees with his world view.

  • ||

    If Americans had truthful information, our politics would be much more progressive.

    More truthful, as in: "crony capitalism" not same as "laissez-faire capitalism"?

  • Spoonman||

    It is deranged, but it is standard liberal dogma that ignorance is the only thing that keeps people from being just like them.

    My favorite is the "economic self-interest" thing. If only people would vote in their economic self-interest, the Democrats would always win!

  • ||

    "My favorite is the "economic self-interest" thing. If only people would vote in their economic self-interest, the Democrats would always win!"

    What's the Matte with Kansas has got to be the most insulting and infuriating book in the last 10 years. If only those dumb hillbillies in Kansas had stopped clinging to their guns and religion and voted their self interest, they could be going broke just like California and New York.

  • iowahawk||

    California circles the bowl, Michigan devolves into a subarctic Haiti, Illinois builds another state prison wing for governors, 44 New Jersey pols are busted in a human organ selling sting.

    And the "progressives" still want to know: What's the Matter With Kansas?

    Yeah, that there Kansas is really fucked up.

  • ||

    It is the media's fault that I'm such a backwards, ignorant, gun-toting federalist. Damn them.

    Otherwise, I agree with someone earlier that said that filibuster is a tool to require a higher majority to make law. Me personally, I'd prefer all of it to require at least 75%, at least in the Senate. I'd rather they get nothing done, in nearly every case, than something. This is because I have the media fueled opinion that they're nearly all useless, self-important idiots that wouldn't respect the constitution even were I beating them with it.

  • ||

    For any who like some really wicked satire, the poster "iowahawk" has a website that is definitely worth reading. He isn't as sexually brutal as our own Nutrasweet, but deliciously evil none the less.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Naturally, i have resumed his plans for the secession of Tennessee.



    Can you take Kentucky and Alabama with you? We can call it "The People's Democratic Republic of Redneckistan".

  • ||

    TAO, don't throw me in with them damned yankees!

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Man, even Alabamans don't want Kentucky. Will no one rid me of this meddlesome home of SugarFree?

  • ||

    He isn't as sexually brutal as our own Nutrasweet

    Stop flirting. I'm married.

  • ||

    I like it, iowahawk. Very good "fake news" format and funny.

  • Xeones||

    Can you take Kentucky and Alabama with you? We can call it "The People's Democratic Republic of Redneckistan".

    Fuck no. They can Balkanize they own selves.

  • ||

    Will no one rid me of this meddlesome home of SugarFree?

    Kentucky's a mongrel state anyway, break it up.

    Louisville think it's Indiana (I can't imagine why), Northern KY thinks it's Ohio. Southern KY is North Tennessee, Western Kentucky is Missouri/Southern Illinois (those freaks barely even have an accent), and Eastern KY strives every single day to out "West Virginia" West Virginia.

    The only part of Kentucky that wants to be Kentucky is Central Kentucky (i.e. Lexington) and it's under siege from the rest of them.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    but they would have a lot of guns! And your main exports could be moonshine and squirrel meat.

  • comrade||

    T-Frank is a fuckwit. The subtitle of one of his anti-cap books was "extreme capitalism, market populism, and the end of economic democracy". No comment required.

  • ||

    He isn't as sexually brutal as our own Nutrasweet

    Stop flirting. I'm married.


    I am not flirting. I am simply appreciative that I can show my wife someone who is more sick than am I. Any time she says "you are a sick bastard" I can reply "but not as sick as SF"!

  • ||

    Any time she says "you are a sick bastard" I can reply "but not as sick as SF"!

    It is a relief to be of use to someone.

  • ||

    The squirrels drank all the moonshine. And then got a hold of the guns :-(

  • ||

    Iowahawk's site is highly recommended. An excerpt, if I may:

    Afterwards, when we have reached consensus, there will be hot makeup majority opinions.

    That's some funny shit.

  • ||

    Greatest things about KY:

    The road construction signs read: "Whoa, baby, whoa. Leave the racin' to the horses." I like.

    The water tower on I-75 in Florence that says, in giant red letters: "Florence, y'all!"

    No state taxes on hooch.

  • ||

    FermatsLastFlameWar,

    Sadly, April 1st, we went to 6%.

  • iowahawk||

    Well garsh, thanks for kind words. Since this post is ostensibly about Ezra the K and the Pimple Cream Mafia, here's an old bit of mine that's somewhat on topic:

    The JournoList Chat Room

  • ||

    Say it ain't so. I've been out of Cinci for awhile but we used to cross the bridge all the time to stock up. Bummer. I always kind of liked KY and defended her up here in New England.

  • Warty||

    Northern KY thinks it's Ohio

    No, southern Ohio thinks it's Kentucky.

  • ||

    The squirrels drank all the moonshine. And then got a hold of the guns :-(

    So we can assume the streets of Kentucky are safer, now.

  • ||

    Hey, that chat room thing was pretty funny! One of my favorite blogs (othercrap.com) occasionally links to Iowahawk; I gotta check it out more often.

  • ||

    No, southern Ohio thinks it's Kentucky.

    Either way, they can have each other.

  • ||

    Warty FTW. Southern Ohio is a different civilization from Akron, Canton, and Cleveland (aka the "good parts").

  • ||

    Yeah, it's easy to confuse Southern and Northern Ohio. I like to remember that Southern Ohio is the one with any jobs left whatsoever.

  • Warty||

    SugarFree, it's always amazed me how if you get 30 miles or so south of Columbus, all the people have hillbilly accents. Does something similar happen 30 miles north of Lexington?

  • ||

    Well garsh, thanks for kind words. Since this post is ostensibly about Ezra the K and the Pimple Cream Mafia, here's an old bit of mine that's somewhat on topic:

    The JournoList Chat Room


    David, I have had your site bookmarked for some time now. The linked to piece, Pure. Comedy. Gold.

  • ||

    FermatsLastFlameWar,

    Nice try.

    http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2009/07/unemployment_increased_in_82_o.html

    Northeast Ohio continues to have some of Ohio's lowest unemployment rates. Experts attribute lower joblessness to local economies that tend to be more diverse than in parts of the state dependent on one or two industries.

  • Warty||

    Southern Ohio is a different civilization from Akron, Canton, and Cleveland (aka the "good parts").

    Don't get uppity. I fully recognize that NEO, in addition to being my beloved home, is a shithole.

  • Warty||

  • ||

    Mostly, but we have smattering of city goats as well. Lexington is a city of "immigrants." The native population is dwarfed by the people who come here to go to school or work and never leave. (I'm not criticizing, I'm one myself.)

    But the thick Southern accent is an affectation around here. There are plenty of people who don't talk that way that anyone could learn to be intelligible. I live in a 1950s "suburb" that is about 5 minutes by car from the city center. The next door neighbor's daughter, who grew up in that house, and makes Foghorn Leghorn sound like a Oxford undergrad.

  • ||

    obligatory

    I knew I should have preemptively linked that. Well played. At least a Cleveland native made it.

  • ||

    Not being uppity; honestly, it was just that my mind immediately went to the fake tourism board commercials for Cleveland that have been on youtube for awhile. Hilarious, and sad at the same time.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysmLA5TqbIY

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZzgAjjuqZM

    The truth is that the state as a whole is pretty thoroughly screwed. NCR leaving Dayton, GM leaving everywhere, steel industry dying out...it's a mess. But hey, you have Cedar Point up there and that is pretty big. I'm being serious, that place is objectively awesome.

  • ||

    obligatory

    And I'm late to the party once again

  • Warty||

    Skip Cedar Point and drive 20 minutes west to Camp Perry. Best place on earth.

  • JB||

    I love the Journolist. It's good to have a list of some of the biggest fuckbags out there.

    When it comes time to start dealing with the Obama zombies, that will be a good place to start.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    "The major bias here is on the part of the media. If Americans had truthful information, our politics would be much more progressive."

    Is it just me, or is this the most deranged statement you've heard this morning??


    It is the most deranged statement that I have heard in the past few months .

  • alan||

    I hate Ezra Klein and Matt Yglesias SO FUCKING MUCH.

    I see gainful employment in their future. Perhaps a jumpsuit and a mop will be involved, however it is too early to tell. It could very well be skip hopping on the back of a garbage truck for the more fortunate and more dexterous of the two. It is all too apparent when you read their drivel at some point in their aptitude test scores got switched with those of some smart kids.

    At some point in this down turn the opinion blog market will burst and those whose give little bang for the buck will have to find something more constructive to accomplish with their limited skill set.

  • ||

    So, I guess these "progressive" folk who want to end the filibuster are angry that Chuckie Schumer used it to torpedo the concealed carry reciprocity amendment?

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    And the "progressives" still want to know: What's the Matter With Kansas?



    Kansas's image problem is bad enough that telling my then colleagues in the deep south that I'd accepted a job out on the prairie brought on smirks and jokes about the backwards locals I'd have to live with.

    Note that the Alabamians weren't worried about the guns or the fiscal restraint angle.

  • alan||

    Or, maybe I could hire them to edit out the extra preposition or two that always seems to get lodged in my post.

  • iowahawk||

    Coastal media's Gorillas-In-The-Mist coverage of heathen Midwesterners is always good for unintended laughs, but "WTMWKansas" has the added hilarity of Thomas Frank, starring as the Noble Savage who escaped the surly bonds of his village yurt to be educated by his kindly grad school Po-Mo missionaries. Now civilized in the genteel ways of the White Liberal Man, he entertains his redeemers with shocking tales of his native tribe's bizarre and primitive ways.

    Umm, Thomas Frank? Take the eagle feather out of your hat band, Tonto. Dude, you grew up in an upper middle class suburb of Kansas City, and have about as much expertise on the rural midwest as Perez Hilton has on Nascar.

    [For the record, native of Lawton IA (pop. 600), grew up on a 640 acre family farm]

  • ||

    Sullum was wrong, the filibuster isnt undemocratic. It just fulfills a need that should be more readily used in democracies -- requiring higher than majority to pass measures.

    Lets take criminal behavior for example. Should it really only take 51% to crinalize an act? For things like murder/rape/burglury etc, you can get at least 90% majorities to support making them illegal. That seems like a reasonable standard to me to take away someone's freedom. If you cant get a 90% vote, it doesnt pass.


    I'm gonna go farther than RobC on this. ANY legislation whatsoever should take 90% approval to enact, and should have a sunset date at which it will automatically expire unless reauthorized with another 90% vote.

    The only thing that should be allowed to pass on a 51% vote is legislation repealing an existing law.

    Legislation has a strong bias toward taking away liberty. Unless you can muster overwhelming majorities in favor of something, it's probably about the majority oppressing the minority.

  • ||

    Just to add to the iowahawk love:

    Best. Comedy. On. The. Intertubes.

    No exceptions. Second place hasn't even entered the stadium yet.

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